Dawn Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2016)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink, friends and readers.  Once more it’s my time to travel to Pennsylvania for the Monster Bash Convention, something that Juliet and I look forward to every year as we both love classic monster movies as well as enjoy Cranberry Township and all the wonders around it, from Evans City Cemetery to New Dimension Comics and everything in-between. This year I was really looking forward to spending some time with my lady and enjoy my time away from work and the stresses of TV Show making and comic book creating.  The start of this year was not a pleasant one for me as not only did my cousin Norman pass away, but I also had some stress health issues that were a major pain and downer.This year’s convention guests include Audrey Dalton from films like “Mr. Sardonicus” and “The Monster The Challenged The World”, Jimmy Hunt from “Invaders From Mars” as well as Horror Hosts like Son Of Ghoul and Chilly Billy Cardille in what could be his final convention appearance. So you, my readers and friends, are welcome to jump into the backseat of our Mazda 3 and go on another fun filled trip to Pittsburgh for Monster Bash.  For this update I am very happy to say we will be covering the George A Romero film Dawn Of The Dead as well as the IDW adaptation of this cult classic and iconic zombie film. So jump on in, and let’s have some fun with classic monsters and a town that almost seems like a second home to Juliet and me as we travel to Monster Bash 20016!

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On July 7th 2016 we started our quest for Monster Bash and stopped first at Ghostlight Coffee to get some good drinks to start our over 4 hour quest. On the drive we listened to two more chapters of the audio book “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” and chatted about Stan Lee and the mismanagement of Marvel Comics in the mid to late 90’s. In-between Ohio and West Virginia we stopped to get some lunch at Ruby Tuesday where I munched down on a New York strip steak and a baked potato.  The meal was pretty good and nothing too special. But outside by the Ruby Tuesdays was a strange giant McDonalds billboard with a sinister looking Ronald McDonald that was hidden in the woods…very strange indeed. The drive was smooth for the most part; we did run into some very wicked traffic in one section, but during this time we just chatted about comics and what our plans were for the following days. Once we hit our official hotel, the Comfort Inn of Cranberry Township, we checked in and loaded in our bags and for dinner decided to order the classic Eat’n Park where I got my usual liver and onions with mashed potatoes and rice, while Juliet ate chicken with sweet potato fries and strawberries. That night we watched some TV, and while Juliet read her book and played on her iPhone, I read a comic with thoughts of Monster Bash running in my head as a quick rain storm came down outside. A good first day and a very low key evening.

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The second day, we woke up around 9:30am, and after getting ready, we had some breakfast from Einstin Bros. where I had a tasty sausage, egg and cheese bagel with orange juice to drink.  Due to some electric issues, they gave us our meal for free! Once done, we had to find something to do to kill time until 3pm when Monster Bash opened and decided to drive around and just see some of the sights that include weird blocked off roads and a place called “Fun Fore All,” an arcade, miniature golf and family fun center. After the drive we stopped back at the hotel and waited for The Bash. When the time ticked down, I wondered what kind of theme car would be out front and more importantly what the statues were going to be this year as my guess would be aliens from Invaders To Mars, but again only a guess. We ate lunch at Max & Erma’s and headed to Monster Bash, and man was I hyped to get this convention adventure started. Walking across the parking lot, we noticed that there was no monster car up front and once entering the Hilton were the convention is held at, we noticed that major remodeling was going on and this worried me as the place where the statues have always been was gone. But after buying our three day badges, we quickly found them and I must say I was WAY OFF on what they were this year. The statues this year were the old woman from House On Haunted Hill, Frankenstein’s Monster and the Christopher Lee version of The Mummy. Walking around we saw lots a great classic monster stuff like posters, DVDs, comics, magazines, shirts and so much more. We saw familiar faces like Ken and Pam who own and run Cinema Wasteland, Jill from Lix Online and Horror Host Son Of Ghoul. A highlight of the day was when Juliet got to see original screen used props used in her favorite science fiction film “Forbidden Planet” including a very cool UFO. We walked around a while and enjoyed the world that is Monster Bash, and after awhile walked back to our hotel and read some comics and books and planned for dinner and a movie on the laptop for the night.

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For dinner who chose Wing Kings as they seem to be our go-to when it comes to eating and watching a movie on our trusty old laptop, and the film of the night we selected was the 1975 film Inn of the Damned as it was one I had seen many years back on VHS and how can you go wrong with a western horror film..right? From Wing Kings I ordered 12 garlic wings to keep the vampires away as well as some onion rings. Juliet ordered 6 Garmesan wings (a mix of garlic and parmesan cheese) and some Jalapeno Poppers, and we sat in our chairs and ate our food and watch a horror motion picture. The wings and the onion rings were fantastic, and Wing Kings really hit the spot.  The movie Inn Of The Damed was as weird, long and dumb as I remember it being when I saw it as a teen. I would say this was a great meal with a cheesy horror film that was a good combination for the night and a great way to end the evening.

Monster Bash 2016 Day 1 Dinner and a Movie

So your wondering what my first day haul was right? Well let me share with you my treasures this time around. I got the documentary DVD “Creature Feature 60 Years Of The Gil-Man” for $20.00. I also picked up the DVD-R’s for “Inn Of The Damned” for $5.00 (it’s the Cheezy Flix release) and a classic black and white chiller called “Valley Of The Zombies” for $10.00. I ended up finding some comics this first day like Attack Of The Mutant Monsters # 1 for $3.00, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes Graphic Novel for only $6.00, Giant-Size Man-Thing # 2 for $3.00, Chamber Of Chills # 6 for $4.00, Worlds Unknown # 3 for $5.00, Hellraiser/Nightbreed Jihad # 1 for $5.00 and lastly The Tomb Of Dracula # 26 for only $4.00! Over all a pretty good haul but nothing to special but all worth buying in this monster kids head.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 1

We started day three around 8:30am, and after getting ready and watching a little TV, we went to brunch at a place right next door to the hotel called Pig Iron (not to be confused with the Zoo Crew member from DC Comics) where I had Chorizo Hash that was mighty tasty. Before brunch we also hit New Dimension Comics, and I found lots of great reads like some issues of Captain America, Night Of The Living Dead, Marvel Tales and Werewolf By Night. Plus at the comic shop I found the only missing issue of Marvel’s The Frankenstein Monster which means I now I have the full run. After brunch we walked back over to Monster Bash and found that a replica of the Ecto-One from Ghostbusters was parked outside, and this sparked a convention between Juliet and I on how cosplay Ghostbusters are taking over conventions. Once inside we walked around and I kept my eyes open for David “The Rock” Nelson as I wanted to buy some of his films, but sadly the quest today came back empty-handed. I did finally get my picture taken with John Russo, the man who helped create the “Living Dead” universe and picked up a few items before we decided to wonder back to our hotel and plan the rest of the days adventure. Below are some pictures from the second day of Monster Bash including the picture of me and John Russo.

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The second day Monster Bash haul was pretty weak with me only picking up three items! First, I got another DVD-R copy of the Paul Naschy film Vengeance Of The Mummy aka Mummy’s Revenge for the overprice of $20.00.  This will mark my third attempt at watching this movie on a DVD-R! I got the Marvel Magazine size comic adaptation for the film Meteor for only $3.00.  And lastly, the best find of the day is a Golden Book graphic novel adaptation of the classic epic adventure film Clash of the Titans for $5.00! The second day’s haul, while light, still delivered some great things for me to read and watch…if this copy of Vengeance of the Mummy works.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 2

After Monster Bash and us coming up with a game plan, we settled on the fact we had to visit the Snowman again as I really needed a Yeti Shake! As we started on the magical road to The Snowman for our tasty cold treats, the poor Mazda 3 started to have issues, and we had to turn back around and return to the hotel.  Once back, we looked for a Mazda dealer to take the car to on Monday morning and worked on some Sparkle Comics business while the weather outside looked like a storm was blowing in. Because of the car issues, we were stuck for the evening at the hotel, and I took this time to read some comic books and work on some Rotten Ink updates as Juliet spent time writing and reading.  Dinner was coming up, and we picked the ever popular Eat’N Park as they were just across the street and we knew the food would hit the spot for this disappointing day. My meal once more was liver and onions with mashed potatoes with gravy, a sticky roll and rice and for a treat a Smile Cookie that’s a pirate in honor of the MLB team The Pittsburgh Pirates. After dinner and reading, I decided to watch some TV before bed and wondered how the third and final day at Monster Bash would go and hoped I could get some David “ The Rock” Nelson DVD’s as they would be the perfect films to cheer this Monster Kid up.

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Day three of Monster Bash and day four of our vacation started with breakfast from Einstein Bros and good talks about Dawn of The Dead and Sparkle Comics while eating.  Once done, we walked across the street for the final day of the convention, and my quest to buy David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs continued. Once we walked into the convention my quest came to an end, and I found David Nelson and chatted for a moment and picked up two of his films! For awhile we walked around and just looked at all the tables and made our final pick ups as the convention closed a few hours later. With the car being down still, we walked to Max & Erma’s for lunch and headed back to the hotel to work on some Sparkle Comics business and to read, watch TV and just have fun being around each other. Below are some pics I took of the last day of Monster Bash including a very cool Dr. Phibes statue and a bad ass Wolf Man painting, plus the picture of me and Independent film maker icon David “The Rock” Nelson with one of his horror characters, The Devil Ant.

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The third and final day of Monster Bash haul was the following items: the VHS of the cheesy film The Bat People for $4.00, the CD soundtrack to Demons 2 for $10.00, Hulk Hogan hosting the 1985 CBS Saturday Morning Cartoon previews on DVD-R for $10.00.  I also got two Horror Host DVD-R’s for $10.00 each that were Zacherley hosting a teen dance show called Disc-O-Teen and clips from Ghoulardi show.  My favorite pick ups for the day had to be the two David “The Rock” Nelson DVDs as I got the movies The Demon Monster From Outer Space and The Fishman for $20.00 each.  I always feel good supporting true independent filmmakers and David is a great guy! Over all I got some great things this Monster Bash and many of them will be talked about again here at Rotten Ink.

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 3

That night we ordered dinner from Pig Iron where I had a chorizo grilled cheese and fries, and we watched the Hulk Hogan 1985 Saturday Morning Cartoons preview that was not so much Hulk Hogan as it was Rowdy Piper doing a talk show style show with guests like Pee Wee Herman, New Edition and Patti LaBelle and in between showed quick clips of cartoons that would be airing on CBS. It was a fun watch as seeing Pee Wee and Piper talk to each other using sock puppets are things the 80’s were made of. After dinner we worked on more Sparkle Comics website stuff, and later I read some comic books that I picked up from New Dimension Comics days before. Over all the day was good but we both looked forward to getting the car fixed the next day so that we could zoom around town and visit some of our favorite sites in and around Mars.

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On Monday July 11th after the Mazda 3 was taken into the shop for some TLC, we finally got to go out and do things on this Dawn Of The Dead themed vacation. We ended up having to rent a car, but this helped us at least be able to go out and do things for this vacation and not be stuck in the hotel.  We first went out to lunch and had a good meal at Moe’s where a steak burrito was calling my name. After lunch we headed back to New Dimension Comics, and I bought a ton more comics as I found their dollar room. After walking out of New Dimension Comics with many issues of Incredible Hulk, Marvel Super Heroes and Detective Comics in hand, we went to TCBY so Juliet could get her yogurt for dessert as she was craving white chocolate mousse.  As for me, I did a weird mix of chocolate and strawberry with sprinkles. After driving around in traffic, we headed back to the hotel, and later that night we had dinner at Eat’N Park and then watched WWE Monday Night Raw on USA Network. Over all a fun day filled with great weather, comic books, good food and the friendly staff of all the places we visited. Check out the pics below for some of the highlights of the day!

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On Tuesday July 12, 2016 we had to squeeze so much fun things in one day as it was our last full day in Mars and also the last full day that we had the rental car. So we decided to first go see a movie at the Cranberry Cinemas and saw The Purge: Election Year at its first showing. I really love the Cranberry Cinema as it has the look and feel of a independent owned theater and has a personality that many of the giant chain theaters are lacking and makes me miss Dayton local theaters like Page Manor and Englewood Cinema even more. After the film we went and got some lunch from Moe’s, and the meal was good as always.  Then we headed toward a place that is a shrine of Pittsburgh film making as well as what I would say is “Graceland” of horror, Evan City Cemetery. When driving to the cemetery I was telling Juliet that I wished that Dayton has a location like this that was used in a horror film that made an impact to the genre. Once at the cemetery and driving up the lane, I spotted in the woods next to the road a rooster and a turkey hanging out together.  Now that was random and amazing! The weather was nice and warm with a cool breeze and walking around the cemetery always recharges my batteries and makes me want to be even more creative and to drive my self more when it comes to making a Horror Host show and comic books. Plus walking around with Juliet in this place is something special and something I look forward to every year. After Evan City Cemetery, we drove to The Snowman where I drank a Yeti Shake made with vanilla ice cream and blue raspberry shaved ice and watched the horses in the field next to this landmark. Once done we returned to the hotel and chatted, read some comics and watched TV and ate some Wing King for dinner and ended the day watching TV.  This was a great day that was super fun filled with good times and memories of why I love this town!

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On Wednesday July 13, 2016 we had to spend the morning returning the rental car and getting our car back and then hit the road back to good old Dayton and listened to the last chapter in “Marvel The Untold Story” and ended our Monster Bash Vacation…but this update has just started as we’re now going talk about Dawn Of The Dead, the second film in the Romero Dead series, and I review the IDW adaptation of this film. So let’s take a trip with the undead and chat about this beloved zombie film!

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In 1978, George A. Romero teamed up with Italian filmmaker Dario Argento to bring the movie going public a sequel to Night Of The Living Dead, and one of the worlds most classic zombie films was born, simply called Dawn Of The Dead.  Theater goers poured into the cinemas to watch as the living and the dead clashed once more in a battle of the living keeping their human sides in line as the dead do what they do and that’s eat. The start of Dawn of the Dead was in 1974 when George Romero went to the Monroeville Mall with his friend Mark Mason, who worked for a company that managed the mall.  After seeing all the ins and outs of the building and just how happy shoppers were, the idea of people surviving in a mall during a crisis became a joke between them that sparked the desire to start writing the script. Romero, along with his producer Richard P. Rubinstein, started to get investors, and when news broke of a Night Of The Living Dead sequel, Dario Argento jumped on board and helped get international investors among many other helpful things in return for international distribution. Once ready, they secured the Monroeville Mall and shooting started on November 13, 1977. The filming would start at 11pm and would end at 7am as during the day the mall was packed with holiday shoppers and doing late night shoots was better for not only the crew but also the mall. Other locations for filming included Harold W. Brown Memorial Airfield, Firearms Unlimited and Romero’s own studio, the Latent Image; all things in and around the Pittsburgh area. Shooting ended in February, 1978 and so began the editing of Romero’s next epic zombie film. The man behind the effects for the film is the master of splatter Tom Savini who also played one of the bikers in the film. In the lead roles are some fantastic actors all who are the true backbone of what makes this film work so well.  You have Ken Foree as Peter Washigton, David Emge as Stephen “Flyboy” Andrews, Gaylen Ross as Francine Parker and Scott Reinger as Roger DeMarco, not to mention such actors as David Early, Howard Smith and Jese del Gre, to name a few. Doing the music for the film is the Italian band Goblin, who scored many of Argento’s films as well as De Wolfe Music Library stock music. Romero has a cut of the film as does Agrento.  Each are different in many ways from music to runtimes as the US print is 127 minutes long, but Italy’s is 118 minutes long.  On top of that a “Directors” cut of the film was released on home video in the 90’s that is 137 minutes long! One of the biggest changes between the American version of Dawn of the Dead and the Italian version is that Romero’s is packed with comedy elements with the zombies being treated like jokes by a invading biker gang while Argento toned that way down and tried to keep the undead scary. The film also brought some very memorable zombies to the screen like Machete Kill Zombie, Helicopter Chop Top Zombie, and my favorite, the red flannel zombie; all of them gave the world of horror iconic scenes. The budget for Dawn of the Dead was $1.5 million, and it made $55 million at the box office, making it a huge hit for United Film Distribution who released the film. It was released with other 1978 horror films: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Damien: Omen II, Halloween, I Spit On Your Grave, Jaws 2, The Redeemer: Son Of Satan, Toolbox Murders and many others.  While Dawn Of The Dead might not have brought in as much money as say Jaws 2, it is way more respected by Horror Fans around the world. Now I am sure many of you who have not watched this classic film are saying, “but what’s the film about?” We will cover that with the IDW Comic Adaptation reviews.

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Growing up I was (and still am) obsessed with the Romero Dead films.  You long time readers know about my first time seeing Night Of The Living Dead on broadcast TV and seeing Day Of The Dead on the USA Network in my past reviews for the Monster Bash vacations that featured the Prelude and Aftermath of Night Of The Living Dead as well as the Fantaco Adaptaions of Night; not to mention my USA Saturday Nightmare update where I covered other films I have on DVD taped off the USA Network including Day Of The Dead that was given to me by my pal Jason Young. The first time I saw Dawn of The Dead was on a VHS copy of the film my brother had bought on a boring weekend.  We made a whole night of watching it that included snacks and making dinner that consisted of boxed spaghetti that I could swear he used to live on.  I took my place sitting on the floor with my bowl of spaghetti, bag of Andy Capp Hot Fries and my glass of Mountain Dew and was glued to the TV as I watched one of the most iconic and beloved Zombie films ever made.  I was drawn into the dark mood and grim nature of the events that were unfolding before my eyes. I can remember going from amazed to annoyed as the bikers entered the mall and began throwing pies into the faces of the undead.  I didn’t understand why the zombies were being treated like jokes taking away their scare appeal. After the film was over I can remember my brother and I chatting about it, breaking down scenes and talking about our favorite kills and zombies from the movie. My favorite character was Peter, and I can remember my brother and I laughing and joking about Flyboy and how he kept screwing up at major times during their flight to get to shelter and even in the mall. Dawn of the Dead will always have a special place in my heart as watching it with my brother was a fun memory, and I can still remember the the pure enjoyment as I watched the horrors of the living dead unfold before my very eyes. To this day I own the clam shell Thorn Video VHS release of this film and must say that the film is definitely in my top 10 zombie films of all time!

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The Goblin score for Dawn of The Dead (Zombi) is one of the best in the world of horror films as each track fits the scene it accompanies.  The main title is so iconic, it makes almost everyone’s top 10 list of best scores in horror history. There’s something about the way the score just makes the scenes pop, and the opening title sends shivers down the listeners’ spines. If you’re a fan of this score, you can find in on CD and vinyl, and it’s well worth the purchase. I also want to note that I play tracks off this soundtrack all the time on the WYSO show Alpha Rythems. Just wanted to touch up on this score as I truly think it’s one of the best in the horror film world. Plus the song called “The Gonk” that is played as one of the muzak songs in the mall is also the end credits theme done to the beat of chickens for the stop motion show Robot Chicken. I want to also note that the first time I ever owned this soundtrack was thanks to a old website called Rogers Basement that used to have custom made soundtracks.  He had one called The Dead Trilogy and had the music for Night, Dawn and Day as well as dialogue from all three films.

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Did you know that Dawn Of The Dead had it’s own strategy board game? I first learned about the game in the mid 1990’s thanks to my friend Geoff Burkman (who I’ve known since I was a kid.  I job shadowed him when I was 16, and we watched Dawn of The Dead to see if we could spot Gaylen Ross’s nipple in a scene!) who had the game and told me all about it.  You see, Geoff is a huge fan of the Romero dead films and even played a zombie in Day of The Dead…but that’s for a future update. When I started working at Game Swap in Kettering, a man named Martin started showing up and bringing in tubs and tubs of horror toys, movies, posters, comics, magazines and board games and in his collection that he was selling was the Dawn Of The Dead board game. This year I asked for a reunion of the Dayton Board Game Society so that we could play this game and the the group and I could share our thoughts on it.  The players were Josh Weinberg who was Fran, my Cousin Stephen Alexander playing as the Zombies, Jeremy Hoyt took the role of Roger, Thomas “Maurice” Smith was Peter and I played as Flyboy. The game was very strategy-based and Josh, Jeremy, Thomas and I had to think wisely as the goal for us as the human survivors was to lock all the mall entrances, get the rifles for Steve and Fran and lastly kill all the zombies left in that mall. The zombies goals are to kill at least three of the players, and if Fran dies the game is over.  They also try to infect the survivors, and once infected they can be turned into a “Super Zombie” and can amp up the other nearby zombies and add to the players’ panic meters. We decided to shorten the game and just go for the shutting of the doors as we bent the rules a little as really it was made only for four players with two playing as the zombies and two playing the survivors.  But we added one extra player and only had one man playing the zombies.  The reason for shortening of the game was that it was getting to be over two hours just to complete that task. Peter, Roger and Fran survived the game, and Flyboy was infected and later become a Super Zombie, but I must say I was proud that as Flyboy I was able to lock two of the doors before I was killed. Over all the game was lots of fun and was a good and spooky time to play with great friends. So if you and your friends are into table top games and are looking for something to play this Halloween season, I would suggest Dawn Of The Dead as we all had a good time playing it.  I am sure that if we played by the official rules it would have been equally as enjoyable.

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Besides the board game, soundtrack and home video releases of Dawn, some other great merchandise has been made based on this cult classic zombie film like t-shirts, posters, a homebrew Atari 2600 game, hats, books, magazines and of course action figures. Two companies stepped up and made figures based on this film.  The first was Reds Inc. whose designs were cheap and were not the major must have items for fans and collectors. The next company to make figures was NECA, and their figures were way better in detail and quality.  These figures were very much must-haves for fans as I can remember Andy Copp wanting them when released and had me order them for him when I worked at Mavericks. So if you’re a fan of Dawn Of The Dead, you can find yourself some great official and unofficial merchandise. Below are some pictures of the action figures that were made of characters from the film.

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The film has many memorable zombies, from the Hare Krishna Zombie all the way to Machete Zombie, but for me the stand out and the most iconic from the film has to be the poster boy known as Plaid Shirt Zombie, a tall undead bold flesh eater that our heroes run into at the airfield and who meets his fate from Roger’s gun. This grey skinned flannel shirt wearing zombie is so iconic that he has his own Halloween Mask as well as a zombie in the hit AMC TV show The Walking Dead was made up to look like him in a episode.  Paul Musser is the man who played Plaid Shirt Zombie and is pretty much only known for playing this role. Below is a picture of Plaid Shirt Zombie from Dawn of the Dead, and the two following pictures are him from The Walking Dead. This is update is in honor of you, Paul Musser, for playing one of the best zombies of cinema.

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On October 18, 2015 I finally bit the bullet and visited the Monroeville Mall.  I had heard rumors from so many people that the mall was not a safe place to be and that it was rundown and filled with shady characters, who wanted to rob you of your cash.  Plus it’s been said that the mall has changed so much that things didn’t look the same as they did in 1978. But Juliet and I were in town to meet Blue Demon Jr., and our great friends Pat Steele and Ann Rotolante were also in town and it was fun showing them the Evans City Cemetery as well as the Dead Museum.  The mall was on their must-see list as Ann is a huge Romero fan, and Juliet and myself had always wanted to visit it so it seemed like a great day to do so as the weather was cold, cloudy and rainy.  When setting up our trip to the mall, I talked to my friend David who knows a guy who gives big tours of the mall and shows you places scenes were shot and even could get us on the roof, but David informed us the night before we visited the mall that his friend had a family emergency and could not do the tour, but this didn’t stop us and we went anyway.  Below are my thoughts and feelings about visiting the main set for one of world’s most important zombie films, Dawn of the Dead.  So follow me into the Monroeville Mall!

Monroeville Mall

On the drive up to the mall’s parking lot I kept humming songs from the film as Juliet would chuckle, and upon entering the parking lot I noticed the place had a good amount of cars with many people heading into the main entrance as well as many of the big stores entrances like JC Penny. When entering the mall, a rush of horror nostalgia swept over me as I realized so many great actors like Ken Foree, David Emge, Scott Reiniger and Gaylen Ross stepped into that mall and acted out war alongside extras as zombies and bikers.The mall was filled with lots of empty storefronts and had a clash of old indoor mall appeal mixed with a modern 90’s updated look.  We walked around the upstairs looking for any kind of familiar sites or even some sort of plaque stating that this was the mall from the film.  While some spots triggered memories of the film, we walked past a vape store that was playing Dawn Of The Dead on a big screen TV and that helped add to the mood of the mall.  Also upstairs, in one of the side entrances, was a giant mural the depicted lots of classic stuff from Pennsylvania like Mr. Rogers and yes, a zombie.  Walking around we took many pictures of hallways, doors, stores and elevators all the while having good conversations about Dawn Of The Dead among other topics. Juliet was happy when she spotted a TCBY.  So naturally we all had to have a small bowl of frozen yogurt as we continued our quest of the mall. The mall had a giant Cinemark Movie Theater in it, and this made me flashback to the days of Dayton Mall having one. The ground floor was more of the same with stores like Spencer’s and no clear signs of objects or landmarks from the film.  One cool store had something called Zombieburgh Lazer Tag in it, showing the owner embraced the history of the mall. Finally toward the end of our tour of the mall, Ann found tucked away down a small hallway some photos and a plaque for Dawn Of The Dead as well as a room that read “Muzak Room.”  While small, it was very cool to see that they gave the film some love and added to our growing collection of pictures. After we were done and leaving the mall, it was nice to reflect on Dawn Of The Dead and just how Romero made so many places landmarks for horror fans in Pittsburgh.  At the time we came, the mall was not filled with shady people but normal families and lots of hot woman in tight pants, and not once did I feel like someone was up to no good. I was sad that the bridge, clock and fountain were all gone but times change and sadly in the world of corporate malls, those items take up room that could be used for vending machines or another lame pretzel cart. I’m very glad to have gone to the Monroeville Mall and to have spent time there with people who also love the history and atmosphere of this landmark. Below are some more pictures from the mall that I took while I was there.

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So there you have it, I wandered the halls of the Monroeville Mall just like so many zombie fans before me, and I can’t stress how amazing it felt to be there. While not as special to me as the Evan City Cemetery, it still is a must visit for fans of the Romero Dead series. So while I sit here in the hotel room in Mars, PA, I think it’s time for me to start taking a look at the IDW comic adaptation of Dawn of the Dead and see how well they capture the bone chilling magic of the film. I want to think Ebay, Dark Star and Bell Book And Comic for having these in stock and as always must remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So let’s head out to the mall with Fly Boy and see what kind of undead fun we can stir up!

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Dawn Of The Dead # 1 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 1 of 3

Fran is asleep and wakes up at her job at the TV station during a debate between a host and his guest. The doctor is talking about the dead coming back to life and eating the living, and worse, the station is showing outdated safe zones causing people to die by trying to reach them as the station manager is still worried about ratings.  Fran is met by her boyfriend Steven who is the station’s helicopter pilot and wants her to meet him on the roof later so the pair can escape using it. Meanwhile, downtown a SWAT team is surrounding a building being overrun by a gang, and they soon find out that besides the gang, the building is filled with normal residence as well as zombies.  Roger is a good team member and is friends with Steven.  He’s suppose to escape with them as well, but when he meets fellow SWAT member, Peter, they bond over the horrific things they are having to do in this building killing zombies.  Roger invites Peter to get away with them. The helicopter is ready and Steven, Fran, Roger and Peter all get aboard and while flying high above see that the zombies are everywhere and that humans are trying to fight back. Stopping at a small airfield, they have run ins with some zombies and tension between Peter and Steven breaks out as by accident Steven almost shoots Peter while trying to kill a zombie. They are low on fuel and need a place to sleep and soon find a giant mall and land on it’s roof.  The parking lot is filled with the undead, and they decide to go into the mall to look around.

This first issue in the adaptation of the cult zombie film Dawn Of The Dead packs a punch but also pulls many of its powerful blows as many iconic scenes from the film have been cut for this comic book. Gone are many of the scenes of Peter, Roger and the SWAT Team blowing away zombies in the apartment building.  Gone is Peter having to shoot the zombie kids at the small airfield.  Gone is Steven and Fran fighting for their lives against zombies in the hanger on the airfield as well as the iconic zombie who gets his head chopped off by the helicopter twirling blades. I do understand that things would have to be chopped out of this adaptation of a over two hour film to be able to fit into three issues  that total only 26 pages each, but these things I mentioned are things that should not be cut as they are very iconic scenes in the movie. But even with these cuts, I still found this IDW Comic to be very entertaining, and it captures the emotion and characters of the film pretty well on the slick comic pages. Fran and Steven come off as a loving couple who are both bull headed yet will watch out for each other no matter what, Fran has a sense of responsibility, and she goes into a rage when she finds out that the station she works for is giving out very outdated info to the public, while Steven is more a man who wants to protect himself and those he cares about. Roger and Peter are SWAT team members who have a terrible job of clearing out a apartment building where the residents are hiding the undead as well as gang members, and this sets them off to run away and go on a unknown quest with Steven and Fran in the helicopter. All the characters are very likable right now with Peter being my favorite as one panel shows him crying for having to slaughter some zombies, but he is still as tough as nails. The zombies are everywhere but have not been too much of a major threat yet for our survivors, and the classic Plaid Shirt Zombie is played down but still present. I can’t wait to see more zombies become more threatening and add that true gloom and doom to our story. The comic is pretty bloody and filled with gore as many zombies and people are blown away complete with brains and guts spewing everywhere.  The zombies do get to bite the flesh off of some humans making it feel slightly like a gore comic…with my favorite kill of the comic being the head shot of a SWAT member by the hand of a gang member as the panel is gross and well done. The cover is pretty sweet and has the feeling of the late 70’s mixed with a independent comic cover of the early 2000’s. The art inside is done by Chee Yang Ong, and it’s fantastic as he knows how to draw zombies and has many times with his work on other undead titles like Wake The Dead and Zombie Tales. Over all, this is a great comic adaptation, one that captures the mood and feeling of being here in Pittsburgh. Let’s see what issue two has to offer as we now enter the mall.

Dawn Of The Dead 2

Dawn Of The Dead # 2 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 2 of 3

The survivors enter the mall from a skylight and find cases of spam to eat and a small safe room to rest in.  As Steven sleeps, Peter and Roger decide to hit the mall stores and try to get things they might need like a TV, radio and food, all the while dodging and killing the zombies that are wandering around inside the mall. The noise of gun fire awakens Steven who decides to go down and help, along they way he picks up the blue prints of the mall and is attacked by a zombie lurking in the shadows, but thanks to a handgun he found, he is able to save himself. Steven joins Peter and Roger, and together they get the supplies they need and find that ducts above the stores can lead them from store to store without being attacked by zombies. During this time they also decide that they may all just stay in the mall for awhile. Fran is pregnant, plus she wants to learn to fly the helicopter and come up with a plan to rid it of zombies and keep them out. The plan is for Fran to keep watch with a rifle on the mall’s roof, Peter and Roger to drive trucks to block the entrances and for Steven to fly high above them and keep watch in his helicopter. The plan is going well but Roger gets sloppy and is bitten by a zombie, and this marks him for turning into a undead flesh eater.  But before he turns, he wants to help ride the mall of the zombies. Thanks to the gun store and a prize car inside the mall the group is able to kill off all the zombies and bask in the glory that is the spoils and goods from the stores.

The heat is on for our survivors as they are faced with not only hordes of zombies but also the fact one of their own has been bitten and is dying and at some point will turn into a zombie.  The plot of this issue really has them at the mall discovering what treasures are inside the stores and working together to secure the mall and rid it of zombies. Fran is a little more on edge as she feels like they are treating her like a den mother and not a member of the team because she is going to have a baby, and I give her big props for standing her ground and demanding respect. Steven, Roger and Peter all have dreams of staying for awhile at the mall and relaxing and coming up with a plan as well as listening for any news on what’s happening in the outside world. The zombies, while slow, are flesh hungry and try as hard as their undead bodies will allow to attack, eat and kill our heroes, and sadly for Roger, he has chunks of his flesh eaten and now is infected with the disease that is bringing the dead back to life. This issue is blood and gore filled as well with many gruesome zombie deaths being present complete with exploding heads. So fans of blood soaked comics will be happy as the splatter is present and gore-tastic in nature. Like in issue one, many scenes are missing like Steven running from the zombie and wasting bullets trying to hit him in the boiler room, and many other scenes are cut or trimmed down. I will also say that while Peter is still my favorite character so far in the adaptation series, with Fran’s attitude change her character has broken out of being just a generic background character and into the front of the pack showing she has more to offer than just standing around whining about having to eat spam. The cover like before is great and show cases zombies as well as the iconic Dawn of The Dead logo, and the art is once more done by Chee Yang Ong and looks great. I do need to make the comment that the characters look nothing like the actors who play the parts in the film, but they hold all the characteristics of them to make it work. This issue is not only very horror themed but also has the drama appeal that made the film so iconic.  So over all we have another great issue in this Pittsburgh zombie cult classic adaptation.  Let’s see what issue three has in store for us.

Dawn Of The Dead 3

Dawn Of The Dead # 3 ***
Released in 2004    Cover Price $3.99    IDW    # 3 of 3

They clean up all the zombie bodies and place them into the freezers to kill the smell and tighten and lock all the doors.  The mall is theirs, and they go on a shopping spree and enjoy the spoils of their hard and dangerous work. Things are not all good are Roger is becoming more and more sick, and death is near for him.  Fran, Steven and Peter wait in the other room as Roger is dying and watch the news that features more arguments and less reason to why the dead are rising. Roger dies and returns as a zombie, and Peter is waiting for him and quickly kills his close friend. Time passes and Fran learns how to use the helicopter, and while training, a group of bikers spot them and decide they want what’s in the mall and don’t mind killing to get it. They enter the mall, and by opening the doors, thousands of zombies also enter causing an all out war that leaves many of the bikers dead, tons of zombies dispatched and poor Steven dead and now a zombie. Peter and Fran wait for an hour in their mall hideout home, and finally the zombie come calling lead by Zombie Steven.  Peter kills him and urges Fran to leave as he will not be joining her…as she is about to fly away, Peter changes his mind of committing suicide and decides to join her on the escape. As they fly away the helicopter has very little fuel and the whole area is covered in zombies, making it clear that no matter how far they run the zombie will be there.

Dawn Of The Dead Lite is the best way to sum up what this three issue comic series is and while that might sound like I am saying it’s bad, I am not as I found myself fully enjoying it and loving every undead blood soaked moment. The reason I call it lite is many scenes and iconic characters seem to be missing from this comic adaptation, and with this issue many moments came to mind that are just nowhere to be seen or are so chopped up and shorten they seem like they are missing. Iconic moments like the Hare Krishna Zombie trying to attack Fran is gone, the Machete Head Zombie and his scene of the blade going into his skull is gone…in fact the whole climax of the biker gang invading the mall and running wild is so cut down they seem like just a small plot ink blot to move the zombie back into the mall. Now as I said before I understand things needed to be cut and trimmed in order to fit into three issues of a comic book, but to remove iconic characters and scenes seem very silly. I mean the talk show host and doctor arguing over zombies is left in but no Hare Krishna Zombie death? It j seems like a very odd choice of things to keep and things to cut. I should also note that the Hare Krishna Zombie does make an appearance in the comic, but his death and attack on Fran does not. Plus the comic at times does some odd things like for some reason a Elvis Presley Zombie is the first zombie to come through the elevator and try and eat a hurt Steven…why? But again while changes are present the comic holds a real charm to it and does a pretty dang good job of smashing all the drama elements into the pages, much like the film in the comic each character has their own personality and each are likable people that you find yourself cheering for to make it out of whatever situation they are in. Peter is clearly the man with the plan from the group, while Steven is the brains figuring out blue prints and escape routes. Roger is the wild card reckless but also skilled at tactics, and Fran is more of the voice of reason pointing out the dangers and also coming up with back-up plans. The bikers are a bunch of thieves who feel they are owned the stuff they steal who kill and destroy and to be fair when they are killed by the zombies or the bullets from the survivors guns you can’t help but feel that they deserved it. The bikers that are truly missed in this comic is Blades, played by Tom Savini (who is seen in just one panel), and the blood pressure machine using biker who gets eaten while testing it. The zombies are a threat in this issue as the hordes of them that enter the mall are hungry and want to chomp on any human they can get their rotten fingers on. The blood, guts and gore are present again in this comic and many of the deaths (or is the re-deaths?) in the comic are more graphic than those in the movie and that’s sure to please many gorehound comic fans of such titles as The Dead and the original Walking Dead. The cover for issue three is good but the weakest of the three, and the art inside is done by Chee Yang Ong again who really captures the zombie nature of the film. I wish IDW would do more of these horror movie adaptations or even original stories based on classic cult films.  So far, off the top of this comic reader’s head they have done Motel Hell, The Fly, Land of The Dead, Masters Of Horror and IT! Terror From Beyond Space, and all those were entertaining and well done for the most part minus The Fly. I would love to see them tackle the likes of Pumpkinhead, Killer Klowns From Outer Space and Night Of The Demons, to name a few. Over all, while it’s is not 100% perfect, this three issue Dawn of The Dead series hit home and was the perfect comic series to read during this vacation to Monster Bash. If you’re a fan of the Romero Dead films, check this one out and take a look below for a examples of Chee’s work in this comic series.

Dawn Of The Dead Art 1Dawn Of The Dead Art 2Dawn Of The Dead Art 3

So we are leaving the zombies of Dawn of The Dead behind as well as the 2016 vacation to Monsterbash and Pittsburgh and as always it was a blast and it’s a shame it had to come to an end. It’s always great to take in the local Pittsburgh eateries like Eat’N ‘Park, Wing Kings and The Snowman as well as support local businesses like New Dimension Comics, The Dead Museum and Cranberry Cinemas and visit iconic sights that horror classics like Night Of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead were filmed. And the thing that brings us to town is Monsterbash, a convention that feels like home and offers so much to an aging monster kid like myself. So I want to thank Juliet for always being not only my girlfriend but my Pittsburgh pal. I want to thank my co-workers at Game Swap Kettering for holding down the fort, and I also want to thank my cousin Stephen Alexander for feeding and watching over our two cats Leslie and Streets J while we were out of town. And a big thank you to everyone we meet while in Cranberry Township as they always make us feel welcome. In closing, Dawn Of The Dead is one of the most iconic zombie films ever made and George A. Romero could be one of the best directors to make zombie films ever and thanks to IDW, we horror comic readers got to enjoy a pretty fun and bloody adaptation of this cult classic. Our next update will take us away from the undead and will pit DC Comics top detective Batman against the hairy beast man of the Himalayas the one and only Snowman. So forget about Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice this is the real battle you have been waiting for. So until next time, watch a zombie film or two, read a comic or three and as always support your local horror host! See you next time for this epic showdown!

Batman vs Snowman Logo

The Wonderful Wizard of Wally

Hey, all and welcome back! This time around we are going to take a look at one of Star Comics’ most popular home grown characters, Wally The Wizard. I first heard about Wally The Wizard via a free give away/very cheap subscription on the back of a box of cereal and sent away and got issue # 1 of Wally, Top Dog and Planet Terry for free/dirt cheap. While I didn’t know the character, I found myself liking his over all good nature. While Wally did pretty well for Star, it was lost in the sea of licensed based comics like Ewoks, Strawberry Shortcake, He-Man and many others making him not one most kids would talk about nor trade on the playground. While his impact not very huge, his books lasted for 12 issues longer than many of the licensed based titles, showing his sales had to be good enough to keep him afloat.

Speaking of afloat, here in and around Dayton we had many small movie theaters that aren’t owned by Showcase, The Rave or Regal, and sadly many of them over the past 15 years have slowly gone away.  I guess the small theaters can’t compete with the IMax and stadium seating. While we still have The Englewood Theater in Englewood, Little Art Theater in Yellow Springs and Neon Movies in Dayton, we have lost the likes of Chakeres The Kettering Theater, Flicker Palace in Huber Heights and most sad of all Page Manor in Fairborn. Let’s first talk about The Flicker Palace in Huber Heights, a small theater in the middle of strip mall that hosted many late night horror films and even was the first home of Horrorama (a charity event I’ve been helping with for the last 14 years or so).  Sadly I never got to step foot in Flicker but only heard the stories from friends like Andy Copp, Dr. Creep and Rick Martin about how cool the place was. I have gone and visited the run down shell that was Flicker over the years and when looking inside the windows you see that it has been gutted and I mean gutted.  From the floor up, it’s just one big empty room with gravel floor, It’s a shame that the owners of the strip mall decided doing this to the theater was a good idea and even more of a shame that no one bought this theater after closing and kept it going. Below is a picture of the theater and a picture of Andy Copp and Dr. Creep in the theater.
FlickerAndy and Dr Creep

Next up is the Kettering Theater, an amazing place to see movies when I was younger.  Sure, the seats were rock hard and you would leave with a backache, and sure, the popcorn tasted like it had been under a heat lamp for 3 months but it was still Kettering’s own little theater house before the jumbo movie house in the outside mall, the Greene, moved in. I remember going and seeing movies like Broken Arrow and Austen Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me at the theater and this is even where my brother meet Dr. Creep and sparked our love for the Dayton horror host before I even was in school. The theater’s exterior was an amazing classic style theater, and the inside was very old and should have been updated but the dirt inside also added to the charm of the theater. After the theater went under, the building sat empty for many years until in early 2013 a church bought it to transform into a new meeting place for their congregation.  So sadly, the epic Kettering Theater and its amazing building will now no longer be used for a movie going experience. Below is a pic of the theater, and the pic of my brother Bryan with Dr. Creep.

Kettering TheaterBryan and Dr Creep

Page Manor was the coolest small theater in the area and had not only two screens but also a very small video arcade and hosted lots of fun stuff from Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight to independent horror films that included one of my old shorts called Hellraiser Warehouse. One of my best memories was seeing Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation when it was finally released for its very small theatrical run and Page Manor was the only theater to pick it up. I was working at Kroger at the time and was a teen who loved horror films.  I became friends with Jason Shivadecker, a guy who was a few years older and who as well loved horror films and also made his own shot on video films. When we heard that Page was showing the new Texas Chainsaw, we were hyped and made sure to get tickets early and plan for this epic night of horror! We got to the theater early as did many fans who were waiting to see Leatherface do what he does best, and that’s when some odd early 20’s something kid was pacing around looking for someone to talk to him.  He targeted us and started to ramble on and on about how he had seen the movie every screening thus far at the Page and how he loved it and how it was the best in the series.  After a few minutes we were able to get away from this super fan and get a seat. We got our seats that were great, and the film started and what we saw was something that would stick with me, not because of the gore and scares but because the film was so silly and dumb that I had a blast watching it. After the film we drove around laughing at the film and then went to a party. Also at that theater I have been to Horrorama’s, late night horror shows put on by Andy Copp and so much more. This was my favorite theater in the area, and when it went under for the second time, a rumor was going around that it was coming back, but sadly this did not come to be and after a fire in the strip mall, it was the owners who decided to demolish the theater. Below is a pic of the great Page Manor as well as a screen grab of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Next Generation.

Page ManorLeatherface Jacks

One last one just because it was a fun place to see movies was Beavercreek Cinema that later became The Bargain Box Office.  It had multiple screens, terrible popcorn and hard seats but it was a fun time. I went to this theater when I was younger and saw films like Ghostbusters 2 and The Goonies their during their first run and saw second run films when it reopened and became the Bargain Box Office. One fun story I have about this place was when it re-opened my girl at the time, Jennifer, liked Kevin Smith movies while I on the other hand don’t like his work.  But being a trooper, I took her to see Clerks 2 and while being tortured with his unfunny dialogue, a miracle happened as a bat began flying all around the screen and in front of the projector and to me this was a sign from Count Dracula or Batman that I should be at home watching them on DVD. The Beavercreek Cinema is closed now and sits rotting in Lofino’s Shopping Center hoping one day to come back and spread the love of films.

Bargain Box Office

Those are just a drop in the hat of cool theaters that closed.  I mean I know I am not the only one who misses the movie theater that was inside the Dayton Mall. But with that let’s get away from movies on the big screen and take a look at a movie on the small screen as we talk about another Independent B Movie flick, this time directed by Matt Hoffman – none other than The Wolf Hunter or The Werewolf Hunter as it reads in the credits. After Werewolf of Ohio 2, we were on cloud nine, and this was our peak.  Many inside the group including myself really liked the idea of The Wolf Hunter character having his own spinoff movie and none spoke louder than Matt Hoffman who played the character for me. With Hoffman really wanting to play the character again, I went down into the cool basement that was Independent B Movie studios and wrote out a draft that took place before the character’s death and showed that he had his own major foe with a werewolf king called Malice. The script I wrote was about a cat and mouse game played between the two that left many dead and a final showdown that was to take place in some deep dark woods.  The film was to have a higher budget than any of the past films and was set to be the bloodiest one ever made. This, however, was not the case as Hoffman liked the script and went in to rework it, and took out lots of the blood and even the cat and mouse game and added more screen time for just the Wolf Hunter character who now was in 97% of the film, unlike the 75% that the original script had. All of Malice’s kills were cut, and he was pushed more into the background as an almost afterthought until the very end. The end battle was also changed and taken out of the woods and onto an old bridge that in my opinion worked even better than the woods! While at first I was a little annoyed that my script had gone through such a wild and extreme re-write, seeing how proud Hoffman was of this project made that go away fast, and I was happy for my friend who found a character he could truly bond with. Hoffman and I, with his script in hand, set out to cast it and we first hired Brandon Womeldorff as lead camera man and I took up being the second unit camera man. My good friend Patrick Neeley played Malice.  Josh Weinberg played Oliver another werewolf. Jason Gilmore played both werewolf Red-Eye and The Holy Bullet Man, and Amy Hoffman played Amber, the love interest of the Wolf Hunter and lastly we cast Geoff Burkman as Amber’s Father. The film’s plot followed The Wolf Hunter, a loner who takes a job rescuing a young woman named Amber from a werewolf named Oliver who when human loved her.  After her rescue, The Wolf Hunter finds that he himself is in love but makes the mistake of leaving her behind and she is killed by Malice, king of all Ohio werewolves. The rest of the film The Wolf Hunter tracks down and battles Malice to the “death” at an old covered bridge. Filming went fast, and the production had very little set backs and even less in-house fighting. One funny moment on the set had Jason Gilmore, who as Red-Eye fell into the waters of Caesar’s Creek, running around naked behind Matt Hoffman as he gave an on set interview and was clueless to the fact a naked man was moving around behind him. After the film wrapped, Brandon Womeldorff, Hoffman and myself headed to Fairmont and we edited it in two days.

Wolf Hunter VHS

After the film was done, a meeting was called for a screening of Hoffman’s first ever directed film, and the house was packed with almost everyone who was a part of Independent B Movie. Hoffman gave a brief introduction to his film, and then play was hit on the VCR and the film known as The Wolf Hunter started playing on the TV. After the meeting, the film was meet with mix reviews as most just picked it apart because Hoffman made it.  I for one think the film is super fun and cheesy and hits the spot when it comes to a late night flick watching. The film was then made on VHS and sold at conventions and did pretty well  Years later it would also get a DVD release that also sold well. The film also got a t-shirt based on one of the hunting scenes! The film has been reviewed on a number of websites and has mostly been meet with poor reviews because of its production value, but many of them point out the fun and silly over all nature of the film and see the camp value of watching it. Poor reviews aside, the film has built up a very small cult status and is still to this day talked about amongst the old group of movie making friends that made up Independent B Movie.

The Wolf HunterShowdownWolf Hunter 1

Wolf Hunter was filled with lots of “scary” werewolves that were said to haunt Ohio and here real quick, I would like to give you a quick rundown of each werewolf and how they came about. First, let’s take a look at Malice, who was played by Patrick Neeley.  The mask was bought at K-Mart during Halloween time by Hoffman who liked the look of the grey furred open mouthed mask. The character Malice was based on a short film script that was given to me many years before when I worked at Kroger as a bagger by a fellow bagger called Bark At The Moon. In the Bark script, Malice was a sorcerer who lived in the woods and was cursed by magic to become a blood thirsty werewolf. In The Wolf Hunter, we changed it so that Malice is and always has been a werewolf and alongside The Wolf Man (Werewolf of Ohio) has spread the curse all over Ohio. Malice is super strong and also super smart and is protective of his area that contains a covered bridge that acts as his home base.

Malice

The second werewolf is Oliver who was played by Josh Weinberg.  The mask was bought at Wal-Mart around Halloween time and was picked because I thought it looked like Oliver Reed’s werewolf in Hammer horror film Curse of the Werewolf. Oliver was purely based on that Hammer film, and his look in the film was as well, wearing a ripped up button up shirt and black pants.  From day one, Josh was the choice to play the part. When human, Oliver was a rich young man who was dating Amber, the daughter of a media store owner, and he was was attacked on his way home after a date and became a werewolf. Even as a werewolf, he held a love for Amber and kidnapped her and rushed into the woods of Oakwood, where he was attacked by The Wolf Hunter and Amber taken away from him. Oliver has brown fur and is strong but not a pure top powered werewolf.  He also is smart and seems to learn from his past mistakes. His home base is the woods around Oakwood, and he is very protective of his area.

Oliver

The last werewolf of the film is Red-Eye, who was played by Jason Gilmore who was going by the name Max Price, and the mask was bought at Wal-Mart and was very cheap and at first almost didn’t make it into the movie. Red-Eye was written into the film to open it up and be a target for The Wolf Hunter to show his hunting power. Red-Eye wore an old green button up shirt and tan pants and was rocking slick backed black hair and his face has brown. Red-Eye is a weak werewolf who is considered a bottom feeder who only feeds on the leftovers of more powerful werewolves. Red-Eye is weak and is very nervous around humans, and he has no home base area and spends his time roaming.

Red EyeThe Wolf Hunter has a legacy that pleases diehard fans and tickles the funny bones of those who see it as a cheesy action horror film. And while the film is no master piece and by most accounts is no budget trash, I for one am proud I had something to do with it and am even more happy to see my friend Matt Hoffman be so proud of a film he has his heart and soul in.

WH vs MaliceWolf Hunter DVDWH vs Malice Bridge

The new WWE Game has been titled “WWE 2K14” and is now being made by 2K Games after THQ sadly went out of business early in the year. This year, the theme went away from the Attitude Era and is now focused on “30 Years of Wrestlemania” where players get to play through some of the biggest matches in the event’s history like Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III and Hogan taking on Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI.  But as with last year some top names have been snubbed from being in the game and here is my top 5 list of wrestlers that 2K and WWE should be ashamed of themselves for not including them in the game.  I will also point out key matches that they were involved in.

WWE2K14 Hulk Hogan20909Hotspot-SingStar-80:Layout 1wwe2k14 ultimate warrior

I would also like to point out that while many wrestlers have been snubbed they did include a lot of great names: from the past like Andre The Giant, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Ultimate Warrior, Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy to name a few.  So good job on those inclusions…but with that let’s get into my snub list. Now for my list I looked at all the past Wrestlemania’s and even watched a few on DVD to get the full dose of matches these grapplers I picked had.  These are all legends of the sport that I truly think were snubbed! So let’s get onto my picks on who should be in WWE 2K14.

rowdy roddy piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper

Rowdy Roddy Piper is a legend in the wrestling world who began his pro career in 1973 when he became a member of the roster for the AWA as what is known as a jobber (a wrestler who is thrown to the top stars to lose).  Piper then went on to wrestle in some of the industry’s top promotions like NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) and GCW (Georgia Championship Wrestling), and in these two places Piper made a name for himself as a solid worker and a master of mic skills. But while in GCW, Piper was blackballed from the territory for showing up late to a match and would work for Puerto Rico and Jim Crocket Promotions. In 1984, Piper made his way to WWF and started out as a manager to wrestlers Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff and David “Dr. D” Shultz and later became a full fledged member of the roster.  Piper was a bad guy (heel), and his first two major feuds were with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka and Bruno Sammartino! But in 1985, his most important rivialy took place as Piper was picking on pop singer Cyndi Lauper and wrestling manager Captain Lou Albano sparking WWF Champions to come to their aid and sparking a fight that would take place on MTV at an event called “The War To Settle The Score.”  This match then lead to the first main event at the first Wrestlemania! The match had Hulk Hogan and actor Mr. T taking on Piper and Paul Orndorff, and history was made. Piper would come and go in the WWF/WWE for many years after this and would have many great matches with the likes of Bret “Hitman” Hart, Bad News Brown, Goldust and Adrian Adonis. From almost from the moment he stepped into the company, Piper was also given his own talk show called “Piper’s Pit” where many iconic moments took place from bashing Jimmy Snuka in the head with a coconut to beating up a jobber wrestler with one arm behind his back! Fans have loved and hated Piper over the years, and he is one of the most iconic wrestlers WWF has even had.  So to me, it makes no sense why he is not in the game and since he had many Wrestlemania moments that outshine Goldberg’s terrible match with Brock Lesner. Here is to hoping 2K and WWE wake up and make him DLC. Piper also is in the WWE HALL OF FAME as of 2005!

Key WM Matches: Piper & Paul Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (Wrestlemania) and Piper vs. Bret Hart (Wrestlemania 8)

Paul Orndorff

Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff

Before Lex Luger, Ravishing Rick Rude and Dolf Ziggler, Orndorff was the original show off, the man who thought his body was better than everyone else’s but without the glam and with more of a kick ass attitude. Before his pro wrestling career Orndorff was a star on the college football fields and even was picked up to play for the NFL! Orndorff began wrestling in 1976 for many small promotions and even a few major ones like NWA, SCW (Southeast Championship Wrestling) and GCW before going to WWF in 1983 where he had Roddy Piper as his manager and fought guys like Tito Santana and Jimmy Snuka. Orndorff took the side of Piper in his feud with Hogan and had feuded with Hogan up until the main event at the first Wrestlemania. Orndorff would turn good and bad throughout the years and even had a match with Don Muraco at Wrestlemania II. He would have huge matches with Hogan after this event that even lead to steel cage matches and more. In 1988 Orndorff took time away to heal some injuries and would go on to wrestle for WCW (World Championship Wrestling), UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) and Smokey Mountain. He would end his career with WCW after injuries and worked as a trainer and backstage for the company. In 2005 Mr. Wonderful was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. Mr. Wonderful was a hard worker and a great competitor and should be in this game for helping launch Wrestlemania. Without him and Piper, the first event would not be the iconic event we fans view it as.

Key WM Matches: Roddy Piper & Orndorff vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (Wrestlemania) and Orndorff vs. Don Muraco (Wrestlemania II)

Sid Vicious

Psycho Sid

Sid is a man of many names in the wrestling world from Lord Humongous to Sid Justice to Sid Vicious, but most fans know him as Psycho Sid from his time at the top of the WWF! Sid started his career out in 1987 in such promotions as Memphis, New Japan and World Class, but by 1989 WCW had gotten the powerhouse to join their federation.  The master of the power bomb was in full swing as he became a member of the tag team the Skyscrapers and would later become a member of the legendary Four Horseman with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Barry Windham. Sid left WCW after a true lack of world title push and left for WWF in 1991 where he became a top runner for the world title and had feuds with The Undertaker and Jake Roberts.  After thinking he had been overlooked for a title shot, he targeted Hulk Hogan who he thought was the man standing in his way. After a fight at Wrestlemania, Sid left the company. In 1993 he returned for a short time to WCW and then went to a few other smaller promotions before coming back to the WWF in 1995 to become Shawn Michael’s bodyguard and once more become a top runner for the world title fighting guys like Diesel, Bret Hart and The Undertaker, having many top profile matches and being one of the company’s top stars. Sid would leave again in 1997 and would finish his top company career out in WCW. Sid was a massive man, and I would love to have him feud in WWE 2K14 with the likes of The Big Show, Andre The Giant and Big John Studd! In 2012 Sid even showed back up on WWE TV with two appearances on Monday Night Raw! Here is to hoping that he is future Legends DLC in the game because I for one would love to powerbomb Daniel Bryan into a table!

Key WM Matches: Sid vs. Hulk Hogan (Wrestlemania 8) and Sid vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 13)  

jake roberts the snake.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Once more Jake finds himself not in a WWE game that clearly he should be in! Roberts began his wrestling career in 1974 and was a roster member for such federations as Mid-South Wrestling, Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, GCW and NWA, but it was in 1986 when Jake was called up to the WWF and became the Snake! Jake, like Piper, was given his own talk show called “The Snake Pit” and his first major feuds were with Ricky Steamboat and The Honkey Tonk Man. He would change from a heel to a face many times in his WWF run and would wrestle guys like Andre The Giant, Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Ravishing Rick Rude, Earthquake, Rick “The Model” Martel and Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase.  Jake would leave in 1992 and would work for WCW, AAA and Independents before coming back to WWF in 1996 where he was a veteran and was used as a man who had battled demons in his past and was there to talk the word of God to those who would listen. Sadly, Jake was a real life junkie and had burned many bridges and failed many drug tests and this was his first full second chance of becoming a top superstar. During this late 90’s run, Jake also helped spark the “Austin 3:16” catch phrase after a match with Steve Austin at King of The Ring! Jake “The Snake” Roberts has never held a WWF/WWE title and has yet to make it to the Hall of Fame, but he remains one of the company’s top legends that still has fans to this day. Jake should be in this game and here is hoping he will be DLC.

Key WM Matches: Roberts vs. Honkey Tonk Man (Wrestlemania III), Roberts vs. Andre The Giant (Wrestlemania 5), Roberts vs. The Undertaker (Wrestlemania 8)

Note From Matt – Well, I got one right as Jake Roberts will be on the game’s final DLC Pack.

Lex Luger

Lex Luger

While The Total Packahe Lex Luger didn’t make the splash in WWF that Vince and the company were hoping for, he still was a main-eventer who should be in WWE 2K14! Lex Luger began wrestling in 1985 for NWA Florida, and a year later he was working for NWA that later became WCW where he became a main-eventer who would go on to be a member of the Four Horseman and would feud with the likes of Ric Flair, Ron Simmons, Sting and Barry Windham. While there, Luger capture the World Title and become one of the company’s top heels. Luger, however, left them in 1992 and went to work for WWF and its bodybuilding league the WBF.  His first gimmick in the WWF had him playing The Narcissist Lex Luger, a heel who was so egotistical that he would pose and look at himself in mirrors, his major matches being with Mr. Perfect Curt Henning. Luger turned face and became an all American hero type after he slammed Yokozuna on July 4th. Luger would become a top contender for the world title and would feud with such grapplers as Bret Hart, Tatanka, Crush and Ludvig Borga and would later form a tag team with The British Bulldog to be called Allied Powers. Then Luger would shock the world as he showed up on the first episode of WCW Nitro while also being on a taped WWF match the same night. Luger had switched companies and was the first major shot fired at WWF. Luger would wrestle for WCW until 2001 when the company shut down. Luger would then make a few appearances on TNA (Total Nonstop Action) before retiring from the sport due to a spinal stroke. Luger was a power house in whatever federation he was in and should be a member of the 2K14 roster! John Cena would so be put in the torture rack!

Key WM Matches: Luger vs. Yokozuna (Wrestlemania 10)

So there are my top 5 wrestlers that I truly think got snubbed for WWE 2K14 30 Years of Wrestlemania. All the grapplers above were hard working and guys that impacted the event. I am not sure why they were left out but I hope that somehow some way 2K sees this list and gives each of these guys a second look at maybe being DLC. With this let’s get into our main event with Wally The Wizard!

wwe 2k14. logo

Star Comics officially started in 1984 with a three issue movie adaptation of Muppets Take Manhattan, and in 1985 Marvel Comics fully opened up Star as branch that dealt with strictly kids comics.  When Star opened, it had a few cartoon/toy/TV based comics like Muppet Babies, Thundercats, Fraggle Rock, and Care Bears but they also had some original characters like Top Dog, Royal Roy, Planet Terry, Spider-Ham and Wally The Wizard. While most kids flocked to the more well known characters, Wally was one of the originals that I can remember being on the comic rack at United Dairy Farmers next to Spider-Man, Superman and Transformers, and as I said before, I remember getting issue one as a free giveaway and enjoying it. While I do remember reading a few other Wally issues in my youth, I don’t have as much of an attachment to the character like I have for Spider-Ham, another Star original. Wally The Wizard is a kid who has been picked by the great wizard Marlin, the brother of Merlin, to be his apprentice.  While he is good, Wally still has a lot to learn and is in love the the princess of the kingdom. He has two best friends Conrad and Jay who he gets into adventures with, but he also has a demon guardian who is a nice guy named Gorg who watches out for him. The character is pretty simple and would have made a fun film idea if done by Steven Speilberg! The idea of a kids comic character having a demon as a friend was pretty shocking at the time of the whole Satanic Panic that was gripping America so I give the writers props for having the balls to do that. Wally The Wizard is a good mix of kid friendly adventures, fluffy magic and an element of 80’s film fantasy.

Wally The Wizard AdWally StarGorg as Spiderman

With a look back at long gone but not forgotten Dayton Movie Theaters, the rundown of Wally, WWE 2K14 snubs and the epic making of Independent B Movie The Wolf Hunter, I think it’s time now for us to dive into the world of Star Comics and take a look at one of their top home grown characters: Wally The Wizard.  I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 Star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material. So let’s dive into the world of a kid wizard that was way before Harry Potter and take our journey with Wally. And thanks to Lone Star Comics and Bell, Book and Comic for having these issues in stock!

Wally 1

Wally The Wizard # 1  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #1 of 12

“A Plague of Locust” Wally is an apprentice to Marlin, brother of the famous wizard Merlin, and they are in the business of magic.  His best friends are Conrad (squire to the lead knight) and Jay (a chubby fryer), and after an accident Wally frees a demon named Gorg who pledges friendship for life. Wally makes medicine for the King and rushes to deliver it and along the way meets a dragon and helps save its child from a well. Wally makes it to the king and sees his crush, Princess Penelope, but not so faraway, the King’s evil half sister and her minions have made a giant robot Locust and set it free to bring down her brother’s kingdom. The Locust does major damage but is stopped by Wally who calls upon the Dragon he helped earlier who takes the Locust to the sun, and Gorg helps bring Wally safely back to the ground.

This is a great first issue and is a sure way to get people hooked on Wally’s and his friends’ adventures. In this issue, Wally comes off as a normal youth who questions his role with his master wizard and has a crush on a princess who clearly likes someone else.  He also seems to make friends easily as Gorg the Demon and a Dragon both come to his aid in the end. Princess Penelope is a snooty rich girl who turns her nose up to Wally and in some panels treats him as a low life. I hope she gets more likable in later issues, because as of right now I am not a fan. Jay and Conrad don’t have much to do in this issue and are your normal throw away friends who are around to add humor and friendship to the main character. Gorg is pretty badass and is an evil looking demon who talks of the future, but is an all around good creature who values friendship. One thing cool Gorg does in the issue is turns into Spider-Man and tells the kids of the past that the kids of the future love this look.  The artwork in the issue is pretty good and simple and reminds me of the funny papers in the Sunday paper. For being an original, the story is cheesy kids’ stuff that works, and the cover is very appealing with the pink demon Gorg being a nice addition to draw readers in. I only read this issue when I was younger and liked it then and still like it now.  So I really can’t wait to see what the rest of the series is like.  So with no more wait, let’s jump into issue 2!

Wally 2

Wally The Wizard # 2   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #2 of 12

“The Magic-A-Thon!” When Marlin was a young wizard apprentice, he won a tournament called the Magic-A-Thon.  Now Wally his young apprentice wants to fallow in his footsteps and trains super hard to do so. Sleepless Knight is a pig of a man who stuffs his face and thinks of a blind date he is to have, but when his fortune cookie tells him the date will be a bust thanks to a wizard’s apprentice, he goes to rid himself of this pest who just so happens to be Wally! At the town square, Sleepless waits for Wally and attacks chopping his spell notes in half and causing him to fall inside a huge hole. After escaping, Wally makes it to the event spelless and manages to win just by using his brain. Sleepless makes one last attempt to kill Wally at the event and fails making himself look silly and running his chances with his date. In the end Wally is cheered, and his teacher Marlin is very proud of his young student.

This second issue while not as good as the first was still a fun read that kept Wally’s charm up and built more on his friendship with Marlin. In issue two, Wally is more into his magic and even makes a few spells that he learned but then also uses his brain to win the Magic-A-Thon. His appearance also changes and so do his attitude, making Wally seem as if he had grown as a character. The bad guy, Sleepless Knight, is a full fledged knucklehead, and it’s amazing that he wants to kill a kid over a fortune in a cookie. A funny flub in this issue is the fact Jay and Conrad seem to have changed who’s who as the names are given to the wrong character! Characters from issue one also make cameo appearances in this issue like Princess Penelope and the King. The art in this one is way more cartoon like, and this makes the events a little more fun.  The story is goofy and very kid appealing, and while the cover is pretty good, it could have been better. This is a good average issue # 2 and would have had me back in my youth. Let’s see if issue # 3 is any good.

Wally 3

Wally The Wizard # 3  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #3 of 12

“Folkquest” Wally is down due to the fact he has not gotten any letters from his parents for weeks.  They are servants and seem to have forgotten about him. Wally gets the day off helping Marlin and goes to Vikk, a young Viking boy who lives in the kingdom after falling overboard his father’s ship.  The two feel sad together that is until they hear the news that a Viking ship had anchored and raided a near by castle and kidnapped the servants! Wally and Vikk start of a quest to find the ship and see their parents, but the journey is long and dangerous as they must fight off the evil step sister and giant lake monsters. In the end, only one can make it to the ship, and it’s Vikk who finds that it’s not his dad’s ship and trades his necklace (a gift from his dad) of Thor’s hammer to the captain for Wally’s parents’ freedom. In the end Wally’s parents adopt Vikk into their family leaving everyone happy.

This 3rd issues is a good fun kids comic that is filled with goofy adventure and some cheesy lines that would make any reader smile. It’s shown that Wally is far away from his parents to be Marlin’s apprentice and that he and his family are very close, adding yet more layers to Wally and making him less of a generic kid comic hero. He also gets a new friend in this issue named Vikk who is a young lost Viking boy who lives in the kingdom and is waiting for his dad. Vikk is a nice addition to the Wally family and makes me wonder if he will make more appearances in the series. Adventure and a quest also makes up the issue’s plot and is a fun way to get Wally out of the kingdom and into harm’s way as he is captured, eaten and must use his wits to rescue his parents. The art in this one is well done and much like issue 2, adds more detail to the character.  The story is well done as is the cover making this a good issue worth reading for fans of the first. Let’s check out issue # 4 now!

Wally 4

Wally The Wizard # 4   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #4 of 12

“The Wand in the Stone” Marlin tells Wally of a story of a wand that has all the power in the world that is stuck in a stone.  The story goes that a master wizard will come along and remove it and become the strongest in the world! Wally’s mind filled with wonder of the story as he and Marling go into the woods to look at the stars and moon, but Marlin has forgotten his glasses and sends Wally back who gets lost and meets a Troll to takes him to the wand in the stone.  As other wizards watch on, Wally removes the wand and becomes the target of all the wizards around who want the power. After doing battle with a few, he decides to put the wand back and is transported back to Marlin’s side with a tale of excitement. The second story in this issue, “The Barbarians Are Coming,” is about a small man named Bul-Bul who looks like a barbarian and gets all the knights in the kingdom worked up as they think an invasion is in the works, but it takes Wally to befriend him and help him get home safe.

Issue 4 is just average and for some reason has two stories instead of one.  This is a change I do not like! Story one: “The Wand in the Stone” is a take on the sword in the stone and fits perfectly in the story this far of Wally and his life/adventures and has he and Marlin charting stars and the moon together. Then Wally performs a feat that shows one day he will be the most powerful wizard. Throw in Conrad for a cameo, and add a small Troll who lives in a small house in the woods, and you have a good adventure. And it shows more adults wanting to kill the young Wally…man, this kid has equal bad luck to go with the good. Story two is “The Barbarians Are Coming,” and while short, it’s a clear throw away and seems very much off from the storyline we have going this far.  While Gorg is back for a brief moment, it mostly follows Wally as he helps a lost short strange old man.  While goofy and light hearted, I just found it to be weak and the pages it takes up should have been used to expand on the Wand in the Stone story. The art in this issue is done by Ben Brown, and while the first stories art is okay, the second seems like a rushed mess and is not appealing to the eye. The cover, however, is pretty cool and has a nice fantasy look to it. With being 4 issues in, I can say so far that Wally The Wizard is a good kid’s comic and makes me really hyped to read issue 5! So with this let’s move on to more magical adventures of Wally.

Wally 5

Wally The Wizard # 5  **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #5 of 12

Wally gets Marlin upset when he trips over a broom and ruins six months worth of work.  Marlin lectures Wally he tells him to always pay attention to things around him. As Wally leaves the lab, he misses as Princess Penelope is being kidnapped and taken to the dark castle of Vastar and his wizard Erasmo who has placed a forcefield around the castle and is keeping the knights from being able to save the Princess. Marlin and Wally figure out that they might be able enter the castle from a hole above it that lets out the smoke from the fires going in the fireplaces. Wally gets the help of his demon friend Gorg who flies him into the hole and into the castle where he is able to free the Princess and spoil the evil one’s attempt for ransom money. The second story is another short one called “Dragon Fire” where Wally outsmarts a dragon as the kingdom’s under its attack!

Once more this takes the approach of having two stories instead of one, and again the second story seems like a waste of pages. Wally and Marlin seem to be at odds at the start of the first story, and this is odd and comes off not as cheery as their friendship has in the past issues. Wally once more uses his skills and mind to figure out how to save the day and once more tries to impress Penelope who comes off as a full fledged brat and is not likable at all in this issue. I do like how Wally clogs the hole and how Gorg once more is his demon self and is a loyal friend to Wally, though I must say I HATE the way Ben Brown draws him.  I feel he rush draws him and makes the character have zero detail. Vastar is a fat evil man who is controlled with greed and power.  His wizard Erasmo looks like a very generic 80’s evil character complete with black goatee! The second story has a dragon who is talked down from attacking by Wally and has the knights once more powerless to stop the challenge that is in front of them and makes you wonder how they stay a free kingdom and not taken over. The art is okay, and while some of Brown’s pages look good, others seem rushed and a mess. I don’t understand why he takes his time on some of it and clearly rushes the next.  His deadlines must have been a nightmare. The cover on this one is also just okay and nothing special. So let’s move on to issue 6 shall we?

Wally 6

Wally The Wizard # 6   ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #6 of 12

“Terror Mountain” A volcano is about to explode as The King and his people look to Marlin and his science for help, but he has nothing and only tells them all to flee the area and let it explode! The king doesn’t like what he hears and nor do his subjects, and they start to question why the pay him.  But worse for Marlin, his brother, the great magician Merlin, is coming, and while the world thinks he’s the best, his brother knows he’s a con man and is nothing more than a showman. When Merlin shows up with his apprentice Alfred, they wow the kingdom and take two full bags of gold and say they will stop the volcano and head for the border with the money and no intention of stopping the doom of Terror Mountain. As Wally and Marlin watch, the mountain explodes and traps Merlin and Alfred in its smokey death grip.  This causes Marlin and Wally to come to their rescue, and after doing so, Wally pulls a trick of his own as he replaces the gold Merlin conned away from the king with rocks, and together he and Marlin return to the Kingdom to give the King his gold back.

This issue is 100% a blast and has Wally being a hero and showing that he was the right choice for Marlin’s apprentice. I also like that is fleshes out Marlin and shows a little of his back story in a flashback of he and his brother growing up. Also Star took a huge chance and took a character that every one loved like Merlin the Magician and has him be a complete fraud that’s nothing more than cheap tricks that fool everyone into thinking he is powerful when really he is just a thief. Doing this was a bold move because it changes the image of a character who fans of King Author really love. I also like how the true meaning of this story is science vs. magic, and they want to prove magic is fake and science is real.  Odd move for a comic that is based around a kid wizard. Alfred, who is Merlin’s apprentice, is a good hearted kid but it’s clear he is learning at a young age to fool people and to con them of their money.  I am hoping that both Merlin and Alfred show back up in this series. This issue is back to one solid story, and this is a good thing as I would say that this issue next to issue # 1 is the best issue in the series thus far! The art is good and is down by Brown again, and time was taken.  The cover is pretty good and eye catching with its use of purple. After this issue I can’t wait to see what the next issue has to offer. Also this marks the half way point and makes me wonder if this series will stay solid or start to fall apart.  Only the future issues will tell!

Wally 7

Wally The Wizard # 7  **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #7 of 12

Wally is trying to make a magic elixir and makes a mistake and makes a mess, causing Marlin once more to be mad at him and tells him to go do something helpful. So Wally along with Conrad takes on the task of hanging flyers of the kingdom’s jousting competition where the winner gets the honor of being the best.  The odds on favorite is Sir Flauntaroy who is the King’s top knight. While in a small village, Wally meets Lucretia The Witch who has a strong dislike for Flauntaroy and gives an amulet to Wally to give to him for good luck, but it’s really a cursed item that causes fear! Wally rushes back to the Kingdom to get the amulet to Flauntaroy as Lucretia sends her nephew Heinous to enter the competition and to kill Flauntaroy who shot her down for a date years before. Wally gets the help of Gorg and makes it to the event as Flauntaroy is about to take on Heinous, and the evil plan backfires as Heinous is the one scared and Flauntaroy wins the event. The second story in this issue is called “Wrong Number” and has Wally and Marlin using a crystal ball to call another wizard friend to help cure a headache.  Things get crazy when Wally uses an old pan to do the same and wires get crossed and this effects Flauntaroy, The King and Penelope who all get caught up in the crazy mayhem. All the while, two crooks try and steal gold and get caught thanks to the mayhem.

Issue seven is back to two stories, and once more both are just okay with each being about the same and neither of them being the true stand out.  If I had to pick one, I would say the first story was better and because it introduces two new bad guys with Lucretia The Witch and Heinous. This issue is not really special, and while entertaining, neither story really adds anything to the world of Wally. In both stories Wally is still the fun loving wizard in training and is as likable as ever. Conrad gets his time to shine again and shows up as a background character in both stories and is shown to have a slight ego, but yet is a good friend to Wally. Marlin walks the line again of being a grumpy old man who is short tempered with Wally and yet still very loyal to his young friend. Princess Penelope is shown once more to be a terrible brat who is unlikable in every way. Lucretia The Witch is an odd faced old crazy lady who thinks that she is hot when she is not! Heinous is a big goof with a mean streak and a small brain, nothing special just a dumb brute. The artwork by Brown is good in both stories, and the cover is pretty eye catching.  I must say though, that doing the two stories in one comic always seems to cheapen both stories overall.  I’m not a fan of the two. So let’s move onto issue eight and see if it can get this average issue out of my mind. 

Wally 8

Wally The Wizard # 8   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #8 of 12

Wally meets a gnome and saves him on accident and as a thank you he is given a magic rope that when a magic word is spoken makes whatever it’s touching disappear. Wally accidentally says the word as Sir Flauntaroy is touching it, and this makes the kingdom’s top knight disappear! Wally and Conrad rush to the mountain where he met the gnome to see if he has a word to make things appear.  While on this quest, they run into a race of ogre type creatures called the Gooniks who are very mean and are the rivals of the gnomes who save the two from being Goonik food by lowering a bridge across a ravine that separates the two enemy races.  But this is bad as The Gooniks start to build a bridge of their own to get across and end the feud once and for all! Wally gets the magic word, and Sir Flauntaroy appears and joins in on the plan to stop them from making it over! At the end Wally figures it out and tricks The Gooniks who fall into the ravine and make homes in the caves below and away from the gnomes.

This issue is pure Wally, and while side characters like Marlin, Conrad, Sir Flauntaroy and even Princess Penelope have appearances, this is a pure Wally adventure, and it’s okay. The issue is one adventure and not two, and this is the style I like. I did find this issue and the story to be filled with some fun kid friendly adventures. I am going to guess that the magic rope will never come back in any future story and nor will the Gnomes or Gooniks, and this is a shame.  A follow up story at some point to tell what has happened with both sides after the feud is over would be nice to see or even hear about. The artwork done by Brown is once more his A game and not rushed, and the cover is eye catching and makes the issue look scary and adventurous. Over all this is an okay issue and doesn’t offer up much to talk about so let’s move on to issue # 9 in the Star Wally The Wizard series. 

Wally 9

Wally The Wizard # 9  ***
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #9 of 12

It’s a dark and rainy night, and Princess Penelope is deathly sick.  The King and Marlin are trying everything they can to make her better and even have banned commoners from entering the castle or going near her. Wally is upset and feels that he is going to lose the love of his life forever as by the hour, she gets more ill. Wally gets the help of Gorg and travels to the past to find out that the Princess ate a poisoned mushroom which gave her the Fungus Hermungus sickness.  Then they travel to the future and find how to cure the sickness and steal a pill to make her well. When they return, it looks grim for the Princess until Wally and Gorg sneak in and give her the pill.  When The King and subjects enter the room Princess Penelope is better, and they credit Marlin for her recovery! At the end Princess Penelope knows Wally and Gorg were her true saviors and rewards them with a blown kiss at a parade.

This is a classic fun and silly kid comic story and is done really well and super entertaining! The plot has Wally and Gorg travel time to find a cure to save the Princess and for some reason this reminded me of “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure” and “Mr. Peabody.”  The part that puts Wally in modern New York is just a really cool concept and brought the character closer to kids of 1985. In this issue Wally is not only a hero, but also shows a softer more emotional side as he cries thinking about loosing his love. Gorg is as cool as always and is the true reason the Princess gets cured as his time traveling skills and his Gargoyle friend are the keys to getting the pill. Princess Penelope is way more likable in this issue.  Through most of it she is sick, but it’s the end where she shows love and respect for Wally and Gorg that makes her come off more charming. Marlin is not in this issue that much, and when he is he comes off as a worried wizard who wants to help a dying girl. The art in this issue is just okay with Wally and the other humans looking a little off.  This art does have Gorg looking better than his past few issue appearances. The art this time is done by Bob Bolling.  With an eye catching cover and a solid one story, this issue is great and makes me look forward to the next.

Wally 10

Wally The Wizard # 10   **1/2
Released in 1985   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #10 of 12

Wally is having nightmares about Princess Penelope being kidnapped by Vastar and his wizard Erasmo as well as the kingdom being under attack by a giant Goblin Grape! Wally tries to warn Marlin about his nightmares that could be visions of the future and is blown off. Wally is shown some gnats who when used can eat off the clothes of those who have a salt sprinkled on them. So Wally, Jay (remember his Chubby friend) and Alaina the Princess’ young maid all travel to Vastar’s castle and find that in fact they do have a giant grape that will eat everything in its path! Wally and Jay shake the salt on Vastar and Erasmo but are caught and taken to the castle’s cell before they can release the gnats. Alaina leaves to warn the kingdom of the gobbling grape doom that is headed their way, as Gorg and a magic spell rescue Wally and Jay who release the gnats in time.  They eat the clothes off the would be conquerers several times in fact, and even getting the salt on the grape that is eaten away. This make makes the baddies flee, and the kingdom safe once again.

This issue is pretty good, but I’m not so sure as I feel it was lacking something that would have made it better. I will say the story felt more like a back up story than a full issue one like it was. Wally once more saves the kingdom and gets no credit for doing so. Wally has turned into quite the hero over these past ten issues and is a great character for kids of the time to look up to. While in the comic, Jay is not used that much and is given very little to do besides play the role of bit player as goes for Marlin in this issue. Alaina gets to shine and shows that she is a loyal, loving friend to Wally.  She has the world’s largest crush on him that has built up in every appearance she has made so far in the series. I must say Alaina is a likable character and up to this point is barely used, and that’s a shame.  She is more perfect for Wally than the Princess is and here is to hoping he sees that by the next two issues. Vastar and Erasmo return as the issue’s baddies and once more are outsmarted by a kid, making them perfect bad guys for this style of kids fantasy comic. Howard Post did the art in this issue, and it really reminded me of Archie Comics and that’s a cool thing.  The cover on this issue is just so-so and could have been better.  Overall this issue is okay but nothing special.   

Wally 11

Wally The Wizard # 11   ***
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #11 of 12

The King is having a feast at the castle that has all the royalty from all around gathering to partake in the eating of great food. Sir Evilus and his mother are not happy that they were not invited to the feast and have a plan to attack and take over the Kingdom.  But in the mother’s crystal ball she sees that it is Wally who stands in their way of winning this soon to be war, but her son pays it no attention and prepares for the attack. In the morning Evilus attacks and is getting the upper hand until his men kidnap Wally and by mistake a vanishing spell by Mother only makes half his body disappear.  The young wizard’s apprentice is nothing more than a floating head scares off the army when they think he is a ghost! In the end the spell wears off, and Wally once more saves the Kingdom, but the credit goes to Marlin who poured water on the army below.

This is another light hearted fun and wacky adventure for Wally to be in and marks yet another time he saves the Kingdom and gets zero credit for doing so. Wally is good natured though and never seems to be bothered that he gets no credit and just seems to enjoy the life he was given. Marlin once more is back to full grump mode and is so pushy that magic is fake and science is real, he even skips the feast in order to work on an experiment. Conrad, Jay, Alaina, Princess Penelope and Sir Flauntaroy all make cameos but are given nothing special, besides once more Penelope is a snobby brat. New baddy Sir Evilus is pretty cool as he looks like what you would think of for an evil knight complete with black goatee and evil witch of a mother.  While a cool bad guy, he does not come off as a threat to the Kingdom, but his army does. The plot is fun and gets to add a slight horror element to this kids’ comic as Wally acts as a ghost and superstition comes into play about bad omens and haunted castles. Ben Brown is back on art, and the issue looks nice and is some of his better work in the series thus far.  The cover on the other hand is kind of blah and not as eye catching as it should be. Well we are at the tail end of Star Comics’ Wally The Wizard and have only one issue to go.  So here is hoping that it goes out with a bang and not a whisper.

Wally 12

Wally The Wizard # 12   **1/2
Released in 1986   Cover Price .65   Star Comics   #12 of 12

Wally and Jay are messing around with magic, and a mistake leaves Jay turned into a human frog! Marlin witnesses this and is angered by Wally’s mistake and tells them only a kiss from a Princess can save him from a life of being all green.  They try Princess Penelope and her kiss fails.  They then travel along with Conrad to another kingdom and that princess’ kiss fails too. Jay is upset and flings himself into a swamp and is almost killed by a whirlpool! They rush him back to the kingdom, and a true heartfelt kiss from Princess Penelope brings him back into human form. The second story is called ” The Magic Bulls Eye.” Crazy Ethelred is a wizard who will do magic for cheaper then any other wizard in the land, and when the King falls for his tricks, it’s up to Wally and Conrad to show him it’s all fake and the trickster wannabe wizard instead gets a job in the kingdom as the Court Jester.

Story one is pretty good and is a take off the Frog and the Princess.  Wally once more makes a mistake, and this time his poor chubby friend Jay pays the price. Wally is very much upset over his mistake and travels all over to make it right. Jay as a frog is a crybaby who even at one point appears he is going to commit suicide as he runs into the swamp that’s filled with all types of hazardous creatures. Princess Penelope once more is a brat and only when it looks like Jay will die, is her kiss heartfelt.  She is not a likable character, and one does wish that Wally would wake up and see that Alaina is better for him. The second story is good and is a nice add on to the issue, but also it’s nothing special and is not worth really looking into. The art in this final issue is done by Howie Post with Ben Brown doing the second story, making it cool to see that Brown at least got to do artwork for the final issue in the series. Brown’s artwork is better than Post’s, and thats not a dig at Post as his art is well down and captures the feel of 70’s kid comics. The cover however is kind of bland, and I wish it would have had something a little better. Over all this issue is okay and not the best way to end the legacy of Wally on.

Star Comics made a good solid character in Wally The Wizard, who in his 12 issue run went on many adventures, saved the Kingdom many times, made friends with creatures like demons and gnomes, fell in love, became an apprentice to a wizard, went to the future and so much more. Kids in the 80’s didn’t have many kid comic characters that they could claim as their own and in the decade of sword and sorcery Wally fit in like a glove to become a likable character they could latch onto. While again I didn’t hear kids speak of Wally, his 12 issue run proves that kids were buying, and the fact that I at 34 still remembered him shows that he made an impact for those of us who read him. I must say that this series based on a Star original is really a fun read and a very good series and makes me looking forward to rereading and reviewing Planet Terry, Spider-Ham, Royal Roy, Meet Misty and Top Dog! This also made me really miss Star and wish they would have lasted longer.  Think of the possible IP’s and new characters that could have been! At some point in 2014, I will do one more “Should Have Been in the Star Comics World” and will get a few more friends as well to tell you what they would have loved to seen. But with this I am off to read more comics and maybe play some WWE 2K14 on PS3.  So see you all next update that will showcase a guest reviewer as my girlfriend, Juliet Fromholt will take you down here memory lane as she takes a look at Topps Comics’ Season 1 of The X-Files! So be there if you want to believe….. 

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