It’s The Final Plague Countdown!

Animals can be a person’s best friend, but they can also be very scary and can not only kill and eat you but also can spread diseases and wipe out hundreds, if not millions, of people with the likes of plagues and rabies. Today’s update will be a quick one focusing on scary animals, pets, disease and a comic miniseries by Action Lab Comics’ horror branch, The Danger Zone, called The Final Plague. I have to say that Action Lab: Danger Zone has locked itself as a great company for horror comic readers as they not only do original series but they have also teamed up with Full Moon Entertainment to bring us high quality comics based on their films like Puppet Master and Gingerdead Man. The one thing that is really cool about Action Lab is that their Editor In Chief Shawn Gabborin is very interactive with the readers and loves comic books in general, something that I feel is lacking in other companies that are just doing series for money and not with love and the enjoyment to entertain.  I think Shawn and Action Lab are in this comic game for all the right reasons. So get into your hazmat suit as it’s time to walk among the infected animals from the twisted world of The Final Plague!

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The Black Plague spread across Europe from 1346-1353 and infected and killed up to 200 million people all thanks to fleas on rats that infected people through bites and contaminated food supplies. In 1975, the first case of Lyme Disease was diagnosed.  It is also spread from tick bites with symptoms that include fatigue, a bullseye rash and feeling like you have a bad case of the flu.  If not treated, it will cause brain issues as well as infects joints and organs. Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, also known as Mad Cow Disease, not only infects cows but also humans who eat meat from an infected cow.  It causes major brain and nerve issues. Swine Influenza, aka Swine Flu, is a virus that infects pigs who can then pass onto humans.  In 2009, an outbreak happened that left around 203,000 people dead. The Bird Flu, or Avian Influenza is a sickness that kills birds and can spread to humans via infected meat and the process of preparing the infected bird for slaughter. And let’s not forget Rabies, a disease that infects animals minds and causes them to go mad with rage before death finally comes for them.  If a human is bitten by an infected animal such as a dog, cat, raccoon or opossum they as well are driven mad. These are just a drop in the hat of the viruses and diseases that we as human beings can be infected by thanks to our animal friends that we share this world with.

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If the fact that animals and their viruses and diseases can infect and kill us all doesn’t have you creeped out, let us not forgot that many animals are also man-eaters and will feast on our flesh with their razor sharp teeth and claws. Over the years bears, tigers, wolves, dogs, cats, alligators, hippos, sharks, hogs and so many others have killed and eaten humans. Let us also not forget that many animals and insects like spiders, frogs, snakes and gila monsters can poison you with their toxins and rancid bites. So in other words, nature is scary!! Growing up, my mother was scared of dogs and hogs, while I was scared of that bison at Fantasy Farm and many other people in the world have fear of animals from spiders to roaches all the way to mice some animals can also scare people to death just by being around them! Growing up I had lots of dreams about being attacked by animals with the most recent being about me in a outdoor shopping mall along with some friends looking at paperback books and music CD’s when all of a sudden the outdoor mall was under attack by grizzly bears! All the people started to run as the bears attacked, and I found myself alongside one of my friends in a metal locker as one of the bears tried so hard to break in and eat us! Almost all my dreams about attacking animals have been about grizzly bears…I wonder if in a past life I was attacked by one….who knows. But one thing is for sure, when you are out in the woods watch out for predator animals as you might just end up being lunch for one.

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While the world is filled with real life animal attacks, Hollywood wanted to also cash in on the idea of when animals attack and has graced both the big and small screen with films based on just that idea. Who can forget such classic animal run wild films as The Birds (1963), Willard (1971), Frogs (1972), The Night Of A Thousand Cats (1972), Jaws (1975), Grizzly (1976), Day Of The Animals (1977), Piranha (1978), Cujo (1983), Rats: Night Of Terror (1984) and so many more! Let’s also not forget when Hollywood decided to make the animals bigger because regular sized ones just couldn’t cut it.  So they delivered Tarantula (1955), The Giant Gila Monster (1959), The Food Of The Gods (1976), The Giant Spider Invasion (1975), Alligator (1980) and Island Claws (1980) to name a select few. To this day, Hollywood is making when animals attack style horror films, as they understand people’s primitive fears of animals that kill and can’t be reasoned with. Do yourself a favor if you’re into horror films, have some friends and family over and have a Horror Movie Marathon with all killer animal films and then go for a walk in the woods the next day and see if you can spook yourself from the sounds of nature around you.

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Over my lifetime I have had many pets who have added friendship and entertaining moments that will stick with me forever. Droopy was the first dog in my life as he was around when I was really young.  Sadly, he was stolen while the family went on vacation.  You long time readers will remember I spoke about him on my Foofur update. For a short time after Droopy, my dad rescued a little tiger striped kitten from the side of the highway/  Some a-hole put him in a bag and left him to die…he was bitten badly by fleas, and we took him home nursed him back to health and found him a forever home.  Both of these were before I was even in kindergarten and were our Kettering pets. Also in Kettering was Roxanne, a cockatoo bird that we rescued from outside.  She lived with us for many years and even moved with us to Waynesville and was such a sweet bird who loved us all. Moving to Waynesville, we found a baby opossum that was orphaned when its mother was hit by a car.  I named him Baby Chuck.  He stayed with us for a while, and we had to feed him milk via an eye dropper. Baby Chuck would find his permanent home at a nature reserve thanks to a nice older man who allowed him to live on his land and grow old. My neighbor raised mice and after begging and, I am sure, whining, my parents allowed me to have two of them, females that I called Grey and White.  They were my best friends and both of them loved just hanging out with me while I played Nintendo, read books and comics and even watched TV. Sadly, White passed away from a tumor, and Grey passed away from old age…it was a very sad day for me as I loved them both and they were part of the family for sure as my parents and brother as well enjoyed their tiny friendship. Later on I would get another mouse, this time a male that I named Ben. He was also a lovable little guy who enjoyed his life with me as my friend pet. We also had a big aquarium and many fish, but one was very special as we had him for many, many years.  He grew to be the biggest gold fish in our tiny glass pond, and we called him Gil.  He sadly passed away from old age, my Dad really loved that silly fish. My Aunt Laverne and cousin Nick gave me a hamster that I called S.P.G, named after the pet hamster from the BBC show “The Young Ones.”  While most of the time he was friendly, he did have a nasty habit of biting.  He lived a long life that was filled with many blood drawing moments. When moving back to Kettering, my parents bought me a German Shepard puppy that we named Stella.  She was a goofy dog that I had many adventures with as I was the new kid and she was my best friend as by that time both my parents worked as did my brother and that left me home alone a lot.  She was like me always, ready to run around and discover the world around. Stella was a great dog and while she was scared of almost everything, when she thought I was ever in danger she would turn into a protective beast ready for a fight.  I can remember one time some neighbors set off fireworks and she jumped in front of me and was ready to fight the bright sky lights. Stella lived a long life and sadly had to be put to sleep after old age kicked in and she had major medical issues that left her forgetting how to eat and drink…it was a very sad day. When I got older and moved away from home and in with my then girlfriend Misty Altick, I got her a kitten she named Neptune, but I called him Poops.  He was a silly cat who grew up to be a chubby very loving cat.  I used to make up stories about him being wanted by rival cats and how he was this ultimate badass. During this time, I also got an older female cat named Gracie who was on a final sale at a local pet store.  Gracie was very odd but loved me with all her little heart.  Funny enough, she hated Misty and when we first got her she spent many nights hissing at Misty as well as scratching her. Gracie and Poops had babies together later on and each of them found homes, but they lived with us for awhile and they were all very lovable little creatures who loved to sleep, climb and scream at me.  We named a few of them Poops Jr., Grizz, Midnight. Sadly when Misty and I broke up, I had to leave the cats behind and she would later on give them away to her friends.  I wonder what has happened to them many nights. About 11 years ago, while dating Jennifer Perkins, she bought me a kitten from a local pet shop that I named Leslie.  She has been my best pal for so long that I cannot imagine not having her sleeping on my chest at night or sitting next to me as I write these blogs. Leslie is truly my favorite pet I have ever owned! Also about 6 years ago, my current girlfriend Juliet and I took in a stray male cat from around our apartment that I named Streets J. Cat.  He is a Norwegian forest cat who is as goofy as goofy can be and is a well loved addition to our little home, even if Leslie hates him! So while nature can be scary, they can also be very lovable and add so much to the lives of owners who have pets. Below are pictures of Leslie and Streets, the two current goofy balls that share my life with me.

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So as you can see, nature can be scary as well as sweet and brighten up you life, and with that I think, it’s time for us to jump into a comic series that I have been very hyped to read ever since I found out about it in late 2015. As you long time readers know, I am a big fan of horror comics and love to discover and read new series and issues that catch my attention, and The Final Plague did just that after finding it on Action Lab’s website and seeing the cover for issue one with a hooded man holding a rat eating a human eyeball made me have to track down the series.  For some reason it was really hard to find the single issues as the graphic novel was all over the place. But thanks to the team up of Mavericks Cards and Comics, Lone Star Comics and Amazon I was able to get the complete single issue run! And while I am sitting here writing, this my cat Leslie wants me to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. See having pets sure can be helpful when you have a blog like this as they can remind you to place the star grading for the over 100th time.

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The Final Plague # 1  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 1 of 5

It’s 2012, and for some reason rats and other pets has become more aggressive and seem to be diseased. A lab in New Jersey has found that their lab rats have been bleeding from the eyes and are becoming very violent.  One even spit its own blood into the eyes and mouth of a lab assistant causing her and the mice to be put into quarantine. Meanwhile in New York, a drunk homeless man is attacked by a pack of crazed virus infected rats! In Iowa at the Michaels family farm, they are having issues with these rats in their cellar, and when one goes on the attack Helen, the mother of the family, has to cut off its head to get it to stop attacking their daughter Sarah.  She orders her husband Robert and son Thomas after dinner to go to the cellar and kill off the rats that are scratching at the door. Helen is sick with cancer but is still trying her best to be the backbone for her family and cooks a roast for dinner, and she finds out her husband has invited Alan, the town’s exterminator, over for dinner and help to kill off the rats in the cellar. During dinner Alan is telling the family about how the whole town is being infested with pests and that business is booming as everyone wants these aggressive animals exterminated.  After dinner Alan goes into the cellar to kill some rats when something goes wrong and he screams and comes up stairs covered with rats who are eating his flesh!

The Final Plague’s starting story is this: animals are acting really odd and have gotten some sort of virus that is making their eyes bleed as well as hungry for human flesh and are becoming aggressive and hard to kill.  This is spreading throughout the United States,  but we mainly focus on the Michaels family in Iowa as they have a cellar full of nasty rats who end up attacking the local exterminator! Plus we throw in the lab workers in New Jersey who are gearing up to understanding what this virus is. The Michaels family are good hard working country people who are taking care of their farm, and mother Helen is a strong person who, while ill with cancer, is still doing all she can to provide and help her family including cooking and even bashing rats to death that make an attempt to attack her family. The character who gets the worst attack, besides the drunken bum, is Allen who by the end of the issue is running around swarmed with rats all that are biting and ripping at his flesh. So far I am kind of digging the flow of the story as it’s clear this is just the start of something way worse that will lead to many human deaths and the animals around the globe will be the cause of it! The character I am liking the most at this point is a tie between Robert and Helen both who are hard working people who seem to enjoy farm life as well as family life. The issue is not a blood bath but does have some of the red stuff that helps add to the horror of it all. The cover is amazing and super eye catching. I wish the hooded character who appears on it was actually in it, but sadly he is not and to be honest, he is what made me want to read this series in the first place. The art inside is interesting and while not the style I normally like, I will still say it’s solid and is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown who clearly does have talent. Issue one was pretty cool and a nice build up issue for this story so let’s hope that issue two gives us some more clues to why this is happing and if Alan will survive the attack of the rats in the Michaels’s farmhouse.

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The Final Plague # 2  **1/2
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 2 of 5

Alan is torn to shreds by the killer rats that now attack the family and bite Robert several times, but he and his son Thomas are able to capture many of the rats in an old toolbox that they now plan to burn in a fire! Alan is dead, and the family is in shock.  The only thing they can do is call 911 in order to remove the body of Alan and tell the local law what has happened. Meanwhile, back in the lab in New Jersey, they find that the rats are almost un-killable and that they have a strange fluid in them as well as give off a foul smell and this worries them as it could sweep across the world and infect many more animals. All around animals are attacking humans, from dogs eating an old woman and then turning on the cops, to the Michaels family cat who is returning to life after being part eaten by the rats! The Michaels Family leave the farm as the town sheriff Frank starts his investigation into the death of Alan and the rats that are crazed in the basement. Meanwhile the scientist are having issues of their own as the army have taken over the lab and have it on lockdown until the CDC can show up, and the lab assistant bitten by the rat is now a crazed cannibal who has attacked and killed a fellow worker!

The plague is spreading in this second issue.  The Michaels family leave their farm as the local law shows up to investigate the death of the towns exterminator while the government is now taking over the lab and want to declare a level 4 emergency! The Michael Family is scared, confused and strong as they do what they can in order to help the dying Alan with father Robert even being bitten several times by the infected rats. The scientists want to do what they can in order to figure out what is causing this plague, but they have a thorn in their side thanks to the army! The animals that are running wild and eating flesh this go-round are rats and dogs.  Plus it shows that a dead cat is coming back and that humans can be infected making me wonder what the fate of Robert Michaels will be as he has been bitten twice. The issue is drenched in blood and gore as people are killed as are animals complete with guts exposed showing that this Danger Zone comic is not pulling any punches. This second issue was the hardest one in the series for me to find, and I am glad I was able to find it and do this review. The cover this time around is an infected animal and is ok but not nearly as eye catching as issue one.  In fact, I am sure it was lost in the crowd of brighter and more appealing covers when it was released. Again the interior artwork is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and once more is good but not what I normally like in my comics as it’s just a little to sloppy. Well issue two is done and the plot is ticking, so let’s see what issue three has in store for the world as the diseased animals are on the loose and want to eat and infect mankind! I also want to note that the hooded man from the cover of issue one does not show up in this one either and that’s a letdown.

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The Final Plague # 3  **
Released in 2013     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 3 of 5

At the lab an attempt is being prepared to enter the holding cell to restrain the infected lab assistant who is now being called Patient Zero as she has bitten, chewed and consumed the poor man that was stuck in the cell with her. The Michaels family take Robert to the hospital to get his rat bite looked at and soon finds that it’s a madhouse filled with lots of victims from animal and human attacks.  When news breaks on the TV that those bitten are infected with a more violent version of rabies, Robert has to be quarantined even though he is not showing signs of the infection. Meanwhile all over the world this sickness is spreading, and two drunk hunters are killed by a deer that has been infected! At the lab it’s learned that the animals infected are in fact reanimated corpses and that in humans it speeds up death.  When Patient Zero dies, we will soon find out if she comes back from the dead.

This third issue is very talky and is used to add more light to the plague and what its cause and effects are to humans and animals alike. The lab is where we find out all the information of the plague and with the Michaels Family, we find out that not all who have been bitten turns into a crazed flesh eating maniac. The issue makes you like Robert Michaels and his family even more are they clearly stick together during the bad times and support each other during them. The lab workers and the Army are dragging their feet on really trying to figure out what this plague is and spend more time arguing and chatting than getting down to the dirty work of cracking the code of how to treat and cure it. The issue, while bloody, is nothing too special as we have one infected man shot by the police in the hospital and a deer rams a trucks windshield and impales the hunters inside with his antlers. The cover, while creepy, is not every eye catching, and the art inside done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown once again is just okay and not the style of art I like. This issue is middle of the road, and it took me two sittings just to finish it as I got bored pretty quickly with the lab portions of the issue. So far this series has been okay but not nearly as cool as I was thinking it would be when first seeing the covers.  With that, I am just going to move onto issue four as this third issue was just kind of a filler issue with some long chatting to explain the plague that could have been summed up in about two pages.

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The Final Plague # 4  **1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 4 of 5

In the lab they find out that humans once infected do go into a wild rage of bloodlust, but when they die they do not come back as the virus can not take over mankind’s body structure. While at the hospital Helen Michaels and the kids are watching the news as the world is falling apart and cops and news reporters are being attacked live on air by cats, rats and dogs! The cops at the hospital watch as one of their own outside is killed by a pack of infected zombie dogs that rip him to pieces, and this causes them to lockdown the hospital.  After the dogs bust in through the windows, they are forced to evacuate the hospital and have to leave the infected humans behind, but Robert is taken as he is still not showing any signs of being infected. As the cops clear out the hospital, in Chicago zoo workers Miranda and Austin are still at work protecting the animals when a man who has been bitten enters the zoo and frees the tigers and lions.  The man is eaten by the lions and this infects them.  Now Austin and Miranda are stuck as the infected lions are waiting for them outside.

The action and bloody kills are amped up in the issue as we follow the Michaels Family and the cops who are in the hospital now under attack by crazed dogs who want to kill anything they can get their jaws on. While the lab workers and army know that they must find a way to cure the animals of the world as well as the humans who will die from the bites, but lucky will not come back from the dead. We now add in zoo workers who are stuck at work as giant cats are running wild and infected await them outside. The cops at the hospital are clearly heroes as they are risking their own hides to save people from the hospital.  The down side is they are having to leave some sick patients behind as they are unable to run. The Michaels Family are as likable as ever, but they kind of take a backseat in this issue as they are reunited once the dogs attack the hospital. The lab workers and army also take a back seat and are as bland as before.  While good characters, they are also the ones who sadly have to have the boring talk in order to explain the virus. The zoo workers Miranda and Austin are likable and I hope in the 5th and final issue we get more from them. The best kill of the issue was when the cop outside the hospital is attacked and killed by the dogs that shred him like rice paper in a paper shredder! The one thing I am liking so far about the series is that all the main characters are likable and you find yourself cheering for them to get past all this madness that is happing around them.  I also must say I like the idea of animal zombies on the loose looking for human flesh to eat and infect! The cover on this issue is pretty dang cool and showcases an infected lions around human bones, and for me next to issue # 1, this is what caught my eye and made me want to read this series. The art inside once more is done by Tony Guaraldi-Brown and looks just like the rest of the issue so far in the mini series. Issue four was leaps and bounds better than issue three, and I can’t wait to see what happens in issue five and how they plan on ending this creepy plague story.

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The Final Plague # 5   *1/2
Released in 2014     Cover Price $3.99       Action Lab     # 5 of 5

While the lab workers and army are talking about waiting for the CDC and what they can do to try to discover a cure, the facility falls under attack as the animals are freed by a lab doctor who has been infected that leaves rats and monkey that are crazed on the loose and slaughtering any human they can find! The army general and two scientist are the only ones to make it out alive, but they soon find that the world outside is also in bad shape and they are the only ones who have a clue of what the virus is and are the only hope to treat it. While the cops lead the doctors, nurses and Michaels family out of the hospital and get them all to their cars, but the dogs are waiting and kill many of the survivors.  The Michaels family leaves the hospital and soon return to their farm and find that their animals have been killed and infected.  The family’s bull charges wife Helen and son Thomas knocks his mom out of the way and is killed by the bulls horns, as the young man dies in the arms of his family the series comes to an end.

This fifth and final issue is a MAJOR letdown as nothing is answered and there is no real ending to the story as so many questions and characters are left high and dry. The plot of this issue is just to kill off most the army and lab workers during an ape and rat attack that leaves only three survivors, and to get the Michaels Family out of the hospital and away from the dogs and back to the farm and to have the son meet his end by the horns of a infected bull. But here are the things that this final issue left wide open and for this horror comic reader made this series fall apart: What happened to the zoo workers that were trapped by the lions outside? Why is it that Robert Michaels is not being affected by the nasty rat bite to his shoulder, and is he the cure to this outbreak? What is the virus and why is it bringing animals back from the dead? Who is the hooded figure that appears on two of the five covers but never appears in the actual comics? I mean I get it, he is one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, but come on and put him in an issue at least! And this is just a small amount of issues that are left out in the cold in this final issue and again made this long time horror comic reader very upset and kind of ruined the experience of my read. At the end of the comic they also acted as if the series was going to continue in late 2014, and this never happened as we are now in 2017 and no new issues are slated to be made, making this mini series a dead end read. But I don’t want you all to think that I hated this series as it had some positives: the characters are all likable, the story in the raw is fantastic and could blossom into something really cool if given more time. The characters go through a change as well as The Michaels Family grow together and even have to face heartbreak when one of their own dies.  The cops and army do what they are suppose to do and stand their ground to protect and serve, and the scientists do what they do best, they science and talk about things that bore normal people to tears! The acts of murder and mayhem are well done and the red stuff flows like wine as animals bite and rip flesh and faces are even ripped off! The cover for issue five is pretty great with the hooded plague man holding the body of Thomas Michaels spoiling his death for sure.  The art is once more done by the chaotic style of Tony Guaraldi-Brown, and this wrapped up a comic series I was so hyped to read and even though I feel it let me down slightly I still enjoyed it and would say that fans of films like Day Of The Animals and Wild Beats will enjoy it. Below is some artwork from this series so sit back and enjoy the crazy animals and their killing ways.

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So now that The Final Plague is stagnate waiting for a series to come along and wrap it up, I think we should leave the world of animal viruses behind and step into the squared circle again as we take a look at another pro wrestling icon as we talk about the one and only Kevin Nash! I would also like to take a moment and tell all you readers and friends that if you enjoy comics, make sure to think outside the box of just getting issues from Marvel, DC, Image and Dark Horse and give companies like Action Lab, IDW, Eibon Press, Sparkle, Rough House, Boom and others a chance as each company is making some amazing stuff.  So again give the independent comic companies a chance as they are sure to entertaining just as much as the bigger companies. So until next time read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you back for an Oz of a good time or is that Diesel of a good time?

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Ashes To Ashes Burial By Rats

Well this was suppose to be Ghosts of Dracula, but I misplaced the final issue so you get…RATS….. Thousands…. Millions Of Them! All Red Blood! All these will I give you if you only read Rotten Ink! That might not be the exact quote Renfield gave in the 1931 film version of Dracula for Universal Pictures, but it was close. Growing up I liked rodents, and even had two as pets that I got from my neighbor when they were tiny babies when her pet mouse had a litter. They both were little females; one was grey with a white side strip and underbelly who was called Grey Man while the other was just solid white with red eyes and her name was White Man…yeah for some reason my brother and I decided that little female baby mice looked like little people so they got nicknamed men. They were my buddies, and I used to hang out with them all the time as they were well behaved and when letting them run free in my room they never wanted or even tried to escape. Both of them had things they liked to do with me. White Man loved to fall asleep in my lap or on my shoulder while I read comics, books or magazines while Grey Man was all about me playing NES games and would spend time watching the lights on the screen. Both of them were so gentle, and I never once was bitten by either nor was anyone else I let pick them up.  They were perfect pets and well loved by me and my family. They would even take sunflower seeds from your hand and would be so gentle. Sadly as those of you long time readers remember, White Man passed away from a tumor while I was away at camp and Grey Man passed away a short time later. They both lived a long life, and I loved them both equally and miss them as they truly were perfect. I know you’re probably thinking it’s silly that I cared this much for mice, but to me they were just like the cats and dogs I owned, a part of my family. Some time passed before I got another mouse, and when I did I got him from Jack’s Aquarium and Pets.  He was a black and white male named Ben, and yes, he was named after the film that I had seen a number of times on TBS and was even hosted by Grandpa Munster on Super Scary Saturday. Ben was a good little guy.  While moody, he still never bit me and for the most part was chill.  Ben, however, was always trying to escape his cage and would even climb his water bottle and try and push the lid off the cage…he never got away, but man he tried. Ben was very different from Grey and White as he would not sit still for long and only time he would was when he would be on my bed and get warm and fall asleep. After Ben passed away, my next tiny rodent pet was a Hamster called SPG named after the Hamster from the BBC show The Young Ones, and man he was mean and liked to bite even when he was happy! Below are some pictures I took of White Man and Ben, and while a Grey Man one was taken, it was so blurry that it would not scan well.  Sorry, I know these two are bad as well, but I took them when I was a kid.

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In 1995, New Concorde Pictures released a film to cable TV and video called “Bram Stoker’s Burial Of The Rats.”  The film was produced by Roger Corman, the master of the B-movie, and was directed by Dan Golden.  It was based on a story by you guessed it Bram Stoker and adapted to screen by a total of 4 writers. The film follows a young Bram Stoker as he is taken prisoner by a rouge group of female bandits called The Rat Women who are ruled by a flute playing queen and seven white mice whose tails are tied called The King. The twisted tale is to show how and why Bram went on to become of the world’s most famous horror story writers. The film stars Kevin Alber, Adrienne Barbeau, Maria Ford, Olga Kabo and in smaller roles actresses Nikki Fritz and Linnea Quigley who each played Rat Women. Now I can remember this on VHS sitting on the shelf of K&L Video and the poster hanging on the wall of the video store for awhile and always trying to get my brother to rent it because it had Maria Ford in it who I really liked at the time but I will get into that more later.  My brother always shot it down and said that it looked boring and would then go for films like Deadtime Stories or Don’t Go Into The Woods. So it would be years after it’s release before I would see it, and I found the film entertaining and goofy and must say Maria Ford looks fantastic as a warrior woman. The film performed badly with critics and fans, and as of 2014 it has a 4.1 out of 10 stars on IMDB. But I don’t want to get too much into the plot of the film here, as the comics we will be covering from Cosmic are the adaptation of the film. But before we move on we will take a look at some of the lovely actresses that are in this film.

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Adrienne Barbeau started her career in entertainment in the 1960’s.  After being a Go-Go dancer, she landed some roles in theater in such musicals as Fiddler On The Roof, Grease, The Best Little Whore House In Texas and even a nudie musical called Stag Movie. She left the theater in the 70’s to become a TV star and took roles in such shows as Maude, Love Boat, Fantasy Island, All In The Family and even participated in The Battle Of The Network Stars. Along the way she married horror film director John Carpenter as well as posed for a high selling cheesecake poster that helped spark her rise as a sex symbol and was a topic for drive in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs who helped the actress gain more attention. In 1980 she starred in her first horror picture when she played the lead role in the film The Fog.  She went on to star in many other horror/sci-fi films over the years that include Escape From New York, Creepshow, Swamp Thing, Two Evil Eyes, Unholy and Burial Of The Rats. At this time she also took some roles in comedies that went on to become cult classics like Back To School, Father Hood, The Cannonball Run, Cannibal Women In The Avocado Jungle Of Death and Scooby-Doo On Zombie Island. Barbeau at the time of acting in films still do roles on TV with one of her biggest being the voice of Catwoman on Batman The Animated Series in the 1990’s, and speaking of her voice talent she also lent her pipes to a few video games like God of War III, Halo 4 and Batman: Arkham Asylum. As of 2014, Barneau is 69 years old and shows no signs of slowing down as she is still taking work in movies, TV and video games. Barbeau in acting is known for always playing the tough woman who has the take no crap attitude as well as for her large natural breasts. In the film Burial Of Rats, she plays Queen Rat.

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Olga Kabo is a Russian actress and theater performer who at a young age mastered the English language as well as dance and acting as she got her first major role by the age of 15. As she grew up she got more and more roles and became a very popular actress of Russian cinema and was the star in such films as Lysistrara Comedy, Burial Of The Rats and The Ice Runner becoming a sex symbol with these roles. Nowadays, at the age of 46 she spends most of her time acting on stage and still being a popular draw to fans who come to see her perform. In Burial Of The Rats, she plays Rat Woman Anna.

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In the 1990’s, one woman’s name stood out to me when it came to being in low budget horror and sleaze films and that name also marked another big celebrity crush for me. I first laid eyes on Maria Ford in the 1990 slasher film sequel “Slumber Party Massacre III” where she had darker hair and played the part of Maria. I quickly became a fan of the beauty and began buying her films from local video rental stores with the second film I saw of hers being  “Stripteaser” with many more to follow like “Showgirl Murders”, “Rain Killer”, “Deathstalker IV: Match of the Titans” and “The Unnamable II” to name a few. Something about the skinny blond haired Maria Ford drew me in and I was taken back on just how sexy girl next door she looked. I even got my friend Jason Gilmore to become a fan of hers and by watching her films he also found an actress that he became a fan of named Nikki Fritz. Around this time I would say one my favorite actress in these style of no budget films would be Maria Ford as well as J.J. North and Ariauna Albright, Charlie Spradling, Denice Duff and my top was Tina Krause. I spent so much time and money buying films that had her name on the cover box.  While many were terrible, it was okay because I got to see Maria do her thing and act well even with poor scripts she was given. As I grew older Maria Ford’s roles became fewer and fewer, and the last major one I could remember coming out was one that was released to VHS when I worked at Blockbuster called “Perfect Fit” and that was a dark comedy. Maria Ford also went on to be in a bunch of Cinemax Soft-Core Adult titles and had small roles in many Hollywood films as the cute girl like in “Beethoven’s Fifth” and “The Addams Family Reunion”. She was also on TV with roles on 7th Heaven and The Drew Carey Show showing that Ford had a lot of talent. While over the years her appearance has changed, I still find myself a fan and would love to work with her sometime in my life.  Could you imagine her being in a Baron Von Porkchop episode…that would be epic! In Burial Of The Rats, she plays the lovely Rat Woman Madeleine. Oh and look at these pics below, and see why the young Matt Brassfield fell in love with Maria Ford! Also I want to say that she is not just an actress but she is also a model and dancer.

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From pet rodents to the beauty of Maria Ford, I think we are ready to tackle this comic series don’t you? Now I am sure your wondering why I did not talk about Bram Stoker and his writings, and the simple answer to that is I am going to really cover his career when I take a look at Topps Comics 4 issue run based on the Francis Ford Coppola film “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” and to be honest I am really looking forward to that. Before I do I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. I also want to think Lone Star Comics for having all three of these issues in stock.  So with no more wait let’s go see what it’s like to be Buried Like A Rat!

Burial Of The Rats 1

Burial Of The Rats # 1   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #1 of 3

In 1854, a woman slits the throat of her abusive husband and flees into the sewers where she finds a nest of young rats and is happy to become their Queen. Years pass and it’s now 1864 as Bram Stoker and his father are traveling by coach when their driver is killed by rats, and they are attacked by hooded figures.  During the attack Bram kills one of the assailants and is knocked out and taken to a castle where he is to be judged by The Queen and as for the father he is left knocked out in the middle of the woods. While captured Bram finds that his two capturers are beautiful woman.  Anna has dark hair and a mean spirit, and Madeleine, who is blonde, seems to have a touch of compassion in her. Bram is sentenced to death by a pendulum that he is tied to and after each woman takes turns hitting a switch with a hammer he is lowered deeper and deeper into a pit that holds blood thirsty rats! Anna has the honor of the first hit and Madeleine is to deliver the last which she does half heartedly sparing Bram’s life! Bram is thrown back into his prison cell, and it’s clear that both the Rat Queen and Anna want him dead but Madeleine seems to want to spare his life knowing that he only killed one of their “sisters” trying to protect his father. It’s clear that a bond is happening between Bram and Madeleine as she brings him his book and even bathes him with a wet cloth, but Anna and The Queen have other plans as they want Bram to come along on a raid with the hope of him trying to escape so that they can kill him! As Bram is being prepared for the raid, his father who is tired and beat up makes his way to help…

The first thing I want to say about this comic is the mood is just right and has a real sleazy Roger Corman feel to it. This issue follows a young Bram Stoker way before he wrote Dracula or any of his other horror stories as he becomes a prisoner to The Rat Queen, a crazy woman who plays a flute that controls the city’s rats as well rules over a group of warrior women. Bram Stoker, who is the main focus of this series, is by no means a man’s man in this issue and in fact is shocked when he shoots one of the hooded attackers and after doing so is quickly beat down. Even if he is no Lone Ranger or Tarzan, I find myself cheering for him to survive this bad situation. Madeleine, who was once a prostitute who was forced into being one when her family was murdered, is still a pure and loving woman who is clearly hiding behind a warrior’s attitude. Anna however has nothing but hate in her heart, as she was once a slave who was beaten with whips by a high-ranking village official  While she is a bad girl, I really like the character who you know is also clearly in love with Madeleine. The Rat Queen is a crazy old bat who gets joy in killing men and bossing rats around.  She is clearly one of those characters that you hope meets a very horrible end. The Rat King is pretty kick butt as its seven white rats whose tails are all locked together.  They all wear crowns and love flute music. I must say that so far this adaptation is starting off right because this first issue is very entertaining and is making me looking forward to the second issue. The art of the comic is great and has most the characters looking like the actors that played them in the film and is done by Francisco Solano Lopez who should have been hired to do many more horror movie themed comics! The cover is just a blown up image taken from the films VHS cover box and the poster used to promote the film. So let’s get back to the story and see if Bram tries to flee on the raid or it he will stay and try to be with the lovely Madeleine.

Burial Of The Rats 2

Burial Of The Rats # 2   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #2 of 3

Bam traveled along with the Rat Women as they entered the village and killed all the priests inside the church stealing all the gold and letting the rats eat the flesh off their victims. Bram leaves a blood smeared note in an open book for his father and heads back to the castle with the Rat Women. Madeleine steals a pen and paper and brings it to Bram in his cell and he starts to write about his time with them and talks of the raid he just witnessed. The next day as Bram is reading his writings to Madeleine, Anna over hears it and reports it to the Rat Queen who sneaks up on this happening.  To Anna’s shock, the Queen likes what she is hearing/reading and allows Bram to continue his book in hopes that when it comes out it will make all men fear them! When Bram and Madeleine are alone they confess their love for one another and make love, but that night Bram also has a nightmare that has everyone on the castle turning into Rat People! At dinner Madeleine brings Bram to the feast and he talks The Queen into another raid to save a 12-year-old girl who was busted for stealing and as punishment was sent to work at the whore house.  Anna is against the raid as she feels it’s to soon after the attack on the church by they go ahead and do it anyway. Bram enters the whore house and looks for the young girl and when he finds her a fat slob of a man is in with her, he deals with the man as Anna and Madeleine make their way into the room via the window and all together they save the young girl and the rats have a feats on the fat mans flesh. The raid does not go off without it’s downsides as the madam of the house runs to the police and a witness sees the women and hears them call Bram’s name! As they flee back to their home Madeleine is captured, and Bram is believed to be the ruler of the Rat Women by the police!

Oh the horror of watching rats eat the flesh off of dying men…no, really it’s a pretty cool scene for this second issue in the adaptation. This issue’s main focuses are the fact Bram’s writings have saved him, and he is in love with one of the Rat Women.  They do another raid too soon but it’s all for a good reason to save a young woman and Bram proves that he will do the write thing and is a huge help in the raid and lastly that Bram’s father has not given up on finding his son alive. Bram in this issue while still not a tough guy like Wonder Man or STEEL he is very smart and uses what little power he is gaining from respect from The Rat Queen to his own advantages. I love the fact that he could have easily tried to escape during the second raid but knew that saving the young girl was the more important thing to do. Madeleine is truly a warrior with a heart and while loyal to her fellow Rat Women love is also on her mind. The Rat Queen while crazy also seems to know right from wrong and in a weird way by this issue you as the reader start to wonder who the real bad guys are, given the fact everyone they have murdered has been a terrible person! Anna is filled with not only hate this issue but also jealousy as its clear she wants the affections of Madeleine and despises the fact Bram is getting it and not her. The issue is filled with more rats eating the skin off men’s bones as well as has Anna blowing the neck off a priest who has been molesting women in the church, all gruesome stuff that the horror comic fan in me was very happy to see. The art once more is done by Lopez and is fantastic, but his time around the cover is a little weak and kind of generic or better yet I should say is good for a pin up but not a main cover. Well at this point we have one more issue to go, and then we will be at the end of Bram Stoker’s adventures with the Rat Women.  I don’t know about you, but I really can’t wait to see how this one ends.  So let’s not waste time and dive right in and hope we don’t get eaten alive by the rats.

Burial Of The Rats 3

Burial Of The Rats # 3   **1/2
Released in 1995    Cover Price $2.50    Cosmic Comics    #3 of 3

The Rat Queen and the Rat Women return to the castle and are happy about the night’s raid, but word comes quick that Madeleine has been captured and that one of the other Rat Women is dead! Bram is upset by this news and so is Anna, and the two argue in front of The Rat Queen.  To prove his loyalty to the Rat Women he must pass two tests to be one of them: the first test is to drink the blood of Anna and the second one will be decided by Anna after they rescue Madeleine.  They all rush off to do so and clash with prison guards and army soldiers alike, but the rats and The Rat Women are successful.  This rescue also has some downsides as Bram saves Anna from her old “master” by killing him before he killed her and thus robbing her of her revenge, and second Anna, unbeknownst to anyone else, knocks out and kidnaps Bram’s father! Back to the castle Madeleine is weak but still gets up to watch Bram’s final test set before him by Anna, to stab and kill his own father! When he refuses Anna pulls out a gun and is about to shoot them both, just as she pulls the trigger Madeleine jumps in front of her man and takes the bullet! Anna is tore up that she just shot the woman she loves so she commits suicide and as this happens the army has shown up and attacks the castle killing many of the Rat Women and even Rat Queen dies when she kills the Captain and breaks her flute causing the Rat King and his fellow rats to attack and kill her. In the end Bram, his father and the body of Madeleine escape the castle that is burning and Bram knows now more than ever he must become a writer.

It’s a love triangle that is built on blood, teeth and romance and sadly we all know that for one person it’s not going to end well…and that person is Bram as the rage of Anna leads to Madeleine’s death and then the raven haired beauty commits suicide.  He is robbed of his love and even revenge. This issue brings the whole story to an end and focuses on the rescue and untimely death of Madeleine and shows what events cause a young Bram Stoker to write his classic horror stories like Dracula. Bram in the issue also shows that when pushed he will fight back and kill if he has to, his love for Madeleine was strong so strong that he was willing to throw away his old life to become a full member of The Rat Women. Madeleine in the issue is pretty much at death’s door from the start as she starts off the issue a prisoner where she is being tortured for answers and when rescued she is weak and then gets shot! Poor woman, all she wanted was true love with her soul mate. Anna is a sad case as she really does love Madeleine, and it’s clear to me as a reader that they had something going on before Bram showed up and stole her away. Plus I feel bad for her because she so wanted revenge on the man who beat her when she was a slave but Bram as well took that away from her. Mr. Stoker, Bram’s father, is kind of just a pawn in the story and while he plays a part in how the story unfolds, he just kind of was a background player in terms of how much impact he had on me. Rat Queen turned out to be all right, and all she really wanted in life was to be free of man’s world where women were treated lower than the rats she commanded.  It’s a fitting end for her as she is eaten alive by her King and all the other rats she once commanded. By the end of this issue, it seems as if the men of the evil world around them win as the castle is on fire, the Queen is dead as are many of the other Rat Women making one truly wonder if the right side won. The art by Lopez captures the feeling of the low budget film so well you almost wish the series would have continued with more adventures of young Bram Stoker and what’s left of the Rat Women.  The cover on the last issue as well is pretty good and reminds me of some of the covers used by Eternity for their comic based on The Puppet Master films. Over all this series held true to the film and was entertaining enough that it kept my interest during every issue. If you’re a fan of Bram Stoker, horror comics, the film itself and even comics like Red Sonja and Kull The Conquer then I would say you should check this comic series out. Below are some samples of the artwork used in the comic.

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The three issue comic adaptation of the low budget Roger Corman film is packed with blood and gore, a pretty interesting story and characters that are entertaining and capture your interest and for that Cosmic Comics gets a big thumbs up from this comic reader for being able to turn a so-so film into a enjoyable comics. The one thing that is off is while the characters of Madeleine and Anna look like actresses Maria Ford and Olga Kabo, the Rat Queen looks nothing like Adrienne Barbeau as in the comic she looks like a 99-year-old hag! Cosmic also did a few more series based on Roger Corman films like Little Shop of Horrors, Death Race, Caged Heat and Rock N Roll High School and at some point on here I will be sure to cover them.  I would also like to dedicate this update to Roger Corman for being the man when it comes to making and producing B-Movies and to Maria Ford for being a very underrated actress. So next update I am thinking we will take some time away from comics and do another Horror Host Icon, and this time around I think I am going to take a look at the world’s youngest Horror Host Dr. Freak! So make sure to come back for that one as I am sure you’ll learn a thing or two about this zany horror host! So until then read a comic or two and enjoy a B-Movie!

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