A Very Merry NES Challenge Christmas Eve: Dragon’s Lair

Merry Christmas Eve to all you readers and friends, and this year has been a weird and wild ride for me as lots of great things have happened, from moving into a new home to making amazing comics with my friends at Sparkle Comics and even getting to travel to Evans City Cemetery twice this year! But sadly this year has also been a rough one for fans of horror as we lost many of our icons like George A. Romero, Tobe Hooper, Martin Landau, Michael Parks, Bill Paxton, Umberto Lenzi and Lon Madnight and each loss was very sad. Not to mention the world of entertainment lost many other names like Tom Petty, Bernie Wrightson, Adam West, Jerry Lewis, Chuck Berry, Ivan Koloff, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, George Steele and Basil Gogos to name a few. So make sure this holiday season to cherish your family, friends, co-workers and celebrities and anyone who offers something to your life. So let’s get back to the joy of the holiday and our topic at hand: Dragon’s Lair in the world of video games, cartoons and comics, and yes, I will even have an NES Challenge and try my best to try and beat the game! So grab your armor and helmet as we are about to go on a winter wonderland adventure with Dirk The Daring!

The hero of the world of Dragon’s Lair is the one and only Dirk The Daring, a high ranking knight for the kingdom who is selected to save the Princess Daphne from all the evil that keeps trying to kidnap her and do her harm. Dirk is well respected by the Kingdom as he is very loyal and brave and later even becomes the husband of Daphne, making him an heir to the throne! Dirk was trained at a young age to be a brave knight as he was in the Squire Scouts and even earned top badges during this time. When ready for battle Dirk gears up with his iconic armor that includes his orange over shirt and uses his sword as well as his fists, feet and head in order to fight off his enemies. I should also note that Dirk The Daring was only chosen to save the Princess after all the other knights in the Kingdom failed and were killed on this quest! So to sum up Dirk The Daring it would be this, he is a brave, loyal and smart knight who is willing to risk his life to save the Princess from a dragon and wizard and for this selfless action even finds himself the heir to the crown! Dirk The Daring is a very simple character who embodies the classic knight of old lore and is one iconic and yet sometime forgotten classic video game character.

In 1983, arcades were all the rage as machines were all over the place from pizza parlors to grocery stores.  These machines gobbled up many of players’ quarters as games like Pac-Man Jr., Donkey Kong 3 and Mario Bros. had eager gamers waiting in long lines to get a chance to try to get the top score on the machine! And during this early day of arcade machine domination, cartoonist Don Bluth and writer Rick Dyer created an interactive animated laserdisc game that as well took the arcade world by storm and even sparked sequels and many homeports of the game! The arcade game was such a hit that it, along side Pong and Pac-Man, are the only three arcade machines stored at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.! The game has been ported and remade for many home systems like Sega CD, Xbox, Playstation 2, CD-I, Nintendo DS and so many others including cell phones! In 1990, the game was released by Imagesoft, who made the game more of a side scrolling adventure game and took away the animated character of Dirk The Daring and made him into a 8-Bit hero of the home console generation as the game followed the same plot of the arcade game and turned up the difficulty to deliver a true challenging game. But with this change and the difficulty level came frustration as Dirk can be killed with one hit and almost everything can kill him including closed doors. This made gamers and critics go crazy, and the game was not well received and is considered as one of the worst games for the NES. So now that we have a brief history of this game and we learned about its over all poor reception from gamers, I can’t wait to spend a day trying to beat it on the NES!

Really quick I also need to briefly talk about the episode of The Angry Video Game Nerd where he took on Dragon’s Lair for the Nintendo Entertainment System! Back in 2007 for episode 37, The Nerd took a funny and frustrating look at Dragon’s Lair and went crazy trying his best to beat the game for the NES and found out that the game is brutal and unforgiving and nothing at all like the arcade game it was based on. Try after try he ended up losing his character’s lives and losing his cool in the process! This is a very funny episode that has the nerd drinking to try and deal with the brutal nature of the game and ends with him bumping into a close door and dying just like the character of Dirk in the video game. If you like crude and funny humor videos on YouTube, give this one a watch as it’s a good one.

In 1984, a cartoon of Dragon’s Lair was released by Rudy-Spears Productions for ABC and was part of the sadly long gone Saturday Morning Cartoons. The toon followed Dirk The Daring as he once more did his best to save and protect the lovely Princess Daphne from evil such as Singe The Dragon and Phantom Knight and at the end of each episode we are left with a cliffhanger leaving the viewer wondering how Dirk is to escape his approaching doom. The cartoon was short lived and only lasted 13 episodes and would later be replayed in reruns on USA Cartoon Express and Boomerang where it found a new audience. Voice actor Bob Sarlatte voiced Dirk The Daring while Ellen Gerstell lent her pipes to Princess Daphne. While this cartoon was not super popular and never made a huge impact in the world of toons, it was released on DVD thanks to Warner Brothers and now fans can relive it or even discover it for the first time. I remember barely it and know that I have seen episodes on USA Network but sadly don’t remember much about it besides I liked it.

Before I get into the NES Challenge part of this update, I want to also talk very briefly about some of the cool merchandise that has been made based on Dragon’s Lair that included coloring books, picture books, DVDs, comics, video games, stickers, plastic toys, trading cards, lunchbox and even very cool action figures! So what I am trying to say is that if you’re a fan, you can get yourself some cool items or heck maybe even ask Santa for some next Christmas! I think the action figures are pretty dang cool and are something that I feel I must track down.

So I decided to take my NES Challenge of Dragon’s Lair on November 8, 2017 as Juliet had to work all day and I was itching to try and tackle this legendary hard game! So starting at 9pm I hooked up the old RES (Retro-Bit Entertainment System) and grabbed my NES Controller and was ready for the show down of a lifetime! I poured a large glass of water, grabbed my iced coffee and opened a small bag of chips and cleared my head of other projects I was working on and knew that I had to take control of Dirk The Daring, as he needed to save Princess Daphne…so here is what happened in my showdown: upon starting the game up I noticed that the good old RES is starting to have some issues and that the controller has having major issues as it acted like it was not plugged in, and after working on it, I finally got it to work and my first impression was wow this game sucks as the controls seem delayed and this causes you to be open to the attack of the sea monster that is the first baddy you encounter! Plus while bats only drain your energy such things as rocks, doors, fire and most other bad guys can kill you in one hit! After playing for a few moments and lots of frustration, I was able to get into the castle and then that’s when the major frustration kicked in as the slow sloppy controls, one hit kills and random pop up enemies all kept causing Dirk to die and me to start the quest all over! No matter how much I tried, I was stuck in that damn dungeon and was driven to anger on just how terrible this game I was playing really was! After several hours of playing I really built up a strong dislike for the game and quickly forfeited to its suckiness, and I am not ashamed to say I did not beat Dragon’s Lair for the NES as its terrible controls made it a waste of time in trying to play as it seemed like it was fighting you not to advance. Below are some pics of me playing this game….man it was so bad!

So that NES Challenge was a waste as I found myself really disliking the game play and the delay really annoyed me to the point I just needed to walk away. But we are now at the point of the update where we will be taking a look at the comics based on Dragon’s Lair, and we will start with the Cross Gen series and work our way into the Arcana release. So as we sit here waiting for Santa Claus to come down the chimney, the snow man in the front yard would like for me to remind you 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! So grab some hot chocolate or even some eggnog and let’s take an epic Christmas Eve journey with Dirk The Daring! I also want to thank Lone Star Comics, Ebay and Amazon for having these comics in stock so that I could do this update.

Dragon’s Lair # 1  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 1 of 3

The evil dragon Singe has his sights on revenge when it comes to Dirk The Daring, and this revenge has also sparked pure hatred and bloodlust of wanting to see our hero dead for all of the dragons he has killed in the past! Princess Daphne has been asked to run the Kingdom while the King is away, and as she and Dirk are on their way there, they are attacked by Singe and his smaller sidekicks.  Soon Dirk and Daphne find out that this dragon is super powerful as he defeats Dirk and takes Princess Daphne prisoner. After waking up from his defeat, Dirk The Daring heads to the Kingdom and finds a group of heroes that want to help on his quest to get the Princess back that are Leraene, the female Captain of the Royal Guard, and Drake, a young wizard’s apprentice who uses what little knowledge he has to look into the flame and sees lots of enemies and the dark castle that Singe is hiding the Princess in. Dirk tells his friends they must stay and guard the kingdom, and he finds that Daphne is being held in a magical bubble that in two days will warp her mind and cause her to be Singe’s slave and that the only way to kill Singe is by using a magical sword called the DragonFang that is as well in the castle. Dirk has the info he needs and gears up and heads out to save the day as our first issue ends.

The is a very fun and slow burn fantasy adventure comic that does its best to bring the video game characters and universe to the comic book world, and in my opinion they do a pretty good job of doing so. The plot is simple, that the granddaddy of all dragons Singe is mad at Dirk The Daring for killing many of his kind and wants revenge and sets out his plan that includes kidnapping the princess and taking her to a place that will be filled with lots of dangers all with the hopes of ending the life of Dirk! Our hero is Dirk The Daring, a noble and strong knight who does not back down in the face of danger and will do whatever he can to protect The Princess who he respects and loves. Dirk also kind of has an ego but not to the point that he is narcissistic or cruel to characters around him he just is very confident and don’t have time for those who drag their feet around him. Daphne, while a princess, is also very much a skilled fighter, and while she was kidnapped during this issue, she at least tried her best to fight back even biting the dragon, so clearly she is not your typical weak princess kind of character. Singe is a massive dragon who is not only powerful and filled with fire breathing rage but also is super smart and has hatched a plan to get revenge. I really cant wait to see what Singe has in store for our heroes. Drake is a goofball but his limited magical knowledge could come in handy, and Leraene is skilled and a great warrior to be at Dirk’s side in this rescue quest. I also am looking forward to seeing what they will offer in the upcoming issues. While the action of this comic is at the start and the rest is building up the story, I found this first issue to be a solid read and showed that CrossGen understood the folklore and character history of Dragon’s Lair. The cover is eye catching, and I am sure not only brought in fans of the video game but also adventure comic fans. The comic’s interior art was done by Fabio Laguna, and is top notch classic animated looking art showing they hired all the right people to make this comic book work! Over all I am looking forward to reading issue two, and can’pt wait to see what Dirk The Daring and his friends are planning on this rescue mission.

Dragon’s Lair # 2  ***
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen      # 2 of 3

Dirk The Daring enters a creepy swamp, and after finding a Hydra Snake, he finds himself in quicksand and must hope that his trusty horse saves him in time. Meanwhile Singe thanks that Dirk died from their first battle and Princess Daphne soon finds out that the Dragon has many human brides that were once princess as well and that soon she will loose her free will and become one of his brides as well! As Dirk is saved by his lucky horse who is named Bertram ,and they find themselves at a dark castle that belongs to the Lizard King who is helping Singe and wants to do his best to kill our hero! As Bertram leads the alligator henchmen away from the castle Dirk and Lizard King have a fight that leads the evil Lizard King falling out of a window and into the mouths of his hungry alligators who eat him alive, as Dirk The Daring and Bertram head toward the dark castle of Singe.

In this second issue, Dirk The Daring fights the Lizard King (no, not Jim Morrison of the band The Doors!) as well as all the creepy crawlers of the swampland and gets one step closer to rescuing his true love. Dirk The Daring is focused on his quest at hand, and once more proves he is not scared to risk his own life in order to save his Princess. I also really like that Dirk on his quest is really leaning on his trusty horse Bertram for backup and boy does this horse help pull his fat out of the fire a couple of times. Dirk is a great hero in comics just like he is in video games, and in this issue he acts like a true knight! Singe is once more shows that he is cold blooded as he enjoys the fact that he has enslaved many of Princesses and that he killed Dirk The Daring or so he thinks. The Lizard King is a loud mouth little reptile man who tries his best to end the quest of Dirk but is out classed when it comes to battle and finds himself dinner for his very own pet gators! I really like the dingy swamp atmosphere in this issue as it adds a feeling of dread to the quest and is filled with snakes, spiders and killer lizards showing that many sinister things are going to stand in the way of Dirk’s rescue mission. While the first issue was part action and part story drama, this second issue goes for mostly action and only a small part drama making for a quick and fun read. The cover is pretty cool and once more eye catching for fans of the game and adventure comics. The interior art is once more done by the talented Fabio Laguna and is great stuff. This second issue is just as entertaining as the first, and I can’t wait to see what the third and final issue has in store for Dirk The Daring and us the readers.

Dragon’s Lair # 3  **1/2
Released in 2003     Cover Price $2.95     Cross Gen     # 3 of 3

Princess Daphne finds herself stuck in the bubble, and none of the other Princess will help her escape as the mind washing of free will is creeping even closer, and Singe himself has the only key to open the bubble around his neck! Meanwhile Dirk The Daring and Bertram have entered a graveyard and soon find that they are being surrounded by zombies and skeletons that want both man and horse dead as they are craving death and souls! Dirk and his trusty horse fight the horde of the undead and even trick a massive skeleton into destroying himself! After they escape the graveyard they make their way even closer to the castle of Singe.

This issue is lots of fun but also slips a little as I found it to be a little lackluster on the adventure part, and Dirk fighting the undead seemed like it was just him running through them and them exploding into piles of bones…and I never felt he was in danger in this issue like I did in the past two. But while this issue is not as solid as the past two, I still want to stress that it is a very good issue even with this slight flaw. The issue’s thin plot has Dirk The Daring charging through a graveyard filled with the reanimated dead while Princess Daphne tries to figure out how to escape the magical ball she is trapped in as it’s trying to drain her of her own will and mind. Dirk and Bertram in this issue are once more working as a team and do well for themselves in this battle, and Dirk’s sword cuts down their enemies, as does the mighty back kick of Bertram.  They make a great comic duo and are top notch heroes for sure. Princess Daphne, even while captured, proves that she herself is also a warrior as she is not giving up and tries all she can to escape the odds that are clearly against her. It’s a shame that CrossGen lost the rights of Dragon’s Lair comics, and this was the final issue in their series as it leaves the story unfinished and Daphne still in that dang bubble! Singe is a sinister and sleazy dragon as he eats people, bosses princesses and makes them dress sexy and seems to get joy in causing death and destruction. The Undead, while they swarm in masses, they just were outmatched by Dirk, and they mostly just fell apart after one hit making them no major threat. I think what works for me about this series this far is the fact they did a fantastic job of blending the Dragon’s Lair video game and the cartoon together to make a fun and entertaining comic series that brings all the elements that made Dragon’s Lair special together. The cover on this third issue is okay and in my opinion is a little generic, but still also somewhat eye catching and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is top notch stuff as he captures the mood and spirit of the characters. I think the downside to this comic series is that CrossGen dropped the ball when they did not finish the story arch as three issues are missing to make this series complete. But lucky for readers, in 2006 independent comic company Arcana decided to finish this series and allow readers to see how the adventure quest ended. I feel its my duty to track those down to give you all a true look at Dragon’s Lair so let’s see what is next of Dirk thanks to Arcana! And not to confuse any of your readers I will number them as if they are part of the CrossGen set, but keep in mind while it will say its issue 4 for Arcana it’s only issue # 2!

Dragon’s Lair # 4  **1/2
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana     # 2 of 4

Dirk The Daring and Bertram find themselves at a flowing river of lava and must split up in order to get across. Dirk dashes across on boulders and finds that he is not alone as Mud Men appear and attack! Dirk decides instead of fighting them and wasting what little time he has left to save the Princess, he dives below into a river that ends up leading him to the castle of Singe. Meanwhile inside the castle Princess Daphne tries to trick Singe and his slave women into believing that she is indeed wanting to be a part of his harem but soon finds the dragon king is smart and knows she is playing games in order to escape. Dirk meanwhile has entered the castle and finds all types of ghouls and baddies waiting for him that includes small purple ones that are multiplying! Dirk outsmarts them but soon finds himself behind a door that leads to a fire pit and attacking purple enemies behind it!

Dirk furthers his quest as he makes it past the Mud Men, out runs tiny purple knife swinging goblins and makes it to the castle of Singe! While this is a great adventure and continues the quest, I did once more feel that none of the baddies he faces are any threats to stopping him! Dirk The Daring as always is super brave and shows that he is also smart as when time or the odds are against him, he knows just they way to get away safe. Bertram is barely in this issue as he breaks away from Dirk in the lava river and disappears.  I hope they don’t write him out of the series and that he comes back in the next issue. Drake and Leraene also make a small cameo as they can see what the Princess is doing and mostly chat about her sexy outfit…weird. Princess Daphne however is still not giving up the fight and wants to murder Singe with her own bare hands if she can escape the bubble! Singe is getting cocky as he thinks Dirk is dead and that the Princess will soon be mind wiped and his slave forever. The Mud Men and Purple Goblin guys are cool but are easily tricked and are left in the dust for the most part. I do like the idea of Mud People and for some reason it made me think of the Muck Men in the 1980’s horror film Spookies. The cover for this issue is pretty fantastic, and the interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is topnotch stuff. So over all it was great to see the next issue in this series after Cross Gen dropped the ball withnot finishing it. So let’s see what the next issue has in store.

Dragon’s Lair # 5  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 3 of 4

Dirk The Daring is stuck on a small ledge above a fire pit with the creepy little purple goblins behind him and climbs his way out and dodges a horde of bats before entering a chamber where a beautiful dark haired woman is asking Dirk for his help. The woman is brainwashing Dirk that she is the true one she needs to help and while seducing him, he notices that she is not a hottie but a green skinned witch! Meanwhile Princess Daphne’s will is starting to break as she is down and almost given up as Singe tries to tell her he is not the bad guy that Dirk is as he has killed many of his dragon children and he is doing this for revenge…and that he is evil! Dirk meanwhile fights off the trance, and the witch calls in the Black Knight, an armored killing machine, who throws Dirk around and just as he is about to choke our hero to death the Black Knight gets his arms cut off by a gasping Dirk who then also kicks his armless foe out of a window. The Witch is now very mad and tries to use a spell to turn Dirk into a statue, but our hero is too smart for her and her spell bounces off a mirror and freezes her. As Dirk leaves her room he falls through a trap door!

This fifth issue is really good, and my only major complaint is that for some reason Dirk The Daring spews one-liners like Ash from the Evil Dead movie series, and it’s just not fitting for Dirk. The plot of this one is very simple Dirk is now in the castle where his true love is being held captive while she is being tormented by the evil dragon. Dirk in this issue gets seduced, wises up and hacks up a knight who is trying to kill him…so as you can see Dirk is a man on a mission and will not back down from his quest at hand. Singe is an evil dragon that really does get joy is torturing his captive prisoner and who clearly likes being powerful and in charge. I also like how Singe at first makes it that you feel bad for him as he talks about the reason he is doing this is cause Dirk killed so many of his children and he felt he needed to get revenge for them, and then says plus he is just evil and enjoys all the bad he does. Poor Princess Daphne is starting to loose her strong will as it appears she is stuck with no hope of being rescued before the next full moon and her mind is turned to mush and she becomes another bride of Singe. The Witch is sinister and uses the appearance of a very hot woman to lure Dirk in and when he finds out she is not what she appears she wants him dead and is indeed a threat! The Black Knight as well is very much a threat as he only has one thing on his dark mind and that’s to kill Dirk and even when his arms are chopped off and is kicked out of a castle window he still is silent and its clear he would still fight Dirk until his very last breath! The plus for this issue for sure is the fact The Witch and Black Knight appear as if they could in fact kill Dirk and both at least put up a major fight. The cover is super cool and I am sure caught many eyes of comic readers and the interior once more is done by the talented Fabio Laguna and man its really sad that we only have one more issue to go in this series so lets see how this quest ends.

Dragon’s Lair # 6  ***
Released in 2006     Cover Price $3.95       Arcana      # 4 of 4

Dirk The Daring falls hard to the ground after stepping onto a trapdoor and shakes off the effects and finds himself at the gold treasure room of Singe who is fast asleep.  As he makes his way to Princess Daphne, it’s clear the bubble is starting to make her dumber and when all the other slave women freak out over seeing a real man, a screaming match breaks out and this awakens Singe who is ready for battle. Dirk tries all he can to defeat the dragon from his trusty sword, an ax and even a spear and nothing seems to slow Singe down, but this is all a plan as Dirk tricks Singe into melting the stone that traps the DragonFang sword, and he uses this blade to slay Singe and is just in time to get the key from around the dragon’s neck and free Princess Daphne from the bubble, and by shattering the bubble, this also frees the minds of all the other slave women and once more Dirk The Daring is the hero!

This final issue is fast paced and has a good and fantasy final battle between Dirk and Singe that leads to an ending fitting even for the game, as almost the whole issue is the final battle and it ends with a sword to the heart of the dragon. Dirk The Daring shows why he is considered the top knight of the kingdom as he uses both skill and smarts to slay the dragon and free the Princess. That’s one thing about Dirk throughout these six issues he stays as noble and heroic making him a true hero and icon of video games and comic books. While he can also be goofy and stumble around, it was the one-liners in issue five that was the only thing I didn’t like about the comic version of this character. Princess Daphne in this issue is becoming dumb and her will is almost broken, but once save she is the kick butt woman she needs to be and becomes a great character that can also defend herself. Princess Daphne is a great character and while her captive outfit might border on porn star look, she still is a very strong female character who does not play the victim even when she is in trouble. Bertram is a loyal horse who in his own right is a hero as he saves Dirk’s life many times in this comic and is also very brave, the down side is when Arcana took over doing the comic series this horse takes a back seat and only appears at the start of issue 4 (2) and does not show back up to the very end of issue 6 (4) making him a minor player when he should have been major. Leraene and Drake are very much background hero characters and in fact add nothing really cool to the story and could have been cut out and it would have not mattered to the story. Singe is a great bad guy as he is not only a massive dragon but he is also sleazy and dangerous who enjoys all aspects of being evil! I also like the fact he is ready to fight and kill any hero who dares cross his mean spirited path. The other baddies in this comic series are just speed bumps in Dirks quest with The Black Knight being my second favorite villain in this series being Singe. I must say I do think that the creative team behind these comics really did a great job of capturing the fun and epic feel of the Don Bluth’s video game. The cover for this final issue is pretty great and show cases Dirk with Singes image in his sword. The Interior art is once more done by Fabio Laguna and is good stuff as even some of his rushed looking panels are still amazing! I also like how in this issue a panel has golden statues of Orko from Masters Of The Universe as well as one of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker! I also really like the fact that this comic series when dropped by the original publisher was able to be finished three years later thanks to a Publisher who picked up the slack and allowed fans to get the full story. If you’re a fan of the video game and or the cartoon this comic series is for you! Below is some artwork form this fun adventure series.

So as you can see, while the NES game based on Dragon’s Lair is a stinker, the comic series was not. Growing up I never had a full connection to these characters but always did at least find them cool, and I really wished I had read these comics when released in 2003/2006 as I think I would have even enjoyed them back then. But I just finished my last glass of eggnog, and I think I can hear reindeer hooves on the roof so I think we should get some slumber so Santa can do his work. Our next update will be my Best Of Cinema of 2017, and man ,I am looking forward to you readers checking it out. So have a wonderful Christmas, and I will see you all next year!

Spend Christmas Eve With The Gremlins!

Merry Christmas Eve, and welcome back to Rotten Ink, my cozy little slice here on the web. This day is always filled with big smiles and heartwarming moments, another thing it brings is Christmas movies and TV specials! How many of you remember watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” or even “Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer” on your local station? Or even watching classic holiday films like “It’s A Wonderful Life”, “White Christmas”, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, “Ernest Saves Christmas”, “Prancer” or the ever so classic “A Christmas Story” on a cold December night? But for monster kids like myself, this time of the year also brings horror Christmas films that warm the heart as well as chill the blood. I mean who can not want to watch films this time of year like “Silent Night Deadly Night 1-5”, “Santa Claws”, “Silent Night Bloody Night”, “Jack Frost”, “Christmas Evil”, “Elves” or even the film that’s todays update and of course I am talking “Gremlins”! I mean every kid I knew growing up loved this film and everyone I knew talked about it with affection and wonderment, as it was a film we could all bound over. So I want to think you for spending a small part of your Christmas Eve with me and am very proud to bring you this update based on the beloved classic film Gremlins, so join me on this zany update that I hope will fill your mind and soul with a little joy. And I need to remind you of the rules of Gremlins for our own sanity and safety! 1.) No Bright Light, the light will hurt them and could kill them. 2.) Don’t Get Him Wet, as that makes them multiply! 3.) Never Feed Them After Midnight, as this will cause them to spawn from cute little Mogwai to a cacoon that hatches and now you have a sinister Gremlin on your hands! So with those rules in mind lets move onto this Joyess update.

Christmas Gifts red

So as always we should start our look at Gremlins with taking a look at the 1984 movie, I can remember watching this movie around Christmas every year when I was a youngster on Beta Tape and later VHS and it really did become a staple of my Holiday viewing. Even when I got older and worked for Blockbuster Video for the Holidays my Store Manager use to let us play G and PG films that fit the season and I always selected Gremlins, and not much has changed on that front as now at Game Swap if Gremlins is in stock it goes in to entertain shoppers and employees alike! So as always the films write up is coming from IMDB to keep me from being long winded and I’ll also break down its Box Office numbers here in America.

Gremlins Movie Still 1Gremlins PosterGremlins Movie Still 2

Gremlins (1984)

Miniature green monsters tear through the small town of Kingston Falls. Hijinks ensue as a mild-mannered bank teller releases these hideous loonies after gaining a new pet and violating two of three simple rules: No water (violated), no food after midnight (violated), and no bright light. Hilarious mayhem and destruction in a town straight out of Norman Rockwell. So, when your washing machine blows up or your TV goes on the fritz, before you call the repair man, turn on all the lights and look under all the beds. ‘Cause you never can tell, there just might be a gremlin in your house.”

Gremlins is one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time as it mixes the magic and wonder of the Holiday season and tosses in a dash of Horror. I can as I have said remember watching this film on VHS/Beta when I was a kid and almost wearing out the tapes, as I could not get enough of Gizmo and his war with Stripe and the evil Gremlins. The film was directed by Joe Dante who directed such films as The Howling, Piranha, Explorers and Innerspace to name a few. The stars of the movie are Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Dick Miller, Hoyt Axton, Judge Reinhold and Corey Feldman to name a few as well and had Howie Mandel doing the voice of Gizmo and Megatron himself Frank Welker lending his pipes to Stripe as well as other Gremlins. The film was Scored by Jerry Goldsmith and distributed by Warner Brothers and executive produced by Steven Spielberg with it being released on June 8, 1984 with an $11 million dollar budget. The year it was released Gremlins made $148,168,459.00 at the US Box Office and was # 4 for the year beating out such other classic films like The Karate Kid, Star Trek III: The Search For Spock, Purple Rain, The Terminator, Friday The 13th IV: Final Chapter, Conan The Destroyer, The Last Starfighter, Dune, A Nightmare On Elm Street and so many more classic and cult films! In fact 1984 was one epic year for movies as it was filled with many classics as well as cult classics! The film is packed with so many moments that have stuck in my mind over the years from the baby Mogwai’s eaten cold fried chicken after midnight to them playing a miniature Donkey Kong arcade machine, clips of classic Horror movies and TV shows playing on the televisions, Robbie The Robot (Forbidden Planet) walks by in a scene and the stacks of Comic books in Billy’s room all stuff that is fun, silly and great moments of the film.

Gremlins Movie Still 3

The films main star is a cute little guy called Gizmo who is a species known as a Mogwai. Unlike others in his species he is kind and gentile and refuses to be evil like his brothers and sisters who want to morph and become Gremlins. Gizmo is named that after Billy and his father talk about how he likes and can figure out how to use the gadgets the father makes. Gizmo was originally owned by Mr. Wing and later belonged to Billy and then back to Mr. Wing until the old mans death and then he returned to live with Billy and Kate in New York. Almost every fan of this movie growing up I can remember them owning a Gizmo doll and almost every woman I have ever meet who loves this film series LOVES Gizmo. Super smart, super cute and much like Rambo when pushed he will fight back…in other words Gizmo rules!

Gizmo 1Gizmo from Gremlins.Gizmo 3

So we talked the hero of the film so we might as well chat a little about the leader of the bad guys the sinister and evil Stripe! Stripe was born from Gizmo after water is spilled on him and from his birth on he had a sinister streak and also seemed to be a leader to the other Mogwai. Stripe is named this as he has a white Mohawk that looks like a stripe on the top of his head. Stripe also hates Gizmo as he not only as a Mogwai but also a Gremlin will do what ever he can to hurt or kill him. Once a Gremlin the more murderous side of Stripe comes out as he uses guns, saws and arrows to try and kill anyone who gets in his way namely Billy. Super smart and having a real mean streak makes Stripe a very mean foe, but by the end he meets his end and we will get into that a little later in this update. While gone some say he was reborn in the second movie as Mohawk who spends the movie trying to kill Gizmo and Billy and even turns himself into a Spider Gremlin. Love him or hate him Stripe was one of the 80’s coolest bad guys of kid movie cinema.

Stripe 1Stripe 2Stripe 3

The original Gremlins had many stand out creatures from the ski mask wearing robber Gremlin to Stripe the white Mohawk leader of the pack of mischief makers, but for me one of my all time favorites has to be the popcorn bag eared Gremlin who was watching Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs at the local movie theater! Something about this strange Gremlin who decided that wearing popcorn bags on his ears was the right choice always made me laugh as a kid and has always stuck with me even as a adult. I think someone should make a Gremlins comic book series and have issues that follow some of the Gremlins during the first break out and do one on old popcorn bag ears! I think IDW would be the perfect home for comics based on Gremlins and while at it they should also do a series about The Goonies another film my generation and beyond holds near and dear. While he only had seconds of screen time Popcorn Bag Eared Gremlin will always be one of my favorites in this film just behind Stripe.

Popcorn Bag Gremlin

One thing I should touch up on is the fact many youngsters of the 80’s had a huge crush on Phoebe Cates who played Kate Beringer in Gremlins 1 & 2 as well as had roles in other classics like “Drop Dead Fed”, “Date With An Angel” and of course “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” where she has the famous pool scene were she pops her top! And I was one of those youngsters who thought actresses like Phoebe Cates, Mia Sara, Helen Slater and Kerri Green were the be all of beauty. Phoebe is pretty much retired from acting with her last role being in the 2001 film “The Anniversary Party” and she is married to actor Kevin Kline who is known for his roles in classics like “A Fish Called Wanda”, “Dave” and “Wild Wild West” to name a very select few. Phoebe Cates at the time of this update is 53 years old and as lovely as ever, thanks Mrs. Cates for making the 80’s and early 90’s awesome with your beauty and your acting skill and film choices. Check out below for some pictures showing the beauty of Phoebe Cates.

phoebe cates 1phoebe cates 2phoebe cates 3

While this update is based on the adaptation of the original Gremlins movie, I feel that it’s my duty to cover the second film as well! So once again the film’s plot is taken from IMDB and for me was another fun must-watch as it now added horror hosting, Christopher Lee and over the top silly comedy to the mix.

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Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)

An army of malevolent little monsters take over a high-tech corporate skyscraper when a cute and intelligent exotic pet is exposed to water. The “Mogwai’s” owner joins forces with the Trump-like head of the corporation to regain control.”

You cant keep good Gremlins down and in 1990 a sequel called “Gremlins 2: The New Batch” was released in theaters to add another crazy and silly adventure for Gizmo, Billy and Kate to get through. Many things made this movie stick out to me and I might as well share them real quick with you on this Holiday update. I loved the New Gremlins who were cross breed with other things to create such gremlins as Electric Gremlin, Brain Gremlin, Vegetable Gremlin and Bat Gremlin to name a very few. It’s great to see Christopher Lee as Doctor Catheter in the film as well as having Dick Miller return as his character Murray Futterman from the first film. I also really like the fact that they have a Horror Host character named Grandpa Fred who is a vampire that’s hosts terrible movies. You have to think that parts of this movie is spoofing Ted Turner and Al Lewis aka Grampa from Super Scary Saturday. Also a Pro Wrestler has a cameo in the film but we will get to that a little later. The film didn’t do to well for Warner Brothers at the US Box Office bringing in $41,482,207.00 on a budget of $50 million, but made up for it on Home Video. The film ranked # 31 for the year of 1990 and beat such classic and cult films as Rocky V, Darkman, Predator 2, Child’s Play 2, The Exorcist III, Ernest Goes To Jail, Quigley Down Under, Tremors, Duck Tales: The Movie, Death Warrant and Tales From The Darkside: The Movie to name a select few. While not a Box Office hit every kid I knew growing up loved this silly, goofy film! Oh and the picture below is the Phantom Of The Opera Gremlin…yeah he was one of my favorites! I should also note that the sequel was directed by Joe Dante again and starred returning cast Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates and Dick Miller and has actors like Christopher Lee, Robert Prosky and John Glover added to the lineup.

Phantom Gremlin

When I was a youngster as all you long time readers and friends know I was and still am a huge Pro Wrestling fan and I can remember going crazy when Hulk Hogan showed up in a cameo in Gremlins 2! During the movie The Gremlins stop the film being mischief making little monsters and the theater usher goes into the theater and asks Hulk Hogan if he can help to get the film back on track and after cutting a great promo about soda and popcorn the Gremlins in fear start the movie up again! Hulk Hogan was such a big icon amongst kids I can remember kids on the playground after seeing Gremlins 2 talking about his scene in the movie among the excitement of all the different Gremlin styles. As always The Hulkster added to the enjoyment of the youth with his over the top cameo in Gremlins 2.

Hulk Hogan in Gremlins 2

Like all good kids movies of the 80’s Gremlins sparked a rush of merchandise based around its characters! Such amazing things like toys, novels, kids books, posters, Halloween costumes, trading cards, Shrinky Dinks, Colorforms, shirts, breakfast cereal, candy, Plush Dolls and a slew of other cheap products and junk foods. Growing up I can remember eating Gremlins cereal in the morning as well as had many of the trading cards and ate the candy that we would get from UDF as it came in a plastic head of Stripe or Gizmo and they seemed like something I had to have in my youth. I also owned the Novel adaptations of both Gremlins 1 and 2 as well as many of the kids books based on it. As an adult I own theatrical posters for both Gremlins and Gremlins 2 that are hanging on the wall inside of Game Swap in Kettering and as well have the Colorforms I got from the store Twin Evil. So much merchandise was released for this film showing you that Warner Brothers knew they had something special with this film. So growing up what kind of Gremlin stuff do you guys own?

Gremlins Shrinky DinksGremlins Kids BookGremlins Trading CardsDon Post Gremlins Halloween Costume

Some of the best merchandise has to be the action figures and dolls that was made when the film was released and are still being made even to this day. Growing up I had many PVC figures from Gizmo to Stripe that latter who I also owned a bendable of. I can also remember my Uncle had one of the larger Stripe action figures and my brother and me were so obsessed with it. With in the last few years I started to collect some of the NECA figures based on Gremlins and Gremlins 2 as they are very well made figures and look great on a shelf. Last year Funko as part of the ReAction figure series of retro style 3 ¾” action figures released ones based on Gremlins that showcased not only Gizmo and the Gremlins but also Billy! Growing up I wish they had these Star Wars size Gremlins figures as they would have been a welcome addition to the Toy Wars, imagine Stripe and his fellow Gremlins trying to murder the Ewoks at the Ewok Village playset! So if you’re a toy collector many great actions figures have and are being made based on this iconic holiday classic movie and it’s sequel!

Stripe Toy In BoxNECA Gremlins FiguresReAction Gremlins Figures

Jerry Goldsmith is a legend of making score music and has done so for many iconic films like “Star Trek: The Motion Picture”, “Alien”, “First Blood”, “Psycho II”, “Congo”, “Mulan” and so many more and of course on this list was both Gremlins and Gremlins 2! The films main theme called “The Gremlin Rag” is such an iconic piece of music and a tune that I find myself humming pretty often, and to be honest I have also caught my girlfriend Juliet as well humming it! The soundtracks are something we play on Alpha Rhythms from time to time as well as on Game Swap’s Radio that plays overhead. While I would say that the original Gremlins soundtrack is a must own for fans of score music, I would say Gremlins 2 while very good and solid is more for diehard fans of the film. But if your love score music like me make sure to give these a listen as they will help add to your Holiday Mood if you’re a Monster Kid.

Gremlins SoundtrackJerry GoldsmithGremlins 2 Soundtrack

Gizmo would also make a leap into the world of Video Games and started out in 1984 when two games based on the movie for Atari 2600 and Atari 5200 was released to gamers, and while the game was nothing special it seemed like a must have for my friends who had Atari’s growing up. The Nintendo not to be left out in 1990 thanks to SunSoft released a video game based on Gremlins 2, this was a game I can remember renting from the video store and latter ending up just buying it used. But while those two are the video games that stand out to me many other more modern games have been made as well based on this film series for such systems as Wii and Game Boy Advance. I should also note that Commodore 64 as well had games based on Gremlins come out it can be said for PC as well. I would love to see a company like Telltale Games make a modern game based on Gremlins for the PS4, but sadly I don’t see this happening.

Gremlins Atari 2600 BoxGremlins 2 NES BoxGremlins Wii Box

So with it being Christmas Eve and all I think it’s time to take a quick break and plug in the old RES (Retro-Bit Retro Entertainment System) to play a Pacnsacdave game based on the original Gremlins! Yes this is a homebrew NES Games based around the 1984 film and has you take control of Gizmo as you make your way through a building that’s been over run with Gremlins all looking to kill you! I got this game on a NES Cart as well in a great clamshell style package with cover art and must say I was very happy with the presentation of this product and must say that Pacnsacdave does fantastic work with his reproduction products. Christmas time always makes me think of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) as way back in my youth my parents got me and my brother one as a shared gift on this holiday, and I can remember the pure hype we had when playing our very own system and trying as a family to beat Super Mario Brothers and all having a blast playing Duck Hunt. So many great old school memories of the NES with friends, family and co-workers and here tonight I want to share another NES memory and that’s me playing and maybe trying to beat Gremlins!

Gremlins for the NES

I decided to play this game on May 31, 2016 as I had the day off from work and it was right after Memorial Day spent with Juliet and her Parents. I was focused and ready to try my best to see just how far I could get in this game as well as see just how fun and challenging it was. When the game first came in my Cousin Stephen Alexander and myself played it and found that it was super hard, but we were not fully trying like I am today so let me tell you about my time playing this game. As Gizmo I started my mission on top of building and was only armed with baseballs that had to throw at some dogs we want to throw me off the building! Once inside one of the buildings you must dodge not only Gremlins but also security cameras that hurt you when you’re spotted. The game is very challenging and I spent lots of time trying to get into the building as the two crates that I was suppose to stack and climb did not want to cooperate with me on this day. And Once inside I did pretty well dodging the cameras and Gremlins and played for about an hour or so when something really annoying happened…the controller just stopped working! I tried unplugging it and putting it back in but sadly nothing helped and this cut my game playing a little short, but damn what I was able to play was lots of fun and well worth the buy and I really do look forward to playing all the way through soon! So if you like classic 8-Bit games and enjoy Gremlins make sure to check out Pacnsacdaves Etsy shop and get your self a copy of this fun and challenging game.

Gremlins for the NES in a RESGremlins NES Screen ShotGremlins for the NES Case

It’s time for the review part of this update and with the chill in the air I think we should all take a moment and grab a mug of hot chocolate or even eggnog and while at it a few Christmas cookies, as I feel it’s the right time to do so! But remember if your reading this after Midnight do not give any cookies to your pet Mogwai! I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and Gizmo is telling me to remind you that 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 want to also share with you that when I was a kid I had this Golden Book comic adaptation of Gremlins and at some point over time it was gotten ride of and I thought I imagined that a comic of Gremlins was made when I was 36 and later this year after digging around the internet I found that it was not just in my mind and my memories of art from it was real! So I am really looking forward to re-reading this again and sharing it with you my Friends and Readers this on this special Holiday update. So I hope you have your drink of choice in hand and have Gremlin insurance as its time to unleash Stripe and his band of mean spirited Gremlins!

Gremlins 1 Golden Book

Gremlins # 1  **1/2
Released in 1984   Cover Price $2.95   Golden Book   # 1 of 1

Rand Peltzer is a inventor who is one business trying to sell his new invention called the Bathroom Buddy when he stumbles onto a shop while looking for a gift for his son, the shop is filled with strange items and is run by an old Asian man and his grandson that owns a little creature called a Mogwai that Rand tries to buy but is shot down by the old man. After leaving the grandson tracks down Rand and sells him the Mogwai and tells him the three rules of the creature. The rules are simple no sun light, no water and do not feed it after midnight. Meanwhile in Kingston Falls Billy Peltzer’s car will not start so he and his trusty dog Barney have to walk to work and while doing so saves a cat from being hit by a car that belongs to the town’s snotty old lady named Mrs. Deagle who after Billy leaves she discovers her snowman destroyed and she comes to his work and lets him have it in front of everyone. Billy after work visits Kate a co-worker from the bank he works at, who is also working for a small bar and returns home just in time as his father Rand is coming back and gets his gift the Mogwai he names Gizmo. While visiting to drop of a Christmas Tree Billy’s young friend Pete by accident spills water on Gizmo that causes him to spawn more Mogwai’s who are more mean spirited than Gizmo who they pick on as well as Barney! The next day Rand takes Barney to the Grandparents house and Billy takes a Mogwai to Mr. Hanson who is going to study the creature. But things quickly get worse when the Mogwai’s all eat after midnight and turn into eggs that hatch and unleash mean little creatures known as Gremlins! One with a Mohawk named Stripe kills Mr. Henson and Billy’s Mom is even attacked and must fight for her life against a house full of the Gremlins. After Billy saves his mom he and Gizmo go on a hunt to try and kill all the remaining Gremlins but by accident in the local YMCA thanks to Gizmo armed with a flashlight Stripe falls into the pool and spawns a heck of a lot more Gremlins! Now the town is under attack and this leaves many of the citizens of Kingston Falls dead including Billy’s boss at the bank, his neighbors the Futtermans and Mrs. Deagle! Billy saves Kate who is being swarmed by Gremlins at the bar and along with Gizmo they set up and kill all the Gremlins at the local movie theater by blowing it up! But what they thought was the end of this crisis soon turns into a war as Stripe is still alive and hiding out at the department store and while Kate and Gizmo hide in the main office Billy goes in armed with a baseball bat to defeat Stripe who is using buzz saw blades and bow & arrows to take down Billy, but thanks to his dad Rand and dog Barney his life is spared just in time. In the end as Kate turns on all the store lights Stripe heads to the home and garden area and jumps into the water fountain to spawn more of his kind, but thanks to Gizmo he takes down the tarps covering the window and allows sunlight in and this kills Stripe. That night at the Peltzer house Billy, his parents, Kate, Barney and Gizmo are all together, as the old shop keeper shows up and takes Gizmo back and walks away into the night with his Mogwai, as Billy misses his friend but knows he had to leave.

This adaptation is very kid friendly and tones down the violence and adds bigger panels with large text to allow an easier read for youngsters. The story is intact for the most part but is a little rushed but the plot is still young Billy gets a new pet called a Mogwai and by not following the rules it spawns and his clones turn into evil Gremlins that torment the small town and Billy must man up and along with his true love and his pet Mogwai must stop the invasion. Billy Peltzer is a good young man who is trying his best in the small town he lives in, he loves a girl whom he as crushed on for years, he works a bank job that he don’t fit in at and has his bosses always run him down the road for minor things like the fact he wears clip on ties! But Billy really is a good guy and when the town starts to go to hell he is the one who stands up and takes the fight to the Gremlins and rids the town of their evil ways. Rand and Lynn Peltzer are good parents who love their son and are trying to just get by, while Rand means well with is invention they just don’t work and they are not paying the bills as their home is about to be foreclosed on. But like their son when things go bad they fight back against the Gremlins and try to do their part in ridding the town of them. Kate Beringer is a sweet, attractive and big hearted young lady who does what’s right and clearly is the girl next door who every guy crushes on. Gizmo is also a very nice Mogwai who is well behaved and knows the rules himself of his species and quickly turns from a pet to a member of the Peltzer family, plus in the end to win the final fight he puts his own life on the line to save Billy’s and the towns. The Gremlins are mean spirited and get joy in hurting and killing and in a short time causes so mush problems in the small town that it’s like a bomb was dropped. Stripe is the leader of the Gremlins and is the most evil one of them as he really enjoys killing and wants nothing more than to be cruel and destroy all that’s around him. Side characters like the Futtermans, Mrs. Deagle and Pete all serve their purposes and add some great background characters and in some cases victims. Some major changes from the film to comic is these things No depressing story from Kate about her father dying, the deaths of characters are toned down and less impactful and many of the funny Gremlin characters are missing and besides Stripe they all look the same. The cover for this comic is ok but not really that eye catching as its just a movie still of Kate, Billy and Gizmo placed below a cream colored box that has the Gremlins logo as well as the Golden Book one and the price. The art in side is pretty well done with none of the characters looking like the actors from the film, but the Gremlins and Mogwai look really good. The art is done by Adrian Gonzales who is know for his work on comics like Arak Son Of Thunder and World’s Finest Comics for DC. The best part about reading this comic is the fact that while doing so many of the art panels came back to my memory from when I owned this as a kid and a real sense of nostalgia swept over me. Over all this is not amazing as it does feel rushed and watered down, but it is good and well worth reading for fans of the film and I would say that I am glad to have it in my collection. Check out some art work from this comic below to see the style of Gonzales.

Gremlins Golden Book Art 1Gremlins Golden Book Art 2Gremlins Golden Book Art 3

Ok now that the comic review is over and you know the twists and turns of the story if your new to the world of Gremlins I can talk about a scene from the movie that was super brutal and reminded me of Dracula’s death by the sun in the Hammer Horror film “Horror Of Dracula” and of course I am talking the death of Stripe in the water fountain via the sun! I mean when first watching that movie as a youngster my jaw dropped when Gizmo opens the blinds in the home and garden area and the suns rays hit the body of Stripe causing him to jerk around and melt into a puddle of slime and ooze! At one point Stripe turns into a skeleton and even his bones bubble and melt away, I am sure if you seen this movie as a kid you remember just how brutal this death scene is in a kids film! While Stripe was the most evil of all the Gremlins he in fact meets his end the worst of anyone or thing in the film. But I don’t want to give you to much nightmare fuel this Christmas Eve so all I will say is the death of Stripe I am sure has scarred many of you readers and below is some pictures from his gross death!

Gremlins Death of Stripe 1gremlins22Gremlins Death of Stripe 2

Wow this was lots of fun talking about Gremlins as it really is one of many of my favorite films of the 80’s and is something that for sure has it’s place here at Rotten Ink thanks to Golden Books who made this fun adaptation in 1984. So with Santa coming soon and the Christmas Tree lights glowing I want to say I hope you all have a great Christmas that is spent with loved ones, great food and gifts as that is what mine will be like as I plan on spending the day with my parents and girlfriend Juliet. Our next update will be my top films of 2016, something that we do every year…and wow it’s almost 2017 a year that is packed with many great films including a new Halloween film! So until then have a safe and fun Holiday season, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host, see you next year.

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