Horror Host Icon: TNT Monstervision – The Moon & Narrator

Back in the 90’s, network TV had cancelled many of the amazing Horror Host shows that graced their airwaves as the TBS show Super Scary Saturday with host Grampa Munster was history in 1989 with that same year USA ended Commander USA’s Groovie Movies and even the original run of Movie Macabre with Hostess Elvira Mistress Of The Dark came to an end by the late 80’s. But in 1991 TNT stepped into the Horror Host game and delivered Monstervision to weekend viewers that became a mainstay for the station all the way to the year 2000! Most of you readers know Monstervision with its Host Joe Bob Briggs, but did you know that the show had more hosts then just him? That’s right before Joe Bob there was The Moon, Penn & Teller and Logo with Narrator’s Voice! And for this Horror Host Icon update we will be taking a quick and yet fun look at The Moon and The Narrator as I feel they are very important to the legacy of Monstervison as well. And I have been itching to talk about Monstervision and my Joe Bob Briggs update is in the works but still years away from being posted, so it’s with great pleasure that I bring to you Horror Host Icon: TNT Monstervision – The Moon & Narrator! So let’s get our MOOOONSTERVISION on.

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TNT Monstervision started on June 29, 1991 and was a way to bring viewers marathons of classic Horror and Science Fiction films plus TV Shows as special epic feeling events. The marathons would run all night and would keep fans glued to the TV Screens fighting off sleep to watch all the cheesy goodness. And our guide for Monstervision for the first year or so was a smirking Moon who was in the sky who would accompany a Narrators Voice over, and this pairing clearly got joy in bringing you classic films for your late night viewing. The Moon in the sky seemed to always be looking at the viewer and with a half grin and a sinister glee in his eye it was as if he was warning you about the classic films that awaited you that evening’s marathon. While The Moon was silent his expressions really did say everything you needed to know as you entered the world of TNT’s Monstervision! While his run as the Host of Monstervision was very short The Moon made his impact not only with the fans but also in the world of Horror Hosting. And one other very important fact I would like to point out is when The Moon was the host all the films were classics from the 40’s-70’s and stayed clear of the rated R fright flicks the show would go on to be known for.

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Sometime later before and even after comedy duo Penn & Teller took over for a very short time an amazing Voice Narrator was the soul host of the show and would talk over the shows opening as well as logo and title cards. The Narrator would make the show sound so epic as he would stress the shows title and deliver one of the best voiceovers for a Horror Host show in the 90’s. This Voice also helped co-host the show with The Moon and brought the excitement as his tone would boom! But to be honest there was two different voice actors that did the Narration for the show over the years and each brought their own touch or should I say golden pipes to the show. The Narrator would last as the host all the way up until 1996 when the show became a weekly program and had a permit host with a true icon of Horror Hosting the one and only Joe Bob Briggs who had his own announcer…so yeah I guess the show had a total of three…or at least I think three….so many classic voice work on this show!

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Growing up I was much like James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) as I would grab the TV Guide and scroll through to find what monster movies were playing that week and when Monstervision was on it was like an all night marathon of cheesy and fun classic genre films! My Mom and Brother most of the time would remember for me what was coming on and I would rush to turn on the TV to watch the films. Monstervision through out it’s entire run was a very important part of my childhood as alongside USA Up All Night, Moraine Playhouse Theater and USA Saturday Nightmares during this time was must see TV for me and filled the void left behind of Commander USA, Dr. Creep and Grampa Munster being off the air. Crazy to think that Monstervision was the show that introduced me to many amazing classic Sci-Fi and Horror films with the one standing out the most to me being the 1956 film The Werewolf that aired on a Monstervision Marathon on Christmas night in 1993, I even taped it back then and became obsessed with that film for years after….sadly that VHS tape is long gone and I wish I had that airing for this update. While writing this update it was great to remember back to the early years of Monstervision when it was a true event when it came on and the films lasted all night and delivered chills, thrills and adventures to all those who watched. It’s a shame that TNT has followed the path of USA Network and have became a shell of what they use to be, but who knows now that they brought back wrestling to the station with AEW Dynamite so who knows maybe Monstervision’s return is in the cards as well with a new host or even back to the none hosted format, one thing is for sure if this happens I will be tuning in.

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The Monstervision Narrators are as important to the shows history as Joe Bob Briggs and while the Moon might not be as remembered he still was apart of the shows legacy and made his mark on viewers. Now it’s time to take a look at the episodes of MonsterVision I have that feature The Moon or just The Narrator and I would like to thank Ebay and my friend Scott Scarborough for making this update possible. I want to remind everyone that I will not be giving these updates a star rating and I will take the films write up from our friends at IMDB and the Host write up is done by me. So lets get ready and take a look at MooooonnnnsssttteeerrVisssion!

TNT MoonTriple Feature DVD

TNT Monstervision: Spaced Out Adventures
Starring – Zsa Zsa Gabor & Peter Graves     Not Rated        1958/1966/1952

Host: This episode is the combo of The Moon and the Narrator who bring us in and out of the movies. While The Moon looks smug and sinister the Narrator brings his A-Game of making the nights film and theme seem like the most important thing on TV that night.

Movies: Queen Of Outer Space: American astronauts are drawn by a mysterious force to the planet Venus, which they find to be inhabited only by beautiful women and their despotic queen. The Wild, Wild Planet: A deranged scientist is using his employer’s top-secret bio-laboratory to engage in clandestine eugenics experiments. When he starts kidnapping leading citizens for use in his twisted tests, it’s up to rogue cop Mike Halstead to come to the rescue of all and sundry, including his lady friend Connie, who is also being held captive by the madman. Red Planet Mars: An American scientist is able to contact and communicate with Mars with shattering political, economic, and spiritual repercussions.

TNT Monstervision - Outer Limits Vol 2 DVD

TNT Monstervision: Outer Limits Vol. 2
Starring – Leonard Nimoy & Martin Sheen         Not Rated       1963/1964

Host: This second TNT Monstervision salute to the Outer Limits Marathon has just the normal TNT Narrator taking us in and out for breaks. We also get a sneak peak at The Moon as they welcome us to Monstervision and that more episodes are to come.

Movie: Soldier: A soldier from the far future is accidentally teleported back to 1964. The psychiatrist assigned to examine the soldier realizes that he has been bred purely as a killing machine, but he believe he can reawaken the warrior’s humanity. Meanwhile, a second soldier arrives, dedicated to hunting and killing his enemy. I, Robot: A cynical lawyer is hired by a young woman to prove that her uncle was not killed by his invention – a sophisticated robot. Nightmare: A stranded team of soldiers are captured and experimented on by demonic looking aliens. Demon With A Glass Hand: Days ago, Trent awoke with no memory of his past. Since then, sinister men have pursued him constantly. He manages to stay one step ahead of them by following the advice of his hand. Made of glass and apparently capable of speech, Trent’s hand can answer many of his questions. But it cannot tell him who he is or why his enemies seek him until he finds all of its fingers. The only trouble is that they’re in the hands of his enemies. The Bellero Shield: Richard Bellero, a dedicated scientist, is working on experiments involving sending laser beams into outer space. His father, Richard Bellero Sr., believes the scientist isn’t strong enough to take over the Bellero business empire. In the meantime, Richard’s wife Judith has more than enough ambition for the two of them. Richard, through a freak accident, reels in a being from another dimension with his laser experiment. The being has a small device that can project a shield that no force can penetrate. The alien at first wants to learn all about earth that he can and Richard cooperates. Judith, however, sees the alien and the shield-projecting device, as a means to power. While Richard is away, Judith first tricks the alien to deactivating his shield device then shoots the alien to prevent him from departing Earth. She removes the hand held device while failing to notice it was connected to a vein in the alien — whose bodily fluid is the key to operating the device. This is the … Cry Of Silence: A couple find themselves lost and in the middle of a deserted valley. Then, they come under attack by a series of rocks, tumbleweeds and animals. What could be causing this assault?

Note From Matt: This was originally aired on November 30, 1991 on a Saturday night as part of their TNT Salutes The Outer Limits II event that featured a total of nine episodes. This tape only has 5 1/2 of the episodes. The episode Cry Of Silence is only partly there. Its missing the episodes “A Feasibility Study”, “Don’t Open Till Doomsday” and “The Chameleon”.

TNT Monstervision - Outer Limits Vol 5 DVD

TNT Monstervision: Outer Limits Vol. 5
Starring –Don Gordon & Peter Breck         Not Rated       1963/1964

Host: This classic Monstervision marathon has just the Narrators Voice set over TV Screens that show clips of the show The Outer Limits.

Movie: Moonstone: A lunar exploration team from Earth encounters alien life, and must make a difficult decision. The Human Factor: At an isolated military installation in Greenland, Major Brothers has allowed one of his men to die after falling in a crevasse. Suffering from hallucinations, he goes to Dr. Hamilton. Hamilton has invented a device that allows him to read the thoughts of another person. Hamilton and Brothers connect via the device, but then a power surge causes the unthinkable: the minds of the two men switch bodies. The deranged Major Brothers is bent on destroying the whole base. Unfortunately, his mind is in the psychiatrist’s body, and the other base workers know nothing of the mind switch. The Duplicate Man: When a dangerous alien creature called a Megasoid escapes, the scientist who smuggled him to Earth creates an illegal clone of himself to hunt it down. But his plan is complicated when his neglected wife begins to fall in love with his duplicate. The Forms Of Things Unknown: Two female friends poison a sadistic blackmailer, then while fleeing happen upon an isolated house containing a time machine. Kasha, his lover, and Leonora, the daughter of the blackmail target, fight to bury him before the idealistic inventor Tone Hobart is able to re-animate the murdered man, by tilting him back into the past. The Invisibles: Aliens plan to take over the U.S. by recruiting disaffected loners who are themselves “invisible” to normal society. The alien crab-like creatures attach themselves to human hosts and control them. The recruits are assigned low-level jobs of highly appointed government officials so they can get the alien in close proximity to them. A U.S intelligence agent infiltrates the alien organization, but it may be too late. O.B.I.T.: While operating the Outer Band Individuated Teletracer, or O.B.I.T. machine, in a military base, Captain Harris is strangled. U.S. Senator Orville arrives at the base to investigate his murder and learns that there are several bases with the O.B.I.T. machine, which is capable to monitor in a video display the privacy of any person anywhere. Along his investigation, Senator Orville asks for information about the OBIT, such as who is the manufacturer, price, who bought, but no user has any information about the mysterious machine. The Guests: A drifter enters a lonely house, unaware that it is actually an alien creature in disguise. Soon he realizes that he is a prisoner, along with several other half-mad inhabitants, but he is determined to escape.

Note From Matt: This was originally aired on February 27, 1993 on a Saturday night as part of their TNT Salutes The Outer Limits V event that featured a total of nine episodes. This tape only has 6 1/2 of the episodes and at the start the commercials have been removed and later in the tape some commercials are shown and the recorders editing becomes very sloppy as parts of episodes are even cut off. The episode The Guest is only the first 17 minutes of the episode.

TNT Monstervision - House Of Wax 1953 DVD

TNT Monstervision: House Of Wax (1953)
Starring – Vincent Price & Carolyn Jones      Rated PG     1953

Host: Film Director Tim Burton opens the show talking about his love for House Of Wax as well as a little about the films production and history.

Movie: Professor Henry Jarrod is a true artist whose wax sculptures are lifelike. He specializes in historical tableau’s such a Marie Antoinette or Joan of Arc. His business partner, Matthew Burke, needs some of his investment returned to him and pushes Jarrod to have more lurid exposes like a chamber of horrors. When Jarrod refuses, Burke set the place alight destroying all of his beautiful work in the hope of claiming the insurance. Jarrod is believed to have died in the fire but he unexpectedly reappears some 18 months later when he opens a new exhibit. This time, his displays focus on the macabre but he has yet to reproduce his most cherished work, Marie Antoinette. When he meets his new assistant’s beautiful friend, Sue Allen, he knows he’s found the perfect model – only unbeknown to anyone, he has a very particular way of making his wax creations.

Note From Matt: This was apart of a MonsterVision event that was called “Our Favorite Movies” that had director Tim Burton not only hosting House Of Wax bust also the films Mysterious Island, The Time Machine and 7 Faces Of Dr. Lao. This originally aired on July 28, 1994 on a Thursday night and my friend Scott only recorded this movie.

TNT Monstervision 20 Million Miles To Earth and IT DVD

TNT Monstervision: Fiend Fiesta Pt. 2
Starring – William Hooper & Ray Corrigan       Not Rated     1957/1958

Host: The Narrator ushers us in and out of the film over clips of films with his spooky voice echoing out. This also the classic colorized film bumpers that helped push Monstervision into super popularity. Plus we get cool Monstervision bumpers and ads.

Movie: 20 Million Miles To Earth: The first spaceship to visit Venus crash lands in the sea, freeing a small native Venusian creature called the Ymir. Eventually growing to enormous size, it threatens the city of Rome. IT! The Terror From Beyond Space: In 1973, the first manned expedition to Mars is marooned; by the time a rescue mission arrives, there is only one survivor: the leader, Col. Edward Carruthers, who appears to have murdered the others! According to Carruthers, an unknown life form killed his comrades during a sandstorm. But the skeptical rescuers little suspect that “it” has stowed away for the voyage back to Earth.

Note From Matt: These are two of the films that showed on August 27, 1994 as part of the “Famous Last Words/Fiend Fiesta” themed marathon and was the last two films of the night! The first three minutes or so of 20 Million Miles To Earth is missing

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TNT Monstervision in all its forums and all its hosts over the years has always been something very special to those of us who grew up watching it and is truly missed by late night TV watchers. I for one would like to see it return to air with a new host (as Joe Bob Briggs is hosting the Last Drive In on Shudder and is delivering one of the best Horror Host programs going) or even just bring back The Moon and Narrator as the world truly needs this and I feel that if Ted Turner was still in charge of TNT the show would have never went away fully as by 2001 most of what made stations like TNT and TBS special was washed away by AOL and Time Warner and as I have stated before they are both just a shell of what they use to be and only delivering a small amount of programing that is worth watching with most programs being aired are just bad reruns of crime shows. For me The Moon and Narrator for TNT Monstervision are true Icons in the world of Horror Hosting and helped make my childhood amazing! Sadly I don’t think Monstervision will ever come back on TNT, but what will be coming back in my next blog update as I will be doing another in my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic updates to help ring in the Halloween season as I will be talking about Wolf Cop and the comic mini series based around it! So until next time read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you soon for a ride along with a werewolf who has a badge that likes beer and doughnuts.

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The Tender Flesh Of Amber Newman

Imagine you’re invited to a nice hunting getaway by a bunch of rich people who you just have meet.  They treat you super nice and feed you a huge feast the night before the big hunt and give you a nice comfy bed to sleep in. When you wake up the next morning you find yourself the prey as you are the rich snob’s human target! This has been the plot of many Hollywood movies like “Hard Target” with Jean Claude Van Damme and “Surviving The Game” with Ice-T, and it also is the plot of the Jess Franco cheap shot flick Tender Flesh that will be the subject of today’s update! So for this quick update we should learn some survival tactics in order to survive yet another Draculina Photo Comic!

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In 1997, Jess Franco made the film Tender Flesh and this film sparked his shot on video “boom” of releases that were coming out via Sub Rosa and Alternative Cinema on VHS and DVD. The film was written and directed by Jess Franco who also did some of the soundtrack and executive produced. It starred Lina Romay, Amber Newman, Monique Parent and Aldo Sambrell with Newman being the lead. The film’s plot that I don’t want to get too much into on this part of the update and would rather save it for the comic part is about a stripper who is sold by her boyfriend into a game of hunting humans on a remote island. I can remember seeing the film on VHS to rent at places like West Coast Video and K&L Video and never wanting to see it all that much even though it did have Amber Newman in it. Years after it came out, I watched the film on DVD with my pal Jason Gilmore during one of our all night watching movies and playing video games marathons and like most of Franco’s work at this time, we both disliked it, but yet still had fun watching just how cheesy and sleazy it was. The film not only was released on VHS and DVD as a single feature but also as a double feature paired with another Franco flick “Lust For Frankenstein” giving the viewer two low budget sleazy films for the price of one. So if you’re itching to see this film after you read the comic adaptation review you can find it out in the world, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

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Tender Flesh stars the queen of softcore porn Monique Parent who was a popular B actress at the time of this film’s release. Her first major role was in the 1991 erotic Cinemax classic “Night Visions,” and from there her career took off as she took roles in such sleazy films as “Sex And The Single Alien”, “Body of Influence”, “Night Eyes 3”, “Sexual Outlaws”, “Stripshow”, “The Key To Sex” and “Black Scorpion”. The role I remember her for is Cassandra in “Mirror, Mirror III: The Voyeur”, while a weak entry in the horror series I still remember her performance. One other really cool thing about Monique is she also was an actress in the full motion video game “Phantasmagoria 2: A Puzzle Of Flesh” as she played Jocilyn Rowan. Monique Parent never broke into hardcore adult films even though her fans wanted her to, and she is still working to this day at the age of 49 as she is to star in the horror film “Axeman 2: OverKill” due out sometime this year. While never one of my favorite sleaze queens, I still respect her work in the b-movie world.

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Another actress that stars in this action erotic thriller is Analia Ivars who was a Spanish actress who did some work before she became one of Franco’s go-to gals when it came to taking her cloths off in his 90’s shot on video stinkers. Her first role with him was Tender Flesh in 1997, and she would go on to show her goods and acting chops in such Franco films as “Mari-Cookie And The Killer Tarantula”, “Lust For Frankenstein”, “Vampire Blues”, “Dr. Wong’s Virtual Hell” and “Helter Skelter” in 2000. After her time with Franco and his One Shot Production Company, she went on to be in a few others films with her latest being “Cenizas Bajo El Mar” that translates to Ashes Under The Sea. A good-looking b-actress who was willing to show it all plus some to help with Francos movie magic is the best way to end this look at Analia.

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Before I torture myself with reading another Franco inspired photo comic from Draculina, I would like to take a look at another film I would love to see turned into a comic series and that’s the 1956 black and white horror film called “The Werewolf” that was directed by Fred S. Sears and stars Steven Ritch as Duncan Marsh, a man lost in a small town (Mountaincrest) during the cold winter with no memory as to who he is thanks to a car wreck, but things are worse for him as he turns into a werewolf and kills a local bully! Now in the snow covered hills in the woods, he hides as the locals come looking for him as does his searching wife and son, but also the two scientists that are the ones who made him into this monster by experimenting on him with wolf’s blood. Will Duncan be saved and returned to his family? Will the Sheriff and his nurse girlfriend be able to find a cure? Or will the scientists kill him before he can tell their secret? The film took a cool twist with the werewolf legend and it’s no longer supernatural, a scientific experiment gone terribly wrong.  This more science driven approach would also be used in the 1957 film, The Vampire. I first saw the film on TNT and taped it on a VHS tape and would watch the film from time to time; it even played on TNT’s Monstervision when it was un-hosted. I really liked the film and the atmosphere of the small mountain town. If this was to be made into a comic book, I would like to see it start from the beginning and act as a prequel to the film, show the evil things the scientist did to Duncan and show how he escaped and his journey to Mountaincrest and all the transformations he had along the way. Duncan as a werewolf could be almost like an antihero much like Eric Cord of Werewolf fame and could in some odd way stop the bad guys while saving the good ones. For instance a young man takes his girlfriend to the drive-in and had very bad intentions after the night’s film, you see he is not who she thinks he is because he ain’t just the local jock he is also a real lady killer! And Duncan stops at the Drive In for a late night hotdog and his Werewolf side ends up saving the young lady from being strangled. Or they could go the opposite and just make Duncan’s werewolf side a killing machine, and show the human sides torment of finding out what his other dark side has done. The comic just needs to end with the car wreck that leaves him with no memory. I would have loved to have seen Dell make this comic, and if I would have it done, I would say Justin Wasson or Jeff Potter would be my picks for sure. Who knows, like the other films I would love comics of made, maybe someday I can get this in a custom comic just for Rotten Ink.

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Well we have arrived at the point on this update where I will be reviewing the comic, and so far we have covered Spanish actress Analia Ivars, softcore queen Monique Parent as well as even a comic I would like to see made based on the ’56 film The Werewolf, so I think I have done well for this quick update! Before we join the hunt, I should tell you rule # 1, 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 thank Ebay for having this in stock and thank Amber Newman for at least giving me something pretty to look at. So to let you readers also know what Sleazy Queen plays what character I will give you a rundown: Newman plays Paula, Romay plays Gorgona, Parent plays Irina and Ivars plays Furia. So get your hunting knife ready and make sure to wear your camos, cause we are on the hunt for some Tender Flesh!

Tender Flesh 1Tender Flesh # 1  * 1/2
Released in 1997     Cover Price $4.95     Draculina     # 1 of 4

Paula is a young American girl who is trying to get a job at a top Spanish strip club and is hired by Mrs. Gorgona Radeck for the job. That night while dancing Paula catches the eye of rich woman Baroness Irina and her husband Kallman who want to pay for a private show that is set up between Radeck and Paul’s boyfriend Carlos that will take place on a paradise island. You see they want Paula to be a sex slave for a weekend and to help on a hunt. Once there they meet a mute woman named Furia who is Gorgona’s servent and does all types of “favors” for the guests, and after a short time the rich folk send Carlos packing and drug Paula and whip her with riding sticks.  The next morning she awakens to find a video message from Gorgona telling her that she has two hours to get to the other side of the island to a speedboat filled with $50,000 dollars! Furia attacks Paula and puts her in a plastic bag and drives her to the middle of the woods and drops her off as Gorgona, Irina and Kallman armed with bows & arrows, knives and a pistol gear up for a human hunt! Paula escapes the plastic bag but is shot with an arrow leaving her wounded.  As Irina comes in for the kill Paula sets her up and slits her throat. Meanwhile Carlos is on his way back to the island after he regrets leaving Paula there knowing that she was to be killed for a game, but he’s too late as Kallman shoots Paula dead with his pistol. Carlos tries to make his way to the money but he himself is killed by Furia! In the end Gorgona, her husband who’s a cook, and Kallman are upset that Paula was shot because the meat is wasted but instead they eat Irina.  You see, they hunt young beautiful woman to eat their tender flesh.

I would have to say that this is one of the better Draculina Photo Comics, but that still doesn’t make it good. The plot is all about hunting a human down like they are a deer so that the hunters can eat what they kill, and it’s also the rich vs. the poor as the villains of this comic clearly think they are above the law. Our hero is Paula a brain dead stripper who takes an offer to be a sex slave for money, but when push comes to shove she tries her best to survive attacks that sadly do leave her dead. Carlos is Paula’s boyfriend and “pimp” and is a total scumbag and I for one was glad when he died.  He was a greedy tool who seemed not to mind seeing his girlfriend dead when he remembered that there was money on a boat. Gorgona, Irina and Kallman are all rich cannibals who are also perverts and weirdly enough only one of them dies, showing that if you’re a millionaire cannibal nothing bad will happen to you. I do love the fact that when Irina dies, she is cooked like a roaste pig and eaten by her husband and friends. The downside of this comic is the fact none of the characters are 100% likable because we get no backstory to any of them to make us care. The photos picked are well selected, and the cover is at least eye catching, but there’s nothing too special here and over all it holds very close to the film by being very forgettable.

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One thing I can say for sure is that I only have one adaptation photo comic left of a Franco cheesy erotic film, and this fact makes me very happy! But our next update comic might be worse then this one because I am digging deep into my past and showcasing one of my early creative works as we take a look at Robo-Raccoon, a comic book series I made when I was a very young lad…so if you can withstand a space adventure with a Raccoon hybrid filled with aliens, monsters, misspelled words and bounty hunters, then you make sure to come back next update! So until then watch a horror film or two, read a comic and support your local Horror Host.

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Chuck Norris as Chuck Norris in Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos!

In the late 70’s and throughout the 80’s, larger than life action stars were box office hits.  Names like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Charles Bronson, Jean Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren and many more were flooding the market and being idolized by young males across the world. I was a huge Stallone fan and loved his films like Rocky, First Blood and Cobra, but there was always one action star long before it became “cool” and a “fad” to like that always captured my dad, brother’s and my attention – Chuck Norris! Way before hipsters thought Walker Texas Ranger was funny and before his facts were an internet sensation, Norris was kicking ass in films like Missing in Action, Breaker Breaker, Hero and the Terror, Silent Rage and Lone Wolf McQuade proving that he was one of the best B-movie action stars of the time. I remember as a kid watching Missing in Action 1 & 2 and wanting toys of lead character Colonel James Braddock, and while I understood that being a P.O.W. was a bad thing, years later when I was a teenager I understood the real message in the film. Another funny story about Chuck Norris is when my brother was younger he loved the movie Meatballs and one day my dad was watching Silent Rage on HBO and told him that it was Meatballs II.  My brother sat with wonder and watched waiting for the Alien to appear, instead he got a film where Norris was going up against an un-killable killer! This freaked my brother out and added for chuckles many years about Meatballs II. If you want to check out any of Norris’s films you can find them on Beta, VHS, Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray!

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In 1986, Chuck Norris also was involved in a cartoon called “Chuck Norris and the Karate Kommandos” in which Chuck Norris plays a government operative in charge of a team of martial arts commandos that battles a organization called VULTURE lead by The Claw and his right hand man Super Ninja. It lasted one season for only 5 episodes and was made by the great Hanna-Barbera company. The cartoon also from time to time airs on Adult Swim on the Cartoon Network. Growing up I never watched the show that much, and while I remember it airing, I never found myself wanting to view the animated adventures when I could just watch the live action films. The Karate Kommandos has been released on VHS and DVD-R and has become a cult classic.

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In 1986 Kenner also made action figures to go along with the animated series and much like the toon it was based on, the toy line was also very short lived. Multiple figures based on Chuck Norris were made as well as all the Kommando’s and Super Ninja. Also vehicles were made as well as plastic weapons rounding out the merchandise that was made around the short lasting series. I did however own some of the figures, and all the ones I owned were Chuck Norris.  The figures themselves were well made and well sculpted toys for the time. In school I knew a few kids that had some of these figures, and the most popular one I saw the most kids have was the purple Super-Ninja. In fact, I still have my Norris figures, and Game Swap in Kettering, a place I get some of these comics has one in store!

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Chuck Norris fever has died down a little and seems to have passed as one of those annoying hip references that made you want to punch the hipster spewing it who clearly never seen a Norris film in their self absorbed life. But this did not stop the wave of Norris-inspired merchandise that included books, t-shirts, mugs, folders, posters, notebooks, key chains, stuff dolls, bobble-heads and so many other products! So if you are a true Norris fan, there is some great stuff out there for you!

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Chuck Norris, who as of early 2012 is 71 years old, was in the Air Force as an Air Policeman, and while stationed in South Korea, he decided to learn the art of self-defense in the forum of Tang Soo Do.  This started the path of an action superstar, but not before Norris became a karate champion and a teacher of the art of self defense teaching such stars as Steve McQueen, Bob Barker and Donny and Marie Osmond in schools he opened. In 1969 Norris began his acting career in the Dean Martin film The Wrecking Crew and has been making movies since! Some of his best known film work includes Missing in Action, Delta Force, Way of the Dragon, The Expendables 2 and Lone Wolf McQuade. Norris also made it into the TV world, not only known for the 1986 short lived cartoon “Chuck Norris and the Karate Kommandos” but more so for his 1993 series “Walker Texas Ranger,” which ran on CBS for over eight years.  Norris also became a spokesman for products like The Total Gym Work Out Machine and the computer game World of Warcraft. Noris is also known for being a diehard Christian and Republican has also written several books on his beliefs. In 2005, Norris also became a internet hit when “Chuck Norris Facts” started to infect everyone’s Myspace page who thought of a funny way to show just how kick ass Norris is in a tongue in cheek kind of way. Norris continues to be an icon in the world of action stars and will always be known as one bad ass dude!

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Before I get into my look at the 4 issue run of The Karate Kommandos from Star Comics I would like to share some memories I have of Chuck Norris. I always remember watching Chuck Norris on the then Ted Turner owed station TBS, that seemed to always be showing a Missing in Action film or Breaker, Breaker, and I can’t count how many times I would sit and watch these films over and over.  I always remember wanting an action figure of Norris’s character Colonel James Braddock of Missing in Action because of watching those movies on TBS. That’s one thing I miss about TV, now that Turner is no longer in control of TBS and TNT, all the amazing programs those stations delivered to me in my youth. I mean I grew up watching many of the programs they would air from all the old reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan’s Island and Little House on the Prairie to hosted programs like Joe Bob Briggs on TNT’s Monstervison, Grandpa Munster hosting Super Scary Saturday and even Dinner and a Movie with hosts Paul Gilmartin, Annabelle Gurwitch and chef Claud Mann. One of the things on TBS in the 80’s my brother and I would look forward to was watching NWA and then later WCW wrestling, and nothing was more epic then the PPV type event that was free to watch called Clash of the Champions where you would be able to watch wrestling legends like Ric Flair, Lex Luger, Sting, The Rock n Roll Express and many more battle in matches that had so much build up.  Those truly were the days. I have great memories of watching old NWA shows on winter Saturday evenings at my grandparents’ house as the fire place was warming the room, and my grandpa, dad and brother all sat around and watched the likes of the Four Horsemen and Dusty Rhodes. Also I love how back in the day all shows on TBS started five minutes later like 6:05.  Odd, I know but a great gimick. I wish Turner would come back to bring a new station to airwaves and give us back some of this classic shows he once aired.  Say what you will about the man, but he knew what he was doing when it came to cable TV.  I mean his stations gave you a little of every thing if you wanted to see sports, news, classic shows, movies, horror hosts, wrestling, original programs and much more then look no further then a Turner owned station. So here is to Chuck Norris, Ted Turner, TBS and TNT for some great memories growing up, and here is to hoping Turner will return to doing what he does best, making one hell of a great TV station.

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I want to remind everyone that I grade these comics on a standard 1-4 star scale and look for entertainment value, art, story and how true the comic is to its source material.  So with that, let’s kick some butt with Chuck Norris and his Karate Komman

Chuck Norris 1Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos # 1  **
Released in 1987     Cover Price .75    Star Comics    1 of 4 

Too Much is the youngest member of the Karate Kommandos, and while at school he and his classmates are held hostage by evil ninjas led by Super Ninja, who works for Claw. They are there in order to exchange the kids for a government anti-terrorist vehicle that is packed with state of the art weapons. But things don’t go as the ninjas wanted as Chuck Norris along with his Karate Kommandos that include Kimo a sword expert, Reed a young man Norris has taken under his wing as well as his sister Pepper who is a master of repairing and driving cars, wolf the team pet and Tabe a sumo wrestler who loves to eat, all come to the rescue and clean house of the evil doers and saving Too Much and all his classmates.

This issue was pretty weak to start a series off by and focuses way too much on Too Much who for all accounts is a brat who blows off school work and uses his friendship with Chuck Norris to act popular with his peers. Chuck Norris walks around like a silent badass who only gives one liners when needed and then turns into a walking PSA about working hard in school.  The rest of the team for some reason kept reminding me of the gymnastic teens from the Mr. T cartoon mixed with the A-Team but not as nearly bad ass. I think the biggest problem with this issue is the lack of character development, like who are these Karate Kommandos and why is a movie actor like Chuck Norris the head of the team?  Who is Super Ninja and why didn’t he come to the school himself if this was such a huge operation? And why is The Claw never shown? Given the fact that the cartoon was bombing on TV and kids weren’t flocking to Children’s Palace or Toys R Us for the figures, you would think that Star would have put a little more background into this issue to help push this comic series to do better then everything else attached to it. Not to mention the storyline in this issue is weak and seems like a back up story for an issue that ran short. The artwork is your typical Star Comic look so I kind of like that, and the cover is pure cheese so it does have that going for it. Over all this issue is not impressive and a very bad way to start off Chuck Norris’ first comic book run.

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Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos # 2  **1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   2 of 4 

Chuck Norris and his Karate Kommandos are hired to protect a new super computer that has been targeted by VULTURE, but when it’s Reed and Pepper’s turn to watch the super machine, sibling fighting happens and Reed storms out and meets Margie, a young woman who’s mom is sick and has been hired by The Claw to steal it for cash to help her mom who needs an operation. Meanwhile Ninjas break in and steal the computer and kidnap Pepper.  Reed returns at the same time as his team and all get a shock to find they have failed to keep it safe. Meanwhile the ninjas as along with Margie have Pepper and are trying to force her to show them how the computer works, only for Margie to take a stand and help Pepper escape just as Chuck and the Kommandos come in for the save. In the end Chuck gives the reward money to Margie for her mom’s aid.

This is more like it; a comic filled with action, drama and takes the focus away from the youngest member of the Kommandos, Too Much, and showcases the brother and sister team of Reed and Pepper and has them showing real sibling rivalry. The messages are clear in this one: always be there for family and you should never abandon your responsibility. Chuck takes more of a back seat in this one and is only used when needed. As for action, while it’s not every page, the times it’s used it really works! The bad guys in this issue are all the generic ninjas of VULTURE and Super Ninja nor Claw make an appearance.  This doesn’t make much sense and adds no major threat to Chuck and his crew. I will say that I also feel that this issue captures more of the cheesy charm of the cartoon. Over all this is a step in the right direction for this series. The art work is same as last issue, and the cover is in your face with Chuck Norris landing a flying kick. Let’s see how issue three goes in this “action” series.

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Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos  # 3  *1/2
Released in 1987   Cover Price .75   Star Comics   3 of 4 

Chuck and Kimo are practicing with swords to see who’s the best in a friendly way as Tabe is in the kitchen making himself a feast. During a break in the spar Kimo hears Tabe giving advice and life lessons to fellow Karate Kommandos.  First up is Too Much, who is having an issue that involves his friend and him being forced to have spelling bee against each other in school.  So Tabe tells him about the first time he met Chuck that had them sparing with sticks on a log to impress friends. Reed is next and talks about how some friends are going to cheat at a sporting event, and this time Tabe tells a different story about how he met Chuck that pertains to the situation.  This continues with Pepper, who is having guy issues. In the end Kimo asks Chuck who has returned to spar how he met Tabe, and none of the stories he told was correct!

Issue three is all about Tabe, the lovable slob sumo wrestler who loves to eat and as this issue exposes, tell lies! This is not a very good message to teach young readers as Tabe lies several times to trusted friends in order to give them guidance that will help them with an issue that is bothering them, but even a white lie is still a lie.  The worse thing about this issue is the fact Tabe makes himself out to be this amazing hero in every one of his BS stories. Tabe is my second least favorite character from this comic/toon series, and this issue is all about him, making this one a so-so read. VULTURE and all its members take a backseat in this issue, and at no time during Tabe’s stories do you feel that he or Chuck are in any real danger, making this pretty lackluster in the action department. Issue three is clearly the weakest so far, and while some parts are fun, like the silliness of all the different ways he says he and Norris meet, its all the other fluff that makes it bland. The artwork is as it was in the past two issues, and this kind of holds the charm of the cartoon. The cover makes this issue look way more action packed then it is, and with this let’s move on to the final issue in the series.

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Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos # 4  ***
Released in 1987   Cover Price $1.00   Star Comics   4 of 4 

Chuck Norris has a visitor at the secret headquarters of the Karate Kommandos, and Its Jack Fredericks, who is taking over the West Coast Office that runs secrets teams like them.  While there he is witness to Chuck and gang getting a mission that has them saving the daughter of a snotty Doctor named Johan Belson who has had troubles with Norris in the past. The daughter has been kidnapped by a gang of goons who are working for Claw and want secrets that Belson knows.  With a distrust for the man they are helping, Norris and the Kommandos save the daughter and teach Belson what it is to be a man.

This is the final issue in the series, and they seemed to finally get that what they had was Chuck Norris action superstar along with a team of rough and tough Kommandos who were about fighting for freedom much like G.I. Joe.  In fact this adventure reminds me of a Marvel Joe comic. Chuck Norris takes control in this issue and uses not only his kicks and punches but his brains and out smarts the baddies and uses his leadership over his crew to get the job 100% done. Normally annoying characters like Too Much and Tabe are far less unlikeable, as members Kimo, Reed and Pepper take a back seat to showcase Norris. Again the Super Ninja and Claw don’t make an appearance, and this time they use not even the ninjas but lame normal guys who try to put up a fight just can’t.  This issue should have been the first in the series and all issues after this should have followed this style and formula to have made a good run of comics. The art work is the best it’s been in the series and seems as if someone who worked on Marvels G.I. Joe or Transformers comic lent their talents to this final issue. The cover’s pretty weak but can be compared to other late 80’s action covers from Marvel. All in all I can at least say that Chuck Norris Karate Kommando’s ended on a higher note then it started. I would like to thank Bell Book and Comic & Lone Star Comics for stocking these issues to make this review possible.

Thinking about the comic and cartoon series made me realize that the toon only lasted one more episode then the comic run making one see why this STAR comic run was doomed to being canceled from the start. And this series also got me thinking about pop group the Spice Girls because of the character Too Much having the same name as their 1997 hit song from album Spice World. Then I remember being a teen and thinking how hot those british girls in short skirts and tight cloths were and how damn catchy their songs were. My two favorites to look at were Posh Spice and Baby Spice, and I will not lie, I did have their CDs and also watched Spice World on VHS when it hit video stores. And did anyone else notice Baby Spices love for suckers, and how so wrong yet so right it was? Just take a look at the center picture, and Spice Up Your Life indeed!

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Well in this update we looked at the movie and cartoon career of Chuck Norris, took a look back at Ted Turner owned TBS & TNT and even talked a little about the Spice Girls, but in the next update the gloves are off as we look at shock rocker Rob Zombie’s take on a legend we all know…..no, not his remakes of the Halloween series but his take on the crypto creature Bigfoot! So be here for the next shocking update.

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