From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Back in 1978, there was no more room in Hell so the dead walked the earth and attacked a group of survivors who were living in a shopping mall…in 2004, it happened again! You see, Hollywood loves to remake classic horror films, and besides Dawn Of The Dead, many other classic series have gotten this treatment like Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Amityville Horror, Prom Night, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Night Of The Living Dead, The Hills Have Eyes, The Fly, Carrie, Black Christmas, Psycho, Friday The 13th, Evil Dead, The Wolf Man and my god, so many more showing that instead of making sequels or original horror films they would rather just modernize the classics. But that’s not to say that all remakes are bad.  While many are pure garbage like Psycho and A Nightmare On Elm Street, many are good like The Hills Have Eyes and Dawn of the Dead, which is the topic of todays update, another in our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic series. So let’s get ready to shop till we drop and spend our time dodging the undead as we once more hit the mall of the living dead! Are you ready for Dawn Of The Dead 2004 Remake…The Comic!!

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In order to move on, we must first come to understand what this film is bringing to the table in the killer/monster department so let’s take a moment to break it down. The film’s main villains are zombies, and in this remake, there is thousands of them in the parking lot of the mall, all who want to eat our heroes and are growing in numbers as the living keep dying. Why the dead are back and eating the living is a hot topic during this outbreak, and many have theories that range from God being upset to a new virus, man made or even nature made. The zombies are fast moving and can run as fast as a normal human with their undead advantage being that they do not get tired and can give chase long after a living person tires out. Besides being fast, they also have in their arsenal of killing the fact they are in large packs and can overwhelm their targets.  They will use their teeth and hands to shred and rip flesh, and they can infect living humans and cause them to die painfully and later turn into a undead being for their ever growing army. Also their rotting appearance is something that scares the living and causes them to panic as well as leave themselves open for an attack. The zombies do have weaknesses as they are not very bright and are consumed with the need to feed, making it easy for humans to outsmart them. They can be “killed” again with fire and gunshots to the head.  They can also be slowed down when cut in half. But even with their weaknesses, The Zombies are a force to be reckoned with as they will not stop until the world belongs to them and the living are no more.

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So as you can see, The Zombies made the lives of the Mall survivors very miserable.  Now that you know how they kill, I think we should take a look at the film that spawned this promo comic. Once more the write up will be taken from our pals at IMDB, plus we will look at the stars and makers of the film, and afterward I will share some of my thoughts on this remake film as well as the first time I watched it. So let’s aim for the head and take a moment to break down this 2004 film.

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Dawn Of The Dead (2004)

Ana goes home to her peaceful suburban residence, but she is unpleasantly surprised the morning that follows when her husband is brutally attacked by her zombified neighbor. In the chaos of her once picturesque neighborhood, Ana flees and stumbles upon a police officer named Kenneth, along with more survivors who decide that their best chances of survival would be found in the deserted Crossroads Shopping Mall. When supplies begin running low and other trapped survivors need help, the group comes to the realization that they cannot stay put forever at the Shopping Mall, and devise a plan to escape.”

When I first heard that a remake of Dawn Of The Dead was coming to theaters in 2004, I was in doubt that they could make a modern version of this classic zombie film work and with a then-unknown director named Zack Snyder heading it, I decided not to watch it in the theater as I felt this was just a bad idea and told all my friends that I was not going to be seeing this one and would just wait for DVD. But when I found out the screenplay writer was James Gunn, who was responsible for writing the film “Tromeo And Juliet” for Troma, along with lots of solid actors like Ving Rhames who plays police cop Kenneth Hall, Sarah Polley as Nurse Ana Clark, Mekhi Phifer as soon to be dad Andre, Ty Burrell as Stephen, Jake Weber as good guy Michael, Kim Poirier as the sexy blonde Monica and Lindy Booth as sweet young teenager Nicole, it made me break my grand stand of horror movie remake hate and head to the theaters with friends to watch this film on the silver screen.  All of us loved it as did the rest of the movie goers as the theater was somewhat packed! The film had a nice mix of horror, action, drama and comedy, and all the actors nailed their parts.  The score by Tyler Bates was moody and fitting. The best part was that this film didn’t try to be the original and added its own touch to the survivors in a mall during a zombie outbreak.  This is what made this movie shine as each character was their own person and had their own personalities with none borrowing from the 1978’s base characters. The zombies were treated as being scary, and they even have a baby zombie showing that this film was sticking to twisted and scary, meaning no pie fights between bikers and the undead. When the film was released on DVD, I ended up buying it and still to this day alongside a small amount of other remakes will praise it and say this is how a remake is done right. The film when released was # 51 at the US box office brining in a total of $59,020,957.00 on a $26 million dollar budget. In 2004, Dawn of The Dead was joined by other horror films like “Saw”, “Seed of Chucky”, “Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed”, “Secret Window”, “Shaun of The Dead”, “Tremors 4: The Legend Begins” and “The Card Player” to name a few showing that fans had lots of great stuff to chill their bones that year. While not as good as the original, this remake packs a bite and helped spark the rebirth of the zombie doom that is still going strong till this day.

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Along with the film’ release, in 2004 the Atari 2600 Homebrew game makers decided that the world needed a game based on this remake film, a game that has you driving a vehicle and fighting off zombies and collecting gas to keep your escape dream alive. The game is just a hack of “Worm War I” and can be found as a rom on the net as well as put on a Atari cart, which is how I own the game! While fun for a short while, it does get repetitive and like all Atari 2600 games it has simple game play and cheesy graphics. So if you like old school video games, this is one you might want to check out if you enjoy your games based on Horror Films.

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The 2004 version of Dawn Of The Dead was a perfect film to make into a comic book, and around the time of this film’s release IDW put out a comic adaptation mini series based on the original 1978 film.  So I am sure you’re wondering why the newer movie only got a promo comic given away free in the DVD release, right? Well around this time MiG.Biz was working on a magazine size adaptation of this film and this promo comic was just a small part of the over all bigger release that sadly never saw the light of day as it appears they went out of business before it could make it to comic shop shelves. It’s a shame as I would have loved to cover the whole comic for this update and not just the promo, but it was just not meant to be. I want to thank Game Swap Kettering for not only having this comic in stock but also for alerting me to the fact this comic was even made. So let’s enter the mall and see how this batch of survivors deals with the zombie apocalypse, but before I do I can hear this on the overhead speakers: “I grade this issue 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.”  Now they are playing Richard Cheese covering Disturbed so I think it’s time to enter the mall!

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Dawn Of The Dead **
Released in 2004    Cover Price $0.00    Mig Biz    # 1 of 1

At St. George Hospital things are getting odd as a man with a bite on his arm from a bar fight is now at death’s door, and poor nurse Ana is already an hour late leaving work before she can go home to her husband Luis. Once home and spending date night together, Vivian, the young girl from the neighborhood shows up in their house dead, and as a zombie she bites and infects Luis who is now hungry for flesh.  Ana knowing something is wrong tries to call 911 only to find the line down and decides to jump in her car to get her man help.  But while driving she crashes and wakes up to find a police man holding a shotgun to her face.  Once he figures out she is alive, the pair run into three more survivors who warn them that the road up ahead is littered with zombies and a decision is made to make it to the nearby mall, and so ends this promo comic adventure.

This promo comic is just the adaptation of the film’s opening and is done with black and white art that cuts out much of the openings gore and blood. Yes you heard me right the comic is very light on the red stuff as the whole scene of the zombies attacking the neighborhood is gone as is the scene of zombie Luis attacking Ana who has to hide in the bathroom to escape his chopping teeth! Those two scenes are very iconic for the movie and for some reason MiG.Biz decided that they didn’t need to be added to this promo comic. The comics story is this Ana is a nurse who after a long shift at work goes home for date night with her husband who in the morning is bitten by a little zombie girl and is turned into a flesh eater himself! While getting away she has a car wreck that leads her to joining a small group of survivors that have a plan to hide out in a near by mall. They throw in some news broadcast pages and you have this very basic and not scary promo comic. Ana is a character who clearly is a hard worker as she stays after work to be helpful as well as a loving wife as she clearly loves her man. Luis seems like a man who is in love with his wife and just enjoys being who he is, but as a zombie he is filled with rage and hunger and clearly wants to eat his wife alive! Vivian is a young girl who likes to roller skate around the block and clearly is liked by the Clarks, but once turned into a zombie she don’t care about friendship as she wants bloody flesh! The Police Cop and the other survivors we don’t get to know much about but we do know they want to live and have seen some terrible stuff while trying to do so. The downside to this comic is the fact we only see two zombies, one bite attack, the characters don’t get to flushed out and we really don’t get to the meat of the story as this seems just like we get a nibble on the free bread at the table. I have a feeling or at least I would hope that the full comic would have had some amazing zombie attacks complete with blood and guts, as this teaser was pretty tame and was very weak on the red stuff. But while this comic does have flaws I would say it was enjoyable and the art done by Miguel A. Insignares is pretty great stuff and holds a 2000’s zombie comic appeal. The cover for this issue is a little lame and has a zombie in shadow on a white background, pretty bland and for some reason reminds me of Image Comics from the 90’s. Over all this review was longer than the comic and it’s a shame that the full comic was never released as I would have loved to seen the comic version of actress Kim Poirier and seen how they would have handled the rest of the movies gore moments and key scenes. Check out the artwork below to see the style of Miguel’s.

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So once again we have made it out of the mall and are safe from the dead.  While this promo comic might not have been amazing and a must read for horror comic fans, I will say I am glad I found out about it cause it made for a great From Horror Movie To Horror Comic update. For our next update, we are walking away from the world of horror and into the world of Archie Comics, and we will be taking a look at a NES Game turned comic with “The Adventures Of Bayou Billy”! So until we meet again, avoid being eaten by a zombie, watch a horror movie or two, read a horror comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host! See you in the bayou readers and friends!

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Dawn Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2016)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monster Bash 2016 Haul Day 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dawn Of The Dead VHS 1Dawn Of The Dead VHS 2Dawn Of The Dead VHS 3

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

Dawn Of The Dead Soundtrack 1Dawn Of The Dead Soundtrack 2Dawn Of The Dead Soundtrack 3

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

Dawn Of The Dead Board Game 1Dawn Of The Dead Board GameDawn Of The Dead Board Game 2

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

Dawn Of The Dead Toys 1Dawn Of The Dead Toys 2Dawn Of The Dead Toys 3

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

Plaid Shirt Zombie 2Plaid Shirt Zombie 3

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

Monroeville Mall

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

Monroeville Mall hallwayMonroeville Mall DoorsMonroeville Mall Zombie painting

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

Dawn Of The Dead 1

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

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

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

Dawn Of The Dead 2

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

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

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

Dawn Of The Dead 3

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

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

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

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

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

Batman vs Snowman Logo

The Undead Files: The Dead

What is it about zombies that strike not only fear but also entertainment value with people? TV is filled with shows like The Walking Dead, Z-Nation and iZombie. Video games like Left 4 Dead, Dead Rising and Resident Evil are strong sellers. Not to mention comic book shelves are filled with many undead titles like ‘68, Walking Dead, Marvel Zombies and many Night Of The Living Dead titles. But what is it that draws us to the notion of the dead coming back to life to eat our brains or flesh? Why are we so obsessed with zombies, and why are they so ingrained into our culture now? In this Undead File Update, we will be taking a look at a comic book series made by Arrow Comics that pushed the envelope of gore and started many comic readers’ love for the underground gore comics and a series that inspired many artists and writers to make zombie comics of their own, The Dead. So be prepared to walk among the dead as we talk about this cult comic series among other things of the living dead nature.

Zombie Hand Coming From The Grave

The Lane To The Dead is an urban legend around these parts that was brought to the light of day thanks to the book series “Haunted Ohio” written by Chris Woodyard, who did a small write up about it.  I also heard other stories from people who claimed they knew about it as well. The story goes that there is abandon graveyard that sits deep in the woods that is walled off with not only brinks but also barbwire and razor wire to keep people out and something in! You see the graveyard in this undisclosed location is said to house zombies that were created by the government during experiments and when they found that they could not kill them…again they trapped them all in this cemetery that acts as a dumping ground for them. It’s said that you must walk a long dirt lane that leads to woods and when entering them you must walk miles deep to get to the cemetery, and you know when your close as the moans and noises of the zombies can be heard. When living in Waynesville when I was like in 4th or 5th grade a classmate who’s dad worked for the government told him that they have reanimated bodies but that they can only keep it “reanimated” for seconds before they pass again, does this story fit in with The Lane Of The Dead…I doubt it as I don’t believe what my classmate told me as almost the whole school watched Night of the Living Dead on TV the weekend before. When I was in my late teens Josh Weinberg and I tired all we could to find the Lane To The Dead and failed, as it’s doubtful it’s real…but if it is the undead walk among us here in Ohio!!

What I Think Lane Of The Dead Looks Like

The Toraja people of Indonesia have a ritual for burial and death, their culture has a fascination with it and can be seen all over their villages. You see they believe in the afterlife and this leads to them the funeral that can some times take place weeks or months after death as all family members must be present. The bodies are stored in the church in limestone caves or even in the house of a loved one, during the wait the corpse is cared for as if it’s still alive given baths, groomed, dressed regularly and even offered meals! Once the family is all present and the money raised for burial the funeral starts that can as well last for days as depending on the wealth of the family consists of feasts, mourning the dead and animal sacrifices that they believe the dead animals will help the soul of their loved one cross over to the other side faster. The bodies are placed in a wooden coffin and then placed in a burial chamber carved into the side of a large rock as they think this is the between Heaven and Earth and will help the spirit find its way…but wait this is not the last you will see of your loved one! Once a year in August loved ones will pull out their dead loved ones and wash, groom and dress them, then make repairs to the coffin and then “walk” them to their place of death and than back to their coffin. And this repeats forever no matter how long your loved one died you show them this respect. And some smaller tribes of people claim that the dead are walking themselves, while others claim its all a trick done by the funeral people. Does the dead truly walk or is this all some sort of tradition that we all just don’t understand, one things for sure and that these peoples loved ones are never forgotten. Below is some photos of the “walk” of the dead.

Toraja Dead 1Toraja Dead 2Toraja Dead 3

I love independent horror films and that’s why I have made my own No Budget Epics and have produced Horror Films for such directors as Andy Copp, Henrique Couto and Chris Seaver over the years and that’s why I have chosen this zombie film that should and could be made into a comic series called Zombie Chronicles that was released in 2001 and put out by Sterling Films and Brain Damage Films on VHS and DVD. The film is about a reporter who picks up an old man named Ebenezer Jackson who is heading to the same small town as her, along the way they make a stop and he shares some real life zombie stories with her! In the end she finds out he himself is a ghost and she might be the real target of the living dead. The film is as backyard as they come and looks as if it was shot on Super VHS or something along those lines and the effects are pure backyard stuff with some being really good including one woman who’s face has been ripped off and she gives her last dying breath. Most of the zombies are in cheap looking masks or terrible Halloween makeup bought on discount from K-Mart. But this could be a great series of comics and follow Ebenezer as he wonders around America finding people on lonely stretches of Highway and tell them chilling stories of the undead, with no budgets holding it back this could be as brutal as any zombie comic in history. Each issue would have a motorist, traveler or drifter coming in contact with Ebenezer who would tell them two to three zombie stories while they traveled the road or even stopped for the night at a rundown motel or camp site aside the road. After each issue the person hearing the stories would be marked in some way from not just physical but mentally as well. This would have to be done as a independent comic in order to truly up the gore and pack in some nudity as well, I would say a company like Rough House Publishing or even Studio Akumakaze would be great companies to make this comic come to bloody life and out of my artist friends that would make this amazing would be Rachael Lare, Damien Brunk or Jeff Potter all who would capture the horror nature of the series. This comic series would never happen sadly as no one remembers it nor when it was released did it come out to major fan fare as it went direct to video and faded away into horror film obscurity. Oh yeah the film was directed by Brad Sykes who made such other low budget films like Camp Blood 1 & 2, Demon’s Kiss, Death Factory and Mad Jack to name a few, the film also stars Janet Tracy Keijser who is easy on the eyes even if she is a little off acting in this film. Z-Grade flick check it out of you like your horror with a little cheese.

The Zombie Chronicles 1The Zombie Chronicles VHSThe Zombie Chronicles 2

When WWE bought out ECW and tried to re-launch the brand on the Sci-Fi network in 2006, it was a shell of what it was.  Gone were the days of New Jack using a cheese grader on Hack Meyers as blood poured out.  Gone were the days of Raven fighting Tommy Dreamer in a barbwire match all for the attention of Beulah, and what we got instead was a watered down version with Big Show being a top star as well as supernatural wrestlers like The Boogeyman, vampire Kevin Thorn and yep, The Zombie! Tim Roberts was the man with the cheesy gimmick who made his debut on the first episode of ECW on the SCI-FI Channel and was quickly beat down by The Sandman and his Singapore cane, you see the network wanted “monsters” added to the roster and this was the WWE’s way of saying we will add them and they will be used as jokes and get beat down fast and easy. The Zombie would float around for a short time loosing matches until he quietly disappeared from the company. Roberts was better known under the ring name Tim Arson and was a pretty big attraction in multiple Puerto Rico wrestling federations and won many belts over his career there, he also toured independent federations and even took on Matt Striker under the Arson gimmick that aired on WWE Heat. After becoming The Zombie for ECW he would also take bookings under that gimmick for small wrestling promotions. Sadly on January 7 2015 Roberts died of unknown causes at the age of 38. While he might not have been a household name here in America his fourteen year long wrestling career sported him fans all over the world.

ECW Zombie 1ECW Zombie 2ECW Zombie 3

People love zombies so much that Adult XXX films have been made about them! Yeah films that have male and female zombies getting busy with humans and each other have seen the light of day. These kind of Adult Films just shows you how much the American Culture loves Zombies that they want to see them not only eat humans but also do it with them! Many of these films also have a Horror Film nature to them and add gore and twisted storylines to these films, while others have no plots and are just scenes of goofball actors in masks and cheap Halloween makeup doing the deed with females who are there to collect a paycheck. There are parodies of George Romero dead films as well as The Walking Dead and everything in between, so if this is your thing and you find Zombies sexy I am sure one of these odd adult films will be sure to please.

Dawna Of The Dead PosterWalking Dead XXX Female ZombiePorn Of The Dead Poster

Here in Dayton, Ohio we have lots of Food Trucks and one of the most popular is a gourmet hotdog truck called Zombie Dogz that people line up for rain or shine to get a tasty large sized hotdog! Each hotdog has a horror themed name like “Hunk A Hunk A Rotting Flesh,” a tribute to Elvis Presley that is a hotdog with bacon, pan seared bananas flambéed in banana liquor topped with homemade cashew butter.  Or you could try “Gem City Slasher” that has the hotdog with avocado salsa, white truffle oil, red onions, bacon bits and cilantro sour cream! My favorite one is called “Calling In Dead” that has truffle oil mac n’ cheese and cracker crumbles all placed on top of the hotdog! Besides the Dayton area, you can also find Zombie Dogz as a food vendor at Horror Hound Weekend Convention in Cincinnati, and for comic book readers they are also spotted many Fridays at Bell, Book and Comic. If you’re ever in the area and enjoy a good specialty hotdog, check them out as I am sure you will not be disappointed.

Zombie Dogz logo

Arrow Comics was created by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr in 1985 and was a black and white independent comic company that the pair started by publishing a magazine called “Fantastic Fanzine.”  After seeing how much of a hit the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was, they decided to open a comic book branch and gathered local talent like Guy Davis, Susan Van Camp, Randy Zimmerman and Vincent Locke to name a few and Arrow Comics was born! Issues of titles like Deadworld, The Realm, Tales From the Aniverse, System 7, Oz and Nightstreets hit comic shops, but by 1989, they were in trouble due to revenues for some of their top selling titles being tied up, causing them to have to move some of their titles to Caliber Comics. After a few years of silence, they tried to make a comeback in 1993 and released a savage zombie comic called The Dead, but sadly the re-launch was very short lived. In 2008 they made another comeback and started to make webcomics called Spank The Monkey and Rebel Nun and plan on giving many of their titles comebacks in this modern world of comic books. Being a long time comic reader as well as a Monster Kid, I can remember seeing these issues at local comic shops and even had a few of their OZ titles, but never did have any of the zombie ones as I think most of those were behind the counter kind of titles and I was too young to buy them. But while Arrow Comics was never as impactful as many of the other small companies of the time like Malibu, Now or Innovation, they still made huge impacts on their readers who enjoyed something different than Superman or Captain America. I must also state, I love their motto “Our Target Is Entertainment; Our Aim Is Quality”.

Arrow Comics logo

In 2015 Rough House Publishing, a comic company run by Derek Rook, who was the man behind Xmachina Comics, the company who brought you the “Gates Of Hell”, “Halloween: The Return To Haddonfield” and “Phantasm” comics as well as worked on the adaptation of Fulci’s “Zombie” graphic novel, released an amazing graphic novel called “The Dead: Omnibus” that collected all issues of the Arrow Comic series and more! It’s a must-have comic for fans of horror comics and for those looking for something more brutal than Walking Dead.  It’s my honor to present to you this 5 Questions with Derek Rook, the man behind Rough House Publishing and the rebirth of The Dead.

rough house publishing logoDerek RookThe Dead Omnibus

Matt: Welcome to Rotten Ink, Derek, and thanks for taking time away from your busy schedule to chat with me. Growing up were you a comic reader, and if so, what comic characters did you like?

Derek: Thank YOU, Matt! I appreciate the opportunity to hang with you. I WAS a giant comic book reader as a child. When I was young, I’d go grocery shopping with my mother and I would always hope that she had a couple bucks to spare so I could grab some comics off the news stand. I wasn’t aware of comic book shops at that time, so I’d get mine at grocery and convenience stores and sometimes at a Mom & Pop book corner store. I always loved The Incredible Hulk (especially the adult-oriented Marvel Magazine The Hulk), Rom – The Space Knight, Moon Knight, Conan, Godzilla…I always enjoyed characters that were misunderstood loners as I too was one of those as a child.

Matt: What was the first comic book you ever made of your own, and what was it about?

Derek: The first comic book I ever formally published was called NIGHTFALL. I published it in high school and with the help of my art teacher, Joseph Degnain, The book was standard slasher fare, but was heavily critical of religion, government and of many world views that we are dealing with today. We printed off 50 copies using all of the schools resources and equipment. In some ways, he believed in my dreams more than I did as he was responsible for the entire output process. All he wanted in return was one singular copy. I sold them to students for $1 and sold out in four days.

Matt: You have done some great comics based on such films as Gates of Hell, Zombie, Halloween and the upcoming Nightmare City remake – what has been your favorite one to work on?

Derek: It’s popular to answer that question by saying, “it’s like picking the favorite of your children”…and that’s true, But that’s not hard for me. If my books are “children”, then some of them were some real fucking bastards (laughs). Thus far my personal favorite as far as just my art would have to be THE GATES OF HELL. That book was a decades long journey through one of the most formative and tumultuous years of my life. I think the determination to complete that project shows in the finished product. It’s a great body of work. My favorite publication as a whole would hands down be THE DEAD – OMNIBUS. We all were just an unstoppable freight train during that project. There’s so much love and pride there, it’s staggering.

Matt: What three horror films would you like to turn into a comic book series or adaptations for Rough House Publishing, and why?

Derek: As we go forward with ROUGH HOUSE, I think you’ll be seeing us move away slightly from licensed projects, in lieu of more creator-owned stuff. Licensing is sometimes hard to get with the type of stuff we are interested in making books out of…BUT, if I could magically do three more, I personally would want to do THE BRONX WARRIORS (as a trilogy), the un-filmed original script for George Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD and probably CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. If you ask some of the other Rough House crew, you’d probably have an even bigger list.

Matt: With The Dead: Omnibus being one of your first releases from Rough House Publishing, I would guess you grew up a zombie comic fan. What is some of your favorite zombie or even horror comics going now?

Derek: Sadly, I’m not a fan of most modern comics in general anymore. Most of them lack the spirit and savvy and genius of some of the comics I grew up with. Maybe I’m just bias. The entire institution has become very corporate and are usually a means of advertisement for a much bigger and more profitable franchise. I think Image is publishing some interesting stuff like AIRBOY and BIG MANS PLANS. The original Garth Ennis’ CROSSED by Avatar Press was ground-breaking at the time, I loved SATELLITE SAM by Howard Chaykin and Matt Fraction…as you can see, most are not horror. HAUNTED HORROR is the closest ting publishing to my favorite comic book being published today, but those are are all reprinted stories from over 60 years ago…so I guess you can see where my roots are truly planted.

Matts: Thanks, my friend, for taking your time to chat with me!

Derek Rook At Work

As always Derek is a class act and a true artist in the world of horror comics and one of my favorite artists going today alongside Javier Trujillo as both capture the true nature of horror. So for about a year now I have been itching to check out The Dead as Rough House Publishing put it on my radar with their release of The Dead: Omnibus.  This started my quest to find the single issues that were released just so I could finally read them and cover them for this Undead File update! Thanks to Ebay and Lone Star Comics, I was able to track them down and enjoy them for the first time in all their gore-tastic glory! But before we walk among The Dead, I should 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, its entertainment value and its art and story. So with that out of the way, let’s see what all this brain eating and gut munching horror is all about!

The Dead 1

The Dead # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 2

Davey is a young man who is going to be a military man someday soon and is on a camping trip with his family and friends.  They are having a good time, and it seems like a perfect trip complete with campfires, fishing and walks in the woods making it seem like nothing could go wrong. As the wives are alone, a knock on the door leads to death as a farmer zombie in overalls and a shotgun blows one of the mom’s heads off and then proceeds to eat the breasts off the other! The Zombie Farmer is not alone and as the other zombies start to eat the flesh of the woman, the husbands show up and they as well become lunch as once more the Zombie Farmer uses his shotgun to blow the head off of one of them! Davey is smart enough and gets all the kids into the RV and saves their lives as they head to the nearby town for help they soon find out it has been set on fire.

This is a perfect example of an underground horror comic as it’s packed with lots of gore, boobs and monsters and is done in glorious black and white. The story is about two families on a vacation in the woods that are attacked by zombies who seem to not only want to eat them but also get enjoyment from killing humans. The story follows Davey as he tries all he can to save his siblings and young friends from a brutal death, all the while having to come to grips with the fact that his parents are dead. Davey is a interesting character who’s young but yet acts mature as his goal in life is to be a military man just like his father.  Despite the shock of seeing his parents slaughtered, he is still smart enough to use his brain and get in the RV and get the heck out of dodge as he sees the zombies coming for them. The rest of the kids are your normal generic kids who sneak and smoke pot and act silly and tough when you know without Davey’s guidance they would all be zombie lunch. The Zombie Farmer is one twisted sick undead psycho who not only kills his victims but also psychologically tortures them by allowing them to beg for their lives only to kill them with a brutal glee. The things we know about Zombie Farmer: he can use a shotgun and is good with it, he loves female boobs and he cannot die with damage to his body. The rest of the zombies seem to listen to what the Farmer says and are into eating the victims and causing chaos and mayhem. The comic is filled with lots of blood, brains and head exploding, all things that horror comic fans love and crave. The issue’s story and plot was done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with art done by Jason Moore that is a very fitting style for a independent horror comic from the 90’s. The cover for some reason reminds me of Raiden from Mortal Kombat and is eye catching but in no way warns the reader of just how brutal the comic is! So far I’m very much enjoying this comic and am looking forward to issue two as well as the second volume of The Dead so let’s get to issue # 2!

The Dead 2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1993    Cover Price $2.25    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 2

Davey and the gang watch as the town is burning and come up with a plan to try and get food, medical supplies and weapons from a trading post deep in the woods run by an old man named Zeke.  As they start their journey, Zombie Farmer in a pick up truck packed with zombies tries to stop them using firebombs and bricks to slow the kids down, but Davey has a plan that has motor oil being flung onto the windshield of the truck causing the Zombies to crash off a tiny bridge and explode! But before they get to the post, a zombie is able to get into the RV and bite one of the girls on the neck before it can be bashed leaving its brains all over the floor. The group tend to the wounded girl as Davey and the guys go into the post that has been clearly attacked by the undead.  They scavenge for food and get 10 boxes worth before Zeke shows up, now a zombie, throwing knives that injure one of the boys’ legs before they escape and head back to the road and the unknown! It ends with a naked woman who’s a prisoner of zombies who must rat out a location of other humans, and for her help a zombie eats her private parts!

More twisted and gruesome moments are packed into this growing story of Davey and the kids trying to get help and get away from the living dead who are out for blood and guts and a murderous good time. This issue’s plot has Davey and the kids trying to get to a safe place to gather supplies all the while dodging zombies who want to stop them and kill them. Throw in a strange zombie at the end who is forcing a living female for information and you have this strange issue summed up. Davey becomes more in charge as it’s clear they are being targeted by the zombies.  He comes up with the idea to get the Zombie Farmer off his back as well as comes up with where to get the supplies they will need to survive. The rest of the kids are becoming more useful and understand now that they are all in danger and when one of their own is bitten on the neck by a zombie, they know that death could await them at any turn. The zombies are very mean spirited and use bricks, cocktail bombs and knives to attack and they will not stop until the kids can escape them or kill them. Zombie Farmer returns for a short time and is driving a pickup truck and is trying to run the RV off the road, and is only stopped when his truck drives off a bridge and explodes, is he dead or not I cannot say for sure. The issue is packed with more gore that includes a neck bite, knife to the leg and a woman’s private parts being eaten by a zombie showing that they were all about the blood. The cover I have to this issue is X-Rated and depicts the poor woman being eaten by the Zombie, and this I am sure was never on the shelf at Mavericks Cards and Comics or The Bookie Parlor. The story and plot was once more done by Ralph Griffith and Stuart Kerr with Moore doing the art again that is super fitting for a comic of this nature as he understands the style of making a good zombie attack come alive. The downside is that the story is not finished as only two issues were made for Volume 1 so I am hoping that Volume 2 finishes this story or at least tells us the readers what happened to Davey and his siblings and friends. This comic series seems like fans of The Walking Dead could enjoy it if they don’t mind crude gore mixed in with their Horror Drama. And yes, the green zombie heads added to the cover was because I had to censor it, sad to say.

the dead vol 1 art 1

So that was volume one of this series so up next lets take a look at the second time around they tried to deliver The Dead to Horror Comic Readers with this 1998 released zombie romp issues! Does this series follow what happened to Davey….I don’t know but I hope if not they at least make a small attempt to tell what his the teens fate was, but lets not waste no more time the living dead is starting to crowd around and I don’t know about you but I sure don’t want to be bitten.

The Dead 2.1

The Dead # 1  **
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 1 of 3

Jerry, Marcus and Megan are paramedics who are responding to a terrible multiple car wreck in Chicago that has many injured as well as many dead. They rush to the hospital with two survivors but quickly find out that the hospital is a warzone as the dead are coming back to life and eating the living! Just then one of the wreck victims dies and comes back to life and attacks Marcus and this causes Jerry to wreck the ambulance, this leads to Megan being thrown from the wreck and attacked and killed by Marcus who is now a zombie who turns Megan into a zombie who bites Jerry who escapes but is now on the run from his two former partners as well as the two wreck victims who are also flesh eaters! Jerry runs to a nearby gas station and meets a young woman who thinks he’s crazy as he rambles on about zombies, but she soon finds out he is no crazy as the zombies come for them and they both must run for their lives. The second story takes place in Michigan and has an old man fishing and drinking beer watching as a young couple is attacked and zombies come from the lake, he rushes to get his guns and warn the couples friends but it might be to late as they think he’s crazy and open the door to the living dead.

Right off the top I must say this second series lacks the gore, nudity and characters of the first series and while good felt a little lack luster. Plus this far we get zero follow up on Davey and his crew and instead we are following new characters as they are dealing with the zombie outbreak. The plot is broke into two parts with one following Jerry a paramedic and the other following an old drunk man and his dog as they deal with zombies and the people around them. Jerry is kind of a moron who does not help Megan who is begging for help after her injuries that was caused by his crappy driving, once he let her day I found myself shaking my head and wondering when he would die and hoping it was gruesome. The Old Man who has yet to be named seems ok this far and was just wanting to drink some beer, hang with his old dog and fish, but when the zombies come he at least tries to save others. The zombies are your Italian Zombie movie style who go for neck bites and are slow and only driven by the hunger of flesh. Over all not feeling this first issue as much as I did the 1993 The Dead issue 1 as this one kind of sadly feels generic in some ways, again not terrible just average. The cover is bland and shows the old man with his gun, and the art inside is pretty cool and classic 90’s horror comic stuff and is done by Matt Mason. I am hoping that issue two packs a little more blood and gore punch as series one set the bar very high and this issue felt like a light Marvel Zombies issue.

The Dead 2.2

The Dead # 2  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 2 of 3

The Old Man who’s name is Rick fights off the zombies and pushes them out of the cabin, but not before one boy is bitten by one that snuck into the house via the back window! The Old Man’s plan is for them all to load into the van out front and drive into town to get help, but the zombies have other plans as they block the path to the van. Rick sends some of the kids including Jennifer out after they find the keys to a four-wheeler, the injured boy goes with her and they travel to the neighbors house who own a truck. While there the boy turns into a zombies and the neighbors are all ready zombies and Jennifer must blast her way through them to get the truck to pick up the others just in time as the zombies were about to over take them. Now back to Chicago where Jerry and the female gas worker are running the streets for their lives away from the zombies that are all around, the bite on Jerry’s arm is getting worse as the pain is becoming unbearable. Meanwhile the Zombies are attacking and killing anyone they come in contact with and a brutish biker saves Jerry and the Clerk from a zombie attack and warns them to leave town and to get away as far as they can! The clerk and Jerry steal a car as his pain is getting worse they soon find themselves in a zombie traffic jam.

This second issue brings back blood and gore and adds enough survival horror drama that you find yourself as the reader being drawn into the plot and wanting to see how any of the survivors will make it out alive. The plot for both stories has our heroes and fellow survivors trying to escape the grips of the living dead and coming up with plans to do so. Jerry this time around while as useless as ever at least saves the clerk from becoming zombie lunch, but does just yell at the zombies instead of fighting them like a man. The Female Gas Station Clerk is by far the bravery of the two and wants to not only find help for Jerry but also get out of town and save her own butt. The Old Man Rick is one bad mofo as he blasts his way through zombies as well as comes up with a plan that works and gets the survivors away from the lake and cabins that are being over run by the undead. Jennifer who is one of the young ladies at the cabin also seems like she could be a player in the survival game as she is very strong willed and understands that she needs to fight to stay alive. The Zombies are as always brutal and craving flesh and will not stop no matter how many gun shots you pump into them, unless you aim for the head. The gore and blood are back and while not as brutal as it was in series one, it still great to see in this series. The cover is better and has zombies eating a man and the art inside is good and done by Matt Mason again. Solid brutal issue with lots of zombie horror fun, looking forward to the third and final issue in this second series and see if it has an ending or if Arrow leaves us hanging again.

The Dead 2.3

The Dead # 3  **1/2
Released in 1998    Cover Price $2.95    Arrow Comics    # 3 of 3

The Store Clerk gets Jerry through the zombie roadblock, but Jerry has died and is becoming a zombie! Jerry is not just some ordinary zombie as he can talk and think and wants nothing more than to rape and eat the clerk! He tricks her into stopping at a drug store by saying he needs medication and bandages for his bite wound and then has her follow him into the back storage room as the zombies start to break in.  He attacks her and leads her into the zombies who all listen to him.  He tells them to eat her and claims he is the King of The Zombies! The second story follows a group of teens at a house babysitting, eating pizza and watching some flicks when a police officer who’s the brother of one of the girls shows up and warns them all to stay inside as murders are happing all over. In the end the parents of the young kids show up and are infected, and the teens lock themselves in the house and prepare for a horrific night of terror.

The story of Jerry has an ending as he becomes the first smart and talking zombie of this series, he is so slimy and only wants to feed his urges of human flesh both in a hungry way and a horny way! I 100% hate Jerry and so wanted the Female Store Clerk to survive and blow his brains out….sadly this did not happen as she became zombie dinner. I however must say I did like the journey of Jerry from being an every day guy doing his job to being bite by a zombie to being in pain and dying from said bite to finally becoming a zombie and learning he has powers the others don’t like speech and a mind that still works for plotting. The second story is pretty cool and reminds me of my friends and I getting together back in High School and having Horror Movie Marathons in my parent’s basement. But while the story on that one was just getting started from all I could gather the 4th issue never came out and left readers hanging once more. The story of Rick and the lake survivors as well did not get a closing as in this issue they are not shown at all. The issue showcases some blood and gore as well as nudity as the Female Gas Station Worker has her top ripped off by the sleazy zombie Jerry. This second series while good failed to capture the raw magic of the first series, and with that said I still enjoyed these three issues and they were well worth tracking down for this update. The cover on issue three is pretty cool and just showcases a zombie and reminds me of pure independent punk rock horror comics, the art inside is Matt again and is good stuff and very fitting for the nature of this series. One thing I should point out about this series that was really cool was that you could pay to put yourself in the comic! You could pay a fee from $250 to $25 and select to be a zombie, a victim or a Zombie Hunter and even pick just how gross your death would be! That’s a fantastic gimmick and one that should be in use today, oh wait “We Kill The Dead” the new upcoming Horror Series did do something like this for their Kickstarter…Good Work Guys, as I find this to be an outstanding idea. Over all The Dead’s third issue is much like the first two in this series good stuff and worth a read for zombie comic fans like myself. Below is some artwork form this second series.

the dead vol 2 art 1

The Dead is clearly one of the horror comics alongside the George Romero Dead films that inspired The Walking Dead as lots of elements seem to be borrowed from each in the comic as well as the show. If you enjoy your zombies dripping in blood, guts and gore and enjoy a little nudity thrown in for extra sleazy, I would say The Dead is for you, as I found myself loving every black and white page of the undead on a rampage for flesh and glory. Make sure to check out The Dead: Omnibus by Rough House Publishing as they collect all the issues as well as unprinted stories in one glorious book! And keep an eye out for more of their releases as they are the true horror comic fan’s outlet for amazing titles. For the next update I am going to try and have a showdown with an NES game that has foiled my attempts to beat it for years, but now I am ready to beat Werewolf: The Last Warrior as well as review the mini comic that came with the game on release! So until next time, avoid the dead, read a comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host!

NES Werewolf Logo

The Undead Files: Resident Evil

I remember the first time I ever laid eyes on the game that captured my imagination and was one of the key deciding factors for me to buy a Sony Playstation over a Nintendo 64 and other game systems. The year 1993 was the major kick off for what is called the fifth generation of gaming with such systems as the Panasonic 3DO and the Atari Jaguar hitting the market late in the year and both claiming to be as powerful as systems that came before them like The Sega CD, Phillips CD-I and the Super Nintendo.  But both failed to capture the market for many reasons, one being 3DO’s high price sticker on both the games and console and the Jaguar had terrible in-house games and very few third party releases. Sega responded to these systems with an add-on for the Genesis called the 32X in 1994 and then again a year later with stand alone system the Sega Saturn, but the console wars was about to heat up when on September 9th 1995 Sony released Playstation and Nintendo released the N64 in 1996 as well making an all out war for who would be the king of home consoles. The year 1996 also marked the death of Atari and Panasonic being console makers as both the Jaguar (who even tried to stay alive with a CD game add on) and 3DO hit the electronics graveyard, while Sega and Nintendo held on with the Saturn and N64 it was the Playstation that became the king of the home fifth gen. Consoles!

Sony Playstation System 0

As you all know, I am a gamer and have been since the days of the NES, and horror themed games have always been my cup of tea.  So I figured I would talk real quick about one of my favorites for the NES, based on the horror film series Friday The 13th by LJN. And before everyone gets worked up, this game is by far NOT the best horror theme game for the NES, but it is by far the most mistreated and underrated and seems to be the punching bag for cheap Angry Video Game Nerd rip-off reviewers the internet wide. So let’s take a quick look at Friday The 13th for the NES.

Friday_the_13th_cart

Camp Crystal Lake is back open for business.  Six counselors are in charge of the campers, but the hockey mask killer Jason Voorhees is back and is making chop steak of the kids.  He is not alone as zombies, wolves, birds, bats and his mother’s floating head all try to slow you down from the rescue. Your weapons are rocks, knives, an ax, pitchfork, torch and machete, and your goal is to light all the cabins fireplaces, kill Jason’s mom’s head to get her sweater, save as many of the kids as you can, fight off Jason in and around the cabins, and live through three days of terror. The gameplay is a side scrolling action game that adds in a maze style when you enter the cabin, and the maze controls can be confusing and cause the player to get turned around. The side scrolling also doesn’t follow the rules, and when heading right you are really going left! But once you get used to this terrible control set up, the game starts to become really fun as you hurry from cabin to cabin lighting the fireplaces and running to the cabins Jason is attacking. Jason not only will fight you in the cabins Punch Out style, he will also surprise attack you during the side scrolling section and try his best to kill you! The game is a challenge for many reasons; yes, one is being the bad controls, but also because it’s a race against time and survival of all the little campers and fellow staff members is in your hands and it can add some pressure as the Jason Alarm (a loud beep) goes off and you know that people are dying! This game is one that I used to play all the time with my brother Bryan and cousins Dino and Norman Dimitrouleas, and all of use would spend hours trying to beat it.  The first person I saw beat it was Norman, who was shocked to see that he finally beat it! I would later go on to beat it as well, but Norman was still the first and the trail blazer to beat what was a hard game. The game has a special place in my gaming heart and will be one of those games I will always remember that I played and beat.

Friday The 13th Nes Screen 1Friday The 13th Nes Title ScreenFriday The 13th NES in Cabin Screen

The game’s graphics are nothing special.  The camp counselors have no facial features, and the backgrounds are standard woods, lake, cave and trails with nothing major standing out. The normal enemies look like stock characters and could easily be placed in other games of the horror nature. Jason looks great in an odd way, as he wears a purple jump suit and has a bright blue mask and gloves on. For as long I can remember, people made fun of this look for Jason, but the funny thing is that for all those goons who laughed at the look and the game, they all sure did flock to by the super cool action figure from NECA toys! Jason in Friday the 13th for the NES made by LJN will always be one of my favorite games for the NES and once more will say that its very underrated by gamers, but I will admit that the AVGN episode was really funny as The Nerd meet Jason who was forcing him to play the game or be killed!

NES Jason SideJason NES punchout styleNES Jason ToyAVGN Friday The 13th

It was spring of 1996 when I first saw Resident Evil on the Sony Playstation made by Capcom at my cousins’ house.  Dino and Norman were always up to date on video game consoles, and besides Nintendo Power and Game Informer Magazine and my friend Jason Gilmore, they were always my key to what cool new games had came out. They much like my brother and myself were into horror films and enjoyed a good scare and that’s why Norman told me he wanted me to come see his new zombie game. I can remember that the Playstation was downstairs in a furnished basement that had a pool table as well as a giant couch.  As soon as Norman pushed power on the Playstation and that amazing chime echoed off the walls and I saw the games first cut scene of actors running from an unknown attacker, I could feel myself being drawn into the story of the game.  You have a choice of playing two members of an elite group called S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics And Rescue Squad) Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield and along side fellow members Albert Wesker, Barry Burton and helicopter pilot Brad Vickers must search a giant mansion for fellow members, all the while fighting off hordes of zombies and other nasty baddies. This is the true birth place of what is called Survival Horror in game genres, although many would say that it’s Sweet Home, a game made by Capcom back in 1989 for the Japanese version of the NES called Famicom and based on a film of the same name, but to me Resident Evil is the true starter of this style of game. I can’t express the moment I saw the first zombie in the game slowly turn around as he was munching on one of your team mates and comes shuffling after you.  Now thats’ a true scary iconic moment in gaming and something super cool that my cousin shared with me knowing I would eat up every horror filled bite! Sadly early this year the world lost Norman D, and thats heartbreaking as he was a kind hearted man who not only had friends and family who loved him but also left behind two children. This update is for you Norman…Love You Cousin.

Resident Evil Zombie Turn

I sat and watched Norman play the game and was drawn deeper and deeper into the story and wanting him to find the next key or item to move onto the next room in the giant abandoned mansion and was hyped when a zombie or infected dog or monster would appear. After we left and went home, I was craving more Resident Evil, and when I bought my Sony Playstation, Resident Evil and WCW Nitro were the first two games I bought and me and my friend Jason Gilmore spent many late nights playing the heck out of those games. After that I can remember buying Resident Evil 2 and 3 from Blockbuster Video as well as Resident Evil Survivor, and these games made me a loyal fan of Capcom as well as fueled my love for Playstation. So in a major way this update is a big THANK YOU to Capcom for making the Resident Evil series and bringing Survival Horror games to the front of the class during this era of gaming. So here is to you, Capcom, for all the years of making games that have entertained the masses and have brought us all types of iconic series from Resident Evil all the way to Street Fighter.  Keep doing what you do best and that’s make games that make players happy.

capcom

The present day world of gaming is filled with first person war shooters, terrible digital download fluff games and a heck of a lot of cellphone games.  For me, the only games that make me rush to my local game shop and preorder are survival horror and always at the top of that list is Resident Evil alongside Silent Hill and TellTale Games Walking Dead seasons when the retail discs are made available. So before we get into the Marvel Comics promo comic that was given away for free back in 1996, we should first take a look at Resident Evil in games, movies and pop culture.  So grab some healing spray and stay close as we are about to travel a path filled with the undead as we enter the world of RESIDENT EVIL! The write ups will come to us thanks to IMDB and their contributors, as I tend to babble when I write about things I love like these games.  However I will also add my thoughts to each to add my own flare.

Resident Evil 1Resident Evil PSXResident Evil 2

Something bizarre is happening in Raccoon City. People are being eaten with no clue why. S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team goes to investigate more on the situation in Raccoon Forest. The team is supposedly wiped out and S.T.A.R.S. Alpha Team is sent in to find out what is going on. The team, comprised of Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, Barry Burton, and Albert Wesker, find strange mysterious goings on. They retreat into a huge mansion where the horror and terror begins. Throughout the game, truths about the problem in Raccoon City are revealed.”

This is the groundbreaking game that started it all.  Not only was it filled with scares but also puzzles that made you think as well as taught you not to just run and gun down the zombies as bullets were hard to come by. Not to mention, it was great how you could pick to play as Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield with each having their own adventure and cut scenes. The mansion was a perfect setting for this type of game as you felt almost as if the walls were coming in, and the atmosphere of being alone and not knowing where your friends are could send shivers down a gamer’s spine while playing late at night. The game is so classic that it got a Directors Cut on Playstation, a remake on Nintendo Gamecube and an HD Remake on PS3 and other systems. Over all this in one great horror themed game and ranks for sure in my top 10 video game for the original Playstation.

Resident Evil 2 -1Resident Evil 2 PSXResident Evil 2 - 2

“In this sequel to Resident Evil, the genetically made zombies are back and it’s up to two new heroes to stop them. Leon S. Kennedy picked a bad day to join the racoon police department. He finds the town of Raccoon City crawling with zombies. Along the way, he meets Claire Redfield (the sister of Chris Redfield from the first game). Claire has come to the town to find Chris. Leon and Claire decide to separate and search for survivors on thier way to the police station. Along the way, they meet some interesting characters. Leon meets Ada Wong, a mysterious woman who doesn’t like talking about what she is up to; Claire meets Sherry Birkin, a troubled little girl searching for her parents. The game comes on two separate disks to follow the separate adventures of Leon and Claire.”

This second game is also a classic, but I cannot lie, when it first came out I was a fan of it..BUT thought that it was a little overrated by all my friends who would say it was the best Survival Horror Game and better than the original. Taking the location to the city and away from the old mansion certainly helped add a new level of horror to the series. I can remember playing this game in my parents’ basement with Jason Gilmore and trying our best to beat it, and he did! Over all, it’s a great follow up to the original game with great new characters added to the storyline wth Claire Redfield, Ada Wong and Leon Kennedy who are now mainstays in the over all story arc.The game also not only has zombies but also super tall super strong trenchcoat wearing baddies called Tyrants.

Resident Evil 3 - 1Resident Evil 3 PSXResident Evil 3 - 2

Just days after surviving the grisley disaster at the mansion lab, Jill Valentine resigns from S.T.A.R.S. and attempts to escape a nightmarish city in ruins. Trapped in a town crawling with hordes of flesh-eating zombies, hideous mutants, and a relentless new nemesis, she must rely on cunning and brute force to stay alive. What she soon discovers is that the evil created by Umbrella Corporation’s bio-tech terror is even more horrifying then she ever imagined…

This is hands down my favorite game in the series! I can remember that I bought this game from Blockbuster Video when I worked there and was super hyped to pop it into my Playstation and give it a play.  From the moment I started running around the zombie filled streets as Jill Valentine to the moment I first saw the one monster brute killing machine Nemesis, I was hooked and became a superfan of the story and characters of this 3rd game in the series. I loved hearing the booming voice of Nemesis screaming “STARRRRSSSS” and this game reminded me for some reason of my favorite zombie film Day of the Dead.  I have a story about why, but I will save it for when we take a look at Dead Dog Comics Day Of The Dead comic. I can remember when I finally beat this game I totally felt like I accomplished something major.

Resident Evil 4 - 1Resident Evil 4 PS2Resident Evil 4 - 2

Six years after the viral outbreak that destroyed Racoon City, former police officer Leon S. Kennedy is a federal agent sent to Europe to search for the President’s daughter. Unfortunately for him, he stumbles upon a scenerio frighteningly similar to what he encountered back in Racoon City…

The 4th game in the series is one that most fans of the series will tell you is the best one next to Resident Evil 2, but for me it was a fun play with a pretty cool and creepy storyline but is way overrated as being called “the best” in the series. Gone were the hordes of zombies and in their place was infected people who mutate. Gone away was the tank style controls as it was replaced with over the shoulder style aiming and movement. The game is a fun spooky play with blood, guts and gore, and while not the best in my eyes, it did change and shake the series up.

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Sent in by the BSAA, Chris Redfield has a new mission. It takes him into South Africa where he encounters a new horror and relives an old past.”

When I first started to play Resident Evil 5, I straight out was not enjoying it as the A.I. partner I had was always getting stuck and dying causing me to have to start over again. I was so frustrated that this game sat on a shelf for about two years until my friend Jeremy Hoyt said he would play the game again and with a fellow human playing the second character, the game was fun and yet still challenging. Word of mouth on this game has been very split since the day it was released, with some fans loving the more action horror approach while others hating the fact the survival element is gone as guns and ammo are aplenty. I myself am very split on this game as the one player mode would get a D- and the two player mode would get a solid B, worth the play with a friend.

Resident Evil 6 - 1Resident Evil 6 PS3Resident Evil 6 - 2

The war on bio-terrorism continues as Chris Redfield, Leon Kennedy, and other famous Resident Evil stalwarts battle a seemingly familiar adversary. However, as these veterans of survival horror pursue this latest threat, their nightmare reaches critical mass when it is discovered that it is in fact Ada Wong’s dark clone, Carla, who is championing the most deadly bio-weapon yet – the C-Virus. Chris and Leon have eradicated some of the worst viral strains, from Raccoon City and beyond. But can they overcome this most deadly strain yet? Moreover, when push comes to shove, can they shed old compassion and take down their former friends? How will a conflicted young Wesker come to terms with his lineage, and where will his true alliance fall in this deadly chess match?”

This 6th game in the series was met with mixed reviews, and I feel like it was was too harshly judged. I enjoyed the fact that the game took three different paths and each would cross at times and would get you ever so closer to the over all store of this installment. The game had the right mix of horror and action and was a fun co-op game as me and Jeremy played and beat this one as well. Lots of a gun play, some zombies as well as bosses made this one a good time. I will say that it’s by far the weakest in the series, but again, not as bad as some would have you believe.

Resident Evil Survivor 1Resident Evil Survivor PSXResident Evil Survivor 2

In 1998 a disaster struck the quiet midwestern residence of Raccoon City. An uncontrollable outbreak of the Umbrella created T-Virus transformed the city into an inescapable death trap. To stop the outbreak from spreading, Umbrella Incorporated was forced to wipe out the entire city. However, this was not the only location where an outbreak occurred…”

I wanted to cover this game real quick as it was another Resident Evil game that was one the original Sony Playstation that I spent tons of time trying to beat when I was in my early 20’s! The game was not a third person one but took the route of being a first person shooter as you took the role of a man who forgets who he is and must survive the zombie outbreak. As of the last 2 years I replayed this game, and while it’s nothing special, it still has a place in my heart. My friend Jason Gilmore hated this game so much, and I can remember him getting so pissed off at it having to use the controller instead of a light gun. Below is also is a picture that acts as a who’s who of the Resident Evil Video Game World from Zero to 6!

Who's Who Of Resident Evil

Resident Evil’s main story only has 6 installments up to this point but has a ton of spin-off games that help add to the legacy of the series, and these have been made on many systems over the years like Gamecube, Nintendo DS, Sega Dreamcast, Playstation 2, XBox 360 and many more! Some of the great games in this series are Resident Evil 0 – a game that acts as a prequel, Resident Evil Revelations that has sparked two games thus far and is a cool way to add to the creepy nature of the series as the first game in the series has you stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean! But these spin-off games have also had some bad games like the Resident Evil Outbreak series that had you picking from a cast of everyday people and trying to survive and escape the odds as well as the shoot em up cheese fest Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City that while fun for being a no brainer kind of game was very much a major time waster as well. Love or hate these side games, one things for sure, they at least help add to the Survival Horror legacy that the series help start.

Resident Evil 0 GamecubeResident Evil Outbreak PS2Resident Evil Dead Aim PS2Resident Evil Operation Raccoon City Xbox 360Resident Evil Survivor Revelations PS3

Besides the video games, Resident Evil has also broke into the world of Hollywood as several live action and some animated films have been made featuring the characters and even making some up along the way. The live action movies follow Alice, played by Milla Jovovich, with the first film coming out in 2002 and a total of 5 films thus far made for the series with the 6th on planned for a 2017 release. While they are by no means classic zombies films and fall flat when you compare them to the likes of Romero’s Dead films or even the first three of the Return of the Living Dead films, they still deliver some zombie horror filled with over the top Matrix style action scenes. While I have seen the live action Resident Evil films, many of them even in the theater, I have not seen that animated ones though I hear that they are fantastic and are better.  My friend Jeremy who is a Resident Evil fan like myself really enjoys the animated ones and recommends them to you. So if you dig the games and can’t get enough R.E., make sure to check out the films as they may hold you over till the next game.

Resident Evil Movie DVDResident_evil_retribution_posterResident Evil animated movie

One thing that has always been really cool about Resident Evil is that lots of toys have been made of the characters with some of the first ones I remember coming out via Toy Biz who were known for making the X-Men and Marvel Toys when I was a youngster. What I remember most about these toys was that they did ones for parts 1 and 2 and that they would come in two packs that would feature a hero like Jill and with a zombie! They would be packed with all types of weapons as well as sometimes other goodies. I know over the years I have had some of the zombie figures, and I think in my parents basement somewhere there is a Jill but what I remember the most about these figures is when Game Swap in Kettering first opened my friend Max brought some of his figures in and he placed them on the shelf above the DVD Boxsets.  To this day, they sit on that shelf in his honor. Looking back at it, he was also big fan of this video game series, and I would like to dedicate this update to him as he was truly a great friend and will forever live on to all those who knew him.

Resident Evil Toys

Before we get into the Marvel Comic promo issue, I would like to take a moment to say that I have been to many horror and comic conventions over the years, and it’s always cool to see people dressed up cosplaying as their favorite characters from film, video games and comics.  I always like to see was the people who dress as characters from Resident Evil! Always nice seeing a good looking goth girl running around in a S.T.A.R.S. Uniform like I use to for many years at Horrorhound Weekend. But I have not seen her the last few times I have been, so below are some pictures of people cosplaying as Resident Evil characters Jill Valentine, Nemesis and Ada Wong, so check them out and enjoy!

Resident Evil Jill CosplayNemesis CosplayResident Evil Ada Wong Cosplay

So we have made it to the Town Hall here in Raccoon City and have dodged many zombies.  Along the way, we have talked about Resident Evil in video games, movies, toys and cosplay, and we are now at the point where we will be talking about Resident Evil in comics.  I chose to review the Marvel Comic over Wildstorm’s because this was the first R.E. comic and is a direct tie in to the original game. So while you use the health spray and pick the green herbs to mix with the red ones, I need to remind you that I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and base it on entertainment value, quality of the story, the art and how true it stays to the source martial.  So let’s get ready to enter and hope we can find a rotten ink ribbon fast!

Resident Evil Promo Comic 1

Resident Evil # 1  **1/2
Released in 1996    Cover Price Free    Marvel Comics    # 1 of 1

Richard Aiken is a member of S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team and is alone in a mansion with “things” that are watching him as he tries his best to call back to base and his boss Albert Wesker for help, but soon finds that the wires in his phone box are cut! Aiken’s team has been attacked and many of them killed.  What was just a search for missing hikers has turned into a massacre of his friends. Meanwhile Wesker gets a phone call from a shadowy figure that tells him that he must keep a secret from being discovered and that he did a good job of sabotaging the Bravo Team’s chopper. As Wesker hangs up, Barry and members of the Alpha Team show up to see if he has any news on the missing team, and this makes Wesker decided to call on his top team to find out what’s going on in the area near the abandon mansion. Meanwhile Aiken is in the mansion running from shadows, poison gas and worse a giant snake! Wesker gets his team ready that includes Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield, and together they chopper to the site of the missing team and bail out in order to find them.

This comic is a pre-equal to the Capcom PlayStation video game and does a nice job of quickly explaining what happened before the events of the game and shows you some of the fate of the Bravo team. The plot is this simple: a group of special forces go missing in a area where people have vanished.  They themselves get into a world of trouble as what is waiting for them is something pure evil and their only hope is another team who is on the way to save the day. Richard Aiken is the first member of S.T.A.R.S. we meet, and sadly by the time we catch up with him, he is filled with fear and is running for his life. But he does fight to stay alive all the way up to the giant snake crossing his path and for all accounts ending his life. Albert Wesker, who is the head of the S.T.A.R. teams, is clearly a scumbag as he is shown to be hiding something from the start and is more into keeping that secret then saving his missing men. Jill, Chris, Barry and the rest of the Alpha Team are all side characters, and they clearly take this back seat as they are more important in the video game so I think they wanted them to be around but not the stars. This comic shows no zombies besides in shadows and the only “monsters” shown are the giant snake and the green gas of death. I do wish they would have shown the zombies, but again, if they did I think it might have taken away from the game when you first meet the flesh eaters, a true double edged sword. The comic has zero blood and is only a total of 12 pages with the cover the same as the game’s cover and has art done by Dave Johnson who worked on other books like Detective Comics and Action Comics. Over all this promo comic was a fun read and helps add to the story of Resident Evil but it also is way too highly priced for what it is.  So fans of the game series should check it out for sure.  Casual fans might want to stay away from a comic with little action and no true scares. Below is some artwork from the comic to show you the style of the book’s art.

Resident Evil Art 1

So while this Marvel Promo Comic might not have been great like the game it was based on, it still was a fun read and a part of the history of Resident Evil. For our next update, we are leaving the undead-infested Raccoon City and entering the fast food world of fried chicken as we are taking a trip into the 11 herbs and spices of KFC and learning about its spokesman Colonel Sanders! So from zombies who eat human flesh to a Colonel who eats friend chicken flesh, our next one is for sure going to be a great time. Until then, read a comic or three, play a video game or two, support your local horror host and watch out for the undead!

KFC Logo

Return Of The Living Monster Bash Vacation (2015)

Juliet and I headed back to Mars to once more attend the Monster Bash Convention for another adventure filled with monster movies, podcasts and landmarks from George Romero zombie films! This time around we started our quest on Saturday June 20th missing a day of Monster Bash due to her work having a big event on Friday. I can’t tell you how much I look forward to these vacations in Pittsburgh and Monster Bash all year long. It’s always a fun time hanging out with Juliet with no work worries and knowing that I have time to relax and spend time with all the things I love: my gal and horror films! This year’s theme was The Mummy as one of the guests was Ron Chaney, grandson of Lon Chaney Jr. who played the Mummy Kharis for Universal in the films The Mummy’s Tomb, The Mummy’s Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse not to mention he played a Mummy in Face of the Screaming Werewolf! Valerie Leon who was in Hammer’s Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb was also a guest along with Liesl Ehardt who is an actress who’s second cousin is Zita Johann who played Helen Grosvenor in Universal’s 1932 shocker The Mummy! Other guests included Conrad Brooks from Plan 9 From Outer Space and other Ed Wood films, Tom Savini the master of gore FX, composer Kevin Slick, The Blob – yep the movie prop that was the jelly alien, Vincent Price’s daughter Victoria Price and Night of the Living Dead alumni John Russo, George Kosana and Chilly Billy Cardille who also was a long time horror host in Pittsburgh as he hosted the show Chiller Theatre and is also the father of Laurie Cardille who played Sara in Romero’s Day of the Dead. Other horror hosts who attended were Son of Ghoul, Mr. Lobo, The Patient Creatures and the cast of Ghoul A Go-Go! And I must not forget the no budget film maker David “The Rock” Nelson among many other book writers, historians and comedy tribute groups. So pack a bag and come along on our journey as we return to Monster Bash!

Lobby Card Bash June 2015

Friday (June 20th 2015) before the trip I worked a full shift at work, and Juliet put in a super long day working her job as they had a big station reunion party going on. After work, my cousin Stephen Alexander II and one of my best friends Josh Weinberg got some chicken wings from Frickers and headed to my parents house where we watched Bellator MMA 138 with my dad. The event was a fun one as we all took sides on who was going to win the main event fight between Ken Shamrock and Kimbo Slice. My dad and Stephen had Kimbo, while Josh and I picked Shamrock.  They won as Ken was knocked out in the first round just over two minutes into the fight.  While Ken put up a good fight, the stone hands of Kimbo were just too heavy for him. Juliet picked me up a little later, and when we got home, she went to bed and I decided to stay up and pop in a DVD of The Toxic Avenger Part II and have a Troma good time as I drifted into slumber.  I was a little bummed we missed the first day of Monster Bash but was really looking forward to the next day’s trip and the official start of my vacation! Plus spending time with my Dad as well as Josh and Stephen was a really good time and helped wash away the missing the convention’s first day blues.

Frickers LogoBellator-138-posterToxic Avenger Part II dvd

So bright and early on Saturday June 21st 2015 Juliet and I hit the road to start our trip to Monsterbash.  The sky was grey and lots of rain fell from the sky as we made a quick stop to Ghostlight Coffee before setting out on this epic fun trip.  My drink of choice was an Italian soda as I felt the need to have a rush of sugar as we left very early in the morning. The first thing we listened to was the first chapter of an audio book called “Marvel Comics The Untold Story” written by Sean Howe and read by Stephen Hoye.  This was fantastic as Juliet and I enjoyed the look at the early days of Marvel and how Stan Lee got his job with the company and rose to power. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but old school comic fans should check this out as it’s very enjoyable and shows just how much of a goofball Lee is! We then listened to The Art of Wrestling with Colt Cabana as he spoke with one of the best big men in the business Vader! While I wished Vader would have spoken more about his time with WWE and WCW, it was still nice to hear him talk about his career in Japan. After Art of Wrestling we listened to the second chapter of Marvel Comics The Untold Story, and Juliet and I had a fun time talking about the stories we heard about comic legends like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and Wally Wood. We ate lunch at Max & Ermas and talked about comics and what this trip has in store for us. That’s one fun thing I really enjoy, talking comics with Juliet as I think her love for the funny books burns as bright as mine. The drive up was smooth minus the rain and the countryside of hills, cows and horses is pleasing on the eyes and makes me miss growing up in a small town. But let’s get to the Bash and all the wonders the first day of this convention had in store for us.

ghostlight-coffeeMarvel Comics Untold Story LogoArt of Wrestling 2

On the first day of Monster Bash I was hyped to relax with classic monsters and to see what statues they had set up this year as I figured the theme would have to have a Mummy. I was right as they had one that looked like Lon Chaney’s Kharis character and it was fantastic.  They also had one of a female ghost, Forest J. Ackerman as the Frankenstein Monster, Boris Karloff from the film The Raven and the show stealer was the Christopher Lee Dracula, a touching tribute to the late actor. These statues rank among the highlights of the con for me as I always look forward to what they will be from year to year. While walking around, we saw lots of friendly faces and many of the guests like Tom Savini and Chilly Billy seemed in great moods as they spoke to fans. I got so hyped when we found The Blob as it was open and on display and they were allowing people to take pictures of it! I was second in line and after the guy in front of me who took forever to take his picture, I was able to set up my shot and take a picture of one of the worlds greatest monsters from outer space! We shopped and had a good time just looking at all the cool things that vendors had for sale.  One thing I really wanted was an action figure of Paul Naschy as the werewolf Waldemar Daninsky, but the $100.00 price tag scared me away from it.  I saw horror hosts Mr. Lobo and Gruesome Graves wandering around, and while I wanted to chat with them, they both were busy and I didn’t want to be that guy who interrupts a conversation. I had a great time walking around for a while, and once we were done for they day Juliet and I headed back to the hotel to relax and plan dinner and the next days’ plans.

Monster Bash MummyMonster Bash LeeMonster Bash The RavenThe Blob (Real)

This first night’s dinner had to come from the great Eat’N Park as I truly think whenever Juliet and I are in this area, we have to have this cool diner’s food. This night I felt like an old man as I ordered the liver and onions with mashed potatoes and gravy as well as garden rice.  For some reason I get cravings for liver…maybe I have an iron deficiency or maybe I was just getting into the mood of zombies, I mean I am in Pittsburgh. My meal came with a roll that was almost like a sticky cinnamon bun and a sugar cookie that still reminds me of the old Monster Candy sticks. Juliet had a buffalo chicken wrap and a chocolate pretzel cookie, and as always we enjoyed the food and had a good time hanging out and chatting. Yeah, I know lots of you are sick of friends posting pictures of food on their Facebook, Blog or Instagram so I will say sorry ahead of time as this blog will have a few of these sections.

Day 1 Food 2015

So I am sure your wondering what the first day goodies had in store for me.  Well, it was a pretty good shopping day as I was able to find some cool stuff from VHS to comics! I got a VHS of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 hosting the film I Accuse My Parents for $5.00 as well as a MST3K Magnet for $3.25 that showcases Joel and the bots! I got The Tomb Of Dracula issues 39, 51, 52, 56 as well as the My Name Is Bruce one shot comic all for $10.00! I also picked up a comic based on the cheesy kids’ horror film The Willies for $5.00 as well as a comic based on the Van Damme film Cyborg for only a $1.00, both comics I never even knew they existed.  Look for both of these on a future Rotten Ink update! I also found the Mondo Macabro DVD of Mystics In Bali for $10.00, as well as DVDs for $10.00 each of Horror Hostess Vampira on the George Cobel Show from 1955, Elvira Mistress of the Dark hosting MTV and Weird Al hosting the 1984 ABC Saturday Morning Preview Pack. I got a DVD of the Son of Ghoul hosting Dick Tracy for $20.00 and the Marvel Comic of Man-Thing # 5 for $7.00! All the stuff for the first day was pretty cool but I think I am most hyped for The Willies comic as I look forward to reading it and sharing my thoughts here on Rotten Ink!

Day One Goods

Sunday June 22nd 2015 was our second and last day of Monster Bash, and we began our morning eating a hearty breakfast from Einstein Bros.  As I ate my sausage, egg and cheese sandwich I popped in the DVD of Son of Ghoul hosting Dick Tracy and had a few chuckles.  As I finished up my meal, we headed down to the convention! Today they had a specialty car out front, a weird Ghostbusters car that looked nothing like the Ecto-One but at least the people who made the car were getting into the spirit of fun monsters as they wore the busting suits and had big smiles on their faces. This morning was a little slow but made it so much easier to look at all the vendor tables and go shopping. As we walked around we saw no budget filmmaker David “The Rock” Nelson filming himself holding his giant toy rubber ant he calls The Devil Ant attacking The Blob.  This put a huge smile on both my and Juliet’s face as this was the first time she got to see the man work the crowd. I was going to buy some more shows from The Son of Ghoul but sadly he was not at his table. I looked around for Gruesome Graves but could not find him, but shopping was a lot of fun and just the vibe of this convention is so good as fans talk to each other and almost everyone seems happy! I will say that the rooms this year were a little hot, and I am sure both celebrities and vendors felt at times like they were being steamed like vegetables as it was muggy. After shopping for about two hours, we headed back to the room for a bit to relax and chat about what the rest of the day would hold, as well as watched some TV. We traveled back to Monster Bash for a while and then decided to hit to road and see what was around our location. I must say I really love Monster Bash, and this is one of my favorite conventions to go to every year and I look forward to coming back next year! This year the vendors seemed to be very heavy on DVD, Blu-Ray and posters, and while some places had comics and toys they were not as all stocked, really bummer was the lack of old horror host shows as I was really looking forward to finding old shows of Morgus, Chilly Billy and Sammy Terry but didn’t even find a one, but here is hoping I will next year.

Wolfman BannerFrankenForestThe Frankenstein Monster 2015Monster Bash Poster

The last day of the convention I found a few good treasures as I loaded up on comics and DVDs! On this day I was able to find many Marvel Comics I needed for my collection that included Incredible Hulk # 205 for $5.00, Son of Satan # 6 for $4.00, Master of Kung Fu # 46 for $3.00 and Frankenstein Monster # 17 for only $2.00! I also got a full set of Ultraman comics for $5.00.  This is one set that should be a fun read and make for a great update sometime in the future. I got the low budget film Tales Of Dracula for $10.00 and this one peaked my interests as it has not only has Count Dracula in it but also a werewolf and Frankenstein’s Monster and it’s said to be a tribute of the Universal Horror Pictures. I also found the Paul Naschy flick Werewolf in The Amazon for $15.00, I can never pass on a Naschy film I have not seen! I then also picked up two DVD’s of Horror Host Mr. Lobo and his show Cinema Insomnia; one was his Haunted House Special and for the other he hosted the cheesy classic The Atomic Brain and they were $15.00 each. The one from this batch I am most hyped for is watching Mr.Lobo host Atomic Brain as I am sure it will be a fun late night watch.

Day two goodsFor lunch, Juliet and I drove around for a little while and found the locations of some areas that we want to visit in the coming days. We decided to eat lunch at Moe’s once again, and I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy this burrito place and how I miss it being around the Dayton area.  While Hothead is good, I still would rather eat Moe’s. I had a steak burrito, and it was fantastic as the steak was cooked to perfection and it had an amazing flavor and the chips and queso added to the very good meal. One thing me and Juliet noticed and laughed about is that every woman in there and working was attractive and lovely in their own way, must be in the water we teased. We then went to Target to get bottled water and some snacks and found that the target was even amazing and had a big selection of music, movies and books and every person we came across seemed happy and friendly, making me really love this town! We came back to the hotel and I worked on this update as Juliet played iPad games and read her book.  All the while we had Bar Rescue on the TV for background noise. I also read The Incredible Hulk # 205 and found it to be a very great issue. We decided that tonight we were going to watch a movie and eat some local chicken wings, but we will get to that later.

Moes Sign 2Moes FoodIncredible hulk 205

We decided that we wanted to have wings for dinner, and we picked a place called Wing Kings, a local restaurant to order from.  We tried to order the food at 7:30 and the phone was busy for several minutes as we tried to call in our order.  So Juliet decided at 8pm to just drive to it and order, and she found out the place was closed, and oddly enough it seemed they closed way early as they were suppose to be open till 9pm.  For a place voted Best Wings in the Cranberry Journal, this was not a good first impression for us! So we decided on Buffalo Wild Wings instead as they were open and were happy to take our order and money. The food was good, and after eating the relaxing was re-refreshing and helped charge my brain battery that was running low. I also felt the creative bug back inside my soul and many ideas for Baron Von Porkchop episodes as well as comic book issues filled my mind. Over all this second day was a fun one and being around Juliet is always a blast, the only major strike out was Wing Kings failing to rule the last day of Monster Bash.

Buffalo Wild Wings logo

Monday June 23rd 2015 we started our day off going to the Cranberry Cinema, a locally owned theater to see Jurassic World, and when walking into this theater I was amazed and fell in love with it just by entering the lobby.  When we ordered our tickets from the friendly staff and ordered our drinks, they gave us two free small popcorns..yeah what theater in Dayton offers that? When entering the theater they had classic red seats and the atmosphere was top notch and was super clean, and it shows the owners and employees care about this place. The other cool part of the theater is that it had multiple screens and the hallways were filled with upcoming posters for movies as well as cardboard cutouts. Over all this could be my favorite independent movie theater chain as it was an amazing experience that Juliet and I both enjoyed, and next year we will definitely be back to see a movie. Our next stop was New Dimension Comics, a very cool comic shop that is right down the street from our hotel, and just like Cranberry Cinema this comic shop impressed me big time. As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by both friendly workers. I noticed many long boxes of old comics for $3.00 each, and I was in Rotten Ink Heaven as I flipped through many comics and finding gems from Marvel, Dell and Gold Key, it was like a overload of superheroes. After buying tons of issues I started to get light headed and we ate something small at Burger King and went back to the Hotel so that I could take a nap. But man I am very impressed with Cranberry Cinema and New Dimension Comics as both of them helped add a layer of greatness to this vacation this year.

Cranberry CinemaNew Dimension Comics  lootNew Dimension Comics

On Tuesday June 24th 2015 we started our day by eating another breakfast from Einstein Bros.  This time I tried the bacon, egg and cheese sandwich, and then we decided it was time to visit the Evans City Cemetery as the weather outside was cloudy and rain was on its way as it was near 80 degrees.  When we got to the cemetery we were the only people there as we pulled to the very back and got out to walk around. The sky was grey with thunder echoing off from the distance as sounds of birds, frogs and insects filled the air that smelled like fresh rain. As I walked around I kept thinking about how George Romero and his crew made horror film history in the very spots I was walking around. I thought about Bill Hinzman as the Cemetery Zombie shuffling around trying to capture Judieth O’Deh, and this was inspiring to a one time no budget filmmaker like myself to know that if your heart is into your project you can make some fine horror art. The walk around was super pleasant and the view from the cemetery of trees and farmland was stunning and really made you feel that if indeed the undead would rise it would take you some time to get to shelter. After walking for some time we drove up to the old chapel and peeked inside to see a bare floor with some rotten spots. As we left, I felt like Evans City Cemetery is a place that I would love to be laid to rest in and that any aspiring horror filmmaker should visit this location and just walk around for awhile and allow the peaceful atmosphere inspire you. After we left we stopped back by New Dimension Comics, and I picked up a few more $3.00 Marvel horror comic issues, and we stopped to eat at Moe’s once more.  During this time there was also a major thunderstorm with flash floods, downpours and lots of lightning so we headed back to the hotel for a bit.

Evans City Cemetery Old SignEvans City Cemetery Graves 2015Evans City Cemetery The View

Later in the day Juliet and I traveled to Portersville to a place called The Snowman, a shaved ice parlor that is a giant fiberglass snowman! We learned about this place thanks to Cranberry Cinema as a commercial for it aired during First Look, and we both knew we had to check it out as the said they had a milkshake called The Yeti. The place was about 22 minutes away from our hotel and upon arriving at this roadside attraction it was really cool to find that The Snow Man was in the middle of a farm and surrounded by land with three horses behind fences eating.  The place was not super packed but a mother and her kids seemed to be enjoying the treats, and the weather that was now in the lower 80’s and sunny. Juliet ordered some shaved ice in the flavor of yellow cake batter, and I got a Yeti Shake that was blue raspberry shaved ice mixed with vanilla ice cream with whip cream and must say it was a very tasty shake. The place was fun to just sit at one of the tables watching the horses and soaking up the farmland around you. Juliet, before we left, went and got t-shirts of the Yeti character, and we both left that place very happy and will go back again when we come to town. On the drive back we found an NPR station with the same frequency 91.3 as WYSO that was called WYEP that sparked fun talk of radio and music in general. As we headed back to the hotel we decided that tonight we would have a movie night in the room and give Wing Kings one last chance not to be closed and be a no show for this year’s vacation. Below are some pics of The Snow Man and all that is in its flurry embrace.

The Show ManThe Horses of The Snow ManYeti Milkshake

So that night we selected Werewolf In The Amazon as we are both fans of the work of Paul Naschy and Wing Kings was open and we placed an order.  Juliet got Garlic Parmesan wings and I got just Garlic wings, and we shared some gravy fries. The food was pretty good; the wings had a nice garlic butter taste mixed with a crisp tasting wing, the fries were good but I was not a fan of the gravy. Over all they were a good wing place that had some tasty food for a night of watching a horror flick on our laptop. The film Werewolf in the Amazon on the other hand was pretty cheesy and bad, and it was clear it was made at the tail end of Naschy’s career and whoever made it had a good idea but could not put it together to make sense. The film takes place in the Amazon and follows a group of friends who take a trip into the jungle.  There is also a werewolf, Amazon warriors and Dr. Moreau…yes, that Moreau, and in the end it’s no real shock as to who the werewolf is and who survives the night of terror. This film was really lame, and it’s only highlights were Paul Naschy playing Dr. Moreau and the women who are easy on the eyes. The print of the movie was terrible and looked as if it was downloaded off the internet back in the mid 90’s and the source was a VHS tape that sat in a car for a week during the summer. After the film we watched WWE Tough Enough on USA Network and planned out next day of vacation.

Werewolf In The AmazonWing Kings Logowings and a movie

On Wednesday June 25th 2015 we started our morning by putting on the TV, and as we got ready on HBO 2 Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong was on. I felt it was a fitting end for our stay at this hotel as this extra long weekend was all about Monster Bash and that giant gorilla was a perfect send off. We then decided to go to the heart of Mars so that Juliet could get a cup of coffee from Mars Brew House, and when entering the coffee house I was impressed on how welcoming it was with its tables and chairs as well as a living room area with artwork on the walls. The man working the counter was really nice and gave me a small sample of a frozen coffee that was really tasty! We walked around the small town as she sipped on her cup of joe and we chatted about how cool this small town was, as well as checked out the new aliens in some of the business’ windows.  We had two hours to fill before one of our top attractions of this years trip opened so we decided to go back to Evans City Cemetery for a while.  We listened to more chapters of Marvel Comics The Untold Story and then headed to TCBY Yogurt and enjoyed a frozen treat. I had cookies and cream yogurt with whip cream, sprinkles and hot fudge, it was really good.  Then we headed to downtown Evans City for what I would say is the main event of this vacation, something that was really the cherry on this fun and amazing vacation with my # 1 girl!

Mars PA Alien SignMars Brew House PaintingWelcome To Mars

The Living Dead Museum and Gift Shop is in downtown Evans City and is a business that will catch the eye of any monster kid as the front of the store as a sign with zombie eyes in a dead stare and the windows have fake boards on them to keep out the dead. When we first planned this vacation, besides Monster Bash and the Cemetery, this was on our have to do list.  When we first tried to visit it on Monday we found out that it was closed for the day and would open up at noon on Wednesday so we knew before we left that this was our last stop before we made the long trip back to Dayton, and I can 100% say I am glad we did! We came in right as it opened and was greeted by a worker who was super friendly and as she went about her business of opening duties me and Juliet walked around the gift shop looking at t-shirts, comics, toys, cards and DVDs of all thing zombies! I was really drawn in by the T-shirts and bought myself a Return of The Living Dead shirt and got my cousin Stephen a shirt that said Pittsburgh Zombie Capital of the World and while checking out we bought two tickets to the museum, only $3.00 a ticket and I must first start off saying that it was well worth every penny and more! To enter you had to drop the ticket into a booth that housed a zombie who was your gate keeper to the world of the undead. The museum had a screening room as you walked in that was playing a documentary on the making of Night of The Living Dead as you moved deeper the area was plastered with stills, papers and information on Night as well as a statue of the Cemetery Zombie.  That was just the beginning as many more zombie films are covered as is a history of zombies in pop culture. The area also had a wall of bloody hand prints that were made and signed by actors in Romero zombie films as well as so much more statues and props used in films like Dawn of The Dead and Day of The Dead. Some of the highlight statues included the cover zombie to Fulci’s Zombi 2 and Tor Johnson as the zombie from Plan 9 From Outer Space. I don’t want to spoil too much of what treasurers or is that horrors await you when entering The Living Dead as I think if your a fan of Night Of The Living Dead you should do yourself a favor and check out this cool and amazing store and museum. After leaving this amazingly fun Museum we hit the road for home and so ended one heck of a fun time with Juliet and for this year.  I say bye to Mars and Cranberry Pennsylvania, but I know that next year I will see you again. Below is some pictures from The Living Dead with one being the cool as hell Cemetery Zombie statue. And I guess as this is Rotten Ink we really should take a look at our comic based on Night of The Living Dead and the people who made horror movie history.

The Living Dead StoreThe Living Dead ShirtThe Living Dead Cemetery Zombie

George A. Romero was born in February 4th 1940 in New York and was brought up in the Bronx.  His father was a commercial artist and this helped push him to graduate from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and start doing his own short films as well as commercials in and around the Pittburgh area including a segment for the popular kids show Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  Doing this helped inspire him to get into the horror film industry and he along with friends opened Ten Productions and in 1968 he directed and co-wrote with John A. Russo one of the most influential zombie horror film of the modern times with “Night Of The Living Dead” and this cult classic pushed Romero as a household name for horror film fans and monster kids of the 60’s. Many films followed in the early 70’s like romantic comedy “There’s Always Vanilla”, witchcraft thriller “Season Of The Witch” , bio-nightmare film “The Crazies” and vampire arthouse fright flick “Martin.” While these films did okay, his next huge hit came in 1978 with his sequel to Night of the Living Dead with the mall zombie romp “Dawn Of The Dead”. His next two films he made were the apocalyptic motorcycle knight film “Knightriders” and the anthology Stephen King team up film “Creepshow,” and then in 1985 he made the third in his zombie films and my all time favorite “Day of The Dead” that follows a group stuck underground as the world above belongs to the dead. Many more films followed including “Monkey Shines”, “Two Evil Eyes”, “Dark Half” and “Bruiser.” He also wrote films like “Tales From The Darkside: The Movie”, “Creepshow 2” and “Night of The Living Dead,” a remake directed by Tom Savani. In 2005 Romero returned to the world of zombies and wrote and directed “Land Of The Dead” and other zombie films followed like “Diary Of The Dead” and “Survival Of The Dead” and while he has slowed down he still is active and even traveling the horror convention scene. I really hope that some time soon Romero returns to the world of the undead and makes a film that has the blood, guts and raw energy of his zombie films of the past. George even in 2015 is working on a comic series called Empire Of The Dead for Marvel and here is hoping that he continues to make groundbreaking entertainment as to me he is one of the best do it yourself filmmakers of all time. This update is in honor of you George and all you have done to entertain us all.

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I can remember the first time I saw Night of the Living Dead was when I was a young kid and it was playing on local TV.  I lived in Waynesville and my brother Bryan and I were both hyped on watching as the station ran all types of promos for its showing making this monster kid more and more excited to view it.  While our parents watched TV in the living room, we plopped into their bedroom with a small bowl of popcorn and watched a film that changed my life as for the first time I had a little bit of fear run down my spine of watching a black and white shocker.  The horrors of watching as zombies ate the flesh of characters Tom and Judy who were much like every day people was shocking to me. At this point most of the horror films I had seen were aired on Commander USA’s Groovie Movies, Grandpa Munster’s Super Scary Saturday and classic Monster movies from Universal on VHS, and while people died in those movies and many of them had killers and monsters, for some reason that night those zombies did their job and made for a chilling night of TV watching. I can remember the next school day many kids who watched the TV airing of Night of The Living Dead were talking about the scary moments and the slow moving zombies.  The film has always had a special place in this monster kid’s heart! The first time I owned the film was on a VHS copy that was presented by Blockbuster Video, and later I would go on to buy it on DVD from Elite Entertainment as well as the colorized version on DVD put out by Legend Films, not to mention I have many Horror Hosts episodes of them hosting this classic zombie romp.  The film remains a staple that I must watch every year around Halloween. Night of The Living Dead is one of those films much like the Universal Monster films that is a good way to introduce youngsters to the world of Horror cause while its creepy and does have gut munching, its by no means as extreme as say showing them The Walking Dead or even some of those made for TV horror films that air on SYFY. For me, Night of the Living Dead is a must see for any true horror fan and is a film that will always have a place in my movie collection.

Ben-at-TruckNight of the Living Dead Posternightofthelivingdead

The Cemetery Zombie played by actor Bill Hinzman is one of the most iconic zombies ever on film and is clearly the grandfather of the undead zombie movie icons. The Cemetery Zombie is the first zombie seen in Night of the Living Dead and is the one to start off our undead nightmare as he is the one who chases Barbra and kills Johnny! Bill would be in many other Romero directed films like The Crazies, Knightriders and There’s Always Vanilla. Hinzman would go on to star in many other Horror Films like Legion Of The Night, Santa Claws, Evil Ambitions, The Drunken Dead Guy, Shadow: Dead Riot and River Of Darkness that he stared along side pro wrestlers Kevin Nash, Kurt Angle and Psycho Sid! Bill also directed two films; his first one was the 1988 slasher The Majorettes and then in 1988 he directed and starred as the main killer zombie in Flesheater. Not only was Hinzman an actor and director, he has also produced and written films showing that he was a man of many talents and loved the art of making movies. I had met Bill Hinzman many times during my convention traveling days and he was a staple at Cinema Wasteland.  But during Scary Camp, the Dayton Horror Convention put on by A. Ghastlee Ghoul, is when I really got to chat and work with Hinzman who acted in a TV show that my brother was working on called Josh vs. that would have had my close friend Josh Weinberg going up against celebrities in goofy events like 20 yard dashes and paper, rock, scissors and Bill Hinzman in complete Cemetery Zombie makeup gave his prediction on who was going to win between Josh and Sid Haig in a staring contest! I was asked to not only get him on board but also was the one to film and direct him and for sure it was one of the highlights of that weekend. Sadly Bill Hinzman passed away in 2012 at the age of 75 from cancer. I just wanted to take my time here and show respect to Mr. Bill Hinzman who was a great person and gave so much to the world of horror.  He is truly missed.

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So now that we have talked a little about the film and the people who made it, I think it’s time that we travel to Evans City Cemetery and once more read some Night of The Living Dead comics made by FantaCo this time it will be the film adaptation. So make sure to beat them and burn them as we once more take a look at the living dead in the cemetery that is holy ground for horror film freaks like myself as we spend an evening with the living dead. I want to thank Lone Star Comics as well as Amazon and Ebay for having this comic series in stock and as Johnny says “The Comics Are Coming To Get You Matty” ….wait he didn’t say that.  Let’s just get to the comics.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 1

Night Of The Living Dead # 1 ***1/2
Released in 1991     Cover Price $4.95     FantaCo    #1 of 4

Barbra and her brother Johnny are heading out to a grave of their father for their mom at a cemetery out in the middle of nowhere.  This seems to get on Johnny’s nerves, but his sister who is spooked by the cemetery does it out of respect for her mom. As Johnny starts to tease Barbra about being scared he starts to claim that they dead are coming to get her and to her shock she is attacked by a walking corpse who kills Johnny who tries to come to the aid of his sister as he falls and cracks his head open on a tombstone. Barbra runs for her life as the Cemetery Zombie follows looking to eat this young woman.  She finds shelter in an old farm house, and as she hides she also meets Ben who has also came to the farmhouse in a old truck that’s low on gas and the barn has a locked gas pump. Ben fights off zombies who are trying to enter the house via open doors as Barbra slowly slips into madness and is overcome by fear. As the issue ends, Ben looks outside and sees a horde of zombies heading toward the house looking for flesh to eat.

This is a good solid movie adaptation of Night of The Living Dead that captures the vibe and feel of the film in this first issue and has a very dark brooding mood being set into place as the zombies seem twisted and the main color used in the comic is black. The story so far is that Barbra goes to a small cemetery where she watches her brother get killed by a zombie.  She runs to a nearby farm where she finds the bodies of the homes owners who have been eaten and runs into Ben, a man who arrives in a truck who attacks the zombies and the two strangers in the end must find a way to survive as the zombies are now all around the farm house. Barbra who is timid from the start gets even worse.  As the threat gets larger, she becomes hysterical it’s clear fear has taken her away from reality. Johnny is a smart ass who gets joy in teasing his sister as well as just being a negative person, but when his sister is in danger he snaps into being a hero and dies trying to save her life. Ben at this point is a man with a plan and that’s get the gas pump unlocked and his truck filled with fuel and he is going to try and get Barbra and himself to a safe place and figure out what is going on.  He also has no fear as he attacks many zombies with a tire iron and bashes in many undead skulls. The Cemetery Zombie is one hungry and motivated flesh eater who uses rocks to break a car window and gives chase like a slow animal stocking its prey. The rest of the zombies are used to get their brains smashed but as more come they become more and more dangerous and the numbers are in their favor. The creepy and helpless vibe so far in the comic is what made the film a classic one, and the art done by Carlos Kastro is well done for this style of book. So far the comic has only made small changes from the film as the comic opens with a zombie eating a bug and watching Barbra and Johnny driving into the cemetery, and I should note the comic is in black and white and this far while violence is happening it not a blood bath like most modern zombie comics. Reading this near the site of opening scene made this even more special and is helping add to my vacation, looking forward to reading part two.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 2

Night Of The Living Dead # 2 ***
Released in 1992    Cover Price $4.95    FantaCo    #2 of 4

Ben sets a fire outside the door, and the zombies seem afraid of it.  He rushes back inside and starts to board up the windows and has to be stern with Barbra to get her to help him look for supplies like wood and nails. Ben, as they get one room safe, tells her about how he got the truck and in a flashback a diner he was at is attacked by the living dead and how he took the truck to get away as he watched the zombies attack and kill people all around him. Barbra comes back to reality and talks about the graveyard visit and how she was attacked by The Cemetery Zombie and how she thinks Johnny might still be alive.  She gets frantic and smacks Ben who tries to stop her from opening the front door and he in turn smacks her and knocks her out. Ben places her on a couch and sets another fire out front to scare away the approaching zombies and starts to snoop around and turns on the radio to hear the news broadcasts that are reporting mass homicides around the state as well as the fact the killers are eating parts of the victims.  During his snooping he finds shoes for Barbra as well as a gun and bullets. As Barbra comes to Ben puts the shoes on her and heads upstairs to get ride of the bodies of the owners of the house who had been attacked and killed, but finds that one has be reanimated and attacks him! Ben bashes its skull in as Barbra lets out a scream downstairs as people have come out of the cellar!

This second issue is the major set up to the story as many pages are about the radio broadcast that tells the story of mass killings, people being eaten and the world not sure of what or who is to blame. The plot is that Ben and Barbra share how they ended up at the farmhouse with Barbra slipping even deeper into madness, Ben figures out the zombies hate fires and uses it to keep them at bay as he finds supplies. When Ben is attacked and kills a zombie, people from the cellar appear and our issue takes the next step. Ben, who’s back story is a little more flushed out, is a hitchhiker who stopped at a little greasy spoon dinner for a meal and reacts when we watches the place catch fire and people start to be killed. He is a very much take charge kind of person as from the start he calls the shots to Barbra and has plans to board up windows and doors to make their new base safe. Barbra is a mass of nerves and not much else her mental breakdown is in full swing and she is more like a scared baby rabbit than a human being. The zombies are becoming a horde of killers all around the farmhouse, and while they might be slow moving, their numbers make them a major threat to any living person. This issue is very downbeat as both our survivors at this point have seen death and things that are driving them close to madness.  This is a great issue to set the mood for the rest of this adaptation series. The major changes in this issue show Ben’s backstory of the attack at the greasy spoon and also has Ben being attacked by the zombie of the house owner up stairs. The artwork is done by Carlos Kastro again and while I really do like the style I should also point out that the quality does change and sometimes the characters look a little deformed and their features don’t let them look like the actors who are playing them. But like the first issue I enjoyed this one and look forward to issue three.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 3

Night Of The Living Dead # 3 ***
Released in 1992    Cover Price $5.95    FantaCo    #3 of 4

Ben meets Harry Cooper and Tom who have been hiding in the the cellar along with Tom’s girlfriend Judy and Harry’s wife Helen and his injured young daughter Karen.  Ben gets a little annoyed that they did not come up earlier and help him secure the house, and worse Cooper and he are going at it to what is the safest place for them to hide as Harry thinks they should all go to the cellar and Ben thinks they should protect the ground floor of the house. When Ben is attacked by a window that a zombie is able to bust through the boards, it’s Tom that comes to his aid as Harry watches and finally goes to the cellar after Judy comes up to help them board up the windows better. When he goes back down Harry and Helen fight over them staying in the cellar and not being near a radio to hear the updates of what to do and when help is on it’s way.  They decide to go up and help. While upstairs they find a TV and hear a news report for help stations as well as that the dead are coming back and eating the living and they think that it’s all connected to a satellite that was shot down when it was coming back to Earth as it was covered with radiation. Ben comes up with a plan to get to the gas pump, and he and Tom get to the truck with the help of a torch as Harry throws Molotov cocktails from the upstairs window.  As they get to the truck Judy decides that she wants to help as well and jumps into the truck! When they get to the pump an accident happens as the gas and the torch meet and set the truck on fire, in fear Tom and Judy drive the truck away in flames and it blows up killing them both.

The flesh is hitting the fan as Ben and Harry are butting heads and both are on power trips on who is going to be in charge and what and where and who and so on and this is the plot of this issue. Both Ben and Harry are acting like spoiled kids as they both can’t work together cause they would have to take orders from the other. The death of Tom and Judy is sad and really brings an emotional touch to the already high dooming mood. Ben and Barbra are pretty much acting the same as they have for the past two issues, and Ben seems to have taken on the role of protector of Barbra as he clearly understands she is not in her right mind. Tom and Judy are sweet silly country youngsters who seem to want to stop the in house fighting, and while they could take charge as the house is owned by Tom’s family he still would rather stick together and get the house safe for everyone. Harry Cooper is a pure hotheaded butthole who is clearly un-happy with his life and takes it out not only on his wife but anyone who is around him. Helen is just a normal housewife who loves her daughter but can’t stand her husband who bullies her and treats her like dirt. The tension between the characters are adding more danger to the already zombie threat that is surrounding them. And by this point in the story you the reader should be catching on that the story is not so much about the zombies but that of the humans who are all so different and how they must act together to survive the situation. The artwork is done by Carlos Kastro again and is enjoyable and captures the gloom very well again and the zombies look soulless like the way they should. Next up is the final issue, and let’s see how this one ends and if it has any changes from the film to comic.

Night of the Living Dead Comic 4

Night Of The Living Dead # 4 ***
Released in 1992     Cover Price $5.95    FantaCo    #4 of 4

After the truck explodes Ben is left outside with his torch and as he makes his way from the gas pump to the farmhouse, Harry will not open the door leaving him a sitting duck for the zombies who are approaching.  Finally Ben kicks open the door, and he also beats up Harry as he almost got him killed. The zombies outside turn their attention to the burned bodies of Tom and Judy and start to rip them apart and eat the pieces. Ben tries to figure out away to get to a new car but Harry’s is turned over a mile away and Barbra’s is in the cemetery with no keys as Johnny had them on him. After things cool down, the survivors listen to a news broadcast that says the local authorities are out shooting and burning the undead.  When the power goes out chaos breaks loose as the zombies start to push their way in, and Harry instead of helping grabs the gun and shoots Ben, who in turn gets the gun back and shoots Harry who stumbles into the cellar. The zombies attack Barbra, Ben and Helen, and they try to fight back the best they can. Helen is able to escape down to the cellar but finds that her daughter Karen is now a zombie and is eating her father’s guts and then turns and kills Helen with a spade. Barbra is taken by a horde of zombies as she freezes when her brother Johnny is one of the undead. Ben escapes to the cellar and pushes zombie Karen out the door and bolts himself in and hides. The morning comes and so does the rescue party who by accident shoots and kills Ben as he is about to come outside to get help. In the end Ben’s body is thrown into a fire that is roasting the living dead.

This fourth issue is a lot of fun and is chaotic, filled with panic, scares and raw emotion. The plot of this issue is the breakdown of the survivors as Ben and Harry just can’t get along and both want to be in charge and both want the power of having the only gun in the household, and when they stop working together they leave themselves open to an all out attack from the zombies who work as one large flesh eating team all in sync and all ready to consume their prizes. Ben, by the end of this adaptation is a very proud man, who tried to come up with ideas to save the group and himself but sadly his idea fails and gets two people killed. The good thing about Ben is that he is not a selfish person as all his ideas are for the best of the group. It’s really cool to watch Ben adapt to the situation and become more and more of the story’s hero as its goes along. Barbra never does snap back to reality and almost becomes childlike all the way up to her death at the hands of the zombies, but even she snaps to it when the undead are trying to break in and does her best to try and keep them out. With Barbra it’s sad to see her slowly slip deeper and deeper into madness as fear takes over her very soul. Harry Cooper is the opposite of Ben and is a bullheaded loud mouth who has his own butt in mind most of the time, but to be fair he also really cares about his sick daughter. Harry is so consumed with people listening to him and his ideas that he risks the life of Ben to try and get that power.  He is also a chicken as when the threat is turned up he runs and causes more issues when he shoots Ben and gets himself killed in the process. Helen Cooper is your typical unhappy housewife who only stays with her husband for the sake of their child who she loves with all her heart. Karen who is sick by a bite from a zombie is turned into a flesh eater and kills both of her feuding parents. The zombies in this series start out as slow moving terrors who are easily over powered by the living and by the end are in a frenzy and want to eat some human meat and use their numbers to force their way into the farm house. The thing that sticks out both in this comic adaptation and the film is that while he is the most scummy character Harry Cooper’s idea of them hiding in the cellar was the best idea as zombies are unable to get in at the end. This is a great adaptation, and Fantaco did a fantastic job of keeping the story of Night Of The Living Dead going in the 1990’s. Carlos Kastro did the artwork again and while it’s good I did find this issues art to be a little scattered and almost rushed looking, but even with that said the artwork for this whole series is creepy and holds the vibe of the film. In closing if you’re a fan of the film and enjoy reading a good horror comic then check this one out for sure, check out the artwork below of some of the zombies from this series.

Night of the living dead adaptation art 1

This yea’rs vacation was a lot of fun and was packed with many great places and moments and showed me that taking time away from the stresses of the world and relaxing is something that I need to recharge the battery that is my brain. While I am sad to be done with my vacation, in a matter of a day when this is posted as I will miss the hotel room and the wonderful towns all around it I also must say that it’s good to be home with my cats Leslie and Streets J and as well as planing a film shoot with Baron Von Porkchop. Evans City is truly the home of zombies but our next update is about a icon of Cincinnati, Ohio and will focus on baseball player Pete Rose! So stop using that ball bat to crush zombie skulls and lets head to the ball field and play some ball. Until then enjoy life, read a comic or three, support your local Horror Host and watch out for the living dead.

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