The Rotten Ink From The Mummy’s Tomb

The wind is blowing sand all around the great pyramids of Egypt and the air is hot and dry.  For this update to Rotten Ink we will be heading to the world of the unknown to take a look at the Universal Monster The Mummy in honor of the new film in theaters starring Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella.  The Mummy that is rebooting the series for Universal and will kick off the new Dark Universe! The Mummy is one of those monster characters that is overlooked by many classic monster lovers as he is always overshadowed by Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and The Wolf Man, and my girlfriend Juliet has always wondered when The Mummy will get its time to shine and be the next “it” monster like zombies have been for so long now…and she is right, it is time for The Mummy to be in the bloody spotlight and claim his throne at being a major draw at the cinema and home media market again! During this update I will cover not only the 1932 film and its sequels but also The Mummy in pop culture and merchandise and everything I can in between! I have decided that I will not cover the 1999 Mummy reboot by Universal as I feel those are not connected to the old films in any way and are just goofy and fun adventure films. So get your wrapping ready, walk like a Egyptian and let’s take a look at The Mummy…yeah, I just made a Bangles song reference.

In 1931 Universal had major hits with Dracula and Frankenstein, and they were itching to have another Horror mega hit the following year.  So they once more started to look at horror novels for inspiration, and producer Carl Laemmie Jr. was inspired by the legends of the Curse Of The Pharaohs and hired Richard Schayer to find this novel and make him a Egyptian Mummy film. After looking and reading many classic novels none was found so they decided to come up with their own original story, but many have noticed that the story by John L. Balderston for The Mummy has many resemblances to the story “The Ring Of Thoth” written by Arthur Conan Doyle and no credit was given. After taking elements from a nine-page treatment called “Cagliostro” screen writer John L. Balderston was hired to pen the movie now being called “The Mummy”. The script took elements from multiple sources planned for his movie and Balderston added his own touches and made changes. Once written, they brought in director Karl Freund, who was the cinematographer on Dracula and who was making is American directorial debut with this film. Casting was also set as Boris Karloff, Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan and others were brought in for their respected parts and make up master Jack Pierce was brought in to design and create the look of The Mummy. The filming was your typical Hollywood horror production with Karloff having the most trying time of having to sit for hours in the make-up chair to be done up as The Mummy. The Mummy was a box office hit when released and has become one of the respected and well loved Universal Monster films of its golden age, and to this day Universal itself has lots of love for The Mummy and its legacy. I also want to note that this film, much like Dracula, uses Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky as its main theme and when released in 1932 it was joined by such other horror classics as Freaks, White Zombie, Island Of Lost Souls, The Old Dark House, Doctor X and The Mask Of Fu Manchu to name a few.

After The Mummy became a box office hit for Universal, they decided that a sequel was needed, and with it they did away with The Mummy Imhotep and introduced a new Mummy named Kharis in the film “The Mummy’s Hand” that was released in 1940 and had actor Tom Tyler as Kharis.  This film would spawn three sequels based on his terrifying killing ways. The next film in the series was released in 1942 called “The Mummy’s Tomb” and had Lon Chaney Jr. as Kharis who would go on to play the character in the remaining two films in the series. 1944 saw the release of “The Mummy’s Ghost” and “The Mummy’s Curse” and with that came an end to the mainline classic movies based on this popular Universal Monster. That is, unless you count “Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy” from 1955 as well as “The Mummy” reboot that started in 1999 that spawned two official sequels “The Mummy Returns” and “The Mummy: Tomb Of The Dragon Emperor” as well as a spin off series “The Scorpion King” as well as an animated series. Just this year, in 2017, Universal rebooted “The Mummy” again as part of their Dark Universe film series and had the stunning Sofia Boutella as The Mummy Princess Ahmanet. But I will not spend too much time on these sequels as we are here to chat about Imhotep and not the other Mummies of these films, but I did want to make you all aware of them. Check out the super cool VHS covers of the sequels released by Universal below.

When my brother Bryan and I were young, our Dad was really into watching old classic comedy teams like the Three Stooges, Laurel & Hardy and of course Abbott & Costello, all of whom had some amazing bits of classic comedy. One of my all time favorite films of the latter has to be Abbott And Costello Meet The Mummy as for some reason I could never get enough of the film.  I would watch it every time it was on TV and would rent it from the library and of course would buy it on VHS and DVD. The film was released in 1955 and was the last of the comedy team meeting a monster and the final original feature film they would make for Universal. The film is about a pair of Americans who were stranded in Egypt and find their ticket home when they find a Doctor who is searching the tomb of Princess Ara who is said to be protected by the Mummy Klaris! Throw in some thieves who want to steal the treasures, as well as Klaris coming alive and you have this silly goofy horror comedy. The Mummy Klaris in this film was played by Eddie Parker who was a stand in for Lon Chaney Jr. in previous Universal Mummy films and was a stuntman and bit part actor for Hollywood.  He mostly starred in westerns and horror pictures. Parker sadly died in 1960 of a heart attack but while not a household name, he left his mark in cinema. This film is lots of fun and has some good laughs as Abbott and Costello just meshed so well with Monsters as they played really well off the their scary nature and added the right about of humor to lighten up the moments of spooky horror. If you have not seen this film and enjoy classic horror, classic comedy and good family friendly entertainment make sure to check this film out as you can watch it on VHS, DVD, Blu-Ray or even streaming it or even better yet catch it on TV when Horror Hosts like Svengoolie host it!

I think its time we took a quick look at the man who made Imhotep come alive on the silver screen, Boris Karloff.  William Henry Pratt was born on November 23, 1887 in Camberwell, London and was the youngest of nine children. When young, he had bowed legs, a lisp and stuttered and had to work hard to beat the stutter but always had the lisp. He made his way through school and even attended King’s College London as he wanted to get a career in British Government’s Consular Service, but later decided to leave England and take farm labor jobs in Canada. And while working these jobs, he also found a love for acting in stage plays and this is also when he took the name “Boris Karloff” as he found the name to be exotic. When coming to America he would go on to star in minor parts in many silent films like The Lightning Raider (1919), The Last Of The Mohicans (1920) and Parisian Nights (1925) among many, many others. His big break came in 1931 when he played Frankenstein’s Monster in the Universal film Frankenstein and this film started him as being one of the biggest horror actors of the time. From their he did a score of amazing Horror Films like The Dark House (1932), The Mask Of Fu Manchu (1932), The Mummy (1932), The Ghoul (1933), The Black Cat (1934), Bride of Frankenstein (1935), Son Of Frankenstein (1939) and The Ape (1940) to name a select few and all the while he as well was acting in crime and thriller films as well. By the 1950s Karloff was still in demand but the budget of the films he was in were doing down as was the quality as he took roles is such films as Frankenstein 1970 (1958), The Terror (1963) and Monster Of Terror (1965) among a few gems like the Roger Corman films based on Edgar Allen Poe stories as well as the TV Specials How The Grinch Stole Christmas! and Mad Monster Party?. His last major budget film was Targets (1968) and to many this was one of his best roles in many years. Karloff’s last film was in 1971 and was called Alien Terror and was a micro budget film. While he was a major star in the cinema, he was also in demand on TV as he hosted the show Thriller and The Veil as well as made appearances on shows like Route 66 and The Wild Wild West! Karloff also lent his voice to radio and spoken word recordings, plus he even hosted spooky stories in comic books and he really was a jack of all trades when it came to the world of media. In his personal life Karloff was married five times and had one child a daughter named Sara.  He was a man with a big heart as he would dress as Santa and hand out presents at a local children’s hospital during Christmas.  He was plagued with back problems due to the labor jobs he worked and was very outspoken about hating to have the makeup applied during filming the Universal Frankenstein films. Karloff also has two stars of the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, one for his movie work and one for his TV work and is still one of the most respect Horror actors of all time. Sadly the world lost Boris Karloff in 1969 at the age of 81 from pneumonia, and due to the fact he worked in so many films many were released years after his death. This is just a quick crash course about Karloff and I really think that if you love this actor and or classic Hollywood do yourself a favor and read up on his life and career. Gone but never forgotten, this update is for you Boris!

Halloween is my favorite holiday as it’s filled with candy, spooky stories and being able to dress up as your favorite monster. Besides Ben Cooper, one of the most popular mask makers was Don Post Studios run by… who else but Don Post. The company started in 1938 making halloween masks for costume parties and Halloween and became the first company to make and sell latex masks. They also made masks based on actors like William Shatner and Tor Johnson, with Shatner being later customized and used in the 1978 film Halloween and Tor’s being a very popular and top selling mask. But Don Post also made masks based on the Universal Monsters, and you guessed it, he made one based around The Mummy! The company also made hands that would complete your costume.  Take a look at the picture below and tell me that this was not a great mask done by the legend of mask making!?

The Mummy Mystery Game was made by Hasbro in 1963 and has you as the player having to play as The Mummy and explore ancient Egypt. Sadly, I do not own this game and have only seen it once for sale at Cinema Wasteland many years back.  It’s a shame because I would love to own it and get the Dayton Board Game Society back together to give it a good play through or two. Sad thing is, it’s pretty high end to get the game complete and will cost you over $200.00, but for fans of this classic horror icon it’s worth getting for the collection.

One thing I always remember were the old ads in comic books for model kits for Universal Monsters made by a company called Aurora in the 1960’s. The model kits were said to be easy to put together and would allow you to have your favorite monster on your shelf to look at and have your friends be spooked by their nightmare appearance. I remember being a kid and thinking that these were like action figures that moved and such and both my Mom and Brother having to explain to me that models don’t move, they are to look at. I remember seeing these at a garage sale once, and I ended up buying one and it fell apart in no time as I used it to fight other toys.  What monster you ask, well when I get to them, I will tell you. These models are huge collectors items and can fetch high prices for ones that are complete and in box and are the originals.  These models were re-released and can be found still online for decent prices. The Mummy kit is pretty cool and has him walking around his crypt! The models box art is also amazing and makes you wish that who ever drew them would have made a comic book based on the Universal Monsters in that style!

In 1969 toy company Marx made solid plastic figurines of the Universal Monsters, and The Mummy was of course in the line to get that treatment. The molds were later re-issued in 1991 and put out by Uncle Milton. The original releases were mostly done in blue and orange plastics, and the reissued ones were tan or glow in the dark. The ones I remember growing up were the glow in the dark ones, and they were being sold at a local pet shop called “Jack Aquarium and Pets” as decorations for your fish tank and for the most part all, they would always have an over stock of was Hunchback and Phantom of the Opera and The Mummy always seemed to be sold out. One of my friends named David J Getz had a few of the originals over the years so I did get to see them in all their prime.  They are very simple yet cool toys. You can pick up an original for around $20.00-$25.00 on Ebay and reissued one for around $8.00-$13.00.

Toy company Remco also put out a few Mummy figures in 1980 with a 9″ action figure that had moving arms that responded to a button.  The figures also had glow in the dark heads and nylon clothes and each monster came with an iron on patch and a glow in the dark ring. That same year, they also released a 3 3/4″ figure of The Mummy that fit perfectly with your Star Wars figures! I am the proud owner of the figure thanks to it being traded into Game Swap Kettering. They also did a hand puppet of The Mummy in a line called Monsters At Home. The 9″ figure goes for about $26.00- $31.00 loose on Ebay and the 3 3/4″ one goes loose for about $30.00-$55.00. And the Puppet goes for about $50.00- $175.00 loose all of course depending on condition.

Imperial made a Mummy figure that came out in 1986 as a part of their Classic Movie Monster line. The figure was hard plastic and had moveable arms and head and faintly looked like Eddie Parker who played The Mummy in “Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy”. I remember KB Toys in the Dayton Mall stocking these, and for Christmas 86 my Mom & Dad got me both The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster.  I was super happy to have them and in fact still have them both to this day. And I was able to get The Mummy many years later at a Monster Bash Convention. The figures were cheap back then and have not aged well in the collectors market as you can easily pick up a loose figure of The Mummy on Ebay anywhere from $3.00-$15.00. This figure is well worth picking up and will forever have a place in my collection.

Many other items have been made in the image of Universal’s The Mummy through the ages from banks, action figures, t-shirts, jigglers, masks, bendies, belt buckles, rings, games, bobble heads and so much more. The Mummy’s image with the wrinkled face and bandaged body is iconic thanks to Universal and Jack Pierce who created the most known look for the character. Below are a few pictures of other cool new and vintage Mummy items that might get the attention of the monster kid inside your soul.

In 1993, Playmates struck a deal with Universal to mix the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with the Universal Monsters making for a fun toy line and a good way for kids of that time to discover the joys and horrors of the classic monsters. The Mummy was mixed with the rude dude turtle Raphael making this a funny mix up as The Mummy does not strike me as a partying pizza eater, but the figure works and for the most part is pretty cool looking. This monster turtle loose is not too expensive and you can get Mummael for about $8.00-$22.00 loose and again depending on condition.

Image walking into a gas station in 1963 to pay for your gas and being given a cool Universal Monster glass that featured many of the company’s famous monsters that included The Mummy! This was in fact a true occurrence as these promotional glasses were given out as premiums at stations. These glasses are amazing and for the time are well designed with slick spooky artwork. The Mummy’s has him standing in his crypt and has a green tent to the paint. But if you want one, it will cost you as they go for $85.00-$150.00 but is worth it if you collect this kind of stuff.

Crestwood House Monster Books are books that I use to love sitting and reading about each monster they showcased and all the classic films that featured them.  The books would also fill you in on old legends about that monster and even talk a little about the source material they were based on whether it be a urban legend or a novel. They put out a second series as well that were more like kid novels based on the movies like Bride of Frankenstein or Dracula’s Daughter. The library used to also have a huge sale where they would sell you a bag of books for so many dollars, and I was lucky enough to snatch up many of these titles when they decided they didn’t need them anymore and still have them to this day. I find myself from time to time still dusting them off and enjoying these fun books of my youth. And from the first batch of books, I got all those years ago from the library sale is one based on The Mummy! If you have young kids who are into monsters, I suggest getting them these.

1963 was the year that The Mummy Soaky was released.  What is a soaky, you ask, well they were plastic bottles in the shape of a character that’s head acted as the cap and inside the 11 oz bottle was bubble bath. The Universal Monsters line had the saying that they would spook you clean.  Imagine some terrified kid being told it was bath time and he knew that once he got into that tub he would have to come face to face with the plastic cold stare of The Mummy who he just watched on Shock Theater the night before just to get clean…this by far is one of the silliest products to bare The Mummy likeness. These bottles are semi rare and will cost you to collect.

Back in the 90’s Doritos Chips gave away Universal Monster stickers in the bags you would find at your local grocery store. And I found myself begging my mom to buy this snack food so that I would be able to collect the whole set of these stickers. So every time we would go to Ellis, a small store in downtown Waynesville, I would get a bag of these chips.  Now I should tell you, I HATE Doritos, always have and always will, and this shows you my love for Universal Monsters as I suffered through eating those nasty chips. I can remember getting The Mummy sticker for the first time, and I proudly put it away for safekeeping. No matter how hard I tried and how many bags of powdered death, I ate I never did get a full set of these stickers making all my efforts even that more sad. I still have the stickers to this day, and they are stored away at Independent B Movie studio waiting for the day that I will proudly display them in my home. Check out The Mummy sticker below and see just how cool these chip giveaways were.

The Mummy has also made it to handheld video games like the one made by Tiger has graced the hands of gamers. He has also been in pinball games at your local arcade and has been in a few PC games, and hopefully soon there will be a new game based around him for modern console systems as the 2017 movie could spark it.

But this is called Rotten Ink and is a blog mostly about comic books so we should talk about comics that are based around The Mummy that are licensed by Universal. Off the top of my head, I can only think of three, one being released by Dell in 1963 as part of their Movie Classics line called “The Mummy.”  It would also get reprinted along side Dracula. Monster Comics in 1991 also released a mini series based on The Mummy and finally Dark Horse comics had “Universal Monsters The Mummy” that was released in 1993. The Dell and Monster comics both are new stories about the Mummy while the Dark Horses release is just based one the script and is a movie adaptation. Once we cover this Dark Horse one here, we will have covered two of the three comic releases as we took a look at the Dell one a few years back. Over all these comics are worth reading if you’re a fan of this classic movie character.

Fast food hamburger joint Jack In The Box gave away figures based on the Universal Monsters and unlike Burger King, they included The Mummy into their promotion. The first batch came in 1999 and had The Mummy, who comes with his tomb that he rises from. Then in 2002 they put out a windup and pop out Mummy who once more came with his tomb, these figures are really cheap looking and kind of cheesy but still worth owning for those who love all things Universal Monsters. I don’t know much about these because there is no Jack in The Box in my area.

The Universal Mummy Series has also been a big part of Horror Hosting as the films were a part of The Shock Theater and Son of Shock movie packages that allowed local TV stations to air the films with a host. Many of the old shows are lost like Vampira, Sammy Terry, Dr. Creep and Melvin hosting these classic films, but a few have survived and some hosts have hosted them as late as 2016. But here is a host I have that brought you some films from the Universal Mummy Series that is Jeepers Creeper who hosted The Mummy’s Curse from many, many decades back.

I grew up in the age of breakfast cereal and some of the best out there were the General Mills Monster Cereals with Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry and the wonders of how the world works when they put the cereal mascots along side Universal Monsters! Let’s first break down Yummy Mummy as a character and his cereal. Fruity Yummy Mummy is monster who is wrapped with bright color bandages and is a friendly monster to kids. The cereal has a fruit flavor to it and is my third favorite out the monster cereals, and sadly it did not last in the world of breakfast cereal as it was introduced in 1987 and by 1992, it was put into the cereal crypt until 2013 for one Halloween season it was released with all the other monster cereals. Growing up I can remember eating Fruity Yummy Mummy and even still have the send away crayon of the character.

So now that we have talked about the Universal Monster The Mummy and its impact in the world of horror cinema as well as the merchandise it spawned and delighted monster kids through out the ages, I think that it’s time that we tempt fate and enter the cursed crypt of Princess Ankh-es-en-amon and try not to awaken the mummy Imhotep as we enjoy reading and reviewing the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of the 1932 classic film The Mummy! But I see some hieroglyphics written here that say “I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” So with the dust in the air and the Halloween season just months away, let’s chill our blood with some good old classic horror!

The Mummy # 1  ***
Released in 1993   Cover Price $4.95   Dark Horse   # 1 of 1

Sir Joseph Whemple has made the discovery of a lifetime when he finds the mummified body of an Egyptian priest named Imhotep who was wrapped and entombed alive as he was in love with the Princess Ankh-es-en-amon, making him die a horrible death. Dr. Muller comes to the site and tries to warn them that this mummy is bad news and not to read the scroll that of course gets read by a bumbling assistant.  This awakens Imhotep who steals the scroll and slinks off into the night but not before driving the assistant crazy with fear. Many years pass and Frank Whemple and his friend Professor Pearson are called by Ardath Bey (The Mummy Imhotep) who is living a new life and who needs them to dig and find the tomb of Princess Ankh-es-en-amon and the pair does and gives all their finds to the Cairo Museum. But Imhotep soon slips into madness as he has a plan to kill a woman named Helen Grosvenor whom he thinks is the reincarnation of his Princess lover and its up to Frank and the aged Dr. Muller to save her from a fate worse than death and that’s to be a undead bride! But when Helen really does turn out to be Princess Ankh-es-en-amon it is she who saves her own life when she prays to the goddess Isis who sets the scroll ablaze and turns Imhotep into dust.

The Dark Horse creative team did a fantastic job with this adaptation of the 1932 film as they captured the mood and setting of the Universal film perfect and yet added their own touch in the presentation. The story is about Imhotep, a priest who was mummified and buried alive for his undying love for the princess and who is resurrected many years later and spends his time in modern times living as one of us.  When he meets a woman he finds is the reborn love of his life, he tries to make her is wife eternal and it’s up to a group of scientist not to allow this to happen. This is a classic horror tale that pits good vs. evil and has love to the main goal for either side to try to win the struggle. Imhotep is a wise and sinister Mummy who has adapted to modern times in order to blend in and find his goal of being reunited with his love, the thing is he does not care who he has to hurt in order to achieve his goal. Not to mention, he is an undead being who can pass for an older man and can walk among us and turn on us at any time. While he is bad, he also has a side that makes you pity him as he truly does love the Princess. Helen Grosvenor is a woman who is a damsel as she really is the reborn Princess Ankh-es-en-amon! Frank Whemple is our hero, and he is a classic hero who is noble and is trying to stop The Mummy for all the right reasons and along with his friends does just that. This horror comic is bloodless and its scares comes from the mood and subject matter as this is what Universal Monster movies where all about. The cover for this comic is amazing and captures the look of Boris Karloff as The Mummy and the interior art is great stuff and is done by Tony Harris who also did the cover! The things that work well in this comic are the art and they did a great job of adaptation the 1932 film into a comic book! The downside is that while it’s a classic film, it is very slow moving and this as well makes this horror comic very slow moving! But even though it moves at a slow pace, I would say that if you enjoy the movie make sure to get a copy of this Dark Horse Comic. Check out the artwork below to see they style of art that Harris brings to this adaptation.

Again sorry for the delay of this update as I have moved from the trusty apartment and now have a new home base and during the move my issue of The Mummy were misplaced. It’s also crazy to think that in 2017 we had a new Mummy movie from Universal that was supposed to kick off the new shared monster universe called The Dark Universe, but only time will tell if this will really happen as the box office and critics were not kind to this re-boot. Also weird is that this was the final Dark Horse adaptation of a Universal Monster that was made as we have taken a look at Dracula, Frankenstein and Creature From The Black Lagoon.  I wonder why Dark Horse never did make issues of The Wolf Man, Invisible Man or Bride Of Frankenstein? But that is a mystery that I am sure I will never know the true answer to unless I can chat with someone from Dark Horse who knows the answers. For our next update, we are walking away from Monsters and into the world of Robots as we will chat about Robotech: Defenders, a model kit line that ended up being the name sake of a popular Japanese import cartoon series. So until next time, read a horror comic or three, watch a Universal Monster movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! I think I am going to go watch a few horror films now!

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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The Universal Dracula: Blood Drive Countdown To Halloween

I Bid You Welcome! The moon is full, and we are at our third update in our countdown to Halloween.  A thick mist is covering the ground as we all wait for the carriage of Count Dracula to take us to his castle. This is an update that I have been looking forward to since I started Rotten Ink over three years ago.  As all you long time readers know, I grew up a Monster Kid and loved everything Universal Monsters. Not only did I have such things as a Christmas themed Frankenstein Monster t-shirt and VHS tapes of many of my favorite monsters, I also spent much of my time drawing pictures of Dracula and all of his Universal pals in art class and at home. This update I get to cover one of the true icons of Universal Monsters, the one who brought the studio back from approaching closed doors after having too many films that did not perform at the box office, a character that also brought Universal into the monster movie business again and proved that horror was a hit with moviegoers. I am of course talking about the 1931 masterpiece Dracula.  For this update we will be taking a look at not just the film and it’s Spanish counterpart, but also Universal Dracula in merchandise, culture, my connection to the film and the main attraction will be the Dark Horse Comics adaptation of this classic flick.  So let’s wait here at Borgo Pass for our ride to Castle Dracula and chat about Universal Dracula in film, comics, toys and more. And to be safe, if you believe the rumors about Count Dracula, you might want to wear those cloves of garlic around your neck!

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Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula was a hit when it was released in 1897, and in 1922 filmmaker F.W. Murnau made his silent masterpiece “Nosferatu” based around the book.  He did not, however, get permission to do so and he was sued and all prints of his film ordered to be destroyed. Lucky for us some prints of the film did survive but that’s for another update based on the comic adaptation of the film and the series that followed. During that time a young film producer named Carl Laemmle Jr. bought the film rights and wanted to make a silent monster movie that would follow in the footsteps of The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1923) and The Phantom Of The Opera (1925) and wanted to use the script from the stage play, that was a huge hit on Broadway, and even Nosferatu for inspiration to bring his version to the silver screen that would not be a silent film but now a talkie. While casting Laemmie passed on stage actor Bela Lugosi who was the talk of the town for his performance of Dracula on the stage and talked to actors like John Wray, Ian Keith and Paul Muni, while the films Director Tod Browning wanted to cast Lon Chaney Sr., but sadly Chaney passed away from cancer before the film’s production started. Lugosi lobbied hard and tried all he could to get the role he felt he was born to play not only on stage but also on the big screen and finally won over Universal and the executives when he took the small pay of $500.00 a week for seven weeks of work. The production of the film was slightly disorganized as director Tod Browning was not fully behind the film and at times would even leave the set and have his cinematographer Karl Freund take over shooting and directing scenes.  You see, at the time of this film Universal had gotten away from making horror films as they thought it was beneath them as a company, but after some shake up from inside the company, horror films were back on the slate but not taken too seriously as the company had major financial issues.  In my opinion, that is why Browning didn’t take this film as seriously as he should have because he looked at it as a low budget throw away film. The film had its premiere at the Roxy Theatre in New York on February 12, 1931, and as part of its marketing Universal reported that people fainted while watching the film.  This helped the big buzz for Dracula when it opened wide two days later. Dracula was a gamble for the studio but proved to be a risk worth taking as it was a major hit and bringing in the highest profit for them in 1931 as it did better than any of their other films released that year. The film received mixed reviews with most being positive and some negatives with complaints that it wasn’t too scary and comparing it to the stage version.  But most all agreed that Bela Lugosi was fantastic as Count Dracula. I don’t want to get into the film’s plot as I feel that the Dark Horse Comic adaptation we will be reviewing will take care of that.  Instead I would like to talk briefly about the first time I saw Dracula.  The Christmas after the one that we first got our VCR, my brother Bryan bought me Dracula as a gift.  I was pretty excited to see it, as the year before, my parents got me Frankenstein and my love for Universal Monsters was at an all time high! Like before, after the Brassfield side of the family came and went from our house in Waynesville, we sat down as a family and watched it, and I was hooked and loved every second of it. Bela Lugosi, who I had drawn pictures of for years as Dracula, crept his way into my brain and became the true Count Dracula in my eyes. Dwight Frye, who played Renfield, a sad one-time sane man who becomes Dracula’s bug eating slave, is fantastic.  Edward Van Sloan plays a cool and wise Van Helsing, while Helen Chandler was stunning and well cast as Mina Seward, the woman who captures Dracula’s eye. So before we move on, I want to give a big thanks to my brother Bryan for getting me that VHS tape all those years back and allowing me to see the film that inspired monster kids for generations.

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In 1931, at the same time as the Browning production of Dracula, Universal was filming a Spanish language version, rolling at night after the American production wrapped for the evening, that was directed by George Melford and starred Carlos Villarias as Count Dracula.  The cast and crew had the lucky advantage of watching the dailies from the American production before they would film and would try to one up them with better lighting, angles and acting as they wanted to be the better of the two productions. While the two films are very similar and both filmed using the same script, the Spanish Dracula changed things up and tried to make scenes more creepy for the time and was able to push the “sex appeal” up a notch by allowing their actress, Lupita Tovar, to wear more risque clothing as she played Eva who took the place of Mina in this version. This version of this film was also a hit with moviegoers of the 30’s and chilled the bones of those who watched it. But over time, the film became lost and a print of the movie would not be found until the 1970’s when it was restored so that a new generation of horror fans could enjoy it. Many critics and fans think that the Spanish version is better than the American version, and while it’s fantastic, I still find the Lugosi version of Dracula to be the better of the two.

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After the runaway success of both Dracula and Frankenstein, Universal decided to make sequels to those films and poof! franchises were made. Dracula’s Daughter was the first sequel and came out in 1936.  It follows Countess Marya Zaleska, who is Count Dracula’s Daughter, who wants to be cured of her vampire ways..or does she? The next sequel, in 1943, had Lon Chaney Jr. as Count Alucard and was called Son Of Dracula. Count Dracula would go on to make appearances in both House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula for Universal that would combine all their classic monsters into the films.  In these two films, the part of Dracula was played by John Carradine. Bela Lugosi would play the role of Count Dracula again for Universal in 1948 in the horror comedy film Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.  This sadly would make the second and last time Lugosi would play the role in the movies. In 1979, Universal made a “remake” of Dracula that starred Frank Langella as Dracula and was a nice update to the film series. I would love to get more into films like Dracula’s Daughter and Son Of Dracula, but at some point in time I want to have some one of a kind comics made based on those films so I will hold off talking too much about them.  I really enjoyed each of the films I mentioned above and have spent countless hours watching them over the years and have owned them on VHS and DVD.

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Bela Lugosi, who’s real name was Bela Ferenc Dezso Blasko, was born on October 20, 1882 in Lugos, a small town in the Kingdom of Hungary (now Lugo, Romania) and was the youngest of four children. By the age of 12, he dropped out of school and got into acting and by 1903 had roles in many local plays, not only having small roles but also major ones which him to getting great roles in Shakespeare plays. In 1911, he moved to Budapest and had a long a great run in many theater performances.  Lugosi would claim he was the leading actor of Hungary’s Royal National Theatre, but many factors go against his claim. From 1914 to 1919, Lugosi was an infantryman in the Austro-Hungarian Army and during World War I he was ranked Captain of the ski patrol and was wounded during combat and awarded medals for his service for his country. During this time, Bela also was taking on many roles in Hungarian films like The Colonel and The Caravan Of Death. During the 1919 revolution of Hungary, he was forced to flee his homeland when the actors union went crazy causing many actors to find work elsewhere.  This lead Bela to New Orleans, Louisiana in 1920 and also lead to him using the last name Lugosi in honor of his birthplace Lugos. Bela Lugosi moved to New York and by 1931 became naturalized as an American citizen. While in New York, he and other immigrant actors formed a stock company and entertained fellow immigrants with small production plays, with his first English Broadway play being the 1922 production of The Red Poppy and soon after The Devil In The Cheese, a comedy fantasy play as well as many other theater productions. His first American movie role came in 1923 for the film The Silent Command and this lead to many more roles in silent films cast mostly as the villain. His big break in Hollywood came after he wowed audiences with his portrayal of Count Dracula in the play Dracula that lead to him getting the role in the 1931 Universal Monster classic Dracula! This sparked him to be asked to play Frankenstein’s Monster in the Universal film Frankenstein but Bela turned it down as he felt that the part was not acting and just grunts and thus beneath his talents…or so rumor goes. Many more amazing horror film roles followed as Bela starred in White Zombie, Murders In The Rue Morgue, The Raven, Son Of Frankenstein, The Black Cat, Ghost Of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man and Black Friday to name a few. His role as Ygor in Son of Frankenstein is looked at as one of his finest roles by many horror fans. But Bela would not stay on top of the horror world forever as his addiction to opiates and his box office appeal was slipping.  This lead to him taking roles in many B-movies like such titles as Mother Riley Meets The Vampire, The Ape Man, Return Of The Vampire, Voodoo Man, Bela Lugosi Meets A Brooklyn Gorilla and The Black Sleep. During his decline, he started taking roles in a young filmmaker named Ed Wood Jr’s film like Glen or Glenda and Bride Of The Monster.  His final film appearance was in Plan 9 From Outer Space as old stock footage Wood shot was added into the film. Bela was able to get off the drugs before his death in 1956 at the age of 73 from a heart attack, and he was buried wearing one of his Dracula capes. Bela Lugosi remains one of my favorite horror actors of all time and his work lives on to frighten and entertain a new generation of Monster Kids.

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Carlos Villarias was born on July 7, 1892 in Cordoba, Spain and was acting in his first movie in 1917 with the Spanish film “El Pobre Valbuena” and would star in many more Spanish productions throughout the 1930’s.  In 1931, he landed the role he was best known for, the Spanish version of Dracula for Universal. He continued to make movies for many years that followed and had roles in films like “The Mystery Of The Ghastly Face”, “Nostradamus”, “Tropic Holiday” and “The House Of The Fox” to name a few. His final film was in 1953 in a film called “Decameron Nights”. Carlos passed away in 1976 at the age of 83. While he might not be as well known as Bela Lugosi to horror fans, his acting and portrayal of Count Dracula for the Spanish market is amazing, and I am sure he chilled the bones of all those who watched him in the role back in 1931. I just wanted to touch on Carlos Villarias’s life as he is just as important to the Universal Dracula history as Bela Lugosi, Tod Browning and everyone else on the crew that made this movie come alive.

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Don Post is considered the godfather of Halloween by many and made some of the worlds first latex masks.  He also attached himself to makings masks based on some of Hollywood’s top ghouls and monsters from The Wolf Man to The Hunchback Of Notre Dame and of course he made several based on Dracula; the most important ones were based on the likeness of Bela Lugosi’s portrayal for Universal. Growing up, I can remember old ads in and on the back cover for Famous Monsters Magazine that acted as an order form to buy this classic mask. I always wondered why Dracula’s skin is green and also marveled about just how awesome the ad made the mask seem, and ideas of wanting the mask to run around my neighborhood would spring into my brain. Years later I would get to see the mask in person at the Magic Hat, a store on Brown Street, and while a great looking mask, it did not live up to the epicness of the ad. Check out the ad picture below and try not to be tranced by its latex greatness!

Don Post Dracula Halloween Mask

In 1963, Hasbro unleashed a board game to masses called “Dracula Mystery Game.”  It would allow 2-4 players to kill time and chill their bones with the horror of Dracula. The plot of the game has you and the other players rolling dice trying to avoid Dracula who wants you dead! I own this game, but sadly when I bought it from my friend David J. Getz it was missing the Dracula pawn piece, making it so that we in the Dayton Board Game Society never played it during a meeting. The game is pretty pricey and on Ebay, depending on condition, can go form any were from $20.00 – $300.00! So if you like cheesy board games, try and track this one down and give it a play for a spooky good time.

Dracula Mystery Game BoardDracula Mystery Board GameDracula Mystery Game pawn

Back in the 1960’s, kids loved to put together and paint models.  For Monster Kids, the ones everyone wanted were the 1962 Aurora Monsters, and one of the most popular ones in that line had to be Count Dracula.  The Dracula model had a Bela Lugosi looking Dracula standing in a stone and grass field next to a dead tree that houses bats. When I was a very young kid and living in Waynesville, I had one of the Dracula model kits but only the Dracula piece that was unpainted as my Mom got it for me from a garage sale. I can remember setting it up on a shelf next to Wizard of Oz dolls I had and always wishing it was an action figure and not a model. Nowadays I have seen the original model kit at many antique malls for around $30.00 – $50.00, depending on how complete it is as well as how poorly it was painted and on Ebay I have seen them go for around $10.00 to $250.00, once more depending on condition and paint job. I wish I sill had my old Aurora Dracula Model Kit, but sadly he is gone in time.

Aurora Dracula boxAurora Dracula model

In 1964, Palmer Plastics released 3” PVC mini figures based on monsters from horror movies as well as science fiction ones. And of course one of the figures released was based on the Universal Dracula. The figure was crudely designed and would come in many colors and would be sold in a three pack or even singly, all for a super cheap price. I sadly never had a Palmer Dracula, but they can be found time to time on Ebay and go for around $20.00 to $60.00 on average.

Palmer Dracula Figure

Remco was a classic toy company who, in 1980, made a deal with Universal to make action figures of their monsters, and of course Dracula was in the line. They made two styles; the first was 9” doll that had cloth clothes with movable limbs.  The Dracula one was very cool but looked nothing like Bela Lugosi. I can remember seeing this figure at flea markets and antique stores, but even loose it always carried a high price tag that my mom would not spend in order to get it for us. To this day, I do not own one but do however own Frankenstein’s Monster thanks to my friend David J. Getz. In 1981, they then released the 3 3/4” action figure versions of the Universal Monsters, and Dracula of course graced this line with his blood drinking presence. These figures were the size of Star Wars and were ones in our youth we so badly wanted but never could find them at garage sales nor flea markets. The Dracula figure’s face glowed in the dark, and he came complete with a vinyl cape.  The downside of these figures was the fact the paint chipped off very easily, and poor Dracula’s nose always had a bare spot as did his fingers. While I never did own one of these figures in my youth, a few years back for my birthday my friend Jason Young gave me almost the full run of the figures as well as the Lab playset! And yep, the Dracula had paint missing on his nose and fingers. The 9” Remco Dracula on Ebay in good shape goes for $35.00 to about $65.00, and the 3 3/4” version goes for about $8.00 – $36.00 dollars loose and in good shape. Both of these figures in package sell for over $100.00 and for collectors like myself are well worth the high price tag.

Remco Dracula DollRemco Dracula figure

Imperial Toys didn’t want to feel left out of the Universal Dracula toy releases, so in 1986, for their Universal Monster toy series, they made a Dracula that was made of hard plastic with moveable arms and head.  For some reason his face and hands are a very bright white, and he has bright red lips and cheesy rings on his fingers. The figure was sold two ways; one was loose with a tag attached to his neck and the second was in a package that showcased his castle in the background that was covered in spider webs and dust. I can remember seeing the Imperial Dracula figure at Kay-Bee Toys and wanting it to go alongside my Imperial Frankenstein’s Monster and Wolf Man that my Mom and Dad got for for Christmas that year. Sadly in my youth I never did get Dracula nor The Mummy but with in the last 3 years I was able to get them both.  Thanks to Ebay, I was able to snag Dracula with The Mummy coming from Monsterbash Convention. If you’re looking for Dracula on Ebay, this Imperial figure in good shape goes for around $4.00 all the way up to $25.00, and I must say the likeness of Bela Lugosi on this one is pretty far off, but what did you expect from a cheap toy company that made low cost figures.

Imperial Dracula

But these were not the only figures based on Dracula that have been made over the years, they were just the most popular ones. Some other amazing ones include Ben Cooper’s Dracula Jiggler and the other knock off companies that made versions. Just Toys made a very cool Dracula Bend-Em for their Universal Monster collection, and this is one figure I did own and once more got it for Christmas one year alongside The Wolf Man. Imperial also made Universal Monster Pogs that featured Dracula, not only on the milk caps but also on his very own Slammer, and yep I had this in my youth. Those are just a drop in the hat of all the cool toys made based around the Universal Dracula character. So needless to say, if you’re a toy collector and you also love Universal’s version of Dracula, you can find many great collectibles for your collection!

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When I was a kid, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was one of the most popular cartoon as well as toyline, and in 1993 when Playmates, the makers of the toys, decided to combine the Turtles with Universal Monsters, an amazing thing happened for Monster Kids like myself. Ninja Turtle Donatello was the one combined with Count Dracula, and the figure came with not only a cape but also weapons like a wooden stake.  Growing up I never had the Don as Dracula figure, but I did have a few of the others and over the years have seen this figure at many places for sale like Mavericks Cards And Comics, Game Swap Kettering and Feathers. On Ebay, the figure in package sells for about $25.00 – $40.00 dollars and loose and incomplete for about $2.00 – $4.00. So if you want this figure for your TMNT collection, it’s not too expensive.

TMNT DON AS DRACULA

World Candies produced a sugar candy stick in a small box that featured a monster of Universal Studios fame, and as far as I can tell, these began in the 1970’s and were simply called Monster Candy. I remember them in the late 80’s and early 90’s because around Halloween time at Odd Lots or Big Lots, they would sell these candies by the bag full for like $1.00 or two and I would get them to give out and pig out on. The candy back then was a flat stick, and two would be in a box and on the candy would be monster faces.  Now they are more like candy sticks aka candy cigarettes. These candies were a big part of my childhood, and while they were kind of gross, I still love the idea of them to this day. Check out the super cool box for Dracula.

Monster Candy Dracula Box

In Waynesville, I lived very close to the Library and would walk there with my brother Bryan, mother, father, and we would rent VHS movies, books and comics. One of the book series I would check out the most and even make copies of the pictures on a copy machine was the Crestwood House Monster Books. I used to love sitting and reading about each monster and all the classic films that featured them.  The books would also fill you in on old legends about that monster and even talk a little about the source material they were based on whether it be a urban legend or a novel. They put out a second series that were more like kid novels based on the movies like Dracula’s Daughter. The Library used to also have a huge sale where they would sell you a bag of books for so many dollars, and I was lucky enough to snatch up many of these titles when they decided they didn’t need them anymore and still have them to this day. I find myself from time to time still dusting them off and enjoying these fun books of my youth. Some of them were based around Dracula and many of those books are a fun read for fans and the young at heart. On Ebay, you can get a used copy of the Crestwood Monster Dracula book for $10.00 – $20.00 depending on condition and if it’s a hard or soft cover.

Crestwood Dracula BookCrestwood Daughter Of Dracula

Puzzles have been a staple for kids of all ages, and to this day, puzzles are put together by kids and adults alike.  It comes as no surprise that Universal licensed out Dracula’s image to companies to make ones based around this icon of fright. The puzzles have some great artwork and are clearly geared towards younger kids with them being mere 100-200 pieces. Not much to say about these, but I figured they should at least get some respect here on Rotten Ink.

Universal Dracula PuzzleDracula Puzzle

Back in the 90’s, Doritos Chips gave away Universal Monster stickers in the bags you would find at your local grocery store, and I found myself begging my mom to buy this snack food so that I would be able to collect the whole set of these stickers. So every time we would go to Ellis, a small store in Downtown Waynesville I would get a bag of this chips.  Now I should tell you, I HATE Doritos – always have and always will – and this shows you my love for Universal Monsters as I suffered through eating those nasty chips. I can remember how happy I was when I got the Dracula sticker for the first time, and I proudly put it away for safe keeping.  When I got an extra, I put it inside the VHS tape giving my tape a little something extra. No matter how hard I tried and how many bags of powdered death, I ate I never did get a full set of these stickers making all my efforts even that more sad. I still have the stickers to this day, and they are stored away at Independent B Movie studio waiting for the day that I will proudly display them in my home. But check out below and see how cool the Dracula one is.

Doritos Dracula Sticker

I grew up in the age of breakfast cereal, and some of the best out there were the General Mills Monster Cereals with Count Chocula, Boo Berry and Frankenberry and the wonders of how the world works when they put the cereal mascots alongside Universal Monsters! Let’s first breakdown Count Chocula as a character and his cereal. Count Chocula is vampire who is brown and wears brown clothes.  He is a friendly vampire to kids but hates Frankenberry and Boo Berry and thinks his cereal is the best. His feelings can be hurt when people run away from him, and he is scaredy cat. It’s clear as day that he is inspired by Lugosi’s version of Dracula because the mascot sounds like a poor man’s Bela. The cereal has a chocolate flavor to it and is my favorite out the the monster cereals.  It is one that I could eat every morning! But sometime in the late 80’s early 90’s, they put Lugosi as Dracula on the box with Count Chocula making a cool box for us kids to look at in the morning. Many items have been made in the image of Count Chocula including stuffed dolls, pencil tops, toys and shirts.

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Dracula has also made it to handheld video games like the ones made by Micro Games of America in 1994 and even ones made by Tiger have graced the hands of gamers. He has also been in pinball games at your local arcade and has been in a few PC games, and even had a full fledge game called simply Dracula for the Game Boy Color that was an official Universal Monsters product.  Not to mention, the mountains of other games that the character Dracula has appeared in making him one of the top classic monster bad guys used the most in video games.

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In 1997, fast food joint Burger King decided to have Universal Monster toys in their kids meal, and Count Dracula was one of the cheesiest and least wanted figure as for some reason his skin was flesh colored and it looked nothing like the classic Lugosi played vampire. Standing about 4 inches tall, the figure had a removable cape, a coffin and a glow in the dark sticker. The figure was perfect size to fit in with those kids of that day who played with G.I. Joe and Star Wars toys, and the best part was, they got it free for eating a cheeseburger and fries.  A pat on the back to Burger King for also bringing Dracula to a new generation of kids with these kids meal prizes even if the figure was lame in appearance.

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Not to be outdone, another fast food hamburger joint also gave away figures based on the Universal Monsters, and unlike Burger King, they also included The Bride and did it twice! The first batch came in 1999 and had Dracula who looked just like the Burger King version in skin tone but had a weird grabbing feature as his action. Then in 2002, they put out a quick change magic trick Dracula that would have him turn from human into a bat via his coffin.  These figures are really cheap looking and kind of cheesy, but still worth owning for those who love all things Dracula. I don’t know much about these because there is no Jack in The Box in my area.

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The Universal Dracula Series has also been a big part of horror hosting as the films were a part of The Shock Theater and Son of Shock movie packages that allowed local TV stations to air the films with a host. Many of the old shows are lost like hosts such as Vampira, Sammy Terry, Dr. Creep and Melvin hosting these classic films but a few have survived, and some hosts have hosted them as late as early this year, 2016. But here are a few of the hosts I have that brought you some films from the Universal Dracula including Morgus The Magnificent and Baron Von Wolfstein.

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But this is called Rotten Ink and is a blog mostly about comic books, so we should talk about comics that are based around Dracula that are licensed by Universal. Off the top of my head, I can only think of two; one being released by Dell in 1963 as part of their Movie Classics line called “Dracula”, with it later being paired with The Mummy by Dell. The other is the Dark Horse comic “Universal Monsters Dracula” that was released in 1993 and is the subject of this epic update. The Dell comic is a new story about Dracula, while Dark Horses is just based on the script and is a movie adaptation. Both of these are comics we will get to at some point here on Rotten Ink as well as Marvel’s Tomb Of Dracula series.  I am looking forward to bringing you those.

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One of my favorite internet shows has to be The Angry Video Game Nerd.  What is not to like about a funny character playing old video games from my youth and making fun of the flaws that have tortured many kids that played them. The Nerd is played and created by James Rolfe who also grew up as a Monster Kid watching the classic Universal Films, Horror Hosts like Joe Bob Briggs, making his own films and loving all things spooky. Every Halloween, he has a Nerd Special where he reviews a horror themed game, and in 2008, The Nerd covered Dracula themed games and he was in fact a vampire in the episode himself wearing a cape and all. But of course, the games he plays are terrible, including the NES unreleased game Drac’s Night Out, and uses the suns rays to commit suicide so he didn’t have to play any more terrible Dracula games. Every HalloweenJames Rolfe also has a show called Cinemassacre’s Monster Madness where he talks about Horror films, and one year for this show he did sequels and covered the whole Universal Dracula series. Fun shows and worth checking out at http://cinemassacre.com.

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On Sunday, October 25, 2015 at 12:50pm at the Cinemark theater at The Greene Juliet, her mom and myself went to see the 1931 Universal Dracula on the big screen just in time for Halloween! We were all pretty hyped as the event was supposed to have a cool new intro from a film historian and was to be followed up by the Spanish version of Dracula.  With some candy and drinks in hand, we were ready for some classic horror film frights. There was a decent amount of people in the theater including mothers with their children who were talking about how scary the movie was when they where little.  This put a huge smile on my face as this classic Universal film was being passed down to a younger generation of Monster Kids.  Joining us were senior citizens who came to relive watching Lugosi in all his caped glory. But what was going to be an epic afternoon of Universal Horror once more turned into the ultimate blunder of Cinemark as they cut the new intro by the film historian, started the Lugosi Dracula film after the opening credits and to boot never showed the Spanish version! I was pretty annoyed by this as Cinemark at the Greene is my go-to theater, and they fouled up showing a classic monster movie event.  But with all blunders aside, it was great to see Dracula on the big screen along with Juliet and her Mom, who also loves a good classic Horror fright flick! So while fun, I still want to say shame on you Cinemark, for charging full price for an event you didn’t show fully.

Dracula On The Sign at CinemarkDracula Ticket CinemarkThe Theater Gearing Up To See Dracula 1931 at Cinemark

So we have arrivied at Castle Dracula, and I can see our host making his way down the long stone stairs so while we wait for him to bid us, welcome I should thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this Dark Horse adaptation in stock. I also hear the children of the night telling me to remind you all 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. Plus I want to say that I am really happy to present this update to all you readers and friends this close to the Halloween season, and hope I did this classic, iconic and impactful film justice with this update. Our host is here and inviting us in for a glass of wine, so let’s head on in and take a look at this blood sucking comic!

Dracula 1 Dark Horse Comics

Dracula # 1  ***
Released in 1993    Cover Price $4.95    Dark Horse    # 1 of 1

Renfield arrives at Castle Dracula in Transylvania to meet Count Dracula, a client who is buying the Carfax Abbey in England, but during his first night there, Renfield is bitten by Dracula who is a vampire. The next day Renfield is now the slave of Dracula, and they are aboard a ship bound for England when Dracula comes from his coffin and kills the crew during a massive storm. Renfield is the only one found alive on the ship when it docks, and he is found to be mad and taken away to an asylum as Dracula walks the streets sucking the blood of a young lady selling flowers he stumbles upon. Dracula goes to the symphony and meets the Dr. Seward who runs the asylum near the Carfax Abbey, his daughter Mina, her fiance John Harker as well as her best friend Lucy. Later that night Dracula targets Lucy to become his first bride and bites her on the neck as she sleeps, and by doing so kills her and turns her into a vampire. Dr. Seward goes to his friend Dr. Van Helsing for answers to Lucy’s death, and he in turns knows that Renfield must be the helper to the vampire that is stalking England, but he is not sure who it is. Meanwhile Dracula has now selected Mina as his next bride and also wants to use her to help bring down her father and Van Helsing only slightly turning her to a vampire and more as a slave that will do his bidding. The next day while Mina explains a bad dream she had to her father, John and Van Helsing, they spot two bite marks on her neck and as Count Dracula enters and thanks to a mirror, Van Helsing figures out that Dracula is the vampire they seek. Dracula returns later that night and allows Mina to drink his blood forming a bond between the two and later takes her to his safe place at Carfax Abbey. John and Van Helsing follow Renfield who has escaped the asylum to the Carfax Abbey, and Dracula rips the heart out of his one time slave and rushes to his coffin.  The sun is coming up after he spots John and Van Helsing have entered his home! Van Helsing drives a stake through Dracula’s heart, and Mina snaps out of her trance and returns home with her lover leaving this nightmare behind.

I first want to state that I enjoyed this comic book adaptation of the classic 1931 Universal Monster film Dracula from Dark Horse, but I also want to say that writer Dan Vado took some liberties with the story by doing such things as cutting Dracula’s Brides out of the opening, having Dracula cut his own arm for Mina to drink from, shows the stake going into the heart of Dracula, Renfield has his heart ripped out of his body by Dracula, Lucy just disappears once she becomes a vampire as well as adds blood to the hand of the flower girl that’s bitten by Dracula after he exits the ship. The story is this Dracula comes to England from his home in Transylvania and tries to turn two friends into his vampire brides but is soon on the radar of a highly intelligent doctor who is aware of the vampire legend and travels to the dark side of the world to free the soul of his friends daughter who is in danger by the curse of Dracula’s bite. So lets break down our cast of characters starting with Mina Seward who is the eye candy for Dracula who is your typical naive young female character who is under the spell of evil and does nothing to help herself to escape. But with that said Mina is a great character as she fits the part of the damsel in distress that is needed in all great fairy tales. John Harker is a man who loves his fiance and will do what ever it takes to keep her safe, while he talks a good game he is not the man who steps up and saves Mina from her fate. Van Helsing is the real hero of this tale as he is the one who knows the vampire legends, understands what can stop them, figures out who the vampire is and is the one who ends up driving the stake into the heart of Dracula ending his terror. Dr. Seward is just like John while he wants to keep his daughter safe he just has no clue how to do so. Renfield is a man who is driven insane and has enter battles with what his dark side tells him to do and what he knows is right. The poor fool who does what ever he can for Dracula is rewarded with having his heart ripped from his body as it was clear the vampire had no real care for his insane slave. Count Dracula is suave, violent and very cold as he don’t care about life and only wants his needs meet as he did not care who’s lives he ruined in his quest for new brides. Dracula in this comic is so much more evil in the film as he seems to get joy from killing and has no remorse for when he does kill. Lucy as well as the asylum workers and maids are all just secondary characters and fit their roles well. The odd thing about this adaptation is that it takes a classic black and white horror film that is known for it’s lack of blood and gore and decides to add in both! While I am sure some readers disliked these changes I looked at them as the artists and writers trying to add their own spin on this classic story. The art is done by John D. Smith and is a very cool paint style that captures the look of Lugosi very well as Dracula, but oddly enough NONE of the other characters look like the actors who played them in the 1931 film with them even going so far to give Van Helsing a beard. But while Dracula might be the only one who looks like he should I found myself really liking the art as well as the cover that is really amazing and showcases just how talented Smith is at capturing the creepy feel of Bela. Over all this was a great read and an amazing read to lead us into the month of October! If your a fan of classic Universal Monsters and love comic books I would say for sure check it out! Check out some of the art below from this comic and see just how cool it looks, I must say sorry for the poor quality of the pictures as I had to use my iPhone in order to get them and not a scanner.

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So we have made it out of Castle Dracula alive and with all our blood intact, and we should count ourselves lucky as this far we have not only survived Count Dracula with out countdown to Halloween but also this far Jaws and The Tallman! This update was lots of fun to write and really helped me get into the Halloween spirit as Universal Monster movies always kick of the spooky mood and feeling that goes along with the months of October and September for me. I hope I did this 1931 film and its legacy justice with this update as it’s in honor of Bela Lugosi, who is a true horror actor icon. But I am sure you’re wondering what’s next for out countdown to Halloween.  We are leaving Castle Dracula and heading to Ireland to come face to face with the one and only Rawhead Rex! So until next time, read a comic or three, see a horror movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host…See you next update my ghoulish friends and readers.

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From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Phantasm

You Write A Good Blog, Boy…But Now You Die! Those words are something I would like to think The Tall Man would scream at me if he was here at my apartment while I write this update.  The Phantasm film series is a horror franchise that breaks the mold of what one thinks of when comparing it to other horror films that came before.  The film was not made up of vampires, zombies, a slasher killer, ghosts or even animals running wild; oh no, this film was something more with a killer who was beyond the realms of normal horror bad guys as The Tall Man is so much more than your normal villain of cinema. When choosing Horror Comics for this year’s countdown to Halloween many titles were considered, but one I knew for sure had to be in this year’s roundup was this Xmachina comic based on Phantasm as the movie series as well as this comic deserved to be talked about here on Rotten Ink. This marks not only our second update in our countdown to Halloween but also the first in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates that join our returning update themes like “Horror Host Icon”, “Alien Invasion”, “Undead Files”, “NES Challenge” and “Marvel At The Movies” among others. What I am trying to showcase in these updates are horror movie themed comics that lasted for 1-4 issues (some cases could be more issues) and can be from any comic company from Marvel all the way to Blackthrone and can be an adaptation or its own story or a prequel based on the characters of the film it’s named after. This also can apply to promo comics that used to be given away at video rental stores and now come inside DVDs and Blu-Rays, plus still sometimes at the movie theaters! Many great horror movie themed comics have been released and sadly many have been forgotten, so I feel it’s my duty here on Rotten Ink to dig them up from the comic long box graveyard and give them life once more and share them with you, my friends and readers, who might have interest in tracking them down to read or collect. So with that, let’s move into the graveyard and dodge those evil metal flying spheres and get one step closer to the world of The Tall Man!

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The Phantasm movie series is the brain child of director and writer Don Coscarelli who grew up a fan of horror and wanted to make his own in the booming market. Inspired by the book “Something Wicked This Way Comes” by Ray Bradbury as well as from elements from films like “Suspiria” and “Invaders From Mars,” he made a film that became a hit at the box office as well sparked a cult-like following that is still going strong to this day. So before we dive too deep into this update, I want to talk about the films. The write ups will once more come from our friends at IMDB with some info and my brief thoughts and memories of the films…so let’s dodge the spheres and leap over some tombstones and get to talking about the films that are near and dear to many horror fans’ hearts.

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Phantasm (1979)

Mike, a young teenage boy who has just lost his parents, is afraid to lose his brother. This fear causes him to follow his brother to a funeral, where Mike witnesses the Tall Man lift a coffin on his own. Mike decides to investigate and discovers a horrible world where the Tall Man, along with his flying spheres, shrink them to half their normal size and reanimate them as slaves. It is then up to Mike, his brother, and Reggie the ice cream man to stop the Tall man.”

Phantasm was one of those films that when I first viewed it as a youngster, I was lost by the twist and turns of the plot, but nonetheless was so drawn in by the atmosphere. Looking back, I think I first saw this film on the USA Network or some other cable station as I can remember watching it with my brother late on a weekend night while living in Waynesville. As I grew older and into my teens when I started to collect more and more horror films on VHS, the Phantasm series was on my must-own list, and part one always remained a chilling and bizzarre classic in my eyes. The film was directed by Don Coscarelli, who also was the brain behind the idea of characters, and the cast was made up of such talents as Michael Baldwin as Mike, Bill Thornbury as Jody, Reggie Bannister as ice cream man Reggie and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. At the US Box Office it brought in a total of $11.988,469.00 on a $300,000.00 budget. The year it was released, it was joined by such other Horror Films as “The Amityville Horror”, “The Driller Killer”, “Tourist Trap”, “Zombie 2”, “Screams Of A Winter Night”, “Cannibal Holocaust” and “The Dark” to name a few. This first one is a true cult classic in my book and is one that you should watch this Halloween season if you have not seen it, and hell even if you have seen it, watch it again!

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Phantasm II (1988)

Mike is released from psychiatry, when he agrees with the doctors that the terrible happenings in his past were just in his imagination. But once he’s free, he contacts Redge and they team up to hunt down and eliminate the “Tall Man”, who plunders the graveyards and abducts the sleeping with help of his terrible gnomes. A beautiful strange girl starts to appear in Mike’s dreams. He assumes she’s in danger and needs their help – will they find her before the Tall Man can do her any harm?”

I can remember when Phantasm II was coming out to theaters as Fangoria Magazine was pushing it, and the TV spots playing on the local stations always captured my attention. My first time seeing the film was when it hit home video and my cousins Dino and Norman rented it and had me and my brother over to watch it. I can remember when the sphere killed one of the Tall Man’s funeral workers, Norman and I cheered and were in wonder as the effects looked fantastic.  This sequel was also directed by Don Coscarelli with actors James LeGros as Mike, Reggie Bannister as Reggie, Paula Irvine as Liz and Angus Scrimm as The Tall Man. The film did okay for Universal at the US Box Office bringing in $7,282,851.00 on a $3 million dollar budget. The film came in at 103 for the year and beat such cult films as Waxwork, Hot To Trot, Mac And Me, The Unholy, Braddock: Missing In Action III, Elvira Mistress Of The Dark, Monkey Shines, Night Of The Demons, Pumpkinhead, Maniac Cop, Hero And The Terror and Critters 2: The Main Course to name a few. The sequel packs a wicked punch and adds to the mystery of The Tall Man and his wicked dead spreading ways, a great watch for your Halloween season for sure.

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Phantasm III: Lord Of The Dead (1994)

The Tall Man, that imposing menace from Morningside Mortuary, is back and once again haunting the thoughts of the now-adult Mike and his friend, ex-Ice Cream vendor Reggie. The two continue their hunt for the mysterious figure and in his path of destruction encounter a variety of dangerous situations, friends and enemies. They also must contend with the resurrected dead plus a growing number of the infamous and deadly silver spheres which aid the Tall Man as he sets his sights on indoctrinating Mike and finishing the fight begun so many years ago”

Phantasm III was the first of the series not to make it to theaters, and the rumor going around about why it went direct to video was because Universal and Don Coscarelli were at war with each other and they did this as a way to flex their muscle, but by doing this they created one of the top selling direct to video films of all time. I first saw the film when my brother Bryan and I rented it from K&L Video, and both of us liked it but were also confused by some of it.  But that’s the real charm of the Phantasm films, they reveal answers but also make it so there are more questions that need answers from film to film. This one also adds female characters named Rocky and Tanesha who are also on a quest to take down the sinister Tall Man…part three in this series is great and was one that was worth renting and now owning on DVD.

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Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)

Taking off immediately where the last one ended, in this episode Mike travels across dimensions and time fleeing from the Tall Man, at the same time he tries to find the origins of his enemy, and what really happened the night that his brother died. Meanwhile, Reggie (accompanied by a beauty he picked up on the road) battles the spheres and the undead in a quest to find Mike before the Tall Man can complete his transformation.”

The fourth film in the series was another one that my brother Bryan and I rented from Blockbuster Video.  While good, I did find it to be the weakest in the series, but even with that said, it’s still an amazing and strange film. I don’t have much to say about this film besides I bought it on VHS and later DVD. It was great seeing The Tall Man back in 1998, and it was released by MGM this time around and not Universal. Also a fun fact is that the film was originally written under the title “Phantasm 1999 A.D.” and would have been set in a post-apocalyptic world and would have co-starred Bruce Campbell, but that script could not find funding so it disappeared into developmental hell. This film also had the lowest budget out of all the sequels that were made up to that point. Over all it’s a solid sequel that adds to the legend and mysteries that is The Tall Man.

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Phantasm V: Ravager (2016)

The final installment of the long-running Phantasm series.”

Not much is known about this fifth film in Phantasm series besides it was filmed in secret from 2012-2013.  Oddly enough the film has been scheduled for release this year and has yet to see the light of the movie theater or even the home viewing market, but just recently the release date of October 7th, 2016 was announced. This fifth film is also supposed to be the end of the series and is also the only film not to be directed by Don Coscarelli as David Hartman steps into the director’s chair. I am hoping that the Neon Movies in Dayton will get this film to screen when released, but I won’t hold my breath. I am very much looking forward to this film as the world needs another nightmare of celluloid featuring The Tall Man. So you friends and readers, are you looking forward to this fifth and final Phantasm film?

Tall Man in The Crypt

I am sure some of your readers would like to know who is Tall Man and what is he about. In the 19th century a mortician named Jebediah Morningside had become obsessed with finding out the connections between the worlds of the dead and the living.  He researched and built a machine that would allow him to travel through time and space via a portal that when stepping into it, lead him to an unknown destination and when returning he was no longer Jenediah; he was different…he was now The Tall Man. With these changes he became immortal, super strong, can shape shift, is telekinetic and able to control not only people but also objects with his mind.  When having a body part cut off, the severed limb not only grows back but the amputated limb can transform into insect-like creatures.  His helpers are many as he not only has humans to help in his goal to make the world a graveyard, but also small dwarves, gas mask wearing guards and spheres to name a few. His only known major weakness is cold as it’s believed that the dimension he came from is very hot and this makes is body not able to deal with freezing temperatures. Another fact is that with the change his blood is no longer red but yellow, and while he can be hurt, he has never been killed as shown for 4 films thus far (could his death be in the fifth film?). What makes The Tall Man a fascinating character is the fact that his motives are unknown for the most part besides he wants the land of the living to be the land of the dead. While he can talk, he is a bad guy of few words and mostly uses his face and eyebrow movement to show his feelings. The Tall Man is said to be 6 feet 4 inches tall, have grey hair and is always wearing a black suit. Actor Angus Scrimm has played The Tall Man for five films and his portrayal will forever lock The Tall Man as a true iconic character in the world of horror films. And one has to wonder if the Creepypasta Slenderman is slightly based on The Tall Man…think about it.

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Let’s talks a little about actor Angus Scrimm, shall we? Born on August 19, 1926 in Kansas City, Kansas, Scrimm started his media journey when he wrote and edited for such magazines as TV Guide and Los Angeles Herald Examiner and would also write the liner notes for LPs and CDs for bands like The Beatles and Frank Sinatra and even won a Grammy for his work on liner notes. Hits first acting role was in 1973 in the film “Sweet Kill” with another role that year being in “Sceam Bloody Murder” and after another small role in 1976 for a film called “Jim The World’s Greatest.”  His career changing role would come three years later in 1979 when he landed the role of The Tall Man in the film Phantasm.  This launched his career in acting in horror and cult films, landing roles in “Wiches’ Brew”, “Subspecies”, “Wishmaster” and “John Dies At The End,” to name a few. Angus would travel around the world acting and appearing at conventions and was always a man who made time for his fans. But sadly on January 9th 2016 at the age of 89, Angus Scrimm passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends.  This marked another major blow for fans of horror as the year before we lost Wes Craven and Christopher Lee. While gone, his work will live one, and I just wanted to take a moment and honor the man who truly made The Tall Man come alive and scare all those who witnessed his cinema and home video madness. This update is for you, Mr. Scrimm.

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The Tall Man has lots of creepy helpers that are trying to usher in a world of death.  Let’s take a few moments to take a look at them. The most popular of his helpers are the Spheres, also known as Sentinels.  They are flying weapons of death that are packing drills, knives, lasers and saws inside of them and are pure killing machines. The Dwarves, also called Lurkers, are pint size terrors who are crushed down dead bodies that have their brains removed and act as his main forces in his quest. The Hearse is another of his allies, a roaming self controlled four wheeled death machine, and lastly we have the Gravers, who are gas mask wearing slaves who act as guards. All these minions help make The Tall Man a true menace that the world fears and has to combat in order to save their towns from becoming wastelands of death.

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Phantasm has had its share of merchandise and only VHS, DVD and Blu-Ray and other home media releases. Over the years Phantasm and its character The Tall Man have appeared on t-shirts, posters, a comic book, action figures, posters, books, wall clock, hats and many more official and unoffical products. Over the years my most favorite Phantasm item I own is my NECA action figure that not only showcases The Tall Man but also a Lurker.  I also really like my Xmachina Comic as well as an item I will be talking about very shortly. So if you’re a fan of Phantasm and are also a collector of cool things, you can find some very kick butt stuff that showcases characters and the logos for this cult classic horror film.

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In 2009, a Phantasm homebrew video game was made for the Atari 2600 by Scott Dayton.  During its limited release, it was placed on a cart, and I was lucky enough to get a copy of it to play. It’s an adventure game and has you looking around doors in the mausoleum trying to find your shotgun and fighting off the dwarves and dodging The Tall Man who says/screams “Boy” at you. The best part of the game is the midi version of the film’s theme…amazing! While not ground breaking, the game is very much a fun play and makes you flashback to the days when a joystick and one button were all you needed to play a game. While out of print and pretty hard to find, from time to time it will show up on Ebay, and for a high price, you too can get yourself a copy of the horror video game.

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The score music for the 1979 classic Phantasm was done by Fred Myrow and Malcolm Seagrave and could be some of the most memorable horror film music to come out of the 70’s next to Goblin’s Dawn Of The Dead work. The opening theme has a creepy organ sound that blends the sound of the 70’s and yet also mixes in the eerie feel of the 60’s horror score music. The soundtrack has been released on vinyl and CD, and both are pretty much out of print and fetch a very high price in the used market. I was lucky to find a special edition CD release for Phantasm that puts the scores for the first and second film on one CD-R and play the main title during the Halloween show of Alpha Rythms on WYSO. If you’re a music score fan and have extra cash, you should check out this soundtrack as it’s worth buying and listening to.

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Back in 2011 as part of the podcast Gutter Trash’s Halloween special, I was asked to be a guest to review Phantams alongside hosts Jason Young and Eric Shonborn, and wow was it a fun time! We ate take out Chinese food and watched the film over at Eric’s house and after the film recorded the podcast in the Gutter Trash studio….and I was the only one trying to defend it! It was a great time, and if you want to take a trip to the past and listen to some movie and comic geeks chat about Phantasm and other topics, make sure to give it a listen here.

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So we are now in the heart of this Horror Comic Mortuary where good scary comics go to die, and it’s my job to bring them back to life and share them with you my readers – I should warn you that I have had to dodge so many Lurkers who have tried to stop me! I want to thank an Ebay seller for having this issue in stock. I also want to also tell you that this Phantasm comic series was planned to be a four issue mini series, but after Xmachina closed up the comic shop, only one issue was released. But I would like to make a prediction that may could come true; Eibon Press, the new amazing Horror Comic Company who is releasing the missing issues from the Xmachina Gates Of Hell comic series, could take the chance and release the remaining issues..again, just a guess that I could be WAY OFF on. As I am writing this, I can hear a Lurker mumbling this, “Remind them that you grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story.” And that Lurker said it best..let’s move onto the Phantasm comic that is the perfect way to countdown to Halloween with as well as kick off my new themed updates “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” so dodge the spheres and try to outrun The Tall Man and see what this comic has to offer as this is my first time reading it.

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Phantasm # 1 ***
Released in 2002    Cover Price $4.95    Xmachina Comics    # 1 of 4

Mike is stuck in a world of his memories of his past run-ins with The Tall Man and his strange world and followers. He remembers back to when he was convinced it was all a dream and that his brother Jody died in a car crash and was not taken away by The Tall Man.  He also remembers when The Tall Man took him into his world and he witnessed the bizarre and weird place in between dimensions that he walked between.  He remembers going along with his best friend Reggie and meeting a female survivor named Rocky and how they had to fight to stay alive, and he remembers how The Tall Man removes his brain to show him not all is what it seems…and then he wakes up attached to machines, greeted by a hippie looking doctor named John Andrew Quezada who is dream specialist.  The year is 2047, and he has been studding Mike who he claims has been in a coma since 1979, a year after his brother Jody and friend Reggie were both killed in a car wreck.  He also claims that the world went crazy some years back and that many people went into dream comas and that The Tall Man is something that lives in dreams and only one other person has ever lived this long in a coma. Mike is still young as a serum was used to keep him youthful, and now Quezada wants him to help find a cure for the dream coma that is sweeping the world. The woman who survived is Rocky, and Dr. Quezada puts them both through dream tests that pits them against The Tall Man and his army of minions, but also what ever weapon they dream up to fight him with can be made as the clinic has a weapon manufacturing room! In one of his dream tests Mike has his own mind taking the appearance of Reggie telling him that this is all a trick of The Tall Man to get him and Rocky out of the way so he can spread death around the world and that they must fight back and end The Tall Man’s path of destruction. When he awakens, he questions Quezada who in turns answers questions but soon turns into The Tall Man and along with spheres and his minions attack Mike and Rocky, only for them to run away and smack dab into a twisted grotesque version of The Tall Man…and our story ends.

Just like the movie series this is based on this comic took so many twist and turns and was so odd that it fit perfectly into the world of Phantasm! The plot mixes the elements from the four films and tries to twist Mike’s memories into nightmares and say that he has been in a coma for decades – and that The Tall Man is nothing more than a nightmare man who has infected the sleep world of many people on earth causing ones who dream of him to go into comas…this of course is all a trap as Mike and Rocky, a returning character from the film Phantasm III, soon find out that this clinic to help them is just another sick game being played by their most hated enemy The Tall Man. The things that work the most about this issue are that while you are reading it and being drawn deeper and deeper into the possibility that these nightmares of Mike are what’s causing these major and evil problems, you know in the back of your mind that it has to be the work of The Tall Man as his sinister mind games are on par with the Marvel Comic villain The Red Skull as they both get joy in watching their targets squirm as their twisted plans unfold. Mike is a great character as by the point we join him in this comic issue, he has already been through so much and he seems to be fed up with all the strange and sinister antics he has had to deal with in his young life.  Plus he knows that he is the key that can stop this approaching end of the world, and he is ready to take up the fight! Rocky is also a fighter, and she tries her best to have no fear even when the odds are stacked against her.  The best way to describe her to modern horror comic fans is that she is much like Michonne from The Walking Dead. While we see Reggie and Jody in flashbacks mostly, they are missed in the story, but I have a feeling that later on they would have played a major part in the story. Doctor John Andrew Quezada is one of those characters that from the moment you see him you’re not sure if he can be trusted and after getting to know him a little better you lighten up only to again quickly question his motives…is he good or bad or a pawn of The Tall Man…I can’t say for sure, but by the end of this issue, he sure does seem evil! The Tall Man always seems to be around in this issue whether its in flashback, on TV screens or in person, and he just wants to screw things up and mess with the minds of those who can stop his rampage. Tall Man is always also surrounded by his minions and his spheres making him a major threat. The cover has a dark mood look and for some reason The Tall Man looks like he is part Terminator with his glowing red eye.  The interior art is done by Michael Broom and is creepy and fitting for this style of story based on these characters. The story is well crafted and put together by Stephen Romano, who you could truly tell was a fan of the series.  I wish that Xmachina Comics stayed around longer so that this series could have been finished up and we horror comic readers could have seen how the story played out. Here is to hoping that sometime in the future companies like Eibon Press or Rough House Publishing will pick up the series and put out the remaining three issues in the planned miniseries. Over all, this is a great read and something that fans of the film series should track down as well as horror comic readers. Below is artwork from the comic that shows the badass nature of what this comic has in store, so enjoy!

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So I hope you’re not too scared as we have just started with our countdown to Halloween 2016, and I think taking a look at Jaws 2 and Phantasm was the right way to kick off this season. Phantasm is one of those cult classic films that has a loyal fanbase that just cannot be beat, and I for one will always stand by the fact that I am a fan, or as they say Phan, of this film! Our next update is a comic based on another film that I am a super fan of, the 1932 classic film Dracula.  We will be taking a look at the Dark Horse Comic adaptation of that Universal Monster Classic as well as Lugosi’s Dracula and the impact it has had on society.  So make sure to join me back here for that as you will not want to miss it.  Until next time, avoid The Tall Man, watch a horror movie or two, read a horror comic or three and as always support your local Horror Host. Also watch out for flying spheres as they can be a real pain in the neck!

Universal Dracula Logo

Terror Of The Deep Blue Sea…JAWS!!

GET OUT OF THE WATER! I am not screaming this at you because you just ate a hamburger and dove into the pool.  We all know you could get a cramp from that, but I am screaming this because our 1st countdown to Halloween update is all about that terror of the ocean Jaws! Humankind has always had a slight fear of the ocean and the Great White Shark has always been the foe of those looking for a good time in the ocean as they are known man-eaters and are not afraid to take a bite out of you! But in 1975, thanks to Steven Spielberg and Universal Studios, the world became afraid to go swimming as the film JAWS chewed its way to the top of the box office and made viewers scared to enter the water! The first time I saw Jaws is when my Dad showed it to me on cable TV, and I can remember even at a young age loving the mood and slow burn approach as the final showdown of man vs. shark unfolded before my young eyes. I can remember getting the same charge and wonder when watching JAWS 2, but the series lost steam for me when I watched part 3 and the revenge. So this update is going to be a fun one that I hope helps build you up for Halloween that is just around the corner.  So lets get on our wetsuits and dive into the water as we take a look at JAWS 2 and the Marvel adaptation of this classic late 70’s drama horror film.

The Shark Is Waiting For You

To understand JAWS, we must first travel back to 1916 and the Jersey Shore line as a rogue shark attacked people along the coastline and beyond.  For 12 horrifying days, this man eater went on its rampage leaving four dead and one injured. The first attack took place on July 1 with the victim being Charles Epting Vansant, who was 25 years old and was attacked by the shark while on vacation and swimming at Beach Haven.  His legs were being bitten by the shark and by the time help got to him, the shark had stripped the flesh off of his left thigh.  Charles would go on to bled to death from his injuries. Witnesses claimed that the shark even followed Charles up to shore before returning back into the Atlantic Ocean. The next attack took place on July 6th when 27 year old Charles Bruder was swimming at Spring Lake where he was attacked by the shark who bit his abdomen and, rumor goes, even severed the young man’s legs turning the water around him blood red in color.  He also bled to death from his injuries. On July 12, a group of boys went swimming in Matawan Creek when Lester Stilwell, who was 11, was attacked by the shark.  The other boys fled and ran to town for help.  Among them was Watson Stanley, a 24 year old business man who dove into the water to save the youngster, but he was bitten by the shark in the thigh and bled to death from his injuries. Stilwell’s body was found later downstream on July 14. Less than 30 minutes after the deaths of Stilwell and Stanley, in the water near Wyckoff Dock, Joseph Dunn, who was 14 at the time, was bitten and attacked by the shark who clamped onto his leg.  Dunn’s brother and a friend saved his life when they pulled Joseph away from the shark and were able to get him to the hospital in time.

After the attacks, panic filled the good people of the New York and New Jersey coastlines and many fishermen and trackers tried to hunt down the wicked rogue shark. Most believe that Michael Schleisser, a lion tamer for the circus, caught the shark when on July 14 he did battle with one that nearly sunk his boat and was nearly 8 feet in length. After beating the shark with a broken oar, he found the belly of the beast was filled with human flesh and bone! The shark was dubbed “The Jersey Man-Eater” and was mounted and placed on display in a shop off Broadway, until the body of The Jersey Man-Eater went missing some time later. But even after this, people still didn’t think that this was the right shark and that the real killer shark was still out in the water looking for more humans to chomp on.  Over the years, TV shows and channels like In Search Of, History Channel, Discovery and many more have covered this case and have given their own opinions on wheter the real Jersey Man-Eater ever was caught. The real downside to this story is that in 1916, before many of these attacks, boat captains had warned people about seeing the shark or sharks in the water, and they were laughed at and ignored.  Lives could have been saved if only they would have listened to those who know the sea better then most. Below is a picture of The Jersey Man-Eater and Michael Schleisser, the man who captured him and “stopped” the 12 Days of Terror.

As a youngster, author Peter Benchley loved to go fishing with his dad in Nantucket, and during this time, he would encounter sharks.  This sparked his fascination with these powerful predators of the waters. These boyhood memories would stick with him, and he would spend years thinking about writing a novel about a shark that attacked people and would not go away as its bloodlust was just too powerful. In 1964 fuel got added to the fire when a 4,550 pound shark was caught off the shore of Long Island, New York.  By 1971, Benchley was struggling as a freelance writer, but fate was about to change when he had lunch with his editor Thomas Congdon who encouraged him to write his fiction book about the shark attacking a resort.  History was made as the novel Jaws hit bookstores and became a hit with readers and some critics. The book had many titles during its production like “Leviathan Rising” and “The Stillness In The Water,” but out of the need for something easy to fit on the cover, they stuck with a simple title “JAWS.” A funny fact about the book is that it climbed California’s best seller list when the film was going into production as Steven Spielberg and many of the other producers bought hundreds of copies of the book to hand out to crew and family! Growing up, I had a paperback copy of JAWS and can remember reading through it but never finishing it.  I’m not really sure why I never finished it as I always enjoyed the movie and like most kids was in awe of the ocean and all the fish and animals that live in it. I could go on and on about the book and go into more detail on its creation as well as it’s impact on culture, but I just wanted to give you a little nibble and not a chunk about it.  So to sum it up, if you love the film make sure to read the novel if you have not done so yet.

Jaws Novel 1peter benchley and a sharkJaws Novel cover 2

So up to this point, we took a look at the true events that inspired JAWS with the 1916 attacks near the Jersey Shore, and we also took a quick look at the novel that inspired the film series, written by Peter Benchley. Now I think its time to go out into deeper water and take a look at the JAWS franchise that has a total of four films under its man-eating belt. Growing up, I watched these movies so many times, and for me, the shark “JAWS” was just as much an icon of horror as Norman Bates, Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Leatherface, Chucky, Dracula, Tallman, Cemetery Zombie and so many other amazing characters that shaped my youthful mind! So let’s get to the fat of this review and take a quick look at the films in this series with film write ups being taken from our good friends at IMDB.

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JAWS (1975)

It’s a hot summer on Amity Island, a small community whose main business is its beaches. When new Sheriff Martin Brody discovers the remains of a shark attack victim, his first inclination is to close the beaches to swimmers. This doesn’t sit well with Mayor Larry Vaughn and several of the local businessmen. Brody backs down to his regret as that weekend a young boy is killed by the predator. The dead boy’s mother puts out a bounty on the shark and Amity is soon swamped with amateur hunters and fisherman hoping to cash in on the reward. A local fisherman with much experience hunting sharks, Quint, offers to hunt down the creature for a hefty fee. Soon Quint, Brody and Matt Hooper from the Oceanographic Institute are at sea hunting the Great White shark. As Brody succinctly surmises after their first encounter with the creature, they’re going to need a bigger boat.”

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JAWS 2 (1978)

The small island resort town of Amity is trying to bounce back from the financial troubles that suffered after becoming known as the site of shark attacks four years earlier. Mayor Larry Vaughn is welcoming developer Len Peterson and his new resort to Amity. Two scuba divers are exploring the area where the Orca sank after police chief Martin Brody killed a huge shark four years ago. A shark shows up and devoured the two divers, but not before one of the divers takes a close-up picture of the shark’s eye, and sometime later, while a mother is driving a boat that’s pulling her water-skiing teenage daughter, the shark devours the daughter and causes the mother to accidentally blow up the boat, then a killer whale is found on the shore with a huge bites on it. After Brody sees this, he knows there’s another huge great white shark in Amity’s waters, but Vaughn and Peterson explain these attacks away as non-shark accidents, because the thought of another shark in Amity’s waters would drive…”

I decided that since Jaws 2 is the film the comic adaptation we are reviewing for this update, I would share a few fun facts about the film. Steven Spielberg was asked to direct the sequel but turned it down as he felt he made the “definitive” shark movie and claimed that “making a sequel to anything is just a cheap carny trick.” He later stated that he would have possibly come back to direct the sequel if he didn’t have a troubled production at sea with the first one. One of the film’s early ideas was to have the sons of Brody and Quint be on the hunt for a new man eating shark that was causing chaos. One of the scripts was a downbeat one, and Universal stepped in and made them make it a little more cheery! Susan Ford, daughter of former president Gerald Ford, shot the film’s publicity photos.  Martha’s Vineyard was used as the location of Amity’s town scenes, and the crew was met with mixed reactions this time around as many of the locals thought that the big production and its workers were rude and not happy go lucky like the first film’s crew. Roy Scheider, who played Sheriff Brody in the original film as well as this sequel, was not to happy to be in this film and was paid a large weekly salary but was always in a bad mood and would complain and argue with the director. Students from Gulf Breeze High School were hired to play extras at $3.00 an hour and were able to miss school in order to film. Just some fun facts that I wanted to share.

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JAWS 3-D (1983)

Michael Brody and Sean Brody, the sons of former Amity police chief Martin Brody, work at Florida’s Sea World, a seaside park run by Calvin Bouchard. Sean befriends Kelly Ann Bukowski, and Michael’s girlfriend Kathryn Morgan is Sea World’s head scientist who always works with Sea World’s dolphins Cindy and Sandy. In its man-made lagoon, about 40 feet under the water, Sea World opens the Undersea Kingdom, a new set of underwater glass tunnels that have their own control room, and Calvin’s friend Philip FitzRoyce is there to do some filming. When Sea World diver Shelby Overman vanishes, everyone is worried. Michael and Kathryn head into the water, where they find a baby great white shark and decide to bring it to Sea World to put it on display, but at Sea World, the baby shark dies. When Overman’s body is found, Michael vomits when he sees it. Kathryn looks at the body and knows that the baby shark could not have been the shark that killed Overman, because the baby shark’s bite radius …”

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JAWS: The Revenge (1987)

Ellen Brody still lives in the island resort town of Amity, and her sons Sean and Michael don’t work at Sea World anymore, and some time ago, Ellen’s husband Martin Brody died of a heart attack that happened because he was afraid of sharks. Sean is now a deputy in Amity. One night, during the Christmas season, Sean is called to untangle a log from a buoy, and when Sean goes to the buoy, he’s killed by a great white shark. After hearing about this, Michael, who is studying to be a marine biologist, visits Amity with his wife Carla and his 5-year-old daughter Thea. Wanting to get away from Amity and spend Christmas with Michael, Carla, and Thea, Ellen goes with them to their house in the Bahamas on an airplane whose pilot is Hoagie Newcombe, and Hoagie starts falling for Ellen. Michael’s friend Jake, who is also studying to be a marine biologist, lives next door to Michael. Sometime later, while Michael and Jake are out at sea, their boat is attacked by the shark that killed Sean. …”

The first film in the series was directed by Steven Spielberg and was a mega hit not only at the box office but also with critics.  The sequels were directed by Jeannot Szwarc for part 2, Joe Alves for part 3, and the 4th and final was directed by Joseph Sargent.  While mostly hits in their own right, they never did capture box office gold like the original. In 1975, Jaws was the top grossing film, beating out Rocky Horror Picture Show, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Deep Red, Death Race 2000 and Dog Day Afternoon to name a few and bringing in a total to date of $260,000,000.00! Jaws 2 in 1978 was the 7th highest grossing film with $77,737,272.00 beating out such classics as Dawn Of The Dead, The Deer Hunter, Revenge Of The Pink Panther, Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes, Debbie Does Dallas and Damien: Omen II. Jaws 3-D in 1983 was # 15 with $45,517,055.00 beating out films like Scarface, Psycho II, Porkys II, Twilight Zone The Movie, The Outsiders, Cujo, A Christmas Story, Krull, Strange Brew, Amityville 3-D and The Evil Dead. Poor old Jaws: The Revenge was not a shinning star in 1987, locking in the # 54 spot and only bringing in $20,763,013.00.  It did, however, beat out other cult films like Born In East L.A., Masters Of The Universe, Over The Top, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, Hellraiser, Creepshow 2, Prince Of Darkness, The Gate, Back To The Beach, House II, Who’s That Girl, Death Wish 4 and The Chipmunk Adventure to name a very select few. It’s clear that Universal decided not to make a 5th film due to the poor performance of Jaws: The Revenge that had a massive drop in box office dollars and was showing signs of a tired franchise. With no new JAWS movies being talked about and the idea of remaking it shot down by fans and Hollywood itself, those looking for shark movies to send shivers down their spine will have to watch the series on DVD or get their fix with the many clones that this series has sparked like Deep Blue Sea, Shark Attack, Open Water and countless terrible made for TV films. I will always say the first two JAWS films are fantastic and a great way to spend time watching right before you vacation or head to your local beach. I should also say I would love to see Universal do another JAWS sequel as I feel the time is right to unleash the giant shark again on movie goers. Oh, and my girlfriend Juliet would kill me if I didn’t mention that the mechanical shark from JAWS was named Bruce and that many special effects people had to work very hard to get it to move and work right as the salt filled water and air made for a very tricky production.

Jaws Attacks

Amusement park Universal Studios Florida had an idea to take a popular tour attraction from their Hollywood sister park that had during the tour of the studio seeing Jaws who would try to attack as they passed and turning it into a full ride of its own! Universal along side Ride & Show Engineering with consultant Steven Spielberg began planning on constructing the Jaws Ride that they hoped would be a major attraction for the Florida theme park. The ride opened on June 7, 1990 but was plagued with many issues as the special effects of the ride seemed not to want to work and many times daily it would have to be evacuated from all the breakdowns. The ride was a flop at first as Ride & Show Engineering failed to make the ride to work and failed at designing the ride to work in water, and for years Universal tried to make the effects and ride work, but could never make it happen as it was just to poorly made by the designers. But hope for a solid and iconic ride was in the cards as Totally Fun Company, Oceaneering International and ITEC Entertainment came to the rescue and redesigned the ride almost from the ground up! The ride reopened in 1993 with Roy Scheider, Steven Spielberg and Lorraine Gray being on hand to introduce a crowd of fans and riders to the horror ride experience of their life! In 2004 the ride was shutdown for a short time and then became a seasonal ride in 2005 when gas prices rose after hurricanes slowed down production of the petroleum, but due to the mass amounts of complaints from guests they opened it full time again in 2007. While it was a major attraction on January 2, 2012 Jaws The Ride was closed down by Universal Studios Florida to make room for new attractions that turned out to be Harry Potter World and the ride “Harry Potter And The Escape From Gringotts” and this was terrible news for me as I have always wanted to ride Jaws but never got a chance…stupid Harry Potter! I am guessing for those who don’t know what the ride was about I should fill in. The ride has a “captain” taking guests around Amity Island all the while Jaws attacks as explosions and special effects go off all around. In the end thanks to a power cable JAWS is defeated and you make it out of the boat alive! On a cool side note on March 31, 2001 Universal Studios Japan was able to get a version of the JAWS Ride that is still open till this day, showing that they understand that the ride is iconic and didn’t need to break it down for Potter and his magic world. By the way I have nothing against Harry Potter…or do I? My cousin Stephen Alexander was able to ride it in his youth as has many other of my friends so at least they have their memories of this iconic and groundbreaking ride. Below are some pictures of the ride taken by happy guests as well as an old school ad for it.

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One thing about JAWS I remember just as well as the films I grew up watching, is the scene in Back To The Future II when Marty McFly played by Michael J. Fox is walking down the street in his hometown Hill Valley now in the future (2015) and playing at the Holomax Theater is Jaws 19 directed by Max Spielberg, who is the real life son of Steven, the director of the original JAWS. The film’s tagline is “This Time It’s Really Really Personal,” and as Marty walks by the cinema, a giant holographic JAWS pops out and comes toward Marty who screams and soon finds its all just an illusion to sell tickets to the film. Sadly 2015 has passed, and so far we have not gotten a JAWS sequel since 1987, but here is to Robert Zemeckis and the cast and crew of Back To The Future Part II for making a fun moment in that classic film.

Back To The Future 2 Jaws

JAWS also made it so that it was not safe to play you video game system of choice as many games have been made based around this killer great white shark. The Commodore 64 version was released by Box Office Games a game sadly I have never played but will track down and do so someday. The Nintendo Entertainment System got one put out by LJN and this is the one I remember the most as it was a game I have owned for years and have spent many hours going from port to port to get shells to trade for tools of the trade to try and defeat JAWS. More modern games made for PS2, Xbox and WII were made by Majesco and has you the player control JAWS and complete missions that including humans and other ocean life. So as you can see JAWS in video games allows players to be humans but also the shark depending on the systems you play it on and the companies who developed them. I really do have good memories of playing JAWS on the NES and even with the last few years I watched my cousin Stephen beat it! So for all you readers who are gamers there is many ways to pick to play JAWS.

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The Angry Video Game Nerd in 2012 episode 101 entitled Spielberg Games reviewed JAWS for the NES and gives his typical funny review of it all the while ripping it a new one over it’s beyond repetitive game play and the over all cheesy way and awkward way you must beat JAWS in the final battle that has you as the player spear him in the neck with the end of your boat! Also during this episode he looks at NES Games like Jurassic Park and Hook, so if you like funny and crude reviews done by one of my favorite internet stars make sure to give it a watch.

AVGN Jaws

Like all good Horror Movie Franchises JAWS has had it’s massive share of merchandise from video games to soundtracks and everything in-between. Topps did trading cards for JAWS 2, many pool toys where made to make your swimming pool a scene from JAWS, T-Shirts, Pog Slammers, Novels, Hats, Posters, Magazines and even in 2015 ReAction figures were made! Some of the things I have owned about JAWS over the years to present include the Novels, Marvel Comic Adaptation for JAWS 2, the POG Slammer, trading cards, soundtracks and just last year (2015) Juliet got me the ReAction figure of the shark! So all you fans of this film there are many great collectables out in the world for your collections. Oh and I am almost pretty sure that my cousins Dino, Norman and Nick had the pool toy JAWS as I can remember us one summer playing out the movie in their pool!

Jaws Pool ToyJaws 2 Trading Card packJaws ReAction Figures

John Williams is the master of movie music and has done the scores for such films as Superman The Movie, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, E.T., Raiders Of The Lost Arch and JAWS! These titles are just a drop in the hat of the amazing work he has done in films that have inspired and entertained viewers for decades. The JAWS 2 soundtrack is refreshing, as Williams did not recycle his old music from the first one and added a new flavor to fit the over all nature, mood and characters of this sequel. While the familiar JAWS theme is present it’s done in a new way with only it playing along with a new piece of music to sandwich it between. While I find JAWS 2 to have a fantastic and fitting score it still does fall a little short at being as iconic as it’s predecessor. While I wrote much of this update I played my CD of JAWS 2 as background music and found it very fitting and really put me into the frame of mind to write about these series of films and the Marvel Comic. The track from this soundtrack that I like to play on WYSO is called “End Title. End Cast” that mixes soft melodies and booming horns. Over all if you like score music to films like I do this one is a good one to have in your collection. This soundtrack can be found on Vinyl, Cassette and CD so many ways to own it in your collection.

Jaws 2 Soundtrack CD

There is blood in the water now and the sharks are starting to circle us so I think its time that we take a look at the Marvel Super Special of JAWS 2 and see just how well this comic holds up to the film. I want to point out that I will call the great white shark JAWS through out this review and in fact did so throughout the update, I know that’s not the sharks name in the film but as a youngster I grew up calling the shark that name and find myself still to this day doing it, so in other words old habits die hard. I want to thank Lone Star Comics from Texas and my favorite store to order comics online from for having this issue in stock. I want to also point out that make sure your oxygen tank is filled and your flippers not broken as I grade on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So if your ready this cool September night lets dive deep into the ocean and come face to face with the one and only razor toothed menace of the ocean JAWS.

Jaws 2 Comic

JAWS 2  # 1  ***
Released in 1977    Cover Price $1.50    Marvel    # 1 of 1

A pair of lobster divers find a sunken boat and think of the money they can make of the salvage, but soon find that they are not going to live long enough to make that money as Jaws the great white shark is back and makes a quick meal of them. On Amity Island Chief Brody is still scared by the events that took place there three years before as is the town that has lost traction of being a good place to vacation. Brody and his fellow officers find the divers boat abandon and later a group of collage age skiers are attacked by Jaws and their boat blown up leaving no evidence of the shark attack. While Brody is being laughed at for his obsession of sharks his young sons teenager Mike and youngster Sean are taking a boat out to a small island that holds a lighthouse and spending time with friends, but as they are in the water so is Jaws who once more targets some divers who are sadly in the wrong place at the wrong time. Brody along with a helicopter hit the water to bring the teens in as it’s now clear that Jaws is back! Mike and Sean along with friends are having a great time when Jaws attacks and eats and kills many of the youngsters with her powerful jaws and razor sharp teeth, the beast of the ocean also brings down the helicopter and kills it’s drivers! Finally Brody is able to trick Jaws into bitting down on a power line that was at the bottom of the water and brought to the surface thanks to a drag line and once Jaws chomps down on it, the great white shark is fried and Brody meets all the surviving teens and his sons on the Light House island.

Jaws 2 translated from movie to comic very well and has enough cut and some slight adds that make it feel like it’s own adventure, as they could not squeeze a nearly 2 hour movie into a standard comic magazine special. The plot is this Brody and the town of Amity are not over the shark attacks that took place three years in the past and now the shark is back and hungry for flesh and revenge and when Brody’s own children are on the menu he must try his hardest to save them and the town form the sharks warpath of chaos. Sheriff Brody is a man stuck in the past who has grown to fear sharks and even the ocean and spends most days on duty watching the waters. He is getting to the point were is paranoia is effecting his relationship with his teenage son Mike are he wants him to stay clear of the water as he fears that another shark attack could happen. But even while paranoid Brody still has the respect of the towns people and steps up to be the hero again when the shark comes calling for human hide to chew on. Sean and Mike are just normal youngsters who want to just enjoy the summer and travel the waters on Mike’s new boat. But when they don’t listen to their fathers they of course run into trouble that leaves many of their friends dead! The Shark or as I call JAWS is one mean mama who wants to eat as many people as possible before summers end, she travels the waters looking for divers, swimmers and skiers and seems as if she has a bone to pick with Brody as she targets his children. That’s one thing I really do like about this comic adaptation they really push home that JAWS is a female so that should make female readers happy that the killer of this horror comic is indeed a female. The comic is pretty bloody and has the shark eating and ripping people apart with also depictions of blood in the water. The horror element of the comic is present as they try and build the idea into the readers mind that JAWS is always in the water and will not stop killing and eating humans, they add the drama factor with Brody and his son Mike not seeing eye to eye and mix them all together with a small town feel. The art work is done by the team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer and for the most part its fantastic, the only downside is that none of the characters besides JAWS looks like the actors who played them making for a slight disappointment. But with that said the shark art and murders are top notch stuff and pretty brutal for a Marvel Comic from the late 70’s. The cover as you can see is good but also very cheesy and does great job of mixing sex and violence. Over all I must say I had a fun time reading this comic and it was a great way to kick off the first update in my countdown to Halloween! So check out some artwork below and see just how cool JAWS looks in this fun comic adaptation.

Jaws 2 art 1Jaws 2 art 2Jaws 2 art 3

So now that the waters are safe, and we made it safely past the jaws of that great white shark, we should take a look at another horror icon that has made the leap to comics.  I am thinking that in honor of his fifth film, we should look at the Tallman from the Phantasm series and the comic made by Xmachina! So make sure to come back for that one as I am sure it will be a bone chilling good time! It’s now time that I leave you as I have some Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre and Sparkle Comics duties I need to get done, so until next time, stay out of the water, watch out for sharks, read a comic or three and support your local horror host.

Phantasm Logo

Matt Goes To The Movies 2014

Matt Goes To The Movies 2014 Logo

2014 was a pretty good year for movies, and while I didn’t get to visit the theater just about every week like last year, I still was able to catch many great films at my favorite theaters. It’s odd that after all these years I still feel the excitement of watching a film in the theater with some popcorn and an Icee. But before we get into my lists, I should say that my favorite theater is Cinemark at the Greene in Beavercreek, but man since they bought the theater from The Rave that place has had some issue and cutbacks that have really taken away from the place. The first thing you will notice is that on many days they are understaffed and many of the faces from last year are no longer working there, although my friend Chris still does so that’s a plus. Plus they did away with the flavor powder to put on your popcorn….so no more cheese popcorn for this movie goer. Others issues I have had is that during John Wick they left the lights on.  When my pal Jeremy Hoyt went and told them they turned off all the lights besides the center one that sadly we were sitting under…I felt like I was being interrogated by Dick Tracy! During November Man almost all the speakers besides the front two didn’t work, and worse, they had the front two cranked and it sounded like crap. During some movies, due to them going all digital with no projectionist when the film would start it would have no sound or no picture. Plus one of the most annoying things is the fact that they cram so many Coka-Cola and Microsoft ads at the start of every movie that it feels like your watching network TV! But to be fair for every bad experience, I have had way more good and that’s why it’s still my favorite theater. So let’s take a seat here at the Rotten Ink Theater lobby and let’s talk films of 2014!

Rotten Ink Cinema Lobby 2014Let’s get those bad films out of the way first, the ones that I left the theater wondering why film or even digital pixels were wasted on making them! So let’s take out this stinky trash before it smells up the joint! This year since I didn’t go and see one or two films a week, I was lucky enough to miss many stinkers but here are at least two that left a fowl smell in the theater.

WORST copy

# 2

300 Rise of an Empire

A direct follow up to 300 takes place at the same time and after the events of the first film, and instead of land battles, it’s mostly all about water warfare. Themistocles and his brave warriors go to war at sea with Xerxes and his evil sister Artemisia all for the glory of Greece. The film has some fun over the top boat battles and even a few sword to sword fights, but many times the action is pure cheese and some of the green screen effects look as if it was a made for the Sy-Fy Channel film. The scene that has Themistocles riding a horse from boat to boat and throwing fire is down right silly and mind numbingly bad. Highlights include a naked Eva Green who plays Artemisia. Over all, it’s a very poor follow up to the original and was a bland sword and sandal film. The film grossed $106,580,051.00 at the US Box Office for Warner Brothers.

# 1

Million Ways To Die In The West

This film just plan sucked! I saw it with my pal Jeremy Hoyt with a theater semi-full of people, and hardly no one laughed and many groans were heard at the poor attempts at humor. The film follows sheep farmer Albert Stark, who is a weak man with no backbone and no shooting skills, that is until he meets Anna, the wife of a gunslinger outlaw who has set his sights on killing Albert who has fallen in love with his wife! It’s up to Anna to help Albert get a backbone and survive not only a fight with her husband but that also with his ex-girlfriend’s mustachioed boyfriend. The film was written, directed and starred Seth McFarlane, who is a one trick pony with his gross and pop culture humor. So in other words, if you think fart jokes are top of the line comedy than Seth wrote this one for you. The film’s only real highlights are cameos from celebrities playing famous characters they have played in past Western films like Christopher Lloyd as Doc Brown from Back To The Future Part III! At the US box office, this film brought in $43,139,300 for Universal. I hope they don’t make a sequel to this film…as the thought makes my brain hurt.

Those were the only bad films I saw in theater, but I should also note that I saw two really bad ones that went direct to video like Wolf Creek 2 and Dario Argento’s Dracula 3-D. But let’s not inhale any more of this stinky trash!

Wolf Creek 2Trash CanArgentos Dracula 3D

Up second, we are going to take a look at action.  While last year we called it 80’s action, this year we are going to add more into it besides films starring aging action stars; plus I am going to add action thrillers into this category. So get your Rambo headband ready because I am about to tell you my top 6 action packed films of 2014!

80s action copy

# 6

sabotage

Arnold Schwarzenegger geared up in this action thriller film that was pretty solid even though it had many plot holes. Breacher is the leader of an elite DEA team.  His wife was murdered by drug lords in Mexico, and he has his team steal money from their busts. When $10 million goes missing from one of their heists, the DEA turns up the heat and disbands the team. But when members of the team are starting to be murdered off, the team must figure out who is killing them and what happened to the money they stole that went missing. The film takes many twists and turns; it also has a solid line up of supporting actors like Joe Manganiello, Terrence Howard and Mireille Enos and some great gun play that all help add to the over all action film feel. The film sadly did very poorly at the box office grossing only $10,508,518.00 in the US for Open House Films, but both Juliet and I enjoyed it.

# 5

The Equalizer

Who doesn’t like seeing Denzel Washington kicking ass and taking names? This action drama follows Robert McCall, a retired black ops agent who is now working at a home improvement store after his wife’s passing. He comes out of retirement and takes on the Russian Mafia when his young friend Alina is beaten badly by her pimp who happens to be a Mafia member.  The bodies pile up as Robert takes the war to the streets and to crime that he witnesses. It’s a fun action flick based on the old 80’s TV show on CBS, that has Robert killing scum bags with all types of weapons from guns to hammers. Denzel is fantastic as is Chloe Grace Moretz who plays Alina.  In fact I think Chloe is an actress to keep an eye on because if Hollywood gives her the roles, she will pull them off. If you want to see scum bags get what they deserve at the hands of a man who knows no fear, then check this one out! The film did pretty well at the US box office and grossed $99,306,000.00 for Sony. I saw this film with pal David J. Getz, who was way too hard on it and took the stand of Denzel being to old to be an action star, and to that I say he’s wrong!

# 4

november man

The November Man is an action thriller that stars former James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan who plays Peter Devereaux, a retired CIA agent who must go head to head with his former protege David Mason when a large plot involving a Russian general and a young female witness to crimes he has committed’s life is in danger. Throw in a hit woman who has been hired to kill her and you have a race to find out the truth and who is the real bad guy! One thing I like about the film is the good guy Devereaux is not a real nice guy as he lies and even hurts innocent people to make things go his way, but with that said he has his reasons and over all he truly is a “good” guy. Pierce Brosnan is fantastic in the role of Devereaux, and that’s what makes this over all average film a heck of a lot better. Sadly this is the movie that when Jeremy and I saw it at the theater, only the front speakers were working and to “fix” it when Jeremy told them, they turned up the front ones louder…doh! The film grossed $25,018,119.00 for Relativity via the US box office.

# 3

John WickThis was the surprise action hit of the year for me as I can safely say that I really enjoyed every bullet riddled moment! Keanu Reeves plays John Wick, a one time enforcer for a crime family who has retired to spend time with his wife who passes away from an illness. After her death, she leaves John a puppy and together they morn the loss. But when the son of the crime lord makes the mistake of stealing John’s car and killing his dog, they awaken “The Boogeyman” who will not stop till the son is dead. What follows next is nonstop action that felt like a video game come to life as bullets and fights break out in clubs and hotels, all ending in deaths! Plus it was funny to see WWF Superstar Kevin Nash in a small role, not to mention the supporting cast was also fantastic with names like William Dafoe, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Adrianne Palicki and John Leguizamo all doing great performances for an over the top action film like this. The film did pretty well for Lionsgate at the US box office, grossing in $40,649,000.00 and bringing them in a profit. This is a movie I will buy on DVD when it’s released to show to Juliet and my parents.

# 2

Expendables 3

My favorite action star of all time, Sylvester Stallone, returns as Barney Ross for The Expendables 3.  The film has Barney disbanding his old crew when he finds out that Conrad Stonebanks, an old teammate turned enemy, is still alive when Hale Caesar is injured by him in a raid. Barney turns to his pal Bonaparte to get a younger crew that consist of such actors as Kellan Lutz, Rhonda Rousey, Victor Ortiz and Glen Powell, and when they go after Conrad and fail and become his prisoners, it’s up to Barney and his old crew to save them and stop Conrad once and for all. This film has a paper thin plot but is heavy on the action! It was nice to see Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Randy Couture, Terry Crews, Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger all return for a third time. Plus the addition of other classic action stars like Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, Wesley Snipes and Antonio Banderas (who steals the movie) was a nice way to spice up the cast. The new crew sadly are all forgettable besides Rhonda Rousey, who is a great looking tough UFC chick who can rock a red dress and bash a head in and look fantastic doing it. Not as great as the other two films in the series, but still a solid action flick that sadly did poorly at the US box office for Lionsgate only bringing in $39,322,544.00, but thank God the overseas viewers loved it where it brought in $166,850,000.00! Here is to hoping Sly will give this franchise a break and focus on a new Rambo film…or a sequel to Cobra.

# 1

Walk Among The Tombstones

A Walk Among The Tombstones is a film that mixes many genres together and does so really well; it takes elements from Action, Horror, Thriller and Drama and sprinkles in elements like Noir, Detective and Serial Killer. The film follows former cop now unlicensed private detective Matthew Scudder, who takes a case that involves kidnapping, ransom and murder, and once he’s involved he becomes a player in this sick and twisted game set up by a group of killers. Along the way he meets a young boy on the streets who becomes his somewhat partner and helps him stop the killings and expose the identities of the killers. I really dug this film and enjoyed the fact that it was a Noir Action film that kept me on the edge of my seat.  Plus the film’s killers are true scum of the earth! I saw this film with a pretty packed house and with my friend Jeremy, and you could hear many people talking at the end about how much they liked it. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, and the story has some surprises that are best left for you to discover when you watch it. The film did pretty bad at the US box office bringing in a total of $26,307,600.00 for Universal on a budget of $28 Million, and that’s a shame cause this film was pretty badass!

Liam beating Sly on my top action films, I would have NEVER seen that coming! So we whooped some ass with action now let’s get our nerd minds a good workout as we take a look at my top four Sci-Fi and Fantasy films! So charge up your Lightsaber and set you phasers to stun, we are talking Science Fiction now.

SciFi

# 4

transformers age of extinction

I hate to say it, but I really enjoyed Transformers: Age Of Extinction in the theater while eating popcorn, drinking a blue Icee with my gal Juliet.  That says a lot for me because I was by no means a fan of the other three films in this series directed by Michael Bay. This one’s plot is simple; the people of Earth have turned on the Autobots and have ruled it open season on killing them and taking the bodies away to be studied to see if we could create ones that would become weapons of war. When the Yeager family find and help Optimus Prime, they become the target of the CIA, and worse, Megatron is back in the form of Galvatron! Can Optimus and the remaining Autobots stop them from ruining the world..well of course they can! The film is packed with stupid robot one liners, wall to wall over the top action and the worst cameos for the Dinobots ever, who only have a few minutes on screen and are a waste of film as they really add nothing to the story. The film scored big for Paramount at the US box office bringing in $245,439,076.00 and when adding in foreign gross, it did over a billion dollars! So if you don’t mind checking your brain in at the door and want to see Mark Wahlberg team up with Optimus Prime, then this Sci-Fi Action film is for you.

# 3

Robocop

I generally dislike remakes of classic films, and when I heard Sony was remaking Robocop, my eyes rolled and I thought here we go again another heartless retelling all for the sake of a quick buck. But after seeing Robocop the week it came out, I must admit I was wrong and I think the people who made this film really tried to capture the feel of the original and update it all at the same time. This time around Alex Murphy is a cop on a mission, and when going after a crime boss he is blown up via a car bomb. OmniCorp, who create robots to fight wars, wants to make a super cop and use Murphy as the test subject and create Robocop! And once he gets revenge on those who originally set him up, he also soon finds that Raymond Sellars, the CEO of OmniCorp, is not a very nice man and wants Robocop shutdown for good when he finds he can’t control his mind and looks at him as nothing more than a computer. Can Robocop stop the evil corporation? Will his wife and son accept him? Will Raymond succeed in pulling the plug? All these questions are answered in this fun PG-13 action romp. Joel Kinnaman plays Robocop/Alex and does a pretty good job, but he is no Peter Weller. The supporting cast is also fantastic with such names as Michael Keaton, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson and Jackie Earle Haley. The film did weak in the USA box office grossing $58,607,007.00 making the film a miss for Sony. It’s a shame; I would have liked to have seen a part two.

# 2

maleficent

Maleficent was fantastic ,and when seeing it in IMAX 3D, I felt like a kid again watching a Disney take on a fairy tale unfold before my eyes. My favorite animated Disney film has always been Sleeping Beauty so when I heard they were doing a live action film based around the villain Maleficent my interest was peeked. The film follows Maleficent, who is a fairy, and when a human boy misleads her and cuts off her wings to gain power in the nearby kingdom, she turns mean and waits for her revenge on the day the boy is now King and is going to have his first child.  Maleficent places a curse on the child to sleep forever until true loves kiss awakens her on her 16th birthday. But the film takes a twist as we see that Maleficent ends up befriending the young Princess and wants to try and undue the curse but can she do it? And worse the King has sent his whole army to kill her. This family fun flick was amazing and added so much more depth to the Maleficent character.  Plus Angelina Jolie does a top notch job as the “evil” fairy Maleficent. The special effects are top of the line with the fairy moors being breathtaking, as is the dragon that appears to help her in her fight against the army. The film did really well for Disney at the US box office, grossing in $241,381,217.00 and proving that the classic characters never go out of style. If you have not seen this film, you should check it out.

# 1

dawn of planet of the apes

The Planet of the Apes films have always been some of my favorite Sci-Fi films to watch, and these new films being made by Fox are just as great as the originals! This second film in the rebooted series follows Caesar, the leader of the ape population trying to work alongside the remaining humans who have survived a mass sickness that killed off most of the population.  This team up pisses off primate Koba who was abused by man many years back, and he sets a plan in motion where he makes an attempt at Caesar’s life sparking a war with the humans and apes. But can an injured Caesar stop the war or is it too late? The film’s special effects are top notch and throughout the whole movie, you forget that the apes are CGI! Plus with actors like Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, Keri Russell and Kirk Acevedo playing the humans, you know you’re getting sold acting. My favorite ape in the film has to be Koba; he is so bad yet somehow I think he really thought he was doing good by starting the war and killing any man or ape that got in his way! This was one of the films I was most looking forward to this year, and it was by no means a letdown as I loved every minute of it! The film was a hit for Fox and grossed $208,532,326.00 here in the United States showing that people still love seeing a world run by primates!

I saw a few other films that fit this genre this year that were entertaining but just couldn’t make the cut for this list: “Lucy” starring Scarlett Johansson, a film about a drug that allows a woman to use 100% of her brain after she is used as a mule to smuggle it to the USA when it’s surgically placed into her body.  When the bag leaks she becomes less and less human. “Pompeii” is about the town that was covered in lava and ash via an erupting volcano and follows a gladiator who has fallen in love with a young woman of power, and it turns into a tragic love story starring the likes of Kit Harington, Kiefer Sutherland and Emily Browning. “Legend of Hercules” is about a clean cut son of Zeus who is more of a gladiator than the hero we all know and love. All are entertaining movies in their own right but none were strong enough to make the list.

LucyPompeiilegend of hercules

So let’s trade our phasers in for capes as we now take a look at my top 7 Superhero films of 2014, and man I must say that films based on comics are dominating the box office and shows that comics are more powerful money makers then any company could have ever imagined.

SUPER HERO copy# 7

sin city a dame to kill for

This follow up to Sin City was laced with all the same techniques that wowed audiences upon it’s release in 2005 and even brought back many of the actors from the first film. Sadly it tanked at the box office and put the nail in the coffin for this series. The film follows many stories from Marv, who can’t remember why he killed a bunch of rich brats, to Dwight McCarthy falling for a woman who is using him and many others to get what she wants. There is also a story line of a lucky gambler named Johnny who tests his luck against corrupt Senator Roark and stripper Nancy who wants to kill Roark for crimes he committed in the first film. All the stories come together in the end and all ends well for some, while others end up dead.  The film was a lot of fun and not nearly as bad as many critics would have you think, but as I said it bombed and only did $13,757,804.00 at the box office for Dimension Films. The film also has an all star cast like Josh Brolin, Micky Rourke, Bruce Willis, Eva Green, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Powers Boothe, Rosario Dawson, Christopher Lloyd and Jessica Alba to name a few.

# 6

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I was very lukewarm on the idea of a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie that was a reboot to the series done by those masters of butchering of childhood memories, Platinum Dunes. But I must say the film was way better than I could ever expect it to be, and while it is flawed with a cheesy script and a Shredder who looks more like he should be in Transformers, the Turtles’ banter is well done even if they look like steroid goofy faced mutants. The film follows the Turtles who are going up against the foot clan who are tormenting New York and even have a plan in motion that will poison and kill many thanks to a gas they will be pumping into the air.  Alongside April O’Neil, the Turtles clash with the foot and their leader The Shredder, and of course along the way we learn about Master Splinter as well as a connection they all have to April. Again the film is flawed, but I enjoyed checking my brain at the door and watching a comic book/cartoon inspired film that tried to keep some of the basics of source material and also tried to add more of an update to it for modern fans. For me I would put it on par with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III and say while bad, it was fun to watch. The film did pretty solid numbers at the US box office for Paramount bringing in $191,204,754.00!

# 5

Hercules

I am pretty sure many people who went to seen Hercules had no idea that it was based on a comic book from Radical Comics and to be honest, much like my cousin Steve Alexander said, this is truly one of the year’s most underrated films. The film stars WWF Superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Hercules, a mercenary who alongside his friends are creating the legend of Hercules, the son of Zeus. But when he finds out that he was hired to help the wrong side in a conflict, he and his friends stand against the odds and leave everyone wondering if he truly is the son of a God. The film is filled with great Sword and Sandal action as well as likable characters; this is one film I would have loved to seen sequels made about. The Rock as well does a fantastic job as Hercules and pulls off the role of being maybe a con man yet maybe not, making the character tough when needed and light hearted when the mood is right. The film sadly did not do as well as it should have and grossed only $72,688,614.00 for Paramount at the US box office. With the film being out on DVD and Blu-Ray, do yourself a favor and check it out.

# 4

Amazing Spider-Man 2

I feel like Amazing Spider-Man 2 was judged way too hard by critics and fans who seemed to want to try and nitpick it to death.  I for one really enjoyed it and found it better than the overblown Spider-Man 2 made by Sam Raimi that I think was praised way too much by fans and critics. This time around Spider-Man is locking horns with three super villains who are all gunning to take Spidey down for the count! You have the Rhino, a man in mechanical suit who feels as if he has been wronged by Spider-Man; you have Electro, a man who was a one time Spider-Man fan who after an accident finds that he has the power of electricity; and Green Goblin, who is really his long time friend Harry Osborne who is slipping into madness! And worse as Peter Parker is having issues coming to terms with the death of his girlfriend’s father to whom he made a promise that has him staying away from her. Action, Drama and Spider-Man one liners help make this one a good Super Hero film! Andrew Garfield is fantastic as Spider-Man, and Emma Stone makes one hell of a Gwen Stacy. The strangest casting had to be Paul Giamatti as The Rhino…his performance is down right silly! The film did pretty well for Sony at the US box office grossing in $202,853,933.00 even though they try and act as if it wasn’t a hit for them. I for one am looking forward to Amazing Spider-Man 3 as well as the spin off Sinister Six movie.

# 3

guardians of the galaxy

Guardians Of The Galaxy is the Marvel Comic team that showed the world that you don’t have to be a triple A team to have a hit movie! The film is about Starlord, a goofball outlaw who teams up with other misfits of space like the living tree Groot, talking raccoon Rocket, psycho brute Drax The Destroyer and green skinned female assassin Gamora to protect a infinity stone from getting into the hands of Ronan The Accuser, who is an evil Kree alien who is back stabbing the powerful Thanos in order to collect the jewel and become all powerful. The movie has lots of sci-fi action, drama and comedy and has some of the most likeable characters of any movie this year! Plus I really liked Ronan as a bad guy, and he is a prime example of a cold blooded super villain who will kill whomever gets in his way. When Juliet and I went to see this movie in the theater, it was a pretty packed house and it was clear that everyone in that theater that day had a blast watching it.  The overly positive remarks of people leaving their seats when it was over was a clear sign that Disney and Marvel Studios did something very right. The film did fantastic for Disney at the US box office grossing in an impressive $332,309,276.00 making this a huge hit. If you have not seen this film yet, do yourself a favor and check it out!

# 2

captain america winter

Captain America is one of my favorite Super Hereos of all time and has been ever since I was a kid.  This second film from Disney and Marvel Studios was a fun kick butt action film laced with enough drama to make the film feel very important in the over all movie universe they are creating. This time around Captain America, Black Widow and Nick Fury have became a target by a group controlled by a very high official in America, and they even bring Cap’s old World War II buddy Bucky Barns back from the “dead” and call him Winter Solider, a well trained killing machine. Can Captain America stop this evil group and talk sense into his one time friend? Watch and find out! While the original film was set during World War II, this second film takes place in modern times right after the events of The Avengers and trades in Red Skull for The Winter Solider and does a nice job of making the odds looking against Cap at every twist and turn. I must say Christ Evans makes the perfect Captain America/Steve Rogers and who would have thought that was possible? The film did great for Disney grossing in a massive $259,766,572.00 at the US box office. If your a fan of the star spangled Avenger like myself, make sure to give this film a watch.

# 1

X-Men Days Of The Future Past

The X-Men films, as well as the spin offs like “First Class” and “Wolverine,” are fun comic book action films that make for some amazing popcorn munching theater watches, and “X-Men: Days Of The Future Past” was just that and more as I found it to be my favorite Comic Book film of 2014! I know what those of you who know me are saying, the X-Men beat Captain America? But let me tell you, while Cap was amazing, X-Men was a fun thrill ride filled with some great faces from the franchise’s past. The film follows the future where mutants are being hunted and killed by Sentinels made by Bolivar Trask, and their only hope is to send Wolverine to the past to unite the mutants and stop an event that triggered the mutants’ death sentence. The whole mess is started by the younger Mystique, so can Professor X and Magneto put aside their differences and stop the terrible events to happen in the future…watch and find out. The film is based on one of Marvel Comics’ top story lines for the X-Men and FOX did a fantastic job of making it come alive on the big screen. The film stars all the classic characters from the series rich history with many actors returning such as Patrick Stewart (Professor X), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Ian McKellen (Magneto), Halle Berry (Storm), Shawn Ashmore (Ice Man), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus) and Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde) all returning from the first three films as well as actors who played the younger characters in First Class like James McAvoy (Professor X), Michael Fassbender (Magneto), Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) and Nicholas Hoult as Beast. Not to mention the addition of new characters like Bishop, Quicksilver, Blink, Sunspot and Warpath. I don’t want to ruin the end but let’s just say it feels like a High School Reunion, and all the faces you see are ones that make you smile and feel good about the journey you made to get there. The film did pretty well for Fox at the USA Box Office grossing in $233,921,534.00 and even more overseas! While I like the First Class actors, I am hoping that the next film based on The Age of Apocalypse story will feature more of the originals.

So now that we are retiring the cape, let me talk a little about some cool things Game Swap Kettering did this year for me.  They allowed us to have private screenings of Baron Von Porkchop specials. The first one was near Halloween, and we set up a projector, screen and big speaker as well as a buffet of wings, pizza, chips and cookies. Friends in attendance included Juliet, Stephen Alexander, Maurice, Joe G, Garrison, Todd The Fox and V and we all watched Baron host White Zombie as he tried to enjoy a peaceful Halloween that’s interrupted by an ax murdering zombie named Fulci! They also got a sneak peak at an episode for season three that has Baron hosting the film Face Of The Screaming Werewolf. Then around Thanksgiving we did it again, and they got a sneak peek at the new Baron Von Porkchop Black Friday special where he hosted the Independent B Movie film Razor as well as the First Black Friday special whose film was Farmer Joe. Those specials has his feud with a Chicken Man he made that has become a thorn in the Baron’s side. But a big thank you goes to Game Swap in Kettering for allowing us to do these fun screenings. Whenever I get a bigger place to live with a basement I would love to start a Horror Host Fan Club that has meetings once every two months and we project and watch host shows…who knows maybe 2015 will be that year! Below is a cellphone pic from the Halloween episode screening.

Baron Von Porkchop Screening

So while doing a rundown of the films of 2014, I figured I would take a brief moment to give you my top three best Survival Horror Games of 2014 as well as the worst, because those of you who know me understand that I love to play a good solid Survival Horror game! Now I need to state that of the “modern” game systems, I have a PS3 and will soon get a PS4 so all games on the list are ones I got for PS3. I also want to say that the games I buy are on physical disc, and I do not download games so while many horror themed games did come out as digital only games, I have not played them and won’t unless a disc is released.  I like to own what I pay for. So let’s start off with what I found to be the worst of the horror games that came out in 2014 that I have played. And I won’t ramble much I promise…okay, maybe a little rambling.

Worst Horror Video Games

# 1

Escape Dead Island PS3

Escape Dead Island is one of those games that just reeks of a quick cash in with boring fighting mechanics as well as a storyline that is a little weak. This game follows Cliff, a party boy who wants to get his dad’s respect so he goes to the island of a zombie outbreak along with his friends Linda and Devan and finds out that the stories are true and zombies are running wild on the island! Along the way he also meets Xian, a woman who is looking for her friend Rob who went missing while getting intel on the corporation responsible for the outbreak. While the other two games in the series “Dead Island” and “Dead Island Riptide” are first person shooters, this game changed to a third person game.  In the two games that came before you could customize your weapons multiple ways, and in this game your weapons are very limited and barely upgradeable. Plus I can’t help but notice the style of animation is clearly trying to rip off Tell Tale Games’s style with the more cartoonish look. Over all this is not a bottom of the barrel game, but it’s close.

So now that I spoke about the “worst” Horror Game this year that I would more label at “weakest,” let’s move onto what I considered the three best games that helped make 2014 a pretty good year for horror themed games!

Best Horror Video Games Logo

# 3

Alien Isolation PS3

After the complete mess that was “Aliens: Colonial Marians,” Sega redeemed themselves with this fun moody game that allows the player to take control of Amanda Ripley, the daughter of Ellen who travels to a space station that has been sending out distress signals.  Once she gets there, things go wrong as she is separated from her small crew and finds that Xenomorphs are on the prowl and hungry for a human host! The game stacks the odds against you, and the player must use their wits in order to survive this terror in space. The downside to the game is that I felt it took forever for the story to really kick in and that slowed the scares from coming in. The game is a first person shooter and plays much like Call of Duty and so many other shooters like this. I must also say that some of the cut scene graphics are really ugly on PS3, and it’s clear that the development team spent more time on the newer generation consoles versions. A major plus for this game comes via DLC that allows you to play as Ellen and has many of the original characters from the first film like Dallas and Ash back, and they are voiced by the actors who played them in the film! While not a perfect game, it was a fun game that helped make 2014 in gaming a little spookier!

# 2

The Walking Dead Season Two PS3

The Walking Dead Season Two is a great follow up to Season One and helps add more to the story it created. This is a point and click adventure game made by one of the best independent game companies, Tell Tale Games, who have made some of my top favorite games of the past 4 years and this game adds another hit to the list. This time around we follow Clementine (who was a major character in the first game), a young girl who is trying to survive this zombie outbreak.  Along the way she meets people and she loses people all of whom are running from Carver, a man that use to lead them in a group.  All comes to a head when she meets Carver herself, a jerk of a man who runs a camp that is held up in a home improvement center and who takes Clem and her friends hostage and makes them work for the group’s needs putting them in danger. Your choices impact the story so when playing make sure to choose wisely. One cool aspect of this game is some returning faces from the first game as well as references to choices you made. The downside is the new characters seem to have less development then those from the original and the settings are a little less impactful as in the first game I truly felt like I could be zombie food at any moment. But with that said, this is a great game and one hell of a fun play.  So if you liked the first or just want to play a fun story driven point and click adventure horror game, then this one is for you.

# 1

The Evil Within PS3Take video games Resident Evil, Silent Hill and Clock Tower and mix them with Horror films like As Above So Below, and you have the new Survival Horror Game by Shinji Mikami, the mastermind behind the original Resident Evil series as well as Dino Crisis! This game is about Sebastian Castellanos, a detective who along with his partners Juli and Joseph, go to a distress call at the Beacon Mental Hospital.  When they get there, everything is in chaos and the world as they know it has changed and infected people and monsters are wandering the world above as well as below. Can Sebastion get to the bottom of what’s going on as well as unearth the truth of why and who is responsible! The game is packed with great atmosphere and at all times I feel as if the odds are against me as ammo comes in only ones and twos and most the time it’s better to run than to fight. So if you’re not too scared, get this game and beware of Safehead!

It was very hard to pick between Evil Within and The Walking Dead Season Two for the # 1 spot as both are solid and super fun games, but in the end I had to go with Evil Within as I felt that it truly captured what a Survival Horror Game is all about and at all times I felt as if the odds of survival were against me. One game that came out that while I bought I have not played yet is Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow 2, so who knows where it would have placed.

Castlevania Lords Of Shadow 2 PS3

So we talked a little about screenings of Horror Host Baron Von Porkchop as well as Survival Horror Video Games, now let’s get to the bloody meat of this update and take a look at the Horror Films of Hollywood!

horror copy

# 11

Tusk

Tusk was so close to being on my worst films of the year list as once more Kevin Smith smoked a bunch of pot and unleashed another over the top film onto the small masses who still watch his films. But then I read some interviews with Smith and he explained that he wanted to make this film because he wanted to and not for a studio or for quick cash.  I began to see that the film is labor of love much like the film The Wolf Hunter is to Matt Hoffman. It’s about a podcast host who travels to Canada for an interview with a kid who is a Youtube sensation after cutting off his own leg with a samurai sword.  When he gets there, he finds the kid has committed suicide, and he then travels to an old mansion to talk to an old man who has a story to tell or so the letter left in a mens room says. The rest of this film has the old man turning the podcaster into a human walrus as his co-host and his girlfriend try to find and save him.  Oh yeah and throw in a dimwitted investigator, and you have the film. When the podcaster is turned into full Walrus, I laughed out loud in the theater and thought to myself what and why am I watching this! I should also note that Juliet and I were the only people at the theater watching this film at the time. It stars Justin Long, Johnny Depp, Haley Joel Osment and Michael Parks and all do fantastic with the silly parts they are given. Again when you see Long, who plays the podcaster, as a walrus you can’t help but to laugh as he swims and grunts around. The film did poorly for A24 and only grossed $1,826,705.00 and didn’t even get a foreign release. If you are to watch this cheesy thriller/comedy horror film check your brain at the door and be prepared for long goofy dialogue and unlikable characters.

# 10

the pyramid

Hollywood horror films are lacking mummies, and when The Pyramid was announced I was hyped believing that we got a mummy film in 2014…I was sadly wrong. I first need to say that I was hyped to see this film and was ready for a creepy Egyptian found footage film taking place in an old pyramid where the viewer was not sure what was stalking our characters.  So when this film was a disappointment, I think it’s because of my own hype I made for it. The hype I made for it was the fact it was the last theatrical horror film of the year and again the setting and the possibility of it being about a Mummy. The film is about a father and daughter team as well as her boyfriend being followed by a documentary crew who are in Egypt during stressful times who find a pyramid that could be the oldest one ever found.  When they are told to leave due to the outbreak of civil uprising, they send in a robot real quick to get a sneak peek and when the bot looses contact, they go in to retrieve it and soon find the pyramid was a place to keep something in and not things out! One by one, they fall victim to the hunter who is a jackal headed god who has been placed there because it went mad after the death of its father. Can any of them survive and can they also dodge the evil cats that are roaming around…yeah the film has evil cats. The characters all seem brain dead with the cameraman and father being the worst two.  The CGI for the cats and jackal god are downright eye rolling, and the film was just kind of boring.  I was not the only one who felt this as Juliet and several others in the theater also expressed these feelings. The film was pulled from wide release to limited, and we had to see it at the Regal Cinema in Beavercreek.  Doing this made the film only gross a small $ 2,638,300.00 for FOX at the US box office. No Mummy but a heck of a lot of CGI Cats is what I got in The Pyramid.

# 9

Ouija

Ouija is a film based on the Hasbro board game and produced by those masters of crap Platinum Dunes.  It’s your typical paint by number ghost story. When a young woman commits suicide, her friends don’t believe it and soon find that she was messing with a Ouija Board on her own and had unleashed something terrible, but they only learn this after they themselves use the board to try and speak to her. Now the evil is after them, can they find the answers on how to stop the spirit or will they all become victims? No major gore, some cool spirit effects, some good creepy shots, pretty actresses, released at Halloween time and a fun film to torment my friend Jeremy with as he had to be dragged to this film kicking and screaming! The film did $50,856,010.00 for Universal and is clearly a teen PG-13 horror film that was nothing special and not fully terrible.

# 8

The Quiet Ones

The Quiet Ones is a Hammer Horror Film that follows a camera man who takes the job of documenting a college professor who, along with his helpers, are trying to cure a sick and possessed young woman named Jane whom they have locked in a room and wont allow her to sleep for any long period of time as well as keep her human interaction to a minimum. But when her treatments become more and more cruel, the camera man must come to a decision on whether to help Jane escape who he has fallen for or stay true to his assignment as the Professor thinks she can be cured. So is she possessed or being abused…watch and find out. The film is a little slow and while well acted for the most part, many decisions characters make are annoying and add to frustration as a viewer. Olivia Cooke plays Jane, the sick girl, and she is fantastic and probably the best actor in the film. I saw the film with Stephen, Garrison, Todd and Josh, and all of us felt the same way about it and that’s it was okay but way too slow and a little too long as a good 15 minutes could easily be cut out of the 1 Hour 38 minute run time. The film at the US box office brought in $8,509.867.00 for Lionsgate.  All I can say was much like Ouija, it was just okay.

# 7

deliver us from evil

A group of soldiers from Iraq have come back and are acting very aggressive and all have strange behavior. New York cop Ralph Sarchie is called in to investigate the crimes and soon learns the truth that demons are real and want to teach him a lesson for butting into their plans. Along with a Castilian priest, he must find faith and save the souls of the infected as well as save his wife who has been kidnapped by the possessed. It also shows that Sarchie is gifted and can spot evil. The film is said to be based on a real case and the real life of Sarchie. The film stars Eric Bana as Sarchie as well as the likes of Olivua Munn, Sean Harris and Edgar Ramirez with music by Christopher Young. The film was nothing special and for the most part is a run of the mill possession film with no surprises and a few gross moments. I watched the film with Jeremy and watching him go crazy with the overly religious tone of the movie made me laugh. The film didn’t do so hot at the box office only grossing in $30,577,122.00 for Sony on a 30 million dollar budget in the US. Not much more to say about this one, besides if you’ve seen one modern possession movie, ya pretty much have seen em all.  It’s not bad and has some good creepy moments – worth a watch to fans of this horror film topic boom.

# 6

Godzilla

I have been a fan of Godzilla since I was a kid and can remember watching the films all the time on TBS on Super Scary Saturday hosted by Grandpa Munster. But when Godzilla is made by Americans, it tends to not be so good; I mean just look at the over blown 1998 film that Hollywood spewed out to the fans that seemed like it was made more to sell toys and Taco Bell Cups than to entertain the movie goers. So when Warner Brothers said they were releasing a Godzilla film, I was stand offish even though in the back of my mind I was scream YES, a new Godzilla film on the big screen,  The more time passed and after seeing the trailer I became very hyped to watch it! The film has an accident that happens at a power planet in Japan that’s caused by a giant monster who is looking for its mate and when it wakes up it causes havoc and destruction.  As this is going on a US Solider is trying to get home to his family, and Godzilla has come from the sea and is on a path to clash with the other two monsters. You see Godzilla is acting as Earth’s protector! The human parts are what they always are in my opinion in giant monster films, and that’s filler. The major flaw I had with the film is more time is spent on the boring solider trying to get home and less on Godzilla who is why we all went to see this film in the theater. I must also say the shaky camera and pull away shots of the early monster fights was annoying and didn’t add suspense for me as much as it added frustration. Even with those small flaws I really enjoyed the film for the most part and am looking forward to part two as well as the announced Japanese Godzilla film in the works. The film did great for WB at the US box office bringing in a whooping $200,676,069.00, making it a hit for them this year.

# 5

i frankenstein

Frankenstein’s Monster was back on the silver screen this year with an Action Horror film called I, Frankenstein that followed The Monster who was a pawn in a war between Heaven and Hell who need him to find the secrets of life created by man and not God. The good side is gargoyles who at first want to protect or kill The Monster, and the Demons who are working for evil and they want him to study and make soulless husks so demons straight from hell can take over the bodies of the newly made soulless bodies. But what none of them counted on is that The Monster is a fighter, and he will be pawn to no man or creature! The film has a real Underworld feel to it, and the action is fun and over the top, plus for the most part is well acted. I think this film is pretty underrated and was judged way too much just by the trailer, the fact it’s PG-13 and that Aaron Eckhart plays The Monster. The film did terrible at the US box office and only grossed $19,075,290.00 for Lionsgate on a $65 Million Dollar budget, and it’s a shame as it’s not at all that bad of a film.

# 4

As Above So Below

As Above So Below is a “found footage” style film that follows Scarlett, an alchemy scholar who wants to find the famed philosopher’s stone that is said to be able to heal the sick and dying among other amazing things. She follows clues and finds that the entrance to achieving her goal is inside the catacombs below Paris, and along with her camera man and friend they hire some local urban explorers and find that this quest is more then they bargained for as they face sins of their past and find the gateway to Hell. This film was packed with some solid acting and atmosphere that was downright spooky and well done unlike The Pyramid that had a very similar type of feel. All the characters are likable and while they do make some dumb decisions, I still found myself hoping they all make it out okay. The film is by no means a bloodbath but what it lacks in the red stuff, it makes up for with heart and mood. I saw this film with Juliet, Todd The Fox and V, and we all left the theater thinking the film worked and was okay. Universal released this film and at the US box office it grossed in $21,321,100.00 on a $5 million budget. If you are a fan of the found footage horror genre then make sure to check this one out, oh yeah liked this one so much even bought the DVD when it was released.

# 3

The Purge Anarchy

The first Purge film was my # 9 horror film of 2013 out of thirteen and while I enjoyed it, I found it lost among many other solid horror pictures. The sequel The Purge: Anarchy in my opinion is a way better film and that’s why it’s locked itself as the 3rd best Horror film I saw in theaters in 2014! The film follows a man named Leo who is going out to purge a man who killed his son in a drinking and driving accident, but he gets side tracked from his task when he saves a mother and daughter as well as a young couple all of whom are being targeted by what seems like a government elite team hired to reduce the population not to mention a rag tag bunch of mask and makeup wearing youngsters who have set their eyes on them as well. Leo does his best to keep them all alive as well as get to his goal. The film is filled with surprises as well as a positive message in the end and that’s why I think I enjoyed it so much.  It was not your typical modern downbeat horror flick. The film is also well acted with actors like Frank Grillo, Cameron Ejogo and Zach Gilford. The film did great for Universal at the box office here in America grossing in $71,962,800.00 and making it that a part 3 is in the works. More action and suspense then the original and a solid good sequel, check it out if you liked the first one. I saw it with Juliet who also really liked it!

# 2

anabelle

The Conjuring was my # 1 Horror film of 2013, and this off shoot titled Annabelle is my # 2 for 2014 showing you that the makers of this film series are doing something right. It’s the 1960’s and satanic cults are all the rage, and a young couple is attacked in their home by cult members that leave the would be attackers dead.  When the female attacker dies in the baby’s room holding the Annabelle doll the odd events start happening. It gets so bad that something seems to be trying to hurt the woman and her unborn baby, even at one point setting the house on fire! After the baby is born, they move and find that whatever it is followed as the doll the cult woman held when dying is possessed by a demon who wants to take a soul real bad! Can they get rid of the demon before it’s too late? The Annabelle doll is the same one used to open The Conjuring and is over all creepy looking.  That’s one thing I really liked about the film, the longer it went on, the more sinister looking the doll became. And while the doll is never seen moving on its own, the dead eyed stare of its porcelain face is what terrified the audience. The demon who is the real baddie of the film is not seen too much, but when he is, it’s effective. This is supposed to be based on a true story and is a nice appetizer for the next Conjuring film that should be out in 2016. The film did well for New Line Cinema at the US box office bringing in $84,273,813.00 making it a hit for them. For some reason the film also seemed to get a lot of hate from Horror fans, but most of the ones I knew who trashed it, I question their taste anyway as they go to see Seth Rogen movies! I saw the film with Juliet, who loved it.

# 1

Dracula Untold

Universal is trying to breath new life into their classic Monsters, and the first on the list was Dracula.  This film, Dracula Untold, is about how Prince Vlad became a vampire! I was really hyped for this film that was set to release in October…yeah finally Hollywood gets that Horror Films and Halloween go hand and hand. The film follows Prince Vlad whose people are being bullied by the Turks and the sultan who want all the male kids to be given to them to become soldiers in the large Turkish army. So Vlad makes a deal with a Vampire that lives in a cave to gain powers to stop the Turks.  By doing so, he is putting his own soul at risk, but he gains the powers to single handedly kick the butt of his enemies. But when things go wrong Vlad goes full vampire, and once he does that, there is no going back. This film is filled with horror and a heck of a lot of action and is really well done. Luke Evans plays Dracula and does so with grace and it’s the first time that I can remember that you find yourself cheering for Dracula as he is not the bad guy and only takes the curse to save his son as well as the sons of all his people. I saw this with Juliet and Jeremy Hoyt, and both of them really enjoyed it as well did all the others in the IMAX Theater as praises were being said as people left. This film ends as well with a lead up to a sequel or to link to another Universal Monster film, and this makes this Monster Kid happy. The film did okay for Universal at the US box office bringing in $55,991,880.00 and did more overseas. If you like your horror mixed with action and enjoy classic monsters, then check this one out, because I really enjoyed it locking it in as my # 1 Horror Film of 2014.

2014 in Horror Films was filled with lots of ghost/possession films, and I have a feeling this trend will continue for awhile as they seem to be films that can be cheaply made and return a big profit. While sitting in the theater this year the two films that I noticed seem to have the audience in it’s grip were Annabelle, that had a few people gasp and jump when the evil things would happen on the silver screen, and As Above So Below where the audience had an eerie hush as the characters went deeper into the catacombs. Ouija had the worse response as people laughed at many of the scares and many of the younger people in the audience seemed to be having a fun time teasing the young ladies with them. 2014 was an okay year for Horror in the theaters, and I for one am looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store to send shivers up my spine. Well the next update is something terrifying as we take a look at another Draculina Photo Comic based on a film of Jess Franco called Tender Flesh! So until then, support your local theaters, read a comic or two and always support your local Horror Host and see you next update.

Tender_flesh_(1998) logo

Spend Halloween With Universal’s Frankenstein’s Monster!

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re having a spooky and chilling good time today. I can hear all the little ghouls and goblins running around outside looking for some free candy. I can also hear all the loud parties and mayhem going on in and around 5th Street. This year for Rotten Ink’s Halloween update we are going to be taking a look at comics based on Frankenstein by Universal that include a very cool Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man one that was translated and put together to be a comic via stickers just for this update! Plus I will be reading these comics alone in an abandoned science lab that’s still filled with lots of odd machines and glass bottles. Not to mention we will also be talking about other fun scary and Halloween related things.  So with the chill in the air and the Jack-O-Lantern lit, let’s open the door to Dr. Frankenstein’s lab and see what’s on the slab!

Halloween Time!!

I’m going to start this update by taking a brief look at Manuel Oritz Partida, a luchador who goes by the ring name Halloween.  So I figured we should at least mention him on an update that goes up on the holiday he is named after! Halloween started his wrestling career in 1990 working for independents in and around Mexico, but he got his big break in 1996 when he signed with WCW and changed his name to Ciclope.  He was a mid-card wrestler for them and had some great matches against the likes of Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio Jr. and Dean Malenko. Once he left WCW, he returned to Mexico and worked for AAA as well as a few independents. Halloween has had many Mask vs. Hair matches and has lost many of them including losing his mask to Super Parka in 1999. After losing the mask, he began painting his face like a Jack-O-Lantern! Throughout his career he has also had many allies that include Damien 666, Super Nova, Extreme Tiger and Mari Apache. At the age of 43 in 2014 he has slowed down some, but Halloween still haunts the rings of Mexico. When I was a teenager I was lucky enough to see Halloween wrestle during a taping of WCW Saturday Night that was at Hara Arena.  If memory serves I think he took on Dean Malenko and lost!

ciclopehalloween LuchaHALLOWEEN AAA

One creepy internet story aka Creepypasta that has been floating around for some years now is called “Squidward’s Suicide,” a truly disturbing story that should be talked about this Halloween season here at Rotten Ink. The story goes that an intern at Nickelodeon had the duty to watch an episode of Spongebob Squarepants with some fellow workers that would have kicked off the new season and when they started to watch, the title card read Squidward’s Suicide.  They thought it was a joke title card, and they all chuckled it off. As they continued to watch, it was nothing special at first and was about Squidward preparing for a clarinet concert when Spongebob’s annoying laughing echoes into his house and Squidward runs him off to keep practicing, but when things get really strange is when at the concert all the fish people in the crowd start booing Squidward with malice and even Spongebob joins in the booing! Squidward goes home and starts to cry sadly to himself as sounds of wind and white noise echoed from the speakers, and then laughing started up as Squidward’s crying became louder and louder and more heartbreaking. While all this was disturbing what the workers found in frames mixed in is what caused them some chills and distress as pictures of freashley murdered children (three in total) would flash for small frames across the screen! These pictures would come inbetween Squidward still crying at the edge of his bed with all the weird sounds going on in the back ground.  It got so bad that they called the creator of Spongebob to watch the remaining episode that ended with Squidward pulling out a shotgun and committing suicide as the image remained on his dead body and then ended. The creator was mad and demanded that they watch the episode again, and he was horrified at what he saw and called the FBI, according to the intern none of the children in the clips were ever identified and no one knew who made the cartoon as the time stamp said it was made just minutes before they watched it! I saved you many of the gory details of what the kids bodies looked like as I didn’t think that this fun blast from the past blog was the right place for it, but if you’re looking for the full well written story search the net and you’ll find it. Another Creepypasta by the name of “Red Mist” is based on Squidward killing himself and has a salesmen fish coming to his door and telling him the red mist is coming…the red mist of course being the blood from his wound…when he shoots himself…man this is some depressing stuff! The major differences between the two stories besides the salesmen and title is that in Red Mist many of the characters sport realistic eyes and also the cartoonist of the episode was said to be a serial killer who had worked for Nickelodeon and was on the run. Fan made animated versions of the episode can be found on youtube, and the story while most likely fake, it still makes me wonder did Squidward really kill himself?

Squidwards Suicide 1Squidward's Suicide TitleSquidwards Suicide 2

It’s 1976, and the film crew for the TV Show “The Six Million Dollar Man” had rented out the haunted house from the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach California.  As they were moving and dressing the “set” they moved the hanging mummy man prop and by accident they broke off the mummy’s arm and to their horror a human bone was poking out! The crew, along with the police, took the mummy to a coroner who verified that the mummy was in fact a human body…the haunted house for years had a real dead body on display. It took some time but they were able to figure out who the body was and when and how he died, and the identity of the mummy was that of criminal Elmer McCurdy who was killed in 1911 in a shootout while trying to rob a train. The undertaker in 1911 decided that since no one claimed his body, he would go ahead and embalmed him and place it on display as “The Bandit Who Wouldn’t Give Up” and would have people place nickels in the corpse’s mouth that at the end of the day he would collect.  At some point a carnival owner tricked the undertaker into thinking he was Elmer’s brother and he took the body and placed it on display for years. After his worth was used up at the carnival, the corpse was sold many times to several haunted houses, wax museums and carnivals making it the traveling mummy! Elmer’s corpse even was shown in the 1933 film Narcotic directed by Dwain Esper and at one point the owner of a haunted house in South Dakota refused to buy the corpses as he felt it was a fake and nothing more then a mannequin. Elmer finally was sold to Nu-Pike Amusement Park and sometime later was discovered again to be a real corpse by a shocked crew member who broke his arm off! In 1977 Elmer McCurdy was finally laid to rest in Summit View Cemetery in the Boot Hill section in Oklahoma ending the traveling mummy’s long and strange trip around the USA. Many joke that Elmer made way more money in death then in life, and for years this story was thought to be an urban legend but was proven to be true. So the next time you go to a haunted house, take a closer look at that corpse hanging or in the coffin cause who knows you might just be looking at the real thing!

Elmer McCurdyElmer McCurdy RIPElmer McCurdy Mummy

In 1999, my friends and I use to run the roads at all times of the night.  We would drive around with the windows down while blaring music and being just rowdy late teens who were out to have a good time. Most of these nights would just lead to us going to a friend’s house where we would spend the rest of the night playing Goldeneye 007 on N64 and listening to music and all crashing at the same home very late in the night. Brandon Womeldorff drove most nights as he had a red convertible, and on this particular night it was just Brandon, David Wean, Rion Neeley and myself driving through Patterson Park or as it’s also called Hills And Dales.  It was around 11:00pm, and we had no real reason to be in the area besides driving fast on the dark roads near Frankenstein’s Tower and enjoying the cool night air. Rion was telling us that one night when he was driving alone near these two stone pillars on the opposite sides of the road and that he could have sworn that he saw what appeared to be a shadow man that was watching him on top of a wooded hill near the pillar.  Of course this made the rest of us to want to go to the spot and see if we could spot this strange man/shadow for ourselves.  As we pulled off the road near said spot Brandon killed the engine, and we all just sat and listened and waited, the sounds of the night filled our ears and then we heard something that sounded like a person running down the hill crunching fallen leaves as it moved fast towards us, Brandon turned the car back on and sped away as we could hear this thing keeping up with us…odd thing being all we could make out was a shadow. We all went back to Rion’s house where Brandon was also living, and we all sat around and talked about what we thought it was, and myself and Brandon went back that night and didn’t see anything. Whatever it was stuck with us as Brandon even wrote a song called “The Man In Black” for a short lived band we were in called X-Mortis. For many years after I would go back to that spot with many of my friends like Andrea Seay, Kevin Kinsley, Matt Hoffman, Jason Gilmore, Misty Altick and Josh Weinberg and almost everytime we would hear or see something…sometimes we would drive away only to return in minutes to find a dead animal propped in the middle of the road, most the time the necks were twisted so the head was facing backwards. This Shadow Man became a spooky icon to us, and we would even play pranks on each other out in the woods near the pillars and hill.  The best one is where Dave Wean, Linda Webb’s boyfriend and I all hid in the woods and made noises as Josh Weinberg dressed in a WWE Kane Mask and a hooded robe stood by a tree near the small road and scared the crap out of Matt Hoffman who was being driven around by Brandon who was in on the prank, but one thing I must say is as we waited in those woods, we all did hear many odd things. Josh and I many nights would go back to that place and like clockwork we would hear and slightly see the Shadow Man.  One night we really pissed it off as we got out of the car and challenged it to a fight, while from the car stereo we played the battle music from the Star Trek episode “Amock Time” and carried ball bats ready to knock it’s block off. For a short time it did not respond but once we heard it come running down the hill full blast we left before the “battle” could happen. Over the years I went less and less to hear and see The Shadow Man, and the park got lots of remodeling and the last handful of times me and Josh went there had been no sign or noise of the Shadow making us wonder what and where did it go. We never could figure out just what and why it was and what would have happened to us if it would have caught us, but one things for sure Shadow Man will forever live on as one of my favorite unknown things I have witnessed. Bellow is a drawing by me of what it looked like.

Shadow Man Drawing

On October 6th and 7th Juliet and I decided to have our own Horror Movie Marathon, an event that I used to hold all the time that would have all my friends over to watch horror flicks all day and eat junk food. On Monday the 6th we had what I would call the pre-show where we watch a few Horror films to gear up for the next day, and the films selected were the made for TV cheese-fest “Werewolf of Woodstock”, smart and artistic 80’s slasher “Curtains” and low budget succubus flick “Dreamaniac.”  We both agreed that Curtains was the best film of the pre-show.  It was about actresses meeting at a film director’s mansion in the woods on a snow filled weekend, and someone is killing them off one by one. And we both agreed that the worst turkey of the night was Dreamaniac that was about some goofball song writer who allows his girlfriend and her sister to party at a house he is watching as a succubus is killing off the guests. On the 7th we started our marathon at 8 am and kicked it off with the Universal Horror film “Black Friday” that stars Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi and is about a mobster’s brain being transplanted into that of a professor and the doctor who did so wants to get his hands of some of the mobsters’ hidden money. The 1957 low budget film “From Hell It Came” was next and is about a tree monster and the battle between USA doctors and the natives of an island. The original 1980 “Prom Night” was next about a killer on the loose at a High School prom. 1989’s own low budget camping slasher film “Moonstalker” was next followed by “Legend of The Werewolf” a 1975 film starring Peter Cushing that follows a young man who is cursed to become a werewolf. Evil Dead inspired film “Demon Wind” was next and follows a group of friends stuck in an old house as demons want to take their souls. 1971 Hammer Film “Hands of The Ripper” was the next shocker to be shown and was about the daughter of Jack The Ripper and that was followed by Universal Sci-Fi giant spider film “Tarantula!” that shows man should not mess with mother nature. Next was Fullmoon Entertainment’s 11th film in the series “Puppet Master X: Axis Rising” where the puppets must stop Nazi’s and evil puppets from harming America. The next film shown is a pure cheesy guilty pleasure for me, 1995’s “Project: Metalbeast” starring Kane Hodder as Metalbeast and is about a metal skinned werewolf running wild in a military lab. As we headed into the late night we ended it with two vampire films, the first being “Dawn Of Dracula,” a low budget film made by the cool cats who make the horror host show Midnite Mausoleum and follows Victoria Van Helsing played by the lovely Marlena Midnite as she looks for missing people.  Then we watched “ Dinner With A Vampire” where a group of actors are stuck in a mansion with a real life vampire! The evening was super fun, and we snacked on Peanut M&M’s, Mike-Sells Beer Can Chicken Potato Chips as well as homemade Hot Wings and had a great spooky time just hanging out and enjoying all the horrors of the movies. My top three films of the day would have to be as follows: # 1 Hands of The Ripper, a film I think was well done and added a spin of the Jack The Ripper tale, # 2 Project: Metalbeast for some reason I have been a fan of this film for a long time and use to watch it on VHS when I was younger and feel it stills holds that charm till this day! And # 3 would have to be Legend of The Werewolf a great classic style horror film that has a simple plot and holds such a Hammer Horror feel that I have always found it to be entertaining. I would also like to note that this top three was really hard to pick as I also really enjoyed Dinner With A Vampire, Prom Night and Demon Wind allot! My Golden Turkey of the night would have to go to Moonstalker, while not a bad movie it was just really slow paced with moments that really seemed to drag. Juliet’s top three were # 1 Hands of The Ripper, # 2 Dinner With A Vampire and # 3 Legend of The Werewolf, she had a hard time as well as she truly enjoyed Tarantula! that almost made her list. Her Golden Turkey was Moonstalker for the same reasons I stated. This was a fun event that I look forward to doing again soon as well as maybe one update I will give a history of the event and how the Horror Movie Marathon tradition started with me and my friends.

Werewolf of Woodstock DVDCurtains DVDDreamaniac DVDBlack Friday DVDFrom Hell It Came DVD

Prom Night DVD Moonstalker DVDLegend of the Werewolf DVDDemon Wind DVDHands of the Ripper DVD

Tarantulia! DVDPuppet Master Axis Rising DVDProject Metalbeast DVDDawn of Dracula DVDDinner With A Vampire dvd

So what would Halloween be without having another 5 Questions with a Horror Host, and this time I think we are going to talk to Dayton, Ohio’s own Baron Von Porkchop! If you remember last year we chatted with Chicago Horror Host Count Gregula of Count Gregula’s Crypt.  So I figured that this year I wanted to do a Dayton Original Host who I also consider a very dear friend and that’s the good old Baron. Baron Von Porkchop started his show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre in late 2010 and would air on DATV with his first episode where he hosted the Vincent Price classic House On Haunted Hill.  After this he has shown no signs of slowing down as he is working on his 3rd season as well as a number of Holiday and other type of specials. I traveled to Porkchop Manor and met with Baron Von Porkchop on a chilly night, and here are my 5 Questions with Baron Von Porkchop.

BVP 1

Me: So Baron tell me about your show Terrifying Tales of The Macabre, as well as about Porkchop manor?

Baron: Well my show is about… me. I’m just trying to live my life as an undead ghoul the best I know how, but it seems like everyone and everything wants to try and ruin it! My manor is a little run down, but I love the place. It has all the comforts of home with a little added creepy.

Me: I always have a good creepy time here at the Manor! So what Horror Hosts of the past have influenced you as a host yourself?

Baron: I would have to say since the day I was dug up, I have seen many different horror host icons and most of them have influenced me a little bit, but I would say The Crypt Keeper and Mike and Joel from Mystery Science Theater 3000 would be the most influential.

Me: Great choices, and Crypt Keeper is even in the Horror Host Hall of Fame. So being an undead ghoul and all, do you ever get urges to eat human flesh or brains?

Baron: NO, NO SILLY! That’s zombies, we ghouls just try to get by from day to day we don’t need anything as far as sustenance goes… well except a terrible movie from time to time.

Me: That’s a relief that no flesh eating is in your future! So you have been to quite a bit of conventions and during these travels, what celebrity were you most happy to meet? As well as what other Horror Host?

Baron: Well I did get to meet the Hellraiser himself Doug Bradly and that was kind of a dream come true. As far as horror hosts goes, I did get to meet The Crypt Keeper and that was pretty exciting. But all and all I have to say that all of the horror hosts I have met I have liked in different ways.

Me: Bradley is such an icon of Horror. Well sadly we are at the final question so with my topic for this years Halloween update being about Universal Frankenstein, what other actor besides Boris Karloff would you say is your favorite actor to play the Monster?

Baron: Wow there are so many to chose from…. let me think….. Aaron Eckhart I think from “I, Frankenstein”, I believe would be the best for sure! HAHAHAHAHA! No, no I kid, I kid. This is kind of a hard one though because so many great actors have played the creature. Like Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., Peter Boyle and so many more. Honestly I have to say that David Prowse is probably my favorite portrayal, because Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell is a great movie and a pure scare fest.

Me: Agreed, choosing who is the best actor who has played The Monster is a very tough question, but I would agree that Prowse would be high on my list as well as Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell is one of my favorite Hammer Horror films. Well thanks for spending some time with us here on Rotten Ink and thanks for doing what you do and keeping Horror Hosting alive in Dayton, Ohio. Anything you wanna say to the readers before we go?

Baron: I will see you soon on the Terrifying Tales of the Macabre, until then have a spooky time piggies, HAHAHAHAHA!!

Baron with Shane Douglas and So Cal Val

Airing the day this goes up, October 31st 2014 Baron Von Porkchop will be hosting the Bela Lugosi classic White Zombie for his fourth Halloween Special! I don’t wanna spoil to much but Baron alongside his pal Melvin (Butler to Stephen Von Frankenstein) come face to face with a zombie who has an ax to grind. The special will air on DATV in Dayton on Channel 5 via Time Warner Cable and should be a very fun and spooky episode. I must also say that I am VERY proud of Baron Von Porkchop and Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, and I am very thankful that I am able to do the show along side a very talented host, cast and crew. If you’re looking for a little more on Baron check out his website at www.terrifyingtalesofthemacabre.com or look him up on Facebook. Man, Horror Hosts are so much fun, and I will continue to have 5 Questions with one every Halloween update so that’s something you readers can always look forward to.

Baron Von Porkchop Dayton HostFulci ZombieBaron Halloween 2014 DVD

October 24th 2014 marked the 18th year of Horrorama, and I was happy to once more be a part of the event that showed four great films “Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell”, “Rawhead Rex”, “Hell of The Living Dead” and “Bride Of Re-Animator” and once more was held at the great local theater the Englewood Cinema. Juliet and I, on our way to the theater early to check the prints of the films as well as eat at the chinese restaurant across the street that has become a tradition, also came across a truck with a propped up coffin with a life size mummy in it on Highway 70…this was a great way to kick off a very long night of film watching and mayhem. The event was hosted by A. Ghastlee Ghoul, the legendary horror host of Dayton, and he helped keep the night moving and filled with laughs.  Rick Martin this year co-hosted and with him being the remaining original event creator, it’s always nice to hear him keep the spirit of the event alive and honor what he started with Andy Copp and Dr. Creep. This year thanks to theater owner Mike, I was able to be the projectionist and wow, that was a lot of fun.  I think one of the coolest things for me that night was being able to peer out the projection window standing next the very old 35mm projector and watch my favorite Hammer Horror film, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, a very cool moment for me. Plus at the event were many of my family and friends as besides Juliet, my brother Bryan along with his wife Bel and daughter Abby were there as well as my cousin Stephen. Lots of my friends as well like Josh Weinberg, Mike Ritchie, Garrison Kane, Todd The Fox, Victoria Harper, Nick Williams and Mandie Brown were watching the flicks and having fun. Another great event done and I must say a big thank you for everyone who came and supported this event as well as everyone who helped. Below is a pic of the mummy truck, the event’s poster, and a picture taken from the projection room of the Monster From Hell.

Mummy TruckHorrorama 2014 PosterMonster From Hell on the Big Screen

So let’s see so far we have covered wrestler Halloween, Creepypasta about a cartoon suicide, the traveling corpse of outlaw Elmer McCurdy, The Shadow Man of Hills and Dales Park that used to chase me and friends, a Horror Movie Marathon that Juliet and I had as well as Dayton Ohio Horror Host Baron Von Porkchop.  So now I think it’s time we talk a little about Universal’s longest classic monster series Frankenstein. In 1931, after the success of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi Universal was quickly looking for another classic horror novel to turn into a film.  That novel was Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, and the first choice to play the Monster was Bela Lugosi! The story goes that Lugosi didn’t want the role because he thought it was no real acting as the Monster only grunted and was not too keen in the fact his face would be covered in makeup so the part ended up going to Boris Korloff, a character actor that the director James Whale liked. The film had a budget of $262,007.00 and made the studio $12,000,000.00 opening many studios eyes that horror films can make money. Universal made a sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, in 1935 and it was followed by Son of Frankenstein in 1939, and for these three films Karloff played The Monster but for the remaining films in the series many other actors stepped into the role including Lon Chaney Jr., Glenn Strange and even Bela Lugosi in such films as Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man (1943), House Of Frankenstein (1944), House Of Dracula (1945) and Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) making The Frankenstein Monster the first franchise horror character to have so many sequels. Growing up I loved watching the old Frankenstein films from Universal and in fact the first ever VHS I ever owned was Frankenstein! So with this I am really ready to tell you about the Lab I will be reading these comics at so that I can head that way and read some comic adaptations of the classic Universal films!

Karloff Frankenstein Monster1931 Frankenstein PosterLugosi Frankenstein Monster

The place I will be reading these comics is an old science labs that was used for plant experiments and is located in Yellow Springs.  I promised I would not tell the exact location but let’s just say it’s near downtown. The Labs are still filled with all types of odd machines as well as old racks and trays that use to hold the planets. The sight was also used for animal testing and has cages frozen in time as well! I chose this location due to the nature of the Frankenstein story being so heavily science based and what better way to read these comics then an old lab with poor lighting and not a soul around as well as glass pipes that running over head that use to hold acid used in experiments. Below are some pics of the location just so you can get a feel of what the atmosphere for me will be like.

Science Lab 1Science Lab 2Science Lab 3

The night I choose to read these comics was a very dark one with clouds in the sky, it had a nice chill in the air and the labs upstairs were a little cold. So let’s find a nice spot among the dust and old equipment and read these adaptations under the flickering lights, Remember that I rate the issues on the 1-4 scale and base it on art, story, how close it stays to the source material and over all entertainment value. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having Dark Horses Frankenstein in stock and Juliet and Eric for helping with the other two. So the thunderstorm is coming in, so let’s prepare for the Monster to come alive!

Universal Frankenstein # 1

Frankenstein # 1 ****
Released in 1993   Cover Price $3.95   Dark Horse   #1 of 1

Henry Frankenstein and his assistant Fritz are stealing dead bodies and stitching them together.  Fritz even breaks into a lab and steals an abnormal brain after dropping that of a normal man, and this is all for Henry who wants to create a new life with his own hands in a dusty old tower. During a terrible thunderstorm Henry wants to use the lightning to jolt his creation to life but is interrupted by his fiance Elizabeth, his best friend Victor and his old medical teacher Dr. Waldman who all witness the experiment that works! Victor and Elizabeth return home and try to keep Baron Frankenstein from visiting his son as Waldman begs his former student to kill his Monster before it’s too late. The Monster at first seems to listen and understand commands but when Fritz comes in with a torch the Monster goes crazy, and they must knock it out and put it in the cellar, where Fritz continues to bully it with a whip and a torch.  Finally the Monster snaps and kills Fritz by hanging him. Henry and Waldman knock out the Monster and with the help of Victor, they hide it from his father and Elizabeth. Henry goes home with his father as Waldman is going to dissect and kill the Monster who wakes up and instead kills Waldman! On Henry and Elizabeth’s wedding day, the Monster breaks free of the tower and kills a little girl on accident and even attacks Elizabeth! The townspeople and Henry form a posse and hunt the Monster down.  Henry comes face to face with his Monster who knocks his creator out and takes him to a windmill and throws him off it hurting him badly, as the towns people rush Henry home for medical care they also set the windmill on fire and the Monster is believed to be burnt alive. In the end Henry is getting better at Frankenstein Manor and Elizabeth is at his side while the Monster’s region of terror has came to an end….for now!

This is a great adaptation that captures the mood and story of the classic Universal film and was a great way to start the reviews off! The plot follows a scientist who wants to play God and creates a monster who has a bad brain that does bad things but don’t really understand that it’s doing so.  In the end creator and creation must come face to face with only one making it out alive! Henry Frankenstein is not a bad man, and while he does get wrapped up in his experiment and does create a monster, he had good intentions. It’s clear that Henry loves his girlfriend Elizabeth as well as hid friends and father but that he really wants to be known in the world of science. Dr. Waldman is a wise scientist who sees the dangers in playing God and wants to try and help his student by talking sense into him. Fritz is just a troublemaker and a screw up who seems to take joy in tormenting the Monster.  His worse blunder is stealing the wrong brain and not even telling his boss of the mishap. Victor is a loyal friend who don’t understand why his best friend is acting this way but stands by him when the chips are down and it’s clear Henry needs help. Elizabeth is a loving fiance who understands her man and tries her best to allow him to balance his work and social life with her.  She is the kind of woman who is always by the side of her loved one. Baron Frankenstein is a ass who is more stuck on himself then anything else.  The way he speaks down to others makes him not a very nice person and a character that this reader kind of hated. The Monster is pretty one dimensional in this comic and it’s clear to see that Boris Karloff in the movie is who gave the Monster a personality and made him sympathetic.  In the comic you just don’t pick up on any of its emotions, and The Monster really just comes off as a lumbering brute But that’s the only minor flaw to this amazing comic that I really enjoyed. The art by Den Beauvais (who also adapted the story) is fantastic and it really makes the comic pop as The Monster looks just like Karloff in the movie and in fact most the characters look like the actors who played them in the Universal film. If you’re a fan of the movie or a Universal Monster collector this comic is made for you.  Pick it up you won’t regret it. Check out some of Den’s amazing artwork below.

FRANKENSTEIN DH 1FRANKENSTEIN ART 2FRANKENSTEIN ART 3

So the second film in the series is “Bride Of Frankenstein” and sadly no official film adaptation has been made…yet. I am proud to say that talented artist and friend of mine Jeff Potter will be doing a exclusive Bride of Frankenstein just for me to review here on Rotten Ink! So look for that sometime in 2015. But our next comic in the Universal Frankenstein series is a photo comic made by National Periodical that was part of a comic that had several adaptations of movies.  This comic I will be reading in this cold science lab is a custom one that takes just the Son of Frankenstein part and made it into a issue of its own! So let’s get into it shall we?

Son Of Frankenstein # 1

Son Of Frankenstein  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1939   Cover Price .10   National Periodical   #1 of 1

Wolf Frankenstein, the son of Henry returns to his family’s castle after being away from it for over 20 years and finds that his wife and young son Peter are only warmly greeted by the hired help as the villagers look at them with hate over his father’s Monster. Inspector Crogh visits the castle and tells Wolf that he and his family are not welcome and that he thinks the Monster is alive and killing.  This sparks Wolf’s interest in his father’s old lab where Wolf meets a twisted shepherd named Ygor who shows him that the Monster is indeed alive but very weak. Wolf becomes obsessed with trying to make the Monster better as he believes that this will clear his family’s name, but when more deaths happen, Crogh goes to arrest Wolf as he himself finds that Ygor is using the Monster to kill a jury that convicted him some years back.  This leads to Wolf shooting and killing Ygor. The Monster ends up finding the body of his friend Ygor and this sets him into a rage and he kidnaps Peter.  Crogh tries to help save Peter but is tossed to the side by The Monster! The Monster becomes scared by the villagers who now have become an angry mob, and Wolf kicks him into a lava pit saving his son and causing him to leave the castle for good.

First I have to say I love the movie and that’s why it breaks my heart to read this half butted attempted at a photo comic that tries to cram a 99 minute movie into 8 pages, but then again at least in 1939, they tried to give readers the chills with this comic. The comic changes the plot of the movie in many ways and even how it ends is different.  While some changes, like the fact Inspector Crogh is a very angry and unfriendly man, are interesting other changes like The Monster being frozen with fear by just the sounds of a mob is silly. Wolf Frankenstein is a likeable hero who in this comic really just wanted to return home and clear his family’s name. Young Peter Frankenstein is less annoying in the comic but is just used as bait for the end of the story. Ygor is just kind of around, and while he orders The Monster around he really isn’t given much to do. The Monster also spends most the issue with nothing to do and spends much time just standing to on the slab. I wish the Monster would have had a little more to do and would not be defeated like he was a coward. Plus how brutal is it that Wolf kicks The Monster into lava and watches him burn to death! The art in the comic is mostly photo comic style but does have slight art work added to the photos, and the dialogue is hard to read as the person who did lettering has pretty sloppy hand writing at times. To be honest, this is a nice throwback comic but doesn’t really offer much besides slight old school horror chills. So I think it’s time to move on and will just sum it up as okay but pretty disappointing.

Son Of Frankenstein art 1Son Of Frankenstein art 2Son Of Frankenstein art 3

So next in the film world would be “Ghost of Frankenstein” and once more a comic adaptation was never made so I went to my friend Eric Shonborn, and he will be making Rotten Ink one to review along side Jeff Potters Bride of Frankenstein! So let’s move onto the next comic in the series “Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man,” one of my favorite in the Universal Frankenstein series.  The movie is gracing my t-shirt as I sit and write this in the lab. This comic is a custom comic that was put together and translated by Juliet from an old Spanish sticker book based on the movie! So let’s jump into this one as the lab area is given off some odd nosies that sound like keys jiggling!

Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman # 1

Frankenstein Meets The Wolf Man  # 1  ***
Released in 1946   Cover Price .10   Bloodline Comics   #1 of 1

Two grave robbers go into the crypt of Larry Talbot on a full moon night allowing him to turn into The Wolf Man and escape his tomb and once more set out for blood! Larry wakes up in a hospital in the care of Dr. Mannering and is being watched by cops who don’t believe that he is Larry Talbot as all records say he is dead. That night Larry transforms into The Wolf Man again and kills a cop.  In the morning when the medical staff look at him as if he is crazy, Larry escapes and finds his friend the old gypsy woman Maleva, and they set out to find the diary of Doctor Frankenstein as they think it will hold the answers of finding a cure for Larry’s curse. As they travel, they stop at an inn and are run off by the locals all who hate the name Frankenstein.  After leaving night falls on them and Larry becomes The Wolf Man once more and kills a woman and is hunted down by locals and falls into a hole knocking itself out. Larry awakens in the frozen cave and finds the body of The Monster in ice and frees it, and the pair become unlikely friends. Larry even tries to convince Elsa Frankenstein to help him find her grandfather’s diary, and she wants nothing to do with it. But when The Monster and Larry make a big scary scene at the town’s festival after being confronted by Dr. Mannering, the pair escape to the ruins of the old castle. Elsa, Maleva and Mannering come to the castle and all together they work along side Larry and The Monster and find the diary and set up to cure him of his curse and even drain all the energy from The Monster. This does not go as planned as Mannering makes a mistake that leaves The Monster in a rage and Larry turning into The Wolf Man.  The monsters fight in the old castle ruins as the villagers blow up the near by dame, drowning the two monsters and ending the terror.

When two monsters collide, I the reader won in this fun cheesy comic adaptation that’s packed with so much cheese that it was busting at the seams. The story follows the film for the most part and follows Larry who wants to find a cure for his werewolf curse and gets the help of the remaining Frankenstein as well as befriends The Monster, but when he changes into a beast his urge to kill comes through and he fights his monster friend until they both go swim with the fishes. Larry Talbot is a man who you as the reader feel bad for, but you also find yourself very happy when he turns into The Wolf Man and stalks around and kills whatever he can find. The Monster for the most part just lumbers around and shows he has zero tolerance for people. Dr. Mannering, Maleva the Gypsy and Elsa Frankenstein are good supporting characters who add to the story in their own way but none are really flushed out. The comic has zero blood and gore and is truly a classic horror thriller comic that relies on the fact that monsters are scary, and I love that about this comic. The artwork is done by an unknown artist but I really dig the almost cartoon style, with the Wolf Man looking pretty good and The Monster looking like a skinny kid dressed up for Halloween. While the comic follows the film pretty well, it as well suffers from the fact they tried to rush the plot and rushed way too much character development. With all that said I must say I really enjoyed this comic and wish that some day Dark Horse will get into gear and make Official Universal Monster Movie adaptation comics! Check out the artwork below.

Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 1Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 2 Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman art 3

So with the lab being the perfect place to read these comics and with all the spooky sounds and the chill in the air, I think it’s time for me to leave this area…never to return again…well that’s until maybe next time I read Universal Frankenstein comics for Rotten Ink. I really enjoy horror comics and love the Halloween season, and this update has just really made me look forward to doing next year’s countdown to the spookiest holiday. So once more I want to thank Eric and Juliet for their help on this update, and I want to also remind all you Horror Host fans that Baron Von Porkchop’s Halloween Special airs tonight on DATV (Time Warner Channel 5) or can be watched via stream at www.datv.org! So I am sure your all wondering what’s the next update, and I must confess that it’s a Debbie Downer as we take a look at the death of the Spider-Man villain The Tarantula! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, support your local Horror Host and watch the skies for its Halloween and the ghosts and goblins are on the loose…you have been warned….Happy Halloween!

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Norman Bates The Original Psycho Slasher

I write a blog on here, and you’d be more than welcome to read it if you want f.o.c. of course..free of charge! This update before our big Halloween day update is all about the one and only Norman Bates and Innovation Comics’ three issue adaptation of the film that came out in 1992. If you remember last year I had a tough time choosing what to review between Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III and Psycho, and Leatherface ended up winning.  Well this year I decided that it’s for sure Psycho’s time in the jack-o-lantern candle spotlight. So while we wait for our room at the Bates Motel, we should talk about the 1959 novel Psycho written by Robert Bloch that was adapted into the 1960 Alfred Hitchcock film of the same name. The novel was about a son and mother that run a motel called the Bates Motel that’s off a stretch of highway.  When a young lady goes missing and we know she has been murdered, a plot of why and who killed her comes into play as her sister and a private detective come looking for answers. The novel was a hit and was loosely based off the killer Ed Gein who just two years before had been arrested for murder and grave robbing.  It’s said that Bloch didn’t do any research into Gein’s crimes and was shocked to see just how much the Norman Bates character and the real life killer Gein had in common. The novel proved to be such a hit that it was licensed to become a film directed by the master of thrills Alfred Hitchcock, and it also sparked two novel sequels called Psycho II in 1982 and Psycho House in 1990. For those wondering, Robert Bloch wrote 30 novels and hundreds of short stories.  Some of his novels include Night of The Ripper, The Dead Beat, The Jekyll Legacy and Twilight Zone: The Movie to name a few. In the 60’s Bloch also worked on Hollywood scripts that included 10 episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents as well as William Castle directed films Straight Jacket and The Night Walker as well as British made horror film The Skull that starred Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. Bloch was a protege and friend of writer H.P. Lovecraft the latter who even dedicated a story to marking the first and only time the writer dedicated one of his stories to someone else. Sadly Robert Bloch is no longer with us as he passed away in 1994 at the age of 77 from cancer. But if you enjoy a good horror chiller novel then check out some of Bloch’s work. I’m sure you will get a shiver or two from them.

psycho bookNow at this point I should get onto breaking down the films in the Psycho movie series as well as talk briefly about the TV inspired programs, and I guess about the awful and unwanted remake. So as always I am going to take the films descriptions from IMDB so that you can get a little taste of what these films are about.  Warning: I am sure these write ups will have spoilers I will also at the end of each give them a 1-4 star rating just for the fun of it! So with that let’s sit down have some peanut butter sandwiches and milk and learn all about Norman Bates and his Mother Norma. I should also say that Anthony Perkins will always be Norman Bates.  The way the actor brought the character to life will never be matched. Perkins played the character in the first 4 films and sadly passed away in 1992 at the age of 60 from AIDS-related pneumonia. But let’s get to those film write ups, shall we?

Psycho – Phoenix officeworker Marion Crane is fed up with the way life has treated her. She has to meet her lover Sam in lunch breaks and they cannot get married because Sam has to give most of his money away in alimony. One Friday Marion is trusted to bank $40,000 by her employer. Seeing the opportunity to take the money and start a new life, Marion leaves town and heads towards Sam’s California store. Tired after the long drive and caught in a storm, she gets off the main highway and pulls into The Bates Motel. The motel is managed by a quiet young man called Norman who seems to be dominated by his mother. 4 stars for sure, a true classic in cinema as well as truly one of the first slasher films.

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Psycho II – Now declared legally sane, Norman Bates is released from a mental institution after spending 22 years in confinement over the protests of Marion Crane’s sister Lila Loomis, who insists that he’s still a killer and that the court’s indifference to his victims by releasing him is a gross miscarriage of justice. Norman returns to his motel and the old Victorian mansion where his troubles started, and history predictably begins to repeat itself. A solid 3 1/2 stars and a film I can remember watching a lot when I was younger!

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Psycho III – Norman Bates is still running his little motel, and he has kept the dressed skeleton he calls mother. One of his guests is a young girl who has left the convent where she lived. To get some help he employs a young man. One day a nosy journalist comes to see him to ask questions about his past. I really like this third film and while it’s more of a slasher film than a suspense one, I still would give this 3 stars!

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Psycho IV: The Beginning – Norman Bates returns for this “prequel”, once more having mommy trouble. This time around he is invited to share memories of mom with a radio talk show host, but the PYSCHO fears that he may kill again for his beloved is impregnated with his child and Norman cannot let another PYSCHO loose in the civilized world. This made for Showtime movie is pretty good and sadly marked the last time Anthony Perkins played Norman Bates. I would give this one as well 3 Stars.

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Bates Motel (1987) – This film is based on, but not in sequence with, the Psycho films. After the death of Norman Bates, a man who befriended him in the institution inherits the motel. In keeping with Norman’s wishes, he tries to fix up the place and make it a respectable motel. Made for TV film that was made to try and kick start a TV series.

Psycho (1998) – Marion Crane steals a lot of cash from a man whom her boss is in business with. On the way to see her boyfriend, she stops off by an old motel, run by the odd Norman Bates. She is murdered in the shower. Her sister, boyfriend, and a private investigator try to find out where she is, while we learn more about Norman Bates. This film is a waste and has Vince Vaughn as Norman Bates. Zero stars.

Bates Motel (2013) – “Bates Motel” is a contemporary prequel to the genre-defining film “Psycho,” and gives a portrayal of how Norman Bates’ (Freddie Highmore) psyche unravels through his teenage years. Fans discover the dark, twisted backstory of Norman Bates and how deeply intricate his relationship with his mother, Norma (Vera Farmiga), truly is. Airs on A&E and is on it’s second season.

The Bates Haunting (2012) – One year ago, Agnes Rickover attended opening night at the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride to see her best friend Lily’s dramatic debut. A horrific accident resulted in Agnes witnessing Lily’s fiery death in a spectacle gone wrong. After a year of obsessing over a murder investigation everyone else thinks is open and shut, Agnes goes to work at the Haunt in an attempt confront her trauma. Horrific events begin to claim the lives of her coworkers and Agnes must figure out what is behind all of the “accidents” before more people die. Generic cash in on the Bates Motel name, has nothing to do with Norman Bates or hell even the Bates Motel!

Bates Motel Made for TV MoviePsycho Remake PosterBates Motel TV ShowBates Haunting

While Psycho started as a book, it was the films that made it a household name and allowed it to be marketed and even the original motel and house set to become a mainstay tourist attraction for all those who go to Universal Studios Hollywood. Psycho as well as Norman Bates and Mother have been turned into all types of products from t-shirts, dolls, night lights, posters, comics, toys, shower curtains, video games and Halloween costumes. One of my favorite piece of merchandise is the McFarlane Toys Movie Maniac Norman Bates action figure that is Norman in dress with removable wig…classic! I should also note that I would love for a 3 3/4” ReAction Figure line based on Psycho to come out complete with Norman and Mother. So if you’re a Psycho fan, there is plenty of great stuff out there for you to collect.

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In 1988, Box Office Games made a game for the Commodore 64 based on Psycho that was a cheesy 8-bit horror themed game. The game is about a curator with a bad heart and some priceless jewels that have been stolen from a museum.  All clues point that they are both at the infamous Bates Motel! No one will take the case besides you, a detective that decides to enter the famed house and Motel late at night. In the house is Norman Bates dressed up as his mother as well as skeletons, ghosts and bats all wanting to stop you from saving the day. It’s a race against time as you must find them before daybreak and must also fight off sleep! Find the clues, keys, gun, ammo, the curator and jewels before Norman Bates finds you! Do you have the nerves of steel to search the Bates House and Motel? Can you stand up to Norman Bates? The game is okay but the lack of Norman and Mother make it feel like an updated version of the Atari 2600 game Haunted House.The graphics are your standard Commodore style so while not ground breaking, they are very charming. But over all if you’re a fan of the film and still own a Commodore 64, then this is one you might want to check out.

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One thing that makes the Psycho films work is the score music that accompanies so many of the films’ iconic scenes. The first film’s score is done by Bernard Herrmann and is a very powerful and each bit of music fits the scene it accompanies.  Who can forget the the the shower scene music cue? The second film’s music is done by Jerry Goldsmith and once more is a very solid piece of work, filled with just enough touches of Herrmann’s score style but truly Godlsmith’s own. The third film has Carter Burwell doing the score, and the fourth film is Graeme Revell and both do outstanding jobs and like the composers before them, capture the mood and feel of the Psycho world. Each of these soundtracks are worth a listen with part four’s being the hardest to get your hands on. One thing that I love to do on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO is play some of the score done by Herrmann from time to time, and it’s always a must-play on the Halloween show.

Psycho SoundtrackPsycho II SoundtrackPsycho III Soundtrack

Janet Leigh was born Jeanette Helen Morrison on July 6th 1927, and by 1945 thanks to actress Norma Shearer, she became a signed on actress to MGM even though she had no acting experience.  She got the contract just simply by her smile. By 1947 she made her major big budget film debut in The Romance Of Rosy Ridge, and after this many roles would come her way like If Winter Comes, The Stratton Story, Hills Of Home, Little Women and Touch Of Evil to name a few. Her most popular role came in 1960 when she was casted as Marion Crane in Psycho. With the success of Psycho, she landed more major roles in such films as The Manchurian Candidate and Bye Bye Birdie. During this time she also took some roles on TV shows like Tales Of The Unexpected, Columbo, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and even an episode of the 1989 Twilight Zone. She also took roles alongside her actress daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in the films The Fog and Halloween H20. Leigh has been married a total of 4 times with her third husband being Tony Curtis with whom she had Jamie Lee. Leigh sadly died in 2004 at the age of 77 from vasculitis leaving behind a husband and two daughters. To me Janet Leigh could be one of the original Scream Queens of horror and only could be matched for the “original” title by Carolyn Jones of 1959’s House on Haunted Hill and of course Fay Wray from 1933’s King Kong. But what is for sure is Janet Leigh was a fantastic actress who starred in some great films and made her mark on the world of horror.

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Growing up I watched Psycho and its sequels a lot, and one fun past time I can remember doing in my teens was talking to my mom as if she was Mother.  She hated when I did this but I always got a good laugh acting as if she was crazy and such about girls I was dating or even dinner she had cooked for us. Fun times indeed and still to this day from time to time I still bust out the “Yes Mother” just to keep the joke alive. But I just got word that our room is ready and just our luck we got room # 1, the room right next door to the office so we are really lucky! But before we enter, I just want to remind you all 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. I also want to thank Bell Book and Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock. So let’s go ahead and get comfy and enjoy our stay at the Bates Motel!

Psycho Comic 1

Psycho # 1   ***1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $2.50    Innovation   #1 of 3

At a hotel room Sam and Marion have just finished up a lunch break filled with making love, and the two talk of a “future” that they might have together once Sam can get back on his feet. Marion returns to work where she is a secretary for a real estate agent, and when a load mouth cowboy comes in with forty thousand dollar cash and she is asked to put it in the companies safety deposit box at the bank, she makes the decision to steal the money and go on the run. On her way out of town she catches the eye of a cop who follows her as she trades in her car and buys a new one.  She then makes her way to a motel called The Bates Motel during a rain storm and meets the owner Norman Bates, who invites her to dinner and while he goes to his home on the hill near the motel Marion can hear him arguing with his mother before returning with some sandwiches and milk. Marion eats in the office parlor as she and Norman talk about his Mother and running away from mistakes.  The talk makes her want to return home and return the money before things get way out of hand, and as she returns to her room Norman removes a picture in his office to show a peephole into her cabin next door!

Marion is a lovely woman who is just down and out in her love life as well are in her professional life. She decides to try and change her luck and commits a terrible crime to secure that new life, and while now she is on the path to make everything better she still feels rotten about what she has done. This sad and desperate situation she finds herself in is what draws you as a reader into really liking her character and hoping that she can make things right and find happiness another way. Norman Bates is an odd and awkward yet likeable man who really seems to care for his Mother even though she treats him poorly and rules every aspect of his life, plus his hobby is taxidermy, he likes to drink milk, he runs a motel with no guests and he’s a peeping tom…so he has to be a good guy right? Mother Bates, while we have not seen her, sounds very strong willed and not very friendly at all. It’s clear that Mother hates other women and thinks that they are all whores who want to corrupt Norman. The mood of the comic captures the mood of the film really well and for those of us who have seen the classic film, we know what awaits us but still the build up here is really well done. The art inside the comic is that painted style and is done by Felipe Echevarria who does a fantastic job with making Marion look like actress Janet Lee, but I will say his Norman Bates, while good, looks nothing like Anthony Perkins and that’s kind of a let down. The cover is fantastic and captures that noir and horror feel of the film perfect. Over all this is a perfect comic film adaptation and really sparks the mood of this Halloween season! So let’s get onto issue # 2 and see what Norman is up to.

Psycho Comic 2

Psycho # 2  ***
Released in 1992   Cover Price $2.50   Innovation   #2 of 3

Norman spies on Marion as she gets undressed and writes a letter she rips up and flushes.  As she gets into the shower Norman, walks back up to his house. As Marion’s in the shower, a shadowy figure with a dress on and white hair slings open the shower curtain and stabs the young woman to death. We cut back to the house as Norman yells at mother about all the blood and rushes to the room and cleans up the blood, and dumps Marion’s body in her car into a near by lake. Meanwhile the murdered woman’s sister Lila is visiting Sam to try and find her missing sister and the money, and they become aware that a private investigator named Arbogast has been hired to find her and get the money back. Arbogast travels the highways and stops at all the motels to see if anyone has seen Marion and when entering The Bates Motel, he and Norman exchange some words when he finds that Norman has lied about the woman being at his Motel after he finds her name on the guest registry. After questioning Norman and being refused to speak to Mother, Arbogast calls Lila and Sam to tell them that Marion was at The Bates Motel and that he plans on sneaking into the house to speak to Mother, and he will call them back in an hour. Arbogast sneaks into the house and becomes another victim to Mother and her knife, and when three hours pass Sam leaves Lila to go to Bates Motel and check on what’s going on.

The second issue is still very solid, but I will say it slips a little as many of the pages are filled with overly large art with no dialogue, and then other parts are filled with overly long dialogue! Marion in this issue is killed off and her character comes to an end, sad ’cause much like in the film you find yourself hoping she does the right thing for her own life. Norman Bates is shown to be spineless when it comes to standing up to mother as well as others who are come looking for those that mother’s actions affected. Arbogast tries his best to be Dick Tracy but falls short when he becomes too nosey and pays the price of entering another person’s house uninvited with his life. Sam and Lila are gearing up to be more of the focus of the final issue as they really want to know where their loved one is! The story in this issue is more noir than horror but this works for the middle issue and is really the set up for the big surprise and blow out of the end of the story. The cover is great and captures the horror of Marion’s shower death, and the art in this issue while good seems a slight more sloppy than issue # 1 and is done by Felipe Echevarria once more in the paint style. I must also say that while in the film the shower scene is the most iconic part, in the comic it don’t hold up as well and comes off solid but not great. The murder that does work is that of Arbogast, due to the dark shadows used and the perfect way the darkness hides Mother. Very good issue that once more holds the feel and mood of the film it’s based on showing that adaptations can be done right.  So with no more wait let’s move onto the conclusion of Psycho!

Psycho Comic 3

Psycho # 3   ***1/2
Released in 1992   Cover Price $2.50   Innovation   #3 of 3

Sam and Lila regroup after he went to the Bates Motel and never saw Norman, only Mother via her bedroom window. The pair visit the town sheriff and tell them about Marion, the money and Arbogast and that all these things tie into The Bates Motel! They tell him of the phone call from the now missing private detective about speaking with Mother as well as Sam’s eye witness of the old woman sitting in the window and watching him. The Sheriff informs them that Norman’s mother has been dead for over 10 years and that he thinks that Arbogast has left town on a lead of Marion so that he himself could steal the money from her. Norman in fear that they will be coming for Mother makes her hide in the fruit cellar and the next morning is able to pass that everything is okay when the Sheriff came to the motel looking for answers. Sam and Lila still don’t think things are right at Bates Motel and head there to stay under the fake guise that they are husband and wife looking for a good night’s rest. They are taken to cabin # 6, and when Norman goes back to his hous,e they sneak into cabin # 1 and find evidence that Marion was there at some point for sure. Sam distracts Norman while Lila sneaks inside and this leads to Norman knocking out Sam when he finds that his questions are about Mother and rushes to the house as Lila hides in the fruit cellar and finds Mother who is in fact a corpse as Norman busts in wearing a wig and dress! Norman is stopped by Sam and is arrested for the murders. In the end it’s shown that Norman Bates has been crazy his whole life and killed his own mother and her lover 10 years back and has took on a split personality that has him switch from Norman Bates to Mother Bates!

Norman Bates is mentally unstable, and this makes him a great bad guy in the comic world as he has layers to his craziness, making him super dangerous as he has this way about him that while you are creeped out you see him as no danger…the key thing to most serial killers is to make everyone believe they are normal. In this final issue we get to see multiple sides of Norman from worried and loyal son to cross dressing mama’s boy with murder on his mind. Norman Bates, while defeated by the end of the comic, lives to fight another day as it’s clear he will spend his days in an asylum. Lila and Sam are good characters who won’t give up on their missing loved one and put themselves into danger to try and find the truth, and are the ones who crack these missing person cases wide open by solving the mystery of the Bates Motel. The Sheriff is just a numbskull who half asses his look into what Norman knows and offers really no help to Lila and Sam for their quest for the truth. Mother….poor decomposed Mother.  While her body is a rotting shell, her spirit is alive and well in Norman. The Mother side of his personality is the domineering and evil side that makes him lash out at pretty women and any man who gets in the way. This final issue holds the shock of Mother being dead and Norman being crazy really well, and both these aspects work really well in this comic mini series. Felipe Echevarria does the art again, and the paint style looks great still but his Norman Bates is still a little off. I wish it would have looked more like Anthony Perkins! The cover is well done but is by far the weaker of the three issues. Over all I really enjoyed this comic series, and this was a perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit even more. If you’re a fan of the film, the novel and comics then check this one out for sure.

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Well it’s time to check out of the Bates Motel and wrap this update up. This was a very well done comic series that helped capture the thrills of suspense of the film it was based on, and makes me wish Innovation would have made a full comic series based on Norman Bates and the Motel he runs. So I am sure you’re wondering what is the next update, the one that will be going up on October 31st 2014 Halloween Day.  Well I am proud to say that it will be based on Universal’s Frankenstein Monster and special comics made on the films! So until then share some ghost stories with friends, watch a horror movie and read a horror comic and what ever you do, don’t stay at the Bates Motel!

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Happy Spooky 60th Birthday Creature From The Black Lagoon!

Imagine that you are alone on a boat floating down a lagoon whose waters are pitch black in the moon lit sky.  It’s the fall, and the sounds of the leaves can be heard hitting the water and with each noise you wonder just what’s out there. You have heard the local legend of a fish man in these very waters, but you always laughed it off as local folklore to scare away tourist, but now you’re not so sure! The wind has picked up and a shiver goes down your spine as you wonder if the creature is watching you. You decide to go into the boat’s cabin to get out of the cool air, as a large clawed hand appears on the edge of the boat…This is what classic horror stories and films were made of back before slashers and undead zombies became the normal fare for on screen horror. This year marks the 60th Anniversary for Universal’s 1954 classic monster film Creature From The Black Lagoon, and this made it a perfect selection for the 2014 Halloween updates. So let’s get out scuba gear on and let’s take a look at Dark Horse Comics’ one shot issue based on this classic monster.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2Universal Studios was known for making monster films in the 1930’s with the likes of Count Dracula and Frankenstein’s Monster, but during the 1940’s the classic monsters were loosing steam and they started to loose their scare appeal to the viewing audience.  They even decided to turn them into a comedy act as comedians Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein’s Monster and even The Mummy. During the 1950’s things changed from supernatural to atomic age scares, and this is when Universal released the last of the classic monsters The Creature From The Black Lagoon in theaters in 1954. Think about it Gill-Man or The Creature is the last true classic Universal Monster, the company known for delivering frights last major monster was created in 1954…makes me wonder why they stopped making iconic horror characters like this. Growing up I first learned about the Creature thanks to a book I checked out at the library from Crestwood that was all about Gill-Man, and from that day on I knew I had to see the film. When I finally tracked down a VHS copy of the film and watched it, I was hooked as a fan, loved the look of the creature and mesmerized by the underwater effects. As I got older I also noticed many of my friends who enjoy horror films all seemed to pick Creature From The Black Lagoon as their favorite classic horror film, and one of these friends happens to be comic creator Jason Young. The Creature or also known as Gill-Man is a different kind of monster as he really just minds his own business in his own water world when man comes to him and causes all the issues by messing with nature and trying to take a “wild” animal out of it’s element. I am also very happy to say that over the years of vending and being a guest at horror film conventions, I have gotten the honor of meeting many of the stars from the 1954 classic film. The first ever convention I ever did was called Fright Vision, and at this event I got to meet Ben Chapman the actor who played Gill-Man on land. Over the years I have met the lovely Julie Adams, the actress who played Kay, the woman who captured the Creatures eye many times. And just this year I finally got to meet Ricou Browning the actor who played Gill-Man under water! So let’s take a look at the three films in the Universal Creature From The Black Lagoon series so that those of you readers who don’t know the Creature can learn a little about him. The write ups are taken from IMDB because as with most things, if I wrote the plot outlines, they would last forever!

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Creature From The Black Lagoon – A scientific expedition searching for fossils along the Amazon River discovers a prehistoric Gill-Man in the legendary Black Lagoon. The explorers capture the mysterious creature, but it breaks free. The Gill-Man returns to kidnap the lovely Kay, fiancée of one in the expedition, with whom it has fallen in love.

Note From Matt: On a very cool note Creature From The Black Lagoon was first thought of during a 1941 filming party for Citizen Kane when the Black Lagoon producer William Alland spoke to Mexican cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa about legends of a fishman in the Amazon waters. The film idea floated around for a while and with the success of the 1953 film House of Wax, the idea to make it 3-D was born. So think about how cool that is this is the only classic Universal Monster film shown in classic 3-D!

Julie Adams and the Gill Man in CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, 1954.Creature From The Black Lagoon Poster 1Creature From The Black Lagoon 2

Revenge Of The Creature – The Creature from the Black Lagoon is back! This time he’s captured by scientists and transported to an aquarium in south Florida. Naturally, he’s attracted to the lovely female scientist and manages to escape and kidnap her. And its up to her friends to rescue her from Gill-Man’s grip of terror and stop him from harming others.

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The Creature Walks Among Us – In this third Gill-Man feature, the Creature is captured and turned into an air-breather by a rich mad scientist. This makes the Creature very unhappy, and he escapes, killing people and setting fires in the process.

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The movies stopped at being a trilogy and by all accounts the way Creature Walks Among Us ended, The Gillman died in the ocean by drowning, and that’s sad Universal could have easily kept this film series going. But in 1954 slightly before Creature From The Black Lagoon hit theaters, the TV show Colgate Comedy Hour has comedian genesis Abbott and Costello on and they traveled to the Universal prop room where they ran into Frankenstein’s Monster who scares Abbott but in return is scared of Costello’s face and falls through a crate…as Costello chuckles it up that he scared The Monster, he is in turned scared by Gillman who happens to appear. The skit lasts a little over 15 minutes and has many moments that were inspired by their film “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein”. The live audience ate up the comedy and were also very happy to see Gill-Man and Frankenstein’s Monster as they cheered at their arrival into the skit. One cool thing I have to point out is the fact Glenn Strange once more played the Monster and Ben Chapman played the Gill-Man for this TV appearance. Makes you wonder that if Abbott and Costello would have stayed together as comedy partners for a while longer would a film been made where they would have meet Gillman officially… makes one wonder indeed. Below are some screen grabs from the skit as well as a fan made poster for the movie that could have been.

Abbott Creature 1Fan Poster Abbott meet CreatureAbbott creature 2

So when you think of The Creature, is one of the first things to pop into your mind a musical…cause Universal thought that in 2009 when they replaced their Fear Factor Live attraction at Universal Studios Theme Park. The musical was loosely based on the 1954 film and had the Creature not only singing but also growing to be a giant. The musical ran till 2010, only lasting under a year as an attraction, the reason for the closing was the lack of interest from parkgoers who just were not drawn to the musical version of Creature From The Black Lagoon. While I give Universal credit for trying something new and trying to do something with their Monster IPs, a musical just seems like an odd choice. One cool fact is the Julie Adams came to the premier that for all accounts was a success. When the musical closed, the attraction was changed to a special effects stage show. For those who want to see the musical who couldn’t make it to California’s Universal Studios, you can find clips on YouTube. And I must end it with why in the world does The Creature turn into a 25ft giant? Now that’s silly.

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Growing up if you were a Monster Kid and you played with toys, you could find some really cool ones of Gill-Man! Some of the best have to be the Remco action figure and doll, Marx’s plastic Creature figure as well as Penn-Plax Creature figure. Growing up I never had a Creature action figure but man I would have loved to have had the 3 ¾” Remco figure as he would have been a perfect fit in my Toy Wars battle! Now at the age of 35, I own two of the Remco Creature figures and both are the Glow In The Dark versions. Oh yeah, I also should mention that fast food restaurants Burger King and Jack N The Box also gave away action figures of Gill-Man in their Kids Meals . Growing up I did however own one of those classic windup toys of the Creature that shot sparks from its mouth as it walked; an antique store in Waynesville stocked them for a short while when they were re-released. The wind ups were great toys, and I also owned King Kong and my brother had Godzilla.  I can remember winding them all up and having them race each other on the kitchen table.

Old School Creature ToyRemco Creature In PackageCreature Windup Toy

Besides toys, Gill-Man also has a ton more merchandise and his green scaled likeness has been on novels, comic books, t-shirts, drinking glasses, trading cards, Halloween masks and costumes, buttons, puzzles, coloring books, candy boxes and so much more! Gill-Man’s look seems like it was made for merchandise and some of my favorite none-toy stuff I own with his fish face on it would have to be the t-shirts and of course my Crestwood Creature From The Black Lagoon book that I was able to buy from the library that I use to check out when I was a kid. So if you’re a fan of the film or just the look of the monster, there is some great stuff out there for your inner collector.

Creature BookCreature T-shirtBen Cooper Creature Costume

One thing that Universal as well as video game makers have dropped the ball on is the fact they never made a game based on the film and believe me they could easily make a Triple A title using the Gill-Man as the game’s bad guy. What has been made is an amazing pin-ball machine made by Bally’s in 1992 that had a holographic creature pop out of a lagoon to spook the player. Also a Casino Electric Slot Machine has been made based on the film that sports the Creature’s clawed hand that could help you unlock bonus winnings. One cool thing floating around the internet is a really cool fan made cover box for a NES game about The Creature, as a kid I would have went nuts for a game like this and still to this day if someone would make one for the original Nintendo and put it on a cart I would buy it in a second. As you longtime readers know, Creature From The Black Lagoon made my # 7 pick of a horror film that should be made into a modern video game on my Rotten Pixels 2 update, and I still stick by the plot I made for the game as well as the fact TellTale Game should be the ones to make it happen.

Creature Pinball The BestCreature Slot MachineFake Creature NES Game

Hans J. Slater was the man Universal came to for the music scores to go along with many of their monster films; his music can be heard in such films as The Wolf Man, Son of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, The Mummy’s Hand, This Island Earth, Creature From The Black Lagoon as well as many others. His score for Creature From The Black Lagoon is perfect and captures the mood of the film the cue that appears when the Creature does is so amazing that I even used it when I made my first film Werewolf of Ohio as The Wolf Man’s cue! Not to mention, the more tender and water moments that his score helps truly bring to life. From time to time during the Halloween season on Alpha Rhythms, I will play a track off the soundtrack CD to help add to the listeners spooky evening. If you’re looking for the score music to this classic film you can find it on CD and while a little pricy, it’s worth it if you love the classic monster movie music.

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For those who are looking to own a copy of Creature From The Black Lagoon to add to their home video collection, you can find it on many different formats from VHS, Laserdisc, DVD and even Blu-Ray! Not to mention for those who love horror hosted films, you can find episodes of it hosted by the likes of Svengoolie and even Captain Crypt. My favorite has to be the Creature From The Black Lagoon Legacy Collection DVD set that not only has the three films in the series but also lots of great extras. So if you’re looking for Gill-Man to grace you TV screen there are many great ways to own the film out on the market.

CREATURE-FROM-THE-BLACK-LAGOON vhsCreature From The Black Lagoon laserdiscCreature From The Black Lagoon Legacy Collection DVD

Around 2009 (or was it 2010?) Independent B Movie was trying to make a grand comeback to the world of shot-on-video horror films and the idea was to make a few films under series banners like “Bark At The Moon” with all films being about werewolves or “Bad Movie Night” being cheesy comedies. One other series planned was remakes of classic Universal Monster films done in our own low budget styles, and the first one to be filmed was “Matt Hoffman’s Creature From The Black Lagoon.”  As you could tell by the title Matt Hoffman, who directed such films as The Wolf Hunter and Wolf Hunter 2 would have sat in the director chair and made the magic happen. The film was being produced by Stephen Alexander II and a Creature body suit was purchased as well as fake blood and other filming supplies as Hoffman wrote the script that would have followed a drifter coming into a small town and falling in love with the sheriff’s daughter and also the government trying to cover up a toxic waste spill that created The Creature. It was being filmed on a JVC Mini-DV camera, and Stephen stockpiled tapes for Hoffman to use for the epic shoots. The film would have starred Bruce Lerma, Jessie Ellis and a lovely young lady named Brandi as well as many more extras. The film began production and cast as the part of the drifter first was Thomas Blurton, who quit the film after only one day of shooting, and he was replaced by Bruce Lerma who went from being in a minor role to becoming the main star. Hoffman along with his crew filmed many days and even a few Creature attacks in the lakes and streams around town, but sadly the film was not to be as Hoffman was dealing with some personal issues and cancelled the film and this marked the end of the Universal Re-Boots from I.B.M as we looked at the cost to make them being very high and with the first one being dead in the lagoon water, they just proved to be more than the dying shot on video company could take. It’s a sad day, but I would also like to make the announcement here on Rotten Ink that as of October 31st 2014 Independent B Movie will close it’s doors for good and fold up shop making the end of one of Ohio’s longest running shot on video companies.  It’s a sad day but one that has been coming for a very long time. Maybe at some point I will do an update about the closing and get some memories from all those friends and fellow directors involved with making the company what it was. Below are some screen captures of footage from “Matt Hoffman’s Creature From The Black Lagoon”…And for those wondering, I was going to direct the re-make of Frankenstein, Josh Weinberg was slated for Dracula and Bruce Lerma was going to do The Mummy.

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During season one of Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre, host Baron Von Porkchop is out fishing using his butler Bean’s brain as the bait to try and capture a giant killer catfish to serve at the following weeks gathering dinner to honor the late Dr. Creep who had just passed away, but instead of catching the man eating catfish he hooks The Creature From The Black Lagoon and decides to use the green tinted creature meat to serve to his guests! The next episode for the Tribute To Dr. Creep, the Creature’s head can be seen as the centerpiece to the dinner…so thanks to Baron Von Porkchop your swimming pools and waterways are safe from the hideous Creature of the water.

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Gill-Man is no stranger to comic books, and in 1963 Dell Comics released a comic book based around him, and it was pretty good and one of the better ones from their Universal Monster series line. In fact last Halloween time I did a massive update about all of Dell’s Universal Monster titles called “Start Halloween Off With The Universal Monsters!” and if you read that update then you would know that it was one that came very close to capturing the mood and feeling of the film and the artwork is well done and is just what he should have looked like for a comic made in the early 60’s. If your interest is peaked on the comic as well as the rest of the Dell Universal Monster comics, I suggest that you give the update all about them a read. Just to help along the urge to read that update for the first time or again below is some of the artwork from the comic as well as the cover to the issue.

Dell Creature Art 1Creature Dell Comic 1 Dell Creature Art 2

In 1954, the same year of the film, Atlas Comics put out issue #35 of Sub-Mariner where Prince Namor took on a half fish and half man creature called Elmer who in fact looked allot like a bloated version of Gill-Man. Elmer had some issue and his creator wanted to try and fix them making it so his “monster” could breath under water. So long before Atlas became Marvel Comics, they had a generic version of Gill-Man fighting one of their top super heroes of the time, and this is pretty cool as nowadays if they would have had Gill-Man show up in a comic he would just be an actor in a suit or something lame like that. The issue when it was first put out cost .35 and now it goes for lowest $100.00 all the way up to a thousand. Check out the art and cover to this issue and enjoy the fun bloated version of The Creature named Elmer.

Elmer 1Sub Mariner Comics 35Elmer 2

I want to touch up on a few other fun Creature comic appearances like a re-imagining one simple called “Creature From The Depths” that was put out by Image Comics but originally suppose to come out via Dead Dog Comics. This one-shot issue is really cool and will for sure be the subject of a future update! Archie Comics as well had many issue where The Creature was the guest on the cover, and this helps add to the Abbott & Costello making Universal Monsters funny and not scary mindset for the youth of the time as well as turning the classic monsters into things that no longer gave kids nightmares. Even if they are done in silly ways Gill-Man has been on the cover of “Archie’s Pal Jughead” and “Laugh” and both covers are really well done and makes me wish Archie Comics would have made issue based on the Universal Monsters! Below is the cover so give em a look at and enjoy.

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The comic industry is packed with companies making books about super heroes and the ones making stuff horror-related mostly deal with zombies because the undead seem to be the flavor of the decade thanks to comics/ pop culture stuff like The Walking Dead. Many companies in the past have tackled Universal Monsters but mostly they are all one-shot issues and never a full series.  Companies like Dell, Dark Horse and Monster Comics all released comics about Dracula, Wolf Man and The Mummy and all did them pretty well for the time they were released. In 2014 as I write this, no company has a comic series going based on a Universal Monster and that’s sad because I really think that if the right artist and writer were on board, a comic series based on the likes of The Creature could be fantastic! I could see the comic taking place after the events of Creature Walks Among Us and show us the readers how he survived his surgery and apparent drowning, and then they could flash forward to modern times and make it more scary and show that the classics really don’t have to go out of spooky style. I would love to see Dark Horse Comics get back on board with Universal to make more comics based on Creature From The Black Lagoon, and if they don’t I think IDW could really do him justice and one could only imagine the Gill-Man crossovers with The X-Files or even Ghostbusters being super kick butt. One other company who I think could do a Creature From The Black Lagoon comic series really well would have to be HorrorHound Magazine! As of right now they only do a music label outside of the magazine and conventions but here is to hoping that they will get on a comic branch sooner then later. Below is some amazing artwork of Gill-Man I found snooping around the web and any and all of these great artist would be perfect hires for a comic series that should be made…so check em all out!

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Speaking of IDW and if they made a comic on Gill-Man with the possibility of an X-Files crossover, I just want to share this picture of Gillian Anderson Agent Scully herself with a version of the Gill-Man that was used for Rolling Stones Magazine! Just think of the possible plot of this cool crossover that should but sadly proudly never will happen. Before we move on I also want to point out how stunning Gillian looks with this pin-up model look.

Gillian and Gill-Man

So are you ready to travel to the black lagoon with the S.S. Rotten Ink? As your captain I feel I must warn you about a few things that all passengers should know about this journey into the unknown. 1st don’t drink the water; while the lagoon H2O might look tasty it is filled with bacteria that can cause sickness. 2nd there have been reports of a giant fishman who really likes dark haired women so we suggest if your female and look like Julie Addams for God sake don’t go swimming! And 3rd and the most importantly I want to remind my readers I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So before we set sail, let’s thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this Dark Horse Comic in stock, and let’s hope we have a fun and safe ride. And oh yeah this comic is a film adaptation based on the original film!

Creature From The Black Lagoon DH 1

Creature From The Black Lagoon # 1  ****
Released in 1993   Cover Price $4.95   Dark Horse Comics   #1 of 1

Dr. Maia finds a strange claw in the middle of the amazon buried.  It’s like nothing he’s ever seen as it’s almost human-like yet also very fish like. Maia leaves his native workers to watch camp as he travels back to the USA to show fellow scientist his discovery as well as hope for help to get an expedition to find the rest of the body and study it. His team consists of Dr. David Reed, Mark Williams, Kay Lawrence, Dr. Edwin Thompson and ship boat captain Lucas, and they head down the Amazon river to the location the fossil claw was found, but instead of being greeted by Maia’s native workers they are treated to finding their dead bodies! They are freaked out but go about the dig and turn up nothing, David gets an idea that maybe some thousand years back maybe the rock the fossil was found in was washed away and is somewhere in the water below. Lucas tells them of a place called the black lagoon where the river ends and that’s where the group travels to find the fossils they seek. David and Kay are in love, and it’s clear as they arrive to the Lagoon that Mark has strong feelings toward Kay and this adds tension between the co-workers as they dive into the waters below and remove a sample of rock. While the men go study the rocks Kay goes for a swim and this is when we see that Gill-Man is in the waters and is in love with the beauty he sees in his waters! The next time David and Mark go diving they see Gill-Man, and Mark shoots him with a spear gun wounding him and making him very mad as he gets revenge later that night as he kills a boat hand. The group fights back as the use a numbing poison that they dump into the water causing him to slowly become paralyzed but not before killing another boat hand and trying to kidnap Kay! As Gill-Man falls from the effects of the drug Mark bashes him in the head with a log sparking even more tension between he and David. On the ship Gill-Man is kept in the tank and this don’t hold him long as he escapes but not before ripping at Edwin’s face leaving him very injured. All the group have had enough and want to leave the Lagoon but Mark of course doesn’t when he thinks of the money that could be made off the Gill-Man and when Lucas says they are leaving they find that the entrance is blocked! While trying to move the large tree that has been placed to keep them in by Gillman, Mark is attacked and killed by the creatures hands leaving another death for the crew to deal with. David uses the rest of the drug in a air gun and uses it against Gill-Man as he hooks a rope around the tree, as they try and lift the tree out of the way Gill-Man comes aboard and grabs Kay and takes her to his underwater cave hideout. David dives in after them and comes face to face with Gill-Man who he stabs with his knife and just as it looks as if David and Kay are in terrible danger Lucas and Dr. Maia appear in the cave with shotguns and shoot Gill-Man a number of times. The comic’s ends with the remaining crew watching a bloody Gill-Man shuffle into the water and collapse.

This is one of the best film adaptation comic books I have ever read.  The story follows the film’s script and the artwork is top notch. David Reed is a good man who is in love with Kay and does his scientific work for all the right reasons, while his fellow collogue Mark wants the glory David wants to find the fossil for the things the world could learn from it. Plus when things go bad and Gill-Man appears, it’s David who is the hero that risks it all to save Kay the woman he loves. Kay is much like David as she is a sweet and nice person who just so happens to be super hot and has a charm to her that not only captures the eye of David but also Gill-Man and Mark! Lucas is your typical boat captain of that time and has heard many spooky stories and never believed them until he is force to when he meets Gill-Man! Mark is just a jerk who thinks that cause he has money and some fame that he can act any way he wants.  The fact he is so cruel to Gill-Man shows just how little he respects the world around him, and he gets what’s coming to him when he is killed by Gill-Man. Dr. Maia and Dr. Thompson while players in this story really don’t add much besides extra bodies for the hunt and for the attacks. Gill-Man is a great monster in this comic as for the most part he starts off pretty peaceful and it’s not till that dumbass Mark shoots him with a spear that he becomes violent.  I mean I’m pretty sure he would have kidnapped Kay either way but he might not have killed many of the crew. But then again he did kill Maia’s native workers for no reason so maybe he is just a killing machine. The comic’s story is super close to that of the film and that’s pretty cool and reading this reminds me of the update I did called “Marvel At The Movies Part 1” and makes me really looking forward to doing a second update on that subject. This comic would have been a perfect launch point for Dark Horse to make Creature From The Black Lagoon into a full fledged series, and they also could have done adaptations of Revenge of The Creature and Creature Walks Among Us if they wanted to test the comic buying market to see if they had interest in this character. The comics art was done by Author “Art” Adams and Terry Austin and it’s really well done and captures the mood and feeling of the film it’s based on. The one thing that’s shocking is the use of blood in the comic as when the Gill-Man is shot and stabbed they use a lot of the red stuff, in fact one panel is heartbreaking as Gill-Man has blood pouring out of his wounds and he’s marching into the water as his safety place…it’s a sad sight. But to sum up this comic if you’re a fan of the film or even just like classic style horror comics then I would recommend you buy this comic and give it a read. Below is some of the art work used in this comic and as you can see it’s amazing!

Dark Horse Creature Art 1

I hope you enjoyed this Birthday Bash for Gill-Man, a true classic Universal Monster icon who has terrified film watchers for 60 years now.  Plus with my birthday being in September I figured why not celebrate his on the same month as mine! Also if you’re a fan of the art above done by Author “Art” Adams make sure to Google some more of his artwork. I think he does fantastic work not only with Monsters but also Women, he captures the beauty of the female figure and does a great Wonder Woman and Black Canary. But our next update is going to be another spooky comic series as we take a look at Blackthorne’s comic run based on the 80’s monster TV show Werewolf! So until then make sure to watch a Creature From The Black Lagoon film, read a comic or two and support your local horror host and get ready to bark at the moon with me on the next update! And in closing let’s say it all together HAPPY BIRTHDAY GILL-MAN!

Werewolf Show Logo

The 8th Wonder Of Giant Classic Comics King Kong

My mother was 7 or 8 when she attempted to watch the 1933 film King Kong with her mom when it aired on TV.  She watched as a group set out to sea to make a movie and landed on an island, and when King Kong showed up just the sight and sound of the beast scared her enough to make her hide behind her mom’s chair! She would peek around the corner and shiver in fright of the sight of the giant ape. Way before the gross out films of the 60’s made by the likes of Hershel Gordon Lewis became the norm in what’s “scary” about horror films, the likes of a giant ape with a love for blondes paved the way and terrified the young and old. While many not consider it a horror film, I have always viewed it as one as King Kong is a giant ape creature that caused panic not only on his home island but also New York, and he does kill and eat humans so yeah, it spells horror film to me. I saw the film when I was about 7 or 8, the same age she first saw it, and I can remember my Mom telling me about her first viewing and this set the bar very high as I sat down on the couch ready to watch it alongside my parents and my brother on a VHS that we rented from Waynesville’s library. From the moment the film started, I was hooked on every word and when Kong showed up I became a fan, and to me every gorilla toy became King Kong. The watch with my family was a great one and was one of many fun family night of watching a flick on the old VCR while eating popcorn and being entertained. I don’t want to give too much of the plot away of the film as that will happen as we review the Gold Key comic adaptation a little later on so I will give you the cliff notes version. The film is about a filmmaker and some sailors who take a fresh faced new actress to an island were the natives take her to appease King Kong, a giant gorilla who rules the land.  They save her and also take Kong to New York as a stage attraction, and he escapes running wild in the city until he is killed in the end. It’s an amazing classic film with special effects that were way ahead of their time.  If you have not seen this film, do yourself a favor and watch it!

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In the 1980’s Ted Turner owned Turner Classic Movies wanted to do something fresh and new to King Kong so they did the unthinkable…. they colorized it! To be honest it seemed like an odd kick Turner was on, taking old classic black and white films and turning them into color films to air on his classic movie station, and on the top of the list that sparked the most debate was what they did to King Kong. I can remember that my mom and dad were not pleased that they messed with a classic film this way, but being so young I was a little curious to see what the classic Kong would look like in color. I seen the color version after the black and white and still preferred the original to the tampered with version. King Kong was the first movie on VHS that I owned two versions of as I had to own them both, and I would say I watched the black and white more than I did the colorized one that I got dirt cheap brand new at Blockbuster Video.

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Now if you look at King Kong as a horror film like I do, then you would have to look at Fay Wray as the original scream queen, and she proves she has a set of lungs as she screams her head off at the first site of Kong. She began her acting career making short films and making westerns for Universal but left once she became a WAMPAS Baby Stars meaning she was listed as an actress to watch. As a teenager Wray was signed to a contract with Paramount Pictures where she made over a dozen films like the failure 1928 silent film The Wedding March.  Wray was able to make the transition from silent to talkie films and left Paramount to make other films for other companies, the most notable being RKO that hired her for her first horror films like Doctor X, The Most Dangerous Game and her most famous film King Kong.  She was proud of her work in Kong and that film saved RKO from going bankrupt! During that time as well she was in a few other horror films like The Vampire Bat and Mystery In The Wax Museum. By the 1940’s, Wray retired briefly from acting but came back to make more films and take TV parts being on such shows as Perry Masson and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. Wray continued to act for many years and even turned down a part in James Cameron’s 1997 smash hit film Titanic. Sadly at the age of 96 Fay Wray passed away of natural causes in 2004 while she slept.  After her passing, the Empire State Building shut off all its lights for 15 minutes to honor her legacy. Wray was a true beauty, a talented actress and could possibly be the first scream queen of cinema.

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Because King Kong was such a huge hit at the box office, a sequel was made in 1933, coming out only 9 months after the original. The film follows the film director from the first film who is now in hot water for King Kong running wild in New York and travels to find that the giant ape might have had an offspring.  That film was called Son of Kong! In Japan in 1962, they made a film called King Kong vs. Godzilla where they pit the world’s top giant monsters against each other, and in 1967 they made another King Kong film called King Kong Escapes that has our lovable Kong fighting a robot version of himself called Mecha Kong. Paramount Pictures in 1976 decided to make a remake of King Kong and added in more modern touches to the film and even trades in the Empire State Building for the Twin Towers as well as the stop motion Kong for a stuntman in a suit done by FX God Rick Baker. In 1986 the remake got a forgettable follow up called King Kong Lives that had the giant ape getting a pacemaker put in to replace his damaged heart and finding a mate who has also been brought to the USA. In 2005 a longwinded Peter Jackson remake of King Kong was made and besides more minutes added to the runtime, it was a good but unnecessary film. With all these spin off films, sequels and remakes this just shows you how much impact this film had on classic cinema, and I agree with James Rolfe who said that film students should watch the original in film school right alongside Citizen Kane. While none of them are as good as the original film, they are all still fun watches that help add to the legacy of Kong and prove that this primate of fright, this ape of terror, is truly a legend of cinema.

Son Of Kong PosterKing Kong Escapes PosterKing Kong 1976 PosterKing Kong Lives PosterKing Kong 2005 Poster

In 1966 America and Japanese animation studios teamed up to make The King Kong Show, an animated adventure kid show that had King Kong befriending the Bond Family and stopping the likes of Dr. Who (and no, not the BBC version) from capturing Kong for his own evil gain. This animated cartoon was teamed with another show about a tiny special agent called Tom of T.H.U.M.B. and the show would last till 1969 with a total of 3 seasons and 25 episodes. This cartoon also helped Toho make the film King Kong Escapes and also was to be inspiration to the film that became Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster, which Kong was suppose to star in, not Zilla. The cartoon over the years did not hold up well and was mostly forgotten until it got released on DVD as volumes a few years back. I never remember seeing the show when I was a kid, and I think it would have fit perfect on early morning Saturday’s back in the 80’s and could have also found a place on the USA Cartoon Express. I saw the show when I was older and in my 20’s found it to be pretty cool but only from a retro standpoint.

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So as we all know Toho studios made two films with King Kong in them in the 1960’s, but did you know that there are also two others made in Japan way before this that are now lost films? The first was a short silent film called “Wasei Kingu Kongu” made in 1933 the same year King Kong was released and was a team up from RKO and Shochiku Studios. Not much is known about the film besides RKO asked them to make it and that instead of a stop motion Kong, it was a man in a suit.  It was directed by Torajiro Saito with Isamu Yamaguchi playing King Kong and all that is left of the film is one single picture that was printed. Next was a 1938 film called “King Kong Appears In Edo” that made by Zensho Cinema with permission from RKO and was directed by Soya Kumagai and had a size changing King Kong attacking Edo (Tokyo) during Medieval times! Fuminori Ohashi who some 16 years later would make the original Godzilla costume made the Kong costume in this film.  Just think about that, King Kong was really Japan’s first giant movie monster and not Godzilla like we all thought! Both films are believed to have been destroyed during the bombings of World War II and neither ever showed outside of Japan making all master prints being only stored there. I learned about these missing films thanks once more to James Rolfe (Angry Video Game Nerd) when he did a top 10 list of lost Horror Films and the Japan Kong films were his # 1, and I agree with him when he said he hopes all the films he picked won’t always be lost films. Below are some pictures of Japan’s King Kongs, the first being Toho’s with the second being the 1933 version and last being the 1938 one.

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Tiger Electronics who are best known for making handheld games in the late 80’s and 90’s also made some console games in the age of Atari 2600 under the brand name TigerVision. And would you know it that in 1982 they made a game based on King Kong that was a follow up to their handheld games made about the big ape the year before. The game was a total rip off of Donkey Kong and had you playing as a guy who was trying to get to the top were King Kong was.  The graphics were bad and Kong was a stiff looking pixel mess. I have played the game several times and even own it and I must say that it really is a bad game. Though I do find it funny that Donkey Kong was a clone of King Kong who in turn had a game made about him that was just a bad clone of Donkey Kong. The game on release only sold moderately well and was by no means looked at as a classic.

King Kong Atari 1King Kong Atari 2600King Kong Atari 2

Ideal made a board game in 1976 based on the remake movie that had 2-4 players trying to get to the top of the Twin Towers before King Kong so that they can capture him, or you can win the game by saving the woman from his right hand via a special mission. But Kong won’t make your trip easy as he is flipping all around trying to knock your player back to the start. I own this game and played it with the fellow members of The Dayton Board Game Society who are Stephen Alexander II, Josh Weinberg, Jeremy Hoyt and Garrison Kane on one of our past meetings ,and I can remember that while the game was not all that ground breaking we all had fun trying to knock each other off the building using Kong as our puppet and it was a blast seeing just how competitive it got. If you get a chance and like classic board games based on movies then I would say check this one out, play time to complete is about 20 minutes give or take a few. I should also share we played this game on February 6th 2013 in Josh Weinberg’s basement and we also played the LJN A Nightmare on Elm Street video game for the NES and we ate Wing Zone.

Josh Playing King Kong Board GameKing Kong Board GameUs Playing King Kong

King Kong not only has been made into many video games and board games but he has also had pinball machines based around him, many comic books, novels, magazines, t-shirts, toys, Halloween costumes, soundtracks, stickers, dolls, drinking glasses and so much more. If you’re a King Kong fan, then there is something for you out there in the world of merchandise. Some of my favorite King Kong merchandise that I owned was my Imperial King Kong action figure that I use to make fight my Godzilla figure and even Kong was wrapped up in my epic Toy Wars, also would be my Crestwood Monster Series Book based on King Kong that gave the history of the film as well as some sweet photos. I also really liked my adaptation novel by Delos W. Lovelace and can remember reading it before bedtime many nights. It’s odd looking back at my youth now being 35 years old and seeing just how much of an impact King Kong has had on my life.  It’s a neat feeling knowing that a giant ape with a love for blondes truly means something to me. And for those of you who listen to Alpha Rhythms on WYSO (91.3 FM) on Sunday nights, I have played soundtrack pieces from the original score by Max Steiner as well as tracks from King Kong Lives by John Scott.

Movie Maniac King KongImperial King KongBen Copper King KongKing Kong Novel

Before we move onto The Gold Key Comic Review I of course have to talk about a ride I have wanted to go on since I first heard about it; that’s the one and only KongFrontation ride at Universal Studios Orlando that opened on June 7th 1990 and became a major attraction at the park. The ride was based on the 1976 remake as well as a ride Universal Studios had at their Hollywood park called King Kong Encounter that opened in 1986. The 5 minute ride would place you and others inside a tramcar but not before you walked down a mock New York street complete with newscasts playing on TVs to build up that King Kong is roaming the streets.  Once inside the car you are treated to explosions as well as giant animatronic King Kong’s that would roar and knock your little car around given the effect that he was attacking. In the end he would attack while you’re on the bridge but your driver would get you out safe and unharmed. This ride seemed amazing to me and just the thought of being close to a life size version of Kong was enough to make me want to go, but being a kid and having parents that didn’t like to travel out of state put a damper on getting to go. The attraction closed in 2002, and two years later a lame ride based on the terrible Mummy Remake took its place, marking the sad fact that I never got to ride the one roller coaster/attraction that I always wanted to. As far as King Kong Encounter, it had guests on a tramcar as King Kong would knock a helicopter from the sky and would end with you being eye level with the great ape on the Brooklyn Bridge as he tries to break it apart.  Of course you would make it off the bridge and would be safe thanks to your driver. The Kong animatronic was at the time the world’s largest and was so detailed that it’s “breath” smelled of bananas!  This ride as well lasted a total of 5 minutes and was one of the main attractions to the park. Sadly it as well came to an end when in 2008 a massive fire broke out and burnt the attraction up, but in Universal Hollywood they didn’t give up on King Kong and replaced it with an attraction called King Kong 360 3-D. I really would have loved to have ridden these attractions and sadly with both of them gone for good I will never get the chance to do so. But I can watch videos of them on YouTube and hear stories from my friends who did get to experience it…sigh.

King Kong RideSo I think our voyage through the sea of King Kong is over and we looked at the movies, video game, cartoon, missing films, merchandise as well as a theme park attraction but now it’s time for us to take a walk on Skull Island alongside Gold Key comics and see what this 1968 adaptation has to offer to the Kong legacy. I want to think Bell Book And Comic for having this comic in stock, and I would like to remind that I graded on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, it’s entertainment value and it’s art and story. So let’s man up and walk through the giant gates into King Kong’s lsland and hope he doesn’t stomp us into the mud!

King Kong 1

King Kong  # 1    ***1/2
Released in 1968     Cover Price .25    Gold Key   # 1 of 1

Carl Denham is a filmmaker who can’t find a lead actress for his top secret next project.  He even has rented a boat called the “Wonderer” along with all its crew and after an agent tells him that he will not supple him with an actress, the director walks down the streets of New York and finds a pretty thief woman named Ann Darrow who was stealing an apple due to hunger.  Denham buys it for her and hires her to be in his new film. While on board the first mate Jack Driscoll falls in love with Ann, and the two start up a relationship.  They find out that they are to port at an unknown island called Kong Island. But while at the island they find that the natives are worshiping and sacrificing women to an unknown “God” and they have set their sights on Ann who they kidnap off the boat and take to the altar where a giant gorilla named King Kong falls for her and takes her deep into his jungle home! Driscoll and Denham lead some crew members on a rescue mission and while in the jungle they find that Kong is not the only giant monster as dinosaurs and sea serpents all blocking their trail to save Ann from Kong’s grip. Kong finds that he is being followed after he beats up a pair of Triceratops and knocks all the crew members off a log killing them leaving only Driscoll and Denham left.  As Driscoll follows Kong, Denham goes back to the ship for more men and gas bombs. King Kong while trying to grab Driscoll from a cave is attacked by a T-Rex and a major battle breaks out between the giant beasts! As Kong climbs to his cave home he must fight off all types of attackers and during this Driscoll saves Ann, and the two escape via the river below. As they reach the gates Kong is in hot pursuit and it’s here that Denham uses his gas bombs to knock Kong out and then takes him to New York to use the giant ape as a sideshow, but when Kong see’s Ann again he breaks his chains and escapes his cage and takes Ann to the top of the Empire State Building where he is attacked by fighter planes that lead to his death as they use machine guns on him while he is distracted by Ann being saved by Driscoll again and he falls to his death. In the end Ann and Driscoll are safe in each other’s arms, Kong is dead in the middle of the street and Denham learns that it was beauty that killed the beast.

This is another amazingly done comic film adaptation of a classic horror film much like Comic Library International’s Edison’s Frankenstein 1910 that holds just so true enough to the source material but still adds its own flare to spice it up. The plot is your simple Beauty and The Beast and follows a young actress who gains the affection of a tough sailor as well as a giant ape and when the big primate is taken away from his home and placed in the big city, his only comfort when he escapes is his blonde bombshell but even love can’t save him from being slain. Ann Darrow is a sweet woman who turns her misfortune of being poor into fame when she takes the part in a movie that leads her to charming King Kong to be put on display. Even though Ann fears Kong she also still feels some affection for him and wishes him no ill will and even tries to save the beast as the planes shoot him down. King Kong is neither good nor bad and it’s clear he is very territorial of his land and very protective of Ann who he has fallen in love with. I love the fact that he keeps not only the natives in check but also all the other giant beasts that live on the island proving he really is the King. Carl Denham, while a money grubbing rich film making geek, still really shows he cares about his friends as Ann’s safety when being taken is a big priority to him, though he does mistreat King Kong by keeping him in chained up and taking him away from his home to be looked at by New York’s rich snobs and press. Jack Driscoll is your very classic tough guy who only cares about the woman he loves and will risk it all for her. The major changes I noticed between the comic and the film is that in the comic the ship is called The Wonderer, while in the film it’s The Venture; in the comic the island is called Kong Island, while in the film it’s Skull Island. I also noticed in the film Jack is annoyed that Ann is on the ship and it takes awhile before he falls for her, in the comic it happens fast. This was the second time I have read this comic and I found that I enjoy it more and more after each read and find something very magical about the whole reading experience. The copy I have is a classic example of Rotten Ink as the smell of the decomposing ink fills your nose when you flip through the pages, while not a beat up copy, it’s still very yellowed on the pages. The artwork is done by ummm….an unknown artist as no credit is given, but I must say the art is perfect for this comic and while Kong doesn’t capture the full look of his movie appearance it still looks the part enough to draw this comic reader in. The cover as well is very eye catching and I am sure drew kids attention to it by using lots of orange and putting a giant ape crushing planes on the cover. If you like the film or like classic horror comics, than this is for sure one you should check out. I am glad I got it and I am sure a few years from now I will read it again.  Below is a piece of art from the comic just so you can see the style Gold Key went for in this comic.

King Kong Art

Really this is a great comic with great classic artwork and really is going to help us kick off our two month long horror comic countdown to Halloween 2014! So on this update we traveled to Skull Island and got to know King Kong and see what that massive beast was about, but how about next time we travel to a black lagoon and celebrate the 60th birthday of the Universal Monster Gill-Man.  So until then read a comic or two, watch a horror film and support your local Horror Host.

Creature from the Black Lagoon Logo 2