Anne Francis Stars In…Our Look At Forbidden Planet

Pop quiz time, Rotten Inkers! Can you name the ten films that are referred to in Rocky Horror Picture Show’s “Science Fiction Double Feature”? It’s okay, I’ll give you a minute to sing through it in your head. Done? Alright. Even if you didn’t get all of them, I can bet that one you did catch was in the chorus. Sing it with me, “Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet.” This musical exercise is my less than clever way to introduce today’s update, all about seminal science fiction film Forbidden Planet. I’m Juliet, occasional co-pilot here on Rotten Ink. As you may guessed by now, having read my prior contributions to Rotten Ink, although I have massive love and respect for the horror genre, my earliest and continuing love is for science fiction. If Matt’s the Monster Kid of our house, I’m the spaceships and robots kid for sure. So it’s perfect that we’re about to dive into a film, and the comic books adaptations of it, that not only feature spaceships and robots but really influenced all of the spaceship and robot things to follow it. We’ll start with some history.

Forbidden Planet was released in 1956 by MGM and was shot in Eastmancolor and CinemaScope. It was written by Irving Block and Allen Adler (who was blacklisted from Hollywood during the second part of the Red Scare), directed by Fred M. Wilcox and stars Walter Pidgeon, Anne Francis and Leslie Nielsen. It was the first science fiction film to take place entirely on an interstellar planet that was far from Earth, and the first to show humans traveling faster than the speed of light in a ship of their own creation. These are two of the many reasons Gene Rodenberry names Forbidden Planet as one of his main inspirations for Star Trek. You can also see its visual and design influence on the Star Wars franchise. And remember, this film was released 13 years before the moon landing and five years before cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being to travel to space.

Another first for Forbidden Planet is its score. It was the film to have an entirely electronic music score, though at the time, it was referred to as “electronic tonalities” to avoid music guild fees. The composers, Bebe and Louis Barron were discovered accidentally when an MGM producer was visiting New York and saw them perform at a beatnik club and then hired them on the spot to create music for Forbidden Planet. Many people think that the pre-Moog synthesizer electronic drones were created with a theremin, similar to part of the score for Hitchcock’s Spellbound, but the effect was actually created by electronic circuits and modulators that Louis Barron built himself. For this and their work, Heavenly Menagerie, which is considered the first piece of electronic music committed to magnetic tape, the Barrons are considered pioneers of electronic music.

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Robby the Robot is notable for both his design and characterization. Robby’s design was developed from initial ideas and sketches by MGM production designer Arnold “Buddy” Gillespie, art director Arthur Lonergan, and writer Irving Block. The concepts were refined by production illustrator Mentor Huebner and perfected by MGM staff mechanical designer Robert Kinoshita, and Robby was built by the prop department. For his time, Robby sported one of the most complex robot designs moviegoers had ever seen, comparable in design only to Maria, the Menschmaschine in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (another of my favorite robot films). MGM spent a reported $125,000 on Robbie, which with inflation is about $1.1 million today, and compared to the overall budget of Forbidden Planet, he remains of the one most of expensive single props compared to the overall budget of the film he’s in. The suit itself is unique; made of three pieces that completely surrounded the actor and contained all of Robby’s electronics, it could be filmed from any angle without a reset unlike Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still, whose suit had to be reset for different angles to cover special fastenings that allowed for movement.

As a character, Robby was one of the first science fiction robots to have a distinct personality and to be considered an integral supporting character in his film. Again, Maria from Metropolis and Gort are good precursor comparisons. Contrary to Forbidden Planet’s poster and much of the advertising leading up to the film, Robby isn’t the villain, and in fact, follows a version of Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics throughout the film including (and most important to the climax of the story), the fact that he cannot kill a human being. He is portrayed as physically strong, benevolent, extremely loyal to Alta and Dr. Morbius, and, at times, he’s a bit sassy.

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It’s unknown whether Robby takes his name from Fantastic Island’s Robbie – a mechanical decoy used by Doc Savage or from the Asimov story of the same name, which was published in 1940. However, after Forbidden Planet was released, Robby became a pop culture icon. He had another starring film role in MGM’s 1957 movie The Invisible Boy and makes a cameo in Gremlins. He appeared in many TV shows, including the The Addams Family, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Mork and Mindy. He and and several props from Forbidden Planet were used in the “Uncle Sam” episode of The Twilight Zone (the original Rod Serling version), but Robby donned an alternate head for that appearance, based on one of the original, rejected models created for Forbidden Planet. Robby also appeared in several episodes of Lost in Space, in which he battled Robot B-9 (aka Robot), who he’s sometimes confused for. In 2004, Robby was inducted into the Robot Hall of Fame.

If you haven’t seen Forbidden Planet, by now you’re probably wondering what the heck it’s about. Based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the story follows the crew of the starship C-57D, lead by Commander Adams, as they travel to Altair IV with the goal of discovering what happened to an Earth expedition sent to the planet twenty years prior. When they arrive on the planet, they find its only inhabitants are Dr. Morbius, his beautiful daughter Altaira, and Robby, their robot servant. But something sinister lurks on the planet, and Dr. Morbius is keen to keep it a secret. I’ll leave the story at that for now as we’ll dive further into it when we review Innovation’s comic book adaptation of the film.

As I mentioned above, I am a lifelong scifi fan, and I’m particularly fond of space stories and robot stories so it wasn’t hard to fall in love with Forbidden Planet. I first saw it when I was around thirteen years old. In 1996, MGM re-released the film on VHS and laserdisc with a special widescreen presentation for its 40th anniversary. My dad got the VHS as a gift, and one day I decided to check it out. At the time, I didn’t know about Forbidden Planet’s place in science fiction history, how really important it was the genre and how it influenced the creators of many of the things I already loved. What I knew back then was that it was a great movie. It’s lush, beautiful and puts you completely into its world. All of the characters are smart, including Altaira who is naive about certain things, having never lived with other humans, but can handle her own with the ship’s crew. Robby has such personality, and his look, as well as that of the other props, is yet another argument for practical effects and design over CGI. The story gets at all of the great science fiction questions of forbidden knowledge and its power, the ethics of being an outsider in someone else’s world and how far artificial intelligence should be allowed to go without human intervention. Forbidden Planet instantly took a space in my top five all time movies where it’s remained ever since.

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After Forbidden Planet was released, Robby the Robot became a pop culture icon and a favorite for collectors of science fiction merchandise. He’s been a toy, a Funko pop figure, a talking bank, and a bobble head, among other things (I own all of those, by the way). There are also model kits for both Robby and the ship. The iconic Forbidden Planet poster (a reproduction of which hangs above my bed) has made its way onto lunch boxes, t-shirts, and variety of print formats. The film itself has been released on VHS, laserdisc, DVD and BluRay, and the soundtrack is available on CD and both vintage and new edition vinyl.

In 1992, Innovation Comics, in association with Turner Entertainment, released a four part comic book adaptation of Forbidden Planet.  These comics are the subject of today’s update, and Robby reminds us that here are at Rotten Ink, comics are graded on a scale of 1 to 4 stars and that we are looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s prep to board our spacecraft and journey to the Forbidden Planet.

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Forbidden Planet  # 1   ****
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 1 of 4

Commander J.J. Adams and his crew have been traveling the vast unknown of space for over a year on a mission to find out what happened to the crew of the spaceship Bellerophon, sent to Altair 4 twenty years prior.  Upon approaching the planet’s orbit, Adams’ ship receives a message not to land, but they do so anyway.  At first the planet appears to have no trace of any survivors of the Bellerophon, but the crew is eventually greeted by Robby the Robot, who takes Adams and his command crew, which includes Doc Ostrow, to meet his master Dr. Morbius.  Morbius is cautious, if not downright suspicious of the newcomers, informing them that, while he is the only survivor from the Bellerophon, he is not in need of rescue.  The issue ends as Adams and his companions meet Altaira, Morbius’ nineteen year old daughter who was born on the planet.

This first issue, titled Relief Ship, is a really nice start to our adaptation of Forbidden Planet.  David Campiti’s script follows the beginning of the film faithfully and closely, so you don’t miss anything that’s been shortened or adapted to work in comics.  Daerick Gröss’ painted artwork really captures the distinct look and feel of the film, and the way the panels are structured loosely on larger, more atmospheric backgrounds is really interesting.  I’ve not seen that done in other books.  My only hesitation is that occasionally Innovation’s adaptation books get too artsy and lose the story completely, and/or worse, the art slows down the pacing of the storytelling and the title is cancelled before we get a complete adaptations (I’m looking at you, Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour).  So I’m proceeding cautiously because I don’t want that to happen with Forbidden Planet.  Hopefully the association with Turner for the publishing helped move things along a bit, and we’ll get the full story in these four issues.  So I guess it’s a good time to move on to Issue 2 and see if that’s the case.

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Forbidden Planet # 2 ***
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 2 of 4

Commander Adams and crew learn more about Altaira, Dr. Morbius’ daughter who we (and they) met at the end of issue #1.  Altaira is nineteen and was born on the planet.  Until this point, she had never met a human other than her father, and that combined with mysterious properties of the planet have somehow given her the ability to communicate with the animals residing on Altair 4.  This begins to change, however, as Altaira becomes intrigued by the crew of young men currently stationed on her planet, in particular Commander Adams, who at first spurns her rather naive advances but is ultimately unable to resist her charms.  Dr. Morbius is concerned for his daughter and for what her newly awakened passions might mean for all of their fate.

This is another great adaptation issue that, although it moves a few things around from the movie for a better page flow, once again stays faithful to the film’s story.  This issue, called The Innocence of Altaira, focuses on Morbius’ daughter.  This particular storyline is really interesting in both the film and the comic, and takes a scifi approach to the age-old story arc about the loss of innocence through the gaining of knowledge, either literal (which we’ll see more of soon) or sexual…or both.  Although she isn’t drawn to look like Ann Francis, the comic book version of Altaira is faithful to the film version, both highly intelligent and a bit naive and with a sassy relationship with Robby.  Once again the painted artwork is fantastic and full of the vibrant colors we expect from this portion of the film.  We’re at the halfway mark for this comic book series, and I think, if done correctly, based on our current pacing we could get the full film by the end of issue 4.  So onward, to Issue 3.

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Forbidden Planet # 3 ***
Released in 1992      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 3 of 4

It’s time for Dr. Morbius to finally explain the truth to Commander Adams and Doc Ostrow, that Altair 4 does, as they’ve been suspecting, hold a dark secret.  Taking them through a passageway in his office, Dr. Morbius leads the spacemen into an old laboratory belonging to the Krell, a long dead race of super beings who inhabited Altair 4 in the planet’s ancient past.  The Krell were highly advanced and had managed to harness the power of their own minds to build a great civilization and in turn use the machines they created to further enhance their minds. But in doing so, they unlocked the Id, a powerful monster born from their own thoughts that was eventually responsible for the downfall of the Krell and the deaths of the crew of the Bellerophon.  Morbius is concerned that through his own actions and the arrival of Adams and his crew, the monster has once again awakened and will destroy them all.

In this issue we get the Krell mythology and the origin of the Id monster, and again, although a few things were slightly rearranged for the comic, by and large this reveal worked in the comic just like it did in the film.  The one minor place where I felt like the comic felt a little short, however, is that I don’t feel like the artwork has the same impact as the graphics in the film when it came to depicting just how vast, advanced and intricate the Krell technology was.  Don’t get me wrong, it beautiful artwork, but in the film, you could really feel the size and scope based on the both the design and the camera set up.  But don’t let my complaints fool you into thinking this isn’t a great comic with great artwork, it really is – and, unless something goes completely haywire next issue, it looks like we are poised to get the whole film adaptation in the scheduled four issues.  So let’s get to it!

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Forbidden Planet # 4 ****
Released in 1993      Cover Price $2.50      Innovation     # 4 of 4

With the secrets of the Krell revealed, the Monster of the Id is growing stronger and threatens to destroy all of Altair 4.  Commander Adams and his crew are left with a choice: to flee the planet or to stay and fight.  Morbius, knowing that his own dabbling in Krell technology is in part to blame for the monster, encourages them to leave and to take Altaira with them.  As they try to make their escape, the monster attacks and Robby is unable to defend them because of a protocol that prevents him from harming Morbius or his family — you see, the Morbius has become part of the collective Id from which the monster is formed. So all hope is lost for the doctor.  Altaira and the recovered Robby agree to flee with Adams and his crew, and the ship blasts off into space as the planet implodes.

And there we have the epic conclusion to the comic book adaptation of Forbidden Planet, and yes, Innovation made it happen in the scheduled four issues.  This final issue holds the bulk of the action as our heroes must escape Altair 4 as the Id Monster grows stronger threatening to destroy them and the entire planet.  In this issue we see Altaira making the difficult choice to leave her father and Morbius having to reckon with the consequences of the damage he’s caused.  We also see Robby put to the test in a great example of Asimov’s Laws of Robotics when he cannot kill the monster because it and Dr. Morbius have become one in the same.  The was a great conclusion to a great comic book adaptation of the film.  From the script to the artwork, everything was done with care and respect for the source material which makes it a great read for fans and newcomers alike.  Take a look below at some of Daerick Gröss’ artwork.

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Often comic book adaptations of films are really hit or miss, but Innovation’s Forbidden Planet is definitely a hit for the casual or diehard fan.  Be sure to track this one down and check it out.  For our next update, we’re leaving outer space and landing back in the U.S.A. for Rotten Ink’s annual Fourth of July update wherein Matt will return to once again look at a title with a patriotic theme.  This time around he’s going with a classic, and I do mean classic – a reprint of the very first issue of Captain America.  So get your grill out and your sparklers ready (though keep them away from comic books for safety’s sake!) and get ready for our next update here on Rotten Ink.Captain America Logo 00

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Die, Monster, Die!

In the 1960’s Dell Comics was a major comic publisher who made lots of great comics based on cartoon characters, TV shows and movies. And among these titles, of course, many Horror Films got the comic treatment with many being the Edgar Allen Poe films of Roger Corman as well as a handful of others. One of the Horror films that got the Dell Comics treatment was the 1965 film Die, Monster, Die! This film stars Boris Karloff and has inspired many creative minds even in the world of music like The Misfits who based a song around this movie. This Horror Film is based off the story “The Colour Out Of Space” by H.P. Lovecraft and did its part to shock movie goers with its thrilling, mystery style of horror. So it’s my pleasure to bring you this very classic horror version of one of my “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates as we take a look at this creepy horror film and the comic based on it.

The first thing we need to look at is the film’s evil villain that is the wheelchair bound Nahum Witley and his radiated meteorite that he uses on planets and humans. Nahum is a man who likes to be in control and hide what he is doing as he is just following in the weird footsteps of his late father. Nahum has in his green house his mutated maid as well as planets and animals that are not under his control with his maid Helga hating him, and even his wife and daughter seem to have a dislike for him and his demanding cold ways. After an accident Nahum himself is mutated into a glowing green monster who is filled with rage as well as has the will to choke and kill his target victim! As a man he is not a threat as he is a weakened old man whose mind is being poisoned by the meteorite and cannot cause any damage. But as mutated Nahum, he is more powerful and has the power to kill with his bare hands as well as use his glowing green skin appearance to strike fear into the hearts of his victims. He also is radioactive and gives off a loud humming noise that is distracting to his human prey. The thing about Nahum is that he did not intend to be a bad person, it’s his vanity of wanting his estate to be beautiful that has driven him to be the keeper of the radiated meteorite, and when trying to rid himself of it, he soon pays the price of owning it as it takes him over. He does have a weakness that can lead to his destruction and that’s being radiated leaves his body very combustible and with a good fall or if hit hard enough, he will break apart and catch fire! While Nahum might not be the most powerful or spooky monster we have covered in one of these updates, he still is a deadly one if given the chance.

So now that we have learned about Nahum Witley and his meteorite that causes mutations, its time for us to take a look at the movie. As always we will take the films right up from our pals at IMDB and after I will write a little about the production of the film as well as some memories of watching it for the first time and my thoughts about it. So if you’re ready lets get to the film aspect of Die, Monster, Die!

Die, Monster, Die! (1965)

“A young man visits his fiancée’s estate to discover that her wheelchair-bound scientist father has discovered a meteorite that emits mutating radiation rays that have turned the plants in his greenhouse to giants. When his own wife falls victim to this mysterious power, the old man takes it upon himself to destroy the glowing object with disastrous results.”

Die Monster Die! was released in theaters on October 27, 1965 and was an American and British co-production that was produced by Samuel Z. Arkoff and released by American International Pictures. Jerry Sohl, who also wrote novels as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, wrote the script, and he based it on a story by H.P. Lovecraft, and the directing duties went to Daniel Haller who also directed the horror film The Dunwich Horror. The film brought on a solid and great cast with names like Boris Karloff, Patrick Magee, Suzan Farmer, Nick Adams and Freda Jackson all who delivered top notch performances. When released originally, it was shown as a double feature with the film Planet Of The Vampires and was met with mixed reviews from critics and movie goers. The film later found a fan base when it finally was shown on TV and later on home media like VHS and DVD. While not held as an all time classic horror movie Die, Monster, Die! has gained a cult following over its release.

The first time I saw this film was on cable when growing up. I can remember it was a weekend when it came on and I found it to be an entertaining and was always drawn to films that starred Boris Karloff. The thing that I have always liked about this film is the atmosphere of the old mansion and its over grown land that has think fog rolling around, the creepy silence of the massive home not to even mention the creepy mutated people, animals and plants! The other great thing about this film is that it mostly takes place at the Witley mansion and its grounds that is so far away from the town or any neighbors giving the viewers a sense of isolation and dread. The cast is fantastic with Boris Karloff as Nahum Witley who gives a fantastic performance as does Nick Adams as Stephen Reinhart.  The way they play off each other with distain and distrust is classic horror movie stuff. As a life long horror fan growing up watching everything from silent films to slashers films, I have always enjoyed this film and think that it’s a sometimes over looked horror thriller that blends both haunted house movie and alien unknown creature sub genres together and delivers a spooky film that relies on chills and not blood spills. If you have never seen this film and enjoy the works of Boris Karloff and even H.P. Lovecraft then make sure to check this film out, as it’s a good old school horror film with some great characters and a paperback novel like story.

Die, Monster, Die! Is an interesting film to make into a Horror Comic, as it will be very hard for DELL Comics to capture the eerie mood and atmosphere that made this film work and be so scary for viewers in the 60’s and beyond. I also want to point out that up to this point, I think this is the oldest film and comic adaptation that I have covered on one of my From Horror Movie To Horror Comic updates! So while we make our way through this fog, I want to remind you all that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for having this issue in stock and making this update possible. So we are now at the Witley Mansion, and I think it’s time to relax for a moment and take a look at the comic adaptation of this 60’s horror fright flick! Oh yes and I must say that this comic was a part of DELL’s “Movie Classics” comic line.

Die, Monster, Die!  # 1  **1/2
Released in 1966       Cover Price .12       DELL       #603 of ?

Scientist Stephen Reinhart has received a letter to come visit the home of the woman he loves, Susan, who lives in the small town of Arkham. But Stephen soon finds that no one wants to drive him to the Wintley Mansion, and once he walks there, he finds that her father Nahum does not want him there, but seeing Susan makes him not listen to her father’s words. Susan shows Stephen around the mansion and introduces him to her sick bedridden mother Letitia who speaks to Stephen alone and begs him to take her daughter far away from the mansion! Stephen starts to notice strange things and finds books on the occult as well as the family butler faints for no reason. All the while Nahum is mad over the young man being there and argues with his wife about it and his secret work that he thinks will bring the family riches. While wandering the grounds of the mansion is a strange hooded figure with long fingernails who seems to spy on Susan, causing Stephen to really want them to leave as soon as possible. And later that night the Butler dies and Stephen watches in the shadows as Nahum buries him in an unmarked grave in the green house. Stephen needs to speak to someone about the weirdness of the family and goes to town and talks to the mostly retired doctor, who shares info about how some of the past Wintley members died. Once back at the mansion Stephen and Susan sneak into the locked greenhouse and find that animals and planets have grown to large size and are very dangerous! The couple soon go back to the mansion where Stephen goes to the cellar and finds the massive rock that is causing all the sickness and death as well as is confronted by Nahum who finally sees the errors of his ways, but before anything can be done, Letitia who is now transformed rushes outside into the rain and has the water drops kill her as those infected cannot get wet! After the burial of Letitia, the family makes plans to split ways as Susan is to leave with Stephen and Nahum goes back to the mansion to destroy the rock that, when hit, spawns a living energy that enters Nahum who attacks Stephen, as the possessed energy Nahum leaps at Stephen he falls to the ground dying on impact and catching on fire his remains and the mansion. In the end Stephen and Susan escape the burning mansion, and so ends the legacy of the Wintley family.

I want to start off by saying this while this comic adaptation is really entertaining and a good classic spooky horror comic read, it does however seem to be lacking all the great atmosphere from the movie and speeds up the plot taking away the suspense. The plot is very simple and has a young man visiting his girlfriend’s family at the request of the sick mother and soon finds that the family has a very dark secret that revolves around a rock that fell from space and the father’s quest to make the family’s name mean something again. Our stories hero is Stephen Reinhart, a man who is smart and in love with his lady who rushes to her hometown in order to visit and has been chosen by her mother to take the young woman away from their mansion home. Stephen also really heroes up when needed and saves the day numerous times including fighting off killer planets and even going toe to toe with a radioactive killer. Susan is a normal young woman who is trapped in a home that is surrounded by mystery and does not want to leave her sick mother behind.  She is also clueless as things around her are clearly odd and she does not question nor seek the truth until Stephen forces her to see the stuff going on. Letitia Wintley is a sickly old woman who is slowly losing her mind due to the radiation off the stone.  She loves her daughter very much and is starting to question her husband and his attentions as she slowly gets sicker and sicker until she turns into a ghoul that is killed by water. Nahum Wintley is a man who is proud of his family heritage, and even after it was run through the mud, he craves to make the name mean something again and thinks that a rock he found that fell from space and makes things grow fast is the key to become the star he thinks he should be.  Sadly this consumes him and forces him to make bad decisions that even leaves people he cares about dead. While he’s not a bad person, he is a very self absorbed person who by the time he snaps out of it is possessed and taken over by the rock that turns him into a walking radioactive unstable firebomb. The comic does have some classic spooky moments, and while it does have deaths, none of them are bloody and gory. The cover for this comic is a photo of Boris Karloff as Nahum Wintley with an ax and is pretty eye catching for fans of the film and classic horror actor. The art was done by an Un-Credited Artist and is pretty good stuff and has that Dell Comics charm to it, as strangely enough the character art looks oddly like the actors who played them. Over all this is a pretty cool comic adaptation that does an okay job of bringing the film to pages, only down side is plot had to be crammed down and the atmosphere of the film is missing. Check out the art below to see the art style used in this comic, and really is worth a read and owning for fans of the film.

It makes you wonder if DELL Comics would have lasted past 1974, what other Horror and Science Fiction films would have gotten the comic adaptation treatment? Then it also makes me wonder why no one has brought Dell back to the world of Independent Comics. Imagine some of the other Karloff titles they could have made that would have gone along with the likes of Die, Monster, Die! For our next update, we will be staying in the world of Horror Comics but will not be looking at one based on a movie but one from a indie company that much like Dell makes you wonder what could have come from them. The company is B-Movie Comics, and the title is Vault Of Doomnation. So until then, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for some spooky good times.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Ghoul School

Ghoul School is one of those lost gems from the early 90’s shot-on-video, direct to VHS releases that seemed to never get the respect nor attention it deserved. The film was a Horror Comedy that had many amazing independent talents working behind the scenes like David DeCoteau, Matthew Jason Walsh, J.R. Bookwalter and Michael Raso, to name a few.  Not to mention that the film was directed by Timothy O’Rawe who did the film The Basement that is also very underrated! Grab your school books and bring some lunch money as Rotten Ink is going back to school and not just any school as this is the Ghoul School! So take your seat and get ready to learn this important From Horror Movie To Horror Comic lesson.

The Flesh Eating Ghouls are our villains of this horror comedy film, and they mean business. These chemically made ghouls are made up of high school students with the first batch of kids to become ghouls being the swim team, and from there it spreads to others that come in contact with the contaminated water and the ghouls. The Ghouls are killing machines that movie quickly, have pointed razor sharp teeth, unlimited stamina, bluish grey skin with some also having a zombie look. Their appearance alone strike fear in the hearts of their victims with their main way of killing being to rip apart their human meal with their bare hands and sharp teeth. Some of the ghouls even can use weapons like guns in order to try and snag their prey for a quick meal. The Ghouls also do not talk but make noises much like crazed animals that is also can shock humans. But while the Ghouls are killing machines they as well can be stopped and killed with multiple gun shots being the most effective way of stopping them once and for all. But while they can be killed they much like Zombies grow in numbers as the water of the town has been infected with the same toxin of the school making them grow in numbers and as we all know packs of any kind of killing hordes is a very bad thing. So in other words The Ghouls are a very menacing ungodly force of nature who want to kill and eat every human they come in contact with.

The Ghouls of Ghoul School are nothing to take lightly and really are a horde of foul creatures! But now we should break down this underrated film of shot on video cinema. This micro budgets film write up is coming from our friends at IMDB and after that I will share my thoughts and memories of seeing Ghoul School for the first time. So let’s take a look at Ghoul School a film that has now been turned into a Horror Comic!

Ghoul School (1990)

“Sex, babes and rock ‘n roll! Two thugs in search of hidden treasure mistakenly unleash a chemical into the school’s water supply, causing everyone it comes into contact with to become flesh-eating ghouls.”

The first time I saw Ghoul School was thanks to Alternative Cinema who sent me a DVD copy for review from their Camp Motion Picture line of releases. I can remember being super excited as I have always been into Shot On Video Movies, and one that featured flesh eating Ghouls and Howard Stern’s own jokester Jackie Martling I knew would be up my ally. I can remember I watched it along with several other releases I had gotten in for review and really enjoyed it. The thing about Ghoul School that I really liked is it felt like the movies Demons and Demons 2 and took place in a school instead of a movie theater or high-rise apartment complex. I can remember also enjoying the film’s gore effects and the characters were fun and funny when supposed to be. After watching the film I can remember giving it 3 stars out of 4 on the website and even showed the film to my friend Jason Gilmore who also enjoyed it. It’s crazy it took me many years after the film’s release to see it, but sadly none of the video stores in my area (Waynesville and Dayton) had the movie for rent and it was not until the DVD that I was able to. I want to also note that before Alternative Cinema released this film on DVD, Tempe did as well. In 1990, when this shot on video micro budget movie was released, it was lost in the shuffle among such titles as Basket Case 2, Bride Of Re-Animator, Child’s Play 2, Exorcist III, Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, IT, Nightbreed, Psycho IV, Tremors and many more. So if you love low budget horror films make sure to check out Ghoul School as it’s a fun film from the 90’s that delivers laughs, chills and blood spills. Oh yeah and you can’t go wrong with a film that has a cheesy 80’s Hairband preparing for the school dance that ends up helping our surviving kids against the ghouls…this film is silly spooky fun and really does remind me of a fan film version of Demons.

So as you can see, these Ghouls pack a wicked bite and are true terrors of micro budget horror cinema. And now that we have taken a look at the Ghouls and the film they appear in, I think it’s time we take a look at this comic adaptation of the film that was just released this vary month by Seduction Cinema Comic’s new branch called Camp Comix! I want to thank Alternative Cinema for having this comic in stock and Michael Raso for making this new comic branch possible for Horror Comic readers. I want to also remind all you blog reading Ghouls that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So if you’re ready lets see what these Ghouls have in store for this horror comic school.

Ghoul School # 1  ***
Released in 2018     Cover Price $9.99     Camp Comix     # 1 of 1

Steve and Jeff are the monster kids of their school as they spend class time reading horror magazines.  After school one day, they are going to sneak into the AV room to watch a zombie film as some of their female classmates are going to sneak into the auditorium to meet the band The Bloodsucking Ghouls who will be playing the school’s dance. Meanwhile two thugs have entered the school and have killed the janitor for hidden money he has and by mistake have pushed a button that puts harmful chemicals into the school’s water! This causes members of the swim team to become zombie ghouls.  They attack and kill their coach as well as his assistant and then start to roam the hallways looking for more victims! Steve and Jeff come across some of the ghouls and fight back killing one with an ax and trying to get the principal to call for help as he thinks they are on drugs! Meanwhile the Ghouls have attacked the basketball team, and after killing most of them with the coach escaping, they are now attacking the girls who were waiting on the band! Jeff and Steve meet up with the coach, and they get to the auditorium to save the girls as the ghouls attack and kill the principal and some cops. Now they want to kill our remaining kids! In the end, the ghouls attack and it’s all our war for survival as the coach becomes a meal as does one of the girls. Jeff, Steve and the remaining two gals escape and find that the whole town is overrun, and the military is dropping bombs leaving the fate of our survivors looking not good.

Ghoul School the comic is a little different than the movie and these changes help make this adaptation something of its own and a great read for fans of the film who always wanted a remake or a sequel. The plot of this comic is pretty simple and classic horror stuff as we follow two friends who are stuck in a school while flesh eating ghouls that are not only infecting the school but the whole town. The comic plays up on the comedy aspect of the film and cuts out many characters including the rock band The Flesh Eating Ghouls and comedian Jackie Martling and adds three schoolgirls who are there for sex appeal and comedy moments. Our main characters Steve and Jeff are likable gorehound students who enjoy everything the horror movies have to offer and are clearly best friends who bond over watching a good scary movie.  What’s nice about them is that they are nerds of the school but fight back and save lives showing that these horror fans are heroes. The girls are just around to be sexy and ditzy for the most part as they try and survive and do what they can to help. The Coach, Principal, Thugs and all the other side characters are well done and fit for their roles to further along the horror and comedy. The Ghouls themselves are very bloodthirsty, as they want to eat flesh and are cracking cheesy one-liners and jokes along their murdering rampage. The Ghouls are great villains for this horror comic as there are lots of them and they are brutal in their kills, as this comic does not skip out on the cartoon violence. The cover is very eye catching and brings out the horror and humor of the comic. The interior art is like a twisted version of Archie Comics done with gore and big chested women and is done by the talented Noel Scotch Anderson who has done all the comics for Alternative Cinema at this time. His style is cartoonish and holds a classic comic feel to it, and while the characters he draws don’t look like the actors who played them, it gives them a whole new life of their own as he makes them stand out and be the same yet different. Over all to sum up this comic adaptation, it’s a fun and humorous horror comic that I really enjoyed and I feel fans of this 1990 film will also enjoy. Can’t wait to see what’s next for Camp Comix as I know I will be buying whatever they release. Check out some of the artwork bellow to see the style of Noel.

Camp Comix is a cool new comic branch created by Alterative Cinema that has lots of potential to be a great Horror Comic company that will be great for readers who enjoy comics based on Horror Movies and get issues from Eibon Press and Blood Scream Comics. I for one am really looking forward to what Camp Comix has in store for us with future releases as Video Violence, Slime City, Cannibal Campout, Babysitter Massacre, The Basement and Beauty Queen Butcher could all be possibilities for future comics. If you’re a fan of Ghoul School and love Horror Comics, you’ll eat this comic up so make sure to get your copy from https://www.alternativecinema.com/ as it’s the only place to have it. For my next update we will be leaving the Ghoul School and heading into space as I turn the blog over to Juliet so she can talk about her all time favorite science fiction film, Forbidden Planet and the comic adaptation based on it! So until next time, read a horror comic or three, watch a Camp Motion Picture or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you guys all in space!

January The 13th: The Muppets Take Manhattan

In 1989, hockey masked killer Jason Voorhees, aboard a cruise ship filled with high school seniors, slashed his way into Manhattan, New York and took that city by brutal storm. But just five years before, in 1984, a band of goofy stage performs took it by laughter and cheer.  This band was lead by a noble green man named Kermit The Frog and his friends are The Muppets, and yes, they as well took Manhattan! This film and its STAR Comic mini series adaptation are the topic of this second update of 2018…wow, we are in 2018 and this is amazing as 2017 seemed to fly by. But let’s not focus on that; let’s focus on the third Muppet movie that starred Kermit and the gang getting into a fun and wacky adventure. Like many kids my age, growing up I loved The Muppets and saw this movie a tons of time as it played on HBO when I was a kid. I even taped it off TV on Beta when I was younger. My gal Juliet also loves The Muppets, and I almost had her do this update but decided that I also had some things to say about this movie! So let’s travel to New York with our pal Kermit and see why he and his pals decided to take Manhattan.

The Muppet Show was created by Jim Henson and was a variety show that aired on ABC from 1976-1981.  My brother Bryan and I used to watch it in reruns as even our Dad was entertained by these colorful puppets who had great personalities and added humor by interacting with their celebrity guests. Kermit The Frog was the head of this rag tag group of performers that had the likes of Fozzie Bear a terrible stand up comic, Miss Piggy a diva actress and singer, Gonzo a weird big nosed guy who would do stunts and Rowlf The Dog who played the piano and sang, to name a few. Amazing guest stars like Alice Cooper, Vincent Price and Mark Hamill added to the enjoyment of this program that would go on to spawn movies, comic books, video games, novels, cartoons and toys, and this is why Disney ended up buying Jim Henson Productions and continues to make Muppet stuff for fans to enjoy. Now I could really get into the history of The Muppets and their creation and such, but I would rather save that for another update that possibly Juliet will handle.  So our main focus for this update is the third movie adventure they had. But to sum it up, growing up I was a big fan of The Muppets and watched the show in reruns, loved the cartoon Muppet Babies and enjoyed the heck out of the movies over the years….so in other words, The Muppets Rule!

Growing up I was lucky that my Mom would buy me lots of toys from stores like Hearts, Hills and Gold Circle and would find also lots of great toys at garage sales.  Besides The Muppet Babies figures that were in Happy Meals from McDonalds, I had the cool Fisher Price figures called “The Muppet Show Players” that they released in 1978 with a total of seven figures in the set that included Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo, Animal, Rowlf and Scooter. The figures stood about 3-4” tall and had limited movement and came with a stick that allowed you to clumsily move The Muppet around and make your own plays and shows with them. Now keep in mind that these toys were made a year before I was even born and as a kid, I got some of them from Odd Lots, who had them in stock in the 80’s!! I am not sure if maybe if Fisher Price rereleased them or if a large stock of them was found, but my brother and I had many of them growing up. As I said, our parents got us many from Odd Lots and we also found a few at garage sales. I know I owned Rowlf, Fozzie, Animal and Scooter and remember my brother owning Kermit, Animal and Gonzo, and we both really did enjoy them and kept onto them for many years before we ended up giving them to our cousins when our mom “pushed” us to give many of our toys away to them. But I can remember playing with these toys and having them on the side of the Jedi in the toy wars I used to have when I was a youngster growing up in Waynesville. So did any of you readers grow up having these Muppet Fisher Price toys?

To me, the Muppets are as iconic as Looney Tunes and Disney Cartoon characters and seem to have always been a part of my life from watching them on TV all the way to reading comic book adventures about them and everything in-between! I mean heck, one of the first vinyl records I ever owned was the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie. My favorite Muppet of the main cast of characters was Fozzie The Bear as I found him to be a lovable goofy unfunny comedian who was funny because he was not funny! The other that comes close to Fozzie in my book is Gonzo as I love the fact he is so weird, had a creative mind and his close friends are rats and chickens! But my favorite minor character always has been Sweetums, a large ogre monster who towers over Muppets and humans alike and looks like a mean son of a gun but is a semi nice guy unless he is pushed or you mess with his friends. Sweetums first appeared in the TV Special “The Frog Prince” in 1971 and was a bad guy and son of an evil witch Taminella and would later make appearances on The Muppet Show becoming more of a cast member in season two. He would also go on to be in many of The Muppet movies as well as video games, comics, books and toys throughout the run of the show and beyond. I think I have always liked Sweetums lots because I have been a Monster Kid for as long as I can remember, and he looks like a giant monster that could have been the main baddy in any G rated horror film of the 70’s. Many actors have played the character, but the one who made this giant Muppet suit monster his own was Richard Hunt who played him from 1975 to 1991 and the original suit actor was Jerry Nelson who only played him once in 1971 for his first appearance. So while Fozzie and Gonzo are amazing characters who are my main cast favorites, good old Ogre Sweetums has a special place in my heart as well. Take a look at the pics below to see why this aging Monster Kid dug him.

Growing up I always thought that the monster used as a mascot for Noble Roman’s Pizza in the 80’s was The Muppet Sweetums, and once older, thanks to YouTube, I was able to finally see that he was not indeed pushing cheep greasy pizza to hungry people in the 80’s but instead the pizza place made their own walk around Muppet who very much looked like a knock off of Sweetums complete with his under bite bulldog like jaw! But let’s be honest, I really do like the fact Noble Roman’s Pizza has a mascot, and while he is not as memorable to many fast food junkies as say Ronald McDonald, The Noid or Colonel Sanders that we have covered here on Rotten Ink, he still made his mark for those kids in the 80’s who remember him…plus it appears as if they still somewhat use him but have changed him quit a bit as he no longer has brown fur like Sweetums and now has blue and purple fur much like the My Pet Monster doll! In my youth I can only remember eating Noble Roman’s Pizza less than a handful of times and can remember eating there with my cousins Dino and Norman. I have never been a big pizza eater and can remember not really enjoying my slices of the pie from them. Just wanted to throw this in as I am not sure when in the future I would be talking about Sweetums or the knock off Noble Roman’s Pizza mascot…check out the pics below to see why younger me thought they were one and the same.

So I think we are at the point of this update where we will be taking a look at the movie that spawned this comic adaptation and was a film that my brother Bryan and I watched many times and even owned on VHS for years until I, like a fool, sold all my VHS off to a second hand store that underpaid for them all. But here is what we will do for this quick look at the film, I will take the write up from our pals at IMDB and then will talk a little about watching it for the first time aka what I can remember and then talk about how well it did at the box office and such. I hope you’re ready to talk about some Muppets cause we are about to dive in their world!

The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984)

“The Muppets graduate from college and decide to take their senior revue on the road. They hit the streets of Manhattan trying to sell their show to producers, finally finding one young and idealistic enough to take their show. After several mishaps and much confusion, things begin to come together for them.”

If memory serves me right, I first saw this film on HBO when I was a youngster and my Mom use to hype up all the big kids movies that came to that paid station (that we would have on and off during my youth) to me and my brother who always were so eager to watch movies as we both loved cinema even at a very young age. There was always something very magical about watching a Muppet Movie as they always seemed like events much like many of the film series from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s did.  When a new Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Jurassic Park or Batman film was released, it was a major deal to many of my friends as well as the film going public and for the longest time The Muppet films felt that way! While The Muppets Take Manhattan is a great family film and was one I liked, it never was my favorite Muppet film growing up as I always loved The Great Muppet Caper as that one was just over the top silly and was one I had seen more often on TV and home video. The film was released to theaters on July 13, 1984 and was a hit for Tristar as it brought in $25,534,703.00 at the US box office on a budget of $8 million and came in at # 39 for the year beating out such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street, Sixteen Candles, The Neverending Story, Children Of The Corn, Supergirl, This Is Spianl Tap and Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai to name a few. So as you can see, in the 80’s The Muppets had box office draw and were favorites of kids and the young at heart. One thing I do want to also say is that as I kid I always thought it was amazing that the cast of Sesame Street was in this film as they are guests at a very special wedding that we will talk about in the comic review…I wonder if they will make an appearance in the comic or if they will be cut out due to rights issues?

Now that we have talked about Muppets Take Manhattan as well as about my favorite underrated b-cast Muppet, I think it’s time we dive into the adaptation comic mini series released by Star Comics! It’s been a while since I did an update about a Star Comic, and it feels good doing one based on The Muppets as they are a fun one to talk about! Also this is not the last time I will have an update here at Rotten Ink about them as sometime this year or next my gal Juliet will do a bigger update on The Muppets in general. So before we get started, I need to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Bell Book And Comic and Lone Star Comics for having these issues in stock and making this update possible. So let’s take a trip to New York with Kermit and the rest of The Muppets and see just how they take Manhattan with laughter.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 1  ***
Released in 1984     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 1 of 3

Kermit The Frog as well as his fellow Muppets have just put on a musical show the day the graduated collage and the show is such a hit the crowd and his friends push Kermit to go to New York and try and get it on Broadway! Kermit and friends pack up their stuff and head to New York with fame and stars in their eyes and the first day they go and meet Martin Price who claims to love the show and wants it to go straight to Broadway…but only if Kermit and his friends all pay him $300 a piece! The Muppets know this is wrong and before they can say no the police bust in and try to arrest Price for fraud over the years and this criminal tries to take Gonzo hostage but the blue weirdo is saved by Animal and price is brought to justice. Kermit and pals don’t loose their faith in the show even after day after day and meeting after meeting they get told NO! With no money in their pockets they stop at a diner for some soup and meet the owner, his daughter Jenny and rat waiter Rizzo who all befriend the struggling stage actors and as Kermit gets the soup, Scooter talks the rest of the gang that they should split up and make their own way to impress Kermit and themselves! As his friends all leave New York one at a time Kermit goes to the Empire State Building and looks at the city and gets motivation to get his friends back and his show on Broadway.

This first issue in the adaptation is really well done and captures the mood, music and characters of the film very well. The plot of this first issue has Kermit graduating collage and putting on a great musical show that leaves him being pushed to bring the show to Broadway by the audience and his fellow friends. And once in New York he finds that getting the show on Broadway was way harder than expected and he and his friends sleep in rented lockers and in the end his friends split off from him to get jobs and leave Kermit all alone in the Big Apple. Kermit The Frog is a very creative Muppet who believes in his projects and his friends and is chasing his dreams to be around his friends and entertain the world with his production shows. Kermit is just a great frog who has a heart of gold and makes friends wherever he goes. Scooter is a Muppet who pushes Kermit to do this show and is the goof who tells the other Muppets they should all split up and get normal jobs…what a goon…stand by your friend man if you believe in his art. The rest of The Muppets are around and all have faith in Kermit and don’t want to split away from him but it’s the idea of Scooter that forces them to all walk away, so it’s sad to say but I think Scooter is this issues bad guy next to the con man Martin Price! Jenny and the diner workers are all good people who you know will be playing a bigger part in issue # 2! Very solid issue and a great way to start off this mini series, and I must say the cover is amazing and very eye catching for fans of The Muppets and the interior art it top notch kids comic stuff done by Dean Yeagle and is the style that made me fall in love with Star Comics all those years back in my youth. I can’t wait to see how issue 2 brings the story to life.

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 2  ***
Released in 1984      Cover Price .60      Star Comics     # 2 of 3

Kermit is motivated to get his show on Broadway and his friends back in New York and heads to Pete’s Diner and gets a part tome job working in the kitchen as does Rizzo’s fellow rat friends! While Kermit is trying to get his show picked up a weird person in shadow keeps following him! Kermit has Jenny help him by designing cloths that he thinks will make agents pay him more attention and sadly this seems to not help get his show off the ground. The shadow figure following him is Miss Piggy who gets upset when she see’s Jenny hug Kermit and worse when se returns to her job she is fired after getting an extreme make over from her co-worker! Kermit does not give up and this time takes Rizzo and the other rats to a high-end restaurant in order to build up his show but once more he his tossed out and the show is not picked up. After being defeated again Kermit is down in the dumps and runs back into Miss Piggy who has beat up a would be purse snatcher and he gets her a job at Pete’s as a waitress. Good news comes via a letter when Kermit is called to meet a producer who turns out to be the young son of the producer who wants his first project to be Kermit’s musical! Super hyped Kermit calls Jenny at the restaurant and tells her that the show is going to happen and that she can do costumes and to let Piggy know that they are Broadway bound. As Kermit leaves the building to get back to Pete’s he is hit by a car and looses his memory!

Kermit in this issue pushes forward on trying his best to get his show to play in New York as well as get his friends to come back so they can all work together and make something special. Kermit also tries to change who he is in order to get the attention of producers and dresses like a goof and even acts and says things like one. Also Pete’s Diner turns out to be great place for Kermit to work as it puts a little cash in his pocket, is a home base for him as well as he has met lots of new friends. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo as well as the fellow rats are all great people who clearly believe in Kermit and his musical, as they are all willing to help him in his time of need and depression. Miss Piggy while she has walked away from Kermit she still loves him and has stayed in New York in order to keep an eye on him and once they meet back up she ends up working with him at the diner. The young producer is a good kid who clearly has seen the talent and special nature of the Kermit musical and chooses it as his first project even though his father does not share his love for Kermit’s play. This issue is great and builds up more of the will that Kermit has to make his own way and to impress his friends and also delivers us drama in the way of Kermit getting hit by a car and forgetting who he is making the musical’s future in jeopardy. The only down side of this issue is that besides Kermit, Miss Piggy and Rizzo none of the other Muppets make an appearance besides a brief cameo of The Muppet Babies in a two panel flashback and this is a bummer for fans of the other characters. This issue has a good cover and once more fantastic art by Dean Yeagle and is another top notch kids comic adapting a great kids movie. So lets see what issue three the final issue in this mini series has in store for us!

The Muppets Take Manhattan # 3  ***
Released in 1985     Cover Price .60     Star Comics   # 3 of 3

Kermit is taken to the hospital after being hit by a car and is a blank slate not even knowing his own name. Meanwhile Miss Piggy, Jenny, Rizzo and Pete are awaiting his return and when hours pass and the producer of the show stops by to say the show starts in 2 weeks they must try and find their missing friend! As they hit the streets looking for him Pete writes telegrams of the good news and The Muppets all come back to town and meet at the diner and all are told of Kermit missing and all hit the streets looking for him and all come up empty handed. Kermit is now going by Phil and is working at an ad firm and just by luck on opening night he and his co-workers stop at Pete’s for lunch and his friends are happy to see him, but he don’t remember them so they kidnap him and take him to the theater to try and jog his mind. After hours of trying they are not able to and the show starts and just before they are to go on without him Kermit laughs at the fact Miss Piggy loves him and she slaps him so hard he hits his head on the wall and snaps back to normal and rushes to get onstage on time for the start of his opening night of his big musical. The show is a hit as the crowd loves it, Kermit has his friends all around him as they do the show and he and Miss Piggy are married live on stage as part of the show and this is how The Muppet Took Manhattan!

The finial issue in this adaptation is just as good as the first two issues and shows just why Star Comics when around was the best kids comic company going, better than Archie and Harvey and all others of that time. The plot of this issue has Kermit with memory loss wondering around New York as Phil as his friends and musical are in need of him. And when all looks lost Kermit remembers who he is and pulls off a massive hit musical and even marries his long time girlfriend Piggy live during the show! I love that Kermit takes on the name Phil and works along side other frogs and creates cheesy ads and slogans for products like soap! I also love as Phil is he kind of rude and laughs in Piggy’s face when she talks of her and Kermit’s plans for marriage…yeah he laughs in her face and gets slapped for his terrible manners! But I love that when he remembers who he is Kermit kicks into creative gear and gets stuff done! Miss Piggy in this issue loves her green skinned man and worries about him missing and does what she can to try and find him, and while she tricks him into marriage she is not nearly as diva acting as she normally is. The rest of The Muppets (Gonzo, Fozzie, Scooter, ect.) are all background players and do what they do well and that’s add fun moments to this comic and story. Jenny, Pete and Rizzo show that they are great friends as they as well get worried about Kermit and do what they can to help find him and make his show a hit. I also love that they did add the Sesame Street characters to the wedding and that through out the issue you get cameos from those cranky old critics Statler And Waldorf who as well add their own brand of humor. The cover of this issue has Miss Piggy and Kermit getting married and is eye catching for fans of The Muppets and once more Dean Yeagle and is great stuff. This three issue mini series is a must read for fans of The Muppets and the film its based on as it is a pure fun all age comic series that is entertaining and just plan fun! I would say that my favorite Character in this mini series is Kermit as how can you not like a guy trying to chase his creative dream and wants to share it with his friends. While my favorite backup character would be Rizzo as who don’t like a rat who waits tables and gets all his other rat friends jobs. So to sum it up make if you dig Kermit and his friends make sure to give this a read. Check out some art from this comic series done by Dean Yeagle below and see just how fun it is.

The Muppets are icons of TV and kid friendly shows, and while they have lost some steam nowadays, they still have a special place in my heart as seeing them they make me think of my youth and all the good times I had with my family watching them on TV and movies. And as I have said, this will not be the last time you will see The Muppets here at Rotten Ink.  Juliet confirmed with me that she will indeed be doing an update about them in the future! For our next update, we will be walking away from New York and The Muppets and head to the world of Horror Hosting and a rundown mansion that is the home of the one and only Ghost Host.  This Maryland Horror Host will be the next Icon we chat about. So until next time, read a comic or three, watch a movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host. See you next update ghost and ghoulies!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

On this countdown to Thanksgiving update I think we will do another “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” as I have lots of fun writing them, and it seems that you friends and readers have a good time reading them! For this one I picked a movie that’s a little less scary and went for more of a humorous Horror title as I selected Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes! Yeah this musical comedy horror film has two different comic series by two different comic companies and both only lasted one issue each. So while you are planning your Thanksgiving Day meal for all your loved ones who are coming over after reading this update you might want to stay away from tomatoes as who knows they might just bite back! So arm yourself with what ever you can find and avoid rolling vegetables (or should I say fruit?) and lets dive into “From Horror Movie, To Horror Comic: Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes”.

In order to understand the madness of these tasty vegetables we first must take a look at why and what they are. Tomatoes of all sizes are the killers in this film and they range from normal sized all the way to giant bolder sized and can hunt in packs or even solo making them really able to pop up anywhere for the attack and kill. The reason for the attack and invasion of these Killer Tomatoes is unknown at first and denied to even be happing, but it is soon learned that a member of our own government is responsible and has used some weird science mumbo jumbo in order to bring them to life and cause death and panic. When attacking the Tomatoes also leave behind tomato juice that appears on their victims making them look like a bloody mess. The tomatoes show that they can move quickly by rolling and they even show signs of being very intelligent as they use cunning and skill to attack and kill their victims. The fact that they also at times hunt in large packs make them more dangerous to humans as they can easily overwhelm their target. In appearance they just look like normal tomatoes and even the larger ones while maybe shocking to see the size still just look like overgrown tomatoes. The weakness for these killer tomatoes is they can be squashed as being alive does not make them unable to die, they also are drawn into places and weakened via a song called “Puberty Love” that acts as their Pied Piper. But while they have weaknesses and even most people would laugh at a tomato trying to kill them these little red killing machines are a force to be reckoned with.

Now that we learned that these tomatoes are killing machines that range in size, I think we should now take a look at the first film in the series, the one that started it all into becoming a cult classic batch of films each more silly than the other. I want to thank IMDB for the write up of the film’s plot and hope you guys are ready to learn a little about this film.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes (1978)

“After a wave of reports of mysterious attacks involving people and pets being eaten by the traditionally docile fruit, a special government task force is set up to investigate the violent veggies and put a stop to their murderous spree. Included in this crack team are a lieutenant who never goes anywhere without his parachute, an underwater expert who’s never out of his scuba gear, and a master of disguise who conceals his appearance by dressing as a black Adolf Hitler.”

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes was directed by John DeBello and was an odd mix of comedy, musical and horror and starred such names as David Miller, Costa Dillon and George Wilson all who deliver good performances for the cheesy roles they are given. The film was so silly that it became a cult classic from the start as people found the idea of killer tomatoes so silly and funny that it found itself being a moneymaker at the theater bringing in a total of $567,000.00 on a $100,000.00 budget! The year, it hit theaters many other amazing Horror Films hit theaters and drive-ins world wide like Halloween, Dawn Of The Dead, Jaws 2, I Spit On Your Grave, Class Reunion Massacre, Mardi Gras Massacre and Inquisition to name a few making 1978 a great year for Horror Cinema and delivered many scares for fans! Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes was one of those films that I heard of from a young age as the title was silly and was something that was the butt of many jokes as the films title left it open for lots of punch lines when coming to friends who didn’t like the more bloody and gore filled horror. So while it was not a box office mega hit and was panned by critics, it still is a cult favorite film that has warmed its way into the hearts of b-movie fans and horror fans the worldwide.

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes built such a cult following that it spawned three sequels that each amped up the cheesy horror comedy action! The second film in the series was “Return Of The Killer Tomatoes” that was released in 1988 and is known for being an early role for George Clooney and was released by New World Pictures who use to own Marvel Comics! The third movie in the series called “Killer Tomatoes Strike Back” was released in 1990 and has the Killer Tomatoes back and wanting to claim more human victims. The forth and final movie is the series was released in 1991 and was called “Killer Tomatoes Eat France!” and, you guessed it, has them in France! All the sequels were direct to video and none of them captured the cult status of the original and for the most part were also lost in the shuffle at the local video store as many chains placed them in the comedy section with others putting them in horror. I mostly remember the sequels thanks to “USA Up All Night” as they were the perfect films to be hosted, and can remember enjoying them.  But I never was a huge fan of the movies – for me was more for the cartoon…we will get into that later. So while Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes is not as iconic as other Horror film series like Halloween, Friday The 13th or The Conjuring, it did make a tiny mark on the genre as proven by having sequels made in order to continue the story for fans.

In 1990, Marvel Productions and Fox Children’s Production made a very cool cartoon called Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes based on the film series! The series takes place five years after the Great Tomato War and follows Chad Finletter who is a 10-year-old pizza delivery boy who along with his friends tries to stop the evil doings of Dr. Gangreen and his band of raging tomatoes who are bent on ruling the world. This show aired on Saturday mornings and ran for two seasons and a total of 21 episodes that were 23 minutes each.  This was a cartoon I watched and enjoyed every week and even bought the toys based on this toon. The odd thing about this cartoon is that follows after the events of the film Return Of The Killer Tomatoes and holds a more comedic fun loving aspect and plays down the horror elements so as to not to scare younger viewers, but to be honest how could anyone be scared of Killer Tomatoes? I do enjoy the fact this cartoon gives the tomatoes different personalities and looks like a snake, bull and other gross and monstrous big tomatoes who act as the major threats to our heroes. This cartoon was very popular and many of my classmates watched it.  We would chat about it on the playground, and the main reason it was cancelled is the fact in season two they botched the storyline and went with a very weird computer generated style of animation that just did not fit the mood and feel of the series, but a fun fact is that this is credited as one of the first cartoons to use computer animation! I don’t want to spend too much time on the cartoon version of Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes but will say that this should have been turned into a Star Comic or even a Marvel Comic as the company was involved in the production.

So besides the movies, cartoon and comics, other merchandise has been made about the Killer Tomatoes that includes t-shirts, posters, soundtrack, coloring books, Halloween costumes, lunchboxes, magazines, buttons, video games for the Nintendo & Gameboy as well as action figures and a ton of home media releases on Beta, VHS, DVD, Laserdisc and Blu-Ray. So as you can see, if you are a fan of this film and its spinoffs and sequels, there is some cool stuff in the world for you to collect. Over the years I have owned the toys, and as I have said, many of the films on VHS and DVD, and while not on my must watch list, I do find myself dusting them off from time to time to enjoy.

So as you can see, in the late 80’s and 90’s Killer Tomatoes made a push to become a major franchise in Horror and Comedy and for the most part did become a household name for a short amount of time. I think what is cool about this film series is the fact they went that extra mile and tried to make it a hit with cartoons, video games and comics and aimed it toward a younger crowd knowing that they would eat up the cheesy premise and over the top characters. Another thing I should mention is that for me one of the coolest things about this film series is that John Astin played the evil Professor Mortimer Gangreen, and as always, he steals the show as he is one of my all time favorite character actors. And on a side note, I would love to see the Killer Tomatoes make a comeback and get a new movie sequel as well as maybe a comic that would last more than one issue!

So now that we have taken a look at Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes and its impact on pop culture and just how mean and nasty these tomatoes are, I think we should dive into the comic review. When selecting between the Killer Tomato Entertainment Inc. or the Viper comic to cover, it was a tough one but in the end I decided to go with the first as it was the earliest and I feel should get the honor of representing the Killer Tomatoes on this Thanksgiving Countdown and newest installment to the From Horror Movie, To Horror Comic series of updates. I want to thank Amazon for having this comic in stock and when picking up this can of tomato juice, I was shocked to see this written on the can “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.” I must say that’s a strange thing to say on a food can, but with that, put your fears of tomatoes aside and let’s take a look at Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes…The Comic!

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes # 1  *1/2
Released in 2003   Cover Price $2.50     Killer Tomato Entertainment Inc.   # 1 of 1

At Chadwick University, a seminar is taking place by Dr. Infecto all about food genetic engineering done by Technedible Labs and how it’s a good thing and that people should not believe the lies of Killer Tomatoes! After it’s over, two students Todd Smart and Dave Valiant go to see Dr. Infecto who is in his office and just got off the phone with Dr. Gangrene who is working on experiments involving humans and tomatoes. As the two students come in, they are attacked by Killer Tomatoes that leaves Todd Smart dead and Dave Valiant running for his life and Dr. Infecto clearly in the back pocket of Dr. Gangrene! After the attack, Dave gives an interview about what he witnessed, and the media seems to not take this young man’s claim series. But this broadcast get the attention of Great Tomato War veteran Wilber Finletter who tracks down the young man and gears him up for the battle that is surly coming.

Oh lord, this 12 page comic is a mess. While cool as it’s a part of Horror Comic history, it also suffers from a terribly bland story and bad amateurish art! The plot is this simple: a college professor is working with Dr. Gangrene in order to make human/tomato hybrids and when a student is attacked and survives, this new plot gets news coverage and brings out our series hero Wilber Finletter …and that’s our plot. Our hero of this issue is Dave Valiant, a young college student who watches his friend be attacked by a batch of Killer Tomatoes that was unleashed by their very own teacher! Dave really doesn’t do much in order to battle the Killer Tomatoes…he does talk about it on TV. I guess our second hero would be the parachute wearing Wilber Finletter who has battled in two Great Tomato Wars and at least gears up and talks to Dave about what is coming. The Killer Tomatoes don’t do much in this issue as they “attack” a tied up man as well as a college student…they don’t do much. Dr. Infecto and Dr. Gangrene don’t do much as well as they are just kind of around and free the tomatoes when they are needed. One of the major issues that plagues this comic is that none of the heroes feel like heroes nor do we as the reader ever really bond with them. And on the other side, none of our bad guys seem all that bad as we don’t really get to see them in action, and it’s clear as day to me that this 12 page comic would have been better to have been 22 pages. This comic has zero scares, zero blood and very little entertainment value and is one of the weakest Horror Movie To Horror Comic issues I have read! The cover is cheesy as showcases a large chested woman hugging a tomato, and the interior art is done by Hasani McIntosh and is very amateurish and not the style of art I like, but I should say fans of independent underground comics I am sure would dig his style. Over all this comic is kind of a letdown, and while fun to read and review for this update, I must say that this is for diehard Killer Tomato fans only. Check out the art below to see the style of McIntosh and you make your own opinion on if you dig it.

While this 12 page comic was a letdown and should have had more substance or at least an issue 2 in order to deliver any kind of major entertainment, I still find myself happy that at least this comic was made no matter how many flaws it had against it as it delivered a comic to fans of the Killer Tomatoes. But as we inch our way closer to Thanksgiving, we will leave the world of horror movie inspired comics behind and go to Greece once more as we continue our tradition of looking at Hercules in the world of comics.  This time around we will be talking about the second series of Marvel Comics’ Hercules! So that should be lots of fun as I always get a kick of talking about Hercules, plus as a special announcement you will get the first info on a upcoming Sparkle Comics series that will make sword and sandal fans happy! So until our next update aka Thanksgiving Day 2017, make sure to read a comic or three, watch a horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! Until next time my readers and friends, make sure to enjoy the upcoming Holiday season.

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: Waxwork

Welcome back to our 6th countdown to Halloween 2017 and another in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” series.  This time around we are going to take a look at the underrated and one of my favorite late 80’s horror films Waxwork and the Blackthrone Comic based on it! This Horror film mixes scares and laughs and is packed to the brim with monsters from Dracula all the way to an ax murderer looking lumberjack! This film has so much going for it, and I truly think that it’s an underrated Horror film from the 80’s that has enough blood, guts and gore to make Gorehounds happy and enough humor to make people with dark sense of humors chuckle. So if you’re ready to take a tour of this WaxWorks on a day they are celebrating the theme of From Horror Movie To Horror Comics, then I am 100% ready to as this is an update I have been waiting to do for a very long time.

Before we go on we must first look at the main villain of the film and that’s David Lincoln and his sidekicks Hans and Junior. David Lincoln is an evil man who has not aged in decades due to black magic amulets that hold the spirits of some of the world’s most fearsome and murderous creatures and killers. His hideout is a wax museum in the middle of a neighborhood that he hides the amulets in with the displays of the killers.  His goal is to have innocent people stumble into the displays where they will be killed and their souls taken.  Once he meets his goal of 18 souls, the monsters and killers will once more be freed into our times! David seems to have supernatural powers as he is ageless, can appear and disappear and seems to have control over his butlers Hans and Junior as well as the killers whom he is trying to bring back. David also seems to want the world to be in chaos and wants it to end with humans being killed by monsters. He also can use guns really well and has the gift of talk as he is able to come off as a nice guy even though he has sinister intentions. He is pretty strong and has killed people with his bare hands, and his is very smart making him a very dangerous man. His weakness is the fact that while he does not age, he still can be killed like a normal man.  Hans is one of his butlers who is a little person and has the attitude of a bully while Junior is a very tall man who has the mind of a child.  Both are very loyal to David and his cause of world destruction. While he might not be as unstoppable as some Horror Movie bad guys, David Lincoln is just as dangerous as he has lots of evil talents and friends in very low places.

But while David Lincoln is our main villain, I feel like we should also briefly talk about the fact most of the killing and soul taking is being done by the monsters in the wax museum as they rule their own display and dispatch those silly enough to enter them. Among the madmen that are waiting to rule our world are The Phantom Of The Opera, Frankenstein’s Monster, Alien, Man Eating Planet, Evil Demon Baby, Invisible Man and Jack The Ripper to name a few. Our main killing machines after our cast of characters are the blood sucking Count Dracula and his vampire family, a crazed werewolf, a shuffling head crushing Mummy, flesh eating zombies and the master of erotic murder and torture Marquis de Sade all who take pleasure in killing their targets. Each of these killers and madmen have their own powers and methods of killing making them all very evil and very dangerous! So to sum it up, David’s team is filled with some of the top madmen in cinema.

So now that we are up to date on the villains of WaxWork, we should now dive into the film itself as well as its sequel and see what makes this series tick. As always our good friends at IMDB will supply us with the films write up and I will follow them up with some production notes, film facts as well as chat about my first time seeing them. So let’s take a stroll through this crazy WaxWork and see if we can give ourselves a scare or two…or at least learn a little something about this underrated film series.

Waxwork (1988)

“A waxwork museum comes to town, and a mysterious man invites some teens to come to a special showing at midnight. Once inside, while viewing different exhibits, the scenes come alive and the viewer is sucked into the story being portrayed.”

WaxWorks was limited released in theaters on June 18, 1988 by Vestron Pictures and was been said to be the first self-referential horror film way before Scream and its many clones. The film when released was not a huge Box Office hit in the USA only bringing in $808,114.00 on a $1.5 Million dollar budget and coming in at # 183 for the year. But while it was a limited release, it did however beat out some other cult classics like Maniac Cop, Prison, My Best Friend Is A Vampire and Ghost Town to name a few. Not to mention 1988 was a great year for Horror Movie fans as such films as A Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Child’s Play, The Serpent And The Rainbow, Friday The 13th Part 7: The New Blood, Halloween 4: Return Of Michael Myers, Poltergeist III, They Live, Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Return On The Living Dead Part 2, Bad Dreams, The Blob and Phantasm II to name a very few all hit theaters! WaxWorks was met with mixed reviews with critics and fans being split on how much they enjoyed the film or didn’t. The film however did find success on the home video market as the sales for the VHS were solid and helped it get a sequel some years later. The film would also go on to be released on DVD and Blu-Ray and has gained a solid and loyal cult fan base. The film was directed by Anthony Hickox and stars Zach Galligan, Deborah Foreman, Michelle Johnson and Dana Ashbrook as the college kids with John Rhys-Davies, J. Kenneth Campbell and Miles O’Keeffe as the monsters! And David Warner plays the sinister David Lincoln and does a fantastic job at bringing this character to life.

I first saw this film back in my teen years when my brother Bryan and I rented it from K&L Video as it was one that we had heard of thanks to Fangoria Magazine and other horror related books. I can remember it was a day we rented a number of flicks and loaded up on junk food and soda and that night was a mini horror movie marathon.  I would say that WaxWorks was my favorite of the night as I don’t remember the other films we watched that day. After watching it, I ended up buying it on VHS and watched it from time to time as the film was one that was filled with classic monsters and gore and this made it up my ally. As VHS went away, I have gotten it on DVD and still find myself watching it at least once a year, sometimes even more. I also always recommend this film to Horror Movie fans whom have not seen it as it’s entertaining and always is a hit with them when they watch it.

Waxwork II: Lost In Time (1992)

“Mark and Sarah survive to the fire in the wax museum, but Sarah is followed by a severed hand that kills her father. Sarah becomes the prime suspect and goes to trial. Mark and Sarah search evidence to prove her innocence and they go to Sir Wilfred’s house. They find a footage prepared by Sir Wilfred with a puzzle based of the Alice and the Looking Glass. They solve the puzzle and find a compass that opens portals through time. They travel to the most different places in time seeking something to help Sarah in her trial in a dangerous journey.”

This sequel was direct to video and followed up right after the events of the first film. It was released by Electric Pictures on June 16, 1992 and was directed by Anthony Hickox again and starred Zach Galligan, Monika Schnarre and Patrick Macnee as this time around in cameos you have Martin Kemp, Drew Barrymore, Bruce Campbell, Buck Flower and David Carradine! Plus I should note that Godzilla is also in the film in a weird American kind of way. The film never captured the viewers like the first film, and while it’s entertaining, it is lacking a little in the gore and is missing a main villain as David Lincoln does not return. This one focuses way too much on a character called The Master. This was another film I saw via VHS from a rental at K&L Video, and while I enjoy it and it’s an okay sequel, it is lacking the charm on the first film for me. On a side note I want to also say that a clip of this film is used in the film Hellraiser III: Hell On Earth, another film directed by Hickox. This film in 1992 was joined by the following films for Horror Fans to enjoy Candyman, Dead Alive, Dr. Giggles, Army Of Darkness, Dust Devil, Demonic Toys, Stepfather III, Critters 4 and Night Of The Executioner to name a few. So if you enjoyed the first film, this one is worth a watch.

In 1988 when WaxWork was in theaters independent comic company Blackthorne Publishing was trying to lock its place in comic stories, and they did so by offering something different from the other guys and that included 3-D Comics and comics based on Horror, and with this came them doing a comic based on WaxWork! I originally got this comic way back when from Mavericks Cards And Comics and re-bought it years later from Bell Book And Comic so I want to thank them for having it in stock and for reuniting me with many of my comics from the past. So as we enter this WaxWork, I see some rules on the wall about not being late and only one person walking in each display but I also see one that wants me to remind you that I grade these on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story! So with that Hans has allowed us to go in and let’s see what horrors await us, shall we?

WaxWork # 1  **1/2
Released in 1988     Cover Price $2.00     Blackthrone     # 1 of 1

A homeless man is looking through the garbage outside of a Wax Muesum when he sneaks inside and is killed by Jason Voorhees! This traps his soul and allows owner David Lincoln to only need six more people in order to free the world’s worst killers and madmen! The next day Mark along with his friends are walking to school when they are greeted by David Lincoln who invites them all to visit the museum tonight for a private event, and they agree. Later that evening Mark and friends along with Professor Wilfred all attend, and soon many of them fall victim to the monsters in the displays as Dracula, Jack The Ripper, Zombies, The Mummy, a Werewolf and Marquis de Sade all claim victims and open the rift to allow them all to live again! Mark, Sarah and Professor Wilfred figure out what’s going on and set the place on fire all the while trying to defend themselves from the killers! Mark takes down Jason, while Sarah chops off Dracula’s head and before they can escape David Lincoln shoots Professor Wilfred as he stabs David and the WaxWorks falls down around them. In the end Sarah and Mark are greeted by the paramedics and are taken away as a lone Zombie Hand survives the fire.

When I was younger I really enjoyed this comic as it changed the plot and characters and made it a very loose adaptation of the film giving me as a reader and a fan something a little new.  Some of the changes that worked was adding a 80’s slasher killer like Jason Voorhees, but what didn’t work was how fast the story goes and that they take away any and all of the impact of the monsters as well as really downplay David Lincoln.  Also while Junior is around, he is very different and Hans is left out all together leaving grown up me thinking the comic was just okay. The plot is this: a group of college kids and their professor go to a wax museum, and some of the friends die inside the exhibits. After a brief time, they figure out that they have to burn the place down in order to stop the monsters from entering society. That’s the major issue with this comic adaptation, it all happens really quick and fast and besides the exhibit attacks all the horror and scares are gone as is the personalities of the characters, as Mark, China, Sarah and the others just come off as generic friends and villains who lack any real depth and charisma that made them cool characters in the films. Plus characters change roles as Sir Wilfred, who is the great grandfather of Mark in the films, is his professor in the comic, and he no longer leads an army of old timers that are trained to kill the monsters, but instead just figures out that they need to set the Wax Museum ablaze to stop the evil. David Lincoln is a minor role in this comic and barely gets to show off the characters evil side. The comic also cuts back on the gore and blood.  While it’s a little of a letdown, it still has some of the red stuff so it tried to at least please splatter fans. While it sounds like I am down on this comic with pointing out all its flaws and shortcomings, I do want to stress that I still enjoyed this comic after all these years.  I think lots of it has to do with that I am a sucker for Horror Comics based on cult films I love. The cover is pretty cool and is taken from the movie poster and has Hans opening the door to the WaxWorks with evil spirits all around. The interior art is done by Nigel Tully and is solid work.  While most of the characters look nothing like the actors who played them, it still holds a charm of its own. So I think if you enjoy the film and want to read almost a reimagining of the story then check this one out, but for those looking for the humor and gore of the film in these comic pages, I would say you might be disappointed. But while it’s not perfect I will say it’s a fun read and a comic that I enjoy having in my collection. Check out the artwork below to see what the art style is in this comic.

WaxWorks might not be a household name like many of the other 80’s Horror films, but it is one that I do truly think has been overlooked and deserves a cult statues. And it’s a film that mixes classic monsters and splatter effects wrapped around a horror comedy shell and is one of the better Horror Comedy films ever made. But with that we are going to leave the WaxWorks and head to out main attraction for this Countdown to Halloween as we will be playing a game and meeting the killer Jigsaw when we explore the world of SAW! So until then read a comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you on Halloween, boils and ghouls!

From Horror Movie To Horror Comic: The Dark (1993)

Cemeteries and small towns are packed with legends and tall tales of monsters and ghosts.  Around here in Dayton, Ohio I have heard my fair share of these stories and for our 3rd countdown to Halloween, we will be taking a look at a movie and comic that has a monster in the cemetery and is another in our “From Horror Movie To Horror Comic” updates.  I am talking about the 1993 film The Dark and the Norstar Comic based on it! During the early 90’s, horror was still going strong; the direct to video market was still very healthy as video rental stores were on almost every corner, and the youth were still very much into films with monsters, killers and supernatural beings. This film was on many video rental shelves and was watched by many monster kids of the 90s late on weekend nights. So let’s go to the cemetery and enter the tunnels as we take a look at The Dark, and the weird creature that lives in it.

We first must understand this comic and film’s monster, a hairy creature, in order to truly understand the horrors we are about to face. The creature in this film is called a Allotheria and is massive in size and has sharp claws and a very large head that supports teeth much like a dog mixed with a rat.  It makes its home in a cemetery as its main source of food is freshly dead buried bodies. The creature has lots of tunnels under the ground and seems to just attack when it feels its life is in danger or if you so happen to enter its cave. Not much is known what the creature is – some say it was an unknown species while it’s also hinted that it could be alien in nature, and this causes it to be wanted dead and alive by the government and its agents. The creature’s main means to kill is its sharp claws and teeth that it is able to use to shred human flesh.  It also can move pretty fast and can uses its tunnels to stalk its attended victim. Its main defense for  is a grey goo that is like blood and seems to heal wounds causing it to be harder to kill. The weakness of this creature is that while it can be a killing machine, it only attacks when provoked and this could leave it open for attacks. While the grey goo can heal most wounds, it does not protect from severe damage like multiple gunshots, and this can lead to the creature’s death. So this creature might not be the most powerful or most dangerous killers we have covered on one of our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic updates, but one thing is for sure, he could make any of us normal humans into bloody shredded cheese.

So as you can see, this dead human-meat eating creature just wants to be left alone and has the gruesome jaws and claws to make sure that he gets the peace he wants. But now that we have chatted about this killer creature we should now take a look at the movie it’s from and as always we will be taking the film’s write up from our friends at IMDB and after I will chat about the film’s production as well as my first time seeing it. So let’s go further underground and see what we can dig up on The Dark.

The Dark (1993)

“Something is alive beneath the surface of the graveyard. Something with the power to destroy and the power to heal. One man, a cop, is determined to kill this mysterious creature. Another, a scientist, is determined to capture and save this miraculous being. Stalking the creature in it’s subterranean habitat, neither man is aware of the battle they are about to start. A battle for science, survival and revenge.”

The Dark was released direct to video in 1993 and was produced by Lightshow Communications and had a theatrical release in Canada in 1994. The film was low budget and was directed by Craig Pryce who also directed episodes of “PSI Factor: Chronicles Of The Paranormal”, “Are You Afraid Of The Dark” and “Goosebumps” and stars such actors as Brion James, Stephen McHattie, Cynthia Belliveau and is the first movie role of Neve Campbell! The film is one that was met with mix reviews and over the years has gained a very small following among diehard 90s horror fans. Not much is out in the world wide web about the making of this film as it was one that came and went and was lost in the shuffle of horror films released in 1993 as these films over shadowed it Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday, Leprechaun, Return Of The Living Dead 3, Body Bags, Warlock: The Armageddon, Puppet Master 4, Maniac Cop 3 and Bloodstone: Subspecies II to name a few.

I first saw this film in August of this year and learned about it thanks to the Norstar Comic book that Pete of Bell, Book And Comic held back for me from a buy he did so that I could cover it here on Rotten Ink. So after digging around on Amazon, I found a VHS copy of the film and sadly when it showed up it was crushed and not in playing order so I had to send it back and ended up getting the film on DVD with the refunded money. Once I watched the film for the first time, I found it to be a fun monster flick that had a cool creature and an okay and simple story with cheesy lines and an ending that leaves it open for a sequel. I liked the setting mostly being a cemetery and that Neve Campbell played a young cop as she gave the film a edge as she does a good job on what little she is given. The disappointment of the film is that the monster is not shown as much as I wanted and in fact he does not seem like the biggest threat of the film as a rogue FBI Agent is clearly the more dangerous threat to our heroes. Over all while not an amazing independent horror film, it still was a fun one to watch on a boring day. You can find this film on DVD and VHS if you want to watch a film about a grey goo spewing, dead flesh eating, underground living creature who is wanted dead and alive by rival enemies.

So The Dark, as you can see, is a direct to video film from 1993 that features an underground creature, and while not a household name, it did get the comic book treatment and that to me is very cool as I think that many independent horror films should be doing this. Imagine comics based on films like Redsin Tower from Toe Tag or Babysitter Massacre from E.I. Entertainment getting their own comic books. So we are here deep in this tunnel under this cemetery, and as I look for a place to sit and read this comic, I want to thank Bell, Book And Comic for getting me this comic and scratched in the wall made of mud is this “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 I think the Creature wanted me to remind you all about this, so let’s sit back and prepare to be scared as we come face to face with The Dark!

The Dark # 1  **1/2
Released in 1993     Cover Price .80     Norstar Comics     # 1 of 1

Jake and Ed are digging a grave at the cemetery they work for when they witness a tombstone drop into the ground and Jake’s leg falls into a hole in the ground that is really a tunnel and Ed is able to get him free right before a creature is able to grab him. The cops are called to look into the tunnel and while searching it one cop is left dead as the gravediggers and female officer Jessie are greeted by Hunter and Tanya who warn them not to touch the black ooze that was left behind after the attack as he is here to capture the creature that made the tunnels and killed the cop. But as they are chatting, former FBI Agent Buckner shows up and locks all of them in a work shed besides Jake who he takes hostage and tosses in the tunnel as bait as he wants to kill this creature due to the fact the creature killed his partner years ago. Hunter and his crew escape the shed and he has a plan to bury himself in order to get the creature’s attention and try to capture it. And on this cliffhanger is how this issue ends with the question being what will the creature do.

This is a solid promo comic that gives you a taste of what to expect in the film and delivers good quick character development as well as a few cheap scares of the monster almost getting characters. The story is this: some gravediggers and a police officer team with a scientist and his new girlfriend to find a creature that lives in tunnels under a cemetery who become the target of a former FBI Agent who is hellbent on killing the creature as it killed his partner years back. Hunter is our hero of the issue as he is the scientist who wants to study the healing factors of the creature and knows that it could save many lives of injured people from all over the world. While he doesn’t get to flex his hero muscles to much in this comic he does use his brain to get them out of the shed and also comes up with an idea to bury himself to get close to the creature and find its lair. Tonya, Jake, Ed and Jessie are along for the ride and sadly are all caught up in this twisted game of kill or be killed. Buckner is a man who has turned mad and is eaten up with revenge and looks like he is willing to kill people in order to get it! The Creature is just being that an animal who is protecting its home and will kill and eat whom ever gets in its way! The comic is bloodless and doesn’t have any creature attacks and the horror aspect comes from suspense of the creature almost getting people and the drama of Buckner being crazy. The cover is an art version of the poster that hung in rental stores and is pretty eye catching for the time and for Horror Comic readers. The interior art is done by Paul Jenner and is solid and captures a true early 90’s independent comic feel. Over all this is only 12 pages long and is a great way to get readers hyped to see the film and is as well a great item for fans of the film to collect. To sum it up not life changing but a good quick read that does justice to the film. Check out the art below to see the Creature in all his ink and pen glory.

So we have gotten out of the tunnel and more importantly out of The Dark and we have found that the Allotheria Creature is a killing machine when provoked or attacked and that he jumped from movie to comic thanks to Norstar, a production company who released the film in Canada. So while we are all still in awaiting Halloween and with our next update being in October we are going to stick with our From Horror Movie To Horror Comic theme and take a look at The Willies! That’s right, the PG-13 Horror flick got its own comic and we will be taking a look at it next time we meet here at Rotten Ink. So until next time, read a Horror Comic or three, watch a Horror Movie or two and as always support your local Horror Host! The next update will give you The Willies!

The Blair Witch Project: Chapter 1

Welcome back to Rotten Ink and to my 2nd update in our countdown to Halloween 2017. I have been looking forward to doing this update as this comic is based on a film that revamped the horror genre of the late 90’s well into the 2000’s and also sparked the craze of found footage films that is still going to this day.  Of course I am talking about The Blair Witch Project! This 1999 film took the world of horror cinema by storm and proved that independent horror could bring in big dollars at the box office and that horror really has rabid and loyal fans. During this update we will chat about the film’s production, The Blair Witch herself, my first viewing of the film, merchandise and a little of everything in-between. So pack your backpack and grab some trail mix as we are heading into the Black Hills Forest to find the old Rustin Parr house and read our comic! If you’re not too scared as Halloween is fast approaching, let’s dive into the world of The Blair Witch Project.

To start this spooky update off right we should first take a look at the film that started a craze of point of view horror films as well as brought horror back into mainstream cinemas. It also was a film that got too big for most diehard horror fans and caused a huge backlash of fans turning on it over all the hype. I should also note it was a film that gave many movie goers motion sickness as the shaky camera work was just too much for them to handle. So let’s take a look at the production of this horror film mega hit.

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

“Three film students travel to Maryland to make a student film about a local urban legend… The Blair Witch. The three went into the woods on a two-day hike to find the Blair Witch, and never came back. One year later, the student’s film and video were found in the woods. The footage was compiled and made into a movie. The Blair Witch Project.”

The Blair Witch Project hit theaters on July 14, 1999 and took the world of horror by storm as it brought in $140,539,099.00 at the US Box Office on a budget of only $60,000! The film took root in 1993 when friends and Florida film students Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick wanted to make a cutting edge horror film that blurred the lines between film and reality as they enjoyed documentaries about ghosts and the paranormal. Along with some other friends, they opened Haxan Films and started to plan their film and characters and used real people from occult as inspiration like Rasputin and mystic Edward Kelley, and with the names set so came the backstory of their character Elly Kedward The Blair Witch. The film went into pre-production in late 1997 and with this also came investors and the casting of Heather Donahue, Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams.  During auditions they all had to improv to weird questions and situations. Filming started in October 1997 in the woods of Maryland and in the town of Burkittsville.  The cast was let loose with two cameras and only clues to find their next locations and what “drama” and “horror” should be taking place. During the filming, the actors were pushed long distances and at night they were deprived of sleep as well as food. The final scene of the film takes place in the old house of child killer character Rustin Parr, and the house used was the historic Griggs House that sadly was torn down due to fans stealing pieces of it after the film’s release. The last day of filming came on Halloween 1997, a perfect day to wrap filming of a horror film! After editing and test screening, the film was bought by Artisan Entertainment for only $1.1 million.

Before the film was released, the ending was a hot topic between the filmmakers and Artisan as they wanted a different ending to the film, but after some time and four more endings being shot, they all decided to stick with the original. Artisan did an amazing job of marketing this film as they passed it off as a real case and took to the new world of the internet to push this as a missing persons case with the last few moments caught on camera for moviegoers. They spread the word via websites, print ads, and even fake interviews and police reports were made. On the film’s IMDB page, the actors bios were listed as “Missing, Presumed Dead,” and this sparked movie goers to wonder if what they were seeing was real or not! The marketing for the film worked as it was a major hit at the US box office as it brought in big money and was the 10 grossing film of 1999 and beat out other Horror Films like Sleepy Hollow, The Haunting, Deep Blue Sea, Stigmata, Lake Placid, Stir Of Echoes, The Rage: Carrie 2, Bats, End Of Days and the remake of House On Haunted Hill. A little later in this update I am going to share my thoughts of seeing The Blair Witch Project in the theater as well as maybe Juliet’s that way you will get two different views and experiences of seeing it. Say what you will about the film nowadays and while its fashionable to hate on it, in 1999 it was a film that kept horror alive in the theater and proved to companies that they don’t need to spend huge budgets on them in order to turn a good profit.

The film’s main villain is The Blair Witch, Elly Kedward, who was a strange old woman who lived in the town of Blair when she immigrated from Europe in 1800’s and became the town’s creepy old lady. And after she was murdered by the townspeople, she became supernatural and with this came new powers that aid her in her quest for revenge on those who make the mistake of being in the Black Hills Forest. We will showcase her powers just from the first film because as the series goes on, she changes her ways and as we look more into the Blair Witch we will cover them. Elly has the power to change her appearance and even look like people’s friends. She can also imitate people’s voices and can make it sound close or far away. She can also make people confused as she can bend time and locations causing panic and confusion from her victims as they try to make sense of their situation. She can “mark” or “curse” a person with witchcraft and targeting them via their personal items. The Blair Witch also seems to know who and what is going on in The Black Hills Forest and also seems to be able to make the Rustin Parr murder house appear and disappear when she needs it. And to kick off her power, she also seems to control the spirits of young children that she uses as her tools to scare her victims. She also has a strange ritual that has one of her victims standing in the corner with their back to her and a victim she is going to kill, as she does have the power to posse a living person. So as you can see she has the power of witchcraft and supernatural powers, and she has no issues killing those who dare to cross her. While never seen below is pictures of what she is supposed to look like and that includes what McFarlane Toys think she looks like.

My friends and I were all hyped to go see The Blair Witch Project in the theater and all wanted to make sure we saw it on opening weekend. We knew that the film was fake and not a real found footage film of missing college kids, as we all knew that Heather Donahue was an actress in Stake N Shake Commercials, but the buzz around the film and the fact we all loved horror films drew us to it like a moth to a flame. We saw the film on July 17th at the Showcase Cinema Cross Point in Centerville after we had a Horror Movie Marathon the day before, and we were ready for what the world was saying was the scariest film of all time. The friends that went with me were Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Dave Wean, Rion Neeley and Brandon Womeldorff, and we all grabbed our snack foods and sodas and were ready to watch the film. I can remember that we all were so hyped for the film to start, and a group of teenage girls sat behind us and were also ready to be scared. I can remember being entertained by the film, drawn in by the drama and in moments my adrenaline running high as the slow build up to the final scene in the house was taking place…and shocked as the young ladies behind us were crying so loud at the end of the film as they believed that what they just saw was the death of three college kids.  The marketing worked on them. After the movie we all hung out in the parking lot and chatted about the film, and while it had flaws, we all ended up liking it for the most part.  This opinion of “like” would change for many as when the backlash hip thing to dislike the film came around some of these friends jumped on that train. The things that worked for me were the unsettling nature of three acquaintances stuck in the woods by a supernatural power, the ending that takes place in a creepy abandon house was great classic horror stuff and struck a cord with me as I at the time was really into entering old houses like it, I enjoyed looking at Heather Donahue as at the time I was into her look. One last major plus for me was that you never did get to see The Blair Witch as she is never on camera. The things that didn’t work for me in the film was mostly some of the improved dialogue as Mike at times delivered some terrible lines as well as his actions were dumb aka kicking the map into the river. The other downside for me was the repetitiveness of the dialogue as they hammered home that Heather was always doing the director thing and that Josh’s stuff was targeted. But while I did not find the film scary, I did and do find it to be entertaining. But let’s see what kind of experience and first impression Juliet had when seeing The Blair Witch Project at the theater.

“I first heard about The Blair Witch Project in Rolling Stone magazine. I have to give the producers props – their ad campaign for the movie was quite good and really took advantage of (or was aided by) the fact that the internet was still just coming to mass consciousness/everyone’s homes. They were able to craft a pretty convincing looking website to match the pretty convincing looking magazine ads that touted the film as a documentary, not fiction. Add in the fact that my friends and I, who were all in high school, were definitely not horror experts so we were unaware of other found footage films like the Last Broadcast. This is all to say that we definitely thought it was real going in. I had done some reading on the film that lead to believe that maybe it was fiction, but even those sources were questionable, making me think that maybe these were just naysayers. My friends Lisa, Christy, Angel and I went to see The Blair Witch Project shortly after it came out in the theaters, right before we left for band camp. Since Angel and I weren’t yet seventeen, we did the old trick of waiting in the bathroom while our of-age friends bought our group’s tickets. By and large, our group liked the movie upon first watch. Several of them were pretty freaked out by the jump-scares in the moment. But I think after that, and especially after it became crystal clear that The Blair Witch Project is a work of fiction, a lot of people I knew were quick to hop on the backlash train. It became pretty popular for people to rip this movie to shreds, and while, yeah, it’s not the best horror film on Earth, I wonder if some of that reaction is the result of some people being genuinely fooled into thinking it was real. But I really appreciated the experience that was create with the advertising build up as well as of the truly scary moments, especially the eerie ending (I was known to make jokes about standing in corners for months to follow). I’ve watched more found-footage films both from the late 90s and modern ones, I’ve come to understand a lot more of what worked – and what didn’t – in the Blair Witch Project.”

With The Blair Witch Project being one of the rebirth films of the horror genre at the Box Office came the mountain of merchandise, and man there was lots of it! Besides being released on home video it also got t-shirts, posters, trading cards, stickers, soundtrack CD, books, magazines, toy, buttons, patches, cups, comics, jewelry, hats,PC video games, magnets and every thing else you can think of! This was a juggernaut of popularity and fans had to have everything they could get their hands on based on it! I am not going to lie, as when I was a teen and this was released I did and still do own the movie poster, a necklace, trading cards and the movie on VHS and now on DVD. This movie really was a trendsetter and was the 90’s version of A Nightmare On Elm Street as both films sparked so much merchandise and captivated not only horror fans but movie fans.

Like all good horror films The Blair Witch Project has a good solid soundtrack that is mostly just one score piece by Antonio Cora that is called “The Cellar” that is a mix of noises that sound hollow yet also sounds so organic, it’s hard to describe besides that fact its very eerie sounding. And because this film was such a hit they decided that a soundtrack CD needed to be released in order to cash in on the films success. With the film pretty much being music less besides the one score music that ends the film they decided to act as if this soundtrack was the Mix CD of Josh and featured songs by bands like Type O Negative, Skinny Puppy, Bauhaus and Afghan Whigs to name a few. The soundtrack sold pretty well and many of my friends had it as it was sold at all the local Music Stores. I had it as well and still on Halloween play The Cellar on Alpha Rhymes on our Halloween Show and even have that track on the overhead at work!

The Blair Witch Project is considered the rebirth and start of the found footage point of view horror film, sure movies like Cannibal Holocaust (1980) and a few others came before it but none of them made as big as an impact in America and many of the masses didn’t even know about these pre-Blair Witch films. But one that came out in 1998 and is a documentary found footage film called “The Last Broadcast” is the flick that many horror fans say that The Blair Witch Project ripped off, as elements are very similar and it predates it in theaters by one year. The Last Broadcast is about a group of public access show goofs filming in the Pine Barons to see if the Jersey Devil is real that goes missing and pursumed dead as blood is found in the snow, and this attack was filmed and a fellow crew member was blamed but did he really do it. But is this true was The Blair Witch Project inspired or did it rip off The Last Broadcast as many think…the short answer is No. While the plots share a little similarities with a group heading into the woods to document and find the truth of a local legend that end up dead in the end. Both use a documentary feel and both have lots of POV moments that add to the dread and horror. Both started out as low budget independent films and both had down beat endings. While Last Broadcast was released in theaters in 1998 and The Blair Witch Project in 1999 many would think that the BWP was just a copy but in reality it was in production and filming long before The Last Broadcast even hit theaters making the rumor that it influenced Blair Witch nothing more than Horror Movie gossip. On a side note I really do want to say that I as well really do enjoy The Last Broadcast and find it to be a well-made horror film that is underrated when people think of 90’s Horror Films.

So we are here at the point in our review that we have hit the old Parr House in these dark woods in Maryland and I think we should sit back and relax and listen to the noises and screams of the Blair Witch as we read the first one shot comic based on her evil deeds. So we have chatted about the film and its legacy, and I am sure many of you are wondering why I have not talked about the two sequels The Blair Witch Project spawned and that’s cause we will have two more chapters in the coming years that will cover those films and the rest of the comics series that followed. And if you look at this crumbled wall next to me finger painted in blood it says “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.” I also want to thank Mavericks Cards And Comics for having this comic in those many years ago that allowed me to get it and read it and revisit it for this review. So with that lets see if this comic by Oni Press holds up to my old memories of enjoying it.

The Blair Witch Project # 1  **1/2
Released in 1999     Cover Price $2.95     Oni Press     # 1 of 1

“Elly Kedward’s Curse!” follows young Elly as she makes her way from Europe to come to America were she lives in Blair, Maryland and stays to herself. She is good at sewing and the towns folk leave her alone for the most part. But something is plaguing Elly as she has a curse that lives deep inside her that causes pain and suffering to those around her and after the men return to town after a great war their hatred is placed on her and she is tormented and accused of being a witch that leaves her tortured and left in the woods to die…while he mortal body dies the curse takes over and she becomes something more and this leads to kids from town going missing and a group of men setting out to find them in the Black Hills Forest. “She Needs Me: Coffin Rock” a young girl is tricked into following The Blair Witch into the woods were she posseses the girl and waits many days until a group of five men coming looking for her, once they find her she is sitting on Coffin Rock and once they get close she uses witchcraft on them and ties them into a circle and mutilates and carves up the bodies! Once this evil deed is done she frees the young girl who returns home telling a story that The Blair Witch tells her to tell of a woman in white helping her. This tale ends with more towns men going into the woods to find the missing search party and now the little girl is messed up in her mind. “Left Alone: The Rustin Parr Killings” this story follows Rustin Parr and man who lived in Blair in the woods and was not friendly to the townspeople and just wanted to be left alone, but this changed when The Blair Witch starts speaking to him via his mind and makes him kidnap 7 kids in pairs of two and he had to kill one as the other stood in the corner and had to listen. The final kid was set free after the final kill and Rustin turns himself in and dies via hanging and the young man who survived was driven mad and spent the rest of his life in a asylum.

This comic is kind of like an anthology comic as three stories make up our comic that is really like a history of the legend of The Blair Witch! The first story follows Elly Kedward as she is murdered for being a witch and the fact she was plagued with a curse that is unleashed full force when she was left for dead, the second story is about the slaughter of five hunter in a search party for a lost little girl that were murdered and mutilated by the Witch and our final story is about child killer Rustin Parr and his killing spree of 6 children that was all being plotted by the Witch. Each story has their own artist and own charm and each deliver some solid and spooky moments. This does not read nor look like your normal Horror Comic as it seems more artsy and holds a real small press comic feel and this really works for this comic as the film as well had a very independent look to it. Out of the three stories I think my favorite was She Needs Me: Coffin Rock as I like the way the witch used an innocent little girl to lead five men to their deaths and twistedly she uses the body of the little girl to commit the murders! My least favorite story was Elly Kedword’s Curse as it just kind of putted along and the pay out was a no brainer. The comic has some blood and gruesome moments that mostly comes from the aftermaths of murder. The comic also does a great job of showcasing some of the films lore like the killing of Elly Kedword, the child killings of Rustin Parr and lastly the slaughter at Coffin Rock. Now the main question I am sure you want to know is if it’s scary at all and if it delivers any chills and sadly I would say that it lacks in that department as it captures the mood and lore of the film it does not capture any of the creepy scares that made it a mega hit. The cover is cool and was sure to capture the attention of fans of the film with its use of Heather and the logo and the interiors was done by three different artists with Tommy Lee Edwards, Guy Davis and BEM all leading their talents to the comic. Over all this is a pretty cool comic and will surly satisfy fans of the film and for the most part Horror Comic fans who like their scares based on films. Check out the art samples bellow to see the styles used in this B.W.P comic.

So love or hate The Blair Witch Project this independent film has left a large mark on the world of Horror Movies and even left one in the world of comics as this is not the only comic made based on the characters. The next time we cover the Blair Witch we will take a look at the second film in the series Book Of Shadows as well as review the four issue series from Oni Press called The Blair Witch: Chronicles and I think we get to that sometime in 2018. But for our next update and the next in our countdown to Halloween we will take a look at the Northstar comic based on the 1993 film The Dark! So until next time read a horror comic or three, watch a found footage horror film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! See you next update for another spooky good time!

Day Of The Monster Bash Vacation (2017)

Welcome back to Rotten Ink!  Once more, it’s time for Juliet and I to take a long overdue vacation, and once more we decided to spend it in Cranberry, PA to attend the best classic monster convention of all time, Monster Bash! It’s a special year as this is the 20th year of the convention and there are lots of great guests like Ricou Browning who played Gillman in Creature From The Black Lagoon, Larry Storch from The Ghostbusters and F-Troop as well as Hammer Horror actress Veronica Carlson to name a few. Plus I am pretty hyped to see what statues they have awaiting us attendees and whether there will be a fancy monster car up front besides The Munsters Drag-U-La! It will also be great to see David “The Rock” Nelson as well as Horror Hosts Son Of Ghoul, Mr. Lobo and Penny Dreadful as they are all great people and help add to this wonderful weekend getaway. I for one have been looking forward to this vacation for a while.  After moving and the stresses of work and the creative stuff I do, getting away and relaxing with classic monster fans sounded like bliss as well as just hanging out in the hotel and chatting with Juliet who is not only my girlfriend but also one of my best friends in the world as she is truly my soul mate. So on this update, we will also be taking a look at the third Romero film, Day Of The Dead as well as the one and only issue based on the film from Dead Dog Comics. So pack your bag and jump into the car as you friends and readers are going on a trip to Monster Bash!

Our quest for Monster Bash began on Thursday June 22, 2017 at around noon.  The weather was warm and muggy as Juliet and I climbed into the Mazda 3 and hit the highway. While driving we talked about Sparkle Comics and ideas for future issues that we would love to see be released by our comic family. We also chatted about Pro Wrestling from WWE all the way to Rockstar Pro and mostly chatted about wrestlers I remember watching when I was a youngster. For our listening pleasure, we listened to the podcast The Real Short Box that has three friends Kevin, Donald and Jarred talking about comic books with the best episode of the day being them talking about their favorite 80’s comic storylines with all three having good choices and all three so different.  If you have not listened to these guys and enjoy comics, you should check em out. For lunch we stopped at Ruby Tuesday’s on the Ohio and West Virginia border again where I enjoyed grilled salmon with rice and a baked potato, and Juliet dined on a crispy chicken cob salad. It was a very good meal, and this is the same one we ate at last trip to the Bash. Once in town we checked into the Comfort Inn in Cranberry and went to New Dimension Comics where I bought a stack of comics to read at night including issues of Action Comics, Avengers and Boris Karloff Tales Of Mystery.  We spent the rest of the night in and ate dinner at Eat N Park and went to bed with visions of monsters and horror films in our heads.

Friday, day one of Monster Bash kicked off with Juliet and I waiting for the convention to open at 3pm so we decided to get some brunch at Max & Erma’s and had a good and solid meal.  From there we decided to get some coffee in Mars at the Mars Brew House, a very cool family owned coffee house that serves very good variety of coffee. After getting our order and chatting with the owner about Monster Bash and Baron Von Porkchop, Juliet and I sat outside and enjoyed the cool and rainy weather under the porch while listening to the church bells and enjoying the feel of this small town. Also while there I had to get my picture with the UFO in my Space Monkey T-Shirt, and for you readers who don’t know who Space Monkey is shame on you as he is a very cool independent wrestler who is a monkey who was sent to space! After hanging in Mars for a little while, we decided that it was time to head back to the hotel and wait for the doors of Monster Bash to be open as we both love this convention! On a side note I also want to say that I really dig the small town feel of Mars as it reminds me of Mayberry as everyone is always so nice and train tracks run through downtown and churches are all around…just a very cool small town.

When 3pm hit Juliet and I made our way down to Monster Bash.  The Drag-U-La was out front, and I was happy to see it again! Once inside we noticed that this was the most busy we had ever seen Monster Bash since we began going, and it was great to see so many people at an event that is celebrating classic movie monsters. After waiting in line for a short time, we entered the convention and saw the statues that were all fantastic! This time they were Gillman from Creature Walks Among Us, The Monster from The Bride, Dracula from Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein and lastly the Hammer Horror version of The Phantom Of The Opera that was my clear cut favorite! We walked around and saw lots of amazing things and seen lots of great people. But after about an hour, the place was really hot and people started to forget manners so we decided to head to the hotel and relax and plan our Wing King and a movie night! As always this was a great first day, and we returned with some great items for our collections to fill our new home together.

So I am sure you’re wondering what my first day haul of goods from Monster Bash was, right? Well it was a good day even if it was over crowded and people kept bumping into and cutting in front of Juliet and I! So here is what I got comic book wise: Night Of The Living Dead: Back From The Grave # 1 comic for $2.50, El Toro Azul’s Monster Movie A Go-Go # 1- 2 for $10.00 and The Defenders # 70 for only $1.50! Paperback Book wise, I got Elvira: Camp Vamp for $3.75, King Kong for $4.75, Nosferatu The Vampire for $2.75 and Young Frankenstein for only $2.75! Music CD wise, I found a bootleg copy of The Cool Ghoul and his Phantasmagorical Funny Fonograf Record for $10.00, a true fun Horror Host release. And in DVD’s I got The Leech Woman for $20.00 and DVD-R’s of the films IT and Cry Of The Werewolf for $10.00 each! Over all a really great first day with lots of great items bought. The one I am most happy about finding is the paperback book of Young Frankenstein written by Gilbert Pearlman as I used to own this in my youth and am looking forward to reading it again. So check out the picture below for the cool haul from day 1.

For dinner the first night of Monster Bash we decided to eat Wing Kings and watch a movie on the old laptop.  The film we picked was Cry Of The Werewolf, a classic black and white film from 1944 as a classic monster movie seemed like the right choice for the evening. Cry Of The Werewolf stars Nina Foch, Stephen Crane and Osa Massen and was directed by Henry Levin who also did such films as “The Devil’s Mask” and “Honeymoon Hotel” and this would be my first time watching it! The plot of the movie is a princess who has the curse of the werewolf trying to keep quiet those she thinks are getting to close to her secret. And from Wing Kings I ordered 12 Garlic Wings and an order of Cheese Fries plus drank a small cup of Coke, and both the meal and the film were good and made for a perfect time for this evening. After dinner Juliet and I worked a little on some Sparkle Comics printing prep and later I read The Defenders # 70 that I bought from Monster Bash and watched some TV before going to bed and gearing up for the second day of one of my all time favorite conventions.

The second day of Monster Bash was way less busy and had less unaware people as Juliet and I were able to walk around and enjoy the world of classic movie monsters! Just being around fellow fans of classic monsters, comic books and vintage action figures is super relaxing plus seeing all the smiling faces as they are looking at DVD, VHS and comic books is really cool and feeds your inner nerd. Walking around I found a giant poster that show cased all the Marvel Comics Heroes and Villains from 1988, and I was having a blast finding all the characters and even found Man-Thing who was hiding and after talking to Juliet we decided to walk away from it, but if its still there on Day 3, it will be coming home with me as it was only $15.00 and would be amazing to hang up near my comic book collection. So after wandering around for a little while and saying hi to some of our horror host friends, we decided it was time to explore outside the convention.

After leaving the Bash, we headed to get some lunch at Moe’s and I had a really tasty chicken burrito with a lime coke to drink! Juliet and I sat in the restaurant and chatted about geeky stuff and decided from there to head back to New Dimension Comics who was having a store wide sale and we got 30% off our order! Juliet found a Star Trek: Next Generation issue she wanted to read, and I found handful of comics I wanted with such heroes as Wonder Woman, Thor and Lomax and after our brief shopping spree we decided to just drive around and check out the land and the local business in the area. After a nice and fun drive we decided to get some frozen yogurt from TCBY as Juliet cannot ever come to Cranberry and not eat there. After we had our nice midday snack we decided to go back to Monster Bash where I chatted with David “The Rock” Nelson and we once more soaked in the world of monsters, and once done headed back to the hotel to plan the night of Day 2 of Monster Bash.

Day 2’s haul at Monster Bash was also a good one as I found some really cool stuff! In comics I found Captain America Annual # 2 for only $2.00! I got a great Dr. Creep art print for free from the artist and it will be hung with pride in my editing room! I got two wood art plaques that will be hung in our horror movie room of Phantom Of The Opera and Waldemar Daninsky, and I must say having a Paul Naschy wood art piece for that room is pretty badass; they cost $25.00 each! I bought Devil Ant 1-3 on DVD-R from The Rock for $20.00 each, and I truly love supporting the world of shot on video directors. I also got the DVD of the zombie flick Sugar Hill for $20.00 and a DVD-R of the film The Dead Don’t Die for $10.00! And I got the paperback books of The Addams Family for $3.00 and Return Of The Living Dead signed by John Russo who chatted with me about finding the stock of this old book in the UK! So as you can see, I got some great stuff and I think my top purchase of the day had to be the Paul Naschy wood art…as it’s truly amazing!

For dinner, we decided to once more get some Eat N Park where I chomped down on some liver and onions with some rice, mashed potatoes & gravy as well as some hash browns and water to drink. The meal was good as always as Eat N Park has always delivered a good meal to Juliet and I when here in Cranberry! To finish off the meal, I ate a smile cookie, and I still really think it has a Monster Candy taste to them and for the rest of the night I read some comics and watched some TV before finally going to bed with the third and final day of Monster Bash to follow.

The third and final day of Monster Bash was on Sunday, and Juliet and I started our day getting breakfast at the Pig Iron right next door and I had an amazing dish called Chorizo Hash and a Pepsi to drink. Once done we walked around Monster Bash one last time and soaked in all the classic monsters and briefly chatted with vendors and said our goodbyes till next year. I must also note that the cool giant 1988 Marvel Comics character poster was gone so it just was not meant to be. After walking back to the hotel I really do think that Sparkle Comics and Baron Von Porkchop should vend one year at Monster Bash as I think that we would fit it so well and could spread our comics and Horror Host to the attendees. While we are still here in Cranberry, Pa for another two days, it’s very sad that another Monster Bash has come to an end and that I will have to wait another year to return! So as always I must praise Monster Bash for being one of the best Horror Cons that I attend and look forward to coming to it more in the future.

The third and final haul of goods from Monster Bash was pretty good as I picked up DVD’s of Monster Movie A Go-Go, a Horror Host show that has them hosting Plan 9 From Outer Space and Santa Claus Conquers The Martians as well as two independent horror films they made called Nail Biter and Children Of The Way plus a cool CD of a radio drama they made called Anton Rook The Mummy Express and I got all this for only $40.00! Plus I picked up a made for TV movie on DVD-R called Death Moon for $15.00! One cool thing about Death Moon is that it could be covered here on Rotten Ink as a “Made For TV” update! So as always another great day of cool stuff gotten and all stuff I am looking forward to watching.

After Monster Bash, it was time for Juliet and I to go on a little drive and go to The Snowman in Portersville as we love to get a cool snack and enjoy the farm land around us. On the drive over Juliet and I chatted about what is next for her to write in the world of Sparkle Comics, and while we did not lock a project many possibilities were discussed and by the end of our vacation I will have a project for her to work on! When we arrived at The Snowman, we noticed that it was the busiest it has been since we have been going, and this made me happy as I really love this little shaved ice shop. I ordered my Yeti Shake and Juliet got chocolate shaved ice and we chilled at a table and soaked in the sun and before leaving had to see the horses again with my favorite being Cookie who is the brown female horse who is 33 years old. Another great visit to The Snowman and if you’re in the Cranberry area make sure to stop by and enjoy a Yeti Shake or a shaved ice!

While leaving the Snowman and before hitting the highway again, I spotted a small cemetery near a church and had to stop and see it! The cemetery was behind Portersville Bible Church and was very tiny and surrounded by corn fields and sat on a hill with a great view! The parking lot had a very old a cool crypt that was turned into a shed and looked straight out of a classic black and white horror film and this was what really caught by eye as it was the perfect mix of classic and creepy. Many of the graves was very old and lots of the dates could not be read from wear, and the mood of the cemetery was very peaceful. As Juliet walked among the tombstones I stood on a patch of bare land and looked around the land around and breathed in the fresh air.  After a while we decided to leave and Juliet would not go to the abandon school across the street so we headed back out into the world of Pennsylvania!

After a great day of exploring and relaxing, we decided that we were once more going to have a night of Wing Kings and a movie! I was craving some wings and spending the evening watching a Horror Film and before bed reading Captain America Annual # 6 sounded like a perfect way to end the night. So I ordered 12 garlic wings and some cheese sticks and the film of the night was Devil Ant, the shot on video masterpiece from independent filmmaker pioneer David “The Rock” Nelson! The films that The Rock makes are so much fun and have so much heart and entertainment value to them and capture the true nature of shot on video backyard films. Plus The Devil Ant is packed with tons of cameos from such people as Roger Corman, Hilary Clinton, Son Of Ghoul and Svengoolie to name a few. Plus eating tasty chicken wings and watching a zero budget film is something I think every Horror movie fan should do on Sunday nights! So after dinner and the movie I climbed into bed and read the Captain America comic and went to bed ending the third and final day of Monster Bash.

Day five of being in Cranberry, Juliet and I decided to get some breakfast at Einstein Bros and after went to the Cranberry Cinema to see Transformers: The Last Knight on the big screen! We both really like the Cranberry Cinema as its a great independently owned first run theater with a great staff and on Mondays tickets are cheaper and they give you a free small popcorn! After the movie we hung out again at the hotel and I read some comics and took a nap, and once back up we ate lunch at Max And Erma’s and had desert at TCBY making it the second time we had frozen yogurt on this trip. After we had a good frozen treat, we went back to New Dimension Comics and loaded up on great $1.00 books where I found such cool comics like Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath, Captain America and many more. Once back at the hotel and when evening came we watched WWE Monday Night Raw and had diner at Bob Evans via carry out. Before bed I read the first issue of Night Of The Living Dead: Aftermath and an issue of Action Comics. And so ended another great day of our vacation.

On the six and final day of our vacation in Cranberry we decided to head to Mars Brew House and get some coffee before we headed to what is always one of my must stops the place that for me helps get my creative juices flowing, Evans City Cemetery, the shooting location for one of the most iconic zombie and horror films of all time Night Of The Living Dead! I have been to this place many times and its charm and just beautiful atmosphere is refreshing to a guy like we who likes small town life, but has to live in the city as well as work in it. Juliet and I walked around for a long while chatting about Sparkle Comics, zombie films, graves and Monster Bash. One thing we noticed this year is that the cemetery was over run by chipmunks that darted around like little fuzzy wildmen.  This of course made us joke about doing a comic called “Night Of The Living Chipmunks”! Even at one point as we were walking the isles of tombstones we both had to dodge a crazed bird that was flying right toward us! This is such a peaceful place and if you find yourself in the area and just need a quite place to relax and maybe read a book or comic make sure to stop here and soak it all in.

While in Cranberry I sent a message to Wampum Underground to see if Juliet and I could take a tour of the main filming spot of my favorite zombie film of all time and the main topic of this update Day Of The Dead…but sadly they would not allow us, and while it was a letdown, I understand why they don’t let fans of the film in as it would be nonstop plus they store people’s personal items as well as companies. So while we could not go inside Juliet and I still decided to at least drive to it and see it from the outside, and man when we arrived I just imagined the whole area being swarmed with zombies and this made me smile. We drove past it a few times and I snapped a few pictures as we pulled over so that I could at least soak in the filming spot. Once done Juliet and I headed back home and chatted about comics, movies, life and wrestling while we listened to more Real Short Box Podcasts. I always hate when this vacation to Monster Bash comes to an end as I really do enjoy being there and just love the fact that classic monsters are being honored by the staff of the Bash as well as fans who attended the event. Once home I had a few more days off before I had to return to work and spent it working on the new house, working on Sparkle Comics and found some old movie scripts that might be finally shot for the possible rebirth of Independent B Movie. So that was the vacation part of this update and now its time for us to talk about…..DAY OF THE DEAD!

George A. Romero created the modern zombie film with his 1968 classic “Night Of The Living Dead” that I covered twice here on Rotten Ink.  One was the Prolougue & Aftermath and then I did the Adaptation of the film both done by Fantaco Comics. Then in 1978, he returned to the zombie world and made the masterpiece “Dawn Of The Dead” with last year me taking a look at the IDW Adaptation of the film, and now this year’s Monster Bash leads me to my favorite in the series hands down “Day Of The Dead”! So if you’re ready to go underground to hide from the living dead, we will start our journey into the third Romero film and enter the world of when the dead ruled the day and the dawn was over!

Let’s begin our trip to the underground world were the dead has taken over topside by breaking down the film itself. While I could babble on about this film for ever I will make it brief as I also think that those who want to really get the inside story of the film should buy the Scream Factory DVD or Blu-Ray and watch the fantastic extras that goes into the full history of the film.

Day Of The Dead was part of a three film deal that George A. Romero signed with Laurel Entertainment who wanted the third film in his dead series to be made and as part of the deal, both Creepshow and Knightriders were made and unleashed onto the horror watching masses. The idea for Day of The Dead started out big as the original budget was set at $7 million, and it was supposed to be the “Gone With The Wind” of zombie films! The original idea was to have it be high action with the army fighting zombies with boats and explosions in Florida with lots of the budget going into the effects. But after the budget was cut down to only $3.5 million, the big ideas had to be cut down to a more practical story.  The film ended up being mostly shot in Pennsylvania with some still being filmed in Florida, and they took lots of the action out of the script and added more drama. Casting was perfect and went as following Lori Cardille as Sarah Bowman, Terry Alexander as John, Jarlath Conroy as Bill, Joseph Pilato as Captain Rhodes, Gary Howard as Pvt. Steel and Sherman Horard as Bub to name a few. He hired Tom Savini and his crew to do the FX including Gregory Nicotero who would go on to do FX on the hit AMC show The Walking Dead. The film needed lots of zombies, and extras were brought in and did it for free or made a $1.00 and got a hat that said “I Was A Zombie In Day Of The Dead”. The production was grueling as they filmed under ground in Wampum, and the air down there made many actors and crew sick. When done Laurel Entertainment released it to limited theaters on July 19, 1985 and was meet with mix reviews by fans and critics and only brought in $5,000,000.00 at the US Box Office making the film not a major hit, but it did do better overseas bringing in $28 million to help the film become a minor hit. In 1985 Day of the Dead was # 115 at the box office and beat out such classic genre films as “Godzilla 1985”, “Rainbow Brite And The Star Stealer”, “The Bride”, “Re-Animator”, “Def-Con 4” and “The Company Of Wolves” to name a few. What hurt Day Of The Dead at the cinema was the fact it had a limited release and was up against other horror films like “A Nightmare On Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Dead”, “Fright Night”, “Friday The 13th V: A New Beginning”, “Silver Bullet” and “Return Of The Living Dead,” a film that updated the the zombie genre that Romero created with faster, smarter and more threatening undead. But while for the longest time it was viewed as the weaker of the Romero Dead Trilogy, it has gained the respect and fanfare that it has been due since it was released. Again while I love many zombie films like Zombi 2, Return Of The Living Dead, White Zombie, Night of The Living Dead and Dawn Of The Dead, it’s Day of The Dead that remains my favorite.

So as you can see hands down my favorite zombie film of all time is Day Of The Dead and many of you long time readers remember that I first saw this film on USA Network when I was a kid and it captured my imagination and was a hot talk topic at school when it first aired on that iconic network. I spent sometime as well drawing pictures of Bub and wondering if he would show up in the 4th Romero Dead film. Once we got a VCR and I found the VHS tape of the movie, I of course bought it and watched the hell out of it! When playing Resident Evil 3: Nemesis on the Sony Playstation and near death I would limp around and scream “Come On” just like Captain Rhodes did in the film as it always made me and others laugh. The home video market is what helped Day Of The Dead gain fans and would also be what helped it make more money to build it up to being profitable. I also really like the fact that in Walking Dead season 4 in the episode called Us, characters Glenn and Tara are in a tunnel and are being attacked by zombies and clearly one of the zombies is Bub!! I watch this film on DVD all the time and even watch the USA Network print that my pal Jason Young gave me that he recorded when he was a youngster! So do yourself a favor and make sure to watch this film this Halloween as it’s worth the view.

I also want to note that with a heavy heart as I was working on this update, George A. Romero passed away from lung cancer, and this was a major blow to me as I have been a longtime fan of his work and even visit his filming locations as his films mean that much to me. I want to dedicate this blog update to Mr. Romero and want to think him for all the scares he has delivered to all us Horror Fans and my thoughts are with his family, friends and fans during this very sad and hard time.

The score soundtrack for Day of The Dead is done by John Harrison and mixes eerie horror with an island sound delivering a very interesting and in my opinion very memorable score. That’s one thing that drives me crazy is when people try and compare the Harrison score for Day Of The Dead against the Goblin score for Dawn Of The Dead as they are two different styles for two different styles and mood of films and each do their respective film justice. Harrison’s score music is very moody and captures the dread as well as the hope that members of the underground group have, as the dark sounds really represent the zombies and the army both who are the the real threats to the group of scientist as the more island sound represents our heroes and John the pilot who has a thought that they should take over an island and restart mankind and leave the past behind us. I have played this soundtrack many times on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO, and my favorite track is “Breakdown” as I truly think its an amazing track and sums up the feel and mood of the film. This soundtrack has been released on Vinyl and CD, and the first time I owned it was on a CD called “Dead Trilogy” that had it paired with Night and Dawn and was made by Roger’s Basement a cool old website that use to offer hard to find and never released soundtracks to Horror and Science Fiction films that would also have dialogue from the films, very cool stuff and I wish Roger would comeback to the web and start this back up again. Now I also own the soundtrack on an official CD release put out by Taurus, and on the vinyl reissue from Waxwork. If you’re a lover of Horror Film score music, do yourself a favor and pick this one up as it’s really is a great listen.

Like “Night Of The Living Dead” and “Dawn Of The Dead” before it, “Day Of The Dead” has had its share of some amazing merchandise! Like a very cool Prism Sticker that was in vending machines back in the late 80’s. Movie posters for theaters and video stores that would also find their way to being reproductions for home décor. The soundtrack made its way to vinyl and CD and has been played many times on Alpha Rhythms on WYSO. Halloween masks based on the likeness of Bub and Dr. Tongue have been made for fans to dress as their favorite zombie of the film. Plus Amok Time has made some amazing action figures based on Day Of The Dead of Dr. Tongue and Bub and these figures are a must have for fans of the film. Also fan art, shirts and comics have been made as well at the film has been released on many home media like VHS and DVD. Also Day of The Dead has been released on Blu-Ray and in the Arrow limited edition release a cool mini comic book came inside called “Day of The Dead: Desertion” that was about everyone’s favorite zombie Bub…before he was a zombie! So if you are a fan of this film like me, I am sure you own many of these cool items and here is hoping for more items to be made as I will for sure buy them to add to my collection.

So while Bub and Dr. Tongue are the two zombies from the film that get most of the attention from horror fans, I want to focus on one who in my opinion is over looked but is all the same a very cool zombie, and I am talking about Beef Treats! I am sure some of you readers are asking yourself who is Beef Treats, and I am here to tell you he is the male zombie that is captured and refuses to eat the beef in a can that the doctors are trying to feed him that is supplied by the army. Beef Treats, while not a major zombie in the film, has built up a fan following and was played by actor Mark Tierno whom I have had the honor of going to dinner with along side my pal Geoff Burkman who played a zombie in Day Of The Dead, Juliet, my pal David J. Getz and fans of writers of this iconic third film in the Romero Dead series at a Brown Derby restaurant after the Cinema Wasteland Convention in Strongsville, Ohio area. The dinner was lots of fun as it was great to hear Mark talk about his time on set and the motivation behind playing Beef Treats, I also think it was humorous that during dinner he ordered brussel sprouts, and in my mind I pictured a zombie eating those vegetables and it made me chuckle. It was also great seeing the fans and such asking Geoff about his time as a zombie as he is very proud of the fact he was in that film, and as he should be. So while he is not as iconic as Bub, I must say Beef Treats is a great zombie who added his own blood stain in the world of Day Of The Dead! So here is to you Beef Treats and actor Mark Tierno, who made this zombie come undead on the silver screen.

On April 11, 2015 Juliet and I decided to take our pal Geoff Burkman to Cinema Wasteland Convention as they had a big Day Of The Dead reunion.  Geoff played a zombie in the film and wanted to chat with the star.  This is also my favorite zombie film of all time, and I wanted to meet such stars as Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Sherman Howard, Gary Howard and all the others attending.  The main person I wanted to meet was Joe Pilato who plays Captain Rhodes, one of the best characters in Horror Cinema! The drive up to Wasteland was lots of fun and we all chatted about movies, The Walking Dead and even ideas for a Babysitter Massacre 2! Once at the event Geoff went his separate way as did Juliet and I, and after walking around for a few minutes and catching up with the old Cinema Wasteland Family, I got the honor of meeting Joe Pilato, and man, was he one kick ass dude! He cracked me up as when coming up to his table he screamed out to the crowd “Oh My God It’s Billy Romero, George’s Son!” as he told me that I reminded him of a young George Romero and that was one heck of a great compliment coming from him. The people around all looked at me when he screamed this, and I think some of them really did think I was Romero’s son! While at the table I chatted with Joe for a short time and told him all the same things all fans do about how he played one of my favorite characters of all time and got his autograph as well as a photo with him. Before we left his table he asked Juliet and I if we were going to the Day Of The Dead Q & A that was happing later on in the day and we of course said yes! Lucky for us when the time came we all got good seats and listened to the cast and crew chat about the making of the film as well as shout out famous lines from the film….it was amazing to hear all this in person! As we left the convention was when we were able to go out to dinner with Beef Treats Zombie and chat with fellow lovers of this film. I must say that Cinema Wasteland does it right when it comes to showcasing amazing cult actors and directors and don’t fill their guest list with B-List cameo actors from mainstream modern cable TV series. So I want to thank Ken and Pam for making this convention rock as much as it does as they have the heart and soul of true Horror fans! Below is the pic of Joe and I from Wasteland.

My pal Geoff, as you know by now, was a zombie extra in Day of The Dead. I have known Geoff since I was five years old as he owned a record store called Renaissance Music that my dad would shop at and I would as well once as I got older. Geoff is a cool guy and has been in a ton of plays in and around the Dayton area as well as has been in lots of great locally made films like The Manson Family, The Wolf Hunter 1-2, Babysitter Massacre, Depression The Movie, Atrocity Circle and many more. So it’s my pleasure and honor to sit with Geoff Burkman, zombie extra for Day Of The Dead and ask him a few questions!

Matt: How Did You Hear About The Casting Of Zombie Extras For Day Of The Dead?

Geoff: I was friends with a WSU film student, Bill Laxson, who was a customer at the shop. A year or so after he graduated, I think, I got a call from him out of the blue, telling me he’d gotten a job as a PA on the film. Either he mentioned the possibility, or I geeked out, or whatever, but one thing led to another, and soon I was in touch with the ladies running extras casting, and the rest is history.

Matt: When Selected Who Picked That You Would Be The Baseball Catcher Zombie?

Geoff: He was an umpire, actually. That was likely the choice of costuming, based on my measurements. I had no idea what I would be until I got there.

Matt: What Was The Process Like Getting Into The Makeup? And Who Did Your Makeup?

Geoff: Day One was the umpire zombie, part of the assembly line. Sadly, I don’t recall the name of the lady who did mine. I want to say there were 4-6 stations for making up the extras that morning. Took maybe an hour or so, iirc. Overall, we were on site by 730am and fully costumed, made up and ready to rock by 10am. We didn’t get called to shoot until at least 10pm that night. So, a whole bunch of waiting around.

Day Two I played a different zombie, one of the collar gang, presumably from the depths of the walled-off cavern. For that one I’d been shown through Saviniland by Bill and intro’ed to Tom himself as a possible head-shot zombie. No such luck, my hair was deemed not thick enough to mask the squib. Still, it was either Tom or one of his assistants (not Nicotero that I can remember, although I did meet him) who did me up, complete with several facial wounds off the “Zombies’R’Us” prosthetic molds.

Matt: Tell Us About The Scenes You Were In And Did You Get To Share The Screen With The Stars?

Geoff: Nope, no screen-shares for me. Day One umpire zombie shot scenes of the devouring of Steele, which show up late in the film. Umpire dude appears in the back right of two quick floor level shots with action in center frame. Of course, a lot more takes and angles were shot than appear in the film, including a close-up of me trying to jam a bloody bone through my mask. Boy, I’d love to have the raw footage from that night’s shoot!

Day Two was scenes of the break-in to the complex after Steele shoots open the door, so my guy shows up in the panning shot of the horde swarming in. I also did background for the sequence with Rhodes slamming a zombie off his golf cart, but I’ve never found him onscreen, even with careful freeze-framing. I was there, nonetheless. I was also a part of the crowd entering Steele’s death room, but didn’t make the final cut, despite another close-up in which Romero directed me to create a momentary bottleneck in the doorway. Such is the fate of an extra, even dead ones. So, I never got to work with any of the leads, although I was privileged to watch Joe Pilato, Gary Klar, and Taso Stavrakis (as a stunt zombie) do their thing. I don’t recall seeing any of the other actors while I was there, though I could just be forgetting that, since it’s not like they go around being introduced to the extras, and I would have been far too reserved/shy to approach them.

Matt: What Do You See The Fate Of Your Zombie Being After The Events Of The Film?

Geoff: Ha, ha! Pretty sad for them, eh? Stuck in that underground facility with the only way out going up the ladder after the escaping humans. And given that umpire dude was busy chowing down while Sara’s group was busy escaping, it’s not likely he ever made his way back into the cavern and up that ladder. I figure he just ended up wandering around until maybe he found a baseball somewhere and then sat down and bounced it off a wall until he rotted away. Same fate for my collar zombie, too, minus the baseball entertainment. I’d have to say that most if not the entirety of that horde eventually just fell apart, likely in pitch black after the power went out. Good thing they were already dead; what a way to go!

Matt: Thanks Geoff for sharing your memories with me again and my readers!

Geoff Burkman is a class act and has and always will be a great friend to me. I also really like the fact that Geoff enjoys horror films as well as comic books and music, and this is why I think we get along so well. Looking at all my friends I must say I have some very creative people in my life from movie makers, Actors, Comic Artists, Pro Wrestlers, Musicians, Painters, Models, Freakshow Performers, Horror Hosts, Tattoo Artist, Radio DJs, Book Authors, Clothing Designers, Beard Competition Winners, Craft Makers, Store Owners, Photographers and so many others who all do creative things! And I must say I value each of my friendships as each person makes my life better. So thanks again Geoff for taking your time and to answer 5 Questions for my readers and me. Below is a picture of the icon George A. Romero and tons of zombie extras.

As a longtime comic book reader, I was super hyped when I discovered a cool comic book company called Dead Dog Comics in around 2004 that kept showing up at Cinema Wasteland when I was a vendor there with Independent B Movie and later Andy Copp as this company was making high quality horror comics that were original and others based on movies, I would buy first thing and read them once back at the hotel and after dinner. The first comic I got from them was Night Of The Living Dead: Barbara’s Zombie Chronicles # 1 and I was hooked and even when returning home added all their comics I could to my Mavericks Cards and Comics pull list. I would also chat with the creators and owners of Dead Dog Comics while at Wasteland, and they would tell me what was coming up and listen to my ideas of what horror films should be comics as they clearly loved what they made and created. Sadly they closed shop in roughly 2007 and the void they left would not be filled for me until 2016 when Eibon Press was unleashed on the comic reading market. One of Dead Dog’s final releases was the comic we are about to review based on Day Of The Dead. I can remember being so hyped when I picked up this copy from Cinema Wasteland and was not disappointed when I read it then and can’t wait to see if it holds up! The downside is that this series was supposed to be a 3 issue mini series but only had one issue released before they went under. So as we travel even deeper underground to get away from the zombies I can hear this echo “Remember 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, its art and story.” So with that, let’s see how well this comic holds up to my memories and how well it does justice to my favorite zombie film of all time.

Day Of The Dead: The Rising Of Bub # 1 ***
Released in 2007 Cover Price $4.95 Dead Dog Comics # 1 of 3

Joe, his wife Anne, and a whole apartment filled of survivors hear the call from army soldier Miguel in the streets of Florida and try to get everyone together quickly in order to be saved, but an accident leaves one of their members dead and the opportunity to be saved lost. The survivors’ morale is down as they all meet up and try and figure out where the helicopter came from and who is manning it. The survivors group is made up of all types of people from young to old and locals and vacationers all who give their ideas about where the base is that holds their saviors, but it’s Norman who looks beyond the big airfields and finds a location that he thinks is the perfect place for them to be at. The next morning the adults meet at Norman’s garage and find that his plan is to use a push car called The Phalanx to get to the local jeep dealership in order to hot wire them and get them to the target location, and before they can decide if the idea will work over breakfast they are interrupted by Kat and her boyfriend who inform Joe that Anne has killed herself. While all this is going on the zombies are gathering and Bub is now free and leading a group of the undead.

This is Walking Dead and Land Of The Dead mixed as this focuses on a group of survivors who are held up in a apartment building in Florida who want so badly to be saved and think that if they can get to the base that Rhodes and his men are at that, they can be saved and are doing all they can to come up with an idea to reach their safe zone that they are unaware has been overrun by zombies. Joe is the “leader” of the survivors as it’s clear he is the one with the level head and breaks up fights and tries his best to keep the peace among his people. He also tries his best to keep an eye on his lady Anne and his daughter Kat who are also suck in this world of the undead. Norman and the rest of the group are all good people that are trying not to snap in the bad situation that they are in and tempers do get short as they all think they know what’s good for an escape. The zombies are everywhere and are hungry for human flesh and even Dr. Tongue is on the prowl looking for a quick meal. Bub is around but only shown in one panel as he is leading a group of zombies around underground and makes you wonder how angry he is. This is a great issue as it builds up our survivors and shows that they are desperate to find help and are stuck in a bad way as the world around them is filled with the undead.  The only major downside is that while Bub and the zombies are around, they are very much second thoughts and are the cause of the whole drama but only really get to eat one person for the whole issue. I would have liked to have seen more of Bub and do realize that issues 2 and 3 would have shown him more, but still a little sad all we got is one panel in this issue. The cover is great and shows a mad looking Bub in the underground.  The interior art is done by Jeff Zornow and is fantastic stuff and captures a good zombie comic feel. Over all this very much held up for me, and I enjoyed reading it in 2017 just as much as I did in 2007…wow that’s been 10 years! Fans of the film will enjoy this issue even if it’s not as dark as the film, and I hope that Dead Dog Comics comes back and delivers more comics based on cool horror films.  All I can say is come on, Chazz DeMoss, make this happen! Check out this cool art below to see what style this comic delivers.

So the day has ended, and we have survived another zombie invasion as well as another Monster Bash vacation.  I for one can’t wait to go back to Cranberry again next year and do it all over again! So with this we are leaving zombies behind and once more stepping back into the world of Pro Wrestling as we take a look at Chyna and the Chaos! comics based on her. So until next time, enjoy the rest of this summer, read a comic or three, watch a Romero film or two and as always support your local Horror Host! So see you in the ring, my readers and friends!

Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family

Hey friends and readers! As you can see I am a little behind here at Rotten Ink as I have moved!! That’s right I have a new home base and sadly my comic collection is all over the place.  This has made it impossible for me to find the comics I need! So I’m sad to say that The Mummy has been put on the back burner until I can find it, and to hold you over, I will use a fill in update.  So sit back and enjoy this write up I did a few years back. I should note that this was to start off a update series called Made For TV that would have had me talking about all the movies made for the small screen I grew up watching, so sit back and enjoy this “lost” update as I have more unpacking to do!

Welcome back fellow Comic readers.  For this update, I decided to take a break from the ink filled comic pages and instead took a look at a made for TV reunion special. In 1977, NBC decided that after 9 years off the air, the world needed a Halloween special with The Addams Family! This special, simply named “Halloween With The New Addams Family,” would act as a reunion for the cast as all but one original cast member stepped back into their cooky outfits and hammed it up for the viewers. The only original actor not to appear was Blossom Rock, who played Grandmama, as she has very ill at the time so actress Jane Rose stepped in to fill the role. I first saw this special on a VHS that was put out via Goodtimes Video that I bought for cheap from the secondhand store called Replay Media.  After the first watch, I was not super impressed but did enjoy the over all silly nature. In 2014, I decided to watch this special again and while it has never made it to DVD, I was able to get a copy on DVD-R to watch again and bring you this update that I am calling “Made For TV: Halloween With The New Addams Family”, so sit back and enjoy this look at a true gem of television.

The first really cool thing that one will notice when finding this special on VHS or DVD-R is the fact that the cast from the classic spooky TV show is back, and while older, most of them don’t seem to miss a beat. John Astin plays Gomez Addams and is still terrific in the role as he does all his classic faces from when he’s sad to when his wife speaks French to him and his eyes bug out.  Astin is one of my favorite TV actors and truly doesn’t miss a step in the ’77 special proving he was born to play this part! Carolyn Jones plays Morticia Addams and is also terrific in her performance and is as deadpan and sexy as ever. Between her, Yvonne De Carlo (Lily Munster) and Elvira Mistress of the Dark, they are the reason I grew up loving Goth girls. While it’s clear she is older in this special, she still holds that magnetic charm and appeal not only with her appearance but also with her acting. Jackie Coogan returns as Uncle Fester, and while great in what he does, to me it seems as if his character takes a backseat and is not given anything to make him the stand out character he truly is. Ted Cassidy rocks it once more as the butler Lurch and like the rest thus far doesn’t miss a step in his performance and delivers all the deep voiced grunts and lines fans would want to hear. Felix Silla returns as Cousin Itt and is what you would expect from a character that doesn’t talk and his sounds are added in after it filming. Lisa Loring plays Wednesday Addams again, and she does a great job and hams up her performance making it feel like your watching an episode of the Banana Splits.  I must say she grew up to be a very pretty young lady. Ken Weatherwax plays Pugsley Addams, and while it was nice to see him in the role again, he was not a very good actor in this special, and it almost seems like he knows he’s being too cheesy by the smiles on his face. The rest of the cast as new to the legacy of The Addams Family so I will rush through them as this is the only thing they did for this series: Henry Darrow plays Pancho Addams who is the younger brother to Gomez and is really good and his performance is a more sleazy version of Astin’s Gomez. Jane Rose takes over the role of Grandmama and while she tries, she just ain’t no Blossom Rock, as she seems to be missing something that makes her the lovable creepy character from the show. The rest of the cast all do a great job and all add the right amount of silly and hammy to their performances.

Made for TV Movies that acted as reunions for shows were not uncommon and many shows did this such as The Brady Bunch, Saved By The Bell, The Incredible Hulk and Dukes of Hazzard, to name a few. Many times they were made for cheap and to cash in on the remaining fan base who wanted to catch up with their favorite characters, while other times they acted as a way to pitch a return series to see if a fan base was still willing to watch a show’s return to TV. The TV Reunion movie had been a thing of the past when I first rewatched this special, but recently, we’re seeing TV reunions in the form of special event seasons of shows like Gilmore Girls, The X-Files, and very excitingly just announced, Roseanne. Below I am going to talk about the plot of this special and then after that my thoughts on it.  So let’s turn on the boob tube and enjoy this 1977 flashback.

Halloween With The New Addams Family
Starring – John Astin & Carolyn Jones       DVD-R        Not Rated         1977

The Addams Family is having a Halloween Party for family only, but Gomez has to leave town in order to become a higher-ranking member of his club. But in town is Pancho, his brother who has a crush on Morticia and is trying to take over the Addams home! Also around at the Addams Mansion are Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior younger kids of the Addams, Uncle Fester, Thing, Lurch and Grandmama all helping out to get the party just right for the family reunion Halloween party. Meanwhile a gang of thugs have the mansion bugged and want to steal the family fortune while Gomez is away, even going so far as to send one of their own into the Addams home to get a look around acting as an inspector. This con man watches as Wednesday and Pugsley return home, each with new careers as Pugsley is now a Witch Doctor and Wednesday studies and plays music.  He also watches as the spirits of the deceased members of the family make noises from their graves, their pet lion attacks him for stepping on it’s tail and even is attacked by a plant! The con man escapes and returns to home base ranting out of his mind and quits the team, but this does not stop the others from going through with their plan to steal the fortune.

This special was clearly made to try and help usher in a New Addams Family TV series, but I think by 1977 and making it in color some of the charm of what the series was about, poking fun at society and classic cheesy black and white horror films of that time, was lost. But with this said, this made for TV special also has a lot of charm and captures the feel of late 70’s programs with the laugh track that seems like it was taken from Scooby-Doo cartoons to all the lame and dated jokes. I loved the updated sets with the cemetery backyard being really cool as is the new and improved mansion. One thing that makes this movie interesting as well is the fact they added two new kids to the family and named them Wednesday Junior and Pugsley Junior showing that if a new series was to be made they would still capture the kid characters with these two new brats, and the original kids would be reduced to cameos from time to time. Speaking of the older kids, I must say that Lisa Loring as the grown up Wednesday was stunning and in one scene she is dressed as a tennis player for Halloween and she is very attractive, plus it weird cause they have her playing a piccolo a lot in this film and at times it almost comes off sexual, but I was A-Ok with it. What made this cheesy made for TV film work is seeing all the classic characters together again on the screen.  I mean Lurch, Thing, Uncle Fester and all the other Addams clan have always felt like family to those who grew up watching them during first run or even reruns and while this reunion movie is flawed and not perfect, it’s still an amazing watch that offers lots of entertainment for fans who just love the Addams Family. So if you get the chance and find this on VHS, DVD-R or if a TV Station ever decides to play it again make sure to give it a watch as its filled with laughs, eye rolling moments and a classic 70’s feel.

Halloween With The New Addams Family is a forgotten gem of films made for TV and is one that’s mostly over looked in the history of chatting with friends about The Addams Family. So what I would like right now is for all you readers and friends to take a moment and let me know in the comments below if you remember watching this film? What were your memories and thoughts about it? How did you enjoy seeing the characters back? So go on and don’t be shy. Leave a comment below and share with me about Halloween With The New Addams Family!

We will be leaving the world of Made For TV Movies and moving away from The Addams Family.  Next we’re taking a look at the world of Horror Comics and my love for them as I revisit a comic series called Body Count that was released by Aircel at the start of the late 80’s. So I hope you had a great time with this update, and who knows, maybe I will do another update in the Made For TV series. So until next time read a comic or two, watch some TV and as always support your local Horror Host!