When Science Runs Amok! The Strange Case Of The Fly

Dang, Science you’re scary! Welcome to another countdown to Halloween update; this time around we are taking a look at a killer insect that will vomit on you and then eat you alive.  This creature is known as The Fly! Science is all around us and was one of my favorite subjects in school right behind history.  We are going to take a look at when science and horror clash and create an abomination to mankind. On July 23rd 2008, a group of friends were walking along Ditch Plains Beach in New York when they stumbled on the carcass of a deformed animal that had odd color skin, fur and a weird beak-like mouth. Many people thought that the creature was the body of a small dog, sea turtle, rodent or even a raccoon, but many believe that it was a freak of nature, something made at Plum Island, a place that is for science to contain and cure diseases that infect animals and could also infect people. This thing was called The Montauk Monster and made the rounds on all types of news sources making cryptozoology fans go crazy trying to figure out what this thing was! After this, more creatures were found washed up around New York, and the locals began talking about these Horrors of Plum Island! It was even reported that the body of a humanoid man had washed up on the beach and that it was one odd looking person with drill holes in its head and even had extra fingers. No one knows for sure if these creatures are real; only a few claim the story was true, but one thing’s for sure, cryptozoology is one fun thing to be a fan of!

The Montauk Monster

For my update for Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man and Batman vs. The Incredible Hulk, I wrote about horror hosts through the ages and talked about two 50- 60’s horror hosts I would love to see footage of.  One was The Great Zucchini of Supernatural Theatre, played by Bill Miller, and the second was an odd looking host named The Madman who hosted films in Des Moines, Iowa about whom very little is known. The update got some great attention, and I received lots of messages about the horror hosts I wrote about and praise for the quick history lessen on hosting.  A lot of people also commented about the sad passing of Don Paris, the actor who played The Shroud of Nightmare Theatre. But I didn’t get any responses about the two hosts above, and I would like to take a few moments once more to ask my readers for help to track down any footage of these two hosts! I am going to focus on The Madman for this one as he reminds me of a humanoid that could have been found on the Island of Dr. Moreau, and that ties into our subject of science running amuck. I have spent much time on the net using message boards, Facebook and Google to try and find out any information on The Madman and have come up nearly empty handed as all that’s out there is what’s on E-Gor’s Chamber Of Horror Hosts, amounting to very basic and not useful information and one little write up in an issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland that a fan of the show wrote many, many years back. Looking at the only known picture of this host makes me wonder what his style of hosting was like, did he try to scare viewers? Did he fill his show with puns and silly jokes? What did the character’s voice sound like? What was the name of his show? How many years did he last? What was his backstory? Who played him? Did he make public appearances? What station did he air on? So many questions with no answers on this host, and it’s heartbreaking that I may never find any of these answers as The Madman seems like a host that time forgot. The picture of Madman was summited by Don Hinson, who worked for a radio station in California at the time.  He had these words about his favorite host “Among the many Ghost Hosts of Terrorvision Films, such as Zacherley (natcherly), Vampira, ect., one that sticks out in my memory is The Madman of Des Moines, Iowa. I think your readers would appreciate a picture of him.” The issue of Famous Monsters this was in came out in 1960 and was issue # 6. So if you have any info, footage or press pics about The Madman, contact me. I would love to see them and share with my readers. Below is a picture of The Madman and here is hoping that footage will come to the light soon. On a side note, at work we ended up buying a bunch of horror and science fiction films with cut up front covers and some of the titles were good ones like Frankenstein’s Army, Toxic Avenger (Japanese Uncut Version) and Only Lovers Left Alive, to name a few. For some reason I decided to put them in a display box and call them “Madman’s Cheap As-Is DVDs” and used his only image on the sign I made for the box…man, I love the art of horror hosting.

The Mad Man of Des Moines Horror Host

It’s sad and shocking that so many of the world’s horror hosts are forgotten, and their footage and even press photos are just missing, tapped over and lost.  This is something that one day I hope I can help with and make a vault and library that is dedicated to hosts from all over the world to save their episodes and allow fans to relive and discover a horror host of their choosing. But that is just a dream for now as I am sure that I would need lots of help to pull this off and make this dream a reality. It’s time now to move away from horror hosting and take a look at the original Fly movies before we can get into the film series that sparked this comic mini series.

The Fly 1958 1The Fly 1958 2The Fly 1958 3

In the 1950’s, horror films changed from Dracula to atomic age monsters, and in 1958, a movie was made called “The Fly” that was directed by Kurt Neumann and starred the likes of David Hedison, Patricia Owens and Vincent Price and follows a doctor who uses a teleportation device that backfires when a fly enters with him and changes him into a half human and half fly creature.  He must hurry to find a way to cure himself before his mind goes the way of the fly! The film sparked a sequel in 1959 called “Return of The Fly” that follows the original doctor’s son and brother trying to pick up the experiment when once more things go wrong and the son is turned into a Fly monster. In 1965, a third film was made called “Curse of The Fly” that follows yet another son and his sons making the same mistakes that were made in the past. These films are considered a great and fun trilogy of films, and the original is well respected and sparked that dreaded word “Remake.”  But as you soon will see, this time the remake is as good, if not better, than the original! I don’t want to spend too much time on these original films as they are not what this comic series is based on, but out of respect they should be talked about.

The Fly 1986 1The Fly 1986 PosterThe Fly 1986 2

In 1986, David Cronenberg made a remake of The Fly.  It was more terrifying and ramped up the special effects 100% to shock and terrify the viewing audience. The film follows Seth Brundle, a scientist who is trying to impress a sexy journalist named Veronica with his matter transportation experiment that uses pods to transport one thing to another pod.  When he uses it on himself, an accident happens when a fly enters the pod with him and their genes mix, and over time Seth becomes more and more like a human fly! In the end, Seth loses control, becoming a full Fly creature, and is killed before a cure can be found. The film stars Jeff Goldblum as Seth and Geena Davis as Veronica. This film has so much more to it, but I wanted to just whet your appetite because if you have not seen it, you should do so right after reading this update! In 1986, The Fly was # 23 at the US box office and brought in a total of $40,456,565.00 for Fox and beat out such films as Three Amigos, Little Shop Of Horrors, House, Friday The 13th Part VI: Jason Lives, Howard The Duck, Legend, Psycho III, Critters, Labyrinth, Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2, Haunted Honeymoon and Big Trouble In Little China to name a few. While not a mega hit, The Fly remake made a impact on horror fans and showed that remakes could be great if done well.

The Fly II 1The Fly II PosterThe Fly II 2

Fox couldn’t leave well enough alone, and in 1989 decided to make a sequel to The Fly simply called The Fly II. This film follows Martin, the son of Seth Brundle and Veronica Quaite, who is orphaned after birth.  He was born in a cocoon, which kills his mother who dies of shock. Anton Bartok, the man who financed the experiment that started this mess, decides that he wants to exploit Martin’s odd genes, and this leads to mayhem, backstabbing and murder! During this time Martin falls in love with Beth, and the two find a way to transfer the fly genes into Anton as Martin has become infected and is transforming like his father before him.  This was his only way to become normal. This film has lots more to the plot, but I wanted to sum it up so you at least get the basics. The film stars Eric Stoltz as Martin, Daphne Zuniga as Beth and Lee Richardson as Anton Bartok. In 1989, The Fly II was # 54 at the US Box Office and brought in a total of $20,021,322.00 for Fox beating out such films as Prancer, Shocker, No Holds Barred, Friday The 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan, Great Balls Of Fire, Halloween 5, Cyborg, UHF, Fright Night II, Toxic Avenger Part II and The Wizard, to name a few. This sequel slipped at the boxoffice and was not as well loved by horror fans.

A Fly

W.A.S.P. is a band I have followed for many years. I can remember being so annoyed when I was a teenager and was never able to just go into CD Connection (a one time local music chain) and pick up their new album without having to special order it. Or worse is when I was trying to find some of their older albums on cassette and it was as if none of the CD shops around here knew what band I was talking about.  None of them could get them in stock as they were out of print. But I must say I really loved shopping at CD Connection and almost all the staff knew me and my taste in music. I miss that place, and shopping for music just is not the same as almost all the music stores in Dayton have shut down or only deal in vinyl. W.A.S.P. is a hair metal band from the 80’s who captured my attention when, as a youngster, I got their self-titled album on vinyl form Renaissance Music.  The image on the front cover was of lead singer Blackie Lawless and the band sitting on a set that looked like a hell filled with torture! I popped that vinyl on the turntable and my head was blown by just how amazing the whole record was. I soon bought more of their stuff on vinyl, cassette and CD and also enjoyed them in the low budget film Dungeon Master as well as the song they did for Ghoulies II called “Scream Until You Like It.” W.A.S.P. quickly became on of my favorite bands alongside the likes of Motley Crue, Cinderella, Alice Cooper and Billy Idol. So when I heard they had a new CD coming out in 2015, I knew I had to hear it, as I have been a bad fan as of late and missed getting their last two releases…but I made up for it as I got them all now and decided to listen to them as I write this update!

W.A.S.P. band

So let me take a few moments and tell you about these rock n roll CD’s! First up is the 2007 release called Dominator that was an album based around the raw feelings of tragic events of September 11th and the war in Iraq that followed and shows that Blackie Lawless was watching the events with eyes wide open and wondering why bigger countries bully smaller ones. Tracks I liked off this CD include “Heaven’s Hung In Black,” a nice ballad with some rocking moments that has some powerful lyrics and has an epic W.A.S.P. song feel. Other tracks I really enjoyed were “Teacher” and “Heaven’s Hung In Black (Reprise);” both are at the top of the list of tracks on this release. I really enjoyed this CD as I feel like Blackie Lawless had something to say and he did so the only way he knew how and that’s make a album around his message.  It’s very cool album and was worth the listen and price I had to pay to get it. Next is 2009’s Babylon, a CD that for some reason went out of print pretty fast and by the time I got a copy it was $33.00! It shows if you’re a fan of a band, don’t wait to buy their CD as it could be here today and gone tomorrow when it comes to staying in print! This one was a pretty solid album and had some good tracks that showed Blackie still had some rock to share with listeners and at times it felt like classic W.A.S.P. and that is a great thing! Songs I liked included “Into The Fire,” a ballad of sorts that show cased Blackie’s writing and had a classic sound, and “Live To Die Another Day” is a really good track.  It’s heavy but not over done. On this CD they also cover the Chuck Berry song “Promised Land” and do a good job even if they do poke fun at Elvis at the end. While Babylon is nothing special and is a shadow of the stuff from the 80’s, it’s still a good CD with tracks that are worth rocking out to.  It’s also odd as it clearly shows the start of Blackie looking into religion as many songs are tied into Biblical events. For those who don’t know, he is now a born-again Christian, and that’s funny as this band was one of the most hated by Tipper Gore and her PMRC group who went on a witch hunt against music they felt was not acceptable. So these two were a nice way to wait for W.A.S.P.’s new CD, and once I get it, I will share my thoughts with you my friends and readers.  Until then, put on your favorite rock album and turn it up to 11 and bang your head!

W.A.S.P. Dominator cdW.A.S.P. Babylon CD

I am a huge fan of IDW Comics and have enjoyed many of their horror based comic series like Bigfoot, Motel Hell, Godzilla Legends and IT! Terror From Beyond Space, and I can’t tell you how hyped I was to hear about them making a mini series based on The Fly! So I am really looking forward to reading this series and seeing what they have come up with to continue the story of the Brindle curse and what gross murders will the Fly commit now that budget and special effects are not limited on the comic pages. I need to thank Mavericks Cards and Comics for pulling this series for my file, and I should also remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. So let’s get our safety goggles on, watch out for fly puke, and see what IDW has in store for us with this horror film inspired series.

The Fly Outbreak 1

The Fly: Outbreak # 1  **
Released in 2015   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   # 1 of 5

Dr. Martin Brundle, the son of Seth Brindle who was transformed into a human fly, is trying his best to cure Anton Bartok, a man who is now a glob of flesh after he was dragged into a Telepod by Martin who, like his father, was cursed with the genes of a fly.  By using Anton to cure himself, Martin left his one time employer a freak of science, but despite all his efforts thus far, he has failed to cure Anton. Martin is still with Beth, but the two are having some issues as Martin refuses to touch his lady without having safe sex.  He does not want to have a child as he fears it will be cursed to have fly symptoms. At the lab Anton turns from a blob of flesh into a full fledged Fly humanoid and kills some workers.  Eventually he comes face to face with Martin and acts as if he is his own son! As Martin tries to get away from The Fly, security shows up, kills The Fly and then informs everyone that they are under quarantine until further notice and that includes Martin!

Sadly, I am not really impressed with this first issue of the comic as I feel that the story is bland and tied so much into The Fly 2 that you would have to know those characters inside and out to keep up with the who’s who and why’s that. That said, the plot of issue one follows Dr. Martin Brundle who is trying to help Anton Bartok be cured of the transformation that he is responsible for.  When Anton turns full fly and runs amuck in the research building, anyone who has made contact with it must be quarantined and that’s where it ends. Dr. Martin Brundle, who is the comic’s main focus, is a man who is plagued with a curse of his father’s past and is fearful of having children as he don’t want them born with traits of a fly. Anton Bartok starts the issue off as a blob of gooey flesh and is later turned into a fly that kills a few people and after his death makes it so all have to be tested for contamination. Beth Logan is Martin’s girlfriend who wants a child and to have affection shown to her, but she also shows understanding to Martin’s odd behavior. The comic has some bloodshed in it as The Bartok Fly pukes on a face of a fellow worker and eats him! But the over all gore in the comic is pretty tame and not nearly as gross as the films it’s based on.  That’s a little of a letdown as I was sure IDW would have delivered the red stuff like they did with Motel Hell. The art in this comic is done by Menton3, and while his humans look like the actors who played them in The Fly II, his fly creature and backgrounds are not very appealing to this comic reader and took me out of the feel of dread that I should have been having while reading. I am really hoping that the second issue gets better and The Fly becomes the terrible puke spewing menace that I was hoping for.

The Fly Outbreak 2

The Fly: Outbreak # 2  **
Released in 2015   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   # 2 of 5

Martin Brundle is in quarantine and is chatting with his wife Beth via a work computer.  As they are talking, he hangs up on her quickly as he is visited by Major Vurvin and Dr. Mayweather, who are checking in on his progress to find a cure or to even see if he has been infected.  He chases them off and says he needs zero interruptions if he is to find a cure. Martin can hear all the people around him blaming him for being stuck with no outside contact to the world, and his only friend is his female lab assistant Noelani who believes that he can find a cure and asks him about the sickness, how it spreads and the symptoms that include being sexually ramped up and anger that is out of control and can be passed via having sex! In this quarantine zone, people are doing just that and some of his co-workers are clearly infected and are being beaten, tazzed and taken away by hazmat suited guards. In the end Martin is talking to Beth who wants to put on a one woman show for him when Noelani enters and tries to rape her boss as she is clearly infected. Martin uses all his wit and knocks her out and tells his wife that he can no longer chat with her as he must now buckle down and find the cure.

Did the second issue get any better?  Sadly, no. I feel that the second issue was slightly boring with very little going on besides Martin telling how the fly infection spreads and the effects it has on a person.  And he spends a lot of time chatting via webcam with his wife, Beth. The thin plot of this issue has Martin in quarantine working on a cure if any of them are infected.  His one time co-workers are super pissed off at him, and his assistant tries to rape him when her feelings and emotions are ramped up because she’s infected.  After beating her down, he tells his wife they can’t chat anymore because he needs to get cracking on the cure. The only action that happens in this issue is when a security guard who’s infected goes nuts and tries to smash Martin with a row of cafeteria tables, and for this violent outburst he is shocked with a tazer. This issue is bloodless and has really no thrills, chills or spills and for the most part, a pretty boring fill-in style issue. No blood and or Fly attacks are to be seen. In this issue, Martin seems like a blank emotionless slate who is cold and uncaring towards all the people his own mistake has infected and made it so they cannot speak to their own families as he sneaks and does so.  In other words, he’s kind of a jerk. Beth still loves her cold husband and for some reason is so sexually ramped up, even wanting to video chat while she puts on a show for him, that it makes you wonder if she is infected with the fly genes.  In fact, why are they turning her into a woman whose main thought is sex? Noelani is a good character who is loyal to her boss, even if he is the one who started the whole mess at the lab, but sadly in this issue they had to also turn her into a sex crazed infected freak who loves Martin. I just don’t get it; almost every female in this series is drooling over Martin! While I am sure that this issue was just a fill-in issue to build up the story, it just lacks anything interesting to make me really excited to see how it all plays out and drags a series that already I was lukewarm about even further down the must read list. Menton3 is once more doing the art, and once more his style is bland and lackluster with some of the humans looking good and his background weak and blank feeling. I can say that I am really not a fan of his art! So to sum it up, this issue is such a throwaway and forgettable so let’s waste no more time on it and move on to issue three.

The Fly Outbreak 3

The Fly: Outbreak # 3  *1/2
Released in 2015   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   # 3 of 5

Martin is hard at work to try and find a cure for all his co-workers that he infected, and with the help of some medication, he is able to bring his assistant Noelani back to semi-normal. Days pass and increasingly the infected start to mutate and become more fly-like. The army is mad at Martin, and they view him as a mad scientist and a failure at life in general as his cure does not work and his research to find one is filled with impossible solutions and dead end trails. The army and fellow scientist, who wear hazmat suits, all begin to turn on Martin as they feel he has not come up with a cure itself nor a logical way to cure the people who are infected. By the end Noelani as well as all the others who are infected turn into full fledged fly monsters and attack the army, and Beth comes to the aid of Martin as she has been watching the building waiting to chat with her husband. The Fly Monsters are loose and heading away from the building as Martin and Beth look on scared and powerless.

Just when I thought this series could not get any worse, this third and boring issue proves me wrong! This issue’s plot follows Martin as he fails at finding a cure for people he has infected, all the while talking to himself like a mad man, coming up with boneheaded ideas and feeling sorry for himself. Martin is just not a likable character, and by this point in the series, I want to see bad things happen to him, but somehow he comes out injury free as many others die and transform…while he cries…I really dislike this character. Noelani, who comes back to normal for a short time, sadly by the end of the issue turns into a fly, and here is hoping she will target Martin and eat his face off by the last issue. For some reason by the end of this issue Beth has broken into the quarantine area with a giant gun and is there to rescue her husband.  Why is she Rambo all of a sudden? The army looks at Martin as a screw up and points out that he and his father have killed many innocent people by doing experiments that were not safely tested.  And that sums up Martin, a spoiled brat who wants to play scientist. This issue also has no bloodshed and by all accounts is pretty boring and only acts as mostly filer until the Flys break free at the very end. There’s not much more to say besides this issue is the worst so far, and besides Menton3’s artwork once more being bland, this issue’s write up is over.  Let’s move onto issue 4 and hope this series picks up!

The Fly Outbreak 4

The Fly: Outbreak # 4  **1/2
Released in 2015   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   # 4 of 5

Beth and Martin are trying to escape the island as human flies and the army are at war, killing each other.  Beth even has to take a human fly life to prevent it from stealing their only escape a boat. Martin tells Beth that he cannot leave and has to stay behind to see if he can find a cure and stop all the killings.  She of course is not going to leave and is willing to help if she can. As the couple discuss what they are going to do, Noelani as a fly dressed as a solider appears and begs Martin to let her go or cure her and threatens both he and Beth with torture and murder. Finally Martin gives in and decides the only answer is for he and Noelani to use the pods so his human genes can transfer into her and cure her of this curse. Beth tries to rush the now human Noelani out of the room as Martin now emerges as The Fly!

Finally by the fourth issue, the series has a pretty good one that has 0% Horror, 1% action and the other 99% is drama, but weirdly, it works. The story of this issue has Beth and Martin coming to terms with how weird their relationship is and even if they don’t spend a bunch of time together, it works for them as they truly do love each other.  It then switches to Martin giving away his humanity to save his assistant Noelani’s life as he turns her human and he once more becomes the thing he fears worst, The Fly. The more I look at Martin and his Fly alter ego, I am starting to see a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde connection as the human side’s main fear is the monster it turns into. While Martin is still whiney, in this issue he does take a stand and puts others’ wellbeing before himself and that to me is a big step for the character as I felt he has been a selfish a-hole this far in this series. Beth, who is a loving woman, for some reason turns into Chuck Norris and is ready to kill human flies! Noelani, who turns into a fly, wants to become human again and points out just how lame and selfish Martin is.  This speech as well as a gun is what forces Martin to use himself to save her from a fly fate. While this issue is better than the others so far, it’s still by no means a great issue but does show that this series has the potential of being a good horror comic and could end on a high note with an amazing blow out in the final issue. The art is once more done by Menton3 and looks the same as always with his style being pretty to look at but not working for the nature of this series as his flies even look more alien-like and not housefly-like. Over all this is an okay issue, and I must say I am really happy we are at the final issue of this disappointing series.

The Fly Outbreak 5

The Fly: Outbreak # 5  **
Released in 2015   Cover Price $3.99   IDW   # 5 of 5

The Fly Martin emerges and is very pissed off at Noelani for threatening Beth earlier and lets her know it, as he is about to kill her.  He snaps back to reality and goes outside and kills human and Fly spawn alike and returns with a plan to transform Beth into the Queen to his lord of the Flies. Beth tricks and locks Martin Fly in a pod and tries to sacrifice herself to save him life and turns into a Fly Goddess.  She is in turn shot in the head and killed by Noelani who enters the pod with Martin, who is back to being a man and tells her she is going to do great things. Flash forward a few years, Noelani is a head scientist now and it’s shown she in secret is keeping Martin Fly alive and well.

The first thing that came to mind when I finished this issue was “I waited five issues for this ending?!” It seemed like a rushed mess with a ho hum closing that was not a shocker nor entertaining.  What should have been an epic Fly moment turns into something bland and boring. The issue’s plot can be summed up like this: Martin as the fly goes and kills, comes back is tricked.  His girl Beth uses herself to try and cure him and dies.  He turns human kind of, and Noelani becomes a big deal in the world of science in the end. It was such a major letdown because when I heard about this series, I was so hyped as I love comic connected to horror films and also love the work IDW has done with similar titles like Motel Hell, IT! Terror From Beyond Space and Godzilla.  While those were good and had a charm to them, this one sadly didn’t and was a very slow and boring series. Martin Brundle for the most part is not a likable character as his self-centered and ego driven attitude makes him come off as a jerk and for the most part his needs and wants outweigh the good of others till the end. As The Fly, he seems to at least have a more level head.  Even when he is killing man and fellow flies, he seems more in touch with the situation. Throughout the series, Beth goes from loving horny spouse to a Rambo gun-caring tough girl, all the way to a Fly Goddess, and with all these changes I think she is one of my favorite characters as she grows and does everything for love. Noelani is pretty cool and does her best to try and stay positive even when her boss is the jackass who infected her and co-workers by being careless. In the end Noelani is also the only one who gets a happy ending as she goes on to be a successful scientist. Anton Bartok starts off as a glob of flesh and grows into a fly and is the start of the sickness as his blood and vomit is what infects everyone.  It’s funny that in the films he was a terrible person and even in this comic series he’s just as bad, even as a mutated freak he still causes issues. The artwork for the whole series was done by Menton3, and while it would be pretty to look at if it was just a single piece of art, as a comic it’s bland and not fitting for a series based on a sci-fi film that’s special effects were a major draw.  I mean The Fly in the film is scary and well detailed…in the comic, not so much, as it looks as generic and bland as possible. To sum up this series, I would have to say that I was really disappointed in it from story to art and while it was bad, I still enjoyed reading it and hoping that it would get better or at least have some wicked Fly kills…that’s another thing it lacked is blood and gore. While it had some, it was far and few. Check out this art from the series that shows what The Flies look like, and see if you agree that it looks more like an alien than the sci-fi icon the comic’s based on.

The Fly Outbreak art 1

While The Fly: Outbreak might not have been my cup of tea, it’s still very cool to see IDW take a chance with a mini series like this, and I hope they do more classic horror and science fiction comic crossovers in the future as films like It Follows and The Town That Dreaded Sundown are just waiting to have mini series based around them. Our next update gets us a step closer to October and even closer to our big Halloween update that should be a custom comic made by my friend Eric Shonborn just for Rotten Ink! But before we get into all that, our next update will trade in the giant Martin Fly for an unknown real life serial killer known as The Axeman of New Orleans.  So make sure to come back for that one. Until then, read a comic or three, watch a classic sci-fi film or two, and as always, support your local horror host.

The Axeman Of New Orleans logo

The Haunted Holiday Tomb Of Ligeia

Brrrr…it’s getting cold outside so why not throw another body on the fire and spend some time drinking hot chocolate with Dell Comics, Edgar Allen Poe and Vincent Price as we take a look at Tomb Of Ligeia. The holiday times are always so stressful and filled with the pressure of buying loved ones gifts, and if you work retail then you know as well as I do that work can be total hell no matter how much you like your job. So for me around this time, I love to sit back turn down the heat a little and crack a window open to let in the perfect amount of chill, then make myself a mug of hot chocolate and pop in a DVD of a horror host or horror film and relax on the couch and let the stress float away as I watch the horrors of what Hollywood have to offer or the zany humor of the host. One other thing that always is stressful around this time is driving on snow and ice covered roads.  I have a blue Chevy Cavalier that I nicknamed The Blue Demon who is too light and slides all over the place, making the drive to and from work not only interesting but also dangerous! The first and only car wreck I ever had was on a snow covered night as I crashed a coworker’s car into a pole by being young and dumb and driving too fast on a slick parking lot.  I am just glad that no one got hurt including myself. So to de-stress this update I figured why not also write about a horror film that was adapted to a comic by Dell, and then I figured why not one of the of Roger Corman’s Edgar Allen Poe films starring the horror legend Vincent Price! So with that combination I choose Tomb Of Ligeia, a very underrated film in Corman’s Poe Series. So let’s warm up and get less stressed and have some spooky good times with Mr. Price.

Santa Claushot chocolateSlumber Party Massacre DVD

Edgar Allen Poe was born in 1809 in Boston Massachusetts to two actors, but in 1810 when he was only one years old his father up and left his family and sadly a year later in 1811 his mother passed away leaving he and his older sibling orphans. Edgar was taken in by a family but never truly adapted were he spent his youth with a male father figure who was tight with money when it came to paying for Edgar’s collage education at the University Of Virginia. So he chose to drop out and inlist in the Army in 1827 and at this time also began writing such poems as Tamerlane. But after awhile he switched from poems to becoming a a literary critic and was known for his unique criticism on others works. In 1835 Edgar married his 13 year old cousin Virginia and 10 years later he wrote his most famous poem The Raven making him a success but sadly two years after it was published his wife passed away from tuberculosis. Over the years Edgar kept writing and wanted to release his own journal called The Penn but never was able to get it off the ground. On October 3rd 1849 Edgar Allen Poe was found wondering the streets of Baltimore in another persons cloths delirious and needing medical help, a stranger named Joseph W. Walker found him and took him to Washington Medical College for assistance, Edgar died a few days later on the 7th of Congestion Of The Brain tho many other causes of death have been talked about everything from Suicide to rabies and no one is for sure as over the years both his medical records and death certificate have gone missing. Edgar the who time never made sense in his ramblings as he was at deaths door and it’s said his last words was a name he shouted “ Reynolds” while others reported it was “Lord Help My Poor Soul”, very interesting words from a dying man. Many people think that Edgar also was a victim of Cooping a vicious 19th century act were citizens were forced to vote for a candidate over and over and by a gang of thugs on the politicians payroll who would force the person to drink and do drugs and go to the voting booth and vote for the same person over and over, they would even force the victim to wear disguises. In some cases after they got the votes they needed they would beat the victim and sometimes kill them, and this is what many believe happened to Edgar Allen Poe. After his death a fellow author named Rufus Wilmot Griswold wrote an obituary that was very mean spirited and showed through with true jealousy and a hatred for a man who’s work has lived on way past his death. Poe’s work is very iconic and is embraced not only by the Goth Culture but as well as many creative people from Roger Corman to The Simpsons creator Matt Groening. Here is to you Edgar Allan Poe and may your soul find rest and may your work forever entertain all those who read it.

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Vincent Leonard Price Jr. was born on May 27th 1911 in St. Louis Missouri and was the youngest of four children, his father was the President of the National Candy Company and his Grandfather Vincent Clarence Price was the inventor of “Dr. Price’s Baking Powder” and set the family up to have a big fortune. Vincent went to Yale and got a degree in History in 1933 that lead to him going to London to try and get his Masters in fine art but while there is were he fell in love with acting and theater. Vincent began acting in plays that lead to even work on “Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre”, but his break into films came in 1938 in the film “Service De Luxe” and he took other character actor roles, he also starred along side Boris Korloff in the 1939 Horror flick “Tower Of London” and in 1940 he starred in “The Invisible Man Returns” but made a splash in the film “Laura” in 1944. Many great roles followed in the Horror genre like “Shock (1946) “, “Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948)”, “House of Wax (1953)”, “The Fly (1958)”, “House On Haunted Hill (1958)”, “The Tingler (1959)”. “Return Of The Fly (1959)”, “The Bat (1959)” and then went on to be in many films based on the work of Edgar Allan Poe like “House of Usher (1960)”, Pit And The Pendulum (1961)”, “Tales Of Terror (1962)”, “The Raven (1963) and “The Masque Of The Red Death (1964)”. But this did not stop him from being in other films as well as other horror flicks like “Diary Of A Madman”, “Twice Told Tales”, “The Haunted Palace”, “The Comedy Of Terrors” and “Last Man On Earth”. In 1964 he played the lead role in the Poe based film “Tomb Of Ligeia” that is the topic of this December update, and through out the late 60’s he starred in other great horror films like “The House Of 1,000 Dolls”, “Witchfinder General” and Poe inspired flick “The Oblong Box”. But in the 70’s Vincent really turned up the chills with such films as “Scream And Scream Again”, “Cry Of The Banshee”, “The Abominable Dr. Phibes”, “Dr. Phibes Rises Again”, “Theatre Of Blood” and “Madhouse”. By the 80’s he was still getting many great Horror films to star in like “The Monster Club”, “House Of The Long Shadows”, “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”, “Bloodbath At The House Of Death”, “Terror In The Aisles”, “From A Whisper To A Scream”, “Dead Heat” and Tim Burton’s odd family flick “Edward Scissorhands”. But during his time Vincent also did some great TV work like playing Egghead on the 60’s Batman and roles in The Muppet Show, The Brady Bunch and The Bionic Woman to name a few. I remember him also doing the voice of Professor Ratigan in The Great Mouse Detective and also for his work on the album and movie Welcome To My Nightmare by Alice Cooper. Sadly the world lost Vincent Price in 1993 of lung cancer at the age of 83, many odd things have been written and spoke about Vincent Price and some things are for sure he loved art and his impact on the world of movie is major, so here is to you Vincent Price! This is just a brief look at Vincent Prices’s life and career if your looking for more make sure to read up on him, you’ll be glad you did.

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So Tomb Of Ligeia is the film adaptation that we will be taking a look at for this update done by Dell Comics and I would like to take the write up from what imdb has for it and then share my thoughts on the film. “Some years after having buried his beloved wife Ligea, Verden Fell meets and eventually marries the lovely Lady Rowena. Fell is something of a recluse, living in a small part of a now ruined Abbey with his manservant Kenrick as the only other occupant. He remains infatuated with his late wife and is convinced that she will return to him. While all goes well when first married, he returns to his odd behavior when they return to the Abbey from their honeymoon. The memories of Ligea continue to haunt him as well as her promise that she would never die.” So one late night in October I decided to watch this film pretty much for the first time, while I am pretty sure I seen it when I was a kid I truly only remembered bits and pieces so this watch was like seeing it for the first time all over again! The pacing is very much like your standard ghost horror film of the 60’s and the film is more shock horror then blood splattering. Vincent Price is great in the role of Verden Fell and while its not his best performance its a very solid one. If you haven’t seen the film and like the work of Price and films based on Poe stories then check it out.

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Tomb Of Ligeia has been released on many home viewing formats including VHS via HBO and on a double feature DVD from MGM, with the DVD its paired with “An Evening With Edgar Allen Poe” that also stars Vincent Price. Its on Laserdisc via Orion as well can be watched via instant streaming. So if your looking to watch the film there are many ways to do so.

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So many comic companies have made comics based on Vincent Price and his films, companies like Dell and Bluewater have done several but much like Night of The Demon and Curse Of The Cannibal Confederate there is another film that I feel that would and still could make a fun comic book and that film is called The Video Dead! The film is about a TV set that holds the spirits of zombie like monsters who come out of the TV and kill those they come in contact with, brother and sister Jeff and Zoe Blair are fixing up a house their parents bought and are delivered the cursed TV, and of course this is bad news for them as the Video Dead escape and target the neighborhood and even kidnaps Jeff’s new girlfriend! Their only help is a man named Joshua Daniels who has spent his life trying to find and kill the Video Dead. The film is a dark Horror Comedy were The Dead laugh their butts off as they murder people and they can be tricked into thinking they are dead again with simple arrows and other ways of killing a normal man. I first seen the film years back on the USA Network on their popular weekend show Saturday Night Nightmares, and was drawn in to the totally cheese story and the fun 80’s looking zombies. After seeing the film I was a fan and even had a nightmare about the wedding dressed chainsaw caring female zombie in the film, who was chasing me around the Waynesville house I lived in! The films woods scene also reminded me of the woods by our house that we played in, and my brother Bryan and I use to play the “What If” game and acted as if we wondered what if The Video Dead were waiting for us. The comic series could follow Mr. Joshua Daniels as he tracks down the cursed TV from town to town and has to kill and deal with all The Video Dead that have been left behind, but he also has to find out who is the person sending out the TV to people like a curse. So the comic could act as a prequel to the film and capture lots of the 80’s culture and attitude. This is one that IDW could have done during their MGM Midnight Movies Comic Line as MGM owns the film, if I could make the comic for this blog I would love to have Rachael Lare or Eric Shonborn on board for it cause both would do a fantastic job on bringing the zombies alive on paper. So here is hoping that one day The Video Dead will come alive in a comic book some way or another.

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Well lets place an extra log on the fire and top off the hot chocolate and dive into Dell Comics adaptation of this Edgar Allen Poe inspired film. Before we get to far though I want to remind everyone once again 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. I also want to think Mavericks for having this comic in stock when I bought it some years back. So with the winter nip in the air lets take a look at this spooky comic for this Holiday season.

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Tomb Of Ligeia  # 1  ***
Released in 1965   Cover Price .12   Dell Comics   #508 of ?

Verden Fell has to bury his wife Ligeia who he thinks is not truly dead, but in some sort of state of mind because she willed herself not to die therefore she is not dead. The townspeople want nothing to do with the funeral that even has a black cat leaping out of the fresh grave! While on a fox hunt Rowena Trevanion, her father Lord Trevanion and Christopher Gough are on horseback in the woods.  An accident leaves Rowena being thrown from her horse after she broke from the group and landing on the grave of Ligeia where she twists her ankle and meets Verden who she falls in love with, and later marries. But things are not well for Rowena as the black cat tries to hurt and kill her at every turn, and Verden himself is acting odd at night leaving her always alone. Christopher later finds out that his friend Rowena can’t be married to Verden as legally his wife is still alive due to the fact there is no death certificate! In the end Rowena finds a hidden staircase that leads to a room where Verden hangs out with the dead body of Ligeia, as Christopher digs up the grave of Ligeia and finds a wax dummy in the coffin! As Christopher gets to the room he finds that Rowena has “died” from blood loss as she cut her wrist on a broken mirror and when she comes to Verden strangles her.  As Christopher gets her body out of the house Verden comes face to face with the Black Cat as the room catches fire and both man and beast are burned alive. Oddly enough when the cat and Verden die, Rowena comes back to life.

First thing I need to point out is this comic had a great Rotten Ink smell and this helped add to the classic comic book reading experience. The comic adaptation of the film is pretty good but also could be a little confusing for younger readers as the plot is squeezed into pages and plots are not fleshed out like they should be. The story is this man loves his wife even after death.  She was a witch and placed a trance on him thinking that she would return from the grave, he falls in love with another woman later in life who looks like her and a war in his mind consumes him. Verden Fell is an interesting character who wears giant sun glasses during the day and is very secretive in nature.  We also learn that he can hypnotize people as well as sculpt with wax. While he does some bad things, he is clearly not a bad guy just a man who was in love and under a witches spell. The Spirit of Ligeia who also seems to poses the Black Cat is very mean and tries to murder several times in the issue, she truly is an evil witch. Rowena Trevanion is a lovely young woman who is drawn to the tormented Verden and wants to make him happy, but sadly is just a pawn in the game Ligeia is playing. Legal man Christopher Gough who is Rowena’s bestfriend is a man of action when he thinks his friend is in trouble and when things just don’t seem right with Verden; he truly is a classic horror comic/movie hero. Lord Trevanion is just a background player and the only other major player in this story is Verden’s servant Kenrick who in the end has all the answers of the spell on his master. The issue is bloodless and offers more spooky mood chills then monster thrills holding true to the movie it’s based on. I could not find who did the art but they did do a fantastic job and it has that Dell Comic charm. If you like the movie, like spooky old horror comics then I would say check out this adaptation comic for sure.

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So Tomb of Ligeia is a good horror comic that is packed with charm and a great rotten ink smell! But next update will be our Christmas Eve update, and last year we took a look at The Thundercats.  This year we will be looking at the Tim Burton Batman movie series and the DC Comic adaptations that followed, so you can say Rotten Ink will be having Batmania! So make sure to come back for that one but until then have a safe winter and make sure to read a comic or three, see you next update.

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Hammer Horror Halloween Hootenanny!

It’s Halloween, and I hope you have a bellyful of sweet treats and are ready to have some spooky fun with me here at Rotten Ink. Halloween has always been special to me, and I can remember looking forward to this holiday more than any other and loving the cool fall weather with the leaves on the ground and a chill in the air as my brother and I would dress up and have our pillow cases ready for some door to door begging for candy. In the early years, our Mom would of course go with us as our Dad would pass out candy at our house.  Then as we got older, we went on our own or with a group of friends. Those of you who grew up in a small town or even fellow Waynesville kids that grew up with me know how magical this holiday felt back in the day before all the rules and Stranger Danger took full effect…but wait we did have the Satanic Panic at that time but even that could not stop us from having a good time. One thing that I would love to do some Halloween soon is what I spoke about before, have friends like Josh Weinberg, Stephen Alexander, Garrison Kane, Dave Wean, Maurice Blurton, Henrique Couto, Juliet Fromholt and a few others and sit around a fire in the middle of the woods on a cold fall night and exchange spooky stories and real legends.  Now that would be a real fun time. So for the first Halloween day update, I decided that I would go all out and have a spooky kooky packed house of things to talk about from horror host Count Gregula who answered 5 Questions, all the way to a scary trip to old amusement park Fantasy Farm! But the main attraction will be my look at Hammer Films.  I will talk about some of the films and actors that made this English company an icon of horror. I will also be reading comics based on Hammer films at real haunted locations in and around Dayton.  But enough with this introduction, let’s get to the scary and weird stuff, shall we?

Count Gregula

To start things off, I figured we would take a look at Chicago horror host Count Gregula. In 1998, a Vampire attended a Halloween party held by horror host icon Svengoolie, and this inspired this cool ghoul into becoming a host himself.  After centuries being undead the option of showing cheesy horror films seemed like a great idea. In 2005 his first show called “Count Gregula’s Crypt” aired as he hosted the film Night Of The Living Dead.  After two episodes, the show took a break and came back on the air in 2007 when he hosted Missile To The Moon and would again take a small break until 2010 when he scared viewers once more by coming back to TV/DVD with the hosting of the films Grave Of The Vampire and Eegah. Count Gregula would go on to also interview celebrities on his Youtube account as well as guest on many other horror host shows. In 2011 he also starred in a film called The Giant Rubber Monster Movie where he was able to show his acting fangs. On his show Gregula is joined by his wife Countess Gregula, the Daughter of Satan, and The Children of The Night. The Gregula’s were also some of the first none Ohio hosts to fully support and stand beside Baron Von Porkchop as he started hosting movies with his show Terrifying Tales Of The Macabre. So now that you know a little about Gregula, let’s get to what I call ” 5 Questions With Count Gregula”!

Me: So tell me about your show, and that wicked cool theater you host your movies from in your crypt?

Gregula: Vell, ve host the good old classic horror movies that all of us grew up vith as little monsters. Only thing is that ve don’t have access to that theater anymore, but ve are planning on doing a live stage show version of COUNT GREGULA’S CRYPT in the near future! Keep checking my sites for further details.

Me: Very cool, live hosting is always fun. I have seen Dr. Creep and A. Ghastlee Ghoul host movies live and it’s been a real treat if your a horror host fan. So what horror hosts of the past inspired you to become a host yourself?

Gregula: Son of Svengoolie (a.k.a. Svengoolie) & Elvira!

Me: Both are so great and both are in the Horror Host Hall of Fame, proving how inspiring they were to viewers. So this is something I have always wanted to know: does drinking blood ever get old? And if the artificial blood like True Blood (from the HBO show of the same name) was real, would you drink it or stay with the fresh stuff?

Gregula: Drinking blood never gets old! Only the people I drink from get old. *vink* Oh, it has to be the fresh stuff! Nothing beats tapping a vein!

Me: No fake stuff for you.  I guess nothing does beat fresh on whatever your choice of drink is, well besides wine, the older the better. You travel around to many conventions of all types.  Who has been the one movie star you have been most hyped to meet and interview and what horror host as well?

Gregula: Finally interviewing Pat Priest (Marilyn Munster) of THE MUNSTERS made me the most hyped because I missed meeting her several years ago vhen I made the trip all the vay to Texas for a special Munster Masquerade that I vas invited to attend. I heard she vas too sick to make the trip there herself. I even mention about vaiting all these years to meet and interview her in my video and she seemed very pleased. Interviewing horror host Svengoolie vas my nightmare come true vithout a doubt!

Me: It’s always nice to meet a star you always have wanted to.  Sadly we are on our fifth question so I will ask something that my readers and I must know: who is the better Dracula: Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee?

Gregula: Bela Lugosi of corpse! He is the BEAST claws down!

Me: I am a Lugosi man myself, but I still have a hard time picking.  Both are so great as that character. So once more thanks for answering these five questions for us.

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Gregula is such a fun undead ghoul to be around and at one Horrorhound Baron Von Porkchop, Juliet and I went out to eat with him and the Countess and he was in his full vampire gear and made for one fun dinner. Also in the Dayton market on DATV during the HHU (Horror Host Underground) showcase that plays when Baron is off filming a new season, we from time to time show an episode or two of his show. If you want to learn more about Count Gregula and his Crypt you can also always check out his website www.count-gregula.com. I would also like to show off a cool piece of artwork that was done by my talented friend Justin Wasson of Count Gregula that was made for the upcoming comic idea I had called “Who’s Who of Late Night Horror Hosting”.

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Speaking of artwork, while listening to my friends Jason and Eric’s podcast Gutter Trash, I found out about some cool projects that could have been made into a comic book series and a TV show based on the classic Vincent Price Horror Film “The Abominable Dr. Phibes” done by comic book icon Jack Kirby that looks like it would have been called “The Sinister Dr. Phibes”! Yeah, so think about that, a comic drawn by Kirby that would have been a companion piece to a weekly TV show based around Phibes who according to gossip would have had him as a detective working for the good of mankind and not for his quest of revenge. Phibes is said to have use his masks and traps to capture criminals, and the issues were rumored to have came out via DC Comics. I can’t tell you how amazing this comic series would have been, and I for one would have gotten them and for sure they would have been used as an update on this very blog! Test artwork came to light when the original art went up for sale on Ebay and many say that it was Kirby’s nephew that was selling off much of the artwork.  With this Ebay auction also came questions and the guessing game to what it was drawn for and this is one big puzzle that has many internet “answers.”  What ever the reason it was drawn, it’s a sweet piece of artwork that I wish would have gotten a full comic series. Below is the original artwork as well as a colored version done by a fan and of course of pic of Price as Phibes.

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In the 1960’s and 70’s, a Bigfoot like creature frozen in a block of ice traveled around state fairs, carnivals, sideshows and shopping malls as an attraction of the macabre, and the creature was called The Minnesota Iceman. People all over America and Canada paid money to see this creature in the ice who had a back story told by the body’s owner Frank Hansen.  He said the Iceman was shot and killed in Siberia and that it’s true owner was a rich man who allowed him to travel around showing the creature off to all who want to pay and see it. Some people at the time thought that the Iceman could be a caveman, a person that time forgot who was shot and killed, while others thought it was a murder victim who was dressed up to look like a creature so that the killer could hide the body in plain sight. Bigfoot researchers back then have even examined the body and claimed that some of the creatures flesh could be touched via some melted ice and that it was 100% real and was proof that Bigfoot is real! The body even caused some panic at the Canadian border when officials would not allow it to cross because it was a cadaver, but after some smooth words Hansen was able to get it across. But in the late 1970’s the Iceman just vanished from the public eye and as quickly as it hit the sideshow scene it disappeared, causing many people to wonder what had happened to the evidence that Bigfoot was real. But like all things, not everyone believed that The Minnesota Iceman was real and many labeled it as a hoax claiming that it was nothing more than a prop to con people out of their money. Eyewitnesses and some photos of the creature showed it to be a hairy humanoid that stood about 6 feet tall and had a bullet wound to its eye, and many say that its arm appeared to be broken.  For many this sight was horrifying and chilled the bones of many customers. For years the Iceman was missing until this year (2013) when The Minnesota Iceman showed up….on… Ebay for sale! The listing blew the top off what the creature was and stated it was in fact a hoax and was crafted by a team that later went on to work for Disney. The Minnesota Iceman sold for an accepted offer to a man who plans on putting it on display in Texas.  This marks the end of what the Iceman was, fact or fiction and thanks to Ebay it’s been proven as a hoax. But while the body and freezer sold online, many think that the Ebay listing was the true hoax and that the real body of the iceman is still out there. Only time will tell what the true fate of the Iceman is and rest assured, I will be waiting to discover the truth. I should also say that I learned about the Iceman from a old book I checked out from the library in Waynesville and after seeing the creature’s picture I became obsessed with finding out all I could about it and spent many days reading about it.  Once the internet hit I would spend time trying to find info on where it was….sadly though the image and wonder of the Iceman is now shattered over an online auction for me.

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Wow, we have just gotten started and thus far we have talked about horror host Count Gregula, Jack Kirby’s could have been Dr. Phibes comic and hoax of The Minnesota Iceman, and yet we have so much more to come! So now I would like to talk to you about a moment in my life that scared that crap out of me.  While it was not a near death experience or a Halloween prank gone bad, it was a moment that has stuck with me for years. I was about 8 or 9 years old, and for summer vacation my parents took me and my brother to Fantasy Farm, an amusement park and petting zoo in Middletown, Ohio, a place that we would go every summer (that or Americana) to ride all the rides and pet and feed all the animals. Two events at Fantasy Farm always stick with me, and one is more traumatic for me than the other so let’s get to the less scary one first. As you long time readers know, I grew up as a monster kid and loved everything horror.  At Fantasy Farm, they had a haunted house ride with the side of the building was painted with images of Dracula, The Wolfman and Frankenstein’s Monster and I can remember taking my old camera out and snapping a picture (that I still have to this day and that I will post on here for you all to see) and before we went in I remember my brother Bryan teasing me about how scary the ride was going to be and how Frankenstein’s Monster was going to grab me. I acted like I was not scared, but to be honest I was terrified.  Back then I believed what my brother said and didn’t understand he was just teasing and having fun and adding to the horror of the haunted house ride. Bryan and my Dad were in one car, and my Mom and I were in the other.  I still was acting tough and as if the horrors that awaited me in the ride were nothing but pure cheese and nothing to be scared of.  All the while I was waiting for Frankenstein’s Monster to jump out and get me! As the ride started I had this idea that I would close my eyes, making it so that he could not find me in the dark.  I missed the ride but heard all the spooky sounds, and it just added to the fear that was building up in me.  At one point my Mom, not knowing that my brother said anything about him, said look it’s Frankenstein as the attraction had a cardboard version of The Monster and this triggerd the “this is the end” moment for me, but in seconds nothing happened and I opened my eyes as we approached the end of the ride and I remember a skeleton. After the ride my Dad and brother made fun of me for having my eyes closed but deep inside I was just happy to have not been taken away by The Monster! But the scare of Frankenstein’s Monster getting me was nothing compared to the terror that awaited me in the petting zoo! Besides monsters, I also love animals and one of the highlights of Fantasy Farm was always petting and feeding the animals.  It was always cool feeding goats corn that they would eat from your hand. But this one time we went into one of the barns that held the animals, and I spent time petting cows and other barn yard animals and in the last stall in the barn was a giant bison.  I mean he was huge and as I walked up to this massive animal he started to make this weird snorting and throat noise and he locked on staring at me.  I was scared yet I still walked forward and stuck my hand out to pet him, as my hand touched his face he let out a load snort and I jumped back at least 4 feet and was scared as this giant animal kept making noises.  Needless to say I got they hell out of dodge. The moment when that Bison snorted could have been one of the biggest scares I had ever gotten in my life. Sadly Fantasy Farm is gone, and it’s a shame as it was a place I would have loved to taken my future kids to.  I blame Kings Island for it’s departure. 

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By 1955 with the Universal Comedy film “Abbott and Costello Meet The Mummy,” the end of the classic monster movies based on Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein and The Mummy had came to an end.  By this time the classic monsters were not treated as scary but as jokes as the horrors of the real world and the coming atomic age seemed much scarier. But by 1958 with the release of Horror of Dracula, classic monsters were making a comeback and this time they were laced with blood and large breasted women.  The company responsible was English company Hammer who up to this point were known more for film noir movies. With the success of the film they found that making horror films was more profitable than noir and drama and started turning out films based on many classic monster to the delight of monster kids of the time. Hammer became so popular in in the UK that USA companies took notice as Paramount, Warner Brothers and even Universal started to release their films in theaters across America exposing even more fans to the blood soaked monster mayhem. Hammer was getting so popular in its home country that in 1976 a magazine called “House of Hammer” was released by Top Sellers.  The issue showcased Hammer stars and films as well as had comic book adaptations of their popular films. But like all good things, the classic monster film ride came to an end again as Hammer’s box office draw dwindled in 1979, and the company closed the production doors until 2007 when a new group came in and breathed life into the company once more and started making films again like Let Me In, The Woman in Black and The Resident. I grew up watching many of the Hammer Horror films, seeing many of them on Commander USA’S Groovie Movies and Super Scary Saturday and then later on VHS tapes. While I liked the Hammer versions of the classic monsters, I still feel Universal did them better, but that said, Hammer was and still is one of my favorite studios to make classic monster movies.  They added just the right amount of blood and sleaze to make the viewer think they are watching something they shouldn’t be, but at the same time they do so with such class you feel as if the budgets on these films were bigger than they were. I credit a lot of Hammer’s early film success to a director named Terrance Fisher who seemed to get the gothic feel and tones of these movies really well and was able to bring that dark and brooding feeling to the movie screens.  My friend Chris Workman is a huge Fisher fan and could teach a class at a college about the impact of Hammer films on the horror genre. If you love classic monster and have never seen a Hammer film, do yourself a favor and go watch one. I am sure you’ll become a fan just like I did.

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The biggest series in all of Hammers classic monster films was its Dracula series that had a total of 9 films that are as follows Horror of Dracula (1958), The Brides of Dracula (1960), Dracula: Price of Darkness (1966), Dracula Has Risen From The Grave (1968), Taste The Blood Of Dracula (1970), Scars of Dracula (1970), Dracula AD 1972 (1972), The Satanic Rites Of Dracula (1973) and ending with The Legend Of The 7 Golden Vampires (1974). In all but two of the films Count Dracula was played by Christopher Lee who grew to dislike and despise the character and films Hammer was making.  The rumor goes that he was forced to play the part when studio higher ups said basically that if he did not act as Dracula then a lot of people would be put out of work. As the films went on and Lee grew more bored with the scripts, rumors say that he refused to do the lines because he felt that they were all just so poorly written. But Christopher Lee made for an amazing Dracula and in moments he comes off super scary and in control whenever he’s on screen, making for the perfect vampire king.The two films that Lee did not play Dracula were Brides of Dracula, that in fact didn’t have Dracula at all in it, and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires where actor John Forbes-Robertson played Dracula. While Lee might have grown tired of his character, actor Peter Cushing seemed to enjoy playing the hero Van Helsing and played him a total of five times. In this series Dracula has been killed by stake in the heart, frozen in ice, sunlight and even captured in thorns, but after every death by the next film he would come back to life with the help of some numbskull or freak accident. My favorite film in the series has to be Horror of Dracula and my least would be Satanic Rites of Dracula as I feel by that time they were running out of ideas and putting Dracula again in modern times like they did in Dracula AD 1972 and it just lost its charm. Over all while Hammer’s Dracula films were great, the next series was my favorite!

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Before Dracula Hammer gave Frankenstein and his monster a try and made The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957 that was followed by a total of 6 sequels.  Unlike the classic Universal series their Frankenstein series focused on the Doctor and not the monster, as each movie had a new monster and the same Doctor almost always played by the amazing Peter Cushing, with Ralph Bates playing him in Horror of Frankenstein. The films in that series are as follows: The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969), The Horror of Frankenstein (1970) and Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell (1974). Baron Von Frankenstein in the Hammer films was a selfish man who did whatever he wanted in order to make his creations work, from murder to rape! Changing the focus of the movies and taking away the likable element of the Doctor allowed Hammer to make the characters their own. These are by far my favorite series done by Hammer with my favorite film being Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell and my lest favorite being Revenge of Frankenstein.  While a good film the “monster” in this film is the weakest. I recommend watching these films if you’re in the mood to watch some classic gothic horror with that touch of sleaze and blood.

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Besides Dracula and Frankenstein, Hammer did lots of other creatures of the night films! They have done films on vampires, mummies, a werewolf, zombies, devils and so much more, and each of them were well done on lower budgets and had just the right amount of horror to make them chill your blood on late night viewings. As the years passed, Hammer also added in more gore and nudity to try and spice up their films and compete with the boom of Grindhouse and shlock films that were filling up the theaters and drive-ins, and while it made the films more R-rated, the charm of the classic monsters had once more lost it’s appeal to movie going audiences.  This lead Hammer into trying many different monsters and ideas to stay on top of the growing horror market. I for one am glad that Hammer has risen out of the ashes in the past years and are backing making horror films that are solid shockers with time and passion put into each production. My favorite none Dracula/Frankenstein film has to be Curse of the Werewolf, and my lest favorite is, well, I can’t really think of one really! I know that one I have not seen that I really want to is The Gorgon, and I look forward to watching it on DVD or even VHS very soon. 

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Hammer is also a studio that helped create stars that almost every horror, sci-fi and just movie fans will know! First, we have Christopher Lee, an actor who for Hammer has played Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and even Sir Henry Baskerville (Hounds of Baskerville) and is known also to me for playing Count Dooku in Star Wars Episode II and III, Stefan Crosscoe in The Howling II, and Doctor Catheter in Gremlins 2: The New Batch among many other roles. Lee, who is 91 years old as of this year (2013) and has also been knighted, is the last remaining true icon of the the classic horror era. Peter Cushing was the true face of Hammer for me and during his amazing career with Hammer stared as Dr. Frankenstein, Van Helsing and even the Sheriff of Nottingham and is also know to me for playing Grand Moff Tarkin is Star Wars Episode IV, Arthur Grimsdyke in Tales From the Crypt, Professor Paul in Legend of the Werewolf and Baron Corofax in Land of the Minotaur. Cushing truly is one of my favorite actors, and sadly he passed away in 1994 at the age of 81. Oliver Reed is another great actor who got his acting chops sharpened in Hammer films with roles like the werewolf Leon Corledo in Curse of the Werewolf, Lord Melton in Sword of Sherwood Forest and a bouncer in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll to name a few and is also know to me for roles Dr. Hal Raglan in The Brood and Antonius Proximo in Gladiator. Reed was an actor who just seemed to have it and could play any role that he was given.  Sadly Reed passed away in 1999 at the age of 61. Lastly I would also like to mention David Prowse, who in the 70’s and 80’s was the Kane Hodder of his time and could rock a monster suit like it was his job..wait it was his job for Hammer.  He played The Monster in Horror of Frankenstein and The Monster from Hell in Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell, and even a Strongman in Vampire Circus. I also know him for Julian The Body Guard in A Clockwork Orange and Darth Vader in Star Wars Episodes IV-VI! Prowse is the man, and don’t let George Lucas tell you any different as the two seem to have had a falling out that has lead to Prowse being banned from official Star Wars gatherings. These are also only a drop in the hat of the talented actors, actresses and directors that worked for Hammer!

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Besides the blood and monsters, Hammer was also known for its lovely large chested actress who helped add to the gothic and gritty new legends being told about classic monsters. By this time films in the horror genre were changing, but they were still not using females as full eye candy.  Hammer figured a way out to get sexy yet talented actresses to star in films and have them showcase their acting talents as well as their massive cleavage! I remember growing up and seeing Hammer movies on TV or VHS and crushing on Hammer starlettes Madeline Smith and Yvonne Romain and being taken by their beauty. Smith drew me in with her amazing eyes and girl next door looks while Romain has the exotic beauty to her. Two of the most popular actresses that worked for them are Raquel Welch and Caroline Munro who both went on to be in bigger Hollywood productions. The women of Hammer are so popular and have made such a mark on fans that many books, magazine articles and conventions showcase them. Now I could spend all Halloween update talking about Madeline Smith and how sexy she is, but you are here to be spooked so let’s move on! And for those wonder Smith is the first picture and Romain is second. 

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So before I dive into the spooky world of Hammer Comics, I would also like to talk about a brief two-day long mini horror movie marathon I had at my apartment with Juliet that consisted of a handful of films and one horror host Halloween special! The first film of the night was the new Child’s Play movie called “The Curse of Chucky” where the killer doll comes back one last time to torment a wheelchair bound young lady and her family in a giant mansion. The film was a little slow paced but it was nice to see Chucky back. The second film was “Frankenstein’s Army,” a neat found footage film about Russian soldiers during World War II that stumble on Dr. Frankenstein who is making an army of monsters! Really cool creature designs, great gore effects and an original plot made this one a good watch. Juliet than wanted to watch “Baron Von Porkchop’s Terrifying Tales of the Macabre: Halloween 2012” episode were Baron and Melvin go trick or treating and have a run in with New Burlington’s Headless Horseman.  The film he is hosting is Werewolf of Ohio! I will say out of all of the specials we shot, this could be one of my favorites. “Razorback” was next, an Australian film based on a giant Razorback hog that is killing people in the outback and has to be stopped by an American who lost his wife to the beast.  I waited along time to see this film, and Warner Brothers put it out via their on demand disc burn service and I will say the film is fun. The next day of film watching started with “Wrong Turn 5” that follows a group of collage kids going to a music festival that has a deadly run-in with the inbreed hillbillys. This one was a bloodbath and not as bad as I had heard it was, it was filled with blood, boobs and killers and was just ok. Then we went into “World War Z” about a zombie outbreak that leaves the world at the mercy of the undead and one man must find a way to stop them. I saw this in theaters as well and I must say I liked it, a good PG-13 horror film and nice to see Paramount make a bigger budget horror picture. The next film I went for a Universal Classic with the 1935 film “The Raven” were a mad doctor played by Bela Lugosi sets his sight on a young female he has saved the life of and wants to use torture to get ride of those who stand in his way. The film stars Boris Karloff as well as a disfigured brute who is used as a tool. It’s a very fun old black and white horror filmed based very loosely on the work by Edgar Allen Poe that’s worth the watch! Next up was the underrated film “Waxworks” about a wax museum that kills people by having them meet the monsters of wax. If enough souls are taken, the horrors of the past and classic monsters are set loose in the world. It’s a very cool film that I have loved since I was young, filled with lots of great effects. October horror movie-thons are the best.

Curse of Chucky DVDFrankensteins Army DVDTerrifying Tales of the Macabre Halloween 2012 DVDRazorback DVDWrong Turn 5 DVDWorld War Z dvdThe Raven DVDWaxwork Poster

So let’s get to the comic reviews, and this first Halloween update I have gotten some comics based on Hammer films and I read them at haunted locations in and around the Southwestern Ohio area. Almost all the comics came from a U.K Magazine called House of Hammer and were then made into normal modern sized comics complete with custom covers and numbering! So how this update will go is I will tell you about and share picture of the haunted location and then get into the comic review of the issue I read at the location, and will share the mood and such of the location and if it helped add to the horror of the issue. And as always I want to remind you readers I grade these comics on a 1-4 star ranking and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. So with this, let’s get into some creepy reviews and places! 

Scary Pumpkins

Carpenters Road in Beavercreek Ohio is the area’s most haunted road, and stories of what has happened there have been around for generations.  My Dad and his friends use to travel that road to scare dates and each other as the road use to be filled with woods, fields, swamp lands and hardly any lights. When I was a teenager, my friends and I use to go up and down this road late at night hoping to be scared silly, and a few times I am sure our imagination got the best of us. The road has many legends that range from super natural to real life horrors, and many people swear that they have been scared by something on this road. A ghost farmer on a tractor is said to chase off anyone who is parked on the road during the fall months and is said to be very aggressive and mean. A hooked hand killer is said to have once roamed the swamp lands in the area and looked for young couples making out to make them his next victim. A car on prom night is said to have crashed on the street’s sharp turn killing the young couple, and it’s said on late nights you can see the car crash and watch as the ghosts of the two killed teens climb out of the ditch.  This is said to work if you turn your car lights on and off three times than exit the car and watch the horrific event unfold before your eyes. The most popular ghost on the road is that of a man who hung himself from one of the roads large trees in the 1970’s.  It’s said if you park your car under the tree at midnight and turn off your head lights, you can hear the mans feet drag across your roof top and hear him moan and gasp for air! So on this road I have one legend killer, one mean farmer ghost and three sad case spirits who left this world before they should have! Some scary stuff happens here, and it still remains a popular destination for teens around Halloween. 

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So with that let’s get into our first comic as at Carpenters Road I read “Curse Of The Werewolf”! 

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Curse of the Werewolf  # 1  ***
Released in 1978   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 1 of 1

An old beggar makes the mistake of wandering into the castle of a lord who has just gotten married, and after he is made into a fool, he is locked into a dungeon where he grows into a savage man that attacks a maid some years later who has been locked up for not making out with the now old and creepy lord of the manor. She is raped, and once she is let out, she kills the lord and escapes into the night where she is found by writer Alfredo and his sister Teresa who nurse her back to health.  Sadly she dies in child birth, and they raise the woman’s son Leon as their own nephew. But young Leon has something very wrong with him as he is struck with the curse of the werewolf and kills the locals farmers sheep, and while a werewolf he is shot by the local hunter and returns home were his uncle discovers his dark secret. Years pass and Leon grows up and leaves home and takes a job at a winery where he meets the owners lovely yet soon to be married daughter Cristina who he falls madly in love with. Leon can’t control his sinister curse and kills his co-worker and some female bargoers and roams the land as a werewolf.  This murder leads to him going to jail where he transforms once more at the full moon and runs wild in the village and Alfredo uses a silver bullet and kills him as sadness rushes over him as well as Cristina and Teresa for the loss of a man they all truly loved.

Curse of The Werewolf transfers to a comic really well, even if major plot changes happen from the lack of Cristina’s fiance to the rush death of his co-worker this short comic adaptation does it right and makes you almost forget about the elements that are missing. The one thing that doesn’t work as well is how fast and out of nowhere it seems that Leon and Cristina fall in love. The werewolf murders are all done fast paced, and all the blood is left out making this a bloodless horror comic.  While it would have been nice to see the red stuff, it doesn’t effect the well written story line or the likeable characters. Leon is a sad case and is a man who really just wants to live a normal life, hold a job and find true love and once he leaves his hometown this all goes to hell when his curse of being a werewolf runs wild. The town hunter in the comic plays a smaller role, but it’s still his silver bullet that brings down the blood thirsty beast. Cristina is used in the comic as both a love interest and a trigger as her first rejection of Leon is what sets the curse back off. The story is simple a baby is born out of rape on Christmas Day, and this is a bad omen and causes him to have a curse of being a werewolf. The love of his adoptive family keeps the curse at bay for years until he grows older and moves away and the rejection of a woman he falls for triggers the curse back up and in the end love is what has to kill the beast once and for all. The artwork is amazing, and I truly wish more comics would have been made about Leon so artist John Bolton could have worked on them and made them looked as stylish and artistic as this issue. The cover is also very eye catching and would have been a perfect match on comic shelves with the likes of Werewolf By Night and Tombs Of Dracula. Over all this is an amazing good creepy comic that should be read by fans of the Hammer film and fans of horror comics.

The day I read this, Carpenters Road was covered with fog and the sky was grey. I parked near the swamp where the hook handed killer was said to have prowled and began the trip into werewolf madness. The fog helped add to the creepy feel, and I was very much getting into the over all feeling of the comic. The downside is that many cars passed and this broke the brooding danger feel of the location. The area has changed for the worse as many new houses and even the back of a giant high school are now around. The curve where the wreck was to have taken place is now gone and has given way to a new housing neighborhood.  The hanging tree has been cut down and even the stump removed! The only things left is the swamp of the hook handed killer and the field of the ghost farmer. Nothing happened this evening of reading and while the fog and swamp made the reading more fun, it’s a shame that what use to be a kick butt haunted road is now just a shell of what it once was.

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Woodland Cemetery in Dayton is the area’s most haunted site, hosts many spooky stories, and is one of the oldest graveyards in the area. The cemetery is the final resting place for many famous people such as Wilbur & Orville Wright, inventors and first humans to fly in a flying machine, Loren M. Berry the inventor of the Yellow Pages, James Ritty inventor of the cash register, Leslie Carter silent film actress in movies like Rocky Mountain Mystery and The Heart of Maryland, not to mention the King and Queen of the Gypsies Levi and Matilda Stanley are also buried there. But while it’s a peaceful and lovely place, it also is a source of many haunts that include a blonde college teenage girl who wears jeans, a stripped shirt and white shoes who talks to those she comes in contact with.  It’s also said the gravestone she hangs out around glows blue/green at night. She is said to haunt the area because she is mad that she is buried so far away from her father and this is her way at getting back at those she thinks did this as well as fill her loneliness. The cemetery is also said be haunted by many other ghosts from all ages and decades and many “orbs” have been seen in the area. The most famous ghosts are that of Johnny Morehouse, a five year old boy who drowned in a canal and his dog who died at his gravesite when it refused to leave its deceased master’s side. Johnny and his dog’s ghost can be seen walking in the cemetery after close through the gates and his dog’s bark can be heard at night. His tombstone also has a statue of him and his dog that was put up in 1861 to honor their bond. This is a perfect place to read issue’s one and two in the Hammer Dracula series so I will be covering Horror of Dracula and Brides of Dracula at this amazing and creepy place! 

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Now let’s get spooky and take a read of the first two issues of Hammers Dracula.

Horror of Dracula 1

Horror of Dracula # 1   ***1/2
Released in 1976   Cover Price 30p   Top Sellers   # 1 of 9

Johnathon Harker is an invited guest to Castle Dracula to look over some papers, but that first night you see that he is not just there to look at papers but to try and find the real secret of who and what Dracula is. He hides his journal in the woods near the castle and finds that he is in the mist of vampires as Dracula and his bride show him their true nature. The next nigh,t Harker kills the bride but in return is killed by Dracula himself who is now on his way to the Harker home to seduce and turn his soon to be wife Lucy into a vampire. Van Helsing, a long time friend of Harker’s, has found the journal and is on a quest to kill Dracula and save Lucy, but sadly he is too late as Lucy becomes one of the vampire brides.  Her brother Arthur is the one to end her blood sucking ways, but this death also angers Dracula who now has sights set on Arthur’s wife Mina! Van Helsing and Arthur are tricked, and Mina becomes a slave to the vampire king.  The two vampire hunters track him down at his castle, and it’s Van Helsing that uses sun light and a cross to burn the vampire to death and free Mina’s soul.

This comic book is AMAZING! I enjoyed every second of it and found it to be very close to the film that it’s based on. Van Helsing is a great hero, and this first issue shows that while he is smart, he is not yet the vampire killer he soon will be in many other issues and films.  The artwork also makes the character look like actor Peter Cushing, who played him in the film, and this helped add to the mood and vibe of the comic that sucked me in. Dracula is a pimp in this comic and truly loves the ladies as he jumps from bride to would-be bride with the drop of a stake in the heart.  Plus when he is mad in this comic, his rage comes out and his fangs are flashed. The rest of the supporting characters in this little vampire romp are all well written and each serves a purpose. The death of Dracula looks great and seeing his face being burnt by the sun is stuff of nightmares. The comic takes its time and builds the story and captures the true soul of a Hammer film.  This is why I think that this issue will be hard to beat for any of the following Dracula issues, and I for one wish that this would have been made into a comic series that would have 100% truly followed each film. I could not find the artist who drew this comic but I must say he did a fantastic job, and each character looks like the actor who played them on film.  His Lee Dracula is stunning and made the horror kid in me very happy to see. The cover is okay and the use of Yellow makes it very eye catching, but the cover art does not do the comic justice as the work inside is so much better. 

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Well let’s move onto Brides of Dracula and see how well issue 2 compares to the first.

Brides of Dracula 2

Brides of Dracula # 2   **1/2
Released in 1977   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 2 of 9

Marianne Danielle is a young woman who is left by her coach driver near an inn where she meets and befriends an older woman named Baroness Meinster who invites her to stay at her castle. Marianne, while in her room, looks out her window and sees a man standing on the balcony below.  She finds out that he is Count Meinster, the Baroness’ son who is supposed to be a mad man. When she sees him again, it looks as if he is going to jump off the balcony to kill himself, and Marianne rushes to stop him to find that he is chained to the wall. She is shocked by his treatment as he seems real sweet to her and cons her into getting the key to free him and she does just that. Count Meinster is in fact a vampire and turns his own mother into one setting his site to make Marianne his bride. Enter Van Helsing, who gets wind of the vampire and sets out to stop him and save Marianne from his evil grip.  Along the way Count Meinster turns a friend of Marianne’s into a vampire and she tries to trick her one time friend into following her so that Count Meinster can turn her too! Van Helsing has a final battle with Count Meinster at a mill and uses holy water and the blades of the windmill as a cross and kills the vampire.

This second issue is a fun quick read, but the quickness of it is also its down fall. It’s only 13 pages long, and the story moves so quickly that I didn’t get an attachment to or fear any of the characters.  That’s a shame as I feel that the story line was really well done. The comic does follow the film but as one would guess, large chunks have been cut out. Count Meinster is a smooth talking vampire whose reign of terror could have been avoided if Marianne just left the blood sucker alone like his mother told her to. Marianne, while sweet in nature, does not fully get to shine in the comic like she does in the film.  I did find myself trying to get behind her in the comic. Van Helsing is once more back as the hero, and in this issue he is more than ready to kick some vampire butt and even when things go south for him, when he looses his cross, he makes due with what he has and gets the job done. The story is simple girl enters house, helps a stranger who in turn is a crazed vampire and she spends time trying not to become his next meal while a hero comes to her aid and rids the area of his curse. The art work is well done like all of these comics thus far ,and once more I could not find the artist’s name who did this cool short comic. The cover is good but not great and is a take on the official movie poster. Over all it’s a good follow up but not in the same league as issue one.

On the day I went to read these comics, Woodland Cemetery was quiet and a cool slight breeze was in the air. I was pretty relaxed to read these, and the lack of sounds around me made the mood just right. I read them both pretty fast and had very little interruption making the time nice and not very spooky. I wish I could have gotten into the cemetery at night as I feel that this would have been the prime time to get the true spooky feel, imagine sitting around the grave of Johnny Morehouse with a flashlight reading about Count Dracula and Count Meinster while the moon is full and the air chilled, and as you turn a page you hear a dog bark….now that would have been amazing! Over all not much to report on the reading of these two besides Woodland is a beautiful place to relax and read a comic. 

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To finish out Hammer’s Dracula series of “Dracula Prince of Darkness” and “Legend of The 7 Golden Vampires,” we will be reading them at Yellow Springs, a place filled with many ghost and ghouls, a perfect small town to read these spooky comics. The town is the home of many ghosts like the “Thunderstorm Ghost,” who is a woman who was stuck and killed my lightning durning a thunderstorm at the turn of the century near an oak tree.  It’s said when she was found, her face was stuck in a half scream and her arms were outright, and it’s said that durning thunderstorms if you go and sit under that oak tree that when lighting flashes you can see the woman’s ghost looking the same twisted way she was found. “The Jersey Angel” is the ghost of a 1870’s cattle rancher named Joseph S. Saberton who was the first rancher to bring Jersey Cows to the area and was land owner of what would be now John Bryan State Park. Joseph was a good man who loved his cows so much he gave them all names and treated them not just as livestock but as pets. Joseph passed away from an infection and asked to be buried in his pasture next to his cows, and it’s said after his death and even after his cows had been sold off, late at night you can hear Joseph call for his cattle. The ghost of Helen Birch Barlett, for whom The Glen Helen Nature Preserve is named, is said to haunt the woods around the area. In life Helen was said to have been a spoiled brat who died at a young age of cancer. “Woman in Blue” is an angry ghost that brings down the vibe at The Olde Trail Traven and knocks things off the walls and counters an is always in a foul mood. “The Twilight Man” is one of the towns biggest legends.  He is a ghost who walks the roads at night wearing a blue shirt, overalls and a red handkerchief around his neck and always has his left hand in his pocket he just walks the road and disappears before he reaches Meredith Road. Other takes on Twilight Man have him being a man in a car who watches and does sinister things, almost like a small town serial killer! Besides these, many other ghosts and orbs have been seen all over town and on the Antioch College campus. So with that, I am going to kick back and read these two comics outside near John Bryan Park, Near Town and Near the Collage wish me luck that the Twilight Man doesn’t get me!

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I should note that I am a dork and didn’t bring a camera to all these locations, so I would like to send a big thank you to all the people who took these pics! I did take two of the pictures at Carpenters Road with my crappy cell phone…go me! Well, let’s get back to the creepy and Dracula.

Dracula Prince of Darkness 3

Dracula Prince of Darkness # 3   **1/2
Released in 1977   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 3 of 9

A group of travelers are stuck at the side of a road and speak of how while in town no one would give them a ride near the old castle at night. The travelers are Alan, his wife Helen, his brother Charles and his wife Diana, and they are shocked when an un-maned stage coach comes for them and takes them to the castle where they meet Klove, the servant of the dead Count Dracula who has rooms and a meal waiting for them. That night Klove tricks Alan into following him into the basement where he kills him and drains his blood into the coffin of Dracula’s ashes.  The blood brings him back to life! Kove then tricks Helen into the basement and she becomes the first new bride of Dracula as her husband’s body hangs from the ceiling with his neck slit. As Diana and Charles wake up the next morning, they see that their family members are gone and that something is not right with the castle so they flee.  But Charles can’t leave his brother behind and after returning he finds that his sister in law is now a vampire and that his brother is dead! Klove tricks Diana to return to the castle and after a run in with Dracula and vampire Helen, the couple barely escape and have a terrible coach wreck and are rescued by Father Shandor who takes them to the church for safety. But they are only safe for a short time as Dracula, Klove and vampire Helen come for Diana, and a battle breaks out that leaves Klove and Helen dead and Diana kidnapped by Dracula! In the end Dracula tries to escape with Diana over a frozen river and meets his doom when they break the ice from under his feet and he falls into the moving water below.

The third issue in the Hammer Dracula series is pretty good but does lack the charm of the film as a 90 minute movie got squeezed into a 16 page comic book. The story has Charles and Helen’s battle to survive from the grip of Dracula and meeting their only hope Father Shandor who teaches them how to out smart and kill the vampire king with nothing more than running water. Sadly, you don’t get a full attachment to either Helen or Charles as they are not fleshed out enough for me to truly care about.  Helen is given less than Charles who kind of is a laughable hero in this comic because he kind of just in a round about way manhandles Dracula with lame stuff like makeshift crosses and ice covered water. Dracula is as always bad ass, but man is his death in this comic as well as the movie lame.  Ice is shot from under his feet and he falls into the running water below and dies…yep, I know that could be the worst death of a vampire ever. In the issue Dracula kills zero people and transforms only one person into a vampire. Dracula seems more into scoring Diana than killing and feeding in this comic. Klove, the strange servant of Dracula, is one sadistic son of a gun and tries to kill a few and at least has the body count of one. Vampire Helen seems like a second thought in this comic and is killed off pretty fast.  While an extra threat to the heros, she is wasted. Father Shandor takes the place of Van Helsing, and while he is interesting, he is not as cool.  In fact I feel that he comes off a little preachy with his advice on how to kill vampires. The art in this comic is done by John Bolton, who is known for his work on such comics as Kull, X-Men Classics, Man-Bat and The Book of Magic, and it looks amazing! His drawings of Christopher Lee’s Dracula is very well done and makes this all right comic adaptation a little better. Bolton’s style has an almost solid pencil look to it, and his shading is well done and makes his work pop. The cover on this issue is also pretty eye catching, and I am sure caught the eye of horror kids of 1977! Over all this issue is just okay with a rushed storyline, cheesy Dracula death, great artwork and some creepy classic monster moments.  

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After this issues 4-8 have been M.I.A. for decades.  Many think they were never made, while others say they are lost in a haunted crypt.  This brings us to our next issue, “7 Golden Vampires.” So let’s chill our blood some more here in Yellow Springs, test our luck against Twilight Man, and read the last issue in the Hammer Dracula series. 

7 Golden Vampires 9

7 Golden Vampires  ***
Released in 1977   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 9 of 9

Dracula kills a man who is in charge of guarding the legendary 7 Golden Vampires, and after killing him Dracula takes his appearance. Meanwhile across the world, Van Helsing is giving a lecture about the legend of the golden vampires when he gets a visit from a man named Hsi Ching, who tells him that the legend is true and that he comes from that village and needs his help to stop the remaining 6 Golden Vampires who wish to avenge the death of the 7th on the seventh moon! Leyland Van Helsing, his son, and a rich young widow Vanessa Buren are attacked by a warlord, and his men and are saved by Ching’s brothers.  This act and the money of Vanessa send the Van Helsings, The Chings and Vanessa on a quest to stop the 6 Golden Vampires who attack along the way. The battles are filled with lots of death, and both sides lose many.  Once more Van Helsing tricks the overly cocky Dracula into showing himself to be staked,and as the vampire king dies so do the remaining golden vampires.  Once more peace is brought to the small village.

This final issue in the Hammer Dracula comic series is well done and is a comic adaptation of a film done right. The down side of the comic is the fact it is very talkie and the action seems like the second thought and is crammed into only a few panels while the long talks of legend and fears seem to take up pages. In the issue  Dracula is not in his true image for most of it nor is his taken image….in fact Dracula is barely in the comic at all! Dracula in the issue is just not a threat at all and is almost forgotten about.  Not to mention Van Helsing kicks his butt quickly in the end, and this makes the supposed vampire King look like a cheap fool. The 7 Golden Vampires while spoken about being complete evil killing machines, they don’t kill as many of the brothers as the reader would think and makes them more of a threat than Dracula but still not totally challenging. Van Helsing is the main hero of the story, and he is once more filled with the knowledge and the means to kill some vampires. His son Leyland seems to be thrown into the mix only to fall in love with the Chings’ only sister.  This is the drama that was needed to make the film have some “oh no” moments as his love is kidnapped by the vampires. The Ching brothers are cool and have an almost Shaw Brothers feel to them that comes out even on the comic pages.  They are bad asses, and they know it. Vanessa Buren seems like a background character until she turns into a vampire and is killed by her crush Tsi Ching who also kills himself in freeing his would-be lover’s soul. Over all the comic is well done and got three stars for sticking pretty close to the movie and making the pages they had very enjoyable. Thoough this is a sad way to end the Hammer Dracula comics and not to mention the film series with a weak lame Dracula who does not look like nor is played by Christopher Lee. Sadly I could not find who did the artwork in this issue, but I will say that its well done and captures the feel of the film. The cover is also well done and is very eye catching! Over all I would say a good issue with a cool story that has the worst payout for any iconic bad guy character, but is totally worth a read.  

While reading these comics in Yellow Springs, the sun was going down and a slight breeze was in the air making it a little chilly. Noises of birds and squirrels in the trees filled the air as well as the thuds of walnuts falling from the trees echoed like sounds of heavy footsteps pounding the ground.  Fall was in full effect this day and the atmosphere was just right. Bugs were all over the air flying around in large groups and landing on my arms making me have to swat at them to knock them away. As I sat on a old park bench in the middle of a field that had trees all around me making almost a perfect circle that I was trapped in, I waited to hear a whistle or a ghostly noise from something from beyond the grave! After Dracula Prince of Darkness, I heard and saw nothing besides normal nature sounds.  So for 7 Golden Vampires I decided to walk around and read, as the sun was fading fast the air got a little cooler and helped add to the spooky nature of the Golden Vampires. But sadly after reading this comic and being in Yellow Spring,s I can 100% say that while the atmosphere was right the evening of reading, these comics just was not scary. So here is to hoping I can get a creepy charge from Frankenstein’s Castle! 

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Frankenstein’s Castle/Witches Tower is a haunted tower in Kettering that is the source of many haunts and strange things. The “Castle” is the source of many orb spottings all around it that interfere with people taking pictures and video of the area. A ghostly blacked cloak figure can be seen at the top peering over and watching people below late nights.  It’s said that the cloaked figure is a witch who curses those who get to close. A shadow man roams the woods near by and has been known to kill animals and chase cars of those who cross its path. The ghosts of four teens who were killed inside the tower during a thunderstorm that had lightning hitting the metal rail as they climbed down, are also said to haunt around the tower. The giant metal monument of Henry Patterson is also said to be haunted and that the book he carries is said to have occult writings in it, and the head of the horse he is riding is said to follow you. The tower itself seems to be a mystery as no one can find why it was built and by whom. I have been to this location and the woods around it many times late at night and have in fact had some odd things happen mostly having to do with the shadow man, I have also had camera issues around the tower that at one point locked up a camera that we were using to film an episode of Terrifying Tales of the Macabre. I very much look forward to reading Curse of Frankenstein in this area and wish that Eric and Kurt could have gotten “Frankenstein and The Monster From Hell” comic adaption done in time.  But like all good things, these things take time ,and I will review it and do a whole write up on that film and comic when it’s done. Well with that, let’s get scared and have some spooky times at Frankenstein’s Castle. 

Frankensteins Castle Ohio

Yep, just look at it….I know its creepy and yet super cool!

Curse Of Frankenstein 1

The Curse Of Frankenstein # 1  ***
Released in 1976   Cover Price 35p   Top Sellers   # 1 of 7

Baron Victor Frankenstein along with his good friend Paul are robbing bodies from graves and hangmen nooses to try and build a new super being and to give life to the dead. Paul is getting cold feet and is backing out of helping, and to make things worse Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s fiance, has come to live at the castle and he has very strong feelings for her. Frankenstein continues his experiment and even hides the fact he has been sleeping with his maid from everyone.  His obsession gets worse as he kills an old Professor friend for his brain that is damaged when Paul and him have a fight over what he is doing. The Monster awakens and is out of control and escapes, and this leaves Paul and Frankenstein having to shoot and kill the Monster and bury its body in the woods. But as days pass Frankenstein can’t let his creation go that easily and digs it up and brings it to life once more.  This time he fixes the damaged brain, and the Monster acts more like a dumb dog than a raged-filled monster. This doesn’t last long as The Monster kills the maid and tries to kill Elizabeth, leaving Frankenstein to have to torch his monster with an oil lamp and knock it into acid. But it’s not a happy ending for Frankenstein as he loses Elizabeth to Paul who also does not come to his friends aid, and he is hung for the murder of his maid.

This comic adaption is super fun, even if the first six pages are super fuzzy and are hard to read. The comic is filled with sinister deeds and paints Victor Frankenstein to be an evil man who does what he wants when he wants and will take a life if it benefits his needs. That’s what makes Victor one of the best bad guys of any of these comics; while Dracula and Leon are monsters, Victor is a real man who does not feel bad for his deeds. Paul plays the good guy who for the most part is also kind of a scum bag as he had helped Victor up to a point and only started to get odd about it once it came close to the monster getting life. The Monster, while a killer, doesn’t do much in this comic and is more of a tool to show the evils of its creator. I like the fact that Frankenstein has a lovely woman in his life, but also likes to slum it and get some of his maid who he kind of treats like a no good whore. The fact that Frankenstein dies in the end of this issue just like in the film is shocking and helps add to the message that being an evil doctor with a bad heart leads to death. The comic captures the mood and terror of the film, and right behind “Horror Of Dracula” this could be one of the better comics we looked at this Halloween. It’s crazy to think that no other Hammer Frankenstein comics were made because this series of films were perfect for comics. The art work is well done and once more no artist name was given.  The cover is one of the better in the Hammer comic series. Over all this is a great read and I recommend finding this one.

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Frankenstein’s Tower was in full effect when I went to read this comic, and the leaves were falling from the trees all around.  The sounds of people in the park filled the air, and the air was chilled and that perfect temperature to read a horror comic in. Sounds of leaves blowing around and animals running about filled the air as The Monster came alive in the comic. After reading the issue, I drove around the park at night and waited for The Shadow Man who didn’t come this night, but I could kind of see The Black Cloaked Witch at the top of the tower.  I am sure it was all in my head, right?

What would Halloween be without a fantasy warfare?  So in this one we will pit Hammer’s heavy hitters Count Dracula, Leon The Werewolf and Victor Frankenstein against each other at a haunted Ohio location known as Prospect Place that is filled with many hauntings and ghost. The day the battle will take place is Halloween Night, and the moon is full.  A storm is coming, but for now the stars are bright. So let’s get into this epic battle of Hammer Horror icons!

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The moon is full and is shinning and a storm is blowing in at the old mansion that is known as Prospect Place.  Inside near one of the windows is an oil lamp, and a man sitting at a makeshift desk writing down notes of the morning’s failed experiment.  The man is none other than Baron Victor Frankenstein! The air is so cold he warms his gloved burnt hands over the lamp and is deciding if he should try and get some sleep. Meanwhile in one of the second story rooms, a coffin sits.  Inside is Count Dracula sleeping in the box filled with his home land’s soil, and he his now getting up and looking for a blood snack. The coffin door creaks and this noise alerts Frankenstein who now knows he is not alone in this creepy old place.  He makes a decision to leave the old house and hold up in the barn until morning for he knows he can’t be seen because he is a wanted man for all his crimes against God. The Baron turns off the lamp and grabs his top hat and slips out the front door.  As he looks back he sees that a man is watching him leave the house.  Unbeknownst to him, that man is Dracula who has just found his next victim.  Victor rushes to the barn to fetch his horse.  He has been seen, and he knows it’s time for him to leave and not look back. As he enters the barn, he finds that his horse has been killed, and a werewolf is the killer.  As the beast is drinking the blood from an open wound on the dead animal’s neck, Victor backs up slowly and right into Dracula who lets out an unearthly hiss.  This noise alerts the werewolf who now is up and ready for a fight! The Werewolf lunges toward Victor who just in time side steps, and the werewolf tackles Dracula instead.  This enrages the vampire king who in turn grabs the beast by the neck and starts to squeeze.  As Dracula’s death grip tightens Victor runs to the house and grabs the oil lamp.  Meanwhile the werewolf scratches at Dracula’s face ripping chunks of flesh off, but this does not phase the vampire as he gives one more powerful squeeze and ends werewolf Leon’s life and torment. As Dracula turns, Victor throws the oil lamp at him and it explodes covering him in oil.  Victor strikes a match as quickly as he can and as he is about to flick it at Dracula, the rain starts to poor down.  Victor looks at the wet match as Dracula moves closer. The wind blows and the last scream of a evil yet brilliant Baron fills the air.

 Winner: Dracula

So there you have it.  While both Werewolf Leon and Victor Frankenstein tried, they just could not beat Dracula on this haunted battlefield.  But make it near running water, and they stand a chance. This was a fun Halloween, and the month was filled with lots of good times as well as sad times but I hope you all enjoyed yourself and hope your bellies are filled with candy. Next update we will take a look at Wally The Wizard, one of Star Comics’ original characters.  So until then, stay spooky and read some comics!

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