AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Destroyer (1988) movie review

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 30, 2015 by Paxton

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This is it!  The final day of the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2015. It’s been a blast. I really hope you guys have had as much fun as I’ve had. I’m sad to see the Halloween season come to a close. But, all good things, am I right? Anyway, without further ado, here is today’s final AWESOME-tober-fest article and it’s the last of this week’s look back at all of my previous years’ AWESOME-tober-fest subjects.

Last year, my theme was Bloody Best of Fangoria.  I went through the vast history of the magazine, showed you articles and pictures and each Friday I reviewed a B-horror movie that appeared in the pages of the magazine.  Those reviews were called Fangoria Movie Fridays.  The last FMF was the awesome Cheerleader Camp starring Lucinda Dickey.  But it was almost a different movie.  As a matter of fact, it was so almost a different movie that I had watched and mostly drafted a completely different movie review but I changed my mind at the last second.  I think it’s time to bring that movie back and give it its due.  That movie was the flick Destroyer from 1988.  It starred Lyle Alzado, Debra Foreman and Anthony Perkins.

Here’s the ad they used to promote the VHS release.  I remember seeing it in an issue of Fangoria.

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Lyle looks like he’s holding his head weird.  Or is his head just Photoshopped into the poster?  I can’t tell.

Here’s the actual poster for the movie.



Yeah, this is actually a bit more bonkers and awesome.  Did you notice that they added a LASER SCOPE to the jackhammer?  Why the f**k does he need a laser scope on the jackhammer?!  Crazy.  And weird.  And awesome.

Anyway, this movie poster obviously spoke to me.  Lyle Alzado as a “half dead” serial killer?  Anthony Perkins as a horror movie director? Yes, please.

So, first, is this movie any good.  Ehhh, it’s okay.  It’s not bad for a late 80s slasher flick with a ton of cult pop culture familiar faces in it.  What’s it about, well, Alzado plays a serial killer who is on Death Row.  He is about to be executed when a power surge while he’s in the electric chair makes him “half dead”.  Essentially it makes him a savage, nearly indestructible killing machine.  The jail is abandoned and Lyle is left to roam the empty jail.  Flash forward two years or so and a horror film crew arrives to film their movie in the infamous jail.  They, of course, stir up Lyle who starts killing off members of the crew.  How do you stop an unkillable monster?  I. Don’t. Know.

That’s the basic premise.  Did I mention this movie had familiar faces?  Yep, let’s quickly look at the cast. You’ve already seen sweaty Lyle Alzado up there on the poster as the “lead”. Lyle is known mainly for football but he also appeared in this movie, Ernest Goes to Camp, Zapped…Again! (yes, the sequel to Zapped!) and the sadly short lived wrestling sitcom Learning the Ropes.

The next most notable face would be the aforementioned Anthony Perkins, best known as Norman Bates in the Psycho movies.  Anthony is playing the director of the horror movie-within-the-movie, Death House Dolls.  Honestly, Perkins is pretty much the best thing in the movie.  He’s very entertaining and I loved every scene he’s in.


Here’s a familiar face, Clayton Rohner.


I did not expect him to pop up in this movie. This guy is an 80s staple with lead rolls in Just One of the Guys, I, Madman and another little horror film I love called April Fool’s Day.  If you haven’t seen April Fool’s Day, watch it.  It’s pretty great.  But also starring in April Fool’s Day was an actress named Deborah Foreman.  And in a nice little reunion, Deborah is in this movie as well.


Deborah is adorable.  You’ve seen her in a ton of 80s flicks like Valley Girl, Real Genius, Hot Pursuit and My Chauffeur.  Unfortunately she goes with “Hilary Clinton” hair in this movie which is rather…unfortunate.

I do like both of these guys, so it’s nice to have them here.  Clayton comes off a little better because he’s written to be a funny, irreverant writer so he has some funny lines.

So, how’s Lyle?  He’s okay.  I mentioned his character is described as “half dead”, which I assume means he has “crazy eyes”.  Because that’s what he does at every opportunity.  Gives us his “crazy eyes”.

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He does seem to have a lot of fun with that jackhammer, though.

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Easy, Lyle, you can go blind handling that jackhammer so much.  Take a break, buddy.

If you like cheesy 80s “horror” with a dash of comedy, I think you’ll like this.

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Scarlet in Gaslight (1987)

Posted in comic books, Dracula, Genres, horror, monsters, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 29, 2015 by Paxton

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This week, instead of the Invisible Man, I am revisting some of my earlier AWESOME-tober-fest themes. Today I’m looking back at Dracula, whom I covered back in 2011.

The comic Scarlet in Gaslight was released by Eternity Comics in 1987-1988.

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This comic is a Sherlock Holmes mystery where the detective meets the Prince of Darkness, Dracula. It was written by Martin Powell and drawn by Seppo Makinen.  If they sound familiar these are the guys who did the Sherlock Holmes vs Invisible Man comic I talked about earlier, A Case of Blind Fear.  They actually did this Dracula comic a few years before they did the invisible man mystery.

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In style and execution this comic is very similar to A Case of Blind Fear.  Only, sadly, it isn’t quite as successful.  The story tries to incorporate Sherlock Holmes into the events of the Bram Stoker novel which, like in A Case of Blind Fear, would cause changes to the novel’s events as well as the outcome.  In the comic you see Lucy suffering in her room where Dracula has been visiting her.  You see Van Helsing trying to help her by covering the room in garlic.  We also see Dracula has the look from Stoker’s novel with the mustache, but it just isn’t working as well for me as it would a few years later with A Case of Blind Fear.

Lucy gets a bigger part and you see Sherlock having lots of issues with all of the supernatural things going on.  He even has sort of a breakdown in the middle of the comic because his precise mind can’t process what it sees.  This stuff is interesting but also, in the full run of the comic I was mostly bored reading.  I just couldn’t connect to this comic the same way I connected with the later invisible man story.  A lot of that may be my issues I have with the Bram Stoker novel itself, but I can’t be sure.  Taken at face value, some of this comic is pretty cool, it just has trouble keeping that coolness flowing throughout the four issue story.

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Posted in Genres, horror, monsters, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, werewolf with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2015 by Paxton

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Today I’m journeying back to the heady days of October 2010 when I covered werewolves for Halloween. My intention that year was to actually watch and review Hammer’s 1961 werewolf film, Curse of the Werewolf. It was supposed to go right there during that last week after I covered Universal’s Wolf Man movies. However, plans got away from me and I was not able to cover it that year.

Now, I have that chance back. Plus, I haven’t had a Hammer movie review on AWESOME-tober-fest since 2013’s review of The Plague of the Zombies. So, let’s do this.

Curse of the Werewolf poster

Hammer’s Curse of the Werewolf starred Oliver Reed and Catherine Feller.  It was the only werewolf movie Hammer ever made.  It’s very gothic and tragic, lots of sexual subtext and, kind of all over the place.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

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Title cards for this movie. Not quite as cool as the Horror of Dracula cards.

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This is the Marques Siniestro and his new bride. In this opening scene the movie goes out of its way to show you how mean and cruel this Marques can be.  Even his wife is looking at him like, “You’re such an asshole.”

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The chef brings out some roasted goose for the newlyweds.  The Marquesa says she doesn’t like goose, so the Marques actually gets up out of his chair, yells at the chef for not knowing the Marquesa doesn’t like goose and throws the entire tray of goose on the floor. Then while the chef cleans up the mess the Marques pushes the chef down into the mess.

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After the chef debacle, a lowly beggar comes to the Marques’ table to beg for food and drink.  The Marques offers him a handful of gold to be the Marquesa’s pet.  Then, he completely humiliates the beggar by making him dance in front of everyone for some food and wine.  Then the beggar is sent to the dungeons anyway.

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Here’s the Marques leering at his wife before sending the beggar to the dungeons. He just informed her it’s time for them to “retire”. Ugh, shivers went up my spine the way he said it.  She’s clearly re-thinking her life choices at this point.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: The Dell Comics Monster Squad

Posted in comic books, Dracula, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, werewolf with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2015 by Paxton

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Yesterday, with my review of Dell’s Frankenstein, I finally completed all three infamous 60s Dell superhero monster comics reviews (Here’s Dracula and Werewolf).  I love all three of these zany re-imagining of the classic monsters.  And as I mentioned in my reviews, the only thing that was missing was a team up.  We did see Frankenstein pop up briefly in a one panel cameo in Dracula, but other than that, no other crossover ever happened.  It’s time I rectify this situation.

So, issue #10 of Cavalcade Comics features the debut of the Dell monster super heroes in a team up.  Finally we get the Dell Comics Monster Squad.

Cavalcade Comics 10

How did this never happen? I’ll tell you how, the comics never sold. It’s why we only got three issues of each title. I would love to see these characters come back in a cool retro reboot. I don’t even know who owns the license to them anymore, but with the right writer and tone, they could be fantastic.

I had only three covers of each of the three heroes to try to make work, but I luckily found Marvel’s Where Monsters Dwell #3 (1970) which works as a really nice base image for this cover.


I love all those 70s horror comics from Marvel. Such good cover artwork and great to use as a base for these types of Photoshop projects.

The Dell Monster Squad logo was going to be a re-interpretation of some awesome original art by Nathan Milliner.


Nathan created these awesome EC-style vintage comic covers I just love.  I really wanted to use that logo, but no matter how I manipulated it, it didn’t fit in the 60-70s vintage comic cover I was trying to create, so I sadly had to abandon it. I then went back to the original Where Monsters Dwell logo and just created the new logo off those letters and I think it turned out pretty good. I’m happy with it.

As for the monster heroes themselves; Dracula comes from Dell Dracula #4, Frankenstein comes from Dell Frankenstein #2 and Werewolf from Dell Werewolf #1.  

I also had to change the background a bit and add the night sky with the full moon which I believe I got from Marvel’s Werewolf by Night #11.

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Dell’s Frankenstein

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, monsters, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2015 by Paxton

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Here we are, kids. The final week of October and the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2015. It sure has been a lot of fun this year, I hope you guys are enjoying this year’s celebration as much as I have been.

Anyway, this final week, I’m parting with my month long theme of the invisible man. Each day I’ll be revisiting a previous theme from an earlier AWESOME-tober-fest. I’ll use this week to review a few things that were supposed to be included in previous years, but for some reason, got cut from the final lineup. And since I’ve always wanted to do them, here’s my chance.

Today, I’m revisiting AWESOME-tober-fest 2009. That year was the first year I did “daily updates” and is the starting point for what AWESOME-tober-fest is today. That year, I covered Frankenstein’s Monster. On October 23, I talked about a bunch of different Frankenstein comics. Amongst that list was a blurb on an obscure 1960s Dell comic called Frankenstein #2.

Dell Frank 2

The Dell monster comics should be familiar to anyone who reads AWESOME-tober-fest.  But, to refresh your memory, in the 60s, Dell Comics acquired the Universal Monster license and did comic adaptations of several of the movies.  Then, Dell decided to reboot three of the monsters into super hero comics.  I reviewed the Dell Werewolf and Dell Dracula comics in their respective AWESOME-tober-fest reviews.  But I never got around to a full review of the Dell Frankenstein comic.  Today is that day.

As I mentioned, Dell rebooted Frankenstein’s Monster into a super hero comic in 1966 starting with issue #2 (issue #1 was an adaptation of the Universal movie).  Like the other monster super heroes, it would only last three issues.  Here are issues #3 and #4.

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Similar to Dracula, this one is pretty zany. But in a fun way.  I mean, look at Frankenstein up there.  His head is GREEN but his arms are inexplicably flesh colored.  What?

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Here’s Frank’s origin from the first issue.  It’s 100 years after the Universal movie.  Frankenstein’s Monster is buried beneath the ruins of the mad doctor’s castle.  A random lightning strike revives the monster who awakens with partial amnesia.

Frank realizes that he’s stronger and smarter than 50 men, so he decides to use his abilities to fight crime. And somehow in the last 100 years Frank’s extremities have gone back to their pinkish color while his face remains ghastly green.  Also, I guess Dr Frankenstein knew that his creature would eventually fight crime so he left a unitard and some masks for the monster to cover up his monstrous face.

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And Frank makes sure to use those masks ALL THE TIME. That’s some Mission: Impossible level mask technology right there.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: The Flash vs an invisible man (1991)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2015 by Paxton

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The Flash TV series debuted in September 1990.

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In episode 10, which aired January 1991, The Flash would come up against a villain who had invented a personal cloaking device, essentially turning him into an invisible man. That episode was titled Sight Unseen.

It’s a pretty cool episode. The pre-credit opening shows us a burglary, but it’s being done by someone invisible. We see keyboard keys depress and doors opening without seeing anybody onscreen. Then, after the alarms go off, we see the door open on it’s own and then the thief appears as if out of thin air.


He looks very Shadow-like in the below shot as he dictates to what looks like a mini-recorder device about his plans.  .


Not sure why he does this right outside the crime scene.  Stay invisible, dude, get to your hideout THEN do your “notes to self”

We get the weekly appearance of officers Bellows and Murphy.


Bellows is the believer (right) and Murphy is the skeptic (left). However, while Murphy doesn’t believe The Flash exists, he spends most of his time trying to monetize the fact that other people do think he exists.  Here he tries to convince Bellows to sell $6 shirts to people for $20 a pop.

This show is clearly set-designed by the same team that did Burton’s Batman in 1989. Check out Central City Police Headquarters.


In the stairwell that leads up to the crime lab where Barry Allen works, there’s a weird “science-y” mural painted on the wall.


In this episode we get the debut of federal agent Quinn. And he’s clearly an a-hole.  He’s very driven and is obsessed with capturing the cloaking device used by the invisible man. He reminds me a lot of agent Milton Dammers in The Frighteners (right) as played by Jeffrey Combs about five years later.

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Several times in the episode we get to see invisible-to-visible reveals of the villain. Here’s a cool one where The Flash confronts the guy’s lair.


And here’s one where the villain is thrown on the hood of a car and it turns the cloaking device off.


Finally Barry figures out that he can see the invisible man with specially developed contact lenses with thermal vision.

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Honestly, I thought any invisible man’s downfall would be thermal vision. You may be invisible to light, but you’ll always give off a heat signature.

It’s a pretty good episode. No overt Wells-ian easter eggs. The scientist who develops the cloaking device is called Gideon. Which sounds kind of like Griffen, the protagonist from Wells’ novel. Also like Griffen, he’s British. He’s played by Christopher Neame who has been in a ton of stuff from this to Ghostbusters II, License to Kill and The Prestige. Coincidentally enough, he also would appear in one episode of Sci-Fi Channel’s 2000 TV series, The Invisible Man.

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2015: Smoke (1995) – Donald Westlake

Posted in books, Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 22, 2015 by Paxton

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Donald Westlake is a famous crime novelist probably most known for his series of novels about relentless professional thief, Parker, written under the pseudonym Richard Stark.  Westlake is also well known for his comic heist novels about charming master thief John Dortmunder.  Parker debuted in The Hunter in 1962 and Dortmunder debuted in The Hot Rock in 1970.

In 1995, Westlake took a break from straight up crime novels and wrote a comedic crime novel with sci-fi elements called Smoke.


I was aware of Westlake before I discovered Smoke when researching “invisible man novels” for this Halloween. I’d seen the movies based on Westlake’s “Parker” character (Payback in 1999 and Parker in 2013) and I’ve had my eye on the first Dortmunder novel, The Hot Rock, for a few years now.  So, I thought Smoke would be a great opportunity to read Westlake to see if I like his style before committing to either the Parker or Dortmunder novels.

The gist of the story is that Freddie Noon, a small time thief burgles a research lab late one night and is caught by the two research scientists that live there. They are testing two melanoma formulas and they blackmail him into testing one of them. Freddie mistakenly takes both formulas and then escapes the research lab and makes off with a bunch of the doctors’ equipment. Later, Freddie discovers that the formula has turned him completely invisible. Freddie, along with his girlfriend Peg, has to get used to him being invisible, attempt to continue stealing and fencing goods in his new condition and stay one step ahead of the shady organization that had employed the research lab in the first place who want nothing but to exploit Freddie for their own gain.

This book is sort of a spiritual cousin to HF Saint’s Memoirs of an Invisible Man which was published about 7 years prior to this.  Similar plot lines, only a few details are different, but the tone of the books are completely different.  Saint’s book is a taut suspense thriller from beginning to end.  Westlake’s book is a comic caper with a very light, humorous tone.  The characters are funny and interesting for the most part, but I prefer Saint’s edge of your seat thrill ride to Westlake’s easy going pace.

I’d mostly recommend this book, but if I’m picking my favorite, HF Saint’s Memoirs is a much more satisfying read.

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.


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