Archive for October, 2013

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: House of Hammer magazine #13 (1977)

Posted in Genres, horror, magazine, movies, nostalgia with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by Paxton

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Comic editor Dez Skinn had conceived of a horror fan magazine called Chiller.  He worked right next to the production offices of Hammer Studios, and after walking past the front door one day he decided to talk to Hammer about licensing their name to use on the magazine.  In the 70s, Hammer Studios was a giant in the horror movie industry.  Their Frankenstein and Dracula franchises were huge hits.  They thought this new Hammer fan magazine was a great idea.  They changed the name from Chiller to The House of Hammer.  The magazine covered new releases as well as old.  Originally it was only going to cover Hammer movies, but it became clear that there would not be enough content so they opened it up a little bit to cover new genre pictures currently in release.  Sort of a prototype Fangoria.  The first issue was published in 1976.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Hammer Studios.  Their gothic horror films are classics.  Especially, like I said, their classic Dracula series with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

In October 1977, The House of Hammer #13 was released. House of Hammer #13 cover As you can see, the cover story was Hammer’s 1966 zombie flick, Plague of the Zombies. There was also a preview of Star Wars as it wouldn’t premier in Britain until Dec 1977. One of the cool things this magazine did was to feature comic adaptations of some of Hammer’s classic movies.  In this issue they adapt Plague of the Zombies.  It’s actually really well done.  The adaptation was written by Steve Moore with artwork by Trevor Goring and the awesome Brian Bolland of Killing Joke and Watchmen fame. Below are the first four pages.  The entire adaptation is about 13 pages, so you’ll have to click through to my Flickr set to see the entire thing.  If you click the first page below (with the movie title), you can read it full size on Flickr then just click the right arrow to move to page two.

Plague of Zombies pg 1 Plague of Zombies pg 2

Plague of Zombies pg 3 Plague of the Zombies pg 4

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

Posted in Halloween, holiday with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2013 by Paxton

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With all the mostly horror based zombie movies I’ve been covering this month, I thought I’d try a more comedy based zombie movie. I’ve never watched today’s movie. I remember it being released, but I never got around to watching it. Today’s little gem of a movie is My Boyfriend’s Back from 1993.

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The movie is about a boy named Johnny who is in love with a childhood friend from school named Missy. One night, Johnny intervenes in a robbery and takes a bullet to save Missy’s life. Johnny soon returns from the grave as a zombie so he can escort Missy to prom, but he discovers that he’s slowly disintegrating and must eat human flesh to survive long enough to actually go to the prom.

That’s the helicopter view of the plot. There’s also some not-so-subtle commentary on tolerance of people that are different. But let’s first look at some of the stars of the movie. Johnny and Missy, the main characters, are played by relative newcomers (at the time). Neither are really known for anything else. However, Missy’s douchebag boyfriend and his neanderthal buddy are both played by very well known actors.

Check out an impossibly young Matthew Fox and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

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At this time, Matthew Fox had only appeared in the TV shows Wings and Freshman Dorm (with Teen Witch‘s Robin Lively). It would be another year before he’d land Party of Five.  Hoffman had had small parts in Steve Martin’s Leap of Faith, Pacino’s Scent of a Woman and John Cusack’s Money for Nothing.  It’s fun seeing these guys in very early roles.  And don’t get me wrong, the roles are small.  Especially Hoffman’s.

Another famous face that pops up, in essentially a cameo, is Matthew McConaughey.  He’s in the theater scene taunting our hero Johnny.

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Before this, McConaughey had only appeared in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. This movie came out the same year as his breakout role in Dazed and Confused.  These are the most famous actors squirreled away in this movie.  Other notable appearances include Paul Dooley, Cloris Leachman, Austin Pendleton and Paxton Whitehead.

So, how’s the movie?  Honestly, it’s not very good.  A little too goofy.  A little too dumb.  The screenwriter, Dean Lorey, has written other stuff I liked like Major Payne and a bunch of the Season 4 Arrested Development episodes.  But this movie is not good.  It’s not garbage, but it’s not really good either, I’m sad to say.  I thought this would be a fun diversion from the other mostly horror zombies I’ve been covering but it’s sadly not a good distraction.

One bright spot is that the movie was sort of book ended with some cool comic art.  I’m not really sure what it had to do with the movie but the opening started off like you were reading a comic book called My Boyfriend’s Back.

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The artwork is done by Tony Gleeson who has worked with Neal Adams’ studio and is still actively drawing today.  But again, I’m not really sure what it had to do with the story in the movie.  It’s not like Johnny collected comics in any obvious way.

So, no, I don’t really recommend this and I don’t really have any plans to watch it ever again.


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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (1992)

Posted in monsters, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to take a look at Peter Jackson’s 1992 cult zombie film, Dead Alive.

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Suprisingly, I’d never seen this movie before. I used to be a big gore hound in the late 80s. I’d heard of it at the time, but never had a chance to watch it.  I like Peter Jackson’s films for the most part. The first Peter Jackson movie I ever watched was probably The Frighteners with Michael J Fox and I loved it.  I even saw his ultra-cult hit Meet the Feebles.  So I’m a little behind the curve on this particular movie.  But with my zombie Halloween theme this year I thought this would be the perfect time to rectify this situation.  So I watched it.

And I didn’t just love it. Don’t get me wrong, there were some funny and weird moments that I enjoyed. I probably would have enjoyed this even more if I had watched it with a bunch of buddies and beer or had I watched it back in the 90s.  But, let’s not dwell on what I didn’t like, I’ll talk about some of the stuff I enjoyed.

I liked the leads well enough. Timothy Balme as Lionel was suitably awkward and Diana Peñalver was adorable and cute as Paquita. The crux of the story is an interesting origin for the zombie plague. It all starts with a rare mutant animal called a Sumatran Rat-Monkey that is created by plague rats raping tree monkeys. Yes, you read that right. One of these disgusting looking Rat-Monkeys is, mistakenly, I think, shipped to a zoo in New Zealand.

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In New Zealand, awkward and nebish Lionel meets Paquita who fall in love, but Lionel’s overbearing mother disapproves.  While spying on the couple at the zoo, Lionel’s mother is bitten by the Rat-Monkey and turns into a flesh eating undead monster.  Everyone else thinks she dies, but Lionel secretly keeps her in his basement along with a live-in nurse who the mother also turned into a monster.  Soon, other victims become monsters and are put in the basement.  Eventually it gets out of hand when Lionel’s shady uncle shows up looking to get a share of Lionel’s inheritance.

That’s only like half the plot.  So much goes on that’s weird and nearly indescribable.  You really have to see it.

At one point, Lionel is attacked by a group of punks in the graveyard.  His mom attacks them, turns them into monsters and then a priest shows up and famously shouts, “I kick ass for the Lord” and uses karate to kick the monsters’ collective asses.  It’s a pretty great scene.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: IDW’s Infestation event (2011)

Posted in monsters, pop culture, vampires, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 17, 2013 by Paxton

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Today we are going to look at a big comic book crossover event from 2011 done by the publisher IDW. It was called Infestation.

IDW Infestation

The crossover involved four of IDW’s licensed properties; Ghostbusters, Star Trek, Transformers and GI Joe, and one of their own titles; CVO: Covert Vampiric Operations.  On the outset, it was exciting to me because I wanted to know how the hell they were going to combine universes.  Would Kirk meet Optimus Prime?  Would GI Joe try to recruit Egon?  The concept brimmed with potential awesomeness.

In case you aren’t familiar, CVO is a group of vampires and other magical beings that work for a clandestine group in the government who fight supernatural attacks on Earth. It’s a pretty cool concept and the group is pretty cool. The story begins at a hidden weapons base in New Mexico. An interdimensional being called the Undermind tries to take over our world. The Undermind is a supernatural entity that takes over beings and turns them into, essentially, zombies who do his bidding. A vampire member of the team, Britt, is bitten by a zombie and becomes a vampire/zombie hybrid. The Undermind uses her dual supernatural nature to make her supremely powerful at wielding magic. Britt opens up portals in four other universes and minions of the Undermind escape into each. We soon discover that each of these portals leads to the worlds of Ghostbusters, Star Trek, GI Joe and Transformers.

Here’s a pic of Britt in her all powerful vampire/zombie form.

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In each of the universes the Undermind attacks, an analog of Britt appears. You can see the analogs in the margins of this picture. So in the Transformers universe, Britt actually becomes this weird looking human-faced Transformer (upper left).

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Marvel’s Simon Garth: The Zombie!

Posted in comic books, monsters, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2013 by Paxton

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In 1953, the forerunner of Marvel Comics, Atlas Comics, released the fifth issue of their horror anthology title, Menace.

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In this issue, in a standalone story written by Stan Lee and drawn by Bill Everett was the debut of a character known only as, The Zombie.

The Zombie

The short story offered no background, just the simple setup of a zombie walking the swamps who is controlled by a mysterious evil man in a hidden cabin. After the story first appeared the character sort of disappeared.

Then in 1974, editor Roy Thomas plucked the character from obscurity and made him the star of his very own horror themed magazine called Tales of the Zombie.

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The magazine re-printed Lee’s original Menace story, but then Thomas had Steve Gerber and Joe Buscema craft a prologue story, Altar of the Damned, to fill out the zombie backstory and give the character a name; Simon Garth. Gerber and Buscema then did another story called Night of the Walking Dead to continue the character’s adventures forward.

New stories in each issue of the magazine were mostly done by Steve Gerber and Pablo Marcos.  Other notable contributers included Doug Moench and Chris Claremont.  Simon Garth’s final appearance in this magazine would be in issue 9 which awesomely culminated in a story arc at his daughter’s wedding.

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The magazine would actually go release issue 10, but it featured the character Brother Voodoo and not Simon Garth.

Since the 70s, Simon has popped up in appearances all over the Marvel Universe including Spider-Man, Blade, Dracula and, most recently, was a main character in Marvel Zombies 4.

He’s not had his own series again, but he did get a few mini-series in 2007 under the Marvel MAX imprint.


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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: The Plague of the Zombies (1966)

Posted in Halloween, holiday, monsters, movies, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 15, 2013 by Paxton

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I am a huge fan of Hammer’s gothic horror movies so I try to incorporate them in every one of my AWESOME-tober-fest celebrations.  This year, I get to include their one crack at a zombie movie, The Plague of the Zombies.

By the mid 60s, Hammer Studios had run out of Universal horror movies to remake, so they had to start coming up with their own stuff.  Hammer decided to do a movie based on the voodoo concept of the zombie.  They took inspiration from the 1932 Bela Lugosi movie, White Zombie.  So, in 1966, two years before Romero’s genre defining Night of the Living Dead, Hammer released The Plague of the Zombies. Plague of the Zombies Hammer’s zombies, like most zombie movies before it, were created through voodoo and black magic. They are the undead, but they aren’t quite the cannibalistic walking dead you’re familiar with. They are just, “the walking dead”, period. No brain/flesh eating whatsoever.  They are animated by black magic to do the bidding of the witch who resurrected them.

Here are the title screens.

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The movie starts with with a voodoo ceremony. We see the grand wizard there in his royal getup. The scene is underscored by this rhythmic drumming that is being performed by actual natives. Presumably from Haiti, as we learn later that this is where our movie’s particular voodoo comes from. Check out that drummer. He is COMMITTED to this role. Get used to this Haitian drummer. He and his friends (there are about three of them) will show up throughout the movie.

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An elderly doctor summoned by one of his former students to a small town to help him diagnose and help stop a rash of people dying with odd symptoms.  It seems people have been dying and no one can figure out why.  Least of all the young doctor.

So the old doctor’s daughter convinces him to travel to the village to help and at the same time they visit an old friend of the daughter who happens to be married to the young doctor.  Things and people seem strange in the village, which they discover is run mostly by a wealthy squire.  The doctor and pupil investigate the deaths and uncover many crazy goings on all tied to the enigmatic squire.

That’s the basic setup.  Two doctors investigating strange deaths in a small town.  Not much else going on.  The actors are fairly good, but none of the Hammer regulars are in attendance (ie Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, David Prowse).

Let’s take a look at a few screenshots from the movie.

Here are the good doctor and his former pupil during their investigations of the town.

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The only attractive woman in the movie is the young doctor’s wife who dies very early on.

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The squire in charge of the town looks an awful lot like Guy Pearce.

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Here’s another shot of the voodoo zombie ritual including the gussied up Grand Wizard. Oh, and there are those drummers again. And they are a-drummin’. Hammer Studios must have gotten a good deal on them.

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The young doctor’s wife turns out to be a victim of Guy Pearce up there. So she dramatically returns from the dead. I like the zombie makeup they use. Looks pretty creepy.  Very similar to the Exorcist makeup (scratch that, reverse it.  This movie came first).

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I read in a few places where the 1985 movie Return of the Living Dead claims to have originated the “zombie clawing itself out of the grave” shot. However, here in 1966, Hammer did it first.

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This was a neat movie. Cool to see this version of zombies two years before Romero released his classic. I like this movie, but I like most all of Hammer’s movies. I like their style and atmosphere. Just something about these Hammer movies are fun and interesting to watch. The colors are always vibrant and the sets are greatly designed.  However, I’m not going to lie, the movie is a bit dull in the middle.  They try to explain the Haiti and voodoo away in some fast exposition and there are other characters showing up that aren’t really explained.  This caused a bit of confusion for me.

However, that aside, while this isn’t as engrossing as either of Hammer’s first Dracula or Frankenstein movies, it’s still pretty good.


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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Marvel Zombies (2005-current)

Posted in comic books, monsters, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2013 by Paxton

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In Dec 2005, Marvel published a 5 issue mini-series written by Robert Kirkman and drawn by Sean Phillips called Marvel Zombies. It was essentially an “alternate universe” tale about the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe contracting a virus that turned them all into zombies.

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The whole idea originated in a story arc in Ultimate Fantastic Four issues 21-23 (Sep 2005).  Reed Richards is tricked by a duplicate of himself from another dimension into bringing over him and his alternate dimension FF teammates.  Turns out, that version of the Fantastic Four is actually infected with a super-virus that turned them into zombies and their dimension has run out of their food source; brains and human flesh.  The Zombie Four wish to enter this new dimension that is full of tasty brains to eat.  Reed and the Ultimate FF defeat the zombies, but only barely and only with the help of Victor Von Doom.

The Marvel Zombies mini begins on this alternate universe of Marvel Heroes a small while after the Crossover story arc.  Some of the details before this story arc would be fleshed out in a later one-shot written by Robert Kirkman called Marvel Zombies: Dead Days.  But the first Marvel Zombies series takes placed right after Crossover.

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Magneto destroys the cross dimensional portal that Reed used during the Crossover story to bring the zombie FF over to the other dimension. Magneto is then killed by all of the zombies. The Silver Surfer arrives on the planet to announce Galactus’ arrival, but he too is overwhelmed and killed by the zombies who then each absorb some of the Surfer’s Power Cosmic. The zombies with the Power Cosmic kill and devour the non-powered zombies to remove the competition for food. Galactus arrives and barely fights off the zombie hordes. Giant-Man, Iron Man and Bruce Banner develop a machine to harness and increase the Power Cosmic they all have and they use this to finally injure and devour Galactus. Galactus’ power is absorbed by the surviving group of zombies who use this power to leave the planet and start scouring the Universe for planets with more food.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I read this but it’s pretty awesome.  I discovered Robert Kirkman first through his Astounding Wolf-Man and Invincible comics.  I knew about Marvel Zombies, but when I discovered Kirkman wrote the first two mini-series, I grabbed both of them as well as the Dead Days prequel and devoured them (pun intended) immediately.  These first Kirkman produced books are nothing short of amazing in their storytelling.  I can’t recommend them enough.

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(Via Comic Vine)

There were several non-Kirkman sequels after Marvel Zombies 2.  Marvel Zombies 3 (2008) and 4 (2009) were written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Kev Walker.  They are appropriately over-the-top and fun.  Part 3 has the character of Machine Man as it’s protagonist and Part 4 uses the Midnight Sons (Morbius, Man-Thing, Werewolf by Night, Damien Hellstrom and Jennifer Kale).  Now that I’m looking it up, it seems Van Lente actually also wrote a Marvel Zombies 5 in 2010.  I haven’t read that one, but 3 and 4 are fun and zany stories that don’t aspire (nor really need to) to the scope of the first two mini-series.  Plus, it could be that the concept is spreading itself a little thin by the third sequel.

After this a collection of one-shots were released called Marvel Zombies Return as well as Marvel Zombies Supreme and a one shot called Evil Evolution which is a crossover between Marvel Zombies and Marvel Apes.  So yeah, Marvel is milking the hell out of this zombies thing, but it’s still really popular.  And I keep reading them, for sure.  I’ll definitely continue on with part 5.


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