Thursday, May 22, 2008

EERIE Comics

EERIE COMICS (1966 - 1983)

Eerie was a magazine of horror comics introduced in 1966 by Warren Publishing. Stories were introduced by the host character, Cousin Eerie (who was drawn by Tales From The Crypt artist Jack Davis) and its sister publications were Creepy and Vampirella. The cover art stood out from other horror comics because of its great detail, fusing elements of horror and sci-fi over the course of the comic's 17 year lifespan.

The first issue in 1966 was black & white and produced over-night, hitting newsstands in limited numbers at only 35 cents a copy (color stories would not appear until 1974). Contrary to rumor, the comic was created not to rival Creepy, but rather to be its adversary. Unlike other comics of the time, Eerie was driven by reoccurring series, rather than a collection of short stories. The series went on to publish 139 issues, finally calling it quits in 1983 when Warren Publishing filed for bankruptcy. Art from the Eerie comics, inspired by EC's Tales From The Crypt comics printed in the 1950's, is some of my favorite horror work of all time, as it laid the foundation for all other horror publications to come.

Check out Eerie covers #1-31 here.

Horror Hospital: Movie Review #17


Brittlehouse Manor is more than just a health resort for young people - it is the laboratory of the deranged Doctor Storm, whose experiments in brain surgery create an army of household zombie slaves. Unsuspecting visitors arrive at the Manor through the recommendation of a travel agent, and they soon fall victim to Storm's scalpel. Played by Michael Gough (The Legend of Hell House 1973; more recently, Corpse Bride, 2005) the Doctor drives around with his sidekick, a midget named Frederick, decapitating escapees with a long blade that extends from the driver's side of his car and catches the head in a potato sack. No more needs to be said - watch this movie immediately. I give Horror Hospital 5 toes.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Drive Thru: Movie Review #16


Hungry for a killer meal? Drive Thru is another roller coaster of a killer clown movie and one of my personal faves since Killer Klownz From Outer Space. The film opens in Orange County CA with a crew of white wanna-be gangsters craving HellaBurger, and when they roll up to a dark drive thru joint that resembles Jack in the Box, all "hell" literally breaks loose. Our villain Horny The Clown appears within the first 3 minutes with very little buildup or suspense, fully decked out in a Hot Topic evil clown get-up to wreak havoc on the hip-hoppers, killing all of them before the credits even roll (notable here is the "face in the deep frier" kill scene).

The lead role of Mackenzie Carpenter (played by Leighton Meester, your typical 20 year old playing 17, who later strips down to her black underwear and made me feel like a pedophile for smiling) kicks off the film by turning down her boyfriend who wants sex, claiming that she'll be "18 next week." Classic! At a rockin high-school house party, Mackenzie and a bunch of kids play with a Ouija board, asking what will happen to their boring lives. After receiving a creepy message from the board that tells the license plate of the now-dead white boys, they are later haunted by even creepier messages from a magic 8-ball, of all things!

Mackenzie then works late in the yearbook office and hangs with Lenny the Janitor (the best character in the film) who claims he has to "pull a brown gator thats cloggin up the staff shitter." After an uncomfortable encounter with Lenny she develops her film, revealing images of Horny committing the previous murders. She is chased down by the clown and ends up in the school gym, where Horny blows up her girlfriend's head in a microwave. The kill scenes are great in this film and Wikipedia did a great job of outlining them for us:

Tony - face burned by Deep Fryer
Brandon Meeks - slashed in the stomach off-screen
Brittany - axed in the head
Tiffa - killed off-screen
Val - face placed in microwave and head explodes
Lenny - hanged from the bathroom ceiling
Chad Baldwin - head decapitated
Tina McCandless - slashed numerous of time off-screen
Spany - axed in the head
Chuck Taylor - head bashed by an axe
Starfire - hand and head decapitation
Van - sliced in half by a machete
Detective Crockers - axed through the windshield of his car

The Town of Blanca Carne is soon under siege by Horny, who drops a series of terrible one-liners over noisy death metal before wielding his obviously rubber hatchet. Mackenzie's Mom is the genius that puts two and two together - remembering how her and her friends killed Archie Benjamin, the face of HellaBurger, when they were young. Archie, now resurrected as Horny, seeks revenge on the children of these guilty parents. Wow, how original . . .

The movie makes up for its awful acting and poor plot with some great humor - after discovering that Horny The Clown is really a killer, the kids claim "it's like finding out Captain Kangaroo's got pieces of Mr. Green Jeans in his freezer." And I love the TV commercials from HellaBurger that show sexy girls eating chicken wings! There's also a great cameo from Morgan Spurlock (creator of Super Size Me) who plays a HellaBurger employee. The movie is definitely in my top ten worst clown horrors of all time, and I give Drive Thru 4 toes.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Creature From The Black Lagoon: Movie Review #15


The Universal Monsters of the 1950's were the foundation for all of our modern day horrors. I remember watching this film as a boy, fascinated by the Creature who lived underwater. Watching the movie 20 years later, I couldn't help but find the man in the fish suit somewhat ridiculous. Something so scary as a child had no affect on me as a grown man. However, this film and this particular monster was the inspiration for my alias on The Big Toe Blog, so I guess I have indeed been affected by the film even today. Just the word "creature" raises the hair on my arms, a term I find identity with, a simple word that embodies all that I enjoy. Horror and monsters have always been an obsession for me, and I owe a great deal of that to the Creature and this film.

It's quite amazing how simple and straight-forward horror was in the 1950's. Creature From The Black Lagoon was shot in black and white in the supposed Amazon, where a team of archaeologists uncover the bones of a creature's hand. They gather a larger crew and financial backing to take the dig even further, hoping to discover a new species. The expedition takes them to the Black Lagoon, which men have entered but never returned according to legend. One by one, the team is soon terrorized by the Creature, a blueprint for the plot of the horror genre for years to come.

The underwater camerawork is impressive for such primitive times in cinema, and several close calls beneath the surface are the main sources of suspense and tension in the film. When our lovely leading lady Julia Adams is swimming in the lagoon (in a sexy one piece white suit, I might add) the Creature treads water beneath her, inches from her heels. Every time the Creature appears on screen we are bombarded with an intense orchestra sound, which is kind of like his on-screen entrance theme. Much like our present killers in horror films, the Creature takes a lickin and keeps on tickin. Throughout the film he is shot with harpoons, the lagoon water is drugged, he is taken captive by the crew, set on fire, but keeps on truckin. The team, determined to document their find, go up against the Creature above and below the surface, cumulating in several intense underwater battles. The Creature supposedly falls in love with Adams' character (Kay), kidnapping her to his cave, where she is of course eventually rescued and the Creature escapes back into the depths . . . or does he?

Rent this movie and get educated. It's a timeless film and entertaining from start to finish, if you can bear with the fish costume. Of course I give Creature From The Black Lagoon 5 toes!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Killer Klownz From Outer Space: Movie Review #14


This is the movie that started it all. I remember watching it on cable over and over as a kid, and it still remains one of my favorite horror flicks of all time. Taking the common fear of clowns to a whole new level, The Chiodo Brothers used creepy clown puppets to craft a story that has become a classic in B movie horror. The storyline is ridiculous - a UFO-like circus tent lands in a field in the middle of nowhere, signalling the attack of balloon-twisting pyschos from another dimension. The clowns terrorize the town, turning their victims into cotton candy cocoons and drinking their blood through twisty straws. The Chiodo Brothers went on to create puppets for movies like Critters (1986) and Team America (2006), but Killer Klownz is, in my opinion, their best work. Many have tried to imitate the film, but none have succeeded in outdoing it. I give the film 5 toes and it still holds the number 1 spot in my top ten horror movies involving clowns.

Cryptic Art by Unkle Pigors

The latest book of art from the sick and demented mind of Unkle Pigors is now available courtesy of Baby Tattoo Books. Filled with disturbing cartoon-like images in vivid color, every page is splattered with his signature style. Pigors himself encourages you to "pick your new tattoo from this book" and I must say, I'm tempted to do an entire sleeve of this guy's work. He's got a pretty neat website too, with all kinda of cool merchandise, my favorite being the Spookhouse DVD. Click here to view the trailer.

Video Violence: Movie Review #13

VIDEO VIOLENCE 1 & 2 (1987)

When renting is not enough!

The 80's were wonderful! Not only did we get to see slasher films at their peak, but there is a wealth of really awful low budget films to dig up from this decade. Video Violence come to us from Little Zach Productions, a small film company responsible for only 1 other film. These are two of the worst movies I have ever seen, and I mean that in a good way (worth mentioning is that both films are on the same DVD, released in 2007 at the bargain price of only $13).

In the first film a couple open a video store in a small town, only to find that their customers exclusively rent horror and porn (what else is there really?). It all goes downhill when an unmarked tape gets returned to the store, showing the local postman being butchered on camera by two local murderers, Howard and Eli. Part 1 is rather boring, but the sequel comes through on all fronts.

In Part 2 Howard and Eli broadcast their own pirate TV show from an undisclosed location, gathering a cult following of splatter fans who submit their own homemade snuff films. It's like a twisted America's Funniest Home Videos, where the two killers introduce the video submissions all while slicing and dicing a naked woman on the set for the entire film. Videos are submitted by a husband and wife who electrocute a man in their basement, using a homemade electric chair. A trio of half naked college girls order a pizza and hack the delivery boy to pieces after getting him stoned and drunk. A hysterical commercial break about a pet named Wilbur, who parents can buy at the local pet shop to "do their dirty work" (aka kill their children). The movie is maniacal, the gore is low budget and over the top, the acting will make you cringe, and the music is completely ridiculous. I give Video Violence 4 toes.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Pigeons From Hell #1: New comic from Dark Horse


Brought to us by the wonderful people over at Dark Horse comics, Pigeons from Hell is a new release of the classic Robert E. Howard story, written with a fresh new take by Joe R. Lansdale and illustrated by the young & talented Nathan Fox. Set in the deep south, a group of friends pay a visit to a house with a family history, and plenty of secrets. Neglected for years, an entire room of the house is filled with dead pigeons and has a frightening cold presence, even with the hot summer heat outside. Other than that, we are given very little information in this first issue, and I was left with an uneasy feeling after reading it. The dark & subtle tones brought forth by Fox and the mystery of the old house leave you both wanting more and feeling uneasy. I wouldn't necessarily call this a "horror" comic (issue 2 may prove me wrong), but there is definitely an aura of haunting. My only gripe is the comic was over before it started, so needless to say I can't wait for issue two to find out more . . .

Purchase a copy of Pigeons from Hell here. And make sure you pre-order the Uncle Creepy statue while you're at it. Thank you Dark Horse for two amazing items in 2008!

Twisted Tales Comics

TWISTED TALES (1982 - 1984)

Pictured left is the first issue of Twisted Tales, which only pushed out 8 issues and was published by Pacific Comics in the early 80's, with an additional 2 more by Eclipse when Pacific went bankrupt. The brains behind the operation was one man by the name of Bruce Jones, who wrote all but 3 of the stories and had also spent some time scripting Creepy and Eerie years prior. I remember grabbing 5 of the 8 issues at the same comic shop where I got my Tales From The Crypt fix, which coincidentally was the comic that inspired Jones to create Twisted.

The difference between the two is that Twisted Tales often had "twists" at the end of each story and the illustration was laced with nudity, which was basically non-existent in the EC comics. Take a look at the cover on the left - a half naked woman with huge tits having her dress pulled off by the walking dead. What more could a 10-year old boy ask for? I remember coming home from the comic shop with issues of Twisted Tales and the EC reprints tucked inside the latest Marvel release, so my Mom wouldn't see how I was spending my paper route money. Being too young to rent horror films, I relied on these comics to scratch my horror itch. Almost 20 years later, with the help of EBay, I was finally able to complete my Twisted Tales collection by snatching up the 3 issues I missed.

The fellas over at Deadlicious have great scans of all the covers over at:

Friday, May 9, 2008

The EC Archives: Tales From The Crypt Vol. 1

Tales From The Crypt Volume 1 (2006)
Issues #1-6

My favorite comic series ever published was re-released in a hardcover edition titled The EC Archives, spread across 2 full volumes. Volume 1 includes comics #1-6 in vibrant color, with over 200 pages hosted by our dear friends The Crypt Keeper, The Vault Keeper, and The Old Witch. Reading through the volume took me back to my younger days when I would ride my bike to Count Dracula's Comic Crypt for the latest issue of Tales - you can't put a pricetag on this kind of nostalgia, so the $35 I paid for this book was worth every penny. More importantly, the illustrations are the source of my inspiration as a fellow artist and horror fanatic.

In my favorite tale, The Maestro's Hand, a talented pianist loses his hand after an accident in the kitchen. The doctor amputates the limb in an attempt to gain the love of the maestro's wife, who then commits suicide after the maestro does the same, unable to cope with the fact that he will never play the same again. The doctor then exiles himself to a remote cabin, where a package arrives with the maestro's rotting hand inside. The hand comes to life, terrorizing the doctor and eventually strangling him to death. A classic revenge story illustrated by the one and only Al Feldstein, one of my favorite horror artists of all time.

This book comes highly recommended to any comic horror fan and will make a great addition to your bookshelf, along with Volume 2 and The Vault of Horror Archives that accompany it.

The Creature Meets Zacherley Video


Here's a clip of me meeting one of my heroes, Zacherley, at the Chiller Theatre Convention in New Jersey on May 3, 2008.

PROM NIGHT: Movie Review #12


For whatever reason, I find the need to go back and view the original before going to the theater whenever a re-make comes out. I did the same with Texas Chainsaw Massacre (even though the original is one of my favorite films and I never have a problem watching it again). I would bet the Leatherface Family Ranch that the Prom Night re-make is going to be a bunch of crap just like Chainsaw was. But I’m still going to go see it. Just so I can write about it here. Who knows, maybe they will take a really boring uneventful film, mostly shot in the dark with not nearly enough gore, and turn it into something special 18 years later . . .

Prom Night begins in an abandoned school, where a group of young children taunt a girl named Robin Hammond until she falls out the window from a few stories up. She dies and the kids swear to never tell – six years later, now in High School, they are picked off one by one by someone obviously seeking revenge. That is really the movie in a nutshell – the fact that it’s prom night is rather insignificant, except for the fact that there’s a really nifty “Prom Night” theme song that plays throughout the film (it’s actually really corny and catchy so don’t fall asleep with the DVD menu running). The police are, of course, confused and assume the murderer is an escaped mental patient, who was actually present at the scene of the crime 6 years prior and attempted to outrun police. The murder was never solved, so the police decide this man is doing the killing. Even though the director is so obviously trying to sway us in the wrong direction here, I still was unable to figure out who the killer was. Maybe I was just bored and didn’t bother to try hard enough.

Speaking of police, we have an appearance by Lieutenant Frank Drebin, Police Squad (aka Leslie Nielsen), who plays Mr. Hammond, father of the murdered child and principal of the school. It’s really difficult to take this guy serious after seeing Naked Gun as many times as I have. Jamie Lee Curtis also stars as the lead role of Kim Hammond. With these popular cast members and a low budget, the film attempts to create a stalker/revenge horror flick focused around the most special night in a High School girl’s life, but quite honestly, I’d rather watch Carrie (1976) anyday (you'd think maybe Prom Night director Paul Lynch would have stolen some ideas from Brian De Palma's prom night pig-blood bath just 4 years prior . . . it might have helped here).

We get a little surprise at the end when the killer’s mask is removed, and if I remember correctly from my days of browsing the VHS titles in Pathmark there is a sequel called Hello Mary Lou Prom Night 2. But before I review Prom Night 2 I’m going to the theater to see the re-make of the first, with a review to follow.

In the meantime, I give the Prom Night original 2 toes.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Zombie Strippers: Movie Review #11


Where do I start with this one? I was walking down 34th Street in Manhattan a few weeks ago when I spotted a Grindhouse-style poster of Jenna Jameson, bearing the title “Zombie Strippers.” The fine print revealed Robert Englund as part of the cast, bringing my excitement to an even higher level. Stripper zombies, with one of my favorite faces in horror among the cast? Sold! Knowing nothing about the film, and having never seen a trailer, I was flipping through my On Demand options last night only to find the movie sitting there, the last title under “Z,” ready to be activated at the click of my remote.

The movie is exactly what the title implies – a whole lot of blood and boobs. The director Jay Lee obviously had the desire to see zombies strip, and managed to stretch the idea out across an hour and half. Think From Dusk Til Dawn meets Dawn of The Dead meets your favorite local strip-club. After being thrown into the film all too quickly (10 minutes into it I felt like I had started it in the middle by mistake), we are introduced to our world in the “very near future,” where Bush is still in office for his 4th consecutive term. We’re still at war, with not enough troops to fight, so a virus is created that brings the soldiers back to life after being killed, to fight as zombies. Cool concept, but rather unnecessary. The virus might as well have been dropped into someone’s drink at the strip club and caused an outbreak from there – the source of the virus is really irrelevant here. What we really want to see are the zombie strippers. So basically you can fast forward the first part of the film and get right to it.

After a poor attempt at transition in the plot, an infected member of the army stumbles upon an underground strip joint and manages to infect the strippers, who one by one rise from the dead to not only eat the customers alive, but also to strip for the duration of the movie. Brilliant! Even though I’m not a huge fan, Jenna Jameson looks halfway decent in the film; every stripper has their own personality – you have the down south Bible girl who strips to pay for her Granny’s medical bills, the Gothic chick, the bitchy brunette who hates the blondes for taking all the money, etc. Most of the girls end up turning into zombies, and we are left with a total bloodbath as a result.

Englund’s role in the film as the club owner is decent (although he can never really top the role of Freddy that we all love him for), and allowed for a few laughs (especially when he sprays disinfectant on the strippers every time they walk by). The real strength of the film is the fact that Lee obviously didn’t give a shit about storyline here – he just wanted an abundance of nudity and gore, which is always a plus to every splatter/horror fan. The effects are pretty awesome, especially when the Gothic stripper tells some guy “I like your tongue” and then proceeds to tear his entire face in half by the mouth, just to eat out his tongue. The movie is advertised as a “horror comedy,” and it certainly delivers both.

After all the movie reviews I've done for this blog, I realized I should be rating them as well. Moving forward, I will rate the films on a 1 to 5 basis, 5 toes being the best and 1 toe being God-awful. Keep in mind that when reviewing horror, God-awful might also imply really awesome. With that said, I give Zombie Strippers 4 toes – only reason I didn’t give it 5 was because there’s no real storyline, and creativity is key in my opinion. However, the director did do something here that we rarely get to see – just downright bloody sexy fun without all the BS! Well done, Jay Lee.

Sunday, May 4, 2008



Back in the early 80's the dynamic duo of horror Stephen King & George Romero teamed up to create a brilliant tribute to EC's Tales From The Crypt comics, with a movie to follow. I picked up a copy of this classic mag, in excellent condition, at the Chiller Theatre this past weekend and I must say, it is one of my favorite additions to my collection. Even though the idea is rather unoriginal (the host of the comic looks like the Crypt Keeper's lesser known brother and the font is a direct bite off Tales), the stories are well-written, and having seen the movie a few hundred times I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I suggest you grab a copy if you can find one and read it by candlelight.

My favorite story is Father's Day, about a man who comes back from the dead to seek revenge on his family for his death, or should i say murder. The best part of the story is that he demands his "cake" over and over, finishing the tale with a decapitated head on a platter with candles sticking out. We all know what it's like to want a piece of cake!