Sunday, October 31, 2010

Gore Shriek vol. 2, issue 2 (1990) - comic book review

Happy Halloween! (countdown ends!)

Halloween is here! I bet you thought I'd forgot about you, oh gentle blog reader! Not so! In spite of my coffee grinder going on the fritz this morning and nursing a bit of a hang over from haunted housing and horror movie watching last night (and whiskey), I'm still throwing Necrodeath's "Into The Macabre" on my record player, snacking on some fun sized snickers and taking the time out of my Halloween (the most precious day of the year) to wrap up my Halloween horror comic countdown for you, as promised! Never let it be said that the Fright Zone doesn't see it's features through to the boring, long winded end!

The repulsively random Halloween horror comic countdown comes to a head today with another blindly chosen horror comic from my long boxes of terror...
so pour yourself a PBR and tomato juice, light your jack o' lantern, don't forget to don your Silver Shamrock halloween mask (I'm partial to the witch myself), throw some John Carpenter on the ol' turn table and get ready to read (about) some horror comics that are guaranteed by the Fright Zone to scare your socks off come Halloween night!

Delivering a coup d' etat with a Tom Savini zombie head shot of a bang to the countdown, we have the legendary splatterpunk answer to EC comics, FantaCo's ultra-
classic horror anthology Gore Shriek! Spewing forth off the comic racks in the early days of the 80s black and white indy comic boom (before the glut), when talent and quality
still ruled the scene, Gore Shriek shoved aside the mutant animal and ninja babe competition with the fury of an apartment neighbor awoken by the bass from a Nasty Savage thrash beat blaring from my computer room stereo at 3am (trust me, that's pretty furious).While horror fiends now speak about it with the reverence it deserves, back in the late 80s and early 90s it was more than easy to pick up the entire run (Vol 1 started in 86 and ran to 89, while Vol 2 sadly ran for only a year after it's relaunch in 1991) in the four for a dollar bin at any comic convention or local comic shop, which explains why I have multiple copies of several issues, complete with pages/panels missing that were used as artwork for walls/lockers/flyers/comp tapes/
boom boxes etc back in the days before computer scanners when cutting panels and pages from comic books was something I did on a horribly regular basis. I wasn't the only
metal head doing that shit either - the often seen Bruce Spaulding Fuller art to issue one was of course used on the genre defining classic "Flesh Ripping Sonic Torment" demo
from the greatest band to ever come out of Liverpool England (Carcass, duh) as well as thousands of bootleg Carcass shirts and patches seen at every metal fest and metal show on Earth in the past 20 years.

Over the decades since, I've re-read this series more than almost any other comic run (right up there with Marvel's Godzilla, Jack Kirby's Devil Dinosaur and DC/Alan Moore's Swamp Thing), and for good reason - every single freakin' issue is top notch cover to cover splatter-tastic 100% quality. From the AMAZING covers, the great Twilight Zone with gore story telling, the amazing pin ups, and even some text and zine style entries, this comic was equal parts amazing comic art, EC worship, splatterpunk and horror fanboy and just all around one of the best horror comics money could buy!

Sure I could go on and on about my eternal, undying love for this comic, which was a gory stomping ground for one amazing artist and writer after another including the godly likes of
Vince Locke, Bruce Spaulding Fuller, Chas Balun, Steven Bissette, Greg Capullo, and tons more, but, keeping with my self imposed rules I'm going to just focus on the one issue I pulled like a struggling squid from the inky depths of my comic boxes at random to keep this blog entry from tuning into a book - but, as luck would have it, it's the jaw unhingingly amazing Gore Shriek vol 2 #2 from 1990. This is one of my very favorite issues - and with Gore Shriek that is really saying something, since this title is pretty much the Carcass, Repulsion and Rigor Mortis of horror comics (yup, it takes all three of those bands for me to convey how great this book was in metal metaphor).

Featuring eye grabbing cover art with some kind of satanic demon dog complete with a EC-esque terrified woman in the background by series regular Bruce Spaulding Fuller (is there an issue of Gore Shriek that wouldn't make an amazing T-shirt... or poster...or tattoo... or birthday cake...or coke mirror.. or...). After you tear your eyes away from that knock out piece, you're greeted by an ass kicking pin up from late great (and greatly missed) horror artist/writer/icon Chas Balun for "Demon Brand Rum" (I would love to re-work this into a beer label someday if I can talk my wife into brewing the beer for me), that again would make an amazing poster (I'll stop remarking on that at this point in the review, as it's pretty much true of every page in every issue of Gore Shriek). A smiling cartoon-y demon peers at the reader from atop some XXX marked rum barrels as we move on to the table of contents page and ANOTHER great pin up of a creepy as fuck, wide eyed ghoul courtesy of Bruce Spaulding Fuller, using an even heavier version of his super cool style of Bernie Wrightson influneced line art. Fuck yes!

Alright, alright, sorry. The stories! First up is a top notch adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Body Snatchers" by another series regular, the super talanted writer and artist Eric Stanway. Of all the stories he did for G.S. I think this is actually my favorite, in part because the classic nature of the story makes it stand out from a lot of the other stuff in the book. The story itself is an old school style horror tale of murder and foul, ghoulish deeds in the night, and the dark, cartoony almost 70s underground comix art that seems to somehow focus every panel around characters scheming or horrified eyes fits the tone of Stevenson's story perfectly. When it finally works up to the monster reveal and then the classic pulp style ending, the panel zooms, the strange smeared ink and cross hatched backgrounds (I think that's how it's done at least) and, like I already mentioned, the characters giant, staring eyes bring the whole thing to a tense finale with a perfect balance of shlocky fun and real, honest to satan dread. Superb!

Next up, a hilarious Chas. Balun pin up ad for an imaginary cannibal/zombie flick "I Bite Your Butt/I Gulp Your Guts" (Gore Shriek, and Mr. Balun especially, were never afraid to
spill into Mad Magazine territory). The book then moves onto a great 3 page text/zine style article written by none other than Fangoria guru Anthony Timpone reminiscing about
how he got started and interested in horror writing (as you may guess, Famous Monsters of Filmland) and moves on to the start of Fangoria and some great stories concerning different
high points working on the classic horror fiend bible. Inclusion of stuff like this, not the kind of thing you would ever see in a horror comic from one of the big two comic companies back then are another part of what made Gore Shriek so special. If you were a horror fanboy in the late 80s, there really was no way you could pass up this book.

Following that, it's back to the comics with an awesome and hilarious 3 pager from Gurchain Singh that features a great Dan O'Bannon-esque zombie with allergys that sneezes itself to pieces. Then, Mr. Singh follows it up with a disturbing tale of demonic madness that is done in an awesome sketchy/cross hatched style that is so different from the previous
story in both tone and art you wouldn't realize it was the same creator if you didn't look at the name in the credits. Like I said, the level of talent that was going on in this books pages was off the charts, and the great pacing and panel layouts of this story really show that off. The page with the long thin panels and the struggling, jumping demon is so fluid it almost
pops off the page like 3-D. The last panel as well (with some obvious Brian Bolland influence) is just some great comic booking, plain and simple.

So most comics would probably call that amount of content good, but Gore Shriek adheres to the Drayton Sawyer work ethic ("Don't skimp on the meat!") and packs in yet ANOTHER amazing pin up of a grotesque "From Beyond" creature lovingly entitled "The Crudeater" that looks like something Rob Bottin would have come up with after dropping some particularly dirty LSD in the F/X shop for "The Thing". The next page features a drool inducing ad for t-shirts from comics and books such as Chas Balun's (godly) zine Deep Red, the NOTLD comic (another great book courtesy of FantaCo and Eric Stanway) and 5 different AMAZING Gore Shriek shirts, three of which my wife taunts me by wearing on a regular basis, as they look much better on her than they would on me (curse my beer gut!). Think there's any chance they still will fill this order if I send it in? (Actually, make sure you stop in to Rotten Cotton's site, they have an officially licensed Gore Shriek comics shirt coming soon featuring the amazing Fuller cover to Vol 2 issue 1).

Is it over? Nope! Like Carrie White's hand bursting from the grave, at the last minute you still get yet another great story on the inside of the back cover (!), the one page Gurchain Singh tale that wraps the book up in style with a big, pretty bow (made of intestines) that gets all court TV with the trial of Dr. Frankenstein. Like I said, Gore Shriek packs a lot of comic goodness into every issue. That 2.50 cover price is a freakin' bargin!

It's a fucking capitol crime that there hasn't been a fancy pants, collected edition of all the Gore Shrieks (especially considering the constant garbage comic books that get released in over sized 50$ hard back editions every week), but until then, you can still find this issue (as well as most of the others) for reasonable prices on ebay or at decent comic stores (sadly, the days of finding back issues at comic cons have gone the way of the sabertooth tiger as long boxes have been replaced with promo booths for shitty big budget movies), and, if you are at all a fan of horror comics, or horror in general, I can't understand what your doing reading this still. Go buy every fucking issue right now ya' simp!

Oh yeah, and Happy Halloween!

now playing -
Repulsion - "Horrified" 180 gram LP
Ennio Morricone - "Il Gatto A Nove Code" OST LP
Carcass - "Symphonies Of Sickness" gatefold LP (Earache)
King Diamond - "Abagail" 180 gram double LP
John Carpenter - "Halloween III" OST LP
Necrodeath - "Into The Macabre" LP

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Edward Lee, Brian Keene and Carlton Mellick III - book review (3 in 1!)

My favorite adjective is "cacodemoniacal" - 3 in 1 Fright Zone Halloween countdown horror novel review!

I'm breaking format today (it's my blog, fuck you) to review not one, not two, but THREE new(ish) horror/splatterpunk novels perfect for reading next to a roaring fire, half rack of PBR and a plastic jack o lantern full of double dipped Nerds. It had been a little while since I'd checked in on the amazing and magical world of splatterpunk horror fiction, so, with October approaching I poked around on the web
and picked up a few novels which I was able to burn through on a plane ride last weekend and share my oh so important opinions with you (note to readers: you get some seriously sour looks from people
if they read over your shoulder at all when you have a Ed Lee book open on your lap on an airplane). Quick side note though, I'm not going to go into the detail that
I often do, because all three books are worth checking out and I don't want to ruin the fun with horrible halloween spoilers, so hit up your local library's splatterpunk section to check these terrible tomes out today, and do not fear gentle reader, today's reviews are SPOILER FREE!!!

First off we have the king of the second wave of splatterpunk's latest offering in the form of Edward Lee's "The Innswich Horror" ($9.95, Deadite Press, TPB size small press book, got it from Of course Ed Lee is one of my all time favorite horror authors, and his earlier works like "The Bighead" and "The Ushers" will always be uber-classics of twisted psycho-sexual splatter that pushed the horror fiction genre (and splatterpunk specifically) to horrible new highs (lows?) as far as I'm concerned, which is why it pains me to admit that over the past few years his mass market paperback works have gotten a wee bit derivative and toned down. Often, they have seemed to be sort of rushed and half hearted, recycling ideas from his earlier works, as well as plot twists and some times, strangely, entire word for word passages. Don't get me wrong because there are highly enjoyable moments in stuff like "Monstrosity" and "City Infernal" but the last few books of his I read such as "The Black Train", "Golem" and "Flesh Gothic" actually felt as if he was ripping off and watering down ideas from his classics. While they were still
good reads, and from any other author I'd be more than content with those books, but Lee set the bar so high with the first batch of books I read from him that it was just a bit of a let down to see some wheel spinning going on. That's why I'm glad to say this is not the case at all with "The Innswich Horror".

The first of Edward Lee's new "Lovecraft cycle" of books, drawing inspiration from the master seems to have kicked his story telling back into high gear, because
"Innswich Horror" is fresher, leaner and meaner than anything I've read from him in quite some time. The story, which takes place shortly before the start of
World War II, centers around one Foster Morley, who is possibly the worlds first fanboy, a rich and fairly square uber-Lovecraft freak who is on a cross country trip to visit places that HPL had visited during his life for inspiration, throwing around money, spouting purple prose and constantly re-reading classic editions of his favorite Lovecraft works. The often used "Lovecraft wasn't fiction, it was a warning!" plot device is here, but before you roll your eyes, let me say that Lee manages to put his own original and fresh feeling twist on that idea (almost like he's making fun of lesser authors using that tired idea over and over), and the clash of Lovecraft style old tyme cosmic and
watery horror with Lee's twisted sex freak, porn and snuff obsessed characters that Morley enounters (yes, you get the requisite hot chick fucking a brain dead quadraplegic at some point) is original, entertaining and more than once laugh out loud funny (well, maybe not for your mom, but for me). Once the horror fully kicks in and the fairly well set up mystery starts to unravel the rather short (under 200 pages) book really starts to cook, and a few of the ending twists I definitely didn't
see coming. The ending is great in classic over the top Lee fashion, and wraps things up nicely in a old school horror 70s horror flick kind of way. If, like me, you've been waiting for Edward Lee to start firing on all cylinders again, this is one to pick up. Let's hope the rest of his "Lovecraft cycle" continues to be this caliber. I'll be along for the ride for sure.

8.5 out of 10 fucking Oscars (extra half an Oscar for the use of my favorite adjective, "cacodemoniacal". I need to work that into my day to day speech with clients at work).

Next up we have the pick of the litter with Brian Keene's AWESOME (and hilariously titled) 2006 novel "The Conqueror Worms" ($6.99, Leisure mass market paperback, get it at any book store chain). While not technically a splatterpunk author,
Keene is definitely not one to skimp on the gore, and this book definitely brings the horror goods full force. The hilarious title, goofy cover art and possibly wonky concept (giant earth worms destroy the earth) had kept this book in my "to read" pile for a few years now, but had also kept me from actually picking it up. I finally cracked it open a few days ago and let me tell you boils and ghouls, am I ever glad I did. This is one hum-dinger of post apocalypse end of the world giant monster story that will keep you reading way past your bed time. It's a shame that the post apocalypse book club I used to belong to went belly up, because this would have been a perfect choice. If you are into that genre at all, make this the next book your read fo-sho.

I'm a big fan of Keene's first novel, that I think every horror fiction freak has read by now as it was at the forefront of the zombie craze from a few years ago, his very original and well written undead apocalypse tale "The Rising" (and it's highly enjoyable sequel "City Of The Dead"), but for some reason I hadn't read anything else by him yet, but I will definitely
be amending that grievous error. I enjoyed "The Conqueror Worms" more than either of those aforementioned books by far, even though they were both great reads.

Up front, the basis of the story is this - one day it starts raining and doesn't stop... ever. The world slowly (and muddily) ends as the oceans rise, but that's just the start of things as horrors from deep below start to show up everywhere in a Plasmatic's style giant worm apocalypse (well, giant maggots, giant worms, whatever....). Huge night crawlers start to invade the main characters rural farm town as he holes up in his house, but that's just where things start to get bad for him.

I can imagine that it must of been hard for the author and publishers to not say more than that and as I read the book I was glad they did, and I'm not going to either, but that really is just the tip of the iceberg. The story is WAY more than that, and as it focuses on several different groups of survivors, you sort of get two novels in one that end up tying together for the grand finale, which is really cool and well paced, but the journey to that big ending is what the book is really about. Like I said, I don't want to spoil it, because the out-of-the-blue surprises are part of what I loved about this read, but you get all kinds of
crazy shit, from Lovecraftian weirdness and spooky sea tales, evil post apoc scavenger cults, bizarre zombies (maybe?), crazy assed monster... actually I'm gonna stop, but trust me, there's some great out of the blue monster moments in this one that will stoke you out if you love your classic pulpy horror fiction even half as much as I do.

Another thing that makes this such a page burner is that, a lot like Stephen King's early/classic work, Keene has a real knack for writing funny, realistic, everyday joe kind of characters that read as real people. A huge part of why King's early short stories as well as books like "Salem's Lot", "The Shining" and "The Stand" work so well is because once you buy into the characters - they're real people. So, not only do you actually care about what happens to them when the shit starts hitting the fan, but it also makes it a lot easier to swallow
the over the top and semi-redonkulos horror concepts that get thrown at their protagonists. This makes is fun because you can have some really crazy and/or classic horror stuff happening, but if feels like it's going on in our world, and not in a make believe movie universe. The two main story tellers in "The Conqueror Worms" (one a retired WWII vet and the other a early 30s slacker who worked at a video store before the "end") both just ring true, so when the "gruesome stuffs" start getting thrown at you, it makes it seem real, almost like if it was happening to you, and it makes you actually relate to the stress that these characters are going through. The first POV character, the elderly and likable Teddy Garnett is so relate-able, that his constant nic-fits for
some Kodiak started to actually make me want a smoke or a chew (something I haven't done in over 10 years). When he makes some poor choices at points later in the book, instead of rolling your eyes with that "why the fuck is she going in the basement/oh no white girl, don't go down there!" thing that usually happens, instead you feel like you might very well have done the same exact thing. In short, Keene is a slick writer who, like classic horror authors Robert R McCammon, Stephen King and Clive Barker, can make you actually give a fuck about his characters, something that, for as much horror as I have read over the years (trust me, it's a lot) doesn't really happen that often.

Also, I'm curious to see if anyone else reads this book, let me know if the middle section "story" gave you some for real creeps. I can't remember the last time I got such a fun, heeby jeeby vibe from something that, if I summarized here, would seem really ridiculous and not scary at all. Great writing, great read.

9.5 out of 10 fucking post Apoc Oscars

Bringing up the tail end of this menage a trois Halloween horror review is Portland resident Carlton Mellick III's brilliantly titled bizarro-horror splatterpunk-fest "Apeshit". Never having read anything by Mr. Mellick before, I have to admit that I ordered this one just because of the title. Happily, it has no problem living up to the expectations you would have from a book called "Apeshit". This is some twisted shit right here my friends!

Billing itself on the back cover and press releases as "Friday the 13th meets Visitor Q", the basic premise is the slasher movie cliche of a bunch of drunk, stoned, horny and party ready college/late high school age friends going to a remote cabin in the woods for a weekend get away. As they approach, the back road becomes littered with dead animals... an over abundance of roadkill should warn us horror fans to turn back even quicker than a crazy old guy waving an eyeball around, but they of course drive on by, and once they reach the cabin, the fun of course begins.

A parody of both splatterpunk cliches and 80s horror at the same time, this book is so fucking our there that it teeters on the fence of being unreadably ridiculous, but it somehow never falls over into the cow pasture of boring offensive for offensive sake. I totally enjoyed myself (and laughed out loud) the whole way through this short (under 200 pages) read. The mixture of extreme splatterpunk gore, beyond (so beyond!) twisted sex and downright despicable and deviant characters is so constant, unrelenting and orbiting a light year out from wherever "over the top" normally is that I think I would put this into the must read catagory for horror hounds who want to be on the
constant edge of the most extreme shit around. The cool thing is that in the midst of all of the insanely twisted (and offensive) shit/blood/gore/sex going on here, it never felt like stupid torture porn bullshit and somehow kept a funny and cool classic slasher and zombie movie/horror story vibe. I know that I'm really splitting hairs and probably being a hypocrite when I say I hate torture porn/Saw/Human Centipede type stuff but then I recommend twisted splatterpunk reads like this, but there's a classic horror vibe and fun that just is missing from that stuff that is all over the place in this book and kept me reading and laughing instead of rolling my eyes and moving on to another read.

I'm not going to go too much into the plot, since the "been there/done that" set up of the teens in a cabin is part of what makes the book work, but as crazy and ridiculous as it gets, it does have an ending that explains things (sort of) and ties it up, and I enjoyed this tightly moving book the whole way through. If you get offended easily (or even not so easily) than this is DEFINITELY not a horror novel for you, but if you laughed your way through Takashi Miike's banned "Masters of Horror" episode and loved Ed Lee's "Mr Torso" or Jack Ketchum's "Off Season" and you want to see where the edge of splatterpunk and bizarro twisted horror/sex fiction is as of 2010, than this is the book for you!

end score for "Apeshit" - 8 out of 10 fucking Oscars.

Alright folks, that's all for today. I'll be back to continue the countdown to Halloween with another horror floppy selection from the actual comic book long boxes tomorrow,
but for now make like Levar Burton and go into your local library with a visor over your eyes demanding that they get a bunch of sleazy splatterpunk books that throw around the "C" word like it's nothing and have poorly drawn monsters on the covers! See ya' next time!

now playing -
Nasty Savage - "Indulgence" LP
Pretty Maids - "Future World" LP (thanks Rob!)
Terror Squad - "Chaosdragon Rising" (why oh why is this not on vinyl?)
Ghost - "Opus Eponymous" (I can not wait for this vinyl to come out!!!)
Goblin - "The Cherry Five" LP
Nunslaughter/Blood Sick - split picture 7 inch

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tipper Gore's Comics and Stories #5 (1990) - comic book review

Halloween horror comic countdown continues...

Today's repulsively random review is for (haunted house sounding, King Diamond era Mikkey Dee drum roll please)... 1990's not so classic "Tipper Gore's Comic's and Stories" #5!

In case you're not familiar, this was a black and white anthology "horror" comic published by Revolutionary Comics, the same goofs who did those crummy comics featuring butt rock bands like Skid Row and Warrant (the Cherry Pie one obviously, although a
"The Enforcer" Warrant comic would be pretty damn cool... I love that version of "Nuns Have No Fun"! What? Oh yeah, the review. Sorry.) and mass appeal rock acts ranging from Pink Floyd to New Kids On The Block that were sold
at head shops and Sam Goody's across the country in the late 80s and early 90s, until finally (and deservedly) going belly up in the mid 90s. They made a bit of a splash by milking the press they garnered from being sued by Axl Rose, Bon Jovi and others for their unauthorized biographys, and loved to wax philosophical on all their editor pages and press releases about how they were champions of the first amendment and the Frank Zappa of independent comics, as they schlepped their over priced slick covered crap on unsuspecting and broke kids like me who could have been spending their cash on a Laaz Rockit tape, Dinosaurs Attack cards or the new issue of "Aliens", but instead got snookered into dropping the hefty (at the time) 1.95 cover price on their poly-bagged toilet paper.

Yeah, I may still be bitter since I was one of the horrorhounds who got suckered in by the pre-release hype surrounding this book and added it to my subscription pull shelf down at my local comic shop, thinking I was going to be getting a racy, bloody, heavy metal horror book along the lines of my favorites like Gore Shriek, Dead World and Dark Horse Presents. Revolutionary had hyped (in the pages of the Metallica comic they made, I didn't fucking buy the Bon Jovi one!) "TGCAS" as being a horror/EC style throwback with a name that stuck it to 80's PMRC boogey man and Dee Snyder nemesis Tipper Gore that was going to be filled with so much exploding brain splatter and chesty rocker girls that I'd have to hide it in from my mom in the back of my comics with those weird German metal mags that had Lemmy and Wurzel posing with sledge hammers and chained up topless strippers. Sadly though this was not to be.

Once the book was finally released and I picked it up on my weekly new comics day visit to Pegasus (my comic shop back in the day) I raced home and opened up the plastic bag to find that the entire budget was spent on the flashy covers (this one featuring a licensed piece from artist Robert Williams) that were the perfect lure to get zombie addicts like me to blow a crucial spot in my weekly comic budget on this crappy snooze a thon. Disappointment and buyers remorse filled the air... fool me once, right? Why the fuck I stuck it out all the way to issue 5 I really wish I could tell you, but I'm guessing the cover art was a contributing factor. The wrap around, awesome looking Robert Williams painting featuring an Alice In Wonderland looking girl being chased by a freaky, pointy metal robot in Chuck Taylor's through a dimension that consists of floating, bloody, decapitated corpses was probably just too hard for me to resist, even though at this point I knew that the stories inside where going to suck eggs. Alright, enough ancient history, let's crack this fucker open and take a look at this issues pile of steaming shit.

Upon opening, you will find "Tipper Gore's" #5 features just two measly stories, the first of which is "Rhoads Beyond", a tale of some super lame glam rock posers who hold a seance to contact Randy Rhoades, who's ghost is drawn so poorly he looks more like Susan Blu (the actress who voiced Arcee in the Transformers Movie and played the telekinetic girl's mom in Friday the 13th pt. VII). The hapless posers succeed (I guess) and one of their friends
falls to the floor and plays air guitar. He then wakes up and says he's inspired to concentrate on becoming a better guitarist! Fucking LAME. No exploding heads, no ghostly revenge, no axe murdering, no twist ending.. christ, it was 1990, seems like Randy's ghost could have at least warned these supposed metal heads about the upcoming metal ice age of the next decade! For a funny book that claims to be inspired by EC titles like "Vault Of Horror" and "Weird Tales"
this story is a huge, fart smelling whiff. Next please.

OK, If I thought that was crappy, nothing could prepare me for the horror of the next story, (and only other one in the comic) the not-so-spookily entitled "Behind Blue Eyes". Two stories for 1.95? Can you say RIP OFF? No wonder Revolutionary Comics had to pedal this garbage to burn outs buying buddah incense holders, pot leaf silk banners and Nazareth coke mirrors! Supposedly, this one is a "very special story" for the book (as the lame as fuck sounding editor rambles on and on about in the self congratulatory preface to the comic)... guess they forgot you're suppose to have an actual horror host introduce your stories, not the fucking editor!

Actually, you know what? I'm not even going to go that deep into this one
because it sucked so bad, but basically it's a ham handed and amateurishly drawn story about a guy who looks like Abe Lincoln learning about child abuse. Just
the kind of thing you want from your monster comics, right? A really serious story that involves child sexual abuse and no zombies, werewolves, spooks or specters at all!
Nice work guys.

Speaking of "Creepy" style horror hosts though, when I was reading this melodramatic junk, I was sort of hoping that when the tale ended Uncle Creepy, the Old Witch or some other horror comic bumper narrator would appear and just sort of sit there uncomfortably trying to make a pun joke with sweat running down his forehead while he smiles and adjusts his collar and tie.
"Well boys and ghouls... uh... that was certainly...uh... heh... she really got the... uh... quite a shocking... er heh heh".

Alright, end score for "Tipper Gore's Comics And Stories' #5 is 2 out 10 fucking Oscars (the 2 Oscars are just for the Robert Williams cover art, and I shouldn't even give them
that since it was part of the insidious trap that got me to buy it in the first place). Basically, this sucked so spookily bad that I threw it into the gory garbage. We can only go up from here, so let's consider this a palate cleanser for the next entry in the Fright Zone Halloween horror comic countdown!

now playing -
Autopsy - "The Tomb Within" 12 inch EP
M.A.R.S. - "Project:Driver" LP (Shrapnel Records)
Abominator - "Barbarian War Worship" double LP
Bobby Beausoleil - "Lucifer Rising" OST 4 LP box set

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monsters On The Prowl #30 (1974) - comic book review

another Halloween randomly selected horror comic review!

The Fright Zone's Halloween horror comic review countdown continues!

The next randomly selected horror comic from the Fright Zone female force field (the ceiling high pile of comic book boxes in the corner of my computer room), is the 1974 collection of pestilent parables, "Monsters On The Prowl" #30!

Just cracking open this terrible tome, whose cover warns us of the horror that is Diablo, the demon from the fifth dimension, sends a shiver down my spine, mostly due to the musty smell of rotting, cheap, thirty five year old Marvel Comics paper stock that instantly wafts through the air... dare I continue? Well, without me, who is going to give away the twisted twist endings to these
traumatic tales? Seriously though, this comic stinks extra bad... I sat it down on the table for just a minute to crack a beer and my cat
ran over and started huffing it so intensely that he made that weird "smelly" face cat's make when they find something dead, and they hang their mouth wide open and get a glazed over look in their eyes. I wish I could get a buzz from something so simple... This 22 of Ninkasi IPA cost me close to 6$!

But, I digress... you don't come here to hear about how my cat and I get high, you want to hear the skinny on some horror comics, and believe me "Monsters
On The Prowl" #30 provides the scares in full fucking force!

First off, we have the titular story "I saw Diablo - The Demon From The Fifth Dimension"! Our narrator, a handsome adventurer who for unknown reasons begins the tale in the Sierra Madre mountains is immediately warned by native Aztecs (who come off as bossy jerks which seems to be a re-occuring negative stereo type when it comes to Aztecs) about a "smoke demon" that lives in one of the mountains he wants to explore. A warning of a demon? Sounds
like superstitious bull shit to our hero. Does he care? Nope. You see, when us folks from the US of A travel around,
and the locals try and tell us what to do, we don't take kindly to it. In fact, we usually yell, buy pornography with a credit card, slather something with ketchup, and
then rudely do the EXACT OPPOSITE of what the stupid foreigners told us not to. So, just as I would have done, our protagonist heads up the mountain and, inadvertently
frees Diablo, who it turns out was exiled General Zod style from another dimension millions of years ago and had become trapped in the mountain. Diablo seems pretty proud of his rather long winded back story, because he goes into it as soon as he's freed while our hero stands there and politely listens.

So, after some enjoyable exposition, Diablo announces that he is going to destroy mankind and sets about on a VERY entertaining voyage from major city to major city, causing death and destruction in landmark after landmark, destroying armies and toppling buildings like a game of Rampage at Ground Kontrol after too many tall boys, to make our planet more comfortable for smoke based beings. Diablo happily reveals that he soon will invite all his smoke monster friends here after he finishes the prep work, and then they will all mosh, get stoned (they are smoke monsters after all), drink beer and listen to Murphys Law's "Back With A Bong" (I actually just assumed that part... for as talkative as Diablo is, he doesn't really explain why he wants all his smoke brosephs to come live here on our humble planet).

Now, our narrator, to the horror of onlooking Aztecs, suddenly jumps from his hiding place and confronts Diablo (who has inexplicably returned to the scene of his former prison, maybe to gloat?) and warns him of an amazing power all Earth-men have that can easily stop him and his kind. Diablo scoffs and threatens to crush him, but first, out of sheer amusement he demands to see the weapon. Suddenly, Diablo is high tailing it off our planet with his tail between his legs, screaming about warning his homies to avoid Earth at all cost... you see (and here comes your HORRIBLE HALLOWEEN SPOILER!) our narrator had shown Diablo his bic lighter, and quickly blown out the flame and dispelled the smoke! Yup, pretty damn clever if you ask me! You see, he knew that just because Diablo was MADE of smoke, that doesn't mean that he understands how smoke or wind works, and that most likely Diablo is an easily scared moron. A twist ending that, in my opinion, is easily worthy of the finest M. Night Shamalan movie!

Next up we have the "The Strange Fate Of The Statue Maker"! In this tale, Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad, Steve Vai, Ziltoid, etc) is a mad scientist who creates a ray gun
that turns living things to stone. He cruelly tests it out on a beautiful temp worker he found an ad for in the paper when she unwittingly shows up for what she thinks is a job interview... but, after it works and creates a once living statue, it turns out that it the girl was Devin Townsend's soul mate! Oh the bitter irony!

So, the SYL frontman decides he has to re-animate her, but, in his frantic hurry to bring her back to the land of the living, he forgets that a mirror is on the wall right behind her, a common mistake with people/monsters that turn others into stone (a plot device that those in the business call "the basilisk's blunder"). So, after activating the ray gun, it blasts both girl and mirror which ends up re-animating her but... (HORRIBLE HALLOWEEN SPOILER ALERT!) turning himself into a statue!

The story ends with the beautiful 50s looking babe wondering why no one is here for the job interview... and what the deal is with the strange Devin Townsend statue it the corner! Ah, just deserts! How petrifyingly perfect! Not only did this story chill me to my very core, but it also made me think about Gene Hoglan and wish I had "Darkness Descends" on vinyl. How stupid is it that I don't have that record? I call myself a thrash fan... pitiful! Maybe I will spookily order that fancy 180 gram version of it sometime soon... moo-hahahaha! (evil laughter).

On the next page, we find an ad for an "exciting, romantic and impressive" looking set of fake facial hair you can order for a unbelievably low price! Now, my significant other doesn't really like it when I forget to shave for very long (she claims it feels scratchy, and that it looks gross), and I have to admit, that I've never been able to grow that impressive of a beard and mustache. Considering how amazing this set looks in the artists rendition (you get the full beard, moustache and van dyke set for only 6$!), and that it easily applies so you can wear it as is, or trim it to a personal style, I think I may
just order it. I have a feeling Abby's tune might change when she see's me with a full, 70s cop style solid black mustache, sideburns and van dyke! Plus, the next time I have a job interview or jury duty or what not, I think that having the confidence that comes with a strong, solid set of spirit gum applied facial hair might be just the thing that will allow me to stand up and get people to finally give me the respect that I deserve! Anyways, if anyone is interested go ahead and let me know in the comments section, I'll let you know how it goes, I'll probably order later today.

Lastly, but most certainly not leastly, we have the Arthur Machen-esque tale of "The Little People" a 3 page story in which two FBI agents travel to Ireland to investigate reports of "little people" in the hills. This story is actually the basis of the second X-files movie (the one that had Billy Connoly in it as a pedophile leprechaun), and if you've seen that movie, it's a pretty faithful translation of this story. The agents spot some little people, but they escape, and then the feds encounter an old man who whittles tiny statues. They figure that he must somehow make the statues come to life (a natural assumption), so they arrest him and take him back to Gitmo. This all happens in about 5 break kneck panels. No sense beating around the bush when you have a story that can move along at a freight train clip like this one does!

Anyhoo, once there, they keep him under constant observation as he whittles tiny figurine after tiny figurine, but, to the FBI agents dismay, strangely none of them come to life. Alright, get ready for the twist! (HORRIBLE HALLOWEEN SPOILER ALERT!) The little people they saw were actually LEPRECHAUNS! Not only that, but the leprechauns took the tiny statues and used them for a world famous (among leprechauns and brownies) art gallery! Pretty good twist ending, huh? I think the X-files movie changed that ending a bit actually (stupid suits always fucking things up), but let's hope the dvd restored this original twist ending from the comic story.

In the end I give "Monsters On The Prowl" # 30 a positive score of 8 out of 10 fucking Oscars. Hope you're paying attention M. Knight, because right here, this is how you a do a twist ending! Alright gentle reader, until next time, head out to your local Barnes and Nobles or Borders and grab a copy of "MOTP" 30 today before they're all gone! Perfect Fright Zone approved Halloween reading!

now playing -
Lizzy Borden - "Love You To Pieces" LP
Machetazo - "Necrocovered" 10 inch EP (Parasitic Records)
The Golers - "2nd Generation" LP

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Walking Dead #1 (1989) - comic book review

Get ready for AMC's The Walking Dead... with a review of Walking Dead #1!

Alright all you boils and ghouls out in internet land, I've descended into the Fright Zone crypt of creeps (the corner of my computer room, next to my books and records) and reached into the ancient, cob web coated and weather stained long boxes (of terror) and randomly pulled 31 putrescent
plastic bag entombed horror comics to review for your Halloween dis-pleasure!

Today's selection is... The Walking Dead #1!

Well, I'm sure by now you've heard all the hubub and hullabaloo about the exciting new horror series from AMC, the network that
brings you "Madmen" and "Rubicon", (those TV shows that you're to stupid to follow and yet you still watch) The Walking Dead!
Well, the thing that not everyone knows is that before director wunderkind Frank Darabont (Shawshank Redemtion/The Green Mile) decided to bring this epic zombie struggle to your boob tube,
"The Walking Dead" was an obscure comic book published by Airral Comics! Yup, and I just found the first issue of it buried in one of my creepy old long boxes and
decided to read it and bring back a Ol' Hallow's Eve report for all of you... and let me say, this is going to be one hell of a TV series!

The comic is the creation of one JW Somerville, the not really that talented artist and writer, but what he lacks in talent, he more than makes up for in zombies! The Walking Dead
tells the blood curdlingly cliched tale of an alien spaceship crashing into the very middle of our nations capitol (Washington DC), and spilling out a strange chemical that affects
recently deceased human corpses... and brings them back to life! Not just walking and feasting on the living, but talking, driving cars and forming a biker gang called "Kidz From Hell"! I haven't seen this many
fucked up looking dudes in shitty denim vests since the last time I was at Wacken! Hey-o!

Seriously though folks, I can't wait to see how AMC and Mr. Darabont pull
off all of my favorite talking zombies from the comic, like "Jak Crak", "Slak Jaw" and best of all "Warp Rap"! Yup, you guessed it, a rapping zombie!
Fuck your fast zombies from your fancy new "Dawn Of The Dead" re-make, the "Walking Dead" zombies rap! It's some pretty good rhymes too as far as it goes,
I actually imagined it with kind of a 86 Chicago Bears meets the Suger Hill Gang sound, but we'll see the direction the live action version decided to go with. I'm positive
the rapping zombie will make it into the TV show, because that scene is pretty much the centerpiece of the entire issue.

Sure, the whole zombie thing might seem a little over done of late, but this is a fresh, new spin that is really going to get people to stand up and take
notice! In fact, I'd be willing to wager if the TV show is anything like the comic, there's a few more Emmys headed AMC's way come next award season!
Now, as if just the "Kidz From Hell" zombie gang wasn't enough, we also get a human resistance, lead by "Joe" and "Kris" and "Max", who are
introduced in a slam-bang violent action scene wherein Joe runs down a zombie with his car, and then each character quickly calls each other by name so the
readers can follow along and tell them apart (after all, the art isn't that great). I've been told that Joe, the bad ass black dude and leader of the human resistance
is going to be played by the amazing Bobby Rhodes, who you may remember as the pimp in the classic Italian horror flick "Demons"! Unfortunately, it was
myself that told me he's going to possibly be in Walking Dead, so we'll have to wait and see if it's true, but it's a definite and very exciting possibility!

Well, I don't want to give away too many spoilers, but after reading "The Walking Dead" #1, I can safely say that come Halloween night, we are all going to
have a great new zombie epic unlike anything seen in the genre before to feast our eyes on, and AMC and Frank Darabont are going to have another big hit
on their hands! Shamble on over to your local new stand and pick up a copy of "The Walking Dead" #1 from Airrel comics today, or wherever black and white glut comics
from the late 80s are sold!

4 out of 10 fucking Oscars

now playing - Nocturnal Graves - "Satan's Cross" LP
Wild Dogs - "Reign Of Terror" LP
Goblin - "Alien Contamination" OST

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

editorial - The irony of going ape for Pink Bubbles Go Ape, or, when metal was uncool records were cheaper

a short rant, by Ryan

Seriously though, no one but me wants these albums on vinyl, and yet they've been peering at me from the top of my "want" list for way too long... how can I not have found them (for a reasonable price) by now? Sure..., some of these bands are well loved in certain (albeit small) circles, but these are the albums they put out that no body but me every listens to for crisake! Yeah, every metal head or thrasher wants a copy of Intruder "Higher Form of Killing" or Destruction "Infernal Overkill" but nobody but me is pining away for "Psycho Savant" or "Cracked Brain"... These are the records that people are always all "Yeah, I didn't really dig them as much on that one..."

Now, for the most part, I know if you look often enough you see them on eBay (you don't have to send me 30 links after you read this), but I just don't think it's fair that I should have to pay some hipster record shop back east 35$ for one of these on eBay just because the record looks metal and metal is popular with record collectors now... I should be able to find Toxik "Think This" in the 5$ bin godammit! It's not like it's freakin' "World Circus" or something! Hell, a couple of these I'd even pay a crummy eBay price for if I could just find a copy period! Are you listening hipster record stores? If you have that Lawnmower Deth LP, you have me by the balls!
Just hook me up and get back to working on your Decemberists display!

I gotta' be the only guy checking for these first thing when I stumble into a record store or start searching around eBay after a couple beers... Oh metal gods, why do you mock me, your humble servant, in such a cruel manner? Why I ask? Why???

Xentrix - "For Whose Advantage?"
Lawnmower Deth - "Return Of The Metal Bozo Clowns"

Ludachrist - "Powertrip"

Toxik - "Think This"

Evil Dead - "The Underworld"

Atrophy - "Violent By Nature"
Helloween - "Pink Bubbles Go Ape"

Onslaught - "In Search Of Sanity"

Viking - "Man Of Straw"

Poltergeist - "Depression"
Intruder - "Psycho Savant"

M.O.D. - "Gross Misconduct"

Assassin - "Interstellar Experience"