Thursday, October 31, 2013

Who's the Best...Scary Creature?

Karen: Of all the creatures, psychopaths, and monsters in films and TV, which one flat -out scared you the most? Who to this day still makes the hairs on the back of your neck rise a bit, even though you know "it's only a movie"?

Oh, and....


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BAB Classic -- Ploog Power: The Frankenstein Monster 6

NOTE: This post originally ran on October 29 2011

The Frankenstein Monster #6 (October 1973)
"In Search of the Last Frankenstein!"
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Plot and art: Mike Ploog

Karen: Marvel was monster-crazy in the early 70s, and Mike Ploog was the undisputed king of monster artists at the time. His work on Werewolf By Night, Ghost Rider, and Man-Thing was perfectly suited to those books. But today we're going to look at his work on another interesting, if short-lived monster book, The Frankenstein Monster. This would be Ploog's last issue of the title, but he goes out with a bang. His layouts and panel design are innovative and fresh. Of course, it goes without saying that he manages to give the story an appropriate mood and feel -much like a classic Universal film.

Karen: The Monster is seeking out the last of the Frankensteins and returns to his creator's birthplace, Ingolstadt. Before he reaches the dilapidated ancestral castle, he comes across a young lieutenant from the village. The soldier is investigating some missing prisoners and suspects they might be in the castle. Although the Monster means the man no harm, he finds himself attacked and fights back. The soldier is knocked unconscious and the Monster enters the castle.

Karen: For those of you who haven't read any issues from this series, it should be mentioned that the Monster he
re is not the dull brute of popular culture but a thoughtful and articulate being, more in line with the novel.

Karen: Inside the castle, the Mon
ster finds nothing but ruins. He's about to give up when he hears a sound and spies a group of strange men marching along a dark corridor. The men are deformed and frightening -he concludes that they must be the work of a Frankenstein. They carry a bound man, whom they drop in a pit. Suddenly a man in a uniform with a visored helmet shows up, barking orders. The Monster decides to confront him, convinced he must be his creator's descendant. The masked man sics his servants on the Monster, and despite his strength, their sheer numbers bring him down. Just before he blacks out, he falls to the edge of the pit- and sees a gigantic spider! Ploog's art here is very strong; he gives the Monster an expressive if horrific face, and the twisted men are creepy as heck. 
Karen: The Monster awakens, chained to a wall in the cellar. His captor tells him that he too will become a mindless servant; the spider feeds on men's souls, leaving them husks of men with no wills of their own. The man leaves and the Monster struggles with his chains. Ploog does a great job conveying the Monster's power as he struggles against his restraints. He manages to pull loose one of the stones he is chained to, but when he does, a stream of water squirts through a crack! The Monster is stuck to wonder whether he should risk flooding the cellar with water or waiting until the man returns to take him back to the pit. As he ponders this, the young lieutenant he faced at the beginning of our story arrives on the scene. None too bright, he accuses the chained monster of killing the missing prisoners. The Monster tells him about his captor and the spider in the pit. The soldier sees the spider but refuses to believe a Frankenstein is responsible. "Jason Frankenstein left here more than 20 years ago!"

Karen: Right at that moment the mysterious masked man re-appears with his mob of soulless men. He is quickly revealed to be the colonel in charge of the p
rison. The colonel and the lieutenant engage in a sword fight while the Monster strains to break his chains. As water begins pouring into the chamber, the spider crawls out of its pit and comes towards the two men. The colonel, completely insane, believes he can control it. The young soldier implores him to leave with him but he ignores him. The Monster urges the young man out, telling him he will take care of the spider, even if it costs him his life. With that he makes a terrific effort -it reminded me somewhat of Spider-Man's struggle to raise the giant piece of machinery that pinned him in Amazing Spider-Man #33- and the wall comes tearing apart, with a huge wave of water instantly filling the room. Ploog's depiction of the water and underwater scenes are masterful -I would have liked to see what his Sub-Mariner would have looked like!

Karen: The colonel is carried down by the weight of his helmet and drowns. But the spider survives and grabs the Monster, squeezing him and carrying him back under. After several panels the Monster manages to break free of the arachnid's clutches and he wraps his chains about it, choking off its oxygen supply. But all i
s not peachy for the Monster -he needs air and he needs it fast. Things are looking grim -can a dead man die again? - when suddenly the chamber explodes in a great water spout that hurls the Monster up and out. Now free of the castle, the Monster looks back and wonders where he will find the last Frankenstein.

Karen: This was a really solid, done in one story. T
he search for the last Frankenstein was on-going of course, but you didn't need to know what came before to enjoy this book -which is good, because I don't have issues 1-5! I know many might argue that Gene Colan was Marvel's premiere horror artist, and while I respect his work on Tomb of Dracula, he really didn't handle any of the other horror books. Ploog did nearly all of them at one time or another and his work always has the proper tone and atmosphere -there's an eeriness to his art that can't be matched. Just look at some of these characters when handled by others -obviously, Don Perlin on Werewolf comes instantly to mind. There's simply no comparison. So here's to Mike Ploog, monster artist supreme!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Discuss: Movie Serials

Doug:  As a kid, I've mentioned that I lived in Milwaukee for around 2 1/2 years and that it was a formative time for me in comics as well as films of old pulp characters.  Below you'll see an episode from King of the Rocket Men, which I saw around 40 years ago on broadcast television.  What serials have you seen and which ones do you actually own due to their influence on you?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Heroes and Horrors: X-Men 40

X-Men #40 (January 1968)
"The Mark of the Monster!"
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciller: Don Heck
Inker: George Tuska

Karen: Welcome to our final "Heroes and Horrors" review. I hope you've enjoyed this look at super-heroes
and monsters. As our last hurrah, we're digging back a little deeper -technically, into the Silver Age vault, but it's all good. It's a little tale that brings us the original X-Men and the Frankenstein Monster, before Marvel began their horror line. So here we go!

Doug:  I just want to say up front that I used this cover in a tongue-in-cheek post a few years ago concerning what the House of Ideas would have been like had Scooby-Doo worked there!

Karen: Our tale starts with our mutant team having some fun in the Danger Room after a hard-won victory over Factor Three in the previous issue. The team has just received their new uniforms recently as well, so they're also pleased with them too. As they horse around, Beast and Iceman start to come to blows when a sudden mental message from Professor X puts everything on hold. The students run down the hall to the professor's room, where their teacher begins to tell them a strange story. The Professor was carrying out some mental experiments when he intercepted some radio messages from a ship in New York harbor. The vessel was claiming to be returning from an arctic expedition carrying the frozen form of -Frankenstein's Monster!  The X-Men are incredulous but Professor X explains that he has always believed the Mary Shelley story to contain some truth, believing the Monster to be some sort of android created by a super-intelligent mutant of a bygone era. He's already checked things out with his astral form and he's able to make a mental projection of what he's seen - sure enough, the creature looks an awful lot like the Universal Studios version of the Monster, right down to the neck bolts! Boy, nowadays Universal's lawyers would be all over that. Anyway, the students are excited, and the Professor says they must get to the museum where the creature, in its block of ice, is being held. He is positive that it is still alive and could be a danger to the museum personnel.

Doug:  Which new costume did you think was the best?  While I always think the Angel (shoot, most winged characters) provided the best visuals, his costume upgrade was my least favorite -- until he switched late to the blue and white bodysuit.  I think I liked the Beast's the best, followed by Marvel Girl.  As to the early action, the All-New, All-Different team certainly had a cooler Danger Room than these guys back in the day.  Scott was his typically uptight self, and the Beast's telling him to back off seemed in character.  I thought Roy did a nice job for a new reader in framing the team's personalities early here.  I did think it was interesting (not wholly bad) that penciler Don Heck chose to use two half-faces in panels showcasing Iceman and Cyclops on page 2 of this book.  Seemed like he ran out of space!  And as long as I brought up the art, I'll say that I really cannot find much influence by George Tuska on the inks.

Karen: I would agree, I liked the Beast's the most, but none of them were particularly exciting.

Doug:  Questions:  1) What the heck are "mental experiments"? and 2) If the professor is a telepath, how could he intercept a radio message?  I thought Professor X was really powerful in this episode, more than I remembered him being from this time period.  He seemed like he was channeling a little Dr. Strange, too.

Karen: I know, when reading early Marvels, it seems like the astral projection thing crossed back and forth between being a mystical attribute and a purely mental one.

Doug:  Roy's love of literature and background as an English teacher often shines through in his writing,
doesn't it?  This issue ends up being somewhat of a promotion for the novel written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, of course until we reach Thomas's conclusion.  The introduction of the Monster was very reminiscent of Marvel's first issue of Monster of Frankenstein.

Karen: The X-Men (in their civvies), including the Professor, head down to the museum. They begin to ask the guard if they can gain entry. Now here something odd occurs. Rather than have Professor X use his mental powers to just control the guard and gain access, Professor X has Jean (Marvel Girl) use her telekinetics to push the man, causing him to fall and strike his head, knocking him out! That seems unnecessarily rough to me. In any case, it's a good thing they get inside, because one of the researchers in the museum has thawed out the Monster, and as the Professor suspected, the Monster lashes out. It should be noted however that this Monster has quite a vocabulary. After declaring that he will crush everyone like fleas, the Monster starts to make his way out of the museum backroom, when the Angel comes rushing towards him. But the Monster bats him away effortlessly. The Beast tries to take him on but can't budge the huge creature. The Monster refers to "the costumed ones" with extreme dislike, almost as if he recognizes them. Cyclops fires off his optic beams, but has little more effect than his team-mates did.  It looks like Cyke is about to get stomped when he is yanked out of the way by Jean's telekinetic grasp. This confuses the Monster for a moment, but just a moment. He then responds by firing off his own eye beams! These put down the X-Men for the count, and the Monster wanders off to carry out his uh, well, whatever it is he's planning to do.

Doug:  I had to re-read those panels where Jean knocks out the security guard.  I guess folks back in 1968 weren't as concerned about concussions as we are today.  Why didn't the Professor just pull a Jedi mind trick?  I liked Heck's Monster -- he was able to take what he must have known from the Karloff films and apply a bit of a different personality, which to me is what allowed him to very slightly separate this version from what had gone before.  But this story for me just begins to head south, and never really recovers.  It seemed like the X-Men were intentionally depowered, and of course they never would have dreamed of cooperating as a unit should -- Danger Room?  We don't need no stinkin' Danger Room!  And what of Cyke's eyebeams?  Aren't they considered assault by a deadly weapon?  The guy blasts through Sentinels with them, for Pete's sake!  Ahhh.....

Karen: The X-Men begin to recover and are confronted by the museum director, who screams at them for vandalizing his building. Not having time to deal with this, Iceman freezes the man (I hope he left him an air hole!) and they all take off, with Angel scouting ahead, looking for signs of which way the Monster went. The high-flying hero soon spots the path of the creature, with wrecked cars left in its wake. It has made its way to the docks, where it has jumped aboard a south-bound freighter. The team grabs a helicopter and lands it on the deck of the ship, upsetting the crew. They soon get things settled, mainly by beating the crew into submission, and then begin searching the ship. The Beast runs into the Monster in the cargo hold, and it chases him towards the deck, where the Angel manages to throw a lasso over him. Unfortunately for the X-Men's resident bird-man, it seems the Monster can somehow magnetize his feet to the deck! The Angel can't pull him off the deck. The Monster grabs a bunch of barrels and begins hurling them at Iceman, who freezes them in mid-air. The Monster seems especially threatened by Iceman and does his best to get him. Marvel Girl jumps in with her telekinetic power to give Bobby a break but she has little effect against the towering brute. The Professor tries to reach his android brain but with little success. Finally Iceman pops back up and begins spraying a sheath of ice over the creature, even as it struggles to be free. Suddenly the Professor tells him to cast a shield over the X-Men. He does, just as the Monster explodes! 

Doug:  Weren't the X-Men supposed to be unknown to the general public?  I've never read the complete Silver Age run, so I am showing my ignorance here.  But I thought there were very  secretive about their very existence -- it seems like in this issue they're definitely "out".  You know, you remarked above how callous it was of Jean to slam the security guard's head against the wall -- and here it sounds like the Professor just mentally coerces the pilots to give up the helicopter.  Very strange doings in this one!  And by the way, it's an ugly helicopter...  Anyway, the Monster has: super-strength, eyebeams, magnetized feet, and at least average intelligence.  Formidable, indeed.  And I guess that's why I kept asking myself, as I read this back on October 12th, if Roy shouldn't have just created a new super-baddie for this issue.  Of course, it's been documented that due to the fact that creators received no royalties in these days, Roy wasn't always forthcoming with new characters.

Karen: In the last couple of panels, the Professor explains he'd looked into the Monster's android mind and seen that he had been the creation of an alien race from a tropical word, sent to Earth to be an ambassador 150 years before, but had malfunctioned terribly. The aliens had chased him to the arctic regions, and somehow Mary Shelley must have learned of all this and written her story. What??? 

Doug:  At this point I couldn't take it any more!  I remarked to Karen in an email shortly after I finished reading this that I thought Roy might have been auditioning for a job with Silver Age DC.  This would have fit in just great in the pre-"New Look" Batman.  Is it any wonder that the X-Men teetered on the brink of cancellation in the late 1960s?  "...and somehow Mary Shelley must have learned all this and written her story."  Oh my...

Doug:  A few days after I typed my comments to Karen's framework, her post on Bigfoot, et al. ran.  And that got me to thinking -- was Roy Thomas's conclusion that the Monster should be a construct of aliens all that different from that same revelation concerning Andre the Giant's Bigfoot in the $6 Million Man?   I'm trying to remember if I found that to be a cop-out when I was 10-years old...  I know back then I really believed (well, at least was quite wary of the possibility) that Bigfoot was real.  That television show sort of ruined it for me.  I guess in the Frankenstein Monster's case, we should be glad that Marvel got it right just a few years past this story.

Karen: When Doug brought that idea up it was a real 'slap your head' moment. He was right, the two stories were incredibly similar, although of course the X-Men tale came first. I just felt like Thomas had forced two different ideas on each other. He could have had a fun Frankenstein story, or a fun alien robot story, but together, they just didn't make a whole lot of sense.  I sort of like the visuals, but there's no there there, as Gertrude Stein once said. The whole thing is goofy. I think for Heroes and Horrors month, we went 3 for 4, buddy! Not too bad. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Discuss: Donuts

Doug:  So the way I see it, the sun will kill us.  I'd like to die with a smile on my face.  Today we're talking about donuts -- and who doesn't like donuts?  Today's your day to tell your favorite kind -- is it cake donuts?  Longjohns?  Jelly-filled?  Plain ol' glazed?  Or, maybe you're one of those fancy-pants who likes sweet rolls, cinnamon rolls, and coffee cakes?  Who's hungry??

Doug:  And while you're at it, go ahead and brag on your favorite donut shop.  Is it Dunkin' Donuts?  Krispy Kreme?  Maybe your local grocery store has some killer pastries.  Got a local bakery that's worth telling about?

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Post-Apocalypse Will Have Chimps

Karen: I was right on the cusp of transitioning out of watching Saturday morning fare when Ark II came on. Its science fiction premise grabbed me: a group of young people trying to rebuild a post-apocalyptic world -and of course, the talking chimp was a big draw. Everything's better with apes, after all. It was the usual preachy fare we got in the 70s, but it looked pretty cool, and leader Jonah sometimes flew around with a jet pack! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez's Man of Steel -- Superman 308

Superman #308 (February 1977)
"This Planet Is Mine!"
Gerry Conway-Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez/Frank Springer (cover by Neal Adams)

Doug:  That's a sweet cover, isn't it?  And that dude on the kickboard looks far more interesting than the chump from Superman IV.  But, does this issue's review come to you in a more glowing fashion than did our inaugural foray into the Superman of Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez?  Let's check it out.

Doug:  When we left Superman and Supergirl, Superman had just defeated the Protector in a battle that took place immediately after Supergirl had revealed that there never was a Krypton.  Superman was under quite a bit of mental duress in dealing with Kara's revelation, and was not at the top of his game as the pollution-loving Protector had come to call on the Man of Steel in the Fortress of Solitude.  We open today with Kara flying about the Fortress destroying all of Superman's mementos, shrines, and displays honoring his homeworld.  Superman begs her to stop -- well, warns her actually, and as the two cousins argue the Protector begins to emerge from the funk he was left in several minutes earlier.  Kara tells Superman that she has film of his birthday, and of their fathers working together on atomic experiments.  But as the soap opera runs on, the Protector fires up his molecular powers and blasts between the two Kryptonians -- and out the door!  Supergirl wants to take after him, but Superman stops her.  What's the point, he asks?  Maybe the guy is right in wanting to destroy Superman.  And with that, Superman flies off to be alone and to meditate on the bombshell his cousin has dropped.  As he flies away, Supergirl pulls out a small transmitter and tells someone that the plan seems to be working -- and that she hopes it's the right thing to do.

Doug:  Superman doesn't go back to the mountain on which he'd sat in the last issue.  This time he heads to Metropolis, where he does one of the coolest costume changes I've ever seen.  You just know that suit and shoes was all tucked into his cape!  Clark Kent emerges from the taxi cab and makes his way to his apartment.  Lois Lane waits inside, cooking the dinner she'd mentioned to Clark last issue, when he headed out with a much younger woman!  Clark's a little melancholy as the dinner begins, but soon warms to Lois's intentions.  After all, if he's not an alien or outside, then why should he hold back his feelings?

Doug:  We jump to a high-tech building in the Rocky Mountains -- not all that hidden, actually -- to see the Protector land and then get his brains blasted.  A new costumed criminal, Radion, greets last issue's baddie with a jolt nuclear energy.  Radion calls him a traitor, and I'm pretty sure he intends to kill the Protector.  Until the Protector asks him for help.  Radion does a 180 and says that the Protector should come on inside.  Weird...  As they walk, the Protector narrates the origin of Radion for us (it's your typical "you were in a nuclear disaster but somehow came out of it with these awesome powers, dude!" backstory) and how they first met.  It seems as though the Protector was always meant to be a pawn.  Radion is still ticked that the Protector's gone public, because that's gonna screw up the "master plan" -- because all of these super-dopes have a master plan.  But the Protector says that he is not the problem... Superman is the problem!  We then get a quick 2-panel vignette of a Professor Pepperwinkle (really?  I'd change my name) looking through his "hyper-spacial telescope" and giving us an exclamation.  And we have to wait to find out why.

Doug:  Back in the Kent apartment, Clark wakes for the day and mills around his digs.  He goes into his secret closet and checks out more Kryptonian relics.  He fires up the Phantom Zone Projector, but it just shines a light -- no criminals jump out.  Clark's almost disappointed.  But as he grumps, he hears the radio come on, with an alert about trouble at the nuclear power station.  Whoosh -- he gone!

Doug:  Superman flies over the grounds of the Hooley Nuclear Power Station, located near Niagara Falls, New York.  Radion had arrived earlier, and looks to being just a general pain in the butt.  But as the Man of Steel arrives, Radion goes into attack mode.  He first blasts Superman -- an energy burst that dumps Superman into the water at the bottom of the Falls and carbonizes the oxygen molecules around him (turning his Superman costume to a gray hue).  As Superman recovers, Radion peels up a huge chunk of earth, right in Superman's flight path.  Stunned, Superman is then trapped in a "proto-nuclear globe" and his atomic mass is increased.  Like all megalomaniacs, Radion must then reveal the "master plan".  He's come to Hooley to overload it, unleashing nuclear energy and radiation throughout the nation and the world.  People will succumb to the poisonous rays, but some will mutate.  Whatever form they take it won't matter -- Radion will control them all!  Superman of course thinks this cat is beyond loopy, so schemes to find a way to stop him.  Using his heat vision, Superman is able to locate the control rods in the main reactor, melt them, and drop them into the pile.  This ends the chain reaction that Radion had begun.  Then the Man of Tomorrow gives it his all and bursts from his globe-like prison.

Doug:  Superman is ready for battle, but Radion chooses not to fight.  After receiving cheers from the assembled security forces at Hooley, Superman makes his way back to the Fortress of Solitude.  He broods in a chair, still considering what Supergirl had told him.  He finally comes to the conclusion that he's going to pursue this new path... after he finishes up some unfinished business.

Doug:  Back at the Rocky Mountain way of Radion, he and the Protector argue.  This time it's the Protector who's angry, calling Radion a quitter.  As the two squabble and threaten, they are startled by the arrival of Superman.  Radion warns him that he should not have come to his home base.  Superman tries to take out the Protector first, but his heat vision is reflected due to a change in the Protector's molecular structure.  Radion tries to blast Superman, but the Man of Steel is now flying pellmell.  There's a method to the madness.  Radion keeps blasting until Superman flies directly in front of the Protector -- where Radion's blast strikes his ally full-on.  But remember, the Protector had changed his structure -- and reflects the powerful blast right back at his originator.  Kayo two super-baddies, without working up a sweat -- that's our Superman!

Doug:  We are shown a large control room, or the deck of a space ship.  Shrouded humaoids watch a vid-screen, as warships streak toward the planet Xonn.  These "men" lament that their plan to have Superman abandon his Kryptonian heritage may now backfire.  Where this was once a "job for Superman", it may now become the death of Xonn... and later, of the Earth!

Doug:  This issue was a little better than the last.  As I mentioned last month, I've read to the conclusion of this 3-parter.  The third issue certainly won't have the pay-off that you hope for -- at least in my opinion.  I thought Gerry Conway was OK in this ish, and I'll stand by my supposition that this yarn is more in Julie Schwartz's wheelhouse than in Conway's.  That is, until I asked the man himself.  Back on October 7th, the very first day I opened our BAB Twitter account, I also wrote the framework for today's post.  I tweeted about it when I was done, and included Conway in the tweet.  You can see below that he answered us -- just a couple of hours after he'd enjoyed a Dodgers victory against the Braves in the NLDS!  Garcia-Lopez's art was again very good.  I thought the single panel of Lois toasting with Clark was just beautifully rendered.  Images of Superman and Supergirl in flight also seem to be a specialty of Garcia-Lopez, as these scenes are ever-dynamic yet original each time.  He really is a very good penciler, and does seem to be made for these characters.  I've said before that when I think of the Man of Steel, it's generally an image from the great Curt Swan that shows up in my noggin.  But after seeing some of the Supes art from this era, I could become a convert!

Doug:  Check back in about 30 days for the conclusion of this story -- and judge its merits for yourself.

Doug:  And, a special note to those of you curious about these hardcovers that I've used for these Superman reviews, as well as various Batman reviews.  DC has announced a Tales of the Batman: Carmine Infantino volume that will ship at the beginning of June.  You know I'll be getting my hands on that one!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Karen: Nobody really seems in the mood to talk about horror movies, so how about we switch gears and rap about Cap?

Halloween Horrors, 70s Style

Karen: Halloween is almost upon us, and once again, the cable TV stations are showing primarily slasher flicks and other dreck on Halloween. As usual  we're left to our own devices to entertain ourselves during this scary season. Now you can't go wrong with the classics - but if you're a monster fan, I know you've seen the Universal films a zillion times. And there's a good chance you've gone through Hammer's catalog as well. So what's left for a monster fan to watch on Halloween?

Well, you're in luck. I have a couple of suggestions for you, some solid 70s fare that is a little more obscure but still good creepy fun. First up: Horror Express, a gem from 1972. You'd think it's a Hammer film, since it stars Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, but it's not. It's a Spanish/British production set in 1906, with almost all of the action taking place on a train, the Tran-Siberian Express (indeed, the alternate title was Panic on the Trans-Siberian Express!). Lee is an anthropologist who has brought aboard the corpse of what he believes to be the Missing Link, which he discovered frozen in China. His rival, Cushing, is also on the train, and anxious to discover what Lee has in his crate. But what neither of them knows is that the specimen is not as harmless as it seems. The creature returns to life and begins killing people on the train. It is possessed by a strange force that makes its eyes glow and it is soon discovered that it can transfer from body to body. Soon enough there's a mad Rasputin-like priest, a buxom countess,  drunken Cossack Telly Savalas, dead men coming back to life, and lots of bleeding from the eyes. The filmmakers do a good job building suspense and there's a feeling of genuine menace created by the situation of being trapped on the moving train with the creature.

For pure creepiness, this next film is one of my favorites. It's also a great entry in the ranks of zombie-dom, as it features amphibious Nazi zombies. Yes, roll that around in your head. I'm talking about Shock Waves (1977). Now as a zombie movie goes, it is light on gore. That's not what this film is about. This film is all about mood, and it has plenty of it. The way it's filmed, likely due to the low budget, there's a starkness to it that lends it that strange, quasi-documentary feel, sort of like the original Night of the Living Dead. A small group of vacationers head out on a yacht, experience odd phenomena that mess up their navigational instruments, and then have a near-miss with a huge ship at night. The next day, they discover that their boat is sinking, so they head for a nearby island. They also see the wreck of a large, old ship not far away. On the island they discover Peter Cushing -yes, he's in this one too -doing his best German accent. Not long after the castaways meet him, the amphibious Nazi zombies rise from the ocean floor and begin attacking the living. It seems they were part of 'The Death Corps', a Nazi unit composed of unkillable, undead assassins. The rest of the film plays out like one would expect, with the zombies attempting to murder everyone on the island in typical efficient German fashion. For good measure, it also has the ever-entertaining John Carradine as the captain of the yacht.

Horror Express was released on Blu-Ray last year and can be had relatively cheaply if you look around. Shock Waves is on DVD, no Blu Ray yet. Both are well worth seeing if you haven't caught them yet. They will certainly evoke that Bronze-Age flavor!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Who's the Best... Horror Comic?

Doug:  Bronze Age, or any other age; comic book or B&W magazine...  Let's hear about all of your favorite scary funny books, and if you didn't dabble in them much (like me), then tell us why you stayed on the sidelines.

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