Where evil twins and friends come together to lovingly snark Point Horror and other teen genre fiction
 

Recap #215: Death Machine (1994)

deathmachinecover

Definitely not Freddy vs. Terminator 2

 

Title: Death Machine

Released: 1995

Director: Stephen Norrington

Tagline: It feeds on your fear

Description: Chaank Armaments is experimenting with the ultimate fighting machine which is part human – part machine. So far, the Hardman project has been unreliable and has killed a number of innocent people. The genius behind this project is Jack who lives in a world of models, toys and magazines. When he is fired by Cale for killing a few corporate officers, he unleashes the ultimate killing machine called the ‘Warbeast’ against Cale and those who would help her.

Note: Recently, Dove (of the Nostalgic Bookshelf recapping empire) asked me to watch one of her favorite “bad” movies, Necromentia, and comment on her recap of it, with the offer of doing the same for me. We just about had my pick nailed down, when I actually watched Necromentia, and decided that everything I had previously considered was much too tame and mainstream. I can’t top Necromentia‘s sheer WTF-ness, but you know what I can do? I can give you a bizarre over-the-top rip off of every late 80s/early 90s action/horror/sci-fi movie ever made, starring Brad Dourif at his most scenery-chewing, with a script that was apparently written by someone who has never spoken to another human being in their life. Yes, that is what I can do. (When I told Dove about this movie, she told me I “had her at Brad Dourif.” Now that she’s actually watched it, I hope we’re still friends.)

[Dove: I watched this movie when Raven (my husband) was out. When he came back, he asked how I liked the movie. My response was, “It was exactly what I deserved after Necromentia.” (Yes, JC and I are still friends.)]

Initial Thoughts


Full disclosure: I love me some Brad Dourif. This is one of those movies that I’m pretty sure only hardcore Dourif fans and people who watch every sci-fi/horror/action movie that comes out have seen. I know Dourif is the entire reason I watched it years and years ago, and I really didn’t like it all that much the first time around. Shocked? Then I gave it another shot and really liked it on every subsequent viewing. (I also hated Fargo on first viewing. My first impressions are very subject to change.) Oh sure, it’s pretty terrible, but there’s something mesmerizing about it. It might be the obvious lack of fucks the filmmakers had to give. The character names alone – nearly everyone is named after a famous director. It’s gleefully egregious. Or, to use one of Dove’s terms, it’s eye-poking. But gleefully so. No fucks to give. I have no defense for this movie; I love its stupid dumb ass. The best description I can give is that it’s like if William Gibson (the cyberpunk author, not the playwright) wrote Die Hard, then Robocop hate-fucked it while Universal Soldier jerked off in the corner.

There are I think four different versions with four different running times. I believe the one I’m recapping is the 111 minute long director’s cut. As far as I can tell, the only difference between this one and the one I rented the fuck out of in the late 90s/early 2000s is one extra backstory scene and a few references to that backstory. It’s not actually important to the story, but I’m glad it’s there because it is so over-the-top ridiculous that I’d be sad if I didn’t get to mock it.

[Dove: I tried to watch the 111 minute version, but I started to go into the future, because the constantly-moving background was giving me a real headache. I watched the 122 minute version. Though by the time I swapped over, I had missed those minutes. They happen all before the first 19 minutes of the copy JC watched. I have not yet gone back to watch them.][JC: As far as I can tell, no official 122 minute version exists, so I’m curious what was going on in that version.]

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Recap #213: Short & Shivery by Robert D. San Souci – Part One

GHOUL evening, boils and goops
It’s like if Tim Burton hosted an international buffet

Title: Short & Shivery a.k.a. “The Wide World of Horror”

Author/Editor/Reteller: Robert D. San Souci

Illustrator: Katherine Coville

Summary: Everyone loves a spooky story. Don’t you?

Welcome to a chilling world of hair-raising tales! The thirty stories in this book were gathered from around the world, selected for their ghastly details and terrifying twists. Come inside and meet the young miller’s daughter in “The Robber Bridegroom,” who may have discovered too late that she has been betrothed to a madman; the dancing skeleton who returns from the dead to haunt the friend who betrayed him in life; the Golem, who tires of serving his greedy master and suddenly turns evil; and intriguing characters in stories from the Brothers Grimm, Washington Irving, and other world-famous authors. But before you settle down in your cozy reading chair, check behind you… and keep all the lights on!

Initial Thoughts

For my fairy tale theme, what makes a better fit than this collection of international folk tales and ghost stories? “Short & Shivery” has been a presence in my life since middle school, and I own all four volumes. Many of the stories had something of an impact on my writing, and recently I’ve been attempting to incorporate some of the creatures in these tales in my comic ideas.

Now I originally planned to recap all 30 stories in one post, but figuring this would take too long for me to do and for Wing to go through and comment I’ve decided to split it into 3 posts to cover all of the tales. Less frustration and anxiety trying to get it done. Enjoy these first ten tales.

[Wing: This is another set I’ve never read before, even though I love creepy short stories.]

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Recap #211: Scary Godmother: Bloody Valentine Special by Jill Thompson

Oops wrong movie
No miners were harmed in the making of this comic

Title: Scary Godmother – My Bloody Valentine

Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

Following up on my recap of the holiday story last month, here’s the obligatory Scary Godmother Valentine’s special. Because Vamlumtime’s is Serious Times!

Long live the King and Queen!
Max and Ruby by Toril Orlesky – One of my favorite fictional couples of all times

This issue puts the spotlight on Count Max and Ruby, the King and Queen of the Night, as they have their first fight ever! Jill gives us a good look into what makes Max and Ruby tick and how their differing personalities actually compliment one another. I know they’re certainly my favorite characters after Skully Pettibone, but it helps Max and Skully share the same voice actor (Scott freaking McNeil) in the animated movies.

But don’t worry Wing, there’s plenty of Harry the Werewolf in this. But there ARE a couple of spider mentions (no photos though).

[Wing: As always, I appreciate that warning. And oh my god, that cover is delightful.]

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Recap #210: Rumic World: The Laughing Target by Rumiko Takahashi

Rumic World Cover
And you thought Glenn Close was bad

Title: The Laughing Target, a.k.a. “Yandere Saga”

Writer/Artist: Rumiko Takahashi

Summary: Yuzuru was an average teenager who had almost forgotten that he was betrothed to Azusa when he was only 6! Now arriving to claim what she feels is rightfully hers, only Satomi (Yuzuru’s current girl friend) stands in her way… and with the mysterious and frightening powers that Azusa brings, Satomi won’t stand in her way for long!

Initial Thoughts

(TW: Sexual Assault)

Just because “Mermaid Saga” is over doesn’t mean I’m done with Rumiko Takahashi, which is why I’ve picked another of her earlier horror works for February and Valentine’s Day.

Surprisingly there isn't much laughing
God Takahashi’s men all look alike but her artwork is still GORGEOUS

“Laughing Target” is a one-shot story from 1983, not as well known as her other works, but still a prominent example of her solo stories. It was one of the most highly promoted of the “Rumic World” banner, and one of the three solo tales adapted into an OVA.

Please keep in mind I have NO idea how I’m able to type the following information with a straight face, as this is the first time I’ve ever had to use the word “Yandere.” God I’m a nerd.

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Recap #208: Grimm Fairy Tales #1: Red Riding Hood by Joe Tyler and Ralph Tedesco

No Means No Hood
The cover that started it all

Grimm Fairy Tales #1 – Red Riding Hood, a.k.a. “Little Red Abstinent Hood”

Writers: Joe Tyler & Ralph Tedesco

Pencils: Joe Dodd

Inks: Justin Holman

Colorist: Lisa Lubera

Designers: Jeffrey Ariola & Jason Sorrenti

Cover Artists: Al Rio (R.I.P.) and Tom Smith

Editor: J.C. Brusha

Summary:

Exploring the connection between sex and violence, the adaption of Little Red Riding hood confronts that line. The werewolf displays the lust and animal nature of sexuality while Red symbolizes the innocence and purity of love. The hunter is the balance between them both, taking you back close to the original story of the brothers Grimm rather than the doused down version we know today, the true moral behind the story is displayed.

A young girl with doubts about losing her virginity to her pushy boyfriend reads a story about Little Red Riding Hood in a book she finds beside her bed. The story of the fairy tale character parallels her own, and the ending of the updated story teaches her a lesson, which feels all too real.

[Wing: I mean, Little Red Riding Hood has always had sexual threat built into the story, but this will be interesting. That cover, though. Not feeling it.]

Initial Thoughts

Happy birthday, Wing! For the fairy tale theme this month I’m doing a recap featuring your favorite thing, WEREWOLVES! [Wing: I’m scheduling this to go up after my birthday, because I was too busy around my birthday to comment, but I love this as a gift recap.]

[Wing: I’m scheduling this to go up after my birthday, because I was too busy around my birthday to comment, but I love this as a gift recap.]

Zenescope’s “Grimm Fairy Tales” is a prime example of a sleeper hit. Back in 2005 when I was in high school, I found the first issue buried within the small pile of independent comics at my store. Being a horror comic and with my interest in fairy tales, I was immediately intrigued. Imagine my surprise when, despite the sexy cover done by the late Al Rio, it was a story about a girl being pressured into having sex by her boyfriend…

And she said no.

I missed the next two issues but attempted to support the series regularly. Unfortunately there were a number of delays with the following issues and I wasn’t sure when they were coming out, but I quickly got into buying GFT on a monthly basis. It was starting to grow pretty big, and spin-offs were being launched such as “Return to Wonderland.” Suffice it to say, nearly 15 years later and Zenescope Comics is still going strong and has created an entire world through their GFT series.

The basic premise of the original issues followed Sela Mathers, a mysterious woman with a book of fairy tales. Sela would present herself to the “Main Character of the Week” and show them a fairy tale relating to their current dilemma. Interestingly, Sela did not appear in the first issue, only her book did. And in the second issue she was startlingly different from every issue onward. It wasn’t long afterwards Sela became the main character as her past was explored, followed by the introduction of her arch-enemy, the redheaded Belinda. At that point an entire myth arc was constructed and I began to lose track as the series moved away from its original, episodic nature.

Unfortunately, I haven’t supported GFT in years. My comic shop became rather erratic in ordering the current issues and I completely lost track of the series by the time the 100th issue came around. Since I hadn’t done anything with Zenescope for a long time, and I needed the space in my boxes, I ended up selling my entire collection on eBay. However, I held on to the first issue (and the 2nd print of the 2nd issue) for sentimental reasons.

That being said, Zenescope and Grimm Fairy Tales will always be important to me because of one reason. It was by supporting “Return to Wonderland” that I befriended colorist Nei Ruffino on DeviantArt shortly after graduating from high school in 2008. Nei is the closest friend I’ve ever had, and the first real friend I made after getting out of the hell that was grade school. She’s been a part of my life for ten years, longer than any friend I’ve known. If it wasn’t for her presence in my life I genuinely doubt I’d be alive right now.

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Recap #206: Scary Godmother: Holiday Spooktakular by Jill Thompson

Santa who?

Merry Solstice from the Fright Side

Title: Scary Godmother in “The Search For Mister Boogeylegs”

Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson

Summary: N/A

Initial Thoughts

Last year I did a review of Jill Thompson’s “Dead Boys Detectives” manga from Vertigo, and decided to follow up with another work by the greatest comic creator of all time (Scott Snyder, eat your fucking heart out). Originally I planned to finish this last year but there simply wasn’t enough time.

I’ve been hyping up Scary Godmother for a while now in some of my other posts, so I figured now was the time to finally do a proper recap to share the magnificence of these stories with y’all.

[Wing: That cover is so much fun.]

But first, before we get into all that, let’s take a look at our intrepid cast.

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Recap #200: Jingle Belle: Grounded by Paul Dini and Stephanie Gladden

Title: Jingle Belle – Grounded

Writer: Paul Dini

Line Art and Cover: Stephanie Gladden

Colors: Felix Serrano

Letterer: Troy Peteri

Editor: Rob Levin

Summary: A fan favorite holiday character returns! When Jing again breaks her parents rules, she is forced to spend Christmas Eve GROUNDED. But when Santa is also caught in a lie, he has to share the same punishment! Neither father nor daughter can leave the North Pole until they apologize, and with the contentious Kringles not speaking to each other, Christmas is doomed!

Initial Thoughts

Last year I reviewed the “Santa Claus Vs Frankenstein” Jingle Belle one shot, and I promised to follow up by doing the Krampus story this year.

For those who don’t recall, Jingle Belle is Santa’s incorrigible teenage daughter (technically 151, which comes out to 16 in elf years). Jing often gets into a lot of ridiculous misadventures and finds herself put on the Naughty List, much to her father’s eternal frustration. Along for the ride is Jing’s best friend and fellow holiday icon Polly Green, the official Witch of Halloween.

Now last year, Wing got a bit peeved by how the complaints on the Santa Claus myth were brought up by a strawman political character whose arguments turned out to be part of a ploy to go after Santa because he’s an easy target. Well Wing, if you were disappointed over the resolution in last year’s comic, I’m certain you’ll be rather fond of what happens this time.

[Wing: Recap #200! It’s been a great time. Thank you all for reading and commenting and recapping. I love this snarky little book club.]

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Recap #197: Bone Chillers #4: Frankenturkey by Betsy Haynes

Pardon this, bitch!

Title: Bone Chillers #4 – Frankenturkey, a.k.a. “Help! My Turkey Is A Frankenstein”

Author: Betsy Haynes

Cover Artist: Tim Jacobus (?)

Tagline: Look who’s coming to Thanksgiving dinner…

Summary: …it’s not Grandma!

Kyle and Annie want to celebrate Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims. They want to wear stovepipe hats, bake their own pies – even raise their own turkey. Then they meet Frankenturkey!

Frankenturkey is big. Frankenturkey is bad. Frankenturkey is mad. If Kyle and Annie don’t watch out, Frankenturkey will eat them for Thanksgiving dinner.

Initial Thoughts

That summary is a lie in so many ways. Kyle and Annie do NOT want to celebrate Thanksgiving like the Pilgrims. They do NOT want to wear stovepipe hats or bake their own pies. And while they want to raise their own turkey, it’s not because they want to eat him.

Coming off that, I should clarify I actually really hate Thanksgiving, probably more than April Fools’ Day. I don’t feel I’m educated enough to make a point about how the holiday is shamelessly built off the exploitation and continued attempts at extermination of the indigenous people who lived in this country before white people ruined everything. Well I could, but I feel I’d come across as a token straw liberal and sound horribly obnoxious and phony.

Oh screw it I’m going to Hell anyway.

[Wing: A handful of links with more information RE USA Thanksgiving and native peoples: 7 Ways to be an Ally to Native Peoples This Thanksgiving, Celebrate Indigenous History This Thanksgiving, Native American Rights Fund: Thanksgiving.]

What I can say is I’d rather not celebrate a holiday that seems to pride itself on being a clusterfuck of anxiety, wherein family members are forced to invite other family members they can’t stand, waste a lot of money on one meal that could’ve been used to buy at least a week’s worth of food, and then spend the entire day arguing and yelling about shit no one’s talked about in decades before nitpicking over said meal and then offering apologies that amount to nothing.

Fun!

As a picky eater I also can’t stand the holiday because everyone expects me to eat a lot and it makes me feel more self conscious than I already am when I have dinner with other people. If I ever have a family of my own, I’m not making my kids celebrate the holiday and would rather spend the day doing something fun with them instead of forcing them to watch me argue with their uncle and grandparents.

MOVING ON

This is most likely one of the more well known “Bone Chillers” in it’s one of the three books adapted into the TV show and it’s the one book that got a sequel.

Pardon this, bitch! – The TV show

If there was ever to be a trademark monster for the franchise, it’s Frankenturkey. [Wing: Well that is a horrifying promotional image.]

Frankenturkey by Bobby Timony – GOBBLE GOBBLE, MOTHERFUCKERS!

I bought the sequel book first before I acquired the original, and owned this for years without reading it until I proposed a recap for the site. Well, I’d read the first chapter and was prepared to hate this when it seemed Kyle was too much like an average “Goosebumps” protagonist. I was pleasantly surprised to be proved wrong. Kyle and Annie’s affection for the actual turkey they buy is legit endearing, and the one thing that frustrates me is their condescending bitch of a mother and their equally awful dad.

As a bonus, here’s the episode on Youtube

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Recap #196: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Title: Spellbound by Christopher Pike

Summary: No one knew how the girl had died.

They found Karen Holly in the mountain stream, her skull crushed. There was only one witness to the tragedy, Karen’s boyfriend, Jason Whitfield. He said a grizzly had killed her. But a lot of people didn’t believe him. They thought Jason had murdered her in a fit of rage.

And now weeks have passed, and Jason has another girlfriend, Cindy Jones. And there are the new kids in town, Joni Harper, the quiet English beauty that Cindy’s brother, Alex, cannot get out of his mind. And Bala, the foreign exchange student from Africa, the grandson of a powerful shaman.

Together they will return to the place where Karen was killed.

Some will die.

The others will come face to face with a horror beyond imagining.

Tagline: You can close your eyes….It won’t help. [Wing: Except, spoilers, that’s exactly what it does.]

Initial Thoughts

This is one of my favourite Pike books, though not my absolute favourite. There are monstrous women and full moons and hunger, and it is all pretty great — except for that girls fighting over boys and boys fighting over girls and racism everywhere. /o\

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Recap #195: The Upturned Stone by Scott Hampton

It’s the Haunted Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Title: The Upturned Stone, a.k.a. “The Haunted Pie”

Writer/Artist: Scott Hampton

Tagline: “Ghosts aren’t frightening, really.”

“What’s frightening is the thought of them.”

Initial Thoughts

It’s like “Stand By Me” but with ghosts and sexual abuse.

I first discovered this tale a few years back when Comic Book Resources did a countdown of “Scariest Comics of All Time,” and being the sucker that I am for Halloween and pumpkin related horror tales, I immediately sought to hunt this book down and acquired one of the original print copies.

This story isn’t all plot, and while Halloween is what sets off the chain of events, the entire book doesn’t take place solely on the holiday itself. What starts off with a pumpkin growing on top of the grave of an unnamed child becomes a journey into adulthood and a quest for revenge.

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