As part of my attempt to start off Year Three on the right foot, I’ll be reviewing one of my favorites of the Point Horror collection. Though this book was originally published back in 1977, which I believe predates the inception of the original Point Horror line. Nevertheless its three follow-up books were published under Point, as were the two reprint collections (which are the copies I own).
Much like “Short & Shivery” these tales were a big inspiration on some of my earliest attempts at fan fiction. I adapted “The Furry Collar” and “The Velvet Ribbon” as two DC Comics fan fics which you can still read online on fanfiction.net and DeviantArt.
The one story I’ve ever read by J.B. Stamper before I got this collection was her short tale in the first “Thirteen” collection. My only real problem with J.B.’s writing is she tends to abuse ellipses too much at the ending of some of the stories, not helped by her blatantly stating the obvious and making it hard to take the final shock seriously. [Wing: Oooh, she’s the predecessor of Dove’s nemesis, R.T. Cusick!]
Last year I reviewed Detective Comics #40 as part of my attempt to freshen the air in May since I spent all of April 2018 talking about my best friend’s death in my recaps.
Honestly I’m still not sure it did much to help.
Anyway, I figured it’d make since to review the follow-up story in May 2019.
Detective Comics #40 was the debut of Basil Karlo, the first Batman villain to call himself Clayface. Rather than being a shapeshifter as most people know the later Clayfaces to be, Karlo was a famous horror actor driven over the edge when one of his old movies was being remade and he wasn’t asked to star in it. Donning the guise of Clayface, one of his previous characters, Karlo tried to kill off the cast of the remake but was stopped by Batman and Robin.
I mentioned Karlo has all the earmarks of a prototypical slasher movie killer, so it’s especially fitting the follow-up story feels like a typical slasher sequel. Karlo’s back and out for revenge against the people who thwarted him, Batman and Robin. He also wants to kill Julie Madison, the actress who survived his previous killing spree and thus serves the role of the prototypical Final Girl. Out of all the Batman love interests, Julie’s remained my favorite and it’s disappointing this story was her final appearance in the Golden Age Batman stories.
Description: It’s been years since Chucky, the doll with the soul and the voice (Brad Dourif) of a psychopathic killer, was apparently destroyed in a fire at a doll factory. Now Chucky’s manufacturer is remaking the same line of toys with the old, still haunted materials. This resurrects Chucky, who goes after Andy (Justin Whalin), his former owner, who now attends military school. Chucky slashes his way through a string of grotesque murders as Andy tries to stop the homicidal doll and the spirit within it. (From Google movies)
Welcome back to Dove and my Child’s Play recaps! (You can find our other recaps in the series here or here.)
Now, objectively this is the worst movie of the “original” three (23% Rotten Tomatoes; 5.1 IMDb), but it has a special place in my heart. It was the first Chucky movie I ever saw, recorded one night on a VHS tape that also had A Nightmare on Elm Street 2 & 5 on it. I had asked my dad to record one of those movies for me (I think it was Nightmare 5, because I remember the TV station was showing them out of order), and rather than program a recording time, my dad put the tape in, hit record, and let it record until the end of the six-hour tape. So I ended up with the two Freddy movies, with Child’s Play 3 in between them. And about 5-10 minutes of . . . something else at the end of the tape. The tape ended before that movie reached the opening credits, so it shall forever remain a mystery. (It might have been Halloween 2.)
I know Dove has something she wants to say about the controversy this movie caused in the UK because of some little shithead murderers, so I’ll let her get to that here if she feels like it, and then we’ll jump into the recap. Dove?
[Dove: If you’re in the UK and you were into horror movies in the 90s, then this film will be forever linked with the murder of James Bulger a month before his third birthday by two ten-year-old boys. At the time, our gobshite tabloids and Mary Whitehouse decided to push an agenda of trying to ban “video nasties”, by tastelessly cashing in on the brutal murder of a toddler. Even though it was a tenuous link (one of the murderers’ fathers had rented it, and it was never established whether either of the boys had ever seen it), the tabloids had a field day telling everyone that horror movies were to blame, due to some similarities. For me, this movie will always be attached to that horrible crime, even though I don’t believe it was a contributing factor – or if it was, it was at the bottom of a long list that started with far uglier things than a mediocre slasher movie. Also, people gave me the side-eye when I reported that I was only a year or two older than the murderers, I had rented the movie around the same time, and somehow I managed to not kill anyone.
I know this has nothing to do with the movie, but it feels a bit weird to recap it without mentioning the controversy that was attached – however feebly – to it.]
Title: The Witching Hour #1, a.k.a. “Anne, this isn’t about you”
Creators: Neal Adams, Pat Boyette, Dick Giordano, Dennis O’Neill, Alex Toth
Cover Artist: Nick Cardy
Summary: During DC’s latest foray into the horror / mystery arena, editor Dick Giordano conjured up a triumverate of witches to host an anthology series produced by some of comics’ biggest names. In this first issue, writer / artist Alex Toth provided a framing sequence (with an epilogue drawn by Neal Adams) that introduced readers to the cronish Mordred, motherly Mildred and beautiful Maiden Cynthia – as well as their bumbling pet zombie, Egor. Each witch then brewed a potent blend of horror and dark humor crafted by Toth, writer Denny O’Neil and artists Pat Boyette and Jack Sparling. It was an effective spell that would entrance a loyal audience long into the next decade.
Wow Jude’s actually writing about DC Comics and it’s NOT incoherent ranting, who’d have guessed?
As part of my attempt to start Year Three off strongly, I’m including a review of my favorite of DC’s old horror anthology comics from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Well, it’s up there alongside “Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love.”
DC had a whole slew of horror comics, “House of Mystery,” “House of Secrets,” “Tales of the Unexpected,” “Ghost Castle,” “Doorway Into Nightmare,” “Sinister House of Secret Love,” etc. “The Witching Hour” was first published way back in 1969 and ran for 85 issues before the main characters were transplanted to “The Unexpected” upon the book’s cancellation.
“The Witching Hour” stands among one of my favorites due solely to the hosts that narrated its stories. Every, well, most of the issues, had a framing device focusing on three witch sisters, Cynthia, Mildred, and Mordred. The issues would take place at midnight, where the sisters would welcome the reader and try to see which of the three had the most gruesome tale to tell.
I only own about a couple dozen or so issues ranging from most of the first ten to a few sporadic numbers throughout the run. From the handful I own I can clearly see the formulaic rot that set in, when the humorous framing stories were reduced to a one page joke opener that lacked the style and panache of the earliest comics.
The three witches were later incorporated as part of Neil Gaiman’s “The Sandman,” alongside many of the other horror host characters like Lucien from “Ghost Castle” and the brothers Cain and Abel. Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred were introduced as aspects of the Fates/Furies dubbed “The Three-In-One.” Cynthia was established to be the Maiden of the trinity, while Mildred was the Mother and Mordred (who acknowledges her name’s wrong) is the Crone.
They repeatedly appeared at least once per story arc but in different forms before becoming the antagonistic Kindly Ones in the comic’s penultimate tale.
As of recently, they’ve been popping up in some newer DC works. Cynthia appeared in 2018’s Valentine’s Day anthology as a love interest for DC’s version of the Bride of Frankenstein. The three were later antagonists in a Catwoman/Sylvester and Tweety crossover by Gail Simone and have been bedeviling Harley Quinn in her solo series.
The witches are truly the only reason why “The Witching Hour” remains my top fave of the horror anthologies, and they’ve been especially prominent in some of my DC story ideas. Onto the recap!