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Recap #226: Short And Shivery by Robert D. San Souci – Part 3

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

We’ve finally reached the end of the first “Short And Shivery” collection after six long months. In August I’ll start a recap for the second book.

Luckily this book’s got three different water-related tales to fit in with my June theme, and luckily for YOU Wing we’ve finally reached the werewolf story. UNluckily for you this is also the portion with the giant spider story. Sorry. [Wing: Werewolf outweighs giant spider, mostly. Though: WHY IS IT ALWAYS GIANT SPIDERS? I just had to talk someone out of doing it as a decoration at work this fall, too.]

[Wing: Editing to add a link to this great comment from Sarah about the golem story in this recap, the use of mythology versus theology versus folk tale (her suggestion and the best one) and the history of the golem as a response to anti-semitism. I really appreciate her taking the time to share her perspective and want to highlight it.]

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Recap #223: Batman: The Drowned #1

Batman The Drowned #1 Cover by Jason Fabok

Batman The Drowned #1 Cover by Jason Fabok

Title: Batman The Drowned #1 – “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” a.k.a. “Holy Zombie Steampunk Pirate Lady Aquaman-Batman, Batman!”

Writer: Dan Abnett

Pencillers and Inkers: Phillip Tan and Tyler Kirkham

Colorists: Dean White & Arif Prianto

Letterer: Tom Napolitano

Cover Artists: Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson

Associate Editor: Jessica Chen

Editor: Phil Kaminski

Group Editor: Eddie Berganza (FUCK YOU!)

Summary: As the events of DARK NIGHTS: METAL rock the DC Universe, the creatures of the Dark Multiverse stand ready to invade our world! How can even the World’s Greatest Heroes stop a horde of deadly beings that appear to be powerful, nightmare versions of familiar figures?

Initial Thoughts

To coincide with the three Graveyard School books for June, July, and August, I wanted to do recaps featuring similar themes. Since June’s will be “The Gator Ate Her,” that meant I wanted to do recaps on water-based horror tales.

Batman The Drowned - Bryce Wayne, the Batwoman of Earth -11

Batman The Drowned – Bryce Wayne, the Batwoman of Earth -11 (As in NEGATIVE 11)

So what, exactly, are all of you looking at and why is there a lady pirate version of Batman is what most of you are probably wondering. Well…

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Recap #221: Detective Comics #49: Clayface Walks Again!

Detective_Comics_49

Detective Comics 49 Cover

Title: Detective Comics #49 – “Clayface Walks Again!”

Writer: Bill Finger

Penciller: Bob Kane

Inkers: Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, George Roussos

Letterer: George Roussos

Editor: Whitney Ellsworth

Initial Thoughts

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.

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Recap #219: The Witching Hour #1

Witching Hour #1 Cover

The Witching Hour #1 Cover by Nick Cardy

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.

Initial Thoughts

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 In Sandman

Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred in The Sandman

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!

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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 #214: Necromentia (2009)

Necromentia (2009)

Necromentia (2009)

Title: Necromentia (2009)

Tagline: Hell awaits the foolish

Summary: Inspired by the work of Clive Barker, Necromentia tells the story of what happens when you meddle with superstition and try to cross into another dimension using the powers of a Ouija board.

Hagen has a dead wife and believes he can bring her back to life. Travis is a man who lost his brother and wants to join him in the afterlife, and Morbius has been betrayed by those he loves and wants to come back from the dead to take revenge. A strange man only known as Mr Skinny protects the secrets of the powerful Ouija board, as all cross the gateways of hell to fulfil their own purpose, facing the hideous monstrosities that reside there as they go.

The above was copy typed from the back of the DVD box. It’s pretty much accurate. It’s also nothing like what happens in the movie. It’s odd that it’s exactly right but so misleading.

Trigger Warnings: Murder, suicide, self-harm, torture, necrophilia, flashing lights, terrible dialogue. [JC: Not making light of trigger warnings, but I’m greatly amused by “terrible dialogue” being right up there with “necrophilia.”]

Notes: I love this movie. I’m not even sorry. I was talking to JC, of Oh God Why?! Nostalgia, and we were talking about our favourite terrible movies. I asked her if she’d like to comment on my recap, because it would be great to see the reaction of someone who’s never seen this movie before (which, as far as I can tell, is anyone who is not me, or did not act in this movie). She said yes. I told her I’d return the favour, so who knows how she’ll feel about this movie and what I’ll end up watching as my penance. [JC: I watched this on YouTube with a watermark in the upper corner and Spanish subtitles at the bottom. So, if nothing else, I at least brushed up on some conversational torture-related Spanish, although I don’t foresee using it much. Except maybe “Hey, I’m not the one fucking a corpse.” I can see that one coming in handy.]

This movie is fucking weird.

Final note: I recapped this in vague detail back in 2011 for my own personal site. The recap has since gone offline, but if you think you’ve read any part of this recap before, don’t worry, I’m only plagiarising myself. Also, thank you, one person, for reading it. That site really didn’t get much traffic.

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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 #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 #204: Fear Street Superchiller #2: Silent Night by RL Stine

The Author:

Like RL Stine needs any introduction. The incredibly prolific author of such series as Goosebumps and Fear Street, not to mention the Fear Street Reboot and some adult titles as well, Stine’s been around for a while and integral to the formation of horror love for many people my age. Sometimes ridiculous, sometimes creepy, always some of the most excellent deaths in YA, Stine is a mainstay in the young adult horror world and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Blurb:

Don’t open that present!

If only Reva had listened to that warning.

But beautiful, cold Reva won’t listen to anyone. Reva thinks she can have whatever—and whoever—she wants. After all, her daddy owns Dalby department Stores.

Now, someone has some surprises instore [sic] for her. Robbery? Terror? Even murder? Someone wants to treat Reva to a holiday she’ll never forget.

Holiday cheer quickly turns to holiday chills for Reva. Someone is stalking her, someone is trying to get to her.

Her money can’t help her. No one can.

After all, who can you turn to when murder comes gift-wrapped?

Can I get a photo of gift-wrapped murder? Please?

[Wing: We believe holiday horror has no deadline around here, so let’s end 2018 with a few more Christmas-themed stories.]

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Recap #202: Graveyard School #14: The Tragic School Bus by Tom B. Stone

Graveyard School #14 Cover

The Magic School Bus Has A Midlife Crisis

Title: Graveyard School #14 – The Tragic School Bus, a.k.a. “Skip Wolfson in: ‘Screaming Yellow Honkers’”

Author: Tom B. Stone, a.k.a. Nola Thacker, a.k.a. D.E. Athkins

Cover Artist: Cam DeLeon

Summary: The Next Stop May Be Skip’s Last…

Skip Wolfson can’t believe he almost missed the bus again! One more late morning and he’ll be in big trouble at Graveyard School. But as he walks down the aisle to find a seat, something tells Skip that he got on the wrong bus. The unbelievably wrong bus. Is it because the driver looks like a skeleton? Or is it that the other passengers seem to have been dug up out of a grave? Skip finds himself wishing for detention instead. Anything but a one-way trip to the terminal of the undead!

Initial Thoughts

I referenced this book last year in my recap of “Boo Year’s Eve” when Jordie Flanders brings up Skip’s fear of buses. And now has come the day when we learn how that fear started.

Not one of my favorite books but I’m sure Wing’s gonna love it because it features the return of Skip Wolfson as the protagonist! And to that end, because this has one of the funniest scenes in the entire series, I’ve prepared a little something extra as a gift to Point Horror.

The amazing thing about this book is that it can be viewed as a follow-up to “Little Pet Werewolf” without being a direct sequel. Thacker works in sly nods to Skip’s previous role as the main character without blatantly spoiling the last book.

[Wing: SKIP! I love you, Skip!]

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