COMIC REVIEW: CREEPSHOW

By Nick Durham

In 1982, George Romero and Stephen King collaborated on the horror anthology film Creepshow, and the rest as they say, is history. Beloved and revered in the decades since its release, Creepshow is a horror classic that was inspired by both creator’s love for the classic horror comics of the EC days; helping them craft an incredibly entertaining horror film that’s still ever bit as good today as it was in 1982. Around the time of the film’s release, there was a comic book adaptation of King’s screenplay that ended up being just as beloved as the film. Sadly, it’s been out of print for a while…until now.

Creepshow the comic features all five segments of the film in glorious comic form, drawn to horrific life by the late, great Bernie Wrightson (famous for co-creating Swamp Thing and drawing a huge number of horror titles throughout the decades) and featuring a cover drawn by legendary EC Comics illustrator Jack Kamen. The five stories: Father’s Day, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, Something to Tide You Over, The Crate, and They’re Creeping Up on You are adapted to perfection here. Wrightson’s artwork manages to illicit the horrific chills, thrills, and dark humor of the film, while also managing to perfectly capture the throwback atmosphere of the horror comics of yesterday.

Published by Gallery 13, Creepshow the comic doesn’t seem to feature any restoration done to the artwork itself, which is perfectly fine to be totally honest. These days, modern day reprints of older comics feature some sort of digital restoration, and it’s actually refreshing to see that this is not such the case here. Wrightson’s artwork is just that damn perfect that it doesn’t need any kind of modern touches done to it. The comic is also presented in a deluxe large frame format, which makes the total package be even more perfect.

If you’re a fan of George Romero and Stephen King’s Creepshow, it goes without saying that this comic adaptation deserves to have a spot on your shelf. Much like the film, the comic has aged wonderfully, and it’s a super fun and enjoyable horror ride that you can’t help but love. You need to get your hands on this as soon as you possibly can, you won’t regret it.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK REVIEW: BODY ART

 

By Nick Durham

In my teens I discovered the world of splatterpunk literature and stories, always looking for something new that upped the ante in terms of ultra graphic violence in prose form. For me personally, reading something in print and envisioning it in my head always came out way more nasty, disgusting, and disturbing than anything I had seen visually at the time (keep in mind I was a young lad and hadn’t discovered the wonderful world of underground horror films just yet). I’ve been diving back into extreme horror fiction lately, and recently discovered this little piece of filth by Kristopher Triana. Published by Blood Bound Books, Body Art is a shocking, nasty, and surprisingly harrowing story that takes the worlds of hardcore porn and hardcore horror and chucks them both together in a blender, turns it on high, and purposely leaves the lid off so the mixture of blood, guts, and babygravy cake the walls of your kitchen so much that you end up puking your brains out at the smell and sight of it all.  

Body Art features a handful of characters whose lives intersect for all the wrong reasons: aging porn actress Kandi Hart is tired of the banality of modern day porno and longs for the glory days when making adult films actually had artistic merit. After receiving a phone call from her old directing partner Rutger Malone, Kandi is offered a part in a new film that he promises will be something she’ll always be remembered for starring in. Next door to the mansion where they’re shooting is a cabin that is occupied by high school football star Toby and his insatiable girlfriend Jessica; both of whom end up getting drawn into the scene. In the midst of all this, local mortician Harold finds the corpses of past lovers making their way to his funeral home; which he takes as a sign to make his own brand of ghastly art. As we’re introduced to the players and new depths of depravity are explored by all, a mysterious red-colored sand seems to be popping up all over the place. What do all of these elements have to do with each other? Well, stick with it and you’ll see for yourself.

I don’t want to spoil anything outright, so all I will say in terms of where the story of Body Art goes is that there are things you’ll see coming a mile away, and then when the proverbial shit hits the fan, your jaw will drop thanks to the sheer audacity and flat out insanity that Triana weaves here. This is the first work of his I’ve ever read, and he pulls no punches here. There are some flat out disgusting sequences he conjures up here that damn sure aren’t for the faint of heart, and that’s saying it lightly. That being said, the book manages to be a real page turner, just based on the fact that you’ll be dying to see just what the fuck else can possibly happen next. 

If there’s any flaws of Body Art, it’s that we never really get much of a feel for the majority of the characters. Kandi, Rutger, Harold, Toby, and Jessica never really feel as fleshed out (no pun intended) as they should be. In fact, besides Kandi, Harold, and Jessica; all of the other characters are fairly stock types. This isn’t such a bad thing considering what kind of novel Body Art is, so it’s really nothing all that negative really. Not to mention the fact that the novel ends fairly abruptly and even a little bit unsatisfying to be honest, and any supernatural elements that come into play feel a bit haphazard, even though there are relatively interesting ideas within them. All that aside though, this novel as a whole ends up being pretty damn unforgettable in terms of its content. For this kind of novel, that is really the only thing that matters.

As I said, I’ve never read any of Kristopher Triana’s other works, but after reading Body Art, I think I’ll see what else he has to offer. This novel definitely isn’t for the weak-stomached, and definitely not for every horror fan either, but for what it desires to be, it damn sure delivers the goods in terms of sex, depravity, and blood-letting. I discovered this on Amazon practically accidentally, and I’m glad that I did.

Rating: 4/5

BATMAN: VAMPIRE COMIC REVIEW

batman_vampire_399

By Nick Durham

Wait, what? A superhero comic? The fuck is going on here you may be asking yourself. Well, let me stop you right there. In the early 90s, DC Comics had a long-running imprint called Elseworlds. Elseworlds gave creators the ability to craft stories starring DC characters that weren’t bound to traditional continuities. A sort of alternate universe take on your favorite DC heroes and villains, with a few notable examples being comics like Batman: Gotham by Gaslight (which put Batman in Victorian London) and Superman: Red Son (which envisioned what the world would be like if Superman’s ship crash landed in Soviet Russia instead of Smallville, Kansas). Another example are the stories collected here in Batman: Vampire. As you may guess by the title, it involves Batman contending with vamps in Gotham City, including Dracula himself, and then things take a much, much darker turn.

 

Batman: Vampire collects what’s known as the Batman VS Dracula Trilogy, consisting of Red Rain (published in 1991), Bloodstorm (published in 1994), and Crimson Mist (published in 1999). All three titles are written by long time Batman writer Doug Moench and drawn by Sandman artist Kelley Jones. The story begins simply enough, with Batman investigating a series of grisly murders, eventually discovering they are perpetrated by a group of vampires led by Dracula himself. In order to combat the threat, Batman ends up sacrificing his humanity in order to take down the legendary vampire king, but the story doesn’t end there. Eventually, many familiar Batman characters end up making appearances as allies and adversaries, as Batman continues a downward spiral of blood drinking and destruction.

 

The stories here in Batman: Vampire would be highly acclaimed, and would thankfully be reprinted in the mid-2000s with a Tales From the Multiverse label slapped on the cover. I myself am thankful for this, as I never got to read the Batman VS Dracula Trilogy as a whole in my youth. Moench was one of the best Batman writers around in the 90s, and his take on a desperate and degenerating Dark Knight is harrowing to say it lightly. Kelley Jones’ pencil work is wonderful and downright creepy and revolting, and I can’t get enough of it to this day. Even though Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist never reach that perfect pitch that the opening Red Rain manages to do, as a whole, this is one of the best Elseworlds tales, and maybe even Batman stories as a whole, you’ll come across.

 

Even if superhero stuff isn’t your thing, I encourage you to check out Batman: Vampire. Go into it with little expectations and you’ll come out shockingly surprised. I wish mainstream comics were ballsy like this today, maybe I’d still be reading them. Go pick this up while you can, you’ll be glad that you did.

 

Rating: 5/5

BOOK REVIEW: CULT CINEMA: AN ARROW VIDEO COMPANION

 

Cult Cinema

By Nick Durham

Anyone that knows me well enough knows that I have a major hard-on for Arrow. No, not that shit show take on Green Arrow that airs on the CW, I mean Arrow Video. Creators of some of the best horror and cult film home video releases in the U.S. and the U.K.; Arrow Video have been responsible for some of the best home video releases in the past few years. Knowing that, it’s easy to see why I could get excited about the prospect of a deluxe coffee table book covering a variety of wonderful flicks written by a handful of genre experts and favorites. Enter Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion, which upon first glance is a spectacular feast for the eyes, but sadly upon further examination, becomes kind of underwhelming.

 

Beginning with an introduction written by director Ben Wheatley (Kill List, High Rise), Cult Cinema gets off to a great start, mainly because you can literally feel the love that Wheatley has for cult films. After that though, we come to realize that a decent amount of the essay’s printed in this book are actually reprints of essay’s featured in previous Blu-ray/DVD releases (most of which from the U.K. that didn’t make it over here to the States, but I digress). If you can get past that, you’ll have yourself a good time here. If you can’t though, well, you may be a bit disappointed by what you find in this book. I for one had a mixed reaction because of this, but the essay’s themselves are interesting and informative to read.

 

Some of the film’s covered in the essay’s include Deep Red, Zombi 2(here referred to as Zombie Flesh Eaters), Dressed to Kill, The ‘Burbs and Battle Royale among others; as well as numerous writings ranging from discussing the impacts of actors like Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, and Pam Grier. Directors are also discussed, including Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, George Romero, and Lloyd Kaufman; and there’s discussions ranging from the era of the Video Nasty to the rise of the Giallo film. Just about all writers featured here are great as well; interjecting some really informative and even amusing facts and anecdotes about the films and genres that they have a world of admiration for.

 

Yes, there’s quite a few interesting reads featured in this book, but one can’t help but think that given the cover price (70 bucks full price, but you can find it around for about 40 or so, and even I think that’s a little too much) that there should be at least a little bit more here. That being said, the book itself is gorgeous to look at, and it looks damn good as the centerpiece of your coffee table, or even on your shelf. In the end, it’s up to you whether or not to pick up Cult Cinema. If you do, do so at a good price (I managed to thankfully) and you won’t regret it. For those of you that have been collecting Arrow’s Blu-ray releases the past couple years though, there isn’t much here you haven’t seen before.

 

Rating: 3/5