My Favorite Issue of Marvel Team-Up

Spidey-Pan-TeamUp

Okay, so maybe it’s not a real comic-book cover—ya got me! But with Spider-Man: Homecoming—the first Spidey film set firmly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe—opening in the U.S. today, and both Spidey and Pan hailing from the New York borough of Queens, it only makes sense that they’d get together, right? Especially since the new movie Spidey lives in Pan’s (and StarWarp Concepts’) neighborhood of Sunnyside!

Spider-Man art by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, from the back cover of 1976’s Superman vs. The Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century, one of the greatest team-up stories ever. Pan art by Eliseu Gouveia from The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, our free digital comic (download it today!).

And if you like this heroic meeting, then take a look at this post from June 2015, when Pan novel cover painter Bob Larkin teamed Pan up (at my suggestion) with one of the greatest pulp-era heroes of all time: Doc Savage, The Man of Bronze! Pan sure loves her crossovers!

Scream Factory Turns This Week Into 5 Nights of Fear

NightbreedposterHorror movie alert! Starting tonight and running through Friday is 5 Nights of Fear, a monsteriffic event from home-entertainment company Shout! Factory to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its Scream Factory imprint. The movies they’ll be showing during the week are:

Monday, June 12: Nightbreed: The Director’s Cut: Writer/director/author Clive Barker’s 1990 follow-up to his big-screen directorial debut Hellraiser never reached the pop-culture status of Pinhead’s cinematic adventures, but it still has its fans. Starring Craig Sheffer, Anne Bobby, and David Cronenberg (acting this time instead of directing), it’s the tale of Aaron Boone, a man who discovers he’s one of the Nightbreed—a race of monsters who’ve hidden their existence from humanity. But the real monster is Aaron’s psychotherapist, who’s a serial killer in his spare time.

bad_moon_xlgTuesday, June 13: Bad Moon: This often-overlooked werewolf film from 1996—based on the novel Thor by Wayne Smith (Thor being the dog in the story)—stars Michael Paré (Streets of Fire) as Ted, the creepy brother of single-mom Mariel Hemingway (Star 80), who’s trying to make ends meet while raising her son. Unfortunately, Ted has a habit of unleashing his murderous inner beast when the moon is full, and the only one who can stop Tedwolf from making a meal of his sister and nephew is Thor, the family German shepherd. Yes, a non-talking dog is the protagonist of this not-for-kids flick that culminates in Ted going full monster, with the best-looking practical-effects werewolf suit I’ve seen since the original Howling.

Wednesday, June 14: The Exorcist III: Author William Peter Blatty didn’t just start the exorcism craze with his 1971 novel The Exorcist (which he then adapted for director William Friedkin’s memorable 1973 film), he also took the director’s reins for this 1990 adaptation of his 1983 sequel novel, Legion. Acting legend George C. Scott (Patton, The Changeling) is Lieutenant Kinderman (played first in The Exorcist by Lee J. Cobb, who died in 1976), who’s investigating a series of gruesome murders that mirror the style of a serial murderer dubbed the Gemini Killer—problem is, Gemini has been dead for seventeen years. The trail of clues leads Kinderman to a psychiatric hospital, and an encounter with another character from the original Exorcist—one everyone thought was dead…

exorcist3Thursday, June 15: Hellhole: This 1985 thriller is one of those exploitative “inmates running the asylum” type of psychiatric institution horror tales. After her mother is murdered by a serial killer named Silk (Ray Sharkey), a traumatized and amnesiac Susan (Judy Landers, a regular of 1980s TV shows) is committed to an institution run by an evilly crazy doctor who likes to perform chemical lobotomies on his patients—and he’s got his sights set on the new girl. And then to make matters worse Silk shows up, looking for Susan…

Friday, June 16: Rabid: Wrapping up the week is this 1977 take on the zombie-epidemic genre by writer/director David Cronenberg (The Fly, The Dead Zone, Videodrome). Rose (played by adult film star Marilyn Chambers) is seriously injured in a traffic accident and undergoes experimental reconstructive surgery, with an unexpected result: it leaves her with an appetite for flesh and blood, and her victims turn into ravenous zombies. It’s as gory and body horror–oriented as you’d expect from a Cronenberg film, so be prepared to look away if you’re not into that kind of stuff!

Of course, the reason for these selections is that all five films are available on DVD and BluRay from Scream Factory, so if you like them enough to want to own them after you’re done watching, they’re not that had to track down. Additionally, Shout! Factory TV has a slew of horror movies you can stream for free right now, including the George Romero/Dario Argento collaboration Two Evil Eyes; Larry Cohen’s Q, The Winged Serpent (one of my favorites, about a monster living in NYC’s Chrysler Building); and episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Elvira’s Movie Macabre.

5 Nights of Fear starts each night at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on Shout! Factory TV and Pluto TV Channel 512. For more information, visit the Shout! Factory TV website.

Even a Mummy Can Use a Hand, Sometimes

Mummy-HandAs I mentioned yesterday, today’s the U.S. release of The Mummy, Universal Studios’ new take on their old horror-movie franchise. So with that in mind, I figured it’d be the perfect time to reach into the horror-comic archives and pull out a classic one-page tale of the bandaged dead: “The Mummy’s Hand”! Click on the image to embiggen, as they say.

First published in Star Publications’ Ghostly Weird Stories #120 (cover-dated September 1953), “The Mummy’s Hand” was written, drawn, and colored by New Jersey native Jay Disbrow, a cult-favorite comics artist who passed away on May 2nd of this year, at the age of 91. The height of his popularity came during the 1950s, when horror comics were all the rage and Disbrow got to draw all sorts of weird and creepy monsters until the censor-heavy Comics Code Authority came along and put an end to the fun (but not for long!). But the CCA didn’t put an end to Dusbrow’s talents—he kept writing and drawing his own indie comics right up to 2005, creating such sci-fi characters as Captain Electron, Aroc of Zenith, and Lance Carrigan of the Galactic Legion.

Monstresses On the Prowl

Hey, horror fans! As you might know, this Friday is the U.S. release date for The Mummy, the latest iteration of Universal Pictures’ classic Egyptian monster first brought to celluloid life by the legendary Boris Karloff in 1932.

This time around, the titular character is a woman—Princess Ahmanet, played by Sofia Boutella, whom you might remember from the popular movies Kingsman: The Secret Service (she was the blade-footed assassin) and Star Trek Beyond. And trying to stop her plans for world domination is none other than megastar Tom Cruise, with some help from Russell Crowe—who’s playing Dr. Henry Jekyll and his notorious counterpart, Mr. Hyde! It’s the kickoff title in Universal’s “Dark Universe” line of movies, to be followed by rebooted versions of The Bride of Frankenstein, The Wolfman, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Creature From the Black Lagoon.

whitefell-werewolf-cvrSpeaking of female monsters, are you familiar with the story of White Fell—The Werewolf? Originally published in 1896 as The Were-wolf, it was written by renowned author, artist, and suffragette Clemence Annie Housman, and is regarded by scholars as perhaps the first feminist werewolf story. It’s also the launch title of StarWarp Concepts’ SWC Horror Bites line of chapbooks. Here’s the back-cover copy:

A beautiful woman wanders into a snowbound village—and into the hearts of twin brothers, one of whom immediately becomes smitten by her.

The other brother, however, soon grows suspicious of the enigmatic White Fell. Where did she come from? Why does she always carry an ax? And is her sudden appearance somehow related to the recent sightings of a bloodthirsty wolf in the area?

He may come to regret being so inquisitive…

Critics have continued to enjoy it, even 121 years after its first publication:

“For Housman, the female werewolf is a vehicle for her to present a strong feminist-inspired female character…. It is possible that Housman was telling the world that women had a hidden strength and that men should beware of their own hidden nature.”—The Nuke Mars Journal of Speculative Fiction

“White Fell is interesting because she subverts many of the tropes of the monstrous woman—i.e without maternal instincts, animalistic, lustful, etc. She is a femme fatale only in the most basic sense that she is a deadly woman.”—International Gothic Association

White Fell—The Werewolf is on sale right now in print and digital formats, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information and order it today.

Simian Saturdays Hobbits Along with King Kong 2005

king-kong2005Over at the StarWarp Concepts blog, you’ll find the third installment of Simian Saturdays, a series of reviews I’ve been doing that examine the movies (and other media) that focused on King Kong, the giant monkey who’s captured generations of monster fans’ hearts. It’s part of the SWC countdown to the March 7 (tomorrow!) release of King Kong, the next addition to its Illustrated Classics library.

In week one, I reviewed the original King Kong, from 1933. Last week, it was the 1976 remake of King Kong. Now it’s the 2005 remake of King Kong by director Peter Jackson (The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit), starring Naomi Watts (The Ring), Adrien Brody (Predators), Jack Black (Kung Fu Panda), and motion-capture artist Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron) as the giant monkey who likes climbing New York skyscrapers. Go check it out!

King-Kong-Final-FrontCvrKing Kong (the SWC Illustrated Classic) is an e-book-only release that will reintroduce monster fans to the 1932 novelization of the original movie classic. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, it includes scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. The SWC version features six original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

King Kong goes on sale tomorrow, March 7, 2017. In the meantime, visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information.

Happy 95th Anniversary, Nosferatu!

nosferatu-a-symphony-of-horror-movie-poster-1922Okay, I’m a day late in celebrating it but yesterday, March 4, was the 95th anniversary of the day in 1922 when German movie-going audiences were introduced to, and horrified by, Count Graf Orlok, the vampiric star of director F.W. Murnau’s Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. (It took another seven years before the film reached America.)

Nosferatu, in case you were unaware, was actually an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. You think Twilight is just Harry Potter with the “serial numbers”—character names and plot locations—filed off to create a new setup? Or that Fifty Shades of Gray is just a reformatted Twilight? Well, producers Albin Grau and Enrico Dieckmann and screenwriter Henrik Galeen were doing that stuff almost a hundred years before Meyer and James—only no one’s ever insisted that all copies of their derivative works had to be destroyed!

That’s exactly what Florence Balcombe Stoker—the author’s widow—demanded when she learned of the film. Originally she sued Grau and Dieckmann’s Prana-Film company for copyright infringement—Grau had never bothered optioning the rights to Dracula and just ripped it off—but when it became clear the movie wasn’t a box-office hit, she said she’d settle for all copies of it being destroyed, and the judge presiding over the case agreed with her! Luckily, some copies survived so that generations of horror fans could see for themselves what a great film it is, and how disturbingly creepy Count Orlok is, as portrayed by actor Max Schreck.

There’s another reason (isn’t there always?) I mention Count Orlok: his is one of the vampire clans featured in the Pan novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign (and the upcoming Blood & Iron)—although I spell it Orlock there. But really, he’s the same vampire you’ll find in Nosferatu. And maybe one day, if Pan is unfortunate enough, she might find herself running into that rat-faced creep…

If you’ve never seen Nosferatu because it’s an old, black-and-white silent (no sound) movie, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Go find a copy—there are tons of them out there, since the movie has long been in the public domain—and check it out!

Watching Carmilla Become One of The Vampire Lovers

Vampire_lovers_posterTo celebrate this year’s 145th anniversary of J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s gothic vampire classic, Carmilla, Pan’s publisher, over at the StarWarp Concepts blog I’ve started a series of blog posts in which I’m reviewing various adaptations (comics, films, TV) of this strange and creepy paranormal romance.

Today I’m taking a look at The Vampire Lovers, the 1970 Hammer Films version starring Ingrid Pitt as Carmilla and veteran actor Peter Cushing (whom you younger Panatics might recognize as Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope and—in CG form—in the recent Rogue One: A Star Wars Story). Head over to today’s post at the SWC blog and check it out!

If you’re unfamiliar with what is probably Le Fanu’s most famous work, here’s the back-cover copy from the StarWarp Concepts edition:

Carmilla_CoverBefore Edward and Bella, before Lestat and Louis, even before Dracula and Mina, there was the vampiric tale of Carmilla and Laura.

Living with her widowed father in a dreary old castle in the woods of Styria, Laura has longed to have a friend with whom she can confide; a friend to bring some excitement to her pastoral lifestyle. And then Carmilla enters her life.

Left by her mother in the care of Laura’s father, Carmilla is young, beautiful, playful—everything that Laura had hoped to find in a companion. In fact, the lonely girl is so thrilled to have a new friend that she is willing to overlook the dark-haired beauty’s strange actions…which include a disturbing, growing obsession for her lovely hostess.

Carmilla, it seems, desires more than just friendship from Laura….

Carmilla—the SWC edition, featuring six original illustrations by artist Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1)—is available in print and digital formats, so visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for ordering information.

Simian Saturdays Climbs the World Trade Center with King Kong 1976

KingKong-1976Over at the StarWarp Concepts blog, it’s the second installment of Simian Saturdays, a series of reviews I’m doing that examine the movies (and other media) that focused on King Kong, the giant monkey who’s captured generations of monster fans’ hearts. It’s part of the SWC countdown to the March 7 release of King Kong, the next addition to its Illustrated Classics library.

Last week, I reviewed the original King Kong, from 1933. Today, it’s the 1976 remake of King Kong, starring Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), Jeff Bridges (Iron Man), Charles Grodin (Midnight Run), and effects master Rick Baker (An American Werewolf in London) as the big ape with the deadly obsession for blond-haired actresses. Go give it a read!

king-kong-cvrKing Kong (the SWC Illustrated Classic) is an e-book-only release that will reintroduce monster fans to the 1932 novelization of the original movie classic. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, it includes scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. The SWC version features six original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

King Kong goes on sale on March 7, 2017. In the meantime, visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information.

Simian Saturdays Looks at the First King Kong

king_kong_ver7Over at the StarWarp Concepts blog, today is the premiere installment of Simian Saturdays, a series of reviews I’m doing that examine the movies (and other media) that focused on King Kong, the giant monkey who’s captured generations of monster fans’ hearts over eight-plus decades. It’s part of the SWC countdown to the March 7 release of King Kong, the latest addition to its Illustrated Classics library.

For my first review, I take a look at the movie that started it all: the original, 1933 version of King Kong, starring Fay Wray as heroine Ann Darrow, Robert Armstrong as showman Carl Denham, and Bruce Cabot as Ann’s love interest, Jack Driscoll. Makes sense, right? So head on over to the SWC blog for Simian Saturdays, Episode 1—whether or not you’ve ever seen the original Kong, you might learn a thing or two!

king-kong-cvrKing Kong (the SWC Illustrated Classic) is an e-book-only release that will reintroduce monster fans to the 1932 novelization of the original movie classic. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, it includes scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. The SWC version features six original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

King Kong goes on sale on March 7, 2017. In the meantime, visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information.

This Weekend, Get Ready for Simian Saturdays!

Simian-Saturdays-logoSimian Saturdays? “What kind of alliterative title is that?” you ask. “I bet it’s got something to do with monkeys!”

And you’d be right, although it doesn’t have anything to do with the kind of mythological orang pendek that Pan ran into in the pages of her first novel, Blood Feud (although she’d probably continue mispronouncing it as “orange pendant” if it did).

No, Simian Saturdays is a series of posts that start this weekend at the StarWarp Concepts blog in which I’ll be examining the movies (and other media) that’s focused on King Kong, the giant monkey who’s captured generations of monster fans’ hearts (like yours and mine) over the past eighty-plus years.

It’s part of the countdown that Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, is hosting that leads to their March 7th release of King Kong, the next addition to the Illustrated Classics library (the other titles being Edgar Rice Burroughs’s sci-fi adventure A Princess of Mars, J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s vampire romance Carmilla, and the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White).

king-kong-cvrKing Kong is an e-book-only release that will reintroduce monster fans to the 1932 novelization of the original movie classic. Written by Delos W. Lovelace, based on the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper and the screenplay by James A. Creelman and Ruth Rose, it includes scenes that didn’t appear in the final cut of the film—including the notorious “spider pit” sequence in which Kong’s human pursuers are attacked by horrific arachnids and insects. The SWC version features six original black-and-white illustrations by comics artist Paul Tuma, whose pulp-influenced style has appeared in the pages of The Twilight Avenger, Flare, and Dan Turner: Hollywood Detective.

As a monster fan, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the beauty-and-the-beast story of Kong and his “love interest,” Ann Darrow (who was played in the 1933 original by the queen of the scream queens, Fay Wray). But for those who aren’t, here’s the back-cover copy to bring you up-to-date:

Ann Darrow was a down-on-her-luck actress struggling to survive in Depression-era New York when she met moviemaker Carl Denham. He offered her the starring role in his latest film: a documentary about a long-lost island—and the godlike ape named Kong rumored to live there. Denham needed a beauty as a counterpart to the beast he hoped to find, and Ann was the answer to his prayers.

Mystery, romance, a chance to turn her life around, even the possibility of stardom—to Ann, it sounded like the adventure of a lifetime! But what she didn’t count on were the horrific dangers that awaited her on Skull Island—including the affections of a love-struck monster . . .

To kick off Simian Saturdays, I figured what would be better than a look at the movie that launched a monster legend: the original King Kong. So head over to the StarWarp Concepts blog this Saturday and check out my review, and then drop by it every Saturday to see what else Kong-related material I’ve dug up—the list keeps growing!

King Kong (the SWC Illustrated Classic) goes on sale on March 7, 2017. In the meantime, visit its product page at StarWarp Concepts for further information.