#SupernaturalSaturday Comic Review: Lucifer #6

(Submitted by Senor Prince Adam…Thanks for kicking ass, Kinky Kolleague! 🙂 xoxo)

“Rosemary’s just an average American co-ed bringing her boyfriend, Takehiko, home from college to meet her parents, who happen to be Satanists.” (Vertigo)


When I first started reading through this story, I thought that this was going to be a one off filler issue. Instead, what we get is a jaw dropping mythological twist and the setup for the next big arc. The issue starts off very casually enough. It’s about a boy and a girl, heading to a seemingly quaint town in New England, so the boy can meet the girl’s parents. You even see the girl warning the boy that her family is weird and to be prepared for anything. The stereotype is perpetuated by the boyfriends typical reaction of shrugging her warnings off as hyperbole. While this may sound like a typical romance story, it is anything but that. Shockingly, Rosemary and her parents. are part of a group of Satanists, living in the town of Devil’s Knob. Maybe the name of the town and the fact that this is a Lucifer comic book, should’ve made me think twice about writing this issue off as a romantic filler with some scares. As Rosemary tells her boyfriend the history of Satanism in the town, we the reader get just enough exposition that we need for the payoff for the rest of the story, we learn that a resident named Gordo, who started a church because he knew that if he ran a church, he’d never have to pay taxes, That reasoning is so humorous , yet so believable. I can imagine some lazy bastard doing this because he didn’t want to pay taxes. The fact that the church is in part a Satanic church and a club for Death Metal Band, serves the nature and tone of the comic book on the whole and the overall story. Rosemary tries to soften the idea of her parents being Satanists for her boyfriend Takehiko, by telling him that while there is a segment of Satanists who believe in a devil with horns and a pitchfork, for most, including Rosemary and her parents, Satanism is about physical gratification, putting yourself first, lusting after hot people, eating inappropriately, being a bitch or an asshole and treating it like a sacrament. Takehiko asks Rosemary if there are any true demonic or ghost stories associated with the church, she say yes. We then get the story that really kicks this comic into a high gear and it starts to have relevancy. During one of the parties, things got too crazy and the church/house burnt down with a drunk girl named Joanna Newton, who died inside. Gordo then, as folklore tells it, sold the girls soul for money to build a new church. If this were any standard romance story, the boyfriend would cut it and run. Instead, Takehiko says he’s looking forward to meeting her parents and attending their church function. He is ambushed by her parents and other members of the congregation, who are naked except for wearing robes and horns. They pull a blade on him, claiming to sacrifice him for Lucifer.

At this point, Takehiko snaps and calls them blasphemers and summons the supposedly dead Joanna Newton. Turns out Joanna survived the fire and managed to escape, after Gordo and the others left her for dead. This revelation means that, the deal Gordo made in exchange for her soul is incomplete. After learning the demon Gordo made a deal with was Asmodeus, Takehiko summons him. Here’s where the real twist comes in. Asmodeus is Lucifer’s brother and uncle to Takehiko, meaning Takehiko is the first born son of Lucifer. The book ends with Asmodeus ordering Takehiko to return to hell, allowing him to bring Rosemary, while he keeps Gordo as a slave, as a means to fulfill his deal. With Lucifer back in action, Asmodeus indicates it’s time to challenge Mazikeen for the throne and reclaim his birthright, becoming the King of Hell. I’ll be completely honest, I did not see that twist with Takehiko coming. The sad thing on my part, is that there were hints. For example, its mentioned that, his father was long gone and that eventually he would have to deal with the family business. These bits of writing were in bold, so I should’ve paid them more attention. Even worse, there were small demonic wings sprouting out of his back, as he was having sex. I’m going to use the fact that there was a sex scene and the fact that I was so engrossed in the backstory of the Satanic Church, thus I missed it. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it. There was no mention of Lucifer having children in the first story arc and I don’t know enough about Neil Gaiman’s initial run of this series, Given that reasoning, I have to give credit to writer Holly Black, for writing such a fascinating and distracting story.

Art for this issue was drawn by Stephanie Hans. This is a different artist than the first story arc but I liked her work just as much, if not more. While I said that a page or two looked painted in the last story, this whole book had a painted look to it. Specifically, an oil paint style. I don’t think it is actually painted though as it’s not mentioned anywhere in the credits info. Also, they don’t mention a colorist, so I’m going to assume, that too, was done by Stephanie Hans. The opening scenes, with the young couple driving through a wintery New England, was idyllically picturesque. I know people who live in New Hampshire and winter’s can produce quite the snowfall, so this imagery has some accuracy to it. The flashback scenes to the drunken party had this purple filter to them. I’ve seen color pallets such as this used in films and television when people get piss drunk or sky high and I like that this book borrows stylistic choices from other media. The art for the fake Satanic sacrifice ritual poked fun at the stereotypes that are out there about Satanism. I like that the art and this book as a whole, is very self aware and does this sort of thing. While Lucifer and his son look nothing like the stereotypical version of the devil, I’m glad others like Asmodeus do have the more red skinned, horned demon look we are used to. Gives the book some variety. Regarding Takehiko’s red demonic looking wings, as opposed to Lucifer’s white angelic looking wings. I’m going to assume this is due to the fact that Takehiko’s mother is an ancient Japanese demon herself, while we must remember that Lucifer is in fact an angel. Once again there is plenty of nudity in this book and it is very naturalistic and never done to be in your face, or over the top.

This issue is a great example of what a stand alone issue after a main story arc should be. A more personal intimate story that gives the reader time to catch their breath, while at the same time, getting us excited for what’s to come. I am beyond excited for the Game of Thrones-like supernatural battle for the throne of hell, that is about to go down. This book may be about the devil but the quality of writing and art continues to be heavenly good! It’s worth your time and money. After reading this, I am definitely going to do a commentary article on the television series, after Season 3 concludes, especially with Smallville alumni Tom Welling on the series.

Movie Review: Jeepers Creepers 3

(Full length review submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie. I wasn’t gonna touch this one!! 😉 xoxo)

It’s quite difficult to discuss Jeepers Creepers 3 without mentioning director Victor Salva’s sordid past in some capacity. His actions have divided horror fans and cast a grim shadow on the popular franchise. However, For this review, I will separate the art from the artist. In no way do I condone Salva’s crime, but my opinion will be based solely on the film itself and not on its director. So, when divorced from its creator, is this film any good?

No. Not at all.

Jeepers Creepers 3 takes place after the final moments of the first film.  Brandon Smith reprises the role of Sgt. Tubbs, who joins forces with Sheriff Tashtego  (Stan Shaw) to hunt The Creeper (Jonathan Breck), a winged creature who feeds on human flesh every 23rd day of every 23rd Spring. The two cops eventually team up with Gaylen Brandon (Meg Foster), a half-mad woman who has a history with the creature. Will they succeed in killing the beast or will he feed again in another 23 years? Considering the recent talk of a potential fourth installment, I think you can guess the answer.

Stripped of its controversy, Jeepers Creepers 3 has very little to offer, save for a few unintentional chuckles.  There’s nothing clever, intriguing, frightening, or even weird about it. I’m generally not the kind to be overly critical of a creature feature, but there’s just nothing here. I wasn’t a huge fan of previous entries, but they weren’t quite this bad. And not a fun sort of bad, either. Jeepers Creepers 3 is awful in the most ordinary way. It borrows ideas and frights from other scare fare, but without any life or joy. It’s rare for me not to enjoy a monster-on-the-loose picture, but I’m afraid that this film wasn’t all that frightful.

If you’ve seen the other two films, this one offers nothing fresh or interesting. It teases an origin we never get to see and turns The Creeper’s truck into a Mario Kart-like abomination, but that’s about every new element it has to offer. Imagine a SyFy Channel reboot of the franchise and you’ll have a decent idea of what this film is like. There were a couple of shots I thought were wonderfully moody, but that’s hardly enough to recommend an entire movie. Even the acting, with the exceptional of the great Meg Foster, is blandly poor. Almost everything about this film is uninspired.

The Creeper, once a fairly intimidating force of supernatural evil, is played in a ridiculous manner that suggests camp, but feels out of place in a film that is otherwise pretty straight. Now, I don’t mind a cheeky monster, but it simply doesn’t work here. Even in his first big scene in the film, The Creeper kills all potential menace he might of had by literally wagging a finger at a victim. Apparently, The Creeper enjoys Twilight Zone: The Movie….

If you’re a die-hard fan of this franchise, you may get some amusement out of this film. There are those who’ve been clamoring for this film for over decade now. I’m not one of them, I sincerely hope that this film lives up to their expectations. But for those simply looking for a good monster movie about a man-eating creature that comes every 20-plus years, I suggest you see IT.  Heck, see IT again, if you’ve already seen it. You’ll probably get more out of a repeat viewing of that film than single viewing of this forgettable fright flick.

#TerrorTrailerTuesday: The “King of the Silver Scream” Edition

Beep-Beep, Fright Fiends!

2017’s been a real groovy year for The King, hasn’t it?

Mr. Mercedes, The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game, and IT… no matter where you go, King’s creepin’ up with ya! And with the gargantuan success of IT and the announcement of Suffer the Little Children, it seems like the King renaissance is going to keep on floatin’!
In ho-nor of the man who was Richard Bachman, we’ve gathered up some of the most frightful ‘n’ delighful trailers for some of our favorite King scarefests! Telekinetic creeps, ghosts, things from the grave, killer cars, werewolves, and the Devil himself… these trailers prove that King knows how to show a ghoul a good time! 🙂
Let the trailers begin!!!!!! 

and my personal favorite…

Hail to the King, Baby!

Movie Review: Death Note (2017)

(Ho-wdy, Ho-rror Ho-mies…Apologies for dropping the ball a bit around here for the last little bit. I had some personal matters to attend to, butt now I’m back in action and ready to make the spookening happen. 🙂 First up, a review of something near and dear to my cold, black heart…Death Note. This take on the new NetfliXXX adaptation presented by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for the interesting input, Kinky Kolleague! 🙂 xoxo)

It’s a tired cliche to say that the pen is mightier than the sword, but that old chestnut is given new gravity in Adam Wingard’s Death Note, an American incarnation of the popular Japanese franchise. In the film, a few strokes of a pen etched within a most peculiar notebook are all it takes to kill anyone at anytime. Imbued with the abilities of a literal death god, the titular “Death Note” is the murder weapon to end all murder weapons: elegant, efficient, and damn-near impossible to trace. The notebook’s current owner uses its awesome power to purge the world of those he deems evil, resulting in an epic battle of wits between the wielder of the book and those who seek to stop him.

Since 2003, Death Note has been adapted many times over. Starting with the anime adaptation of the original manga, each interpretation retains the primary characters and certain scenes, but always tells its own version of the tale, with new twists and wrinkles. However, despite the many variations on the same story, it seems most adapters agree that the material is simply too much to tell one outing. The manga spawned 12 volumes, the anime series has 37 episodes, the Japanese live-action films gave its take in two films, and the live-action mini-series had 11 episodes. Regardless of the changes made, Death Note is still a massive story.
And that is where the problems begin. A story as sprawling as Death Note shouldn’t be confined to a little over 90 mins.  The picture feels rushed and overloaded, losing much of the power previous tellings had. What’s worse is that precious screen time is spent on paltry teen drama that exists in no other version. Instead of building up the rivalry between the murderous Light and the detective L that’s so central to the franchise, it places emphasis on a boring girlfriend character who would not be out of place in a Disney Channel movie. Much of the suspense is replaced with teen angst, questions on the nature of justice are tossed out for bland romance,  and the Light depicted here is more of an awkward teenager than a diabolical vigilante. The entire affair has the unfortunate quality of feeling like a man in an iron maiden: cramped and bloodless.

Despite these considerable flaws, I actually did find quite a bit to love here. Adam Wingard’s direction is superbly stylishly, with extraordinary color usage, some fun death scenes, and some truly moody moments. Light’s character is significantly neutered compared to previous takes, but Nate Wolff does an admirable job as this version of the character.  The other performances range from pretty good to downright excellent, with Lakeith Stanfield’s L and Willem Dafoe as the death god Ryuk emerging on top. Speaking of Ryuk, the effects used to bring him to life(?) are simply marvelous, giving him a Satanic grace and a perfectly demonic appearance.

Death Note is likely to disappoint fans of the source material, but may be of interest to those who love teen horror. There are moments that evoke the black magic of the franchise, but it’s best taken as on its own.  Wingard’s film is deeply flawed, but not without flashes of greatness. Perhaps if he makes that rumored sequel, Wingard will deliver a film that lives up to the both his own potential and that of the material. There’s still time to make us see the Light.

Kinky Komic Book Review: Army of Darkness Vs Re-Animator

(Submitted by Mr. Dr. Prince Adam of Themyscira…Thanks, Suoer Fiend! 🙂 xoxo)

“This Army of Darkness features the crossover no one ever expected to see: Army of Darkness vs. Re-Animator! Ash Vs. West! The Ultimate Lovecraftian battle as Herbert West leaps from the literary page to fight Ash! Winner takes all! Ash finds himself committed to Arkham Asylum. It’s here that he runs afoul of a rather ghoulish and creepy Herbert West… and the battle of the century begins!” (Dynamite)

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read anything by H.P. Lovecraft, nor do I have any knowledge of his work on the Re-Animator. What I have gotten used to is this Army of Darkness comic book.  The Deadites get free, chaos ensues and Ash has to defeat them, often haphazardly and leaving destruction and a bloody wake in the aftermath. This book has been able to keep this formula from getting repetitive twice over and does so a third time in this story.  Both stories since the movie adaptation has rejoined our hero shortly after the events of the film,  This story takes place literally minutes after “Shop Til You Drop Dead.”  Once again, before any of the present day action gets underway, Ash gives us a recap of the previous stories. What I like about this is that Ash pokes fun and acknowledges how ridiculous  and crazy the events that happen to him are.  This is the first time the book gets meta on us, When we get to present day story telling, Ash is surrounded in the S-Mart, by dead bodies and Detroit Police.  Ash is arrested and dubbed “The S-Mart Slasher”.  It makes sense that the police would blame him.  There is no evidence of Deadite presence, only dead shoppers, Ash covered in blood, with the only survivor being his girlfriend Sheila. A judge and jury deem him insane, and remand Ash to a mental facility for rehabilitation.  Things get interesting when the book shifts to the mental facility, named Arkham Asylum. Now either there’s a real mental hospital named Arkham Asylum in Detroit, Arkham Asylum was first created for Re-Animator, or this is a clever reference to Batman.  I’m going to assume it’s a Batman reference, so it remains cool and extremely awesome, which is what I thought when I first saw the reference.

Editor’s Note: Arkham is a fictional city that appears in many works by H.P. Lovecraft. Batman’s Arkham Asylum is a reference to Lovecraft.

What’s great about the Asylum setting is that new readers checking this out, will wonder if Ash is really crazy, only to discover he’s not as the story goes along.  Meanwhile,  long time fans know that he’s not crazy, the monsters are  real and things will get a lot worse.  This is where the Re-Animator comes in.  Herbert West is the head doctor, and in his spare time has been using the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis to perfect his Re-Animator formula, in an effort to defeat death.  He makes a deal to release the Old Ones, aka the masters of the Deadites. In exchange for Eternal life and a mastery over death, he will free them.  In anticipation of the Old Ones arrival, Herbert West opens a portal, releasing Deadites into the world.  I loved this for two reasons. Herbert West in trying to reanimate the dead, is a fresh take on more recent takes of zombies, while being a throwback to Frankenstein.  Also, it was refreshing to see the Deadites brought to Earth on purpose, rather then Ash bumbling a spell again and accidentally releasing them again. Herbert West had a bit of a Hugo Strange flavor to him. It wouldn’t surprise me if Batman writers borrowed from H.P. Lovecraft, when creating Doctor Hugo Strange.

Like previous issues, Ash has some help in his battle with the Deadites and Herbert West’s Frankenstein creations. In past issues, Ash’s help came in the form of an ancient sorcerer, much wiser then him.  Often, this humorously made Ash look like an inexperienced buffoon,  Here though, Ash is aided by a fellow inmate/movie buff and a parapsychologist, who both believe him to be the chosen one to defeat the Deadites and prevent an apocalypse.  The tables are turned this time, as the inmate/film buff Deuce Bellcamp is the clueless simpleton, whereas Ash is the Deadite fighting veteran.  Ash pokes fun at the fact that Deuce is a bit on the rotund size and is casually dismissive of the parapsychologist nicknamed Sugarbaby.  Ash’s trademark snark and attitude are on display here, but he never becomes so obnoxious that you can’t stand him.  Good on writer Jim Kuhoric for finding that balance.  The book once again gets meta, when these two unlikely allies return Ash’s chainsaw and broomstick.  These aren’t the genuine article, but instead props from a movie called Army of Darkness based on him.  They also tell him “fictional novels”, and a Broadway play based on him exist.  Is this some kind of art imitating life, inside of art stuff happening here.  Someone call Christopher Nolan, there’s some Inception level shit happening here! As the trio tries to escape Arkham Asylum,  Ash notices Sheila’s reflection in a mirror and is pulled into a Mirror Dimension.  There he discovers the real Sheila, the real Dr. Herbert West and even H.P, Lovecraft.  Meanwhile, Deuce and Sugarbaby are captured by the evil version of Dr. West. I like that H.P. Lovecraft is put into the book. A great homage to the creator of the Re-Animator.  You can definitely see the reverence the writer has for Lovecraft, as he is the one who gives Ash a special magical necklace, which allows him, and only him to escape. Before Ash escapes, he tells Sheila he will reunite her spirit with her body, freeing her from the mirror dimension. Back in the “real world” Deuce has been experimented on and his body parts used as part of the Re-Animated Masterpiece, which is multiple body parts sewn together from different people.  This “Ultimate” Frankenstein includes parts of Sheila’s body. When Ash returns, he rescues Sugarbaby, defeats the Re-Animated Masterpiece monster and prevents the Deadite Doppelganger of Herbert West from finishing a spell that would bring the old ones to Earth.  The Supernatural energy from that disruption, causes Arkham Asylum to collapse. Ash, Sugarbaby and even Herbert West’s evil doppelganger, manage to escape, before the entire building collapses.  I love that this ended on a cliff-hanger.  I have so many questions? Did Sheila die because her body was part of the Re-Animated Masterpiece? Or is her spirit still trapped in the Mirror Dimension? There’s even more of a reason to read the next volume now, not that I wasn’t going to anyways.

Sanford Greene and Nick Bradshaw share art duties for this story.  I have to give credit to Sanford Greene for his work on that recap page. It’s crammed with imagery from all 3 previous volumes but never feels like it’s overcrowded or too much to look at.  It looks as though it’s popping off the page, as if it were 3D! I loved the monsters that Ash first sees in Arkham Asylum.  They’re unique and look like a mix of a fruit on steroids, a Teletubby and a Pokémon.  We actually see drawn full pages of the Necromicon Ex-Mortis.  The imagery on the page was more muted, which was unique because the only other book I’ve seen with even less color, in black and white in fact, is The Walking Dead.  The other reason this is unique is because muted or black and white, usually denotes flashbacks but in this case, the book shows the events that are currently happening to Ash.  The Mirror Dimension looks like a dreary swamp. There is a cavernous underground bunker Here we see the real Herbert West, Sheila, and H.P. Lovecraft all in costume, as Alice in Wonderland characters. The Alice theme is here, as a nod to the portal that leads both Ash and Alice into another dimension being a mirror. It’s a nice bit of unplanned synergy, adding even more weirdness to this already strange story.   As soon as I saw these pages, I thought, if they turn this story into a film, either Guillermo Del Toro or Tim Burton should direct it.  The most gory and violent scene is the Arkham Asylum hallway scene.  Picture Wolverine during one of his berserker rages, now replace Wolverine and his claws, with Ash and his chainsaw and you get the picture.  The Re-Animator Masterpiece is almost a snake like looking collage of all different bodies stitched together, Frankenstein style. It’s quite uniquely grotesque.

Last volume had a few stumbles but was still enjoyable.  This book is a return to greatness, on par with the first few volumes. I still haven’t watched any of the Ash Vs. Evil Dead TV series, but this book led me to a resolution. After the next shortened season of Game of Thrones, I’m going to binge watch both seasons of Ash vs Evil Dead.  In the meantime, I’m going to read more Army of Darkness and so should you.

Movie Review – Annabelle: Creation

(Submitted by Mr. Anton Phibes…Thanks for the insight, freaky friend! 🙂 xoxo)

(Spoilers, obvi. :))

I just love a good amusement park spook ho-use. If you frequent this site, you likely share that sentiment (and also, THANK YOU, YOU ROCK! 😉 -DP). Spook houses are always immensely popular during the Halloween season, and a good few scare up some good business year-round. They have haunted us since at least 1915, utilizing the same reliable scare tactics for decades. You know the ones I mean… flashing colored lights, hanging sand bags masquerading as the dead, and actors in fright masks jumping from out of a dark corner to deliver a well-timed “BOO”. Most of these attractions employ these ancient tricks, but some do It with more imagination and skill than others. Haunting a house is art like any other.
The same applies to cinematic hauntings. 2014’s Annabelle is pretty mediocre fright fare.  By no means is the film terrible, but it’s out of the mind as soon as you’re out of the theater. All of the classical tools of terror are present, but they aren’t harnessed to their full potential. However, Annabelle: Creation is a fantastic spook house, with similar jolts handled with greater style and a keen eye for horror. There’s hardly anything new about it, but it is perfectly frightful.
As one can deduce from its title, Annabelle: Creation is an origin story of sorts. After the untimely death of their little girl, a toy maker and his wife allow an unknown entity to transpose its essence into one of the toy maker’s dolls, believing it to be the spirit of their daughter. Unfortunately, the entity is not their daughter and is demonic in nature. Twelve years after entrapping the unholy abomination, the couple provide shelter in their home for a nun and six young girls. When one of the girls unwittingly releases the demon, unearthly horrors target the inhabitants of the house in a most ghastly fashion.

Backstories for monsters and madmen can be a tricky business. Horrific beasts  run the risk of losing their ability to inspire fear when they are known to us. Thankfully, this film avoids that by keeping the demon vague and the threat credible. While there aren’t buckets of blood being dumped about, grisly imagery is still abound. My personal favorite bit of macabre madness involves scarecrow that truly understands the first 5 letters of his title.  Of course, Mr. Scarecrow is just one of many eldritch monstrosities that lurk in the shadows of this picture. There’s a horror for all tastes here.

The cast is all-around excellent, but the true stars are young actresses Lulu Wilson and Talitha Bateman. Wilson and Bateman play sisters and they work off of each other in extraordinary fashion. Their performances are a huge part of why this film works so well. Having appeared in this, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and Deliver Us from Evil, I’m willing to call 11-year-old Lulu Wilson the world’s youngest Scream Queen. As for Bateman, her performance is truly haunting and to say anymore would ruin the fun.
Annabelle: Creation is an old-fashioned yelp-yarn that proves that the old tricks still have power in the right claws. It is the rare sequel that surpasses the original so completely that one almost forgets that it is a sequel. For lovers of spooks and shock, this film is a beautiful nightmare. This is how you haunt a house.

 

Goon Review: The Gate (1987)

(Submitted by Mr. Andrew Peters…Thanks, Ho-rror Ho-mie! 🙂 xoxo)

The PG-13 rating seems to carry around a certain stigma with it these days. In the last decade whenever a new movie is released and it’s rated PG-13, it more often than not means that it’s been watered down and stripped of anything that could make it rough or edge just to sell more tickets, but given it the illusion it’s not a childish PG rated film. I’m not speaking against films that are rated PG-13 themselves, but there are instances when a movie is softened to the point of having no impact. However, that wasn’t always the case. It used to mean it actually contained content that’s more for a young adult audience, perhaps to rough for a teen audience. They contained swearing, nudity, blood and even the tones were much darker.

1986’s The Gate was only rated PG-13 and it’s pretty damn scary in both tone and some of the imagery. When I recently revisited the film on Blu-ray from Vestron Video, I was still blown away by some of the content in the movie. It’s safe to say that it was definitely way darker than I remembered. When I was a kid, it always freaked me out. I remember my stepbrother would bring it over and we would wait until after midnight to watch it, as if we were daring our senses to not get scared and rewatching it now, those feelings came rushing back. Not only that, but I realized why it had such an effect on me; it works as both a teenage adventure in the vein of something like Monster Squad or The Goonies and also as a horror film. Not something that can easily be done, but you throw in some likable characters and some killer creature effects and you have yourself a sure winner.

A really young Stephen Dorff, the man who is better known as “the guy who almost consistently has a career,” plays Glen, your average kid who likes to build model rockets and any trouble he gets into is incidental. Before leaving for whatever reason for a few days (just long enough for evil shenanigans to happen) Glen’s parents are digging a large tree out of the yard and it leaves behind a noticeably large hole that seems to contain geodes, so he invites his nerdy, metal friend Terry to help dig some up. Man, there’s something that dates the film; people having an interest in geodes. I should also mention that Glen gets a splinter covered in blood and drops it into the whole, because as we all know, anything involving demons needs blood put into something. Believing to find the mother of all geodes, possibly being a whopping hundred bucks, the two manage to crack it open. Meanwhile, Glen’s cute sister, AJ, is throwing a party downstairs and it’s getting out of hand! There’s all kinds of tomfoolery, like witchcraft and they even manage to levitate Glen, which freaks him out and sends him crying to his room. Luckily, AJ is a good sister and lets Terry spend the night. This is where things start to get freaky.

Believing that he was seeing his dead mother in the middle of the night, Terry finds Glen’s dog dead, but things start to escalate. The next day, AJ’s crush, Eric, gets tasked with taking the dog to be disposed of properly, but the place that does that just so happens to be closed… at like, sometime in the early afternoon. Maybe the keep odd hours. Well, seeing as how there’s a dead dog and a giant hole, Eric just tosses the poor mutt’s body down there and wipes his hands clean. Literally, there is a shot of him cleaning his hands. What harm could come out of unknowingly throwing a corpse down a demonic hole?

Rocking out alone in his bedroom, as ‘80s kids were prone to do seeing as there was no internet, Terry realizes that his heavy metal record seems to be speaking of a recent similar experience involving demons and a gate. It’s a good thing for Terry and Glen that the band decided to use the an entire album as a chronicling of the demons; who they are, where they come from, how to stop them, ya know, plot convenient stuff. They immediately tell Al and the three of them head out into the backyard to investigate the hole and, to their surprise, it’s covered up, so they believe whatever they did sealed away the evil, unbeknownst to them it was covered up by Eric while burying the dog. Now that the gate has a sacrifice, the real party can begin.

Everything is seemingly back to normal and while Glen and Terry have their respective company over, little demons stop by to crash the party. These demons are amazingly well done with a mix of very impressive stop motion and force perspective cinematography of actors in demon suits, so it looks like they are right there with the actors. The stop motion is so good that you can even see the demons’ chests.moving up and down, to simulate their breathing, but that begs the question why do demons need oxygen? I’m taking a jab, it’s not even a nitpick. In fact, it breathes life into the practical effects (no pun intended… okay, a little intended). The three struggle to fight off the little monsters and if that’s not enough, a zombie, the dead body of a fabled construction worker that was buried within Glen’s walls, crashes through the wall and begins taking them all away until Glen is left alone to defend himself against the evil and stopping them from taking over the world. If Stephen Dorff couldn’t stop Blade, I don’t know how he plans on stopping this thing.

The Gate is a such a wonderful movie that works well on all aspects, it doesn’t matter what it was rated. The bit of comedy works and the characters are likable and sympathetic. Terry’s backstory is hinted at here and there and although he’s given the cliched trope of ‘dead mother and father is too busy with work,’ you still feel for the poor kid. He’s comes across as troubled and he’s very aggressive toward anyone but Glen. You get the feeling that if he continues down this path, he could very well end up doing something terrible to others and himself. Of course, this film isn’t about him or his life story, but he’s developed that well. Glen and AJ have a bit of a damaged relationship now that she’s getting older and wants to be accepted by the cool crowd, so she dismisses her younger brother, but you get the notion she feels awful about it. Glen clearly is feeling the separation from his family seeing as nobody seems to want to spend time with him and his only friend, Terry, is slowly slipping away. I think the film is about regaining your relationships with others just as much as it is about demons from Hell.

And of course you have the demons, the little imps, who don’t make an appearance until the final act of the film and it’s actually better that way. I know most films now need to show something in the first five minutes out of fear of losing the audience, but with The Gate you are more engaged with the characters and just to tease you, there are hints of freaky things happening around the house. I was never bored spending time with these characters, in fact I would love to see the further adventures of (yes, I know there is a sequel that follows Terry). It’s well paced and builds up to the moment the demons arrive and when it does, it goes full out and doesn’t let up until the end. As the film goes on and spookier things begin to happen, the lighting changes dramatically. Bright blues and magentas are used in place of normal colors and the black shadows become heavier. It doesn’t reach comic book-esque levels of lighting, but it changes enough to let you know that something from another world is coming. Among some other effects aside from your minor cuts and bruises is the zombie who rather than looking like a gory, goopy Romero zombie looks instead like he’s covered in dust and decayed. Ya know, as if he were hidden in a wall, so it works. The film does shy away from a few gory shots, like when a character is stabbed in the eye with a Barbie doll leg and another’s face caves in. There are obvious quick edits around it, but it’s forgiving.

Having the film restored on Blu-ray from Vestron is worth it alone, but there are enough bonus features on the disc fill a hole in your backyard with. Not one, but two audio commentaries are present, including one with Director Tibor Takacs, Writer Michael Nankin, and Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook and another with Special Effects Designer & Supervisor Randall William Cook, Special Make-Up Effects Artist Craig Reardon, Special Effects Artist Frank Carere, and Matte Photographer Bill Taylor. That’s enough for some replay value, eh? There’s also several featurettes, like The Gate: Unlocked, Minion Maker, From Hell It Came, The Workman Speaks, Made in Canada, From Hell: The Creatures & Demons of The Gate, The Gatekeepers and Making of The Gate. Do I need to mention there’s also TV spots, a theatrical and a teaser trailer along with a storyboard gallery and a BTS gallery? Because there are.

The Gate does more than fulfill my nostalgic need for ‘80s adventure and horror; it also makes me incredibly happy. I know that may sound weird about demons coming out of a hole in the ground and terrorizing kids, but there’s something very innocent and honest about the film, while remaining scary. I’m sure because of the lack of gore and swearing it managed to dodge an R rating, even though at one point someone is called a fag. Hey, it was the ‘80s and nobody knew what it really meant. Anyway, when I say there’s something honest about it, I mean that the characters and their relationships or what they are going through is so relatable and I think that’s why it not only ties into how scary the film is, but also of why it’s still reflected upon today positively.

Comic Book Review: Preacher Vol 2

(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks, Super Fiend. 🙂 xoxo PS– If you missed Adam’s review of Preacher Vol 1, you can check it out here :))

“In this continuing saga of the bizarre life of a faithless Texas preacher, Jesse Custer heads to the south to confront the extremely dysfunctional family that abused him as a child and planted the original seeds of his disillusionment with the world. Now merged with a half angelic, half demonic being, the former preacher looks to exact revenge against those who simultaneously raised and destroyed him.” (Vertigo)

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This may be the continuing saga of Jesse Custer and while he is continuing his journey to find and question God, the story is largely a one off story arc that gives more perspective on Jesse’s back-story, after Tulip and Jesse get captured by T.C and Jody, two of Jesse’s grandmother’s henchmen.  During their captivity, Jesse tells Tulip things about his past that she didn’t even know. We learn that his parents met, fell in love, had Jesse and ran away from her Bible belt cuckoo for coco puffs mother, who eventually had her own family tracked down and brought home.  She orders the couple to get married and raise their child to be a pastor. The child is homeschooled and must read at least one page of the bible a day. When Jesse’s father tries to orchestrate an escape for his family from his oppressive mother-in law, she has Jody kill him, while making her daughter and grandson watch.  If you think that makes Marie L’Angelle deplorable, you’ll hate her even more when you see how she disciplines young Jesse, When he acts out towards her two cronies. She has her own daughter killed, tells Jesse it was all his fault, and then locks him in a coffin and submerges him in a water. Sure, she provides him with a means of getting oxygen, but leaves him without food or sunlight for a week., She would do this several times to break his spirit, until he agreed to her wishes. Eventually, he grew to love God, because with his parents gone, his grandmother being a psychopath, and Jody and T.C. essentially being two inbred killers, his bible readings suggested that at least God loves him. However, after seeing all the horrors Jesse saw and experienced in his youth, it’s no wonder modern day adult Jesse Custer has a love/hate relationship with God. I must say that Marie L’Angelle is easily the most vile villain I’ve read in comic books. Yes, even more so then the Joker. Anyone who would kill their own child, or torture their own grandchild is the lowest of the low. I know she’s fictional, but whenever I see characters harming kids it gets to me. Her two helpers weren’t any better. Jody was a redneck, racist bastard and T.C. was an absolute freak show. Listen everyone has kinks, but literally f**king animals, that’s just wrong on so many levels. Oh and if that isn’t sick enough, he staples little Jesse’s dead dog to a fence post. Honestly, while I appreciated the flashbacks for elaborating on Jesse’s disposition towards God, but the material presented here is tough to take, even in comic book form.

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Even though it seems as though this book really doesn’t deal with the mythology set up in the first story arc, that changers in the last act of the book. The reason that Jesse’s grandmother has kidnapped modern day Jesse, is apparently at the behest of God. One of the twists in this book is that Grandma talks to God, through a mirror, and he tells her to kidnap Jesse and Tulip, then kill Tulip, so Jesse will have no one to resist for. God has rendered the power of Genesis useless against Grandma, Jody and T.C. After Grandma completes her mission and has killed Tulip, God does a WWE type swerve, resurrects Tulip and tells her to convince Jesse to stop searching for him…or else.  Meanwhile he gives Jesse his “voice of God” power back so he can lay waste to his grandma, and her version of dumb and dumber. It feels great watching Jesse get revenge on this terrible trifecta. It’s an uplifting sequence in otherwise a depressing book. It’s also worth noting that the show and book deviate from each other. In the show, Jesse becomes a Pastor to carry on from his father’s work. There’s also no mention of his mother or grandmother as of yet. In the book, Jesse’s father fought in the war and wasn’t a priest at all, but a member of the navy. Some people may have an issue with how God is portrayed in this book, but I don’t. I mean. It’s not as if we haven’t seen God ask a believer to sacrifice their child as a show of faith, only to change his mind afterwards. I mean, have you read the Bible? God’s back and forth and choosing sides, leaves me really curious as to what his ultimate end game is in the overall Preacher story.

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Just as Garth Ennis returned to write the second volume, so too did artist Steve Dillon to draw the book. While the art was good once again, I do have some issue with it. First off, is the way John Custer, Jesse’s father is drawn. Aside from shorter hair and being clean shaven, he looks EXACTLY like Jesse. I know father and son are supposed to have a similar look, but they’re not supposed to look like identical twins. I also didn’t feel as though this book had any pages or splash pages that really made me stop and stare. There was no WOW factor in the art of this book. I did love the pages where T.C, gets his brains bashed into the floor over and over again. Also, seeing Jody getting choked out was immensely satisfying. The detail in the brain blood spatter of TC, and the life leaving Jody was quite impressive. The imagery of Grandma’s house burning down with Grandma inside was strangely beautiful and left me with an immense sense of closure. The imagery really puts you in Jesse’s shoes.

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While I understand the necessity of the flashbacks and appreciate the perspective they give us about Jesse, I think they disrupt the flow of the story set up in volume one.  While the story was well told, it was a step down in quality from the first installment. Also the dreary and depressing nature of this story causes this story to lack reading repeatability. Had this been the first story arc, it’s highly likely that I wouldn’t have had a desire to read further installments. If you’re a completest, read the story. Otherwise, just read this review and skip tp volume 3, which I am still looking forward to reading and reviewing for you