When I was a kid growing up in the 80s and 90s, there were so many incredible, robust toy lines to get into. I was a big fan of He-Man, Transformers, M.A.S.K., G.I. Joe and the Ninja Turtles, but there were even more ideas that seemed to just hit and disappear forever. So, you might go to the store, get something cool, tear open the box and then never know what that thing was actually called. For years, that was the case with a Pepsi can toy I have that splits open to reveal a tiny robot man and a flying…chair or something for him. Only years later would I come to find out the line was called Computer Warriors and had this great commercial!
Just look at how glorious these toys are! I was already a fan of small toys that looked like other things and could change! Plus, you add in the mystery of those things I kept hearing about called home computers and you have the recipe for something incredible! Also, maybe this is where I realized that soccer is evil!
Alas, the Mattel line apparently didn’t do as well as they hoped and it only lasted the one wave. I did just discover that there was supposed to be a cartoon as well, though it never got past the pilot stage! Oh what could have been. Actually, thinking about it, this idea could easily be brought back right now. I’ve got two kids and it seems like everything’s already about being these cool, tiny little toys. Include some blind bag options and, like, an iPad that turns into something and you’ve got a hit on your hands Mattel!
I’ve spilled a lot of digital ink this season talking about how much I love Kelley Jones’ work, especially on Batman (in posts here and here), but there’s another artist whose work is synonymous with horror in my mind: Mike Mignola. The genius behind Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. has done all sorts of work in the comics world and this post will give some love to a few of his other works that are lots of spooky fun! Here are some interesting comics you might want to check out if you don’t want to dive too deeply into those sprawling epics.
In the very same year that Gordon Hessler unleashed the very bad Cry Of The Banshee he teamed with Vincent Price again for another picture, the delightfully titled Scream & Scream Again. If you’re curious, Scream actually came out first in February followed by Banshee in July. Though I enjoyed his bonkers KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park, I was not sure how well his other film would land in what has mostly been a successful It’s All Connected. So, how’d it go?
After really hating Gordon Hessler’s Cry Of The Banshee, I was worried that the other two movies of his I planned on watching would fall flat. Luckily, I’ve had a much better It’s All Connected experience with his 1978 TV movie KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park. Less of a horror movie and more of a live action Scooby-Doo episode with a costume-loving rock band filling in for the kids and a talking dog, this is still a super enjoyable movie…if you don’t mind the title characters being VERY bad actors.
I’ve been having a great time watching connected films and a variety of horror books this season, but it’s very possible that re-visiting the Batman run by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones has been one of my favorite experiences so far. As I mentioned in the first part, these post-KnightFall books were bedrock-forming for my knowledge of not just the Dark Knight, but also the imagery of horror as put through Jones’ incredibly capable lens. As good as the Batman developments are in these issues as he regains his life after the Bane and Azrael incidents, it’s equally exciting to see these two creators work their magic on a variety of villains and co-stars.
When I first began kicking around ideas for Halloween-y books to pull off my shelves and read this season, Astro City: Confession popped into my mind almost instantly. However, when I went to said shelf, I was surprised to see that this was one of two volumes from the series’ early run that I didn’t have. To Amazon I went and now I’ve got a nice hardcover version from DC’s sadly defunct Vertigo imprint. I’m not sure it’s possible to really talk about this book without getting into spoilers, so consider yourself warned and go out and read all of the Astro City you can find!
How do you go through a particular artist’s work when you want to absorb it all? I take a variety of paths, sometimes trying to go through the efforts chronologically, other times by theme or subject. With Stephen King’s books, I’m a bit more willy nilly! I’ve read a good number so far and have purchased even more, so I often find myself staring into my horror To-Read box wondering which King to tackle next. Though I still have his latest, If It Bleeds, to devour, I decided to dip into the box and chose 2001’s Dreamcatcher for two reasons: one, it’s long and two, I heard it wasn’t very good. Luckily, I was wrong about one of those things!
I was pretty excited when I realized that my previous It’s All Connected 2020 selection, Phantom Of The Paradise, was directed by Brian De Palma. As I mentioned in that post, I’ve seen a few of his movies, but none of his horror pictures, aside from Carrie. As it happened, I was able to find many of his films from the 70s and 80s streaming, so I went through parts of his filmography in chronological order for a bit, moving into 1978’s The Fury after Paradise.
Having watched Night Of The Comet, I found myself wondering what to watch next for It’s All Connected 2020. Unlike with everything else going back to Return Of Swamp Thing, I didn’t have an instant path I wanted to follow. And then I started going through the excellent Mary Woronov’s filmography and a somewhat new old favorite jumped out at me: TerrorVision!
Immediately after finding my way to the excellent Valancourt Books while reading Paperbacks From Hell, I became enamored with the publisher and their PFH label. I’d missed the first ten entries (though I’m going back and picking them up as I make my way through the series), but I didn’t want to miss out on future installments, so I jumped at the chance to pre-order the next one they announced: the 1988 horror-sci-fi-action-thriller Stage Fright by Garrett Boattman. I mean, just look at that cover!