Thursday, December 26, 2013

Movie Review: Dust Up (2012)

Dust Up
DUST UP - Poster Image

Written & Directed by Ward Roberts

Jack...Aaron Gaffey
Mo...Devin Barry
Ella...Amber Benson
Buzz...Jeremiah Birkett

DUST UP - the Three Amigos

Former soldier Jack has given up his life of violence in favor of a life of tranquility, meditating in the High Desert, working as an occasional handyman, and chatting idly with his Native American comrade Mo. Jack is a one-eyed Zen master, calm, cool and collected, but the violence he keeps locked beneath the surface is about to bubble to the top.

Jack accidentally finds himself involved with Ella, a pretty young mother and her crank-addicted husband Herman, who is deep in debt to Buzz, the local crime lord. When Herman can't produce the money he owes, Buzz comes a-calling, and the dynamic duo of Jack and Mo are forced to intervene.

DUST UP - (Billy) Jack

To call Jack a modern day Billy Jack might be pushing things a bit, but there are definitely elements of that character to be found here. The Billy Jack franchise was a decidedly serious (albeit sometimes ridiculous) series, whereas Dust Up falls back on toilet humor a few too many times. I'm all for the few comedic elements in the film, but the dick and fart jokes seemed out of place and rather tiresome.

The poster and the premise may seem reminiscent of a sleazy 1970's picture (and indeed the hissing, slashing character of Mr. Lizard could have been written for Michael Berryman), but this is shot with a considerably modern flair with none of the throwback, retrosploitation trappings that you would expect.


It is fabulously scored, well acted and competently shot. The character of Mo is one of my favorite creations in recent memory, making a nice counterpoint to Jack's silent and brooding self. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie--much more than I was anticipating, actually. I just wished that it would have taken itself more seriously at times and not always have gone for the easy chuckle.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Review: Here Comes the Devil (2012)

Here Comes the Devil

Written & Directed by Adrián García Bogliano

Sara...Michele Garcia
Adolfo...Alan Martinez
Felix...Francisco Barreiro
Sol...Laura Caro

While their children Sara and Adolfo go for a hike up a country hill, married couple Felix and Sol stay behind to exorcise their lust in the very romantic setting of a truck-stop parking lot. After the requisite post-orgasm nap, the children still have not returned. The police are brought in, and early the next morning, they are found safe and sound, having spent the night lost in a cave.

Felix and Sol try to return to their normal family life, but the kids are behaving somehow...differently. A visit to a medical doctor and a psychologist suggest that they may have suffered some untoward trauma in that cave, and the parents (if not the police) have one solid suspect. There is much to suggest that whatever happened to them was not the work of man, however, but something much, much worse.


This Spanish-language film is partly steamy, partly surreal, but all suspense. It's a dark journey full of unspeakable things--some blatant, some only suggested--and it will leave your nerves frayed and your teeth aching from being so tightly clenched. The performances are solid all around and the relationships completely believable. The musical cues perfectly suit each moment and serve to heighten the appropriate mood.

It may but be fast-paced enough for everyone, but the patient viewer will find plenty to enjoy here. It's a morbid and fantastic little treat.

Special thanks to Magnet Releasing for the screener!

Not Rated
97 Minutes
Spanish (English subtitles)

"We are the devil, and we've come for you."

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Crypt...IS HERE!

The much-anticipated Eli Roth-approved iPhone app THE CRYPT is finally available!  Want to get in on the action?  Just head on over to the ios app store and search for The Crypt.  Just look for the happy little fellow above--it should be the first result to pop up.  So what is The Crypt?

"The Crypt is your central mobile hub for horror news, video, images, articles and more - created by industry professionals and fans alike."

Meaning, that aside from the assemblage of staff writers (including yours truly, I am proud to say), all of the readers can become writers as well, submitting content at the click of a button.  So what are you waiting for?  Get up on it!


Friday, December 6, 2013

Movie Review: S#X Acts (2012)

S#x Acts
S#X ACTS - Cover Image

Written by Rona Segal
Directed by Jonathan Gurfinkel

Gili...Sivan Levy

When Larry Clark's Kids hit theaters in 1995, it was met with boundless controversy because of its graphic depictions of teenage sexuality, drug use and violence. That is to say, Kids was controversial because of its graphic depictions of reality. But that was (unbelievably) 18 years ago. This year, Larry Clark's movie is old enough to vote, old enough to buy cigarettes, old enough to star in pornography. Hell, Kids is finally old enough to go watch itself in the theater.

An awful lot can change in 18 years, everything from technology to social mores, so someone was bound to film the next generation of youth spiraling out of control. I suppose I just wasn't expecting it to come out of Israel. Not that it matters. With social media and mass communication, culture has been globalized to the extent that the kids are recognizable, the fashions are recognizable, and the music is recognizable--even if you can't understand the lyrics.

S#X ACTS - Pretty Gili

Beautiful high schooler Gili has recently transferred schools, hoping to improve her social standing in new surroundings. She befriends popular boys Tomar and Omri, and a little teenage lust quickly devolves into something darker. With every encounter becoming more and more sexual, it's not long before she's being passed around like a communal cigarette.

Not long ago, a teenage girl could sleep around and have only rumors to contend with. These days, everybody has a smartphone, and proof of these sexual encounters is only a sly slide of the finger away. The attention that one receives for indiscretions easily becomes negative attention, and although Gili seems like she wants to escape from this vicious circle, it doesn't appear as if she knows how. And because of this, she doesn't even try, relegating herself to being used and abused by a pack of would-be Frat Brats who have never been denied anything. It's infuriating and heartbreaking to watch innocence shattered in pursuit of a happiness that will never come.

S#X ACTS - The Threesome

Detractors of this film will say that it is rather plotless, and there is some truth to that. It floats along from day-to-day, offering up slice-of-life glimpses of Gili's exploitation, and then it ends rather abruptly.  You won't walk away from this movie feeling entertained...but you also won't walk away from it before the closing credits begin to roll.  You'll find yourself too entrenched in the despair to look away.  Don't think of S#X Acts as entertainment, don't even think of it as a movie.  Think of it as fictional reality, one that the majority of parents simply don't won't to acknowledge.

This movie should be just as controversial as Kids, however I'm willing to wager that it will come and go without nearly the amount of uproar.  This could be a sign of the changing societal mores previously mentioned, but more than likely there's another explanation.  It is a foreign film, and it is subtitled, and that brings with it a stigma that stings both ways: a large portion of the movie-going public will not sit down to watch a movie that requires reading; and those that do watch it will tend to think of it as an art film--never mind the fact that if all of the same actors spoke English, they would consider it exploitation.  In a case such as this, controversy works as publicity, and so I fear that not nearly as many people will see this movie as they should.

This isn't the type of film that I normally review here, but sometimes you have to expand your boundaries to see a bit more of the world around you.  Recommended.

S#X Acts is available on VOD, and is playing in select theaters.

Special thanks to Tribeca Film for the screener!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Movie Review: Snapped (2005)

SNAPPED - DVD Cover Image

Written by Steve Abbott
Directed by Jeff Prosserman & Julan Van Nil

Amy...Tiffany Amber Knight
Rose...Nataloe Van Rensberg
Trevor...Michael Bien

When does a crime scene photograph become art? According to Snapped, when it’s placed on a gallery wall instead of an evidence locker.

Amy McCanic is commissioned by a morbid museum curator to photograph the recently murdered. Sensing that this could be a turning point in her life, she leaves her junkie painter boyfriend Trevor and shacks up in a boarding house with her rather slutty best friend Rose. Reflecting on her relationship, she’s overcome with rage and inspiration. To earn her paycheck--and I mean really earn it--she takes it upon herself to supply the corpses she photographs. Sleazy landlords, paranoid winos, ape-like lady loansharks. Nobody’s safe from the slaughtering shutterbug. But when her boyfriend kicks the habit and concentrates on his painting again, a bitter rivalry springs up.

Or something like that.

The acting is mostly mediocre, except for the museum curator whose overblown grandiosity makes the others seem talented. The ladies are both delicious and jiggly, however it’s going to take a whole lot more than giggles and jiggles to save this film from itself. The concept is so ludicrous after a while that to try to sum it up could only make it appear more plausible, and the “twist” ending didn’t help matters along at all. In the end, it’s just another head-scratcher amateur outing that belongs in the throwaway bin.

Rated R
84 Minutes
United States


Sunday, November 17, 2013

DVD Review: Roger Corman's Horror Classics Vol.1 (2013)

Roger Corman's Horror Classics Vol.1

Film Chest Media recently released the 3-disc "collector's set" Roger Corman's Horror Classics, Vol. 1, each disc containing one of Corman's beloved horror cheapies--A Bucket of Blood, Dementia 13, and The Terror.  It's true enough that all three of these films have been released umpteen times on DVD, often crammed together in multi-disc sets from archive houses like Mill Creek.  It's also true that all three of these films have fallen into the public domain, and so they are easily found online to watch for free.  But this is, I can comfortably say, the best that any of these films have ever looked.

These are old films that were shot cheaply on film more than fifty years ago(!), so don't expect pristine, digital quality.  These are, however, HD restorations from the original 35mm prints, and much of the expected image blips and flaws have been eradicated.  The picture is much sharper and clearer than any of the other releases that I have seen, opening up a whole new world of detail to the viewer.

They are presented in widescreen format, which in itself is missing from many of the old bargain bin releases, and all except for A Bucket of Blood are offered in 5.1 stereo.

It's nice to see a house like Film Chest giving these PD films the respect they deserve, though I admit that I wish there were more in the way of bonus features.  Aside from film trailers and brief "Before & After Restoration Demos", there's nothing to keep you occupied once the films are complete.  A film historian's audio commentary track or a short documentary about Corman would have been an excellent addition.

Still, for Roger Corman fans who are looking to upgrade their collection, this is a pretty nice place to start.

Special thanks to Film Chest for the screener!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Movie Review: Reel Evil (2012)

Reel Evil
REEL EVIL - DVD Cover Image

Written by Shane Bitterling
Directed by Danny Draven

Kennedy...Jessica Morris
Cory...Kaiwi Lyman
James...Jeff Adler
Dirk Bailey...Michael Cline

A trio of documentary film makers accept a less-than-ideal job in order to pay the bills: shooting a behind-the-scenes making-of-documentary on the set of the latest horror picture from producer Dirk Bailey. In order to give the movie a little added production value, it's being filmed in an old mental asylum--one that is supposedly really haunted. If nothing else, it gives the documentarians something to explore when the rest of the cast and crew prove to be a bunch of uncooperative bastards.

REEL EVIL - the documentary crew

Kennedy, Cory and James wander into the darkened corridors with cameras running, hoping to capture a little haunting on film. They get a lot more than a little.

It's hard to believe that this was Full Moon's first stab at a found footage film. Full Moon being a lower-budgeted production house, and found footage being such an effective technique for disguising a low budget, it seems like a natural fit. But how well did they do with it?

I'm an unashamed fan of found footage and mockumentary films, as any readers of my blog surely know. I've seen a metric ton of them, and still haven't burned out...though there are more bad ones than there are good ones on the market. With Reel Evil, Full Moon has found a comfortable middle ground. It's not good, it's not is just okay, which is still a damn sight better than some.

REEL EVIL - Spooky ghost

Found footage fans may find the usual things to like here (POV shots making it easier to feel a part of the action) and the usual things to dislike (shaky-cam may upset the stomachs of those with delicate constitutions). Full Moon fans, though, may be disappointed by the fact that this doesn't feel in the least like a Full Moon movie--meaning there are no killer dolls or low-brow humor (the latter having become something of a fascination with them lately). I for one was glad for the change of pace, and although this won't make my theoretical list of Top Ten Best Found Footage Films, it certainly won't make my list of Top Ten Worst, either.

Not the best that the Full Moon catalog has to offer, but better than a lot of the slop they've been dishing out in recent years.

Not Rated
United States


Monday, November 4, 2013

The Crypt is coming...

Oh, yes it is.
And I have a front row seat...

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Comic Review: Hellraiser #20 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #20

Wordsworth: The title character is a lonely librarian whose only friends are the limitless books that he has at his disposal. Enamored with words and wordplay, he is adept at crossword puzzles. They rarely offer much of a challenge, until an unusual one is passed onto him which not only knows his past, but his future as well. So obsessed is he with the solution that he will plumb the darkest pits of his soul to find the answers. To sum up: Fan-freaking-tastic. I have always said that this series has the potential to rival DC's Sandman series, so it's no surprise that having Neil Gaiman scripting (with inherently creepy artwork by Dave McKean, who supplied covers for Gaiman's Sandman) should produce such a slam dunk. It's two mad geniuses working together. This story could've consumed the entire issue, and I would've been a happy camper.

The Girl In The Peephole: Arthur Smack somehow gets a job at a mental institution, despite his less-than-savory past. He sees it as an opportunity to help others while simultaneously helping himself; a way to atone for past sins. But when he is transferred from the main floor to Ward S, where all the most dangerous patients are housed, there is something hidden behind one special door that makes him forget about atonement, desiring only fulfillment. The unique combination lock that prevents him from getting through that door presents a challenge. One could almost say...a puzzle.  This is a good story that makes you think about forgiveness and redemption, and what it takes to receive it.  It also brings to mind the unusual benefit of the Hellraiser franchise: you can safely root for the Cenobites, because more often than not, they are monsters punishing monsters.  Nobody likes the devil, but you still applaud when an evil man gets sent to Hell.

The Last Laugh: Have you ever wondered what Cenobites do in Hell on their days off?  Apparently they spend it in a little hot spot that is one part Evening at the Improv and one part The Gong Show.  Stand up comedian siblings the Fabulous Funoli's are caught in an endless cycle of comedy routines that always fail to impress the audience, resulting in a good long torturing between sets.  Luckily for them, one of the Cenobites staffing the club isn't really a Cenobite.  It is, instead, Ron Ringwood of the Harrowers in quite a clever disguise, and he is there to rescue them.  As with the other Harrower solo story from the previous issue, it hardly qualifies as a story.  It's just something that happened.  Still, it offered a unique (and frankly unlikely) glimpse into the social life of the Cenobite, and as much as I wanted to dislike the really made me smile.  So I guess that's something.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #19 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #19

Roulette LeMarchand: Following the events of the Devil's Brigade storyline in Philadelphia, gang member Carlos flees from his rival Vito's gang into the tunnels beneath the city, where he spies an old man tinkering with a puzzle box.  The old man opens it just as Vito's boys show up, and they are painfully attacked by the chains of Hell.  Scooping up the box, Carlos mistakenly thinks that it is a weapon which can be used to defeat Vito's gang once and for all--and beyond that, to become the supreme leader of all the gangs in the city.  Carlos and Vito set up a meeting and they play a game of Russian Roulette, using the box as the handgun.  But no matter who wins, everybody is going to lose, because as one of the Cenobites says, "When you pray to darkness, it is darkness that answers."  A decent story, but still a far cry from the artistry and subtle strokes of genius that made me fall in love with this series a number of issues back.

In These Blue Depths Lie Hell: This story bounces between the year 1528 and the "modern day" of 1992.  In the former, a group of explorers are seeking a spiritual treasure, and in the latter another group is seeking material treasure.  Shared blood and shared sins lead the two to coalesce in some sort of nexus point where they are forced to do battle with the Cenobite Hunger.  Another okay story, but nothing to write home about; although there are a few pretty cool scenes, like where Hunger stretches a woman's mouth out to epic proportions, and he looks especially devious crouching over the body of another unconscious female.

Death, Where Is Thy Sting?: Another sea faring period piece here, opening up with the diary entry of Phillip Johnson, whose son Robert accidentally opened up a puzzle box and unleashed the Cenobite Fulgar.  In order to spare his children from Fulgar's grasp, Phillip strikes a bargain for he and his wife to be taken in their stead.  Fulgar was to return for them shortly, but they did not wait as they promised.  Instead the Johnsons jumped ass on a ship and hightailed it across the ocean.  Flash forward to the modern day, where Vera Wyshack of the Harrowers stumbles across the wife of Daniel Johnson, an ancestor of Phillip who has just recently disappeared after solving the puzzle box.  Using her goddess-given boomerang, Vera slices through reality and takes the two of them into a cozy little corner of Hell where Daniel and all of his ancestors are waiting to be rescued and reborn.  Despite my high hopes for the Harrowers, this was actually a pretty bad story.  Cenobite bees, and a demon beekeeper with a neck like a giraffe?  Come on, now.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #18 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #18

Love Is A Many Splendored Thing: In an unlikely turn of an events, a Cenobite by name of Draleba refuses to take the beautiful Esioleh to Hell when she solves the requisite puzzle.  Why?  Because he has defied his demonic nature and fallen in love with her.  In some ways, this story echoes the tale in the previous issue, although the circumstances behind a Cenobite not returning to Hell with the soul he was sent to retrieve are different.  It was a much more interesting story last time, though this one is not without its merits.  The artwork is almost photo-realistic, which is fine, however it makes the sound effects and word balloons seem very out of place.

The Harrowers Part 2 - Insurrection: With Bunny Benedict a prisoner in Hell, the goddess Morte dispatches her Harrowers to rescue her.  The Cenobites won't give her up too easily, though, and the General constructs a Frankenstein Monster of demonic parts called The Furiae to defeat them.  The battle is brief, but the Harrowers are victorious.  Morte is fully freed from her tomb and the Furiae takes her place, one of the Harrowers lost to battle it for eternity, and a Cenobite--against all odds--dies a true death, and on its home turf, no less.  And Pinhead, for one, is not happy.

The artwork is well done but laid out with such manic intensity that it is often difficult to ascertain what is actually happening on the page and in what order.  It does produce a few killer full-page spreads, though, including Pinhead in all his raging glory.  With this second entry in the new storyline, a few of the sillier notions become more clear--Vera's saliva is like acid to the Cenobites, so much of her time in battle is spent hawking loogies on demons; Lucinda and Lavinia have a spiritual guide of sorts named Ovid, who appears in the form of a cherub and is "miasmic"--meaning that he farts a lot, and the stench disorients their opponents; Winston Gage has a pet kitten with whom he can swap spots with at will; and Ron Ringwood, well...Ron has hair like Vanilla Ice.  'Nuff said.  Can the horror overcome the absurdities?

Only time will tell.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #17 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #17

Taste the Darkness: When a young woman solves the puzzle box, the Cenobite that comes to take her away discovers that she doesn't meet the standard criteria--she isn't looking for something; she didn't obsessively seek out the box; she didn't struggle to open it; and she didn't willingly call forth the gates of Hell. But still, he can not return empty handed. It's a nice, quiet little story that I quite enjoyed. There's no element of horror here, but it fits nicely into the franchise, even making a casual mention of Kirsty from the first few films. Whirl-Jack, the Cenobite, actually seems like a pretty decent fellow when it comes down to it. He's got a little rockabilly vibe to him, too. I kinda like him.

The Harrowing Part One - Resurrection: The imprisoned goddess Mamme Morte (see last issue) proceeds to fulfill her prophecy by sending out six flies, which have fed upon her flesh, to collect six specially chosen people to become the Harrowers: motorcycle-riding tattoo artist Ron Ringwood; death row inmate Vera Wyshak; animal lover Winston Gage; beautiful English twins Lavinia and Lucinda (who count as one, of course); brilliant former-professor Dublin Morse; and public works employee Marty Sevenbirds.  One-by-one, they are touched upon by Morte's flies in varying ways, and they all make haste to what will become their headquarters: Legs Benedicts' Egg Museuem in Joplin, Missouri (run by the aging Bunny Benedict)--situated directly above the goddess's grave.  An earthquake opens up the Earth, exposing a staircase that leads to the puzzle room where her previous tribe of Harrowers met their fate.  Upon solving the puzzle and releasing the goddess, each are given a purpose in life, a special ability, and a weapon made up of her power.  Hell has six warriors of its own, though, and they are ready and waiting for the war to begin.  This storyline looks as if it will have drastic implications for the Hellraiser world, and although it is definitely something new (never before have the Cenobites had anything close to real opposition), it might just be what is needed to breathe some new life into the franchise.  Think of them as the Hellraiser equivalent of Nightmare on Elm Street's Dream Warriors.  Already I am enjoying it much more than I did the convoluted and anti-climactic Devil's Brigade story.  Unfortunately, this series is winding down, and the Harrowers have only a few more appearances here before branching out into their own series.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #16 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #16

Devil's Brigade Part 17 - Fury: With her AIDS research banned by the World Health Organization due to the controversy that it created in a previous entry, Dr. Gioeli is at a crossroads.  Does she continue working on her vaccine that can save millions of lives, or does she follow the rules and simply give up?  Visiting Dr. Fisher, a former coworker who has AIDS, Gioeli illegally offers him the vaccine for a human trial.  The results are quite positive, so Gioeli pulls a little slight-of-hand maneuver to sneak her vaccine into mass production.  It's just too bad that she didn't wait long enough to find out about the side effects...  Another mediocre entry in this tedious, overlong storyline.  This issue promises to bring the whole thing to a close, though, and then hopefully the series can get back on track.

This, I Saw: This is something of a prelude chapter to a new ongoing storyline called The Harrowers.  Here, a young native boy is sent into the wilderness as part of a coming-of-age ritual, and he consumes a hallucinatory medicine that brings him visions of an ancient entry in the Hellraiser franchise.  Goddess Morte Mamme is buried in a pit by Hell's minions, in order to inhibit her powers.  This pit is the only direct route to Earth from Hell, and by doing this, they are sacrificing their ability to freely travel between the two.  Mamme's tribe of followers, the Harrowers, are locked in a stone room with a particularly Saw-like puzzle to solve.  Mamme is still a prisoner beneath the Earth, but the story is to be continued, ending with the prophecy: "One day another six shall come to wage war on the God of Many Points.  For even the strong can be taken, and even mortals may play a part in the battle against the Dark One."

Devil's Brigade Part 18 - Reckoning: The Devil's Brigade stand trial in the infernal courtroom--all except for Pinhead, who has mysteriously gone AWOL.  Many believe that Pinhead, once the favored-son of Hell, has become a traitor to the cause, but he arrives in typical dramatic fashion to declare that although it may appear that he has failed in his mission, the failure is an illusion that will only serve to strengthen Hell's power.  There are some interesting things on display here, like the courtroom weighing the hearts of the Cenobites against the weight of a pile of eyeballs (a bastardized version of the ancient Egyptian myth of weighing the heart against a feather to decide a soul's final resting place).  The morbidly obese Cenobite Griot was a cool addition to the line-up, tattooing his endless flesh with Hell's History as it is being written, like a living grimoire.  It's too bad that it doesn't appear he will be making a return appearance...


Friday, November 1, 2013

Comic Review: Hellraiser #15 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #15

Of Love, Cats and Curiosity: An old widow, who has nothing left in her life but her cats, discovers that one of her pets has been mutilated and murdered by the sick man living next door.  She uses the puzzle box to call forth Pinhead and his minions, and although they want to take her soul, she strikes up a deal with the Cenobites: vengeance for her cat, first; then her soul later.  Not a great story, simply because there is so much that happens outside of the panels that we never actually see.  The artwork is decent, but the artist doesn't quite capture the character of Pinhead.  He seems somehow off-model.

The Devil's Brigade Part 15 - The Cenobite Always Rings Twice:  AIDS researcher Dr. Gioeli is about to present her research and discoveries to the World Health Organization when a rival researcher, Dr. Burnich, arrives on the scene claiming that she stole his work.  Luckily Pinhead is on the case, and he finds a properly hellish way to force Burnich to revoke his complaint.  Not a bad story, but again, I'm growing tired of the serial format.  It was a little unsettling to see Pinhead giving the Bad Doctor a blowjob and mounting him in the buff, even if he was wearing a woman's skin as his own.  That's a dedicated Cenobite, though, always willing to take one for the team.

The Devil's Brigade Part 16 - The Kold Red: Cenobite Atkins, who has been letting the carnage get out of hand, is paid a tortuous visit by Pinhead in order to put him back on the straight and narrow.  Racial tensions are only increasing on the street, as they are between Officers Jillian Elliot and Lester George--who are supposed to be putting a cap on the problem.  Rival gangs go to war and race riots erupt at the same time as the mayor steps into the public eye for a press conference.  Things spiral out of hand quite quickly and Atkins joins in on the carnage, prompting a return visit from Pinhead...and a presumably angry homecoming for Atkins.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #14 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #14

Later: This story has a truly perverse villain, who recounts his dirty deeds to the Cenobites in hopes of winning their favor and allowing him to join their army.  In life, his M.O. was to attack a woman, and then leave them with the promise that he would return later to finish the job.  He would then watch her, send her little messages to know that he was still out there and would be back soon.  His onslaught against her would be so relentless that she would be tormented to the point of suicide...another soul for Hell.  After all these gifts to the dark lord, doesn't he deserve a reward?  The Cenobites are not so sure.  It would have benefited from a slightly longer page count, but not bad for what it is.

The Devil's Brigade Part 13 - Breakdown in Red: After murdering his love interest Lisa Ann in an earlier installment,  Leo Shabel vows to find out how he was manipulated into committing such a heinous deed.  Face, behind the scenes, is thrashed by Flagellum for going off-script and putting his mission in danger.  Face appears in the flesh to Leo and drives him mad, giving into the sickness that he has harbored for so long.  Although Flagellum insists that Face has failed in his mission, he doesn't seem concerned.  "What failure?" Face asks.  "It was a Hell of a show."  This is the finale of Face's Devil's Brigade adventure, which is rather sad, as it is the only one that I have consistently enjoyed.  He remains my favorite Cenobite, so I've got my fingers crossed that he will still crop up from time to time in the remaining issues.

The Devil's Brigade Part 14 - Echoes, Dreams and Revelations: Rival evangelists Samuel and Abbadon have been fighting for dominance, but it is Abbadon who comes out the victor here.  With Abbadon leading his own religious army (the strings being pulled by the old biddy Cenobite Balberith), the world is a garden that needs weeded of non-believers.  As the story ends, a new age of inquisition is just beginning.  I'm hoping this truly signals the end of this storyline that I found more confusing than interesting.  It could have been so much better than it was.  The artwork here is strange, seemingly mimicking archaic woodcuts at times.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #13 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #13

The Ferryman: A racist senator with plenty of skeletons in his closet is about to be investigated by the FBI.  Needing money, and lots of it, to cleanse his past, he goes seeking a treasure that is probably more myth than fact, and the key to finding that treasure is first finding a mysterious puzzle box... It's a decent little story full of downright despicable characters whose suffering deserves to be legendary.  The idea of a ghost ship, acting sort of like a Mobile Hell Unit, is kind of a cool idea.  Some of the Cenobites are rather silly looking, though--one is a tough and salty seadog with hooks for hands, another looks like some sort of sea monster, and yet another appears to be at least part fish, while the guardian of the puzzle is, on occasion, a vicious little seagull.  The artwork is odd, too, looking almost like colored chalk on a blackboard.

Dead Things Rot: Gardner Delming, an unemployed man living in the squalor of a rundown apartment building, is hiding a rather large secret.  He is the serial murderer that the news has come to call the "Parts-is-Parts Killer".  His place is strewn with body parts, and he hears an insistent voice in his head.  It would be quite easy to dismiss him as insane if not for the fact that the voice is very real, belonging to a prisoner of Hell who has struck a deal with the clown Cenobite Winkydink, and is manipulating Gardner into taking his place.  There is an almost Frankenstein-like quality to this story, and the artwork from Mike Mignola is quite good.  It is short and sweet, sick and slick, and overall quite good.  Winkydink appears drastically different from the last time we saw him, no longer a living cartoon but a perversion of a children's party clown.  The twist ending was quite fitting, too.  Very nice.

The Devil's Brigade Part 12 - Endolsung - The Final Solution: The Cenobite Abigor completes her mission in Volksland as the Prime Minister restores order to the country through Genocide.  American reporter Jack Kurtis records everything to the bitter end, then sacrifices everything to save a pregnant woman who can get his story to the outside world.  A dark and depressingly real horror story.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #12 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #12

With My Lips: A nameless man, who once opened the puzzle box, now hangs suspended on a meat hook in hell.  He is only half of a man at this point, used up, a piece of meat in a celestial butcher shop.  The butcher here is a lady Cenobite with razors for fingers, who slices him apart piece-by-piece, using his parts to craft new wholes.  Despite the pain of his existence--in fact, because of it--he has fallen in love with her, but he is unable to express his feelings, as his tongue was the first organ to go.  Just being in her company is almost enough to satisfy his desire...until she takes another lover.  This is a damn fine little story, a fucked-up little romance tale, that although it doesn't add anything to the mythos, fits in with it quite well.

The Devil's Brigade Part 10 -  Black and White: Following the race riots that erupted at the end of a previous entry, Volksland is on the verge of a civil war.  Pieter Schoeman, Minister of the Interior, is being manipulated by the Cenobite Abigor to put things back on the orderly path.  Unfortunately, the orderly path involves the murder of a white man guilty only of loving a black woman.  Again, the horror here is too real to be entertainment.

The Devil's Brigade Part 11 - Believe the Sinners: Following the death of Luke in the previous entry, two former members of Samuel's religious commune seek out Father Abaddon to tell him about the dangers of the Cenobites, but it does very little good.  Their actions (and Cenobite Balberith's interference) only result in them being institutionalized.  I wasn't impressed with either the artwork or the story here, as I'm having a bit of a difficult time trying to follow what the Hell is going on.  I've come to realize that I much prefer the done-in-one storylines, and am looking forward to the impending conclusion of this over-reaching tale.



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