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.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #11 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #11

The Schedule: Office grunt Gleason is no longer getting his work done, because he's far too busy playing with the Configurix, "a wooden puzzle he had purchased at a local curio shop."  His boss, Mr. Moore, is none too happy about his lack of productivity lately, as he is a firm believe in machine-like order.  In the end, the puzzle is solved, and when the Cenobites arrive to take who has summoned them, they find a very like-minded individual in Moore.  The moral of the story is summed up pretty nicely by one of the Cenobites: "Sometimes what must be solved is more than you can hold in your hand."  Indeed.  Not a great tale by any stretch of the imagination, but it is a nice little change of pace.

The Devil's Brigade Part 8 - Command Performance: Leo Shabel, his hope and ambition fully recharged after his previous appearance, is back in action, leading protests, going on hunger strikes, and opening homeless shelters in his best effort to restore order to his chaotic neighborhood.  What's better, cities across the globe are taking up Leo's call-to-arms, and turning things around.  The Cenobite Face is something like his case worker, doing whatever is needed to keep Leo on the proper path.  I doubt that even Face was aware of the dark turns that it could take, or the twisted appetite that hides even in a man who is seemingly so kind.  A much better story than I would have expected, with some rather disturbing twists and turns along the way.

Publish or Perish: This is a short, dumb little story that thinks it is pretty smart.  A math professor who specializes in fractals (theoretically bringing order to chaos) has made some sort of a backdoor deal with a big, blue-faced Cenobite named Lace.  With the professor's theories and Lace's power, they were supposed to remove chaos from the human form, but it didn't work out that least not in the eyes of Lace.  Boring, and Lace looks like Cookie Monster's lost uncle.

The Devil's Brigade Part 9 - No Loss to the Community: Officers George and Elliot of the special task force in Philadelphia are sent by the Cenobite Atkins on their latest mission.  Atkins is supposed to be using them as pawns to help ease racial tensions on the street, but he's not doing a very good job of it, and things just keep on getting worse.  Maybe there's a reason for that.  It's like you just can't trust a demon these days.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #10 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #10

Devil's Brigade Part 6 - One True Faith: Father Abaddon's closest confidante, Luke, is a troubled man who has good intentions, but his actions too often interfere with the order that Hell desires to keep in place.  The librarian Cenobite (Balberith) is dispatched to take care of him, which she does in a rather mundane way.  A dull and not altogether comprehensible story, which seems to be the standard for these Devil's Brigade entries.  Perhaps as a collected whole, they would reach much better, but so far they have been mediocre at best when read on their own.

The Sweet Science: Heavyweight boxing champion Billy Moore has grown extremely bored with his cushy life.  He has everything in the world that he could ever ask for, but it's simply not enough.  What he really wants is a challenge.  Luckily (?) for him, he utilizes aspects of the sweet science in just the right combination to unlock the gates of Hell, and he's dropped into the ring with one mighty brute who promises the fight of a lifetime.  The art is colorful, with an almost graffiti-like quality to it at times.  Once again, though, this comes across as the prologue to a story that was never written.  Boring.

The Devil's Brigade Part 7 - Commitment: This picks up at the AIDS research center, some time after Pinhead's previous entry left off.  This time around, another scientist is growing envious of the resources that Dr. Gioeli is afforded, and suspicious of her relationship with the lab directory--and well he should be.  She's having lots of kinky sex with the man...who is actually Pinhead, getting his rocks off at the same time that he's helping to restore order.  This jealous scientist is willing to do anything to make her see that searching for the cure is not just a puzzle of numbers and equations, but that it is about people suffering from an affliction.  Anything, including making a deal with a certain Cenobite.  The artwork is fairly terrible here, everybody looking blocky and generic.  The story itself is mediocre, but the ending is actually pretty great, proving that sometimes a deal with the devil works out in Faust's favor.


Comic Review: Hellraiser #9 (Epic Comics)

Hellraiser #9

Closets: This is a pretty disturbing story about cycles of abuse, how it carries over from one generation to the next.  A young boy, locked in the closet by his mother, finds the puzzle box and disappears.  His mother is ashamed and regretful, and she goes looking for him.  She finds him in the care of the Cenobites, and although they are willing to release him, she is not so lucky.  We quickly learn that although the boy is free from the Cenobites, that does not mean that he is free from Hell.  Pretty damn good, and succinctly told.

The Tontine: Another deliciously twisted tale about a group of soldiers who routinely evade death during wartime.  Once the war is over, they are still addicted to the rush, so they meet up once a year for a game of Russian roulette, played until there is one less member to attend the next meeting.  Dark and depressing, but not without its own shadowy beauty.

Devil's Brigade Part 4 - Shoot High, Break Low:  An African-American male police officer and his Caucasian female partner are chosen to be a part of a special task force to help end racial tensions in Philadelphia.  They each have their informants, but even those informants are getting their information from somewhere.  Namely, Atkins, the soldier Cenobite.  There is no sense of fear or suspense here, and I find Atkins to be a ridiculous Cenobite (but he is definitely a product of the decade this story comes from.  Think of him as Cable of the X-Universe, but from the past instead of the future).  When the story ends, it just...ends, without much having happened.

Devil's Brigade Part 5 - Passion: A beautiful scientist seeking the cure for AIDS is willing to do almost anything to get the resources that she needs, even if it means sleeping with the sleazy research director who has the power to grant her the laboratory time that she requires.  He has been toying with the puzzle box, however, and calls forth Pinhead himself.  Pinhead offers him a job in Hell, strips him of his skin, and puts it on like a cheap suit, just as the the scientist shows up to exchange favors for favors.  The artwork is sketchy and unpolished, though it does occasionally have its charms.  I wish the same could be said for this story, which again ends before much of anything happens.



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