The 10 Best Stories from the Early Days of Creepy

Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Horror once ruled the roost when it came to comics. Back in the '40s and '50s EC Comics dominated the market with books like Tales From The Crypt and The Vault Of Horror, but after the hysteria whipped up by Freric Wertham lead to the Comics Code, rules were specifically written to kill horror comics. That didn't stop Warren Publishing from coming along in the mid '60s and resurrecting the genre with anthology magazines like Creepy and Eerie.

Creepy combined many elements found in its predecessor's works, like a pun-loving host in Uncle Creepy and fantastic artists, but avoided EC's near obsession with endings that were sometimes too clever for their own good. The stories were drawn in moody black and white by legends like Reed Crandall, Al Williamson, Frank Frazetta, Jack Davis, Angelo Torres, Joe Orlando, Gray Morrow and Alex Toth and mostly written by legendary editor and writer Archie Goodwin with a few other folks along for the ride.

Several years ago, Dark Horse started an ambitious reprint project, presenting hardcover collections of Creepy in five issue chunks. Here's a look at the legendary horror comic's first five issues from 1964 and the ten best, scariest, weirdest and most innovative stories that still give us the willies five decades after they were originally published, presented in chronological order.

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The 20 Most Deserving Victims in the Friday the 13th Films

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Paramount PIctures

It's that Halloween season, so you know what that means: horror movie marathons! This year, we decided to take a look at every single one of the Friday the 13th films from the 1980 original to the 2009 remake. As the series grew Jason from a creepy kid popping out of the water at the end of 1980's Friday the 13th, to a cybernetically enhanced monster in Jason X, and then back to his woodsman roots in the 2009 remake, one thing stayed consistent over the franchise's 33 years: these things are packed with unlikable, awful characters who, in the moral code of a horror film, deserve to get dispatched with a machete, corkscrew, harpoon or what-have-you.

We're talking about the incredibly mean girls and guys, the obnoxiously awful townspeople, the kid-terrorizing adults, the worst parents around and even a few other killers. After spending hours watching all 12 films in the franchise, we compiled this list of the 20 most deserving victims in the Friday the 13th films.

Before continuing, be warned: the following list is jam packed with spoilers and NSFW clips.

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10 Bizarrely Great Manifestations of Brother Theodore

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Halloween is in the air! And there's little that can put some of us in that festively macabre spirit like the rantings of the great Theodore Gottlieb, a.k.a. Theodore, a.k.a. Brother Theodore. A fixture for decades on the Manhattan theatre scene, this one-man spook show - storyteller, actor and stand-up absurdist philosopher - was one of the pioneers of what is now called "performance art."

Theodore ultimately gained a small degree of mainstream celebrity, as a curmudgeonly, hilariously contentious talk-show guest. But he'd been on the fringe of American show business since the 1940s, soon after he'd fled his native Germany and wound up in California, with few skills beyond a talent for chess. His long, peculiar list of credits ranges from porn movies to NPR radio drama, from serials to Tolkien to Tom Hanks.

If you've never heard of him - and even you have and want to relive his high points, as you should - here are ten highlights from a strangely great career...

1. David Letterman Guest

Theodore had been a frequent talk-show guest since at least the '60s, grousing and grumbling to Dick Cavett, Jack Paar, Johnny Carson and especially to Merv Griffin - it was Griffin who, noting his clerical or monastic appearance, had dubbed him "Brother." But the generation who grew up on Stupid Pet Tricks and Top Ten Lists first became aware of him through his many appearances, in the '80s, on Late Night With David Letterman.

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The 14 Crappiest Marvel Action Figures of the Modern Era

Monday, October 28, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Amazon.com

If you were a kid who didn't own action figures of some variety, there's an excellent chance that you spent most of your youth with your head in the toilet. (Actually, you may have regardless, especially if you are a dog who has learned to read. Also, bad dog. No drinking out of the toilet.)

Marvel figures, especially, were (and still are) incredibly popular during the youths of many of us under-30 types. (We're talking about the Toy Biz and Hasbro lines, that is, not the old Mego ones. If you remember those, you are very old or a huge nerd. Or both.) And hey, while '90s comics were kind of bullshit, in retrospect, at least the action figures were awesome.

Er, most of them, anyway. While the majority of Marvel's comic book figures were riffs on the old classics (i.e., mostly Wolverine), there were also more than a few that were apparently intended solely for uninformed relatives to buy as gifts, because there's no way anyone would ever want them otherwise...

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9 Ways Batman: Arkham Origins Soars (Even When It Gets Too Punchy)

Friday, October 25, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Back in 2009, I read all the raves reviews and scoured the message boards in excitement for Batman's big intro on the current generation of consoles, Batman: Arkham Asylum from developer Rocksteady. Like most, I am a fan of the caped crusader. Further, I love Batman: The Animated Series which the Arkham games shares DNA: the writers, the indispensable Kevin Conroy as the voice of Batman, Mark Hamill as the Joker and an art style that borrows heavily from the Burton films.

I was thrilled at the opening of Asylum. Batman is escorting Joker into the asylum, but the Bat knows something is up. "It was too easy," he mutters. In the first few minutes, all the player does is walk Batman down long hallways. Simple, yet with Paul Dini's writing brought to life by Conroy and Hamill's verbal sparring I was enthralled. Then the gameplay took over. After about thirty minutes, I was still just beating up goons over and over with the square button to attack and triangle to counter. Make no mistake, the gameplay was tight, but I wasn't having any fun. Two years later Arkham City arrived, but only managed to keep me engaged for a few hours.

Looks like third time's the charm.

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The 18 Coolest Things in Starlog #007: Star Wars Finally Takes Off, the Star Trek Movie Continues to Idle, and Gene Roddenberry Is Still Better Than You.

Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 6:00 am

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The seventh issue of Starlog hit the stands on June 2, 1977, the fourth of the eight-times-a-year issues, and a mere two weeks after Star Wars was released. And yet, the rest of science fiction world went on about its business, not yet grasping how much things were about to change. The Space Shuttle Enterprise is also still on the verge of going strong any day now, much like the Star Trek movie.

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10 Ways to Get Back into the (Tabletop) Game

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 at 6:00 am

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You remember these right?

Role-playing games are a bit harder to get started on than some hobbies. You have to meet up in person, find a table, and go someplace where you won't get reported as a terrorist for talking about stabbing people for hours. There's also a fairly brutal life curve: when you are young it's hard to find places to play, but you have lots of time; when you get old(er) you have places to play, but little time to spare.

You also usually need to find at least three people to play with, which I have difficult at times. People move away, get jobs with weekend hours, and RPGs tend to be a hobby that people "grow out of." I have friends who have played in the same groups for decades, but I've also had at least three generations of gaming groups fall apart due to life pressures. Nothing dramatic, but more the sort of centrifugal force of family life and responsibilities that go with adulthood. Demographically, way more people enjoy things based on RPGs or products that grew out of RPGs (Magic the Gathering and Munchkin, for instance) than actually play the games anymore; this is despite the fact that it's easier to game now than ever. Forming a gaming group is hard work and there's no easy way to do it. But it can definitely be worth the effort and it can pay back ten times over with fun. So why not try it out?

Here are ten suggestions for ways of getting back into RPGs:


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7 Reasons To Avoid Comikaze Because of Fangasm

Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Tonight, SyFy ends the (hopefully final) season of its latest "Docu-Drama" reality-series-in-disguise, Fangasm. Not content with my previous drubbing, SyFy continues its continued assault against nerdy subcultures with misguided attempts at creating a reality TV hit.

Although in Fangasm's favor, at least there was a plan involved this time. Unlike Heroes of Cosplay, the producers had a very clear vision about what they wanted from the subjects involved, and what the arc of the "story" was going to be.

Unfortunately, that "vision" is a soulless, pointless commercial for Stan Lee's Comikaze. That in and of itself isn't exactly a terrible thing; we live in a world where the latest Superman movie was mostly a commercial for 7-11 and IHOP. But even as a commercial, Fangasm doesn't do itself or Comikaze any favors.

Here are seven reasons to avoid Comikaze because of Fangasm.

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Six Disney Theme-Park Attractions That Deserve Comic Books, and Six That Don't

Monday, October 21, 2013 at 6:00 am

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It was hinted at at D-23, and formally announced a couple of weeks ago - Disney's ownership of Marvel is going to bear new fruit in the form of a new "Disney Kingdoms" line of comics, based on theme park attractions. The first title, Seekers of the Weird, will be based on an attraction that never even came to fruition - a Ripley's Believe it or Not-style addendum to the Haunted Mansion that was proposed but didn't get made.

If you feel your cynicism radar starting to go into pre-beep mode, that's only natural, as this worked out with decidedly mixed results for movies. The Pirates of the Caribbean movies weren't for everyone, the Haunted Mansion film was hardly for anyone, and fans of The Country Bears flick with Haley Joel Osment and Christopher Walken have still not emerged from the skunky smelling, smoke-filled room in which they created the appropriate viewing conditions. But having recently spent a week at Disneyland, I can tell you firsthand that there are stories in some of these rides and attractions worth exploring. There are also some that absolutely are not.

You may be surprised to learn which are which, at least in my view...


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8 Weird Catchphrases From Old Warner Bros. Cartoons Explained

Friday, October 18, 2013 at 6:00 am

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Wikipedia

It's impossible to overstate the influence that Warner Bros.' classic Looney Tunes cartoons have had on American comedy. Decades before Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Adult Swim and Community, Bugs Bunny and his cartoon brethren were making ironic wisecracks, breaking the fourth wall and dropping constant pop cultural references.

But the thing about those Looney Tunes pop cultural references is that while they may have been hilarious to our grandparents, a lot of them are absolutely baffling to modern viewers. I've always taken pride in being into weird old stuff - even as a teenager, I was a middle-aged grump who listened to old-time radio - and I've been stumped by a lot of these things.

People are still enjoying Looney Tunes cartoons despite the constant references to forgotten movie stars and ad campaigns for products that haven't been manufactured since the Eisenhower administration, and that says a lot about the high quality of the work produced by Chuck Jones, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery and other Warner Bros. directors. If you've spent your whole life wondering why the characters in these cartoons would sometimes turn to the camera, bug out their eyes and say, "Well, something new has been added!", this is your lucky day! In this list, we'll finally get to the bottom of a few of the weird catchphrases that have plagued Looney Tunes fans for generations.

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