Joker, Book Review, By Case Wright


IMG_1908

Happy Horrorthon! 2008 – Barack Obama was becoming a household name, I still had some hair, and Heath Ledger’s Joker brought the absolute evil of clowns to the silver screen.  I understand that some of you might think that the comic Joker is not a horror comic, but guys it’s got a clown right there on the cover; they are ALL trying to kill you. IT COUNTS!

Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo sought to bring Ledger’s Joker into a comic form and dig a little deeper into the psychology of Joker and why someone would follow him.  The story is narrated by Jonny Frost – a small time gangster- who wanted to be big.  Jonny figures that he himself is not larger than life, but by being near bright evil, he too could shine like the moon does with the earth.  He picks the Joker.

Christopher Nolan described the Joker as an absolute. He is an id of Corruption and destruction.  In this story, the Joker has gotten out of Arkham….again.  SIDE NOTE: what’s with Gotham?! They must have the single party liberal governing that we have in Seattle because you’d think they’d have a Three Strikes Rule or the Death Penalty by now.  I mean, why let the Joker continue to keep breathing? I get how Batman has this weird code- he wears rubber, cape, lives in a cave, and is all kinds of weirdo, but why do the rest of Gotham’s citizens have it? Do they not vote? Do they have only one ballot choice? So, the Joker meets Jonny Frost the second that he leaves Arkham and Jonny works as a toady and hanger on for the majority of the book.

Jonny narrates the Joker’s return to power as he reaps through the underworld, but he burns most of his possessions down and kills all of his own henchmen and even shoots Jonny at the end.  Really, the story depicted the Joker as a force of Anti-Creation.  While it was a deeper dive into this Super Villain, it left me wanting because it was told through the lens of this mediocrity Jonny Frost.  It says Joker right there on the cover so you’d think it would be all about the Clown Prince of Crime, but instead it was this tangential view of him.  I would’ve been more captivated by a story just about the Joker without a go-between.

The story was strong and depicting LOTS AND LOTS of gore.  In fact, the Joker kills more people than the Spanish Flu.  He’s Lucifer and Death combined to cause havoc.  In the end, we get the obvious conclusion that he’s just this disease of evil and that Batman is really just a treatment, but not a cure.  It seems that Gotham’s real disease is a soft on crime public policy.

N. By Stephen King; Review By Case Wright


kingsnhere

What if you’re not crazy?  What if you’re finally seeing the truth that everyone else is too afraid to see?  Is the revelation too much for your mind?  Could your mind be both the doorway to hell and the gate keeping the evil old ones at bay?  Most importantly, can a person’s mental illness infect another person?  Stephen King’s “N” is a hybrid of Lovecraft and Modern Psychology where we are forced to learn the answers to these questions.

The story was both a novella and adapted as a comic book/olde-time radio-show.  Confused?  Let me explain.  N was first published as a novella, but instead of getting made into a comic book or as is typical of King’s work- a movie or miniseries, it became something else.  Marc Guggenheim adapted the work as an all dialogue webseries similar to the serials of the 1930s and 40s and presented the story as a series of hyper-detailed comic illustrations.  You can see it in its entirety below.

I have also read the novella several times.  Honestly, sometimes I’m not sure why I like a particular Stephen King story more than another, but it seems to be when the characters are so real that they could be you or your neighbor.  Yes, the monsters are spooky, but it’s the people, their story, their lives, who just happen to have to also deal with a monster or four.

The story begins with Sheila Bonsaint who is in mourning from her brother’s suicide.  She is calling her friend who is reminiscent of Anderson Cooper to look into why her brother John killed himself.  She believes it’s because of his contact with a patient named N.  The story shifts to John’s perspective describing a patient N who suffers from extreme OCD.  N believes his OCD rituals keep the portals between our world and the hell world closed.

N describes how he encountered a field with rocks similar to Stonehenge in Maine and that by viewing the structure, he caused the structure to activate and potentially release an ancient evil that will consume mankind.  He begins to do OCD rituals to keep the portal closed, but realizes that he must sacrifice his life in order to shut the gate forever.  Unfortunately, John becomes infected by N’s mental disorder and becomes overcome with the need to investigate the structure, which activates it again and causes him to spiral into the same OCD as N.

This story struck a very strong chord with me.  Last year, I began to take a long road into facing my own PTSD experiences in the Army.  When I would tell the medical professionals in the VA about what happened, one cried.  My stories had infected them and left them different afterwards.  The world was less clean, less safe, and much darker.  Now, like N, if I have to tell a person the stories, I begin by saying that I am sorry because what I will tell you, will change you.  I suppose that is what humanity does; we share our burdens and our curses.  Maybe that’s how we keep the gate to hell closed?

Halloween Havoc!: Peter Cushing in TWINS OF EVIL (Universal/Hammer 1971)


cracked rear viewer

British babes Mary and Madeleine Collinson became the first set of twins to not only star as Playboy Twin Centerfolds (and we’ll get to that at the end of this post!!), but to star in a Hammer Horror film, 1971’s TWINS OF EVIL. Not only that, the lasses got to play opposite Hammer icon Peter Cushing as their puritanical, witch burning uncle. It’s the final chapter in Hammer’s Karnstein Trilogy (preceded by 1970’s THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and 1971’s LUST FOR A VAMPIRE), based on characters from Sheridan LeFanu’s 1872 novella , and it’s a sexy, blood-spattered scream!

As uncle Gustav Weil goes around the countryside burning young girls at the stake, his recently orphaned twin teenage nieces Maria and Frieda arrive from Venice. Prudish Uncle Gustav disapproves of the girls’ plunging decolletage (“What kind of plumage is this? The birds of paradise?”). While Maria is shy and demure, Frieda’s a…

View original post 281 more words

Halloween Havoc!: ISLAND OF LOST SOULS (Paramount 1932)


cracked rear viewer

Universal Pictures kicked off the horror trend of the early 30’s with DRACULA and FRANKENSTEIN , and soon every studio in Hollywood, both major and minor, jumped on the terror train. Paramount was the first to hop on board with an adaptation of Stevenson’s DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE , earning Fredric March an Oscar for his dual role. Soon there was DR. X (Warners), THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (RKO), FREAKS and THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (both MGM), and THE MONSTER WALKS and WHITE ZOMBIE from the indies. Paramount released ISLAND OF LOST SOULS at the end of 1932, a film so shocking and perverse it was banned in Britain for over a quarter century, and still manages to frighten even the most jaded of horror fans today.

Based on the novel The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells, the film begins with shipwrecked Edward Parker being rescued…

View original post 818 more words

Halloween Havoc!: THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (Universal-International 1956)


cracked rear viewer

THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US – and he’s not too happy about it! Can’t say that I blame him, as once again he’s used and abused by humans, kidnapped from his watery home, suffers third degree burns, and transformed into a landlubber! This third and final entry in The Gill-Man saga unfortunately isn’t as good as its two predecessors, with too much melodramatic nonsense spoiling what was an intriguing premise.

Dr. Bill Barton (Jeff Morrow ) leads a search in the Florida Everglades for the Creature, who escaped Ocean Harbor Oceanarium in the last film. Along with Barton are geneticist Dr. Tom Morgan (Rex Reason), Dr. Borg (Maurice Manson), Dr. Johnson (James Rawley), and macho guide Jed Grant (Gregg Palmer ). Also on board is Barton’s wife Marcia (Leigh Snowden), a beautiful blonde trapped in a loveless marriage with her insanely jealous, controlling prick of a husband.

The Creature…

View original post 460 more words

Halloween Havoc! Extra: Boris & Bela’s “Forgotten” Universal Film!


cracked rear viewer

I’ve covered every Universal Horror Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi made together on this blog but one… it’s a Universal Picture, but not a horror! Instead, the Demonic Duo make cameo appearences in 1934’s GIFT OF GAB, an “all-star comedy with music” featuring the likes of Edmond Lowe, Gloria Stuart , singers Ruth Etting and Ethel Waters, Victor Moore, and others. In this scene, Paul Lukas , Binnie Barnes, Chester Morris, Roger Pryor, and June Knight perform a murder mystery sketch in which the Twin Titans of Terror make all-too-brief cameos:

The Terror Twins worked together one other time, in a 1938 guest shot on Ozzie Nelson’s radio program, “singing” (if you could call it that!!) a little ditty called “We’re Horrible, Horrible Men”:

Thankfully, Boris and Bela stuck to acting… though I have to admit, their singing’s pretty scary, too!!

Happy Halloween from Bela and Boris!

View original post

Halloween Havoc! Extra: Boris & Bela Do THE MONSTER MASH!


cracked rear viewer

Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s 1962 hit “The Monster Mash” was not only a graveyard smash, but has become an annual Halloween tradition here on Cracked Rear Viewer. This season, I’ve picked out a Monster Mash-Up of clips starring Universal Horror icons Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi set to Pickett’s groovy ghoulie tune. Break out your dancing shoes and get ready to Do The Mash with Boris and Bela:

Have a Happy HORRORween, Dear Readers!

View original post