Great Moments In Comic Book History: The First Appearance on Ghost Rider

Marvel Spotlight was a comic books that existed so Marvel could introduce new characters and showcase heroes who were being considered for a full time series.  Think of it as being the Marvel equivalent of pilot season.  In August, 1972, Marvel Spotlight #5 introduced the world to Johnny Blaze, the motorcyclist who once made a deal with the devil.  Johnny Blaze was better known as Ghost Rider!

While riding through Manhattan on his motorcycle, Johnny spots two criminals committing a murder.  He wants nothing to do with it and tries to drive away.  The two criminals follow him and corner him in an alley.  And then this happens:

The rest of the story is simple.  Ghost Rider makes flames emerge from the ground.  The criminals, who are named Clyde and Dingbat, run away.  How does one criminal end up named Clyde while the the other has to settle for Dingbat?  The rest of the issue is a flashback, telling how stuntman Johnny Blaze sold his soul to Satan (later revealed to be a disguise of frequent villain Mephisto) in order to save the life of his cancer-stricken stepfather Crash Simpson.  Though Crash survives the cancer, he still dies when he attempts a dangerous stunt.  Satan still wants Johnny’s soul but is vanquished by Roxanne, Crash’s daughter who is pure of soul and has been reading up on occult practices. However, every night, Johnny is transformed into Ghost Rider.

It’s nothing complicated but, from such humble beginnings, legends are born!

Marvel Spotlight Vol.1 Issue 5 (August, 1972)

Sssssss (1973, directed by Bernard L. Kowalski)

Will that be seven S’s or only six?

College student David Blake (Dirk Benedict) gets a job working as an assistant to Dr. Carl Stoner (Strother Martin).  Dr. Stoner is an expert on reptiles and he is very concerned that man will not be able to survive if the Earth suffers any sort of environmental change.  When he hires David, he only has two requirements for the young man.  David is not to date Stoner’s daughter, Kristina (Heather Menzies) and David has to take an injection every day of a serum that will protect him from snake venom, or so Carl says.

What David doesn’t know is that Carl is a damn liar and his plan for saving humanity is to turn people into Snakemen!  Snakes can survive anything so why wouldn’t human want to be more like them?  Soon, David’s face is getting scaly and Kristina is discovering what really happened to her father’s previous assistant.

Sssssss tries to take its story seriously and the snake makeup is cool and creepy but the movie itself moves too slowly.  It makes the mistake of worrying about convincing us that the story is plausible when it should just be focusing on snake action.  There are some good scenes, like when Kristina tracks down David’s predecessor and Strother Martin is convincing as the mad scientist.  If you thought Strother Martin was just capable of playing outlaws and corrupt cops, this movie may surprise you.  I also liked the ending, which only seems ambiguous.  It’s easy to see what’s going to happen after the end credits roll.

Richard Zanuck and David Brown produced this film.  It did well enough at the box office that they decided to produce another nature-gone-mad movie.  That one was named Jaws.

Great Moments In Television History: Apaches Traumatizes The UK

From the end of World War II to 2007, the UK’s Central Office of Information used to produced Public Information Films (known as PIFs), which would often air on television during children’s programming.  These were the British equivalent of the “More You Know” PSAs that appear on American television.  A typical PIF would deal with a safety issue, warning children to be careful crossing the street or while visiting a farm or when thinking of sticking a fork into an electrical socket.

One of the most notorious PIFs was first broadcast in February of 1977 and aired for several years after that. Apaches traumatized an entire generation of British children while teaching them about what not to do while visiting a farm. Danny tells the story of how six young children played “Apaches” on a nearby farm and how things did not turn out well for any of them. What made this PIF more traumatic than similar PIFs was the nonchalant reactions of both the children and the adults. Each farm accident is followed by a clinical clearing away of that children’s possessions and then the child is forgotten about. It doesn’t occur to anyone to do anything to make the farms safer.

Still, this PIF probably kept a lot of children safe while also inspiring many nightmares. Director John MacKenzie went on to direct Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren in The Long Good Friday, which is considered to be one of the finest British crime films ever made.

Previous Great Moments In Television History:

  1. Planet of the Apes The TV Series
  2. Lonely Water
  3. Ghostwatch Traumatizes The UK
  4. Frasier Meets The Candidate
  5. The Autons Terrify The UK
  6. Freedom’s Last Stand
  7. Bing Crosby and David Bowie Share A Duet

Game Review: Plane Walker (2021, Jack Comfort)

Plane Walker is an entrant in 2021 Interactive Fiction competition.  Browse and experience all of the games by clicking here.

You have just woken up on a plane.  You have no idea how you got on the plane.  You have no idea where the plane is going.  You’re not even sure who you are.  But you know that you need to figure out what’s going on and how to fly a plane!

I enjoyed playing this Inform game.  The premise was interesting.  The descriptions were vivid, well-written, and witty.  The game was puzzle-heavy, as most Inform games are.  As I’ve said before, the puzzles are usually my downfall when it comes to Interactive Fiction and some of the puzzles in Plane Walker are difficult to solve on your own.  Fortunately, the game comes with a walk-through.  Most importantly, the game pays off in the end.  The mystery is worth solving.

Play Plane Walker.


Horror Scenes That I Love: “This is Halloween” From The Nightmare Before Christmas

Okay, so it’s not Halloween yet.

But it is close! And, even more importantly, it’s Pumpkin Day! So, in honor of all of the holidays that we celebrate this week, here’s a classic song and scene from 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas!

A Blast From The Past: The Procrastinator (dir by Herk Havey)

Goddammit, Jean let everyone down again!

Jean is at the center of The Procrastinator, a short educational film from 1952.  Jean has a history of putting stuff off and letting down her friends, her parents, her peers, and probably the entire state of Kansas as well.  Still, despite the fact that Jean has repeatedly shown that she can’t be trusted with any responsibility, her fellow students decide to give her some responsibility.  When Jean continues to procrastinate, they all get mad at her but you know what?  Is it really Jean’s fault that they gave her a job that she obviously couldn’t handle?

What I’m saying is stop being so judgmental!  Everyone has their own way.  Some people get things done early.  Some people wait until the last minute.  And then there are people like me who make plans to do everything early but who still end up waiting until the last second regardless.  For example, my original plan for this year was to write all of my Horrorthon reviews in May and June and then spend October in a state of blissful relaxation.  Needless to say, that didn’t happen.  But, to be honest, I kind of enjoy the pressure of having to get things done at the last minute.  I do my best work under pressure, I think.

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m sharing this video in October, it’s because this film was directed by Herk Harvey.  Harvey made a career out of directing short educational films but, to horror audiences, he’s best known for directing a classic horror film called Carnival of Souls.  Carnival of Souls is a film that I’ll be sharing in a few days.  On the surface, The Procrastinator may not appear to have much in common with Carnival of Souls.  However, I think you can compare Jean’s refusal to do things in a timely fashion to Candace Hilligoss’s refusal to accept the reason for why she keeps seeing ghosts following her everywhere she goes.  So, in way, both of these films take place in the same universe.  Call it the Herkiverse.

Watch and decide for yourself!

4 Shots From 4 Jess Franco Films

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we pay tribute to the enigmatic master of Spanish horror and suspense, Jesus “Jess” Franco!  It’s time for….

4 Shots From 4 Jess Franco Films

Vampyros Lesbos (1970, dir by Jess Franco, DP: Manuel Merino)

Female Vampire (1973, dir by Jess Franco, DP: Jess Franco)

Countess Perverse (1973, dir by Jess Franco, DP: Manuel Merino)

Faceless (1988, dir by Jess Franco, DP: Maurice Fellous)


Lisa Marie’s Grindhouse Trailers: 6 Trailers For The Fourth Tuesday In October

Halloween City by Karl Pfieffer

Since today is Pumpkin Day (yes, they get their own day!), it only makes sense that today’s edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse trailers should feature just that!

Without further ado, here are today’s pumpkin-centered trailers!  Happy Pumpkin Day, everyone!

  1. Pumpkinhead (1988)

Hey, I reviewed this movie earlier this month!  The monster’s impressive, though I wish his head was a bit more pumpkin-like.  This movie gave Lance Henriksen a rare starring role and we will always be thankful.  Lance is the best!

2. Pumpkinhead II (1994)

Eventually, Pumpkinhead returned.  Consider this proof that you can’t keep a good pumpkin down.

3. Pumpkinhead 3 (2006)

After the first sequel, Pumpkinhead took a 12-year hiatus from appearing in the movies.  It’s rumored that he blew all of his money on cocaine and it was either make a third movie or go to jail for tax fraud.  For whatever reason, he eventually returned in yet another sequel.

4. Pumpkinhead 4 (2007)

To date, this has been the final Pumpinhead movie. Hopefully, Pumpkinhead is doing a better job managing his money and his lifestyle now and he won’t be forced to do a Pumpkinhead 5 just to pay the rent.

5. Pumpkins (2019)

Just when I was getting worried that I might have been too hasty when I decided to devote this edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse Trailers to movies about pumpkins, I discovered that there literally is a movie called Pumpkins. And here’s the trailer!

6. Trick ‘r’ Treat (2009)

Hey, that kid is dressed like a pumpkin …. kind of. And there are pumpkins in the trailer so, a far as I’m concerned, close enough!

What do you think, Pumpkin Trailer Kitty?

Horror On The Lens: House On Haunted Hill (dir by William Castle)

The original The House on Haunted Hill is a classic and one that we make it a point to share every Halloween.  And since October is nearly over, now seems like the perfect time to do so!

Be sure to check out Gary’s review by clicking here!

Enjoy Vincent Price at his best!