Tag Archives: horror

Review: Abbott 1973 #1

The minute I finished the first Abbott book by Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä it became my go-to recommendation for people looking to get into comics. It still holds that position. A lot of it is due to how much like a contemporary comic it feels like, as if you were reading something that couldn’t have come out any other time, despite it being set in 1970’s Detroit while also borrowing ideas from the political thrillers and horror movies of that decade.

To say I was anxiously awaiting the first issue of its second arc is an understatement of the highest order. Following the investigations of journalist Elena Abbott—“a  detective for the people,” as the comic proclaims—feels like taking a journey through the underbelly of America’s unique version of systemic racism, a brutal trek through it with the intention of deconstructing all of it with dark magic thrown into the mix to further power the metaphors at play in the story.

Abbott 1973

The second arc seems to be operating on the same wavelength, with Abbott facing yet another supernatural threat fueled by racial animosity, only this time the powers of corruption are looking to dismantle the candidacy of a Detroit mayoral candidate poised to become the city’s first black person to take up the position.

Set in 1973, Ahmed and Kivelä keep the titular journalist from straying from her old-school investigative methods, echoing movies like All the President’s Men in terms of how it develops a sense of danger that bubbles up with each attempt at shedding light on the potential sabotage of the black mayoral candidate. Each new sliver of information dug up through her investigation raises the stakes not just for the story she’s working on but for her very own sense of safety.

Ahmed and Kivelä achieve this in the first book, which focuses on elected officials dabbling in dark magic to keep black communities in a constant state of chaos and instability, a tactic that allowed the ruling class to justify anti-black measures in the name of public safety (not to mention precious votes).

In Abbott 1973, the protagonist is now well aware of the dark influences that are trying to disrupt Detroit’s political structure while also being conscious of the fact magic and journalism have a complicated history with the public standard of veracity and reliability.

Abbott 1973

While these ideas are difficult to separate from the character and her story, Ahmed and Kivelä manage to complicate Abbott’s daily grind even more with an added focus on social notions of femininity in the public arena and in the professional workspace.

The comic dives into these obstacles through a new black character that comes into Abbott’s newspaper organization as its latest publisher, a man called Mr. Manning. This new figure of authority insists on keeping up appearances concocted by male-dominated notions of etiquette and behavior, instructing Abbott on how women should dress and behave in the workplace.

Given the story’s focus on change, and how the election of Detroit’s first black mayor stands as a plea for it, Abbott 1973 #1 looks to the country’s past to reflect on the current state of politics, be it racial or otherwise. Just how deep the comic will go to comment on this remains to be seen, but it’s well on its way to add something to the conversation (especially in the context of a very divided United States that’s growing further apart on a daily basis).

Kivelä’s art continues to favor that 1970’s grittiness prominent in that decade’s movies, deftly weaving realism with supernatural sights that carry a kind of violence to them on mere presence alone. Each character looks storied, the result of a long line of personal experiences that carry over into their overall looks.

Abbott 1973

Mattia Iacono’s colors complements the seventies vibe of the story beautifully with muted colors that make the darker elements jump out of the page even more when they manifest themselves. It creates a heaviness around the more horror-inclined sequences and can feel downright oppressive when Abbott as at the receiving end of them.

On the dark magic side of the story, Abbott 1973 is careful not to allow it to get lost in the social commentary that’s clearly in display in every page. Be it in hints of paranormal activity or outright terror, the hauntings Ahmed and Kivelä have cooked up for Abbott feel like an organic element of the story and they do their fair share of the worldbuilding. They are integral to the comic’s message and are smartly implemented.

Abbott 1973 #1 is a perfect continuation of Elena Abbott’s investigations into how magic has been taken over by racists bent on keeping America divided. Ahmed and Kivelä have one of the best characters in comics in their hands and they seem to be well aware of it. Abbott is the kind of creation one hopes becomes an industry staple, producing hundreds of stories for years to come.

Script: Saladin Ahmed Art: Sami Kivelä
Color: Mattia Iacono Letterer: Jim Campbell
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0 Recommendation: Buy and brush up on Detroit history


Purchase: comiXologyZeus Comics

The Cult of Dracula Beckons in March

Dracula has never been so dangerous. Learn the depth of her influence in Cult of Dracula, written by Rich Davis with art by Henry Martinez. The first issue of the latest horror mini-series from Source Point Press is available for pre-order now and will be in shops on Wednesday, Mar. 31.

Special Agent Malcom Bram arrives at the House of the Rising Sun. This secluded compound is the home of the secretive Ordo Dracul and the scene of a horrendous crime coined, “The Cult of Dracula Mass Suicides.” 

Mina Murray leads a documentary film crew to uncover the secrets of the mysterious cult by interviewing its enigmatic leader, Robert Renfield. Neither investigator is prepared for the gravity of the truths they will uncover. 

Dracula is eternal. A primordial being formed by the same essence of creation as Adam. Dracula is chaos. The eternal embodiment of entropy. This is her story…

The first issue of Cult of Dracula will be available in an A Cover by Gyula Nemeth and a B Cover from Shannon Maer.

Cult of Dracula #1

Why the Best Horror Book of 2020 is Clown in a Cornfield

Clown in a Cornfield
Clown in a Cornfield, cover

To an extent, the title of Adam Cesare’s latest book, Clown in a Cornfield, feels like an affront to expectations. We have a YA horror book about teens navigating social media, high school, and rage-filled teachers all hinging on the promise of an actual clown possibly picking off kids in a cornfield. Having read Cesare’s excellent, and surprisingly meta, cannibal movie homage Tribesmen, which shows a profound love and understanding for 1970s horror cinema, I knew something else was hiding in the fields. And that something turned the book into one of the best examples of horror fiction in the context of Trump’s America, and the year’s best in the process.

Clown in a Cornfield follows Quinn, a high schooler that moves into the town of Kettle Springs with her dad following the death of her mom. Now an ex-city girl, Quinn goes about understanding the town and its people but also the looming presence of its recent past, the thing that divides the town into those who see progress as moving forward and those who see it as keeping up with traditions. This is where the titular clown comes in. The rest deserves to be read.

The setup is deceptively recognizable, seemingly on purpose. The story starts with a look at Quinn and her dad going though a short adjustment period, Quinn in particular getting to know the people she’ll eventually get to rely on to survive the deadly events that clown authors.

Cesare takes his time putting every piece in place before taking the reader through a hellish gauntlet of inventive slasher violence, all of which takes cues from John Carpenter, Wes Craven, and a lot of 1990’s horror movie imagery if only to build on them and make them his own. Once the killing begins, the book settles into high tension and doesn’t let up even when commenting on the ideas that prop up the story.

The buildup to the clown horror comes with a few twists on the formula that sets this story apart from the conventional slasher. The teens that drive the story don’t fit the traditional mold of jock, nerd, hot, or final girl characters of old. Instead, Cesare skillfully dodges some of the sexual and “school as a rite of passage” subtexts that govern a lot of classic slasher stories in favor of showing a group of teens that more genuinely reflects the current state of American society.

Adam Cesare

Instead of prom and homecoming queen and king competitions or relationship woes tied to characters losing their virginity, Cesare creates a cast of young Americans that talk about guns, are comfortable around them, and know how to handle them; that embrace social media and make it a point to flirt with its most dangerous aspects; and who know perfectly well what they represent to the older townsfolk (hints of The Lost Boys here).

Kettle Springs is a small town where it’s not hard to imagine every other car sporting a ‘Make America Great Again’ bumper sticker. And yet, the book doesn’t judge the entirety of the town for its conservative leanings. On the contrary, it provides a more complicated human panorama of it, with varying degrees of political inclinations even within the targeted group.

This is perhaps one of the most impressive things Cesare accomplishes with his characters. He breaks away from the black and white morality of the traditional slasher, in which the ‘good’ teens and the ‘bad’ teens could be identified from a mile away, in favor of presenting teens that are not just different from one another but also from the preconceived notions we have of them. This bleeds over into the book’s take on what small-town America was, is, and could be.

Explaining what Cesare does with slasher morality in the story would result in spoiling some the book’s biggest surprises, but it does make for one hell of a killer clown. Frendo is a part of the town’s economic history, being the face of an abandoned factory that at one point was at the heart of Kettle Springs. He was a symbol of success at one point only to later become an imposing symbol of defeat.

Frendo wastes not a single instance of violence on simplicity. Every death, blood spurt, or dismemberment is masterfully choreographed, unafraid to go into detail, leaving the reader with just enough information to let him or her fill in the rest. It’s also hauntingly realistic in parts. Whereas many slasher movies go over the top to create memorable death sequences, Clown in a Cornfield keeps things more plausible, holding back to make the more explosively violent parts truly unforgettable.

Frendo is one unsettling clown, but what drives the killings and how sinister things get in the process is what really scared me to the core. Unlike the Freddies and the Jasons of the genre, Frendo is one killer I completely believe can come after me. Whereas the aforementioned slashers are known for carrying a sense of dark fantasy and myth about them, Frendo seems like an actual inevitability should America continue on the path it’s currently on.

Adam Cesare gave us an important horror book in 2020, one that hits closer to the real horrors America has lived through these past four years. Its commentary on tradition, progress, and what’s expected of newer generations is as sobering as it is terrifying. Give Clown in a Cornfield a read and make sure your windows are closed and your doors locked because Frendo isn’t the stuff of nightmares. It’s the stuff of reality.

Steve Niles, Shannon Eric Denton, and Dan Evans Launch Monster Forge Productions

Monster Forge Productions

Steve Niles and Shannon Eric Denton have launched Monster Forge Productions, a new company focusing on horror properties. Joining them as a creative consultant is Dan Evans a former vp, creative affairs for DC Entertainment. Niles is the co-creator of the 30 Days of Night franchise and Denton is an artist and animator.

The company is a multi-platform production division that brings together Niles and Denton’s longstanding work and creator relationships focused on film, television, interactive entertainment, gaming, and merchandising. Material will be for adults and kids.

Monster Forge will parter with artists and writers to build franchises across media and appeal to audiences of all ages.

The company already has an impressive roster of talent to work with including Star Trek: Picard supervising producer Marc Bernardin, legendary toy designer James Groman (Madballs), N.W.A. co-founder Arabian Prince, BOOM! Studios co-founder and Hellboy screenwriter Andrew Cosby, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman, The Grudge 3 screenwriter Brad Keene, Hack/Slash creator Tim Seeley and the estate of legendary horror illustrator Bernie Wrightson, among others.

Movie Review: The Dark and the Wicked will settle for nothing less than your soul

There’s no other horror movie out there, this year, as sinister as The Dark and The Wicked. It’s relentless and cruel and impossible to stop watching. Director/screenwriter Bryan Bertino has put together a legitimate gauntlet of horrors in an almost micro-setting, focusing on a sister and brother duo that return to their farm home to take care of their haunted and lonely parents. Whatever’s oppressing this family takes no prisoners and is dead-set on indulging in as much evil as it can. It’s some of the scariest stuff to ever have been put on celluloid.

The Dark and The Wicked
The Dark and The Wicked

Bertino has chosen to put loneliness under the proverbial microscope with his movie. It’s mostly about the demons that such a circumstance invites and how family can be the antidote and the poison that enables it all. The small family at the core of the story have all become distant from one another. The siblings went their separate ways at one point in time and looks as if they didn’t keep in touch as they probably should’ve. Their only true connection is a bed-ridden father and an emotionally disturbed mother.

What’s impressive about this setup and how each character develops around is that none of the family’s prior history is flat out explained or dumped on the viewer through exposition. The way the siblings react to each other and speak tells you enough about the distance between them.

Keeping the story so focused on just a few characters really helps drive the point home. The farm where most everything takes place seems remote, almost devoid of motion even. Night scenes are drenched in deep shadows and the knowledge of remoteness heightens the tension. It always feels as if of some impending horror is primed and ready for torture at any given time.

Cinematographer Tristan Nyby deserves a lot of praise for this as the movie’s dread factor comes straight out of carefully selected shots that play with negative spaces and different tones of darkness. This is amplified by the film’s sound design, which refreshingly opts to interrupt silence with demonic growls and hellish sounds that few horror stories opt to indulge in.

The Dark and The Wicked
The Dark and The Wicked

Of course, this all rests on the shoulders of a tight script that wants to play up the devilry, without leaving doubt as to the source of the evil that’s invaded the family. There’s very little time spent with traditional horror tropes such as the one where the people involved spend a good portion of the movie trying to decide if the haunting is real or not. The siblings come to this conclusion fairly quick and know they have to do whatever they can to get everyone far away from their family home and its devil. Their disagreements and unresolved issues, though, is what holds them back.

Actors Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott Jr. are exceptional in their roles as the siblings. They project the burden of family and responsibility in their body language alone and excel in presenting their characters as people that do not know how to navigate the problems they face. Their reactions to the horrors is convincing to the point one can easily relate and see themselves in their position. They transform into people that are just like us. Not special. Just ordinary with a liberally portioned side of hell.

In a way, it does remind somewhat of movies like Hereditary and The Exorcist. The evil is real, which allows the narrative to go deeper into the terror. As a result, we get a story that’s heavy and overwhelmingly oppressive at certain points. The punishment the main characters are subjected to is relentless, but it really opens up the playing field for some very intense and very scary sequences. I won’t spoil those here but get ready for horrifying stuff.

The Dark and The Wicked is also well-paced. Though it hits hard and insistently, the movie never feels lethargic and it makes good use of its hour and a half runtime with something new happening in every scene. There are no repeated instances of self-slamming doors or flickering lights. The entity likes to go straight to the hard stuff.

Bryan Bertino should have everyone itching for a hint of his next movie, whatever that may be. The direction, the writing, the performances, and the tech artistry on display is impeccable. His movie is one that continues to haunt in the days following the first watch. It’s a story that has to be endured, but the reward is an experience unlike no other.

Thanksgiving Has Never Been this Bloody with The House That Eats Flesh

The House That Eats Flesh

A special announcement to all you gore fans. Coming soon to a horror theater near you, a new slasher film that will make you think twice about spending demonic house with friends on Thanksgiving Day. Paying homage to the classic blood and guts carnage films of yesteryear, The House That Eats Flesh is bound to be an all-time cult classic and fan favorite. Helming the director’s chair will be Josh Graves, in his first directorial debut with producer, Noellie Burger, that will combine both talent and imagination and bring this film to life. It promises to not have any CGI for your grizzly entertainment.

Though this film is set to go into productions next year, Lydia Mason, a cast member reached out to me about the film while Josh Graves has created an Indiegogo funding site for a chance for fans like you to be apart of this exciting project. To help with production costs and expenses, I’m asking our readers to give just a little of your hard work earning and donate. And as an incentive, the more you donate, the more they will appreciate you. The levels of donations can be either from $10.00 to $4000.00 and with every donation, you will be rewarded well for your efforts like a shout-out, owning a prop used in the film, a chance for an autographed photo by the lead horror actress herself, Lisa Wilcox (From Nightmare on Elm Street V) and much much more.

If you’re a die-hard fan of gore and love seeing the sight of blood, spewing guts, and beautiful, alluring women, then make this film happen and go on The House That Eats Flesh on Indiegogo, and your donations will go along way to make this horror fantasy into one perfect scary reality to watch. And tell them Raven Steel sent ya!

A House to die for…

Please Like. Please Share. And above all, please Love!

This has been a Raven Steel Exclusive.

The Creepshow Animated Special is a fun Halloween watch covered in gore

Outside of manga, animated horror films or specials are few and far in between, which is why Shudder’s announcement that Creepshow series was going to give animation a shot for Halloween was so surprising. And yet, perhaps this shouldn’t have surprised us that much. The Stephen King, George Romero, and Bernie Wrightson creation did come into being as an homage to the EC horror comics that inspired them in the first place. Given the overlap between comics and animation, the visual language they share, it was quite simply the next logical step.

Thankfully, the Creepshow Animated Special delivers in this form, presenting a pair of violent and clever stories that adapt stories written by Stephen King and Joe Hill. Each story runs for about 20 minutes and wastes no time getting to the bloody bits, taking care of not leaving the plot and character development out to dry. They transition well into the show’s pastiche-driven interests.

Creepshow Animated Special
Shudder

A word on the animation, though. The special is presented in a motion comic style of animation (as previously seen in the Watchmen motion comics that came out almost in conjunction with Zack Snyder’s adaptation of the classic comic). There’s motion on-screen but not to the extent one might be expecting. It’s not the most sophisticated or intricate of styles out there, but director Greg Nicotero squeezes as much as he can out of it to great effect.

The first story comes from the mind of Stephen King and it’s called “Survivor Type,” about a man stranded on an island with the body of a dead woman after their ship sinks. The second one is called “Tweetering from the Circus of the Dead” and is adapted from a Joe Hill story. This one focuses on a teenager that gives a play-by-play Twitter account of the terrifying happenings that take place inside a sadistic circus.

Both stories are twisted enough to make for great visual adaptations. “Survivor Type” is a very bright story where every instance of terror is highly visible and in full color. It feels like an EC tale in that it’s gauche and grisly sense of violence dials up the blood and gore to its highest setting. “Tweetering from the Circus of the Dead” follows along the same lines but plays around with a darker color palette. Still, the carnage is allowed to display the full gamut of colors that comes with dismemberments and bloodletting fans of the exploitation will certainly appreciate.

Creepshow Animated Special
Shudder

All of this would’ve been in vain had the voice actors for each story failed to rise to the occasion. Fortunately, they do. The main character of “Survivor Type” is played by Keifer Sutherland and his performance perfectly captures the man’s egotistical and immoral spirit, imbuing his backstory with the necessary roughness required to make the landing.

Hill’s story is performed by Joey King (The Kissing Booth, Slenderman) and while her part isn’t as fine-tuned as Sutherland’s, she still manages to capture the sounds of a social media obsessed teen. What stands out in King’s segment is how her character’s sarcasm shifts into outright horror and shock as the story progresses. King gets to explore different aspect of her voiceover skills and it helps maintain a good sense of urgency as the character tweets about gory acts and dead things.

The animated approach for this special does achieve another thing that is worthy of note. It more closely resembles the comic book look both the original movie and series managed to capture on-screen. It fits well with the spirit of Creepshow and it is nice to see that connection make it through.

Creepshow Animated Special
Shudder

Speaking comics, Eric Powell (creator of The Goon) designed the creatures that feature in Joe Hill’s segment. This gives the story and even more present comic book feel and further cements the relationship between both mediums. Each creature is a treat to see shamble on-screen and they deserve to be explored closer to appreciate all the details Powell managed to squeeze into them.

The Creepshow Animated Special was a pleasant surprise that made me want to see more of these horror motion comic animations in the future. That might already be in the works as the final images of the special seem to hint at a Christmas offering. Consult with whatever dark forces are available to you to make sure we get more of these stories in the very, very near future.

Enjoy Halloween with the Image Horror Sale. 50% off 213 collections!

Today’s the day! Halloween is before us and you can enjoy it with some digital horror comics courtesy of Image Comics and comiXology with the “Image Horror Sale“.

There are 213 collections for you on sale right now for 50% off! Collections just start at $2.99 for series such as The Walking Dead, Revival, The Darkness, Wytches, Nailbiter, Outcast, and more.

Now’s your chance to pick up some of the buzzed about series and see what you’ve been missing!

The sale ends on November 1, 2020.

Image Horror Sale

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Get in the Halloween Spirit with the “Valiant Horror Sale”

Valiant is helping you get into the season with a digital comic sale of their horror comics. The “Valiant Horror Sale” is going on now and features 173 releases. It runs until November 2, 2020.

Collections are 50% off with single issues just $0.99.

You can get series like Britannia, Doctor Mirage, Punk Mambo, Shadowman, and more.

You’ve got until November 2nd to take advantage and save!

Valiant horror sale

This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

Get in the Halloween Spirit with the IDW Horror Sale!

It’s the season for scares and comiXology has you covered with the “IDW Horror Sale.” Featuring 158 releases on sales, there’s some that are 75% off including some trade collections for just $0.99.

You can get 30 Days of Night, True Blood, The X-Files, THe Crow, Wynonna Earp, Goosebumps, and so much more.

Single issues are just $0.99 and there’s trades for the same amount! It’s time to save and get some horror comics to read.

The sale ends October 29, 2020.


This site contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and make a purchase, we’ll receive a percentage of the sale. Graphic Policy does purchase items from these sites. Making purchases through these links helps support the site.

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