Ray Van Horn, Jr. is a veteran entertainment journalist whose writing and live photography has been featured in Blabbermouth.net, Dee Snider’s House of Hair Online, Fangoria.com, Horror News.net, About.com Heavy Metal, MetalManiacs, New Noise, Music Dish, AMP, Hails & Horns, Unrestrained,Noisecreep, Impose, Pit, The Big Takeover.com, Rough Edge.com, Pitriff and others. His blog The Metal Minute won a “Best Personal Blog” award in 2009 from Metal Hammer magazine and he wrote and produced his own hard rock e-zine, Retaliate.

He has contributed essays to UK author Neil Daniels’ Iron Maiden and ZZ Top biographies. Ray’s fiction has been published in various periodicals and anthologies, including his flash fiction piece “Off the Record” for Akashic Books’ “Mondays Are Murder” noir series. His recent short stories “Before the Ball” and “Widow” were featured in subsequent editions of Alex S. Johnson’s Axes of Evil anthologies. Ray wrote serialized original superhero fiction for Cyber Age Adventures and five of those stories appear in the anthology Playing Solitaire. He was the winner of Quantum Muse’s fiction contest in 1999.

Ray is a former NHL game analyst for The Hockey Nut and one-time host of the forum “Comic Books” at ReadWave. He has done beat reporting, photography and lifestyle articles for Metromix, an affiliate of The Baltimore Sun, Carroll Magazine, The Northern News and The Emmitsburg Dispatch.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Cool Comic o' the Week: Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight # 8

After an insane eight issues, Dark Horse Comics' Grindhouse:  Doors Open at Midnight miniseries comes to a conclusion with the second half of their final two-parter, "Flesh Feast of the Devil Doll."

Part of me is already going daaaaamn! since I just hooked up and blazed through this gory, sleazy, over-the-top homage to pulp horror and campy sci-fi, or in the case of the "Bride of Blood" storyline, a brutal rape revenge story in the vein of I Spit On Your Grave, set in the Feudal Ages.  To be at the end of its run already?  Writer Alex De Campi and Dark Horse editors Ian Tucker and Brendan Wright give allusion that Grindhouse:  Doors Open at Midnight has a potential future in the letters section and I'm all for it. 

As the title would indicate, Grindhouse:  Doors Open at Midnight has been a no-holds-barred splatter-rama with heaps of profanity, filth, nudity and visceral gore.  Not exactly in the hardcore digusto-class of Faust,  Grindhouse:  Doors Open at Midnight has nevertheless been an explicit miniseries that began with the riotous "Bee Vixens From Mars" and now wraps with "Flesh Feast of the Devil Doll."  Each of the four stories that makes up this series have been spread over two issues a pop, and De Campi has craftily worked his gonzo stories within that format.  No mean feat in that, so kudos, Mr. De Campi. 

Just when you think two issues are hardly enough, De Campi somehow wraps each tale with thoroughness, plenty of grue and usually a subtle punch line that feels damned close to actual grindhouse cinema. What Quentin Tarantino attempted with his Grindhouse films and only partially succeeded at, De Campi goes full throttle, appeals to closet perverts and then clocks his readers with enough spatter to give EC a hearty hello from the future.

Many readers responded best to "Prison Ship Antares" which hilariously mixed women prison exploitation films with Heavy Metal-esque sci-fi.  I too favor that one, but the concluding story arc, "Flesh Feast of the Devil Doll" is a hell of a wrap-up. 

I was expecting this story to be a hoist of "Jenifer" from the Masters of Horror t.v. series from Showtime with its seductive mutant chowing down on her sexual conquests, but De Campi sends it off on another tangent.  Roasting Friday the 13th and other camp slaughter flicks with zombie lore, "Flesh Feast of the Devil Doll" pits a girls hockey camp (!) in upstate New York against a carnivorous creature bred from the days when the land belonged to the Oneida territory tribes.  I've been to this area many times and have a good feel where De Campi is referencing (I've seen Binghamton, too, brother), but hold on tight for lots of sexual innuendo, angel dust, lesbian cracks, boobs, boobs and more boobs (at least in the first part, anyway) and every gross offense he can cram into this story before everything goes to bloody hell. 

Our main beastie is in search of virgin prey to sacrifice, but De Campi turns the tables as our hockey hotties cross paths with a pack of horny males and are forced to fight the evil undead together in order to survive.  The virgin prey in this instance is male, and our lead heroine, Tina, sets off to rescue him, even at the cost of her arm.  One of the craziest characters on the hockey team, "Babs," comes to the rescue (late, of course) during the bedlam to the tune of Phil Collins' "Sussudio," of all things.  You can just hear it wailing on a movie screen, heh.  Almost as nuts as Christian Bale's humping playlist in American Psycho.

There are a lot of horror and grind revival comics out there, but Grindhouse:  Doors Open at Midnight is the first thing in ages to get this subculture slime right since Machete.  Ian and Brendan, pull some strings over there, willya?

                              Listenin' to:  Kiss - Love Gun

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