Or: Pornstar, Antichrists, And Blashphemy Galore! Oh My!
With Hollywood vomiting out a seemingly endless wave of “found footage”movies and assembly-line dead teenager films, where can the true horror fan find interesting products worth consuming? The Asian markets have been dominating the horror genre for over a decade and a half and the trend doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. American movie studios have made it quite apparent that they have no interest in producing thought-provoking fright flicks, being quite content to release lowest-common-denominator movies year after year.
Television viewers get to consume much better fare. FX’ American Horror Story is a prime example, as is AMC’s ubiquitous The Walking Dead. It’s the latter which concerns us today, springing forth from another genre that has, of late, produced better and smarter horror content than the last few decades’ worth of major Hollywood releases: comic books. With many people first discovering Robert Kirkman’s long-running post-apocalyptic series via their TV screens, how long will it be before some bright bulb of a producer gets the idea to mine the comic book world for further crowd pleasers? How long will it be before comics written by such genre luminaries as Garth Ennis, Alan Moore, Warren Ellis, and Joe Hill get a shot at stardom?
This is’s Top 10 Horror Comic Books That Need Hollywood Adaptations! Join me, your faithful, zombified, decomposing, infected, possessed by an Elder God, tentacle-faced, leaking black oil from every stitched-up orifice reviewer as we run down the list of comic books most likely to catch Hollywood’s eye. [Editor’s Note: Not to worry: TheMatt isn’t contagious. It’s just Tuesday.]
Created by Alan Moore, and Jacen Burrows
Coming up on the 75th anniversary of H.P. Lovecraft’s death, his tales have lost none of their sanity-reducing madness. In the decades since his demise, the universe built around his Cthulhu mythos has been mined by countless writers, not the least of which is the legendary Alan Moore, perhaps best known to comic book fans as the creator of Watchmen and to everybody else as a Neopagan; occultist; practicing Wizard; worshipper of the snake god, Glycon; and all-around crazy, hobo-looking gentleman.
Oddly enough, none of that is important. What is important is that Moore’s four-issue Neonomicon series is as terrifying and as well-researched a take on Lovecraft’s stories as we’re ever likely to get.
Two undercover FBI agents attempt to infiltrate an underground cult. They are completely unprepared for what they find. The male agent is quickly dispatched, but for his female partner, the terror is only just beginning and she’s abused, both physically and mentally, to the brink of insanity. Neonomicon doesn’t shrink away from the “nameless rituals” that Lovecraft only hinted at, by detailing the entire scope of sexual abuse our helpless protagonist suffers at the hands (fins?) of one of Dagon’s offspring.
Neonomicon isn’t for the faint of heart, especially if you’re a member of the fairer sex. Yet, it’s perfectly in keeping with Lovecraft’s established lore, even if Moore’s story gets several levels more graphic than the master originally intended. I’m not entirely sure if Neonomicon would work as a movie, but as a cable television mini-series, it could work, although I predict a massive outcry at the overabundance of fish rape.
Written by Warren Ellis
Blackgas is the tale of a worldwide flatulence epidemic that soon begins to claim lives – due to explosive diarrhea. OK, not really, but knowing writer Warren Ellis, he could take that idea and totally run with it. Ellis is a writer who switches genres as easily as you and I change socks. From the gonzo journalism of Transmetropolitan to the big-screen superheroics of The Authority, he’s done it all. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that his take on a zombie epidemic is as interesting as the rest of his output.
Before spiraling out into the world at large, Blackgas begins on Smoky Island. Couple Tyler and Soo are visiting the in-laws before setting up shop at a small cabin on the other side of the island. An earthquake soon hits, splitting the earth open and releasing the titular substance from the bowels of the planet. The pair is spared the infection, but the rest of the island’s inhabitants are turned into cannibalistic monsters with black goop leaking out of their orifices.
Blackgas isn’t the most original property on this list, serving as yet another take on the zombie invasion genre, but Ellis brings his usual flourishes to the material, peppering the story with some nice emotional beats and well-thought diatribes on the history and origin of the black substance. In a typically nihilistic twist, the story ends with the U.S. government using a nuclear option to contain the threat, which only serves to throw up a black gas cloud over the entire surface of the planet. Whoops! Your tax dollars at work, folks!
Created by Rick Remender, Kieron Dwyer, and Tony Moore
OK, granted: you’d probably have to pay a visit to the closed-off section of the localstore that your mom used to cover your eyes from to rent this sucker, and you can forget bringing a date to the screening, but still! This needs to be made into a movie! A movie quite possibly shot in San Fernando Valley starring Riley Bigguns and Jon Rambone! SOMEBODY NEEDS TO MAKE THIS MOVIE!
OK. Deep breaths. Combining the undead with porn stars isn’t exactly a brand new idea, see Joanna Jaguar’s recent review of Zombies Vs. Strippers if you don’t believe me. However, Rick Remender’s hilariously satirical XXXombies concerns actual porn stars lazily fighting off a zombie invasion.
I say lazily because, well, the cast aren’t exactly brain surgeons. It takes them a while to even realizehave taken over, since they’re either too busy fucking, stoned, or just too plain dumb to notice something’s gone wrong. When a cast member of a porn shoot starts craving fresh meat, things swiftly go downhill – after the attempts to get her to fuck a male co-star first, of course.
Quite possibly the only time a guy has ever turned down a blowjob.
Believe it or not, there’s actually a tender love story somewhere in this. Of course, your definition of tender must include losing your virginity to a trio of horny porn actresses to pass the time, while this stupid zombie apocalypse blows over. Heh, I said blows… Anyway, XXXombies is puerile to the nth degree but you can’t deny that Remender just takes the concept and runs with it. Also, an entrepreneurial porn producer gets the bright idea to round up undead Hollywood celebrities and create a zombie whorehouse. In what world is that not awesome?? Undead Kate Beckinsale, here I come!
[Editor’s Note: Coincidentally, here comes Ms. Beckinsale’s lawyers…]
Created by Garth Ennis and Mike Wolfer
From the prolific mind of my favorite comic book writer working today, Stitched contains a little bit of everything from Garth Ennis’ work that tickles my fancy: tough-talking military bravado, multi-faceted characters one can relate to, and sheer creativity when it comes to introducing new twists to the well-worn zombie genre. Three poorly armed NATO troops, survivors of a Blackhawk helicopter crash, find themselves trapped in the middle of Afghanistan, tracked by Taliban and something far worse. Unlike most of the entries on this list, Ennis goes for the slow burn approach to storytelling, letting the tension reach a boiling point before unleashing his creation: the Stitched.
Dressed in tattered cloth rags, which help to camouflage them in the searing desert, the Stitched are the victims of a black magic ritual in which they were forced to swallow an unnamed black substance. Then, his mouth, nostrils, ears, eyes, penis and rectum are stitched shut with needle and thread to prevent the soul from escaping, thus allowing the victim to endure catastrophic damage and still keep moving, and endowing him with a degree of supernatural strength capable of ripping limbs off.
Eerily, the creatures can be controlled by whirling a tin can filled with rocks, and cease to move when the sound stops, leading to some incredibly tense moments, such as when the antagonist behind the creatures has the bright idea to tie the tins like cowbells around the Stitched themselves to keep them mobile. Garth Ennis has already shot a short film designed to accompany the still ongoing comic book series, but the premise of Stitched deserves a grander scale. Get on it, Hollywood!
Created by Warren Ellis and Mike Wolfer
Already scheduled for a big screen adaptation in the near future, Warren Ellis’ character, William Gravel, is an English soldier and a one-of-a-kind combat magician, which means he spends as much time shooting spells as he does handguns. Gravel’s adventures often take place in the world just beneath our own, a shadow realm containing a mix of Lovecraftian horror, where strange beings attempt to infiltrate our world, and wild, gravity-defying Jon Woo firefights exist. First appearing in the Strange Kiss mini-series, Gravel’s first case involves solving the murder of an old comrade in arms who dies after giving birth to a clutch of lizards.
William Gravel is a fascinating character, at times a completely amoral individual, he nonetheless treasures such qualities as loyalty and honor, but often leaves a trail of bodies wherever he travels. The series’ approach to magic spells is unusual, to say the least. Gravel uses his abilities to perform feats of acrobatics leading to amazing gun-play sequences, and he maintains a mystical forest, existing just sideways to our reality, where guns and bullets literally grow on trees. Gravel is just begging for a quality TV series.