REVIEW: GRINDHOUSE – DOORS OPEN AT MIDNIGHT – VOLUME 1 / AUTHOR: ALEX DE CAMPI / ARTIST: CHRIS PETERSON, SIMON FRASER / PUBLISHER: DARK HORSE / RELEASE DATE: JULY 29TH
Comic books have a rich and chequered history when it comes to exploitation horror stories. Cheesy storylines and unrelentingly weird ideas have been a part of comic books since the '40s and are still around, despite the best efforts of various moral guardians. Dark Horse has decided to join in on the fun by offering us its take on Grindhouse, a term generally associated with exploitation cinema rather than sequential art.
Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight – Volume 1 is an anthology book that attempts to emulate movies such as Invasion of the Bee Girls and Star Slammer. Our first story, Bee Vixens From Mars is pretty much what you’d expect: alien bee creatures use mutant honey to turn women into sexy flying cannibals and the only person who can stop them is an equally sexy lady cop with a bad attitude. The second tale is based around a prison ship filled with women and a sadistic prison warden.
Alex de Campi has put a lot of effort into making both of these tales feel as cinematic as possible and sadly this works against them. Instead of a cool horror comic that draws upon that medium’s own rich history, we get something that feels like an adaptation of an exploitation movie that doesn’t exist. This leaves the reader with the impression that something is missing and this is a great shame because the stories themselves are quite fun. In both cases the stories rely far too much on the exploitation elements than the horror.
The art is great, however. Plenty of guts, gore and curves. A lot of work has gone into drawing the reader’s eye to something pretty and interesting, all the better to blow that thing up on the next page.
Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight is a great idea that suffers from an identity crisis; it neither embraces it’s schlocky print and ink origins, nor does it seem willing to straddle the line between gross and good. It is a book that needs to take itself a bit more seriously in order to allow the reader to embrace its silly yet gory heart.