First published in a collected volume back in July of 2014, Dark Horse Comics’ graphic novel double-feature ‘Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight - Volume One’ featured the stories ‘Bee Vixens From Mars’ and ‘Prison Ship Antares’, both of which were written by Alex De Campi with artwork by Chris Peterson and Simon Fraser.

Bee Vixens From Mars – 50 Pages
It was midsummer and Officer Jimmy was feeling the heat.  Betty had her friend, Arlene, over.  The two were fooling around, tasting the sticky honey Arlene had picked up on Cemetery Hill.  Apparently there was so much of it up there that the honey was literally dripping on the graves.

In desperate need of an ice cold beer, Jimmy had gone out to the local store to pick up a couple of six packs.  That’s when he found out about the trouble up at Cemetery Hill.  His Latina Deputy – Garcia – had stumbled across something pretty damn bad up there.

Although, at first neither Jimmy nor Garcia realised quite how bad the situation was.  They thought they were just dealing with a kid who’d gotten way over his head trying to be a gangster, and ended up in pieces.  However, it only took Jimmy to follow the trail of blood, for the situation to get a whole lot worse.

And before they knew it, the town’s got a bee problem.  The only thing is, these bees are huge, and are born from the townsfolk themselves.

Sure enough, before long there’s going to be blood and honey everywhere…

Kick-starting the Grindhouse graphic novels off, we have a proper over-the-top bloodbath of a story with so much grindhouse wackiness thrown in, that you’ll struggle not to grin at each page.

The story gets going, dripping at the seams with sleaze – with Jimmy’s wife Betty getting all gooey with the local honey (along with a jar of the sweet sweet amber stuff)!  Oh yeah, we’ve got lesbian action instantly lowering the tone from literally the very first pages.

However, it’s when we first meet the one-eyed, cigar smoking Latina deputy Garcia that we know this story’s going all out with the grindhouse goodness.  This lass is as tough as they come, covered in tattoos, and with more balls than a pool table.

There’s not a huge amount of dialogue in the story.  Subsequently it’s told mostly through the visual madness of the story itself.  We’re talking Giant Bee Vixons from Mars, terrorizing the neighbourhood (well the male portion of it anyway).  You see, it’s the females that change into these Bee Vixons.  Of course, there’s also a Queen Bee.  There always is, right?!  And Alex De Campi doesn’t disappoint with bringing a proper colossal beast into play.  Furthermore, the final showdown’s as monumentally over-the-top as you’re hoping it’s going to be.

Artwork wise, Chris Peterson’s illustrations are bold and colourful and zeroed straight in on the blood, guts and action.  Yeah, they’re not immensely detailed.  But they don’t need to be.  These Grindhouse Graphic Novels are about a quick-fire read, dripping with bloodshed for the gorehound entertainment of it all.  And that’s exactly what this first story delivers.  In absolute blood-splattered abundance.

Prison Ship Antares – 50 Pages
So far, man had only ever managed relatively small steps with exploring the stars.  The nearest Earth-like planet some twenty years’ travel away, therefore finding brave men willing to spend the rest of their lives traversing the cold vacuum of space, leaving behind bright futures for the tedium of a cramped spacecraft, had proven nigh-on impossible.  Which is why they sent the prison ship Antares to Alpha Centauri.

On board the prison ship, Warden Kalinka kept watch over the ship’s prisoners.  Women who had made the wrong decisions in life, taken the tough route, and been locked up for it.  The warden had a plan for these supposedly tough women.  By the time they reached Alpha Centauri, she would have cleansed and purified each and every one of them, until all the sin was gone.

To help maintain order and discipline on board the prison ship, the warden had a small army of mindless male clones who had been genetically engineered to do her bidding.

Once the Antares passed Saturn, the warden started showing her authority with the first cleansing.  The concentrated acid made quick work of the purifying process.  Unfortunately for poor old Annie, it looked like she was more sinful than they imagined.

Still, plenty more women to get through…

The way this story starts off is nothing short of textbook exploitation cinema.  The faux-serious intro, hinting at a highbrow, intellectual backbone to the story…and then we turn the page and we’re thrust straight into some steamy lesbian action from a prison shower scene.  Oh yes, it’s ‘Bare Behind Bars’ (1980) meets ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ (1968).

The exploitation keeps coming thick and fast, with strange replications of the medieval ‘witch trials’ purging the girls of their sins forming the main source of the grimness in the initial few pages.  That said, early on we’re also treated to a scene involving a Japanese prisoner named Mei who’s about to be raped with a dildo covered in broken glass (the rapist guards end up feeling the brunt of the  flesh-cutting phallus).  It’s all pretty brutal.

Throughout the story Warden Kalinka plays the role of sadistic bitch extraordinaire.  Of course the scantily clad prison girls have a plan to overthrow their crazy-ass captor.  The plan involves half the girls stripping down to their underwear (obviously) and dancing around the place to some Lantino song they’re singing, as they converge on the bemused guards.

Yeah, it’s absolute classic exploitation through and through. Furthermore, artist Simon Fraser’s artwork compliments Alex De Campi’s sleazy, exploitative storyline perfectly.  The prisoners are all depicted with plenty of curves and busts-a-plenty.  The handful of graphically gory scenes in the tale are given the detail they need to add that extra whallop of grindhouse charm.

Yes my friends.  It really is all good.

The double feature graphic novel runs for a total of 120 pages (which includes ten mock-up ‘coming soon’ movie adverts, as well as ten pages of bonus material).

© DLS Reviews

Other ‘Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight’ instalments:

Make a free website with Yola