When my copies of Blood & Gourd 1 and 2 came in, I posted that flipping through the books was like if Night of the Demons, a Reese’s peanut butter pumpkin, the Garfield Halloween special and that feeling you got when walking home from school in your costume on Halloween were all melted down and turned into the ink that was used to print these pages. I was pretty damn close. Throw in Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, the Duncan Pumpkin Garbage Pail Kid, your favorite random 80s VHS box art and a nice bit of mystery, and you’ve got the pumpkin spice Frappuccino that is Blood & Gourd. Now, I don’t really review stuff. I don’t pick things a part or analyze the nuances that make this or that work or not. I just like to revel in the junk that I love.
And, man, I love this comic. Also, let me be clear. There are pumpkins a plenty in this book. Big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. The first stem-soaked issue is 48 pages jam-packed and bursting with seeds and innards and rinds and copious amounts of SCHLUMMPPFFing.
Things kick off on October 29th in a warehouse kinda building where a bunch of businessmen are ostensibly there to become financial investors (doesn’t work out that way, of course). Someone quips that the place is like “Willy Wonka meets the Church of Satan” and that seems about right. Rivers of green slime flow and pumpkins bob and buoy in the sludge. We learn that this warehouse is actually a greenhouse that is being purchased by the shadowy pumpkin agency Seminal Chemical—a real Silver Shamrock kinda vibe going on here.
The next day, the day before Halloween, all the local townsfolk are partaking of everyone’s favorite fall/Halloween tradition: the pumpkin patch. Henderson Farms, we learn, is a community staple and its pumpkin contests and cider and donuts and corn mazes are a tradition more than a century in the making. Here we meet the proprietor of the farm, Kitty Henderson, and we learn about a forced buyout by Seminal. Amidst the harvest revelry, shit goes down. Pumpkiny kinda shit. It turns out that Seminal is producing these sort of facehugger/Jason worm pumpkin demons that plant themselves in people’s heads and necks and the result is a Street Trash-esque face melting, gooey mess. We are treated to human-turned-pumpkin transformation scenes that beg to be committed to celluloid.
Over the course of the first two issues, amidst all the gourdy mayhem, we are shown glimpses of pumpkin sacrifice and some kind of master pumpkin demon and the threat of worldwide pumpkin domination (picture the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers…truckloads of pods set to be disseminated throughout the country). And of course the big pumpkinheaded guy on the cover of issue one. He rules, for sure.
I mentioned Silver Shamrock above, and you can’t deny the Halloween III influence, which is spectacular in my book. I don’t know where this story is going, but before things get better I imagine a sci-fi pumpkin-apocalypse where Seminal rules over a country whose citizens have had their craniums replaced with gourds. Kitty Henderson is going to serve as a stand-in for Roddy Piper, James Woods and Tom Atkins and she’s gonna have to bust some melons to get behind the vines and take down the oppressive government.
It’s not hard to imagine walking into a video store in 1988, all set to rent Trick or Treat or The Blob remake, and stumbling across a shelf-damaged copy of a relatively obscure tape called Blood & Gourd, adorned with a little red circle sticker proclaiming ‘horror’, as if it wasn’t obvious. You’d assume it had a heavy metal soundtrack (and 20 years later, you’d have the headbanging theme song on your iPod, because technology is weird as hell). It might star Lar Park-Lincoln or Jennifer Runyon (there are no female characters in that age range in the actual comic but who cares, it seems appropriate). And you’d rent it in like July, because as a kid you didn’t really care about theming your movie watching to what season or month it was. And then you might forget about it. And then a bunch of years later, when people are dredging up every forgotten or obscure or random horror movie you can think of on lists of top movies that need to be on Blu Ray or the 5 most expensive VHS tapes ever, you’ll remember it and really want to see it. Then a few more years go by and a niche distribution company will release an excellent edition on disc and you’ll pre-order it on day one. Then you’ll watch it and it will make you think about being a kid and all the fun times you had at Video World or having horror movie marathons at your friend’s house while eating Totino’s pizza rolls and playing Toe Jam & Earl. And from then on, you will watch it every October, at least once but probably more, for the rest of your life. Because that is what Halloween is about: Tradition.
And Blood & Gourd (the comic, not the obscure 80s horror movie I just made up that doesn’t exist) is going to be a nice addition to my own annual Halloween celebration.
Click here and pick up both issues (you can even get a t-shirt!).