Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight #1 – Review

Subtlety is dead. Big guns, big breasts, and big explosions are the stated goal in anything featuring the “Grindhouse” title and Darkhorse has finally taken a crack at this marginal genre. Too bad they forgot one crucial element.

 Here’s the official word from Darkhorse:

Literature: overrated. Morality: expendable. Tonight is right for some over-the-top sex and violence! Bringing the flavor of midnight exploitation flicks to comics, Grindhouse delivers four two-issue gore operas, starting with “Bee Vixens from Mars,” pitting a one-eyed southern Latina deputy against lusty alien chicks bent on laying eggs in the entire male population!

Don’t get me wrong — I love old-school Grindhouse films and I was as excited as anyone when Darkhorse announced that they’d be taking this genre for a spin with their new Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight title. And for a while, issue #1 seemed promising. The book opens with a Jimmy, a local cop so hung-up on getting his next six-pack that he doesn’t notice that an evil force is slowly taking over the women in his town, starting with his wife. The force is both diabolical and sexual, and writer Alex De Campi does a wonderful job of setting a stage fraught with erotic tension and large doses violence. But as the story continues De Campi doesn’t develop Jimmy’s own underlying psyche — or that of any other character. Yes, we get guts and over-the-top violence but missing is that crucial element that makes all Grindhouse stories sing: big emotions. We have sex and blood, but gone are those other exaggerated moods that keep fans coming back: revenge, jilted love, and betrayal. De Campi is uber-comfortable hyping up the sex and violence, but like a broken horn, those are the only two notes his script is playing right now.

Chris Peterson’s art is pretty fucking awesome, however. It fits the Grindhouse style perfectly, offering everything in extra-large — from the buxom women to the gnarly car crashes. He has a simple and clear style, but gets into the messy details of blood gore quite nicely.

I’m excited to see Darkhorse take this title on. My only hope is that this creative team can provide these characters the necessary emotional range to do this genre justice.


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