Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight #5: Review

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In an unveiled attempt to show readers how hardcore this fledgling title can really be, Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight goes for the jugular with issue #5. Too bad all it gives us is a 30 year old formula but with not much innovation.

Here’s the official word from Dark Horse:

Brace yourself for Grindhouse’s most disturbing tale yet! On what should be the happiest day of Branwyn’s life, atrocity beyond comprehension strikes. With everything she’s ever loved destroyed by reavers, all she has left is revenge, in “Bride of Blood”!

After two mostly decent arcs writer Alex De Campi begins her third foray into the Grindhouse genre with a taleScreen shot 2014-02-03 at 6.42.45 AM so familiar that longtime fans of exploitation films will recognize it right away: the rape-revenge film. Yeah, I thought his plot had been retried, too. And not just because of the inherent risks and controversy in coupling these two extreme acts together, but because the terrain had been so evenly and thoroughly explored already. Let’s set aside the fact that I Spit On Your Grave and Ms. 45 sort of offered the first (and many would argue the last) word on this motif back in the early ‘80s, and let’s assume for a moment that the genre is hungry for a revamping of this tale. Even then, Bride of Blood, which is set in a medieval world where villains use sexual assault as a weapon, struggles to deliver anything new. Characters are underdeveloped, motives feel unclear, and there’s so little attention paid to Branwyn’s shift from victim to victor that it feels like the real story happened off-stage.

Despite all this, artist Federica Manfredi once again proves himself to be a talented artist. Characters feel real, evenly drawn, and beautifully sparse. There’s a particularly haunting moment of corpses floating in a river that shines primarily thanks to Manfredi’s renderings.

Overall, Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight #5 hits more wrong notes than right ones. But that doesn’t mean I’m not interested to see where “Bride of Blood” goes next.