With Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Dark Horse tried to bring the dramatic flare of this marginal genre down from the big screen to the small page. And with this final installment, they might have actually come close.
Here’s the official word from Dark Horse:
The knock-around teen gals of Oneida hockey camp discover that they may have taken on more than they bargained for, as they face off with an ancient, evil beast with a hunger for the sweet meat of virgins! And that calls for a shopping spree—for all the guns!
Issue #8 marks the finale of Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight, a series which has had an uneven track record of taking the gratuitous emotions of the Grindhouse genre and squeezing them into discrete two-part stories. For those of you who’ve followed this series religiously, you might agree that some arcs have been better than others. At her worst writer Alex de Campi has simply tried too hard — part of the joy of Grindhouse is its effortless gore and silly extremism, but there have been moments during this series where de Campi’s efforts to shock have felt overly calculated and fallen strangely flat (“Bride of Blood” would be my go-to example). That said, she’s had moments of inspired brilliance, too, where she’s played the genre like a musical instrument, making each note count and delivering impressive range — and this is what “Flesh Feast” is all about.
Here’s the premise: Renae, a mousy kid has been shipped off to a hockey camp which, unbeknownst to her, was the scene of an satanic ritual gone sour back in 1725 — and which spawned a monster that’s suddenly risen up to wreck havoc. After slaying a few kids on the D.L. last issue, de Campi brings the battle center stage with issue #8 as the monster goes straight after Renae and her misfit friends. As with any good monster tale, issue #8 is all about “the hunt,” and the signature flux from victim to prey — the monster starts off hunting the kids, but then the kids hunt the monster back. Overall, the story is immensely satisfying and de Campi plays all the right notes, invoking a feeling of sleep-away camp horror and occult eeriness.
Gary Erskine delivers the art here, and once again does a beautiful job. As with his last issue Erskine’s rendition of the title monster is particularly delightful — he’s found a nice balance between seductive and horrific which is generally pretty damn hard to pull off.
It’s hard to know how this run will be remembered overall, but I know one thing for sure: I’ll remember “Feast of Flesh” as my favorite story overall.