Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Issues #5&6: Bride of Blood


Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight issues #5 & 6 – Bride of Blood

Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: Federica Manfredi
Colours: Dorotea Gizzi
Cover artists: Francesco Francavilla (5) & Dan Panosian (6)

The third story in the Doors Open at Midnight series is much different in tone and style of the first two. There is very little fun in any of these pages. Instead of campy gore and witty dialogue, “Bride of Blood” is gritty and almost painful to read.

“Bride of Blood” styles itself as a sort of rape and revenge comic styled after movies like I Spit on Your Grave (Day of the Woman) and Last House on the Left. Just like those films, this is hardly something to enjoy. But this comic puts its own distinct twist on the story: the victim/heroine is Branwyn, a girl who is seeking her revenge, but with sword and chainmail.

Issue 5 sets the story off in a tragic way. Branwyn is betrothed to the Lord Callyreath, who’s spine is weaker than his sword skills. As the wedding begins, the guests and family are slaughtered by the wild reavers. Branwyn is raped and her tongue is cut out, leaving her for dead. She spends her days grieving and recovering up to the burial for her brother. While many thinks she should be grieving, the girl has only revenge on her mind. She steals her late-brother’s armour and takes matters into her own hands.

The following issue switches to the perspective of Lord Callyreath. Readers learn of his terrible plans. All along he had orchestrated a plan to end the lives of Branwyn’s family in order to give himself total control over the lands in the north that she would inherit.

This part was quite interesting because the readers could grow to despise the Lord. But they could also enjoy the full amount of terror he goes through as Branwyn seeks her revenge. It would have been more fun to include more of her story and plot, but it still works to see her as some sort of ghostly figure.

To be completely frank, I don’t know if I would recommend this story as much as the first two. The artwork on the covers got me really excited to read these, but I found it really tough to read. I was never a huge fan of rape/revenge films because they are difficult to handle for me personally.

Out of the entire Grindhouse series, this is probably the weakest title. The story doesn’t always add up completely (like bringing a certain character who was totally dead in issue 5!). But the art is quite nice in these two issues, and the rest of the series has been quite fun so far that it would be a shame to give up without reading the final story, “Flesh Feast of Devil Doll.”


Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight issues #3 & 4: Prison Ship Antares


Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Issues #2 & 3 – Prison Ship Antares

Script: Alex De Campi
Art: Simon Fraser
Colors: Simon Fraser & Victoria Lau
Cover art: Francesco Francavilla

Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight first brought alien bee-women to a suburban desert town, now in the second story, “Prison Ship Antares,” women prisoners are sent into space as explorers. The second story in the series is not connected to the first two issues, but it still oozes that shocking grindhouse style.

This particular entry evokes the style of 70s exploitation films like Women in Cages and The Big Doll House – but this story is in space. Alex De Campi has really made a strange creation this time ’round; it’s full of the same kind of colour characters that those movies were built on.

As in many of the “women in prison” films, the comic is filled with dire situations – and plenty of women who are ready to overcome them. De Campi proves her point that society would rather hide away its criminals than face the realities of society. So why not send prisoners off into space?

“Where could we find brave men willing to spend the rest of their lives traversing the cold vacuum of space? Men willing to leave behind bright futures on Earth for the tedium and danger of a cramped spaceship?” 

Some time in the distant future, the spacecraft Antares is headed to the nearest earth-like planet. It is nearly 20 years of travel away – not exactly a trip many would sign up their lives for. So the women prisoners of earth are sent out instead. Unfortunately for the girls, their warden is Kalinka. She’s a brutal bitch who is hellbent on ‘purifying’ the women aboard. And this little plan doesn’t include Bible study.

As the treatment begins to worsen on Antares, it’s up to the prisoners to set aside their differences and ban together to take command of their own lives. Fraser’s panels are fantastic. They’re full of power. During the climax of the story, he makes all the action count.

“Prison Ship” is probably stronger than “Bee Vixens” story wise. The big-budget idea is really fun. The writing is really quick-witted. Although the scenes can be a bit crass, it doesn’t linger too long to feel uncomfortable or forced. That being said, there isn’t any single character in either issue here who is cooler than Officer Garcia. Like “Bee Vixens,” though, this won’t be a story for everyone.

Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Issue #1: Bee Vixens from Mars


Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Issue #1 – Bee Vixens from Mars

Script: Alex De Campi
Art: Chris Peterson 
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Cover art: Francesco Francavilla

This weekend Dark Horse had a “women in comics” sale where women-created or women-centric comics were all 99 cents. So of course I went mad and bought the entire series of Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight. I’ve long been a fan of the gruesome and gory. And what this first issue delivers is definitely gruesome. The entire series is eight-issues long, split into several different stories arcs.

The first issue opens with a series of…voluptuous drawings by Chris Peterson. The honey and bee motif is definitely strong throughout the panels. It’s over the top and dripping with sensuality.

The story follows police officers Jimmy and his eye-patch wearing, motorcycle-riding partner Garcia as they investigate a dead body they found in a car by the road. The boy’s body is torn apart by something, or rather, someone and not much of him is left other than some suspicious lipstick marks. While investigating the scene, Jimmy is attacked by what appears to be a giant bee-woman. Although he survives the attack, Jimmy goes missing later that night and neither his wife or partner know where he’s gone.


There are police protocols to be followed, but Garcia isn’t a woman to sit around and wait. Garcia decides to take matters into her own hands, taking the hive out herself, but will she survive the wrath of the killer bees?

Grindhouse theatres usually showed exploitation films, and in the 70s that often meant slasher films. That is what this Dark Horse series captures, and with plenty of style. It feels like an old school horror film with explicit yet cool visuals. This is a niche comic that will likely only appeal to fans of the genre (or those at least curious about B-moves).

Garcia is definitely a cool character, and this is a great first book when it comes to suspense – not much is given away as to the villain yet but there are not-too-subtle hints being dropped about what’s going in the hive. But thankfully this is just a short-form horror comic because there isn’t enough to love to keep it going beyond four issues. If possible, get Officer Garcia her own comic – now. Because eye-patches and motorcycles are cool.

The story is not terribly cutting edge, but it’s definitely fun for those who really dig this specific style. A word of warning: not to be picked up by the faint of heart.