Saturday, May 27, 2017

Splatterpunk zine (issue 8) edited by Jack Bantry

(2017; horror/speculative fiction zine)


Overall review

If you are looking for a zine that lives up to its title, this might be a worthwhile purchase for you. The writing is raw and engaging, in a viscous, splatterific and dark-hearted way. Not only that, there are interviews with authors Ray Garton, David Agranoff and Sean Leonard.


Stories

1.)  "Reprising Her Role" -- Bracken MacLeod: A porno shoot goes awry, leading to revenge and death. Solid story, well-written.


2.)  "NSFW" -- Nathan Robinson: Vivid and gory scene showing office sex taken to new, ultraviolent levels. Visually, it recalls the spirit of David Cronenberg's 1975 film Shivers. Readers who want to know the cause and backstory of events being shown may be disappointed, since "NSFW" does not provide that satisfaction -- it reads like a good first-draft writing exercise.


3.) "Two Blocks Down, One Block Left" -- Ryan C. Thomas: Excellent, intriguing work about a skinless man who hangs out near school yards. This is my favorite story in this issue.


4.)  "Dermatobia Hominis" -- Gabino Inglesias: A young man's sins inspire a slow, terrible punishment. Good tale, entertaining.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Feverish Fiction issue #4 (March 2017) edited by Michael Faun

(2017; dark/horror/speculative fiction magazine. Published by Sleazy Viking Press.)


Overall review

Any magazine whose "Editor's Note" is made up of the lyrics to The Kinks' "Welcome to Sleazy Town" is bound to be interesting (in a good way).


Of course, it comes as not surprise that the fourth, limited-run issue of Feverish Fiction is just as entertaining as its previous issues. A few of the B-flick horror/science fiction stories did not grab me, but it was a matter of personal preference, not faulty writing.  

In addition, there is the usual (semi-)nude female pin-ups, whose themes run between Seventies schtick and Hammer Film Gothicity. One of the high points of this issue is Terry Bizarro's colorful, gory painting ("Unigore Forest"), a memorable piece of art.

This is worth purchasing, if you are an adult fan of small press magazines and horror, science fiction and sex microfiction.


Stories, other works

1.) "Amidst the Mangrove" (poem) -- Lee Clark Zumpe: Solid, chatty "island of strange horror"-themed versework.


2.)  "The Occult Gate of the Comic Book Writer" (story) - Jerry Williams: A comic book writer's work inspires Lovecraftian consequences. Fun, entertaining work that made me think of the 1994 John Carpenter film In the Mouth of Madness.


3.)  "Automaton Word Wounds" (story) -- S.C. Burke:Stream-of-consciousness prose poem about typing, gore and other cerebral matters.


4.)  "The Penis Goblins" (poem) -- Justin A. Mank: Okay limerick about dangerous creatures with lusty, bloody hobbies.


5.)  "Planet of the Volcano Spiders" (story) -- Alex S. Johnson: Quirky, funny and sexy tale about a woman whose possible gig as a literal sacrifice impels her to practical action. This is an excellent read, with a heroine worth rooting for.


6.)  "Statue Playmate" (story) -- Donald Armfield: A freaky brutal rape by a dwarf is not the worst thing that could happen, as one woman finds out.

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The sixth and final issue of Feverish Fiction is on sale now. If you are interested in buying a copy, best jump to it, because -- as noted above -- each issue is a limited-run work, and they sell out fast.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

(hb; 2016)

From the back cover

"Chicago, 1954. When his father Montrose goes missing, twenty-two year old Army veteran Atticus Turner embarks on a road trip to New England to find him, accompanied by his Uncle George—publisher of The Safe Negro Travel Guide—and his childhood friend Letitia. On their journey to the manor of Mr. Braithwhite—heir to the estate that owned Atticus’s great grandmother—they encounter both mundane terrors of white America and malevolent spirits that seem straight out of the weird tales George devours.

"At the manor, Atticus discovers his father in chains, held prisoner by a secret cabal named the Order of the Ancient Dawn—led by Samuel Braithwhite and his son Caleb—which has gathered to orchestrate a ritual that shockingly centers on Atticus. And his one hope of salvation may be the seed of his—and the whole Turner clan’s—destruction."



Review

 Lovecraft is an entertaining, mainstream and cinematic collection of event- and character-linked stories that seamlessly weaves Lovecraftian horror, leavening humor and racial violence into a word-efficient tale with a climax that brings together all the characters and plot strings that came before it. This is an excellent fractured novel, one of my favorite reads of 2017.

#

In May 2017, it was announced that Lovecraft will soon be the basis for a forthcoming HBO horror anthology series, produced by Jordan Peele, J.J.Abrams and Misha Green.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Chapterhouse: Dune by Frank Herbert

(pb; 1985: sixth book in the Dune Chronicles)

From the back cover

"The desert planet Arrakis, called Dune, has been destroyed. Now, the Bene Gesserit, heirs to Dune's power, have colonized a green world--and are turning it into a desert, mile by scorched mile."


Review

Chapterhouse is an okay book. Herbert maintains the word sly, character-based pacing of the previous Dune novels -- this time out, though, the slow-build storyline runs a few chapters longer than it should. The power struggles (altered by the events and characters of the previous book, Heretics of Dune) are still intriguing in parts and the finale is thrilling on all levels, but the middle section of Chapterhouse feels like a slog-through read, one that could have been as good as most of the other Dune entries.

This is worth reading if you are a Dune completist. (I would suggest borrowing it from your local library before committing cash to it.) If you are a casual fan, save your time and money for something better.


Followed by the first Prelude to Dune novel, House Atreides, by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Marvel Essential: Tomb of Dracula Vol. 3 by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan & others


(pb; 2004: Collects Tomb of Dracula #50-70, The Tomb of Dracula magazine #1-4. These issues were originally published between 1976 and 1979.)

From the back cover

"Delve deeper into Marvel's Golden Age of horror with the Lord of the Vampires and his host of hated pursuers, including filmdom's superstar Blade! Follow Dracula through centuries of adventures, each darker than the last! From a cosmic clash with the Silver Surfer, to a fight in the streets as a mere mortal, to literal family struggles with his daughter, the Demoness, and his son, the Angel! Includes rare black-and-white tales unrated by the Comics Code Authority!"


Review

Tomb of Dracula Vol. 3 is an uneven read. While Dracula is a larger than life character, his personality -- petty and foolish, even for an arrogant undead regent -- is too over-the-top: this made me wonder how someone this emotionally erratic survived for so long. It appears that part of the reason for his survival is that many of his enemies (even those sworn to destroy him at any cost) have the plot-convenient habit of letting him go when they have the chance to eradicate the storied bloodsucker. (Oh, they have their justifications, but they read like the dying gasps of a comic book series that should have been a miniseries or two, at best.)

It should be noted that the four issues of The Tomb of Dracula magazine that close out this graphic novel have better stories (for the most part) than the twenty-issue series that precedes the magazine.


That said, Tomb Vol. 3 is a fun, park-your-brain (if character-inconsistent and melodramatic) storyline with excellent, spooky, nostalgic and action-oriented artwork. It is worth reading, if the above caveats do not put you off.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dog Eat Dog by Edward Bunker

(hb; 1996)

From the back cover

"Dog Eat Dog, Bunker's fourth novel, follows Troy Cameron, a reformatory graduate like Bunker. A terrifying and brutal narrative, the novel tracks his lawless spree in the company of two other reform school alumni, Diesel Carson and Mad Dog Cain. . ."


Review

Caveat: Do not read this book if you are put off by racial epithets (which ring character-true), sexism, graphic brutality, ex-con honesty and noiresque endings.

Dog
is a compelling, nihlistic crime thriller with fated, larger-than-life characters, raw language and violence, and other human-born darkness that contribute to the lead characters' certain doom. Its pace is swift, its prison-harsh rules ironclad and its bloodshed repentless (in regards to the characters inflicting said punishments). This is an excellent, rings-true read, one worth owning if you like your genre thrills gritty, wild and black-as-tar. Dog is one of my favorite reads of 2017.


#

The film version was released stateside on November 11, 2016. Paul Schrader (who also played Alex Aris, a.k.a. "El Greco") directed the film. Matthew Wilder wrote the screenplay.

Nicolas Cage played Troy Cameron. Christopher Matthew Cook played Charles "Diesel" Carson. Willem Dafoe played Gerald "Mad Dog" McCain.

Robert Maples played Jimmy the Face. Louisa Krause played Zoe. Reynaldo Gallegos played Chepe. Louis Perez played Mike Brennan. Magi Avila played "Nanny" [to Brennan's infant].

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Halloween III: Season of Witch by Jack Martin

(pb; 1982: movie tie-in novel. Based on the screenplay and film directed by Tommy Lee Wallace.)

From the back cover

"Do you know where your kids are tonight?

"The streets are quiet. Dead quiet as the shadows lengthen and night falls. It's Halloween. Blood-chilling screams pierce the air. Grinning skulls and grotesque shapes lurk in the gathering darkness. It's Halloween. The streets are filling with small cloaked figures. They're just kids, right? The doorbell rings and your flesh creeps. But it's all in fun, isn't it?

"No. This Halloween is different.

"It's the last one."


Review

Halloween III sports a fun, fast-moving storyline (as it should, given its source film). Martin, who also penned Halloween IIagain lays thick the Samhain dread, occasional gore and B-flick cheesiness -- and, for the most part, it works. (In the beginning of the book, Martin makes Challis's thoughts a bit too melodramatic -- I write this, bearing in mind that Challis is an alcoholic whose life is in lonely, sad freefall. . . thankfully, Challis's over-the-top self-pity and loathing of corporatism make up less than a quarter of III.)

This is worth reading and owning, if you can overlook the above criticism and enjoy unrepentant, sometimes wondrous B-movie cheesiness (in whatever form it takes).

III is followed by the barely-connected-if-at-all Halloween IV, another movie tie-in novel -- this one penned by Nicholas Grabowsky. (Note that the film's alternate title is Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers.)

#

The film, upon which the novel is based, was released stateside on October 22, 1982. Tommy Lee Wallace scripted and directed the truly-a-B-movie flick.

Tom Atkins played Daniel Challis. Stacey Nelkin played Ellie Grimbridge. Dan O'Herlihy played Conal Cochran. Michael Currie played Rafferty. 

Note: Series creators John Carpenter and Debra Hill had envisioned the Halloween films, whose first film centered around Michael Myers, to go beyond that iconic serial killer. The Halloween movies -- however many there were -- would revolve around the holiday in a creepy, thematic way, with different stories and different characters.

When Halloween became an unexpected hit, a sequel was expected by the studio that released it, so Carpenter and Hill, with much reluctance, caved to the studio's wishes and scripted the Myers-centric Halloween II.

Halloween III did not do well at the box office. Fans were confused by the absence of Michael Myers in this second sequel, so they did not go to see it. Or, if they did, they often bad-mouthed it. This put the kibosh on Carpenter and Hill's original vision. (Years later, Halloween III would be regarded by many as a cult classic.)

The next sequel, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, was released stateside on October 21, 1988. As indicated by its title, the series had succumbed to the unimaginative pressure of its short-sighted fans and its producers and every Halloween film since then has featured Michael Myers.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Feverish Fiction issue #3 (February 2017) edited by Michael Faun

(2017; dark/horror/speculative fiction magazine. Published by Sleazy Viking Press.)

Overall review

The third, limited-run issue of Feverish Fiction is maintains the same high quality of the magazine's first two issues. Once again, there are BDSM-themed pin-ups and science fiction/horror-centric artwork, in addition to the B-flick entertaining writing. It is worth owning, if you are an adult fan of small press magazines and horror, science fiction and sex microfiction.


Stories, other works


1.)  "Mistress Daemona" - K.A. Opperman: Solid, if familiar-scenario BDSM versework about a Domme.


2.)  "Serial Serendipity" - Patrick Winters: Love the title. A serial killer, stalking his new victim, gets a surprise -- fun, well-written microtale.


3.)  "Saturday Night Cinema Club" - S.C. Burke: Nightmarish, hallucinatory take on movie theaters, with a commentary on society thrown into the horrific, viscous clusterfrak.


4.)  "The Black Light Glyphs" - Manchester Moore: Multi-section piece about a boy who may have disturbing, deadly predilections.


5.)  "The Old Spying Game" - James McLachlan: A fledgling supervillain's plan of global domination hits a snag when he gets an unexpected visitor. Good, genre-veracious parody of a 1960s spy thriller.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Thank You For Coming to Hattiesburg by Todd Barry

(hb; 2017: nonfiction / humor. First Foreword by Jesse Eisenberg. Second Foreword by Doug Stanhope.)

From the inside flap

"Hello. It’s Todd Barry. Yes, the massively famous comedian. I have billions of fans all over the world, so I do my fair share of touring. While I love doing shows in the big cities (New York, Philadelphia), I also enjoy a good secondary market (Ithaca, Bethlehem). Performing in these smaller places can be great because not all entertainers stop there on tour; they don’t expect to see you. They’re appreciative. They say things like “Thank you for coming to Hattiesburg” as much as they say “Nice show.” And almost every town has their version of a hipster coffee shop, so I can get in my comfort zone.

"My original plan was to book one secondary market show in all fifty states, in about a year, but that idea was funnier than anything in my act. So, instead of all fifty states in a year, my agent booked multiple shows in
a lot of states, plus Israel and Canada."Thank You For Coming to Hattiesburg is part tour diary, part travel guide, and part memoir (Yes, memoir. Just like the thing presidents and former child stars get to write). Follow me on my journey of small clubs, and the occasional big amphitheater. Watch me make a promoter clean the dressing room toilet in Connecticut, see me stare at beached turtles in Maui, and see how I react when Lars from Metallica shows up to see me at a rec center in Northern California."


Review

Before reading this wry-humored book, I would recommend watching some of Barry's standup routines. If his stage work does not elicit a laugh-out-loud (or otherwise appreciable) response in you, this is probably not a book you will enjoy. If you do enjoy his quietly spoken, sly humor, then you should consider -- at the very least -- checking out this concise and gentle-hearted offering from a comedian who is the top of his game.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Guardian Angels by Joseph A. Citro a.k.a. Joseph Citro

(1988: sequel to Shadow Child)

From the back cover

"Four years have passed since the slaughter that took place at the old Whitcome house. Four years since the tiny picture-perfect town of Antrim. Vermont was devastated by the ugliest event in the town's history. Now the bloodstained Whitcome walls have been painted over, the broken-down doors repaired. And a new family has moved in.

"Fifteen-year-old Will Crockett could have told his mother and stepfather that the bargain price on the Vermont house was too good to be true. But they never listened to him, anyway. Now weird things were beginning to happen: open doors that he knew he had locked; strange scampering sounds on the porch roof. A sense of being watched. His parents didn't believe him, but Will knew something was wrong -- something so twisted and evil that only a kid's imagination could conceive of its horror."


Review

Guardian is an okay follow-up to Shadow Child. While the characters are well-written, the storyline feels disjointed at times. Citro could have easily streamlined the novel's flow into a more smoothly-told tale by eliminating some of the set-up scenes which read a bit clunky. Not only that, it seems as if the Gentry have more powers than they did in the first book -- at one point, they are almost god-like with their magic.

The novel's saving graces are Citro's superb characterization, his deepening of the Gentry's mythological roots (as well as their collective role in the world) and the last hundred or so pages which explode with supernatural carnage, violence and other sexualized horror.

If you are interested in reading this, I would recommend checking it out from a library before buying it -- unless it is for a bargain-basement price or you are a fan of Citro's writing who must own everything he has published.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert

(1984: fifth book in the Dune Chronicles)

From the inside flap

". . . the planet Arrakis--now called Rakis--is becoming desert again. The Lost Ones are returning home from the far reaches of space. The great sandworms are dying. And the children of Dune's children awaken from empire as from a dream, wielding the new power of a heresy called love."


Review

Heretics is a good, slow-build read. Leto II has been dead for thousands of years. The Bene Gesserit and the Bene Tleilaxu are still engaged in power struggles with each other whilst squelching insurrection within their own ranks. Other groups, including the wild and sexual Honored Matres, have entered this cautious lead-up to war. (The Honored Matres are intent on supplanting the Gesserit Sisterhood and the Tleilaxu.)

Not only that, a young girl (Sheeana) -- a possible descendant of Siona, who helped bring Leto II down -- and a recent Duncan Idaho ghola are showing signs of rebellion, whom the Gesserit and the other groups must control or kill.

Heretics has some interesting characters, Herbert's usual epic-minded writing and potent, series-changing twists, making this a worthwhile entry in the Dune series. For Dune purists who love the Atreides storyline but not the other group politics, I would suggest borrowing it from your local library first (if you are so inclined).

Followed by Chapterhouse: Dune.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Feverish Fiction issue #2 (January 2017) edited by Michael Faun

(2017; dark/horror/speculative fiction magazine. Published by Sleazy Viking Press.)

Overall review:

The second, limited-run issue of Feverish Fiction is even better than the first. The magazine has expanded its works to include an oddball, chuckle-worthy cartoon (by Justin A. Mank), as well as several pin-ups (in various thematic states of undress). And, of course, there are B-movie-esque stories and a poem to further entertain its readers. It is worth owning, if you are an adult fan of small press magazines and bordering-on-bizarre horror and sex works.

Stories, other works:

1.) "Canvasses" - Lucas Mangum: The phrase "living art" becomes a media-strange reality in this short, sexualized work. Good read.


2.) "A Virgin Among the Frankenwitches" - Alex S. Johnson: A woman (Leelah) discovers that being pursued by would-be rapists and murderers is not the worst imaginable fate. This appears to be a fun, fairy tale-esque hybrid-homage to Jess Franco's cinematic works (or at least one of them).


3.) "In the Dungeon" - K.A. Opperman: Lust, skeletons and BDSM highlight this sensory-intense poem.


4.) "Story of Spaceship, 12 Little Men Probed Today" - Joe Dorris: Amusing news story about a strange 1955 occurrence centering around an alien attack.


5.) "Other Me" - C.M. Saunders: The appearance of a man's doppelgänger presages his dark, twisty end.


6.) "The Happiest Place On. . . Well You Know" - S. Nycole Laff: Satirical take on the shambling undead and Disneyland -- funny and hues-close-to-nightmare-reality story. This is my favorite work in this issue.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Shadow Child by Joseph A. Citro

(pb; 1987: prequel to Guardian Angels)

From the back cover

"Eric Nolan is a man already too familiar with death. His brother's disappearance, the loss of his parents, and his wife's recent demise have left him near the edge. In desperation he returns to his boyhood home, his grandparents' farm in rural Vermont, now occupied by his cousin Pamela and her family. But Eric's solace is short-lived. Something terrible is going on in the woods nearby; its center seems to be a mysterious stone structure. The mystery deepens as people begin to vanish. As baffling incidents continue, it becomes harder to deny that a powerful malevolent force is at work in the Green Mountains. Eric must confront a reality he can neither accept not deny."


Review

Shadow Child is an excellent, fast-paced 'horror in a small Vermont town' novel that brings together fairy tale-esque terror, occasional gore and well-written characters. Given its familiar storyline and its other genre limitations, it is not a landmark work. It is, however, a top-notch genre work for its superb writing, mounting sense of menace and entertaining effect.



Fans of Gary Brandner's Howling trilogy and Stephen King's early works may want to check this out.


Followed by Guardian Angels.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Triple by Ken Follett

(pb; 1979)

From the back cover

"EGYPT -- where, hidden deep in the desert, a top secret project to build a nuclear plant that will give the Arabs 'the bomb' nears completion.


"ISRAEL -- where the Mossad's number one agent, Nat Dickstein, the master of disguise and deceit, is given the impossible mission: to beat the Arabs in the nuclear arms race by finding and stealing 200 tons of uranium without any other nation discovering the theft.

"RUSSIA -- where top KGB officials have decided to tip the atomic balance in Egypt's favor.

"ENGLAND -- where Dickstein makes what could be the fatal mistake of his career by falling under the seductive spell of Suza Ashford, the dazzling, dark-haired beauty who may be his dearest ally or deadliest enemy.

"THE HIGH SEAS -- where the Mossad, KGB, Egyptians and Fadayeen terrorists play out the final violent, bloody moves in this devastating game where the price of failure is nuclear holocaust."


Review

Triple is an entertaining and excellent political thriller. Its timeline spans from 1948 to 1968, with interesting [if familiar] characters and a swift-moving plot revolving around its central character, Nat Dickstein, whose key goal is to steal uranium for the Israelis. If you are looking for a deep-thoughts read, Triple is probably not the book you are looking for – however, if you are looking for a slick, well-written novel with a slam-bang James Bond-eseque finish, this is a book worth owning.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Halloween II by Jack Martin

(pb; 1981: sequel to Halloween by Curtis Richards. Based on the screenplay by John Carpenter and Debra Hill.)

From the back cover

"It is Halloween night in Haddonfield, Illinois. Six gunshots pierce the silence of this normally quiet town. Neighborhood kids trick-or-treating on the street stare as a man plunges off a balcony. A doctor from the county mental hospital rushes from the house. He has followed his patient, who escaped from the institution, back to Haddonfield, where fifteen years earlier he brutally murdered his own sister. The demented young man has already killed three teenagers this evening. Tonight's massacre has only begun!"


Review

Halloween II is a well-written, solid slasher novel, based on John Carpenter and Debra Hill's screenplay for the 1981 film. If it lacks the out-of-the-blue shocker feel of its source film/novel, it is not Martin's fault. He does his best to imbue the straightforward slice-and-dice storyline with over-the-top descriptions and gore, while furthering the franchise's tone of spare, chilling thematic savagery.

There are few differences between the film and this movie tie-in book. There is one scene in the book that I do not remember from the film (it involves Michael's dispatch of a television producer) and Martin's writing gives us access to the characters' thoughts, giving them more depth.

(The original Halloween film and novel were meant to be single-shot works. No sequels had been planned. Then it made a lot of money and the producers insisted on a sequel. Therein, perhaps, lies one of this sequel's weaknesses.)

Halloween II, out of print and pricy, is worth reading. It is also worth owning if one's expectations take into account its inherent limitations (sequels rarely live up to the freshness of their source works), or if you are a Halloween completist.

Followed by Halloween III (another movie tie-in work, penned by Martin).

(NoteHalloween III has nothing to do with the Michael Myers-Laurie Strode storyline. . . once John Carpenter and Debra Hill had reconciled themselves with the inevitability of a Halloween-themed franchise, they decided that it should center around the holiday, not the Myers-Strode-Loomis triumvirate. Of course, its producers and its fans -- with their unimaginative expectations -- killed Carpenter's and Hill's ambition multi-vision at the outset.)

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The film on which the novel is based was released on October 30, 1981.Rick Rosenthal directed the film, based on John Carpenter and Debra Hill's screenplay.

Jamie Lee Curtis reprised her role of Laurie Strode. Donald Pleasance reprised his role of Dr. Sam Loomis. Charles Cyphers reprised his role of Sheriff Leigh Brackett. Dick Warlock played "The Shape" (a.k.a. Michael Myers) and "Patrolman #3" -- a professional stunt coordinator, Warlock provided that service for the film as well.

Lance Guest played Jimmy. Pamela Susan Shoop played Karen. Leo Rossi played Budd.  Nancy Stephens, wife of the film's director, played Marion. Gloria Gifford played Mrs. Alves. Tawney Moyer played Jill.




#

Rob Zombie remade Halloween IIThe film, a reworked sequel to Zombie's remake of Halloween (2007), was released stateside on August 28, 2009.

Scout Taylor-Compton reprised her role of Laurie Strode. Malcolm McDowell reprised his role of Dr. Sam Loomis. Tyler Mane reprised his role of Michael Myers. Brad Dourif reprised his role of Sheriff Lee Brackett (the original incarnation of Brackett, played by Charles Cypher, was named Leigh Brackett).

Sheri Moon Zombie reprised her role of Deborah Myers, Michael's mother. Danielle Harris reprised her role of Annie Brackett.

Octavia Spencer played Nurse Daniels. Margot Kidder played Barbara Collier. Mary Birdsong played Nancy McDonald. Howard Hesseman played Uncle Meat.

Mark Boone Junior -- billed as Mark Boone, Jr. -- played Floyd. Duane Whitaker played Sherman Benny. Jeff Daniel Phillips played Howard / Uncle Seymour Coffins. Daniel Roebuck reprised his role of  "Big Lou" Martini.

Chris Hardwick played David Newman. "Weird Al" Yankovic -- billed as Al Yankovic -- played himself.



Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The EC Archives: Weird Science Volume Two by various authors and artists

(hb; 2007: graphic novel. Foreword by Paul Levitz)

From the back cover

"The second volume of Weird Science features classic stories written by Al Feldstein, and illustrated by such master artists as Wally Wood, Joe Orlando, Jack Kamen, Harvey Kurtzman and Feldstein himself. This stunning collection reprints issues Weird Science #7-12, a total of 24 complete breathtaking EC science fiction stories, originally published in 1951 and 1952."


Review

This graphic novel is a art-nostalgic, wondrous gem of a book. Its space-themed morality tales, which borrow from pulp, horror and Biblical genres, are -- for the most part -- excellent works. There are a few stories whose twists and endings are disappointing, but even they are well-illustrated and entertaining in cheesy/genre-centric ways. It is worth owning.

Followed by The EC Archives: Weird Science Volume Three (by various authors and artists).

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Spike by Arnaud de Borchgrave and Robert Moss

(pb; 1980. First book in the Robert Hockney series.)

From the back cover

"From the jungles of Southeast Asia to the terrorist lairs of Hamburg and Rome, from high society orgies to the discovery of the Russian 'mole' who burrowed his way to he peaks of power in America, The Spike races through international political intrigue with shattering power. . . this. . . thriller unveils the KGB's sinister Directorate A and its 'disinformation' conspiracy -- a Red plot to turn the Western media into an unwitting Communist pawn in the Soviet drive for global supremacy.

"ROBERT HOCKNEY - He's a famous reporter who's covered all the big stories, but this news threatens to ignite the world.

"MICHEL RENARD - He's an ambitious French journalist whose politics -- and lust for money -- sweep him right into the claws of the KGB.

"TESSA TORRANCE - She's a movie star whose radical opinions drive her underground. . . to drugs, terrorism and a new guerrilla identity.

"ASTRID RENARD - She's a beautiful, voluptuous woman -- burning with desire for new clothes and kinky sex."


Review

Spike is a racy, complex and exciting Cold War-era political thriller that spans decades, wars and the globe with multiple characters, whose politics and agendas provide the engine of the storyline.

The authors' writing is excellent for the most part, aside from last hundred pages. At this point, the pace slows and the tale wrap-up begins. It is also at this point that the story runs long and lacks the zing of the writing that precedes it.

I get that the authors are maintaining the realism of Spike by not rushing through the Washington-based proceedings but, given how well they managed the pace and realism of earlier events, it seems that they should have been able -- without much effort -- to match the excellence of the rest of the book.

Spike is still a superb and timely read, one worth owning. Followed by Monimbó.