Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bang Bang Kid

Bang Bang Kid (1967)



The sexy picture on Amazon is a titch misleading, which placed this movie in the also-boughts of a bunch of sex comedies.  This isn't a sex comedy or a comedy at all.  It's an Italian comedy.

I thought it was going to be one of those insufferable silent movie homages, but they just didn't bother with much dialogue for long stretches.  No jokes, no sight gags, just people mugging for the camera for the first twenty minutes.

Then we finally get what we came to see - Happy Days' Tom Bosley and a robot gunslinger in a Spaghetti western.  While I'm glad they didn't completely cop out and have an actor just perform stiffly, I was disappointed the robot was just a guy in a Tom Bosley fright mask instead of a stack of cardboard boxes painted silver.  Mostly I'm disappointed in myself for thinking there was any reason this movie would be entertaining.

But when you find out that Tom Bosley was in a Spaghetti western with a robot gunslinger, you can't not watch it.

Here's the Amazon link, though it currently isn't available.  If you buy something else through the link, you can support our questionable business model of reviewing movies nobody should watch.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dr. Morton's Sinister Experiment 1: Blue Blood

Dr. Morton's Sinister Experiment 1: Blue Blood
by John Ball
Erber Publishing 1974
DR. MORTON - Grusel Krimi Bestseller 1: Blaues Blut (German Edition) by [Ball, John]

Dr. Glenn Morton is a London doctor who treats the poor.  He is also a sadistic mad scientist, aided by his World War II buddy William Grimsby, who's a serial killer on the side.

In the first installment, Dr. Morton has captured an embezzler, Mr. Stone, and is performing experiments on his blood in a secret laboratory under the private clinic where Dr. Morton lives his double life.  The experiments turn the embezzler's skin blue, and he's seen by a patient while trying to escape.

Grimsby gets the urge and has to get himself under control so that Morton can rely on him again.  He hits on a hiker before throwing her off a cliff in a sexual frenzy.  They capture a patient who was a witness to the blue man, adding her as an experimental subject.  Grimsby goes to kill another patient who talked to the first, but is stopped when her boyfriend shows up, but returns to stab her and her visiting Aunt.

Dr. Morton is questioned by Chief Inspector Pratt of Scotland Yard.  The embezzler offers to turn over his fortune if he's released and gives Dr. Morton the combination to his safe.  He's injured in an escape attempt, and as his artificial blood has no coagulant, he bleeds out his blue blood as the doctor and Grimsby mock him with his stolen goods.

Dr. Morton has the reputation as the goriest and most violent of the Gruselromans, but it's still pretty tame stuff, even if the concept is pretty dark.  There have been several villain pulps before this, but those just gave the bad guy top billing, while the stories were focused on the heroes.  Dr. Morton is strictly from the side of the villain, with Scotland Yard barely making an appearance.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Carambola!

Carambola! 1974

Starting with 1967's God Forgives...I Don't, Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill formed a comedy team of a grumpy big guy and agile good looking guy, making mediocre Italian comedies into the 80s.

Starting with 1974's Caramblo!, there was an imitation duo of Paul L. Smith and Michael Coby.  Paul L. Smith is the big beardy guy who looks out of the corner of his eyes a lot in movies like Dune and Crimewave, and is perhaps best known as playing Bluto in the Popeye movie.

Couldn't ask for better casting, given that I thought Bud Spencer was Paul L. Smith before I paid it any attention.

Anyway, Carambola!.  Fake Terrence Hill is pool shark who is blackmailed into catching gun runners, so he tricks Bluto into helping him.  It's not very good or very funny.  The best part is a running gag of fake Bud Spencer being unable to drink milk because he keeps breaking the glass.  Hilarious.

There's also a rip-off of the slap/quick-draw/slap sequences from the Hill/Spencer Trinity movies, only it makes less sense.



Then there's the theme song, which plays about twenty times through the film.  This stupid thing's been running though my head for a month, made worse by my only being able to figure out half the lyrics.



This, along with a zillion other spaghetti westerns, are currently available on Amazon Prime.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Rockabilly Hell by William W. Johnstone



Rockabilly Hell
by William W. Johnstone
1995 Zebra Books


Retired cop Cole Younger joins up with journalist Katti to investigate a series of haunted roadhouses that materialize off the freeways of Arkansas.  The clubs were host to the scum of the Earth for decades, and they now house their damned souls and are linked to the disappearance of hundreds over the years.

Add to that a material conspiracy - former club-goers turned pillars of society led by multi-millionaire Victoria Staples discovered they could lure their enemies to the haunted spots and the ghosts would kill them and dispose of the bodies, forming the basis of a criminal empire.

Said pillars hope to stop Cole and Katti's investigation, while the two join forces with private detectives, FBI agents, and a cussy priest.  Ghosts, in the form of sparkly dots, murder witnesses before they can talk.  Cole figures since ghosts are just made of electricity, he can kill them with a stun gun.  The stun gun zaps parts off the ghost until they comically run around and turn into rotting corpses.

Cole decides that ghosts are not allowed to kill anyone, despite them doing so throughout the novel.  Since the ghosts aren't killing people, they must be just distracting the victims until Victoria's gang can kill them in child snuff porn.  That's just deductive reasoning, but to prove it they order a copy of every snuff film and watch them for clues.

For a while, Johnstone doesn't want to do a ghost story anymore, so we have the FBI halfheartedly investigating Victoria's child snuff angle, which is detailed in some of the nastiest child sex scenes Johnstone has written to date, just to get in the sodomy quotient.  Out of sheer coincidence, two rapists dump two dead teenage girls on Victoria's property for a subplot that goes nowhere.

The investigation, such as it is, grinds to a halt, and the plot founders.  Time to bring in the true villains - the press!  They hear about the haunted roadhouse and hold a barbeque on the side of the road.  Cole and Katti team up with some trusted Republican reporters, presumably because Democrats don't believe in ghosts.

I was expecting the haunted roadhouse (you know, the one the book was supposed to be about) to make a big reappearance and be relevant again for the conclusion.  It doesn't.  What does happen is that it rains urine and hails poop over the reporters.

Meanwhile, back in town, folks are acting funny.  People are less friendly, etc.  We get a condensed version of the Devil books, with all the townspeople who aren't the right kind of Christian raping and slaughtering each other.

Five percent of the book left, just enough time to introduce a contagious zombie plague.  The FBI arrest everyone in the child snuff ring who wasn't killed by zombies, the end.

Far and away the most unfocused of the Johnstone horrors.  It was good to see him try a new premise, but it was clear he had no idea where to go with it.  Of course there's a sequel.

Available in Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Shadow 320 - Reign of Terror

The Shadow 320
Reign of Terror by Maxwell Grant (Bruce Elliott)
July 1948


I've read a few Shadow, each of them a little different vibe.  This is the first I've read which felt like one of the radio shows.  An extortion racket, led by an overweight gourmet, threatens a variety of citizens.  The Shadow tracks them to an underground lair and ends up trapped in a lion cage.  He escapes, in what I'm sure would have been an exciting sequence if it were on-page, and then talks everyone into killing each other.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wu Tang Collection on Amazon Prime

While Netflix lost interest in older movies in favor of original shows with serial harassers, Amazon Prime has more than picked up the slack in terms of exploitation movies.  I've gotten my money's worth in a single weekend checking out their massive collection of Spaghetti Westerns, Italian exploitation, and kung fu movies.

Most of them, almost 500 titles, are from the distributor Wu Tang Collection, and I suspect there are some questionable copyright issues, so watch them while you can.  And if you happen to be subscribing to Prime anyway, if you get it through this link Trash Menace will get a cut to support our questionable life choices.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hellborn by Gary Brandner

Hellborn
by Gary Brandner
1981 Fawcett Gold Medal



A single mom with undefined powers attracts the attention of body-swapping demon Astragoth, who can switch bodies via sex.  Some demon buggery and light incest, otherwise pretty by-the-numbers.

Paperback from Amazon.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Psychical Invasion by Algernon Blackwood



A Psychical Invasion
by Algernon Blackwood
1908


The first of the John Silence psychic/occult investigator stories.  A humorist takes hashish to explore the boundaries of laughter and ends up inviting an evil spirit.  Enter John Silence, psychic investigator.  He spends the night in the humorists house with a cat and dog.  Dogs are afraid of ghosts/psychic emanations, but cats like them.  The dog gets scared, the cat runs around, and at some point Silence hallucinates multiple cats.  He then later discovers that an executed criminal had lived there.  The End.

It's a testament to Blackwood's writing that the piece is so engaging and atmospheric, given that he literally is just watching his pets the entire story.  The whole enterprise had a very 60s psychedelic vibe, with the drugs and vibrations and such.

I just wish something actually happened.  Ghost stories are pretty tame to begin with, and when you swap out the implications of being trapped in a horrid afterlife with psychic vibrations, there's not a lot of scary stuff left.

Read for free on gutenberg.org

Print collection from Amazon

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Night Mask by William W Johnstone

Night Mask
William W Johnstone
1994 Zebra




A California radio station is sending out subliminal messages while the DJs complain about their annoying boss. Meanwhile, the admittedly unimaginatively named serial killer The Ripper is killing women, removing their faces, and storing them in jars.

Two local sheriff detectives, funded by the wealthy father of one of the victims, go cross country researching the killings, using methods of questionable legality.

They don't find much, except that there are a pair of evil twins that everybody hates.  They come back home to another killing, a high priced call girl that counted the station owner as a client.

The owner is arrested based on planted evidence and is gang raped by Black prisoners his first day in lockup.  One would think to blame the sheriff for failing to have a secure jail, or for failing to prosecute the offenders.

But, no, it's the fault of the FCC and the liberal media because you can't say the N word on the radio.  At this point the douchebag station owner is written as a sympathetic character and Johnstone's mouthpiece for all kinds of irrelevant right-wing babbling about the IRS and such.

Not sure the reasoning behind this train of thought.  Maybe that liberals are too PC to arrest black people, which runs counter to reality, as well as beg the question as to how the rapists were in jail in the first place.  I'll be charitable and say Johnstone wasn't so much being racist as complaining about political correctness, which was still a new thing at the time.  You know, that horrible liberal agenda, that if you act like a bigot people will treat you like one.

One would think the incident would teach the value of due process to the detectives.  That the police can make mistakes, and those mistakes can have life altering consequences.  Taking that lesson to heart, the detectives decide to just forget about evidence and just murder whatever Ripper suspect looks good.  Because the Bill of Rights is for pansies.

Johnstone awkwardly gets back on track by having a civil rights protester get raped by the Ripper, instant karma I suppose.

Meanwhile, the detectives hit the gay bars.  While some of the cops are intolerant, our leads are relatively accepting, just as long as they are properly shameful and don't expect to be treated like normal people.

The gang rape has sent the station manager around the bend, and he goes postal in a gay bar while our heroes don't particularly try to stop him.  The scene is played for laughs, because some of them dress like ladies and they touch each others butts, so their mass slaughter is hilarious.

The next development has the station manager's promiscuous daughter and gay son be the masterminds behind recruiting pretty much the whole town's teenage population into a murderous satanic cult.  The police bust them up, but liberalism rears it ugly head again and prevents the police from summarily executing everyone under the age of 18, while Johnstone jumps back on his soapbox complaining how parents don't know how evil their spawn are.

There are some threads that go nowhere regarding subliminal messages being broadcast, but our detectives main strategy is to make up random stuff which sometimes ends up being true.  Those twins that they suspect?  Maybe they were triplets, or had half-siblings, or one got a sex change.  That one DJ is a lesbian, maybe she's related to them for some reason.

While Johnstone fills pages, he presents a parable against liberalism in the form of an obnoxious reporter who shows up every few pages screaming "fascist" at everybody.  She becomes the target of our station manager, now a teen murdering vigilante, and learns the error of her ways when she needs to use a gun to protect herself.

I don't like to criticize the politics of a book, but Johnstone pretty much breaks the fourth wall in places to jump on his soapbox, so he's asking for it.  As far as I can manage to figure out, rich people deserve better access to public services than poor people, and people that complain about this natural order deserve bad things to happen to them.  One should never complain about the police, you should be able to drop N bombs on a pop radio station without social consequences, and everyone should have a gun.  Except for poor people, they're just dumb hillbillies.  And all children should be preemptively smothered in their crib.  If you think your children haven't murdered dozens of people you're living in a fools paradise.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brute by Con Sellers

Brute
by Con Sellers
Novel Books, 1961


"He ripped out the guts of an entire city to find the one hell-hole wehre his lover was being violated!"

Brad Saxon is an ex-football player Korean War vet who returns to Japan to find his one true love, a prostitute he abandoned.  He gets mixed up with crooked military, Japanese secret police, blackmailed Army wives, communist plots, and organized crime.

But mostly he smashed through walls like a bull in a china shop, smacking the crap out of everyone, and sleeping with every woman he can find.  Brute is a rare book from the paperback original era in that it fulfills the promise that the cover evokes.  The story is not far off from what the art suggests.  The sex is plentiful, though shrouded in purple prose, and the violence gets surprisingly brutal towards the end.

This is a good example of tough guy inflation.  Saxon was a tackle and used his experience to bulldoze through thugs, tossing them like rag dolls.  Much is made of his massive 230 pounds - the average tackle today is over 300.

This is my first Con Sellers book, but not my last.  The prose was more literary than it had reason to be while staying pure exploitation.  Now Wildside just needs to release Red Rape - hell, do a whole megapack!


Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bats by William W. Johnstone

Bats
by William W. Johnstone
1993 Zebra Books


Giant killer bats with super-rabies attack Louisiana.  They cling onto faces and eat out eyeballs, and if the victims live they turn into murderous psychotics along with the wild boars that feast on the dead.  We get about twenty pages of that.

The rest is people talking about how serious people should or shouldn't be taking all this.  The police withhold details from the hated press to avoid a panic, then complain when the townspeople don't take steps to protect themselves.  Most of the book is just this back and forth.  Interminably.

The killer bats get killed by regular bats, the end.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hell's Bells - The Dangers of Rock N' Roll

I remember this from Sunday school and being impressed by the range of music:  Foetus, Crass, the Cure, Richard Kern, the Frogs.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Zebra Men's Adventure 1982 - 1991

The Zebra Men's Adventure books of the 70s were more eclectic.  By the 80s, it's strictly Vietnam and post-apocalypse.  I haven't checked, but I'm almost positive no new series started in the 90s.

1982
Gonji by T.C. Rypel
Sub Wars by James Good

1983
Gunships by Jack Hamilton Teed
Ashes by William W. Johnstone
Warlord by Jason Frost
McLeane's Rangers by John Darby
Black Eagles by John Langsing
Seventh Carrier by Peter Albano
Saigon Commando by Jonathan Cain

1984
Depth Force by Irving A. Greenfield
Doomsday Warrior by Ryder Stacy
War Dogs by Nik-Uhernik
The Zone by James Rouch

1985
CADS by John Sievert

1987
Wingman by Mack Maloney
Rig Warrior by William W. Johnstone

1989
Body Smasher by Jan Stacy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Adventures in Horror Vol 1 No 1 October 1970

Adventures in Horror
Vol 1 No 1 October 1970


The longest running of the "Monster Porn" tiles of the 70s.  The prose had a Men's Adventure Magazine vibe - short, semi-confessional first person stories, many with a "as told to" byline.  Some of the stories had a Herschell Gordon Lewis or "Orgy of the Dead" era Ed Wood vibe to them, and indeed Wood wrote some of the stories in later issues.  A few bare breasts in the photos, but not enough for a full on spank rag.

Love is the Color of Blood: Vampire rape.
The Spell of the Witch: The old "witch told me it was a dream so I didn't think I was really killing my professor" trick.
Howl, Wolf, Howl: Attempted werewolf rape.



Gory Terror in the Night: Gang rape torture porn
The Unholy Six: A beach pickup leads to a Satanic mass with a witch who adds her lovers to her obscene carved headboard.
The Naked Slaves of the Master of Hell: Under the guise of a photo session, a sadistic madman lures four models to their doom
Devil of Denham Swamp: A couple take the wrong road, get genital tortured, and doomed to hell

Find it here at archive.org.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Zebra horror through 1991

Below is a comprehensive list of the almost 200 horror novels Zebra Books released through 1991.  Horror continued to be released regularly until Zebra shut down their horror line in 1996, but starting in 1991 horror started started splitting off into Silence of the Lambs knock-offs, Interview with a Vampire copies, and young adult style covers.

A full cover gallery with shop links over at Trash Menace Gallery

1974
Dementia by Keith Parnell

1975
Satan's Daughters by Othello Peters

1977
Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall
The Soul by Ron Gorton

1978
Replica by Lionel Saben
The Ashes of Tamar by Elizabeth Wade

1979
Dracula in Love by John Shirley
Benediction by Joseph P. Furek
There is a Serpent in Eden by Robert Bloch
Long Night by P.B. Gallagher
The Rite by Gregory Douglas

1980
Caly by Sharon Combes
Wild Violets by Ruth Baker Field
The Nest by Gregory Douglas
Cherron by Sharon Combes

1981
Moondeath by Rick Hautala
The Devil's Kiss by William W. Johnstone
Act of Love by Joe R. Lansdale
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood
Great Liquidator by J.V. Grombach
Unholy Smile by Gregory A. Douglas
Death-Coach by J. N. Williamson
Mysteries of the Worm by Robert Bloch
Unholy Goddess by Baker Stein
Halloween II (Novelization) by Jack Martin
The Spawning by Fritzen Ravenswood
Ghost Mansion by J. N. Williamson
Death-Angel by J. N. Williamson
Sweet Revenge by Dick Beaird

1982
The Uninvited by William W. Johnstone
The Unblessed by Paul Richards
The Evil One by J. N. Williamson
The Initiation by William W. Johnstone
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood
Death-School by J. N. Williamson
Moon Lake by Stephen Gresham
Traces by Patricia Wallace
Night Bait by Phillip Straker
The Trident by Joel Hammil
Extraterrestrial by Julian Shock
Horror Mansion by J. N. Williamson
Slice of Life by James Kisner
Wolfsbane by William W. Johnstone
Blood Knot by Bruce Algozin
Moonbog by Rick Hautala
Night Lust by Phillip Straker
Death-Doctor by J. N. Williamson

1983
Devil's Heart by William W. Johnstone
Videodrom by Jack Martin
A Crying Shame by William W. Johnstone
White Noise by R.F. Beaird
The Taint by Patricia Wallace
The Nursery by William W. Johnstone
MaMa by Ruby Jean Jensen
Death Screen by Richard F. Beaird

1984
Rip Tide by Donald D. Cheatham
The Stalker by Claude Teweles
Rockabye Baby by Stephen Gresham
The Devil's Touch by William W. Johnstone

1985
Sweet Dreams by William W. Johnstone
Home Sweet Home by Ruby Jean Jensen
The Children's Ward by Patricia Wallace
Daddy's Little Girl by Daniel Ransom
Half Moon Down by Stephen Gresham
Soul Eater by Dana Brookins
Only Child by Patricia Wallace
Best Friends by Ruby Jean Jensen
Child's Play by Andrew Neiderman

1986
Rockinghorse by William W. Johnstone
Twice Blessed by Patricia Wallace
The Doll by Josh Webster
Dew Claws by Stephen Gresham
Cat's Cradle by William W. Johnstone
Night Stone by Rick Hautala
Wait and See by Ruby Jean Jensen
Toys in the Attic by Daniel Ransom
The Alchemist by Les Whitten
Jack-In-The-Box by William W. Johnstone
Deadly Ernest by Daniel Lynch
Teacher's Pet by Andrew Neiderman
The Shadow Man by Stephen Gresham

1987
Piper by Brett Rutherford and John Robertson
The Dollkeeper by Jack Scaparro
Fertility Rights by Fay N. Zachary
Annabelle by Ruby Jean Jensen
Sight Unseen by Andrew Neiderman
Blood Bath by Linda Stahl Borlik
Midnight Boy by Stephen Gresham
The Devil's Cat by William W. Johnstone
Night Whisper by Patricia Wallace
Cry Wolf by Alan B. Chronister
Shadow Child by Joseph A. Citro
Sleep Tight by Matthew Costello
Baby Grand by William W. Johnstone
The Evil One by J.N. Williamson
Chain Letter by Ruby Jean Jensen
Night Caller by Daniel Ransom
A Killing Frost by Daniel Lynch
Water Baby by Patricia Wallace
Dream House by Christopher Fahy
Toy Cemetary by William W. Johnstone
Witch Child by Elizabeth Lloyd

1988
Smoke by Ruby Jean Jensen
Little Brothers by Rick Hautala
Guardian Angels by Joseph A. Citro
Hocus-Pocus by Jack Scaparro
Blood Sisters by Deborah Sherwood
House of Illusion by Ruby Jean Jensen
Deadly Nature by V. M. Thompson
Grim Reaper by O'Neil de Noux
Abracadabra by Stephen Gresham
Witch Daughter by Elizabeth Lloyd
Sandman by William W. Johnstone
Devil's Moon by William M. Carney
Play Time by Morgan Fields
See No Evil by Patricia Wallace
Ten Little Indians by E. Patrick Murray
The Lost Children by Brett Rutherford
Runaway by Stephen Gresham
Keepers of the Beast by Jack Maclane
Jump Rope by Ruby Jean Jensen
Eternal Bliss by Christopher Fahy
Baby Doll by Marilyn Knight
Night Touch by Stephen Gresham

1989
Goodnight Moom by Jack MacLane
Carnival by William W. Johnstone
Brain Child by Stephen George
Moonwalker by Rick Hautala
Pendulum by Ruby Jean Jensen
Project God by V. M. Thompson
Dark Souls by Barry Porter
Blood Dreams by Jack MacLane
Beasts by Stephen R. George
Demon's Eye by Stephen Gresham
Tree House by Victor Mullen
Deathsong by Jack Scaparro
Spellcaster by J. Edward Ames
Monday's Child by Patricia Wallace
Deadly Harvest by Morgan Fields
Death Stone by Ruby Jean Jensen
Secret Orders by H. Paul Jeffers
Dark Miracle by Stephen R. George
The Manipulator by Dana Brookins
Junkyard by Barry Porter

1990
Vampire Child by Ruby Jean Jensen
Hindsight by Ronald Kelly
Blood Wings by Stephen Gresham
Darksong by Jean Simon
Lullabye by Patricia Wallace
Flesh Stealer by Pauline Dunn
The Lyssa Syndrome by Christopher Fahy
Dark Reunion by Stephen R. George
Children of the Shadows by Don L. Freeman
Lost and Found by Ruby Jean Jensen
Evilway by Ryan O. Moses
Pitfall by Ronald Kelly
Dollies by Pat Graversen
The Devil's Coin by Mark Manley
Poison Pen by James Kisner
Mindscream by R.D. Zimmerman
Shaman Woods by Morgan Fields
Thrill by Patricia Wallace
Demonic Color by Pauline Dunn
Grandma's Little Darling by Stephen R. George
Just Before Dark by Jack MacLane
Victoria by Ruby Jean Jensen
Earthblood by James Kisner

1991
Stones by Pat Graversen
Wild Card by Jean Simon
Hide and Seek by William M. Carney
Grandfather by Anne Joseph
Something Out There by Ronald Kelly
Perfection by Marc Berrenson
The Vampire Memoirs by Traci Briery & Mara McCuniff
Watchers in the Woods by William W. Johnstone
Blood Sabbath by Leigh Clark
The Living Dark by Stephen Gresham
Waltz With Evil by P.D. Rozzi
Little Brother by Bill Eidson
The Forgotten by Stephen R. George
The Crawling Dark by Pauline Dunn
The Burying Point by Ann Brahms
Celia by Ruby Jean Jensen
Faith Killer by Josh Webster
Wind Chimes by R. R. Walter
Cold Whisper by Rick Hautala
The Attic by Jack Scaparro
Dr. O by Glenn Hale
The Quagmire by James Kisner
Vampire Blood by Kathryn Meyer Grifftth
Sweet Revenge by Jean Simon
The Gifted by Jack Caravela
The Night Seasons by J.N. Williamson
Deadly Breed by T.J.Kirby
Baby Dolly by Ruby Jean Jensen
Listen to the Shadows by Joan Hall Hovey
Moon of the Werewolf by Ronald Kelly

More Zebra Horror at Too Much Horror Fiction, Fright.com, and Vault of Evil.

This is the result of looking up over 3500 titles by ISBN number.  Horror made up just over five percent of Zebra's output.  Mostly historical romance, then westerns, with several adult western series.  Men's Adventure will be covered separately.  Compared with the 70s, Zebra stuck to only a few specific subgenres.  The only historical oddities were trivia books and gross humor collections.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Them by William W. Johnstone

Them
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra Books 1992



Alien brains with tentacles land on Earth and communicate with Jake Silver, a nerd who is teased around town and beaten by his ignorant father.  After a few pages of Jake's snide pedantic attitude, I'm rooting for the dad, but we're told early on that Jake is evil, so it's OK.

The leader brain, named Cag, gives Jake telepathic powers, which he uses to have sex with his teacher and wreak revenge on his tormentors.  He makes one masturbate in public while two others sodomize each other in a grocery store (box ticked).  I was thinking there would be more in this direction, but Johnstone loses interest in Jake pretty quick.

Other alien brains take over Earthling brains with unhappy results.  Some humans go a little slow and turn to baser instincts, committing acts of violence and incest.  Others have their brains explode out their eye sockets.

This leads to the best part of the book, as an already deranged town idiot goes on an ax murdering spree.  Those segments may be the most horror novelish of anything Johnstone has produced.

Cag is communicating with Jake's Mom and some scientists and has a mind laser war with the other alien brains.  The last chunk of the book is Cag bemoaning how humanity values sports over intellect, and how he decided humanity doesn't deserve to be conquered.

Over pages and pages of this, it slowly dawned on me that Cag is supposed to be the good guy, and that his exposition is the clearest form of the worldview that runs further in the background of Johnstone's other books.  Cag's plan is to murder half the population of Earth - those that break the slightest rule or don't produce enough.  Everyone left will be reasonable and productive, so there will be an end of conflict.

As long as you can manage a looooot of skimming, the good parts of Them are some of Johnstone's best.  The bad parts (college vocabulary insults and repetitive soap-boxing) are probably the worst.

Available in Kindle ebook from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample

Paperback from AbeBooks

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Devil's Laughter by William W. Johnstone



The Devil's Laughter
by William W. Johnstone
1992 Zebra Books

1824856

Something funny was going on in Louisiana's backwoods, but the devil was the only one laughing.

Less of the same.  People are acting funny in town, nobody's showering, etc.  Our hero, former CIA operative and reporter (?!) Link Donovan is at the center - the Balon family is mentioned but doesn't appear, along with Satan, sodomy, and everything else that made the Devil series sleazy fun.

Donovan takes care of wounded animals at his ranch home and is harassed by violent rednecks who he just guesses are Satanists.  Everything's small scale here - only a couple hundred Satanists instead of the whole town, God and his "mercenary angel" Michael don't show, and Satan is said to barely make an appearance.  We're teased with beasts, but their just an illusion, and the undead only appear in a comedic epilogue.

This one's more action packed than the rest, with Link spending his time tossing grenades and mowing down rednecks in the woods with a MAC-10.  At least Johnstone's action scenes are improving.

There are no evil clowns.

Available in Kindle ebook from Amazon

Click here to read a sample

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Watchers in the Woods by William W. Johnstone

Watchers in the Woods
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra Books, 1991


What the Ashes series did for Libertarianism, Watchers in the Woods does for animal rights.  It's as bad as that.

Johnstone's pantser tendencies are in full effect here.  We start off with five different couples going on a hiking trip after their joint 20 year school reunion.  Good enough set up for a horror novel.  But wait, one of the reunioners is a CIA contract assassin!  Let's go with that for a while.

On a mission that is never made clear, the CIA agent is ordered to the middle of the woods to do something with the Unseen, also called the Sataw and a dozen other names.  These are the same creatures from A Crying Shame, only more vague.  They're homo sapiens, but haven't evolved as much as the rest of humanity.  They've lived in isolation in the American woods, except for the several generations who have integrated into American society.

They are woefully underdescribed.  Some look like humans, some are hairier and have big teeth.  The only one that gets any description is a tribe leader who has a regular human body and full-on wolf's head.  Most are peaceful, but some are cannibalistic, gone mad by water pollution.  If they bite regular people, those people go mad under a full moon.  So we're told, it doesn't come up.

The reunioners go in the woods, fight the Unseen and some neo-nazis, then fight to get back out of the woods.  The plot is a mess, but we eventually get the full force of the US government involved.  Peaceful Unseen are put into camps, violent ones out in society go feral and kill thousands, and people yell at reporters for existing.

More action than horror, but mostly talking.  Lots and lots of talking.  By then end, Johnstone's giving us a monologue about the mistreatment of greyhound dogs.

Not to be confused with The Watcher in the Woods.


Saturday, September 23, 2017

Zebra Books Misc - 1974-1982

There were a lot of titles in genres that were particular to the 70s.

Exploitation / Sexy Tell-Alls / Porn or Hooker Biography


1974

The Joys of Hooking by Virginia Graham (Zebra #1!)
Where have all the Little Girls Gone by M. K. Callie
Lily: The Diary of a French Girl in New York by Sandrine Forge
Society Hooker by Betsy Winston
Martnis, Manhattans, or Me? by Barbara O'Brien
The Wild White Witch by Peter Stafford


The Love Girl by Suzy Green

Diary of a Modern American Girl by Emily Goodman
China Nights by Ralph Shaw

1975

10 1/2 by Marc Stevens


The Whole Bedroom Catalog by Stephen Lewis

Amanda in Spain by Geoffrey Bocca
The Greek Goddess by R.T. Larkin

1976

Amanda in Germany by Geoffrey Bocca


Amanda in France by Geoffrey Bocca aka Commander Amanda

Washington Call Girl - The Original Washington Expose by Rachel Alceim

1977

Making It Big by Diana Clapton and Marc Stevens
Anytime, Anywhere! by Susie Swanson

Unexplained


1974

Intercept UFO by Renato Vesco
Your Practical Guide to Fortune-telling by Rod Davies

1975

The Witches Workbook: The Magick Grimoire of Lady Sheba
Universal Cosmic Mind Power by Samuel Dodson
The Great Pyramid by Warren Smith
The Strange World of Brad Steiger by Brad Steiger
Triangle of the Lost by Warren Smith
Eckankar: The Key to Secret Worlds by Paul Twitchell
Myth and Mystery of Atlantis by Warren Smith
The Opening of an Eye by Alice Lane

1976

Lost Cities of the Ancients Unearthed by Warren Smith
Pyramid Energy and How it Works for You by James Wyckoff
Strange Secrets of Loch Ness by Warren Smith
UFO Trek by Warren Smith
Discover the Riches of Universal Cosmic Mind Power by Samuel Dodson
The Hidden Secrets of the Hollow Earth by Warren Smith

1977

The Secret Origins of Bigfoot by Warren Smith


The Law of Psychic Phenomena by Thomas Hudson

The Law of Psychic Phenomena Volume 2 by Thomas Hudson

JFK Conspiracy


1975

Appointment In Dallas: The Final Solution to the Assassination of JFK by Hugh C. McDonald and Geoffrey Bocca

1977

Coincidence or Conspiracy by Bernard Fensterwald and Michael Ewing

Occult Investigator


1976

Father Hayes by Peter Leslie
The Steeds Of Satan by Peter Leslie

Martial Arts


1976

Bruce Lee's Basic Kung-Fu Training Manual by Claude St. Denise
Bruce Lee's My Martial Arts Training Manual by Claude St. Denise
Bruce Lee's Guide to Savage Street Fighting by Claude St. Denise

True Crime/Prison/Pimp


1976

Dig the Nigger Up - Let's Kill Him Again by Robert Chinn - ghetto/prison memoir
Blood Family by William Zamora - Manson trial juror

1977

The Virginia Ratt by Ratton Hall and Sandy Sidar - pimp/prison memoir



The Black Prince by Anonymous


Disaster

1978
Collision by Spencer Dunmore

1979
Eruption by Paul Patchick

1980
Epidemic! by Larry R. Leichter, M.D.
Avalanche by M Steele & Steve Cohen
The Omni Strain by Cliff Patton, M.D.

1981
Collision Over Toronto Airport by Spencer Dunmore
Drought! by Ralph Hayes
Ghost Rig by Cliff Patton
Shuttle by David C. Onley

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Black Horde by Richard Lewis

Black Horde
aka Devil's Coach-Horse
by Richard Lewis
1979 Signet



Like the best of disaster/animal attack novels, The Black Horde is largely a series of miniature character studies, each punctuated by gruesome death, here by tiny, man-eating beetles.  Lewis is kind enough not to waste page time on following any main characters.  A scientist finally pops up with a way to counter the plague, the end?  Lewis had the guts to kill off scores of children, but chickened out and did so off page.  Signet really jumped on the killer animal bandwagon around this time, with another dozen or so titles advertised.

Paperback from Amazon

Friday, September 15, 2017

You've Got Foetus On Your Breath - Flashback

Speaking of weird Foetus references, this track ends with a rant lifted from Nitro of Marvel Comics, I think from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 55.  I think from the same issue is the line "Thank Heaven for Push Button Phones", which is a track title on the same album.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Darkly the Thunder by William W. Johnstone

Darkly the Thunder
by William W. Johnstone
1990 Zebra Books



"DO BOP DE DO BOP DE DO BOP, DE DO."

The 80's are over, and so is the fun, if this lifeless slog has any indication of the rest of the 90s.

So far the worst things about Johnstone horror novels are disembodied sarcastic voices, endless discussion of cosmic rules that he refuses to explain, and interminable padding of characters repeating things back and forth to each other.  That's all this book is.

The Fury is a neutron star that evolved into pure evil and lives off the souls of the recently departed.  It manifests itself as a disembodied voice that yells racist taunts and sings doo-wop.  The Fury is stuck in the 1950s and doesn't understand modern technology.  It has closed off a Colorado town in a secular re-tread of the well worn path of the Devil novels.

There's a little bit of folks not being friendly anymore and a little public masturbation, but not of the bacchanalia of the Devil books.  Bodies are found torn apart and anyone who tries to leave town is killed by the Fury's psychic force.  Not sure what the Fury's endgame is other than killing people, why he doesn't just kill everybody day one, and what 50's music has to do with anything.

On the side of good we have the Force, which doesn't sound too far off from the Jedi stuff except for its love of vigilante murder.  The Force is embodied by the spirit of a James Dean type named Sand who died decades ago after killing the frat boys who killed his wife.

Sand tells his story via a television set, which is recorded by the town's 10-year-old computer genius.  The Fury also tells his story to a reporter who interviews him for hours.  None of that is shared with the reader.

Pretty earlier on, the President is made aware of the situation and plans a strike with a neutron bomb, while the press and some snake handlers show up in town.  The kid hacker is able to figure out where the Fury is in town by tracing him on the telephone, and Sand communicates via modem until Johnstone forgets this device and has him just be telepathic.

Some good carnage in the beginning, and a quick zombie attack in the middle, but almost nothing happens the entire book.  The townspeople and CIA and the White House plan things and the Fury calls the Sheriff burrito-breath and nothing happens for page upon page.  The only interest is Sand's back story of vigilante justice, which has nothing to do with anything.

The plan is finally revealed and executed.  The President drops a neutron bomb on the town.  They blame aliens because if America knew the truth about the afterlife Las Vegas would close down and the liquor industry would collapse.  The townspeople blow up the entire town to create a smokescreen, because the omniscient Fury can't see through smoke.  They use the cover to run through a portal that Sand creates to teleport to safety.

Epilogue: Everyone gets married and the crater that the bomb made is now filled with all the souls that the Fury had taken over the years.  None of this book makes enough sense to even tell if there are plot holes.  Johnstone gets as preachy here as he does in the Ashes books, only now it's about feeding the homeless and being kind to animals.  Like a damn hippy.

Available in Kindle ebook from Amazon

Click here to read a sample

Monday, September 11, 2017

Le Voyage Extraordinaire

Le Voyage Extraordinaire
Futuroscope
France

Futuroscope is a future-themed park in France focusing on 4D movies, though it was nice to see they had a couple of old-fashioned slides.  There should be more slides in parks.

Le Voyage Extraordinaire is a straight up Sorin' knock off, but queue is amazing.  Escher stairs going nowhere, Stargate portals.  I love areas that have a sense of more going on and places you could have gone.


Friday, September 8, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

ABC 1983 - The ABC Saturday Preview Special

An historical look back this time.  This was when Menudo videos were spliced in between everything.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Carnival by William W. Johnstone

Carnival
by William W. Johnstone
1989 Zebra Books



In the 50s some rich kids rape some girls and carnies get blamed.  The town sets the carnival on fire and covers it up.  The dead carnies make a deal with Satan to return for revenge.  The townfolk either turn evil or mindless, ala the Devil series.

The few who maintain their sanity try to stop the carnival's plan to have the evil townspeople kill each other.  They do this by killing the townspeople.  They didn't really think this one through.

For once, Johnstone actually sticks to his gimmick, and fully half of the story takes place in the carnival as the townsfolk alternate between Stepford Wives banality and crazed cannibalism.  An avenging revenant rises from the grave with the truck his was buried in, and then proceeds to have pages of discussion with law enforcement about what will happen if the cross an invisible barrier surrounding the carnival.  Chills!

Johnstone manages to have a little fun here without getting too bogged down in cosmic rules.  His last book of the 80s.  If you're already sick of Johnstone, now's a good time to hop off.

Available in Kindle from Amazon

Click here for a sample

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Frankenstein's Tower

Frankenstein's Tower
by Jean-Claude Carriere as Benoit Becker
originally 1957 Fleuve Noir
English translation 2016 Grey Tiger



Jean-Claude Carriere is a respected screenwriter and collaborator with Luis Bunel.  He also wrote a series of mediocre Frankenstein continuations.

Frankenstein's Tower is set in 1875.  A disgraced mesmerist turned hobo creeper named Vrollo reanimates and controls Frankenstein' Monster, called Gouroull here.  Gouroll snaps a couple necks and kidnaps the fair maiden Helen.  The creature overcomes Vrollo's influence and kills him, then moves on to menacing Helen.

The townsfolk can't get in the castle where Gourollo is holed up, so they enlist the aid of a Hindu snake charmer to send an army of poisonous snakes in after them.  Sure.

Helen escapes, Gourollo escapes, and we're left with almost 30 pages of epilogue and afterword of a 158 page book.  I wouldn't mind the short page length if it was filled with more monster and less French talkiness.  And if I hadn't paid as much as I had - these are really more suitable for $1.99 ebooks than $11 paperbacks.

I appreciate Frankenstein's monster being evil (or at least amoral) and murderous, as opposed to the sympathetic approach usually given in the 20th Century, but at least in this installment he doesn't get a lot of page time.  This version suffers from either a poor, direct translation, or the fact that the French use way too many words.  Read Donald Glut for a better version of the same concept.

Overpriced paperback from Amazon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cat's Eye by William W. Johnstone

Cat's Eye
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra Books 1989




A sequel to Cat's Cradle, this installment mostly abandons the original premise and brings the story in line with his other Devil books.

A quick recap of that series (Devil's Kiss, Heart, Touch, Cat, Laughter) - Satan periodically picks a random American town and seduces almost all of its inhabitants.  The teenagers start being rude to the elderly, talking back to their parents, having orgies, killing babies, etc.  Then Beasts (stripped down werewolves) and the Undead (stripped down vampires) roam the town, and a hero ordained by God and a small handful of pure souls fight back with machine guns and grenades to a convoluted finish.

We start off with a bodyguard (the son of the hero in the first book, who evidently went through a lot in three years) being hired to protect his author daughter by a rich developer.  Unexpectedly, the rich guy is a conservationist, which is a good thing here.  And the town Sheriff is corrupt and worthless, also a big switch for Johnstone.

Johnstone does not work from an outline, and it shows here.  It shows real bad.  We start off with some bad slapstick.  Animated corpse parts kick people in the butt like an Army of Darkness schtick, and Satan himself catcalls characters with a disembodied voice.

The incoherence becomes an asset as Johnstone picks up steam.  Satan frees some prisoners who go on a raping spree.  Their rape victims become lizard women.  At some point Johnstone tries to shoehorn in a lot of the Satanic Panic nonsense floating around at the time.  There are over 100,000 satanic covens in America, about five times more than Catholic churches.  Almost the entire town is part of a coven, but they hide their heavy metal posters when the police get a search warrant.  It's not really a conspiracy anymore if 90% of the town is part of it.

Parenting advice: If your child listens to hard rock music, kill them and burn the corpse.

The bodyguard and few remaining non-Satanists mow down coven members, living dead, flesh eating maggots, etc, with a cache of grenades and flame throwers, the end.  This is the best book ever.

There is no cat baby.

Available in Kindle from Amazon

Click here to read a sample

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dew Claws by Stephen Gresham

Dew Claws
by Stephen Gresham
1986 Zebra Books



Yep, this one.  I knew going in the story didn't match the cover (although there is a lot of banjo), that the story was more "quiet horror", but I'd go one further and say this isn't a horror novel at all.  More folksy southern fantasy.  Not that it's a bad thing - the story is well written and moves along nicely, but it's completely mispackaged.

Johnny Ray is a swamp boy who is taken up by the owners of a day care after his family disappeared in the swamp, killed by dew claws, some kind of water spirit elemental.  Johnny Ray is possessed by the spirit of the dew claws and spends the book visiting various folk healers: a swamp doctor, swamp witches, snake handlers, and Indian shaman.

There's a good sense of menace but nothing resembling scares, and nobody is more than scratched the whole book.

Used paperback from Amazon