Thursday, October 18, 2018

Things I Didn't Finish: The Strange and the Unknown

The Strange and the Unknown
Fate Magazine
Paperback Library, 1965

I grew up devouring unexplained phenomena books from the 60s to 80s - not particularly believing it but wishing it was true, and at least entertained by the reading.  These tales are so dull they probably are true.

We open up with a defensive screed against mainstream science, the corrupt industry that famously makes billions of dollars by not ever discovering anything new.

A book falls off a shelf.  Is it a poltergeist or a banshee?

A man dreams about something other than his wife.  Weeks later he dies.  Explain that, science!

I've become considerably less tolerant of pseudo-science since I stopped being an idiot child, but there's not even enough here to bother scoffing at.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tie-Ins: Blair Witch

I'm a bit lukewarm to the actual films, but I appreciated the expanded mythology around the series from the "documentaries" and website.  There are no straight novelizations, but there are two fictional non-fictional companions written by D.A. Stern:

1999: The Blair Witch Project: A Dossier

2000: Blair Witch: Book of Shadows

D.A. Stern also wrote two tie-in novels about cases in the mythology's past:

2000: The Secret Confession of Rustin Parr

2000: Graveyard Shift

There was a young adult series by Cade Merrill that followed the cousin of the first film's lead:

The Witch's Daughter
The Dark Room
The Drowning Ghost
Blood Nightmare
The Death Card
The Prisoner
The Night Shifters
The Obsession

Sunday, October 14, 2018

TM Gallery: Action Paperbacks

Able Team 36: Final Run by Dick Stivers
Paperback from AbeBooks

Hit 29 by Joey the Hitman
In the fall of 1969, a public execution in an Italian restaurant in Brooklyn earned Joey a mention in the New York Daily News and a twenty-grand payout from the mob. On the surface, his next job seemed just as routine: The bosses suspected their trusted numbers controller, Joe Squillante, was skimming the nightly bets to settle personal debts. Joey gave Squillante two weeks to live.

But there was one problem: Squillante once had a hit out on Joey too. No clueless patsy, #29 was an unpredictable bull’s-eye, and the contract holder was a dangerous mobster with a personal grudge against Joey. Taking the job meant entering into a game of predator and prey as nerve-racking as the cock of a .38 hammer.

From first tail to all-night stakeouts to the intricate planning of the final confrontation, this is the shockingly detailed first-person account of a professional hit. Full of twists, turns, and double crosses, Hit #29 “tells it like it is” and delivers an unforgettable insider’s view of the mob 
Kindle ebook from Amazon

Edge 25: Violence Trail by George Gilman
Edge begins an incredible trip to the Mexican border in a wagon carrying a dying man, his beautiful daughter and angry son. There are just a few obstacles: their path through the wilderness is in a collision course with the Shoshone nation. If warring Indians weren't enough there is one other problem: they’re riding in a wagon containing a fortune in gold. Though well camouflaged it soon lures the violent and greedy from both sides of the border. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Chamber of Horrors

Chamber of Horrors (1966)

A madman forces a priest to complete a wedding ceremony with a corpse, then goes into hiding at a brothel where he orders women to lie very still - more explicit  shades of necrophilia here than the hints in the Poe based film this draws from.

To escape police custody, the madman chops his hand off with a hatchet.  Underwater.  He then seeks revenge, using different deadly accessories on his stump.  Amateur detectives associated with a wax museum investigate.

Originally a pilot film for TV series, it was padded out to be released theatrically.  It has William Castle style gimmicks, such as the Fear Flasher and Horror Horn to warn of impending implied off-screen violence.

TM Gallery: Gruselroman

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Crime and the Psychic World by Fred Archer

Crime and the Psychic World
by Fred Archer
William Morrow 1969

Say "Murder Most Foul" and the instant response is "Jack the Ripper!"

I would have thought of Macbeth seeing how it's Macbeth, but Archer spends the first paragraph of his book defending the assertion.  The perfect introduction to the writing style of Fred Archer.  Rambling, anecdotal, impenetrable attempts at wit, name-dropping obscure figures, and I guess a little psychic stuff.

Most claims of psychic skill demonstrate the uncanny ability to predict things after they happen, but Archer's psychics can't even manage that.  In the first two cases, involving Jack the Ripper and the Brighton Trunk Murders, the psychics claim facts shown by Archer to be wrong, and each case remains unsolved.

Most of the cases are even more vague than that, and Archer's rambling style doesn't help.  Several times I had to go back a few paragraphs to try and match the psychic phenomena to the outcome of a criminal case, and it still didn't make it any clearer.

Happily, there was very little of the full-time con artists that manipulate grieving families.  Most of the stories involved mediums or prophetic dreams.  The whole affair seemed horribly outdated even by the 60s.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille

Story of the Eye
by Georges Bataille

Bataille was a French intellectual and philospher, influential to the school of poststructuralism.  Story of the Eye is a rambling porn of two teens doing increasingly nasty sex stuff.  No fancy French philosophy, just peeing and fapping and screwing.

Two teens fool around, involving another teen girl who goes insane and is institutionalized.  They break into the asylum, do more sex stuff, and drive her to suicide.  The couple go to Spain where they get horny on bullfighting and hook up with a sugar daddy.  They bang a priest to death and sail off into the distance, the end.

It's pure nastiness with no philosophical message beyond maybe "screw your morality".  It's as philosophical as GG Allin.  This doesn't stop eggheads from declaring it's not porn and worthy of deep critical analysis, because there's a central theme of soft round stuff, from eggs to bull testicles to eyeballs.

Let me put some patches on my tweed jacket, grow out a goatee, and light my pipe.  Yes.  Yes, those things are similar, and are all in the story.  Mostly as ben wa balls.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

TV Obscura: Masquerade

Kirstie Alley and My Second Dad B.J. star in this "Mission Impossible meets Love Boat" series, the fourth time this concept was attempted.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tie Ins: Amityville Horror

The Amityville Horror franchise is based on the alleged haunting experienced by the Lutz famiy, and the real life murder of the previous tenants by Ronald Defeo Jr.  We begin with:

1977: The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson (presented as non-fiction, filmed in 1979)

There are a few branches off this tree, as books become movies with sequels with novelizations and book sequels have movie made from them.  I'm only going through the early 90s with this one - since you can't copyright a town's name, there's been a glut of self published books (some by sequel writer John G. Jones) and indie horror films over the last couple decades.

1982: The Amityville Horror Part II  by John G. Jones (presented as non-fiction)
1985: Amityville: The Final Chapter  by John G. Jones (still "based on" but with even less connection to the Lutz' account)
1985: Amityville Horror: Untold Stories by John G. Jones
1988: Amityville: The Evil Escapes by John G. Jones (presented as fiction. TV movie made in 1989 and Direct to Video movie Amityville 1992: It's About Time released in 1992)
1989: Amityville: The Horror Returns by John G. Jones
1991: Amityville: The Nightmare Continues by Robin Karl

A separate branch of books written by Hans Holzer concentrated on Ronald Defeo Jr.

1979: Murder in Amityville (re-released as Amityville: Fact or Fiction?; filmed as Amityville II: The Possession)
1981: The Amityville Curse (filmed in 1990)
1985: The Secret of Amityville

And the only novelization of a film:

1984: Amityville 3-D by Gordon McGill

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

TV Obscura: Blue Thunder

The TV series of the movie that got beat by Airwolf, the knock-off TV series of the movie.  With Dana Carvey, Dick Butkus, and Bubba Smith.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tie-ins: Timecop

I watched a local premier of Pulp Fiction, and ended up sitting directly behind Quentin Tarantino and Richard Linklater.  I was excited about film in general, and this was shaping up to be the high of my movie going life.

Then the movie started.  Quentin promptly fell asleep, and I almost joined him.  Around hour four I thought to myself, what was the last movie I saw before this?  Timecop.  I wouldn't put Timecop in the top ten of Van Damme movies, and I'd struggle to name another nine.  It was still better than Pulp Fiction.  I was never bored and staring at the exit sign at Timecop.

While not the greatest, I did appreciate the little butterfly effect touches.  Every time Timecop came back to the present, little things would be different all over.  I guess the concept had legs.  The film was based on a comic, and there was a TV series based on the film, and a series of novels based on the series.

The series was written by Dan Parkinson and have neither Van Damme nor Ron Silver.  I haven't seen anything Timecop since the original airing.  I have seen Pulp Fiction, and my opinion has only gotten worse.

1994: Timecop by Steve Perry - novelization of the film

1998: Viper's Spawn by Dan Parkinson

1998: The Scavenger by Dan Parkinson

1999: Blood Ties by Dan Parkinson

Saturday, September 22, 2018

TM Gallery: Action Paperbacks

Phoenix Force 32: Fair Game by Gar Wilson
Political extremism runs rampant in Spain, unleashing a savage tidal wave of death and destruction. But when sixty innocents, including the family of a U.S. senator, are brutally massacred in the terrorist ambush of a tourist train, Phoenix Force is dispatched to Madrid on a mission of bloody retribution. Their "intrusion" greeted with hostile resentment by Spanish Security, the Force must dodge killing fire from both sides of the law- from a ruthless foe in front of them, and from vicious "allies" at their backs. 

The Executioner 276: Leviathan
When Mack Bolan goes undercover to destroy an offshore drilling rig that is being used as a narcotics manufacturing plant financed by corrupt CIA agents and the Mafia, the rig is attacked by otherworldly creatures who have a deadly mission of their own. 
Paperback from AbeBooks

Man on Fire by Bruce Douglas Reeves

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

TV Obscura: Shaping Up

With Leslie Neilsen, Jennifer Tilly, and Jake "Body by Jake" Jake.

TM Gallery: Movie Posters

Friday the 13th: The Orphan
A disturbed young man is plagued by horrific headaches that he believes make him commit murders. 

A mandroid (part man and part machine) seeks revenge on the evil scientist who created him. Enlisting the help of a beautiful woman and a mysterious ninja, he pursues the scientist in hopes of stopping him before he can further harm humanity.

Womens Prison Massacre
Emanuelle, a reporter, comes just a little too close to exposing a corrupt official, and is sent to prison on trumped-up charges. In the prison, the inmates are constantly humiliated and tortured by the prison staff. Overly affectionate prisoners are forced underwater, while others are obliged to look on. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

TM Gallery: Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks

How Like a God by Rex Stout
A brilliant novel about a sexual psychotic - his strange marriage, abnormal obsessions and dark desires 

Gang Girls by Jan Hudson
The horrible truth behind our teenage love gangs and their secret sex rites! . They came from the slums of depravity - young girls - unwanted, unloved - and they banded together because society was against them . Orgies were common, Lesbianism just another kick, rape a child's sport, until one man was able to prove truth - the hard way. 

Lustful Acts by Phillipe Durer
Until tonight with you, I lusted only for women. You've changed all that, and you shall profit from this change. But you must let me follow my need for women without showing any resentment. 

Friday, September 14, 2018

TM Gallery: Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks

Killer Dyke by Helen Morgan
Paperback from AbeBooks

Coed Camp by John Romero

The Divorcee by Ralph C. O’Hara MD
A Frank Survey of the Emotional Problems of Women Who Have Shed Their Husbands Via Divorce

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Scarred for Life: Tomorrow People

Tomorrow People
68 episodes
1973-1979 ITV

I want to like this show, a psychedelic 70s X-Men/Doctor Who hybrid knockoff, but the acting is just so, so bad, and for some reason the poor effects aren't even campy fun.  This managed to have two reboots, the latest in 2013.

Follow along with Scarred for Life Volume One available in ebook from Lulu.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Tie-Ins: The Crow

Gothic Death Wish franchise The Crow started as a 1989 comic which was cool mainly just for having Joy Division quotes.  The movie inspired bad Halloween costumes for years and literally murdered star Brandon Lee, who managed to survive Laser Mission.  I rewatched the movie recently and thought it didn't hold up, until I remembered how much I hated it 25 years ago, and if anything my opinion on it has improved.  Except for Lee, he needed to spend more time kicking and less brooding like a sad clown.

The movies continued with increasingly bizarre casting, and a TV series continued the tradition of on-set fatal accidents.

The film was written by two 80s horror novelists, John Shirley and David J. Schow, and several other 90s favorites continued a series of novels, each of which has a different protagonist.

1994: Die Krahe by Kenneth Roycroft - German only

1996: City of Angels by Chet Williamson - novelization of the film

1998: Quoth the Crow by David Bischoff

1998: The Lazarus Heart by Poppy Z. Brite

1998: Clash by Night by Chet Williamson

1998: A Murder of Crows: Omnibus of last three titles above

1999: Temple of Night by S. P. Somtow

1999: The Crow: Shattered Lives & Broken Dreams - anthology with the likes of Iggy Pop and Henry Rollins.  Peak 90s.

2000: Wicked Prayer by Norman Partridge - the first time I've noticed this, the movie was based on the tie-in novel

2001: Hellbound by A. A. Attanasio