Friday, December 27, 2013

More Werewolf Facts

More werewolf facts from The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman.

  • The thinner the air is, the more dangerous a werewolf.
  • A werewolf only turns into a werewolf on New Years Eve.
  • On New Years Eve, a werewolf can teleport wherever he most wants to go.  Waldo most wants to go to a train men's room.
  • A werewolf can put an aura over things, making them nearly invisible.
  • Werewolves have limited clairvoyance, and can sometimes know what someone is about to say.
  • Werewolves are born werewolves, despite that bit earlier with the orgasms.
  • A werewolf can only be cured with true love.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

C.A.D.S. 01

C.A.D.S. 01
John Sievert
Zebra 1985

Post-nuclear action sci-fi largely in the Survivalist mold.  Set in the near future, a military team in battlesuits and nuclear dune buggies cross America to save the president in his underground bunker.
400 pages is usually way too long for this kind of thing, but lucky for us we get twice as much content instead of padding.  As the story is mostly the CADS team wiping out insane rape gangs, we get twice as many rape gangs.

People turn to barbarism pretty quick in these books, but CADS has to have a new record.  The protagonist's girlfriend stops her car on the freeway to watch the mushroom cloud rise, only to turn around to a hillbilly asking her if city girls indulge in the difficult brown, so to speak.

Good violent pulpy fun.  My only complaint is one doesn't get a good visual sense of what these battlesuits look like.  In some instances they seem like slim exoskeletons, in others bulky full cover mechs.  I kept visualizing them as the soldiers from Cameron Hodge's The Right.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

I'm Gonna Spend My Christmas With a Dalek

I get my Christmas wish - that hollow-faced Teletubby out of the Tardis and off my TV.  Maybe Cryptkeeper Willie will make Dr. Who watchable again.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mysterious Wu Fang 4 - The Case of the Suicide Tomb

Mysterious Wu Fang 4 - The Case of the Suicide Tomb
by Robert J Hogan
Mysterious Wu Fang 12/1935

Wu Fang is a Fu Manchu clone, down to the moustache.  He has an army of seductive femme fatales, mindless henchmen, and maybe a gorilla.  He's bred rat lizard creatures that eat out his victim's stomachs, and he's in Arizona to seek out a white bat that spreads a plague  that turns its victims bones purple and cause them to bash their heads into the nearest wall.

Hogan doesn't do a great job recapping for new readers.  The good guys for the series seem to be newspaper reporter Jerry Hazard and government agent Val Kildare.  Supporting characters include a newsie Cappie and Mohra, the love interest.

It plays out like a Republic serial, down to the cliffhanger between chapters.  Hogan reuses way too many plot elements.  Everybody is saved by having another character walk in at just the right moment, and three of Fang's fatales pretend to ask for help escaping his clutches.

The racism isn't as bad as it could have been, with only a Chinese cook talking all thankee vely solly.  For some reason all the Mexican characters exclaim in French.  What annoyed me more is the warning in the Wildside Press edition, which warn that they may not be
"'politically correct' by current standards"
Most of the recent pulp reprints have a similar warning, but this one seems a little snide.  Like this whole "not calling Asians yellow slant-eyed devils" thing is just some silly passing fad.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman - Chapter One

The Werewolf vs the Vampire Woman
by Arthur M. Scarm (aka Leo Guild)
Guild-Hartford Publishing 1972

Allegedly a novelization of the Paul Naschy film, reads like a third graders school report, after not seeing the movie, and google translated from a foreign language.
"Perhaps I should first tell you what a werewolf is like.  It was never adequately been described even by a werewolf's bride."
Yeah, this is going to be rough.
"The most frightening characteristic of a werewolf is that he is completely unreliable."
Our werewolf, Waldo, is a suave, urbane werewolf, and currently dead of a silver bullet.

Werewolf Fact #1: Werewolves don't bleed, they ooze.

Werewolf Fact #2: If you kill a werewolf with a silver bullet, and then remove the bullet, the werewolf comes back to life.

Just this happens to Waldo, who proceeds to kill a coroner and rape his assistant.

Werewolf Fact #3: Werewolves like beautiful naked women more than non-werewolves.

The assistant, Ruth, then falls for Waldo, as this is an attempt at a sex farce.

Meanwhile in Paris, two female medical students are working on a thesis about the queen of the vampires.  The two students dream about finding her, becoming rich, and finding husbands.

Vampire Fact #1: You can't tell a vampire by their fingerprints.  You tell by their hollow eye teeth.

Waldo was listening in to the students, somehow, and follows them.

Werewolf Fact #4: Werewolves hate vampires.

Waldo pretends to be a tour guide and helps the students dig randomly in a graveyard.  They find a pirate treasure chest and sell the jewels in eleven pawn shops.

Ruth shows up, somehow, and joins the others in digging up graveyards.  But first, they decide to have a party with some doctors and nurses.

The students paid for everyone to have fancy clothes.  The party is crashed by a vampire woman, Blossom Time, who thinks there is a werewolf there.  Blossom Time tries to stab Waldo with a poison needle, but is kicked into the air, and the needle jabs into her own chin.

Vampire Fact #2: Vampires can be poisoned to death, apparently.

Vampire Fact #3: When a vampire dies, a dark red letter "V" appears on their forehead.

Waldo steps away from the party to have sex with the two students, which makes Ruth jealous.

Werewolf Fact #5: Werewolves don't have orgasms because they're made, not born

Waldo and the girls finish the party and go to a hotel.  Ruth is still jealous so she calls the police.

Werewolf Fact #6: Being a werewolf is against the law in most countries.

Waldo chases off the cops, piles the girls up, and has sex with all three at once.  Literally at once, like shish kabobs.  Scarm knows as much about sex and basic anatomy as he does about werewolves and vampires.

Waldo explains that he does not like the vampire queen Wanda because Wanda's great granddaughter once bit him.

Werewolf Fact #7: Werewolves can enter people's dreams

Werewolf Fact #8: Werewolves have a duty to frighten people

One of the girls doubts Waldo is a real werewolf, so he rubs his stomach and made her breasts shrink.

Werewolf Fact #9: Werewolves can make ladies' breast shrink.

The four camp in the woods, and Waldo makes an occult incantation while swinging the woman over the campfire, which make her breasts come back.

Thus ends Chapter One.  The whole mess is available at Ramble House.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Chameleon: The Wrath of Garde

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

Thrones of the Magic Kingdom

There's a lot of debate about the best restroom at Walt Disney World.  Everybody is wrong.  The only bathroom I will ever use is at the Imagination Pavillion.  It's clean, it's secluded, it's almost as empty as its host ride.  It has its own music loop (or to be accurate, hasn't changed loops in a few decades).  And to my knowledge is the only restroom to boast a hostage situation ending in shotgun suicide.

Night Mask

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 a jerk.

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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

TV Horror Anthology - Evil Touch

Evil Touch
Nine Network 1973-4
25 episodes

An Australian production with American leads and Aussie supporting actors.  This is perhaps the most amateurish of all the horror anthologies, with many episodes resembling regional horror movies of the same era.

This could be a good thing, but the unimaginative scripts make most of the episodes worthless.  Several have tame twist endings consisting of "you murdered me and I now I'm a ghost and am going to haunt you.  Boo."  There are rare moments that show bizarre creativity, if only because they were aiming for a cliche and missed so badly they ended up somewhere interesting.

I had high hopes for the series after my first episode, but alas it appears I got lucky and got the best, and weirdest, first:

Operator #5 08 - The Green Death Mists

The Green Death Mists
Operator #5 08
November 1934
Curtis Steele (Frederick C Davis)

"Tonight these Orientals are just so much yellow dynamite - ready to explode"
Oh boy, it's one of those.  The foreign menace of the month for this issue of Operator 5 is basically everyone even remotely Asian, even down to Mexicans due to ancestors coming across the Bering Strait.

The uprising is led by an descendant of Gengis Kahn, Jenghis Dhak.  The sci-fi weapon of the month is a ray that turns oxygen into ozone, suffocating US troops and causing their weapons to malfunction.

Alaska is invaded, and Operator 5 must develop a strategy that will drive them out without delivering America's arms to the enemy.

This one had a bit too much large scale military action, as opposed to the dramatic one-on-one action Operator 5 excels at.  There's at least a little biplane to zeppelin action - air combat was so much better before jet engines.

Interestingly, we have the cliche "Resistance is futile" decades before it appears in sci-fi.  Also ahead of the curve, the Red Finger backup story has Nazis as a villain years before World War II.  Arthur Leo Zagat was an author that knew he got paid by the word, and was obviously typing with his thesaurus open.

Angels From Hell

Angels From Hell
Angel Chronicles 1
by Mick Norman (aka Laurence James)
1973 New English Library

It's future year 197-.  Biker violence has resulting in the erosion of civil liberties and the rise of vigilante gangs.  While set in the future, it's really more of an alternate present - think Clockwork Orange.

Only a handful of bike gangs remain, including the Last Heroes chapter of the Hell's Angels.
An art student turned soldier decides that society needs shaking up, so he decides to join up with his girlfriend.  We're treated to the cliched initiation before fast forwarding several months.

The upstart is challenging the leadership of the group, wanting to bring discipline to make the Last Heroes a money making criminal enterprise, while others in the gang prefer the chaos.

The short novel is basically three set pieces.  A banker has his daughter kidnapped and ransomed off.  It doesn't end well for either of them.

Next, an exploitation film director wants to use the Last Heroes as extras in his upcoming film.  The cast and crew are pretty much all gay because, you know, Hollywood.  The gay male lead makes some passes, while the gay female lead plays the tease.  You can guess how that ends up.

The police are closing in on the Last Heroes, but they strike back in a bloodbath that kills fifty cops.  This makes them folk heroes, and they ride out to join a mythical lost Welsh bike gang.

James Laurence was the editor for New English Library, which produced tons of excellent exploitation.  There's some sex, which is not as graphic as the violence, with heads being tossed around aplenty.

While not incredibly explicit, the novel is definitely nasty in tone.  There are little touches, like mentioning that a cop's wife is having an affair and won't miss him as he's being murdered

You can tell Laurence is having fun with it, and plays around with the form as he goes.  He breaks the fourth wall, stops to go inside the heads of the characters, and uses transcript and screenplay format in places.

The good news is that the Angels series is available on the cheap through Amazon.  The bad news is that, like other fellow NEL products such as Richard Allen's Skinhead series, the OCR and formatting is criminally poor.  Random characters, about a third of the punctuation is missing, and about half the novel is underlined.

EPCOT VIP Lounges - The Living Seas Salon

Living Seas Salon
Pavillion: The Seas With Nemo & Friends
Sponsor: Currently none, United Technologies 1986-1998
Features: Full size window to aquarium, clear grand piano
Entrance: Via an elevator in the Coral Reef Restaurant, to the right of the ride entrance
As seen from outside: n/a, except maybe through the other side of the water

Tour of the Living Seas Salon at Epcot from Carly Morgan on Vimeo.

Currently sponsorless, available for rental.

Much more at

Friday, November 22, 2013

TV Horror Anthology - Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense

Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense
aka Fox Mystery Theater
ITV 1984

One half hour seems to be the preferred length for these types of programs, and even the Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents sometimes struggled when attempting to stretch out to a full hour.  Hammer doubled down and dragged them out to almost seventy minutes, at least three times too long.

Most of the stories had a supernatural theme and an American lead.  Some of the episodes were presented as features in Commander USA's Groovy Movies.

There were no standout episodes, unless you wanted to know who would win in a fight to the death between A-Team's Face and Pink Panther's Cato.

Pulp Hero - Dusty Ayres

Pulp Hero: Dusty Ayres
Dusty Ayres and His Battle Birds 1934-5
by Robert Sidney Bowen
12 issues

While superficially a cash in of the success of G-8 and his Battle Aces, Dusty Ayres, the structure more closely resemble Operator 5.  The series is set in the unspecified future, but could just as easily have been set in the present.  The Black Invaders have taken over Europe and Asia, and at the begin of the series invade Canada with an eye of invading our border. 

They are led by Fire-Eyes, who I picture from his description as basically Bison from Street Fighter.  His top pilot is the Black Hawk, which are actually a cadre of similar looking pilots, with a new one filling the top rank as the old are defeated, something Bowen should have probably kept up his sleeve for a later reveal.

The series follows pilot Dusty Ayres and his state of the art plane the Silver Flash.  Ayres is refreshing as a pulp hero.  Next to the practically-perfect-in-every-way Doc Savage or Operator 5, Ayres is just a pretty good pilot with a lot of spirit.  He's also plagued by insecurities of failing missions and letting America down - not quite at Peter Parker levels, but a nice change from the smug confidence of most other pulp heroes.

And whereas Operator 5 has a letter from the president and everyone in the country will do exactly what he wants, Ayres spends as much time fighting military bureaucracy as much as the Black Invaders.

The plots are formulaic to the extreme, at least in the first three issues I've read.  Ayres follows orders to fly somewhere.  Something goes wrong.  Ayres gains information about the Black Invaders new strategy or weapon.  Ayres is captured, questioned, and escapes with the help of deep cover Agent 10.  Ayres fights to get some general to believe him, and his intel is valuable in repelling an invasion attempt.

The villains and their sci-fi weapons such as mini-tanks and giant poison gas curtains aren't all that particularly out there, but the action is serviceable, and doesn't get as monotonous as I would expect aerial dogfights to be.

The Camp

The Camp
by Guy N Smith
1989 Sphere/Time Warner Paperback

The Camp refers to an all inclusive vacation resort on the coast of England, which is upsetting enough.  For some reason both the resort's management and the British government think that's the best place to test dangerous psychedelics on random vacationers.

The petty, dull holiday makers have complex delusions, such as a new ice age or illegal pregnancies.  There are some complications, so to keep things quiet a government assassin very nosily starts murdering the subjects and everyone around them.

Pretty tame stuff next to giant crabs and onanistic mystics, but that's what happens the further into the 80s we go.

Not much going on, and what there is doesn't make a ton of sense.  Smith wraps up loose ends

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


by Shaun Hutson
Leisure Books 1984

This is more like it.

Experimental animal feed mutates animals in a small English town, turning them into killers.  Likewise to the townspeople that eat the meat.  A farmer and American reporter try to dig up the truth, while the evil chemical plant owner, who for some reason commands the British military, try to contain and cover up the incident.

The book is strongest at the beginning, with regular animal attacks leading up to human atrocities.  It suffers when it tries to have a plot, provide scientific explanations, and draws way too much from I Am Legend and its derivatives.

It's Shaun Hutson.  A quick, fun gorefest.


Chill aka The Sepulchre
Chill 02
by Jory Sherman
1978 Pinnacle

"A psychic investigator discovers a sleeping beauty in a incredible tale of cold terror"
"There was the green slime...
There were the creeping vines...
There was a Louisiana mansion, haunted by a malevolent and vibrating force, more powerful than the inhabitants, whose terrifying history remained buried in eighteenth-century France.
There was a young girl, or virginal beauty, who slept...some called it a that mansion, and in her dreams she was possessed by the demonic ancestors who plagued the house, the land, and the sepulchre.
There was Chill, who had come for a birthday party and stayed to perform an exorcism.
Dr. Russell V. Chilldres (Chill) is a psychic investigator whose special lady, Laura Littlefawn, is a "sensitive."  Their beat is the supernatural.  This is the second of their spell-binding explorations into the realm of psychic phenomena."
The daughter of a TV producer falls into a coma in their Louisiana mansion.  As luck would have it, psychic investigator extraordinaire Russell "Chill" Chilldres just happened to be a guest for their birthday party.  And as thrilling as comas are, it pales in comparison to reading about people speculating about comas.

It might have something to do with her being either possessed by and/or reincarnated as either Oliver Reed or Vanessa Redgrave from the Devils.  Or something to do with a will, or the oil that's running under the property.

But our hero never gets around to figuring it out.  Instead, he spends most of his time describing his vegetarian snacks.  We get a several lines on the this new thing called herbal tea from Celestial Seasonings, and a whole paragraph on cilantro.

Aside from some crawling vines and creeping algae, the only thing that happens in the book is courtesy of Moses, the African-American servant.  Who's written in dialect.  And is ascared of just about everything.  And is greedy, cowardly, and treacherous for good measure.
 "Mistah, you steppin' into somethin' mighty bad here."
Even the characters lose interest in the whole daughter in a coma thing.  The father talks about his career in the television industry, Chill flirts with his secretary.  There was a chance things would get seedy with an incestuous love triangle between a stuffy old man, his drunken wife, and his amorous daughter, but it gets tamely resolved into a cry for attention.  (Sherman wrote two non-fiction books on the subject of incest).

There was so much talking over drinks in the drawing room I was surprised to learn Sherman wasn't British.  He appears to be a beat poet that turned to westerns, with the Chill series in the middle.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


by Ehren M Ehly
1988 Leisure Books

An American steals a bracelet from an Egyptian tomb and is possessed by the spirit of an Egyptian priest.  The first half reads like a werewolf story - the thief blacks out and is only vaguely aware of the horrors that his body has committed.

The second half gets bogged down in elaborate back stories of minor characters.  The home lives of both the mayor of New York and an Egyptian ambassador are explored with no particular reason.  A call girl is killed (off page, mind you), and we're treated to the back story of her madam and her madam's assistant.

A little of this is good writing, but most of the book goes on like this, with most of the killings occurring completely off page.  And it's not as if the book was going for a G rating.  When there is an on page killing, it's all head crushing, genital ripping, and marrow slurping.

There's a bare skeleton of plot to support the murders and tepid backdrop: a Scotland Yard detective is tracking down the killer via his pregnant girlfriend, who had been brutally attacked and raped.  Off page?  You bet.

We get the eating habits and home life of half the police force of New York, but the limey gets in an ounce of action when he helps the girlfriend ditch her police protection to confront her possessed boyfriend.

Why does a detective make a pregnant women run through the streets of New York to face a violent serial killer, who has attacked her once already?  So she can get over him and the detective can make his move.  Yes, the detective (who's near retirement age) wants to hit it with a rape victim in a case he's working on and endangers her life.  Classy.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

EPCOT VIP Lounges - Spaceship Earth

Simens VIP Center (formerly Base21)

Pavillion: Spaceship Earth

Sponsor: Siemens (2005-), AT&T (1984-2003),Bell System (1982-4)

Features: Magic Mirror, a zillion flatscreens

Entrance: Outside by the west exit, door marked Siemens. 

As seen from outside: Windows from the end opposite the entrance, opposite Pin Central and the Fountain of Nations

Much much more from: allears and Disney Everyday.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Water Rites

Water Rites
by Guy N. Smith
1997 Zebra Books

A cult worships a mermaid that will usher in a new, underwater world.  But don't worry if that sounds too exciting - mostly it's about a reservoir inspector not fixing a light bulb. 
"Kate shuddered, the woman was raving mad.  But, when half of your body was like a fish, there was no way you could be normal."

Monday, October 28, 2013

TV Horror Anthology - Thriller (1960)

NBC 1960-62

Hour long series hosted by Boris Karloff at his most charming.  His introductions are an excellent stage for him, allowing him to be manic and over the top without too much self parody.

The episodes were well made and have a certain appeal, but weren't particularly chilling.  Standouts include The Incredible Doktor Markesan and an adaptation of Robert E Howard's Pigeons From Hell.

There was a comic book version that lasted into the 80s, while Thriller didn't even bother the show up for it's own finale, which was an unsold pilot for a crime drama, the Specialists.

See also A Thriller a Day.

History's Gallery of Monsters 5 - William Stewart, the Monster of the Mary Russell

History's Gallery of Monsters 5 - William Stewart, the Monster of the Mary Russell
by John Kobler
Dime Mystery Magazine v17 n01 04/1938

There was a series of historical true crime articles in Dime Mystery Magazine, and if this entry is any indication, they were nastier than the weird menace tales that the periodical was known for.
"the crowbar descended, mashing his nose, jaw, forehead into an obscene horror of splintered bone and flesh."
Oh, dear.
"Wielding his weapon like a medieval battle-axe, he slashed back and forth, breaking Connell's head as though it were a flower-pot." 
Oh, my!
"He flung the crowbar from him and took up an axe. He plunged himself into
a fresh frenzy of slaughter. He was like a mad butcher loosed in a slaughterhouse. He literally chopped the battered flesh around him into small bits until he stood ankle-deep in blood, until brain and bone and fragments of flesh had splattered every inch of floor and ceiling."

The whole issue is available at

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Shadow Warriors 3: Ninja Nightmare

Shadow Warriors 3: Ninja Nightmare
by Joseph Rosenberger
Dell Publishing 1988

We're thrown into the action right from the beginning, as ninja master Scott McKenna botches a hit on some Chicago gang leaders.  He's assisted by a wrongfully fired Chicago cop and a shopkeeper whose family was murdered after he refused to pay protection.  Weirdly, these two are working for pay, while one of the famously altruistic ninja is doing it pro bono.  Evidently ninjas murder people for some kind of vague sense of Buddhist oneness or something, which explains why he isn't bothered with killing a cop and blacking out half of Chicago (causing untold rioting and mayhem) in the process.

This is Rosenberger so let's get ready to ... plan!  In the second failed assassination attempt, McKenna lies in wait hidden amongst roofing insulation for a day before and after the hit.  If this isn't exciting enough, we're taken through every detail of the planning, walkthrough, and execution.

The martial arts sequences aren't quite as silly as the Mace series, though with more mysticism.  McKenna is able to bring his consciousness to a state in which he can see the future, which doesn't seem to enter into things other than to increase his confidence.  He's also able to bring his breathing into a state called "Stroking the Death Bird", which I'm sure is not a euphemism.

This heightened sense of awareness and altered state of consciousness serves McKenna well in the conclusion, in which he dispatches an army of gangsters using the ancient art of lobbing grenades and C4 at everybody until everybody is dead.

The action scenes are serviceable, though perhaps not as manic as some of his other writing.  Only one enemy looked stupid when he died, and there isn't a detailed medical report on every wound dealt out.

Let's see how Rosenberger does with the touchy subject of race relations.  At the very least the lingo is outdated.  Nobody was a jive turkey in 1988, and I doubt any gangster's been named Jelly Roll since World War II.  McKenna's little gang is appropriately multi-racial for the time period, though points off for having to mention every time a new character is "a black".

There is the small matter of McKenna running around in blackface through about half of the novel.  I'm willing to give some allowances.  After all, he is a master of disguise, and he did have a valid tactical reason for the subterfuge.  However, McKenna's almost mystical talents have their limitations:
"you don't sound black.  Your voice is too young, too educated"
 Go stroke your Death Bird, Rosenberger.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Secret 6 - House of Walking Corpses

Secret 6 2
House of Walking Corpses
by Robert J Hogan
Secret 6 11/34

The Secret 6 were six adventurers that banded together to fight crime, known only to each other by their code names.  There's King, the leader, Shakespeare, the actor and makeup expert, Doctor, the scientist, Bishop, a strong fat guy, and Key the lockpick.  Rounding out the Six is Luga, a Zulu chieftain, which would have been progressive for the time if not for the fact that he's a "self-appointed slave" to King, calls him Master, speaks in broken English, etc.

In this adventure the Six run into a dead body, encounter walking corpses, deal with a fake curse, but mostly they deal with petty travel arrangements, like how to refuel a plane and which car the members will take.

A watered down Doc Savage copy, with none of the wit or fun of the original.

Dead End

Dead End
by Guy N. Smith
1996 Zebra Books

Guy N. Smith does Kafka.  Or Jacob's Ladder, or Dark City, or whatever.  There is a portal to hell in a closed city development, and dead souls live out a continuation of their miserable mortal lives.  The rich are corrupt, the poor shiftless, and the vagrant Downers are the lowest of the low, smoking crack and feeding on human flesh.

A driving instructor and his deaf (when Smith remembers it) student sneak into the Ghetto to rescue their departed loved ones.  There is an election in the Ghetto/Waste/Hell between equally corrupt factions, leading to a massacre of Downers and prisoners in the only horrific scenes of the book.  Smith goes for Kafkaesque frustration and befuddlement more than thrills.

Smith sometimes pretends that maybe something else is going on, like a government conspiracy, but no, it's just hell.  He has a bad habit of entertaining an atmosphere of mystery only to reveal that everything is pretty much what he said it was in the first place. 


by Guy N. Smith
1982 Dell Books

Had enough of exorcists yet?  Guy Smith hasn't, and this time we've got one as a main character.  A former Jesuit exorcist has a mid-life crisis after his wife leaves him, and he takes up with a codependent divorcee.  For a lark, they go on a tour of a closed slate mine, because that's what people do for fun in Wales.

Just so happens that the mine is haunted, and the exorcist prepares to drive the spirits out.  He spends some time talking to unfriendly townsfolk to discover the horrible secret of the mine, to learn what dreadful sins were committed that people generations later refuse to talk about.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Dark One

The Dark One
Guy N. Smith
1995 Zebra Books

A middle class family watch the troubled child of their working class friends.  Grisly accidents seem to follow him, later revealed to be the result of satanic rituals.

Set against the backdrop of the Satanic Panic scare that hit England after America grew out of it, the real horrors seem to be the more mundane creepiness that lies implicit behind the page: wife swapping, sexual abuse, puberty.  Unfortunately, these elements weren't exploited.

For those keeping score, another failed exorcism, another adulterous newspaperman, and more looking down one's nose at the despicable poor.

Kindle ebook from Amazon

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

TV Horror Anthology: Ghost Story aka Circle of Fear

Ghost Story
aka Circle of Fear
NBC 1972

William Castle goes back to the well with the modern gothic formula that worked so well in Rosemary's Baby and pretty much nowhere else, including here.  A shame considering the names that were involved: Richard Matheson, Robert Bloch, Harlan Ellison, Jimmy Sangster.  The first thirteen episodes were hosted by Sebastian Cabot as Winston Essex, the owner of the hotel Mansfield House.  Because nothing says terror like one of television's most friendly faces speaking from a pleasant sunny resort.  After the rating didn't improve, Cabot was dropped and the name changed to Circle of Fear, though the stories remained in the realm of the supernatural.

The washed out VHS copies I saw didn't help, but the whole series screams 70s made for TV movie, all hair and earth tones.  The only stand out was Legion of Demons, if only because it had Dr. Moustache Love himself Paul Carr as part of a corporate coven.

Other moments of interest include what may be a prenatal appearance by Sean Astin, and Tab Hunter proving that, despite his camp charm, he could barely talk, much less act.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Death Merchant 43: The Devil's Trashcan

Death Merchant 43: The Devil's Trashcan
by Joseph Rosenberger
1981 Pinnacle Books

To lure out the Nazi organization ODESSA, the Death Merchant Richard Camellion, along with US and West German intelligence agencies, send out a diving expedition to the bottom of Lake Toplitz, where a legendary stash of Nazi documents may have been buried at the end of the war.

I've read reviews about the ridiculous, over the top violence of the Death Merchant series, but maybe I've just had bad luck.  This particular installment had two small action scenes, neither especially memorable or graphic.  What we had instead were lengthy planning sequences, pissing contests over which intelligence agency was more gay, and more planning.  And dive tables.  Because nothing says action like discussing what ratio of oxygen to nitrogen is needed for diving at varying depths for varying length of time.

I know Rosenberger went to all the trouble of going to the library to get these tables, so damn it, he's going to use them.  But nobody cares.  I'm sure actual divers care when they go diving, but it doesn't make for interesting reading.  You're the Death Merchant.  You kill people for a living.  Memorizing dive tables doesn't make you any cooler.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Doc Savage 004 - The Polar Treasure

Doc Savage 004
June 1933
The Polar Treasure
by Lester Dent as Kenneth Robeson

Doc and the gang save the life of a blind musician who's the key to finding a treasure sunken in the polar icecap.  I managed to get this far in the Doc Savage series before running into any particularly nasty racism.  Dent must have been saving it up, because he does not like him some Eskimos.  In addition to being savage and ignorant, a sentence doesn't go by without calling them greasy or smelly.

Things that Doc Savage is the best in the world of in this episode include world's best composer and world's best singing voice.  Also, he can cure blindness and his skin repels water like a duck.

Kindle ebook from Amazon

Friday, October 11, 2013

Satan's Snowdrop

Satan's Snowdrop
Guy N. Smith
1983 Pocket Books

An old stilted house belonging to the Reichenbach family, overlooking the cliffs where Sherlock Holmes met/faked his death, haunts the families of two different men that move the house, first to New York, then England.

There's quite a bit of nastiness in the visions of the tortures that haunt the house's past: piles of limbs, crotches lashed off with whips, etc.  In the "real" world, victims die of accidents or heart failure, including an exorcist and a boy killed by a possessed spacehopper.

As with too much supernatural horror, there is more page length dedicated to figuring out the rules than actual scary stuff.  Does transferring ownership of the house end the curse?  How about the mysterious snowdrop flower, will replanting it put the souls of the dead to rest?  How exactly should it be planted?  This kind of tedium bogs the whole business down.

Kindle ebook from Amazon

Pluto Pact

Pluto Pact
Guy N Smith
Littlehampton Book Services 1982

I'd say this was in the small occult nuclear accident genre, but the only other example I can think of off-hand is Holocaust 2000.

A plutonium processing plant in Scotland is in crisis after accepting too many deposits, and it threatens to blow up England and maybe the world - I'm not sure about the science here.

The plant is opposed by a small town newspaper publisher, and most of the page count is taken up by him cheating on his wife and being a general SOB.

For some reason the leak of nuclear materials causes a couple of men to kill prostitutes (casually referred to as whores by the narrator).  The area is quarantined, and the book's mild horrors come from the resulting rioting and suicides.

Did I mention the warlock's curse?  Well, neither did Smith, hardly, but the area is cursed by a warlock, which aside from a couple of dreams only manifests in the conclusion.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Executioner 362: Patriot Acts

Executioner 362
Patriot Acts
by Douglas P. Wojtowicz
2009 Gold Eagle

Brainwashed assassins of a deep cover pseudo government agency The Rose Initiative slip their programming and team up with militia groups to capture the Initiative's stash of weapons of mass destruction in an effort to start a civil war.

Pretty by-the-numbers.  Mack Bolan beats up people to find a place to shoot people.  The action scenes are decently handled, with just enough gun porn to keep things from becoming too monotonous.  Patriot Acts does suffer from a lack of sense of place.  Too many times characters are just there doing things, with no idea of where they are or how they got there.

Kindle ebook from Amazon

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Attitude, Charisma, Heart

Here's an early match by rising star ACH from four years ago, just his second match for Anarchy Championship Wrestling:

Amazing athleticism, buckets of charisma, though not quite enough to get him through his promos back then.  He had the habit of forgetting the beginning of his sentences before he finished them, so we'd get such gems as "I will be your next U30 Championship Belt", and "This ain't no ballerina!"

His recent matches lack the right vibe.  He's too goofy for ROH, where he was underused in "put all the black guys in tag teams against each other" matches, at least in the show I saw - I don't do ROH.  And he's not goofy enough for Chikara.  ACW was a good Goldilocks zone for him.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Mute, Underemployed Sketch Comedians of the Disney World Pre-Show

Over the last couple of decades, Disney has been using video pre-shows, either as part of a safety spiel or just to break up the long waits.  These videos are populated with actors of various star power, including some from our favorite sketch comedy troupes.  The voice of Kevin McDonald from Kids in the Hall opens Stitch's Great Escape!, while Monty Python's Eric Idle was the ill-conceived focus of the entire Imagination pavillion at Epcot.

Some of our other favorite sketch comedians have a smaller focus, a more narrow stage.  Oh, and no lines of dialogue.

Take Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride.  No, not The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, this is the one in Disney Quest.  From an era when the future of entertainment was envisioned as strapping a thirty pound TV to your face and wagering on whether your neck or eyes give out first.

As far as these things go, Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride was at least functional and moderately entertaining.  The video preshow has a mute John Ennis from Mr. Show nodding and gesticulating as an unseen narrator explains how the ride works, I think from the perspective of a used car salesman or something.  Somehow there is a square inch of Disney World that Martin Smith or PopSong1 haven't covered, so this is the best I could manage:

No dialogue, but at least he's the center of attention.  The State's Ken Marino has worked steadily in bit parts and crappy sitcoms, but there was a good fourteen years until his talents were put to good use again in 2009's Party Down.  In the middle of that, he earned a paycheck milking a background artist role, sitting in the foreground as a sound engineer in the preshow for Rock N Roller Coaster:

...pretending to turn knobs and reacting to everyone else's lines, as if anybody could steal focus from Steve Tyler.  A cast member is supposed to call out something about backstage passes for him to react to, but I love how now it sounds like he's just loving the idea the voices in his head suggest.

After Aerosmith drives away, Tyler flashing the shocker, and the crowds are shuffled off to the next line, I've lingered around to try to catch the video loop, as Ken sits there alone, pretending to mix a song that was recorded over thirty years ago.  He looks lonely, but at least he wasn't in Nearly Departed.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Earworm: Haysi Fantayzee - Shiny Shiny

I know, this one's too short.  You want more ragamuffin British white boy rap from the 80s.  Try this:

No, not enough awkward shifting around in place.  Here:

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life

Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life
Ivan T Sanderson, 1961

There are over 500 pages to Abominable Snowmen: Legend Come to Life, and almost none of it on the abominable snowman, in the sense of the yeti and similar.  Here, Sanderson uses the term to describe all hairy hominids, though he predicts that the term Oh-Mah is on the rise, unlike that ridiculous "bigfoot".

Actual sightings take up a small fraction of the wordage, the rest taken up with geography, botany, theology, and these gems:

"It appears that in certain circumstances human beings may give rise to just such faeces as depicted here. I have information on two such eventualities. The first is of Alaskan Eskimos who go on an almost exclusive diet of whale blubber in lean winters. This causes not just chronic constipation but a major blockage of the lower bowel which may result in retention for many weeks or months.
Then, the family group goes in search of certain willows, the astringent bark of which they strip and eat. This acts as a very violent purgative. As a result of this, they finally manage to eliminate but not without great pain, splitting of the anus, and a great loss of blood. The sorry process was most graphically described to me in a letter from a U.S. Government agent in Alaska.
The other example of this medical obscurity that I have on record is that of what are called in China 'Shensi-Babies.' These are single, enormous, extremely solid faeces, eliminated by confirmed opium eaters, and sometimes by opium smokers, who have gone into prolonged periods of withdrawal due to narcotization; during which evacuation is ignored or actually physically impossible. Resultant faeces, when elimination does occur, are said to be, on occasion, as much as 2 feet long and 4 inches in diameter."
"the yellow-skinned, glabrous Bushmen, with their steatopygy [or fat bottoms], the strange form of the male penis which is often permanently semi-erect, and the odd development of the female labia minora into huge flaps that may fall even to the knees, and which are known as 'Hottentot Aprons' "
Read it free here.

The Spider 006 - Citadel of Hell

The Spider 006
Citadel of Hell
Norvell Page as Grant Stockbrdge
March, 1934

The Spider faces a conspiracy of firebugs that threaten to destroy America's food supply.  Not a lot of detection in this one - the first full half of the book is one extended action sequence as the Spider tries to find clues while evading the police, who are after both the Richard Wentworth and the Spider for murder.  He gets close, gets captured by the police, does something clever to escape, his ruse falls through, gets captured by the police, wash, rinse, repeat.

The scale of the menaces the Spider faces has been steadily increasing as the magazine goes on, and by this issue thousands are killed and the entire nation is starving.

Aside from the manic pace, what stands out is massive car chase involving the police, the gang cars, the Spider in a double decker bus, and an absurd amount of firebombs and explosions.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hawker 1 - Florida Firefight

Hawker: Florida Firefight
Carl Ramm
1984 Dell Publishing

"Demanding justice, he was a one-man SWAT team in a daring raid on an island of death"
"A walking arsenal skilled in every lethal art, he lived outside the law - to battle the forces no law could touch"
"James Hawker was Chicago's most decorated cop...until he gunned down a ruthless terrorist instead of serving him a summons.  That "mistake" cost Hawker his badge and turned him overnight into what some men called America's deadliest vigilante.
Hawker - a man tough as gristle.  Armed with the technology of the electronic age and a white-hate rage for justice, he was a hunter stalking the modern jungle, uncompromising, fearless, determined to turn its predators into his prey."
Hawker is a Chicago police sniper who gets suspended for vague political reasons because he shot a Honduran during a hostage situation after he opened fire on a group of rich teenagers.  He gets a two week suspension, which causes him to quit in a cliched scene Dell Publishing is for some reason so proud of they included it in the preface.
"Hawker, Captain Cheznik says I should be giving you another medal instead of suspending you.  But I don't have much choice.  You didn't play by our rules, so you left all of us wide open to criticism from every bleeding-heart politician and liberal who wants to be quoted in the press."
Hawker is contacted by the Buddhist Texas millionaire father of a boy that was killed, and offers to fund him in a one-man right-wing vigilante death squad.

Hawker is a high-tech vigilante, and has a top of the line 128 K computer, along with a set of discs a hacker gave him that will let him hack into any computer connected to a phone line.

His first assignment is to investigate a small Florida town that is overrun by Colombians.  Of course they're drug dealers, don't even worry about it.  Hawker doesn't, as he murders men in cold blood for the crime of guarding stuff as he inspires the non-Colombian Floridians to raise arms.

There's some non-PC humor attempts when AIDS jokes were acceptable ("I think you have a candidate for AIDS disease here."), but the plot is too cliched and the action too flat.  The few action scenes are practically written out as "He opens the door and shoots the gun and the bad guys fall down dead."  And the final showdown has the line: "It seems I have underestimated you, Mr. James Thornton Hawker," he hissed. "But I assure you it be will be the very last time" with no irony or embarrassment.

The sample pages of the next installment are more fruitful than the entire first book, but this one was too dull to give this series a second read.

Monday, September 16, 2013


Clown sightings in Northampton

While these are likely a combination of pseudo-performance art and internet flash meme whatevers, they are reminiscent of a more sinister rash of clown attacks that plagued Chicago in the early 90s by Homey the Clown...

... in one of the least original urban myths.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

They Call Me the Mercenary 2: The Slaughter Run

They Call Me the Mercenary 2: The Slaughter Run
Axel Kilgore (aka Jerry Ahern)
Zebra Books 1980

"Assassination in the Swiss Alps...terrorism in the Central Americana jungle...treachery in Washington...and Hank Frost right in the middle! The wise-cracking mercenary captain is up to his eyepatch in brutal violence, torture, and betrayal. There's the presidential bodyguard force he'd be a fool to trust; the fighting right-wing general whose republic is aflame with revolt; his seductive wife who'll have Frost as her lover—or have Frost dead; and the Communist Terrorist Army that's out for a final bloodbath!"
Hank Frost is the mercenary that they call the mercenary. The second volume opens straight into the action with Frost fleeing from assassins in the Swiss Alps. From there he's coerced by the State Department to protect the military dictator of the fictional Central American country of Monte Azul. The dictator is one of the good guys.

Monte Azul is overrun by communist terrorists, and the US won't give them arms unless they restore civil rights. This is a bad thing. Frost protects the dictator because he believes he is necessary in the fight against international communism. He also has strong feelings of personal loyalty to the man, going so far as to say he may love him, in a totally not gay way. He expresses this devotion by banging the dictator's wife and young daughter, giving him a heart attack. This is what the good guy does.

Frost protects the dictator as he goes around dictating, and does a horrible job trying to make us believe that he's a good guy at heart. In one scene he is shocked to find that the children of a village are starving, and that his close friend and military underling has not been distributing supplies. Imagine that, in a military junta with no accountability. The dictator swiftly creates a civil buearcracy to handle the job with a system of checks and balances and begins the process of free elections.

Of course not. He executes the traitors without trial and the children are promptly forgotten about. Remember, we are somehow supposed to like this man and not sympathize with the rebels who are trying to overthrow him.

Pretty soon the inevitable happens and Frost is forced to flee the country with the dictator, all of his family members that he's porking, and members of the US embassy. The second half of the book is a chase across the country in an antique steam train. There is a brief detour involving big corporations who want world peace at any price, that price being handing Mexico over to Russia and having homosexuals touch Frost's testicles. It's really not as weird or cool as it sounds, and just seems to be shoe-horned in to give us a reason to dislike the government beuracrats who otherwise seem completely reasonable.

This is a Jerry Ahern book, his second as far as I can tell. Solid, well written action that never really pushes the WTF barrier enough to be really fruitful. The characterizations are more blah here than in the Defender or Survivalist series, with the closest thing to a personality being that Frost makes jokes about his eyepatch. Jerry Ahern is a man who writes entire books about handgun holsters. He is not known for his wit, and Frost's quips regularly fall flat.

The dedication is to Death Merchant author Joseph Rosenberger. "The Professor's Been Paid, My Friend"