Wednesday, April 30, 2014

TV Horror Anthology - Fear Itself

Fear Itself
2008 NBC
13 episodes (8 aired)

NBC's copy of Masters of Horror, canceled after eight episodes.  There are a few names here: Ronnie Yu, John Landis, Stuart Gordon.  The only thing memorable is Peggy from Mad Men as a goth Sheriff's deputy and, sadly, the godawful theme song.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Things I Didn't Finish - The Amityville Mid-Life Crisis

My Amityville Horror, 2012

Daniel Lutz was one of the real life kids living in the real house of the fake Amityville Horror.  He's all grown up and he has some issues.

The Amityville Horror involves layers of embellishment added by writers and Hollywood, so I was interested in the take of one of the surviving principles, especially one that didn't have a financial interest in it.  I got just far enough to not trust a word this guy says.

Clip 1 - Daniel is at his therapist, who he promptly interrupts to let everyone know he has control issues and needs to be the center of attention.

Clip 2 - You're going to put in me playing guitar, right?  I bet a lot of industry people are going to see this!


From some quick reviews it looks like I made the right decision.  Lots more arguing with the therapist, lots more guitar, and more ridiculous claims, like something about his dad having telekinetic powers or something.  This might have some interest as one of those mean spirited documentaries that follow around some human train wreck, like Grizzly Man or Grey Gardens, but I don't think this was the angle they were going for.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Inside the Mouse: Work and Play at Disney World

Inside the Mouse: Work and Play at Disney World
The Project on Disney
1995 Duke University Press

or "I Did Not Enjoy my Trip to Disney That My Spouse Made Me Go On, and I Have a Liberal Arts Degree"

Marketed as some kind of behind the scenes expose of Disney World, this sad piece of claptrap represents the worst of academic wankery.  A series of jargon laden essays despising Disney out of sheer hatred for the concept of entertainment, mixed with some long discredited urban myths and a disregard for facts or actual research.  Some talking points:

It's artificial.  That's not a real giant mouse in a tuxedo.

Oh No!
There is a profit motive.

How Can It Be?
The people that work there may be smiling but might not always be happy to be at work

There was only one essay that sounded like the author actually interviewed a few cast members.  Here we get the shocking revelation that gay people work at Disney.

Here's a freebie for you humanities majors out there: How to do a Marxist analysis of any form of culture, art, or entertainment.  It's all propaganda.  If it's not celebrating the worker's struggle or about a collective beet farm, it's spectacle, which is just a capitalist ploy to distract the underclass from revolution.  Add a few 50 cent words in there and you can write a hundred essays without doing a scrap of actual research.  "Pre-Post Colonialism of the Ace Ventura oeuvre", "Pan-Neo-Feminism of Fraggle Rock"- I swear I've heard the same lecture from a dozen professors.

To paraphrase an oft misquoted Nazi, when I hear the word Other, I reach for my revolver.  One essay talks about how American cast members at Disney are confronted with the Othernessity of the Other in the form of foreign guests, and overwhelmed with the Otherosity of Otherhood, and plagued with the vocabulary of undergrads at best, they collectively chose to call the Other "Brazilians", a nationality chosen at random from the ether, to refer to the Otherarianity of-

No, they're f'ing Brazilians.  People from Brazil.  They're all over the place.  They speak Portuguese and have football jerseys with the word "Brasil" on them.  But why let facts get in the way of your brilliant thesis?

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Goonies 'R' Good Enough

From back in the days when music videos had premieres and fifteen seconds of song could stretch out over two parts and twelve minutes.  We've got the Goonies, WWE wrestlers, Cyndi Lauper and her weird Jersey/Betty Boop thing, a Spielberg cameo, and for some reason, the Bangles.  Lauper hates this song and hated making this video.  Roddy Piper's performance gets more inexplicable the more I watch it.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Phantom Detective 102 - The Thousand Islands Murders

The Thousand Islands Murders
by Robert Wallace (Laurence Donovan)
Phantom Detective #102 8/1941

Phantom Detective The Thousand Islands Murders

The Phantom inflitrates a mystery island where all the residents have the last name of Smith, looking for a missing person and the secret of the Devil's Fire, a fireball that completely incinerates its victims.

According to the introduction by Will Murray, this was one of the stories that moved the Phantom towards a more Doc Savage style of pulp hero, but there's still more detection than action here.  The first two thirds or so have the standard sneaking around in disguise, being captured, escaping, being rescued, etc, from the more action oriented pulps.

I wasn't in the right frame of mind to deal with the last part, which was some kind of long, drawn out reveal of a not-very-fair play mystery.  It's like we get the reveal, then the clues, and then we're told what the mystery was in the first place.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Earworm - My Girl by the Recess Monkeys

Rick Moranis should do more singing.  One of the few times that a comedy cover is better musically than the original, which is below.  WARNING: Candian Content

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Phantom Detective

The Phantom Detective

The Phantom Detective was the second pulp hero, the first to come in the wake of the Shadow and just barely beating out Doc Savage.  It's one of the most numerous in installments (170 issues) and the longest lasting (1933-53).  He was written by a variety of authors under the house names G. Wayman Jones and Robert Wallace.

The Phantom, as he was called in the text, is Richard Curtis Van Loan, a wealthy playboy who trained his body and mind to be a world famous detective when he couldn't return to his idle life after World War One.  He's an expert in disguise, ventriloquy, forensics, and escape.  He has the unerring ability to detect if someone is lying, except for all the times that he doesn't.  He carries a miniature disguise kit, has a badge to prove his identity to law enforcement, and the authorities use a rooftop spotlight to contact him.  He's depicted on the cover in a domino mask, tuxedo, and top hat, but he spends most of his adventures in disguise.

A bit tamer than the Shadow or Doc Savage, but more flavorful than the usual amateur detective.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Seed of Evil by EdmundPlante

Seed of Evil
by Edmund Plante
1988 Dorchester Publishing

Seed of Evil by Edmund Laplante

A lonely single mother seeks company from men at a local bar.  She is brutally raped, which results in a son.  Her invalid mother blames her for the attack, and she can't quite find her own love for the child.  As a toddler the child is kidnapped, and she finds herself horrified and relieved in equal parts.

Years later the child resurfaces, and recounts living in a state of constant sexual abuse by his father while living in abandoned houses.  The mother still can't quite offer him the mother's love he needs, and fears for her other children, while the child is torn between needing his mother's approval and following the path of his father.

This would be a pretty effective drama or thriller, in equal parts emotional and exploitative.  Making the rapist a tree demon and the son a telekinetic waters the whole thing down.

You know the rule about not saying "It's like something out of a bad movie" in the middle of your bad movie?  The same goes for horror novels.  Plante drops a similar line at least five times, twice name dropping Stephen King and even mentioning Carrie.  Not only does this destroy any suspension of disbelief, if you want to stop in the middle of your horror paperback to ask the reader "This is like Stephen King, isn't it?", you're not going to like the answer.

Monday, April 21, 2014

EPCOT VIP Lounges - American Adventure Parlor

American Adventure Parlor aka Chase Lounge
Pavillion: The American Adventure
Sponsor: Chase (see below); Coca Cola 1982-1998; American Express 1982-2002
Features: Chairs, soda
Entrance: To the right of the main entrance, two adjacent doors (elevator and stairs)
As seen from outside: The balcony windows behind the main signage

Chase sponsors the lounge via their sponsorship of the International Food and Wine Festival, beginning in 2013.  Prior to that I don't know if the lounge was for Coca Cola or American Express (or both or neither) as they had overlapping sponsorships.

The rest of the year it is available to rent for special events.  One can also rent the rotunda of the American Adventure attraction.

More pictures at Allears and Disney Everyday.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Submission Squad vs Gary Jay & ACH

It's nice to see these guys change their style for a kid's show.  No Shadow Kick at 6:48, running wall flip in the turnbuckle at 11:26.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Red Menace 1 - Red and Buried by James Mullaney

Red and Buried
The Red Menace #1
by James Mullaney
2011, Self Published

Red and Buried is one of those books where you're better off not thinking of the various genres that it resembles, as it doesn't quite fit the style of any of them and stands better on it's own merits.  The Red Menace is a masked secret agent from the 1950s, armed with a shadowy cloak and gloves with paralyzing chemicals.  The story is set in 1972, and the now retired Red Menace is called back into action with the cranky Dr. Wainwright to investigate suspicious missile silos in Cuba.

The masked hero elements don't really fit the style of heroes like the Shadow or the Spider, and the 70s action parts don't really fit Men's Adventure.  It's superficially similar to the Watchman or Earth-2 in 1970s DC comics with the retired hero bit, but the story is way more realistic.  It resembles a lot of things that it isn't, and the story is more enjoyable read on its own terms.

Having said that, I now wish it was the post-modern pulp/Men's Adventure/comic pastiche I was expecting.  Instead, we have a passable, relatively low-key espionage novel, like a calmed down James Bond.  The only over the top elements are the invective against communism, which I think was supposed to be witty, and a couple of history changing events.

It is nice to see established authors putting out competent works on their own.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Victim City Stories 2 on sale for $1.99

Through this Saturday, Victim City Stories 2 is a Kindle Countdown deal, now at $1.99.

Pimps vs Farmboys, with the Bleeding Skull in the middle!

Bikers vs Militiamen, and the Murder Man pulls the strings!

Lost lovers look for lust in all the wrong places.

In this teeth grinding installment you’ll uncover

The procurers of Victim City have sunk to a new low, but they will learn that man can be the most debased of the beasts. Though beaten and in chains, they will find out that Every Dog Has His Day, Vengeance is the Bleeding Skull's.

Stan and Lisa are taking a vacation from their marriage, from their inhibitions, from their decency. But they can't get away from themselves, or their Suburban Shame.

Shamed Witness: Club Bounty - Terror on wheels is rolling through Victors Crossing, and the Murder Man, George Murdam, has a contract to put on the brakes.

38,000 sweat-drenched words of modern pulp crime, sex, and horror. On sale this week

Real Evil - The Handcuff Man

Real Evil - The Handcuff Man

Serial killers get all the attention, but there are other strange serial criminals worth a look at.  Like serial groin arsonist the Handcuff Man.

From around 1968 to 1991, the Handcuff Man approached male prostitutes and hustlers and offered to pay them to take a drink, often saying it was part of a medical study.  The drinks were drugged, and the victims would wake up handcuffed with their laps on fire.  The total number victims is unknown, as he targeted a population afraid to go to the police.

More info at the excellent Crime Library.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The evolution of Radar

First he was Radar in MASH.

Then he showed his stuff on the 70s game show circuit

Then he directed himself as a gay drug dealing serial killer in Small Kill

Now he's spreading the truth about liberals, global warming, and Islam on twitter @Gary_Burghoff

Angel Chronicles 3 - Guardian Angels by Mick Norman

Guardian Angels
Angel Chronicles 3
by Mick Norman (James Laurence)
1974 New English Library

Guardian Angels Mick Norman

This installment, set in the future year 198-, draws inspiration from the real life killing of a fan by a Guardian Angels working security during a Rolling Stones concert.  In the near future there's a trend of double bill acts, one aimed at teenies, one aimed at "middies", or middle aged women.  The women have become increasingly violent during these concerts, so promoters hire the Angels to work security.  There's a sleazy bit in the middle where they have their way with some underage groupies, chain them up, shave their heads, body paint them, and parade them on stage as a warning to the other fans not to misbehave.

It kind of fizzles out towards the end, but Laurence goes into overdrive with the inside jokes and obscure references, even dropping in Dinsdale the hedgehog and a dead parrot from Monty Python.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Freedom's Rangers 5 - Sink the Armada

Sink the Armada
Freedom's Rangers 5
by Keith W Andrews
1990 Berkley
Freedoms Rangers Sink the Armada

Freedom's Rangers is the Men's Adventure series with the coolest concept and most disappointing execution.  The year is 2008, and a failure of nerve (damn liberals!) has allowed Soviet Russia to conquer half of America.  Free Americans use time travel technology to travel to the past to alter history, while trying to prevent the Russians from doing the same.

Our story starts in 1588 Cuba with our heroes barely escaping their time travel base being destroyed by a nuclear blast.  They hitch a ride sailing to England to stop the Soviet plot - they seek to use modern weaponry to aid the Spanish Armada's attack on England in order to prevent England's ascendancy, which in turn will weaken the formation of America.

Andrews has clearly done his homework - if it's not historically accurate, he's faking it well enough for a casual read.  But the action doesn't take advantage of the setting or premise.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Victim City Stories Issue 2 on Sale This Week

Starting at 99 cents, Issue 2 of Victim City Stories is a Kindle Countdown Deal this week.  In this teeth grinding installment you’ll uncover:

The procurers of Victim City have sunk to a new low, but even they will learn that man can be the most debased of the beasts.  Though beaten and in chains, they will find out that Every Dog Has His Day, Vengeance is the Bleeding Skull's.

Stan and Lisa are taking a vacation from their marriage, from their inhibitions, from their decency.  But they can't get away from themselves, or their Suburban Shame.

Shamed Witness: Club Bounty - Terror on wheels is rolling through Victors Crossing, and the Murder Man, George Murdam, has a contract to put on the brakes.

38,000 sweat-drenched words of modern pulp crime, sex, and horror.  On sale this week

EPCOT VIP Lounges - Norway Loft

Norway Loft
Pavillion: Norway
Sponsor: Currently none
Features: Tables and chairs
Entrance: An elevator near the Fast Pass machines *snicker*
As seen from outside: possibly the windows above the signage outside

The area was formerly home to AAA Story Telling Experience, a character meet and greet for AAA members.  It's currently available to rent for special events.

More pictures at Disney Travel Babble and Disney Everyday.

Update 9/21/14 - some video from Dark Side of Disney

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mack Bolan Miscellania

Some inserts from a 1986 Executioner novel, #093 The Fire Eaters, to be precise.

Inside Front Cover

Center Insert

Eat It, Canada

Inside Back Cover

Friday, April 11, 2014

Earworm - Under the Mountain

I saw this once, some thirty years ago, and hearing the theme again hit me like a suppressed memory.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

TV Horror Anthology - The Twilight Zone (1985)

The Twilight Zone
1985-7 CBS, 1988-9 Syndication
65 Episodes

Some scary stories have a timeless quality, some are a product of their times, and some depend more on the age of the viewer.  On reviewing, I'm sad to say the 1985 revival of the Twilight Zone likely falls in the last category.  Episodes like "Shadow Man", "A Little Peace and Quiet", and "Nightcrawlers" gave kids PTSD in the 80s, but don't have the same impact today.

The quality level doesn't dip too badly through the seasons, but the creepiness does subside rather quickly.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sid Caesar vs Tony Leung

From Cinema City to John Woo to Wong Jing, you can't underestimate the influence of It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World on Hong Kong cinema.

Monday, April 7, 2014

RIP Mickey Rooney - The Total Package






EPCOT VIP Lounges - Exxon Lounge

Exxon Lounge
Pavillion: Universe of Energy / Ellen's Energy Adventure
Sponsor: Exxon 1982-2004
Features: Soda.  In the early years there was a second story with a view of Dinorama
Entrance: Exterior door to the right of the building
As seen from outside: Windows behind and to the left of the vehicles before the cars split up

There's some footage on a Jeff Lange DVD I'm too cheap to buy.

Reportedly used now for offices for Ride & Show Engineering.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Earworm - A Thief in the Night

This is what the Left Behind movies are missing.  Killer jams.

Audio Versions of the Haunted and the Haunters; or, the House and the Brain

A straight audiobook

from Alfred Hitchcock's Ghost Stories for Young People

from the underrated CBS Radio Mystery Theatre

From the old time radio show the Weird Circle

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Haunter and the Haunters; or, The House and the Brain

The Haunter and the Haunters; or, The House and the Brain
By Edward Bulwer-Lytton
1859, originally published in Blackwoods

Walter B. Gibson, creator of the pulp version of the Shadow, credits the influence of Bram Stoker's Dracula and Edward Bulwer-Lytton's The House and the Brain aka the Haunted and the Haunter.  From both there is an element of shadowy figures and mesmerism.  During a haunting scene there is even an apparition referred to as the Shadow, in capitals:
"Nothing now was left but the Shadow, and on that my eyes were intently fixed, till again eyes grew out of the Shadow—malignant, serpent eyes"
However, the pulp character began as a radio narrator and was named before Gibson's involvement.

The story is significant for being one of the first modern occult detectives, and is credited with being the first modern haunted house story.  It also bears some similarity to Richard Matheson's Hell House.

The story has our narrator volunteering to stay the night in a haunted house in order to investigate the phenomena.  During the course of the night he is overwhelmed with fear, sees mysterious apparitions in a surprisingly trippy sequence, and his servant flees the country to Australia, and his dog dies.