Monday, November 30, 2015

Alton Towers - Haunted House

Here we have the pub cover band version of Haunted Mansion before it was ruined with light guns.  Whole chunks of the narration were lifted from the Disney original, including having a Ghost Host.  Taken on its own terms, there are some interesting differences.  The tone is darker, I like some of the portraits, and the ride vehicle looks like a cross between a larger roller coaster and a moving theater.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

After Alice by Margaret Bingley

After Alice aka After Alice Died
by Margaret Bingley
1986 Piatkus Publishers Limited

File this under "creepy domestic drama with unnecessary supernatural angle".

On the night of his bachelor party, a guy is visited by a horny ghost.  Nothing spectral or spooky, just kind of there like Topper or Jennifer Slept Here.  He gets married and the ghost pushes over his pregnant wife, killing the baby.

They have a couple more kids while the husband keeps banging the ghost.  One kid is spooky, the other intellectually disabled.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tower of Blood by Spike Andrews - CAT (Crisis Aversion Team) 1

Tower of Blood
by Spike Andrews aka Duane R. Schermerhorn
CAT (Crisis Aversion Team) 1
1982 Warner Books
Men of Action Book

Two cops stop the son of a failed industrialist from committing acts of revenge against his competitors.  Weirdly, this may be the first Men's Adventure book I've read that had regular cops doing their job.  I know there are plenty out there, but I think the marketing starts to slide over to detective and police procedural territory.

The whole thing gave off a strong 70s buddy cop show vibe, to the point that I had this playing in my head through most of it.

The characters interacted OK, but I couldn't tell you anything about them.  One cop is married, the other isn't.  Not that I'm minding, as for once this book filled up the page length with action scenes.  Lots and lots of long, competently written action scenes.

What really impressed me with Tower of Blood is how skillfully crafted the action scenes were.  Some of them went on for 30 pages or more and didn't drag.  You got an excellent sense of place and could visualize every movement in your head.  This may have the only decent, drawn out foot chase I've ever read.  There's a reason nobody writes chase scenes - they're hard to write.

I ended up studying this one for how it was put together.  For instance, different writers use different tactics when there's an extended fight scene with unnamed opponents.  Here, he just uses "the guy" throughout.  Like an admission that it's prickly and he's just going to ignore it.

By the ending things started to drag a bit, as our two cops break up a hostage situation in a high rise restaurant and have an extended fight around and in a helicopter.

There were three in the series.  The second was written by George "Crime Minster" Ryan, the third by Schermerhorn again.  As far as I can tell, Schermerhorn wrote these two and a crime suspense novel "Hard to Kill" as James Marcott.

The Men of Action Books line from Warner Books had the worst logo.

Currently available for Kindle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Crabs' Moon by Guy N Smith (Crabs 5)

Crabs' Moon
by Guy N Smith
Crabs 5
1984 New English Library

I wonder what happened to Guy N Smith in the eight years since the first installment of the Crabs series.  The first had awkward British sex, but at least it was kind of sweet in a "shall we proceed with intercourse" kind of way.  By book five, he's moved on to the kind of miserable misogyny that the British does so well at their worst.

There's precious little actual giant crab attacks in this one, and Smith completely skips his own finale.  Mostly we get women cheating and getting raped and their interior monologues of how much they loathe themselves.

This installment is set at a British coastal holiday camp, which is miserable enough as it is.  The army has the place sealed up, because it makes sense to keep hundreds of people mere feet from the shoreline when you could evacuate them inland, especially since the crabs mostly attack at night.

The story follows along a series of miserable people.  A married woman ditches her kids to fool around with a guy that gets killed by crabs, then hits on another guy who has a girlfriend that breaks the barricades to sleep with another guy and gets molested buy soldiers and a dirty hippy

The violence is pretty tame, and the sex is less appealing than a VD scare film.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Cataclysm by Don Pendleton

Cataclysm: The Day the World Died aka Cataclysm
by Don Pendleton
1969 Bee-Line Books

Don Pendleton is best known for starting the Executioner series, but he also wrote weird, conceptual science fiction.  And smutty private detectives, but I haven't found any of that yet.

The world is falling apart from social decay and natural disasters, and a handful of scientists try to find an answer for humanity's survival.

The story jumps forward a few years at a time, giving a quick page wrap up of all the disasters that happened in the meantime.  These are the scenes I wanted to see, but instead we mostly get folks talking like a 60s British sci-fi movie.

Cataclysm is not so much 70s disaster movie as it is 70s pop futurism.  There's weird pseudo-science (without society, humans physically revert down the path of evolution in one generation), and sex.  Lots of sex.  Not much actual sex scenes, but talking about sex.  The scientists are polyamorous, and survivors from the wild are treated with sex therapy to heal them.

The frustrating thing is that there is all kinds of crazy stuff going on somewhere else, over there, while we hear a bunch of scientists just kind of chat.  Near the end we actually get an action scene, as a man survives a massive earthquake while in a protective pod, but I could have used a lot more of this.

Interestingly, Joseph Rosenberger wrote some "non-fiction" about various Doomsday scenarios for Fate magazine.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Better When They Sucked - Suicidal Tendencies

Suicidal Tendencies released one of the most important West Coast punk albums in 1983 with their debut album.  They steadily went downhill after that, and in 1993 decided to re-record the entire album in Mike Muir's crappy new voice.  At the time I thought this was a big FU to the fans of the original, but it turns out they didn't have rights to re-release the original, so they just re-recorded the whole thing.  Kind of like 1990's Night of the Living Dead.  Which also pales next to the original.

Listening to it now, it's not as bad as I remember.  At least Mike Muir hadn't gotten into funk yet.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Battleground USSA - Red Dusk by Christopher Blair

Battleground USSA - Red Dusk
by Max Auger (Christopher Blair)
Blood & Tacos 2015

First a word about the series this spun out of.  Blood & Tacos is the literary equivalent of the fake trailers from Grindhouse.

I like all of these for different reasons, but Eli Roth's Thanksgiving is the only one that could be mistaken for the real deal if you weren't paying close attention.  There are a lot of directions to go when doing these kind of homages:

You can be influenced by the original but do your own thing, like Rob Zombie or Quentin Tarantino.  You can lovingly lampoon the source material like Edgar Wright.  You can aim at the source material but miss because you vastly overestimate the power of post-production like Robert Rodriguez.  Or you can just do the thing in the genre you're doing the thing in, respecting and loving the source material.  Thanksgiving was pretty much a straightforward 80s slasher trailer, turned up just a notch.

Blood & Tacos is a direct riff off these trailers, to the point of having a Machete style character.  The conceit is that they are a series of chapters of recently discovered Men's Adventure novels from the 80s.  I wasn't a huge fan of the first installment, as I felt most of the stories were played a little too much for laughs and didn't have a firm grasp of the material they were making fun of.

The exception was USSA Texasgrad, which if anything was a little too wry.  Luckily, in this novella length expansion, things are turned up a notch without getting too jokey.

There's very little backstory, so the reader kind of has to make it up on their own.  Russia has invaded America and taken over much of the west coast.  Both sides have had their military decimated.  I pictured it as being like years after Red Dawn, which the title kind of implies.

Air Force Captain Mike McCreary takes a team to Alaska to investigate reports of the Russians building a bridge across to Bering Strait and ends up facing down the Chinese navy.  It's played pretty straight - straighter than Jerry Ahern even, but there are occasional winks.  McCreary turns a little apple pie John Wayne in a few places, and there's a running joke about liberal slaves the Russians captured from San Francisco still in disbelief that the Russians don't live in a worker's paradise.

It was a fun little tribute, and it was good to see someone doing it without looking down their nose.