Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thirty Hours with a Corpse and Other Tales of the Grand Guignol

Thirty Hours with a Corpse and Other Tales of the Grand Guignol
by Maurice Level
Collected 2016 Dover Publication

All of Maurice Level's short horror and suspense fiction.  Short contes cruels with twist endings, though many of them are more existential and depressing than terrifying.  Think Albert Camus meets Roald Dahl.  Very short, very basic tales.  Hard to summarize without spoiling the twist, as the twist is written into the premise of the stories.  Not many surprises here, but it's no less satisfying because of it.

Available on Kindle from Amazon.

Click here for a sample.

Look for more horror in the Trash Menace Bookstore.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Not So Lazy Rivers of Summer - The Current - Atlantis - The Bahamas

I'd be the jerk who goes to the Bahamas and never went to the beach.

Theming!  Tunnels!  Rapids!  Fog machine!  Conveyor belt!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Operator #5 06 - Master of Broken Men

Master of Broken Men
by Frederick C Davis
Operator #5 06

Corinth Regency CR128 - Master of Broken Men by Curtis Steele, cover art by Robert Bonfils (1966)

Our villain, the titular Master of Broken Men kidnaps the top men in various fields and breaks their wills through various tortures and psychological gambits.  In at least one scene he wears formal dress and a gas-mask.  He's been hired by the Utopists, some kind of revolutionary group who has been fomenting unrest across the nation.

The Master has various primitive natives working as henchmen, because he likes to break down the white man's sense of racial superiority by having them bested by savages.  We've got boomerang throwing aborigines and a group of leopard cultist "blacks".

That part kind of struck me.  I know the term "black" was previously used to describe Indians as well as Africans - Little Black Sambo was from India - no tigers in Africa.  The "blacks" here are a confused mess, variously described with a mix of African and Indian characteristics.

A good villain, but plotwise was kind of a mess.

Audiobook available from Audible.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Damon by C. Terry Cline Jr.

by C. Terry Cline Jr.
1976 Fawcett

Get ready to take a long shower after this one.

Damon is four-years-old when we start (six by the end).  He appears to be going through early puberty and is prone to blackouts.  And he has a massive schlong.  This is not an unimportant detail.

His parents take him to psychiatrist Kyle Burnette, who is the main character of this abomination.  Most of the novel is him discussing Damon's condition with various colleagues.  There's a thin veneer of medical respectability, but this is blown off when Damon spooges over Kyle's face during an examination.

Turns out Damon is also psychic and has some glandular malfunctions.  He may also be possessed by a sweven, whatever that is, or more likely has a split personality.  While Damon is taking a break from treatment he rapes and kills a neighborhood girl.

Kyle finds there are four other cases like Damon worldwide.  He visits one, and the patient speaks as the same sweven.  One patient is cured via exorcism.  This is the only lip service paid to the supernatural in the book, which can't be bothered to set up demon possession as even a red herring.

There's a lengthy subplot about an invasive journalist and all of the patients' doctors rushing to publish their accounts in medical journals first.  Just filling pages.

Damon is staying with nurse Betty Snider, who is an occasional bed-mate of Kyle in a 70s no-attachment kind of deal.  Damon tries to rape Betty, but she's a liberated woman and doesn't have suppressed societal hangups about things like having sex with a four-year-old.  She shows him that he doesn't have to be ashamed of being a rapist, and that women don't have the right to say "no" to having violent sex whenever it's demanded of them.  No way that can go wrong.

Damon progresses so well he goes back to live with mom.  Dad is out of town on business or something - he doesn't show up much.  Mom is having trouble sleeping so she takes lots of sleeping pills, and she might be getting hemorrhoids because her butt is sore every time she wakes up.  You see where this is going.  Mom figures it out, too, and kills herself.

Meanwhile, Betty thinks Kyle has too many hangups and gets him to roleplay that he is violently raping a little girl.  We're treated to a delightful interior monologue about how she's glad her sphincter was already stretched out from the buttsex she'd been getting on the regular from the preschooler.

Damon starts memorizing dozens of books like the kid in Fly II while his telepathy is getting stronger.  Meanwhile, Kyle is having a nervous breakdown around his mommy issues.  Even though the possession angle didn't get a lot of wordage, we finally get our reveal: the sweven is really the suppressed sexual thoughts of Kyle, which were drawn out by Damon's psychic ability.

So Damon just needs to swap therapists, keep up with hormone treatments, and he'll be fine.  As long as he never comes into contact with anyone who has subconscious rape fantasies, which is pretty much everyone.  So I guess he'll stay a super intelligent, telepathic rape addict with no control over his own actions.  Yeah, he'll be fine.

Available for Kindle at Amazon.

Click here for a sample.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Spider 014 - Death's Crimson Juggernaut

Death's Crimson Juggernaut
by Norvell Page as Grant Stockbridge
The Spider 014
November 1934

The Spider is framed in a series of crucifixion murders in a tenement block.  To add to his troubles, his apartment headquarters is compromised and he's been blinded.

The blinding starts off pretty good as a plot device.  This graduates into "you can use your sight, but if you overdo it you'll be blind forever" before it's forgotten about altogether.

Aside from the part where he's blind, a mostly meh entry in the series.  The villain's motivations are more incoherent than usual with random carnage being piled up arbitrarily until it completely loses affect.

Audiobook available on Audible.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Iceman 2 - The Golden Shaft by Joseph Nazel

The Golden Shaft
by Joseph Nazel
Iceman 2
Holloway House 1974

The Iceman is Henry Highland West, a Harlem pimp who worked his way up to becoming "one of the richest, most powerful blacks in the world".  He runs the Oasis, a giant brothel and casino complex in the Nevada desert protected by an army of female martial artists who he totals does it with whenever he wants.

A prospector who works on West's land is killed by miners who want to buy a section of West's land where a gold deposit has been discovered.  They are flabbergasted that West refuses to sell out, and one of West's prostitutes seduces one of them to discover their plans.

This goes south when a South African miner wants to get rough and she ends up being gutshot and raped to death - off-page of course.

The Iceman wants revenge and goes to a place and shoots people.  Then he flies a plane to Africa, hangs out with extras from a Tarzan movie, flies to another place and shoots people, the end.

The action scenes are so-so, but the actual plot is pretty much nonexistent.  Most of the page length is filled with scenes like this:

"You can't be good at the thing because you're a black."
The Iceman is good at the thing.
"I am better than you at the thing."
"How can that be?  I am white and you are black!"
"I am the best at doing the thing.  Honky."

I miss honky.

I don't think it's a stretch to say this series has a little juvenile wish fulfillment power fantasy stuff going on, but I'd rather they stick to sex and violence rather than constant pissing contests.

Speaking of sex, there isn't any.  None.  Not one sex scene.  This is a novel about a pimp who happens to be the world's best at sex running the Disney World of whorehouses and we're given two fade-to-black scenes.

Probably just as well.  I never got the whole pimp fantasy thing.  I can get that an emotionally stunted thirteen-year-old boy would like the idea that they're super good at sex and making women do whatever they want.  I can see the appeal of that power being so great that it makes you money.  It gets a little weird to take the next step of enjoying that power to make women have sex with gross dudes, but I just can't make that final step of "now come back and have sex with me again."  Just ewww.

This scenario is played out with the prostitute seducing the miner on her own initiative.  Pages and pages of "I don't want to have sex with this horrible man, but I will, because maybe the Iceman will approve."

Overall this should have been much, much more over the top.  For pimp action you can go gritty like Iceberg Slim or silly like Dolemite, but this was neither.  Dull and rushed, with page upon page of the baddies going "I can't believe the n-word is better than me at the thing".

Costs way too much on the used book market.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

G-8 and His Battle Aces - Squadron of Corpses

Squadron of Corpses
by Robert J. Hogan
G-8 and His Battle Aces 07
April 1934


Germans are using voodoo to resurrect their dead officers and American soldiers die in their place, ascending to the heavens rapture style.  And they would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for, etc.

I'm going to go ahead and spoil the heck out of this one, in case you care about such things.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Murder Master 1 - Death Trap by Joseph Rosenberger

Death Trap
by Joseph Rosenberger
Murder Master 1
Manor Books 1973

Louis Luther King is an undercover FBI Special Agent assigned to infiltrate the Invisibles.  Despite the name, they're just a handful of criminals who knock over an armored cars without giving the Mafia their cut.  King and the Invisibles are plotting their next heist and have to contend with a mob snitch.

A bit restrained for Rosenberger though there's still a hefty body count.  There are some weird inconsistencies with King's morals and motivations, which are unsatisfactorily explained away.  I've gotten that feeling from Rosenberger before - that an editor told him to fix something, and instead he shoehorned in some commentary.

King has an undercover identity as the Murder Master, yet he's concerned enough about concealing his crimes that he's okay with semi-innocent victims being murdered.  It makes a little bit of sense that he's covering up his unorthodox methods from his FBI bosses, but one would think he'd want the underground to know of the crimes of the Murder Master to build his street cred.

King's mission is to recover the stolen loot, but making an arrest is not even considered.  He's fully intent on murdering the Invisibles, leaving the leader for last so he can find the location of the money, but doesn't really make an effort to take them out until the end.

The big action set-piece is the raid on a warehouse loading cash into an armored car.  Instead of tipping off the police he joins in.  He makes a nominal effort to not hurt anyone, which for Rosenberger means only machine gunning off people's legs and setting them on fire before blowing the whole place sky high.

I suspect the original draft has King a criminal who double-crosses his partners - the plot makes a lot more sense that way.  Maybe an editor told him to make King a cop and he did so with the minimal amount of typing.

This is another example of Rosenberger's disguise fetish, which is silly and worse than useless.  Every day King disguises himself as an old man before returning to the tricked out RV in the trailer park where he lives, at which point he changes back or sleeps in his disguise.  Which doesn't do him a ton of good, seeing as how he doesn't switch cars and the one he drives has a bumper sticker for the trailer park.

I was surprised by how not racist it was.  It may be more fair to say that Rosenberger is a general misanthrope rather than a specific bigot, and that he's not afraid to go racial when he wants to.  Rosenberger's heroes see themselves superior to the rest of humanity and King is no exception.

I suspect things might have gone south if King wasn't the only Black character.  Since he was the superman, everybody else was an idiot, and here that meant that everyone from taxi drivers to neighbors to mafia hitmen were stupid racists (on purpose), looking down on and underestimating him because of his race, with King showing them up.  The Italians actually get it worse - there's a line about eating garlic in hell.

The back cover copy was trying way too hard.  The actual text is much less jivey - maybe just a few "baby"s sprinkled here and there.

Aside from a quick snarky comment on "Black is Beautiful", the book benefited from a lack of Rosenberger's political ramblings, though he tended to keep that solely in Death Merchant.  Too bad - I'd like to see him go whole hog and have footnotes about the KKK owning KFC and jet planes existing in ancient Egypt.

The Murder Master series is a titch pricey on the used book market and didn't quite have the novelty value I was hoping for to justify me hunting down the other two installments.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Not So Lazy Rivers of Summer - The Falls at Schlitterbahn

The Falls
New Braunfels

Perhaps my favorite water ride that I've been on, but I've seen perhaps better executed versions of the same. Depending on where you start - the top level consists of a wide lazy river with occasional dips. At the end there's a turn with a pretty long rapids section - just the right speed for my tastes. Some more lazy rivers before a bottleneck at the conveyor belt to the top. I've ridden this for hours at a time.

The "transportainment" concept is flawed. There are two parks with the entrances about couple hundred yards apart, and the exits from the ride are in-between them. Nobody uses it as a means of getting from one side to the other. Could use a lot more shade as well. If you are intending to ride this, call ahead, as the ride is not in operation for the full season for some reason.  Also keep in mind that they count this as like five different rides on the map.


Monday, August 1, 2016

Lazy Rivers of Summer - Lazy River - Tiki Bad Dunrell

Tiki Bad Dunrell
Wassenaar, Netherlands

I have a perverse fascination with the industrial indoor water parks of northern Europe.  This may be unique - an enclosed indoor/outdoor lazy river.