Thursday, December 29, 2016

Operator #5 20 Scourge of the Invisible Death

Scourge of the Invisible Death
Operator #5 20
by Frederick C. Davis as Curtis Steele

The bad guys: An underground Loyalist secret society descended from British intelligence efforts during the Revolutionary War.

The weapon: The Death Star!  A different one.  Not really a specific star, more like cosmic rays.  The Loyalists can create temporary holes in the ozone layer that allow cosmic radiation to beam down in a death ray.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Maddening/Playmates by Andrew Neiderman

The Maddening
by Andrew Neiderman
Originally as Playmates 1987 Berkley Books

A cliche wrapped in padding.  A woman's car breaks down and she's forced to take refuge at a creepy house with her daughter - a premise so hokey it was the stuff of parodies from at least the 1930s.

The house is occupied by a woman insane with grief over her lost child, her sociopathic husband, and their intellectually disabled daughter.  Usually these things build up, but we're in a hurry, so we go straight to locked rooms and chains around the ankles.

The missing woman's husband looks for her and does a better job than the cops until he finds the farmhouse and gets tossed down a well.  He spends several chapters crawling his way back up while the two girls play and the farmer rapes the mother.

Dad crawls out of the well and attempts a rescue, with a local cop swooping in to save the day at the last minute.  An uneventful epilogue, the end.

I was shocked to find this came out like a month before Stephen King's Misery, as this is a pale shadow of it.  No suspense, no tension, just pages and pages of back story and repetition.  There's an entire half chapter of the cop recapping the investigation to his wife.  The text was so repetitive I wasn't sure if I swiped the right direction on my tablet - you can flip a handful of pages and it's still the same thought.

I don't find myself yelling at characters in books for being stupid, but everything here depends on people making bad choices.  The mother is chained to the leg of her bed - I don't care how heavy it is, it's just a damn bed, you can lift one leg up two inches (which she finally does).  The farmer knows the husband is alive in the well and figures he'll dump some dirt on him later.  Dad stuns the farmer not once but twice and limps away without finishing him off.

The last half alternates between the events at the farmhouse and the local detective poking around the area, with the cop showing up to prevent the husband from having to finish a fight.  The problem - the events at the farmhouse are in the middle of the night and the detective is walking around in the middle of the day.

I stuck it out because the cover deserves it, and because online reviews talk about how creepy and disturbing it is - maybe for Goodreads folks, but not around these parts.  The one nice thing I can say about it is it handled the farmer's backstory well with his history of mental illness and child abuse.  Neiderman wrote Pin and was VC Andrews ghostwriter, so he has some background in creepy family histories.

For a better treatment of the same general premise, try Satan's Daughers or the aforementioned Misery.  This was made into a film with Burt Reynolds and Angie Dickinson, of all people, which from the plot synopsis has about ten time as much "stuff happening" as the book - and if you want to see Stroker Ace raping the girlfriend from Ferris Bueller's Day Off, this is your film.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read and excerpt.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Spider vs The Empire State

The Spider vs The Empire State
by Norvell Page as Grant Stockbridge
Originally from the Spider #60-62

The Spider 60, 9/1938
The City That Paid To Die

The Party of Justice has been elected into power in New York State.  The Black Police, criminals released from prison, patrol the towns, demanding tribute to be paid on the spot.  The Spider, Richard Wentworth, rescues a store owner from extortion, which turns out to be the beginning of a revolution.

From here the story reminds me of both the video game Freedom Fighters and the TV series V.  Wentworth and his growing army attack targets of strategic importance, growing their numbers from freed prisoners.

The Spider 61, 10/1938
The Spider at Bay

More of the same, but with the added peril of germ warfare.  Captured revolutionaries are given diseases to discourage aid from the frightened citizens.

The Spider 62, 11/1938
Scourge of the Black Legions

Wentworth is shot in the lung.  He disperses his large army - I guess Page got tired of that gimmick.  He attempts to infiltrate the Party of Justice with a someon's twin and it just kind of fizzles out.

Available collected in paperback.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Things I Didn't Finish - Chimera by Stephen Gallagher

by Stephen Gallagher
1982 St. Martin's Press

After a looong prelude of a prisoner escaping from Auschwitz, we have the police securing the area around a rural fertility clinic in which all the doctors were massacred (off page).  A reporter, a nurse who was off duty at the time, and a father who lost his embryo come to town, fiddle with getting accommodations, then leave.  Could be a good enough first chapter, but we're 40% through the book.

The book eventually becomes a thriller, so I'm told, something about hiding a monkey boy from the government.  Way too slow so far, and I only started because I was expecting more of a horror novel, which this isn't.

Gallagher has written for British TV and adapted the book for an ITV miniseries, which was then chopped up to make Money Boy,

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Slime by John Halkin

by John Halkin
1984 Hamyln

Killer jellyfish attack England.  The story focuses on an actor, the journalist he's having an affair with, and his estranged cheating wife as they're all affected by the jellyfish invasion.  They begin by attack those in the water offshore before starting to move inland, in rivers and ponds, before slowly creeping on land.

The references to water taps refer to a development of jellyfish babies ending up in the drinking water - this wasn't really developed in the book.  The end has some decent thrills during a rescue mission at a besieged hospital.

Not as sleazy as Squelch or Slither; this one had more of a disaster movie feel, albeit with faces getting melted off.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here for a sample.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Shock Chamber aka Greedy Terror

Shot on camcorder Canadian horror anthology.  So bad that, when I saw this as a kid on Saturday Nightmares, I asked my Dad why they would even bother making it.  He sat me down and gave me the talk about Canadian tax shelters.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Spider 23 - Master of the Death-Madness

Master of the Death-Madness
by Norvell W. Page as Grant Stockbridge
The Spider 23
August 1935

Mass suicides by members of an Anubis death cult, controlled by a drug similar to our own loco weed.  Pretty good scene of a wave of suicides jumping off a bridge, trying to take the Spider down with them.  Nita gets in on the action, donning the Spider's cape and killing a few folk.