Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Shadow 320 - Reign of Terror

The Shadow 320
Reign of Terror by Maxwell Grant (Bruce Elliott)
July 1948

I've read a few Shadow, each of them a little different vibe.  This is the first I've read which felt like one of the radio shows.  An extortion racket, led by an overweight gourmet, threatens a variety of citizens.  The Shadow tracks them to an underground lair and ends up trapped in a lion cage.  He escapes, in what I'm sure would have been an exciting sequence if it were on-page, and then talks everyone into killing each other.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Wu Tang Collection on Amazon Prime

While Netflix lost interest in older movies in favor of original shows with serial harassers, Amazon Prime has more than picked up the slack in terms of exploitation movies.  I've gotten my money's worth in a single weekend checking out their massive collection of Spaghetti Westerns, Italian exploitation, and kung fu movies.

Most of them, almost 500 titles, are from the distributor Wu Tang Collection, and I suspect there are some questionable copyright issues, so watch them while you can.  And if you happen to be subscribing to Prime anyway, if you get it through this link Trash Menace will get a cut to support our questionable life choices.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Hellborn by Gary Brandner

by Gary Brandner
1981 Fawcett Gold Medal

A single mom with undefined powers attracts the attention of body-swapping demon Astragoth, who can switch bodies via sex.  Some demon buggery and light incest, otherwise pretty by-the-numbers.

Paperback from Amazon.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Psychical Invasion by Algernon Blackwood

A Psychical Invasion
by Algernon Blackwood

The first of the John Silence psychic/occult investigator stories.  A humorist takes hashish to explore the boundaries of laughter and ends up inviting an evil spirit.  Enter John Silence, psychic investigator.  He spends the night in the humorists house with a cat and dog.  Dogs are afraid of ghosts/psychic emanations, but cats like them.  The dog gets scared, the cat runs around, and at some point Silence hallucinates multiple cats.  He then later discovers that an executed criminal had lived there.  The End.

It's a testament to Blackwood's writing that the piece is so engaging and atmospheric, given that he literally is just watching his pets the entire story.  The whole enterprise had a very 60s psychedelic vibe, with the drugs and vibrations and such.

I just wish something actually happened.  Ghost stories are pretty tame to begin with, and when you swap out the implications of being trapped in a horrid afterlife with psychic vibrations, there's not a lot of scary stuff left.

Read for free on

Print collection from Amazon

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Night Mask by William W Johnstone

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 one.

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.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brute by Con Sellers

by Con Sellers
Novel Books, 1961

"He ripped out the guts of an entire city to find the one hell-hole wehre his lover was being violated!"

Brad Saxon is an ex-football player Korean War vet who returns to Japan to find his one true love, a prostitute he abandoned.  He gets mixed up with crooked military, Japanese secret police, blackmailed Army wives, communist plots, and organized crime.

But mostly he smashed through walls like a bull in a china shop, smacking the crap out of everyone, and sleeping with every woman he can find.  Brute is a rare book from the paperback original era in that it fulfills the promise that the cover evokes.  The story is not far off from what the art suggests.  The sex is plentiful, though shrouded in purple prose, and the violence gets surprisingly brutal towards the end.

This is a good example of tough guy inflation.  Saxon was a tackle and used his experience to bulldoze through thugs, tossing them like rag dolls.  Much is made of his massive 230 pounds - the average tackle today is over 300.

This is my first Con Sellers book, but not my last.  The prose was more literary than it had reason to be while staying pure exploitation.  Now Wildside just needs to release Red Rape - hell, do a whole megapack!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bats by William W. Johnstone

by William W. Johnstone
1993 Zebra Books

Giant killer bats with super-rabies attack Louisiana.  They cling onto faces and eat out eyeballs, and if the victims live they turn into murderous psychotics along with the wild boars that feast on the dead.  We get about twenty pages of that.

The rest is people talking about how serious people should or shouldn't be taking all this.  The police withhold details from the hated press to avoid a panic, then complain when the townspeople don't take steps to protect themselves.  Most of the book is just this back and forth.  Interminably.

The killer bats get killed by regular bats, the end.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hell's Bells - The Dangers of Rock N' Roll

I remember this from Sunday school and being impressed by the range of music:  Foetus, Crass, the Cure, Richard Kern, the Frogs.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Zebra Men's Adventure 1982 - 1991

The Zebra Men's Adventure books of the 70s were more eclectic.  By the 80s, it's strictly Vietnam and post-apocalypse.  I haven't checked, but I'm almost positive no new series started in the 90s.

Gonji by T.C. Rypel
Sub Wars by James Good

Gunships by Jack Hamilton Teed
Ashes by William W. Johnstone
Warlord by Jason Frost
McLeane's Rangers by John Darby
Black Eagles by John Langsing
Seventh Carrier by Peter Albano
Saigon Commando by Jonathan Cain

Depth Force by Irving A. Greenfield
Doomsday Warrior by Ryder Stacy
War Dogs by Nik-Uhernik
The Zone by James Rouch

CADS by John Sievert

Wingman by Mack Maloney
Rig Warrior by William W. Johnstone

Body Smasher by Jan Stacy