Friday, December 29, 2017

Toni Basil with Rerun and Spazz Attack

Why wouldn't Rerun from What's Happening!! hang out with the punk guy from the DEVO videos?  They were also in a Toni Basil video together, but the song is so horrible not even I will post it.  Interesting that Spazz got his one move from a pro wrestling bump.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

TV Obscura: 80s Casting

I watched a lot of TV in the 80s, and I figured I had at least heard of every network show.  I was very, very wrong.  When you get into mid-season replacements and unsold pilots there are tons of them, and the casting looks like someone hit shuffle on IMDB.

Wildside, starring Terry Funk, Conan's dad, and Meg Ryan.

Star of the Family, starring Brian Dennehy, the PA announcer from M.A.S.H., and the American Ninja.

Nothing is Easy, starring Short Round, the kid from Critters, and the mom from ET (and Critters).

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Death for Hire by Joseph Nazel

Death for Hire
by Joseph Nazel
1975 Holloway House

Amateur gangsters Turtle and Tracy assassinate an assistant D.A. and go on the run.  They're hunted by the cops, gangster Sugar Man, and reporter Spider.  There is a running commentary on everyone's mental and emotional state throughout.  At first it showed a little more depth than the pulp I'm used to, even getting poetic, but it wore thin for me real quick.  It didn't help that almost nothing happened the entire novel.

Paperback from Amazon

Friday, December 22, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Horror Stories, v2n3 September 1935

Horror Stories vol 2 no 3
September, 1935

Death Calls from the Madhouse by Hugh B. Cave: Women are committing suicide after changing their beneficiaries to madhouse inmates.

The Devil's Gift by Raymond Whetstone:  Remember the Monkey's Paw?  Well this is completely different.  It's a magic ring.  And also all a dream.

City of the Scarlet Plague by Nat Schachner: A town is overrun by grey-hooded dead men.  Ear pincer torture.

Mother of Monsters by Roger Howard Norton: A woman visiting her uncle ends up in a very wrong house.  The creepiest premise yet in weird menace - a circus performer is angry that his horse-riding wife is pregnant, so he forces her to wear a steel corset keep her figure.  The baby is born deformed and he sells it as a freak.  He makes so much money he continues the practice, force his wife to be a mutant baby farmer.

The Living Flame by Robert Sidney Bowen: Mad scientists and a killer in the house

The Bath of Blood by H. M. Appel: Cult cattle ranchers

Satan's Lash by Arthur J. Burks: Creepy uncle promises his niece to his creepy friend.  When she hooks up with her true love, they are whipped and she is sent to an asylum run by a creepy doctor.  A rarity - written from a female first-person perspective, which got awkward when she was describing her own boobs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Woman in Black

The Woman in Black (2012)

Image result for the woman in black

This popped on my radar as a revival of famed Hammer Films studio.  Other movies came out before and since, but this one is the only one that got any attention.

Radcliffe is a single dad widower who has to settle a will as the final chance to stay employed at his firm.  He stays in a spooky house and there's a ghost lady who lures children to their deaths.

I remember reviews saying this was Hammer's return to form, but the original Hammer films went for the jugular a bit more.  This one was trying for atmosphere, but it just one "I think there's something behind me...nope, nothing there" gag after another.  Derived more from Asian ghost movies than any Hammer output.  Most of the tension in the film was worrying if he was going to be able to finish is work on time while he spent hours slowly walking around with a candle.

On Amazon Video

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Rockabilly Limbo

Rockabilly Limbo
by William W. Johnstone
1996 Zebra

A quick recap - ex-cop Cole Younger and friends investigated a haunted roadhouse which got dropped from the story in favor of a child snuff porn ring which got abandoned for Satan causing non-Christians to go on a murder spree and a contagious zombie plague.

The following year, the murder sprees begin again, this time worldwide.  We're promised the Devil template (people who don't shower sodomize and murder each other) on a global scale.  And, thanks to his meticulous plotting, Johnstone is a writer who always follows through with his premise.

The end of most Devil books happens in the first couple chapters.  Cole and gang defend their home against waves of Satanists and zombies.  Across the country, terrorists of various stripes attack government facilities, while previously normal citizens gang up and murder each other.  So we're told, not so much shown.

Cole and company gather up supplies and head to the hills.  I hope you didn't think this sequel to a horror novel was going to be a horror novel.  Because it isn't.  It's a survivalist/post-apocalyptic novel.  Johnstone makes a half-hearted effort to cling to his original premise by having a disembodied voice play old rock music, which will certainly be relevant to the story and be fully explained by the end.

Unwashed Satanists fight far-right religious zealots and not-quite-as-far-right militias who have carved out Arkansas and Tennessee.  Cole has a rough plan to head to the Rocky Mountains, but mostly just drives through various checkpoints because I loved reading that so much in the Ashes books.

Cole's gang picks up some journalists to have someone to pick on for a while.  When asked what Cole has against journalists, he finally explains:  Journalists are liberals and therefore against assisted suicide, but a rancher he knew would shoot coyotes and wolves, and people eat meat.  Crystal clear political philosophy there - a John Locke for our generation.

I hope you didn't think this would be a survivalist/post-apocalyptic novel, because things settle down pretty quickly.  No, this is all a soapbox for Johnstone to proclaim his Tri-State philosophy.  That's right, America finds its way back to stability by embracing the ideas expressed by the fictional character of Ben Raines in the Ashes series, which in this alternate reality had the same effect that Ayn Rand did on the Tea Party.  I don't know which is worse.

That philosophy is that some people are bad.  Those people should be killed.  Then you just have good people left.  Government should stay out of people's lives, except for when it executes half the population for the slightest rule infraction.  This is not genocide, since you're murdering millions across various demographics evenly.  Still more coherent than Objectivism.

But what about Satan and ghost voices and the whole Rockabilly thing.  We're just told that it's not really Satan causing all the violence, it's aliens.  But we're constantly reassured that aliens have the same God and Satan as Earth, so Satan could still have something to do with something.  The voice is maybe an alien voice, or maybe Satan, or maybe an alien Satan.  That would have been interesting, so it doesn't happen.

Either way, the voice says that they're not controlling anybody anymore, and the violence in the world is just people being violent.  Which is a good thing, because people can finally murder all the bad people without the liberal government getting in the way.  And murder the bad people's families.

As we lurch to a close, Johnstone toys with the idea of there being a conclusion or a plot or something before throwing in the aliens.  Jumpsuited humanoids straight out of Plan 9 From Outer Space tell the President that there are other bad aliens causing all the violence and they made them stop.  Everyone suddenly stops fighting and doesn't remember the previous year, so I guess it wasn't Satan or bad people being bad people after all, just aliens.

The aliens let us know that they believe in the same God and that they don't have anything to do with the haunted roadhouses from the last book.  The country is broken into militias, the IRS is abolished, the FBI is not allowed to investigate innocent people, the end.

The end to Johnstone's rapidly declining horror writing career, and the end of this increasingly burdensome chore of a project.  You've let me down, America, so I'm hopping the pond and moving on to a real writer.  Goodbye Johnstone 26, hello Guy N. Smith 10,000,000.

Click here if you hate yourself enough to read this on Kindle from Amazon

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Bang Bang Kid

Bang Bang Kid (1967)

The sexy picture on Amazon is a titch misleading, which placed this movie in the also-boughts of a bunch of sex comedies.  This isn't a sex comedy or a comedy at all.  It's an Italian comedy.

I thought it was going to be one of those insufferable silent movie homages, but they just didn't bother with much dialogue for long stretches.  No jokes, no sight gags, just people mugging for the camera for the first twenty minutes.

Then we finally get what we came to see - Happy Days' Tom Bosley and a robot gunslinger in a Spaghetti western.  While I'm glad they didn't completely cop out and have an actor just perform stiffly, I was disappointed the robot was just a guy in a Tom Bosley fright mask instead of a stack of cardboard boxes painted silver.  Mostly I'm disappointed in myself for thinking there was any reason this movie would be entertaining.

But when you find out that Tom Bosley was in a Spaghetti western with a robot gunslinger, you can't not watch it.

Here's the Amazon link, though it currently isn't available.  If you buy something else through the link, you can support our questionable business model of reviewing movies nobody should watch.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Dr. Morton's Sinister Experiment 1: Blue Blood

Dr. Morton's Sinister Experiment 1: Blue Blood
by John Ball
Erber Publishing 1974
DR. MORTON - Grusel Krimi Bestseller 1: Blaues Blut (German Edition) by [Ball, John]

Dr. Glenn Morton is a London doctor who treats the poor.  He is also a sadistic mad scientist, aided by his World War II buddy William Grimsby, who's a serial killer on the side.

In the first installment, Dr. Morton has captured an embezzler, Mr. Stone, and is performing experiments on his blood in a secret laboratory under the private clinic where Dr. Morton lives his double life.  The experiments turn the embezzler's skin blue, and he's seen by a patient while trying to escape.

Grimsby gets the urge and has to get himself under control so that Morton can rely on him again.  He hits on a hiker before throwing her off a cliff in a sexual frenzy.  They capture a patient who was a witness to the blue man, adding her as an experimental subject.  Grimsby goes to kill another patient who talked to the first, but is stopped when her boyfriend shows up, but returns to stab her and her visiting Aunt.

Dr. Morton is questioned by Chief Inspector Pratt of Scotland Yard.  The embezzler offers to turn over his fortune if he's released and gives Dr. Morton the combination to his safe.  He's injured in an escape attempt, and as his artificial blood has no coagulant, he bleeds out his blue blood as the doctor and Grimsby mock him with his stolen goods.

Dr. Morton has the reputation as the goriest and most violent of the Gruselromans, but it's still pretty tame stuff, even if the concept is pretty dark.  There have been several villain pulps before this, but those just gave the bad guy top billing, while the stories were focused on the heroes.  Dr. Morton is strictly from the side of the villain, with Scotland Yard barely making an appearance.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Carambola! 1974

Starting with 1967's God Forgives...I Don't, Bud Spencer and Terrence Hill formed a comedy team of a grumpy big guy and agile good looking guy, making mediocre Italian comedies into the 80s.

Starting with 1974's Caramblo!, there was an imitation duo of Paul L. Smith and Michael Coby.  Paul L. Smith is the big beardy guy who looks out of the corner of his eyes a lot in movies like Dune and Crimewave, and is perhaps best known as playing Bluto in the Popeye movie.

Couldn't ask for better casting, given that I thought Bud Spencer was Paul L. Smith before I paid it any attention.

Anyway, Carambola!.  Fake Terrence Hill is pool shark who is blackmailed into catching gun runners, so he tricks Bluto into helping him.  It's not very good or very funny.  The best part is a running gag of fake Bud Spencer being unable to drink milk because he keeps breaking the glass.  Hilarious.

There's also a rip-off of the slap/quick-draw/slap sequences from the Hill/Spencer Trinity movies, only it makes less sense.

Then there's the theme song, which plays about twenty times through the film.  This stupid thing's been running though my head for a month, made worse by my only being able to figure out half the lyrics.

This, along with a zillion other spaghetti westerns, are currently available on Amazon Prime.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Rockabilly Hell by William W. Johnstone

Rockabilly Hell
by William W. Johnstone
1995 Zebra Books

Retired cop Cole Younger joins up with journalist Katti to investigate a series of haunted roadhouses that materialize off the freeways of Arkansas.  The clubs were host to the scum of the Earth for decades, and they now house their damned souls and are linked to the disappearance of hundreds over the years.

Add to that a material conspiracy - former club-goers turned pillars of society led by multi-millionaire Victoria Staples discovered they could lure their enemies to the haunted spots and the ghosts would kill them and dispose of the bodies, forming the basis of a criminal empire.

Said pillars hope to stop Cole and Katti's investigation, while the two join forces with private detectives, FBI agents, and a cussy priest.  Ghosts, in the form of sparkly dots, murder witnesses before they can talk.  Cole figures since ghosts are just made of electricity, he can kill them with a stun gun.  The stun gun zaps parts off the ghost until they comically run around and turn into rotting corpses.

Cole decides that ghosts are not allowed to kill anyone, despite them doing so throughout the novel.  Since the ghosts aren't killing people, they must be just distracting the victims until Victoria's gang can kill them in child snuff porn.  That's just deductive reasoning, but to prove it they order a copy of every snuff film and watch them for clues.

For a while, Johnstone doesn't want to do a ghost story anymore, so we have the FBI halfheartedly investigating Victoria's child snuff angle, which is detailed in some of the nastiest child sex scenes Johnstone has written to date, just to get in the sodomy quotient.  Out of sheer coincidence, two rapists dump two dead teenage girls on Victoria's property for a subplot that goes nowhere.

The investigation, such as it is, grinds to a halt, and the plot founders.  Time to bring in the true villains - the press!  They hear about the haunted roadhouse and hold a barbeque on the side of the road.  Cole and Katti team up with some trusted Republican reporters, presumably because Democrats don't believe in ghosts.

I was expecting the haunted roadhouse (you know, the one the book was supposed to be about) to make a big reappearance and be relevant again for the conclusion.  It doesn't.  What does happen is that it rains urine and hails poop over the reporters.

Meanwhile, back in town, folks are acting funny.  People are less friendly, etc.  We get a condensed version of the Devil books, with all the townspeople who aren't the right kind of Christian raping and slaughtering each other.

Five percent of the book left, just enough time to introduce a contagious zombie plague.  The FBI arrest everyone in the child snuff ring who wasn't killed by zombies, the end.

Far and away the most unfocused of the Johnstone horrors.  It was good to see him try a new premise, but it was clear he had no idea where to go with it.  Of course there's a sequel.

Available in Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.