Friday, August 31, 2018

TM Gallery: Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks

Racing Fever by William Grefe

Only Lovers Left Alive by Dave Wallis
A sudden rash of suicides quickly spirals out of control, as all the adults do away with themselves in a wave of existential ennui. With the “oldies” dead, teenagers inherit the world, suddenly free to smash, loot and love as they like. Motorcycle gangs hold wild orgies in abandoned apartments and prowl through the shambles of disintegrating London in search of disappearing stocks of lipstick, gasoline and food, now the currency in a new world of unspeakable violence . . . 

The Lusty Hillbilly by Ralph Brandon

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Dennison's War 2: Conte's Run by Adam Lassiter

Conte's Run
by Adam Lassiter
Dennison's War 2
1985 Bantam

Dennison's War is the series about righteous mercenaries, recruited from various walks of life, and after the first installment it looks like each character gets a solo novel, starting here with Matt Conte, the former mafia assassin.

A nymphomaniac scientist with a lot of government passwords is kidnapped by Vancouver, the world's deadliest assassin, and Dennison is hired to bring her back.  The first third of the book is characters repeating this to each other.

Conte tortures a guy and finds out where Vancouver is, then hangs out in the Philippines for the middle third.  A little travelogue flavor and a quick bar fight, but still nothing happening.

Conte and his boat captain sidekick finally assault the island where Vancouver is hiding out, guarded by a small army of natives.  He loads up his MAC-10s and we're ready for action!  And as if sensing my enthusiasm, Conte gets a knife wound to the leg and things slow back down to a literal crawl.

There's a decent tactical shootout in a bamboo field, and Vancouver is a sufficiently creepy sociopath, but not much to recommend here.  In the first book I mentioned that Lassiter would be better suited for a mystery or espionage, but the plot here is "go to this place, hang around, go to next place" worse than most Men's Adventure.  We learn nothing of Conte except that he wants to bang the boat captain's daughter.

I enjoyed the detail in the first book, but it was grossly misapplied here.  We'll get paragraph descriptions of literal passerbys who do nothing in the story.  At least it seemed well researched.

This is the second book I've read this summer where the female captive willing has sex with a man several times after he tells her he's going to traffic her.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Scarred for Life: Ace of Wands

Ace of Wands
46 Episodes
1970-72 ITV

A dandy magician solves crimes, I guess, I gave up before finishing a series.  Neato title sequence, though.

Follow along with Scarred for Life Volume One available in ebook from Lulu.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Tie Ins: Sudden Death by Stephen Mertz

Sudden Death
by Stephen Mertz
based on the screenplay by Gene Quintano
1995 Boulevard

The film, Sudden Death (1995) is Die Hard in a hockey stadium.  Jean Claude Van Damme is a fire marshal who has brought his kids to a hockey game when Powers Booth holds the vice president hostage.

The film was a bit odd at the time.  Action films had become postmodern, mostly in a bad way.  Self referential and embarrassed to be an action movie.  Most of the 90s were like this, for Hollywood films anyway, until The Matrix came along.  1995 was very late to be making Die Hard clones.

I was (and still am) a hardcore Van Damme fan, but even by this point I, and judging by the laughter the rest of the audience, was watching this in the theater ironically.  I watched parts of it again recently, and it did kind of play for laughs at points, but not enough to be tongue in cheek.  And I forget how much charisma Van Damme used to have, before he became so very, very sad.

The movie was also a little different for toning down the karate and having more environmental kills.  That and Van Damme's character spends half the movie making improvised weapons and booby traps like Home Alone.  The hole thing ends with what I thought was the worst CGI effect I'd ever seen as a helicopter, pointing nose down, slowly lowers through the top of the stadium.  I found out recently they actually lowered the helicopter down by crane.

The book follows the movie pretty much to the letter, with a few minor deviations and elaborations, and it kind of confirms a theory I had while watching it.  Most of the fights took place in the kitchen - two in the book, but I remember at least three in the movie, because it was ridiculous to the point where the audience was laughing "not in the kitchen, again".  I was convinced that they figured out a way to kill someone with each piece of kitchen equipment, and they would keep having fights there until they used them all.

The book, likely based on the script, had fewer of these elements, and the fights were likely embellished on the set.

The writing style was a bit off.  Stephen Mertz has written libraries of men's adventure fiction, but this had a more juvenile style to it, with inner monologues that sound like cussy thirteen year olds.

The book had a few added details to the story, the most important of which is that Powers Booth's character had a woody every time he committed an act of violence.

Paperback available from AbeBooks

Friday, August 24, 2018

TM Gallery: Men's Adventure Magazines

You Can Be Framed on a "Homo" Rap
Hitler's Call-Girl Temple

Scream , My Sweet, on the Wheel of Agony

Invasion of the Speed Freaks

Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Dracula Horror Series 1: Dracula Returns by Robert Lory

Dracula Returns
The Dracula Horror Series 1
by Robert Lory
Pinnacle 1973

Professor and ex-cop Damien Harmon, with the aid of his assistant Cameron Sanchez and the mysterious psychic Ktara, resurrect Dracula, surgically implanting a sliver of a wooden stake near his heart set to go off if Professor Harmon dies.

Slow going at first as the bulk of the book deals with the trip to Transylvania and back.  For some reason Harmon shipped the micro-batteries for the implant in a separate crate, doesn't have any spares, and can't buy anymore.  They get stolen, and Sanchez and Ktara go chasing after the McGuffin.

They recover it, and Sanchez reveals his motivation - he uses Dracula to wipe out the mafia.  This is a Pinnacle book, after all.  Dracula plays along for his own purposes, Ktara is subtly defiant towards her master for, and we don't know Harmon's endgame yet.

But we've got nine more books to go, and lucky for you people I managed to grab them all.  I was skeptical about this being a horror/men's adventure crossover, especially after the slow first half, but it delivers on the premise by the end.

The first installment just came out in Ebook.  Snatch it up so that they publish the other nine.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Scarred for Life: The Owl Service

The Owl Service
1969-70 Granada Television

Some rich Brits and working class Welsh, teenage sexual tension, a legend of a flower lady, some dishes, something something.

Not much in the "things happening" department, but creepy atmosphere out the wazoo.  Something about even the film grain of 70s British shows seems sleazy and surreal.  An avant garde style not seen in children's TV at the time, and enough sexual tension that you google the actress' age to make sure you don't end up on a register.  The actress in question, Gillian Hills, was a Roger Vadim discovery and worked with Serge Gainsbourg, so she had full blown Lolita credentials here even though she was 25.

Here she is in a music video with Gainsbourg for "Une Petite Tasse D'Anxiété", which is presumably French for Stranger Danger.

Detracting from the tension are the horrible performances, including the worst teen performances I've seen that actually made it to air, complete with line stumbles.

Follow along with Scarred for Life Volume One, available in ebook from Lulu.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Tie-Ins: Darkman

Darkman was Sam Raimi's attempt to jump on the superhero bandwagon started by Tim Burton's Batman.  Originally intended to be the Shadow, Darkman is a scientist who is betrayed and left for dead.  His nerve endings have been severed so he feels no pain and occasionally goes into psychotic rages.  He develops a synthetic skin that evaporates after 99 minutes, which he uses in a series of disguises.

It's hard to see now how ahead-of-its-time this film was, from the frantic editing and Evil Dead-esque camera angles to Liam Neeson being a bad ass years before Taken.

There were two comic series, two direct-to-video sequels, and an unaired pilot.

Randall Boyll wrote the novelization in 1990 and four continuing story novels in 1994.

The Hangman
The Price of Fear
The Gods of Hell
In the Face of Death

Monday, August 20, 2018

TM Gallery: Action Paperbacks

The Story of the Phantom: The Scorpia Menace

Dagger: Ride of the Razorback by Carl Stevens
With reckless skill, Dagger goes for the throat of Japan's most ruthless killers 

Steve Train’s Ordeal by Max Brand

Friday, August 17, 2018

TM Gallery: Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks

Carnival of Death by Day Keene
On the day they gave the money away . . . the shopping center was a scene of confusion. A carnival had been set up nearby, and now a clown was throwing coins and bills to the eager crowd.

Suddenly the gay scene changed to nightmare. A man clutched his stomach and dropped to the ground. A clown was shot; a young mother was killed by a stray bullet. The merrymakers were no longer the audience, but unwilling pawns in a dangerous game - with life or death as the stakes. 

Skid Row Sinner by John Dexter

Tabasco by John B. Thompson

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Arbor House Treasury of True Crime by John Dunning

The Arbor House Treasury of True Crime
by John Dunning
Arbor House, 1981

Heavy proof stuff here.  This unassuming tome is a huge omnibus of reprinted true crime stories, mostly from Germany and France.  It is also perhaps the most f'ed up book I have ever read.  Murder, incest, rape, incest, serial killing, incest, and incest.  All written in a flat reporting style, with some narrative conceits from the investigators.  The twisted lives people led outside of their crimes were even more disturbing.

Interestingly, it describes a fetal abduction in Bosnia from 1970, which is four years earlier than the first listed in Wikipedia.

I had this book sometime in my youth - it must have been high school, since I knew Colin Wilson from the Outsider and I wasn't that pretentious until at least sophomore year.

Get used from Amazon

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Scarred for Life Volume One

Scarred for Life Volume One

I've read a few books based on blogs, and the blogs tend to be better.  Scarred for Life Volume One might as well be a book based on a YouTube channel.  And surprisingly, that turned out ok.

The theme is creepy British children's shows and PSAs from the 1970s.  And there is an endless depth of creep from 1970s Britain.  I usually shy away from books about film and TV, as I can just watch the original directly, but Scarred for Life goes into depth, shows its research, and gives historical context to the weirdness.  It's the kind of book you'll flip through with one hand and add YouTube videos to your playlist with the other.

And even if you skim over the background and just use it as reference, there's great value for money for this massive 740 page tome.

Available in PDF and paperback from Lulu.

This is the third book I've looked for that is only available on Lulu and for the life of me I can't figure out why anyone would do that.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Tie Ins: Nightmare on Elm Street

Freddy Kreuger began as a slapstick vaudevillian and only got worse from there.  His wise cracking is personally responsible for the death of 80s film horror.  Having said that, all the parts without Freddy can be genuinely creepy, and the series is begging for a fan edit.

The various novelizations and continuations look intriguing, but they all cost way too much.  The links are to Amazon, if anyone richer than me wants to throw some affiliate money my way.

Here are the adultish novelizations - note there are none I could find for Part 6 and the 2010 reboot.

Additionally, there are several short, young adult adaptations.

A 1991 short story anthology Nightmares on Elm Street: Freddy Krueger's Seven Sweetest Dreams edited by Martin K. Greenberg,

Freddy Kreuger's Tales of Terror was a young adult series with stories hosted by Freddy, published by Tor from 1994-1995.

Black Flame published several continuing stories.