Thursday, November 29, 2018

Author Overview: Sidney Williams

Sidney Williams came in at the tail end of the horror paperback boom, writing several titles for Pinnacle.  As the adult market dried up and the young adult books grew, he published more titles under the name Michael August for Zebra, two in the Scream series.  All of his titles are currently available in ebook, and he has resumed writing horror fiction.  Find him at

Azarius (1989): In the small town of Ainsley, Louisiana, a terrible evil has been let loose--a deadly force that has already brutally murdered a priest and is now moving in on a young victim.

Night Brothers (1989): The drought-stricken Louisiana town of Bristol Springs was turning into a living grave. Little by little its desperate citizens were watching their dreams die. But the terrible blight was bringing something else to life--a deadly horror far worse than any earthly bane. A vampire as old as time with powers greater than mere legend, she summoned the beasts of the night to serve her foul will. Fierce, relentless, they made humans their unnatural prey, leaving them helpless victims of her endless blood-thirst...

Blood Hunter (1990): Legends abound about hideous creatures who live in the swamps near Aimsley, Louisiana. They’ve picked up the name Mormo, and they are said to be terrifying. but Jag Walker and Debra Blane discover the creatures are at the root of a larger conspiracy as they begin a search for her missing brother. As they unravel ancient secrets and modern evil, they find they must confront a nightmare.

Gnelfs (1991): What seem to be nightmares about Heaven's favorite cartoon characters soon lead Gab to a stranger paranormal conspiracy focused on revenge. She's faced with a living nightmare in which friends die and dangerous sorcery is at work.

When Darkness Falls (1992): Unconcerned by the series of wolf attacks that have terrorized the community, a teacher takes a job in Petittville and meets Charlie, a shy misfit who believes the wolf attacks are part of an ancient legend.

Deadly Delivery (1993, as Michael August): As summer approaches, Derek Cliver and his friends join a mail-order club that allows them to create their own monsters and "dispose" of their enemies, but The Terror Club turns frighteningly real.

New Year's Evil (1994, as Michael August): Determined to correct the behavior of Bran Hatten, the school bully, Tess Ryan and her friends at Penbrook High ask Charisse Bienville, rumored to be a witch, to help--and are shocked when bad things start happening.

The Gift (as Michael August): When you're down in the dumps, there's no better pick-me-up than a surprise present. That's why Veronica Mallory's father has just bought her a dollhouse that looks incredibly life-like. At first, Veronica is thrilled with the ancient treasure . . . until it starts having a violent effect on anyone who comes near.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

TM Gallery: Men's Adventure Paperbacks

Apache 4: The Death Train by William M. James
Paperback from AbeBooks

Chant by David Cross
John Sinclair, a masterful black belt warrior-for-hire, is pursued by Bai, the sensei who originally trained John and perhaps the only man who can stop him 
Paperback from Amazon

The Executioner 370: Dark Alliance
From the lazy heat of Miami to the steamy Colombian jungles, Mack Bolan is on the trail of a missing American journalist. The woman was close to exposing the key players in a dangerous drug cartel, and Bolan figures they snatched her to protect their illicit empire. Each step pulls him further into an unforgiving world of guns and violence until he himself is captured.

The vicious drug czar responsible for Bolan's plight reveals a carefully planned conspiracy that could topple a government…and an entire nation. Tortured and beaten, Bolan is only seconds away from escape…or death. His only advantage: the enemy isn't banking on the unrelenting force known as The Executioner. 

Monday, November 26, 2018

TM Gallery: VHS Cover

I Drink Your Blood
After consuming rabies-infected meat pies, an LSD-addicted hippie cult goes on a vicious murdering rampage! 
DVD from Amazon

Slaughter Hotel
This Italian exploitation horror cult classic stars a terminally creepy doctor (Klaus Kinski) at an asylum for suicidal and disturbed women. There's a team of strange doctors, unprofessional nurses and even a hunky gardener at these ladies' service to help them recover. In classic Giallo form director Fernando Di Leo introduces a mad-raving murderer, typically dressed in black and using the institution's old-fashioned armory decoration as slashing tools. Margaret Lee and Rosalba Neri are among the frequently unclothed cast, and there are decapitations, crossbow bolts in the eye, and some fairly explicit sex. This gory slasher flick with more than its fair share of nudity is a Euro-grindhouse gem. 
DVD from Amazon

Scream Street

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Supernaturals (1986)

The Supernaturals (1986)

Soldiers wander around in the woods and get chased by confederate ghost zombies.  Has both Nichelle Nichols and LeVar Burton, but it doesn't help.

On Amazon Video.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tie-Ins: Planet of the Apes

Starting with the 1963 novel La Planète des singes, Planet of the Apes includes three sets of films, a TV series, a cartoon, and tons of comics.  The below are novelizations unless otherwise noted.

1963: La Planète des singes by Pierre Boulle (basis for Planet of the Apes)

The original film series:
1970: Beneath the Planet of the Apes by Michael Avallone
1973: Escape from the Planet of the Apes by Jerry Pournelle
Collected in Planet of the Apes Omnibus 1
1974: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes by John Jakes
1973: Battle for the Planet of the Apes by David Gerrold
Collected in Planet of the Apes Omnibus 2
2011: Conspiracy of the Planet of the Apes by Andrew E. C. Gaska - untold tales illustrated novel
2017: Tales from the Forbidden Zone edited by Rich Handley and Jim Beard - anthology of stories set in the original series and TV show
2018: Death of the Planet of the Apes by Andrew E.C. Gaska - untold tales of Charlton Heston

Planet of the Apes TV Series novelizations by George Alec Effinger
1974: Planet of the Apes: Man the Fugitive - The Good Seeds and The Cure
1974: Planet of the Apes #2: Escape to Tomorrow - The Surgeon and The Deception
1974: Planet of the Apes #3: Journey into Terror - The Horse Race and The Legacy
1974: Planet of the Apes #4: Lord of the Apes - The Gladiators and The Tyrant
Collected in Planet of the Apes Omnibus 3

Return to the Planet of the Apes cartoon series by William Arrow
1976: Return to the Planet of the Apes 1: Visions from Nowhere - Flames of Doom, Escape from Ape City, and The Unearthly Prophecy
1976: Return to the Planet of the Apes 2: Escape from Terror Lagoon - Tunnel of Fear, Lagoon of Peril, and Terror on Ice Mountain
1976: Return to the Planet of the Apes 3: Man, The Hunted Animal -  River of Flames, Screaming Wings, and Trail to the Unknown
Collected in Planet of the Apes Omnibus 4

2001: Planet of the Apes by William T. Quick - novelization of 2001 movie version, collected in Omnibus 2 above
2001: Planet of the Apes Junior Novelization by John Whitman
2002: Colony by William T. Quick: Continuing story
2002: Force by John Whitman: prequel
2002: Resistance by John Whitman: a prequel to Force
2002: The Fall by William T. Quick
Two more novels were planned but not produced: Extinction and Rule

Rise of the Planet of the Apes - the only film to not have a novelization
2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm by Greg Cox - prequel
2014: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes by Alex Irvine
2017: War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations by Greg Cox - prequel
2017: War for the Planet of the Apes by Greg Cox
2018: Caesar's Story by Greg Keyes- spinoff

Thursday, November 15, 2018

TM Gallery: Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks

Prisoners of Lesbos
Paperback from AbeBooks

Good Time Girl by Don Kingery
Easy living, easy loving...until a girl of easy virtue screamed rape
Paperback from AbeBooks

The Beach Set by Fern Burke
Mimi knew little about life. but all there was to know about love. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

TM Gallery: Pulp Heroes

The Spider: The Devil’s Paymaster
An unseen weapon that drives men mad . . . A green gas which turns smiling faces into leering skulls . . . A master criminal who can assume at will any known identity . . . Add to these separate menaces three big-game hunters sworn to destroy the Spider -- and you have a situation in which the brilliance and courage of Dick Wentworth will thrill you as never before! At the merest whim of Crime's new overlord, citizens writhe in baffling, agonizing death! Wholesale threatened, officials threw up their hands in failure! Could the Spider, himself grievously wounded and trapped, remove the scarlet stigma attached to America's proud symbol of Freedom - The Statue of Liberty? 

The Phantom Detective Winter 1953: The Staring Killer by Robert Wallace
Back issue from AbeBooks

The Shadow: The Chinese Disks

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Tie-Ins: One Step Beyond

One Step Beyond was anthology show that ran from 1959 to 1961, supposed recreations of clearly non-existent cases of the paranormal.  Psychic predictions were a mainstay.  Lightweight and clearly hokum, but with some charm if you're in the right mood.

There were two collections and a novel based on episodes:

1959: One Step Beyond: Supernatural Stories from American T.V. retold by Lenore Bredeson
1960: More from One Step Beyond retold by Lenore Bredeson
1964: The World Grabbers by Paul W. Fairman - "A Dramatic, Suspenseful Novel Inspired By The Popular TV Program: ONE STEP BEYOND"

Monday, November 12, 2018

TM Gallery: VHS Covers

On Amazon Video

Project: Kill

The Devonsville Terror
Dr. Worley investigates a 300-year-old witch's curse in the New England town of Devonsville. Three liberated, assertive women move into town, which angers the bigoted, male-dominated town fathers. One of the women is a reincarnation of the witch, who proceeds to exact revenge on the town males. 

Sunday, November 11, 2018

TM Gallery: Pulp

Thrilling Adventures, September 1941

Fantastic Novels Magazine May 1950

Back issue from AbeBooks

Thrilling Mystery

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Schoolhouse by Lee Duigon

by Lee Duigon
1988, Pinnacle

The best part of haunted house stories is the unveiling of the evil history of the site.  The second best part is when the spirits influence the living, possessing them with madness.  The dumbest part is the actual ghost, because ghosts are always stupid.

Good thing here that there are no ghosts, just alien brain worms.  This is spelled out pretty early, so no big reveal on this.

The titular schoolhouse is built on the site of a meteor crash.  An armored husk buried underground sticks worm tentacles up people's noses, causing them to go insane and create a separate psychic projection.  This is not explained well, and the better for it.

The actual prose is a bit clumsy and juvenile, but I got used to it after a couple chapters.  The school has always had a high turnover rate, and there is a little bit of the cursed history of the location.  The best parts involve the teachers who slowly lose their minds.

A woman becomes violently possessive of her former sancho, who in turn is obsessed with losing weight.  The Mandingo reading nurse flips out after seeing naked ghost children, and the school bully is getting more violent than usual.  The gym teacher cusses at the kids and makes them do push-ups, so he was clearly unaffected.

I like the build up, the slowly mounting insanity, so I was especially disappointed when things just kind of stopped there when the alien gets set on fire with floor wax.  Duigon seemed to try to make up for it a little in the epilogue, but this is a strictly low-stakes book.  If it wasn't for the cussing, it could pass for R.L. Stine.

If this was a proper ghost story, it could have kept the low-stakes in exchange for atmosphere, but when you're going with alien brain worms you need to ramp it up a bit.

Special thanks to Ron Clinton (@ron_clinton) for the book!  Follow him on twitter and read his article Collecting The Macabre: 30 Years of Pursuing Books of Wickedness & Wonder in Strange Stories

I wouldn't bother with the paperback on Abebooks unless the prices have moved a digit or two since this writing.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Tie-Ins: The Equalizer

The Equalizer was an 80s TV series about a former secret agent turned vengeance-for-hire-an-episode operator.  Seemed stuffy to me as a kid, but I might enjoy it more now.  Like everything else from the 80s there was reboot movie, this one with Denzel Washington.

There were three tie-ins to the original TV series written by David Deutsch:

1987: Equalizer
1988: To Even the Odds
1988: Blood and Wine

Two more recent books written by series creator Michael Sloane:

2014: The Equalizer - novelization
2018: Killed in Action - novel reboot

Monday, November 5, 2018

TM Gallery: VHS Covers

Driller Killer
An artist slowly goes insane from struggling to pay his bills, work on his paintings and care for his two female roommates. This leads him to the streets of New York after dark where he randomly kills derelicts with a power drill. 
On Amazon Video

Born Invincible

Bloodfight aka Uppercut Man
In order to prove himself to his girlfriend's father, a young man takes up boxing professionally. The father becomes his trainer and a sleazy promoter gets interested in him, but the road to the title won't be easy. 

Sunday, November 4, 2018

TM Gallery: Science Fiction

Dwellers in Space by Van Reed

Echo X by Ben Barzman
Paperback from AbeBooks

Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said by Philip K. Dick
Jason Taverner—world-famous talk show host and man-about-town—wakes up one day to find that no one knows who he is—including the vast databases of the totalitarian government. And in a society where lack of identification is a crime, Taverner has no choice but to go on the run with a host of shady characters, including crooked cops and dealers of alien drugs. But do they know more than they are letting on? And just how can a person’s identity be erased overnight? 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Bangkok Revenge (2012)

Bangkok Revenge (2012)

Boy's parents are killed, boy grows up being trained in the martial arts, boy seeks revenge.  There might have been an interesting angle in the lead being a compassionless sociopath, but I just couldn't, it's so badly put together.  Bad performances, bad direction, bad editing.  The real shame is that the action choreography looks like it was probably really good, and John Foo has some moves, but they're completely lost in poor camera angles and incompetent editing.

On Amazon video.

Friday, November 2, 2018

TM Gallery: Vintage Sleaze Paperbacks

Lana by Joan Ellis
The Face of an Angel...the Morals of an Alley Cat
Deprived and Depraved...Lana Became the Youngest Member of the World’s Oldest Profession
Paperback from AbeBooks

Willing Women by Connie Sellers

Sex in the Shadows by Randy Salem

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Darker Than You Think by Jack Williamson

Darker Than You Think
by Jack Williamson
1948 (expanded from a 1940 shorter version)

Drunken reporter Will Barbee falls under the spell of witch reporter April Bell after an elderly explorer dies after announcing a mysterious box contains the means to fight an ancient evil.

Bell and Barbee have the genes of an ancient exterminated race of witches, and as such can kind of astrally project themselves in animal forms to cause fatal accidents by manipulating probabilities, exactly like the Scarlet Witch.  Yes, April is a redhead.

April is trying to get Barbee to kill those protecting the box, while Barbee spends way too many pages wondering if it's all a dream or an hallucination, which is especially ineffective given that there is no dream-like atmosphere at all, what with April talking (while in wolf form) about carbon atoms and Duke University studies.

Near the end things pick up a little, with some paranoia about how a race of half-witches may be secretly controlling the world's institutions, but that goodwill is immediately wasted by the rushed, goofy ending.

Not sure what the big deal is with the contents of the box, seeing how the half-witches can be killed by conventional means.  Barbee dies, and hangs around in astral form in a sequence that makes no sense, is now a vampire, the kind of vampires that are really ghost pterodactyls that don't drink blood, and he can grab the box and throw it into the sea.  Something a human thug could have done for like $20. 

Urania always has deceptively honest covers

I haven't read the original magazine version, but this felt padded out to novel length with incessant adjectives.  Other than the paranoia section this doesn't approach horror, and spends a scifi length of time explaining away the supernatural.

Kindle ebook from Amazon