Thursday, February 28, 2019

Orphans by Jean Tennant

by Jean Tennant (Jean Simon)
1992 Zebra


Southern Gothic Scanners - you can have that idea for free.  Because Jean Tennant sure didn't do anything with it.

A hippie in a commune gives birth - when there's more than one child, she flips out and tries to smother them.  She's stopped by her boyfriend, who accidentally kills her and goes on the run.   Strong start, so let's put on those brakes.

Rae finds out she has a twin sister, Josie.  These are the orphans, in the sense that two adult women who were adopted in infancy and had a living parent at the time can be called orphans.  Rae brings the boyfriend she doesn't like to visit Josie, who lives in a mansion with a boyfriend she doesn't like.  Josie has undefined psychic powers and a plan.

Nothing happens.  They go to a winter festival and crack ice with their minds.  Nothing happens.  People have off page sex with each other.  Nothing happens.  A couple people die from psychic brain melts, there's a couple reveals, and nothing happened.

There are a couple of surprises - well, it surprised me that there was a third kid since I didn't read the blurb or look at the cover.  Kind of kills things knowing in advance, especially since the reveal is the only thing approaching horror or interest in the whole book.  Josie's plan was ill-defined, there's something about cults and drug induced psychic powers that goes nowhere in favor of a subplot about the housekeeper finding a new job.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

TV Obscura: Charo TV Special

The Charo Show, Unsold pilot 1976

Just found out she was the child bride of Xavier Cugat.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Tie-Ins: Hellraiser

Hellraiser was based on the 1986 Clive Barker novella Hellbound Heart, with a sequel The Scarlet Gospels published in 2015.  There are some character crossovers to other Barker works.

The film series is still going on with variable levels of horrible, and there have a been a series of comics.  There are no direct novelizations, but there are a few general Hellraiser world tie-ins not produced by Barker.

  • 2009: Hellbound Hearts anthology
  • 2016: Sherlock Holmes and the Servants of Hell by Paul Kane
  • 2018: Hellraiser: The Toll by Mark Alan Miller (set between Barker's books)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Reidar Syvertsen titles on Kindle Unlimited

A huge number of men's adventure books from Reider Syvertsen, aka Ryder Syversen, aka John Sievert, aka Ryder Stacy, have come up on Kindle Unlimited recently.  These include titles from the series CADS, Mystic Rebel, and Doomsday Warrior.

Click here for the titles

Click here to try out Kindle Unlimited

Amazon Newsstand

Magazines are ideal for digital delivery, which makes it downright embarrassing that Amazon can't do it properly.

The shopping works fine.  Magazines can be bought individually or through an annual subscription.  Note that not all magazines are monthly, so pay attention to the individual price under the subscription price - I've seen a couple that are more expensive per issue with a subscription.

In general, in order to read comics or magazines on a tablet you either have a huge tablet, really good eyesight, pan and zoom constantly, or you read the title a third at a time holding the tablet in landscape mode.  The last works best for me - you occasionally have to slide back up to read the columns, but you don't have to constantly adjust things or squint.  This works on other apps just fine - as outlined here.

Newsstand magazines are not available on the Kindle for PC app.  I won't even try it on my phone.  On the Kindle app on the Kindle Fire, there is not an option to read in landscape mode.  If you turn your tablet, it shows two pages in portrait mode, making things smaller.  The images can be zoomed a maximum of x2, which is still too small for my old-ass eyes and requires sliding the page around constantly.

Purely by chance I discovered that if you double tap on a piece of text it changes to a text and picture flowable format which reads like a regular Kindle title.  This mostly works, if you're not concerned with layout.  Magazines read on the original Kindle's this way as well.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Night Sounds by Warner Lee

Night Sounds
by Warner Lee (B.W. Battin)
1992, Pocket

"Immmmaaaagine the huuuuunger!"

A commercial artist is the sole survivor of a plane crash, and heals two broken legs at his beach house.  He's tormented by visions or hallucinations, those around him fall to Omen style accidents, and a giant scaled creature stalks the town eating animals and people.  He's assisted by a psychic schoolteacher who has visions and can detect lies.

I went in reading this with no idea where it was going, and things stayed that way through most of the book.  Unfortunately, I think Battin did the same writing it.  Writing by the seat of the pants does wonders for getting original horror material, until you try to wrap things up at the end.

Dead Grandma Exposition comes out to explain things, then the evil stuff explains things, and there's exposition-offs and contract negotiations for the last tenth of the book, the end.

Battin uses the time honored method of people repeating scenes back to each other to fill pages.  Someone sees hallucination, someone else sees it, the psychic sees them seeing it, they discuss what they did or didn't see and have interior monologues about, etc.

There's a lot of examples of one of my pet peeves, characters relating things happening to other horror references: it's like something out of a movie; I expected Rod Serling to come out; this must be how werewolves feel.

I appreciated how the story didn't fit into any standard horror cliches, but that goodwill got flushed down the toilet when the conclusion is just page after page of rule-establishment.  The hallucinations (dogmen walking through walls, a spider eating a cat, etc) were interesting, but more cartoonish than horrifying.

This appears to have been Battin's last book of the horror boom, not publishing again that I can find until 2015.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

TV Obscura: The Magic Planet

The Magic Planet
ABC March 1983
TV Special

Canadian Olympic ice skater Toller Cranston in a scifi/fantasy concept piece.  Narration by a mumbling William Shatner, and Ann Jillian is in there somewhere.  I won't blame you for not having much patience with this - if you only watch one, try the third video.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tie-Ins: Universal Monsters

The Universal movie monster series were perhaps the first example of both convoluted sequels and a shared cinematic universe.  After sixty years Universal tried again with the seemingly scuttled Dark Universe series of awful horror movies.

Here are some standalone novelizations:

1935: Bride of Frankenstein by Phillip J. Riley
1954: Creature from the Black Lagoon by Russell Fearn as Vargo Statten
1980: Creature from the Black Lagoon  by E.K. Leyton (Walter Harris)
1980: Dracula's Daughter by E.K. Leyton
2010: Wolfman by Jonathan Maberry (remake)

In the 70s and 80s there were multiple tie ins for young readers, not so much novelizations as stills of the film with a brief synopsis.  Those will be covered at another time

In 1977 Berkley Medallion released several novelizations under the name Carl Dreadstone:

  • Creature of the Black Lagoon by Walter Harris (reportedly different from the 1980 version for Star)
  • The Bride of Frankenstein by Ramsey Campbell
  • The Mummy by unknown
  • The Werewolf of London by Walter Harris
  • The Wolfman by Ramsey Campbell

Universal Monsters Trilogy (original monster mash stories)

  • 1998: Return of the Wolf Man by Jeff Rovin
  • 2000: The Devil's Brood by David Jacobs
  • 2001: The Devil's Night by David Jacobs

The Universal Studios Monster Book Series is for young readers and has a group of kids facing monsters who come to life at the Universal Studios theme park.  They were written by Larry Mike Garmon

  • 2001: Return of Evil: Dracula
  • 2001: The Wolf Man
  • 2001: Frankenstein: Anatomy of Terror
  • 2002: Book of the Dead: The Mummy
  • 2002: Creature from the Black Lagoon: Black Water Horror
  • 2002: Bride of Frankenstein

Dark Horse had a prose novel series:
  • 2006: Dracula: Asylum by Paul Witcover
  • 2006 The Shadow of Frankenstein Stefan Petrucha
  • 2006: Creature from the Black Lagoon: Time's Black Lagoon Paul Di Filippo
  • 2006: The Mummy: Dark Resurrection Michael Paine
  • 2007: Bride of Frankenstein: Pandora's Bride by Elizabeth Hand
  • 2007: The Wolfman: Hunter's Moon by Michael Jan Friedman

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Satan's Mummy by Henry Price

Satan's Mummy
Mummy Horror Series 1
by Henry Price (Garrett Cook)
Dynatox Ministries International 2014


A heart-eating mummy and his rapist dwarf assistant capture and kill women, bringing them back to life to torment them further.

The cover is a riff on the Frankenstein Horror Series, and the story is pure grindhouse.  I know that was a thing a few years ago for everything to be "grindhouse", but this actually succeeds, invoking Bloodsucking Freaks and Frankenstein's Castle of Freaks, instead of just photoshopping paper folds in the cover.

Three in a series, will check out the second at least.  The third seems to be paperback only at the moment.

Kindle ebook available from Amazon.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

TV Obscura: Tiny Tim Australian TV Special 1970

Tiny Tim Australian TV Special 1970

Fun fact: Tiny Tim buried his stillborn child under a gravestone that read: "It"

TV Obscura: Casablanca

NBC 1983
5 episodes

Scatman Crothers is Sam to David Soul's Rick.  Also with Ray Liotta.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Tie-Ins: The Persuaders

Yes, it was a horrible show, and every episode was almost identical, but I still love the Persuaders from the sheer onslaught of charm.  Roger Moore and Tony Curtis are two rich guys who solve crime or something.

There are three novelizations by Frederick E. Smith


Image result for Frederick E. Smith persuaders

Book One

book cover of Persuaders... Again

Book Two aka The Persuaders...Again

Image result for Frederick E. Smith persuaders

Book Three aka Persuaders at Large

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Dark Seeker by K.W. Jeter

Dark Seeker
by K.W. Jeter
Tor 1987


This is my first Jeter, and I was impressed with the literary writing style, psychedelic without slipping into nonsense.  Makes me long to read something he writes that has a good story.

The concept is strong.  Some students, led by a cult like figure, take an experimental drug that creates a hive mind.  Some members of the group commit a series of murders, and years later the members are either on the run or on parole.  On member, Mike Tyler, is trying to move on with his life, taking medication to quiet the effects of the original drug.

Another former member has evidently kidnapped Tyler's kid, who Tyler believed to have been dead for years.  Tyler stops his meds to reconnect with the hive mind and rescue his son.

The book has a promising premise, and I'm a sucker for stories that reveal more backstory as the main story moves forward.  The promise was unfounded, and by about a third of the way in the story has revealed pretty much everything it intends to.  The past murders aren't explained, and the present plot starts and stops with Tyler's kid getting snatched.  I was prepared to forgive the lengthy exposition and internal dialogue in exchange for something happening, but it never did.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Paperback from AbeBooks.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

TV Obscura: One of the Boys

One of the Boys
1982 NBC
13 episodes

Scatman Crothers and Mickey Rooney move out of the nursing home and move in with college students Dana Carvey and Nathan Lane.  Also starring Meg Ryan.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Tie-Ins: Within These Walls

While on the subject of novelizations of women in prison soap operas, Within These Walls was a British series running from 1974 to 1978.

At least two books were written by Felicity Douglas around 1975.  There may be more, but these are obscure as hell.

Within These Walls
The Governor

Monday, February 4, 2019