Thursday, July 23, 2020

Phoenix Force: Survival Force by Gar Wilson

Phoenix Force: Survival Force
by Gar Wilson (Mike Linaker)
in Heroes Book I
1991 Worldwide Library/Gold Eagle

The Phoenix Force team rescue the Secretary of State from radical terrorist The Hammer of Allah.  Barely going through the motions - the team goes to a Middle Eastern location, shoot some Uzis, etc.  No characterizations, plot, or good action.  I very much liked Linaker's horror nasties and Bodie the Stalker western series, but 90s Gold Eagle product is a bit rough going.

Saturday, July 18, 2020

Assault on the Wayne (1971)

Assault on the Wayne (1971)

Made for TV thriller with Leonard Nimoy as a troubled, mean-spirited Commander and Kennan Wynn as a drunk, with a plot about stealing anti-ballistic technology that ends almost as soon as it starts.  I love Nimoy, but I grew up on Nimoy the narrator.  It may be years of typecasting as Spock stuck in my head, but he doesn't quite pull off intense human emotion.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind: Suspicious Deaths, Mysterious Murders, and Bizarre Disappearances in UFO History by Nick Redfern

Close Encounters of the Fatal Kind: Suspicious Deaths, Mysterious Murders, and Bizarre Disappearances in UFO History
by Nick Redfern
2014, New Page Books

This is my first, and as of this writing only, Redfern I've finished, and it came across just as I imagined - a broad review of a particular topic with no original research.  The topic in question - UFO related deaths, a field that is so thin there isn't even enough made up stuff to fill the book.  Most of it is padding with natural deaths, or deaths only tangentially related to UFOs.

I've seen breakdowns of deaths related to a phenomena and whether they're more common than expected, form JFK assassination witnesses to Wrestlemania participants to Poltergeist film actors.  Everyone dies, it's the proximity in time and the closeness of the subject which gives it an air of the inexplicable. This Venn diagram may help:

The subjects here have increasingly tangential relationships with UFOs.  A classic example is bringing up the curse of the Mothman, a phenomena which is UFO adjacent at best.  In the list of those deaths - there was a movie based on the book.  The movie had a soundtrack.  One of the musician's friends died.  Of natural causes.  With degrees of separation like that, anyone could be included in this book.

Then there's the question of proximity.  Redfern repeats the story of UFO enthusiast Jackie Gleason supposedly getting top secret information from President Nixon, implying that this led to his death.  In 1987.  At least 13 years later.  At age 71. A near 300 pound diabetic with a heart condition who smoked four packs of day and drank a quart of scotch a night.

Redfern must be trolling at this point, including the one person whose longevity is suspicious.

Costs to much at Amazon in ebook, audiobook, and paperback.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Predator: Forever Midnight by John Shirley

Predator: Forever Midnight
by John Shirley
2006, DH Press

Space Marines visiting an alien colony get attacked by Predators, who have been using the planet as their hunting ground for centuries.  In addition to a race of alien telepaths who were stranded there, there is a culture of descendants of Brits kidnapped in 1804.

Some good work with the alien ecosystem.  The planet Midnight is locked in perpetual day, with a hard canopy of trees on top, rain forest like tangle of greenery in the middle, and tunnels leading to underground rivers below.  Same with the creatures: grubs with acidic digestive systems used as weapons, creatures who stun their prey with humming, flying piranhas, etc.

The Predators, or Hish,  themselves get some elaboration.  They are sequential hermaphrodites, changing sex back and forth from male to female.  They have a "kill gland" that causes agrressive behavior and berserker rages.  Much of Hish culture derives from channeling this aggression.  Their culture is centered around hunting and combat, of course, and they enslave other alien races for their advanced technology.

Some good action, and would have made better source material than the last couple of Predator movies.  The text dips into juvenile one-liners at times, but I did just read a tie-in novel for a Schwarzenegger film after all.

Paperback from AbeBooks, currently at outrageous prices.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Creepers (1993)

Creepers (1993) aka Crawlers aka Contamination .7 aka Troll 3
Directed by Fabrizio Laurenti and Joe D'Amato

Radioactive waste turns tree roots into killers, kind of a less rapey version of Evil Dead.

Low budget science fiction horror which combines the nadir of Canadian tax shelter cinema and Troll II era low point of Italian exploitation.  The setting is Canadian as hell.  Small town despair looms large, with the town prostitute playing heavily into the plot, and most of the characters are drunk, if not the actors.  Bad performances and special effects, but there's a certain earnestness you can't help but admire, reminding me of other regional film making masterpieces like Time Chasers.

The Italian connection surprised me - I wasn't familiar with Laurenti, but it looks like he hasn't done much else (though I need to check out Hasselhoff and Linda Blair in Witchery).

Available on blu-ray from Amazon

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Marvel Year One Overview

A lot of firsts this first year:
First Golden Age reboot with Sub-Mariner's return
First supervillain team up.
First face turn with the Sub-mariner.
First solo spin-off.
First retcon.
Multiple character retoolings.

The first year of Marvel superhero comics feel more firmly rooted in the monster/horror/scifi comics of the era.  Alien invasions, giant monsters, alien invasions of giant monsters.  The Ant-Man is even directly spun out of one of these comics.

You can tell Stan Lee is used to writing two or more stories per issue, as with the monster comics.  Some of the titles, like Strange Tales, still share space with other stories, and the single titles like FF and Hulk are written like 2-3 separate tales put together, either as acts or distinct narratives.

It improves by the end of the year, but the artwork is nothing to write home about.  They don't even bother with backgrounds for most panels.  We get a little bit of Kirby going nuts later in the FF run, but we ain't seen nothing yet.

Here are some of the recurring themes we'll be checking in on:

Marvel Heroes are a shower of jerks.

The Fantastic Four casually melt planes or wrap cabs around traffic lights as a goof, and they don't even seem to like each other.  Spider-Man has a way to go on his redemption arc.  Pym is decent enough, depending on whether you mind thousands of ants being enslaved, but at least he hasn't been responsible for the deaths of billions yet.  Blake's probably the most heroic and should definitely hold out for Sif.  We have not reached later levels of Marvel jerkitude with Stark or Murdock,

Repeated Storylines

I found out today that Stan Lee used alliteration in character names to help him remember them, and he still messed them up.  So it's possible he didn't purposely cannibalize his own plots, he just forgot he used them.

I'm not talking about alien invasions, giant monsters, and communist saboteurs, but more specific plotlines.  The only one in year one, and it's a big one, is the "bad guys impersonate the good guys and commit crime so that the public turns against the good guys to prevent them from stopping the bad guys".  This happens with the Skrulls in FF and to the Human Torch again by the Wizard.  And it will happen again.

Another reoccurring story line: A villain hires our heroes to star as themselves in a Hollywood movie so when they film an action scene the villain tries to attack the hero for realsies.  Namor does it to the FF this year, and later the Green Goblin does it to Spidey, and I think it shows up years later for Hercules.

Time Travel

We have two comics with travels in time, though none involve paradoxes or someone trying to change events.

Hollow Earth

Just the Mole Man so far, and not much of a Shaver Mystery influence.