Sunday, August 30, 2020

Series Showdown: Plantation vs Black Roots

 It's a plantation gothic showdown in the Miscellaneous division, cause I can't stomach reading 14 of these in given decade.  Plantation got surprisingly compelling with the melodramatic, soap opera aspect, but Black Roots is just plain trash.  No contest - Black Roots moves up!

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Attention, The Kids Are Watching (1978)

 Attention enfants regardent (1978).jpg

Some rich kids accidentally kill their babysitter while their parents are on vacation.  They eat a lot of candy and avoid grown ups, until scummy drifter Alain Delon invites himself in.  Not funny like Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead is supposed to be funny, and not suspenseful and creepy like The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane.  Not much of anything, unless you like to watch Delon being a slob.

Unusual for a French film, there is no child sex, going so far as a having a scene with Delon pointedly refusing to have sex with a child.  There were such close similarities, I looked up the source material to see if this influenced Little Girl or vice versa, to find that The Children Are Watching and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane were both written by Laird Koenig just four years apart.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Black Brute by Robert Tralins

Black Brute (aka Black Stud)
by Robert Trailins
1969 Lancer Books

Black Brute: Robert Tralins: Books


1825, South Carolina.  Slave breeder Jeremy Black and his craven, under-endowned brother-in-law Haroun Weens, buy the African prince Brutus during their usual shipment of under-aged sex slaves.  Jeremy literally bets the farm against Haroun that Brutus won't have sex with his mother and wife.  This goes well for no one, and the short book ends horrifically with dismemberment and hog feeding.

It feels like Tralins had a list of pervs and fetishes next to his typewriter and checked them off as he went: interracial sex, prostitution, sexual slavery, adultery, voyeurism, exhibitionism, lesbianism, rape, child rape, bondage, and incest, oh, the incest.  So much incest.  The short reason for this is because Mandingo had it, the same reason this book has pit fighting and a plantation owner who can't sleep with his own wife because she's White.  Although, I'm beginning to suspect that the Plantation Gothic genre may just be a delivery system for incest porn.

There are different ways that exploitation presents atrocities.  There's a "just the facts" approach, just laying it out as historical evidence.  The prologue of Black Brute, in which it claims it's based on actual diaries, starts with this approach, but it doesn't last.  Some books present things with mock indignation, or play up the horrific aspects along with the titillating ones.

Here, Tralins, and his characters, are just having fun with it.  Up until the end, that is.  The teenage girls straight off the slave ship are  absolutely down for it, unless Tralins wants them to scream a little bit first, but they come around.  This feels so, so much worse.

I was expecting Brutus, six foot eight and speaking eight languages, to be the hero, or at least a noble savage type.  Nope, he likes raping children as much as the slavers, giggles at shiny things, and is submissive throughout the story.

The actual sex scenes are written in a strange way for exploitation.  This isn't like a bodice ripper or erotica, where we get at least a half page of what the sex-havers are experiencing with various degrees of euphemisms.  Black Brute is crude and anatomical and barely describes the actual act: "He's got a wiener, she has boobies, and they did the sex".  The references to off-page sex are about as explicit as the actual sex scenes.

Speaking of language, this has some of the worst dialect I've ever read, almost impenetrable, with made up nonsense like "h'it" and "h'aint".  At least Tralins has the White people talking crappier English than the Black characters, which is a nice change of pace.

This is the beginning of a trilogy, which is collected in Black Roots.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Marvel Year Two: Spider-Man

...or Spiderman, or The Spiderman, this hasn't been settled yet.  Parker starts still mostly motivated by money, though not out of greed...

The Spiderman still has his agent and does a public appearance, but J. Jonah Jameson's articles hurts this career.  He saves astronaut John Jameson to improve his PR, tries to join the Fantastic Four but splits when he finds there's no pay, gets trapped by the Chameleon by the promise of profit, fights the Vulture in order to sell pictures to Now Magazine,

before finally investigating the Tinkerer out of heroic intention, or at least curiosity.  By his fourth appearance he's doing his patented "webbing up random burglars while on patrol" bit.

I don't know enough about Golden Age comics to tell how unique Spider-Man is, but he's the only Marvel hero who's poor.  The FF had financial trouble one issue, but everyone else is able to go on European vacations whenever they want, while Peter has to hustle to get a flight to Florida.  This is partially aspirational, but it's also easier to write for a rich superhero and not explain how they can fly around the world and not have a day job.

One thing that puts Spider-Man apart is the villains.  The majority of villains in other comics are rarely seen again, but I think every villain in Spider-Man so far becomes a heavy hitter, or at least a regular.

(The Amazing Spider-Man 1-7)

Collected in Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection: Great Power in paperback or Kindle

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Plantation by George McNeill

The Plantation
by George McNeill
1975 Bantam


The story of the messed up Deevers family of plantation owners.  Levon is the decadent prodigal son who sins deeper into degradation as he plots to take over the farm.  His brother Athel owns the property, and the story splits time between Levon and Athel's kids, Joleen, Lawton, and Tillman.

After a spicy first act, things settle down in the middle.  Everybody gets married, Levon works on building his financial empire, Joleen marries a Jewish abolitionist.  Bit of a drag after starting off with teen incest and mass murder.

Levon steps up his evil plans like a straight up melodrama villain, dreaming about raping Joleen and forcing her into prostitution.  I kept waiting for him to tie her to a railroad track.  Most of the plot involves getting letters of credit.

Things stay a little sleazy, with insane chronic masturbator Tillman upping the ante, but the ending wasn't as crazy as it could have been, especially since it depended on the explosive nature of parrafin for two separate dei ex machina.

Weirdly, the novel was shy on the race mixing aspects of the genre.  No Mandingo type characters, no sexualized Black men at all, and only a quick sex scene at a brothel with a Black woman.  While unsympathetic to slavery, the Black characters had a distinct NPC feel to them.

Ebook available for Kindle and audiobook from Audible at Amazon

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The Inititaion of Sarah (1978)

Carrie lite.  Two sisters go to college.  One ends up in the snooty sorority led by Morgan Fairchild, who's in a wet t-shirt for those who are into that.  The other sister ends up in the unpopular sorority which had den mother Shelley Winters, who plays against type as a drunken faded beauty queen.  Unpopular sister has psychic powers, which Winters wants to use for evil purposes.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Marvel Year Two: Thor

Dr. Blake is established as a world class genius who creates an android who is superior to humanity in every way, but it blows up before it could threaten the world like Dr. Pym's creation Ultron.  No changes to his powers, and they still haven't sorted out the exact relationship of Blake and Thor.  Asgard becomes more prominent, and we're introduced to a new feature of The Tales of Asgard.

Thor leads the way with romantic angst.  The disability angle doesn't feature much.  Instead, Jane Foster complains that he's not expressive enough with his feelings, while Blake can't act until he can convince Odin to allow him to marry a mortal.

(Journey into Mystery 88-99)

Collected in Thor Epic Collection: The God Of Thunder

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Series Showdown: Heroes

Bolanverse Three-Way Dance!  Able Team vs Phoenix Force vs Vietnam: Ground Zero

I prefer the characters and plot of Able Team to Phoenix Force, but Vietnam: Ground Zero gets the pin.  The actual action was a bit meh in all three, but Zebra Cube had the better story.  Unfortunately, I believe this installment was an outlier, but we'll know soon enough as Vietnam: Ground Zero moves on in the Men's Adventure division!

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Vietnam Ground Zero: Zebra Cube by Robert Baxter (Nicholas Cain)

Vietnam Ground Zero: Zebra Cube
by Robert Baxter (Nicholas Cain)
Published in Heroes Book I

The final Vietnam: Groud Zero installment has two story lines.  One involves a prisoner exchange in the latter days of the war, with the Special Forces team having to contend with a rogue South Vietnamese general as well as the NVA. The titular Zebra Cube is a mobile cage that imprisons notorious General Tran in a series of underground prisons.  The action is good, more of a larger scale than the blow by blow description of other men's adventure.

The other story involves one of the team's members, Cross, who was sent back to the States for his mother's burial.  He hangs out in GI bars and gets involved with a trouble Cambodian stripper.  No action for this plot, but it's definitely the stronger half.  Literary, almost poetic, and unrelentingly bleak and miserable.  Just how I like it.

The composition of the story is unusual.  The standard men's adventure parts weren't long enough to fill out the already short 150 page, and I'm assuming the subplot was a departure for the series.  I've also read that the characters were different from the rest of the series, but I haven't read the others.

I don't know why this wasn't just a straight out regular men's adventure tale - Cain was certainly capable of them.  It's like he was more interested in writing the Cross story (I was certainly more interested reading it).  There's even a sub-sub-plot of an M.P. turned writer which sniffs of autobiography, with a lengthy section of that character's writing that feels like a fragment from an unfinished work.

I look forward to reading more Cain, but I have the suspicion that this piece maybe gave him more freedom than his other series work.

Paperback from AbeBooks

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Reflections of Murder (1974)

Made for TV remake of Diabolique, notable for Sam Waterston playing a complete and utter bastard.  His wife and his mistress plot his murder, with the wife becoming unhinged after the body goes missing.  Some lesbian overtones with Tuesday Weld, which are evidently more explicit in the book.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Marvel Year Two: Ant-Man and the Wasp

A few changes to Ant-Man, maybe the only for a while.  We learn of his first mental breakdown, when his first wife is killed by Communists in Hungary.  He also teams up with the Wasp, a young socialite who vows to fight crime after the death of her father.  For a while, anyway

A charming, man-crazy pest, or stalking sexual harasser.  Let history be the judge.  Wasp is described as too young but technically an adult, so I'm guessing college age.  Don't know how old Pym is supposed to be, but he's all strictly business and not getting involved in an age-inappropriate romance.

Also, Pym is evidently supposed to be hunky.  I'm sure young girls in the 60s had pin-ups on their walls.

Soon after he's joined by the Wasp, Pym starts using his growth formula to become Giant-Man, with an effective limit of twelve feet.  Unless there are some surprises, we might not cover the duo for a while until something gets interesting - at least interesting for the Pyms.

(Tales to Astonish 39-50)

Collected in Ant-Man/Giant-Man Epic Collection: The Man in the Ant Hill, available from Amazon

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Night of Terror (1972)

Night of Terror (1972)

Mobsters, led by Chuck Connors, terrorize two daycare workers who witness a murder.  One is put in a wheelchair, and Martin Balsam is hired as a bodyguard/physical therapist.  Managed to watch this one twice in one week before realizing I'd already seen it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Marvel Year Two: Fantastic Four

Things start to get postmodern.  Lee and Kirby appear as characters who create comics based on the "real life" exploits of the FF.  I think this later this develops into Marvels Comics.  This leads into a  discussion responding to fan mail calling Sue a useless girl, showing that misogynist toxic fanboys predated the internet.  Reed jumps up on his soapbox and defends her, though saying that women are important because Abraham Lincoln had a mother doesn't quite have the impact he was intending.  It was at this point that SJWs and their virtue signalling destroyed childhoods forever, and no comic book was ever written again.

It's about ethics in gaming journalism!

Sarcasm, of course - comics were always political and dealt with social issues.  As with all social progress, one step forward, two steps back.  I'm guessing this give Stan an idea to flesh out Sue's character, and this is where she starts simpering, between doing the cleaning and stenography for the group, or just standing around looking pretty.

We're introduced to the Impossible Man, who's the Mister Mxyzptlk/Bat-Mite/Great Gazoo type character for Marvel.  His race's power is to instantly evolve to avoid danger, basically the same as Darwin decades later.

Johnny is 16 in 1963, and they keep adding powers, the latest is that he can raise his body temperature which increases his physical strength.  They gave up on Johnny's secret identity almost right away.

Reed got his white hair from fighting Nazis.  Thing can lift 5 tons.  He's dropped the "bah" and has a feud with Yancy Street but hasn't picked up his catchphrases quite yet.

(Fantastic Four 10-21, Annual 1; Strange Tales 104-115, Annual 2)

Available in:
Fantastic Four Epic Collection 1
Fantastic Four Epic Collection 2
The Human Torch & The Thing: Strange Tales - The Complete Collection 

Monday, August 3, 2020

Boyette’s Citrus Attraction

The best roadside attractions are equal parts Walt Disney and Ed Gein.  Here in 2020 you don't find much that isn't quirky or creepy on purpose, but screw it, this looks like a fun place.

Been enjoying the Carpetbagger's channel, check him out!