Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Sow by Tim Curran

by Tim Curran
2013 Dark Fuse

A man deals with his pregnant wife being possessed and threatening to give birth to something monstrous. Some good ideas and imagery, but the delivery was a little too up front for me, undercutting any atmosphere of menace.

Kindle ebook from Amazon

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell by Derrick Ferguson

Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell
by Derrick Ferguson
2010 PulpWork Press

Mercenary with a heart Dillon is hired to locate the Golden Bell, and ancient artifact, to unify the people of a pirate nation. I've read a couple of Ferguson's stories, including the first Dillon, but this one is on another level.

Dillon faces jetpack assassins, a feline shape shifting femme fatale, a bungee jumping lost race, and an entire army. Longer than most new pulps, Ferguson keeps up the pace throughout without getting tiresome or episodic as is the tendency for the genre.

Dillon is described by others in the story as cocky and arrogant, but he's less Ashley Williams, more Fred Williamson as far as confidence levels. The story is populated with other colorful characters and references to past adventures which give the feeling the series has gone on much longer than it has.

I think there was a reference to the 70s being 60 years ago, setting this in the near future, but all the cultural elements are contemporary, or earlier. There's some advanced technology and a little bit of the supernatural.

Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell has some of my favorite action sequences put to print. It has just enough detail to paint the picture, but gives room for your imagination to fill in the spaces. Probably the character I would most want to see on the screen.

Kindle ebook from Amazon

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Night Shoot by David Sodergren

Night Shoot
by David Sodergren

A film school crew has one day to shoot a soft-core gothic horror film in an isolated Scottish manor, as long as they're out by 8 PM. Not being able to finish the shoot, they sneak back in after nightfall and discover what was hiding in the daytime.

The "film crew in peril" setup is reminiscent of movies like Bloody Pit of Horror or Stage Fright, and a number of novels as explored in this Vault of Evil thread. The body has influences of Richard Laymon, though tightened up and fewer sock changing scenes.

As with his first novel The Forgotten Island, the third person narration has it's own unique voice, which for me could be distracting, ymmv. Excellent gore and monster work, and the characterizations remain grounded, which allows him to go over the top without getting cartoonish.

Ebook and paperback from Amazon

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

D.C. Jones and Adventure Command International by Jim Beard

D.C. Jones and Adventure Command International
by Jim Beard

Basically a novelization of these ads for 70s GI Joe..

...or Action Man in the UK

The folks at Adventure Command find an Egyptian tomb in the New World, fight sharks, go scuba diving, and fly in helicopters. The team prefers non-violent solutions, but can mix it up when needed. Fun concept, taken better as a novella with a couple of bonus stories rather than a cohesive whole. We leave the leader Jones at the end of the novella, heavily implied that he would be turned into the Bionic Man, and he doesn't show up for the two shorts. 

Sunday, August 21, 2022

No Redeeming Value: Young Guns Fatal Four Way

Four twentieth century authors, two favorites, two new reads. But only one will survive as our first Young Guns Champion. Let's meet our competitors:

Jim Beard writes new pulp, tie-in fiction, and comic history.  Buy his stuff at Amazon.

Tim Curran is a prolific horror author. Buy his stuff at Amazon or visit him at Corpse King

New pulp phenom Derrick Ferguson was taken from us too soon, but his creation Dillon lives on. Buy his stuff on Amazon.

Accompanied to the ring by the Highland Horror Hound Boris, it's the Scottish Scribe, the Gaelic Goremeister, David Sodergren. Sodergren's work covers the range of horror and exploitation subgenres, from Giallo to Weird Western. Follow him on twitter at @paperbacksnpugs or buy his stuff on Amazon.

Friday, August 19, 2022

NRV Cruiserweight Gauntlet Final Round

As Etchison and Lansdale match each other blow for blow, Roald Dahl distracts the referee with his satirical look at the publishing industry. While the ref’s back is turned, a masked figure slides into the ring and chokes out Etchison with a pink angora sweater.

Lansdale chases off the attacker and comes to Etchison’s aid. The ref turns to find Lansdale with the offending pink angora sweater in his hand and calls for the bell. The match ends with a disqualification and the Cruiserweight Title remains unclaimed!

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Gore In the Alley by Shirlee Lane (Ed Wood Jr.)

Gore In the Alley
by Shirlee Lane (Ed Wood Jr.)
Horror Sex Tales insert of The Jumbo Book, Pendulum, 1972

“She was bruised, cut and her box felt as if a steamroller had entered it and left it flat and raw”

After being raped in an alley by a maggot smelling hobo, a street walker goes Ms. 45 emasculating rapists with a straight razor.

Collected in Collected in Angora Fever available from Amazon

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

The Great Automatic Grammatizator by Roald Dahl

The Great Automatic Grammatizator
by Roald Dahl
Someone Like You, 1953

An engineer creates a computer which automatically writes short stories and novels, and eventually buys out all the real authors. [insert James Patterson joke here]

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Dump by Joe R. Lansdale

The Dump
by Joe R. Lansdale
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, July 1981

A junkyard worker and his hobo friend encounter a trash monster.

Collected in A Little Green Book of Monster Stories, available from Amazon 

Monday, August 15, 2022

It Only Comes Out at Night by Dennis Etchison

It Only Comes Out at Night 
by Dennis Etchison
Frights, 1976

Atmospheric sketch about a rest area on Route 66 in the Mojave desert.

Collected in Talking in the Dark, available from Amazon https://amzn.to/3zDqcHI

Sunday, August 14, 2022

NRV Cruiserweight Gauntlet Round 7

While properly unnerving, Deathtracks read like a premise without a story, but more meat on the bone than Shambleau. Dennis Etchison faces the final challenge as the Gauntlet concludes!

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Shambleau by C.L. Moore

by C.L. Moore
Weird Tales, November 1933

Space rogue Northwest Smith rescues a medusa catgirl. The setting is kind of an Eternal Recurrence thing, with humans traveling into space in the distant past but still having places like France and Chicago. Falls flat as horror unless you’ve got a moving hair phobia.

Collected in Northwest Smith, available from Amazon

Friday, August 12, 2022

Deathtracks by Dennis Etchison

by Dennis Etchison
Originally in Death, 1982

A Nielson family survey taker visits a couple who look for hidden messages in TV laugh tracks to explain why their son died in Vietnam.

Collected in Talking in the Dark, available from Amazon https://amzn.to/3zDqcHI

Thursday, August 11, 2022

NRV: Cruiserweight Gauntlet Round 6

Not a fan of 50s whimsical fantasy or 70s conceptual stuff, it would appear. Henry Slesar and Adrian Cole are both counted out, and two new authors will run The Gauntlet!

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Astral Stray by Adrian Cole

Astral Stray
by Adrian Cole
in Heroic Fantasy, 1979

Elfloq is some kind of familiar creature searching for a master. He ends up at Cloudway, which is some kind of interdimensional tavern, and talks to other travelers to learn how to have the Voidal become his master.

This is part of a larger series about the Voidal, but taken alone I have no idea who, what, where, when, or why. Cloudway feels like some of the House of Mystery comics, or the Nightmare Cafe, but almost nothing is described. Feels like a one act play where the actors wear black leotards and stand on an undressed set with maybe a chair and a box on the stage.

Some concepts and shreds of character sketches, but all talking.

Collected in Heroic Fantasy, available at Amazon.

Also in The Year's Best Fantasy Stories 5, currently cheaper at Amazon

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

My Father, The Cat By Henry Slesar

My Father, The Cat
By Henry Slesar
Fantastic Universe Vol 8, No 6 December 1957

A guy has a cat for a dad and he's worried about what his girlfriend will think. Lacks the depth and the kid from Sigmund and the Sea Monster of similar fare.

Henry Slesar was a fixture of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine. I chose poorly.

Free from Project Gutenberg

Monday, August 8, 2022

NRV: Crusierweight Gauntlet Round 5

I'm beginning to think there was a genre fiction Sahara between the mid 40s and late 60s, and these performances by Bowen and Garrett haven't changed my mind. This match ends with a double knockout, and two new authors face the Gauntlet.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

The Housekeeper by Marjorie Bowen

The Housekeeper
by Marjorie Bowen
Originally in The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories, 1949

A man who poisoned his wife to marry into wealth is haunted. A ghost story in the classic dull and unfrightening style.

Collected in The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories, available from Amazon

Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Foreign Hand Tie by Randall Garrett

The Foreign Hand Tie
by Randall Garrett
Analog Science Fact Science Fiction Vol 68, No 4, Dec 1961

Insubstantial tale of psychic twins, one embedded in Russia spying on a scientist, the other a gambling layabout in DC receiving the messages. Approaches interest with some thoughts on the artistic mind processing information differently from the scientific mind.

Available from Project Gutenberg

Friday, August 5, 2022

NRV: Cruiserweight Gauntlet Round 4

Sadistic spirits versus a horny devil. Marjorie Bowen manages to outcreep Ed Wood, Jr. and moves on to the next round. Can she survive the next four rounds and claim the championship?

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Hellfire by Ed Wood Jr.

by Ed Wood Jr.

"And when he blew into her it was the power and the heat of eternities which smashed into her guts… and with each dripping value the heat remained."

The devil bangs a woman in hell, comes cruising on Earth, bangs another woman, and takes some hustlers who try to mug him to hell.

Dated 1972 in Blood Splatters Quickly, don't know if this was from Wood's papers, if it got published, or where.

Collected in Blood Splatters Quickly, available from Amazon.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Kecksies by Marjorie Bowen

Kecksies by Marjorie Bowen
originally in Seeing Life and Other Stories 

Two upper class louts get drunk and bully an old marsh woman into giving them shelter. They find that an old rival for the love of the wife of one of them has died and is lying in state, and decide to play a trick with the body.

The old timey prose was a pain to get through, and felt like an affectation to me, but this one goes real dark.

Collected in The Bishop of Hell and Other Stories, available from Amazon from the always amazing Valancourt Books.

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

NRV: Cruiserweight Gauntlet Round 3

Robert E. Howard is one of the all time greats when he's not going on pseudoscientific ramblings, talking about history and genealogy drier than the Old Testament, or being a giant racist. We get a little of each with Kings of the Night, and not much else. Ed Wood gives us a sexual confused killer in rubber panties. Wood is nothing if not consistent, and that consistency has let him survive another round.

Monday, August 1, 2022

Hitchhike to Hell by Ed Wood, Jr.

Hitchhike to Hell
by Ed Wood, Jr.
One Plus One Vol 4, No. 1, Jan/Feb 1971

A serial killer meets his match. Gay panic is quickly becoming a theme for Wood - the character will kill a man if he can't find a female victim, but he prefers women, he says to himself quite a bit.

"It was an excellent plan and his rubber panties would not be denied after all. They would be filled with his own satisfaction and another one of those bitch-tramps would be sent to hell where she belonged."

I can't find anything about the magazine "One Plus One", likely some porn rag lost to time.

Collected in Angora Fever available from Amazon