Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book Review: A DROP OF THE HARD STUFF by Lawrence Block (Mulholland Books)- coming soon!

Award winning author Lawrence Block at a recent book signing in NJ.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

R.I.P. Gil Scott-Heron (1949-2011)

Throughout the late 70s-80s, I saw Gil Scott-Heron perform numerous times.  I attended the D.C. show that was documented and released on DVD as BLACK WAX (1980).  One of my NYU 16mm film shorts, GUN (1983), was based on his song of the same name.  Gil will be missed but his music and poetry will live on!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dark Horse's KING CONAN slayride comes to an end!

Dark Horse's CONAN reboot in 2004 was the single reason I got back into serious comic book reading since the 80's.  This recent KING CONAN 4-part mini series written by Timothy Truman, illustrated by Tomas Giorello and colored by Jose Villarruba is the pinnacle of the best writing and artwork truly worthy of Robert E. Howard's barbaric hero!   What a killer team of talent!  Hopefully they'll be back soon for more mayhem.  Click here to check out some sample pages: http://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/17-584/King-Conan-The-Scarlet-Citadel-4

From The Archives: VC issue #21 July 1993

From The Archives: VC issue #20 June 1993

From The Archives: VC issue #22 August 1993

UNMASKED REAL LIFE HORROR! Farewell to the beast!

Hopefully, she will swiftly fade from view and may all her future endeavors be monumental failures!
And 1925 audiences fainted when Chaney Sr. as Erik the Phantom was unmasked?  Sadly, founding a rape school in Africa and the shameless promotion of pseudoscience and new age mysticism will make you one of the richest and beloved homo sapiens on the planet!  And this is the nicest thing I could think to say.

Friday, May 20, 2011

From The Archives: VC issue #25 November/December 1993

Book Review: UNCHARTED SEAS (1938) by Dennis Wheatley

Arrow Books (U.K.) 1968 movie tie-in edition.

Navigating the haunted, mist shrouded seas of the Sargasso, dark waters previously mapped to chilling effect by author William Hope Hodgson (1877-1918), Dennis Wheatley (1897-1977) fashions a taut ‘ghost ship’ pulp thriller of his own.  En route from South Africa to South America, a Danish steamer carries a cargo of eccentric characters, each revealing melodramatic back stories that explain their geographical and/or psychological motives to escape.  When the ship is ravaged and sunk during a sudden violent storm, the few survivors drift aimlessly at sea in a life boat with limited rations. 

Predictably, personalities clash and tensions mount, and just before cannibalism becomes an option, a ship is sighted in the distance.  The group’s raised hopes are shattered when they discover its their old ship, mysteriously afloat and trapped in a maze of sinister, sinewy seaweed.  Soon, they encounter two factions of descendents of previous shipwreck survivors.  The natives are all prisoners of the mutant mass of seaweed and inhabit two tiny islands in a string of three.  One island is not suitable for human habitation since its infested with monster crabs!.  For better or worse, the other isle is infested by gangs of violent, sex-starved African ex-slaves who occasionally abduct Caucasian females for breeding purposes from the third island, a proto-hippy, peace loving, sexually liberated utopian state set up by European castaways and pirates.  Travel between the islands is achieved via stilts buoyed by gas balloons to hop-scotch around the thrusting deadly tentacles of man-eating octopi beneath the floating weed!

The constant ugly undercurrent of racism that simmers below the plotline comes to full boil during the bizarre, climatic third act when a daring rescue mission is staged to save two girls from the horrors of a slave island ritual gangbang (sounds like fun)!  After the inevitable blood-bath, the few surviving characters are miraculously faced with the choice of sailing back to civilization or remaining and joining the horny European island community (decisions, decisions…).   The novel spews a steady stream of cringe-worthy racial slurs (N-bombs anyone?), ethnic stereotypes, alcoholism, free sex, blackmail, ravenous devil fish, mean jumbo crabs and gratuitous nautical jargon and silly love poems!

Overall, UNCHARTED SEAS is a frivolous, fun, quick read (a fraction of the page count of the typical weighty Wheatley tome!) but not up to snuff with the author’s better known work.  The book was Wheatley’s third to be adapted to the big screen as LOST CONTINENT (1968) and the first of three projects for Hammer Productions.  (The other two were based on the black magic classics THE DEVIL RIDES OUT and TO THE DEVIL- A DAUGHTER); none of which were huge hits.  While the movie credits Michael Carreras as director, the paperback credits Norman Leslie (X- THE UNKNOWN).  The Anchor Bay DVD is currently out of print and goes for crazy clams.

The prolific Wheatley is mostly known today for his numerous occult thrillers featuring his hero Duc de Richeleau as well as a vast library of historical and adventure epics as well as non-fiction efforts such as THE DEVIL AND ALL HIS WORKS.  Sadly, virtually all of his work is out of print in the U.S.  Sidenote:  Like fellow scribe Ian Fleming, Wheatley was one of the creative masterminds behind British Intelligence during WWII and both authors had connections to infamous occultist Aleister Crowley.  Now there’s a movie!

(c) 2011, Carl Morano (Editorial assist by K. Roulston)

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bava lives in morbid ad!

I stumbled across this creepy ad banner at the Amazon site.  It's like a frame right out of a lurid 60's Mario Bava Euro-shocker!   To me, this image of a flesh and blood, dead Barbie Doll eerily glamorizes death by drowning and might encourage aquatic necrophilia!  How in the hell does it sell bathing suits?

From The Archives: VC issue #29 Winter 1995

I never understood how issue #29 was put out in Winter '95 and #30 hit in Spring '95?

From The Archives: VC issue #30 Spring 1995