Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

I hope you all have great big steaming piles of fun celebrating the best holiday of the year! Whether you have a party to attend, or you're taking some kids trick-or-treating, or just staying home and enjoying some classic horror movies or some spooky books(I humbly suggest my own book if you're stuck for something to read in that category), I hope you all stay safe and have a good time. As far as local events, Hattiesburg's first-ever Halloween parade was yesterday, so I hope you went if you were interested! Today, there is a Halloween-themed Free Comic Book Day event in which both local comic book stores are participating, and we'll be participating in that.
I've got one more thing to share with you that I came across this morning. This is a badass Joker-lantern carved by Andy Bergholtz, commissioned by DC Comics as part of their October spotlight on their supervillains.
Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Trash Rant: The Penetrator #28- The Skyhigh Betrayers

This volume of the Penetrator series is written by Chet Cunningham, who handled the even-numbered volumes in the series. Dr. Brunt Maxwell is some type of scientist working on atomic shielding or something-- look, it doesn't matter, okay? Point is, this dude is missing, and everyone wants to find him, including Mark Hardin, the Penetrator. Most of the book consists of Mark bumbling around, asking everyone in sight if they've seen the guy, and constantly getting into fights. He blows up a carload of thugs with a frag grenade, breaks into a Hispanic woman's house after she's tried to kill him, just taunts her and then inexplicably leaves her alone so she can try to kill him a few more times, burns a guy's house down with a white phosphorous grenade, goes hang-gliding, goes through three or four cars... that still doesn't cover everything. This is certainly a busy book, as Mark never seems to sit still for more than a few seconds; it's ADD writing at its best. If you find yourself bored with whatever penetrating Mark is up to, just turn the page, and he's bound to be waist-deep in something else.

The attempts at reaching the page count are more obvious than in Mardi Gras Massacre; for instance, Mark visits two porno theaters/brothels, and has basically the exact same conversation in both places. Oddly, one of them masquerades as a model-photographing place, where you rent a camera and photograph the model/stripper for money, which serves as a cover for whatever else you negotiate with the ladies to pay for. Did any strip joint/brothel actually use this gimmick? I've never heard of it before, and the absurdity of it had me laughing my ass off.

In one of the brothels, Mark encounters the "manager," who happens to be a homosexual man. Most of the guys who wrote novels in this genre were basically Archie Bunker with a typewriter, so of course the only homosexual men in these novels are of the ridiculously flamboyant variety. This guy immediately comes on to Mark, then calls him a bitch when he is rebuffed. I was sincerely surprised that he didn't try to scratch his eyes out. Mark leaves the porno district soon afterward, surprisingly without any actual penetrating done.

The main villain, who is so inconsequential that I've already forgotten his name, kidnaps Dr. whatsit's wife, and then hilariously announces over the damn radio that she will be gang-raped by five men like clockwork every six hours until the doc turns over his plans for the macguffin. This leads to a genuinely interesting finale in an abandoned funhouse where Mark penetrates the fuck out of a bunch of guys with his bullets. He gets shot in the leg, but it's cool, because he uses some ultra-convenient Indian mental discipline to isolate the pain until he can deal with it at a more convenient time.

I didn't enjoy The Skyhigh Betrayers as much as Mardi Gras Massacre, largely because of the problems with obvious padding mentioned above. Another reason may be the misleading cover art, as we never get to see Mark penetrate the ocean and fight a killer whale, or have an axe fight with an Asian dude, or watch a black guy kick back and smoke a pipe. George Wilson's cover art is honestly cooler than the actual book, unfortunately. Pornstache represent!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Read my new book NIGHTMARE ESCAPADE for free this weekend!

It's not just a clever title! My new book, Nightmare Escapade: A Horror Anthology, is free for the Amazon Kindle this weekend. Don't have a Kindle? No worries, download a Kindle app, available for pretty much any device: cell phone, tablet, PC, toilet paper holder, you name it. After you've read (and hopefully enjoyed) the book, I would greatly appreciate you taking a few minutes and writing a review on its Amazon page. Also, clicking the "like" button on the page and tagging it will make it easier for people to find.
You can get the book (and leave a review!) here.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Trash Rant: The Penetrator #5- Mardi Gras Massacre

Despite my partaking of trashy men's adventure novels here and there from my pre-teen years to the present day, I had never heard of the Penetrator series. This grievous oversight was rectified when I came across a few of the novels in a thrift store a little over a week ago, scoring them for one thin dime each! Once I saw them, there was no way I was leaving without them, and now my interest in the genre has been reawakened. A few minutes of research revealed that the Penetrator series was written by two authors, both of whom used the "Lionel Derrick" pseudonym: Mark K. Roberts, who penned the odd-numbered volumes, and Chet Cunningham, who wrote the even-numbered volumes. It seems that the series was quite popular, running for 53 volumes, and selling millions of copies. It's always interesting to me how something so popular can be so utterly forgotten just a couple of decades later. Thankfully, the series' large print run and its lack of popularity mean that I shouldn't have too much trouble getting my hands on the rest of the series.

As an odd-numbered installment, Mardi Gras Massacre is the work of Mark K. Roberts. Mark Hardin (no, I did not type an "i" instead of an "o" by mistake, that's really his name) is the Penetrator, a Vietnam veteran (virtually a requirement for protagonists in the men's adventure genre) who resolved to wage war on the criminal element after his fiancee was killed. For new readers, the basic concept and the Penetrator's previous adventures are helpfully summarized at the beginning of the book.

This volume sees Mark travel to New Orleans after a fisherman sends him a letter asserting that he is being paid with counterfeit bills. The money's phony nature  is virtually impossible to detect, and the culprits are distributing it in cahoots with Cuba to destroy the US economy. The man is dead when Mark arrives, but he meets his daughter, a lovely young lady who has an uncanny resemblance to Mark's dead fiancee. She leads him to a family who is sympathetic to their plight, leading to many, many action scenes and whole hell of a lot of murder and mayhem. As with most novels in this genre, the plot is entirely incidental, and exists only to provide plenty of opportunity for bloodshed.

There are some great moments in this book, from a kid who imitates Grady from "Sanford and Son," which is made even funnier since the combat-obsessed Penetrator has NO IDEA what the kid is referring to, to some truly great (bad) dialogue that flows steadily from the first few pages to the end. My favorite, delivered by a thug who follows Mark into a dark alley: "Darker'n the inside of a turd in here." You won't find lines like that in a Jane Austen book! There's also a scene in which Mark, delirious from a penicillin overdose, has sex with his new female pal, convinced that she is his dead fiancee. Happily, the woman doesn't mind, so thrilled is she to be with Mark! I can only conclude from this that Roberts never spoke to a woman his entire life, since I cannot conceive of any circumstances in which a woman would behave that way!

I must mention the great cover art; the artist is uncredited, but it may be the work of George Wilson, a prolific illustrator who seems to have handled at least the bulk of the covers in this series. Dig the pornstache.

This book was a lot of fun, and you can count on seeing more of this series featured here.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

October Bookstravaganza!

The past few days have been very good to me when it comes to scoring interesting books. Between our two local used bookstores and a few thrift stores, I've snagged 42 books for $9! A few of them were for other people, but that's a hell of a deal any way you look at it.

First up is this nice hardcover copy of the Carl Sagan classic Contact, which I picked up at Goodwill for $1.50. The book section there is normally pretty pitiful, so this is the first time I've actually found a book I wanted there. It's even a first edition!
(I also found a stack of records for Cindy, but that's a whole other topic.)

A trip to the Book Rack (the one off of Highway 98) introduced me to these three gems. I've had an old mass-market paperback copy of The Phantom of the Opera for years, so this 75th anniversary hardcover edition seemed like a wise trade-up. Sax Rohmer's Fu Manchu series is one of the great old pulp lines i always enjoy; and President Fu Manchu was a total no-brainer for a dime. As for the King Kong book, I've always had a fascination with short-lived oddball series and genre projects that failed, and the 1976 DeLaurentiss version of King Kong most certainly fits into the latter category. I've flipped through the book, and it looks like a pretty comprehensive chronicle of the making of that train-wreck of a movie.

A newly-opened thrift store yielded this new edition of Octopussy, part of the Penguin line that has those great pulp-ish covers. I've admired these editions for a long time, but I can't justify the price since I already have multiple editions of all of the Fleming Bonds. I wasn't about to pass one up for fifty cents, though. The Frank Yerby book, A Woman Called Fancy, came home with me because I've been interested in his work since I first found out about him some time ago. Yerby was one of the first successful black authors in America, the first to have a million-selling novel, and the first to have his work adapted as a movie. I always pick up his books when I run across them, finances allowing.

A dollar and change got me these three trashy adventure novels at the other Book Rack(the one on 13th Avenue). I haven't actually read any of these series, but I figured they were worth a shot at their dirt-cheap prices. Anyway, just look at that Enforcer book! Calling Doctor KILL!!!! How in the hell could I have walked out of there without that?!?!!

Now, here comes the motherload! One of the local thrift stores, Bargains and Blessings, looks like  a garage sale vomited inside the building. Piles of stuff everywhere, with minimal organization, but most of it is dirt cheap. I walked in there literally for the first time in years, and walked out with an armload of books, all for a dime each. It was glorious. This is the kind of score that keeps me looking as regularly as i can manage at various thrift stores, through all the dry spells when I come across nothing but diet books and "Left Behind" garbage. Eventually, I know my vigilance will pay off. A couple of these books are for Braxton, my nephew, including the Bradbury classic Fahrenheit 451, which anyone who is literate should read at least once. Several of the books were things I knew Cindy would like, and she's already taken them home, so no photos of them.

As with Octopussy, I already had these Fleming Bond books in other editions, but I can't resist buying them when I come across some with cover art I don't already have, as long as they're cheap.

Damn near everything else falls firmly into the trashy adventure novel genre. Some of these series are new to me; my instant favorite is The Penetrator. I've already read one of them, and trust me, you will be seeing more about this series. There are a couple of Mack Bolan books in the mix; honestly, I tried reading a couple of these when I was a teenager, and the series focus on gun porn just didn't do anything for me. For a dime, though, I figured I'd give 'em another shot. The old science-related books are just cool, and they were both in really good shape too, especially considering their age. I got the Empire Strikes Back adaptation because I remember having it when I was little, and this one was in fantastic condition.

So, I'm swamped in books, many of them thoroughly trashy, and loving it. If only I'd run across a copy of the Overload series, which features a pair of ex-commando truckers who roam the country, doling out righteous ass-beatings to any random asswipe who deserves it, or Body Smasher, the wrestling adventure series that features Captain Lou Albano, this would've been a haul to tell the grandkids about someday!

Friday, October 5, 2012

My art: Gill Man... and Friend

Jill Thompson is having a little contest on Twitter today. The challenge is simple: draw the Creature from the Black Lagoon! I drew from memory, preferring to let my imagination fill in any gaps. I embellished a few areas where it felt right; for instance, the "spines" branching off from his brow. I couldn't for the life of me remember what the hell the palms of his hands looked like, but it made sense that he might have suckers there. Once he grabs his prey, it ain't gettin' away!

Mad Monster Party, baby!

We watched Mad Monster Party last night, a kid-friendly monster movie from the '60s that tends to be overlooked most of the time. Cindy had somehow managed to know me for five years without seeing it. It's a stop-motion animated movie starring Boris Karloff himself, and it's great fun. I featured it here a couple of years ago. It's available on DVD, and it's cheap, so check it out!

Monday, October 1, 2012

31 Days of Halloween?

Longtime TMR readers are familiar with my annual practice of posting about something Halloween or horror-related at least once every day in October. Unfortunately, I just don't have the time this year. That doesn't mean you won't see me posting anything at all regarding this Halloween season; it just won't be a daily thing this year. I always needed a bit of lead time to ensure I didn't miss a day, and I was denied that due to working on Nightmare Escapade, which just happens to be on sale now! ;) I'm already hard at work on my next book, which is going to be a novel featuring one of the characters who appears in Nightmare Escapade! I won't say who it is just yet, since many of you still haven't finished reading it, so finish up and make your guesses! And if you don't have the book at all, what the hell are you waiting for? Go buy it!

In the meantime, you can always review the plentiful Halloween entries from years past by clicking the "31 Days of Halloween" tag at the bottom of this post. Enjoy the buildup to the greatest holiday of the year, and vaya con monstros!