Thursday, November 9, 2017

Brute by Con Sellers

by Con Sellers
Novel Books, 1961

"He ripped out the guts of an entire city to find the one hell-hole wehre his lover was being violated!"

Brad Saxon is an ex-football player Korean War vet who returns to Japan to find his one true love, a prostitute he abandoned.  He gets mixed up with crooked military, Japanese secret police, blackmailed Army wives, communist plots, and organized crime.

But mostly he smashed through walls like a bull in a china shop, smacking the crap out of everyone, and sleeping with every woman he can find.  Brute is a rare book from the paperback original era in that it fulfills the promise that the cover evokes.  The story is not far off from what the art suggests.  The sex is plentiful, though shrouded in purple prose, and the violence gets surprisingly brutal towards the end.

This is a good example of tough guy inflation.  Saxon was a tackle and used his experience to bulldoze through thugs, tossing them like rag dolls.  Much is made of his massive 230 pounds - the average tackle today is over 300.

This is my first Con Sellers book, but not my last.  The prose was more literary than it had reason to be while staying pure exploitation.  Now Wildside just needs to release Red Rape - hell, do a whole megapack!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Bats by William W. Johnstone

by William W. Johnstone
1993 Zebra Books

Giant killer bats with super-rabies attack Louisiana.  They cling onto faces and eat out eyeballs, and if the victims live they turn into murderous psychotics along with the wild boars that feast on the dead.  We get about twenty pages of that.

The rest is people talking about how serious people should or shouldn't be taking all this.  The police withhold details from the hated press to avoid a panic, then complain when the townspeople don't take steps to protect themselves.  Most of the book is just this back and forth.  Interminably.

The killer bats get killed by regular bats, the end.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hell's Bells - The Dangers of Rock N' Roll

I remember this from Sunday school and being impressed by the range of music:  Foetus, Crass, the Cure, Richard Kern, the Frogs.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Zebra Men's Adventure 1982 - 1991

The Zebra Men's Adventure books of the 70s were more eclectic.  By the 80s, it's strictly Vietnam and post-apocalypse.  I haven't checked, but I'm almost positive no new series started in the 90s.

Gonji by T.C. Rypel
Sub Wars by James Good

Gunships by Jack Hamilton Teed
Ashes by William W. Johnstone
Warlord by Jason Frost
McLeane's Rangers by John Darby
Black Eagles by John Langsing
Seventh Carrier by Peter Albano
Saigon Commando by Jonathan Cain

Depth Force by Irving A. Greenfield
Doomsday Warrior by Ryder Stacy
War Dogs by Nik-Uhernik
The Zone by James Rouch

CADS by John Sievert

Wingman by Mack Maloney
Rig Warrior by William W. Johnstone

Body Smasher by Jan Stacy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Adventures in Horror Vol 1 No 1 October 1970

Adventures in Horror
Vol 1 No 1 October 1970

The longest running of the "Monster Porn" tiles of the 70s.  The prose had a Men's Adventure Magazine vibe - short, semi-confessional first person stories, many with a "as told to" byline.  Some of the stories had a Herschell Gordon Lewis or "Orgy of the Dead" era Ed Wood vibe to them, and indeed Wood wrote some of the stories in later issues.  A few bare breasts in the photos, but not enough for a full on spank rag.

Love is the Color of Blood: Vampire rape.
The Spell of the Witch: The old "witch told me it was a dream so I didn't think I was really killing my professor" trick.
Howl, Wolf, Howl: Attempted werewolf rape.

Gory Terror in the Night: Gang rape torture porn
The Unholy Six: A beach pickup leads to a Satanic mass with a witch who adds her lovers to her obscene carved headboard.
The Naked Slaves of the Master of Hell: Under the guise of a photo session, a sadistic madman lures four models to their doom
Devil of Denham Swamp: A couple take the wrong road, get genital tortured, and doomed to hell

Find it here at

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Zebra horror through 1991

Below is a comprehensive list of the almost 200 horror novels Zebra Books released through 1991.  Horror continued to be released regularly until Zebra shut down their horror line in 1996, but starting in 1991 horror started started splitting off into Silence of the Lambs knock-offs, Interview with a Vampire copies, and young adult style covers.

A full cover gallery with shop links over at Trash Menace Gallery

Dementia by Keith Parnell

Satan's Daughters by Othello Peters

Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall
The Soul by Ron Gorton

Replica by Lionel Saben
The Ashes of Tamar by Elizabeth Wade

Dracula in Love by John Shirley
Benediction by Joseph P. Furek
There is a Serpent in Eden by Robert Bloch
Long Night by P.B. Gallagher
The Rite by Gregory Douglas

Caly by Sharon Combes
Wild Violets by Ruth Baker Field
The Nest by Gregory Douglas
Cherron by Sharon Combes

Moondeath by Rick Hautala
The Devil's Kiss by William W. Johnstone
Act of Love by Joe R. Lansdale
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood
Great Liquidator by J.V. Grombach
Unholy Smile by Gregory A. Douglas
Death-Coach by J. N. Williamson
Mysteries of the Worm by Robert Bloch
Unholy Goddess by Baker Stein
Halloween II (Novelization) by Jack Martin
The Spawning by Fritzen Ravenswood
Ghost Mansion by J. N. Williamson
Death-Angel by J. N. Williamson
Sweet Revenge by Dick Beaird

The Uninvited by William W. Johnstone
The Unblessed by Paul Richards
The Evil One by J. N. Williamson
The Initiation by William W. Johnstone
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood
Death-School by J. N. Williamson
Moon Lake by Stephen Gresham
Traces by Patricia Wallace
Night Bait by Phillip Straker
The Trident by Joel Hammil
Extraterrestrial by Julian Shock
Horror Mansion by J. N. Williamson
Slice of Life by James Kisner
Wolfsbane by William W. Johnstone
Blood Knot by Bruce Algozin
Moonbog by Rick Hautala
Night Lust by Phillip Straker
Death-Doctor by J. N. Williamson

Devil's Heart by William W. Johnstone
Videodrom by Jack Martin
A Crying Shame by William W. Johnstone
White Noise by R.F. Beaird
The Taint by Patricia Wallace
The Nursery by William W. Johnstone
MaMa by Ruby Jean Jensen
Death Screen by Richard F. Beaird

Rip Tide by Donald D. Cheatham
The Stalker by Claude Teweles
Rockabye Baby by Stephen Gresham
The Devil's Touch by William W. Johnstone

Sweet Dreams by William W. Johnstone
Home Sweet Home by Ruby Jean Jensen
The Children's Ward by Patricia Wallace
Daddy's Little Girl by Daniel Ransom
Half Moon Down by Stephen Gresham
Soul Eater by Dana Brookins
Only Child by Patricia Wallace
Best Friends by Ruby Jean Jensen
Child's Play by Andrew Neiderman

Rockinghorse by William W. Johnstone
Twice Blessed by Patricia Wallace
The Doll by Josh Webster
Dew Claws by Stephen Gresham
Cat's Cradle by William W. Johnstone
Night Stone by Rick Hautala
Wait and See by Ruby Jean Jensen
Toys in the Attic by Daniel Ransom
The Alchemist by Les Whitten
Jack-In-The-Box by William W. Johnstone
Deadly Ernest by Daniel Lynch
Teacher's Pet by Andrew Neiderman
The Shadow Man by Stephen Gresham

Piper by Brett Rutherford and John Robertson
The Dollkeeper by Jack Scaparro
Fertility Rights by Fay N. Zachary
Annabelle by Ruby Jean Jensen
Sight Unseen by Andrew Neiderman
Blood Bath by Linda Stahl Borlik
Midnight Boy by Stephen Gresham
The Devil's Cat by William W. Johnstone
Night Whisper by Patricia Wallace
Cry Wolf by Alan B. Chronister
Shadow Child by Joseph A. Citro
Sleep Tight by Matthew Costello
Baby Grand by William W. Johnstone
The Evil One by J.N. Williamson
Chain Letter by Ruby Jean Jensen
Night Caller by Daniel Ransom
A Killing Frost by Daniel Lynch
Water Baby by Patricia Wallace
Dream House by Christopher Fahy
Toy Cemetary by William W. Johnstone
Witch Child by Elizabeth Lloyd

Smoke by Ruby Jean Jensen
Little Brothers by Rick Hautala
Guardian Angels by Joseph A. Citro
Hocus-Pocus by Jack Scaparro
Blood Sisters by Deborah Sherwood
House of Illusion by Ruby Jean Jensen
Deadly Nature by V. M. Thompson
Grim Reaper by O'Neil de Noux
Abracadabra by Stephen Gresham
Witch Daughter by Elizabeth Lloyd
Sandman by William W. Johnstone
Devil's Moon by William M. Carney
Play Time by Morgan Fields
See No Evil by Patricia Wallace
Ten Little Indians by E. Patrick Murray
The Lost Children by Brett Rutherford
Runaway by Stephen Gresham
Keepers of the Beast by Jack Maclane
Jump Rope by Ruby Jean Jensen
Eternal Bliss by Christopher Fahy
Baby Doll by Marilyn Knight
Night Touch by Stephen Gresham

Goodnight Moom by Jack MacLane
Carnival by William W. Johnstone
Brain Child by Stephen George
Moonwalker by Rick Hautala
Pendulum by Ruby Jean Jensen
Project God by V. M. Thompson
Dark Souls by Barry Porter
Blood Dreams by Jack MacLane
Beasts by Stephen R. George
Demon's Eye by Stephen Gresham
Tree House by Victor Mullen
Deathsong by Jack Scaparro
Spellcaster by J. Edward Ames
Monday's Child by Patricia Wallace
Deadly Harvest by Morgan Fields
Death Stone by Ruby Jean Jensen
Secret Orders by H. Paul Jeffers
Dark Miracle by Stephen R. George
The Manipulator by Dana Brookins
Junkyard by Barry Porter

Vampire Child by Ruby Jean Jensen
Hindsight by Ronald Kelly
Blood Wings by Stephen Gresham
Darksong by Jean Simon
Lullabye by Patricia Wallace
Flesh Stealer by Pauline Dunn
The Lyssa Syndrome by Christopher Fahy
Dark Reunion by Stephen R. George
Children of the Shadows by Don L. Freeman
Lost and Found by Ruby Jean Jensen
Evilway by Ryan O. Moses
Pitfall by Ronald Kelly
Dollies by Pat Graversen
The Devil's Coin by Mark Manley
Poison Pen by James Kisner
Mindscream by R.D. Zimmerman
Shaman Woods by Morgan Fields
Thrill by Patricia Wallace
Demonic Color by Pauline Dunn
Grandma's Little Darling by Stephen R. George
Just Before Dark by Jack MacLane
Victoria by Ruby Jean Jensen
Earthblood by James Kisner

Stones by Pat Graversen
Wild Card by Jean Simon
Hide and Seek by William M. Carney
Grandfather by Anne Joseph
Something Out There by Ronald Kelly
Perfection by Marc Berrenson
The Vampire Memoirs by Traci Briery & Mara McCuniff
Watchers in the Woods by William W. Johnstone
Blood Sabbath by Leigh Clark
The Living Dark by Stephen Gresham
Waltz With Evil by P.D. Rozzi
Little Brother by Bill Eidson
The Forgotten by Stephen R. George
The Crawling Dark by Pauline Dunn
The Burying Point by Ann Brahms
Celia by Ruby Jean Jensen
Faith Killer by Josh Webster
Wind Chimes by R. R. Walter
Cold Whisper by Rick Hautala
The Attic by Jack Scaparro
Dr. O by Glenn Hale
The Quagmire by James Kisner
Vampire Blood by Kathryn Meyer Grifftth
Sweet Revenge by Jean Simon
The Gifted by Jack Caravela
The Night Seasons by J.N. Williamson
Deadly Breed by T.J.Kirby
Baby Dolly by Ruby Jean Jensen
Listen to the Shadows by Joan Hall Hovey
Moon of the Werewolf by Ronald Kelly

More Zebra Horror at Too Much Horror Fiction,, and Vault of Evil.

This is the result of looking up over 3500 titles by ISBN number.  Horror made up just over five percent of Zebra's output.  Mostly historical romance, then westerns, with several adult western series.  Men's Adventure will be covered separately.  Compared with the 70s, Zebra stuck to only a few specific subgenres.  The only historical oddities were trivia books and gross humor collections.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Them by William W. Johnstone

by William W. Johnstone
Zebra Books 1992

Alien brains with tentacles land on Earth and communicate with Jake Silver, a nerd who is teased around town and beaten by his ignorant father.  After a few pages of Jake's snide pedantic attitude, I'm rooting for the dad, but we're told early on that Jake is evil, so it's OK.

The leader brain, named Cag, gives Jake telepathic powers, which he uses to have sex with his teacher and wreak revenge on his tormentors.  He makes one masturbate in public while two others sodomize each other in a grocery store (box ticked).  I was thinking there would be more in this direction, but Johnstone loses interest in Jake pretty quick.

Other alien brains take over Earthling brains with unhappy results.  Some humans go a little slow and turn to baser instincts, committing acts of violence and incest.  Others have their brains explode out their eye sockets.

This leads to the best part of the book, as an already deranged town idiot goes on an ax murdering spree.  Those segments may be the most horror novelish of anything Johnstone has produced.

Cag is communicating with Jake's Mom and some scientists and has a mind laser war with the other alien brains.  The last chunk of the book is Cag bemoaning how humanity values sports over intellect, and how he decided humanity doesn't deserve to be conquered.

Over pages and pages of this, it slowly dawned on me that Cag is supposed to be the good guy, and that his exposition is the clearest form of the worldview that runs further in the background of Johnstone's other books.  Cag's plan is to murder half the population of Earth - those that break the slightest rule or don't produce enough.  Everyone left will be reasonable and productive, so there will be an end of conflict.

As long as you can manage a looooot of skimming, the good parts of Them are some of Johnstone's best.  The bad parts (college vocabulary insults and repetitive soap-boxing) are probably the worst.

Available in Kindle ebook from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample

Paperback from AbeBooks

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Devil's Laughter by William W. Johnstone

The Devil's Laughter
by William W. Johnstone
1992 Zebra Books


Something funny was going on in Louisiana's backwoods, but the devil was the only one laughing.

Less of the same.  People are acting funny in town, nobody's showering, etc.  Our hero, former CIA operative and reporter (?!) Link Donovan is at the center - the Balon family is mentioned but doesn't appear, along with Satan, sodomy, and everything else that made the Devil series sleazy fun.

Donovan takes care of wounded animals at his ranch home and is harassed by violent rednecks who he just guesses are Satanists.  Everything's small scale here - only a couple hundred Satanists instead of the whole town, God and his "mercenary angel" Michael don't show, and Satan is said to barely make an appearance.  We're teased with beasts, but their just an illusion, and the undead only appear in a comedic epilogue.

This one's more action packed than the rest, with Link spending his time tossing grenades and mowing down rednecks in the woods with a MAC-10.  At least Johnstone's action scenes are improving.

There are no evil clowns.

Available in Kindle ebook from Amazon

Click here to read a sample

Friday, September 29, 2017

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Watchers in the Woods by William W. Johnstone

Watchers in the Woods
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra Books, 1991

What the Ashes series did for Libertarianism, Watchers in the Woods does for animal rights.  It's as bad as that.

Johnstone's pantser tendencies are in full effect here.  We start off with five different couples going on a hiking trip after their joint 20 year school reunion.  Good enough set up for a horror novel.  But wait, one of the reunioners is a CIA contract assassin!  Let's go with that for a while.

On a mission that is never made clear, the CIA agent is ordered to the middle of the woods to do something with the Unseen, also called the Sataw and a dozen other names.  These are the same creatures from A Crying Shame, only more vague.  They're homo sapiens, but haven't evolved as much as the rest of humanity.  They've lived in isolation in the American woods, except for the several generations who have integrated into American society.

They are woefully underdescribed.  Some look like humans, some are hairier and have big teeth.  The only one that gets any description is a tribe leader who has a regular human body and full-on wolf's head.  Most are peaceful, but some are cannibalistic, gone mad by water pollution.  If they bite regular people, those people go mad under a full moon.  So we're told, it doesn't come up.

The reunioners go in the woods, fight the Unseen and some neo-nazis, then fight to get back out of the woods.  The plot is a mess, but we eventually get the full force of the US government involved.  Peaceful Unseen are put into camps, violent ones out in society go feral and kill thousands, and people yell at reporters for existing.

More action than horror, but mostly talking.  Lots and lots of talking.  By then end, Johnstone's giving us a monologue about the mistreatment of greyhound dogs.

Not to be confused with The Watcher in the Woods.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Zebra Books Misc - 1974-1982

There were a lot of titles in genres that were particular to the 70s.

Exploitation / Sexy Tell-Alls / Porn or Hooker Biography


The Joys of Hooking by Virginia Graham (Zebra #1!)
Where have all the Little Girls Gone by M. K. Callie
Lily: The Diary of a French Girl in New York by Sandrine Forge
Society Hooker by Betsy Winston
Martnis, Manhattans, or Me? by Barbara O'Brien
The Wild White Witch by Peter Stafford

The Love Girl by Suzy Green

Diary of a Modern American Girl by Emily Goodman
China Nights by Ralph Shaw


10 1/2 by Marc Stevens

The Whole Bedroom Catalog by Stephen Lewis

Amanda in Spain by Geoffrey Bocca
The Greek Goddess by R.T. Larkin


Amanda in Germany by Geoffrey Bocca

Amanda in France by Geoffrey Bocca aka Commander Amanda

Washington Call Girl - The Original Washington Expose by Rachel Alceim


Making It Big by Diana Clapton and Marc Stevens
Anytime, Anywhere! by Susie Swanson



Intercept UFO by Renato Vesco
Your Practical Guide to Fortune-telling by Rod Davies


The Witches Workbook: The Magick Grimoire of Lady Sheba
Universal Cosmic Mind Power by Samuel Dodson
The Great Pyramid by Warren Smith
The Strange World of Brad Steiger by Brad Steiger
Triangle of the Lost by Warren Smith
Eckankar: The Key to Secret Worlds by Paul Twitchell
Myth and Mystery of Atlantis by Warren Smith
The Opening of an Eye by Alice Lane


Lost Cities of the Ancients Unearthed by Warren Smith
Pyramid Energy and How it Works for You by James Wyckoff
Strange Secrets of Loch Ness by Warren Smith
UFO Trek by Warren Smith
Discover the Riches of Universal Cosmic Mind Power by Samuel Dodson
The Hidden Secrets of the Hollow Earth by Warren Smith


The Secret Origins of Bigfoot by Warren Smith

The Law of Psychic Phenomena by Thomas Hudson

The Law of Psychic Phenomena Volume 2 by Thomas Hudson

JFK Conspiracy


Appointment In Dallas: The Final Solution to the Assassination of JFK by Hugh C. McDonald and Geoffrey Bocca


Coincidence or Conspiracy by Bernard Fensterwald and Michael Ewing

Occult Investigator


Father Hayes by Peter Leslie
The Steeds Of Satan by Peter Leslie

Martial Arts


Bruce Lee's Basic Kung-Fu Training Manual by Claude St. Denise
Bruce Lee's My Martial Arts Training Manual by Claude St. Denise
Bruce Lee's Guide to Savage Street Fighting by Claude St. Denise

True Crime/Prison/Pimp


Dig the Nigger Up - Let's Kill Him Again by Robert Chinn - ghetto/prison memoir
Blood Family by William Zamora - Manson trial juror


The Virginia Ratt by Ratton Hall and Sandy Sidar - pimp/prison memoir

The Black Prince by Anonymous


Collision by Spencer Dunmore

Eruption by Paul Patchick

Epidemic! by Larry R. Leichter, M.D.
Avalanche by M Steele & Steve Cohen
The Omni Strain by Cliff Patton, M.D.

Collision Over Toronto Airport by Spencer Dunmore
Drought! by Ralph Hayes
Ghost Rig by Cliff Patton
Shuttle by David C. Onley

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Black Horde by Richard Lewis

Black Horde
aka Devil's Coach-Horse
by Richard Lewis
1979 Signet

Like the best of disaster/animal attack novels, The Black Horde is largely a series of miniature character studies, each punctuated by gruesome death, here by tiny, man-eating beetles.  Lewis is kind enough not to waste page time on following any main characters.  A scientist finally pops up with a way to counter the plague, the end?  Lewis had the guts to kill off scores of children, but chickened out and did so off page.  Signet really jumped on the killer animal bandwagon around this time, with another dozen or so titles advertised.

Paperback from Amazon

Friday, September 15, 2017

You've Got Foetus On Your Breath - Flashback

Speaking of weird Foetus references, this track ends with a rant lifted from Nitro of Marvel Comics, I think from Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man 55.  I think from the same issue is the line "Thank Heaven for Push Button Phones", which is a track title on the same album.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Darkly the Thunder by William W. Johnstone

Darkly the Thunder
by William W. Johnstone
1990 Zebra Books


The 80's are over, and so is the fun, if this lifeless slog has any indication of the rest of the 90s.

So far the worst things about Johnstone horror novels are disembodied sarcastic voices, endless discussion of cosmic rules that he refuses to explain, and interminable padding of characters repeating things back and forth to each other.  That's all this book is.

The Fury is a neutron star that evolved into pure evil and lives off the souls of the recently departed.  It manifests itself as a disembodied voice that yells racist taunts and sings doo-wop.  The Fury is stuck in the 1950s and doesn't understand modern technology.  It has closed off a Colorado town in a secular re-tread of the well worn path of the Devil novels.

There's a little bit of folks not being friendly anymore and a little public masturbation, but not of the bacchanalia of the Devil books.  Bodies are found torn apart and anyone who tries to leave town is killed by the Fury's psychic force.  Not sure what the Fury's endgame is other than killing people, why he doesn't just kill everybody day one, and what 50's music has to do with anything.

On the side of good we have the Force, which doesn't sound too far off from the Jedi stuff except for its love of vigilante murder.  The Force is embodied by the spirit of a James Dean type named Sand who died decades ago after killing the frat boys who killed his wife.

Sand tells his story via a television set, which is recorded by the town's 10-year-old computer genius.  The Fury also tells his story to a reporter who interviews him for hours.  None of that is shared with the reader.

Pretty earlier on, the President is made aware of the situation and plans a strike with a neutron bomb, while the press and some snake handlers show up in town.  The kid hacker is able to figure out where the Fury is in town by tracing him on the telephone, and Sand communicates via modem until Johnstone forgets this device and has him just be telepathic.

Some good carnage in the beginning, and a quick zombie attack in the middle, but almost nothing happens the entire book.  The townspeople and CIA and the White House plan things and the Fury calls the Sheriff burrito-breath and nothing happens for page upon page.  The only interest is Sand's back story of vigilante justice, which has nothing to do with anything.

The plan is finally revealed and executed.  The President drops a neutron bomb on the town.  They blame aliens because if America knew the truth about the afterlife Las Vegas would close down and the liquor industry would collapse.  The townspeople blow up the entire town to create a smokescreen, because the omniscient Fury can't see through smoke.  They use the cover to run through a portal that Sand creates to teleport to safety.

Epilogue: Everyone gets married and the crater that the bomb made is now filled with all the souls that the Fury had taken over the years.  None of this book makes enough sense to even tell if there are plot holes.  Johnstone gets as preachy here as he does in the Ashes books, only now it's about feeding the homeless and being kind to animals.  Like a damn hippy.

Available in Kindle ebook from Amazon

Click here to read a sample

Monday, September 11, 2017

Le Voyage Extraordinaire

Le Voyage Extraordinaire

Futuroscope is a future-themed park in France focusing on 4D movies, though it was nice to see they had a couple of old-fashioned slides.  There should be more slides in parks.

Le Voyage Extraordinaire is a straight up Sorin' knock off, but queue is amazing.  Escher stairs going nowhere, Stargate portals.  I love areas that have a sense of more going on and places you could have gone.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Thursday, September 7, 2017

ABC 1983 - The ABC Saturday Preview Special

An historical look back this time.  This was when Menudo videos were spliced in between everything.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Carnival by William W. Johnstone

by William W. Johnstone
1989 Zebra Books

In the 50s some rich kids rape some girls and carnies get blamed.  The town sets the carnival on fire and covers it up.  The dead carnies make a deal with Satan to return for revenge.  The townfolk either turn evil or mindless, ala the Devil series.

The few who maintain their sanity try to stop the carnival's plan to have the evil townspeople kill each other.  They do this by killing the townspeople.  They didn't really think this one through.

For once, Johnstone actually sticks to his gimmick, and fully half of the story takes place in the carnival as the townsfolk alternate between Stepford Wives banality and crazed cannibalism.  An avenging revenant rises from the grave with the truck his was buried in, and then proceeds to have pages of discussion with law enforcement about what will happen if the cross an invisible barrier surrounding the carnival.  Chills!

Johnstone manages to have a little fun here without getting too bogged down in cosmic rules.  His last book of the 80s.  If you're already sick of Johnstone, now's a good time to hop off.

Available in Kindle from Amazon

Click here for a sample

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Frankenstein's Tower

Frankenstein's Tower
by Jean-Claude Carriere as Benoit Becker
originally 1957 Fleuve Noir
English translation 2016 Grey Tiger

Jean-Claude Carriere is a respected screenwriter and collaborator with Luis Bunel.  He also wrote a series of mediocre Frankenstein continuations.

Frankenstein's Tower is set in 1875.  A disgraced mesmerist turned hobo creeper named Vrollo reanimates and controls Frankenstein' Monster, called Gouroull here.  Gouroll snaps a couple necks and kidnaps the fair maiden Helen.  The creature overcomes Vrollo's influence and kills him, then moves on to menacing Helen.

The townsfolk can't get in the castle where Gourollo is holed up, so they enlist the aid of a Hindu snake charmer to send an army of poisonous snakes in after them.  Sure.

Helen escapes, Gourollo escapes, and we're left with almost 30 pages of epilogue and afterword of a 158 page book.  I wouldn't mind the short page length if it was filled with more monster and less French talkiness.  And if I hadn't paid as much as I had - these are really more suitable for $1.99 ebooks than $11 paperbacks.

I appreciate Frankenstein's monster being evil (or at least amoral) and murderous, as opposed to the sympathetic approach usually given in the 20th Century, but at least in this installment he doesn't get a lot of page time.  This version suffers from either a poor, direct translation, or the fact that the French use way too many words.  Read Donald Glut for a better version of the same concept.

Overpriced paperback from Amazon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cat's Eye by William W. Johnstone

Cat's Eye
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra Books 1989

A sequel to Cat's Cradle, this installment mostly abandons the original premise and brings the story in line with his other Devil books.

A quick recap of that series (Devil's Kiss, Heart, Touch, Cat, Laughter) - Satan periodically picks a random American town and seduces almost all of its inhabitants.  The teenagers start being rude to the elderly, talking back to their parents, having orgies, killing babies, etc.  Then Beasts (stripped down werewolves) and the Undead (stripped down vampires) roam the town, and a hero ordained by God and a small handful of pure souls fight back with machine guns and grenades to a convoluted finish.

We start off with a bodyguard (the son of the hero in the first book, who evidently went through a lot in three years) being hired to protect his author daughter by a rich developer.  Unexpectedly, the rich guy is a conservationist, which is a good thing here.  And the town Sheriff is corrupt and worthless, also a big switch for Johnstone.

Johnstone does not work from an outline, and it shows here.  It shows real bad.  We start off with some bad slapstick.  Animated corpse parts kick people in the butt like an Army of Darkness schtick, and Satan himself catcalls characters with a disembodied voice.

The incoherence becomes an asset as Johnstone picks up steam.  Satan frees some prisoners who go on a raping spree.  Their rape victims become lizard women.  At some point Johnstone tries to shoehorn in a lot of the Satanic Panic nonsense floating around at the time.  There are over 100,000 satanic covens in America, about five times more than Catholic churches.  Almost the entire town is part of a coven, but they hide their heavy metal posters when the police get a search warrant.  It's not really a conspiracy anymore if 90% of the town is part of it.

Parenting advice: If your child listens to hard rock music, kill them and burn the corpse.

The bodyguard and few remaining non-Satanists mow down coven members, living dead, flesh eating maggots, etc, with a cache of grenades and flame throwers, the end.  This is the best book ever.

There is no cat baby.

Available in Kindle from Amazon

Click here to read a sample

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Dew Claws by Stephen Gresham

Dew Claws
by Stephen Gresham
1986 Zebra Books

Yep, this one.  I knew going in the story didn't match the cover (although there is a lot of banjo), that the story was more "quiet horror", but I'd go one further and say this isn't a horror novel at all.  More folksy southern fantasy.  Not that it's a bad thing - the story is well written and moves along nicely, but it's completely mispackaged.

Johnny Ray is a swamp boy who is taken up by the owners of a day care after his family disappeared in the swamp, killed by dew claws, some kind of water spirit elemental.  Johnny Ray is possessed by the spirit of the dew claws and spends the book visiting various folk healers: a swamp doctor, swamp witches, snake handlers, and Indian shaman.

There's a good sense of menace but nothing resembling scares, and nobody is more than scratched the whole book.

Used paperback from Amazon

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The NBC Saturday Morning Preview Revue 1974

There's a hierarchy of terrible television.  The seventies.  Kid's live action shows.  Specials.  So here's a special for live action TV in the 70s, staring all your favorite nightmares from Sid and Marty Krofft.

Supposedly, by the Pink Lady and Jeff era, the Kroffts were being horrible on purpose.  I can believe it here.  Every frame is more terrifying than the last.  HR Pufnstuf not terrifying enough?  How about marionettes.  Elvis Jimmy Osmond dancing with pimps not weird enough for you?  Bring in the clowns!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Killsquad 2: Mission Revenge by Frank Garrett

Killsquad 2: Mission Revenge
by Frank Garrett (Dan Schmidt)
1986 Avon

"These folks ain't right, Sarge.  Or I'd be gettin' a little chubby right now."

The Killsquad is a Deadly Dozen style strike force - let's meet the team:
John "Hangman" Smith - the leader.
Leroy "Lightning Bomber" Walker - ex-boxer convicted of murder.
Rollo "Icepick" Barnes - Harlem pimp and hit-man.
Tommy Williams - hillbilly bank robber.
Mac White - Bigot with a heart of gold, too mean for the KKK.
James Jackson - Fisherman and smuggler, framed for the murder of FBI agents.
Lucien Schnell - insane, serial killing, Nazi mercenary, in the brig this installment for attempting to desert in the first book.

The Preacher, Eli St. Judas, is on a mission to remove sinners from the Earth, starting with a shooting and firebomb spree by his followers on Times Square, the Preacher fapping away as he watches.  He's enlisted the aid of a team of mercenaries, who have their own agenda.

Probably the thinnest plot of any Men's Adventure book I've read, and that's saying something.  Some training, then off to raid the Preacher's orgy compound to see what they're up to.  They leave the Preacher alive for some reason when they discover the plot to kidnap Russian diplomats.  They run to foil the kidnapping, then run back for another raid on the Preacher's base.

Action scenes like midwest cooking - not that great, but there's a lot of it.  Well written but way too quick - this may be the first book that I wished was longer than it's 167 pages.

Used paperback from Amazon.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Sandman by William W. Johnstone

by William W. Johnstone
1988 Zebra Books

"What the hell!  Was this county filled with mysterious monsters?"

An evil kid meets evil ghost Jamaicans and gets the power to create blood-filled sand people.  The sand can dig it's way through people's pores and turn them into sand people who are also satanists.  The sand people eat people-people, stuffing roped intestines into their mouths.

That is, until Johnstone gets bored with it.  "The sand people are merely a distraction."  The kid influences others around him to do evil and we've got yet another Devil book, only on a smaller scale.  His sister gets another It inspired kid-power gang together and we get discussion of cosmic rules, this time in dialect.

"Ma mon, you too little to be speakin' to me lak dat.  I'm a big black mons.  You just a little white boy."

Unfocused, small scale, and phoned-in.

Available for Kindle from Amazon

Click here for a sample

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Great NBC Smilin' Saturday Morning Parade 1976

I thought I knew everything about obscure 70s kids TV, but almost every live action show here is new to me:

McDuff the Talking Dog
Big John, Little John
Monster Squad
The Kids From C.A.P.E.R.

Filmed at Magic Mountain, starring Freddy Prinze and all the cocaine in Columbia.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Toy Cemetery by William W. Johnstone

Toy Cemetery
by William W. Johnstone
1987 Zebra Books

"Grown men and women are thrust in to near-incestuous relationships with their kids; creatures roam the night; toys come alive; and the personalities of nearly everyone in town have been altered."
Johnstone lightened up a little for this one and let himself have a little fun.  A single father returns to his hometown to move into the house left by his recently departed Aunt.  She was a doll collector, and pretty much right out of the gate the dolls come to life in front of the police.

The townfolk are acting funny yadda yadda yadda, though this is one of the books where most of the town are oblivious and only some are actively evil.  We also revisit some of the Nursery in the form of a hospital doing secret experiments and an Ancient One figure.

It was the best selling book of 1986, so this time around (and the next book) we've got a bunch of kids running around like vigilante Boxcar Kids.  By the end we have a complete cluster: ceramic people, tiny headed mutants, satanists, machete wielding kids, evil toys, and good toys all slaughtering each other in the streets.

Not as nasty this time around aside from when our hero finds a cache of Satanic kiddie porn and proceeds to show it to everyone.

Available in Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Saturday Morning Sneak Peek ABC 1973

Avery Schreiber.
Live action Bugs Bunny.
Australian Rick Springfield.
Yogi Bear dancing to Australian Rick Springfield.
Australian Rick Springfield's psychedelic nightmare "Mission: Magic!".

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Baby Grand by Joseph E. Keene and William W. Johnstone

Baby Grand
by Joseph E. Keene and William W. Johnstone
1987 Zebra Books

"You look like a retarded penguin."

Bill Elliott is a soldier of fortune who retires and moves home to Tennessee to be a private detective.  His first case: investigate a haunted piano for his old friend Joe Conrad.  The piano plays music by itself and occasionally talks.

Meanwhile, someone is kidnapping and raping local virgins.  We never find out who or why, something about a ceremony.  This is the closest this book comes to the sleaziness we're used to from Johnstone.

Elliott hangs around town for a hundred pages or so, spending a lot of time with teen Carol.  He finds a book about local pianos at the library but some pages are torn out.

A zombie shows up in Conrad's house and hits Elliott over the head with a chair, and the piano chases him around the house, snapping it's lid while playing the theme from Jaws.  Elliott and Carol visit the haunted house next door.  There are eyes following them in paintings, flying candlesticks, the whole Haunted Mansion treatment.

Meanwhile, folks around town seem to be getting rude, and they stop bathing.  You know the drill by now.

For once, Johnstone doesn't lay all his cards on the table all at once.  Though once he finally does, he's got a seven high.

The piano belonged to the Wellingtons, a rich family who owns the town.  Old man Wellington got mad because nobody came to his kid's piano recital, so he sold his soul to Satan.  That's it.  That explains the possessed piano, why the town is full of evil people, and why folks are coming back to the dead as werewolves.

Not Beasts like the other books.  Actual dogs.  You sell your soul to Satan and you can be killed once, and you come back as a zombie who can turn into a dog.  A dog who can be easily killed a second time with conventional weapons.

Which Bill Elliott does by the score, while blowing up everything around with C4.  He sets the piano on fire, the end.

No consequences for murdering half the town, and tons of loose ends.  The librarian's mom may or not be a witch.  There was a ghost of a priest who does nothing.  Some business of Conrad's dead wife being possessed as a teen and Carol getting local rednecks to break his hands.

Speaking of Carol, Elliott remembers the he hooked up with her Mom nine months before she was born and finally puts things together, working that private detective mind of his.

Too long, too padded, too tame.  It may be all downhill from here.

Why is the skeleton man not wearing shoes?  And there are no children in the entire book.

Currently not available for Kindle, likely complicated by the dual authorship.  I'm curious about Keene's contributions - the only other book I could find by him was about songwriting.

Used paperback from Amazon.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Devil's Cat by William W. Johnstone

The Devil's Cat
by William W. Johnstone
1987, Zebra Books

Sam, Nydia, and Little Sam travel the country looking for towns that Satan has taken over.  They drive back to Whitfield, Nebraska, the scene of the first book to pick up a dog.  Does the dog have fleas?  He doesn't - Nydia just knows. He has no collar - none that earthly eyes can perceive.  Johnstone gets this out of the way early and thankfully doesn't spend a lot of time laboring over cosmic rules and people just knowing things.  Unfortunately, he also got rid of everything else the Devil series was good at.  Less violent, less gory, less rapey, more talky.

There are a couple of subplots that don't amount to much, such as a man turning into a panther and a couple of escaped mental patients, but otherwise it's a less focused version of the last book.  Sam's devil daughter Xaviere wants to have sex with him to breed some super witch or something and Sam wants to kill all the satanists.

Little Sam is a reverse Damien and Xaviere and her fcoven get forgotten about at the end of the book, the tablet is mentioned just once, and the conclusion is a completely disjointed mess, with way too many survivors to keep track of

Not the last Devil book, but the last to have the Balon family.  It ends with a jokey little sequence of the President making a joke about Democrats.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Genre Overview: Men's Adventure Magazines

Sometimes called, either derisively or affectionately, the Sweats, Men's Adventure Magazines ran from the early 50's through the late 60's, though some managed in one form or another through the late 70's.  The featured mostly "true story" type fiction, though there was usually a very thin pretense to how true it actually was.  The tone was ridiculously hyper-masculine, to the point where it's almost impossible to parody.  At least 50 titles began with the word Man or Men.

While the genre in many ways replaced the pulp magazines that had all but died out, the tone and feel were quite different, and there weren't a lot of authors who made the transition, having either quit writing, moved on to paperback originals, or drank themselves to death.  Likewise, with few exceptions, the writers of Men's Adventure magazines didn't move on to the Men's Adventure Paperbacks, a much different beast.  The only author to move up to any level of respectability was The Godfather's Mario Puzo.

Men's Adventure Magazines had their own feel and pace, developed due to the quick page count.  A situation and characters are introduced in a paragraph or two, there's a big action scene, and a brief epilogue.  There were longer stories, but they tended not to hold up as well.

First person narrative was very common, given the "true story" background.  In many ways, they had more in common with the True Confessions genre of women's magazines than the detective or adventure pulps.  This is especially evident in the amazing story titles: "I Was a Sex Gang Flunky for the Nazi She Demon", etc.

In addition to the machismo, there's the sadism.  Some magazines kept it clean, but others reveled in cruelty and torture.  And Nazis, lots of Nazis.

There were a few stock story topics, such as:
  • Exotic adventure
  • Mob/Crime stories
  • Animal attacks (Weasels Ripped my Flesh, etc)
  • War stories
  • Nazi atrocities
  • Westerns
  • Sex exposes

There were also "health" articles preying on men's sexual insecurities, with titles like "Why Your Lesbian Wife Would Rather Sleep With Communist Hippies" and the like.

The rise and decline of Men's Adventure Magazines tends to follow the trajectory of sexploitation movies.  In film, we had Nude Cuties, the sadistic Roughies, hard core porn with actual stories, then just people doing it.

"Gentleman's" magazines like Playboy ran on a parallel track, and only a couple Men's Adventure magazines grew from earlier nudie mags (Sir! is the only one I can think of).  If you look over the covers (Galactic Central is a good place), every title that survives into the 60s starts slipping in photos of half naked women on the cover for a year or so before the painted action scenes are dropped altogether.

More and more page length was given to nude pictures, and the titles either dropped completely or became full blown spank mags.  A few of them, such as Sir! and Male, had some fiction up to the late 70's, before the text either disappeared or became pure sexology.

The lurid covers get most of the attention nowadays, but recently some of the texts have been reprinted as well.  Click on the links below for the Amazon pages.

Cover galleries and overviews:

It's A Man's World: Men's Adventure Magazines, The Postwar Pulps, Expanded Edition
Bruce Minney: The Man Who Painted Everything

Story reprints:

A Handful of Hell: Classic War and Adventure Stories
Cryptozoology Anthology: Strange and Mysterious Creatures in Men's Adventure Magazines
He-Men, Bag Men & Nymphos: Classic Men's Adventure Stories
Weasels Ripped My Flesh! Two-Fisted Stories From Men's Adventure Magazines
Soft Flesh And Orgies Of Death: Fiction, Features & Art From Classic Men's Adventure Magazines
Soft Nudes For The Devil's Butcher: Fiction, Features And Art From Classic Men's Adventure Magazines
Soft Brides For The Beast Of Blood: Fiction, Features And Art From Classic Men's Adventure Magazines

And if you need a non-stop infusion of machismo, visit the Trash Menace Gallery, with over seven hours of cover slideshows.