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.
Muggsy

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


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, 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.


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Wolfsbane by William Johnstone

Wolfsbane
by William Johnstone
1982 Zebra Books


"It's called dog-fashion,"

Like werewolves?  Too bad, this book is about a witch.  There are werewolves in it, sure, but just they only pop up quickly enough to get shotgunned down.

In 1934, rural Louisiana,  a suspected rugaru/loup garou/werewolf/bigfoot thing is killed.  Decades later, his widow vows to destroy the bloodlines of her husband's murderers.Her granddaughter Janette, wanting to get to the bottom of the family curse, recruits a burned out special forces vet Pat Strange to help her.

Pat Strange is not a racist.
Pat was not a racist; he did not hate men for the color of their skin.
As usual with statements like these, we're immediately given evidence to the contrary.
He also tried to understand the passions of black Africans - those with some degree of intelligence - to govern themselves.
Pat is the "God's Warrior" of this book, and he comes to a town where folks have gotten unfriendly and stopped going to church.  Some people "just know" things, there's a proxy war between God and Satan with rules nobody follows anyway, arbitrary timelines.

All the usual Devil series trappings, and less.  Aside from a couple of ritual killings, there's nothing resembling a horror novel for most of the book.  People talking, and talking about what they talked about, and talking about that.  Much of it in Cajun dialect, which read more Jamaican in my head.

Pat and the local Sheriff gather up the surviving descendants of the 1934 killing, but I can't be bothered to keep track of a bunch of new characters introduced this late who don't do anything.

After all the talk and rules and blah blah blah, Pat just storms the house and shotguns the hell out of everything.  Walking dead, werewolves, even the witch go down pretty quick.  Pretty good scene, with slipping around in looping intestines and heads flying off shoulders, but it doesn't make up for pages of "I naw tum ting bou ragaru, a ight?"

Epilogue:  Wisecracking Satan has long sarcastic conversations with Pat about sports and holds him in suspended animation for five years.  Pat decides to dedicate his life to stopping Satan's plans.  After pages and pages of talking about his luggage and getting new clothes.

Both the dullest and most poorly written of the Johnstone books I've read so far.  His sentence constructs seemed a bit off, and despite pulling out all the stops at the end, not much going on.  There are a couple of the most disturbing sequences, with an ancient witch raping me as part of ritual murder.  You don't run into the phrase "leathery labia" too much in horror fiction.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Trash Menace Gallery

Blood Moon by Mason Burgess
Blood Moon by Mason Burgess




Bounty Hunter #3: The Wild Ride by Tiny Boyles and Hank Nuwer




Ninja Master 3: Borderland of Hell by Wade Barker



More than you can handle over on tumblr.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Jack-in-the-Box by William Johnstone

Jack-in-the-Box
by William Johnstone
1986, Zebra Books


Jack-In-The-Box centers around nine-year-old Nora and is part Omen knock off (666 birthmark, ability to cause accidents around her), part Exorcist rip-off (she does the owl imitation three times and spits out slime twice), and all Johnstone.

Nora's father Phillip and brother Phil mistrust young Nora, but her mother Jeanne protects her, though she has secrets of her own.  Phillip is compelled to buy Nora an evil Jack-in-the-Box which plays the funeral march and has human teeth.  Like the rockinghorse in Rockinghorse, it doesn't do much more than show up on the cover.

The box was used by a Nazi officer in the concentration camp, though it's evil is more satanic than Naziish.  Phillip learns that his daughter is either possessed or born pure evil, and works with a child psychologist and priest to try an exorcise her.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Valhalla

It's probably unfair to constantly accuse other theme parks of ripping off Disney.  I'm sure there were a lot of Nordic themed flume rides with a backwards section before Maelstrom.  Again, I probably prefer this one.  Hard to see most of the ride in the video, but there's much more of a sense of water than Maelstrom - aside from the oil rig scene, you hardly felt like you were in a boat.  And 100% less Olaf.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Rockinghorse

Rockinghorse
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra, 1986



"Some little voice tells me my formerly liberal husband has now changed into a hardline conservative"

A New York lawyer and his family spend the summer in the mysterious Georgia plantation mansion he has inherited.  We've got a creepy caretaker, strange going ons in the woods, and a creepy wooden rockinghorse.  There's only one road in and out of town, the townsfolk have been acting strangely, and there's word of devil worshiping and, yeah, this is starting to look more like another Devil series installment.

This is what happens when you don't plot things - your haunted house story starts becoming like every other book you write.  The lawyer gets knocked unconscious and tattooed with a rockinghorse.  The family gets attacked and the daughter almost raped.  But, hey, we've got the whole summer, let's stick around and see what happens.

There's some kind of coven nearby, some bigfoot creatures called Rejects, and ghost children.  How are we going to tie all this together?  How about a siege by Satanic cultists?  But first, let's add twenty more characters.

The coven turn out to be friendly college professors.  A state trooper with his psychic wife join up, and for good measure let's have two entire families come to visit.  An international devil cult called the Brotherhood are interested in the house.  They want to perform a ceremony with the lawyer and the psychic and they needed other people to be there - not too well spelled out.  Luckily we have a psychic lady, and now all the kids are psychic, so they just "know" stuff.  My favorite Johnstone device.

There's like fifty people in the house now - I thought Johnstone was stocking the plot with victims, but I think only like one dies.  I suspect the real purpose is so he could have people explain the same things to each other to fill word count.  It's like this old chestnut...


...except instead of saying "Doctor", there's two pages of a character not believing a supernatural phenomena and gradually coming to accept it.

Just when the book had me skimming through page upon page of the same Rockinghorse being chopped up and burned for the fourth time, the Brotherhood attacks!  Dozens of cultist set up a perimeter and start torturing off-page - sorry, sodomy fans, only one off-page sodomy this time around, just barely enough to fill Johnstone's sodomy quota.

To even the score, God disables electricity and firearms.  Combustion engines still work, include CHAINSAWS BABY!  The lawyer spins one around like he's in a Peter Jackson movie and makes everything worthwhile.

Johnstone then proceeds to piss this goodwill down his leg and completely ruins the pace by having a lengthy sequence of the State Police divining that something is going down at the mansion because some officers have called in sick.  The cops find all the residents in the town asleep and their weapons useless, but just to make sure they try firing them about a dozen times.  This unnecessary insertion of a couple extra cops at the end is repeated later in Sweet Dreams.

The twelve year old that the text has been perving on the whole book gets raped and then forgives the floating corpse of the rapist.  This causes the rockinghorse to hide in the attic and the remaining Brotherhood members to run into the woods to be slaughtered by bigfeet off-page.  The kids set fire to the house, which for some reason they couldn't do before, the end.

Well,almost the end.  A couple more chapters of the Governor and State Police scratching their heads and comically being befuddled.  But it was all worth it for the CHAINSAW!

Available in Kindle from Amazon.

Click here for a sample.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Alice's Wonderland

Same layout as the Disney one, but I like this one better, as the design seems based more on the original book illustrations.  The soundtrack, weirdly, seems to be Golden Ticket from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, which does sound a bit like Painting the Roses Red.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach - The New, Branded Stuff

Blackpool follows the international trend of taking the kiddie-ride area and randomly assigning branded names from whoever they have a licensing agreement with, in this case Nickelodeon.  The only one of worth is Dora, because it's a boat ride.




There's also a Wallace and Gromit dark ride - never could get into them


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sweet Dreams by William W. Johnstone

Sweet Dreams
by William W. Johnstone
1985 Zebra



Alright, strap yourself in.

Our jumping off point is the phenomena of ghostly lights seen around Missouri.  I don't know if this is specifically the Missouri Headlights, I mean, Spook Lights -



There's also an archaeological dig at an Indian burial site.  A Manitou, or Indian spirit thingee, uses the light to travel in and rape women.  He rapes a doctor's wife and explodes her head with electricity, but it's ok because she was an evil harpy because she didn't like that he was cheating on her with his secretary.  Dames.

Said doctor performs an autopsy on his own wife then sleeps with his new psychiatrist girlfriend the same night.  This is our hero.  The two doctors befriend a couple of little kids who are special.  Special how?  Maybe we'll find out later, if Johnstone remembers (he doesn't).

We move into the Devil series template here.  The town is isolated, with people getting amnesia if they cross the border in either direction.  The townspeople inclined towards evil get superevil and work for the Manitou.  Of course, this includes all the teenagers.  A handful (the kids, the doctors, a preacher, and a couple of cops) stay normal.  Everyone else becomes a zoned out zombie, shuffling through a semblance of normal life.

The kids' parents have incestuous orgies while they're trying to sleep and the kids' toys come to life and start banging each other.  What's going on?  Luckily, there's a magic Indian man to explain everything.  And, yes, he's a drunk.

The Manitou is very dangerous and can't be stopped by Western Jesus magic.  Only another Manitou can stop it, or maybe the kids, or the medicine man's magic, or maybe he can't be stopped, but definitely not by anything God can do.

So, something something about being between two worlds.  We have to go to the haunted house!  The drunks, kids, doctors, and cops force their way through a storm to get to the haunted house.  The woman cop gets blown away by the wind, raped some, then teleports back to the house with a sore tush.

Yeah, the raping.  There's a lot of rape in this book.  Like, twenty or something.  Every character's backstory involves rape.  Child rape, monster rape, ghost rape, all the rape is in this book.  Never seen so many anuses get "bulled" into.

So the group gets to the haunted house and hit a time warp to 1890.  Their clothes change to old timey clothes, but they're invisible spirits so it doesn't matter, and they run into the evil man that lived there in 1890 who is also a ghost at the same time.  He rapes a bunch of kids.

They befriend a ghost dog and the Manitou starts confronting everyone with illusions of their darkest fears.  The evil man that is also a ghost says he works for Satan, who might be teaming up with the Manitou, but let's not go anywhere with that.  The cops fight a living wall of human flesh with pointy sticks.

We're three fourths of the way through, so let's introduce a bunch of new characters.  Some cops figure out how to get into town and keep their memories.  They team up with a priest and go to the haunted house.

There's a running subplot about a teacher (yes, she gets raped) who get's possessed by the Manitou, wears Indian clothes, and skins men alive.  The skinned men still live and she joins the evil rapey people on a raid on the haunted house.

The rapey people get shot, and the skinned people melt under holy water and crosses, because that works now.  That thing about Jesus magic not working?  Never mind, it works fine.  God just opens up an earthquake, the Manitou falls in, the end.

But wait...EPILOGUE !!!

The Manitou crawls out of the ground into a lake a couple days later.  So much for Jesus magic.  Only a few pages left, can we squeeze in a couple more rapes?  Because the Manitou babies grow fast, and in one year they'll be full grown and the Manitou will strike again.

How are the kids doing?  They're apprehensive, because they've got the feeling that in one year this will all happen again.

Johnstone was nice enough to even list all of his own plot holes and lost threads there at the end:

  • The kids were supposed to be special, didn't do anything.
  • The magic Indian was supposed to be special, all he did was give wrong information and die somehow.
  • The spook lights got forgotten.
  • So much was made about God not being in the same world as the Manitou, yet this couldn't be more of a deux es machina if it got wheeled down on ropes.
  • None of what anyone did mattered.  God could have zapped the Manitou whenever he wanted and saved the town a lot of rape.

But don't worry, all these loose threads will be tied up in one year in the sequel that Johnstone is shamelessly plugging that never happened.

There were no dreams, sweet or otherwise.

The Kindle edition was done by the Lyrical Press imprint of Kensington Books, an ostensibly real publishing company.  They evidently had an intern just scan in a paperback, complete with OCR errors and the original back matter.  I just sent Zebra my 50 cents for their catalog.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach - River Caves

This one goes way back to 1905, though not looking like this, I'm sure.  Despite the carny Tunnel of Love load area, the rest is very well laid out.  Kind of comes across like a dimly lit Small World without the dolls - not a bad thing, mind you.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Grand Prix

Riding go karts or Autopia style cars are a bore in themselves, only brightened by the scenery.  The one at Blackpool is a treat, if you like winding in and out of bridges, tracks, and pathways.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Nursery by William W. Johnstone

The Nursery
by William W. Johnston
1983, Zebra Books



"What is this preoccupation with anal sex?"

You been liking those Devil books?  Good, here's pretty much the same thing, but with fewer werewolves and even more butt rape, if such a thing was possible.

Macho retired military man Mike Folsom returns home to Butler, Louisiana to find that folks aren't too friendly anymore.  He hooks up with small town girl Rana Carter, who slowly fills him in with the details.  The town has been taken over by millionaire philanthropist John Becker.  Folks attend his satanic church, he controls the police, the phone lines, and the roads.  Children are sent to re-education camps and come out different.

Oh, and by the way, they'll kill you if you try to leave.  Kind of buried the lede there.  Mike collects Rana's foul-mouthed daughter and his old high school friends who haven't turned to the dark side yet.  People hang out in the house and recap the same information to each other for a couple of hundred pages, with the occasional incestual butt rape scene to keep you awake.

Things pick up quickly when Mike figures out he's God's Warrior and starts mowing down teenagers in the street with an AK-47.  He attacks the titular nursery, which is a laboratory where stolen fetuses are grown in stolen uteri and brainwashed to hate God.  He heads out to Becker's mansion and kills the Old One, a semi-immortal demon type who has to go into Odinsleep wrapped up with a bunch of bodies to feed on.

The townsfolk become semi-comatose and have forgotten the last ten years.  The military moves in, and we're left with the chilling notion that brainwashed children are spread out through the country.

This is like the Mexican flea market version of the Devil series, and better for it.  Pretty much the same, with just enough differences to separate it from the series.  We've got yet another cowardly Catholic priest who ends up being centuries old.  There's a double agent working for the government who ends up being a ghost or an angel.  We've got Mike just knowing stuff, and even though he keeps it to a minimum he still manages to screw it up.  "This all ends in seventy two...I mean, twenty four hours."

No beasts this time around, and the undead are different.  Instead of being mindless vampires, they're more like spirits with extensive powers, such as the ability to teleport anywhere within the state lines of Louisiana.  The undead are more independent and split from Becket's control, using their newfound abilities to (altogether now) buttrape.

Happily, there are no scenes of God and Satan whining to each other, or much talk about cosmic rules.  Doesn't mean there isn't too much meaningless talking.  Johnstone could have had 300 pages of teenagers torturing old people and Mike Folsom shooting off crotches and I don't think anyone would complain.

The story is bookended with a page about children who can bring their stuffed animals to life, which is maybe setting up a sequel.  He does use the living stuffed animals idea again in Sweet Dreams, and from what I remember it involved buttrape.

The Nursery is only one of two Johnstone horror novels not to be re-released in Kindle.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach - Transportation Rides

Let's take a look around, first from above from the now-defunct monorail




And my favorite view, from below, via the train




I love how, even on rides so painfully generic you can't possibly be accused of knocking off Disney, they still knock off Disney.  Or does every train ride have dinosaurs?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Blackpool Pleasure Beach

Two words I don't associate with England: Pleasure and Beach.  The British seaside resorts strike me as equal parts sleazy and depressing, but my closest direct experience has been through Benny Hill skits, so what do I know.

At a distance, the seaside parks struck me as a third rate Coney Island, which itself is a third rate Six Flags or Kennywood, which etc., etc.  Taking a closer look, they have up-to-date rides, meaning roller coasters, corporate sponsorship, and light guns.  However, there are a few treats to be found.

What Blackpool Pleasure Beachs lacks in theming in makes up for in multilayered claustrophobia, with rides and walkways piled up haphazardly on top of each other.  I've always enjoyed intertwining paths and being able to see other rides from the ride I'm on, something Disney only has with the Peoplemover.


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cat's Cradle

Cat's Cradle
by William W. Johnstone
Zebra, 1986

(review previously published 1/13/14)




Anya and Pet are a little girl and cat who were created by a Egyptian cult thousands of years ago.  Every 25 years they awaken, eat a few people, then go back into hibernation.  A mining crew disturbs their hiding place and when they are attacked they become mummies.  And the mummies attack other people and they become rapist mummies.  And the woman the mummy rapes come back to life and, well, Johnstone kind of loses track at this point.

A severed mummy arm at first starts sprouting a new body, then instead spits out flesh eating maggots that fill an entire room.  Cats start attacking people en masse, and demonic Old Ones crawl out of bleeding gashes in the ground and set people on fire with their eyes.

That's the good stuff.  The blah stuff is Sheriff Dan, the Johnstonian hero.  His children obedient, his wife strong but knows when a woman should shut up.  He spends half of his time complaining that the federal government is lying and covering things up, and the other half lying to the press and covering things up.

Most of the wordage is Dan and his crew dealing with multiple government agencies that involve the FBI, CIA, KGB, corporations, and religious groups.  He also is harassed by a liberal muckraking reporter who doesn't trust the government.  You'd think she'd make an interesting ally, but she's shut away in a cell and mostly forgotten about.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Things I Didn't Finish - The Beast of Barcroft by Bill Schweigart



The Beast of Barcroft
by Bill Schweigart
Hydra, 2015

The Beast of Barcroft by [Schweigart, Bill]

I started this because I had never read an urban big cat cryptozoological horror novel before.  And I still haven't, because this about some shapeshifter Indian magic skinwalker whatever.  And yes, I know I'm being particular.

An animal hoarder causes problems in an Arlington suburb and may have attracted a mountain lion, but that didn't happen because it's an Indian magic were-mountain lion.  A neighbor teams up with a big cat expert from the Smithsonian, who would know about urban big cats but wouldn't know anything about Indian magic, and they later team up with a cryptozoologist, who might know a little more about skinwalkers, but hey, just look it up on Wikipedia.

Even with the lack of urban big cats, animal hording could be a good backdrop for a horror story.  It isn't here, but it could be.  And if you like Indian magic skinwalker were-urban big cats, you might have more patience for the endless council meetings and code enforcement discussions than I did.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Beasts by Stephen R. George

Beasts
by Stephen R. George
1989, Zebra Books




A couple contract a mutant form of rabies which gives them super-powers and a thirst for blood.  The man controls his urges with medication, while the woman takes off on a killing spree across the country.

Michael Smith returns to his home town for a vacation and falls in love with a single mother bookstore clerk.  His ex comes to haunt them, leaving a trail of bodies as she goes.

The body count and level of gore were probably sufficient, but the blandness of everything else just brought the whole level down.  This is like a muzak cover of a horror novel, only without the charm.

Even the characters seem sleepy and unmotivated.  People are having their throats ripped out as soon as I come into town - could it be my bloodthirsty, serial killing ex?  Eh, maybe, I'll futz around for a hundred pages or so before I make the connection.  Hey, your serial killer ex gave my kid a vial of blood, but yeah, we'll just stay here alone at home, I'm sure things will be fine.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Shadow Child by Joseph A. Citro

Shadow Child
by Joseph A. Citro
1987, Zebra Books


Mysterious deaths in rural Vermont, possibly connected to mysterious ancient stone structures.  Slow moving, but with a surprisingly good payoff.  The tone kind of depressed me, as it accurately captured a certain small town sadness.  Not in a David Lynch kind of way, just old folks drinking hard liquor, pretending to work on cars, and avoiding their wives while they slowly wait to die.

Citro does a great balancing job with a lot of his elements.  Just enough violence without getting silly, just enough explaining without spoiling the mystery.  Given that Citro is primarily a "non-fiction" writer on Unexplained Vermont, he didn't go overboard on the exposition.

No clowns, but props on having evil fairies.  Not enough evil fairies in horror literature.  Guardian Angels is a sequel.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Devil's Touch by William W. Johnstone

The Devil's Touch
by William W. Johnstone
1984 Zebra Books


"Who cut off your father's testicles and penis?"

Some quick beast rape and some teen deflowering with a Lucifer dildo for a prologue and we're catching up with the Balons.  It's three years later.  Sam and Nydia are married and still half-siblings.  Their child Sam Jr. is two years old, and we don't know yet if he's the spawn of Satan or just the product of inbreeding.  They live in Logandale, New York, and attend Nelson College.

The local Satanic coven is plotting against the Balons.  Janet Sakall, the child sleeper agent of Satan from the last book, is now a teenager and the babysitter of the Balons.  She plots to sleep with Sam, while forces conspire to have young teen Jon Le Moyne seduce Nydia.

Things get moving pretty quickly.  The coven has taken over Logandale and the Balons gather up the select to fight them.  This time it's a couple members of the local police, some church leaders, and an author who went mad investigating the occult.

We get a little more time spent with the coven this time around, showing their recruitment methods, ceremonies, and incestual orgies.  Under the influence of Satan, Sam sleeps with Janet and another satanic moll Desiree Lemieux, while Nydia sleeps with Jon.  Satan lifts his influence, the two forgive each other, and go on as normal, unlike all the other Christian teens of Logandale who turn evil after being raped.

The good guys take over a fortified house and Balon runs around town sniping Satanists and starting fires.  One of the priests may be an immortal ancestor of the Balons.  Balon's demon child is now a teenager, Princess Xaviere, and wants to sleep with her father, and this must happen on Friday between 6 PM and midnight because of those rules everyone is constantly breaking.  This was the goal of the witch characters every book, every book it happens, and nothing ever seems to come of it.

The tablet is back, and for the first time we kind of know of why it's important.  If the tablet is destroyed, the person destroying it "will have some control over the actions of Satan."  And again, the tablet just gets teleported away by Satan.

The fires kill everyone, Xaviere sneaks off, and the Balon's ride off into the sunset.

Perhaps the first time I've seen this in a book - there are looooong excerpts from the last installment.  Pages of them.  We also find out that Sam Jr. was part of the Dog Teams, the fictional unit of another, non-horror series of Johnstone's.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Horror Stories by Francis James

Horror Stories by Francis James
Reprinted by Radioarchives

Music of the Damned
Seven fingered warriors with a triangle cut out over their lips guard an ancient Aztec treasure.  "A flood of crimson belched out of the ripped flesh."

Nursery of Horror
"Between the scrawny, withered breasts, the old crone had another mouth!"
This is the stuff right here.  With basically no set-up, deformed monsters attack a woman in her home.  Two heads, seven legs, all kinds of stuff.  No Scooby-Doo cop out here: a mad scientist creates a new race of humanity by interbreeding freaks created with prenatal x-ray exposure.  He kidnaps women and has them tortured with whips, the rack, and itching powder until they consent to marry the creatures and spawn their horrid offspring.

When Men Died Screaming
A mansion was built at the mouth of hell, raising the furor of legendary Rumptilkin.  A lengthy hillbilly-gang-rape-menacing scene takes up a big chunk of this one.

The Woman Who Killed For Satan
A ranting hobo inexplicably drives women to publicly strip naked for him, and the men who become aroused are engulfed in flame.  There's a War of the Worlds reference, as the hobo is able to take over the radio waves.

Valley of Corpses
We're getting past the prime of Weird Menace here in 1940.  Spooky ghosts and implied violence.

Scourge of the Faceless Man
Another 1940 tale.  The advantage of the Weird Menace pulps getting tamed down is that they also went off-formula.  A mutated form of leprosy takes over the town, and only magical mummy juice can grant immunity.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Teacher's Pet by Andrew Neiderman

Teacher's Pet
by Andrew Neiderman
1985, Zebra



A sinister tutor comes to a small town and works with some of the local children.  Their grades improve, but they are also groomed into a team of sociopaths.  They frame a teacher for pedophilia and hammer a student to death for bad-mouthing their tutor.  The end.

Low stakes stuff here.  You've got horror, then terror, then thriller, then suspense, and four more levels down you've got Teacher's Pet.  It might have not been so bad without the horror novel packaging, but then I wouldn't have read it in the first place.

I expected the tutor to be some full blown Svengali or Charles Manson or Lucifer, and instead he's Mystery from the Pick Up Artist.  His machinations get him a quickie with a bored housewife and that's about it.

Neiderman is capable of suspense, but there's none here.  After the one act of violence I expected some tension with the kids worrying about getting caught, turning on each other, etc., but no.  The tutor turns them in himself and moves to the next town.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A Crying Shame by William W. Johnstone

A Crying Shame
by William W. Johnstone
1983 Zebra Books


I hope you brought some Vaseline, 'cause, mercenary, we are definitely going to get it on.

In a small, swampy Louisiana Parish, strange half-human/half-ape creatures called Links have been kidnapping women for breeding stock over the decades.  They've interbred to the point that they're almost human, and some of the more human-like offspring are left in the city for humans to care for.  Many of the remainder have been driven mad by a form of rabies, driving them to rape and cannibalism.

Linda Breaux's house is attacked by Links and her brother killed.  The next morning, mercenary Jon Badon shows up, having been hired by the brother previously to capture three sample Links before slaughtering the rest.

Badon is deputized by Sheriff Mike Saucier and sets up in Linda's house.  The governor gets involved, sending in state police as well as his sex-crazed aide Tammy to live in Linda's house, seemingly for the sole purpose of adding sexual tension.

Linda and Tammy both lust after the manly merc, Tammy doing so with less dignity than an 80s phone sex operator.  Badon is joined by his scientist friends while the military moves in and the local rednecks posse up.  The townsfolk with Link blood start feeling the call of the swamp and turn against the humans.

A Crying Shame doesn't give away much as a title - maybe The Bigfoot Rape Massacre was a little too on the nose.  Like a pornier, more violent take on the Boggy Creek movies.  In addition to the multiple Bigfeet gangrape scenes we've got many, many "regular" sex scenes as well, and half the casual dialogue sounds like it's from a college dorm room.  Butt lube is discussed three times.  I'm shocked this happened in Reagan's America.

The action kind of peaks early, so by the time Badon is throwing grenades and mowing down Links with his AK it felt a bit samey, but Johnstone definitely over-delivered on his premise.  Maybe my favorite so far, and good enough that I have a hard time believing he wrote the Ashes series.

This is listed in places as being in the Devil series, as number 7 for some reason.  It isn't, and in fact, the idiot Lieutenant Governor believes the Links are satanic because he just read a book called the Devil's Kiss, a cute little wink from Johnstone.  Watchers in the Woods may be a sequel, and Johnstone did retcon the Cat book into the Devil series, so maybe he pulls out some Crisis on Infinite Earths deal and puts everything in the same multiverse.  We'll find out later this year.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Devil's Heart by William W. Johnstone

Devil's Heart
by William W. Johnstone
1983 Zebra Books


"I'm gonna shove this meat up where I think your God lives."

It's twenty-twoish years after the end of part one.  Jane Ann has given birth to Sam Jr., and Nydia (now Roma) gave birth to twins, Sam and Nydia.  The two Sam's are college roommates, and Sam Jr. has been invited to Black's family resort in Canada, where he meets his sexy half-sister and her sexy mom, who constantly wonders if Jr. is equipped like Sr.

Back in Whitfield, Sam's stepfather Tony King has joined the forces of darkness, along with 850 of a population of 1050.  Of those, aside from weak-sauce Christians who don't count, the only really faithful are Jane Ann, Miles and Doris, and Wade and Anita.

Sam Sr. communicates with his family though cheesy parlor tricks, like glowing bibles and crosses.  He sends a radio message to Sam Jr. to go to the airport, where he mystically manifests a long letter, telling Jr. to kill all the Satanist at Falcon house and destroy the magic tablet I'm not sure what it does, and that Nydia is his half-sister.  Sam and Nydia load up on holy water and head back to the Falcon House.

Sam and Nydia can now block the psychic powers of Falcon and Roma, and can communicate with each other telepathically, probably because of the fact that they're brother and sister, and the grace of God's will.  So they start banging.

More college kids are invited to Falcon House.  Most are coven members, but a few are innocents who will be either recruited or victimized.  Being a brave Christian soldier, Sam risks his life to save those he can.  JK - like his Dad, he blows off the weak as a lost cause.

Meanwhile, Sam Sr. hangs out with his old friends in the form of a mist while Miles creates an eight foot high golem.

Sam Jr. reveals that he was a secret government assassin and is able to kill without feeling or remorse.  Nydia asks him what it means to be a Christian.  Sam Jr. has no idea, and then talks about how he's going to kill her family.  Time for her baptism!  God feeds the words to Sam Jr. as he baptizes his half-sister who he's sleeping with.  Sam Jr. just starts knowing things.  Meanwhile, Black is seducing one of the college virgins with his "angry red glans."

Sam Jr. and Nydia check out a shrine of rocks around a Beast cave.  They have a vision of Sam Sr. being raped by Roma/Nydia mom, and Sam Sr. throws his gun through a timewarp to his son.

Back in Whitfield, the spirit mist of Sam Sr. tells his wife that she will be raped to death and that God will do nothing to stop it.  Might have been nice to tell her this when she could still get out of town.

The coven needs a virgin for a ceremony.  They ran out of women, so Black rapes one of the male guests, which pisses off Satan, who's a total 'phobe, it turns out.  He materializes, calls them all losers, and decides to bring in reinforcements.

In Whitfield, the couple hundred Christians who somehow weren't Christian enough are being slaughtered while astronomers are seeing the face of God in the stars.

More cultist show up at Falcon House, with extra young victims in tow.  Time to lay the cards on table: they won't harm him for the next five days while they try to turn them to the dark side.  The archangel Michael flies through space and destroys an altar with a sword.

Sam Sr. floats around being annoying and cryptic.

"Is there pizza in heaven, Sam?"
"In a manner of speaking.  But the toppings are not like those known to mortals."
"Do they have pepperoni?"
"In a sense, they do.  And they do not.  I've...said too much."
"Too much about what?"
"Just telling you that I've said too much is...saying too much."
Sam Jr. hangs around Falcon House listening to children being raped and claiming there's nothing he can do.  It's not like he's some highly trained government assassin or something.  Nydia wants to have sex again, so Sam Jr. slaps her around.  He's assaulted by erotic visions of her mons veneris, which is not a spaceport in Star Wars, it turns out.  He gets ready to "enter the wetness of woman ready" when they come to their senses and read the Bible until the horny goes away.

Sunday comes around, and the coven cannot make a move towards Sam Jr. or Nydia.  Not that they've done anything anyway.  A perfect time for Sam to slaughter the lot, only he "knows" that it isn't the proper time yet.

In Whitfield, the Coven make a final assault on the two couples and their golem before giving up.  The coven is trapped in town in an invisible force field and they know God has defeated them.  In other words, no action here for a few days either.

At Falcon House, where nobody can harm Sam Jr. and Nydia, Sam is knocked out and Nydia killed.  He comes to her funeral and the Coven has had a change of heart.  Roma asks Sam to baptized them all, even though it would mean certain death.  This is, of course, a ruse.  Roma's perfume intoxicates him and she rapes him, while Falcon rapes Nydia's corpse.

Nydia comes back to life and the voice of God demands that the siblings quickly have sex - "May your seed be strong."  He showers, she douches, and he hopes his sperm is stronger than Falcon's to knock her up first.  Roma knows she is pregnant, and will die giving birth to an immortal demon, a demon that can only be killed by a chosen one, who would have to be conceived by the same father during the same time period, and yes, Johnstone's setting up the next sequel.

Falcon and Roma try to get permission from Satan to break the rules and kill Sam, while Sam and Nydia marry themselves in the woods.  The voice of God appears and tells Sam he shouldn't fight yet and - look, I'm no going to keep track of all this.  It's all just an obnoxious plot contrivance to explain away why Johnstone doesn't want to write more than a couple action sequences at most.

Some action heroes stay alive despite facing overwhelming odds by depending on their skills and cunning.  Sam Jr. stays alive because all the villains want him to be alive.  Satan has a double agent in his own camp who has been tasked with keeping Balon and his newly conceived child alive.  We don't know who she is, but on a completely unrelated note, young college student Linda has come to Sam Jr. and Nydia for protection.  The pentagram on her chest is totally a birthmark, no reason to be suspicious.

Roma is already having pains from her demon pregnancy, while the Falcon and Sam's sperm are still fighting it out in Nydia's womb.  Her egg might not be fertilized until after the baby is born, which says a lot for the state of sex education.

After a good night sleep in the mansion filled with satanists that just raped and beat them, Sam, Nydia, and Linda need to be prepared for an attack.  In a few hours, plenty of time to talk things out first.  They head to the forest with a good viewing platform of the altar.

At midnight the Coven have a ceremony, gang-raping a preteen and drinking her blood.  A merman/goat shows up.  Bats poop over them.  Imps run around.  A second girl is sacrificed, then Sam figures maybe he could actually use his Tommy gun on the unarmed coven who won't fight back, but no.  He just knows it's not time yet.

More creatures appear in the sky.  Johnstone pulls a Lovecraft and doesn't describe them lest we all go mad.  A third child victim, Janet, manages to sneak away and join up with our trio.  Sam finally gets to shoot something, a griffon, and Janet is attacked by rats.  They run until they reach a point that they are protected, and the voice tells Sam the monsters won't be able to kill him if he believes in God.

Guess Sam knows the time is right and guns down ambushing cultists, takes their rifles, and starts sniping.  He sets up traps in the woods while the archangel Michael slays all the mythological creatures.

In Whitfield, Jane Ann is taken and gang-raped by the whole town, just like God wants her to.  Sam Jr. is told by the voice that Satan has the tablet, the tablet that we don't know what it does and if Satan can just grab it whenever he wants why does he send archaeologists digging for it.  Sam has 24 hours to finish the rest of his mission, but he has to be away from Falcon House in 22 hours, so really 22 hours.  Sam takes a nap while his mom gets raped for a few more pages.

Jane Ann converts some of the Coven back as she hangs on a cross.  They beg God's forgiveness and are crucified and skinned alive by the rest of the coven.  At Falcon House, Sam Jr. finally cuts loose, massacring the coven with holy water and his Tommy gun.  Falcon shoots him as Sam throws holy water in his face.

Nydia drags Sam out of the burning house, having dispatched Linda offpage.  In Whitfield, Sam Sr.'s friends transform into spirits and go to heaven with Jane Ann.  A fireball destroys the town while Sam Jr. recovers from his wounds.

Epilogue:
Roma dies giving birth to a demon baby.  Nydia has her own child, and Janet offers to help raise him, but oh, no!  She has vampire teeth.

Duh duh duuhhhh.

Highlights: Definitely the porniest of the series, and also the most overtly religious, often at the same time.  If you read only one Devil book, this is the one.  It's all downhill from here.

Lowlights: More page length devoted to why characters can't explain the things they aren't explaining than there is to shooting down mythological creatures with a Tommy gun.

We'll take a look at the third Devil book another time.  I'm not allowed to say when, but you will receive a sign, and know when the time is right.  I've...said too much.

Available for Kindle from Amazon.

Click here to read a sample.


Monday, February 13, 2017

Zebra Books 1974-1982 - Men's Adventure

Zebra didn't do a lot of Men's Adventure in the 70s, but the ones they did were among the genre's most unusual.  The 80s brought us more standard (and longer lived) titles.  I've left out western series and war memoirs.

1974

The Killers by Klaus Nettson (Netzen in the UK), 7 books 1974-6
Simon Rack by Laurence James, 5 books 1974-5

1975

The Big Brain by Gary Brandner, 3 books,  1975-6
Pepperoni Hero by Bill Kelly, 3 books, 1975
Su-Lin Kelly / Girl Factory by Robert Franklin Murphy, 3 books,  1975-6

1979

Chameleon by Jerry Laplante, 3 books 1979

1980

Dog Team, 4 books (last 3 under different publisher)
The Sergeant by Len Levinson, 9 books 1980-2
Soldier for Hire by Robert Skimin and Mark K. Roberts, 8 books 1980-3
Survivalist by Jerry Ahern, 27 in original run 1981-93
They Call Me Mercenary by Jerry Ahern as Axel Kilgore, 18 books, 1980-4

One offs and thrillers (some based solely on the title):


1973

The Beaufort Dossier by David Mariner
The Yaroslav Incidnet by David Mariner

1974

71 Hours by Michael Mason

1976
The Zinger by Lou Marco, Len Davidov, and Bob Mooney



1978

The Cathedral Option by Ron Montana
Monopoly on Terror by Bruce Buck

1979

The Big Needle by Ken Follett
Cop Killers: Hunter Group 1 (One) by Max Rabinowitz
Dead Survivor by Neal Pizinger
Goering Treasure by Len Levinson
Hostage Game by Mark McShane
The Hostages of Hell by Ralph Hayes

1980

Ghost Sub by Roger E. Herst

Friday, February 10, 2017

Zebra Horror 1974-1982

Despite it's second title being horror, Zebra didn't really get into gear until 1979.  The below are paperback originals, with maybe some first reprints of hardback.  There were also several Weird
Tales reprints from H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard that I'm not including, along with plenty of gothic romances.

1974
Dementia by Keith Parnell, 0-8468-0002-0

1975
Satan's Daughters by Othello Peters, 0-89083-104-1



1977
Hell Hound by Ken Greenhall, 0-89083-303-6
The Soul by Ron Gorton, 0-89083-321-4

1978

Replica by Lionel Saben, 0-89083-370-2
The Ashes of Tamar by Elizabeth Wade, 0-89083-412-1

1979

Dracula in Love by John Shirley, 0-89083-443-1
Benediction by Joseph P. Furek, 0-89083-505-5
There is a Serpent in Eden by Robert Bloch, 0-89083-514-4
Long Night by P.B. Gallagher, 0-89083-515-2 (might be more thriller, or even romance)

Image result for Long Night by P.B. Gallagher

The Rite by Gregory Douglas, 0-89083-529-2

1980

Caly by Sharon Combes, 0-89083-624-8
Wild Violets by Ruth Baker Field, 0-89083-635-3
The Nest by Gregory Douglas, 0-89083-662-0


Cherron by Sharon Combes, 0-89083-700-7

1981

Moondeath by Rick Hautala, 0-89083-702-3
The Devil's Kiss by William W. Johnstone, 0-89083-717-1



Act of Love by Joe R. Lansdale, 0-89083-735-X
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood, 0-89083-746-5
Great Liquidator by J.V. Grombach, 0-89083-749-X - Don't know if this is non-fiction or "based on a true story"
Unholy Smile by Gregory A. Douglas, 0-89083-796-1



Death-Coach by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-805-4
Mysteries of the Worm by Robert Bloch, 0-89083-815-1 (Short story collection)
Unholy Goddess by Baker Stein, 0-89083-846-1
Halloween II (Novelization) by Jack Martin, 0-89083-864-X
The Spawning by Fritzen Ravenswood, 0-89083-866-6
Ghost Mansion by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-884-4
Death-Angel by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-909-3
Sweet Revenge by Dick Beaird, 0-89083-911-5

1982

The Uninvited by William W. Johnstone, 0-89083-933-6
The Unblessed by Paul Richards, 0-89083-949-2
The Evil One by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-966-2
The Initiation by William W. Johnstone, 0-89083-967-0
The Witching by Fritzen Ravenswood, 0-89083-975-1
Death-School by J. N. Williamson, 0-89083-981-6

See also Vault of Evil's list.