Friday, December 27, 2013

Seduction of the Innocent by Max Allan Collins

It's 1954, and a rabble-rousing social critic has declared war on comic books - especially the scary, gory, bloody sort published by the bad boys of the industry, EF Comics. But on the way to a Senate hearing on whether these depraved publications should be banned, the would-be censor meets a violent end of his own - leaving his opponents in hot water.  

Can Jack Starr, private eye to the funny-book industry, and his beautiful boss Maggie unravel the secret of Dr. Frederick's gruesome demise?  Or will the crackdown come, falling like an executioner's axe...?

Hard Case Crime's latest book showcases Max Allan Collins, most well known  for The Road to Perdition writing an old school pulp styled detective novel that also doubles as historical fiction.  Comic Historians will recognize the title of this work is also the title of a book about the dangers of comics from the 50's that resulted in the Comics Codes Authority.  

Collins uses this set up and changes the names of the players (EC Comics becomes EF Comics, Batman becomes Crime Fighter, etc)  which is odd for a reader well aware of all these players and takes some getting used to.  The writing itself is strong and the mystery unravels perfectly.  Jack Starr is a solid detective, and the supporting players are unique and easy to keep track of.  Comic styled art by Terry Beatty appears with Chapter breaks adding to the undeniably cool feel of this book.  

As a noir, pulp and comic fan this was a fun fast paced read.  While switching the names of characters and comic publishers annoyed me at first once I got past it I found a great deal to enjoy in this book.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Machete Maidens Unleashed!

Writer Director Mark Hartley is back after his debut of Not Quite Hollywood about the grindhouse flicks shot in Australia with one about the B features shot in The Philippines.

Edited with the same fast energy and filled with clip highlights from numerous films, Machete Maidens Unleashed is a fascinating and entertaining look at predominantly 70's grindhouse filmmaking, mostly for Roger Corman's New World Studios, covering the rise and fall of this particular shooting location.

Hartley has collected many interviews from directors, actors, producers and King Corman himself as they tell an interesting tale of low budget film production.  As a fan of B flicks I have to admit so many are crap except for a scene or two, and it is awesome to have essentially a highlight reel of 30 years worth of cheesy greatness.  Aside from the cool on-set stories from all those involved is an interesting concept that a few of the actresses bring up.  While they admit that the were used to titillate as their tops were constantly being torn off, they point out that these were the only pictures with tough female leads who rescued themselves at the time.  Taking it one step further some of these female leads were also racial minorities in roles that could have been played by an actress of any race.

I ask this as a follow up; When these women had their shirts ripped in fight scenes, should we not look at them like any other action hero Stallone, Arnold or Van Damme who constantly loose their shirts while killing truck loads of extras?

...But anyway , if you're a sucker for B Flicks like I am you can't go wrong with Machete Maidens Unleashed!

Currently Available on Netflix instant streaming.  

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Banshee Season One

Banshee refers to the name of the town this gloriously pulpy Alan Ball produced ShowTime series occurs in.  The twisty turny plot follows recently released a recently paroled Lucas Hood (played by Antony Starr) as he searches for the love of his life who is the partner and went to prison to cover for, and played by Ivana Milicevic.   This occurs while he tries to avoid the Mob Boss he screwed over when working the job that got him busted.

An utter random turn of events leads Hood to take on the role of Sheriff in this town, controlled by an ex Amsih man turned mob boss named Kai Proctor.  And this is just the set up.  The first two and final two episodes are good but not great while the middle six episodes make up a pretty compelling clever story.  Hood's partners are played by a show stealers Frankie Fasion (a retired boxer) and my favorite character Hoon Lee's aggressive transvestite computer hacker.

This being Cinemax there are some amazingly out of place scenes of random fucking that add nothing to the plot.  Antony Starr's range is also wasted in his role.  He is asked to do little more than skulk and be pissed off, though a few scenes where his character is presented in true emotional turmoil prove this actor is capable of much more.  The true standout though is Ivana Milicevic who brings genuine human emotion turmoil in a nuanced performance that grounds the entire series.

While not amazing overall if you want a series that is interestingly plotted with some very well choreographed hand to hand fight sequences and relish an old pulpy vibe this should sate your appetite for awhile.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Where the Dead Fear to Tread Reviewed in Beware the Dark #1

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Brian Moreland’s The Devil’s Woods

Brian Moreland’s The Devil’s Woods follows a widower—Kyle Elkheart and his expedition to find his estranged father and discover who the man truly was.  With his brother, sister, and their respective significant others, Kyle returns to the Native American reservation and neighboring town where they grew up to find his father’s expedition, who has been attacked by a creature teased in the book’s prologue...Click either image for the full review.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Never Sleep Again Review

Are you up for a four hour documentary on the entire Nightmare On Elm Street film and Television Franchise(but skips the new remake)?  I'm a luke warm fan of the franchise and found it riveting, though I did watch it over four separate days.

This is a warts and all documentary with a great number of players saying very negative things about  various installments, and even directors stating they out right failed in what they attempted.  One of the coolest pieces to me was that got Craig Spector to talk about his trashed Nightmare Five script, and it sounded awesome.

Every director and nearly every cast member and  was interviewed for this project, and each brought some cool insights to their respective projects, one tidbit I really appreciated, because it really bugged me was the screen play for Freddy vs Jason did not have Kelly Rowland calling Freddy a faggot(For me this turned it from a dumb fun movie into something else).  In fact that guy wrote a totally different monologue for her that tied the two franchises together, and was totally scrapped.  

This is without a doubt one of the most thorough but never dull franchise documentaries I have ever seen.