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    Gary Banks
    Senior Member

  • Gary Banks
    replied
    I'm reading pulp adventure books from the 70's on up. Sort of like your dog rolling in something stinky in the yard, but loving the hell out of it. Used to read most of these when they first came out and still had some in the attic. Right now I'm alternating between the Destroyer (which is hysterical as always) and one I never read before, The Butcher. Also am picking up on Kindle the Edge western series books that were never released in the US. The 1st 49 were released here but the last 11 weren't and they have been a holy grail for me for decades.

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  • ShawnP5
    Senior Member

  • ShawnP5
    replied
    Just started LUDA by Grant Morrison; liking it so far.

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  • The Silly Swede
    Senior Member

  • The Silly Swede
    replied
    Sheldon Lettich: From Vietnam to Van Damme.

    Biography about the screenwriter turned director. Somewhat interesting but very poorly written. Not grammar or spelling which is fine, but rather structure. Extremely annoying third person (writer) and first person (Lettich) mixing throughout. Each chapter also brings up facts as if it is the first time the reader being told about them, when the exact same story was recounted in a previous chapter.

    Still somewhat an interesting read for us Van Damme and Bloodsport enthusiasts out there.

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  • Darcy Parker
    Senior Member

  • Darcy Parker
    replied
    Originally posted by Gary Banks View Post
    Just finished GOOD VIBRATIONS by Mike Love and IT'S SO EASY AND OTHER LIES by Duff McKagan. Was really surprised at how much I enjoyed Duff's book over a lot of rock autobiographies.
    Duff is a pretty cool guy. He actually does a weekly segment on Chris Jericho's podcast where he calls in with a dad joke, and they are real groaners.

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  • Gary Banks
    Senior Member

  • Gary Banks
    replied
    Just finished GOOD VIBRATIONS by Mike Love and IT'S SO EASY AND OTHER LIES by Duff McKagan. Was really surprised at how much I enjoyed Duff's book over a lot of rock autobiographies.

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  • Lorne Marshall
    Senior Member

  • Lorne Marshall
    replied
    My overall assessment of THE YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES is that it undoubtedly took me on an educational journey through the evolution of horror fiction over nearly a quarter-century, beginning in the early 70’s. It was fascinating to experience in a little more than a year the progression (or, from my perspective, regression) from pulp horror through dark fantasy, then on to splatterpunk and finally to whatever you call the stuff from the 90’s (post-splatterpunk?).

    Karl Edward Wagner was the editor from #8 all the way to the end, for a total of 15 volumes. I’m sure the releases would have continued, too, but tragically he died in October of 1994 at the age of 48, a month before the last book was published. I wasn’t always thrilled with his choice of authors, especially since he seemed to favor a handful of ones I felt were consistently dreadful, frequently sourced from obscure zines. Soon I will be diving into another series I collected, which covers more than half of the same period, and it’s revealing that a lot of Wagner’s contributors appear infrequently or not at all in that one. It would be hard to dispute YBHS was the signature series of Karl Edward Wagner.

    Despite the recurrence of new writers in the last several editions that I found distasteful, there were quite a few I enjoyed as well. So it made me kind of sad when I would read an intro that stated something like "This is the writer's first sale,” followed by an assurance that “it won't be his/her last," or that the writer was shopping a novel around to various publishers. And then I would research that writer (30 or more years hence), only to discover it was the only sale.

    Wagner did pull some of what he considered the best from other contemporaneous anthologies, but perusing the collections I have in my own inventory (CUTTING EDGE, NEW TERRORS, HOT BLOOD, SILVER SCREAM, and HALLOWEEN HORRORS, to cite just a few), I can see he nearly always missed the finest tales. Maybe he couldn’t secure the rights to republish those, I don’t know. Even more puzzling is the absence from the series of several writers I truly admire, like Bentley Little, Clive Barker (as I already pointed out in my review of #19), and not entirely but too sparingly William F. Nolan (I think there was just one offering from him).

    There were a couple of other things I wanted to briefly mention. The first is that in the early volumes, the inner margins of pages (“gutter spaces”...yes, I looked that up) were oftentimes frustratingly insufficient, forcing me to really bend the book to allow me to read the words (although I always protected the book by keeping my fingertips on the spine). The amazing part of this is that as the series went on and the percentage of good stories decreased, this problem virtually disappeared!

    The second additional thing I wanted to mention is that I really like a lot of the artwork on the covers, even if it seldom bore much resemblance to the stories therein. I know it would have made sense for me to include the covers alongside each review, but I’m always leery of doing that, since I’m aware that it takes up more space on the site’s servers. Anyway, I didn’t do a formal survey, but I think the illustrations I liked the most were those drawn by Michael Whelan.

    Finally, I came up with a list of my favorite tales in YBHS (a total of 13, naturally). I culled this group by looking at the ones for which I indicated a preference in my reviews, trying to recall the substance of each without actually rereading it. So, using that admittedly imperfect technique, here is the list, in order of each story’s appearance in the volumes:

    “Prey” by Richard Matheson (#1)
    “Lucifer” by E. C. Tubb (#1)
    “Shatterday” by Harlan Ellison (#5)
    “At the Bottom of the Garden” by David Campton (#6)
    “Screaming to Get Out” by Janet Fox (#6)
    “Heading Home” by Ramsey Campbell (#7)
    “Broken Glass” by Harlan Ellison (#10)
    “Dwindling” by David B. Silva (#14)
    “In The Hour Before Dawn” by Brad Strickland (#15)
    “Neighborhood Watch” by Greg Egan (#16)
    “The Motivation” by David Langford (#18)
    “The Man Who Collected Barker” by Kim Newman (#19)
    “A Father’s Gift” by W.M. Shockley (#21)

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  • Lorne Marshall
    Senior Member

  • Lorne Marshall
    replied
    I decided to wait before moving on to the next series (you might be able to guess what it is), instead making my way through a trio of titles, the first two of which were ones I had started years ago but never finished.

    The first was FEAR WITHOUT FRONTIERS (2003), a book of essays edited by Stephen Jay Schneider. Its subtitle is Horror Cinema Across the Globe, which establishes it as sort of a younger cousin to earlier works from Pete Tombs. I didn’t find it to be quite as good as IMMORAL TALES or MONDO MACABRO, as there seemed to be a lot of familiar territory covered (Paul Naschy, Italian zombies, etc.). Yet to be fair, I’ll point out that some of what is explored was relatively new at the time, like the wave of K-horror that was just ramping up. I’m not a big fan of studies that dig deep into the underlying themes of films using some academic approach (Marxist, psychoanalytical, etc.), so I was disinterested in a lot of the more scholarly offerings. But the ones that explored genres I was unfamiliar with (pontianaks, 1930’s Mexican horror), individual filmmakers (Nonzee Nimibutr) or single movies (Maxu Weibang’s MIDNIGHT SONG) were appealing to me. Tombs even makes an appearance with an examination of Indian horror flicks.

    The second from the “to finish” shelf was THE BEST OF ROALD DAHL. I’m not totally sure I hadn’t just been reading it again back in the day and never finished, as the stories seemed so familiar. Then again, amongst the many collections of Dahl’s stuff, there’s a lot of repetition. Nevertheless, Dahl is definitely another one of my favorite writers; I love how he can effortlessly expound at length upon any subject and make it captivating as he weaves it into the fabric of his tale. My favorites in here are likely some of the faves of many fans: “Man from the South,” “Edward the Conqueror,” “Lamb to the Slaughter,” “The Way Up to Heaven,” “Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat,” and “Royal Jelly.”

    The book I definitely was rereading was Christopher Fowler’s CITY JITTERS. This was in fact the third time I read it, as I didn’t recall much about the two previous times. The linking device was pretty clever: a Brit visiting New York City and trying to find the hotel where he was supposed to be booked encounters one frustrating situation after another involving things like parking garages, taxis, and strip clubs, which then leads into an unrelated story about that topic, almost all of them set in the UK. Although the wraparound resolved in a somewhat witty denouement, most of the stories themselves are nothing special (I’ve nearly forgotten them already). But I am grateful that the best one of them all, “Loaded Blanks,” was saved for last. There was a sequel called MORE CITY JITTERS I contemplated picking up, but the one seller on Amazon wants $160. Thanks, but no thanks.

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  • Andrew Monroe
    Pallid Hands

  • Andrew Monroe
    replied
    Originally posted by Randy G View Post
    A fun, well written overview of all kinds of genre B films from the 70s.

    Click image for larger version

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    That looks like an awesome book! I'm gonna have to track it down.

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  • Newt Cox
    Senior Member

  • Newt Cox
    replied
    Might be a bit but I will make sure to post when i get them read.

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  • Lorne Marshall
    Senior Member

  • Lorne Marshall
    replied
    Originally posted by Newt Cox View Post
    Years back I got a pile of those YBH collections. Thanks to Lorne posts know I got a good idea which stories to skip. Thanks sir.
    I’ll be interested to read your perspective if/when you get around to reading them.

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  • Randy G
    Senior Member

  • Randy G
    replied
    A fun, well written overview of all kinds of genre B films from the 70s.

    Click image for larger version

Name:	9781632868183.jpg
Views:	146
Size:	72.7 KB
ID:	394399

    Leave a comment:

  • The Silly Swede
    Senior Member

  • The Silly Swede
    replied
    Originally posted by Lorne Marshall View Post

    That might be interesting just to read about his involvement in the early days of home video, if he discusses it.
    He does yes, although a bit to brief. It would have been fantastic if he went more in depth on that part.

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  • Newt Cox
    Senior Member

  • Newt Cox
    replied
    Years back I got a pile of those YBH collections. Thanks to Lorne posts know I got a good idea which stories to skip. Thanks sir.

    Leave a comment:

  • Lorne Marshall
    Senior Member

  • Lorne Marshall
    replied
    I have at last gotten around to reviewing the final pair in the YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES series. I know y’all were prolly really disappointed I didn’t post these 2 weeks ago as I said I would; if you were holding your breath, you can exhale now.

    A distinguishing aspect of YBHS #21 is that over half of the stories have a first person narrative structure, which is an unusually high percentage. Another involves a common trope in horror, the mysterious female leading willing men (and some women) to their destruction; more than a couple here center around that. Curiously, for the first time there are no profiles for authors (I thought maybe Wagner had become embarrassed by the selections, but biographies returned in #22). And in the main introduction to this edition, Wagner again condemns certain trends (“plotless violence and explicit sex”), yet there are still examples of that throughout the book (though I’ll concede that’s a subjective claim). Wagner even attacks the writers he disdains by speculating they might be virgins, which is ironic considering how many authors here have male central characters whose social awkwardness is drawn so well, they almost seem autobiographical.

    Anyway, I liked three of the briefer stories that appeared all in a row: Mary Ann Mitchell’s “The Hyacinth Girl,” Adam Meyer’s “Mind Games,” and C.S. Fuqua’s “Mama’s Boy,” as well as Ed Gorman’s “The Ugly File,” Yvonne Navarro’s “Feeding the Masses” (humorous but very dark), and Kim Newman’s “Week Woman.” One of the best tales I’ve come across in a long time is W.M. Shockley’s epic “A Father’s Gift,” about a son who is skeptical that he’s inherited his rabbi dad’s ability to clairvoyantly dream about future mass murders, and tormented that he might have. Honorable Mention goes to Carrie Richerson’s “Apotheosis.” Even Wayne Allen Sallee’s offering - which seemed to be a heartfelt dedication to a fallen law enforcement officer - wasn’t terrible. (The same can’t be said about his contribution in #22.) This also contained two of the silliest stories in the series, Rand Soellner’s “Mom School” and Michael A. Arnzen’s “Spring Ahead, Fall Back.” And there’s a story by Andrew C. Ferguson called “The Devil’s Advocate,” appearing one year after Andrew Neiderman published his novel with the same name, which of course was made into the movie with Al Pacino and Keanu Reeves. The plots are marginally similar, and I thought the coincidence warranted a citation.

    YBHS #22, started off well with another consecutive trio of good tales: Gregory Nicoll’s “The Ripper’s Tune,” T.E.D. Klein’s “One Size Eats All” (can I say “cute”?) and Adam Meyer’s “Resurrection.” Also in the favorable column are Ramsey Campbell’s “See How They Run,” Sean Doolittle’s “David” (although I experienced my frequent uncertainty over the ending), and Kim Antieau’s “Bloodletting.” The super-weird and funny “Ridi Bobo” by Robert Devereaux occupies its own dimension; it’s an otherwise typical adultery/murder scenario presented in an alternate world where all the characters are clowns, and all of their behavior/activities transpire in a circus-like reality. There was quite a drought between that one and Antieau’s, with a total of 16 stories separating them that were decidedly not favorable to me.

    The series waited until the omega volume to offer its most disturbing tale, Chet Williamson’s “Perfect Days.” Written in a gleefully sadistic manner (imagine Richard Layman, but with panache), it’s a vicious piece about a very thorough elderly serial killer who won’t go to his grave until he has eliminated the one victim that got away. This one stayed with me for a long time. I admired it and hated it at the same time.

    The volume contained other stories I hated, albeit sans the admiration (from the usual sources, of course, like Sallee, etc.). However, D.F. Lewis’s “Salustrade” can be put right up there with the worst ones from previous editions, like Steve Sneyd’s "Too Far Behind Gradina," t. Winter-Damon’s "Martyr without Canon," and a couple from M. John Harrison. Lewis seemed stoned while writing it, or he was intentionally daring readers to profess a positive reaction, just so he he could ridicule their poor souls. “Salustrade sat in the sewer, his hands locked in prayer like two fleshy moth-wings having sex.” Indeed. And just to demonstrate that my perspective on these things can be skewed by my own shortcomings, that one was followed by a pair of tales I didn’t care for simply because they featured lots of math and physics. My lack of enthusiasm for them could be due to too few brain cells necessary to “get” them.

    I’ll do another entry summing up my observations about this series, probably later this week or next. And please, don’t hold your breath this time, as that can be very hazardous to your health...

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  • Lorne Marshall
    Senior Member

  • Lorne Marshall
    replied
    Originally posted by The Silly Swede View Post
    Just finnished the Charles Band biography, and now I'm starting The Cannon Film Guide pt 2 1985-1987
    That might be interesting just to read about his involvement in the early days of home video, if he discusses it.

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