Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Spooky Thoughts for Halloween


TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2007

Scaring the bejabbers out of me

I was talking via phone the other day with an old friend who helped me way back in the early Seventies meet a few of the magazine editors I was trying to sell to.

The subject was what scared us. We both agreed that because of our our age bad health for our loved ones scared us most followed by bad health for ourselves. From there our lists became idiosyncratic.

Number three for me was anything that alters context in a sudden, violent way. You're sitting on a city bus and a guy you suspected of being a junkie jumps up and begins vomiting blood. A sudden assault such as the time when I, in my early twenties, met girl at a pool party who told me to pick her up at seven for a movie. She told me to honk once and she'd hear me. Late summer, long shadows early. I was sitting behind the steering wheel when two large hands pushed through the open window and seized my neck, strangling me. After total panic and terror, I managed to open the door and shove it hard enough to move him back a few feet so I could break his hold. Her just ex-boyfriend of course. She hadn't mentioned him. I took my softball bat (yes I played and badly) with me when I got out of the car. He didn't cower exactly but he did begin apologizing and then he started to cry. He loved her, he was crazy at the moment, he was sorry he'd grabbed me. I'd been there myself so I understood though I still wanted to bend the bat over his head. I didn't of course. I mention this here because four hours later I was still shaking. Virtually my entire body shook. I've never been so shaken before or since.

A close number four is anything that involves tight spaces. I am claustrophobic to a disabling degree. I still have sweaty moments on elevators; can't have medical tests that involve being fed inside a tube-like device without taking tranks heavy enough to knock me out; and I have the occasional nightmare of being buried alive thanks to material I read once for a hsitorical novel--this was on obsessive fear people had in the 1800s. And it was warranted. Premature burial was not that uncommon back then so people asked to be buried with bells in their coffins, strings up top they could tug on, even friends to stand vigil for forty-eight hours to listen for any cries.

As for simple fears, I'd say Robert Bloch still wrote of the spookiest one. Midnight. A frantic knock on the door downstairs. You in your pajamas with your flashlight reluctantly answer the knock--only to find a fully-garbed clown standing on your porch. His crazed eyes apparent. That would sure do a job on me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Forgotten Films: Born To Be Bad

















Ed here: this is from a long poset on TM Movie Morlocks about new DVDS available from the Warner Home Library.

Since Robert Ryan is one of my five favorite actors I've always enjoyed this film.  He's great and so is lovely Joan Fontaine as a truly nasty lady.

Posted by 
Nicholas Ray shot what was then titled Bed of Roses in 35 days, from June 20th to July 30th of 1949. It was a project that the head of RKO, Howard Hughes, had indefinitely 

postponed in 1948, one of the provocations that caused the production head Dore Schary to quit. It had gone through seven screenwriters and five directors before Ray took over, with Joan Fontaine in the lead role. Even Fontaine was wary, with her husband William Dozier writing to Hughes, “I’m afraid Joan’s enthusiasm for this project has not heightened any with the passage of time.” It was an adaptation of the 1928 novel All Kneeling by Anne Parrish, divulging the seedy story of Christabel Caine (Fontaine), a manipulative ladder-climber eager to seduce every man she meets and then marry the one with the most money. Her target is Curtis Carey (Zachary Scott), the scion of a wealthy family already engaged to Donna (Joan Leslie), the whip-smart assistant to Christabel’s Uncle John, a publisher. Christabel also has the acidically funny Nick (Robert Ryan) on a string, who is one of John’s up and coming authors. Despite all the studio snags, Ray orchestrates a deliciously cynical melodrama of sexual power plays. It is a movie of lush upper class interiors, and Ryan has the characters constantly shifting in the frame, as seen in the bravura opening sequence, in which Donna is preparing a dinner party. Donna is a blur of preparatory focus, walking in and out of rooms while Ray returns to a fixed shot of the hallway. Eventually Donna is speedwalking toward the camera, and trips to the floor over a suitcase inconveniently placed in the hall. It is the introduction of Christabel, who is sitting patiently in a room to the right. In this clever bit of choreography, Christabel is visualized as a roadblock to Donna’s best-laid plans.
Ray is aided by richly layered performances from Fontaine and Ryan. Fontaine uses a girlish hair-flipping exterior to hide her designs, letting diabolical smiles slip out once the other characters leave the frame. Ryan is a wisecracking rogue who sees through Fontaine’s exterior, describing her dual personality to her face, and yet unable to tear himself away from her. In a damning kiss off at one of her ballroom parties, following her marriage to Curtis, Ryan tells her, “I love you so much I wish I liked you.” And yet a few scenes later he’s back in her arms, ready and willing to believe her latest bedside conversion.

Monday, October 29, 2012

New from Batman Masters Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon


 
 
 
If you love classic monster movies and comics and remember the smell of Testor’s glue while putting together your Aurora model kits (and even if you don’t!) then this is the place for you!

Joe Frankenstein is the creation of longtime comic book creators, Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon.  A coming of age story of a boy, a monster and trying to live down a legacy he didn’t know he had.

We have a publisher  (IDW) and are hard at work on this project. Come back often for updates and new posts of the various creative stages.

We are currently seeking investors to get this completed even sooner. If interested in helping to fund this project, please check out our Indiegogo campaign where you can get some pretty cool swag for your donations!

CONTACT:


Thanks for stopping by!

Graham Nolan
Chuck Dixon
Welcome Monster Lovers!
“It’s a different place at night.
The monsters of our nightmares
are real!”
All images and text to Joe Frankenstein are
copyright 2012 by Graham Nolan and Chuck Dixon
 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

"I'm Tired of Ricky Gervaiis" by Ken Levine


I'm tired of Ricky Gervais


This may be an unpopular blog post. I’m sure I’ll be accused of being old and cranky and to those I say, “I am not. And get off my lawn!” But Ricky Gervais’ act has gotten old.

Last week it was announced that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler will host next year’s Golden Globes Awards. My first thought was: “That’s a great idea. They’re very funny together.” My second was: “Who cares, it’s the Golden Globes?” and my third was: “Oh good, I’ll be spared another smug insufferable performance by Ricky Gervais.”

The sad thing is I used to love Ricky Gervais. I still feel the British version of THE OFFICE was genius. And he managed to someone create the most interesting original comic character in decades. His first few appearances on talk shows were great fun. He brought a devilishly pixyish personality to the dance that was very refreshing.

And then something happened. He just started wearing out his welcome. I remember seeing his stand-up special on HBO and being disappointed. And his TV appearances started feeling smug and oddly hostile.

I gave his HBO series EXTRAS a try and will admit there were a few bits that I thought were inspired. The “racist test” for one. But a lot of it left me just sitting there. I felt he was doing the whole series to entertain eight of his show business friends.

Then his “bad boy” Golden Globes hosting gigs – this is what I wrote about this year’s affair:

After staging a full-on media blitz to proclaim how daring and offensive he planned to be, Ricky Gervais was a giant bust. MODERN FAMILY’s Steve Levitan was funnier in his three-minute acceptance speech than Gervais was the entire night.

At some point over the last few years I realized I wasn’t laughing anymore at Ricky Gervais. I was shouting “Fuck you” to the TV every time he opened his mouth. This is a sure sign of falling out of love.

I tried to figure out what the turn was, what soured me on this humorist I once greatly admired? I wanted to know, and I also wanted something constructive to include in this post so it wasn’t just five paragraphs of me bashing someone.  After much mulling, here’s what I’ve come up with as an explanation:

We love when edgy comics speak for us, say the things we wish we could say, make fun of the sacred cows we too feel deserved it. So it’s very much a you and me against all of them mentality.

But sometimes comics drift into me against all of you. That’s what I think happened to Ricky Gervais. The smirk, the swagger, the massive ego – I don’t find him as pixyish when his contempt is aimed at me.

But what do you think?  Am I right about Ricky Gervais? Or am I just Ed Asner in UP?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rod Serling and Charles Beaumont


by   From Forces of Geek

When Rod Serling entered a Los Angeles party in 1959, a young writer named Charles Beaumont approached him and said that Serling’s most recent teleplay, The Velvet Alley, about a Hollywood writer who lets success get in the way of his better judgment, “...was the worst piece of writing I’ve ever seen.”

Serling responded with a smile, but made note of Beaumont’s brazen honesty.


   

A writer of fantasy and science fiction, Beaumont’s early life was just as odd as the fiction would later become known for.

He was born Charles Nutt on January 2, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. Suffering from a severe case of meningitis, Beaumont was forced to rely on his imagination and tales of science fiction as a way to deal with his isolation. An abusive mother oversaw much of his childhood; a woman who frequently dressed him in girls' clothes and who once killed one of her son’s pets as punishment. 

At the age of twelve, he moved to Everett, Washington to be raised by four aunts, women whose idea of fun was to fake their own deaths in order to see the boy’s reaction. It is no wonder Beaumont’s sense of humor would forever run toward the macabre. 

Arriving in Los Angeles, Beaumont worked every kind of job imaginable before selling his first story in 1950. In 1955, Playboypublished his controversial story called The Crooked Man, which took place in a dystopia where heterosexuality was stigmatized in the same way homosexuality was in the 1950’s. 

Rod Serling had been contracted to write 80% of all Twilight Zone episodes, but wanted to open up the remaining 20%.


Producer Buck Houghton arranged a screening of the pilot episode for Twilight Zone for professional writers of science fiction and fantasy in hopes of acquiring some quality talent for the show. Beaumont loved the pilot. He began pitching idea after idea to both Serling and Houghton, many of which were his own already published stories.

Hiring him on a freelance basis, Serling felt that Beaumont’s Velvet Alley comment had helped set the foundation for their relationship, both professional and personal, as one of honesty and professional respect from one writer to another. 

for the rest go here:
http://www.forcesofgeek.com/2012/10/rod-serling-and-charles-beaumont.html

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Forgotten Books: The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller

The Ever-Running Man by Marcia Muller
Graham Greene spoiled me as far as thriller writers go. His thrillers (or "entertainments" as he chose to call them) always worked on at least three levels, the tension of the story itself and then the characters and the milieu they inhabited. 

Cardboard cut-outs of Washington and its people just don't do it for me, whether CIA or FBI, the men too bold (though always with that One Serious Flaw) and the women too beautiful (though always with that One Serious Flaw). Thriller Writing 101. 

Marcia Muller In her exciting new novel The Ever-Running Man shows us how to write a thriller that honors the Greene method--tension-filled story, with believeable characters in a carefully detailed milieu.

Private investigator Sharon McCone's husband is one of the owners of RKI, a security company that competes with the best and the brightest in the business. But RKI, home office and affiliates, has been set upon with a domestic terrorist who uses explosive devices with deadly cunning and precision. McCone, barely escaping such an explosion, glimpses the man who means to make things ugly for the company. 

RKI hires McCone to see what she can find out. The search is intense, a relentless hunt to discover and stop the killer before he wreaks any more damage. 

But in the course of the search McCone is forced to confront certain truths about herself, her husband and his business partners. Muller gives us the world as it is--the world of Starbucks, reading the Sunday paper, the inevitable misunderstandings in marriage--seamlessly enhancing the chilling plot.

An A+ suspense novel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the greatest lone ranger story you'll ever hear


  
Lone ranger silver 1965.JPG

          This is one of the best Lone Ranger stories around…Jay Thomas told this story on Letterman's show. It is about Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger on television, who was known for taking his role seriously and never breaking character in public.

 Click Here              <http://stg.do/0N3c> If it does not work…. cut & paste ...
http://stg.do/0N3c <http://stg.do/0N3c>

 

Natural or Supernatural? Name Your Poison


Ed here: I thought this was an interesting take on movie  genres especially  at Halloween time.


Natural or Supernatural? Name Your Poison


Movie genres are notoriously malleable things.  We all know what a western is until someone mentions that Star Wars is a horse opera in space or Outland is a remake of High Noon in a futuristic setting, and suddenly it doesn’t seem as clear anymore.  Genres also cross streams constantly.  A crime film can be a noir (Out of the Past), an epic drama (Once Upon a Time in America), a gangster film (Public Enemy), a comedy (Some Like it Hot, which also manages to work in rom-com while it’s at it) or any other number of multiple genre mash-ups with “crime” as the umbrella covering all the different subsets.  In the end, horror is no different but no matter how many subgenres of horror there are (and there are plenty), horror can be efficiently broken down into two categories: Natural and Supernatural.  Which side are you on?


What do I mean by natural and supernatural?  Simple.  Psycho, Jaws, Silence of the Lambs – Natural.  Dracula, The Cat People, The Shining – Supernatural.  The nebulous middle-zone comes in the science-fiction/horror combos.  Frankenstein, The Thing from Another World and Cloverfield don’t deal in the supernatural (junk science and alien encounters, yes, but not the supernatural) yet they are fanciful and don’t deal in strict realism by any means.  So where do they fall?  For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to throw anything not normally encountered in the real world, i.e. attacking aliens and monsters and reconstructed people, into the supernatural category.  That doesn’t mean those things couldn’t happen in the real world, just that, so far, a massive monster from outer space hasn’t attacked New York City while countless sharks have attacked people swimming in the ocean throughout history.

As to where I fall, it’s not so much a matter of which I like better but which I think defines horror for me personally, and that’s the supernatural.   As far as quality goes, both sides have superb entries with both the supernatural The Shining and the natural Psycho occupying not just high positions in the horror canon but high positions in the general film canon as well with both making their way into the most recent Sight and Sound poll’s top 250 films.   And I like both films equally well so it’s not an apple to orange match game of which side gets more votes.  It’s just a general feeling that, frankly, I like my horror completely unreal and unrelated to my experiences here on the planet.   We’ve all read stories, or watched news reports, of psycho killers cutting up some poor, unfortunate victim but not many of us (certainly not me) have come across a hotel that possesses its caretaker and visits the horrible visages of the dead upon the living.   Supernatural horror takes me to a place of which I have literally no real-life experience, not even vicariously, and to me, that makes it all the more appealing.
So while I can certainly appreciate that a movie like Jaws has many horrific elements, I get a little annoyed when I see it listed as horror.  Sure, gruesome things happen in it to several people but it’s not a horror movie by my math, rather, it’s an adventure/thriller.  By the same token, I would consider The Birds a horror film and that makes no sense at all by the logic I just applied to Jaws, i.e., animals, including birds, do occasionally attack people.  But The Birds has a supernatural element to it, a feel that something’s not right and the world is at stake.  Jaws, on the other hand, has no supernatural feel because the characters describing the shark’s behavior plant it firmly in the soil of realism.

http://moviemorlocks.com/

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Books: The Hiding Pace by David Bell



The Hiding Place




THE HIDING PLACE tells the story of a family. In the past, this family has suffered an unimaginable loss—their four-year-old son, Justin, was kidnapped and murdered. In the wake of the boy’s death, many things happened. A man was convicted of the crime and sent to prison. Justin’s mother never recovered and died at an early age. Justin’s father became withdrawn and refused to discuss his son’s death. And then there’s Justin’s older sister, Janet. She was with her brother at the park the day he disappeared. She was supposed to be watching him. How does someone live with that kind of guilt? How does someone build a life after experiencing something like that?
It’s not easy. But Janet isn’t a quitter. She’s a fighter. I was very aware of this as I began to write the novel. Readers don’t want to read about quitters. Readers can tolerate a lot of faults in a character. In fact, the best characters can be full of flaws. But readers want to know that a character wants something so much they are willing to lay everything on the line in the process of getting it. Janet is a character like that. And so is her daughter, Ashleigh.
Ashleigh is fifteen. She’s bookish, a little moody, a little withdrawn. Like a lot of teenagers, she doesn’t like to open up to her mother. But she wants to make her mother happy. More than anything else she wants that. When I read from the book in public, I tell people that it may seem strange for me, a man with no daughters, to write about a fifteen-year-old girl. But I also say that young people are fun to write about. Teenagers are reckless—both with their bodies and with their emotions. They let it all hang out, unlike adults who are more cautious and reserved. Ashleigh gets herself into trouble—and she gets out of it. She uses her brains and her wits to navigate the world.
William Faulkner said, “The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even the past.” The past isn’t dead for these characters. It’s very much alive. There’s guilt and regret and sadness. And, yes, there is hope. There is the hope that comes with fighting and struggling to know the truth. The truth hurts, someone once said. But it also sets us free. THE HIDING PLACE is about the search for the truth about a crime from the past. It’s also about surviving and putting things back together and ultimately going on. It’s the story of a family.




THE HIDING PLACE and CEMETERY GIRL by David Bell
NAL/Penguin
www.davidbellnovels.com

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dark Night of The Scarecrow



I happened to catch this when it first appeared as a TV movie. For me it was remarkable experience. Having lived in a few old fashioned boarding house where retired railroad workers and traveling salesmen (more like peddlers actually) co-habited for seven dollars a week (nine if you wanted meals) and shared the same bathroom I was surprised by how truthfully the movie got the character Charles Durning plays here so brilliantly. Long time bachelor, tavern gossip and scold, Dark Night shows us a man we've rarely seen on TV except on Andy Griffith where he was just one more oddball character looking for love. Here he's a malevolent  force. I saw this again a few years ago and it held up very well indeed furthering my argument that for all the trash the TV movies produced there were numerous gems that need to be made available again. So is it a great movie? Of course not but it's creepy as hell and every aspect of it works.

What reminded of Dark Night was a brief but telling review of it today on Singular Points. Here's an excerpt:

"I have some vague memories of watching 'Dark Night of the Scarecrow' back in the 1980s when it originally aired, but I didn't remember much about it. Picked up the DVD on the recommendation of John Hocking, who called the movie "the best made for TV horror film of them all." Have to say I'm in agreement. This 1981 TV movie manages to be that film rarity, a ghost story that works on all levels and does so with very little gore to speak of. 
 " The plot is simple. Four good old boys with a grudge against a local mentally challenged man called Bubba seize an opportunity to get rid of him permanently when it looks like he has savaged a little girl. They hunt the frightened man down in a field, where his mother has disguised him as a scarecrow, and shoot him. Only minutes after they've killed him they learn by CB radio that Bubba actually saved the girl from an attack by a vicious dog..."

for the rest go here :http://singular--points.blogspot.com/


Saturday, October 20, 2012

A GREAT Show: Get A Life with Chris Eliot



from The New York Times By NICOLAS RAPOLD



IT may be hard to remember now, with hits like “American Idol” and “Glee,” but in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Fox was a fledgling network trying to establish itself with comedies that pushed boundaries or buttons, depending on the viewer. There was the brash “In Living Color,” the shrill “Married ... With Children” and that promising cartoon “The Simpsons.” But “Get a Life,” which made its debut in 1990, seemed to induce only uneasiness.
Multimedia

For some reason, a show about a self-deluding 30-year-old newspaper boy who still lives with his parents was not universally beloved, either by viewers or the executives who broadcast the series, starring Chris Elliott.
“I remember Fox being very concerned about how responsible my character would be, and whether or not he would be perceived as an idiot,” Mr. Elliott, now 52, recalled of the show’s early prospects. “Which, of course, is exactly how Adam, Dave and I wanted him to be perceived.”

for the rest go here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/arts/television/get-a-life-now-on-dvd-with-chris-elliott.html

Friday, October 19, 2012

Carolyn Hart's Cool New Website: 3 New Books



Three– a Lucky Number?

Underdogs firmly believe the third time’s the charm. So you’ve tried and tried and failed each time. Keep after it and the third time will be the charm.
There are lots of fun facts about threes:
Elbows usually consist of three bones. We all need elbows. Hard to pick up that mug of coffee without one and everyone knows that coffee enhances life.
Earth is the third planet in our solar system. Has to be a good spot, right?
White is a mixture of three primary colors, red, green and blue. Lots of white light makes us happier. 
All of this combines to make me confident that three is indeed a lucky number and this fall I hope three shines for me.
The changing face of publishing – experimentation with e-books, a traditional hardcover release, and a reprint -  brings three of my books to readers starting in September.
September 12: CRY IN THE NIGHT, a never before published suspense novel, will be published as an ebook only by Berkley. Sheila Ramsay, a young museum curator, comes to Mexico City in 1982 on a romantic whim and soon finds herself involved in a life-and-death hunt for missing gold.October 2: WHAT THE CAT SAW, Berkley Prime Crime. After the death of her fiance in Afghanistan, Nela Farley feels an eerie connection when she looks into the eyes of a cat. She dismisses the thoughts as irrational, her mind’s way of avoiding painful memories, until the night she looks into the eyes of a cat and sees more than is safe to know.

November 13: SKULDUGGERY, Seventh Street Books, reprint of an early suspense novel set in Chinatown. A desperate search for the missing Peking Man bones brings danger, death, and difficult choices for anthropologist Ellen Christie.By the way, clovers have three leaves and that’s enough for me. I hope readers agree.

Cry in the Night

September 12, 2012
Never before published, this suspense novel was released as an ebook only by Berkley.
Sheila Ramsay, a young museum curator, comes to Mexico City in 1982 on a romantic whim and soon finds herself involved in a life-and-death hunt for missing gold.
Available from
Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.com

Posted in Uncategorized Leave a comment


November 13, 2012
Seventh Street Books has reprinted an early suspense novel set in Chinatown.
A desperate search for the missing Peking Man bones brings danger, death, and difficult 
choices for anthropologist Ellen Christie.
Available from your favorite bookseller

New: What the Cat Saw!



“Carolyn Hart’s work is both utterly reliable and utterly unpredictable. What the Cat Saw will surprise and engage any mystery reader.”- Charlaine Harris, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author

   Berkley Prime Crime  Presents
     WHAT THE CAT SAW 
Since the death of her fiance in Afghanistan, Nela Farley feels an eerie connection when she looks into the eyes of a cat. She convinces herself she is simply avoiding painful memories, but one night she looks into the eyes of a cat and learns more than it is safe for her to know.
When Nela first arrives at a garage apartment in a small town in Oklahoma, she is greeted by a grieving brown tabby. She looks in his eyes and is bewildered by his thoughts: She didn’t see the rolling board on the step.. That night an intruder breaks in, leaving behind wanton destruction. Nela learns that the woman who lived in the apartment had died in a fall down the apartment stairs.
Nela’s flaky sister Chloe is always fun and often in need of a sisterly boost. Nela is a reporter looking for work. She agrees to take Chloe’s place at her job so Chloe and her boyfriend can take advantage of a free trip to Tahiti. The Oklahoma landscape is strange to Nela and she finds even stranger the current of hostility at the workplace, a charitable foundation beset with troubles: Arson of an employee’s car, destruction of Indian artifacts, vandalism in the courtyard, obscene material mailed on the foundation letterhead, and the late revelation of the theft of a quarter million dollar diamond necklace.
The police detective is a smart, tough woman who sees the stranger in town as an accomplice to her sister in a clever scheme to hide a theft. The local newspaper reporter Steve Flynn knows the cop well, respects her, but finds the new woman in town intriguing. Steve is struggling to recover from an unhappy divorce. Nela had hoped to leave sadness behind in California but finds that she is still burdened by grief. An LA girl she is stirred by Steve’s loyalty and love for his hometown – and by Steve.
Nela plunges into an effort to clear her name and her sister’s, but the net draws ever tighter and then the cat warns once again, “. . .danger . . .”
Check out the whole new website  here: http://www.carolynhart.com/