The Secret Of Terror Castle ( The Three Investigators #1) by Robert Arthur

First published in the mid 1960’s, this mystery/adventure series of approximately forty books were written for 8-15 years olds and would be hard to beat if you want to find thrilling and original tales that don’t talk down to kids. Some of the plots pertain to ghosts, whispering mummies, talking skulls and other spooky or eerie themes although the stories always climax in some scheme in which a band of thieves, rustlers, con men or other non-supernatural element are attempting to snatch a lost or hidden treasure. I loved reading them as a child, and find that after all these years, they are still entertaining and packed with adventure.  [Read more…]

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Playback (Raymond Chandler)

‘Playback’, Chandler’s final completed novel, this is a haunting follow-up to ‘The Long Goodbye’. The prose sweeps me away with its speed and economy, and in this novel, more than any of Chandler’s others, I feel Marlowe’s humanity. In this last time around, Marlowe gets railroaded into a job tailing a well–endowed redhead, which quickly turns into a muddled mystery involving blackmail, murder, gangsters, and a crappy tourist-trap town. [Read more…]

Silent Running (1972 USA)

This was one of five movies made by Universal “on the cheap”, (a millions bucks each) after the phenomenal success of the low-budget Easy Rider. Of the five, Silent Running was a modest success, though it suffered from lack of publicity, which was an erroneous decision made by Universal. Special effects wizard, Douglas Trumbull, was given the director’s reins. Silent Running is one of those lonely sci-fi films made in the spirit of 2001: A Space Odyssey where it’s all about astronauts being isolated and becoming gradually unhinged in deep space. What makes this one unique is the ecological theme, which is still timely today.
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Salems Lot (Stephen King)

This novel brought up my lapsed Catholicism. About one third of the way in I had taken to wearing a crucifix. I was so absorbed that I only put the paperback down to sprinkle drops of holy water around my bedroom. Hell, why stop there. I even asked the dog and cat to help me out with a few Hail Marys. Back to the book: this is a busy tour de force of how evil small towns can be. Of course that’s total BS but it works for a fictional setting. There is a wonderful intimacy on display with so many characters we can relate to. From the paranoid bus driver aghast at how unpatriotic kids are in 1975… to a Peeping Tom old bag, Mabel Werts, and her binoculars… to the slut-shaming of a teenage girl because she has big boobies. Magic stuff.
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Magnum Force (1973 USA)

Just in case the viewer gets carried away, or the protagonists on the screen, Harry earnestly repeats throughout Magnum Force that “a man’s got to know his limitations” and “there’s nothing wrong with shooting, as long as the right people get shot.” So bullets in bare breasts are acceptable, because the topless ladies in a swimming pool or nudes stoned at “$900 an ounce,” reinforce the morality: people who take off their clothes may have been asking for it. There’s also a gratuitous murder of a prostitute, climaxed with a shot of her killer’s face grinning through her spread legs. If that’s not offensive enough, in a dvd extra from the copy I have, shady-looking script writer, John Milius, suggests that Italians are not real Americans. [Read more…]

Nightmare In Pink (John D MacDonald)

Nightmare in Pink is the second book in John D. MacDonald’s 21- novel Travis McGee series. Although McGee gets involved in mysteries, he is not a police officer or a private investigator. Instead, he is a “salvage consultant” who lives on a houseboat (“The Busted Flush”) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. He prefers to be a beach bum, get a tan, reel in some fish, drink some beer, etc and seems a little uncomfortable in the big city. He is also a ladies’ man. [Read more…]

Prison Girls (1972 USA)

A bunch of female inmates get a weekend pass from St Helena prison. These jail birds are supposed to go out into the real world to secure jobs for when they are released. But they prefer tracking down their husbands and boyfriends to get it on. If you don’t mind the stench of some slightly grainy, slightly unclean cinematography on display then you may enjoy one of the greatest ever shower scenes to be put on celluloid. After Norman Bates and Marion Crane’s one of course. Anyway, how can I be rude about a flick that kicks off with a six-way (count em) cat fight? The 94 minutes pass like three hours but I can forgive that. We’re talking broads who are buck nekkid here so obviously this post is NSFW. (Just kidding)
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Phantoms (Dean Koontz)

At the beginning of this novel, the author has added an apology for writing it and I understand why. Phantoms is scary! There is something so extraordinarily powerful, capable of wiping out a whole town, capable of being everywhere at once, something omnipresent and omnipotent…and yet I had no clue what it was for a good chunk of the book. But I was aware that everyone in that town pretty much got their asses kicked (and worse), and I thanked my lucky stars that I wasn’t there with them. But I won’t give away any major plot spoilers. [Read more…]

Purple Rain (1984 USA)

I despise motion pictures with no real importance that take themselves too seriously – and this is the pinnacle of that description. If you want to hear Prince’s music, his score for the first “Batman” is infinitely superior. To me, Prince was a brown American David Bowie. (But not as good a songwriter or dynamic a vocalist) Intensely self-conscious and always posing. A bit like a shop mannikin. This is a self-serving, ego-maniacal extended music video. But Prince can’t act while his slutty girlfriend can barely stand up. She is here to convince any doubters that the effeminate-looking Prince is really a hetero who can slap a bitch around. [Read more…]

Night Gallery (1969–1973 USA)

night-gallery-season-2-billboard-rod-serling-600x300After “Twilight Zone” was canceled Rod Serling’s “The Night Gallery” appeared some years later. It was hosted by Rod Serling himself, a bit older than he looked when he hosted “Twilight Zone” as he walked us through an art gallery replete with strange, demonic, often very intimidating artwork. Each work of art told a story which was the focus of each half-hour episode. The series did very well and it was a more intense follow-up to “Twilight Zone”, which suffered from a rather static and preachy talkiness and far more censorship. Because it was the early 70’s, the episodes of Night Gallery were a tad more uncensored and graphic. [Read more…]

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