Archive for movies

Announcing I Read Movies microcast all about movie novelizations

Posted in books, movies, podcast, pop culture with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2017 by Paxton

If you’ve read this blog or follow me on Twitter for any length of time you know I’m a fan of movie novelizations. I read them. I collect them. I love finding new ones I never knew existed. If you check back in the Awesome Archives you will find several reviews for many different movie novelizations.

On the Nerd Lunch Podcast, whenever we do genre movie drilldowns, I try to read the novelization for the movie we’re discussing to see if it can add anything.  Specifically, Nerd Lunch did drilldowns on all the Indiana Jones movies and many of the original Trek movies (we are currently waiting to do Star Trek V).  For Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home I did extra helping discussions on both of those movies’ novelizations.

Here are the links:

Star Trek IV novelization drilldown

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade novelization drilldown

In those mini-episodes I talked about the differences between the books and the movies including extra characters, scenes, and story differences. It was a lot of fun and I received a nice response to these solo episodes.  So, since I tend to read novelizations on the semi-regular, I decided to spin these mini-episodes into their own microcast called I Read Movies.

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Shout out to CT for creating this amazing looking logo/icon for the show. And another shout out to Shawn Robare for helping me set things up behind the scenes to get this show up and running. Without CT and Shawn’s support I don’t think I could’ve got this venture off the ground. Thanks guys.

Anyway, the two extra helpings above are essentially the prototype for what this microcast will be. It’ll be short, I’ll try to keep it under an hour. Probably even 45min or less. And it won’t have any regular time table. The show is at the mercy of what novelizations I get read. And even then, I won’t do every novelization as not every one is worthy of microcast treatment. But we’ll see. I’ll do as many as I can, even if it’s only a 10 minute episode about why the novelization is not worth a read.

So, to get things started, I already have a few episodes in the can.  The first three episodes of this new show will be a trilogy.  I’ll be doing the original Indiana Jones trilogy.

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And episode 1, featuring Raiders of the Lost Ark, is LIVE. You can download it from iTunes or listen to it directly right here.

I expect to have Temple of Doom drop in a week or two and I’ll have a special repost of the Nerd Lunch Last Crusade novelization extra helping a week or so after that.  Then, I have a special Halloween episode planned for October.  So things are starting to shake over here in the I Read Movies HDQ.  Stay tuned for some fun shows.

And if there are any novelizations you’d like me to cover, let me know on Twitter.

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The Best Movies I saw in 2016

Posted in movies with tags , , on January 25, 2017 by Paxton

Movie Report

MORE YEAR END ROUND UP ARTICLES!!

Today, I’m not only judging movies that I watched that opened last year, but ALL movies I watched for the first time in 2016.

I’ll start off with a list of my favorite movies that were released in 2016 and I’ll finish up with movies that were released in other years but I only saw for the first time last year.  I may even throw in some honorable mentions as I love to do.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite movies I saw in 2016.  In no particular order.


Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War – This is probably not a surprise.  It was awesome and everything I wanted it to be.  Chris Evans’ Captain America has become my favorite Marvel hero, even over Downey’s Iron Man.  I love all three Cap movies but only love one and a half Iron Man movies.  These just keep getting better.  And the inclusion of all these newer heroes; Ant-Man, Falcon, Winter Soldier, the new Spider-Man.  All, just perfect.  I now want a Falcon-Winter Soldier buddy movie.  Make THAT happen, Marvel.


Deadpool – Exactly what this movie should have been.  I honestly didn’t think Fox could pull it off.  I knew they nailed the lead with Ryan Reynolds, but I honestly didn’t think they’d stick to their guns for the bloody, irreverent tone this movie needed.  I was wrong.  Fun, vulgar and entertaining.


Somm: Into the Bottle – This is a sequel to a documentary that I talked about back in 2014.  Last time they were following several Master Sommelier hopefuls as they prepared to take the Master test.  This time, it’s more of an in-depth look at old world wineries and how they craft wine differently.  It’s fascinating stuff.  You do see the original four guys from the first documentary, but not in an update to how they are doing four years later.  The guys are now a part of the panel of talking wine heads.


Marvel’s Doctor Strange – In a way, this somewhat took me by surprise.  I’m a fan of Doctor Strange.  I read him a little in the late 80s-early 90s and I’ve revisited his Steve Ditko origins.  I love sorcerers, so I always kept my eye on him.  But I was cautiously optimistic that Marvel could pull this off without watering the character down.  And they did it.  Straight up magic and everything.  And lots of humor.  I didn’t expect the humor.  This was a pretty great movie and I look forward to him showing up more often in the Marvel Movie Universe.  One caveat, the wonderful Rachel McAdams is mostly wasted. Hopefully they find more to do with her in future movies.


The Magnificent Seven – You can hear my full thoughts of this movie on the appropriate episode of the Hellbent for Letterbox podcast, but in short, I loved this movie. Lots of good characters, lots of good action. Definitely a fun ride for western fans. And even those maybe not traditionally a western fan.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Jason X movie novelization by Pat Cadigan

Posted in books, Friday the 13th, Genres, horror, Jason Vorhees, movies, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 27, 2016 by Paxton

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Back when I did Movie Maniacs in 2012, I reviewed several 80s horror movie novelizations.  They are pretty rare out there in the wild, so it was a treat to be able to cover several of them.  If you’re curious, check out my reviews of Nightmares on Elm Street (Parts 1-3), Friday the 13th Part III and Friday the 13th Part VI.

While I’m a fan of both Freddy and Jason franchises, I probably gravitate towards Jason as my favorite overall. And being a fan of Friday the 13th, I’m telling you that Jason X is a very polarizing entry in the franchise.  Many people hate it.  I’m not one of them. I see some potential in this movie. It goes mostly unfulfilled, but there’s potential there.

Anyway, in 2005, about 5 years after the movie was released, during the media blitz for Freddy vs Jason, Black Flame books got the license to print Friday the 13th novels.  They would do two series, one of them being in the original timeline and another series in the Jason X timeline.  There would eventually be about five books in the Jason X series and it started off with a novelization of the movie by Pat Cadigan.

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Picking up this book I should tell you it’s hefty for a slasher movie novelization.  The general rule for movie books is about 1 page per 1 minute of action.  So a 90 minute movie would generally be about a 90 page book if it was a straight translation.  Give or take some flourishes by the author.  Well, this book is over 400 pages long.  Jason X the movie is 92 minutes long.  So there may be one or two flourishes by the author.

I have lots of hopes for this extra 300+ pages of content.  I want the futuristic world fleshed out. They barely mention what the future world is like aside from “the Earth has become uninhabitable”.  And who are the members of the crew that find Jason?  Are they scientists?  Explorers?  Archeologists?  What?  It’s not really explained in the movie.  And lastly, I’m hoping I get more action and murder with Uber Jason.

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So, I’ve read the book, did it meet any of my expectations? Was it any good?  The easy answer is yes, it was good.  If not great.  As a fan of the movie, I also enjoyed the book.  Unfortunately, the page count is due to the author fleshing out existing scenes with more exposition and not creating brand new scenes or subplots not in the movie. Well, the main character, Rowan, is given a definite romantic interest with Brodski who has a larger part in the book.  But, it ultimately goes nowhere because he meets the same fate in the book as he does in the movie.

So what new stuff is there?  Well, the author does add some very interesting content in the form of character backstories and many ruminations on the nature of Jason Voorhees.  We also get a good description of what the universe is like 4.5 centuries in the future which we don’t get in the movie.

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Per the book, after Rowan and Jason were frozen together, the Army did go to the facility to help, but found the entire complex on lockdown and decided to leave it alone as they finally had Jason contained and the world was starting to have bigger issues like food riots and global warming.  Things got so bad martial law was declared.  One hundred years after Jason is frozen the Earth starts to burn starting at the equator.  Surviving humanity escape to biospheres in orbit and we eventually contact alien life and trade them for the blueprints to a “hyper drive”.  Rowan and Jason were left on Earth, cryogenically frozen and forgotten for the next 3 centuries.  And I guess the power grid stayed “hot” for that long as well since the system stayed on lockdown and frozen for that long.  Eventually, using the alien “hyper drives”, humans settled on an Earth II.  Earth I would be studied in colleges as history and one college, New Harvard, would send field trips back to the original Earth led by Professor Lowe who is considered the foremost authority on Earth I.  It is one of these field trips, populated by the Professor, a team of military escorts and a group of students that discover the frozen and forgotten Jason and Rowan.

So the group that discovers Jason is just a class field trip?  I did not pick up on that.  Anyway, the other new things Cadigan adds includes lots of insight into the nature of Jason.  We learn that Jason’s existence is elemental.  He’s not evil per se, but anti-life.  An anti-life elemental.  Living things had many purposes but the basic one is life itself.  By contrast anti-life had one purpose.  Cancel out life.  KILL.  We also get a kind of explanation to why bawdy teenagers set Jason off.  Life stimulates survival instinct in many ways, one of which is sex.  Sex makes humans feel more alive and it helps create more life.  This is what Jason, as an entity of anti-life, is drawn to.  This is why Jason’s urge to kill becomes more apparent when these things are happening.  I like how this book is trying to explain some of the nature of Jason’s existence.  It doesn’t go too far, it goes just far enough.  I like it.  Cadigan also describes Jason’s senses and how he hunts his victims.  He has a “life radar”.  He can sense the life around him.  Once someone gets on his “radar” he can track them.  Again, I like these types of explanations.

Another thing I like about this book is it deals with Jason being captured and studied scientifically.  It makes sense the government of course wants to figure out how Jason does what he does.  And it makes sense the government would want to weaponize those talents.  This movie sort of touches on those ideas.  We see Jason being tested in the beginning but we also see lots of cell testing on the space ship Grendel after he’s been taken out of cryo-freeze.  I don’t want the government to figure anything out, I want them to think they have everything under control, see results of their “tests”, get confused and then Jason “unexpectedly” comes alive and ruins all their plans by killing everybody.  That’s what I want.  And we get that here.

So, yes, the book delivers as a solid adaptation of the movie itself.  It fills in some holes and adds some interesting back story to many of the characters.  If I have to say anything against it, it does feel a bit long.  Four hundred pages is a lot for a slasher novel and it kind of feels long.  But I was rarely bored.

Like I said, this novelization was the beginning of a series of novels based in the Jason X universe. The novels sound interesting, but all of them are around 400 pages which is a little too long for a Jason Voorhees novel. However, Pat Cadigan did followup the Jason X novelization with the next book in the series, Jason X: The Experiment.

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The gist of the plot involves the government using skin grafts from Jason to create a super soldier who then goes rogue. It sounds kind of cool having Uber Jason vs a super soldier. It seems the other four books in the series also deal with the government’s attempts to weaponize the unnatural abilities of Jason Voorhees.  I liked this novelization enough that I would consider reading Cadigan’s followup book.

Unfortunately, this book series is pretty hard to find. Actually, all of the Friday the 13th books are pretty hard to find.  I got lucky when I found this particular book on PaperbackSwap.com several years ago. I’ve only ever seen one other book in the series in the wild. It was the third book, Jason X: Planet of the Beast by Nancy Kilpatrick.  I found it in an old used bookstore in Auburn, AL back in early 2010.  But I’m always on the lookout and hopefully someday I’ll find that second Pat Cadigan Jason X book.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Fangoria #182 (1999) – Mummy Mania issue

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by Paxton

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Time to dip down into my stack of old Fangoria magazines to see if there are any cool mummy issues.

Oh look!  Found one.

Check out Fangoria #182 from May 1999. It’s the Mummy Mania issue with a cover story about the new Stephen Sommers directed The Mummy remake.

Fangoria 182

The issue features lots of other mummy based articles.  The one I want to look at today, though, is an in-depth blow by blow of the history of the mummy in cinema. It’s called “Show Me the Mummy”.

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It’s a more straight forward historical account of the birth and proliferation of mummy movies than that Starlog invisible man article from last year that tried to write the history of the invisible man in popular culture into a weird, narrative story that presumes invisibility actually exists.  Essentially turning movies and TV shows with invisible people into “historical documents”.  This article, is a nicely researched account that doesn’t just list out mummy movies but gives some background info into some of the bigger releases.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Hammer Studio’s The Mummy (1959)

Posted in Genres, horror, monsters, movies, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 14, 2016 by Paxton

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Okay, I’m doing a more popular monster, so I get to visit a Hammer film this year!  In 1959, one of the more prolific Hammer directors, Terence Fisher, as well as one of the more prominent writers, Jimmy Sangster, tackled Hammer’s version of The Mummy.

The-Mummy

It starred the usual Hammer all stars, Peter Cushing as John Banning and Christopher Lee as the mummy.  As in the other Hammer monster movies, their mummy movie was based on Universal’s version, but maybe not the one you’d think.  Instead of re-adapting Universal’s 1932 The Mummy, starring Boris Karloff, this movie takes it’s story from two of the later Universal mummy sequels; The Mummy’s Hand (1940) and The Mummy’s Tomb (1942).  With a little bit of the climax from The Mummy’s Ghost (1944).  And while the Karloff version is held in higher regard, I feel the sequels have a bit more fun with the subject.

So, how did Hammer do?  I love the Hammer aesthetic.  Check out my reviews for Horror of Dracula or Curse of Frankenstein.  When Hammer works, it’s dynamite.  When it doesn’t, you get well meaning missteps like Curse of the Werewolf.

I won’t say this particular movie was a misstep.  But it wasn’t a favorite.  It just seemed to drag a lot, especially in the middle.  But while the story was lacking, the other Hammer touches where there.  The set design is GREAT.

The tombs look great and are set designed in that spectacular way that Hammer usually does.  I mean check out the above picture of the recently opened tomb.  It’s not been opened in thousands of years but the green lights apparently still work.  Amazing.

Also, Cushing and Lee are great as always.  I just love watching Cushing be gentlemanly and awesome.

And Lee’s mummy looks just incredible as well. Especially when he’s getting shotgunned in the chest by Peter Cushing.

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And check out this “ancient scroll” that is the basis for much of the plot of this movie.

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Looks like it was printed last Thursday at Kinkos.  That being said, it’s beautiful looking.  Take a look at the inscriptions on the left picture (click it).  That’s some wonderfully detailed imagery for just a few seconds of on screen footage.  That’s Hammer for you.

Here’s where I think the problem lies.  The mummy, as a monster, is essentially boring.  He’s too passive.  Much like my issues with traditional zombies, I don’t really enjoy watching mummy movies.  And that’s my  main problem with this movie.  The mummy is used as “muscle”, the second banana if you will. It’s probably why I like the Brendan Fraser mummy movies a bit more because I feel like that mummy was in charge. He actually felt dangerous.  While it was fun to watch Cushing and Lee, the overall story was a bit boring, but that’s a problem with most mummy movies for me and not necessarily a problem with Hammer’s movie.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: The Mummy: Dark Resurrection (2007)

Posted in books, Genres, horror, monsters, movies, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 5, 2016 by Paxton

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Back in 2006-2007, Universal Studios commissioned a series of novels that would update their classic monsters in a series of more adult horror tales that also worked as sequels to the classic movies. I discussed one of these books back in 2010 for my werewolf AWESOME-tober-fest (The Wolf Man: Hunter’s Moon by Michael Jan Friedman). Today, I’ll talk about another one, The Mummy: Dark Resurrection by Michael Paine.

The Mummy -Dark Resurrection

While I didn’t like The Wolf Man novel, I thought it had potential, so I picked up this Mummy book hoping it would do a little more with the subject. Did it?  Let’s see.

First of all, it’s really tough to place the book in the mummy movie timeline.  I assume it is a sequel to the very first movie from 1932 with Boris Karloff as Karloff’s character, Ardath Bey, is the main antagonist.  But no other characters from any of the Mummy movies either show up or are even mentioned in any way.  Plus, many of the characters that do appear in this book are given a backstory that sound similar to people in the original mummy franchise which just confuses the entire issue.

The book’s protagonist is Josh Brandt, a rich guy from a rich family who funds an archaeological dig that is trying to find the tomb of Ankh-es-en-Amun, the betrothed of Imhotep.  It is revealed that Brandt’s father and grandfather both funded digs for the exact same tomb and both men were lost and presumed dead while at the dig site.  When the current dig seemingly discovers the tomb’s entrance, strange things start happening to the Brandt family and a mysterious stranger, Ardath Bey, seems to be at the center of it all.

Like I said, Brandt’s father and grandfather’s disappearance is a big part of the back story.  And the way it’s written, it feels like those two men’s stories would have been told previously, like in a mummy movie.  But there are no Brandts in any of the previous movies, which confuses me.  Plus there’s no mention of any previous dealings with Ardath Bey by characters in the book.  I guess this story is just continuing many years later with no other links to the movies except Ardath Bey.

The book is written competently, but antagonist Ardath Bey isn’t utilized enough.  Josh, his crazy family and the supernatural events that happen to that family’s members are the focus of the book with Ardath Bey showing up once or twice menacingly and then again at the end to wrap things up.

Honestly, it was kind of a struggle to finish the book.  Part of my problem could be that I’m not a huge fan of “the mummy” as a monster since it’s so similar to zombies (which we know I don’t like). Also, for a “mummy book”, there’s a surprising lack of mummies in it.  Bey seems to possess the power to make recently dead bodies come to life and kill, which he does throughout the book, but those are zombies, not mummies.  Ancient Egyptian mummies are practically non-existent in this story.

Put all of that together and I can’t say I really recommend this book unless you are already a fan of mummies.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Universal’s The Mummy (1932)

Posted in Genres, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 4, 2016 by Paxton

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In 1932, just one year after starring in his breakout role in Frankenstein, Karloff would don the bandages for another of Universal’s monster movies, The Mummy.

Universal's The Mummy

Also starring Zita Johann, David Manners, Edward Van Sloan and Arthur Byron.

The movie isn’t bad, if a bit slow in parts.  It’s said that this is essentially a remake of Dracula but just set in Egypt instead of Transylvania.  I can definitely see that what with the parallels in all the characters and how the story is driven forward.  And that story is mostly interesting.  Karloff is great as usual as Imhotep.  His female lead, Zita Johann, isn’t great.  Even by these 30s monster movies standards.  However, for the most part, she gets done what needs to be done.

The sets and lighting are pretty awesome.  I was constantly impressed by certain props and set pieces that seem to envelope the majority of scenes in the movie.  Particularly the scenes with Karloff and Johann at the end of the film.

Unlike Dracula (Stoker’s book) and Frankenstein (Shelley’s book), The Mummy joins The Wolf Man and Creature from the Black Lagoon as the only Universal Monster movies not based on a previous work of fiction.  However, there are things the script is clearly influenced by like the excavation of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story The Ring of Thoth.

While I liked Dracula a little better, and Frankenstein and the Wolf Man a lot better, this is still a fun monster movie to watch.

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The movie begins during a dig in an ancient Egyptian tomb.  The story makes heavy use of the Scroll of Thoth, which, as I just mentioned, is similar to an artifact in the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story, The Ring of Thoth.

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Of course, the young, impulsive character opens up AND READS FROM the creepy, old scroll that he was told not to touch just five minutes before.  And, of course, it awakens The Mummy.

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Karloff’s makeup, by industry great Jack Pierce, is photographed brilliantly in this movie. Check out Karloff’s crazy undead stare.  I just got chills.

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More awesomely lit Karloff images.  He really is pretty great in this movie.  Hands down the best thing about it.  Followed closely by the lighting, sets and costumes.

So that’s Universal’s The Mummy.  I enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as I was hoping.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.