Archive for pop culture

2019 Year End Honorable Mentions – Books/Comics

Posted in Blog Series, Book Report with tags , , , , , on January 15, 2020 by Paxton

YE Book Report

I posted my favorite books/comics of 2019 list a few weeks ago.  I had a few other books/comics that, while I didn’t feel they should have made the main list, I still want to talk about.  So, here are my Honorable Mentions of 2019.

Let’s do books first, then I’ll do some comics.

Legion
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds by Brandon Sanderson
– I’ve read Brandon Sanderson before. I read the first book of his Mistborn trilogy for High Fantasy Month, which was pretty good, as well as his entire Reckoners Trilogy, which was fantastic (it made my best list in 2017).  So I have been looking for more of his books to read and came across two novellas that he wrote several years ago.  The first novella was called Legion, and the sequel was called Legion: Skin Deep.  They were about a man named Stephen Leeds.  He’s a genius, but the way his mind manifested this genius was to create what Leeds called “aspects”.  These aspects housed the knowledge and information he learned.  And each aspect carried a different set of knowledge and skills as well as a personality.  Similar to the movie A Beautiful Mind, I guess, but these stories treat the condition as kind of a super power.  Sanderson collected those first two novellas together into this book with a brand new third story.  And it’s a lot of fun.  This could make for an interesting show on some streaming network.  Someone needs to look into that.

7 1/2 Deaths
The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
– Published in late 2018, I got this book as a gift for my wife because the premise sounded intriguing.  There’s a party at an old English manor.  A young woman is going to die at the end of the night, and the main character has to solve it in seven days.  But every day, she wakes up in a different party goer’s body at a different time of the day.  It’s sort of like Downton Abbey meets Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day.  It’s a very interesting story that is structured in a non-traditional way.  It can get confusing and I’m not 100% sure what fully happens at the end, but the read is a lot of fun.

Hot Rock
The Hot Rock (Dortmunder #1) by Donald Westlake
– Back in 2015, when I did the Invisible Man for AWESOME-tober-fest, I read a Donald Westlake novel called Smoke. I liked it, but even before I read that, I was aware of Westlake’s heist novel The Hot Rock from 1970.  I may have even already owned it at that point.  But I didn’t read it until this past year.  And it’s really great, actually.  It’s a fun heist novel that’s sort of a working man’s Ocean’s 11.  The main character is John Dortmunder.  He has just been released from prison and his right hand man approaches him, after JUST picking him up from getting out of jail, with a job.  Dortmunder reluctantly agrees to the heist and everything that can go wrong does go wrong and they wind up having to steal the the thing they are hired to steal at least three different times.  I really enjoyed this book and want to continue the series, as Westlake wrote like 8 or 9 Dortmunder novels.  This book also led me to a movie adaptation I didn’t even know existed starring Robert Redford and George Segal.

Jaws Jaws 2
Jaws by Peter Benchley/Jaws 2 by Hank Searls
– I’m going to cheat a little and put two books here.  I had to mention the Jaws books.  I covered both of these books for the I Read Movies podcast in Summer 2019 and I was pleasantly surprised by both.  First of all, everyone pretty much trashes Benchley’s original novel because it’s not as good as Spielberg’s movie.  Which is true, the movie is better.  HOWEVER, Benchley’s novel is a very pulpy, 70s novel that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.  The characters are a lot less likable in Benchley’s book than in Spielberg’s movie, which may be the crux of people’s issues with the book, but it makes for an interesting story.  I’m mainly speaking of Mike and Ellen Brody as being mostly unlikable (you’ll wonder why they are even married), but Hooper is also a rather unlikable, douchey, just out of college, rich kid.  It makes for a fascinating collection of characters and a really fun read.  Yes, the movie is better, but don’t sleep on the Jaws novel.  I’ll say the same for Jaws 2.  Searls’ story really follows the events of the first movie, but it also doesn’t completely ignore the events of the novel.  And since Searls also wrote Jaws the Revenge, that book fits into this series like a jigsaw puzzle piece.  The whole Jaws cycle of novels are totally fun and well worth a read.  Or, you can listen to me talk about them all on the I Read Movies podcast.

Now on to comics.

Savage Avengers
Savage Avengers by Gerry Duggan
– I’m a fan of Gerry Duggan. He and Brian Posehn did an amazing run on Deadpool which started (for me) with Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet (Best Books I Read in 2015) and continued into the Marvel Now Deadpool series.  Then Duggan did a zany run on Uncanny Avengers that I really enjoyed. He even wrote a somewhat sequel to Dracula’s Gauntlet called Mrs Deadpool and the Howling Commandos which I thoroughly enjoyed.  So when I saw he was doing an Avengers spin off with Wolverine, Punisher, Venom, Brother Voodoo and Conan, I thought, this is something I need to check out.  And this eclectic collection of characters totally works.  I’ve really enjoyed the first volume of this series and want to continue reading.  I love when writers take these totally wacky groups of characters and turn them into a wacky team book.  Kelly Thompson did it with the most recent West Coast Avengers.  Duggan did it before with Uncanny Avengers.  Definitely worth a read.

Avengers 1 Avengers 2 Avengers 3
The Avengers by Jason Aaron
– Jason Aaron has become one of my favorite comics writers.  His Thor run was nothing short of phenomenal.  It showed up multiple times on my best of lists.  Aaron also wrote the first few years of the 2015 Marvel Star Wars title which was really, really awesome, and he did a great take on Dr Strange that same year in 2015.  So when I heard he was taking over the main Avengers title, I was pretty excited.  And for the most part I’ve really enjoyed some of the stuff he’s done.  Black Panther is the leader.  I love that Panther creates a covert subset of the Avengers filled with all of these B level characters you haven’t seen in years.  Blade joins the team for another “War of the Vampires” story arc.  Hell, Thor and She-Hulk kind of start dating…sort of.  It’s a bunch of cool ideas that it seems like Aaron is having fun with, but also I’m having fun with.

Black Barn
Gideon Falls Volume 1: The Black Barn
– I’m a pretty big fan of Jeff Lemire.  He’s shown up on this list many times.  Here’s another one.  This is a straight up horror comic.  It involves the legend of the Black Barn, that has shown up throughout history bringing death and madness in its wake, and ensnaring the lives of two different men.  The book is drawn by Andrea Sorrentino who frequently partners with Lemire and I love these two together.  This book reminds me a bit of Joshua Williamson’s Nailbiter series, which I loved.  Very atmospheric, very dark.  I’ve only read the first volume but I will eagerly be reading more.

JH Time Police
Jughead’s Time Police
– So last year, the original 1990 Jughead Time Police series made my best of list.  This year, we got a reboot of that series.  Written by Sina Grace.  And it’s actually pretty good.  It’s funny, and it coincidentally uses a plot device I thought of when doing an episode of Nerd Lunch back in Sep 2018.  Obviously totally coincidental, but I love that someone else had that idea too!  I’m a big fan of Jughead, especially his reboots in the “new Archie” universe.  This is a good addition to those stories.

Those are some of the other books/comics I felt I wanted to talk about that didn’t necessarily make my “best of” list.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Happy Halloween + Random Fango Ads

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, nostalgia, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 31, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!  This is it guys, we made it.  Another year.  Another Halloween AWESOME-tober-fest countdown.  Thank you so much for reading, I hope you have a safe and fun Halloween.

But, before you go, how about one more Fangoria article?  How about we look at some random ads that ran in Fangoria throughout the years?  Let’s do it!

Click the images to make them BIGGER!


From 1988, an ad for the Nightmare on Elm Street board game.  That’s right, I said BOARD game.  I totally thought this was a video game ad until I actually read it and saw that it comes with a rule book, gameboard, playing cards, and Freddy markers.  If you want to get a look at what all the goodness inside the box looks like, check out the entry at Board Game Geek.  It looks bizarre.  The game board gives me a headache if I look too long.


How about some more Freddy product? Here’s an ad for the 1-900 Freddy’s Dead telephone game. From 1992. The 90s were stuffed with all kinds of 1-900 pop culture telephone numbers. In the same issue of Fangoria as this Freddy ad was an ad for a 1-900 Terminator 2 telephone challenge. Careful, it’s yellow background will burn out your retinas.


Vintage Monster-y ad goodness coming your way! This ad is from 1981, and it’s for mail away Monster Miniatures!  All four of these pewter figures sold as a group for $79.95.  Postage included!  You could also get them in a white metal for about $7 each.


More monster-y goodness!  Here are two ads for Screamin’ Vinyl Model Kits!  The one on the left is from 1989.  It has four options; Jason, Freddy, Elvira, or the generic Werewolf.  Each model kid is about $60.  Honestly, they look pretty nice.  On the right is another Screamin’ models ad, this time from 1996.  They’ve greatly expanded their offerings with new product, but for some reason, Jason is missing.  You can’t even order him below.  However, amongst the new faces you see they added Leatherface, Ash, Lon Chaney from London After Midnight, Pinhead and the Cenobites, and one fantastic looking Crypt Keeper.  Different models have different prices, but this seems like a really nice model set.


From 1987, check out this ad for buy 2 books and get a FREE Dracula Pendant! Filled with soil from Dracula’s castle!! Wow. The ad makes sure to note these are the same pendants that were sold in Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine in the 70s.


Check out this ad for the rugged, compass survival watch.  Never get lost on freeways, mountains, deserts, jungles, or oceans!  I don’t know how many deserts, jungles, or oceans your average Fangoria reader would encounter in their lifetimes, but they now have the watch to get them out of that predicament if they ever do!

Thanks for another successful year!  And again, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Movie Magazine ads

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies with tags , , , , , , , on October 30, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

If you know me at all you know I’m a huge fan of movie tie-in merchandise. Especially movie novelizations. Check out the I Read Movies podcast if you don’t believe me. Along with novelizations, I’m also a huge fan of movie souvenir magazines. I’ve talked about them before on this blog (see the Back to the Future movie magazine).  But instead of talking about one specific one, how about we take a look at ads for a group of these movie magazines?  They ran in Fangoria all through the 80s.


Here’s an ad from Fangoria 40 (1984).  Lots of good ones here.  Superman III.  Star Trek II and III!  Rocky II and III!  Sometimes these ads would also feature older magazines so clearing houses can clear out their stock to get new magazines.  Annie!  Not sure I’ve ever seen that one.  Conan the Barbarian.  The Best of Stallone mag shows up in TONS of ads I’ve seen.  I guess they never could sell it so it just kept showing up on all these ads.


Here’s a magazine ad from Fangoria 49 (1985).  One year later.  See, still trying to sell that Best of Stallone magazine.  We see a few similar mags like Rocky II and III, Star Trek II and IIIRambo is new as is that Explorers magazine.  I can’t believe these magazine cover prices top out around $3.95.  $3.95!!  That’s insane.


Here’s an ad from three years later in Fangoria 70 (1988).  More old stock like the Star Trek magazines.  But we get a bunch of new ones like more Stallone with Over the Top and Rocky IV.  We also get Superman IV, The Untouchables and a new Star Trek, Part IV.  And there’s a Spaceballs the Magazine over on the left.  I’ve never seen that one before.  And a nice Masters of the Universe magazine on the right side.  This is a really good grouping of movie magazines.  And their prices are still crazy.  Less than $4?!  YES, PLEASE!



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Win the Halloween 2 novelization from Fangoria!

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, magazine, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 29, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

Edging ever closer to Halloween!  And speaking of Halloween, here’s an ad for a double contest that ran in Fangoria #15 from 1981 that let you win something VERY Halloween-y!

The first contest involves going to see the movie Halloween II in theaters and answering 10 questions. 50 winners will be drawn to win copies of the movie novelization by Jack Martin. Which, today, that Halloween 2 novelization is pretty rare.  I would have loved to have won that.

The second contest involves the semi-sequel to Rocky Horror Picture Show, Shock Treatment.  You have to explain in 30 words or less why you want a Shock Treatment t-shirt.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Fangoria Scream Greats – Norman Bates

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies, Norman Bates, pop culture, Psycho with tags , , , , , , on October 28, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

It’s Scream Greats Monday! And, it’s the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest 2019!  We did it again, this year guys.  The home stretch.  I really hope you’ve enjoyed yourself thus far, but the festivities are not over yet!  We’ve got four more days to go.  And today we are looking at another Fangoria Scream Greats poster!

This week’s Scream Greats entry is a good one of Anthony Perkins on the set of Psycho II.  It comes from Fangoria #78 (1988).  If you haven’t seen it, Psycho II is a pretty good followup to the first Psycho.  Not to be confused with Robert Bloch’s Psycho sequel novel, also confusingly called Psycho II.  Bloch’s Psycho II is a pretty great little thriller tale on its own that is surprisingly meta for having been written in 1982.  I’d recommend it.  But the movie Psycho II is a more traditional sequel and is also a pretty good movie sequel considering it’s the followup to one of the greatest thrillers of all time.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Fangoria full page movie ads!

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies with tags , , , , , , , on October 24, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

For most of it’s life, Fangoria ran full page color ads for movies that are either in the theater or about to be released on videocassette. Last time I did Fangoria back in 2014, I talked about a few of them. So let’s take a look at a few more. It’s easy to pull the “big ones” with Ghostbusters or Gremlins. Let’s try to find some more obscure, culty movies. Shall we?

Godzilla 85
From Fangoria #50 (1985). I’ve never been a huge Godzilla fan but I’m very aware of this particular movie, even if I’ve never seen it. It was marketed pretty heavily here in the states.  It’s a heavily redited version of the Japanese Toho film Return of Godzilla.  I should sit down and watch some of these sometime.

The Stuff
From Fangoria #52 (1986).  An ad for The Stuff on VHS.  I have seen this movie and it terrified me. The scene where the kid eats shaving cream to avoid having to eat The Stuff sticks with me to this day.

Return of the Living Dead 2
From Fangoria #70 (1988). An ad for the sequel to one of my favorite zombie movies of all time, Return of the Living Dead. And I’ve still not watched any of these Return sequels. I need to get on that.  I love the art for this poster, but it feels like it’s ripping off the Fright Night/Fright Night II posters.

House II
Also from Fangoria #70. It’s not often that Fangoria has two full page movie ads, but issue #70 did. And it’s another sequel.  House II is an interesting animal.  It’s odd, for sure.  But it’s fun.  I like that it sort of becomes a western at the end.  I may remember this movie better than I remember the original House.

Basket Case 2
From Fangoria #91 (1990). I’ve not watched any of these Basket Case movies. It’s funny, when I graduated college in 1997, a guy I graduated with gave me a VHS with the first three Basket Case movies on it and told me I had to watch them because they were awesome. In fact, he gave it to me the night we graduated.  And I was due to fly out to Dallas, TX in two days for my new job! Yes, I still have that VHS and have still never watched those movies.

Castle Freak
From Fangoria #149 (1995). Castle Freak is directed by Stuart Gordon and starring Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton. Last time I did Fangoria in 2014, I covered this trio in another movie called From Beyond. I had uncovered this little gem back then, but have not watched it. It sounds interesting.

I’ve looked at these full page movie ads a few times before.  As I mentioned earlier I did it back in 2014And in 2013.



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

AWESOME-tober-fest 2019: Richard Matheson on writing Jaws 3-D

Posted in AWESOME-tober-fest, Blog Series, Fangoria, Halloween, holiday, magazine, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 23, 2019 by Paxton

Awesometoberfest 2019

Richard Matheson is a ground breaking, extremely popular genre writer. He wrote the novel I Am Legend that was adapted into a film four times, one of which Matheson himself cowrote the screenplay. He also wrote many of the original Twilight Zone episodes as well as the novels that birthed the movies The Incredible Shrinking Man, Legend of Hell House, Real Steel, What Dreams May Come, Duel and The Box.

In Fangoria #31 (1983), they did an interview with Richard Matheson talking to him about writing the recent movies Jaws 3-D and Twilight Zone the Movie.  To be perfectly honest, I really like Jaws 3-D, and I had NO IDEA that Richard Matheson wrote the screenplay for it.  MIND. BLOWN.

Some of the Jaws 3 insights he gives in this article include that he likes writing the third movie in a series. You get to break away from the location of the previous two. He also said the studio forced him to use Brody’s sons, Michael and Sean, in the script. He originally had no intention of using any of the Brody family, which now, looking back on that movie, makes SO much sense. He also said the studio wanted him to make the shark in Jaws 3 the same shark that was electrocuted in the second movie! Wow. Glad cooler heads prevailed there. Lots of interesting info in this article including more insights into the writing of Twilight Zone, including why he thinks it didn’t do as well as they expected, and working with Spielberg on the movie Duel.



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