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

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Angel vs Frankenstein (2009)

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, TV shows, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by Paxton

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Back in 2011, when I did Dracula/vampires for my theme, I covered the appearance of Dracula in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This included several comic book appearances with Buffy and Spike.  So, I thought I should next cover another Buffy character teaming up with another classic monster.  Let’s see if this one fares any better.

In 2009, IDW released a one-shot called Angel vs Frankenstein. It was written and drawn by the great John Byrne.

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The story takes place after Mary Shelley’s novel, which we get a brief recap of in the comic. It also takes place before Angel is cursed by the gypsy to have a soul.  So, after Frankenstein discovers Victor dead in the arctic at the end of Shelley’s novel, he decides to return to his home to claim the right as the last heir of Frankenstein.  However, the monster realizes he can’t do it alone, so the monster hires Angelus to return to Castle Frankenstein with him to help. However, Angelus has different ideas and throws the monster out of the stagecoach and over a cliff.  He then goes to the castle to claim the fortune for himself. But the monster didn’t die, and it makes its way back for his revenge. Queue Frankenstein vs Angelus fight.

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It’s a pretty good story. I like the setup. I love Byrne’s art. I enjoyed reading it. It’s only a one-shot, so it’s short, but Byrne makes the most of it.

Then in 2010, IDW released a sequel called, appropriately, Angel vs Frankenstein II.  This one-shot was also written and drawn by John Byrne.

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This takes place many years after the first comic. Angelus is now just Angel. He’s in America and working as a janitor at a mental hospital. He discovers the monster bound up in a hidden set of rooms in the hospital. Angel tries to sort out the mystery of how the monster got there but when the monster sees Angel, he goes off on a rampage thinking it’s Angelus and Angel has to stop him from tearing apart the city. We also learn a few secrets about the nature of this Frankenstein monster.

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Again, this is a good, if a bit more understated comic story. It’s another one shot, but Byrne makes good use of the characters and his art is great. I like the wrap up of the Frankenstein monster here. I’d definitely recommend these comics to a fan of Angel.


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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.

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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: Asher Cobb from The Sixth Gun

Posted in comic books, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, mummy, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2016 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to talk about a specific mummy character from one of my favorite comic series, The Sixth Gun, by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.
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The comic is a horror western about six cursed pistols and the battle between good and evil to possess the guns and prevent them from destroying and remaking the world. There’s so much stuff running through this comic like gunfighters, undead Civil War generals, dark swamp gods, skinwalkers, black magic, ghosts and a 9 foot tall mummy. It really is worth a read and I can’t recommend it enough. The series as a whole ended this year with issue #50 and I recently did a re-read of the entire series from Book 1 up to the final issue and I loved every bit of it.  The comic really gets deep into its own mythology and I really liked how it ended.

Anyway, the part of this comic I want to discuss today is the aforementioned 9 foot tall mummy. His name is Asher Cobb.

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Asher first shows up in the series in the collected edition Book 3: Bound.  Specifically in the final page of issue #12.

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He shows up out of nowhere and steals the coffin containing the undead corpse of the evil General Hume.  He fights spectacularly for the next issue and a half.  Then, in issue #14, we finally get his origin as told to us by an old carnie.

Asher Cobb was born deformed. He was oversized, which made him an outcast.  To add to that, he also received visions.  Visions of the future.  He was befriended only by a nice girl named Ruth who he fell in love with.  One day he received a terrible vision of Ruth’s death.  So to prevent the death of the girl he loved, he sought out some old witches and made a devil’s bargain to cheat death.  But to do that, he had to endure death.

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Unfortunately Asher was not able to prevent Ruth’s death so he is constantly wandering, driven crazy by his unnaturally long life and the knowledge that he couldn’t prevent Ruth’s death.  He is at first used by the forces of evil as a tool, but Asher would show up much later helping out the good guys and hoping that whomever acquired the guns and remade the world, would also bring back his beloved Ruth.

Asher is a pretty great character, both in the story but also visually.  He is super strong, gets visions of the future and just looks awesome.  He’s just one of the reasons I love this comic.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Scooby-Doo and a Mummy Too! (1969)

Posted in Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, movies, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 11, 2016 by Paxton

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During the very first season of Scooby Doo Where Are You!, the gang met up with a mummy.  It was in episode 12 which aired in late 1969 and it was called Scooby-Doo and a Mummy, Too!

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As most Scooby-Doo episodes are, this is a pretty fun little episode with all the regular Scooby tropes you’d expect.

The show starts off with the gang at the local college’s Department of Archaeology. They are unveiling a new mummy exhibit and the gang has offered to help set up.
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The gang is talking to “The Professor”, who is the white bread dude in the middle.  I have to assume “The Professor” is his name as he’s never called anything else.  Next to “The Professor” is…

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Dr Najib who, I presume, is the Egyptian expert.  I have to presume because the show never directly says just who he is.  The show also implies that he actually found the mummy, who is identified as “the mummy of Ankha” at first then as just “Ankha” later.  With Najib’s ascot and red fez I believe they’re trying to invoke Boris Karloff in Universal’s The Mummy.

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This is Scooby Doo so we get Shaggy and Scooby eating food that’s inedible for normal humans. For example, this is a liver a la mode sandwich. With an olive garnish. Classy.

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The mummy eventually disappears from his sarcophagus and the gang begin pursuit. They almost catch the mummy but he escapes through the museum’s glass door leaving only a mummy shapped outline in the glass. I love that this is how glass works in Scooby-Doo Land.

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Here’s the mummy stalking the gang all mummy-like. Scooby actually picks a fight with him and changes into his Hong Kong Phooey outfit to do battle. Scoob’s a black belt?!

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While being chased by the mummy, Velma has time to go to the lab and carbon date a piece of the mummy’s rags in order to reveal a clue to the mystery.

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Scooby and Shaggy, on the run from the mummy, duck into an old tool shed. Shaggy doesn’t hear the mummy in pursuit so he opens the door to see if he’s still there and sees that the mummy has started to BRICK UP THE ENTRANCE TO THE SHED. Did he mix his own cement? Surely already mixed cement wasn’t just lying around?  I love that he’s holding a spade too. Amazing.

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The mummy chases the gang around the museum and eventually gets thrown up into the basketball hoop where Fred climbs up on a ladder and unmasks him. Scoob celebrates by finding the actual mummy hiding in some bushes.  And the actual mummy looks a lot like the Boris Karloff wrapped mummy (see my AWESOME-tober-fest banner).

That’s the episode.  Like I said, it’s a pretty fun episode.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Lot 249 (1892) – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted in books, Classic literature, monsters, mummy with tags , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2016 by Paxton

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Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short story, Lot 249, was originally presented in a collection of medical stories called Round the Red Lamp.

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Published in 1892, this collection of short stories created a scandal when first released. Doyle’s fans were expecting more Sherlock Holmes-type detective and crime stories but this collection featured mostly harrowing medical stories about disease and amputation.

The story I read is called Lot 249 and is about an Oxford college student whose downstairs neighbor may or may not have reanimated an ancient Egyptian mummy through some type of dark magic.  This story was written during a late 19th-Century fascination with Egyptology and was the very first to use a reanimated mummy as the antagonist and would influence horror stories for years afterward.

It’s a short, quick read.  It reminded me a lot of Lovecraft’s Herbert West story in style, which wouldn’t be published for another thirty years.  Lot 249 is mostly three characters interacting over the course of a few days.  We get the details of the events through dialogue after the fact.  We don’t really see any of the mummy attacks.  We actually don’t really even get to see the mummy walking around.  There are a few quick glimpses in the coffin, but that’s about it.  And surprisingly enough, the story is wrapped up completely with no “will the mummy actually come alive again” type cliffhanger ending.  You could almost argue that there’s no definitive proof that the mummy did in fact come alive and start killing people.  Like I said, a lot of the eyewitness testimony is coincidental and hearsay.  Doyle leaves it up to the reader to fill in the blanks however he wants.

It’s an interesting story to read from the perspective of that this will influence the “creeping mummy” horror genre for so many years to come.  I’m glad I included it here, even if it isn’t the most exciting story I’ve ever read.  I’m a fan of Doyle and was glad to be able to include him in this year’s AWESOME-tober-fest.

In 1990, Lot 249 would be adapted as one of the chapters in the Tales from the Darkside: The Movie.  The adaptation in that movie would be written by Michael McDowell who also wrote the movie Beetlejuice and the movie novelization for Clue: The Movie.  It would star a very young Steve Buscemi, Julianne Moore and Christian Slater.


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AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: The Ring of Thoth (1890) – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Posted in books, Classic literature, Halloween, holiday, monsters, mummy with tags , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2016 by Paxton

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Here we are! Day 1 of AWESOME-tober-fest! Welcome to my daily celebration of all things spooky. As you can tell, my theme this month is “mummies”! So I’ll be looking at books, comics, movies and TV shows that feature mummies. It should be a lot of fun. Today, we’ll start with a short story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

In 1890, Cornhill Magazine published a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle short story called The Ring of Thoth.

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While this story has a mummy in it, it isn’t technically a “mummy story” like you’d expect. However, it has elements in the story that will clearly influence mummy movies in the many years to come afterwards.

The story is about an Egyptology student who falls asleep in The Louve and winds up locked in overnight and witnesses a bizarre sight.  The overnight caretaker unwraps one of the mummies from the collection, embraces and kisses it, then rummages through some of the jewelry in the Egyptian collection clearly looking for something.  The student is discovered in hiding and the strange looking caretaker reveals his story about living in ancient Egypt, discovering a long living chemical serum and losing the love of his life to a plague.

This story is short, obviously, and very concise with much of the backstory filled in by exposition from the museum’s overnight caretaker.  However, the way the story is written you feel a sense of wonder at the caretaker’s tale as well as a sense of urgency at what he plans to do that very evening.  These two things make the story breeze by.  It’s also interesting and it keeps you reading along with its fantastical story ideas.  Plus, as I mentioned, there are elements within the story that have clearly influenced many successor mummy movies but also the original Karloff Mummy movie.

First of all, the strange looking caretaker, Sosra, is described as being a very tanned and overly wrinkled person.  Someone with much wisdom and experience in his eyes.  From the description, I immediately got an image of Karloff in his Ardath Bey disguise from The Mummy.  There’s even a scene in which Sosra threatens the protagonist with a knife, much like in the picture below.

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Second, the trinket that Sosra is looking for is the title bearing The Ring of Thoth. Thoth is the God of Knowledge in ancient Egyptian culture. His name would be used in countless mummy movies, however, this story would be one of the first. Universal’s The Mummy used it as well in describing, not a ring, but a scroll.

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Like I said, while this story doesn’t necessarily involve a reanimated mummy it does carry several things that would influence mummy stories and movies in the years to come. Including a story Doyle would write just two years later called Lot 249.

Overall, this is a really enjoyable, short read.  The timeline is very compact and you feel like there is some urgency in the main characters.  It keeps the action moving along despite that the majority of the story involves backstory exposition.  This is definitely a recommend.


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