Mar 132015
 
When I was a teenager, I was semi-addicted to the "Nick Carter: Killmaster" paperback spy novels. Written by a vast army of ghost writers, the series chronicled the adventures of American AXE agent Nicholas Huntington Carter, codenamed "N3" with a "Killmaster" rating, who routinely armed himself with a "stripped-down" Luger pistol he called Wilhelmina, a stiletto knife called Hugo, and a gas capsule named Pierre. He carried out missions around the world for his boss, David Hawk, in over 250 slim novels, published between 1964 and 1990 for Ace (later Jove) Books.

The Killmaster capers were generally action-packed, and liberally spiced with graphic sexual encounters that went far beyond anything I'd read in Ian Fleming. The quality of the individual novels varied widely, depending on which of the publisher's many ghosts were at the typewriter, and a number of different artists contributed the lurid cover art over the run of the series.

Of these artists, my favorite was George Gross, an old hand at men's adventure art, who had worked extensively for the old pulp magazines and the later, "men's sweat" periodicals. He was the primary Carter cover artist from the late 1970's and through the 80s (he also painted many covers for Warner Books' "Avenger" series around the same time). Here are a few of his Carter covers, all featuring the same unnamed model....

Oct 312014
 
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Candy, monsters, candy, ghosts, candy, bats (of all kinds) and no uncomfortable family dinners. It also happens to be my wedding anniversary - this year marks fourteen years of marriage to my own Batgirl, Brandi. I'm a very lucky guy. With her in my life, it's tricks and treats all year 'round!

Here's wishing you and yours a truly spooktacular celebration!
Aug 102014
 
I was watching Sherlock Holmes in Washington (1943) on DVD the other night, and thought this bit with Dr. Watson enjoying the American funny pages was genuinely amusing. For the record, I couldn't agree with the good doctor more!

It occurred to me that Universal might have been cleverly plugging their own Flash Gordon serials, but Sherlock Holmes in Washington came out three years after their last Gordon serial, Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe, so it seems a bit late.
Jul 222014
 

Here's the trailer for Mercenaries, The Asylum's distaff take on the uber-manly Expendables franchise. The trailer looks pretty good - promising, even - but as it's an Asylum picture, I'm not letting my expectations get too high. The studio hasn't had a great track record for quality in any genre, really, and has fared especially poorly with action fare (stunts are expensive).

Cool to see Brigette Nielsen as the Big Bad, though it is disappointing to see that Cynthia Rothrock appears to have a non-fighting role. I'm hoping that Zoe Bell and Kristina Loken can raise the bar here. It can't hurt that Zoe can do her own stunts.

We'll see....

Damn Dirty Apes!

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Jun 052014
 
Now, this is what a movie poster should look like! I'm very surprised to see this artwork coming out of the Fox publicity department instead of just another big monkey face. I was surprised by Rise Of The Planet Of the Apes a couple years back, and the forthcoming sequel looks really good, too. This dynamic, imaginative poster's just the tasty icing on the cake! If I was still collecting one-sheets, I'd buy one of these for sure.
Nov 132013
 

Back in the late 1980s, producer/director Charles Band shot an anthology film called Pulsepounders for his company, Empire Pictures, but it was never released. Pulsepounders was comprised of a handful of stand alone shorts that were all sequels/tie-ns to other Empire features. One of these, The Evil Clergyman - a nifty H.P. Lovecraft adaptation starring the leads from Re-Animator and From Beyond, Jeffery Combs and Barbara Crampton - finally got a DVD release a year or so ago.

Now it looks like another segment - a sequel to the studio's Trancers, with Tim Thomerson and Helen Hunt - is also making its way out of limbo, and I couldn't be happier. I have a soft spot in my heart and head for that series; not so much for the plots, but for Thomerson's characterization of future cop Jack Deth. His film noir-inspired, wry, tough guy portrayal balances precariously on the fine line between parody and pastiche, but the talented (and perfectly-cast) Thomerson walks that line with assurance. It's a great character and performance, and I'm looking forward to seeing him in the role again.

The DVD is only available (I believe) through Band's current company, Full Moon Entertainment. I hope to order myself a copy soon.
Oct 142013
 
As previously mentioned on this blog, General Mills has celebrated the Halloween season this year by making available all five of their classic "monster" cereals... for the first time! While Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry were pretty consistently popular, later additions to the line - specifically, Fruit Brute and Yummy Mummy - weren't around for very long, and were never available at the same time (until now).

Anyway, as the photo above testifies, I stopped by my local Target store on Friday night to buy some new shoes and a pair of warm slippers for the winter, and while there, I picked up one box of each variety (well, actually, I got two boxes of Count Chocula). While the cereals are available through numerous retailers, only Target has them in reproductions of their original "retro" packaging.

For the record, I did eat the Count Chocula this weekend (while watching 70s cartoons on DVD, 'natch). As for the others, well, they probably will not be fully consumed... but then, I really just wanted the boxes, anyway.
Aug 272013
 
When I was a kid growing up in the 1970s, my favorite breakfast cereal was General Mills' Count Chocula. I can't even guess how many boxes of that sugary, chocolate-flavored cereal I consumed between 1975 (when the product was introduced) and, say, the mid-80s, when I finally stopped eating cereal regularly.

Count Chocula was one of five monster-themed cereals manufactured by the company. The most popular one, after Count Chocula, was the strawberry-flavored Franken Berry, followed by the blueberry-flavored Boo Berry. I never cared for those berry-flavored cereals, but I seem to remember my sister sometimes ate Franken Berry. Two more fruit-flavored cereals were introduced later - Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute (immortalized in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction), but I don't recall those being sold in my area, and in any case, they didn't last long. Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry were manufactured for decades, but in recent years, those three products have only had limited distribution, and only during the month of October.

This year, General Mills is offering all five flavors during October. The packages will apparently feature truly hideous new artwork, but the Target chain will exclusively sell the products in "retro" packaing featuring the original 70s art. I'm actually thinking about visiting Target (a store I generally avoid) and picking up one of each....

 

Anyway, I recently stumbled across this half-hour video compilation of vintage monster cereal television commercials. Man, these really bring back memories! I had just about every single toy/premium shown in the video! I don't know who voiced these characters, but the Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre impressions (for Franken and Boo, respectively) in the early spots are terrific!