With his second novel, Horns, Joe Hill confirms he is not a one-hit wonder. Ignatius William Perrish wakes up to find he has grown, yes, horns. In the wrong hands, this could easily have fallen apart as a ludicrous idea, but like Neil Gaiman, Hill somehow manages to weave the fantastic and realistic elements of the story perfectly.
I wanted to send a special shout out to Subterranean Press, who continues to put out some of the most beautiful volumes published today—and almost always on time! A wonderful contrast to some other presses who seemingly only manage to get a release out on time when it involves a marquee name, ignoring the fact that they are holding customers money for books solicited years ago. You know who you are...
Timothy Olyphant does a fine job in the solid remake to George A. Romero's The Crazies. A great premise that is served well by a larger budget, even though the trailers would have you believe it was just another apocalyptic zombie film.
I know, I know, I still haven't seen Black Swan, Inception (perhaps when Peter's in town next weekend we'll throw that up on the big screen), and I've got Winter's Bone in my queue as Sheryl Lee's in it, and I'll watch anything with Sheryl Lee.
Video Nasties, a three-disc limited edition set which features trailers to all 72 films that wreaked havoc in England in the dawn of the video era, along with a comprehensive documentary on the subject. It's a subject I've always been fascinated with (in that fortunate, it-could-never-happen-here way), and this really does seem to be the end-all, be-all word on the subject. Again, if you're not currently set up to play Region 2/PAL discs, keep reading.
The Walking Dead comic since it was originally released (as I have just about every zombie comic book series that preceded it). Aside from one notable exception (Deadworld), most die within four issues, whereas Robert Kirkman's series is rapidly closing in on 100 issues. I find it entertaining, but have never viewed it as anything more than a riff on the work of George Romero. So it was with mixed emotions I approached the television series. With Frank Darabont at the helm, it certainly had promise. A successful run of six episodes has ensured a second season, however it will be interesting to see how it does after nearly a year between episodes. As a zombie film aficionado, I enjoy the series for what it is. I'm frankly amazed that they can get away with things on cable that Romero couldn't do in an R-rated film just a few years ago. The show has veered somewhat from the path of the comic, although there will be plenty of opportunities for them to touch on story arcs from the comic series. I felt that after a strong opening, the show dragged for a number of episodes, seemingly forgetting that there was a threat out there. A number of characters were subsequently offed in a single episode, and in the final episode of the season, we finally get something interesting to chew on as the group arrives at the CDC. Unfortunately, things are a little too contrived (the timing of their arrival being a tad too perfect), and what might have been an interesting multi-episode arc is wrapped up in a nice bow rather that extending into the next season. For my money, I would have cut some of the needless meandering of the initial episodes and extended their stay at the CDC. Even with the same outcome over six episodes, I believe it would have been more fulfilling. Time will tell where things go in the new season. I'll continue to support the show in the hope that it can grow into something even better.
Peter and I watched the pilot for Lost when it premiered at the San Diego Comic Con in 2004. In the panel following the screening, the filmmakers were quick to shoot down two theories raised by the audience. 1) The island was populated with dinosaurs. 2) The characters were not dead and in limbo. With that in mind, I wish that they had been lying about the first. Lost Season 6, and in a sense the series as a whole, has to be considered a disappointment. And lest you think I need everything spelled out in black and white, my two favorite TV series of all time are Twin Peaks and Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner.
By the inclusion of the unofficial pilot "The Time Element," The Twilight Zone Season One Blu Ray is a must buy. Fortunately Image has gone all out in the remastering of the show for this HD release. Expanding on the extras created for the original DVD collections, the series is definitely worthy of the double, triple, or quadruple dip that the Blu Ray set may represent.
Boris Karloff's Thriller arrived on DVD in a complete series set that, if your timing was right, you could have picked up for less than 50% off the retail price. While not on par with The Twilight Zone as far as the transfers are concerned, the extras produced for this set, a significant number of audio commentaries, make this a worthy addition to your DVD library. And when you add in all of the supplementary goodness to be had on our A Thriller A Day blog, how could you go wrong?
If you had asked me a year ago if we had seen the end-all, be-all edition of Dave Stevens The Rocketeer, I would have said absolutely. The Rocketeer: The Complete Deluxe Edition was a beautiful slipcased set including both comic series, along with 100 pages of bonus materials ranging from original sketches to reproductions of original art pages. It sold out almost immediately, but has since been reprinted and is still the ultimate color edition of the groundbreaking work. So if you have that, what more could you possibly want? Enter The Rocketeer Artist's Edition. Reprinting the entire series from the original art (in almost all cases) in its original 11x17 size, this is an amazing representation of Dave Stevens' work. Issued at this year's San Diego Comic Con, copies were trading after the show at a significant markup. Fortunately, as with the deluxe edition, IDW has gone back to press and will be releasing the book through mass market channels in 2011. The casual fan can always enjoy the trade hardcover The Rocketeer: The Complete Adventures. If you're a big fan, you won't want to miss the Deluxe edition. And if you're a die-hard Rocketeer fan (and have ordered the anamorphic widescreen DVD from the UK), you'll want to add the Artist's Edition to your library as well.
In the final issue of The Scream Factory, I wrote an issue-by-issue analysis of Don Glut and Jesse Santos' The Occult Files of Dr Spektor. My favorite Gold Key series has now been reprinted in a hardcover archive format by Dark Horse, with the remaining volumes on the way. I plan to write an updated piece for bare•bones once all of the archive volumes have been released, but don't wait and risk that the early volumes go out of print. My only disappointment is that they've gone with a non-gloss paper stock for these volumes. The resulting books weigh a fraction of their other archives, and while they still look nice, one would expect that with the lesser production values, they might reduce the price a bit. No such luck. Fortunately, Amazon offers them at a substantial discount.
And even if I wasn't involved in it, I'd recommend the souvenir program produced this year for the special gallery of Ralph McQuarrie original art that was on display at Star Wars Celebration V in Orlando, Florida: A Gallery of Imagination.
Who would have thought that someday I would see David Schow's name bandied about in Star Wars magazines and websites, and yet that is exactly what happens when you hang out with the likes of Drew Struzan. The Art of Drew Struzan, co-written by Schow, is the first collection of the artist's work to include a number of rare preliminary sketches and paintings. Raiders of the Lost Ark, Big Trouble in Little China, Back to the Future... they're all represented in here. If anything felt like it was missing, it would have to be a number of Struzan's contributions to the Star Wars special editions. But that leaves room for future volumes, right?
Archive Editions just released their second volume of Ray Harryhausen's Master of the Majicks (Volume 3) by Mike Hankin, covering the master's British films. Profusely illustrated, this 600+ page tome is another must have for the Harryhausen collector, even if you've got all the other books on the subject. I would be remiss if I did not point out that Caroline Munro provides a Foreword and is featured in numerous photos throughout the Golden Voyage of Sinbad section. Quantities are limited, and as Volume 2 is already sold out, don't miss out on this if you're interested. Volume 1, focusing on Harryhausen's early works, is forthcoming.
Just under the wire, but worthy of a mention after flipping through the profusely illustrated pages, comes The Complete History of Return of the Living Dead by Christian Sellers and Gary Smart. While not a FAB Press book, (it was published in the UK by Plexus) it has that same look and feel. It's comprehensive in that it covers all five films in the series. The original deservedly gets the lion's share of the attention. With access to photos from the film's still photographer and others, we are treated to dozens of images that have never been seen before, and not just the run of the mill press kit shots that have been reproduced over and over again. I hope to find that the text lives up to the visuals.
Finally, I'll second Peter's vote for David Horne's Gathering Horror, and I've only made it a few dozen into its almost 700 pages. If you are at all interested in the Warren magazines, head on over to eBay right now and order up a copy while you can get it at its extremely reasonable list price ($35). I assure you, with a print run of only 300 copies these will not last, and it promises to be the ultimate Warren reference for years to come.
OTHER COOL STUFF
Since I wrote an entire blog entry on the Aurora Monsters of the Movies Creature From The Black Lagoon model kit, I figured I'd just point back to that. :)