Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book reviews: 'Harry and the Hendersons" and "Wall Street"

In keeping with my 1987 binge...

Pretty rare and somewhat hard to find novelization of the 1987 film starring John Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, and Keven Peter Hall as the big guy underneath Rick Baker's Oscar winning makeup/creature effects.

Although the film was a box office disappointment back in that fabled summer of thirty years ago, the movie, like most Amblin productions from that era, has gone on to acquire a bit of a cult following since. 

Author Joyce Thompson utilizes strong viewpoints in this enjoyable book and really builds upon the characterizations of the movie. She does a nice job capturing the sweetness of the movie and even some of the zany humor. One really nice touch is that she adds a post movie coda for each character, letting us know what they have been up to since the end of the story in the film.

Bottom line: Very enjoyable light read and highly recommended for fans of the movie.

Full disclosure: I am a huge fan of the 1987 Oliver Stone film and of its Oscar winning star Michael Douglas. Oh, and I was in the business for fourteen years. I used to be Bud Fox, sort of. Anyway...

This is another one of those novelizations that I always craved and never even knew existed. And what a treasure it was to find because this a true "novelization", not a retyping of the script in prose form. There is atmosphere, relevant and interesting backstory, and vivid characterizations. These really are the characters from the film, and author Kenneth Lipper fleshes them out in a literary kind of way.

Plus, these book feels authentic and that is because the author is from the business. He knows this world and it shows.

Bottom line: A top notch novelization in every way and a must read for fans of the film.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Book review: Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A TV Companion

If you were fifteen years-old in the fall of 1979 (as I was), then "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" was the greatest television show ever.

Jam-packed with colorful (and often very revealing) costumes, disco-infused sets and music, super cool “Star Wars” style space battles—this sexy prime time space opera featured great villains, two strong leads in Gil Gerard and Erin Gray, enjoyable humor, and a slew of memorable guest stars including Jack Palance, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ann Lockart, Frank Gorshin, and many more. The series also had solid writing thanks to story editors Anne Collins and Alan Brennert.

This exquisitely detailed, beautifully presented behind the scenes book takes the reader right there into the production of the show, beginning with the development of the theatrically released 1979 feature film that was eventually edited into the series pilot episode.

This book by Patrick Jankiewicz (with a forward by Col. Deering herself, Erin Gray) is a fan’s dream come true—an absolute treasure drove of well-organized and insightful behind the scenes information including dozens of modern day interviews with cast members, guest stars, and the crew who made it all happen. Best of all, there is a fully fleshed out, detailed episode guide.

I always wondered what happened to Buck Rogers afte year one. Why, despite being fairly successful in the ratings, the show was completely revamped into an almost unrecognizable form.

After year one, show runner Bruce Lansbury and his talented writers Anne Collins and Alan Brennert left and the network brought in “Gunsmoke” producer John Mantley .

Mantley completely destroyed the Wilma Deering character by changing her from a strong, confident, bad ass leader and making her a meek stewardess (I kid you not). The sexy, witty, exciting show I loved was gone and in season two Buck Rogers became a dour, banal, dull, unimaginative version of “Gunsmoke” in space. This book does a great job of explaining how all of this went down.

Bottom line: One of the best behind the scenes TV “making of” books I have ever read. A must for fans of the show.

Book reviews: 'Quarry's Deal', 'Adventures in Babysitting',

Outstanding classic stylized hard-boiled noir from prolific genre master Max Allan Collins ("The Road to Perdition" and tons of other stuff). 

Quarry is the ultimate two-fisted brooding anti-hero character and Collins gives him a suspenseful, colorful mystery adventure full of femme fatales and shady operators in the tradition of Mickey Spillane, Dashiell Hammett, etc. Collins uses a wonderful, ultra-lean style in this fast-paced crime tale and this book definitely left me hungry to read more Quarry novels.

This novel was first published in 1967 and Hard Case Crimes has done their usual bang-up job in with this beautifully packaged 2016 edition featuring absolutely gorgeous knockout cover art by master illustrator Robert McGinnis.

Thoroughly enjoyable guilty pleasure novelization (based on a screenplay by David Simkins) of the 1987 comedy film that marked the directorial debut of Chris Columbus, the screenwriter of "Gremlins", "The Goonies", and "Young Sherlock Holmes" who would go on to direct many blockbusters including "Home Alone" and the first two "Harry Potter" films.

The movie was a minor sleeper hit and featured a winning performance by Elizabeth Shue. The author Elizabeth Faucher does a good job of capturing the movie's charm and breezy humor and really nails the pop culture vibe and vernacular of the mid/late 1980's. 

Friday, November 24, 2017

Goodreads giveaway for 'Caitlin Star and the Hand of God'

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Caitlin Star and the Hand of God by James J. Caterino

Caitlin Star and the Hand of God

by James J. Caterino

Giveaway ends December 10, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

She: a novel of obsession, time travel, and film noir

First published in 2005 and recently re-released with new cover art, "She" is a haunting, suspenseful tale about an unsolved murder mystery from the past, an a mysterious woman who appears in the present, and is dead ringer for the long dead victim.

From the back cover:

"We are driving on Street Runs Road now. This is the road—the place where it happened, the birthplace of my journey, the crossroads, the crux of time where the line between life and death merged. It is the place where I was forever changed." 

In July of 1983, JC Pezzini and his parents were involved in a deadly hit-and-run car accident. A mysterious Good Samaritan referred to as “She” was the only reason JC survived—and finding She has become his all-consuming passion in life. More than twenty years later, JC is a filmmaker, a voyeur, and a man haunted by his past. 

With the help of his psychiatrist, his friends, and old acquaintances of the unknown woman, JC will attempt to get closer to She than he could ever hope to—even in his most lucid daydreams. Whether through regression hypnotherapy, time travel by means of an anti-reality chamber, or sheer determination, JC won’t stop until he recovers the answers he has been searching for all these years. 

After coming across a stunning She look-alike named Angela, JC is convinced he’s almost completed his life quest. Only then are the real answers—and the shocking secrets that have hidden the truth—revealed.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

'Caitlin Star and the Hand of God'

Now available in Kindle and on Paperback.

Caitlin Star was once a beaten down but fiery thirteen year-old orphan trained by Gunner Star in the ways of the Bull Mongoni—a mythic species of ancient hominids. Caitlin fought in the Stadium Games and became the leader of a revolution that defeated fascism in the culture civil wars of North America in the days before the apocalypse.

But those days of training, Stadium Games with fights to the death, and revolutions, were a long time ago. Now the Bull Mongoni are not mythic. They are real and living in the Congo rain forest with Caitlin and her human, chimpanzee and gorilla friends. And for the past several years, Caitlin has been less of a warrior and more of a stateswoman as she and her friends have worked hard to build a new world—one of peace where both they and the Earth itself could finally heal from all of the trauma of the past decade.

But across the Atlantic a new evil has been brewing in the tattered remnants of America. An evil that has other plans. An evil being stoked and inspired by an orange-faced ex-TV reality star conman named Mack and his cult leader sidekick Frank Aries, a sadistic religious psychopath who is known as the Hand of God.

“Caitlin Star and the Hand of God” is a smashing, stand-alone sequel to “Caitlin Star: The Trilogy” from neo-pulp master storyteller James J. Caterino.