On Phantasm Ravager and the Phantasm Series



Well, I’ve completed my marathon of the Phantasm series, concluding with the final, just released fifth movie Phantasm: Ravager. And I want more. I just love this series. When you think of trippy, fast-paced sci-fi horror series that tell a continuous story over several movies, there’s really not much there. Thank goodness for Phantasm.

Eerie, dream-like, action-packed, with more WTF moments than any ten other series put together. I love it, and the series holds up surprisingly well. I look forward to seeing the revamped version of the first movie where they digitally improve some of the special effects (in some shots in the first movie you can actually see the fishing line they used to run the silver spheres on–but that’s a minor issue).

The series never does answer the question of how Reggie miraculously survived the first movie while Jody didn’t. I guess that will go down as one of the series’s biggest mysteries. And we never really get to learn the secret behind Mike’s connection to the Tall Man, although Ravager does give us a hint (I won’t spoil it).

So how is Phantasm: Ravager? Does Phantasm stick the landing?

I’ve been waiting for years (almost twenty years!) for the story to reach a conclusion, and I have to say . . . hm. It’s not baaad, but, well, it is what it is. A movie made fifteen years too late on a shoestring budget and not directed by the original filmmaker (although he did produce and co-write it). The movie gets very head-trippy, which I appreciate, but unfortunately that aspect comes in part due to an Alzheimer’s subplot. My dad died from Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago, so this hit a little too close to home for me, and it felt a little out of tone with the rest of the series, although I admired how they used it to address Reggie’s suddenly advanced age.

Gotta love Reggie. The lovable side character who somehow became the main character just because he’s so awesome. What a character! A randy hippie ice cream man who can play the guitar and wield a four-barreled shotgun. Love it. They really should have made this movie years ago, though, when he and the other actors were a bit younger. It has been about forty years since the original, after all, and none of them are young anymore.

But I digress. If nothing else, Phantasm: Ravager does indeed feel “Phantasm-y”, and I’m intrigued by how they ended it. I read an interview where Don Coscarelli talks about a possible TV series continuing or redoing the story, and I’ve got to say, that would rock! I would LOVE a Phantasm TV series, but only if Don is involved somehow and it’s done at a high level. Think Supernatural meets Twin Peaks.

I don’t know how they could ever replace Angus Scrimm, the actor who played the series’s villain, the Tall Man, so well and who made him an iconic horror movie foe complete with his own catchphrase. Seriously, try imagining any other actor saying “Boooooy”. It really doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
So Ravager isn’t perfect, but it does tie things up in an interesting way while leaving room for some stories to come.
I really wish they hadn’t had rap music during the final credits, though. I mean, really? Rap? In Phantasm? Why? It was jarring and out of place.
Sigh. I will fix it in my fan edit.

Because yes, when Phantasm Ravager is available on DVD, I’ll add it to my fan edit combining the rest of the series into one long movie. I will have to do some judicious editing on Ravager, though, paring it down to its essentials and removing the Alzheimer’s subplot, which just seemed out of place and which hits me, personally, in the wrong way.

Okay, so that’s my Phantasm rant. Rant over. Long live Phantasm!


My no-spoilers Ghostbusters 2016 review



Well, I just saw this today. Here are my brief NO SPOILERS thoughts:

I don’t mean to bash it, I know there are some people that really love the new Ghostbusters movie, and that’s great, but it didn’t connect to me at all. While I was watching it, I wished I had a watch so I could be checking the time left till I was free. I was very tempted to get up and walk out. I didn’t hate it, I was just bored. Neither the plot nor the characters grabbed me.

Also, I didn’t laugh. Once.

It felt very much like a Paul Feig movie, not a Ghostbusters movie. If you like Paul Feig movies, you’ll probably like this one. I’ve never connected with his material, and this movie was no exception. I was really rooting for it, though. I’m a child of the 80s and I’ve been waiting for a continuation of the Ghostbusters universe for a long time.

This movie didn’t “feel” like Ghostbusters, though. Tonally, it felt of a piece with “Spy” and “The Heat”. Other Paul Feig movies. It’s not that I hate the ad lib style of comedy filmmaking — I quite like Judd Apatow movies, for example, however predictable they are — but I have to admit to a certain fondness for scripted comedy. Where there are actual jokes, set ups and punchlines.

Of course, your mileage may vary, and that’s great. I’m something of a grumpy old man, I admit, and if you liked the movie, I’m happy for you.

Personally, I’m hoping for a sequel, just like I’m hoping for a sequel to Tarzan. I didn’t like either movie, but I like the root properties, and maybe they’ll get it right next time with a different writer and director.


My thoughts on the Warcraft movie . . .

Warcraft movie

Warcraft movie

So I saw Warcraft yesterday. Here are brief my NO SPOILERS thoughts on the movie.

I’m still divided on the movie, and I’m not sure I can give it a general recommendation. But … it wasn’t terrible. There were some good things about it. It was interesting, and different, and the visuals were well-realized, although I’m still not convinced the orcs needed to be CGI. The whole thing was CGI, really, except for some partial practical sets and the human actors. But it was well done for what it was.

The main problem I had with the movie is that the characters weren’t given any time to develop, with the possible exception of the main orc character (I forget his name). He was actually pretty likable and was performed well. The other characters didn’t fare so well. The Vikings TV show star did what he could in his role, the ostensible main character of the piece, but his character was given so little definition that it was hard to root for him.

It’s been said before that he is the Aragorn figure of this movie, and I suppose he is, but Aragorn is given a great deal of screentime in LOTR . . . before we even learn his name. The Warcraft guy — I think the character’s name is Lothar — is simply one of many moving parts to the movie, and they all move too fast and too chaotically to get any emotional grip on them before the end credits roll.

The movie needed to be more focused, more streamlined, or else it needed to have been split into multiple movies so that we could have the time needed to come to love this world, the people inhabiting it, and the orcs that want to claim it.

The villain is pretty solid, and I would consider him a bright spot except that he’s constantly checked by underlings who say things like, “If you kill X, the horde will turn on you”. A truly villainous leader would be less concerned about his P. R.

Anyway. The movie is deeply problematic, and it’s not great, but is is a loud, fast good time at the movies, and if you see it in Imax 3D like I did it is a true assault on the senses, in both a good way and a bad.

So do I recommend it? No. But . . . I can’t discourage anyone from seeing it, either. Final synopsis: it’s fun when it doesn’t make you want to pull your hair out.

For further thoughts on the movie, check out Io9’s article HERE.


Do you love reading Fantasy books? Then this is the perfect giveaway for you! Ten New York Times, USA Today, and Internationally Bestselling Authors have have teamed up to bring you a SPECTACULAR prize — a full year of Kindle Unlimited, for FREE! Even better, this contest doesn’t just have one winner, but TWO! We’ll be giving this amazing one-year subscription to TWO lucky readers, PLUS you can earn unlimited extra entries!

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My thoughts on X-Men: Apocalypse


Saw X-Men: Apocalypse last night and had a lot of fun with it. Here are my brief thoughts.


Don’t believe the negative buzz. It’s a solid movie. Not “great”, and certainly nowhere near Captain America: Civil War, but miles above BvS (which admittedly isn’t saying much). It’s a generally well-done and fun movie. It has the courage to eschew the normal action movie formula by resisting the urge to have a huge action scene every twenty minutes. Its first real action scene after the prologue is more of a comedic spectacle than a real action sequence, so it’s first REAL action scene doesn’t happen until well into the second half of the movie — and yet it’s never dull and always engaging. Good on Bryan Singer.

My only real complaint is that there are too many characters and I wish some of them had been more fully developed or that they’d simply dropped some and focused more on the ones they kept. Also, I missed the Humans Vs. Mutants theme that runs throughout most of the X-Men movies. But that’s a small nitpick.

I think the lack of character focus prevents the movie from achieving comic book movie greatness, but other than that, if you like these kinds of films, I think you’ll have a good time at the theater.

Oh, and Apocalypse was a pretty darned good villain. Poe Dameron, what happened to you? Amazing that the actor can portray both good guys and bad guys with the same flourish.


Magic & Mayhem Boxed Set

Title: Magic and Mayhem

Number of Novels: 21

Price: $0.99

Release: August 2, 2016

Synopsis: Get ready to be swept off into lands filled with magic, mystery, action, adventure and romance with these 21 full-length fantasy novels! 22 NY Times, USA Today, and International Bestselling authors have banded together to bring you this amazing boxed set, but like all good things, it’s only available for a limited time! Grab this collection today before it’s gone for good!



What makes this boxed set so special?

You might be asking yourself what makes this boxed set so special, and I’m more than happy to tell you. See, there’s nothing like this out there. Usually when you go looking for collections of books, one of two things happens, you either find the same novels you’ve seen everywhere else, most of which you can get for free, or you find a collection chock full of books filled with half-naked alphas and domineering vampires.

Now, both of those things are cool, but that’s not what this collection entails. No, the guys and girls in these novels are way more likely to punch a vampire in the face than make out with one. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with being saved, but sometimes a girl has got to take things into her own hands, like you know, a stake.

You will also find that each novel in this set is actually for sale on one or more venders for far more than the sticker price of this set. This isn’t a set filled with freebies designed to entice you into purchasing something you could find for free. No, this collection of over one million words retails for over fifty dollars, and it’s all your for a buck. If that isn’t a steal, I don’t know what else.

Some of the books within the set have sold thousands of copies by themselves, and almost all of them enjoy several four and five star reviews. Chances are you’ll find at least one of your new favorite series within, and likely more, all for only a buck. That’s a deal that’s hard to beat.

So who wouldn’t like this set?

There’s always someone who doesn’t like something, and if you’re on the fence about this set, I’ll try to warn you off right now.

  • If you don’t like kick ass men and women who stake vampires, pummel werewolves, and shoot zombies all while maintaining their snarky senses of humor, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like books who will bring you into a world full of fantasy, magic, and mayhem, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like books with hundreds of four and five star reviews, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t like paying $0.99 for 21 full-length novels, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you are expecting hot, steamy romance full of bare-chested werewolves getting it on, this boxed set isn’t for you.
  • If you don’t want to read books that will pull you in and not let you go until you’ve read all their sequels, this boxed set isn’t for you.

Okay, you keep saying 21 novels, but what exactly does that mean?

I thought you’d never ask. Here’s a list of what’s included in this set:

Burned by Magic – Jasmine Walt

Come, the Dark – Rebecca Hamilton

The Sorcery Code – Dima Zales & Anna Zaires

Unbound – Emily Goodwin

Legally Undead – Margo Bond Collins

Wardbreaker – J.A. Cipriano

Quartz – Rabia Gale

Chased by Fire – D.K. Holmberg

Waterwitch – Thea Atkinson

Adamant – Emma L. Adams

The Sunken – S.C. Green

Heart of the Kraken – A.W. Exley

The Atomic Sea – Jack Conner

Rebel’s Honor – Gwynn White

Echo in Time – Lindsey Fairleigh

The Hunt for Snow – S.E. Rabin

They’re So Vein – Susan Stec

Chameleon – K. De Long

Brooding City – Tom Shutt

Death is But a Dream – Erin Hayes

Power Shift – Calinda B.

Trust me, with 21 novels from twenty-two New York Times, USA Today, and International bestselling authors, you’re getting more than enough bang for your buck. Just don’t start this set late at night if you value your sleep, because I guarantee you’ll be up WAY past your bedtime! This incredible boxed set is only going to be around at $0.99 for a limited time, so make sure you grab your copy today!


YES! Deadpool is a hit.



I’m hugely happy about this, not just because I enjoyed the movie (although I did), but because I am so utterly sick of the spate of PG-13 action movies in recent years. For Cthulhu’s sake, even Die Hard has gone PG-13!

Heck, even Star Wars, which has always been PG, has gone PG-13. I’m okay with that, but I’m really not okay with every single action movie being bloodless fluff. I want to see limbs severed, chests exploded, people cursing and, well, er, other adult stuff. Cough. Like taxes, maybe.

Anyway. I really, really hope that the success of Deadpool helps cement the recent trend toward more mature big-budget fare at the cinema.

The next Alien, Terminator, Die-Hard and so on could now actually, even realsitcally, return to its/their R-rated roots, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Bring it on, Hollywood.

Read more HERE.


Monthly Mutation Update

Okay, here are the submissions for February . . .

The first one comes from returning champ EJ Bouinatchova, and it’s called The Lady of Ethali.


Lady of Ethali

Lady of Ethali


The second one is brought to us by Kayla Perisho. Not only did she create a wonderful image, but she also developed a fun backstory for her character:

This lovely lady has suffered several mutations. Her skin is scaly, but has the properties of an octopus, allowing her to change color and texture to an extent. She has grown lamp like lures from the back of her neck, and her teeth extend like needles, much like an angler fish. She has adapted to her mutations well, using them to lure unsuspecting men into dark alleys with her beauty, then swiftly makes her kill and is off with their valuables.



And finally we have a delightfully creepy submission from Martin Adi-Smith:



Which one is your favorite?

Please, share this on your social media of choice and keep the Mutation going. Oh, and as always, if you’re interested in the series of novels that inspire this competition, THE ATOMIC SEA, you can grab a copy of the first volume HERE.


My mini-review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Star Wars: The Force Awakens


Enough time has gone by that I think it’s acceptable to dive into spoiler territory now. But there WILL be spoilers, so be warned, those of you who haven’t seen Star War: The Force Awakens — SPOILERS beyond this point.

Personally, I really enjoyed The Force Awakens on the first viewing, but I had some problems with it — too many structural callbacks to A New Hope, too much CGI, and not very good CGI — seriously, do we really want the Big Bad to be a lame CGI construction? There is no reason for Snoke to be CGI; he’s very humanoid. Also, Snoke is a silly name. And there was no scary villain like Vader, no towering figure of evil kicking ass. Keylo Ren is more of a conflicted, angst-driven Anakin-esque figure — which is actually pretty great. I love having a conflicted villain. Keylo is fascinating. But no Vader. And Snoke is a goofy hologram on a crappy CGI set.

I had other problems with the movie, but those started to fall away on the second viewing. Because, on the positive side, the movie FELT like Star Wars. It felt like Star Wars more keenly than the Prequels ever did. It was FUN. The characters were a blast (although I didn’t feel like we got to spend enough time with any of them. We didn’t have a long, get-to-know-you period with any of them like we did with Luke.)

But anyway, the movie WORKS. It’s a blast, a nitro-fueled ball of energy filmed against largely practical sets (that are gorgeous and very Star Wars-y), which really helps sell the reality of the universe. When the sets aren’t practical, like the awful CGI bridge at the end with Han, they’re less good. Seriously, the CGI in this movie is terrible. But fortunately so much of it is practical, and beautifully made, with vibrant directing, likeable acting and exciting Star Wars-y stuff going on.

I can’t wait to get to know the new characters better, especially Poe. I understand he was actually meant to die in this movie, but they decided to keep him around, and I’m glad they did. Hopefully he’ll have a bigger role next time around. His daring heroism feels so refreshing in this jaded age.

I love the fact that the lightsaber duel wasn’t all leaping and jumping around. It wasn’t for looks so much (as in Phantom Menace) but for substance. I want an explanation for how Rey is able to go up against Keylo Ren without training, but I’m assuming she absorbed some of his own training during their mind meld, so I’m willing to let that slide.

I love that Finn was a garbage man.

I want (and will probably get) a comic book about each of the aliens in Kanata’s bar.

I’m still wrestling with my feelings on the movie, but overall I’m starting to love it. A third viewing is definitely required. It was during the second viewing of Phantom Menace that it really began to sink in that something was way wrong with the Prequels. On the second viewing of Force Awakens, I only began to like it more. A third viewing might push me over the like line into love.

What about you? Thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Conjectures for the future of the series? Is Rey Luke’s daughter? What’s up with her vision?