Aside from thinking way too much about movies featuring vampires and slime creatures, my other main hobby is vinyl. I’ve been collecting thrift store records since I was in high school (I guess you could say, before it was cool) and I’ve seen a small cult hobby grow into a big old shitty pile of greed and snobbery as more people got into it and the vultures swooped in to sell overpriced junk to the ignorant and the stupid. But that’s a rant for another day, I suppose.
My favorite things to collect used to be punk records but since those have become super trendy (Grrrr), they’re generally out of my prince range now (I saw a fuggin’ Saints record on sale for like 50 bucks today. I mean, I love The Saints first three albums more than I love most people but come on! That’s just insane.) I have, however, combined two hobbies into one as for quite a few years now I’ve been trying to find horror related things on vinyl. Well, it used to be just horror but after awhile it started to encompass science fiction as spaceships and ray guns kept turning up in the bargain bins I was digging in and at the record fairs I was spending too much time and money at. Plus the damn things weren’t and aren’t trendy so they’re usually pretty cheap and fun to track down.
At any rate, I thought I’d show off a few of my favorite finds here. Not everything, just the good stuff or we’d be here all day. Okay? Let’s go! (Please excuse my poor photography skillz).
To start off with, this is the first one I ever found. At a Catholic run thrift store no less! I also dug up a signed copy of a book about real life murders by August Derleth at the same time. I wonder if those old ladies running the counter thought I was up to something…
Is Deliverance a horror movie? I guess it’s a horror movie of sorts. It did actually give me a bad nightmare the first time I watched it, so I guess it counts. It’s probably the weirdest soundtrack for a “scary” movie ever produced since it’s just a previously released bluegrass record with Dueling Banjos tacked on! Got this one for a whole dollar from some guy at a flea market who obviously wanted to get rid of a bunch of shit. Snagged a pretty sweet Willie Nelson double LP at the same time. Best two dollars ah ever spent!
This one was my mom’s. I remember it sitting around in my parent’s disused box of vinyl since I was a little kid (I bought an old record player when I was a teenager but we never had one growing up). The cover is beat all to Hell but it plays like it was just opened yesterday. I have no idea why my mother had this since most of her collection consisted of stuff like Journey and Bread (yes, that is an actual band’s name). And, hey! It still has the original booklet inside it!
This is a pretty crummy kid’s record where a really bad voice actor tells stories that I’ve read were adapted from the Planet of the Apes comic books and that really kind of suck. The artwork is just amazing though. Check out the back cover. It looks nothing like the front!
This is another kid’s record but this one is actually pretty damn cool. The first side of this Disneyland record is a series of goofy stories interspersed with sound effects that are supposed to have come from the Disney stock library. The second side is just the sound effects and the record says you’re supposed to make up your own damn stories. One of the tales on the first side involves a racist Asian character! Amazing.
This is one that I picked up for like a dollar at Goodwill. It’s Meco’s followup to his unbelievably campy Star Wars disco record. In this one he takes his funky disco beats and travels through time! If you’ve ever wanted to hear what Studio 54 would sound like transported to the 1930’s, here ya go! If there was a robot that ran on camp and you played him this disc, he’d overload and start shooting sparks out of his shiny robot asshole.
And finally, this is one that I picked up today but haven’t had a chance to listen to yet. I still consider it one of the coolest things I’ve ever bought. I mean look at the actual record itself! Holy crap!
That, my friends, is true beauty. None of this Van Gogh or Monet shit. They never put out a piece of double colored vinyl now did they? No! They’re trash I tell you! Trash!
I guess those are the more visually interesting ones I’ve acquired. I won’t bore you all day with these just because I like to show off a bit. And, hey, if anyone wants to come over and listen to the soundtrack from 2001: A Space Odyssey or the original Battlestar Galactica TV series, you’re more than welcome. Bring some snacks though. Good ones. And root beer! Nobody gets in without root beer! And…hey! Come back! I’ve got the 70’s King Kong remake on DVD! We can compare notes on why it’s crap and…wait! Where are you going….
Analog Science Fiction and Fact is the longest running science fiction magazine in history, starting all the way back in 1930 and still publishing today. Having been around for so long, it’s had quite a few different editors, titles, and varying degrees of quality. It’s generally agreed that the magazine had it’s heyday in the 1940’s and 50’s when it published stuff by guys like Issac Asimov and Harlan Ellison, giants of literary science fiction as well as stories by HP Lovecraft. Even though it’s well respected now, when it first started out under the hand of Harry Bates, most famous for writing Farewell to the Master, the story that The Day the Earth Stood Still was based off of, it was pretty much just another pulp magazine among the piles of the things that littered the news stands and poisoned the minds of America’s youth from the 1930’s to the 50’s. It wasn’t until 1933 when it almost died and was picked up by F. Orlin Tremaine that it started to form into the famous and notable publication that it would later become.
Thankfully for people like me that love early pulp garbage to death, the first three years of the magazine’s existence, the entirety of Harry Bates’ tenure as editor, were published without a copyright notice and thus are public domain and you can legally download them online for free! I, of course, plan on reading every issue, which is actually quite a nice pile of trashy literature. Alright, let’s see what this first issue is all about…
First of all, lets take a look at the cover. If that’s not the perfect short hand for all of the pulp genre, I don’t know what is. A ham fisted hero punching a giant beetle in the face while a girl looks meekly on. Brilliant.
Then we get to the introductory editorial that actually has the nuts to proclaim that all of the stories that you are about to read could actually happen in the future! When your cover has a dude punching a giant bug in the face, that’s pretty freaking bold.
So now let’s do some quick rundowns/reviews of the stories this mag contains:
- The Beetle Horde (Part 1 of 2) by Victor Rousseau
The cover story, obviously. Published in serial fashion so the editor could rope people into buying the next issue. Not the best written thing I’ve ever read but fast moving and a good bit of fun. Giant beetles at the South Pole. Who woulda thunk?
- The Cave of Horror by Captain S.P. Meek
Probably the best story out of the bunch, sort of a sci-fi horror thing about a strange monster killing people that wander into a cave and the intrepid scientists that have to save the day. Kind of gets bogged down in the middle with lame science type gibberish but picks up for a neat finale.
- Phantoms of Reality by Ray Cummings
I actually really liked this longer story (it’s kind of a short novel) but it’s such an odd mix of pulp sci-fi and medieval fantasy that I don’t know if everyone reading would buy into it. It has moments where the writing really shines through though which make it worth sticking with it (plus the finale is really good).
- The Stolen Mind by M.L. Staley
While the stories so far have been by people that were pretty prolific writers, this is the first one that’s penned by a genuine nobody and damn, does it show! This strange tale about a secret agent that has his mind stolen by a mad scientist is so over the top in it’s writing style that it ends up being pretty funny when you’re not being totally blindsided by how odd the whole thing is.
- Compensation by C.V. Tench
Written by another nobody that published not a single other piece of literature, at least this one is short. It’s about a scientist that vanishes while trying to figure out how to achieve absolute zero. I guess it’s supposed to have some sort of moral to it, but I’ll be fucked if I can figure out what it’s supposed to be.
- Tanks by Murray Lenister
A war story about tanks. It’s at least interesting to read about what people in the pre-WWII era thought modern warfare was going to be like, but even though this one is well written, it’s kind of dull. Dull is not something that pulp literature should be. It’s also a tiny bit racist but not as bad as it could have been. All in all, just kind of here to fill space.
- Invisible Death by Anthony Pelcher
The final story in the inaugural issue of this important and revered magazine is about a circus performer that steals invisibility machines from a scientist and uses them to extort money from a group of engineers. Huh. The writing in this one is pretty crummy but it’s weird enough that it kept my attention. Ends rather quickly as well, sort of like the author couldn’t quite figure out where the story should go but really didn’t give a fuck anyways. At least he got his paycheck.
At the end of the day, what we’ve got here is an interesting mix of decent stories and total trash. It was all pretty fun to read though, and since I didn’t have to pay a dime for any of it, totally worth the money! I’m actually really looking forward to future issues and hopefully, I’ll throw quick reviews of them up on here as well. Viva la pulp!
You know what kind of sucks? I’m already starting to run out of things to say about Asylum films. I’ve already given my theory that they can’t be judged like normal movies because they’re not normal fucking movies. They’re not made to be “good” in any sense of the word. They’re also not “unintentional” comedies because they’re specifically made to be bad! The fact that they still make me laugh more than a clown with horrible farts probably says more about my sense of humour and taste in film than anything else. So here we go with another classic piece of below Z-grade cinema…
How’s this for a plot: Tiffany (yes, that Tiffany, although in this film she looks disconcertingly like someone’s mom) and her team of scientists working in Venezuela have, for some reason, created genetically modified super piranha that have managed to escape and are swimming upriver towards Florida. They don’t sleep, they don’t need to breed, and they keep growing bigger! Oh, no! Enter Paul Logan (From Days of Our Lives, one of many soaps my mom used to watch) an American secret agent who’s sent down to figure out why people are dying. He moves on the orders of…wait for it…Greg Brady! Well, Barry Williams who seems to be making a living doing these sorts of movies as of late. He also fought Danny Bonaduce in The Asylum’s Bigfoot in 2012.
There’s a lot of other crap that happens involving the Venezuelan army but that’s not important. What’s important is what you came for: murderous fish. And that’s pretty much what you get….
Like I said, you can’t judge an Asylum film the same way you’d judge other films. Mega Piranha is grade school level stupid, the plot makes no sense at all, the CGI looks like it was meant for an original Playstation game, and nobody, except for maybe Barry Williams, can act their way out of a paper bag. That said, it’s probably one of the most competent Asylum films I’ve seen mostly because it can almost, if you squint reeeeally hard, pass for an actual film. There’s an odd sort of style to this thing, achieved through strange quick cut editing and subtitles that announce every single one of our main characters and what their occupation is! My wife remarked that it really does feel like you’re watching an odd mix of Banged Up Abroad and MTV Cribs!
But when you get right down to it, this was meant to be stupidly entertaining and, for me at least, it succeeded. Paul Logan bicycle kicking a bunch of fish and Tiffany trying to pass for a real actor was just what I needed today after a stressful job interview and a doctor’s appointment that ended with a large wart on my foot getting frozen off causing me a large deal of pain (although not half as much as the job interview).
A lot of people rip on this studio but I think they’re really missing the point. The Asylum is pretty much the modern equivalent of the grindhouse film companies of the 1970’s. They just want to entertain and do it as cheaply as possible while making as much money as they possibly can. They have no qualms about the “quality” of their work.
I, for one, will watch as many of their films as I can. Well, at least as many as I stumble across that are as cheap as possible to view…
- There are boobs in the DVD version, but they’re all relegated to the very beginning. And no, we don’t see Tiffany’s boobs. If you really need to see those, god knows why, she was in Playboy a few years back.
- This film was probably The Asylum’s first big hit. During it’s initial airing on the Sci-Fi Channel, 2.2 million people tuned in! It was followed by Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid in 2011, which stared both Tiffany and Debbie Gibson! (Gibson has also posed for Playboy, god knows why)
- Why hasn’t there been a movie yet where they got all the old Brady Bunch actors together to fight a giant monster snake or something? It’s a missed opportunity!
- Barry Williams character is named Bob Grady. Get it? Har har. Wait, that’s…actually kind of clever. That might be the cleverest thing in this movie, actually. It’s only competition is really that scene where the giant piranha gets impaled on a pointy building.
A bunch of US marines are running around in the woods on an “island”. They get killed one by one by a group of modified super soldiers until only one is left and, conveniently, it’s the best looking girl. Some more stuff sort of happens, there’s a giant robot, and then the movie ends. There’s background info on what’s supposed to be going on but it doesn’t really matter. You’re in Asylum town now, boy! Leave your brain at the front gates…
Like most Asylum films, Universal Soldiers is a rip-off and not even a rip-off of what you’d think. While the title makes you think you’re going to get an even cheaper version of the already cheap Jean Claude Van Damme/Dolf Lundgren series Universal Soldier (singular) it’s really a combination of Predator, The Most Dangerous Game, and Lost all sort of hacked together with a dull knife. What I love about this film, and Asylum in general, is how shameless they are in their thievery. Not only does a character actually make a reference to Lost, there’s also direct lines stolen from Predator! I guess you could call this an homage if the studio’s mantra wasn’t “steal and be as cheap as possible.”
Watching an Asylum film is always kind of a toss up. Their output is either brain numbingly boring or hilariously stupid with not much in between. A lot of this is balanced on three things:
1. How game the actors are to over act
2. How stupid the dialog said actors have to spew is
3. How much gore is present
Thankfully Universal Soldiers scores well in all three departments. On the actor front we’ve got the lovely Kristen Quintrall, an Asylum veteran who seems to do quite a bit of double duty as an editor as well, and Jason S. Gray, another regular who overacts so hard that at times it seems like his head should just explode right off of his shoulders and shoot into space!
We’ve also got Dario Deak who’s biggest claim to fame is that he almost got chosen to play Conan in the recent reboot attempt, and Rick Malambri, a former fashion model who really cannot act for shit. As is the prerogative in any Asylum film, most of the screen time is spent with the actors standing around screaming at each other and dying in graphic but oddly repetitive ways. For this film the usual mode of death is for one of the modified robo-soldiers to give them punches through the stomach with hand crafted spears (Really more just chunks of wood, but whatever). Why they don’t just use guns is never explained but you’re not supposed to think about it. You’re not supposed to think about anything! Just laugh at the words that somebody actually had to write down on paper and that then came out of actual human mouths, gawk at the piss poor special effects, watch the credits roll, and then run out and rent/buy another Asylum film. You knew what you were getting into so you shouldn’t have any regrets. I sure as Hell don’t. But then, I never do…
- This thing looks like it was filmed on a very windy day. This becomes a problem when it starts to mess with the audio! I have never watched a film where this happened and it’s really weird to sit through. There’s a part at the end where all you can hear is the wind through the microphone and there’s not even soundtrack playing! It’s kind of disconcerting…
- Does every Aslum sci-fi film have a drunk professor character? Every one that I’ve seen does. What a strange and hilarious trademark. The one in this film sucks straight from a bottle of Jägermeister! Barf!
- Worst. Marines. Ever. They would all be court martialed if almost all of them weren’t dead by the end of the movie.
- There’s a line in this that goes something like “Maybe if you stopped staring at these little titties, you’d be able to do your job!” and it’s one of the funniest things ever uttered onscreen.