Monday, November 11, 2013


I met THE GHOUL in a bookstore, not at the the movies. Guy Smith's novelization caught my attention for obvious reasons, and Smith was already a big part of my life thanks to his numerous killer crab books and 'The Sucking Pit', one of the greatest pulp titles ever.

At only 128 pages, THE GHOUL is a short read, and its tale of two British couples who race their jalopies to Land's End, an obscure coastal region of Cornwall, and end up tangling with a creature kept prisoner in an creaky old inn, is a modest winner.

As good novels do, this tale evokes much in the mind of the reader, so doesn't suffer the fallout of expectations that the film does. At some point, films must show the horror, and if the horror isn't up to scratch, the disappointment sinks in.

THE GHOUL film, which stars Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson (she of the ample cleavage), and John Hurt, is a stodgy affair under Freddie Francis's direction. Although atmospheric and nicely shot, it never truly meshes its elements, and lacks forward momentum. With its coastal setting, it feels a little like a Brit STRANGLER OF THE SWAMP, with the mutant son of a preacher (Cushing) replacing the aforementioned STRANGLER, but it lacks that film's deep dread. Francis pipes in plenty of fog and keeps Hurt, Cushing, and Ian McCulloch (!) busy, but he mishandles the reveal of THE GHOUL (Don Henderson) in a case of too little too late.

Guy Smith provides more GHOUL action in the novel and threads in some additional backstory about the creature's origins. Although the cinema GHOUL is on the book's cover, the creature still works better when suggested and not seen. Horror's dilemma is that it risks being absolute on the screen, while the novel doesn't risk that problem.

Plotwise, there are similarities here to Richard Laymon's first novel, THE CELLAR ('80).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Last Post? Perhaps

I started this blog to share my passions -- meaning, my precious collection of books, ad mats (since '68), and movie art.

The BARON BLOOD drive-in ad mat is, for me, a symbol of a time that has sadly passed. Now, movies like it have been somewhat devalued, reduced to files "aggregated" on a massive on-line archive. There's no scarcity any more, so no value. There's some hope afoot, but the hope requires a shot of reality.

Are blogs going the same way? In the early days, most of my posts provoked a healthy torrent of comments from a loyal, informed readership. Now, the comments are few.

What's changed? Does nobody want to comment, or has commenting become tiresome? Worse, have blogs like this had their day?

Without readers, there's not much point in me posting. I'd be the tree falling in the forest that nobody can hear.

I've always enjoyed the dialog posts create, although it's always been hard to gauge what people really want most.

According to the stats each blog owner can access, the most popular post EVER here was the one I did on 'Brian Peppers'. It easily outscores all the others. The writing accompanying it focused on alienation, on being different, on hypocrisy.

At least it's a thoughtful post that got the traction.

I fully realize that we're all travelers through the paradox called Life, and events of and not of our own undoing shift priorities and realign focus.

Traffic here is no different.

I'm grateful for the support this blog has had for its five year life span.

I've made some good friends and enjoyed rich conversations about the things we love.

Personally, I've been going through some very trying times myself lately, and I sense major changes afoot. When one door closes, another opens. It's a cliche, but it's rooted in truth.

As I get older, I become less tolerant of games and bullshit, and I seek refuge in the bosom of common sense, honesty, and decency.

I'm grateful for the good.

I'm done with the bad.

Life's too short to indulge the toxins.

And the sun's too bright to ignore.