Captain_America_The_Winter_SoldierCaptain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) is way too long but it’s still a pretty good movie. I’m not big on comic book movies, (like anyone cares) but this, like the first in the series has something different about it that sets it apart from the other Marvel flicks. Maybe it’s the throwback to WW II and the comparison of today with the era of the Greatest Generation. Whatever, the action set pieces in The Winter Soldier are the best I’ve seen in any of the recent big budget comic hero movies. No jiggly cameras so you can’t tell what’s really going on. Well-choreographed fights. Nick Fury’s attempt to escape a squad of assassins on the streets of D.C. was extremely well done. Wish I had an SUV like that. The surround sound on the Blu-Ray that I watched was pretty effective.

Oh, it just dawned on me what sets Cap apart from the others. HE hasn’t gone all dark and creepy like Batman and Superman. He’s not a smart ass millionaire like Iron Man either. I hope to see more in the series.

The Flash

And surprise I actually thought The Flash pilot episode on CW was pretty good too. Way better than the episode of Agents of SHIELD that ran right on ABC right after it. Much livelier pace, more interesting characters and better sets and special effects. Could be a winner. The only drawback is that its on CW, which means everybody in the cast is about 14 years old.

But who is stealing from who? In the Flash the hero gets hit by lightning and gets superhuman powers. In Agents of Shield somebody gets hit by lightning and can turn everything into ice cubes.


Makes you want to go stand out in a thunderstorm just to see what will happen. You might get your own comic book.

So I guess, Ben Franklin may have been on to something flying those kites in electrical storms. Maybe he got hit and was actually the first superhero, but kept it quiet. Sounds like a story there. Ben Franklin able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Faster than a speeding horse and carriage.

Anyway, those are my blighted opinions about which I’m sure nobody cares. Over and out.


OrcaI keep thinking about ORCA and why I like it so much. It’s not a great movie. It will never go down in any of the official lists of “all time great films.” But the truth is this film, in its own way, is a classic.

Raymond Chandler once wrote: “Within its frame of reference, which is the only way it should be judged, a classic is a piece of writing which exhausts the possibilities of its form and can hardly be surpassed.”

The ORCA script was written by Luciano Vincenzoni, Sergio Donati, and Robert Towne. An impressive trio. The script fits Chandler’s definition of a classic in the sense that it exhausts the possibilities of its form by taking the concept of the pathetic fallacy to its ultimate extreme. In case you can’t remember back to your English Literature 101 class, the pathetic fallacy ascribes human traits to animals. You could not go any further with basic idea of ORCA than this script does. It can hardly be surpassed. 

It’s a better film than JAWS because, for one thing, it gives the whale motivation. We know why ORCA wants to kill Richard Harris. Revenge for killing his wife and child. What’s JAWS’ motivation? He’s just an eating machine. Where’s the conflict?

Some critics complained that Dino DeLaurentis and his writers were basically ripping JAWS off. Maybe, but there’s more to it than that. They obviously respected Stephen Spielberg’s film but they weren’t above giving it the finger either. The ORCA filmmakers definitely took a tongue in cheek shot at JAWS in the very first scene, in which a Killer Whale kills a big Great White Shark without breaking a sweat. Chomp-Chomp. Charlotte Rampling says, “Only a Killer Whale could do that.”

Take that Bruce.



OrcaI watched ORCA again on the EPIX Channel. This is one of my favorite movies because it is totally insane. Better than JAWS because it doesn’t care if it’s crazy and makes no sense. But while it’s running you really believe that killer whale really wants to kill Richard Harris.

Harris plays it so straight he should have gotten the Oscar. He’s like any guy in real life would be. “What are you saying? The whale wants revenge? Yeah, sure!.”  Why not a posthumous special ORCA OSCAR for Richard. He deserves something. All those other Brits, all his old drinking buddies, like Peter O’Toole and Richard Burton all got awards, but not poor Richard.

In addition to Harris’ rich performance the film boast two of the best looking ladies of the seventies in the cast– Charlotte Rampling and Bo Derek. What’s not to like?:

EPIX had a beauty of a widescreen version of the movie with stereo Ennio Morricone Soundtrack. Preserved permanently on my DVR.

Other news.

I got some royalty checks from Amazon yesterday and turns out I sold more paperbacks of Vampire Siege at Rio Muerto than I thought. Thanks very much, dear readers.

This is a good time to pick up a copy of Rio Muerto before the new book comes out later this year. The new story, Killing Monsters Is My Business picks up where Muerto leaves off. You’ll be able to read the new one without having to read the first one, but knowing all the background details only makes it that much better. Right?




Sized CoverIf you read VAMPIRE SIEGE AT RIO MUERTO you might have asked yourself what happened to monster hunter Mordecai Slate in the days after the Battle of Rio Muerto. The new story, HUNTING MONSTERS IS MY BUSINESS answers that question. The events that occur in this tale will shock you. Coming later this year from Flying W Press.

Haven’t read Rio Muerto yet? What are you waiting for? You can order it from Amazon.

By the way I want to thank readers in Australia who have been buying the book. Nice to see Mordecai is getting fans in other countries. He’s also got readers in Great Britain and Canada. Hope some of you will pitch in with some Amazon reviews. It always helps.

The article I did on ONE EYED JACKS the troubled classic western that Marlon Brando starred in and RETRO30450directed is in the new Issue (No. 30) of Cinema Retro. This magazine is sold around the world, but you can also order it by mail. The interesting thing about ONE EYED JACKS is that in this era of special collector’s editions of films that aren’t worth the plastic they’re made of, the only decent copy of this great western is the one on Laser Disc. Go figure.


q5469“Hunting Monsters Is My Business,” a new 25,000 word Mordecai Slate novella is now completed. Coming soon through a unique joint publishing venture. It will also be released as part of the complete collection of Mordecai Slate short stories to be published this fall by Flying W Press. More info soon.

RETRO30450The new issue of Cinema Retro is now available (Issue No. 30.) It has some good stuff including articles on Hercules and the Italian Sword and Sandal films of the sixties, WARLORDS OF ATLANTIS, and the three films Howard Hawks and John Wayne did, RIO BRAVO, EL DORADO, and RIO LOBO. Last but not least, there’s also an article I wrote about ONE EYED JACKS, the troubled classic western directed by and starring Marlon Brando.

What’s interesting about this film is that in this day and age of special edition BluRay releases of films that aren’t worth the plastic they’re copied on, there still is no definitive digital version of this film available for home viewing. The best version currently available is on the obsolete, but still good in my opinion, Laser Disc format.

You can get more info here at Cinema Retro.

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To commemorate the anniversary of 9/11 here is a reposting of the piece I did last year for my blog and the Amazing Stories Magazine. 

To this day there are people who believe that the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings caused by the crashing of two hijacked airliners and the damage done to the Pentagon by a third plane didn’t really happen the way it’s been reported. They think it was some kind of inside job caused not by hijacked airplanes but by bombs planted inside the buildings. Various conspiracy theories exist to explain who was behind it all.

I’m here to tell you for certain that as far as the Pentagon attack is concerned such theories are nonsense. The damage was done by hijacked airplanes. How do I know? I know because I saw the plane that crashed into the Pentagon with my own two eyes.

On Sept. 11, 2001 I was an editor/reporter for a news organization by the name of the Bureau of National Affairs, since changed to Bloomberg BNA, Inc. That particular morning I was driving up I-395 in northern Virginia to my office in Washington, D.C., listening to WGMS-FM, Washington’s former classical music station (no longer in existence) when a news flash came on about a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center buildings. It was shocking news, especially when 20 minutes later there was a report of another crash into the other WTC Tower.

I knew Howard Stern broadcast live from New York so I punched the button for his station and heard Howard and Robin and Bababooey freaking out on the air. Despite the news, I followed habit and eased off 395 onto the off ramp for Washington Blvd., the way I always did every morning. Washington Blvd. runs right alongside the Pentagon. Halfway down the ramp, traffic came to a standstill. Suddenly there was a loud noise over to my left, like a tornado loaded with TNT. I turned and saw a big airliner that seemed no more than 10 feet off the ground flying at the speed of a guided missile right toward the Pentagon. It was a moment of complete shock. Something like that, you don’t believe you’re really seeing it.

The off ramp I was on cuts under an overpass where 395 continues on to D.C. There was an embankment in front of me, so  I couldn’t see the Pentagon building directly, but a second later there was an explosion behind the embankment and a huge ball of orange fire.

At that moment I realized we were under attack and the first thing I thought was how many more planes are coming? How big is this? For a moment everyone in their cars sat there stunned but some of us got out of our vehicles and ran up the embankment toward the pillar of smoke that was rising to see what had happened. At the top of the embankment we could look down and see the Pentagon surrounded in a dense fog of black smoke, orange flames, licking through the clouds, and almost immediately the sickening smell of a burning airplane with humans on board.

It took several minutes before I heard any sirens or saw any flashing red lights, but by the time they started I was climbing back down the embankment to my car, shaken. I got in my car and Howard Stern and gang were jabbering away. I clicked the radio off and sat in silence, and there was only one thought in my head. “I’ve got to get out of here!” How in the world first responders can charge into situations like that escapes me. The instinct for survival is strong, and when there’s danger your first reaction is to run.

But we couldn’t run, we were stuck on the off ramp, and it was an uncomfortable half hour until police arrived and made everyone turn around and drive back up the wrong way and follow detours that took us away from D.C.  I drove home wondering what in the world is happening? I just saw something that I never thought I’d see outside of a bad science fiction movie.

It was a day that changed America forever. There’s no denying it. Some things will never be the same. But other things will. The triumph of courage over fear shown by rescue workers, many who lost their lives trying to help others; the readiness of men in uniform to defend and protect the nation and its people; and the hope that someday things will be better, that love can overcome hate, and reason will vanquish ignorance, those things still remain. Let’s hope they always will.

To quote Inspector Clouseau, “Ze Meestery ees Solv-ed.”

For years I have been trying to find out the name of the movie I saw as a kid in which one of the characters is killed with a rake. It was a western filmed in Technicolor and I saw it in a theater when I was around eight or nine years old. You don’t see the actual murder on screen. You see the aftermath. There’s just an image of a bloody rake leaning against a wall covered in blood. I still remember the vividness of that red-stained rake. up there on the big screen.

I saw a lot of movies growing up. Some you remember most you forget but that was one movie that has haunted me since childhood. But I could never find out the name of it or who was in it. One time I posted this matter on my Facebook page, asking if anyone out there had ever seen it. Nobody had. It became like an obsession. I googled all the key words I could think of. Went on IMDb and searched all over on “rake” “death by rake,” “bloody rake.” Came up with nothing.

My quest to find this movie became something of Ahab-like proportions. The bloody red rake became my White Whale. I even went so far as to go on Martin Scorsese’s Facebook page and asked if he or anyone had ever heard of it. I’ve heard he knows everything about almost every movie ever made.  Marty didn’t answer. I wonder if he really posts there anyway. I began to wonder if I had ever even really seen this flick. Maybe I just dreamed it or something. But then one of his Facebook fans responded by saying he didn’t know but I should check with a blog called 50 Westerns from the Fifties.

And so I did.  50 Westerns is a blog run by a fellow named Toby Roan who is a superfan and probably expert on western films from the fifties. He’s writing a book on one of my favorite westerns “One Eyed Jacks,” starring and directed by Marlon Brando. His blog is loaded with stories and pictures from some of the great westerns made between 1950-60. If you’re a fan of that period of western film making you have to check it out.

laredoAnd now I can finally report that someone there did know the movie with the bloody rake. At long last The Hunt is over. Drum roll, please. And so without further ado:  The name of the film is “Streets of Laredo” (1949) with William Holden and MacDonald Carey. It’s a remake of “The Texas Rangers” (1936) with Fred MacMurray. It’s a rarely-seen movie that doesn’t seem to show up on TV very often. IMDb doesn’t even have a poster or picture for it. But a DVD is available through some of the more off-beat channels of distribution.

Now I can rest easy. I used to feel like the man with the long beard who was asked if he slept with his beard inside or outside the covers and after that could never sleep again trying to figure out which way his beard went. Now I can get a good night’s sleep. I don’t have to keep thinking about that damned bloody rake.

Although, now, I wonder how long it will take me to track down the DVD?



The Super Moon of August 2014 is one we will not or should not forget anytime soon. A full moon is always a time when emotions run high. Feelings can become chaotic and events around the world become just as chaotic.

It started with the unbelievable horror in Iraq as the ISIS forces continued their genocidal march across the northern half of Iraq. The grizzly horror came into sharp focus this weekend with the plight of thousands of helpless refugees fleeing for their lives, seeking refuge on a barren mountain with no food or water. Just today we saw on CNN the helicopter dropping off food and water and rescuing a handful of refugee from certain death. The children and elderly in a state of shock.

At the same time the government of Iraq is collapsing as the ineffectual prime minister refuses to step down and sent troops out to protect his regime. Instead of fighting the terrorist, he wants to fight anybody in Baghdad who want him to resign.

The US this weekend began bombing ISIS checkpoints and convoys, getting us once again sucked back into that bottomless pit.

In Missouri an unarmed black teen is shot multiple times by the police for apparently no real reason. The black community explodes in rage and begins looting and destroying their own community. Tonight the streets of Ferguson, Mo. are crowded with police and protesters. This follows a death of a black man by choke hold in New York, further enraging the black citizenry, who are seeing themselves as victims of police brutality aimed specifically at them.

Russia continues to make recovery of decaying remains of passengers from Flight 17 difficult, as war continues to wage in the Ukraine.

This doesn’t include the trouble in Syria, and the Ebola plague in Africa.

As if that’s not enough, the world is shocked by the death of comedian Robin Williams. In fact all coverage of the above events have almost been blocked out for the night by the cable news channels to cover the loss of a man who at least made the country laugh, even though he was seriously depressed himself.

Yes, it’s a Super Moon we won’t soon forget. A devil moon. Hang loose, people. Stay calm, if you can. It’s too easy to become part of the chaos. Over and out.





VB951292_DVD_LOC_{b0c94406-4507-e211-a415-020045490004}Just a short note. Check out my review of the Complete Flash Gordon Serials on DVD. It”s my first article for Cinema Retro, a magazine and website devoted to classic and cult films from the 60s and 70s and in this case farther back than that.

Next month I’ll have a special feature article in Cinema Retro’s print magazine. More about that later. I don’t want to spoil the surprise. You can read the Flash Gordon review here.


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