Halloween: Nightdance

Until the producers of the HALLOWEEN franchise can learn how to crank one out every October without fail like those SAW peeps, we’ll have to make do with the original HALLOWEEN comics from Devil’s Due Publishing. And since you know “until” equates to “never,” you have no other choice for a new Michael Myers fix.

HALLOWEEN: NIGHTDANCE is the first trade paperback of an ongoing series of new graphic novels for Haddonfield’s least favorite son. It’s a four-chapter look at what happens when Michael discovers Lisa, a girl who looks remarkably like his own sister Judith, whom he killed all those years ago. We know for Lisa, this can’t be good.

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Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash

When the FREDDY VS. JASON movie became such a huge hit, a sequel was inevitable, and one idea floated would pit those two titans of terror against Ash, the hero of the EVIL DEAD trilogy, as played by Bruce Campbell. The idea eventually stalled, but Jeff Katz’s story for it wasn’t for naught — WildStorm and Dynamite Entertainment joined forces to turn it into a six-issue comic miniseries: FREDDY VS. JASON VS. ASH.

Perhaps it’s for the best the concept was shelved, because if the movie would’ve resembled this book, it would’ve been a disappointment. Too bad, because it starts out strong, if implausible, with the two surviving FvJ characters returning to Crystal Lake “just to see” if the boogeymen are truly dead. Bad idea, kids! Because, of course, they’re not. The kids, however, soon are.

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Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th

Let it be said that anyone who considers himself a fan of the FRIDAY THE 13TH film franchise absolutely must own Peter M. Bracke’s CRYSTAL LAKE MEMORIES: THE COMPLETE HISTORY OF FRIDAY THE 13TH. Hey, even if you’re a Jason Voorhees nut who can’t read, at least you can admire the big, shiny pictures.

Although I had seen about half of the FRIDAY flicks here and there, in no particular order, I never really gained any sort of appreciation for them until I watched the first eight back to back in the FROM CRYSTAL LAKE TO MANHATTAN box set, with the separate JASON GOES TO HELL, JASON X and FREDDY VS. JASON to follow. By then, I was mildly obsessed with the slasher series, fatal flaws and all.

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SEARCH ME >> 10.08

A sampling of some of the bizarro search terms with (thankfully) low numbers that brought people to BOOKGASM over the last 30ish days:

• what’s in tracy’s knickers
• don draper bunions
• oh brother where are though book
• attack of the jew claw
• monkey penis

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The New Annotated Dracula

Just wondering: How many editions of Bram Stoker’s DRACULA do you already own? At least two or three, I’m betting … maybe even one you’ve completely forgotten about. Thanks to the story being in the public domain, publishers never stop slapping a new cover on the classic 1897 tale to wring a few more dollars out of it.

But Leslie S. Klinger’s THE NEW ANNOTATED DRACULA is something rather special: probably the Drac edition you’ll cherish most. What the editor has done here is no surprise to anyone who marveled over his recent ANNOTATED SHERLOCK HOLMES volumes, because he does the same thing: crafted a definitive work.

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Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide

For those who seek out movies with brains — and by that, I mean literal gray matter, not intelligence — chew on Glenn Kay’s ZOMBIE MOVIES: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE. It’s what’s for dinner!

As someone who very much misses the genre-themed VIDEOHOUND guide books from a decade ago, Kay’s book goes a long way toward filling that void, providing the single most comprehensive book on undead flicks I’ve ever run across. It’s knowledgeable enough to get by with its ULTIMATE subtitle, yet not so fanboyish that it will put off more casual readers.

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There’s little not to dig about a grade-school vampire named Paifu who turns into a “were-koala” whenever he sees a cross for more than three seconds. Therefore, there’s little not to dig about COWA!, the SHONEN JUMP manga in which he stars, by DRAGON BALL Z creator Akira Toriyama. Why’s it called COWA!? Don’t know, but manga’s really not a medium for dissecting logic, now, is it?

Paifu’s best friend is José Rodriguez, a ghost who looks more like a combination of a sperm and a Teletubby. They’re your typical school-hating, mischief-making kids, albeit in a town full of monsters, where their classmates include a mummy and a mean, fish-like boy named Arpon.

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QUICKGASM >> 10.30.08

quickgasmBecause time isn’t always kind: economic reviews in a world full of waste!

Now you can appreciate Gothic art in your own home without having to be a Marilyn Manson fan or a cutter, thanks to Jasmin Becket-Griffith’s GOTHIC ART NOW. An unlikely coffee-table book, it collects the best paintings, sculptures, photographs and other illustrations from a misunderstood and marginalized genre. Remove all preconceived notions and stereotypes (like my opening sentence) and you’re left with some stunning work that has the power to disturb and delight. My favorites include the cutie-pie drawings of Tara McPherson, the ALIEN creations of H.R. Giger and Anne Yvonne Gilbert’s pen-and-ink take on FRANKENSTEIN. This isn’t just the stuff of Ministry album covers and Tim Burton’s family albums, but art — yes, art — deserving of more respect.

I don’t know whether it was intentional, but Chris Morrow’s WHEN DARKNESS FALLS reads like his tribute to 1980s horror films. Just look at the list of ingredients: campers, topless sorority girls, bikers, hitchhikers, bikini models and Something in the Woods. They all collide in a brief tale of blood, boobs and all things bitchin’ in this e-book, which, at less than 40 pages, is really just a short story than even a novella. It could use some stronger for-errors editing, but is obviously a quick read that knows what to do with its elements enough to deliver a dose of trashy, flick-ready fun. And for a mere $1.79, you cannot lose.

GARFIELD MINUS GARFIELD makes Jim Davis’ ridiculously popular comic strip something it hasn’t been for me since I was in grade school: funny, and something I’d want to read. Spurred by Dan Walsh’s meta “Internet sensation,” this slim book reprints roughly 100 Garfield strips, only without the lasagna-loving fat cat. That leaves human Jon to his own lonely existence, talking to himself and generally appearing like an excellent test case for a daily Prozac/Xanax cocktail. You can compare each to the original, which shows how removing one cloying character — the strip’s very being — results in unintentional brilliance.

About the only readers who’ll be perplexed by Maxwell Eaton III’s THE ADVENTURES OF MAX AND PINKY: THE MYSTERY will be its core target of 4-to-8-year-olds. But a whodunit is not really the point. This simple story — part children’s book, part comic book — entails a barn that gets repainted in the dead of night, so Max — who looks like the love child of Charlie Brown and Ziggy — and his pet pig Pinky set out to uncover the culprit. This results in amusing bits of questioning perps (poor, innocent groundhog) and a farm-animal lineup — unconventional for this type of title. Cute, and not the least bit nauseating. —Rod Lott

Buy them at Amazon.

Crimewave Ten: Now You See Me

Publications like CRIMEWAVE TEN: NOW YOU SEE ME make me want to move to England. From British indie publisher TTA Press, this quasi-magazine/book is filled with top-notch short fiction. As if the title didn’t tell you, the name of CRIMEWAVE’s game is crime — the dark, dingy, grimy and grungy kind. The proof begins on page 3 with the first story, “2PM: The Real Estate Agent Arrives,” in which Steve Rasnic Tem manages to provide a real bone chill in a mere 55 words.

Joel Lane makes quite the impression with “Even the Pawn,” covering the investigation of the death of a prostitute found dumped in the trash of a Chinese restaurant. The trail leads to a sleazy world of “massage parlors,” pornographic filmmakers, alcoholics and one startling, didn’t-see-that-coming twist.

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BULLETS, BROADS, BLACKMAIL & BOMBS >> Halloween Decorations

bullets broads blackmail and bombsI’m talking those cardboard creations of bright-orange pumpkins and skeletons with the arms that can move. Or how about a witch flying on a broom across the moon, hanging on your front door? It’s that time of year when candy corn is being sold by the truckloads, and pumpkins are plentiful. Changing things up from the previous Halloween columns, I’m tackling three books with icons of Halloween in the titles. Can’t promise anything spooky, though.

BATS FLY AT DUSK by Erle Stanley Gardner — This is not your typical Cool & Lam mystery, since Donald Lam is nowhere to be found. We’re told he signed up for the Navy, which is fitting since this book was written in 1942. He makes somewhat of an appearance through a few telegrams, but that’s all. This one is all about Bertha Cool taking center stage.

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