Lights, Camera, Game Over!: How Video Game Movies Get Made

As revenue generated from video games rivaled — and eventually eclipsed — that of motion pictures, Hollywood executives have been eager to reclaim some of those plunked quarters by adapting arcade and console favorites into movies. It wasn’t always the more-regular occurrence it is today, and the results have been messier more often than not, and both those points make Luke Owen’s book on the subject a fairly fascinating chronicle of coin-op/cinematic synergy.

In Schiffer Publishing’s Lights, Camera, Game Over!: How Video Game Movies Get Made, the British-based Owen offers detailed production histories of 11 key adaptations — well, okay, 10 adaptations, plus Adam Sandler’s two-bit flop on 8-bit nostalgia, 2015’s Pixels.

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Hook Jaw: Volume 1

Don’t know if you got the memo, but sharks are the new zombies. This summer alone, 47 METERS DOWN made a box-office killing; Syfy unleashed a fifth SHARKNADO movie; and, as with every year before this one, my co-workers would not STFU about Discovery’s “Shark Week” programming. More appropriate to this website, Chris Jameson took up the Peter Benchley torch with the paperback thriller SHARK ISLAND, and now, Titan Comics gives us HOOK JAW: VOLUME 1.

No time like the present to resurrect it. Yes, it’s a revival — or “reboot,” as the cool kids say — of 1970s British comic-magazine ACTION’s controversial finned star, who only existed to make bank off Steven Spielberg’s monster hit JAWS.

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The Rat Catchers’ Olympics

I generally love Colin Cotterill and his various mystery series set in Southeast Asia. Both his Jimm Juree and Dr. Siri Paiboun series are delightfully funny, and rather strongly plotted. The Paiboun series extends into the world of the supernatural but it’s on a more spiritual, and less haunting, level. For instance, the good Doctor often physically disappears from Earth, visiting some ethereal otherworldly realm where he is guided (or, if the Doctor were to be consulted, obstructed) by the enigmatic Auntie Bpoo, who torments Siri with her mischievous antics and confusing advice.

THE RAT CATCHERS’ OLYMPICS is the 12th installment in the Dr. Siri Paiboun series and it has a fascinating setting: the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

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Sacculina / Behold the Void

I tend to befriend lots of writers. It’s the nature of the business. We do it to network, but we also do it because we generally have a lot in common, which is:

All writers share a love for the written word.

One of the perks of being friends with lots of writers is that you discover other writers the general public hasn’t heard about. We tend to talk about someone new we’ve discovered, one of those “overnight sensations” (who’s been toiling at it for years, but it seems like they exploded onto the literary scene overnight because…well, just because it appears that way).

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Girl in a Big Brass Bed / The Spy Who Was 3 Feet Tall / Code Name Gadget

Along with his several noir mysteries and Daniel Port crime fiction series, Peter Rabe wrote a three-novel series in the mid-1960s featuring attorney Manny deWitt. These three novels — GIRL IN A BRASS BED, THE SPY WHO WAS 3 FEET TALL and CODE NAME GADGET — are now available in an omnibus volume from Stark House Press’s Noir Classics.

The deWitt series comes as close to the popular spy fiction of the time as Rabe ever got. But in typical Rabe fashion, the deWitt novels are decidedly different from other works of spy or espionage fiction. And while they are not among Rabe’s best works, they will be of particular interest to Rabe’s many devoted readers.

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The Smack

This latest crime novel by Richard Lange, the highly praised author of two previous novels and two short story collections, is a rare combination of realism and inventiveness. We find this in both the portrayals of the protagonists as well as the urban locations. It adds up to make THE SMACK Lange’s most accomplished novel to date.

Rowan Petty has been a con man all his life. But when a streak of bad luck hits, Petty finds himself stuck in Reno, living in cheap hotels and working phone scams for a man he trained years ago. He tries to increase his meager earnings at the local casino poker tables. One afternoon, on his way back from a casino, Petty meets a sweet-talking prostitute who calls herself Tinafey (“Like that white lady on TV, but all one word.”) and they become friends.

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The Last Notch

THE LAST NOTCH was originally published in in the late 1950s under the name Matthew Gant, one of Arnold Hano’s several pen names. This new edition from Black Gat Books, the mass paperback division of Stark House Press, is the first publication using Hano’s real name. More importantly it is a superb example of how the characteristics of noir – usually associated with crime fiction and mysteries – can be used in a Western novel.

Ben Slattery is well known as a hired gun. But after so many years, and so many killings, he’s grown tired of it all. Then a man named Fallon approaches Slattery with a job that pays more money than he’s ever earned before. Slattery accepts the job, and sees it as his last – the last notch on his gun before he puts it away and retires for good.

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EURO COMICS ROUNDUP >> Weapons of Choice

With Luc Besson’s VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS still making headlines, there’s no better time to catch up with the latest volumes in the series. We’ve covered every volume here, in fact my first review for Bookgasm was the first Cinebook release of the series, back in 2010. Love or hate the film, the comics are glorious, arguably the greatest science fiction series ever published. And even if you don’t agree with my opinion, you’d have difficulty arguing against it considering the influence the series has had over popular culture, which goes, far beyond the comics pages. 

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The Late Show

Michael Connelly could simply continue rotating novels between his two popular series – Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer – and remain one of the most popular authors working today. But instead Connelly chose to introduce a new character in THE LATE SHOW, his latest novel. And if this debut is any indication, Detective Renee Ballard can easily became the third major player in Connelly’s arsenal.

Renee Ballard, a former crime journalist, joined the LAPD several years ago and quickly rose to the rank of police detective. Then she filed a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor. But when her fellow officers failed to support her complaint Ballard was demoted to working the midnight shift in Hollywood – known internally as “The Late Show.”

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