Friday, May 22, 2015

The Hooded Terror Strikes!

You should see this. It is a rare piece of film history. Thought lost for ages, then found in Russia and rescued, restored and translated back to English. It's full of action and suspense. It has an amazing villain- "The Hooded Terror" and the queen of silent serials, Pearl White is the heroine. She was no wilting violet and would have stood her ground just fine in a Mad Max movie! I was startlingly mesmerized upon seeing the first episode. 

The Hooded Terror is really something. A mix of insane and intelligent, brutal and devious. Something akin to Fantomas or The Joker and with a super-strength to wreck havoc on everyone that gets in its way. 

Full disclosure; I donated a little bit of research for this project, but solely out of my pure fascination and admiration of it. And I'm plugging The House of Hate because it's a really top of the line example of what the best of silent serials were all about.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


A couple of years ago I posted about the detective/crime drama NAKED CITY. At the time there were a few "Best of" DVD collections. But now the complete series is out in a boxed set (four seasons on 29 DVDs!).  From the episodes I've sampled so far the image and sound quality is great. amazon has it on sale at $99 which is 44% off retail.

I have nothing to complain about since this is presented in excellent quality and at a decent price. I do wish there had been an effort at some behind the scenes features or a few commentary tracks. Be that at is may, this is an extraordinary chance to get all 138 episodes.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wellman Audiobooks

As of October 22nd 2013 will be releasing two audio adaptations of what looks to be the NightShade Books collections of Wellman stories. Volumes 1 & 2 will be THIRD CRY TO LEGBA AND OTHER INVOCATIONS and THE DEVIL IS NOT MOCKED AND OTHER WARNINGS. The producers seem to promise that all five of the NightShade collections will be adapted. Special thanks to Bill Ekhardt for the heads up!

THIRD CRY TO LEGBA is described thus: "This audiobook collects Wellman’s John Thunstone and Lee Corbet stories, written between 1943 and 1979. These stories combine the mystical and horrific with traditional Southern folk tales and legends. These stories also reveal a post-World War II modernism that make them much more then pulp romanticism. The paranoia and cynicism of modern weird icons, such as The X-files, may well have had their genesis in the pulp musings of Manly Wade Wellman. Indeed the intensely driven, idealistic occult investigator, John Thunstone, could be a pulp/noir stand-in for Fox Mulder. ©2000 Frances Wellman (P)2013 Audible, Inc."

And THE DEVIL IS NOT MOCKED as: "Wellman’s work will be remembered, and should be preserved because it combines the dark gothic tradition of the American pulps with a detailed snapshot of regional history and culture. This mixture is shown through the lens of the American modernist tradition, revealing something that is larger than the sum of its parts. Volume two of a five volume set collecting all of Wellman's Appalachian fantasy stories. ©2001 The Estate of Manly Wade Wellman (P)2013 Audible, Inc."
Also available now are GIANTS FROM ETERNITY in the audio collection A GALAXY TRILOGY Vol 3 and an audiobook adaptation of the single Wellman adaptation to THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Still Valley.
This article is re-posted from

Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Mill at Calder's End

Whether you've been lucky enough to see it in full at festivals or at least the trailer, you may have been drawn to Kevin McTurk's curious puppet show-turned-short film called THE NARRATIVE OF VICTOR KARLOCH.  The imagery is stark and powerful, the atmosphere electric with fear of the unknown. All of the major visuals and characters brought to life via puppets, practical effects and miniature sets.

Karloch was produced by Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams project and the Jim Henson Foundation. The film hit the festival circuit and on special occasions had live performances.

If you have been aching to see this supernatural puppet show but hadn't the chance. Soon you will, and even more, you'll be able to help contribute to the next installment of the "Spirit Cabinet" series, of which Karloch is the first.  McTurk is now raising funds for THE MILL AT CALDER'S END. Another Victornian ghost story cut from the clothe of Poe, Lovecraft, Bava and Hammer films.

Artistic contributors to the project include Hellboy's Mike Mignola and B.P.R.D. and The Marquis Guy Davis. Karloch starred the voices of Elijah Wood and Christopher Lloyd while Calder's Mill stars Barbara Steele and Jason Flemyng.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Mysteries of Myra UPDATE!

Deep contrast and wide spectrum of mid-tones.
A framegrab from the surviving footage

Below this nerd-out rant is the original Pulp Reader post about the silent serial The Mysteries of Myra. It has been considered long lost but The Serial Squadron's Eric Stedman edited together the novelized story and press materials into a book. And a mighty fine book it is too.

Well there is now an update to the status of Myra. On the tail of the announcement that Trail of the Octopus will be out on DVD any time now (exciting news indeed!), it was also announced that some found footage of Myra will be shown at the Serial Squadron's streaming website "Chapters" just in time for Halloween, starting on October 27th.
The "Thought Monster" escapes!
Another frame from the footage.

I was honored to be able to preview the footage and it is pretty outstanding to see. It once again reaffirms (in my opinion at least) that the era of the silent serials was truly the height of the art form. At the time, made more for adults than children, the subject matter was more daring and psychologically intense, with more artful cinematography and story-lines you would find in the best of the thriller pulps. Those stark Noirish tonal ranges and shadows you may associate with the likes of Fritz Lang are common in many of the early silent serials. And speaking of visuals, a lot of this footage seen here is in really great shape, with very sharp image, great contrast and very stable. 

I won't spoil anything that goes on in the footage you will see, but will say that it is more than worth seeing. The only regret is that it leaves me wanting to see the rest of the serial. But it is an amazing and rare opportunity to see what still exist and who knows, as Eric states below, even more footage will hopefully, eventually show up. Many serials have been previously considered lost and have since not only turned up but have been made available to the public.
Entrance to the Lair.
Click on the pic to see more of the crisp detail

ere's what Eric has to say about the footage and what is being done with it:

...there's about a half hour's worth of footage left which I've already put together and restored, including the last reel which is knock-out amazing, and the quality of the transfer is eye-popping, without question the highest quality transfer of any serial I've ever seen, done in new digital HD/Blu-ray quality, with an image size about 8 times larger than regular DVD resolution. One reel is in another archive which we're expecting to get ahold of later on. We may not have it by Halloween but it's not impossible. Anyway what exists has already been put together and is ready to go in case the new reel comes in and has to be added more quickly. We're not going to put it all on DVD at the moment pending decisions as to how to handle possible re-creation of the rest of the serial, which we want to do a good job of if we embark upon such a major project.

It was a thrill to see the footage and I'm inspired to re-read the book in time to catch the official stream release at Halloween time.  The cool thing is that you can too!  And no, I don't work for Eric or the Squadron, but I love to share cool stuff (that's what the blog is all about after all) and this is really cool!
Aleister Crowley  would be proud!
Another frame grab and another amazing scene.

Original Post about the publication of the book:

I love pulps. I also love cliffhanger serials. And maybe more than anything, I love behind the scenes info and history about movie and television production. As my poor suffering wife can attest, my bookshelves are jammed with reference books and guides about pulp characters, old movies, radio dramas and T.V. shows.

Enter Eric Stedman, an entrepreneur who dedicates long hours to the restoration and preservation of many cliffhanger movie serials. At The Serial Squadron you can get a taste of the massive amount of work he has put into the genre through his line of restored movie DVDs along with relevant books and audio.

One of Eric's latest projects (one of many ongoing productions) is the novelization of a lost serial from 1916. THE MYSTERIES OF MYRA is a strange brew of action, intrigue, magic, spiritualism, monsters and zombies. As Eric put it "an X-Files of 1916". Unfortunately quite possibly all prints of MYRA were lost in a warehouse fire. At least at this date it is still considered a lost serial. This is truly unfortunate as from the evidence at hand and eloquently shown in this book, MYRA may be one of the most astoundingly put together serials of the silent and talkie era. From the looks of the stills and behind the scenes photos and info, this was a lavish production with impressive sets and intriguing special effects.

The process of this production was a painstaking one, as Eric explains:
Tracy Burton ... took on the job of interpreting fuzzy microfilm versions of the newspaper serializations of the story -- virtually all of which were incomplete, damaged, or otherwise messed up, which means after her pass through it and interpretations she was able to make, it took two other guys (me and Dr. Daka) hours and hours to fill in the missing words and correct errors. Daka discovered ... that there were about 5 different versions of the text, also, which all appeared in different newspapers, with different illustrations.

Along with reconstructing the various newspaper serializations of the story into a coherent novel, Eric delved deeply into researching the production history of MYRA, which is contained in a lengthy introduction and includes many production photos and biographies of cast and crew.

So here we have it; a novel that any pulp writer would dream to write, which is based on a legendary serial that no longer exists, along with a lot of tasty background info and photos. A perfect storm of entertainment for anyone who is into pulps, serials and movie history bound into one handsome tome.

This is the sales blurb for the book, which concisely explains what it's all about:

BEWARE THE BLACK ORDER! So comes the warning from the spirit of Myra Maynard's father, who reaches out to her from beyond the grave to warn her of danger from the masters of the occult arts that lurk in the shadows and mark her for murder on her eighteenth birthday. Only the world's first psychic detective, Dr. Payson Alden, and his friend Haji the Brahman mystic, can save clairvoyant Myra from the terrors of The Grand Master of the Order, who tries to claim not only her fortune but her life by means of suicide-inducing spells, invasion of her chamber by spirit assassins, and even reanimation of the dead by a fire elemental. Originally a fifteen-episode serial shot in Ithaca, New York (before Hollywood became the center of American movie-making) in 1916, painstakingly reconstructed from the original screenplay, novelization, and existing stills. Includes background information, behind-the-scenes photos and cast biographies.

At $25 it is well worth the price of admission and I urge you to head over to the Serial Squadron and pick up a copy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Jonny Quest: The Stop Motion Episode

In my humble opinion, the absolute pinnacle of pulp adventure translated to a visual medium was the 1964 cartoon Jonny Quest. There's been nothing like it before and nothing that has measured up to it since.

Also, as a kid who grew up fascinated by the wonders of Willis O'Brien's King Kong, the works of Ray Harryhausen and the stop motion animated dinosaurs of Land of the Lost, I've had a life long passion for animation and especially stop motion.

Now the two have come together.  Roger Evans, who did the scene by scene recreation of the Jonny Quest intro which went viral last year, has put some thought behind "converting" an entire episode. I think that would be fantastic! The thing is, is that he'll need some help as it will be a full time job to pull it off. This is something that I think is truly worthy of any pulp adventure fan's efforts.
 Take a look at this behind the scenes diary of everything that went into making the opening credits happen. I tell ya it is a LOT of work!  If you click on a picture, it will open to a page showing a whole in depth look at the process of how that scene was constructed.

Please check out his kickstarter campaign and help out if at all possible! Unfortunately I had not heard about this earlier as this campaign seems to have gone much less viral than the original opening credits film did. There are only 8 days left as of today September 18, 2012.

Saturday, September 08, 2012


While perusing Steven Reid Harbin's Facebook group "Pulp Magazine Authors and Literature Fans", one Patricia Boeckman posted about her husband's (Charles Boeckman AKA Charles Beckman Jr) now available collection of past pulp stories; SUSPENSE, SUSPICION & SHOCKERS.  I asked if she wouldn't mind posting more info about Charles' work and Mr. Boeckman himself generously gave us some biographical history:

Boeckman shared ink with other pulp
legends such as Mickey Spillane and
William Irish (AKA Cornell Woolrich)
I sold my first pulp suspense story in 1945 to Mike Tilden the editor of Detective Tales. Once I broke into the pulps, I had a steady stream of short stories and novelettes published by Popular Publications both suspense stories and Westerns and other publishers such as "Pursuit, Malcolms, Manhunt, Alfred Hitchcock, Publishers paid one cent a word for stories in those days. One could make a good living if he or she could turn out a lot of stories. I wrote all of my stories first draft (as did other pulp writers I knew). I could write a 5,000 word story in a day. (One day I wrote a 9,000 word novelette in a working day.(no time for much revising.) We used mechanical typewriters. The Royal portable was the choice of many of the writers I knew.

I grew up in Texas so knew a lot about rattle snakes so I used that for a basis of my first story, STRICTLY POISON. Once I was making a living from full time writing I visited many of the big cities, San Francisco, New Orleans and New York. My favorite was Manhattan where I had leased a small apartment a block from Central Park west. New York was the center of the publishing business so I became friends with many of the best known editors of the pulps. I also got to know the top writers in the field, such as Day Keene (he was on the cover of almost every pulp story magazine) Talmage Powell, Gil Brewer, Harry Whittington, and others.

If you haven't read Boeckman
before and are eager to start
one of his stories is on amazon
as book and audiobook
In the 1920's,30s, and 40s a large segment of the population got their entertainment from radio and magazine stories. Every month the magazine stands were filled with fiction stories-- suspense, murder, action, love and science fiction stories and others. The pulp stories (so called because of the cheap pulp paper on which they were published) sold for ten or fifteen cents and had ten or fifteen stories. I started reading the pulps when I was ten years old. I grew up in the Great Depression. We had enough to eat but not any left over for music lessons. I taught myself to play clarinet and saxophone listening to phonograph records. When I left home I had $30 in my pocket, a used portable typewriter and some musical instruments from a pawn shop. I'd always liked the seashore so I took a bus to Corpus Christi, Texas. The next day I had a part time day job and a week-end job playing music. Those were the days of the big band era: Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw, Duke Ellington, Pete Fountain, Fatha Hines, Satchmo Armstrong. I later wrote a book on the history of jazz, Cool. Hot and Blue. I have a copy that was autographed by all of the above.
One of the first pulps Beckman appeared in.
My writing and music gave me an exciting life and the freedom to travel. I married a beautiful and talented young lady, Patti Kennelly who also had talent as a writer. We collaborated on 26 love stories for Silhouette and Harlequin that sold world wide over two million copies. I'm now 91 looking back over a creative and exciting life. Patti has encouraged me to make a collection of my short stories going back to my first pulp sale in 1945. The collection will be published soon.

Charles at his website had this to say about one of the stories in the upcoming collection:

This excerpt is from a story entitled, “Eddie Builds His Mouse Trap,” from my anthology of short stories that I wrote beginning in 1945.  The style of some of the stories in the collection is crisp, biting, and and punchy. Short sentences. Quick observations. Brief descriptions. Some are more in the Alfred Hitchcock style, with longer sentences and psychological twists and turns.

It was ironic. All the beautiful dolls Eddie Price had on his string, and a plain little mouse like Ginny Potucek finally hashes him up.

The morning he was going to kill her, she came out of the kitchen, her face flushed and damp from the heat of the stove. She was untying her apron. “Eddie, we’re out of bread. I’ll have to run down to the grocery store.”

“Oh?” Eddie said. Not that he was really surprised, having just tossed their last loaf out in the alley.

collection of 24 short stories by Charles
Boeckman and is now available at

He stood in front of the dresser mirror, whistling, buttoning up a clean white shirt. It was easy to see why the dames fell all over Eddie Price. He was six feet of man, adequately spread out around the shoulders and chest. He had lazy, grey eyes that would drift over a girl, caressing her, sending shivers up her spine, and a shy, little-boy grin that twisted her heart. After that, she’d be a fit subject for Freud if she didn’t run her fingers through his thick black hair and whisper in his ear.

But he wasn’t thinking about dames at the moment. His fingers were all thumbs, knotting his tie, and there was a sick pit of nausea in his stomach. In a few min­utes he was going to kill his bride of two months, Ginny, in a very messy way. He wasn’t too enthusiastic about it.

You can read more about Patricia, Charles and more excepts from the new book at