Category: Books

RIP: Peter Mark Richman

Peter Mark Richman died yesterday at the age of 93 from natural causes.  Richman was an accomplished actor who appeared in feature films, television and on Broadway, an author who wrote plays, short stories and novels, and an artist.  Talk about being a Renaissance Man.

I’d be willing to bet that you’ve seen Peter Mark Richman perform, even if you don’t recognize his name.  Richman has 159 credits on his IMDb resume.  I remember him best from the classic Twilight Zone episode The Fear, but that was one of well over 100 appearances Peter Mark Richman made on television.  In addition to Cain’s Hundred (which he starred in), you could see Richmond regularly show up on tv shows starting in the 1960s through the 1990s.  He had reoccurring roles on Longstreet, Three’s Company, Dynasty, Beverly Hills 90210, and guest appearances on just about every other major television show.  

 Richman’s features films include The Strange One, Black Orchid, Naked Gun 2 and Friday the 13th, Part 8, and Vic (a short film co-written and directed by Sage Stallone).  Starting the in the 1990s, Richman began doing voice work for Batman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series.  

Mr. Richman appeared on Broadway, had several of his one-act plays, novels and short stories published.  He also had 17 one-man exhibitions of his paintings.  

Peter Mark Richman was married to his wife, Helen for 67 and they have five children.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to Peter Mark Richman’s family, friends and fans.  What an amazing creative life he led.

TWO IN THE HEAD by Eric Beetner is Coming Soon!

Eric Beetner’s new book, Two in the Head, drops in less than a week.  Here’s the synopsis…

When Samantha awakes she is half buried in bricks and the smoke still swirls in the air. The car bomb didn’t killed her-small miracle. Her unfocused eyes see a figure coming nearer. A shape she recognizes somehow. As the person passes by the orange glow from the car fire’s light, she sees the face. Her face. But how?
The other Samantha stands over her and regards her twin. Something is off about this new face. It is her, sure, but harder somehow. The new Sam turns and walks away, back toward the building she came out of before her car exploded. Back to see the two drug kingpins in the top floor offices. And somehow Samantha knows-back to take the deal she just turned down.

Samantha Whelan is a DEA agent, and not always a straight and narrow one. She’s been taking bribes and doing favors for Calder and Rizzo-twin brothers and big players in narco traffic in southern California-for years. She turned down a deal that night, a deal to make her millions, but it meant killing her fiancé, an assistant district attorney building a case against Calder and Rizzo. And it meant betraying her DEA brethren more deeply than she had so far. It was too much. So Calder and Rizzo tried to blow her up.

What happened then…she split. Samantha became Samantha and Sam. Two halves of the same person. The good side and the bad side. The two opposing forces living within her for so long were now free to fight it out to see who will win control.

So begins a nightmarish rocket ride for Samantha to save her life and the lives of everyone she holds dear before Sam, her bad half, can burn it to the ground.

Praise for TWO IN THE HEAD:

“Two In the Head is a straight shot between the eyes. A gangbusters plot, punch-drunk pace, and gut-punch action propel this black hearted thriller from Eric Beetner.” -J. Todd Scott, author of The Far Empty and Lost River

Regular readers know that Eric Beetner is one of my must-read authors.  If Beetner isn’t for you,  you probably haven’t tried one of his tales.  Perhaps Two in the Head would be a good place to start.

Craig’s Best of 2020: Novels, Movies and Blog Posts

End of the Year lists are fun and so I decided to compile a few of my own. I hope you enjoy them.

Movies

In 2020, I watched 453 movies. Most were streamed. I usually see a little over 200 movies per year so retirement and the pandemic helped increase my viewing. My favorite films released in 2020 included:

  • Arkansas: An under-rated, quirky crime drama.
  • Dracula: Technically a 3 part mini-series, but the first two episodes were near perfect and the third didn’t ruin the experience (but did fall off quite a bit).
  • Extraction: A surprisingly well done action film that had heart.
  • Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom: My favorite film of the year – the screenplay, acting and direction were top shelf. Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom deserves a boatload of Oscars.Who’d have thought that two of my favorite films would star the Hemsworth brothers?

Books

In 2020, I read 34 books. I usually read about 20 – 24 per year so retirement and the pandemic also worked to increase my novel consumption. My favorites from this year included:

My Most Popular Posts of the Year

I always find some surprises in the most popular posts from the year. Here are the top ten for 2020 and some thoughts for each…

10. David Fincher’s “Mank” – The Poster and Trailer are Here! Fincher is always a fan favorite, and Mank’s poster and trailer were no exception.

09. Facts About Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”. The popularity of this post surprises me since it deals with a short story, but horror is always a favorite subject with many of our readers.

08. Peter Stults’ “28 Days Later” Starring Richard Burton. I love that this remains a top post. Stults’ alternative movie posters are a blast. He chooses great stars to recast in cool movies.

07. Jack Benny in “Casablanca”. This one makes me smile. I love that it made the top ten.

06. Sly Stallone Starring in “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” Video! Sly Stallone makes the list!

05. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! I told you horror posts are popular.

04. Dracula Through the Ages. I wasn’t kidding. Horror posts are popular.

03. Jackie Daytona Commercial for “Lucky Brews Bar and Grill”! The popularity of this post surprised me. Sure, it has the horror connection, but mixed in is a great amount of humor. Add to that it is for an under-rated horror/comedy (that I hope you are watching) and we get our third most popular post of the year!

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer. Any post about the Zodiac Killer always get a lot of views. This one has even racked up the most comments. 

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. This posts gets more hits than any other post on the site. It’s not horror, it’s not about a real life killer or Sly Stallone, but it is our #1 post again this year.

My All-Time Most Popular Posts

I thought it might be fun to close out with a look at our all-time most popular posts. Did any or most of 2020’s greatest hits make the all-time list? Let’s see…

10. The Life and Times of Deputy U.S. Marshall Bass Reeves. I’m glad that this post remains popular. Our post about Marshall Bass Reeves (a true life hero) went up years before a comic series and movie about him were made. Don’t you love it when we’re ahead of the curve?

09. Gadot & The Rock Strike a Pose. Of course two of the most popular movie stars in the world together in a candid would make our most popular list.

08. TOP 10 MOST ICONIC HORROR MOVIE VILLAINS! Our #5 most popular post for 2020 is our all-time #8 most popular post… and of course it’s horror.

07. Real Clown Or Horror-Movie Clown? This is creepy. Normally I don’t have a problem with clowns, but some of those real clowns were downright scary.

06. Joel Osteen in Jacksonville This has been popular one since it first appeared.

05. Steve Reeves as Superman Of course Steve Reeves never got the chance to play the Man of Steel, but if he had, he would have made a good one.

04. New Billy the Kid Photo Discovered This posts hits on crime and history with the chance of a new discovery. That’s a great combination of topics and popular with a lot of folks.

03. Zodiac Killer Code Cracked? Again we have crime, history, a new discovery and I would even argue horror to make for a popular post.

02. Louis Meyers: Evidence He Was the Zodiac Killer This was not only our #2 all-time favorite, but also the #2 favorite for 2020. And it generated quite a few comments and e-mails.

01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”.01. Schwarzenegger in “King Lear” & Robin Williams in “Jack and the Beanstalk”. The #1 post for 2020 is also our #1 all-time favorite. 

It’s always interesting to see which topics resonate with fans and continue to be popular longer after the initial post.  I wonder how many of our all-time favorites will make the list in 2021?  Time will tell… and so will I…. next year!  

“I, the Jury” – Drew Struzan and Armand Assante

The poster above for I, the Jury is my favorite Drew Struzan poster.  That shows how much I love that print since Struzan also did amazing posters for First Blood, the Indiana Jones films, the Back to the Future series, the Star Wars films… well, you get the idea.

I guess it’s fitting that Struzan’s I, the Jury poster isn’t as highly rated with fans, since the movie is also underrated.  I thought Armand Assante was excellent as Spillane’s Mike Hammer.  Barbara Carrera fit the bill as the sexy fem fatale. Laurene Landon was surprisingly good as Velda.  Geoffrey Lewis and Paul Sorvino are welcome additions to any film.  Perhaps I, the Jury under-performed because Mike Hammer was updated to current times rather than the 1947 period in which it was written.  Larry Cohen the screenwriter, was also set t0 direct, but was let go after just one week of filming.  Reportedly he fell behind a day of shooting and went over budget by $100,000.00 in that first week.  

Initially planned as a trilogy, Cohen was unable to get the other two films made.  Which is a shame.  At least we will always have one good film with Assante as Mike Hammer… and the very cool Drew Struzan  I, the Jury poster.

Happy New Year and a Look Back at 2020!

2021 is almost here.  2020 has been quite a year… and not all in a good way.  I thought before I wish you a Happy New Year (and go in to watch the official dropping of the ball to signify 2021 is indeed here) I’d take a brief look back at 2020.

When the 202o started, I was excited.  I was scheduled to retire after nearly 36 years as an educator.  I had a great career as a teacher, Assistant Principal and Principal.  I served as a soccer, football and basketball coach.  I was fortunate to work at the elementary, middle and high school levels.  I worked as an administrator on the construction of two new schools (the AP of one and the Principal of the other).  I had decided that my last day with students at the end of the 2020 school year would be my last day of work.  I thought it would be cool to have my last day with students be my last working day.  Unfortunately that was not to be.

Because of the COVID pandemic we went to virtual school after Spring Break.  Students and teachers worked from home for the remainder of the school year.  My AP and I continued to work from school and home (splitting the week so one of us was always at school).  I retired at the end of May.  My wife and I had talked of having a big retirement party (she had retired in December).  We would invite family and friends for an evening of fun.  Thanks to COVID, that idea was shelved.

My plan after retirement was to travel with my wife (short trips around the country).  I also planned to attend several comic conventions with my best bud, John Beatty.  Yep, The pandemic put an end to both.

Since the start of the pandemic my wife and I have stayed at home except for take out meals when not eating at home and our only travelling was the two miles to my oldest son’s house to visit him, his wife and our grandson.  Since the pandemic started I’ve known more than a few people who contacted the disease.  Some had to be hospitalized and two died.  I’ll be so glad to get the vaccine and for things to get back to “normal”.

Being home so much gave me the opportunity to watch a lot of movies.  I normally see about 200 a year (mostly streaming).  This year I saw 453.  Yep, over two times as many.  I also read more novels.  I usually average about 20 – 25 a year.  This year I read 34.  I would have saw more movies and read more books except I was laid up with my medical emergency in September/October.

As you’re probably aware, I had to go to the emergency room in September.  Ultimately, I had surgery and they discovered my gallbladder had ruptured and gangrene set in.  I was in the hospital for six days and the doc said had they not operated when they did I probably would have died.  Talk about an eye-opener!

As we head in to 2021, I look forward to getting the COVID vaccine.  I probably won’t be able to get mine until the 3rd or 4th wave.  I’ll be thankful whenever it becomes available.  I hope things will begin to return to normal in the summer.  Maybe my wife and I will be able to do a few trips.  Who knows, maybe John and I will have a convention or two to attend.

The StalloneZone turns 25 in 2021!  Hard to believe.  I plan to do more with the site and work on ways to interact with fans more.  I also hope to start doing video reviews on this site, as well as livestream sessions with creators and fans (here and at the SZ).  We have an active forum and I’d love to interact on livestream with those folks and others — we could have some lively discussions!

I hope that 2020 has had some highlights for each of you.  I want to thank you for visiting my site (and the StalloneZone) and appreciate the e-mail and comments you leave me.

Enough rambling.  Time to get ready for the ball drop.  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

“The Capote Tapes” Poster and Trailer

I’m not a fan of the poster but I do like the trailer for The Capote Tapes.

Truman Capote became famous for his writing with Breakfast at Tiffany’s and In Cold Blood.  The fact that they were turned into very well received movies added to his fame.  Breakfast at Tiffany’s was nominated for 5 Oscars and won two.  In Cold Blood was nominated for four Oscars.

Although Capote would go on to write other shorts stories, novels and teleplays, he became best known for being famous.  Capote was popular on the talk show circuit.  He was flamboyant and loved telling stories.  I look forward to seeing The Capote Tapes and someday pulling In Cold Blood off my to-be-read bookshelf and reading it.

In the 35 years since his death, Truman Capote has remained a source of curiosity to many. His works, including ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ and ‘In Cold Blood’, have maintained their place in the literary canon of great twentieth century American literature and still appeal to readers across the globe today.

‘Answered Prayers’ was meant to be Truman Capote’s greatest masterpiece, an epic portrait of NYC’s glittering jet-set society. Instead, it sparked his downfall. Through never before heard audio archive and interviews with Capote’s friends and enemies, this intimate documentary reveals the rise and fall of one America’s most iconic writers.
#TheCapoteTapes

“The Heathens” by Ace Atkins is Coming!

It’s been announced that Ace Atkins will have a new Quinn Colson novel coming out on July 13, 2021.  The Heathens will be the 11th novel in the best selling series and I can’t wait.  Here’s the synopsis…

Sheriff Quinn Colson and his former deputy Lillie Virgil find themselves on opposite sides of a case for the first time after a man is found dead and three delinquent teens go on the run.

The Byrd clan is one of the wildest families in Tibbehah County. The three kids are the ire of school resource and truant officers–they peddle pot and steal car parts, doing what they can to survive with a mother who sometimes disappears for months on end. But when their mother returns with a new husband, a registered sex offender, a homicide soon follows, and the kids hit the highway.

U.S. Marshal Lillie Virgil is convinced the Byrd kids are guilty of murder, and sets off on a cross-country hunt to track them down and bring them to justice. Back in Tibbehah, Sheriff Quinn Colson isn’t so sure. And as he digs deeper into the case, he comes to think there may be a larger conspiracy at work.

If you’ve missed out (or are interested in getting started) here our the Quinn Colson novels in order of publication.

  1. The Ranger
  2. The Lost Ones
  3. The Broken Places
  4. The Forsaken
  5. The Redeemers
  6. The Innocents
  7. The Fallen
  8. The Sinners
  9. The Shameless
  10. The Revelators

MONSTERS by Barry Windsor Smith is Coming!

The cover above is to Barry Windsor Smith’s Monsters.  As many of our readers know, BWS is considered to be one of the greatest artistic geniuses to have ever worked in comics.  Smith’s last comic work was in 2005 and many thought he had retired.  Little did we know that he had been working on Monsters for 35 years.

35 years in the making, the most anticipated graphic novel in recent comics history! 

The year is 1964. Bobby Bailey doesn’t realize he is about to fulfill his tragic destiny when he walks into a US Army recruitment office to join up. Close-mouthed, damaged, innocent, trying to forget a past and looking for a future, it turns out that Bailey is the perfect candidate for a secret U.S. government experimental program, an unholy continuation of a genetics program that was discovered in Nazi Germany nearly 20 years earlier in the waning days of World War II. Bailey’s only ally and protector, Sergeant McFarland, intervenes, which sets off a chain of cascading events that spin out of everyone’s control. As the titular monsters of the title multiply, becoming real and metaphorical, literal and ironic, the story reaches its emotional and moral reckoning.

Monsters is the legendary project Barry Windsor-Smith has been working on for over 35 years. A 380-page tour de force of visual storytelling, Monsters narrative canvas is both vast and deep: part familial drama, part political thriller, part metaphysical journey, it is an intimate portrait of individuals struggling to reclaim their lives and an epic political odyssey across two generations of American history. Trauma, fate, conscience, and redemption are just a few of the themes that intersect in the most ambitious graphic novel of Windsor-Smith’s career.

Monsters is rendered in Windsor-Smith’s impeccable pen-and-ink technique, the visual storytelling with its sensitivity to gesture and composition is the most sophisticated of the artist’s career. There are passages of heartbreaking tenderness, of excruciating pain, and devastating violence. It is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn.

Black and white illustrations.

Monsters by Barry Windsor Smith will be released on January 19, 2021.  It is available for pre-order now.  Deal me in.

MOON LAKE by Joe R. Lansdale is Coming!

Any time a new Joe Lansdale novel is announced there is reason to celebrate.  So, depending on how you party, get ready!  

Moon Lake by Joe R. Lansdale will premiere on June 22, 2021.  I’m set to jump on board, but if you need a little more info…

Edgar award-winning author Joe Lansdale returns with a standalone novel following the gripping and unexpected tale of the lost town and dark secret that lie beneath the glittering waters of an East Texas lake.

Daniel Russell was only thirteen years old when his father tried to kill them both by driving their car into Moon Lake. Miraculously surviving the crash— and growing into adulthood— Daniel returns to the site of this traumatic incident in the hopes of recovering his father’s car and bones. As he attempts to finally put to rest the memories that have plagued him for years, he discovers something even more shocking among the wreckage that has ties to a twisted web of dark deeds, old grudges, and strange murders.  

As Daniel diligently follows where the mysterious trail of vengeance leads, he unveils the heroic revelation at its core.

Pre-orders are available now, if you’re so inclined.

Relentless: A Joe Ledger Novel by Jonathan Maberry is Coming!

Any time Jonathan Maberry has a new book coming out there is reason to celebrate.  When it is a Joe Ledger tale, then it is time to party like you made your inside straight draw.  As you can see from the cover above, Maberry is back with a Joe Ledger yarn called Relentless.

Rogue Team International joins Joe Ledger in a new hunt that spans the globe and journeys deep into the terrifying landscape of the human heart.

JOE LEDGER’s world has been torn apart. The people closest to him have been savagely murdered and Ledger is on the hunt for the killers. His already fragile psyche has cracked apart, allowing a dangerous darkness to overwhelm him.

His hunt takes him deep into the world of the deadly black market weapons sales, and standing in his way are a new generation of private military contractors. These mercenaries have been enhanced with cutting-edge cybernetics and chemical enhancements, transforming them into real-world super soldiers. Stronger, faster, harder to hurt, and fitted with built-in weapons. They are beyond anything Joe has ever faced.

But he is not the Joe Ledger they expected to fight. He is defined by the Darkness now. The attempt to destroy him―to break him―has backfired. Instead his enemies have turned him into a far more fearsome weapon.

Relentless drops July 13, 2021, but is available for pre-order now!  I’m in.

FRIEND OF THE DEVIL by Brubaker & Phillips – Now Available for Pre-Order!

Two days ago I shared the cover above for Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ next Reckless graphic novel: Friend of the Devil.  It wasn’t available for pre-order, but I said I’d keep you posted.

It’s now available for pre-order and below is the synopsis…

The next book in the red-hot Reckless series is here!

Bestselling crime noir masters Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are back with another new original graphic novel featuring troublemaker-for-hire Ethan Reckless.

It’s 1985 and things in Ethan’s life are going pretty well… until a missing woman shows up in the background of an old B-movie, and Ethan is drawn into Hollywood’s secret occult underbelly as he hunts for her among the wreckage of the wild days of the ’70s.

“No one does crime fic like Brubaker and Phillips, and their collaboration has never felt more new. Explosive. Vital. And yes… reckless.” – Damon Lindelof (LOST, HBO’s WATCHMEN)

Another hit graphic novel from the award-winning creators of PULP, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES, CRIMINAL, and KILL OR BE KILLED — a must-have for all Brubaker and Phillips fans!

And look for the next standalone book in the Reckless series in October!

As you can imagine. I’m in.

Sly Scouting Locations for His Next Movie?

There is speculation at JoBlo.com that…

Sly (Stallone) himself may be about to make another action movie with frequent purveyors of gunplay and heist flicks Randall Emmet and George Furla. According to a new Instagram pic posted by Emmet himself, the producer and his partner are currently scouting locations for an unnamed movie. Joining them is none other than Sylvester Stallone.

ANY movie added to Sly’s schedule is ALWAYS welcome.  Fingers crossed it is for Hunter based on the James Byron Huggins’ novel of the same name written for Sly!