Author: Craig Zablo

HELL OF A MESS by Nick Kolakowski is Coming Soon!

Nick Kolakowski’s Hell of a Mess is dropping soon and the fact that it’s a Love & Bullets Hookup makes my smile even bigger.  Here’s the synopsis…

The heist should have been a simple one: infiltrate the top floor of a luxury New York City penthouse, steal a server with compromising data from under the noses of the unsuspecting guards, and slip back out. Fiona, master thief and occasional assassin, has pulled off similar jobs dozens of times. But with a massive hurricane bearing down on the East Coast, the timing is tight and the escape routes are limited-and that’s before she discovers something horrific in the penthouse’s master bedroom.

Now Fiona’s on the run, trying to stay one step ahead of rising floodwaters and an army of hired assassins. Her husband Bill, the finest hustler between Florida and Maine, can’t help her: he’s been kidnapped by a group of dirty cops who want the secret millions left by his former employer. The night will take the two of them from the heights of money and power in Lower Manhattan to a haunted island in the East River where no secrets stay buried forever.

It’s going to be one hell of a night… and one hell of a mess.

If this sounds like something you’d like, pre-orders are available now.  I’m in.

Hell of a Mess Trade Paperback

Hell of a Mess Kindle

“Better Call Saul” by Nate Gonzales!

Once a week posts Awesome Art We’ve Found Around the Net.  As you can imagine, they post awesome art that they, well, you get the idea.

I always enjoy seeing what JoBlo has found because with each post they list the artist’s name and a link to more of his/her art.  If you check it out you’ll discover amazing artists like Nate Gonzales who did the piece above.

RIP: Gene Lebell

Ivan Gene Lebell, martial artist, actor, stuntman, professional wrestler, and real life tough guy passed away in his sleep on August 9, 2002, at the age of 89.

Gene Lebell began training in wrestling and judo before the age of ten.  After earning his black belt, Mr. Lebell went to Japan to further his training.  When he returned to the US, he competed in the Amateur Athletic Union National Judo Championships, winning the heavyweight title at the age of 22.  In 1963, Mr. Lebell agreed to fight a boxer who claimed he could beat any martial artist.  Gene Lebell choked him out in the fourth round.  Using his martial arts training it was easy for Gene Lebell to transition into professional wrestling where he often was used as an enforcer during big matches.

Gene Lebell’s reputation as a martial artist brought him to the attention of Hollywood where he got work as both a stuntman and actor.  With over 250 stunt credits and over 150 acting credits on his resume, odds are you’ve seen Gene Lebell on television or feature films.

Television appearances include: The Jack Benny Program; The Munsters; Gomer Pyle; The Man from UNCLE; Mission Impossible; The Green Hornet; Batman; The Wild, Wild West; Mannix; The Rockford Files; Kung Fu; Kojak; The Six Million Dollar Man; Starsky & Hutch; Knight Rider; The Fall Guy; Walker, Texas Ranger; Married with Children; The X FIles; More Wild, Wild West and The Shield.

Feature Films include: Blacula; Walking Tall; Earthquake; The Towering Inferno; The Killer Elite; Rocky;  Every Which Way But Loose; The Jerk; Raging Bull; Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid; City Heat; Remo Williams; Rush Hour; Runaway Train; Rocky IV; Die Hard 2; Marked for Death; The Last Boy Scout; Waterworld; Strange Days and Spider-Man 2.

There’s a famous story that when Gene Lebell was working on a Steven Seagall film, the star said that due to his martial arts training, no one could choke him out.  Mr. Lebell took exception to the statement.  Seagall allowed Gene Lebell’s  to place him in a chokehold to prove his point.  Steven Seagall not only lost consciousness but also control of his bowels.  While Steven Seagall denies this ever happened, there are others who claimed to have been there and seen it happen.

Gene LeBell was a man’s man, a 10th degree Black Belt; and appeared in some of my all-time favorite movies and television shows.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

“Dig” Starring Thomas Jane and Emile Hirsch – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

Dig starring Thomas Jane and Emile Hirsch.  Yeah, deal me in.

The house of a widowed father and his daughter who suffers from major hearing loss is up for demolition. After arriving at the construction site they are soon taken hostage by a dangerous couple who will stop at nothing to retrieve what lies beneath the property.

CAST: Thomas Jane, Emile Hirsch, Harlow Jane, Liana Liberato

DIRECTOR: K. Asher Levin

Michael Bublé’s Higher Concert at the Amway Center on August 10, 2022 / Z-View

Last night my wife and I attended Michael Bublé’s concert at the Amway Center in Orlando.  It was the second stop on his Higher tour.  I knew Bublé was an exceptional singer/song writer who specialized not only in classic songs by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, the Bee Gees, and others, but also hits of his own creation.  Last night we got a great mix of both.

Yes, I knew MIchael Bublé could sing, but I didn’t know he was such a great showman.  Bublé was backed by an exceptionally talented big band orchestra and three amazing back-up singers.  Add to this a multi-media show (big screens projecting Bublé, the band/singers, and audience members – as well as video backgrounds), and a large walkway so he could come way out into the audience to perform.  Michael Bublé is at ease on stage whether he’s singing, dancing, telling jokes or a story.  He’s great at getting the audience to sing along and he loves to interact with fans.

I expected a fun night of great songs, but we ended up getting so much more.  If you’re a fan of this genre of music, then Michael Bublé is not to be missed.

Michael Bublé’s Higher concert at the Amway Center on August 10th earned 5 of 5 stars!

“Carter” (2022) / Z-View

Carter (2022)

Director:  Byung-gil Jung

Screenplay by:  Byeong-sik Jung, Byung-gil Jung

Starring:  Joo Won, Kim Bo-Min, Sung-Jae Lee and Mike Colter

Tagline:  No Memory, One Mission

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

A man wakes up in a hotel room with no memory of who he is or how he got there.  A voice in his head tells him his name is Carter, a transmitter only he can hear is in his ear, a bomb has been implanted in his head and his mission is to rescue a young girl whose blood is the key to a cure to a virus quickly spreading around the world.  With that we’re off and running.

Carter is an all out action film with a small mix of sci-fi and a touch of zombies.  The movie takes place in real time and features over the top stunts and seldom slows down.  This is the film’s greatest strength and perhaps biggest weakness.  The fight scenes are so over-the-top we quickly understand that Carter is going to be able to take out dozens of attackers without so much as a scratch.

Normally this would be a turn-off, but the fight scenes take place in unique situations (outside of a building stories above the street, on motorcycles, in three side-by-side vans speeding down crowded streets, falling from an airplane without a parachute while engaging in a gun battle to get a chute, on a train, on a helicopter, from a truck to motorcycles, etc.) that it is easy to suspend disbelief.

I really enjoyed Carter, but was in the right frame of mind for an all out action film.  I hope we get a sequel.

Carter earns 4 of 5 stars.

RIP: Olivia Newton-John

Olivia Newton-John, singer and actress, passed away yesterday after a long battle with cancer.  Ms. Newton-John was 73.

When she was just 14, Olivia Newton-John began singing professionally in small coffee shops.  Not long after she began  appearing on Australian television shows.  In 1965 she won a talent contest and the following year traveled to Great Britain where she recorded her first single, “Till You Say You’ll Be Mine”.  In 1971, Ms. Newton-John’s first solo album, If Not For You was released.  This was the first of 26 albums she would release over the course of her long career.

The mid-70s was a sweet spot for Olivia Newton-John.  She had ten number one singles including:  “I Honestly Love You” (1974); “Have You Never Been Mellow” (1975); “Please Mr. Please” (1975); “Something Better to Do” (1975);  “Let It Shine”/”He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (1976); “Come on Over” (1976) and “Don’t Stop Believin'” (1976) .

In 1978, Ms. Newton-John co-starred with John Travolta in Grease which became the number one movie of the year.  The Grease soundtrack also went to number one and spawned three singles.  In 1980, Olivia Newton-John co-starred in the cult favorite Xanadu with Gene Kelly and Michael Beck.  Ms. Newton-John easily transitioned to making music videos (a relatively new art form at the time) and had one of the most popular with her “Physical” release.  For the rest of her career, Ms. Newton-John easily transitioned from acting to singing as she took on projects that interested her.  She was also an activist who supported environmental and animal causes as well as cancer research.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Olivia Newton-John’s family, friends and fans.

BLOOD and BULLETS by James R. Tuck / Z-View

Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck

Trade Paperback: 258 pages
Publisher:  Falstaff Books

First sentence…

Some nights are just destined to go to hell.

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

Deacon Chalk hunts things that go bump in the night.  Yeah, that’s right.  Monsters.  Chalk didn’t even believe in such things until his wife and daughter were killed by vampires.  Now he’s a monster hunter.

When a young woman tries to hire Chalk to kill someone who calls himself Nyteblade, Chalk gets enough information to warn the wanna-be vampire hunter that he’s been marked for death.  When Chalk shows up for a meeting with “Nyteblade” he finds himself in an ambush.  The most powerful vampire Deacon Chalk has ever heard of plans to make Chalk her slave!

James R. Tuck has created a winner.  Blood and Bullets is the first in the Deacon Chalk series.  I’d never read a Tuck book before, but after reading a few paragraphs of Blood and Bullets, I picked up the Deacon Chalk trilogy. (There are more books coming.)  Tuck’s Deacon Chalk and his supporting cast come across as real people placed in unreal situations.  I had a blast with Blood and Bullets and look forward to more Deacon Chalk adventures.  (Oh, and before I wrap up this review — how about that cool cover by Natania Barron!)

Blood and Bullets rates 4 of 5 stars.

Blood and Bullets Hardback
Blood and Bullets Paperback
Blood and Bullets Kindle

“JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass” (2021) / Z-View

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass (2021)

Director:  Ibrahim Hamdan, Oliver Stone

Starring: John F. Kennedy, Walter Cronkite, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jacqueline Kennedy, Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Gerald Ford, Oliver Stone, Whoopi Goldberg (narration) and Donald Sutherland (narration)

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Ibrahim Hamdan and Oliver Stone look at documents and findings declassified by the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992 that bring into question the finding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  If you’re at all interested in the conspiracy theories behind the assassination of President Kennedy, then JFK Revisited is worth a watch!

JFK Revisited: Through the Looking Glass earns 4 of 5 stars.

RIP: Clu Gulager

Clu Gulager passed away last night from natural causes.  He was 93 years old.

After a two year stint in the US Marine Corp, Mr. Gulager attended Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.  He later transferred to Baylor University where he graduated.

Mr. Gulager’s career began with guest appearance on the television series Omnibus.  He would continue with tv guest appearances until he landed a co-starring role as Billy the Kid in The Tall Man series which ran for 75 episodes.  Mr. Gulager’s first feature film appearance was a co-starring role in The Killers with Lee Marvin.  Mr. Gulager spent the rest of his career alternating between television and feature film roles.

Television appearances included: Wanted Dead or Alive; Have Gun – Will Travel; The Untouchables; Alfred Hitchcock Presents; Wagon Train; The Alfred Hitchcock Hour; Dr. Kildare; The Name of the Game; The F.B.I.; The Glass House (movie); Medical Center; Bonanza; Mannix; The Wonderful World of Disney; Kung Fu; Ironside; McCloud; Cannon; The Streets of San Francisco; Police Story; Hawaii 5-0; Knight Rider; Magnum PI; The Fall Guy; and Walker, Texas Ranger.

Some Clu Gulager’s feature films include: The Killers; The Last Picture Show; McQ; Shaft; Get Christie Love; A Force of One; The Return of the Living Dead; A Nightmare on Elm Street 2; The Hidden; I’m Gonna Git You Sucka; Vic and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.

I am a Clu Gulager fan.  He would pop up in many, many of the television shows I watched as a kid.  Mr. Gulager also co-starred in The Glass House a television movie that was ahead of it’s time for the portrayal of life in a prison.  Clu Gulager also starred in Vic, a short directed by Sage Stallone.  Mr. Gulager continued to appear in television shows and movies throughout his career making everything that he appeared in better.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Clu Gulager’s family, friends and fans.

“Ida Red” (2021) starring Josh Hartnett and Frank Grillo / Z-View

Ida Red (2021)

Director:  John Swab

Screenplay by:  John Swab

Starring:  Josh Hartnett, Frank Grillo, Melissa Leo, Sofia Hublitz, William Forsythe, Deborah Ann Woll, George Carroll, Mark Boone Junior and Nicholas Cirillo

Tagline:  Crime runs in the family

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Ida “Red” Walker (Leo) is the head of her family since her husband was killed in the robbery that put her behind bars.  Red’s two grown sons, Wyatt (Harnett) and Dallas (Grillo) continue to commit crimes under mom’s direction.

When Red learns that she has terminal cancer she makes it her (and her sons’) goal to get her out.  She has a two-pronged plan: 1) Pay off the head of the parole board and 2) commit a dangerous heist that will get them enough money to get the family out of the law’s reach.  Wyatt and Dallas agree to the plan despite the fact that they’re under the watchful eye of FBI Special Agent Lawrence Twilley (Forsythe) and a local cop who has a connection to the family!

Ida Red is a well written, well directed low budget crime film.  It boasts an excellent cast.  Frank Grillo steals every scene (especially memorable is his dance that will bring back memories of Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs).  Sofia Hublitz has a subplot that shows the pull of being in a crime family (and a nice plot twist to boot).  It’s nice seeing William Forsythe back in action and I always enjoy it when Mark Boone Junior shows up.

Ida Red earns 4 of 5 stars.

“Dead Zone” starring Michael Jai White and Jeff Fahey – The Trailer is Here!

Ok, it’s not Stephen King’s Dead Zone, but this Dead Zone does star Michael Jai White and Jeff Fahey.  And it does have soldiers going into a town full of what look like zombies and other creatures.  So, yeah, I’ll check it out.

To stop the collapse of humanity, an elite team of soldiers must descend on a radiation-poisoned town and perform the ultimate stealth mission using high-tech armor and weapons.

CAST: Michael Jai White, Chad Michael Collins, Jeff Fahey

DIRECTOR: Hank Braxtan

“The Satan Bug” (1965) / Z-View

The Satan Bug (1965)

Director:  John Sturges

Screenplay by:  James Clavell and Edward Anhalt based on The Satan Bug novel by Alistair MacLean

Starring:  George Maharis, Richard Basehart, Anne Francis, Dana Andrews, Frank Sutton, Edward Asner, Simon Oakland, John Anderson and James Hong

Tagline:  The price for uncovering the secret of the satan bug comes high – YOUR LIFE!

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

When a newly developed virus known as The Satan Bug is stolen from a research lab, Lee Barrett (Maharis), a former intelligence agent is brought back to track down the thieves before the bug is released to kill everyone in Los Angeles.

The Satan Bug story was ahead of it’s time.  The idea of a lab-created virus that gets loose seems commonplace today, but in 1965, this was first rate science fiction!

The cast consists of several familiar faces from popular television shows of the era.  George Maharis was the co-star of Route 66.  Richard Basehart starred on Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.  Anne Francis was the star of Honey West.  Frank Sutton would soon play Sgt. Carter on Gomer Pyle.  Ed Asner would go on to play Lou Grant on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Lou Grant spin-off series.   If you’re a child of the era, it adds a bit of charm to The Satan Bug, but if you’re not of the right age, the cast won’t give you the same joy.

The Satan Bug has a great plot, but there’s more talk than action.  Then when the action comes, it doesn’t live up to the expectation.  For these reasons The Satan Bug earns 2 of 5 stars.

“Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” (2022) / Z-View

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2022)

Director:  Akiva Goldsman (Ep.1); Maja Vrvilo (Ep. 2); Leslie Hope (Ep. 3); Dan Liu (Ep. 4); Rachel Leiterman (Ep. 5); Andi Armaganian (Ep. 6); Sydney Freeland (Ep. 7); Amanda Row (Ep. 8); Christopher J. Byrne (Ep. 9); Chris Fisher (Ep. 10)

Teleplay by:  Akiva Goldsman (Ep. 1 based on a story by Akiva Goldsman & Alex Kurtzman & Jenny Lumet); Henry Alonso Myers & Sarah Tarkoff (Ep.2); Akela Cooper & Bill Wolkoff (Ep. 3); Davy Perez & Beau DeMayo (Ep. 4); Henry Alonso Myers & Robin Wasserman (Ep. 5); Robin Wasserman & Bill Wolkoff (Ep. 6); Beau DeMayo & Sarah Tarkoff (Ep. 7); Akela Cooper & Onitra Johnson (Ep. 8); Davy Perez (Ep. 9); Henry Alonso Myers & Akiva Goldsman (Ep. 10)

Starring:  Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Jess Bush, Melissa Navia, Christina Chong, Rebecca Romijn, Celia Rose Gooding, Babs Olusanmokun, Gia Sandhu and Paul Wesley.

Tagline:  None

The Overview:  Beware of spoilers…

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is the prequel to the original Star Trek series.  Set ten years prior to Star Trek, Strange New Worlds follows the adventures of the crew of the Enterprise under the command of Christopher Pike (Mount).  Characters from the original series (Spock, Nurse Christine Chapel, Nyota Uhura, T’Pring and Captain James T. Kirk) are joined by new crew members (Erica Ortegas, La’an Noonien-Singh, Una Chin-Riley).

I was a fan of the original Star Trek.  I never watched any of the other Star Trek television series until Strange New Worlds.  So I’m not a die hard fan of everything Star Trek, so believe me when I say that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is exceptional.  Everything from the production values of the sets, the cast, the direction and the music is spot on.  Star Trek: Strange New Worlds isn’t a copy of the original series, but instead a love letter to everything it strived to be.

The series is perfectly cast.  Anson Mount is amazing in his role, but so are Ethan Peck, Jess Bush, Celia Rose Gooding and Melissa Navia.  The series is well written with each major cast member displaying personality and the feel that they have a life beyond the scenes that they’re in.  If you’re a fan of the original series there are things that begin in Strange New Worlds that will reverberate in the original series (the relationship between Spock and Nurse Chapel; seeing Nyota Uhura’s growth into a Star Fleet officer, the romance that will fail between Spock and T’Pring, and more).

I loved every episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds and cannot wait for season 2.  Star Trek: Strange New Worlds earns 5 of 5 stars.