In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.

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Pulp Appeal: Tales from the Crypt

Ah, Tales from the Crypt, my favorite HBO show that is nowhere to be found (legally) to stream on the internet.

Broadswords and Blasters

Tales-from-the-Crypt_1 Eeee hee hee hee hee hee hee heeeeeeee!

A couple years ago there was a rumor (which turned out to be correct) M. Night Shyamalan was resurrecting one of my favorite television series of all time: Tales from the Crypt. I was simultaneously ecstatic and revolted, as anyone who has followed Shyamalan’s career[1] has a right to be. I have a reputation among my friends and family of poo-pooing remakes and unnecessary sequels, but this is a series I would love to see revived, provided it is done correctly.

Before the era of the Comics Code Authority, comic books went through a growth period in which they embraced violence, blood, and horror, but no publisher pushed the boundaries of acceptability in four-colors further than William Gaines of EC Comics. After his father died, Bill took over and turned it from a fairly standard publishing house, Entertaining Comics, into…

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Pulp Consumption: Mad Max: Fury Road

Last week I wrote about Mad Max. This week Matt writes about Fury Road, a sequel released 30 years after the last movie in the series, Beyond Thunderdome.

Broadswords and Blasters

mad+max+fury+road+trailer Max and what’s left of his “Pursuit Special” 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT

In case you’ve been under a rock somewhere, Mad Max: Fury Road is the latest (as of 2015) installment in George Miller’s Mad Max series of films.

Yes, I know it’s another movie. Yes, I know it’s post-apocalyptic. Yes, I know it doesn’t fit into the “pulp mold”, whatever that might be.

Here’s why you want to watch it from a storytelling perspective.

The stakes are clear. If Max doesn’t escape Immortan Joe and his War Boys, he’s going to be bled dry as a source of clean blood. If Furiosa and Immortan’s brides don’t escape, Furiosa will be killed (most likely), and the brides will be subjected to sex slave status until Joe dispenses with them at which point the best they can probably hope for is being used as a milk source. If Immortan doesn’t…

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Pulp Consumption: Mad Max

I love the Mad Max universe. Though slow-moving for modern audiences, the first is still a great film. The more I think about it, the more I like Road Warrior best of all four movies.

Broadswords and Blasters

madmax Collector’s Edition Blu-Ray cover

In 1979 something incredible happened: I was born. But seriously, that’s also the year of some amazing cinema, including Alien, The Amityville Horror, Apocalypse Now, and The Warriors, but the one I’m most enamored of is Mel Gibson’s second major film, and the one that rocketed him to stardom, Mad Max.

mad_max_2_h2-490x388 Max during Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, arguably more influential and important to the look of Fury Road than anything in the original.

The Mad Max series rocketed back into cultural consciousness two years ago with Fury Road, but before Furiosa and Immortan Joe, before Tina Turner singing “We don’t need another hero,” before the ever-expanding desert and the gyrocopter and the weird kids-only cargo cult, we had Max Rockatansky, an Australian highway patrolman operating a pursuit vehicle at the ass-end of civilization as society breaks down around…

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Pulp Appeal: Zork, Metal Gear, Fallout, Bioshock

Matt’s post last week got me thinking about other video game franchises that take inspiration from pulp fiction.

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Matt talked about The Witcher last week, which got me thinking about other video game series that fit the pulp aesthetic. Rather than do a deep dive on one series, and because I am far more familiar with older videos than modern ones (LA Noire, for instance, is one that probably deserves a whole column, but I haven’t played it), I thought I’d do some capsule reviews of a bunch of different styles of games from various consoles and computer systems. No such article could ever hope to be even close to comprehensive, so I’m going to stick to four game series that I’ve played a lot of and loved immensely.

Zork_I_box_artZork[1] Series – Zork is an interactive text adventure game that was first published in the late 1970s. Although Colossal Cave Adventure is recognized as the first interactive fiction game, it is little more than…

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Pulp Appeal: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

I went a little footnote crazy this week.

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clint-eastwood-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-spiros-soutsosA few weeks back Matt discussed one version of a character known in the west as “The Man with No Name.” Akira Kurosawa wrote and directed Yojimbo, starring B&B favorite Toshiro Mifune, about a nameless ronin who moves from town to town solving problems–or creating them, depending on your interpretation–wherever he goes. This character shows up in many other movies including the original Django spaghetti western and its many sequels, the Sergio Leone film Dollars trilogy starring Clint Eastwood[1], and the Walter Hill film Last Man Standing starring Bruce Willis. Although Kurosawa didn’t explicitly state it, film buffs and noir fans believe he got the original idea for the character and plot of Dashiell Hammett’s Red Harvest, a novel of his nameless character The Continental Op, about whom I’ve already written.

The Man with No Name, like his inspiration[2], had a…

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Pulp Appeal: Philip José Farmer

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philip_jose_farmer_1359741c Farmer died in 2009 at the age of 91. This image is from the Telegraph obituary.

As with Matt’s article about the Chronicles of Amber last week, no one could rightfully call Philip José Farmer a pulp writer. He definitely belongs in the movement known as New Wave, and was even published in Dangerous Visions, the defining compilation of New Wave short stories. The book was edited by Harlan Ellison, one of the most iconic members of the movement. That said, as with many of Farmer’s contemporaries, including Ellison, Michael Moorcock, Norman Spinrad, and Philip K. Dick, Farmer was deeply inspired by the pulps. In fact he was so enamored of the earlier fiction movement that he wrote some of the most well-known pulp pastiches, works like The Adventures of the Peerless Peer, The Other Log of Phileas Fogg, Tarzan Alive, and Doc Savage:…

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Pulp Appeal: Chronicles of Amber

I only read the first book and it was a long time ago, but it’s worth a read. Matt’s examination here is a good one.

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Let’s get something out of the way, The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazy isn’t pulp per se. For starters, the first novel in the series, “NINE PRINCES IN AMBER” wasn’t published until 1970, putting it more in line with the New Wave movement coming out of the sixties. That said, critics have drawn comparisons to the 1946 novella written by Henry Kutter (with perhaps some help from his wife, C.L. Moore) called the THE DARK WORLD, giving it at the very least a line back to the pulps.

Image result for chronicles of amber The cover for the original collected stories.

“… the Kuttner story which most impressed me in those most impressionable days was his short novel The Dark World. I returned to it time and time, reading it over and over again, drawn by its colorful, semi-mythic characters and strong action … looking back, Kuttner and Moore—and, specifically, The Dark World—were…

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Pulp Appeal: Rafael Sabatini

If you like high adventure swashbuckling romances but haven’t yet read Rafael Sabatini, you need to rectify that immediately.

Broadswords and Blasters

Scaramouche_1952_filmSwashbuckling adventures have been popular with the general public for hundreds of years. Tales of heroic sword fighters in pitched battle against unbeatable odds go back quite literally to some of the earliest works of written literature, surviving in the tales of Gilgamesh, books from the Bible, and the earliest works about Robin Hood. These works really hit popular stride in the 1800s, particularly after the success of Alexandre Dumas (pere) and his d’Artagnan romances. But as much as Dumas placed a stamp on contemporary versions of the swashbuckler, it is a later writer, famous at the time but often overlooked now, whose works refined the iconic profile of the swashbuckler–Rafael Sabatini.

seahawkSabatini was a native Italian who spent much of his youth traveling and attending school in Europe. He was a polyglot, attaining fluency in several languages, but most importantly English, because it is the language in which he…

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Pulp Consumption : Brick

In today’s Pulp Consumption, Matt talks about a film I’ve never even heard of. It’s on my watchlist now, especially since it’s on Starz while I’m currently subscribing.

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BRICK is a 2005 neo-noir film starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Brendan, a high school loner who ends up investigating the untimely murder of his ex-girlfriend, Emily. The action gets kicked off quickly enough. A phone call. A cry for help. The discovery of a body.

BRICK

What follows is an intricate web of deception, revenge, drugs, and rivalry all set against the backdrop of maneuvering through high school. None of the characters, not even Brendan, can be classified as completely innocent. Brendan holds to his own code of honor, not truly a criminal, but willing to act outside of the traditional bounds of morality to accomplish his goals. He’s also smart enough to know that it is isn’t the person who pulls the trigger that’s the real villain, but the person who makes sure that the victim is in front of the gun.

Some of what makes BRICK stand out is…

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Pulp Appeal: Pulp Fiction

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Pulp_Fiction_(1994)_posterTime to address the elephant in the room. It’s been quietly sitting in the corner for the last seven months, but today it is begging me for attention.

Say the words “Pulp Fiction” to most adults in America and they won’t think about Robert Howard, Tarzan, the Cthulhu Mythos, or The Maltese Falcon. For a large portion of the American consumer public “Pulp Fiction” means one thing – the 1994 film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Hell, when you Google the phrase, the first three pages of results are about the film. It’s not until about halfway down the fourth page that something else[1] pops into the mix.

Pulp Fiction is not Tarantino’s entry into film, but it is the work that pushed him out into the public eye. The title begs the question: Is Pulp Fiction pulp fiction? Yes, most definitely. And why not? It’s an…

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