The Book Is FINALLY Published – Introducing ‘Dan the Destructor – Barbarians of the Storm, Book I’!

For those who have been following this site for awhile, you might already know that I wrote a graphic novel script about two years ago when all the COVID stuff was kicking off.

You might also know that I wanted to expand on the ideas and stories in that script and decided to restructure it into a pulp novel format. Well, that’s finally done!

Physical copies of the book can be purchased here. The book is also on Amazon: the Kindle version is here and the physical version is here.

However, physical books are better and since this is patterned after the pulp novels of yesteryear, I think that the physical pocket book is a lot cooler.

So what’s Dan the Destructor about? Well, here’s the blurb from the back of the book:

There have been countless legends and with that, countless heroes destined to be the “chosen one”. Dan is not that person.

Sucked into an exotic, barbarous world, Dan meets a jovial warrior and finds himself on an adventure he could’ve never imagined – battling monsters, demons, armies, and evil sorcerers.

Dan the Destructor is a mixture of sword & sorcery and post-apocalyptic B-movies presented in a quick paced pulp novel format. It’s fun, badass, fantastical, and action-packed.

Beyond that, the original idea for this concept came when I was imagining what it would be like if the ’80s Italian and Spanish rip-offs of Conan the Barbarian and The Road Warrior merged into one thing. I have always loved these sort of movies and was pretty much raised on them and all the Cannon Films action flicks. So this blends all those badass things together and tries to keep that tough as nails but awesome spirit alive.

This is also very much influenced by the pulp novels and pulp heroes I’ve read since I was a kid.

Entertainment has lost itself in recent years and its generally become an uninspiring, bleak reflection of reality. Gone are the days of adventure, fun and genuine escapism. With Dan the Destructor, I tried to bring this back.

With that, this shouldn’t be taken too seriously. I just wanted to create the book that wanted to read and I hope that other people enjoy it and that it gives them a much needed break from reality.

The novel also features a short story at the end, which tells the origin of the big villain for the book series. While that is a very dark story, I thought that it was necessary in providing the proper context for that character going into the second book in the Barbarians of the Storm series.

If people like this series, I promise not to George R.R. Martin you. I will give you your ending.

Lastly, I listen to a lot of music while writing and during the creative process, I developed a playlist that has become the unofficial soundtrack of the book for me. Honestly, all badass books deserve soundtracks and I think it helps set the tone for what to expect with the story.

Film Review: Kamen Rider: The First (2005)

Also known as: Masked Rider: The First (alternative English title)
Release Date: October 26th, 2005 (Tokyo Film Festival)
Directed by: Takao Nagaishi
Written by: Toshiki Inoue
Based on: Kamen Rider by Shotaro Ishinomori
Music by: Gorou Yasukawa
Cast: Masaya Kikawada, Hassei Takano, Komine Rena, Hiroshi Miyauchi, Eiji Wentz, Ryoko Kobayashi, Sada Mayumi, Issa Hentona, Hideyo Amamoto, Itsuji Itao, Kanji Tsuda

Toei, 91 Minutes

Review:

I haven’t seen this since around the time that it first came out on DVD in the US, which probably wasn’t too long after its 2005 theatrical release in Japan.

This also had a sequel, which I remembered liking better, as it leaned even heavier into the violence and edginess that this strange retelling of the original two Kamen Riders origin introduced.

This plays much darker and more like horror than the standard Kamen Rider television series. It’s a reboot but it was made for an older audience that had grown up with the shows but found them to be too kiddie for typical adults.

For what this set out to do, I think it achieved its goals fairly well. This isn’t in any way superior to the source material but it definitely respects it and still homages it in a good way that captures the aesthetic and vibe. It looks and feels like a modern tokusatsu production but with a bigger budget and without having its hands tied by the creative limitations of a children’s show.

I thought that the acting was decent. None of it as particularly great but also, none of it felt overly hokey or cheesy like typical tokusatsu shows often times deliver.

I thought that the special effects were good. The costumes were top notch and looked impressive. My only gripe in that regard is that I felt like the Shocker foot soldiers would’ve looked a lot cooler if they kept their classic costumes and lucha libre style masks.

Ultimately, this was a really interesting experiment. I think it paid off for what it was and it didn’t do anything to diminish the legacy of the intellectual property unlike just about every Hollywood reboot and remake over the last decade or more.

Rating: 6.25/10

TV Review: The Innocent Man (2018)

Original Run: December 14th, 2018
Created by: Ross M. Dinerstein, Clay Tweel
Directed by: Clay Tweel
Based on: The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice In a Small Town by John Grisham
Cast: John Grisham, various

Campfire, The Gernert Company, Netflix, 6 Episodes, 42-52 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

This was another release in a long list of Netflix true crime documentary miniseries. As I’m trying to work my ways through these, out of the ones I hadn’t yet seen, the premise for this one interested me, especially since it dealt with the possibility of false confessions, which has been a key portion of other similar documentaries I’ve seen.

This deals with a small Oklahoma town called Ada, and two murder cases that happened just two years apart in the early ’80s. The fact that two brutal murders happened in such a small town, so close together, isn’t even the most shocking thing. The story of these two cases and their similarities captivated crime author John Grisham so much, that all of this became the subject of his only nonfiction book.

I thought that this had the same issue as a lot of the other Netflix true crime releases with more than a handful of episodes and that was pacing and a fixation on certain details that are overall moot. I guess that these are made to lay out as much of the evidence as possible but at the same time, Netflix true crime productions have omitted things in the past and they don’t need to dwell on certain things just to milk the story in an effort to increase viewing hours. Well, maybe they do, as investors are fickle hoes.

Like many of the other Netflix true crime sagas, this also doesn’t give you a satisfying ending, as these cases are still a clusterfuck, the justice system is in the way of itself and the people who are most likely wrongfully imprisoned are still imprisoned without much hope that this will change.

Still, these things are usually damn compelling and this is no different. I like hearing from the people involved, directly, and getting their two cents without some third party just interpreting their words and potentially adding their spin or agenda to it.

Rating: 6.5/10

Film Review: A Fish Called Wanda (1988)

Release Date: July 7th, 1988 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Charles Crichton
Written by: John Cleese, Charles Crichton
Music by: John Du Prez
Cast: John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, Michael Palin, Cynthia Cleese, Stephen Fry

Star Partners Limited Partnership, Prominent Features, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 108 Minutes

Review:

“You pompous, stuck-up, snot-nosed, English, giant, twerp, scumbag, fuck-face, dickhead, asshole.” – Otto, “How very interesting. You’re a true vulgarian, aren’t you?” – Archie, “You are the vulgarian, you fuck.” – Otto

I remember adults talking about how much they loved this movie when I was nine years-old. I also vaguely remember seeing the John Cleese getting caught naked gag whether from trailers or just seeing it pop up on HBO while flipping the channels.

That’s really all I knew about the movie, though, but people still talk about it fondly, so I figured that I should finally check it out. Plus, I like Cleese, as well as Jamie Lee Curtis, Michael Palin and Kevin Kline. Cynthia Cleese and Stephen Fry also pop up in this.

For the most part, this was amusing and I liked that it was essentially a film-noir structured comedy. Curtis essentially plays a femme fatale without the murder and you never really know which guy she’s screwing over and who she may choose in the end… or no one.

Cleese was as likable and hilarious as always and this really felt like somewhat of spiritual successor to probably his most famous character, Basil Fawlty of Fawlty Towers. Although, Cleese’s character here is less of a shithead.

Kline is solid as a total bastard and I especially liked his banter and scenes with Michael Palin.

Overall, this is pretty quick paced, whimsical and entertaining. However, it didn’t captivate me on the level that it has seemed to for other people, especially at the time of this picture’s release. Maybe it worked better in 1988 and for an audience that was older than me then. 

Honestly, it reminds me a lot of other comedies of the time featuring a small group of people all trying to fuck each other over. It was kind of a normal comedy trope at the time and with that, I can’t really see this as something wholly original or refreshing, even for its era. While it beat Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to the theater by a few months, it pales in comparison to that by a pretty substantial margin.

Rating: 6.25/10

Book Review: ‘Stormbringer’: Book Six of the Elric Saga’ by Michael Moorcock

While this isn’t the last of the Elric of Melniboné novels, it is the final one in the six-part Elric Saga. And with that, this is a pretty intense and satisfying finale.

I’ve enjoyed these books pretty f’n thoroughly. After spending the better part of a year reading through everything by Robert E. Howard I could get my hands on, switching over to Michael Moorcock’s stories of a hero that is essentially, Conan in reverse, was also a great experience. I do plan on reading more Elric books, as well as other non-Elric works by Moorcock.

As for this tale, I thought that it was the best since the first book. This is also the thickest of the series. But this is also because a lot happens here and this is the culmination of everything that has happened before it. Because it’s the last in the series, I don’t want to spoil any of the key details.

I will say that it packs a punch, wraps some things up pretty well and ultimately, leaves you sad that the “saga” is over while being very hungry for more.

Moorcock’s prose, as I’ve mentioned before, is just incredible and there’s almost this extra layer of confidence and familiarity in his writing, here, that it takes this to another level.

In the end, all I can do is hope that more people check out Moorcock’s work, especially the books in the Elric Saga.

Rating: 8.75/10

Film Review: Porco Rosso (1992)

Also known as: Kurenai no buta (original Japanese title), The Crimson Pig (literal English title)
Release Date: July 18th, 1992 (Japan)
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Based on: Hikotei Jidai by Hayao Miyazaki
Music by: Joe Hisaishi
Cast: Japanese Language: Shuichiro Moriyama, Akio Otsuka, Akemi Okamura, Tokiko Kato, Sanshi Katsura; English Language: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Susan Egan, Brad Garrett, Bill Fagerbakke, Frank Welker

Japan Airlines, Nibariki, Nippon Television Network, Studio Ghibli, 94 Minutes

Review:

“I’d rather be a pig than a fascist.” – Porco Rosso

I’ve gotta say, I went into this with no real expectations but it kind of blew me away and impressed me a great deal.

The humor in this is fantastic and up to the point of this film’s release, this may be Studio Ghibli’s best use of comedy. It helped set the film’s playful tone from the get go.

The story is about an ace pilot during the World War I era. He’s Italian and work as a bounty hunter around the Adriatic Sea. He’s also been cursed with the head of a pig, even though he’s a pretty normal human being.

Over the course of the film, he develops a rivalry with an American ace and loses a contest against him. He then is convinced by a young girl that she can design and build a better plane for him, even though he doesn’t initially like the idea. Over the course of the story, they develop an incredible bond and Porco Rosso sets his sights on redeeming himself against the American ace.

While this is more of a comedy than a drama, it has very strong dramatic moments and I think it’s those parts that make this pretty great.

I watched the English dubbed version and I thoroughly enjoyed the voice acting. I especially liked Michael Keaton and Cary Elwes as the voices of the two rival aces, which made their banter pretty entertaining.

As far as the animation goes, this is exactly what you should expect from a Hayao Miyazaki picture. I also think this has a lot more energy than many of his films, as it features so much aerial action.

While I doubt that I’ll ever discover a bad Studio Ghibli film, this wasn’t one that I expected to be really impressed by. In the end, it did just that and I think this may be one of my favorites of the bunch. But I still have many to get through, that I haven’t seen.

Rating: 8/10

TV Review: Gekisou Sentai Carranger (1996-1997)

Original Run: March 1st, 1996 – February 7th, 1997
Created by: Toei, Yoshio Urasawa
Directed by: Yoshiaki Kobayashi
Written by: various
Music by: Naritaka Takayama (themes), Toshihiko Sahashi
Cast: Yūji Kishi, Yoshihiro Masujima, Yoshihiro Fukuda, Yuka Motohashi, Atsuko Kurusu, Rika Nanase

Toei, TV Asahi, 48 Episodes, 20 Minutes (per episode)

Review:

Fans might see these characters and recognize them from Power Rangers Turbo but like all things Power Rangers, the majority of the action came from Japan’s Super Sentai franchise. In the case of Turbo, they borrowed heavily from this series, Gekisou Sentai Carranger.

Overall, this was one of the weaker Sentai series that I have seen but it still had really enjoyable parts and characters I ended up caring about.

In the American version, they had to create a new female villain character, as Zonnette from this show was way too scantily clad and there were scenes that featured too much sexual suggestion. I guess Japanese kids are more mature at dealing with sexy hot chicks in their television shows than the American kids are. Or, at least, the American puritan censors.

The premise for this show is one of the most bizarre, even for Sentai standards. The heroes here are “fighting for traffic safety” and they get their powers from some sort of automobile-themed cosmic force.

The big villain, who doesn’t appear until the last dozen or so episodes, has the grand scheme of building a network of super highways in space. I was never quite sure why that was even a bad thing, other than he wanted to destroy other planets and specifically their roads in order to achieve this strange goal.

Here’s the thing, though, Sentai doesn’t have to make any sort of logical sense and it rarely does. In a lot of ways, it’s all a self-parody of tokusatsu tropes and it’s very self-aware. While I’m not quite sure how Japanese kids interpret this stuff, it still makes for wacky, bizarre, entertaining television for those who are into really bonkers shit.

One thing that Gekisou Sentai Carranger did have working for it was the designs of the characters, specifically the villains and secondary heroes. Also, the Bowzock ship was one of the coolest I’ve seen in any sci-fi show or movie. It’s basically a mechanical orb made of what looks like moving, tangled razorwire.

Overall, there are much better Sentai series out there but this was still fun and enjoyable if this stuff is up your alley.

Rating: 6.75/10

Film Review: Doctor X (1932)

Release Date: August 3rd, 1932 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Michael Curtiz
Written by: Robert Tasker, Earl Baldwin
Based on: Terror, 1928 play by Howard W. Comstock, Allen C. Miller
Music by: Leo F. Forbstein, Bernard Kaun
Cast: Lionel Atwill, Fay Wray, Lee Tracy, Preston Foster

First National Pictures, 76 Minutes

Review:

“Were the murdered women… attacked?” – Dr. Haines, Academy of Surgical Research

I don’t know if this is the first horror/comedy ever made but it’s gotta be pretty close. However, it also blends together several genres in what’s a really unique experience for a motion picture from 1932.

This is directed by Michael Curtiz, who would go on to direct several film-noir pictures, as well as big budget swashbuckling blockbusters starring the legendary Errol Flynn. Curtiz was a pretty versatile and now celebrated director but this may be his most unusual film.

So the version of this that I watched was actually the one restored by George Lucas’ people, which was also in Technicolor, as opposed to the traditional black and white.

However, I really liked the Technicolor work in this film and it made it feel gritty and real and also somewhat haunting and majestic. The use of green accents enhanced it in a unique way and while I typically prefer to see films, as they were intended, this almost makes a good argument for the use of colorization just by how it was employed here.

I thought that the film was amusing, I liked the comedy and it still works for those few of us that still enjoy pictures from this era.

I also enjoyed the performances by Lionel Atwill, a guy that was featured in a slew of classic Universal Monsters films, as well as Fay Wray, who will always be remembered for her iconic part in the original King Kong.

While this is sort of your typical mad scientist tale, it’s genre bending narrative comes across as fresh and unique when compared to similar movies of the time.

Rating: 7/10