TNB Commentaries 025: Evil Dead 2 – Dead By Dawn

evildead2Please turn off your cellphones and get ready to head back to the cabin in the woods and read from the good bad book.

For our 25th commentary, we jump in the classic and drive back to 1987 for this brilliant sequel starring the legendarily groovy Bruce Campbell, Dan Hicks, Kassie DePaiva (née Wesley), & Richard Domeier fighting deadites, possessed hands, and rockin’ a chainsaw.

Fitz is brought down by the real world, Doom sings…A LOT, they do an update on the whole Re-Animator/Army Of Darkness crossover comic situation, also Fitty Man tries to down play the wackiness of Indiana Jones movies!

Hope you enjoy it, gang!

URL: TNB Commentaries 025: Evil Dead 2 – Dead By Dawn
Direct Download:tnbc-025-evil-dead-2.mp3

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2018

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TNB Commentaries Episode 24: Re-Animator

517i6TUvNXL._SY445_Please turn off your cellphones and prepare to be injected with the serum of life and get Rufussed into a wall again and again!

For our 24th commentary, we dismember our way all the way back to 1985 for this classic starring Jeffrey Combs, Barbara Crampton, and Bruce Abbott, that is also the 1st crossover of The Nerd Blitz Book Club and The Nerd Blitz Commentaries!

We discuss the the differences between 80’s and modern horror, the many Army Of Darkness/Re-Animator crossover comic, the Great Forrest Park Balloon Race, all while comparing this and the story it’s based on.

So saddle up and join the ride, gang, there’s fun ahead!

URL: TNB Commentaries 024: Re-Animator
Direct Download:tnbc-024-re-animator.mp3

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2018

Burn Notice: The Reformed Review

Burn Notice is a show I loved, and in many episodes of the Pod I have gone on the record and said the novels I had read up to this point, along with the Monk and Psych novels, were among the best media tie-in novels I’ve read.
But, this is a new novel and there is always a chance it may not live up to the standard set by the others.
Time to find out!

As always, this is your official ***SPOILER ALERT***

Michael: [VO] My name is Michael Westen.
I used to be a spy.
Until…
Voice on phone: We got a burn notice on you.
You’re blacklisted.
Michael: [VO] When you’re burned, you’ve got nothing: no cash, no credit, no job history.
You’re stuck in whatever city they decide to dump you in.
Michael: Where am I?
Fiona: Miami.
Michael: [VO] You do whatever work comes your way.
You rely on anyone who’s still talking to you.
A trigger-happy ex-girlfriend…
Fiona: Shall we shoot them?
Michael: [VO] An old friend who used to inform on you to the FBI…
Sam Axe: You know spies, bunch of bitchy little girls.
Michael: [VO] Family too…
Sam: [phone rings] Hey, is that your Mom again?
Michael: [VO] …if you’re desperate.
Madeline: Someone needs your help, Michael!
Michael: [VO] Bottom line: As long as you’re burned, you’re not going anywhere.

For those unfamiliar, that’s how every episode of Burn Notice opened.
And every single time I picked this book up to read a few more chapters, that rolled through my head.
Tod Goldberg has such a great grasp of this world that it’s stunning to find out he wasn’t in the writers room on the series.
In all honesty, the worst thing I can say about this book is that it feels a lot like Star Wars: Dark Disciple, in that it feels like an arc of the show that they didn’t film.
It really is like 3 episodes in 1 book.
I can see Bruce Campbell, Sharon Gless, Jeffery Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, and all of the rest of the cast acting out every single expression, muscle twitch, and flare of anger.
I can visualize the graphics explaining who is the client, bad guy, and asset.
It’s fantastic!

The story goes like this: a former street gang leader that Mikey knows from his youth and time as a spy found God in prison, turned priest, and is in the midst of trying to atone.
But now the collar’s new public image is being threatened with blackmail by a former fellow gang member.
After a chance meeting spurred by Madeline, Mike’s Mom, Mike takes him on as a client and gets dragged into this seedy underbelly.

This novel really crystalized one thing for me, something that would occasionally swim around in my brain from time to time as I watched the show.
That fact is that these characters are so strong and so well defined, far beyond most shows that fall into the same sort of villain of the week formula that this show did.
Mike is the strong leader who is capable on his own but isn’t afraid to rely on his friends and family.
Fiona is an incredible presence that I would dare say is one of the best female characters of all time, without falling into stereotypical female archetypes.
She’s occasionally soft and sweet, occasionally The Punisher in a dress.
And then we come to Sam, the wise crackin’ best buddy who is more than just comic relief.
He can actually handle himself and rescue the hero if he is forced to.
It all comes through so well, it’s perfection on the page.

Mike makes his plan to take down the baddie, who has cops on the payroll. After some clever twists to complicate things and challenge the crew, they unseat the villain, protect a mother and her child, save the priest and his youth workers he’s trying to pull out of the life.
And all is well, for now.

If you are a fan of this show, there is absolutely no reason you won’t love these books.
They legitimately feel like missing TV Movies from the middle of the first three seasons or something.
I don’t know exactly how Goldberg does it, but the dude does it well.
It’s a damn shame he only did 5 of these novels because in the absence of the show, that I deeply loved and terribly miss, these are a magnificent way to extend the experience.
I highly encourage you to check this and all of the others out.
Meanwhile, I’ll just sit here hoping he’ll get an idea some day and they let him do more.

Special thanks to @acferrell1976 for her editorial help.

Be sure to come back tomorrow, gang, for the launch of Fitz’s new Bi-Weekly Figure Feature!

Kevin J. Anderson’s Selected Stories: Science Fiction, Vol 1 Review

With all of the negativity in the review world lately, folks battling to be the most snarky and faux witty as they can to try and snag the most clicks, I’ve made a specific effort to keep these Book Reviews positive.
That’s the main reason for some of the gaps in between them.
I’ve read a few stinkers and didn’t want to have to come on here and be shitty, so I just quietly moved onto the next book.
So when I got the chance to get an advance copy of this book, I leapt at it…but then I started to worry.

KJA has said this is the 1st of 4 volumes, so far, collecting a bunch of his short stories.
And with that announcement, the middle 2 were the ones I was most interested in and excited for (see what they are planned to be focused on here).
Now I was worried because I do love Sci-Fi, but my taste in it has tended to be more mainstream.
Firefly/Serenity, Star Wars (I say it is Sci-Fi, damn it!), Star Trek TNG & DS9, Bruce Campbell’s Bulgarian work, things that everyone instantly thinks of when they hear talk of the genre.
I’ve never taken the dive into the hardcore stuff, which is what caused my worry.
I’ve long talked about my love of The Last Days Of Krypton (my introduction to KJA), but that’s Superman tinged Sci-Fi, not Issac Asimov or Philip K Dick.

So, with all of that in mind and now out of the way, what do I think of this Collection of the hardest of the hardcore type Sci-Fi?
Can my fandom of the man and his writing style outweigh my inexperience and trepidation with the genre?
Buckle up for a longer than usual ride, and let’s find out!

As per usual, ***This Is Your SPOILER ALERT***

For the most part, I loved it.
My main take away is that somebody desperately needs to get in contact with KJA for the upcoming reboot of The Twilight Zone.
Some, but not all, of the stories have that classic “Oh man, that’s ballsy” moment that a lot of the the best eps of Twilight Zone still elicit to this day.
The variety of the stories is another reason I think this dude needs to be in that room.

One of the main reasons I can’t stand those bullshit singing/talent shows on TV is the judges with their inane snarky comments.
“Well, I don’t like country music, so I’m gonna pass.”
It’s just plain idiotic.
If you can’t see talent from a genre you don’t like then you need to get out of the game.
I bring that up because Military Sci-Fi usually can’t hold my attention, and this book features a fair bit of it.
I can’t say it’s bad though.
Sure, some of those stories were in and out of my head as fast as I read them, but even so they were easy to read and featured KJA’s signature style of being detailed enough to get across the important stuff without bogging you down in useless, boring, jargon filled blocks of prose.
Even the worst (process of elimination dictates there must be a worst) story among these has something interesting.
In fact, one of the best stories (Combat Experience) fits into the military subgenre, so he definitely can supercede preconceived biases and hook you in for things you weren’t initially excited for.

2 of my favorite stories (Rough Draft & Music Played On The Strings Of Time) feature a company called “Alternitech” that transports employees into alternate time lines to look for subtle differences, such as movies starring alternate leads or follow-up novels that don’t exist here, that they can exploit and profit from.
The implications of that are damn near horrific, but truly fascinating.
Seeing the impact of these 2 stories on the people involved in them is pretty great, especially for us creative types.

There’s a story that’s Jurassic Park-esque (called Mammoth Dawn), it shines a light on the sadistic streak of some humans and the beauty of others while dealing with the complicated issue of screwing with the natural order.
In short, this book shows you just how versatile Anderson is.
How this genre, more than most, is a perfect fit for allegorical storytelling.

The entire arc of his career is represented here.
The book opens with his very 1st published story (Memorial, which he had published at age 14) and the penultimate story (Ghosts Of Mars) was written for his MFA courses and published online ealier this year.
The latter, you may remember me pushing that one pretty hard for a few days.
It’s a pretty cool tribute to the foundation of Sci-Fi writing.

Before each story he writes roughly half a page about the origins of what follows.
I’ve not read a ton of short story collections in my day, but that was new to me.
It added a nice bit of weight and background to each bit of business that followed.

There are a bunch of other stories in here that I dig, but I can’t wrap up without mentioning 3 others that I really loved, 2 of which he wrote for XPrize.
The 1st one is called The Next Best Thing To Being There, inspired by a true story, this story is a heartbreaking, yet sweet, tale of a climber connecting with loved ones through technology after an accident on a trek.
The 2nd of the XPrize stories is called Terminal, about a plane that travels 20 years into the future (one of those Twilight Zone stories I mentioned) and gives a woman a new lease on life.
Both of these are emotional and oddly hopeful in their own ways.

The final story I have to mention is called Paradox & Greenblatt, Attorneys At Law.
It’s the lightest story, in terms of tone, in this collection.
It feels like Perry Mason meets The Twilight Zone, and like it could be set in the future of the Dan Shamble universe.
This is a case of a dude time traveling to take out his mother’s boss, and he gets off on a paradoxical technicality that’s pure genius.
He says in the preamble for this story that he always intended to write more stories in this series and I really hope he gets around to it because I could see it being just as fun and interesting as DSZPI is.

This being a different genre than what I’m used to from KJA (his DC & Shamble works are what I know him for, so far), it’s great to see his take on a different genre than I’m used to.
So the bottom line is: If you are a fan of KJA, Sci-Fi and all of the subgenres within it, or just damn good writing, you’re probably gonna like this.
It has great variety in the themes, emotions, and styles displayed.
And it’s just a great idea to have this all collected in 1 handy volume.
I really can’t wait for the other 3 volumes to drop so I can see him flex even more muscles.

It’s available on August 15th in Paperback & Hardcover, you can pre-order the kindle version right now by going Here.

Special Thanks to @acferrell1976 for helping me proofread these reviews.

TNB Commentaries 017: My Name Is Bruce (B-Movie May!)

mynameisbrucePlease turn off your cellphones and join the fellas as they continue B-Movie May in the most groovy way!

For our 17th commentary, we hold you hostage in a quaint little town called 2008 to watch this instant classic starring the King himself, Bruce Campbell!

You’re subjected to a Joke Corner, ball slobbering, over the top action and acting, and these two jack wagon’s making comments that anybody else would have the good sense not to let slip their lips.

The fun rolls on in part 2 of this month long celebration of cheese, gang!

 

URL: TNB Commentaries 017: My Name Is Bruce (B-Movie May!)
Direct Download:tnbc-017-my-name-is-bruce.mp3

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2017

Hail To The Chin: Further Confessions Of A B-Movie Actor Review

I’m 3 for 3 on Bruce Books, all have their own strengths.
For instance, his 1st book, If Chins Could Kill, sometimes comes off as a how to guide for indie movie making.
His 2nd, a novel, Make Love* *The Bruce Campbell Way, is an over the top, behind the scenes look at how a quiet movie can become a big disater fast.

But this book, a direct follow-up to the 1st, is quieter.
This one feels like visiting a friend you haven’t talked to in a long time because life got in the way, but you’ve heard through the grapevine that they were healthy and successful.
That is the strength of this book, and Bruce’s attitude/persona in general.

Fitz nor I have made our admiration of Bruce a secret, so if you are expecting some snide, shitty, searing put down piece, this is not the review for you.
This is just a stroke-fest from here in.

The chapters I dig most are when he talks about Bubba Ho-Tep, The Man With The Screaming Brain, My Name Is Bruce, Burn Notice (and after), and his return to the Evil Dead franchise, starting with the remake.
The Screaming Brain and My Name Is chapters are particularly good, as he dives in deep on the struggles to get them made, like culture shock of Bulgaria for the former and the money troubles as he turns his property into a backlot for the latter.

Having him candidly break down the struggles in finding work after Burn Notice is interesting.
The failed pilots and the (since ended) ConTV series that he now travels with, to a movie he shot called Highly Functional that he played a washed up 1 hit wonder country star in.
He talks about how that almost died on the vine due to internal friction and was shelved from 2014 until the director was brought back in late 2016 to finish it.
I can’t find many details on it besides an interview or 2 with Bruce saying it’s done and awaiting release.

The last chapter about Ash Vs Evil Dead coming together and all the details that entails are interesting for all who love that show as much as I do.
And the acknowledgements, those are a bitter sweet PS to the near 300 page adventure he takes us on.
I’m halfway there myself, I have a better understanding of the strange void it leaves, Mr. Campbell.

I can’t close out without mentioning how his USO trip with Jeffrey Donovan and his brother Don to Iraq is another culture shock that we rarely hear about over here.
From the stories of these uniformed soldiers to the intimidation of crumbling mansions, it’s fascinating to hear about it from the perspective of an average Joe.

There is so much jammed into this world traveling book that becomes even more impressive when you realize this only covers the last 15 years of his life.

If you have any interest in Indie moviemaking, the stories of an Actor that’s not always 1st on the callsheet, or the inner workings of smalltown bureaucracy, this book is for you.
Hail To The King!

TNB Commentaries Episode 008: The Evil Dead

the-evil-dead-one-sheetPlease turn off your cellphones and join Doom & Fitz as they take a trip into the woods.

For our 8th commentary, we play a mysterious recording from 1981 we found in a dirt basement called Evil Dead starring Bruce Campbell and directed by Sam Raimi.

We debate whether the sequel is a sequel or a remake or a requel, we talk about careers being launched, cheese ball effects, and the vast ocean of differences in the tonal shifts of this still vibrant franchise.

So kill all your friends and pray the sun comes up, it’s goovy…I mean, movie time!

 

URL: TNB Commentaries Episode 008: The Evil Dead
Direct Download: tnbc008-the-evil-dead.mp3
Youtube: https://youtu.be/n4yccv3HpTs

This has been a feature of TS-D/JA Productions and JJ2E Media 2017