Copyright 1992.

PHOENIX FORCEHell Quest by Gar Wilson(William Fieldhouse)

A U.S. spy satellite has gone down in Ethiopia. So the Phoenix Force is assigned the task of retrieving it. So they must now navigate a country in a civil war with many different factions. In addition teams from Israel and Libya are also there looking to retrieve the satellite and its valuable intelligence. Its a race to see who gets to it first.

ABLE TEAMDeath Lash by Dick Stivers(David North)

The Draculi were the most feared division of the secret police in Romania. Now that the Communist government has been overthrown the group must flee the country. They decide to set up shop in the U.S. and become a criminal enterprise. Selling stolen information to contract killing the group has ambitious plans. First they must steal a super computer from the government. Now Able Team must track down this rogue group and make sure they don’t establish themselves in America.

PHOENIX FORCEDirty Mission by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)

A new drug ring in Europe is targeting American soldiers. Washington is alarmed at the rise of the drug deaths and so sends in Phoenix Force to take care of it. They arrive and find that a Colombian cartel has infiltrated the police in Britain. So now Phoenix Force must take down this growing threat the best way they know how, with extreme prejudice.

So the second book in the series includes two Phoenix Force and one Able Team. These stories are a time capsule of the early nineties. The first involves the endless civil war in Ethiopia that was going on for decades and finally winding down after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The starving children dominated the news and inspired endless concerts and fund raisers. Well intentions but mostly useless as the aid ended up warehoused to rot due to the government withholding aid to their rebellious regions or selling it to prop up their military.

The second deals with the collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and a rogue group of former secret police from Romania. That was fresh at the time and is a good idea for some villains for Able Team to battle.

The Final is one about the Colombian drug cartels which was also a big thing at the time. All three stories were excellent and enjoyable reads. Filled with wall to wall action and battles with Uzis and AK-47’s. Makes me nostalgic for the nineties.




So its the final Rifftrax Live for the year. They start off with a short Adventures in Telezonia. A weird short from 1950 that was put out by the telephone company. It had some creepy marionette named Handy that slides around the telephone lines and listens in on people’s conversations. He decides to help some kid who lost his dog and enlists his other creepy marionettes to use the telephones. Not that easy back in 1950 as they must navigate rotary phones, operators, party lines and mumbling marionettes. I did find one with a humorous commentary that you can watch here.

So the movie starts in Northern Wisconsin and a revival meeting. An old creepy guy with a back brace is leaving his lush wife to supposedly go to the revival. In reality he is going to see his hot girlfriend Helga in town. Meanwhile a meteor is heading to Earth and crashes on the farm in a blinding flash of light.

Philandering guy off to see his girlfriend.

This guy has a wife and girlfriend that are way too hot to be believable.

So anyway the next morning they find all their cattle mutilated. Fortunately the old guy comes up with a plan to just butcher the carcasses and sell the meat to Dutch’s cafe. Yes good old fashioned Northern Wisconsin dining.
But they also find some strange rocks. Inside are what appear to be diamonds and the old creep goes to town to consult his inbred cousin who happens to be a mineralogist. Apparently the standards for this field are extremely low.

At this time a scientist guy comes from NASA and teams up with a lady astronomer. They eventually come to the conclusion that a black hole was formed by the meteor and opened up a door to an alternate dimension. Of course this dimension is full of giant spiders. The strange rocks are the source of the spiders hatching tarantulas that eventually grow huge.

The giant spider goes around grabbing people and shoving them up his ass. Well soon a mob is formed but proves incompetent in stopping the spider. Luckily the scientists manage to shoot the spider with a flare gun that melts it and closes off the portal. How well SCIENCE!!! I don’t know what science but obviously some was used.

Alan Hale as the sheriff with is shirt always unbuttoned to show off his sexy chest.

Now this was just an enjoyable treat. You could not get a better movie to riff on. The farmer guy that was in a back brace and not only had a hot wife but a hot girlfriend on the side. If that wasn’t enough he hits on his underage sister-in-law who spends the movie with the least amount of clothing on. Then their is his wife who spends the whole movie drinking. There is like a bottle in every room and for breakfast she dumps a bottle of vodka into the blender with some juice.

Back Brace perv hitting on his underage sister-in-law.

Then there is the giant spider which was a VW covered with fur and had the legs attached. It was driven backwards so the taillights could be used for its red eyes.

Filmed in the small town of Merrill Wisconsin. I actually have family up there and have been to the town to attend some weddings. I can say you aren’t missing much.

And the trailer for the original movie.

Well that is it this year for Rifftrax Live but I do have my tickets for the live Mystery Science Theater 3000 Thirtieth Anniversary show. This November 2 I will be at the Miller High Life Theater for a showing of the classic Jean Claude Van Damme movie No Retreat, No Surrender. So see you then.



Copyright 1992.

ABLE TEAMRazorback by Dick Stivers(David North)

Hermann “Gadgets” Schwarz is part of the three man Able Team. A clandestine group that is part of the organization known as Stony Man. Gadgets was wounded on the last mission and has time off to recover. While visiting his old martial arts instructor he runs into an old comrade from Vietnam. He invites him over to his farm in Arkansas for some razorback boar hunting. He soon finds out his old buddy is in league with a corrupt sheriff. The sheriff is buying stolen military assault rifles from a white supremacist biker gang and selling it to Colombian drug lords. Soon he finds himself fighting for his life while waiting for his teammates to rescue him.

PHOENIX FORCESurvival Run by Gar Wilson(Mike Linaker)

The U.S. Secretary of State is kidnapped while visiting Saudi Arabia. The group Hammer of Allah is a radical Shiite group lead by the Iranian Abu Niad. The group plans to execute the secretary and broadcast it live on July 4. So Phoenix Force a clandestine group is assigned to rescue him. The search takes the team from Saudi Arabia, to Lebanon and finally an exciting rescue at the terrorists camp in Libya.

VIETNAM: GROUND ZEROZebra Cube by David Baxter(Nicolas Cain)

A high level prisoner exchange is taking place on the Cambodian border. Captain Tate and his squad are to oversee the exchange. Only problem is a renegade Arvin police chief Quac is against this exchange and attempts to stop it. The exchange is really a cover for the NVA to go after a high ranking prisoner General Tran. Tran has been imprisoned in the notorious Zebra Cube so named because of its black and white stripe paint job. A shipping container that is constantly moved. Now Tate and his men must stop the NVA from freeing this notorious prisoner.

So back in the early nineties Gold Eagle decided to merge three of their titles into this anthology series. I got this because it has a lost story from Vietnam: Ground Zero an excellent series. First they decided to give the series a whole new face-lift. A new house name was assigned to the author and new characters were created. It was assigned to the writer of the excellent Saigon Commandos series. He did an excellent job of this story. There was also a subplot about a member of the team returning home to Indiana to attend his parents funeral and getting involved with a Vietnamese stripper. It actually tied in to the main plot. This was also the last Vietnam: Ground Zero ever written. Why they decided to abandon the story I have no idea. Possibly by the nineties the Vietnam war craze was dying down and it didn’t hold much appeal anymore. Still an enjoyable take on the series.

The other two stories are spin offs from the popular Mack Bolan The Executioner series. It involved a clandestine organization called Stony Man that fought the various threats to America. Able Team handled domestic threats while Phoenix Force the international ones. I always wanted to try these series out and now I got my chance. I will say that they were very well written. I read the other stories in the next two anthologies and can say the quality was consistent as we will explore in future posts. I have no doubt that more books are in my future.



Copyright 1942.

Four young children Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny are recently orphaned after their parents die. They go to a bakery looking for food. They offer to work for the food but soon have to flee when it becomes apparent the old couple who run the bakery plan to use them as slave labor and take the youngest to the orphanage. While fleeing in the country they come on an abandoned boxcar and use it for shelter from an approaching storm. After the storm they decide to live in the abandoned boxcar. They dam up the stream for a pool to bath in. They scrounge in the dumb for old plates and stuff to build furniture. They build a stove. The older brother Henry gets a job doing odd jobs from a kindly old doctor who still lives with his mother. They also find a dog and name him Watch. Life is idyllic for the young children until one of them gets ill and they must risk the adults finding out about them.

I guess I’m getting a bit nostalgic for the old books of my childhood. This book was read to us from first to fifth grade and I always enjoyed it. There is something cool about living in an abandoned boxcar when your a child. This book always did make me want to do just that. A spoiler is there is a happy ending. They find their grandfather who isn’t a mean man but very kindly. Also a loaded guy for he lives in a mansion and can afford to bring the old boxcar to his home for the kids to play in. This book does strike a nerve with most children for it was a highly popular book. What I didn’t know is that there is a whole series where the kids graduated to solving mysteries. It’s popularity lead the author to write nineteen books in the series until her death in 1979. The series continues to this day and there are hundreds of Boxcar Children mystery books written by many different authors. An idea that lives on to this day.



Copyright 1983.

On the plains east of Brythunia a falling star comes down. The priests of a nearby ziggurat claim it with the high priest Thotas planning to use it to gather power. The local villagers believe the star to be an evil omen and under the headman Bo-ugan form an army. They go to the ziggurat with the intention of destroying the star. A fight ensues with a stalemate as a result. So for ten years the priest of the ziggurat and the surrounding villages fight a grueling siege. Sonja finds herself hired as a mercenary on the side of the villagers. She has a friend named Daron who has a plan to break the siege. Darion is the son of the powerful wizard Odurac. He plans to enlist him in the fight for the ziggurat. So Sonja and Darion go on a quest. A quest that may determine the fate of the world.

The final Red Sonja book in the series. I also found it the weakest of the lot. It starts out strong but bogs down in the middle with the quest. Also the romance between Sonja and Daron has no chemistry and wasn’t very believable. Now that still doesn’t mean that this book is not worth getting. As I said it starts out with a strong opening that grabs your interest. It also picks up toward to end to a very exciting conclusion. I was sorry to see this series end. I found it an enjoyable read and these two authors managed to write some unique and exciting scenarios for Sonja.

Red Sonja has become very popular now days with the success of the Dynamite comic series. She travels through time and has team-up adventures with all sorts of other famous characters. I would think that there would be an interest in new books with her. She is one of my favorite female comic characters. Anyway this limited series from the eighties was a fun and enjoyable read.



Copyright 1983.

Sonja gets a case of mountain-fever while riding through the mountains of southern Shem. She passes out but luckily is rescued by Lord Omeron. Omeron was the ruler of the city-state of Thesrad until the wizard Du-jum and his Kushite mercenaries conquered it. With his sorcery and the treachery of his wife Omeron and his faithful followers escaped into the hills. Sonja seeing parallels to the city of Suthad and grateful for being rescued agrees to join his rebellion. Also joining is the mysterious woman Ilura. Ilura is the daughter of Du-jum and can turn into a giant snake and control other snakes. Thus Omeron and the others infiltrate the city to attack Du-jum. For Du-jum has taken the city because it contains a passage to Hell underneath it. He plans to enlist the forces of Hell to conquer the world. Now its up to Sonja to lead the forces of resistance to free the city and save the world.

Well the fifth book at first sounded like a rehash of the first novel. A city-state taken by an evil wizard. But the similarities end there. This was otherwise a completely original story. I think this is my favorite of the Red Sonja novels these two wrote. A very exciting story with a colorful cast of characters. From the evil wizard and the treacherous wife that aids him. A woman who can turn into a giant snake and control hordes of other snakes against the wizard who uses hordes of birds to defeat his enemies. Unlike their first two books this one has a happy ending for the city-state involved. These two authors had a good grasp on the character and wrote some very interesting stories.



Copyright 1982.

Count Endithor is a noble in the city of Shadizar The Wicked in Zamora. He is caught conducting a human sacrifice ritual to eliminate his rivals. His rivals set him up and now use this to have Endithor executed in a publicly painful manner. His daughter doesn’t take this well and starts to study the dark arts to get revenge on Count Nalor. Nalor is allied with Lord Kus who is secretly an ancient vampire. Into this dispute is Red Sonja who is just trying to relax between mercenary jobs. Her friend Sendes works for Nalor. One day Endithor’s daughter mesmerizes him into trying to kill his employer Nalor. It fails forcing him to flee for his life. He seeks out his friend Sonja for help. Now Sonja finds herself in the middle of this war between an ancient vampire and a vengeful daughter. To make it worse the vampire Kus has an infatuation with Sonja and plans to make her his undead slave. She must now survive without becoming a vampire herself.

The fourth book in the series is another strong entry. It shifts the action to a new location with new evil magical foes. These two authors have been good in making every new book fresh and not seem like a rehash of the last one. Sonja once again proves herself capable of taking on a much superior magical foe and using her wits to defeat them. Another excellent book in the Red Sonja series.