Copyright 1982.

Red Sonja is serving as a mercenary in a garrison at the Zamoran border. One night the captain is murdered and the real murderer accuses Sonja of the crime. So she is forced to flee into the desert. Sonja comes on a small city-state called Elkad. Right away the place gives off a bad vibe what with the corpses of young women hanging from the gate. Seems this city makes regular sacrifices of young maidens to appease the Earth-folk. Soon the newly promoted Captain Kelkum the real murderer arrives with troops. He desires Sonja and has become obsessed with possessing her. Soon Sonja flees into the desert and meets the mysterious sorcerer Saureb. She finds out that Elkad will soon pay for its crimes as the stars are aligning and the Earth-folk will come to destroy the city.

So the second book in the series is another strong entry. Once again a strong supernatural presence with sorcery. Only this time the sorcerer turns out to be a good guy. There is plenty of action as the various factions in the city and the newly arrived Zamorans fight it out. It ends with a big epic destruction of Elkad. Smith and Tierney show that they have an understanding of the character and can write some engaging stories. These are true gems of sword and sorcery.




Copyright 1981.

Sonja is in Koth at a tavern enjoying some ale when a young man comes in looking for mercenaries. His Lord Olin needs to retake his city-state of Suthad from the wizard Asroth. She decide the gold is good and signs up. She finds herself in the army of Lord Olin and soon into the fight against sorcery. First its a horde of flying demons. Then they reach Suthad and find it devastated and have to fight tentacles that come out of the ground. At Suthad Sonja finds what the wizard Asroth was looking for The Ring of Ikribu. A ring that was created by the dark god Ikribu and could give the wizard power to rule the world. So she continues on in Olin’s army and fights zombies, the cult of Ikribu which wants the ring to stop Asroth and Duke Pelides. The mysterious Pelides once was a servant of Asroth until he failed him and was cursed with a deformed face. Now he seeks revenge and will crush anyone who gets in his way. Along the way Sonja falls in love with Olin which ends tragically. It ends with a final confrontation at Asroth’s castle.

So this is the first of six books that were written about Red Sonja. There is a forward by Roy Thomas the creator of the character. An obscure character from a historical story by Robert E. Howard, Thomas adopted it into the Hyborian age to give Conan a strong female companion to encounter for adventures. She managed to move on to her own series which you can read about on my comic blog.

So the book is an excellent read. The story is full of interesting characters that you come to care for. The writers stay true to the character created in the comics. It has plenty of sorcery and action. I read that the authors created a screenplay hoping it would be used for the upcoming movie that was planned. You couldn’t go wrong in using it. If they used it for the movie that was made it probably would have been better remembered. I still hear talk of a new movie in development. They might want to consider seeking out this script.



So its that time of year for another Rifftrax Live. This time the 2017 sci-fi adventure Star Raiders The Adventures of Saber Raine. First though we were treated to an educational short from the sixties or seventies called Values: Telling the Truth. In it a school teacher talks to her class about telling the truth. He tells the story of three boys who were the best of friends. One day while out playing they come on a cement mixer. This fascinates them to no end. The guy putting in a decorative slab with small rocks in it offers the boys the left over rocks. They scoop them up into their pockets like they were gems. Then they go around and throw them at things like trees and fire hydrants. They come on a towel innocently hanging there and throw. Unfortunately the rocks go through the kitchen window and into some old bitty’s soup. She comes running out and catches the one that just stands there and berates him. The end. Not really sure what the moral of the story was supposed to be. Don’t hang around and get caught was what it told me.

Our heroes.

So it starts with a blue reptile woman being chased by some ships. Saber Raine comes and inserts himself between them so the reptile can escape but earns the wrath of his own people. So years later we find him slumming on some planet.

Hot chick and her father and uncle.

Some girl with red eyes and two men in their cosplay Punisher costumes with a half a sunglass are being attacked by zombie mutants. Saber decides to insert himself at the last minute. Seems these guys are there to rescue a kidnapped prince and princess from the evil Sinjin. A guy who had such a big zit that it literally popped off the top of his skull.

Man this guy was too late with the Clearasil.

Anyway we later find out he is in league with the princess Calliope. This leaves the prince who looks like K.D. Lang as the good guy. Well there is a whole convoluted plot with them traveling this planet and fighting off the various alien minions. They eventually rescue the prince and return him to his homeworld. At the end there is a hint of a sequel as Calliope and Sinjin arrive on a planet with giant robots to further their universe conquest plans.

I eat flies.

Well they sure picked a winner with this one. The plot was incomprehensible and convoluted as hell. The dialogue was atrocious and the acting as wooden as a redwood. Still this is my type of movie. It reminds me of the ones I rented back in the eighties and nineties.

Can’t get this app to work.

There is a charm to it. Some auteur who gets some local talent and friends together. Dusts off the old Commodore 64 for some special effects and has enough money to hire Casper Van Dien the friendliest of the Diens. Oh and they had some for a very brief cameo by Cynthia Rothrock who was in many martial arts films from the eighties and nineties. Yes this was definitely an enjoyable film and worthy of riffing on.

Evil princess with evil aliens.

So an encore presentation will play this Tuesday.

And in August the final movie of the year. The Giant Spider Invasion.



Copyright 1986.

In this future dystopian world society is highly chaste based. There are the professionals or those with technical skills and live in enclaves and the untouchables which are the vast poor. Both sides have one thing in common the Arena. In this future professional wrestlers compete in gladiatorial games. Games that are fought with a variety of weird weapons and to the death. Lately there have been a growing number of desertions from the military. A group known as Aiki or in Japaneses spiritual harmony has been spreading.

Into this comes Capitan who is a monitor in the group and runs a dojo in Brooklyn. His involvement eventually gets him involved with the Arena. The main champion Mantis who started the blood sports and wants to fight Capitan. A novel filled with deep mystical eastern philosophy of good and evil battle for the future.

So this book is one that by mom found in the dollar bin at Walgreens and thought I would like. She said it reminded her of the movie The Running Man which we had just recently seen. Yes there are some similarities with a future of gladiator death sports televised. I remember that when I read this a new game show called American Gladiators had come out. No to the death fights on it but got me wondering if that was the future down the road. It still does since a decaying society does turn to more extreme bread and circuses.

Now this was a book I would have never bought on my own. The title doesn’t engage me and the cover was also not that exciting. Which is probably why it was in the dollar bin at Walgreens. I found this to be an enjoyable read. A future where the government had infiltrated the martial arts to coop them. There was a sort of hubris to how the death sports in the Arena came about. Mantis at a match in Tokyo asked the audience for a thumbs up or down. When they gave the thumbs down he obliged. Then argued in court that it was hypocritical for the government to allow lethal weapons in the Arena that did at times result in death but condemn him when he follows the will of the audience. A somewhat believable outcome for a society in decay.

Capitan and Mantis are the personification of good and evil. There is a lot of deep mysticism to the story. I found that reading this the future it envisioned didn’t seem that dated after all these years. Sure there are some things like a Soviet Union still around and they use land lines. Otherwise the future was still believable. This was John Gilbert’s first and to my knowledge only novel. A nice little happy accident thanks to my mom.



Copyright 1988.

Matt and Dani are crossing the desolate plains when a hailstorm starts to pelt them with baseball sized hail. They manage to find shelter in an abandoned truck stop. Only the truck stop isn’t abandoned but home to an old man named Sarge. They find out that Denver is just ahead. So they trade their matches for some cream corn and Dentyne. While continuing on they notice fires in the city suggesting inhabitants. Matt gets sick from food poisoning and Dani rides ahead to get help. She finds that Denver is still standing but mostly abandoned. She is captured by the survivors who think she is part of the biker slavers that have been terrorizing them.

She eventually gets help from a young man named Brian who helps her rescue Matt and they also manage to sabotage the bikes of the slavers. So the two settle in with the six hundred other residents of Denver. The city survived but most of the population moved south to farm while a few stayed behind. There is a romantic rivalry between Matt and Brian for Dani. Matt decides to continue his quest for California and rides off. Only in the mountains west of the city he makes a discovery. The war has melted the snow and it’s formed into a huge lake. A lake that threatens to burst and flood the city of Denver. So he has to ride back and warn the people of the impending doom of the city.

So the fourth book has our two teens find some civilization still existing in the world. This is the first time they have run into a working society since the war. With the people we get a rival for the affections of the young Dani. Of course Dani chooses Matt and the two continue on after the city of Denver is wiped out. Some interesting revelations are that the town of Fair Oaks that they started from was in New Jersey. So they have been making their way across the entire country. They made it to Denver and sadly that is where the series ends. We never get to find out if they made it to California and found Matt’s family. And they came so close too.

So this was an enjoyable series. An early YA post-apocalypse series before they became popular. Also a rare one which I was lucky to find for a reasonable price on E-bay. Surprised I never found it when it original came out for I jumped on any post-nuke series back in those days. This one goes back to the American version of covers with the Lou Diamond Phillip and Megan Fox lookalikes on the cover which I prefer over the British ones. The authors were a husband and wife team that lived in New York and wrote over thirty books most of them targeted to teens. Not sure if I will ever try any of their other works but this was an enjoyable series.



Copyright 1987.

Matt and Dani are continuing their travel to California. Riding across the plains they are caught in a sand storm. A tall mountain seems to be the the only shelter from the storm. They find a cave and are able to take shelter. While settling in their supplies and then the horses are stolen. Someone is in the caves. They soon discover three kids that were on a field trip to the caves of Thunder Mountain when the nuclear war occurred. Soon after they discover that the valley next to the mountain has wild animals from around the world running loose. They are saved at the last minute by an attacking lion by George Fulton. Fulton and his wife are all that’s left of the small town next to the mountain. He was a vet that took care of the animals at the nearby safari park. They now care for the animals. The Fultons offer to take in the kids and Matt and Dani. It seems like a nice place to live after the holocaust. But on the horizon is a swarm of locusts that are eating everything in sight. Now they must race against time to save themselves and the animals.

The third book in the series now has our two teens finding a nice place to settle down. They have to think about continuing their travels to an uncertain California or settle into a stable place. I like this series for it portrays teens as you would think they would behave in the situations. There is also the continuing romance that is blossoming between the two in a realistic manner. This is one of the British editions instead of the American so the cover is quite different. I don’t like the British one. The teens on the cover don’t look anywhere near seventeen.



Copyright 1987.

Matt and Dani are continuing their trek to California after the nuclear holocaust. They come upon a major obstacle in a large river. So they manage to make a crude raft and barely make it over the rushing river. On the other side they come on an abandoned cabin stocked with food. They have their first good night sleep. Only in the morning the owner of the cabin comes and threatens them with a shotgun. In the struggle the man is injured. After they talk an agreement is reached. Matt and Dani will take care of the owner until his injury is healed. In exchange they will learn survival skills. The man Payne Ordway show them valuable skills in hunting, foraging and riding horses. As the time comes for them to leave they must fight off a gang of scavengers.

So the second book has our heroes Matt and Dani find this man who is a survivalist. He teaches them useful skills such as knowing its OK to eat Pussy Willows. Apparently the stalks taste like asparagus and the roots like potatoes. Only the brown hot dog like end tastes like paper but still edible. That’s kind of interesting and may come in handy some time. They also get two horses to help them on the journey. Another fun entry in this YA series that has the two teens continue to grow as characters in this post-nuclear world.