Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Monday, June 27, 2011

Still Missing on DVD: I, The Jury (1982)

So, Robert Aldrich's Mickey Spillane film "adaptation," Kiss Me Deadly came out on Blu-ray last week (I haven't picked it up yet, but it's a priority purchase, and I hope to get my hands on it soon), and My Gun Is Quick came out on Manufacture-On-Demand DVD from MGM earlier this month (you can read my review HERE), but there's another Spillane-based film that has never been released on DVD that I would very much like to add to my library, and that's 1982's I, The Jury, directed by Richard T. Heffron from a screenplay by Larry Cohen.

Starring Armand Assante as Mike Hammer and Barbara Carrera as the flick's femme fatale, I, The Jury takes great liberties with the Spillane source novel (as do the other films mentioned above), but is chock-full of sleazy, drive-in movie energy. The cinematography has something of a TV movie look (at least, it does on the pan & scan VHS print; the only one available for the last thirty years - presumably, it would look better in its correct theatrical widescreen aspect ratio), but it's gleefully violent, filled with gratuitous nudity, and Assante plays Hammer with a nice psychotic edge. Cohen's script is wryly humorous and damned sexy, and the supporting cast - which includes Laurene Landon, Paul Sorvino, Judson Scott and Geoffrey Lewis - is great. I also love Bill Conti's jazzy score.

It was not a box office success, and it's not really remembered fondly by most people (at least, not on the IMDb), but I've loved it ever since I first rented the tape as a teenager. It's not at all faithful to Spillane's novel (except the ending), but it's not a 50s period piece, either. As a product of the early 80s, I think it updates the Spillane style quite appropriately. Everything's more cynical and graphic - and that was the early 1980s, all over.

It was originally released by American Cinema, one of the first "big" films from the scrappy little studio that had made the early Chuck Norris vehicles A Force Of One and The Octagon. The VHS was issued not long after its theatrical showings by CBS/Fox - but that particular entity no longer exists, with CBS and Fox having long ago gone their separate corporate ways. A few of the American Cinema titles made it to DVD a few years ago (albeit as pan & scan, budget-priced discs from Trinity Entertainment), but I, The Jury wasn't among them, so I wonder if the rights are tied up elsewhere?

I'd love to see I, The Jury make it to DVD (or, better yet, Blu-ray); maybe a quality cult label like Blue Underground or Severin Films could untangle the rights and give it a digital upgrade.

I hope so - my VHS tape is nearly worn out.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Zoe. Photo by Brandi
Why, yes. I have decided to post more pictures of my pets lately. Your point?

Friday, June 24, 2011

R.I.P. Gene Colan

Legendary comics artist, Gene Colan, has passed away at age 84, after several years of poor health. His career was astounding, beginning in 1944 and continuing until just a few years ago. He drew everything - for everybody - including definitive runs on super-hero titles like Iron Man, Daredevil and Sub-Mariner, but personally, I was most familiar with his crime and horror books, particularly those published in the 80s. His lush and distinctive penciling style was perfect for the the moody, atmospheric genres of noir and supernatural suspense.

More information about his life and his passing, from his friends and colleagues, can be found HERE and HERE.  Rest in Peace, Mister Colan, and thanks for all the beautifully-drawn thrills and chills.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


This looks like fun! Jason Statham, Clive Owen and Robert De Niro team-up for Killer Elite (not to be confused with Sam Peckinpah's 1975 thriller, The Killer Elite). According to the synopsis on the IMDb:  
When his mentor (De Niro) is taken captive, a retired member of Britain's Elite Special Air Service (Statham) is forced into action. His mission: kill three assassins dispatched by their cunning leader (Owen). 
Not sure about Owen's moustache, though...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wednesday Cover: Mike Shayne

In 1962, Dell Comics published three issues of Mike Shayne, Private Eye, based on the character created by Brett Halliday. Issue #2 is the only one of these I actually own. Neither the Grand Comic Book Database nor I know the name of the uncredited artist who painted that gorgeous, two-fisted cover, but man, it's sweet.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

China. Photo by Brandi


My Internet pal Jack Badelaire digs old Men's Adventure fiction - you know, stuff like The Executioner, The Destroyer, Nick Carter: Killmaster, Ninja Master, Able Team, et al - as much, or more, than I do. But he's not satisfied just reading old paperbacks until they crumble to dust in his hands, he blogs about them. And now, he's launching an e-zine, Hatchet Force Journal, available at Amazon for the Kindle, dedicated to their testosterone-fueled legacy - as well as the genre's present & future.

Early this morning, I came across the cover image that Jack had created for his 'zine, and as a guy who made his living for 25 years as a graphic artist and art director, I thought it could use some improvement.

Brief rant: In general, I think that 90% of the images I see as "covers" for e-books and 'zines are truly horrid, and although I know they don't serve quite the same purpose as covers on hardcopy print volumes, I believe that the authors and publishers of these publications are not doing themselves any favors with - frankly - crap artwork. Generic stock photos, hastily-applied text with ill-chosen fonts, garish color choices... well, I sincerely believe that these "covers" are another reason that this bibliophile has no interest in buying any of these virtual publications. They turn me off.

Honestly, though, Jack's original cover wasn't as bad as all that, just lacking cohesion -- so, as I've been itching to knock out a magazine cover again, and I really dig the concept of Jack's 'zine, it seemed like it would be fun to do. Using the same art and copy from his original layout, I tried to give it an old Soldier of Fortune flavor, with a bit of my old tabloid newspaper "flair" (if you want to call it that). For the logo, I attempted something that evoked the Gold Eagle paperbacks (Able Team, Phoenix Force) design style.

Anyway, I spent about an hour, hour-and-a-half on it, and e-mailed it off to Jack this morning. He liked it, and I've agreed to design the covers for any future issues as well.

Check out Jack's blog, Post-Modern Pulps, and remember, you can buy the first issue of his new e-zine here: Hatchet Force Journal Issue #1

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Week @ The Late Show

It's that time again: another reminder that I also write regular reviews of cult, B-movie and genre DVD and Blu-Rays, and publish them over at my DVD Late Show website.

After a couple of weeks of me not feeling much like watching - never mind reviewing- movies, I'm back on my game. This week, in fact, I intend to have a minimum of two reviews posted each day, and I'm off to a good start. Today's reviews are High School Hellcats and the latest animated DC Comics super-hero film, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights. For tomorrow, I have My Gun Is Quick and Mega Python Vs Gatoroid already written and queued up.

Other recent reviews include: Queen of Blood with John Saxon, Dennis Hopper and Basil Rathbone; the new Blu-ray restoration of The Terror, with Jack Nicholson and Boris Karloff; The Dorm That Dripped Blood on Blu-ray; Lee Marvin & Oliver Reed in The Great Scout And Cathouse Thursday; Tom Selleck in Daughters of Satan; the animated adventures of Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos; the stylish film noir with Antonio Banderas, The Big Bang; Ballistica; Lynda Carter in Bobbi Jo And the Outlaw; The Bionic Woman, Season Two; The Challenge Of The Gobots; the Blu-ray remaster of Francis Coppolla's Dementia 13; and Shout! Factory's great new Eat My Dust / Grand Theft Auto double feature with Ron Howard. Check it out!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Wednesday Cover: Green Lantern

It's been a long time since I've posted a "Wednesday Cover," but as I'm trying to post here regularly again, I decided to revive the feature - and what better way to start than with this iconic Green Lantern cover by my pal Joe Staton? I still love the Green Lantern oath - and get a chill when I hear Ryan Reynolds recite it in the trailer for the new movie.

As you may suspect, I'm very much looking forward to seeing Martin Campbell's Green Lantern film in a couple weeks. I may even break down and pay to see it in 3-D.

Hobo WIth A Shotgun

Back when the Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino Grindhouse double feature was released - with its accompanying bogus trailers for non-existent exploitation films - the studio held a contest for aspiring filmmakers to create their own fake "grindhouse" trailers. The winner of that contest was Canadian filmmaker Jason Eisener, and his trailer was for a violent urban vigilante flick called Hobo With A Shotgun. Nasty, violent, and politically incorrect, Eisener's trailer had a nicely authentic, suitably sleazy grindhouse flavor.

But, just as Rodriguez's fake trailer, Machete, led to an actual feature, so did Hobo, and it's due out on video in July after limited theatrical showings. I'm looking forward to checking it out on disc next month. The trailer above is for the actual feature, and stars Rutger Hauer in the lead (I love his soliloquy in the trailer above). David Brunt, who played the hobo in the original trailer, apparently has a role in the feature as a cop.

Here is the original faux trailer:

Monday, June 06, 2011

Private Eyes on Netflix Instant

Just discovered a couple of private eye flicks that I've never seen before are now available on Netflix Instant: Blake Edwards' 1967 Peter Gunn feature, Gunn, and the 1957 Mickey Spillane adaptation, My Gun Is Quick, "introducing" Robert Bray as Mike Hammer.

Weirdly, Netflix's print of Gunn has French titles and credits, and is, unfortunately, presented in pan & scan instead of its proper 1.85:1 aspect ratio. This makes certain scenes very cramped, and, in the case of a love scene between Craig Stevens and Laura Devon (replacing the TV show's Lola Albright as Gunn's main squeeze, Edie), disturbingly intimate. Still, I'm grateful for the opportunity to finally see it; to the best of my knowledge, it's never been released on U.S. home video, and I've never stumbled across it on TV.

My Gun Is Quick has a bad reputation among Spillane fans and film buffs, but as it's a 50s Mike Hammer film, I've wanted to see it for years. Even if it's bad, it will be cool seeing the Mike Hammer character in his proper time and setting, shot while the books were still the hottest things on the shelves. Like Gunn, I don't think it's ever been on video, and it eluded me for decades on cable TV. It is coming out on manufactured-on-demand DVD-R from the MGM Limited Collector's Edition line in a month or so, but I'd like to see it before shelling out cash to buy a copy for my collection... so....

I found both of these completely by accident - Netflix's instant titles are infuriatingly difficult to search through. There are some surprising - and rare - gems hidden in there, but they're damned hard to find.