Space Zombie Bingo!!! – Movie Review

Kiss your rental fee goodbye

It’s been a long time since I have been outside of these dark dungeon walls. I’m not sure if I can remember the last time I felt fresh air blowing past my face as I struggled to keep my top hat upon my head. But I do remember when video stores were a real thing. And I remember a time when a film like Space Zombie Bingo!!! might lie on the shelves in hopeful anticipation of an evening rental.

This film is uniquely of that era. Have you ever heard of a found footage film? This is a stock footage film. A similar movie would be Plan 9 From Outer Space. This film is almost a reboot of that movie. At the time, reboots weren’t really a thing, so I can’t quite call it that. It mixes live acting with stock footage that movie studios let anyone use for free without any strings attached. They throw in some horrible effects like fake weapons blasts and body parts that are supposed to look like they have been cut off etc. It combines for a stunningly cheesey effect.

I wish I could give you a good summary of the plot here but that’s essentially impossible with this film. It’s insanely disjointed but I’ll give it a go. It’s so disjointed I think calling it an actual movie might be a bit of a stretch. Like, a downward facing dog across the Grand Canyon size of a stretch.

The film starts off with a voice over telling us what is going to happen. There are space robot zombies that are trying to take over Earth. As far as the plot goes, it’s pretty basic but the way it plays out is, totally nuts. So there are alien invaders with weapons that outmatch ours. These space robots want to destroy or take over the earth and then the military fights back. Luckily a mad scientist is able to engineer a weapon in order to fight back against the invaders and Earth is once again safe.

The film is grainy and scratchy like most from the late eighties or early nineties. It’s full of bad pun dad jokes. The love interest is named Barbie Queue while the heroic military soldier is named Kent Bendover. The news station featured is K-I-L-L. It does not improve from there.

During one portion of the movie, the news anchor literally looks into the camera and says that you paid $3 to rent this so you might as well watch it or your money is wasted. Pretty sure your money is wasted anyway. They are also sure to point out that they are telling you this after the fifteen minute mark. Video stores used to do a thing where if you watched more than fifteen minutes of a video, you couldn’t take it back and get your money returned. That was the policy of most places but sometimes you could rewind and lie and get your money back anyway. They later added a mechanism to prevent that.

The space robot zombies wear a cardboard suit that basically looks like a reject from a lost episode of Dr. Who some time in the 1970’s. And in one scene, there are mannequins that have been dismembered and painted with fake blood as the narrator assures us that those are real actual humans who have been dismembered and NOT, painted mannequins.

This film revels in it’s awfulness and that kinda makes it almost great. Of course the acting is far below the level of a third grade Thanksgiving play production. But some of the more hilarious things are in the actual plot. In order to destroy the space robot zombies, the military decides to nuke the earth. Barbie Queue gets mad at Kent Bendover because he doesn’t park his jeep far enough from the mushroom cloud. They both survive of course, but then Kent is abducted by the aliens. There he makes a umm… let’s say “friendly connection” with one of them. This alien wants to go to Earth and live in peace with the “Earthians” and be Kent’s wife, never mind the fact that this alien would want to eat every other human for dinner. But we Earthians are lucky because Kent (the guy who had the idea to nuke the Earth) has tricked this alien to coming back where it can be dissected. A brilliant scientist who we know is brilliant because he wears a lab coat (don’t they all?) is able to discover through looking at a fake helmet and some seriously fake looking guts that the thing is made of “Pure Evil”. The only thing that can stop them is the solaranite bomb. If you are wondering if that is the same weapon used in Plan 9 From Outer Space you would be right, and you have seen too many bad movies. Welcome to the club! Also, they straight up say that they ripped the weapon off from another movie, in case there were any doubts.

Also, the narrator turns out to be this psychic guy who can predict what is about to happen. He doesn’t seem to do anything about it, but he knows it’s coming. So between the scientist and the narrator we know that we need to use that Solaranite weapon on the zombies, We do. The end comes stunningly abruptly and what’s left of Earth gets to live happily ever after.

However, I think I have to say that my absolute favorite part of this movie comes when the nuclear bombs are about to be dropped on major cities all across the globe. The news anchors tell the audience that they will be safe as long as they cover themselves in wet newspapers. Yep, wet newspapers will totally work!

Honestly, with this film, I don’t think they could have made something worse if they tried. And I believe they tried. Very hard. If that’s what they were going for, so that they could bilk a sixteen year old out of his allowance in 1993 by putting the words Space, Zombie and bingo (because teenagers really love bingo) on the cover, with a picture of women in bikinis holding a machine gun, they succeeded. I should mention that the women with the machine guns in bikinis never appear in the movie. Neither does bingo.

I can’t imagine this film made much money if any at all but any that it did was definitely through trickery. It’s an awesome spectacle of horrendously bad taste and worse film making. This is the kind of thing that will one day end up in the congressional library as an example of what not to do when making a movie. It should be watched. Late at night when you really have nothing else to do, this is perfect for the sheer spectacle of badness.

I can’t imagine that I can actually watch something worse than this. But then again, the next film on my dusty shelves is Attack of the Tromaggot! so we’ll see.

Dolefully yours,

Slick Dungeon


Dare to Die (Death on Demand Series #19) – Book Review

I have questions

Slick Dungeon here. What are the odds that a person with the last name of Dungeon is trapped in a dungeon? I’d say pretty high since here I am. I’ve slogged through another mystery book this week. While Death on Demand was actually not a bad book exactly, it left me with many questions.

If you like tight little mystery books, seriously you could do worse than this one. It is the 19th in a series though, so at points I was a little lost as I haven’t read the others. But I have questions. So many questions. One of them involves salty snacks and soda fizz. This book led my mind to some strange places.

The story centers on a bookshop owner who runs a little place called Death on Demand, that sells mystery books. Apparently, Annie, the bookstore owner has been involved in solving some crimes in the past, including clearing her own name and later her husband’s name of murder. For this entry in the series, a young woman named Iris comes back to the island everyone in the book lives on, gets invited to a party that Annie is hosting and winds up dead. Annie, her husband and the local police solve the murder. Since this book is a decent enough read I am not going to spoil the plot too much in case anyone wants to read it. But I am going to ask a few questions. If you have answers, let me know in the comments.


  1. Does every mystery author have to name drop Agatha Christie?
  2. There’s a pretty funny part with Annie’s mother-in-law who teaches Tai-Chi in the bookshop. How big is this store? Is there really room to do Tai-Chi?
  3. If it weren’t for the deaths I would say this book is full of first world problems, these people drive around in golf carts, have oyster roasts and are moving into this big house. So my question is, who did they kill to get all that money?
  4. Okay, so if Annie was once suspected of murder, and so was her husband, Max, why the heck would cops be so friendly with these people? Cops can be jerks (not all cops but some) when you haven’t done a thing so why be so deferential to two people who keep getting wrapped up in murder cases? Nothing suspicious here!
  5. With all these deaths on the island of Broward’s Rock, why do people freaking live here? I mean the scenery seems nice and all, other than the dead bodies you seem to practically trip over.
  6. If Annie and Max have solved crimes before, and their friends who might be suspects in this murder investigation know it, why would anyone talk to Annie and Max? I mean the killer does try to kill them but why lead them on at all. Hey Annie and Max, – bang your dead, seems like a more effective way of silencing them to me.
  7. More to the point, if Annie and Max have been framed for murder, and presumably almost been killed before why o why would they talk to people who might have murdered someone else? That’s just asking for it.
  8. Okay, so ignoring questions 6 and 7, let’s say it was fine for these people to talk to Annie and Max, they are not police. Whatever evidence they gather wouldn’t really be admissible in court would it? So what’s the point? Let the cops do their jobs in this case guys!
  9. As a way of deluding herself into thinking that she isn’t really getting involved in the case, but helping Iris’ soul to find peace, Annie calls all of Iris’ old friends to get information for a “spirit poster”. Is that a real thing? I mean what is that? I get having nice blow up pictures of the deceased for funerals but seriously, is a spirit poster a thing? Everyone in the book seems to know what that is and I was like, what is a freaking spirit poster?
  10. At one point in the book a character says this, “Of course I can smell. It’s my head that hurts not my nose.” Are noses no longer considered part of the head?
  11. Does this book have to name drop ever mystery book and author that ever lived? Here’s a quote from the book, “She had delighted last week in pointing out to Annie the little-known fact that the office of Charlaine Harris, bestselling author of the Sookie Stackhouse Southern vampire series was decorated with black-and-white photos of New Orleans grave art. Annie wondered if Charlaine Harris enjoyed Sarah Stewart Taylor’s mysteries that celebrated funerary art.” I wonder if Carolyn Hart had a word count to fulfill and realized paragraphs like the one quoted above would help her with that.
  12. No but seriously, is it every mystery book ever? Here’s another quote,”A poster of Allies Day, May 1917 by Childe Hassam rested on an easel. Annie nodded her approval when she saw the books with their roots in World War I: The Murder Stone by Charles Todd, Angels in the Gloom by Anne Perry, Pardonable Lies by Jaqueline Win-spear, The Mark of the Lion by Suzanne Arruda, and Twenty-Three and a Half Hour’s Leave by Mary Roberts Rineheart.” The book is littered with passages like these. So many mystery novels, so many. Yo Dawg, I heard you like mysteries so I put a mystery in your mystery so you can mystery while you mystery.
  13. An odd quote to me here, “She attracted men from nine to ninety…” Never met a nine year old man myself, but I guess you never know?
  14. This question is my most vital question. I have to know the answer to this. If anyone out there in the internets can answer this, even if you ignore all the rest of my blog post, I will be eternally grateful to you. There is a part in the book where a character asks “You like peanuts in your Coke?” The book seems to indicate this is a southern thing. IS THIS REAL? Like for real, do people do that? If so that utterly blows my mind. Who thought to do that? Where does that come from? Why? Please let me know, my life is incomplete until I have an answer.
  15. Back to the thrust of the book. In one part Annie goes back to the woods where the murder happened and thinks to herself there is no danger now. Why would she think that? Dead bodies, attacks on her life, and the dang crime scene is safe? I don’t think so.
  16. In addition to all the name dropped books, did we have to go into extreme detail about every meal that Annie and Max ate? I get you want to say they are eating dinner but is this necessary? “He deftly served their plates, flounder with mushrooms and sour cream and grilled asparagus for Max, fried oysters on an onion bun and a hot German potato salad for Annie, Two unsweetened iced teas.” I’m no professional writer or script doctor but I think I can safely say, typing out a menu doesn’t drive the plot forward here. Also, Carolyn Hart is totally trying to meet her word count right?
  17. Another quote that struck me as odd, “Nice thing about an island is that everybody’s here unless they’re not.” Isn’t that true of all geographical locations? If I was not in this dungeon, I would not be here. Then again, maybe I’m out. I’ll have to check later. (A few minutes later) Nope, still here.
  18. In the climax of the book, they ask all the suspects to gather at a pavilion. Why would someone smart enough to murder the right people just show up to this?
  19. On that note, just because you know who had motive to kill someone doesn’t mean you have the actual evidence, This happens all the time in mystery novels but you really actually need hard evidence in a murder case and all the motive is just figured out by Annie and Max, I don’t think you’d have to be a good lawyer to get the murderer off. Pretty easy to sow doubt and say, who are these people that got to go interrogate witnesses. What’s the badge number? This is more a criticism of mysteries than this book in particular but it will always bug me.
  20. Are Annie and Max going to start hanging out with Agatha Raisin? I think they could have a nice little serial killers who got away with it brunch together sometime.

Twenty seems like a good round number to end on. Next week I will be back to review A Time to Love (Quilts of Lancaster County Series #1). Is it a quilt with a picture of Lancaster County or just quilts that belong to Lancaster County? Who is Lancaster County anyway? Sounds like a cowboy name to me. Do cowboys like quilts? Why won’t my brain turn off? Anyway.

Despairingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

In Defense of the Awful

Part 2 – Books

Welcome back to the place where the lights are dim, the air is musty, the danger is clear and the media I consume is… awful. Yes, I admit it, by most objective standards the things I watch and read are bad. But I believe they are also, essential.

In my last post in this series (does two count as a series?) I argued why I thought that bad movies were important to exist and even be watched. Today I make my case for bad books.

I’ll admit that I have a harder time defending bad books than I do defending bad movies. Movies have a large structured studio system where in order for any creators to make any real money they have to be a part of it. People can and do produce independent films but it’s a relative term. There are independent films with budgets of ten million dollars. I think we can agree that the majority of us do not have access to that kind of money and unless your film is released by a studio, not that many people are watching.

You might argue that books have something similar. There are large publishing houses and it’s not like just anyone can get published by them. The major authors, people like Stephen King or James Patterson are advertised by companies with serious money to get the word out there. Just like Hollywood can advertise the biggest blockbusters.

Unlike film though, authors can and do write something, put it out there and be published on a large retailer instantly. Don’t believe me? Look at the vast amount of kindle books out there by independent authors. Some of them sell very well. A lot of them are not very good, but due to the subject matter might be purchased frequently.

And with books, unlike films, I think a good story will always rise to the top. Harry Potter isn’t famous due to its advertising budget. Although that certainly helped, that story is flat out brilliant, well written and above all, fun to read.

So who wants there to be bad books around? I do. Why? I ask myself. There are a host of reasons and I will do my best to summarize them all but I may forget a thing or two.

First of all, books cover literally every topic there is. I suppose you might say film does too, but I don’t think film covers as much, otherwise people would not say that certain books are “unfilmable.” Since books cover such a range of experience, books that might be considered bad may actually speak to a person in ways that I wouldn’t relate to. I’d hate for a reader to miss out on that experience.

Some people out there feel like Harry Potter is too tied up in “dark magic” to be okay for children. I obviously think that’s ridiculous but those people will certainly say that Harry Potter is a bad book series. Some of those people want those books to be banned, They want them banned from schools, libraries, bookstores and anywhere else you can pick up reading material. Harry Potter isn’t any kind of hate speech, it isn’t attacking a protected group or assailing an individual in an unfair manner. Yet some people think it deserves to be destroyed.

I flat out disagree with that. We shouldn’t be destroying books, even if we think that they are bad. I know, this is just an argument against censorship, not an argument in favor of badly written books.

Well, here’s one. Sometimes an author can write a bad book and then, write a really good book. I’m not going to name names here but there are authors that I like that had books I could not stand at first, then came out with something that blew me away. If that first book did not exist, then the later book would not have been printed and I would have less joy in my life.

Also, like a bad film, sometimes a bad book can be so bad that it’s good. It’s not so entertaining to read perhaps, but it’s definitely something to talk about. And, personally I like putting my thoughts about these things out there in the world. I can acknowledge how much time and effort it took the author to create something and how much bravery it takes to publish it for all to see. Of course once something is out there in the public sphere, it’s free to be reacted to. My particular reaction happens to be to poke fun at these books.

And, like in film, books that speak to a certain category or group that is underrepresented need to be out there. We need books out there for girls who want to be scientists and boys who want to be ballet dancers. Or books that boys can just relate to and the same for girls.

I guess my argument when it comes to books is that, more is better. The more books we can have out in the world, the more likely someone will have a transformative experience because of it.

Now just because I think Agatha Raisin is a terrible series about a self indulgent woman, whom I simply cannot stand, does not mean anyone else has to think that way. If you love Agatha, love away. I’ll disagree with you but, hey if those books bring you pleasure, entertainment, or make you think, good on you.

It’s hard to know what is bad and what is not in fiction. It’s not something everyone will ever agree on. But don’t you think the right to have what you like and what everyone else likes is important to be protected? Even if the thing being protected is a terrible book? I know I do.

Okay, I am getting off my soap box now. Who left that in here anyway?

Thanks for reading if you got this far. And please, let me know what you think.

Loquaciously yours,

Slick Dungeon

Locked Up – Film Review

Everything is Awkward

Some might say that I am locked up in this dungeon where all I do is read bad books and watch bad films. That’s not technically true as there are no locks on any doors here. There are just creatures as strange as Owlbears and as dangerous as zombies crawling around everywhere, making leaving a bit hard to do. But I have never felt as caged as I did while watching Locked Up.

First a clarification. There is a series on Netflix called Locked Up. I have never watched it so I am not sure if it has anything to do with this film or not. What I am reviewing is the film, not the series.

I think this was perhaps the most uncomfortable viewing experience I have ever had. Here’s a summary of the plot. An American teenager in Southeast Asia gets into a fight, in more or less self defense, bashes a girl’s skull with a pipe and ends up in what is supposed to be a reform school. The place is actually a prison and the women there are forced to do hard labor, be used as sex objects and fight each other, sometimes to the death. The teenager who is sent there has to win a fight in order to be released from the prison. That’s the whole plot, not much more I can expand on here. But I’ll get into the cringe for ya, cause believe me, you don’t want to watch this.

I’m going to start off with the normal things that I point out in a bad film. In a lot of them, these things can make a film so bad it’s good. In this one it just adds to the whole uncomfortable viewing experience.

The acting in this film could not have been more wooden if the actors were made out of popsicle sticks. The performances are so bad, it makes you want to reach through the screen and ask these women, “Are you ok? What life choices lead you here?” It’s really such bad acting that I can’t even consider it funny.

The score for this whole film is supposed to be ominous, in a creepy buildup to the climactic last fight but the pacing of the film is so slow that all it did was make my eyelids droop. I seriously nearly fell asleep several times trying to watch this.

The concept of this movie was not original but they could have had a creative take on it, considering the location they were shooting and the shift from these types of films usually being male led. They blew that chance by about twenty miles.

The fight choreography in this film is pretty much non-existent. The women who are supposed to be portrayed as deadly are often shown in a gym punching a bag. You can see that there is no power in the punches. And the actual fights move really slow. Maybe not quite Undercover Grandpa slow, but you watch and just think, maybe she could have ducked in the five seconds it took for that blow to hit her.

The climax is a let down even for the low expectations that build for this film. The death match fight lasts for under two minutes, is mostly pulling hair and kind of grappling around. But then to win the fight the main character pulls a move she never learned in the film or anything and it’s suddenly over. Then they escape. Yay!

There’s lots of scenes where the main character gets more and more tortured but then of course there’s a montage of her getting stronger before her big fight. It was incredibly dull to watch and I could never get behind the character enough to care. Plus all the exercises they show her doing are exercises you would expect any average, fit person to be able to do. Except for the one where she holds dumbells fully extended for two minutes. They don’t show her do that for two full minutes, but that’s damned hard.

There is an uncle that the main character has and he is sort of an advocate for her but pretty much ruins the whole part with the terrible acting. Also, the uncle seems to be like, yeah ok, she can have 2 years punishment here, I’m not even going to approach the American consulate which would be the sensible thing to do.

Now for the seriously cringe-worthy. I didn’t clock this exactly but my estimate is that about 70% of the film involves nudity. Now, I get films having nudity and I don’t think that automatically makes it bad, and in the right film, done in the right way, there’s not anything wrong with it. But in the context of this film. hooo boy, this is hard to watch.

For starters, the main character has a guardian, which I at least, take to mean she is under age. To clarify before I go on, all of the actors in this film were adults at the time of filming. But early on, the main character is told to disrobe and we get the complete view. This happens frequently and it is just as uncomfortable every time. It just made me imagine that sexual predators probably love this movie, and seriously made me hate the film. Like, I hate this movie with a passion. DO NOT WATCH THIS.

In addition to the plain nudity, there are instances of sexual violence. While these are as poorly acted as the rest of the film, these scenes are even harder to watch. It’s both ridiculous and head spinning. I just can’t even describe how despicably exploitative this film is, Honestly, I don’t know how anyone could have gotten away with not only making but releasing this film. The whole thing was such a bad idea,

Usually, I go on a bit longer in my reviews but for this one, I don’t want to give it any more attention than it rightly deserves. What it pretty much deserves is a warning label that you should stay as far away from it as you can get.

After this one, I need something with a bit of potential for fun. So, I am going to hop back onto the Troma train and give a watch to Space Zombie Bingo. Not sure who’s going to be calling the numbers but I’ve got my card, my markers and paid my entry fee. See you next time.

Glumly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Dead in the West – Book Review

Zombie tropes? We got ’em

Fiction Friday is filled with zombies in my dungeon this time. They’re pesky undead creatures that I learned to deal with long ago. Sure they try to bite, but they make decent can openers if you time it right so the teeth bite the can and not you. I just light a fire at the entryway of any room I am in and then the zombies stay away unless I put it out. They typically aren’t fans of fire or bright lights. Or bullets to the head. They really don’t like that. And in a pinch my dapper cane smashed into their craniums works. It’s a bit of a pain to wash the blood off though, so I try not to do that too often. Plus it musses my tuxedo and I simply won’t tolerate that.

How do I know so much about these suckers? Well, I’ve read a zombie book or two thousand in my time. Some are great. Cell by Stephen King is an exceptional standout in the genre to me. And of course the now finished but never forgotten The Walking Dead comic book may be the most brilliant zombie story to ever be told, no matter if you are tired of the television show or not.

But I can tell you that those examples are the stunningly rare exceptions in a genre with a zillion books. This week I read Dead in the West by Joe R. Lansdale. I’ll give you a quick summary of the plot, then we are going to run through the zombie trope checklist together and see how many boxes we can mark off. Fair warning, spoilers follow.

It’s old west Texas, and a preacher comes into a small town called Mud Creek. Prior to his arrival, the town had unfairly executed an Indian medicine man and his innocent wife. The Indian laid a curse upon the town with his dying breath and the dead begin to rise. The preacher and his allies attempt to stop the undead, and only the preacher survives with his life.

Here is our checklist

  1. A lone hero with a storied past comes into town – check
  2. A plucky kid meets the lone hero and we know he is going to a. save the life of the main hero and b. die in the end, even though the hero does not like the kid at first. – double check
  3. A beautiful love interest for the lone hero – check
  4. The father of said beautiful love interest is the first one to trust the hero and figure out what’s going on – checkity check
  5. Hands come out of the dirt in a grave yard – this has not been new since Night of the Living Dead and is no longer necessary to any story but we checked this one off anyway!
  6. A mystical force of evil is causing this, even if you can kinda understand where the evil is coming from – large check
  7. The hero is an alcoholic or has some other life struggle – blindfolded I check this box
  8. Hero teaching the plucky kid how to shoot – was this ever in doubt? Check this box!
  9. No one believes the scientist (in this case a doctor) when he figures it out even though the evidence is extremely obvious – check it in bold
  10. Hero admits he loves the beautiful woman even though it’s been a very short time that they have known each other – Put a heart around this check
  11. A total racist jerkwad who basically causes the whole thing and is then torn apart by the living dead – shredded check mark!
  12. A sheriff who could have stopped the damn thing but through inaction allows everything to go on – put a badge on this check
  13. Dead people moving around left and right but most of the people don’t even notice until it’s too late – sneaky check mark!
  14. Body parts falling off shambling zombies – arm shaped check mark
  15. Love interest blowing her own brains out so she doesn’t become a zombie – gore splattered check mark circled with a broken heart
  16. Plucky kid getting in a few distracting licks so that the hero can survive – made this check with my foot
  17. Hero being unable to shoot plucky kid after he is bitten even though that’s the one darned thing the kid specifically asked him to do – put a bullet hole in that check box
  18. Daylight coming along and frying the big bad, but just a little too late to save the town – sun soaked checkity check mark
  19. Hero riding out of town feeling lost and like he failed – lonely check mark
  20. The feeling that you have read this book before – blood read check mark

Okay, so checklist made. Now for a few things that stood out in this book as, umm… different. First, though, I do want to say, this is not by a long shot, the worst zombie book I ever read. I have read a lot of them though so I don’t know how much that’s worth. I feel like the author might have other good books, and he has certainly written a lot of books and won awards for them. I just feel like this one was too typical of the genre to stand out in any significant way.

So the interesting stuff.

There are a few sentences in this book that I didn’t understand. It could be that’s because this story is part of a larger series or it could just be that I’m not catching a reference. But here’s one. “He had the cool, blue eyes of a cold killer – the eyes of a man who had seen the elephant and seen it well.” Umm… I’ve seen an elephant too. And seen it pretty well, I mean it’s kind of hard to miss and I even gave it an address since it was wandering in my dungeon. I don’t think that’s what makes someone a killer somehow though.

Another odd metaphor, “The sun was easing up over the horizon like a sneaky, blond baby raising its head.” Later in the page, “The blond head was coming up faster, strands of light, like fine lines of hair were lightening the lower edge of the sky.” Now, I’ve been down here in the dark for a while but I have seen sunrises. You know what they never, even once reminded me of? An infant’s head.

The preacher who is the hero of the book rolls into town, gets drunk, shoots a spider in his hotel room, leaving a hole in the wall and causing a ruckus, but seems to think people should treat him nicely.

The author at times, seems to have an unhealthy obsession with describing things in comparison (for lack of a better word) to dung. “The river itself was darker than the s***t from Satan’s bowels.” Later in the paragraph, “Up s***t river without a paddle.” An odd image if I do say so myself.

Usually I am not too annoyed with typos and misspellings. I mean, I know I make those mistakes myself, although I do try to proofread my posts before posting. But this one stood out as either an egregious error or a major Freudian slip. Either way it made me laugh. “…Matt said and walked out of the mom.” I wondered to myself how he got in the mom in the first place.

At the end during the climax, the preacher had a line that stood out as ridiculously funny to me in his righteous fury, “Hallowed be thy name, oh Lord – and shotgun do your stuff.” That sentence belongs in a b movie horror film immediately.

And the weirdest thing I have saved for last. Also, the grossest. The preacher is guilt ridden because he slept with his sister. Then he gets attracted to the woman that he says he loves in the town mostly because she looks like his sister. I’ve gone over this before but let’s leave this stuff to George R.R. Marin please. I don’t need to read any more of that. Also, this preacher seems to be mad at God and his father both, for thinking what he did with his sister was not okay. Clue for ya buddy, it’s not.

To review, zombies make good can openers, they can be fun to read about, but most books in this genre have done everything to death (pun seriously intended). If you want an average time of reading a zombie book and have a couple hours, Dead in the West is not your worst option. But if you have higher standards skip this one and read World War Z or something like it instead.

Come back to my dungeon next week when we will continue with the dead theme for no apparent reason as I read Dare to Die (Death on Demand series #19). Is death on demand a video streaming service? Can I get it for free if I sign up for Amazon Prime on Prime Day?!

Forlornly yours,

Slick Dungeon

In Defense of the Awful

Part 1 – Film

I spend a lot of time watching sub par movies and reading one star reviewed books. It’s what my whole site is about. But I do not want people to get the idea that I think there is no value in the garbage I consume. Quite the contrary, I think having the worst of the worst existing in the world, with easy access for everyone, is fundamental and necessary. I realize my opinion might be quite contrary to the majority of humans in existence. So let me take a few minutes to lay out my argument. I am going to defend bad films in this post and plead my case for bad books in another post next week.

I hope you’ll forgive me but if I mention a film that I have done a review for I am going to link to that post below, on the off chance that you find some value in my opinion of it. Don’t let my shameless self promotion sway you from the merits of my argument. I genuinely mean what I say here.

I know that everyone has differing ideas of what constitutes a bad film. One person’s Transformers is their idea of a good, fun time at a summer blockbuster. Another person sees that same film as nothing but a money grab put out by a big studio simply looking to cash in on a bit of nostalgia. I can see the argument on both sides and while I clearly dislike Transformers, I will defend it’s right to exist without question.

There are other films that we might call objectively bad. As in, they are poorly made, have a nonsense plot, terrible acting, bad dialogue and special effects that simply don’t work. Yet some of these can be as entertaining as the best of the Oscar nominated films or summer blockbuster movies out there. Don’t believe me? Then how do you explain the lasting popularity of The Rocky Horror Picture Show or The Room both of which have interactive productions to their credit that consistently sell out. Again I will defend the right of these films to exist without question, entertaining or not.

Why do I think these things should be out there for everyone? Well, as bad as some of these films are, the alternative is worse. Have you been to the movies in the last 3 years? I’ll bet bottom dollar that it’s quite likely you either saw a sequel, an adaptation of another media, or a reboot of something that has been done before. Even if that’s not the case, I bet that what you did watch echoes a film from the past. There are some notable exceptions to this, and I applaud those, but those are rare.

In addition, we are getting fewer and fewer companies making films. If we’re not careful, all media is going to be conglomerated into some kind of mega-corporation (some would even say it already has) and the choice of what we view is going to be severely limited. It’s no surprise that a company sees a success and wants to repeat that success. But unlike producing the same drink formula over and over, making films is a definite art. There are nuances to it, and these works of art can make lasting impact to people’s lives. Not so much if we are shown the same three movies over and over again.

I don’t resent movie studios trying to make money, just to be clear. I resent movie studios actively not trying to make art. Too many executives and shareholders who only see the bottom line as the end product seem to be in charge.

Now don’t get me wrong, I adore the MCU, am a die hard Star Wars fan and pay good money to see Batman films whenever they come out. There’s lots of enjoyment and entertainment I can get out of these films.

But nothing will prepare you for the strange things you find in a film like The Toxic Avenger. Why is that? It’s a film that was made outside of the traditional Hollywood system. With people who could basically do what they wanted with the budget they had, and did. And it turned out in a way that literally no one could have predicted. Toxie is a beloved icon of independence, embraced by the oddballs and weirdos like me who showed up at comic book and film conventions before it was cool.

The only way to get original art and artists is to give room for failure. Some failure is unfortunate and people move on with their lives, others accidentally become successes and can inspire others. The highly sought after director, Quentin Tarantino said he had to make a bad film before he could make a good one. He also watched tons of cinema, including movies that would never be considered box office successes. However, elements of those types of films are clearly present in Tarantino’s work.

Another reason that we need to allow for things that would not traditionally be considered successful is that it can give a voice to those who don’t have one. It’s no secret that big blockbuster movies, that take in tons of money, very rarely have a relatable, realistic LGBTQ+ character. The director John Waters, best known for making the trash cinema classic Pink Flamingos, is and was light years ahead of the mainstream in this regard. And his work has broken through to mainstream success too. Hairspray the Tony Award winning Broadway play is based on one of Waters’ films.

I could probably mention a whole slew of other groups that are underrepresented in mainstream Hollywood films but it would come to the same point. Sometimes, failure is just a bit of culture not understood by the mainstream.

If all we ever want out of a film is for it to be a financial success, we’ll only ever end up with the same type of film that makes the most money. Even Transformers, with it’s financial success I would call a film making failure. The plot holes are big enough to drive a 16 wheeler through. You can see the pain on the actor’s faces as they deliver their lines. It’s only successful in that it made money.

So if I am arguing that I don’t want us to have the same movie over and over, how can I defend the right of Transformers to exist? Especially considering the fact that it has a slew of sequels that look the same? The reason is that, as cookie cutter as those films can be, there is always the chance that they can surprise you and be original.

I think most people would have said that prior to Thor: Ragnarok we knew what to expect out of a Thor film. But that film had the guts to do something different thanks to an independent director, who had not been so constrained by the studio system.

We need to allow the chance for people to try new things. You can’t be creative by only ever drawing inside the lines. Letting movies be out there that are the bottom of the barrel, like Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, or Surf Nazis Must Die allows for experimentation, creativity, independence and sometimes a voice for the disenfranchised. Let’s not give that up. Watch bad movies on purpose. Otherwise, you are never going to see anything you didn’t expect.

So what do you think? Do you agree with me? Let me know in the comments section. I’m always interested in civil discourse about terrible media.

Woefully yours,

Slick Dungeon

Reviews for films mentioned:


The Toxic Avenger:

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes:

Surf Nazis Must Die:

Undercover Grandpa – Film Review

This IS your Grandfather’s action film

It’s not easy living in a dungeon alone, watching the worst films known to humanity and Undercover Grandpa is not helping the situation at all.

When the phrase Netflix and chill first became popular, the emphasis was definitely on the chill. Why? There was a time, before Narcos, Stranger Things and Black Mirror where most of what was on Netflix was absolute garbage. Now people get tied up in the Netflix and forget to chill at all. But fret not, those who want to chill once again, Undercover Grandpa is garbage on an unparalleled level. Trust me on this.

This film is about a random teenager who is about to go out on a date. He first has to drive his crazy grandpa back to his nursing home before he can get to said date. Unfortunately for the teenager, his date gets kidnapped by an on the run foreign dictator who has faked his own death. Fortunately for the teenager, his grandpa is not crazy, and really is a special forces guy who can totally take on the foreign dictator with the help of his very retired army buddies.

In the end, Grandpa beats the bad guys and teenager gets the girl and all the retired army buddies got to have their one last exciting mission. Assuming there is no sequel. Which is a very strong assumption.

The star of the film is James Caan who makes a career destroying performance that is about as far away from The Godfather as you can get. In the setup of the film Grandpa talks to the family about how he knew Colonel Sanders when he was just a private. The jokes get worse from there. Also, as a side note, according to “Colonel Harland Sanders was born on September 9, 1890, in Henryville, Indiana. At the age of 40, Sanders was running a popular Kentucky service station that also served food—so popular, in fact, that the governor of Kentucky designated him a Kentucky colonel.” This means James Caan (best known in my circle of associates as the dad from Elf) served in World War I if he knew this guy.

I know this was just supposed to illustrate how “crazy” grandpa was but if you are going to make up fake crazy, make up believable fake crazy ok?  

For reasons that are unexplained, this foreign dictator has been captured and taken to the United States. He’s a stand in for any generic dictator. And the dialogue they give this guy is so terrible. He yells at his henchmen for what felt like two minutes because he didn’t know the word troubles. My question during the whole thing was why these guys are even speaking in English in the first place? They are hiding from Americans, not trying to be them.

That’s not the only plot hole. For starters, the girlfriend is captured (I’m not using any specific character names because they were too vague and general to remember) for seeing that the dictator guy is alive. Why they don’t do the sensible bad guy thing and shoot her is beyond me.

The grandpa is also a secret agent and his special forces guys can get the job done. This film gives you the unique opportunity to see how low James Caan, Lou Gossett Jr., Paul Sorvino and Jessica Walter can sink. The answer? All the way to the bottom.

I kind of forget which guy was which but there is one grandpa who has a super old room sized computer that can hack into the 911 phone system, one who is a weapons expert with weapons that are surely not only illegal to own, but have literally no chance of still being operational (and some that certainly would be operational), and one who is a camouflage expert who seems to think dressing in a bad tree costume is what constitutes a disguise.

This old team, the “Devil’s Scum” were the best special forces around. And they get to move into action again because Grandpa, teenager, and teenager’s geeky tech sidekick (who is really barely worth mentioning) are able to figure out where the girl is being held.

At first they are excited to get together and do this. Then less than two minutes later, they don’t want to do this. Then they are convinced again to do it. How do they finally get convinced they should do it? Teenager goes on a rant about how his generation has it so good only because of men like his grandpa. The teenager speech sounds like a speech that a grandpa found on a facebook ad, I kid you not. It’s delivered with no conviction yet seems to convince all these guys to go into action.

Lucky for these guys, all of the action is at a very sluggish pace and lots of guys who are in their twenties or thirties never move as fast as any of these guys who are in their seventies. Even the one with the walker is faster than them.

In a series of ridiculously dumb plans, each grandpa gets captured by the bad guys until James Caan, the original grandpa has to come to try to rescue them. At long last, teenager and his tech sidekick come in to help. There’s a battle (I guess that’s what you call it?) and the good guys win.

But here’s the ridiculous. The grandpa with the walker is wearing this fishing vest with all the pockets filled with some kind of devices that have wires running out. He is not wearing any gloves and is using his metal walker. The bad guys ask this grandpa what is up with the vest. He tells them that they are spare batteries for his pacemaker. The idiot bad guys believe him of course. Then at the end of the fight, the grandpa lifts up his walker and electricity comes out of the ends of the walker and zaps four henchmen to the ground and they go unconscious. Let me just point out that’s not how pacemakers, walkers or electricity works.

The climax of the film is this battle. The teenager gets the girl. Then grandpa collapses and has a heart attack. All of us in the audience know he is faking it. It could not have been more clear to anyone with a pulse. But of course the teenager believes he has lost grandpa.

How can I describe the funeral scene? Okay so, not to spoil anything but if you have ever seen, I don’t know, a superhero movie where one of the heroes is dead and there are other people there and you can’t help but cry a little yourself because you liked that character so much… Yeah, this is not that. The teenager does what I would normally call an ugly cry. But it’s clear he is fake crying so it’s not an actual ugly cry. It’s perhaps the most bizarre crying performance I have ever seen. Is it a fake ugly cry? An ugly fake cry? Crying fakely ugly? I have no idea. But I thought about it for a long time.

Then to only the teenager’s surprise grandpa shows up again, lets teenager know he is not dead and that he will be off cavorting with the double agent lady in Florida. But teenager shouldn’t tell his mother about it. Grandpa also hints that he might be up for another mission if called upon.

To which I say – Please dear God no, isn’t it enough that there is a sequel to the Trolls movie coming???

I am going to end the review there but come back next week when I will review another Netflix dud, Locked Up.

Shoot, I forgot to mention the grandpa walking in the pond in a scuba suit. Ah well, maybe next time.

Despondently yours,

Slick Dungeon

Pets in a Pickle – Book Review

They lied to me about the pickle

Welcome once again to my dungeon. It’s here that I am stuck, here that I spend my days with nothing but bad books to read and bad movies to watch. Perhaps one day I will escape to greener pastures and be able to breath the free air once again. Literally you could say I was in a tough situation. Just don’t tell me there is a pickle involved. There are no pickles here. You know where else there are zero pickles? Pets in a Pickle by Malcolm D. Welshman.

I thought that I would end up hating this book more than I do. I will admit there is some decent humor in it and if you love The Sound of Music, animals, and bad puns, this is the book for you. Unfortunately, I cannot stand The Sound of Music, only appreciate my own bad puns, and am so so on animals in general. As far as animals go, it really depends on if they are the type to try to bite me or not.

The basic plot is that Paul is a new veterinarian in a small country town and there is a series of cute-ish stories where a pet needs some attention, Paul has no idea what he is doing, but somehow manages to save the pet anyway, repeat. Instead of really analyze the plot I am going to just point out some things that either made no sense or I personally disliked.

I am not sure if it’s the case that Paul comes from a very bad veterinarian school, or if he is just dumb. In the first chapter he sticks his hands into a cage, then is surprised by the fact that his finger gets bit by a hamster. He didn’t even seem to know that he was going to see a hamster. Let me give you a clue, dude, check the chart first! Or if you can’t even do that, ask the owners, what have you got there for me in the cage?

In the second chapter, Paul, sees a bird and doesn’t seem to know what to do to treat it. He figures it out but acts like he has never seen a bird in his life. So, what exactly was he studying? This goes on like this, chapter after chapter. Horse? Never foaled one before. Cow? Haven’t seen one. Pig, nope. He does seem to know what dogs and cats are at least, so I’ll give him those. I get that he is new and all, but come on man, tell me you at least saw a freaking lecture on this stuff or something. If that’s how human doctors learn, I am glad I am stuck down in this dungeon, not at the doctor’s office.

Paul has a serious Julie Andrews obsession. Like in a majorly unhealthy way. He goes to interview for his job at a vet’s office and the vet in charge reminds him of Julie Andrews. Specifically Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. Now, it’s my personal hang up that whenever I hear Do Re Mi, I go into an uncontrollable rage, plug my ears and start singing Hell’s Bells by AC/DC just to counteract it. Years and years of a younger sister and repeated rainy day viewings of that film classic will do that to you. But Paul’s thing just gets weird.

Why is it weird? Glad I asked myself. So, for starters, Crystal (the vet) is married to Eric (who also works in this office) and Paul is dating a vet’s assistant named Lucy (who also works in this office). Yet, Paul is constantly fantasizing about being with Crystal in a romantic sense, picturing her as Julie Andrews. I’m talking at least three times a chapter. And even stranger, he tells us at one point, that he keeps thinking of her that way because his mother was in a play version of The Sound of Music so that’s why he is attracted to her. A, ewwwwwwww. B, this kind of thing is reserved for George R.R. Martin ok? Find your own creepy material.

The puns in this novel are relentless. Non-stop. Never ending. And seriously predictable. Is there a pig in the chapter? Paul will save his bacon. Is Paul waiting in a field with a cow? He could be there till the cows come home. Is Paul seeing a bird? Don’t ruffle his feathers. If you need a few thousand dad worthy puns, this is your book.

This is a vet’s office right? But a guy brings in a snake and literally everyone but Paul and Crystal clear out as if the place were on fire. I know some people have phobias and all, but if you work in a vets office that takes all animals, you’re gonna have to expect some snakes. Besides, it could be worse, they could be on a plane.

Lucy and Paul live together for a good chunk of the book but she seems to sour on the relationship near the end. It’s never really explained why she sours on Paul or exactly why she wants to be with him at the end. If you are going to have a falling out with the main love interest in the book, do the audience a favor, and explain what it’s all about. There is a sequel to this book so it could be there, but no way do I care enough to find out. I’m going to give you my reason. Paul probably wouldn’t shut up about Julie Andrews, Lucy saw Paul looking wantonly at Crystal and figured things out, then Paul mentioned his mother and Lucy left as is reasonable. That’s just me speculating though.

Remember when I said I wasn’t sure if Paul was dumb or if it was a bad veterinary school he came from? I can’t say for sure about the vet school but by the end I was convinced Paul was dumb. Why? He talks to, is attracted to, and gets a hug from a firefighter and is not sure if she is a woman until she specifically says she is. I know it can be hard to tell gender (no judgments from me on what gender (or non-gender) you choose to be) and firefighters can have a lot of gear on, making it tough to see who is inside, But Paul was right up close talking to her, found her attractive, and instead of thinking, this is probably a woman I am talking to, starts to question his own sexuality. Maybe I am wrong though, maybe Paul is actually just visually impaired? I don’t know, it was weird and it made me think Paul was dumb from the way it was written.

Finally, and I will tell you this is my biggest problem with this book, there were no pickles mentioned. Where were the pickles? Big green pickles? Pigs eating some pickles? Tiny mice somehow literally stuck in a pickle (or even a pickle jar)? A game of pickle from baseball where an animal is running from base to base? NOPE! Not a single pickle. Never once mentioned. And the potential for puns in all of those situations is astronomical. I want my money of the zero dollars I paid for this book back. Plus a pickle.

Next week I will be back to review Dead in the West by Joe R. Lansdale. I wonder if that’s preferable to being dead in any other particular direction?

Frustratingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Battlefield Earth – Movie Review

Cavemen make great fighter jet pilots

Lost in the mazes of this dungeon that I call home, I often have to use cunning and stealth to avoid being ensnared by dangerous creatures looking to do me harm. How I wish these creatures were even half as dumb as the villainous Psychlos from John Travolta’s pet project film, Battlefield Earth.

This movie is one of the greatest box office flops of all time. There are some who argue that this can be put in the so bad that it’s good category. I consider myself somewhat of an expert in bad films. This is simply so bad that it is bad. Totally and completely bad. I don’t find any redeeming qualities in this film and it’s downright painful to watch.

I’ll tell you the premise and then I’ll go into some finer detail on the awfulness of this abomination.

The year is 3000 A.D. and the human race has been nearly wiped out by a vicious, war hungry race of aliens called the Psychlos. When these aliens attacked, virtually everything on earth was wiped out. To the point that humans are basically living as primitive cavemen. They think that old structures that were once office buildings were built by “the gods”. They have some simple encampments and ride horses and things like that. Things that visually look almost identical to the opening of Planet of the Apes. There’s a standard heroic caveman dude with the standard heroic name of Jonnie. The humans at the beginning know that there is a threat out there but it seems like they haven’t encountered the aliens in a while because some think these creatures are real and some don’t. Caveman Jonnie is out hunting or something and comes across a few more cavemen and they are suddenly captured by the aliens. Just like Planet of the Apes they are then herded into cages and put to slave labor. They even get the same hose down. Then we get to meet the career defining performance of John Travolta.

Travolta plays the evil Psychlo, head of security, Terl. He has wild cackling laughter for no reason for most of the film. He overacts to the point of absolute insanity and most of the time he is talking to another Psychlo named Ker, played by Forest Whitaker of all people. You can feel Whitakerr’s pain just emanating out of his face the whole time, wondering how the heck he ended up in this film.

Back to a bit of the plot, Ter, wants to get off Earth and the only way he can do that is by making some money for this corporation on the Psyhlo home world. The Psychlos are pretty dumb though. They see humans as a menial labor species but don’t seem to think they are capable of using weapons, pushing buttons, or speaking with each other. In a weird effect in the film, the Psychlos and humans go back and forth, neither knowing the other language. It kind of works but it’s really distracting when they suddenly go from weird grunts in one perspective to speaking perfect English the next.

Jonnie, is able to nearly escape, kills a Psychlo and hangs onto the weapon. Ter’s reaction to this is disbelief but as soon as he sees that it’s true, decides to use the humans to mine gold.

Okay so to put this in a more succinct summary, bad aliens who are dumb, want cavemen who are slaves to mine gold. The cavemen want to not be slaves. With me so far? Good.

To train the humans, Ter hooks Johnnie up to this magic technology that will teach Johnnie the Psychlo language. But it doesn’t just do that, it also teaches him about the entire Psychlo history and culture. Johnnie is suddenly converted into the only human who actually knows what is going on. Now he’ll be able to mine gold and fly spaceships.

But of course, humans always endure so Johnnie is smart enough to figure out that he can use this to defeat the Psychlos. In the end, as expected the humans win.

Again to make this summary a little more succinct, the evil aliens give the cavemen the very technology they need to overthrow the aliens.

On the surface, in some ways this could have worked. Like say, if it had been, I don’t know, Charleton Heston playing the lead character and the bad guys were actually apes and we called it Planet of the Apes. At least in that one, Charleton Heston was not an actual caveman and knew stuff.

Now, one tendency I have when I watch virtually any movie is to overthink it. I wouldn’t write movie reviews if I didn’t. But here are some ways that this movie goes completely stupid.

The makeup on the Psychlos is absurdly bad. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture at the top of this post. That’s a rejected Star Trek alien if I ever saw one. These creatures are also supposed to be bigger than humans. I’d say they are roughly Shaq sized but the framing of the shots often makes the size relatively flexible and you really notice that. Also, why do they have fur on their hands?

The effects in this film are abysmal. They look clunky and weird compared to today’s films certainly but even for the time they were just bad. The blasts from the weapons are a vague streak of white light. At least make them red or blue or a bright color. Also, these guns sometimes outright kill, sometimes can blow a hand off and sometimes launch someone non-lethally through six panes of window glass. The ships look like there is no chance period they could stay airborne. The one or two shots we get of the Psychlo home planet looks like someone built the same building five bazillion times and then turned some lights on.

The acting is so bad. It’s not just John Travolta who fails here, it’s almost everyone. The cavemen are never believable at all.

Then there are the Psychlos and their plots. First off, fine they want to mine gold. why would gold in specific be a precious metal on any world besides earth? There’s no more intrinsic value to it than any other ore, especially if you come from a planet that is not Earth and might not even have gold. But okay, I can kind of get past that, there are other space movies where gold is precious.

But why would you give the humans access to all your technology? I mean any good warrior wants to know their enemy before the fight. But the Psychlos are like, hey here’s everything about us, have at it.

There’s good reason for the Psychlos not to go to where the humans mine the gold, the area is radiated. Why this particular kind of radiation doesn’t harm humans is never explained.

But instead of setting up some way of monitoring the humans. these aliens, who are smart enough to figure out space travel, don’t even think to monitor with some kind of camera to see what the humans are up to.

Then there are the cavemen. This is the oddest problem in this film. So, Jonnie is the leader and he got to learn from the magic machine. But they meet this other group of cavemen and they are never exposed to the magic learning machine. However, even without it, these cavemen are able to fly fighter jets. Why? Because it’s “like taming a horse”. Yup. Horses, fighter jets, pretty much the same thing for sure.

Also, the humans are able to defeat these Psychlos due to a series of ridiculous events. First of all, they fake mining the gold because Jonnie read about a place called Fort Knox. It’s convenient they had time to travel and get the gold and that they were easily able to break in and that the gold was still completely intact. Cause. you know, breaking in to Fort Knox should be relatively inconvenient for these guys right?

Conveniently, they are close enough to an Air Force base, the fighter jets still work, there seems to be working fuel which should have expired roughly one thousand years before, and they have nuclear weapons there.

There’s a fairly serviceable battle sequence at the end where the humans trick Terl into transporting a nuke to the home planet of the Psychlos but the visual of the cavemen in the fighter jet blows all credibility here.

In summary, do not watch this film. It’s not good. It’s worse than not good. It’s beyond terrible. Stay away at all costs.

This one left me frustrated enough that I want to go in a different direction for my next review. I am going to watch Undercover Grandpa. It could be about a grandpa who goes under cover, or it could be about someone who goes undercover as a grandpa but my bet is that this is ninety minutes of an octogenarian under a blanket.

Excruciatingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Fatal Justice – Book Review

The manliest manly man to ever manly man

Here I am again, sitting in my dungeon, waiting for more light to seep through so that I can enjoy some of the myriad books I have on my shelves. Although, to be honest, I am not sure enjoyable is a word I would associate with this week’s book.

Many of my books are full of action and revenge plots. But none of them try to outdo the machismo that shows up in Fatal Justice. It’s not just hyper masculine, it’s downright hyper annoying. Let me give you a little summary of the book. Spoilers follow obviously.

A small town sheriff, Jack Lambert, spends a day and a half doing no sheriffing, drinking at a bar, hanging out with his girlfriend and murders a few bad guy mobsters. That’s the whole plot except to add that he also works for a secret government agency and has some spy equipment. Plus he has a dog.

There’s just not a lot to this book. It’s quite short (which I appreciate) but it’s also not surprising at all, very straightforward, kind of dull, and not a good book. It’s never a good sign when there are ads for a free book at the beginning and two other books in the series at the end. This author is begging for people to keep reading his stuff rather than, I don’t know, writing a good story and hoping people want to keep reading.

Jack spends the entire book thinking about guns, murdering people, sex, beer, and his dog in that order. Over and over again. I’m not sure if the author is really obsessed with these things, or just thinks that’s what a macho guy should think. It got pretty uncomfortable living in this guy’s head after a while. Let me give you some examples of his thoughts.

“…my Glock always gave me a warm fuzzy…”

“…if there was one thing I was really good at, and I mean Super Bowl Champion good, it was getting away with murder.”

“I shook away the vision of shooting all three of them in the parking lot and stuffing their bodies in the trunk in a compromising sexual position before taking a photo, posting it on their Facebook pages, and driving into the woods and setting it on fire.”

“She had probably been attractive sixty years ago, but old age and dementia didn’t excite me like they used to, so I kept my distance from her.”

“I flexed my pecs and drank some beer.”

“He had officially risen to equal the IQ of my dog London.”

That’s a small sampling but the entire book can be summed up with those quotes. It’s the same stuff throughout and it’s super clear the author just wants his character to be Dirty Harry. I’ve seen Clint Eastwood and Jack Lambert is no Clint Eastwood.

I should also mention that Jack is not that bright of a person, despite what this book wants you to think. This guy is some kind of super spy who does consultant work for this secretive agency. But unlike any good spy, he never seems to act in the capacity of his cover job of sheriff. He pretty much goes to a bar and drinks, but doesn’t seem to see the need to enforce any laws or even fill out paperwork or anything. At one point in the book he is trying to memorize a license plate. Normally I would say, sure that can take some mental capacity and depending on your vision you need to get up close to catch all the numbers and letters. However, the license plate in question is KING REX. That’s it. Pretty sure with normal vision you can see that and it’s not hard to memorize. Yet Jack makes specific mention of memorizing the plate and adds to himself that Rex in Latin means King so in effect the plate reads KING KING. So it wasn’t hard to memorize, he should be able to see it, and it’s unique in the little town he is in. Yet he spends like five minutes later in the book sneaking up on the car in the dark to see if he can see the plate. He seems to get really up close to the car too. That’s just not the work of a good spy.

Additionally, Jack takes this evil mob guy off to kill him but instead of doing the sensible thing and just shooting him and dumping his body, he just dumps the body into a well and then shoots. That clearly only happens so the mob guy can come back again. What kind of trained spy doesn’t make sure the body is dead?

Jack also thinks that a guy who has his life threatened by gunpoint and begs to be let go is “a submissive pansy.” Not everyone can be a manly man like you, Jack. It’s so great that manly men like you are around to do manly man things. Now to be fair the “submissive pansy” doesn’t do anything to try to stop a woman from getting nearly sexually assaulted, so it’s not like I like that character. I’m just saying that when your life is threatened, it can be reasonable to try to escape the situation.

I also thought this was a weird comment in the book in Jack’s head. “I silently vowed that my next girlfriend would be repulsive even to Shrek.” So a couple things here. One, Jack is so obsessed with how women look and bend over that even as a joke this doesn’t really work. Two, Shrek is all about inner beauty so uh, I think you were too dumb to understand Shrek there, Jack. Also, in the climax of the book when Jack is trying to get his girlfriend freed from the mob boss he thinks about how the forest always smells so good to him. Jack, focus. You need to focus here dude.

Now, Jack isn’t the only character in the book that either has odd thoughts or does things that make no sense. Here are some examples. Two mob goons call a waitress a wench. Wench? Really? Did we suddenly go the ren fair? Jack’s girlfriend, out of nowhere and with no previous mention of it, knows Judo. The mob boss saves his own life because he was a Boy Scout. That last one I didn’t have that much of a problem with but in the same section, he feels uncomfortable and disturbed because he is in the woods. Isn’t that where he learned his Boy Scout skills? At one point when the mob boss has Jack’s girlfriend hostage, and knows Jack is on his way to where they are, he takes the time to literally fondle and smell her high heels. Gross. And what? What kind of moron does that when you might get killed. I died sniffing sweaty shoes, but it was worth it!

In the end, Jack of course saves his girlfriend, gets to get away with murdering three people, feels no remorse about it other than the fact that his dog died (hmm… the dead dog thing reminds me of a certain film series) and continues to live in this town. Not sure why the town pays him to tell you the truth cause he just does murdery stuff and drinks. Although, technically Jack only throws the mob boss out of an airplane and doesn’t confirm the dude is dead, so maybe he only killed two people after all.

So, in conclusion, if you want a great story about a guy who is overly masculine, just re-watch Die Hard. You’ll have a much better time.

After all the violence, beer, sex and dogs of this book, I am going to try something a little lighter next week. I’ll be giving a read to Pets in a Pickle by Malcom D. Welshman. I’m thinking it’s either a really large pickle or small pets cause otherwise can’t they just eat their way out of it? We’ll see next time.

Miserably yours,

Slick Dungeon