Book Review: NEW ADVENTURES IN H.P. LOVECRAFT’S DREAMLANDS Vol. 1-4

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Brian Lumley
Tor Books
1986-1990

By now, if you know anything about British author Brian Lumley by the book reviews I maintain on this blog o’mine, that one of his most obvious literary inspirations was H.P. Lovecraft. Not only has the lore inspired and influenced Lumley’s own blend of weird science fiction and horror hybrids; like many other authors have done before and since, he’s also gleefully frolicked in the mythos of the worlds Lovecraft built in his short career in speculative fiction. One of these was a four-volume set of books set in the Dreamlands from the Dream Cycle stories, featuring the adventures of erstwhile dream-questers David Hero and Eldin the Wanderer.

Each of these four books clock in at a surprisingly brief (for Lumley) 240-some-odd pages, really more of a set of four novellas. Normally, I would do a separate review for each, but in this instance , given the brevity of the books, I decided to read each one of them first, and review them all together in one review. You’re welcome.

1 hero of dreams

  • Volume 1: Hero Of Dreams

Something vital is missing from David Hero’s comfortable, ordinary existence. One day is much like the next, simple, predictable…boring. But the nights! Each night David Hero finds himself transported to a marvelous world where brave men and women battle terrible creatures possessed of cruel, dark powers. Despite his fears, the Dreamworlds tempt David, drawing him farther and farther from the waking world. Here he finds noble warriors; beautiful, loving women; and challenges almost greater than he can imagine.

2 ship of dreams

  • Volume 2: Ship Of Dreams

Once David Hero was an ordinary man living in the real world. Now he is trapped in the Dreamlands, cut off from the waking world. David Hero’s dreams and nightmares have become his only reality. Led by wickedly beautiful Queen Zura, the zombie armies of the dead are on the march. They will destroy the beautiful Dreamlands, making them a permanent, deadly nightmare. Unaware of the marauding zombies, David Hero and his friend Eldin voyage through the clouds in a wondrous skyship. their journey is interrupted by a pack of faceless nightgaunts, terrifying creatures, half-man and half-bat–and all evil! David Hero is one of Zura’s first targets. As a man of the waking world, he can withstand her terrible seductive power and shatter her shambling armies. David Hero must be the first Dreamlands hero to die.

3 mad moon of dreams

  • Volume 3: Mad Moon Of Dreams

Swollen, glowing oddly in the gloom of night, the moon hangs lower and lower over the Dreamlands. Its weird, unearthly light transforms beautiful landscapes into twisted nightmares and imperils the sanity of any who walk abroad after sunset. Beams of terrible power stab the unsuspecting earth, destroying the land, shattering buildings, and dragging people into the shrieking sky, straight toward the hellish moon! David Hero, once a man of the waking world, finds himself fighting side by side with his worst enemies–Zura and her zombie armies, the Eidolon Lathi and her termite men–against the slimy, many-tentacled moon monster.

4 iced on aran

  • Volume 4: Iced On Aran

Atop the Dreamlands’ most majestic mountain is an unusual sculpture garden, featuring statues of the Dreamlands’ legendary heroes. For generations insane artists have created and tended the glistening statues of ice. Each hero is represented by twin portraits–perfectly matched except for the expressions of horror frozen into one of each pair! Seated on a chilly rock, David Hero is the mad sculptor’s newest subject. He sees nothing to account for the fear and dread on the icy faces that surround him. Until he attempts to rise from his pedestal–and discovers that the rock is not the only thing shrouded in ice! Trapped by black sorcery, David Hero has only one chance at escape.

Overall…yeah, this entire series was kind of a slog to get through. I’m not really that big of a fan of the pulp style that Lumley utilizes in a lot of his mythos stories, and here it’s just about as purple prose and over-the-top as they get. After the first book, the two main characters–who were both members of the waking world–get permanently stuck in the Dreamlands due to their real selves dying off at the end of the first book. I would think that the saga would have been a bit more interesting had there been a kind of contrast between the two reconciling their waking and dreaming identities in their lives. But, apparently that kind of dichotomy was too much to explore. Keep things with the swashbuckling swords and sorcery daring-do and all that.

Truth be told, it took me far longer than it should have to get through this series. The first book I had to pick up as an eBook, as I couldn’t find it in physical form anywhere. Regardless, I probably won’t be reading these again any time soon.

 

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Movie Review: HUDSON HAWK

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hudson hawkTriStar Pictures
1991
R

“History, tradition, culture…are not concepts! These are trophies I keep in my den as paperweights! The chaos we will cause with this machine will be our final masterpiece!”

Whenever I come across the movie Hudson Hawk mentioned in an article or podcast or whatever and whatnot, it’s always referenced as one of the worst movies of Bruce Willis’ film career. Not the worst, as it’s not even close to the likes of The Whole Ten Yards or A Good Day To Die Hard. I haven’t heard anyone say anything good about Hudson Hawk.

I aim to change that. Because, I may be in the woeful minority, but I actually not only enjoyed Hudson Hawk when I watched it in the theaters when it was released back in 1991, but I continue to watch it more often than most other movies.

If, for some reason you haven’t checked this out due to the negative press, Hudson Hawk is about a former cat burglar who is just released from prison, and just wants to play it straight, stay out of the crime game, and most importantly get a decent cup of Cappuccino. Only, there are certain people from the Mayflower Industries corporation who want to utilize Hudson’s special skill set to steal three of the most highly secured ancient artifacts in the world: the maquette of the Sforza, the Da Vinci Codex, and a scale model of DaVinci’s helicopter design. Why? Because these three components hide the pieces to a device that turns lead into gold, and Mr. and Mrs. Mayflower want to make their own gold to crash the world’s economy. To help Hawk on his mission is his long-time partner in crime, Tommy “Five-Tone” Messina, along with several associates that are on the Mayflower Industries’ payroll — including Hawk’s parole officers, a minor mob ring and some candy-themed CIA agents. Also, there’s a snarky British butler named Alfred with a propensity for spring-loaded wrist blades. With the help of an undercover nun (which is a great band name), it’s a wacky series of misadventures trying to keep the Mayflowers from taking over the world while attempting to have that elusive Cappuccino.

Hudson Hawk, to me, is the perfect flawed guilty pleasure. I adore this movie. It’s all over the place, with the cheeky performances, the over-the-top scene chewing, the absurdist humor injected into the plot, the gleeful cheese that flies at you…darn it, I’m just going to say give this at least one look before deciding for yourself if Hudson Hawk really is as bad as everyone says. As for me, I believe I just talked myself into watching this movie again.

Movie Review: SURVIVING THE GAME

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Surviving The Game movie posterNew Line Cinema
1994
R

You are missing the best part, Mister Mason. When you’re eating the flesh of the pig…look into his beady eyes. That way you will be devouring his soul.”

Ice-T is Mason, a homeless man recruited by a band of wealthy hunters to lead an expedition into the Pacific Northwest. But on the first day of the hunt, he discovers a lethal surprise…he’s the prey. It’s gut-wrenching action from start to finish as the game begins and the hunters learn a deadly lesson: Never underestimate a man who’s got nothing to lose.

I remember, somewhat vaguely, watching this particular take on the classic tale “The Most Dangerous Game” in its initial theatrical run back in 1994. I can’t really recall why I decided to watch this particular one. I’m not really that big of a fan of Ice-T, who was still early on flexing his acting skizzels, and the only other actor that I recognized by name on the roster was Gary Busey. It wasn’t until much later when I came to notice the existence of Rutger Hauer as an actor, so at this point I only recognized the Rapper and the Guy Who Was In Point Break. Doesn’t matter much, as my biggest impression I got as I was taking in this afternoon flick was, “oooooh, another Most Dangerous Game adaptation.” Yeah, there are plenty of those floating around. I wonder sometimes if Richard Connell knew what kind of a trope he was unleashing back in 1924. But, I digress.

In Surviving The Game, Ice-T plays Ice-T playing a homeless man who is having a particularly bad day, losing both his human and canine best friends in the course of the morning. He’s about to end it all himself, until someone points him in the direction of a businessman, who then offers him a gig to lead a hunting party in the Pacific Northwest the next day. Did I mention this takes place in Seattle? I should have pointed that out first. Or at least taken the time to edit this out. But I didn’t. Eh, whatever. He flies out, meets the party of hunters–mostly wealthy types who payed a big price to be on this hunting expedition–and then finds out the morning of the hunt that it is he, the homeless man, who is being hunted! Shock, surprise, I didn’t see that one coming in a million years. Turns out, these guys have been doing this kind of thing for a while. Only, this time they didn’t realize they were dealing with the Original Gangsta himself. And thus, Ice-T takes them out methodically, leaving only him and the Replicant of the group standing at the end…until the very last frame, when the Replicant blows up. And if you’re scratching your head at that last part, go watch Blade Runner. You’ll be watching a better movie, trust me.

Yeah, I’m not really all that impressed with Surviving The Game. It’s your generic mid-1990s action flick that takes a familiar premise, injects a then still-relevant rapper into the mix, and bakes it to its logical conclusion. It’s neither bad nor great, just kinda “meh”. It’s watchable, yes, and I understand there’s a bit of a cult following since this one made it to VHS and later DVD rentals. For me, I probably won’t go out of my way to rent and watch Surviving The Game another time, but if it’s a slow weekend afternoon and it’s the only thing on the telly, then I’m not complaining either.