BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY (1991) is one of those sequels that’s as fun as the original, as sinister mad scientist Joss Ackland plots to alter the course of history by replacing Wyld Stallyn with evil robots only to have Bill and Ted outplay Death at Twister and Battleship for the right to return to life and save their women from Evil Robot Death. Like the first, it considers the potential of time travel more than a lot of more serious films do (“The only one who can go back in time is whoever wins, you dick!”). With Pam Grier as a Wyld Stallyn fan. “Whether you’re a king/or a little street sweeper/Sooner or later/You dance with the reaper!”
Leo McKern is A JOLLY BAD FELLOW (1964) whose crimes include adultery with sexy lab assistant Janet Munro and murdering a number of people who get in his way by the use of a euphoria inducing toxin. Like a lot of British films I remember from that era, mildy amusing rather than really funny—McKern is typically entertaining, but his character isn’t enough of a rotter to be entertaining. “I doubt you’ll need your pajamas but I’ll pack them for appearance’s sake.”
GORMENGHAST follows up Titus Groan in what would have been Mervyn Peake’s multivolume account of the life of Titus (due to his early death, we only got one more, Titus Alone, though Peake’s wife’s adaptation of his notes into Titus Awakes will be out this year), who here finds himself increasingly restless and frustrated as the burdens of inheriting Gormenghast begin to weigh him down, while the conniving Steerpike continues to rise through the castle ranks. Very grim, with a high body count, but good, though the lengthy subplot involving the castle school bored me at times
LOVECRAFT: A Look Behind the Cthulhu Mythos was Lin Carter’s capsule guide to HPL’s life, artistic influences and post-death impact (though 40 years later, Carter’s attempt to list all mythos stories seems rather futile). Not as deep as L.Sprague deCamp’s biography, but a good overview, and it forces me to reassess my feeling HPL didn’t do well with mundane details (while the exploration scenes of At the Mountains of Madness drag, Lovecraft works background detail very well into some of his shorts).
Lovecraft made most of his writing money ghost-writing stories, and THE HORROR AT THE MUSEUM collects most of them (annoyingly neither this nor the Complete Works I read a while back contains one of my favorites, “In the Walls of Eryx”). Like HPL’s own-name work, the quality is variable, from the eerie “Green Meadow” and “The Horror in the Museum” to the clumsily overwrought “The Loved Dead” or the dated-by-racism “Medusa’s Coil” (where the ultimate horror is not that one character marries a half-reptile priestess of a forbidden cult but that she’s part-Negro). Some of the stories, particularly the ones written for Hazel Heald, feel quite removed from HPL’s usual style, though I don’t know if that’s him trying to adapt to his co-author or just my imagination.
BRIGHTEST DAY, VOLUME ONE is the first collection of the comic-book series following up the dreadful Blackest Night Big Event, wherein several resurrected characters (Aquaman, Hawkman, Martian Manhunter, Deadman) must figure out why the White Lantern summoned them back. Readable, but I find big events too overhyped and underinteresting to be terribly impressed (plus the reviews of the series indicate it ends without resolving a lot of the story).
FALL OF CTHULHU: The Grey Man feels a little like filler as the title monstrosity shows up in Arkham to reclaim his knife, with Sheriff Dirk and the Brazilian thief Luci Jenifer (“They call me Lucifer.”) as the main opposition. Enjoyable, but only marginally related to the man Fall of Cthulhu plotline.