Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Raiders! by Alan Eisenstock
Published by Thomas Dunne Books in November 2012
Raiders! truly is the story of the greatest fan film ever made. Years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a screening of Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos' Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation and I was blown away by it. While the quality of the video wasn't the greatest, what impressed me most was how this group of kids managed to pull off a (relatively) shot for shot remake of my favorite film of all time. What they lacked in props, locations and special effects, they made up for with passion and excitement that resulted in pure magic.
Raiders! is the behind the scenes story of how they managed to pull it off (which only took seven years). The ingenuity that went into the movie is astounding. The basement became their studio which held sets for the Well of Souls, complete with overhead entrance created by removing an old furnace and even The Raven Bar in Nepal were Indy goes to find Marion. And, yes, they even set fire to the place, just like in the movie. Unable to find a monkey, they trained their pet dog to take on the role. After a few attempts, they even managed to get a six foot boulder for the South American temple and they even filmed the entire truck chase. The only scene missing from The Adaptation is the flying wing sequence because they couldn't find anyone to let them blow up an airplane.
It wasn't all pleasant for everyone involved though. As the years went by, friendships were strained and tested as the kids grew up and apart from each other. The book follows the entire story from the idea's conception, through filming, editing and on up through the present day. After years of having the complete film sitting on their shelves, Steven Spielberg was finally given a copy and wrote letters to the filmmakers congratulating them on their achievement. It's all here for you to read, and aside from the opening chapters about repairing a home in post-Katrina Louisiana (this part is a real chore to get through), it's a great read. But be warned, after reading this book, you will want to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, but it's not commercially available anywhere.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bond On Bond

Bond On Bond by Roger Moore
Published by Lyons Press in 2012
When this book was announced, I was somewhat interested as I have Roger Moore’s previous book sitting on my shelf waiting to be read. The following description was released, “The Bond movies remain the longest continually running film series in movie history, and 2012 marks its fiftieth anniversary. To celebrate these films and their cultural heritage, Roger Moore has written a book that features all the Bond movies, along with a wonderfully witty account of his own involvement in them. From the girls to the villains, the cocktails to the cars, and gadgets to the locations and everything else, this beautiful book is illustrated with hundreds of iconic images from all the films plus many previously unseen photos from Moore’s personal collection. This is the ultimate James Bond book, written by the ultimate insider, with all the affection and good humor we’ve come to expect from Roger Moore” and I knew that I needed to read this book.  It sounded like a good time with Sir Roger Moore giving his opinions on all things Bond. Sounds fun, right?
And I imagine it would be, but this book does not deliver in this regard. The book is broken down with chapters devoted to the villains, the girls, the gadgets, the cars, the locations, etc. The first seven chapters are merely Roger Moore telling us the same things that have been told in many books and documentaries over the years.  We learn about how Harry Saltzman and Cubby Broccoli first created Bond, we learn about Sean Connery being cast and we read about the villains, girls, gadgets, cars, etc. that appeared in each film; but not Moore’s opinions on these things. He throws in some one-liners (some are cringe inducing) and anecdotes along the way, but most of these are merely re-hashes of things we've heard before. 
The next three chapters entitled “Bond On Bonds”, “Bond Behind the Scenes” and “Bond On Screen” are the best three chapters in the entire book because here the book delivers. We get Roger Moore’s opinions on each of the actors who have played 007 and some interesting behind the scenes stories on the making of the films. It’s also nice to read a little about the rival Bond film Never Say Never Again and its release the same year as Moore’s Octopussy – I just wish it was more in depth. The final chapter, while featuring some nice poster artwork, feels like it was just added on for filler as it’s merely a listing of the filmmakers, budgets and box office receipts for each film.  The book is nicely put together and features many photos, some of which I hadn’t seen before.
But I have to call out Sir Roger on one thing. He goes on to describe the first time a wet bike is used on screen and delivers some behind the scenes details very nicely, but it’s in The Spy Who Love Me and not For Your Eyes Only.  You were in both those movies, so surely you shouldn’t have made that mistake.  Don’t get me wrong, the book is well written and it’s a quick and enjoyable read, but there’s not much new here for the avid Bond fan. Ultimately, this book by the ultimate insider is not the ultimate James Bond book.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

You Know His Number

The Spy Who Loved Me by Christopher Wood
Published by Warner Books in June 1977
An undertaker-murderer-shipping magnate who fancies fish. An assassin with an uncanny resemblance to the most voracious fish. A beautiful, courageous girl who is angling for the very prize Bond is after. These are Bond's adversaries as he searches for a lost submarine and the detection system than can penetrate the secrets of the deep.

Moonraker by Christopher Wood
Published by Jove in July 1979
Drax is no gentleman. He cheats at cards, and he plans to murder 8 1/4 million people in 36 seconds. It's up to James Bond: Agent 007 and his nearly-nude sidekick Holly to teach the man proper manners. Fast - before his orbiting superweapon strikes!
James Bond Is Back! In every field there is one name - whether it is Rolls Royce, Chivas Regal or James Bond - that means quite simply "the best."

Licence To Kill by John Gardner
Published by Charter Books in June 1989
What starts out as a joyous wedding of his old friend Felix Leiter becomes a nightmare for secret agent James Bond. Now, on a path of revenge against an evil billionaire drug lord, 007 is prepared to do anything. Ignore Secret Service orders. Even lost is licence to kill...

GoldenEye by John Gardner
Published by Boulevard Books in November 1995
She is beautiful. She is Russian. And she is very dangerous. Once Xenia worked for the KGB. But her new master is Janus, a powerful and ambitious Russian gang that no longer cares about ideology. Janus's ambitions are money and power; its normal business methods are theft and murder. And it has just acquired GoldenEye, a piece of high-tech space technology with the power to destroy or corrupt the West's financial markets.
But Janus has underestimated its most determined enemy... James Bond.

Tomorrow Never Dies by Raymond Benson
Published by Boulevard Books in December 1997
A man who can start a war anytime and anyplace - and profit from it - would be the most powerful man in the world. Elliot Carver knows this. And he has a plan to turn his media conglomerate into a true empire, exploiting global conflicts he creates with on-the-spot news coverage guaranteed to bring him the highest ratings in television history.
It starts with a sudden mysterious skirmish that leaves two Chinese MiGs and a Royal Navy frigate at the bottom of the South China Sea. It could end with an all-out world war on live TV. But there is one man who can stop it... James Bond.

The World Is Not Enough by Raymond Benson
Published by Boulevard Books in October 1999
After oil tycoon Sir Robert King is killed in a bombing at MI6 headquarters, his daughter, Elektra, inherits his fortune - billions of dollars worth of oil deposits in the Caspian Sea... and James Bond, 007, as a bodyguard. Her new wealth attracts international interest. But she has also attracted the attentions of her father's killer...
His name is Renard. A bullet lodged in his brain has rendered him unable to feel physical pain, and he has but one reason left to live - revenge. There's only one man who can take the heat between a beautiful heiress, a malicious sociopath and his final diabolical plan.
James Bond in The World Is Not Enough

Die Another Day by Raymond Benson
Published by Boulevard Books in November 2002
From North Korea to Iceland, Bond circles the world in his quest to unmask a traitor and prevent a war of catastrophic proportions. Crossing paths with beautiful allies and deadly assassins in a high-octane action adventure of intrigue, revenge and betrayal, never has Bond been so vulnerable, nor so dangerous...

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet (29th Printing)
A fiery love affair with a sensuous lady spy... Fiendish torture at the hand of a master sadist... These are just two of the cards secret agent James Bond draws when he declares war on Le Chiffre, French Communist and paymaster for SMERSH. The weapon is a fifty-million-franc game of baccarat. The stakes... are life and death.

A Charles K. Feldman motion picture presentation. Casino Royale starring Peter Sellers, Ursula Andress, David Niven, Joanna Pettet, Orson Welles, Daliah Lavi and Woody Allen. Guest stars Deborah Kerr, William Holden, Charles Boyer, John Huston, George Raft, Jean Paul Belmondo. Co-starring Terence Cooper, Barbara Bouchet. Produced by Charles K. Feldman and Jerry Bresler. Directed by John Huston, Ken Hughes, Robert Parrish, Joe McGrath, Val Guest. Panavision. Technicolor. A Famous Artists Production Ltd. A Columbia Pictures Release. Suggest by the Ian Fleming Novel.

Casino Royale by Ian Fleming
Published by Penguin Books in 2006
This, the first of Fleming's tales of agent 007, finds Bond on a mission to neutralize a lethal, high-rolling Russian operative called simply Le Chiffre - by ruining him at the baccarat table and forcing his Soviet spymasters to "retire" him. It seems that lady luck is taken with James - Le Chiffre has hit a losing streak. But some people just refuse to play by the rules, and Bond's attraction to a beautiful female agent leads him to disaster and an unexpected saviour.

Monday, November 5, 2012

You Know His Name

Dr. No by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet in April 1963 (8th Printing)
Read Ian Fleming's danger-packed thriller about secret agent James Bond's clash with a maniacal madman on a Caribbean island of death.
A scene from the fast-paced, suspensful motion picture, starring Sean Connery as James Bond. Directed by Terence Young. Produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli in Technicolor. An Eon Production, Ltd. Released thru United Artists.

From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet (23rd Printing)
James Bond becomes the target of the Russian murder organization, SMERSH...  The deadly and sinister SMERSH sets a trap to catch and kill James Bond, ace British spy with a weakness for women and wine, and they bait it with a beautiful brunette. But they don't count on her falling in love with her victim... after she has seduced him!
A scene from the motion picture, starring Sean Connery as James Bond and introducing Daniela Bianchi. Directed by Terence Young. Produced by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli in Technicolor. An Eon Production, Ltd. Released thru United Artists.

Goldfinger by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet (19th Printing)

In this suspense-charged Ian Fleming thriller, James Bond challenges Goldfinger, the most evil genius he has ever faced.
Goldfinger is a phenomenal criminal who likes his women dressed only in gold paint. He's a magnificent fiend who carries his cash in gold bars. He's a powerful villain and he's planned the biggest and the boldest crime in history - the robbery of all the gold in Fort Knox!
Now the Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman motion picture presentation, starring Sean Connery as James Bond, Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore, Gert Frobe in the title role and Shirley Eaton. Directed by Guy Hamilton. Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn. Released thru United Artists.

Thunderball by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet (25th printing)
James Bond takes on the most outrageously daring adversary he's ever encountered: SPECTRE. This gang of super-criminals has gotten hold of two atomic weapons and plans to use them for blackmail on a world scale. If the Prime Minister of England and the President of the United States do not meet its terms, SPECTRE will drop the bombs, one by one.
Now the Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman motion picture presentation starring Sean Connery, with Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celi, Luciana Paluzzi and Rik Van Nutter. Produced by Kevin McClory. Directed by Terence Young. Released thru United Artists.

You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet
Now in paperback Ian Fleming's You Only Live Twice. The high-voltage thriller that topped the New York Times bestseller list for over five months.
The James Bond adventure novel that takes 007 to the exotic Orient... to the suicide gardens of the maniacal Dr. Shatterhand... and the arms of the most enticing heroine Fleming ever created, the delightful Kissy Suzuki.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet
In a closely-guarded bastion of evil high in the Swiss Alps, Ernest Stavro Blofeld, master artists of cruelty, puts the finishing touches on the most fiendish plot of his horror-strained career. Only one man can stop him, and that man Blofeld has sworn to destroy - Agent 007 of Her Majesty's Secret Service - James Bond!

Diamonds Are Forever by Ian Fleming
Published by Bantam Books in December 1971
Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Sean Connery as James Bond 007
in Ian Fleming's
Diamonds Are Forever
Starring Jill St. John as Tiffany Case • Charles Gray 
Also Starring Lana Wood as Plenty O'Toole
Jimmy Dean • Bruce Cabot
Produced by
Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Directed by Guy Hamilton
United Artists, Entertainment From
Transamerica Corporation

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming
Published by Bantam Books in July 1973
Spine-Tingling Suspense
When James Bond sets out to "liquidate" one Mr. Big, whose bizarre assets have been financing Soviet espionage in America...
Supernatural Suspense
When Bond's manhunt takes him into the heart of Harlem to face a death-dedicated voodoo cult known as the Black Widow...
Suspense All The Way
From New York's plush St. Regis Hotel to the urban ghetto where Mr. Big reigns like a king, to bloody Morgan's Cave in Jamaica and a scene of utter horror in which not all the villains are human...
Live and Let Die
Now a major motion picture from United Artists!

The Man With The Golden Gun by Ian Fleming
Published by Signet
The James Bond novel that topped the bestseller list for four months... a sensational film from United Artists!
The Man With The Golden Gun blasts into action with a shocker of a story that explodes into high-voltage adventure. This treacherous exploit pits Bond against a deadly archfiend - the golden-pistoled Scaramanga. Aided by sex-galore confederate Mary Goodnight, 007 battles Scaramanga in the most bloodcurdling death duel ever!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Am Dracula

I Am Dracula by C. Dean Andersson
Published by Zebra Books in October 1993
I have enjoyed the character of Dracula ever since I was a wee lad and saw Bela Lugosi appear as the undead count one Halloween season. I was also a big fan of the In Search Of series hosted by Leonard Nimoy and remember being fascinated by the Dracula episode and learning of Vlad Tepes for the first time. Needless to say I've read a few books and watched many more documentaries on the historical figure over the ensuing decades. Having an interest in both the fictional character and the historical figure, I'm rather demanding when it comes to mixing the two together; even in fiction.  If I'm reading a historical fiction book about Vlad the Impaler, I don't take kindly to the idea of him turning into a vampire. On the other hand, if the story is about Bram Stoker's creation and it mixes in the historical figure, then this can be quite entertaining, such as in C. Dean Andersson's I Am Dracula.
Reminiscent of Bram Stoker’s novel, I Am Dracula is written as if you were reading a book that was penned by Dracula himself. The story opens with four year old Vlad learning a deadly secret: he is told by his servant that she is actually his mother. His father, who has forbidden this secret to be revealed, finds out and has her executed for practicing witchcraft. Vlad is made to watch and holds his mother’s gaze as she is burned alive. Time goes on and young Vlad Dracula has a vision of a young gypsy girl whose name is Tzigane and she proclaims that one day they will marry.  This dream stays with Vlad as the story follows the historical Vlad Tepes as he and his brother, Radu, are given to the Turkish Sultan Mehmet II as hostages for their father’s betrayal. It is here, as it was for the historical figure, that Vlad is shaped into becoming the man of legend.
When history has sufficiently unfolded, Mehmet sends Vlad back to Wallachia to be his puppet on the throne; history has taught us the consequences of that decision. It is here in the novel that the fictional character’s story takes over. Shorty after his return to Targoviste, Vlad has the remains of his father and older brother, who were killed by their fellow nobles, found and interred in the family crypt. They prove to be vampires and are about to feed on Vlad when Tzigane appears and wards them off. She convinces him to meet her the following night at her cabin in the woods – she would enchant Vlad’s horse and it would take him to her if he came alone.
Vlad and Tzigane meet and the gypsy witch explains that he is to be Satan’s king on Earth and her his queen. Some time is spent in convincing him that Satan is not the evil one and that the false God of light is not all that he appears to be. They fall deeply in love and Tzigane begins to train Vlad in the ways of the occult in preparation for his role as king. Before that can come about, certain prophecies must be met. With Tzigane’s superior powers, she is able to help Vlad fulfill these prophecies – although he still struggles with the idea of Satan not being evil.
Vlad Dracula loses his throne, as did the historical figure, but here Vlad and Tzigane go to a secret coven of the undead where she becomes a vampire to help further Vlad’s occult powers and knowledge. He is at first repulsed by the very idea of the undead, but their love carries them through that obstacle and guides him to accept his destiny and become Satan’s Earthly king.
After years of training, the time has come for Vlad to once again return to the world of the living and finish fulfilling the prophecies by becoming a hero in his land and reclaiming his throne. The story then tells some more of the exploits of the historical figure until all the prophecies are fulfilled and Vlad has decided to join Tzigane in undeath as a vampire himself.
This he does, meets with Satan and learns many more occult secrets, including the ability to freely walk in the daylight; something that Tzigane has missed so very much. With Satan’s permission, he shares this knowledge with her and they spend the next day in the sunlight. On their return to the castle, Satan betrays them and gives Tzigane to the false God of light where she is to suffer an eternity of torture. Enraged, Dracula vows to destroy Satan and rescue his beloved. It’s not that easy though, as Satan used his powers and erased the memory of Tzigane from everyone’s mind, including Dracula’s. It takes him a year to remember her and in that time the legend that we know as Dracula is born.
Needless to say, Satan is outraged and so imprisons Dracula, who eventually manages to escape. It is here that he meets another witch, this one is not a follower of Satan or God, but Mother Earth. She helps Dracula regain his powers and remember his past lives which explains Satan's jealousy of Dracula and Tzigane's love. There's an interesting passage where it is said that they both have lived many different lives throughout the ages and have loved each other in all of them. It is also implied that one of Dracula's past lives was that of Jesus Christ! With the help of Mother Earth, they take the battle to Satan and the false God and are able to rescue Tzigane. Dracula nurses her back to life and they live together through the centuries...
The book turned out to be more of a love story than what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed I Am Dracula. It's an easy read and quite the page turner. I've read online that some people don't take kindly to this book and it's pagan/religious beliefs. I don't anything about that really, and just went along for the ride. And what a ride! The book kept my interest all the way through and I really wanted Dracula to rescue Tzigane before the end.  It's a little light on the historical Vlad the Impaler, but still a good read nonetheless.