Sunday, December 24, 2017

Doc Savage Covered (1937)

(1933) (1934) (1935) (1936) (1937) (1938) (1939) (1940) (1941) (1942) (1943) (1944) (1945) (1946) (1947) (1948) (1949)

To the world at large, Doc Savage is a strange, mysterious figure of glistening bronze skin and golden eyes. To his amazing co-adventurers--the five greatest brains ever assembled in one group--he is a man of superhuman strength and protean genius, whose life is dedicated to the destruction of evil-doers. To his fans he is the greatest adventure hero of all time, whose fantastic exploits are unequaled for hair-raising thrills, breathtaking escapes and blood-curdling excitement.

Moving (glacially) along with the Doc Savage covers:

From previous posts, you already know:
  • I'm going through all 181 Street & Smith pulps (by year of pulp publication) and their corresponding Bantam reprints. (The pulps were originally published between 1933 and 1949, and the reprints between 1964 and 1990.)
  • Emery Clarke and Walter Baumhofer painted the lion's share of pulp covers, and James Bama and Bob Larkin did most of the paperback artwork. (And of course, Lester Dent did most of the writing.)
  • Plot blurbs you see are from the reprints--the pulps had little three or four word blurbs on their covers--and slightly longer ones inside under the story's title--but nothing as blurb-tastic as those the reprints came up with later.
  • As far as commentary goes, I'm not doing a ton of it for each cover, but whenever something catches my fancy, I (usually can't help but) mention it.
  • You can click through most covers to see larger versions, using your browser's back button or a keyboard shortcut to get yourself back to the full post.
Okay then: 1937--let's get to it!

An aside: Last night I spur-of-the-moment-ly pulled out my (recently acquired) Bantam copy of Cold Death and--between last night and this morning--gave it a read. If you've read 1936's post, you know I waxed on about that 1968 Bantam cover's diesel locomotive--would it have been accurate to the 1936 story, did that type of engine actually exist in the mid thirties or would the story have featured a steam locomotive, etc.

Well, I'm sorry to say my re-read of the story has shined very little light on the situation. Dent doesn't mention what type of engine is pulling the train in-story. I researched the train's mentioned schedule name (it was the "Washington to New York Express"), and found there were a couple of real-life trains with that schedule name running between those cities in the mid-thirties.

Those trains were definitely being pulled by diesel engines in the photos I found of them online, but said photos were all late-nineteen-forties-onward and whose to say the same lines weren't running streamlined steam locomotives ten or fifteen years earlier when the story was originally written? As far as I could tell, diesel locomotives were pulling passenger trains at the time, but there were also plenty of steam locomotives in service too, and none of the write-ups I saw broke things down enough for me to tell what type was running when.

In the story, a "youthful fireman" is awed and impressed as Doc swings up into the engine's cab. Now, a fireman was what they called the guy who shoveled coal into a steam locomotive's firebox to keep its boiler hot. "Must be a steam engine after all," I'm thinking. But a few minutes later I'd read online the term "fireman" became a title used to describe an assistant engineer, steam engine or no steam engine, after diesel locomotives became more popular.

So I don't know, guess the jury's still out on what kind of engine Dent was envisioning when he wrote the story in 1936, and whether Bantam's 1968 cover was accurate to that or not. I'm sure a vintage train aficionado would have no trouble at all setting me straight, but until one of them reads this or the previous Doc Savage post and comments accordingly, we shall not know.

Okay. Moving on to 1937.

You'll notice the covers are back to being side by side, despite the extra work involved to get them that way--I just like the look better than Blogger's top to bottom way of doing things. Of course, if you're reading this on a mobile device, Blogger is giving you a top to bottom view regardless of how I've set things to look on a desk- or laptop. Nothing to be done about that.

So on we go.

Land of Long JuJu (January 1937 and April 1970) by Laurence Donovan

The ruthless power of The Shimba threatened to overthrow the good and gentle ruler of an African kingdom — and destroy forever the line of succession. Until the mighty Man of Bronze smashed the jungle menace and solved its terrible secret!

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

Hmm. Nothing new in the author/artist departments as we start the year off, here, although Donovan has stepped in for Dent again. And I notice there's a slight bit of re-titling between the two printings. (Either that or someone at Bantam somehow turned the original title's last word into two words by mistake.) Regardless of the how or why, Street & Smith's "JuJu" became Bantam's "Ju Ju."

As for the covers themselves, neither strikes me dead, mostly because in spite of my being a towering Tarzan fan, I'm not big on jungle adventures in general (go figure). But if I had to choose, I'd go with Harris's pulp cover: I like the movement going on there--less static than the reprint's cover art. Ol' Doc is on the defensive, that African warrior is poised to strike, and I like that you can see a bit of the plane Doc's just hopped out of--all comes together and gives the cover a little more life than Bama's.

The Derrick Devil (February 1937 and July 1973) by Lester Dent

A mysterious jellylike creature is terrorizing the Indian Dome Oil Field! The Man of Bronze and his five fantastic aides descend upon Oklahoma to do battle with dastardly Tomahawk Tant — and uncover the infernal secret of the weird monster from the depths of the earth.

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: Fred Pfeiffer

Heh. Doc and his aides descend upon Oklahoma. Dunno why that strikes me as funny, but it does. Feels like I should be hearing the Movie-Soundtrack-Dire-Warning-Tuba just after: Dunh-Dunh-Dunh!

Anyway, I'm going with pulp art, here too. While Bama's artwork definitely covers (no pun intended maybe just a tiny one) all the story elements--you got your derrick, your requisite jellylike creature and your Man of Bronze--nothing really (other than it being a Doc Savage adventure) says "pick me up and buy me--I'll thrill you to within an inch of your life!"

And the pulp cover doesn't really say that either, but it at least says "Buy me for a little 'unearthly menace,' and to find out what happens to Doc and his valiant female companion." And that works for me, well enough. Once more, it's the color vibrancy and the movement going on with the pulp cover that has me going for it. Sometimes the Bantam Minimal Palette thing wins out, even next to an exciting and colorful pulp cover, but not with this set (or the one before it).

The Mental Wizard (March 1937 and October 1970) by Lester Dent

The massive creature — a mile from head to toe! — sleeps in the steaming jungle. Is the behemoth real, or has the golden enchantress “Z” conquered the magnificent Man of Bronze with the hypnotic power of her superhuman mind? Doc Savage meets his mental match when he uncovers the strange lost kingdom of the deadly Amazon.

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

Yep. Goin' with the pulp again, but this time it's by a much slimmer margin. I really like that Bama Doc pose--pretty iconic. And the giant statue lying behind him is visually interesting (even if not remotely "a mile from head to toe"). And while this Harris pulp is not one of his strongest (according to my Personal-Interest-O-Meter), it still comes off as more interesting and entertaining than the reprint does. Bombs-a-hurling and so on. So yeah.

The Terror in the Navy (April 1937 and February 1969) by Lester Dent

A bizarre dictator unleashes a deadly force against the United States Navy: the mightiest vessels in the U.S. armada are sunk; warplanes are pulled from the clouds; and Doc Savage’s impenetrable sky fortress is ripped from the stratosphere! And the brash, strutting BRAUN demands one hundred million dollars in ransom from a nation in chaos. Only the Man of Bronze dares challenge the crushing power of this phantom force!

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

Ooh, things are heatin' up for both publishers, here in April. Two pretty nice covers, I think. As always, nice color-pop going on with the pulp--not a ton of action, but plenty of intrigue and tension in that scene. I like the ships in the background too. Nice detail. But oh, the mayhem afoot in that Bantam cover! That is something to behold. Wow. That's most definitely a pick-me-up-and-buy-me cover, amiright? Worth the click-through to see it close up. (Gowan, do it! You know you want to!)

So what's up with Doc's "impenetrable sky fortress"? Been too long since I read this one to remember what that actually refers to, but I'm getting visions of Nick Fury's Helicarrier in my head. Don't have a copy of this one to flip through and refresh myself on what a Doc Savage Sky Fortress in fact is. (Damn.)

Mad Eyes (May 1937 and March 1969) by Lawrence Donovan

Suddenly the air was filled with a thousand glistening reptiles. Suddenly Doc Savage became the cruelest of mass murderers. Suddenly the world was threatened with extinction by the contamination of its water supply. In the space of twenty-four hours the Earth became a seething storm of agony as the menace of the slithering madness struck in all its fury!

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

Okay. This cover blurb ROCKS. Not only am I loving that incredibly gratuitous use of the word "suddenly," not only is the promise of glistening reptiles, mass murderers and the threat of extinction totally egging me on, but the phrase "a seething storm of agony" is downright bringing me to my knees. Oh man, blurb-writing-man was in rare form that day.

And both these covers are pretty groovy to boot. Love the lighting on that pulp cover! A creepy cave, Double Doc Danger, and the requisite woman in a red dress (pretty sure it was a law that 90% of all pulp covers featuring damsels required said damsel to be wearing red) all combine to make the pulp cover a standout. And creepy floating Mad Eyes Guy on that Bama cover is, well, creepy! Wish the Bama cover was a little less muddy. I wonder if the original art was any brighter? I'll bet it was.

Over all, the pulp cover wins out for me here. (Way to go, Harris!) Oh, and Donovan's at the typewriter this time around as well.

Land of Fear (June 1937 and November 1973) by Harold A. Davis & Lester Dent

The skeleton death awaits all who come in contact with those from the land of fear — and the Man of Bronze is not immune. He and his dauntless allies pursue the mystery from New York to Africa, doing battle with Greens Gordon all the way.

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: Fred Pfeiffer

"Greens Gordon." Heh. Slight name change here, too: Bantam added "the" to the pulp's title (woo!). Harold Davis, who we've seen before, likely ghosted this one for Dent with Dent doing extensive rewrites (far as I can tell, that's what's going on when both he and another author are listed).

So it's weird that last month's pulp featured a Doc twin on its cover, and this month's Bantam has one. You wouldn't think they'd publish two stories in a row with Doc Doubles, would you? And no mention of a double in this one's blurb. Hmm. Dunno.

Anyway, I like this Bantam cover. Nothing very skeleton-y about it, but I like the general feel it has. Alas, clear winner with the pulp (again!), this time. You pretty much can't go wrong with a gun-wielding skeleton on a cover, amiright? That's just awesome, no bones about it. (Hah!)

He Could Stop the World (July 1937 and November 1970) by Lawrence Donovan

The world was imperiled by a terrifying, malevolent force that had the power to change men’s minds. Even Doc Savage’s own men willingly deserted him when struck by the waves of the Mind Changing Monster. High in the Sierras, he lived in an incredible fortress — ruthless, omnipotent, preparing to rule the world. But he hadn’t reckoned on the superhuman powers of the Man of Bronze.

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

You know, I love giants: stories about giants, pictures of giants, movies about giants. Not a fan of people being small-ified though--never have been. I don't remember if this story actually has Doc's crew meeting up with sundry gigantic things, or if they themselves have been shrunk down to doll-size. Pulp makes it look like the latter. Even so, it's a reasonably hip cover. Cooler than Bama's scene, which doesn't have much going on in it at all.

And it now strikes me I've had wildly differing measuring sticks for these covers, depending on the post, to this point. This time around I'm all about the vivid colors and action (pulps), but I remember in previous posts getting excited about the moodiness and limited palettes of those reprints. That's what happens when you're me I guess. You bounce around as the mood strikes you.
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself;
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)

Ost / The Magic Island (August 1937 and July 1977) by Lester Dent

By night, a fabulous city floats like a phosphorescent fantasy over the watery waste of the Pacific. The awestruck sailors who witness this miraculous sight find themselves gifted suddenly with superhuman powers. But by morning the phantasm — and its magic — have mysteriously vaporized. Stranger still, why are a certain crime kingpin and beautiful but ruthless heiress fascinated by the unearthly event? To come up — alive with an answer, the Man of Bronze will need all his incredible cunning and towering strength.

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: Bob Larkin

Oh-ho! Plenty to mention here! First off, we've got a real change-of-title going on. ...I wonder why? Ost wasn't catchy enough for late-70s hep-cats? I think that's a fine title, myself. Its obscurity and weirdness draw me in. But maybe Bantam thought the masses would be better hooked by promise of a magical, mysterious island. Either one gets the job done, I suppose.

And hey! This is Bob Larkin's very first Bantam Doc cover! How cool is that? I'm a big Bob Larkin fan (you can see some of his work here), and this reprint cover gets points just for being his. It's an interesting cover in its own right--I like the symmetry; I like Doc's overall pose and that fingers-outstretched hand in particular; I don't care much for his ultra-low widow's peak--that thing is almost joining up with his eyebrows. Although, a quick look back shows me pretty much everybody's been painting that peak in pretty low, but it being this low just looks silly to me. Still, cool cover.

And the Bantam cover's symmetry is mirroring the architecture we see in Harris's pulp as well, which is a nice callback. I of course like the color and action going on with the pulp; and those wee blue men who seem not to have lower torsos are cool, too. Hmm. If I had to choose a preference between these two (and I do)... think I'd go with... hmm, they're both nice.

Going with the Bantam, though. Had to be done. It's a slim lead, but I really like the iconic-ness of Larkin's cover. Yay, Bantam! First (no, second) time I've sided with Bantam this whole post. Which thought makes me have to go back right now and...


...find out how I've sided between pulp and reprint in the previous posts:

Huh. Surprised myself. I'd have thought I was preferring the reprints overall so far, and that this year's pulp covers were an anomaly. Turns out, from a total of 46 covers (10 in 1933, and 12 each in 1934, 1935 and 1936), I've sided 25 times with the pulp cover and 21 with the reprint. (Not that I stated a clear preference in every instance--more often than not I didn't--but in those cases I just made a quick decision for counting purposes.) At any rate, I seem to be fairly evenly divided, with just a slight propensity for the pulps overall.

Good to know. (Or is that yet again a tidbit only interesting to me?)

The Feathered Octopus (September 1937 and May 1970) by Lester Dent

Lured into a trap by a bogus appeal to his sense of goodness, Doc Savage saw a dangerous plot to gain control of all the world’s airlines. But the monstrous financial manipulator High Lar, his wife Lo Lar and their gang hadn’t counted on the superhuman strength and cunning of the Man of Bronze to uncover their evil plan!

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

Okay, Bantam Doc really needs to learn to use a bathing suit. Jumping into the ocean fully clothed is just not the best idea. Two nice covers here though, yeah? Points to the pulp for its more heated action and the fact that Harris's Doc actually looks like he's underwater, holding his breath. Looks like those bubbles next to Bama Doc's head might have been an afterthought. Plus I like Harris's octopus better. But like I say--both nice covers.

Repel / The Deadly Dwarf (October 1937 and September 1968) by Lester Dent

Cadwiller Olden was only three feet tall, but he was the most dangerous man on Earth. With his legion of brutal giants, and control of REPEL — a massive, devastating energy force — the murderous midget began an all-out assault against the defenseless bastions of the free nations. As the entire world huddles in fear, Doc Savage battles against the bizarre doll criminal, and the unleashed fury of his deadly tool of destruction, REPEL!

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

Okay. Another title-change here, obviously. (I'm preferring the original title, myself.) And that Bama cover is decent (a piss-poor scan but best I could come up with), but not holding a candle to the pulp for me. I realize it's a diving suit and speargun on Harris's cover, but it strikes that 1930s and 40s pulp-mag-spaceman chord that I love so much--it's almost giving me goosebumps. And really, if you took that water away Doc could be holding a ray gun, climbing around the inside of a golden age rocket ship, amiright? Extremely cool.

The Sea Angel (November 1937 and June 1970) by Lester Dent

One by one, the biggest wheeler-dealers in the financial world of New York mysteriously disappeared, never to be seen or heard of again — brutally gobbled up by The Silver Ogre. Until the Man of Bronze took up the eerie trail when the next victim was one of Doc’s own men!

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

Alright, who's gonna tell me that Bama's cover is not way cooler than its pulp counterpart? I mean, that's a nice figure study that Harris has done--nice we finally get to see Doc's unobscured pulp-era musculature in all its glory--but c'mon, that titular Sea Angel Bama has going is awesome.

You know, I had to double check this was the right blurb for the book--nothing about a Sea Angel at all, and with it calling out what seems to be a completely different villain/monster, I wasn't sure. But yep, that's what The Sea Angel's back cover points out--The Silver Ogre.

The Golden Peril (December 1937 and December 1970) by Harold A. Davis / Lester Dent

Few had known of the ancient Mayan kingdom which provided Doc Savage with billions of dollars in precious gold to finance his unceasing fight against evil. Threatened by The Leader and his international band of cutthroat warriors, the amazing Man of Bronze cunningly battles for the financial security and future peace of the entire world.

Artist: Robert George HarrisArtist: James Bama

And winding things up for the year with a return "to the scene of [Doc's] first adventure." Meh. Neither of these covers is flying my kite too high. Bama Doc looks like he's ready to kick ass and take names, though. If I had to pick a favorite from these two, it'd probably be the reprint for that very reason.

And I think this is the end of the line for Harris--last cover he did for the magazine. I'm looking back and really like several of the 14 he did in total, but my absolute favorite has to be his cover for Mad Eyes. Love the vibrancy of that thing.

Okay, I think that might do it for 1937. (1938 awaits, perhaps even looms....)

Friday, December 8, 2017

Airport '77 (1977) & Airport '77 (1977) by M. Scheff & D. Spector


Granted, it's been a year since I last saw the movie. A year ago was when I had a mind to watch all four Airport films (which I did) and do a blog post on the lot of 'em (which I didn't). But I recently came across Airport '77s novelization in a thrift store. Well, I bought it and gave it a read, so now I'm revisiting the theme, but with far lesser visions of grandeur.

So, you probably know the gist of all the Airport films, including 1977s watery take, but here's a quick rundown just in case. Over a 10 year span (which span just happened to encompass The Golden Age of Hollywood Disaster Films, and yes, I just made that term up--happens a lot around here) we had the following Airport movies:
  • Airport (1970), where we (yawn-inducingly) watch an airport manager trying to keep his airport open during a snowstorm, while a suicidal bomber tries to blow up a 707 inflight.
  • Airport 1975 (1974) Hah! You thought that release date was gonna be '75, didn't you? So did I. Anyway, here we have a guy who, while flying his wee plane, has a heart attack and crashes it into an also-flying 747.
  • Airport '77 (1977), where art thieves hijack a 747 and (accidentally) crash it under the ocean's surface (yikes!).
  • And finally, The Concorde ... Airport '79 (1979), where a corrupt arms dealer (repeatedly!) tries to down an SST that's carrying someone who's threatening to out him as a bad guy.
Yep. And, as with most film franchises, this one started out (at least somewhat) realistic in nature and with each sequel went farther and farther afield, ending with an infamous "Final Film of the Franchise" so ridiculous and making so little money, nobody ever made another one. A sad and oft-repeated Hollywood story.

For me, Airport '77 was the best of the lot. That first movie was really a drama with a bit of disaster thrown in, and all the films except '77 kept to mid-air thrills, which is fine as far as it goes. But combining mid-air thrills with trapped-beneath-the-ocean thrills? That's callin' my name long and loud. Now, '77 was towards the end of the film series, so of course there was plenty of disbelief to be suspended, but like I say, air disaster and underwater disaster?! In the very same film? I'm in. And while the premise was stretched paper thin--an airplane crash-landing in the ocean, sinking to the bottom and remaining intact with no one but the bad guys dead (at first)--it's a hell of a fun ride to this picture's end credits.

We had an all star "Disaster Movie Cast," too. (By law this requires mostly big names that are anywhere from a tiny bit to way past their Hollywood earning prime, with a few lesser known up and comers thrown in to boot.) Here was our cast for this one:
  • Jack Lemmon as Capt. Don Gallagher
  • Lee Grant as Karen Wallace
  • Brenda Vaccaro as Eve Clayton
  • Joseph Cotten as Nicholas St. Downs III
  • Olivia de Havilland as Emily Livingston
  • James Stewart as Philip Stevens
  • George Kennedy as Joseph "Joe" Patroni
  • Darren McGavin as Stan Buchek
  • Christopher Lee as Martin Wallace
  • Robert Foxworth as Chambers
  • Robert Hooks as Eddie
  • Monte Markham as Banker
  • Kathleen Quinlan as Julie
  • Gil Gerard as Frank Powers
  • James Booth as Ralph Crawford
  • Monica Lewis as Anne
  • Maidie Norman as Dorothy
  • Pamela Bellwood as Lisa Stevens
  • Arlene Golonka as Mrs. Jane Stern
  • Tom Sullivan as Steve
  • M. Emmet Walsh as Dr. Williams
  • Michael Pataki as Wilson
  • George Furth as Gerald Lucas
  • Richard Venture as Commander Guay
  • Elizabeth Cheshire as Bonnie Stern
  • Anthony Battaglia as Benjy
Wow. That list was longer than I expected it to be. And now I'm psychically unable to move on without pointing out who my favorites are and why. Sit tight, won't take long:

We've been hijacked!
By vampires!
We've got Lee Grant, for being a Columbo Killer and Mrs. Colbert in In the Heat of the Night; James Stewart, for Harvey, Rear Window, etc. (Besides, he's James Stewart, amiright?); Darren McGavin, 'cause--hello!--Carl Kolchak! (And A Christmas Story, and....); Christoper Lee, so many reasons why.... except possibly not for that Howling sequel--but he even managed to class that one up a bit; Robert Foxworth, an (I think) underrated actor I've greatly enjoyed in several movies and TV shows, including The Questor Tapes (he was a Columbo Killer, too!); Monte "The Seven Million Dollar Man" Markham; Gill "Buck Rogers" Gerard; and, last but not least, Michael "Captain Barbera" Pataki.

Okay. Back to airplanes. So you probably already know the in-depth (no pun intended) drill on this movie's plot, and if you don't, Wikipedia gives you a nice rundown, so I don't think I'll go into that. I mean, there's plenty out there on this movie already, for those who want screenshots and plot details. I'll just wander along the fringes, as I'm wont to do.

I think, when it comes down to it, what does it for me in this film--what takes it above the other three movies and makes it my favorite--is the unspeakable tension of people being trapped in an air filled box that's slowly filling up with water. Oy vey, what a way to go! After all, The Poseidon Adventure is one of my very favorite disaster films of all time, and this is basically The Poseidon Adventure with wings. Well, "Poseidon Light," might be more apt to say.

Has anyone seen my
friend? About 6 feet
tall, with floppy ears?
You know, until I re-watched the film, I'd been under the (mistaken) impression the plane crashed just barely underwater, with it's tail fin sticking out, and that's how they were finally spotted and rescued. Not so. They were, like, hundreds of feet underwater, and pretty much invisible from the surface. But getting a look at the novelization, whose cover mirrors the movie's poster, I realized I was remembering that image versus actual film content.

By the way, give that movie poster up top a click-through to see that tail fin large-and-in-charge. It's a beautiful illustration, and researching it's artist led me to yet another amazing talent. Guy's name was Jack Leynnwood and he was mostly known for doing plastic model kit packaging art. Check out that link on his name, and this one too, for background and groovy artwork.

Leynnwood did a lot of extremely cool stuff, including some amazingly detailed aviation illustrations, but my two favorites (from those I came across today) are most definitely not aviation themed:


So, the novelization for Airport '77 was actually done by the film's two screenwriters, which I figure is often-but-not-always a good thing, since a screenwriter's going to know their story and characters well right off the bat and can more easily flesh things out for a novel. Assuming said screenwriter is talented to begin with, and these two fellows seem to have been talented enough.

David Spector has a whopping two writing credits on IMDB: the screenplay for this film, and another disaster (tele)film called Skyway to Death from 1974. Michael Scheff was a bit more prolific, Hollywood-wise anyway, with 23 credits of mostly TV stuff, including Murder She Wrote, Hart to Hart and (ouch) Mrs. Columbo. (He also worked on Skyway to Death.)

And who's to say what else these guys have done? IMDB doesn't keep track of anything but Hollywood, so one or both might have gone on to do a lot of non-Hollywood writing or whatnot. My quick and dirty search didn't yield even enough information to know if they're both still living, let alone what else they've accomplished professionally in their lifetimes. I'll just assume they've both made good in life and either died happy or are still enjoyably plugging along until I hear different.

As for the novelization itself, it's a trim little book, clocking in at just over 200 pages (hijack begins on 75 and they hit the oil rig on 104, to give you an idea of the pacing). Not a lot of padding or extra scenes (in fact I don't recall any scenes not in the movie), but it does have plenty of silent dialog (is that a real term? probably not), what with the various characters thinking things to themselves, that you obviously wouldn't have in the film. (Man, that would be annoying, hearing an entire ensemble cast's silent-thought-voice-overs all throughout a movie like this.) But for the book it works nicely, giving us backstory and more depth for pretty much everyone involved.

Oh, you know what? There is a short scene in the book where a guy named Callahan delivers the knockout gas to the two art thieves. We get a little back story on him as he drives to the rendezvous point and hands over the canister. So that's a book thing not in the movie. That's the only one I remember, but there might have been one or two more little things. Still, nothing major to be found here versus the film.

Let's see, what else did I notice as I went through the book? Mostly little differences, like:
  • Joseph Banker, who is the lead bad guy in the book (seemed like Wilson was in charge in the movie), doesn't do the fake mustache and cheek inserts thing when he puts on that maintenance man disguise in the airport's locker room.
  • Eve Clayton has close cropped hair, actress Brenda Vaccaro did not. 
  • Copilot Chambers is a lot more nervous and subservient, and it's actually pointed out with backstory he's being coerced/blackmailed due to gambling debts, which I'm pretty sure wasn't a thing in the film.
  • There's a lot more Air Traffic/Coast Guard/Navy descriptive rah-rah stuff in the book... which is to be expected. You gotta offset the whole plane going down thing with how amazing and efficient the rescue efforts would be in a story like this.
  • We get to witness Banker's death in the cargo hold--crushed and drowned--in more excruciating detail, and it's better explained that the  cargo hold breach is what sinks the plane so quickly. Probably technically in the film too, but things are moving so fast onscreen it's hard to pick up all the details.
Oh, and you know what else is different between the book and movie? And I didn't notice this until after I was completely finished with the novel, but Joe Patroni is nowhere to be found in this book, not even a name drop. Hmm. Makes me wonder if the screenwriters were against the idea altogether and it was a studio thing, getting George Kennedy back for the film. Could be they took the opportunity with the novelization to write him back out. (Purely supposition on my part, of course.)

For those not in the know, George Kennedy was the only actor who appeared in all four films, recurring his role as Joe Patroni. The character differs wildly from film to film, going from being a chief mechanic in Airport, to a vice president of operations in Airport 1975, to a consultant in Airport '77, and finally an airline pilot in The Concorde ... Airport '79. Not only does Patroni's job title change, the character's personality is all over the map from movie to movie. Just as well to have him out of this story, I think--wasn't missed by me, obviously, since I didn't notice his omission 'til after I'd finished the book. And it seems to me the character had the least to do in this movie, anyway. So yeah.

And that's it for this go around. I don't know what is it about seeing a 747 go down that's so alluring to me. Obviously, it's a horrifying scenario in real life, but fictionalized versions of this kind of thing are so fascinating to me. Hmm. Makes me wonder why I don't have more disaster films here at DMB. Might have to rectify that....

Oh, and in the way of brain counts, I'd have to say both the film and its novelization are pretty much even-steven as far as enjoyment factor goes. Neither offers more or less Disaster Glee than the other, but getting the same story through such differing mediums is interesting enough in itself that you'd do well to give both a shot. In my humble opinion. So I'm giving both the book and the film:


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era (&) Now Playing -- Two Podcasts You Can't Live Without

As in you might actually stop living if you don't listen to these casts on at least a semi-regular basis. Now that's a serious sounding statement (woo, three s words in a row!), and I'm not trying to scare anyone unnecessarily by saying it, but you gotta trust me when I tell you I really do have your best interest at heart here.

Now here's the thing: I used to listen to a whole lot of podcasts. Then, as life got busier, I listened to fewer (and fewer, and fewer still), until one day I woke up and realized I wasn't much of a podcast listener anymore at all. Except for these two. These podcasts just aren't give-up-able no matter how busy a fellow gets. So I'm doing the right thing, and pointing them out loud to you, so you can then do the right thing. (And listen to them. That's your Right Thing in this scenario.)

And in case you were wondering, "pointing out loud" is a combination of "pointing out" and "saying right out loud"--as in I am not even whispering this quietly from the shadows. Nope, this is loud and proud, boldly-stated Advice for Better Living, right here. These are both fantastic podcasts that no deadmans regular-stopper-by-er, or even one-time-passerby-er, should be trying to struggle through life without--it's just not necessary. Life can be challenging enough without missing out on amazing genre movie podcasts to boot, amiright?

So then. Our first must-have is most appropriately titled Decades of Horror: The Classic Era.

Now this is an amaz-ulous (so amazing as to make one incredulous, natch) 1960s and earlier horror film dissection reminiscence podcast, and it's part of Gruesome Magazine's larger Decades of Horror lineup.

Said lineup also includes podcasts devoted to 70s, 80s and 90s horror, respectively. But the Classic Era cast is far and away my favorite. (The 70s cast does take a very reasonable second place, in my mind. If you're wondering.) A lot of parentheses going on here today, aren't there? (Aren't there?) (And italics, too!) (And exclamation points!!)

Okay. Back to the podcast. It's hosted by four groovy souls who are obviously nuts about old horror films, and each of 'em brings a unique and enjoyable perspective to their every-other-week discussions. Here's who they are, shamelessly copied and pasted from their bios at Gruesome Magazine):
Chad Hunt is The Art Director and Copy Editor for Gruesome Magazine quarterly print edition. He is also a comic book artist and writer whose credits include work for Marvel, DC, Image, Dark Horse and various independent companies. A lifelong horror fan, Chad cut his horror teeth on Universal monsters and Kaiju as a kid and hasn't looked back. Also infamously known for playing Black Sabbath riffs on the guitar at an unholy volume.

Erin Miskell is a horror fan that hails from the Western New York region. A love of Poe at a young age turned into exposure to Vincent Price, which lead to a deep love of classic horror films. International horror from France and South East Asia has become a staple of her diet, which mixes well with her tendency to gravitate toward shlock horror and comedy. Erin loves to analyze films and their meanings, and does so at her site, The Backseat Driver Reviews ( When not watching or writing about film, you can find her listening to music and spending time with her children.

Jeff Mohr lives smack dab in the middle of the cornfields of Iowa and is a long time horror fan. His first remembered encounters with the genre were The Wizard of Oz, Tarzan gorilla chases, and watching the first broadcast of The Twilight Zone episode, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” While he now qualifies as an old fart, he strives to be an “Old Boy.” Paraphrasing Robert Bloch, he has the heart of a small boy. He keeps it in a jar on his desk. Jeff has written for and SQ Horror Magazine and co-hosted the SQ Bloodlines podcast. He currently writes for Gruesome Magazine and is co-host of the Decades of Horror The Classic Era and 1970s podcasts.

Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
Not sure what I can add to those bios, other than to tell you these folks all have serious heart: they obviously love and care about what they're doing and they all show up as real, which reflects extremely well on the cast they're putting out. Oh, and they're having a blast while doing it. That's pretty darn apparent, too.

Now, the podcast itself is fairly new--just started in January of 2017--and the group is only sixteen (seventeen if you count their introductory "Episode Zero," which is well worth a listen) episodes in as of this writing. But what a set of episodes! Take a look at the films these folks've covered so far:
Psycho (1960)
Man-eater of Hydra (1967)
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
King Kong (1933)
The Tingler (1959)
IT! (1967)
The Thing From Another World (1951)
Freaks (1932)
The Queen of Spades (1949)
The Last Man on Earth (1964)
The Mummy (1932)
Village of the Damned (1960)
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920)
Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Half Human (Jû jin yuki otoko) (1955)
So out of sixteen movies, that's a 20s, four 30s, a 40s, four 50s, and six 60s, so far. A pretty decent decade-spread, as well as a nice mix of well-knowns versus not-so-wells. Depending on the movie, you'll be listening to the group lovingly knock, reverently pay tribute to, unashamedly geek out over and generally dig right to the bone every behind and in-front-of camera thing-to-be-known-that-can-be-known. Great Stuff.

So yeah. That's the first podcast I flat out make time to listen to. (AND YOU CAN TOO.) So worth a more than casual listen.

And now you're wondering what's the other podcast is that I just can't give up? Well I'm glad you asked. It's this one:

Now Playing is not a new podcast. In fact, they've been around for ten years and have... I don't know, hundreds of episodes in their archives--close to a thousand, I'd guess. They specialize in retrospectives of entire genre film series right across the board--horror, action, sci-fi, superhero, you name it. Endless movies to choose from at this place.

If you've always wanted to hear in-depth discussions of all four Jaws films (that's the Google search that turned me onto these guys in the first place), or coverage of every Planet of the Apes film from 1968 to present, or just wished somebody would talk about those besmirched 1970s Marvel TV movies you love so much but can hardly sit through these days, these folks are gonna be your go-to's.

Who are they? Well, the crew can change depending on which series is being covered, but the three guys you're most likely to hear are these (who's bios are also shamelessly copied and pasted in from their own website):
Arnie graduated with a standard liberal-arts degree in Communications where he studied filmmaking, TV and Radio production, and creative writing.  His papers and projects usually involved Freddy or Jason, and his Senior Thesis was a literary deconstruction of Clive Barker's Imajica. In 2005 Arnie took that background along with his web design skills and entered Podcasting with the award-winning Star Wars Action News - the first podcast dedicated to Star Wars collecting.  From there he created more podcasts including Now Playing, the book review podcast Books & Nachos, and the Marvel toy collecting podcast Marvelicious Toys. Along that way he has interviewed celebrities including Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Keenan Thompson, and Robert Englund,  He has traveled across the country and to Germany to present on Star Wars collectibles and podcasting. You can read his random thoughts on Twitter at @thearniec. Favorite Movies: Star Wars: A New Hope, The Professional, A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: The Dream Warriors, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Guardians of the Galaxy, Its a Wonderful Life.

Contrary to his on-air nickname, Stuart is not a native of Los Angeles or even California.  He was born in Atlanta, GA, and grew up just a few blocks from fellow host Arnie in central Illinois. Friends since the second grade, Stuart and Arnie have launched several unusual business ventures prior to their collaboration on Now Playing Podcast:  detective agency, breakdancing crew, 80s synth pop band, and they are the original creators of Star Wars: Episode VII (suck it, JJ!!). Stuart attended Columbia College Chicago with the goal of one day being able to apply his Film Studies degree to slasher movie sequels and comic book-based television shows from the 1970s.  He has lived in Los Angeles since the early 2000s. Stuart joined Now Playing Podcast in 2008 as a special guest co-host for The Midnight Meat Train and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.  He became a full-time host when Now Playing debuted the Friday the 13th Retrospective Series in 2009. In addition to his hosting duties, Stuart is responsible for scheduling Now Playing review, and he co-founded the Books & Nachos podcast, dedicated to reviewing all forms of print media. Favorite Movies: Silence of the Lambs, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, Network.

Jakob wrote his first screenplay at age 7 after seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark.  A few years later he wrote his second screenplay after seeing Die Hard. They were terrible scripts, because they were written by a child. Jakob currently spends his time finding cultural significance in exploitation films, feeling clueless every time he attempts to get into French New Wave cinema, and obsessing over the Step Up franchise. Favorite Movies: 2001: A Space Odyssey, Robocop (1987), Fight Club, Step Up 3, The Royal Tenenbaums.
These guys have great on-air chemistry, and it's a blast-and-a-half to listen to the same group of folks covering what can sometimes amount to decades across a particular film franchise, comparing changes in directors, actors, script quality, and so on.

The vast majority of their current and archived stuff is free, but you can also donate to hear additional premium podcasts, and buy access to the older premium stuff they keep in their vault. Both current and vault premium podcasts are reasonably priced, and I've yet to shell out my cash and be disappointed.

So just for fun, here's a list of the various retrospectives the group has done to date. Now, keep in mind, each of these retrospectives includes multiple films, and they also have a ton of one-off casts not listed here.... (And again, just for fun, I've bolded the series I've already had the pleasure of listening to.)
2001 and 2010 Space Odyssey
28 Days/Weeks Later
Avengers - Some Assembly Required
Back to the Future
Bad Boys
Battle Royale
Before.... Films
Black Christmas
Blair Witch Project
Child's Play
Children of the Corn
Christopher Nolan
Daredevil & Elektra
Dark Tower
DC Heroes
DC Hitmen
DC Movie Universe
DC Teams
Die Hard
Different Seasons - Stephen King's Novellas
Evil Dead
Fantastic Four
Fast and the Furious
Final Destination
Friday the 13th
Fright Night
G.I. Joe
Ghost Rider
Green Lantern
Hannibal Lecter
Horror Films of 1986
Human Centipede
Hunger Games
Independence Day
Indiana Jones
James Bond
John Wick
Jurassic Park
Karate Kid
Lawnmower Man
Living Dead
Living Dead Official Remakes
Lord of the Rings
Lord of the Rings Animated
Lost Boys
Mad Max
Martin Scorsese / Leonardo DiCaprio
Marvel Comics Misfits
Men in Black
Mission: Impossible
Nightmare on Elm Street
Ocean's Eleven
Pet Sematary
Philip K Dick
Pirates of the Caribbean
Planet of the Apes
Quentin Tarantino
Resident Evil
Return of the Living Dead
Rob Zombie's House of 1000 Corpses & The Devil's Rejects
Salem's Lot
Sci-Fi Summer of 1986
Short Circuit
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Simon Pegg / Nick Frost
Sometimes They Come Back
Speed Racer
Star Trek
Star Wars
Stephen King Night Shift
Steven Spielberg Alien Films
Swamp Thing
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Thing From Another World
Twin Peaks
Westworld / Futureworld
Wild at Heart
Wonder Woman
 And that's it.

Decades of Horror: The Classic Era, and Now Playing.

Go forth and listen.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Jaws: How big was that shark? (Part 2) (woo!)

This is what happens when you're me: you're going about your business (as one does), and you get notified of a new comment on your first "How big was that shark?" post (in which you geeked out, tracking down shark sizes in all the Jaws movies and novels). So you take a look, and the guy is wondering about the size of the shark on the paperback cover/movie poster. Then you look back at the other comment (two comments on a post is pretty hoppin' around here) and you realize that guy was curious about the poster shark's size, too.

And that gets you to thinking. 

So, you start poking around the internet, seeing what you can see on the subject. (Not much.) You try some image searches. (Nothing.) And then all of a sudden it's hours later and you're looking at a bunch of new graphics you cobbled together and those hours are gone forever.

But. You know how big the shark was.

And that makes it all worth it.

So here's what happened: the short(ish) version of the story.

Everybody knows Benchley's Book Shark was twenty feet long, and Spielberg's Movie Shark was twenty five (three tons of him). But the iconic painting used for both paperback and movie? Well, we only ever saw the head, but no chance that beast was only twenty feet long. Thing looks to be whale-sized! So, how big would it be if we could see "the head, the tail, the whole damn thing"? (See what I did there, sneaky Quint reference?)

Well. Nothing out there that I could find on how big this famous fish of Roger Kastel's would be if we were seeing more than just its head: No wonderings, no guess work, no sketches, no nothing. So, I took it upon myself.

First off, I ended up making use of a shark image I found through a Google image search, done by a digital artist who goes by the username of polterizer. I didn't exactly ask his permission first, 'cause I was on a roll, but I'm really hoping he thinks that what I did with his image is as cool as I think it is, and won't take issue with usage. But if he does (I'll try contacting him through the forum I found the image on), I'll take this post down and possibly-but-not-likely redo it later with another shark image, if I can find another one that works. (When you see his image, you'll know what I mean--it's perfect for what we're doin' here.)

Okay. So I started with the image below, adapted from the famous painting we all know and love. (Technically it's not the painting, as that was originally done in a portrait format. This landscape-formatted deal I'm assuming is something somebody's Photoshopped together for an admittedly nice panoramic effect. But you get the gist--same Chrissie and same shark here as the original.)

Now this tells us two things--how big Chrissie (the nude swimmer from the book/movie) is, and how big the shark's head is. Not terribly helpful, and something we've all been staring at for decades without the full shark's size magically becoming apparent to us. What we need is a shark body to go with that head. (Right?)

But first things first, let's get Chrissie turned around so she's pointed along the shark's length, and then position her so her toes are right at the tip of its nose. Chrissie will be our measuring stick.

Now the question becomes how long is Chrissie, in this painting, from toe to tip of outstretched hand? Glad you asked. Susan Backlinie is five foot eight, according to IMDB. (Now I know, Susan played Chrissie in the movie, and the painting was done well before the movie was out, so how can we assume Painting-Chrissie is the same size as Movie-Chrissie?) We can't, but I'm going to.

Here's what happened in my head for this part: Chrissie is five-eight standing flat-footed on the ground. But here, she's got her feet and arms outstretched, 'cause she's swimming, and that's gonna add to her overall height/length. So I checked my own feet: stretched out on the couch, one foot flat and the other pointy-toed. The pointy foot stretched out an inch more than my phone is long (phones make good rulers), making pointy-toed foot about 6 inches longer. But of course I have man feet and Chrissie doesn't, so I'm just giving her four inches for her pointy-toed swimming feet.

Then I measured my wife's and my forearms (she's always happy to help with experiments like this) from elbow to fingertips. Hers was 14 inches and mine was almost seventeen. Let's put Chrissie's between the two of ours, at 16 inches. But. In the painting her arm's not totally stretched out--her elbow's a little crooked and her fingers curl in a bit, so with that I'm giving her 12 inches for the arm.

Right. So that makes Chrissie 5 feet 8 inches, add four inches for her outstretched feet, and 12 inches for the outstretched arm. That makes her seven feet from toes to fingertips in this painting. (I just said it so it must be true.) Now we need a shark body to measure our yardstick against.

And that's right where polterizer's perfect shark image comes in. Take a look:

Look familiar at all?

Try turning it ninety degrees to your right....

Well, well! Suddenly quite reminiscent of a certain movie poster shark we're all familiar with!

Now, watch this....

Not a perfect match, I know, but pretty darn close. Kastel's shark has an exaggerated (per paperback cover/movie poster rules) jaw and outsized teeth, so it looks a tiny bit odd pasted over a much more realistically rendered shark, but the general torpedo shape of head and body come together quite nicely and I think what we have here is a reasonable depiction of what we might have seen if Kastel had kept on painting downward, back in the day.

So let's take our 7 foot Chrissie-Ruler and do us some measurin'.

Voila! Looks like seven Chrissies, toe to fingertip, with a bit of tail left over. Seven times seven is 49 feet, and let's give that bit of tail at the bottom... say, 3 feet... for a grand total of:


And that's my official take on how big the Jaws movie poster shark is.

You're welcome.

By the way, I still haven't heard back from the maker of that image I used here, but I did track down his actual name (Carlos Parmentier) and website. You can see more of his shark (and lots of other stuff) there. Pretty groovy.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Carnivores (1993) by Penelope Banka Kreps


Okay, I totally thought my next post would be something about King Kong, but here I am, talking about Carnivores instead. That happens sometimes. A lot, actually--thinking I'm going to be writing about one thing and then writing about some other thing, I mean. Don't worry, King Kong will have his day in court. I'm not sure what I mean by that. Oh. Sure I am. I mean the KK post is already in process and on the way, but this one seemed to want to jump in ahead, so I'm letting it.)

Wow. That was terribly, terribly rambl-y and digression-y. But that's the kind of thing that goes on in my head when I don't censor. Then again, if I did a better job censoring (here in these hallowed halls), my posts would all run about three sentences long. And where'd be the fun in that?

Anyway, no King Kong today, but we do have several prehistoric (mostly non-carnivorous) beasts, and they are BACK TO KILL! At least, so says the novel's front cover. Really, they're just back to breed and live out their lives in relative peace as far from human beings as possible. But peaceful living far away from humans does not sell books, does it, and so what we have here in this book is a clear-cut case of "Robin Brown's Megalodon Syndrome."

What's that? You say you've never even heard of that syndrome? Well, you can read about it here.

Yep. This is another one of those what-if-boringly-genuine-and-realistic-people-happened-to-run-across-boringly-genuine-and-realistic-prehistoric-animals stories that, in an attempt to gain more sales, IS MASQUERADING as a blood-and-guts-dinosaur-runs-amock story. Probably marketed as such with little or no input from its author, if my guess is right. So. I think I might've just said all I have to say about the book, right there in those previous two sentences.

Psssh, that's never true. I always find something to say, even if it ends up being only marginally related (and sometimes downright unrelated).

So. The first thing I noticed with this book was what looks to be a garden variety crocodile on the cover. (It's definitely not the prehistoric croc described in-story.) Naturally I figured it was a killer crocodile novel, which genre I'm not generally into, and I almost put it back down. But then a glance at the back cover told me it was not a killer croc on front, but (evidently) some kind of prehistoric killer croc. "Okay," I thought, " the prehistoric angle makes it worth a few hours of my time." And into the book bag it went.

So now, between the book's cover image and back cover blurb, I'm thinking: multiple prehistoric crocodilians running amuck in the everglades, due to some kind of earthquake thingie that lets them all out of the ancient underground cavern they've been living in all these eons. But then I read the inside front cover blurb (neither it or the back cover blurb were written by the author, as was apparent after I started reading the actual novel) and there's a vaguely described elephantine creature with a spiked tail lopping someone's head off. Doesn't sound at all like a crocodile to me, and now I'm confused. But I keep reading, 'cause at the very least, cover art and blurbs have set me up for some kind of prehistoric animal attack bloodbath.

But that isn't what I ended up getting. What I got was more or less a lower grade Jurassic Park (novel, not movie) clone, with fleshed out, reasonably intelligent characters encountering natural and realistically portrayed prehistoric animals. Not a lot of deaths to be had, and those that did occur were along the lines of "got too close to the nest and its protective momma" or "surprised and frightened the usually peaceful herbivore, which then attacked." Not much in this book in the way of "bone-crushing jaws and blood-dripping teeth" or beasts "hungry for the sweet taste of a new kind of prey called humans," as that back cover would have me believe.

So the plot of the book is basically that, due to some kind of fuzzy sci-fi novel science, regular everglade animals are giving birth to their de-evolutionized prehistoric ancestors, along with a couple subplots around modern folks who's minds (but not bodies) are reverting to a primitive state due to the same fuzzy science that has dinosaurs physically hatching from alligator's and bird's eggs, and a lost tribe who's been hanging out (undetected) in the everglades for thousands of years. The cause behind all these dinosaurs and caveman mentalities has nothing at all to do with earth tremors, or caverns, or any such thing. Near as I could tell, the cause was due to solar radiation and the ozone layer and recessive genes shared by both animals and humans. Along those lines, anyway.

Overall, this is a decently written story, that's awfully short on people running for their lives from hideously aggressive prehistoric mutants. So the brain count the book ends up with reflects it being decently written, with points lost for not being what it's marketed as. (Again! How many times will you do this to me, Paperback Novel Gods?!)

Anyway. The official brain count is:


Yeah. So I couldn't find a thing on the woman who wrote this story, other than that she wrote another book the year before for the same publisher. I'm reasonably sure the author really is named Penelope Kreps, due to that being an unusual name and my Google search bringing up someone with the name living/having lived in Florida where the novel takes place. But there's not much information to be had other than that she exists. I wonder if she published anything else, under other names. I'm always curious about these things.

Oh. In case you were wondering, the book at least mentions the following beasties as it goes along:

Mentioned and seen in passing....

I think one nonfatal encounter with these guys.

We see these a fair bit. They're probably as close to a main antagonist as it gets.

Seen in passing-- I wish there'd been even a little killer Dunk-action!

See these fellas a couple times. One kills a guy.

These are just mentioned (as cubs) in the epilogue's zinger.

Here's the other main-ish creature. One kill, I think, but mostly
we're watching scientists go all doe-eyed over captured babies.

And that's it. Hopefully something King Kong-esque next time. And I really want to get back to the Bionics in Miniature soon....