April 2023

THOMAS M. DISCH “Voices of the Kill.” First published in Full Spectrum, edited by Lou Aronica & Shawna McCarthy (Bantam Spectra, paperback original, September 1988). Reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy: Second Annual Collection, edited by Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling (St. Martin’s Press, trade paperback, 1989). Collected in The Wall of America (Tachyon, softcover, 2008).

   Thomas M. Disch was an author almost as well-known for his poetry as he was for his unique blend of science fiction and fantasy. While “Voices of the Kill” is a fantasy tale through and through, it is poetry as well, and in a way as opaque to me as most poetry is.

   It is the story of a man who, living alone in a cabin along a stream, falls in love (of sorts) with the flowing water, or (perhaps better said) is seduced by the stream, lying at night as he does in its waters and soothing embrace, listening to it talk to him.

   I do not know why Nixie asks him to place a twenty dollar bill under a stone in its (her?) depths. When William’s cousin Barry comes to visit, the overnight stays in the stream must end. When the two travel down it to its outlet into the sea, Nixie is annoyed.

   And what is the significance of the black woman in a pea-green swimsuit who is playing there with her son on the beach? (She does return.)

   In spite of these and other questions I cannot answer, the effect of this story is one I cannot get out of my head. Good poetry (and fantasy) can have an amazing effect on one’s mind. It is no wonder this was the lead story in the Full Spectrum anthology where it first appeared.

TIGHTROPE! “The Chinese Pendant.” Screen Gems / CBS, 29 March 1960 (Season 1, Episode 28). Michael Connors. Guest cast: Ted de Corsia, Mary Castle, Philip Ahn, Lisa Lu, Jeanne Carmen (as Saba Dareaux). Directed by Irving J. Moore.

   Tightrope! the TV series lasted but one season on CBS, but that was back when a season consisted of well over 30 episodes, in this case 37, running throughout the entire 1959-60 season. Mike Connors played an undercover cop in each of the stories, every week getting into scrape after scrape, but managing to escape just in the nick of time at the end.

   He has two problems hanging over him in “The Chinese Pendant.” The first he knows about – trying to get in with a mob boss by posing as a skilled diamond thief – the other he doesn’t – that of a would-be killer whom Connors sent to prison, and who wants revenge.

   Narrating the stories, Connors had a new name in each episode, but apparently he often went by “Nick.” Even though posing as a crook, he was suave enough to catch the eye of some very good-looking women; two, in fact, in this episode. Old time movie fans will recognize the name of Philip Ahn, who plays a fence this time around and whose career lasted some 40 years or more. His daughter, played by Lisa Lu, you may remember as Hey Girl in the Have Gun, Will Travel TV series, and who quite remarkably is still active today.

   There’s a lot of plot in “The Chinese Pendant,” and one could only wish the show was 60 minutes long instead of a very cramped 30 minutes. I enjoyed the series immensely back when it was originally on, and I enjoyed it equally so the other night when I discovered this episode on YouTube. See below, if still there:

WORLDS OF TOMORROW – May 1967. Editor: Frederik Pohl. Cover artist: [Douglas] Chaffee. Overall rating: ***½.

FRED SABERHAGEN “Stone Man.” Novelette. One planet in the universe is such that time is a variable capable of physical control. The berserkers’ attempt to destroy life there takes them back to the time of the first colonists so that the race can be exterminated at once. Very human story of conflict and life in wartime. (4)

      ADDED UPDATE: Taken from Wikipedia:

   â€œThe Berserker series is a series of space opera science fiction short stories and novels [begun in 1963] by Fred Saberhagen, in which robotic self-replicating machines strive to destroy all life.

   “These Berserkers, named after the human berserker warriors of Norse legend, are doomsday weapons left over from an interstellar war between two races of extraterrestrials…”

DOUGLAS R. MASON “Squared Out with Poplars.” A mad scientist uses human brains for his computers. A strange excuse for a love story. (2)

DAVID A. KYLE “Base Ten.” Novelette. A missing little finger keeps a man marooned in space for eighteen years. A different story of “first contact.” (5)

SIMON TULLY “Whose Brother Is My Sister?” Novelette. Alien scientists combine with those of Earth to prove a theoretical relationship between space and time. Their efforts to stop time do not succeed entirely, as the flow of time is simply reversed. The alien culture is superbly created. (4)

MACK REYNOLDS “The Throwaway Age.” Novelette. A spy who thinks of the enemy as “commies” is assigned to infiltrate a new group concerned with the waste of America’s resource and man-power. Reynolds has good points, but tells a poor story. (3)

– March 1968
by Walker Martin


   Several long time collectors have been renting a van and driving out from New Jersey to Chicago for at least a dozen years. Ed Hulse has always been the driver, but this year he retired as our chauffeur and decided to fly to the convention. It may be true that we behaved in such an exasperating manner that we drove him to give up his position. It didn’t help that behind his back I often referred to him as “Jim”, which was based on the character in the Major series of pulp stories by Greene. In the series The Major had an assistant named Jim who drove and performed various duties and we also had a Major in the van (E.P. Digges La Touche).

   Anyway, thanks for your years of service, Ed. The new drivers are now Scott Hartshorn and Nick Certo, both of whom have been my friends for close to 50 years. We will see how long they last before giving up this well-paying position.

   Doug Ellis sent me an email saying that this year’s convention set a new all time record of over 600 attendees. The dealers’  room seemed to be always crowded and quite busy/ and the 180 tables were crammed with pulps, books, vintage paperbacks, DVDs, and original artwork. Prices on the vintage paperbacks were not only quite reasonable but insanely low, as I saw thousands cheaply priced at fire sale levels. I saw one table that had a sign stating “Free digests.” Other tables had boxes of vintage paperbacks priced at a buck or two or even less than a dollar each if you bought 15 for 10 dollars, etc.

   On the other hand the auction, which was held Friday and Saturday nights, starting at 8:15 PM, realized some insane prices. The big sellers were issues of Weird Tales. I estimate that close to 150 issues were listed in the estate auction from my old pal Bob Weinberg’s collection. Most of these issues were from the 1920’s and 1930’s and many realized prices of not only a few hundred dollars but some a few thousand and I’m not talking about the large size, hard-to-get bedsheet copies either.

   The infamous “batgirl” Weird Tales went for $13,000. In the last 50 years I’ve had a half dozen copies, and I never considered it that rare. In fact my present copy is bound, and I’m thinking of ripping it out of the binding and shrieking “Hey, here is a batgirl Weird Tales and I’ll take only a few thousand for it, not no $13,000!”

   Another issue in the early 1930’s went for $14,000 and what surprised me was that the winning bidder was a well known dealer whose first name is David and last name Smith. We are in trouble as collectors when pulp dealers start paying these prices. Not just comic dealers buying for investment, but pulp collectors! Dealers quite often pay half or less of a book’s value and a $14,000 figure means the dealer may be thinking of selling for at least double and probably more if he thinks prices are heading into comic book territory.

   Speaking of “comic book territory,” Rusty Hevelin, organizer of the old Pulpcon, used to preach that we had to try and keep the comic book dealers out of pulps, because once they got in, then we could forget about reading the issues and selling to each other for reasonable prices. Because the comic dealers are into it as an investment, and the prices would sky rocket. Guess Rusty was right and he used to ban comic books from Pulpcon. But those days are over.

   I walked through the dealer’s room for four days but didn’t find much to buy. This is not because there was not anything for sale, but simply because I’ve been collecting like forever and I either have it or once did have it and got rid of it. In fact I’ve rebuilt sets of some of my favorites that I disposed of many years ago. I never did have much interest in sport, romance, or aviation pulps but everything else I’ve been interested in.

   Windy City had the usual film program put on by Ed Hulse and two discussions about the hero pulps. There also was the excellent art exhibit, which I always find of interest since I’ve been collecting original art now for over 50 years.

   The Windy City Pulp Stories #22 was full of interesting articles. Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books edited it. An excellent 150 page collection. Blood n Thunder 2023 Special Edition made its debut. Edited by Ed Hulse and over 300 pages. The highlight of the issue is Ed’s 40 page article about the British magazine, The Thriller. It’s an excellent essay covering the authors and history of the magazine, and we still can look forward to a second part in the future.

   Steeger Books also had some new books at the convention. One is a large collection of the complete  “Scientific Sprague” stories, and a second one breaks new ground by reprinting the extremely interesting letter column from Adventure, 1918-1920. It’s titled The Campfire, 1918-1920. It’s full of great accounts from old timers who lived during the great years of the west, 1850-1900. I’ve often thought that the letters would make a great collection, but I never thought I’d see the day. Here’s hoping we see more volumes from the 1920’s. Thank you Matt Moring!

   But this show will go down in my memory for three other reasons. While stopping over in Newton Falls, Ohio, I had the misfortune to eat one of the worst dinners I’ve ever had. It was Sunday night driving back to New Jersey and we were late stopping for dinner. Nothing appeared to be open, and I had to exist on a small bag of salted peanuts and a warm bottle of beer. The next day when the hotel had breakfast starting at 6:30 am, I was first in line.

   But this hotel must have been cursed, because I also slept in what had to be the worst bed I’ve ever encountered. I’m always complaining about my back problems and my leg cramps ,and I met a worthy foe in Newton Falls, room 223, Holiday Inn Express. The desk clerk said he would give me a king size bed at no extra cost. I always ask for two Queen size beds because they are smaller and don’t hurt my back as much. But this time I just wanted to eat my peanuts and guzzle my warm beer. Big mistake. I sat down on the bed and swung my legs up and immediately slid down the slope of the king size mattress until I hit the middle of the hole in the mattress. Some how I managed to claw my way back up the slope in the morning and get out of bed.

   The third event that I’ll never forget happened after turning in the rental van in Trenton, NJ. We hopped into Digges’ car and proceeded to immediately make a left into oncoming traffic, heading the wrong way down a one way street. Fortunately everyone got out of our way and we turned the car around and headed in the right direction, instead of against the traffic.

   Thanks to Paul Herman for the use of several of the photos included in this report. Next up, Pulpfest in August! It’s been 51 years that I’ve been driving to Pulpcon and Pulpfest. Matt Moring will be driving us on this adventure. Will I make it? Stay tuned!



XYY MAN, SERIES 2: THE CONCRETE BOOT. Granada TV, UK, (1997). Four episodes. Stephen Yardley as William “Spider” Scott, Don Henderson as DI Bulman, Vivienne McKee as Maggie Parsons, Dennis Blanch as DC Derek Willis, Mark Digman as Fairfax. Guest: William Squire as Laidlaw. Based on the novel (Hodder, 1971) by Kenneth Royce.

   Tall, slender, and bent by nature, that’s what the extra Y chromosome has done for cat burglar extraordinary “Spider” Scott (Stephen Yardley), a professional criminal whose unique DNA makes him prone to risks, to womanizing, and to trouble legal and otherwise.

   Scott lives with Maggie Parsons (Vivienne Parsons) who loves him despite his wandering ways and lack of traditional moral fiber (Maggie isn’t much better at times) as Spider, in this second four part serial in the series that began in 1976, has gotten his flying license and opened a small service with a friend. Things seem pretty good until “Spider” gets a job involving a charitable group rehabilitating ex cons run by a man named Laidlaw (William Squire) and discovers an old friend of his who worked for them has ended up in the Thames with a concrete boot.

   Soon DI Bulman (Don Henderson), a tough policeman who likes to read Karl Marx, is pretty sure Spider is up to his old ways while Spider finds himself being seduced by Laidlaw’s posh secretary Penny (sexy Fiona Curzon) and running into some dodgy old mates who are working for the almost evangelical Laidlaw.

   Meanwhile Fairfax (Mark Digman, head of a shady Intelligence group that used Spider in the first series based on the debut novel The XYY Man) is keeping an eye on his new agent.

   It’s not long before Spider becomes sure the sinister and charming religious fanatic Laidlaw is twisted and had something to do with the murder of his old friend, but when he thinks he is getting close, a flying job up north for Laidlaw turns out to be a setup, and Spider finds himself framed for a heist at an airport, and his plane blown up, supposedly with him in it.

   Bulman is upset he never nailed Spider, and shocked when Spider shows up alive and surrenders, but hatred aside he believes Spider’s story and gives him a chance to clear himself and nail Laidlaw, which involves recovering the stolen loot and uncovering Laidlaw’s riverside graveyard where he’s been dumping his victims with “concrete boots,” weighing them down Chicago style (Laidlaw used to be an idea man for the Syndicate). Bulman sweeps in, and as usual even when things seem to be looking up for Spider, they aren’t.

   The series is very faithful to the Kenneth Royce books, maintaining the wry humor and slick action, but only managed two seasons and some twelve episodes, the last four not based on a book, but an original story. There was a spin off series with Henderson, Bulman, in which Bulman resigns from the police and becomes a private detective. Spider had moved on.

   Yardley, tall with thinning hair and a fluid body makes a believable Spider, and along the way, as in the books, bits and pieces of his biography are revealed though never getting in the way of narrative or suspense. McKee is attractive, exasperated, and human as Maggie, and Squires is a fine scene-chewing villain, but the series is largely stolen by the sarcastic, hard nosed, fair, and left-leaning Bulman, a set of curious contradictory traits that make you want to know more about him. Obviously the audience felt the same, since he graduated to his own series.

   The Royce series ran to seven novels between 1970 to 1985, with a ten year gap between 1974’s Trap Spider and 1984’s The Crypto Man.

   The complete series is available on YouTube beginning with the episode below. (The same person who who uploaded this one has also provided the others.) I found it an attractive series, with an offbeat hero and faithful to Royce’s complex plots. Comfort food.

JOHN LUTZ – The Right to Sing the Blues. Alo Nudger #3. St. Martin’s Press, hardcover, 1986. Tor, paperback, 1988. iBooks, softcover, 2001.

   Alo Nudger is a PI home based in St. Louis, but as a diehard jazz fan, when he gets a chance to take a case in New Orleans, and a potentially lucrative one at that, he jumps at the chance. One of his idols, former clarinetist Fat Jack McGee, now a night club owner, has a problem: his current piano player is making eyes at the young girl now singing for Fat Jack at his club. Problem is, the girl is anonymously the daughter of New Orleans most notorious crime lord.

   Trouble is brewing, and Fat Jack needs Nudger to get him out of it.

   The gimmick in the Alo Nudger stories is that the man has a nervous stomach – a very nervous stomach – and he takes antacids totally non-stop throughout the story. Personally I think as a gimmick, it’s overdone, but you have to admit that it’s also unique.

   John Lutz, who died in 2021, was a very good writer. His prose flows smooth and easily, with every so often an especially nice turn of phrase, and his characters are substantially more than two-dimensional. What bothered me, though, plotwise, is why his investigation annoys so many people, including the cops and a pair of thugs who take utter delight in beating him up every so often.

   It’s all straightened out by the end of the book though, when all of the pieces finally fall into place. All in all, not an epic piece, but an entirely enjoyable one.

   Rating on my trademarked H/B [hard-boiled] scale: 4.8. Too many Tums!

      The Alo Nudger series –

1. Buyer Beware (1976)
2. Night Lines (1985)
3. The Right to Sing the Blues (1986)
4. Ride the Lightning (1987)
5. Dancer’s Debt (1988)
6. Time Exposure (1989)
7. Diamond Eyes (1990)
8. Thicker Than Blood (1993)
9. Death by Jury (1995)
10. Oops! (1998)
The Nudger Dilemmas (story collection, 2001)



RANDY WAYNE WHITE – Captiva. Doc Ford #4. Putnam, hardcover, 1996. Berkley, paperback, 1997.

   I read one of the earlier in this series, the second or third, and I didn’t like it nearly as much as most people seemed to. It was okay, but I didn’t see anything at all exceptional about it. Maybe it was my aversion to Florida stories …

   Doc Ford, former government agent, turned marine biologist, is located in the middle of a mess. A ban on net-fishing has been passed by the state government, and partisans on both sides are in an ugly mood. Doc has friends in both camps and tries to keep a low profile, but when a net-fisherman is killed while attempting to do damage with a bomb (which he did, destroying two boats), matters turn really ugly. Doc tries to calm the waters, but there will be more violence and more death before they still.

   The publicity material includes the inevitable comparison to John D. MacDonald, which is of course ridiculous; but maybe not quite as ridiculous as it usually is. White does have a real feel for working-class Florida fishing country, and Doc Ford is an intriguing and not too overdone knight errant. The supporting characters are well-drawn and believable, as well.

   There’s not an overabundance of cowboy action, and what there is doesn’t seem out of place. All told, I didn’t find anything to dislike about this, and considerable to enjoy  Maybe I misjudged old Randy White, you think?

— Reprinted from Ah Sweet Mysteries #25, May 1996.


FRANCES BEEDING – The House of Dr. Edwardes. Little Brown, 1926. Filmed as Spellbound (Selznick/UA, 1945) with Ingrid Bergman, Gregory Peck, Michael Chekhov, Leo G. Carroll, Rhonda Fleming, John Emery, Norman Lloyd, Bill Goodwin, Wallace Ford, Art Baker, and Regis Toomey. Dream sequence based on designs by Salvador Dali. Screenplay by Ben Hecht and Angus MacPhail. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

   A pleasant read, a fun movie, and an interesting glimpse into the creative process…..

   The House of Dr. Edwardes is an out-and-out Gothic, set in a remote Castle/Sanitarium staffed by a few professionals and the kind of superstitious villagers who used to populate old horror movies. Into this moody-broody set-piece steps Constance Sedgewick, pretty young thing just out of Medical School and newly hired by Dr. Edwardes, who is conveniently away. Also recently arrived is Dr. Murchison, handsome and slightly sinister in the best Gaslight tradition, who arrived with a mysterious patient in tow, a homicidal maniac who is kept locked away.

   It doesn’t take long to figure out the “surprise” here, but Beeding goes capably through the Gothic motions, with hints of Devil Worship, strange figures skulking about in the moonlight, and Constance following the standard policy of sneaking around the Castle in her nightdress. There’s also a very nice bit (probably what suggested the thing to Hitch in the first place) where an ordinary after-dinner conversation turns eerily menacing… the sort of catchy writing that makes one wish Beeding had provided a more imaginative resolution.

   Looking at the film Spellbound, one is struck first by the tricky visuals -– including the dream sequence by Salvador Dali – and how well they serve the story. One might also note how completely screenwriters Ben Hecht and Angus MacPhail opened out the claustrophobic book with a bit of symbolic progression: as the characters move closer to solving the mystery and overcoming psychosis, the narrative moves from the cramped confines of the mental hospital to the looser framework of a big city, then to the broader vistas of a small town, and finally to the open slopes of a ski lodge (evoked with laughably bad back-projection!)

   But I got the most fun reading Dr. Edwardes and reconstructing the thought processes of the writers as they tried to hammer it into a commercially viable Spellbound: “Okay we’ve got Ingrid Bergman, but no one’s gonna believe she’s just out of Med School; how ‘bout making her a cool-on-the-surface babe who takes off her glasses and her hair falls down around her shoulders? And what about Greg Peck? (WARNING!) Greg can’t be the killer but he can’t spend the whole damn film locked up in a cell, either. Hey, how about if we give it the twist-on-the-twist? He’s crazy, yeah, but the real Doc…

   However it worked out, Edwardes was worked into an undisputed classic movie and required viewing for readers here.




SHERWOOD KING – If I Die Before I Wake. Simon & Schuster, hardcover, 1938. Mystery Novel Of The Month [no number], digest-sized paperback, 1940. Ace Double D-9, paperback, 1953. Curtis, paperback, 1965. Penguin Classic, softcover, 2010. Film: Columbia, 1947, as The Lady from Shanghai. (Rita Hayworth, Orson Welles, who also directed).

   Another from James Sandoe’s hardboiled checklist , this novel formed the basis of the Orson Welles film The Lady from Shanghai, which is one of my favorite noirs.

   The experience of reading the novel was similar to reading In a Lonely Place after seeing Nicholas Ray’s great film. That is to say, there’s a strange cognitive dissonance. The film is so vividly done that it stays with you. And now you read a story with the same characters in the same time and place, and they act completely differently, resulting in a starkly different experience. It’s weird. Rifted from one universe into another like a car crash jettisoning you out the window, shards shattering, thrusting you through the looking glass.

   It makes it hard for me to judge the book without a bit of resentment. And the resentment is utterly unfair because the book came first. But the images of the film are so entrenched that I simply cannot accept the story presented by the book.

   First of all, the first person protagonist is named Laurence Planter — not Michael O’Hara. Though in both he’s a sailor. In the film Orson Welles gives us a robustly distracting Irish brogue. Planter is no more Irish than Welles. So the choice to turn Planter to O’Hara is pretty odd. Welles must have just wanted an opportunity to show his range or something. There’s very little background so his nationality is irrelevant to the narrative.

   Planter gets sucked into the lavishly unseemly seaminess of Mr. and Mrs. Bannister. In the film he enters rescuing Mrs. Bannister from Central Park muggers. In the book, he’s hired as Chauffeur on the spot when Mr. Bannister spies him swimming up to their Long Island shore. Marvelous tanned physique in tow.

   Mr. Bannister’s stuttered gait (in both film and book) is horribly maimed lame by a wartime missile. This causes Bannister to be forever angry at his loss of youth, and at those that have it and don’t appreciate it. They die before they wake.

   Bannister leverages his disability into guilt subjecting his wife Elsa into a life of sad subjection. Without objection. And yet Bannister wants to tempt his wife and to spy upon her, looking and luring her with opportunity for alienated affections, the better to guilt her with and rail upon her for her rancid heart. Planter/O’Hara was drawn up by central casting as the perfect lure. Handsome, winsome, and nitwit.

   Bannister is a great criminal defense attorney, as is his law partner Grisby. Grisby hires our fair sailor for a dirty deed. Grisby wants to disappear. He wants our sailor to pretend, in plain sight, to murder him and pretend to throw his body into the sea. Corpus delicti — without the body you can prove no crime. Meanwhile Grisby will escape safe to sea, via speedboat, presumed dead — while our sailor cannot be held to blame. And five grand the richer for really doing nothing wrong.

   But Grisby isn’t just using his fake death to escape the world’s travails. He’s using it as perfect cover for the perfect crime. Once he’s ‘dead’, he will murder Bannister. There’s partnership insurance for $100 grand. And with both he and Bannister dead, the suddenly single Mrs. Bannister will join Grisby in the south seas, $100,000 the richer.

   I don’t remember from the movie this part at all, frankly (it has been a while). But I do recall a confused sense of fuzziness at why Grisby wanted to fake his own death and murder Bannister.

   In the book the murder plan makes perfect sense when it becomes clear that Grisby is in love with Elsa Bannister — he has every reason in the world to want to kill her husband and take his place. But in the film Grisby comes off quite pervy and queer and displays not the slightest interest in the breathtaking Rita Hayworth (Elsa Bannister). He seems more attracted to Orson Welles’s sailor. As a result the Grisby’s motive has always confused me til now.

   Another note about Rita Hayworth, Elsa Bannister, and the adaptation. Rita Hayworth was famous for her flaming red hair. As was Elsa Bannister. Yet in the film Welles made Hayworth dye her hair blonde. Another odd dissonance. And she’s never been to Shanghai!

   In any case, in both film and book it is Grisby’s body found slain, our innocent sailor bound to blame.

   I won’t get into the ending — but while the result is the same, the manner of getting there is completely different. There’s no thrilling escape from custody, there’s no scene in the abandoned funhouse, no shooting shattered funhouse mirrors, shards splayed in bodies lain.

   And so frankly, after the thrilling film, the book’s ending is relatively quiet and staid. Again — it’s the same result. But the joy is in the ride and the ride is not nearly so wild and dipsy doodle and crashing as the film.

   So read it if you want. It’s good but not great. And not nearly so great as the film. Which, sadly, is diminished rather than enhanced with the reading of the book. It’s a book whose esteem would be greater had it never been adapted by a greater genius than the author of the book.



FRIDAY THE 13th, PART VIII: JASON TAKES MANHATTAN. Paramount Pictures, 1989. Todd Caldecott (as Todd Shaffer), Tiffany Paulsen, Timothy Burr Mirkovich, Kane Hodder, Jensen Daggett, Barbara Bingham, Alex Diakun, Peter Mark Richman, Ace. Screenwriters: Rob Hedden & Victor Miller. Director: Robert Hedden.

   Directed by Robert Hedden, this installment in the seemingly never-ending Friday the 13th franchise apparently was not a financial success. Which is kind of important for a movie such as this. After all, it’s never going to win an Oscar. So what else is there? While I enjoyed watching it on VHS – what better format for a movie such as this? – I can’t say that it left me wanting to watch it again in this format anytime soon.


   The main problem with Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan is that, well, it’s all kind of flat. Jason, although portrayed with great physicality by Kane Hodder, doesn’t exactly take anything, much less Manhattan. In actuality, the majority of the screen time in this mid-tier slasher is devoted to Jason, the goalie mask-wearing unkillable villain, wreaking havoc on a New York-bound ship filled with teenagers. Now that’s not to say that there isn’t some style and penache to the movie. There is, for instance, a well choreographed kill scene on a dance floor. Death to disco indeed. But the Manhattan scenes come much later and, apart from a Times Square sequence, were pretty clearly filmed on a studio lot or some equivalent.

   The plot, such as it is, follows teenager Rennie (Jensen Daggett) and her guardian Charles McCulloch (Peter Mark Richman) as they embark on a group boat ride to New York City. Richman is an actor who I like a lot. Not sure how he ended up in this feature. But I’ve appreciated his numerous television appearances in the past, including in Three’s Company where he portrayed Chrissy’s father. He exudes a certain understated dryness which makes him stand out from the sundry other character actors of his generation.

   Back to the movie.

   Ok. Jason somehow – does it really matter? – ends up on board and begins his inevitable killing spree. There’s a subplot with one of the teenage girls entrapping McCullogh into a risque position which is then captured on good ol’ videocassette. But other than that, there’s nothing particularly interesting about what happens on board. Except that is for Rennie’s hallucinatory flashbacks in which she envisions a young innocent Jason drowning. Those moments were pretty cool, to be honest.

   Pretty standard mid-tier slasher stuff. Important to keep in mind: this entry into the Friday the 13th canon is from 1989. By then, the slasher formula had more or less run its course and there was little to nothing new under the sun. It wasn’t until Wes Craven’s Scream (1996) that the stale genre was given a much-needed reboot.

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