Thursday, 20 January 2011


So I ordered a copy of 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' on Blu-Ray in 3D from HMV. A touch expensive but to have the option of watching the movie in 3D didn't cause a problem.
Well, that was until we all sat down to watch the movie.
The 3D option wasn't available - and the reason why is because I do not have a 3D TV and a 3D Blu-Ray disc player.

There was no prior warning for this. The front celophane wrapper said the 3D glasses were required but not included. That wasn't a problem we had plenty of them from various other movies.
There was a slip of paper buried amongst the junk inside the disc case that did explain about the need for the 3D stuff - should have been on the front with the bit about the glasses.
So I telephoned HMV and Steve explained that it was not their policy to explain that extra equipment was needed. In fact HMV, or so Steve said, assumed that the consumer had the equipment. Never mind the Sale Of Goods Act 1979 which, obviously, does not apply to HMV.
Televisions and DVD players with 3D are expensive and, from what I can see, are just not selling. All this is a ploy to make the consumer pay out for something that they don't need to watch a 3D movie. The movies that have gone before like 'Journey To The Centre Of The Earth' and 'The Final Destination' have played well enough. So why change something that doesn't need changing.
Mind you the 'Resident Evil: Afterlife' disc comes from Sony - don't they make 3D TVs and DVD players?

The moral of the story is don't buy 3D Blu-Ray movies without finding out whether or not they will play on your existing equipment. I should have done that but it doesn't excuse those who should have pointed it out in the first place.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Yes, well what can I say.
The movie does carry the spirit of the comics and the opening sequences that explain how Hex became disfigured are neatly done.
Anyway, Quentin Turnball (John Malkovich in Cyrus The Virus mode - Con-Air)is the baddie who kills Hex's family and creates the artistry on Jonah's face. Hex (Josh Brolin)becomes a bounty hunter and one who has a bounty on his own head. He has a neat pair of gatling guns on his saddle with which he wipes out a town that has decided not to pay him. Almost a spaghetti western parody.
Anyway to cut an 82 min movie shorter - President Grant offers a pardon to Hex if he can stop a gang from causing mayhem. A gang run by Turnball who had, earlier, faked his own death.
Turnball has a brilliant number two in the shape of a tattooed Irishman called Burke (there is a touch of The Riddler here). Michael Fassbender breathes so much into this character that he stands out.
With the help of the love interest, a prostitute named Lilah (Megan Fox) Hex goes to war in search of a weapon of mass destruction.
As it stands 'Jonah Hex' wasn't disapponting but could have done with some extra scenes just so that characters could really develop. Maybe they will do better with the sequel.


Some of Tyrell L. Bowers novels are available on Kindle.

The Secret Of Snake Canyon (original novel published by Walker Westerns)
Ride Against The Wind (original novel published by Walker Westerns)
Armageddon At Gold Butte (original novel published as a Black Horse Western - and original BHW cover shown).

Also released last Friday: Chuck Tyrell's 'The Snake Den'.

But if you prefer books then Terrell L. Bowers latest BHW 'Ambush At Lakota Crossing' is due for release at the end of this month. However, I expect that it is available right now.

Monday, 17 January 2011


Does anyone remember the first western that they read?
In this case I will be recording the first four Black Horse Westerns that I read.

Marshal Of Gunsight
Elliot Long
published 1991 by Robert Hale Ltd
Black Horse Western.

Tom Callan had worked with some of the best lawmen. He was with Wild Bill Hickok in Abilene, then Bat Masterson in Dodge and, finally, the Earps in Tombstone. Now he was just the Town Marshal in a backwater called Gunsight.
For three years he has not had much to do except twiddle his fingers, play poker with the butcher, Charlie Hannam, and the saloon keeper John Byett.
One snowy day the telegraph sends a message - a couple of small time stage hold-up men are heading his way. Callan knows them so it looks like an easy arrest as it has been in the past. Unfortunately, they kill a man on the way and fearing the rope decide to resist arrest.
The shoot-out has an effect on Tom Callan who fears that his nerve has gone - the killing just does not sit easy with him.
Calming his nerves with a glass of whiskey and a hand of poker - another incident lands in his lap. This time it is a kid on the prod but Blue Marson is quickly disarmed and sent packing. Only this kid isn't used to being insulted and turns around for another go and winds up dead.
Trouble is Blue Morson has a pretty powerful daddy, Jerome Morson, who doesn't take kindly to people killing his boy. And when he and his outfit are run out of town by Callen, Morson is a man fit to explode.
Thinking that he has seen the last of Morson, Callan takes time to help out the County Sheriff but on his return finds that his town is in Morson's hands.

Elliot Long writes a well paced book and creates fine characters. Discovering how Callen deals with his problems adds to the suspense.
Probably one of my best selections on visiting the local library.
Certainly a writer to look out for.
His latest BHW 'Scar County Showdown' is due for release at the end of February 2011.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

THE MARK by Charles E Israel

Charles E. Israel (b.1920 Indiana, USA - d.1999)
Published by MacMillan in 1958 and Pan Books 1961.

I first read this book when it was a pristine straight off the shelf paperback in 1961. I didn't have a clue as to what the book was about. The blurb on the back just stated "Here is an adult novel that demands to be read.....a masterpiece of suspense that makes every word count."
Not enough for a young teenager to guess at what the book was about.
Still the best way to find out was to start at Chapter 1.
Jim Fuller (the hero) is in a diner. He's a touch nervous as he has to go see a room that he wants to rent and then go on to a job interview. He is nothing special, just an accountant looking to relocate but the blonde waitress hovering around him increases his tension.
By the time he gets to the Cartwright house where he intends to rent a room he is a little more settled. He likes the room but not the 'Blue Boy' painting on the wall - that brings back memories and not all of them good. When he meets Arnold Cartwright, the landlady's husband, Arnold thinks that he recognises Jim from somewhere.
It is not until he gets to his job interview with Mr. Clive of Clive Industries that the reader discovers that Jim Fuller has spent the last five years of his life in the Pen.
As Mr. Clive doesn't ask the important question Jim Fuller does not tell anyone what he was inside for.
But you should have worked it out by the time he meets up with his shrink, McNally, in Chapter six.
This is a dark book that is pieced by rays of hope. Each revelation comes as each layer of the story is uncovered. But just as you reach the point where all looks well for Jim and his relationship with secretary, Ruth Leighton, his world comes crashing down to reality.
There is no escape - or so it seems.
This is a book about abuse - and the victims - but told without sensationalism.
Fifty years on the subject matter is as relevent today as it was when this book was first written.

Stuart Whitman was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Jim Fuller in the movie of the book. The film also starred Maria Schell and Rod Steiger.

Monday, 10 January 2011


Something with an odd twist to it. Alexander FLEMING House in London's Elephant & Castle area was designed by an architect named GOLDFINGER.

Chiswick Auctions, London: A Frederick Remmington bronze 'Comin' Thru The Rye' sold for £230.
It was admired by actor Brian Murphy (of 'George & Mildred' fame) who is very enthusiastic about westerns. He has the ambition still to appear in a western - maybe, 'The Tarnished Star'?

Tuesday, 4 January 2011


Well, what a day over at The Tainted Archive blog where, once again, the emphasis was on the awareness of the western genre in general and to promote the ebook - even encouraged to buy one or take up the offer of a freebie by Joanne Walpole 'Raven Dove'.
I did buy some westerns yesterday notably Herne The Hunter 22: Wild Blood so that I now have the complete set. Not an ebook, though, as this series has yet to be included.
Still I enjoyed the day that had a piece by several Black Horse Western writers like Chap O'Keefe. Charles Whipple (aka Chuck Tyrell) on how ancestry, childhood and a town can influence a writer. An interview with Chris Scott Wilson and Edge creator George G. Gilman.
But the highlight for me had to be Edward A. Grainger's short story 'Melanie'. This was a tight taut story about child abuse and featured Cash Laramie (who made his debut in the Express Westerns anthology 'A Fistful Of Legends'). It is a story that could be told today and underlines just how much nothing has changed over the centuries. I very much hope that this story will appear in the proposed Cash Laramie anthology.

In some respects I think that ebook readers are a gadget too many. On the other hand if it gets people back into the habit of reading it has to be a good thing. As Chris Scott Wilson says in his interview at least this way an author's book will never go out of print.
I have downloaded some books - the last six Edge books that are only available this way. But I do find that this way of reading a book a touch impersonal. Nor, having read a book, can I toss it over to my wife or one of my children.
I have another objection to ebooks. There is a certain book out there that I would like to read but it doesn't matter where I go I can either buy a Kindle version or get the message 'Download now'. That sounds like a dictatorship to me - I can only read a book if I download it. If that is the sound of the future then there are a lot of people who may well miss out on a good book. Surely, unless I am missing something, there should be a paperback book option.

Still Wild West eMonday has weaved the magic again and flown the flag for the western. And that is all that matters.

Monday, 3 January 2011

ARROWHEAD by Paul Kane

Arrowhead by Paul Kane was first published by Abaddon Books in 2008.

As part of the Afterblight Chronicles this is another story where the world has been wiped out by a virus with the exception of those with O Neg blood.

The book opens with the torture of Thomas Hinckerman who has arrived in Calais with two friends Gary and Dan via the Channel Tunnel. Here they meet a bunch of mercenaries led by the power hungry and sadistic De Falaise. Upon discovering the situation in Britain the Frenchman sees a way to seize power.
Meanwhile, across the Channel ex-policeman Robert Stokes is watching his wife and son die of the virus. This contains some very harrowing descriptive writing. As Robert Stokes waits to die he becomes a hermit in the woods near Nottingham (where he lives).
But slowly he comes to realise that the virus has passed him by and he begins to live off the land. He makes his own bow and arrow with which he practises until he can hunt for his food.
While all this is happening De Falaise is creating an army who, on hearing of a certain myth and legend decides to set up camp in Nottingham Castle and declare himself as the new High Sheriff of Nottingham.
Ah, thinks 'Survivors' meets Robin Hood.
Yes, that's what I thought - but there is more to this tale than just that. Sure there is the Reverend Tate (Friar Tuck), Jack 'The Hammer' Finlayson (Little John) and Mary Louise (Maid Marion) who bursts onto the scene with a pair of replica Peacemakers.
This take was one of the best that I've read in a long time and has the kind of pace that keeps the reader in touch with the characters through all the twists and turns.
There are two sequels in this series - 'Broken Arrow' and the just released 'Arrowland'.

One thing did leave me a little bemused and it must be a coincidence - De Falaise picks up some of his army in FINCHLEY, Mary Louise's surname is FOSTER and she has a pair of PEACEMAKERS (westerns). See where I'm coming from?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

BLACK HAND GANG by Pat Kelleher

'Black Hand Gang' is the first novel in a series created by Pat Kelleher under the collective name of 'No Man's World'.

It is The Somme, France 1916 and the men of the 13th Battalion of The Pennine Fusiliers are preparing for an assault on the German lines at Harcourt Wood. The assault is destined to take place on the 1st November but when they go over the top the world has changed.
The muddy expanse of their lines and the cratered no man's land is there but is a blot on an otherwise perfect landscape.
How did they get there?
Well, nobody knows but as the story unfolds there are dark occult forces at work. It is one of their own who is looking for the same thing as Aleister Crowley - to become The Great Snake. Although this character makes fleeting appearances Lieutenant Jefferies makes his presence felt.
Still the gallant troops have other things to contend with like a pack of giant hyenas and meat eating worms that have no respect for trench defences.
Along with the Pennines are three nurses, a Sopwith bi-plane and pilot, and an ironclad.
A patrol is sent out and discover a human tribe called Urmans who, in turn, introduce our heroes to the insect rulers of this world the Khungarrii.

Pat Kelleher gives a good account of trench life and the reader feels the shock and awe as the Pennines face the new world and it's perils. And the main character of Tommy Atkins is finely drawn as an almost reluctant hero.
The blurb on the back has a final description that suggests that this is like the old pulp science fiction adventures and it does have that feel to it.

The next book in the series 'Ironclad Prophesy' is out during July, 2011.

'Black Hand Gang' is published by Abaddon Books at £7.99 (available in the US at $9.99)

Saturday, 1 January 2011


Back in 2000 Rebellion took over the comic 2000AD.
Seeing an opportunity to expand they opened up an independant book imprint with 2000AD's graphic novels editor, Jonathan Oliver, taking the reins.
The first novel appeared in 2006 and over the last few years have published a fistful of titles. Amongst which are 'The Afterblight Chronicles' that includes a trilogy of novels by Scott Andrews (previously reviewed) and another from Paul Kane.
There is sword and sorcery tales under the collective title of 'Twilight Of Kerebos':
steampunk tales under the title 'Pax Brittania' and the gory zombie stomping world of 'Tomes Of The Dead'.
And now Pat Kelleher's 'No Man's World' series that kicks off with 'Black Hand Gang'.
Despite being around since 2006 it is only in recent months that these books have found their way onto the shelves of a book shop near me.
To me these books have that connection to the old days of 2000AD - in that they could so easily come in graphic form. But it is 2000AD for adults.
Well, Broken Trails will be reviewing Pat Kelleher's 'Black Hand Gang' and Paul Kane's 'Arrowhead' shortly.
If you want to know more about the books, authors and e-books go to