Listen: Scott Von Doviak on Pop Culture Tonight

Scott Von Doviak, author of the Stephen King Films FAQ met up with Patrick Phillips on Pop Culture Tonight to talk about his book and the King of Horror!

>>LISTEN HERE<<

Stephen King Films FAQOver the past four decades, the Stephen King movie has become a genre unto itself. The prolific writer’s works have spawned well over 100 adaptations for both the big and small screen, ranging from modern classics of horror (CarrieThe Shining) to Oscar-nominated fare (The Shawshank RedemptionThe Green Mile) to unapologetic, B-movie schlock (the King-directed Maximum Overdrive). The filmmakers to put their stamp on King’s material include acclaimed auteurs Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, and Brian De Palma; masters of horror Tobe Hooper, John Carpenter, and George Romero; and popular mainstream directors Rob Reiner, Frank Darabont, and Lawrence Kasdan. Stephen King Films FAQ is the most comprehensive overview of this body of work to date, encompassing well-known hits as well as forgotten obscurities, critical darlings and reviled flops, films that influenced King as well as those that have followed in his footsteps, upcoming and unmade projects, and selected works in other media (including comic books, radio dramas, and the infamous Carrie musical). Author Scott Von Doviak provides background information, analysis, and trivia regarding the various films and television productions, including “Bloodlines” sections on related works and “Deep Cuts” sections collecting additional odd facts and ephemera. All you ever wanted to know about the king of horror onscreen can be found here.

Stephen King Films FAQ

Stephen King Films FAQScott Von Doviak’s Stephen King Films FAQ, the latest in the series from Applause Books is now available, with all that’s left to know about the king of horror on flim.  While his book looks back the four decades during which Stephen King has made his mark at the movies, Von Doviak is also looking forward.  Here are his thoughts on what this year may hold for Stephen King film fans.

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Two things we know to be true: Stephen King is one of America’s most prolific authors, and Hollywood is always hungry for material. So it’s not surprising that the Stephen King movie has become a genre unto itself, spanning nearly four decades since the 1976 release of Brian De Palma’s Carrie. This year is shaping up to be one of the most King-heavy in some time, so here’s a brief look at what 2014 has in store.

– Mercy is based on the 1984 short story “Gramma,” which was previously adapted by Harlan Ellison for an episode of The New Twilight Zone in 1986. This feature-length version is directed by Peter Cornwell (The Haunting in Connecticut) and stars The Walking Dead’s Chandler Riggs and Super 8’s Joel Courtney as two boys who discover their ailing grandmother is not what she seems.

– On a similar note, A Good Marriage is a novella from the 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars about a woman who discovers her longtime husband is a serial killer. The adaptation directed by Peter Askin (Company Man) stars Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia and boasts a screenplay by King himself.

Cell is now shooting and may make it into theaters by year’s end. The big-screen version of King’s tale about a cell phone virus that turns people into zombies stars John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, who previously co-starred in the King-based thriller 1408. Tod Williams (Paranormal Activity 2) directs.

– The first season of Under the Dome on CBS was so successful from a ratings standpoint that what was once intended as a limited series has been extended indefinitely. What began as a promising series quickly deteriorated, however, and the first-season finale was a nonsensical mess. There’s reason to hope the show will get back on track, as King is aboard to write the first episode of the second season, due this summer.

In addition to the above, there are always King projects in various states of pre-production, notably Tom Holland’s The 10 O’Clock People, which may finally go before the cameras this year. One film fans shouldn’t hold their breath for is the long-awaited big-screen version of The Stand, which has churned through a number of potential directors over the years. The latest word is that Josh Boone, writer/director of Stuck in Love (a movie in which Stephen King made a cameo appearance) is on board, but the actual end of the world may come before this post-apocalyptic vision reaches theaters.

Happy birthday, Arnold Schwarzenegger!

scottvondoviakFor Arnold’s 66th birthday, a post by If You Like The Terminator author Scott Von Doviak. Enjoy!

In my book If You Like The Terminator…Here Are Over 200 Movies, TV Shows, and Other Oddities You Will Love, I rank the Arnold Schwarzenegger oeuvre from worst to first. You’ll have to buy the book to see the complete list (I’ll wait here while you place your order), but in honor of the former Governator’s 66th birthday today, I thought I’d update the list with a look at the two movies Schwarzenegger has made since his return to full-time acting.

The Expendables 2 (2012) — Arnold made a cameo appearance in the first Expendables movies in 2010, while he was still serving at the pleasure of the people of Cully-forn-i-a. He has a slightly expanded role in this follow-up, which once again unites a ragtag band of action movie has-beens and never-weres in a ultra-violent mission seemingly sponsored by the NRA. Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jet Li, and Terry Crews, among others, are a band of mercenaries forced to work off a debt to shady CIA agent Bruce Willis by retrieving a device containing the location of an abandoned plutonium supply in the former Soviet Union. The flimsy plot is simply a clothesline on which to hang an endless series of high-powered gun battles and brief appearances by even more action stars well past their sell-by dates (including Chuck Norris as “The Lone Wolf” and Jean-Claude Van Damme as the villain, hilariously named Jean Vilain). Schwarzenegger, as Stallone’s mercenary rival Trench, is rescued by the Expendables early in the film and then disappears for about an hour. He returns in time for the climactic firefight, wielding an enormous gun and reciting well-worn one-liners. The Expendables movies are meant to recapture the spirit of the Cannon action films of the Eighties, which sounds like a fun idea until you remember most of those movies were terrible. A joyless, bloodthirsty slog, The Expendables 2 fits the bill all too well.

Ranking: #18, ahead of Collateral Damage but just behind Kindergarten Cop.

The Quotable Arnold: “I’ll be back.” Yes, again.

The Last Stand (2013) — Essentially a modern-day Western set on the U.S.-Mexican border, the American debut from South Korean director Kim Jee-Woon (I Saw the Devil) sees Arnold back in a leading role for the first time since 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Schwarzenegger stretches casting credibility to the breaking point as small-town sheriff Ray Owens, who is forced to defend the border town of Sommerton Junction, Arizona against a drug kingpin who has escaped the Feds and is fleeing to Mexico in a souped-up Corvette. Jee-Won’s Southwestern visuals are crisp and clean, but the script is hopelessly generic and the action sequences fail to impress. The role does allow Arnold the opportunity to poke a little self-deprecating fun at his advancing years, but that’s something he did better in Terminator 3. Here, the rust is definitely showing.

Ranking: #15, ahead of Raw Deal, but just behind Conan the Destroyer.

Schwarzenegger will re-team with Stallone later this year in the prison break movie Escape Plan, but the real question, now that Terminator 5 finally has a green light and a release date (June 26, 2015), is whether Arnold will reprise his signature role one more time. Are we really ready for an AARP-eligible killing machine, or will extensive CGI be required to restore the Terminator to his prime? Watch this space for further developments.

- Scott Von Doviak

If You Like The Terminator

The Terminator began life as a low-budget B movie seemingly destined for a short run at malls and drive-ins before blossoming into a billion-dollar franchise that launched the careers of director James Cameron and star Arnold Schwarzenegger. The original 1984 film not only spawned three sequels, a weekly television series, and countless novels, comic books, and videogames, it also redefined the science fiction genre with its blend of high tech and film noir.

Here is the first book to explore the spectacular array of films, television shows, and other works that helped inspire The Terminator, as well as those that have drawn inspiration from it. If You Like The Terminator… delves into the history of science-fiction cinema, from its earliest days to the golden age of the 1950s and beyond, encountering killer robots, time travelers and postapocalyptic wastelands along the way. This turbo-charged journey through time also reviews the improbable career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, revisits the action heroes of the 1980s, and reevaluates the films of James Cameron, before touching down in the computer-dominated realm of today’s science fiction cinema and projecting the future of the Terminatorfranchise.

From Metropolis to The Matrix, from Frankenstein to RoboCop, from H. G. Wells and Harlan Ellison to Roger Corman and Roland Emmerich, you’ll find them all here – in If You Like The Terminator.

The Terminator and The Sopranos, interviews

Onstage and Backstage podcast from Hal Leonard is available on iTunes and Libsyn. Each episode authors and their guests have a chat about the topics of their books. Today, we have two interviews with fellow If You Like authors Scott Von Doviak (If You Like The Terminator…) and Leonard Pierce (If You Like The Sopranos…) about their books.

If You Like The Sopranos…
>>>LISTEN HERE<<<

If You Like The Terminator… 
>>>LISTEN HERE<<<

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About the Books

Here is the first book to explore the spectacular array of films, television shows, and other works that helped inspire The Terminator, as well as those that have drawn inspiration from it. If You Like The Terminator… delves into the history of science-fiction cinema, from its earliest days to the golden age of the 1950s and beyond, encountering killer robots, time travelers and postapocalyptic wastelands along the way. This turbo-charged journey through time also reviews the improbable career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, revisits the action heroes of the 1980s, and reevaluates the films of James Cameron, before touching down in the computer-dominated realm of today’s science fiction cinema and projecting the future of the Terminatorfranchise.

If You Like the Sopranos… is the first book that starts with Tony and the gang in their humble homes in the Garden State and explores the astonishing amount of great films, TV shows, and other pop-culture wonders that any fan of the Sopranos will love. From The Godfather andBonnie and Clyde to The Wire, to lesser-known noirs, Jimmy Cagney classics, contemporary HBO dramas, Martin Scorsese’s best work, and even the rock’n’roll that inspired the classicSopranos soundtrack, this is the one book that every fan needs if he or she ever has to go on the lam.

Post-Apocalyptic Television: Logan’s Run

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Guest Blogger: Scott Von Doviak, author of If You Like The Terminator

 

In my new book, If You Like The Terminator, I write about some of the post-apocalyptic science fiction movies that preceded James Cameron’s 1984 film to the silver screen, among them MGM’s 1976 adaptation of Logan’s Run. One of the last big-budget sci-fi films of the pre-Star Wars era, Logan’s Run doesn’t hold up as a genre classic (for reasons I expound upon in the book), but it was successful enough to spawn a short-lived television series. The movie is a childhood favorite of mine, one I still revisit from time to time despite its obvious flaws, but the TV show was little more than a vague memory…until now.

In April of this year, Warner Home Video finally got around to releasing Logan’s Run: The Complete Series as a DVD boxed set. That the series lasted only 14 episodes in the 1977-78 television season may help explain why it’s taken so long to reach home video, but in our retro-obsessed age, no ‘70s artifact is ever truly forgotten. Out of some nostalgic impulse, perhaps spurred by recently re-watching the movie for my book, I rented all three discs and watched the entire series over a two-week span. I might as well get a blog post out of it, right?

The pilot episode condenses the events of the film into about 10 minutes, as Sandman Logan (bland Gregory Harrison) is easily convinced by runner Jessica (Heather Menzies, resplendent in her Farrah ‘do and tiny-shiny skirt) to help her escape the City of Domes and search for Sanctuary. The outside world is supposed to be a wasteland devastated by the nuclear war that necessitated the domed city and its accompanying death sentence for all who reach the age of 30. In fact, the countryside is positively teeming with quirky post-apocalyptic societies, each presenting its own set of challenges for the Sanctuary-seeking runners.

The Fugitive-style structure, with Logan, Jessica, and their android companion Rem (Donald Moffat) continually eluding their Sandman pursuer Francis (Randy Powell) quickly grows stale, but the show is not without its charms, particularly for fans of cheesy ‘70s sci-fi. The creative talent behind the scenes included Star Trek writers D.C. Fontana and David Gerrold (who scripted the fun time-travel episode “Man Out of Time”), as well as legendary science fiction author Harlan Ellison (who figures prominently in If You Like The Terminator). The stories tend to be variations on old Star Trek episodes or other tried-and-true sci-fi sources (the final episode “Stargate” owes a debt to Invasion of the Body Snatchers), but it’s the show’s appealingly clunky yet colorful retro-futurism that makes it worth revisiting, however briefly.

If You Like The Terminator

Here is the first book to explore the spectacular array of films, television shows, and other works that helped inspire The Terminator, as well as those that have drawn inspiration from it. If You Like The Terminator… delves into the history of science-fiction cinema, from its earliest days to the golden age of the 1950s and beyond, encountering killer robots, time travelers and postapocalyptic wastelands along the way. This turbo-charged journey through time also reviews the improbable career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, revisits the action heroes of the 1980s, and reevaluates the films of James Cameron, before touching down in the computer-dominated realm of today’s science fiction cinema and projecting the future of the Terminator franchise.

If You Like The Terminator: Five More Surprise Hits of 1984

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Guest Blogger: Scott Von Doviak, author of If You Like The Terminator… (Limelight Editions, June 2012)

“Not much was expected of The Terminator when it was released in theaters on October 26, 1984,” begins the introduction to my new book, If You Like The Terminator (due June 1st from Limelight Editions). “Perceived as a B-movie that might enjoy a week or two of success at malls and drive-ins before being consigned to late-night television purgatory, the low-budget sci-fi thriller shocked industry pundits by debuting to generally positive reviews and the number one spot on the box office charts.” The movie went on to outgross the holiday season’s higher-profile sci-fi releases like Dune and 2010—but of course, The Terminator was not the only surprise hit that year.  Here are five more sleepers that made an impression on the 1984 box office.

Purple Rain — By the summer of 1984, Prince had achieved some success on the pop charts, but he was far from a household name. That all changed with the release of the best-selling soundtrack to this semi-autobiographical film, starring the purple pop star as up-and-coming Minneapolis musician “The Kid.” The movie’s story was hackneyed, and its acting passable at best, but the musical performances of hits like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “I Would Die 4 U” propelled it to the top of the box office.

Repo Man — A cult movie like no other, Alex Cox’s directorial debut fused science fiction concepts with punk rock style and absurdist humor, proving that “the life of a repo man is always intense.” Emilio Estevez stars as Otto, a young punk mentored in the repo code by Harry Dean Stanton’s grizzled Bud. It’s hard to imagine another time Repo Man could have been made, much less become a theatrical success; it had to happen in the ‘80s.

A Nightmare on Elm Street — Talk about a “sleeper” hit—horrormeister Wes Craven’s original Nightmare introduced audiences to Freddy Krueger, the “bastard son of a thousand maniacs” who haunts the children of Elm Street in their dreams. Although its originality would be diluted by an endless string of sequels, the first Nightmare remains a clever creepshow.

Red Dawn — The Cold War paranoia of the Reagan era served as subtext for a number of memorable ‘80s films (The Terminator included), none more blunt and jingoistic than this far-fetched tale of a Soviet invasion of the United States. A sort of cross between a Brat Pack movie and an ultra-violent Rambo adventure, this action flick directed by the always over-the-top John Milius proved to be a surprise summer hit. A remake shot in 2009 has been gathering dust ever since, but is finally scheduled for release later this year.

Starman The Terminator was not the only sleeper sci-fi hit of the 1984 holiday season. John Carpenter, one of James Cameron’s early influences, scored with a much kinder and gentler take on the alien-among-us genre than his 1982 remake of The Thing. Although it was described in some quarters as an E.T. ripoff (both scripts had actually been in development at the same time), Starman soared to success on the strength of Jeff Bridges’ offbeat but winning portrayal of the space visitor, and his undeniable romantic chemistry with co-star Karen Allen.

If You Like The Terminator

Here is the first book to explore the spectacular array of films, television shows, and other works that helped inspire The Terminator, as well as those that have drawn inspiration from it. If You Like The Terminator… delves into the history of science-fiction cinema, from its earliest days to the golden age of the 1950s and beyond, encountering killer robots, time travelers and postapocalyptic wastelands along the way. This turbo-charged journey through time also reviews the improbable career of Arnold Schwarzenegger, revisits the action heroes of the 1980s, and reevaluates the films of James Cameron, before touching down in the computer-dominated realm of today’s science fiction cinema and projecting the future of the Terminator franchise.

Listen to Scott Von Doviak talk with Leonard Pierce (author of If You Like The Sopranos…) on the Onstage and Backstage podcast.