Most people know that Gustav Hasford’s short, powerful novel, The Short-Timers, was the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket, yet I’m sure not that many people had a chance to read the novel.

The book first came out in the late 1970s. Hasford’s prose is short, sweet yet powerful. In a 1987 Rolling Stone interview with Tim Cahill, Kubrick explained his attraction to Hasford’s novel:

“It’s a very short, very beautifully and economically written book, which, like the film, leaves out all the mandatory scenes of character development: the scene where the guy talks about his father, who’s an alcoholic, his girlfriend — all that stuff that bogs down and seems so arbitrarily inserted into every war story.”[1]

And Kubrick is correct, The Short-Timers is a masterpiece of economic prose.

The novel’s structure is slightly different than Kubrick’s film, which ends with the main character, Pvt. Joker, and his platoon, marching off into the darkness of the bombed out city of Hue.The Short-Timers Gustav Hasford Kubrick Full Metal Jacket Vietnam Paperback

Hasford’s novel has an extra section after Hue, a fire fight in the jungle, which is very emotional, and, in some ways, perhaps, would not jell with Kubrick’s vision.

The novel opens on Parris Island and the main characters, Joker, Cowboy, and poor, dim-witted Gomer Pyle (Lawrence), are introduced, as in the movie.

The drill instructor in the novel is called Gerheim, and, although he is as condescending, brutal, and vicious, as the film’s Sgt. Hartman, Gerheim’s dialog is different. That’s because real life drill instructor, Lee Ermey, who portrayed Hartman, improved his beautiful, poetic, verbal abuse.

But that is neither here nor there, because Gerheim and Hartman serve the same function, turning young boys into killing machines.

References

[1] Cahill, Tim (1987). “The Rolling Stone Interview” at http://www.visual-memory.co.uk/amk/doc/0077.html

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One day, I was browsing through a delightful used book store and a book caught my eye. I thought, “Hey, wait just one centon. That’s a weird looking U.S.S. Enterprise! Maybe it is another Star Trek Federation starship. Book has a great sounding title: Galaxy 666.”

Galaxy 666 is a vintage sci fi book with a crappy disguised Star Trek Enterprise starship model on the cover.

It’s the U.S.S. NEVERprise. Bazinga!

I take a closer look at the ship on the front cover. Ha!

This ain’t no Star Trek book and the model on the cover is a crappy, half-assed modified U.S.S. Enterprise.  The publishers clearly didn’t give a Regulan Bloodworm’s arse about copyright, trademarks, and all of that legal stuff.

Even ballsier, the back cover feature’s an excerpt from a “Captain’s Log”.

On the plus side, the book is a fast read.

The late 1960s was a truly exciting time for anything space related: Star Trek, 2001, Erich von Daniken, and the emergence of  the groovy Pink Floyd sound.

Thus, Galaxy 666 was a decent tome that must have satiated the stoned sci-fi fan’s desire for any kind of space story.

As much as I love Star Trek, I love vintage cheese sci-fi even more[redundant phrase] .

Live Long and Prosper.

Heaven Help Us All When The Devil’s Rain!

Yep, that was the film’s tagline. Apparently in Hell making sense is not a requirement.

I love this movie. I cannot stress this point enough. I love The Devil’s Rain.

The Devil’s Rain is one of the grooviest, out-there, horror films ever excreted from the bowels of that wonderfully insane, coke-fuelled decade called the 1970s.

The Devils Rain Paperback based upon the far-out horror film with William Shatner and Ernest Borgnine.

Click for larger image if you dare! That’s Ida Lupino on the cover, trapped within The Devils Rain.

Brief summary (I don’t want to give it all away. You must see this movie!)

The Devil’s Rain stars the great Ernest Borgnine as Corbis, aka “The Goat Demon”, aka a demonic goat-headed figure in a bright red skin-tight bodysuit.

The movie takes place in a deserted Western town called Stanville.

Yes, Stanville. Get it, Stanville…

The movie takes place during the 1970s, but there is a flashback to puritanical times setting up the conflict with Corbis and his followers over a book called The Witches’ Hammer.

Corbis has apparently spent hundreds of years searching for The Witches’ Hammer. Turns out the decent all-American Preston family has been guarding the book. The Prestons are a savvy lot, they hid the book in a hollowed-out chunk of floor beneath an end table!

William “Bill” Shatner plays Mark Preston, a ranch hand who avenges his family against Corbis and the merry gang of Devil worshippers that reside in Stanville.

Yes, Stanville.

A super hairy, ultra-Seventies Tom Skerritt plays Tom Preston, Mark’s scientist brother. TV’s Eddie Albert, star of Green Acres, is a scientist studying ESP and telepathy and whatever the hell else scientists studied back in the 1970s.

John Travolta has a pre-Kotter, pre-Saturday Night Fever appearance as Danny. Who’s Danny? Never mind. You blink and you’ll miss him. So, keep your eye out for the young Devil worshipper with the butt chin.

The legendary Anton LaVey, founder of the Church of Satan, was a consultant on the film and has a brief cameo as the masked man who plays the large church organ.

The movie’s great visual effect occurs when various townspeople melt away into what appears to be gooey pools of multi-coloured candle wax. Awesome!

This is the rare novelization of a cheesy film where the book adds of a lot  important  information and backstory that was left out of the film.

But the book lacks great visuals such as:

  • People dissolving into candle wax
  • Ernest Borgnine with the head of a demonic goat whilst attired in a skin-tight red suit.
  • And the coup de grace, Bill Shatner’s post-Star Trek TOS and pre-T.J. Hooker toupee, er, I mean acting.

This groovy horror film and its super groovy novelization are both highly recommended! A+++

Escape From New York is one of the greatest science fiction, post-apocalyptic, films and one of John Carpenter’s greatest cinematic triumphs.

The movie takes place in the future, um, 1997. Okay, our “old” future.

New York City has been turned into a hellish prison with its own rules. Air Force One has a problem and the U.S. President, played by the brilliant British actor Donald Pleasance (with no hint of American accent), lands in New York City.

Our hero, the bad-ass criminal Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is brought in to save the Prez…until it is too late.

The movie features Adrienne Barbeau (hell yeah!), Isaac Hayes, Harry Dean Stanton, and Ernest Borgnine(“The Devil’s Rain”, “Marty”).

Anyway..the novelization is cool because it opens with a prologue that was cut from the movie. The prologue follows Snake Plissken on a heist. Character establishment.

Being a novelization, it is a very fast read.

But what’s wacky is that there are different covers for the book.

This cover features Kurt Russell as the famous Snake Plissken. Kinda groovy and makes perfect sense.

Escape from New York Vintage Paperback Book Kurt Russell Sci Fi

Now, this other cover features a nerdy looking guy with George Lucas’ haircut. It seems this cover artist never saw the film and had no idea what Kurt Russell looked like.

Escape from New York Second Cover Vintage Paperback Sci Fi

Here’s a detail of this dude with George Lucas’ hair. The guy even has glasses (or is that a bad attempt at an eye-patch?)

Escape From New York Vintage Paperback Cover Art