Davenport Events & Phantom Release

August 5th, 2014 by Max Allan Collins

This has been such a busy writing year so far, Barb and I did not set up a signing tour. We figured between San Diego Con this summer and Bouchercon in Long Beach this fall, a good number of fans would have access to us. But this coming weekend, we are doing two events in our home area.

First, Barb, Matt Clemens and I will be signing on Saturday, August 9, at Books-a-Million in Davenport, Iowa, 4000 East 53rd Street, from 1 pm till 2:30 (approximately). We’ll be signing SUPREME JUSTICE, ANTIQUES CON and KING OF THE WEEDS. That particular BAM! has a deep shelf of Collins (and Barbara Allan) books going beyond the new releases. Barb, Matt and I have done very few of these joint signings.

Second, the very next day – Sunday, August 10 at 2 pm – I’ll be speaking and then signing at Barnes & Noble in Davenport, 320 W. Kimberly Road. Barnes and Noble has been doing a salute to comics and pop culture over the last few weeks, and my talk will touch on ROAD TO PERDITION going from book to film. Barb will be there. Not sure yet about Matt – it will depend on whether this B & B was able to get copies of SUPREME JUSTICE in (the chain has a policy against stocking Amazon-published titles).

Also, on Paula Sands Live (KWQC TV, Channel 6, 3 PM) this coming Wednesday, August 6, Barb and I will be appearing in support of these events. Some of you outside the Channel 6 viewing area may recall Paula Sands from MOMMY 2: MOMMY’S DAY, where she appeared as herself very good-naturedly kidding her own show. I realize this appearance only means something to our section of the Midwest, but Paula has the highest-rated local show in the region.

Though we’re not doing a tour by any means, Barb and I will also be appearing this coming September 14 at Centuries & Sleuths in Chicago (actually, Forest Park). We have cut way back on book signings, for lots of reasons, but C & S is one of our favorite bookstores. It’s devoted to history and mystery and couldn’t be a better fit for us. Owner/manager Augie Alesky is one great guy – fun, funny and knowledgeable…even if he doesn’t believe in author’s discounts. (More about this signing later).

* * *
Phantom of the Paradise Blu-Ray

The terrific Shout! Factory has released a wonderful blu-ray of PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, which regular readers of these updates may recall is one of my favorite movies. Here’s what I said about it here a few years ago:

How ironic that that steaming piece of cheese, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, is so popular, and the great rock ‘n’ roll PHANTOM remains a cult item. Paul Williams delivers a fantastic performance and a score equal to it, parodying various rock styles and prescient about several fads to come (a Kiss-style group pre-dates Kiss here). Jessica Harper is charismatic and sings hauntingly well, and William Finley is the perfect sad, crippled, demented Phantom. For a long time Brian De Palma was my favorite contemporary director. He’s had some bad stumbles over the years, but at his best he’s hard to beat. This is the only time, however, that he perfectly merged his comic and melodramatic impulses.

Some day I may write about PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE in more depth, as I think it’s a masterpiece and one of the best films of the ‘70s – certainly my favorite film of the ‘70s. The Shout! Factory release is superior to the foreign blu-rays previously snatched up by PHANTOM phans like me, with a great transfer and wonderful special features stretched out over the blu-ray and the DVD version that’s also included. A new Paul Williams interview is particularly good, making me realize that the film is so special in the careers of Williams and De Palma because the two collaborated on this (and only this) film. Williams is revealed as virtually co-director/writer, when you realize how thoroughly he controlled the songs and their presentation. There’s a minor but annoying glitch in the commentary, where Gerrit Graham and Jessica Harper recordings overlap, but Shout! Factory (rating the only “boo” related to this release) is just shrugging that off as minor, not offering replacement discs. Get it anyway.

If you think you don’t like Paul Williams because you consider “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Rainbow Connection” and so on to be easy-listening fluff, well…two things. First, you’re wrong – he’s always been a great songwriter; his Three Dog Night material alone proves that (“Out in the Country,” “Family of Man,” “Old-Fashioned Love Song”). Second, the genre-hopping/slicing songs in PHANTOM are his greatest, most sophisticated work, and many of them genuinely rock. If you have avoided this film because it’s a musical (I’m talking to you, Matt Clemens), it isn’t, not in the Broadway sense. All songs here are either performed for an audience (the “Paradise” theater of the title) or on the soundtrack.

Williams, having had post-PHANTOM substance problems, cleaned up in a major way and is having a nice third act in a unique career. He is on the very short list of celebrities I’d love to meet. There’s an interesting recent documentary about him (STILL ALIVE).

By the way, I once said here that I’ve never seen a movie more times than I have KISS ME DEADLY. It’s possible I’ve watched PHANTOM more often. Back in the day, Terry Beatty and I (often accompanied by Barb) saw PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE in various movie theaters every chance we got. I’m guessing a dozen times, easy. And I’ve owned it on Beta, VHS, laserdisc and three different blu-rays.

If you’ve never seen it, get real, get with it, and you are such a lucky bastard.

A few other quick movie notes: don’t miss LUCY, the best thing Luc Besson (admittedly a wildly uneven filmmaker) has ever done. It’s a cross between a Hong Kong action movie and 2001. Very few of the critics have been smart enough to get this one. Once again, the rule pertains: if you have exposition to deliver, hire Morgan Freeman.

Don’t go near SEX TAPE. I am a Jason Segel fan going back to FREAKS AND GEEKS, but every laugh in this wretchedly written film is in the trailer…and work better in the trailer.

* * *

SUPREME JUSTICE continues to ride the Kindle bestseller charts, and has racked up (as of this writing) a dizzying 1938 reviews and an averaged four-star rating.

Here’s a very favorable SUPREME JUSTICE review from Bookgasm.

Here’s another from Bob’s on Books.

And one from Coastal Breeze News.

And this from Kingdom Books, though you have to dig a little.

For a change of pace, here’s a WRONG QUARRY review from the aptly named Point Blank.

The articles about non-superhero comic-book movies continue, with ROAD TO PERDITION scoring well.

Finally, here at my pal Lee Goldberg’s site is the full list of Scribe winners. We’re sending out the UK trophies today!

M.A.C.

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4 Responses to “Davenport Events & Phantom Release”

  1. Terry Beatty says:

    I caught POTP in the theater 14 times on the original release — Muscatine, Quad Cities, Iowa City — even at the Strand in West Liberty. I recall you saying after the first viewing, “I’m not sure if I liked that or not, but I know I’m going to be thinking about it for a long while.”

    I have the new blu-ray here, and thanks to my in-laws visiting, have not been able to give the feature a spin yet — but have watched the DVD extras while working on my strips. Had forgotten that King Features sued to keep them from simply calling the film “Phantom.” That’s a little extra funny for me now, considering.

    Hope to find the time for LUCY — crazy busy work week here.

  2. Mike Doran says:

    OK, September 14 is a go – and only half a month before my birthday!

    Actually, I’m glad it’s in September, because August is gonna be a momma dog.

    This weekend, it’s the Flashback Weekend, devoted to horror/SF/fantasy stuff, with many sales tables to take my retirement income.

    One week later, it’s the Hollywood Collectors Show (formerly the Courts Show), with even more sales tables to take more of my retirement income.

    The week after that, it’s Wizard World (formerly the ComicCon) – see above.

    I’m not pleading poverty here. I still get a fair-sized severance paycheck from my erstwhile employers.
    And I suppose it could be worse – they could be holding all three shows the same weekend.
    I’ve had some “twofers” in the past, and the public transit timing was a bother.
    As it happens, all three shows are being held in the same area – Rosemont, aka “the Garden of Stephens” (local joke – explanation on demand); three different venues about a block apart – and two to two and a half hours on the CTA.

    Anyhow, that gives me two weeks to rest up before the sortie to Forest Park – which will take me about as long because it’s a Sunday and the suburban PACE buses don’t run as frequently.

    Nertz and nertz again.
    Congrats on the Scribe Award …
    … and “See You In September …”

  3. Max Allan Collins says:

    My memory, such as it is, reminds me that PHANTOM almost immediately spawned a kind of cult, resulting in a re-release and an attempt to turn it into a midnight show a la ROCKY HORROR. That allowed us (talking about Terry here) to chase it down like a white whale we wanted to embrace not harpoon. I’m not sure if I ever saw it in a theater without Terry Beatty, but his number of 14 sounds right. I don’t remember not knowing immediately that I loved PHANTOM, but in those days I sometimes found conventional thinking getting briefly in my way, until what I really thought worked its way to the front of my brain. When I saw Elvis Costello on SNL — where he changed up songs on them — I was put off by his demeanor, almost angered. The next day I bought his first two albums. I realized I had witnessed rock ‘n’ roll.

  4. Andrew Reiss says:

    Max

    Just wanted to let you know that I did post a review on Amazon for King of Weeds (you had sent me a signed copy ). Sorry , I was not able to read and review it sooner. I did enjoy reading it and plan to catch up with your other Mike Hammer books (as well as Spillane’s novels as well). Should I start off with I Jury or does it make a difference? Thank you again for sending me the autographed copy. My review appears initially under my wife’s name; Deanna Reiss (being more of a shopper than myself, the amazon account is in her name), but I signed the review at the end. After 30 tears of being a fan (discovered you through Ms. Tree!), I still look forward to each new novel you write. Thank you for writing so many well written and enjoyable to read books.-Andrew Reiss

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