Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Diary of the Dead 2018: Week 5


I’m logging my Monster Movie Month © viewing with ultra-mini reviews at the end of every week this October. I write it. You read it. No one needs to get hurt.

October 26

Hellraiser (1987- dir. Clive Barker) ***½

When Clive Barker adapted his novel Hellraiser for the big screen, he introduced horror fans to a genuinely original take on the genre in a decade when most horror movies were either by-the-numbers slice-‘em-ups or smirking self-parodies. Hellraiser doesn’t make a ton of sense, but the visuals do a decent job of recreating the imaginative grotesqueness of a Francis Bacon painting. Barker may not be on Bacon’s level of artistry, but Hellraiser gave violent eighties horror a desperately needed dollop of imagination.

Phenomena (1985- dir. Dario Argento) ***

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #1


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#1. Bride of Frankenstein (1935- dir. James Whale)

There could be no other number-one in this series. It is widely regarded as the crown jewel of Universal horror and one of the few sequels to best its original predecessor. It is an explosion of imagination, special effects, pathos, humor, camp, and sheer madness. Every scene offers something delightful to behold: the glittering, self-referential prologue in the home of Mary Shelley and spouse; the mock-scary re-introduction of Karloff’s monster; the unveiling of wonderfully withering and withered Dr. Pretorius; Elizabeth Frankenstein’s weird freak-out in her bedroom; Minnie; Pretorius’s astounding homunculi; the Monster’s strangely moving visit with a blind hermit; the birth of the magnificent Bride and the Monster’s ill-fated attempt to court her. Bride of Frankenstein is not as scary as Frankenstein or as pungent as Dracula or as consistently funny as Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein or as sophisticated as Psycho and The Birds, yet it is a movie that feels like it has it all and then some. It is a monster masterpiece and such dizzying fun that it will keep you sugar-buzzed for a week after Frankenstein’s castle explodes. It is Psychobabble’s favorite Universal horror, favorite horror, favorite movie, and the best prescription for having a happy Halloween. Hope you have one yourself.

And Now for No Other Reason Than It's Halloween, Here's Some Halloween Wallpaper for Your Desktop with Love from Psychobabble!


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #2


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#2. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948- dir. Charles Barton)

The monster rallies of Erle C. Kenton were basically pulling the entire Golden age of Universal horror into the grave of self-parody. Why not get out the shovel and finish the job? Once and for all, the monsters would be laughing stocks, and Karloff himself was so offended by the notion that he refused to appear in or even see the final appearances of the Frankenstein monster, Dracula, and the Wolf Man in Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein. The thing is, the monsters weren’t laughing stocks. They basically play it straight despite a couple of fleeting comedic moments such as the Monster shuddering at the sight of Costello or the count cracking wise once or twice. The humor was all up to Bud and Lou, and though they were hesitant about their first full-bore horror comedy, the blend of serious threats and screwball insanity was magical. After all, the monsters’ main allure was never really their scariness. It was the fun lying just beneath their scarred or furry surfaces. Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein draws that fun right out into the air and makes no apologies for it. Bud and Lou and Glenn Strange get top billing, but Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, Jr., give this movie real legitimacy as an essential Universal horror film. The only possible way to have more fun while watching a movie is to check out the one in the next and final installment of Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors…

Monday, October 29, 2018

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #3


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#3. Psycho (1963- dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

As I said in my discussion of The Birds a few days ago, Hitchcock’s horrors of the early sixties didn’t as much wrap up an age of horror as they launched a new one. With the possible exception of Franju’s gory Le yeux sans visage, Psycho was the ultimate shot across the bow for horror’s new age. After subsisting on years of vampires, ghosts, giant spiders, and other humbugs, 1960s audiences must have been utterly rattled by this unsparing portrait of a human monster. The film’s sexuality, the viciousness of the attacks, the grotesqueness of Mother’s corpse, and the sympathetic way Norman Bates is presented surely reconfigured the minds of movie audiences and made them capable of digesting even hardier stuff such as Night of the Living Dead, A Clockwork Orange, and The Exorcist. Hitchcock maximizes his film’s shocks with tricky, bait-and-switch storytelling, and Anthony Perkins aids and abets that assault with his completely ingratiating portrayal of Norman Bates. As far as I’m concerned, horror cinema’s two greatest decades are the 1930s and 1960s, and Universal was responsible for setting both of them in motion.

Review: 'It’s Saturday Morning! Celebrating the Golden Age of Cartoons 1960s-1990s'


Okay, so not every cartoon Joe Garner and Michael Ashley cover in It’s Saturday Morning! Celebrating the Golden Age of Cartoons 1960s-1990s aired on Saturday morning. In fact, they aren’t even all cartoons (see the entry on Pee Wee’s Playhouse). Yet the writers do a good job a selecting the shows that best defined each of the four generations their book explores. These are not cursory, encyclopedia-style entries; each is about four or five pages long, and each gets reasonably in depth about the genesis, content, and legacy of shows never intended to have a legacy once the six-year olds lost interest: Josie and the Pussycats, GI Joe, Space Ghost, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, The Smurfs, and so on.

The odd part (aside from the authors’ bizarrely clueless insistence that all of these shows aired on Saturday mornings) is that Garner and Ashley deal with such a weightlessly fun topic as if has some greater value than stimulating nostalgia. The tone of the book should have been fun, friendly, and perhaps even a bit snarky, like that of Robinson and Karp’s Just Can’t Get Enough: Toys, Games, and Other Stuff From the ’80s That Rocked. The reverence seems to miss the obvious fact that most of these shows were great fun for six-year olds buzzed on Frankenberry but pretty crappy in essence. Garner and Ashley want us to believe that The Smurfs has a “complex mythology,” Garfield possessed “smart storytelling,” and that most of these shows were better animated, better written, and more educational than they actually were. All I ever learned from watching He-Man was how to perfect my Christmas wish list. There’s also a dogged determination to keep things reverent, which becomes a bit odd during a discussion of Fat Albert that continually references Bill Cosby’s artistry without at all acknowledging the monstrousness for which he is now best known.

While the tone could have been more appropriate to the material, the look of It’s Saturday Morning! gets everything right with big, color images from those delightfully garish childhood memories.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #4


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#4. The Invisible Man (1933- dir. James Whale)

James Whale found his voice with The Old Dark House. He started shouting from the rooftops with The Invisible Man. Its blend of horror and humor are seamless. The plot is pretty faithful to H.G. Wells, but that guy didn’t have a funny bone in his body. Whale and writer R.C. Sheriff find the humor in a mad scientist who can do as he pleases—so long as he’s totally naked— without going in any of the obvious gross or prurient directions. Really, Dr. Jack Griffin just wants to have fun, whether that means dancing down a road as a pair of floating pants while singing “Here we go gathering nuts in May” or throwing a few beer mugs about. OK, he takes the joke too far when he derails a train and murders his arch rival for the affections of Gloria Stuart, but can you blame him for that last one? That Dr. Kemp is such a bore! The same cannot be said of Griffin, and Claude Rains fleshes out his invisible role with a brilliantly expressive voice. However, the real stars of The Invisible Man may very well be the special effects team of John P. Fulton, John J. Mescall, and Frank D. Williams, whose disappearing act will still make you marvel “How did they do that?” Oh…and Una O’Connor. Never forget Una O’Connor.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Review: 'The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society' 2018 Remaster


It is a very Kinky bit of irony that as The Kinks were hitting an artistic peak in 1968, they were at an all-time commercial low. Consequently, almost nobody bought their masterpiece, the album that I personally believe to be pop’s very finest: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society. Of course, in the year’s following its near-silent release in late 1968, many have become aware of the album’s nostalgic, delicate, funny, sad, absurdly tuneful charms. You know that later-day artists such as Blur, Elliott Smith, Belle & Sebastian, and The Shins were listening—not to mention The Kinks own contemporary and Village Green super fan Pete Townshend.

Today, this album is regarded as a pop treasure, and as has become customary for such things, its fiftieth anniversary is not being ignored as its original birthday had been. The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is being released as a massive a five-CD, three-LP, 5-single box set. Alas, Psychobabble has only received a single CD containing a new remaster of the core album for review purposes. This remaster is very similar to the great sounding one from the triple-disc edition of Village Green released in 2004 with only slight, occasional differences. For example, the new master of “The Village Green Preservation Society” is noticeably louder and brighter than the old one, though you’d be hard pressed to discern any differences in most of the other tracks. As a whole, it’s a draw.

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #5


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#5. Dracula (1931- dir. Tod Browning)

Scoff if you will. Many have. They call it static, stagy, and hammy. They call it boring and inept. They can stake themselves as far as I’m concerned. Dracula is flawed in some ways, but the film’s overall effect is profound. This movie is so Gothic, so alluringly archaic, so deeply creepy you can practically smell the dank crypt air. Dracula builds atmosphere like few other films, and a horror movie is nothing without atmosphere. It also has Bela Lugosi, the man who embodies the count so completely that it is always unsatisfying seeing another actor portray him no matter how technically better the actor’s performance is. As iconic as Bela is, Dwight Frye arguably steals the film as Renfield. He’s crazed, but he is also funny, frightening, fearful, and strangely sympathetic. The entire opening sequence in Dracula’s castle is masterful: Dracula’s awe-inspiring appearance on his massive stairway, Renfield and Dracula’s sickly humorous dinner, the dreadful appearance of the vampire’s famished brides. Critics complain that the film loses all steam after it leaves Transylvania, but I prefer to think that the steam that opening sequence builds powers the rest of the picture. Frankenstein is technically a better movie, but no serious horror puts me in the Universal spirit like Dracula.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Diary of the Dead 2018: Week 4



I’m logging my Monster Movie Month © viewing with ultra-mini reviews at the end of every week this October. I write it. You read it. No one needs to get hurt.

October 19

Captain Kronos—Vampire Hunter (1974- dir. Brian Clemens) ****

At a time when Hammer was doubling down on its exploitative rep, the studio produced this comparatively light-hearted romp in which a swashbuckler trots across the countryside looking for vampires to stab. Captain Kronos—Vampire Hunter may be Hammer’s freshest film of the seventies. James Needs’s editing is very stylish (a pub swordfight is pricelessly executed), and Horst Janson is reasonably appealing as the vamp slayer (though his penchant for violent sex is a gratuitous capitulation to the era’s nastier ethos). Caroline Munro and John Cater as Kronos’s more personable sidekicks are better. It’s too bad this did not lead to the series it was intended to because it would have been great fun to watch this dynamic trio swashbuckle their way through other adventures.

Blair Witch (2016- dir. Adam Wingard) **

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #6


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#6. Frankenstein (1931- dir. James Whale)

The definitive Universal monster movie. James Whale was a great wit, but he plays Frankenstein very seriously (in fact, the only comic relief character, Baron Frankenstein, is a complete dim wit and not particularly funny). You won’t miss the cheekiness of Bride, Invisible Man, or The Old Dark House because you will be completely transfixed by Boris Karloff’s devastating portrayal of the Monster. He can be terrifying, as he is in his disturbing jump-cut introduction, but he is mostly deeply moving and sympathetic. It is a beautiful performance heavily indebted to silent film but without a lick of the over-emoting/over-gesticulating that marked much pre-sound acting. Karloff is completely, modernly naturalistic whether tragically trying to connect with a little girl or reaching for rays of sunlight as if they’re tangible love. Colin Clive is also great as frantic, obsessed Dr. F., and Dwight Frye is at his nastiest as the doctor’s sadistic assistant Fritz. Whale’s Gothic style is impeccable, and the inventive editing and staging make this a monster movie as towering, solid, and timeless as the creature himself.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Review: 'Thought Gang'


In 1992, David Lynch was involved in a welter of projects, including producing the soundtrack for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, which some (myself included) rate as the finest non-pop soundtrack album of all time. It would feature the sounds most associated with Lynch and his musical main-man Angelo Badalamenti: jazz percussion, guttural double bass, and dreamy synths.

At the same time, Lynch and Badalamenti were dabbling with a side project that used those signature sounds as a foundation to graffiti with dreadful drones and disturbed spoken-word yarns. They called the project Thought Gang, a good name considering the music’s dual goals of stimulating your intellect with its jazz overtures and assaulting you with its demanding discordance and sheer scariness.

While any plans to release the project in the nineties didn’t come to be, significant chunks of Thought Gang’s music emerged, most notably “A Real Indication”, “The Black Dog Runs at Night”, and “Frank 2000” in Fire Walk with Me (though only the first two tracks made its soundtrack album) and the hip-hop-ish “One Dog Bark” in the “Missing Pieces” bonus feature on the Fire Walk with Me Blu-ray.

Now, 26 years after the project began, Thought Gang is finally receiving a proper release from Sacred Bones Records. Not surprisingly, the two weirdest tracks from the Fire Walk with Me soundtrack sound practically prosaic in the context of this other stuff. “A Meaningless Conversation” is as queasy as music gets and the concluding two tracks, “Frank 2000” and “Summer Night Noise”, drop the rhythmic safety net altogether for more than 25 minutes (and nearly half of the album’s run time) of nightmarish noise. Thought Gang sounds like the lost soundtrack to a David Lynch movie so disturbing it was permanently shelved. If that sounds appealing to you, dive in and brace yourself for nightmares.

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #7


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#7. The Birds (1963- dir. Alfred Hitchcock)

Hitchcock’s horrors of the early sixties really mark the beginning of a new age of horror distinct from the days of Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, and The Gill Man. They are utterly contemporary, psychologically complex, graphically violent, and overtly sexual. In the case of The Birds, Hitchcock’s brand of horror is also very colorful. Because of its complete cinematic sophistication, it may be a little unfair to rank The Birds against most of the other movies in this series, but it does deserve a place here. Hitchcock was a shit, and it’s hard to find Melanie Daniels’s terror entertaining knowing what we know about what the director put Tippi Hedren through, but his artistry is unassailable. The playground, children’s party, and yes, attic sequences constitute a master’s class in establishing suspense, delivering terrifying action, editing, sound, acting, and everything else that goes into making a superior horror movie. The Birds is one of the most superior of all.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Review: 'The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC'


R.E.M. had a longstanding relationship with the BBC that began with a live broadcast in late 1984 and continued for the next twenty years. The weighty new set R.E.M. at the BBC collects 104 performances the Georgians recorded for Aunty across eight CDs with two full-length TV specials plus a few bonus videos on a DVD. If that sounds like too much hypnotic jangling and mumbling for you, there are also more concise two-disc CD and LP editions of R.E.M. at the BBC.

A glance at what’s included on the briefer sets may initially be disappointing since they tend to shun the one tantalizingly classic broadcast from the eighties, but the recording quality of that 1984 set from Rock City, Nottingham, is a bit rougher than the rest of what’s available. The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC favors crisp recordings and readings of the songs that differ from the album versions. Both the big box and the Best of begin with a selection of unplugged interpretations. Things continue to mix up from there as “Lotus” from the highly underrated Up whines with strange synth sounds, “At My Most Beautiful” strips back the Brian Wilson-density of the album version, “Orange Crush” roars out as a rawer fruit than the rendition on Green, and “Drive” trades in the dusky acoustics of Automatic for the People for raging, glam distortion.

The one obvious flaw of The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC is the decision to double-up on “Losing My Religion” when so many other—and frankly, better—songs from the big set could have been featured instead. Nevertheless, The Best of R.E.M. at the BBC is a nice opportunity to hear a selection of the group’s songs a bit differently than we’re used to hearing them, and the results are generally lovely and vicious.

Review: 'Best Movies of the 80s'


Empire Magazine editor Helen O’Hara’s new book is called Best Movies of the 80s, but I don’t think even she really believes that. Tron? The Lost Boys? Top Gun? No, a more appropriate title would be Most 80s Movies of the 80s. Films seem to make the cut based on how well they evoke the decade of mullets, keytars, headbands, and Reaganomics. As a movie dork who came of age during the decade in question, I have an uncontrollable natural inclination to list all of the great movies that did not make the cut, but (coughBlue Velvet…) will (ahemAn American Werewolf in London) restrain (ackPee Wee’s Big Adventure) myself (blecchHairspray, Better off Dead, The Shining…). Instead I’ll focus on the breezy, Aquanet-scented fun that is Best Movies of the 80s. O’Hara evaluates each movie quite sufficiently with humor, political astuteness, and a clear understanding that movies such as Crocodile Dundee and Labyrinth (arghThe Dark Crystal…) aren’t exactly in the same league Citizen Kane and that movies such as E.T. and Do the Right Thing are.

But to get too in depth or critical about Best Movies of the 80s is to miss the point. O’Hara’s main intention is to deliver a book as fun and frivolous as the movies it details, and she manages that awesomely with her tubular supplements about MTV’s influence on film, the decade’s best musical moments, etc. and a totally radical slew of full-color photos (harumphThe Big Red OneThe Elephant ManFast Times at Ridgemont High...Blood SimpleRepo ManStop Making SenseThe Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her LoverReturn of the Living DeadRiver’s EdgeFull Metal JacketWithnail & I……)

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #8


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#8. The Black Cat (1934- dir. Edgar Ulmer)

Universal horror did not always rely on supernatural horror. In fact, what may be it’s most horrifying horror of all had no supernatural elements, though its characters deeply believe in the powers of evil. Karloff is no longer the conflicted creature of Frankenstein. He’s all evil as an Alistair Crowley stand-in who matches wits with Bela Lugosi as a psychiatrist out for revenge. Universal tried to pass The Black Cat off as a Poe adaptation, but it has zilch to do with its namesake story. Yet, as many have pointed out, Poe would likely have approved of the film’s perversity and bleakness. Edgar Ulmer’s noir-ish style and the Art Deco sets give The Black Cat a personality distinct from any of the other Universal horrors of its era. However, it is Karloff and Lugosi who make this picture such delicious fun, and they get to wrap their tongues around some of the most memorable dialogue they ever spoke: “Supernatural perhaps, boloney perhaps not.” “The phone is dead; even the phone is dead.” Even when the dialogue isn’t especially clever, the actors’ relish makes it so, as when Karloff makes the line “He has an intense and all-consuming horror of cats” sings like a Stradivarius.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #9


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#9. The Wolf Man (1941- dir. George Waggner)

Having exhausted literary sources during the first phase of its Golden Age of monsters, Universal managed an original creation to really bring its next phase into focus. More rooted in the practical/tragic human issues of turning into a snarling beast beneath the moon than Werewolf of London had been, The Wolf Man finally got the werewolf picture right. The originality of its story is not the only thing that sets The Wolf Man apart from Universal’s earlier horrors: it also eschews a Gothic, period setting in favor of a contemporary, fairy tale milieu. Yet the new monster was such an instant smash that he was deemed an acceptable playmate for Frank and Drac. Lon Chaney, Jr., gets to do what he does best as he grimaces and wrings his hands as Larry Talbot. Jack Pierce gets to do what he does best as he covers Chaney’s face in yak fur, fashioning his final memorable monster. The Wolf Man also stands out from most of the earlier Frankenstein and Dracula pictures because of its consistently interesting cast. Dracula was a touch of a drag whenever Bela or Dwight Frye wasn’t on screen, but you never feel as though The Wolf Man is wasting your time as long as Claude Rains, Evelyn Ankers, the unforgettable Maria Ouspenskaya, and yes, Bela, are on screen.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors: #10


Halloween season simply isn’t Halloween season without a regular dose of golden age Universal horror (1923-1963). Every day this October, I’ll be giving you a steady IV drip of it by counting down Psychobabble’s 31 Favorite Universal Horrors!

#10. The Mummy (1932- dir. Karl Freund)

It’s a tried and true Hollywood formula: you score big once; you attempt to carbon copy that success. It doesn’t always work, but it did when Universal practically remade Dracula as The Mummy. Once again you have a long-in-the-tooth monster crossing an ocean to ensnare a specific women in its thrall while contending with Edward Van Sloan and David “Mr. Personality” Manners. The Mummy isn’t very original, but it does make certain stylistic improvements over Dracula with its sumptuous sets, elaborate monster make up, less static staging, and heightened air of romance. Karloff makes the most of a monster without much pep, and between his naturally mesmerizing gaze and some well-positioned pin lights, he’s also the center of some of the creepiest shots in a golden age Universal monster movie. Zita Johann and the flashback-pool sequence are similarly mesmerizing.

Review: 'Scum and Villainy: Case Files on the Galaxy’s Most Notorious'


While the war between the Empire and the Rebels is the foundation of the Star Wars universe, it is also a place ripe with crime. Those criminals can be the genuinely vile likes of Jabba the Hutt or shades-of-grey rogues such as Han Solo. Pablo Hidalgo’s new book Scum and Villainy: Case Files on the Galaxy’s Most Notorious is a sort of mock dossier on the underworld types scurrying on the outskirts of Star Wars’ main story. 

A book of this type can be a lot of fun (check out Mark Frost’s mock dossiers on the Twin Peaks universe), and few properties are more fun than Star Wars, but Hidalgo has a tendency to take it way, way too seriously. Scum and Villainy should have been a light-hearted, frivolous romp not unlike the recent Solo movie that likely inspired its focus on Star Wars’ crime world. Instead it reads like a particularly dry history textbook of a made-up world. Reading a Star Wars book should never feel like work. Reading this one does.

Scum and Villainy also highlights how diffuse the Star Wars universe has become. While some of the enemies of law and order in question will be familiar to all —both enemies of the villainous imperial state such as Princess Leia and genuine crooks and creeps like Jabba, Solo, and the beloved bounty hunters from The Empire Strikes Back—most are apparently pulled from cartoons, novels, comics, or whatever else is now considered canon. I had no idea who most of these characters were, which would not be an issue if their stories were told in an engaging, entertaining fashion. Since they weren’t, I didn’t really care who they are or what they do. Consequently, Scum and Villainy seems like a book aimed at the most hardcore and humorless of Star Wars fans. At least the abundant painted art and slick slipcover add some panache to a book that should have been more worthy of its cool design.

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