Pulp Movies

A while back, I mentioned one of my all time favorite movies on my Yahoo Groups, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”; a science fiction flick from the 1950s. This was a morality movie, with a flying saucer landing in Washington D.C. An alien named Klaatu exits the craft, with a nine foot tall robot following. The military immediately shoots the alien, wounding him, and the robot just as quickly wipes out tanks and artillery guns before you can blink an eye. This was a wonderful movie for its time. The message Klaatu brings to the world is, “Cease your aggression, and join us in peace, or bring your war-like attitude to outer space, and we will turn your world into a burned out cinder!”

Well, the good news is that Hollywood will release a remake on December 12th, starring Keanu Reeves as Klaatu. The current special effects should be fantastic. The bad news is that Hollywood cannot do justice to an old classic like this wonderful old flick. Just remember what they did with the recent “War Of The Worlds”. But I do hope they treat it with the respect it deserves. Another great classic being talked about is, “The Incredible Shrinking Man”, in which a cloud of radiation causes a man to shrink, eventually to the size of a mouse. A house cat chases him into the cellar, where he must contend with a venomous house spider for his food. In the original 1950s movie, they used a tarantula, although the novel called for a black widow spider. I think the remake should feature the more menacing black widow spider. There are enough horror elements in this story for the horror fan, and science fiction elements for the sci-fi fan. This is another movie I hope I am around to see. Unfortunately, they are now considering making this into a comedy. Bad news!

There is more good news on the horizon for this old pulp fiction fan. As most of you already know, Sam Raimi who brought us the latest Spiderman flicks, as well as the Darkman series, and other good movies, has obtained the film rights to Doc Savage and The Shadow, along with some of the other heroes from the pulp era. Raimi is an old fan of The Shadow, and plans on doing a top-notch version of the character. A number of publishers would like to get the publishing rights for both Doc Savage and The Shadow, in anticipation of the new movies, hoping to capitalize on their success when they are released. I would love to see an anthology of short stories featuring Doc and crew. Unfortunately, so far Conde Nast, the current copyright holder of the properties are holding the characters for ransom, and publishers are not willing to shell out the high price they want for such small publishing ventures. Although, there is some exciting news being circulated now: It appears that Will Murray may be continuing the series with some of his own novels! In anticipation of the possibility of an anthology, I have written a Doc Savage short story for consideration, but until things come to a head, everything is in limbo. And I know that I was born to write at least one Shadow yarn in my life. I just hope I am still around when that opportunity arises.

Still on the movie scene, we can expect a new Star Trek soon, plus a new Green Hornet movie. Unfortunately, I understand the Green Hornet will be shot as a comedy. I think someone must have grown up with the old TV Batman series. “Wham! Bam!” So sad, if this is true.

On the writing front, Altus Press recently released my study of the Purple Wars from the Operator #5 series. As always, Matt Moring brings out great books for the fans, both in fiction and pulp history. NTD also released my short story collection in “Blood Moons And Nightscapes”, an anthology coauthored with Barbara Custer. Included in the book is my short novel, “Bad Moon Rising”, about a squad of soldiers in the Vietnam War. These two books end 2008, but I have several books scheduled next year, from NTD and Altus Press. 2009 should be a good year.

As the announcer used to say: “Stay tuned!”


  1. I am (guardedly, I admit) looking forward to the new version of Day the Earth Stood Still. It is probably my all time favorite movie. The story was very good, the effects were well done for the time period it was filmed and Michale Rennie turned in a top notch performance, IMO. I personally doubt the remake will match the original, but I do intend to see it on the big screen (a rarity for me with the price of movies these days) and I hope I’ll be surprised.

    As for The Shadow movie, you know me – I’ve got my fingers crossed that this one will happen. I loved the Alec Baldwin version (bad as it might have been) but I’d really love to see them do the character justice this time. The Shadow was as much about the organization working for him as the Shadow himself. Here’s hoping that Raimi can make this one work – I really enjoyed his Darkman series and have all of them on DVD.

    And best of luck with your books in 2009, Tom. I can’t guarantee I’ll buy everything you put out, but there’s a number of your books that I won’t let myself miss out on!

  2. I dread the coming of the DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL REMAKE given the trailers I see on TV. Hollywood has a great ability to botch remakes.
    I’ll be ordering your PURPLE WARS book this week. Now if someone could just reissue the entire series….

  3. Well, Adventure House DID reprint the whole Purple Wars series in Pulp Review/High Adventure. Some are still available.

    And Wildside Press is now ALSO do reprints of Operator #5, and has reprinted a couple of the PW books. Maybe they’ll do the rest.

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