Why You Should Give Phantoms Another Shot on it’s 20th Anniversary

There are likely two predictable reactions to any mention of 1998’s Phantoms, a campy, Ben Affleck-led sci-fi/epidemic thriller that came out in theaters 20 years ago this month: either complete befuddlement because the movie’s been lost to the ether, or something resembling, “Hmm, I think I picked that up from Blockbuster at some point, but I don’t remember much about it.”

Both reactions are understandable. Phantoms, based on a Dean Koontz novel of the same name, barely made a splash at the box office, pulling in just north of $3 million on its opening weekend. One might point to the fact that TitanicGood Will Hunting, and As Good As It Gets were still dominating the cinemas as reasons for its paltry showing, but that’d ignore the fact that Phantomsprobably got exactly what it deserved. The formless sludge of Phantoms — both the mysterious evil creatures and the film itself — couldn’t compete with the joyous meta masterpiece that is Spice World, never mind topple a juggernaut like Titanic.

With all that said, though, there’s still plenty of reason to revisit (or introduce yourself to) Phantoms on its twentieth anniversary. Sure, the editing is a mess and the story is as flimsy as that old box filled with VHS tapes that you just can’t seem to get rid of, but it’s also a film that deserves a certain amount of reclaiming. It deserves to be enshrined as a campy classic that populates the occasional midnight screening at your local cinema right around Halloween. From the performances and the special effects, to the sheer ludicrousness of certain scenes, Phantoms boasts some serious B-movie bona fides.

If you need more convincing, here are a few reasons why Phantoms deserves your time 20 years after its disastrous box office performance.

Read the full article @ SyFy Wire.

NoOne Reviews Odd Thomas

“The dead don’t talk, I don’t know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Meet Odd Thomas, the unassuming young hero of Dean Koontz’s dazzling New York Times bestseller, a gallant sentinel at the crossroads of life and death who offers up his heart in these pages and will forever capture yours.
Sometimes the silent souls who seek out Odd want justice. Occasionally their otherworldly tips help him prevent a crime. but his time it’s different. A stranger comes to Pico Mundo, accompanied by a horde of hyena-like shades who herald an imminent catastrophe. Aided by his soul mate, Stormy Llewellyn, and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Odd will race against time to thwart the gathering evil his account of these shattering hours, in which past and present, fate and destiny, converge, is a testament by which in live – an unforgettable fable for our time destined to rank among Dean Koontz’s’ most enduring works.

Originally published on Dec 13, 2017

The Silent Corner: My Review

I know Dean doesn’t like to be pegged to a particular genre, but in all the years that I’ve been reading his work, I’ve found that in most cases, each novel falls into one of five categories: Science Fiction (Dark Symphony, Demon Seed, Lightning), Suspense (Whispers, House of Thunder, Key to Midnight), Horror (Watchers, Shadowfires, 77 Shadow Street), Fantastics (Odd Thomas, From the Corner of His Eye), and Thrillers (The Face of Fear, Shattered, Dark Rivers of the Heart.) Sure, there are exceptions (Hanging On) and you can quibble with me on even some of my examples, but in the end, the horror is my favorite followed by the thrillers in a very close second. The Silent Corner is a thriller in the best Dean Koontz style, and one I finished in just a few sittings.

The thrillers don’t have monsters, nothing supernatural, aren’t preachy, and usually have someone chasing after the main character. The tech involved is real although some it may be stretched a bit into the future for dramatic effect. The Silent Corner is a thriller and the first in a trilogy all centered around FBI Agent Jane Hawk, currently on leave looking into a conspiracy that she believes led her husband, and many others, to commit suicide. Throw in drones, armored vehicles, and a form of mind control and you’ll be buckled in for the ride.

As a librarian I do have one additional praise and one criticism that I do want to get on the record. First, Jane uses public libraries on a regular basis to have untraceable Internet access. Kudos to Dean for getting this one right. However, another character, caught looking at porn in a library, defended his doing so with the following:

“Look, I work with various concerned groups in the city. We try to set things right where we can. It took a while to get libraries to block the nasty websites so kids couldn’t get on them. Now and then a librarian or somebody decides it’s a free-speech issue and opens the lid on the sewer. I was told that branch was backsliding. I had to see for myself. Today, the lid’s back on, kids are safe.”

The issue of porn on library computers just isn’t that simple and I hope Dean doesn’t actually think it is.

In the end, if you’re a fan of Dean’s thrillers you’re going to love The Silent Corner and I expect the sequels when they arrive.


Warlock review in Locus #129

Way back in 1972 Locus magazine was still a fanzine than what it is today. And, in what I believe is a December 1972 issue (“the 26th 1972 issue of a bi-weekly newspaper”) is a short less than spectacular review of Warlock written by Fred Patton.

Locus 129 (1) Locus 129 (2)