Thor, 1994 ed., Wayne Smith
So, I’ve been trying to get a copy of this for a long time, and finally found an affordable version online.
That the werewolf fighting dog on the color has Apollo’s coloration was a nice bonus.

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Micki is desperately trying to encourage some culture in Ryan by taking him to a symphony performance. While Ryan makes googly-eyes at Leslie, a pretty young second violinist, a mysterious masked figure is busy backstage killing a janitor with a violin bow. Because, in case you hadn’t guessed it, this is the Phantom of the Opera riff episode. While Ryan unsuccessfully attempts to creep on Leslie backstage, Micki finds the police out front dealing with the murder. The next day, Leslie hears a mysterious violin being played in the empty theater, and gets spied on by the killer, then goes to the music store to buy some LPs…and gets hit on by Ryan who is apparently following her because he has randomly decided to be That Guy this week.

Back at the shop, Jack is having Ryan listen to some classical LPs, in the mistaken belief that Ryan is into music suddenly for anything other than gonadal reasons, and plays him some of the work of Janos Korda, who died in a car crash five years ago, but is still releasing new music somehow. And for a group of people who know of multiple ways that people can come back from the dead, this factoid doesn’t interest them much. Later that night, during a rehearsal at the concert hall, the lead violin chides Leslie for her sloppy, distracted playing, angering the masked figure into murdering the lead violin during his rooftop smoke break. Killing with the violin bow allows the killer to move his horribly burned and scarred hands enough to play. Ryan, who has somehow gotten backstage, escorts Leslie home after the murder is discovered, where she has nightmares of Korda burning. And at the shop, Micki puts two and two together on multiple people dying the same way, Leslie being a violist with a “hypnotic” hold over Ryan, and a cursed violin in the Manifest. And, meanwhile, Leslie sleeps with Ryan, much to the anger of the masked figure.

After getting her Ryan nookie, Leslie heads back to the concert hall to rehearse, when the sounds of violin music bring her to the rat-infested corridors deep beneath the building. In a lushly appointed room she meets the masked figure, instantly recognizing him as Korda and seeming terribly unsurprised at the fact that he’s still alive. And at the shop, Micki tells Jack that the person who bought the violin from Lewis did so on behalf of one of Korda’s students…Leslie. She also finds a detailed history of dead musicians in the time leading up to the annual release of “lost” Korda pieces. Leslie gives the “it’s not you, it’s my ex who’s back from the dead” speech to Ryan before going to help Korda record a new piece, finding out that he’s the one who’s been stabbing people along the way, which puts a bit of a damper on her enthusiasm. Micki, still thinking that Leslie is behind the murders, breaks into her apartment and finds Ryan, who puts all the pieces together once the backstory is explained to him, and then rushes off to the concert hall. While he’s playing the hero, an unmasked Korda (looking surprisingly like a guy in a Halloween store Freddy Kreuger mask) ends up stabbing Leslie in his attempt to kill Ryan. Korda carries Leslie’s body to the stage for…reasons, leaving Ryan to mourn heroically for a minute before chasing Korda up to the catwalk, where the sight of Leslie’s body compels Korda to jump to his death for…reasons. And leaving Ryan 1-2 on girl-friends.

This is definitely one of the better staged and shot episodes, with some very impressive visual compositions on display. Unfortunately, the whole “let’s do Phantom of the Opera” theme is handled in as pedestrian and obvious a way as possible, with Leslie’s romance with Ryan particularly forced and unconvincing. The violin is also not very interesting as a cursed object either, with a straight-forward tit-for-tat curse that operates on basic wish fulfillment rather than exploiting the violin’s intrinsic properties or history.

A Very Robey 80s


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The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane, 1975 ed., Laird Koenig
The problem with writing a novel that deliberately leaves certain details open to interpretation, is that people tend to be really bad at basing their theories about what’s happening on actual textual evidence.
What I’m saying is, don’t read “fan theories” about this book or the film adaptation if you don’t want to be annoyed with nerds.

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In a cemetery, reporter Tom Hewitt is watching some graver-robbers, under the direction of Satanically berobed Sylavan, dig up a corpse. When the local caretaker interrupts them, Sylavan flips a coin with a goat’s head design on it at him, killing the man with a brand to the forehead. Later, at the secret Satanic cult headquarters straight out of central casting, Tom witnesses Syl use the coin to bring the dead body back to life, announcing his plans to resurrect two more great sorcerers in a bid to bring Satan physically to Earth. Meanwhile at the shop, Ryan is sculpting Micki’s bust out of clay while the gang chats about how much they’re looking forward to the day they don’t have to chase after cursed antiques anymore, when the phone rings. It’s Tom, urgently needing to speak with Jack, who is apparently now the local paper’s go to expert on the occult, which means that someone has been paying attention to how much weird shit these three get involved in. Tom asks to meet Jack, and tells him he’s hidden evidence in the train station lockers in case anything happens to him. Which, naturally, immediately does.

At the Satanic lair, we learn that these are not just central casting Satanists, but full on 80s Satanic Panic brand Satanists, as Sylvan explicitly lays out his plot and the sorcerous powers of the dead he plans to resurrect before killing Tom with the coin, as all that exposition was for the audience. Jack and Ryan retrieve the evidence, and after learning about Tom’s death the next day, investigate the taxidermy shop which featured prominently in the materials Tom gathered. Posing as antique dealers they interview the proprietor, Sylvan, noting with interest the complete lack of a large crate that was delivered right before they walked in. In the torch-lit caverns beneath his shop, Sylvan reveals to the already resurrected dead sorcerer that he knows exactly who Jack and Ryan were, and back at the shop Micki’s investigation at the coroner gives Jack the clue he needed to identify the cursed object as the Coin of Ziocles, created by an alchemist who used it to determine whether his enemies lived or died, before Lewis powered it up. Micki and Jack head back to the taxidermy shop and witness the sorcerer Tyriol being resurrected, and as they try to make their escape following their inevitable discovery, Sylvan uses the coin to kill Micki.

As Jack and Ryan deal with the police over Micki’s body, the coven moves ahead with their plans to resurrect Hyberia, Satan’s mistress, who died during the Salem Witch Trials. Ryan and Jack spend some time angsting over Micki before steeling themselves to stop the cult, after some more research into Hyberia, including some not at all pointed observations about the remarkable preservative effects of the clay bog the bodies of Salem witches were tossed into. And are promptly attacked by cultists before leaving the shop. At the coven, Sylvan is surprised by Jack and Ryan, posing as the cultists they defeated during the commercial break, but is able to thwart their plans to retrieve the coin and dispose of Hyberia by the timely arrival of zombie Satanists. The ceremony continues, and when Sylvan places the coin on Hyberia, it’s Micki who sits up, substituted for the other corpse…somehow. This understandably pisses off Satan, who destroys the coven with an earthquake, killing everyone except for our heroes, who lose the coin in the confusion.

Not one of the stronger episodes, to be honest. The coin has a neat visual design, but the “live/die” thing is a bit on the nose, and the tit-for-tat mechanic is pretty standard fare for the show. The Satanic cult is rendered far too cartoonishly to take seriously as an opponent, and the melodrama over the fakeout death of Micki doesn’t help change that overall impression. Even the fact that the heroes lose at the end, with the coin remaining out there, comes off more as a tease for a future sequel (which we get, but thankfully without the cod Satanists) than as a real setback.

A Very Robey 80s



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The Companions of Doctor Who: K-9 and Company, 1987, Terence Dudley
How the story of a young female journalist and her robot dog fighting Satanists in rural England didn’t get picked up for a full series, I will never know…

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