R.J. Sullivan at Fandomfest

1069209_511944925543460_1155410685_nSo this year, FandomFest in Louisville, KY, has, among other superstar guests, William Shatner, Stan Lee, Gillian Anderson, Colin Baker, Gene Simmons, some Walking Dead people, and others along those same lines.

Not that you care about that. You’re showing up to stalk me. It okay. I feel ya’, and I got ya’ covered.

I’ll be at the Seventh Star Table with…well, Seventh Star Authors, including my TCQ (The Corvus Quartet–Google Corvus Constellation) buddies, John F. Allen, Eric Garrison and Michael West. TCQ is a foursome of authors and friends who belong to the same publisher and all live in the Indianapolis area. We’ve combined our powers to brainstorm ideas, trade resources and in other ways support each other’s efforts for the greater good of the whole. Or something like that.

In any case, Seventh Star will have a strong presence again this year, and the regional author tract will include a full weekend of panels and opportunities to learn how we authors do our authorly thing so you future authors can figure out how you can become a future author also…but sooner. Or something like that. Yes, I get paid to do this, what’s your point?

So here’re my panels.

5:30 p.m. Effective Social Media–Room 106

2:30 p.m. Episodic Fiction–Room 108
5:30 p.m. Paranormal Explorations–Room 109

10:00 a.m. Beta Reading–Room 107

Here is the posted literary programming schedule in case you find something interesting I’m not a part of (unlikely as that seems.)


When I’m not here, I’ll be at the Seventh Star author’s table hanging out with my TCQ peeps, plus other Seventh Star authors, such as D. A. Adams, Steven Shrewsbury, Selah Janel, and I imagine Ali Justice and Stephen Zimmer will be coming by, too. Okay, I might sneak away to get some food, check out the other awesome authors and publishers, and photo-bomb Stan Lee so it looks like he’s holding a copy of Haunting Obsession (if possible).

Bottom line, it’s going to be a great weekend! Don’t miss it!

Seventh Star Press Authors of Indianapolis to hold signing at Bookmama’s

John F. Allen, Eric Garrison, R.J. Sullivan and Michael West are selling and signing at Bookmama’s in Irvington, Indiana, 9 Johnson Avenue (click that link for location and other details) this Saturday, July 13, from 2-3 p.m. The authors are all affiliated with Seventh Star Press and the Indiana Horror Writers.

Three authors are offering brand-new releases exclusive to this event first! When I say brand-new, I mean you can’t even purchase these books though normal retail or internet outlets for a few more days. I mean the first print run in still the mail to the authors and will get here just in time. Bookmama’s will be the very first place in the galaxy you can buy these books!!

Let’s break down the new stuff.

the-god-killers-cover SSPNew voice John F. Allen will be offering the first book of the Ivory Blaque trilogy through Seventh Star, The God Killers, here BEFORE HIS OFFICIAL BOOK LAUNCH NEXT WEEK, featuring cover and interior art by Enggar Adirasa!


four til late SSPEric Garrison will release Four ’til Late, the first book of his Ghost Roads Trilogy, with new cover and interior art by Bonnie Wasson!



Wide-Game_7star_finalMichael West is bringing the highly anticipated re-issue of The Wide Game, with new cover and interior art by Matthew Perry!

There will be author readings. And snacks. And temporary tattoos. A good time is guaranteed. Hope to see you there.

A complete listing of books available:

The God Killers by John F. Allen; Blue Spirit*, Four ’til Late, and Reality Check** by Eric Garrison; Haunting Blue*** (Limited copies!) and Haunting Obsession by R.J. Sullivan; Cinema of Shadows, Poseidon’s Children, Spook House, The Wide Game, and Vampires Don’t Sparkle! (Limited copies!) by Michael West.

Books are $15 per title except Haunting Blue, $20.00. All titles are Seventh Star Press releases unless otherwise indicated.

* Homebrew Net
** Hydra Publications
*** Damnation Books

Inconjunction Weekend Recap

InconLogo-Small-256Let’s get the downers out of the way first. Sales at Inconjunction could have been better. Crowds at Inconjunction could have been much better. I don’t blame the convention staffers for this. It simply reflects what we already know–that rumors of the recovering economy are highly exaggerated.

Few genre fans are able to spend a lot of money on a weekend devoted to fantasy and science fiction. And of those that do, after other expenses have to pick and choose who gets their money that weekend and whose bookmark or website they grab up to check out later. And that’s okay. Fortunately, there’s more than one way to measure a convention’s success.

Genre fiction is about community. Conversation. Exchanging ideas with others of a similar mindset. What I have found most disconcerting entering into all this as a “vendor” is how my relationship with many convention-goers has shifted from “hey I’m a fan, you’re a fan. Let’s talk.” to “Hi, you want to buy something, I want to sell you a book I wrote. Let’s talk.”  It’s not a comfortable change for me, but there it is.

Fortunately, I am also a panelist, and this weekend found great satisfaction during my panel interactions. Here again, the relationship is different from what I am used to. I am on this side of the table because I know something that I can share. Those who attend want to know something, and supposedly, I am an “expert” who can help pass along something that they will find of use. The conversation is much closer to the old standard, though it shifts a bit to “Hi, you want to write science fiction. I have successfully written science fiction. Let’s talk.” And I find I’m getting fairly comfortable with that.

My first panel of the weekend was Mentorship in Writing, shared with my TCQ Seventh Star peeps Eric Garrison and John F. Allen, plus the editor-in-chief of Loconeal Publishing, James O. Barnes. We discussed the ways in which writers can find other writers who are best equipped to take them to that next step up. We also explored the pros and cons of critique groups, internet resources, and how publishers often pool their author’s resources to help each other. John Allen said some nice things about me, which I appreciated.

Panel two was The Basics of Book Reviewing. Like panel one, this was also well-attended, included E. Susan Baugh and had the distinction of being local author Crystal Leflar‘s first ever panel. She did a great job, and after all my assurances beforehand about how not to worry, I was the one that ended up blanking in front of the audience.

Panel three was Friday night at 11 pm, a discussion on Horror, and the only poorly attended panel, most likely on account of it being Friday night at 11 pm. That said, the few who braved it joined in the discussion with much enthusiasm, and the conversation was helmed by the knowledgeable writer of much scariness, Nicole Cushing. Plus Crystal, and local genre author Matthew Barron. But horror fans are enthusiastic fans, and what the audience lacked in numbers they more than made up for in challenging questions. We let the panel run several minutes over. After all, there were no midnight panels waiting to start.

The next morning, I was asked to join an “orphaned” panel, called such because many of the scheduled panelists had not shown up. The topic was writer’s block, and joining Nicole Cushing (the lone original panelist who could show up) were John Allen, Eric Garrison and Crystal Leflar.

Panel five was on publishing in all its shades, from self-publishing to having a big publisher contract, the pros and cons of each variation. Our panel of James O. Barnes, Matthew Barron, Nicole Cushing and Sara Jo Easton was up to exploring each option with some detail.

Each panel proved rewarding and challenging, and I met many new and interesting people on both sides of the table.

Other convention highlights included a chance to sit down one on one with Nicole Cushing over late night cups of coffee and talk shop on a variety of writerly subjects. I suspect I got more good advice out of it than she did, and I appreciate her taking the time to listen and coach me.

I had a great dinner with Kathy Watness and James O. Barnes. I was able to share a favorite local Chinese restaurant with them (I grew up in the area) and enjoy some wonderful conversation.

In spite of some noise challenges during the Candlelight author reading Saturday night, my story from Vampires Don’t Sparkle, “Robot Vampire” seemed very well received by the audience. I enjoyed hearing entries from the other readers, Matthew Barron and James S. Dorr. (I knew Eric Garrison’s stories, and he read ’em well.)

I got a birthday hug from Tammy Jo Eckart and purchased Ingenue from local movie director Kate Chaplin. We were booth neighbors two conventions back and it’s great that since then, she has since produced her first feature length film.

DSCN1371I shared a table with and spent a lot of time with Seventh Star Press author and TCQ peeps Eric Garrison and John Allen. Eric gifted me with the Five Year Mission CDs for my birthday, so I am getting initiated into that awesomeness.

Success is how you define it, and while I might not be able to prove to my accountant that Inconjunction was a profitable weekend (and I have no doubt that will change in future years), Inconjunction delivered in the ways it always does–a time and place for local fans and professionals to come together and celebrate with each other what they love most about genre fiction, making it well worth the time and effort.

Time…..for Sammy….Terry!!

sammyToday, Indiana horror fans from my generation, give and take a few years, received the sad news that Hoosier TV pioneer Bob Carter has died. If you lived outside of Indiana, you’re probably saying “who?” Even if you lived here, the name may not immediately click. But if I tell you Bob Carter was the real-life identity of Sammy Terry, recognition and fond memories are bound to set in for so many who watched Hoosier television from 1962 to 1989.

Since the news hit, dozens of tributes and memories have flashed across my Facebook page. At the same time, it saddens me to see the “official” local media gloss over or minimize what Bob Carter brought to Indianapolis television for almost 30 years.

early sammySammy Terry was the brainstorm of Carter when he joined the programming staff of local TV station WTTV Channel 4. TV itself was still fairly new, local TV with an identity even more so. Though there were sporadic gaps during his run, the show remained a local staple until 1989, when Bob’s Sammy wished us all ” many… pleasant… nightmares!” for the last time. I saw him for the first time as a single-digit-aged boy of the early 70s, and through the  years he introduced me to the Universal horror movies, to Hammer films, to Vincent Price, to the first two Blob movies, and to Godzilla (and his less intimidating counterpart Gamera) and much, much more.

But more than that, he was a part of a time when TV stations were truly local and community-driven. WTTV had a stable of such hosts. As a kid, I started the day with “Cowboy Bob” hosting cartoons, “Janie” hosting more cartoons, and “Popeye and Peggy” hosting….you guessed it, still more cartoons. We also had Jim Gerard, a TV talk show who focused exclusively on things Indianapolis. Throughout my childhood and into my college years, Sammy Terry came on Friday and/or Saturday nights, and I missed very few of them.

Depending on where you lived, each major metropolitan area had its own late night horror host. Every city had its own “local” celebrities, embracing the best parts of both words, local and celebrity, each with fans in the hundreds of thousands. You could see Cowboy Bob at a popular restaurant, Janie at the local schools. Mrs. RJ’s girl scout troop took a tour of Peggy’s studio.

sammy 2While I am prone to exaggerate to prove a point, I was truly a huge fan of Sammy Terry. I think back to my poor sixth grade teacher who had to read through my three-part multiple-page “epic” creative writing assignment “Sammy Terry Versus Dracula” (Sammy won) and hope it brought a smile to her face as much as this fact makes me blush today. I have two signed photos of Sammy–an official publicity shot and a piece of fan “art” I drew myself. I presented both at the Paramount Music Palace restaurant (another Indiana treasure now gone) to which he quipped “Oh, what a HOR-rible picture!” Which was, of course, a compliment.

But removing my personal memories, Bob Carter was part of an era difficult to explain to those too young to have lived it. Like so much connected to horror, the local horror host was part of a grass roots effort, this one by TV stations to re-introduce classic horror films to a new generation, (that TV hopped on this trend on the heels of the success of Forrest Ackerman’s magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland is, I’m certain, no coincidence).

Then with the dominance of cable, movies and cartoons went “national”, and TV programmers sought alternative programming, giving rise to the info-mercial. The result of this speaks for itself. Quickly, and before most people realized it, true local community television died, and for reasons baffling to me, cable stations have failed to try to make the TV host a national phenomenon. (What few attempts I have seen are sad short-lived shadows, but that’s another discussion.)

One of the many reasons why the original mid-80s Fright Night will forever rock is its homage to this era (an homage mostly lost on later generation viewers who think a random Chris Angel riff works just fine) in the character of Peter Vincent, played by the marvelously underrated Roddy McDowell. Peter is a fictional local horror host who speaks for all local horror hosts of the time to comment on TV’s then-changing attitudes toward their status. Peter Vincent is horror films’ acknowledgment of the debt it owes to all such local horror hosts (and as far as I know, remains the only such tribute).

But in Indiana at least, there’s a sort-of happy ending to this melancholy tale. About three years ago, Sammy Terry-mania returned in a big way. Bob Carter, who’d retired from personal appearances in the early 2000s, gave his blessing to his son to take up the Sammy Terry persona. To some people’s surprise (though not mine) the buzz from the local community has been fairly strong, and last year, Sammy Terry returned to local television, with Mark Carter donning the makeup, clothes, and shtick.

Today, five new TV specials and tens of thousands of fans spanning multiple generations later, the hand-off is complete. Mark will never replace his father, but he just might take Sammy Terry into the 21st century, and make the old ghoul relevant again. And that, as I like to say, would make me unreasonably happy.

Rest in peace, Bob Carter. Your legacy as a Hoosier television pioneer is secured, and you will be remembered fondly for generations to come.

See Sammy Terry pay homage to “his creator” on the Sammy Terry website here.

R.J. Sullivan at InConJuncton 2013, July 5 and 6!

InconLogo-Small-256We’re now a week away from InConJunction, one of Indianapolis’ longest-running genre cons. Before there was GenCon, before there was Starbase Indy, Inconjunction was “the” local convention, and I was a fan attendee from way back. InConJunction was my first con. My local con. One of my earliest dates with Mrs. RJ. If the term existed, I would have said attending as an author was on my “bucket list.”

Now I’m preparing for my second appearance as an author. I’ll be sharing a table with local authors Eric Garrison and John F. Allen (It’s a Seventh Star Press theme, because we’re all on Seventh Star, but not all of us are just on Seventh Star…never mind), and we’re also sharing some panels. I’ll have copies of Haunting Obsession and Haunting Blue with me, and if you ask really nice, I might give you some hints about my upcoming release Virtual Blue (If you buy me food, I guarantee it).

While I’m sure precious few of you are attending just to follow me around…well, hey, I can dream, can’t I?

My panels:

Friday, July 5.

5 PM, Indianapolis Ballroom C  Mentorship in Writing (1 hour) with James O. Barnes, Addie King, Eric Garrison, and John F. Allen.

6 PM, Indianapolis Ballroom C The Basics of Book Reviewing (1 hour) with James O. Barnes, Crysa Leflar, and Susan Baugh.

11 PM Indianapolis Ballroom D (D as in, If You Dare!!!) (1  hour) Writer’s Roundtable: Horror (1 hour) with Matthew Barron, Nicole Cushing, and Crysa Leflar.

Saturday, July 6. Wish me happy birthday and get a collectible trading card!

5 PM Indianapolis Ballroom C. On the Write Track: Publishing (1 hour) with James O. Barnes, Matthew Barron, Nicole Cushing, and Sara Miller.

10 PM Saturday Grand Ballroom 7-8 Candlelight Horror (readings) (90 minutes) with Matthew Barron, James S. Dorr, and Eric Garrison.

Here’s the InConJunction home page for a complete listing of the weekend fun!

Hope to see you there!!

Vampires Don’t Sparkle Cover Reveal!

Here’s the official cover reveal and pre-order of Vampires Don’t Sparkle! An anthology releasing in mid-March edited by Michael West and including my story Robot Vampire. I’m proud of this one of for many reasons. First, I enjoyed the challenge of taking the title “Robot Vampire” and making something out of it. Secondly, it’s an honor to be placed among such a distinctive list of established horror writers. Last, but certainly not least, the anthology is a fundraiser for cancer research, and I’m honored to be a part of it. Here’s the full press release.

Haunting Writing Exercise

Haunting Obsession Lo RezHere, re-posted for your consideration, is a writing exercise I composed this morning in one of my writer’s groups. A bit of metafiction whimsey and proof that while Haunting Obsession has been out for several months, Maxine isn’t done haunting me yet. (Yes, at the  mentioned moment, two men stood just outside our open conference room door and proceeded to have a conversation.)

I stared at the laptop screen; the blank white surface stared back, screaming intimidation.

I glanced at the clock, mulling over the exercise, thinking, Wow, Steve, that’s a bit of a tall order. An evocative scene, using all five senses, simple words, and you want us to read it at the end of the hour? Really?

582152_10151060950622591_1149631412_nBehind me, I felt her lean against my shoulders, her breathy whisper in my ear sending a responsive shiver down my spine. “So, what’cha doing R.J.?”

I turned and looked behind me. There was Maxine Marie, the glamorous Hollywood ghost, the late great shapely gorgeous blonde, grinning for me and only me.

Still, I didn’t appreciate the timing. “Maxine, what are you doing here…now?”

Her bottom lip protruded, and she looked down at her feet. “Oh, look at Mister Serious Author, turning all grumpy-puss. As if I have any control over when I enter your mind.”

Art by Nell Williams.
Art by Nell Williams.

She turned and sat on the table, seated on her shapely bottom between myself and the new woman. Her body phased right through the chair, as ghosts tend to do.

It was fine, I could still see through her to the end of the room. A hint of vanilla lavender perfume drifted toward me. (Vanilla lavender? Sure, why not.)

“So,” said Maxine into the air, her nails tap-tap-tapping a quick rhythm on the tabletop. “You’re supposed to write to the five senses. What can we write about?”

I glared down, her nails, still ticking out their rapid tempo, the rhythm rapidly ratcheting on my last nerve. “Would you stop doing that please?”

She looked down, flashed an abashed grin, and folded her hands in her lap. “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

2012, with RJ and "Maxine Marie" from Haunting Obsession.
2012, with RJ and “Maxine Marie” from Haunting Obsession.

“So how many have we covered?” she asked. I started looking over my draft. “Not sure. I wish those two guys out in the hallway would stop talking so we would concentrate on the assignment.”

Maxine nodded. “No kidding. Hey!” She offered a mischievous grin. “Want me to go out and scare them?”

I considered. I knew I should be filled with alarm, the very idea jolting my body so I could describe all sorts of abnormal sensations for this writing exercise, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

Truthfully, the thought of her walking through the wall, appearing between them while donning thick black glasses, hissing a librarian-like “shhhhh……” and then vanishing into thin air gave me the giggles.

Art by Bonnie Wasson.
Art by Bonnie Wasson.

But…I shook my head. “No, better not.”

“Oh, poo. You’re no fun.”

I reached for my blue travel coffee mug and took a sip, the tepid liquid, two hours past its prime, left a bitter aftertaste.

Maxine nodded. “Nicely done, sneaking in the sense of taste.”

I smiled at the compliment. “Thanks!”

I drummed my fingers lightly across the black keys in a repetitive motion, trying to think where else to take this scene.

“Hey, Mister,” she chastised. “Now who’s being annoying?”

I stopped. “Sorry.”

Maxine’s gaze lifted, settling on the clock, which showed quarter ’til.

Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.
Lily Monstermeat as Maxine Marie.

“Think you have enough?”

“Sure. Thanks, Maxine.”

“Don’t mention it. Talk to you soon, RJ.” And she vanished.

Learn more about Maxine Marie and Haunting Obsession at this link.


Strange, Weird, Wonderful…and Too Brief!

The anthology A Big Book of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Volume 2 was released December 1. What follows is the introduction, composed by me,  that opens the volume.

BB2SiteSmallCoverIn 2009, an Indiana Networking site announced a new publication called Strange, Weird, and Wonderful Magazine was open for submissions.  So one by one I sent in what I thought were some of my strongest selections and all were immediately rejected, so I composed something new.

“Able Bodied” appeared in the Winter 2010 issue, and Vol. I of this annual.  Newly motivated, I continued to shop my stories around and quickly realized SWW offered unique opportunities.

Let’s talk word count: A “limit” of 15,000 just isn’t done. Most editors preach the shorter, the better, but D.L. emphasized great stories dictate their own length, not the needs of the editor.  And as trends shift towards more electronic reading, print costs, the primary reason for the demand for shorter stories, no longer mattered.  But writers couldn’t practice excess simply because they had the room to do so. D.L. and Sharon also believe in discipline, and the importance of every word’s impact.

Soon after, I released my first novel, and D. L. asked if I was interested in contributing a story as the featured author. I said “yes” and submitted “Inner Strength,” the story in this volume.

Though this marked the first appearance of “Becky”, it was by no means her last. Readers can follow her adventures as Paranormal Investigator “Rebecca Burton” in the short story Backstage Pass and the novella Haunting Obsession, my latest releases through Seventh Star Press. Her story will continue, but she appeared in SWW first, and that makes me unreasonably happy.

SWW offered the perfect starting point for me and other writers serious about our craft. And I’m grateful it was there for me. I also know D.L. and Sharon have great plans for the brand: original anthologies and expanding into novels, where they’ll continue to offer a fantastic platform for talent. And so while this “Best of” volume marks the end of an era, I look forward to seeing the Strange, Weird and Wonderful tales of the future.

–R. J. Sullivan

Order your copy from Amazon or the pulbisher’s site!

I’m the Next Big Thing? Who Knew?

the-next-big-thingWelcome to my posting for The Next Big Thing, the traveling blog that asks authors who they consider the Next Big Thing, then has them pass along the questions for those authors to answer in their blogs.

I’m honored to have been picked last week by Michael West as his choice for the Next Big Thing.

And now without any further ado, here are my answers to the questions.

1. What is the title of your next book/work?

My next novel is Virtual Blue. I have a short story coming out in January in Vampires Don’t Sparkle, an anthology edited by Michael West and to be released by Seventh Star Press, but VB is my next major project.

2. Where did the idea come from for the book/work?

Haunting Blue Low Rez coverWhen I finished drafting Haunting Blue, my first novel, I had no inspiration that warranted going on with the story. Then a peer challenged me to brainstorm a sequel. An idea came to me that I fell in love with, and now I can’t wait to share it.

3. What genre does your book/work fall under?

Part science fiction, part paranormal thriller. Think of the good guys battling demons in cyberspace.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ve never considered who might play Blue, and no one is coming to mind, but computer nerd “Chip” Farren looks very much like an actor from “Days of our Lives” named Blake Berris, who started playing…well, a computer nerd…on the program in 2009. Since I would never openly admit to watching a soap opera, you will have to assume that someone must have pointed this out to me….. Ahem.


5 What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I don’t have an official one yet, so we’ll go with this bad cliché for now: She fled from her past, but it caught up with her.

6 Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will come out in the summer of 2013 by small press publisher Seventh Star Press.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

18 months and counting–my deadline is in February.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I can’t think of any books that have done this, exactly, but if we’re talking movies, it’s part Tron, part Dreamscape, part Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors–that gives you a good idea of the vibe.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?  

I didn’t want to write a sequel to the story of Blue and Chip unless I could bring something interesting to the next chapter. In Haunting Blue, the story takes place on the streets, in a brawl, in “Blue’s” punk girl world. I wanted to tell a cyber thriller story in which Chip is in his element and  Blue is the one who can’t figure out the rules. From that spark, the rest fell into place.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader¹s interest?

376743_10151060948417591_639062236_nBlue is assisted by a certain paranormal investigator from my novella Haunting Obsession.

Learn more about R.J. Sullivan at www.rjsullivanfiction.com .

And now to introduce you to my picks for the Next Big Thing(s):

Editor Prime and sci-fi/fantasy/romance author Debra Holland.

Dr. Holland holds a master’s degree in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy, and holds a PhD in Counseling Psychology from the University of Southern California, and is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has twenty-one years of experience counseling with individuals, couples, and groups. Dr. Holland is a popular psychotherapist, consultant, and speaker on the topics of communication difficulties, relationships, stress, and dealing with difficult people. She is a featured expert for the media, and does entertainment consulting.

Paranormal/sci-fi/Urban fantasy author Eric Garrison .

Eric Garrison is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. He lives in the Circle City with his wife, step-daughter and four cats. He also enjoys gaming and homebrewing beer. Eric released four urban fantasy novels.  These include the Road Ghosts trilogy (Four ’til Late, Sinking Down, and Me and the Devil), as well as his most recent novel, Blue Spirit. His novels are dark supernatural fantasies, dealing with ghosts, demonic possession and (in Blue Spirit) even sinister fairy folk.  These novels are all available in paperback, PDF and Kindle format. Eric’s short story, “Drag Show” appeared in the Fall 2011 edition of Strange, Weird and Wonderful Magazine.  His flash piece, “Dark Reflection”, appeared in the Indiana Horror 2011 anthology.

Superhero fiction author Matt Adams .

Matt is a former TV news producer whose stories have appeared in Wily Writers Podcast and anthologies from Library of the Living Dead Press and Timid Pirate Publishing. He lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana, with his wife and (possibly) man-eating frog. Once, long ago, he planned to patrol the streets as Batman, but ultimately decided writing was safer and more cost-effective. He was only half right. His first novel, I, Crimsonstreak, is now out from Candlemark & Gleam!

Vampire lit. author Roberta Hoffer .

Marilyn 3/3

Marilyn Movies: The Good, the Bad, and the Meh, the last of three parts.

Finishing up with the rest of the almost-good and the almost-bad, also known as the “Meh.”

Start at part 1

Go back to part 2

How to Marry a Millionaire

Popular Consensus: Marilyn shows off her comedic chops in this madcap comedy about three women trying to get their hooks into various rich guys.

How I see it: Whatever. And when I say “whatever” to a film co-starring Lauren Bacall, you know something’s wrong. This movie almost fell under “bad” but I’m in a good mood today. Maybe it was edgy at one time, but it’s eye-rolling today. How to you make a knockout blonde like Marilyn look “nerdy” and intelligent? Put a pair of large goofy glasses on her face, of course. Ho. Ho. Ho. Look at the image to the left. Is that hysterical to you? Right. That’s my point. Add to that, some near-sighted jokes that make Mr.MaGoo look sophisticated, and it all adds up to a movie you can take or leave, and you’re probably better off leaving.

“Known for” Marilyn Moments: None that I’m aware of.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

Jane Russell and Marilyn as two odd couple show girl best friends who keep getting into silly trouble.

Popular Consensus: A sex-comedy musical with Marilyn at her best.

How I see it: Okay, this one *almost* ended up in the good column. To be fair, there’s much to like here. The comedy is snappy, Jane Russell is also quite easy on the eyes, and there are at least two landmark musical numbers. The great moments are draped around a plot that barely exists, making the movie as a whole pretty generic, and as a result, one that doesn’t get a lot of replay in my collection. But that’s just me, you may feel otherwise. Even as I get ready to post this, I wonder if I’m judging too harshly. You decide and send me a nasty-gram. I may even admit I deserve it.

“Known For” Marilyn Moments: The hot-pink dress dance number to “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” Madonna paid homage to in “Material Girl”. (Also note the human chandelier in the number that would make Lady Gaga jealous).


Popular Consensus: Marilyn delivers a riveting performance as a femme fatale.

How I see it: Here’s another one that almost ended up in the “good” category. This film doesn’t work for me, and I think it’s because the plot is a 1940s film noir. You have Joseph Cotton (!) as the troubled husband, Marilyn as the no-good wife plotting to do him wrong, the Naïve Young Couple as innocent as driven snow, the “other man” waiting in the wings to do in the husband. There are no characters here, only archetypes. Once you know the types, the movie proceeds exactly as you expect, including the “plot twist” you see coming a mile away.

Add to that, film noir should be that–dark. Black and white, lots of shadows. We need Humphrey Bogart in here somewhere. Instead, this plays in lavish Technicolor. It’s a disconnect.

But that’s just me. Again, there’s a lot to like here, just not enough for me to recommend it.

“Known for” Marilyn Moments: Posing under the covers with the shadow of vertical blinds across her face. She gives great strut in one party scene–seriously, the movie is “known” for these things.

The River of No Return

Cowboy and son and Marilyn on a raft escaping Indians.

Popular Consensus: A troubled production and missed opportunities resulted in an overall disappointment, then and now.

How I see it: I concur. The movie wants to be liked, and lays on the sweetness a bit thick. Rancher Robert Mitchum and his son end up taking Marilyn, playing yet-another showgirl, across the river to escape rampaging Indians after Marilyn’s no-good boyfriend causes trouble for everyone. Suffers from too many western clichés. One particular eye-roller is when Marilyn breaks out into song in the middle of the woods with a hidden band accompanying her. The blue screen rafting scenes that make up the last 20 minutes of the film do not hold up. It all plays out predictably and overall underwhelmingly.

“Known for” Marilyn Moments: None that I am aware of.

Don’t Bother to Knock

Marilyn turns psycho-babysitter in a low budget black and white thriller. Seriously.

Popular Consensus: For the most part, overlooked.

How I see it: A black and white thriller early in Marilyn’s career in which she plays a babysitter hired to watch a young girl in a swank hotel room while the parents attend a party downstairs. It’s clear early on that Marilyn’s character has mental problems and suffers from some post traumatic stress, and that the night may lead to some Very Bad Things. Though the credits say otherwise, this movie plays very “B picture”, and that’s not a bad thing, given the mood.

It’s a surprising film, and another movie I almost moved to the “good” category. I give Marilyn credit for tackling this role, and even more surprising since she landed it fairly early in her career. She has some chilling moments, but putting my fanboy perspective aside, the role gets away from her. She just doesn’t have the acting chops to hold this one together, though as a curiosity piece, I find myself watching it fairly often.

Worth noting:

Marilyn has tiny parts in the film classics All About Eve and The Asphalt Jungle. Both are great films for reasons that have almost nothing to do with Marilyn.

On the other hand, she also has a tiny part in Clash by Night, a fairly wretched film noir wanna-be with some of the most painful dialog ever delivered by any actress (in this case, Barbara Stanwyck). (And directed by Metropolis fame Fritz Lang! WTH?) The best that can be said here is it’s not Marilyn’s fault.

So there you have it., Feel free to comment and tell me if my ratings were good, bad, or meh.