I spent the day down in Cross Plains, where this year’s Robert E. Howard birthday celebration was held. Half a dozen Howard fans and several of the local stalwarts from Project Pride got together to have birthday cake and ice cream at the Howard House, then adjourned to the Cross Plains Public Library to watch “Pigeons From Hell”, the adaptation of Howard’s classic story from the THRILLER TV series, hosted by Boris Karloff. I’d seen this before, but it’s well worth watching again. This has to be one of the creepiest hours of television you’ll ever see and has some excellent black-and-white photography in it. If you’re a Howard fan and have never seen it, you definitely should hunt up a copy.
Following “Pigeons From Hell”, we watched the recent film version of SOLOMON KANE. I’d heard that other than the name, this movie doesn’t have a lot to do with Howard’s character, and that’s true. It suffers from the dreaded Origin Story Syndrome, which means that almost nothing in it is based on anything Howard actually wrote. However, if you can get past that, it’s a surprisingly decent historical fantasy adventure movie. It looks good, the special effects are okay for the most part (one monster who shows up late in the movie is more silly-looking than scary, in my opinion), and the action scenes are staged and edited so that they’re not incomprehensible. (Odd how competent storytelling has gotten to be something that’s remarked upon in action movies, rather than expected.) If you don’t watch it expecting anything too Howardian, SOLOMON KANE is pretty entertaining.
As always, though, the best part of any gathering like this is getting to sit and talk to people you haven’t seen in a while. It’s been two-and-a-half years since I’ve been to Cross Plains, and it was good to get back there, talk to old friends, and make some new ones. Right now I’m planning to go back for Howard Days this summer, and I’m looking forward to it.