Monday, June 29, 2020

Review: Zombie For Sale

Such fun! Zombie For Sale is a 2019 horror comedy from South Korea directed and written by Lee Min-Jae which encompasses all that is crazy about this genre.

Jjong-Bi (Jung Ga-Ram) escapes from an underground experimentation lab and is basically a zombie, shambling about and chasing people (slowly). He encounters the daughter, Min-Gul (Nam-gil Kim), of the Park family who run a garage and make their living overcharging for repairs to cars which hit spikes on a road which they have placed there.

They lock the zombie in one of their sheds, and he's happy eating cabbages with tomato sauce on. But then the father, Man-Deok (Park In-Hwan), gets bitten, but as a result his hair regrows and he gets younger! Thus all the old folk in the town want to get bitten, and do, and they too regain their youth.

However, of course there's a price, and soon they all resort to zombieism and there's a full scale zombie apocalypse happening. Min-Gul and Jjong-Bi are having a sort of relationship though and he's trying to protect her from the ravening hoards ...

Then Jjong-Bi gets bitten himself by the zombies, and turns fully human again - thus is the solution found. Man-Deok, the original one who was bitten, never turned into a zombie - he went on holiday to Hawaii - but returns and has to bite all the zombies to turn them back human again.

It is a crazy film, but it all works and pulls you along with it. The action is fast and furious, and you tend to forget that it's subtitled. As Zombie entries go, I really enjoyed it. The make-up and effects are nicely done, and there's even a cute homage/mention of Train to Busan in there too ...

Recommended to all connoisseurs of brain-munching horror.

  • High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed Stereo and 5.1 DTS-HD MA options
  • Newly-translated English subtitles
  • Brand new audio commentary with filmmakers and critics Sam Ashurst and Dan Martin
  • Q&A with director Lee Min-jae from a 2019 screening at Asian Pop-Up Cinema in Chicago, moderated by film critic and author Darcy Paquet
  • Eat Together, Kill Together: The Family-in-Peril Comedy - brand new video essay by critic and producer Pierce Conran exploring Korea's unique social satires
  • Making-Of Featurette
  • Behind-the-Scenes footage
  • Original Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Mike Lee-Graham
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Josh Hurtado

Review: The Game

The Game is a 1997 film directed by David Fincher, and made after his major success, Se7en. It's a shame in a way that directors get 'type cast' in the sense that through most of The Game you're waiting for some big revelation or shock moment to occur, as in Se7en  with the man who died of starvation or the 'what's in the box' question, but it never really happens. M Night Shyamalan suffers from the same problem, that following The Sixth Sense everyone expected all his films to have the same 'shock surprise' ending.

But on to The Game. It stars Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton, a wealthy investment banker-type, who is given by his brother Conrad (Sean Penn) a voucher for an experience called 'The Game' - basically a company which will constantly surprise you and make your life 'interesting'.  So as he is basically bored with pretty much everything, he visits their offices, fills in all the paperwork, and waits ...

Then things start to happen. A waitress (Deborah Kara Unger) spills drink all over him in a restaurant and he gets a message to not let her go, so he follows her. They are then followed by gunmen and a chase ensues ... and so on ...

The film then progresses on this basis, with Nicholas being involved in all manner of escapades, resulting in him trying to find the company again to get them to stop - but they have vanished. He also realises that the man he saw was an actor and so he tries to track them down. The film ends in a climactic rooftop battle and ... but I don't want to spoil it ...

The problem with the film is that it contains way too many coincidences (or plot holes). Things 'set up' by the company for Nicholas to stumble over are such that all it needed was him to make one different decision about something - which direction to go in etc - and none of it would work - the ending is perhaps most at fault for this ...

Overall the film seems somewhat slow and leaden by today's standards. Douglas seems to phone in his performance for some of it, but overall, and given that he is - I think - literally in every scene - does pretty well. He manages to display the slow burn from ennui to broken insanity with effective believability, and indeed, it's as much a showcase for his talent as it is for Fincher.

Overall this is an interesting film, and probably well overdue a reissue from Arrow, which comes with the customary slew of extras.

  • Limited to only 3,000 units
  • Deluxe packaging including a 200-page hardback book housed in a rigid slipcase, illustrated with newly commissioned artwork by Corey Brickley
  • 200-page book exclusive to this edition includes a newly-commissioned full-length monograph by Bilge Ebiri, and selected archive materials, including an American Cinematographer article from 1997, a 2004 interview with Harris Savides by Alexander Ballinger, and the chapter on the film from Dark Eye: The Films of David Fincher by James Swallow
  • Arrow Academy Blu-ray including new bonus features and UK home video premiere of director-approved 2K restoration
  • Universal Special Edition DVD featuring archive extras with cast and crew
  • 2K restoration from the original negative by The Criterion Collection supervised and approved by director David Fincher and cinematographer Harris Savides
  • High Definition Blu-ray™ (1080p) presentation
  • Original 5.1 & 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio
  • Isolated Music & Effects track
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
  • New audio commentary by critic and programmer Nick Pinkerton
  • Fool's Week: Developing The Game, a newly filmed interview with co-writer John Brancato
  • Men On The Chessboard: The Hidden Pleasures of The Game, a new visual essay by critic Neil Young
  • Archive promotional interview with star Michael Douglas from 1997
  • Alternatively-framed 4:3 version prepared for home video (SD only), with new introduction discussing Fincher’s use of the Super 35 shooting format
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Teaser trailer
  • Image gallery
  • Standard definition DVD (PAL) presentation
  • 5.1 Dolby Digital audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with director David Fincher, actor Michael Douglas, screenwriters John Brancato and Michael Ferris, director of photography Harris Savides, production designer Jeffrey Beecroft and visual effects supervisor Kevin Haug
  • Behind The Scenes featurettes - Dog Chase, The Taxi, Christine’s House, The Fall (with optional commentary by Fincher, Douglas, Savides, Beecroft and Haug)
  • On Location featurettes – Exterior Parking Lot: Blue Screen Shot, Exterior Fioli Mansion: Father’s Death, Interior CRS Lobby and Offices, Interior Fioli Mansion: Vandalism, Exterior Mexican Cemetary (with optional commentary by Fincher, Savides, Beecroft and Haug)
  • Theatrical trailer (with optional commentary by Fincher)
  • Teaser trailer
  • Teaser trailer CGI test footage (with optional commentary by designer/animator Richard Baily)
  • Alternate ending
  • Production design and storyboard galleries

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Review: Dream Demon

Dream Demon is an odd film. It’s a little like watching a sequence of outtakes from a Nightmare on Elm Street film, but with any logic removed. The fact that the music sometimes echoes some of Nightmare’s score adds to this sense that you’re watching something from somewhere else.

The plot … if the film has a plot … is confused. It follows a young girl Diana (played by a young and very wooden Jemma Redgrave) who is in a troubled relationship. She seems to fall into a dream world every time she falls asleep or looks in a mirror and everything becomes twisted and strange. There’s some good action from Jimmy Nail as a reporter and Timothy Spaull as a twisted photographer (who becomes even more grotesque as the film progresses). Diana is helped by her friend Jenny (Kathleen Wilhoite) who she drags into her dreams with her.

That’s about all I got. It’s a bit like someone was a massive fan of Freddie Krueger and wanted to make a Nightmare on Elm Street film but couldn’t, and so did it anyway, shaving any direct references off in  the process. It’s a fun film in some respects and the effects are decent, but the story tries to go for the more thoughtful and highbrow and just ends up confusing.

Arrow video have a new blu-ray of this available, and as usual it comes with a host of extras, interviews and features … It’s a fairly respected slice of 80s British horror, so it’s good to see it available once more.

  • Brand new 2K restoration from the original camera negative, supervised and approved by director Harley Cokeliss
  • Director’s Cut and Original Theatrical Version
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • Original uncompressed stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new scene-select audio commentary with director Harley Cokeliss and producer Paul Webster
  • Newly-filmed interview with director Harley Cokeliss
  • Newly-filmed interview with producer Paul Webster
  • Newly-filmed interview with actress Jemma Redgrave
  • Newly-filmed interview with actor Mark Greenstreet
  • Newly-filmed interview with actor Nickolas Grace
  • Newly-filmed interview with actress Annabelle Lanyon
  • Newly-filmed interview with composer Bill Nelson
  • Foundations of Nightmare: The Making of Dream Demon - contemporary documentary taking a look behind the scenes of the production of Dream Demon, featuring on-set interviews with director Harley Cokeliss, producer Paul Webster, actors Timothy Spall, Jemma Redgrave, Kathleen Wilhoite, composer Bill Nelson and many more
  • Image Galleries
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly-commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy
FIRST PRESSING ONLY! - Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anne Billson, author of the Dream Demon novelisation, and director Harley Cokeliss - Reversible poster featuring exclusive newly-commissioned artwork by Christopher Shy

Review: Bloodtide

This is a 1982 film from director Richard Jefferies and written and produced by Nico Mastorakis. The cast seems quite impressive, with James Earl Jones and Jose Ferrer, but the plot and the realization of the monster lets the film down bigtime.

Sherry (Mary Louise Weller) and Neil Grice (Martin Kove) arrive on a Greek island ostensibly searching for treasure but Neil’s sister Madeline (Deborah Shelton) is there as well as a convent of Nuns, and a mystery where young virgins are sacrificed to some monster which lives under the water. It’s all very slow and confusing, though very nicely shot. As the film rumbles on, the girls all strip off for the obligatory topless scenes, and start to be killed by the very rubbery monster in the sea. The whole thing comes to a conclusion with the monster’s cave/lair being blown up, and then the monster is blown up.

I feel that Jefferies realized that his monster was poor and so keeps it well in the shadows, only revealing it in very brief shots … but even this brevity shows it as being simply awful! All in all, the film succeeds only in the gorgeous cinematography, and is one of those films which is just about bad enough to be good … but only just as it commits the worst sin of being boring.

The new Arrow Video release comes with a couple of extras: a new interview with the producer/writer and a commentary track, plus a couple of trailers. Probably only for committed fans of early eighties horror fare.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Review: Star Maidens

I'd never seen Star Maidens before ... odd probably ... but I recently nabbed a DVD set of all the episodes for a peruse.

It's a strange beast indeed. First of all, the title is something of a misnomer ... it was made in 1976, and I guess that women in power was a bit of a 'thing' then ... so the basic idea is that there's this planet called Medusa which is ruled by women. The men are kept as slaves and breeding stock ... and thus is life there. In fact, life seems to consist of wandering aimlessly around a sort of three-level complex as that's all we see.

The planet of Medusa is inexplicable blown out of orbit of it's sun and off into space, where it ends up close to Uranus (stop giggling at the back) from where it can send ships to and from Earth. The closest the two get is 1.6 billion miles (2.6 billion kilometers), and based on 'normal' speeds, the Voyager 2 spacecraft was launched on Aug 20, 1977 and it reached Uranus on Jan 24 1986. So, Voyager 2 took almost nine and a half years to reach Uranus. But we need to gloss over this for the sake of our sanity.

The basic plot of the series is that two Medusian men, Adam (Pierre Brice) and Shem (Gareth Thomas), steal a ship and escape to Earth where they hide out. Meanwhile two humans, Dr Rudi Schmidt (Christian Quadflieg) and his assistant Liz (Lisa Harrow) are taken to Medusa.  Henceforth the episodes flip between Earth-bound stories involving Adam and Shem, and Medusian-based ones involving the humans in the alien environment.

To be honest, the Medusian-based ones are much better. The Earthbound stories feel like very low budget affairs, perhaps poor relations to much better series like Ace of Wands and The Tomorrow People. But those on the alien planet have some thought and concept behind them, even if it all gets a little samey.

I was surprised to see Ian Stuart Black writing a large number of episodes (you may know him from his Doctor Who work on 'The Savages', 'The War Machines' or 'The Macra Terror'), and also Freddie Francis directing (the same guy who earlier directed films like Doctor Terror's House of Horrors and Dracula has Risen from the Grave!).

Despite this, the show struggles but never really rises above mediocre. There's none of the panache and sheer narrative and production excellence which made Doctor Who or Ace of Wands sing at the time. I wonder if it's because it's a German co-production, and that there was some behind the scenes conflict as to what sort of show the various companies wanted to make. Is this a comedy or serious SF, a kid's show, or something a little more intellectual ... the show veers between all of these with no real answer.

The cast should be great, with Gareth Thomas a couple of years away from his defining role as Blake in Blake's 7, Judy Geeson as Fulvia, Adam's Mistress, and bond girl Dawn Addams as Clara, the Medusian leader ... there's even a cameo from Alfie Bass (playing the caretaker of a Castle) of all people!  But there's also some German actors who seem less comfortable with the material ... and the overall impression is of something of a mess.

It's a shame as conceptually, the show echoes Space 1999, and has touches of Blake's 7 and The Tomorrow People ... The visual effects were done at Bray - home to the Anderson shows, and the quality of the miniature work is excellent as a result.

The stories are okay, but patchy, and even the final episode which introduces an enemy for the Medusians called simply 'the Enemy' - some creature whose face and head we never see, but who has three fingers Sontaran-like, and who seems to be controlled by some computer thing - fails to really resolve anything, and yet sets up for perhaps more stories and adventures to come ... but it was not to be!

As a science fiction curio from the seventies, it's worth checking Star Maidens out ... a fun series which is better than you expect it to be, without being truly outstanding.

And, astonishingly, and assuming they're not clever fakes, there seem to have been some Star Maidens action figures/dolls released!  Amazing!  I also noted some jigsaws and an Annual too ...

Friday, April 10, 2020

Review: Lost Girl

We've just finished a mammoth rewatch of the TV series Lost Girl ... and if you've never seen it, then you are missing something of a treat.

The show follows the fortunes of a succubus called Bo Dennis (Anna Silk). As we start, Bo doesn't really know who she is, and this is the basis for the entire run: her trying to find out. If you want to watch with no spoilers, then perhaps it's best not to read this piece right now ... as it's hard to talk about the show and its twists and turns without revealing some of the surprises along the way.

Bo befriends a human called Kenzie (Ksenia Solo), and Kenzie is the one you really fall in love with. Solo has a very naturalistic acting style, and you're left wondering how much of Kenzie's asides, face pulling and just attitude was scripted, and which came from the actress. She's the archetypal manic pixie dream girl - something common to many films and TV shows - but she works and is very watchable.

There's also a shape-shifter wolf called Dyson (Kris Holden-Ried) and if you're watching it thinking ... hold on, I've seen him as a werewolf in something else ... then you have as he played a similar part in Underworld: Awakening.

These unlikely characters come together in a neutral bar run by Trick (Rick Howland) and as the series progresses, we learn a lot more about Trick and who and what he is. I really liked him as a character, and Howland is simply superb in the role.

The background to the 'world' in which Lost Girl is set is that there are two 'clans' of Fey present on the Earth, Light and Dark. As might be expected, the Light Fey tend to be kind and nice and use their powers to help humanity, whereas the Dark Fay are nasty and evil and up to all sorts of scheming and nonsense ... The issue is that Bo is neither. She is Unaligned, as she never chose a 'side' and so is able to act apart from all the bickering and malice which both sides get up to when they get together.

The show develops as a series of stand-alone episodes for the most part, with each episode seeing Bo and Kenzie getting involved in some investigation, or helping a fey or a human with whatever issue arises. But there is also a background thread of Bo finding out more about herself.

Bo needs to feed on humans or other fey in order to heal herself, but usually she kills the humans she feeds off, so Fey is always better. She's also bisexual, so it makes no odds to her who she sleeps with and feeds off ... though she is also quite capable of loving and having sex with a partner and not feeding off them.

Into the picture as the series progresses comes, first, Lauren (Zoie Palmer), a human doctor who is, first, working for the leader of the Light Fey - colloquially called the Ash - but who then moves to work for the leader of the Dark - called the Morrigan. The battles between the Ash and the Morrigan form a lot of the series plot arcs, and the electing of new candidates to those roles also forms a significant part of the series.

Bo falls in love with Lauren, much to Dyson's chagrin, but then Dyson also gives up his love for Bo in exchange for the ability to defeat Aife at the end of Season 1, from a character called the Norn. Later on, Bo also falls for a Valkyrie called Tamsin (Rachel Skarsten) who becomes significant in later seasons.

Season two focuses on a battle against a Fey called the Garuda (Raoul Trujillo); season three explores a character called 'The Wanderer' and Bo's relationship with them. Season four sees Bo taken by the Wanderer, and a group of powerful fey called the Una-mens seeking to take ultimate power. Season five focuses on Bo's relationship with her father, Hades (Eric Roberts) leading to a somewhat climactic conclusion!

Overall the series is complex and very watchable, with some great performances and characters, neat ideas of different Fey and their powers, and a fair dose of attractive women and men for everyone to get a little hot under the collar about. The final season is a little disappointing compared with the earlier ones, as it seems to struggle to find stories to tell, and contains a fair few which wander off into more esoteric and whimsical territory. There's also a significant dip mid-way through when Kenzie leaves (although she comes back later, she loses the Goth look, and her personality and snarky quips with it, which is a great shame).

Friday, March 20, 2020

Doctor Who: The Faceless Ones - Animation 'Easter Eggs'

As I'm sitting at home in 'social isolation' due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the release of the new animation of the Doctor Who story 'The Faceless Ones' came at the right time!

But what a lot of little 'Easter Eggs' the animators have taken upon themselves to add to the completed imagery - none of which were in the original story!

I actually found these somewhat distracting from watching the production - which on the whole is a pretty good effort, even though the animation style and approach grates with me. I like the story and the last three episodes are excellent.

But anyway, here's a list of the things which I spotted, including a couple of deviations from the televised story ... In fact there's quite a lot of these as comparison with the two existing episodes proves - the original direction and camerawork is stylish and varied, whereas the animation (out of necessity I guess) tends to be more flat and basic. We lose Sam Brigg's outrageous hat for a start!

Samantha Briggs' crazy hat!

I also noticed that all the Policemen seem to be clones and look identical to each other. Another cost-saving measure for the animation I assume.

Anyway, here's all the added extras I spotted ... if anyone spots any more then let me know and I'll update the list!

Episode One

We see images of the Roger Delgado and the Sacha Dhawan Masters on the noticeboard as the Police leave the station.

There's also a poster for WATERFIELD ANTIQUES on the board (This references the next story EVIL OF THE DALEKS, wherein Edward Waterfield owns an antiques shop). I'm not sure why the police would have this on their information board mind you ...

There's also a large poster for a Variety Night but I can't see any DOCTOR WHO connection with that - it's vaguely TALONS OF WENG-CHIANG-y but obviously totally the wrong year!

The name LEATHERMAN is prominent on the lorry which removes the TARDIS from the runway. This was not in the original episode, and indeed is incorrect as LEATHERMAN is the name on the lorry which removes the TARDIS from Gatwick at the start of EVIL OF THE DALEKS ... *This* lorry is just moving it off the runway, so not the same lorry!

In the hangar where the chap is killed with the raygun we have cans of HICKMAN'S Anti-Freeze, Oil and Merlot(?) and in the office there's a file with HICKMAN'S ORDERS on it (presumably referencing ex-DWM editor and cover designer CLAYTON HICKMAN)

There's also McNally's tins of something on the shelves in the office (presumably named after one of the animators who I noticed had the same name on the credits)

There's a brand name on the side of the monitor used to track the aircraft: CONDON LTD (this references well known fan Paul Condon who died in 2019)

The name the postcard is to be delivered to is ALLAN WALSH (presumably referencing the fan of the same name)

There's an advert for INTERNATIONAL ELECTROMATICS seen (referencing the story THE INVASION)

Episode Two

On the newspaper that Jamie and the Doctor are reading, there's an advert for BARNEY'S ELECTRICALS and their ROUGH AND TUMBLE machine (this references the scene the animators cut from the animation of THE MACRA TERROR of just the same device)

Also on the Newspaper we have MARINUS PADLOCKS (referencing the story THE KEYS OF MARINUS - I see what they did there)

There's also an advert for OLD SMUGGLERS WHISKY (slightly obscure but this could be referencing the story THE SMUGGLERS? Not sure where the Whisky comes in though - the available evidence suggests that the Smugglers were smuggling Rum, though there's nothing in the dialogue to suggest what the drink is!)

The newspaper they read at the airport is the Mill Hill Times, where Troughton used to live and where there's a theatre named after him...

The RADIO TIMES edition on sale in the shop behind the Doctor and Jamie is actually the one for just before when this story was transmitted, not the one for when it is set! Here's some covers:

Issue 2264, 30 March 1967
This cover is the one seen in the animation and is from 30 March 1967, the week before Episode One of 'The Faceless Ones' was transmitted (8/4/67)

Image result for radio times cover grand national 1967
Radio Times cover for the first week of 'The Faceless Ones' TX

Radio Times for July 23-29 - most likely the edition on sale on July 20 1966 when 'The Faceless Ones' is set.

Radio Times for 16-22 July. 'The Faceless Ones' takes place on July 20 so this edition would be the one on sale the previous week.

'WAR MACHINES DEFEATED' is the headline on the newspaper on the Commandant's desk - interesting ... At the end of the story, Ben states that it's July 20 - the day it all started ... here's what Jon Preddle determined in his amazing work of Doctor Who Chronology, TIMELINK: 'In order to reconcile The Faceless Ones' dates with the dates in The War Machines, it is necessary to're-interpret' Sir Charles' comment [about C-Day or Computer Day]. It is more likely that he got the date wrong than the day of the week, so we can accept that "Monday" is correct, but that "July the Sixteenth" is wrong. On the basis that 1966 is the correct year, we can make C-Day to be "next Monday", July the Eighteenth. The story therefore starts four days prior to C-Day, 14 July. The duration is three consecutive days plus the day when the TARDIS leaves London. As given in The Faceless Ones, that day is 20 July, so a further four days passes between WOTAN's destruction and the Doctor's departure.'

The dates are all a little strange anyway. On the Chameleon Tours desk there's a little calendar thing which says SATURDAY ... so presumably it's a Saturday?  Except that July 20 was a WEDNESDAY ... so maybe three days are meant to pass between the activity in the airport at the desk, and the end of the story?  I'm not sure that can be accounted for by what we see on screen ...

Here's what Jon Preddle assessed in TIMELINK: 'In the final scene at the hangar in The Faceless Ones, the date "July the Twentieth, 1966" is given by the Doctor (presumably his "12 hours" airport pass has the date on it). In The Evil Of The Daleks it is stated that the TARDIS was stolen from the hangar at "3 o'clock" (the time appears on Bob Hall's time sheet: "Police Tel Box. Collection: 3 o'clock"). In Ep4 of The Faceless Ones the Chameleon Tours flight to Rome is at "1530 hours", i.e. 3.30 pm. Therefore these two events are on two separate days: the final scene of The Faceless Ones and the start of The Evil Of The Daleks are set on 20 July 1966, with the bulk of The Faceless Ones therefore taking place on 19 July 1966. Ben and Polly realise that 20 July 1966 is the very same day in which they first entered the TARDIS (see The War Machines).'

Maybe that SATURDAY date thing on the check in desk has not been updated then ...

The eyechart which is used to check the Chameleon Conversion has BADWOLF and BIGRON spelt back-to-front.  (BAD WOLF is the 'key phrase' from Doctor Who season 1 in 2005; and BIG RON was a character in EASTENDERS used as part of a fundraising effort around the charity skit DIMENSIONS IN TIME. Viewers were encouraged to call in on a pay telephone line to vote for one of two EastEnders characters to help the Doctor. In the competition, between Big Ron and Mandy Salter, Mandy won with 53% of the vote.)

In the airport there's an advert for HIBBERT PLASTICS (referencing SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE and the plastics factory). Hibbert was the Production Manager of the factory, called AUTO-PLASTICS by the time of 'Spearhead from Space' and it's debatable whether he was actually the owner as well. There's no evidence to suggest this. Perhaps HIBBERT PLASTICS was a company run by Hibbert which was taken over by AUTO-PLASTICS and Hibbert given a Production Manager job as a result ...

In the airport there's also an advert claiming LESS MUCK, LESS DEVASTATION, LESS DEATH - which is for GLOBAL CHEMICALS, the company polluting the Welsh mines in THE GREEN DEATH. The phrase echoes something said by Professor Jones in that story: 'Muck and devastation' which he possibly used if the company was using this as it's catchphrase in advertising.

Episode Three

There's another newspaper stuffed on a table with a news report about the War Machines and a photograph of William Hartnell as the Doctor.

Episode Four

There's an error here in that the Doctor picks up two white Chameleon arm sheaths but has a black and a white one when he's in the control room later.

Episode Five

The Chameleon Nurse Pinto has a WHITE control sheath on her arm when it should be BLACK (the original humans have WHITE on their arms, the Chameleons have the BLACK ones on their arms), and her original also has a WHITE one on her arm when the body is found.

Episode Six

There's an advert in the airport for MAGPIE ELECTRICALS (this was featured in the story THE IDIOT'S LANTERN)

When we see the Police emerge from the station again, the image of the Sacha Dhawan Master has been replaced with one of the Meddling Monk (from the story THE TIME MEDDLER) not quite sure how there can be a photo of the Monk - cameras weren't invented at the time he appeared in the show!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Review: Classic Monsters of the Movies Magazine

When I was a lad, there seemed to be literally hundreds of monster movie magazines. Titles like Famous Monsters, Monster Mag, House of HammerStarburst, and Shivers, not to mention the classic books by Denis Gifford and Alan Frank ... but these days the pickings are much slimmer. We still have Starburst of course, and The Dark Side, but one of the best, Fear, tried a comeback which didn't work ... and there's not much else.

Thank goodness for Nige Burton and his Classic Monsters of the Movies magazine! I first discovered this gem a few years back when Nige and myself both had trader stands at a HorrorCon (Sheffield I think it was), and I was immediately taken by the magazine.

First of all, the covers. Now magazines, like books, can survive or fail on their covers. Indeed one of the late lamented Fear's main selling points were the beautiful Oliver Frey covers which graced every issue. Now Classic Monsters has discovered the talented pen of Daniel Horne, and his simply jaw dropping portraits grace every issue. I am reminded of the great Basil Gogos and his portraits which graced covers of Famous Monsters, and Daniel's work has a class and a beauty which elevate this magazine.

Once past the cover though, and Nige assembles a fascinating collection of film analyses, character profiles, reviews and actor and director profiles covering everything from the early days of F W Murnau's Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to more modern fare of Pet Sematary and Hammer's output.

That's what I love about the mag, that it's not afraid to mix the old with the new. In an edition which features Michael Myers from Halloween on the cover, Nige explains that some people complain if they cover anything after around 1950 ... well I would suggest that this is just short sighted on the part of the complainer! If you're going to cover Classic Monsters, then there are modern classics too ... and the beauty of covering them all is that it brings younger aficionados into the fold as well as those who love the classic black and white films.

It's a beautifully printed and presented magazine, chock full of photographs which have been cleaned up and which sparkle like new. Indeed, the picture content is second to none - gorgeous photographs from old black and white (and colour) films which really show off all the detail and care that went into the original make-ups and productions.

But it's not all films! There are features on collecting and nostalgia too, so if you ever owned a glow in the dark Aurora Monster model kit, or poured over a copy of Denis Gifford's A Pictorial History of Horror Movies, then the magazine is for you ...

I so strongly recommend it to you ... Nige is doing an amazing thing and it deserves supporting ... so go and buy a copy today - or better still get a subscription! You won't regret it!

For more information, visit

Monday, July 22, 2019

Review: Resurrection of the Daleks Novelisation

Way back in the dim and distant past, when Target novelisations were being produced monthly, and there was much excitement about every one, allegedly Terry Nation's agents decreed that if any of the eighties Dalek stories were to be novelised, then they wanted a hefty percentage of the royalty, leaving the actual writer who had done all the work, very little indeed.

Thus it was that Eric Saward, writer of the two eighties Dalek stories Resurrection of the Daleks and Revelation of the Daleks, decided that he didn't like those terms and so declined to write the books, or to allow anyone else to write them either. So they languished un-novelised (apart from a fan-produced version) until 2019.

With the whole business of Doctor Who publishing turned on its head, and the BBC looking for more and more ways to publish books  so Saward finally found a deal he was happy with, and finally the novelisations of the last two stories to be novelised are being published.

I got Resurrection of the Daleks the other week. The BBC, in their infinite wisdom, have done them as un-matching editions which look unlike all the other Doctor Who books available.

Thus we get a small hardbacked book, with a black, silver and red cover with the smallest Dalek in the centre ...

And the writing ... well ... To be honest I might have read a worse written book, but it's hard to think of one. The writing style is odd. It's sort of third person totally uninterested. As the plot unfolds with scant regard to characterisation or detail, so the reader is kept at a distance from all the action. Oh there are lots of bits added: references to the spaceship Vipod Mor and to Tinclavic and Terileptils (all created by Saward for the series and spin offs) to the extent that you start to wonder if the Doctor has ever encountered any aliens aside from the Terileptils. But all this feels forced and unnecessary. There's a tagged on ending with Tegan feeling like a superwoman, heading off on a barge, watched by the two policemen ... But even this feels empty.

The descriptions are clunky and poor. There's one moment which made me splutter on my tea! Had I really just read that Tegan took a stool from her room into the TARDIS console room? The TARDIS apparently has in it an Explosion Emotion Chamber ... and a robot chef called Ooba-Doa! There's elements which have no relation to the narrative, and there are characters which just drift through without ever actually making any impression on you at all.

And then there's the Daleks. Never have I seen them worse characterised than here. If you didn't know what they looked like or how they spoke, then you would never know from reading this book. They scream, they ooze, they get cross ... what they don't do is behave like Daleks!

Davros fares little better. It's such a shame that such a long-awaited book turns out to be so poor in almost every respect.

Later in the year we have the second Dalek story to look forward to: Revelation of the Daleks, which was enlivened on television by Graeme Harper's inspired direction ... I can only wonder what the book will be like.