Saturday, April 23, 2016

Review: Bride of the Reanimator (1990)

H P Lovecraft has a fascinating legacy in films. I'm not sure there has ever been a wholly successful adaptation of his work (Wiki lists 33 films based on his work!), but the Re-Animator films give it a good shot.

Produced by Brian Yuzna. directed by Stuart Gordon, and starring Jeffrey Combs as Doctor Herbert West, Re-Animator (1985) was a great little film, chronicling Dr West's experiments with a luminous liquid which could re-animate the dead. Very watchable and entertaining, the film has since gained a cult following as these things do, and spawned two sequels.

After its success, Yuzna and Gordon turned to another Lovecraft tale for their next offering, From Beyond, and after that, Yuzna alone decided to go back and see what Herbert West was up to, the result being Bride of the Re-Animator. That these films were in part based on the old Frankenstein films can be no secret, with even the titles following the order of the old Universal classics.

Bride of the Re-Animator, while not quite as good as the original film, nevertheless has a good stab at being entertaining, crazy and quirky all at the same time. Once again Herbert West wields his glowing serum, but this time it allows him to create all sorts of monstrous creations through the connection together of various body parts. Thus a dog ends up with a human arm and hand, there's a cute little creature made from five fingers and an eyeball, and, as we reach the end of the film, a whole room full of monstrous creations straight from the crazed mind of FX artist Screaming Mad George.

The film is certainly paying respects to The Bride of Frankenstein with the creation of a statuesque female by Dr West from various body parts, including the heart of his assistant's girlfriend! When she rises, it's straight out of the black and white Universal film, with mad hair and jerky movements. And of course she never asked to be created in the first place ...

I really enjoyed the film, and it has a lot going for it. The monstrous creatures at the end are marvellous and I found it all channelling a sort of Freaks or The Sentinel vibe for me, as well as the more obvious Frankenstein influences. What is interesting is how close some of the plot elements are to the original H P Lovecraft story. According to details here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_West%E2%80%93Reanimator, the original work was serialised over six parts, with the first two being used for the original Re-Animator film, and the last two for Bride of the Re-Animator.

Overall the film is part of a very nice offering from Arrow, with the usual selection of documentaries and commentaries.

DIRECTOR-APPROVED 3-DISC LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
  • Brand new 2K restorations of the Unrated and R-rated versions of the film, approved by director Brian Yuzna
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Stereo 2.0 audio (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
  • Limited Edition Collector’s Booklet
  • Limited Edition Packaging to be revealed

  • DISCS 1 & 2 – BLU-RAY/DVD – UNRATED VERSION
  • Brand new 2K restoration of the Unrated version
  • Brand new audio commentary with Brian Yuzna
  • Audio Commentary with Brian Yuzna, star Jeffrey Combs, visual effects supervisor Tom
  • Rainone and the effects team including John Buechler, Mike Deak, Bob Kurtzman, Howard Berger and Screaming Mad George
  • Audio Commentary with stars Jeffrey Combs and Bruce Abbott
  • Brian Yuzna Remembers Bride of Re-animator – brand new featurette in which the director looks back at the making of the first Re-animator sequel
  • Splatter Masters: The Special Effects Artists of Bride of Re-animator – Brand new FX featurette with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Robert Kurtzman of KNB, Screaming Mad George, Tony Doublin and John Buechler
  • Getting Ahead in Horror – archive making-of featurette
  • Deleted Scenes

  • DISC 3 – BLU-RAY – R-RATED VERSION



  • Brand new 2K restoration of the R-rated version
  • The Target Book - Redux

    It's always lovely when a book about a subject you're passionate about gets published, and even moreso when it's written by you!  Thus it was when The Target Book was launched on an unsuspecting public back in 2007. The reception it got was brilliant, people seemed to love it! We ended up doing (I think) two print runs with our Indian printers (at the time, printing in India was cheaper than in the UK, even factoring in the shipping costs) of the paperback edition, and two different limited edition hardbacks with leatherette covers ... even so, eventually the paperbacks ran out, and the book slipped out of print.

    We then had a problem. I would have loved to have got the book onto a Print On Demand system so that copies could still be bought, but the physical page size we had chosen (as being the largest we could do for the rrp we wanted it to be) was not compatible with any system, so we couldn't use the PDFs we had, and I didn't want to have to completely re-lay out the book. Printing in the UK was too expensive for full colour at a short print run, and so we just had to accept that the book was out of print and move on.

    But people kept coming and asking about it, perhaps driven by the silly prices that copies of the book were displaying online (many of these driven by crazy automated pricing algorithms ... I suspect no book was ever sold at the prices being charged!) and we had to keep turning people away.

    The BBC Books reissue.
    Then, in 2016, several things happened all at once. Firstly I was approached by the BBC about whether I would lend some of my original Target cover art for an exhibition which was planned in London. I was uncertain, as there seemed to be absolutely no benefit to me in lending the pieces. It was to promote some reprints of the novelisations being released by the BBC, and the gallery was apparently charging an entrance fee for customers to see the exhibition, yet there was no loan fee, and no benefit to me in taking part. So I initially declined. The BBC in the form of Edward Russell was disappointed, but understood my rationale, and I think it was he who suggested, why don't you see if the gallery would sell copies of your book on the range? Not realising that it was long out of print.

    In the same week, I had a call from a regular printers that we use at Telos Publishing, and in the course of the call, I mentioned that we had this full colour book, and we'd love to bring it back into print. My contact then told me that they had just got in some new colour machines, and that she thought we could do it for a cost which worked (obviously the unit cost - what the publisher pays the printer - for a book has to be low enough that when trade discounts and so on are applied, plus all the publishers' costs, that the book can make a profit for the publisher, otherwise there's no point in doing it).  So we knocked some numbers around, and yes indeed, we could produce a new edition of the book for a cost which worked ...

    So I then looked at the book more seriously to see what might need to be done. I checked with Arnold T Blumberg, who had laid the book out originally, to ensure that he still had the files, and that he could make changes to it if needed, and yes indeed he did.

    BBC Books' 50th Anniversary edition
    The immediate thing which needed attention was at the back of the book. We had seven pages of advertisements at the back of the first version, and pretty much all of them were now out of date. So why not use those seven pages more productively for a new Appendix, which could bring the story up to date. When we published the first edition, BBC Audio had only just started releasing the Target novelisations on audio, and indeed there was a short sidebar which discussed that elsewhere in the book. And BBC Books hadn't started their programme of reprints at all. So I could cover both of those developments properly in a new section. So I got started writing and researching. Luckily everyone involved was happy to help, so I got information from Michael Stevens who has produced the audio ranges, Ben Willsher who did some of the new artwork covers for the audios, Justin Richards, BBC Books Consultant and Albert dePetrillo, managing editor at BBC Books. With interviews completed, facts assembled, and artwork pulled together (Chris Achilleos kindly snapped some pics of his original sketches for the new covers he had done for the BBC for me to use in the book!) it was all taking shape nicely.

    With the new section completed, I also had to address elements in the rest of the book. Paul Scoones kindly supplied a list of minor errors which he had spotted in the book, so these were corrected. I reworked the sidebar about audio releases to remove all the BBC Audio ones (as those were now covered in the Appendix) and to expand it slightly to include all the audio versions of TV stories which had been released beforehand. I missed off the Century 21 EP of episode 6 of 'The Chase' as that's not strictly a novelisation, more of a condensed and narrated version of the episode itself, likewise with the Genesis of the Daleks LP. But all the actual novelisations are now listed, from 1978's talking books onwards.

    BBC Books' new edition
    with new cover art
    Other illustrative detail came from artist Jason Fletcher (Fletch!), who had kindly supplied an image of the fourth Doctor to use as a foil stamp on the back of the second deluxe, limited edition hardback. I felt that it would be nice to include that somewhere, and so it became part of the endpaper design for this new edition. Finally, Alister Pearson suggested using a piece which David Lavelle had created for the Target Exhibition which showed both the first and seventh Doctors against a Target background. We managed to fit this on the Dedication page (which I had always thought was a little empty before). Unfortunately the credit for Alister and David for this image somehow vanished from the files along the way ... so huge apologies to both for that.

    Arnold sorted out the layouts, going through several iterations as usual to get everything to work and to fit. We shifted the seven blank pages to before the Index and the Target Cover Gallery as that made more sense, and expanded the Gallery to include all the new editions of the books which BBC Books have released to date. In a way this was a departure from the original intent of the Gallery which was to show all the original covers, and of course most of the new BBC editions use the original Chris Achilleos art, but they are so lovely that we thought it was worth showing them. Of course those titles with new covers (Remembrance of the Daleks, Vengeance on Varos, The Visitation and Battlefield) are also included.

    David signing copies of the finished book.
    I had decided to release the new edition in hardback - we'd not done a straightforward hardback before - and to that end, I needed to design some endpapers, and also, for the front and back covers, I wanted to take advantage of a new process that the printers had in, a UV gloss ink, which would give a glossy look to the parts of the cover it's applied to.  This is not the same as a UV gloss laminate, which we had experimented with in the past on some of Telos' books printed in India, with variable results, but a fifth run of ink.  To achieve this, I had to supply a mask for the whole cover showing which parts should have the ink applied. Strangely this is more complicated than it sounds, but I managed it.

    Thus the whole thing went off to print, with delivery set for the week before the exhibition opened. Now the waiting started!  Along the way, Chris Achilleos reached out to me about my decision not to take part in the exhibition, and after discussing it with Chris, I agreed to loan some of my original pieces for display, in part as a favour to Chris, and in part as I now would have my book available again, and the Gallery had agreed to sell some!

    The Sticker!
    A friend called Matt Doe also got in touch. Matt is a dealer and collector of Who toys and so our interests intersect! Matt offered to produce a little sticker of the cover art from The Target Book to give to people who ordered it direct from Telos. It was a brilliant idea, and so we sorted that out ... thus we had a lovely little extra to say thanks to everyone who supported the book by pre-ordering it.

    The books arrived yesterday (22nd April) and look totally brilliant. The printing quality is lovely - the original edition was a little dark in places on the printing, a feature I think of the heavier quality paper which was being used, and also of the Indian printing presses - and the cover with the matt and glossy areas is beautiful. I'm very happy.

    I hope everyone who visits the Cartoon Gallery in London to see the original Target art will fall in love with it in the same way as it has captured me and so many others over the years. I hope people will be interested enough to want to get a copy of the book too!

    As I have been writing this piece, the first review has come in ... hopefully this bodes well for the future :) https://scifibulletin.com/doctor-who/reviews/review-doctor-who-books-the-target-book/


    The Target Book
    Written by David J Howe with Tim Neal
    Foreword by Terrance Dicks
    176pp. Large format 22cm x 28cm hardback. Fully illustrated in full colour throughout.
    ISBN 978-1-84583-114-1
    Available from: http://www.telos.co.uk/product/the-target-book-hb-pre-order/

    Doctor Who: The Target Books Artwork runs from 28 April – 11 May 2016 at The Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London WC1A 2HH
    Website: http://www.cartoonmuseum.org/exhibitions/future-exhibitions/50174-doctor-who-the-target-book-artwork


    Friday, April 22, 2016

    Jessica Jones

    Television today is a bewildering array of choices. And to add to all the TV Channels on Sky/Virgin/Supplier of Choice, there's also Netflix to contend with. There also seems to be more genre fare than ever, with a new horror/fantasy/SciFi series debuting every week!  So it's hard to know what to watch and follow.

    Thus it was that we stumbled across Jessica Jones. I'm not a comic reader so had never heard of her or the series, but we did a little digging, saw that it starred David Tennant, and so decided to give it a go. And I'm glad that we did.

    Jessica Jones is a strange beast. A show which has superheroes in but which doesn't major on that fact. There's no (well, limited) explanations. And the characters are not all likeable. But it works so well, and when it kicks into gear, it really grips with a thrilling narrative quite unlike anything I've seen before.

    The basic idea is that Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a private eye, and she's quite good at her job. But she's tortured and beaten inside because of a relationship with a man called Kilgrave (David Tennant) who has the power to make anyone do what he says. Jessica has a power too, she's immensely strong, and can jump or fall long distances without hurting herself, She has a relationship with Luke (Mike Colter) who owns a bar, and he has a power too: he is indestructible and his skin cannot be broken by anything.

    As the story progresses, so Jessica tracks Kilgrave down, but the man is so twisted and evil, leaving programmed commands in people to kill themselves and others. To cut out their own hearts, or to murder loved ones. The instructions have to be carried out, the victims cannot help themselves, and so Kilgrave is able to take over houses and apartments, to turn an entire police station or hospital against themselves and others ... he's a demon!

    The series progresses over 13 episodes, with Jessica getting closer and closer, trying to shield those she loves against Kilgrave's wiles, but all the time failing and falling.

    I won't say how it all ends, as it needs to be watched to appreciate. Krysten Ritter is brilliant as Jessica, managing to keep going, and to keep the 'hidden' levels of angst and pain visible on her face, even as she struggles to catch up with Kilgrave. David Tennant is, as usual, brilliant. He's using his English Doctor Who voice here rather than his natural Scottish, and he comes over as immoral, crazy, yet haunted by Jessica who is his only weakness. It's a great performance.

    If you get a chance to catch it, do so. If you love crime drama tinged with the supernatural then you should love it.

    Thursday, March 24, 2016

    Review: Thieves' Highway (1949)

    Arrow Academy dual-format Blu-Ray/DVD release, 19 October 2015

    The movie

    The late-era film noir Thieves’ Highway is held in high regard by many fans of the genre, but its great reputation is – in this reviewer’s opinion – not entirely deserved.

    The main problem with the movie lies in its scripting, and more particularly its characterisation. The story centres around war veteran Nick Garcos (Richard Conte), who returns home to the States to find that his truck-driver father has lost both of his legs in an accident arranged by unscrupulous San Francisco market trader Mike Figlia (Lee J Cobb) as part of a scheme to avoid paying him for a consignment of tomatoes. Joining forces with a deceitful former associate of his father’s, Nick drives to the city with a truckload of prized Golden Delicious apples, seemingly intent on using this as a pretext to make contact with Figlia and exact revenge on him. So far, so good. However, it appears that, on arriving in San Francisco, Nick promptly forgets all about his revenge motive after he manages to get Figlia to pay him a good price for the apples – despite having foolishly abandoned his truck right outside the man’s market stall, predictably prompting him to help himself to the produce. Then, in a moment of jaw-dropping idiocy, Nick uses a public phone in a crowded café to call his girlfriend Polly (Barbara Lawrence) and brag about how much money he has made, while everyone present listens in. It is no great surprise that, when he later goes for a stroll along a deserted waterfront, he is attacked and robbed – although it eventually transpires that the culprits are two men sent by Figlia to get his money back. In the meantime, while waiting for Polly to arrive in San Francisco so that they can get married, Nick has started an affair with an Italian prostitute, Rica (Valentina Cortesa), despite knowing that Figlia has paid her to keep him occupied. (Honest, I’m not making this up.) Small wonder that when Polly does arrive, she is none too impressed to find Nick lying on Rica’s bed – although it is only on learning that he has lost all of his money that she immediately gives up on him and leaves! And so the plot staggers on, from one improbable development to another …

    In many classic film noirs, the protagonist is dogged by fate at every turn, but in Thieves’ Highway, the misfortunes that Nick suffers are really all the result of his own stupidity – or, at best, unbelievable naivety – which is nowhere near as satisfying. It is only after Nick himself has been repeatedly scammed by Figlia that he apparently remembers why he came to San Francisco in the first place, and physically attacks the man – until, that is, some police officers turn up to deliver the patronising moral that people can’t take the law into their own hands, so Nick should really have left it all to them. Nick then hooks up with Rica, and they drive off into the sunset together in his truck …
    To be fair to the movie’s esteemed director Jules Dassin (also responsible for such classics as The Naked City and Rififi), the moralising police officers and the implausible ‘happy ending’ for Nick and Rica were late additions made by the studio, 20th Century Fox, without his agreement. Where Thieves’ Highway does succeed admirably is in the visual flair that Dassin brings to it, and in its authentic depiction of the lives of the truckers and market traders involved in the Californian fruit and veg trade – an unusual but interesting background for a movie. The outdoor fruit market scenes shot on location in San Francisco’s Oakland Produce Market area are especially effective, with a number of real-life market traders being used as extras; and there are some memorably dramatic incidents on the road as the truckers make the long, tiring journey to San Francisco. In the end, though, the shortcomings with the script really let the whole thing down.

    The Arrow Academy Blu-ray

    Arrow’s recent Blu-ray release of the movie – which is handily presented in a dual-format package with a DVD (not seen for this review) and a well-designed booklet with an essay by critic Alastair Phillips and some nice stills – has immaculate picture and sound quality, courtesy of an excellent new 4K digital restoration by 20th Century Fox. A good collection of extras include The Long Haul of A I Bezzerides, a 55-minute documentary portrait of the man who wrote both the movie and its source novel, Thieves’ Market; another new documentary, The Fruits of Labour, in which film noir expert Frank Krutnik, author of the excellent book In a Lonely Street: Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity, discusses the movie’s genesis, production, reception and politics; selected scene and character commentaries by Krutnik; and the theatrical trailer.

    Review by Stephen James Walker

    Sunday, February 07, 2016

    Review: The Spider (Edderkoppen)


    The six hour-long episodes of the Danish TV serial The Spider (original title Edderkoppen) were released as an English-subtitled two-disc DVD set in the UK last summer, fifteen years after their original broadcast, as part of Arrow Films’ “Nordic Noir” strand of crime dramas. Unlike more famous Danish shows such as Borgen and The Killing (with which it shares a number of principal cast members), The Spider is not a contemporary thriller but a period piece, set in 1949, a time when Denmark was still suffering the after-effects of the Second World War, with many everyday items still subject to rationing. The central character, Bjarne Madsen (Jakob Cedergren), is an idealistic rookie journalist on a left-wing newspaper, who becomes preoccupied with investigating a local ring of black marketeers presided over by the ruthless Svend Aage Hjalmar (Bjarne Henriksen) – “the Spider” at the centre of this web of crime. Bjarne is aided by veteran crime reporter H C Vissing (Bent Vejding), who takes him under his wing, but they find their enquiries obstructed at every turn by corrupt police officers, who are in the pay of Hjalmar.

    Partly based on true events, the story is set against the background of a nation struggling to come to terms with its wartime past, when some people joined the resistance to oppose the Nazi occupying force, while others became despised collaborators, creating tension within local communities and even individual families, as shown when Bjarne’s cocky collaborator brother Ole (Lars Mikkelsen) – curiously named after the series’ creator, director and main writer Ole Christian Madsen – returns from a period of effective exile in New York with a wad of cash, intending to set up a jazz club.

    This is a very well-made serial, with strong central performances, high production values and good direction, creating a very authentic-seeming period atmosphere. Unfortunately, it is really let down by its scripting. The characters are clichéd and one-dimensional, the situations hackneyed and predictable, and the plotting disjointed and implausible. The end result is that, although The Spider has an interesting setting and an intriguing premise and is very pleasing to look at, sitting through all six episodes becomes really rather a trial.

    Arrow Films’ DVD presentation of the serial is a bare-bones one, too, with no extras whatsoever. So, overall, this is sadly not a release I can recommend.


    Stephen James Walker

    Review: Five Dolls For an August Moon (1970)

    So this is a Mario Bava film, and one that I'd never heard of. The director is famed of course, and rightly so, for such masterworks as Black Sunday, but it seems that somewhere after that he lost his mojo.

    I have no idea why this film is called Five Dolls for an August Moon. There are no dolls in the film, and no moon either, and it may or may not be set in August. What it seems to be is a sort of rip-off of Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians, or And Then There Were None, in that there are ten people, five men and five women, on an island, and that they get killed off one by one ... no-one seems to know who the killer is, not least of all the viewer, and to be honest the film is so talky and slow that the viewer actually ceases to care much ... And when we get to the end, it doesn't make sense anyway, with people seemingly vanishing when the police arrive and then reappearing again ... and the police search the house - by which they go to the top of the stairs and without moving a foot further, or calling out, or checking any of the rooms, declare that the place is deserted. It's all very strange.

    One of the woman is a sort of 'observer' type character and runs around outside in a short dress or fetching pair of jeans, acting strange, hiding clothes in rocks, eating seafood straight from the water ... that sort of thing. The others are a strange mix of poorly acted Italian stock, looking as though they have just wandered in from whichever Italian Soap Opera was popular at the time ... It's all spinning beds and girls in knickers ... very soft porn stuff.  There is one nice death reveal - where a load of glass balls tumble down a staircase and roll along a passage to a bathroom, falling in the bath where one of the girls seems to have slit her wrists because she can't take it any longer ... I know how she felt!

    And the music! Oh my. It sounds as though it's all been played on a Bontempi organ and is dreadful. There's a meat locker in the house (inexplicable) and for some reason all the dead bodies get wrapped in plastic and hung in there.

    While I can applaud Arrow for seeking out, cleaning up and issuing all these strange films in high quality Blu-Ray format, it's a shame when the subject matter is as poor as this.

    There is an interesting and informative documentary on the disc (apparently from around 2000) where Mark Kermode explores the life and work of Bava. Of particular interest were the parallels between Bava's Planet of the Vampires and Scott's Alien ... where it seems that if Ridley Scott hadn't seen Bava's work, then the writers certainly had ... there are a lot of parallels.

    So overall, it's a lovely transfer, clean pictures, incomprehensible film and dreadful music ... Probably unmissable for the Bava completist!

    SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Optional English and Italian soundtracks presented in original uncompressed mono PCM audio
  • Optional isolated Music and Effects track
  • Optional English subtitles for the Italian audio and English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English audio
  • Audio commentary by Mario Bava’s biographer Tim Lucas
  • Mario Bava: Maestro of the Macabre – a documentary profile of the director, hosted by Mark Kermode and featuring interviews with Joe Dante, John Carpenter and Tim Burton
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Glenn Kenny and a new essay by Adrian Smith on the Fancey family and their efforts to bring international exploitation titles, including Five Dolls for an August Moon, to a UK audience during the 60s, 70s and 80s

  • Friday, January 15, 2016

    New Magazines

    I'm a sucker for magazines. I love the real world-ness of them ... a sense of permanence that the good old world of PDFs and Websites can't replicate. This is why I still have stacks of old and loved magazines ... copies of House of Hammer, Monster Mag, Fangoria, The Monster Times and many more ... And now there's more to add!

    I'd seen mention of this new magazine called Zombie! online but hadn't heard a thing about it ... but when I saw a copy in the local Smith's I had to grab it. For a start it has a glow in the dark cover!  When I was a kid I loved glow in the dark things ... from the Aurora Monster Model Kits to silly plastic skeletons you could get in Christmas crackers, I loved all things which glowed. I even tried to find some glow in the dark paint to paint some stuff with but failed! I don't think they made it at the time!

    Anyway, Zombie!  has a cracking cover courtesy of Oliver Frey who used to do all the covers for the old Fear magazine - I told you I loved the mags - and his gory, stylised work is perfect for this magazine which, as the title suggests, is about all things Zombie.  So we get a Zombie Survival Guide, a Cultural History of Zombies, 21 Zombie Movies to watch before you die, reviews of zombie related stuff, feature on The Walking Dead, interview with Oliver Frey, games reviews, zombie tattoos, zombie comics, and finally a short piece with author Darren Shan about his Zom-B series of novels ... all in all it's a packed read, and has a snappy, modern, jumpy layout with lots of boxouts of information and imagery ... Really well designed and fascinating to flip through.

    I have no idea whether it will last, whether there is enough zombie news, reviews and features to fill a monthly (at least I think it's monthly - I can't find any information!) magazine.  But I wish them well! From the first issue, it's a very promising start.

    To grab a copy, head to:
    http://www.get-zombie.today/

    The other magazine offering is far more sedate. From its perfect and stylish black and white cover, The Mummy is a mag all about that creature, but more specifically about the 1932 Universal film. This is one of a series of publications from the amazing Nige Burton and team, and is a top quality printed work, with beautifully reproduced photographs. The care that has gone into it is evident, and it shows. They kindly sent me a copy for review.

    Each edition focusses on one film, and here we have the Boris Karloff version of the Mummy ...so we have background details on the film, biogs of all the main players from both in front of and behind the camera, Mummy merchandise is covered, as are the sequels of declining quality, everything illustrated with stills and posters and lobby cards ... a beautiful appreciation of the film.

    For more information about Nige's series of magazines and special publications, please head to:
    https://www.facebook.com/classicmonstersofthemovies
    http://www.classic-monsters.com/shop/

    Thursday, December 31, 2015

    2015 Overview

    Linzi Gold and Alan Glass
    2015 ... here's some thoughts ... It started with some good news for Sam’s daughter Linzi … we met by accident with a friend of a friend, the ex-drummer with The Marmalade, Alan Whitehead, who, it turned out, was acting as a music agent. He heard Linzi singing, loved her, and signed her up!  He introduced her to a brilliant producer/musician called Alan Glass, and on 1st Jan, Linzi Gold had an initial meeting with Alan Glass, and work started on creating her music. Under the guidance of Alan Glass, she has now created lyrics and melody for eight tracks, and has recorded a video for one of them (‘Killing Kiss’). She has two more tracks to record, and then we can put them all together in a debut album next year …

    She parted company with Alan Whitehead mid-year, but is continuing to work with Alan Glass to complete the album.

    Some of her tracks can be found on YouTube, and on SoundCloud – just search for Linzi Gold in each case to find them. We also have an EP available for sale, and a DVD of the video – check her webpage at www.linzigold.com for details of how to order them.

    Sam with John Barrowman
    February and we were again off to LA for the annual Gallifrey Doctor Who convention – a week of friends and parties and drinking basically. As usual we had a brilliant time, and met up again with friends like Chase Masterson, and Dean Haglund (who was on the verge of moving to Australia!). Unfortunately despite everyone’s best efforts, we weren’t able to get to meet with Clive Barker again – the week we were there, people at Clive’s place fell ill with throat infections and were called out to other cities on business … so we couldn’t make it happen. We’ll try again in 2016!

    One highlight of the visit was that David finally got to see the Baxter Building – a distinctive place in Downtown LA, which was used in the film Blade Runner, as well as being the main location for the ‘Demon With a Glass Hand’ episode of the sixties series The Outer Limits. It’s an amazing place! (see howeswho.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/the-bradbury-building.html for pics!)

    David with Jason Connery
    After the news last year that we had a new kitty in the form of Jinx, sad news in March, as on the 10th, she was hit by a car on the road out front and killed instantly. We were distraught. We have decided not to get another cat as it’s not fair – that road is so dangerous and cars go down it at 90 miles an hour (even though it’s a little country lane). Even next door’s cat was killed on it, in the same way, a few months later.

    We had a busy first part of the year with events in Pwllheli, Peterborough, Lincoln, London, EasterCon in London, and Wales Comic Con in Wrexham. All seemed great, and we were visiting a friend down in South Wales when the world turned on its head.

    It was Sunday 3 May, and we were heading to Cardiff to see the Doctor Who Exhibition there, when David started to feel ill. A couple of miles further on, we stopped at a service station just inside Wales, and David basically collapsed. It turned out he was having a massive heart attack, and so was rushed by ambulance to Cardiff University Hospital, where he was emergency-stented and his life saved.

    David was in hospital for a week, and then Sam brought him home … and so the next six months were devoted to getting better and stronger and recovering from the attack. Of course all events and travel had to be cancelled, David was earning no money from working, and so we resorted to living off what money we had saved.

    David, Sam and Patricia record the 'Zombie Special' edition
    of THE STONE TAPES
    Thankfully David has pulled through and is now back to being hale and hearty once more. He’s on medication for life now, but as this keeps him alive, we don’t mind too much.

    In the middle of all this, we also recorded Linzi’s music video, and Sam recorded the first of her monthly radio shows on SirenFM, Lincoln University’s Community Radio station. It’s a genre chat show, covering music and books and films and television and is called THE STONE TAPES after the old seventies Nigel Kneale play, The Stone Tape. It seemed suitable. We have recorded 8 editions so far, and they have all been great fun indeed.

    If you want to listen, then they are all stored as downloadable Podcasts and can be found here:
    David’s first event post-Heart Attack was in July, at HorrorCon in Rotherham, which was an excellently organized affair with some great guests.

    Sam with Gunner Hansen
    We met the lovely Gunner Hansen there, who played the original Leatherface in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and he was a nice man. We were saddened to hear that he had died later in the year.

    The big event of the year was of course our Wedding. Planned since last year, it finally happened in October, and was as fun and laughter-filled as we could have hoped for … We wanted it to be all about family and friends, and we hope we achieved that.

    It was also ‘Steampunk’ which meant dressing up … and the array of outfits was superb: From Uncle Brian’s ‘Ozzy Osbourne’ to corsets and Victorian Ladies aplenty, top hats and tails, and beautiful dresses and glamorous people. We had an absolute ball, and the photos reflect all the fun and laughter we had on the day.

    I've put a pile of pictures on this blog here: howeswho.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/wedding-pictures.html

    After the wedding, we didn’t head off immediately on honeymoon … the reason being that we had been invited to two USA conventions: Long Island Who, and Chicago TARDIS; which were two weeks apart. So we planned to head over to both, and to use the week in between for a honeymoon break. So that’s what we did, and spent an amazing time in Las Vegas …

    David with some friends in Las Vegas
    Sam in Vegas
    We didn’t gamble, but watched, and when we did decide to spend $20 on the machines, we stopped when we had won $38 and came out ahead! We’re not daft!

    At the tail end of the year, David also released another book!  This is a selection of his reviews of Doctor Who on television, and covered all of the Chris Eccleston and David Tennant years. He called it Then and Now as it represented all the reviews as published at the time, together with additional notes and comments on a re-watch this year. The book has been very warmly received, and David hopes to do a follow up volume when Peter Capaldi eventually leaves the role ...

    Copies are available from Amazon as follows:

    UK: www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1518776000/ref=s9_simh_gw_p14_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_s=desktop-1&pf_rd_r=0Q1DAMX857R3W6DK9CHD&pf_rd_t=36701&pf_rd_p=577048407&pf_rd_i=desktop

    USA: www.amazon.com/Then-Now-Doctor-Who-Review/dp/1518776000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451578674&sr=8-1&keywords=then+and+now+howe

    SAM’S WRITING

    2015, and Sam finally managed to find an agent who could represent her. This is a smashing lady called Hazel Latus, who we have met with and have high hopes of working with on all manner of projects.

    The books Sam has had out this year (2015) are as follows:

    VAMPIRE GENE REPRINTS: Sam sold the rights to her popular Vampire Gene series of novels to Telos, and they have all been reissued with smart new covers …

    The next edition, JADED JEWEL, is due for release in 2016.
    JINX TOWN: This is a post-apocalyptic novel involving alien invasion, death and disaster … It’s a great read and had some brilliant reviews.

    KAT OF GREEN TENTACLES: This was another in Sam’s brilliant Steampunk Adventure series. This time it’s Anne of Green Gables mixed with the Fae and a Cthulhuian monster in the basement …

    All those are from Telos here: www.telos.co.uk

    SHORT STORIES: Not such a good year for these due to David’s heart attack, but one that Sam did manage to complete was ‘Sabellaed’, a tribute to the author Tanith Lee who passed away this year, which was printed in an anthology called Night’s Nieces edited by Storm Constantine and published by Immanion Press. Copies available here: www.immanion-press.com/info/book.asp?id=483&referer=Hp

    Another piece which finally saw light this year was the first piece for the audio publishers Big Finish, when 'Freya' appeared as part of Series Four of their Confessions of Dorian Gray series. This can be ordered here: www.bigfinish.com/releases/v/the-confessions-of-dorian-gray-series-04-1195

    A further Kat Lightfoot story was written as a special Wedding favour for our guests. We published it as a short chapbook and it featured our wedding, and the guests, as Kat battles the forces of evil around us … great fun! We still have a couple of copies available for sale if anyone's interested: www.sam-stone.blogspot.co.uk/p/sam-stone-merchandise.html

    TELOS PUBLISHING

    Despite the health issues, we’ve managed to keep things moving forward at Telos, with 29 new titles coming out, plus Kindle and new POD editions of many other titles on top.

    We have lots of Romance titles there now, for those who like that, as well as more horror and non-fiction titles.

    For full details, check out our website at www.telos.co.uk.

    IN SUMMARY

    On balance, 2015 contained some superb highs – the wedding – and some dramatic lows – David’s heart attack. Overall it was good, with lots of love and laughter, but we’re hoping for a healthier 2016, with lots more fun and friends and events and good news.

    Wedding Pictures

    Here's some pics from Sam and my wedding in October 2015 :)