Monday, 29 August 2016
Sunday, 28 August 2016
Friday, 26 August 2016
Michael Hordern in an M.R. James ghost story, directed by Jonathan Miller. What's not to like? Beautifully unnerving although I kept expecting Hordern to exclaim "Bear!".
Nope-Tober: Random Shit for an Ill-disciplined Mind
I wouldn't be surprised if The Stone Tape had an influence on The League of Gentlemen as the engineers bore an uncanny resemblance to the LoG plastics company workers Geoff, Mike and Brian.
Warning: this programme contains an odious little shit!
Another series and another Professor Quatermass, this time it's André Morell and, compared to the log-like performance of John Robinson, he's a breath of fresh air. He is the definitive Quatermass.
Quatermass's military nemesis, Colonel Breen (played wonderfully by Anthony Bushell), is a blustering and uptight arsehole but I love him and his "Speckled Jim" style tirades. Baah! British character stalwart and frequent tavern keeper, Michael Ripper pops up as a shouty army sergeant.
The special effects and set design are the best yet. Simple and very effective.
Tense as hell and filled with occult references and supernatural dread. The best of the Quatermass serials and an absolute classic that everyone should try to watch. This series must have terrified TV audiences back in the late 50s!
Thursday, 25 August 2016
This is the film that Quentin Tarantino has been trying to make for the last 25 years.
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
After the death of Reginald Tate, John Robinson takes up the titular role but, unfortunately, isn't a patch on Tate and his delivery is stilted and lacking warmth and enthusiasm, at least until later episodes. He's also got this weird habit of looking upwards while delivering his lines. In fact, Quatermass is outshone by his assistant Dr. Pugh, played by Welsh actor Hugh Griffith.
A few other notes:
- The title music is brilliant!
- At one point a tramp (played by Steptoe & Son's Wilfrid Brambell) asks Quatermass "You're a funny fellow with stones, aren't you?". Well, Kneale does seem to have a bit of a stone fetish: meteorites, stone walls, standing stones!
- The zombie soldiers are, unintentionally, hilarious!
- There's a healthy distrust of government and bureaucracy.
- Some lovely miniature sets.
- Quatermass's daughter seems to have had a whole bucket full of "received pronunciation" poured down her throat.
- The spacesuits, although still quite ragged, are much better this time around and look less like welder's gear.
- There's a rather nice illustration of Newton's 3rd law of motion in the 6th episode!
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
An above average, polished and progressive slasher/thriller starring Michael Ironside as a quietly scary killer with Mummy issues. Lee Grant as the stalked reporter can sometimes come over as a little shrill and Ellen "The Exorcist" Burstyn-like but she carries the moral heart of the film well. Linda Purl provides strong support as a nurse and mother.
Long Weekend is beautiful, ugly and horrific in equal measure.
The Blu-Ray from Synapse is the best I've seen this film. Even the new 5.1 mix works really well and enhances the subtle sound design rather than smashing you in the face with surround-sound gimmickry. The original stereo soundtrack is also available on the disc.
"What've you been doing to the tree?"
"Chopping it down"
Monday, 22 August 2016
Nigel Kneale's script really captures post-war pioneering science, cold war fear and cosmic horror but grounds it all with large doses of humanity. Reginald Tate is perfect as the scientific evangelist, Professor Bernard Quatermass and there's some great studio-based set design. The programme is pretty tense in a knob-twiddling, oscilloscope-wobbling kind of way and contains an almost Lovecraftian fear of the unknown.
Unfortunately, only the first two episodes survive and it's extremely unlikely that any recordings will ever be found of the missing four episodes.
Jolly good fun, chaps!
Sunday, 21 August 2016
The identity of the killer was a little obvious but overall the Prowler ticks all the right slasher boxes. One question: where does Rosemary's killer keep his roses?
I also found my promo copy of the Stiff Little Fingers concert film "See You Up There" and my boot copy of "The Way We Were" the Channel4 punk comp of performances from the Granada show "So It Goes" and DOA, the Sex Pistols in the US film and a load of other punk and hardcore tapes!
All now back in the attic apart from Street Trash which is now proudly on my shelves :)
Friday, 19 August 2016
WARNING: This film contains the weirdest, most inappropriate and lecherous mortuary technicians ever!
"She was asking for it. Going around flaunting herself. It's as if they want to be bitten." -- Mortuary technician
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Tuesday, 16 August 2016
"Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement." -- Black Lives Matter (2015)
Messy, egotistical, uncomfortable, meandering, funny, brave, chaotic, experimental, brutal, raw, guerilla, ground-breaking, important and with an Earth, Wind and Fire (written by Van Peebles himself) jazz-funk score that is fucking amazing!
Saturday, 13 August 2016
Friday, 12 August 2016
For a man who was reported to dislike science-fiction, Tarkovsky sure creates amazing sci-fi films. All good science fiction, even the hard sci-fi that I love, should, at its very heart, tell us something about ourselves and Tarkovsky is a master of portraying the many facets of humanity, even within a construct that he loathes.
Solaris is a Nietzschean sci-fi in which Tarkovsky seems to ask three questions:
1) How important is it to face your fears and regrets as, in the process, we can either transform them into something wonderful or let them consume us.
2) Should science should be tempered by morality or does this limit our progress. This is exemplified by Kelvin's twin angels/demons of Dr Snaut (science tempered by morality) on one shoulder and Doktor Sartorius (unbound scientific exploration) on the other. How we deal with a something is just as important, if not more so, than the end product itself.
3) Is humanity defined by our memories and experiences or is there something greater?
There are a few little things that really popped out, to me at least:
I loved how Tarkovsky makes a comparison between the hive-like city with its roads, cars and noise and the reflecting, intelligent ocean on Solaris.
The differences between the Solaris and 2001 space stations reminded me of the apocryphal cosmonaut pencil story:
"During the height of the space race in the 1960s, legend has it, NASA scientists realised that pens could not function in space. They needed to figure out another way for the astronauts to write things down. So they spent years and millions of taxpayer dollars to develop a pen that could put ink to paper without gravity. But their crafty Soviet counterparts, so the story goes, simply handed their cosmonauts pencils."
The intermittently featured Bruegel painting. Bruegel was also a master at portraying humanity in its many, sometimes unflattering, forms.
As Nietzsche wrote "For when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.", but surely if we destroy the mirror, how do we recognise ourselves?
It's ridiculous that The Masque of the Red Death is still not available as a UK Blu-Ray - this was the German Koch Media Blu and the picture and sound quality was great.
Sic transit gloria mundi
Thursday, 11 August 2016
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known."
"Joy, beautiful spark of divinity,
Daughter from Elysium,
We enter, drunk with fire,
Heavenly, thy sanctuary!
Your magics join again
What custom strictly divided;
All people become brothers,
Where your gentle wing abides."
Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Friday, 5 August 2016
Thursday, 4 August 2016
Afraid of the Dark features a top-notch list of British actors (James Fox, Paul McGann, David Thewlis, Rosalind Knight, Hilary Mason, Sheila Burrell, Robert Stephens, and ...drum roll... Catriona MacColl!). Terrific!
What could have been a really interesting portrayal of the disintegration of a relationship because of paranoia, isolation and distrust is quickly shat down the drain in favour of one of the most obvious storylines I've seen in recent years (the identity of the "natives" is given out in the first ten minutes).
Animal masks... again? Really?