Dracula A.D. 1972 (United Kingdom)

(I dedicate this post to Peter Cushing, who always maintained his dignity even when his hands were full.) Moving on…no prizes for guessing which year this baby was released. T’was a leap year in horror. A vintage year for being a vampire trapped in St Bartolph’s churchyard, London. Although it feels slapdash, with its day-as-night shots, total lack of continuity and sloppy script, this film succeeds as a comic masterpiece. A bit like the Beatles disastrous Let It Be sessions, Hammer’s Dracula run-at-the-top was also nigh. Right nigh. And there was little Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee could do to stop the rot except to throw as much middle aged, Anglo-Saxon gravitas at the latest concotion they had found themselves roped into. [Read more…]

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The Train (1964 France/USA)

The concept of an ‘action’ film is the most curious, as many examples of the genre seem very static – even today where it seems that anything can be shown. A fight, car crash, explosion, etc is rehearsed, staged, simultaneously photographed and edited in a certain way that brings out and sometimes enhances the action. But, as the event is meticulously planned, rigorously controlled, sometimes or always re-shot, spontaneity cannot be part of the action, or plays a small part. The action may be impressive, but still seems unreal, too chaotic, the sense that the action is not integrated into the story and maybe even more importantly, the attitude and motivation of the characters. Most action films are far from achieving all this. [Read more…]

The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983 Britain)

Ian Richardson is a fine Holmes, even if he seems a bit too good-natured. Perhaps this was a throwback to the old Basil Rathbone Holmes persona–and it works in this context. Mr Richardson is hardly the moody Holmes of Arthur Conan Doyle…but he is definitely fun to watch. Unfortunately, Donald Churchill is not one of the great screen Watsons. He is a definite step down from his immediate predecessor, David Healy, who portrayed the good Doctor opposite Richardson in The Sign of Four. As the films were produced in the same year, by the same producer, one must wonder why Healy did not reprise the role for Hound. Instead, we are presented with a rather too blustery Watson, almost reminiscent of Nigel Bruce, though not nearly as appealing. Churchill looks the part, but not much else. [Read more…]

Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors (1965 Britain)

The first Amicus anthology movie was a sizeable hit on release, and was also liked by the critics. Producer Milton Subotsky dusted off some scripts he’d had knocking around since the late 1940s, but he didn’t make much of an effort to update them for the swinging 60s.  The linking story sees five seemingly ordinary travellers board a train. A sinister sixth traveller boards the train at the last moment. He carries with him a deck of tarot cards. Each traveller taps the cards three times and their fortunes are told. Unlike later entries in the series where everyone would willingly, without objection, subject themselves to such commitments, this opening film shows characters who have doubts or ridicule the whole thing. [Read more…]

Disclosure (1994 USA)

Plot: A computer specialist is sued for sexual harassment by a former lover-turned boss which threatens his career and personal life. His marriage. His future. It’s all on the line for DigiCom executive Tom Sanders. He rejects the passionate advance of his new boss, leading to him being charged with sexual harassment. Suddenly, long-time company man Tom must scramble for his corporate life – a scramble that will lead him into the dazzling cyberworld of DigiCom’s new virtual reality corridor…and lay bare a shocking conspiracy among key company personnel. Just show us the pictures do I hear ye cry? (Don’t worry, I will) [Read more…]

Star Trek (1966–1969)

The original Star Trek series was far ahead of its time: dealing with issues of race, sexuality, the real or potential abuse of power, humanity as well as tragedy and even comedy. The program was excellent for the first two seasons but was generally sub-par in the third where it released a string of atrocious episodes such as ‘Spock’s Brain’, mostly due to budget cuts. Ironically, if Season 3 had never been produced, the numerous Star Trek spinoffs which we take for granted today would likely never have appeared since there would have been only 55 Trek episodes in existence rather than the final 79 shows–too few to justify its syndication on TV and touch off Star Trek’s subsequent rebirth in fan popularity during the 1970’s. [Read more…]

A Free Short Story

KOORANGA COUNTRY

min-min-lights_queensland_australiaIn the north west of Australia, above the Simpson desert, it is said the desert heat can become so intense that it causes hallucinations as real as anything physical for the sufferer. The unfortunate victim never recovers their nervous system.

Emmanuel Vincent, real estate mogul extraordinaire, a man plagued with poor impulse control and stress, was finally doing what he had told his shocked wife and colleagues back in Gemini Bay, England.

He was on a mission into the outback. Ten thousand miles from home. [Read more…]

Nineteen Eighty Four (George Orwell)

1984-14This is the definitive novel of the 20th century. The impact of this book has been immense. Think of all the Orwellian catchphrases that are now embedded into the English language: Thought Police, Double Think, News Speak, Thought Crime, Room 101, Big Brother Is Watching You. Unperson. Two Minute Hate. Not many books can boast this. No wonder the author has been turned into a secular saint. [Read more…]

Bedazzled (1967 Britain)

Groovy art for the Japanese poster for Bedazzled.Bedazzled just gets better as the years go by, especially after the fiasco of the Liz Hurley remake. It embodies all of the anarchic playfulness, the growing contempt for any authority (in this case, even God), and the tremendous rush of optimism manifest by pop culture and bright, colourful fashion of the surreal 1960s. The film is strangely sad and creepy too. [Read more…]

A Hard Day’s Night (1964 USA/UK)

4951e6be-2181-4660-8fcd-bb41f0493f00_f_rOjpUlDpHJl5C2vkrpl9mduNmXKKUe45FFNWtxKoH“I thought I was supposed to be getting a change of scenery, and so far I’ve been in a train and a room and car and a room and a room and a room!” You tell em, Grampa. Irish actor Wilfred Brambell works very well in this landmark musical, a much needed focal point in a screenplay that requires some bearings in order to work. [Read more…]

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