War Gods Of The Deep (1965 UK/USA)

Also known as City Under The Sea but I prefer the above title. Ah, the good old days of sci-fi/fantasy flicks: watching well dressed men sit around sipping Brandy in a study (walnut panelling of course) while the rocket/ship/sub/plane is carrying them to an amazing destination or fate. Taking its theme from an Edgar Allan Poe poem, with an interesting screenplay by Charles Bennett, this fantasy picture packs thrills, weird monsters, a lively pace and fantastic scenarios–all located undersea obviously. The film also seems to be a scrapbook of ideas from other, better, movies like the Roger Corman Poe films, and The Time Machine.
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Night Of The Living Dead (1968 USA)

Along with “Carnival of Souls” and “Dementia 13” this movie stands out as one of the definitive black-and-white horror films of the bygone drive-in movie era. Night ranks among the scariest horror films, partly for raising the bar on gore. Yet raising the bar far higher has made later horror movies far less scary. By the 1980s, horror movies were gore-splattered freak shows with expensive puppets, and now they’re freak shows with digital characters that seem to belong in video games. “Night of the Living Dead,” by contrast, looks like a very cheap documentary. One that cost a mere one hundred and twelve thousand bucks.
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Domain (James Herbert)

This novel is better in every way than its predecessors and could be read as a stand alone. However, reading all three gives you the ongoing story of the evolution of the Rats and the twists this takes are genuinely shocking. Herbert’s style may be a bit pulpy for some and some of his characters nothing more than stereotypes but like many enjoyable Hollywood films, what it lacks in depth it more than makes up for in high impact thrills. The author has added a little more depth and intrigue to the characters, missing in the first two, this time round.
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Khartoum (1966 Britain)

This has to be one of the most splendid films ever to come out of Pinewood Studios. Khartoum depicts the last chapter in the remarkable life of Gen. Charles “Chinese” Gordon; another one of those larger-than-life-personages seemingly produced uniquely by Victorian England; such as Sir Richard Francis Burton (1821-1890) or T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia). To that last personage is the best comparison as they were both considered the best commanders of “irregular” forces of their respective times. And like Lawrence of Arabia this film barely scrapes the surface of the man’s life but they couldn’t make it three times longer could they? [Read more…]

The Great Pursuit (Tom Sharpe)

The story of a publisher, Frensic, who convinces an unimaginative would-be author, Peter Piper, to pretend authorship of a wildly successful, pornographic novel. It’s a funny book, though not riotously so. Its plot is devious and twisted, but though there’s sex and a riot and some explosions, it seems restrained compared to other Sharpe books. The story twists and turns its way to a delicious conclusion. The book’s closing sections are hilarious. Heartily recommended to anyone who likes a laugh and enjoys seeing pomposity punctured.
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Ripping Yarns (1976–1979 Britain)

Ripping Yarns is Michael Palin at his best, delivering a one–man tour de force. This is even better than the Monty Python series, which has dated horribly and contains more misses than hits. But Ripping Yarns is still a spiffing good piece of television, even in this 21st century of ours. My personal favourite is Murder At Moorstones Manor, an Agatha Christie–like plot in an English country manor setting that gradually whittles down its cast at the point of a gun. The brilliant shambles of an ending denies the curious viewer the answer to whodunnit.
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Crooked House (2008 UK)

A BBC Christmas revival of the format that had lain dormant since 1980s US revivals “Creepshow” and “Tales from the Darkside”. Written by actor and writer Mark Gatiss – no slouch when it comes to knowledge of the macabre side of the silver screen as his “History of Horror” documentaries proved – here are 3 tales involving the history of foreboding Geap Manor, relayed by a sinister museum curator (Gatiss) to a schoolteacher (Lee Ingleby). [Read more…]

The Eiger Sanction (USA 1975)

A retired assassin, resigned to a life as an art professor and collector, one Jonathan Hemlock (Clint Eastwood) reluctantly agrees to take on the task of one last “sanction” when he learns that the targets are responsible for the death of an old friend. Discovering that one of the killers is among an expedition to climb the Eiger, he must discern the identity of the target and take him out, all whilst scaling the deadliest mountain in all of Europe. He must also show off his physique, know his wines and encounter some mean bitches along the way. In other words, Clint must try to be James Bond–but he doesn’t have that certain je ne sais quoi.
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The Outsiders (S. E. Hinton)

This is for any reader who goes weak at the knees for a group of tragic boys with tragic pasts who are outwardly dangerous and feared, but are actually soft marshmallows underneath and love each other more than life–and would die for each other. Yes, its another book about sensitive teenage boys who alternately get into gang fights, hug one another and burst into tears. Then there’s the tight T shirts and lots of muscle admiring. Even though they’re always complimenting each other’s pretty hair and doing gymnastics, it’s not gay at all because it takes place in 1965, shortly after James Dean had made crying and homoerotic tension cool. [Read more…]

Die, Monster, Die! (1965 USA)

The original script for this adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out Of Space was so bad, written by Jerry Sohl, that the crew behind the camera could not stop giggling. At one point, actress Freida Jackson, wailed: “I can’t speak these lines. They’re unspeakable!” So director Daniel Haller had to rework the narrative mess. Despite his surgery, unintentional laughter remains. During an absurdly tense meal time scene, a servant collapses to the floor–taking the tablecloth and cutlery with him. Inspector Clouseau couldn’t have done it better.
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