The Lost Horizon (James Hilton)

In the early 1930s four people, two British political officials, a British missionary woman and an American financier, escape the political unrest in Baskul, China by boarding a plane, bound for Peshawar. The plane, however, has been hijacked and eventually crash lands deep in the far reaches of the Tibetan Himalayas. Seeking shelter, the group soon finds themselves in the valley of the blue moon, guests at a lamasery, a place named…Shangri-La! This classic novel clips along in eleven short chapters making it pleasingly easy to read and absorb.
[Read more…]

Advertisements

The House On The Borderland (William Hope Hodgson)

Writing as he did at the beginning of the 20th century, Hodgson’s creativity in the realm of supernatural horror is impressive given what few authors preceded him in the genre. He actually broke new ground in horror fiction. Moving beyond the ghost stories which had, for the most part, made up the genre before him, he created landscapes and creatures that are gigantic in their physical and temporal dimensions. His universe is far older and larger than human and earth-centered histories allow, and subject to forces and intelligence completely removed from human concerns or anthropomorphized deity. H P Lovecraft was an admirer and its probable that his infamous Cthulu mythos creations were based on Hodgson’s ideas.
[Read more…]

The Shadow Of The Cat (United Kingdom 1961)

A Hammer horror in all but name (Hammer removed its name from the credits due to legal quota reasons) which supported The Curse Of The Werewolf on a double bill. It is masterfully directed by John Gilling, who succeeds in wringing suspense and tension from a not very believable plot. If the film has any flaws it is because giggles do occasionally set in when the actors go over the top in their hysterical reaction to puss. The police inspector rather neatly sums it all up: “Things really come to pass when a cat terrorizes a house full of adults.” [Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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…]

%d bloggers like this: