Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Monday, 30 May 2011

Big Plastic Heads

I don't know whether these are scarier than the mannequins from 'Spearhead From Space', all I know is that they scare me. They're bad news, basically.

Terror Target

Some illustrations from the Target adaptation of 'Terror Of The Autons'. The bottom picture of the Nestene is something that was completely beyond the budget of the TV show, and is a wholly original creation.

Dr. Who: Terror of the Autons

'Terror Of The Autons' was the first story of Jon Pertwee's second series as The Doctor, and it introduced two of the show's most memorable characters, plucky Jo Grant and the Doctor's arch enemy, former friend and fellow Timelord, The Master.

The story itself is very good: The Master comes to Earth and immediately sets about trying to destroy it, seemingly for fun and just to annoy The Doctor. He is aided and abetted in his mission by The Nestene Consciousness from 'Spearhead From Space' and, of course, by the various lumps of plastic that the Nestene can bring to life and program to kill. In the Auton world, everything is deadly: toys, flowers, phones, policemen, chairs. I can't say I remember watching this at the time, but I can only imagine it was fairly terrifying, in a fun sort of way, and shoddy special effects aside it's certainly it's one of the most entertaining of all the Pertwee stories.   

The Master is a fantastic creation: an old school super villain with an incredible intellect and absolutely no conscience whatsoever. The Doctor always beats him in the end, but it's usually pretty close. Roger Delgado is a fine actor - smooth, courteous, deadly - and his arrival gave an already good show a further boost. I also like Katy Manning as Jo Grant, one of the most personable of the Doctor's assistants, and a great screamer. 

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Derren Nesbitt, Actor

Derren Nesbitt listens intently as German Austin Powers-a-gram Groski in 'The Old, the New & The Deadly', a 1971 episode of 'The Persuaders'. 

A Mole Dies Very Easily

More from 'Out Of Town' and the inimitable Jack Hargreaves (actually, he can be imitated, I do it all the time). 'The Moley Man' could be straight out of a nasty fairytale, despite being so nice and old and quiet and harmless looking. Harmless to human kind that is: to the humble Talpidae he's the flipping Terminator.

The casual cruelty of the countryside is much in evidence here. I  don't know what's more disturbing: the  information that you can kill a mole simply by tapping it hard on the nose, or the fact that somebody has obviously tried it out and been pleasantly surprised by the result. I get the feeling I'm going to be dreaming about the Moley Man tonight, assuming, of course, that I can get to sleep at all.

Tons Of Practically Useless Flesh

In a bit of a change of scenery from the concrete spires and rotundas of Brum, here's Jack Hargreaves out in the country doing what he does best, i.e. looking at big veg and sinking a pint.

'Out Of Town' ran between 1963 to 1981, with subject matter ranging from fishing to farming to hobbies and horses, dogs, hunting, handicrafts, fetes, foxes, birds, carts, moles, lobsters and charcoal burners: a staggering variety of country pursuits recorded for posterity as they began to slowly die out. This report is from 1978, concluded with an insert added in the late eighties. Typical of the gentle, slightly wry approach of the show, it's a charming eight minute report on a small village and the things that knit it together: gigantic gourds.

There is, by the way, a good reason why this film is an appropriate sequel to the Telly Savalas post, but you'll have to watch it all the way through to see it.

Things to note: the people; the knitwear; some of the trousers and, most of all, the faces: forget the cardigans and the flares, these people's faces would have been equally at home at a witch burning, or a joust, or a battle with the Vikings.

I also like Jack's sign off, and the rather abrupt way he cuts off his stream of consciousness. He's a busy man: he can't sit here all day jabbering about the size of onions.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Telly Looks At...Architecture

More Midlands moments preserved for posterity in 'Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham'. This time, it's some of the striking modern buildings associated with the city that have earned it the nickname 'the Brasilia of Britain'.

I made that Brasilia bit up. Sorry, I just got excited. What does Telly say? 'You feel like you've been projected into the 21st century'. Can't argue with that, as most of these buildings are still there.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Fantastic News

Here's notification of a superb event in Bradford on the 10th, 11th and 12th of June, the 10th Annual Fantastic Films Weekend.

Basically three days of the sort of TV and Cinema that drives this weblog and, I hope, your desire to look at it, it offers many, many pleasures, including the opportunity to watch such Hammer classics as 'Plague Of The Zombies', 'Legend Of The Seven Golden Vampires', 'Hands Of The Ripper', 'Countess Dracula' and The Karnstein Trilogy on the big screen, as well as the chance to ask Peter Sasdy (who directed 'Hands' and 'Countess', plus episodes of the Hammer House Of Horror on TV, plus 'The Stone Tape', ffs) a few questions, like 'you're a genius, how does that feel?' and 'what's Oliver Tobias really like?'.

TV wise, as well as the aforementioned 'Stone Tape', there's also a screening of the 1954 Nigel Kneale scripted BBC adaptation of '1984', a truly seminal piece of broadcasting history, as well as Jonathan Miller's semi-psychedelic 'Alice In Wonderland' and some interesting looking documentaries.

Programme is available via this link, I'll see you there.

Bowie, Knife

Here's a fairly lengthy clip from the aforementioned 'The Image' which will give you the gist. Director Armstrong described it as 'a study of the illusionary reality within the schizophrenic mind of the artist at his point of creativity', although I'm sure you could have worked that out for yourselves, you're intelligent and discerning people.

David Bowie's acting skills are often the target of some mockery, but I'll give this to him: he does baleful and creepy very well indeed.

Evil Secret

‘The Haunted House of Horror’ is a 1969 proto slasher film from the under-rated Tigon Studios. Not a bad effort, it contrasts some fairly irritating scenes of actors in their mid-twenties pretending to be hip young teens with some quite satisfying scenes of the same actors being gorily murdered, or stabbed in the crotch. The cast is ‘mixed ability’ to say the least: teen idol who never was Mark Wynter, Richard O’Sullivan, Dennis Price and Frankie Avalon (the unlucky recipient of the groin focused cutlery).

The film was directed by Michael Armstrong, whose previous work had included a short called ‘The Image’ which provided David Bowie with his first screen role. Apparently, Dave was lined up to play the psychotic killer in this film, but was dropped before shooting started. Pity, as that would have been rather interesting.

Stop Press: This film is actually on TV tomorrow morning, BBC2 at 2.25am. I now think I may be a clairvoyant as I wrote the above post and scheduled it for today about three months ago.

The Haunted House of Horror

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Boiling Rage

I live about thirty minutes drive away from Derbyshire and, when I get chance, I like to visit the county's amazing show caves. I must have been twenty times over the years and on every single occasion I've thought of 'Trog'.

'Trog' is a fantastically entertaining film. When the missing link is discovered in a cave, anthropologist Dr. Beckton (Joan Crawford, in her last role) trains it to play with dolls, balls and, eventually, with the aid of an operation, to form simple words. Trog is at heart a beast, however, and every little thing that bothers him ends up smashed, chucked or dead. When he escapes (with the aid of shit stirring Christian nut job Michael Gough) it can only end one way: he's going out like Konga, in a hail of army bullets.

I unashamedly love this film. There are too many high points to provide a definitive list, but the long sodium pentathol sequence, where a whacked out Trog has a dubious flashback in which he watches dinosaurs fight, become extinct and the coming of the Ice Age (events a mere sixty odd million years apart) truly has to be seen to be believed.

Director? Freddie Francis: the patron saint of this weblog.


Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Prisoner: The Schizoid Man

‘The Schizoid Man’  is probably my favourite episode of ‘The Prisoner’.  In it, we get two Patrick McGoohan’s for the price of one, the result of yet another attempt by the authorities to break down the unbreakable Number Six, this time by drugging him and conditioning him to think that he is someone else entirely, a lookalike agent brought to The Village to impersonate himself. The actual lookalike agent is already living as Number Six, which only adds to the confusion.

I feel like I haven’t explained that very well but it’s brilliant telly, very clever, and McGoohan, as usual, gives a performance that is deeply rational, very believable and completely barking.