Monday, 12 March 2012

Temporary Hiatus

Right, I'm off on holiday, so this weblog will be closed for about three weeks. At this point, when I say I'll be back on April 1st, you may think I'm joking. I am not joking. 'Mounds & Circles' will also be closed for the duration. In the meantime, please feel free to guess at which film this crappy screen shot of Peter Cushing comes from.


Paul (U-W)

Sunday, 11 March 2012


‘Incense For The Damned’ is a film of contrasts: it’s annoying and boring. As a yardstick of just how badly it all turned out, Robert Hartford-Davis (the director of ‘Gonks Go Beat’) actually tried to have his name removed from it. In the end, it was delayed for a couple of years, re-edited (seemingly with a bread knife in the dark) by the studio and stuck out for a couple of weeks in 1970 as a supporting feature before disappearing, only re-emerging in the 1990’s as a BBC1 Friday night film favourite (I have a theory that the regular showing of this film is a Corporation in-joke).

Based on the book ‘Doctors Wear Scarlet’ by Simon Raven, ‘Incense…' (also known as ‘Bloodsuckers’) tells the story of a promising Oxford Classics student (Patrick Mower, the walking nostril) who has an illustrious academic career and a good marriage all mapped out for him by his mentor (Peter Cushing, wasted) until he embarks on a field trip to Crete where he becomes the mindless suck bag of a busty Mediterranean vampire, Chriesis (Imogen Hassall, slathered in so much fake tan that she looks like permanently dirty 'Playschool' doll Hamble).

Cushing sends two men to bring Mower home and, before you know it, there’s a whole lot of donkey riding, a papier mache rock slide and a near seven minute orgy scene with a freakbeat soundtrack that is probably the best part of the film but does not appear in all the versions. Ultimately, busty vampire dispatched, Mower is returned to Oxford, only to prove publicly and bloodily that vampirism is not cured by simply a good talking to and a change of scenery…

Not a good film by any standards, one can only hope that the cast and crew enjoyed their holiday. Here's the best bit...

Incense For The Damned AKA Bloodsuckers

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Not A Woman's Picture

We’ve looked at the oeuvre of director Robert Hartford-Davis before: he’s a bit of a sleaze meister. ‘Corruption’ (1968) is the film in which Hartford-Davis falls into the muck and mire again but, this time, as he stumbles, clutches at the sleeve of Peter Cushing and dumps him in the shit as well.

Cushing plays Sir John Rowan, a brilliant and eminent surgeon: dedicated, hard-working, precise, correct at all times. Well, not quite all the time, as crafty Sir John has a dolly bird girlfriend and a wardrobe full of natty neckerchiefs to show that’s he’s not quite the cube we thought he was. It’s actually quite shocking to see the fifty five year old Peter Cushing ardently pressing his dessicated lips against his much younger love interest Lyn (Sue Lloyd) and pestering her for car sex, but it gets a lot worse and doesn’t get any better.

Lyn is fond of Sir John but sees him as a safe bet: he’ll provide security and status whilst she continues her groovy model lifestyle. Unfortunately, Sir John gets into a jealous rage at a swinging party and, during a violent tussle with Anthony Booth (who wouldn’t want to smack him?) a halogen lamp falls onto Lyn and before you can say ‘does anyone smell bacon?’ her pretty face and fabulous career are ruined.

Sir John isn’t the sort of man to let a little setback like a sizzled face put him off, however, and spurred on by an increasingly unhinged Lyn he packs in his job and takes to experimenting with pituitary glands to effect tissue regeneration. At first he is successful with the glands from dead women but the rejuvenating effects are temporary and it is with horror that he realises he must kill to get the living tissue required for a long term solution…

And kill he does. In a prostitute’s parlour, in a train carriage, on a beach as the tide comes in. In fact, he can’t stop killing and we are presented with the dismal spectacle of the usually immaculate Cushing, his eyes darting guiltily from side to side, sweating and slashing and descending into hell. It’s actually pretty unpleasant.

The film ends almost on a non-sequiter as a sinister group of hippies (including a gurning David Lodge with stick on sideburns) break into Sir John and Lyn’s holiday home and proceed to terrorise them in scenes that seem taken from another film entirely but, deus ex machina like, swiftly navigate the narrative to a violent end as, yes, there’s a laser scalpel in the spare room that goes out of control and everybody, yes, everybody, is sliced, diced and left a smouldering corpse. The End.

Cushing tries his best here but, ultimately, just like Sir John, all his huffing, puffing and utter degradation just leads to a humiliating loss of face. Hartford-Davis didn’t know any better, of course, and watching this and the films he made later in his career, it becomes apparent that he didn’t want to know any better. Billed as a film to which women would not be admitted unless accompanied by a man, even the promotional campaign is vintage Hartford-Davis: it’s crass, sensational, misogynistic and it doesn’t make any sense…


Friday, 9 March 2012



'The Wheeltappers & Shunters Social Club' ran on ITV for five series between 1974 and 1979. Set in a fake working man's club in Blackpool, it basically showcased the sort of 'turns' one could expect at a real WMC, for better or worse.

Some of the acts were on the way up (Cannon & Ball; The Krankies), many were indisputably on the way down (Johnny Ray; Kathy Kirby), some were down but not out (Roy Orbison). Most, however, were at their level and, apart from these brief appearances on the telly, would do the circuit until they gave up or gave out.

Here's Lonnie Donegan doing his best (not particularly good) Tom Jones. It is an interesting feature of the show that the star turns seem to resist doing they're best known for. In this case, Lonnie doesn't do any skiffling whatsoever, which is really the least you'd expect if you'd paid good money to see him. I like his outfit, though, just not sure where I would wear something like that.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

F**** Me, It's Freddie

FMIF as the villainous Robard in 'Bodyguards', a 1973 episode of 'The Protectors'.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

The Protectors

'The Protectors’ was the first Gerry Anderson TV show not to feature puppets or elaborate special effects, and his only non-fantasy show. A fairly standard ITC product, it features international intrigue and action in cosmopolitan climes (mainly Buckinghamshire and Malta, by the looks of it, although Paris and Rome also make appearances).

Former ‘Man from UNCLE’ (and current 'Coronation Street' star) Robert Vaughan stars as smooth Harry Rule, the leader of a mysterious bunch of adventurers and detectives who are there (presumably for a considerable fee, it’s not a cheap operation) when the innocent are in trouble. His right hand woman is the Contessa (Nyree Dawn Porter), a seriously rich Italian lady who is secretly in love with him (the feeling is mutual, but they’re always too busy fighting crime to act upon it). They are supported by handsome, neckerchiefed Frenchman, Paul Buchet (Tony Anholt), and, according to the credits, a mysterious figure in a fedora who I always presumed to be the Boss but whose identity is never revealed.

Only twenty five minutes in length, the episodes avoid some of the languor of the longer format ITC shows, but tend to be slightly chaotic and nonsensical. That said, they can be quite exciting and for lovers of kitsch the fashions, furnishings, cars and back projection are a constant delight. The soundtrack too is cracking – from the fantastic theme song, 'Avenues & Alleyways’, to some really great pieces of library music underscoring the numerous car chase, gun fight, safe cracking and disco sequences. Here's the brilliant Tony Christie performing the song on German telly, doing his best to inject some energy into a perfomance where, inexplicably, the audience are facing the wrong way.

'The Protectors' is a show I always enjoy for all sorts of reasons, and its final disappearance from syndication some time in the nineteen nineties left a daft gap that has never been adequately plugged by other stuff.

Monday, 5 March 2012

Trapped In Wax

The Gallery of Sporting Heroes: Yuri Gargarin (sportsman?); a pensive Steve Davis; a sinister Sir Francis Chichester; Barry Sheene & Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards. More top quality waxen images from Louis Tussauds.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

This is Not The Universe

I've started a new blog called 'This Is Not The Universe', for no other reason than to have somewhere to fly-tip the various idiotic thoughts I have on subjects that don't fit onto either this blog or 'Mounds & Circles'.

It may not be updated that much, but I will be using it semi-regularly, so please follow it or bookmark it or whatever if you think it's something that may be of interest to you.

Thanks, Paul (U-W)

The Original Caped Crusader

'A Study in Terror’ was the first film to feature Sherlock Holmes investigating the horrific crimes of Jack the Ripper, although it wouldn’t be the last (the 1978 film ‘Murder By Decree’ does more or less the same thing, but with more money, more international stars and a more convoluted conspiracy theory).

It’s a good, solid film, made with care, with a great cast of decent and dependable British actors. John Neville delivers all the public expect from Conan-Doyle’s most famous creation, including attitude, a strong nose, piercing eyes and a deer stalker hat. Donald Houston’s Dr. Watson is a bit nondescript, but then I tend to find Donald Houston a bit nondescript, although I’m sure he was a lovely bloke and all that. 

The film also features bubbly, little Barbara Windsor as the ill-fated Annie Chapman. She’s so good at screaming it’s a real shame that she didn’t feature in more horror films.

Interesting 'Batman' cash in poster, as well, presumably from 1966, the year of Adam West.

A Study In Terror

Saturday, 3 March 2012


'The Hound Of The Baskervilles' was the perfect Sherlock Holmes story for Hammer to adapt, the most gothic and bloodthirsty of Arthur Conan-Doyle's tales. Even so, the ante was upped with the introduction of deadly tarantulas, a female villain, lots of gunplay and a webbed hand.

Peter Cushing makes for a brilliant Holmes - waspish, good humoured, bright eyed - but perceptive and ready to act at all times. Andre Morell is a pretty good Doctor Watson, too, quiet, reliable, handy with a pistol. The film is directed by the supremely capable Terence Fisher, and moves along briskly and convincingly, and the story is adapted well and slightly sexed up without the need for a load of bullshit about hallucogenic gas and mind palaces that so marred the recent TV adaptation / reinterpretation.

The Hound Of The Baskervilles

Friday, 2 March 2012


In 1979, Milton Reid took time out of his busy schedule to star as a heavy in not one, but two David Sullivan produced smut films. He needn't have bothered, they're both pathetic.

Here he is in 'Confessions From The David Galaxy Affair' and 'Queen of the Blues', respectively. He wears exactly the same costume in both films.

Milton fact: his middle name was Rutherford.