Saturday, 28 April 2012

Trapped In Wax

A jaundiced looking Sweeney Todd makes some more pie filling. Throat slitting fun at Louis Tussaud's.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Beasts: Baby

'Baby' is the fourth episode of Nigel Kneale's 1976 ITV series 'Beasts'. I also think it's the best.

When a young married couple move into an old cottage they are surprised to find a sealed pot in the chimney breast containing, well, no-one can really tell, not even the husband who is a vet. They both agree it's pretty horrible, though, especially the pregnant wife, who feels it is something unspeakably evil that must be destroyed.

Local yokels working on the cottage fill in the details: it's a witches familiar, a nasty creature conjured up by black magic - and it needs getting rid of, fast, before its owner comes to collect it...

The creepiest episode in the series, it does what Kneale does best: slowly and surely building tension and foreboding before providing a terrifying and chilling denouement. The first time I saw this I actually had to turn the light on before I went to bed. Luckily, when I did, there was nothing being suckled in the corner of the room. 

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Valerie Leon, Lesbian

Valerie Leon as Miss Hampton, a sapphic masseuse in the rotten smutter 'Can You Keep It Up For A Week?' (1975).

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Conceived By The Devil

As you might guess from the poster, ‘I Don’t Want To Be Born’ is ridiculous.

Joan Collins is a stripper in a crappy nightclub (in a parallel universe, Joan was a stripper in a crappy nightclub). For some reason, her dancing companion is a dwarf called Samson who, of course, fancies her. When she rejects his advances he curses her with the immortal words “You will have a baby...a monster! An evil monster conceived inside your womb! As big as I am small and possessed by the devil himself!"

It’s never explained quite what Samson’s credentials are to make such a statement, but it works, and soon Joan is giving birth to a 12lb baby who proceeds to scratch, bite, punch and head butt any adult stupid enough to look into its cot, before moving on to murder. Luckily there’s a nun in the family who is able to exorcise the unholy tot, but she’s too late to save the rest of the cast, who have been drowned, hanged, decapitated and stabbed with scissors en route.

The notion that a new born baby could beat and murder the adults who care for it is an interesting one: I mean, okay, even if it was possessed by the Devil and able to draw upon unnatural strength, what about the co-ordination and manual dexterity needed to, say, make a noose, sling it over a branch and hang an adult with it? I know babies, and they’re just far too floppy for all that. Even Damien didn’t start causing real problems until he was a toddler. So, yes, it’s ridiculous. Actually, it’s fucking ridiculous. I love it

I Don't Want To Be Born

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Best Tasted Cold?

'Revenge' is pretty tough going. It all takes place in the aftermath of that most heinous of crimes, the abduction, rape and murder of a child and, not surprisingly, this hangs over the film like a dark pall of cloying, choking black smoke.

When the chief suspect is released without charge, the bereaved family take the law into their own hands - they kidnap the man, beat him up, and tie him to a chair in a pub cellar. They haven't the nerve to kill him, however, so, as time passes, the insidious presence of the man begins to pull the family apart, especially when he is able to start sowing seeds of doubt about his guilt...

Beefy James Booth plays the father, Joan Collins the new stepmother who has a simmering, dangerous relationship with her grown up stepson. The most difficult part is that of the suspected molester / murderer, played here with sleazy, wheedling aplomb by Kenneth Griffith. Griffith, with his milk bottle specs, bad teeth and flasher mac, is a loathsome creature, a stereotypical kiddie fiddler - if you can be certain that he is the murderer, that is - if not, he could just be another sad, lonely misfit in ill-fitting, badly made 70's clothes.

A film that raises some interesting questions, 'Revenge' is downbeat and deadly serious. The world it portrays reminds me of 'The Offence', a shadowy, terrifying place where justice and injustice are hard to tell apart, where pleasures are warm beer, sixty Embassy Number One's a day and Joan Collins in her bra and pants, where violence is contagious, and the overwhelming desire to smash something or someone into atoms is both a symptom of the disease and the cure.

Produced by 'Carry On' mogul Peter Rogers, perhaps this grim offering was (along with 'Assault') his way of getting as far away as possible from the franchise that paid his mortgage. If it was, it worked: unless you have a very odd sense of humour, you'd have to look forever with an electron microscope to locate a thin smile here, let alone a titter or a hyuk yuk yuk.


Thursday, 19 April 2012

Trapped In Wax

Peter Sutcliffe, The Yorkshire Ripper, perennially on the prowl at Louis Tussaud's.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Dr. Who: The Time Warrior

As regular readers will have surmised. Jon Pertwee era 'Doctor Who' is as good as it gets for me, so it's slightly painful to admit that 'The Time Warrior', the first story in Pertwee's last season as the Doctor, seems tired and sluggish, short of steam and excitement, the beginning of the end of an era.

Set in Medieval times, it introduces the squat, ugly Sontarans in the form of Major Linx, a hugely resourceful, massively arrogant, splendidly aggressive soldier who has the misfortune to get lost en route to a war and be thrown back in time and space to Merry Olde England. Before you can say 'Oi, Toadface' he's giving the natives guns and stealing scientists from the 20th century to help him repair his ship. Of course it would be better to steal scientists from, say, the 22nd or 23rd century, but it apparently doesn't work that way and I suppose if he'd done that then the Doctor wouldn't have been able to step in and sort him out.

It's not rubbish, by any means, it just seems a bit jaded - and even the marvellous, indefatigable Pertwee seems a bit out of shape and out of sorts. On the plus side, it has Dot Cotton being a Medieval Lady and heralds the arrival of Miss Sarah Jane Smith - an important character whose continuing presence would help me get over the loss of one Doctor and slowly get used to the next.