Saturday, 30 April 2011

DOCTOR WHO 6.02 - The Day of the Moon

Scanners indicate an absence of spoilers!

A recurring problem with the two part stories in new Who is that after a cracking opening episode that builds up the tension, suspense and excitement, the follow-up resolution has many times fallen flat. Now after the fabulous season opener last week, I can confidently say that Day of the Moon delivered… But what it delivered I’m not entirely sure!

Though certainly I think it’s safe to say that this episode is going be very very divisive. And while it is many things, and indeed will be called many things I’m sure, one thing it certainly wasn’t – a damp squib. Day of the Moon delivered a lot bang for its buck. But whether that was a good thing or not is a question that’s hard to answer. And furthermore, I also expect opinions of the episode will be liable to change as the season unfolds.

Yes, I know all this is somewhat vague and probably very confusing. But like the first part of this story, it’s a tough episode to review without giving any of its twists, turns and surprises away. And so this little review is just going to be my initial reaction and we’ll be returning to this tale a little later in the week after I’ve had a chance to rewatch it back to back with The Impossible Astronaut.

However before that, there are a few spoiler-free point to be made…

Firstly if you’ve not seen it yet, I would recommend that you watch last week’s first, because this episode picks up right where we left of and then gallops on at a break-neck pace. They don’t do the old trick of quickly resolving the cliff-hanger and then slow down and starting building the story afresh. Now this may be a bit of shock to the system for some viewers but I’d say it is a good thing as it’s this slackening of pace that has scuppered the effectiveness of many other second parts.

On the downside however, the episode did feel a bit rushed. There’s so much crammed in, I couldn’t help feeling that the story needed a bit more room to breathe. But then again I think it’ll will play better watched as a whole. It was rumoured that the Beeb were planning to screen both over Easter which would make a lot of sense for Moffat’s structural and pacing choices. However that said, there are many things unexplained in this episode which brings be to my second point….

….Before going in, I’ll warn you now that not everything is resolved neatly. Essentially this story is setting up the arc for the season. And rather than the usual drop in a reference or lone clue that typified the story arcs in the RTD days – the Bad Wolf template – Moffat clearly has grander plans. I suspect that the ongoing story he’s constructing will turn out be more of solidly integrated piece of plotting that than we’ve ever had before. And not only are we going to get a story it a proper arc but actually builds on the events of the last season. Grand Moff Steven is playing a very long game here folks!

No doubt there’ll be the usual carping about the direction the series is going in, but whatever anyone does with Doctor Who there’ll always be those who find something to complain about! They complained the RTD years were too frothy and simplistic, and now they’ll grumble its getting too complicated.

And admittedly Day of the Moon is very intricate and I do worry how causal viewers are going to react to all of this. Moffat is possibly taking a big risk here but then again the next week’s episode looks like more standard fare to soothe those left bewildered by this high octane sprint.

But also, perhaps we’re in danger of forgetting that the most popular shows with the general public are the ongoing stories found in the soaps! And perhaps it’s time that genre shows stopped being afraid of telling closely connected narratives. Plus I honestly believe that all this confusion will make a lot more sense further down the line! And if it all comes off, we’ll see Day of the Moon in a new light… So if you find this episode somewhat head spinning, keep on watching!

Right then, I’ve said I can for now! But as promised we’ll come back to this adventure in a few days time and delve into the spoiler zone…

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

You can choose any two people, real or fictional, to watch having sex, for either comedic or erotic purposes, which two and why?

Well considering the last US version of Godzilla turned the King of the Monster into the Queen, I've often wondered whether Toho's King Kong Vs Godzilla could have gone down a different route... Just imagine... cities smashed in the throes of titanic passion!

Ask us anything

Sunday, 24 April 2011

HYPNOBOBS 29 - Count Magnus

It's time to revisit the works of the master of the spectral tale, MR James as Mr Jim Moon reads his classic Count Magnus...


Find all the podcasts in the HYPNOGORIA family here -

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Saturday, 23 April 2011

DOCTOR WHO 6.01 - The Impossible Astronaut

Scanners indicate an absence of spoilers!

Once again dear friends, it’s that time again – a brand spanking new season of Doctor Who. And having just watched the The Impossible Astronaut I’m beginning to doubt the sense in this little plan…

Things were always going to be different this year. Aside from the usual intrigues as to what the new season would deliver, there are big structural changes to the series. If you don’t already know, the deal is this – instead of the usual thirteen episodes, this year the season is being split into two halves. So the series that commenced tonight will run for seven episodes until the 4th of June and then return in the autumn (currently pencilled in for September) to air the remaining six.

Now I for one welcomed this plan with open arms. Firstly now there’s a much shorter gap between appearances of new episodes, and secondly we get Doctor Who screening when the nights are drawing in. When RTD resurrected the series, obviously no one could foresee that this hoary old series would go on become the flagship show for BBC1, and therefore it was given the slot in the annual scheduling it has held for the past half decade, spring to summer – a time when audience figures are dropping due to lighter nights, better weather and all manner of holidays tempting folk away for the idiot lantern.

But considering the rating hit the travels in the TARDIS are these days, it’s been long overdue that Doctor Who should move to airing in the cosier, more audience friendly, autumn slot. And besides the frequent outbreaks of spookiness and general weirdness are somehow better suited to being seen on a dark evening when mists are rolling in and the wind is just beginning to howl around the chimney pots.

However as pleasing as all of the above is, what really intrigued me about the change in scheduling policy, was the effect it was going to have on the structure of the series and its story arcs. As regular viewers will know, Steven Moffat is a very devious writer and he meticulously plans this plots. Although we didn’t suspect exactly how devious he or how far reaching his tales were until he took the helm of the series last year and we discovered the “Silence will fall” arc had actually begun with a brace of episodes he wrote for the Tenth Doctor (Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead). So then rather just plan out the usual thirteen episode pattern and screen in it two chunks, you can bet that Moffat is now running a game of two halves scheme, with two series finales in one season effectively.

Now in times past, we’d grown used to the first episode of a season being a light and frothy affair where the story takes a back seat. For every opener so far has had the task of introducing some one new: in Rose we met the Ninth Doctor and …er … well Rose, in New Earth we were bedding in the Tenth, and in Smith & Jones and Partners in Crime we saw the Doctor finding new companions, Martha Jones and Donna Noble. However this time round, the TARDIS crew - Eleventh Doctor, Amy And Rory - were already firmly in place.

So then with this in mind, I was hoping that The Impossible Astronaut would see the show returning firing on all cylinders, rather than gradually revving up the engine as it had to in previous years. And indeed considering that this is the first half of a two part story from Mr Moffat himself, the cloister bell was reassuringly silent and the portents looked good for this to be the case.

Now my usual policy for reviewing two parters last year was to cover both parts at once, as there seemed little point in review half an adventure and getting knotted up in speculation as to how the complete tale would play out. However as we were kicking off the season with a two parter, I thought some sort of taster review was in order…

…But I have a massive problem The Impossible Astronaut - relax, it’s not terrible! Quite the contrary in fact.

The trouble is I can’t really tell you anything without giving something away. The Impossible Astronaut? The Impossible Review more like!

Well that’s not entirely true (yes Rule #1 about the Doctor also applies to me now), but you probably already know it’s set in, and indeed was shot in, America, features the President being harassed by spooky phone calls and a creepy looking alien in a black suit.

And I could also tell you that Matt Smith is brilliant as ever, but that’s a given really isn’t it?Considering all the hullabaloo about his casting and about how young he was, weird isn’t it how now when he’s the Doctor you completely believe his nearly a thousand years old…

What else? Well, this is a good outing for Amy and Rory; Karen Gillan gets plenty of solid dramatic scenes to get her teeth into and Arthur Davrill feels like a proper member of the crew and not just a boyfriend dragged along for a couple of stories. And of course, even if you’ve taken up Venusian aikido to spoiler dodge for the last few months, you’re probably aware that River Song is back. And she’s as brilliant as ever. And it's a credit to Moffat's writing that he can balance such a large TARDIS crew and still find enough opportunities for a ll the characters to shine.

The American locations look gorgeous as does the sets. And there’s a bona fide guest star who will be very familiar to viewers of genre TV. But I’m not saying who - let’s just say that it’s a real delight to see them, on top form as usual, in Doctor Who!

And finally, I can confirm that the show has hit the ground running. Easily the best series debut instalment we’ve had since the show’s return and even a contender for best opening episode in all the show’s history. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of a better opening episode of any series right now.

And you can take that as a full committed recommend! Dodge the spoilers and go in fresh if you can!

So then, we will pick this up in proper detail next week…

...And what a long week it shall be!

And on that note we’ll let silence fall…

Thursday, 21 April 2011


To horror fans and lovers of all things cinematic in general, the name Hammer surely needs no introduction. Similarly we can also probably skip recounting the convoluted history of rumours, hints and false dawns which preceded the resurrection of this classic English studio. For after a somewhat shaky start with a web based feature Beyond the Rave, Hammer Films are indeed back in business at long. And while their dark thriller The Resident, which I have yet to see, has received mixed reviews at best, Let Me In garnered much praise, despite being a English language remake of a foreign film and especially as in this case they were remaking a movie that many regard as a modern day classic, Let The Right One In.

However while we were all pleased that Hammer was back, there was some murmuring that as The Resident and Let Me Me were both set in the United States, this might be just a revival in name only. But just in time to quell such doubts comes the release of Wake Wood, a full blooded supernatural horror set in Ireland, and steeped in classic Hammer tropes such as rural magic and dark forests.

Wake Wood actually began a co-production between Dublin’s Fantastic Films and Sweden’s Solid Entertainment and while looking for further production partners, the script then titled The Wake Wood found its way to the newly resurrected Hammer. And having seen that the screenplay was exactly the kind of horror the new incarnation of the classic horror studio was interested in pursuing, they swiftly jumped onboard. As Simon Oakes, CEO of Hammer said -

Wake Wood is very much in the tradition of some of the great Hammer stories of old, including the Frankenstein films. A compelling and horrifying dilemma is at its heart: ordinary people must make a Faustian pact to hold onto what they hold most dear, with terrifying consequences. The fact that David Keating and team wanted to honour, in tone, some of the great horror films of the past was also immediately appealing.

A bold statement certainly, however as we shall see, these compliments are not unmerited, as a quick look at the plot synopsis reveals.

The story of Wake Wood is as follows. After the tragic death of their young daughter Alice (Ella Connolly), Patrick (Aidan Gillen) and Louise (Eva Birthistle) move to the sleepy village of Wake Wood. However the village has a secret – under the leadership of Arthur (Timothy Spall) the villagers conduct rituals which may raise the dead back to life. However this resurrection is only temporary, lasting only three days and there are certain rules that must be observed. Naturally Alice is resurrected, but as any horror fan can guess things don’t go well…

With the country setting, the aura of old magic, and the returning dead, coupled with moral dilemmas and lead characters who are ordinary adults rather cardboard teens in perils, it’s instantly clear that this isn’t the usual horror fare that is idly churned out for the adolescent audience. And as well sitting comfortably with The Witches and Plague of the Zombies, it also addresses the age old themes explored by many a Hammer classic; the price of immortality and the cost of resurrection.

Now obviously the film buffs out there will spot that the storyline sounds like an amalgamation of The Wicker Man and Don’t Look Now. For while the two aforementioned iconic chillers are obvious reference points Wake Wood isn’t just some half baked concoction splicing the two together for Wake Wood also references many other literate horror of years gone by.

Writer Brendan McCarthy is a self confessed horror aficionado and I didn’t need the press release blurb to tell me that – watching this movie that it obvious that this tale was crafted by a man in love with the genre. There’s a host of other references and allusions to other literate horrors in this film; the plot has pleasing echoes of both WW Jacobs’ classic short tale The Monkey’s Paw and Stephen King’s Pet Sematary, and the starting situation of a young vet and his wife moving to the countryside also recalls Nigel Kneale’s Baby from the TV series Beasts and to a lesser extent his TV play Murrain. Thematically there’s the eerie pastoral atmosphere and folk magic of 70s Brit horrors such as Blood on Satan’s Claw and Cry of the Banshee, while stylistically there’s the kind of vivid colours and inventive cinematography that we associate with Italian masters like Argento or Bava. And if all of those weren’t enough, there’s a legion of spooky child films to consider, from the well known (The Omen) to the rather obscure (Alice Sweet Alice aka Communion), not to mention a whole graveyard of movies dealing with the troubles invoked by the return of deceased loved ones.

And again I’d stress that Wake Wood isn’t just a patchwork creation. And while there are many parallels one may draw with other works, this movie has a story and an atmosphere all of its own. McCarthy and director David Keating spent a long time refining and polishing the script, and all this care and attention shows on screen. It’s a tightly told tale, balancing striking and unusual imagery with very strong characters, and while it serves up the expected chills and blood, these are woven around a powerful emotional drama.

The cast are uniformly superb. Aidan Gillen is magnetic as ever as Patrick and Eva Birthistle delivers a performance of equal intensity; together they create a vivid picture of a couple struggling under the weight of tragedy. Of course Timothy Spall is as excellent as you’d expect in the role of the leader of the mysterious town of Wake Wood and there’s excellent support from Ruth McCabe and Amelia Crowley. And Ella Connolly is simply marvellous as the returning Alice, putting in a finely nuanced performance that steers well clear of the usual silent and staring spooky child.

This is a very capable cast that really brings the characters to life and let their emotions light up the screen. And they deserve high praise for this script isn’t heavy on dialogue; there’s no endless talking heads or clunky exposition. For Wake Wood is a film that tells much of its story visually. Now most actors worth their salt can deliver dramatic exchanges and speeches well enough, but you really need an exceptional cast to carry a story that isn’t reliant on the words it puts in the characters’ mouths.

Of course director David Keating is equally deserving of kudos. To begin with you’d never guess Wake Wood was a modestly budgeted feature, because it looks simply fantastic. This is a gorgeously composed film, filled with beautiful shots and creative set ups. He understands that golden rule of cinema that it’s better to show rather than tell, but he also demonstrates a real knack for building consistent chains of imagery. For example, early on in the movie there is a scene of what I’ll only describe as very graphic veterinary practice. Now at first glance, this would appear to be splatterising the everyday business of a farm; indulging in that old horror movie trick of drenching even mundane scenes in lashings of blood. But as the film progresses you realise that it is the first instance of a recurring set of symbols; themed imagery that pervades a variety of scenes which are not only visually striking but resonate with both the thrust of the narrative and its underlying themes.

Considering that film is primarily a visual medium, it isn’t often we find this kind of orchestrated imagery and metaphor outside of art house flicks, and it’s rarer to still to discover this very literary use of repeated symbols and motifs in a movie that is so tightly paced and thrilling.

Wake Wood is highly accomplished for a second feature - his first feature Last of the High Kings is now high on my ‘must watch’ list - and Keating is definitely a name to watch. Avoiding the bloating that comes with a two hour run time, Wake Wood plays out at a finely measured pace, building up an eerie atmosphere while at the same time keeping the story unfolding in an exciting and engaging manner. And while a jaded old horror fan like myself could see where the storyline was going, Wake Wood never feels like it’s just going through the same old predictable motions. Firstly all the visual flourishes Keating employs keeps everything fresh and McCarthy’s script is admirably subtle allowing the physical performances and imagery tell the tale. And together the script and direction cast a beguiling spell; although any one familiar with the horror genre can guess that Alice’s resurrection is going to lead to all manner of trouble, in this case rather resulting in the tedium of predictability, there’s a growing cloud of dread as you anticipate the inevitable resulting unpleasantness.

In its own way, Wake Wood is a quiet triumph. And while gorehounds may feel there’s not enough splattery carnage and fear purists might lament that it’s not more purely psychological in its horrors, personally I found the balance of blood and atmospherics in Wake Wood to be a welcome change. Too often these days, there is a tendency to think that a good horror film should be firmly situated in either the red drenched territory of Herchell Gordon Lewis or the misty shadowlands to Val Lewton, and forget that there is a rich middle ground where blood and chills can compliment each other - indeed many of classic horrors, in particular the Hammer/Amicus’Tigon axis and the Italian maestros, were more than happy to creep out their audiences while not being afraid of splashing out the Kensington gore.

Equalising these polarities takes as much skill and vision as delivering the extremes of subtle terror and graphic revulsion. In lesser hands, Wake Wood could have been rather choppy, however the carefully built atmosphere, consistent characterisation and smooth story telling unites the seemingly opposite approaches. And the superb score by Michael Convertino not only brings all the different elements into unison but is tremendously evocative in it’s own right, working perfectly with the imagery on screen to tell an unsettling haunting tale.

Wake Wood is a film that will repay repeated viewing; on a first watch one may wish there was more detail in the plot filling in the background to the story; for example it would be nice to know more about the history and origin of the ritual. However as is often the case, sometimes a mystery is best left hanging in the air, and certainly Wake Wood would not benefit from adding chunks of exposition for it’s the kind of movie which is enhanced by leaving tantalising questions unanswered. The story doesn’t need a cipher to pop up and spell out that the ritual dates back to ancient times; all the clues necessary for an audience to draw this conclusion are there in onscreen. Subsequent rewatchs reveal the subtleties of this approach. And of course leaving such imaginative spaces for an audience to explore will ensure that Wake Wood will no doubt inspire a cult following of its own.

Not only is it a love letter to the past classics of the horror genre, but Wake Wood is also a much needed shot in the arm for contemporary chillers. While some may be disappointed that Wake Wood is neither the goriest or most terrifying film, that would be to overlook it huge strengths. For not only is it highly entertaining, it’s refreshingly intelligent and wonderfully performed - virtues all too rare in contemporary horror offerings. Although it’s not a film that going to please every one, I suspect that many horror fans will find much to love and cherish, and will enjoy regular return trips to Wake Wood.

And certainly it’s exactly the kind of film that a resurrected Hammer should be making. Keating and McCarthy have delivered a beautifully mesmerising movie, and it’s not just an a high satisfying and entertaining horror flick, Wake Wood is a glowing example of fine film making for any genre.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Goodbye Sarah Jane

Just heard the incredibly sad news that Elisabeth Sladen has passed away aged only 63.

Loved by several generations for her portrayal of Sarah Jane Smith in Doctor Who and later her own highly successful series The Sarah Jane Adventures, Lis is going to be missed by many.

Widely considered to be the greatest of all the good Doctor's companions, she was the traveller in the TARDIS that I grew up with and so it was a real joy to see her return to our screens new Who. And even better was to watch the The Sarah Jane Adventures become a landmark piece of children's television, because a whole new generation would take her to their hearts too.

Lis was always very protective of Sarah Jane and rightly so, because she was more than just a character in a sci-fi show, she was a role model, embodying the best virtues with courage and good humour. She was the friend we all looked up to.

We learnt a lot travelling with Sarah Jane; loyalty, courage, kindness, the value of true friendship, and greeting troubles with both a smile and careful thought. And as long as we stay true to her virtues and all the things that Sarah and indeed Lis herself believed in, she will never truly be gone from this marvellous universe....

We''ll miss you but we will never forget.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sunday, 17 April 2011

HYPNOBOBS 28 - Holy Rambling Batman!

In something of a rush, Mr Jim Moon hastily cobbles together a podcast and ends up rambling on about Batman and that proposed reboot after Nolan leaves the director's chair...

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOBOBS 28 - Holy Rambling Batman!

Find all the podcasts in the HYPNOGORIA family here -

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Friday, 15 April 2011

TWIHARD PART IV - Total Eclipse of the Heart

As a companion piece to The Black Dog Podcast Twihard marathon (episodes #62 to #64), I too took up the challenge to watch all three Twilight movies...

So then, while I had gone into New Moon feeling fairly positive, after that dragging, and to be honest, fairly tedious flick, it was with a heavy heart that I slapped Eclipse into the player. And after New Moon the various claims bandied around that the franchise improves with each instalment did not so much as ring hollow but sounded like the cracking chimes of doom.

Nor did I gain much comfort from knowing that in the director’s chair this time around was David Slade. Yes he’d made a big splash with his debut Hard Candy and followed it up with 30 Days of Night, one of the better vampire films to emerge in recent years. Just as I could understand why Hardwicke seemed as a safe pair of hands to bring Stephenie Meyer’s novel to the screen, in giving the reins of Eclipse to Slade it seemed like Summit Entertainment were keen to have a director onboard with a proven track record for handling horror, something that this franchise dealing with creatures of the night had been oddly lacking so far.

But then on the other hand, I had been impressed by previous flicks by Catherine Hardwicke, but we all know how well Twilight turned out, and while I’d still defend that movie as not being as bad as it’s made out to be, it still falls far short of Lords of Dogtown. Would the same fate befall Mr Slade’s entry in the Twilight Saga?

Most troubling of all though was that that this instalment of the saga of Bella and Edward rocked up to the theatres less than six months after its predecessor. Now that’s one hell of a production schedule for an el cheapo Z-grade slasher sequel never mind a healthily budgeted blockbuster franchise. And while I could appreciate that shooting had begun a little before the release of New Moon, the fact it still seems like this sequel appeared awfully fast. Were Paramount and Summit rush releasing these films because they feared that their target audience would be growing up faster than they could make them? It certainly looks that way which doesn’t foster much hope for the quality of Eclipse or indeed the supposed deep reverence for the source material that their publicity department bangs on about at every given opportunity. Because if they are rushing these films to market before the bubble bursts, either it shows a contempt for their core audience or a lack of belief in the merits of Meyer’s novels. And in the spirit of compare and contrast, it should be noted that Warners Bros. have no such worries about Harry Potter – they have frequently delayed releases and many of the children that comprised audience for their first adaptation are now old enough to have kids of their own. So whichever way you cut it, it doesn’t reflect well.

Further signs of this production being the product of undue haste arise when one consults the cast list. Recurring villain Victoria in this outing is played by Bryce Dallas Howard as apparently Rachelle Lefevre, who had played the role in the first movies, was unable to sign on due to alleged scheduling difficulties. I say “alleged”, because Ms. Lefevre was none to pleased by the decision. As she notes here, there was an overlap of ten days between her commitments, but for a supporting character to be unavailable for just over a week in a three month shoot surely wouldn’t be that much of a problem. Well, unless you are Summit Entertainment who apparently thinks that the entire fanbase is going to disintegrate into dust overnight… Deep respect for the source material and its fans my eye!

If you recast your series’ villain just to rush your property into the theatres, then it’s fairly clear that you see this as a fad, a bubble that is going to imminently pop, and furthermore you think your audience is too vapid to care about the casting change. Whether you love or loathe the Twilight saga, if you’ve ever been a fan of anything this sort of needlessly hasty recasting seems to signify a shoddy attitude towards the material.

Although in all fairness, the upside of this cynically swift production meant that Chris Weitz was replaced with David Slade. Indeed after the plodding endurance test that was New Moon, if Weitz was back in the director’s chair for this third outing I may well have abandoned this entire review project. And thankfully Slade is a vast improvement on his predecessors.

To begin with, this is easily the best looking Twilight movie so far. After Hardwicke’s too blue opening feature, Weitz’s too golden sequel, Slade finally gets the colour balance just right, cooking up the Baby Bear porridge of chromatic scales. The locations of Eclipse looks believably overcast enough for vampires to thrive but there’s enough incidental colour to avoid the overly washed out look to irritated many in the first movie.

Secondly Slade is equally at home with both the emotional and action content, unlike Hardwicke who had the dramatic chops but couldn’t seem to handle the SFX sequences or Weitz who could grasp neither. Here we have a movie that, at last gets closer to the right balance, doing justice to both the romantic and the horror tropes. Obviously he has an advantage here with the particular novel he is bringing to the screen, which sees the storyline picking up its pace. But even so, any director worth their salt should be able to inject some dynamism into the most low-key of scenes.

But for all the flourishes and flair Slade brings to the Twilight table, Eclipse still isn’t as satisfying as a film as it should be. While Slade pulls out all the stops, the script sadly still tends to stroll where it should be loping. Now this is a problem all three movies have had and one which can be firmly laid at the door to Melissa Rosenberg who drafted all three screenplays. While I appreciate the effort to remain faithful to the source material, there are clearly pacing problems with the versions up there on the screen. Now I’ve not read Meyer’s original novels and therefore I can’t comment on their structural qualities, but I do wonder whether some creative editing was needed to bring these books to the screen; some reshuffling of the timelines akin to what Peter Jackson did with Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers in particular.

Admittedly Eclipse doesn’t dawdle across the screen as like an empty headed clothes horse like New Moon did but it doesn’t feel as quite as exciting as a movie about vampire and werewolves should be, nor does the love triangle between Bella, Edward and Jacob crackle with all the emotional energy it should. And in fairness to Slade, I think a large factor in not quite exploiting the potential for action and drama in this chapter is that he is coming in at the third instalment and his style simply doesn’t match the preceding films. And more to the point, the thrust of the narrative has been completely lost as each movie has had a different look, tone and directorial approach and these differences prevent the story line building up any head of steam. When the first two entries in the franchise had both missed their marks, it’s near impossible for any director, no matter how talented, to deliver a rousing third part as the foundations for ramping up the action just aren’t solid enough. Eclipse may be the best house constructed for the Twilight saga so far but unfortunately it’s been built upon shifting sands.

Now throughout this marathon I’ve argued that, contrary to popular opinion, Twilight having a romantic focus, or even that its vampires sparkle, isn’t the problem. And I would still assert that all three films are nowhere as bad as they are painted in certain vociferous quarters. And although admittedly the mediocrity of New Moon comes close to the realm of truly awful film-making, I’d still argue that both Twilight and Eclipse have their merits. But the trouble is they don’t match up – Hardwicke’s film looks and feels like an indie offering whereas Slade delivers a movie with all the traits of a typical fantasy blockbuster.

And I don’t necessarily blame either director for this – ironically for a paranormal romance series, the trouble with the Twilight saga is the heartless way Summit and Paramount have constructed the franchise, cynically rushing them out to milk the faithful and chopping and changing the approach at every turn. Admittedly in the history of genre cinema, we’ve seen various franchises mutate in different ways between instalments but usually this is due to the makers tacking on sequel after sequel without any plan of where the overall story is going.

However in the case of Twilight, all the sequels were already there as novels, and so to deliver three movies that are so inconsistent in their tone and focus smacks of laziness if not outright contempt in their attitude to bringing Meyer’s novels to the screen. And even if the haters are right and the novels are badly written bobbins, the concepts could still be made into a rewarding and enthralling film saga.

However Summit seemingly care little for consistency and their approach to adapting Meyer’s series of novels reminds me of an inept vampire hunter jabbing away at a fresh disinterred corpse and managing to hammer the stake in anywhere but the heart, resulting a bloody mess full of holes. Frankly this story deserves better, and furthermore I sincerely believe that the fans of the Twilight saga deserve better too.

Earlier parts of this saga can be found here I , II and III. And don’t forget, you can hear The Black Dog podcast marathon that inspired these articles here

Monday, 11 April 2011

How much of a film do you normally see before you head into the cinema? Do you watch and read everything available (trailers, clips, reviews, interviews, etc.) or are you more choosy? Do you prefer going in completely blind or is that impossible nowadays?

Sadly in these days of the internet going in blind is very hard, especially if you use social media. Then again with ever rising ticket prices and everyone tightening their belts, going in blind isn't that preferable - after all who wants to end up seeing the turkey of the year instead of one of the future classics ;)

Generally if a movie catches my attention and I'm considering a cinema trip to see it, I will watch the trailers and check out a few spoiler free reviews from folks whose judgements I respect. If the buzz is positive and the trailer doesn't make me want to stab out either my own eyes or the director's with a plastic spoon, money will change hands at the theatre.

And in the main, all the reviews, interviews and sundry other peripheral material can wait until I've seen the movie... As an older gentleman, I've been sucked into hype maelstrom too often before and come away disappointed, so I try to avoid building up too many expectations. Obviously that's easier said than done, but I feel that getting too carried away with the idea that Movie X is going to be the second coming of sliced bread will skew your critical judgement. And keeping a cool head means you tend to enjoy more films more often without the weight of hype and hopes tipping the balance ;)

Ask us anything

Horror Movie Remakes! Love them or hate them? Are there any genuinely good ones? Rant or rave, the choice is yours...

Another excellent question from Mr Cyberschzoid!

If there’s one thing guaranteed to summon the rage and ire of horror fans, and cinema buffs in general if we’re being honest, it is the subject of remakes. But the whole business of remaking movies has been around nearly as long as cinema itself. The earliest movies were very short affairs and naturally when film became established as a popular entertainment medium, it was only natural that stories that had previously been on screen as what we now would call shorts, returned as full length features.

And as the medium changed over the years, with every innovation and expansion of the cinematic art, old flicks were retooled for the new age. Hence silent hits were remade, but now with sound, and leap forward a few decades and something similar happens with the advent of colour film. However it’s only relatively recently that remakes have become the movie fan’s bĂȘte noir.

Now while there is the old argument that some stories are so timeless in their themes and so ageless in their appeal that they deserve to be retold for each passing generation, in recent years such claims have worn a little thin. For while the ‘timeless classic’ theory holds up well when applied to cinematic adaptations of literary works – after all, rarely is the first translation of a text to the silver screen the best * – in the general context of Hollywood remaking anything and everything, from classic movies to kitsch TV shows, and increasingly looking towards books and comics as a source of scripts, it does look like Tinsel Town is rapidly running out of ideas of its own. And currently it would seem that it’s the horror genre that is the prime target for alot of lazy cultural strip mining.

Now while it’s generally a safe bet that any remake is going to be inferior to the original, in the horror genre in particular we’ve seen this rule broken many times. To begin with as I’ve observed before, every Frankenstein flick since 1931 owes more to James Whale’s movie than Mary Shelley’s original novel, including allegedly back to the source productions such as Frankenstein – The True Story (1973) and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994). Such has been the power of this Universal classic that one could argue that virtually every rendition of the tale of the scientist and his Creature has been a remake of Whale’s two Frankenstein features.

Moving further afield, Hammer Films as well as bring Dracula and Frankenstein back to the cinemas, resurrected the Mummy with Universal’s permission to great effect. And lest we forget, Hammer made their name as purveyors of cinematic terror by delivering quality movies that remade the BBC Quatermass serials for the big screen.

But perhaps it was in the 1980s that we saw some of the best horror remakes ever made. Firstly in 1982 John Carpenter remade the classic The Thing From Another World (1951) and later in 1986, with similar body horror stylings, David Cronenberg masterfully reinterpreted another scifi-horror from that decade, The Fly (1958). Both these movies are all the proof you need that remakes aren’t automatically rubbish, and that in the right hands you can get a classic that equals the original.

And if that‘s not enough ‘80s goodness to convince you, consider that two other iconic films from that decade, Alien and An American Werewolf in London. Scott’s film borrows wholesale from 1959’s It! The Terror From Beyond Space with more than a dash of Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires (1965), while John Landis’ lycanthrope classic is heavily based on Universal’s The Wolf Man. Although it’s true neither of these modern classics are strictly remakes, both as close to their sources as either The Thing or The Fly, and arguably are in fact closer to being pure remakes than Carpenter and Cronenberg’s reimaginings.

But it’s also fair to say that for every successful horror remake there are many that crash and burn, dozens more if we count assorted rip-offs and cash-ins as unofficial remakes. However despite the number of horror remakes that are currently irritating genre fans, not to mention all those in years gone by, there are two important factors to remember before allowing the blood to reach boiling point and spewing black bile everywhere.

Firstly although the hit rate for horror remakes may be low, they must be appraised in the context of cinema as a whole. The key question here is not how many times a remake succeeds in bringing something worthy of the original to the table, but how original movies are any good in the first place. Let’s face it, the majority of movies in any genre that are currently screening aren’t destined to be hallowed as classics of their kind. Most are average, some entertaining but forgettable, and more than a few downright poor. When the percent of classic or quality films being produced from original material is so low, then we cannot expect remakes to perform any better.

Secondly, not matter how heavily hyped or how poor a remake turns out to be, it isn’t like they are coming round our houses to confiscate the original, and erasing all record of their existence in a Philip K Dick style exercise in reality editing. Though from the howls of outrage over the recent Friday 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street remakes you could be forgiven that was exactly what Platinum Dunes had done. Now while neither film would be gracing a top ten list of any stripe from yours truly, neither were they the cinematic abominations that many voices in fandom painted them as. (See here and here for my in-depth analyses of both these flicks).

Admittedly both had their flaws but equally they were far better than many of the sequels in either franchise. And I think that if we are honest, a lot of the ire comes from looking back with rose tinted specs; forgetting that both originals were low budget potboilers, and that while despite striking a chord at the time and becoming seminal films in the genre, neither were exactly masterpieces of cinematic craft. However despite their technical short comings, what Craven and Cunningham’s movies did have was originality back in the day and therefore the remakes are bound to seem inferior for older fans who know who Jason and Freddy are.

However that said, things grow somewhat murkier when dealing with remakes of films that are bona fide classics. Some films just seem to capture lightning in bottle and to any film fan it seems like outright foolishness to try and do it again. Recent horror remakes in category are, of course, Gus Van Sant’s Psycho (1998), Marcus Nispel’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), Neil Labute’s The Wicker Man (2006), and Rob Zombie’s Halloween (2007).

Whereas the remakes of Friday 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street were optimistically anticipated in some quarters and generally hauled over the red hot coals of fandom for delivering disappointing results, the above quartet generated storms of fury from the outset. Simply the fact that some studio boneheads would have the hubris to try and remake classic movies that even those outside the horror world recognise as genuine masterpieces of cinema, seemed to many to be something akin to artistic vandalism.

However conceptual rage aside, although none can be counted as a qualified success, as it turns out though only one of these was actually a real stinker. Nispel and Zombie’s movies both have a degree of merit despite both taking a wrong headed approach to the subject matter, whereas Van Sant’s film seemed to more like a film school experiment that proved by copying Hitchcock shot for shot, there was more to more to directing genius than his camera setups. As for The Wicker Man debacle, suffice to say that if the most convincing thing in your film is Nic Cage’s hair piece then you are in a whole lot of trouble.

Of course, there is a fifth movie we could add to this category - Zack Synder’s 2004 remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Despite the usual outrage the announcement of this project spawned, when the movie came out it actually got a rather warm reception. Yes, it wasn’t a patch on the original but the horror world generally seemed to quite like it and roiling clouds of anger quickly evaporated. I’m not entirely sure why this was, but I suspect it has something to do with the fact that virtually every zombie flick post 1978 being effectively an unofficial remake or sequel to Romero’s film whereas the other four movies are much more a-one-of-kind cinema experiences.

But as misguided as the remakes from Nispel, Van Sant and Zombie were, at least they appeared to have some reverence and understanding for the parent movies, whereas Labute’s film showed itself to be the product of cine-illiterate morons; I’m surprised they didn’t go the whole hog and call it The Wicker Dude

But as utterly egregious as that beehive of nonsense was, I still have my cherished editions of the Robin Hardy original and I doubt there are many who would claim the remake is better. In fact, there is a certain amount of pleasure to be derived from the fact that the remake is so widely mocked; and rather than tarnishing the original film, Labute’s turkey seems to have enhanced its reputation.

And this is perhaps the point many of us forget – no matter the quality of a remake, at the end of the day it will bring younger film fans to the originals. In the realm of horror, it’s all too easy to assume that the next generation are only interested in torture porn and that they are never going to appreciate the history of weird cinema as we do. But this is blatantly false – the teen market, that the current horror remakes are aimed at, is the first generation that has grown up with the internet where there’s thousands of film sites to clue them in and it has never been easier to track down even the most obscure of old movies. And if the originals that the contemporary remakes are allegedly bastardising so badly are indeed as good as we think they are, the next generation will take them to their hearts in exactly the same way that horror fans of my generation embraced the movies of Universal, AIP, Hammer and Amicus that were made before our time.

* the exception being the Lon Chaney Snr version of The Phantom of the Opera (1925) – even though it is a silent, black & white picture, it’s still the best translation of Gaston Leroux’s novel to the screen!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

HYPNOBOBS 27 - The Canterville Ghost

This week we're back to the fireside for a reading of Oscar Wilde's classic gothic tale of ghouls and giggles, The Canterville Ghost...

DIRECT DOWNLOAD - HYPNOBOBS 27 - The Canterville Ghost

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Saturday, 9 April 2011

If you could launch your own horror TV show what would it be called and what would it be about?

Horror and television has had a somewhat patchy relationship over the years, and while there have been some great successes, many horror shows have died a death. And a recurring problem down the years has been that the horror genre’s prime objective of terrifying and/or disturbing its audience often conflicts with the contemporary ethos of what is acceptable to broadcast. Hence when the winds of the zeitgeist are blowing in the direction of safe, sanitised, family-friendly viewing at all times, horror telly has its fangs and claws blunted.

And it’s very telling that the titans of terrifying TV are largely one-off affairs: either TV movies such as Ghostwatch, The Stone Tape, The Night Stalker and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, or particular episodes of anthology shows such as The Twilight Zone or Tales of the Unexpected. Partly this is due to the twitchy nature of TV execs who want viewers to tune in week after week for a predictably popular recipe of more of the same, rather than scaring them out of their wits and risk not only them not tuning in again but floods of angry complaints. However it’s also tied up with the fact that in the horror genre familiarity tends to rob the material of its fear factor.

So then bearing the above trends in mind, my first thought would be to head into anthology territory. But perhaps not a weekly show running in traditional seasons, as this carries the risk of the audience becoming at first too comfortable with the format and secondly bored with it. After all, history shows that as captivating as shows like The Twilight Zone, Tales of the Unexpected, The Outer Limits or Tales From the Darkside were, after a while audiences get wise to the tropes and twist-in-the-tale endings, and what was once startling and fresh becomes run of the mill and they stop tuning in.

Instead I’d take my cue from the 1970s BBC: when the subject of most frightening TV arises there’s nearly always several stories from their Ghost Stories For Christmas. Now this was a series that ran throughout that decade, regularly delivered top notch chills and yet comprised of but a single episode per year, screened late upon a Yuletide night. So then I’d institute a similar approach – like this highly respected series we’d adapt classic tales of terror for the screen, and to the same high standards with visionary direction, quality cinematography and respected thespians. But as well as bringing the stories of vintage favourites like MR James to the screen, I’d also delve into the work of more recent masters such as Ramsey Campbell. But rather than doing just one production a year I’d extend the format so you’d have a delicious dose of dread several times a year. Obviously Christmas would be one slot, but I’d add productions for Halloween, Midsummer and Walpurgis Night (May Day Eve) so there’d be some ghoulish goings-on for every season. And perhaps we could call it “Strange Quarters” or perhaps “Hung, Drawn and Quartered”!

Of course some of you may consider that proposal something of a cop out as it’s effectively a string one-off rather than a proper ongoing TV series…

Now a more traditional show has many more pitfalls to dodge. Recent entries into televisual terror such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Supernatural and True Blood have delivered monsters and blood aplenty, and are a whole lot of fun, they are not exactly terrifying are they? Even harder edged fare such as Dexter and The Walking Dead, while they are gripping television they aren’t particularly a source of sleepless nights either.

The trouble is with the basic set-up of many horror shows has heroes dealing with assorted ghouls and maniacs every week. And so, the audience soon stops fearing the monsters as it’s pretty much a given that our lead characters are going to save the day every week. The classic example of this is Carl Kolchak, the grandfather of all our current TV heroes investigating the weird. His frist two appearances were in the TV movie The Night Stalker and its sequel The Night Strangler, two highlights in the canon of TV terror. However when he got his own series, (entitled Kolchak, The Night Stalker naturally), the suspension of disbelief necessary for chills to flourish became increasingly strained. The first two movies traded heavily on the fact that this downtrodden journalist had uncovered the existence of strange beings which no one else seriously believed in, and so it was difficult to sustain this dramatic device week in week out and fans were soon calling the show ‘Kolchak’s Monster of the Week’.

And this is a continuing problem for horror shows. Both Buffy and Supernatural fail in the fear stakes because with every subsequent series our protagonists move further away from being isolated heroes dealing with unknown threats. Instead they inhabit a fictional universe that is heavily populated by supernatural forces, and not only are the monsters commonplace but for every weekly menace there’s a handy expert or occult tome that has all the answers. And additionally over time our heroes are frequently are developing super powers.

Now a key factor to generating fear, in my opinion at least, is that your source of terror should be mysterious – the audience, if not the heroes themselves, should be thinking “what the hell is that!” rather than “oh, vampire again eh”. And equally there shouldn’t be well known stock solutions i.e. “Werewolves? Pass the silver bullets”. And while I enjoy exercises in alternative world building, often horror shows go too far; for example Buffy and Angel made their monsters so familiar, not only are they no big shakes on the shiver scales, but they were being represented as paranormal minority groups rather than avatars of the Other. It’s very telling that by far and away the scariest episode of Buffy featured a wholly original and enigmatic enemy, the superbly creepy Gentlemen.

Hence a format that encourages an overly familiar monster of the week is right out. And another common curse of TV shows is having no defined end points. Now while on paper this doesn’t seem a problem for a show with an open ended format but unlike Dexter and True Blood where each season is a serial telling one story, these nearly all episodic series often have a loose story arc to ensure there is some sort of season finale. And here’s where the problem lies – every season needs a bigger and better threat to round off with, and so if the show lasts more than three years you end up with characters joking about how many times they’ve saved the world and what number apocalypse this is.

Therefore it’s vital I think to have a game plan to stop this kind of dramatic escalation draining the life out of a series, whether it’s a built-in reset switch like regeneration in Doctor Who or a carefully choreographed story line spread over several seasons like Fringe is doing. And the most egregious error of all of course is claiming that there is such a plan when really there ain’t (“pulling a Lucas” as we call it round here) and then finding you’ve written yourself into a corner - yes Lost and Battlestar Galactica I AM looking at you. As the old adage goes a failure to plan is a plan to fail…

So then bearing all the above in mind, what’s my pitch for an on-going horror show? The setting contemporary Britain – though globe trotting could be in order in later series. The characters - a motley bunch of ordinary folk drawn together by unravelling the initial weird happenings who end up forming a group of investigators. Note there’d be no shadowy secret organisations, no magic computers/technology, and no special powers. The supernatural strangeness they encounter must be dealt with the same resources you and I would have: there’d be no font of occult knowledge instead they’d just have the same books as you’d find in the local library or bookstore.

Rather than a different menace every week, I’d divide seasons up into a mix of two and three parters; a series of cases that lead into each other. For example the series would begin with a character moving into a house that appears to be haunted, additional characters are introduced as they investigate and the case would close with the realisation that there appears to be similar outbreaks of high weirdness occurring in the same area. And through investigating these subsequent cases, gradually the full cast would be assembled over the first season – I’d definitely follow the pattern set by Blakes’ 7 which takes its time building up both its team of heroes and their milieu rather go the Firefly route that drops you in the deep end with a large crew and an unfamiliar universe (which Fox dickery aside, I heavily suspect was partly why it didn’t pick up enough viewers). And all of this would lead to a finale tackling the root source of the strangeness. Season Two who see our merry band discovering that the events in their area are not an isolated incident…

But although the case would build upon one another, we would be avoiding leading up to apocalypse scenarios. Instead the real climaxes would be discovering new information or evidence that redefines the nature of the weirdness they are facing. And instead of exploring the familiar pop culture mythos of vampires, werewolves and zombies, instead we be delving into the strange stories you find in Forteana and authentic folklore. There is a wealth of untapped material here – for example the British mythical beast, the woodwose (a medieval being of the forests that is kind of part way between Sasquatch and the Green Man), the winged serpents and wyrms that terrorised the Middle Ages, or the hosts of Faerie who are a far cry from fey humanised elves of Tolkein or the cute butterfly winged nymphs of children’s books.

But like William Hope Hodgson’s Carnacki stories or HP Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos, these old legends would prove to have new and bizarre origins that leave our heroes and hopefully the audience too questioning the nature of reality. A good reference point here is perhaps the finest of the weird detective shows Sapphire & Steel where what begins are a conventional ghost story leads to strange and unusual reveals such as The Shape, a being that haunts every photograph that has ever been taken… And just to maximise the unexpected, we should borrow an additional leaf from Carnacki’s book, and ensure that every case doesn’t turn out to have a supernatural cause; ordinary human skulduggery should be uncovered, just to keep the audience guessing.

Now aside from a lack of the usual tropes to aid our investigators, I’d be careful to ensure that the cast cannot easily be divided into heroes and sidekicks. Being a bunch of ordinary folk with no experts or authorities, dramatic tension could be built up by having them tussle for who’s in charge or debating how to deal with a particular problem. Additional such a group of characters that are given equal importance in the story would make it easy to bring in new cast members when the show needs some new blood, and you couldn't assume any one character won’t suffer a terrible fate because they get the more screen time…

Right then, all we need now is a title… how about ‘Shadowplay’?

Friday, 8 April 2011

I suspect that Jim Moon doesn't actually exist, as I've only ever seen one picture of him (or someone claiming to be him). How can we be certain that Jim Moon is a real person, and not just a clever ruse to lure innocent listeners into a web of dreams??

So asked Mr or Miss Anonymous...

Heh heh heh! I know how you feel... I often doubt my own existence! But in the wise words of Slartibartfast "that's just perfectly normal paranoia, everybody in the Universe has that!"

Defining what actually exists is an increasingly tricky question the closer you look at it. You've all heard the old saying "If a tree in a forest falls down and there's nobody around, does it make a sound?" - well quantum mechanics suggests that if there's no one to observe an event it doesn't actually happen, fnord so actually there is no tree or forest in the first place if there's nobody there! In such a universe, are any of us truly real?

Hence it’s very hard to prove I actually exist! I can assure you I do but if I was fictional then I would say that! Of course if you take that view, then I must refer to the Good Bok, and quote the words of Our Lord Brian “Well what sort of chance does that give me?!?”

And as this is an anonymous question, all the Gentle Readers out there may indeed be wondering if in fact I actually posted this to myself, and hence what you are actually reading is the textual equivalent of a Punch and Judy show, orchestrated by a secretive cyber-mastermind who dwells in a clock tower.

You can perhaps take scepticism too far…

However I will say that if I were a fictional character striding about the real world, firstly I’d be up before the Beak in Literary Court in no time at all – just look what happened to Jerry O’Flynn!

Secondly and less obscurely, if I was a fiction then my tweeting would be far more interesting! It wouldn’t be “mmm toast and Blakes 7” but “Just fed Ninja #6 to piranhas for letting that man from the Diogenes Club access the complex” and “Receiving visitors from Dimension X – do they like jaffa cakes?”

Incidentally, there is actually more than one photo of me floating about. They do surface from time to time on my Twitterfeed but I don't overdo it. Partly because years of absorbing pop culture has taught me that when a creative person goes from 'look at what I produced' to 'look at me!' the quality of their output takes a nosedive... As an old mentor of mine used to say “it doesn’t matter what it claims on the label, it’s what’s in the tin that matters”

But if I'm honest it's mainly because I firmly believe I have a face for radio! Plus as most of my family and friends either aren't on the Facebooks, or if they are, don't use it very often, I don't put up lots of personal snaps up there.

Mind you, the concept of “luring innocent listeners into a web of dreams” is an intriguing one! Not entirely sure what that would entail – will ask the Fishers From Outside next time I encounter them…

Then again, if you switch on the news for five minutes these days, a world of dreams where interesting genre and cultish material is celebrated in a relaxed and hopefully amusing manner does look a far more pleasant place to dwell.

And if my assorted online ramblings may uphold such old school Reithan values of informing, inspiring and entertaining all at the same time, then I’m more than happy to lure in the unwary to a realm that is both a solace and a counterbalance to constant negativity, cynicism and vapid celebrity worship that pervades so much of the media :)

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What is your favourite horror movie magazine ever?

It would have to be The House of Hammer hands down!

Firstly it was an essential source for details on the history of Hammer back in the days before there were several shelves of tomes devoted to this most iconic of horror studios.

Secondly it delivered all the latest news from the world of horror - for example, this fine periodical introduced me to modern masters such as David Cronenberg and George Romero. There were great features and interviews too which broadened my cinematic horizons.

But perhaps best of all were the comic strips - gorgeous adaptations of Hammer classics and macabre twist-in-the-tail shorts introduced by the Cushing Van Helsing. Featuring top notch art from the likes of Brian Bolland, Brian Lewis and John Bolton, these strips were a godsend in the days before the home video age; these comics were the only way to experience these classic movies, at least until the gods of late telly would oblige with a repeat.

And this delightful package was loving wrapped up in lavish painted covers. Iconic, eye catching and often truly beautiful - you'd be hard pressed to find another mag with such a run of brilliant covers.

I'm still dreaming of the day when the entire run is reissued in handsome high quality hardback volumes...

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Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sunday, 3 April 2011

HYPNOBOBS 26 - The Lives & Times of Dr Phibes Part II

This week we continue our epic exploration of the lives and works of Dr Anton Phibes; taking a look at DR PHIBES RISES AGAIN and the various proposed sequels that never happened...

DIRECT DOWNLOADHYPNOBOBS 26 - The Lives & Times of Dr Phibes Part II

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Favourite classic horror films? (anything before 1980)....

So many great films choose from, so few remaining memory cells! Ignoring that terrible feeling I'm forgetting some favorites, a random ten that occur to me right now would be - The Abominable Doctor Phibes, Captain Kronos Vampire Hunter, The Wolf Man, The Phantom of the Opera (silent Lon Chaney Snr version), Carnival of Souls, Dr Terror's House of Horrors, The Innocents, Night of the Demon, Bride of Frankenstein, and Dracula AD 1972 .

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