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Join us for the latest on the best in extraordinary fictional television and film from the past, present and future, and analysis on its cultural impacts.

Find out about the amazing facts in fiction, and discover the truth about what's really going on in the World around us...

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Alex G

Alex G

Tuesday, 25 June 2013 00:00

Horrors of the Black Museum

Horrors of the Black Museum - restored on DVDMichael Gough takes centre stage in this British 1959 horror feature. A box-office gem, shot at Merton Park studios in the relatively new CinemaScope format (plus 'Hypno-Vista'!), “Horrors of the Black Museum” was the first in what has been dubbed Anglo-Amalgamated’s ‘Sadian trilogy” (with “Circus of Horrors” and “Peeping Tom”), in which the keynote is sensationalistic, sexually charged violence. And now Network have issued a restored print in its original aspect ratio.

While a series of grisly, macabre and seemingly motiveless murders leaves Scotland Yard baffled, leading crime writer and journalist Edmond Bancroft (Gough), hampered by having to walk with a cane, is following events with particular interest. The victims are always young women with no ties. When it is discovered that a young man, Rick (Graham Curnow), who works for Bancroft, seems to be somehow tied up in the killings, it becomes clear that his mentor is delighting in the Yard's embarrassment.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013 00:00

Devil Girl from Mars DVD

Devil Girl from Mars - restored and on DVDBack in May 1954 the British B-movie “Devil Girl from Mars” made its way to local cinemas, and gave us a vision of how a rural tavern in the Highlands would cope with an alien clad like a dominatrix with accompanying robot, when their mission is to herd the best of the local male gene pool back to their planet. The movie is featured here in a brand-new transfer from original film elements, and is notable for its sound editor, a certain Gerald Anderson, who went on to become better known as... Gerry Anderson!

Lending support to Patricia Laffan’s vinyl-clad Nyah is John Laurie (Frasier of Dad’s Army fame) as Mr Jamieson, whose way to cope with the situation is to cadge another dram. Adrienne Corri plays Doris, who tries not to get flustered, while Hammer Horror queen Hazel Court is Ellen Prestwick, who becomes a rival to Nyah.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 00:00

Handgun comes to DVD

Handgun from Tony Garnett out now on DVD“Handgun” was made in 1982, and was known as “Deep in the Heart” Stateside. It didn’t get a release there until early 1984, with the action set in the heart of Texas. Written, produced and directed by British film and television veteran Tony Garnett, his credits include the likes of “Kes”, Between the Lines and This Life. “Handgun”, like so many of Network Releasing’s recent titles, is featured on this DVD in a brand-new transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio.

Karen Young gives an intense performance as a victim of sexual violence who turns vigilante. With one broken relationship still fresh in her mind, Kathleen Sullivan is in no mood to take on a new boyfriend. Larry the lawyer (Clayton Day), however, in love with his own reflection and with a dubious obsession for guns and schoolgirls (glancing successively at one after another along a school corridor), will not tolerate her rebuffs. Treading the fine line of what the law of the land will let him get away with, he instigates an almost-textbook assault on her, which leaves the police nothing they can hang a conviction on.

Monday, 13 May 2013 00:00

Konga storms onto DVD

Konga storms onto DVDHere we herald the home entertainment debut of one of the first monster movies to be made in the UK in colour. “Konga” is an alternative interpretation of the King Kong mythos, with Michael Gough as Dr Charles Decker, a botanist and university professor, and the only survivor of a plane crash in Africa (the less said about the effects on that scene the better).

When he returns from the jungle, he brings with him ‘Konga’, a baby chimpanzee. During the course of his experiments, Decker discovers a serum that causes Konga to grow and grow, and even to obey his will. He encounters much opposition to his experiments and, following an obsession with a female pupil where he looks like his amorous intent will be thwarted by a rival, he decides to put the supersized ape to terrifying use - which eventually terrorises the whole of London.

Monday, 22 April 2013 00:00

On The Fiddle - DVD

On The Fiddle - out now on DVDYou can be forgiven for not ever hearing of “On The Fiddle”, a jolly jape of a movie from 1961. On the verge of international stardom, Sean Connery took one of the lead roles in this adaptation of R F Delderfield’s novel “Stop at a Winner”, scripted by Harold Buchman (the co-creator of TV lawyer Petrocelli). The story has a couple of lovable service dodgers becoming accidental heroes. It’s a measured performance from Connery, not portraying any of the facets that would come to the fore the following year when he made his debut as 007 in “Dr No”. It’s almost like he’s channelling Bernard Bresslaw in his approach.

The film has been the subject of a brand-new transfer from original film elements, in its as-exhibited theatrical aspect ratio (1.66:1). Its wartime setting does make the film appear older than it actually is, such is the accuracy of the era that it manages to encapsulate. You can imagine it having raised many a knowing chuckle amongst those in the original audience who recalled wartime, which was then only a couple of decades in the past. Veterans will no doubt feel the same when viewing it today.

Monday, 22 April 2013 00:00

Spanish Fly comes to DVD

Spanish Fly comes to DVDPicture the scene.  It’s 1976, and the British cinema has become a home for mild titillation. With Page 3 of ‘The Sun’ in its heyday, mixing such study of the female form with a humour built on the foundations of male frustration seemed to be a winning recipe at the Box Office.  Marking the height, or for some the nadir, of such productions is “Spanish Fly”, now making its way onto the home market as a DVD, allowing it to be seen for the first time since its original cinematic release.

Having been remastered from original film materials, this version includes a print in the as-exhibited cinema aspect ratio. The premise declares that this is “Leslie Philips v Terry-Thomas”, with an onscreen battle of wills to see who comes out on top, in literally every possible meaning of the phrase. If you’re looking for a film that deepens the understanding of the human condition, then this isn’t it. However, if you want to see what sort of movie became the successor to the “Carry On” films, burning brightly for just a short time, then consider “Spanish Fly” as part of your education.

Thursday, 21 March 2013 00:00

Mr Rose Series 3 on DVD

Mr Rose - Series Three out now on DVDThe enduring character of Scotland Yard’s Chief Inspector Rose was first introduced in The Odd Man and It’s Dark Outside, Granada’s cult crime series of the early 1960s. In this sequel, reaching its third and final series with this DVD release from Network, we continue the acerbic detective’s adventures within a rather restless retirement.

This is the final run of stories to feature the character. It is again set against the backdrop of his city flat, very out of character as it is very minimalist and futuristic, and we watch him tackling crimes ranging from blackmail to murder, art theft to protection rackets. His aide, John Halifax, is away for the duration of the season, so brought into play, to prod Rose to finish his second book of memoirs, is publisher’s assistant Robert Trent, played by Eric Woofe.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:00

It's Dark Outside: on DVD

It's Dark Outside - out on DVDIt's Dark Outside is the second series in Granada's cult crime/suspense trilogy featuring the character of Charles Rose. In this format, we see William Mervyn reprising the role of the charismatic Inspector, first introduced in The Odd Man. Although two series of It's Dark Outside were made, the second was thought completely lost until research for this release unearthed two episodes, which still existed on film. Newly transferred, these episodes have been included alongside all those from series one.

Here, we follow the sharp-witted and memorably prickly detective as he tackles a fresh batch of cases. Assisting Rose in Series One is the more amenable DS Swift (played by a sprightly Keith Barron), with John Carson as solicitor Anthony Brand and June Tobin as Brand's journalist wife, Alice. For 1960s television, the subject matter is very edgy, touching into the arenas of racism, wrongful hanging of innocent people, cult sects and gambling addictions. There is even the spectre of adultery, as Swift and Alice find themselves tragically attracted to each other.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013 00:00

Fear and Desire Blu-ray/DVD

Fear and Desire - Lost Kubrick on Blu-ray and DVDCopyrighted 1952, Independently financed with contributions from Stanley Kubrick's family and friends in an era when an ‘independent cinema’ was still far from the norm, “Fear and Desire” got its release in 1953 at the Guild Theater in New York, thanks to the enterprising distributor Joseph Burstyn. Now, with a new restoration carried out in 2012 by The Library of Congress, a film that for decades has remained nearly impossible to see has a proper release in the United Kingdom.

This Kubrick tale tells the story of an unspecified war waged between two forces. It is timeless, not specifying whether this is the past, present of future. In the midst of the conflict, a plane carrying four soldiers crashes six miles behind enemy lines. From here on in, it is kill or be killed. Kubrick once described it as “an ambitious allegory”.

Sunday, 17 February 2013 21:22

The Race is On: on DVD

The Race is On - A Trio of CFF films on DVDCatch a young Michael Crawford (Frank Spencer of Some Mothers do 'Ave 'Em fame) in “Soapbox Derby” from 1957, the most senior entry in a trio of Children’s Film Foundation (CFF) movies collected together under the banner “The Race is On”. Crawford plays Peter Toms, the club-leader of The Battersea Bats who, are determined to win a soapbox derby – home-made go-karts, basically. As always seems to be the case, they face betrayal when local rivals, The Victoria Victors, enter the competition too.

Also in contention on this release is “The Sky-Bike” from 1967, which features Liam Redmond (Henry in You’re Only Young Twice) as Mr Lovejoy, the down-on-his-luck mastermind behind a flying bike. Completing the line-up is “Sammy’s Super T-Shirt”, a 1978 parody of The Six Million Dollar Man (Sammy even has an illustrated poster of Steve Austin on his bedroom wall) with an irradiated Tiger T-shirt seemingly the key to the unlocking of super-human powers. Once again, the care put into CFF releases like this is clear for all to see, and rightly these titles power through extreme levels of nostalgia. And you could have won one of three copies of the DVD, plus a Tiger T-Shirt for the person first out of the electronic hat, in our prize competition.

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