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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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Sunday, 05 July 2015

Hawk The Slayer - out now on Blu-rayHailed as a cult classic, "Hawk the Slayer" is a sword-and-sorcery tale of brotherly conflict, dark magic and medieval-style battles. Relative newcomer John Terry (Lost, "Full Metal Jacket") stars as Hawk, a wiry young innocent whose father and wife are butchered by his jealous brother Voltan (Jack Palance - "Shane", "City Slickers"). Swearing to avenge their deaths, Hawk builds a small but loyal band of fighters to take on his brother's army.

Heavily influenced by the likes of JRR Tolkien and endeavouring to ride the sci-fi/fantasy wave crested by "Star Wars", this ITC-produced movie may not boast the budget of some of its 1980s' counterparts such as "Krull", "Ladyhawke" and "The Beastmaster", but it has plenty of action, a fantastic villain and a crafty sense of fun that keeps it bubbling along despite the on-screen death and destruction.

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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Parks and Recreation - finale season 7 out on DVDParks and Recreation's seventh and final season arrives on DVD, and fans have the bittersweet experience of seeing their favourite characters engage in daft and heart-warming antics one last time. Over the course of these 13 episodes we get to see how Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler - "Inside Out") and her old local government co-workers have blossomed, and where their lives will take them in the future.

The season opens in the year 2017 and as usual, not everything is going to plan. Mysteriously, Leslie and Ron (Nick Offerman - "22 Jump Street") are on opposite sides of a bitter battle for a large patch of land in Pawnee, Indiana. Leslie wants to turn it into a new national park, whilst Ron is batting for a large technology company called Gryzzl that wants to build on it. Can Leslie turn things around and save her belovèd home town?

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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

New Thunderbirds Are Go - Volume 1 out on DVD but not Blu-rayWhenever disaster strikes, International Rescue answers the call from their hidden island base, somewhere in the south Pacific. The five Tracy brothers pilot remarkable, cutting-edge vehicles - from the depths of the oceans to the highest reaches of space, all for one purpose: to help others in need. And that, just like its 50 year-old predecessor, is the premise of Thunderbirds Are Go, the first 13 episodes of which are out now on DVD, this being ITV’s reboot of a formula which SHOULD have everything any audience member could want – action, peril, drama, and loads of explosions.

Except… there aren’t many, if any, explosions. The action is so scattergun and machine-gun it’s difficult to build up any anxiety, creeping dread, or any empathy for the characters in peril. Of course, it’s at this stage that the three-line whip comes into action, deflecting any criticism with the stock phrase: “you are NOT the target audience”. I am beginning to feel like Captain Kirk in “Star Trek V” when he politely asked the deity-in-waiting: “Excuse me… what does God need with a starship?” Well, I regret to say, I’m here today to call the Emperor out. This dude is not wearing any clothes!

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Monday, 22 June 2015

The Syndicate - out now on DVDMurder, sabotage and suspicion are rife in this British thriller about a fractious band of uranium prospectors seeking riches in the east African bush. William Sylvester ("2001: A Space Odyssey") stars as a mining expert in an excellent ensemble cast that also features June Ritchie ("A Kind of Loving"), Robert Urquhart ("The Curse of Frankenstein"), German actor Christian Doermer and John Bennett (a classic Doctor Who guest star, having played Li H'sen Chang in “The Talons of Weng-Chiang” and General Finch in “The Invasion of the Dinosaurs”).

A two-vehicle convoy travels through an unforgiving and vast African landscape; several days pass before they locate a site where their Geiger counter twitches into life. Having set up camp, the prospectors instruct their Swahili workers to start digging, but it is not long before a series of setbacks and deadly accidents occurs, creating an atmosphere of distrust and fear. Who is undermining their operation and why?

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Monday, 22 June 2015

Mr Denning Drives North - out now on DVDJohn Mills ("Great Expectations", "Gandhi") stars in this riveting British thriller in the Hitchcock vein. Tom Denning (Mills) is a successful aircraft designer whose life takes a rather dramatic turn when he accidentally kills his daughter Liz's disreputable suitor during an argument. Panicking and not wanting to sully his daughter's name, Denning makes it look like the deceased has left the country, and then dumps the body in a ditch to resemble a hit and run incident.

By placing a distinctive ring on one of the corpse's fingers, Denning assumes nobody will match the jewellery with the missing person. Despite his cunning plan, Denning is soon consumed by guilt, apprehension and plagued by terrible nightmares. After weeks with no news he is unable to sit tight any longer, divulging everything to his caring wife Kay (Phyllis Calvert - "The Man in Grey"). He returns to the ditch to find that the body has gone.

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Monday, 29 June 2015

The Avengers Series 5 comes to Blu-rayJohn Steed (played by the late, great Patrick Macnee) and Mrs Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) made a huge global impact in The Avengers. With the new release of Series 5 on Blu-ray, containing all but one of Rigg’s colour episodes, we see the duo bending slightly to cater for the American audience. The Stateside viewers had been able to seek out the previous Series 4, filmed in monochrome, which had been bought by American network ABC on the agreement that Series 5 would move into colour. And you had the chance to win one of three sets on Blu-ray that we had on offer in our prize competition.

Despite having to import some Americanisms (‘flats’ are now ‘apartments’, ‘lifts’ are ‘elevators’), this is still shot as a travelogue of the British urban climes and countryside, with empty roads and green and pleasant lands acting as backdrops on so much of the location shooting. No doubt some Americans of that era got their impression of Brits and our country from watching The Avengers – and in some respects we’ve never shaken those sensibilities. How many English villains in Hollywood movies come over as if they’ve just been exported from an episode of The Avengers?

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Thunderbirds Are Go and Thunderbirds 6 - out now on UK Blu-rayWith a new reboot on ITV, it wouldn’t be long before the Blu-ray versions of the big screen movies from the 1960s of Thunderbirds would finally make their way to the UK. We’re talking about “Thunderbirds are Go” (1966) and “Thunderbird 6” (1968). Mostly forgotten, even at the time, due to very lacklustre box office returns, they are far more than being double-length TV episodes, filmed entirely in an extreme cinematic aspect ratio, with no carriage over of footage from the small screen adventures. And you had the chance to win one of three copies of both releases which we had up for grabs in our prize competition.

Gerry Anderson often told the story that Lew Grade confided in him that he couldn’t make his mind up whether the first of the movies would out-perform James Bond at the Box Office or not. The problem was that even the sales line that this was your chance to see International Rescue in glorious colour, something not afforded the monochrome television audiences of the time, did not make the case for the cinema audience to buy their tickets. Perhaps they were too dumb to realise these were all-new adventures, with everything illustrated on a much bigger canvas?

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Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Flying Deuces - out now on Blu-ray and DVD"The Flying Deuces" is the first Laurel and Hardy feature to have been released on Blu-ray in the UK, representing a high-definition treat for fans of the inimitable comedy duo. The story sees the wayward friends enrolling into the French Foreign Legion as a way to forget their woes, earn some dough and go on an adventure, little bargaining for the back-breaking work and tough disciplinary rules that await them in sun-drenched Morocco.

The film contains all the traits expected of a classic Laurel and Hardy tale, and some rather unusual ones besides. There is plenty of the slapstick antics Stan and Ollie are so famous for, along with adorable naivety, love interest and more peril than even this pair are accustomed to! The director is A Edward Sutherland ("Beyond Tomorrow"), also an actor who played one of the Keystone Kops.

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Sunday, 07 June 2015

Complete Speed - out now on DVD and Blu-rayIn the wake of the recent Top Gear fiasco, Guy Martin's name was near the top of many people's lists for replacement presenters. Having seen the eight daring feats documented in this new release, it would be difficult to disagree. Already a legend in the field of motorbike racing, Guy's love of engineering is combined with an unquenchable thirst for fresh, thrill-seeking challenges, and a desire to push his body and mind to their limits.

This box set includes both series as shown on Channel 4. Each of the eight episodes task Guy with breaking a speed or distance record on land, water or in the air. Surrounded by small teams of British pioneers in the fields of science, engineering and human endurance, Guy must construct innovative vehicles and undergo intense physical training to give him the best possible chance of success, whilst minimising the risk to life and limb.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Naked Truth - out nowHave you ever wondered what the role of a costume designer entails? Or indeed how it differs from other clothing-specific titles and job descriptions within the TV and movies business? Jean-Pierre Dorléac, well-known to attendees of the Cult TV Festival, tackles the demarcation at the same time as pulling back the curtain on this aspect of Hollywood, in his book “The Naked Truth”. Covering the years from 1973 to 1985, the choice of timeframe is very deliberate. This was the era when the classic glamour creators of Tinseltown were almost totally side-lined, replaced by pushy wannabes with no background or knowledge in their craft. All brought about by bean counters who put the bottom line ahead of quality.

This is the story of what Jean-Pierre needed to do to make ends meet, while establishing his name so as to be thought of when relevant projects neared production. As many a media person will tell you, networking is essential. It really is a case that what you know is not nearly as important as who you know. Connections beget contracts. So whether it was work for the theatre, television, film, couture, burlesque, ballet, or stars who wanted to make an impact when they were seen out-and-about, Jean-Pierre was civil to everyone, as he sorted the wheat from the chaff.

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