Cult Movies on DVD

All the best in Cult Movies released onto DVD

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Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Buster Keaton - 3 Films on Blu-rayThis box set presents some of the very best silent movies from the 1920s starring Buster Keaton. It includes “Sherlock Jr.”, “The General” and “Steamboat Bill, Jr.”, along with a wealth of special features and a 60-page book. Each film has been meticulously remastered for Blu-ray from 4K sources, with crisp black and white visuals. Keaton’s trademark physical comedy and impeccable timing have never looked so good.

My review focuses on “The General”, a lively piece set in the early 1860s during the American Civil War. Keaton plays Johnnie Gray, a steam train engineer on the side of the Southern Confederates. Gray’s engine, the titular General, is stolen in an audacious heist by spies from opposing Union forces, and it is down to Gray to recapture the train, rescue his lover who is taken hostage, as well as return home to relay details of a surprise attack.

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Hannibal Brooks - out now on DVDOliver Reed (“Gladiator”, “Oliver!”) stars in this unusual World War II movie about a British soldier’s mission to escort an elephant from a zoo in Munich to Innsbruck in neighbouring Austria. The plan is to take a train but then a German officer commandeers their carriage and Brooks is forced to go on foot, with an attractive Polish cook and two guards for company. Michael Winner of “Death Wish” fame directs.

There is a bit of everything in this film – action, comedy, romance, suspense and at the centre of it all is Lucy the elephant, who acts as both a hindrance and a vital aid when events take a perilous turn. Reluctant soldier Hannibal (Reed) crosses paths time and again with an American POW called Packy (Michael J. Pollard – “Bonnie and Clyde”, “Scrooged”) and his growing guerrilla army, leading to some nervous exchanges.

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Monday, 21 August 2017

Doctor Cyclops - out now on DVDFour experts in disparate fields of science and engineering are summoned to a remote base in the Amazonian jungle where Dr. Thorkel is doing top secret research. Thorkel dismisses them shortly after they arrive, but – curiosity aroused – they insist on staying, determined to find out what the Doctor is working on. The chance discovery of rich radium deposits in a local mine suggests it is not anything good.

Thorkel (Albert Dekker – “The Wild Bunch”, “East of Eden”) traps his visitors and subjects them to a ray that shrinks them to one fifth of their normal size. Their troubles are only just beginning, however, as the Doctor plans to subject them to further laboratory tests before feeding them to his vicious black cat! Can they survive long enough to return to their original size? The director is Ernest B. Schoedsack of 1933 “King Kong” fame.

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Wednesday, 26 July 2017

House of 1,000 Corpses - Out Now on DVDMetal singer Rob Zombie began his movie-directing career with this insane story about two young couples who come unstuck when they encounter a degenerate, murderous family of freaks. Denise, Jerry, Mary and Bill are researching weird and wonderful road-side attractions when they happen across Captain Spaulding’s Museum of Monsters and Madmen. Little do they know that the macabre exhibits within are only a taste of what is to come.

Heavily influenced by the likes of “The Texas Chain Saw Massacre” and “The Hills Have Eyes”, “1000 Corpses” is set the day before Halloween, 1977. Zombie strives desperately hard to shock and amuse in equal measure, and during an early attempted heist of the museum he does succeed, thanks largely to Sid Haig’s superbly jaundiced, devil-may-care performance as Spaulding, a clown bedecked in an outlandish, all-American outfit.

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Monday, 24 October 2016

The Keeping Room - out now on DVD and VOD“The Keeping Room” is a challenging, Western-style tale about two sisters and their slave woman fighting for survival near the end of the American Civil War, 1865. Living on basic rations and with no medical supplies, the trio attract the unwelcome attention of a pair of brutish, cold-blooded Union scouts (Sam Worthington – “Avatar”, “Clash of the Titans” and Kyle Soller – Poldark, You, Me and the Apocalypse).

Brit Marling (Babylon, “Another Earth”) stars as Augusta, the older of the sisters, who must hastily adopt the skills of a mother to protect her sibling, Louise (Hailee Steinfeld – “True Grit”, “Ender’s Game”). The slave, Mad, is played by Muna Otaru (Whitechapel); she finds her relationship to the sisters evolves as trust and teamwork become essential. Outgunned and miles from the next settlement, they stand or fall together.

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Sunday, 18 September 2016

Man in the Moon on DVDKenneth More (“A Night to Remember”, “Sink the Bismarck!”) stars in this madcap British comedy about a human lab rat who is shortlisted for the first manned mission to the moon. William Blood is a man seemingly immune to all ailments, worries and fears. He is unaware of the goal of the mission, the large cash prize attached to it, or that he has a competitor who will stop at nothing to stop him succeeding.

The director is Basil Dearden (“Dead of Night”, The Persuaders!), and the cast also includes Shirley Anne Field (“Alfie”) as a jaw-dropping stripper who catches Blood’s eye, Michael Hordern (“Where Eagles Dare”) as the scientist who sees the hero’s potential, Charles Gray (Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice” and “Diamonds are Forever”) as a devious fellow astronaut and Norman Bird (“The Hill”) as Blood’s best mate.

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Sunday, 14 August 2016

Identicals - out now on DVD and VODAre you happy with your life? If not, would you pass up the opportunity to start anew, leaping into somebody else’s richer or more exciting existence? Dark, sci-fi thriller “Identicals” presents a window into such a possibility. Slater (Lachlan Nieboer – Torchwood, Downton Abbey) experiences a shocking home invasion where his girlfriend Nadia (Nora-Jane Noone – “The Descent”, the Jack Taylor TV movies) is abducted at gunpoint.

Still reeling from the violent attack, Slater receives an invitation to visit Brand New U, a company that specialises in identity transference. In return for essentially becoming a new person, albeit with a similar face, customers must promise to leave their past lives behind and fully embrace their new reality. The punishment for breaking this rule is potentially fatal, but Slater’s love for Nadia proves difficult to shake.

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Sunday, 07 August 2016

Kidnapped with Michael Caine out now on DVDBased on the novels of Robert Louis Stevenson, “Kidnapped” is an adventure story set in the aftermath of the 1746 Battle of Culloden. David Balfour (Lawrence Douglas – The Onedin Line) is an 18-year-old Scotsman who, seeking his inheritance, is kidnapped by his dastardly uncle Ebenezer (Donald Pleasance – “The Great Escape”) and enslaved on a ship bound for the Carolinas. After a fierce fight and resulting shipwreck, Balfour finds himself back on Scottish soil.

He is accompanied by Alan Breck (Michael Caine – “The Italian Job”), a notorious Jacobite rebel being hunted by the British Red Coats. The pair become enmeshed in the assassination of a key British ally and flee for their lives. The film also stars Jack Hawkins (“Zulu”), Trevor Howard (“Ghandi”), Gordon Jackson (Cowley in The Professionals) and Freddie Jones (“The Elephant Man”). Director Delbert Mann won an Oscar for “Marty”.

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

The Harvesting - out now on DVD and VODA family on the edge of collapse leave the city behind for a cleansing vacation in the countryside. Desperate to renew their familial and marital bonds, they settle into their rustic holiday home with a quiet Amish community nearby. Initially the only source of tension is the kids moaning about being bored without their phones, TV and Internet, but the area has a dark past that is about to be reawakened on the advent of the summer solstice.

This creepy horror film stars Elena Caruso (“Cloverfield”) and Chris Conner (The People v OJ Simpson: American Crime Story) as the married couple, Noah Headley and Accalia Quintana (“Dead Man Down”) as their kids, Greg Wood (“The Sixth Sense”, “Signs”) as the leader of the Amish settlement and Jennifer Gareis (“Miss Congeniality”) as one of the Amish women. Director Ivan Kraljevic cut his teeth as a second unit or assistant director on the likes of Colony, Agent Carter and Sons of Anarchy.

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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Bachelor Games - Out now on Video on DemandFive mates arrive in a rustic part of Argentina for a stag do, expecting little more than to get drunk and have some fun. Sure enough, their first night results in booze-fuelled carnage; the next morning they go on a hike into the Andes mountains with sore heads and high spirits. Unfortunately for them, events take a sinister, supernatural turn. Is everything what it seems, and are their friendships still as strong as they make out?

Hot on the heels of the BBC’s Stag mini-series, “Bachelor Games” treads familiar horror-comedy ground, albeit in relatively fresh and visually impressive surroundings. The movie stars Jack Gordon (“Panic Button”) as stag Henry, Charlie Bewley (“The Twilight Saga: New Moon”) as hunky best man Leon, along with Jack Doolan (“Cemetery Junction”), Mike Noble (“Gambit”) and Obi Abili (Injustice) as the rest of the party members.

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Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Face of Eve out now on DVDMike Yates (Robert Walker Jr) is a pilot and adventurer on the trail of lost Inca treasure in “The Face of Eve”. He goes searching for his business partner, Sean Moore, lost while out in his plane. During the hunt, he is saved from savages by Eve, a beautiful white jungle goddess who wields a strange power over her subjects. Soon, both Yates and Eve are involved in a dangerous race deep in the wilderness to locate the hidden treasure, in this new DVD release from Network.

Christopher Lee and Herbert Lom also feature in this adventure on a budget, but the star is the captivating Celeste Yarnall – to Star Trek fans forever Yeoman Martha Landon from the episode “The Apple”, as well as guesting as Andrea Fouchet in The Man from UNCLE story “The Monks of St Thomas Affair”. She was later immortalised as the blood-thirsty temptress Diane LeFanu in the 1971 cult horror classic “The Velvet Vampire”.  This is Tarzan with curves, in an yarn which has a sub-plot which lets it rise above the standard type of production in this sub-genre.

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Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Call Up -out now on DVD and VODA select group of video gamers is lured to an imposing skyscraper by the opportunity to win £100,000 in a virtual reality competition. Donning state of the art haptic body suits and head sets, the players are enrolled in a military shooter featuring 25 floors of increasingly difficult challenges. If they get shot in the game the players can instantly be healed by a med-pack, but the pain will feel real. Playing online from your couch is one thing; this is real warfare.

Written and directed by Charles Barker, the film stars Morfydd Clark (“Love & Friendship”), Parker Sawyers (“Zero Dark Thirty”), Max Deacon (“Into the Storm”), Tom Benedict Knight (“Kick-Ass 2”), Ali Cook (“The Anomaly”), Adriana Randall (“Triple 9”) and Douggie McMeekin as the gamers, with Chris Obi (“Snow White and the Huntsman”) as a very scary drill Sergeant. The producers have been involved with movies such as “The Machine”, “Monsters: Dark Continent” and “Dracula Untold”.

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Sunday, 03 April 2016

Jeruzalem - out now on DVD and VOD“Jeruzalem” is a found-footage horror movie about the opening of one of the gates of Hell. Two American tourists on their way to Tel Aviv are persuaded by a handsome historian to take a detour to Jerusalem, just as the ancient city is about to mark Yom Kippur, also known as the Day of Atonement. Their holiday is interrupted by some disturbing goings-on and rapidly descends into a supernatural nightmare.

Rather than using traditional video camera or mobile phone footage, this time events are witnessed through Google Glass-style smart eyewear that Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) is trying out. As we follow her and friend Rachel (Yael Grobglas), facial recognition, Facebook posts and other social media windows pop up in ‘our’ field of view, helping to drive the story forwards and also add some occasional humour.

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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Dragnet - the 1987 movie out now on DVD“Dragnet”, an August 1987 comedy spoof movie adaption of the original long-running television series, is back on DVD. Dan Aykroyd plays rule-bound, straight-laced and stiff Joe Friday, nephew of the original series character of the same name. Double Oscar winner Tom Hanks is the more streetwise and relaxed Pep Streebeck, and the pair learn a trick or two from each other as they save the City of Angels from street wars, porn barons and secret societies. Add in a television evangelist and a Police Commissioner working to her own rules, and the stage is set for hilarity! 

Very much paving the way for Leslie Nielsen’s “The Naked Gun” series of movies in 1988, 1991 and 1994 (itself based on a TV series, 1982’s Police Squad!), it might well have been that the success of “Dragnet” led to Nielsen’s Frank Drebin character getting the ‘big screen’ treatment. Certainly, a failed six-edition half-hour television comedy doesn’t normally become a sure-fire choice for a major long-form adaption, even if the people behind it had been those who engineered the runaway success which was “Airplane!”

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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Last Shift - now available on DVDA rookie cop is assigned caretaker duties at a defunct police station on its final night before closure. Office Loren (Juliana Harkavy – The Walking Dead, “Dolphin Tale”) is led to expect a quiet night with no calls or visitors. The reality is a little different, and before long she is assaulted by all manner things that go bump in the night. The old facility has a particularly nasty history and it is seeping into the present.

Playing a little like a supernatural version of “Assault on Precinct 13” combined with “The Evil Dead”, the film feels simultaneously innovative and derivative. The clean and brightly-lit station provides a welcome change from the traditionally grimy cabin in the woods or dilapidated asylum settings featured in other films of this ilk, and the contrast when the lights go out is all the more stark and effective.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Undercover Brother - out now on DVD“Undercover Brother” is a high-energy comedy about a team of black agents striving to overcome a shadowy mega-corp headed by The Man, a Blofeld-esque super-villain. Penned by John Ridley (“Three Kings”) and Michael McCullers (“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”), the film stars Eddie Griffin (“Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo”) as the titular all-action crusader, whose ample afro and sharp 70s outfits define him.

The movie co-stars Aunjanue Ellis (“Ray”) as the high-kicking Sistah Girl, Denise Richards (“Starship Troopers”) as blonde bombshell White She Devil, Chris Kattan (Saturday Night Live) as The Man’s conflicted flunky, Chi McBride (Lou Grover in Hawaii Five-0) as the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. team’s irascible boss and Dave Chappelle (“Block Party”) as the rather nervy Conspiracy Brother. The director is Malcolm D Lee (“Scary Movie 5”).

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Monday, 09 November 2015

Man from the Future - out now on UK DVDReleased in its native Brazil as “O Homem do Futuro”, the plot of this neat little tale follows Zero (Wagner Moura), a madcap scientist, whose life changed 20 years ago (in 1991) when he was publicly humiliated by being covered in honey and feathers and hoisted above the 'prom night' audience at his college. He believes the stunt was masterminded by Helena (Alinne Moraes), a then-first-year physics student, who he considered up until that point to be the love of his life. In the present day 2011, he is a top boffin, currently using a very expensive particle converter to try and create a revolutionary free energy source.

In order to prove his theories, and the equipment, he decides to put himself at the centre of the experiment event to show it is safe. However, things don’t go according to plan, and inexplicably he finds himself travelling back in time to the worst day of his life. The dilemma for him is whether he should change the course of history, and indeed his destiny, in order to get a happier life and end up with Helena. However, the result is not what he had hoped for, and in some ways he has made things worse. Against all odds, this ends up as a feel-good foreign language slice of SF which is a credit to Brazilian cinema.

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Wednesday, 05 August 2015

The Cat and the Canary - out now on DVDBob Hope ("Road to Morocco", "The Paleface") stars in this classic haunted house comedy. A decade ago, millionaire Cyrus Norman passed away and now his attorney (George Zucco - "The Pirate") has gathered six relatives to his rickety old mansion to learn which of them has hit the jackpot. Awaiting them is house keeper Miss Lu, an austere and rather sinister lady played by Gale Sondergaard ("Road to Rio"), and a hostile black cat.

The identity of the heir or heiress is quickly revealed, but then things take a turn for the worse when the party discovers that a ghoulish, demented serial killer known as 'The Cat' has escaped from an asylum and is lurking in the neighbourhood. With no way to escape the house situated in the alligator-infested bayou until morning, the fractious, frightened relatives have no choice but to sit tight and hope they survive the night.

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Wednesday, 05 August 2015

Nor the Moon by Night - out now on DVD“Nor the Moon by Night” is a three-handed tale, where two of the three stars will be well-known to Cult TV appreciators. However, it is the female lead of the trio who is an enigma, to die young and now almost forgotten, tragedy striking at a time when her acting career could have been going either way. Patrick McGoohan, creative force and star of The Prisoner plays Chief Warden Andrew Miller of a game reserve, with his less-constrained brother Rusty acting as Deputy Warden, given form by Michael Craig – Captain John Anderson of Triangle fame, who would eventually decamp to Australia and play Dr William Sharp in 262 episodes of GP from 1989 to 1995.

Known as “Elephant Gun” or “Rencontre au Kenya” in some territories, the starlet playing alongside our male duo is Belinda Lee. Her character, Alice Lang, stuck in England looking after her bedridden mother, has pen-friended Andrew for four years, and yearns to join him in Africa. Andrew treats the romance as more of a business transaction, marriage being something he is expected to do. When Alice’s mother dies overnight, it seems she is finally free to begin love’s great adventure, only for it to be almost immediately derailed. Duty means Andrew has to see to some elephants which are keen on escaping his reserve. And so, Rusty is sent to deputise, meeting Alice from her train at the local Duikers Drift station.

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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, 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, 25 May 2015

Falcon Rising - available now on DVD and Video On DemandEx-marine John 'Falcon' Chapman (Michael Jai White - "Spawn", Arrow) suffers from chronic PTSD and is suicidal. He takes a call from an old friend in Rio de Janeiro, learning of a terrible attack on his sister. Chapman flies to Brazil and immediately starts making waves, despite being told to keep his nose out. Bad things are going down in the favelas including drug dealing, prostitution and murder, but nobody is willing to come forwards with evidence.

Aided by Detectives Santo (Jimmy Navarro - Crossbones) and Bororo (stuntman Lateef Crowder - "The Hunger Games"), plus the more diplomatically-minded Da' Silva (Millie Ruperto - "Reclaim") and US Ambassador (Neal McDonough - "Captain America: The First Avenger", Desperate Housewives), Chapman discovers that the fearsome Japanese Yakuza are involved, and they have some powerful people in their pockets.

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Sunday, 03 May 2015

Half Light - back on DVDDemi Moore stars in this romantic, supernatural thriller about a best-selling novelist who escapes to a remote Scottish cottage after the tragic death of her young son. Rachel Carlson (Moore - "Ghost", "A Few Good Men") leaves her troubled relationship with her husband behind to concentrate on her latest book, unexpectedly becoming close friends with a local lighthouse keeper (Hans Matheson - "Sherlock Holmes", "300: Rise of an Empire").

Strange events suggest that Rachel's son (Beans El-Balawi - "28 Weeks Later") is trying to communicate with her from beyond the grave, but to what end? The more Rachel learns about the history of her new locale, the more disturbed she becomes, and a local medium (Therese Bradley - "Young Adam") only adds to her sense of unease. The film is written and directed by Craig Rosenberg (Lost, "After the Sunset").

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Monday, 27 April 2015

Evil Aliens - out on DVDDirector Jake West describes "Evil Aliens" as a 'splatstick' movie, reminiscent of the early, low budget works of Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson, where humour and horror intersected with buckets of gore. West ("The ABCs of Death", "Doghouse") opts for aliens rather than zombies or dark spirits, and sets them on the cast and crew of a cable TV show about extraterrestrial encounters, who finally and fatally witness the real deal.

Emily Booth (also of "Doghouse" but more well known as an actual TV presenter) stars as the struggling TV series' cleavage-revealing host Michelle Fox, aka Foxy. She is offered an ultimatum by her boss (Red Dwarf's Norman Lovett, in a cameo): make your next episode a smash hit or lose your job. She tracks down an alien abduction survivor with a suspect pregnancy, on an island with a mystical stone circle, and drags along some actors and Gavin Gorman, a nerdy E T expert from BURC, the British Ufo Research Committee (Jamie Honeybourne - "GamerZ") to help make the show.

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Monday, 27 April 2015

The Paleface - out now on DVDIn this comedy Western, Calamity Jane (Jane Russell - "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes") is broken out of jail and offered a pardon in return for her help in foiling the plans of a bunch of gun runners. Their illicit activity threatens to ignite a war between the native Indians and white settlers. An traitor soon threatens Jane's mission and she is forced to adapt her plans, marrying and dragging along 'Painless' Peter Potter, a bemused dentist (Bob Hope - "Road to Rio").

Together, the couple face danger at every turn, with Peter mistakenly gaining celebrity status for Jane's sharp-shooting exploits. Thinking himself a hero, the dentist wades into deadly confrontations with both the criminal gang smuggling weapons and the Indians into whose territory they unwittingly stray. Much perilous, slapstick action ensues, with Peter trying to understand Jane's constant mood swings and strange behaviour.

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