Saturday, 30 September 2017

Universal 1935B

Ah, not "based on", not "from the story of", but "suggested by". Why are we not using that term more? Anyway, this is the suggestion of The Raven.

A doctor is called upon to save a young woman, and falls in love (more likely lust) with her. But her father has other ideas, and when a genius has a woman taken away from him, we get our thin connection with the poem that is quote by Lugosi throughout the movie. Lusogi is the doctor, and gets his own servant in the form of Karloff (see below), with the idea of kidnapping the woman and killing the father (via the pendulum of the pit). But, wait, the monstrous servant feels betrayed by his supposed saviour/master and turns against him! And quickly have a less than minute scene to wrap up the leads living on.

This is removed from the story (suggested by!) and so becomes largely a basic run on "stay at evil person's lair, then escape". No-one really feels like they are putting in a huge effort. It's not terrible, but it's not great either.

As this seems to be a common image (although this was my own screen cap).


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Friday, 29 September 2017

Batmanning 66.1

I didn't just pick up the Batman 66 episodes, I picked up the big deal pack with cards and a Batmobile! And I didn't get any old versions, I got the BluRays!

So, who is the first villain Batman faces? The Clown Prince? The Felonious Feline? The Bent Bird? No, it is the Prince of Puzzlers, the Riddler! (As opposed to the Puzzler, who would turn up later.)

In fact, Joker would be after Penguin, who's up next. In this first season we get such classic villains as Zelda the Great, False Face, and Bookwyrm... and whole one of whom would be in more than one pair of episodes.

What is interesting here is how the format of the show is still settling. We are used to the "Same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel", but it isn't until about halfway through the season that it sticks around. And the beginning of the second half is a full recap of what happened in the previous episode, instead of just "Batman is in this trap". And remember the classic person sitting up sticking their head out of the window? We get that only once, at the end, in this season.

That aside, this is still the classic series we remember. The most remarkable thing is just how much the actors commit to their bits. Adam West points out that the comedy comes because they treat everything so seriously, despite it being Bateverything and Holy everythingelse.

Camp? Yep. But fun? You betcha!


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Wednesday, 27 September 2017


It seems that the most important fact about this movie is that it is by Darren Aronosky... I'm not sure I have seen his other films, so that doesn't matter to me.

It seems this is one of those movies where you can't talk about the plot because spoilers. If you say so. What I will say is: that escalated quickly.

I will also say that I didn't get the imagery that was alluded too all over the place until the end, and now I'm over-trying to fit everything into the movie.

So what can I say? The point of view of the movie is Jennifer Lawrence, and the camera follows her exclusively. This does help ramp up the tension as there is a lot of reassuring things happening just out of her view, so we get the knock on effect of "that's good over there, but we are over here where that isn't happening", and that gets unsettling. Not so much that I believed she wasn't a proper adult who could take care of herself, but the movie is very much putting her in the endangered position.

So yes, a good movie. But don't expect an easy watch.


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Monday, 25 September 2017

TELOS: Eye of the Tyger

“So we can set stories during any part of the tv series right?” “Yes, exactly, so how about a-” “Then have I got an Eighth Doctor story for you!”

Fyne is a proper Britishman, in that he is in India, in charge of the natives, and imposing his view. As it happens, he is attacked by a tyger and gets a nano-tech virus in him that turns him into a Tyger-man. The Doctor takes him away and they end up in a fight between officers and farmers. Of course Fyne decides that the officers are the ones in the right, and does what he can.. although not what he should.

This feels like more of a lightweight story, especially after the last few. This moves along, although jumping from India to an asteroid is a bit jarring, and feels more like Paul McAuley wanted to establish a companion before getting to the adventure he wanted to tell. And possibly imply furry sex, I’m not sure.

This is very “novella”, on one hand it’s too lightweight, on the other it’s good to have something more straightforward.


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Sunday, 24 September 2017

Universal 1935A

Is this the first case of an unwarranted sequel? Despite everyone dying, they still all live! This is Bride of Frankenstein.

For those of us who can't remember what happened, we start with the three authors, Mary, Shelly and Byron, talking about the previous movie. Mary then goes on to say what happened next. Fortunately Henry and the monster weren't dead, phew, so we can go on. Henry's pupal, Pretorius, comes to him asking to join with him, and create a woman, but Henry isn't interested. The monster, meanwhile, roams the countryside, befriends a blind man, and learns how to speak. He then captures Elizabeth, forcing Henry to work with Pretorius. And with five minutes to go, they whip up a bride, and everyone lives happily ever after! Or die, because that worked so well last time.

Okay... so we have that Henry lives, unlike the book, Elizabeth is still alive, unlike the book, someone else knows how to create life, unlike the book, and a female monster is made, unlike the book. Other than that, yeah, a perfect sequel!

Aside from that, Karloff makes the monster far more interesting once he can speak. And Ernest Thesiger is great as Doctor Pretorius. Although the movie never names who plays the bride, so we'll never know it was Elsa Lanchester (who plays Mary the author).

This has a fine last act. It's just the first two that drag this out.


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Monday, 18 September 2017

TELOS: Frayed

Remember how Kim Newman blew our minds for daring to set a story before the series? Stephen Cole says “hold my beer”. I mean, Tara Samms… yes…

It’s an outpost under siege, so we are in familiar territory. Into this situation comes an old man and his granddaughter. Who is that? They are given the titles/names the Doctor and Susan… Yes! Bam! How did they get their names? This is how!

The under siege aspect is fairly commonplace, with the humans being trashy to each other as well as trying to fight the enemies. There is a second plot as well about a strange dream space where people lose their mouths. It takes a while for the plots to connect, but they finally do… and in fact the enemies have nothing to do with the dream plot, which is kinda unusual. Usually plots are tied together, but Tara takes a brave step away from that.

But basically, the gimmick of the names makes this story annoy me far too much.


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Saturday, 16 September 2017

Universal 1934

Another Edger Allan Poe adaptation, and while I haven't read the original story, I'm guessing this is adapted even more abstractly than Murder on Rue Morgue. This is The Black Cat.

A couple and a random doctor are on a bus that tips over, so they seek shelter for the night at the local castle, which happens to be owned by the frenemy of the doctor. The owner has this habit of turning women into statues, and has designs on the latest woman, having previously done this to the doctor's wife and marrying the doctor's daughter. The man just wants to leave, but the butler stops him, and the woman is taken for evil purposes. The doctor barely manages to get her to safety, and capture the mad owner, but gets shot by the guy trying to leave. The couple does eventually leave, with the castle blowing up behind them.

You may have noticed a certain conspicuous absence in that recap, namely that of a cat. There is a black cat in a few scenes, and the doctor is terrified of it, but that's about it. Aside from being held, it parts no part in the narrative. I'm guessing, given Poe, it had more of a role to play, but here it is rather superfluous.

Although what we do have is Lugosi (the doctor) and Karloff (the owner) in the same movie and at odds with each other. That is great stuff, and the scenes they share have a definite frisson to them. I hope this happens more in the movies to come, but it is quite enjoyable here.

Better than I was expecting.


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Friday, 15 September 2017

Star Trek the Next 7!

This is it! The last season! Prepare to meet all the relatives!

There are some fantastic episodes here, such as Parallels, Thine Own Self, Lower Decks, Masks, Preemptive Strike and of course the last one.

However, we also meet Geordi's mother, Deanna's sister, Data's mother, Worf's brother (his other one), Crusher's grandmother, and Picard's son. (And sort of Riker's other father, but I like The Pegasus, so I'll give that a pass.) It really is ridiculous how many relatives turn up, even the writers comment on how silly it got.

But then we have All Good Things and well... that makes up for a lot (although it does have a HUGE plot hole in that the phenomena was created by the three different Enterprises doing the tachyon beam, but it was the Pasteur in the future that did the beam, but the Enterprise).

And that was TNG. As I've said before, you get a range of authors, you get a range of quality of stories. As evidenced even harder in the Star Trek novel range.


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Wednesday, 13 September 2017


All right, I gave in and went to see the latest Stephen King adaptation. While I gave up on the Mist, I did sit through all of... the first part.

A bunch of losers are losers in the town, and when a clown decides to target them, the rest of the town shrugs and looks the other way. Slowly stalking them, the kids eventually come together to tackle it, and I'm sure we'll never see it again.

We got to a point in the movie where it was probably the end of act 2, and I felt like "that's it, okay, the movie's over, right?" But no, it went on, and I had no idea where it was going. So I guess I'm saying that this movie is too long.

Now, it is a decent movie, and we have decent kid acting, and the camera is intentionally creepy over Beverly's body (and no, for those who know the book, no that scene is not recreated in the movie). I think this will end up working well as a double feature when (if?) we ever get part two.

This does make me kinda want to read the book again (I think I read it ages ago), so there is that...


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Monday, 11 September 2017

TELOS: Fallen Gods

I got this book back in a convention back in 2008 from Kate Orman and Jonathan Blum directly… and got it signed! So I better give this a good review?

This is a classical story, in that it is set in classical times. Not really Roman/Greek, but evocative of that period, and with their own gods (fallen gods, as it happens). Not surprisingly, this is the Eighth Doctor, but there is less torturing him than you would expect (but not zero). We get that the gods have been helping people, but this is unfolded slowly, so I won’t give anything else away. However, the focus is on the Doctor and Alcestis and...

Speaking of Alcestis, I wonder if this was the author’s take on doing Wonder Woman? She is a rather powerful woman, who is in depth in the matriarchal part of the society, and she can fly and sort of has super powers. Certainly this is the most in universe explanation of Diana we will probably get.

This feels like a lot longer than just a novella, and yet the ending is rather abrupt (outside of the personal battle, defeating the enemy is easy). To be honest, I could have done with it being a shorter.


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Saturday, 9 September 2017

Universal 1933

Another one of the classics, cited by Richard O'Brien himself. Claude Rains was The Invisible Man.

In a remote inn, a strange figure turns up in jacket and bandages, and demands a room. He is Griffin, a science assistant who perfected invisibility, but now is seeking a way to return to normal flesh. However, while invisible, he indulges in a little harmless murder spree or two and is hunted down to his death.

This I like. In particular, although we have a mad scientist, he is a scientist driven made by the invisibility process, he didn't start that way. So, in a way, he's as much a victim of circumstances as anyone else. Interestingly they have the girlfriend who might be able to talk him down, but even before they get together onscreen we get that Griffin is already too far gone into science to be turned back (which adds to him as a tragic figure). However, tragedy aside, the movie is set on killing him, and pretty nastily too.

There is a lot of invisible acting, with strings clearly pulling things (not that I saw strings) and people pretending to be strangled. I'll accept that, though.

Definite thumbs up, check this out!


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Friday, 8 September 2017

Star Trek the Next 6!

Now Star Trek has never really been consistent in terms of story ideas from one episode to the next, but this season really throws things at the wall.

We bring back Scotty, we have a human Q, go full Western (directed by Patrick Stewart!), learn there are four lights, go into Picard's history, get the better Riker, and bring about Kahless. However, we also get kiddy Captain, a stupid chase to realise the answer was inside us all along, and... the dog did it (even the writers acknowledge how stupid that was).

It's not that these are terrible episodes or brilliant episodes, just that they are merely meh and woo! in such close companion and in such contrast to each other they seem better or worse than they are. Again we get great examples of how Star Trek could do horror, with set ups of people aren't who they say they are, and various examples of mental break down, but it just goes into Star Trek territory too hard to be horror.

And the effects really don't help. Did they remaster the screen smashing in Frame of Mind at all?


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Monday, 4 September 2017

TELOS: The Cabinet of Light

Right then, how esoteric can we get? Have we have a novella that doesn’t even feature the Doctor at all? No? Well, then let’s see how far we can get away from that idea.

It’s… sometime, rather noir-ish, as that is the style of the story. Lechasseur is a fixer who is drafted in as a detective to find the Doctor. In the process, he finds rather strange characters with their own reasons for wanting the Doctor, and more particularly, his cabinet of light. Things eventually go a bit pear/mystical shape, and it eventually turns out all right?

As for which Doctor this is… actually, it’s a future Doctor, possibly based on Nick Briggs? Actually… it’s not the Doctor. Even though this was written when there was only McGann, it’s not the Doctor. Even though we’ve had nuWho and Big Finish reinventing the Doctor all over the place, this still isn’t the Doctor. Not just because he smokes, but that’s a good a signifier as any.

In fact, this is really just a pilot for the Time Hunter series of books, and after reading this, I don’t want to have anything to do with that.


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Saturday, 2 September 2017

Universal 1932C

The opening card says Karloff's character is the same as from Frankenstein which matters because... I have no idea. This has a classic starter, but I went in with interest in The Old Dark House.

Three people are caught lost in the country and end up at a dark and creepy house, where they are reluctantly taken in by the strange inhabitants... and that's about it really. We spend the time with them while they are in the house and crazy people be crazy and there's a bit of running around and such, but...

There's no monster. There's not really any real threat either. Just people being mad. But it isn't anything that hasn't been better told elsewhere. Even having Karloff around doesn't help. I mentally checked out before halfway and it couldn't drag me back in.

Oh well, they can't all be winners.


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Friday, 1 September 2017

Star Trek The Next 5!

While this has a few episodes that strike the memory... most of these are pretty forgettable.

Oh dear Disaster. Oh Dear The Game. Oh Dear The Masterpiece Society. Oh Dear The Perfect Mate... although that last one is where we find out that Holodeck 4 is the one to go to. On the other side, we introduce Ensign Ro, Matt Frewer visits in A Matter Of Time, Ethics has Worf trying to commit suicide, and I, Borg... is also in this season.

We also have Cause and Effect, one of the time travel episodes most people remember. With the trick of a script being shot four different ways. Spock enthralls fans by being teased for a whole episode before he turns up for the next one, and causes all sorts of interesting questions as to what happened to him during Star Trek Nemesis... And Darmok is the other one people remember, which raises questions about how people communicate, although I wonder how those people teach themselves about their own metaphors? And there's Inner Light, in which Picard has a lifetime in a day (with pointless flashbacks to the bridge.)

And while watching the Bluray the main things I remember are... they thought this was the next Borg story worth telling. And Patrick Stewart learnt some of how to play the flute, but it was just him fingering while other music played.

As for the new effects? They didn't help Time's Arrow...


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