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Alex G

Alex G

Monday, 22 July 2013 15:31

Spitting Image - Series 9

Spitting Image - Series 9 out on DVD nowThe close of 1990 was not only a turning point for the UK, it was also a turning point for Spitting Image.  The Sunday night satire had started out in February 1984, and as a consequence had never been produced at a time when a certain Margaret Thatcher was NOT the Prime Minister of the country. In fact, she was well into her second term when the show began. With the timing of this series being what it was, screened from 11 November to 16 December 1990, the show was witness to Thatcher being overthrown, and a certain John Major taking over the reins.

Spitting Image briefly touches on why Thatcher was removed from office, by the shadow people who control such agendas, in a single sketch in this ninth series. She had realised what the European Economic Community was really all about, a little late in the day, admittedly. However, one has to raise questions about anyone’s judgement of whom would have Jimmy Savile as a ‘house guest’ for 11 Christmases in a row.

Wednesday, 03 July 2013 00:00

Doctor Who: Regeneration

Doctor Who - Regeneration in a DVD premium setThis is going to be an expensive year for Doctor Who fans.  In this, the occasion of its 50th anniversary, merchandise of all descriptions, and in particular at the premium end of the market, is going to cascade into every outlet possible. In terms of the releases so far this year, we have seen episodes that don’t exist in colour restored from B&W (check out "The Ambassadors of Death" and “The Mind of Evil”), second bites at restorations (“Inferno”), and now, in the spirit of the 2006 release of Troughton’s “The Invasion”, we have a set which includes the most prized of missing episodes, “The Tenth Planet – Part Four” in an animated form next to the existing soundtrack.

“Regeneration” is exactly what it says it is. Every Doctor Who story that includes a regeneration scene (made a little incongruous by the troubled metamorphosis between Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy). While some fans of a less profligate disposition will probably wait for “The Tenth Planet” to be released individually, there is no doubt that the presentation of this set will prove very tempting to the majority of hardcore fans.

Tuesday, 02 July 2013 00:00

Keep It In The Family Series 5

Keep It In The Family - the final series out nowReleased at last is the fifth and final season of this Thames TV comedy starring Robert Gillespie as cartoonist Dudley Rush, with Mixed Doubles’ Sabina Franklyn and The Adventures of Black Beauty’s Stacy Dorning as daughters Jacqui and Susan. The format is thrown into disarray immediately, as Dudley and the girls have to fend for themselves, as matriarch Muriel is apparently ‘in Australia visiting her mother’ (i.e., actress Pauline Yates was unavailable to reprise the role).

Jacqui and Susan still occupy the family home’s basement flat, and for the first couple of episodes Dudley is portrayed as rather pathetic, unable to cope on his own, and becoming terribly unlikable – it’s hard to think this is the same character we had been cheering for in four previous seasons, honing his skills as an unflinching procrastinator, ever-distracted from the job in hand, and the source of inevitable despair for his boss, Duncan Thomas (Glyn Houston).

Tuesday, 02 July 2013 00:00

Whicker's World Volume 3

Whicker's World - a third volume of episodes out now from NetworkAlan Whicker's death on 12 July 2013 makes this release even more poignant. A cultural icon, consummate interviewer and guiding light behind some of the most popular documentaries ever made, Alan Whicker's quiet brand of incisive, insightful television journalism enthralled audiences for the best part of six decades. This third DVD release from Network presents a diverse and memorable selection of films made between 1968 and 1980.

It is only when you see Whicker at work that you can truly comprehend the magnitude of his skills.  His was a disarming, casual approach, a light touch which disguised some very insightful and hard-hitting questions, all of which link together to squeeze answers from his subjects that are not guarded, and strike you as incredibly truthful.

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.

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