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John Payne

John Payne

Tuesday, 26 September 2017 08:35

Hannibal Brooks on DVD

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.

Sunday, 24 September 2017 00:01

Gotham - Complete 3rd Season

Gotham - Season 3 out now on Blu-ray and DVDAnarchy reigns in Gotham as escapees from the Indian Hill research lab run riot, whilst Jim Gordon has left the GCPD and become a lone bounty hunter. Adding to the chaos is murderous hypnotist The Mad Hatter and the mysterious Court of Owls who are pulling strings throughout the city. Meanwhile, an adolescent Bruce Wayne is slowly but surely gaining in experience, strength and a sense of purpose as a future Batman.

Released on home video in the before its broadcast on other channels and streaming services, it has been a frustratingly long wait for UK Gotham fans. Has it been worth it? On balance I would have to say yes. The show has a more confident feel to it now, with characters that are slowly but surely developing into the comic book supervillains and superheroes we know and love (or love to hate).

Monday, 18 September 2017 19:18

Journey to the Center of the Earth

Journey to the Center of the Earth - out now on Blu-rayBased on Jules Verne’s classic novel, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” is an old-school, globe-trotting adventure story. Reminiscent of the escapades of Indiana Jones and Tintin, the film stars James Mason as Sir Oliver Lindenbrook, a Scottish scientist who stumbles on a secret route to the Earth’s core, following in the footsteps of a legendary long-lost explorer.

Lindenbrook initially has student Alec McEwan (singer Pat Boone) for company on their trip to an Icelandic volcano, with the duo picking up Hans - a towering blond local (Peter Ronson) - and Carla (Arlene Dahl – The Love Boat), the Swedish wife of a fellow scientist en-route. Oh, and Han’s savvy pet duck, Gertrude. If the journey into the planet was not dangerous enough, they also have to contend with a murderous, despicable rival.

Monday, 18 September 2017 00:01

The Red Turtle on DVD/Blu-ray/DD

The Red Turtle - out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital DownloadNominated for 2017’s Best Animated Feature Film Oscar, “The Red Turtle”, is another jaw-dropping release from Studio Ghibli (“Spirited Away”, “My Neighbour Totoro”). A man awakens on the beach of a deserted island after being shipwrecked. With nothing but the native wildlife to keep him company, he attempts to escape but is repeatedly obstructed by an unseen force from beneath the waves.

Eventually the man discovers a large red turtle is responsible for the destruction of his many rafts. If that fact was not strange enough he soon finds out there is much more to the turtle than he could possibly imagine, and his life on the island takes a dramatic turn that will change him forever. The writer/director is Michaël Dudok de Wit (“Father and Daughter”).

Monday, 21 August 2017 18:49

Doctor Cyclops on DVD

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.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017 18:01

House of 1000 Corpses on DVD

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.

Monday, 24 July 2017 17:57

Der Müde Tod on Blu-ray / DVD

Der Mude  Tod out now on Blu-rayThis is the film that gave hugely influential writer/director Fritz Lang (“Metropolis”,”M”) his breakthrough at the age of 30. Four tales in one, the primary story traces the misfortunes of a young woman (Lil Dagover – “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari”), whose fiancé is taken by Death soon after they arrive at a village inn. Overcome with grief, the woman pleads with the Grim Reaper to let her either join her lover in death or bring him back to life.

Death (Berhard Goetzke – “Dr Mabuse: The Gambler”, “Die Nibelungen”) offers her a glimmer of hope if she can save one of three characters in separate narratives, each dealing with doomed lovers in different tragedies. The first is a Persian escapade featuring a Caliph who hunts his sister’s infidel partner; the second is a Shakespeare-light tale set in Venice where a woman plots her husband-to-be’s murder. Lastly, we have a more humorous adventure set in mystical China.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017 17:45

Slaughterhouse-Five on Blu-ray

Slaughterhouse-Five out now on Blu-rayBilly Pilgrim is unstuck in time, bouncing from one end of his tragic life to the other and to random, key points in between. If that was not strange enough, he also spends time on the planet of Tralfamadore, caught beneath a small glass dome and verbally prodded by aliens like a flea in a circus. This wild story is based on a book by Kurt Vonnegut entitled ‘Slaughterhouse Five-Or The Children's Crusade A Duty-Dance with Death’.

Michael Sacks (“The Sugarland Express”, “The Amityville Horror”) stars as Billy, a man who gets caught by the Germans in World War II and sent to a harsh prison camp before being relocated to the disused, titular slaughterhouse in Dresden for forced labour. This is just before the infamous bombing, which is just one of the monumentally disastrous moments in his life. Billy’s family life later on is less traumatic, at least for a time!

Monday, 26 June 2017 17:43

Sea of Love on Blu-ray

Sea of Love - out now on Blu-rayAl Pacino, Ellen Barkin and John Goodman star in this steamy thriller about couple of detectives trying to solve a multiple homicide in New York. Det. Frank Keller (Pacino – “The Godfather”, “Heat”) has been on the force 20 years and he is jaded, frustrated and lives alone. A new case comes along where the male victims have all been shot in the back of the head whilst naked in bed, and there seems to be a link to a lonely-hearts advert in the paper.

Keller and Det Sherman (Goodman – “The Big Lebowski”, “10 Cloverfield Lane”) come up with a crazy plan to flush the killer out by placing a similar ad in the singles page, and then dating the respondents. This is how Keller meets Helen (Barkin – “This Boy’s Life”, Animal Kingdom), a very fiery and confident suspect with whom the detective gets a little too personally involved.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017 07:35

Rockcliffe’s Babies: Complete DVD

Rockliffe's Babies - out now on DVD

Seven trainee CID officers based in London tackle some tough cases and an even tougher boss in this BBC police drama series from the 1980s. Sgt Alan Rockcliffe (Ian Hogg – “Hitler: The Rise of Evil”, Doctor Who “Ghost Light”) can be the most charming and supportive leader, but if you make a mistake or catch him on a bad day, he will come down on you like a ton of bricks! Can the rookies solve enough cases to win promotion, or will they crack in the process?

Running for just two seasons (three if you include the spin-off series Rockcliffe’s Folly, not included here), Rockcliffe’s Babies quickly introduces us to the trainees, though interestingly we do not meet Rockcliffe himself until the end of episode one. They are a real mixed bag, with varied backgrounds and skillsets that - when pulled together - make a great team; sometimes, however, the PCs bicker and fragment, and that is when things do not run quite as smoothly, much to their skipper’s chagrin.

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