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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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John Payne

John Payne

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.

Sunday, 07 May 2017 23:00

Born Free on dual Blu-ray and DVD

Born Free - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDBased on a true story and book by Joy Adamson, “Born Free” is the story of a married couple who raise an orphaned lion cub to adulthood and then attempt to prepare the tamed animal for release into the Kenyan wilderness. Virginia McKenna (“A Town Like Alice”) and Bill Travers (“Ring of Bright Water”) star as Joy and George Adamson, and the film won a couple of Oscars thanks to John Barry’s fantastic score and closing credits song sung by Matt Monro.

Treading a careful line between realism and sentimentality, the movie sucks you in with countless shots of cute and majestic animals that interact with the Adamsons like they are domestic cats or dogs. Anyone with a household pet will delight in seeing Elsa the lion cub play, destroy furniture, steal food and bond with her keepers. It is a relationship that cannot last because an adult lion cannot be controlled, and therein lies the film’s central theme.

Monday, 24 April 2017 23:00

Drunken Master - Dual Blu-ray/DVD

Drunken Master - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDJackie Chan stars in this 1978 hit about a young, pretentious kung fu student who is taught the art of drunken boxing as a punishment for shaming his father. Freddie Wong (Chan – “The Karate Kid” remake, the “Police Story” saga) tries to impress his mates by getting into fights and tricking a girl into kissing him. When his father hears the news he sends Freddie to sensei So Hi, a master feared for his infamously harsh training regime.

So Hi (Siu Tin Yuen – “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”) is an alcoholic whose deceptive combat skills depend on his inebriation. Never separated from his flask of booze, So Hi teaches Freddie the fighting styles of ‘The Eight Drunken Immortals’. He also puts the upstart through many gruelling physical trials to boost his strength, endurance and balance. Meanwhile, a deadly assassin is prowling nearby and our duo eventually stray onto his radar.

Sunday, 23 April 2017 23:00

Hard Times - Dual-Blu-ray/DVD

Hard Times - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDSet in early 1930s New Orleans, “Hard Times” stars Charles Bronson (“The Great Escape”, “The Dirty Dozen”) as Chaney, a mysterious, uncomplicated drifter who turns to illegal bare-knuckle boxing to earn some cash. The loner falls in with an unscrupulous manager called Speed (James Coburn – “Our Man Flint”, “Cross of Iron”) who, thanks to his serious vice issues, always finds himself in debt to some very unpleasant loan sharks.

Mr Speed wants to use Chaney to take on a rival’s unbeaten fighter but first he must scrape together enough money to qualify, by setting his sights a little lower. Tagging along is drunkard medic Poe (Strother Martin – “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, “Cool Hand Luke”). The movie marked the directorial debut of Walter Hill (also co-writer), renowned for “The Warriors”, “48 Hrs” and “Southern Comfort” amongst other hits.

Sunday, 09 April 2017 23:00

The Blue Lagoon Blu-ray/DVD

The Blue Lagoon - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDBased on the 1908 novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, “The Blue Lagoon” follows cousins Richard (Christopher Atkins – Dallas, “The Pirate Movie”) and Emmeline (Brooke Shields – “The Midnight Meat Train”, The Middle) as they learn to fend for themselves and experience a sexual awakening after being marooned on a tropical island. The movie’s director is Randal Kleiser of “Grease” and “Flight of the Navigator” fame.

Initially the pre-pubescent youngsters have the knowledge and company of Paddy, the ship’s cook (Leo McKern – Rumpole of the Bailey, The Prisoner) to support them, but the lure of a barrel of rum puts paid to that. Thereafter the kids must care for themselves, and hope that eventually someone will come looking for them. As their vessel went down in flames they do not know if anyone else survived, and they could be considered lost forever.

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