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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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Monday, 11 April 2016

Three Days of the Condor - out now as a dual format Blu-ray and DVD setRobert Redford and Faye Dunaway star in this conspiracy thriller about a CIA researcher who uncovers top secret information that puts his life in mortal peril. Joe Turner (Redford) pops out of the office to get some lunch and returns to find his colleagues at the American Literary Historical Society have been brutally murdered. Shaken to his core, Turner contacts his employers seeking sanctuary but things go south and he is forced to go on the run.

Thinking on his feet, Turner kidnaps a complete stranger (Dunaway) and, from the relative safety of her home tries to convince her that his far-fetched story is true. Meanwhile, a professional hitman (Max von Sydow – “Flash Gordon”, “Minority Report”) is closing in. This Oscar-nominated movie was directed by Sydney Pollack (“Tootsie”, “Out of Africa”), and also stars Cliff Robertson (“Spider-man”) as a CIA chief.

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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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Monday, 11 April 2016

The original DOOMWATCH - out now on DVDI was one of those children of the 1960s old enough to just about recall watching Doomwatch in one of its late-night (around 10.00pm) slots, when originally aired on BBC1 from 1970 to 1972. Something of a ‘treat’ given the lateness of the hour for a pre-teen, it was billed as Science Fiction extrapolated from Science Fact, the exploits of the Department of Measurement of Scientific Work, working to the Ministry for National Security, took on the facet of being a ‘forbidden fruit’ – you MUST be mature, as you wanted to watch this series!

My younger self recalled a lot of talking, with one or two action set-pieces each episode, on a good week that is. Now, revisiting what remains of the series (just 24 of 38 made are still in the archives), its premonitions are as jaw-dropping today as they must have been some 45 years ago. The politics in the background is spookily spot-on for a modern audience, and the attitude of authority to being questioned as dismissive as it still remains. The characterisations are strong, the scripts and direction crisp and enthralling. And you had a chance to win a copy of this Doomwatch DVD box set in our prize competition.

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Sunday, 13 March 2016

Night Gallery - The Complete Collection out now on UK DVDThere are some shows which would not be the same in colour. The monochrome production of The Twilight Zone from 1959 to 1964, all 156 episodes, was a case in point. To the modern eye, Rod Serling’s televisual masterpiece is boosted by being black and white, adding to the atmosphere and storytelling in a way which cannot be truly quantified. But rest assured, there has never been talk of colourisation. Its recent Blu-ray restoration simply enhanced the credentials of keeping red, green and blue away from it. However, back at the end of the 1960s, when colour had stormed small screens in the USA, and everything monochrome had effectively been shipped off to the scrap heap, it was almost inevitable that Serling would be tempted to make a series in colour.

And so it was that Night Gallery was born. With Jack Laird as Producer, Serling was a scriptwriter, at least in part, on 27 of the episodes. Out went the hard science fiction of The Twilight Zone era, replaced with predominantly supernatural horror, with the odd jokey segment in an anthology series where the lengths of the stories varied – you never knew whether a story will take over an entire episode or just a couple of minutes. And now, thanks to Fabulous Films, we in the UK get to see the most definitive release of the show anywhere in the world. AND YOU COULD HAVE WON ONE OF FOUR NIGHT GALLERY DVD SETS WE HAD UP FOR GRABS IN OUR COMPETITION.

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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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Monday, 15 February 2016

Fixed Bayonets - comes to dual format Blu-ray and DVDThe Korean War (1950-1953) is the setting for Samuel Fuller’s “Fixed Bayonets!” Starring Richard Basehart (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, “La Strada”), Gene Evans (“Shock Corridor”, “The Steel Helmet”) and Michael O’Shea (It’s a Great Life, “Lady of Burlesque”), the film focuses on a platoon of 48 reluctant soldiers tasked with holding a doomed, rear-guard action to buy time for the retreat of 15,000 troops.

Facing the imminent arrival of overwhelming Chinese forces, the American platoon bed into a snow-laden, cramped valley between two sheer cliff faces, laying mines, digging fox holes and generally planning to make life as difficult as possible for the enemy. Fuller (“The Big Red One”, “Pickup on South Street”) had strong views about the futility of war and consequently the movie aims for a tone of restrained realism.

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Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Friends of Eddie Coyle - out now on a dual-format Blu-ray and DVD releaseBased on a novel by crime writer George V. Higgins, this movie stars Hollywood tough guy Robert Mitchum (“Cape Fear”, “The Night of the Hunter”) as the eponymous aging gangster. Coyle is due to be sentenced for a recent misdemeanour and is desperate to avoid another stretch. As a gun runner he has a lot of criminal contacts and senses he can buy a pardon by turning a few of them over to the police, but at what price?

Directed by Peter Yates (“Bullitt”, “Krull”), the film is fashioned in a very naturalistic, believable style that is aided by Mitchum’s relaxed, slightly burnt-out performance. Eddie Coyle is an experienced criminal whose edges have been dulled and he seems more interested in providing for his family than he does getting rich through a dangerous lifestyle.

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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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Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Alfred Hitchcock Hour - The complete series comes to UK DVDFor the first time, the entire collection of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour is available on DVD in the UK - all 93 stories presented by the ‘Master of Suspense’ himself, thanks to Fabulous Films.  Broadcast in the USA from September 1962 to May 1965 – amidst a golden period for the auteur which included “The Wrong Man”, “Vertigo”, “North by Northwest”, “Psycho” and “The Birds”, this series was voted one of the 100 Best TV Shows of All Time by Time Magazine. Hitchcock’s films had a consistently high degree of profitability, but it was the sale of syndication rights to the TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and then this, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which made him the third biggest stockholder in MCA (the predecessor to NBC Universal).And we had a complete box set to give away in our prize competition, as well as individual sets of seasons one, two and three.

The series, like its half-hour predecessor, is filled with stars, both those in their twilight of their careers, as well as others on the way up. Leslie Nielsen, he of Police Squad and “Airplane” fame is the star turn in the Season 2 episode 13 classic story “The Magic Shop”. He’s the father of a truly dislikeable child, emphasised by the kid’s desire for a leather biker jacket on his birthday, who has an obsession with going to a magic shop which his parents are adamant does not exist. We also have Martin Landau appear in Season 2 Episode 30 “The Second Verdict” as a lawyer who gets guilty-as-hell Frank Gorshin’s villain off-the-hook in a murder trial. Landau is very much experimenting with the delivery and poise which he will use as John Koenig in Space: 1999, whereas Gorshin is showing the sort of evil he would later crank up several notches as The Riddler in the Adam West Batman series.

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Sunday, 10 January 2016

Return of the Pink Panther - out now on Blu-rayThe world’s largest and most valuable diamond has been stolen and that can only mean one thing: Peter Sellers is called on to reprise what is probably his most famous role as the bumbling Inspector Jacques Clouseau. The detective is on back the trail of master cat burglar The Phantom, aka Sir Charles Litton (the iconic Christopher Plummer – who has played everything from Chang in “Star Trek VI – The Undiscovered Country” to Captain Von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”). All may not be what it seems however, as Litton is engaged in his own hunt for a thief.

All of the usual ingredients of Blake Edwards’ hit comedy are present: Herbert Lom plays Clouseau’s twitching, nervous wreck of a boss, Burt Kwouk’s Cato keeps us and the Inspector in suspense as his servant and sly martial arts plaything, and Henry Mancini’s timeless and sublimely slinky theme tune sets the tone. Effortlessly glamorous Catherine Schell (Maya in season 2 of Space: 1999, and Countess Scarlioni in the classic Doctor Who story “The City of Death”) co-stars as Lady Claudine Litton.

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