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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, 16 November 2015

A Traveller in Time - out now on DVDA Traveller in Time is a children’s mini-series from the 1970s about Penelope Taberner (Sophie Thompson – Detectorists, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1”), a teenage girl who discovers she can travel back through time to the late 16th Century. Sent to her Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Derbyshire to recuperate from pneumonia, Penelope becomes entangled in a Tudor plot to rescue Mary Queen of Scots.

Penelope’s own ancestors, the Babingtons, are hatching the high-risk plot to free Mary before Queen Elizabeth I and those loyal to her can have Mary executed. Well aware of history’s path, Penelope is not sure if she can influence events but her uncertainty will not sway her from trying. Matters are complicated by our heroine not knowing how to trigger her time slips back and forth, and the distrust and suspicion that meets her in the past.

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Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Undercover Brother - out now on DVD“Undercover Brother” is a high-energy comedy about a team of black agents striving to overcome a shadowy mega-corp headed by The Man, a Blofeld-esque super-villain. Penned by John Ridley (“Three Kings”) and Michael McCullers (“Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me”), the film stars Eddie Griffin (“Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo”) as the titular all-action crusader, whose ample afro and sharp 70s outfits define him.

The movie co-stars Aunjanue Ellis (“Ray”) as the high-kicking Sistah Girl, Denise Richards (“Starship Troopers”) as blonde bombshell White She Devil, Chris Kattan (Saturday Night Live) as The Man’s conflicted flunky, Chi McBride (Lou Grover in Hawaii Five-0) as the B.R.O.T.H.E.R.H.O.O.D. team’s irascible boss and Dave Chappelle (“Block Party”) as the rather nervy Conspiracy Brother. The director is Malcolm D Lee (“Scary Movie 5”).

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Monday, 09 November 2015

Man from the Future - out now on UK DVDReleased in its native Brazil as “O Homem do Futuro”, the plot of this neat little tale follows Zero (Wagner Moura), a madcap scientist, whose life changed 20 years ago (in 1991) when he was publicly humiliated by being covered in honey and feathers and hoisted above the 'prom night' audience at his college. He believes the stunt was masterminded by Helena (Alinne Moraes), a then-first-year physics student, who he considered up until that point to be the love of his life. In the present day 2011, he is a top boffin, currently using a very expensive particle converter to try and create a revolutionary free energy source.

In order to prove his theories, and the equipment, he decides to put himself at the centre of the experiment event to show it is safe. However, things don’t go according to plan, and inexplicably he finds himself travelling back in time to the worst day of his life. The dilemma for him is whether he should change the course of history, and indeed his destiny, in order to get a happier life and end up with Helena. However, the result is not what he had hoped for, and in some ways he has made things worse. Against all odds, this ends up as a feel-good foreign language slice of SF which is a credit to Brazilian cinema.

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Monday, 09 November 2015

Warship - Series 2 comes to DVDIt is with some sense of relief that I can report that Warship is back on DVD with its second series. The first series came out in September 2014, and I have to say I actually pre-ordered my copy of that title, such was my anticipation for seeing the show again. There are certain fictions that stay with you, and the cobwebs of time do nothing to blur your vision of what it was actually like to watch a show. Storylines and characters might fade in your memory, but the feeling of being a viewer of such a format endures. Such is the case with this series, and from viewing that initial release, the memory hadn’t cheated. This was good stuff, well made.

The fictional HMS Hero, F42, featured across all four seasons, clocking up 45 episodes in its run between 1973 and 1977. With some studio-based scenes intermingled with footage filmed in various locations including Gibraltar, Malta, Hong Kong, Singapore and Norway, this was a show that painted on a wide canvas. The episodes were written to reflect the then-contemporary real life in the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. There is no doubt that this was one work of fiction which did no harm at all to military recruitment in its era.

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Monday, 09 November 2015

Dr Terror's House of Horrors - out now as a limited edition Blu-ray SteelbookIt soon becomes a crowded train carriage in the opening scene of this anthology movie. First we have well-known DJ Alan Freeman sorting himself out, before Neil McCallum joins him. Then Roy Castle (a late substitution for what would have been Acker Bilk), followed by Christopher Lee, and Donald Sutherland. Finalising those in there is Peter Cushing, complete with Doctor’s bag carrying the initials ‘WRS’. He drops it, and it spills open, spreading a deck of Tarot cards across the floor. Not something his fellow passengers are familiar with, but this is Dr Schreck, who offers to foretell the futures of the five other passengers.

This is a 1965 British horror classic from Amicus Productions, who would go on to spearhead the two Dalek movies of the 1960s, both of which followed this one. In charge was Milton Subotsky, and here we have a digitally restored release on Blu-ray from Odeon Entertainment, with a smattering of superior special features to give the full flavour and importance to this star-laden movie. It’s a positive joy to watch, and the ‘star spotting’ on offer here is prolific, even beyond the half a dozen names already mentioned.

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Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Alfred Hitchcock Presents - Seasons 1 to 7 - out now on UK DVDWhile his cinematic work is well known, ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS was a half-hour TV anthology series which demonstrated he was also a master of small screen tales. All seven seasons are out now as a box set containing 35 DVDs, and thanks to Fabulous Films we had a copy up for grabs, as well as a couple of sets of Season One for runners-up (961 mins over six DVDs). All you had to do to be in with a chance was to VOTE in this year’s Cult TV Awards.

Between October 1955 and July 1965, Hitchcock used the simple words “Good evening…” to introduce 268 timeless stories of horror, mystery and intrigue, 17 of which Hitchcock himself directed. Screening on CBS and NBC, the show received three Emmy awards as well as a Golden Globe for Television Achievement, and set the gold standard for all television mystery series to come. In the words of Alfred Hitchcock himself, it “brought murder back into the home - where it belongs”.

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Monday, 02 November 2015

Tower of Evil - out now on UK Blu-ray and DVDA deserted lighthouse on the fog-shrouded Snape Island sets the scene, where two fishermen (George Coulouris and Jack Watson) moor their boat and begin to explore. They chance upon three naked, dead bodies before they find themselves attacked by Penny Read (Candace Glendenning – Rashel in Blake’s 7 “Weapon”), a crazed woman. When she is taken back to the mainland, she reveals little due to her mind having switched off from the terror she has endured. However, an ancient artefact found with her may provide a clue as to what happened. An expedition is quickly organised to try and solve the series of violent and sexual murders.

From horror producer Richard Gordon (“Devil Doll”, “Horror Hospital” and "Inseminoid") 1972’s “Tower Of Evil” is known Stateside as “Horror On Snape Island”, and also found itself released almost a decade later as “Beyond The Fog”, suggesting (wrongly) that it was a sequel to John Carpenter’s movie. With a selection of engaging extras, Odeon Entertainment’s Blu-ray release gives the production another boost for a modern audience.

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Skull - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVDBased on a short story by “Psycho” author Robert Bloch, “The Skull” is a dark, gothic horror film about a skull with the power to compel murder. The picture stars Peter Cushing (“Dracula”, “The Curse of Frankenstein”) as Christopher Maitland, a rather starchy collector of occult relics, with Christopher Lee (“The Wicker Man”, “The Mummy”) in the supporting cast as a fellow collector who has somehow evaded its influence.

The skull was severed from the neck of none-other than the Marquis de Sade, the infamous 18th-19th Century French aristocrat with a penchant for sadism and other morally dubious behaviour. On its own, the skull is able to control the weak-willed but when combined with other satanic artefacts, its power could overwhelm even the strongest and most devout minds. Incredulous, Dr Maitland pursues the object with potentially deadly results.

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Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Seconds - out now on dual format Blu-ray and DVD“Seconds” is a thriller from director John Frankenheimer (“The Manchurian Candidate”, “Ronin”) about a bored banker who is drawn into shady scheme to dole out new identities. Not only does the man undergo extensive plastic surgery to change his entire appearance, but he is handed a new and luxurious house (complete with servant), a ready-made career and a carefree lifestyle. His old body and life, family included, is jettisoned.

The aging, overweight banker, Arthur Hamilton (John Randolph – “Serpico”, “Prizzi’s Honor”), is transformed into Antiochus ‘Tony’ Wilson (Rock Hudson – “Ice Station Zebra”, The Martian Chronicles), a younger and more handsome figure. He quickly strikes up a relationship with a beautiful woman (Salome Jens – the Female Shapeshifter in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) and seems to be living the dream, but appearances can be deceptive.

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Monday, 26 October 2015

ITV60 - celebrating 60 years of ITV on 12 DVDs - out nowStuck for a Christmas gift for someone who has just got into television history, and wants a perfect primer? Then consider the brand new boxset “ITV60” from Network. This 12-DVD set includes 60 episodes, features a mix of both classics and rarities from the archives, including some programmes thought lost forever.

This set contains previously unreleased episodes of Crossroads, Rainbow, Tiswas, Coronation Street, World in Action, The Bill and Whicker's World – together with some exceptionally rare items from the Associated Rediffusion archive, namely No Hiding Place, Mystery Bag, Crane and Our Man at St Mark’s. With each disc themed to provide an ‘evening's entertainment’, this dip into the archives provides a trip down Memory Lane as well as a timely reminder of some of the best television of the last sixty years.

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