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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, 17 June 2019

“Under Fire” is an Oscar-nominated political thriller revolving around journalists caught up in the 1979 Nicaraguan revolution. Russel Price (Nick Nolte) is a fearless photographer who gets meshed in a love triangle with reporter Claire Stryder (Joanna Cassidy) and his friend, her husband Alex Grazier (Gene Hackman). Stepping right into in a war zone, in a battle between the government and Sandinista rebels, Price loses his objectivity, becoming personally involved in the struggles. This release by Eureka marks its UK debut on Blu-ray.

With cinematography by John Alcott (“2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Barry Lyndon”) it’s backed by one of Jerry Goldsmith’s greatest scores - which was nominated for an Academy Award – it features well-known jazz guitarist Pat Metheny. It was later sampled by Quentin Tarantino in “Django Unchained”). The film is considered one of director Roger Spottiswoode’s greatest achievements, being a complex political thriller with hints of “Casablanca”.

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Sunday, 16 June 2019

The Californian police carefully construct a roadblock out of numerous cop cars; into the centre trundle a couple of heavy plant loaders, buckets placed in a V shape with barely a sliver of light gleaming from the gap between them. In the distance, a throaty 1970 Dodge Challenger speeds into view pursued by additional police cars. So begins “Vanishing Point” before the narrative jumps a couple of days earlier to enlighten us.

Kowalski (Barry Newman – Petrocelli, “Daylight”) is an illicit car delivery specialist with a background in professional racing who thrives on tight deadlines. His journey stretches three states from Denver, Colorado to San Francisco, with a 15 hour deadline. To begin with he only attracts a couple of weedy police motorbikes, but as the blacktop flies by, the authorities and media sharpen their focus, the former on stopping him, the latter broadcasting the incident.

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Monday, 10 June 2019

From an idea by its star Peter Barkworth, who is the centre of the action as Geoffrey Carr, The Price is a hostage drama set on both sides of the Irish Sea. The kidnap is the framework around which everything else revolves – business machinations, emotional conflicts and police procedurals - the story is rich in characterisation while exploring beliefs and motives. The mini-series is now back in the spotlight, not only for its subject matter but also for showcasing a pair of actors ‘before they were famous’, thanks to this release on DVD through Simply Media.

Set like an elaborate game of chess between the kidnappers and Carr (the husband and stepfather of the abductees), The Price is a drama which tackles the likes of political ideologies, matrimonial discord and the price paid in pursuit of happiness (hence the title). It does not run shy in its analysis of Ireland’s politics of the time, both Republican and Northern. Indeed, one wonders if the EU border arguments may be the unwitting blue touch-paper which could kick off violent hostilities once more.

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Monday, 20 May 2019

This is the classic BBC adaptation of the novel by E Nesbit, first broadcast in 1976. The story centres on four children who discover hidden treasures and adventures by chance, thanks to a trinket they acquire. This was the middle part of a trilogy of novels that started with “Five Children and It” and ended with “The Story of the Amulet”.

The eight part TV drama, out now on DVD from Simply Media, begins when a family buys an old carpet from a junk shop in Edwardian London. When unrolled, this worn old relic reveals a large shiny egg. One of the boys accidentally knocks the egg into an open fire, from which an irascible talking phoenix emerges. He has the power to grant wishes and send them off on adventures, all made possible with the flying carpet now laid out in their playroom.

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Monday, 13 May 2019

An adaptation of an early Stephen King novel, “Cujo” is about a lovable St. Bernard dog that catches rabies and turns very nasty. Donna (Dee Wallace – “ET - The Extra-Terrestrial”, “The Howling”) is having an extramarital affair whilst her relationship with Vic (Daniel Hugh Kelly – “Star Trek: Insurrection”, Hardcastle and McCormick) is stagnating. Young son Tad (Danny Pintauro – Who’s the Boss?) is the glue that is keeping them together.

When Vic goes away on a long business trip, Donna takes Tad to an out of town mechanic to get her car fixed. She arrives at the remote location only to discover that there is nobody around, and mum and son become trapped in their vehicle, terrorised by a slobbering, snarling Cujo. The thriller was directed by Lewis Teague (“The Jewel of the Nile”, “Alligator”).

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Sunday, 14 April 2019

Last year’s Cult TV Awards were definitely the time of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Not only did the Trek spin-off, which ran from 19—pick up the top gong of “Hall of Fame – Series” but also Director Roxann Dawson (who was previously an actor, playing B'Elanna Torres in Star Trek: Voyager) won the “Hall of Fame – Director” Award.

Inducted into the “Hall of Fame – Producer” this year was Ira Steven Behr, who was with DS9 for its duration, becoming an Executive Producer for 108 of its episodes. He had previously been a producer on Star Trek: The Next Generation and the TV series of Fame. In addition, the “Hall of Fame – Villain” pantheon for the year went to the Cardassian Gul Dukat (as played by Mark Alaimo in 35 episodes of DS9).

Some of our voters were also winners as, thanks to Fabulous Films we had some superb prizes to give away in our prize draw, all just for making your choices. QUANTUM LEAP – The Complete Blu-ray Collection went to Mark Prior of Chatteris; BUCK ROGERS – The Complete Blu-ray Collection went to Sally Luke of Chelmsford; COLUMBO – Complete Season One on Blu-ray went to Chris Smith of Urmston; and THE INCREDIBLE HULK – Movie Collection on DVD went to Cliff Hedges of Bromley.

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Thursday, 11 April 2019

‘Them’. The ‘Faceless Ones’. ‘Enemies of Mankind’. The ‘Aliens’. No, this isn’t David Icke on one of his lecture tours.  This is one of our most iconic comedians placed into a high-tech humour format. Les Dawson is a legend, much remembered for his deadpan style, curmudgeonly persona and snide jokes about his mother-in-law. The BBC series THE DAWSON WATCH saw Les tackle a different subject in each episode, with his unique approach framed in an intriguing comedy vehicle.

It ran for 19 episodes between 1979 and 1980. When you tie this into his work as a novelist, we can see that here was a man who knew far more about what was going on in the world, and in his book “A Time Before Genesis” he even predicts the future in a way that might just be coming true, right here, right now. Apply this thought to watching this series and added layers of interest are exposed.

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Tuesday, 09 April 2019

Screening two years after “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”, Mel Brooks takes that movie’s tongue-in-cheek approach as a base line and spoofs it to within an inch of its life. Cary Elwes (“The Princess Bride”, “Saw”) plays Robin, with Amy Yasbeck (“Mask”, “Pretty Woman”) as Maid Marian, Roger Rees (“The Prestige”, Warehouse 13) as the Sheriff of Rottingham (yes, you read that right) and Richard Lewis (Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Leaving Las Vegas”) as Prince John.

Brooks (“Blazing Saddles”, “Young Frankenstein”) takes a fast and loose approach, much in the style of “Airplane!” and “The Naked Gun” series, propelling the film forwards with an avalanche of gags and slapstick humour rather than complex plot. Thankfully Elwes is utterly winning as Robin, dashing, charming and effortlessly athletic - not a million miles from his role as Westley in the aforementioned “The Princess Bride”, just not as intellectually sharp.

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Monday, 08 April 2019

A smartly-dressed boy called Daryl is discovered lost and alone in the middle of nowhere. Handed in to the authorities and apparently suffering from amnesia, the boy (Barret Oliver – “The Never Ending Story”, “Cocoon”) is fostered by Andy and Joyce Richardson, who soon realise that Daryl has particular gifts. How does he learn the piano and smash a baseball on his first attempt, never mind showing up his teachers at school.

Andy (Michael McKean – “This Is Spinal Tap”, Better Call Saul) and Joyce (Mary Beth Hurt – “Lady in the Water”, “The Age of Innocence”) become very attached to sweet-natured Daryl and fear that his biological parents may come knocking. When this eventually happens, their world gets turned upside down and Daryl’s very existence is put in jeopardy. Who is he and where did he come from?

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Monday, 01 April 2019

“The White Reindeer” is a Finnish folk-horror about a frustrated woman who is bewitched by a shaman into a vampiric, shape-shifting reindeer. Pirita (Mirjami Kuosmanen) is the woman in question, left alone in snowy, bleak Lapland when her husband Aslak (Kalervo Nissilä) goes on a long herding trip. At night Pirita becomes the white reindeer, luring man after man into a valley before transforming back into her human form to drink their blood.

Fans of Hammer Horror movies from the 1960s and 1970s will be very familiar with the type of tale on offer here, but the movie feels quite fresh thanks to the shift to Finnish culture and a more documentary-style approach. This is almost a silent film thanks to there being very little dialogue, and atmospheric orchestral backing to keep things moving.

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