Thursday, 18 January 2018
His mentor professor Ludwig Weiss has come back into his life to warn him that enough is enough and an end must come but the great man's former pupil is not ready to listen. A very youthful and debonair Christopher Lee plays his unwilling accomplice black mailed into helping him for fear of the young lady he hopes to protect. Arnold Marle plays Professor Weiss and introduces a dash of wild haired Euro eccentricity. I remember mister Merle from a memorable turn as the chief Llama of the monastry on the mountain in Val Lewton's Hammer movie The Abominable Snowman. He is quite a character. Great eyes and an expressive voice imbued with ancient wisdom.
This is not the most action packed of movies and I am not even sure why that should be a consideration. It is dialogue driven with a crushed velvet quality. a lovely wee Victorian Gothic treat to wile away a winter evening for those who enjoy their prose a hazy shade of purple.
Wednesday, 17 January 2018
As always Andre Morell slips beneath the skin of his character and brings much gravitas and a learned quality to his adventurous explorer and tomb raider. Micheal Ripper always delivers no matter how small the role and he looks great in this one as Longbarrow. a forerunner to Indiana Jones's friend Marcus.
The Mummy in this movie is a vengeful gaurdian protecting the tomb of The Boy Pharaoh and boy is he vengeful. This is no Howard Carter creeping sickness. This is a shambling undead and unforgiving shade bent on living up to his promised curse. He actually dispatches one of the unfortunate trespassers using photographic acid, burning his victim alive. He even crushes one of their heads in his bare hands, his rank old crusty millennia old hands. I wont say which victim..
...In order to preserve some sense of suspense and jeopardy.
I think this was one of four mummy themed movies made by Hammer Films. The next one being Blood From The Mummy's Tomb which brought this unconnected series to a close around the beginning of the seventies.
Hammer produced a wide range of differently themed horror movies in their time and in so doing they created a fantastic back catalogue of nightmares that continue to quicken the pulse and chill the blood. The house Of Hammer was more than an idea, it was, and is, a place.
Tuesday, 16 January 2018
In this story a young teacher visiting the home of one of his pupils is given a tour of a "snakery", a hot house where some very dangerous snakes are kept as pets and for study. John Frazer plays the teacher, a very engaging , likeable, fellow with Andre Morell (Mu favorite Quatermass!) playing Doctor Druring, keeper of the "snakery." There is even an appearance by Damaris Hayman, Ms Hawthorne of Devils End herself, at the dinner table scene. This is a pleasantly atmospheric tale, its execution a great example of British film making with the character acting on display reminding the viewer of an age when this type of story telling felt utterly authentic and real. Even the soundtrack is so very charming, in much the same way as the one for The Return also was.
This story, like the other, has a short running time and yet there is much in it that will deserve and reward a revisit.
Sunday, 14 January 2018
It is very atmospheric. Mostly set in a rural hospital surrounded by leafy forests in which a crashed alien craft is discovered by a very UNIT-like set of troops. A mysterious figure is taken to the hospital after it is run down by accident by a swinging couple(Its an odd and very British mix of science fiction and kitchen sink drama.) Various medical tests reveal the patient to have unearthly origins and before too long the hospital is further isolated by a force field set up by the alien figures who are in pursuit of the patient who is no innocent visitor from beyond the stars.
British character actor Edward Judd plays the over worked melancholy doctor who discovers their patient is not all they appeared to be to begin with. (The odd plastic/rubber outfit worn by him is a dead giveaway.) Edward Judd had a good line in world weary seen it all before types and his character is a ferocious smoker. He practically chews the smoke from his cigarette. Shocking bad habit for a medical man. One would think he would know better.
Cheekily enough I also saw some other shared themes from a much later Doctor Who story. Smith And Jones, which introduced the lovely Martha Jones to the many worlds of Doctor Who. When the Judoon transport the hospital where Martha is an intern to the surface of The Moon in order to isolate it so they may track down their alien quarry.It is much the same as the technique favored by the aliens in INVASION. Although the Judoon win hands down when it comes to visually representing how an alien life form might appear. The aliens in INVASION are basically just Asian people in futuristic jump suits, like the hench men of Dr No.
No one I have spoke to since watching the movie remember it but they are all familiar with the themes. It is so often the way with some of these wee obscure and quite forgotten gems...
Thursday, 11 January 2018
I read this book way back in the eighties. While I was staying in a house in Portumna, Galway. I found it among a pile of books by Walter Machen and old school books. It is a Victorian supernatural mystery, off course, about a long lived and wickedly cruel Egyptian called Pharos who is actually a mage from ancient times surviving using lost magics of that era. As i suggested, it feels as though it may have slipped from the same pen but is in fact a great wee novel in its own right. Utterly of its time and completely entertaining for that very reason. It also has a few pulp themed illustrations which add to its beguiling quality of swarthy supernaturalism. Guy Boothby was a best selling and hugely prolific writer in his day. His most infamous creation being the criminal occult mastermind Doctor Nikola who sought to create a potion that would lead not only to immortality but could also reanimate the dead. He was hell bent on ruling the world although I think he never quite considered the massive headache and stress bucket such a goal would become if Successful. Guy Boothby died a young man, only thirty eight when he was carried away by pneumonia, dying at his home. Sad.
Dust off your smoking jacket, check out your study windows are bolted shut against the howling wind and rain outside, throw another log on the fire, uncork a nice Merlot, put your feet up and prepare to be mummified..so to speak.
Wednesday, 10 January 2018
I am enjoying it. It is quite barmy. A swarthy Victorian supernatural melodrama all purple hues and quirkily humorous prose. Oh yes, there is a sense of humor at play among the various beastly and ghastly situations that beset the upright British sensibilities that abound and a cigar and port imbiding old boys club eccentricity about it. Like a tale emerging from the recesses of the comfortable familiarity of an old red leather armchair in a swathe of hand rolled Turkish cigar smoke. A tale almost too terrible to tell, or so it keeps warning us. They should release a talking book version with The League of Gentlemen cast performing it. Respectfully off course. I mean it as a compliment.
It is quite a weird read. The story involves a group of crusty upper echelon Victorians and their travails surrounding Egyptian scarab chicanery,where a shape shifting Egyptian Supernatural entity seeks revenge on and upcoming Member Of Parliament, cloaked in the cultural prejudices and misunderstandings of the day. Politicians are upright and virtuous, foreigners are shady and shifty and ladies always stand by their men no matter how trivial they are treated.
I do love the idea that in Germany this book was called Der Skarabus...
Now that really sounds like Victorian Melodrama to get ones teeth into. Dracula Be Damned!
Tuesday, 9 January 2018
The world of the trenches in WW! has always had quite a haunting effect on me. From novels and poetry and music inspired by this monstrous conflict I have always found it the very cauldron of lost humanity. Just looking at photographs can set me off. I have always felt kinship with the shell shocked. Maybe growing up in Ardoyne during the particular years I did I got to see the best and worst of humanity. Not that I am effecting a comparison with life in trenches and life on Etna Drive, that would be lunacy.
Its a wonderful production. The writing, the acting, the wall of sounds and music that throw shapes upon the canvas of the listeners imagination.
The stories in this series assume Dorian Gray was real, that his terrible story was true.
Stories such as this make me believe in that truth.