Monday, February 25, 2019

tales from the city.

1970s/80s New York.

plan your escape.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

box of delights.

I've posted classic VHS cover art on many occasions but never any classic VHS boxes so here goes.


Saturday, February 23, 2019


Been on a wee bit of a Norman J Warren kick of late and realised that I'd never actually reviewed this so here we go.

I do like to set the scene.

Terror (1978).
Dir: Norman J Warren.
Cast: John Nolan, Carolyn Courage, James Aubrey, Sarah Keller, Glynis Barber
Tricia Walsh, Patti Love, William Russell, Mary Maude, Peter Mayhew, Michael Craze, Chuck Julian and Elaine Ives-Cameron.

Have You Ever Felt An Evil Presence All Around You ... ?

Welcome one and all to the olden days (or is it West Bromwich last week?) where a dirty faced - and even dirtier pillowed - woman (Love from The Long Good Friday) is fleeing thru' the forest from an angry mob of torch-bearing peasants who want to burn her (to death) on account of her being a witch.

Which is fair enough I guess tho' to be honest I'd be more than tempted to set fire to her for having a poodle perm but there you go.

Finally brought down by a handy bear trap she's dragged before the local squire Lord Hawhaw Garrick and his wife Angela (Ian Chesterton himself, Russell alongside Crucible of Terror star Maude) who shout something at her before flouncing off to their stately home leaving the egg stained woman at the mercy of the mob.

Luckily for her tho' she is actually a witch and as the local vicar attempts to read the Bible at her she screams something vaguely sinister at him and the entire mob start running around in terror before accidentally setting fire to themselves.

And as if that wasn't enough she spookily materializes at Lord and Lady Garrick's house, cursing all of their descendants before murdering Lord Garrick and dropping his still warm, blood stained corpse on his wife.

"FIONA! Where's mah lunch?"

Don't worry tho' none of this is real as we are in fact watching - alongside the cast, meta much? - the exciting finale of the latest horror epic from independent producer/director/sexy posh man James Garrick (Nolan, uncle of director Christopher and husband of Helga from 'Allo 'Allo), which he's based on the old family legend that, although he doesn't really believe is true reckons might get him a few quid from the horror crowd.

Especially seeing as he's cast his cameraman, Gary's (Craze AKA Doctor Who's Ben Jackson) beautiful actress girlfriend, Carol (Dempsey and Makepiece, Blake's 7 and more importantly Invaders of the Lost Gold legend Barber) in a main role.

At this point I started to get confused.

You see in the movie (with a movie) was William Russell actually playing Lord Garrick or was it William Russell playing an actor playing Lord Garrick?

Because if it were the former then why is another former Who actor pretending to be a cameraman named Gary?

And more bizarrely is the actress playing the witch really a witch or just an actress?

Because (spoilers) she's gonna turn up as a real witch later.

Anyway before I can figure any of this out there's a wee bit of hypnosis to throw into the plot when Gary proposes to entertain everyone attending the screening by putting Carol into a trance and making her eat an onion.

James, being a mean and moody type thinks it's a bit shit and suggests soggy biscuit instead but is outvoted by his fresh-faced editor, Philip (Aubrey, Gavin Sorenson from Bouquet of Barbed Wire) and James' mysterious cousin Anne (Courage from, um, stuff).


Anyway after much amusement with Carol pretending to be a rabbit and stripping to her pants (probably) Anne decides it'd be a weeze if she had a shot, even tho' Gary has explained that it's actually all bollocks and that Carol just likes the attention.

Nevertheless Anne insists and plonks herself on the sofa to await Gary's hypnotic commands.

Bizarrely - and much to everyone's surprise - she actually does end up in a trance and as a by now fairly freaked out Gary tries to wake her Anne slowly rises from her seat and slowly advances toward a handy wall-mounted sword, taking it from it's resting place and trying to stab her cousin with it.

Luckily she only grazes his arm and after a quick slap round the face she comes to alas but too late to rescue the party atmosphere and everyone fucks off home, except Carol that is who decides to have a wander around the grounds before getting stabbed.

To death.

"Knock knock!" "Who's there?" "Kissap" "Kissap who?"

Meanwhile  Anne - who can't remember any of the sword shenanigans -  has just woken up in bed with no memory of how she got there or as to why she's covered in blood.

Which sounds like a normal night out if I'm honest.

Even her chisel-chinned roommate, Suzy (Keller - look her up yourself) hasn't a clue what's going on.

James has an inkling that something might be wrong tho' after coming across (but not in that way) Carol's still warm body stuck to a tree with the sword and begins to wonder if his mysterious cousin may be behind his friends death.

Tho' bizarrely because he actually owns the sword he reckons the police may blame him for the bad murders so reckons the best way to allay their suspicions is to start acting like an utter shite.

Tho' just starting to act may have been a better choice but heyho.

"Where's the soap?" - "It's next to the sink!"

And the first person to be on the receiving end of his brutish behavior?

Only poor porn director Jeff Beck (TV stalwart Peter Craze but not alas Peter Glaze) who has rented James' studio to make the epic Busty Brenda Takes A Bath and who James chucks out on his ear telling him that he's double booked the space to record an episode of 2Gs And The Pop People.

Not arf.

To add a wee bit more meta-confusion to the plot, Brenda is actually the stage name of Anne's pal Viv who not only works as a hostess at the same strip-club but also lodges at the very same boarding house.

As an aside she's played to perfection by the rather wonderful latter-day playwright, actress, singer and sexagenarian sauce pot Tricia Walsh whose hit pop tune Be Careful Dear (written about her divorce from the head of The Shubert Organisation Philip J. Smith) has to be heard to be believed.

Walsh: Sauce pot.

Anyway back to the plot where, a few nights later, a anal sex obsessed regular at the club known to the girls as Phil the Greek (Julian from Scream for Help and your mums bed) is found viciously murdered (to death) the very same night as he was chucked out for sticking his finger up Anne's arse.

Not too surprisingly most of Anne's workmates reckon that she did it and Viv calls the police.

Cue a myriad of mental murders as anyone who crosses Anne's path (or who even walks by in the background) is killed in a variety of ever more gruesome (and sometimes fairly implausible) ways.

From the policeman squashed by his own - possessed - car to poor Jeff Beck is squashed by a studio light and Brenda/Viv is garotted by her own suspender belt.

How will she explain this to her gran?

Is Anne responsible or is their something more sinister - and supernatural - afoot?

And more importantly in the cold light of day will any of it actually make any sense?


From the unsung genius behind Inseminoid and Prey, the fantastic Norman J Warren comes this (very) British, shot on a shoestring (tho' not Eddie) take on Suspiria albeit one that replaces the originals exotic and alluring cast with tubby cockneys and it's dance school shenanigans with a crop-haired stripper with nipples like bullets (Yes I'm looking at you Tanya Ferova*) fellating a whip to a cheesy sub-Kenny Lynch disco track as pot-bellied punters rub their thighs menacingly.

Which is fair enough I guess.

The cast are great, playing it just right - never too campy and just serious enough to make it believable whilst Carolyn Courage is a perfect quivering lipped heroine/victim who shows vulnerability and spooky in equal measure despite having what looks like a Lego wig on her head.

Talking of wigs tho' the entire film is almost stolen by the frankly fantastic Elaine Ives-Cameron as ex-actress Delores Hamilton, owner of the lodging house in which the girls reside.

Coming across like a Benefits Street Fenella Fielding I swear I could taste the gin fumes thru' the screen, honestly their aren't enough performances like this in horror.

Writers take note. 

Breaking Glass? - More like touching cloth.

As much as all this is nice tho', let's be serious for a minute because when it comes down to it Terror is really nowt more than an excuse to show a series of ever more violent murder set pieces loosely-connected by a paper-thin plot involving witches, revenge and the troubles besetting low budget porn directors which covers it's multitude of cinema sins by offering copious amounts of furtive nudity and gore (plus top 70s fashions) in place of anything resembling a coherent plot.

And I for one salute it.

Plus it's really short which is always good.

And if that hasn't convinced you then the bit where a second hand Rover P6 floats about in a park for no reason during a thunderstorm might.

Still not sure?

Well - slight spoilers here - Poor Gary is killed when boxes of damaged prints of Saturday Night Fever fly off the shelves and cause a bathtub to ignite.

Now tell me another film that features something as terrifying as this.


*And if you like her performance here then feel free to check out Derek Ford's The Sexplorer (AKA The Girl From Starship Venus) the heartwarming tale of a  A young Venusian girl (obviously) who comes to Earth in order to research 'the sex'.

It's basically Under The Skin but with (slightly) better teeth and bigger collars, oh and before you ask Tanya Ferova does indeed play a stripper.

But stick to what you're good at that's my motto.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

sweet charity.

No idea who's been sending stuff to my local charity shop recently but it's suddenly become an Aladdin's cave of tat filled delights.

Boxes of He-Man and Turtles toys, first editions of the American Pinnacle Doctor Who novelizations for a quid and huge piles of 'top quality' DVD's starting at 25p each.

Just yesterday I picked up a sealed copy of the Singing Ringing Tree, the crazily entitled Vanessa Hudgens CD 'V', anther copy of the Bud Spence and Terrence Hill classic All The Way Boys (this time on the fine South African Impact DVD label - gotta catch 'em all), the French Doctor Who series 1 boxset and a bag of 70's/80's British comedy DVD's in cardboard sleeves that you usually find in Sunday papers.

Hudgens: with her cash you'd think she
could afford a matching bra and pants.

Sorting thru' the expected episodes of On The Buses, Hi-De-Hi and the like (which incidentally only cost a small donation seeing as they can't be resold) I was surprised (and a little aroused if I'm honest) to find not only a copy of the fantastic (and terribly underrated) Carry On Emmannuelle but also the Barry (cats face) Stokes starrer The Ups and Downs of a Handyman, a film I'd not seen since I sneakily watched it at a school chums house about 35 years ago and whose reputation seemed to be based more on the fact that Bob Todd had an on screen nervous breakdown whilst filming more than anything else.

So, would it live up to those hazy, Thunderbird fueled memories of spankings, huge bristols and hairy man-ass?

The movie I mean, not what happened when my mates parents came home.

Anyway, for those of you who haven't had the pleasure.....

Ups and Downs of a Handyman (AKA Confessions of a Handyman, Confessions of an Odd-Job Man and The Happy Housewives. 1975)
Dir: John Sealey.
Cast: Barry Stokes, Penny Meredith, Valerie Leon, Sue Lloyd, Chic Murray, Bob Todd, Ava Cadell and the brilliantly named Gay Soper.

Helmet haired, horse cocked newlywed Bob (Stokes) and his buxom blonde bird Margaretta (ex Hills Angel and star of the Pete Walker classic The Flesh and Blood Show Meredith) have decided to start their married life in the quietly quaint little haven that is Chipping Sodbury.

Enjoying a wee bit of do it yourself (shelf building and the like, not furious masturbation obviously) our hero sets up shop as the local handyman.

Cue loads of hilarious gags about the size of his tool - meaning his penis - whilst being asked by various 70's dollybirds to 'check their plumbing' - as in touch their vaginas.

Yup, welcome to the Hell that was 1970's British cinema, where behind every door there was a frustrated and bored housewife in a nylon babydoll nightie and furry heeled slippers (usually played by Liz Fraser, or in this case ex Hammer hottie Valerie Leon), a sexy schoolgirl with pigtails and NHS specs (Ava Cadell, former page 3 poppet, Hollywood star and currently a leading authority on Tantric sex), maybe an uptight twinset and pearls wearing school teacher (usually played by mole lipped Crossroads legend Sue Lloyd) or even the bored daughter of the local magistrate with an IQ of a housebrick but the body of a strip queen.

Oh, and the fashion sense of a clap ridden whore.

She might be enjoying the eggy chest now
but just wait till the mooth shite-in begins.

And if that wasn't entertainment enough, it seems that poor Bob is a bit fick himself, seeing as he never catches on to the fact that the small job that needs doing isn't, in fact putting up a spice-rack but ultimately involves his sticking his cock into the customer in question.

You have to feel for a guy who turns up to fix a broken tap, only to find the lady of the house stark bollock naked (apart from a huge rainforest like 70's bush), clutching a dry Martini in one hand and one of her ample breasts in the other lying on a bed winking at him whilst he mistakenly sees this as she's got something in her eye.

Yes, the script is that funny.

Luckily for us writer/director John Sealey and his partner in crime Derrick Slater (who later gave up writing in order to thrill us with his performance as an unnamed security guard in the classic Tom Baker Doctor Who story, The Seeds of Doom) had realized that it takes more than Barry Stokes bouncing arse to make a movie great, so decided to add a few eccentric British stereotypes to the fold in order to up the comedy ante.

"Why what a lovely shiny helmet you have".

Enter top Scots funnyman (not literally mind, he's been dead for years) Chic Murray as the clumsy PC Nick 'Nick' Knowles and balding bumbler Bob Todd as the spank happy Squire Bullsworthy.

Rumour has it that Todd - of whom it was widely known enjoyed the pleasures of corporal punishment in private - was so close to the edge as far as his mental state was concerned, that every day the director would send a car to pick him up from the local hospital where he was being treated just pop him in on set with a nude young actress and let him slap her arse until they had enough footage for that scene.

Which, frankly is nice work if you can get it.

But it's stuff like this that effectively sounded the death knell for the British film industry, whereas our American cousins had the likes of John Holmes and Ginger Lynn Allen strutting their stuff in grindhouse sexploitation epics we had to put up with bald manbreasted old men appearing all naked and pink like big wobbly perverted jellies and in some cases, like in many of the Dave Sullivan produced sex comedies burst into song and dance routines at the most inopportune moments.

A bit like having your Granddad walk in on you just as you're about to shoot your load over a picture of Caroline Munro when you were 11.


Your dad and your girlfriend last night.

To add insult to an already mentally scarred audience the film was later re-released as Confessions of a Handyman (and later still as Confessions of an Odd-Job Man), in an attempt to con poor viewers into thinking that it was an entry in the fantastic "Confessions Of ..." series starring Lord Robin of Askwith and written by Roger Moore Bond scribe Christopher Wood under the pen name Timothy Lea.

Avoid like a dose of crabs, unless the thought of Gay Soper (who voiced the classic kids teevee show The Flumps) getting taken from behind by the guy from Prey tickles your fancy.

Hmmm, just me then.

Thursday, February 14, 2019


Happy Valentines Day everyone!

 "Chief, listen to me. You have to go to the mine! We were having a party and Harry Warden started killing everybody!"*

My Bloody Valentine (1981).
Dir: George Mihalka.
Cast: Paul Kelman, Lori Hallier, Neil Affleck, Keith Knight, Larry Reynolds, Patricia Hamilton, Alf Humphreys, Cynthia Dale, Helene Udy, Rob Stein, Tom Kovacs, Don Francks and Peter Cowper.

My Bloody Valentine - fucking awful Photoshop.

It's February the 14th, 1960 and the small mining town of Valentine Bluffs (twinned with the village of Spent fact fans)  is having its annual (obviously) Valentine's Day dance; a tradition that the townsfolk have followed for the past century.

Hopefully they wash their pants in between tho'.

But whilst the assorted townsfolk are happily frugging away to hit pop tunes and tanking the local home brew, five poor miners are stuck digging away at the coalface having drawn the short straw and being forced to miss the party.

Well those secret Lemonade mines aren't going to dig themselves.

Their shifty supervisors tho', feeling particularly frisky and feeling slightly foolish decked out in dinner jackets whilst in a coal mine, decide to sneak away to join the celebrations leaving their colleges underground.

I mean it's not like anything could go wrong is it?

Well, nothing except a huge explosion caused by a build up of methane gas - see? who says films aren't educational? - leaving the five miners buried alive.

And more importantly, late for their dates.

After hours of digging (thru' rock, not the 1960's fashions) the towns rescue workers finally reach the trapped men.

Unfortunately all except Harry Warden (the films stunt coordinator Cowper) are dead.

And poor old Harry has gone a wee bit mental because of the ordeal, so the local townsfolk cart him off to the Shady Nook rest home for a while.

You can see why tho', you really don't want some dirt covered, piss stained fella crying about his dead buddies when you're trying to get into the vicars daughters undies do you?

Up the casino. Yesch.

Anyway after spending a year sitting in a pair of toweling pajamas and staring into space whilst dribbling, Harry is deemed fit for release and is sent home on the eve of the accident that sent him mental in the first place.

Which is nice of the doctors to take this into consideration when thinking about discharging him.

It should come as no surprise then to find out that the first thing he does on arrival is butcher the two supervisors who left their post early to go dancing and leave a chilling warning for the townsfolk that if they even think about having another Valentine's Day dance, he'll return once again to take bloody revenge on the town.

Which is a little extreme don't you think?

Jump forward to 1980 and, whilst the mine is still the town's main place of employment, there hasn't been a single dance or party held in town since that terrible night in 1960.

Until now that is.

You see, lovely old lady Mabel Osborne (Hamilton, star of The Fenn Street Gang and Upstairs, Downstairs - no, really) has decided that the town needs something to look forward and to forget about the mine disaster and wacky Warden.

To this end she spends her every waking hour decorating the town with Valentine's Day decorations whilst the younger residents begin to get all excited at the prospect of a night of dancing, drinking and shagging in bushes.


As Valentine's Day draws ever nearer the town's Mayor, Jeff Hanniger (Reynolds, better known as Judge Burton from the hit teevee show Street Legal) wakes to find a fresh human heart wrapped in a lovely Valentine's Day packaging has been popped thru' his letter box.

Which at least shows that the town has a damn good postal service, I mean I'm still waiting on a box of blank DVD's after three weeks.

Attached to the box is a warning to expect a few more killings if the town decides to go ahead and celebrate.

Heart in mah box!

If this wasn't enough of a warning the mysterious messenger has murdered poor Mabel as well, just to show he means business.

Hanniger calls off the dance, getting local police chief Jake Newby (Francks, the voice of Sabretooth in the X-Men vs. Street Fighter video game no less) to tell everyone that Mabel fell down the stairs and that it's being cancelled as a sign of respect.

But the hotheaded - yet deep and caring - miner (and son of the town's mayor) Jessie 'TJ' Hanniger (Ryan O'Neill alike, bollock squashing jeans wearing Kelman), who has recently returned home after failing to make it as an exotic dancer in the big city and is desperate for a drink as well as gagging for some of the sex with his ex-girlfriend Sarah (blond, sensible underwired bra wearing teevee stalwart Hallier) decides to throw his own special Valentine's party down in the mine itself.

You can tell that beneath his rough exterior that he's a nice guy tho' because along with Sarah and all the other hip young miners he's also invited Sarah's current beau, the uber-cool Axel (Affleck, better known these days as an animation timer on The Simpsons but not as Batman obviously).

Well, it's either that or he fancies a Sarah Spit roast.

All set for a wee bit o' mooth shite-in.

But can you guess who's already down the mine waiting for the young uns to turn up?

Yup it's horrid Harry Warden, all decked up in Kwik Fit garage overalls and a handy gas mask ready to slice n' dice his way thru' anyone who even remotely looks like they may start jiving or cutting a rug as the young folk say.

Unfortunately a couple of the miners and their girlfriends have decided to start the party early and head down into the mine for a little tour (and some kissing and stuff), giving Harry a head start to his killing spree and the chance to stick something unexpected into the ladies.

When Jessie and co. finally arrive to discover a pile of corpses they begin to realize that Warden is indeed back for vengeance.

Trapped in the mine with only a six pack of Bud and the homicidal Harry chasing them with a rusty pick axe, the remaining party goers must try and escape before they too end up having a very bloody Valentine....

"Are you my Mummy?"

George Mihalka's My Bloody Valentine is probably more famous for what it was missing rather than what appeared on screen, as nervous Paramount execs decided to gut the film of any and every gore scene before it's release way back in 1981.

They scarily left all the 70s style trousers in tho'.

Despite this the movie still stands up as a competent (if slightly pedestrian) little shocker with an interestingly dressed villain and slightly more rounded than usual characters, taking an essentially cheesy premise yet playing it totally straight.


Luckily back in 2009 some smart Alec decided to remake My Bloody Valentine as a high concept 3-D shocker (the rights must have been cheap) so, suddenly all that missing footage turned up and was quickly re-instated allowing for the directors original vision to finally be seen as intended.

Or to make a few extra bob of those punters too young to remember the original.

Take your pick.

Either way it made one helluva difference to the film, adding an extra dimension to the manic miners reign of bloody terror, the scratchy footage (it's been stuck in the directors loft for 28 years so what do you expect?) gave a much missed air of evil nastiness to Wardens revenge, making you wonder why this gas masked gimp was never taken to the audiences hearts as so many other slasher stars of the era were.

He's got something to put in you.

Competently acted, nicely shot and directed with a steady, workman-like hand (obviously the rest of George's body was OK too), My Bloody Valentine deserved a wider appeal than it ever got on release.

Plus the band are no bad too.

*Just in case you're wondering why the picture of Anne Hathaway is at the top of the review it's just because she once did a Valentine's style photoshoot for Harpers Bazaar in 2014 and I've never been able to think of a good enough reason to post it before.

Plus she's awfully pretty.