Monday, July 6, 2020

farewell maestro.

Ennio Morricone,  

10 November 1928 - 6 July 2020


Friday, July 3, 2020

slayer-rific.

Folk on 'the Twitter' have been discussing what is the greatest sword and sorcery film ever.

And it's this obviously.

No contest

Hawk The Slayer (1980).
Dir: Terry Marcel.
Cast: John Terry, Jack Palance, Bernard Bresslaw, Morgan Sheppard, Annette Crosbie, Shane Bryant, Ray Charleson, Peter O'Farrell, Patricia Quinn and Catriona MacColl.


I am no messenger. But I will give you a message. The message of DEATH!



It is a time of darkness (around 3:30 in the afternoon by the look of the sky) when evil walks the land.

Witches wander the woods whilst common folk sit on tree stumps wearing tights and tidy beards and every bad man possesses a shiny helmet.

One such chrome hatted horror is the wicked Steve Voltan (human handbag Palance in a performance so over the top he's almost in orbit) who, after a huge argument with his dad (probably over not paying his board or being out too late), kills the old fella before doing a runner.

It's like the late lamented Jeremy Kyle show but with more tooled leather.

Enter from stage left the luxurious locked nice son Hawk (John - not the footballer - Terry) who's just turned up to see if his dad needs any shopping done.

Cradling his dying father in his arms (but luckily not in his mooth) our hero listens intently (tho' from Terry's acting he could have constipation) as the old man mutters on about the kids of today having no respect and the price of bread before finally bestowing the mysterious 'Mind Sword' on his son.

A magical bladed weapon with bizarre powers represented by a kids torch stuck to the hilt.

As dad breathes his last Hawk turns to camera and vows to avenge his death.

But not before he gets his hair blow dried and his eyebrows done obviously.




"Don't touch the hair."


Meanwhile Voltan's evil ways have eclipsed the entire kingdom; his followers appear to have stolen all the buildings and replaced them with paintings, night time has been outlawed and replaced with a nicotine filter and the whole country has been reduced to the wooded bit next to the play park behind the directors house, just ever so slightly redressed between scenes in an attempt to confuse the locals.

Luckily there's at least one real building left in the land, a convent run by Victor Meldrew's missis and a last shining beacon of hope in an otherwise dark world.

And currently limping bravely towards this beacon  is the bearded and bashed Ranulf (genre stalwart Sheppard), sole survivor of one of Voltan's massacres.

Arriving at the front door he's quickly ushered into the dining hall and inbetween mouthfuls of egg and cress sandwiches and crisps helpfully informs the nuns  - and by default the viewers - of just how evil Voltan is.

It appears that the evil one attacked Ranulf's village without reason or warning, hacking the women and children to pieces and digging up the adventure playground before twisting the swings around so high that no-one could use them and sitting on the slide.

I shudder as to what he did to the men folk tho' as their fate is never mentioned.

Maybe he sent them to work in his secret licorice mines?

Hel-met.





Luckily for Ranulf he's a bloody good runner  - who seems not too bothered to lose his family, perhaps they weren't speaking?-  and managed to escape before things got too bloody.

Tho' he does appear to have left most of his hand behind and what's left of it is beyond saving,  so the nuns wrap a scarf around it and send him to bed.

On the other - only?- hand his beard and crooked teeth are perfectly fine so it's not all bad.

It's not all saucy young nuns and snacks tho' as before long Voltan appears at the convent intent on bad deeds, first he roughly takes Annette Crosbie to his lair (dirty boy), before demanding 'all the gold!' as a ransom.
 
Understandably pissed off at all these naughty shenanigans Ranulf, blaming Voltan for cutting short his promising career as a professional knitter decides to challenge him to a duel but unfortunately falls for the villains taunts of "I can fight you with one arm behind my back" (probably) which results in our bearded pal getting a damn good kicking.



"You should really see a doctor about that son."


Left battered, bruised and surrounded by crying nuns, Ranulf quickly rides off - he's getting good at this legging it lark - to the Abbey for a meeting with the High Abbot (unfortunately not Russ), who after much chin stroking sends Ranulf off to search for one who can help defeat Voltan.

A man named Hawk.....The Slayer.

Obviously everyone else was busy.


Ranulf quickly leaves to begin his quest to find Hawk but is almost immediately  accosted by some gypsies and after refusing to buy some pegs is locked up in a cage.

Come on, how unlucky is this guy?

Help is at hand tho' when Hawk just happens to come riding past - with his sexy blind sorceress companion (the raunchy redhead that fuelled so many teen fantasies thanks to Rocky Horror, Patricia Quinn) that he rescued from being burnt as a witch a few scenes earlier - and kills the dirty criminals using his 'Mind Sword'.

Which it turns out is exactly like a normal sword apart from the fact that it can float into its owners hand as if carried - just out of shot - by a member of the crew.



Spock: The Pikey years.


After listening to Ranulf's tale of woe, Hawk decides to help rescue Ms. Crosbie  and begins to round up his posse from 'the mystic hood' as they probably said in the olden days to kick Voltan's arse.

Contrary to what you might be thinking this isn't as heroic and selfless as it sounds seeing as he was on his way to kill Voltan anyway, it just means that now he'll be getting some readies for doing it so it's not long (well the film has a fairly short running time) before our hero has got his merry band (The Slayerettes?)  together.



"'Ere Sid! This is a real carry on!"

This (slightly) super six consists of Hawk himself, Ranulf, the aforementioned sexy sorceress, a seriously short mallet wielding 'giant' named Gort (Carry On star Bresslaw), an elf dressed in a knitted tracksuit Cameron Crow (Charleson, famous for playing the Bishop in London's first multi-racial production of Jean Genet's 'The Balcony' fact fans) and Alec Baldin (professional short-arse O'Farrell) an overly tall dwarf with a bullwhip, pointy shoes and a fish fetish.

Voltan must be shitting himself.



"Trout in mah mooth!"


Heading back to the convent, our heroes soon get to work protecting the nuns, eating sandwiches and trying to work out how to get enough gold to lure Voltan into a trap.

You see, they've figure out that it'd be impossible to literally get 'all the gold' seeing as no-one is quite sure where it's all kept but reckon that some - mixed inn with some chocolate coins and old Ferrero Rocher packets would probably be better than none.

I mean Voltan only has one good eye so it's not like he'll be looking too closely.


After much deliberation and deciding that whoring out the nuns for pennies would be a bad idea, our heroes decide the easiest way to get the gold is to head out into the woods and relieve Tony Trafficker, the local news agent cum slave trader of his stash.

Oh yeah and free his slaves too obviously.

Surprisingly this all goes without a hitch and our merry band are soon back at the convent celebrating with crisps and lashings of ginger beer.

There's always one miserable git who manages to sour any celebration tho' and in this case it's Hawk himself.

Seems he's beginning to have second thoughts about trusting Voltan to keep his side of the bargain.

Seeing as he's already killed their dad and - in a soft focus flashback sequence - Hawk's wife Eliane (the legend that is Catriona MacColl) you can kinds see where he's coming from.


Pissed up on Buckfast and spoiling for a fight our heroes grab their weapons and head out to Voltan's castle in order to rescue Annette (and no doubt keep the gold for themselves) and hopefully persuade Voltan to change his ways and therefore avoid any unnecessary bloodshed.

Or any prohibitively expensive action sequences obviously.

It'll come as no surprise when I say that this plan fails abysmally and the dirty half dozen end up retreating back to the abbey with bruised ego's and slightly ruddy arses.

From having them kicked that is.

Minds like sewers you lot.

It's not all bad tho' as during the botched rescue, Hawk did manage to run his nephew Drogo thru' with a sword.

Which is nice.



"Buns you say?!?"


Obviously this doesn't go down too well with  Voltan, who on hearing the news of the death of his son goes completely mental and after throwing a dinner service at his trusty servant decides to attack the abbey, kill everybody in it and just take 'all the gold' for himself.

Which if you think about it is much more in keeping with his evil image.

With the help of a well-meaning (yet ultimately misguided) nun he breaks into the abbey whilst everyone is sleeping/hungover and captures our motley crew, tying them up in the basement ready for a wee bit of torture porn.

And he's going to start by introducing his brother Hawk to a red hot poker.

All looks lost but can the sorceress use her magical powers plus her seemingly unending supply of glowing ping-pong balls and silly string to rescue our heroes from evil?


Five go mad on meth.

Before I go any further can I just say I fucking love this movie and nothing - or no-one - will ever change my mind.

It's sad but true that Terry (co-writer and producer of Norman J. Warren's Prey- see? this blog's not just chucked together randomly) Marcel's vastly underrated British entry into the early 80's sword and sorcery genre is often ridiculed for it's poor effects, lack of budget, pseudo-disco score and the varying quality of the performances but if you can look past that lot you'll find a gem as bright as the one in the 'Mind Sword' just under the surface.

Well maybe not that bright otherwise you'd probably go blind but you get the point.

OK I'll admit that the cast are, on the whole as stilted and wooden as the trees surrounding them, but this almost high arch delivery evokes a less sophisticated age.

Take John Terry's performance as Hawk, who's to say that medieval noblemen didn't speak in broad Yankee accents and I've never read anything in history books to say that they had to move their upper bodies whilst talking.

Who knows, it might be that seeing as the 80's was the height of the toy tie-in, Terry might just be the greatest actor of them all, choosing to play Hawk as a living, breathing full size Palitoy action figure.

Now how's that for post modernism?

Luckily the late, great Jack Palance appears to be compensating for everyone else's lack of energy, spitting and snarling every single syllable like some huge brutish bull terrier with it's balls being slowly squeezed by a fresh smelling Emma Thompson whilst Air's Sexy Boy plays in the background and all the time whilst wearing a swing bin on his head.

C'mon, what's not to love?



"Touch my ring!"


Of the other cast members Ray Charleson's portrayal of Crow the Elf, whilst seemingly spookily mysterious to me as a child now just comes across like a whispering pikey peadophile bedecked in his mums best PJ's, which I admit says more about me than him whilst Bernard Bresslaw is basically having a dry run for the same character in Krull a few years later.

Only in that they could afford to give him some built-up shoes and a mask.

Tho' in all honesty it doesn't make it any less a bind to sit thru', at least with Hawk the cast look like they're at least enjoying themselves, unlike Krull where half the budget seems to have gone on inserting poles up the casts arses.

Talking of arses, Patricia Quinn is as sexy/scary (tick as applicable) as she was in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and The Hammer House of Horror episode Witching Time (the first full frontal nudity I ever saw) even tho' she's forced to wear a headband with an eye chalked on it and an old sleeping bag but let's be honest here, can you imagine any other actress managing to pull that off and still look sultry?

Thought not.

Patricia Quinn: You would (and your dad probably did. Twice).


Of the rest of the cast, the fantastic Morgan Sheppard is all hangdog looks, world weary sighs and muscular thighs (well maybe not the last bit) whilst O'Farrell gives it his all, which seeing as he's stuck wearing a pair of child's black ballet tights, winkle-pickers and a hoodie with a plastic mackerel in the pocket is pretty damn good if I'm honest.

Talking of plastic joke shop toys, any film that makes no apologies for using silly string, glowing ping-pong balls, pound shop spiders and hula hoops stolen from the set of Superman II as a serious replacement for a lack of effects budget deserves all the praise you can muster.

I mean you have to at least admire the crews balls for even thinking about attempting a movie of this scale on a budget that wouldn't even begin to cover the cost of Lena Headey's tattoo camouflaging cream on Game of Thrones.

Headey: No reason.


And what of the high energy synth score by ex Six-Five Special and Oh Boy musical director Harry Robertson I hear you ask?

Well it's nothing short of genius, giving Claudio Simonetti a run for his money and perfectly evocative of a spooky age of sorcery, swords and magic.

Albiet one where holiday resort discos are all the rage obviously.

Just give it a listen now and see if you're not transported back to a time of mucky maidens and medieval mayhem.

Or at the very least overtaken by the urge to give your evil sibling a damn good hiding.

Had there been any justice in the world someone would have penned lyrics to this and given us another Eurovision hit thereby ushering in an age of Hawk-based fashions and films.

Instead we got Prima Donna: Love Enough For Two and the cementing of Thatcherism.

Bastards.


But then again, I may be just a sad, sad fan boy who needs to get out more.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

big in japan.

Just because, Jennifer Connelly in Japanese print form.

























Monday, June 29, 2020

titan!

Remembering the genius of Ray Harryhausen, Master of The Titans - born 100 years ago today.


Saturday, June 27, 2020

looney tunes.

As mentioned earlier, been spending the last week or so of lockdown working our way thru' as many portmanteau horrors as we can.

Well someone has to do it.

Asylum (AKA House of Crazies, 1972).
Dir: Roy Ward Baker.
Cast: Peter Cushing, Britt Ekland, Robert Powell, Herbert Lom, Barry Morse
Patrick Magee, Charlotte Rampling, Barbara Parkins, Ann Firbank, Sylvia Syms, James Villiers, Megs Jenkins, John Franklyn-Robbins and Geoffrey Bayldon.


Working with the mentally disturbed... can lead to a breakdown. ”



The slight of hip and pretty of lip former boot maker Doctor Martin (onetime Jesus and father of Enoch -  Powell) has been invited to the famed Cleftpate asylum for an interview regarding the job of head of mentalism.

Which I've been told is an actual medical term and not something I randomly made up.

After acing the first round of questions and nailing the team-building exercise Martin's prospective boss Dr Paul Rutherford (screech-voiced 70s stalwart Magee, who appears to come with his own wheelchair, which probably saved Stan a few quid when they made A Clockwork Orange) has decided that in order to make sure he's the right man for the job he must take one more unusual test.

You see, it appears that Rutherford's associate, Dr Freddie Starr, has developed a dual personality after being hit on the head with a swingball during garden time and is now housed upstairs alongside all the 'proper' mentalists.

“If you can recognise who is - or was - Dr Starr, I’ll give you the job” announces Rutherford as Mark O'Toole plucks a funky bass-line in the background.


Barbara Parkins was unimpressed by the size of Richard Todd's chopper.



Making his way to the Wacky Wing - and admiring some badly drawn pictures showing the history of mental health along the way - he's soon greeted by the hospital's chief  orderly Max (Catweazle himself, Bayldon), who quickly introduces him to the first of the four patients he must interview in order to find the disturbed doc, a wild haired woman named Bonnie.

It seems that Bonnie (Valley of The Dolls star Parkins) was having a torrid affair (tho' not as torrid as his wallpaper it must be said) with a slick-haired, middle aged banker named Walter (Dambusters and Doctor Who star Todd), whose love for nipple revealing shirts and camp cravats is only matched by his hatred of his well to do wife Ruth (screen legend Sims, who's been in loads of stuff that I frankly can't be arsed typing).

When not busy reminding Walter that she's rich and that he'd be nothing without her Ruth keeps herself busy studying voodoo with “a black charlatan” (not Tim Burgess then) at the local community centre - as you do - and has decided that today's the day to show of her new magical bracelet to her husband.

Which is pretty bizarre seeing as today is also the day that Walter has decided to rid himself of Ruth once and for all.

As opposed to twice and for a bit obviously.

Your dads cum face - trust me I know.


And how does he plan to do this? I hear you cry.

Well by taking her down to the cellar to show her the new chest freezer he’s bought (from Glens, Hutchison. Robertson and Stepek no doubt) before surprising her with an axe to the face, then chopping her up, wrapping the body parts in brown paper and finally popping them in the aforementioned freezer - alongside the spooky voodoo bracelet obviously.

Everything seems to be going swimmingly but as Walter heads upstairs to pour himself (another) large brandy he notices that his wife's - still parcelled - severed head has followed him up the stairs.

Spooky biscuits.

Some time later Bonnie arrives at the house and noticing the smell of fresh gammon emanating from the cellar goes to investigate.

Slowly opening the freezer lid she's - fairly - shocked to find her beloved tucked in behind the carrots.

Which is nice.

As she turns to leave tho' Bonnie is confronted by the horrifying (well I say horrifying but I mean ludicrous) sight of Ruth's paper wrapped body parts trundling menacingly toward her.....


Doc Martin - not this one.


Back in the real life Dr Martin is convinced Bonnie was talking bollocks (as the medical professionals say) and hurries along to see the next patient, an elderly tailor named Bruno (Space: 1999s Professor Bergman himself, Morse) who spends his days sitting on a table pretending to sew trousers for celebrity game show contestants.
Cue a wibbly wobbly dissolve that that's us from the asylum to a dreary backlot at Shepperton where the aforementioned Bruno is struggling to keep his business afloat as his uncaring landlord Stubbins (Franklyn-Robbins who was in lots of really good stuff during his career but we know as the jester-hatted Timelord that sends The Doctor on his mission in Genesis of The Daleks) keeps turning up and demanding the rent.

Bastard.

Enter (gently after a long bout of sweet foreplay) the enigmatic Mr Smith (Cushing), who offers to pay Bruno a small fortune to make a special shiny suit for his son who, by the look of the material is about to start touring as a Nik Kershaw tribute act.

However, there are certain rules that Bruno must adhere to in order to get paid - he must only work on the suit after midnight and stop at dawn and he must do it whilst wearing his wife's underwear.*

“I happen to believe in astrology” exclaims Smith in the way of an explanation.

And with that he leaves the shop.


Sapphire and Steel investigate Brexit.

Starting work on the suit right away, as his wife Anne (Firbank - most famous around here for turning up at the end of The Rise of Skywalker to ask Rey who she is) dutifully brings him copious amounts of coffee and biscuits (Rich Tea, thanks for asking) he almost immediately breaks Smith's rules and carries on sewing after the deadline only to prick his finger on a needle - looking on in mild horror as the blood mysteriously disappears into the fabric.

Don't worry tho' as contrary to Smith's wishes this will have absolutely fuck all effect on the outfit.

Or the climax of the story.

Finishing the suit in record time he excitedly takes takes a cab to Smith's house, rubbing his knees with glee at the thought of all that lovely money but alas everything is not how it seems as Smith is actually totally skint - spending his fortune on the magic pattern book in order to bring his (very dead) son back to life.

This has actually happened to me with art commissions so I can totally understand why Bruno gets a wee bit annoyed and refuses to hand over the suit.

Smith counters this by pulling out a gun and screaming “Give me that suit!”at Bruno and a (very slow) struggle ensues climaxing in Smith accidentally shooting himself and Bruno (not accidentally) stealing the magic book.

As you would.

Nigel Mansell: He's got something to put in you.

Returning home Bruno explains the whole sorry situation to his wife before instructing her to burn both the suit and the book but Ann has other ideas and decides to dress Brian, the shop window dummy she chats to everyday (which is news to both us and her hubbie as it's never been mentioned before) in the smart new supernatural togs....

With absolutely no loin-stirring at the sight of Barry Morse's bouncy manboobs Dr Martin stands dejected, wondering if he should have just applied for a job at Wimpy Burgers instead but his spirits are soon lifted by the smell of sophistication and strawberries emanating from the next room, so with an added spring in his step he heads off to investigate the next patient.

And it's in that room that Martin comes across (not in that way, well not yet - she's a classy lady who would probably want dinner first) the lovely Barbara (the even lovelier Rampling - ask your granddad) - a young and with it woman with a dark secret....

Peter's stiffie.




You see (well you would be if you were watching) after being locked away in Shady-nook for the last year due to suffering from 'the mentalism', Barbara is traveling back to her family home alongside her sharp-suited brother George (Villiers from For Your Eyes Only and Crown Court amongst other classics).

 Although happy to be home she's not too enamored at the thought of having a nurse tell her what to do and when to go to bed and has no sooner sat on her bed than is planning her escape.

A plan that may or may not involve poisoned tea, multiple scissor stabbings, ladies in 70s style suits and split personalities....

Strawberries.


Finding that he's in desperate need of the toilet, Martin makes his excuses ("You're talking bollocks hen!") and proceeds to the final room where his next patient, Doctor Byron (Pink Panther star and former Star Wars bounty hunter Lom) sits busying himself making slightly shady looking wind-up tin robots in which, he claims, he can capture peoples souls.

Starting with his own.....

Tunnel or funnel?

Will Dr Martin choose the right patient and get his dream job?

Will Byron end up marketing his tin toys to unsuspecting kids and start the Transformers range 15 years too early?

And will there be a spooky twist ending that begs the question 'who is the real mentalist?'





From those genre stalwarts at Amicus Films (and sometimes AARU Productions if the Daleks - or more importantly Joe Vegoda and his cash - were involved), the late great Milton Subotsky and Max Rosenberg comes another classically creepy portmanteau horror that is less about scares and shocks and more to do with being a Saturday night rite of passage for those of us (just) the wrong side of 50.

And let's be honest our appreciation of all things horror is much better because of them.

Between 1965 and 1974 the pair released a cornucopia of creep filmed classics including the sublime Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), the carnie-courting Torture Garden, The House That Dripped Blood, the original Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, From Beyond the Grave and Asylum cementing the companies reputation as the perfect pair for part-work horrors featuring the cream of British - and sometimes American - talent (oh yes and Robert Hutton).

And you can't get much bigger than casting the son of God in the headlining role can you?

OK so this is a pre-Jesus (but just post-Doomwatch) Robert Powell but he's still pretty good, as is the ever twitchy Patrick Magee who alongside  Geoffrey Bayldon make the wraparound story watchable for their performances alone.

The rest of the cast ain't too shady either with the likes of Barry Morse, Richard Todd and Herbert Lom, alongside the likes of Britt Ekland and Charlotte Rampling and the ever present Peter Cushing, seriously it's worth watching for them alone.
Sorry, can you tell I'm a fan?

Well it's either that or lockdown has mellowed mea wee bit.




What sets Asylum apart from the rest tho' is it's unrelenting bleakness and distinct lack of (intentional) comic book style humour that permeates thru' the majority of Amicus' output, Asylum, alongside Vault of Horror and From Beyond the Grave, are the companies attempts at 'serious' horror with nary a giggle on show.

Well except for Richard Todd's way too tight shirt obviously.

Oh yes and bits of a shop window dummy wrapped in brown paper 'menacing' Barbara Parkins.

And maybe the living mannequin.

And those pound shop soul robots.

Other than that it's fucking terrifying.

Mostly.

"Fiona! Look at me! I'm from Dudley!"


Written - like everything else Amicus released at the time by one-shock pony Robert (I wrote Psycho) Bloch at his pulpy best and with a score that utilities every loud piece of music Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky ever composed, Asylum is a by the book (and damn near perfect) example of why when it came to anthology 'orror - Amicus were king.

Don't worry, I'll be back to slagging stuff off next time.





























*This last bit is a lie, sorry.

Friday, June 19, 2020

hobly city.

Noticed that quite a few folk are just discovering this classic via Amazon Prime then saw that my rather well written review had originally been posted way back in 2015 and that no fucker had read it.

So I thought I'd drag it into the light, add a few more 'laugh nows' and pass it off as a new one.

I've kinda given the game away now tho.

Horror Hospital (AKA Computer Killers, Frankenstein's Horror-Klinik, 1973).
Dir: Anthony Balch.
Cast: Michael Gough, Robin Askwith, Vanessa Shaw, Ellen Pollock, Dennis Price, Kurt Christian, Barbara Wendy, Kenneth Benda and Skip Martin.

"Now make a clean job of it, Frederick, the car was washed this morning."



It's a grim, grey day in 1970s England, empty Smith's Crisps salt n' shake bags drift across an untidy bit of unkempt woodland as a couple of blood covered 'teens' fashionably decked in dirty, egg stained bandages run from an unseen assailant.

Or from someone attempting to wash their hair.

Meanwhile perched on a nearby hill snug in his shiny Rolls-Royce is the enigmatic (re: camp as pink pants) Dr. Christian Storm (the late, great Gough dressed as your nan) and his delightful dwarf assistant Frederick (genre stalwart and one time owner of Yorkshire's best stocked tobacconist Martin).

But why?

Are they dogging?

Taking in the scenery?

Or just taking it generally?

I mean I can never tell these days.

Noticing the car our dirty duo attempt to run for the hills  but as the Rolls-Royce approaches, huge plastic blades extend from the bodywork and slice off the unfortunate couples heads.

Which means they were either very short or the car is very tall.

"That’ll teach them to try and run away from us," says Frederick in a voice that suggests that the disc must be running at the wrong speed, pushing the heads into a Sainsbury's bag for life as he goes.

Cue the titles and a blast of the DeWolf library music used in Dawn of The Dead.

Which is fairly disconcerting if I'm honest.

"Oi Dom, are you sure this is the quickest way to Barnard Castle?"


Leaving Grimsville for swinging London, we soon come across (which makes a nice change seeing as it's usually him doing the coming) an angry young man with a lion's mane of hair, the sexy songwriter Jason (The great god that is Sir Robin of Askwith) who's decided to spend his evening drunkenly shouting (fairly) homophobic abuse at top prog-rock band Mystic (or are they actually just a mystic prog-rock band?) in revenge for them stealing one of his songs.

But not this one.

Unfortunately (for Jason) the 'silly red faggot' of a lead singer is actually hard as nails, answering the heckles by giving Jason a bloody good kicking.

Now even angrier and with a bloody nose to boot, Jason decides what he really needs is a break and noticing a flyer for Hairy Holidays - Sun and Fun For The Under 30s, decides to book one the very next day.

Visiting the local travel agency - run as it happens by the enigmatic Mr Jackson Pollack (an incredibly, ahem,  merry Pryce) - Jason excitedly rummages thru' the brochures for anything that tickles his fancy.

Jackson tho', being a totally non clichéd predatory old homosexualist is more interested in eyeing up our blond babe-magnets trouser area than sorting out a suitable break but after realizing he's backing a loser - as opposed to backing slowly yet steadily on his engorged member - in Jason, he packs our hero off to the world famous (it says here) Doctor Storm’s well-being clinic in the aforementioned Grimsville (see how it's all coming together? clever eh?) for a week of drizzle, grey skies and school dinners.

Being integral to the plot Jason agrees and is soon traveling to the clinic via some grainy British Rail stock footage.

It's not all bad weather and bad fashions tho',  as during the journey Jason meets up with the fantastically thighed Judy (button nosed beauty Shaw in her only starring role, tho' she does a great dance in the 1969 Yul Brynner thriller The File of the Golden Goose) and, after announcing that he isn't going to rape her, settles down to a nice chat and a chunk of cheese.

Chatting up 'the burds' was so much simpler in the 70s.

Judy explains that she’s going to the clinic to visit her Aunt Harris (a fantastically thin lipped performance from stage star Pollock) who originally ran a brothel in Holland but is now her sole relative.

No idea why or how these things are connected but there you go.

It seems that poor Judy was conceived out of wedlock causing her mother and aunt to fall out.

But the creepiest revelation is yet to come as it appears that Harris isn't even her aunts real name, yup she actually gets called that due of her love for Harris tweed.

No, really.

A pair of smooth Lilly white knees yesterday. No I'm not obsessed.



Anyway, arriving at Grimsville railway station (it's the stop just after Little Rimming and just before Cleft) they're greeted by a morose station master by the name of Linda Carter (the amusingly monickered Benda, best known as the minister in the Pertwee Who classic The Claws of Axos) who begrudgingly gives them directions to the clinic.

Halfway up the bumpy country road tho' it begins to rain but luckily two motorbikes bearing the number plates Storm 1 and Storm 2 - and complete with black, leather-clad riders - arrive to carry the delectable duo the rest of the way.

Greeted at the front door by a bemused (or is that just drunk?) Frederick, Jason and Judy are ushered along to the front desk where Aunt Harris issues the pair with a key to the only room available.

You can almost smell Jason's joy at this news.

And my jealousy obviously.

Introductions out of the way and it's back to more time consuming filler material as Frederick slowly takes them upstairs (ooeerr) with the haunted look of a man trying to remember his lines.

Cut to an open door and a blood soaked bed.

And an uncomfortably long silence before our tiny chum mutters "Nothing to worry about here, I mean we all have our little accidents, you know."

Which is fair enough I suppose.


"It's my anti-mooth shite-in helmet!"



So far we've had gruesome gore, groovy tunes and some top comedy turns.

Unfortunately there's been no nudity so it's lucky for us that the shapely Judy has decided to take an incredibly soapy shower.

But before you can make a grab for the pause button on the remote control, Jason appears clad in only a pair of  Y fronts and a knight’s helmet.

Despite all this cringe inducing helmet based malarkey (or maybe, shudder, because of it) Jason does, in fact get to have 'the sex' with a still visibly wet Judy.

First Liz Fraser then Linda Bellingham and now the voluptuous Vanessa Shaw.

How can us mere mortals ever compete?

"Is it in yet?"



Feeling a wee bit peckish after such hot lovin' the couple head down for dinner where Aunt Harris seats them at a huge table alongside about a dozen bowl haired, bright blue 'teens' resplendent with plastic scars stuck haphazardly to their brows.

"These are our advanced students". explains a helpful Harris. "Don't worry about the dribbling and farting, they won’t speak properly until they've been totally cured."

Before Jason can ask what the fuck she's on about the only other girl at the table, a Ms. Millie Peed (the Erika Blanc alike Wendy from Sex and the Other Woman) starts screaming (badly) before being carried out by a couple of bikers.

Five fingers - never touched the sides. The Matt Hancock lookalike failed to win any fans at the orphanage Christmas party.


Deciding to skip dessert, Judy and Jason he upstairs to retire to bed (and maybe a bit more sexiness) but any amorous thoughts are soon shattered when the tap starts gushing blood.

Judy screams as the door opens finally revealing the wheelchair bound form of Doctor Christian Storm, MD, BSc, RAC and Tufty Club member no. 465.

It seems he's made a special effort to come and meet his associates niece but can hardly disguise the anger he feels for poor Frederick who, it seems has not only stashed a couple of rotting heads in the cold water tank but he's also failed to post a letter to Judy telling her to stay at home.

"Women can be terribly troublesome, but then so can little men!" he creepily informs Jason just before he slaps Frederick in the face with his riding crop.

And with that he squeakily leaves the room.

Michael Gough: Tunnel or funnel?


As night descends upon Storm Manor Jason decides to go and explore leaving Judy alone in bed.

But not for long tho' as she's soon up and about giving it her best Nancy Drew impression, until that is she stumbles across a dormitory full of lobotomized youngsters clad only in greying Marks and Spencer vest and pants combo's.

Escaping this underwear nightmare our screaming sex kitten is suddenly overcome by what appears to be a man made from Plasticine skulking about in a corridor.

Hearing her screams, Jason jumps to the rescue but is soon overpowered by those shiny helmeted leather boys from earlier.

Your nan's cum face. Trust me, I should know.


Obviously there's not enough plot going on at the moment so let's welcome back the sleazy Mr. Pollack who turns up out of the blue in an attempt to blackmail Storm for more cash and a pair of Jason's undies.

Dirty man.

Unfortunately our bum fun loving chum finds himself on the wrong end of the blade wielding Rolls Royce (actually it's the right end if you think about it) adding not only a new meaning to the phrase 'giving head' but also giving Jason the rudest awakening he's had since he did Linda Bellingham in a sandpit.

His only choice now?

To grab little Frederick and attempt to pump him for information.

The Price is right.


Luckily (for both Fred and viewers of a nervous disposition) Doctor Storm arrives in the nick of time with the offer of showing Jason his army of lobotomized muscle men in the gym.

Homo-erotic subtext anyone?

That's not all tho' as within minutes of unveiling his creations, Storm is proving their might by punching them in the stomach as they do star jumps and making them do back flips by remote control.

Jason, no doubt feeling confused by all the male flesh on show makes a break for the woods followed by two of Storm's biker gang, a very slow fight ensues, ending when one of the leather boys falls into a convenient swamp.

Must admit I never saw that coming.

A wee bit like our hero who manages to not hear two more leatherette’s  squeaking up behind him ready to administer a fucking good kicking.


Confessions of a dangerous mind.

If getting beaten up by two members of The Village People wasn't enough of an indignity, Jason is thrown into the cellar and gassed to sleep, giving us the chance to see a recap of what's happened so far.

Which is very considerate of the producers if you think about it.

Meanwhile back in the main plot, Storm is sticking a kebab stick into the skull of one of his patients, trying not to be too upset that Aunt Harris has decided to go back to running a brothel.

You never get this kinda stuff on The Archers.

Realizing that there is in fact a distinct lack of bona fide male tottie on screen (as much as he tries Askwith can't manage alone), the producers introduce us to a funky young traveler named Abraham (Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger's Christian) who, by the way he's walking has sold more than his soul to be in this movie.

It appears that our exotic pal is looking for his girlfriend Millie (you remember) but before he even has a chance to flutter his cow-like eyelashes at Harris the poor sod is taken from behind and thrown into the cellar alongside a slowly recovering Jason.

"excuse me...I have a women's period".


Tired of seeing so many young men beaten off by Storm's henchmen, Aunt Harris goes back to packing her collection of market stall dildos and Russian dolls but is rudely interrupted by the plasticine man who appears to rub her face to death, whilst back in the cellar Abraham is explaining his character motivation to Jason.

Clicking seamlessly into Shatner mode - but without the hatred of Autistic folk obviously - Jason deduces that their only hope of escape is if Frederick has had a change of heart and decided to become a good guy.

Which, bizarrely enough is exactly what happens because at that very moment our pint sized pal is busy cooking our heroes some hearty porridge whilst spiking the guards’ Limeade.

Cue scenes of knockabout comedy gold that'd shame David Lynch as lil' Fred has to drag the comatose guards around before piling them up so he can reach the door handle, totally ignoring the handy bucket on the wall right next to him.

Escaping the cellar our buff boys (and Frederick) race to the gym to free Jenny (hands up if you'd forgotten about her too) only to bump into Doctor Storm (again) who appears to have been sitting there all night waiting patiently for our heroes to turn up so he can explain his motivation to them.

Nah....that'd be too silly even for this film.

Wouldn't it?

Cue even more flashbacks only this time they're in order to give us a wee bit of background on the doc.

She might look uncomfortable now but just you wait till the Karaoke starts.



Surprisingly he wasn't always a camp cripple but used to be a handsome womanizer with the dress sense of Peter Wyngarde, the hair of Martin Fry and a pair of working legs.

Tutored by Pavlov (but not alas his dog) and employed by Stalin, Storm soon became obsessed with the idea of raising an army of remote controlled circus performers and gymnasts in order to entertain - then maybe even take over - the world.

As one would.

Unfortunately a passing gypsy accidentally burned his laboratory down forcing him to move to the UK.

Illegally.

UKiP would have a field day.

Actually they probably wouldn't care because he's white.

Tho' he does sound a wee bit Polish so maybe they would.

But I digress.

Unimpressed with all this mindless small-talk and random footage of an ugly couple attempting to fuck in a kiddies sandpit Storm orders his men to give Jason and Abraham another kicking before locking them up, this time alongside Frederick.

That's the look, that's the look, the look of love.



But our by now terrific threesome, bored with the constant running away, getting captured and frightful beatings, reckon that enough is enough and decide that this time they're gonna fuck some shit up.

But first they need to escape.

If only they could find someone small enough to crawl out of the window, crawl along the ledge, climb in thru' the catflap, beat the guard and let them out.

All eyes on Frederick then.

Again.

Believe it or not he does indeed make his way thru' the window, round the ledge and back in the catflap, even beatings the pesky guard to death with an axe before freeing the boys.

His heroism is short lived (as well as short arsed) for no sooner have they started down the stairs when a sneaky leather guy throws the poor little sod over the balcony to his doom.

One Direction...and we all know where that is.


After rescuing Judy from the operating table, Jason and Abraham set out to find Millie but alas it's too late to save her seeing as whilst all this fighting and escaping has been going on the poor girl has been totally brainwashed by Storm.

And if that wasn't enough the pervy plasticine man from earlier has just sneaked into her room and fucked her to death before making his escape out of a window just as Jason and Abraham burst in.


But he's left something behind.

Lying on the bed covered in egg, sweat and semen stains is the remains of Doctor Storms full body latex suit.

Turns out he burned more than his fingers during the lab fire.

Abraham obviously upset by the fact that his girlfriend has been murdered starts to smash stuff, stopping only to piss in the doctor's filing cabinets and torching the place before getting chased away by the remaining staff.

Stealing the Rolls Royce Jason gives chase to the doctor, hoping at last for a wee taste of revenge...

Or at least a cheeky squeeze of his Playdoh-like man boobs.




After years in the cinematic wilderness, the release of Horror Hospital on shiny Bluray (quite) a few years back means that this lost gem from a talent hardly mentioned in serious film tomes will - hopefully - and deservedly take it's place in the annals of classic British Horror.

Quite possibly the first post-modern horror movie ever made, coming across as it does like Acorn Antiques directed by Sam Raimi or Casualty produced by David Cronenberg.

Yes it's that good.

Made at a time when British horror was floundering as it tried to match it's American counterparts after years of Hammer house based costume chills Horror Hospital perfectly encapsulating everything that's great about the genre at the time.

I mean what other country would counter the fearsome sight of Leatherface wielding a chainsaw with doddery old dear Sheila Keith brandishing a Woolworth's bought Black and Decker drill as the legendary Pete Walker did in Frightmare?

It's just a pity that unlike Walker, director Anthony Balch never became a household horror name.

Well apart from in our house anyway.

And for those of you scratching your collective heads here's a wee bit of background info on the great man.

But not too much obviously I mean you're not reading Sight And Sound.

Well if you're on this blog chances are you're struggling with the words and just looking at the pictures.

Anyway, a legend within the industry, Balch was well known for snapping up European arthouse and exploitation movies at cut down prices before re-releasing them in the UK with sexed up new titles.

What a guy.

Häxan: a load of old arse.



If that wasn't enough he was also the man behind the infamous sound version of Benjamin Christensen's brilliantly batshit documentary Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922), getting his old pal, the drug, lemur and arse obsessed genius William S. Burroughs (with whom he made two short movies in the early 60's) to write and record the commentary.

Suffice to say it's well worth finding a copy of.

Unfortunately Balch only ever completed two full length features in his career.

But luckily for us film aficionados the other one was the frankly bonkers Secrets of Sex (AKA Bizarre, 1970).

But it's Horror Hospital, unloved for years by all but the chosen few that shows what a loss not just to the horror genre but to cinema in general that Anthony Balch's death (and laziness when it came to making films) was.

Secrets of Sex: She's got something to put in you.



The movie has everything, from dwarves to death dealing melted cheese men via the casting of soft core comedy king Askwith in the role of a hero, coming across for all the world like a proto-Bruce Campbell from The Evil Dead saga.

More famous for his comedy turns that his horror heroics Askwith is a revelation as the put upon Jason and it's a pity he only made three excursions into horror.

Tho' the fact that the other two were the brilliant Tower of Evil and Pete Walker's classic Flesh And Blood Show (both alongside the sublime Candace Glendenning) should be enough for anyones CV.

I mean it's three more than I've starred in. 

I like to think that in some bizarro other dimension the movie was such a huge hit that an entire series sprung up around the character of Jason as he travels the country (and Europe - stock footage permitting) uncovering various vile plots and mad doctors as he attempts to enjoy a well deserved holiday, each time his vacation is interrupted by more outlandish monsters and dishy dolly birds.

As horror fans we were robbed.

But at least we have Horror Hospital to allow us to imagine what could have been.

Running the gamut from bloody body horror to out and out comedy caper without even stopping for breath whilst wearing it's ever more surreal plot and smartly self aware performances like a bold and shiny badge of honour this is everything Nicolas Winding Refn has ever wanted to achieve.

And so much more beside.

Burroughs: more cock than your sister.



One of the greatest British horror movies ever made?

Definitely.

One of the greatest films ever made?

Most certainly.

And if you don’t believe me, try it for yourself.

You'll soon come round to Doctor Storm's way of thinking.