Thursday, August 17, 2023

rest in chat.

King of the talk show and star of Ghostwatch - Sir Michael Parkinson.

28 March 1935 - 16 August 2023



Monday, August 14, 2023


After The Shape of Things To Come I fancied another top quality sci-fi movie this week, unfortunately this is all I could find.

The Terrornauts (1967).

Dir: Montgomery Tully.

Cast: Simon Oates, Zena Marshall, Charles Hawtrey, Patricia Hayes, Stanley Meadows, Max Adrian, Richard Carpenter, Leonard Cracknell, André Maranne, Frank Forsyth and Robert Jewell.

They're houseproud, I'll say that for them. They're houseproud!

Welcome to Project Star Talk - a UK based radio telescope mission - that appears to have been designed by Mr Spoon from Button Moon - set up to search for radio signals from outer space.

Seems legit.

In charge of the project is the bri-nylon clad hunk o' love that is Dr Joe Burke (Doomwatch star Oates) who, whilst helping his "uncle" on an archaeological dig as a child, found a spooky cube that cause him to have strange dreams of alien worlds.

Seems even more legit.

Anyway it was this experience that drove him to create Project Star Talk, tho' I'm pretty sure he never mentioned that during the funding process.

The Famous Five re-union looked a wee bit grim.


Assisting him in the mission are the fruit obsessed electronics expert Ben Keller (Brit teevee and movie stalwart Meadows) and token lady Sandy Lund (Marshall who was in Dr No don't you know). 

Unfortunately in the 4 years since the project began they've achieved absolutely bugger all much to the chagrin of facility manager Dr Henry Shore (Adrian, star of such - actual classics as Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, The Music Lovers, The Boy Friend and The Devils as well as a top turn in Doctor Who), who gives them a (fairly high pitched) ultimatum - find aliens in the next 90 days or the project is finished.

Luckily they still have a few quid left in the kitty so Keller is sent out to Cash Converters to buy an old CB radio and some wires in the hope that when plugged into the massive Sigma IV aerial on the roof they might have a bit more luck reaching out to Uranus.



We had one of these bad boys on our roof in the 80s...surprised no planes hit it.

With all this extra cash getting spent - and not wanting it to turn into another SNP/camper van debacle, the grant board send an accountant, Mr Joshua Yellowlees (Carry On god Hawtrey) to check on everything they've purchased - as well as to give Cockernee char lady Mrs Jones (Comedy legend Hayes) someone to flirt with.

No, seriously.

And it's during one particularly saucy, innuendo laden late night encounter over the Battenberg  cake and crumpets that Burke and company finally receive the signal they've been waiting for - a repeating pattern coming from a fantastically complex robot-controlled space base (disguised as a colander with a few egg boxes attached) on small asteroid in the outer reaches of the solar system. 

Excitedly Burke sends a signal back and eagerly awaits a response.

Imagine their collective surprise then when the following night the reply comes, not in the form of a Close Encounters style PC start-up ditty but as a huge spaceship that lifts the entire building - and its occupants - into its hold and whisks them away to the asteroid, leading the telescope's staff to think that Burke's space shed has exploded killing everyone inside.

Even tho' they all saw the UFO out of the window.

Fake news indeed.

I wouldn't want one of them swimming up my arse....but then again...


Upon arrival on the asteroid, our heroes are greeted by a robot (that appears to be constructed from an upturned compost bin with a pair of garden shears, an outdoor clothes dryer and an egg whisk attached, expertly played by former Dalek operator Jewell) that sets a series of cunning - in a kind of proto-Adventure Game way* -  tests to discover if they are worthy of the task ahead. 

And what, pray, do these tests involve? I hear you ask.

Well first up they have to unlock a lunchbox full of cakes, then they have to decide how best to get thru a sliding door and which way round to hold a gun before deciding whether to shoot a scary alien, fuck it or feed it sandwiches.

No, really.

Let's hear it for that old favourite....."LAUGH NOW!"

Obviously our heroes quickly pass with flying colours (it is a short film) tho' there was some visible wavering regarding the pretty lipped alien monster - especially from Ben if I'm honest - and are rewarded for their endeavors with access to the space bases control room complete with a bright green skeleton wearing a wire festooned shower cap and an extensive library of 'knowledge cubes' which look exactly like the one found by Joe when he was a child.


Admit it, you would.


Grabbing an armful of the aforementioned cubes - and a couple clean shower caps (which it appears allows you to 'read' the boxes) -  the heroic band excitedly head back to the control room but on the way a very clumsy - or is it drunk? -  Ben accidentally knocks Sandy onto a small coffee table which causes her to disappear in a puff of smoke.

And a really choppy jump cut.

Yup, turns out the coffee table was in fact a hi-tech matter transmitter which has transported Sandy to a strange alien world very similar to the one from Joe's childhood dreams.

Unfortunately the planet is home to a violent tribe of wobble-breasted men in green facepaint, ill-fitting dresses and bald wigs intent on killing Sandy. 

I shall refrain from commenting for fear of reprisals.


"Put it in me!"


Luckily good ol' Joe figures out what's happened almost immediately and armed with the groovy space gun he was given earlier heads down to the planet for a wee bout of violent gun play and babe rescuing before returning to the space base for a wee kiss and a cuddle.

Fuck yeah.




Whilst all this action stuff has been going down Ben has been busy sorting out the cubes in order of colour (well it was either that or watch Mr Yellowlees and Mrs Jones get more and more suggestive as time goes on - ready for Joe (well he is the hero) to return and tell them what to do next.

And that is sit around like an utter tool wearing a childs swimming hat whilst attaching the wire on top to the side of one of the boxes in order to narrate the history of the alien planet below.

Seriously not even a disheveled Sandy can hide how fucking embarrassed they all look.

Even I felt sorry for them for a minute or so.

Well with only about 15 minutes of the scant runtime left it's time to get down to the rest of the plot good and proper with the terrifying reveal that the savage planet below is actually the home of the folk who built the space base and they've regressed to such a barbaric level due to the effects of a spooky space ray belonging to an alien invasion fleet.

A fleet that is now heading to Earth.

I made this.


And so begins a race against time - and taste - as our merry band frantically try to figure out which button (hint, it's the big red one) controls the space bases rockets in an attempt to destroy the incoming invasion fleet before it destroys Earth.... 




Based on the 'popular' 1960 sci-fi novel The Wailing Asteroid written by pulp novelist and inventor of the front projection special effects process (no, really) Murray Leinster, directed (in the loosest possible sense) by Montgomery Tully and produced by Milton Subotsky's Amicus films, The Terrornauts is an end of the pier, low/no-budget oddity that comes across like a community centre production of Quatermass ghostwritten by Rentaghost's Bob Block.

Yes, it's that good.

With upper lips stiffer than the cardboard sets, The Terrornauts is a terribly British tale of space ships and strange shit obviously influenced by Subotsky's earlier Doctor Who adaptations but with a budget closer to the original BBC source material rather than big screen versions that takes itself just seriously enough to cover the fact that most of the hi-tech sci-fi stuff has been hastily thrown together out of the canteen drawers and the fact that everything seems to be shot in either a spare bedroom or someones garden.

Tho' there's no excuse for the sub-Tony Hart gallery submission matte work on show, seriously it looks like a dogs stole some crayons, ate them then vomited.

"My name's Joe....Joe Skywalker!"

As for the cast, they do an admirable job with what they're given - which in Stanley Meadows case is they keys to the local greengrocers - Oates obviously used this as his audition piece for Doomwatch whilst Marshall is obviously thinking about how much money she'll make as a sewing pattern model**

But the films greatest performances are from the comedic powerhouses that are Charles Hawtrey and Patricia Hayes - Hawtrey's prissy accountant appears to have stumbled in from a late 70s Douglas Adams script-edited Doctor Who episode whilst Hayes (slightly) saucy tea lady provides the perfect foil not only to Hawtrey but to the rest of the cast too.

It's just a pity it's not her that gets to beam down to the alien planet to slaughter the bad guys.

Now that would be magnificent.

Seriously The Terrornauts is an under-rated classic. 

Even if the title makes fuck-all sense.





















*Ah be still my beating heart as I recall my childhood crush on the dungaree clad Gnoard played by Charmian Gradwell.




Sunday, August 6, 2023

beyond the pale.

Ended up rewatching this last night as Rollo had never seen it and remembered how surprised I was when I first reviewed it back in 2010 when one of the cast actually complimented me on the review, which makes a change from the usual death threats and general abuse I get these days.

Anyway checking back it appeared that only 4 people (him included) had ever read it so here, for your enjoyment I present - again....


HG Wells' The Shape of Things To Come (1979)
Dir: George McCowan
Cast: Jack Palance, Carol Lynley, Barry Morse, John Ireland, Nicholas Campbell, Mark Parr and Eddie Benton.

Beyond the earth...
Beyond the moon...
Beyond your wildest imagination!
and quite possibly beyond the pale.
But not The Beyond.


The time is the tomorrow after tomorrow (which makes it a Wednesday) and planet Earth is a devastated no-man's land, left irradiated after the infamous 'Robot Wars' .

Craig Charles has a lot to answer for.

Luckily for the future of mankind the survivors have all buggered off to the moon and set up what looks like a giant supermarket cum roller disco named New Washington.

Named after America's last president, the actor turned politician Denzel, whose quick thinking allowed humanity to flee the Earth to begin with, the city is run by an elite selection of tight jump-suited old men in thin socks and led by the doddery (yet still pert arsed) Senator Jeff Smedley (acting warhorse Ireland from everything you can think of from Salon Kitty to Waxwork II, obviously his ex-wife was being really demanding at this time) and the candyflosh haired Dr. John Caball ( introduction necessary).

Washington: post.

Not everything is all rosy in New Washington tho', the general populace are required to wear hellish 'high fashion' outfits that even the producers of Logan's Run turned down for being too seventies and the after effects of the cyborg conflict means that the survivors need to take a regular dose of the miracle drug Radish-Q-2 just to stop their sideburns dropping out.

This miracle drug is only produced on one planet in the galaxy, the barren(ish) Delta Three but unfortunately for cuddly Caball and co., the planets self proclaimed robot master, the mad as a lorry scientist named Edward James Omus (Palance, nuff said), has deposed Nikki Six (Lynley from The Poseidon Adventure and, um, loads of other stuff), the legitimate governor of Delta Three and taken over with the help of his terrifying army of moving compost bins.

Oh sorry, I mean hi-tech robots.

Obviously disguised as compost bins.

Beware! The bin men!

To prove that he means business, Omus crashes a robot controlled cargo ship into the New Washington branch of Aldi before announcing that forthwith all shipments of Radish-Q-2 will be suspended until he is proclaimed emperor of everything and given a big crown made of chocolate.

And the moon on a stick.

"Are you looking at my bra?"

In response these outrageous demands and acts of aggression Smedley decides the best course of action would be to do nothing and just hope that Omus gets bored or just changes his mind but massively manbreasted Dr. Caball demands an immediate (if not sooner) response.

You see, he's spent the last few years building a super sleek space attack ship (out of bits of left over model parts by the look of it) called The Star Streak and reckons this is just the right opportunity to blast off into space and get rid of some of his old man aggression by way of kicking Omus' arse.

After consulting the giant talking disco ball in his office however, Smedley (and the computer) says no.

How the Enterprise would look if constructed
by the guy that used to do Arrow's horror covers.

Without access to paint.

Being a grumpy old man slowly eaten away by sexual frustration and the fact that he now has to wear a bra, Caball ignores everyone and decides to go anyway, taking his drippy son Jason (latter day writer/director and son of Bruce, Campbell), Smedley's harsh faced daughter Kim (Benton AKA Anne-Marie Martin from teevee's Sledge Hammer and star of your Granddad's most erotic fantasies) and a upturned water cooler on castors and decked out in Christmas tree lights named Sparks (full time little person Parr).

Stealing Star Streak and blasting off for Delta Three our heroes remember that they've forgotten to fill her up with petrol so, slightly embarrassed they turn around and head back toward Earth in order to refuel at the planets last garage which is luckily run by an old drinking chum of Caball Snr.

I would say you couldn't make this shit up but obviously someone did.

No matter what I write I couldn't make
this look any shitter than it already does.

I hope the designer is proud of himself.

Landing in someone's garden Jason soon discovers that the garage is shut (due to the owner being dead in a cupboard) and that the local woods are over-run by irradiated children in ill fitting white wigs, left behind after the war.

Being a nice man tho' Jason tells all the kids to sit in a field and that he'll be back for them in a bit.

Phew! Glad the plot made that detour.

Meanwhile back on Delta Three Nikki and her band of, oh at least seven followers, obviously bored sitting about in the dirt like a bunch of late sixties counter-culture junkies, are planning to attack Omus and seize back control of the base and stuff.

So, armed with dustbin lids and washing poles the heady band take a secret route thru' a massive maze of underground caverns only to find the evil robot bins lying (well swaying) in wait and ready to strike out clumsily with their big plastic hands.

Niki being very little sneaks between the robots chunky rubber thighs and makes it inside Omus' fortress, sending a message to the moon for help.

A message that is intercepted by old man Caball and co. as they (very slowly) approach Delta Three.

Demanding they move up to 'faster than faster than light' speed before retiring to his room for a tearful wank and a Pot Noodle, John misses the after effects of travelling at such high speeds which include flashing disco lights, poverty row matte work and a variety of disturbing cum faces from the rest of the cast as they cartwheel round the set desperately trying to avoid knocking Sparks the robot over.

Even having to write about that scene has made a little piece of me die inside.

"I wonder what'll happen if I tug this knob?"

Finally arriving in one piece (but sweating more than Jeffrey Epstein on an oil rig) our heroes come across a couple of robot controlled freighters heading toward the moon, but having failed to fit The Star Streak with weaponry of any kind in which to blow them up, John decides that they should land and have a stern chat with Omus instead.

Cut to someone dropping a paper plate into a garden and it's away we go.

Trudging thru' the sandpit behind the directors house our merry band soon find Nikki and her followers hiding up a tree and, after a bit of uncomfortable hugging between the Baby Jane like Nikki and the saggy arsed John, the baddie robots turn up and escort the old fella to his audience with Omus.

Clambering back up the tree till they've gone, Jason formulates a cunning rescue plan involving going back thru' the same caves as before, knocking on Omus' door then running away giggling.

A rare behind the scenes shot of the
movies special effects team at work.

Whilst all this potty plotting is going on, Caball and Omus finally meet face to face (again).

Yup it turns out that John was once Omus' geography teacher, keeping him behind in detention for wrongly identifying France as Belgium and therefore starting him off on his road to dictatorship.

But Omus has his revenge planned to the tiniest detail.

A revenge that involves the man we've come to hate donning au upturned water cooler on his head whilst playing white noise loudly thru' his stereo radiogram causing poor old Barry Morse to feign a stroke.

Or is it his sex face?


Arriving just in time to find his fathers prone body covered in jam and slumped in a Lazy Boy chair, Jason vows violent revenge on Omus but way below in the caverns his evil army of robotic bins is on the move, determined to smash Nikki's mini rebellion whilst far away in space the bomb laden freighters edge ever closer to the moon.....

Kim prepares to try out the new
Anne Summers Golden Nobbler for size.

Like the idiot child you keep locked in the attic or the piss stained and bearded old Aunt you only see at Christmas, you can't help but admire the late, (wannabe) great George McCowan's lo-fi, sci-fi shlockfest for it's blatant brass necked, steel balled arrogance.

Taking it's title from the classic HG Wells novel, it's plot from the back of a fag packet and it's effects from the local thrift store, McCowan has fashioned what should be a ratty, tatty fag end of a movie into a highly entertaining (but still ratty, tatty and fag ended) piece of cinematic cheese worthy of a wider fan following than it currently has.

Chock full of badly fitted polyester jumpsuits, the largest bunch of non acting, non entities this side of River City and an army of killer robots obviously fashioned by a wooden handed blind child from the contents of his Dads shed, The Shape Of Things To Come positively revels in it's tawdriness, almost as if the people involved haven't realised how arse numbingly bad the entire production is.

Yes, it's like they honestly believe that they're making something that will rival 2001 in the intellectual stakes.

And for that you really have to admire their commitment.

If not worry about their collective sanity.

Frankly you can't call yourself a true film fan unless you own this.

Especially if it's on VHS.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

rest in peace pee-wee.

 Paul Reubens  

27 August 1952 - 30 July 2023