Category: Featured

When sleep attacks! How nocturnal hallucinations helped me bust some ghosts

Darren having a snooze, Portsmouth, 1995A few nights ago, not long after going to bed, I opened my eyes to see a man in a gorilla suit standing by my wardrobe.

I’ve had a fair few strange nocturnal experiences, going right back to childhood. I remember, as a toddler, suddenly being woken up by a rooster on the inside of my windowsill. It wasn’t there, of course – I lived on a suburban street and none of the neighbours kept chickens – but I saw and heard it very clearly. Then there was the time – I guess I must have been five or six years old – that I shut my eyes in pitch darkness, only to open them a few seconds later to find my room bathed in daylight. Thoroughly confused, I got out of bed, found my mum and asked her: “Is it morning?” She laughed. Of course it was morning. “I haven’t been to sleep,” I said. “I’ve only just got into bed.”

Straight on till Hackney: Shane Briant and friends

Shane Briant autograph“You are invited to attend a day in celebration of Shane Briant.”  So ran the (A5, stiff and rather good-looking) ticket that I received in the post back in May, after despatching a £30 cheque to Donald Fearney. A newbie to Mr Fearney’s legendary Hammer-themed get-togethers, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that the opportunity to meet Shane Briant – for the actor would be in attendance at this celebration – wasn’t one I should pass up.

The venue was to be the Cine Lumiere in Kensington, where Briant’s final film for Hammer, Frankenstein And The Monster From Hell, would also be screened.  However, a couple of months before the big day, some behind-the-scenes kerfuffle led to the event having to be relocated and the screening scrapped. Hence, last Saturday morning, I made my way up to Hackney to visit a church hall called the Round Chapel.

Konga: A definite grower

Poster for KongaIs that the time? I’d better have another rummage around the giant-ape genre, I think. Today, I’m taking a look at Konga (1961), starring Michael Gough, who died in March aged 94. As always with these in-depth reviews, beware: there are heavy spoilers ahead, including the film’s ending.

A light aircraft crashes in a Ugandan jungle, igniting in a ball of flame. It’s feared that its famous occupant, English botanist Doctor Charles Decker (Michael Gough), was killed in the explosion along with the pilot. One year later, however, a very-much-alive Decker returns to London, explaining that he’d managed to bail out of the plane before the crash, and had spent the past 12 months living with a native tribe while conducting experiments on insectivorous plants. His groundbreaking findings, he claims, will establish a close link between plant and animal life.

A*P*E: An invitation to ‘sit on it’ – in 3D

Poster for A*P*EContinuing my in-depth look at various giant-ape movies, which began last month with Yeti – The Giant Of The 20th Century, I’m now going to take a peek through my fingers at A*P*E, another mid-1970s production that seemingly hoped to ride the slipstream of the first King Kong remake. Before I begin, though, be warned: hulking great spoilers lie ahead. If this doesn’t bother you, then let’s head straight back to 1976.

A captured giant gorilla is being transported by sea to Disneyland when it shakes off its sedation and escapes, blowing up the ship in the process. After tussling with and killing an oversized shark, the ape dries off on the coast of South Korea, where, in the excitement of its freedom, it destroys buildings, igniting both flames and panic and accidentally alerting the Korean and US militaries to its presence.

The Sea Devils: Return to Whitecliff Bay

Sea Devil from Doctor Who: The Sea DevilsOne of the pleasures of holidaying in the UK is watching fellow tourists wander around in shorts and T-shirts as they try to convince themselves that the sun has got its hat on, instead of its pack-a-mac.

Another is having, and taking, the opportunity to visit any nearby Doctor Who filming locations – those real-life places that, through their long-term recognisability, act a bit like standing sets. Hence, while enjoying the gentle, picturesque joys of the Isle of Wight recently, I was drawn to Whitecliff Bay, a secluded, sandy beach near Bembridge.