Meanwhile, 30 months later…

DVD sleeve for Someone's Watching Me!Oh, my daily postal delivery… how I’ve missed thee. With the Royal Mail strike, for the past week the familiar sound of mail hitting carpet has been, well, not quite so familiar. For now, though, there’s some respite, and my joy at receiving a package just 30 minutes ago is overwhelming. A padded envelope from could only mean one thing: a region 1 DVD of Someone’s Watching Me* was in my mitts at last.

Someone’s Watching Me is a 1978 TV movie written and directed by John Carpenter. It’s not one of his better-known films as it never made it to video, but its reputation is strong. It’s the penultimate piece in my Carpenter-directed DVD collection (only his 1979 Elvis biopic has yet to hit an official shiny disc), and I’m particularly pleased to get it since the bootleg I bought two and a half years ago is missing the ending.

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If I were a Carpenter: Rob Zombie’s Halloween

Poster for Halloween (2007)I’ve just seen the remake of Halloween, directed by Rob Zombie. I’m a big admirer of Zombie’s last film, The Devil’s Rejects – the chap clearly has talent – and I’m not adverse to the concept of horror remakes, but this one disappointed me.

John Carpenter’s 1978 original earned its reputation as a genre classic with an autumnal, Halloween-night atmosphere, a brooding sense of suspense and a handful of well-executed shocks. As with so many horror classics, the story’s simplicity worked in its favour.

Unfortunately, Zombie’s film replaces mood and tension with pace and blood – lots of blood – and his story is over-egged. What Carpenter spent five minutes on (Michael Myers as a child), Zombie spends 50. That’s literally half the film. Consequently, any chance of there being any suspense is, um, suspended.

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Buckling up for Death Proof

Poster for Death ProofI’ve just got back from the flicks, where I saw Death Proof, the new Quentin Tarantino movie. The film, an homage to ’70s exploitation cinema, was designed to play as part of a double bill with Robert Rodriguez’s Planet Terror – two movies within one three-hour epic called Grindhouse that came complete with trailers (directed by the likes of Eli Roth, Rob Zombie and Edgar Wright) for faux horror films such as Thanksgiving, Werewolf Women Of The SS and Don’t.

Unfortunately, when Grindhouse opened in the US earlier this year, it underperformed at the box office and the concept confused the hell out of some of the folk who did go to see it. In an attempt to ‘save’ the project, it was decided to split, extend and release the two features separately in other countries, thus tearing a decent idea to shreds.

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The Doctor will see you now…

Meeting Tom Baker at the London Fim & Comic Con 2007Terry Anderson, leader of the Olympic Ass-Kickin’ Team, has a great song on his 2001 album I’ll Drink To That called Stay Away From Your Heroes – a warning that they’ll let you down. He’s obviously never crossed the path of Mr Tom Baker.

As a child of the ’70s, I was in thrall to Tom during his years playing the lead in Doctor Who. In recent years, I’ve been enjoying his performances in the show all over again via the medium of DVD. When I learnt that he was to be a guest at this year’s London Film & Comic Con, I thought ‘yeah, why not?’.

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“Excuse me, can I borrow your intestines?”

Wearing zombie make-up at FrightFest 2007It’s not a question I overhear every day. An explanation? Aw, go on then…

This morning, despite it being a bank holiday, I leapt out of bed at 7am and dashed up to London’s Leicester Square to take part in a world record attempt: the biggest ever zombie gathering. The record’s currently held by the undead of – where else? – Pittsburgh, where on 29 October last year 894 zombies wailed their way around Monroeville Mall, a venue that needs no introduction to fans of the original Dawn Of The Dead.

The London event was organised by Frightfest and tied in to the promotion of new British indie movie The Zombie Diaries, which had its UK big-screen premiere at the Odeon straight afterwards. But more about that in a mo’.

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A reservation with Hostel Part II

Poster for Hostel Part II‘Twas Friday lunchtime: the first ever screening at my local Vue for Hostel Part II, Eli Roth’s follow-up to his original 2005 movie. There were just four of us in the cinema: three guys and a gal. Barely 10 minutes had elapsed when the gal walked out, never to return.

She’d survived an initial shot of on-screen viscera, but the second time she spied blood she was gone. I’m not quite sure what she was expecting from a sequel to a film in which a woman gets her eyeball gouged out (by her torturer – boo!) and snipped off (by her rescuer – hurrah!), but whatever it was I hope that next time she at least glances at the poster before she picks a movie to see. Carry On Camping this ain’t.

Even among horror fans, there’s been much hand-wringing over the recently coined ‘gorno’ sub-genre (basically, films depicting torture that don’t cut away before their, usually extremely violent, money shots). As one chap remarked on a message board after he’d seen Hostel Part II, he liked the film but felt rather uneasy about sharing a cinema with the kind of people who’d stump up cash to see terrified women strapped into chairs begging for their lives while gloating men set to work on them with power tools.

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Twelve inches of fun and a can of baked beans

Toy cyberman and a toy clockwork droid next to a tin of baked beansDespite promising myself that I’d resist the lure of 12-inch Doctor Who figures (my five-inch collection takes up enough room/money), I’ve succumbed. It’s difficult to say no when Argos stick certain figures in their sales, and over the last month or so I’ve acquired the two toys – er, I mean collectors’ items – pictured in glorious blur-o-vision on top of my freezer (the can of beans is just for scale – it’s not a prized artefact or nothin’, tasty-lookin’ though it is).

Mr Cyber Leader is currently selling for just one penny short of a fiver, while Monsieur Clockwork Man was procured a few weeks ago for just under nine quid. That’s a saving of almost 22 quid – or, in non-brainwashed-shopaholic speak, a spending of 14 and a glee factor of eight (two points have been deducted for small design niggles, such as the Clockwork Man’s hair sculpt and the Cyber Leader’s huge copyright stamp on his backside).

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Escape to the Planet Of The Apes: Memorabilia 2007

Meeting Linda Harrison at Memorabilia, March 2007I’m not one to lie in bed all day, but I reckon risin’ and shinin’ at 6.30am on Saturday is pretty courageous.

Yesterday’s heroic streak was inspired by a mini Planet Of The Apes fest-type convention thing at Memorabilia, the twice-yearly movie/TV/sport collectors’ fair held at the NEC in Birmingham. I had a 7.52am train to catch, to arrive at the venue around 11am.

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So I bought me this big ol’ pumpkin…

Halloween pumpkinPhew, that was touch and go. Is there a national pumpkin shortage? I usually see them in supermarkets a few weeks before Halloween, but this year they seem to have been scarce. I searched high and low yesterday afternoon for a medium-sized one. I ended up rummaging through a grotty-looking display in Sainsbury’s and buying a much larger model than I normally do (I had to give the cashier a hand to lift it). That baby’s gonna take some serious scooping out.

I like Halloween. I have good memories from childhood. I’d dress up as a demon and go trick-or-treating with the other kids from my street, in the days when no one thought it a dangerous thing to do. When I think back, I can still smell sweat on the back of a plastic mask, and taste the burnt marshmallows we’d toast over candles when we got home.

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Passion and wisdom on the Planet of the Apes

Simian Scrolls issue 12Say the word ‘fanzine’ to a lot of people and they probably think of a few sheets of A5 held together with attitude and, if you’re lucky, a couple of staples. Which is why I’m hesitant about describing Simian Scrolls as such.

For the uninitiated, Scrolls is an expertly tended, 44-page, A4 publication, put together by Planet Of The Apes fans for Planet Of The Apes fans, that you really need to see if you’ve anything more than a passing interest in this classic series of movies and the short-lived TV show. It’s clearly a labour of love for its editors and contributors – its articles, interviews and reviews have real thought and care poured into them, and its enthusiasm and passion for its subject is infectious. I started reading around issue four, and have watched it grow over the years into a magazine that Apes fandom can be proud of.

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