Thursday, March 31, 2016

Not a Rant

It's no good, nothing has annoyed me enough this week to trigger a rant.  So, I'll just have to busk it as far as this post is concerned.  In fact, nothing particularly exciting at all has happened this week.  Unless you count my fixing of the washing machine last night as exciting.  I say 'fixing', it was really just a matter of clearing a blockage from the filter, which had been causing dirty water to back up into the drum, leaving clothes filthier after a wash than they had been before.  The mystery is where the offending material causing the blockage originated from.  It turned out to be a large piece of foam rubber which, I first thought, had come from a bath mat which had partially disintegrated in the wash last Friday, but upon examining the offending mat, I found that it didn't contain any such material.  So where did it come from?  Another mystery for Arthur C Clarke, I think.  If he wasn't dead, that is - perhaps the Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe, of Fortean TV fame, would like to look into it instead?

Another perplexing question is whether the Crapchester Omnibus Company employs a single, spectacularly bad, bus driver, who I always seem to get stuck behind, or whether all of their drivers are shit?  I swear that bus drivers are getting worse around here.  Yesterday, for instance, I found myself behind a bus which had inexplicably strayed into some narrow country lanes and whose driver seemed determined to hog the road by driving smack bang in the middle of it.  Which meant that every time it met a vehicle coming the other way, everything ground to a halt as, inevitably, the bus driver wouldn't back up or pull over (despite there being ample room for them to do so), so the oncoming driver would have to find somewhere to back up into, to allow the bus to pass.  This isn't the first time this has happened, but quite why any bus is on those roads is a mystery - they are not part of any bus route and there certainly aren't any bus stops on them.  But that is one of the eternal mysteries of the Crapchester Omnibus Company - whether it actually has any fixed routes, as its buses keep turning up on the most remote of roads, apparently just trundling around aimlessly.

Changing track completely, I seem to be losing my sense of humour as I get older.  Either that, or other people are getting ever more infantile in their senses of humour.  How else can one explain the apparent popularity of Keith Lemon?  I mean, where's the joke?  I just don't get why the character is meant to be funny.  I've tried watching Celebrity Juice, but he only seems to have two 'jokes': calling Holly Willoughby 'Holly Willoboobies' (because she's got big knockers, which, as every schoolboy knows, are hilarious), and keep referring to Fearne Cotton as a man, (because she's actually a woman and calling her a man is, like, hilarious).  Otherwise, he's just an irritating twat.  Honestly, Lee Francis has created and played far wittier and funnier characters than this, but these days seems to want to be exclusively known as an unfunny knob end.  I can only assume it pays very well. 

But even less funny than Keith Lemon was that whole 'Boaty McBoatface' nonsense on Twitter - I failed to see why proposing to call a ship 'Boaty McBoatface' was funny.  Despite the media and the usual twitter twats lauding it as the height of wit, it wasn't.  Unless, of course, you find something a particularly dull fifth former would think funny is on a par with the witticisms of Oscar Wilde, that is.  Really, it's the sort of thing those sniggering 'lads' you find in pubs exchanging 'banter' would think clever.  Because, you know, it's a boat (except it isn't, it is a ship, there's a difference), so calling it 'Boaty' would be, like, hilarious, and calling it 'Boaty McBoatface' would be twice as hilarious because it has the word 'boat' in it twice.  Yeah.  Personally, I think that we should have a competition to find a new nickname for anyone who finds 'Boaty McBoatface' funny - my suggestion is 'Cunty McCuntface', which, I think, is worthy of the aforementioned Oscar Wilde in terms of wit.  In fact, I think I'm going to go and create a hashtag for it now...


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Imaginary Threats

I've no doubt that the Sun, Mail, Express et al will be demanding that security checks at Egyptian airports be upgraded after a passenger managed to board an internal flight with an imaginary bomb.  Using this non-existent device - apparently some kind of imaginary 'suicide belt' - the passenger was able to force the airliner's crew to fly to Cyprus.  So, just how could a passenger by pass all those stringent checks for firearms and explosives to smuggle such a potentially lethal imaginary non-explosive device aboard a flight?  After all, if one man can cause such mayhem with a single made up suicide belt, just think what chaos could have been caused if he'd walked into a crowded city centre imagining a dirty bomb!  It's a terrifying prospect and the authorities clearly need to crack down on these non-existent terror devices.  I mean, it isn't just this latest Egyptian hijacking, is it?  Belmarsh top security prison is full of Jihadist types who were found guilty at secret trials of plotting to do things with all sorts of explosives, guns and toxins that they didn't actually have, but the authorities imagined they might have been able to get hold of.

I know, I know - all those bleeding heart liberals have condemned this business of secret trials with the defendants not being able to hear the evidence against them, let alone what they are charged with, but if they are going to pose imaginary terror threats to the UK then imaginary justice is what they should expect.  But banging these bastards up isn't enough - we have to nip these imaginary terrorists and their make believe terror threats in the bud.  It's clearly the imagination bit which is the problem - they obviously all had their imaginations over-stimulated during childhood.  We need to deprive children of all forms of imaginative stimulation - ban books, TV, video games, the internet, crayons, from anyone under the age of eighteen.  Any child demonstrating imaginative tendencies should have them beaten out of them.  I know, it sounds cruel, but believe me, it's the only way we can be sure of being safe!

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Sweating it Out

After a second consecutive night of literally sweating whatever the viral infection which had been ailing me out of my system, I awoke on Good Friday feeling great.  The best, in fact, that I've felt in weeks, if not months.  It's clear that this thing had been afflicting me for the better part of the year.  Unfortunately, you never realise just how ill you've been, until you are well again with these long-term sicknesses - you start yo accept feeling crappy as normal and start to assume that's how you've always felt.  For me, the contrast between how I was on Thursday and how I was on Friday is striking: if, only twenty four hours earlier, you had told me that I'd feel well enough to spend a large part of Good Friday in the garden, attempting to sow a new lawn, I'd have said that you were mad.  But, by Friday, all of the aches and pains had vanished, along with the shivering uncontrollaby and general lack of energy.  Also gone were the blocked sinuses and serious nasal congestion problems which had been afflicting me since the New Year.  For months now, every physical exertion has left me feeling drained of energy, but now I feel full of energy: working in the garden of Friday, for instance, would previously have left me feeling tired for the rest of the weekend, but instead, I came in from the garden with energy to spare and have continued to feel energised.

Mind you, I have to say that I'm currently not holding out much hope for that lawn I was trying to get going.  I know it is only early days, but since I sowed the seeds in the sunny warmth of Friday, the garden has been inundated with torrential rain and bombarded by huge hailstones, (I swear that they were the size of boulders), before last night's gale force winds swept through it.  Still, at least it means that I haven't had to water it for the past few days.  But what else should we expect from an Easter Bank Holiday weekend, especially when it comes this early?  The past few days weather, along with the forecast for the rest of the week, has left me feeling glad that I didn't book any time off from work this Easter, as I usually would.  Instead, I've got a week off next month, with more to follow in May.  With my my newly returned health and energy, I'll hopefully be able to make the most of these.  For this last day of the long bank holiday weekend, however, I took it relatively easy and caught up with a bit of the TV I'd recorded from last week, when I felt too ill to watch it.  It's just as well I'd recorded them, as the TV networks appear to have made no effort whatsoever over Easter, in terms of programming:  neither today nor Friday did they seem to want to make any concession, schedule-wise, to the fact that both were public holidays.  Except Channel Five, which, as it seems to do every bank holiday weekend, showed Anzio again, on Good Friday.    


Friday, March 25, 2016

Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man (1976)

Celebrated Italian schlockmeister Ruggero Deodato's only entry in the Italian 'polizioteschi' genre (violent crime movies), Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man effectively takes this type of 'unconventional cop' movie to its logical conclusion, presenting its heroes as a pair of psychopaths.  Highly charismatic psychopaths, to be sure, psychopaths with badges ostensibly fighting the forces of crime and chaos - but psychopaths all the same. Deodata establishes the essential nature of his two protagonists, Fred and Tony, (or Alfredo and Antonio if you watch it in Italian) - played by Marc Porel and the great Ray Lovelock - in a spectacular opening sequence, in which they pursue two thugs on a motorcycle who have just mugged and seriously injured a woman on the streets of Rome.  Much in the manner of the Dirty Harry movies which undoubtedly inspired many 'polizioteschi' movies, Fred and Tony just happen to be the area, tooling around on Fred's motorcycle, when they witness the attack.  A protracted chase through the suburbs of Rome (apparently filmed without official permission) ensues, with Tony requisitioning a parked motorcycle to join Fred in weaving through, around and over the Rome traffic, before the thugs finally crash.  But these are cops who make no arrests: Fred coolly snaps the neck one injured thug, whilst Tony 'takes care' of the other.  This, combined with their total lack of concern for the original victim, (they never ask the uniformed cops about her, although after being dragged behind a motorcycle and smashing her head against the kerb, it's safe to assume she's dead), firmly establishes the pair's credentials as psychopaths.

The theme of their psychopathic nature is continually developed throughout the film which, like the Dirty Harry movies, contains several diversions from the main plot, in which Fred and Tony are required to resolve violent situation beyond the capabilities of the regular (non-psychopathic) cops.  It is these vignettes - a hostage situation where they show no regard for the safety of the victim and the foiling of an armed robbery by mowing down the robbers with silenced pistols in a crowded street, before they can even reach the bank -  which underline their true nature.  Toward the end of the film even their own boss notes that psychological tests have shown that they have 'criminal' personalities, and ponders why they became cops.  To which the answer should be obvious: so that they can kill people, employ extreme violence, treat women abominably and destroy property legally.  Their badges make their activities socially acceptable as their victims are only 'bad' people.  In which respect, Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is far more honest than US equivalents like Dirty Harry, Cobra or even the John Wayne vehicle McQ, all of which present their protagonists as somehow misunderstood good guys, who only violate citizens' rights in the name of justice.  Deodato, by contrast, makes clear that Fred and Tony enjoy what they do - that's their main motivation for being cops.

The main plot of the film, for what it's worth, involves them in trying to get the lowdown on the gangster Bibi, who is just as ruthless as they are, having cops gunned down and gouging out the eyes of underlings who have welched on debts, and has vanished from sight.  Tracking Bibi down gives the boys plenty of excuses for destroying his property, (they set fire to the expensive cars in the car park of one of his gambling clubs), beating information out of his underlings and 'interrogating' his younger sister, (who is presented as some kind of nymphomaniac who has sex with both of them - but only after Tony has slapped her so hard that her clothes fall off - no, really).  All of which probably makes it sound as if Live Like a Cop, Die Like a Man is a terrible movie, glorifying violence and misogyny.  Which it isn't.  It is actually a hugely entertaining film, (certainly much more fun than the third Dirty Harry movie released the same year, the overly message-laden The Enforcer).  It certainly doesn't seem to take itself too seriously and, as I've indicated, it has a subtext which appears to question the conventions of such violent 'rogue buddy cop' movies.  On a technical level, Deodato delivers a stylish, yet still somewhat gritty, movie, with lots of sequences shot in run down and less than glamourous locations in and around Rome.  It all moves at a fast pace, not allowing you too much time to ponder the logicalities of various plot developments, building up to a somewhat surprising climax.

Finally, if you are wondering, whilst many Italian actors adopted Anglicised versions of their names for their appearances in exploitation movies, Ray Lovelock is Ray Lovelock.  His father was a British soldier who settled in Italy after the war.  Lovelock also performs the song over the opening titles.  I told you he was great.


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Le Samourai (1967)

I've spent a large part of the past couple of days feeling very ill.  I was forced to drag myself from my sick bed today to attend a funeral.  After which, I returned home and went back to bed.  All-in-all, a really cheerful couple of days.  Although I'm feeling considerably better this evening, I'm still not up to posting anything substantial.  Instead, I thought that I'd present another 'Random Movie Trailer', this time of one of those French movies it now seems impossible to find either dubbed or English sub-titled versions of.

Le Samourai stands as one of director Jean-Pierre Melville's greatest thrillers - which is saying something when one considers his overall output, which includes the likes of Bob le Flambeur, Le Cercle Rouge and Un Flic.  It also feature Alain Delon in one of his most iconic roles, as Jef, the perfectionist hitman, who always has a meticulously arranged alibi and never leaves any clues behind when he carries out a hit.  Until, that is, a job goes wrong and he is seen by several witnesses, including the female pianist in the night club where the hit was carried out.  Jef now finds himself pursued by both the police and his underworld associates, who fear that if he is arrested, he'll talk and identify them.  Trying to evade both parties, he also becomes embroiled by the pianist, intrigued as to why she failed to positively ID him in a police line up, despite having clearly seen his face.

Le Samourai represents a near perfect encapsulation of many of Melville's recurring themes:outsiders who live by complex personal codes of honour and the fact that, no matter how hard they try, the characters can never escape their, apparently preordained, fates.  Efficiently shot from an economical script, which wastes no words, the film effectively racks up the tension, presenting a number of precisely orchestrated action and suspense set-pieces.  The character of Jef, all icy efficiency and a man of few words, perfectly suits Delon's image at this stage of his career, with his unnaturaly handsome, yet somehow cold, looks: a mask that rarely betrays any emotional response.  Yet still, he makes Jef highly charasmatic, eliciting the audience's sympathy.

The movie used be a regular fixture in BBC2's late night schedules, back in the days when they still showed foreign language films. Highly influential in popular culture (Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai and John Woo's The Killer, for instance, both draw inspiration from Melville's film) and really does deserve to be shown more on British TV.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Destruction Therapy

Having watched Washington DC get thoroughly trashed a couple of times in the past few weeks, (in White House Down and Olympus Has Fallen), I was left pondering whether this cinematic destruction of the US capital was somehow therapeutic for domestic audiences, in much the same way as Godzilla stomping on Tokyo in the 1950s was a way of post war  Japan dealing with the trauma of the use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Watching both films recently, I was fascinated by the way in which they presented as entertainment what had, until recently, been a taboo subject in the wake of the 9-11 attack, namely, the depiction of US cities under violent attack by terrorists, with the mass destruction of various historic landmarks.  So sensitive was this issue that, following September 11, I recall scheduled screenings of the 1976 King Kong being pulled by TV channels, lest his scaling of the now destroyed Twin Trade Towers cause offence to audiences.  Indeed, to the best of my recollection it was a couple of years before the film played again on UK TV.  I don't recall whether Independence Day, with its scenes of just about every major US city and landmark being totalled, suffered the same fate - perhaps destruction by aliens was less obviously terrorist-like than destruction by giant ape. 

To return to the point, are these films a a form of therapy for US audiences?  Does this playing out of a traumatic 'defeat' and the hands of terrorists in fictional form, but with an ending where the US 'wins', by vanquishing the bad guys and democracy remains intact, in spite of the destruction of many of its symbols (the Capitol Building dome, the White House, the Washington Memorial), somehow make it all easier to come to terms with?  Does it act as a surrogate victory over the forces of terror, reassuring audiences that, unlike the outcome of the actual 'war on terror' response to nine eleven, it is possible to triumph over terror?  At least one cinematic precedent come to mind - the Chuck Norris action potboiler Delta Force, which effectively restages the hijacking of TWA flight 847 in 1985, but with a happy ending where the US gets to comprehensively kick the ass of those Hezbollah bastards, rather than the actual outcome which only saw the hostages being released after the capitulation of various governments to some of the hijackers demands.  The movie was generally reviled upon on its release, dismissed as being a vulgar cash in on a tragedy.  The producers' mistake probably lay in releasing the film only a year or so after the real hijacking - there clearly has to be some kind of decent period of a few years between the actual events and films inspired on them to allow the public a period of 'mourning', after which they are able to accept their exploitation as entertainment.  (Of course, the failure of Delta Force might just be down to the fact that it was a crappy film, regardless of its release date).    

Inevitably, I was left wondering whether it is possible to identify any UK equivalent to these examples of cinematic therapy.  Arguably, recent Bond movies like Casino Royale and Skyfall address recent terror attacks and their fall out, with the London Underground sequences in the latter referencing the 7/7 attacks and 007's killing of a terrorist bomb maker in the former echoing the police shooting of an innocent Brazilian, having mistaken him for a suicide bomber.  But I suspect that the long conflict with the IRA, both in Northern Ireland and on the mainland, has made domestic terrorism too sensitive an issue to be fully exploited for entertainment/therapy yet.  Give it a few more years.  You have to go back to the fifties, and science fiction movies, I think, to find anything similar to the recent Hollywood phenomena  of cinematically recreating traumatic domestic destruction.  We did have our own giant radioactive monster movies, with the likes of Behemoth and Gorgo destroying London, Godzilla-style.  But the fact that the UK hadn't been subject to nuclear attack meant that they lacked the sub-text and impact of their Japanese equivalents.  Rather than nuclear bombs, these monsters, at best, represented the Luftwaffe's blitz and the later VI and V2 offensive.

It is in the BBC's Quatermass serials, and their film adaptations where we, perhaps, see a dramatic reworking of various war and post-war traumas, with London menaced by a scientifically created menace, (delivered by a V2-like rocket ship) in The Quatermass Experiment, and the whole fabric of British society threatened by an unseen foe which looks and sounds just like us, but behaves in an inhuman fashion, bending workers, bureaucracy and industry to its sinister ends, in Quatermass II.   The latter clearly exploited wartime fears of fifth columnist and Nazi sympathisers and post war communist infiltration scares, along with public worries of the increasingly dehanising effects of technology, whilst the third story Quatermas and the Pit, questioned the very basis of our humanity, suggesting that, with the right stimulus, anyone of us might be capable of committing Nazi/Stalinst type depravities against those we are told are 'different'.  Whilst, I admit, not exactly the same as the films I stared out discussing, these performed a similar function, recreating a version of recent traumas in the safety of a film or television studio, in order to 'defuse' them in the minds of audiences - like the US equivalents, the evil is always comprehensively defeated in a way it hadn't been in real life.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Saint Duncan Smith?

The post postponed from Friday because my battle with persistent malware, (which now seems to have been completely excised), will have to be postponed again, as I can't let the furore surrounding Iain Duncan Smith's resignation go unremarked.  I have to say that I can't recall such a display of utterly hypocritical and self serving bollocks as I've heard from Iain Duncan Smith in his attempts to recast himself as the virtuous champion of the poor, whose every attempt to protect the most vulnerable members of society were constantly frustrated by evil George Osborne.  Whilst I wouldn't disagree with him about Osborne's villainy, the fact is that Duncan Smith, during his six year tenure at the Department of Work Pensions (DWP), has been the architect of a series of measures which have slashed benefits and support to the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society.  He can complain all he likes that he was forced into these policies by the Treasury's demands for departmental spending cuts, but the way in which such cuts were implemented are entirely his responsibility.

Moreover, for those of us who recall the zealous way in which he slashed services and benefits as part of the government's 'austerity' programme, his sudden conversion to the cause of anti-austerity, condemning it as ideological rather an economic necessity, is quite extraordinary.  It really is a 'Road to Damascus' scale.  Really, if Duncan Smith has always felt this strongly about the plight of the poor and was so opposed to ideological austerity, why did he remain in cabinet for nearly six years?  He could have resigned at any time over that period.  So why now?  Well, that's obvious: as an anti-EU campaigner for the forthcoming referendum, Duncan Smith has timed his walk out to cause as much disruption and embarrassment for his pro-EU cabinet colleagues, including Cameron and Osborne, as possible.  He's clearly also got one eye on the future and a post-Cameron cabinet if the referendum doesn't go the PM's way - he knows that public opinion is finally beginning to turn against current economic policy and is trying disassociate himself with unpopular measures in the hope that, with his 'sins' washed clean, he can step back into cabinet at some future date.  As for his replacement at DWP, Stephen Crabbe, Cameron is apparently hoping that by appointing the product of a single parent family who grew up in social housing and relative poverty, the government can deflect Labour criticism that ministers are out of touch when it comes to the plight of ordinary people.  Which might be true, but it also makes him something worse: a class traitor.  A old fashioned jibe, but an apt one - if you grow up in poverty but end up a Tory, then you've clearly put personal ambition ahead of empathy.


Friday, March 18, 2016


I had great plans for this evening.  Amongst other things, I had this interesting post planned.  However, I've ended up wasting the evening attempting to get rid of a particularly nasty piece of malware.  It keeps inserting ads and pop-ups (which, if clicked on, will undoubtedly download yet more malware) into certain websites I visit - but only when I use a particular browser.  According to both my anti-virus software and my anti-malware package, its components have all been removed from this laptop.  Yet whenever I use that particular browser and visit those sites, it starts with the ads and pop-ups.  I've tried uninstalling and reinstalling the browser, to no avail,  Uninstalling it permanently seems to be the only solution. Which is a pity, as I liked the browser.  Now I'm back using the abominable Edge browser.

I wouldn't mind, but this stuff supposedly only infects your laptop when you inadvertently download it - I haven't downloaded anything onto this machine in weeks.  But wait - I seem to have found a solution.  By deleting my user profile for the browser in question - which had had been retained during the multiple uninstalls - then reinstalling the browser, I seem to have removed the problem.  It could well have been some temporary files, or cookies, or something which, for some reason, had been left untouched by the various anti-virus and anti-malware sweeps.  Jesus!  An entire evening wasted and that was all I had to do?  Why did none of the so-called 'experts' on the anti-virus forums I visited tell me to do this?  Well, it looks like if I'm to salvage something from this evening, I'm going to have to have a late night beer and schlock movie session - just as well it's Friday so I don't have to worry about getting up for work tomorrow.  Maybe I'll come back to that post I was planning for this evening tomorrow...  

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

They Always Go in Threes, or Fours

Paul Daniels, Cliff Michelmore and Frank Sinatra Jr - they're still going in threes.  Except, of course, if you include Sylvia Anderson, whose demise over the same period would make four.  I suppose that if you just confined it to UK TV personalities it would be three.  But that would mean leaving out Frank Sinatra Jr, famous for being Frank Sinatra Sr's son, playing himself on Family Guy a couple of times and writing one of the songs in 1965's Beach Girls and the Monster - who could forget that?  I must admit that in the case of Cliff Michelmore, I was surprised to learn that he had still been alive.  I could have sworn that he died years ago, but concluded that I must have been confusing him with his rival in the comb over stakes, Robert Robinson.  The latter, of course, presided over Ask The Family, in which two unbearably smug middle class families competed to answer pseudo-intellectual questions posed by the unbearably smug Robinson.  At least, he sounded smug, as did Michelmore, but I suspect tht had to do with the fact that came from a generation of BBC presenters who were trained to speak that way, with that air of slight superiority.  They came from an era when broadcasting chiefs thought that their audiences liked to be talked down to.

As for Paul Daniels, how we loved to mock his hair piece and much younger wife.  But the fact is that he was a pretty damn good magician and his show was must watch TV in its day.  Actually, to call him a 'magician' is a bit derogatory, he was, more accurately, an illusionist.  And he was right - latter day illusionists like David Blaine are pretty boring.  I mean, Blaine was good when he was doing his street magic, but his later shenanigans, like sitting in that box over the Thames, was just dull and didn't really qualify as illusions.  What can I say about Sylvia Anderson other than that to me she'll always be Lady Penelope from Thunderbirds. Actually, she was much more than just that on Thunderbirds and the various other Gerry Anderson series, being, with her then husband, a major creative force behind them.  I loved those series when I was a kid - I think it was all the explosions as those elaborate miniatures were blown to bits.  One day I'll have to make my own version - probably with the help of my great nieces, the younger of whom is considering a possible career in arson.

Of course, all of this gives the impression that only famous people have died this week - the reality is that far larger numbers of regular, but no less worthy, people have also passed away over the same period.  But they aren't considered as interesting by the media, so, generally speaking, don't get their obituaries printed in the papers.  They also don't go in threes (or fours). Although my mother would probably disagree with me on that point, citing many examples of friends and families who have turned up their toes in neat batches of three.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tuesday Rantings

In between suffering bouts of what Major Bloodnok used to refer to on the Goon Show as the 'old poona kruts, (three buckets full of 'em)', various things have set me ranting to myself and anyone else within earshot.  The first was the depressingly predictable and entirely manufactured 'outrage' over Top Gear filming car stunts 'near' the Cenotaph.  Apparently it is disrespectful to our war dead. At least, according to the usual retired Colonels and headline writers of the Sun, Express and Mail.  Do fuck off!  The Cenotaph is located smack bang in the middle of the street. Hordes of tourists walking down Whitehall pose for photos near it every day, buses, taxis and cars drive past it all the time, none of them acknowledging Britain's war dead or observing atwo minutes silence - surely that's just as disrespectful?  We really have to stop this fetishisation of the fallen of past wars, treating them and their memorials with the kind of reverence the ancient Egyptians reserved for the dead Pharoahs and their tombs, (which, incidentally, our ancestors happily ransacked - so much for respecting the dead, eh?).

This continued deification of the war dead only serves to continue the glorification of war, with its clear implication that there is something worthwhile and heroic about dying in battle.  In my experience, the only people who invest in the glorification of the fallen - through the guise of 'respecting' them - are people who have never actually fought in a conflict and seen the horrible realities of war.  Growing up, I had a lot of uncles, gear uncles, grandfathers and the like who had served in World War Two, seeing action, receiving medals and the like.  Actually talking about their experiences, let alone glorifying them, was the last thing they wanted to do.  Likewise, they mourned their friends who didn't survive, but didn't lionize them as fallen heroes, just ordinary people who were unlucky.  Unlike retired Colonels who have probably never fired a shot in anger, but have happily sent other people into combat, but like to bang on about how 'heroic' allthose boys they've sent to their deaths were.

The other thing which got me ranting was an overheard conversation in Sainsburys whilst I was shopping.  A mother was telling her daughter that she couldn't have some chocolate bar or other for her lunchbox, because chocolate wasn't allowed in school!   For fuck's sake, what sort of world are we living in when children can't eat chocolate in school? Really, have we become a nation of killjoys?  Now, this chocolate ban could be for supposed 'health' reasons, whereby the food Nazis decree that children must be forced to have only 'healthy' things in their lunch boxes, a concept I object to on principle.  It is an appalling restriction of children's freedom of individual choice: if they want to eat fatty foods and drink sugary drinks, that's up to them.  Besides, fads in what is and isn't 'healthy' to eat and drink seems to come and go on a weekly basis.  Not only that, but anything that twat Jamie Oliver champions can't be any good.  Alternatively, the chocolate ban could be down to one of those 'food allergies' which seem to proliferate these days.  I seem to recall that there was a school in Wales which banned chocolate because one student had a 'chocolate allergy' which was activated by the mere presence of chocolate, even in its unopened wrapper, anywhere on school premises.  Oh do fuck off!  I've never heard such bollocks in my entire life!  Stop trying to spoil children's fun with your made up attention seeking 'allergies'!  You can guarantee that some pushy middle class mother is behind this cobblers. Doubtless running around wailing 'Won't somebody think of the children' whilst demanding that Easter be cancelled unless chocolate eggs are replaced with painted hard boiled eggs, so as to ensure her child is protected, but every other child is ensured a miserable Easter.

That's the trouble these day:, middle class parents - they're so determined to make their children 'special' that they virtually insist that they have some kind of 'condition', be it dyslexia or made up allergies.  In my day, kids had real, potentially life threatening allergies and ailments, like allergic reactions to bee stings, or asthma.  And while I'm still in rant mode, what's with that bloody Admiral Insurance ad?  You know the one I mean: the new one with the female admiral.  It's not the fact that the admiral has had a sex change that I object to, it's the fact that she's got the wrong rank insignia.  For fuck's sake, in any navy in the world, three rings on the sleeve denote a commander - three full ranks below even the most junior admiral!  Even in the merchant navy, (where there is no such rank as admiral), three rings don't denote the most senior officer grade, instead signifying (if a deck officer) First Officer (or Chief Officer, Executive Officer or First Mate depending on the employing shipping line) - second in command to a ship's Captain. Thank God I've got that lot off of my chest!  I feel so much better!


Monday, March 14, 2016

Legend of the Witches (1970)

Watching Malcolm Leigh's Legend of the Witches one is frequently left wondering whether the film is intended as a serious documentary or designed to provide mondo-style titillation.  Indeed, on its initial release, the titillation angle was played up, with the film's distributors clearly trying to capture the 'dirty raincoat' demographic.  Certainly, the copious amount of nudity, both male and female, much of it full frontal, featured in the film's opening sequence of a novice supposedly being initiated into a coven, would seem to indicate that this is the target audience.  The film, however, quickly veers off into more serious territory, establishing witchcraft's origins in pagan belief systems, drawing parallels between the rituals of Christianity - the drinking of Christ's 'blood', for instance - with those of the 'old religion' before going on to chronicle the persecution suffered by those who practiced witchcraft.  Along the way we also visit a museum of witchcraft in Cornwall and introduced to some of the basic spells and rituals of witchcraft, (cue more nudity - those swinging sixties witches just couldn't keep their clothes on, it seems).  It concludes with a section linking the technology of club culture (strobe lights and the like0 with witchcraft rituals and shows how contemporary witches embrace such technology to achieve altered states of consciousness.

Whilst much of this is actually quite interesting and the individual sequences well photographed by Leigh (in glorious black and white), the problem is that it moves at a glacial pace.  In fact, it is slow to the extent that it actually feels longer than its relatively brief seventy two minute running time (it was apparently cut down from an original near ninety minute version).  The lack of pace isn't helped by the uncredited narrator's ponderous commentary, in which every point is made with deadly seriousness.  Ultimately, it is this lack of pace which prevents Legend of the Witches from succeeding as titillation.  Whilst it has all the elements one might expect from a mondo movie - staged for cameras local rituals, nudity in the guise of anthropological study, sensational accounts of torture and other depravities, a museum full of bizarre (and often sex-related) artefacts - it lacks the energy of its Italian cousins.  Luigi Scattini's contemporaneous Angeli Bianchi, Angeli Neri, for instance, covers much of the same ground, (including similarly staged naked witchcraft rituals filmed in the UK), but bounces from segment to segment at a much faster pace,  never lingering on any scenario long enough for the viewer to either become bored or question the veracity of what they seeing too closely.

Of course, the fact that the various witchcraft sequences have clearly been staged for the camera, (although I'm perfectly prepared to accept that the participants are a real coven and that they are re-enacting actual rituals), disqualifies it, in the eyes of many viewers, as serious documentary.   Ironically, such mondo-style tactics are nowadays seen as perfectly acceptable, with even wildlife documentaries admitting that they 'recreate' certain scenes for the benefit of the cameras, and have even spawned a whole TV genre of 'structured reality' shows, where 'real people' re-enact episodes from their lives for a multi-camera set up.  In the end, Legend of the Witches frustrates:  whilst watching it, one yearns for the film to make up its mind and be either a serious study of witchcraft in Britain, or be full on mondo sex and nudity pretending to be serious anthropological study. Either way, one yearns for it to speed up.

It's pretty easy for you to make up your own mind about Legend of the Witches as it is readily available on DVD and turns up on Talking Pictures TV every so often (usually in the early hours of the morning).  Last time I checked, there was even a version uploaded onto You Tube.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Anti Social Media?

I've undoubtedly given the impression, over the past couple of posts, that I detest everyone on Twitter.  Indeed, in addition to the right-wing douche bags masquerading as liberal lefties (until some other faux lefties are rude to them) and the pseudo anarchists who reject all hierarchies except those imposed by God, I could also highlight the unbearable middle class smart arses, (who also fancy themselves some kind of liberals).  Just the other day I saw one of the latter commenting on the recent failed attempt to relax Sunday trading regulations even further, airily dismissing critics of the proposed new laws by questioning why 'in this day and age' Sunday trading should be restricted.  'If you don't want to shop on a Sunday, don't', the little twerp concluded, apparently oblivious to the fact that this completely misses all of the main issues, particularly the rights and conditions of workers who could be forced to work on Sundays - if he knew his history, he'd know that we  workers fought a long hard battle to establish a five day working week for the majority and create 'the weekend'.  Then, of course, there are the social aspects - having a 'special' day once a week, when most people don't have to work and you can't spend all day shopping, creates a national shared experience - something very important when it comes to creating social ties.  I, for one, enjoy having a nice relaxed, slower paced day once a week.

But I digress.  You might well ask why I continue to use Twitter when it is so chock full of these obnoxious and ignorant turds.  But the fact is that there are still a lot of good people on Twitter.  Those I follow and the vast majority who follow me (sadly, you get no choice as to who follows you) are perfectly reasonable people.  I keep my quota of celebrities I follow to a bare minimum, so most of them are ordinary web users.  A fairly large proportion of them are fellow satire sites and their editors, contributors and owners, a lot of them being fellow Humorfeed members.   Thankfully, the majority of those I follow don't fill my time line with crackpot politics and borderline hate speak.  Instead, they, in the main, tweet and retweet stuff which, by and large, amuses and, sometimes, informs me.  Of course, it helps that I try and keep the number of people I follow manageable.  As I've noted before in these pages, it must be near impossible to follow a timeline which has hundreds, if not thousands, of people you are following tweeting.  Especially if they are prolific tweeters.  It must be utterly incoherent.  A cacophony of voices.  Believe me, there are times when it is difficult to keep up with only fifty or so voices you are following.  Hopefully I've managed to correct the impression I may have previously given that everyone on Twitter is either a twat or a reactionary hate monger.  Sure, some are, so you have to be selective about who you follow, (even then, some might unexpectedly turn into psychos).


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Pseudo Anarchists

Having slagged off both self-pitying satire site owners and the 'Social Justice Warriors' they claim drove them off the web last time around, I thought that I might as well take potshots at another of my online pet hates: self-styled 'anarchists'. Trust me, just because you 'don't like being told what to do', that doesn't make you an anarchist.  Neither does once having told a cop to 'fuck off' when they told you not to jay walk, nor does refusing to obey 'Stop' signs at road junctions.  That sort of stuff just makes you a knob end. Nonetheless, there are people on Twitter who genuinely seem to believe that behaving like a petulant teenager actually makes them some kind of political radical.  Now, I'm not going to go into a full blown explanation of what anarchy is, but suffice to say that it is a political philosophy advocating self governance by the people, based around voluntary state institutions.  (It also has a more negative aspect, in that failing states, where normal political institutions and subsequently law and order, have failed, are referred to as being a state of anarchy.  In most documented incidences of such failing states - Albania in 1997 or Somalia in the late nineties, for instance - the result was effectively mob rule, with criminal gangs and local war lords operating unchecked.  For the average citizen, it wasn't a positive experience). 

Anarchy in the political sense has many variations but, to keep it simple, we'll take it to mean the rejection of the state's authority over the individual and the legitimacy of institutionalised hierarchies.  Which doesn't necessarily mean that you couldn't be told what to do in a hypothetical anarchist society - a collectivist anarchistic community might decide to have laws based upon the consensus of its members.  So, if you disagree with a law and want to defy it, whilst the society might not use force to make you observe the law, your position would be untenable and the consensus would probably be to expel you.  Clearly then, simply not liking being told what to do doesn't qualify you as an anarchist. any more than giving the finger to any form of state authority does.  But that doesn't deter these would-be Twitter radicals, who spend all their time tweeting about how they are being oppressed by the state (usually because they've been given a speeding ticket).  Whilst this might seem mildly amusing, they also have a darker side, frequently using their devotion to 'anarchy' to justify all manner of hate speak, by claiming that anti-discrimination laws are a form of state oppression, stifling their right to free speech.  But I find one of the most perplexing aspects of some of these pseudo-anarchists, bearing in mind that a true anarchist rejects hierarchies, is their devotion to God.  That's right, in between telling us how they once spat on a cop car, they extol the glories of the Almighty.  And, let's face it, there can't be anything more hierarchical than the existence of a supreme being with dominion over all our lives, (and who, incidentally, tells us what to do via the teachings of Christ, Mohammed or whichever prophet you subscribe to).  Hmmm, anarchy, eh?  Not as I know it.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Right Wing Douche Bags

Sometimes I have this overwhelming urge to shout 'Shut the fuck up' at certain people.  Often these are people on social media.  Actually, these days it is always people on social media who provoke this reaction in me.  Time was that it was the TV which provided me with a seemingly endless parade of people to send my blood pressure soaring with their idiocies and pretensions.  In fact, there was a time when I quite enjoyed arguing with people on TV.  For a while it was a real Thursday night 'thing' for me to come home from the pub and argue with the pundits on BBC2's Late Review - especially Germaine Greer. Obviously, she never responded or argued back - such is the beauty of arguing with the TV: it is strictly a one way process.  You always win and nobody actually gets offended.  The trouble with social media is that people can do and say things which reveal them to be a prize arsehole and you do have the opportunity to actually hurl abuse at them, abuse which they will probably read.  Just lately I've had to refrain from hurling such abuse at a particular pillock on Twitter.

Increasingly, what I've been wanting to say is 'If you want to be a right-wing douche bag, just be a right-wing douche bag and stop trying to blame other people supposedly on the left for 'bullying' you into being one'.  Or words to that effect.  To elaborate on this scenario, the owner of another satire site, whom I followed on Twitter and who liked to come on as some kind of left/liberal progressive, over the past few months started denouncing other left/liberals who he identified as 'Social Justice Warriors', (middle class 'liberals' who latch on to causes because they are 'trendy').  Apparently they were worse than fascists with their moralising and suppression of differing view points.  Not surprisingly, he then started taking all sorts of flak from them in return.  His response? To pull his site offline and, after yet more vitriol directed at the 'Social Justice Warriors' and the left in general, interspersed with supporting right-wingers who had been 'oppressed' by Twitter, he pulled his Twitter feed too.  Except that every so often he briefly reactivates it to Tweet some new claim that he is being oppressed by the liberal fascists.  (Sadly, I've not been able to move fast enough to unfollow him when he does this - it's a peculiarity of Twitter that even when you deactivate an account, your list of followers remains intact).

It's not that I disagree with him about the trendy, 'right on' types who attach themselves to various left/liberal causes and affect outrage at anyone who disagrees with them or questions any aspect of their cause.  My problem is the way in which he has reacted, in particular his apparent eagerness to denounce the whole of the left for the antics of this minority, not to mention his cosying up to right-wingers who have also 'suffered' at the hands of the 'Social Justice Warriors'.  What did he think would happen when he spent so much time shooting his mouth off about them on Twitter?  Of course there was going to be an adverse reaction.  But to blame these idiots for taking his site offline and claiming that they 'forced' him off of social media is just pathetic.  Those were his decisions and his alone.  Look, if you aren't prepared to fight the ;Social Justice Warriors' then don't start a scrap with them. Personally, I just ignore them.  They thrive on any kind of publicity, so I deny it to them.  If I want to criticise them, I make sure I do it on my own platforms where I can control any attempts by them to respond.  I don't try and start slanging matches on social media where you can't control the conversation.  Moreover, I'm not going to abandon my political principles and use these clowns as an excuse to give succour to right wingers and become a douche bag myself.  These middle class amateur progressives aren't the left - they have no idea of the ideology or principles of the left.  They're just wankers.  Yet increasingly, I see various professional media 'left wingers' using them as an excuse to turn away from the left and become right-wing douche bags instead.  (I say 'become', but I'd question that they were ever truly left-wing).

Finally, on the issue of right-wingers who claim that 'liberal' social media like Twitter are suppressing them - tough shit.  The right have had it their own way with regard to the media for far too long, ensuring that their vile views take prominence.  If some of them are now getting a taste of their own medicine by finding that some social media outlets won't tolerate their more extreme bullshit, I have no sympathy.  It isn't 'political correctness gone mad', it is simply a matter of taste and decency.  They really need to learn to 'shut the fuck up'...

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Monday, March 07, 2016

Full Volume

I've been experimenting over the past few weeks to try and find which films are noisiest on my TV.  By and large, it seems to depend upon their age.  Which shouldn't really be surprising, as the sound recording systems used in film making have improved significantly over the years.  These experiments are a direct result of my adding a soundbar to my new(ish) TV - the one I was forced to buy last Autumn when its predecessor died on me without warning.  The sound produced by the speakers on flat screen TVs is notoriously bad: tinny and lacking depth.  Indeed, the sound on my current TV is even worse than on the previous, smaller, flat screen - with both vastly inferior to any of the old-style 'tubes' I previously watched.  At normal volumes dialogue is frequently inaudible and, with the volume turned up, it is marred by reverberations on the speakers.  Consequently, I bought a cheap soundbar.

I have to say that the soundbar has opened up a whole new world of sound to me: when set to 'movie' mode it does a pretty good job of reproducing the low bass rumble you get in cinemas.   In this mode it makes even most ordinary of TV programmes sound so, well, dramaticCasualty, for instance, now seems incredibly exciting, with every musical cue seeming to signal that something epic is about to happen.  Even the weather forecast now seems full of dramatic tension.  But back to the point - obviously 'movie' mode has a dramatic effect on any films I watch.  It is quite surprising the difference decent sound reproduction can make to a film viewed on TV - the first film I watched using the soundbar was a nineties science fiction potboiler called The Sender, starring Michael Madsen: with the enhanced sound this low budget direct-to-DVD b-movie suddenly sounded like a big budget blockbuster.  Since then, I've ascertained that post 1971 Bond movies are loud, and from the nineties on are very loud.  Of the Brosnan Bonds I've watched so far using the soundbar, Tomorrow Never Dies just edges out The World is Not Enough in the noise stakes.  As for the most recent Daniel Craig movies, so far I've only seen Quantam of Solace with the new sound set-up:  I actually had to turn down the volume quite significantly as I feared that my hearing might be damaged.

Of course, whilst the soundbar fills my living room with sound, I'm guessing that it is producing vibrations through the walls to my neighbours.  Which is fine by me, as they aren't exactly quiet themselves.  In fact, one of the best things about my enhanced TV sound system is that it completely drowns out any of the frequent and not inconsiderable rackets made by mt neighbours. Anyway, I really must watch Argento's Opera again using the soundbar - now, that really will be a fucking row...


Friday, March 04, 2016

Cleaning the Old Tory Queens

We should all clean for the Queen.  According to those bloody ads, at least.  It all has something to do with her ninetieth birthday, (for which we;'re not getting a national holiday), apparently.  My first reaction to the slogan was to question why Her Majesty can't afford to employ domestics herself, rather than attempting to recruit her subjects to act as cleaners at her palaces.  I mean, I know she's a pensioner, but she's not short of a bob or two, is she?  But then I was told that it all has to do with various right-wing politicians imploring us to get out there and pick up litter so that the country doesn't look so horrible and scruffy when the Queen does her ninetieth birthday walkabouts.  Actually, I have to admit that when I first saw those posters saying 'Clean for the Queen next photos of Michael Gove and Boris Johnson clutching mops and buckets, I did wonder if they were trying to tell us all something.

Mind you, if either of those two were to come out as gay, it would set the homosexuality back by decades.  We'd undoubtedly see a parade of openly gay men 'inning' themselves and declaring their heterosexuality.  But to return to the issue of 'Let's Clean for the Queen' - the literal Queen, rather than some hypothetical Tory queen - my reaction tends to be 'fuck off'.  After all, shouldn't Her Majesty be able to see what a filthy shit hole her realm has become, (in the unlikely event that any of her carefully orchestrated public appearances were to take her anywhere near the real world)?  Moreover, rather than urging ordinary citizens to clean up our public places for free, wouldn't the likes of Gove and Johnson be better advised to campaign against those cuts in public spending which have led to local authorities cutting the number of street cleaners they employ?  Surely that's one of the main reasons that our streets are becoming untidier in the first place? 

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Thursday, March 03, 2016

Guilt Trip

You know when you do something which, on balance, seems reasonable, yet you are left feeling bad about it?  Well, that's how I'm feeling right now - I have this lingering feeling that I've somehow been mean-spirited, even though, on a purely rational level, I know I haven't.  It all comes down to the fact that, yesterday, I declined to participate in one of the Office of National Statistics' (ONS) surveys.  To explain more fully, we have to go back nearly a fortnight, when, completely out of the blue, I received an unsolicited letter from the ONS, telling me that my household had been selected at 'random' to be part of a survey and that someone from the ONS would be calling to arrange a time to do the survey.  To be frank, it all came on like one of those scam letters telling you that you've 'won' some competition you never entered and that you just have to buy three hundred tins of a particular brand of soup and send off the labels in order to claim your prize.  Obviously, that immediately set my mind against co-operating.  Moreover, the whole assumption that I'd want to participate in the survey, (emphasised by the lack of any option for declining participation) really raised my hackles.  Plus, to be frank, I really can't be bothered with this sort of thing - it's an unwelcome intrusion into my personal time.

So, I just ignored it.  Nothing happened, so I assumed that my failure to ring any of the numbers given to arrange an appointment had been taken as an implicit refusal.  I was wrong.  A week later I received another letter from them, ominously threatening that someone would be calling at my address shortly.  This one at least included a return envelope an a form - not to decline the 'opportunity' to participate, but to arrange an appointment.  Undaunted, I simply wrote that I had no interest in participating in their survey on the form and put it in the post.  Too late, as it turned out: on Tuesday I came home to find a card shoved in my letter box telling me that their man had called and would call again.  Assuming that the letter would arrive before the follow up call, I ignored the card.  Next evening, as I fumbled in the dark with my keys, trying to unlock my front door as I came home from work, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, someone approaching me.  It was the man from the ONS. Preparing myself for attempts at persuasion, I told him I wasn't interested.  To my surprise, he meekly backed off.  For some reason, it was this reaction which made me feel guilty.  I mean, I was braced for some kind of attempt to persuade me to take part.  But no, nothing.  I'm sure I must have looked somewhat intimidating - I was wearing my winter coat and hat which make me look bulkier than I am and I know that I sounded exasperated - and the thought that I might have scared him off made me feel even worse.

The original letter had tried, and failed, to guilt trip me, which made my reaction to the ONS' capitulation even more surprising.  The letter had claimed that my address had been randomly selected from the post code database as part of the data set for the survey so, if I didn't participate, I couldn't be replaced and this might skew the results.  Which almost succeeded in causing a twinge of guilt, until, that is, a bit of research revealed that the exact same wording is used in letters sent out by just about every statistics agency in the English-speaking world when they are conducting surveys.  It's also, when you think about it, a highly questionable claim: surely any survey will take into account a certain percentage of non-respondents and adjust its results accordingly.  Besides, there is no reason why they can't replace you with another randomly selected address.  Except, of course, it isn't quite random as they admit that the data set is constructed using addresses selected from a variety of post code areas to produce a 'representative' sample of UK residents.  Which implies that they are already making assumptions about possible respondents on the basis of the post codes they live in. 

Despite all of this, the actual ONS guy's reaction still left me questioning my reasons for refusing to take part: was I just being bloody minded because I childishly thought that I was 'sticking it to the man' by refusing to co-operate with with a government survey?  Was I just irked by their assumption that I'd want to take part and, being a natural contrarian, refused just to show them that some of us won't dance to the establishment's tune?  I've thought long and hard about this, but I keep coming back to the fact that I simply don't want to participate.  It's a straightforward as that: there's no underlying agenda, no sense of triumphing over authority by being a refusnik.  I just don't have the time or the inclination right now to engage in this exercise.  I won't deny that if the ONS hadn't just contacted me without warning, coming on as if my co-operation was a fait accompli and had actually given the option of refusal on their initial letter, I might have been better disposed to them.  Likewise, if they hadn't persisted in trying to contact me, leaving me feeling harassed, I might have reacted differently.  But I doubt it.  Nonetheless, I'm still left feeling guilty about the whole business, despite knowing that I've done nothing wrong.   


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

An Island Double Bill

I finally achieved something of an ambition, exploitation movie-wise at least, last weekend, when I was able to watch Island of Terror and Night of the Big Heat back-to-back on a double bill.  Although, as far as I'm aware, they never played together during their cinema releases, they just feel as if they belong on the same bill.  Superficially, they have much in common: both produced by Tom Blakeley's Planet Films, both directed by Terence Fisher in between more prestigious assignments at Hammer Films, both featuring Peter Cushing and, most crucially, both involve remote island communities being menaced by monstrous external threats - man made, in one case, extraterrestrial in the other.  Seen back-to-back, however, they are revealed as being very different beasts.  Island of Terror is by far the more conventional monster movie, with its rampaging (if you can describe anything that moves as slowly as the film's Silicates as 'rampaging') creatures accidentally produced as a by-product of cancer research.  With its cast of stock stereotypes representing the islanders, (albeit they are played by some recognisable and very accomplished character actors including genuine Irishmen Eddie Byrne and the ever excellent Niaill McGinnis backed up by the likes of Sam Kydd sporting a faux Irish accent), the movie could easily have been made ten years earlier.  Indeed, it is somewhat surprising to find such a conventional monster flick being made as late as 1966.

That said, Island of Terror remains an enjoyable watch - Peter Cushing gives a particularly lively performance as the genial mainland pathologist brought in to investigate a series of killings in which all of the bones appear to have been sucked out of the victims.  He's also in genial mode in Night of the Big Heat, although here he is billed as a 'special guest star' and his character provides only a supporting role to leads Christopher Lee and Patrick Allen.  Adapted from the John Lymington novel of the same name, Night of the Big Heat, despite looking as if it had a bigger budget than Island of Terror, is far more static and talky, with much of the 'action' consisting of people discussing what's going on in the lounge bar of Allen's pub.  It never really exploits the story's central conceit of an unseasonable heatwave on the island being caused by aliens using radio waves to 'beam' themselves down and also create a suitably warm environment for themselves, as the spearhead of an invasion.  Unfortunately the aliens themselves - which produce sufficient heat to cause anyone in close proximity to them to spontaneously combust,- are poorly realised.  Instead of the book's spider-like creatures, the movie gives us what look like glowing giant fried egg yolks, which simply aren't menacing.  The film is further weakened by the use of the deus ex machina of a thunderstorm to defeat the aliens, rather than any of the efforts of the protagonists.   The film's biggest weakness lies in the fact that it spends far too much time focusing on a jealous romantic triangle involving Allen's writer, his wife and his secretary.  It serves no real purpose, detracting from the alien invasion plot, which, at times, feels as if it is of secondary importance.  Consequently, in contrast to Island of Terror, the film feels slow and talky.  Island might ave been old fashioned, even ib 1966, but at least it moves at a reasonable pace and never gets bogged down in too much talk, instead providing shock and action set pieces at regular intervals.

Still, despite Night of the Big Heat's shortcomings, the double bill made for an entertaining cold February Sunday afternoon. Both films show up regularly on digital TV (Island on the Horror Channel and Night on Talking Pictures TV), so, if you are interested, it shouldn't be difficult to record tham, as I did, and experience the double bill for yourself.