1st December 2010
spite of an excellent marketing campaign, and some very nice posters, I
wasn't sufficiently motivated to catch Splice at the cinema. It
seemed like a film more suited to viewing at home, and that, indeed, has
turned out to be the case.
Splice is a Frankenstein story
that's been given a contemporary update, with much talk of genetic
manipulation, and creating "state-of-the-art animal organisms".
stars, as luck would have it, two actors who look like they might have
been the result of a genetic experiment gone slightly awry: Dawn of
the Dead's Sarah Polley and The Village's Adrien Brody. They
play, with some degree of credibility, a pair of brilliant young
scientists who, at the beginning of the film, have successfully blended
DNA from various creatures to create a pair of grotesque maggoty-looking
blobs. (Incidentally, the scientists are named Clive and Elsa,
presumably after Bride of Frankenstein stars Colin Clive and Elsa
Of course, there'd be no film if that was
the sum of their achievements, so they take their work further, and give
life to something more advanced. Something more human. If you've seen
the trailer for the film (which spoils a lot of the often-excellent
creature effects work), you'll know that their next creation grows
rapidly, quickly adapting to it's environment, and coming to resent it's
'parents', like any bratty teenager.
It's a rather thin tale, very reminiscent
of the sort of story that the 90s version of the anthology series The
Outer Limits excelled at, and quite similar to the first film in the
Species series. It also, no doubt, owes a good deal to Cronenberg
films like The Fly and Dead Ringers. Not a bad pedigree.
CGI imagery has given the film much better
effects than might have been possible a few years ago. It's often
superbly realised, and there are times when you wonder just how much was
done in the digital realm, and how much was prosthetic make-up effects
(surprisingly, there was a lot more of the latter than I expected,
judging by the behind the scenes material on the disc). There are some
moments that are genuinely creepy (especially the scenes of the creature
when it is the equivalent size of a young child). Equally, though, the
creature's rapid growth and evolution are somewhat overplayed, and it
soon requires quite a suspension of disbelief. The story embraces the
more outré elements suggested by the premise, which probably raised a
few nervous giggles, but eventually becomes rather routine. It ends with
a scene that follows genre conventions so rigidly that it's actually
disappointing that they chose to include it. I'm surprised they resisted
the temptation to have it play out after the end credits.
The film was directed, with some panache,
by Vincenzo Natali, whose work I've followed and enjoyed since he made
Cube, in 1997. Splice also features Natali regular David
Hewlett (now probably best known as Dr McKay in Stargate: Atlantis).
Op[timum's Splice Blu-ray offers a
very nice-looking transfer, which nicely conveys the film's various
settings, most notably the clinical blue hues of the laboratories. There
is at least one on-screen caption in the film, and this is presented, as
it should be, burnt-into the film, not as something generated by the
player. The disc offers two sound mixes: a variable bitrate
multi-channel DTS HD Master track, and a two-channel mix in LPCM (at
2304kbps). Both are impressive, but not outstanding.
The disc's bonus features are presented in
HD, but seem to have been upscaled from standard definition sources (and
probably transferred from NTSC masters, to boot). Picture quality is
generally mediocre, but the content is worthwhile, offering more than an
hour and a half of revealing behind-the-scenes footage and interviews.
Since this was a French / Canadian production, some of the interviews
are in French, with horrible burnt-in English subtitles. This isn't how
HD - or even, as in this case, pseudo-HD - content should be presented.
Optimum should have used a textless version, and added proper 1080i
subtitles. A two-minute trailer is also offered, and this is in proper
HD. The disc offers a 'Play All' option for the bonus materials. The
disc menus are smart, and easily navigated.
To mark Splice's recent release on
Blu-ray / DVD, I have added a 1998 interview with director Vincenzo
Natali to the end of our review of the Cube DVDs, which you can
26th November 2010
new book about the work of the BBC's Visual Effects Department, VFX, nicely fills a sizeable gap in any collection of books about the special
There are numerous heavyweight books on the
work of Hollywood megaliths like ILM and Digital Domain, and an array of
works detailing state-of-the-art digital extravaganzas, but very few
books have looked at effects for television, where, traditionally, modest budgets have demanded more ingenuity.
The new book covers the period between 1954
(when the department emerged from within the Scenic Design division as a
unit in its own right) and 2003 (when it finally wound down due to the
ghastly "internal market" working practices introduced by John Birt
during the nineties). It's a portfolio of the Department's finest work,
for shows as diverse as Silent Witness and Rentaghost, or
Doctor Who and Vanity Fair.
VFX - The Story of the BBC's Visual
Effects Department (Aurum, ISBN: 978-1-84513-556-0) is a
lavishly-illustrated 240-page coffee table book, written by two
long-serving members of the Department's staff: 70s veteran Mat Irvine,
and relative new boy Mike Tucker (who joined in 1985): both highly-respected craftsmen in
The book begins with a very interesting
thirty-odd page history of the Department, the people that worked there,
and some of the common techniques which they helped pioneer. Here the
text is quite dense, and some of the photo's are frustratingly small.
Rather than adopt a chronological approach,
the rest of the book is divided into about fifty chapters, much lighter
on text, with larger images, each focussing on a particular programme
(or, in some cases, a particular type of programme - Christabel and
Other War-Time Dramas, for example). Most chapters are two, four or six
pages long, with some especially prestigious or noteworthy productions,
like Edge of Darkness, given eight pages apiece.
Classic era Doctor Who (which,
unsurprisingly, has already been the subject of a similar book, by one
of VFX's authors), is allocated ten pages. Eight pages are
devoted to the show's '2005' revival (concentrating on the new Daleks, resurrecting K9,
and building Aliens of London's replica of 'Big Ben' [sic]).
Blake's 7 and Red Dwarf, SF shows with a similarly loyal
following, are also allocated eight pages each, which may not seem a
lot, but this is well-trodden ground. Devotees of those particular
shows are, frankly, unlikely to discover much that's new here.
This disciplined approach allows relatively
obscure series like Rentaghost (and even very, very obscure
productions like 1984 documentary The Comet is Coming) to have
their moment in the spotlight. Science fiction fans are generally
well-catered for, with chapters on ground-breaking series like Star
Cops, Moonbase 3 and the Quatermass serials. Treasured
literary adaptations like Nineteen Eighty-Four, Five Children
and It, The Hitch-hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, The Day of the
Triffids and The Chronicles of Narnia are also heavily
featured (although not, oddly, The Box of Delights or
Pinocchio). Some of these have been covered to some significant
degree elsewhere (in the pages of TV Zone or Starburst,
for example), but others, like the 1985 version of Alice in
Wonderland, the 1982 adaptation Gulliver in Lilliput, and the
superb 1984 serialisation of Wells' The Invisible Man - all
produced by the late Barry Letts - have been sorely neglected, and their
inclusion here offers little treasure troves of rare stills and
Other genres are well-represented, too,
with chapters on comedy series like Dave Allen at Large,
Ripping Yarns and Dad's Army, and drama productions like
Casualty and Eastenders.
The book doesn't contain a great deal of
specific information on how particular effects were achieved, and it
doesn't recount how the art of visual effects developed over the
decades. In fact, if anything, it demonstrates how little things
changed, as the Department stuck to the four areas that defined its
trade: floor effects (explosions and weather effects), special props
(objects that 'do' things), special sculpture and animatronics (making
things), and models and miniatures (making small versions of big
One aspect of the book adds a slightly sour
note. The chapters are presented alphabetically, but some nit-wit
decided that all the productions with titles beginning with the definite
article (The Goodies, The Borgias, etc) should all be
grouped together under "T". Thankfully the book's format allows for such
a nonsensical presentation, and, ease of reference aside, the book
doesn't suffer because of it. The book's index, sensibly, includes
entries for both.
Highlights of the book, for me, include two
great photographs of Blake's 7's Liberator (arguably the
Department's single greatest creation); work-in-progress photo's of the
2005 Daleks which reveal that at one point they had a 60s-style paint
job; a spacesuit design for Moonbase 3; a gallery of shots that
show how a Triumph Herald was turned into an impressive Adam West-style Batmobile for Rentaghost; and original design sketches for The
VFX is, and is likely to remain, the
definitive work about television special effects during its golden age
of creativity and inventiveness. It's wholly accessible to those without
an in-depth knowledge of the industry, and yet should also satisfy
anyone who has a long-standing interest in the Corporation's rich
£30 is a lot to ask for any book, even one
as sumptuous as VFX, but it's available at significant discount
online, and at those sort of prices - half-price! - it's more than
Amazon, for example, currently has the book for £15.69, and
Play.com has it for £22.99.
15th November 2010
Author Nev Fountain and actress Nicola
Bryant (Peri in Doctor Who) will be signing copies of Fountain's
Mervyn Stone Mysteries novels Geek Tragedy, DVD Extras Include
Murder and Cursed Among Sequels at the Forbidden Planet
Megastore (179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR) on Tuesday the 25th
of November between 1 and 2pm.
9th November 2010
not often a Doctor Who book is published that blows away decades
of rumours, half-truths and downright lies, but Richard Molesworth's
remarkable Wiped! - Doctor Who's Missing Episodes (Telos,
ISBN 978-1-84583-037-3) does just that.
Frankly, an awful lot of cobblers has
been written about how the BBC 'lost' (destroyed) hundreds of episodes
of Doctor Who made during the show's first decade on the air,
proving the old adage that in the absence of facts, disinformation
The basic facts are well-known, even
outside the archive TV / Doctor Who nerd communities. The BBC
(and other broadcaster) routinely destroyed programmes a few years
(sometimes only weeks) after they were made. Storage space was at a
premium, and if a programme wasn't likely to be sold overseas, or
quickly repeated, it would most probably be junked. When videotape began
taking over from film as the storage medium du jour, it's re-usability
meant that it remained a valuable commodity, regardless of what was
recorded on it. Only the most prestigious productions were spared.
It may seem insane now, but there was a
time when the prevailing attitude was that it wasn't worth keeping
episodes of, say, Dad's Army, or Till Death Us Do Part.
Drama fans may, understandably, regret losing early plays by
groundbreaking playwrights like Dennis Potter and Dennis Frayn; music
buffs are probably dismayed about the loss of the episode of Juke Box
Jury featuring the Beatles; but nothing is as sorely missed as
one-hundred-and-eight episodes of the BBC's most popular science fiction
Over the years, the show's missing
episodes - and the often-Herculean efforts made to find them - have been
a subject of intense interest to Doctor Who enthusiasts.
Virtually every scrap of information that's entered the public domain
has been endlessly picked over, exaggerated, and, eventually
mythologized. Now, we discover, much of it wasn't even true in the first
Numerous hoary old stories are laid to
rest in Molesworth's book, which is the first fully-researched work on
The book's focus is on Doctor Who,
but it also tells a broader story, which is just as applicable to the
hundreds - thousands - of other programmes that the BBC scrapped.
Recovered Doctor Who finds are the most eagerly-sought: their
return guarantees that they will be commercially exploited with on DVD,
or even broadcast. This is a situation envied by archive TV enthusiasts.
Recovered material from other shows is often unheralded, and the
programmes quietly return to the vaults, often never to see the light of
Molesworth's book offers a dispassionate
perspective on the processes that have deprived us of so many delights,
and wisely so. Fans have often singled out individuals to shoulder the
blame, but, as the author points out, this was cultural vandalism on a
corporate scale: there are no easy scapegoats. At the time, creaky old
TV shows, usually in black-and-white, and made virtually unrepeatable by
union restrictions, were deemed to be of little more value than the
undisturbed, ten year-old contents of an office filing cabinet.
The book describes in great detail the
working practices of the corporation and its archives during the sixties
and seventies. The book's about programme sales; about how copies of the
episodes were made, and distributed all over the globe; and, crucially,
about what happened to them when they were no longer required. It's
memos, and tables, and technical processes, and lists - lots of lists.
This isn't a book for anyone who's just vaguely-interested. It's nearly
five-hundred pages long, and, aside from the rather striking cover
still, there are no pictures. There's no escaping the fact that the
minutiae is the story.
Although it's tone is neutral, the book
is likely to stir the emotions. For some it will be fury at the BBC's
short-sightedness. For others it will be sadness, for the gems have been
lost to the ether. Some will find within its pages stories of hope of
optimism. For many fans there'll be sadness, as it slowly dawns how
unlikely it is that any more Doctor Who episodes will surface
(the last one to turn up was seven years ago, the one before that was in
1999 - as time creeps on, the chances of recovering another dwindle).
All fans of the series classic era must
get hold of a copy of this book, if only so they can dip into it to
check the odd fact. For many fans, it will be in almost constant use, so
it's a shame that a more robust edition isn't available. Perhaps when
the inevitable tweaks and tiny corrections are made to this edition -
or, wonder of wonders, something new turns up - Telos will reconsider,
and publish a hardback version.
Wiped! has blown away the cobwebs
of time, and shines light into dark corners. Simply put, it's re-written
Doctor Who history.
4th November 2010
Here are details of Kaleidoscope's
Christmas archive TV event...
We are pleased to announce details of our
Christmas event and Grand
Charity Auction, in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.
Saturday 27th November 2010, 12:00 - 7:00
Function Suite, The Talbot Hotel, High
Street, Stourbridge, West Midlands DY8 1DW, UK
* 12:00 pm Southern Television start-up -
the station opener for New
Year's Eve 1981.
* 12:05 pm Family Fortunes - "Give Us a
Clue v It Ain't Half Hot Mum".
Festive celebrity edition of the long running gameshow hosted by Bob
Monkhouse, featuring Michael Aspel, Lionel Blair, Una Stubbs, Roy
Kinnear, Anna Dawson, Windsor Davies, Melvyn Hayes, Donald Hewlett, John
Clegg and Michael Knowles (TX: 26/12/1981).
* 12:45 pm The Two Wise Virgins of Hove - A
vintage Anglia play
especially for Christmas starring Margaret Rutherford as a woman who has
a vision which sends her on a journey of discovery that changes her life
forever (405-line conversion, TX: 22/12/1960).
* 1:35 pm Jackanory - "The Studio Ghost".
The much loved storytelling
series for children brightened many a Christmas in years gone by. Here,
Christopher Biggins tells the story and William Rushton features at the
* 2:00 pm Break
* 2:15 pm Kaleidoscope Grand Charity
Auction 2010 - a selection of
items donated by our guests, supporters and attendees throughout the
year are up for grabs in our annual charity auction, with all proceeds
going to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Please note we will be
accepting bids in person only.
* 3:15 pm Break
* 3:55 pm Christmas Oneupmanship - adapted
by Barry Took from a series
of spoof self-help books by Stephen Potter, Richard Briers, Peter Jones
and Frederick Jaeger star in this comedy from Christmas 1974 (TX:
* 4:25 pm In Memoriam 2010. Kaleidoscope's
own special tribute to
those from the television industry who have passed away during 2010.
* 4:35 pm Cinderella - The Shoe Must Go On
- Christmas wouldn't be
Christmas without the fun of a pantomime and here the story of
Cinderella is brought to life by an exceptional all-star cast including
Danny La Rue, Brian Murphy, Faith Brown, Cheryl Baker, Basil Brush, Roy
Hudd, Mike Reid, Roy Kinnear, Les Dennis, Caroline Munro, William
Rushton, Bob Carolgees, Shaw Taylor and Jim Bowen! Written by Barry
Cryer and Dick Vosburgh (TX: 25/12/1986).
* 6:10 pm Top of the Pops - The edition
from Christmas Eve 1981
featuring Wizzard - "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday", Adam & The
Ants - "Ant Rap", Elvis Costello - "Sweet Dreams", Bucks Fizz - "The
Land Of Make Believe", Kool & The Gang - "Get Down On It", ABBA - "One
Of Us", Altered Images - "I Could Be Happy", Dollar - "Mirror Mirror"
and The Human League - "Don't You Want Me" (TX: 24/12/1981).
* 6:45 pm The Wombles play us out as usual
(TX: 24/12/1974), followed
by Closedown - a BBC1 end of evening animation from from Christmas Day
KALEIDOSCOPE GRAND CHARITY AUCTION 2010
In Support of the Royal National Lifeboat
Details To Be Announced
All material at Kaleidoscope events is
screened with the permission of
the copyright holders. Programmes and timings may be subject to change
before the day.
In 2010, Kaleidoscope is supporting the
Royal National Lifeboat
Institution once again.
The Talbot Hotel is offering a special room
rate for anyone coming to
Kaleidoscope events, so if you wish to stay the night before or after
the event, please mention Kaleidoscope when booking.
Tel: 01384 394350
Full details of this event and
Kaleidoscope's other activities can
always be found on our web site:
2nd November 2010
Two forthcoming signings at London's
Magazine Shop (in Brewer Street) to report:
Shane Rimmer is promoting his
From Thunderbirds to Pterodactyls, with a signing on November
the 6th, from noon until 2pm.
Hammer and Bond stars Caroline Munro and
Martine Beswick will be signing on November the 27th, from noon until
1st November 2010
ZETA MINOR NEWS
We have a new competition starting today, offering the chance to win a
two-disc set containing one of the most fondly-remembered children's
series of the 1970s, Here Come The Double Deckers, courtesy of
Second Sight. Click on the image - above
- to go to the competition page!
have recently published a couple of books celebrating the art of the
One celebrates the work of a particular artist, Drew Struzan (who has designed many of the most memorable posters of the last
couple of decades). The other is, somewhat misleadingly, called The
Art of Hammer, and it celebrates the output of the famous British
studio. It covers the studio's entire history, from Exclusive's The
Dark Light, in 1951, to their atypical swansong, The Lady
Vanishes, in 1979.
Marcus Hearn's book makes no claims to be definitive,
but most films, especially the gothic horror films the studio built its
reputation on, are represented by more than one poster (not simple
variations: usually each poster is radically different to any other). Preference, the
Introduction explains, has
been given to UK designs, on the basis that this was the country of
origin, and this is apparently an important factor for some collectors.
I've been a Hammer fan for more than thirty
years, since stealing illicit glances at top-shelf publications like
Monster Mag and World of Horror, and trading Topps'
delightfully gruesome Shock Theater bubble-gum cards in the playground.
I own a few Hammer posters, but I've never really been very impressed
with their domestic output, many of which, with their crude artwork, were seemingly knocked out
cheaply and quickly (in his heyday Hammer's leading poster artist, the
great Tom Chantrell, was churning out three posters a week). Hammer's
domestic posters were often printed on very poor quality paper, and were
sometimes drab, two-colour designs (even if the original artwork was in
The book, perhaps wisely, rarely comments
on the artistic merits of any of the featured posters. On one occasion
it wryly notes that a particular poster (the familiar one for The
Curse of Frankenstein) is valued more for its cultural significance,
rather than for its aesthetic appeal.
Having said that, The Art of Hammer
contains a wealth of great artwork, both domestic and foreign. Hearn
evidently knows his market: within twenty pages
we're in familiar territory, with the first of the studio's Quatermass
films, The Quatermass Xperiment (with it's intriguing 'X', picked
out in red). From then on it's pretty solidly horror and fantasy movies,
with the odd psychological thriller, war film or comedy added for seasoning.
After the Introduction, the book is light
on text. All of the posters are identified by their country of origin,
and physical size, and, where known (which is, unfortunately, not
terribly often), the name of the artist. Occasionally there's a
paragraph or two of text, if the poster has an interesting story (like
the banned one for The Camp on Blood Island, or the censored one for
The Satanic Rites of Dracula); or if the poster contains an error
(perhaps a mis-spelt credit). Sometimes the annotations are simple
trivia (noting that only one Hammer poster features the name of regular supporting actor Michael Ripper, for example:
the one for The Steel Bayonet).
Key films (or films with an especially-interesting array of designs)
have several pages devoted to them.
The quality of the reproduction is very
good (the book is printed on good paper, and is well bound). Presumably a
fair bit of skilful digital restoration has been applied, since none of
the posters exhibit signs of wear and tear (the book's designer,
Doctor Who Magazine veteran Peri Godbold, gets the credit).
Godbold's sympathetic layout is excellent, giving space where it's
needed, and leaving breathing room so that each poster can be appreciated. The
book is a tad taller and wider than Titan's recent books
Hammer Glamour and
The Hammer Story.
Many of the featured posters will be
familiar to long-term fans. Others are rare, or, at least, obscure (an
alternate version of The Lady Vanishes, for example). Few have
been reproduced in this sort of quality, though.
Incidentally, beneath the book's beautifully
stark dust jacket (showcasing artwork for Dracula: AD '72 by
acclaimed Italian artist Renato Casaro) is a different cover (with a
much more sombre black spine), featuring art from Frankenstein and the Monster From
Hell and The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll.
I have only one complaint about the book
(other than it being a shame that there aren't twice as many pages), and
that is that it only includes artwork for films that Hammer completed.
As many fans know (thanks in part to the groundbreaking 1973 book The
House of Horror - The Complete Story of Hammer Films) the studio
often commissioned poster-style artwork for films before they were
produced - or, in many cases, not produced. Thus there are posters for
many non-existent films like Zeppelin vs Pterodactyls and Payment
in Fear), which are, sadly, not included here. (A pair of books on
the unfilmed Hammer,
Bus To Bray, have recently been announced, and these should include these speculative posters?)
There are better books about movie posters
(I thoroughly recommend
The Art of the Modern Movie Poster), and there are better books
if you want a potted history of Hammer, but, as a book that combines
both, The Art of Hammer is peerless, and, thankfully, quite excellent.
The 192-page hardcover book has an RRP of
£24.99, and is available from booksellers everywhere, including
Play.com (£18.99) and
Oh, by the way, a new issue of the Hammer
magazine Little Shop of Horrors, focussed on the cult favourite
Blood on Satan's Claw has recently been published.
26th October 2010
ZETA MINOR NEWS
To mark the end of Mark Gatiss' excellent
BBC Four documentary series A History of Horror I've added a
1997-vintage interview with George A. Romero, director of the
influential 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, to the site. It
was primarily about the then-just released Director's Cut version of
Dawn of the Dead, but it broadly covers other aspects of his career.
To bring things a bit more up to date, I've also included the press
notes for his recent film Diary of the Dead. You can find the
20th October 2010
CULT TV NEWS
great Scottish character actor Graham Crowden has died.
A short biography of the actor is included
in my guide to the first Father Brown DVD,
here. He had an incredible list of credits, including Catweazle,
Callan and Public Eye - all personal favourites. His
defining role, for me, though, was as the sozzled, wise Doctor Jock
McCannon, in Andrew Davies' A Very Peculiar Practice. Crowden
seemed equally comfortable playing period drama (Bleak House,
Vanity Fair) and broad comedy (Dr Terrible's House of Horrible,
The Comic Strip Presents). He even presented Jackanory.
Crowden turned down the lead role in
Doctor Who when Jon Pertwee left the series, in 1974, telling
producer Barry Letts that he didn't want to be tied into a long
contract. One can only wonder what might have happened if he'd said
"yes"! Crowden appeared alongside Tom Baker, who took on the role
after Crowden had turned it down, in the 1979 Doctor Who
adventure The Horns of Nimon (recently released on DVD as part of
the Myths and Legends box set).
For many viewers, he'll be most familiar as
Tom Ballard in the BBC comedy series Waiting For God.
18th October 2010
The BFI IMAX is running a special Halloween
event on October the 30th. Here are the details...
Halloween weekend, BFI IMAX offers the biggest thrills, chills and
spills experience with the first ever Scary 3D Halloween All-Nighter on
the giant screen, on Saturday 30 October at 11.30pm.
Five fantastic frighteners will be lined up
to hammer your heart-rate for nearly eight hours. Coming at you in
spine-tinglingly immersive 3D with surround-sound are: Joe Dante’s
all-consuming darkness in The Hole 3D (2010); this summer’s
fish-fest Piranha 3D (Alexandre Aja, 2010); the science-fiction
action-horror flick Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D (Paul W.S
Anderson, 2010); the slasher movie that uses 3D technology in startling
style – My Bloody Valentine 3D (Patrick Lussier, 2009) and
finally The Final Destination 3D (2009) directed by David R.
You can catch your breath during short
breaks between the films when there will be prize giveaways and there’s
free tea and coffee just in case anyone dares to fall asleep. This event
is a Digital Cinema Presentation, not IMAX and is Cert 18.
Tickets are on sale now: Standard seats –
Adults £27.50, Concessions £19.00, Students £17.00; Premium seats –
Adults £29.50, Concessions £22.00, Students £22.
The BFI IMAX is at South Bank, London SE1.
Nearest tube is Waterloo. Tickets can be bought in advance from the
ticket desk in person, by telephone on 020 7199 6000 or online at
17th October 2010
Some belated Film Score Monthly
soundtrack reviews. These titles have been available for a while, but
they were misplaced in my recent move, so I've only just got around to
listening to them!
Williams' music for John Frankenheimer's tense 1977 thriller
Sunday (about a terrorist plot to kill thousands of people from a
hijacked blimp flying above the Superbowl) was becoming the most elusive
of the scores written during his prime years. Certainly it had the
highest profile of the absentees. Its release neatly fills a
gap between perennial favourites Jaws and Star Wars
(joining Williams' work on Battle of Midway, Arthur Penn's The
Missouri Breaks and Hitchcock's swansong, Family Plot).
Incredibly, when this disc was released, it was the most recent John
Williams score never to have been made commercially available: a
testament to the composer's popularity among film music enthusiasts.
While there are hints in the score's action
sequences of Star Wars, much of Black Sunday is closer to
Williams' work on films like JFK and, more pertinently, Munich.
The dominant theme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park's
memorable stealth cue Dennis Steals The Embryo.
The main programme on FSM's disc runs to
nearly an hour, and offers the score in chronological order. A handful
of alternate versions and source cues are also offered, adding another
ten minutes or so. The disc has been created from the film's original
sixteen-track two-inch masters, and sounds wonderful.
The disc comes with a well-researched
twenty-four page booklet that charts the development of the film. Half
the booklet is taken up by the detailed track notes. The booklet text is
credited to Scott Bettancourt, (disc producer) Mike Matessino, Jeff
Eldridge and Alexander Kaplan.
Black Sunday is technically a
limited edition release, but the producers have negotiated a special
deal to license ten thousand copies, many more than most limited edition
releases. I hope their faith in John Williams is well-founded!
cheesy 70s disco vibes are your bag, baby, then the FSM's
- Season Four (1980-81) CD should be on your shopping list!
This is the third CHiPs disc FSM has
released, all featuring the work of composer Alan Silvestri (the show
ran for six series, so there's potentially more to come!)
This particular season was victim to a
couple of strikes, including one which had a large impact on the show's
music. Since the show had a very distinctive musical style, the
producers were forced to track about half the season with cues from
earlier seasons. That's the point when the strike ended, allowing
Silvestri to resume work on the rest of the season, (including a
'backdoor pilot' episode, Mitchell and Woods, where he was
granted a much larger orchestra than usual).
Although Silvestri scored fewer episodes
than usual for season four, FSM's disc contains just as much music as
the earlier sets. The individual tracks are longer this time, allowing
for suites to be formed from several cues. The tone is, as before,
almost relentlessly cheerful. Is it my imagination, or is there a
playful hint of Mission: Impossible woven into Taking a Nap,
and a soupçon of Silvestri's Back To The Future fanfare in
FSM's disc comes with a booklet, examining
the background to the series, written by label boss Lukas Kendall, and
breaking down each track on the disc into it's component cues. The disc
was mastered, in stereo, from the studio's original 1/2" three track
are for Killing is a 1970 CBS TV movie made just before its
charismatic lead actor, Burt Reynolds, became one of the world's most
bankable movie stars. Reynolds plays recently-released convict,
returning to his home town.
Composer Jerry Fielding's career was
well-established by 1970. In the fifties he'd originally worked as a
jazz band leader and arranger, even hosting his own TV series, before
falling foul of the HUAC investigation, and becoming blacklisted.
McCarthy's grip eventually loosened, and
Fielding gradually worked his way back into regular employment after
securing a foothold with Otto Preminger's acclaimed 1962 political drama
Advise & Consent. A slew of TV work followed, most memorably two
atypical scores for episodes of Star Trek (the beloved The
Trouble With Tribbles, and the considerably less well-liked
Spectre of the Gun).
Hunters Are For Killing is a project
well-suited to Fielding's famously muscular style. The score is
frequently dark, and brooding. Fielding later developed the Main
Title as the theme to the pilot for Matt Helm,
and would later re-use it again for the 1978 remake of The Big Sleep.
Fielding's score - my favourite of the half
dozen or so Fielding discs released in the last few years - runs for
forty-five minutes, and is full of interesting sections, veering from
quiet and insular to ballsy Las Vegas-style splashes of urban colour.
There's a further eleven minutes of funky source cues (mostly jukebox
tracks playing at the local diner) and more exotic alternates. The disc
was mastered from mono archive elements, but the sound quality is
generally very good. The booklet, by Lukas Kendall, contains background
information and track-by-track analysis.
read that the film elements for George Pal's grand Cinerama
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm are in very poor
shape, and require major restoration work (the film hasn't, as far as
I'm aware, had a legitimate DVD release anywhere). Thankfully the same
can't be said for Leigh Harline's flamboyant score, and the film's
songs, by Bob Merrill (writer of How Much is That Doggie in the
Window? and the musical Funny Girl).
Brothers Grimm was a truly epic,
lavishly-funded production, one of only two narrative films to have been
shot in the complex Cinerama process (the other is How The West Was
Won). This is reflected in the film's lush score, and, therefore,
naturally, in FSM's terrific two-disc CD set.
The score was originally recorded with the
intention of being integrated into Cinerama's unique seven-channel sound
mix, so was prepared on special high-quality equipment. As is often the
case in situations like this, this equipment quickly became obsolete,
which has made subsequent use of the original recordings impractical.
Although there were two previous LP
releases, neither featured the original recordings, which have only
recently been painstakingly re-transferred, onto modern formats, by
Warner Bros and Chace Audio. As a bonus, one of these LPs, David Rose
and His Orchestra Play Music From The Wonderful World of the Brothers
Grimm and Other Motion Picture Favourites, is offered on the FSM set
in its entirety (including the disc's B-side, which contained syrupy
easy listening instrumental versions of songs and material from
Around The World in Eighty Days, Sweet Bird of Youth, Gigi,
Spellbound, Exodus and The Music Man), re-mastered
from the studio's original stereo masters.
Music from the original score recordings
fills the first disc, in pristine stereo. The second disc features the
Rose LP, half an hour of alternate takes and tracks pre-recorded for
on-set use, and a short score, in stereo, also by Harline, for the
frothy 1961 romantic comedy The Honeymoon Machine (which featured
an ill-suited Steve McQueen in a role originally offered to Cary Grant).
The booklet with this disc is unusual, in
that it could not contain the extensive background and track notes that
FSM wanted to include, so the text is available in full
online and in this
file. It does, however, include some wonderful fairytale
production art, which would surely grace a larege-format book about the
film. Let's hope that Warner Bros (who acquired Brothers Grimm
from MGM) are able to bring the film back into circulation.
music from John Frankenheimer's lamentable 1979 mutant-on-the-loose /
Prophecy was provided by well-established New Yorker Leonard
Rosenman, a composer whose work I've enjoyed for more than thirty years.
I've thrilled to his scores for Beneath the Planet of the Apes
and Battle for the Planet of the Apes; become swept up in his
enchantingly twee melodies for Ralph Bakshi's animated Lord of the
Rings movie; and been puzzled by his very odd score for Star
Trek: The Voyage Home ("the one with the whales"). I even liked his
score for Robocop 2, right up until the jaw-dropping end
I doubt that the critically-mauled
Prophecy featured highly on Frankenheimer or Rosenman's CV's.
Rosenman didn't stint, though, and comes through with a spirited,
intense, brassy score, featuring many of his idiosyncratic atonal
flourishes (there are certainly hints of Star Trek IV here!) Trek
fans might also be thrilled by the score's use of the mighty electronic
Blaster Beam (which Goldsmith used to great effect in Star Trek The
Motion Picture's Klingon Battle), here representing the
freakiness of the mutant creature. This is a disc best enjoyed when the
neighbours are out!
FSM's Prophecy CD was created from
an existing stereo mix-down on the film's original 1" eight-track
masters, and it sounds terrific. The score is complete, and, at
forty-two minutes, is just about the perfect length. The sixteen-page
booklet is nicely illustrated (including a few rarely-seen photo's of
Tom Burman's critter). It features track notes and some very interesting
background info by Scott Bettencourt and Alexander Kaplan.
All five discs are limited edition
pressings: Black Sunday (10,000), CHiPs (3000), Hunters
are For Killing (2000),
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
(2000) and Prophecy (3000).
FSM CDs can be ordered from specialist
soundtrack etailers, including the label's distribution partner,
Screen Archives Entertainment.
11th October 2010
MediumRare Entertainment has issued a
revised list of bonus features for the
Dark Skies DVD set, which is due to be released next week. The
set will now feature the 90m pilot episode (directed by Tobe Hooper), a
stills gallery and an A-Z (a text database). The behind-the-scenes
interviews, a commentary track (with Bryce Zabel and Eric Close) and
concept art gallery have all been dropped. The set will now be spread
across five discs, not six.
2 Entertain have released a revised version
of the sleeve artwork for their forthcoming release of the classic 70s
Colditz. Here it is!
28th September 2010
I'm going to try to include more capsule
DVD reviews on the site, via the News page, offering more detail about
selected releases. I'm often offered the chance to review new releases,
but some of the in-depth reviews I've written have taken many, many
hours (a couple of days, in some cases), and I just don't have the time
- or, frankly, the enthusiasm - to do them any more. I would like, when
I can, to offer useful information about selected titles that's not
included in the studio press release, or available from the etailers.
These reviews certainly aren't meant to be definitive, just filling out
some of the details, and offering a smidgeon of opinion. So, without
further ado, here's the first one...
- The Complete Series (ABC Studios, £39.99) features all
twenty-two episodes of the series about a mysterious global "blackout"
that gives everyone a two-minute and seventeen second premonition of
what will happen to them in six months' time.
The set is housed in a space-conscious
standard-width reinforced Amary-style case, containing six discs.
Discs one to five feature four episodes
each, in anamorphic 16:9 format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (at
384kbps), and optional English subtitles (there are also audio tracks in
Italian and Spanish, and subtitles are available in English HoH,
Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, Icelandic,
Portuguese and Dutch). The episodes and bonus features are subtitled.
One of the episodes I checked, Countdown, had burnt-in (not
player-generated) English captions and subtitles, for a scene with
Japanese character Keiko Arahida.
The last disc contains the final two
episodes, and the bonus materials, which are:
• Commentary tracks on the episodes
Revelation Zero Part 1 and Revelation Zero Part 2 (with actor
Dominic Monaghan and Executive Producer Jessika Borsicsky)
• Bloopers Reel [3'05"]
• Deleted Scenes [ten scenes, with a
'Play All' option - total approx 10m] As is often the case with deleted
scenes, there's no indication as to where these were supposed to go, so
you'll have to be pretty familiar with the series to gain
• Flashforward On Set – An inside
look on the set of FlashForward [interviews and B-roll, split
into five parts, with a 'Play All' option - total approx 17m]
• Architects of Destiny – Taking
audiences through the production of the entire season [19'18"]
• Meet Yûko – Follow Yûko
Takeuchi as she travels to LA to star in FlashForward [5'35"]
• Kangaroo? – A humorous piece
about the Kangaroo [seen in the opening episode - 1'53"]
• Interviews from the Mosaic
Collective – Interviews from across the world [interviews with four
people about their flashforward experiences, with a 'Play All' option -
total approx 7m]
• Creating a Catastrophe: The Effects
of a Global Blackout – A behind the scenes look at the freeway
Easter Eggs [dotted around the Bonus
Features menu are several hidden menu options, leading to more
Stories From the Mosaic - 2'43, 2'05", 2'49", 2'28", 2'36", 2'19",
2'15" (perhaps more!)] Personally, I found these fairly pointless, and
would gladly have sacrificed them for more behind-the-scenes footage, or
an extra commentary or two.
The series had an intriguing premise,
with enormous potential. What if you discovered that you weren't with
your current partner six months from now, or found yourself on the brink
of suicide, or unexpectedly living on a different continent? What if
your premonition was completely mundane: would it inspire you to make
drastic life changes? What if you saw yourself six months pregnant? What
if you discovered that someone you loved was dead, but you didn't know
how it was going to happen? What if you didn't see anything, suggesting
that you weren't going to be around in six months?
The series explores many of these
fascinating scenarios, set against the operation of a special FBI-like
team set up to investigate the phenomena. It starts well, slowly
building the mystery, but gets a bit bogged-down in the middle with too
much Alias-like spy shenanigans. The series occasionally drifts,
most agreeably, into exotic Millennium and X-Files-like
end-of-the-world storylines. These genre elements quickly dominate the
show, to the extent that the human stories, which made the show so
compelling, are sometimes forgotten, or, at best, sidelined.
The new DVD set is missing two obvious
bonus features. The first is a five-minute A Look Ahead promo
that previewed the upcoming episode Revelation Zero (it's
included on the US version of the Complete Series and Season 1
Part 1 sets). The second is the catch-up episode, What Did You
See?, which recapped the events of the series first ten episodes
(there was a three month break between the tenth and eleventh episodes
in the US). Neither is worth losing much sleep over: the
former is basically a slightly different extract from the version of the
episode that's included in the set; and the latter is a basic clips
The series was shot in high definition,
at 24fps, but a Blu-ray version, listed by some etailers, hasn't
materialised. There's no Blu-ray version in the US, either.
CULT DVD NEWS
I know that some of you are going to be
delighted that the popular series T-Bag is finally going to be
released on DVD (I've been asked about it a lot over the years).
The Series 1 disc, being released on November the 15th, will
feature "commentaries from the lead cast members".
Guillermo Del Toro will be signing copies
of his novel
The Fall at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, Shaftesbury Avenue,
London, between 6 and 7pm on October the 6th.
Shane Rimmer will be signing copies of
My Autobiography - From Thunderbirds to Pterodactyls at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, Shaftesbury Avenue,
London, between 1 and 2pm on October the 30th.
Michael Moorcock will be signing copies of
Doctor Who - The Coming of the Terraphiles
at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, Shaftesbury Avenue,
London, between 6 and 7pm on October the 21st.
18th September 2010
I've added three editions of Predators
to the database: the
DVD (two discs, including Digital Copy), a Triple-Play
Blu-ray version (with DVD and Digital Copy), and Play.com's
Other recent additions include the
Flashforward DVD box set; and the long-overdue
Here Come The Double Deckers DVD set.
14th September 2010
The official press release for
Series 5 of The Avengers has been added to Incoming. Looks
like a great set, but the continuing silence on their plans - or
otherwise - for The Avengers on Blu-ray does Optimum no credit.
added a slew of press release announcements to
today, including the twisty British kidnap thriller The Disappearance
of Alice Creed (on
Blu-ray); the fourth series of BBC drama
Waterloo Road; a collection of episodes of
Taggart from the last couple of years; the Smurfs and the
Magic Flute movie (on
Blu-ray); the sequel to atmospheric vampire movie 30 Days of
Night, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days (on
DVD); the third series of US legal drama
Damages (on DVD only, apparently), and a box set collecting the
first three series; the giant crocodile movie
Lake Placid 3 (which features Eureka's Colin Ferguson
and, somewhat bizarrely, Monarch of the Glen's Kirsty Mitchell,
Grange Hill's Kacey Barnfield, and a very naked Roxanne
Pallett, from Emmerdale); the CGI animation hit Monster House
in 3D (on
Blu-ray only); medieval supernatural thriller Black Death
(which stars Sean Bean and David Warner, on
Blu-ray); French swashbucklers
D'Artagnan's Daughter (making its UK DVD debut) and
Le Bossu (both on DVD only); two rarely-seen live-action French
Tintin films from the 60s,
Tintin and the Mystery of the Golden Fleece and
Tintin and the Blue Oranges, which are being released by the
BFI; and a feature-packed edition of the recent theatrically-released
documentary about comedian Bill Hicks, American (on
Blu-ray - HMV are offering exclusive bonus art-cards with their
version, if you're willing to pay a little extra, compared to the other
Sony are releasing Sam Raimi's 1981
The Evil Dead on Blu-ray next month. If I interpret the press
release correctly, it will include bonus features in high definition
that are only available in standard definition on Anchor Bay's recent US
disc. It certainly includes a Picture-in-Picture feature that's not on
the US disc (or, of course, on Sony's forthcoming DVD edition), Join
Us! The Undying Legacy of The Evil Dead.
Today's entries to Incoming include
the 15000th title that's been added to the database, so this seems like
a good time to thank Ceri, Ben and Graves for their contributions over
the last few of years.
Colin Cutler has updated his comprehensive
guide to the clips that survive from missing episodes of the BBC's
science fiction anthology series Out of the Unknown, with new
information about an extract from the fourth season episode The Last
Witness. The Introduction to the Clips Guide can be found
here, or you
can jump straight to the fourth season entry
Posteritati Gallery is running
an exhibition of posters from heist movies during October.
Two forthcoming signings at the
Vintage Magazine Shop, Brewer
Ian Ogilvy (Return of the Saint,
Witchfinder General, The Sorcerers, etc) - 9th October,
Jeremy Bulloch (Return of the Jedi,
Doctor Who, Robin of Sherwood, etc) - 16tg October, 12-2pm
Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal
conceptual designer Brian Froud will be signing copies of his book
Faeries at the Forbidden Planet Megastore, Shaftesbury Avenue,
London, between 1 and 2pm on October the 2nd.
Titan has announced the release of a book
dedicated to the non-Marvel and DC work of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
Here's the full press release:
Exploding with action and excitement, The Simon &
Kirby Superheroes collects all of the stories the creators of
Captain America produced in this genre independent of Marvel and DC!
[Titan Books, £35.00, 29th September 2010]
The only compendium authorized by both Joe Simon and the
estate of Jack Kirby, this over-sized, full-colour hardcover features
adventures brilliantly restored to their original glory, including some
tales that have never been released before now, and others that have
been reproduced from original artwork for the first time in decades.
This volume introduces some of the dream team’s most
exciting characters: Fighting American, their cold-war patriotic hero,
The Fly, with origins in an unknown Spider-Man prototype, Lancelot
Strong, the man with the double life, and the Hollywood swashbuckler
known as Stuntman.
In addition to unreleased alternate covers and rare
double-page spreads, Simon & Kirby Superheroes offers three
never-before-seen stories: Stuntman Crowns a Jungle Lord,
Trapped on Wax, and Fighting American in The Mad Inker.
Beginning with the Black Owl in December, 1940, Joe Simon
and Jack Kirby set the standard for costumed heroes. Their creation
Captain America (soon to be featured in a major motion picture by Marvel
Studios) remains one of the most famous characters in comic book
history, and their work for Timely and DC Comics raised the bar for the
Featuring a new introduction by Neil Gaiman!
The book is available to pre-order at
Amazon.co.uk (£29.97) and
6th September 2010
I've added details and etailer links for
the three different editions of Christopher Nolan's Inception due
for release on December the 6th (that is, a
limited edition Blu-ray version in a metal suitcase, with various
gubbins, a triple-play
Blu-ray (Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Copy), and the regular
DVD). Note that bonus features are, at this point, still TBC.
Also recently added: the recent remake of
80s cult favourite Night of the Demons (on
Blu-ray); Frozen, an endurance thriller about a group of
people stranded mid-air on a chairlift (on
Blu-ray); the twelfth season of
Midsomer Murders; a box set of BBC sitcom
Dear John (previously an HMV exclusive); action-comedy hit
The Losers (on
Blu-ray); and four Heroes box sets (Season 4 on
Blu-ray, and the Complete Seasons 1-4 set on
indi VISION imprint is releasing a 'new' Director's Cut edition
The Lawnmower Man on October the 18th, as a two-disc set that
also includes the film's sequel. As far as I can ascertain this 'new'
Director's Cut version is the same as the one previously released on VHS
and laserdisc (and on DVD, but only elsewhere in Europe).
Incidentally, I once spent a fascinating
couple of hours studying studio documents relating to The Lawnmower
Man, specifically the incredibly detailed legal paperwork generated
when Stephen King, unhappy about the tenuous connection between the film
and his short story, which it was purportedly based on, sued to have his
name removed from the film (and, more pertinently, from any advertising
101 Films is releasing an Ultimate
Collector's Edition of notorious revenge thriller I Spit on Your
Grave (one of the films on the DPP's list of so-called Video Nasties)
on September the 20th. The set promises "new uncut material previously
unseen in the UK", but the film itself has, unsurprisingly, not
escaped the BBFC's scissors. Their notes for the film say "The BBFC
required 43 seconds of cuts to this film. The distributor made all the
cuts, but in some instances substituted new material for the removed
footage. This has resulted in a running time difference of 21 seconds
between the original submission and the classified version".
The Incoming listing, with the
breakdown of the bonus features, is
17th August 2010
ZETA MINOR NEWS
added an interesting Q&A transcript of a press conference for The
Expendables, which features Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and
other cast members.
You can find it
opens in UK cinemas tomorrow.
11th August 2010
I've added press release details for a
number of significant releases to our forthcoming releases database
today, including: Dennis Potter's memorable period drama series
Lipstick on Your Collar; Ewan McGregor (again) and Pierce
Brosnan's critically-acclaimed political thriller The Ghost (on
DVD); a fiftieth anniversary Blu-ray edition of John Sturges'
The Magnificent Seven; British film festival favourite
Running in Traffic; the recent
supernatural comedy from the team behind Bend it Like Beckham,
It's a Wonderful Afterlife (which, despite what some etailers
are claiming, is not being released on Blu-ray); Star Wars-inspired
comedy Fanboys (on
Blu-ray); and a long-overdue
DVD release for cult classic
Dougal and the Blue Cat.
9th August 2010
sees the release of several dual format Blu-ray / DVD sets, including
the film that Sandra Bullock won her Best Actress Oscar for,
The Blind Side and a film that features one of the most
astonishing performances in fiilm history: that of Christian Bale in
The Machinist, from Palisades Tartan.
Park Circus have James Mason and Ava
Pandora and the Flying Dutchman; Ian McKellen and Clive Owen in
the award-winning love story
Bent; as well as two Charlie Chaplin films
The Gold Rush and
Modern Times. The BFI is releasing Tony Scott's
Loving Memory (which set also includes two short films by Tony
and Ridley Scott).
Also from the BFI in August are Blu-ray
only releases of Michael Powell's bewitching
The Edge of the World, Peter
Greenaway's deliciously barmy
A Zed & Two Noughts and Jack Clayton's superb ghost story,
The Innocents. These titles have already been released on DVD.
Eureka! Entertainment are releasing the
1944 fantasy epic
Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and two Masters of Cinema
The Burmese Harp and
Shijie (The World).
From 2 entertain come high definition
releases of the first series of BBC Three hit comedy
Mongrels and the recent BBC adaptation of
Warner are issuing a five-film
Clint Eastwood: The Director's Collection (including Gran
Torino, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima,
Mystic River and Unforgiven), while Fox are following suit
with a four-film
Clint Eastwood Collection (which mostly duplicates their earlier
Spaghetti Western Collection).
The 50th Anniversary edition of Hitchcock's
Psycho is available in
normal editions, while Optimum's 30th Anniversary edition of
Flash Gordon includes the soundtrack on CD (frustratingly, it
will apparently omit the Brian Blessed commentary on one of the same
label's DVD editions).
Also coming in next few weeks are John
Elvis TV movie (starring
Kurt Russell); Sylvester Stallone's prison romp
Lock Up; 80s throwback comedy
The Hot Tub Time Machine; Drew Barrymore's directorial debut
Whip It! (which stars Inception's Ellen Page); Dolph
The Killing Machine; an acclaimed new documentary about The
When You're Strange; and the all-star adaptation of Terry
Additional information has been posted for
the following titles: the BFI's two Famous Five DVDs (Five
on a Treasure Island and
Five Gave A Mystery to Solve); Optimum's DVD of Harry Kümel's
stylish version of the Elizabeth Bathory-as-vampire
Daughters of Darkness; and horror flicks
Splintered and what GoreZone magazine called "probably
the most graphic gore film ever released in the UK",
We've also added a Tom Baker Doctor Who
The Seeds of Doom, which is scheduled for release in October,
and an entry for the UK DVD premiere for Andrzej Zulawski's horrific
Possession (which, although it lacks the commentary track on
Anchor Bay's OOP US disc, will apparently feature a Making of...
documentary about the film, The Other Side of The Wall).
Tickets for the extended version of
Avatar are now on sale. Here's the official blurb...
From 27 August at BFI IMAX, Avatar
fans can return to Pandora and experience James Cameron's groundbreaking
epic, now with more than eight minutes of extra, never-before-seen
footage, in spectacular IMAX 3D.
The Oscar and Golden Globe winning epic,
distributed by 20th Century Fox, is the highest grossing film of all
time, taking in over $2.7 billion in worldwide box office. It is also
the top-selling Blu-ray disc of all time. Director James Cameron takes
audiences to a spectacular world beyond imagination, where a reluctant
hero embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery as he leads a
heroic battle to save a civilization. Avatar delivers a fully
immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the revolutionary
technology invented to make the film disappears into the emotion of the
characters and the epic nature of the story.
In December 2009, the BFI IMAX sold more
advance tickets for Avatar than any other cinema in the world –
over 46,000. Once the film opened, public demand kept it playing to
packed houses for many months. To date, over 160,000 people have been to
see Avatar at the BFI’s giant screen on the South Bank.
Dennis Laws, Technical and General Manager,
BFI IMAX, says: "We’re certain that many of our customers who were blown
away by Avatar the first time around will be coming back again to
experience the incredible IMAX 3D version. The new footage will add yet
another dimension and from the enquiries we’ve had already, it looks
like hundreds of fans want to be among the first to see Avatar:
The BFI IMAX is at South Bank, London SE1.
Tickets for Avatar: Special Edition are now on sale today and are
available from the ticket desk Tel: 020 7199 6000 or online at
6th August 2010
I don't really feel qualified to bring you
news about the world of comic strips and graphic novels, because I
personally only dabble around the more mainstream end of the market, but
I thought this press release from Titan Magazines was worth
Ross and Frankie Boyle comic strips feature in CLiNT, a new monthly
magazine from Kick-Ass creator Mark Millar
Comics by two of the UK’s most outspoken TV
personalities and burgeoning writing talents – Jonathan Ross and
stand-up comedian Frankie Boyle – will feature in CLiNT Magazine,
an exciting new joint venture between Kick Ass creator Mark
Millar and Titan Magazines. Millar’s sequel to his cult comic and smash
hit movie will also feature in the monthly title to form a stunning
line-up of stories.
“This is The Eagle for the 21st
Century,” declares Millar, whose genre-busting Kick-Ass scooped
the number one movie spot in America and whose previous work includes
Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman. “I’ve worked on
everything from Spider-Man comics to the Iron Man movie for Marvel in
New York, but what really excites me is the gap I see in the UK market
at the moment. There are absolutely no comic-books aimed at 16-30 year
old guys and I think CLiNT has potential to make an enormous
impact, bringing a new type of magazine to a new generation.
“I want this to be edgy and irreverent, the
kind of thing guys will be passing around lunch-halls and common rooms,
and there’s nobody I’d rather have creating new characters for CLiNT
than Jonathan and Frankie. They’re both brilliant writers and will
surprise a lot of people with this stuff. The last thing you’d expect
from Jonathan, for example, is a vampire strip, but he pulls it off
amazingly. People are going to love this.”
Millar is also launching his sequel to the
hit Kick-Ass movie in the first issue of the comic. Kick-Ass
2: Balls To The Wall has been scheduled for production in 2011 for a
2012 cinema release, but fans of the first movie can find out what
happens two years in advance by picking up CLiNT.
The 100-page magazine will be packed with
interviews and features from movies, games and television as well as
four serialized comic-strips. The biggest names in entertainment will be
featured every month and some will even be sticking around to write
sci-fi, humour or horror stories after they’ve been interviewed and
“We can’t say who else is involved at this
stage,” says Millar. “Jonathan, Frankie and I will have our stories
serialized over the first six months, but we have the most insane
line-up of creators ready to come in and join us. You’d be amazed how
many people who work in film and television want to be comic-book
writers. It’s very exciting and we think we’re creating something
potentially enormous here.”
Further information on who is involved can
be found at twitter.com/clintmag, where future developments will be
revealed on a regular basis.
CLiNT #1 will go on sale on September 2nd
in the UK from all good retailers and specialist comic stores. It will
be available in the US by subscription.
3rd August 2010
Recent additions and amendments to the
database include the film based on the comic strip
Largo Winch (some etailers have it priced at less than half its
£15.99 RRP, suggesting a mis-price); the sixth series of popular
Who Do You Think You Are?; Jacques Demy's captivating
DVD versions of Neil Marshall's bloodthirsty Roman thriller
Centurion; the third series of Welsh detective series
A Mind To Kill; the Jet Li martial arts movie
The Legend of Fong Sai Yuk; a Japanese horror film with hints of
Death Tube (aka Satsujin Douga Site); a box set featuring
two crime series produced by Verity Lambert, Widows and She's
The Lynda La Plante Collection; an award-winning slasher movie
featuring Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Mercedes McNab and
American Gothic's Nick Searcy, which is listed as XII on
IMDb, but is being
Twelve; various incarnations of fantasy movie The Prince of
Persia: The Sands of Time (Blu-ray
/ DVD combo,
Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy combo, and just the
DVD); complete series box sets for BBC sitcoms
Are You Being Served? and
In Sickness and In Health; a new batch of Blu-ray titles from
Optimum and Studio Canal, including
Delicatessen, David Lynch's
Mulholland Drive and
The Third Man; an extended Director's Cut version of Ridley
Scott's Robin Hood (on limited edition
DVD); a new BFI Flipside title from 1968,
Here We Go Round The Mulberry Bush; and a British thriller about
a stand-up comedian,
Crying With Laughter.
lots of activity to report about the recently reconstructed and restored
version of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which is being screened at
various venues during August and September. Here's the information, from
the distributor's press release...
Eureka Entertainment are pleased to
announce a series of special event screenings to celebrate the release
of one of the biggest of all film finds – Fritz Lang's 1927 science
fiction masterwork, Metropolis, newly reconstructed and restored,
featuring 25 minutes of footage previously thought lost to the world.
To mark the end of the BFI Southbank’s
Future Human season, they are delighted to present a very special UK
premiere of Metropolis on 26 August 2010. Lang's 'captivating
symphony of movement' can finally be seen, for the first time in the UK
in 83 years, as its director originally intended. This event is now
On 29 August 2010 there will be an
open-air sunset screening of Metropolis in the idyllic setting of
Grantchester Meadows as a prelude to the Cambridge Film Festival. Cinema
goers can arrive by a chauffeured punt with a glass of bubbly in hand,
warm blankets and the promise of a memorable and magical event.
Once a month the Curzon Midnight Movies team bring us the
best in cult classics, trash beauties and art house jaw droppers
alongside exclusive previews. On 3 September 2010, Midnight Movies
presents Metropolis at the stunning Curzon Mayfair venue
featuring a Metropolis themed burlesque-style dance performance
from Suri Sumatra on stage and a 1920's factory themed bar creating some
very special cocktails. The Midnight Movies team will also take
Metropolis to a special screening in the Little White Lies-curated
Cinedrome at the End of the Road Festival on 10 September 2010,
alongside other Masters of Cinema titles La Planete Sauvage [aka
Fantastic Planet] and House [aka Hausu]
The Irish premiere of the restored
original version of Metropolis, takes place on 4 September 2010
at the National Concert Hall in Dublin
featuring a newly adapted music score for a salon Orchestra closely
based on the original Huppertz score from 1927, under the direction of
conductor Helmut Imig. This event will be part of an accompanying Fritz
Lang season being held at the Irish Film Institute.
On 11 September 2010, Metropolis will be the
penultimate film screened in
petrol station on Clerkenwell road which will be transformed into a
cinema, designed to celebrate the extravagance and ceremony of the
picture palace. Primarily constructed using donated and found materials;
The Cineroleum will be an improvisation of the decadent interiors that
greeted audiences during cinema’s golden age. Popcorn, paper tickets,
elaborate signage and flip-down seats will collectively recreate the
familiar excitement of cinema-going. Enclosed by an ornate curtain
strung from the forecourt roof, The Cineroleum will host screenings from
sundown four nights a week. Just as the drive-ins of 1950’s America
brought cinema out from its enclosures and into suburbia, The Cineroleum
will be a street-side cinema that is truly exposed to the city.
more info about the screening please see
Roundhouse in London is home to an exciting programme of live
music, theatre, dance, circus, installations and new media. Included in
this programme on Sun 10 October 2010 there will be a live orchestral
screening of Metropolis
accompanied by the London Contemporary Orchestra. The LCO bring together
London’s brightest young talent, with an aim to stimulate and enlighten
through their fresh approach and dynamic performances. For more info
about the event please see
Eureka will also be working with the
charitable organisation Film Education with special screenings for
schools in early September to tie-in with the film’s release and the
a bespoke resource
for schools. Later in the year, Metropolis will also
feature as part of the National Schools Film Week.
Other special preview events include a
special screening as part of the Barbican’s Silent Film & Music Series
on 3 September 2010 and a couple of screenings at the Chichester
International Film Festival on the 3rd and 4th September 2010.
opens theatrically in over sixty cinemas nationwide on the 10th of
September 2010 in towns and cities throughout the UK and Ireland. Full
details of these screenings and the event screenings can be found here
19th July 2010
Several forthcoming titles have been added
database in the last couple of days, including the
Blu-ray versions of Michael Winterbottom's controversial serial
killer movie The Killer Inside Me, which stars Casey Affleck,
Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson; the complete
FlashForward TV series (on DVD only, sadly); and - finally! -
Joseph Losey's culty, campy 60s spy classic
Modesty Blaise (but, again, only on DVD, for some inexplicable
I know I speak for many Zeta Minor visitors
(and members of Roobarb's Forum), when I say that I'm done buying movies
(and TV series made in HD) on DVD!
Releasing a title like Modesty Blaise
on DVD only at this point seems, at best, short-sighted, and, at
worst, a cynical move to wring every last penny out of DVD, before
announcing a double-dip on Blu-ray.
It's been a year of huge growth for HD TV
set sales (the World Cup - hello!) and prices of Blu-ray players have
been tumbling: things are definitely moving in the new format's favour.
There seems to be some resistance to reducing the cost of the discs,
particularly catalogue titles, which is preventing adoption, but even
those are being eroded. Some decent three-for-£20 deals wouldn't go
Thanks to Graves for the updates this week
(and, indeed, every week!)
15th July 2010
Twentieth Century Fox has announced the
details of their forthcoming Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set,
which will contain hours of new material, including an
apparently-unedited version of the controversial documentary charting
the behind-the-scenes conflict that occurred on Alien³,
between the studio and director David Fincher. Full details can be found
in the set's
Other recent Incoming additions
include the BFI's Blu-ray edition of Jack Clayton's masterful 1961 ghost
The Innocents, and the
Blu-ray versions of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
On Monday night I was lucky enough to
attend a screening of Inception, the highly-anticipated new film
from Memento's Christopher Nolan, at the BFI Imax theatre at
Inception is a film probably best
experienced before you know too much about the plot, or it's stunning
set-pieces (at least two of which are being given away by advertising posters and TV
The film is based on a relatively
straightforward concept, but it's been given layers of depth and
Rubik's Cube-like complexity, and demands close attention from the viewer. It's a film
that almost casually blends reality with dreams, and very little of what
you see is "real", so you have to keep on your toes. I saw the film at
the end of a long working day, and, by the end of the film, was somewhat fatigued, but
felt that it all made sense. Sort of. More or less.
The film features a team of people who have
discovered a way to infiltrate the dreams of others. Quite how they
achieve this isn't explicitly explained, but all the rules and tech
paraphernalia give it enough verisimilitude that you're quickly and effectively sold
on the idea. Led by Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio), the team has been using
this ability to sell protection to wealthy, powerful clients with murky
secrets. One such potential client (The Last Samurai's Ken
Watanabe) hires Cobb to plant an idea in the mind of a business rival.
This is a
job requiring a delicate touch, because the victim must not suspect that
the idea is not his own.
Cobb re-assembles his team, including
wingman Arthur ((500) Days of Summer's Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who
will be barely recognisable to
those of you who have only seen him as Tommy in 3rd Rock From The Sun),
and a new "architect", the appropriately-named Ariadne (played by
Juno's Ellen Page), to create the operation's labyrinthine - but, by
necessity, highly plausible - dream landscape. The team is also joined
by a shady mind-manipulator, Eames, compelling portrayed - as usual - by
the mesmerising Tom Hardy (Bronson). Platoon's Tom
Berenger, an actor who has deserved much more than the straight-to-video dreck he's been mired down by for the last couple of decades, also makes
a memorable appearance. Hopefully this will mark a turning point in his
A strong skein of emotional drama weaves
through the film, spinning from Cobb's guilt about the death of his
wife, played beautifully by La Vie en Rose's Marion Cotillard.
Her relationship with Cobb is at the very heart of the film, and
prevents the film from becoming just another slick, hi-tech,
testosterone-fuelled Summer Blockbuster.
After much explanation and
demonstration about what it is that the team are aiming to do, the film
steps up several gears: from then on it's pure action. The film spans an
array of exotic locations (including a lengthy sequence that seems to pay
direct homage to Blofeld's lair in On Her Majesty's Secret Service),
and offers a string of highly-impressive special effects set-pieces.
Inception is a film that defies easy
pigeonholing: its science fiction and fantasy trappings are set dressing
in a film that's equally comfortable being an Ocean's Eleven-style
heist movie and a Mission: Impossible-style spy thriller. Nolan's
fondness for James Bond movies is certainly evident.
The film is certainly impressive, and,
refreshingly, doesn't pander to the audience's lowest common
denominator. True, it's not terribly original (there are strong echoes
of Dark City, the recent Japanese anime Paprika, and
1984's Dreamscape, to name but three), but none of these had the
benefit of Nolan's sheer panache, or his $200m budget.
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed
with certain aspects of the film's presentation at the IMAX. The
cinematography (cropped from it's Panavision 2.35:1 original) is
frequently quite ugly, with many scenes exhibiting a grim oiliness (perhaps
that's exactly the look Nolan wanted, of course). Flesh tones are
sometimes unpleasantly ruddy, and no-one, not even DiCaprio or Cotillard,
looks at their best. No-one should go into the film expecting the clarity and sharpness of the IMAX
scenes in The Dark Knight.
I've seen many films at the IMAX, but this
is the first one with a soundtrack that the IMAX's mighty audio setup
didn't seem to be able to handle effortlessly. Inception had
moments where it seemed to be really struggling (especially with some of
the rib-rattling ultra-low bass). Hans Zimmer's percussive score propels
and services the film adequately, but it isn't especially memorable.
Those caveats shouldn't dissuade you from
seeing the film on a big screen (or, at the IMAX, the biggest!) That's
assuming you can get a ticket at the IMAX - they're heavily pre-booked,
and precious screen time is being limited by Toy Story 3, which
is running during the day, and by other forthcoming commitments, like
The BFI IMAX is at South Bank, London SE1.
Tickets are on sale now and can be bought in advance from the ticket
desk in person, by telephone on 020 7199 6000 or online at
7th July 2010
Our friends over at the
Mausoleum Club Forum have spotted a couple of significant problems
with the newly released The Avengers - Series 4 DVD box set,
released on Monday.
The first is a video glitch about 43'20"
into The Gravediggers, which knocks the audio way out of sync for
the remainder of the episode.
The second is what looks like a nasty tape
playback fault, in The Strange Case of the Missing Corpse bonus
feature. It manifests itself in a couple of seconds of audio and video
disruption, just before the end captions.
Both faults would seem serious enough to
warrant re-authoring, and a disc replacement scheme, like the one that
Optimum arranged for the first season set.
6th July 2010
Recently added and augmented titles
Charlie's Angels (Blu-ray); a slew of stand-up comedy titles due
in November (Chris
Russell Howard, Al Murray,
Russell Brand and
Dylan Moran); a Complete Collection box set of
Foyle's War (which has a much lower RRP than the etailers seem
to think); the Jane Seymour mini-series
East of Eden; the second series of Ralph Bates' sitcom
Dear John; Atom Egoyan's Chloe on
DVD; a box set featuring Dennis Potter's final works,
Karaoke and Cold Lazarus (they'll also be available separately,
although I can't imagine many people would want one without the other;
battling angels fantasy Legion (on
Blu-ray); and Ricky Gervais' family drama Cemetery Junction
1st July 2010
Belated congratulations to Special Effects
pioneer Ray Harryhausen, who celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this
Ray's been one of my heroes for more than
thirty years, and films like Jason and the Argonauts (being
released on Region Free Blu-ray in the US next week) and The Golden
Voyage of Sinbad are enduring favourites.
Ray's career is being celebrated with a
season of his films at BFI Southbank. On Saturday BAFTA played tribute
to Ray by presenting him with a special award "for a unique and
outstanding contribution to cinema". The event was attended by a number
of colleagues and admirers, including Rick Baker, Dennis Muren, Phil
Tippett, John Landis, Ken Ralston, Randall William Cook, Peter Jackson,
Caroline Munro and Nick Park, with special video messages from James
Cameron, Tim Burton, Ray Bradbury, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg,
Guillermo Del Toro, and Aardman animations.
Here are some photo's from the event,
courtesy of BAFTA and the BFI.
Ray has also been honoured by Sony Pictures
Digital Productions in California, where they have named one of their
screening theatres after him!
Here's the report from the PR Newswire
(which I've Anglicised, for the sake of readability)...
CITY, Calif., June 28 /PRNewswire/
On the eve of his 90th birthday, Sony
Pictures Digital Productions is excited to announce the renaming of its
119-seat screening theatre after visual effects pioneer Ray Harryhausen.
The honour comes just days after the British Academy of Film and
Television Arts (BAFTA) paid tribute to the creative legend in London
with a special award feting his contributions to film.
The Ray Harryhausen Theatre will be
formally dedicated on Monday, July 12, 2010, with the unveiling of a
sign displaying the theatre's new name, a reception, and the screening
of one of Harryhausen's seminal hit films, Jason and the Argonauts.
The 1963 classic, originally produced and released by Columbia Pictures
(now part of Sony Pictures Entertainment), has been lovingly restored to
its original splendour by Sony Pictures. The film makes its debut on Blu-ray
Disc on July the 6th - the fifth Harryhausen Blu-ray title from Sony
Pictures Home Entertainment, the most of any filmmaker from the label.
The disc features new commentaries by Harryhausen himself, as well as
Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson, along with film historian Tony
Dalton and visual effects expert Randall William Cook, and a new
interview with Harryhausen with filmmaker John Landis.
"It's an incredible honour to have this
theatre named at the studio I called home," says Harryhausen. "It means
as much to me as my Academy Award and the BAFTA honour I just received,
especially knowing that it is a working theatre where visual effects
artists and animators work every day."
The theatre, located on the Culver City,
Ca. campus of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, is the screening
theatre of Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Pictures Animation and Sony
Imageworks Interactive. Used on a daily basis in the creation of modern
visual effects and animated features, the theatre represents the living
legacy of Harryhausen's lifelong career, as Sony's artists continue to
develop and practice new animation techniques for bringing fantasy to
life, much as the facility's namesake did throughout his career.
being inspired by the work of Willis H. O'Brien, the stop-motion
photography pioneer of 1933's King Kong, Harryhausen eventually
found himself working alongside his mentor for 1949's Mighty Joe
Young. In the mid-1950s, he moved on to Columbia Pictures, where he
created mind-boggling special effects for such films as 20 Million
Miles to Earth (1957), The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958),
Jason and the Argonauts (1963), and, later, for M-G-M, the original
Clash of the Titans (1981). His ingenious skill at seamlessly
blending stop-motion puppetry with live action footage - of, for
example, an unbelievable seven articulated skeletons battling Jason in
the 1963 film - continues to inspire visual effects artists to this day.
In keeping with the innovation Harryhausen
continually introduced throughout his career, the Harryhausen Theatre
has undergone a significant state-of-the-art technical upgrade, with
capabilities for projecting digital 3D stereoscopic content via Sony's
industry-leading 4K CineAlta projector system and RealD cinema
technology, 2D digital content and analogue (filmed) content, along with
a modernization of the THX-rated theatre's audio reproduction system for
7.1 Surround sound. In addition, the projection system is tied directly
to the animation and visual effects computer production infrastructure,
enabling direct access to the artists' work in progress at any time.
But it is the Harryhausen name which will
no doubt continue to inspire Sony's artists as they see the name which
has instilled a sense of excitement for the visual effects and animation
crafts for over 60 years – not the least of which is Sony Pictures
Imageworks' own Creative Head, five-time Academy Award-winner Ken
Ralston. Long before working on such films as the original STAR WARS
trilogy and as Visual Effects Supervisor for Back to the Future,
Who Framed Roger Rabbit and, more recently, Beowulf and
Alice in Wonderland, Ralston found himself face-to-face with
Harryhausen at the age of 14. "I was invited to the house of Forrest J.
Ackerman, who did a magazine called Famous Monsters of Filmland,"
he recalls. "I was dumbfounded." His relationship with his mentor is now
entering its fifth decade.
After seeing The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
at a young age at a local theatre in Los Angeles, the budding visual
effects wiz was mesmerized. "Ray's films took me to these fantastic
worlds, with these incredible creatures and characters, in a way I had
never experienced before. I'd never seen anything like it, and it really
stuck to me."
and his friends attempted to recreate the magic in their garages with
small puppets and 8 mm cameras, and, over the years, discovered the most
important aspect of Harryhausen's success. "It was his work ethic – how
hard he disciplined himself to do that work. Those films are all Ray. He
was all of it. For the most part, that was one person doing all of the
effects work we see in his films. That's something that's almost
impossible for younger people to understand, where today, it is an army
of individuals creating a single shot."
"What's amazing – and unique – about his
work is that he often brought a sympathetic quality to the creatures,
especially during their demise," notes Grover Crisp, Sony Pictures' Sr.
VP, Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering. "It's
never just a shock-and-awe thing – he gave them some feeling and
humanity." One of the most respected film archivists and restoration
specialists in the world, it was Crisp and his team who undertook the
meticulous restoration of Jason and the Argonauts.
Upon entering the newly named theatre and
seeing Harryhausen's name, Ralston hopes for one thing for those who use
the facility. "As they walk in, just seeing his name and contemplating
for a minute the inspiration he's been to so many – not just effects
people, but filmmakers in general. Ray Harryhausen has had a global
influence. And we're glad he has a home with us."
Ray also attended the official opening of
an exhibition of some of the creature models from his films, which is
running at the
23rd June 2010
are releasing a novel based on the Elder Scrolls game series.
Here's the press release:
Based on Bethesda Game Studios’
award-winning Elder Scrolls series, Titan Books presents The
Infernal City [Titan Books, 25 June 2010, £6.99].
Written by New York Times bestselling
fantasy writer Greg Keyes, this is the first of two exhilarating novels
that continue the story from The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion,
named 2006 Game of the Year by numerous outsets including the
Golden Joystick Awards and the Associated Press.
Four decades after the Oblivion Crisis,
Tamriel is threatened anew by an ancient and all-consuming evil: Umbriel,
a floating city, casts a terrifying shadow - for wherever it falls,
people die and rise again.
Inside Umbriel’s shadow, a great
adventure begins - and a group of unlikely heroes meet. A legendary
prince with a deep secret. A daring spy on the trail of a vast
conspiracy. A mage obsessed with his desire for revenge. And Annaïg, a
young girl in whose hands the fate of Tamriel may rest...
The book is available at
Play.com for £4.99.
22nd June 2010
Titles recently added to our forthcoming
DVD and Blu-ray database include the Channel 4 drama series
A Dance to the Music of Time; various versions of superhero
action hit Kick-Ass (a lavish limited edition
Blu-ray Collector's Box Set, a
steelbook DVD/Blu-ray combi pack, regular
DVD versions, Play.com's
DVD exclusives (with interchangeable art cards), and
HMV's exclusive Blu-ray edition, which comes with an illustrated
Afterwards, a thriller starring John Malkovich and Lost's
Evangeline Lilly; the second film featuring Emma Thompson's creation
Nanny McPhee, Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang (on
Blu-ray); the first series of crime series
White Collar; and recent BBC cop show Luther, which stars
The Wire's Idris Elba (sadly, only available on
DVD, it seems).
12th June 2010
I've updated our look at Anglia
Television's 1985 adaptation of
Alice in Wonderland,
with a scan from a 1999 book about the company. The text from the book
reveals little - that Giselle Andrews (Alice) was thirteen when the
series was made, and that she was a pupil at a school in Norfolk - but
it does feature a couple of nice promotional photo's of Giselle with the
court puppets, and four of the voice actors.
7th June 2010
Titan Books has released a novel based on
the best-selling video game series God of War. Here's the press
of War (4th June, Titan Books, £6.99) is the first official tie-in
novel to the hugely successful God of War series of video games!
God of War I, II and III
have been amongst the most successful games of all time: the first
two instalments of the adventure have sold over five million copies and
God of War II was named by IGN as “the best action game ever
made”. Since its release on the PS3 system in March, God of War III
has become the 3rd best-selling game of 2010.
Co-written by Matt Stover, the New York
Times Bestselling writer of many Star Wars adventures, and
science-fiction author Robert E.Vardeman, this novelization of God of
War sheds a brutal new light on the legend of Kratos.
A brutal warrior, Kratos is a slave to the
gods of Olympus. Plagued by the nightmares of his past and yearning for
freedom, the Ghost of Sparta would do anything to be free of his debt to
the gods. He is on the verge of losing all hope when the gods give him
one last task to end his servitude.
He must destroy Ares, the god of war.
But what chance does a mere mortal have
against a god? Armed with the deadly chained Blades of Chaos, guided by
the goddess Athena, and driven by his own insatiable thirst for
vengeance, Kratos seeks the only relic powerful enough to slay Ares . .
. a quest that will take him deep into the mysterious temple borne by
the Titan Cronos!
Matthew Stover is the New York Times
bestselling author of Star Wars New Jedi Order:Traitor, Star
Wars: Shatterpoint, and Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith, as
well as The Blade of Tyshalle, Heroes Die and Jericho
Robert E. Vardeman writes science fiction,
fantasy, mysteries and high-tech thrillers and has published more than
100 books, including several Star Trek novels.
The book has an RRP of £6.99, but you can
order it from
Play.com for £5.49.
2nd June 2010
More titles and press releases have been
added to our forthcoming releases database,
including: a new film from the producers of Ong Bak, Force of
Blu-ray); the first season of the new version of alien invasion TV
V; the second season of Joss Whedon's
Dollhouse (and a
box set of both seasons); one half of Dennis Potter's swansong,
Karaoke, from Acorn; Joe D'Amato's shocker
Love Goddess of the Cannibals; a new edition of Enzo
Eagles Over London from Optimum (apparently replacing the one
announced by Severin earlier this year, but sadly apparently missing the
promised commentary track, and not available on Blu-ray, as the Severin
one would have been); a "digitally restored" new DVD edition of Jorge
The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (aka Let Sleeping
Corpses Lie); a restored version of Fulci's
Lizard in a Woman's Skin, overseen by Marc Morris; an extended
version of Jude Law's body organ-trading science fiction movie Repo
Blu-ray); a National Geographic documentary looking at the science
behind films like Twilight and TV series like True Blood,
Vampire Forensics; Blu-ray editions of
The Karate Kid and
The Karate Kid II; the Jennifer Aniston / Gerard Butler comedy
The Bounty Hunter (on
Blu-ray); a feature-packed 15tth anniversary Blu-ray edition of
Apollo 13; the Village People's camp classic Don't Stop The
Music; the seventh seasons of Larry David's comedy of errors,
Curb Your Enthusiasm and
CSI Miami; Academy Award and Golden Globe-nominated drama A
Single Man (on
Blu-ray); and "arousing comedy"
Holy Water (which features and odd cast including Linda Hamilton
and John and Susan Lynch).
31st May 2010
I've added press release details to many of
the titles in our forthcoming releases database,
this week, including: budget releases for three war movies - Roger
Ski Troop Attack (1960), Sergio Martino's
Casablanca Express (1989) and Michael Curtiz'
Dive Bomber (1941) - and King Vidor's epic Western adventure
Northwest Passage; two volumes and a box set of Britain's
Greatest Machines, the National Geographic series presented by
Red Dwarf's Chris Barrie (series
series 2 and the
box set); Alexander Mackendrick's 1963 coming of age drama
Sammy Going South; hippie romantic drama
Hideous Kinky (there's an official press release, but the
etailers don't seem to be listing it yet); the recent movie adaptation
of Robert E. Howard's stories about demon hunter Solomon Kane (on
Blu-ray); the Robert De Niro family drama
Everybody's Fine; the film that gave Jeff Bridges his
long-overdue Oscar, Crazy Heart (on
Blu-ray); acclaimed French dramas
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life
Seraphine; an Extended Director's Cut edition of the Jason
Statham fantasy film
In The Name of the King (which adds more than half an hour to
the film's running time); the first season of Lenny Henry's sitcom
The Fosters, and the spin-off series from Bill Maynard's
Oh No, It's Selwyn Froggitt,
Selwyn; the 1976 ATV adaptation of Arnold Benett's sweeping epic
Clayhanger; Todd Solondz's award-winning black comedy
Life During Wartime; the well-reviewed 2002 supernatural film
Demon Under Glass (under the bandwagon-jumping title
Vampire); Oscar-nominated Tolstoy biopic The Last Station
Blu-ray); Cantonese revenge thriller Vengeance (on
Blu-ray) and yet another release for George Romero's vampire
Martin, which comes with alternate sleeves, postcards and a
New Blu-ray releases include: a 15th
anniversary edition of
Apollo 13; and a two-disc Ultimate Edition of
Donnie Darko (which includes the original and Director's Cut
versions of the film);
HAMMER DVD and BLU-RAY NEWS
It looks like Eureka will be the first
company to issue a Hammer movie on Blu-ray, when they release Freddie
Francis' psychological thriller Paranoiac!, which stars Oliver
Reed, on July the 26th. Full details have been added to
South Bank IMAX is now taking bookings for the new Shrek movie, Shrek
Forever After. Here's the press release...
On the 2nd of July, moviegoers and ogres alike will
prepare to journey to Far Far Away when DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.’s
Shrek Forever After opens at BFI IMAX. Audiences of all ages can
experience the highly anticipated final chapter of the Shrek story in
IMAX 3D – the world’s most immersive movie experience. Digitally
re-mastered into the unparalleled image and sound quality of The IMAX
Experience through IMAX DMR technology, Shrek Forever After: An IMAX
3D Experience will open alongside the worldwide theatrical release.
With crystal clear images, laser-aligned digital sound and maximised
field of view, IMAX puts you IN the movie.
“In addition to making the ultimate final chapter of the
series, we also enjoyed the challenges and rewards of producing Shrek
Forever After in 3D, which adds an awesome level of visual immersion
that has never before been applied to a Shrek film,” said Mike Mitchell,
Director of Shrek Forever After. “Aside from the thrilling
roller-coaster ride aspect, like the scene in which Shrek is being
chased by a band of evil witches on broomsticks, we also used 3D as a
powerful storytelling device to convey the characters’ deepest
emotions... and nowhere are these kinds of experiences more engaging and
exciting than on huge, IMAX 3D screens.”
After challenging an evil dragon, rescuing a beautiful
princess and saving your in-laws’ kingdom, what’s an ogre to do? Well,
if you’re Shrek, you suddenly wind up a domesticated family man. Instead
of scaring villagers away like he used to, a reluctant Shrek now agrees
to autograph pitch forks. What’s happened to this ogre’s roar? Longing
for the days when he felt like a “real ogre,” Shrek is duped into
signing a pact with the smooth-talking dealmaker, Rumpelstiltskin. Shrek
suddenly finds himself in a twisted, alternate version of Far Far Away,
where ogres are hunted, Rumpelstiltskin is king and Shrek and Fiona have
never met. Now, it’s up to Shrek to undo all he’s done in the hopes of
saving his friends, restoring his world and reclaiming his one True
DreamWorks Animation presents Shrek Forever After
starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz and Antonio Banderas.
The film is directed by Mike Mitchell and produced by Gina Shay and
Teresa Cheng. Executive producers are Andrew Adamson, Aron Warner and
John Williams. The screenplay was written by Josh Klausner and Darren
Shrek Forever After will be distributed by
The BFI IMAX is at South Bank, London SE1. Advance
tickets are on sale now, in person from the ticket desk in person, or by
telephone on 020 7199 6000 or online at
Books has a new paperback Tank Girl collection due on June the 28th:
Tank Girl: Skidmarks. Here's the press release...
TANK GIRL: SKIDMARKS
Alan Martin & Rufus Dayglo
Australia, the near, murky future: in this
post-apocalyptic wasteland, the outlaw known only as Tank Girl spends
her days drinking, fighting, farting, and engaging in all manner of
unspeakable acts and mischief.
When her best friend Barney ends up in a coma following a
freaky skateboarding accident, Tank Girl juices up her tank and comes to
her aid. Only a twenty billion dollar operation can save Barney’s life -
and it just so happens that the Watermelon Run, an illegal
cross-continental race, has a first prize of that exact amount!
Now all Tank Girl needs to do is drive thousands of miles
across the burning Outback, while avoiding the homicidal attentions of
the other competitors… oh, and hopefully stop her kangaroo-boyfriend
Booga from getting off with a shape-changing gnome called Chunky
This collected edition also includes two extra stories
and a hamper of bonus material!
The RRP is £10.99, but
Amazon.co.uk have it for £8.24, and
Play.com have it for £8.49.
Jan - May 2010's Zeta Minor News
can be viewed here.
Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed