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4.6 out of 5 stars72
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Showing 1-10 of 18 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
on 21 March 2005
When the Fourth Doctor and Leela materialised on a misty pile of rocks they realised that they had not made it to Brighton. But they were in the right time zone and on the correct planet so they were doing well by the Doctor's usual score. They found themselves on Fang Rock but cut off from the mainland. Not necessarily a problem for there's a lighthouse where the couple can shelter from the mist. But this is the Doctor we're talking about and Fang Rock is the ultimate closed room horror story with a small number of victi... er, survivors of a shipwreck, none of them particularly pleasant.
For the majority of the story, we only have a phosphorescent green glow to indicate the presence of the strange killer along with the occasional electrical discharge. Before getting to see the attacking alien, we see through it's eye. The final revelation of the alien is marginally disappointing and it looks rather more amorphous than it should in my opinion.
Leela gets to gloat splendidly after blasting the rutan with her improvised cannon while the Doctor muses over the validity of such activity. Leela also got a nice bit of violent dialogue when she promised to cut out the hearts of the shipwreck victims if they interfered with the Doctor's plans.
This is a fairly rare example of pure horror in the Doctor Who canon, and an excellent stab at the genre.
The only real problem I had with this was technical in the fact that the darker scenes, mixed with the mist, made it rather difficult to see what was going on.
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on 30 June 2005
This is a period drama with a bit of sci-fi added at the very end and none the less enjoyable for that. It has a similar feel to The Talons of Weng Chiang but obviously being set in and around a lighthouse has a much more claustrophobic feel to it. At times I was left wondering how it was possible to produce a decent plot given that the characters couldn't really miss each other in 4 rooms joined linearly by a spiral staircase but it just about all works in the end. The appearance of the Rutan in the final episode is a bit of a disappointment special-effects wise (especially after watching the new series) and it's a bit strange that the alien doesn't become Reuben again or some other suitable form as it seems to have great difficulty with the stairs!
Overall this is an enjoyable tale. The extras are good - especially the 45 min feature on Terrance Dicks. The feature commentary is very interesting and informative - they ramble all over the place, occasionally returning to the plot when something significant happens with a "Where are we now?" or "has that bit happened yet?" but there is lots of info about how the show came about and how Dr. Who was made in the '70s.
You could bemoan the fact that Tom Baker is not on the commentary, but it helps maintain his reputation as a mysterious character (both Tom and the Doctor!) and you probably wouldn't have heard the others describing his awkwardness in reheasal and on set.
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on 27 March 2010
After being effectively reintroduced to vintage 'Doctor Who' when I picked up the excellent 'The Brain of Morbius' DVD almost on a whim a couple of months ago, I keenly bought more vintage 'Who' DVDs, of which 'Horror of Fang Rock' was one.

Seeing as '...Fang Rock' was actually a last minute replacement story (the originally planned script, which would eventually become 'State of Decay' in 1980, involved vampires, but was aborted due to feelings it would clash with the Beeb's production of 'Dracula'), it actually ends up as a really good 1970s-era story, with only Part 3 feeling slightly stretched.

While no doubt too slow for young audiences accustomed to watered down single "fifty minutes and it's over" modern 'Who' stories, I love these vintage tales for allowing more depth, and think that (generally) multi-part episodes work much better for this.

The alien of the story is the jelly-like Rutan (of which we see only one); these are actually (otherwise unseen) enemies of the Sontarans, although you do not need to be familiar with any of the Sontaran episodes to enjoy 'Fang Rock'.
Naturally, coming from the tight budget, pre-CGI days of 1970s BBC, the Rutan looks very primitive by today's standards; the (many) sequences of it squelching up the lighthouse stairs are certainly a bit dodgy, but at the same time, it is not the worst '70s-era realisation of a monster, not by a long shot. Besides, as with all good vintage 'Who', the story is strong enough carry the weaker effects off.

The sound, considering it's from ancient 1970s mono, is extremely clear. The picture is mostly good, though I did notice some camera interference during Part 2, present on the original, which is still evident.

The one thing I was a little let down with regarding the DVD, was the features. Not with the quality of the features that ARE included, but typical 'Who' DVD releases at least feature a retrospective look back at the making of the particular story, but there is no such feature with 'Fang Rock'.
We do get a nice (and deserving) 36 minute feature looking at the extensive work of story writer Terrance Dicks, though it only makes brief inclusion of 'Fang Rock'.
The other main feature is with Paddy Russell, show runner for several 'Who' stories. This one goes into a bit more depth regarding 'Fang Rock', and interestingly she considers it a rather weak story.

While these two features are nice, I did feel they could have been easily at home on any number of other vintage 'Who' DVDs. The third main feature is an Antiques Roadshow-style short looking at some of the merchandise, made in 1993. This sounded very promising, but at just 4 minutes, I found it to be to be pointlessly short, and - with no direct connection to 'Fang Rock' - it seems to be included just as a filler.

There is the standard in-episode trivia track, which I always love, and audio commentary (which as per usual I've yet to listen to), but the only other feature is a bog-standard picture gallery. Bearing in mind some of the wonderful features on other 'Who' DVDs, I felt a bit let down by the ones of this release.

But all-in-all, this is a great 'Who' story. I'm not qute giving it a perfect 5 mostly due to the unusually disappointing extras, but even so, if you are a vintage 'Who' fan, I recommend 'Horror of Fang Rock' for your collection.
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on 13 January 2009
Script, performances and sets are above the Who average but not as good as the very best, such as Genesis of The Daleks, Pyramids of Mars etc.
What puts this right up there is the constant air of claustrophobic menace which is quite different to any other episode. It shows what true professionals can do even when hampered by budget constraints and primitive special effects.
Horror of Fang Rock is, in my view, far superior to modern Who; CGI and modern effects are superficially impressive but the new version is largely flat, lifeless and has far too much emphasis on main character inter-relationships (who cares). It also has an unpleasant streak of political correctness.
I'll stick to primitive but authentic 70s Who like Fang Rock that built the fanbase that kept the series alive.
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on 29 June 2008
One of my fav Tom Baker stories! It's early 20th century Lighthouse setting and gothic atmosphere juxtaposes well with the scifi elements.
A clear example of studio sets, and fog machines working REALLY well!
Eerily reminiscent of such movies as Tower Of Evil, Day Of The Triffids (lighthouse scenes), The Island Of Terror and even John Carpenter's The Fog AND The Thing!!
If you prefer the Earthbound stories (I do),then you will like this 1977 production.
If you've seen the recent Sontaran story, in the latest series, you will have heard mention of the Sontaran war with the Rutans - want to see a Rutan?? Then this is the place as the shapeshifting beastie picks off people one by one (in true Alien fashion!). An unusual design, when finally revealed - reminded me of the brain monsters from 1958's Fiend Without A Face.
Decent extras, and audio/visual quality.
Classic Baker; along with Planet Of Evil, Pyramids Of Mars and Genesis Of The Daleks.
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on 25 June 2009
Horror of Fang Rock is superbly atmospheric and genuinely chilling. Even though the pace is more sedate than other Doctor Who serials this doesn't detract from the fact that it is great. The performances and script are intriguing and there is one laugh out loud moment when Leela wants to kill one of the cast. Superb stuff.
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on 21 July 2013
As a child of the seventies Tom Baker IS my Doctor Who. My first foray into the world of the Doctor came in '76, when, left alone one Saturday teatime in the living room I sat through as much as I could handle of episode four of The Hand of Fear before running, terrified, through to the kitchen to 'help' my mum with the washing up! That experience so scared me I didn't tune in again for three years. I, therefore, missed Horror of Fang Rock upon its original transmission - the mere title would have been enough to put me off. But, now, as a middle-aged father with boys who love the revamped series I am doing my utmost to familiarise them with 'classic' Who, MY Who. And, apart from that, it gives me a great opportunity to finally watch some of the stories I missed as a child. HOFR has long intrigued me; it is judged to be one of the all-time greats. And, having finally seen it, I have to agree. Everything's there - if you're an eight year old: the isolated lighthouse, the murderous alien, the local legend of something nasty in the fog. And, of course, Tom! Who could ask for more (no pun intended). I loved it. However, I do accept that the old format - four twenty-five minute episodes - might prove just a little too much for today's 'must-have-everything-now' kids. All in all then, a wonderful piece of nostalgia. Forget the kids, just settle back with this and a bottle of wine.
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on 31 May 2012
An appropriate review title,considering the following comment:-

Why oh why can't people SPELL PROPERLY??? The spelling in two reviews for this great Baker story is appalling!
I quote....."TOM BAKER going what he did all the time , it's ok . Not his best but he makes if a true Dr. WHO story" Ok,easy to mistype i s'pose, but this one is absolutely hilarious..."This story is quite dark in my opinion.Though it keeps you griped to your seet". GRIPED TO YOUR SEET!!?? I've read a lot of reviews on Amazon, and this seems to be common practice. Maybe i'm too picky but at least i can smell!!!! ;-)

ANYWAY.....i do like this atmospheric story. Tom's on form,as per,and the other characters and claustrophobic setting,combined with a good story and script, make it enjoyably entertaining. Not up there with Genesis of the Daleks, Robots of Death and The Talons of Weng-Chiang(which i whole-heartedly recommend), but good classic Who just the same! The extras are interesting. Terrance Dicks-what a clever,creative guy! We were so very lucky to have his important involvement in the "classic" series. All in all, a worthy addition to your "Who" dvd collection.
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on 18 March 2008
The Fourth Doctor so well played by Tom Baker and sexy sidekick Leela played by Louise Jameson. Travel back to victorian times to Fang Rock which has a lighthouse built on it with a raged crew. This is a brilliant atmospheric story all the better with good solid performances. The set is also very good by the then lacklustere BBC norm of the era and set the story. When the Doctor arrives he is confronted by a terrified lighthouse crew who are vanishing one by one. Then mid way through the story a ship crashed into Fang Rock and the crew are rescued through the thick green fog to the lighthouse. More people die and the Doctor finally realises that the green light that was seen was in fact a crashed space ship. Suffice to say the monster finally emerges and tries to kill the rest of the crew. The green glowing blob of a monster is a Rutan which was shot out of space by a Sontaran ship during there war. The Doctor manages to stop it and leaves in the Tardis just in the nick of time. The special features are extensive and are well worth the purchase for this alone.
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on 18 March 2014
Yes one of my favourite's from the past. Great to have it on DVD . Wonderful atmosphere created by the set team
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