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I. Kirby (Brighton, UK)

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"Torchwood": Asylum (BBC Audio)
"Torchwood": Asylum (BBC Audio)
by Anita Sullivan
Edition: Audio CD
Price: £9.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Better than most TV episodes, 6 Sept. 2009
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
The recent, marvellous, third series of Torchwood on TV was justly critically acclaimed and while this radio drama's not quite up to that dazzling standard it knocks the socks off most of the episodes broadcast in the first two. The ironically quite juvenile fixation on 'adult' subject matter is thankfully missing, but as this play was designed to be broadcast in the afternoon that's not a massive surprise. Instead we have a more genuinely grown-up story revolving around mysterious urchin Freda, which focuses on how Torchwood's usually gung-ho approach to things can occasionally compromise human (or otherwise) rights. It's greatly in the play's favour that by far the most interesting member of Torchwood, Gwen Cooper (Eve Myles) is firmly at the centre of things here along with her lovable policeman friend Andy (Tom Price, in a far bigger role than he's ever had in the TV show). John Barrowman gets little more than a cameo role as Captain Jack, while Gareth David Lloyd's Ianto has even less than that. This is a really enjyable, thought-provoking way to spend 45 minutes - and what's more it even includes some intriguing revelations abut the Torchwood organisation itself whih will hopefully be followed up if the show returns to TV...

The Flesh And Blood Show [1972] [DVD]
The Flesh And Blood Show [1972] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Jenny Hanley
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.69

8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Dreary early Pete Walker horror, 17 Oct. 2008
Director Pete Walker's cult status rests mainly on the trio of marvellous satirical horror films he made in the mid-70s with screenwriter David McGillivray - House of Whipcord, Frightmare and House of Mortal Sin. The Flesh and Blood Show is one of his earlier stabs at the genre, and isn't a patch on those. Probably the best thing about the film is its wonderfully gloomy out-of-season pier setting. Sadly, there's not much else to be said for it. The plot: Young members of an experimental drama group rehearsing at the pier are being offed one by one by a mysterious killer. I won't spoil the who and why, but it makes so little sense and is so tortuously revealed that the whole thing becomes a chore.

Confusingly, though there's an announcement abut the film's 3D scene at the beginning, in the film itself on this DVD it's just in black and white. You can watch it as a bonus feature though, as long as you have your own 3D glasses, Odeon not having stumped up for any. It's no great shakes, though, consisting mainly of Patrick Barr shouting and gesturing (why people would want to see that in the miracle of three dimensions is anybod's guess, and it seems to go on forever), and the 3D itself is pretty underwhelming too.

It's all rather a disappointment, and only really worth paying out for if you're a Pete Walker or Britsploitation completist.

The Uncanny/The Monster/Hands Of The Ripper (Box Set) [DVD] [1971]
The Uncanny/The Monster/Hands Of The Ripper (Box Set) [DVD] [1971]
Dvd ~ Eric Porter
Offered by PREMIER-ONE
Price: £31.99

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic? Or just old?, 17 May 2004
The word 'classic' is enormously overused, a bit like the word 'icon'. Only one of the 3 movies in this boxset comes close to deserving the epithet: Hammer's stylish psycho-sexual thriller Hands of the Ripper. It's the story of Jack the Ripper's daughter, compelled by forces unknown to repeat her father's cycle of murder. The psychology's all a bit heavy-handed, but the film benefits from a great cast, led by Eric Porter and Angharad Rees, and Peter Sasdy's intelligent direction. Proof positive that Hammer had more to offer in the 1970s than just lesbian vampires.
The Monster, originally known by the great schlock title I Don't Want to Be Born, is also directed by Sasdy. But it's an absolutely ludicrous movie with loose woman Joan Collins being cursed by a dwarf and giving birth to a killer baby. It sounds more enjoyable than it is. Donald Pleasance turns up in one of his many horror bit-parts, and the now hugely respected Eileen Atkins plays the nun who saves the day. Bet she leaves this movie off her CV. However, anything with Joanie in has got to be worth enduring.
Finally, The Uncanny. Producer/writer Milton Subotsky, who initiated a seemingly endless series of anthology horror films at Amicus, continued to make them even after that company went belly-up. This is a UK-Canada co-production starring Peter Cushing as a man who hates cats. Not surprisingly he's the best thing in the film, as he tells a barely-alive Ray Milland three stories to prove the evil in all felines. I had fond memories of this movie from seeing it on TV as a kid, but actually it's rubbish. The first story's the best, with Joan Greenwood as a cat-lover whose pets avenge her after she's killed by Susan Penhaligon. The second, incredibly boring story is all Canadian and features a girl with a murderous imaginary cat-friend. And the third's a rubbish Poe rip-off with Donald Pleasance and Samantha (The Brood) Eggar.
This set's worth buying just for Hands of the Ripper, but the other films are really just for UK horror movie completists (that would be me then).
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 17, 2015 8:58 PM BST

Theatre Of Blood [DVD]
Theatre Of Blood [DVD]
Dvd ~ Vincent Price
Price: £5.00

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alas, poor Lionheart, 9 Dec. 2002
This review is from: Theatre Of Blood [DVD] (DVD)
One of the blackest black comedies I've ever seen. Vincent Price is characteristically OTT as the terrible Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart, and Diana Rigg gives a touching performance as his fanatically devoted daughter Edwina. Together they cook up a plan (along with a load of old meths drinkers- and why not) to slaughter the critics who panned him during his lifetime (did I mention he'd faked his death?)
The cold hearted critics are played by a roll call of Great British Character Actors- Harry Andrews, Arthur Lowe, Coral Browne, Ian Hendry, Michael Hordern, Robert Morley, Jack Hawkins, Dennis Price and Robert Coote. Watching Price and his accomplices gleefully butcher them in bizarre Shakespeare-derived ways is great macabre fun. You could say the film's not much more than a string of gruesome deaths, and you'd be right. It is a bit lacking in plot and it's best viewed as a sequence of terrific set pieces.
Oddly, it seems as if the revelation of Edwina's involvement in her father's scheme is meant to be a surprise, so Diana Rigg spends most of the film wearing a false moustache and doing a deep voice. But that's nothing compared to seeing Vincent Price as a gay afro-headed hairdresser called Butch. Cinema doesn't get much more bizarre. Although the DVD's a bit cheap (a wonky trailer's the only special feature), it's still highly recommended. It's even got Diana Dors in it.

Hammer House Of Horror - Complete Collection [DVD] [1980]
Hammer House Of Horror - Complete Collection [DVD] [1980]
Dvd ~ Peter Cushing
Price: £8.10

30 of 38 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wipe your feet on the way in, 9 Dec. 2002
Welcome to the Hammer House of Horror. Like any anthology series it's a bit of a mixed bag. There are some good stories and there are some less good stories. Despite the name, it's not much like Hammer horror at all- with their contemporary settings the episodes are more like extended versions of the stories from those old Amicus anthology films.
That's one of the show's biggest problems- most of the stories don't really justify their hour length, and come across as grotesquely padded. A half hour slot like Tales of the Unexpected would have been better. Actually Hammer House of Horror is very reminiscent of that show at times, except the 'twist' endings are usually a hell of a lot more obvious. Also, what with the show dating from 1980, the most horrific thing on display is usually the fashions. And the wallpaper.
But despite all this, it's actually a lot of fun. There's a good mix of different stories, usually pretty well written, and amazing casts of great British character actors. A lot of the stories have moments of real tension and shock- like in 'The House That Bled to Death', where a pipe bursts showering a children's party with blood: an unforgettable image.
My favourites: the Dead of Night-influenced 'Rude Awakening' with Denholm Elliott as a seedy estate agent trapped in a never-ending nightmare; the old-fashioned and brilliantly eerie werewolf tale 'Children of the Full Moon', featuring Diana Dors being sinister in a grey wig; and best of all, the darkly comic 'The Thirteenth Reunion' with mysterious goings-on at a weight loss clinic. It's like Fat Friends meets The League of Gentlemen.
The DVDs aren't overflowing with extras, but they're very nicely packaged, and are definitely recommended to anyone who likes distinctly British horror.

The Greatest Hits
The Greatest Hits
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £5.30

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Feeling Glad All Over, 9 Sept. 2002
This review is from: The Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
On the whole, I don't think Gladys and the boys' work at Buddha is quite as brilliant as the best of their Motown material ('I Wish it Would Rain', 'Didn't You Know', 'Neither One of Us', 'All I Need is Time', etc.), but this disc still features some amazing songs. The only track I'm really not keen on is 'The One and Only', with that ridiculous guitar. But the others are all sheer soul classics, from the tearful balladry of 'Best Thing That Ever Happened' to the jaunty sing-along-a-heartbreak of 'Baby Don't Change Your Mind'. Personal favourite though has to be 'It's a Better Than Good Time': Gladys as disco diva! Fantastic.

Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.38

2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Make it easy on your se-wah-welf..., 4 Sept. 2002
This review is from: Carpenters (Audio CD)
This was the first Carpenters album I bought. The opening track is 'Rainy Days and Mondays', to my mind a strong contender for the title of Best Song Ever, so I was immediately hooked. Track 2, 'Saturday' was a bit of a shock, though. That's not Karen's voice! No, it's Richard's. I wasn't impressed by the two Richard-led numbers here (the other is 'Druscilla Penny'), but they're not THAT bad after a few listens, and there is plenty of Karen's amazing voice to enjoy here. As well as 'Rainy Days' highlights are the brilliant 'Superstar'- it's impossible not to sing along to that chorus- and 'Let Me Be the One', written by Paul Williams and Roger Nichols who were responsible for 'Rainy Days' and 'We've Only Just Begun'. The big let-down is the Bacharach and David medley, which I had high hopes for bearing in mind 'Close to You'. Well, 'Knowing When to Leave' is pretty good- probably because it's not that familiar- but the others veer toward the unintentionally hilarious, especially 'Walk on By' which seems inappropriately cheerful. On the whole though it's a decent enough album, but I wouldn't say it's essential. Altogether now, 'Don't you remember you told me loved me baby...'

Carpenters Gold: Greatest Hits
Carpenters Gold: Greatest Hits
Offered by DVDMAX-UK
Price: £14.95

32 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfection in a quite imperfect world, 4 Sept. 2002
There is nothing cool about liking the Carpenters. They are one of the squarest bands in history. Even Karen's tragic death isn't really very rock & roll. This doesn't change the fact that they were responsible for some of the most beautiful pop music ever, and this disc has a pretty good selection of that music. Sure they can be twee, as with 'Sing' and their sickly version of 'Please Mr Postman', but songs like 'Goodbye to Love' & 'I Need to be in Love' make up for this by just being so heartbreakingly gorgeous. In Richard and Karen's hands, 'We've Only Just Begun' transforms from a saccharine advertising jingle into something truly inspiring, while 'Close to You' changes from a so-so Bacharach and David number to a song that retains its spine-tingling loveliness despite being so over-used everywhere.
'Lovely' is the word that really sums up the Carpenters' music. Karen possessed one of the most uniquely haunting voices there will ever be, and it is destined to live forever. For me the most wonderful moments here are 'Superstar', with its irresistible sing-along chorus, and 'Rainy Days and Mondays', which sums up the experience of depression better than any song I've heard. And as for 'Calling Occupants', well what better greeting could we give to extra-terrestrials than the sound of Karen Carpenter? Sheer magic. Buy it.

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