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An Ancient Skull, A Secret Cult, Mad Scientists, A Creepy Mansion & Slimy Monsters!!!!
on 2 May 2009
Yet another Gothic style Baker story - this perhaps does not reach the same heights as Horror Of Fang Rock, Talons Of Weng Chiang and certainly not Pyramids Of Mars but is still easily the best of the current releases.
There's good atmosphere, effective sets and in terms of available resources some reasonable FX. Tom Baker is walking on water here with great use of balanced humour, good adlibbing and real chemistry with Louise Jameson who looks VERY fetching in this story! All the actors are well cast here actually, and the show is refreshingly free of some of the hammy acting that often afflicts supporting Who cast members.
Yes, there is a strong Quatermass & The Pit influence, as well as Peter Cushing horror pictures such as The Creeping Flesh and Horror Express in terms of ancient evil with a scientific origin.
Lots's of dark corridors, white lab coats & 70's style scientific equipment to boot, also recalling The Island Of Terror again with Cushing.
The Fendalheen creatures weren't too bad actually - the giant ones were nowhere near as poor as say the myrrkha in Warriors Of The Deep, and the smaller ones were at least as good as those creepy maggots in The Green Death.
There was one great scene early on that reminded me of the black & white Curse Of The Demon with Dana Andrews, where a character is pursued by an evil presence in fog cloaked woodlands - very atmospheric. The actual exterior location is the same as in Pyramids Of Mars, I think.
The only factors that deny 5 stars are that firstly the Fendahl have a slightly muddled back story, and I personally felt the ending was a little underwhelming. What I did like was the twists involved such as bad guys that turn out to not really be the bad guys etc. Also the DVD is a bit on the light side extras wise. The documentary is a bit short and lacking in technical detail as well as any sort of contribution from Tom B himself - still Louise Jameson does her best to compensate.+
So really 4 stars for the story itself, with one knocked off for slightly dissapointing DVD extras compared to other releases.
Oh, and look out for Coronation Street's Don Brennan!
Definitely one for people who like 'Gothic Who' as well as Quatermass and 70s TV classics like Children Of The Stones...