The Vault Of Horror: Creepy Comics From The Cellar

When Darkness Falls, Beware!

For In Those Night Hours, Brad Trips Over His Comics Collection… ūüėČ

“You ask me to explain why I am afraid of a draught of cool air; why I shiver more than others upon entering a cold room, and seem nauseated and repelled when the chill of evening creeps through the heat of a mild autumn day” – H. P. Lovecraft.

This month – in preparation for¬†Halloween –¬†we will be taking a special look at¬†horror.

The nights draw in;¬†no matter, for we descend into the darkest domain¬†@¬†Brad Manor –¬†where even me minions dare not tread…

Despite not being much of a horror comics fan,¬†several¬†rather creepy mags¬†still¬†lurk in these musty –¬†Blimey! Get a loada’ the cobwebs down ‘ere! –¬†corners¬†of my gaff.

One British title, in particular, comes to gleeful and nostalgic mind.

During March 1984, my weekly editions of Battle Action Force (produced by IPC Magazines, more famous for the longest-running SF comic: 2000AD) ran increasingly intriguing ads for a forthcoming horror comic. 

Couldn’t wait?

You’re telling me! ‘Twas like enticing me with cake…

Greetings, mortals! I am the once-human editor of this gruesome publication. If you horrors out there want to read something really spooky, you’ve picked the right paper…” – Ghastly McNasty.¬†

Will always remember reading and¬†re-reading that first ish of¬†Scream.¬†Waiting for the¬†“Second Spine-Chilling Issue”¬†turned out to be the longest week of my life!¬†

Let me tell you why: 

The opening story: The Dracula File could so easily have been skipped Рthe Count is the most overused/recycled horror character, but this version entranced me from the get-go, especially as it is illustrated by Eric BRADbury (one of my fav artists from Battle Action Force) and a tense script by Gerry Finley-Dey (another Battle and 2000AD regular) interestingly set in the 1980s, against Cold War politics.

A “defector” flees across the East German border,¬†surviving a hail of machine-gun bullets and manages to be transported to a military hospital in¬†Britain.¬†Colonel Stakis, at first sceptical, sets off in pursuit, wary of the realization that he may very well be dealing with the Prince of Darkness himself.¬†He cannot inform the authorities in the West of his “unholy” mission, while they, in turn, are exceedingly dischuffed at having a¬†KGB operative¬†lurking freely around the back streets of¬†London.

It’s a compelling thriller, gifted with some amazing surreal moments,¬†especially¬†Drac¬†seeking sanctuary at… a fancy dress party!¬†

He drains the blood of Harry the Gorilla and seduces Cinderella Рnot even Christopher Lee could boast that! 

“Poor devil – I bet it’s been like a nightmare for him. But he’s defected safely – he’s got a whole new life ahead of him in Britain…” – Nurse Nightingale.¬†

(The Dracula File received a much-welcome reprint in a hardback collection published in October 2017) 

 

“That cough of yours is getting worse, Nathaniel! It’s time you prepared for the final journey. Pay me now in advance, and I’ll bury you at half my normal price!” – Joshuah Sleeth. ¬†

For me, by far the outstanding story of every issue was Tales From The Grave, 2 or 3-part chillers set in the early 19th century, narrated by The Leper who described the various spine-chilling background stories laced with all the period detail you could eat.

Although Jim Watson’s¬†“untidy” artistic style divided comic fans (especially in my school playground!)¬†he lent the ideal, twisted gothic touch to this series;¬†the grisly opening 4-parter:¬†The Undertaker¬†proved to be a clever tale of murder, deception and intrigue.¬†At its (devilish) heart¬†loomed¬†Joshuah Sleeth,¬†“an evil beggar alright,” as The Leper explained. “If yer needed a helpin’ hand into the next world, so ter speak, he was always ready to give it…”

The Cabbie And The Hanging Judge is also rather effecting, but, on this relatively mild autumn eventide, the very thought of Willard Giovanna RIP makes me shiver.

One day, whilst The Leper is digging with his old mate¬†Finley,¬†a gentlemen dressed in “old-fashioned clobber,”¬†enquires to the site of one¬†Willard Giovanna.¬†Finley¬†pipes up and directs him over to a rather untended grave.

“You crafty coot, Finley!” the Leper whispers, “Yer after the tuppenny tip he’ll be offerin’!”

Thereafter, a macabre plan to exhume the remains¬†is set into action that very night.¬†Restin’ his achin’ bones awhile,¬†Finley¬†happens to glance at the nametag in the gent’s fine coat:¬†Willard Giovanna! ‘Tis the same name as on the stone – the gent’s diggin’ up his own grave!”

Sure enough, when Finley resumes this unspeakable exercise, he finds the coffin, and opens it to find it empty, except for a letter –¬†“an’ Saints preserve us!” –¬†addressed to him!¬†

Dear Finley, 

Here is your payment as agreed for digging up my coffin. A similar payment will arrive for you each month if you keep my grave in good order. Then there will be no need for me to return!

Yours,

W. Giovanna.

And with that, the startled Finley turned around to get the shock of his life: Willard Giovanna had turned into a rotting corpse. 

This tale left me not so much fearful but fascinated: how do horror writers concoct such amazing stuff?! 

In addition, a different story appeared every week¬†in a¬†series entitled:¬†Library of Death.¬†Beware The Werewolf!¬†was a great crime-caper drawn by yet another great artist we lost far-too-soon:¬†Steve Dillon;¬†Spiders Can’t Scream¬†presented the terrifying consequences reserved¬†for¬†evil treasure-seekers who wipe out ancient civilizations in the South American jungle;¬†the 2-part Sea Beast¬†offered a freaky variant on the Don’t-go-into-the-water theme;¬†while particular moody fav¬†Ghost Town¬†features ill-fated present-day car-drivers pitting their wits – and rifles – against Wild West ghouls who are always far too quick on the draw!¬†

But the story that started it all off: Ghost House became an¬†instant classic¬†due to such spine-chilling art¬†supplied by the¬†always-reliable¬†Cam Kennedy,¬†then blowing me socks orf on 2000AD’s Rogue Trooper.¬†His nameless ghoul (almost!) made even Brad’s flesh crawl – check out that grisly beckoning hand! (see below!)

“They thought they were too old to enter the house. They were wrong. No-one is too old… and¬†no-one is too young! Age does not concern those who dwell in the¬†Ghost House” – The Nameless One.

Apart from a handful of Holiday Specials, Scream comic never got a 16th issue…

Popular belief maintained that irate parents demanded the publication’s closure after giving their children countless nightmares.

The truth, it seems, is rather more mundane. 

A printers strike at IPC Magazines affected half a dozen titles. Unfortunately, the one title NOT resumed post-crisis happened to be the one yours truly most craved every week!

Bah!

Over the last three decades, however, Scream comic has attained a richly-deserved cult status, with reprints now becoming widely available.

 

English horror didn’t vanish with the fog and gas-lit cobblestones at the end of the Victorian era. Riveting, spine-chilling stuff” –¬†Alan Moore.¬†

Hellblazer used to be one helluva haunting read.

This series – part of Vertigo:¬†DC’s “Suggested For Mature Readers” range –¬†kickstarted my¬†DC – and, to a certain extent, Marvel – revival in 1988.¬†

Offering¬†eloquent, yet disturbing, forays into the crass, yuppie-driven, Thatcherite terrors of ’80s London – as if the dirt, grime and lousy English weather was not enough! – the scintillating, and yet exceedingly creepy,¬†writing¬†by¬†Jamie Delano¬†helped me “escape” from the rigours of that school year (luckily, mercifully, my last).¬†Each issue appeared unmistakably graced with glorious cover art¬†by¬†Dave McKean;¬†the 1st issue’s collage (see above!) holds a reserved place in my Top 10 Best Comic Book Covers Ever.¬†

Co-created by Alan Moore, Stephen R. Bisette, and John Totleben, and based on Police frontman: Sting,  John Constantine is a heavy-smoking, obnoxious fella (from Liverpool) who just happens to know a fair bit of the occult and is continually haunted by the ghosts of friends he failed to protect.

Making his debut in¬†Moore’s Swamp Thing,¬†his own solo mag’s opening shocker:¬†“Hunger,”¬†dripping with voodoo – actually one of my least fav horror themes –¬†remains a gobsmacking gamechanger.

The first seven ishs offer a superb introduction to the work of British co-auteurs: Jamie Delano and John Ridgway, and would now be hailed as literary classics if they featured in anything other than the comics medium.  

Delano had this unfathomable¬†knack¬†of weaving bloodcurdling chills on one page,¬†and then¬†surprising you on the very next page with¬†the darkest rib-tickling humour!¬†Some marvelous descriptive text, and, complete with John’s trenchcoat, it all seemed rough and hard-boiled, not unlike a Dashiel Hammett novel,¬†except this dick had to deal with demons and diabolical dipwits‚Ķ¬†

And this writer sure¬†was glad that this title promised and delivered! – SHEER terror, and not that cockamamie terror – or halfassed terror – with which too many indie companies were wont to churn out back then…

Am fond of one particular, indelible moment:¬†in one episode,¬†Constantine¬†has to bail out of a London black cab,¬†unable to tolerate the driver’s incessant vile and xenophobic rants any further.¬†As he does so, said callous cabbie bristles:

“‘Ere! Don’ I get a tip?”¬†

“Yeah, it’s this: your mind is narrow and full of crap. I suggest you get a new one.”¬†

Attaboy, John! ūüôā

“…Bloody rain!¬†Bloody England!” Ha ha HA, yeah! Too bloody right, mate!¬† ūüėČ

“Pure reaction slams the door on the scuttling horror. I ought to just walk away and not come back. Jesus… Lord of the Bloody Flies, eh? I feel like I’ve had my share of bad craziness for a while. But like they say, you shouldn’t join if you can’t take a joke” –¬†John Constantine.

 

“Berni Wrightson really is the unquestioned master of the medium and that’s not just because the cover blurbs say so and because the field is about 95% saturated with superheroes… Oh,¬†Berni knows his grave-dirt all right… and while we huddle there, backs turned, eyes averted, minds set,¬†Berni pops up in front of us with his magic mirror and says “Boo!”” – Bruce Jones.

It is impossible to compile such a Post as this without featuring the extraordinary talent¬†of the¬†late, great¬†Bernie Wrightson –¬†arguably THE quintessential¬†horror comic artist.¬†

In fact, Pacific Comics gratefully collected some of his classic works in Berni Wrightson: Master Of The Macabre (only 5 ishs published during 1983).

He produced a suitably chilling ūüėČ adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cool Air,¬†as well as his own SF horror story: The Last Hunters,¬†a far-future saga in which an android hunter exterminates the last vestiges of humanity.¬†On a distant world… called Earth…

Who could ignore the malformed terror that is Jenifer, the sinister deception played on The Laughing Man or the heartrending beauty of Clarice?

But¬†my thirst for awesomeness would be well and truly slaked¬†with¬†The Muck Monster,¬†Berni’s moving version of Frankenstein, as told from the monster’s perspective.¬†

Oh, which of these seven sublime pages should Brad select?!

Ha, he cheated! And presents TWO.

Read with wonder, friends, for you will find this is not in the least bit horrific, nor is it particularly creepy; quite simply, this is a mighty fine example of this medium at its sumptuous and breathtaking best: 

“…But, Doctor, it’s the same dream. It doesn’t change!”¬†

“Even so, I’d like you to go over it once more.”¬†

“Okay, Doc… It started like before – with me losing my footing on the wall. I crash down to the ground… so hard that I break every bone in my body… Then the soldiers come and say there’s nothing they can do for me! I know the dream is going to come true! It’s a warning! I’m going to fall!”¬†

“Rubbish! I’ve told you before. If you want to stop this nightmare… you must stop reading these horror comics, Mr. Dumpty!”¬†

 

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The Feast From The East: Tales From The Cosmic Casbah

Something To Read With Relish

And Tempt The Taste Buds…¬†

Sinbad:¬†The dream I had, Rachid, this is all part of it somehow! We’ve been brought here by some mysterious force.¬†Is it not written that a wise man will try to realise his¬†dream, to follow it?”¬†

Rachid: “Some say it is through¬†dreams that¬†Allah speaks to mortal man… Captain! He who walks on fire will burn his feet…”¬†

The being “spontaneously generated” in a cave on a remote island, many parsecs off the Arabian coast. Seafarers discovered that stranger and brought him to Baghdad¬†where he described in intricate detail th countless worlds to be found beyond our own,¬†before the¬†Caliph¬†assured him that none of these realms could surpass the beauty of his own land and the glory of¬†Allah.

This is the synopsis for Theologus Autodidactus, written by Ibn Al-Nafis, dating from as early as the 13th century is believed (in some quarters) to be the earliest precursor of science fiction, although its curious contents lean more towards science-fantasy. 

The notion of Middle Eastern Science Fiction seems so unlikely,¬†compounded by the view¬†that¬†science and the proliferation of (new) ideas¬†conflict with the principles of Islamic ideology.¬†And yet there is so much more to this surprisingly burgeoning scene than it looks.¬†The recent successful SF and Fantasy Book Festival held in Abu Dhabi¬†highlighted what this unexpected region has¬†to offer –¬†most notably:

Iraq+100, a groundbreaking SF anthology that poses an intriguing challenge to contemporary Iraqi writers:

What might your home city look like in the year 2103 – exactly 100 years after the disastrous American and British-led invasion of Iraq?

And now there is the English translation of Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi. 

From the rubble-strewn streets of US-occupied Baghdad, Hadi the junk dealer collects human body parts and stitches them together in order to make the government grant them the proper burial they deserve. However, the corpse goes missing; soon, a wave of eerie murders sweeps the city, leading to reports of a horrendous-looking criminal who, though shot, cannot be killed. 

Hmm, not my cup of (cardamom) tea, this, but interesting to see how arguably the most famous classic SF/horror theme has inspired a uniquely Рnot to mention unlikely РMiddle Eastern variation.

“Two tablets brought forth to the light, yet a third remains from sight.

“A final place must still be found, a place that lies deep below the ground…” – The Oracle Of All Knowledge.¬†

Once upon a time, shortly after we moved to my childhood home, my parents let out our upstairs rooms to students attending the local university.¬†The vast majority of them hailed from¬†the Middle East.¬†So, fortunately, from a very young age, yours truly grasped the opportunity to savour the music, language, art, aromas, rugs and – Allah be praised! –¬†delicacies of distant domains.¬†

Thus,¬†fuelling¬†my imagination by gawping at various awesome adventures¬†such as¬†The 7th Voyage¬†of Sinbad¬†and – ah! ‘im again –¬†The Golden Voyage of Sinbad; and much later, stopping at nothing to acquire my own ornate antiquarian hardback edition¬†of¬†Tales From The Arabian Nights¬†(translated and annotated by Richard F. Burton – the definitive rendering) (1888) – plus acquiring a degree in Near Eastern Archaeology – Brad¬†was all set to trample all over such esteemed sites as Babylon, Nippur, Lagash¬†and Umm Dabaghiyah (umm-what?!)‚Ķ¬†until…

Mum¬†beseeched me not to go, fearing an escalation in tensions and violence in that region – ultimately, in sheer disbelief, yours truly witnessed/read about the¬†vandalism and destruction of Iraqi cultural heritage (during 2003-04) from the relative quiet and safety of Bangkok instead…

To accentuate this¬†scheherazade for the senses,¬†there will be light sprinklings of the¬†more exotic¬†platters that nestle deep within the jukebox @ Brad Manor –¬†all by the same combo who accompanied me on the streets of Manhattan, kept me occupied during those looong hours waiting at¬†Middle Eastern airports,¬†and inspired me to write both fiction and non-fiction during the Pre-Bradscribe Era @¬†a lovely seaside retreat on the Gulf of Thailand…¬†

“Flashing swords, leaping bandits, holy magic, bloodthirsty monsters, and sumptuous cuisine…¬†what more do you want me to do, draw you a map? Read this thing” – Scott Lynch.¬†

Throne Of The Crescent Moon (first published in¬†2012) is a¬†lush fantasy set in an alternate medieval Middle East. Doctor Adoulla Makhslood, the last real ghul hunter¬†of¬†Dhamsawatt, King of Cities, Jewel of Abassen¬†is¬†aching to retire –¬†presumably to spend lazy days¬†relaxing with copious cups of cardamom tea –¬† but a new threat of ghuls: zombie-like beings reanimated by evil sorcery,¬†more fearsome than any he has ever encountered,¬†brings him back into this¬†rather unusual fray.

Before setting out wholeheartedly to acquire a copy, my heart sank upon recalling my persistent Рalmost legendary Рinability to track down any potentially groovy novel that comes to my attention.

And yet!

Before you can say:¬†“Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel,”¬†the very tome of which we speak¬†managed to reach my grubby mitts,¬†for¬†a hardback copy indeed lay in wait at my nearest library!

The book itself has received¬†rave reviews¬†and its author,¬†Saladin Ahmed¬†happens to be the very same¬†Saladin Ahmed who contributed to the recent Star Wars Canto Bight anthology compendium and – my minions inform me – is now writing Spider-Man!¬†So far,¬†it is proving to be an engrossing read; like one reviewer remarks, it plays in your mind rather like¬†a¬†Ray Harryhausen fantasy –¬†high praise inseed!¬†

And why does the premise sound so intoxicating? 

Because it seems exactly like the sort of Arabesque swashbuckling fantasy adventure that Brad would write. Come to think of it, not so long ago, he DID attempt such a saga, whilst living near the beach a few years back Рinspired by my study of ancient seafaring.

Accounts by Arab writers of exotic eastern lands¬†can be dated as far back as the mid-9th century CE.¬†The earliest existing text:¬†the¬†Akhbar al-Sin wa’l-Hind¬†(unfortunately anonymous)¬†compiles stories from merchants who told of uncharted islands rife with pirates, troglodytes, headhunters¬†and¬†“beasts” more fantastic than anything¬†Magizoologist Newt Scamander encountered!¬†

More crucially,¬†this is where we first obtained those fantastical tales of¬†Sinbad,¬†that adventurous sailor who had to brave evil sorcerers, giant crabs and whatnot¬†WITHOUT the comfort of cardamom tea…!¬†

“He’s awake and listening to us. Sly little rascal. But royalty has need of slyness. And if he’s really the Kwisatz Haderach‚Ķ well… Sleep well, you sly little rascal. Tomorrow you’ll need all your faculties to meet my gom jabbar” – Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam.

Well, bless my Chicken Arabiatta!

It is¬†difficult to discuss this material without acknowledging¬†the HUGE impact of¬†Frank Herbert’s Dune.¬†

Exuding more pertinent geopolitical resonances in the 21st century than it ever could have managed on its initial publication in 1965, Herbert drew inspiration from the Bedou way of life, to create an elaborate desert culture: the Fremen, native inhabitants of the planet Arrakis, also known as Dune. 

For possibly the first time, numerous examples of¬†Middle Eastern terminology filterted into Western literature.¬†In their jihad against¬†House Harkonnen,¬†the Fremen launch razzia raids, wear aba and bourka robes, fear a “devil” named “Shaitan”¬†and so on.

Please click¬†here for¬†an expanded study of this landmark work, winner of both Hugo and Nebula Awards, and praised by¬†Arthur C. Clarke¬†for its¬†“depth of characterisation and¬†the extraordinary detail of the world it creates.¬†I know nothing comparable to it except¬†The Lord Of The Rings.”

“Is that the end… of all the races and civilizations, and the dreams of the world, to be able to leave a few stones buried beneath the sands, to tell the Dark that we were here?” – Niun.

Another SF series profoundly influenced by Middle Eastern themes came in the eclectic form of the Faded Sun Trilogy by C.J. Cherryh.

Set in the Alliance-Union universe,¬†Kesrith, Shon’Jir and¬†Kutath¬†each¬†chronicle the¬†Mri-Wars in this coming-of-age saga of Niun, the plucky protagonist.

The first volume¬†begins with the Regul having just concluded a forty-year war with humanity. As part of the peace, they are ceding the desert world of¬†Kesrith¬†to humanity. However, they have neglected to inform its inhabitants, the Mri, who have served them as mercenaries for over two thousand years.¬†These mercenaries¬†have been nearly exterminated in these wars, and young Niun is one of the few remaining warriors. When the Regul seek to double-cross his people, he and his sister¬†Melein,¬†the last of the priestly Sen caste, form an uneasy alliance with the human Sten Duncan¬†to rescue a holy relic that may hold the key to the Mri’s survival.

Despite being shortlisted for the Nebula Award in 1978 and the Hugo Award in 1979, this – and its two successors –¬†are among the most elusive SF series to track down in print!

Time to set¬†sail – for “every voyage has its own flavour”further east,¬†beyond the Pillars of Hercules,¬†across the azure Maha Thalassa¬†towards the enchanted shores of what¬†Persian seafarers called:¬†“Al-Hind”…

“Mighty Kali. Mightier than thou am I. Make obeisance to me…! Dance.¬†Dance for me!” – Khoura.¬†

 

“One of the five best SF novels ever written” – George R. R. Martin.

Why shouldn’t¬†India¬†have its own¬†panoply of science fiction tales?

Delve into the wondrous textures of Hindu mythology¬†and¬†it will not take you long¬†to¬†discover bizarre accounts¬†of¬†gods striking out of glistening cities in the clouds,¬†charging across the sky in “celestial chariots” firing bolts of lightning¬†against inhuman enemies…

So it comes as no surprise that Roger Zelazny drew extensively upon such myths to produce one of the SF greats: Lord of Light. 

A distant world where gods walk as men, but wield vast and hidden powers. Are they truly immortal? Who are these gods? Their names include Brahma, Kali, Krishna and also he who was called Buddha, the Lord of Light, but who now prefers to be known simply as Sam. 

Although it has not ascended to Dune-like heights of literary adulation and popularity,¬†Zelazny’s masterpiece is richly-conceived and plotted,¬†and¬†still widely-regarded by those who know¬†as a richly-crafted work, its curious yet compelling non-linear narrative lauded by other top contemporary SF authors.

Your foreign correspondent here¬†will endeavour to surge through this classic right now (for the unpteenth time) aided¬†by¬†a set of lamb biryani, with a bowl of naan chips, baked with cumin, coriander and kalonji seeds, (seasoned with Kashmiri spices and coconut – the way Brad likes ’em!) –¬†and a cup of cardamom tea, of course

Love, light and peace.

 

“There is that¬†about¬†them which repels… The trident of Shiva cuts a path through everything. But no matter how much he destroys, we raise up more against him. So he stands like a statue, uncreating storms we will not let end” – Tree Of Green Fire.¬†

“You pace the deck like a caged beast; for one who enjoys the hashish you should be more at peace…” – Sinbad.

 

Ant-Man And The Wasp: The Bradscribe Review

A Sting In The Tale 

“My initial reaction – do not tell Marvel! – was: “I don’t want to do a stupid superhero movie.” And my manager said: “Paul Rudd will be starring.” What…? It really intrigued me.¬†So¬†I watched some Marvel films and and I just thought what they were doing was so unique and fun” –¬†Evangeline Lilly.¬†

 

2018 will be remembered as the year of both billion-dollar buddies: Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.  

Such a shame that most people aren’t likely to recall Ant-Man And The Wasp.¬†

My main memory forever-entwined with this – the 20th instalment of the¬†Marvel Cinematic Universe –¬†will be the bonkers decision to delay it’s release in the UK cos we Brits were supposed to be too busy watching the World Cup to consider¬†donating to Disney.¬†

So was it worth the extra month’s wait?

Nah, not really. 

Ant-Man And The Wasp¬†is an adequate action/adventure SF yarn:¬†Little Big Man¬†(played as amiably as usual by¬†Paul Rudd)¬†has been on house arrest for the past two years enacting fantasy adventures around his gaff with his daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson).¬†If the entire movie looked¬†as awesome as their rad helter skelter,¬†this would be UP there with this year’s heavy-hitters, but in the end it didn’t leave me buzzing (arf, arf, arf!)¬†

Who is with me as regards the current banal state of huge, often nonsensical, summer blockbusters where the only reaction it incites involves nothing more than an indifferent shrug, and the (snide) comment:

“Yeah, the visual fx were amazing, but… ‚Ķ”?

In this case, size DOES matter.

“I can definitely phase through things. Absolutely loved every second of it… Creating even the style of how your character fights. Everyone has their own different style” – Hannah John-Kamen.¬†

Ant-Man And The Wasp is, at once, one of these fascinating, yet frustrating, movies.

This is best exemplified¬†by¬†the main antagonist:¬†Ghost –¬†a stunning character with a baffling matter-distorting (dis)ability that both enhances and hurts her.¬†Tragic backstory, cool costume (hey! gotta look good for that Funko Pop! figure), intense performance¬†(by¬†Hannah John-Kamen): all those boxes ticked off, but what ticked me off is how she¬†barely registers¬†on the wow-factor.¬†After the impressive upgrades in badassery such as: Hela, Erik Killmonger and – whisper him – Thanos,¬†it looks like the MCU has already settled back to presenting bland and instantly forgettable villains.¬†

Had expected (hoped?)¬†Evangeline Lilly’s Hope¬†to really come to the fore and steal all of Ant-Man’s scenes –¬†this is, after all, the first Marvel movie in TEN years to have a superheroine’s name in the title.¬†On the contrary,¬†with Daddy giving her directions while she’s obsessed with finding Mummy, this is hardly a resounding triumph for the¬†#Time’sUp¬†campaign.

Michelle Pfeiffer¬†looks great, but then, she always did.¬†No¬†seriously, if Janet Pym had been granted more substantial input, with tough and touching¬†dialogue¬†pivotal to the plot,¬†then yours truly would be more than happy to discuss Pfeiffer’s role rather than Pfeiffer’s looks.¬†Is this not the same¬†Janet Pym who was a founding member of the Avengers, even becoming their Chairman back in the ’80s?!¬†Her character deserves so much more than the scant attention afforded her here.

Watching¬†more substantial flashbacks of Janet¬†would¬†certainly be preferable to sitting through¬†“the three wombats” (as Hank so eloquently dissed them)¬†Honestly, why did they have to be brought back?!¬†Exclude Michael Pena,¬†and the other two completely unfunny (even Thanos garnered more giggles, fer cake’s sake!)¬†ethnic representatives = the movie would not be affected. In any way.

As it is, alas,¬†Michelle Pfeiffer appears in the briefest “remember me?” cameo,¬†and¬†can now state how proud she is “to be part of the MCU.”¬†Surely this is a classic case of: she IS big, it’s the pictures that got smaller…?¬†

“We start the movie and… I am not living a heroic life… We [Hank, Hope¬†and I]¬†are not on the best of terms because of what I put them through by going to Germany. Throughout the course of the film we’re starting to click and get cool with each other” – Paul Rudd.¬†

Despite grumpy ol’ Brad’s¬†angst for the ants¬†(you can’t tell by reading this,¬†but¬†Ant-Man is, actually, one of my all-time favourite comic characters, being among the very first to grab my attention back in the day)¬†there are still some groovy moments to savour¬†here:

a top secret lab complex that can shrink to resemble cabin baggage;¬†Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) locking ant-lers ūüėČ with former partner Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne);¬†the awe-inspiring minutiae of the Quantum Realm itself (those Tardigrades!!); the above chase scene,¬†and – oh yes – this reviewer finally got to behold a giant ant playing a drum kit (that’s another ambition to cross off the list – yay! ūüôā )

Speaking of¬†post-cred scenes,¬†could anybody tell me why¬†Scott¬†returned to the Quantum Realm AGAIN?¬†Yes, that’s right: my view – and concentration – became impaired by a steady stream of punters lurching towards the EXIT.¬†The sanctity of the modern MCU post-creds teaser counts for nuthin compared to the need to get out of that multi-storey car park first!

Intriguingly,¬†did¬†the Quantum Realm somehow spare Scott from the “Snapture”…?¬†

One more thing: 

after TWO Ant-movies, where oh where is¬†Adam And The Ants’ Antmusic¬†on the soundtrack?!¬†Come ON! Talk¬†about¬†opportunity missed!¬†

This is one of those movies that adequately helps pass the time, but¬†you won’t be tempted to race back to watch it again immediately.¬†

As for its position in the Bradscribe MCU Countdown?

Not in my Top 10, that’s for sure.¬†

Should have known that working up any eager ant-icipation (again) would lead to joy¬†as¬†miniscule¬†as Hank’s Dinky Toys collection.¬†

Only moderate insects appeal.

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

“I got something kinda BIG, but I don’t know how long I can hold it…”¬†

 

“Don’t tread on an ant
He’s done nothing to you
There might come a day
when he’s treading on you!

“Don’t tread on an ant
You’ll end up black and blue
Cut off his head
Legs come looking for you!

(chorus)
“So unplug the jukebox
and do us all a favour
That music’s lost its taste
so try another flavour
Antmusic”

 

“Exquisite, Absolutely Exquisite”: Just What The Doctor Ordered!

Ah-haaar! Loooong Scarf. Would You Like A Jelly Baby? Come On!

Costa: “Name and date of birth.”¬†
The Doctor: “Well how would I know? I don’t even know who he is yet.”¬†
Costa: “YOUR name and date of birth!”
The Doctor: “Oh well, I’m called the Doctor. Date of birth difficult to remember. Sometime quite soon, I think.”

My life changed on 1 September 1979. 

Destiny of the Daleks just happened to be the opening story of Doctor Who Season 11. 

For the next five years, my Saturday evenings became a magical time catching the cosmic Рsometimes Earthbound Рshenanigans of a dual-hearted Gallifreyan renegade in his Type 40 time capsule (better known as the TARDIS).

The programme’s effervescent mix of mayhem and monsters, humour and horror –¬†and jelly babies –¬†proved to be an irresistible delight.¬†To me, and twelve million other viewers.

EVERY Saturday evening.¬†(And this Saturday teatime is the ideal time to launch this Post! ūüėČ )

For those of you who believe that the time is right to delve into¬†Classic Who,¬†who better¬†to guide you through the best stories than someone who tried to alleviate¬†the inexorable¬†wait for that following weekend’s unmissable instalment¬†by¬†grabbing each ish of¬†Doctor Who Weekly¬†and,¬†using his own wardrobe for a TARDIS, accompanied by (cuddly) companions:¬†Jallo Bear and Teddy Edwards,¬†enacted his own adventures in time and space (imagination permitting!)¬†

It seems unbelievable now, but back then,¬†the producers simply could not select a suitable replacement for the very popular¬†Jon Pertwee¬†(the 3rd Doctor: 1970-1973).¬†Until¬†Barry Letts¬†and Terrance Dicks¬†(Producer and Script Editor respectively)¬†were captivated at the cinema by the evil sorcerer in¬†The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,¬†played by a little-known actor named¬†Tom Baker. At a meeting, where this actor discussed the morality in children’s literature,¬†the duo realised they had found the new Doctor.¬†

This regeneration’s distinctive “Bohemian and battered” look would¬†be¬†inspired by a portrait of Aristide Bruant by Toulouse-Lautrec.¬†A delightful misunderstanding caused¬†Begonia Pope¬†to use ALL the wool she had been given, resulting in the twelve-foot technicolour scarf¬†that has become the most iconic part of his wardrobe.

Despite a mixed reaction – “too silly,” or “too crazy” cried some of the dissenters – Baker¬†swiftly transformed this Gallifreyan into a national institution.¬†Once again, Doctor Who¬†triumphed at exacting what secured its status as the longest-running SF series: its boundless capacity for change.

For me,¬†the 4th Doctor¬†IS the Doctor, not just because he was my first to watch, but with his large eyes, imposing height, riot of curly hair, that toothsome grin,¬†his amusing penchant for shouting:¬†“Ah-haaar!” and “Come on!” in almost every episode (in that rich and renowned voice of his!),¬†his cool loping gait¬†–¬†and jelly babies – he actually exuded an “otherworldly” nature that no other actor in the role has managed to recreate.

From his debut story: Robot (28 December 1974 – 18 January 1975), THIS is the definite article, you might say:

The Doctor: “You’re improving, Harry!”

Harry Sullivan: “Am I really?”

The Doctor: “Yes! Your mind is beginning to work! It’s entirely due to my influence of course; you musn’t take any credit…”

The 4th Doctor’s first three seasons (12-14)¬†were exceptionally produced by¬†Philip Hinchcliffe –¬†widely regarded by fans as the Golden Age of¬†Doctor Who.

Despite Robot resembling a stock Jon Pertwee adventure, Ark In Space (25 January Р15 February 1975), The Sontaran Experiment (22 February Р1 March 1975), Genesis Of The Daleks (8 March Р12 April 1975), and Revenge of the Cybermen (19 April Р10 May 1975) remain such well-crafted SF masterworks, (all now available on Blu-ray!)

Moreover, the 4th Doctor was truly blessed to be joined by arguably his best-ever companions: UNIT Surgeon-Lieutenant Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter) and Sarah Jane Smith (Elisabeth Sladen). 

Sarah Jane (still the longest-serving companion) had first wandered into the TARDIS at the beginning of Season 11; Harry, on the other hand Рregrettably Рfared less well. A much older actor Рharking back to the Hartnell years Рhad been the original intention to play the 4th Doctor, with Harry drafted in to manage the more physical, feisty moments. However, when it became all-too-apparent that Tom Baker could more than take care of himself, the Surgeon-Lieutenant was soon written out. This is a pity, as Baker and Marter shared an amazing chemistry together onscreen.  

Season Th13teen¬†got off to a rip-roaring start¬†with Harry’s swansong:¬†Terror of the Zygons¬†(30 August – 20 September 1975): a taut tale of tartan and teeth¬†written by Robert Banks Stewart.¬†Good to see the return of Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart¬†(even if his appearance in a kilt looks more terrifying than your average Zygon!)¬†Particularly impressive is the sinister performance¬†of¬†John Woodnutt¬†as the Duke of Forgill – there’s much more to him than meets the eye! ūüėȬ†Okay, so the model effects for the Skarasen¬†(better known as the¬†Loch Ness Monster) always look cringingly bad, the quality of the script and the quickening of the pace leaves a lot of NuWho to be desired.¬†

Of course, cliffhangers added extra excitement to Classic Who. NuWho, in its mundane way, deals in self-contained stories, so no place for cliffhangers! Some rather clever episode-closers can be seen between 1974-81; most notably, one of the very best Рcited by most Classic Who fans as the scariest Рis this from Terror of the Zygons first episode: 

The Brigadier:¬†“You get on well with the landlord, don’t you?”

RSM Benton: “Well, yes, sir. I suppose I do.”

The Brigadier:¬†“Well, use your influence to get him to play the pipes when we’re out, will you?”¬†

During the mid-’70s,¬†Doctor Who¬†continued to try the patience of the BBC – and the dreaded National Viewers’ Association –¬†infusing gothic horror¬†into the sci-fi,¬†with mechanical Egyptian mummies¬†lumbering around English forests in¬†Pyramids of Mars¬†(25 October – 15 November 1975);¬†The Brain of Morbius¬†(3 – 24 January 1976)¬†is¬†such an obvious copy¬†of¬†Frankenstein;¬†the ecological terror¬†of¬†The Seeds of Doom¬†(31 January to 6 March 1976);¬†the¬†occult and sacrificial subplots in¬†The Masque of Mandragora¬†(4 – 25 September 1976); and is there anything not creepy about¬†The Hand of Fear¬†(2 – 23 October 1976)?

Unfortunately, the violence featured during¬†The Deadly Assassin (30 October – 20 November 1976)¬†proved too deadly, and caused¬†Hinchcliffe to be “transferred” to another programme.

The next three seasons (15-17) would be supervised¬†by¬†Graham Williams;¬†and although, in some cases, diminishing production values would show through (no thanks to a technicians’ strike crippling the BBC during the late-’70s)¬†some great stories would still be produced.

The Doctor: “Now which box is larger?”
Leela: “That one.”
The Doctor: “But it looks smaller.”¬†
L
eela: “Well, that’s because it’s further away.”
The Doctor: “Exactly. If you could keep that exactly that distance away and have it here, the large one would fit inside the small one.”
L
eela: “That’s silly.”¬†
The Doctor: “That’s transdimensional engineering, a key Time Lord discovery.”¬†

The Robots of Death (29 January Р19 February 1977) is the fifth serial of the 14th season, written by Chris Boucher. 

Essentially a murder-mystery set onboard¬†a¬†mining vessel,¬†it boasted the most incongruously lavish (and outlandish!) costumes ever seen on any show from that decade.¬†But it’s those intricately designed Voc robots,¬†with their mellifluous voices,¬†and¬†sporting an uncanny resemblance to the ancient Chinese terracotta army, that linger long in the memory.¬†These robots were THAT CLOSE to appearing in¬†my recent celebration of robots,¬†but their place is rightfully deserved here.¬†

This is the story in which¬†Leela –¬†the feisty warrior-woman played by¬†Louise Jameson –¬†asks the Doctor how the TARDIS can be bigger on the inside…

Season 16 (1978-79)¬†turned out to be an ambitious story-arc for new Producer:¬†Graham Williams¬†to exert his influence.¬†The six fragments to the Key To Time¬†lay scattered across the universe;¬†and the¬†Doctor – accompanied by Romana, a fellow Time-Lord, played by¬†Mary Tamm –¬†had to find them, before the Black Guardian could get his dastardly mitts on them.

Must admit, however, that while¬†K-9¬†(the¬†Doctor’s robot dog)¬†may have “enchanted younger viewers,”¬†Brad¬†was not one of them. Strangely enough, one can’t recall those stories where¬†K-9 made a positive contribution to the plot…

“Curious the tricks time plays on one, isn’t it…?”

The Doctor:¬†“Adric, I give you a privileged insight into the mystery of time, yes? Open your mind to adventures beyond inagination, yes…? And you criticise my logic?!”¬†

Adric: “No… no, I’m just saying that a lot of the time you really don’t make sense.”

The Doctor:¬†“Aarh. Aarh! You’ve noticed that, have you? Well, I mean anyone can talk sense as long as that is understood. I think we’re going to get along splendidly! Come on!”¬†

 

Frisk: “Who are you? The company you said you worked for was liquidated twenty years ago!”

The Doctor: “I was wondering why I’ve never been paid…”

Frisk: “That’s not good enough!”¬†

The Doctor: “That’s exactly what I thought…”

Doctor Who heralded the new decade with a drastic image makeover.

Not only a brand new title sequence, but a completely (ahem) regenerated, synthesized theme tune, a new Producer (John Nathan-Turner) and new companions were introduced, but, unexpectedly, Baker continued in the role for one more season. Having served as the longest-serving Time-Lord, he felt it his duty to speak out against anything unWhovian. 

This viewer still watched avidly every Saturday evening, even if the quality used to fluctuate.¬†Among the weaker stories from this period: The Mandrels (above) from¬†Nightmare of Eden¬†‚Äé(24 November ‚Äď 15 December 1979)¬†always looked great to me even though the costume department loathed them.¬†Re-watching this story, nearly four decades later, the script (provided by Bob Baker)¬†is uproariously funny! The much-derided¬†Horns of Nimon¬†(22 December 1979 – 12 January 1980)¬†still appealed to me because their minotaur-like monsters¬†latched onto Greek mythology: my other great obsession around that time.¬†

Baker’s¬†penultimate story:¬†The Keeper of Traken (31 January – 21 February 1981) has¬†become another personal favourite.¬†Especially liked the way in¬†which arch-villain¬†The Master¬†lurked inside¬†that creepy Melkur statue (see below!)

After kicking up a grand bally-Who with Nathan-Turner, Baker, rather inevitably, threw in the scarf. His beloved era of wit, warmth, and wool, came to its conclusion in the Season 18 closer: Logopolis21 March 1981: a date forever seared into my memory.

“It’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…”¬†

The Doctor: “When I mentioned the black hole to Soldeed, he didn’t seem to know what I was talking¬†about.”

Romana: “Ah, well, people often don’t know what you’re talking about!”¬†

The Doctor: “Exactly!”¬†

 

In other Who’s:¬†

As well as time,¬†space¬†is an issue, but surely¬†you¬†can make room to discuss those other glorious masterpieces¬†such as:¬†The Ark in Space,¬†The Deadly Assassin,¬†and¬†The Talons of Weng-Chiang, yes?¬†These gems, all masterfully written by¬†Robert Holmes,¬†will appear together¬†in a special forthcoming Post reviewing this great writer’s work.

If one had to recommend just one story that best exemplifies the Baker era,¬†it would have to be¬†Genesis of the Daleks (1975, written by Terry Nation).¬†It not only restored the menace of the series’ most popular villains, but with its tense and terrific storyline – plus a wicked performance by Michael Wisher as Davros, creator of the Daleks –¬†it redefined what SF TV could achieve.¬†

It contained the single greatest scene in the history of British TV drama which can be found here in this previous celebration of Doctor Who.

And which single Classic Doctor Who story counts as my personal favourite?

City of Death (29 September Р20 October 1979). Without a doubt. 

Scaroth, Last of the Jagaroth (“an infinitely superior race”)¬†remains one of SF TV’s greatest villains;¬†Julian Glover’s¬†performance of megalomaniacal malevolence landed him the role of General Veers¬†in a blockbuster the¬†following year called:¬†The Empire Strikes Back.¬†

The destruction of the Jagaroth ship caused the chemical reaction that gave birth to the human race. And the Doctor must stop Scaroth from going back in time to prevent himself from initiating the launch sequence: GENIUS. 

Doctor Who: written by Douglas Adams, and guest-starring John Cleese?

Come on! 

It’s a shame that NuWho is nowhere near as witty and clever as this:¬†

Scaroth of Jagaroth: “Time is running out,¬†Doctor!”

The Doctor: “What do you mean:¬†Time is running out?’ It’s only 1505…”¬†

 

The Doctor:¬†“Good, well now he’s gone, any chance of a cup of tea?”¬†

General Ravon: “WHAT?!”

The Doctor: “Or coffee. My friend and I’ve had a very trying experience. Haven’t we¬†had a trying experience, Harry?”

Harry Sullivan: “Very trying,¬†Doctor.”

General Ravon: “STEP INTO THE SECURITY SCAN!”

The Doctor:¬†What, no tea…?”

 

Voyager: A Bradtastic Trip Into Space

Is There Enough Space To Have Time…?

“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be… We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries…” – Carl Sagan.

For me, it all began with Cosmos.

That ultra-rare occasion when a TV programme fulfilled the aim of providing something both educational and entertaining, Carl Sagan helped make astrophysics accessible, and instilled in this gawping infant, the need to learn/discover so much more.

Off and on, through this boy’s life, the stars have continued to fascinate. Now, most nights, after finishing my writing – or those moments when the words don’t flow the way they should –¬†it’s great to just step outside, after the street lights have switched off,¬†and marvel¬†at¬†the inspirational – and staggering –¬†wonders of the universe.¬†

After a very trying month, maybe its just as well that this Post blasts off to be among the stars (even if it may be with only one-quarter impulse power).

Away from it all…¬†

Rather than perplex you with something deep and philosophical (such theses will appear on this site at some point!)¬†let’s gradually¬†revitalise my creative powers with an easy vids n’ gifs compilation!¬†ūüôā

Looking for groovy tunes represented with¬†a vid of suitably spacey visuals turned out to be quite a chore; annoyingly, a few of my initial choices have been removed from YouTube, or are simply unloadable,¬†but when you consider how we all live “on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam – a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena”¬†my problems – whether they be psychological or technical –¬†are really so inconsequential!¬†

Dr. Hans Reinhardt: “Well, Mr. Booth, what’s new on Earth?”¬†

Harry Booth: “Well, I don’t think it’s changed very much since you left, Doctor.”¬†

Dr. Hans Reinhardt: “Nothing much ever changes. Same news, different names…”¬†

It’s Mingo Mean Time¬†for some classic movie magic with¬†that Quarterback New York Jets saviour of the universe himself.¬†When the¬†Flash Gordon movie was released (in 1980!), this iconic character rapidly became my new favourite. Gorged myself on Weetabix every breakfast in order to accumulate all 18 Official Movie Photo-cards; bought ANY sci-fi book that reprinted original pages (or merely one or two panels) of¬†Alex Raymond’s original comic strips; even avidly watched episodes of those ancient serials starring Buster Crabbe as the titular hero;¬†moreover,¬†everyone in my year at Primary School was expected to know¬†all the movie’s lines off by heart!

Absolutely nuts – it’s best to regard this as not so much a movie but a 100-minute Queen video!¬†

Nothing like a dramatic blast-off, and this following clip is one of the best blast-off sequences in scif-fi cinema.¬†What better to hurl yourself into¬†the Imperial Vortex¬†with than the pulse-pounding percussion of¬†Queen’s Roger Taylor?¬†

“Check the angular vector of the moon!” – Dr. Hans Zarkov.¬†

One of the unexpected hits of last year came in the form of Life.

Such a thrill, for a change, to watch a sci-fi movie that is NOT a sequel or a remake!

A team of scientists aboard the¬†International Space Station¬†discover an organic lifeform amidst soils samples collected from¬†Mars,¬†but following sci-fi/horror tradition, it grows into a life-threatening nightmare….

Despite having such heavy-hitters as¬†Ryan Reynolds¬†and¬†Jake Gyllenhaal,¬†its the extraterrestrial itself¬†(named Calvin by NY schoolchildren in a national competition!)¬†that steals the show.¬†It may not look as menacing as HR Giger’s xenomorph,¬†but¬†this martian’s level of intelligence becomes particularly unsettling (the way in which Calvin breaks out¬†of¬†his incubator is ingenious!)¬†

Most importantly, Life fulfilled the essential quota of¬†any¬†space movie:¬†the scenes above the Earth were excellently created, and¬†the original soundtrack¬†by¬†Jon Ekstrand turned out to be quite memorable,¬†evoking¬†the magic and the peril –¬†of¬†space exploration,¬†as this vid amply demonstrates.

Choose Life!

Minister of Defence: “My God, what’s Bond doing?”

Q: “I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir.”

As you will see, (before yours truly pops out for a spot of constellation-hunting)¬†we’re saving the BEST till last.

From a movie featuring the¬†ISS,¬†we turn our attention¬†to an astonishing NASA time-lapse video shot from the¬†International Space Station¬†itself,¬†displaying some breathtaking views of what¬†Carl Sagan¬†himself called¬†our “Pale” Blue Dot¬†in¬†all its glory.

The wonderful musical accompaniment is from that under-rated 007 In Space spy thriller: Moonraker (as the end credits amusingly revealed, it was filmed on location in Italy, Brazil, Guatemala, U.S.A. and Outer Space!)

John Barry was a tremendous composer of movie music. And, fittingly, Moonraker happened to be one of his most spectacular works. Make sure you can watch this on the biggest screen you can find:

“And that completes my final report until we reach touchdown. We’re now on full automatic, in the hands of the computers. I have tucked my crew in for the long sleep and I’ll be joining them soon…

“…The men who sent us on this journey are long since dead and gone. You who are reading me now are a different breed – I hope a better one. I leave the 20th century with no regrets.

“But one more thing – if anybody’s listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It’s purely personal. But seen from out here everything seems different. Time bends. Space is boundless. It squashes a man’s ego. I feel lonely.

“That’s about¬† it. Tell me, though. Does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother? Keep his neighbour’s children starving…?”

 

So Low: Is Brad Done With Star Wars?!

Star Wars: The Last Straw…?

Yes, You Were Right, Luke, This Did NOT Go The Way Brad Thinks…

“What do you know about the Force?” –¬†Luke Skywalker.

On the day in which Solo: A Star Wars Story began at our local popcorn parlour last week,¬†there it¬†stood on the library shelf:¬†Star Wars: The Last Jedi.¬†Available to rent for one week. A whole week?! The prospect of watching it for a¬†SECOND, or –Dyzan forbid – a third(!) time (>_<) filled me with such dread and nausea¬†that¬†yours deliriously¬†had to sit down… before he fell down…¬†

Yes, folks, even five months later,¬†DON’T try bribing me with egg custard tarts, there is no way you could make me wade through THAT… “experience”¬†again…

Is it a coincidence that it had been placed right next¬†to fellow turkey:¬†Geostorm‚Ķ?¬†Somehow, this most recent instalment in the galaxy’s biggest franchise makes¬†Gethard Buttwad’s¬†most recent flop look like a veritable masterpiece of modern cinema.

No matter how you look at it, it’s undeniable – The Last Jedi IS a complete mess.

Pondered going to watch the¬†much-troubled¬†Solo: A Star Wars Movie,¬†but,¬†considering¬†The Last Jedi’s shortcomings,¬†plus the uneasy prospect of watching a Corellian smuggler movie without Harrison Ford,¬†Brad¬†eventually decided to give it a miss,¬†hence¬†no Bradscribe Review.¬†It’s maybe just as well: initial reviews citing disappointment; reports¬†of the most annoying character (a droid?!) since the prequels; and a plethora of dimly-lit scenes (the problem blighting modern movies, and TV series’ that infuriates me the most!)¬†all make for unpleasant reading.

Perhaps improbable now, but Brad actually became one of the few heartened by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, encouraged by the introduction of such intriguing new characters: Rey, Poe and Finn. Of course, as we were all crestfallen to discover, The Last Jedi failed to embellish these characters with ANY meaningful, or consequential, developments whatsoever. 

Cue scene of this blogger standing forlornly on a cliff edge, chucking his copy of the now-pointless Force Awakens over his shoulder…

When Rey states:¬†“I need someone to show me my place in all of this,”¬†weh-heh-hell! DON’T look at¬†Rian Johnson –¬†he’s The Last Nerk to ask for directions… ‚Ķ

“I was shocked. I said to Rian, Luke is the most optimistic, hopeful character and now he’s this miserable, despondent hermit… I had a real problem, because I don’t believe a Jedi would ever give up…” – Mark Hamill.¬†

“It says right in the script: ‘forget the past! Kill it if you have to!'”¬†wailed¬†Mark Hamill¬†during a Q&A session at one fan function, before turning to his director, lounging inappropriately gleeful on the couch beside him.¬†“You’re doing a pretty good job!”¬†

And everyone in the room accepted that. As a joke

Speaking of unbearable puns,¬†notice how¬†Rian Johnson¬†is listed as “Writer” as well as Director…?

In his somewhat twisted mind, Brad envisaged a creepy Majestic-12-like committee, lurking deep within the fiery Mustafar-like pit that is Disneyland Рits sole purpose: to concoct the insane plot-threads to be spun for this current trilogy.

No, dear friends, the truth is far more sinister than that! 

There is NO such committee; thus, no such plot(s) or plans have been laid out. Astonishingly, Johnson came in and singlehandedly put together Episode VIII, apparently with little to no collaboration from Lucasfilm/Disney. 

How much did he actually write? 

Judging from the ineptitude and incoherence displayed onscreen, you get the impression that the crew were just making (breaking…?) it up as they went along…

“Never mind,¬†eh?¬†All the “little niggles” will be sorted out with¬†Episode IX!”

So certain are you…?!

Can’t see how any of this tosh could be rectified.¬†Totally bereft¬†of a logical, or progressive plot structure, with all the original characters written out,¬†there is no sensible¬†direction¬†for this embarrassing charade to take.

Having wondered extensively as to the background story of Supreme Leader Snoke, only to squirm at his premature Рand ridiculously swift! Рdemise, the bewildering realisation that there is absolutely NO rationale Рor justification for the existence of the Worst Рsorry, First РOrder becomes immediately (and eye-rollingly) apparent! The First Order persists, simply because the trilogy demands a considerable antagonistic element (no matter how one-dimensional!)  

Such a ludicrous set-up only enforces my suspicions: NO planning went into this guff! NONE at all! 

And let’s not bang on about¬†this – for plenty of disgruntled fans have already done so – but that¬†miserable, old blue-milk-supping git arsing about in The Land Of The Porgs¬†is definitely NOT the Luke Skywalker we grew up with.¬†You know it’s a calamity when even¬†Mark Hamill¬†himself has to speak out against the wrong direction of one of SF’s most beloved characters…

If anything, the ONLY enchanting moment of the whole movie involved the reappearance of Yoda. And his original puppet at that, voiced as always, and reassuringly, by the irreplaceable Frank Oz. Alternatively, Brad would have been fine and dandy paying to watch a crazy, cosmic comedy, featuring just this crotchety Odd Couple:

“Your turn to fetch the blue milk, Short Round!”¬†Lukewarm chirps,¬†to which Master Yoda replies:¬†“My turn?! My dimpled ass! Your turn, it is…”¬†

Star Wars: The Last Rian Johnson Film? 

‘Fraid not…¬†

We can expect not just one more movie from him, but The Clusterfuck Trilogy! Coming To Theaters Near YOU! 

Ah, not me, baby! Gonna grab my blue milk an’ split the scene, man…¬†

“There are no Jedi here anymore; only dreamers like this fool” – Baze Malbus.¬†

So, all is lost?

Not so, my young padawan.  

It is reassuring to remember that we still have¬†Rogue One – the movie¬†Brad¬†waited only 36 years for¬†(and to that end, dreaded it more than anything) but was pleasantly surprised nevertheless.¬†However, that jubilant – and relieved! – reaction (albeit only eighteen months ago)¬†now¬†seems like a far, far away, almost vague, recollection…

This reminds me of just one of the many reasons why Revenge Of The Sith sucks: the main point of watching that was to witness the finale that finally graced the Final Act of Rogue One.

Unlike The Last Jedi,¬†Rogue One¬†is¬†blessed with an engrossing script, coherent action (and editing),¬†great participants;¬†some may argue that their characters were not properly developed, but then again, why worry¬†about¬†that?¬†We knew, alas, that they were all doomed anyway.¬†It’s¬†easily the best Star Wars movie¬†since¬†Return of the Jedi.¬†Let’s face it:¬†it’s the ONLY decent¬†Star Wars movie¬†since¬†Return of the Jedi! (Search your feelings: you KNOW it be true! ūüėČ )

For the time being, yours¬†truly¬†will stick with¬†the OT¬†and¬†Rogue One.¬†But please, let me stipulate that it must¬†be the original Original Trilogy –¬†not¬†those so-called “Special” Editions that ruined the franchise’s 20th Anniversary.¬†The tampering with¬†Mos Eisley was unforgivable –¬†you will never find a more wretched hive of CGI and pointlessly inserted trash.¬†

Return of the Jedi suffered the worst: shockingly, inexplicably, my fave song performed by¬†Sy Snootles and the Max Rebo Band¬†was replaced with a “new” derisory number.¬†And what’s with the line-up¬†of Force-ghosts? How could anyone replace the distinguished¬† Sebastian Shaw¬†with that lameass dipwit from the prequels?!¬†

There is nothing on the horizon that might assuage my gnawing doubts. 

A solo Boba Fett movie, perhaps? 

No! Absolutely NOT!

Part of what makes this badass Mandalorian so great is his mystique – it’s cool that we know barely anything comcerning his origins or devious history. Let’s keep it that way (but nobody listens to Brad these days…)¬†If any characters deserve their own big screen outing,¬†it¬†has to be¬†those other bounty hunters glimpsed in The Empire Strikes Back¬†for the most fleeting seconds: Bossk, IG-88, Dendar, 4-Lom and Zuckuss of course.¬†(Brad was only the 7th kid in his class to acquire that latter action figure – one of the finest achievements from my scholastic period!) ¬†¬†

Naturally, those days when excitement and giddy anticipation seemed inextricably linked with all-things-Star-Wars are long gone.  

Regrettably, we are lumbered now with the crass commercialism and mediocre machinations of a corporation that fails to understand what generated mass appeal for Star Wars in the first place.

Business is business. Except it’s none of Brad’s business…¬†

For me, the Wars are over, but there will be no cheer. No celebrations.¬†Not even manic Stormtrooper-helmets-as-drumkits levels of revelry can shatter the uneasy tranquillity¬†that now pervades the musty (dark-but-not-as-ineptly-dark-as-Solo-A-Star-Wars-Story-dark) halls¬†of¬†Brad Manor…

For those of you who still believe this franchise¬†remains the one true, unfaltering bastion of awesomeness in modern sci-fi cinema – or reckon a morose old moofmilker like meself should just “snap out of it”! –¬†you are more than welcome to bamboozle Brad with logic, concise arguments and/or¬†wisecracks¬†in the Comments section graciously provided.

May The Force Be With YOU! (Alas, it snuck out of my life. A long time ago… …)¬†

 

“Stockpile of¬†Last Jedi DVDs in range, General!”¬†

“Target! Maximum firepower!”¬†

Hey,¬†it’s not all doom and gloom.

Found this vid which, unlike Disney’s interpretation of¬†Star Wars, is actually quite clever and entertaining.¬†

At¬†least, Ryan Reynolds voicing our fave Sith Lord¬†is preferable to trying to endure¬†Laura frickin’ Dern¬†as¬†Admiral Hairdye.

Admiral?! HA! 

Out of all the ill-advised, cringe-inducing “humour” foisted upon¬†The Last Jedi,¬†this ill-advised concept, instead, is what really amused Brad.

Be warned:¬†there’s some coarse language herein,¬†but this is nothing compared to the multitude of¬†expletive-laden rants overheard on that fateful evening last December.¬†Staggering out of the screening of you-know-what…

Knock ’em dead, Poolboy:

 

Electric Dreams III: Revenge Of The Synth

Synthwave, Retrowave, Dreamwave And – Oh Yes – Darkwave…¬†

‚ÄúWe’ll always be together
However far it seems
(Love never ends)
We’ll always be together
Together in Electric Dreams‚ÄĚ ‚ÄstPhil Oakey.

Is it too soon, you may ask, to have another music post on this site?!

Perhaps. And yet…

Considering how it feels like an age since the last Post, and my writing is a tad sluggish at the moment for my liking, this seemed like the easiest option to get me back into the swing of actually completing something!

Have not listened to any Synthwave¬†for a while, but returned to it just this week. For me,¬†Lazerhawk is the outstanding artist of this amazing genre –¬†so selecting our first vid¬†posed no problem¬†at all:¬†

SAL-9000: “Will I dream?”

Dr. Chandra: “Of course you will. All intelligent beings dream. Nobody knows why. Perhaps you will dream about¬†HAL… just as I often do.”

You may be interested to know that my ideas have not abandoned me.

Far from it Рthere is no shortage of them! Time is no problem Рnever has been for me! My problem is finding the energy! 

Purge those rumours of this site’s imminent demise!

Forthcoming attractions are on their way.¬†In¬† the next few days: you can (hopefully) expect¬†Bradscribe Reviews¬†of¬†BOTH Deadpool movies,¬†various updates on my expeditions¬†to find more awesome Bronze Age comics, and…?¬†The rest is a surprise!¬†

Blimey!¬†So was this next track now this is fukkin’ sick!¬†(As the younglings are wont to say these days, by Jove!):¬†

Nancy Thomson: It’s only a dream!”

Freddy Krueger: “Come to Freddy!”

Speaking of nightmares, my fiction¬†has suffered more than anything ūüėõ –¬†it seems to have dried up (only for the time being we hope! Yeah…?)¬†

For the second time,¬†my novel has¬†stalled.¬†What has been produced so far is bereft of plot progression¬† –¬†that breath-taking twist still hasn’t¬†“sprung to mind.”¬†Not¬†going to chuck the bally thing in completely – for one thing, it would be a shame to see all my research papers go to waste…¬†

On a much brighter note, during this past two years¬†my¬†enthusiasm for concocting short stories has¬†revived.¬†Through the blog format,¬†Bradventures¬†featuring a distinctly English galactic hero¬†have come along in leaps and bounds.¬†You may like to know/be assured¬†that a¬†handful of new episodes reside on my¬†Dashboard awaiting editing, so he won’t be going away any time soon!¬†

The most recent instalment is still pretty fresh, if a tad neglected, so please, pay it a visit, right here: 

You’ll like it, it’s about a prison break. ūüėČ

Moving on then, this next video would have made it into Electric Dreams I Рa perfect accompaniment to a Lazerhawk track, but it got pulled offline so had to rummage around for a replacement at the last minute(!)

No worries!

This tune will suffice; this is the awesome opening sequence from that crazy sci-fi thriller:¬†The Hidden (1987)¬†featuring¬†an alien parasite that uses human vessels to wreak his own warped sense of “fun” on Earth:

Bob Blair: “Now we can go into an enemy’s dream, kill him, make it look as if he died in his sleep. Do you realize what that means?”

Alex Gardner: “It means no one’s safe from you…”¬†

Blade Runner (1982) remains as monumental as those techno-ziggurats that dominate the LA skyline.

Not only did it create one of the most mesmerising examples of visual futurism on the big screen, but the velvety Vangelis soundtrack has had a huge influence on the Synthwave genre. 

Not surprisingly, a considerable number of Synthwave tracks turn up on YouTube illustrated by stills from this classic movie. 

So, guess what appears here next! :0

Funny how the source material, written by Philip K. Dick¬†is called¬†“Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep”¬†and yet there is no quote featuring the word: ‘dream‘ in the movie…

But why complain?

It’s¬†Blade Runner!

“Milk and cookies kept you awake, eh, Sebastian?” – Dr. Eldon Tyrell.¬†

Speaking of visual style,¬†whenever the mood for writing failed to¬†manifest,¬†my creative faculties have expressed¬†themselves instead¬†through sketching.¬†Noting¬†how plenty of Followers/readers have commented that my fiction would be enhanced¬†by¬†converting the work¬†into¬†graphic novels…¬†

Maybe, just maybe…¬†

In the meantime, there are some artworks – produced several years ago as well as more recent gobsmackers –¬†that should (scans permitting!) appear on this site very soon. ¬†

Moving on thenoh yes – when it comes to the best¬†Retrowave¬†producers, there’s no ace like HOME:¬†

Miles Harding: “A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.”

Edgar: “Who says?”

Miles Harding: “Walt Disney. Sleeping Beauty, nineteen… fifty.”

Edgar: “No, it was Cinderella, 1949.”

To end on a high note, completing this Post has reminded me what is so compelling about the blogosphere; plus, it has restored the verve to carry on!

What better way to end this playlist, fellow Oneironauts, than with some scintillating Chillwave from the exceptional Crockett, who Рas you may have gathered from Electric Dreams II  has become my second-favourite Synthwave artist!

“I’m a seeker too. But my dreams aren’t like yours. I can’t help thinking that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than Man. Has to be…” – George Taylor.¬†

Sweet dreams…¬†ūüôā