Universal Pictures: An Exploration Of Cosmic Comics!

Because You Demanded It! Brad Goes Cosmic!

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“I spent some time in your system monitoring your television transmissions. I learned all about Earth’s culture from watching sitcoms” – Sphinxor.

“You have teleported me here to talk,” the being known as the High Evolutionary protested. “To discuss why my planet has been stolen. I await your answer.”

“My Ring-Shippers and I were contracted to move your planet by a race of beings called the Beyonders,” replied Sphinxor, Captain of the Ringship 1, Command Vessel of the Prime Movers of Tarkus. 

“They became aware of your experimental world while you were collecting the extra-dimensional mass to build it… This Warlock fellow looked to be a problem…” 

Yes! That’s Adam Warlock, the golden-skinned cosmic hero, and the primary reason for picking up what has turned out to be a quite scintillating ish of Marvel 2-In-1 (#63, May 1980). The Thing, Moon-Dragon and Starhawk team up to help save Counter-Earth. 

Mark Gruenwald (writer), Jerry Bingham (artist) and Gene day (inker) “join forces to concoct the wildest cosmic adventure ever!”

In this Summer’s voracious surge for Bronze Age delights, the overwhelming theme has been: cosmic. So what is it about cosmic comics that make them so enthralling?

Apart from tapping into that lifelong fascination with outer space (with which most of you would concur, right?), the joys of galactic adventures, bedecked with multitudes of weird and wonderful extraterrestrials, with supercool blasters and gleaming star cruisers is veritably the fuel on which traditional SF runs.

There are numerous reasons for why cosmic comics will forever be the best in my book (or blog).

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^ Page 10 of Marvel 2-In-1 #63 shows plenty of stellar action to satisfy anybody’s cosmic cravings.

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“From what we’ve been told, the Beyonders may be more powerful than any beings yet encountered by man – greater than Galactus, the Watcher, Thanos… any of them. As a scientist, I am curious” –  The High Evolutionary. 

The cosmic brand of story-line holds greater appeal,  primarily as the imagination is allowed the freedom to run a tad wilder. Moreover, this scintillating subgenre features some of the coolest and most powerful characters in the known Marvel Universe.

Not to mention the biggest – take (on) Galactus (if you dare!).

Asked who the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe could be, Stan Lee did not hesitate to answer: “Galactus, without a doubt.”

Undoubtedly, the cream of the cosmos has to be “The Coming of Galactus” which appeared in Fantastic Four # 48-50. 

But what are the chances of acquiring this series and NOT breaking the bank…?

Our old friend John Byrne contributed exceptionally to the cause of cosmic awesomeness by creating “The Trial of Galactus” which sprawls across Fantastic Four # 242-44; 252-55; and 257-62. Have already set my sights on them, regardless of my indifference to Reed Richards…

As a huge fan of Rom The Spaceknight – keen to pick up some of his classic cosmic escapades – Galactus actually appears in ish no. 26(!)

By Jove, the Bradmonitor lit up spectacularly when that news filtered through!

Minions! To the Bradmobile!

You’ll be pleased to know that they have already been dispatched forthwith across the quadrant to track THAT ONE down.

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“Fascinating. I’m in outer space, yet my costume automatically creates an energy field that not only protects me from the deadly cold and radiation… but provides me with a breatheable atmosphere as well” – Ms. Marvel. 

One of the classic cosmic stories – essential to anyone’s collection – would have to be The Magus Saga.

Featured in Strange Tales #s 178-81 and Warlock – yes! him again – # 9-11, it’s the reason why Adam Warlock is one of Marvel’s most intriguing protagonists. (If you don’t believe me, check the heaving prices of individual ishs charged by some of yer leading local Awemongers…)

Have already picked up some back ishs of Future Tense, a weekly comic produced by Marvel UK back in 1980; they include some reprints of early Adam Warlock stories. Fabulous stuff, but they only make me crave more of the Warlock

My mission to find more Ms. Marvel continues apace, and has turned up some surprisingly cosmic results.

#3: “The Lady’s Not For Killing” featured the Kree-powered superwoman flying into space on an intercept vector to prevent a missile from diving into the Kennedy Space Center. Upon finding an access hatch, what should spring out but the Doomsday Man!

Bingo – the same robot supposedly destroyed by the Silver Surfer way back when. Cue a bout of feisty female fisticuffs (in orbit). 

Written faultlessly as always by Chris Claremont, and amazingly imagineered by the invincible John Buscema it’s another great addition to the collection.

Groovy.

And there’s been no opp here to squeal about the Mighty Thor’s cosmic scrapes. Particularly that epic in which Galactus must call for Thor’s help in tackling a galactic foe which even he cannot smite…(!)

More mouthwatering delights yet to materialise here on Bradscribe!

Stay tuned: same Brad time! Same Brad channel!  

Meanwhile, back on that orbiting planetoid… 

“…We simply set up our stasis-rings and took off with Counter-Earth in tow…” Sphinxor droned on bureaucratically. “We kindly refer you to the Beyonders for any questions pertaining to what they intend to do with your world, okay?” 

“Then…” frowned the High Evolutionary. “You do not even know why they want my world?”

“That’s not my job, man.”

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“It just gives me the willies, bein’ taken apart atom by atom and bein’ put back together somewhere else” – The Thing. 

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The Lost Scribe: Where Is Brad?!

Bradscribe Has Vanished… 

UNBALANCED: "Why did he leave...?"
UNBALANCED: “Why did he leave…?”

Wake! For the Sun, who scatter’d into flight 

The Stars before him from the Field of Night, 

Drives Night along with them from Heav’n, and strike

The Sultan’s Turret with a Shaft of Light” – Omar Khayyam.

He was blogging along merrily as usual until – all of a sudden – readers drifted away and the Stats plummeted. It is hard to believe how one so cosmic – so totally with it – could have just upped and left… 

But Kismet decreed that if there were to be no readers, there would be no incitement to write. For the time being, at least. Thus, these unforeseen circumstances provided an ideal time to recharge his creative battery, and prepare for a stupendous comeback, when he would – like Ant-Manbecome bigger and better than before. 

And so, the past few weeks presented the opportunity for him, and his fabulous wife, to detach themselves – albeit briefly – from the technological trappings of the “modern age.” And escape, literally, into the Middle of Nowhere. To seek out the Centre of Knowledge. 

They “got away from it all” – yay, Mr. and Mrs. B got off the grid. 

No surprise, really. It’s as if he has completely fallen off this quadrant… 

Most likely, he skedaddled to the Outer Rim – even his ol’ mate: Maz said: “There, you can disappear…”

Some say there were rumours – nay, stories – of him traipsing off on some foolhardy pilgrimage across the galaxy to the Mojo Temple, to rediscover what he had lost…  

THE WANDERER: "Seeking out the poorer quarters Where the ragged people go, Looking for the places Only they would know."
THE WANDERER: “Seeking out the poorer quarters, Where the ragged people go, Looking for the places
Only they would know.”

“He probably enjoyed being a man of mystery. He embraced the allusions in his life just as much as those that appeared in the many stories he wrote” – J J Furie. 

STARDATE: 04.05.2559.

They left the land-speeder halfway up the mountain – the gradient seemed far too steep to climb. Sure, it was really hot, but still too early in the morning for the sun to have reached its searing zenith.

Out there – in the back of beyond – you would be lucky to have any electricity, let alone a reliable internet connection. Among a cluster of wooden chalets at the summit, the guru awaited their arrival. She had sought his counsel many moons ago; he had read several of his inspirational articles in the papers – this monk seemed like the right Ajarn [teacher] to visit at the right time… 

There was no time to linger and inhale the incense in the Inner Sanctum. 

All three talked for ages. The Scribe had countless questions on philosophy and spirituality – too many for that session – so promised to return one day soon… 

And before the westerner departed, the easterner asked him if he would – at some point – consider becoming a monk…

As the sun gradually diminished that evening, the world-weary wordsmith reclined to view the glorious blood-red and orange sky – it’s not every evening you can watch something as awesome as that back in the Western Regions.

And he beamed heartily at the Field of Night, safe in the knowledge that most of his stress had dissolved…

And all those pursuers were far, far away…

BRAD'S ARMY: He fights the dreaded Zandokan Shokk Troopers... so you don't have to.
BRAD’S ARMY: He fights the dreaded Zandokan Shokk Troopers… so you don’t have to.

“I don’t pretend we have all the answers. But the questions are certainly worth thinking about” – Arthur C. Clarke.

Meanwhile, halfway across the galaxy… 

The elite division of Shokk Troopers stood aside, allowing the dreaded Dark Lord: Zegreatme to stride forth.

The denizens of that spaceport dared not look directly at his visor, for fear that – with one flick of his glistening bionic hand – he would order their instant execution… 

The Zandokans stopped outside the Ravenous Greedo Cantina – yeah, this looked like the sorta crummy dive that blogger would frequent. The Troopers burst in, laser-rifles at the ready; the Dark Lord drummed his talonic fingers on the hilt of his laser-sword impatiently as he surveyed a cluster of i-monitors along the far wall. 

His agents detected high levels of chocolate cream around one console, indicating that quite considerable cake consumption had occurred in this vicinity, very recently. 

And the nacho crumbs proved to be a dead giveaway…

Their sensors revealed a half-completed Captain America: Civil War review saved in the hard drive. The Dark Lord face-palmed, knowing only too well that the Scribe had fled not long before their Imperial Skorpion Kruiser had landed…

“Vhere ees Bred now?!” he growled.

Gesturing manically to his minions to get back outside and question each and every passerby, stopping any denizen to ask them THAT question proved to be a futile move.

For the frightened locals just stared in bewilderment and uttered the same response:

Bradscribe…?! I thought he was a myth…”

NOT AS BRAD AS IT SEEMS...: "And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up..."
NOT AS BRAD AS IT SEEMS…: “And why do we fall? So we can learn to pick ourselves up…”

“Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life” – Marcus Aurelius.

Bradscribe will return…

 

………………………………?? 

Jupiter Descending: What The Blazes Went Wrong?!

Who writes this rubbish…?! 

NOT INTERSTELLAR again ?!
NOT INTERSTELLAR again ?!

“We’re always looking for the range of what we see in life. That creates a tension between us and our audience because they don’t know what to expect. It makes people excited, but it can also make for frustrated consumers” – Lana Wachowski. 

Ho hum. The unfazed Wachowskis release yet another underwhelming dirge. When a big movie’s release is delayed by several months, you just know you’re gonna get lumbered with a dud. What should have been awesome has, instead – would-u-Adam-‘n-Eve it? – turned out to to be frickin’ awful. The Wachowskis’ CV (including: The Matrix Revolutions, Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas) is increasingly – and disturbingly – beginning to sound like a casualty list. 

As the chorus of critics complaining that they have lost two hours of their lives grows ever louder and more disenchanted, let’s analyse this distorted vision of the future and try and help these movie-making siblings where they have gone – hopelessly and unavoidably – wrong. Jupiter Ascending is not so much a case of having to sit through such an insipid spectacle, but sift through such utterly risible wreckage… 

Ladies and Gentlemen: it is our unenviable duty to announce – with a hefty dollop of dread – that we have found the Pluto Nash of 2015! 

NOT JURASSIC WORLD already?: Where the blazes did this thing come from?!
NOT JURASSIC WORLD already?: Where the ‘ell did this thing come from?!

I love dogs. I’ve always-” NO! My dear Followers, NO WAY should you be subjected to this tosh. NONE of this bobbins dialogue is worth typing out here! Gawd… where ‘ave me stress balls gone?!

Amid the overriding torrent of pessimism, Jupie appears to be a “spectacular visual feast” – which seems to be the only positive statement for the critical community en masse to cling to. Yet, unbelievably, unutterably, they have uncovered countless things bad, wrong, or just monumentally misjudged to dissect from this whole sorry mess of a movie.

The lavish costumes look like a (misguided) recreation of Dune’s stately opulence; the effects are superbly-crafted, but oozing with extensive CGI – too glitzy to be anything remotely special as yawn usual.

Pointy-eared Wolfboy Tatum just doesn’t ingratiate himself to my viewing sensibilities – and heck, let’s face it, never will -while Jupiter Jones herself: Mila Kunis is… my records show that she provides one of the voices on Family Guy… 

Surviving in a miserable menial existence on Earth, Jones is informed that she will, in fact, be the next Queen of the Universe – it’s basically Cinderella In Space. There are no prizes for guessing that this couple only represent archetypes rather than portray characters; and – hey! what a suprise – there is absolutely no chemistry to be had between them… whatsoever. And to think that Natalie Portman was first choice to “play” Jupiter Jones…?! Grief, this movie could have been… even worse?!

NOT EX MACHINA: Blimey Charley! Even Automata was better than this!
NOT EXACTLY EX MACHINA: Blimey Charley! Even Automata was better than this!

I play a character called Stinger. I’ve kind of got remnants of bee, or half-bee… Unfortunately, Channing’s character was in some trouble and I stood up for him, and they removed my wings” – Sean Bean. 

So, here is the last instalment of this excruciating Post. Honestly, there is a very serious matter that needs to be addressed here, and that is, quite simply: how did Eddie Redmayne get embroiled in this? We can only assume that the poor boy was dragged kicking and screaming into this nightmare. Apparently, his very first day on set involved getting: “strung up 30ft into the air with this extraordinary brace around me, flung down these wires and sent spinning… to recreate a kind of gravitational pull…” Oh, poor Eddie… 

And alas, poor Boromir. The same applies to Mr. Bean. He’s been in the business long enough to recognise a turkey when he sees one; unfortunately, none of his comments concerning this movie made the slightest bit of sense.

Last, and by all means least: how, pray, did the Wachowskis concoct the insane drivel which constitutes “dialogue” in this movie? You mean to tell me that no fraction of the humongous budget – let’s not deny it: vast acres of dosh were squandered to produce this audio/visual travesty – could be allocated to create some memorable, quotable lines? Even if they paid me to sit through this, erm… experience, there is no way you could trust me to actually go into the cinema. Not even a bribe of cheesy nachos and caramel popcorn would coax me in…

Enough is enough! No more wretched Wachowski discussion here. There’s only so much this jaded noddle can endure…

My sympathies sally forth to all you blogging friends who had (to pay) to sit through Jupiter Ascending. Just relieved that none of my time or money was spent on this rubbish…

 

NOT PROF HAWKING: "As camp as a row of bloody tents, mate"
NOT PROF HAWKING: “As camp as a row of bloody tents, mate”

Now now, Eddie-baby!

Screaming about it won’t help. All that flinging and spinning clearly did your head in, but please, go quietly into the night… Honestly, you’ve got the Oscar Nom for Theory, dearie (though after this debacle, you’re lucky you got that at all…)

Right, that’s it: going back to watch my Guardians of the Galaxy DVD again i.e. an infinitely more pleasurable experience. 

Cheers!  

Liebster Award! My Nominations And Questions

50th Post! Been Nominated For An Award!

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“Oh, what a shock! My career must be slipping. This is the first time I’ve been available to pick up an award” – Michael Caine. 

The notification came right out of the blue! Sweet Archive very kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award. This is such a great honour, and just in time to celebrate my 50th Post as well!

Thank you, Ruth! 

Blogging for just over a year; my Posts are becoming more frequent and creative; the number of Followers is steadily increasing; and Comments are always encouraging and very much appreciated. So, only too happy to continue this cool tradition of recognizing other blogger’s awesome work:

Here are the Rules: 

♦ Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog.

♦ Answer the questions given by the nominator.

♦ Nominate 11 other bloggers who have less than 200 followers, and link them.

♦ Notify all the bloggers you nominate.

♦ Create 11 new questions for your nominees to answer.

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“The great thing about winning an award is that it creates opportunities” – Kevin Bacon.

Here are the set questions, with the supplied answers:

1. What is the funniest thing that happened to you? (ever!)

– Singing my own wacky inebriated version of Queen’s We Will Rock You in a packed Karaoke Club & getting the whole audience to sing & clap along.

2. How did you come up with your blog’s name?

– Scribe is an ancient word for writer which is my true talent and reflects my passion for history; I am proud of my name – if it’s good enough for Mr Pitt, it’s good enough for me.

3. Who is your favorite actor and actress?

– James Stewart is the all-time fave – no one makes me laugh/cry more; Sigourney Weaver is the actress I talk about the most so I’ll choose her.

4. Who is your favorite singer/ band?

– Ian Curtis/Joy Division. Without a doubt.

5. If you got stuck on a deserted island, what 2 things would you rather have with you?

– My wife and a seafood dinner for two, please.

6. Of all the posts you wrote until now, which one is your least favorite and why?

– No.19: was a totally different (un-SF-related) subject to what I had been writing about before, & received the least enthusiastic response unsurprisingly.

7. What was your favorite TV show as a child?

– MONKEY!

8. What is your favorite word?

– ZARJAZ! 

9. If you had the chance to have dinner with 3 famous people, who would you choose?

– Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill & Carrie Fisher.

10. What do you like most about your country?

– The hot climate of my adopted country & the rich history/heritage of the land of my birth.

11. What inspires you?

– See No. 5.

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“Believe you can and you’re halfway there” – Theodore Roosevelt. 

It was quite a challenge to select 11 Nominees (especially under 200 Followers). The completed list included mainly book and comic reviewers, and not so many film reviewers as initially thought (so the easier movie-related questions had to be discarded!).

Anyway, without further ado… 

 

It is my pleasure to nominate:

1. Battered, Tattered, Yellowed & Creased

2. The Comic Book Reader

3. Doorway Between Worlds

4. I Blog This N That 

5. Magazines And Monsters

6. Nerd From Austria

7. The Popcorn Bandit

8. Precinct 1313

9. Sapient Chronicles

10. Schlock Value

11. The Forgotten Geek

 

My questions for you are: 

1. What is the most amazing thing you have ever done (besides starting your blog)?

2. Which one of your Blog Posts were you most proud of, and why?

3. Who is your favourite writer?

4. What is more important in a story: characterisation or dialogue?

5. If you had the chance to write the sequel to a written/graphic novel, which one would you choose?

6. What do you think is the Best Line in a SF movie?

7. What is your fave scene (in a novel or comic), and why?

8. If you could meet 2 famous writers, who would you choose?

9. Which fictional character (either from novels or comics) deserves their own movie?

10. What will be the next book you want to buy?

11. What inspired you to become a writer?

 

I look forward to reading your answers!

Critics can really get animated about this contentious issue

Cheers!

 

Pioneer of Electronic Music: Edgar Froese (1944-2015)

Founder of Tangerine Dream died last Tuesday, aged 70 

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“Working with synthesisers is a completely different approach to electrified music. We’re open to all kinds of modern music developments…” – Edgar Froese. 

The news hit quite unexpectedly this morning. Edgar Froese, who died this week in Vienna, was one of the most prominent electronic music pioneers and the only consistent member of influential electronic group: Tangerine Dream. 

Rather than be lost amongst the sound of their Krautrock contemporaries such as Neu!, Faust and Can, Tangerine Dream spent the 70s in ambitious electronic experimentation. The first albums: Electronic Meditation (1970) and Alpha Centauri (1971) were interesting experiments; but, in 1972, their third album: Zeit, a double album with one track per side, became their first masterpiece with: “just lots of strange pulsating synths and a few creepy cellos” as the 40th Anniversary CD sleeve insists.

Signing to Virgin Records gave them the chance to experiment more and resulted in the seminal classic: Phaedra (1974). It’s ambitious use of sequencers helped create a trancey, atmospheric soundscape, from which one can detect the tentative beginnings of the modern techno and ambient genres. Rubycon and Ricochet both arrived in 1975, proving that those spacey sounds could be consistently creative. 

With the release of studio albums: Tangram (1980) and Exit (1981), experimenting with the latest electronic equipment, a distinctively 80s sound emerged, and inspired the next stage of their musical direction; directors were inspired to ask them to provide soundtracks for their movies. Here they would pick up a totally new fanbase.

For the exact moment when Tangerine Dream first caught my attention, here it is…

“Together, [Tangerine Dream and The Keep] formed one of the great audio/visual events of the Eighties, and the Franke/Froese/Schmoelling soundtrack gained almost legendary status mainly because of the conspicuous absence of an official soundtrack release” – synthmusicdirect.com

Tangerine Dream were prolific composers of film music, with The Sorceror (1977), Thief (1981), Risky Business (1983), Legend (1985) and Near Dark (1987) among some of their considerable back catalogue; but it is their extraordinary soundtrack for Michael Mann’s cult second movie: The Keep (1983) which introduced me to the unique and groundbreaking music of Edgar Froese. 

At first listening, the amazing electronic music in this much-maligned cult horror movie set in Romania during the Second World War seems bizarre and incongruous, but makes for an oddly-compelling viewing experience. This may be one of the reasons why this intriguing but badly-edited film has divided opinions so dramatically. The above scene – strange and then quite horrific – naturally calls for some unnerving audio accompaniment.

Not like Tangerine Dream to oblige so obviously. On the contrary, they provide a sublime, quite uplifting track; some would say it just doesn’t work, but personally, it made for an exceptional moment. Thirty years after first viewing, the rest of the movie may have been a blur, but that scene will live with me forever…

tangerinedreamTangerine Dream

“So sad to hear of the sudden death of my friend Edgar Froese, founder of Tangerine Dream. Great memories” – Brian May. 

In 1967, as an art student in West Berlin, a meeting with surreal artist: Salvador Dali encouraged Froese to depart from the conventions of guitar rock and explore the universe on sonic waves. It’s quite obvious: Edgar Froese and sci-fi melded seamlessly. Of course, Tangerine Dream have – in numerous reviews – been labelled as space-rock. With some of the most pulsating or drifting cosmic sounds ever recorded, Froese and his ever-changing band of co-synthnauts (including most notably Chris Franke and Peter Baumann) achieved some phenomenal celestial explorations and musical concoctions. A glance at such titles as Alpha Centauri (1971), Birth of Liquid Pleiades (1972), Phaedra (1974), Patrolling Space Borders (1977) would easily confirm this.

A practitioner of Zen Meditation, Froese believed that time itself was an illusion, formed by the senses. There have been numerous nights when the meditative – as well as inspirational – qualities of Phaedra, Rubycon, The Keep and Zeit have all helped immensely in the compilation of a few of my Posts; so it seems uncanny that their composer is suddenly no longer with us…

“There is no death,” he once said, “there is just a change of our cosmic address.”  

The proof of any great composer must surely lie in the sheer difficulty of selecting just one track which best epitomises the power and influence that his music can evoke. Out of Edgar Froese’s varied and extraordinary body of work, it is this track in particular which has made me look out several times from my balcony, scan the stars in the night sky and contemplate life, the universe and everything. 

Thank you Edgar. 

Edgar-Froese

Peter Cushing: “The Gentle Man of Horror”

Actor. Gentleman. Scientist. Vampire Hunter. Time Lord. Detective. Imperial Badass.

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“The most professional actor I have ever worked with. He’s highly regarded all over the world as a brilliant actor, and deservedly so. If they knew what we got up to on the set in every film we’ve made… the imitations that I used to do, the dances that he used to do… ” – Christopher Lee.  

There is one reason why horror movies no longer appeal to me. They are certainly a barren and soulless place without the late great Peter Cushing (1913-1994). Best remembered for producing the definitive versions of Baron Frankenstein and Van Helsing for Hammer horror films, he was an actor of exceptional range and skill.

Before he made his indelible mark on the horror genre, he had appeared in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, and had leading roles in a string of TV adaptations including Pride and Prejudice, The Winslow Boy, and most notably in the live dramatisation of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is the latter production which inspired the producer Michael Carreras to invite him to to star in the film destined to change his life forever…

In 1957, he appeared in Curse of Frankenstein, playing the notorious scientist totally different to the pained and remorseful character envisaged by Mary Shelley. Cushing’s Baron Frank was a cruel and cunning piece of work, who is prepared to push a visiting professor to his death just to get a head. The monster was played by fellow horror maestro: Christopher Lee. It not only marked the establishment of a formidable partnership, but a lifelong friendship.

Its stupendous success led to another interpretation of an infamous gothic character the following year. Dracula (1958) certainly gave the opportunity for Lee to create a career-defining performance, but in Van Helsing, Cushing was calm and collected, sensitive yet determined, and ultimately presented an admirable adversary. It’s amazing to consider now how energetic both roles were: the gripping climax in which Van Helsing runs the length of a banqueting table, tears down the curtains and lunges at a sunstruck Dracula with two silver candlesticks pressed together to form a crucifix is said to have deen devised by Cushing himself!

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“When he did Sherlock Holmes, he went to a very famous teacher of the violin so that he knew how to hold it… When he was making The Mummy, he went to the hospital and and sat in with operations. He was very meticulous…” – Joyce Broughton (his secretary).

Peter Cushing could adapt to any role. In 1959, he played Sherlock Holmes in Hammer’s The Hound of the Baskervilles. Directed by Terence Fisher, many Holmes afficianados consider Cushing’s detective as the definitive article.

In 1965, the success of BBC’s Doctor Who led perhaps inevitably to the big screen. In order to maximise transatlantic appeal, Cushing was cast in place of William Hartnell, playing the Time Lord as an endearing grandfatherly figure in Dr Who and the Daleks. Its phenomenal success led to a sequel: Daleks’ Invasion of Earth: 2150 AD. (1966).

Other distinctive roles included: The Mummy (1959), and H. Rider Haggard’s She (1965). In an attempt to emulate hammer’s success, Amicus Productions joined the horror bandwagon, involving Cushing’s invaluable services. Some of the most notable films included: Dr Terror’s House 0f Horrors (1964) in which he dealt tarot cards foretelling the fate of passengers on a train; and The Creeping Flesh (1972) whereby a horrific skeleton from the jungles of Borneo “will be resurrected when the gods shall weep.”

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“The boots they gave me [to wear as Grand Moff Tarkin] were far too small. I said to George: ‘…whenever possible, could you please shoot me from the waist up?’ He very kindly agreed… I was really wearing carpet slippers. That is why Moff Tarkin was so hostile… his feet were killing him” – Peter Cushing.

The passing of his beloved wife Helen in 1971 devastated him. In subsequent years, he made movies of a distinctly lesser quality; this was a concerted attempt to keep his mind occupied as he adjusted awkwardly to a crushing existence of loneliness.  

In one of his more entertaining roles, he appeared as a delightfully daffy professer in At The Earth’s Core (1976), alongside trusty fantasy stalwarts: Doug McClure (“a very dear chap”) and Caroline Munro (“so sweet”). Absolutely hilarious, he was gifted with such dialogue as: “A rhamphorynchus! In this day in age! How extraordinary!”

Maybe George Lucas was a Hammer fan? This would help explain Cushing’s appearance in the original Star Wars (1977) as Grand Moff Tarkin: a brief, yet deliciously malevolent turn. No other actor could lace the phrase: “You may fire when ready” with such bloodcurdling doom!

Nevertheless, in real life, Peter Cushing was a kind and gentle fellow, always approachable, and never said a harsh word about anyone. Although honoured with an OBE in 1989, Peter Cushing never won any movie accolades; yet surely he has topped most horrorfans’ and movie-goers’ polls and – as new generations discover the various gems of his amazing career – he will continue to do so.

Perhaps the last words should be left to the maestro himself:

“The tremendous affection that people shower upon me, and the interest they take in my work, touches me so deeply…

“To think that young people are still interested enough in me to write about me and see my pictures is pretty marvellous!”

 

 

Great Xpectations: A Tale Of Love, Mutants And Apocalypse

What’s the last thing you remember?

cerebro

“Get off the bloody chandelier, Hank!” – Charles Xavier.

With the release of X-Men: Days Of Future Past on DVD, this ol’ X-fan has finally got round to enjoying what was inevitably shaping up to be one of the best blockbusters of the year; with Bryan Singer back at the helm, and a plot grabbed from a major story arc in the original comic, it was looking like a very promising prospect indeed.

In the original Days of Future Past comic, it is intriguing to learn that it was Shadowcat (aka Kitty Pryde) and not Logan, who was tasked with the time-travel duties.  Also, the “future” events supposedly take place in 2023, but interestingly enough, the original 1981 comic specifically mentions 2013 – the year incidentally in which filming began.

Well over thirty years ago, visits to London during school hols would always culminate in raiding the bottom shelf of the station newsagent for a comic to read on the train home. Obsessed with finding as many crazy-costumed-crusaders as possible, the search usually concentrated on teams rather than solo heroes. So, er… X marked the spot as it were. No pun intended, for any Uncanny X-Men issue swiftly became the treasure of my (modest) comic collection.

x-men daysxaviers

“So, I wake up in my younger body, and then what?” – Logan.

Why – if you like the X-Men so much – has it taken so long for you to get round to watching this: one of the finest in the franchise? Oho! Trust you to come up with such a good question, dear Follower.

When X-Men:DoFP was released in mid-May, my usual mid-year sojourn in the UK was weeks old; the film was available in multiplexes throughout the country, humongous billboard posters of Wolverine and Mystique taunted me in London Underground tunnels, but still, no muto-show. What on Earth was holding me back?

Thousands of miles at home on the Gulf of Thailand, Mrs. B waited patiently. During our daily chats on the phone, we agreed to not seeing it separately until my return.

In the past “a new and uncertain world” as Charles Xavier called it, (late 2000 to be precise), while flying down to Australia, watching The X-Men as inflight entertainment was such a great experience, and helped allay pressing concerns about how (and where) to find gainful employment and/or the love of my life.

Fast forward to May 2003, Bradscribe – living and working in Southeast Asia – sat in a fine, yet freezing cold, cinema, with his gorgeous girlfriend (who is now the lovely Mrs. B) enjoying X2: X-Men United beside him. My own “world of endless possibilities and infinite outcomes” had been seized successfully. Such an amazing movie – we ended up watching it together at the cinema three times. Not only did we promise to grow old together, but vowed to watch any more X-Men sequels that came our way!

It’s such a shame that X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) turned out to be a huge disappointment, jettisoning the drama and character development of the first two films for a monotonous cascade of lame fight sequences. It may have been a weak movie, but our love remained strong.

magneto ballsmagneto hat

“We were supposed to protect them. Where were you when your own people needed you? Hiding! You and Hank, pretending to be something you’re not! You abandoned us all!” – Erik Lehnsherr.

It should be said that it was stupendous news to learn that Michael Fassbender had been cast as a young Eric Lensherr, in X-Men:First Class (2011). Mrs. B acquired the DVD when it came out. We settled down to watch, and sure enough, Fassbender as Magneto proved to be impressive; his presence made the film work and took the franchise to an interesting new level. But it soon became evident that my beloved clearly did not dig what was going on. To her, an X-Men movie without Scott or Jean – or completely Ian McKellen-less for that matter – ain’t worth her time. Yet this new instalment, with all of Her faves reinstated, and some spectacular scenes on offer, looked like rekindling our mutual mutant appreciation.

For me, DoFP did not disappoint. Again, Fassbender is on top menacing form. An instant classic scene sees a sinister fedora-clad Eric, infiltrating the facility where his helmet is stored; the image of him marching down the corridor levitating metal balls above his palm, was cool and impressive, not only requiring  inmmediate playback, but just had to be incorporated into this Post by any means necessary. The tension between Erik and Charles in 1973 clearly in my view surpasses the ’60s drama of the previous movie. The scene between the young and elder Xaviers is especially astounding, and the dialogue between Wolverine and a dispirited Charles in Cerebro is a contender for one of the best scenes from the whole franchise.  

The final scene where Logan wakes up in a peaceful but busy Xavier School and sees Jean Grey was a nice touch and brought back teary-eyed memories of that happy month in 2003… when only one movie mattered.

x apocalypsex apocomic

“The thrust of Apocalypse is really to complete the trilogy… There will be familiar characters and new characters that we haven’t seen… ever… but it’ll be the completion of what we began in First Class” – Simon Kinberg.   

Last, but by no means least, the post-creds sequence for DoFP must stand as the most thrilling this fanboy has ever seen in any Marvel-related movie. From the depths of my dark, tangled mind, the character portrayed was instantly discernible. Apocalypse was one of the most powerful mutants, also known as En Sabah Nur (“the first one”). This final instalment in the trilogy may feature other mutants not previously featured onscreen, but should provide an awesome spectacle when it is unleashed in May 2016. But will Mrs. B appreciate it? “It’s going to take the two of us.”

Well, as our new DVD got underway, it came in for instant criticism. She frowned discouragingly during the opening mutants vs. Sentinels battle.

“Who are these guys?!…”

It is with deep regret that even yours truly had to confess to not knowing who any of those mutants were.

“You’re the fanboy! You should know!”

Yes, my dear, but 1981 was a very long time ago, and none of the onscreen X-Men sport their unique costumes as seen in the comics, so it all looks rather confusing.

When Logan wakes up in 1973, he just had to be absolutely starkers, didn’t he? Mrs. B was clearly not amused. She huffed discontentedly, snuggled down on the sofa, and fell fast asleep, leaving me to sit through the rest of the movie on my own which, as mentioned before, is what this blogger should have done four months ago anyway.

Oh well…

Er... no, not exactly
Er… no, not exactly