Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Power of the Daleks

Only seven of the Second Doctor's twenty-one adventures have completely survived. Most of them are only missing a few episodes but a couple of them, like The Power of the Daleks, are completely lost*. Even without the original video footage, it's clear that the Second Doctor is a force to be reckoned with and a worthy successor to the First Doctor. Though he refuses to directly answer any questions asked of him and hesitates to confirm that he is, in fact, the Doctor, he is immediately captivating and in control. After his regeneration (or "renewal," they wouldn't use that term until the Third Doctor became the Fourth Doctor), the Doctor picks up a recorder and a stove pipe hat and then walks straight into a murder mystery. The Doctor assumes the identity of the murdered man and waltzes into the middle of a power struggle going on among the colonists of the planet Vulcan (no, not that one). Things only get worse after the colonists revive some Daleks that were found in a space capsule that had crash landed on their planet. The colonists get so wrapped up in their individual quests for power that they willingly overlook the fact that the Daleks are capable of deadly force. Everyone is so thoroughly convinced that the Daleks are the solution to all their problems, the Doctor's warnings of impending death fall on deaf ears. There's a great moment in the second episode when the mad scientist character reveals a revived Dalek to his superiors. The excited colonists drown out the Doctor's warnings with grand plans for their new mechanical assistant and the Dalek, seeing an opportunity to seize power, announces, "I am your servant." The Daleks have shown, time and time again, that they are capable of brutal and overwhelming force but this is truly the first time that we have seen how clever they can be.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from dailypop.wordpress.com)

*Audio recordings of each episode have survived along with a few short video clips. There are a number of fan recreations of these episodes floating around the internet, if you're interested. Though recently, the BBC announced that they have put together an animated recreation of this serial, using the original audio, which they plan to release this fall commemorating the 50th anniversary of the serial's original broadcast.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Tenth Planet

The Tenth Planet is an important serial for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it's important because it's the final serial in the First Doctor era. Some say that William Hartnell's contract had not been renewed over concerns about his failing health. While some others suggest that Hartnell's clashing with the production staff had finally reached a tipping point. It could easily be an either/or situation or a combination of both factors. Christopher Eccleston (the Ninth Doctor) has suggested in interviews that he left Doctor Who after one series because of his own conflicts with the show's producers. And Hartnell's health and memory problems had been a concern for a while before this point. In either case, it was the concept of regeneration and the choice of the Hartnell's successor that allowed the show to continue on for decades after this serial.

The Tenth Planet is also important because it features the debut of the Cybermen, Doctor Who's most popular reoccurring enemies after the Daleks. This first batch of Cybermen is a bit different from the ones that would pop up later on down the line. Their hands are still human and some of their facial features are still visible behind their masks. Their voices have not become entirely mechanical yet either, giving them a strange speech pattern. They make a great impression in this serial too. Their planet, Mondas, arrives in Earth's solar system, causing all sorts of problems for the Doctor, his companions and the folks at the secret military base at the South Pole. The Cybermen are smart and coldly calculating but not above killing people with their bare hands. And though their features would continually change with each new appearance, it's clear to see why they've resonated with the show's writers and fans.

Rating: Keep warm%

(Image from beyondmediaonline.com)

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Smugglers

The First Doctor's penultimate adventure finds him in Cornwall in the seventeenth century. The TARDIS arrives on a beach outside a small village that is seemingly populated exclusively by scoundrels. Seriously, every person that the Doctor and his companions meet in the first episode is connected to smuggling in some way. It's not until late in the second episode that they meet someone who isn't trying to capture or kill them. Though they were introduced in the previous serial, this is Ben and Polly's first real adventure as companions to the Doctor. Before they stepped into the TARDIS, these new companions really had no way of knowing what they were getting themselves into. And since there are no experienced companions aboard the TARDIS, it's clear that the writers had to cut a few corners in order to get the new companions up to speed. The Doctor is often quite curt with Ben and Polly and they're left on their own for most of the adventure. This serial is particularly violent, containing quite a few murders. Ironically, the only clips of these episode that have survived are from scenes that were cut by overseas censors for being too violent.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from themindreels.com)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The War Machines

Whenever the TARDIS touches down in London, it's always in what would have been then contemporary London. So when the TARDIS arrives in London for The War Machines, it's the swinging London of 1966. While the Doctor finds himself drawn to a newly constructed communications tower, Dodo just wants to hit up the hottest night club she can find. There's a lot that could be said about the poor treatment that the Doctor's female companions have so far received on the show, but that's probably better left to someone much smarter than myself. But basically, after the Doctor cons his way into seeing WOTAN, the most technologically advanced computer in existence (like a sixties Skynet), Dodo is hypnotized. After the Doctor figures out that she's under WOTAN's influence, he hypnotizes her again causing her to pass out. Dodo is then sent to the countryside to recuperate and she's only heard from again at the end of the serial when the Doctor's new companions tell him that Dodo has decided to stay behind in London. And, just like that, Dodo's short, unfortunate run on the show comes to an end. The rest of the serial is fairly decent, with the Doctor and his new friends fending off WOTAN's hypnotized underlings and some boxy robots. There was one thing did irk me in particular though, WOTAN repeatedly refers to the Doctor as "Doctor Who," the first and so far only time anyone has explicitly called the Doctor "Doctor Who."

Rating: Fab gear%

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Savages

In the final moments of each serial, we're typically treated to a brief teaser for the following story. At the end of The Gunfighters we see a man dressed in animal pelts emerging from the underbrush carrying a large club in a menacing fashion. This didn't leave me with much hope for The Savages. I thought it would probably be a serial along the lines of An Unearthly Child, where the Doctor and his companions find themselves mixed up in the power struggles of a barbaric society. Thankfully, this wasn't the case. The Savages is about a technologically advanced race who are literally draining the life force out of another race on their planet. The Doctor and his companions quickly suss out that something is wrong. It doesn't hurt that the advanced race raise a lot of red flags. Saying shit like: "You're totally free here. Just don't ask too many questions and don't go into that room over there. It's forbidden." And whenever the Doctor asks about the secret of their longevity, they can't wait to change the subject. "What's your secret?" "Hey, don't worry about it." In the end, the Doctor and his friends clean house and Steven decides to stay behind to help broker the peace between the two races.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from doctorwhomindrobber.com)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Gunfighters

When I saw The Ark, I was impressed that the production staff of Doctor Who would bother putting together an episode that required multiple live animals in an indoor setting. Doctor Who was famously made on the cheap in some of the BBC's smaller television studios. So you can imagine the headaches that filming with live animals would have caused. I was similarly impressed by the use of live horses in The Gunfighters. They probably could have gotten away without using the horses but they're a nice touch here. And even though the serial is clearly being filmed in a studio, the sets used in the production are quite good. There's an odd musical cue that reoccurs throughout the four episodes that is pretty unnecessary. Also, this serial features one of my favorite things: British actors using bad American accents. I usually find it difficult to spot a Brit doing an American accent, but there are a few actors here who don't come anywhere near the mark.

Rating: People keep giving me guns and I do wish they wouldn't%

Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Celestial Toymaker

At this point in the series, Doctor Who was desperately looking for a way to get rid of Doctor Who. William Hartnell, the First Doctor, struggled with his lines throughout his entire tenure as the Doctor. And by 1966, he was also butting heads with the show's production staff. The Celestial Toymaker was initially written as a way of getting rid of Hartnell. During the serial the Doctor is rendered mute and almost entirely invisible, the plan was for the Doctor to change form when he was made visible again. Instead, behind the scenes, Hartnell's contract was extended for another five serials. He probably didn't know it at the time, but those would end up being his last five serials as the show's lead.

Rating: This is some form of attack%

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Ark

I'm glad that copies of The Ark still exist. It's an ambitious, albeit goofy, serial. It's probably most famous for the Monoids, a race of one eyed aliens that look like one of Dr. Seuss' rejected character designs. The serial has some decent special effects for the era and a fantastic cliffhanger at the end of the second episode. But it also has multiple instances of characters trying to deliver the words "security kitchen" with ominous conviction. And it cannot be overstated how ridiculous the Monoids are, from their bizarre appearance to their maniacal lust for power. I would recommend The Ark for anyone wanting to see an example of high-reaching sci-fi on a budget.

Rating: I couldn't send you home even if I wanted to%

P.S. If you click on the picture in this review, you'll see the Doctor, Steven and Dodo casually petting an elephant. I chose this image over a picture of the Monoids simply because I couldn't believe there was a moment in the Doctor Who canon where the Doctor got to walk up to and interact with a live elephant.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve

The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve is a fairly straightforward historical serial. It starts out plainly enough with Steven and the Doctor arriving in France in the days before an epic wave of religious violence. After hitting up the nearest tavern, they decide to split up. The Doctor goes off to find an apothecary and then promptly disappears for the majority of the story. Steven ends up being the primary focus of this serial. He's oblivious to the events going on all around him even though he keeps bumping into and butting heads with all the key players. There's a nice fake out when William Hartnell (the actor who plays the First Doctor) comes in to the story playing another character, the Abbot of Amboise. At first it seems as though the Doctor has become a player in the central plot by disguising himself as one of the conspirators. But then the Abbot is killed and the Doctor shows up. It was just a big coincidence that the Doctor and the Abbot looked and sounded identical. After they're reunited, Steven pleads with the Doctor to help his new friends and intervene in the events unfolding around them but the Doctor refuses, saying that history cannot be changed. This leads to a big blow out between the two of them back on the TARDIS. Steven decides that he can no longer accompany the Doctor and gets off the TARDIS when they re-materialize. Being alone for the first time in a while, the Doctor has a good long mope about his former companions. And then, because the door was left open, in walks Dorothea "Dodo" Chaplet. The Doctor tries to shoo her away and then in runs Steven with the Police close behind. Quickly, the Doctor shuts the doors and fires up the TARDIS, making Dodo their newest travelling companion.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from Wikipedia)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Daleks' Master Plan

The Daleks' Master Plan is a good serial. It's so good that I'm just going to breeze past all of the white actors playing various Asian and Egyptian characters, #DoctorWhoSoWhite. And watching it now, some 50+ years after it was made, it's interesting to take stock of all of things that make this particular serial so unique. At 12 episodes in length (13 if you count Mission to the Unknown), The Daleks' Master Plan is the longest serial in the "Classic" run of Doctor Who. It has the first Christmas episode. It's the first time we see actor Nicholas Courtney on the show, an actor who would end up making regular appearances throughout the entire Doctor Who series. And for the first time, one of the Doctor's companions dies. Yes, poor old Katarina, the young handmaiden from the ancient city of Troy, dies after being ejected from an air lock. There are actually quite a few deaths in this serial. So many, in fact, that they wouldn't show it in Australia because they deemed it "unsuitable for minors." This serial also has some great episode titles. They stopped naming the individual episodes later on in Season 3, which is a shame when we got titles like "The Nightmare Begins," "Golden Death," and "The Abandoned Planet." Dibs on calling my band Abandoned Planet, by the way. Oh yeah, and the Monk from The Time Meddler shows up for a few episodes. The first time a villain other the Daleks makes a return appearance. Only 3 episodes of The Daleks' Master Plan are known to exist today, which means you'll have to sit through reconstructions of the missing episodes if you want to check this one out. Honestly though, if you're interested in the First Doctor era, it's worth making the effort to see this serial.

Rating: Now will you shut up, sir? Hmm?%

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Myth Makers

It would seem that if you're one of the Doctor's female companions, an ankle injury is the equivalent of a death sentence. At the beginning of The Dalek Invasion of Earth Susan hurts her ankle, by the end of the story she is left behind by the Doctor. At the start of The Myth Makers Vicki is nursing an injured ankle (an injury sustained at the end of Galaxy 4) and by the end of the serial she is allowed to stay behind, ending her time as one of the Doctor's companions. Supposedly Maureen O'Brien (Vicki) had been growing unhappy with her role on the show which made the program's new producers keen to get rid of her. It sucks that Vicki's departure from the show so closely resembled that of Susan's departure, seeing as Vicki struggled to get out of Susan's shadow from the start. The Myth Makers is one of the show's fairly typical historical stories. Landing the TARDIS outside of the ancient city of Troy, our heroes find themselves mixed up in the war between the Greeks and the Trojans. Vicki and Steven end up in a dungeon, the Doctor convinces the Greeks to build a giant wooden horse, yadda yadda yadda. Vicki's seat in the TARDIS doesn't have a chance to get cold because it is immediately filled by Katarina, a Trojan handmaiden who thinks she has died and that the Doctor is taking her to the great beyond. I'm sure that will all work out.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from Wikipedia)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Mission to the Unknown

Mission to the Unknown does not feature the Doctor, his companions or the TARDIS. Not even for a second. It's merely a teaser for an upcoming serial featuring the Daleks. Because Doctor Who might have been popular at the time but the Daleks were a phenomenon. The show's staff must have thought they were doing audiences a favor by letting them know that the Daleks would once again be gracing their screens. But it must have been confusing for the audience at the time since the serial that followed this episode did not feature the Daleks. Instead, everyone's favorite Nazi Pepper Pots wouldn't return for another month. Some have suggested that this episode was never broadcast outside of the UK, which would mean that it is extremely unlikely that any copies of this episode still exist and/or will be re-discovered in the future.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

(Image from Wikipedia)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Galaxy 4

Sometimes appearances can be deceiving. Like when you arrive on a new planet, it's possible that the bumbling robots with the stun guns aren't actually the bad guys. It's also possible that the warrior women who help you out might be planning on imprisoning and murdering you. And maybe this new planet might be on the verge of exploding. Life can be funny like that. It's a shame that most of Galaxy 4 is still missing. Not because it's a particularly noteworthy serial, mostly because there are some interesting creature designs that we don't get to see. There is a species of alien in this serial called the Rill. They breathe ammonia and control little robots that look like the Daleks, if the Daleks were made out of Dairy Queen soft serve ice cream. We only get a glimpse of the Rill in the surviving footage, but various reconstructions suggest they might have looked like a cross between Jabba the Hutt and the monster from It Conquered the World. Sadly, we may never get to see the Rill in all their original glory. (It's really not that sad.)

Rating: Not just nothing, child%

Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Time Meddler

When we first met the Doctor and his granddaughter we learned that they were fugitive aliens with a malfunctioning time machine. By the time we got to The Time Meddler, the last serial in the show’s second season, we really hadn’t learned anything else about who the Doctor was or where he came from. We had learned a thing or two about what the Doctor was capable of and what made him tick, but there still wasn’t anything terribly concrete about his back story. And even though The Time Meddler introduced another time traveler, with his own TARDIS, we never learned where exactly he and the Doctor were from or what kind alien they were specifically. What we did get, though, was a great serial. The Time Meddler combined a historical setting with science fiction themes, to great effect. It also gave us our first real chance to see the latest companion, Steven Taylor, in action. Steven comfortably filled the Ian shaped hole in the show's cast, confounding the Doctor (and occasionally Vicki) with his questions while also being young and spry enough to throw down when fisticuffs were in order. At the end of serial, we don’t know where the Doctor and his companions were off to next, but thanks to The Time Meddler the show had greatly expanded their options.

Rating: I'm not a mountain goat%

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Chase

In the very first episode of Doctor Who, Ian and Barbara force their way into the TARDIS and become wrapped up in the Doctor's aimless travels through time and space. It's worth remembering that the first Doctor is a fugitive who may or may not be in control of his ship. The Doctor is seemingly unable to return Ian and Barbara to their proper time and place and so they go with him, unsure if they'll ever make it back home. By the time we get to The Chase, the crew of the SS TARDIS have settled into a routine. They no longer seem impressed by or afraid of what awaits them outside the TARDIS's doors. They've become reckless tourists, content to sun themselves on a dying world. But as we learned at the end of the previous serial, The Space Museum, the Daleks have their own time machine now and they are ready to follow our friends until the end of eternity. This six part serial is almost like a greatest hits package, dropping our characters into and out of a variety of stories and locations. They're never in one place for more than two episodes and each place they visit could easily have been the setting for an entire serial. In the end, Ian and Barbara are able to make it back home, but the Doctor continues onward, into the unknown.

Rating: I shall miss them. Silly old fusspots%

Fun Fact: In the first episode of the serial, The Doctor repairs a Time-Space Visualiser (essentially an intergalactic DVR) that he got from the Space Museum. The device is capable of showing any event from history. Vicki uses the machine to watch The Beatles perform "Ticket to Ride" on Top of the Pops. Because of the BBC's policy of erasing old tapes, this is the only surviving footage of The Beatles on Top of the Pops.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

El Ataud Del Vampiro

If you're gonna steal a coffin (don't) then for God's sake don't steal the damn vampire's coffin.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015


This is a movie about witches and devils and so forth that is ostensibly a horror movie because people in the 1920s would probably be scared if somebody dressed up as Satan for Halloween. Anyway, there's some ok makeup and some old ladies kiss the devil's butt but it's more of a historical curio than a good movie or anything.


Sunday, October 18, 2015


An old woman gets mad when her widowed daughter-in-law hooks up with some grifter because it means she might not help her murder travelers anymore. It doesn't get super creepy until the last half hour but it's all shot in a tall grass field that seems almost other worldly, so it gets a buncha points for style.


Thursday, October 15, 2015

We Are What We Are

A mean father makes his daughters eat humans after their mother died because human stew was their mom's favorite meal. I like the idea of hillbilly cannibals but the movie is just too serious - for any horror movie to be successful you need a variety of tones, and this one is just sad and dark.


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Cannibal Holocaust

Structurally this movie, notorious for its excessive gore, depravity, etc, is interesting, since it's one of the first round footage horror flicks, but I dunno, it's pretty tough to watch a sea turtle actually get killed and mutilated on camera. Anyway the plot is some jerky white filmmakers basically rape and murder a bunch of indigenous people in South America and eventually some fight back and they all get killed, and there's a frame story of a professor finding the footage and watching it. I felt terrible the whole time I was watching the movie, so success?


Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I don't exactly consider The Silence of the Lambs to be a horror movie, but I thought I remembered this movie being a weirder goth fest. Well, the last thirty minutes or so are terrific, with some man eating pigs and man eating mans, but the rest of the movie is excruciating. Is it worse than, like, Scarecrow Night or whatever? Not technically, but with all the talent behind this one it shoulda been at least moderately watchable.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Dark Night of the Scarecrow

Dark Night of the Scarecrow is basically The Ox-Bow Incident meets And Then There Were None with the addition of one creepy scarecrow. When a small town simpleton named Bubba (played "full retard" by the future Dr. Giggles, Larry Drake) is falsely accused of killing a small girl, he is subsequently chased and murdered by a gang of good ol' boys, lead by the local postman (and implied pedophile) Otis, played by Charles Durning. After the good ol' boys escape punishment from the law for their crime, they begin to get killed off, one by one, by a sinister scarecrow. Dark Night is a decent thriller that is very much of its time. Also, being that was made for television, it doesn't feature much in the way of gore. When it's suggested that there are movies that could never be made "in this day and age" I think of movies like this. It's hard to imagine a new movie coming out wherein a mentally disabled protagonist is murdered by a vigilante group. Only for said vigilantes to be killed themselves by the supernatural manifestation of the wrongly accused. Sure, some schlock meister could trot out a low budget version of the story, but I can't imagine it would be something that a major network would pay for and promote.

Rating: 66%

(Image from Amazon)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Faculty

Remember in the 90s when meth was a drug that was "cool" enough that you could have the high school meth dealer in a horror flick defeat the alien teachers with his meth?


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Eyes Without A Face

This old French horror movie is pretty by the numbers at first - a (mad?) doctor chloroforms random women so he can cut off their faces to transplant onto his disfigured daughter, no big deal. But the great Maurice Jarre score and the human face mask the woman wears in addition to the eerie crescendo of a conclusion make it worthwhile. Also they show some pretty heavy gore for an early 60s flick, especially one from Europe!


Sleepaway Camp III: Teenage Wasteland

I must be in the minority because I found Sleepaway Camp III to be an improvement over Sleepaway Camp II. It's still not a particularly good movie, but I thought it was less sleazy and gross than its predecessor. The two sequels were filmed back to back over a six week period and to the filmmakers credit, they avoided reusing a lot of the same locations and shots. For whatever reason, the MPAA required extensive cuts to the kill sequences this time around, virtually eliminating all of the gore. Also, oddly enough, the movie features enigmatic character actor Michael J. Pollard delivering a goofy (and at times discomforting) performance.

Rating: 57%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

V/H/S Viral

I guess it wouldn't be Halloween season (um at least since 2013) if I didn't plug one of these anthology bad boys in and intensely dislike it. Seriously, everybody should watch V/H/S 2 for the crazy cult segment, but no sketches in the rest of this series have been any good. Here we've got a magician short, a dimension jumping short (that's got some ok oddities), and a skate punk short with a society freakout wraparound. I theoretically still like anthology horror, but maybe what I'm figuring out is that I just really love Creepshow.


Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers

The first Sleepaway Camp movie, released in 1983 during the "Golden Age" of slasher films, was a whodunit. The film's notoriety and continued popularity (?) is due almost entirely to the reveal of the killer's identity. In Sleepaway Camp II, we learn who the killer is in the first five minutes. Released in 1988, and followed by another sequel in 1989, Sleepaway Camp II is exploitation for the sake of exploitation. The nudity is gratuitous, the kills are frequent and ridiculous, and the story lacks any sense of logic. If the first Sleepaway Camp film was Gremlins, then Sleepaway Camp II would be Ghoulies Go to College.

Rating: 52%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Da Sweet Blood of Jesus

I must confess that I have never seen Ganja and Hess, the cult classic this is a remake of, but this one is terrific. It's definitely boring, and it's not exactly scary, but Spike Lee's careful pacing and beautiful cinematography paired with great performances and a killer soundtrack create a melange of sorrow and dread that's difficult to put out of one's mind. You could say this is one vampire movie that doesn't su--(Glenn has been fired from R3 for even attempting that joke.)


Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Crazies

If you look up "The Crazies" on IMDB, the first search result you get is for the 2010 remake. And that's probably because it has over 87 thousand user review scores. The original 1973 version of The Crazies has less than 8 thousand user review scores and let me tell you, that's a damn shame. For whatever reason I, and apparently countless other horror movie fans, had never seen this movie before. I was missing out and if you haven't seen it yet, you are missing out. It's the missing link between what Night of the Living Dead was and what Dawn of the Dead would eventually become. And yet, there isn't a single zombie in it.

Rating: 73%

(Image from impawards.com)

Friday, October 2, 2015

The Babadook

I'm not sharing any kind of news here, but this movie is one of the best and most terrifying horror movies made in this century. A woman dealing with the anniversary of her husband's death and also a weirdo son has also a ghost or monster type thing to deal with which is not exactly a thrill for her. Anyway, I'd like to think I'm a big boy or whatnot but I definitely almost had a panic attack in the theater when I saw it, so check it out!

RATING: 100%

Thursday, October 1, 2015


Maniac has managed to achieve cult status among horror fans for two reasons: Tom Savini’s special effects and Joe Spinell’s unhinged performance as the titular maniac. Because much the film was shot at night without the proper permits, it presents an eerily spare New York City. Aside from the lovely Caroline Munro, most of the cast is made up of porno actors who had previously worked for the director. Famously, critic Gene Siskel walked out of a screening of the movie after one particularly gory effects sequence.
Rating: 62%
(Image from bloody-disgusting.com)