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Tag Archive: Peter Cushing


Review by C.J. Bunce

For a generation of film fans, the words “Hammer Horror” are synonymous with the first color horror movies and studio stars Peter Cushing and David Prowse, who would go on to find real fame in Star Wars, and Christopher Lee, who would be the go-to guy in the 21st century for dark, imposing characters in Peter Jackson’s J.R.R. Tolkien movies, James Bond, the Star Wars prequels, and much more.  Before these blockbusters, these British thespians made movies for a London film company called Hammer Film Productions, and they were instantly recognized as Baron Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster, and Count Dracula.  These aren’t the famous monsters of Universal Studios fame, but thanks to Warner Brothers and Columbia Pictures’ distribution, their take on these classic horror characters gained their own international fan following.  In time for Halloween, Telos Publishing has released a new information-filled guide for fans of Hammer’s horror legacy, writer Alistair Hughes’s Infogothic: An Unauthorised Graphic Guide to Hammer Horror.

As for the “graphic” in the title, it’s a bit of a play on words–think infographics, charts, diagrams, illustrations, and maps connecting the often intertwined fantasy world inside the Hammer films.  The titles to the studio’s Dracula and Frankenstein sequels provide an idea of the absurdity film goers were in for, with a list that makes the Planet of the Apes pile of sequels seem pretty short: The Brides of Dracula, Scars of Dracula, Kali–Devil Bride of Dracula, Dracula AD 1972, The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Dracula Prince of Darkness, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula, The Curse of Frankenstein, The Revenge of Frankenstein, The Horror of Frankenstein, The Evil of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Frankenstein Created Woman, and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell.  Hammer also made monster movies set much earlier than the 19th century.  The most famous starred Raquel Welch in Ray Harryhausen’s One Million Years BC and Ursula Andress in She.  Steven Spielberg would later provide a nod to Hammer films at the end of Jurassic Park.  The words on the banner falling in the final sequence with the T-Rex was an homage to the Hammer film When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth. 

One diagram in Infogothic recounts the 30 most famous actors to portray Dracula.  In others Hughes pieces together family trees based on information from the films for the Van Helsings and the Frankensteins.  A chart shows the number of adaptations of Frankenstein movies by decade (the 1970s wins with nine, and there has been 51 in all so far as we bask in the character’s 200th year).  Need to locate the story locations for each of the Hammer monster movies?  Hughes provides maps for that, too.  And Frankenstein’s monster and the Count aren’t the only monsters Hammer featured–the book includes interconnections of the several mummy movies and other creature features Hammer produced (The Gorgon, The Reptile, The Curse of the Werewolf, The Phantom of the Opera, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, The Plague of the Zombies, The Abominable Snowman).  Hughes also includes details of lesser known and unproduced films throughout his book.

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BBC and BBC America just released a photo of new stars of the next Doctor Who series featuring the previously announced 13th Doctor, to be played by Jodie Whittaker (Attack the Block, Broadchurch).  Peter Capaldi’s last outing as the 12th Doctor will be during this year’s annual Doctor Who Christmas Special.  This weekend new showrunner Chris Chibnall provided actor and character names and discussed his excitement taking on the role as caretaker of the UK’s oldest genre franchise along with three new cast members.  The next season will offer ten episodes, but won’t be broadcast until late next year.

Television actor Bradley Walsh (Law & Order: UK) will join Whitaker’s Doctor as a character named Graham, along with Tosin Cole (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) as Ryan, and Mandip Gill (Hollyoaks) as Yasmin.  According to the BBC these are the “three new companions,” and Sharon D. Clarke (Waking the Dead) will also appear as an unnamed character.

“The new Doctor is going to need new friends,” said Chibnall. “We’re thrilled to welcome Mandip, Tosin, and Bradley to the Doctor Who family.  They’re three of Britain’s brightest talents and we can’t wait to see them dive into brand new adventures with Jodie’s Doctor.  Alongside them, we’re delighted that Sharon D. Clarke is also joining the show.”

Prolific stage actress Sharon D. Clarke will appear on the new Doctor Who series.

Bradley Walsh added his recollections of watching the original series. “I remember watching William Hartnell as the first Doctor.  Black and white made it very scary for a youngster like myself.   I was petrified, but even though I’d watch most of it from behind the sofa through my fingers, I became a fan.  I then queued up for ages to get into the Carlton picture house in Watford to watch the great Peter Cushing appear as the Doctor in a full-length feature film made in glorious color (Doctor Who and the Daleks, 1965).  Am I thrilled to be part of this whole ground breaking new dawn for the Doctor??  Oh yes!”

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Review by C.J. Bunce

How can a movie get better on repeated viewings?  What makes that possible?  After three viewings of the home release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story–the Digital HD edition, the Blu-ray, and the 3D Blu-ray–it’s apparent the film on repeated viewings is indeed as good as the initial theatrical viewing if not better, a rare feat in any genre.  Naysayers who didn’t like the CGI effects of Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia–the primary criticism of the December theatrical release–should find even a home theater big screen television will mask any distractions seen on a 30-foot theater screen.  The Blu-ray and 3D Blu-ray provide the best, clearest picture and sound of any prior Star Wars release.  The 3D transfer is as good as any 3D Blu-ray release to-date, and the special effects, clothing details like stitches and seams are clear and vivid, as is the weathering (or lack thereof, when logical) on props.  As with most 3D movies, outdoor scenes, like the Scarif ground battle, are even more vivid with sharp foregrounds and backgrounds.  Check out the complete review of the film from December here.

The special features disc includes a version of the bonus features viewable together as an entire documentary and also viewable by chapter.  The extra disc available through Target stores only includes two short extra chapters, and although the creature shop feature is excellent the two extras wouldn’t normally be enough to tilt a buyer toward the Target edition–costs being the same–and some may instead opt for packaging, like Steelbook boxes (Best Buy only) or Connexions cards (available only in the Wal-Mart edition).  Fun bits in the features to look for include Bodhi actor Riz Ahmed’s audition tapes for Edwards, a feature documenting many Easter eggs from the show even the best eye likely never identified, and interviews with motion capture actors Guy Henry (Grand Moff Tarkin) and Ingvild Daila (Princess Leia), both who look little like Peter Cushing or Carrie Fisher, proving that simply using lookalikes or prosthetics would not have been a realistic option for re-creating these characters.  The standard bonus features included with the bundles are K-2SO: The Droid, Baze & Chirrut: Guardians of the Whills, Bodhi & Saw: The Pilot & the Revolutionary, The Empire, Visions of Hope: The Look of Rogue One, The Princess & the Governor, Epilogue: The Story Continues, and Rogue Connections (the Easter eggs list).

Rogue One easily merits ranking as the third best film in the series after Star Wars: A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back–but truly in a league with those two films.  One of the best war movie stories put to film, the best prequel or prequel that is also a sequel (yes, even considering the great Godfather II), the best space battle, the best use of spaceship filming (director Gareth Edwards avoids 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Trek: The Motion Picture-era overly-long ship takes and instead uses his imagery only as necessary to drive the story forward), while featuring one of the all-time best heist movies.

It really has it all.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Some call them guilty pleasures–those films that are more bad than good, but have some quality you can’t quite identify that cements them in your own memory.  You might not admit how much you like those films, but you do, and you’d also willingly admit the quality of the film is still bad, bad, bad.  As you watch writer/director Mark Hartley’s new film about two cousins that created one of the most well-known independent B-movie film studios, I will wager you will see at least four movies from the 1980s that you’ll admit only to yourself “hey, I loved that movie.”

Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films chronicles two Israeli cousins, Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus, successful filmmakers in their home country who took America by storm, taking over Cannon Group in 1980 and churning out more movies than any other studio, eventually releasing about a movie a week before it ran out of money.  The documentary highlights one of the studio’s defining, over-the-top and embarrassingly bad movies: Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.  Cannon helped the careers of names like Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren and helped propel the second phase of the careers of actors like Chuck Norris, Charles Bronson, and Sylvester Stallone.  The list of surprising names showing up in their films included Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Marina Sirtis and Patrick Stewart, and Sharon Stone, but even once big names like Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, and Peter Cushing could be found in a Cannon movie.

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Delta Force, Missing in Action and Missing in Action 2, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lifeforce, Hercules (with Lou Ferrigno), King Solomon’s Mines, Runaway Train, Invaders from Mars, American Ninja, Bloodsport, Cyborg, Death Warrant, Masters of the Universe, Powaqqatsi, and Superman IV, for good or bad, emerged from Golan and Globus’s years at Cannon.

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