Wednesday 2 November 2011

It's called "getting down", and it's a little before your time

It being Halloween and Vista having served me up another curveball I could not be arsed dealing with on a holiday, I instead watched a great deal of appropriate telly and films, my PS3 hard drive swelling with a veritable cornucrapia of unwatched guff ranging from Scream Blacula Scream to Let Me In and here's what I thunked of 'em...
Community 3.5 - the third holiday-appropriate special from the smugly metatextual comedy about a mixed bag of demographics who come together as a study group when their educational shortfalls catch up with them in adulthood. It's basically an anthology of horror tales told via the narrative quirks of each character and are amusing in various scatalogical, politically uncorrect, or free-associative ways depending upon the narrator and your tolerance of same. Always good to see me some Chevy Chase, too.
Whistle and I'll Come To You - which was made and shown by the BBC last Christmas and is an update of the MR James story of the same name, which I have not read, and barely remember the original television adaptation. John Hurt plays a retired chap who reluctantly places his senile wife in care and acts upon the advice of a carer to take himself away for a few days to ease into the idea of life without the only woman he's ever loved being in it. Succombing to nostalgia and/or melancholy, he seeks out the now-desolate beachside town and hotel where he honeymooned decades before and becomes the subject of a mounting campaign of strange sightings and noises by day and by night. It's a morose, slowly-paced and deeply depressing tale more than it is a frightening one, though Hurt is great as a man haunted even before he checks in to the hotel and I could have done with more of that than the door-banging stuff.
Motorhead: Killed By Death - which remains on my PS3 hard drive by dint of being utterly fantastic.

Basically, the plot has Lemmy statutory-kidnap a minor, get shotgunned and electrocuted by cops and then he drives out of his own grave on his motorbike and the cops chase him some more. What's truly fantastic - apart from all of it - is that Lemmy's mates bury him upright on a motorcycle at the foot of a ramp because they accept as likely that he will return from the dead and will want to drive out of his own grave on a motorcycle when he does so.
Dad's Army: Things That Go Bump In The Night - in the interests of full disclosure, I should probably say up front that I utterly fucking despise Dad's Army, but I was willing to give it another go on the offchance that I just have a lingering dislike born of it being on at the same time as Star Trek or Thundercats or something when I was younger, but no, it really is an infuriatingly unlikable 'comedy' series about a total asshole middle class type put in charge of incompetent working class oiks to keep them out of trouble. The plot of this spoooooooky episode sees them stop at a spoooooooky mansion in the middle of the night and then ditches that plot halfway through for some rambling on a moor being chased by very unthreatening-looking dogs. Hilarity does not ensue.
I fucking hate this show.
Aqua Unit Patrol Squad 1: Last Dance For Napkin Lad - in which a web of deceit and lies that goes back a decade is uncovered. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and the dice are rolled.

The Aqua Teens are basically the last generation's Dad's Army in that either you love or you hate. I love.
Buck Rogers in the 21st Century: Space Vampire - man, this show is amazing. They literally did not give a fuck.

What surprises me is how effective so much of this is even though it is clearly low-rent stuff, from the atmospheric score someone ran up on a ZX Spectrum to the 'Vorvon' resembling folkloric vampires in appearance, space zombies, the ship of death crashing - extremely crappily - into the space station upon which the action takes place, Vampire-Vision, Wilma's freakouts - she's been pretty useless since the pilot as her military background was sidelined in favor of making her more of a soft and squishy romantic foil to Buck, but here they really go to town with that and have her going batshit as she's the only person in the crew who senses an invisible evil at work so that when she says "for the first time in my life I could feel death as a tangible presence" you believe that bad shit is in the works. A pretty damn awesome episode that's all the better for playing it straight.
The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXII - Leaving aside that it's nowhere near as funny as it used to be, the Simpsons is still pretty entertaining now and then, but I've always found the Treehouse offerings of the last few years to be borderline-painful. This is no exception, but the 127 Hours piss-take was amusing.
Hercules: The Legenday Journeys: Darkness Visible - in which the ripped muscleman takes time out from inventing basketball to aid old war buddy Vlad The Impaler against a horde of vampires, but who is the true lord of the vampires? This show is bulletproof from criticism so I shan't even try, but it does have Hercules vs Dracula as a main event throwdown for the final act. That is really all you need to know.
Scre4m - about ten minutes into this, it becomes utterly and irredeemably insufferable and I suddenly realised that not only was there a reason I'd seen the first three flicks only once upon their release, but I had to be dragged to the second and third outings under pain of no nookie. So much of this is dedicated to second-guessing itself and pretending that this is a unique style rather than a franchise choking on its own hype and missing out that the reveal is obvious to a generation brought up on cop shows where the victim is the guilty party nine times out of ten because Scre4m does not look beyond the horror genre for inspiration. There's a bit in it where one of the cast of Community is in a car and the killer is outside, and she gets out of the car. This logic is addressed in the episode of Community I mention above, and it is discarded as stupid behavior by the cast because real people would not do something like that and this in turn makes fictional characters seem like less a human being in whose eventual fate we should invest and more a cypher whose graphic murder we should enjoy. Community - a comedy - knows this, and Scre4m does not, but in fairness, this is the least of this movie's problems.
Centurions: An Alien Affair in which the titular team of exoskeletoned adventurers battle an energy-draining space vampire freed from its prison in the heart of a comet, so you've got Lifeforce and Alien right there from the start, and an ending nicked from the Buck Rogers episode mentioned above - this is a plot that's walked many streets before ending up here, but it's great fun, the pace never flagging and even wrong-footing you into thinking that you're getting an Alien riff where the monster skulks about in the shadows while it hunts the cast, and instead it runs like the clappers up to the first human that breaks off from the herd and screams blue murder at him, giving the game away and setting in motion a 17 minute chase sequence. Like most episodes, the aesthetics are great in their own retro way, featuring design work from the late greats Jack Kirby and Gil Kane and the soundtrack is fantastically full-on. The logic at work is daffy as all hell, though: characters can't be beamed back to the space station that houses the teleporter but they can be beamed somewhere else from that space station, Ace is beamed into space and THEN puts on his space suit, the giant space claw that just attacks one character for no reason at all, shooting out the space station's engines to stop it from moving towards Earth because apparantly momentum is a thing that does not actually exist... seriously, you have to turn your brain off for this show, and a good example of why is
Centurions: Night on Terror Mountain

"Transylvania, uh? That's vampire country" offers Ace McCloud, and though the place has an advanced power plant worthy of attack by posthuman super-terrorist Doc Terror, it also boasts medieval towns and a superstitious, lynchmob-forming population that still carries flaming torches at night while they're out walking with their pitchforks and rakes. While looking for Doc Terror and Dracula, who have now formed an alliance, Jake points out cyborg vampire bats and Ace responds with "We must have come to the right place" because, y'know, he's the smart one. Gloriously stupid television.


  1. Bryan, love your TV roundups, have you checked out Breaking In, new Christian Slater show -was cancelled but then un-cancelled which is perfectly awesome considering how awesome the show is. Put it on the list son!

  2. I SHALL.

    I love me some Christian Slater, but he really is the male equivalent of Summer Glau - everything in which he stars is doomed to early cancellation.

  3. The Slater Curse has been broken with this one. Just finished season 1 and not a dud episode in sight. I love it! 13 ep season 2 on the way and I can't wait. (Big Slater fan here- he even gets to say "Greetings and Salutations" in this!)