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Showing posts from August, 2015

What was done, was done for our salvation.

Nothing But the Night (1973)
(SPOILERS) A non-Hammer pairing of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, Nothing But the Night’s neglected status is a fair reflection that it is, mostly, a quite dull affair. Peter Sasdy’s film has been compared to same year’s The Wicker Man, with its mysterious goings-on on a remote Scottish island and particularly for its shocking sacrificial climax, but really it’s only that shocking (and wholly bizarre) climax that marks it out for attention at all (probably spoiled if you watched it under the alternative title The Resurrection Syndicate, but at least not confounding expectations they way The Caste of the Living Dead would).

Indeed, for the most part Nothing But the Night is studiously procedural in tone, as if following the banal minutiae of the investigation of Colonel Charles Bingham (Lee), a semi-retired plod, and pathologist Sir Mark Ashley (Cushing) will somehow make the last ten minutes easier to swallow when it comes. I’d have gladly sacrificed such…

I’ve just been hearing about your giant leap for space mankind.

Star Cops 2. Conversations with the Dead
Boucher announces his clever premise – and it is a clever premise – with a bit too much gusto here, as Spring has to ask Theroux to explain himself when he announces a murder investigation into two still living crew of a freighter that has plunged off course; they have limited life support and no fuel left to correct course, so they are “technically dead”. The conclusion isn’t quite so satisfying for either this case or the demise of Nathan’s girlfriend, but in general Conversations with the Dead improves on the opener through being attend to the investigation(s) rather than establishing the scene.

With the “dead” freighter crew investigation, there’s a similar problem to the guilty party in the opener in as much as once the main suspect enters the scene there’s no doubting its him. There’s a potentially dodgy Scotsman about (Sean Scanlan who, appropriately enough, has appeared in Rab C Nesbitt), but he reeks of deep fried red herring and is dispe…

I always preferred Sherlock Holmes to Dan Dare.

Star Cops 1. An Instinct for Murder
I know it’s a cardinal crime, but I do actually like the Star Cops theme song. It’s both cheese- and synth-tastic and quite melancholy, which fits the show. I also think it suits the titles nicely, which are still quite evocative and creative (especially the astronaut’s space boot in the moon dust too). An Instinct for Murder is rather an ungainly opener, probably the side effect of creator Chris Boucher compressing an opening two-parter into just the one episode.

I hadn’t revisited the series (which can currently be found in its entirety on YouTube) since the ‘80s, but I remembered it as a patchy affair (for a detailed background of the show, I’d recommend The Anorak Zone’s dedicated sub-site). As a fan of Doctor Who (and Blake’s 7), At the time, I was well aware of the credentials of Chris Boucher (and of Philip Martin, and especially the directorial chops of Graeme Harper), but I probably fell into the category of seeing it as neither fish nor fowl.…