Category Archives: Film

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

cult film rocky horrorDirector: Jim Sharman

Writers: Richard O’Brien (original musical play), Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien (screenplay)

In 1973, an Australian named Jim Sharman directed a musical called The Rocky Horror Show. The musical was a success and, in 1975, was made into a film that soon gathered a cult following.

Brad Majors and his fiancee Janet Weiss (Barry Bostwick and Susan Sarandon), having just got engaged and seemingly destined to lead a very conventional life together, have a flat tyre during a thunderstorm and seek shelter in a rather eerie castle. Here they meet Dr Frank N. Furter (Tim Curry), self-proclaimed ‘Sweet Transvestite from Transsexual Transsylvania’ and alien scientist, his servants Riff Raff and Magenta (Richard O’Brien and Patricia Quinn), groupie Columbia (Nell Campbell) and a host of other odd and interesting characters. Frank N. Furter has created a ‘muscle man’ and, to applause from his guests and servants and to Brad’s and Janet’s dismay, brings to life the ‘beautiful creature’, Rocky Horror (Peter Hinwood). This is followed by a violent intermezzo with Frank’s and Columbia’s former lover Eddie (Meat Loaf), a wedding between Frank and Rocky, a large amount of seduction, a bizarre floorshow and extra-terrestrial encounters.

The film is a parody of old horror and sci-fi films replete with all the stock ingredients – mad scientists, spooky castles, aliens, sex, gore, romance – with catchy music and remarkable costumes thrown in. It shows reckless abandon, decadent danger and carnal enjoyment, contrasted beautifully by Janet and Brad’s polite, repressed behaviour. Playing with identities and gender roles, and with the idea of taking risks and letting go, it brought together people who liked to do something different and not follow the rules. ‘Don’t Dream It, Be It’, as the song goes. Costume designer Sue Blane claimed that the musical, with its ripped fishnet stockings, glitter and dyed hair, influenced the punk movement, and we’re inclined to agree. Provocative, camp and funny, it still rocks today.

Singalong now!

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Nobody Does It Better – The Cult Film Crazy James Bond Quiz

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Here’s a new quiz to excite and delight you all featuring your favourite James Bond escapades. 1 point for each correct answer!:

  1. Scaramanga was played by which sadly now departed actor?
  2. What was the character’s unusual feature?
  3. A Goldeneye is a type of which creature?
  4. What was the name of the huge henchman with large metallic teeth in Moonraker?
  5. Name the Bond girl who comes out of the water in Dr No?
  6. Which Bond flick features voodoo activity?
  7. In which James Bond movie does Bond get embroiled in a fracas with a South American drug cartel led by Franz Sanchez?
  8. Odd Job was the brilliantly evil sidekick with a deadly spinning hat in which movie?
  9. Who played Bond’s nemesis Blofeld? (1 point for each!)
  10. Name as many actors as you can who’ve played James Bond. (1 point for each!)

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Rushmore (1998)

Director – Wes Anderson

Writers – Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson

What can you say about this film to the uninitiated? Expect pathos, is one thing. Expect offbeat humour is another. It hits high on the quirk-o-meter throughout. The subject matter is nothing new – two suitors fighting over an elusive love interest – but the set up – an older industrialist named Herman Blume (the immaculate Bill Murray) who has two sons at the Rushmore private school, pitted against plucky precocious pupil Max Fischer(Jason Schwarzman) – is. The teacher in question is Miss Rosemary Cross (a delectable Olivia Williams), who is flattered yet confused by the two suitors’ advances. Dr Nelson Guggenheim (the splendid Brian Cox) heaves his imposing, hefty presence into view to keep things in order.

What Wes Anderson weaves is a consummate masterpiece of understated comedy. Each scene has shimmering moments of deft humour, leading up to a suitably unsuitable finale that ties everything up and leaves you with a fuzzy, satisfied feeling that all is well with the world, and you’ve just been part of something special.

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The Bed-Sitting Room (1969)

Director – Richard Lester

Writer – Spike Milligan, Charles Wood and John Antrobus

If you’re looking for odd movies, you’ve come to the right place. This film is in a class of its own. In fact, if it was in school, it would probably be in detention, or even expelled for insubordinate behaviour! ‘Post-Apocalyptic Surrealist Nightmare’ is a start to describing what it features, but doesn’t do it enough justice at all. This is an illumination of the darkest recesses of Spike Milligan’s 20th Century-addled mind. It gives us a disturbing view of a world after the nuclear Holocaust, with a very British take on it, in that people attempt to return to their dull daily routines. It is quite believeable in its absurdity. Heading the cast is the ever-watchable Arthur Lowe, depicting what could be considered as what Captain Mainwaring would do after nuclear Armageddon. He would maintain decorum and a stiff upper lip, of course, despite the wreckage and carnage around him, and despite any kind of common sense.

The radiation has caused strange mutations to occur, including a reference to the titular bedsitting room itself, with some bizarrely brilliant scenes, imagery and jokes that deliniate Spike’s sheer comic genius through and through, alongside his total insanity, or perhaps ultra-sanity, in his exasperation and disbelief at the everyday insanity that regular people possess in being able to ignore the devastation and problems around them. Enjoy the show! It’s a very harrowing laughter in the darkness, but what else can you do in the face of absolute nuclear annhialation?

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The Birds (1963)

Director – Alfred Hitchcock

Writers – Daphne du Maurier (original story), Evan Hunter (screenplay)

Alfred Hitchcock, it is known, was not always very kind to the women in his life; The Birds could well be seen as a commentary on that issue.

It almost feels as if the real birds in the film are a manifestation of the state of mind of the female characters within it. The shreiking hysteria that erupts as a swarm of canaries squawk down a chimney and out of the fireplace (perhaps some kind of symbolic opening or another) is echoed by the women who squeal in fright and despair as the birds flock around them, clouding their views. This is not an outlook that I share, but it is a perception of the content of the film.

The birds slowly congregate at a children’s playground, a place also often frequented by women. The male lead, Rod Taylor, is frightened and cautious when he passes, taunted by the calls and cries of the birds. Perhaps it is a rise in feminism itself that underpins the film? The male figures do not seem to like it very much when the women speak out, but instead feel attacked and trapped by the shrill calls. To suppose that Hitchcock is criticising women because of this does not take into account that he could also be sympathetic to their cause. His female lead, Tippi Hedren, of course, was adored by him, and a they step carefully around the caustic cawing crows, they creep around the very concept of women’s liberty, but also maintaining a social order and sense of gender roles. Nature itself is responding to the imbalance that industrialisation has imposed upon it, and it is clear that if you push too hard, the opposing side will push back. Tread carefully, and don’t get your feathers in a flap.

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Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb (1964)

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Director – Stanley Kubrick

Writers – Terry Southern, Peter George, Stanley Kubrick

For me, Peter Sellers is the best British comic actor of all time. Chaplain was perhaps more charming and elegant, Rowan Atkinson perhaps more dexterous and refined, but Sellers has a versatility and brio that is unrivalled. In Dr. Strangelove, he manages to show us just how brilliant he is by playing three vastly different roles. He doesn’t rub his performance in our faces, showing off with wild abandon as some would, he just does it subtly downbeat and straight. As the effete British officer Group Captain Lionel Mandrake, Sellars gives a charming performance, having to think and act quickly and rationally in a bid to avert global disaster. As the US President Merkin Muffley, he asserts natural leadership qualities, giving a conscientious performance full of presense. (If only real presidents were this noble, but I suppose that’s the point. This is a satire, after all!)

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Dr. Strangelove himself is Sellars’ piece de resistance, or not, as a resistance is probably the last thing that Stranglove would agree with. Clouseau was an iconic film character, but his cheeky, confused persona are dwarfed in movie history by the imprint of Strangelove. The film is named after him, predominantly, after all, with the added title ‘How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’. This is Mutually Assured Destruction at its most scabrous and scathing. See it before the world goes up in flames!

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Sir Henry at Rawlinson End (1980)


Director – Steve Roberts

Producers – Martin Wesson (Executive Producer), Tony Stratton-Smith

Writers – Vivian Stanshall and Steve Roberts

A more exquisitely quirky, quintissentially English film there never has been than Sir Henry at Rawlinson End. The End quivers with delightful antics and charming delights. Sadly the sound quality could do with an overhaul, as a lot of the lines seem to be spoken off mic, unlike the crisp, crystalline, cut glass bark of the original version that Viv Stanshall recorded on the radio with John Peel. Still, the vivacious visuals and parade of peculiarities make for a heady concoction, like Pimms with an extra helping of gin and a soupcon of parrot’s spit on a cool summer’s day. If you go with it, you will embrace and devour some giddy, gorgeous Rawlinson madness.

The disappointing sound quality does distract from the exquisite performances at times, Trevor Howard doing a sterling job as the rambuntious Sir Henry, alongside Patrick Magee as the Reverend Slodden, Viv Stanshall playing the wonderfully exhuberant Hubert, Liz Smith as Lady Phillipa of Staines, and a host of other hatstand mad hatters. Attempts are made to exorcise the ghost of Humbert (Michael Crane), Sir Henry’s dead brother who was accidentally shot after being mistaken for a duck (it all makes sense in the film, sort of).

The mansion gardens come replete with PoW camp for Germans and huge pond in which Hubert fishes for unusual things. Strange incantations and wicker men aplenty beset the attendees, including Aunt Florrie (Sheila Reid), Mrs E. (Denise Coffey), Lord Tarquin of Staines (Ben Aris), Peregrin Maynard (Jeremy Child), all waited upon by the disgruntled and wrinkled family retainer known as Old Scrotum (J.G. Devlin), while strange skullduggery ensues. This is a terrific phantasmagoria of the excesses of the decadent upper classes as they reach their Rawlinson End. Baffling delights!

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