Another mundane episode, it seems, but it begins with the strongest opening we've seen so far. It's black and white amateur footage of an earthquake in Alaska in 1964. Since it was taken by sailors on a freighter, it’s much steadier than similar footage would be if taken from land. It begins with something utterly mundane – two dogs sitting on the shore, the sort of dull thing that home movie enthusiasts used to love. The all at once, the sea goes crazy and there's huge waves everywhere… it's pretty cool, and it sets the topic and tone wonderfully.

Actual real phenomenon. Has the show lost its way?
Actual real phenomenon. Has the show lost its way?

This use of file footage is one of the most effective aspects of this episode. No longer having to rely on crappy reenactments and lingering shots of rocks, the producers can show drama directly, rather than having to imply it. Unfortunately, the footage they show is a mix of actual news footage and clips of simulated earthquakes from old movies, though to be fair Nimoy does acknowledge this. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E07 Earthquakes"

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"It is my wish to disprove the old theories concerning the evolution of life and the origin of the life force and to restate, simply, in terms of biophysical chemistry, as chemical action and reaction controlled by the external impulses." - Baron Frankenstein, Evil of Frankenstein

Evil of Frankenstein is an interesting fish. It's not the best of the Hammer Frankensteins. It has some weird pacing issues making for a slow start and a somewhat rushed conclusion, and also the goofiest looking Monster of the Hammer era. It's interesting in a lot of ways, though, most noticeably one of the most sympathetic portrayals of Frankenstein that I've come across.

Which is odd, given that the film contains this scene.
Which is odd, given that the film contains this scene.

...continue reading "The Evil of Frankenstein – 1964"

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Following the success of our quarterly magical-waste or "m-waste" pickups, the Zan'dri City Council is pleased to announce the opening of three regional m-waste management centres. These will allow Zan'dri citizens and residents to organise the disposal of wizardly, spectral, Fae, chthonic, cursed otherworldly and other magical items, at their own convenience.

Introduction

The safe disposal of magical items has long been a vexed issue. Between the closure of Mount Doom by the Occupational Health and Safety and the passage of the new Road Traffic Laws which limit burial at crossroads, there were few options for safe magical disposal for Zan'dri residents. ...continue reading "Introducing the New M-Waste Disposal Service"

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"Are you sure about this?" Wellsey asked.

"Could you be any more clichéd?" Belinda said. "'Are you sure about this?'" she added in a high-pitched mockery of Wellsey's voice. "Gahd."

The Handy Pavilion was spooky in the dark. No, Wellsey thought, not spooky. Terrifying. The huge shelves towered up into the darkness, dark and ghostly pale in the dim moonlight. The air hung still and hot, undisturbed by the vast ceiling fans that hung idle beneath the ghostly ceiling. The building seemed at the same time too large and too small, dwarfing Wellsey and yet leaving him all too aware of the many places some terrible thing might hide. Wellsey stood in the middle of aisle eight, his growing dread focused on the folding table, covered with black candles and surrounded by director chairs.

"Fuck you," he said. "I don't mean, 'are you sure we should be doing this?', I mean, 'are you sure this will work?'" ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 18: From Across the Veil"

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I've written before that In Search Of… is an odd duck of a show, because while mostly it's about wonderful, glorious nonsense, sometimes it comes down to Earth and looks at something actually real. This episode looks at killer bees, while next episode is about earthquakes, and then in episode S01E08 we're back to the Mummy's Curse.

NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES!
NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES!

After the last few weeks, this episode is almost strange in its absence of leading questions and abundance of actual names, places and dates. I'm going to come right out and say that I don’t know enough about the history of Killer Bees to tell how accurate any of this is, but like I say it's straightforward enough that anyone could check the show's facts if they wanted to. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E06 Killer Bees"

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Gwen watched as Ms Shan dropped a pencil near the information counter, and Norman rushed to pick it up. He smiled winningly as he handed it to her. She acknowledged his action with a gesture and moved on, leaving Norman staring, sighing at her back. Gwen bit her hand. What a fool. What a fool she had been! To have given so much up, only for nothing.

All around her were the Handy Pavilion staff, going about their business as if it were just another day. It was a quiet day. Fiona lugged a box of taps. Adam laughed uncomfortably at one of Belinda's jokes. Axel Platzoff, rubbing his eyes, was being lectured by Sadie MacGregor. Marlon and Wellsey were deep in conversation. Customers were few, but present. An elderly man in a tweed jacket staggered under too many cans of paint. A carpenter's apprentice eyed expensive hammers with a wistful sigh. A short woman and her tall husband pushed a trolley full of plants.

No one looked at Gwen. If the world ends with aliens or fire and brimstone or zombies, then everyone is in on the fight. When the world ends in heartbreak, there you are, alone. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 17: A Bad Deal All Round"

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Yeah, you heard right! Friggin' Bigfoot. The big kahuna himself, Sasquatch, the mysterious ape-creature of the North American forests. Episodes arguing that 'hey, maybe we can kinda-sorta talk to plants' are all well and good, but I like my nonsense like my coffee: strong, hairy and hard to capture on film.

InSearchof1.5.png
That's MR Bigfoot to you, fella.

I have odd tastes in coffee, is what I'm saying. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E05 Bigfoot"

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Jasu Shan closed the door to the office, mixed a cocktail of Paracetamol and Quickeze into her coffee, then swilled the whole thing down. Just hold on, Jasu. Darelson promised a position at head office, just as soon as Vickers retired... Old Vickers, who was barely getting by, these days. Just hold on and soon you'll be out of this dump.

Trouble had started almost as soon as she'd arrived that morning. Jane Nguyen from the Equipment Hire counter was one of that section of the staff that Ms Shen thought of as 'the normal people'. She had been showing off her new smart phone, and somehow managed to trigger the self-destruct system on Nalda Teheintausand's internal fission reactor. Axel Platzoff had tried to jerry-rig a carbon-rod dampening system out of charcoal briquettes, but Donna from lighting hacked Nalda's system and initiated shutdown mode before Axel had made much progress. ...continue reading "Do It Yourself – Chapter 16: Management Conference"

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1

The Bermuda Triangle is one of my favourite mysteries. Why? It's super easy to solve! The solution is: there's nothing spooky about the Bermuda Triangle at all. It's a huge area of sea on a number of important international trade routes. Ships and planes get lost there, but not disproportionately to the amount of traffic the area gets. No problem, no mystery, no solution required.

InSearchof1.4
Look out! It's the Bermuda Triangle. Run!

Consequently, that urge to debunk that I couldn't tamp down last time shouldn't be bothering us this week. Let's just watch and enjoy as Leonard Nimoy tells us how a perfectly harmless stretch of water is going to kill us all. ...continue reading "In Search Of… S01E04 The Bermuda Triangle"

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"I read with ardour those works, so full of genius and discrimination, which modern inquirers have written on these subjects. I attended the lectures and cultivated the acquaintance of the men of science of the university..." -- Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.

"Arms… two. Legs… two. Feet… none. Ah, now where did I put them?" -- Dr Frankenstein, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein

Alvin and the Chipmunks meet Frankenstein. Frankenstein, meet...
Alvin and the Chipmunks meet Frankenstein. Frankenstein, meet...

Full disclosure: this is the first Alvin and the Chipmunks vehicle I have ever watched all the way through. I'm sort of the wrong age for them. They were popular before my childhood, and were revived at a time in my teenage years when I was deeply uninterested in kid's cartoons. I wasn't impressed by their antics in this movie, but I have no idea whether that's because the Chipmunks are generally not great, or just because this was a lifeless outing. ...continue reading "Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein – 1999"

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