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Halloweek: Gremlins 2: The New Batch by Jamie

Gremlins2logo

God, I didn’t realise how much making a new video every day would take out of me. This has become a very, very long week. Anyway, time for part 4 in the Halloweek series, this time Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

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Top Ten TV Characters: Part 2 by Jamie
I’ve tried to avoid spoilers but in some cases it was pretty… well, unavoidable. In particular I’d skip number 3 if you haven’t seen the show. That’s a character that is very hard to describe without giving much away and I tried but I kinda failed. Right, let’s just get on with it, won’t we?

5: Dexter Morgan – Dexter

Dexter is a blood splatter analyst working for the Miami Police. He spends his day studying crime scenes in order to help find murderers. He spends his nights hunting those killers who happen to slip through the clutches of the law. Dexter has a ‘dark passenger’. Dexter is a serial killer.

His ‘dark passenger’ was born as a child when he was locked for hours with the dead body of his mother, the blood literally pooling around him. He was adopted by Harry, the first officer on the scene who soon recognised Dexter’s growing urge to kill. Harry knew that this compulsion would never go away so he decided to train Dexter, to imprint a code upon him. He would allow his adopted son to satiate his ‘dark passenger’ but only with those who truly deserved to die and couldn’t be brought to justice by any other means.

I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers… That came out wrong. Perhaps I should say that I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of serial killers. Why do they do the terrible things that they do? Is it a case of nature? Are serial killers born? Is there something wrong with their brain from birth? Or are serial killers created? Is it some traumatic event in their childhood, some accident that causes brain damage or just a general shitty childhood in general? Wow, that’s a lot of questions.

What Dexter does well is portray that psychology. Admittedly it just gives one event in his life as the complete answer for his condition which I feel is often not the case in real life but as for the way Dexter describes his thought process, the compulsion to kill, it all seems fairly accurate. Dexter often displays some typical characteristics that are reported as being present in real life serial killers. He can be arrogant, selfish, cocky and often feels as though he has to act out emotion rather than having actual emotion. What keeps Dexter likeable is the code that Harry instilled in him and the fact that he does genuinely care about those that he chooses to get close to in real life. It also makes him somewhat redeemable despite his horrific actions.

When it comes down to it I find Dexter fascinating as a character especially the way he is portrayed by Michael C. Hall. I tried reading the first book that the series is based on but found the writers writing style very unappealing so I decided to just stick to the TV show. I heartily recommend it to everyone… Well, maybe not everyone.

4: Gabriel ‘Sylar’ Gray – Heroes

From the ‘good’ serial killer to very much the opposite. Gabriel Grey was a simple watch makers son who one day discovered he had an incredible gift. He had the ability to figure out complex problems but with it came a hunger. When Gabriel learned that he wasn’t the only one with special abilities, his hunger found its food source. He found that by killing other super powered humans and studying their brains he could gain their ability. With each kill a part of Gabriel died and he took on a new persona, the sociopath known as Sylar.

In the first season of Heroes there was no pretence with Sylar. If you had what he wanted, he knew that you had it then he as going to do everything in his power to take that from you. He’d have to kill you to take it but Sylar didn’t care. In fact, by the time he makes his first on screen appearance in Heroes it’s pretty clear that he has come to relish the act of killing, that he got great pleasure from not only taking a person’s ability but in making the powerful feel powerless. There’s also a dark wit and charm about Sylar’s character which keeps him from being too much of a monster.

Over the course of the show, Sylar’s character has developed in a few different ways. He had a spell of being powerless during the shows lacklustre second season but still maintained his murderous intent. In the third season he tried being good for a while with mixed results but it is when Sylar is at his most villainous that he’s a truly stand out character. When his need to gain more power, to become the most special person in the entire world is what’s driving him it’s what separates him from other on screen villains and makes him on that I’ll always enjoy.

3: Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica

Battlestar Galactica is easily my favourite TV show of recent times. I came into it late, which turned out to be a blessing because I had three seasons to watch and finally caught up with everyone else just in time for the final episode. Choosing a favourite character should have been difficult. The show is populated with so many well written and well acted personas but clearly it was blatantly obvious who my favourite was right from the beginning.

Gaius Baltar is a lot like another character who will appear later in the list. He’s incredibly intelligent, charming and has an incredible aptitude for self preservation. He wilfully manipulates the people around him in order to get what he wants which for the most part seems to be security and keeping his part in the near extinction of humanity completely hidden. There are times when it seems as though he has absolutely no remorse for his part in the attack on the colonies, especially early on in the series but as the situation around him escalates it becomes clear that his actions then and since way heavily on his soul, particularly in the fourth season. Sure, he still acts mostly in his own best interest but there are times when he acts apparently selflessly or at least as selflessly as someone like Baltar can act.

It’s in the latter part of the last season that it seems as though Baltar is most earnestly seeking some form of redemption for his past and in the last episode in particular that I think he finally finds it. Ah, the last episode of Battlestar. It had some problems like too heavy a reliance on flashbacks but I really enjoyed it. It truly moved me and I think I can honestly say it’s the only time I’ve ever been choked up at the mention of farming.

2:  Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter – Only Fools and Horses

I’m not sure if Only Fools and Horses has ever been shown much anywhere outside the UK. I’ve certainly never heard it mentioned when people of foreign nations talk about our comedies but here in Britain it’s an institution like the Royal Family… except that everyone likes Only Fools and Horses. A slow starter, the show picked up momentum as it went on until it was probably the most watched sitcom at the time. I could check and see if that’s true but I’ve got a feeling it’s probably true so why bother.

The central lynch pin of this cultural juggernaut is Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter. That’s probably not fair actually. The true lynch pin are the relationships between the characters, in particular Del Boy, brother Rodney and their Granddad/Uncle Albert but I think it’s fair to say that Del Boy is probably the most beloved character from the show.

Derek is a cockney wheeler and dealer. He runs a market stall in Peckham and has no qualms about selling shoddy merchandise or the occasional batch of stock that “fell off the back of a truck”. He always has a plan for getting rich and was oft heard to say ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires’ to his long suffering brother. Long suffering because Del’s schemes would often land Rodney in some ridiculous situation which would infuriate or humiliate him to no end.

Del often showed a great deal of vanity, often going out of his way to show off and try to give the impression that he was in a higher position in life than his actual social class. He would dress in suits, bedeck himself in gold and drink extravagant looking cocktails. He also seemed to be under the impression that he could speak French fluently despite believing ‘menage a trois’ is an exclamation of surprise and ‘Pot Pourri’ is the French for I don’t believe it.

Despite all of his flaws, at heart Del Boy is a good man who truly loves and cares for his family, his brother in particular. Del will sometimes implement one of his crazy schemes for the express purpose of helping out Rodney, only to have the whole situation backfire. If someone is taking advantage of Rodney then Del will always try and help out. Most importantly Del is always there for Rodney, even if it may seem to Rodney that Del is only out for himself at first.

Finally David Jason, the actor who plays Del, gave us one of the finest pieces of physical comedy ever seen in these British Isles. Enjoy.

1: Edmund Blackadder – Blackadder

The Blackadder clan are, generally speaking, a bunch of bastards. Throughout every period of British history there has been an Edmund Blackadder, be they princes, noblemen, butlers or officers during World War 1. Now for the sake of this little write up, I’ll largely be ignoring Prince Edmund from the first series of Blackadder because he’s not really the character that most people would think of when they hear the name. I’ll just say that he was a snivelling coward without much intelligence who’s main importance is beginning the Blackadder dynasty. Also Brian Blessed played his father. Brian Blessed is awesome.

In the second season, the Prince’s bastard descendant was now Lord Blackadder, a favourite around the court of Queen Elizabeth the First. This character would set the standard for the descendants to follow. This Blackadder had a charm, a wit though was still essentially a coward just a far more dashing coward than his ancestor. Sarcasm drips from Edmund’s pores particularly when dealing with his two constant companions, the dim witted Percy (or George) and the disgusting dogsbody Baldrick. In fact it’s normally the people who surround Blackadder that force him into the unlucky situations that he finds himself in. More often than not Blackadder is the most competent person and it is those incompetents who are in higher positions of power that put Edmund in some sort of danger. Not to say that he doesn’t manage to get himself in to danger, normally through his boastful nature. It is then only his quick wit and intelligence coupled with his extreme sense of self-preservation that help him survive.

What Blackadder does best is poke fun at Britain’s history. It puts a kind of modern spin on the ludicrous nature of some of the biggest events in our past. From the superstition of the Dark Ages, the hero worship and falling out of favour of Walter Raleigh, the obsessive nature of Samuel Johnson right up to the madness of trench warfare in World War 1, Blackadder take a sideways, humorous and sometimes poignant look at them all. Speaking of which…

Goodbyeee….
Top Ten TV Characters: Part 2
I’ve tried to avoid spoilers but in some cases it was pretty… well, unavoidable. In particular I’d skip number 3 if you haven’t seen the show. That’s a character that is very hard to describe without given much away and I tried but I kinda failed. Right, let’s just get on with it, won’t we?
5: Dexter Morgan – Dexter
Dexter is a blood splatter analyst working for the Miami Police. He spends his day studying crime scenes in order to help find murderers. He spends his nights hunting those killers who happen to slip through the clutches of the law. Dexter has a ‘dark passenger’. Dexter is a serial killer.
His ‘dark passenger’ was born as a child when he was locked for hours with the dead body of his mother, the blood literally pooling around him. He was adopted by Harry, the first officer on the scene who soon recognised Dexter’s growing urge to kill. Harry knew that this compulsion would never go away so he decided to train Dexter, to imprint a code upon him. He would allow his adopted son to satiate his ‘dark passenger’ but only with those who truly deserved to die and couldn’t be brought to justice by any other means.
I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers… That came out wrong. Perhaps I should say that I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology of serial killers. Why do they do the terrible things that they do? Is it a case of nature? Are serial killers born? Is there something wrong with their brain from birth? Or are serial killers created? Is it some traumatic event in their childhood, some accident that causes brain damage or just a general shitty childhood in general? Wow, that’s a lot of questions.
What Dexter does well is portray that psychology. Admittedly it just gives one event in his life as the complete answer for his condition which I feel is often not the case in real life but as for the way Dexter describes his thought process, the compulsion to kill, it all seems fairly accurate. Dexter often displays some typical characteristics that are reported as being present in real life serial killers. He can be arrogant, selfish, cocky and often feels as though he has to act out emotion rather than having actual emotion. What keeps Dexter likeable is the code that Harry instilled in him and the fact that he does genuinely care about those that he chooses to get close to in real life. It also makes him somewhat redeemable despite his horrific actions.
When it comes down to it I find Dexter fascinating as a character especially the way he is portrayed by Michael C. Hall. I tried reading the first book that the series is based on but found the writers writing style very unappealing so I decided to just stick to the TV show. I heartily recommend it to everyone.
4: Gabriel ‘Sylar’ Gray – Heroes
From the ‘good’ serial killer to very much the opposite. Gabriel Grey was a simple watch makers son who one day discovered he had an incredible gift. He had the ability to figure out complex problems but with it came a hunger. When Gabriel learned that he wasn’t the only one with special abilities, his hunger found its food source. He found that by killing other super powered humans and studying their brains he could gain their ability. With each kill a part of Gabriel died and he took on a new persona, the sociopath known as Sylar.
In the first season of Heroes there was no pretence with Sylar. If you had what he wanted, he knew that you had it then he as going to do everything in his power to take that from you. He’d have to kill you to take it but Sylar didn’t care. In fact, by the time he makes his first on screen appearance in Heroes it’s pretty clear that he has come to relish the act of killing, that he got great pleasure from not only taking a person’s ability but in making the powerful feel powerless. There’s also a dark wit and charm about Sylar’s character which keeps him from being too much of a monster.
Over the course of the show, Sylar’s character has developed in a few different ways. He had a spell of being powerless during the shows lacklustre second season but still maintained his murderous intent. In the third season he tried being good for a while with mixed results but it is when Sylar is at his most villainous that he’s a truly stand out character. When his need to gain more power, to become the most special person in the entire world is what’s driving him it’s what separates him from other on screen villains and makes him on that I’ll always enjoy.
4: Gaius Baltar – Battlestar Galactica
Battlestar Galactica is easily my favourite TV show of recent times. I came into it late, which turned out to be a blessing because I had three seasons to watch and finally caught up with everyone else just in time for the final episode. Choosing a favourite character should have been difficult. The show is populated with so many well written and well acted personas but clearly it was blatantly obvious who my favourite was right from the beginning.
Gaius Baltar is a lot like another character who will appear later in the list. He’s incredibly intelligent, charming and has an incredible aptitude for self preservation. He wilfully manipulates the people around him in order to get what he wants which for the most part seems to be security and keeping his part in the near extinction of humanity completely hidden. There are times when it seems as though he has absolutely no remorse for his part in the attack on the colonies, especially early on in the series but as the situation around him escalates it becomes clear that his actions then and since way heavily on his soul, particularly in the fourth season. Sure, he still acts mostly in his own best interest but there are times when he acts apparently selflessly or at least as selflessly as someone like Baltar can act.
It’s in the latter part of the last season that it seems as though Baltar is most earnestly seeking some form of redemption for his past and in the last episode in particular that I think he finally finds it. Ah, the last episode of Battlestar. It had some problems like too heavy a reliance on flashbacks but I really enjoyed it. It truly moved me and I think I can honestly say it’s the only time I’ve ever been choked up at the mention of farming.
2:  Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter – Only Fools and Horses
I’m not sure if Only Fools and Horses has ever been shown much anywhere outside the UK. I’ve certainly never heard it mentioned when people of foreign nations talk about our comedies but here in Britain it’s an institution like the Royal Family… except that everyone likes Only Fools and Horses. A slow starter, the show picked up momentum as it went on until it was probably the most watched sitcom at the time. I could check and see if that’s true but I’ve got a feeling it’s probably true so why bother.
The central lynch pin of this cultural juggernaut is Derek ‘Del Boy’ Trotter. That’s probably not fair actually. The true lynch pin are the relationships between the characters, in particular Del Boy, brother Rodney and their Granddad/Uncle Albert but I think it’s fair to say that Del Boy is probably the most beloved character from the show.
Derek is a cockney wheeler and dealer. He runs a market stall in Peckham and has no qualms about selling shoddy merchandise or the occasional batch of stock that “fell off the back of a truck”. He always has a plan for getting rich and was oft heard to say ‘This time next year, we’ll be millionaires’ to his long suffering brother. Long suffering because Del’s schemes would often land Rodney in some ridiculous situation which would infuriate or humiliate him to no end.
Del often showed a great deal of vanity, often going out of his way to show off and try to give the impression that he was in a higher position in life than his actual social class. He would dress in suits, bedeck himself in gold and drink extravagant looking cocktails. He also seemed to be under the impression that he could speak French fluently despite believing ‘menage a trois’ is an exclamation of surprise and ‘Pot Pourri’ is the French for I don’t believe it.
Despite all of his flaws, at heart Del Boy is a good man who truly loves and cares for his family, his brother in particular. Del will sometimes implement one of his crazy schemes for the express purpose of helping out Rodney, only to have the whole situation backfire. If someone is taking advantage of Rodney then Del will always try and help out. Most importantly Del is always there for Rodney, even if it may seem to Rodney that Del is only out for himself at first.
Finally David Jason, the actor who plays Del, gave us one of the finest pieces of physical comedy ever seen in these British Isles. Enjoy.
1: Edmund Blackadder – Blackadder
The Blackadder clan are, generally speaking, a bunch of bastards. Throughout every period of British history there has been an Edmund Blackadder, be they princes, noblemen, butlers or officers during World War 1. Now for the sake of this little write up, I’ll largely be ignoring Prince Edmund from the first series of Blackadder because he’s not really the character that most people would think of when they hear the name. I’ll just say that he was a snivelling coward without much intelligence who’s main importance is beginning the Blackadder dynasty. Also Brian Blessed played his father. Brian Blessed is awesome.
In the second season, the Prince’s bastard descendant was now Lord Blackadder, a favourite around the court of Queen Elizabeth the First. This character would set the standard for the descendants to follow. This Blackadder had a charm, a wit though was still essentially a coward just a far more dashing coward than his ancestor. Sarcasm drips from Edmund’s pores particularly when dealing with his two constant companions, the dim witted Percy (or George) and the disgusting dogsbody Baldrick. In fact it’s normally the people who surround Blackadder that force him into the unlucky situations that he finds himself in. More often than not Blackadder is the most competent person and it is those incompetents who are in higher positions of power that put Edmund in some sort of danger. Not to say that he doesn’t manage to get himself in to danger, normally through his boastful nature. It is then only his quick wit and intelligence coupled with his extreme sense of self-preservation that help him survive.
What Blackadder does best is poke fun at Britain’s history. It puts a kind of modern spin on the ludicrous nature of some of the biggest events in our past. From the superstition of the Dark Ages, the hero worship and falling out of favour of Walter Raleigh, the obsessive nature of Samuel Pepys right up to the madness of trench warfare in World War 1, Blackadder take a sideways, humorous and sometimes poignant look at them all. Speaking of which…
Goodbyeee


Top 10 Films That Influenced Me As A Youngling: Part 2 by Jamie
27/02/2009, 5:28 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Yes I’ve finally returned with the second part of this list. Sorry it took me so long, it’s been a weird week. So without further ado, let’s get into it. Remember E.T. and Star Wars are taken as given.

5. Transformers

Yes, the original Transformers cartoon movie, set in the futuristic world of 2005! Alright, It seemed like along way away when the film was released in 1986. The film opens with the reveal of Unicron, a planet eating mother-fucker who, appropriately enough, eats a planet inhabited by robots. Unicron, of course, was the last film role of Orson Welles. Yes, Citizen fucking Cane ended his life by voicing a gigantic planet eating robot. Not only that but Leonard Nemoy also shows up, as does Eric Idle!
There are, however, two things that this film is largely remembered for. The first is the soundtrack which features a Weird Al song ‘Dare To Be Stupid’ but more importantly Stan Bush’s ‘The Touch.’ Is the song terrible? Yes, terribly awesome! Let’s have a listen:

The other thing that this film is known for is the relentless robot slaughter that takes place on screen. Many, many Transformers die, especially during the film’s first battle when the Decepticons attack the Autobots base one Earth. Why was there so much robotic carnage? Well, it was so they could clear out the old cast, introduce new characters and have a whole host of new toys to sell!

There is one death in particular which stands out, of course. Robot God himself, Optimus “The Christ” Prime lays down his life so that other Autobots might live to fight the good fight another day. There is no way to describe how it feels to see Prime die when you are a child, especially so damn early in the film. And what’s worse? Optimus’s final act as the Autobot leader is to hand the Matrix of Leadership to Ultra Magnus who is a total fuck up. So we’re left with the impression that Prime has shit judgement. I guess I can give him a pass since he was dying at the time but still… So there’s the influence, the first time I remember feeling terrible about the death of a fictional character.

4. The Goonies

Hey You Guys! Fuck yeah, The Goonies. Action, adventure, pirates! What more could you want from a children’s film? Well, lots more and the Goonies has it all. The story revolves around a group of children trying to find the treasure of One Eyed Willy so that they can save their homes. Throw in a crime family with a deformed son and you’ve got a recipe for success.

Is it me or were children’s films of the 80s a little more risqué than the stuff you see today? This film has references to sex and drugs, the characters swear and there are times when it genuinely seems as though the kids could die. I noticed the same thing in the Explorers and other 80s kids films such as D.A.R.Y.L. and even E.T. Elliott gets wasted for fuck’s sake.

There is so much I remember about this film that it’s almost impossible for me to write about it. The truffle shuffle, Mikey’s moment ‘alone’ with One Eyed Willy, Data’s gadgets, Corey Feldman being a cool motherfucker, Josh Brolin riding a girls bike, Sloth, Chunk’s breaking down during his lengthy confession… Fucking hell, every damn frame of this film is gold.

3. Gremlins 2

I saw the original Gremlins when I was probably around 6. Too young, perhaps, but I loved it. The violence was so over the top and crazy that I don’t think I was really scared by it. It seemed almost like watching a live action cartoon. So if that was the reaction my young mind had to the first film, the second one took that and ramped it up to eleven.

Now I know some people are going to say that Gremlins 2 is inferior to the first film and to those people I say shut your goddamn whore mouths. I saw this film at just the right time for it be forever ingrained in my mind as the better of the two. There’s so much I love here. The genetically mutated gremlins, in particular the Brain Gremlin, voiced by Tony Randall, who is one of my favourite movie characters of all time with one of my favourite quotes:

“Now bear in mind, none of us has been in New York before. There are the Broadway shows – We’ll have to find out how to get tickets. There’s also a lot of street crime but I believe we can watch that for free.”

He is the epitome of what a gremlin with intelligence should be, a bizarre creature with a warped view of what civilisation should be. There’s also poor old Spike, born as a mogwai with a mohawk meaning he’s destined to be the leader of the Gremlins but this role is kinda usurped by Brain Gremlin so Spike ends up as a spider hybrid instead.

The violence is even more over the top and cartoonish than the first instalment and the whole thing is just a little more than tongue-in-cheek, with self-referential gags throughout, including Leonard Maltin with a review of the original film. Fuck, I’ve knackered myself just thinking about this film. It’s awesome.

2. Jurassic Park

1993 saw the release of three major films involving dinosaurs. One, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, would be largely forgotten about. The second would be despised and reviled for years to come, Super Mario Bros. and the third would be Jurassic Park.

Now, it’s a well known fact boys love dinosaurs but perhaps I more than most. Christ, when I was a kid I wanted to be a palaeontologist. I even had a favourite palaeontologist in the form of Bob Bakker. He has an awesome beard and a character based on him appeared in the sequel, The Lost World. I had toy dinosaurs all around my room. My carpet had dinosaur footprints in it. I loved every damn dinosaur thing that came my way, Denver The Last Dinosaur, Dink The Littlest Dinosaur, The Land Before Time and Dinoriders (which clearly had the best quality dinosaur toys.) It was all awesome, so when Jurassic Park came along, what choice did I have but to love it?

Dinosaurs were brought to life in a way they never had before. Gone were the days of bits of cardboard being stuck to lizards, stop motion animation and men in giant rubber suits (sorry Godzilla). These things looked like living, breathing animals. People say that the effects look a little dated nowadays but I can’t see it. Every time I watch it, I watch it with a child’s eyes. The sense of wonder and amazement I felt as a child at seeing a T-Rex attacking a couple of cars it still there with me today. What more can I say? It’s one of the few films that just makes me feel like a kid again.



1. Jaws

Iconic music. Iconic characters. An iconic monster. This film was my favourite when I was a kid and it’s probably my favourite now. I often have a hard time trying to decide which is my favourite film but it turns out if I’m thinking about long and hard than this is definitely it. Simple as that.

The film simply ramps up the tension with every scene by employing a technique, familiar in later films, in which you have a killer which you don’t see until fairly close to the end of the film, most of the time the action is seen through the shark’s eyes as he stalks his prey, the tension highlighted by John Williams simple but awesome Jaws theme. It doesn’t pull any punches either, with both a dog and a kid getting killed. This leaves you with the feeling that everyone is a potential meal for the great white menace.

Now many horror films, and I was technically consider Jaws a horror film, have an iconic killer but the rest of the characters are essentially cardboard cut-out stereotypes. Not so in Jaws. You have Chief Brody, the good cop who knows the score but who no one will listen to. He’s also shit scared of water. There’s also Matt Hooper, shark expert and of course Quint. Quint is without a doubt in my top three movie characters off all time. He’s the one who was most in danger of being a stereotype, just your typical salty sea-dog type but he has just enough back story and personality to make him stand out from the crowd.

And god, there are so many great scenes in this film. When the shark comes up when Brody’s chumming to the simple scene where Sean is copying his father‘s actions. Fuck, the scene where Ben Gardner’s head bobs out of his boat still makes me jump and I’ve seen this film a thousand times. But the scene that really stands out, in my opinion one of the greatest scenes in cinema is the comparing injuries/Indianapolis scene. Awesome.




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