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Review: The Fourth Kind by Jamie

Alien Abduction. It’s a very serious problem which troubles crazy people on a daily basis. Or at least it used to. I mean, does anyone really care about the whole alien abduction phenomenon since ‘The X-Files’ went off the air? Haven’t we grown as a species and, apart from a few fringe die hard believers, kind of moved on from that ridiculous belief which once seemed so prevalent?

Now, as I’ve stated before I used to be a believer in practically any paranormal bullshit that came along. I was an atheist but not yet a sceptic. The real big thing for me though was the Greys. Something about them just grabbed my attention when I was younger. I was even pretty convinced that my brother was abducted by aliens because he had a fear of masks (A common complaint amongst those who believe they’ve been abducted…. God, I wish I didn’t know that) and because he used to talk really loudly in his sleep. Not pleasant talk either, more aggressive and terrified.

Even know I have a soft spot for the big-eyed bastards. There’s just something about them that really gets to me and kind of still creeps me out. I remember how much pictures of them or seeing them in films used to creep me out. I’d always have to look away when ever they appeared in a magazine, book or on the screen but I’d always have to look again even though I knew it scared me. Yeah I was weird.

This is my probin’ hand, bitch.

Then came my great sceptical awakening. Still not sure entirely when it happened but certainly in my very early twenties, which kind of saddens me that I spent so much time and money pursuing my interest in the paranormal. To be fair having all this knowledge about the weird things people believe probably gave me the tools to be a better sceptic so swings and roundabouts I suppose. But yeah, one day I just stopped believing in all of it. I was an atheist because I didn’t see any conclusive evidence for the existence for a God and I kind of realised that I should probably apply the same rule to all these paranormal beliefs I had and, on further investigation, none of them held up to that kind of scrutiny.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that aliens definitely don’t exist. On the contrary, I think it perfectly reasonable to think that somewhere beyond the reaches of our pale blue dot, life exists but not because of that same old argument ‘Well, it’d be arrogant to assume we’re the only intelligent life in the universe.’ It’s not arrogant because we’re the only example we know of. It’s a pretty small sample to draw from. Still the fact that life has evolved on this planet and given the vastness of the universe, it’s perfectly acceptable to speculate that it’s probably happened somewhere else.

The idea that aliens have actually visited us, on the other hand, is a totally different kettle of fish. The physics involved with long term space travel just make it seem really, really unlikely. Not necessarily impossible but really, really unlikely.

Anyway, that’s my background with alien abduction and thoughts on it now. I suppose we should probably take a look at this little movie also dealing with this particular subject, ‘The Fourth Kind’.

Let’s begin with the movie’s biggest flaw. It starts off with Mila Jovovich appearing on screen and explaining that the film is based on actual events and dramatizations of those events will be interspersed with actual recordings that were taken at the time. This often takes the form of a split-screen with one side showing the dramatization and the other showing the ‘real life’ recordings. The main problem with this gimmick is that it’s fucking annoying. I don’t need two people saying the exact same dialogue. True, the gimmick does provide some of the better parts of the film later on but that is just the “actual” recordings played by themselves. The whole split-screen thing is just kind of intrusive, especially when they start fucking around with it and splitting the screen into multiple little boxes and they start moving all around the screen.

The worst example of this is during a fairly tense scene. A man who has uncovered some rather disturbing memories involving alien intruders has decided to hold his family hostage with a pistol. Mila Jovovich, playing the man’s psychiatrist, is trying to talk him out of killing anyone and the tension starts to build and them these squares just form and start moving all over the place and it kind of ruins the mood.

To be fair, that’s probably the worst thing I can say about this film. The problem is though that it happens a lot. What could have been quite a tense, fluid abduction thriller is constantly having it’s mood broken.

Now the film kind of plays out like an episode of ‘The X-Files’ just without Mulder and Scully. Which is no bad thing for me… except for the no Mulder and Scully thing. That kind of sucked. But yeah, ignoring the ridiculous gimmick, it’s actually a fairly well-paced thriller with a few generally creepy and outright scary moments.

There are a couple of scenes in particular in which a couple of characters are possessed by an alien who speaks ancient Sumerian that I actually found kind of difficult to watch alone by myself at night in a hotel. The noise the people make before the aliens begin speaking through them is pretty fucking horrific and, though it’s difficult to make out because the recording becomes distorted, something happens to the peoples faces during this possession that just reminded me of the final scene in ‘Rec’ which I will maintain is one of the creepiest fucking scenes ever put to film.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting much from this film. I was thinking it was gonna another shitty, boring film based on “true” events like ‘Paranormal Activity’ was but I was actually quite pleasantly surprised. Still it could have been so much better if they’d just restrained themselves with the whole stupid split-screen bullshit. Probably could have done without the whole ‘based on true event’ angle as well really. I know it isn’t, you know it isn’t so why even bother. Just make an interesting film for fucks sake.

Finally a note about the owls in the film. I kind of like the effect used around the owls eyes, like ink was seeping from their eyes into their feathers, giving them the appearance of the classic gray alien eyes but come on. Owls aren’t scary or threatening at all. Would it have hurt to show at least one alien? I mean seriously, I spent the whole film waiting to just get a glimpse of those little abducting bastards and instead I get fucking barn owls as a substitute. There is nothing remotely threatening about a cuddly, little barn owl…

Holy shit! Has anyone made a film about killer owls? Seriously Hollywood, if no one’s made a killer owl film, get on it. That shit would be awesome. They are purest evil.

Overall I’ll give ‘The Fourth Kind’ three pints out of five. It was a pretty decent paranormal thriller with some pretty good ideas but ultimately it’s kind of ruined by it’s own attempts to be different. Keeping it simple would have made it so much better. Laterz.

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Review: Predators by Jamie

Remember ‘Predator‘? It was a film made in 1987 that rocked your world. It rocked it and it rocked it hard. Remember those iconic scenes like a group of badasses shooting the shit out of a jungle or Billy staying behind on the log to take the Predator on alone? Well the writers (Michael Finch, Alex Litvak), producers (Robert Rodriguez, John Davis, Elizabeth Avellan) and director (Nimrod Antal) of ‘Predators’ certainly remember those scenes and are happy to show you half-assed versions of them because, hey, doing something original would just be too much bother.

Now there are things here which weren’t just ripped wholesale from the original ‘Predator’ and those things, for the most part, were incredibly, incredibly dull. It was mostly scenes of people walking through a jungle and when they weren’t walking through a jungle they were spouting some of the most terribly written dialogue ever committed to film.

Maybe I’m being a bit too harsh. Maybe the problem is that I decided to watch the first and second Predator films before going to see this. Maybe all those scenes which were taken from the original seemed more like a nice, nostalgic homage to those who hadn’t seen the first one that day. All they did was reminded me of a far better, far less boring film. There’s none of the snappy dialogue that made even some of the slower scenes of that first film so fun to watch.

Again, maybe that’s not entirely fair. There were a few moments when I perked up and thought that something was finally going to happen. Generally anytime Topher Grace was on screen was quite fun as was the short time that Laurence Fishburne. They seemed to have the most developed and engaging characters which is a shame because they didn‘t get enough screen time and the rest of the characters just seemed to be stock characters who got barely any development whatsoever.

In the first film they managed to achieve character development through the interactions and dialogue of the characters as they trek through the jungle. You get an idea of who those characters are even though they do little more than trek through the jungle trying to hunt the hunter. In this film most of the dialogue seems to serve as little more than exposition especially the lines of Adrien Brody’s character who only seems to be there to figure out what’s just happened or what is about to happen and then explain those things to the rest of the crew.

There’s even a scene where Alice Braga relays the plot of the first Predator film. Why? Why does this need to happen? She could have explained that humanity had encountered these creatures before without essentially reading a synopsis of the first film. Like so much of this film, it just ends up being boring.

‘Predators’ also manages to piss me off by introducing these new, bizarre Predators which are apparently bigger and badder than the crab/vagina faced beasts we’ve come to now and love over the years. These new ones have slightly different faces with extended lower mandibles and as I say are apparently bigger though that’s kind of hard to ascertain during the film. Also they capture the Classic Predator’ types and hunt them as well. Why does this piss me off? Well because it just doesn’t make sense in the context of the series. Remember Jurassic Park 3? In that film a group of people go back to the same island that was in Jurassic Park 2 but this time there’s a bigger, badder carnivore there in the form of Spinosaurus. In the very beginning of the film it kills the T-Rex, beloved favourite dinosaur of many a human being. That was a dick move and it doesn’t make sense because that Spinosaurus probably should have shown up in Jurassic Park 2 if it was such a dominant carnivore on such a small island.

I have similar feelings about these new Predators. If they are so much more badass than the original Predators, how come we’ve never seen them before? I suppose you could say that these Predators do all their hunting by gathering specimens and bring them to game preserve planets but if this blood feud is as intense as it is implied in the film than how would the classic Predators get any hunting done without fear of being hunted themselves by these new Predators. It makes much more sense that one type would wipe out the other before resuming their normal hunting practices. Sigh. I guess I’m just over-analysing things as usual but I can’t help the way that my mind works.

Still the biggest problem with this is that the final showdown feels very Alien Vs Predatory. This time though you don’t have Xenomorphs, humans and Predators going at it. It’s Predator, human and Predator and that sucks just as hard. All right, it didn’t suck as much as Alien vs. Predator but it still wasn’t anything interesting.

So yeah, overall I was pretty damn disappointed with this film. I was so looking forward to it and it was just boring and that’s the worst crime a sci-fi, action film can commit. A lot of people have been saying that this is finally the worthy sequel that ‘Predator’ has been so deserving of. I’m sorry folks but I just don’t see it. Sure ‘Predator 2’ wasn’t a perfect film but it’s a helluva lot less boring than this tired, plodding piece of shit that does nothing we haven’t seen before. Even the Predator’s hunting dog things looked like someone had seen those dog things from ‘Avatar’ and said “Yeah, that’s what Predator needs. Let’s just add some spikes that would make their evolution and survival literally impossible.” Oh, and the less said about Adrien Brody’s American version of Jason Statham’s voice, the better.

Still it is better than both AVPs… I’ll give it that. Overall I rate Predators two pints out of five. One for some of spine-ripping scenes which were kinda cool and a half each for Topher Grace and Laurence Fishburne. Laterz.



Review: Independence Day by Jamie

It’s hard to believe that our little America was 234 years old yesterday. It seems like only yesterday that you were dressing up like Natives and dumping our tea in the Boston harbour. Now look at you. All grown up with your own postal service, building codes and monuments. We’re so proud of you.

It’s equally hard to fathom that the film ‘Independence Day’ is fourteen years old. Seriously, just try and fathom that, I dare you. See? I told you. It’s practically unfathomable. Still I can remember watching this film in some tiny cinema in some backwater Essex town which name escapes me now but it was certainly between the time that Braintree’s cinema closed and it’s new one opened. It could have been anywhere but I can still remember thinking how weird it was that this place that was essentially a village had a cinema whilst Braintree, an averagely sized town had none. I think I saw ‘The Blair Witch Project’ in the same place.

Anyway, that’s besides the point. The point is that I can remember that I was blown away by the film back then. It was fucking awesome seeing all those alien spaceships and exploding monuments. What wasn’t to love? My excitement was probably heightened by the fact that I was an eleven year old seeing a 12 rated film in the cinema and also the fact that I was deep into my fascination with the paranormal back then, particularly aliens so the fact that this film referenced things like Roswell and Area 51 was just icing on the awesome cake for me. Still some things stuck out as odd to me even back then. In particular the portrayal of the British soldiers but I’ve already gone into that in my ‘2012’ review.

I remember even have the graphic novel adaptation of the film which I read on the way to the cinema, something that I certainly wouldn’t do now. Fuck I even try and avoid comedy trailers nowadays simply because I don’t want the funny bits of the film ruined. I loved this film so much that I even had a couple of the alien action figures. I thought they were awesome with their weird bio-mechanical suits and frail little inhabitants. Yes, I was completely sucked in by the awesome I perceived ‘Independence Day’ to be.

So what would it be like watching it again now? I have actually watched it since, well, watching it may be a bit of an exaggeration. Let’s just say it’s been on whilst I’ve been in the vicinity of the television. Yes, it was time to actually sit down and watch it properly… And then watch it with the Rifftrax commentary directly afterwards. If anything’s worth doing it’s worth doing right.

So what’s the film about? Really? You need me to explain it? Everyone’s seen it, right? Can I finish a sentence in this paragraph without a question mark? Yes. Yes I can.
Anyway the basic gist of the plot is that aliens come and attack Earth. A group of generally unrelated characters come together and fight back and save America and the rest of the world from the alien menace. That’s pretty much it.

So who are these disparate characters? Well, there’s uh… ummm J-Jeff… Ah, yes Jeff Goldblum playing Jeff Goldblum playing David Levinson. No, that wasn’t a typo. Jeff Goldblum basically brings his usual Jeff Goldblum thing to this character but hey, he’s good at it so who am I to complain? David is a genius who manages to figure out the aliens are planning to attack. He decides to travel to Washington with his father Jewlius Levinson played by Judd Hirsch… Sorry, that should be spelled Julius. I just got confused because Julius is perhaps the most stereotypical portrayal of a New York Jewish character ever portrayed on screen. Seriously, he’s meshuga with the over the top Yiddish. Oy vey.

Anyway as I was saying, they schlep to Washington to meet David’s ex-wife Constance Spano (Margaret Colin) who just happens to be an advisor to President Thomas J. Whitmore (Bill Pullman). In fact it was her decision to further her career in politics that caused their divorce. Still right now David needs to see the President so I guess it all conveniently worked out for the best.

Meanwhile The Fresh Prince of the US Air Force Captain Steve Miller (Will Smith) is having problems. The first is that he wants to become an astronaut but is finding it difficult because he is in love with Jasmine Dubrow (Vivica A. Fox), a stripper, and NASA apparently has very strict rules against hiring people as astronauts if they want to marry a stripper. His second problem is that his Fourth of July weekend has been cancelled thanks to the massively inconvenience of an alien invasion. Thirdly, he has the most annoying best friend in the history of the world, Captain Jimmy Wilder (Harry Conick Jr). Thankfully the aliens sort out his third problem for him.

Even more meanwhile redneck drunkard Russell Casse (Randy Quaid) is having issues due to an alien abduction related incident ten years prior. It causes him all sorts of drink related problems such as crop-dusting the wrong fields and being a really, really shitty father. He’s just been looking for a chance to get back at those extra-terrestrial bastards and it looks like he might finally get it.

So that’s your main cast I guess. There are a few other characters that round the whole thing out like the president’s other employees, William Grey (Robert Loggia) , the wise but gruff military general and Albert Mimzki (James Rebhorn), the nuke happy, douche bag Secretary of Defence. There’s also wacky Area 51 researcher Dr. Brackish Okun, a man apparently so despised by his own parents that they named him after salty water and Marilyn Whitmore (Mary McDonnell), the First Lady who may or may not die in order to provide a poignant moment. By the way, she totally dies. Seriously though, they should have let her play the president, though I may be biased by my complete love of Battlestar Galactica.

So does the film hold up these days? Do I still believe it to be an unrelenting pile of awesome? Well, no. The special effects certainly look a little shoddy these days especially the scene with the incredible slow moving fireball in the tunnel which Jasmine, her son and their dog manage to escape by escaping into a maintenance room. The green screen effect is pretty fucking horrible, probably even by the standards of big blockbusters in the 90s. Plus there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of detail on the spaceships, more the illusion of detail… That’s not fair perhaps but what I’m talking about specifically is the giant death ray on the bottom of the ships. There’s just some metal bits and then a lot of ill-defined blue stuff.

As for the story it’s certainly true that much has been made of the ending where David and Steve manage to upload a computer virus into the alien ships systems and with good reason. It’s perhaps one of the most patently ridiculous plot points in any movie ever made. Seriously. If Macs are safe from the majority of viruses that can seriously shit up a Windows PC then how are we able to accept that we could infect a completely alien computer network with one? That shit just doesn’t make sense. And yes, I realise that it’s all supposed to be a modern, technological reference to ‘The War of the Worlds’ with the cold that wiped out the aliens replaced with a computerised version instead but I don’t care. As I previously stated, that shit just doesn’t make sense.

I suppose I can’t really finish this without bringing up President Whitmore’s little speech. Now thanks to the magical wonders of someone who can’t hold a camera still filming their television screen whilst the scene is playing, we can watch it. Let‘s do that, won‘t we?

Well, what can I say about it? Is it a bit cheesy, over-emotional and over-patriotic? Yes, yes it is. But then so is America. Don’t get me wrong, America, it’s these very qualities which endear you to me. I may not understand your rampant patriotism or emotionalism and there’re certainly not everyone’s cup of tea or light beer or whatever it is you drink in the States but I can find them charming in the same way that you find our Britishness quaint and endearing. Unfortunately the emotional impact of this scene is somewhat hampered by that whole British soldiers thing I mentioned earlier which happened but a few moments earlier.

And despite all the bad stuff I’ve said about this film, there’s an undeniable quality to it that just makes it somewhat entertaining. Sure there isn’t actually as much action and blowing shit up as you might expect from a sci-fi summer blockbuster and there are definite sections of the film which just seem to lull for what seems like an inordinate amount of time and the characters may all be cardboard cut-outs or stereotypes with no real reason to care but still about them but the movie somehow overcomes all those little problems to do what it sets out to do. Much like a little band of colonies did some 234 years ago. Happy America Everybody!

Oh, also the scene where the White House blows up is still pretty awesome.



Generation X – Part 3: Squeeze by Jamie

Generation X: Squeeze (Production No. 1×02)

Written By Glen Morgan & James Wong, Directed By Harry Longstreet.

BBC Air Date: 03/10/1994

Well we finally come to the first of the ‘Monster of the Week‘ episodes of the X-Files and what a monster it is. First, the synopsis. Scully is asked to help on mysterious murder case by an old friend Agent Colton (Donal Logue). The cases are mysterious due to the fact that there seems to be no obvious point of entry and the liver is torn from each victim with the killers bare-hands. Mulder joins the investigation with his own theories and immediately gets Colton‘s back up. They apprehend a subject and, when Mulder introduces some of his own questions during a lie detector test, Colton officialy gets him taken off the investigation and the suspect, Eugene Victor Tooms (Doug Hutchins), is set free . Mulder, believing Tooms to be a genetic mutant who needs livers in order to hibernate for decades at a time, continues anyway since the case has some similarities to one of his X-Files and Scully decides to side with him instead of Colson. In the end, of course, it turns out that Mulder was right and they finally capture Tooms again.

This episode was one of the first that gave us the sense that The X-Files was going to be something more than aliens and abductions all the time and thank fuck for that. I mean, seriously, the whole over-arching mythology is alright in small doses but there is no way in hell I‘d be able to take that for an entire series. Really, it‘s these Scooby Doo-esque episodes which make the series, especially later when the mythology just becomes bloated and convoluted.

So, allow us then to delve deeper into this episode. There are some awesome moments held within. Mulder in particular is in top form. There are some great character moments when he’s dealing with Agent Colton who basically seems to view Mulder as a fucking joke. One of the first questions Colton asks Mulder if he suspects little green men are responsible for the murders. Mulder responds completely straight faced that the little men are in fact grey, from Reticula and that they are notorious for the extraction of human livers due to an iron deficiency in the Reticulan galaxy. He then asks him if he knows what liver and onion goes for in the Reticulan galaxy before turning around and doing his fucking job like a real FBI agent. This episode also features on of Mulder‘s classic lines after realising he‘s just put his hand in human bile, “Is there anyway I can get it off my fingers quickly without betraying my cool exterior?” Classic Mulder.

It‘s also nice to see Scully siding with Mulder in this episode, having had enough of Colton constantly bad mouthing him. It‘s clear that, though she may not agree with all of his ‘spooky‘ ideas, she does have a certain amount of respect for him and regards him as a partner who she is loyal to. You also get to see her kicking the ass of a killer mutant who has already killed several people showing that she‘s more than just an expert in medical science. She‘s also an expert in Ass-Kickery.

Finally onto Tooms himself. This really needed to be a strong episode in order to show that The X-Files could be more than that show about aliens and stuff and thankfully it was. This was mainly down to the character of Eugene Victor Tooms, a genetic mutant who is over one hundred years old, eats human livers in order to allow him to hibernate for periods of thirty years and also has the ability to stretch and squeeze into tiny places. That is a fucking awesome concept for a monster and it‘s the reason that Tooms remained one of the series favourite villains despite only appearing in two episodes.

I did always feel a little sorry for Tooms though. I got the impression that if he didn‘t get those livers and enter his hibernation, he‘d wither and die. Of course if he‘d just end up aging naturally at the same speed as everyone else or at a much faster rate is up for debate I suppose. You also do get the strong impression that Tooms does quite enjoy his little acts of murder.

Overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable episode that kicks of the whole ‘Monster of the Week‘ concept and kicks it off strong, deepens the characters of both Mulder and Scully and presents an awesome villain. Four and a half pints out of five. Laterz.



Five Terrifying Monsters From My Childhood by Jamie

Childhood is generally a magical time filled with wonder and amazement but it is also a horrific nightmare filled with monsters. Many of these evil creatures come from watching film and they leave a lasting impression that lingers with us for the rest of our lives, lurking at all times in the back of our mind. This then is a list of some of those things which still haunt my brain to this very day. Warning: Here Be Spoilers

5. Greys (Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, The X-Files, countless other things)

Whether you believe that they actually exist or not, and personally I don’t, there is something undeniably creepy about the alien species generally referred to as the Greys. There’s something about their huge black eyes and largely feature-less face that causes some kind of primal fear. I think it’s something to do with the fact that they seem completely emotionless and you can’t tell what they are thinking. There’s also the way that they are often depicted as moving in films.

Take the way that the ‘leader’ from Close Encounters moves. It‘s got a disturbing weirdness to it‘s movement, probably something to do with the limitations of the special effects but still. In other media they aren’t portrayed as anything less than terrifying, generally performing some kind of medical procedure, never saying a word just carrying out their tasks in an almost deliberate, robotic fashion.

Then there’s a film called Alien Abduction: The McPherson Tape. It’s a hand-held, Blair Witch style film that tells the tale of a family practically held hostage within their own home by some Greys that they‘ve managed to piss off. It’s cheesy as fuck but when I was younger it used to terrify me, particularly the last scene which was just creepy as fuck. Oh, and there’s also an interview with a British musician who is an alleged abductee (Actually just an actor portraying the role to try and keep up the premise that the video is real found footage) who uses the phrase ‘Big Headed Wankers’ which used to amuse me and my brothers to no end. It’s actually on YouTube, part one can be found here.

4. The Wheelers (Return To Oz)

The Wheelers are like a monstrous amalgamation of people, bicycles and hyenas. They hunt their prey on the wheels that they have in place of hands and feet, laughing like maniacs as they do so. Of course the question which is immediately raised in your mind is ‘But Jamie, if they don’t have hands, how can they possibly catch that which they are chasing?’ And whilst it’s not actually raised in the film, I have my theory.

Surely, since their hands are fucking wheels, they only have one possible method for catching their quarry and that must be their mouths. Yes, I put it to you that the Wheeler’s capture and then eat their prey. That is fucking horrible. And guess what else they do. They wear helmets which, when their head is turned down towards the ground, has a second, creepier face on it!

I will say this though, they be some stylin’ motherfuckers. They got these long sleeved, clown-esque jackets which they often accessorise with multi-coloured pipes. Above that they wear those things which I can’t remember the name of. Not sure If I ever knew the name of them actually. They often appear in cartoons involving conductors or opera singers and a character will generally grab it and roll it up like a window blind. You know the thing I’m talking about. They also wear colourful bowties. Nice.

3. The Skeksis (The Dark Crystal)

Who doesn’t love The Dark Crystal? It’s a classic in the puppet/fantasy genre and it features the innocent Gelflings, the wise urRu and the… Holy Fucking Shit! What is that hideous vulture dinosaur thing?!?! Oh dear God, keep it away! Keep it away!

Yes, the Skeksis, the evil side of the once benevolent UrSkeks race which, as we all know, was splintered into two separate races, along with the urRu, when the Dark Crystal was fractured. The Skeksis have ruled their world for over a thousand years going so far as to commit genocide against the Gelfling due to a prophecy that a Gelfling would bring an end to their rule. Not only are they evil monsters but they are evil monsters who take superstition and myth seriously. Sure the prophecy turned out to be true but it was probably quite self-fulfilling.

So terrified was I by the Skeksis when I was younger that even to this day, whenever The Dark Crystal is brought up in conversation my mother helpfully informs everyone of just how much they used to frighten me. Seriously though who could blame me? I mean just look at them, they are the very embodiment of a child’s third worst nightmare. Thankyou Jim Henson for improving my life by inventing The Muppets, Sesame Street, The Fraggles and Dinosaurs and for scarring me for life by creating The Dark Crystal and making me want to stab/shit myself in terror whenever I see a vulture. I’ve had some pretty awkward moments being ejected from zoos, I can tell you.

2. The Child Catcher (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang)

The country of Vulgaria seems like quite a nice place to visit despite the awful name it suffers from. With it’s Bavarian architecture and cobbled streets it seems like the kind of place that would make really good chocolate and beer. But after staying there for a while you’d notice a disturbing lack of children and disturbing number of depressed toy-makers played by Benny Hill. You see the problem is that the Baron of Vulgaria is a child-hating, toy-loving lunatic (which I admit makes it sound like he and I would get on quite well) who has hired one of the most terrifying characters ever capture on celluloid to hunt down and capture children.

This horrible, mincing freak with his top hat and elongated nose has haunted the dreams of many a child. There’s just something so… paedophiley about him. He’d stalk the streaks of Vulgaria with his cage disguised as a free treats cart offering sweets and ice-cream to any child who happened to cross his path making us all afraid to trust those perfectly nice strangers who would offer us sweets in the park. Bastard.

To top it all off he could actually smell children! How the fuck do you escape a villain with that kind of power? You can’t hide from him because his powerful nostrils would flare and he’d soon find you. One offer of a free sweet later and BAM! You’re locked up in some dungeon type place, never to see your parents again. There is one question I do have though: When the children grow up, were they freed from their subterranean prison? I can’t imagine that the population of Vulgaria would grow if they didn’t and I’m sure it would affect morale within the country if you citizens had spent the formative years of their lives locked in a fucking dungeon by their leader.

1. The Father (Mac and Me)

This is it. The big one and I’m sure I’ll be mostly alone on it. Mac and Me was a film which tried to capitalise on the success of E.T. by being released six years later and having a shittier but similar story. I’ve kind of reviewed it before and so I shan’t go into all the plot details again. I’ll just say that there are a few things that this film is famous for a number of things. One is the scene involving the main kid in the wheelchair flying over a cliff which used to played on Conan O’Brien when Paul Rudd would come on to promote a film. The second is that the film was really nothing more than a shameless plug for McDonalds, Skittles and Coca-Cola. There is an impromptu dance number in the middle of a McDonalds, Ronald and everything. It’s pretty fucked up.

Anyway the reason that this film sticks in my mind is because of Mac’s father, an unnamed alien who used to scare the shit out of me as a kid. There was something about his gaunt expressionless face that terrified me. It never changed no matter whether he was lying dying in a cave or whether he was wielding a gun in a supermarket. Yes. That actually happened and I’m sure it did nothing to reassure me that the creature wasn’t the most horrific thing a human had ever thought up.

This was literally the best picture I could find of Mac’s dad. When the internet refuses to have a picture of something, you know it’s horrific.

The way he moved scared me as well. His awkward, drunken gait as he stumbled around, his lanky arms occasionally flailing around to randomly smack at something. Oh god, just the thought of him now terrifies me. Seriously, the image of that bastard has been so seared into my mind as the worst thing imaginable that I literally have trouble seeing that film today. Every time he appears on screen a small shiver of fear judders up my mind and hits something deep and primal within my brain.

Well, that’s that. I’m sure I’ve forgotten more than one thing that also scared me when I was a kid or perhaps I’ve just blocked it from my mind as some kind of safety mechanism to keep myself sane. Until I can regress myself and remember what those things were, we’ll just leave it here. Laterz.



Generation X: Part 2 – Deep Throat by Jamie

Generation X: Deep Throat (Production No. 1×01)

Written By Chris Carter, Directed By Robert Mandel.
BBC Air Date: 19/09/1994

In this episode Mulder and Scully investigate the disappearance of an Air Force Colonel and a possible cover-up involving crashed UFO’s, hybrid experimental aircraft and a pseudo-Area 51. Mulder is warned to stay away from this case by a mysterious man in a bar bathroom, the titular Deep Throat, but decides to investigate anyway. He comes closer to the truth than he ever has before but also comes to experience first hand the kind of power that those behind the conspiracy wield.

There, I think I’ve got that little problem with my synopses going on forever sorted at last. Anyway, on with the review. This is the first full on episode of the X-Files complete with theme tune, opening credits sequence and is the introduction of Mark Snow as the series composer. I have to say that I really do love that theme. It just sums up the feel of the series, evoking the feeling of creepiness and mysteriousness that comes with dealing with the paranormal.

Now, this whole episode draws heavily from the myths surrounding the top secret US Air force base, Area 51 or Groom Lake even going so far as to have a parallel to the Little Ale’Inn, which is just down the road from Area 51, in the form of the Flying Saucer Restaurant. What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just go ahead and use the name Area 51? I mean, they use the real name in later episodes, including some brilliant ones that have Michael McKean making a special guest appearance. Anyway the point is that if you’re blatantly just going to use Area 51, just call it fucking Area 51.

This episode also has some great examples of some early 90s CGI in the form of a hovering triangle that has a few bright lights. Of course it’s easy to look at it now and comment about how shitty and cheesy it looks by today’s standard. We think we’re so fucking great with our ‘Avatars’ and our ‘Iron Mans’. We sicken me. Anyway, I’m sure that little nine year old me was suitably impressed watching it in the darkened living room of our house. I bet I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The most worrying thing is that it actually looks about as good as some of the CGI effects I’ve seen in the incredibly recent series ‘Spartacus: Blood And Sand’. Damn that show’s cheap looking.

As for what goes on in the episode, well, there are a few key scenes. The introduction of Deep Throat is a pretty big one and I’ll delve into that a little bit later. What you really get is an idea of the clashes between the personalities of the two agents but also how dedicated they are to ensuring each others safety. You also get an idea of just how dedicated Mulder is to trying to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy, going so far as to break into a top secret military facility and strolling onto the runway to get a better look. Honestly it’s pretty fucking stupid for someone who’s apparently a Cambridge educated FBI agent but what’re you gonna do? This is a series that kinda hinges on suspension of disbelief.

As far as being a ‘Mythology’ episode this one isn’t as bad as later ones would become. It doesn’t have the huge, convoluted history behind it so it’s still a bit light and generally an easy watch. Since it also has a separate mystery going on beside the mythology stuff, it manages to keep you interested whereas I think that some of the later ones that had Mulder and Scully investigating the conspiracy for the sake of investigating it lacked that aspect.

Finally I’ll just go back to the fact that this episode introduces us to the character of Deep Throat, obviously based on, and possibly intended to be, the Deep Throat who leaked information during the Watergate scandal. Deep Throat was the first of many informants that would approach Mulder and do what seemed as little as possible in order to aid him in the quest for the truth. His first scene is a little odd. He approaches Mulder in the bathroom of the bar and advises him not to investigate the case as the military won’t look to kindly on an FBI investigation. I don’t know about you but if an older gentleman ever approaches me in a bar bathroom and his name is Deep Throat then I’m getting the fuck out of there. Still, he’s an important character and does help in providing some information on the conspiracy without which we’d probably be as lost as Mulder. He also finishes the episode with a fantastic line. When Mulder ask him if ‘they‘ have really are here on Earth, he responds with “Mr. Mulder, they have been here for a long, long time.” Awesome.

Overall it’s a decent enough episode if not just a bit average. I’ll give it three pints out of five. Laterz.



Generation X: A Look Back At The X-Files: Part 1 – Pilot by Jamie

It’s hard to imagine now just how big The X-Files was back in the 90s. It permeated everything and as a result the 90s was also a time filled with bullshit about the paranormal and conspiracy theories. Every week it seemed as though there was some special documentary about the Roswell Incident or whether or not the moon landings were faked. Still, as much as the X-Files was responsible for a lot of belief in complete and utter bullshit I feel as though it’s also responsible for the Sceptical movement coming to such prominence over the past 10 years or so as people battle tirelessly to undo the damage the show has done.

The show started on September 10, 1993 in the US and came to the UK in 1994. I was but a young lad of 9 when it first started and I distinctly remember watching it from the beginning and, like so many others, I completely bought into the paranormal and believed in practically all aspects of it until really quite recently. I gobbled up those documentaries, read book after book and had quite an extensive collection of magazines that dealt with the subject. Still much in the same way that the X-Files is probably at least partially responsible for the growing sceptical movement, it’s probably also the reason that I am a sceptic now myself. Without it I probably would have never paid much attention to the paranormal and so wouldn’t care about ridiculous beliefs in it either way.

The X-Files influence on me doesn’t end there either. The X-Files is possibly responsible for my having a ridiculously large DVD collection. When the series began to be released on the new format I bought them as soon as each one was released. It pretty much gave me the collecting bug and from then I was pretty much fucked and doomed to have a collection far beyond the size of anything that I really should.

So keeping the massive effect the series has had on my life in mind and considering the fact that I haven’t really watched them for years, I’ve decided to go back, revisit the show and review every damn episode. Why? Well because an undertaking of this magnitude will probably cut into my movie viewing somewhat (not to say that this will completely overtake the blog, there will still be movie related things of course including some big video things that I’ve got planned) and it’s a good excuse to have a consistent stream of things to post. Let’s get underway.

Pilot (Production No. 1X79)

Written By Chris Carter, Directed By Robert Mandel.
BBC Air Date: 19/09/1994

So then, this is it where it all begins with the imaginatively titled pilot episode, ‘Pilot’. It’s our first introduction to many a character including the Cigarette Smoking Man, their boss who isn’t Skinner at this point and, of course, Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. It’s pretty obvious that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson pretty much had the characters down from the beginning. Mulder is the sarcastic, witty and all around charming guy and Scully is the sceptical, scientific and slightly serious character that they would pretty much remain throughout the entirety of the series. The only major difference is that in this episode Scully seems a little more open to Mulder’s point of view and a little quicker to accept his paranormal explanation then she would in later episodes.

There are a few things which mark this out as a pilot. For example the iconic theme music is no where to be found at all in this episode. There’s not even an opening credit sequence, instead just a black screen filled with large white letters exclaiming that ‘The following story is inspired by actual documented accounts.’ Of course they are.

Still, other then that there’s not really that much to distinguish this from and average episode. We hear how Mulder discovered the X-Files and the story of how he saw his sister Amanda being abducted by aliens for the first time but it doesn’t really seem like the big thing that it would become later in the series, more like an event that just led to his interest in these kind of cases.

Now the story of the first episode is essentially that a small town has had a rash of unexplainable deaths, each one involving the graduating class of the local high school. Mulder and Scully go off to investigate after Scully is assigned to work with Mulder, essentially being instructed to keep an eye on exactly what he‘s up to. Mulder seems to believe that extra-terrestrials are somehow involved in the case. As they are driving towards the town the radio and clock in their car go a bit haywire and Mulder pulls over, marking the spot with a big red X.

They begin to investigate the deaths much to the chagrin of the local sheriff and medical examiner who both seem to know more then they’re letting on, arousing Scully’s suspicions. They visit two of the graduating classes remaining survivors in a hospital finding one in a wheelchair and the other in a vegetative state due to a vehicular accident that both were involved in. Mulder notices that both have strange marks on their body and decides to exhume the body of one of the former victims in order to see if it has similar marks upon it.

What they discover in the coffin is a little bit of a shock as it doesn’t appear to be the body of a human but rather that of a desiccated orang-utan. They take some X-Rays of the thing which reveals a small, metallic implant in it’s naval cavity. Mulder decides to go and check out the woods were all these incidents have been occurring… Fuck, I wanted this to be a concise synopsis. Right, on the way back from the woods the two agents experience a blinding flash of white light and seem to have lost nine minutes, a phenomenon generally reported by those who believe that they have been abducted by aliens.

Upon returning to their hotel they find out they receive a mysterious phone call telling them that the girl from the hospital is dead. Whilst investigating this new death, their hotel catches fire, destroying all the evidence they have gathered up to this point which really pisses Mulder off. They meet the person who had phoned them, the medical examiners daughter who it turns out was also part of the graduating class and Mulder begins to suspect that the boy in the vegetative state is involved in the murders. A visit to the hospital reveals he has dirty feet and Scully begins to turn around to Mulder’s way of thinking.

Since the soil samples that they had taken in the woods before had been destroyed in the fire they decide to the woods to gather more, only to find that the sheriff is here. It turns out that he has been tracking his son who is up and about again, having seemingly kidnapped the medical examiner’s daughter. Mulder and the sheriff witness a blinding white light surround the two youngsters whilst Scully is distracted elsewhere. When the light dissipates the two are standing there, the boy apparently aware of his surroundings once more and the mysterious marks having disappeared.

Mulder and Scully return to Washington and she presents her report on Mulder’s activities to her bosses, seemingly taking his side on the case which pisses them off to no end. The episode ends with the Cigarette smoking man putting a metallic implant, the one piece of physical evidence into a box in a massive warehouse filled with boxes probably containing masses of evidence pertaining to the supernatural in a clear homage to Indiana Jones.

So there you go. That’s the first episode of the X-Files and the beginning of, in my personal opinion, one of the greatest on-screen partnerships in all of television history. There are a few things which happen in this episode which I don’t think are ever really mentioned or explained in later episodes primarily whether or not Mulder and Scully where actually abducted. I know they are both abducted at later points in the series but I’m not sure if this experience is ever brought up again. I’m sure I’ll found out as we go along.

Still overall it’s a pretty good episode and is much better than many of the ones that would deal with aliens later on, the so called ‘Mythology’ episodes that dealt with the over-arching conspiracy. This one plays off much more like the preferred ‘Monster-Of-The-Week’ episodes even though their isn’t really a monster. Of particular note is David Duchovny who is fucking hilarious throughout this episode. Almost every other line is some witty or sarcastic remark particularly during the pairs first meeting. It’s good stuff and one of the reason I loved this show.

So there you go. That’s the first part of this ongoing X-periment. Hahaha. Did you see what I did there? I crack me up. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this as I go along and try and tighten up those synopses. Next up is the first of the proper Mythology episodes, ‘Deep Throat’. Until then, laterz.




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