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My Favourite 10 Sci-Fi Villains and Monsters: Part 2 by Jamie

Jesus Fucking Christ! What a week! I‘ve spent three days of it drunk, went back to work, foiled a few criminals and then suffered from a massively annoying bout of writers block. I had to start a new blog, People Are Fucking Idiots, just to get my creative juices flowing again. Still I‘ve finally managed to finish this list, the unfinished status of which has been hanging around my next and bugging me like… some kind of bug. Anyway, let‘s get the fuck on with it, won‘t we? Oh yeah, Spoilers Ahead

5: Terminators (The Terminator Series)

An unstoppable machine sent backwards in time with one purpose, to kill! That‘s the basic premise behind the Terminator. In the first film it‘s mission was to hunt down and kill Sarah Connor in order to prevent the birth of John Connor, the future leader of the human resistance. In the second another Terminator of the same model type is sent back to protect the young boy who would grow up to be that legendary leader but that doesn‘t mean we don‘t have another Terminator as the villain. This time it‘s the T-1000, a machine with a liquid metal form that allows it to shape shift into the form of anyone it wishes and also turn it‘s body parts into various stabbing weapons. That is fucking awesome.

Then there are the next two films in the series. Yeah, they‘re not good films but the concept behind the Terminators themselves is still fairly solid although why the technology seems to take a step backwards slightly in the 3rd film from a liquid metal adversary to a more solid form is anyone’s guess. I suppose they didn‘t want to do the same thing twice. As for the fourth film, well, I really did like the design of the Terminator model that comes before the Arnold Schwarzenegger design was pretty good. It‘s just a shame that McG couldn‘t direct his way out of a wet paper bag.

The thing that makes the Terminators great screen villains is there relentlessness. They come from a distant future and are far beyond any technology of our time. They seem like they‘d be impossible to beat, though they are beaten in each film because otherwise it‘d be a pretty depressing way to end the film. Speaking of which, the one good thing about Terminator 3 is it‘s ending. Anyway, another aspect that makes the Terminators great as villains is there coldness, particularly the one in the first film. He may look like a human with his genetically-engineered skin but he‘s cold and calculating like a robot should be.

4: HAL 9000 (2001: A Space Odyssey)

From one killer machine to another. When you think of computers who have gone a bit wrong in the circuits, you think of HAL. Represented as nothing more than a glowing red camera eye (which I have a fridge magnet of. I feel the key to a healthy diet is believing your fridge will kill you if you make a mistake), HAL watches over the crew of the Discovery, controlling the ships higher functions including life support. So if something were to go wrong with HAL‘s electronic brain, things could go pretty shitty pretty quickly.

Of course things do go wrong, HAL wouldn’t be on the list if he wasn’t, when the ships crew, David and Frank feel as though the computer has made a mistake whilst reporting a malfunction in the Discovery’s communication antenna. They decide that in order to ensure the continued success of the mission they have to disconnect HAL’s cognitive circuits, essentially removing the computers sentience. They say this in a soundproof chamber, believing that HAL can‘t hear them. They‘re right but what they don‘t realise that HAL can read lips. In order to save himself and continue carrying out his programmed directives, HAL decides that the only logical course of action is to kill the crew.

HAL proceeds to kill Frank whilst he’s carrying out repairs and switches off the life support for the crew members who are in suspended animation. Dave decides enough is enough and, after overcoming HAL’s resistance to allowing him back inside the ship, he manages to shut down HAL’s brain in a scene that makes you feel genuinely sorry for the calm-toned, glowing red eyed computer. Now, HAL does reappear in the sequel, 2010 but I haven‘t seen that in some time so I‘ll leave it here. Besides, this is the film where HAL is the true, if somewhat sympathetic, villain

3: Predator (The Predator Series)

A race of creatures scours the universe, their lives devoted to one purpose, the Hunt. These are the Predators or, as they have been referred to in expanded media, the Yautja. They search for worthy prey throughout the universe in order to prove their worth as a hunter. They adorn themselves with high-tech armour and weaponry in order to aid them in their quest. The armour allows them to bend light in such a way that allows them to almost disappear completely into their surroundings and their arsenal includes a variety of different weapons such as plasma blasters and some kind of electric spear things. If things go really tits up and for some reason they become mortally wounded during their hunt they have one more trick up their sleeve to try and ensure that there existence remains a secret. They set off a nuclear device which blows the shit out of them and their surroundings. That is pretty damn sweet.

Perhaps one of the strongest aspects of the Predators is that they seem to run their hunts with a strict code of honour. They won‘t kill an unarmed enemy, unless that enemy has proven themselves proficient enough in unarmed combat for them to take them on, they won‘t kill pregnant women and they won‘t kill children. These aren‘t your single minded killers or outright evil bastards. It‘s just that they only know one way, the way of The Hunt.

To top it all off they both look and sound cool. They would probably top my list of aliens with dreadlocks, hell they‘d probably top a list of dreadlocked characters that included humans as well. Though Sanka from ‘Cool Runnings‘ might give them a run for their money… No, no he wouldn‘t. Anyway, you also can‘t help but love what the unmasked Predators look like. They‘ve got that weird mouthgina thing with bizarre crab-leg-like protusions. They are ugly sons of bitches. As for the sound, well I love that weird clicking noise they make and the fact that they can record and playback sounds their prey make in order to confuse and entrap them is also awesome. The Predator laughing in the first film whilst the nuke counts down will stick in my mind until the day that I day.

Now, I know earlier that Darth Vader lost a few places because of the dubious way his character was portrayed in the Star Wars prequels and the same could be said for the Predator in the ‘Alien Versus Predator’ films. It’s certainly true that the character of the Predators is somewhat diminished in those films, well the first one at least. I haven’t seen the second one and life is pretty good having not watched it so it’ll probably stay that way. Still in the first one they did basically become sidekicks to the human characters which sucked massive predsticles. However, I feel that these films can be ignored a little easier than the Star Wars prequels. There was no involvement from the characters originators so it’s a little less egregious. Oh, and to you people thinking “But what about Predator 2? That also sucked. Why doesn’t he complain about Predator 2?” Well, yeah, Predator 2 was weaker than the first but I still enjoyed the hell out of. C’mon, it’s got Danny Glover in it!

2: Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Kahn)

Khan was a genetically engineered superman who considered himself and his people to be superior to all other men. In an episode of the original series of Star Trek, Space Seed, Khan had run afoul of Captain James T. Kirk and found himself and his people stranded on a planet where Kirk hoped they would be able to make a life for themselves.

Unfortunately shit doesn‘t always go according to plan and an interplanetary disaster left Khan‘s new home world as nothing more than a desert wasteland. Unfortunately this shift in the planets ecosystem also killed Khan’s wife. Needless to say Khan is pissed. Whilst searching for a lifeless world to test the newly developed Genesis Device, the crew of the USS Reliant accidentally come across Khan and his tribe and the genetically engineered exiles manage to take control of the Reliant.

Now Khan is seeking revenge against Kirk, planning to use the Genesis device to enact it. Khan has become very enamoured with a certain book, Moby Dick, and very much sees Kirk as his white whale and pursues him relentlessly blinded anger as to the danger he is putting himself and his crew in until it‘s too late. His last speech is even taken pretty much from the book itself.

Overall, Khan is just a fantastic villain. He’s relentless, willing to do anything to put an end to Kirk and, most importantly, he believes he is entirely in the right. Also the fact that a man of Ricardo Montalban’s age didn’t require prosthetics to look as muscular as he did is incredible. And lest we forget Kahn’s name is just damn fun to yell.

1: The Xenomorph (The Alien Series)

In space no one can hear you scream. It‘s a tagline that resonates with each and every fan of sci-fi and horror. It originated in 1979 with a little film that shocked audiences to their very core. That film was Ridley Scott‘s ‘Alien’ and it introduced the world to the ultimate killing machine. It was sleek, stealthy and with a shiny black carapace. It had elements of the organic and the mechanical, it could survive the total vacuum of space and it‘s blood was an intensely strong acid. Perhaps most disturbing of all was that in order to propagate it‘s species it would commit acts of inter-species rape, implant it‘s seed inside you and was then born violently by bursting through your chest. It was the Xenomorph

The Xenomorph has been a mainstay of the cinema world since that first film. The nature of the beast has been expanded on and added too with each additional film. The second film introduced the notion that they lived a bit like ants in nests with a queen constantly laying eggs. I love ants and the Xenomorphs are like ants times awesome so naturally I love Xenomorphs. The third film introduced the idea that the Xenomorph would take on some of the genetic traits of the host that they matured inside and the fourth film… Well, the fourth film kinda sucked. Although it did show them swimming. That was pretty nice. As for AvP and it‘s sequel, well, the same rules apply here that applied for the Predator really.

It is true that the Xenomorphs have softened slightly over the years. Their acidic blood, once so potent on the Nostromo certainly seems to have diluted somewhat and one creature certainly seemed more effective than the hordes that would follow but it doesn‘t matter to me. They are almost as perfect a monster as you could find. These aren‘t the kinds of aliens that come with ships and lasers, there‘s no chance that you can turn their own technology against them nor any chance that they can be reasoned with. They are no more than primal beasts and that makes them all the more terrifying. What? Were you expecting the top of the universal food chain to be dominated by an intelligent being? Why? Because we are intelligent? You arrogant fuck. No, it makes far more sense to me that the ultimate being would be no more than instinct, tooth and claw. None of those messy emotions getting in the way of their simple goal. To kill and survive.

There you go then. That’ll do you for now. I have no idea what’ll be coming up next. I’ve got a few more movies in the Depress-A-Thon to look at so that’ll be a barrel of laughs I’m sure. For now though, I’m out of here. Laterz.



My Favourite 10 Sci-Fi Villains and Monsters: Part 1 by Jamie

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve done a good list. The reason I’m doing one now is because I’m tired. I mean really tired. Right now I’m running on about 1-2 hours sleep over a 48 hour period. Also my throat hurts. So to cut a long story short, I’m not in the mood to sit and watch something and review it properly. I’d probably fall asleep to be honest. So I’ve fallen back on a list. The problem is that lists seem like they should be easy but they are actually deceptively hard if you want to write something about each item on your list. You end up writing what basically amounts to ten mini-reviews which sometimes have to encompass entire franchises in a couple of paragraphs. So keep in mind my sleep deprived brain whilst you read this list. It’s possibly going to be a bit rambling and possibly completely incoherent at times. Anyway, spoilers ahead and let’s get the fuck on with it.

Well as the title has probably given away, this list is going to be about my favourite Sci-Fi Villains and Monsters. I think it’s pretty self explanatory so let’s just get on with it, shall we?

Am I coming of as angry? My apologies, it’s this stupid lack of sleep.

10: Lord Humongous (Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior)

I realise I might already be pushing the definition of Sci-Fi right out of the gate here, but I feel the Mad Max films count as sci-fi. The third is definitely the one which fits most comfortably into this genre but the series as a whole is set in a post-apocalyptic future and I’ve always considered post-apocalyptic to be a sub-genre of sci-fi so on we march.

Lord Humungus is my absolute favourite villain from the entire Mad Max series. He’s a big fucker who wears a hockey mask. I’m sure the fact that Jason is my favourite slasher villain has some impact on my enjoyment of this character. Besides that, Humungus is a fascinating character. He actually seems quite fair for a leader of a post-apocalyptic gang of roving marauders. All he wants is some gasoline and, in this cutthroat world, the only way to get it is to steal it. There’s a chance that he could have quite easily gone in there with his gang and taken it but instead he decides to offer them an honourable compromise. Sure, he kills a few people along the way but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles in post-apocalyptic Australia.

Humungus also seems to genuinely care about his gang members. He’s not your stereotypical ruthless leader who views his followers as cannon fodder and nothing more. There’s also a hint throughout the movie that it’s the loss of someone he loves that has brought him to this point in his life though it’s never adequately explored. Finally his ‘Just walk away’ speech is one of my favourite speeches in all of cinema history and one I still quote to this day, especially if someone is doing poorly on a fruit machine.

9: The Velociraptors (The Jurassic Park Series)

Sci-fi isn’t always about the future. Sometimes it deals with ravenous beasts from the past and Jurassic Park certainly delivers with one of the most terrifying, the Velociraptors. Now, I should say right up front that the Velociraptors aren’t actually Velociraptors at all. In real life, Velociraptors were about the size of chickens. The dinosaurs in Jurassic Park are actually far more like a larger animal in the same family, Deinonychus. There are a few other issues as well such as the tails being a bit more flexible than they were in real life and a distinct lack of feathers but whatever. The point is that the fictionalised version of Velociraptors in Jurassic Park are truly terrifying.

The Raptors are fast, intelligent and deadly. They stalk their prey in such a way that if you can see one of them, there’s a good chance that there are a couple more hanging around somewhere that you can’t. Then before you know it they’re on top of you, slashing you apart with their sickle-shaped claw. And possibly the best part of the Raptors in Jurassic Park is that, in true Spielberg style, you get an idea of how dangerous they are long before you actually see them. You do, however, hear them and the sound design on the Raptors is truly brilliant. I love that screeching sound mixed in with all the bird noises that they make. It hits you in the balls of your soul. And lest we forget, they managed to kill the baddest motherfucker in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson. After that, only one thing could stop them, the film’s true heroine, T-Rex.

8: Biff and his ancestors and descendants (The Back To The Future Series)

There aren’t many villains who have managed to alter the time stream in order to make life better for themselves. Then again, there aren’t many villains who have had their lives made drastically worse by a heroes own meddling with time. Biff is that villain. In the original time stream he was a somewhat successful man who delighted in tormenting George McFly. By the end of the first film, thanks to the interference of George’s son Marty, he was reduced to taking care of George’s car.

In the second film Biff goes one step further when a future version of himself provides a past version of himself with a sports almanac which gives him access to the results of sporting results for many, many years. This makes Biff an incredibly wealthy man, changing Sunnydale from a nice normal town to a hell on Earth, shaped by Biff himself. The film also features Griff Tannen, Biff’s grandson, who enjoys nothing more than tormenting Marty’s son. The villainous apple never falls far from the villain tree!… Or something.

The third film takes place in the Wild, Wild West and features Biff’s ancestor, Mad Dog Tannen probably the most legitimate villain in the Tannen clan. This time he’s not just a villain but he’s a proper criminal, the leader of his own posse of outlaws. He shot Doc Brown until Marty McFly once more changed history and found himself having to face of against Mad Dog instead. All in all Biff, his alternative versions, his ancestors and his descendants are just a bunch of nasty, nasty douche bags.

7: Darth Vader (The Star Wars Saga)

Ah, there was a time when Vader would have been in the top half of this list, possibly even topping it but that’s no longer justifiable taking into account his entire character arc throughout all six films. Sadly young Anakin was a massive, massive twat. Whether whining about how he was better than people gave him credit for or whining about how he loved Amidala, Anakin certainly enjoyed a good whine. He was one whiny motherfucker.

But for the sake of this list, let’s try and focus on the good times. Before the prequels all Vader was was a force-choking, light-sabre wielding, heavy breathing, father being badass with James Earl Jones’ awesome voice and David Prowse’s awesome stature. He wore black, slept in a pod and had no problem with killing off members of his crew who failed him.

And to top it all off, Vader found redemption with the help of his son. He turned on his Master, absorbed some force lighting, which allowed flashes of his skull to be seen through his helmet, and threw him to his death. Then in after a touching moment with Luke, during which we finally get to see his face and the strange harmonica he enjoyed having ready to play at any moment, he stayed aboard the Death Star ready to become one with the force. Oh and he also shares something in common with the Velociraptors because, in one of the prequels, he managed to kill the baddest motherfucker in Hollywood, Samuel L. Jackson. Hardcore.

6: The Thing (The Thing)

There are few things more terrifying than not being able to trust the people around you. One thing that is slightly more terrifying is not being able to trust the people around you whilst being completely cut off from civilisation. This is the basic premise of John Carpenter’s remake of ‘The Thing’. A group of scientists working in the Arctic Circle are suddenly attacked by a mysterious alien creature which can change it’s form to imitate any one of them.

The special effects in ‘The Thing’ still hold up to this day. The creature is disgustingly visceral and it’s transformations look incredibly painful. Some CGI effects these days wish they could look this good. The film also features on of the most unbearably tense scenes the world of cinema has ever known. The blood test sequence will literally have you sitting on the edge of your seat and have you biting your nails right down to the elbow. It should also be noted that The Thing is such a monumentally powerful creature that only one of the Earth’s greatest heroes could defeat it, Kurt Russel with a goddamn beard. Not just any beard, a goddamn beard. Fuck yeah.

Right, that’ll do for now. The sun is rising which means it’ll soon be time for me to get home to bed. Sweet, sweet bed. This list has been incredibly hard going but it’s also been fun looking back at some of my favourite bad guys from science fiction. Assuming I wake up sometime within the next 24 hours, the second part of this list should be up some time tomorrow. Laterz.



The Top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Movies: Part 2 by Jamie

Well, I keep falling in and out of a bad mood so what better way to work through that then to indulge in fantasies of the annihilation of the human race! Let‘s continue. Oh, and number three has some major spoilers. Kind of hard to avoid them really. Sorry but, to be honest it was made in the 60s. I think the spoiler statute of limitations has expired. Also, part 1 can be found here.


5. The Terminator Series

Cause of apocalypse: Nuclear destruction at the hands of technology dubbed Judgement Day.

Now this could be quite a controversial choice because most of these films don’t really take part in the post-apocalyptic future. It’s mostly about people and robots being sent back from after the apocalypse to the present in order to try and prevent or ensure the apocalyptic event occurs. Coupled with the fact that the one film which is pretty much entirely set in the future made my list of least favourite films of 2009 should probably disqualify it from my list entirely.

But fuck it, this is my goddamn list and I can do whatever I like. I could Paul Blart Mall Cop on this list without having to justify myself if I so wished. I won’t but I could… Anyway, so yeah, the first three Terminator films take place before Judgement Day and that’s what makes them interesting. Well, the first two anyway. It‘s all about trying to prevent this terrible event and the cost of failure. The fact that it becomes increasingly clear by the third one that Judgement Day is inevitable just makes the whole affair even better. (Yep, that was actually a small piece of praise for Terminator 3)

And of course it’s inevitable. After all, if Judgement Day never occurs then Kyle Reese can’t be sent back in time to become John Connor’s father, the Terminator wouldn’t have been sent back and it’s parts wouldn’t have been used to help create Skynet, Skynet wouldn’t have been able to bring about Judgement Day meaning that Kyle Reese can’t be sent back in time to become John Connor’s father… Wait a minute. I think what I’m getting at is that in order for anything to happen, Judgement Day has to have happened so in a way the films are all set in a post-apocalyptic world because none of the events would of occurred unless the apocalypse had occurred… which it did. Fuck, I’m confused.


4. The Mad Max Series

Cause of apocalypse: Nuclear War over oil.

I love the Mad Max films. Sure the first one is a little dodgy and the third is more than a little cheesy but I can overlook these trifling problems and so all three are personal classics to me. They also had a major impact on post-apocalyptic genre as a whole. How many post-apocalyptic films and games feature roving gangs of people wearing bizarre, spiked body armour? You have the Mad Max series to thank for that.

The series is set in a dystopian future Australia in which bands of people struggle for survival. In the first film Max is a man who tries to police this society which seems to be breaking down around him. When his wife and child are killed by a gang of ne‘er-do-wells he goes on a revenge mission, hunting them down and taking them out, ending in a scene which served as an inspiration for the first ‘Saw’.

The second sees Max, now a burned out, shell of a man, wandering the desert and coming across a small outpost of people who are still excavating oil. The outpost has a problem with a band of marauders who want to take their oil from them as it is now a very rare and precious commodity. Max begins to regain his humanity by working with and helping to defend the people in the outpost. It‘s probably the strongest of the trilogy and the show, in my mind, is completely stolen by the leader of the marauders, Lord Humungus. His ‘Just walk away‘ speech is still one of the things I probably quote more often than any other.

The third is where the series seems to pick up in terms of budget. For the first time you get a view of different aspects of this post-apocalyptic wasteland on a grand scale. From Bartertown to the valley of the lost children, a lot of work went into the creation of this world. It also has Tina Turner in it. Once more Max starts of as a lone wanderer, coming across Bartertown, having to fight the brilliant Master-Blaster in the Thunderdome, getting banished from Bartertown and having to take a group of lost children under his wing. It‘s all brilliant stuff and it‘s guaranteed to keep me entertained anytime I watch it. The series as a whole is one of the true stand outs in Post-Apocalyptism and if you haven‘t seen them then, well, I strongly suggest you do so.


3. Planet Of The Apes

Cause of Apocalypse: Nuclear War.

On it’s most basic level, ‘Planet Of The Apes’ is a fun film about a man who finds himself on a weird world where apes are people and people are animals. Beyond that it is so, so much more. The best sci-fi is generally an allegory for something else and that perfectly describes this film. It touches on themes like religion vs. science, race and class systems, nuclear war and the possible implications of scientific discovery for society as a whole.

I was about to write that the main theme seems to be science vs. religion but I had to stop myself when I realised that the thing that makes this film so great is that it manages to take all of these themes and hit upon them equally and practically at the same time, except for perhaps nuclear war which really kinda comes in towards the end and with Charlton Heston’s mumblings about his general displeasure with humanity throughout the film. The court scene alone manages to make observations about the controversy surrounding evolution butting up against religious dogma whilst also dealing with the topic of what it is that grants someone or something the same rights as someone else.

I think this is definitely one that I want to come back to and review later and in greater detail. Suffice it to say that I don’t include the series as a whole here because I haven’t seen the series as a whole. I’m not even sure what I have seen. I remember seeing one when I was a kid though I couldn’t tell you what it was called or what really happened. I just remember a group of apes being herded along by humans. I think it may have been a prequel or something.

I suppose I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the remake. It’s a poor, poor shade of this film. The only thing I can say I really liked about it is the ape costumes. They were pretty awesome, especially the big orang-utan with the pads on his face but the rest of the film… well, all I’ll really say is Ape-raham Lincoln? What the fuck?


2. The … Of The Dead Series

Cause of Apocalypse: The Zombie Apocalypse

Ah, zombies. Zombies, zombies, zombies. I fucking love a good zombie film and George A. Romero is the Godfather of the entire genre. Sure, Diary of the Dead is a pretty terrible film and I’ve heard bad things about his newest outing but for the most part, Romero has defined what a zombie movie is.

There is something special about the idea of The Zombie Apocalypse. It’s the one of the ultimate end-games. As soon as it’s begun to spread, the zombies have pretty much already won. After that it’s just a matter of just trying to survive knowing one of two things will happen, either you’ll end up dead or you’ll end up undead and every day you survive just brings you one day closer to one of this inescapable conclusions.

The true mastery of what Romero does is that he doesn’t make the zombie the biggest threat in his films. For the most part, the zombies are just a barrier, keeping a small group of survivors trapped somewhere. It’s the people you’re surviving with in a Romero film that you truly want to be worried about.

Who knows what’ll happen? Maybe one of them will decide that they want more supplies for themselves and try to kill off some of the other survivors. Maybe one of them will try and escape, try and make it on their own, accidentally letting the shuffling horde inside. Maybe one of them will just go batshit crazy and have to be dealt with. Or maybe it won’t even be someone from your group. Maybe another group of survivors will happen across your hiding place and decide that they want what you have for themselves, inevitably letting the zombies inside as they try and get it.

There’s also the terrible ramifications of being bitten by a zombie. The transformation of living person into zombie is not instantaneous and so you’re left with the horrible knowledge that sooner or later you’re going to become a flesh hungry corpse and once again you’re faced with question. Do you just out and out shoot yourself in the head? Do you get another survivor to kill you? Or do you hide the bite, hope no one notices and carry on with the misguided hope that maybe it just won’t affect you? There’s just so much to consider and that’s with all the social commentary that Romero layers into his zombie films notwithstanding. That’s why I love these films and why you owe it to yourself to watch them.


1. Threads

Cause Of Apocalypse: Nuclear War.

Yes, for number one I’m going a little obscure. It’s a made for TV British film that I’ve reviewed before (Threads: The Single Most Depressing Thing Mankind Has Ever Put To Film) and it’s truly fucking chilling. The acting is corny, it’s incredibly 80s, scratch that, it’s incredibly Northern England 80s and it’s a little slow to start but fuck, after the bombs drop, it’s just… Wow.

This film portrays what life would have been like if the US and Russia had decided to launch nukes at each other and what would have happened had England been completely ravaged by nuclear bombs. I’m sure that a few of the things that are described aren’t considered exactly scientifically accurate these days but I’m also sure that it’s still as close as I’ll ever see a film get to the truth.

This film essentially put me into a sort of mini-depression after watching it. It made me feel doomed, as though at any moment the world could come crashing to a halt if a small group of people wished it so. Keep in mind that the Cold War had been over for some time at this point. Seriously though, there doesn’t need to be a cold war for it to happen anyway. All it takes is a few buttons being pushed and then Boom. Life as we know it will be over. The lucky ones will die in the initial attacks. Oh, god. It’s happening again. Just thinking about this fucking film is bringing it all back. What the fuck is the point?

Still, if you feel that happiness is a commodity that you just don’t need in your life anymore, I heartily recommend ‘Threads‘. It’s incredible and horrifying. Oh god, why? Why?

Well, that’s it then. I hope you’ve enjoyed this little walk down the lane of unimaginable despair and if you’re interested in finding out more about the ways in which the world is likely to end I highly recommend the book ‘Death From The Skies’ by the brilliant Phil Plait. Laterz.



The Top 10 Post-Apocalyptic Movies: Part 1 by Jamie

Just over ten years ago we were convinced that the world was fucked. The Y2K bug would strike our computers and our technology would turn on us. Planes would fall out of the sky, nuclear missiles would launch themselves and toasters would refuse to carry out their toasting duties.

In essence the world was gripped with a weird mass technophobia. To be fair, mass hysteria is a condition which seems to plague the human race on a fairly regular basis. We seem to be determined to panic about the next big thing that will render our existence nothing more than a blip on the universal timeline. Be it the next big virus, terrorism or an asteroid strike from the cold unfeeling expanse that is outer space, there’s always something out there just waiting to kill us. Sure, these fears are justified to some extent but it is the passion with which we fear these things that makes humans something very special.

As such these fears have bled over into the world of film. There’s something exhilarating about a good post-apocalyptic movie. We just love to see a world where something’s gone terribly wrong and the way in which the survivors deal with it, wondering if we‘d be able to cope. With that, I’d like to share with you my personal top 10 post-apocalyptic films of all time.

A couple of disclaimers. I’ve tried to avoid spoilers as much as possible but sometimes I may have let the odd thing slip. You have been warned. In general series of films will occupy one spot on this list. Also, I’ve never seen Children of Men. I know that I really should and I always manage to try and catch it on TV and it’s always at the bit where they’re leaving hippy Michael Caine behind. I’m sure if I had seen it properly it’d be on here somewhere, probably somewhere quite high from what I’ve heard. Now to the list!


10. Repo: The Genetic Opera

Cause of apocalypse: Plague which caused the failure of internal organs.

Repo is a musical set in a dystopian future in which designer organ transplants have become big business. The reason being that in the past a disease ravaged the population, killing many. The disease caused the internal organs to stop working. A corporation, GeneCo, developed genetically engineered organs which helped put an end to the disease. With the end of the plague, GeneCo began to create organs for purely cosmetic reasons. GeneCo basically runs the show now and offers organs on finance which is fine if you can keep up with the payments.

If you can’t then the company will send the Repo Man after you in order to reclaim their property. Dressed in a surgical smock, he stalks his victims in the night, slicing up his victims and repossessing the organs. It’s a fairly interesting concept regarding the increasing influence corporations have on our every day lives.

The film does have one major flaw and that’s that Paris Hilton is one of it’s stars. If you’ve ever seen ‘House of Wax’ or ‘The Hottie and The Nottie’ then that’s probably enough to put you off to some degree but honestly she’s fairly inoffensive in this film and doesn’t really play a major enough part in the story to massively impact my enjoyment of it. Besides, her appearance is easily counter-balanced with the inclusion of Anthony Head as the Repo Man. He’s a great actor and a terrific singer to boot.

Overall it’s a film that I enjoy but I can certainly understand why others wouldn’t. It is, as the title suggests, an opera with very little dialogue that isn’t sung. It’s also very, very gothic in style and I understand that isn’t to every ones liking but it doesn’t really bother me. All ‘ll say is give it a chance but it certainly isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea.


9. Reign of Fire

Cause of apocalypse: Dragons.

In my opinion, Reign of Fire is a fairly overlooked film and the reason it makes it onto the list is the way that the human race is brought to the brink of extinction. Dragons. That is fucking awesome. It’s so simple a concept. Dragons are accidentally awoken by digging beneath London and arise from their slumber to scorch the Earth and become top of the food chain. I’ll be honest, I’ve always had a soft spot for dragons.

There are some interesting attempts to explain why the dragons are the way they are. They breath fire because they can only consume ash, setting anything organic ablaze in order to consume it meaning that not only are the humans at risk from the beasts but so are their crops. Does it make any scientific sense whatsoever? No, but who cares? It’s fucking dragons! The method by which they create this fire is even more interesting. They expel highly-flammable liquids from their mouth which burst into flames when they hit the air as far as I can tell. It looks sweet.

There are some pretty outstanding scenes within the film that just kick it up a notch. The Americans hunting the dragon by sky diving with a giant net is pretty goddamn awesome. And any film that includes a medieval style play of the ‘Empire Strikes Back’ deserves a special place in my heart.


8. 28 Days/Weeks Later

Cause of Apocalypse: Outbreak of the Rage virus.

Now, this is going to take some explaining. I’m sure many people would expect this film to come higher in a list like this whilst I’m sure others who know me are surprised that I’ve included it on the list at all. I’ve spent many a drunken night bitching about 28 Days Later and how it’s pretty much responsible for the current trend of running zombies. Now before you begin with the “But they’re not zombies in 28 Days Later…” save it. I’ve heard it all before. Regardless of whether or not they are zombies in the strictest sense of the word, they are certainly zombie enough to influence actual zombie films and create the running zombie as we know it today… zombie.

Anyway, recently I decided to break down and just watch 28 Weeks Later. Honestly, I thought it was a slightly superior film, particularly the latter part. In fact if you could find a way to combine the beginning of Days and the ending of Weeks then you’d probably have a practically perfect film.

Even with their flaws, both films have incredibly engaging stories and images that just stick with you. Who the hell can forget the image of Cillian Murphy walking through a completely abandoned London? Speaking of which, the fact that the films are set in Britain certainly help to soften me to them slightly more than perhaps a foreign viewer might. Also there are crazy chimps. Who doesn’t love crazy chimps? Crazy chimps are awesome. Not quite as awesome as dragons but still pretty awesome.


7. The Omega Man

Cause of Apocalypse: Biological Warfare

‘The Omega Man’ is the second film adaptation of Richard Matheson’s story ‘I Am Legend’, the first being ‘The Last Man On Earth’ which I haven’t seen and the third being ‘I Am Legend’ starring Will Smith, whose portrayal of the apparent last surviving human I enjoy more than Charlton Heston’s performance in this but which I dislike because the bizarre CGI zombie vampire things just take me completely out of the movie.

In ‘The Omega Man’ there are no CGI monsters because, well, it’s the 70s. Instead we get The Family, a group of cloaked, albino and nocturnal mutants who wish to kill the last remaining human and destroy the civilisation he represents along with all it‘s heretical technological notions.

I love The Family. They are a far, far more compelling group of villains than the rather uninspired creatures that show up in ‘I Am Legend’. They have motivation behind there actions rather than the seemingly mindless killers in the later film. And although, as previously stated, I preferred Will Smith’s slightly more unhinged take on the last human that’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy Charlton Heston at all. In fact, I enjoyed his performance quite a lot. In all, I’d say that if you’ve only ever seen ‘I Am Legend’ give this a watch. Also find ‘The Last Man On Earth’ as well because I will be. It’s got Vincent Price in it so how could it be bad?


6. Wall-E

Cause Of Apocalypse: Pollution, Destruction of Environment.

I remember watching ‘Wall-E’ for the first time and being completely blown away by what I saw. The first half of the movie is completely incredible. The look of the world, completely devastated by mankind’s destruction of the environment, is an awesome sight to behold. Rivers are dried up, the land is practically devoid of vegetation and an odd fog hangs over the land.

This world was clearly abandoned by humans a long, long time ago, so long ago in fact that all the robots that have been left behind to clean the mess up have stopped working. All that is except for one, the titular Wall-E. Never before has a character managed to say so much whilst actually saying so little. Except for maybe Harry from ‘Harry and the Hendersons‘. He was awesome.

Now the second half of the film does tend towards a more traditional narrative and plays out as expected. Still, even then there are so many references to other classic sci-fi films, such as ‘2001’ and ‘Alien’ that would simply fly over the heads of children, to keep someone like me entertained. And I can’t help but laugh at the creatures that humans have become when they have robots taking care of their every whim.

So there you go. That’s the first five on my list of post-apocalyptic movies. The countdown to the end will continue tomorrow. Laterz.



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 Ten TV Characters: Part 1 by Jamie
Top 10 Television Characters
Yes it’s time once again to delve into the world of cinema’s little brother, the greatest tool of communication know to mankind, until their youngest brother the internet was born, television. TV, as the kids call it, has been there for our species for some time now. It’s helped us to view man walking on the moon, the fall of the Berlin wall and an endless stream of outrageous acts carried out by morons on thousands upon thousands of reality TV shows.
TV has also delivered some of the greatest characters from fiction in modern times. The very nature of television means that we can become incredibly attached to those heroes and villains that inhabit  the flickering box, more so than movie characters simply because we spend so much time and, in some cases, so much of our lives with them.
Now for a rule that I decided to impose on myself. I’ve decided that I’m only allowed to choose one character from each series. If I didn’t then this list would probably be made up by far few shows than I should and that would be stupid. Also no animated characters. They’ll get their own list. So with that out of the way, let’s get onto the list.
10: Mike Nelson – Mystery Science Theater 3000
Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still a very little know show in the UK which I think is a damn shame. Too often in this country we accuse the Americans of having no sense of wit, that their comedies are often boorish and low brow, though the tide has definitely been changing. Still this could all have been avoided if we’d only had MST3K since it’s beginning. The story is a classic one: A working class guy gets blasted into space on the Satellite of Love as part of an experiment by an evil genius to force him to watch bad movies. He builds a few robot companions in order to stave off space insanity and help him endure the cinematic shit fest that he is forced to watch.
The role of the human aboard the Satellite of Love was originally played by Joel Hodgson who managed to escape about halfway through the shows run. His place was taken by Mike Nelson, a hapless temp who the evil Dr. Forrester and his assistant TV’s Frank decide to send to the satellite as a replacement.
Now, my choice of Mike as my favourite character may be controversial among some long time MST3K fans but there seems to be a general consensus that your favourite host is generally the first one that you see and we in the UK only got the shows after Joel’s departure. Now I’ve seen many Joel episodes since thanks to the DVDs but Mike was my first host and will always be my favourite.
There’s something undeniably likeable about Mike. He’s a likeable, if sometimes dim-witted and naive fellow, without the technical expertise of Joel. There’s no doubt that he certainly wouldn’t have been able to build the ‘bots had he been the first one sent up. He’s just more of a regular Joe who suddenly finds himself in this ridiculous situation and he just tries to go along with it. And that’s great.
9: Dave Lister – Red Dwarf
From one working class schmuck stuck in space to another. Curry and lager loving Liverpudlian Dave Lister finds himself as the universes sole surviving human being after a radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf causes him to be kept in stasis for 3 million years. His companions are a hologram of his former bunkmate, the insufferable Arnold Judas Rimmer, an evolved cat known simply as The Cat, a mildly senile super computer named Holly and, eventually, a neurotic service droid by the name of Kryten. (And eventually Kristine Kochanski as well but for the purpose of this piece I’m gonna kinda overlook those episodes.)
Lister is interesting as a character mainly because he’s lazy, slobby and a bit of a dick but in general eminently likeable. You can’t help but feel sorry for him because he finds himself in a universe where all of his best friends are dead, the love of his life is dead and the only company he has are a cast of misfits who all have as deeply flawed personalities as himself. Despite this Lister tries to make the best of a bad situation, possibly the worst situation one can find themselves in, and he seems to remain cheerful and optimistic even when things look there worse. And I can’t finish this section without mentioning that Lister was part of one of the funniest conversations ever committed to film:
8: Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave
Victor Meldrew was the voice of anyone who ever got annoyed at anything. The grumpiest man in Britain, Victor’s annoyance at the smallest of inconveniences only seemed to worsen the situation to such a degree that it would often spiral off into the superbly surreal which would, of course, merely make Victor angrier and angrier much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife Margaret.
Victor’s lot in life wasn’t helped by the people who surrounded him such as Margaret’s friend, the mildly insane Jean Warboys and the insufferably cheerful neighbour Nick Swainey. And so it was that Victor Meldrew could have been just another nasty, old bitter git.
But he wasn’t. What made Victor a truly great character was that people could emphasise with him. He generally tried to do the right thing only to have the situation rapidly decline on him. He genuinely cared for his wife Margaret and would seem quite upset whenever she lost her temper with him. In fact I think it says something about the two characters that Victor would always become frustrated with the situation but rarely his wife whereas Margaret would often become frustrated with her husband when she couldn’t take anymore of his complaining. And I think people did feel sorry for Victor whenever Margaret got pissed off with him. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was that way, it just seemed as though the world transpired against him. Besides it’s not many TV characters that had flowers left for them at the location of the scene where they were killed. That certainly says something about the impact Victor had on the British public.
7:

Yes it’s time once again to delve into the world of cinema’s little brother, the greatest tool of communication known to mankind, until their youngest brother the internet was born, television. TV, as the kids call it, has been there for our species for some time now. It’s helped us to view man walking on the moon, the fall of the Berlin wall and an endless stream of outrageous acts carried out by morons on thousands upon thousands of reality TV shows.

TV has also delivered some of the greatest characters from fiction in modern times. The very nature of television means that we can become incredibly attached to those heroes and villains that inhabit  the flickering box, more so than movie characters simply because we spend so much time and, in some cases, so much of our lives with them.

Now for a rule that I decided to impose on myself. I’ve decided that I’m only allowed to choose one character from each series. If I didn’t then this list would probably be made up by far few shows than I should and that would be stupid. Also no animated characters. They’ll get their own list. So with that out of the way, let’s get onto the list.

10: Mike Nelson – Mystery Science Theater 3000

Mystery Science Theater 3000 is still a very little know show in the UK which I think is a damn shame. Too often in this country we accuse the Americans of having no sense of wit, that their comedies are often boorish and low brow, though the tide has definitely been changing. Still this could all have been avoided if we’d only had MST3K since it’s beginning. The story is a classic one: A working class guy gets blasted into space on the Satellite of Love as part of an experiment by an evil genius to force him to watch bad movies. He builds a few robot companions in order to stave off space insanity and help him endure the cinematic shit fest that he is forced to watch.

The role of the human aboard the Satellite of Love was originally played by Joel Hodgson who managed to escape about halfway through the shows run. His place was taken by Mike Nelson, a hapless temp who the evil Dr. Forrester and his assistant TV’s Frank decide to send to the satellite as a replacement.

Now, my choice of Mike as my favourite character may be controversial among some long time MST3K fans but there seems to be a general consensus that your favourite host is generally the first one that you see and we in the UK only got the shows after Joel’s departure. Now I’ve seen many Joel episodes since thanks to the DVDs but Mike was my first host and will always be my favourite.

There’s something undeniably likeable about Mike. He’s a likeable, if sometimes dim-witted and naive fellow, without the technical expertise of Joel. There’s no doubt that he certainly wouldn’t have been able to build the ‘bots had he been the first one sent up. He’s just more of a regular Joe who suddenly finds himself in this ridiculous situation and he just tries to go along with it. And that’s great.

9: Dave Lister – Red Dwarf

From one working class schmuck stuck in space to another. Curry and lager loving Liverpudlian Dave Lister finds himself as the universes sole surviving human being after a radiation leak on the mining ship Red Dwarf causes him to be kept in stasis for 3 million years. His companions are a hologram of his former bunkmate, the insufferable Arnold Judas Rimmer, an evolved cat known simply as The Cat, a mildly senile super computer named Holly and, eventually, a neurotic service droid by the name of Kryten. (And eventually Kristine Kochanski as well but for the purpose of this piece I’m gonna kinda overlook those episodes.)

Lister is interesting as a character mainly because he’s lazy, slobby and a bit of a dick but in general eminently likeable. You can’t help but feel sorry for him because he finds himself in a universe where all of his best friends are dead, the love of his life is dead and the only company he has are a cast of misfits who all have as deeply flawed personalities as himself. Despite this Lister tries to make the best of a bad situation, possibly the worst situation one can find themselves in, and he seems to remain cheerful and optimistic even when things look there worse. And I can’t finish this section without mentioning that Lister was part of one of the funniest conversations ever committed to film:

8: Victor Meldrew – One Foot In The Grave

Victor Meldrew was the voice of anyone who ever got annoyed at anything. The grumpiest man in Britain, Victor’s annoyance at the smallest of inconveniences only seemed to worsen the situation to such a degree that it would often spiral off into the superbly surreal which would, of course, merely make Victor angrier and angrier much to the chagrin of his long suffering wife Margaret.

Victor’s lot in life wasn’t helped by the people who surrounded him such as Margaret’s friend, the mildly insane Jean Warboys and the insufferably cheerful neighbour Nick Swainey. And so it was that Victor Meldrew could have been just another nasty, old bitter git.

But he wasn’t. What made Victor a truly great character was that people could emphasise with him. He generally tried to do the right thing only to have the situation rapidly decline on him. He genuinely cared for his wife Margaret and would seem quite upset whenever she lost her temper with him. In fact I think it says something about the two characters that Victor would always become frustrated with the situation but rarely his wife whereas Margaret would often become frustrated with her husband when she couldn’t take anymore of his complaining. And I think people did feel sorry for Victor whenever Margaret got pissed off with him. After all, it wasn’t his fault that he was that way, it just seemed as though the world transpired against him. Besides it’s not many TV characters that had flowers left for them at the location of the scene where they were killed. That certainly says something about the impact Victor had on the British public.

7: Father Ted Crilly – Father Ted

On the remote wasteland known as Craggy Island there live three Catholic priests and a tea obsessed housemaid. The oldest priest is Father Jack Hackett, a foul mouthed, violent alcoholic who rarely leaves his fetid chair. The youngest priest is Father Dougal McGuire, a man-child who professes to having no belief in the afterlife and claims to believe in Darth Vader more than he does in God. The third is Father Ted Crilly. Ted is a man who’s plans for fame and fortune are ruined by those around him and ultimately by himself.

Ted came to live on Craggy Island as punishment for some event in the past, something about some charity money that was ‘just resting in his account.’ Ted’s ultimate goal is to leave Craggy Island the troglodytes who inhabit far behind him and set up a parish somewhere like Las Vegas or Los Angeles. This never comes to pass, however, in part due to the immense disdain his immediate superior, Bishop Brennan has for him. Also, much like Victor Meldrew, Ted’s problems often start as something small and mundane but as the episode progresses these things tend to spin out of control until it all comes to an crescendo, generally leaving Ted worse of than he was when the episode started.

Like many on this list, Ted is likeable despite having a seriously flawed personality. He’s greedy, cynical, pessimistic and sometimes takes just a little too much delight in getting back at others, particularly when he wins a Golden Cleric resulting in a speech which last for hours and is full of distain for all those who have ‘fecked him over’ in the past. Ted’s likeability is probably increased by the fact that in the strange and surreal world of Craggy Island, he’s probably the most normal person there is, making him something of a reality anchor for the viewers.

6: Bernard Black – Black Books

Bernard Black is the epitome of characters who we like despite massive personal failings. He’s an alcoholic, pessimistic, argumentative misanthrope who isn’t happy unless he’s drinking wine or insulting someone. For some reason he owns a book shop despite his apparent loathing of everything to do with owning a shop. The only thing Bernard really likes about his shop is his books and the fact that, as his own boss, he can drink whenever he wants.

He’s abusive towards his assistant Manny Bianco, who’s biggest crime seems to be having  a cheery outlook on life, something Bernard apparently abhors. There’s also the fact that Manny tries to help Bernard around the shop, once selling every book which infuriated Bernard as it meant he had to deal with the distributor and order more books. Despite this it is shown that on the occasions Manny left Bernard to his own devices, either by quitting or running away, Bernard was reduced to even more of a mess than normal, barely able to function on a human level. The only other person in Bernard’s life is his best (and possibly only) friend, Fran Katzenjammer. The two share a number of similar characteristics which aids them in getting along, namely smoking and drinking.

Like all of the great arsehole characters in television, Bernard has a softer side which occasionally shines through. He has shown that he shy and awkward around women, he develops a certain jealousy and possessiveness whenever Manny finds other friends to hang out with, he’s certainly intelligent, though he generally seems to do nothing with his intelligence, and obviously loves reading and he genuinely seems to be scared or confused by the outside world, choosing instead to hide from it in a drunken haze inside his shop. It is also revealed that his general outlook on life may have been caused by an incident involving an old fiancée.

Well that’s it for now. Come back for more tomorrow. Laterz.



Top Ten Podcasts by Jamie
14/03/2009, 6:57 pm
Filed under: Lists | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Well, I decided it’s time for something a bit different today. I just can’t be bothered to watch a movie today, especially considering Battlestar Galactica Season 1 just came through the door. Awesome. So, while I work my way through that I’ve decided to do something which ties into movies tangentially, because most of them are about movies. Yes, podcasts have revolutionised the way I, at least, entertain myself. It’s because of them, perhaps, that I need to be entertained at all times. If nothing’s happening my brain feels like it’s starting to fade until I can find something to occupy myself with.

So here is a list of my ten favourite podcasts. If you have iTunes, and honestly who doesn’t these days, I order you to download them immediately.

10. Remember When

Hosted by Parris and Jay, Remember When is an erratically updated pod cast taking a look back at the entertainment of yesteryear. It’s a fun listen with segments like “Great Movies Jay Has Never Seen,” in which Parris has Jay watch a classic film he’s never seen before and then review it for the next weeks show. Generally it turns that Jay, much to Parris’s dismay doesn’t enjoy the film. It’s all good stuff. Especially worthy of note is their six episode specials regarding the Star Wars series.

9. The 10th Wonder Heroes Podcast

Ah, Heroes. It’s one of my favourite TV shows and so it’s only natural that a pod cast dedicated to it should appear on this list. Hosted by Graham Hancock and Derek Russell, the show is about everything Heroes and Heroes-related. There are generally two shows a week, one being a live recording directly after the show has played in the US, in which the pair give their reactions to the episode they have just watched and another later in the week which deals with all the news, spoilers and other such things that surround any major TV series. Don’t worry though, the spoilers happen at the end of the show and so can easily be ignored if you don’t want the show ruined for you.

8. Hometown Tales

I may be a sceptic but I still like hearing tales of the supernatural and Hometown Tales delivers that in a refreshingly level-headed manner. And what’s more is that the supernatural isn’t their main focus, they’re more concerned with tales of local legends, hence the name, and that can deal with anything from a local haunted house to a famous local sandwich. Brian and Gene cover it all in a straight forward yet often humorous way. In fact, this podcast is probably the first one I listened to and it’ll probably be on my ipod for as long as they decide to make episodes.

7. Filmspotting

Filmspotting, hosted by Adam Kempenaar and Matty Robinson, is a more cerebral approach to film than Cinepub can offer and it really is a quality film pod cast. There are usually at least a couple of reviews per episode and a Top 5 list, because, hey, if there’s one thing we geeks love it’s a list. I’ve never understood what mystical power a list holds over us but I certainly love them. Anyway, they also have other features such as marathons which is a multi-episode topic during which the hosts watch various films with a common theme and then review them. It’s really good for finding out about older films you’ve never heard of as well as some smaller indie films which might not get much press.

6.The Skeptics Guide To The Universe

Another stalwart of my ipod for as long as I can remember, the SGU promises to be your escape to reality and it delivers. It takes a scientifically sound yet also often humorous look at the ridiculous claims that people make throughout the week and reports and comments on them. The show, hosted by Steve Novella, Bob Novella, Jay Novella, Evan Bernstein and Rebecca Watson (And formerly by Perry DeAngelis until his tragic death in 2007), often has interviews with a variety of different sceptical personalities such as James Randi or Mythbusters’ own Adam Savage. The show also has a number of regular features such as ‘Science or Fiction’ in which Steve challenges the Skeptical rogues to guess which two news stories are true and which is fictional as well as the newest feature ‘Who’s That Noisy?’ In which the rogues challenge the listeners to guess who or what made the specially selected sound.

5. (Cool) Shite On The Tube

Cool Shite is awesome for a number of reasons. One is the sheer scope of their geekery. They review films, cartoon, television series and, more recently, sound tracks whilst also delivering at least one show a week dedicated to news and listener mail. The review shows generally focus on one topic which is discussed throughout the episode, though tangents are frequent, particularly at the opening of the show. At the end of the review, the subject is given a rating ranging from Shite minus all the way to Cool plus with Meh in the middle to denote something so unrelentingly bland that you can’t even say you hated it. Also they’re Australian and that’s fun. Good times.

4. Film Junk

Film Junk is hosted by Sean Dwyer, Jay Cheel and Greg Gaspari with occasional appearances from the Pilkington-esque Reed Farrington and is separated into many different segments normally beginning with a run down of the weeks news, followed by one or two reviews of current features and finishing with trailer trash, a look at recently released trailers. The whole show is hilarious and yet they still manage to keep on track most of the time and each episode is packed with a wealth of information. Also they’re Canadian and that’s fun. Good times.

3. Simply Syndicated

Simply Syndicated is a pod cast network with a myriad of shows such as The Definitive Word, …Or Do You Think That’s Just Bollocks and the flagship Movies You Should See. Simply Hear is all of their shows on one feed. I recommend it heartily as practically every show is worth a listen, even Make It So, the Star Trek show. Now, I’m not a major fan of Star Trek, only really liking the original series and some Next Generation, even when talking about later series Make It So is fun. Movies You Should See has really opened my eyes to some movies I otherwise wouldn’t heard of, including one of my personal favourites, Save The Green Planet. There are many hosts, as there are many shows but the one constant through most of them is Rich Smith, the Godfather of the Simply Syndicated universe and he is awesome. I salute him.

2. Smodcast

From the people that brought you Jay and Silent Bob and Zack and Miri comes Smodcast, a show hosted by Kevin Smith and (usually) Scott Mosier. There is no real fixed topic here, they generally just shoot the shit. Occasionally they’ll talk about the movie business but they’re just as likely to be talking about fisting dolphins and the still living decapitated heads of dogs. It’s all good fun and on occasion listening to it has caused me to burst out into laughter in public places. You have been warned.

1. The Bugle

The Bugles is the audio newspaper for a visual world hosted by Andy Zaltzman in London and John Oliver in New York. They cover the weeks news stories that most affect our great nations with tongues firmly in cheeks. Their own cheeks, not each others. I assume. There have been a number of features throughout the show’s history, most of which have since been discontinued, such as the Audio Cryptic Crossword during for which Andy would give one clue a week and, upon it’s completion John was heard to remark “I see the glorious history of the ‘Audio Cryptic Crossword’ as I see the glorious history of the Third Reich—a terrible idea that was rammed down peoples throats for far too long.”
There was also ‘Hotties From History’ during which listeners would send in suggestions for long dead people for inclusion in a pin up calendar including such suggestions as Joanna The Mad and the Toba eruption. When the feature finally came to an end, Andy and John began receiving (humorous) death threats. Ah, what fun. Seriously it’s a good show. Download it.

Well, that’s it for now. Hope you enjoyed that and maybe I helped you find something new to while away the pointless, pointless minutes, days and years leading up to the sweet release of death. Come back tomorrow for something hopefully a little more movie related. Laterz.




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