Day #232

Upon returning to my igloo after a fishing expedition I notice a small object lying outside the igloo. It looks familiar...

Ye gods! It's a lump of flesh!

Ye gods again! It's a nose! A human nose!

Gingerly, I quickly pick it up and throw it as far away as I can. Thankfully it disappears for good down a nearby crevasse(I must get that fixed).

I enter the igloo and look around carefully. Nothing else has been moved. Yet someone is toying with me surely? Someone is following me, leaving me macabre clues... a human nose!? What twisted mind could conceive of such sport?

The mystery becomes clearer when I look in the mirror and notice that my severely frostbitten nose is no longer there. It must have fallen off. Outside somewhere.

"Bollocks." I mutter.


Twins of Evil is a fabulously bloody & bawdy Hammer romp that rather bravely shies away from a simple tale of ‘good versus evil’ and instead manages to create complex characters that perhaps contain shades of both.

Made in 1971, only a year or so after nudity was invented, it’s the third and final instalment of the fairly loose Karnstein trilogy (after The Vampire Lovers and Lust for the Vampire, both from 1970), and it’s simply a fabulous Hammer offering in its own right.

The Twins, Frieda and Maria, are played by Playboy Playmate twins Madeleine and Mary Collinson (who thank god are over the age of consent).

We first see them as they come to stay with their Aunt Katy & Uncle Gustav. It soon becomes clear that rather being Twins of Evil, we have a good twin and a naughty twin. Which would obviously have been a much weaker title, so Twins of Evil it is.

Peter Cushing is in top form as Uncle Gustav - a ruthless Witchfinder General type who leads his religious followers ‘The Brotherhood’ on regular witch-hunts that invariably end with a nubile, innocent, young wench being burned at the stake. We’re also treated to a formidable looking vampire with great hair in Count Karnstein (Damien Thomas).

The clever plot moves along at a rip-roaring pace as blood-drained bodies start to turn up all over the countryside and The Brotherhood roam around unchecked, burning any innocent maiden that takes their fancy, yet rather shamefully being reluctant to visit Castle Karnstein, the real source of evil!

In the meantime, naughty twin Frieda catches the eye of both Count Karnstein AND the resident hero Anton. Where will all this lead to? Will the fact that they’re identical twins lead to any confusion and mistaken identity? You wouldn’t bet it against it would you?

There’s just time for some sexy topless vampire shenanigans before we get to the tremendously bloody final battle at Catle Karnstein.

And I mean bloody. Count Karnstein and his huge henchman aren't in the mood to go quietly, and swords are brandished and axes thrown with a devil-may-care recklessness that just wouldn't be allowed in todays more Health & Safety conscious age. Gallons of bright red Hammer blood is spilled and we get some shockingly graphic deaths - one in particular that comes as a bit of a surprise.

So - one of the best Hammer finales ever, surely? And a fitting end to the Karnstein legacy...


IT'S ALIVE (1974)

Day #5

Lately I've been falling into the most morbid of stupors. Unwilling to rise in the morning. Appetite gone. The black dog of depression growling softly somewhere in the back of my mind...

My mood is not lightened when I take a medicinal brandy and discover too late it was the bottle of urine I'd been saving for a rainy day. This unfortunate incident has made me resolve to do 2 important things in future:

a) Stop saving my urine in brandy bottles.


b) Stop saving my urine for a rainy day.

Anyway, enough talk of urine. Perhaps a film will lighten my mood. A jaunty musical perhaps? Or even a rom-com I daresay? Aha! Here comes one now:

IT'S ALIVE (1974)

This film genuinely surprised me. The ending in particular hit me with a sucker-punch to the gut. But let's rewind to the start...

I was ready to laugh heartily all the way through It's Alive's outrageous and frankly ridiculous premise (killer mutant new-born baby makes a run for it and terrorises the city), and when the poor Carnation milkman meets his end in one of the funniest scenes I've seen in a long-time, I was even more convinced that I was going to get a camp so-bad-its-good gorefest...

But I didn't. Instead, It's Alive stays rather low-key. Certainly as low-key as you can expect from a film about a killer mutant new-born baby. So, rather than scenes of a nappy-clap monstrosity terrorising neighbourhoods, we get a fairly realistic portrayal of a family that has had their world torn apart. Their 'monsters' are so-called nurses with hidden tape-recorders and representatives from drug companies with shady ulterior motives.

Of course, their other monster is a killer mutant new-born baby on the loose. And a fine looking little fella he is - one of legendary monster-maker Rick Baker's earliest works. The scary little oddball (I mean the baby, not Rick Baker) is kept in the shadows and we only get fleeting glimpses of him now and then. A nice touch.

The finale when the father confronts his wounded offspring is genuinely moving and I don't mind admitting I had a lump in my throat. It was rather beautifully acted by the late John P. Ryan, although through most of the film I had difficulty picking up what he was saying. It sounds to my untrained Scottish ears like he had a fairly thick Noo Yoik accent - and kinda mumbled as well. Towards the film I suddenly realised who his voice reminded me off - Oddball from Kelly's Heroes!

Watch it for yourself and tell me it ain't so.

So all in all, another triumph for Larry Cohen. He certainly knows how to pack some thought-provoking issues into his films. In this instance, it's 'what the hell kind of drugs are we being fed by the major co-orporations'? And this is way back in 1974 remember, so pretty prescient stuff.

The final pay-off of It's Alive sets up a sequel beautifully. And I wouldn't be surprised if whoever is controlling the Igloo's TV reception sends me one to review very shortly. Call it a hunch.

In the meantime. Here's the trailer:



Day #395

Music? Outside my igloo? What the...

I stumble sleepily outside and an explosion of glitter and applause greets me. A beautiful yet unwisely dressed (it's -38c) young lady drapes a sash over my shoulder as a feral looking spiv hands me a cheque for $1,000,000 saying: "Congratulations! You've lasted a record 395 days in the Igloo!"

So it was all some sort of reality TV show then? Phew, what a relief! I don't admitting that I was almost...

Day #395

Music? Outside my igloo?

No. Merely the wind whistling through a crack in the igloo above my head. Twas all but a dream...

Except - where did all the glitter outside my tent come from??!


You’ve got to hand it to Roger Corman, he never let a lack of money get in the way of making a grandiose epic.

The Saga of the Viking Women and Their Voyage to the Waters of the Great Serpent tells of, well, a tale suggested very much by the title. Because of its short running time (barely over an hour) I’ve heard some wag ask if that was the title or the script… harsh, very harsh.

Harsh but fair, because even with this short running time (very short for a historical epic) we still get a fair bit of padding where the Viking Women are walking around what looks suspiciously like the Californian countryside.

This isn’t a good film. It’s a bad one. But very watchable. The Viking Women are gorgeous. The special effects (the viking boat, the sea monster) are laughable. The script is lamentable. The acting shoddy. The costumes are ridiculous…

But even so, it’s a lot of good, clean, wholesome fun. More fun than Eyes Wide Shut, certainly.

There is one goof listed on IMDB which I think sums this loveable little epic perfectly:

Continuity: When the Viking women are running along the beach, one of them is wearing sunglasses.



Day #210

Near disaster today! Whilst struggling to pull a fish from my favourite ice-hole, I stumble and accidentally discharge my hunting rifle. The shot cracks the ice and I plunge into the murky abyss!

My life flashes before my eyes... the murders, the sadism, the treachery... ah, good times...

Then I see a bright light and feel myself being pulled towards it... pulled... towards the light, or out of the hole? Because the next thing I remember I am on the ice, struggling for breath... are there voices?

I recall a shadowy figure kneeling beside me and whispering: "If you're frightened of dying, and you're holding on, you'll see devils tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth."

Then I feel a blow to my head. I wake up hours later in the Igloo, wrapped warmly in a blanket I've never seen before...

My God, what a day! I could - and possible should - have died under that ice! I can't bear to think of it. I need a stiff brandy, and to watch something that will take my mind off the whole unfortunate episode...


Alan Kent is one of four unsuspecting tourists who find themselves in a seemingly deserted Castle Dracula. His wife Helen has a strong sense of foreboding but her protestations are given short thrift: “You’ll forget about all this in the morning, you’ll see,” Alan assures her. She simply replies: “There’ll be no morning for us.”

This line chilled my spine when I first saw this movie as an 8-year old. Barbara Shelley’s fatalistic delivery of it is impeccable – she states it not as a prediction, but as a certainty. And she is now resigned to her fate, having tried and failed to warn anyone else of the danger. It’s one of the finest lines in horror movie history in my opinion. Only "Death by stereo" comes anywhere close.

The Hammer Draculas were the young Igloo Keeper’s first horror love, and they remain firm favourites . Having said that, I can’t help but think that it's a flawed series, and although I’d rather watch 'Dracula: Prince of Darkness' more than almost any other film, it could have been so much better:

For example, where’s Peter Cushing? No sign of him here. Any Dracula film without Cushing v Lee, Van Helsing v Dracula is missing something very special indeed. Mind you, even when the two do appear together, it always seems that their screen-time together is too brief. I want to see them verbally spar with one another. I want to see them sit down for a meal together, being outwardly polite, but promising to end one another's time on this Earth if it's the last thing they do, by thunder!. That sort of thing. But for some reason it never happened, perhaps because of my next point...

Another huge flaw throughout the series is Dracula’s dialogue. Or lack of it. For some reason, he’s struck dumb in 'Dracula: Prince of Darkness'. In the other films he fares not much better, usually being restricted to a couple of lines near the end of the film which generally follows this sequence:

a) Dracula quickly boasts about how omnipotent, wonderful and unstoppable he is.
b) He then throws something at Van Helsing that misses by a mile.
c) And dies either stupidly (by falling into a shallow pit of stakes: ‘Dracula 1972 A.D’), or unluckily (being hit by lightning: ‘Scars of Dracula).

I’ve heard that Lee himself felt exactly the same way about his piss-poor dialogue and tried unsuccessfully to get the film-makers to use some suitably portentous lines from the original Stoker novel. But 'twas not to be.

Back in Dracula’s castle the count is resurrected by the blood of a hapless Alan Kent, in another wonderful scene where the evil henchman Clove hoists him above a coffin and slits his wrists. The casual, workmanlike way that he does this still packs a punch (it chills my spine in fact, but I already used that phrase in the first paragraph). Blood flows and Dracula is back!

Barbara Shelley is his first victim. Now, I’m fully aware that vampirism has laid scourge to many a Carpathian countryside, and becoming a vampire is not generally a good thing but wow – Barbara Shelley looks good on it! She transform from a frumpy old misery into a hot, Hot, HOT Uber-sexy MILF vampire. She could tap at my window any time. If my igloo had windows…

Thankfully the remainder of the group, Charles and Diana Kent, manage to escape and enlist the help of a no-nonsense rifle-toting priest, Father Quatermass.

This time, Dracula finds himself treading on thin ice – literally. His death is probably a 50/50 split between bad luck and stupidity, as the priests shoots holes in some ice that Dracula has somehow found himself on. A few skillful shots later, Dracula topples into a watery grave.

Ha! Let’s see him get out of that one! What monster has ever managed to escape from being preserved in ice before? (see ‘Dracula has Risen from the Grave for further details…)


THE RUINS (2008)

Day #86
Alarm! The time flickers 04:12 on my trusty digital clock as I hear a noise outside the igloo! My government issue APHSD (Anti-personnel Private Home Security Device) has been triggered!!

I rush outside and sure enough, someone has walked through my piece of string with cans attached.

Then an unwelcome sight – the dog enclosure has been broken into! The dogs are gone, along with my sledge!!

So I really am trapped then. My only means of transport gone. Stolen. But by who? Or what??

Then I remember. I didn’t have any dogs or a sledge.

Or a dog enclosure.

Relieved, I go back inside the igloo, making a mental note to list my provisions, as the TV comes slowly alive and the credits roll (and I remember I don’t have a digital clock either)…

THE RUINS (2008)

There aren’t enough films with scary man-eating plants these days for my liking. Just think how much better Eyes Wide Shut, Mona Lisa Smile or even, I daresay, this year’s Oscar nominated The Reader would have been with the inclusion of a carnivorous hedgerow or two.

So I’ve got an awful lot of goodwill for The Ruins, a film about - scary man-eating plants.

It uses Modern Horror Film Template #1 to start - a group of scantily clad teens go exploring. They meet some unfriendly locals.

Where The Ruins score points for originality is that we’re a-way down in Mexico way.

And the unfriendly locals have surrounded the teens on the roof of a Mayan temple. But why don’t they attack??

Our teens are trapped on the temple roof. What will they do? What plans will they put in place to get rescued?

Or to put it another way, how long would you be able to sit on a roof without breaking your back, smashing your leg and getting stabbed?

I’m not saying our teens are particularly accident prone, but within the space of 5 minutes one of the guys has taken a header down the only, very clearly marked, hole on the roof and broken his back. And there’s soon a girl hobbling around with a huge gash (don’t be crude) in her thigh. It would seem that not only do our teens have to worry about being trapped by hostile locals, they also have to worry about being a bit stupid.

And then the plants start getting frisky. The injured members of the party awake to find their wounds have attracted the local vegetation. Cue much horrible and bloody cutting and pulling of vines from veins.

We’re then treated to a double amputation with a pen-knife. Lovely. Actually, it’s quite funny. Something inside me will always find a bloke with a dodgy German accent pleading for his legs to be cut off deeply hilarious.

I’ve just remembered I was going to try and be nice to The Ruins. So I'm quite happy to admit that yes, I did quite enjoy it. The young cast did a great job, with some impressive acting throughout, and the special effects team certainly know how to shake a plant or two.

I was, however, kinda surprised to discover the source material is a highly praised novel (Scott B. Smith), because the film’s attempt at a back story and character motivation and development seemed distinctly half-arsed. Why didn’t we find out more about the first party of guys whose empty tents were found? Why didn’t we find out a little bit more about the locals? I could understand an answer of ‘we needed to cut to the chase and get the plot moving’, but at the end of the day the plot involved little more than teens standing on top of a Mayan temple having endless unintentionally amusing accidents.

Despite this the fact remains – The Ruins has man-eating plants and is therefore worth watching. Go see it. You never know (awful pun alert), it might grow on you!


THE STUFF (1985)

Day #313

Another blizzard.

The same blizzard.

Snow, driving snow, nothing but snow - relentless white, white, white stuff seeping into my very consciousness and driving me insane! Hellish white, White WHITE torment!

I need something to take my mind of this never ending horror...

THE STUFF (1985)

Soylent Green meets The Blob in this wonderful horror film directed by the great Larry Cohen (Q: The Winged Serpent etc.).

Or, imagine if Ed Wood Jnr. had tried to turn a John Grisham novel into a film… then you’d have The Stuff!

But what is The Stuff? It’s the new dessert sensation sweeping the world. It looks harmless enough, tastes great – but is it all just a little too good to be true?

Michael Moriarty (a Cohen favourite and rightly so) plays Mo - a good ol’ Southern boy Industrial Spy who isn’t as dumb as he makes out. He’s hired by The Stuff's competition to discover the secret of The Stuff, and so teams up with the beautiful Nicole who works for the Stuff's advertising campaign (and what a great campaign it is, with a song so catchy and addictive you won’t be able to get enough of it. Very apt), and a young kid Jason, who is the only one (for some reason) that has twigged the secret of The Stuff and has escaped (by pretending to eat shaving foam - don’t ask) from his Stuff-crazed family, including a spookily-eyebrowed brother who is a dead ringer for a vamped up Danny Glick. More than enough reason to run from any home.

Oh, and there’s also Chocolate Chip Charlie as Himself.

Our small team of good guys go investigating, and have a few close calls with The Stuff before eventually teaming up with Pauly from Goodfellas, who plays Colonel Malcolm Grommett Spears, leader of the free resistance – and a bit of a nutter - down in Atlanta.

A thrilling final showdown sees Mo, Pauly and co. do battle with The Stuff and various nameless Stuff henchmen. Spoiler ahead – they win! The world (the U.S.) is free!

The Stuff (the film, not The Stuff itself) is wonderful. A biting satire on the nature of rampant consumerism if you’re being generous, a completely ridiculous b-movie if you’re not. Either way it’s absolutely essential viewing. But be warned! One sitting may not be enough!!! < Cue The Stuff advertising song. Repeat to fade>



Day #159

Some of you have been asking questions about my existence here in Igloo Land. Sorry I can't answer them all personally but here are a few answers to the most popular questions:

1) Fish. I fish every day. That's all the food there is. Sometimes I have ice for dessert.
2) Water. Luckily there's a fresh water spring about 2 miles away. Inside the force-field, thankfully.
3) Yes, of course it's bloody cold.
4) I only have one battered old TV. No, I have no control over it. It comes on of its own accord and shows... hang on, here it comes now!


If Underworld had been directed by Ken Loach – with no budget - it would have looked pretty much like Perfect Creature. This brave new world is a little bit grey and grimy, and our heroes are miserable, downtrodden bunch at the bottom of the social heap.

Saffron Burrows plays a hard-bitten cop. Here’s a transcript from the Initial casting meeting:

“We need a hard-bitten cop. Who immediately springs to mind?”,
“Harvey Kietel?”
“Bob Hoskins?”
“Got it! Saffron Burrows”

To be fair to her she’s fine. She’s certainly a lot better than Dougray Scott. No offence to Saffron Burrows but when you’re out-acted by Saffron Burrows you know you’re in trouble. Dougray Scott looks as if he's sleepwalking through the entire film. Here’s a glimpse of him emoting anger:

At one point (47 mins 50 secs) I swear to God he does actually fall asleep, and has to be nudged awake by someone off camera.

The premise of Perfect Creature is actually pretty original and interesting. Vampires and humans co-exist quite happily. In fact, vampires are worshipped as near gods, with churches dedicated to them.

It all kicks off when an influenza epidemic sweep the human population, and – obvious spoiler coming up - one of the vampires goes 'rogue' and starts preying on humans.

Good vampire Silus (Dougray) is sent by the church to catch bad vampire Edgar, his brother (wouldn't you have guessed)who looks like a young Bon Jovi.Edgar teams up with the hard-bitten cop that is Saffron Burrows, and they run about a lot. At least, Burrows runs about and Dougray Scott walks and talks slowly about. Every couple of minutes he twists his neck at 45 degrees and looks upwards. This is to signify his supernatural hearing. It’s the only thing he does.

Despite a promising premise, Perfect Creature doesn’t quite hit the mark. The plot fails to deal with a number of interesting issues raised and kind of collapses under the strain half-way through, leaving us with a standard chase/fight/chase/fight movie. Bit of a shame really. At the end it’s set up for a sequel. I’d watch the sequel quite happily, but will there be one? Will anyone find the budget for a sequel? And so I found myself saying, “Ah, bless, hope it works out for them” in an incredibly patronising way. Probably not the reaction that the film-makers were hoping for.



Day #343

Sartre once said "Hell is other people" but obviously the beady-eyed existentialist twat had never spent 343 - or whatever it's been - days in a bloody freezing cold igloo. In an arctic wasteland. In a force-field.

I yearn for some company with all my soul. Someone real. Someone human. For all I have is the ghosts who haunt my dreams. The ghosts of those I have slain. Of those I have hurt. Of those who I've wronged. And of those who I wanted to wrong but didn't get round to wronging.

In the name of God, how long will this cursed solitude last???


With a title – and a premise – straight out of a Two Ronnies Christmas Special ( Ronnie Corbett would play Dr Jekyll. Ronny Barker would be the hapless detective. Sister Hyde would be… Kate O’ Meara probably)

thank God we’ve got the wonderful Ralph Bates to make this shit sound plausible. In my opinion he’s on a par with Peter Cushing at being utterly, utterly convincing even when spouting the most ludicrous gobbledegook and bamboozling mumbo-jumbo.

Wonderful wonderful actor, Ralph Bates. What a striking looking chap – black, black, hair. Black, black eyes. Black, black… clothes as well usually. And features so sharp they’d cut your throat. Although he appeared in a mere handful of Hammer Horrors he shone and oozed class in every one - his Baron Frankenstein is a wonderful sociopath, and he died far too soon in ‘Taste the Blood of Dracula’ for my liking.

He died far too soon for my liking in real life as well, succumbing to cancer in 1981, at only 51 years of age. Robbing us of many wonderful performances…

Dr Jekyll and sister Hyde then. Ronnie Corbett, sorry, Ralph Bates plays Dr Jekyll, a gaunt young chap who spends way too much time in his laboratory doing all sorts of weird and wonderful experiments - searching for the elixir of life, no less.

So intent is he on his research that he fails to notice he has won the heart of the attractive young lady who lives upstairs for him. Actually, she’s fairly annoying so maybe he just doesn’t give a toss.

Back to his lab we go, and exciting news! He’s done it – he’s found the secret of everlasting life! Only one slight catch, something hardly worth bothering about surely, not even worth mentioning imho… his elixir turns him into a woman - Sister Hyde, played by the wonderfully cast Martine Beswick. And what a great looking woman she is - and she also looks kind of like Ralph Bates, which can’t have been an easy thing to pull off. So fair play her to then. And because it’s the 70’s, we also get to see her fondle her breasts a bit. Fair play to her again. Apparently the drop dead gorgeous Caroline Munro turned down the part because of this brief nude scene. So the opposite of fair play to her then.

Dr Jekyll is now in turmoil (as was I when I almost got caught dressed as woman in the East End of London. But that’s another story) and he finds himself spiralling downwards ever downwards into an abyss of corpse-snatching, mutilations, murders and mistakenly ordering ladies undergarments. Again, behaviour which I must profess to being all too familiar with.

When his bodysnatching accomplices Burke and Hare get lynched, Dr Jekyll resorts to finding his own victims - the prostitutes of London’s old east End. This being the late Victorian era, it’s soon becomes clear that Dr Jekyll is in fact, doing the deeds that we know ascribe to Jack the Ripper.

Whoah! I hear you say. Jack the Ripper? Burke and Hare? Surely they were years apart? Surely Burke and Hare were actually from Edinburgh now that you come to think of it? Well yes, I must confess you’re spot on. In fact this peculiar discrepancy in time and place is listed as a ‘goof’ in IMDB. But I say piff and poppycock to this - a goof? Come on, it’s a work of genius! Jack the Ripper and Burke and Hare appearing together in a Hammer Horror is just as it should be. This is Hammer world remember folks, not the real world. And the two are very different places. For example when was the last time you walked through a forest at night and the sun was shining?

And because it’s Hammer world we’re in, it’s not too long until an angry mob appears from nowhere intent on dishing out some vigilante justice to the devilish Dr J and/or Sister H. He/she escapes, but instead of hailing a Hansom cab and making a swift exit, he (I’ve decide he’s a he) decides to climb up onto a very high and very unsafe roof.

The end is now on sight. Dr Jekyll only has time to quickly turn into Sister Hyde before falling to his death. The moral of the story as the credits roll is obvious.
DON’T. PLAY. GOD. Christ, how many times do you have to spell it out to these people??

Here's the trailer: