Sherlock Holmes – The Musical

It has to be said that I rarely go to the theatre. That’s “rarely”, as in twice in the past six years (and that was to “‘Allo ‘Allo” and a university charity show). However, when a friend of mine got tickets for a preview of “Sherlock Holmes – the Musical” at the Cambridge Theatre in London, I thought it might be fun to go along, not least becasue at a cost of 2.50, I had nothing to lose. To me, ‘musical’ is inexorably linked to things like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” so I wasn’t expecting too much – I must admit that I enjoyed myself more than I though I would.

It stars Ron Moody, famous for playing Fagin in “Oliver!”, as the great detective and starts just after his battle with Professor Moriarty at the Reichenbach Falls. He returns to London, where Bella, the Professor’s daughter, has worked out a fiendish plan to incriminate Sherlock Holmes in a ‘orrible murder. This, basically, is the plot. Around this are arranged about 20 musical bits and a few standard Holmes jokes – the disguises, the displays of deductive power etc. Not an awful lot to go on, especially when the music is not the sort I’d normally listen to.

On the plus side, we have the atmosphere of the theatre. It’s like the difference between watching live football and a match on the telly – I can’t be any more explicit than that. Ron Moody is quite excellent as Sherlock, showing real stage presence; most of the other actors are also good. The sets were impressive and the scenery changes extremely slick and a lot less noticeable than this cinefreak expected. Even the songs were ok, as long as there was an accompanying dance routine or something else interesting – when it was just one singer standing in the centre of the stage, it wasn’t too exciting.

The first half was noticeably better, probably thanks to the lower musical content, and a couple of scenes were well up to anything I’ve seen recently in a movie – the murder especially chilled the blood. Things did get a little dull in the second half, which was mostly songs, and ones we’d heard before too – it seemed noticeably shorter, though since the whole thing came in at about 2 1/2 hours including the interval, this is no bad thing.

Criticisms? I’m a very amateur theatregoer and can’t compare it with anything in order to say how good or bad it is. However, Liz Robertson seemed ill at ease when acting compared to the easy manner of Ron Moody and after a while, the continual cheerful Cockney chirpiness (rhyming slang, etc) begins to grate – perhaps the show is aimed at the coming summer tourist market. Nevertheless, I had a very entertaining evening for my 2.50 at this trash musical – whether it’s worth paying eight to twenty pounds for a ‘real’ seat, I’m not so sure.

Edge of Sanity

This film has come in for heavy flak from certain quarters; Time Out described it as “tawdry”, Fear said it was “aimed at the loony slicing up Madonna clones crowd”. I’m going to stick my neck out and disagree with both these august publications. I think it’s a good film, not without flaws I admit, but better than the reviews would have you believe. [If you’re sensitive about such things, I’m about to reveal the plot].

Dr Jekyll (Anthony Perkins) is a successful doctor who is developing a new drug, with uses as an anaesthetic and a, er, stimulant (Somewhat ironic in view of recent events!). Unfortunately, an accident brings him into contact with a ‘mutant’ variety of it which changes him temporarily into a killer. His alter ego, Jack Hyde, slaughters prostitutes, due in part to an incident from his childhood when he was caught indulging in a spot of voyeurism. His wife (Glynis Barber), finally realises he isn’t working nights at the hospital and tracks him down. She is nearly killed, escapes and returns to her home where she hides until she hears her husband returning and the sound of a shot. Hehehe! Jack’s not finished (“You didn’t think I was DEAD, did you?”) and merrily slits his wife’s throat before returning to his normal self, for the moment…

Some people have chosen to point out the anachronisms – a BOY belt buckle, a pound coin, etc. Though I’m no fashion victim, even I saw that most of the prostitutes’ costumes are not very Victorian. The story seems to take place in a twilight world where the ‘nice’ women wear demure crinolines and the ‘naughty’ ones are dressed in Madonna gear (who better to epitomise 80’s female sexuality?). I think we are dealing with an allegorical update here (yo!) – whinges about the costumes are thus about as justifiable as complaining those in ‘West Side Story’ aren’t medieval Italian. The ‘Madonna clones’ comment is more reasonable since the woman he kills do have a certain similarity, though since they also resemble the girl involved in the childhood incident, it’s justifiable.

The acting is generally solid, with two major exceptions. Glynis Barber is out of place and looks uncomfortably wooden. This is more than made up for by the superb performance of Anthony Perkins when playing psycho-Goth & Peter Murphy clone Jack Hyde. He conveys all the depravity of Jack Hyde with a single twitch and loads a simple phrase like ‘Our lucky day’ with enough menace to fuel an entire series of mundane slasher pics. The director (Gerard Kikoine on his debut) shows plenty of neat touches and novel angles. Unfortunately, the BBFC in it’s infinite wisdom decided to cut some scenes, which leaves them looking jagged in places.

Overall, highly impressive stuff and deserving of praise, especially for not trying to produce a ‘happy ending’. Perkins’ performance alone is worth the rental price.

Film Blitz

The Accused (Jonathan Kaplan) – It’s tough to give this film a bad review without seeming unsympathetic to rape victims, but it has to be done even if it’s hard to convey just how loathsome it is. With a tediously obvious and laughable plot (a witness is traced by his name in a video game hi-score table!), it’s sensationalist nature makes it as much a serious film about rape as “Fatal Attraction” was a serious film about marital problems. The rape scene is leeringly shot and pointless since by the time it happens, you have no sympathy for the victim. Jodie Foster emotes a lot to minimal effect (a Sympathy Oscar if ever I saw one) and Kelly McGillis seemed to think she was still in “Top Gun”…

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Terry Gilliam)
1. A lot of money, a lot of hype – is it worth it? Nooooo, not quite, considering that for the same money Fred Olen Ray could have made about 400 films, each as much fun. There are some truly jaw-dropping moments, the effects ARE remarkable; in fact, there’s very little I can complain about, really, except the ten year old sitting behind me who punctuated every five minutes with “What’s he doing?”, “Why’s he doing that?”, “Can I have an ice-cream?”, “Can I have another ice-cream?”, “I’m going to be sick!”, etc. Any film that introduces to me to a new stunning beauty (Uma Thurman) has to be fairly worthwhile; unfortunately, it’s otherwise very much a case of good, but not THAT (for ‘THAT’, read $40 million) good.

2. Terry Gilliam’s latest offering, which can be roughly described as a ‘buddy’ film about a very old man and a very young girl, would have to do a great deal to fulfil what people have come to expect of him. Massively over budget and beset by catastrophes, the miracle is more that the film was ever completed that that it is at the least a half-decent film.

For those of you who have missed the many publicity blurbs, the plot is basically that of Baron Munchausen, infamous for his many tall stories, attempting to raise the Turkish siege of a town that he had caused long enough ago for most of the town’s population not only to forget that he was the cause, but also to forget that he actually exists.

He escapes the town by talking all the women of the town into relinquishing their underwear in order to build a hot-air balloon (a feat which many of my male friends seem eager to emulate), and proceeds to search for his trusty servants, without whom he appears to be absolutely useless. Watch out for Sting in his cameo role and for Robin Williams for his uncredited [though every review seems to credit it!!] performance as King of the Moon.

The film’s only problem is that the stunts are so well done as to cease being spectacular. Still, it’s an entertaining film, with morsels of violence and nudity for the more bloodthirsty/lustful among you, and just the right attention to detail. If you liked “Brazil”, you’ll probably like this, but considering the budget, the overall assessment is ‘Could do better’.

Angel of Vengeance (Abel Ferrara) – Mr. Ferrara has had an interesting career, ranging from the notorious (and highly tedious) “Driller Killer”, to TV movies such as “The Gladiator”, recently shown here. This film (also known as “Ms. 45” & not to be confused with “Avenging Angel”) falls in the middle, chronologically, and is a lot better than either, thanks mostly to a great performance from Zoe Tamerlis as the mute who is raped twice in one day, which causes her to wreak revenge on every man who looks at her. She overcomes the difficulty of having no dialogue very well and Ferrara does what he does best, painting a picture of the City as Hell on Earth. One supreme moment with Ms. 45, dressed as a nun, kissing the bullets as she loads them up, which is simultaneously the stuff of fantasy and nightmare.

Bad Girls Dormitory (Tim Kincaid) – Great title, disappointing film. Women-in- prison piece goes for ‘realism’ rather than tackiness and suffers as a result. The music’s better than “Reform School Girls” to my ears – in all other categories, it loses. Watch out for one of the worst choreographed fight sequences it has been my misfortune to endure.

Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens (Russ Meyer) – Third in his Vixens series, taking his breast fixation to extremes with Francesca ‘Kitten’ Natividad. Nudity in abundance, I don’t share Russ’s fetish, the humour’s my style instead. Acceptable.

Betrayed (Costa-Gavras) – Deborah Winger plays a CIA agent who goes undercover to track the White Power killers of a radio show host. Generally gripping; even if it does occasionally descend into sentimentality, some scenes made the hairs on the back of my neck stand. Superior to many films about The Land of the Free – if the South IS like that (I don’t know), I don’t think I want to go there.

The Blob (Chuck Russell) – More proof that throwing money at a film doesn’t always work. The effects are acceptable, the acting corny and the characters cliched. I can’t help wondering what the money was spent on – certainly, the sections I enjoyed most, such as “Garden Tool Massacre”, the film-within-the-film parody of the Friday the 13th genre, showed no sign of the budget. Nice to see a movie with a message these days. And the message is ‘If you put your hand down a girl’s blouse, her face explodes and strangles you.’ After “Nightmare 3”, strike 2 for Chuck, I’m afraid.

Crazy Love (Dominique Deruddere) – Dismantles the ‘romantic’ view of love and life with clinical precision and inspects it in an unflattering, cynical light. The three stories concern the same boy/man at different ages: the first sees his instruction in the facts of life, the second has him having to cope with SERIOUS acne and the third has him stealing a corpse for a joke and falling in love with it. Bitter-sweet stuff, often accurate to the point of being squirm-inducing, funny and sad in equal quantities. Excellent.

Demons (Dario Argento) – Argento is supposedly the master of the Italian horror film – if this is so, what’re the amateurs like? Minimal plot, a ludicrous climax, bad dubbing/acting and the gore that might have made it tolerable removed. Rotten. [Er… please see this cringing apology]

Drowning by Numbers (Peter Greenaway) – Surreal weirdness from the director of the very odd “Zed and Two Noughts”. Surprisingly, it works; a bit like an “Alice in Wonderland” for adults, it has an internal consistency which makes sense after a while. Here, we have three generations of women who drown their husbands and use their sexual wiles to bribe/blackmail the coroner into covering up. Visually striking, try and understand it at your own risk. Includes an imaginative new use for an ice-lolly… Friday the 13th Part VII – The New Breed – Every other review of this latest Jason flick has been totally negative (“It blows dead ghoulies in hell” – Chas Balun). I don’t see why – it seemed no worse than the last two and, unlike “Jason Lives”, it offers an action packed extended climax, though Jason’s actual demise is pathetic. Four and a half out of ten.

Ghosts of the Civil Dead (John Hillcoat) – Australian film, set in a prison of the near future, detailing the events leading up to a ‘lockdown’, when the prisoners are confined to their cells. Minimal dialogue, told mostly in voiceover, it’s not an easy film to watch. It’s worth the effort, though it’s completely pessimistic and brutally realistic nature makes it very different from other ‘prison’ films. Nice cameo from Nick Cave as a psycho and great stuff for paranoiacs. See it if you can.

Hands of the Ripper (Peter Sasdy) – One of the better late Hammer films, with Angharad Rees giving an excellent performance even by Hammer standards, as the daughter of Jack the Ripper who occasionally slips into psychotic frenzies herself. Surprisingly bloody for a ’15’, especially a nasty bit of eye-violence.

Hellbound – Hellraiser II (Peter Atkins) – As promised, a re-review of this one, and a report on how it’s done at the BBFC. I stand by most of what I said in TC 0; it is nowhere near as good as “Hellraiser”, the dialogue is rotten as is most of the acting and the story line is weak involving a lot of running about. The hell scenes are impressive, on the other hand and the FX are astonishing – if the original wasn’t one of my favourite films, this would be quite tolerable. As for the cuts, scratch almost the entire mattress sequence, reduced to about three shots from about 90 seconds, both Pinhead and Channard’s cenobitization are cut, as is the scene where the Channard slaughters his ex-patients and the one where he loses his head. None of these, except the first one struck me as being too blatant and the editing has been done well. Overall, it could have been a whole lot worse…

The Howling II (Phillipe Mora) – Now out on budget video. It never takes itself seriously enough or QUITE slides into total parody – either way might have been better. Christopher Lee does his best against some crass Americans and appalling werewolf FX (to be fair, some of the other pieces are OK) and Sybil Danning turns in her usual, er, fine performance. Watch the end credits for an example of sheer overkill as the same shot of SD whipping her top off is used at least twenty times!

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (Steven Spielberg) – I have to admit to being disappointed by this one. Apart from a wonderful performance by Sean Connery, this is little more than a remake of the first in the series; Jones vs. Nazis, religious imagery, a long chase, etc. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work this time – even the chase is too long (I fell asleep in the middle!). Some nice ideas aren’t fully developed and there are gaping holes in the plot. The climax felt like something out of a bad fantasy game and I would have been much happier all round if it had stopped after The Temple of Doom.

Kamikaze (Didier Grousset) – Impressive French film, about an unemployed guy who gets so annoyed at TV announcers he invents a gun to kill them by remote control, and the policeman who has to track him down. It loses it’s way a little in the last third, when it gets too wordy for it’s own good, though the climax is chilling stuff. The best foreign film for a while and the sooner someone really invents a gun like that, the better!

Licence to Kill (John Glenn) – I go into each Bond film wondering how they’re going to surpass the previous one and come out in a daze. This one was no different, easily living up to “The Living Daylights” with astonishing stunts. Timothy Dalton is perfectly acceptable as Bond – you don’t go to these films for the acting! It does deserve it’s ’15’ certificate with blood and a nasty bit involving someone in a decompression chamber. The climactic car chase, or rather, tanker chase may well be the best one of the year. Add two cute bimbos and a very funny performance by Q and you have an excellent piece of expensive trash!

Nightmare on Elm Street 1, 2, 3 & 4 (Wes Craven, Jack Sholder, Chuck Russell and Renny Harlin) – I’ve never been a great fan of the Nightmare films (any series with a child killer as a hero is on dodgy ground – a Freddy fanclub for chrissake?) but when Wimbledon Odeon put on all four for a fiver, it was too cheap to miss and I have to say I was surprised how well-made at least three of them were. The plot is the same in all four: Freddy comes back from the dead and slaughters a few teens before getting destroyed, though within this framework, each director has a style all his own.

The first one is a straight horror story, done well, though Wes Craven has the easier task of not having earlier films to live up/down to. Tense and effective stuff. NoES 2 has come in for some flak, mostly for the Freddy-by-the-pool scene – fair comment and a shame, as up to then it had been better than NoES 1, with more believable heroes and the border between dreams and reality less explicit. NoES 3 was, for me, the worst, and a real turkey – what’s all this “in my dreams, I can be a wizard” crap? No mention of this in the first two films! Schmaltzy and cute, more like a kiddies’ TV series than a horror flick.

Finally, the new one – NoES 4. It’s a little cracker. Renny Harlin, who gave us “Prison”, one of 88’s best, has given us one of 89’s best too. ANYONE can die at ANY time – I was onto my third choice heroine by the end. Although a couple of the dream sequences don’t quite work perfectly, this scarcely matters and we have the first horror pic of the year that even makes an attempt to kick ass. I, for one, can’t wait to see the result when Renny Harlin directs a William Gibson script for “Aliens 3” [ STOP PRESS – Harlin’s dropped out ]. What odds it’ll be one of 1990’s best? Oh, keep an eye out for the name of the cafe, where much of the action takes place…

Parents (Bob Balaban) – The director claims it’s not a horror story – I beg to differ. It IS relatively restrained; it’s plot about a boy who comes to believe his parents are cannibals can hardly be described as romantic comedy though. Deviation behind a facade of normality is the theme and the performances from Randy Quaid and Mary Beth Hurt as the parents bring this out, with a lot of black humour. Even if the climax owes more than a little to ‘Halloween’ and other unkillable killer flicks, it is still one of the most original & enjoyable horror films so far this year.

Patty Hearst (Paul Schrader) – For those of you too young to remember, Patty Hearst was kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army and held to ransom. She was next seen helping her kidnappers rob a bank. Finally, the FBI caught up with her and she was sent to jail, though she is now free. This film is based on her book – surprise, surprise, she comes up smelling of roses! It was all the evil SLA’s fault because thet brainwashed her, raped her and were generally nasty to her (I remain unconvinced she wasn’t just a rich bitch out for kicks). Paul Schrader directs with a severe lack of lustre – the first half an hour or so seems to take place in a cupoboard, which isn’t very exciting. Only in odd moments does the pace or the acting rise above the pedestrian.

The Seven-per-cent Solution (Herbert Ross) – Surprisingly entertaining film, with Nicol Williamson (who played Merlin in John Boorman’s “Excalibur”) playing Sherlock Holmes as a cured coke fiend. Part-parody, part-homage, it might have been a disaster, instead it stays entertaining and frothily on track until the ‘surprise’ ending, which is telegraphed a long way in advance.

The Strangeness – Takes the second half of “Alien” and relocates it to a desert mine. The monster, here, being an ancient Indian folk-lore demon, is stop-motioned and iis barely glimpsed until the last ten minutes. It’s dull – didn’t deserve to be placed in Shock Xpress’s 50 most boring movies list, though.

Street Trash (Jim Muro) – This movie has as much chance of winning an Oscar as Salman Rushdie has of being given the Nobel Peace Prize. The word “Trash” is very apt for this movie – it’s the cinematic equivalent of a Big Mac; the acting is non- descript, the plot is more flimsy than the baggage inspection at Heathrow and the FX are totally gross. I love it! The film is set in the gutters of a USA inner city; scum & lowlife roam the streets and live on a liquid lunch(bit like a Napalm Death gig). A local store-keeper finds a case of liquor in his cellar, gives it a dust down and ships it out at a dollar a throw. No harm in that you might think, the problem is that the beer contains something very unpleasant(no, it’s not Hofmeister) which makes the consumer, well, MELT…

This is when the fun starts, one poor chap melts into the toilet (must have had Tandoori chicken), all that’s left is his deformed head peering out of the porcelain god. Add to this a deranged Vietnam vet, a stupid cop (aren’t they all?) and a sex mad scrap yard owner who likes to indulge in a spot of necrophilia. The film does tend to drag it’s feet a bit in the midle, but it’s still a great piece of sleaze – the highlights have to be a chap getting his head and most of his upper torso blown off and a game of ‘piggy-in-the- middle’ with a poor individual’s love truncheon… Why Barry Norman never included this in his Top Films of ’88 I’ll never know!

The Streetwalker (Walerian Borowczyk) – Sylvia Kristel and Joe d’Allesandro in the current leader for the Film With Least Plot prize. Life in the Paris red-light area sums it up. Not as good as some of his films – far too ‘normal’ to be interesting!

Supervixens (Russ Meyer) – Superb stuff. Part ‘Carry On’ film, part psycho killer, a weird mix, but it works. A guy argues with his wife – by coincidence, she gets slaughtered by a cop (in a scene short on gore, none the less nasty for it). He’s suspected and goes on the run to be waylaid by ANY & EVERY female he meets, until he meets the cop again… Reality takes a back seat permanently in this one, which may be Meyer’s best and is certainly the most entertaining to watch.

The Tall Guy – Better than I expected, from the man at least partly responsible for the appalling “Morons from Outer Space”. Never hysterically funny, never dull either – a few nice moments, though the much-touted sex scene isn’t very sexy or funny. Wait till it’s on TV.

They Live (John Carpenter) – Further evidence of a return to form, following the under-rated “Prince of Darkness”. Roddy Piper is a surprise as the labourer who puts on cool sunglasses and discovers the earth has been invaded by aliens. The action sequences are, as ever from Carpenter, excellent; he will insists pointless scenes that are nothing more than blatant attempts to give the characters character, instead of letting their actions speak for them. Candidate for line of the year: “I have come here to chew bubble-gum and kick ass. And I’m right out of bubble-gum.”

Terror on the Menu OR Terror at the Red Fox Inn, (depending on whether you believe the video box or the film titles respectively) – This is a trashless American drive in movie – ‘trashless’ via it’s lack of gore, horror and (needless to say) sex. It was produced in the mid-70’s and involves a pretty young student winning a holiday at a countryside inn which is owned by a group of cannibals. An endless dinner sequence (lots of closeups of mouths chomping away) deep-sixes this movie early on. To be ignored and forgotten.

Vixens (Russ Meyer) – First in Meyer’s top-heavy trilogy, probably the dullest of them, despite some odd moments when it starts getting political, with a communist hijacker. Wafer-thin plot about, er, I’m not sure what, does little to hold the interest and, unsurprisingly, the acting is awe-inspiring awful.

Trash Pop

In the beginning was the word, and the word was ‘A-wop-bop-a-loo-bop-a-wop-bam-boom’. Bad lyrics are an endless source of fascination to me, summing up the pure essence of pop – there’s a strange similarity between the feeling I get watching a truly bad film, and the one I get hearing an infinitive split in a particularly brutal manner.

What makes a bad lyric? Lack of meaning, strangely enough, isn’t necessarily that important – John Foxx produced an entire LP, “The Garden”, without coming up with very much intelligible to the average listener : “Do you get the smell of burning metal? / Can you feel the heartbeat under the sea? / Well, it’s just me and Oppenheimer waltzing / The crowded streets in chromakey” is a typical example, from the peculiarly named “Dancing Like a Gun”. Strangely, it works, probably because the words do fit the tune and have a rhythm, even if they are total gibberish.

Banal lyrics aren’t necessarily bad either, as long as you’re expecting them. Patsy Kensit & Eighth Wonder (above) produce music for happy bimbos, and the lyrics reflect this : “When I see the front page/It makes me worry/In a world full of outrage/The future looks blurry” (“My Baby’s Heartbeat”), may not be totally appalling, but it’s not far off. In terms of childishness, Jonathan Richman is the king here ; “Abominable Snowman in the market/That’s right, you heard me right, gang/And the housewives, they all remark it/Looks like a dirty marsh-mallow with fangs”. If you buy an LP with titles like “Here Come the Martian Martians” and “I’m a Little Dinosaur”, what do you expect?

The lyrics most likely to make me wince are those that attempt to make a serious social or moral point, and sink into sub-nursery drivel. Transvision Vamp came up with a beauty in “Revolution Baby” – “We’re all on the same side when the mushroom hits the sky”. Really, Wendy? You don’t say! Hard to beat that for reducing the complicated subject of nuclear disarmament to the level of a three year old.

YouTube video

The WORST lyrics I’ve heard in a good while come from a group called The Bolshoi. Their song, “Away”, boldly goes where no song has gone before in terms of sheer badness (and I don’t mean bad as in good). “When you were at school, you were a honey/The boys all loved you, you loved their money” deserves to be nominated for the ‘Worst Couplet of the Year’ award. The author has no hesitation is shoe-horning words into a line or adding exclamations as he sees fit if there are too few syllables. I think it wise to finish by stepping back, leaving a blank line and letting you read an example for yourself – come back, Kylie, all is forgiven!

“Yeah, one day you had a baby,
It was painful, it was worth it.”

The Mail

Another issue, another sack o’ mail. Crank letter of the year to date:

Gustav Gustavsson, Iceland – “We have Trash City in our school library for pubic [!] reading. Last week we had “Man Eaten by Polar Bear” and “Penguins from Outer Space Raped my Daughter” stories in the Daily Nordvik Icicle. Very much we like the back cover. We go everywhere by train now [???]. Trash City would be even better if it wasn’t printed entirely upside-down”

Something causes me to doubt the authenticity of this letter. Perhaps it was the 19p stamp on it, perhaps the Basingstoke post-mark… Onto reality. The new format was welcomed all round and there were plaudits generally for the piece on “Gwendoline” :

  • Glyn Williams, Mickleover – “The most polished and entertaining piece of writing I’ve read in ages.”
  • Ben Gruber, New York – “Gwendoline [is] ‘The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of Yik Yak’ over here”

Figures – we British always seem to end up with duller titles than abroad, e.g. “View to a Kill” became “The Indestructible Iron Man Fights Against the Electronic Gang” by the time it got to Hong Kong. More mixed reactions for ‘Nightmares…’ :

  • BG – “A good takeoff”.
  • Alun Fairburn, Ammanford – “…pretty enjoyable, a great idea”.
  • Richard Owen, Skewen – “Just dreadful, get rid of it quick!”

“Half-Way to Heaven” also got a variety of responses:

  • GW – “…remember how you feel when everyone in the office starts arriving with their packets of holiday photos…”
  • AF – “Your vacation story was well written and a welcome change.”

The opinions on Film Blitz were almost neatly divided down the middle. Some people wanted longer reviews, others liked the short ones. Personally, very few of the films that I see NEED pages of reviews – however, last time I did feel I had to write no more than three lines, which in some cases was just too little. I’ve now loosened the restrictions – where a film deserves more, it’s got it & where three lines are enough (you try writing any more on “The Streetwalker”!), I’ve said no more. Speaking of which :

GW – “The idea of selecting short quotes from letters is interesting, but may in the future stop the development of interesting points of vi..”

That’s quite enough there, Glyn. Since his letter came in at 10 sides of thoroughly enjoyable A4 plus appendices, I sympathise with him. Most other letters, though, are very much a series of short points, which is only to be expected when I ask for people’s opinions on a collection of articles. No-one should refrain from expressing longer viewpoints since if they’re too long for the letters page, I can just as easily strip them out and use ’em as articles. Onto the back-handed compliments section :

Simon Wood, Blewbury – “…pleased to see that you are as opinionated as ever!”

Hmmm. I prefer to think of it as having the courage of my convictions – at least, I’ve got the courage, Steve’s got the convictions [society’s to blame, Steve?]. I’ll forgive him since he enclosed five pages of Nastassja-pics, always a good way to get into my favour. A couple of people still don’t quite seem to have grasped this trash thing QUITE right:

  • Andrew Jones, Huddersfield – “More articles on Trash Music i.e. Stock, Aiken and Waterman.”
  • Claire Blamey, Norwich – “I am a [Dustin] Hoffman fan…”

Oh dear. At this stage I might venture to suggest they are subscribing to the wrong magazine, except that since they represent about 8% of our readership, I don’t want to lose them – I’ll just grit my teeth, smile sweetly and recount the apocryphal tale about Hoffman taking a girl back to his apartment. He suggests putting a film on, she agrees. Turns out, not only does it star Dustin himself, but he insists in fast-forwarding through the scenes he doesn’t appear in. Finally, for those of you who missed out on the free video offer, here’s a selection of comments from those who got the films:

  • GW – [“Virgin Among the Living Dead”] “The end came as a blessed relief. No sex, no blood, no point.
  • Tommy Campbell, Glasgow – [“Queens of Evil”] “Almost managed to stay awake…very dull.”
  • SW – [“Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue”] “…wasn’t the greatest but provided a few laughs, especially the awful accents and flares!”

I DID warn you! Keep them coming, in any case. All letters will be considered as publication material, unless you say otherwise. The more controversial the contents, the better. Send an SAE if you’re in any hurry for a reply, otherwise I tend to wait until you’re getting sent the next issue. And the used stamps on your letters go to buy a guide dog or something, so you can feel morally superior, too!