Reality is the playground of the unimaginative
Home Of Superheroes, the Supernatural, Swords, Sorcery, and Star Stuff

Monday, 31 August 2015

Alice's Rain-Soaked Odyssey...


As usual over the Bank Holiday weekend, Military Odyssey - the multi-period re-enactment show - took place at The Kent Showground, Detling ... and we chose the wettest day of the year to attend.

I think it may have stopped raining for about 20 minutes at one point, but eventually the torrential downpour and decreasing temperature got the better of all of us.

Poor Alice was pretty soaked the moment we arrived and although we went indoors whenever we could, particularly for our lunch break, there was still a fair amount of walking in the rain that needed to be done.

I was lucky as I'd hired a mobility scooter, not that that stopped me getting ridiculously wet.

We did have a great conversation with a man who'd built a life-sized replica of a crashed Fokker triplane (see pictures above) and Rachel, as always, enjoyed looking round the Home Front village. We hadn't seen it for a couple of years and there were a number of new additions.

You can see her pictures over on Facebook here.

Thankfully, although I'm sure visitor numbers were drastically down for a normal day at the show, there were plenty of other dogs for Alice to interact with (even if, for some reason, none of them looked quite as bedraggled as our poor pup).

I think we managed to see most of the static displays and stalls - we weren't exactly having to fight through crowds to see anything we wanted to - but we didn't hang around for the battle re-enactments and ended up heading home far earlier than originally planned.

I'd have loved to have stayed longer and had a more in-depth look around, but the British weather won the day this time.

Getting The Real Vietnam Experience... In A Muddy Field In Kent!
Not A Happy Soldier!

Agent Carter: Valediction


After the slaughter at the movie theatre, Howard Stark returns to New York to explain to the SSR what the chemical weapon is that is now in the hands of Dr Ivchenko and Dottie.

He proposes using himself as bait to lure the villains out of hiding, but the plan backfires when Dottie creates a distraction and Howard is kidnapped.

Stark is then hypnotised, by Ivchenko, into thinking he flying his plane to retrieve the frozen body of Captain America, when in fact he is heading straight for Times Square with a payload of deadly psychoactive gas.

Peggy, Jarvis, Sousa and Thompson race to stop him.

A nicely pulp-tastic episode with weird science (Ivchenko's comic book hypnosis) and technology (Dottie's automatic rifle), Valediction finally gave us the Peggy vs Dottie fight that the back-half of this season has been building up to. And it was as fesity and bloody as we might have hoped for. Even if the resolution was ultimately inconclusive.

While the main plot, re: Howard Stark's stolen 'bad babies', was resolved, Valediction still left plenty of plot threads dangling for the next season.

The whole issue of Leviathan certainly wasn't addressed (I'm pretty sure that name wasn't even mentioned in this episode), Dottie slipped away to kick ass another day, and then there was the delightfully unexpected coda featuring a big name villain from Captain America: The First Avenger (who also has ties to Captain America: The Winter Soldier).

Season two can't come around soon enough. Let's hope, now that Agent Carter has a home on Fox UK, we don't have to wait months and months after it has aired in the States to get see our countrywoman in action again.

My totally unscientific, knee-jerk, Enjoyment Ratings Average scoring system has netted season one of Agent Carter a score of 4.69 out of five, putting it just behind season one of Daredevil, which scored 4.77.

In comparison, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hit 4.295 in season one and 4.114 in season two, which confirms for me that Marvel's televisual outings for their comic book properties work far better in the short-season format, as this requires story focus, tight scripting and the elimination of padding.

And as a reminder of this brilliant series, here's a look back at season one of Agent Carter:

Ares: Our Greatest Adventure...


Torn From The Headlines: "Lumbering Towards You Is A Giant Mouse..."

click to embiggn         Photo Credit: Mental Floss

As shown in the map above, there is a network of tunnels under Disney World in Orlando to help maintain the park's "magic" and not let visitors see the workings "behind the curtain".

Read all about it here, and the evocatively-named secret rooms ranging from the Mouseketeria to the Glow Room and the Character Zoo.

Known as utilidors, there are 392,040 square feet of  tunnels under the Magic Kingdom. These were actually the first level of the park built and are accessible for members of the Disney team via strategically-placed, concealed, staircases around the site.

As gaming fodder - as well the obvious straight Disney-themed dungeoncrawl - this seems like the perfect setting for a post-apocalyptic slice of survival horror, possibly mixed in with a slice of Banksy's latest project, Dismaland, for good measure.

Musical Monday: Feet Up - Chris Hadfield...


Feet Up is the first track released from the forthcoming album Space Sessions: Songs From a Tin Can (pre-order now) by multi-talented astronaut and all-round hero, Chris Hadfield.

CD and 180 Gram Vinyl editions, plus exclusive bundles, are also available to pre-order at Chris's website.

Pre-order the album in any format from either of these outlets and receive downloads of three songs from the album in advance of the October 9 release date. The first of those songs, Feet Up, will be delivered immediately, with two more to follow in September.

Sunday, 30 August 2015

HAWK THE KICKSTARTER HAS BEGUN!!!




Terry Marcel, the writer/director of cult movie Hawk The Slayer has launched a Kickstarter campaign today to raise half-a-million dollars - the final 20 per cent of the funding needed to get the long-awaited sequel, Hawk The Hunter, off the ground.

This new movie, although originated and written by Marcel, will be directed by Keith Claxton, a scriptwriter and director on Channel Five's sword-and-sorcery series Dark Knight. Claxton is also an award-winning writer/director of short films.

Check out the campaign's Kickstarter page for more information about the team behind Hawk The Hunter, as well as the various investment incentives, which include digital downloads and DVDs of finished film, novelisations, T-shirts, scripts, and screen-used coins right up to premier tickets, original artwork, set visits, the chance to be an extra and even to own your very own Mindsword (for a mere $5,000)!

Over 30 years in the making, if the funding is successful, Hawk The Hunter is due to begin shooting later this year in locations in Lithuania and England.


With any luck, as the campaign unfolds we'll get to see more production artwork, possibly a tease of the effects and, maybe even, some casting news.

Although video game company Rebellion (also publishers of 2000AD) is helping out with the special effects, I'm hoping - as has been a trend in some recent big screen franchises - that the effects will be predominantly practical (even if, as was the case in Hawk The Slayer, these come off as a bit cheesy. That was part of the magic of the original). CGI is generally best used for tweaking shots in my opinion.

The crowd-sourcing campaign runs until October 1, with most of the rewards scheduled to ship around April/May next year.

Alice Goes Medieval...


This weekend is England's Medieval Festival at Herstmonceux Castle. We couldn't make it last year as we'd just welcomed Alice into our family and she was too tiny for such excitement, so I was very keen that we attended this year.

For reasons too dull to go into, for the first time we couldn't park in the disabled car park and had to park in the general car park. While this meant seeing the Herstmonceux observatory buildings for the first time, this also meant an awful lot of walking, and a lot of undulating terrain, which resulted in me tiring a lot quicker than usual.

Nevertheless, since we'd last been, the venue had squeezed in some more stages for displays and there were some new events that we hadn't seen before.


As with War & Peace the other week, if you'd asked me before hand if dogs were allowed at the Medieval Festival I'd have told you that I'd never seen one there - but then turning up with Alice you suddenly realise that loads of people bring their canine companions to the show.

Alice had a great time, plenty of new smells to sniff, a variety of other dogs to meet and near-endless cuddles and affection from strangers entranced by her cuteness. Ever the flirt, she even managed to find a couple of random welcoming laps to sit in while Rachel and I were watching events!

I kept a sneaky eye out for any stalls selling puppy-sized barding - or even costumes - but to no avail.

However we did get to give Alice's new harness a test run and she seems to get on with it okay.

Before the festival, we'd had an appointment at the vets' for Alice's annual health check (she passed with flying colours). We'd pointed out a scab on her neck to the vet, who cleaned it up, and said it might have been aggravated by her collar rubbing on it. So, Rachel invested in a new day-glo harness for our pup.

Will we come back to the Medieval Festival next year? I'm not sure. Hever Castle - which is on our doorstep - has a Tudor-themed event over the bank holiday weekend, along with its usual August weekend jousting, so if they stick to same calendar next year I suspect I might want to check that out... just to mix things up a bit.

The Pentacle Drummers

Star Wars: 10 Best Vehicles...

Heroes Gettin' All Aquiver...


Saturday, 29 August 2015

Pulp Picture Of The Week: A Prize Of Arms (1962)


This little-known, Sixties' British crime thriller revolves around a trio of villains trying to rob the payroll of an army base as it prepares troops to ship out for the Suez Crisis.

The great Stanley Baker is Turpin, an ex-army man, who has paired up with a former comrade, Swavek (Helmut Schmid), and a (possibly alcoholic) pyromaniac called Fenner (Tom Bell) to break into the army base, disguised as soldiers, and make off with the cash.

Given that "villains rob place, then get away scot-free" is a news report and not a film plot, we know that things will go wrong at some stage and a great deal of the tension in the film comes from trying to second guess when this tipping point will come.

Unlike modern movies, the protagonists - Turpin and his pals - are pure criminals, they're not Robin Hoods or motivated by a necessity to finance a sick child's hospital bills, they are in this for one thing, and one thing alone: hard cash.

In fact, don't look for much character depth at all. This is all about the crime, and our sole reason for having any empathy with the protagonists is the charisma of Stanley Baker.

While the action is primarily shown from the crooks' point of view, assorted military police, officers and investigators are eventually on their case, but for the longest time it looks as though the villains are going to get away with it.

Despite some road-bumps along the way, Turpin's plan appears to covered most eventualities, but, of course, there is one factor he hasn't taken into account.

Directed by Cliff Owen, the plot of the 100-minute movie unfolds over a 24-hour period, kicking off in media res as the crooks make final preparations the night before their raid, then the next day when they infiltrate the army base and set wheels in motion for their caper.

As well as its incredibly tense plot, A Prize Or Arms is notable for the cameo appearances of numerous soon-to-be-famous actors, such as Rodney Bewes, Geoffrey Palmer, Michael Ripper, and Fulton Mackay.

Torn From The Headlines: What If The Dinosaurs Hadn't Died Out?


Paleontologist Dale Russell believes that, had they been given the chance to continue evolving, dinosaurs might have eventually evolved into humanoid-like "dinosauroids".

Read about it here, then start figuring out how to stat up these characters for your Hollow Earth, lost world, Doctor Who etc games.

HAWK THE ARTIST!!!


Tomorrow sees the long-awaited launch of the Hawk The Hunter Kickstarter to raise the final 20 per cent of the funding needed to create the sequel for cult classic Hawk The Slayer.

The campaign is being fronted by Terry Marcel, the writer/director of the original 1980s film, with support from video game and comic book publishers Rebellion.

The promotional art on this page was created by Chris Payton, Rebellion's head of art.

The Kickstarter fundraiser is due to go live after tomorrow's 1.20pm screening of Hawk The Slayer at the Prince Charles Cinema in London, as part of Film4 FrightFest.

Star Trek Renegades (Pilot Episode)


This is the pilot episode of Star Trek Renegades, an independent, fan-funded, Internet television series, produced by Sky Conway.
When a seemingly unstoppable new enemy threatens the very existence of the Earth, Admiral Pavel Chekov (Walter Koenig) is forced to work outside the boundaries of Starfleet’s rules to combat this deadly new foe.

When planet after planet winks out of existence, yet Starfleet refuses to act, Chekov turns to Commander Tuvok (Tim Russ, who also directs), the new head of Starfleet’s covert operations division, Section 31. Together, they assemble a new elite strike-force, consisting of rogues, outcasts and criminals, led by the fearless yet haunted Lexxa Singh (Adrienne Wilkinson).

The Renegades’ mission is simple: take on an army and stop their leader, Borrada (Bruce Young), from destroying the Earth. Outnumbered and outgunned, the ragtag crew is in an adrenaline-pumping race against time and space. But they soon find their foes are the least of their concerns: the real trouble may be coming from within!
Star Trek: Renegades stars Walter Koenig (reprising his role as Admiral Chekov), Adrienne Wilkinson, Sean Young, Manu Intiraymi, Gary Graham, Robert Picardo, Corin Nemec, Bruce Young, Tim Russ, Chasty Ballesteros, Edward Furlong, Courtney Peldon, Larissa Gomes, Richard Herd and Herbert Jefferson Jr., and introducing Crystal Conway.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Fleamarket Friday: The Doctor Who RPG Has Regenerated...


Cubicle 7's out-of-print Doctor Who roleplaying game has been rebranded and updated and is up for pre-order with a publication date of later this year or early 2016.

Formerly Doctor Who: Adventures In Time And Space and now simply the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game, the core rules have been tweaked to focus on the current incarnation of The Doctor (Doctor number 12 aka Peter Capaldi), but remains, otherwise, the same game.


According to Cubicle 7:
This new edition of the rulebook, fully updated with imagery from the Twelfth Doctor’s adventures, presents all the rules and background you need to have your own adventures in time and space in a single volume, including:
  • A complete set of rules for playing the game.
  • Rules for creating your own characters, gadgets and more.
  • A guide to creating your own adventures, as well as two new adventures.
  • Ready-made character sheets for the Twelfth Doctor and his companions, including Clara Oswald, Danny Pink, Madame Vastra, Jenny and Strax.
  • Rules and background for some of the Doctor’s most infamous enemies – including Missy!
  • All-new imagery from the Twelfth Doctor's adventures.
  • And much more besides!
The 256-page, full colour, hardback book is up for pre-order from the publishers, priced £33.99 (plus shipping). This includes a complimentary PDF of the book.

The PDF, on its own, is already available from DriveThruRPG.

Earlier this week,Cubicle 7 posted an interesting piece on "Why you should be playing the Doctor Who Roleplaying Game right now", which is worth a read.

Fleamarket Friday: Mars McCoy Takes To The Air...


Following the recent announcement of pulp publisher Airship 27's team-up with audiobook experts Radio Archives, the adventures of Mars McCoy Space Ranger have been named as the first pair of books to receive an audio make-over.

Both will be read by voice actor Patrick Nolan and are already in production.

Created as homage to classic space pulp heroes such as Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, the Mars McCoy stories are described as "fast paced, action heavy adventures as Captain McCoy and his beautiful android Lt. Betty-12 travel the galaxies aboard their fighter cruiser, the Black Bird Five, bringing law and order to the spaceways".

Volume one contains stories by John Bear Ross, Greg Gick and Andrew Salmon, with volume two featuring two novella tales; one by James Palmer and one by Van Allen Plexico.

Fear Will Eat You Alive...

Fleamaket Friday: Invest In Ubiquitous London Property...


Funded in just over two-and-a-half-hours, Globetrotters' Guide To London is the latest Kickstarter from Triple Ace Games for its Victorian steampunk adventure games Leagues Of Adventure and Leagues of Gothic Horror.

As these RPGs are powered by the Ubiquity system, much of the material contained within the 78-page softback bookwill also be useful for games of Space: 1889, Hollow Earth Expedition and other settings that use the same rules engine.

I told you last Friday what could be found between the covers of Globetrotters' Guide To London, but you need to check out the campaign's Kickstarter page to get the full background on the book, investment incentives and stretch goals.

Already, because the campaign has hit its target, everyone who pitches in also gets a 99-page PDF character pack. This contains 85 pregenerated characters (but no art), each filling one page (a column of stats and a column of background), and 14 pages of henchmen.

A short campaign, this Kickstarter is only running until September 7, so jump aboard sharpish to make sure you don't miss out.

Fleamarket Friday: New Abney Park Album In November...


Wasteland, the upcoming album from Abney Park, includes the tracks: The Clone Factories (heard in this video); Wasteland Warrior; Out Of Darkness; Your Walls; Witch Hunt; Hired Gun, The Mercenary Song; Minnie The Moocher (originally by Cab Calloway); and more.

Publicity material for the album says: "This musical departure marks a return to some of the darker sounds of their early years, as well as great steampunk and the electro swing styles from their later works".

August's Pictoral Phantasamagoria...

Thursday, 27 August 2015

HAWK THE INTERVIEWEE!!! (part one)



Rebellion's Rob Power talks to Hawk the Slayer director Terry Marcel on his upcoming Kickstarter campaign for the sequel, Hawk The Hunter, and Rebellion's involvement with the project.

The second part of this interview is expected to be released next week, once the Kickstarter is under way.

Netflix Film Of The Week: Life After Beth (2014)


Having run out (for the time being) of episodes of Parks & Recreation to watch on Amazon Streaming, I had to get my Aubrey Plaza fix from somewhere and so turned to Netflix for her 2014 "rom-com" Life After Beth.

The first thing you should know about this film is that, regardless of what the publicity material says or the presence of a number of comedy actors in the cast, Life After Beth is not a comedy.

Yes, it has moments of levity, but overall it's a dark, quirky, psychological horror (as well as one big metaphor for coping with the end of a romantic relationship), heavy on the character material, light on laughs.

After the death of his girlfriend Beth, Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan aka Harry Osborn from The Amazing Spider-Man 2) is, naturally, heartbroken but finds solace in the continued support of Beth's parents - Maury (John C. Reilly) and Geenie (Molly Shannon) Slocum.

However, suddenly, they want nothing to do with him, won't take his calls or answer their door. Distressed, Zach sneaks round to their house... and sees Beth (Parks & Recreation's awesome Aubrey Plaza), apparently alive and well.

Although her memory is slightly scrambled (she doesn't remember dying for one thing), Beth appears fine, but while her parents allow her and Zach to rekindle their relationship, they refuse to let Beth go outside (worried that people will see her).

Eventually, of course, the young lovers decide to break curfew and head to the beach, but once there Beth starts acting even weirder, her mood swings and memory lapses become more violent and she ends up destroying a lifeguard hut!

And that's just the beginning of the oddness, as Zach starts to realise other people, long thought dead, are reappearing.

The situation rapidly spirals out of control as it becomes clear that a full-blown zombie apocalypse has broken out...

No reason is explicitly given for Beth's resurrection, although there is a running suggestion that her father has been cursed by their Haitian housekeeper for certain improprieties. This idea gels well with the resolution of the zombie issue as well.

Life After Beth is an odd fish, with some moments evocative of fare as diverse as The Leftovers and Carnival of Souls, as the occasional dreamlike moment makes you question the truth of what you are seeing.

Ultimately, it's a clever little piece about relationships and 'moving on' with as little emotional baggage as possible.

And, as well as a cameo by Parks & Recreation's Jim O'Heir as Chip the Mailman, there's a nice in-joke when Beth is on the phone supposedly talking to someone called "Andy" who 'really understands her'.

Throwback Thursday: "Don't Tell Him, Pike!"

Graduation Day (left to right): Paul, JJ, Pricey, Me and Rose

The recent release of the trailer for the remake of Dad's Army got me thinking about my graduation day. 'Whaaaa?' sez you. Let me explain (after the trailer).


Our graduation ceremony took place in November 1998, in the vast arena of Bournemouth International Centre.

After receiving my degree certificate from Formula One commentator Murray Walker, I was milling around in the venue foyer when I was approached by a nice woman who explained that, due to the size of the venue, she and her husband had accidentally taken pictures of me going up on stage before realising I wasn't their son!

She said if the pictures turned out okay did I think my parents would like copies? Naturally, I said yes, although my parents were taking snaps, it never hurt to get extras I reasoned.

The lady and I were chatting while she took note of my parents' address to mail the pictures to (yes, folks, this was still the age of snail mail - especially for sending photographs) and she asked what course I had taken.

When I said Scriptwriting for Film and Television, she replied with words to the effect of: "Oh, my husband's an actor. You may have heard of him. Ian Lavender."

Mind. Blown.

I was talking to the wife of Private Frank Pike!

Naturally my dad, a lifelong devout Dad's Army fan, was suitably impressed when I told him later.

I remember the pictures turned up at my parents' house and are, no doubt, neatly stored away in the many, many photo albums Rachel and I inherited from them when they died.

A larger selection of the merry reprobates on my Scriptwriting For Film & TV course

Torn From The Headlines: Nazi Gold Train...


Have a pair of 'treasure hunters' in Poland found a long-lost train laden with Nazi gold, hidden in an abandoned tunnel?

Who knows?

But it makes a great launchpad for gaming ideas: both period pulp pieces about the train in its heyday and contemporary adventure yarns about racing to retrieve the hoard before it falls into the hands of evil corporations, occult groups or neo-nazi terrorsists.

You can read about this story, courtesy of the BBC, here while this BBC site looks at the myths surrounding the supposed treasure train.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

HAWK THE KICKSTARTER TAKES FLIGHT ON SUNDAY!!!


Fans of cult movie Hawk the Slayer will be offered the chance to appear as extras in the long-awaited sequel, Hawk the Hunter, once fundraising begins on Sunday.

Writer/director Terry Marcel, iconic rock musician Rick Wakeman and premier games and comic book publishing company Rebellion have joined forces for a crowdfunding campaign to finance the sequel.

Launching the Kickstarter on August 30, at a screening of Hawk the Slayer as part of London’s FrightFest Film Festival, Marcel will call on fans to help raise the final 20 per cent of the budget to make the sequel.

Hawk the Slayer will then be screened at the DragonCon sci-fi convention in Atlanta, GA and the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Denver, Colorado over Labor Day weekend.

In return for their financial pledges, supporters of the campaign will have the opportunity to appear as extras in the upcoming movie or pick up other exclusive Hawk the Hunter rewards, such as a limited number of Mindsword replicas.

Ray Charleson as fan-favourite Crow in the original movie

Terry Marcel, the writer/director of Hawk the Slayer, has brought back American actor Ray Charleson, who played Crow the elf in the first movie, as an ‘ancient tree elf’ in Hawk the Hunter.

Rick Wakeman, a lover of the original movie and its distinctive soundtrack, is to produce the sequel’s film score from his Norfolk studio.

Rick Wakeman & Terry Marcel

Rebellion CEO Jason Kingsley, himself a self-confessed “massive Hawk fan”, is creating the film’s CGI as well as investing in the production. There is also a Hawk game and comic book in the works.

London-based independent film and TV production company Westwood Productions Limited (WPL) has partnered with Baltic Films to co-produce Hawk the Hunter.

The movie will be shot at locations in Lithuania and England.

Content Media Corp is attached as Hawk the Hunter’s sales agents.

The original Hawk the Slayer was a low budget British independent movie, released by Lou Grade’s ITC in 1980, which gained cult status over the ensuing years. It starred Jack Palance (Shane) and John Terry (Lost), alongside an impressive who’s who of British actors, including Bernard Bresslaw, Roy Kinnear, Warren Clarke, Patricia Quinn, and Annette Crosbie.

The movie is still held in high esteem by many people within the film and music industry, such as Simon Pegg and Bill Bailey (Spaced), Sean Maguire (actor), and Gary Whitta (screen writer, Book of Eli). 
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