The 1980 incarnation of the spectacular chiller thriller The Changeling was released on Blu-ray on 20 August this year and it’s lost none of it’s appealing jump-a-minute drama – in fact it’s even more horror-tastic than I remember.
It’s a movie that has been described by King of horror, Stephen King as a film that has scared him personally “A child’s ball bouncing down a flight of stairs was enough to scare the daylights out of me” quotes King, and I have to agree with him. The subtlety of suggestion is one of the film’s many strengths.
The story follows central character, John Russell (George C. Scott) as he starts a new life in the wake of the tragic death of his wife and daughter in a car crash.
To choose the top five scariest moments to get into the Halloween ‘spirit’ is easy! There are five stand out scenes that have me racing for the back of the sofa, so without further ado:
The apparition of a boy in the bath tub – I find it horrific on every level. From the way the scene is shot to the implications, it sets the tone.
The voice of the spirit (Joseph Carmichael) heard over audio during a séance is psychologically disturbing. It’s quite clear and that makes it all the more effective!
When Claire Norman from the historical society is chased down the stairs by a wheelchair, the horror ups its game again, and this is towards the climax of the film too. Given the year of the movie’s production it feels all the scarier in the first incarnation too.
To end a film on the note of a lullaby from a music box, given that the storyline revolves around the murder of a six year old boy, absolutely messes with my mind! It’s actually one of the most chilling scenes of the movie as it’s not entirely overt and extremely suggestive.
For the full review of the film, check this out from my viewing this summer: The Changeling
As a newly converted Opera fan, The Music of Silence was of particular interest to me, especially as it charts the story of internationally renowned tenor, Andrea Bocelli. His spectacular vocals can be heard providing the soundtrack to this life affirming biopic which promises to leave the viewer feeling that the sky’s the limit. You don’t have to be a classical music fan to find the heart of this story to be a touching and important message.
Toby Sebastian (well known for his role in Game of Thrones) plays Andrea and he’s glorious, such perceptive casting and it’s easy to forget that he’s not personally singing. We learn that Andrea was born Amos Bardi, he was almost completely blind from birth. However, it’s while he’s away at a ‘school’ for the visually impaired that he loses his sight entirely following a tragic accident. It’s such a heart wrenching moment and yet with prior knowledge that he has carved such a fantastically successful career as a tenor, one feels quite a short-lived fear for his younger self, that’s the rub with already knowing the end I suppose. Although, as a fan of biographies, I was fascinated by the transitions and challenges he faced to live his dream of being a serious Opera singer.
It’s beautifully directed by Michael Radford and the locations used to punctuate the story are quite breath-taking and extremely atmospheric. The use of Bocelli’s voice is the icing on the cake as we learn that the journey this extraordinarily talented man has travelled has culminated in determination and a Maestro (played by Antonio Banderas) with a similar goal. What a stunning relationship that is to behold!
Give this a try because you’ll be surprisingly drawn into and engaged by the life of a living legend.
Xtro, the 1982 cult classic has been released on Blu-ray in time for Halloween and it is one of the most truly gruesome movies of its time in my opinion! Directed by Harry BromleyDavenport, it’s a gory hybrid of sci-fi and horror not for the faint hearted! It starts with an alien abduction – a father called Sam (Philip Sayer) being the target and finishes in the most twistedly disturbed and horrific way possible.
First released in the UK in December 1982 (an unlikely festive treat, it must be said!) it was met with mostly negative reviews and it’s easy to see why, however for the hardened horror fan it’s a must-watch. Finding five of the top scariest moments was no mean feat, but here they are:
The first jump-inducing moment that gave an indication of the scenes that might follow is when two short-lived characters, Ben and Jane are killed by a half-human half-alien creature. The creature itself isn’t a pretty sight but the murders are indicative of the running theme!
A Pregnant Pause
The hybrid creature impregnates a woman – that’s scary enough, however when the unlucky victim regain consciousness and the fetus grows at a ridiculously fast rate (no 9 month gestation period here!) and she gives birth to a fully grown human. He bursts through her dress and there are a number of shots that don’t shy away from how gruesome this very messed up scenario is. Of course she dies – but when Sam (who was given up for lost years ago after the mysterious light took him away) appears as the ‘new-born’ it’s clear there are more sinister turns to come.
Who wants eggs for breakfast?
Sam’s son Tony is on his radar to track down, and his wife, Rachel (she has a new fellar in tow, called Joe). Once a seemingly amnesia-riddled Sam moves in with them, he displays strange behaviour which makes for disturbing viewing – eating the eggs of his son’s pet snake and drinking his son’s blood. As I say – not for the faint hearted!
This isn’t child’s play…
A human-sized toy soldier used by Tony to kill the annoying neighbour, a bit extreme? Oh yes! However she killed his pet snake and he’s discovered he has certain powers! His use of powers resulted in something reminiscent of IT for me… shudder!
To be continued!
The scene that had me hiding behind the sofa – Sam rekindling his romance with Rachel and making love to her. It was never going to end well, and his decomposing skin was also somewhat of a turn off for his unsuspecting wife! So the cycle of half-human half-alien life continues…
Make sure you nab a copy of Xtro on Blu-ray… it’s worth it for the ‘xtra’ Xtro features!
Duffy and Chuffy fans who tune in regularly to the BBC One drama, Casualty will be in for a few surprises. The popular Nurse, who’s already in the throes of dealing with her diagnosis of Clinical Depression and Anxiety, is set to behave uncharacteristically and become a worry to her husband, Charlie (Derek Thompson) for more reason than one.
Entertainment Views caught up with actress Cathy Shipton who plays the troubled Nurse.
Thanks for talking to Entertainment Views, Cathy – we’ve seen Duffy diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Anxiety, which she hasn’t revealed to Charlie yet. What are you able to tell us about the latest storyline?
You’ll have just seen the episode with the CQC inspection where Duffy was called in by Charlie even though she’d just done a twilight shift. Charlie’s been working days while Duffy’s working nights so they’re on parallel lines and not communicating very well. During Duffy’s interview with the CQC Inspector you might have noticed she’s a bit jaded in her response, she’s knackered though and almost pulled a 24 hour shift as well as al the while losing confidence in her abilities.
The miscommunication between Duffy and Charlie almost led her to make a fatal error on that extra shift…
Yes, but did she mishear Charlie’s instructions because of her anxiety which has made her slightly unfocused?
So her way of dealing with the altercation with Charlie was to call Bill!
She calls Bill and he meets her at the pub. What you’ll see next at the start of the subsequent episode is Bill and Duffy in a hotel room at a Boutique Hotel! The room is littered with all their clothes, Duffy wakes up not knowing where she is and Bill walks out of the bathroom in a robe!
Is this the beginning of the end for Duffy and Charlie?
Duffy tells Bill to get out and is clearly angry that it has happened. She’s trying to get away and ends up called back to settle the invoice just as a guy runs out to alert them to the fact his girlfriend’s been in the hotel swimming pool and can’t breathe.
And of course, Duffy is a Nurse….!
Yes, so Duffy goes to attend to the hotel guest and upon calling 999, she’s met by Ian and Ruby who are questioning as to why she’s at the hotel. Duffy says she’s been attending a conference there but she cant look either of them in the eye.
Will she tell Charlie the truth?
Duffy’s been AWOL over night so Charlie’s been worried about her and wants to know where she’s been. She tells him she had to clear her head and needed space and admits that she spent the night in a hotel. He’s trying to make it up to her by suggesting they do things together, like swimming at the hotel she’s just spent the night at. Duffy is desperate for him not to be nice to her though!
So it hasn’t taken long for Duffy and Charlie’s marriage to hot the rocks, but is Duffy’s behaviour a ‘side-effect’ of her state of mind? We’ll have to wait and see! Thanks as always to Cathy for a fantastic interview, looking forward to seeing where this storyline will take the character.
Halloween is creeping around the corner, so what better excuse do you need than to turn the lights off, light the pumpkins and get ready for a fright in front of a classic horror movie? The Amityville Horror is one of those classics, it’s spawned many sequels and spin-offs and I always feel there’s a part of this film’s content and format in every good scary movie.
With a first class cast including James Brolin, it’s a must-see and should have a place on everyone’s Halloween hit list.
Synopsis: When George and Kathy Lutz and their children move to Amityville Long Island they believe they have found the perfect family home. But the house has a shocking history and within its walls a demonic presence lies in wait that will turn the Lutz’s lives into a living nightmare.
Sounds like a scare-fest? Here are my top five scariest moments in The Amityville Horror…
The first alert for me that this is going to be a frightening ride is when the babysitter (Amy Wright) is locked in the bedroom closet and it seems like nobody has done it, it’s just ‘happened’. She’s supposed to be taking care of the Kathy’s (Margot Kidder) daughter Amy (Natasha Ryan) and I spent the whole fall-out of that scenario waiting for something to happen to Amy.
Amy’s pretend friend Jody gave me the chills, the supposed nature of the imaginary buddy is sinister in the extreme. Jody’s introduction is one of the key points of the film for me.
Red eyes outside Amy’s bedroom! Kathy spots them and they are enough to make any horror aficionado jump!
Kathy’s nightmares about the details of the killings that took place take in the house they’re living on take the scare-factor to another level. It’s clever because it’s gritty stuff, yet engaging on some level too. Although at that point I’d be running for the hills.
The music has to be one of the vital tone setters and ‘game changers’ for me, the accompaniment to the paranormal activity is the epitome of evil. One of the best horror soundtracks. Lalo Schifrin composed for the film and there’s an interview with him on the new Blu-ray edition of the movie.
Do you want to add The Amityville Horror to your Halloween horror must-watch list? Grab a copy on Blu-ray:
A movie which conveys so many aspects of life as well as a myriad of emotions all in one fairly simple, straight forward storyline. Michael Radford’s film, first released in 1994. With a glorious Italian setting for company, there couldn’t be a more picturesque backdrop for such a romantically driven cinematic piece. It’s easy to see why this is an award-winning film, the intricacy of every scene is exceptional.
We watch the story unfold through the eyes of fisherman, Mario Ruoppolo (Massimo Troisi) who has instantly become ‘obsessed’ with a well-known poet, Pablo Neruda (Philippe Noiret). Pablo has moved to the island Mario inhabits (which is situated just off the coast of Naples) under exile. An unlikely friendship develops between the pair, with Mario taking a job as postman so that he can deliver letters to the man who has such a way with words and indeed, the ladies! Mario has his eye on Beatrice Russo (Maria Grazia Cucinotta) so he’s seeking Pablo’s help to turn her head.
There’s gentle humour combined with a real passion running through the thread of the piece and the chemistry between Troisi and Noiret adds an extra dimension to the idyllic and believable tale. While Maria Grazia Cucinotta epitomises elegance and grace. It’s easy to see why Mario wants to woo her, it’s only lack of education standing in his way and smothering his confidence.
Watching the restored version certainly enhances the viewing experience, as would be expected and with such spectacular views to soak up, it’s certainly worth watching Il Postino on either Blu-ray or DVD in the duel edition which has just been released. Click the image below to get your copy:
A new BBC Four crime drama from Australia, Mystery Road is worth a watch if you enjoy this particular genre and fancy a fresh take on your standard whodunit.
From the first episode the scene is set, and the location sets the tone of the drama, the team behind the show have certainly made the most of what Western Australia has to offer and it makes for some superb shots. The areas of Aboriginal land which were also used and added to the atmospheric approach which provided a very real overall feel to the television series.
The central character of Detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pederson) came across as somewhat of an introvert in the loosest sense, my initial impression of him was that of arrogance and nonchalance – certainly not an instantly likeable individual. However, as he gets to work on the task in hand, investigating the disappearance of two farmhands (a backpacker and a footballer), it’s clear he’s the right man for the job. Thorough in the extreme and eventually works well with the local copper he’s paired with, Emma James (Judy Davis).
The six episodes, which were originally shown over the summer on the ABC network before their recent broadcast on BBC Four, culminate in a story within a story as the crime that is under investigation unravels another story. There is more to the community than meets the eye and it’s sure to turn you into an armchair detective.
The strong points of this drama are most definitely the solid characters, especially in the wider community, who each has their skeletons and whom it’s easy to care about. I also think that Judy Davis is a superb choice for the role of Emma James – a determined performance, quite fascinating characterisation too. Direction from Rachel Perkins is exceptional, she knows how to tell a story! I’m on the fence about Jay Swan, as the main man I wasn’t as inspired by him as I have been by previous detectives in other dramas. However, he’s an interesting person and engaging, there’s no denying that Aaron Pederson has captured the character well. He’s not stereotypical and that’s refreshing.
Mystery Road is worth a watch, it’s a no holds barred, rough and ready piece of drama and there are a few edge of your seat moments too.
The good news is that you can own Mystery Road on DVD! Click the image below to get your hands on a copy:
Actress Su Pollard has long been a favourite performer of mine, both on screen and in her various stage roles. As a pantomime villain she’s second to none so I was delighted to hear she was going to play the Wicked Queen in Malvern Theatres’ pantomime this year, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Here, Su tells me why she thinks that pantomime remains a popular tradition at Christmas and we chat about her appearance in the ITV reality television programme ‘Last Laugh In Vegas‘.
Thank you for talking to Entertainment Views, Su – what do you love about pantomime?
I like panto because it’s a real tradition and I believe that traditional theatre should keep going as long as possible. In the same way that people love Shakespeare, so many people love panto. You’re never too old to get into the spirit of it all. I like it when the kids are screaming and that they’re allowed to be noisy, in other instances they’d be expected to be on their best behaviour. If I don’t make at least one child cry then I think I’ve failed in my job! I love it when a child gets carried out, result!
So you enjoy being the baddie then?
Oh I do love playing the baddie and scaring the children, but it’s important that everybody goes home happy and feels they’ve had value for money.
Do you agree that being able to introduce children to theatre from a young age is important?
Absolutely, it’s great that parents can bring their children to see a panto and not have to tell them to ssh! Of course you have to be careful that they don’t behave the same way when they’re introduced to Shakespeare and other shows! I was playing the Nurse in Rome and Juliet years ago and I had to say “oh Miss Juliet, Tybalt has died” and someone shouted “hi de hi!” I just had to move swiftly on, I did smile to myself a bit.
Do audiences shout “hi de hi!” to you when you’re on stage in panto?
Yes, all the time, I don’t mind if they do it, I try to say something mean back to them as there’s a part in the show where the audience are encouraged to say it – although I won’t say where in the show it happens.
How do you keep the energy going throughout the pantomime season?
People often ask “how do you do it?” but you pace yourself and you learn how to in rehearsals, because that’s where you learn what you’re supposed to be doing and you know what you’re in for.
Have you got a favourite pantomime?
My favourite pantomime and story is Aladdin but Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is a very close second. There’s no veering off from the story and the pureness of the fairy tale and I love the fact that good triumphs over evil. It teaches people that in life you can never get away with being mean. As is shown with the Wicked Queen as something bad happens to her as a result of her being mean.
Stepping away from pantomime for a moment, I have to mention ITV’s Last Laugh in Vegas, it was an amazing show which I thoroughly enjoyed – what did you get out of the experience?
I loved doing that show because I’ve never wanted to do anything like Big Brother, but at the end of this one, although it was a very similar format with us staying in the house together, we got to do a proper show. To me it was a culmination of what we were going out there to do, we got on really well there was no back-biting, we were going out there to do the best we could and have fun. The unfortunate thing was I left my mobile phone in the path of a sprinkler back at the house – there were sprinklers on all day for the plants – I put it in a rice box for two days but it did no good. Other than that it was enormous fun!
Finally, what would you everybody to encourage them to buy a ticket to see Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Malvern Theatres this season?
It’s VFM which stands for Value for Money! You’ll have a fabulous night out and get exactly what you want, great singing, amazing costumes, plenty to join in with. It’s got something for all the family so buy a ticket and come and see us!
Huge thanks to Su for her time – I can’t wait to see her in action – oh no I can’t!
I’m late to the Doctor Who party, although I did watch the first episode of the brand new series ‘live’! I for one was delighted that a female doctor had been chosen when Capaldi hung up the sonic screwdriver so my eagerness to see Jodie Whittaker in the role was bubbling over. The latest instalment not only did not disappoint, but Whittaker has brought a whole new persona to the doctor which hardly relates to the gender at all. There was also a stellar cast to back up the new recruit and it looks as though some famous faces are set to grace our screens in upcoming episodes too, including Phyllis Logan! Here are a few highlight of an episode jam-packed with goodness.
The arrival of the new doctor was typically chaotic, straight in through the roof of a train without so much as a bye your leave! From the outset Whittaker established the character as whacky, nonchalant, determined and with the kindness streak still flowing freely. I loved the throw away comment of her being an alien, the desire to be a friend to the crowd she found herself mixing with and the clumsiness. One of the defining moments was the costume selection in the charity shop! Chris Chibnall is undoubtedly a fine choice of writer for the series and hand in hand with Whittaker at the helm, there’s a short-hand here that will enhance the much-loved series further.
I’d been dubious about Bradley Walsh taking on the coveted role of the companion, however, as Graham he has already shown what a superb sidekick he could be and the chemistry with Whittaker is already palpable in my humble opinion. Sharon D Marshall as his wife of three years was also a superb addition – it’s a pity it was a short-lived role. However, with Graham’s backstory including Cancer and now the death of his wife, he’s got a lot of personal experiences to bring to the table. Setting his back story up so early on will surely make sense of his reactions as we move through each story. He’s a steady influence too, which never hurts when you’re supporting the doctor!
Yaz (Mandip Gill) and Ryan (Tosin Cole) also seem to be a strong addition, each one having suffered loss and with a desire to embrace whatever life throws. Ryan might be a loose cannon though, which might be frustrating and exciting in equal measure, while I’m anticipating a more sensible approach from Yaz. It’s a team de force so far, with the doctor they make a formidable foursome!
The alien enemy featured in this episode both fascinated and frightened me! It was a sight to behold once the armour was removed and the powers were believable too, as a sci-fi villain he was captivating and almost gained my sympathy once or twice – wholly unexpected.
Chris Chibnall has fast become one of my best-loved drama writers, from back in the days of Sunday evening BBC favourite ‘Born and Bred‘ to the mighty ‘Broadchurch‘, his vision is one I can always get on board with and that I enjoy dissecting. By taking the reigns of Doctor Who he’s adding his uncanny ability to characterise a role fully to an already winning formula. His history with Whittaker from the ‘Broadchurch‘ series makes for the right combination to drive forward the new concept of casting a female in the title role for the very first time. So far so good, too!