A Symphony of Halloween Horror Fest

King Kong (1933)

Halloween is, for me, all about monster movies.  You can keep the gore-fests, jumpy scares and cheep thrills – monsters are where it’s at.  And you don’t get a better creature feature than King Kong.

Released way back in 1933, this monochrome marvel is still pure excellence.

Daring filmmaker Carl Denham (Robert Armstrong) leads a crew to a long lost island in the middle of nowhere.  There, leading lady Ann Darrow (the legendary Fay Wray) is kidnapped by locals as an offering to their god, Kong.  Kong turns out to be a giant ape, who goes gooey-eyed for the blonde bombshell and fights off numerous prehistoric rivals to keep her safe.

The crew attempt a rescue, but only Jack Driscoll (Bruce Cabot) survives to rescue his sweetheart from her captor.  Denham decides that Kong should be central to his new venture; hatching a plan to capture the ape and take him back to civilisation as his star attraction.

It’s incredible that this film isn’t far off being a century old.  King Kong has a fantastic story and superb special effects that still hold up to this day.  It’s full on entertainment – and one of my favourite films of all time.

But is King Kong horror?  Well, Kong features in my old Horror Top Trumps set – so that qualifies as a definite YES.

10/10

Nosferatu (1922)

More black and white thrills next, with another magnificent movie that really should not be missed.  F W Murnau’s Nosferatu is a chilling piece of early horror cinema, even after all these years.

The film follows the plot of the book Dracula, with a few alterations to (unsuccessfully) avoid claims of plagiarism.  Our hero, Jonathan Harker (or whatever name is used in whichever version you see) is sent to deal with some real estate for the mysterious Count Orlok.  The Count, however, is a vampire – who traps the hero in his castle and makes his way back to Harker’s home town, bringing death with him.

In 1922, the art and language of cinema was still being developed, leading to some strange visuals this movie – such as a ghostly horse and carriage speeding along in a bizarre manner.  Yet the final film is filled with startling, shadowy imagery that maintains a sense of unease, thanks to some genuinely innovative work.

Murnau manages to create some masterful moments of suspense, and Max Schreck as Orlok – whether rising from his grave, or shadow rising eerily up the staircase (a true iconic moment) – is spellbinding.

An early classic of cinema, Nosferatu helped develop cinematic vampire folklore – and still delivers a sense of dread with its uncanny visuals.

10/10

Sci Fi Weekender 2018 – Part 3

Sci Fi Weekender 23th – 24th March 2018

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

Well here we go, as promised, one more recap from Sci Fi Weekender 2018.  In previous years, my SFW blogs have run to two parts – with some Director’s Cuts (featuring alternate and unused photos) occasionally cropping up too.

This year though, there were so many photos that the only way to get these out (without delaying these things too long) was to create a Part 3.

Please accept my apologies, all those who have waited to see their photos.  Your patience is really appreciated and I’m really sorry you’ve had to wait.

I just hope these pics are OK – remember I’m no professional photographer, it’s all done for fun.  Regardless, the awesome feedback I get from SFW attendees is always great to hear – thanks!

I’ve covered all the antics I can remember from the weekend, so without further ado, lets get on with the pics, shall we?!

Big Trouble in SFW

Awesome Walking Dead cosplay

Wales Comic Con

Wales Comic Con

Saturday 2nd – Sunday 3rd December 2017

Glyndwr University, Wrexham

One more Comic Con for the year, to finish 2017 off in style.  It seems like I’ve done a lot of conventions recently!

I didn’t make it to Wrexham for Wales Comic Con back in April, but I’ve been there previously and it’s always a fun event.  Now expanded to run over two days, this winter edition of the Con was bigger than ever.

Most impressive was the calibre of the guests that appear here.  It’s a far more impressive line up than even the mighty NEC could muster recently.  Wrexham definitely punches above it’s weight in that category.

Being December, the weather was sometimes a challenge.  The Spring gathering has been lucky weather-wise, and the outside expanse has always been a fun place to hang out and take photos, meet people etc.  Cold and rain took more of a toll this time, but didn’t seem to dampen peoples spirits too much.

This event wasn’t without some criticism.  Although we had bought tickets prior, we had to queue (outside, in the rain) for about forty minutes after the doors opened to get in. 

When we did get in, we marched off to the Signing Zone to find the guests from The Walking Dead (our prime reason for being there).  After scouting around the entire area, it turned out that these particular guests were in a different Signing Zone!  Notification of this passed us by completely, if it was available at all.

Despite these organisational issues that we perceived at first, things settled down and this Comic Con turned out to be a great success.

The first hit of the day was the Q&A panel featuring Scott Wilson (Hershel) and Michael Cudlitz (Abraham) from The Walking Dead.  This was really interesting, with some quality questions from the audience.  Both Scott and Michael came across really well, with amusing anecdotes and genuine appreciation for the show and it’s fans.

We could have happily listened to these guys for much longer, but all good things come to an end and this had been unmissable.

It was then time to queue up (again!  Haha) to meet the actors from The Walking Dead.  We’re big fans in our house, in particular Mrs Platinum Al – and she was really keen to meet Michael Cudlitz.

The queue wasn’t too long or arduous, and we got to meet Mr Cudlitz and get a selfie and autographed photo.  He was very cool and gracious; he joked with fans and was very friendly.  Despite only having a short time to meet people, Michael did an excellent job of remembering names and making everyone feel very welcome.

Superb stuff, and Mrs Platinum Al’s Christmas present was now in the bag!

Talking about acquisitions, Wrexham has upped the ante with the amount of traders selling goodies.  In the past the number of dealers seemed limited (probably due to space), there were far more this time.  Good news in a wallet endangering way.

 

The Prop Knife

Remember those trick knives you used to find in joke shops?  Plastic, with a blade that retracted into the hilt when you “stabbed” something?  We took one as a prop for my daughter, who was dressed as Wednesday Addams.  Turned out to be a cool idea.  Michael Cudlitz, bless him, allowed Eloise to “stab” him in the head, walker killer style, to “stop him coming back”.  From the dead that is, not back to Wales.  Michael played along brilliantly – I didn’t get a photo though, curses!

The trick knife also came in handy for a cool zombie killer pic featuring Mrs Platinum Al (see below).

With tons of guests, Q&As, memorabilia to peruse and other activities, there was plenty to see and do.

Of course there were loads of great Cosplayers at Wales Comic Con too.  I took a few photos, but the usual issues of time and the weather meant I didn’t get too many.  I’ve shared the pics here.  Unfortunately some photos didn’t turn out (as always), hopefully these shots will provide a flavour of the event.

Thanks again to these amazing people, who have created fantastic costumes and let their creativity flow.  Thanks for allowing me to take pictures and more power to you!

If Wales Comic Con keeps developing as it has, then 2018 should be even bigger and better.  The fact that the organisers can entice such amazing guests is fantastic.  Let’s hope the success continues.

The Wales Comic Con website is here.

Halloween Horror Fest – Vampire Hunter

Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter (1974)

I remember being about nine or ten years old, and my Dad telling me he’d stayed up late watching a vampire film the night before.  In it, the vampire hunters buried toads in the ground as a way to detect the undead.  Fast forward to my late teens, and I saw this very scene was part of Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter.  That was pretty exciting, in a very nerdy way!

This film from Hammer studios was something of a departure, as they investigated ways to breathe new life into their usual formula.  Brian Clemens of television’s Avengers fame took on writing and directing duties; adding numerous flourishes to refresh the vampire mythology. Kronos

Captain Kronos (Horst Janson) is the hero of the piece, roaming Europe with his companion Professor Grost (John Cater) and beautiful Carla (Caroline Munro) to rid the land of the undead.  They receive a call for help from old friend Dr Marcus (John Carson), whose village is plagued by a strange form of vampirism.  There follows a hybrid of classic Gothic Hammer horror and swashbuckling adventure, that is full to the brim with novel ideas and variations on traditional vampire folklore.

Originally planned as the first in a series, unfortunately this was not to be.  Changing tastes in horror films led to a decline in the traditional Hammer approach; the studios waning success meant that Kronos was a one-off.  It’s a great shame, as the new approach really pays off.  It’s almost a prototype for Blade (or even the disastrous Van Helsing).

One of my favourite Hammer films, Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter has everything you could want.  The level of detail with regard to vampire lore and the new twist on the familiar are just some of the films strengths.  This film is a true classic and should be enjoyed by all!

Furthermore, I usually hate sequels and remakes – but Captain Kronos would be a great franchise to rise from the dead.  Apparently Tarantino is a fan.  Now that would be interesting…

10/10

Did I mention that the stunning Caroline Munro appears in this film?  Here’s some proof…

Sci-Fi Weekender part 1

Sci-Fi Weekender 28th – 30th March 2014

Hafan Y Mor Holiday Park, Pwllheli

I’ve been to a few all day events, such as Memorabilia at Birmingham NEC , but nothing like this.  The Sci-Fi Weekender is basically a convention over several days, held at a holiday park in North Wales.  There are guest speakers, merchandise, film showings and entertainment – all in one location.

My friend Glyn had won tickets for the event, but sadly was unable to go.  So he donated the tickets – and accommodation – to yours truly.  A total gent.  My comrades Adam, Greeny, and Kurt – plus Platinum Al – thus made the trip to check out what was going on.

This is part one of the adventure.

Our party left late on the Friday, due to work commitments.  With additional traffic problems on the A Double 5, when we arrived it was already dark.  No matter – the four of us found our chalet, dumped the luggage and went exploring.

Festivities were already well under way.  There was plenty of beer available, and many merry (though friendly) sci-fi types in various states of refreshment.  Several were dressed as characters from film, TV, books and comics; presenting a fantastic menagerie of fantasy figures.

Entertainment on the first night began for me with Professor Elemental.  The Professor is a purveyor of fine steampunk rap, apparently known as “chap-hop”.  Wearing pith helmet and rapping about tea and the British Empire, I found his act captivating and funny in equal measure.  Weaving funky beats out of old brass band music is no mean feat but the Prof raised the roof.  Catch him if you can, I promise a night you won’t forget!

Next up were Darth Elvis and the Imperials.  Yes, a Star Wars themed Elvis tribute act.  What more could anyone want?  Sheer magic.  Their songs consisted of Star Wars re-workings of Elvis hits, plus a groovy rendition of that Rebo Band classic, Lapti Nek.  Now there’s a song I never thought I’d ever hear played live.  The spectacle of numerous Star Wars characters rocking out together on stage was something to behold.  This band should be intergalactic!

That was about it for us, as we headed off to get some rest for Day 2.  Attica Rage played us out; would’ve loved to stay but we were wrecked.

_MG_2926

Gordons Alive!

You’ll see many pictures here of those who attended, wearing all sorts of wonderful costumes.  The hard work and imagination that went into these outfits is really exceptional. Plus, everyone was really happy to have their photo taken; there was a great fun atmosphere at the event. I’ll post more photos in the next instalment.  Please remember however – I am not a professional photographer!  The lighting was not always very good and everything was always a bit rushed….

Part 2 soon!

Visit the Sci-Fi Weekender website here.

Questions #8: Christmas Films

What could be better than being snuggled up at home in front of the fire, beverage in hand, watching crap on TV?  It’s part of what Christmas is all about.  The television specials, the films, we’re subjected to both the classic and the drastic each year.

So I wanted to know what everyone’s favourite Christmas movie is.  The rules:

  • Your film of choice must have been on television (terrestrial or satellite)
  • It has to be Christmas set or themed.  You can’t pick, for example, Zulu, just because it’s on every year or because you like to watch it every Christmas.  Die Hard, on the other hand, would qualify, as it’s set at Christmas.

Q: What’s your favourite Christmas film?

Jess: Elf

Ash: Elf

Lynne: Elf

Tom: Home Alone

Matt: Home Alone

Mike R: Home Alone

Jayne: Elf

Mike W: National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Alix: Home Alone 2

Stu: Arthur Christmas

Jade: Elf

Michelle: Home Alone

Jamie: Jingle All the Way

Terry: Home Alone

Sam: Lethal Weapon

David R: Jingle All the Way

Sue R: Miracle on 34th Street

Nathan: Miracle on 34th Street

Ben G: Muppets Christmas Carol

Sarah: Elf

Jack: Home Alone 2

Me: It’s a Wonderful Life

There you have it:Elf just wins (because I counted Home Alone 2 as a separate film, not additional votes for the first film).

I think Elf is a worthy winner, it just seems more “Christmassy” than Home Alone.  It’s got Elves and Santa in it, after all.

If you’d like to let me know your favourite Christmas film, leave a comment.  Disagree with the choices or rules above?  Likewise.