Death Star Playset

On a recent Saturday afternoon, I spent some fantastic quality time with my nine year old daughter.  Together we enjoyed playing with Star Wars figures, in this case some of those from my vintage collection.

I also dug out my Death Star playset, and we set about playing scenes from the film.

Or at least I did, she was more interested in making her own stories up.  Why won’t anyone sensibly recreate the movie with me?  Ever?!  Ah well, at least she had fun.

Now, your Highness, we will discuss the location of hidden Rebel Base…

Perhaps she would respond to an alternative form of persuasion?

All of my Star Wars toy collection means a lot to me, but there are a few items I have that I’m really proud of – and stoked to own.  This Death Star Playset is one of the outstanding pieces in the collection.

It’s made from cardboard sections that slot together, creating a number of rooms in which to recreate scenes from the film.  Rescue Princess Leia and escape via the garbage chute?  No problem.  Have Han Solo chase a squad of stormtroopers into a dead end?  Easily accomplished.

It was bought second hand – along with a few other playsets – back in the early 80s, when I was about 10.  Someone advertised them for sale in the local paper, and my Dad bought them for me.  I was very happy as I’d wanted this playset (and the others) for a long time.  I think the lot cost about £20 at the time, which is a pretty good price.

The Death Star on it’s own is probably worth a lot more than that now.  Although it’s not in mint condition – the box is pretty beaten up (always was) and there are a few tears here and there, as you can see in the photos.  In the USA, they had a plastic Death Star, and this Palitoy UK cardboard version is quite sought after over there.

It was fantastic fun, bringing back a lot of great memories.  I enjoyed setting the figures up and recreating little scenes from the film. The cell block fight and the trash compactor were great, in particular.

Recreating mini versions of the film with my figures was always a major goal for me – still is!  With this playset that aim became much more attainable.  When I was a kid, I only had two stormtroopers and one Death Squad Commander, so my Death Star looked a little empty.  Over the years I’ve added a few troops to the collection (very cheaply) and now the whole set up looks much more impressive.

The main reason I’d dug the Death Star out was to place my new “retro style” Grand Moff Tarkin figure in there.  I got him for Christmas along with the Escape the Death Star board game.  Tarkin was never made for the action figure line originally, and he was a glaring absence when trying to recreate the movie.

However, I didn’t realise that my new Tarkin was sealed on a card inside the board game box.  I didn’t dare open him.  So the Death Star is still not quite finished.

Should I have just opened Tarkin anyway?!

Attack of Hallowe’en Horror Fest

Halloween (1978)

This film is perfect for Hallowe’en Horror Fest!  I can’t believe I’ve not reviewed it already.  Here we have the original Halloween from Director John Carpenter, and by golly it’s a beauty.

Michael Myers has been locked up in an institution since the Hallowe’en night when, as young boy, he murdered his sister.  Now Michael has escaped, and returned to his home town to wreak bloody murder on the local teens.  Dr Loomis (Donald Pleasence)  is in pursuit of the deranged killer, but will he be able to stop Myers before Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) is his next victim? Halloween_cover

I’m not really a fan of slasher films, but here we have a film that bucks the trend.  Halloween is tense as hell – Carpenter manages to startle the audience time and again.  The viewer is constantly on edge waiting for the next shock.  This film created many of the cliches we are now familiar with in the slasher genre – so it’s to the credit of the Director that the frights still work.  The leads deliver believable performances, too – making this a classic standing head and shoulders over the imitators.

Carpenter also provides the spooky soundtrack, music which can give you a chill even without the visuals!

Recommended.

10/10

Hallowe’en Horror Fest of Blood

Theatre of Blood (1973)

Vincent Price plays Edward Lionheart, Shakespearean actor presumed dead – now returned to seek revenge on the theatre critics who mocked him.  One by one, the tormentors are killed in gruesome ways based on the bard’s work.  Twisted by Obsession, Lionheart creates elaborate methods to slay the critics in the pursuit of an award he felt was rightly his.  theatre-of-blood-poster

This film features a great performance by Price, not to mention a superb cast of British actors not afraid to embrace the camp yet grisly feel of it all.  We see Arthur Lowe, Michael Hordern, Diana Rigg, Ian Hendry, Jack Hawkins and more.  Oh, and the impossibly pretty Madeline Smith gets some screen time too.

The plot is not the most original of ideas – it’s very similar to The Abominable Dr Phibes (also starring Price).  However, several of the murders are actually quite ghastly – as well as bizarre – and the actors’ performances keep the pace rolling along.  There are surprises and chills aplenty, making Theatre of Blood a film I heartily recommend.

8/10

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)

Well it’s basically inspired by old B-movies and horror/sci-fi flicks, so The Rocky Horror Picture Show is in this years Hallowe’en Horror Fest!

I’m not a huge fan though, sorry.  Mrs Platinum Al loves this old nonsense though, and made me promise not to write a bad review.  So to ensure I don’t end up like Eddy, I’ll list the things I enjoyed about this film and not mention the negatives.

  • It’s a musical, but has nothing to do with that Lloyd-Webber tit.
  • A couple of the songs are actually quite good – Science Fiction Double Feature is a great tune with cool lyrics in tribute to some classic films.
  • Charles Gray is MAGNIFICENT.
  • Susan Sarandon has a great rack.
  • Magenta would also get a portion (nice French maid outfit).

It’s actually quite good, campy fun for the most part, though I lost interest for the last twenty minutes.  I won’t be dressing up in stockings and suspenders for a late night showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show any time soon.

4/10

Questions #10: Film Scenes

If you could visit a location in any film you’ve ever seen, what would it be?  I don’t mean a film set like Pinewood Studios, I mean the actual location that you see on screen, real or imaginary.

You could pick New York, but when King Kong is climbing the Empire State Building.  That’s a real place, but when something fantastic from within a movie is happening.

Or you could pick a place that’s completely imaginary, like Oz or Narnia.

I asked this question to several people, and this is what they said.

Q: What scene from a film would you like to visit?

Scott: X-Men mansion

Jamie: Zion (The Matrix)

Matt: the mansion in Underworld

David R:  Andy’s room from Toy Story

Terry: Asgard (Thor)

Sam: Tron world(?)

Iaian: Springfield (The Simpsons)

Alex: Middle Earth (Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit)

Mike W: SHIELD Heli Carrier (The Avengers)

David: Hoth (The Empire Strikes Back)

Nathan: Fantasia (Never Ending Story)

Laura: Neverland (Hook)

Sue R: Paris (as in Last Tango In…)

Jayne: Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory

Andy B: Hill Valley (Back to the Future)

Kev: Pandora (Avatar)

Greeny: Jurassic Park

Adam G: Hill Valley 2015 (Back to the Future)

Chris: Gotham City (The Dark Knight)

Simon B: the bar in the Cannonball Run

Karen: Black Pearl (Pirates of the Caribbean)

Steve O: The Copacabana club (Goodfellas)

Claire H: Jamaica (Cool Runnings)

Kirsty R: Desert island from Castaway

Me: Mos Eisley cantina (Star Wars)

Leave a comment below if there’s a scene you’d like to be in!

Captain Blood (1935)

After a long while, I finally added this film to my DVD collection.  Originally released in 1935, Captain Blood is black and white, no CGI – switch off now if this isn’t your thing.  But you’ll be missing something special if you do.

This is the story of a doctor, Peter Blood, who through misfortune and circumstance finds himself a slave in the West Indies.  From here he escapes with his trusty comrades and commandeers a Spanish ship, his only option now a life of piracy.  We follow Captain Blood and his crew’s adventures on the seas. captainblood1

Warner Brothers took a gamble in casting the unknown Errol Flynn in the lead role.  The risk paid off – Flynn lights up the screen from the start.  A star is not so much born as presented fully formed for the audience to adore.  Olivia de Havilland, as Arabella Bishop, also found herself become an established name.  There is real on screen chemistry between the two (they’d go on to star in many other films together); both Flynn and de Havilland captivating throughout.

Director Michael Curtiz employs everything he has to create a spectacle on screen, though surprisingly most of the scenes were shot on sound stages.  Flynn’s sword fight with Basil Rathbone is energetic and deadly.  The final swing-across-the-cavern ship to ship battle is still exciting even now.

Curtiz takes his time telling the back story before we get to the piracy on the high seas.  On first viewing you may wonder when the film will actually get to the pirate part, yet the tale is told well with engaging characters and action.

Captain Blood is golden era Hollywood.  It has escapism, adventure and above all, fun.  Even without a single “Garrrrgh!”, it’s still full of pirate-y goodness.

8/10