Oh no, sir, you bain't be wantin' to go up on the moors
tonight! Not when the moon is full, sir, no!
Things are getting strange, we're starting to worry - this could be a
case for Mulder and Scully. Or a case for the fifth newsletter from The
Spinning Image (cue dry ice and spooky synthesiser noodlings).
- First up - Chat
rooms are now up, running and waiting for you to drop by. We've
got a few rooms set up, but if you think we need more on different subjects
then give me a shout and I'll get it sorted.
- Comments - you can now add a comment to any review on the site! Read
a glowing review about a film you thought was dire? Tell someone! Read
a bad review of a minor classic - spread the word! When you add a comment
to a review the reviewer is dropped a quick email to inform them that
their review has feedback! Now we're truly getting interactive and what
better way to put your thoughts on films which you've seen but don't
have the time to review in full.
- As a member you can send
your own news items for inclusion in future issues of this newletter.
These can be interesting anecdlotes, snippets you've heard or picked
up off the net, ideas for future newsletters or anything you think might
interest other readers.
I FIND THAT HARD TO BELIEVE
Now, moviemakers get a certain cachet from basing their paranormal efforts
on true life phenomena. UFOs, ghosts, visions, unidentified creatures,
strange powers - it's enough to make Arthur C. Clarke himself pause for
thought. Well, I say true, it's all in the eye of the beholder, isn't
So the latest M. Night Shyamalan oddity, Signs, bases its story
on the incidents of crop circles around the world when Mel Gibson finds
a collection on his laaaand. Shyamalan opts for an extraterrestrial explanation,
rather than having a couple of corduroy-clad real ale drinkers wielding
a plank and a length of rope as the culprits.
So let's take a look at the world of the unexplained, as interpreted
by the movies. We've invented the snappily-titled Convincing-O-Meter (COM)
to gauge the authenticity of the events on display. And so we begin...
First category: UFOS AND SPACE ALIENS
Whitley Strieber blames space aliens for some weird dreams and gets
a probe up his arse for his trouble. Based on the similarly inconclusive,
COM: 40% - shouldn't have eaten that cheese before bedtime
- CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND
Taken from the work of ufologists like Jacques Vallee (who is a fan
of the film) and J. Allen Hynek (pictured with pipe), this sci-fi epic
nicely sums up the 70's obsession with UFOs.
COM: 65% - we are not alone
- HANGAR 18
Decidedly low budget version of the old pseudo-Roswell crashed flying
saucer story, brought to you by the people who made documentaries on
ancient aliens and fortune telling.
COM: 30% - about as believable as the 1990s alien autopsy footage
- FIRE IN THE SKY
Celebrated UFO abductee Travis Walton saw his story brought to life
here, except his story was like something out of an old copy of Weird
Tales, so the film makers made up their own version of events instead.
COM: 35% - he's a lumberjack and he's not OK
- THE X FILES
The paranoia of 1990s ufology is summed up in this TV spin off.
The truth is out there, but it's not really in here - Mulder and Scully
couldn't prove that the sky is blue on this evidence.
COM: 50% - bees, millions of bees, aargh
Second category: GHOSTS AND APPARITIONS
- THE AMITYVILLE HORROR
Infamously all-made-up case of the 1970s was invented to make easy
money for its authors. A window closing on your fingers was more proof
of bad joinery than the supernatural.
COM: 15% - get out
- THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES
High strangeness case of the 1960s was documented by investigator John
Keel, here played by Richard Gere. Disappointingly, all traces of Men
in Black putting jelly into their pockets is left out in favour of more
COM: 50% - he was right about the bridge, anyway
- THE EXORCIST
Based on a real life case of possession, writer William Peter Blatty
turned it into a mixture of sensational events and heavy musings on
religion and the nature of faith.
COM: 55% - whatever's got into you?
- THE ENTITY
Another supposed true life case, here Barbara Hershey gets raped by
a poltergeist of her own making whenever Status Quo start practicing
in the room above.
COM: 45% - get yer entities out for the lads
Third category: BEASTS AND CREATURES
- THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK
The bigfoot story gets the drama documentary treatment. The creature
is mostly kept in the shadows, and all the evidence is anecdotal, but
that's one helluva spooky swamp.
COM: 70% - certainly scared me when I was little
- LOCH NESS
"No, ye have to believe it to see it!" How convenient.
COM: 25% - pah, just cashing in on Nessie's good name
- WHAT A WHOPPER!
Adam Faith and friends try to, er, cash in on Nessie's good name, but
to their surprise the monster does make an appearance at the end. He
even gives us a friendly wink. Wink, I said.
COM: 30% - Nessie pictured may not be the real one
- THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN
Mysterious version of the Yeti legend, with Peter Cushing meeting up
with a more spiritual incarnation of the creature than you might expect.
Personally, I prefer the Yeti from Monsters Inc.
COM: 55% - will this legend Everest?
- THE NATURE OF THE BEAST
Are out-of-place big cats seen in the north of England? Unfortunately
this film is more concerned with kitchen sink drama.
COM: 35% - here, kitty kitty kitty
- BIGFOOT AND THE HENDERSONS
Entirely convincing Bigfoot drama based on what would happen if humans
and apemen made contact. Harry is played by a real Bigfoot.
COM: 95% - TV documentary series Harry and the Hendersons followed
Fourth category: VISIONS AND PSYCHIC POWERS
Look, you can read just about anything into Nostradamus' vague poetry.
This would have us believe he was a visionary of stunning proportions,
and Rutger Hauer's hat certainly steals the show.
COM: 25% - cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances
- THE SEARCH FOR BRIDEY MURPHY
Briefly fashionable reincarnation case made into quick cash-in movie,
with Teresa Wright getting the old past life regression hypnosis.
COM: 40% - I bet Shirley MacLaine liked it
Uri Geller's life story is brought to the screen by Ken Russell.
Has anyone actually seen this?
COM: 10% - at least David Blaine shows a little more variety with
his magic tricks
- SONG OF BERNADETTE
A vision of the Virgin Mary by a simple peasant girl leads to a life
of piety. There's more about the piety than the vision here, mind you.
COM: 55% - nice to see you, to see you nice
And lo! An MTV style drama was made of the religious condition of having
wounds in Christlike places. And twas an abomination in the eyes of
the Lord, so we shall speak no more of it.
COM: 15% - bleedin' rubbish
Fifth category: THE BEST OF THE REST
Can't really comment on this one without spoiling the end of the film,
but just to mention that they're too big - in real life they're only
COM: 80% - watch the skies
- ENDANGERED SPECIES
The unpleasant phenomenon of cattle mutilation is covered here,
with the culprits being shown to be the government. Other than that,
explanations are pretty fuzzy.
COM: 60% - a load of bull?
- THE PHILDELPHIA EXPERIMENT
Well, the experiment was nothing like what is depicted here, no
sailors going mad after walking through walls or anything, so there's
nothing to interest us.
COM: 10% - don't rock the boat
This time, Daniel Auty leads us down the walk of shame with his head
held high: here are the films he's slightly embarrassed about enjoying...
South Park made them famous, and anyone who's seen Orgazmo
will know that Matt Stone and Trey Parker were never going to make their
name in the world of live action movie making. It's a porno superhero
lark with all the subtlety and wit that such a concept promises... but
I love it all the same. Strangely, there's virtually no nudity, but
plenty of foul language and assorted deviant behaviour... and ugly guy
porno king Ron Jeremy in one of his acclaimed 'straight' roles.
- WEEKEND AT BERNIES
The following is absolutely true: Weekend At Bernies is the
funniest film I have ever seen. I've only seen it once, at a cinema
in Glasgow at the age of 15, and I swear that I have never laughed so
hard at a film before or since, especially the scene where Bernie -
the corpse - is tied to a speedboat and falls off the back, trailing
behind the vessel like a decomposing water skier. I have no wish ever
to watch the film again, as I have just a sneaking suspision it may
not prove quite so hilarious 13 years on.
- NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VEGAS VACATION
Actually, I've only seen the last 20 minutes of this one, and 18
of that was enough to not make me want to check out the first hour,
but there's a great scene where Chevy Chase, having blown all his money
in Vegas, visits the city's skankiest casino in a desperate attempt
to win something back, and loses out on such games a 'guess what number
the croupier is thinking of'.
- STREET TRASH
On one hand not really a guilty pleasure at all, Street Trash is
genuinely a masterpiece of late 80s gore sleaze - but loving any film
that finds necrophilia, castration, alcoholism and gang rape funny does
still makes me feel slightly guilty all the same....
I never thought I'd find merit in any Mariah Carey entertainment product,
but this fantastic effort made me rethink my opinion of the poor woman.
She's a talented songstress from the wrong side of town, Britain's Max
Beesley is the big time record promoter who takes her under his wing.
Featuring dialogue that makes George Lucas seem like David Mamet and
plot developments a seven year old would find insulting, this is the
greatest bad movie of recent years. Even more bewildering is the fact
that the director - Vondie Curtis Hall - made the superb Gridlock'd
a few years earlier... I dread to think of the tragic twists his
life must have taken in the intervening time to lead him to Glitter.
Thanks for that. If you have any guilty pleasures you'd like to admit
to, then send
them along to the Spinning Image website...
LINKS FROM THE OTHER SIDE
How about a celebrity ghost tour of Hollywood? http://www.fabuloustravel.com/ww/haunthollywood/haunthollywood.html
Promises that you can see the ghosts of Clifton Webb and Orson Welles
if you're lucky (Orson shouldn't be too difficult to miss).
Read the true life supernatural encounters of the stars here: giants of
the entertainment world like John Lennon, Marlon Brando, Jack Lemmon,
Jayne Mansfield, er, Tommy Steele, um, and Donald Sinden. Unfortunately
the ghost stories of Dot Cotten and Bob Hoskins are "members only" for
some reason. Maybe they're really racy. Maybe not.
Tells you a little about the true story behind The Legend of Boggy Creek.
Very little. But it is local.
Tells you a little more, but is mostly a plug for a book about the "Fouke
Monster" as they call it. (As in "What the Fouke?" presumably).
[from Daniel Auty] Gaspar No, director of this year's big Cannes
controversy Irreversible is in a combative mood concerning the
forthcoming UK release of the film (which stars Vincent Cassell and Monica
Bellucci and features a nine minute rape scene). He says: "If Britain
cuts it, the film won't be released here. I can't understand how a country
like England would ask for cuts when Cannes, the most bourgeois film festival
in the world, showed it. You can't cut the film because of its long takes.
It would become obvious to an audience that there had been cuts. US movies
are much more damaging than this one, in their promotion of violence,
power and weapons. Rape happens in life. Why can't it be shown on screen
so people can have a clearer vision of it? On a moral level you can't
STRANGER THAN FICTION
The Spinning Image archives feature films based on real life happenings
that may be easier to swallow than some of the fright fests covered above.
Here's a few...
From the entertainment world we have 24
Hour Party People, The
Buddy Holly Story, Man
on the Moon and Superstar:
The Karen Carpenter Story.
From the world of crime we have The
Tall and Chopper.
Actual events are represented by Bully
at the Gates, and Medium
Cool features a genuine riot.
As for 1941,
Stories and The
Mothman Prophecies, well, some of it is true... probably.
As a member you can
send your own articles for inclusion on the site. These can be on
any cult movie related subject - although you might like to email me before
embarking on a massive project which is then deemed unsuitable. On the
whole though, if you think it might interest other readers it's good enough
REST IN PEACE
Director-producer-writer Doris Wishman passed away in August aged 82.
Viewed by many as one of the worst directors of all time, her idiosyncratic
films include Nude on the Moon, Bad Girls Go To Hell, The
Amazing Transplant, Let Me Die A Woman and the two "Chesty
Morgan" films: Double Agent 73 and Deadly
Weapons. Her official site:
Dean Reisner died in August aged 84. He was a child actor who became
a screenwriter with Dirty Harry, Coogan's Bluff, Play
Misty for Me and Charley Varrick among his credits. He also
directed the bizarre Bill and Coo, which stars birds dressed up
as humans, and in later years he became a script doctor.
Veteran director J. Lee Thompson died aged 88 at the start of September.
Among his many films, including a number of Charles Bronson movies, are
Yield to the Night, Ice Cold in Alex, Northwest Frontier,
the original Cape Fear, Tiger Bay, The Guns of Navarone,
Eye of the Devil, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and
Happy Birthday to Me.
Actress Katrin Cartlidge was best known for appearing in Mike Leigh films
such as Topsy Turvy, Career Girls and cult favourite Naked.
She also acted in Breaking the Waves, Oscar-winning No Man's
Land and From Hell. She died aged 41 in September after complications
from pneumonia and blood poisoning.
Michael Elphick died aged 55 in September; he appeared in a number of
films like O Lucky Man!, Quadrophenia, The Elephant Man,
Lars Von Trier's debut Forbrydelsens Element, The Supergrass,
Withnail and I, The
Krays and he had a starring role in
I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle. On TV he was best known as Boon.
Stage and screen actress Kim Hunter appeared in many cult films, among
them The Seventh Victim, A Matter of Life and Death, A
Streetcar Named Desire, Lilith, Planet of the Apes and
its first two sequels, The Swimmer and Two Evil Eyes. She
died aged 79 in September.
TV and film actor James Gregory died aged 90 in September. His film credits
include Al Capone, Two Weeks in Another Town, The Manchurian
Candidate, the Dean Martin Matt Helm series, and Beneath the Planet
of the Apes. He also appeared in the Barney Miller TV show and the
first ever Twilight Zone episode.
Bruce Paltrow was a producer and director who will be best remembered
for the TV series St Elsewhere, but he also directed A Little
Sex and Duets. He was the husband of Blythe Danner and the
father of Gwyneth Paltrow, and died aged 58 in October.
Pioneer of Belgian cinema Andre Delvaux died in October aged 76. He started
in television before moving on to write and direct such films as The
Man Who Had His Hair Cut Short, Appointment in Bray and The
Veteran actress Phyllis Calvert had a long career on film, TV and the
stage. Some of her films included Let George Do It, Kipps,
The Man in Grey, Mandy, Indiscreet, Twisted Nerve
and Oh! What a Lovely War. She died aged 87 in October.
Actress Teresa Graves was best known for starring in Get Christie
Love on TV, but she also appeared in two Fred Williamson movies, That
Man Bolt and Black Eye, took the lead in Vampira and
was a regular on Laugh-In. She died in a house fire aged 53 in
Writer, producer and director Sid Pink died in October aged 86. Some of the films he was involved with included The Angry Red Planet, Reptilicus and Journey to the Seventh Planet. He was also an associate of Arch Oboler on two of his early films, The Twonky and Bwana Devil.
New reviews on the site include:
of the Body Snatchers (1978 remake)
AND THE BAND PLAYED BELIEVE IT IF YOU LIKE
And so we end our journey into the unknown - or is the journey, for all
of us, just beginning? Who knows what lies between the dimensions of reality...
and unreality? If you know, don't hesitate to contact us with your comments
at the Spinning Image site.
For now, goodbye - until the next time! Muahahahahaaa!