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  League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse, The Local Heroes
Year: 2005
Director: Steve Bendelack
Stars: Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, David Warner, Bernard Hill, Victoria Wood, Michael Sheen, Emily Woof, Liam Cunningham, Bruno Langley, Kate O'Toole, Alan Morrissey, Peter Kay, Simon Pegg
Genre: Horror, Comedy, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Comedy writer Jeremy Dyson (Michael Sheen) is alone in his isolated cliffside home, searching frantically around. At last he finds his mobile phone, and it's one of his co-writers on the other end so he pitches his latest idea for their fictional village of Royston Vasey - give all the characters tails. He hangs up, but thinks he sees something moving around outside in the darkness, and putting his binoculars to his eyes, he spots a scarecrow, but doesn't realise he now has black circles of ink on his face. He goes into the bathroom only to be confronted with a woman sitting on his toilet - not any woman, he sees, aghast, but his own creation of Tubbs (Steve Pemberton). And where Tubbs goes, Edward (Reece Shearsmith) is sure to follow...

Back in the seventies, there were years of sitcom spin-offs to keep the British box office cash registers ringing, but the practice had long fallen out of favour by the time the 2000s came along. This did not deter the creators of the horror-themed, bad taste TV comedy The League of Gentlemen, who saw a feature film as the next logical step: bring all those characters to the big screen. Well, not all, as if you're a fan there's sure to be someone they've missed out, but quite a few do make it, and they are well used. What the writers, Dyson, Mark Gatiss, Pemberton and Shearsmith have come up with is, however, seriously self-involved.

After the prologue which sees Dyson topple off the cliff, we are back in Royston Vasey where vet Dr Chinnery (Gatiss) is attempting to take a semen sample from a giraffe, but the weather is becoming strangely violent, and a bolt of lightning hits the machine he's using, covering a group of old ladies and his assistant with giraffe sperm. So far, so typically League, but after we get a few of these sketches a story begins to emerge with the Reverend Bernice (Shearsmith) taking Chinnery and Pauline (Pemberton) down into the bowels of her church to see the murals on the walls, murals which predict disaster for their home town.

But no sooner than the trio plan to enter a secret door to travel to the real world, as Edward, Tubbs and the sinister Papa Lazarou (Shearsmith) have done before, another trio, disgraced butcher Hilary Briss (Gatiss), local businessman Geoff (Shearsmith) and innuendo-laden German Herr Lipp (Pemberton), sneak through themselves. And they end up in our world, where they are told by Lazarou, in an overwhelmingly post modern twist, that they must persuade the writers of the League to return to their characters instead of scripting a new historical horror or Royston Vasey will be destroyed. And if you think that's complicated, wait until Geoff enters the world of their new film.

Watching the League's Apocalypse is like watching one of those extreme jugglers performing with a chainsaws: any wrong step and the plot will come crashing down around their ears, although they probably won't lose any limbs. Luckily, even when they're going for the obvious jokes, the film remains funny, and David Warner, as the seventeenth century wizard Dr Pea, is an excellent foe for the rest of them to do battle with. There are those expected references, of course, with amusing digs at The Shining or La Belle et la BĂȘte, and even a close to the edge send up of the more typical sitcom movie. The acting remains assured, with every character distinct, and there's even a note of pathos when Lipp realises his entire personality is built around "one joke". With its self-referential plotting, the film won't win many new fans, but it is funnier than series three, and an unholy amount of imagination has gone into pulling it off. So to speak. Music by Joby Talbot.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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