Karma Kamelion – My History with Doctor Who

So I was doing some admin in preparation for the New season of TYTD Reviews (As an aside; exact dates on the launch date is TBC at this point in time but it’s looking to either be the 28th of February or the 6th of March depending on how quickly I can pull my socks up) and it dawned on me…I’d never done a blog about Doctor who! HOW have I never done a blog about Doctor who? I did a whole month on the internationally famous timelord. I did three whole hour long retrospectives on the William Hartnell years that never got uploaded because It was starting to creep to 90 minutes per retrospective and I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain them…but I’ve never actually made a blog exclusively about the TV show (And set of movies) that were massively influential on my life. So! This entry is going to entirely be about my history with show, my thoughts on it and where things currently sit with me.

(Buckle up kids! this is a Journey into space!)

So! I watched my first episode of Doctor who in the early spring of 2003. It was *I believe* The Peter Davidson Story “The Caves of Androzani” on UKTV Gold. Back then I was suffering from a quite severe stomach illness which meant I was always, without fail, jolted awake at 7am with severe pains (This would go on for 3-4 months before culminating in the 2nd worst illness I’ve ever had that lasted 48 hours and totally knocked me out) this turned out though to have a major upside as UKTV gold showed omnibus editions of Doctor who  between 7 and 9am back then. As such; when I first saw that regeneration story it blew my mind at how weird, wonderful, quintessentially british it was and I was really rather smitten at first sight. I spent most of the spring and a good chunk of the summer burning through Peter Davidson and Colin bakers era of Doctor who. Occasionally an odd Tom Baker would materialise and incredibly rarely (I can only recall 3 times EVER) Jon Pertwee stories would show up. I still recall being absolutely enthralled at catching a Black and white broadcast of “The Ambassadors of Death” captivated at Properly old Doctor who! Black and white doctor who! (I wasn’t to know it was originally in colour) it blew my mind.

(This…was a watershed moment for me)

You have to imagine; at this point all the existing Doctor who episodes had been released on VHS but by 2003 those tapes wernt available to buy in shops…charity shops or car boot sales maybe;…but not in real shops. There were a limited number of DVD’s available (Approximately 10-15) but at the time I was unemployed and had absolutely no chance of affording them.  So these broadcasts were my gateway to the show! I never saw a full story during this time, only either edited episodes or partial stories  (I never quite got in front of the screen to catch part 1 more often than not) but over that year I ended up pretty much watching all of the 5th and 6th Doctors eras. I needed more though.

Jump forward to November 2003 and I’d managed to save up enough money for 2 Doctor who DVD’s which I bought off Amazon (One of my first online purchases…I was a bit behind the times) I really was at a loss for what to pick up but in the end I settled on “The Five Doctors” thinking it would give me a good idea of each Doctors personality and let me make a bit of a better informed decision on where to go next. And “Tomb of the Cybermen” which I chose purely based on what I saw of Patrick Troughtons 2nd Doctor in the multi Doctor story “The Two Doctors” as part of Colin Bakers era…He seemed like a personality I could really gel with and I quite liked the concept of Cybermen (I’ve always much preferred them to Daleks) It was the only Cybermen story out at the time so I thought “Why the hell not”. They arrived on the weekend of the 23rd of November 2003, on Doctor who’s 40th anniversary weekend.

(These two…Oh man…it’s probably the first time I’ve seen these covers in 10 years…memories man…ooft.)

 

That weekend was an absolute eye opener. UKTV gold decided to play Doctor who for most of the weekend. With each Doctor getting a “Top” story played out to represent them. That was the first time I was introduced to William Hartnells Doctor, and Sylvester Mccoys and Paul Mcganns. I got another Troughton story under my belt. And (If my memory serves) it was the first time I ever saw Pertwees opening story “Spearhead from Space”.  This really opened the floodgates for me. I enjoyed that weekends worth of stories so much I knew that I needed to get my hands on more. And specifically the older stuff. through the rest of 2003,2004 and 2005 I started buying up DVD’s. I have very vivid memories of picking up “The Dalek Invasion of Earth” and the “Beginnings” boxset of the first 3 Doctor who serials ever. I eventually picked up some 5th and 6th Doctor stories and finally saw the likes of “The Visitation” and “Vengence on Varos” uncut in there original format.

The announcement that the show was returning to the airwaves after a 16 year hiatus in 2004 completely passed me by. I was too busy with the classic stuff. but in 2005 with 2 weeks to go before the launch of the new series I suddenly locked in and got majorly excited for it’s return. And it didn’t disappoint! If I was an affectionate follower before I was a full blown fanatic after “Rose” aired. I was absolutely smitten with the new season. and in tandem with the classic DVD’s I’d started collecting this started a period of time where all I wanted was the next hit, the next fix of who. Didn’t care if it was new or old. Colour or black and white. I needed who and I needed it NOW.

(This thing just keeps getting better and better)

It was in late 2004 that I also learnt about the “Missing episodes” and while it didn’t particularly phase me in 2004. In 2005 when I was freebasing Hartnell and wondering why my now favourite Doctor Patrick Troughton wasn’t having a tremendous amount of DVDs released. A quick google quickly broke my heart. Missing episodes quickly became my life. I’d pour over telesnaps on the BBC website, I’d scour the net for audio of the episodes. Eventually I got in touch with Loose Canon who were able to provide me with most of there full blown reconstructions (To this day their “Web of Fear” CG recon still holds a special place in my heart) My love for information on missing Doctor who eventually branched out to all missing TV (A passion that still continues to this day. God bless Kaleidoscope)

(One day…)

Basically I was obsessed. I could tell you TX dates. I could tell you every stories writer, every director, every individual episode title for series 1-4…and I was astounded that I couldn’t get a girlfriend at this time (Genuinely). Series 1 eventually came to an end with a regeneration and a cliffhanger that blew my mind. I waited desperately impatiently till Christmas and actually locked myself away to watch “The Christmas Invasion” live and play the red button minigame that accompanied it. it was fantastic. I wasn’t a massive fan of David Tennants first series as the timelord, Series 2 was a bit too romantically charged for my taste personally but hey. its doctor who. It’s still astoundingly great at this point (Daleks V Cybermen OMGWTFBBQ) and my collection continued to grow, I loved series 3 and 2007 was my 1st, 2nd, 3rd and last ever trips to the Doctor who Exhibition in Blackpool…literally the coolest museum I’d ever been to. I genuinely couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I made the pilgrimage to Cardiff to do tours of the Torchwood locations and to see where some of “Utopia” was filmed and to visit the ORIGINAL Doctor who exhibition (Which was located in a shopping center and not in a hanger on the bay). I LOVED series 4 (Some of the best and most consistent television I’ve ever seen) it was near perfect for me and is still my favourite Tennant season.

But then 2009 happened…the specials happened. It was rough. I really didn’t like the specials. There just wasn’t anything there honestly for me. “The Next Doctor” was a cop out that had quite a weak premise that stood up while merry on a Christmas evening, but is pretty much devoid of any rewatch value. “Planet of the Dead” was incredibly flimsy storywise the “Guest stars” were underwhelming and the resolution wasn’t satisfying. “The Waters of Mars” was probably the strongest story of the season…but even that had a quite rubbish villain and tried way too hard to try and tell me how to feel…at this point I felt I was getting a bit tired of Tennant…in hindsight I still stand that had he gone out at the end of season 4 rather than doing the specials I’d have probably left him on fonder terms…The end of time was a bit of a disaster for me…the Master reveal was nice. But the rest of it was an absolute sludge of a story that made almost no sense, had poor editing and lacked any kind of depth or cohesion between parts 1 and 2.

2 things saved the 2009 run for me. One was that I managed to start making a regular income which let me buy WAY more classic Doctor who…which kept me good during the long gaps between new series episodes. And the actual Tennant regeneration and the opening 30 seconds to a minute of Matt Smiths run was FUCKING PHENOMINAL. Seriously in less than a minute Matt Smiths 11th Doctor connected with me in a way I hadn’t felt since I sat down 5 years previously to watch “Tomb of the Cybermen” Matt Smith was my kind of Doctor. And I could not WAIT. For season 5.

(SOLD!)

It. Was. BRILLIANT. Both Season 5 and 6 of the new series completely reignited my love for the show like scraping the rust off and restoring an old car. The direction and cine was fresh and lively. Matt Smith and Karen Gillan were absolutely electric together and the 11th Doctors personality (A cross between the 2nd Doctor and the more “Masterplanny” elements of the 7th Doctor) captivated me. I never missed an episode. I’d rewatch these season religiously. I went on holiday during season 6’s run and ended up renting a portable TV…in Spain. Just so I wouldn’t miss the 2 episodes That would go out while I was abroad. Russell T.Davies was a master of writing emotional characters. But Moffats era would open the floodgates on full blown unapologetic sci-fi bringing some stories to the table that are now considered out and out classics. Retroactively I will concede they arnt perfect…but I still stand that they were Bloody close!

(So…frickin…good!)

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end and 2012 was really the beginning of the end for my “Rabid fandom” days as a “Who” fan…by 2012 I’d caught up with the Doctor who DVD’s more or less. Both myself and my (Then flatmate) Ben had started marathoning every episode of Doctor who in order (1963 – 2013) and I’d started to go hardcore about my collecting (I managed to get bootleg copies of Ian Levines Shada, Mission to the Unknown, and bootleg DVD releases for “Dimensions in time” at this time) Season 7 (2012) started out relatively strong if not a little bit fillery…but Amy and Rory’s departure from the show half way through season 7 and the corresponding break really did mark my decline. I didn’t like Clara. I never liked Clara. I still don’t like Clara. She was good  in “Asylum of the Daleks” she was alright in “The Snowman”…her “Official” start in “The Bells of St. John” was a damp squib for me and with the exception of “The Crimson Horror” the entire second half of season 7 was just atrocious. Really poor stories, terrible dumbed down dialogue, all the fine lines and narrative points that made me love seasons 5 and 6 were reduced and “The Rings of Akhaten” to me was the absolute low of Doctor who at any point in its entire run up to that point. While I wont deny I went a bit weak in the knees for the opening “Multi Doctor” montage in “The Name of the Doctor” it was all too little too late.

(This monologue was the best part of the 2nd half of season 7…and it sits in the worst episode of Doctor who that I’ve seen since 2006)

While “Day of the Doctor” went a long way to assuring me that maybe the 2nd half of Season 7 just disagreed with me and that I shouldn’t worry too much (Day of the Doctor was bloody phenominal good fun). Time and the Doctor was not the best way the 11th Doctor could have gone…it was better by Tennant…but not much. Capaldi’s era to me is punctuated by 2 major movements in my fandom. The first was that I pretty much finished my Doctor who DVD collection (I believe by the end of 2015 I was literally just mopping up special editions) and this was the first time I genuinely thought that a Doctor was given scripts that were significantly below their acting ability. Peter Capaldi is an astounding actor. I love his performances very dearly. But in my opinion you could take seasons 8,9 and 10 and build a season’s worth of good episodes out of them. (14 episodes and since you didn’t ask):

*Deep Breath

*Mummy on the Orient Express

*Flatline

*The Magicians Apprentice

*The Witches Familiar

*The Zygon Invasion

*The Zygon Inversion

*Heaven Sent

*Hell Bent

*The Pilot

*Smile

*The World Enough and Time

*The Doctor Falls

*Twice upon a time

As a season that run would be on a par with some of Eccleston,Tennant and Smiths best seasons for me. but the fact that I had to really think hard to remember the episodes of seasons 8,9 and 10 and that the episodes above for the most part only JUST. hit those same heights is a bit of a shame…the majority of Capaldi’s episodes had moments. Had glimmers…but just…didn’t work for me for the most part. Bill was an absolute breath of fresh air over Clara (Who I disliked during capaldi’s era so much that when she left I actually threw a “Claras gone” party…with guests and cake and party poppers and everything) I cant quite put my finger on it but something in the way Moffat ran the show from that second half of season 7 onwards was fundamentally different to how it was run between seasons 5 and 6…Season 10 was the most solid season of Capaldis run but it still wasn’t perfect. He’s still the Doctor I’d most love to see get the Big finish treatment as I think he could be quite genuinely astounding with a decent companion and a good run of well written stories.

(The one that got away…)

And so we arrive In the 13th Doctors era… And before I talk about this I just want to take a moment here. grab Jodie Whittaker and Bradley Walsh and pop them in a little time pocket outside of this blog because to me they’re brilliant. I like Jodies Doctor (She’s very 5th Doctor for me) and I think Walsh’s “Graham”  has brought some much needed light relief to a series that can get quite dark at times. They’re great. I love them. I wont say anything more about them here…HOWEVER.

(She’s oreet! Seriously; I have no beef with Jodie!)

I haven’t watched Season 12 yet. And I’ve still got 3 episodes of season 11 to get through (At the time of writing) I haven’t watched an episode of Doctor who go out live since Season 11 episode 1 and I don’t want to be lumped in with all the weirdo’s who think theres a culture war going on and the new series of Doctor who is somehow trying to “Destroy white heritage!!!1!!11” But Im really struggling with this era.

I really liked “Rosa”, I really Liked “Demons of the Punjab” everything else I’ve seen of season 11 has been (From a script perspective) slow, dragged out, overly wordy, uninteresting and unchallenging. Every episode is overly long. And even episodes that I  was really warming to (“Kablam!”) throw any goodwill I had with them away with piss poor endings that left me with mixed messages and feelings. I’ve never liked Chris Chibnalls writing, I don’t know why he was chosen to be the showrunner as other than broadchurch his prior works wernt really screaming “Top Sci-fi producer”. I don’t like the newly introduced “Writers room” format. I don’t like the lower episode count. I don’t like the overreliance on big spacey bollocks CGI effects and gimmicks that are clearly gimmicks (I know, I know…but Tom Baker was already a gimmick BEFORE he became the doctor) I don’t like that they’ve moved the show to Sundays. And I REALLY don’t like that the BBC’s own social media feed now completely spoils new episodes within 30 minutes of the credits rolling thus removing any need for me to watch at all…

I fucking hate the toxic side of the fandom who’ve used this change of the guard to attack the choice of a female doctor or to claim theres an SJW agenda because the show is dealing with more diverse topics and I REALLY hate the fans who’ve stuck around who attack anyone who even remotely suggests they arnt totally happy with the latest season. the fandom has eaten itself and kacked it’s pants at the worst possible time to do so and it’s depressed me so much that for now at least I’ve kind of stepped back a bit. Im still working through episodes at a very slow pace (As and when I can fit them in) but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel lethargic about the show in it’s current iteration. It’s mainly the pacing of the scripts, the constant stream of guest stars and at a push…mayyybe a touch of “Crowded Tardis” going on…though that’s really the least of this shows troubles.

I had a friend in 2011 who I met over a mutual love of Matt Smith era Doctor who. Every Saturday we’d meet up and go through that week’s who. When the show wasn’t on we’d talk about Big Finish, rumours on Missing episodes and rumours for the new season. We fell out over Clara (He loved her) but we patched it up. We fell out over this season…not because he likes it and I don’t. we both don’t like it…but he doesn’t like it for questionable reasons…we haven’t spoken since season 11…I don’t know if we’ll ever speak again.

In 2020. I feel very apathetic about Doctor who. The fandom isn’t helping to get me enthused…but the show itself to me feels a bit like it’s just going through the motions. I know the love for the show is still there though. I keep getting twinges to go and dig out some classic doctor who. I still keep my oar in on missing episode rumours and the moment a 9th or 12th doctor Big finish series is announced im totally there. I appreciate that the show is always evolving. I get that. The joy of this show is it’s a bit like a roundabout. You can jump on and off on a whim and one era’s show can be completely different from another. I don’t know where the show goes from here. But whatever happens from here…I’ll still be there either on the sidelines or trying to get onto the pitch. I love the show. and the spark that keeps it excellent is still going…no matter how loudly certain aspects of the fandom screams otherwise.

 

(Obligatory “Doctor in Distress” music video)

The Decade of Change: 2010 – 2019 A Retrospective

Yes! It’s a new Blog! Well I couldn’t really let the end of the year, Neigh. The end of the Decade pass without posting something here. it would just seem quite out of  sorts.  In all honesty I’ve been trying to get a blog up on this site now for the best part of 6 months…I’ve tried 5 times in all and everytime I’ve done so I’ve left it for a day before publishing it and something either in my personal life or on my youtube channel has happened that’s either made it completely obsolete or (In the case of at least a couple of blogs I’ve written that have been based around a particular theme) outside forces have made the point I was arguing in said blog moot, or I’ve changed my mind completely.

(Seems about right…)

In short; I’ve had to either abandon or not publish several blogs over the last 6 months, So I’ve made myself a promise with this one. No matter what, this will be written and published all on the 31st of December. Right now it’s 2:20am on the 31st of December 2019 and Im currently watching  Something Weird Videos “That’s Sexploitation” a documentary about the early history of Sexploitation cinema. Its surprisingly insightful and it’s very unique to see so many vintage clips that previously would have been sat in the deepest darkest seediest pits and back rooms across the US.

(This to be precise…and a fine job they’ve done of it too!)

Anyway; Im getting away from myself here… We’ve had an interesting Decade the 2010’s it’s had it’s highs and it’s lows. And I’d like to take the time here to reflect on this decade personally as…well; a lots happened. So if your looking for the next segment of my history of B-movie cinema or a blog about anime or tv shows I’ve been watching…well you may want to skip to the end. I think it’s probably best to organise these into 2 distinct sectors. The pre 2016’s and the post 2016’s. in my mind at least that makes the most sense as they both are very different times tonally. To me the early 2010’s were a strangely liberating if not creaking time, and the later 2010’s have been the slow collapse of society. Now that’s not to say that 2010 to 2015 was perfect. Nor was it to say that everything after 2016 has been dreadful. But it just makes it easier to write about here.

So; 2010. As strange a time for me as it ever has been honestly. I had just gotten out of a very complicated friendship (Romantic feelings were involved and I’ll say no more about that here) I was a bit of a mess emotionally because of this (I didn’t really get over these issues until about 2014/2015) I had almost no money, no idea what I wanted to do with my life, I didn’t own a car (nor did I know how to drive) I was living with my parents and was generally flicking between being busy making films/expanding my education and figuring out what I wanted out of life (Predominantly centered around whether I wanted a partner/friends or whether I should just coast around going where I wanted and doing what I wanted.) For the most part I wasn’t unhappy. But I wasn’t exactly beaming for the most of this year. I made some good friends that year who continue to be associates to this day. I’ve never been a “Going out” type of guy. A pub nights about as far as I’ll go really. So I don’t tend to see the guys from this time as much as I’d like to. but the fact they’ve hung around with me as long as they have really does mean a lot.

(It was a stiff upper lip year if ever there was one…)

2010 was a bit of a stalled year. I was taking a lot on and I had no idea what I wanted. I was drifting aimlessly and seemingly directionless. 2011 would certainly offer direction, but would also be particularly awful. I’d decided after much thought to go to university. My love of film had led me to want to do a course on the subject to a degree level and so I chose to study media film production with a minor in experiemental film history. I had the choice of whether to do the experimental film element or not and as I thought “Well it’s another string to my bow” alongside having a love for the abnormal and bizarre of film history. I was to spend my first year in a halls of residence and it was here that one of the biggest issues of 2011 really cropped up.

Ladies and gentlemen it will not surprise you to learn that I am not a thin man, I am chonky. A plump fellow…not massive mind…but big. Equally; I am not a sportsman… In fact I’d go as far as to say for the most part I strongly dislike sports. while I’ve been told I have the profile/frame to be a great Prop/Center Forward (Whatever the hell that is) sport has just simply never interested me. while my peers were on the football/hocky/rugby fields of this great country. I was learning how VCR’s worked, making makeshift ariels out of tinfoil and coathangers and learning the joys of CB (I can assure you those skills help me now as much as they did then…make of that what you will).

The reason I raise this is because I was told that when it came to selecting who I would be sharing my halls of residence with they selected people who were all roughly studying the same thing. the problem was all the people studying my course had already been assigned a halls of residence meaning a good 10-15 people in my class (Myself included) had to be grouped into the closest thing to my course possible due to there being no room. I was therefore left on my own. In a halls of residence with no one on my course. With 14 Broadcast journalists…14 broadcast journalists who had all chosen to specialise in Sports journalism. They were all pretty much insufferable. Imagine the most “Lads,Lads,Lads” group of young men you can possibly imagine and your not far off. They did nothing but play football all day and all night, both in the halls of residence (The hallways and the kitchens) and outside the building meaning you would regularly hear the sound of a hard leather Kacey ball smacking against dorm doors all day. and all night. At all hours. They played video games…but only variations on Fifa at all times of day and night, at full volume. They didn’t clean after themselves, they drank round the clock (That was forgivable) but they wernt interested in films, tv shows…anything like that…if it wasn’t football, horseracing or rugby they just didn’t want to know…and they were relentless and insufferable.

(Artists impression…but pretty damn close)

Only complicating matters, my student loan (While approved) didn’t land for the first 6 months. meaning I spent a massive chunk of my first year raiding my parents cupboards for food and borrowing money on the promise when my loan landed I could pay them back. And as anyone who’s been in a bad situation can tell you. the only thing worse than being stuck in a bad sitatuion is to be stuck in it and not have the money to get out of it or escape. This also had the knock on effect of damaging my studies. As without any money to fund study materials, rental fees for camera kits and a total absence of a budget I wasn’t able to really make films or even afford basic printing to meet deadlines. In their infinite wisdom the university had also decided not to introduce a dedicated experimental film lecturer to the course until the 2nd year of studies. But they DID decide to segregate the experimental students, give them separate briefs but ask them to work with the main media film students for the first year as the skills were universally transferrable. This caused multiple problems; not least because the main media film lecturers dispised the experimental film lecturers and took every opportunity to belittle the course altogether. This combined with my lack of funds basically meant that anyone who worked with me, was doing it for almost nothing and would be stigmatised for doing so. And due to my lack of funds I couldn’t make the films I wanted which led to a lot of rumours circulating as to my competency.

It was bad in 2010. But now I was Poor, Emotionally unwell, stuck in building 5 days a week with 14 louts and hated by the majority of my peers and teachers. By December of that year I have vivid memories of sitting in my dorm room watching “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” while 2 lads outside smashed a ball against my door and screamed incomprehensibly that I realised I’d hit an absolute low. And that at that moment if I could have left university I would have.

(It was a low point to say the least…)

2 things however happened that year that would change my life fundamentally. About a month into the course we were sent out to the lake district to make documentaries and on the coach I had a chance encounter with a young man who would go on to be one of my best friends. You’ll know him as my co-commentator on “The Comedy Dining Experience” but had Ben not mentioned he was absolutely exhausted after a long night of listening to Bowie records I don’t think we’d have had the long friendship we have had. Ben made that multi-hour coach trip a delight and he’s never disappointed since.

2011 was also they year I met Miss TYTD. We were both part of a drama group. She’d been dragged along by a friend one night and liked me so much she decided to stay (That’s the honest truth!) from there we really hit it off and one thing led to another…the rest they say is history. She kept me sane for a massive chunk of that first year of university. When people were pouring on the hate, when things got almost unbearable she was there to calm the storm. I genuinely don’t know what I’d have done without her. I genuinely don’t know what I’d do without her.

The three of us would hit the student bar hard. Working our way through the menus of food, being very very silly and enjoying night after night of Karaoke (You should  have seen mine and Bens rendition of “Every Sperm is sacred”, or my rendition of “Pretty Woman”) it bought the house down.

(Mood. mainly because things were getting better plus friendship innit.)

2012 was great. A real change of pace and things genuinely only got better and better. My student loans finally landed (2 payments in one go!) and after I’d paid off my debts I was able to actually get on with getting on. I scraped a pass in my first year of studies (Much to everyones annoyance) and as if to put fire in my belly for the second year after finding out I’d just passed my first year by an hairs breath a lecturer cornered me in a lift on my last day and took the opportunity to tell me that he didn’t like me, that he didn’t think I was right for the course and that I should seriously consider leaving. I don’t take kindly to that kind of talk. So that made me resilient to stay (Im so glad I did) I remember the last day in halls as if it was yesterday I stripped my entire room in 45 minutes the moment my last class ended, my room was spotless and locked within the hour and I had ran to the halls office to get rid of my keys as soon as I physically could. I was done with the sports journalists, I was done with the oppression, I was free for the summer. My partner had recently applied to be a lodger at a nearby house and I spent my summers both with her at her place and her at mine. It was also over the summer that I was able to secure a student house for my 2nd and 3rd year of university. I was sharing a 3 and a bit bedroom house with Ben and 2 other housemates. And when university started back up in September it was fucking ace. I’ve never had so much fun in my life. it was nothing but drinking, watching weird art house films, staying up till the sun came up and all the debauchery and weirdness you’d expect from a student house full of weirdo’s odd balls and nerds. Yes it looked like a bombed out dive. But it was our bombed out dive and we loved it dearly.

(Artists impression…again not too far from the truth.)

Equally the experimental lecturers finally appeared on the scene and quickly set the record straight on what experiemental cinema was and why we shouldn’t be segregated against the main film students. I managed to make films! award winning films at that! and they were weird and expressionistic and passionate and I loved shooting them, I loved working with the people who helped me shoot them and slowly but surely word got out about “Dans strange shoots” more people got interested, more people wanted to work with me, more people realised that the rumours about experiemental students from the year previous was a load of bollocks. Things got good. Unfortunately things would begin rather sadly for 2013.

One of my housemates was a punk. And a damn fine chap he was. He was a socialite, he loved parties and he was loved by most of the course. He was the biggest champion of what I did and had my back whenever anyone called me out. my strongest memory of him would be Halloween night 2012 when he returned from a Halloween party in the early hours of the morning to find me just about to load in “Theatre of blood” he’d never seen it, we sat and watched the whole thing. he loved it. I felt like I’d given him a gift. Unfortunately  he also was not a well man. Both mentally and physically. In 2012 he got into a relationship which went well for a few months, before becoming rocky. And then ended quite ungraciously. And unfortunately it hit him harder than I’ll ever know as sadly he committed suicide in early 2013. It was horrifically sad to find out about his loss, and for at least a couple of weeks our course was suspended while everyone processed exactly what had happened. It bought out the best and worst in some people but after some time to reflect we had to push on. we kept making films, we kept up with the work. But for that first half of 2013 things just weren’t the same.

Late 2013 was an absolute cluster fuck in my mind honestly. We began our 3rd and final year of the course in the midst of looking for a new housemate. Alcohol was flowing seemingly endlessly and freely, and both me and Ben had decided to watch every episode of Doctor who from 1963 – 2013 in order (Including some of the missing ones) literally for the rest of 2013 and half of 2014 our days could be summed up as: Wake up for lectures, watch about 16 episodes of Doctor who a day (Sometimes more sometimes less) do a few hours of course work and if we had time, or if we wanted a change, cram in some MST3K…all the while while heavily under the influence and still getting up to the kind of things students are well known for. Everything all blended in to one big ball of memories. The only thing I remember is that we started with “An Unearthly Child” in the first week of September and by the 2nd week of December we’d hit “The Invasion of Time” it was like living in a washing machine.

(We kept a scorebook and watched everything from “An unearthly child” to “Time of the Doctor”…we called each other up on Christmas day to talk about it!)

2014 was the best year of my life to date. Honest to god. You couldn’t make this shit up. As years go it was a blinder. So; kicking the year off we were back on the Doctor who marathon. And we’d just started Tom Baker in season 16. Ace. I’d also heard in the first week of the new year that some of my films had been selected for screenings in Florida, Australia and in and around the UK. Nice. I was working on a film at the time that was inspired by “Christmas Cooking with Fanny Craddock” and that film would go on to be screened at the BFI and would receive a 2nd place award for best film of the night at said event. Brilliant. My partner was in a stable place, was happy and we’d realised this was now a long term thing. we were both very happy. Even more brilliant. I finished my time at university with a 2:1, loved by my peers, missed by my lecturers and with multiple accolades hanging up in the universities corridors. To say my fortunes had turned around would be an understatement. The hardest thing I had to do this year was to hand my student house keys back in once my time at uni had ended. Saying goodbye to Ben and my other housemates not knowing how long it would be before I’d see them again or whether we’d drift off forever genuinely bought a lump to my throat.

In the last weeks of my time in university I had applied to several film jobs and one of them came good working for a post production company. It was a hell of a commute to get in, but they all seemed really nice and the opportunity to be paid to do what I loved seemed too good to be true. So I walked out of university with a good degree and into a good job. Using the money I made from my job I took up driving lessons and passed by test in the November of that year. I bought my first car (A ’97 nissan micra…babe magent let me tell you now!) and to top the year off I won a reasonable sum of money on a scratch card meaning I could clear off the last of my university debts (Not including the student loan) AND have a nice Christmas as I continued to receive emails confirming my films had been selected for screenings across the world. On December 31st I spent the last few hours of the year at a party with my partner and some friends, loving every moment and genuinely not wanting it to end.

Unfortunately the rot begins to set in here.

2015 was a bit of a non year to my memory. It wasn’t a bad year. but it wasn’t good either…it just sort of happened to me. The job was still going well, but some of the varnish was beginning to come off. I was promised a rose garden. But I was beginning to smell manure. No jobs perfect mind. so I kept on carrying on despite my bosses increasingly strange requests and stipulations. My partner decided to start university in this year too. Which she enjoyed. Though this then put some strain on our relationship as I was working a 9-5 gig Monday to Friday and would frequently be exhausted and she was doing what I’d been doing for the previous 3 years. It was a difficult time. but we felt through it and eventually found a setup that worked after a few months. by the end of the year I was told I was to be given a pay rise for my good work. This ultimately however ended up with me making less money than before as I hit a tax bracket which led to me being 10 pounds worse off a year than before. (I was being paid just above minimum wage at the time). the year had it’s bad moments…but by the end things had more or less balanced out. it was overall still a quite good year…just not 2014 good.

On January the 9th 2016 I was sat in a pub in Manchester with Ben and we were joking about how awful it would be if David Bowie died. In amongst chatter about Kraftwerk and Lou Reed and the Bowie discography. The next day he was dead. Bowie had been a part of my life since I was 12 years old and after decades of bowies music being there for me and Blackstar having just been released. To have him suddenly die was an absolute shock to me (As it was to many others) I’ve always said there are only 3 celebrities I would ever seriously seriously mourn if they died. Bowie, Paul Heaton and Brian Wilson. It was a serious smash to the nuts. Im not going to lament too heavily on 2016. Mainly because every media outlet has done so. We lost a lot of good people that year, and a lot of very stupid and poor decisions were made. to me it was the beginning of the mess we’re in now. but on a personal level taking all the sorrow of politics and death out of the equation 2 things happened in this year. the first was that my job became increasingly unpredictable and untenable. My boss was beginning to become increasingly irratic and while I admire anyones dedication to 100% perfection. My boss at the time maybe took this a bit too far. By the end of 2016 my passion for the job had been utterly eroded by red tape. it became a job I just did. Rather than a job I loved. And as the screenings for my films slowly dried up too I found myself once again adrift.

2 things happened that were good for me in 2016. I got promoted to the most senior role in the post house. And one of my best friends for a number of years managed to get a job working under me at said post place. So I was suffering…but at least I wasn’t suffering alone.

(Sorry to assault your ears like that…but it was the first thing that came to mind…Dont know why though…again…sorry.)

2017 from a personal perspective was a bit of a non year. my relationship was steady, the year opened with my boss warning the whole company that the business could fold at any minute (It didn’t…) and my friend realised what mess he’d landed himself into as my boss had turned his attention to attacking both him and myself for anything and everything that wasn’t done 100% the way he wanted it doing (Often what he wanted would be decided on a then and there basis) by March I’d realised I hadn’t made a new film or done anything creative purely for myself in 3 years. I really wasn’t happy about that so I decided to set up a number of projects. Both me and Ben worked on a pythonesq, fast sketch inspired show called “Show Cancelled” which we pitched to several small cable TV networks to little or no success. I started writing a short horror revenge movie which got no further than half of a first draft. And, after helping my partner with some university coursework involving movie reviews for a magazine. coupled with a few other factors around finding information out. I decided to open a youtube channel where I would catalogue and talk about films that no one at all was even remotely interested in. the cult, the obscure, the weird. I did it mainly for semi-selfish reasons. I was fed up of not being able to find information about obscure films. and after being told I’d really liked a film I had no memory of watching from a friend. I decided it was probably a good idea to document my thoughts to confirm I wasn’t going crazy should that situation arise again.

It was the beginning of one of the best decisions id made in this half of the decade.

(Some time around November of 2017…so proud.)
  1. I’d had enough. A job I’d loved had been completely hollowed out by my boss who’s answer to anything not going exactly the way he wanted it to had been to just take those roles off me and give them to someone else permanently. Examples being; I missed punctuation off the end of a request email twice. As a result. I had the privilege or writing emails taken off me. I would produce edits for clients and the boss watched a couple of these, asked for changes, which I made, then when the client came back saying he didn’t like the changes the boss had suggested. The boss told me to re-edit the films and then took all the best film jobs that came in off me and gave them to someone else. By the end of my time at that place I was doing the absolute barest minimum and because they couldn’t just get rid of me they were in a situation where they couldn’t give me anything without it seeming like they were wrong to take stuff in the first place, but equally there wasn’t anything else I was skilled to do.

Things really came to a head when after 4 years of pushing to have a contract. The boss finally handed us a one size fits all form which contained a stipulation saying that if we left the business we would be unable to work in the specific field we applied for for 3 years thereafter. While that’s fine if you’re an accountant or a PR man in the job I applied for (Because It was a very niche job) it wasn’t fine for a jobbing editor. Basically it meant if I quit or left. I wouldn’t be able to be an editor for any other company for 3 years. I consulted a union about this who said it was completely unlawful. My boss found out I’d contacted a union and called a “Meeting” which amounted to him and the accountant basically screaming in my face for an hour, calling me “Scum” making out that they were a family and that they’d felt betrayed by what id done. They then basically said that if I didn’t sign the contract there and then I’d be chucked out and never work again. I should have left there and then. But I needed this experience as It was my first time working in a film related industry and the 4 years + the reference would have really helped me get on. I signed and immediately set about plans to leave.

(Yeaaahhhhh I was pretty much done.)

It took a few months but eventually my partner found somewhere that seemed pretty good,it was outside the film industry, but on substantially better pay. The hours were very reasonable, it was almost on my doorstep as opposed to the near hours drive in and hour and a halfs drive out I’d been doing. I passed the probation period and I was having a good time. not many people really “Got” me in this new place. But I was allowed to have headphones on and I was pretty much left alone. So it was great. I could be left alone, catch up on audio books AND get paid for the privilege of doing a job I didn’t hate.  By September of that year I’d had a promotion and was now on a HELL of a lot more money that I had been in the previous job AND I was now entitled to work from home if I wanted. which would come in handy for what was going to happen next.

My partner y’see had not been doing too well…in her last year of university she suffered a breakdown and had had to drop out of university to recover. Only she didn’t have a family home to go back to and we were in the process of saving for a home of our own. So she ended up sofa surfing for a while eventually winding up back at her old lodgers house where her mental health had deteriorated rapidly. By August of 2018 she was in a very bad place and needed to get her own space. This came in the form of a supported housing project in which she was given her own flat and a support worker who would make sure she was doing alright and could get back on her feet. Unfortunately she continued to deteriorate until by September she was deeply. Deeply unwell and required both myself and her support worker to support her. The working from home allowed me to do this (Something that would have been absolutely out of the question in my old job…) and on at least half a dozen occasions that ability quite literally saved my partners life. Because of how fragile she had been during this time I had to stop doing pretty much everything. I cobbled together what I could for my youtube channel to make sure I could get to the end of the year and not just stop making videos abruptly, and spent my time running between my house, her flat and the hospital. It was fucking grim to say the least. I didn’t get to spend the end of 2018 with my partner as she was in the hospital and wasn’t allowed visitors.

2019 started much the same way, my partner was still unwell, I was beginning to strain to keep up with the demand of making sure she was alright while also holding down a job AND I began to worry about what I was going to do with my youtube channel. And to make matters worse due to an error within HR. my company mistakenly made my redundant in February of that year. apparently my job title hadn’t changed on the internal systems meaning I was still listed in the job I had before I got promoted. I was manning a quite critical part of the business when this happened and at first no one listened to me when I told them there must have been a mistake, that is until my manager spoke up and then they realised something had gone wrong. They couldn’t just undo the redundancy however as all the paperwork had been arranged and things had to be processed before thay could be re-processed. So I was told that they effectively didn’t know what was going to happen to me. all they could advise was that I hold tight for 6 months while things got sorted out. then my manager got made redundant. Then the team who got me made redundant got made redundant and basically I spent from February till about September of this year without a Scooby doo as to exactly where I stood and what was happening with my position. At this point I’ve been told Im now safe, but that my contract needs completely rewriting to bring it up to date. Theres no ETA on when that’s going to happen. But that, barring major incident Im not going anywhere any time soon.

(Things picked up towards the years end and hopefully they will continue to do so.)

It’s been a turbulent time for my partner as well, she was in a bad way till about May time when there finally came a bit of a calm. She’s still up and down now mentally but for the most part at least she seems in control of her situation. If not vying towards the precarious. I don’t know whats going to happen to her. But for now she’s more stable than she’s been in months and I hope this lasts as long as possible.

Equally in February of 2019 we adopted a cat together. Her name is Zelda and she’s perfect. I wish you could meet her dear reader as im sure you would agree. 2019 would also be the year I would propose to my partner. After 7 years of us both thinking the other wasn’t interested in marriage. In 2018 we got very drunk and actually spoke about it. and when we sobered up in the morning. We were both still interested I asked her then and she said yes. So while on literally the worst holiday I’ve ever been on in my life (Seriously if you ever meet me in real life feel free to ask me about this. It was Fucking awful) 12 months on from that discussion I finally asked her with a ring. And she didn’t turn me down. So y’know what? fair play to her naturally im over the moon that she’s tolerated me for this long!.We have no plans for a wedding just yet as we’re still trying to get a house sorted out. but we’ll take things one step at a time.

(You bet your sweet bippy she did!)

And so we arrive at the present day. I’ve been working hard on season 7 of the show which is looking likely to go out in the first week of March 2020 I’ve done 10 episodes out of 16 or 17, I recently sat down with Ben to do 2 new comedy dining experiences which will be a hell of a laugh to edit I can tell you now. and for the last 3 weeks I’ve been on Annual leave from work, watching movies and running round like a headless chicken trying to please everyone in both mine and my partners families. Its been very stressful but then Christmas usually is. Personally im considering booking another holiday as soon as possible! theres a lot of possibility on the horizon over the next decade. And shits looking bleaker than it’s ever looked before in terms of politics and media. So all I can say is. If this last decades taught me anything. It’s seize the day, enjoy every minute you can get. Don’t cow tow to people who are clearly wrong. Admit your mistakes and no matter how weird, out there or fucked up you think your being.

Theres always someone out there who’ll appreciate you for who you are and what you do. Never be disheartened by dismissal. Because things DO work out. even if it isn’t the way you were expecting. I started the decade alone, emotionally damaged, poor and isolated. Im ending it with a fiancé, a cat, a best friend, a circle of close friends and acquaintances, awards and acknowledgement, a drivers license and a job I enjoy. I have goals, I have direction, and in 2 and a bit years I’ve grown a youtube channel about bad movies, art house films and the kind of stuff you find in a bargain bin from 0 to 250 subscribers (And I’ve made some damn fine friends in the process) I hope that the good things continue and the bad things are lessened. And I hope the same happens for you too… It’s now 5:35am and I have a new years eve party to attend later tonight. One of the few parties I’ve ever chosen to go to (due to the aforementioned pub man lifestyle) so Im looking forward to it. I wish you all a happy 2020 and I really hope the next decade is as kind as it will allow.

Im going to leave you below with a list of 10 films I saw this decade that either blew my mind or have personal sentimental value to me. They arnt specific to this decade…they’re just films I’ve seen this decade:

*House (Hasu) (1977)

*The Wicker man (1973)

*Robocop (1988)

*Bloody New Year (1987)

*Head (1968)

*Day of the Dead (1985)

*All Ladies do it (1992)

*Doctor Strangelove (1964)

*Theatre of Blood (1973)

*Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide (2010)

– Dan

(This is the last song I’ve fallen in love with this decade. Also; this was the decade I fell in love with Itallian Synth/Discopop. I hope you like it too.)

So You’ve Ruined Your Life: A Guide to Terrible Cinema And How You Can Avoid It (By Embracing It) – Part 2: The Atomic Age

So…the 1930’s happened. It was a relatively quiet year…not much happened…there was a little bit of tension in Europe but things quietened down quite quickly (Some things never change)…World War 2 pretty much decimated the European film industry at the time. What at one point was an incredibly flourishing experimental and creative industry lost almost 50% of its resources over the course of the 2nd world war and countless movies were either destroyed for being deemed “Obscene” by both sides of the battlefield or halted due to the ongoing conflict. The result of the conflict had only one “Winner” from a filmmaking perspective really. The US, who used their several years not being involved in the war growing and firmly rooting their time into an industry they had started some 20 years prior. Hollywood is a small section of Los Angeles, no longer than16 blocks wide and five blocks high, this tiny piece of land was established in the name of film and film production some time around 1910 and over the following 20 years it would go on to grow one of the most substantial film industries in the world. America hadn’t been directly affected by World war 1. In fact quite the contrary quite a few creatives most likely immigrated into the US around this time to escape the conflict. And through the 20’s this industry would grow and grow and grow. By 1925 American movies were making up to 50% of all foreign film rentals and by the 1930’s Eight studios basically owned Hollywood. Universal, Fox, Paramount, RKO, Loews Incorporated (Part of MGM), Warner Brother, United Artists and Columbia Pictures.

(The “Land” bit fell down…so they took it away…the rest is history.)

All of these studios were fairly well known for each having a genre that they excelled at and largely stuck to. Universal for example was seen as a Horror Studio, RKO was known initially for musicals before branching out more into fantasy and Sci-fi and so on. There was however a growing issue. The film industry was running the risk of becoming quite insular and there was a growing concern that there may come a time where noone outside of those 8 film studios would be able to successfully market their film. While it wasn’t quite an anti-competitive environment…if you weren’t one of the “Big Eight” and were planning on having any success outside of your town in filmmaking…you’d might as well not bother at this time. There was equally an even bigger concern that through various backroom dealings, these big companies may eventually merge. Effectively creating one “Super company” that would have complete and total power and influence over the market. And while the US loves them some capitalism. They’re generally petrified of the idea of a single company owning close to 100% of all assets in one particular industry (As well they should).

(Theres a love for Capitalism…but not TOO much capitalism…and a hatred for sharing…I dont get it either…)

Equally their was a growing call for more regulation around the content of films themselves as the industry had slowly been edging closer and closer to more and more edgier content designed to shock, disgust or nauseate audiences. because of this in 1930 “The Hays Code” was introduced to predominantly stop the possible intervention of the government in enforcing their own brand of regulation on the industry. It was technically entirely voluntary but the oligopoly of studios quickly adapted the code as a means of keeping those reactionary pressure groups and the government at bay. The code was pretty broad and unclear. There wasn’t anything specifically “Banned” but it was effectively a set of guidelines that covered the basics (No on screen sex, no drug use on screen, no gore or heavy blood, no profanity etc…) the code was in effect until 1966 and quite nicely cuts across the decades we’ll be covering today.

Both the 1940’s and 1950’s would effectively be dominated by 2 major events, the strict regulation on competition laws within cinema itself and the rise of science fiction/horror films. And the former is probably the best place to start. As mentioned earlier from the mid 20’s to the mid 30’s the Hollywood system was basically “If you arnt part of the Big 8, don’t bother”. You might think that’s a bit of a defeatist attitude but the reality is that even if you made your film in this time, there wasn’t any way outside of being incredibly chummy with someone who owned a cinema for your film to ever be screened anywhere because of a practice largely known as “Block Booking”. Y’see a few of these big 8 owned the cinemas that their films played in. So only their films played there. And the studios that didn’t own their own cinemas? (Or didn’t own a lot of cinemas) they’d simply “Block book” out a cinema almost indefinitely with their films to stop other companies taking their patch. Effectively they’d pay up front to book out every screen of every cinema sometimes taking entire chains. Just to screen their own movies for infinite periods of time. Had MGM not owned a cinema chain they would realistically just pay all the cinemas within a certain strategic distance to only play their movies sight unseen. Blocking out any competition and keeping their movies more profitable over the competitions. You might see this as being a bit unfair…and so did the US department of Justice.  In 1938 the issue became so bad that the department of justice sued all 8 major studios for the practice which was settled on a “Gentlemens agreement” in 1940…the studios did what all studios do the moment something isnt hard legislated though and threw that “Gentlemens agreement” straight into the trash. And while they did sort of reduce their amount of block booking, the agreement suggested that no block booking should take place at all…it would be a bit like promising your flatmate you weren’t going to eat his food anymore, eating all his food. But when he confronts you about it claiming “Well hay! I left you some milk for your cereal!…assuming you had any cereal left…”

(You cant like…OWN food that grew in the ground man…)

 

This weakening of guidelines did have the benefit of allowing some films to finally start slipping through the cracks. Some re-edited in the form of serialisations and others in an actual full length feature format. As you can well imagine this slight creaking open of the door inevitably cause the splurge of more “Independent” features shoot through the cracks…some pretty decent…others…not so much. The so called “Poverty Row” were the groups best suited to come out of this agreement in the best light. They we’re a small conglomerate of B-movie and lower budget production studios desperately trying to make big money but forever held back by the studio system of the time and the general fact that the majority of their crews and castings were misfits. Wannabe scriptwriters, directors with a “Vision” actors who thought they were Betty davis when in reality they were more Weird Al. Poverty row was a fairly shortlived concept but in that moment between 1938 and 1948 they were in their element. Producing such classics as “The Mad Monster” which was basically a poundland rip off of the wolfman with non of the charm and about 1/10th of the visual creativity. Or “White zombie” a film starring Bela Lugosi only 1 year after he defined the vampire Genre with Dracula playing a Haitian zombie master who can resurrect the dead, who decides he wants to kill a woman and bring her back to life to be his forever alive wife…yeh things got a bit weird sometimes on Poverty row.

(An Example of Poverty Row…Small and mighty)

These films were usually personified by cheap sets, bad actors and ropey editing, cheap and quick filmmaking where studios were constantly in a state of Pop-up and decline. But for that 10 year gap they were making serious cash. But that all came to an end when paramount (a long time member of the now rechristened “Big Five”) was sued formally by the USDJ for once again flouting the rules on block booking. And in a historic ruling it was finally written into law that film studios were now not allowed to just blind block book out entire chains of cinemas solely for the screening of their movies. That any cinema screening films must have at least 2 distributors under there books at any one time, that discrimination against smaller film companies was to be outlawed, and that screening schedules must be uniform so as not to allow some theatres to be bribed with premiers over others.

(And 8 became 5…)

This was both the make and break of Poverty row. On the one hand it effectively gave them free reign to put any of there content into cinemas. On the other it quickly bought the success of these schlocky B-movies to the attention of the Big Five who realised they could make a small fortune in producing smaller, better quality horror/scifi films in the vein of these B-movies for a fraction of the effort and cost. This in turn birthed what is probably the most famous era of B-movie filmmaking in the history of cinema. The age of the Creature Feature.

While the term “Creature Feature” wouldn’t be coined for at least 2 decades beyond when the era actually started (It was also referred to “The Atomic Age” because of the overuse of Nuclear materials as a means of creating said creatures) it came to stand for a swathe of films released in the 1940’s and 50’s that ranged from supersized animals, to abominations, to people transforming into creatures. (What would later morph into the Cronenbergian nightmare subgenre of Body horror). this included films like; “Man Made monster”, “The Wolf Man”, “Them!”, “The Thing from another world”,  “The Blob”, “Tarantula”, “The Deadly Mantis”, “The Fly”, “The Crawling eye”, “The Black Scorpion” and “Attack of the Giant Leeches” the list literally runs into the hundreds of titles. And about 90% of them could be summed up as follows. “A scientist has a plan to make the world a better place by developing a chemical or technology that in theory will solve a major ecological crisis. Something goes wrong with the chemical/machine and an animal or human cells are caught in the crossfire resulting in either a giant or mutated version of said animal/human destroying everything in it’s path until it’s either taken down by the army of dies of it’s own self inflicted injuries”. This also usually involved a hell of a lot of back projection to make these creature look massive, or in the case of a human prosthetics to make them look hideously mutated. If it isnt a scientist working for the benefit of mankind, then it’s a mad scientist looking for revenge on mankind of shunning his idea of wanting to create a 90 foot spider or a half man half Wotsit hybrid.

(Sort of…)

Its important to appreciate that there was a very narrow window of a few years where these movies transitioned very quickly from “Genuinely impressive must see cinema” to “Oh jesus how bad can these films get!?” nightmares. And it was simply due to repetition. Too many people making exactly the same film but with varying effects budgets and different types of animals. It’s an important takeaway in the film industry. I always try to live by the motto of scriptwriter Terrance Dicks who said “You can have an original idea; but it need’nt be YOUR original idea” but you also need to be aware of your surroundings when living by that rule. It’s fine to make an action movie, or a mafia film, or an emotional experimental black and white art housefilm dubbed onto tape for realism…but if your doing that at a time when those genres are being made by literally absolutely everyone else (And yes. I am talking everyone outside of this university campus as well) then your touching attempt at making a powerful impact on your audience will land about as well as an egg to the face of a minister. I always encourage film makers to look out beyond there “Clicks” their friend circles and actually explore what other university film makers, what other indie film makers are making. And then avoid that stuff like the plague unless you can genuinely improve on those ideas. Because if you cant (And it’s typically very unlikely that you can) your film will be utterly defanged and it just wont land the way you think it will.

(I guarentee one of you at some point in your film making career will make a varient of this)

Poverty Row ended for a mixture of reasons, in part because the big studios realised they could make more money by just making marginally better versions of films that were originally made by the starving artists of the Hollywood system and in part through syndication the row would all but cease to exist by the mid 1960’s due mainly to the films being screened in syndication on television. The row moved into TV and TV movies became the new poverty row of cinema. Something that’s only really started to be corrected in the last 10-15 years really. But we’ll get to TV movies another time because we’re already pushing our luck here and I haven’t even got round to talking yet about what is arguably the best and worst thing that Poverty Row birthed in it’s time.

(This handsome mother lover!)

Edward D. Wood Jr is a name synonymous with bad and cult film making. A poster boy for the age, his movies regularly chart as some of the worst ever made. I would happen to disagree with those polls but hey; everyones a critic these days…Mainstream audiences will probably best know him as the subject of Tim Burtons biopic “Ed Wood”, being played rather eccentrically by Johnny Depp. Now I should be clear; their are much MUCH worse film makers out there. Not just in the modern day but in the past as well. The likes of Coleman Francis, Clark Paylow and even Harold P. Warren would give Wood a run for his money. But Ed was an auteur. And the one thing he had going for him was a ruthless drive to get his films out there to as wide an audience as possible no matter what. Whether it was via exploitation cinema and the likes of his gender identity crisis spectacular “Glen or Glenda” or whether it was marketing his magnum opus “Plan 9 From outer Space” as being the last feature film of Bela Lugosi (Only a half truth as Lugosi is only in the opening minute and a half so of the movie and is then played by doubles for the rest of the film…what a way to go….). If there was an angle that could be taken for low to no money, Ed was the man to take it.

Set’s were mainly cheap wood or cardboard, there was little to no set dressing (A plane cockpit was literally just bowed cardboard, a curtain and 2 bog standard plastic chairs. Not even desk chairs. Just cheap garden chairs.) Let it never be said by anyone (student or otherwise) that you dont have the budget to realise your vision. Ed was doing octopus fights and graveyard based alien invasions with nothing but a few pie plates and a few good people who were genuinely captivated by the enthusiasm of this man.

(While not an “Official” set photo…I’d be surprised if the real Ed wood Didnt pull this face while filming his masterpieces at some point)

I think thats an important lesson to take away from this period of film making if nothing else. Have passion for your film. Genuine passion. If it isnt keeping you awake at night and making you dance between thinking its the best idea in the world and making you a nervous wreck, it’s not worth making. If you develop an idea and your half hearted about it; Bin it. It’ll never be great and by the time you get to shooting you’ll want to cave your skull in out of hatred for it. But if you really truly love something. Even if it’s just the seedling of an idea, it’ll carry you the whole 9 yards and then some. From experience filmmaking has taught me that the best films are made with 2 kinds of energy, absolute enthusiasm, or hatred sought from vengeance. These are the only two energies that seemingly get the job done (And done well) you’re either making your film because you genuinely believe it’s worth it’s existence. Or because you want to prove to someone or something who’s been negative towards you that it’s worth existing and has meaning and value.

Some of the best films I’ve seen have come from those two places, and Ed wood was definitely in the former of those camps. All his films are corney, laughably bad and bordering on the unwatchable in places. But because he genuinely thought these films were worth their existence they possess a quality that half loved or unloved films can never achieve. That kind of positive energy resonates through the film in the direction, the cinematography and the performances. You can almost hear Ed in the background radiating a “This will be the shot they remember me for!” attitude. And thats why his films have lasted in the public consciousness for so long, they’re fun goofy little movies that have a charm all of their own accord.

Rather unfortunately Ed would never experience the adoration that was bestowed to him by cult cinema fans. After Plan 9 he made 2 further mainstream features “The Violent Years” and “Night of the Ghouls” both slightly more grindhousey than his previous works. As if marking the end of an era “Night of the ghouls” was released in 1960 and it was his last attempt at mainstream success in B-movies. While he would try on and off over the next 2 decades to get another chance. It would never come.

(Truely it was the end of an era.)

After “Ghouls” he slowly began to sink into a tide of pornographic direction to make ends meet and alcoholism. Ed died in 1978 due to a heart attack, he was 54 years old. Less than 2 years later Woods “Magnum Opus” “Plan 9 from Outer space” would be voted the “Worst movie ever made” by the founders of what would go on to be “The Golden Turkey Awards” hollywoods most esteemed honour when it comes to terrible film making. In 1986 Wood would feature extensively in the book “Incredibly Strange films” and in the early 90’s MST3K would riff 2 of Woods films to great audience response. The 10 years following woods death would see his entire ouvre re-evaluated and what was at one time unwatchable dross was now loved unwatchable dross…and that changes everything.

(Ed’s last film was found quite recently and has been released on Bluray. I havent seen it yet but I certainly hope to.)

As we see out tonights session Im going to play you Woods Masterpiece “Plan 9 from Outer Space” I’d like you to bear in mind while watching this film that Ed Wood thought this was the movie that would “Make” him. The film that was going to get him the star on the hollywood walk of fame and would set him up for life. And…in some ways he was right. Though probably not in the way he had intended. As always im happy to talk about any of the films mentioned tonight and im also happy to recommend any titles should anyone here be interested in learning more about Ed wood, film makers like Ed wood or the Atomic Age of film making in general. Thank you again all for coming. And Enjoy.

So You’ve Ruined Your Life: A Guide to Terrible Cinema And How You Can Avoid It (By Embracing It) – Part 1: The Silent Age

(So…since around 2013 I have had in mind a series of Lecture “Talks” charting the history of alternative, cult and “Bad” cinema. How through awareness of these often overlooked films that filmmakers and in particular student filmmakers can learn about the pitfalls of film making and in doing so can apply this knowledge to their own work. This year I have decided to publish these talks in a series of volumes with recommended viewings per session. Each of these in an academic context would pool clips for reference and would typically end with a screening of a film reflective of the talk in question. I will try to replicate these as best I can below for reference. Please also bear in mind that a lot of this would be spoken to film students within an educational environment and while not verbatim the below is going to read a lot less like an essay and much more like a script. So here is part 1 , it wont be entirely reflective of the rest of the series but that’s largely because it covers Bad and cult cinema from the 1890’s to 1939. Thank you.)

I want to open with a question just to get a feel for the room. How many people here when trying to justify a film idea to a tutor or lecturer would reference a known terrible movie as the reason why your film should get made?

… (The Assumption would be not many)

Alright…and how many people here when trying to pitch a film idea to your lecturer or tutor would include references to films currently in the cinema or films that have high critical acclaim? Say from magazines like Sight and sound or empire…y’know…good stuff?

…(The Assumption would be quite a few)

Okay. And would you say it was fair to say that if you watch good films, award winning films, that you will learn from those films how to make good movies. Great ones even?

…(The Assumption would be a mixed response as a few people would realize this is probably a trap)

But then…How do you know what exactly quantifies a bad movie?…I only ask because having been to universities and colleges multiple times to work with students on their films to help gain a better understanding of their work, I see the same thing time and time again. Students get so wrapped up in the visuals, the look, the feel of the film. the idea that they want it to be the best it can possibly be. How they strive for perfection and how they’ll sink hundreds (And in one students case who I worked with thousands) of pounds into 4 and 8k cameras, professional actors, the purest of the pure audio recording equipment, just to try and get the cleanest and best possible image. that they don’t stop to consider exactly whether the idea they’re pursuing is even a good one.

You can make a film out of anything. I firmly believe that. Any item, location, person. There’s a film there. A story something to be discovered. But how you approach that discovery can be the make or break of a films success. Modern mainstream cinema is two things. Diverse and homogenised. We are currently living in a time where there has never been more choice in what to watch and yet at the same time everything more or less looks the same. We have entered a period of cinema history where every film that comes out is polished to within an inch of it’s life. has sharp contrasting colours, is mainly shot in front of green screens and the emphasis has been levied on a “Fix it in post” culture wherein by filming things wide, flat and in the mutest of colour profiles the entire film can be both physically and emotionally constructed in the edit. It’s processed film making. And outside of the fringe film-makers. The people who are literally one man bands or who manage tiny indie productions. People who can rarely score a local cinema screening letalone a national one for there independent release. The industry seems to feel that this processed method is the best way to make movies that make money and keep costs down.

Theres a reasonable chance that the people sat here tonight are predominantly producing films based on this processed diet. That is to say, your scope of the film making landscape extends to films that have played nationally in cinemas and maybe one or two “Safe” out there films like “Baby Driver”, “Mandy” or “The Neon Demon”. That’s fine. Im not going to judge you…but you should all be ashamed of yourselves…Im joking…im not joking. it’s clearly a safer option to assemble your film in post over running the risk of trying something new and it potentially going wrong on set. I can practically hear some of you right now thinking “It’s all well and good telling us that…but it’s my degree thats on the line with these productions” and thats fine. I get that. what I do need to say though is that, making mistakes is useful. it teaches us not to do them again, it also makes us think about the processes we do in filmmaking completely differently and may even lead to a new and even better idea than we had previously.

I love bad films. I love cult films. the two arnt strictly the same thing. you can have cult movies that are absolutely astoundingly good. And you can have bad movies that even I wont touch with a ten foot pole. As a film student many years ago I found myself a bit adrift to my peers. They were obsessed with perfection and terrified of failure. Unless it was HD they didn’t want to know. If it was older than 12 months without attaining “Classic!” status they pretty much weren’t interested. Myself? Well I and my flatmate at the time who also studied film wanted schlock. We wanted awfulness. We watched some of the worst movies ever made during our time at university, purposefully and with intent to learn. At the time we saw students on the verge of bankruptcy if not a full mental breakdowns due to the stress of striving for that perfection. This wasn’t what film making should be about. Film making should be a fun experience. A beneficial experience. Something that while stressful to organize should be relaxing to shoot.

When I made my films lecturers were always curious about my references and sources as they were always typically for terrible films. I would always tell them that the best way to describe what I was doing was that while other students were desperately trying to climb an endless ladder spewing money and energy in the process in search of a film they’d probably be unlikely to obtain; I’d pulled out my shovel and I was digging down to see how deep the ladder was buried. And I had a blast doing that. Naturally when digging you tend to find odd things and some were very useful…not everything…but some things were…and one of the gateways to help me get a foothold on what I affectionately call good/bad cinema? Was Mystery Science Theatre.

Mystery Science Theatre 3000 or MST3K for short was a series that ran from 1988 until 1999 in the US before being cancelled until 2015 when Netflix revived it. it’s still running to this day and if you want to dip your toe into the ocean of utter trash that’s been released over the years. This would probably be your gentlest way. The series which originally aired on public access television straight out of Minnesota has a very simple premise. A janitor for a generic company who’s pretty easy going, is kidnapped by his bosses and blasted into space aboard a ship fitted with a cinema of which he becomes an unwilling test subject in an attempt to weaponised bad movies to break the will of the people of earth over which the bosses would rule as overlords.  Stay with me…the janitor however is able to remove some of the parts from the ships projector. The ones that let him play, stop or fast forward the movie. And with those parts he builds himself several robot friends who help him keep his sanity by poking fun at the films and acting as a bit of a make shift family. Much to the annoyance of the bosses.

Still with me? it sounds ridiculous but I assure you it’s one of the best ways to get a foot hold on the world of bad movies if your new to these things. The original run covered films dating back as far as the 1930’s and as recent as the 1990’s. the current series has films as recent as 2016. The writers are fantastically sharp, the jokes are funny and the films are indeed some of the worst ever produced (As a reference point I highly recommend: “Rocket Attack U.S.A”, “Manos: The Hands of Fate”, “Hobgoblins” and “Cry Wilderness” if you want a good starting point on these) theres over 200 films covered by these guys and they’re a really great resource for learning about terrible film makers like Coleman Francis, Bill Rebane and Sam Newfield. But I digress.

Why should you care about bad movies? Well. My reasoning is that if you only watch good movies you’ll only learn how to make movies that conform to whatever the societal construct of “Good” at the time actually is. And in effect you wont actually be making a good film you’ll actually be making a bland but visually nice and appropriate for the time film. I want to help you break that mold. By watching bad and underappreaciated movies not only will you balance your film diet but it’s hoped that you’ll learn something ultimately much more important. How to avoid the pitfalls of trying to make a good film and ending up with a bad…or worse. Bland film. by seeing and understanding how a film maker can go so wrong even if it was intended as their shining masterpiece you should *In Theory* be able to recognise when you yourself are going or are about to go down a very dangerous path to mediocrity and failure. consider me your guide on this journey. My word isn’t gospel and there will be people who will disagree with me about what I will say through this series. So do bear in mind that these are my own observations and opinions and if you don’t agree with me. that’s absolutely fine. I will hang around after the screening to chat about anything you want to question or discuss.

The first distinction we need to draw here is what makes a film “Bad” and what makes a film “Cult” over this series I’ll be talking about both films interchangeably so getting the definitions from my perspective here right is pretty crucial as I don’t want to mislead any of you at any point. A Cult film isn’t necessarily a bad film. All cult really means ultimately is that it appeals to a niche audience. Typically cult films are good. They just don’t tend to follow the modern constraints of mainstream appeal and as a result a much smaller audience appreciate them. cult films can also be enjoyably bad…that is to say so bad they’re entertaining. We’ve all seen a film where an actors hammed a performance, or a cameras cut at just the wrong time or held too long on a shot and it can be funny. Good/bad movies are a cornerstone of cult cinema and as a result they often go hand in hand with just obscure but good cult movies. Bad movies by contrast are not necessarily always cult. Sometimes a bad movie can just be bad. as in. not even enjoyably bad.

Sometimes bad films can be entertainingly bad but still not be cult due simply to just how few people have actually hear or seen them. it means that just because a film is enjoyably bad doesn’t necessarily make it cult and just because a film is often viewed as a cult film doesn’t necessarily mean your automatically going to be viewing something made for 20p and shot in someones back garden. I know this sounds overly vague and not helping matters, all of what I’ve just told you is on a sliding fluid scale. That is to say a film that could be seen as bad for a number of years can ascertain cult status by building up a following over a long period of time. Equally films that were seen as cult in their time can over time just become bad movies. And to throw another curve ball into the mix if a cult film becomes popular enough it can transcend its own cult status and become a mainstream classic. But we’ll get round to examples of all of these in good time. For now it’s just safest for me to say that if I say a movie is a bad movie. Its bad. if I say it’s cult I’ll clarify what I mean by that if needed and so on.

So In order to understand what im on about and to kick all of this off we’ll need to take a trip back to 1920’s to what is widely regarded as the first “Proper” cult film. A film that at one point or another has been in all 3 catagories we’ve talked about. And that film was F.W Murnau’s “Nosforatu: The Symphony of the night”. Before Nosforatu, silent film cinema…and to be fair…cinema in general was in a period of distinct infancy. There were classics in there own right released but in what might come as a bit of a shock to some of you at least 75% of films produced between 1895 and 1936 are missing…AT LEAST. That number is very likely to be higher due simply to the fact that there wasn’t really a comprehensive list of films made around this time and that the records we do have are often riddled with inaccuracies and duplications. As a result while it’s probably fair to say their were bad films during this time. The fact that they either no longer exist or are presumed to no longer exist and that their isn’t really any records of reviews of these films to back them up kind of make them a moot point. Bad films in this period however can kind of be a bit more forgiven. The craft of film making was literally just beginning with a  lot of it’s influence carried across from theatre. The earliest films were usually quite literally just recorded stage shows or recordings of life at that time. And the actual full feature films that were produced were often just adaptations of these stage recordings utilizing actual locations instead of sets. They were still directed as theatre productions and it was rare to see films utilize shot setups, or advanced direction/cinematography.

Nosforatu in the modern day is widely regarded as a legendary classic that bought the Bram stoker novel Dracula to the big screen for the first time. However on it’s actual release it was widely regarded as an absolutely interminable boring watch. Critics at the time complained the film was way too long and soon after it’s release a lawsuit from the stoker estate effectively saw the film banned and copies of the film set by court order to be destroyed. Luckily for Nosforatu by the time of the court injunction prints of the film had already been sent to several countries worldwide and when the film hit france…while the critics of the time still disliked the film. it was tremendously well received by the French surrealist movement and members of the counter culture. Who held it up as an icon of what would develop into the German expressionist movement. As a result Nosforatu is widely regarded as being the first “Cult” film. it found it’s niche audience and because of this it was able to survive the court destruction order. With fans across the world producing dozens and dozens of copies and hiding them in the hope of preserving it’s legacy.

Today Nosforatu is held up as an example of a classic of the silent era. Widely adored by critics and still shown at screenings around the world. It’s an impressive film. the critics of the time were absolutely right, it’s a very long and quite boring film in honesty…im not a fan. But I’d be hard pressed to deny that it was highly revolutionary for it’s time and that had this film not survived the world would be a significantly poorer place for it. heres a clip:

Now; considering how badly this film was reviewed. Even in light of it’s reevaluation. You’d be hard pressed to deny the menace and atmosphere created in that sequence. The striking shadowy shots in the long hallway shot, the fear expressed by Hutter even the colour tinting sets a tone and feel within the film. it’s a beautiful set of shots in an incredibly early example of genuine tension building cinema. And had the film not had the re-evaluation, the slow building of a cult audience. It most likely wouldn’t exist today and as a result a massive amount of films would either not exist or be fundamentally different as a result. The main point im trying to make here is, even films that are considered bad may have moments within them that are actually quite brilliant. and that what makes a film bad today may make it a masterpiece tomorrow. It’s important to keep an open mind with cinema and not to rely too heavily on the promotion of a film to sell you the premise. It was important in the 1920’s and it’s absolutely critical in the 21st century.

Through the 1920’s the german expressionist movement would proceed to dominate the European markets with similarly cultish movies such as “Faust”, “Metropolis” and “The Man Who Laughs” and it’s influence would dictate the style, look and direction of cinema through the decade. While I certainly wouldn’t say “The World Adopted german expressionism” it’s fair to say that young directors and producers around that time were heavily influenced by their styles and stories. In the US in particular these films “Flare” would be adapted quite heavily within horror and science fiction and this would be Crystalised by one studio in particular.

Universal Studios was fairly in it’s infancy at this time having been created in 1912, they quickly tried to establish themselves as the “Horror Studio” in 1923 they released their first “Proper” horror film  an adaptation of “The Hunchback of Notre dame” followed up roughly 2 years later with an adaptation of “The Phantom of the Opera” which was only just over a decade past it’s publication date at this time (Which is a bit weird to think about really). The success of these films would lead universal at the turn of the 1930’s to set in motion plans for a series of films which would change everything. While “The Hunchback” and “The Phantom” are considered universal horror films. it was the “Universal monster movies” series that would cement and secure universal as a major studio power. The 5 films they would release through the 1930’s and early 1940’s (Plus the dozens of sequels to these films they would release from the 1930’s to the 1950’s) set the standard for monster movies that would act as the “High bar of horror and sci-fi” right the way through to the mid 1960’s. films like Dracula, Frankenstein, the invisible man, the wolfman each bought something new and previously unseen to screens. These were at the time however considered “The Mainstream” audiences would flock to see these movies in the same way that audiences go to see the new marvel movie or the latest block busters today.

But while Universal was capitalising on the success of these new monsters, rival company MGM silently released a horror movie which in my opinion; blows all of the universal horror films clean out of the water. A film so shocking that it had to be withdrawn from it’s initial release and shortened to 65 minutes from it’s original 90 minute runtime just for how powerful it was in effecting audiences. This film is the one we will be watching in full tonight. Tod Brownings “Freaks” has been described as “existing in a subgenre of one” and it’s fair to say that you will most likely never see a film quite like this again. The big selling point of this film at the time (And…sort of today as well really) was that the cast was more or less entirely made up of heavily deformed, disabled or afflicted actors. The plot: a horrifically cruel hearted tale of a trapeze artist known as Cleopatra who seduces and marries a dwarf called Hanz who secretly owns a large fortune, with the aim of killing Hanz with the help of a strongman called Hercules. Im not going to say anymore than this until the film is over. but even in the 21st century I would consider this film fairly shocking still.

Unsurprisingly the film garnered incredibly negative reception in both its cut and uncut form from audiences and critics alike. It more or less killed the career of Tod Browning the man who bought us the Universal “Dracula” amongst other horror gems at the time and was the only MGM film ever to be pulled completely from release before completing it’s domestic engagements. We’re quite privileged really to be able to even view this film tonight. MGM effectively disowned it, selling the rights to the film in 1947 to an exploitation film director who proceeded to run the film through the 1960s, 70’s and 80’s at various midnight movie screenings. The film was banned in the UK for 30 years due to being too exploitative. And im only referring to the cut version here…the original 90 minute cut at this time is considered lost…so lord knows what wider audiences would have made of that version in contrast.

The film never received a VHS release in this country. And a DVD release was quietly shuffled out in the early 2010’s with a couple of extra features explaining why a third of the film is missing. There is no Bluray of this film available. Though it Is currently in my top 5 films I would love to see get a full remastering. It’s not a perfect movie. but I very much doubt you will ever see any kind of film from this period look and feel the way this one does. But that’s enough Hyperbole for now. lets get started:

Now; Im not expecting everyone to have loved that film. Quite a few people will be offended by that film. but that’s good. Its okay to be offended by films. its okay to think this film was rubbish. Im hoping that after this you will all go out…maybe to a pub or coffee shop, or even just on the ride home, and talk about what you’ve just seen. Explain why you thought it was offensive, why you thought it was rubbish. Or if you thought it was brilliant like I do that you talk about why you thought it was brilliant.

Theres plenty to take away from this film. the ending in and of itself at the time would have been seen as utterly horrific but by modern standards has almost a streak of black comedy running through it. the idea that Cleopatra ultimately ends up becoming the one thing that terrifies her the most. The one thing she spends most of the film ridiculing is satisfying but at the same time quite a harsh contrast to a film that does have a lot of merriment about it. it could be argued that the title “Freaks” is an offensive title given the castings. But I would argue that the film is actually an act of wordplay. With the afflicted cast in this picture actually showing more humanity about them than non afflicted members who in many ways are the “Real” Freaks of the feature. Indeed Hanz and his fellow performers have depth, character detail and actually run a spectrum of complex emotions that really is very unusual for the time in cinema of this era. it acts to shine a light on decency and humanity. It would be easy to dismiss this film as exploitation on a surface level. But even digging remotely deeper below the surface unveils a quite complex script and Brownings direction only enhances some of these elements without being overly handholdy.

If you want an example of genuine exploitation 6 years later in 1938 Sam Newfield would release “The Terror of Tiny Town” which was basically a western script that no studio wanted that was eventually picked up purely because Sam and his writing partner Fred Myton repitched the fill with the exact same plot but suggested that it be filmed with an all dwarf cast. With mini Shetland ponies standing in for full size horses and scaled down sets. That’s a real film. im not making that up and it’s one of the most genuinely offensive exploitation films ever made.

The difference seemingly here was the scripts way of relating to the cast in “Freaks” and “A terror in tiny town” with the formers script being adapted from a short which puts the disabled cast in such a light that portrays them as human. That actually gives them human qualities and doesn’t try necessarily to portray them as weird, evil or one dimensional. And the latter instead doing the opposite. Taking a generic script and turning it into a film purely through it being a spectacle to see the disabled cast members act in the film. in many ways turning it into a sideshow (Which is ironic given the former is more endearing to the cast and is LITERALLY set in a sideshow)

Freaks was a film ahead of it’s time. Had it been made 10 years later it probably would exist in full to this day and would also probably have had much less of an impact. Through the rest of the 30’s horror and science fiction would be released in the dozens year on year and would gradually become a staple of the film industry it was around this time that the idea of a “cult audience” was initially developed, As films that didn’t necessarily do as well as they could have (produced by the likes of RKO and other smaller film companies) would attain small but reliable followings. The decade would see the release of fantasy movies like “King kong” scifi movies like the “Flash Gordon” B-pictures  and towards the end of the decade horror would be firmly run into the ground with films like “The Phantom Creeps” illustrating exactly why “Just because Hollywood could, doesn’t necessarily mean is should” but in the 1940’s B-movie and cult cinema would continue even further down the rabbit hole. And in the next session we will be taking a look at the gradual collapse of some aspects of the film industry and the seeds being sowed for the rise of a new genre of film making and film makers.

All of the films I have spoken about today I would highly recommend you seek out, they’re all worth watching. Even if I haven’t been particularly favourable about them, because at best they’ll challenged your pre-existing thoughts on how cinema should behave and at worst you’ll waste 90 minutes of your time and probably laugh at least a couple of times at the absurdity of them in the process. As always im happy to answer any questions or offer additional recommendations should you wish to explore this era further. And I hope to see you all again soon. Thank you.

We’re all going to Die!!! – Part 2

With the European elections literally upon us I thought I’d take the opportunity to do a blow by blow through the political parties give my own political opinion on those parties and then finish off by telling how im most likely to vote (Given the availability of candidates in my area).

I’m in a bit of a difficult period of my life politically…not in terms of my affiliation. That’s easy. I would describe myself as a Left winger without a doubt. The difficulty arises in just how left wing I think I actually am. I first got into politics in the early 2000’s and having grown up in the north of England to a working class mother and a disabled but previously hard working father you’d think that they’d have drilled an affiliation into me from the off. And yet surprisingly they left me to find my own way for the most part. Which was kind of them though In hindsight I realize this is probably due to the fact that myself and they grew up around the arrival and departure of John major and the Rise of Blair and that, my parents having been raised to believe that the Labour party represented the people, had fallen for the Blair “Razzle Dazzle” hook line and sinker. And subsequently when the Iraq war happened they simply became disillusioned with politics on the whole and apart from the occasional Thatcher kicking never bothered to talk about it around me…

I would say I first properly became a fully active participant around  a year before the 2010 elections. Before that I’d been aware of politics…I’d followed it fleetingly and I knew the people I liked and the people I didn’t. it was the 2010 elections that set me into action because at the time the conservatives had a good chance of getting in and due to what knowledge I had at the time I knew if they did get in it would be a hell of time before they got out again (10 years and counting!) at the time I was still in latter day education but I tried my best to speak to as many people as I could about the dangers of voting conservative. There was a sweet girl I knew back then and her words rang like a death toll for me when I spoke to her about it. I asked her who she was going to vote for and she said “Im voting for the conservatives, they’re brilliant” I tried in vein to convince her otherwise…at the time I felt like I was living in a remake of “They Live” but instead of it being aliens it was bastards. Honestly I think it’s been a slow decline from there really…

I agreed with Kinnock at the time, I agreed with Blair for the most part at the time (Unaware of exactly what happened RE: Iraq until well after the fact) Brown I agreed with to a point, Milliband I considered radical. And I liked it…and then. There was Corbyn. And it was a bit like someone had pulled back the curtain to reveal a ton of options that had never been properly on the table before. It wasn’t so much that they were original ideas strictly…but they were policies that had only previously been offered by fringe groups, to hear it not only on the main political stage but that it was a viable option that had been costed and could equally actually be executed was like someone had connected directly with how I had been feeling. For years I’d voted either Labour or Green depending on who was standing or what atrocious acts were being committed. After Corbyn, I’ve been exclusively Labour.

At current I think I’d stop short of declaring myself an out and out socialist…I feel that’s a level of political affiliation that’s achieved rather proclaimed. And to that end I wouldn’t say I was a communist (Though I have been accused of that before now by a few people) I think Im quite far to the left…but I just cant quantify exactly where…I don’t know where my political identity properly sits at the minute…but honestly I don’t feel im really alone in feeling that way these days.

That leads us nicely into the European elections. For roughly 20 years we’ve utterly ignored it and now it’s come back to bite us on the arse like the crack in the side of our house we’ve been neglecting to the point that the house is on the verge of collapse. This ones quite an important one as it’s the last chance that the general public will have (Outside of a general election or a 2nd referendum) to tell the government and Europe at large exactly what we as the UK would like to happen in terms of our relationship with them both in the short and long term. So with that in mind I thought I’d pop my thoughts here both as a snapshot of my own thoughts at this time for reference (Because I cherish these so.) but also for anyone who would care what a random person on the internet thinks about the current shower of shite to grace our political spectrum. Im going to work from right to left because I feel that I have some bile I can spew right away that if I wait till the end of this blog may have dissipated by then. So!

 

(Oh yeh…this is going to be a musical journey)

UKIP: 12 months ago UKIP were dead. A party that was uninteresting until Nigel Farage got involved with them has now become the bannermen for the nastiest, vitriolic and cuntish kind to ever scar the face of this once beautiful land. This is in part due to Farage apparently being the lesser of two evils. Realising that racists, bigots and misogynists don’t often win the support of the majority, while he was never able to fully reign in the bastard force he was able to manage it better than anyone before or after him. When he left it created a power vacuum which has seemingly been filled by Ex-EDL member and all round Twunt Tommy Robinson who’s harnessed his connections within social media to pack the party full of uneducated and woefully pretentious youtube and twitter celebricunts such as Count dankula and Carl Benjamin (A.K.A: Sargon) in many ways I don’t know whats worse really that the party was dead 12 months ago and has somehow pulled itself back from the brink…or that it’s been able to pull itself back from the brink by filling itself with Xenephobes and White nationalists. Either way I sure as hell wont be voting for them. and unless I suffer an extremely severe brain injury that renders me incompetent I’ll be unlikely ever to. theres literally no incentive to vote for UKIP in these elections because…

 

The Brexit Party:  You’d think with a name like that I’d have put this on the furthest end of the right wing spectrum. But in all honesty from what experiences I’ve had with speaking from people affiliated with this party…they seem confused more than anything else. Genuinely their plans for what they want to do when they seize power seem to consist of:

Step 1: Get in power, leave with no deal ASAP.

Step 2: ???

Step 3: 1940’s Cockney Knees Up around the Johanna.

Which is funny because the EU elections will have almost 0 influence over Brexit and even less impact over the day to day legislation of this country…It mainly seems to be a protest vote party…and in much the same way that UKIP was destroyed the day the referendum result came in in their favour it’s fair to say that should this party get anything close to what it wants (Which is basically leave and nothing else)  that it too will be destroyed. Farage is once again working his magic to hide most of the more sordid elements of racism within this party (Its not really all that successful)

 

(This was arguably the weirdest thing I’ve seen in a very long time…let that sink in for a minute)

but they are (As of the time of writing) the most likely to win (Though I don’t think it’ll be quite the landslide people think it’ll be) and so theres a very real chance the message being sent to the EU from here would be a firm “We want out” which could prove quite unfortunate…

The Conservatives: They’re fucked. Right and royally fucked. As the government they’ve overseen some of the biggest falls in standards of living since wartime, they’ve killed thousands of people through cruel benefits means testing and embarrassing assessments (Both me and my partner have both been the victims of) and they’ve spent the last 3 years pissing up a wall and blaming everyone else for mistakes that they themselves are solely responsible for… and that’s only 2 of the many many many devastating things they’re personally responsible for over their 10 year rawdogging of the british public. We’re a country on the verge of collapse and it’s solely their fault. Anyone who supports them at this point is a cunt, deluded , selfish or so detached from politics that they literally don’t know it’s the tories that’ve been damaging the country beyond repair…which…if that’s the case…they probably shouldn’t be voting in the first place.

Change UK: So a few disgruntled Ex-Labour MP’s decided they wanted to try and dust of Blairism 2.0 and now we have this party…they have no policies (Other than they want to remain in the EU and they don’t like Jeremy Corbyn) they barely have a social media presence due to several issues with trying to secure their own name. and they don’t yet really stand for anything…I put them here purely because we don’t know what they stand for, they’re clearly not happy with a strong left wing ideology and they seem quite content with the center ground…it doesn’t help that the majority of their membership is made up of disgruntled tory MP’s who don’t like the conservatives current plan of just trying to leave with any deal they can muster.

The Liberal Democrats: pre their collaboration with the conservatives I almost considered voting for these shower of bastards at least once…then the coalition happened. Then the tripling of student fees happened, then the hollowness of all the things they promised for the last 2 elections happened…then Tim Farrow happened…then Vince “Mr. Burns” Cable happened…and finally then in 2017 the rampant attempt to demonise the labour party by any means necessary happened…and now I honestly have no feelings for the Lib Dems in any way shape for form. They’re nothing to me. they’ll always be nothing to me and I almost certainly will never vote for them for as long as I draw breath. In a twist similar to the Brexit party they’re seemingly running on a single platform which is to revoke article 50 and cancel Brexit. Which…I mean, is more in line with my own beliefs to a point. But then in the same breath they’ve said they’d happily form a coalition with the conservatives again over labour if they had the chance…so Fuck’em.

The SNP: I mentioned in my last blog that I Didn’t really know where the SNP stood…and that’s probably with good reason…I live in the north of England, I’ve never voted for an SNP candidate and frankly unless I move further north Im unlikely to ever vote for one. They’re a Scottish only party…so what I see and hear from them tends to be reported to me via English journalism…which more often than not describes them as “Tartan Tories”  they seem somewhat more sincere than the conservatives and do genuinely seem to be striving for things that will make Scotland a better place on the whole…though quite how convicted they are to those decisions I susppose no one will really know until they get anywhere near a wider scale of power…So honestly…I don’t know…I don’t 100% trust them, they have a lot of good ideas…but I trust them more than any of them jizz weasles that I’ve mentioned so far.

Plaid Cymru: I have literally no idea…Literally haven’t the foggiest we here in England only ever hear from these lot during election  season and quite honestly non of the representatives I’ve seen have ever been charismatic enough to leave a lasting impression…they just seem like a fairly mild mannered inoffensive party…I don’t distrust them…but I don’t know enough about them to make a call on them in any way shape or form…they’re a gray party in every sense of the word. (for similar reasons I’ll be missing out the DUP and Sinn Fein…only the DUP are a bunch of absolute fucks)

The Labour Party: Currently paralysed by the mercy of it’s leader the labour party is in a mixed place right now. the majority of labour party members want at minimum a 2nd referendum on Brexit and at most it’s revocation. The leadership however is stuck in a game to try and maintain it’s strong leave base in the north with it’s strong remain base in the south. There are elements of Brexit that would suit a socialist agenda (Predominantly centred around the idea of re-nationalisation of public utilities) As a result it’s come across as a bit half hearted…even though realistically the idea of playing the long game to find out exactly what the best port of call in dealing with this is seems like the most sensible option. Not helping matters the party is still in the midst of Soul searching as a result of years of “New Labour” changes the party is full of Center left people when the parties front bench is considerably more left wing…as a result theres a healthy back catalogue of incidents of infighting and anti-semitism aligations (Some of which I must stress are actually true) that have allowed the party to appear to many as incompetent…I will concede this party has had problems over the last couple of years. Though at the same time I do distinctly feel like it’s moving in the right direction overall…it needs a few firmer stances but ultimately I think they’re the most realistic choices out of everyone I’ve mentioned so far to be votable.

The Green Party: Probably the most left wing group that has any chance of making gains in this election and usually my fallback vote when the entire systems been fucked. the greens are a sensible and fairly rational choice. They have decent leadership  though while I agree with most of their policies that I’ve heard so far. I wouldn’t be the first person to accuse them of maybe being a bit fanciful in their requests…not that they’re wrong in what they want to do. Quite a lot of what they’ve suggested would improve the planet, peoples lives and improve our preservation rates…I just think trying to ask our current crop of people to make the adjustments needed to meet their policies just wont realistically happen. I have voted for them in past and I never say never…unfortunately in my area they very rarely field these candidates…though they’re always a safe 2nd option whenever they do field.

Independents: Fucked if I know mate. They run a full spectrum of actually quite reasonable (But largely untested) candidates who may actually do a pretty good job given the chance, through to absolute lunatics who think that radio signals can be used as a form of mind control…no seriously im not joking…below is the (Genuinely real…as if I could make this shit up…) actual manifesto of the “Abolish the magna carta” party…which ran in 2017…AD.

Our Manifesto is thus:
  • The Unsigned Illegal document, The Magna Carta, will be Abolished.
  • As good business people, our Queen or King will be head of Government and will attend Parliament as required, or as they wish.
  • Abolish Magna Carta, Reinstate Monarchy Party, fully intends to Nationalize and make profitable the Coal Industry, Electricity, Gas, Water, BT, National Lottery, Royal Mail, Post Office, BBC & Railways.
  • Abolish Magna Carta, Reinstate Monarchy will stop All Foreign Aid, and use this money to pay toward the National Debt.
  • Age discrimination will be punished with imprisonment.
  • V.A.T. Returns are time consuming and costly to business. It will be drastically altered along with Import and Export Taxation.
  • Council Tax will be abolished.
  • Unions will be outlawed.
  • Income Tax will be rearranged to make it fair to all and sundry.
  • Employment Law will be reduced to give Employers their right to choose whom they employ and how much each employee is paid.
  • Maternity Pay, Paternity Pay, and Sick Pay will be abolished.
  • Employment linked Pensions will be abolished, and Employees will be encouraged to make their own Retirement Savings Plans.
  • Maternity Leave will not guarantee future employment.
  • Government Pensions will be paid only to those who work and pay National Insurance Contributions.
  • The Workhouse will be reinstated for vulnerable people.
  • Grammar Schools will return. Sex education will be abolished.
  • All Schooling and Education will be paid for by parents.
  • All Police Officers will pass tougher exams before recruitment.
  • Many Royal Mail workers will be recruited from Ex Servicemen.
  • Nuclear Power will be banned.
  • Fracking will incur imprisonment.
  • Laws, Courts, and the Prison Service will be reformed.
  • All Benefits to Asylum Seekers and Immigrants will be stopped, and All will be repatriated back to their country of origin, All other Nations will be encouraged to repatriate their English, Welsh, Irish.
  • Asylum Seekers, Immigrants, Their Ancestors & Descendants will be removed from
  • All Banks, NHS, Government & All Security positions.
  • Human Rights Laws will be abolished.
  • Churchill will be charged with Treason and causing the deaths of thousands of little German School Children when he bombed Dresden.
  • The ethnic origins of All members of Government will be checked.
  • The Israeli terrorist Karl Marx will be charged with Treason and causing the Paris Revolution and the end of the French Monarchy.
  • Blair family Assets will be confiscated & paid to Hussein’s family.
  • Compensation will be paid to Dwarves created by Thalidomide.
  • Dentists, Optitions & Hearing Specialists will be taken out of the NHS. Doctors & Surgeons will have pay reductions, & many restrictions as regards dangerous medications to patients.
  • All child Benefits will be abolished to restrict society burdens.
  • Every Nation on this planet needs Ethnic Cleansing as the terrible Israeli Karl Marx, Winston Churchill, Sigmund Freud, Abu Hamza etc., proves.
  • Radio, TV, Films, Writers & Reporters will be regulated.
  • The Death Penalty for anyone using a Radio Signal to kill or control another human being or animal, except in warfare.
  • All Pornography, Homosexuals, Transvestites etc. will be removed from Films, Plays, Radio, Television etc.
  • Asylum Seekers, Immigrants & their descendents will not be allowed to own or work in any British Radio, TV, Newspaper or Magazine.
  • Asylum Seekers, Immigrants & their descendents will not be allowed to work in any food preparation, Medicine or Pills or Vaccines manufacture or preperation, to prevent sabotage.
  • Chemical Castration for Paedophiles and Murderers.
  • Asylum Seekers & Immigrants, their ancestors & descendents, must not be allowed to assess or check any school, college or university exams in the UK as this may be detrimental to Welsh or English students.
  • All Company Law will be drastically altered in favour of the Employer.
  • Unemployment Benefit claiment time will be cut to a minimum.
  • All disabled parking spaces will be banished.
  • Blue Badges will be obsolete and cancelled.
  • Housing Benefit will be discontinued.
  • All Irish Traveller sites will be closed, and All Irish Travellers, their ancestors and descendents will be repatriated back to Ireland.
  • We will Not sell Arms to other nations.
  • The British Armed Forces will be for our defence of the UK only
    British Armed Forces will Not interfere in other nations disputes.
    The British Armed Forces will Not train other nations in warfare.
  • British Armed Forces can be hired, Payment first, at their discretion, to help in natural disasters, rescues, etc, as they see fit.
  • British Armed Forces will be manned by indigenous English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Nationals only.
  • Judges will no longer be able to promote their friends, colleagues, or favourites to be judges. The vacancies will be applied for as ordinary jobs and an IQ test will be used to assess the suitability of the applicants.
  • Psychiatrists and Mental Health workers will have a higher IQ than the patients they pretend to be superior to.
  • Drug addicts will no longer receive free treatment via the NHS for their addiction.
  • The NHS will be abolished, along with all the scams that go with it.
(Fuck me…)

All I know is I very rarely if ever have ever considered them…and with an exception where one of my relatives ran at my local council I’ve never really voted for any.

So that’s a quite biased but general run through of all the parties I can be bothered to talk about, how will I be voting myself?; Well. It depends on how many candidates im allowed to vote for. Had this been any other type of election I’d have probably put a lot of thought into things and chosen people based on their merits. However; in the current climate tribalism is everything so I’ll most likely be voting Labour straight through in this election. If I can choose multiple candidates and the green party are on there, as a person who voted remain I feel like I may spare a vote for them too, But  i’d say im predominantly labour driven these days. But their stance on Brexit while reasonable does somewhat disagree with my own views which is that we should be trying to stay within Europe at all costs. And while I’ll never vote LibDem…I may be tempted to spare one for the greens because of this.

So happy voting day everyone. I hope you all go out and exercise your democracy in whatever way you see fit. If you dislike my opinions posted here…please remember that they are only my opinions and that im some twat on the internet…so don’t worry about me too much. Just get out this season and vote! And till the next election! I’ll be trying my best to keep my head down and hope this all. Just. stops.

(Yay…Democracy…I guess…)

 

 

We’re all going to Die!? – Part 1

I always debate doing political blogs. I’ve had a few ideas mooching around now for the last few months but ultimately they’ve always come across as a bit malformed or they wernt worth the potential controversy that publishing them would create. Not to mention that this is a Film website that predominantly deals with awful movies. But I am quite politically minded, it plays a part in my life and these blogs tend to be a bit more personal and a bit less filmy…so with that in mind and with the European elections rapidly upon us this seems like as good a time as any to take a general look over the political landscape.

(Speaks for itself)

This will of course be a biased breakdown because I think it’ll make for tremendously boring reading if I just impartially rattle through whats going on. So without further ado!

Overview:

We’re fucked.

Real Overview:

Okay, okay…well…being in the UK is pretty grim right now politically. Since the vote that must not be named In 2016 the media and even our current government have tried their absolute damndest to radicalise the people pressing for us to leave Europe. (Under the guise that those crazy liberals who’ve been ruining everything by being PC now want to press for us to stay in a system that’s taken away your bendy banana’s and want to ban conkers being played in school) While Simultaneously trying to splinter the people who want us to remain part of the European Union via demonization of certain politicians through the media and by giving off the appearance that some parties are “More in favour of remaining than others”.

The combined anarchy of the rabid frothing masses on both sides was entertaining at first but the more you dig into it the more deeply troubling it becomes. It’s effectively become a smokescreen to our democracy, with the majority of policies that arnt related to us leaving Europe being pushed to the back of the cue, while less savoury bills are passed under the radar without note. Party politics has taken center stage in a game of chicken where the loser is disintegrated. I could have written that overview at any time in the last 2 years but quite recently we’ve seen the launch of the…Ugh…”Brexit Party” led by Nigel Farage; the personification of the stereotypical corrupt politician bought to life. Hell I could dedicate an entire blog post just to his sordid and strange history but for your sanity and mine I wont here.

(#Suffering)

Note that I purposefully haven’t decided to assign Leavers and remainers “Right” and “Left” titling here and that’s because our leaving the European Union runs deeper than political affiliation. It’s a social issue more than anything else, it’s been dressed up, dressed down, simplified and purposefully complicated and yet no matter how much people pontificate about what it actually means the reality is that it boils down to 2 very clean cut issues that are:

*Do I want people from Foreign countries in my country

And

*Do I want people outside of my direct electoral control to tell me how to live my life.

Now. The former of those questions is just a clean cut question of racism. Considering we emigrate (345,000) out more people than we immigrate (283,000) in here in the UK this really shouldn’t even be an issue. But unfortunately it is… My own opinion is that while basic checks on anyone wanting to come into the country should be carried out there should be no limit to the amount of people who want to come in to or leave the UK. Equally I can understand the mindset of people who suggest setting a reasonable quota on immigration and emigration. I don’t necessarily agree with those people, but I understand them.

The people I don’t understand are the “Drawbridgers” the people who’ve been saying “Britains full” since about the late 70s and if anything have only got more isolationist since then. I also tend to bundle the “Unreasonable quota” people in with these lot too as they seem to believe that saying “Only allow 100 immigrants in” seems like any kind of a justifiable way to run a country. You’d think these kind of people were in small numbers but the reality is they’ve been steadily increasing over the last 4 decades thanks to the absolute Arse rag that is The Daily Mail fabricating stories about immigrants taking jobs, killing and raping people and generally being an shit trumpet to anyone who doesn’t vote conservative. Combining this with the recent rise of groups like “The EDL”, “UKIP” and individuals like Farage, Boris, Robinson and Reese Mogg.

(Group Selfie Guys!)

A lack of education and engagement and an unwillingness to try has ultimately left a large swathe of the public terrified of anyone non british through fear that they’ll either offend someone and face criminal charges, or that these people plan on stripping the country of anything that isnt nailed down. Which is of course ludicrous given that the british themselves are a mongrel nation in terms of our ethnic background.  But unfortunately until theres some kind of seismic shift in favour of getting to know thy neighbour it’s a mess that’s only going to get worse unfortunately.

The latter question is a bit more understandable but still falls down after the slightest bit of scrutiny. Politics in the UK as of 2019 is arguable one of the most fractured and diverse seen in this countries history since the world wars at least. If not earlier. And this is a problem. Under any other system of voting diversity would be fantastic. But due to a total lack of equal representation in our parliament it effectively means that we’re somewhat stuck in a two party system where it’s either a case of “Conservatives” or “Labour”, Blue or red and anything else doesn’t really matter unless we end up in a hung parliament in which case ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING MATTERS.

(You guys need to get into “It’s always sunny” if you havent already…it’s amazing)

As a result a lot of people feel terrifically unrepresented because while there is pretty much a party to suit every flavour and taste these days, your votes worthless because unless you vote for one of the two main parties noone else is likely to win. And even when smaller parties do make marginal gains, the government (who actually win generally) choose to ignore that because they didn’t win enough to actively challenge them. This is predominantly where the left find themselves. You have Labour, the lib dems, the green party, Change UK, Plaid Cymru and to a lesser extent the SNP (a party I still haven’t really got the full measure of, but that just seem a bit…off…)

Because there are 6 parties that would claim to “Represent the left” all on a sliding scale of “Socialist” through to “Well…We’re not the conservatives!” the biggest issue that the left has always faced is splintering of votes. In fact if even 3 of the more left leaning parties pooled their support together there would be an overwhelming majority left wing government in power right now (And this would have been the case for a majority of the countries history). Unfortunately due to infighting and disagreements over minutia this hasn’t happened in decades and is unlikely to happen any time soon. And as a direct knock on of this watering down of the votes it means that the left is in a perpetual nightmare of forever wanting to change things for everyone for the better but being too principled to sacrifice any ground to anyone who doesn’t agree with them entirely on even the smallest policies.

The Right by contrast don’t tend to have that issue as much. They have the inverse issue really. They actively want to make their own lives and the lives of the immediate people around them better while sacrificing any ground they can to ensure that happens to the further right but not an inch to the left. anyone else? Well they can “Get fucked”. The current government is the right wing “Conservative party” and their biggest issue at the minute (And one that seriously threatens to demolish them) is 2 fold.

*The Rise of the “Brexit party” and “Ukip” has started to leech them voters in droves. Because:

*There current policy on leaving the European union has gone down about as well as a turd in a swimming pool with the far right of the party leaping over to “BP” and “Ukip” while the more middle ground of the party have fled to the Lib Dems.

Why is their plan such a bad one? That’s down to how brexit was defined in the referendum. The binary “In or out” approach has ultimately led to people claiming they voted for every shade of brexit feasible. People voted for unicorns and are now mad that they didn’t get the exact unicorn they were promised (Even though no unicorns were ever described to these people). As a result the conservatives (Tories to our US readers) are effectively frozen in an even worse perpetual nightmare than the left. petrified to do anything firm lest they accidentally cause an uprising of people who want to leave or people who want to stay. On the one hand they face a revolution that will likely see them out of power near permanently and the installation of pure facism at the heart of government. On the other they see an uprising likely to completely segment the country, equally destroy them near permanently probably resume some level of peace and ensure arguments are had back and forth about what is to be done for generations.

How does this tie into the second point I raised earlier? Well the people who no longer wish to be part of Europe who claim that it isnt a racist thing usually point to the fact they don’t want to be “Bullied by Brussles” the idea being that they don’t like the idea of being told by bureaucrats in Europe what they can and cant do in Britain. They believe the UK should govern itself in the sense that the only people who should be allowed to make the rules are the government, the queen and sometimes the public (Unless the public give the wrong answer…whatever the hell that means) and that “Unelected” representatives are converse to british values. Forgetting of course that we do have elected representatives in Europe and that theirs literally a vote on who gets to go in next week (the 23rd of may)

This has been a long misunderstood element of Europe. We have MEP’s…people who represent us in the European parliament, who are (In principle) supposed to carry british interests at heart. The problem is in typical british style, noones been bothered about them until this one that’s coming up. Most people didn’t bother voting in them in the past and as a result for the best part of a decade  (If not 2 decades at this point) we’ve allowed the ardent Europhobes to conquer these elections on a regular basis. And as a result we’ve been sending a violently anti EU party (UKIP) to represent us in Europe… and you can imagine how well that’s gone down over the years.

To that end, we as a nation have pretty much spent 15-20 years refusing to work with Europe in favour of working against them, purposefully proposing changes to legislation that will only benefit a few of the wealthiest in society and effectively giving them the finger whenever they ask anything of us. We have only ourselves to blame for the utter disdain Europe has for us from a political standpoint.

Am I going to say the European union is faultless? No. it has issues and there are corruptive elements at play. But our own government make them look like choir boys in comparison and ultimately I’d say it’s better to try and rectify issues while working with Europe, than to say “Au revoir” and get into a system under a conservative government that’s shown to be actually fatal to people…as in the government are aware they’re killing people…but are choosing to do nothing (Or almost nothing) about it.

The Reality of the situation is that years and years of persecuting minorities have finally taken their toll on the very government who attempted to weild it as a weapon. Like a version of the Midas touch but instead of gold it’s turds everything any party currently tries to do now is set to cause pain suffering and trouble for anyone involved one way or another…

Or to put it more succinctly. We’re Fucked. At least for now.

(Well…things cant get much worse…)

I intended to actually go into detail about the European election parties and how I was going to vote in this blog but I got so distracted on the backstory that I actually never got round to it…so in the next blog I’ll pretty much be talking about that. Bye!

 

2019: Rummaging Through the Wreckage

So I’ve managed to squirrel a couple of hours away today So I thought now would be as good a time as any to pop up a blog about whats going on in my life right now! Yes…for the 3 people who regularly read this, consider this blog me offering you a seat at the café table of life with you and only you. A steaming cup of tea gently cooling as we look out into the somewhat sunny and slightly overcast bustling street and talk life, the universe and everything…y’know…to set the scene.

(I quite like the look of this place)

It has been a little while since I’ve actually put one of these together. I had written a blog which explained literally everything that had happened in my life since October up to March but reading it back recently was not only explicitly bleak reading, but it read more like a witness statement of my last known sighting rather than an actual attempt at helping to clarify why everything has ground to a halt…

So in order to keep things a bit lighter (As I am currently working on a full update video that should go up in the next couple of weeks and will clarify a lot more of the “Going forward” stuff that im not going to get into here). Im going to briefly summarise what’s gone on and I’ll save most of the going forward stuff for the actual update video itself. So! In summary here’s why I haven’t been making videos:

  • My partner suffers from quite severe mental health issues and has recently developed extreme suicidal thoughts. Due to chronically underfunded mental health services in my area. (Thanks to what I will affectionately refer to here as a “Shower of bastards” that is the conservative party). I’ve been effectively put in charge of keeping her alive…and other than a support worker (Who has been genuinely amazing) who pops in a couple of times a week and my partners doctor, who genuinely seems intent in ending her life. That’s been about it in terms of people trying to stop her doing shit. At the peak of this phase she ended up in the hospital for overdosing 4 times in the space of 7 days.

 

  • There was a literal 3 month period during the events of the above all of the above in which I daisy chained several quite severe Throat and chest infections one after the other. to the point where I pretty much lost my voice and was bed ridden for a time.

 

  • I was given a promotion at work which rapidly increased my workload and then in February 2019 the entire department I’d been moved into was made redundant. Luckily I have been able to find some temporary work but my employment status could best be described as precarious yet weirdly stable at this time.

I don’t want to dwell on the above too much because as it stands 2 of those 3 things are better than they have been. My partner is trying her best to re-engage with services and wants to get herself into a position where she can occupy her own time and from what I can see shes making great progress in getting back on her feet. It’s a very rocky road and that unpredictability is still something that is eating up a large amount of my time…But im very proud of her to see what she’s accomplished so far. mainly because I kind of love her a lot and I’d rather her not die (Im sure you understand). equally I’d like to take the time out to mention that if anyone who watches my stuff here is feeling low or having thoughts of suicide. Im sure you know the usual places to check into but I’ll just pop them here too.

(I tried looking for pictures of people in love with depression but all I got was a load of bollocks trying to romanticize depression as a “Struggling artist” type thing rather than acknowleging it for the absolute Cunt that it is…so here’s something stocky.)

Equally I have recovered now and until the inevitable bout of hayfever I encounter every spring hits me like a truck Im feeling a lot better in myself and im using my time as best I can to move things forwards both personally and with the film reviews!

And at this time I think it’s worth broaching the subject of reviews and what I actually do. Quite recently I’ve started to write again (As if the very existence of this blog wasn’t a good indicator of that). I had a couple of episodes written for season 6 when I downed tools back in November last year (A horror film and an thriller if you must know) but obviously given circumstances I had to shelf them until I was in a place where I would be able to pick them back up and develop them into full episodes. Things had been bleak since then but oddly about 3 weeks ago I had a period of rest from ongoing situations and from there rather than waste time on a video game or go out somewhere I found myself thinking: “…Hmm it’s been a while…I think im going to tidy up my computer and get my website reorganised.” I then spent 2 days clearing out old reference footage, audio files, archiving old reviews and retagging and readjusting some of the posts on the site. I even found time to catch my website up to my very latest review…

I don’t exactly know what went on over that weekend but from that point onwards I suddenly found myself with random pockets of time all over the place, a few hours here and there and even the odd free few days. And I’ve used that time. I’ve kind of rediscovered my love of writing in that sense and I have to say I think a break has done me some good. It feels good to sit and look at all of the drafts I’ve put together over the last 3 weeks and think that they’re something that I’ve put time to that seem somewhat productive. Its something that I hope someone out their will appreciate.

(Here’s hoping!)

Ultimately I only ever really got into doing these reviews because I was fed up of the lack of resources available for more obscure direct to video releases about whether they were actually any good or not coupled with a real urge to try and help other people who have no doubt ended up in my situation in the past. It comes from a place of love for the industry ultimately and that’s something thats spanned a number of years with me. Even when I was a college student doing film studies at A-level I would regularly endorse the benefits of looking at bad films as being as important if not more important than understanding what makes a good film. Anyone can make a good film in the 21st century all you need is money and a reasonable editor. You’ll make a good film but it’ll be banal. It wont have heart (Something I feel modern cinema struggles with quite badly) but if you understand what makes something terrible and you appreciate the heart that can go into making abject failure. You’ll be more than capable of appreciating that small details can effect the big picture in ways you’d never have considered.

That’s the fire that keeps me going when im reviewing absolute rot. Its my own (in some ways demented) love of analysing car crash cinema. Picking apart what didn’t work, pondering if it could have worked with some tweaks and ultimately deciding whether a car crash is worth recommending to you the viewer or whether it truly is a “Write off”. I enjoy the debate that comes with having the opinion that bad films are as important to study as good films (So much so I developed a lecture series on the subject that I hope to have filmed someday)

(I love all bad movies…well almost all bad movies…)

So for now im still here, working behind the scenes on reviews. With a renewed vigour for the subject honestly. I think as much as I’ve had a stressful time of late a break from this was something I needed. Youtube Burnout is a bit of a hot topic these days and I may go into more detail about my own personal experiences in the near future when I get time. Before I go for now I think it’s probably best to let you know at least where im up to with writing just to keep you guys all in the loop. I’m currently trying to lock down episodes for October while I have more time on my hands than less. It’s going to be a themed month, 5 episodes that will chart a particular horror history. In total I’ve now written 7 scripts, recorded 2 of them and I have plans for another half a dozen in the fire as of the time of writing (17.04.19) though as I say…I’ll save actual plans for these till the update video comes out.

Till next time. Thanks so much again for your continued patience and support

Dan.

 

(Thought i’d end this blog on a little bit of a positive note enjoy!)

 

Ever Decreasing Circles (A New Career in a New Town: Epilogue + What the hell is happening these days!?)

Its been a little while since I wrote a blog like this and quite honestly I do feel the need to apologise for being as quiet as I have been. The honest answer is that life has gotten in the way on almost every level of my day to day happenings. And while I can only apologise for not being around more both in the youtube comments and on here, it’s not been without good reason. Nor has it been through me generally being lazy (I wish I had the time to be lazy these days!) So here’s a quick heads up as to everything that’s been going on in my life and hopefully (Assuming your one of the half a dozen people who will see this) you’ll appreciate why I have been absent recently.

(It’s been one of those years I can assure you…)

First and foremost as a bit of an epilogue to my “New Career in a new town” blogs I’ve now been in my new place of work for 5 months or so! And at this point lifes pretty good! When I first started I underwent 2 weeks of training and then I was let loose to pretty much get started in the field I’d chosen to work in. it was however only when I finished the training that I realised that the field I’d signed up for didn’t exist at the place I work at until I signed up to take it…effectively I was one of 5 people hired to create a new department and they had no training programmes in place for that department because obviously it didn’t exist to have a plan in place to train us in the first place! Because of this I was trained in a very similar though somewhat slightly irrelevant field and while I did take a lot of information that could be reworked and reapplied to my new position…there really wasn’t enough to help us just “Crack on” from the off…not helping matters we were instructed by our manager not to interact with other teams in the building for reasons that were not made entirely clear…the only reason I personally can think of is that they wanted to make our department be it’s own thing and if we’d been to talk to others it may have ended up with us picking up bad habits or falling back on existing plans they wernt entirely happy with the way the other departments were functioning.

(Me pretty much after being dumped in an office space with 5 people to do a job we had no formal training for…)

All in all I spent approximately 10 weeks with that team. They were a really good bunch and I enjoyed working with them. I say this because basically around week 9 we were all pulled into a meeting by our general manager who informed us that our solo team was being mergered with a bigger department and with it all our work was being more evenly shared out amongst the bigger team. We were all set for promotions and pay rises and with it we’d be doing more travelling and a more intense work schedule than before. Great in terms of making lots of dollar. Bad because…y’know…I like downtime.

We were told that this merger would be very slow, thered be a long transition period and that it wouldn’t be till the new year that anything meaningful would actually be happening…then a week later we were merged completely…well I say “We”… I wasn’t. I had been told that during the merger I would, at first at least, mainly be doing much of what I’d always been doing. I’d be supporting the winding down of the new department and as a result they wouldn’t be giving me any additional Job roles because they wanted me to pretty much continue to support the closing down of the department before fully merging with the existing department and finally giving me a more fuller position in the team.

Only that didn’t happen either…

Instead on the day that I was supposed to begin my “Support” period…11 weeks in mind…I was pulled aside by my manager who told me quietly that there had been a mistake…My heart sank…I didn’t know whether this meant I was about to be fired, whether I was going to be transferred somewhere or whether there was just something else that I couldn’t predit was about to occur. Mercifully it was the 2nd of those 3 options.

I was told that basically there had been a mistake made during the planning stages of the merger which had all been done in a rush, and that my managers manager had selected me to help in supporting a completely different team in a completely different venture. This new department was basically the approvals department for the central offices of the company that I worked for…in short. If someone wants to so much as cough in my workplace they have to get it approved by us to do it. With that role comes a frankly eye watering payrise, a hell of a lot more travelling and a crap ton of additional privilages. Im still stunned they even considered me for a position like this. And of course I couldn’t refuse it. the workload isn’t all that much different from what I was doing before…the only significant difference really is the diversity at which im working…but to go from the bottom of the tree to about three quarters of the way up it within 13 weeks was frankly astounding and totally unexpected to me…I genuinely thought I’d go in at the position I was hired for…stay there for a couple of years comfortably and then maybe slowly move up…this was a different pace entirely!.

(Equally relevant…I still have no idea what im doing…but im being paid more to do more stuff that I have no idea about…win?…I think?…)

But enough about that! Heres where things start to get messy. Obviously with the increase in more diverse and complex work at my ectual work it has had a bit of a knock on effect with my down time. Whereas in my previous job I’d have spent the day doing the bare minimum (Not out of choice) and then come home bounding with pent up energy not spent during the day. here im actually taxing my brain! And because of that more often than not I’ve been coming home and pretty much going straight to bed. It’s exhausting, but it’s basically helping me buy my first house about 15 years earlier than I envisioned…so I cant complain really…

(Pretty much…)

The thing is I do have down time where I can talk to you guys in the comments or make new videos or do nice extras for the channel (Or even tidy the place up a bit) but for the last 3-6 weeks in particular theres been something else eating up pretty much any other time I had. My partners been having a bit of trouble recently. We live apart at the moment and we’ve been looking to buy a place together now for a while. We’re still in the process of saving together but in the mean time until about 3 weeks ago she was living in shared accommodation with her roommate. The two didn’t really know each other before she moved in but the rent was good, she was fairly close to me and she was in a quite good location generally so we assumed there wouldn’t be any major issues…it turns out we were wrong.

Her roommate it was revealed a few weeks after she moved in was actually a massive alcoholic, ridiculously promiscuous and into any drugs that happened to be going. My partner being the kind soul that she is initially offered to help her get clean but after a number of incidents in which the police had to be called the atmosphere changed pretty quickly. And after one particular incident, the roommate in question pretty much disappeared completely (Im not kidding here we legitimately believe she ran off with a travelling circus…seriously) though her side of the rent was still being paid and it meant that the apartment was quiet for a while so my partner wasn’t all that bothered.

So one night about a month ago I took my partner out for dinner both to celebrate my recent promotion and as a dinner date (I can be romantic when I want to) it was a lovely evening and all was relaxing and well…we headed back to her apartment and as soon as we opened the front door we realised something wasn’t quite right. There was a moaning sound coming from the living room. At first we assumed that her roommate had finally come home and had maybe bought a bit of extra company with her…we jokingly shouted through to “Put some clothes on!” as we walked into the lounge…but she wasn’t with anyone…instead she had smashed the coffee table to pieces and was rolling around on the floor covered in blood and urine (She’d pissed herself) screaming, moaning and making a screeching noise that in my 25 years on this earth and ith a sizable knowledge of horror films I have never heard pained screams like this. She was completely in her own world. Her eyes were glazed over and in between the screeches she would shout “I CAN HEAR YOU! I CAN HEAR YOU!!!! IS THERE ANYONE WITH YOU!!!” after a few minutes of trying to get her to sit still my partner told me to go upstairs and call an ambulance while she basically sat on her. I went upstairs called the ambulance service and told them the situation…then I heard a thud…in the time that I had gone upstairs this girl had basically started smashing her head into the corner of a hard oak wooden door repeatedly while screaming. The result? Her face was now mashed and she was pouring with blood.

(Like this…but a bit less…and not as clearly fake…and with more screeching)

My partner got up off her to see what she’d done and in that time she stumbled to her feet, took the television cabinet out (Destroying the TV in the process) and crashing into the sofa pretty much flipping it over. In the process she’d also smeared blood all over the walls and floor of the house. Once she’d seen the damage my partner quickly restrained her again and the two of us took turns in basically holding her down and keeping her airways clear of blood till the ambulance service and the police turned up and took her away…it took 3 police officers to restrain and remove her from the apartment in which time she destroyed almost all of the furniture in the hallway and screamed so loud she stripped her throat to the point of blood pouring out of her mouth as well as her head and nose.

(Basically this…but with more blood and some ambulance staff standing in for some of those police officers)

While we will probably never know with 100% accuracy exactly how this situation arose. We have been able to assemble something of a narrative. Apparently she had been travelling with a circus as a cleaner and general helper for a few weeks before this incident happened…she’d also caused a tremendous amount of trouble with said circus due to the aforementioned alcoholism, drug use and general fuckery…So the circus basically ditched her…she spent some time thumbing rides back to my home town, she came into the apartment. Dumped her stuff in her room and went out to her parents house to basically steal the contents of their liquor cabinet…pissed out of her tiny mind she then went over to a dealer that she knows who for some reason decided that the best thing for her was some “Monkey Dust” (For those unfamiliar “Monkey dust” is a synthetic drug that seemingly has absolutely no benefits apart from making you go absolutely out of your tiny mind…go on youtube and look it up If your really interested in seeing a lot of lost souls and the total devastation it can lead in it’s wake…why it’s still legal I have absolutely no idea.) but anyway…

(Yeesh…)

She took this stuff. somehow managed to get herself home. And immediately cracked headfirst into the front door (Causing her to cut her head and start bleeding) which obscured her vision to the point that she then crashed through into the living room screaming and almost immediately smashed through the glass topped coffee table when she walked into the room. Cutting herself more and leaving her pretty much paralyzed on the floor bleeding and completely unaware of her surroundings or even what day it was…we don’t know how long she spent on the floor or when exactly she pissed herself.  But we think it wasn’t very long as we think she’d have probably caused more damage had she been sat there for a while. As of the time of writing she’s been back to the apartment once in the last 3 weeks and apart from the police who came over both to give us an update as to the situation and also to ask for a testimony from us as to what exactly happened we haven’t seen or heard from her since really. The landlord has said that she’s issuing her with an eviction notice shortly not that that’ll effect us particularly…

Why wont that effect us? Well because about 3 months before any of this happened my a partner got in touch with a charity who help people with issues involving mental health find supported lodgings for up to 18 months with the aim of getting them back on there feet and helping to get them into a state of self sufficiency and employment. Well a week after this incident happened they came back to her offering her an apartment all to herself, at a greatly reduced rent with nearly all new furnishings and full support to get her back on her feet. The location of this apartment? By chance about 5 minutes on foot from my apartment. And so for the last 2 and a half weeks I’ve basically spent all the downtime I have either boxing her stuff up…driving the 15 minutes each way between her old place and her new place or unboxing her stuff on the other side. It’s been an honestly exhausting experience (As moving house usually is) but she’s already a hell of a lot better in herself and she’s feeling a lot more comfortable knowing both that im only a stones throw away from her place and also that she isn’t going to come home to find the apartment trashed and a bleeding, urinating and semi conscious woman writhing around on the floor screeching like she’s being murdered.

Between working my ass off at work and working my ass off to try and get my partner set up I’ve literally had almost no time to even stop for breath letalone answer youtube comments, make videos or watch the kind of tat that I love.

(Photo of me literally 6 weeks apart…)

On the plus side things are on the up though. Now that works settling down into a comfortable routine and my partners moved in and set up it means I can kind of try and get back on track with keeping the channel up to date. And even more good news is that I recently found out that my partner in crime on “The Comedy Dining Experience” Ben is relocating to my home town. Whereas previously we were only able to meet up to do commentaries and hang out maybe 2-3 times a year we can now hang out pretty  much whenever! So hopefully that means there’ll be more comedy dining experiences to come in future! While I think it’ll be a good while till I end up in a situation where I had the freedom that I had in the past. Im just grateful that I have enough time to be able to keep the wheels in motion.

As of the time of writing im literally in the process of writing the last 2 scripts of 2018! I know right!? This is pretty much the 2nd part of the B-movie hall of fame review. And the last Christmas review of the year! So do keep an eye out for them in the near future! Equally I hope that you continue to bear with me during this time and if you want to help me or make my life a little bit easier please do share my reviews with anyone you think might be interested (Or better still go and watch some of my older reviews as that will greatly help in terms of maintaining my watch time) I will try and get back to any comments left as soon as I possibly can and while the schedule is set till January if you have any recommendations for movies to talk about please do let me know and I’ll try and fit them in somewhere eventually.

Once again thanks so much for your continued support. Its you guys who really help keep me going with this and I’ll leave you with a track I’ve been listening to to help keep me going over the last month or 2’s turbulence

  • Dan

 

Partially Reformed Content – #2

Its that time again where I approach the end of another week, broken and further embittered to my fellow man. I have a delicious “Red Stag” Whisky sat next to me and it’s time to wind down to the weekend with another chapter from the irregular blog series I call “Reformed content”. as was the case with the last edition, im here today with a smattering of behind the scenes info, stuff going on in my personal life and some other bits and pieces that simply wouldn’t make a full blog post in and of itself! So! Let’s get the ball rolling!.  

(LARRRRVLEY.)

First and foremost, im writing this on Friday the 3rd of August 2018 and in 24 hours the poll to decide what the Halloween theme for this year is will close. I’d say it’s been a close battle but in all fairness it’s been fairly one sided since I put the vote up. So thank you so much for taking part if you did! I cant guarantee everyone will be happy with the end result, but hey! I thought I’d try a spot of democracy and it’s been quite nice to let you guys tell me what you want to see! You’ll find out the winner in October so in the mean time Im going to start watching/writing and recording them ready for then! 

(The inevitable decline into cold and dark nights begins here…)

As it stands I’ve fallen a bit behind in my schedules currently. The last couple of months have been difficult on the writing/editing front. Not in terms of watching. Oh no! the watching sides the best part of this! Hell; it’s pretty much the reason I got started in doing this! But in terms of making notes, writing scripts, audio recording and editing. I’d be lying if I said the last month or two hadn’t been something of a drag. Im hoping it’s just a bit of a creative block at this point and that I’ll perk up once I get past the rest of this years schedules. But in the mean time I do feel a bit in a rutt over what I write and how I write it. if im being honest with you lot I think theres 2 reasons for this. The first would be purely down to logistics.  having to produce 4 – 5 scripts a month at the level of detail that I try and aim for for the last 3 months or so has been a bit of an uphill climb. some months I’ve managed 4 others i’ve barely broken 2. there are quite a few reasons for this ranging from weather, to personal issues to just frankly being completely tied up with other things! but it can be a bit morale draining to grind away at a rate that even the most optimistic youtube guru would say was “Not enough” in terms of pleasing the great algorithm.

(ALL HAIL THE MIGHTY ALGORITHM THE GIVER AND TAKER OF SOCIAL PLATFORMS!)

Secondly I think its down to the content that I’m watching as well…When I started this I knew it wasnt going to be “Lolwhut” random and brilliant films every week. I knew thered be good films and bad films and that finding those gems is often very difficult. what I wasnt prepared for was just the sheer scale of mediocrity thats out there. there are hundreds, neigh, thousands of cookie cutter super bland films out there. Covering every genre, creed and colour that a film can be. and once you’ve deconstructed half a dozen of these “Meh” films you’ve pretty much deconstructed them all (In season 4 I reviewed 3 films that were all effectively the same genre and all had the same issues back to back entirely by accident…it was a real grind to get through them purely because they all blurred together into one big grey sludge). Believe me when I say that im not going anywhere anytime soon and that there’ll be plenty more uploads to come and plenty more streams/blogs in future. But I just feel like putting it out there that being a bad film critic (Even though I enjoy it) can be a struggle sometimes. and that it’s okay to have bad times and also to know when your working to your own detriment.

(No more “Hollywood DVD” titles please…No more “Hollywood DVD” Titles)

In terms of planning I now have episodes in the schedules right up until January next year and I have completed episodes running right up to the middle of Septmber. Which apparently is a bit excessive but that’s the problem with this half of the year. October is Halloween themed, and December is Christmas themed. So that only leaves September and November to actually be able to do anything off the beat and path. And the way my schedules work it means Im going to be doing 3 episodes in September and 4 episodes in November meaning there isn’t a lot of room to be able to do recommendations and requests either. Which upsets me a bit because if you guys have taken the time to tell me of a film you’d love to see me talk about the least I can do Is try to get round to it as soon as I can. As it stands I have at least a dozen requests to get round to and the earliest I can jump on them is January!  So my sincerest apologies if you’ve sent me a request. and all I can do is assure you I will get round to them eventually!

There is some interesting stuff in the schedules mind. I’ve been slowly working through the VHS haul I got my hands on a couple of months ago and theres some real gems in there. Though Disaster of disasters my VCR finally went to silicon heaven a couple of days ago (The heads have worn down to nothing) so I’ve had to order a replacement. Effectively putting my excavation on hold. So im back on the DVD’s and Blurays in the mean time…I always worry when I drop below 8 weeks of backdated episodes and I had a few VHS titles to go through over this weekend just gone. So it’s kind of messed up my plans a little bit… I try and keep that gap to cover risks and hazards that come with being alive in general…for example if Im ill or out of the country for a couple of weeks that’s 2 uploads and 3 episodes potentially lost in the process. So im always trying to increase that gap. And as of today I have 7 scripts ready to be recorded! So hopefully I’ll be up and on top of things again in no time! 

(Im getting there I’ll tell you Whut…)

 

As I mentioned in a previous blog; Im still occasionally popping up on my channel and playing a few games every now and then. It’s been a lot of fun and more recently I’ve decided to use these gaming sessions as an opportunity to talk about films and to do a film Q&A type deal. So if your reading this and your working on a film. feel free to see if im about and drop in. the last stream was a blast and I had a great time talking to a couple of my regular viewers and I really hope to see and talk to more of you guys in future! my most recent one was a full run through of Sonic the hedgehog 2 in which I used the “Rewind” function to save myself from dying a frankly embarrassing amount of times. So do feel free to check that out. It’s been nice to do something non film related really and I think it helps break things up a bit which is always a nice feeling…

(I can play this better…but i’d had about 4 hours sleep and hey! it was just a bit of fun! 🙂 )

 

Finally on the subject of myself (Im a vein bastard) I’d just like to thank everyone who tuned into my video on “Fair use” I had a very positive response to it and im glad to hear that a lot of people took away something from my video. I’ll be adding to the list of “Copyright cards” that I use as time goes by though rather ironically after 4 worldwide blocks my last 3 videos haven’t been touched by content ID in any capacity. Which is typical really…I travel halfway up a mountain in the name of challenging copyright and immediately im not able to use it!  

(Okay I’ll stop with the blatant advertising now…)

For anyone following my employment situation you’ll be happy to know that things are going rather well. I still have a few weeks of my “Probation” period left but assuming that passes without incident I should be a fully paid up and employed member of my chosen employment by the middle of next month! I’m having a great time getting to know all the new people in the place and as if they knew I was coming I found a library within the building that actually had VHS tapes stored on the shelves! I do hope that things continue to work out as they have because Im growing ever attached to the place and I’d feel terrifically sad to have it cut short. Though for the time being im just trying to crack on with cracking on and the biggest problem in my life right at this moment is the fact that in the UK the weather cant decide whether it wants to be 40 million degrees Celsius or cool and raining. which is great fun when it comes to the 10 minute walk into the office…im usually either drowned or fried…and occasionally poached…

(The Air conditioning isnt too great at this place…)

One of the downsides of my new place of employment is that due to security concerns im unable to take my phone into the building. Meaning that while I am able to keep abreast of my youtube stuff Im unable to keep on top of all goings on in the world of politics. Though seemingly since leaving my old job on the 16th of June nothing much has changed really. Brexit is taking up most of the conservatives time. The clocks running out on that and they’ve done exactly bugger all in sorting it out (as if they ever could) Jeremy Corbyn has been accused of Antisemitism (Again) and he’s apologised (Again), Trump is still being trump and all in all as a collective race It seems as though we’re a glass sphere teetering on the brink of a table. We could go at any minute and all the signs are pointing that way. But honestly? I couldn’t tell you when we’re going to go over the edge. Nor what awaits us on the other side. The only thing that’s changed more recently is that the odds of a “No Deal” Brexit have seemingly teetered closer to us than at any other time since the negotiations began. That would arguably be the worst possible scenario and in all honesty I can only begin to imagine the hell it would unleash on the UK…of course now I’ll be accused of Project fear…so i’ll simply be quiet from now and leave it at an inaudible internal scream.

Till next time

x

(This ones for a viewer who messaged me a week or two ago about a bad film that ended up becoming a massive chat about comedy…im sure he’ll appreciate it)

Fourscore and 4 seasons ago…

So this one may be a bit disjointed. Mainly because at the minute I’m leading quite a hectic lifestyle trying to rebalance my home/work life. It’s now July the 9th and today’s been one of the hottest days in my area for a while. At this point I’m on the cusp of finally aclimitising to it…which is a pity because I know in the next fortnight or so we’re going to go right back to the sludge fueld rain filled drudge that is british weather.

(Actual footage of me everyday for the last 2 weeks)

Yesterday was a pretty productive one in all honesty. I finally tackled some of the prep work for the Halloween specials I have planned for this year and I managed to do a bulk recording of packaging shots for upcoming episodes (I’m now pretty much up to date till early December which is nice).

(It was a satisfying if not burny experience)

 

One of the bigger things I did yesterday though involved something I’ve been meaning to do now for a very long time. And it’s one of those things that’s been playing on my mind pretty much since the 2nd season of my show started. We need to talk about “fourscore 2”. Now I dont expect very many of the people reading this to know what “Fourscore 2” is…hell even the people who should know about “Fourscore 2” sometimes dont know about “Fourscore 2”. it has a fairly long lasting history in british broadcasting though it’s often overlooking in favour of it’s Younger, Bulkier much more memorable brother.

So. The year is 1982 and Channel 4 is gearing up for it’s big launch. it had been almost 20 years since the last channel launch happened with the fractured beginnings of what would later amalgam into ITV. As a result 4 wanted to do something drastically different. they didnt want to be seen as just another stuffy, conservative whiffing, stiff upper lip of a channel. They wanted to be seen as cool, modern and hip. the original ideology for channel 4 sounds almost otherworldly by modern standards. indeed if they ran with there original plan in modern times it would probably have crashed out of the listings about a week into broadcasting. This is because Channel 4’s opening gambit was to run on a diet of Art house films, documentaries from around the world, american imports, alternative comedy and music. It was brilliant. Oh it was pretentious, it was hipster well before it’s time. but theres something about a channel where I can watch The Smiths over my morning cereal, “Dream Stuffing” during my supper and “Letters from a dead man” while in a semi drunken stupor at 3 in the morning that just makes me fall in love with the concept of a “High art” terrestrial television channel. I mean…it wasnt faultless…when it worked it worked brilliantly…but art is a fickle thing and sometimes what reads as a good idea on paper can have awful and terrifying ramifications once broadcast…

(Yes this was a show that actually went out on television…Yes. One day I will cover this…And yes im now on a register for having watched it…)

 

But I digress; To coincide with this major event Channel 4 wanted an ident theme that sounded grand, bold, fresh. Something that would drag television kicking and screaming away from the somewhat classically royal theme tunes that had come before it. And in doing so they ended up recruiting one David Dundas (Of Blue Jeans fame) in to help score the music that would define the channel. And he knocked it clean out of the park. Because in 1982 Channel 4 launched with “Fourscore” and if you dont believe me that it was a bloody impressive piece of music here’s how it went out at the time.

(BEHOLD YOUR NEW MASTERS AND QUAKE WITH FEAR!)

its a very impressive track with some serious studio work behind it. if you want some idea of how well received it was, well, it’s still being used to this day (Albeit in a slightly remixed form) but what of “Fourscore 2”?. Well. As far as im aware Dundas isnt capable of just knocking something like “Fourscore” out of the park in one take and there were several variations of Fourscore that were brought into existence before we landed on the iconic theme thats hung around on 4 now for the best part of 36 years.

One of these variations is “Fourscore 2” effectively a somewhat more Jazzy version of “Fourscore” that managed to escape the cutting room floor, it did so by ending up as the “Go to” music for whenever Channel 4 had technical difficulties or, for a brief stint in the mid 80’s, it was used to fill in air time when an industrial dispute meant that Channel 4 couldnt show adverts so instead they ran with a somewhat seething holding card slagging off the unions for daring go on strike at the detriment of the channel.

(Hey…I can live with a lack of capitalism in my adverts…jussayin)

It was also later saved by Dundas himself as “Fourscore” grew in popularity it was eventually issued as a 45 vinyl under a pseudonym “The Airwave Orchestra” and y’know what was the B-side to that 45? Yep. Fourscore 2. Now. I cant lie and say that I’d always been a fan of Fourscore 2…in fact it was only around 10 years ago that I first started actively watching channel idents and listening to test card music (It sounds better than it reads I can assure you…also for anyone who’s curious the answer is “the 90’s Central idents” and “For the good times” by Graham Preakett) but theres something about Channel 4’s idents and music and in particular “Fourscore 2” that just draws me to it. I think it’s probably because it’s so representative of the time it was made really…you’ll struggle to find a more 80’s sounding test card track than “Fourscore 2” it’s upbeat and whimsical and while I can understand why they went with the original “Fourscore” for the channel itself…I equally have to say that to me. Fourscore 2 blows fourscore out of the water.

(Ohhhhhh yesssssssss…*Covers up crotch area*)

So in 2017 when I was first planning my youtube channel and my videos I had no idea how long I’d be going for, nor did I really think about the long term layouts and styles of my videos. So when it came to assembling the first few episodes I just needed some music to open each episode that was inoffensive, upbeat and reasonably easy listening. my answer was to dust of Fourscore 2. Now as a filmmaker myself I realize that in using fourscore 2 im breaching copyright. But at the time I assumed I’d probably do my youtube channel for a couple of months, get bored and drift off…I almost certainly didnt think I’d still be here a year and a bit later with a website and various social media links. I realised pretty much halfway through season 2 of youtube videos that I really should consider moving to something a bit more copyright friendly…Channel 4 have a habit of striking videos with worldwide blocks and the last thing I needed was to have half my videos removed, so I decided to try and find someone to cover Fourscore 2 or do a soundalike (Because I Really do love it’s composition)…2 seasons later and not much has changed. Until this week. This week I finally started writing season 5, and I couldnt let fourscore 2 continue…I really couldnt. If copyright wasnt an issue it’d be seeing me well right up to season 55…but at this point I need to protect my channels content and I needed to be able to go forward with something copyright friendly and similar in tone.

So. Armed with Garage band and a midi keyboard. I set about re-recording Fourscore 2. I’ll be honest. it’s not as good as the original. I tried my very best but im an amateur musician at best and David Dundas is…well…David Dundas. It came out better than I expected but thats not saying much. Im happy with it and for me it does the job. But this season will be the last one to use fourscore 2. I’ll miss it in all honesty. but im sure you all can appreciate my position on this one and that you’ll learn to love the new theme in September in the same way I myself fell in love with Fourscore 2 the first time I heard it. it wont be wrong…just different…at least thats what I keep telling myself…

(Yeh…its far from perfect…but for a 15 second sting it’ll do the job…)

 

EDIT: As an additional; if you are interested in learning more about Channel 4 then you simply must watch Applemasks documentary on the history of the channel, he’s funny, witty and bang on the money in covering every minute detail of this channels long and winding history from Arty/hipster repository to Reality TV bin and beyond in every shade colour and hue, seriously. Check him out. he’s ace.

(One day I’ll cover Channel 4 schools in detail…one day…)