Peter Firth

Lifeforce (1985) [Blu-ray]

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I’ve never been a huge subscriber to the idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ and have only rarely come across anything that genuinely adheres to the ‘so bad it’s good’ convention, but I think that finally, with Lifeforce, I have found the dictionary definition and definitive proof of both terms.

This is a film in which three naked space vampires descend on Earth and trigger a zombie apocalypse in London. I’ll just pause while you go back and read that again so that you can believe your eyes. If it leaves you thinking that this is surely one step away from (and possibly below) Plan 9 From Outer Space, then you’ve got the right impression.

The film starts off with a sequence set on a spaceship, which plays out like one of those straight-to-video B-movie sci-fi movies that infested the 1980s after Star Wars made the genre hugely profitable if not yet entirely respectable or mainstream. Then the film takes a handbrake turn and becomes a 70s-style British porno movie, before finally dragging its way back up to the level of a late-era Hammer Horror sex-and-fangs shocker. Read the rest of this entry »

Broadchurch (ITV) and Mayday (BBC)

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It’s funny how sometimes two shows (or two films, or two books) with almost identical ideas show up at virtually the same time. On the screen, we’ve had two volcano movies, two meteor films, two Capote biopics and two Snow White reboots show up at the box office within a few weeks of each other; and now we’ve had the TV equivalent, with two shows about shocking crimes being done to local children in small idyllic English communities airing within hours of one another.

Of the two, I think it’s fair to say that BBC’s Mayday had been widely derided, whereas ITV’s Broadchurch would be up for sainthood were it a person, such has been the adulatory response to it. I’m going to slightly take issue with that, but I’ll start by saying that the two shows are strong dramas, well made with excellent casts, and that both are certainly well worth watching.

So why didn’t Mayday go down that well while Broadchurch has been such a hit? It may be because the former is not the show that people thought they were getting from the trailers, whereas the latter emphatically nails it, delivering to and exceeding viewers’ expectations. Because the truth is that despite their similar-sounding premises, these are two surprisingly different shows. Read the rest of this entry »