Peter Jeffrey

Doctor Who: The Macra Terror (1967) [DVD/Blu-ray]

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The first part of this year has been good for Doctor Who fans, with no less than four new home media releases in the first three months of 2019. The latest of these hit the shelves on Monday and is a brand-new version of the four-part 1967 serial “The Macra Terror”.

It’s the latest in the BBC’s series of animated reconstructions of ‘lost’ stories, where the original broadcast episodes were wiped by the BBC shortly after transmission and only the soundtrack remains thanks to a fan’s off-air recording at the time. The first of these recovery projects was “The Power of the Daleks” which I reviewed back in 2016 when it originally came out. Since then there’s also been a new version of 1979’s “Shada” in which similar animation was used in place of scenes never actually filmed at the time due to industrial action, meaning that the story was never completed or broadcast. Again, you can catch up with a detailed review of the end result that I wrote a year ago: to be honest, I found the back-and-forth between new line art sequences and the surviving original filmed footage rather jarring.

These are expensive projects and I’d wondered if the sales had been sufficient to justify any more of these reconstructions. But it appears they were, and hence this month Who fans got a brand new release to add to their doubtless already groaning collection of merchandise. However, I confess that I initially wasn’t wildly excited by the prospect of “The Macra Terror”, never having been particularly eager to see the story in question which to me had always sounded rather humdrum in synopsis. Read the rest of this entry »

The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971) [DVD]

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Long time readers of this blog (if there are such things!) may recall that earlier this year I proved singularly resistent to the camp comedy horror charms of the Vincent Price film Theatre of Blood, with a dislike for the sort of sleazy and tawdry British made films of the early 70s being chief among the elements that put me off. You can imagine my unbounded joy when I was sat down to watch The Abominable Dr Phibes, another London-filmed movie of much the same vintage.

qOnce again this production starred Vincent Price, and to make matters even more unappetising it actually sounded as though the two films also shared pretty much an entire plot and story structure. In both, Price plays an artist believed long-dead who has gone insane, and who sets out on a homicidal campaign of retribution against a large group of people that he then dispatches one-by-one using a themed series of outrageously overwrought methods. In Theatre of Blood Price was an old fashioned stage actor who used Shakespearian plays to inspire his series of murders of the group of critics that destroyed his career, whereas in Phibes Price is a renowned concert organist who uses (very loosely) the ten Egyptian plagues of the Bible to kill off all the medical practitioners that had been involved in the death of his young wife during an operation four years previously. Read the rest of this entry »