Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Blog off

I'm not going to put the film reviews on here any more. They're sort of getting in the way of what this blog was originally intended to be. There's a new blog here: called, unsurprisingly, "And Now The Screening Starts..."

I appreciate that the stupid film reviews were the most popular things on the blog and thank you for your patience...

Monday, 16 May 2011

"Ah what have I written? Thoughts suitable to a sanitorium"

After being bullied by friends I am now trying to write a proper "Short Story". I have the idea and about two hundred words. And then I hit a wall. It's very hard to write "properly". Most of the things I write as pastiche or at least from a recognisable pool of references. That's the clay that I shape and breathe life into. I used to think there was an extra value in being able to make something vibrant and valid out of genre cliches. And also it was a handy way into making sure everybody was happy: that guy's wearing a trenchcoat and hat, smoking branded cigarettes and carrying an old service revolver. Ah, it's that kind of story!

But this, this new thing I'm trying, well it's more difficult than that. At first you have to write bad poetry and then you dismantle the bad poetry, while keeping the sense of the bad poetry. You take a toffee-hammer to the words, then a flat-iron, then super-heat them and try and stretch them out, pulling them taut over the gaffes and gaps between what you're saying and what you're trying to say. It rips and tears and exposes whole new areas of incompetence that you thought had patched over years ago. Eventually the whole thing unravels in your hands like an ill-advised pet. And you're left with a sort of word gumbo. Poke at it, with a stick. It just sits there, congealing.

Like being laughed at by a plate of sick.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

And Now The Screening Starts...

Donkeyskin (Peau d'ane) (1970) dir. Jacques Demy. starring Catherine Deneauve, Jacques Perrin, Jean Marais, Baroness Delphine Seyrig,

We open on a book-case book-ended by blue lions rampant against an ivy covered wall. Michel LeGrand's music is beautiful here: stately but jazzy, with rococco flourishes. The music here seems almost too ornate, too frothy to ever penetrate but no...there it is: Deneauve's "Amour Fou" song in particular will persecute you relentlessly, jabbing away like a mosquito with boundary issues.

But I'm getting ahead of myself...

One particular leather-bound tome sweeps open and we're at a beautiful French castle with Jean Marais' handsome jaw jutting so far out of a window he looks like he'll need flying buttresses to hold it up.*

Jean Marais is the King. He is happy because he lives in a castle and has a beautiful wife and daughter and a donkey that shits gold. No really. This may be a fairy story but it's a French fairy story.

He also has this thing about the colour blue; he wears a lot of blue, his castle is blue and his servants are painted blue, even their faces. Clearly William Wallace was involved at the recruitment stage.

So everything's alright in the garden until, disaster, the Queen falls ill. And, get this, on her death bed she makes the King swear an oath not to marry again until he has found a woman more beautiful than her!

As an aside, at this point, I should point out that Deneauve is playing both the Queen and the Princess in this film and to play the dying Queen she wears a long red wig. The resemblance to her sister, and co-star in earlier Jacques Demy film "Les Demoiselles d'Avignon", Francoise Dorleac is quite uncanny. Dorleac had died in a car crash between the making of these two films and I find the effect quite disconcerting; adding a real frisson to these scenes.

The King agrees to her request, believing he will not have to act on it, and the Queen is buried - in a giant snow-storm. But the King's advisors will not let him be: they insist that it is bad for the state for him to remain Queenless and harangue him endlessly as he sits on his throne (which is a giant white Jeff Koons cat). They search throughout the land for eligible batchelorettes but they all ming to the highest mong, excepting one. She is graceful and regal, poised and self posessed. She exceeds even the dead Queen in all queenly qualities: she's his daughter. These are some of the worst advisors ever! How did the princess' portrait even get in there with the others?

At that moment the King sticks his head out of the window and there in the courtyard, dressed in blue, playing her harpsichord and singing about "l'amour fou" is the Princess - talk about playing into his big incestuous hands!

He decides to woo her by reading "the poets of the future" (Jean Cocteau at a guess - research? I don't do research!) while following her around the room like a sexually aggressive smell. Lynx Java, perhaps. He pops the question and, when she's not best pleased, rephrases it as more of a definite statement. He then goes to visit an Apothecary who has a nice line in leather-bound books and foaming conical flasks but a very poor line in advice, as he too thinks it's a capital idea for the King to marry his daughter. The King and his advisors seem to be a little bit "country". The princess, a little bit rock and roll, flits off in her dinghy to ask advice of her Fairy Godmother, the magnificent Delphine Seyrig. The foxy F.G. sings an excellent song advising that "a daughter who marries her father can expect nothing but tainted offspring". It's a bold but timely lyric and one the King should probably hear.

She sets the Princess up with a series of delaying tactics: she must demand of her father three impossible dresses; one the colour of the weather, one the colour of the moon and one the colour of the sun. If he cannot provide them for her she will not marry him. The King get's his best man on it and, with remarkable ease, the dresses are manufactured to her satisfaction. She's easily pleased: the sun dress is just gold, the moon one silver with spots and the weather dress is just clouds. Moving clouds admittedly but still just clouds!

The next request is the real stinger though: she promises to marry him if he gives her the skin of his magic bauble-shitting donkey. This is bad news; the King relies upon regular deposits from the bank of ass. He gets pondery with the quandary until the wee small hours and finally delivers the pelt personally while princess feigns sleep. Realising that she cannot escape from her father's nuptual intentions, she slips on the skin (donkey-jacket anyone?) and heads off into the night.

And there, I think, I'll leave it because I really do want everybody to see this film. This is candy-coloured craziness from first to last; a great, gaudy puzzle of a film. Look out for:

A slo-motion Catherine Deneauve, dressed as a wobbly-headed donkey, running through the forest. The flowers that wink and smile, the old lady who spits frogs, the topless women living in bushes in the King's throne room, and the ending, which has to be seen to be believed.

The only films "Donkeyskin" even vaguely resembles are "Valerie and her Week of Wonders" (a bit more Angela Carter-y) and "The Bluebird" (a bit more rubbish. Though it does feature George Cole as a dog.)Neither of which are half as much fun.

This film is beyond camp, beyond kistch and beyond much of cinema. You've seen nothing like it. So see it.

*yer actual Medieval architecture joke there.

For some reason... latest post didn't post.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

And Now The Television Screening Starts...

Finally got round to watching the first "ep" of "Noah's Castle" (not to be confused with "Noel's House-party") it is EVERYTHING you could hope for and more: faux news broadcasts, tins of dog food that cost £3 ("it'll be £6 next week") Alun Lewis turning up and being disrespectful in a beard, the "Southern" logo that we used to get growing up in in Brighton, "issues", an internal narrative, tight navy blue jeans on every one (except the dad). Dad's a nazi, mum's rubbish (this is in the days when mums were allowed, nay expected, to be rubbish on television. Except for satirical purposes.)

The country is going to rack and ruin and Ex-army dad (cravat, brilliantine, neat moustache) decides to do something about it. He buys a big house in the country and starts stock-piling rations (including whiskey - "I dont touch the stuff myself but it will be good for bartering with the locals!") How does he finance this extravagance? (which he presumably paid for out-right, as well as the fortifications and provisions) - he's the manager of a shoe shop! Odd job for an ex-military type but I hear the pay is extraordinary!

His second in command in the shoe shop (played by the ugly one out of Auf Wiedesehen Pet. The ugliest one - the pock marked scouser. Him.) is of a different stripe - he wants to help people in the coming difficulties "old people, the handicapped, children" - you know - that lot. The kids are cynical about his do-goodery but afronted by Dad's self-interested fascism - they just want to have a good time. What's gonna happen? I can't wait to find out!

Oh and the music is by Jugg Music. It's squilliant. You can read more about them here:

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

And Now the Screening Starts or Those of You Waiting for Me to Review a GOOD Film Finally...well...This Isn't It

Lifeforce. (1985) dir. Tobe Hooper. starring:Sir Aubrey Morris, Mathilda May, Patrick Stewart, That Bloke from "The Stuntman",

We begin up the arse of a disaster. A disaster, so the film claims in one of its periodic winnets of exposition, is one of the earliest names for a comet; literally an "evil star". Like Piers Morgan. Despite the film's tidal blood-letting we are never flushed from this black-hole. Which is not to say that this not a brilliant film; it may not be the last word in British cinema but it's probably the colon.

Some British Astronauts (yeah yeah yeah - the past is a foreign country etc) are being menaced in the tail of Halley's comet by a giant umbrella. Nicholas Ball glides about on a nifty and clearly non-British made jet-pack against snippets of unused incidental music from Excalibur.* It's a solidly British space mission. You can tell this because the ship is called "The Churchill" and you can open the air-lock with the head of a cork-screw. There is dialogue like "Soft-dock confirmed" and an awful lot of "Oh My Gods!". There is pencil-snapping tension as the astronauts pad about the mysterious umbrella-ship like cacky-nappied of them isn't English. Keep your eye on him.

It's thirty days later and Halley's comet is still in the sky. But three strange caskets have been brought back to earth from the mysterious ship though the astronauts have disappered.

"We were just talking about the caskets when they popped open of their own accord" says a security guard. They continue to be mysterious as they contain three sexy naked people; two boys and a girl. The girl wakes up. Peter Gothard (best porn name ever!) runs through a series of doors to see the beautiful naked alien-girl (the perfectly cast and formed Mathilda May) nipping off; the security guard already toast. Why Gothard remains immune to her charms is not altogether clear. He confesses she was "The most overwhelmingly female presence I have ever encountered". It didn't seem to do much for him.

Meanwhile, in Texas, an escape pod from the "Churchill" is found with Col. Tom Carlsen (Steve Railsback - The Stuntman, with his worried animal eyes) still alive. ("I'm sure you'd rather be recuperating with a pretty nurse.")He is flown to London and tells how the crew were drained of their life-force. In order to save Earth, The Stuntman set fire to the shuttle and escaped in the pod. During hypnosis it is clear Carlsen has a psychic link to the female alien so The Stuntman and Peter Firth, try to track the female alien down in a confusing business with Patrick Stewart and a heavily sedated woman in Yorkshire. It reminded me of Patrick Wymark's "We must allow the evil to grow" line in "Blood on Satan's Claw" - a weird caveat to justify an otherwise padded and pointless part of the film.

Some good dialogue here-

"I notice from your door that you're interested in bio-chemistry."

"That girl was no girl!"

"I'm not paid to believe nuffng, an I?"
(from the pen of Colin Wilson, ladies and gentlemen**)

The alien chaps come to life but are immediately despatched before you see any of their bits. The murdered guard wakes up at his own autopsy and makes a noise like a rusty wheel-barrow before sucking the life out of the surgeon. This needs to be nipped in the bud!

(Mooted tag-line for the film - "They're not on for long")

Mathilda turns up in a diaphonous hoodie and gives The Stuntman magical powers, as well as making him a savage hot-flush. But never mind that - Frank Finlay's turned up and he's got a magic sword!

At the 120 minute mark there is some more exposition; and not before time:

"She took some of my energy and she gave me some of her energy!"


There is an audience with the Prime Minister about the Space Vampire question. He proves to be a sweaty fella with an on-going blue-light problem. More choice dialogue:

"Sterilisation by thermo-nuclear device!" "Have you heard anything about the ship?" "Ship?" "The space ship" "Oh yeah, it's directly over London!"

We're moving at break-neck speed now! (cautionary note to The Stuntman: if you're driving through a plague of zombies, as he is now for some reason, wind your window up! You wouldn't do it at Longleat!) The magic sword works! Yay. But Frank Finlay's been got at! Boo. The space vampire turned to dust when the sword was removed.What? Meanwhile Peter Firth is being chased down tunnels by an angry mob before being startled by a Prefab Sprout poster.

The Stuntman and Mathilda have a floaty naked snog, Firth stabs them with the magic sword and she bogs off back to Spencer Tunick world in a beam of light.

And that's it. What have we learned? We have learned that smooth and urbane Henry Mancini wrote the theme for this cin-emetic. We find that Adrian Hedley from "Jigsaw" was involved as "head of mime" (where was all the mime?) And we have learned that Colin Wilson has a deft and naturalistic touch with dialogue. But we haven't learned what happened for the last two hours. That much remains a mystery.

*Wagner wrote a lot of incidental music, right. Incident packed!

** It isn't really. He wrote the original novel "Space Vampires" and had no part in the screenplay here. I'm sure his original dialogue was marked with authenticity and a vivid sense of nuance. which an elderly unknown misanthropist rails against the dead famous

I don't believe that anyone ever became famous by accident. And I don't believe that awkward people with no social skills can suddenly be thrust into the limelight, dry-mouthed and blinking, and somehow manage to sustain a career. They wanted it and they were good at getting it, the fucking liars.

Look at Laughing Lord Byron who "woke one morning to find himself famous". A disingenuous statement, Gordon, because you had actually put in some fairly shrewd ground-work before hand. Firstly you wrote and published "Childe Harold". And secondly, and this is key, you were, rather cleverly, born Lord Byron. And knobbing your sister probably didn't hurt either; but that's really just garnish. If you'd only ever written "Gassed-On Gaston of Trumpington Towers:a valet's "vol au vents" of vice" it would have been a publishing sensation because you were Lord Byron . 'Twas ever unjust!

Look at him up there with his open collar and his thinning curls. He looks like a minor royal on a boating beano. The only thing missing is a coral necklace and braying blonde, the colour and width of a pepperami.

(It's just one of those days where you get out of bed hating Lord Byron! We've all been there...)

Monday, 9 May 2011

"My son will be a sports enthusiast please do not kill him"

I saw a sign on the back of a car - "little liver on board". It took me a few moments to realise that the sign was in the shape of a red t-shirt and that, in fact, it was probably a reference to Liverpool football team.

But for a second I thought it mean't - "Please don't run into the back of my car as I have a small child but if you have to please don't pour brandy down his throat in an attempt to revive him for fear of health complications in later life."

Thursday, 5 May 2011

No thank you for the days.

Another day wasted. Another day without an interesting thought. Had some sort of weird emotional collapse yesterday - screaming and crying in front of, and to, Kelly. As if she doesn't have enough to contend with along toddles an infantile snot expulsive who used to be her husband. I haven't done anything like that before and I hope to never do anything like it again. I didn't feel better for it - I felt like I'd soiled myself; which of course I had.

I attempted to try and "walk it off" (or "run away" as it would have been if I'd been age appropriate to my outburst) Kelly just put her arms out to hug me and we hugged until the lunacy fell away.

Then we went to the hospital to hang around and not really get anything done.

And Now The Screening Starts...or "I've seen a better film on my teeth!"

Villain. (1971) dir. Michael Tuchner starring Richard Burton, Ian MacShane, Joss Ackland, Fiona Lewis,

Imagine "The Krays" scripted by the writers of "The Likely Lads". There are no gentle treatises on male identity here though, just a seething turnip-faced madman throwing a croupier out of a window. Meet Vic Dakin, East End mummie's boy and all-round bad egg, and the dropper of the afore-mentioned croupier from a great height, just because he assumes that he might be about to talk to the police. Imagine, if this is what he does to a croupier what would he do to you or I; simple, humble folk? The croupier does talk but only to ask Vic not to hurt him. This makes Vic despise him even more and he does not comply with his wishes. Next Vic's going about his business: being rude to a man with an acid stomach and dissing the general public: "Punters," he snarls, "telly all week and a fuck on Saturday!". Which sounds alright to me, actually.

The only thing he doesn't despise is pretty-boy Ian MacShane's Wolf, (that's his name, not an exotic pet) whom he fancies rotten. You can tell he fancies him as he repeatedly punches him in the stomach and flings money at him so that he can "buy a new suit".

Don't waste any tears on Wolf though, he makes his money pimping posh totty Fiona Lewis (airing her tits like a greivance) to ageing satyr Donald Sinden (every man in this film is a stuffed envelope or a stuffed bra away from corruption). MacShane's Wolf is very similar to Tony Curtis' turn as Sydney Falco in "The Sweet Smell of Success*"; two weasly, street-smart hustlers trading on their good looks. Except in that film, a decade earlier and American, Curtis only sustains a metaphorical bumming. MacShane isnt quite so lucky (though to be honest we never see him take more than a punch in the guts).

Hot on the trail of Vic and his glam-rock associates (only a horse-brass shy of being in Mud) are the indomitable Colin "The English are coming" Welland and a bloke. You can tell they're coppers because they wear trench-coats all the time and rough up narks outside betting shops. Time is surely running out for Dakin with these bloodhounds on his trail. So when Dakin sets up a job with fellow East-end toughnut T.P. McKenna (silver-haired and puckish; imagine Gay Byrne essaying a cockney gang-boss - he disappears halfway through the film and is never spoken of again). This job is well off Vic's patch and involves a suitcase with go-go gadget legs you know he's on a hiding to nothing.

I'm not a big fan of "grit". There's a world of difference between Giallo's rich, red blood, ornate stage sets and neatly appointed studio apartments and the grey and brown, mitten-on-a-railing mien of seventies London. This is a London where blue-skinned strippers perform in pasties with sleepy snakes and a gang-land boss lives in a few pokey rooms with his mum upstairs. But there is a lot to love in this film: Burton's committment to glaring madly at everyone and his lack of committment to his accent which veers from Sid James to James Cagney depending on his level of apoplexy. MacShane is appropriately oily as Wolf, but crucially, is good looking enough to get away with it; insinuating in his honeyed Northern tones (another suspiciously north-of-Watford cockney - what happened to Eastend equity in the seventies? Were they all in Hollywood playing hairdressers?). The script is littered with juicy one-liners and harder hitting than you might imagine. And I did enjoy one Clement/La Franais aside: when Vic gets serious he wants to bring "the tough-nuts down from Newcastle". Surprisingly Bob Ferris and Terry Collier don't make an appearance.

* A properly brilliant film. I should probably review that too.

And Now The Screening Starts...(or...Hooked to the Silver Screen)

Torso (1973) dir. by Sergio Martino, starring Tina Aumont, Suzy Kendall, Luc Merenda,

This may be the perfect film.It has everything that you could ever want from a film. You don't believe me? How about these for a multiplicity of pretty persuaders...opportunistic lesbianism, a hippy orgy with flute and bongo freak-outs, a bit with a scarf. A black-gloved murderer in a mask. The crumbling gorgeousness of Rome (it may well be the eternal city but it's getting on a bit!), "positive" racism as a charming postcard from a simpler, more apalling age, ditto the dribbling village idiot. A fantastic score, great cinematography and sets and did I mention girls, girls, girls. And of course it wouldn't be an early seventies Giallo without a nonsensical title: who's torso? Or who is Torso? I remember that Adam Ant's dance troupe were called "Torso" - are they in some way implicated? (Incidentally don't go looking for help from the film's original Italian title. In Italy the film was known as "I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale" or "The bodies contained traces of carnal knowledge" which is typically innacurate. Of all the murderer's victims only the first could feasibly (I nearly wrote conceivably)"traces" and even then the...cough...traces wouldn't be the murderer's.)

And...about two thirds of the way through this campy schlock-fest something astonishing happens. As (unlikely teen student)Suzy Kendell is trapped alone in a villa with the killer (and THAT's what they should have called it!) this film turns into a stunningly effective and beautifully realised suspense thriller. A pair of shoes left on the stairs, a twisted ankle and a dropped key all add up to a tortuous twenty minutes of scrotum tightening tension*.

So the plot makes no sense. So the pseudo-Freudian motivation is not so much tacked on as grafted. So there is more significant eye-to-eye contact in this film than on Sergio Leone's show-reel. The last third of this film is as tense and convincing as anything in cinema.

And if the doctor didn't receive a "Best International Cardigan" gong there is no justice in this crazy world.

* If you have no scrotum to tighten why not try tightening a friend's?

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Over-looked, over-fed and over here

No one reading this anymore? No comments for well over a week. I can't say I blame you. Those film reviews weren't all that. But then the films weren't all that either.

I thought the Bryson-lite bumbling-Brit-abroad-in-Belfast would have generated a little local heat but nobody seems to have read or noticed them. Ah well.

Monday, 2 May 2011

The Chronicles of Nornia

I've been in Belfast a month now. I've walked around, been in a couple of pubs, sourced pine-nuts and survived the Easter licensing laws. I'm no longer terrified all the time. But how did I get here? What have I seen? What were my first impressions of this small and forbidding city? What follows is an account of my first trip into the city solo, from a month ago...Was I ever that young?

Finally made it out into Belfast. It's been so long since I've written anything that the pen feels clumsy and foreign between my rusted fingers. I hope it wears off...

It takes about forty minutes to walk into the city centre from where I live (which may be called Ballyhackamore or Belmont or Knock or Dungalvan - they all seem to be fairly interchangeable). The city centre is full of enormous and impressive Victorian buildings and if I had trouble working out some of the blue-plaque venerables in London I haven't got a fucking clue over here: one was for an "Irish National and Librarian". There's one for C.S.Lewis (Irish apparently; his house is no longer there and they haven't even bothered to name the estate they built on it after him! Swizz!). I'm also about five minutes from Cyprus Avenue ( Made famous by Van Morrison's Astral Weeks' song "Madame George" which has no I found out when I attempted to hum it to my incredulous in-laws).

This wasn't my first foray out of the house. Oh no. Over the weekend Kelly and her sisters decamped to Gulladuff leaving me time to get the house un-packed and everything sorted out. One of the things I determined to do was replace my lost phone-charger ( I packed it in a clever, secure place that I wouldn't forget - it's lost to the ages now!). I'd been on a reconaissance mission in Deidre's car before-hand and realised that the way into town was down the lengthy Newtownards road (pron. "Newtown-ARDS - took me a week to master that). Unfortunately for me the Newtownards Road, like many of those modern roads that they have now, goes in two separate directions, and I found myself confidentally toddling along a motorway toward Stormont. This didn't deter me in the least - I could see a McDonalds on the horizon and a McDonalds means people and people are a large constituent ingredient of major metropolitan conurbations.

I walked for seven miles before reaching a place called Comber and then got a bus going in precisely the opposite and found a Carphone Warehouse where they stung me for twenty quid for a phone charger which was exactly twenty quid more than I paid for the phone. I knew there was something wrong about the route I was taking but I just couldn't quite put my finger on it. Then I realised...there hadn't been any mountains in the City-Centre the last time I had been there. Around the outside,sure; there's more purple fringes around Belfast than on Caesar's book-mark. But not in the City-Centre itself. That was the clue.

The good thing about living where I live is that no matter how rough I look or what I'm wearing when I go out, unless I meet my inlaws, I know I'm going to look better than anyone I meet. The people of East Belfast couldn't be called vain. Mostly they're in tracksuits; at best it's jeans and a collar-popped polo-shirt. Their face's suggest a early encounter with forceps; there are red ragged ears on every street-corner (literally on Saturday mornings). And there are the angry flushed faces (and these are faces that need flushing) hovering over cheap suits on every lamp-post. Not because they've been strung up, Mussolini style, (at least not yet) but because it's election time in Belfast. I've never known it not to be election time in Belfast; never known these worrying Tesco Branch manager portraits not to be hanging from street-lamps like so many gibbets.

Qualifying this I would say that these musings (never amusings) are based upon a week and a half's immersion in Norn culture, during which time I've been out of the house a grand total of three times and have spoken to two Fasties. One was a bus driver and that didn't go well. The other was a taxi driver and that went very well because I was half pissed and therefore half confident. That's a fifty percent success rate. I think that's probably got a slight edge on London.

Hello, present day John here again now. I would like to point out that I went on a lengthy walk this morning (at one point joining the Belfast Marathon) and I saw two people who I thought were better looking than me. They were younger than me. And it has been a long week.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

And Now The Screening Starts...

Inseminoid. dir. Norman J Warren, starring Judy Geeson, Steph Beacham, some guys,

As we look at "Inseminoid", the last film to bother cinemas* by Horror auteur Norman J Warren, questions crowd in around us: why is Steph Beacham interviewing everyone? Why did the costume designer think that in the future everyone would be dressed like Mike Nolan from Bucks Fizz**. Have the producers of "Alien" seen this film, or more importantly have their lawyers. And why, dear god why, does that woman cut her foot off?

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It's the future, or at least the future of the 80s, so that even outer-space mining colonies look like the Multicoloured Swap Shop with moon-rocks; you expect to see Cheggers bouncing off an inflatable around every corner. In this future men are wiry and balding and women rangey and horse-faced; it's "Planet of the Minor Royals". They spend their time banging holes into the crust of this mysterious planet and giving each other back-rubs. It's all pretty idyllic despite what Cliff, the socio-mythologist, (all mining parties have one of those; it's normal - you're just nit-picking)intuits about the worship of dualism in the long dead society,perhaps as a consequence of the planet having two suns. None of which we actually see. Our entire experience of the savage planet consists of an early Pink Floyd light show masquerading as a credits sequence. The rest of the film is a series of violent deaths in a series of dull interlinking caves. The caves are in fact real; much of "Insemenoid" was filmed in Wookie Hole, making the shoot cold, miserable and fatiguing for the cast. The caves have been photographed and lit in such a way as to make them look like papier-mache: you'll swear they shiver when a foot falls near them.

Anyway, plot, plot, plot: Dean, one of the wiry men, goes out, comes back with a sweaty top lip and a couple of scratches. There's a bit of business with some crystals and Judy Geeson comes a cropper from a big, rapey rubber guy who promptly disappears for the rest of the film. Geeson gives a bravarra performance here. The script allows her run the gamut of emotion, below the dignity level, and she gives it everything, gnashing teeth, rolling eyes; limbs thrashing like a tickled squid. Over a punishing and seemingly endless sequence of la Geeson screaming her head off on an operating table while the ship's doctor appears to stick a lava-lamp up her. Quite why she imagines the doctor is doing this (he seems to be a perfectly affable bloke - rangey, balding; you know the type)is not clear. Is this her mind translating unspeakable, unbearable events into a understandable human experience? Is the creature clouding her thoughts with these projected images to the same end? Is it Norman J Warren realising that the least convincing rape in cinematic history was never going to play? (Though Gabriel Byrne's full-suit-of-armour-effort in "Excalibur" comes a close second.)

After this protracted and unpleasant scene the film doesn't seem to have anywhere to go. So we get a lot of running about; Geeson in her shrink-to- fit wranglers, the top-button undone because, you know, she's pregnant. She runs around with a chin-load of gore attacking everybody (though one of the main characters appears to die of a grazed shin). I won't spoil the ending but it is a deeply unsatisfying resolution; a bit like giving up booze for January. It's a Norman J Warren film, so you can expect Captain Zepp style production values, but really it must be the least of his films: there's nothing here to match "Prey's" slow-motion-pond-fight or "Terror's" Mike Yarwood impression of Dario Argento.

*He actually made three more films after this one. But none of them bothered anything but the top shelf of your local video store.

** I always want to put a possesive apostrophe in front of the "s" in Bucks as if the fizz belonged to, say, Buck Rogers. Or a tiny deer. Or a dollar.