The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Time to Remember (Review)

Edgar Wallace Mysteries Time to RememberThis is Harry H. Corbett’s second appearance in The Edgar Wallace Mysteries series of British B movies, and it’s a very different role to Inspector Bruce in Marriage of Convenience. Corbett gave a straightforward performance as Bruce, verging on bland at times, although the climax to the film was an acting masterclass. This time, Corbett is playing Jack Burgess, a complete failure of an estate agent, who keeps hoping he will hit the big time by closing a sale on a valuable property, but can never quite manage that. His girlfriend, who is also in his employment and isn’t getting paid, is losing patience with him. From the first moment we see him in this film, Corbett gives a big performance. He was definitely born to be a comedy actor, and he does bring the character of Jack to life in a way that he failed to do with Bruce, but this is probably the first time I’ve seen a performance in any of these films that I would describe as theatrical, with the actor maybe having a little bit too much fun in the role. That’s saying something in a film that also has crooks who pronounce their words like “he’s gorn past”, and “get back to the windah”. Kudos to Genine Graham, who plays a woman with a gorblimey accent trying to pretend she’s posh enough to buy a big house, and then has the accent slip from time to time. It’s a very clever performance. Continue reading

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Girls’ Last Tour Manga Series (Review)

Girls Last Tour Manga Volume 6As is so often the case, the Girls’ Last Tour anime ended while the manga series was still ongoing. I don’t often bother to find out what happens next, but in this case the anime had really sparked my interest so I was keen to finish the story. In retrospect I’m not sure I made the right decision.

There are six volumes of the manga, and the first four were adapted almost in their entirety for the anime, so I will be concentrating on volumes 5 and 6 for this article. Just a warning: it will be impossible to write about these without extensive spoilers. Continue reading

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Crusade: The Needs of Earth

crusadeThe opening of this episode threw me a bit.  Coming off the previous episode when Gideon says there’s “nothing good on TV anyway”, I was a bit surprised by his choice of viewing but to learn it was a data crystal of Eilerson’s adds a distinct layer of comedy to the scene.  The idea that Max enjoys alien porn with Pak’Ma’Ra is strange, but then it takes all kinds!  That comedy carries through the episode as both Dr. Chambers and Gideon twist their heads to see what’s going on, and later, Dureena does the same thing.  The early episode comedy gives way to some heavy discussions at the end and I was surprised how I felt about this one by the time it wrapped up. Continue reading

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Star Trek: The Crier in Emptiness

crierThis week we explored strange new worlds with Big Finish in Doctor Who’s Divergent universe in Scherzo.  Then we sought out strange new life forms in Star Trek with The Changeling.  Before I start a different Thursday series, I wanted to come back to something I mentioned in the earlier article this week.  I went into the basement, pulled out the old turntable and listened to The Crier in Emptiness after a very long time indeed.  Was it worth the effort?

On a purely technical level, I have to say that putting on a record after all these years is a strange experience.  I had to remember how to change the speed from 33rpm to 45; the crew sounded weird enough – we didn’t need to slow them down.  But once on, there’s a sense of nostalgia and I was whisked back to my youth in an instant.  That joyful sound of a bygone era brought a smile to my face, and a tear of melancholy to my eye.   Our musical endeavors can be heard in perfect, crystal clarity nowadays but when I grew up, there were pops and hisses; a secret language of the vinyl disc heard only as it spun round and round on the turntable.  It’s a snap-crackle-and-pop that didn’t require milk to be heard.  The fact that the short story has to be flipped over to hear the second half is downright funny; the entire thing had to be less than 15 minutes, but I was too engrossed to really clock it.  (How strange that I can fit 1500 songs on a flash drive, but this album only held 15 minutes of audio!)
Continue reading

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Star Trek: The Changeling

Star Trek Opening TitlesNomad.  The very name conjures images of… Actually for me, it reminds me of a coffee pot my grandmother used to have.  It was a long, cylindrical thing made of metal that, lord knows, predated safety inspections on such devices.  The thing was metal, so when you boiled water within, the damned thing got so hot it would probably glow.  I didn’t drink coffee when I was a kid, actually I still don’t, but I was a weird little tyke and I loved Star Trek, so the most natural thing to do was… mind meld with the thing like Spock does in The Changeling.  And you know what?  I never got burned.  Be impressed!  Oh, I’m pretty sure it was hot as Dr. Helen Noel, but I did actually convince my 4 year old mind that it would not burn and hey… I’m typing away today with fully functional fingers!  (Not as tricky to say either as “fully functioning force field!”) Continue reading

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Scherzo

scherzoReturning to Big Finish after a bit of a gap has been a mixed bag and I’m desperately torn on my feelings about Scherzo.  Having left our universe at the end of Zagreus, Charley and the Doctor are in a new universe.  I can’t help but be reminded of Star Trek: Voyager; this is a great premise that is laden with risk.  If we don’t see something genuinely different, it’s just more of the same with a silly half-baked idea of actually being different.  The fact that Scherzo delivers speaks, no pun intended, volumes; we are actually in for something unusual. Continue reading

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The Spider and the Tulip (Review)

The Spider and the TulipThe recent Blu-ray and DVD release of 1945 Japanese wartime propaganda film Momotaro: Sacred Sailors comes with a bonus on the same disk, a 1943 short animation from Kenzo Masaoka. The Spider and the Tulip is absolutely enchanting, but to enjoy it you do have to be prepared to put up with an historical example of a blackface caricature. The spider facially resembles a black and white minstrel, and speaks in a deep male voice that brings to mind Al Jolson. That aside, the film is remarkably lacking in any kind of xenophobia or wartime themes, considering it was made in 1943, and was consequently not well-received by contemporary critics as it was thought to be an oddity, failing to work towards the war effort like just about any other film being made at the time. Despite the blackface villain, it stands as a testament to how humans can focus on beauty while surrounded by horror. Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Number Six (Review)

Edgar Wallace Mysteries Number SixA few entries into this series of Edgar Wallace B Movies recently have not really been murder mysteries, and once again we are into the realms of a crime thriller here rather than a mystery. That gives us only two things to care about when we watch Number Six: the identity of the undercover agent working for the police, and whether or not the latest intended victim will survive.

Charles Valentine (Ivan Desny) is a serial killer, in the opinion of Det. Supt. Hallett (Michael Goodliffe). He has formed relationships with five different wealthy young women over the last few years, and all of them ended up dead, while Valentine made off with a chunk of their money. The problem is, he always has a cast-iron alibi. Small-time crook Jimmy Gale (Brian Bedford) wants in on the action, realising that Valentine must always have an accomplice in order to have an alibi for his crimes, and this is an opportunity to learn from the best and earn a huge amount of money in the process. He proves himself by saving Valentine from an attacker, killing him, and disposing of the body. Now the rich young heiress Nadia Leiven (Nadja Regin) is on Valentine’s radar, and he has somebody to help him commit his latest crime. Continue reading

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Girls’ Last Tour Episode 12 (Review)

Girls Last Tour Episode 12 Machine Evolutionary Research SocietyConnection / Friends

The view from Igirisu:

“Why do you want to know about that stuff anyway?”
“I don’t know.”

This kind of thing has happened in every single episode of Girls’ Last Tour, providing a clever thematic structure to the series: Yuu asks a question that doesn’t have an easy answer, and then the girls experience something that brings them closer to an answer to her question. Why do we want to know about the past? Continue reading

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Crusade: The Memory of War

crusadeI realized with Memory of War that Crusade is a weird show.  I know the network gave JMS more than a little grief but this episode feels like someone thought it should be the introduction to Galen, a character that I find insanely annoying at this point.  He gets a slow-mo walk into the ship like he’s some awesomely powerful Darth Vader of the B5 universe, but we’ve already met the annoying, lower-tooth talking, big eyed starring Brit.  He has this horrendous habit of trying to sound ominous while talking about things no one should know, without ever saying why, and starring intently without blinking to really get his point across.  To compound matters, he loves pulling his hood off dramatically even when he’s been in a room for several hours. And using his Sylvester McCoy mod that all technomages have, he’s able to vanish from a room without being detected short of the hurricane that precedes him… or follows him for that matter.  I just don’t get it.  Actually I do: this was supposed to be the second episode, but that really jars severely when watching the series in the final established order. Continue reading

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Mass Effect: The Complete Comics

mass effect completeLet’s take a break from actual video games, retro or otherwise, to dive into a video game-related subject: the complete collection of Mass Effect comics.  This tome caught my eye one day and I picked it up to read a little while I sat in a bookstore waiting for my wife to be ready to go home.  A short time later and I was disappointed when she was ready to leave.  Later, when I told her about it, she made a mental note and gave me the book as a Christmas present.

To be clear, I used the word tome because this is a hefty volume; it comes in at almost 800 pages.  You wouldn’t want to ship this anywhere for fear of the price of postage!  Content-wise, I wondered how good this could be at the time I’d found it in the store and that question mark hovered over me even as I started reading it.  I mean, the games are magnificent, but they are based on how you play as Commander Shepard.  You, the player, define the character right down to the gender, so how could the writers do it any justice without ruining the experience?  Simple: Shepard is always on the outskirts of the stories, always present in some form but not the focus.  Well, actually that’s not strictly true!  S/he is the focus in fact, but you never see the commander beyond a background image.  How’s that, you ask? Continue reading

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Star Trek: Who Mourns for Adonais?

Star Trek Opening TitlesThis next episode is hard to come to grips with, but you’ve got to hand it to them, it’s an idea that is worth exploring. (Come on! I couldn’t resist. You can’t even fault me!)

The idea is that Greek God Apollo is alive and well on another planet, sitting in his throne basking in sunlight when along comes a Starship. He reaches out and brings it closer. Literally. Kirk, a bit of a hothead, decides “I won’t hear what you have to say because you’re saying it while holding me hostage” and therefore ignores everything until he angers a god. (I always say Kirk is my favorite captain, but not the one I’d want to serve under!) To prove he’s who he is, Apollo reminisces; he mentions that Spock looks like Pan. He talks about all the old Greek Gods of myth. This is basically his ID check; he’s who he says he is. And while I think this episode is a bit of a slog, I love the ideas presented here. What if the Gods of our ancient world were actually travelers from beyond the stars. I’m reminded of Clarke’s Law: any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. If that’s true, then it opens a door to all the pantheon of gods that exist and that’s something worth talking about. So it is therefore Kirk’s job to destroy them. (Again, favorite, but I’m not working for him!) Continue reading

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The Wormery

the wormeryIt’s been a while, but with life returning to normal, my job has us back in the office, so it’s time I go back to Big Finish for some more Doctor Who audio adventures.

“The audio medium can be so deceptive.”  Yeah, ain’t that the truth.  Big Finish has used audio the way a particularly skilled surgeon uses a scalpel.  We never quite know what we’re going to get with each release of Big Finish’s Doctor Who line but there’s an art in them that cannot be denied.  This is an interesting story because the entirety of part one is a relaxed visit to a cabaret.  We are introduced to Bianca’s, a nightclub in Berlin, through the melodic Scottish voice of Mickey (Jane MacFarlane).  All of part one is a build-up to the reveal that while the entrance to Bianca’s is in Berlin, the club itself is in deep space.  It was an amazingly visual image that this conjured up in my mind, but I can’t help thinking the story should have been called The Cabaret at the End of the Universe.  (Sorry, Douglas!)  ((Oh stop shaking your head – there’s at least one other Hitchhiker joke in the episode, so why not!)) Continue reading

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Momotaro: Sacred Sailors (Review)

Momotaro: Sacred SailorsIn 1945 the first ever Japanese feature-length animated film was released, funded by the Japanese Naval Ministry as a tool for propaganda. As an anime fan with a keen interest in history, I couldn’t resist purchasing this as a special edition from All the Anime. I was delighted with what arrived, a Blu-ray and DVD double set with bonus feature The Spider and the Tulip, with a fascinating book by Jonathan Clements looking at the life and work of the writer and director Seo Mitsuyo, which also examines the film in great detail. That all comes packaged in a very sturdy outer box, so this is a set that any anime fan should be proud to own. It arguably represents the birth of anime, or at the very least Japanese animation in its infancy, and it’s a minor miracle that a print of the film managed to survive the American occupation of Japan after the war, when propaganda films were confiscated and burnt. Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: The Share Out (Review)

The Edgar Wallace Mysteries The Share OutThis entry in the Edgar Wallace Mysteries series of British B movies shows us the most civilised looking criminal gang I have ever seen. They look like a group of smart business people having a meeting about their company finances, while they are actually digging up dirt on powerful people and using it to blackmail them into selling their houses at a fraction of their real value. It’s a clever scam, but it has been noticed by Det. Supt. Meredith, played again by Bernard Lee in his fourth of five appearances in The Edgar Wallace Mysteries, the third as Meredith. Continue reading

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Girls’ Last Tour Episode 11 (Review)

Girls Last Tour Episode 11 mecha giant robotCulture / Destruction / The Past

The view from Igirisu:

“Apparently some wars were caused by differing cultures.”
“Really? I wonder why.”
“Maybe because things we don’t understand are scary, or something.”

Probably the most interesting aspect of this series has been seeing Chi and Yuu’s different approaches to life, and how the combination of the two makes for such a good team. Here the implication is that fear leads to bad things… very bad things, so that would tend to suggest that Yuu’s philosophy is better. Chi points out that Yuu puts herself at risk because she’s not afraid, but Chi doesn’t because she reads to acquire knowledge, and until she is clued up about something she doesn’t want to risk anything. Continue reading

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Crusade: Racing the Night

crusadeRacing the Night bears many of the hallmarks of a pilot with a dream sequence opening that fills in a lot of background.  There’s a simple reason for that: this was meant to air first.  That decision might not have worked well at all, considering that the last episode (Appearances and Other Deceits) provided some logic behind the alternate uniforms.  Had this aired in the original order, we also would have had a major surprise spoiled way too soon: that of the Apocalypse box.  We had gotten some clues about it in a previous episode, but we haven’t seen it and I think the delay tactic works well.  I do wonder how sentient it really is though, because I’d be a bit mad being left in a cupboard all day!   What I really want to know, having never watched this series in the right order is, do we find out more?  We have just 4 episodes to go and I’ll be honest: I don’t remember which is making me a bit itchy to jump ahead! Continue reading

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Subnautica: Below Zero

As readers of the Junkyard know, I loved Subnautica.  UnknownWorlds released a survival game that kept me completely immersed without needing to create an action-packed battle game.  Instead, it’s a game that keeps your toes curling as you dive deep into the depths of an alien ocean.  When it was announced that there was a sequel coming, I was delighted but I resolved not to purchase it until it went gold (not Early Access but the finished product).  I grabbed Below Zero as soon as it was available.

20210604235146_1In some ways, Below Zero surpasses the original because the area to explore is reduced.  There are ice walls to the north and west which limits the amount of searchable space you can explore.  There’s a chasm of some depth to one other direction and, being the James Cameron of the computer gaming world that I am, I plunged into the darkness.  I was greeted by a massive horror that nearly killed me and I only survived by using an electric defense on my craft.  I realized the electronic voice that warned me away from that chasm was actually a barrier of its own: don’t go this way, it will kill you.  So that meant most of the game took place in roughly a 1000 meter area.  There were some extremely deep fissures to explore which adds that dimension and some of the finds are really exciting.  Once again, that itch gets a good scratchin’. Continue reading

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Star Trek: Amok Time

Star Trek Opening TitlesAmok Time is the first episode of season 2 and it’s a wonderful opening giving us a clue about Spock, his culture, and why we grew up with a song we all loved call Heart and Soul by T’Pau.  Well… maybe not that last one, but when T’Pau made a comment about “this” being “the Vulcan heart, the Vulcan soul”, I had a whole new respect for the song!  (And yes, they did take their name from this character, bless them!)  Anyway, enough of 80’s music.  Let’s talk about the episode. Continue reading

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Doctor Who at the Proms

promsContinuing still further on from our recent examination of Doctor Who extras, I have to take us through David Tennant and Matt Smith’s eras to some very special events: Doctor Who at the Proms.  There were three times the Doctor invaded the Proms and each included a special mini-episode meshed into the very fabric of the event.  Once again, we’re reminded of a magical time after the return of the Doctor when the series creators knew how to generate interest in the series.  Continue reading

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