Friday, August 1, 2014

Dream Documentaries


John Chambers and Sandra Marrs, aka Scottish comic book novelists Metaphrog, designed this Bryan Talbot illustration for the 'Stripped' strand of the 2013 Edinburgh International Book Festival.

RELEASED by Digital Storage Engine in May, this fascinating three-part, 142-minute DVD documentary showcases the passions and processes of one of the world's most respected and influential comic book creators. Wigan-born writer/artist Bryan Talbot emerged from underground comix in the late-70's with The Adventures of Luther Arkwright, widely labelled as the first British graphic novel. An albino assassin who gets stoned, activates his psychic powers and ends up in a parallel England where Oliver Cromwell’s rule never ended, Arkwright started as a pastiche of Michael Moorcock's Jerry Cornelius, but by the time Talbot had completed the series the work provided a template from which the likes of Alan Moore and Grant Morrison started their foreboding careers. As well as Moorcock, Talbot borrowed from the British new wave of science fiction writers and the film techniques of Nicolas Roeg, spawning the whole "mature comics" line that more noticeable figures give themselves far too much credit for.

Featuring interviews with - amongst others - Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Pat Mills, Charlie Adlard, Paul Gravett, Kim Newman and with an introduction by Moorcock, THE GRAPHIC NOVEL MAN not only puts Talbot's trailblazing developments of sequential storytelling in context, but explores the comic form in relation to other artistic endeavours. At one point novelist Ian Rankin marvels at how Talbot balances his craft - following Rankin's pains with a John Constantine one-shot - and the sequences showing the creator at work with his folders of notes, charts and tireless research even when on walking holidays are marvels to behold. Not only is the attention to detail staggering, Talbot has always maintained an integrity and pride in an often shunned artistic medium. Talbot refers to his scripts as 'Alan Moore style', referencing the detailed writing that the Northampton magus is famous for, thus being typically polite about who actually influenced who.

Talbot's underground Brainstorm Comix premiered psychedelic alchemist Chester P. Hackenbush, a character reworked by Alan Moore as Chester Williams for his run on Swamp Thing.

Over his forty-plus years in the industry, Talbot's talent absorbs a variety of styles to suit their target audiences. He says he is writer, director, costume maker and editor for each of his publications, which helps to explain the quality of detail. Described by Dez Skinn as "The David Bowie" of comics, Talbot's work is as impressive as it is diverse: Nemesis the Warlock for 2000 A.D., a tale of childhood sexual abuse in The Tale of One Bad Rat, the Grandville series which imagines an alternative steampunk reality in which France won the Napoleonic Wars and the world is populated by anthropomorphic animals, the 2013 Costa Award winning Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes co-created with wife Mary, and the existential Metronome - a textless erotically charged poem produced under the pseudonym VĂ©ronique Tanaka - illustrate this breadth of vision. His story for Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #39-40 sees Bruce Wayne's dual identity as the caped crusader revealed as just a side-effect of hysterical dissociative disorder. As Talbot states in the documentary, "I'm surprised I got away with that really." 

In 2007 he released his magnum opus Alice in Sunderland, a "dream documentary" four years in the making that immerses itself with the relationship between Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell and the Sunderland and Wearside areas. Using Carrollian scholar Michael Bute's book A Town Like Alice's as a springboard, the sprawling work is pitched as a grand entertainment staged at the Sunderland Empire, and contains a dizzying array of historical weight and illustrative collage, from watercolours and Victorian engraving, to spot-on pastiche of boy's own papers and EC horror comics. Talbot places Sunderland - and indeed the folklore of England - within a mythical dreamscape which explores the influence of space similar to the works of Iain Sinclair and Alan Moore. Narrated in the present-tense by Talbot as avatar, the many threads reveal starling connections and stories that become true on the pure basis of tales being told and retold.

“It’s alright for you middle-class cineastes to see this film, but what would happen if a factory worker from Manchester happened to see it?” James Ferman is centre stage for VIDEO NASTIES 2: DRACONIAN DAYS.

Nucleus Films' follow-up to 2010's VIDEO NASTIES: MORAL PANIC, CENSORSHIP AND VIDEOTAPE - VIDEO NASTIES 2: DRACONIAN DAYS - focuses on the years 1984 to 1999 to chart the rise and fall of BBFC supremo James Ferman. A Canadian television hack who felt obliged to think that his background in the cutting room and "social awareness" made him the perfect man for the job, Ferman was particularly obsessed with the theme of sexual violence and the use of nunchucks - he even cut the opening sequence of TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES II because Michelangelo imitates their use by swinging sausages. Ferman infamously not just censored but re-edited films, cutting horror movies to shreds and basterdised HENRY: PORTRAINT OF A SERIAL KILLER to his own dramatic whim. Documenting the Hungerford Massacre, the murder of James Bulger and the antics of MP David Alton, Jake West's documentary absorbingly shows how this bludgeoning practice only served to create a thriving underground movement of fans eager to find and trade complete cuts, consequently forming a vibrant fanzine market for such a social network to thrive. Like its predecessor it is an important historical piece in its own right, contrasting the fight for artistic freedom against the timeless ignorance of the BBFC, MPs and mainstream media.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"The Lotion Puts Her in Motion"


Keith Barron and Kenneth Cope - sporting a very 70's handlebar moustache - create BK142, a potent potion that drives women - and dogs - sex mad. Released Stateside as THE PASSION POTION, SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE unsurprisingly has only brief nudity and no titillation, but was still given an X certificate by the BBFC.

1971 was a good year in British sex cinema if you wanted to watch films that featured products driving woman insatiable. In Kenneth Turner's THE LOVE PILL, sugar balls can convert even the most of frigid of women into nymphomaniacs - as well as acting as a stringent contraceptive - and David C. Rea's SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE sees two research chemists stumble upon pink compound BK142, a scent that makes females sex mad then produces amnesia. Alan Simpson (Keith Barron) and Mike Carter (Kenneth Cope) discover the potion while working for Parker's Perfumes, but soon set-up their own laboratory in an old military barracks in Effingham. Carter tests the effectiveness of BK142 by covering himself in the formula and being chased around Piccadilly Circus by a Bunny Girl, an episode which becomes front page news when the pursuit ends up in a car sale showroom (run by Bob Todd). As part of the chemical process, the aroma makes the woman think they are having relations with glamorous stars such as Mick Jagger, Hugh Hefner, George Best and Englebert Humperdinck; cheekier encounters feature a German dominatrix who imagines Adolf Hitler, and an Old English Sheepdog sniffs Alan and imagines him as an Afghan Hound.

The film's denouement - after complications in producing a second batch of BK142, Carter suddenly makes advances on Simpson - is as laboured as the jokes; opening the picture, a psychiatrist states "the final question in our survey on sex in Britain today was answered by 8345 adult males and 6320 females. To the question "What do you do immediately following the sex act?", 2% said they did it again, 4% said they had something to eat and drink, 5% said they lit a cigarette, 7% said they went to sleep, and 82% said they got up and went home." But Barron and Cope make for loveable rogues rather than the usual loathsome oafs in British sex film circles, even though they are cheating on their wives and exploiting young girls. Of the supporting roles Richard Vernon is typically supercilious as Parker's Perfumes supremo Andrew Coombes, and SHE'LL FOLLOW YOU ANYWHERE holds the distinction of being the first - and so far only - appearance of HRH Prince Philip in a British sex comedy, here the fantasy man of Coombes' secretary Miss Crawford (Penny Brahms). An impressive dramatis personae also includes Sandra Bryant as a lab assistant, and the Collinson Twins, Andrea Allan and Me Me Lay as sexual conquests.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Prehistoric Pap

"Enter an age of unknown terrors, pagan worship and virgin sacrifice..." The "gigantic spectacle" of WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH.

AFTER the world-wide success of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., Hammer's first cash-in was actually completed while the Raquel Welch extravaganza was still in post-production: PREHISTORIC WOMEN. Even though the studio flirted with forgotten lands in 1967's THE LOST CONTINENT - whose monsters acted more as a prelude to Amicus' lost world pictures of the 70's - Hammer's follow-up to ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. proper didn't appear until late 1970. Developed into a screenplay by director Val Guest from a treatment by novelist J.G.Ballard, WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH begins with Kingsor (Patrick Allen) sacrificing blonde virgin Sanna (auburn-haired Victoria Vetri, sporting a blonde wig). She is saved when winds sweep her over a cliff and into the arms of Tara (Robin Hawdon), a man from a fishing tribe. Tara welcomes Sanna into his clan and they fall in love, much to the annoyance of Ayak (Imogen Hassall). When the moon appears in the sky for the first time the tribe panics, with Ayak accusing Sanna of witchcraft. The outsider flees into the jungle where she is forced to survive amid prehistoric beasts, which includes being accepted by a mother dinosaur as one of her own hatchlings.

The real curse of ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. was that Hammer found itself unable to afford the star attraction of Welch, or control the runaway success of its stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen. Harryhausen was engaged with THE VALLEY OF GWANGI, and suggested Ohio-born SPFX creator Jim Danforth to lead Hammer's visual effects department on the picture. Danforth would eventually be rewarded with an Academy Award nomination, but only after an exhausting association with his employers. With little time for location work, a decreasing deadline and spiralling budget, he was aided by Roger Dicken, David Allen and Brian Johnson. With the use of real-life lizards and alligators acting as padding, the production still had to lose two major effects sequences: one involved a horde of giant ants, the other involving two pterodactyls. Against this backdrop of blood, sweat and tears, Danforth delivers a number of memorable scenes, such as villagers fighting off a rampaging Plesiosaur with flames, and a Triceratops pursuing a caveman to the edge of a precipice.

Imogen Hassall is jealous cave girl Ayak. Referred to as "the countess of cleavage" because of her revealing outfits worn at film premieres, the actress was a regular performer in 60's and 70's cinema and television. In 1980 - at the age of 38 - she committed suicide at her Wimbledon home by overdosing on Tuinal tablets.

21-year-old Vetri is hardly an equal to the iconic memories of Raquel Welch. In fact, in Tom Weaver's 2003 McFarland interview book Double Feature Creature Attack, Guest describes the starlet as "a nitwit" and "a real nothing, and a very strange mixed up lady." As Angela Dorian, Vetri was Playboy's Playmate of the Month for September 1967 and subsequently was the 1968 Playmate of the Year. Before donning the fur bikini, Vetri turned down the title role of Stanley Kubrick's LOLITA, and worked mainly in television - including BATMAN and STAR TREK - but she did have a bit part in Roman Polanski's ROSEMARY'S BABY. Later appearing in sexploitation entries INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS and GROUP MARRIAGE, the actress made headlines in 2010 for shooting her fourth husband, Bruce Rathgeb. A year later the charge against Vetri was reduced from attempted murder to attempted voluntary manslaughter, to which she pleaded no contest. The judge sentenced her to nine years in state prison.

The Canary Island locations give WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH an expansive glow that belies the merits of such a juvenile fantasy. As with ONE MILLION YEARS B.C., there is no intelligible dialogue, only a series of grunts and gesticulations; in Wayne Kinsay's book Hammer Films: The Elstree Studio Years, Guest states "I invented and wrote a whole new language. I actually thought if we could do this really believing in what you're doing we may get away with it." Ballard said that he was "very proud that my first screen credit was for what is, without doubt, the worst film ever made." Why such an experimental new wave science fiction author would become involved with a Hammer dinosaur picture has remained a mystery. In the finished product, the writer's main plot thread of the formation of the moon is placed after the coming of man but before the extinction of the dinosaurs, heartily accompanied by a choir of heavenly voices.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"All things digested have a similar hue"

The Music of Matt Berry

Having released his first two albums himself, Matt Berry made his third long player Witchazel available for a one-day free download in 2009 before receiving a wider release via Acid Jazz two years later.

Infused with a WICKER MAN-like Englishness, the music and lyrics of Bedfordshire-born Matt Berry consistently astounds. With comedic star turns in GARTH MARENGHI'S DARKPLACE and THE IT CROWD, his acting roles often see him flesh-out a unique vocal range, which has resulted in a lucrative side career in voice-overs. It’s a rich, womanising tone that strikes as if some noble medieval player is recounting adventures in his twilight days. Influenced by late 60s/early 70s psych-rock, Berry avoids pure tribute or pastiche by an immersion with wind-swept landscapes and askew texts. Inspired by Mike Oldfield, Berry has realised his childhood dream by playing almost everything on his albums bar drums, sax and clarinet. The actor/musician has also produced a series of idiosyncratic tunes which has lined everything from his undervalued BBC3 dark comedy SNUFF BOX to the spot-on JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR parody AD/BC: A ROCK OPERA and compositions for Steve Coogan's SAXONDALE.

Berry's Opium album, released in 2008, defies description; built loosely around the concept of what goes through the mind of a Hangman, it is rich in sound bytes from SNUFFBOX and has some memorable macabre boasts ("All things digested have a similar hue"). In contrast Witchazel is an enchanting psych-folk masterpiece, benefiting from a sound that is progressive without relying on the overblown pomposity that came to be associated with the sub-genre during the 70s. 2013's Kill the Wolf - taking its title from English folklore that demands a ritual wolf sacrifice for any "evil" communial happening - continues Witchazel's pastoral journey but with a more bleached-out palate. Equally evocative, the opening track 'Gather Up' is a mesmerising circular chant that draws the listener out of modern meltdown into the natural world; and the nine minute centrepiece 'Solstice' is an epic of Pink Floyd proportions, a two-part progression awash with guitar solos, clarinet and harpsichord.

Sporting a cover painted by Berry, Music For Insomniacs is a slow-building composition of calm.

Recorded during pre-dawn sessions at his London flat before Kill the Wolf, Berry's two-tiered, 45-minute electronic patchwork Music For Insomniacs was released on the 19th of May (in fact, the first movement ends with a programmed sequence that would go on to become Kill the Wolf’s 'October Sun.') Taking in his beloved Oldfield and anything from Brian Eno and Jean Michel Jarre to Aphex Twin, the album negates his recent prog-folk preferences to create an ambient piece that aims to "colour your dreams." Partly recorded during actual bouts of insomnia, the work patiently evolves with numerous synths, pianos, woodwinds and found-sounds which includes babies crying and a creaking door taking on the gravitas of some giant wooden hull. Such experimental self-indulgence may provide a jolt to devotees eager for the next Witchazel, but as Berry has stated on his website, "if the experiment is successful, you shouldn’t remember it."

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Old Familiar


"I'm Siege Face"; at last, Norfolk's finest is brought to the big screen in the uproarious ALAN PATRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA

ALAN PARTRIDGE: ALPHA PAPA sees self-proclaimed broadcasting kingpin Alan Partridge (Steve Coogan) working as a DJ in the mid-morning slot at North Norfolk Digital, together with Sidekick Simon (Tim Key). When the station is taken over by the Gordale media conglomerate and renamed Shape ("The Way You Want It To Be"), Alan finds himself defusing a violent siege set in motion by the firing of fellow North Norfolk DJ Pat Farrell (Colm Meaney). Using the situation in an attempt to boost his own career, Partridge acts as mediator between Farrell and the police, with hostages caught in the crossfire. Written by Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Steve Baynham and Rob and Neil Gibbons, ALPHA PAPA successfully takes Partridge's long-standing entertainment persona and fully injects it with a claustrophobic yet cinematic scale. Fans will love to see regulars like harassed PA Lynn Benfied (Felicity Montagu) and Michael the Geordie (Simon Greenall) well into the mix, and Coogan's portrayal of his most famous alter ego is totally at one with the environment.

The most painfully endearing character created by Iannucci and Chris Morris for radio's 'ON THE HOUR' - which morphed into the prophetic TV hit THE DAY TODAY - Partridge started as an inept sports reporter, a man able to grasp only the rudimentary aspects of communication. Coogan - a renowned comedic perfectionist - made Partridge a true great of British comedy, and his acute embarrassing situations, which included shooting a guest dead on his chat show KNOWING ME, KNOWING YOU, set the scene for the next masterstroke of squirmedy, Ricky Gervais' David Brent. In fact, Partridge has been under siege all his life, a car-crash of an existence that has been undermined by terminal - but chirpy - interpersonal skills and a trademark 'sports casual' look. It is a career that has mirrored the rise of media and consequent decline in any real value; radio, TV, mockumentaries, webisodes and now film have all danced to his deflatory tune for over twenty years, illustrating a fluidity in format that has helped keep the character fresh.

The boys are back in town: old school friends aim to revive past glories in Edgar Wright's disappointing conclusion to the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, THE WORLD'S END. 

On the more abrasive comedy scale, THE WORLD'S END - Edgar Wright's completion of the loose trilogy started with SHAUN OF THE DEAD and continued with HOT FUZZ - tells of Gary King (Simon Pegg), who has always regretted failing to finish 'The Golden Mile' on his last day of school (a circuit of twelve pubs in his uneventful home town of Newton Haven). Obsessed with the idea that completing the task would make up for all his mistakes, he persuades his original 'Mile' mates - over two decades later - to abandon their respectable lives and recreate the crawl. Car salesman Peter Page (Eddie Marsan), estate agent Oliver Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), architect Steven Prince (Paddy Considine) and lawyer Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) are drawn into the venture, despite festering resentments towards Gary. When King has an altercation with a youth in the Gents who turns out to be a blue-blooded robot drone, it becomes apparent that the whole town - except for a few willing collaborators (including one played by Reece Shearsmith) – have been replaced by replicants under the control of aliens called The Network. These beings have guided recent technological advances for the human race and are determined to enforce conformity across the universe.

At a time when numbers of the quintessential British public house are ever diminishing, THE WORLD'S END takes the notion of the pub crawl and turns it into a quest of almost Arthurian nature. Although an entertaining romp, awash with the director's trademark editing frenzy, there is nothing new here despite cast and crew proclaiming how profound its message. Individuality is - quite literally - King, forced home by the use of Primal Scream's soundbyte from THE WILD ANGELS ("free to do what we want to do"). The climactic verbal melee between Gary, Andy and Steven with The Network ultimately ends with the aliens giving up trying to talk to the humans and telling them to "fuck it". By Gary convincing the aliens that mankind is not worth winning over - and in a flat coda Andy, in London ruins, explaining to children that the alien withdrawal led to an apocalypse - the film drowns in its aura of fractured relationships and failed opportunities. Whereas THE WORLD'S END ticks the boxes of its own making, ALPHA PAPA takes its own dysfunctional family and moulds a far more successful whole.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Much Ado About Murder


"What a funny lot!" Frankie Howerd hold the key to 
SINISTER shenanigans are afoot in Peter Sykes' THE HOUSE IN NIGHTMARE PARK, an alleged horror comedy written by Clive Exton and Terry Nation. Described by George Melly as "as British as nailing a kipper to the underside of an unsympathetic seaside landlady's dining-room table," the film follows Edwardian thespian Foster Twelvetrees (Frankie Howerd) - "Greatest Master of the Spoken Word" - scraping a living by giving hammy performances to embarrassed audiences. Invited to give a reading - so he believes - at a spooky mansion owned by the Hendersons, the actor finds himself embroidered in a nefarious plot involving deadly snakes, hidden family secrets and a mad woman in the attic. For the turn of the 1970s, the sets here have a fittingly faded and tired look for the dilapidated gothic sub-genre, and direct references are plenty: THE CAT AND THE CANARY and PSYCHO are chiefly evoked, and the Henderson's heritage - like the protagonists of THE REPTILE and THE GHOUL - are Anglo-Indian.

Howerd looks uncomfortable in his starring role: with no asides to camera and his opportunity for innuendo cut to a minimum, the comedian seems subdued (apart from the classic line "Do I play the piano? Does Paganini play the trumpet?"). Aside from Howerd, the actors portraying the Henderson's are an arresting group: Ray Milland heads the clan as the blandly evil Strewart, Hugh Burden is abrasive retired major Reggie, Kenneth Griffith is homicidal vet Ernest and Elizabeth MacLennan is effective as unconventional heroine Verity. If the humour itself falls flat, the film works better as a straight horror, especially a veiled old crone in black with a meat clever and a truly bizarre dance sequence - akin to an episode of THE AVENGERS - where the family relive their time as "Henderson's Human Marionettes."

Vincent Price - in a tour-de-force performance - and
Robert Morley in THEATRE OF BLOOD.

Douglas Hickox's THEATRE OF BLOOD tells of Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart (Vincent Price) who - with the aid of daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) and a community of down-and-outs  - murders members of a self-absorbed 'Critics Circle' for failing to give him the recognition he feels he deserves. Apparently committing suicide, Lionheart returns to mastermind a series of Bard-inspired demises, including nods to Julius Caesar (stabbing), Cymbeline (beheading), The Merchant of Venice (an improvised pound of flesh) and in the most memorable scene Meredith Meridew (Robert Morley) is fed his own "children" in a pie (here, poodles) in a reference to Shakespeare's bloodiest play, Titus Andronicus. The most literate of all horrors, THEATRE OF BLOOD is also filled with sly visual Shakespearean motifs, down to the name of an outside broadcast unit ([Stratford-Upon-]Avon Television). Price was particularly enthused by the quality of cast around him - which included Michael Hordern, Arthur Lowe, Dennnis Price, Diana Dors, Madeline Smith - and brings pathos to a role that gave him a an opportunity to exorcise his own critical demons.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bowels of Hell


An Englishman, Irishman and Scotsman go to a church... Graham Humphreys' poster art for THE BORDERLANDS ("Where faith goes to die.") Unfriendly locals, a burning sheep and mysterious footage open up a bottomless pit of horror.

WHEN claims of a supernatural event are made at a remote church in the west of England, a Vatican-sanctioned team of investigators are sent to access the situation. Working under an organisation called The Congregation, Brother Deacon (Gordon Kennedy), Father Mark (Aidan McArdle) and technology expert Gray (Rob Hill) investigate the claims of Father Crellick (Luke Neal) that during a filmed baptism various religious artefacts are seen vibrating on an altar. Gray fits CCTV equipment to the church and the cottage where the trio are staying, with each of the members also wearing a headcam. As events take a darker turn with Crellick's suicide, the team start to question their own judgements when they - quite literally - start to travel into the labyrinthine bowels of hell. 

The found footage sub-genre can be conceptually and technically limiting, but with the right dynamics the format can be greatly enhanced. Such is the case with first time writer/director Elliot Goldner's THE BORDERLANDS, which excels both as a character study and an exploration of the beliefs of Old England. Kennedy and Hill make for an unlikely dynamic duo - Deacon is a gruff hard-drinking Scotsman answering to the Vatican, Gray a talkative agnostic Englishman only in it for the money - but the actors gel on screen. McArdle makes for stilted Irish head of operations, and this viewer yearned to see Reece Shearsmith in the role. The use of headcams as POV make for a smoother and more sensible ride than the obligatory handhelds, which seem to remain relatively intact whatever the situation in other found footage pictures. The surveillance cameras maintain an eerie perspective within the church - capturing a vibe which melds THE STONE TAPE with EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING - but there is also a fertile depth into a Pagan time of more tangible beliefs, against the modern era where we need to believe.

Like all memorable horror, THE BORDERLANDS' locations, characters and themes form a successful whole.

What can be best termed British rural horror is defined by two main characteristics: quietly sinister country locals (when asking for directions and ignored, Gray snipes back "Give my regards to Edward Woodward") and foreboding ancient terrors - often subterranean. Robin Hardy's quintessential folk horror THE WICKER MAN still burns bright forty years on because of its intrinsic links to Britain's land-based otherworldliness. Even though the countryside and the elements portray a deft mythology, counterculture has added another layer since The Beatles included Aleister Crowley on the cover of Sgt Pepper in 1967. As Vic Pratt states in his Sight & Sound article 'Long Arm of the Lore' (October 2013), "folk custom, witchcraft and the occult were no longer absurdities; they might almost be an option."

Making exemplary use of locations in Denbury, South Devon, THE BORDERLANDS climax is filmed extensively at Chislehurst Caves, Kent. The Caves themselves are enveloped with a rich history of uses; originally a 22-mile stretch of man-made chalk and flint mines, this popular tourist attraction acted as an ammunition depot in the First World War and mushroom cultivation in the 1930s. Built by Druids, Romans and Saxons, this colourful past led the Caves to be a music venue used by the likes of the Rolling Stones and Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin's Swan Song label had a launch party there in October 1974. Additionally, the location has also been used in the 1972 DOCTOR WHO adventure THE MUTANTS, and substituted for an underground space headquarters in Norman J.Warren's alien horror INSEMINOID.