Thursday, April 17, 2014

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.
~ Stephen C. Jilks

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Masculinity and Madness

KILL LIST (2011)

The final third of KILL LIST descents into a WICKER MAN-like nightmare, with a climactic nod to A SERBIAN FILM.

IRAQ War veteran Jay (Neil Maskell)'s mood swings and unemployment are causing frictions with wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) and disrupting their connection to seven-year-old son Sam (Harry Simpson). After a dinner party with fellow vet Gal (Michael Smiley) and his new girlfriend Fiona (Emma Fryer) is also disrupted by an argument, Gal invites Jay to renew their partnership as professional hitmen. Made to sign a contract in blood, the duo are given three targets by a strange syndicate: a priest who may or may not have links to paedophilia, a librarian with a stash of violent videos, and an MP who lives in a secluded mansion. After Gal is fatally stabbed by one of many pagan celebrants near the mansion, Jay is forced into a knife fight with a masked 'hunchback', which ends with him being crowned by the cultists.

This visceral genre-bending crime-horror, shot around Sheffield, is the second feature from writer/director Ben Wheatley after 2009's DOWN TERRACEThe reactions and strange dialogue by people on the 'kill list', together with a bizarre visit to the doctors, enhance Jay's - and the viewer's - disorientation (the priest even thanks his executioners). We share the lead's emotional roller-coaster because the kitchen sink naturalism draws you to the characters before the brutality feeds in. Shel is trying to hold her family together despite financial worries and Jay's confrontational demeanour, while Jay struggles to control his psychotic episodes (possibly a post-traumatic stress disorder related from his tour, or mental scars from a 'job' in Kiev, details of which are never fleshed out). A conclusion that the hitmen have been victims of an entrapment conspiracy at the hands of the mysterious Client (Struan Rodger) still cannot explain all of the narrative ambiguities, especially when the latter refers to the act of "reconstruction."

Lambs to the slaughter: Michael Smiley and Neil Maskell play hitmen haunted by the past in this surreal offering.

KILL LIST is an artfully constructed shocker with strong performances and violence which is so jarring because of these convictions. The film also explores Wheatley's preference for a sinister Old England, a metaphysical existence where the landscape has a deep-rooted characteristic for bad vibes (a notion further explored in his next film SIGHTSEERS, and taken to its zenith with the extraordinary A FIELD IN ENGLAND). The filmmaker is arguably the greatest British talent to emerge since Ken Russell or Lindsay Anderson, an audacious creative force which produces works that defy any fixed categorisation. Next up for Wheatley are the first two episodes of Peter Capaldi's DOCTOR WHO tenure, and a film adaptation of J.G. Ballard's 1975 novel HIGH-RISE, which offers him an urban setting to warp the human psyche.
~ Stephen C. Jilks 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Crash and Tyburn

THE GHOUL (1975)

LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF on the cover of the last issue of Monster Mag (Vol 2 #4, August 1976).

SON of cinematographer and director Freddie Francis, Kevin Francis founded Tyburn in an attempt to recreate the Hammer Horrors of his childhood. A slaughterhouse employee turned Hammer staffer - he had provided the outline for TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA - the problem was that it was 1973, and horror cinema was becoming immersed in a new realism. Freddie would helm the two pictures here, yet his well documented disdain for the genre - and even greater contempt for its fans - would be mixed with a problematic working relationship with his son. LEGEND OF THE WEREWOLF sees wolves adopt a young boy named Etoile, who is discovered by a freak show fronted by Maestro Pamponi (Hugh Griffith). After growing up, Etoile (David Rintoul) makes his way to Paris where his ability to communicate with animals impresses a zookeeper (Ron Moody) who offers him a job. When Etoile becomes infatuated with prostitute Christine (Lynn Dalby), his resentment for her clients makes him transform into a werewolf. Piecing together the mystery, police pathologist Professor Paul (Peter Cushing) becomes convinced that a man-wolf is responsible.

As with CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, the picture is based on Guy Endore's 1933 novel The Werewolf of Paris, and is also written by Anthony Hinds. It was originally announced under the misleading title of PLAGUE OF THE WEREWOLVES, and even though the film may return the story to its Parisian setting, this tepid production portrays its wolf attacks with suitably mundane rapid cuts, red-tinted POV shots and close-ups of bloodied fangs. Thankfully the performances are earnest and entertaining: Cushing is unsurprisingly the star as he gradually unravels the crimes, Dalby gives a sympathetic performance as the archetypal tart with a heart, and Moody passes amicably as the abrasive zookeeper. Of the supporting players Roy Castle is typically irritating as a squeamish and bumbling photographer, while Michael Ripper makes the most of his cameo as "Sewerman."

Don Henderson as THE GHOUL. Prior to becoming an actor, Henderson was a detective sergeant with Essex police; ironically his most celebrated role was as fictional crime stopper George Bulman, who appeared in three TV series: THE XYZ MAN, STRANGERS and BULLMAN.

Taking advantage of sets built for THE GREAT GATSBY, THE GHOUL is a much more feverish affair. The film opens with four upper class twits - Geoffrey (Ian McCulloch), Angela (Alexandra Bastedo), Billy (Stewart Bevan) and Daphne (Veronica Carlson) - embarking on a car race to Land's End. But as fog closes in on Daphne and Billy, the blonde is whisked away by unhinged gardener Tom (John Hurt) to the remote mansion of defrocked clergyman Doctor Lawrence (Peter Cushing). Lawrence has returned from India with a family secret and a mystical servant (Gwen Watford), and unbeknown to Lawrence’s visitors, his son (Don Henderson in sandals) resides in the attic and suffers from uncontrollable bouts of stabbing and cannibalism.

Moving between misty marshlands and interior splendour, THE GHOUL exists in a hazy otherworld, with Cushing's commanding performance providing the actor with several art-imitating-life moments as he mentions his departed wife. As with the Vulcan favourite CITY OF THE DEAD, THE GHOUL shares striking similarities with the structure of PSYCHO. We have a strong-willed blonde literally racing cross-country before stopping to rest at a location where she is murdered; even the killing is Hitchcockesque with a knife cutting shower-like curtains (here, it is mosquito netting that surrounds her bed). Daphne's car is also disposed of with a push (here a cliff rather than a bog) and Geoffrey is disbatched Martin Balsam-like falling backwards down stairs. The production also plays like a recycling of Hammer's THE REPTILE, with its English family corrupted by an evil Indian sect.
~ Stephen C. Jilks

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Perils of Linda Hayden

BABY LOVE (1968)

An excellent kitchen sink drama transported to a wealthy homestead, BABY LOVE portrays damaging and unsatisfied relationships that toil away whatever the background.

BABY LOVE is a complex, underrated sexual pot-boiler, based on the novel by Tina Chad Christian, which sees Luci (Linda Hayden, in a striking debut) live with her promiscuous, hard-drinking mother (an ethereal Diana Dors). Coming home from school she discovers her mother's body in the bathtub, the parent having slit her wrists. Doctor Robert Quayle (Keith Barron), the mother's former lover, receives a letter pleading with him to look after the wayward child. Robert takes Luci to his luxurious home on a trail basis, where she meets his wife Amy (Anne Lynn) and their teenage son Nick (Derek Lamden). Luci holds Robert responsible for her mother's death, and soon her developing sexuality causes friction, manipulating the mechanics of the household by teasing Nick and making advances to Amy.

Hardly a Lolita clone, Luci is a young woman struggling with her feelings of loss at such an informative age, craving the love and intimacy that has been taken away from her; even the attentions of a stranger is better than no attention at all (in one scene, she welcomes a man stroking her legs at a cinema). Hayden - who allegedly lost her virginity during a publicity tour for the film - is amazingly mature in posture and shows, even at this age, that she has no qualms about stripping off for the camera. Indeed, you have to wonder how these scenes - especially when linked with her provocative actions - were ever allowed. Similar to Nastassja Kinski's involvement in TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, at the age of fifteen Hayden is shown naked from behind and also has a few brief topless scenes, blatantly breaking UK obscenity laws and making it extremely unlikely that BABY LOVE could ever get a certificate from the BBFC today. The rare ‘18' rated VHS releases from 1988 and 1994 also seem to show a lack of knowledge by the censorship board.

While BABY LOVE didn’t provide the stardom that producer Michael Klinger had been grooming Hayden for, it did lead to a career in horror and sexploitation, such as this cameo in QUEEN KONG. 

The film explores resentment and tension with ambiguous relish. For example, when Luci grasps Amy's breast in bed (as she sucks her thumb in her sleep) the viewer can either see the sequence as subconscious lesbian flirtation or a child's need for the comfort of a mother's bosom. Thus Amy's growing frustration may be a sexual one, or that the baby girl she has so craved - particularly in an increasingly cold marriage and masculine household - has instead come to her as a young woman. The film has been criticised of taking a more melodramatic slant at the climax, but the shift does illustrate the level of psychological damage Luci has suffered. And the final scene shows Luci's blossoming from the nubile orphan's twisted sexuality to a maturing manipulater who uses allure as her main instrument of communication.

At the other end of the cinematic spectrum, Hayden appeared as The Singing Nun in the atrocious feminist "comedy" QUEEN KONG. Rushed into production on the news that Dino de Laurentiis was remaking the 1933 RKO classic (Dino subsequently issued an injunction against the picture's release), we follow the antics of filmmaker Luce Habit (Rula Lenska), who takes Ray Fay (Robin Askwith) - and her all-girl crew - to Africa on yacht The Liberated Lady. Eventually reaching “Lazanga Where They Do the Konga,” they discover a tribe where men are the servants. The Queen (Valerie Leon) prepares Ray as a sacrifice to the simian goddess, but the gorilla is so taken with the hippie dropout she takes him to her lair. When Luce and her crew rescue Ray, they manage to subdue the beast and return to London. But unlike the original, Queen Kong is saved when Ray rallies the oppressed women of our capital. Playing like a terminal merger between the CONFESSIONS and CARRY ON franchises, the only amusement is playing "spot the extra," which includes VAMPYRES star Marianne Morris and Vicki Michelle.
~ Stephen C. Jilks

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Composite Beings and Zombie Bikers


In SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN, two hikers out on the moors are being shot at by Nazi-like soldiers. The female ambler is  played by a pre-LUST FOR A VAMPIRE Yutte Stensgaard, who is subsequently taken to a castle for torture.

BOTH these pictures come from a period in British horror where more outlandish themes were being explored rather than the increasingly dated Hammer Gothics. Gordon Hessler's SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN is a conspiracy thriller like no other, an AIP/Amicus co-production that features a delirious mix of body parts, gallows humour and police pursuits. With the major draw of Vincent Price, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, the film basically is another take on the Frankenstein legend. Opening with a runner collapsing in a London park and finding himself waking in a strange hospital where he's missing a leg, the story weaves its way through three main plot threads: rogue general Konratz (Marshall Jones) murdering his way into power of an unnamed Eastern bloc country; serial vampire rapist Keith (Michael Gothard) preying on young women he picks up in 'happening' nightclubs; and Dr Browning (Vincent Price)'s Composite programme, a plan to infest the world with controllable beings of organic and synthetic tissue.

Based on the 1966 SF novel The Disorientated Man by "Peter Saxon" - in reality a pen name used by W.Howard Baker and Stephen Frances - the film rights were picked up by Milton Subotsky, who turned in his usual old-fashioned treatment which was re-written by Christopher Wicking. The resulting screenplay is remarkably faithful to the book, apart from dropping an alien explanation for a paranoid political message. Price fares best of the top-billed stars, with Lee and Cushing given disposable roles: the former as a government official and the latter as a very disposable military superior. However it is Gothard and Alfred Marks - who apparently ad-libbed much of his dialogue as Inspector Bellaver - who give the most memorable performances. Marks shines in the grand pantheon of disgruntled police inspectors that populate British horror, and in a part described by Jonathan Rigby in English Gothic: a Century of Horror Cinema as resembling "a bionic Mick Jagger", Gothard carries out a very unpleasant alley attack and later there is a celebrated car chase sequence. Its all infectiously ridiculous, capped by a maniacal climactic battle between Browning and Konratz, filled with a vulcan-like shoulder squeeze and hearty swings of a gas cylinder.

John Cameron's score is the highlight of PSYCHOMANIA, essentially a rock soundtrack that achieves the gravitas of a sweeping orchestra.

Don Sharp's PSYCHOMANIA tells of Tom Latham (Nicky Henson), the leader of The Living Dead motorcycle gang, who terrorise the Home Counties and hang around standing stones called The Seven Witches. Tom's mother (Beryl Reid) is a medium aided by butler Shadwell (George Sanders), and there is a mystery surrounding the death of Mr Latham ("Why did my father die in that locked room? Why do you never get any older? And what is the secret of the living dead?") When Tom achieves "the ton," he crashes off a bridge and dies; the gang bury him upright on his bike, and he comes back to life a couple of days later, terrorising the local populace and convincing his gang members that in order to come back from the dead you only have to believe you will. Only Tom’s girlfriend Abby (Mary Larkin) refuses.

PSYCHOMANIA's incoherent and kitsch charm mixes the trademark tranquil eccentricity of British horror with Frog cults and zombie bikers, becoming a metaphor for teen rebellion and anger at the establishment (all the members of The Living Dead want to do is cause trouble and "blow some squares’ minds"). The film was almost universally blasted by critics on release - The Times wrote that PSYCHOMANIA was only fit to be shown at an "SS reunion party" - but today this Benmar production is a guilty pleasure. Like Tom's early exchange with Shadwell, there are more questions than answers: what actually occurred at Tom's birth?; what is the history of the magic room?; who is Shadwell servant to?; and did Mrs Latham's powers turn seven witches into the standing stones? Henson is the lifeblood, but Sanders' bizarre presence has the distinction of seemingly being the film that drove the actor to suicide. Leaving behind an aptly Wildesque note, Sanders wrote "Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck."
~ Stephen C. Jilks

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mystic Albion


"A man with a ginger face and an angry woman." Comedians Steve Oram and Alice Lowe wrote - and star in - SIGHTSEERS.

DIRECTED by Ben Wheatley, SIGHTSEERS is a jet-black comedy that merges NUTS IN MAY with an anorak NATURAL BORN KILLERS. Thirtysomething Tina (Alice Lowe) - suffering from guilt over the death of her dog Poppy by knitting needle - embarks on a north-country caravan holiday with new boyfriend Chris (Steve Oram), despite reservations from her neurotic mother Carol (Eileen Davies). Introducing Tina to his "world," the break takes in Crich Tramway Village, Keswick Pencil Museum, Kimberley Stones and the Ribblehead Viaduct. However, Chris' overtly strict rules and class resentments result in a number of brutal killings, and Tina herself turns feral, which includes pushing Martin (Richard Glover) and his beloved mini-caravan invention - the Carapod - off a cliff. When the couple burn their caravan and ascend the Viaduct in a suicide pact, at the last moment Tina lets go of Chris's hand as he falls to his death alone.

SIGHTSEERS blends that favourite strand of British comedy - the comedy of humiliation - with our wondrous environment that we too readily dismiss of exploring because of the bloody weather. As we follow Chris and Tina, wildness grows as the world opens up from their suburban strait-jackets. Among this landscape-based coming of age story the two leads are effortlessly naturalistic, and Laurie Rose's widescreen photography fully captures the depth and wonder of the countryside, but there are too few laugh-out-loud moments and developing ideas, particularly for a film which has had such a long gestation period. The killings are of comedy-sketch stereotypes: a litterbug oaf, a drunk bride-to-be, snooty walkers and ramblers ("I never thought about murdering an innocent person like that before") and a cyclist all perish during the running time, as Chris eloquently notes on his nerdy BONNIE AND CLYDE set-up that he only wants "to be feared and respected - that's not too much to ask for from life, is it?"

A FIELD IN ENGLAND is the latest in a long line of films that aim to tap into the mysteries and dark forces of the English environment. The field is a character itself, an ethereal and disorientating space cinematically similar to the windswept marshes of Kaneto Shindo's celebrated ONIBABA.

Wheatley's following film - A FIELD IN ENGLAND - is a weird and wonderful Civil War art-horror which was simultaneously released in cinemas, on DVD, on Freeview and VoD. It has a spectral Englishness that evokes the dying loyalty of WITCHFINDER GENERAL and the seeping arcania present in BLOOD ON SATAN'S CLAW. Here, Rose's monochrome photography echoes Peter Watkin's CULLODEN, especially in the opening chaotic skirmish, where Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) escapes from battle and is soon joined by deserters Jacob (Peter Ferdinando) and Friend (Richard Clover). When Cutler (Ryan Pope) appears, he leads the three into a large field encircled by mushrooms. Here we meet alchemist O'Neil (Michael Smiley), of whom Whitehead identifies as the man he has been pursuing for having stolen manuscripts from his master, a black magician in Norfolk. When O'Neil reveals that there is a hidden treasure in the field, Whitehead is led to O'Neil's ramshackle tent and - after a prolonged bout of screaming - emerges roped and in an eerie, hypnotic trance...

The simultaneous release ploy - previously tried to a lesser extent by horrors THE EVIL DEAD and MUM & DAD - perhaps is the future, but particularly suits this picture as its genre-mashing doesn't fit anywhereA FIELD IN ENGLAND is filled with authentic dialogue and a tiredness towards conflict and God ("I know what God is punishing us for ... for everything"); indeed, the Civil War is merely a hook for the smoke and mists, and the picture plays out like a road movie, where the developing friendships are more important than the end result. Even the supernatural undertones of runic stones, magic mirrors and mushroom circles are left without explanation. Instead the viewer is in an otherworldly landscape ("There are only shadows here") where the characters may have all been killed on the battlefield (inexplicably, Friend is even resurrected later on), or that Whitehead hallucinates the situation, either by eating magic mushrooms or suffering concussion. 

Hunter turned hunted: Reece Shearsmith plays A FIELD IN ENGLAND's Whitehead in this impressively haunting trip into the English psyche.

Greatly benefiting from his time with THE LEAGUE OF GENTLEMEN, Shearsmith makes for an engaging sorcerer's apprentice, while Clover gives a vague performance as the underling Friend, who provides the film with its most humourous lines; after being shot, he urges his comrades to tell his wife that he hates her, and also inform of his repeated carnal activity with her sister. Another example of black humour is a scene that reminds of the squalor of MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL ("Dennis, there's some lovely filth down here") where Whitehead - using that staple of British horror the magnifying glass - inspects Jacob's penis after his genitals were stung during an emergency shit. And the psychedelic trip sequence - as Whitehead sees a black planet slowly engulf the sky, amid blurring and interconnected images of faces, trees and O'Neil's swirlingly sinister cloak - is spellbinding.
~ Stephen C. Jilks

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dawn of the Doctor


William Hartnell's Doctor Who - played by David Bradley - among a Dalek, Cyberman and Menoptera, in this promotional image.

WRITTEN by Mark Gatiss, this nostalgic drama made to celebrate DOCTOR WHO's 50th anniversary reveals how the show was nearly exterminated after just four episodes. On the 22nd November 1963, John F. Kennedy was assassinated, plunging the world into deep mourning; the following day the Time Lord debuted at its Saturday tea time slot between GRANDSTAND and JUKE BOX JURY, and even viewers in the mood for such escapist entertainment couldn't necessarily tune in because a power cut blacked out parts of Britain. But there were also tensions behind the scenes; the BBC Head of Drama, Canadian Sydney Newman, ordered the first episode to be totally re-shot to make it more child-friendly, and his decision to assign the BBC's first female producer to the venture - partygoer Verity Lambert - caused frictions between the stuffy crew (though Lambert forged an alliance with young Indian director Waris Hussein). Syphoned off to the depths of Lime Grove Studio D, the team struggled to make the crudest of facilities - and the oldest of cameras - work in their favour. Even Doctor Who himself, William Hartnell, was an aging, grumpy, heavy drinker and smoker, yet he formed a close bond with Lambert, turning around the show's fortunes which was ignited by the introduction of the Daleks (which, in itself, went against Newman's instructions for "no bug-eyed monsters.")

In this docudrama, Verity (Jessica Raine) initially struggles to impress Newman (Brian Cox) with her handling of the project, but eventually wins him over with a new-found brutality and verve, standing by Hartnell (David Bradley) as he struggles with the scientific scripts and the realisation that his film star credentials are now being played out on a children's show. When Hartnell's health declines and his memory is affected, the actor becomes even more frustratingly angry and disorientated, forcing Newman to re-cast the lead role fortuitously creating the notion of regeneration (Patrick Troughton is played by Reece Shearsmith in a Three Stooges wig). One wonders that if Hartnell's health had not deteriorated with arteriosclerosis, the legacy of DOCTOR WHO would have been cancelled after five years or so without the notion of regenerated ever having to be considered.

Daleks over Westminster Bridge; an iconic recreation

The professional Hartnell/Lambert relationship is at the heart of AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME, but this ninety-minute love letter to the past is too fractured and obvious, dialogue-dropping worn facts into a strained sentimentality. Feelings and situations are portrayed like snapshots from a photo comic strip, breezing through the First Doctor's tenure like a fanboys' wish list. And as AN ADVENTURE IN SPACE AND TIME seemingly grinds to its digest-friendly halt, a real gut punch is delivered. There is a moment when Hartnell activates the TARDIS and then, looking across, he sees The Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) lovingly caressing the console. This silent, poignant interchange says much about Hartnell’s place in the ever-evolving DOCTOR WHO canon.
~ Stephen C. Jilks