Thursday, March 15, 2018

True Blue (Part II of II)


"A Murder Thriller with Thrilling Bodies!" THE PLAYBIRDS provided Britain's premier 70s sexpot Mary Millington with her most substantial part.

BECAUSE of the unfathomable financial success of COME PLAY WITH ME, executive producer David Sullivan quickly announced his next venture, with lover Mary Millington taking on a more sizable role. Proclaiming the follow-up would be the "hottest film ever to be screened in Britain," THE PLAYBIRDS is actually an overblown exercise in self-promotion, but does capture the tawdry aspects of 70s Soho amongst its car chases and bombastic theme tune. Belonging to a genre of British film that rejoice in the psychopathic killing of models (COVER GIRL KILLERPEEPING TOM et al), Harry Dougan (Alan Lake, as an on-screen persona of Sullivan) is a racehorse-owning millionaire glamour publisher, who starts a series of supernatural-themed spreads that has attracted a deranged killer (who the press term "The Chopper.") After dispatching two ladies of sexploitation royalty (Pat Astley and Suzy Mandel), the murderer becomes involved in a cat-and-mouse game against Scotland Yard's finest (Glynn Edwards and Gavin Campbell, with Millington as undercover WPC Lucy Sheridan).

The in joke of pouring a 4'11" porn non-actress into a Police uniform - especially one as harassed by the law as Millington - is quickly forgotten as Sheridan is more at home to her new assignment than somnambulantly delivering dialogue at cop shop meetings. Developing her talents as a sauna prostitute, Lucy soon has a lesbian fling and sleeps with Dougan to achieve her goal to become a Playbirds centrefold. Regardless of the film being moulded as a Mary vehicle, the real actress with sex appeal here is Mandel: it was no mistake that she shared equal space on Tom Chantrell's eye-popping posters of COME PLAY WITH ME and THE PLAYBIRDS alongside her more illustrious colleague. The cherubic Mandel could actually deliver her lines with a knowing twinkle, and was a mainstay of 70s smut in this country until she emigrated to the United States. If you actually care about the murder investigation you have a variety of suspects beyond Dougan, but the final "shock ending" will leave no one satisfied.

The start of a stormy union: Diana Dors and third husband Alan Lake on their Wedding Day, November 1968. In 1972 after his release from prison, Lake broke his back during a horse riding accident, starting a descent into alcoholic violence and eventual gunshot suicide.

The following year Sullivan attempted to cash-in on the CONFESSIONS name with CONFESSIONS FROM THE DAVID GALAXY AFFAIR, another Roldvale production distributed by Tigon. Lake gives one of the most self-indulgent lead performances in British film history as the titular super stud astrologer, who may - or may not - have been involved in a Securicor robbery five years previous. Behind his sparkling medallion, large lapels and annoyingly knowing swagger, Lake regularly breaks into a series of excruciating impressions (embracing anyone from Basil Rathbone to Bruce Forsyth, and anything from racism to homophobia), and also breaks wind in one jaw-dropping love-making scene. Despite this goggle-eyed eccentricity, Galaxy is still irresistible to women, refers to his penis as Fido, and sleeps with the entire female cast except for real-life wife Diana Dors, who plays the new owner of his apartment block.

In new levels of cinematic tedium, there is endless offering and pouring of drinks (often involving the police, tokenly fronted again by Glynn Edwards) but the film is saved from total disposability by the appearances of Rosemary England (Miss Beauty Bust) and - in a subplot incidental to the main narrative - Mary Millington (high society heiress Millicent Cumming). Never having experienced orgasm, Cumming hooks up with Galaxy in a multi-positional sequence played out against the astrologer's mirrored headboard. Despite this lengthy scene being one of the most explicit in a British sex comedy - one press release even insinuated that Lake and Millington actually had intercourse, much to Dors' disgust - the picture was a box office and critical disaster.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

True Blue (Part I of II)


Translating the German Bohrlock ('borehole', 'blast-hole') was too difficult for most British porn fans; the film consequently enjoyed a variety of alternative titles such as MISS BAWLOCK and even MISS BOLLOCK.

BRITAIN's sex superstar of the saucy 70s, Mary Millington's girl-next-door demeanor actually encompassed everything from magazine cover girl to hardcore actress. An outspoken opponent of the Obscene Publications Act, she also starred - often fleetingly - in British sex comedies, including COME PLAY WITH ME, which holds the record of the longest-ever theatrical booking in domestic cinema history. Her open bisexuality - she cited Harold Wilson and Diana Dors as lovers - illustrated a genuine love of carnal activity ("the old slogan of 'make love, not war' was a very good one"), before the predictable spiral to prostitution, kleptomania and cocaine abuse. A chance meeting in a Kensington coffee shop with pioneering Scottish pornographer John Lindsay led Mary to play the title role of MISS BOHRLOCH, the first of around twenty hardcore 8mm shorts made in Britain and on the continent over a four-year period.

Filmed in Frankfurt, MISS BOHRLOCH was a huge success in Europe (some 300,000 copies were sold) and created an underground following back home. Millington runs the whole gamut in her initial outing, and is mesmerizingly unrelenting (no wonder it was awarded the Golden Phallus Award at the Wet Dream Festival in Amsterdam). An insatiable and upbeat call girl in a fur coat, stockings and suspenders, Bohrloch welcomes two men to her flat for a "full service," after giving her address over the phone ("6 Pop Street") and dropping a ping pong ball from her vagina. Dubbed back in the UK, Mary becomes a Southern Belle while her clients are Irish-American, which makes the banal dialogue slightly amusing ("yes, we'll have a little music here"). In best British seaside postcard tradition, there is a punchline of sorts: having spent all their money on the activities, the duo cannot pay for the service charge; Bohrlock smiles and leads them off screen, "you've been well fed, now you can wash the dishes".

ESKIMO NELL is a British sex comedy about the industry in which Mary Millington would become so deeply entrenched.

Directed by Martin Campbell and produced by Stanley Long, ESKIMO NELL saw Mary's mainstream sex comedy debut, albeit for approximately ten seconds. Then a jobbing actress and model using her married name Mary Maxted, Millington's role as a stripping traffic warden auditioning for a film-within-a-film is speed up for comedic effect. But this is more of a footnote for one of the few genuinely entertaining and funny entries in the much maligned sub-genre, which sees fledgling film auteur Dennis Morrison (Michael Armstrong, who also scripted), producer Clive Potter (Terence Edmond) and screenwriter Harris Tweedle (Christopher Timothy) hired by seedy erotic film linchpin Benny U. Murdoch (Roy Kinnear, in his element) to make a dirty movie based on the bawdy poem 'The Ballad of Eskimo Nell'. When each of the backers request a completely different style - and Murdoch makes off with the money - the budding filmmakers attempt to keep everyone happy by providing the first gay Western/hardcore/kung-fu musical for all the family. With four different versions in the can, the hardcore cut is then mistakenly shown at the Royal Charity premiere.

The triumph of ESKIMO NELL is that it is a thinly veiled critique of the film industry itself, and an illustration of the moral guardians of the day: Lady Longhorn and Lord Coltwind - backers of the wholesome version - are caricatures of Mary Whitehouse and Lord Longford; Murdoch is based on Tigon supremo Tony Tenser; and Bick Dick - played by Gordon Tanner - ridicules Louis "Deke" M. Heyward, the London representative of AIP who had previously clashed with Armstrong during the shambles of THE HAUNTED HOUSE OF HORROR. Of other interest is DOCTOR WHO's Katy Manning, who appears as Hermione Longhorn; this was Manning second film after leaving the services of UNIT, the first being the screen adaptation of the Whitehall farce DON'T JUST LIE THERE, SAY SOMETHING! (written by Jon Pertwee's brother Michael).

Thursday, February 15, 2018

"Tops in Total Horror!"


The daughter of UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS actress Rachel Gurney, Sharon Gurney's brief screen career began on television, before graduating to memorable roles in WOMEN IN LOVE and DEATH LINE.

RELEASED in the United States under the nonsensical banner CRUCIBLE OF HORROR, this ambiguous, dreamlike melodrama takes its cue from Henri-Georges Clouzot's celebrated psychological thriller LES DIABOLIQUES. Walter Eastwood (Michael Gough) runs his upper middle class family with suffocating repression: wife Edith (Yvonne Mitchell) has retreated into painting from years of neglect, son Rupert (Simon Gough) is a facsimile of the patriarch working for the same insurance firm, and it is only rebellious daughter Jane (Sharon Gurney) who strives for a life beyond these watertight walls. When Walter discovers sixteen-year-old Jane has been sleeping with a friend from his golf club - and that she has also stolen money from the premises - he horse-whips her to sleep, while in an adjacent room Rupert turns up the volume in his headphones. Listening to her daughter's cries of pain, Edith is awakened from her trance-like state, and the following morning openly whispers to Jane "lets kill him."

Creepy and compelling, Michael Gough is perfect as the overbearing head, illustrating his unwholesome air early on when Jane returns home on her bicycle, only for him to instantly clasp the still-warm seat. One reading is that Edith imagines everything after the beating of her daughter, yet spliced frames of jagged close-ups, a possible rape and a bag full of masks adds to the disorientation. When Edith corners Walter at his grouse shooting weekend - explaining that "I recently bought a copy of the Marquis de Sade, it's full of the most unutterable filth, but it opened up a few windows for me, I thought it might help to understand you" - it begins a middle third which sets up much but delivers little. Walter may well have been poisoned by the females of the clan, but his body won't stay still, moving from its bed to a crate marked "Mrs E Eastwood, Velvet House, Richmond" and creating a floating mental state for the mother who fades altogether as Water retains his place at the breakfast table.

Similar to the filmography of Peter Cushing, Michael Gough never disappoints, even in a wooden crate. His underappreciated performances as a parade of slimy villains should rank higher with the icons of the genre.

Described by producer Gabrielle Beaumont as a political work, THE CORPSE was actually filmed in the Spring of 1969, a period when the feminist movement were questioning the persistence of gender stereotypes; here, the emotionally and physically-abusing male is always in control, with his understated British venom. Consequently, the project can be viewed as an allegory for the ineffectiveness of rebellion within the traditional family unit, to the point where the mother even longs for a fresh outlook she knows will never come ("I'd like to go back to school, start again") and that the father will always return even if he is dead. To add to the frisson, Gough stars with his real-life son and daughter-in-law.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Sexual Encounters of the Close Kind


FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE hid behind poster hyperbole in an attempt to shroud its crushing tedium.

SCIENCE fiction movies of the 1950s can be divided into four firm camps: alien invasion pictures, those obsessed with the effects of atomic radiation, and generally more sombre films dealing with space exploration. Last and certainly least is an odd set where humankind encounter either planets full of women, or those where alien females visit Earth for mating. In this male-centric sub-genre, Britain could match the worst of Hollywood: for every CAT WOMEN OF THE MOON and QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE, we can boast DEVIL GIRL FROM MARS and FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE. This turgid set of releases illustrate the wider treatment of women within the science fiction field; at the time of pulp magazines, female SF writers were extremely rare, harbinging the view that they could not capture the adventures of muscle-bound heroes, especially within an imaginative context. This leads to the main question of why the mythology is so hegemonic where there is no factual basis for it.

Regularly disowned in the same breath as other 50s SF misfires ROBOT MONSTER and PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACEFIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE opens with the launch of an Anglo-American rocketship to Jupiter. A compelling voice guides the craft through thick "space fog" to the planet's 13th moon, where the crew - led by Luther Blair (Anthony Dexter) - meet the Atlanteans, descendants who once inhabited Earth's lost continent. It is unclear how or why the sole survivors now populate a planetary satellite; patriarch Prasus (Owen Barry) and his many beautiful "daughters" may now inhabit outer space, but they have clearly not forgotten their very English etiquette. Although a subplot involving a Fire Maiden (Susan Shaw) overstepping her ancestral mark is quickly forgotten, ultimately the Atlanteans need men for breeding purposes, and to aid them in destroying The Creature ("the man with the head of a beast"), a lumpy-faced caveman in a black bodysuit who wanders their boundaries.

The cover to Jezebel's 2006 R1 DVD for Norman J. Warren's OUTER TOUCH/SPACED OUT (under their brand "Sexy Retro from the Saucy Seventies.")

This painfully dull fantasy was written and directed by Chicago-born Cy Roth, a filmmaker whose style is to vaguely aim the camera in the direction of the players. Having made two Z-grade war movies, Roth surpases himself here in a travesty filled with preposterous chauvinism ("A woman! You can say that again, with all the necessary ingredients"). Its special effects are lifted from other productions - the meteor shower from ROCKETSHIP X-M, a rocket landing from KING DINOSAUR - and the Jupiter landscape is a well-kept woodland (even less demanding patrons awaiting the "electronic monster" promised in the trailer must have been disappointed by the slow-moving neanderthal). The only interesting points to make are both oblique to the film itself: the 13th moon of Jupiter wasn't actually discovered until 1974, and its use of classical music within a SF setting - here Borodin's 'Polovetsin Dances' - occurs more than a decade before 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

Two years prior to INSEMINOID, Norman J. Warren made OUTER TOUCH, an amateurish, aptly-named space sex comedy. Described by the director as "CARRY ON meets FIRE MAIDENS FROM OUTER SPACE" and "dreadful, in a nice kind of way," a malfunctioning cargo spacecraft lands on Clapham Common, and four hapless Londoners are taken on board: research assistant Oliver (Barry Stokes), his "no sex before marriage" fiancee Prudence (Lynne Ross), dog-walking plank Cliff (Michael Rowlatt) and masturbation-happy shelf-stacker Willy (Robin Askwith substitute Tony Maiden). Aboard the ship are cigar-chomping Skipper (Kate Ferguson), engineer Partha (Ava Cadell) and general assistant Cosia (Glory Annen), aliens under heavy makeup and disco clothing who are soon educated on the joys of the male reproductive organ ("Have you got a weapon down there? It's changing shape!").

Ava Cadell is fascinated by Tony Maiden's heady reading material in OUTER TOUCH. Hungarian Cadell was a former hardcore actress 
who is now an internationally-renowned sex therapist.  

OUTER TOUCH is typical of the British sex comedy in that, although providing an abundance of writhing nudity, is softcore without any sexual charge, though repressed Prudence enjoys temptation of the flesh by the end of the picture (while Oliver typically keeps his glasses and socks on). Of its design, scaffolding covered with plastic sheets were used for certain sections of the craft, and such Ed Woodesque ingenuity sits awkwardly with the beautiful spaceship exteriors culled from SPACE: 1999 (due to a variety of shots used, its appearance changes through the course of the film). Although usually a footnote in the career of Warren in this country, the picture was re-edited, re-dubbed and featured a new soundtrack for its release as SPACED OUT in the United States, where it has acquired something of a cult following. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Unnatural Born Killers


For CORRUPTION, Peter Cushing's trademark commitment and professionalism is tested in this notoriously nasty offering.

SHORTLY before making the lowest point of his filmography - THE BLOOD BEAST TERROR - Peter Cushing made his most controversial. This Titan production, directed by Robert Hartford-Davis, sees "The Gentleman of Horror" cast as respected surgeon Sir John Rowan. When his aging model fiancĂ©e Lynn (Sue Lloyd) starts an impromptu photo session with Mike (Tony Booth) at a swinging Sixties party, the photographer and impeccably suited surgeon's clash of personality boils over into a fight, where an arc light falls onto Lynn's face in front of horrified onlookers. Developing "an entirely new way of controlling the endocrine system to promote tissue growth," the doctor's yearning for pituitary glands to restore Lynn's looks leads him to murder, under the increasing demands of his wife-to-be. While at a Seaford holiday retreat a group of beatniks invade, and Rowan's colleague Steve (Noel Trevarthan) and Lynn's sister Val (Kate O'Mara) piece together the string of outrages. 

Dubbed "gratuitously violent, fearfully sick, but it was a good script" by Cushing, the posters to CORRUPTION stated that "no woman will be admitted alone to see this super-shock film." Rowan's murder sequences are still jaw-dropping today, amplified by the use of hand-held close-ups. With hair flapping around his sweaty crazed glare, the actor's slaying of a topless prostitute - stabbing her repeatedly on the floor before smearing his bloodied hands on her breasts then removing her head - is not only British horror's most shocking sequence, it also points towards the Seventies sleaze to come. The delirium is added another two layers with the arrival of Georgie and his gang in Seaford - an out of left field final act which sees a massacre by an out-of-control surgical laser - and amid production bickering, the "is it a dream?" ending.

Alice Lowe continues her outlandish comedic career with PREVENGE.

Written, directed and starring Alice Lowe, PREVENGE defies description - in a good way. Too easily labelled a sardonic, jet black comedy, it is also a meditation on loss and the mental process of pregnancy. Shot in two weeks to accommodate Lowe's real-life condition, and enveloped by an outstanding Goblinesque score by Toydrum, textures increase with subsequent viewings to reveal - almost - an art film. Ruth (Lowe) is a pregnant woman who goes on a killing spree, seeking revenge on the people she claims accountable for her partner's death on a climbing trip; struggling with her conscience and prepartum psychosis, the unborn child speaks to Ruth from the womb, coaching her to kill ("If you don't do as I say blood will be shed, one way or another.")

Lowe's performance flicks between deadpan, psychotic, angst and turmoil (possibly in equal measures). The casting is strong with numerous fan-favourites: DAVID BRENT LIFE ON THE ROAD's Jo Hartley as the Midwife, GAME OF THRONES' Gemma Whelan as Len, and THE WITCH's Kate Dickie as a businesswoman who succumbs to a throat-slitting straight out of Argento. One sequence is spontaneously filmed in Cardiff on Halloween night, and it is this ethic which makes PREVENGE seem consistently fresh in style if not always in content. The murders are effective, but the visuals seem to unfold in some other brooding universe, and Lowe has mischievously likened the feel to BLADE RUNNER. Yet you can see her thinking; in Ridley Scott's milestone, Vangelis' jazz-influenced score underpinned the yearning of remembrance, driving the narrative similarly to Toydrum's often thunderous electronica.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Neither Blood Nor Legacy


Mills and Boon meets George A. Romero as Michael Petrovitch shifts from misty-eyed romance to the annals of the undead.

IN July 2017, Screenbound collected these three pictures in a handily disposable budget DVD. Adapted from his own novel by ITN newsreader Gordon Honeycombe, NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND sees Anna Robinson (Susan Hampshire) taking a winter break in Jersey from a lifeless marriage, where she falls in love with introverted Hugh Dabernon (Michael Petrovitch). Hugh has a strange affinity with the rugged coastline, and his antiques dealer brother George (Frank Finlay) takes a disliking to Anna, who threatens the insular Dabernon lifestyle. While the inseparable couple are in the North of Scotland, Hugh suddenly has a fatal heart attack, and is issued a death certificate. Through the strength of love he is reanimated; now without conventional speech (conversations are limited to what may well be Anna's imagination), Hugh physically deteriorates, leading the lovers to a watery grave.

Originally optioned by Hammer, director Fred Burnley attempted to ensure that the film would not be known as "another Tigon horror movie" (Tigon would be rebranded LMG by the time of release), but regardless of genre expectations, it was labelled by Time Out as "one of the worst films of the decade." NEITHER THE SEA NOR THE SAND - nor entertainment - is a ponderous love story without charisma, and a supernatural tale with little Fortean interest (reincarnation within Dabernon history is briefly hinted, as is Robinson being a witch). With no connection on screen, Hampshire and Petrovitch are doomed from the onset, Hampshire's theatrics grating with Petrovitch's distant portrayal; when Hugh's rigor mortis starts to set in, there is no difference to our male lead's performance. What remains is ninety minutes of meaningful stares and glances.

The Peasants are revolting: Oliver Reed not so much chews the scenery than spits it out in BLUE BLOOD.

Directed by Andrew Sinclair, BLUE BLOOD is a delirious story of Devil worship set and filmed at Wiltshire's Longleat House. Gregory (Derek Jacobi) is a young aristocrat who complains of modern England while maintaining a servant lifestyle, which includes new German Nanny Beate (Meg Wynne Owen). Entrusting control of the house to butler Tom (Oliver Reed), and in a complicated relationship with his estranged singer wife Lily (an icy Fiona Lewis), the Lord succumbs to the unholy practises of the under classes, governed by his leading manservant. Adapted from Alexander Thynn's novel The Carry-Cot by Sinclair, Thynn is the 7th Marquess of Bath and grew up in his family's seat at Longleat (and to further the in-house connections, BLUE BLOOD features Thynn's wife Anna Grael as Gregory's mistress Carlotta). UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS on acid, Reed's ham performance is either extraordinary inept or one that plays to the general foolishness; moving like an automaton, Tom's Satanic control is built up by a series of almost freeze-framed red-hued images of black masses and sacrifice, usually depicting Owen, Grael and Lewis draped around him while holding a bloodied knife.

THE LEGACY is another tale of Mansion-based Satanic shenanigans. Designers Maggie Walsh (Katharine Ross) and Pete Danner (Sam Elliott) leave California to work for an anonymous British client. On reaching their destination they are involved in an accident with a limousine, which is actually owned by their benefactor, Jason Mountolive (John Standing). Inviting them to his estate, Mountolive introduces Walsh and Danner to five guests, who die in a variety of ways: Maria (Marianne Broome) drowns; Clive (Roger Daltrey) chokes to death; Karl (Charles Gray) is burned alive; Barbara (Hildegard Neill) is pierced by a splintered mirror; and Jacques (Lee Montague) falls from a roof. All had chequered pasts, and were spared punishment due to Jason's unorthodox interventions: his mother being Lady Margaret Walsingham, a practitioner of witchcraft. It transpires that Walsh is actually Mountolive's great-granddaughter, and Jason's last acts were to kill the other heirs so Katharine can continue Satan's work.

British character actor John Standing is under the emaciated
makeup of a dying Occultist in THE LEGACY.

Although graced with exquisite cinematography both externally (the lush country setting) and internally (white cats on marble staircases), this tepid Anglo-American production suffers from an inappropriate upbeat soundtrack and lengthy dull patches between the body count. Directed by Richard Marquand, THE LEGACY is all too twee to adhere effectively to the twin 70s fixations of black magic and haunted houses (to further amplify the Seventies feel, we have an opening credits "love-in" with a song from Kiki Dee). The original treatment was written by Jimmy Sangster and "polished" by British SF author Patrick Tilley and Paul Wheeler; Sangster unsurprisingly disowned the film as the "tinkering" involved moving the setting wholesale from a rundown Detroit hospital to the grounds of Mountolive's Ravenhurst.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Short-Lived Revival


Mark Letheren is haunted by unearthly vistas in A VIEW FROM A HILL.

THE BBC GHOST STORY FOR CHRISTMAS strand from the 1970s returned with these two entries. Both add a layer of weird science to their ghostly goings-on, as the laws of physics are played with fancifully. A VIEW FROM A HILL - adapted from M. R. James by Peter Harness and directed by Luke Watson - sees young Fitzwilliam Museum curator Dr Fanshawe (Mark Letheren) discovering some homemade binoculars while cataloguing the archaeological collection of the late father of debt-laden Squire Richards (Pip Torrens). The field glasses - created by deceased local watchmaker and amateur necromancer Baxter (Simon Linnell) - give Fanshawe visions of Fulnaker Abbey in all its splendour and a gibbet on Gallows Hill, in reality locations now dissolved. It transpires that Baxter's "very peculiar ... 'abits" of boiling the bones of condemned men resulted in a noxious fluid, some of which has remained sealed inside the binoculars. 

Never previously adapted on film or television, A View from a Hill was first published in the May 1925 edition of the London Mercury, and in the same year formed part of the A Warning to the Curious and Other Ghost Stories anthology. Harness and Watson successfully evoke the washed-out landscapes and corner-of-the-eye creepiness of the best 70s output and it is also beautifully played; moving James' Edwardian setting to the post-WWII decline of country estates, social status is reflected as weary condemnation. When Fanshawe makes clear to Richards that he is an archaeologist and a doctor, the Squire caustically responds "have to get you to take a look at my feet."

Greg Wise is more Indiana Jones than M.R. James in NUMBER 13.

NUMBER 13 - adapted from James by Justin Hopper and directed by Pier Wilkie - had been brought to the screen on two, presumed lost, occasions: as part of NBC's GREAT GHOST TALES of 1961, and as a second season episode of MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION in 1966. Originally appearing in the 1904 Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, the location of the story is moved from Viborg, Denmark, to Winchester Cathedral, where Oxford academic Professor Anderson (Greg Wise) is sucked into a spatial-distorting hotel room occupied by a sixteenth-century diabolist. It seems somewhat out of place that Anderson is a handsome adventurer, and the Phantom's hand is black-gloved like a Dario Argento serial killer. NUMBER 13's other frissons are similarly abstract: the English hotelier using the centre panel of Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights, and a mention for Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins.