Friday, 29 October 2010

What TRON LEGACY looks like - our sneaky peek

Way back in 1982, Disney's part computer animation TRON blew our young minds. True, the plot was perfunctory, the acting only so-so and the dialogue somewhat stilted, but the computer generated cyberscapes were quite amazing, the disc fight was fun and the light cycles, well who didn't want a light cycle?

It certainly blew a few other people's minds since Chuck has a TRON poster on his wall and the Pixar bods regularly quote it as a major influence on them.

And so we come to TRON LEGACY, due out in the UK in late December. Part sequel, part remake 25+ years on it's one of the most eagerly awaited films in the science fiction genre for some time and last night we got to see 20 odd minutes of stuff from it.

Well needless to say it looks fantastic. The visuals (all rendered in 3D these days of course) are pretty special with the fancy new light cycles and updated space paranoids and tanks all given much more depth and texture. Also the suit effects (some of the weakest in the original movie) are hugely improved.

What of the plot, acting and dialogue? Do you really care? Well if you do then the plot seems to be a bit of a retread, not a lot of it was actually shown, with Kevin Flynn's son going into the grid after his father, the acting was fine without being spectacular and the dialogue was, well let's just say it was there and leave it at that.

The most important thing that we can say about the 20 odd minutes that we were treated to is that they felt like only 5 and that can't be a bad sign.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

20% OFF our TV show encyclopedia this weekend

This weekend only there's a full 20% off the price of the the comprehensive guide to all things science fiction, fantasy and supernatural on television as offers up monsters savings.

Follow the link, try the preview and if you like what you see then order away. When you get to the checkout use the code GHOST305 as the discount voucher code and a full fifth of the price will magically disappear.

With Christmas just around the corner then this could be an opportunity to provide for the sci fi freak in your life.

You'll need to be quick, though, because the offer ends on November 1st.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Hordes of zombies have been stalking the commuter routes of the world this morning to announce the start of the eagerly awaited (at least in our place) THE WALKING DEAD TV series . Starring the UK's own Andrew Lincoln (AFTERLIFE), the show is being broadcast in the UK only a few days after it's initial showing in the USA and it looks like Fox Channels are pushing it out around the world at superspeed in an attempt to outfox the internet pirates. This could well be the shape of things to come.

The picture is of the 'horde' that descended on London and the show itself will be shown on the FX Channel (no doubt non Sky subscribers will be resorting to those internet guys - we do not support such behaviour, it's illegal. Find a friend to tape it for you instead.) on November 5th at 10pm. With Frank Darabont scripting and directing and Gale Anne Hurd producing this might be the TV debut of the season.

We'll be watching (probably through our fingers). Will you?

Monday, 25 October 2010

MERLIN gets fourth series

We'll be the first to admit that when we heard what the BBC's new fantasy show MERLIN was going to feature teens in an anachronistic multi-cultural dark ages we were pretty sure it was going to be rubbish.

We'll now be the first to admit that we were wrong and the show is ace and so it's great that the BBC have announced today that a fourth series will be made.

Full report can be found on the BBC news website here.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Santa In Shock Imprisonment

Odd promotional technique #2: Put Santa in a cage!

To promote new horror film RARE EXPORTS: A
CHRISTMAS TALE, Santa will be appearing at the Vue West End on Saturday night ... in a cage.

He will be guarded by two hunters who will be handing out the attached guidelines for correct behaviour near
the Santa (see left).

Part children's adventure, part macabre seasonal shocker, this darkly humourous concoction defies categorisation.
Santa Claus is coming to town, but unfortunately for the children of this particular Finnish neighbourhood, spreading Christmas cheer is not at the top of his list. In the depths of the Korvatunturi Mountains a team of scientists uncover a secret that has been buried for hundreds of years. When the town's livestock is slaughtered and the children start to go missing, young local boy Pietari begins to realise that this will be a Yuletide like no other, as the time has come to learn the ugly truth about the real Father Christmas.
Originating from two award-winning short films that spawned an online cult phenomenon, director Jalmari Helander's debut feature effectively retains their sinister style, while deftly expanding on his unique vision. With a dash of Tim Burton-esque whimsy and a malevolence that evokes the darkest of fairytales, Rare Exports is overflowing with inventive ideas and crafty twists. Part children's adventure, part macabre seasonal shocker, the film gleefully blends genres to create a darkly humourous concoction that defies categorization, proudly
standing alone as a true one of a kind.

Why Science Fiction Isn't Funny

VAMPIRES SUCK has just come out into UK cinemas and BETTER OFF TED has just shuffled off UK TV screens, so it's an opportune time to look at the failure of genre subjects for comedy.

It has long been our contention that the three scariest words in the english language when put together are science, fiction and comedy. Admittedly VAMPIRES SUCK is more a horror spoof than sci fi, but it is genre and it comes on the tail of severe rubbish like SUPERHERO MOVIE and DISASTER MOVIE etc. BETTER OFF TED is a comedy along the lines of THE OFFICE (it wishes), but it is set in a company where universal translators, cryogenic freezing and all manner of science fiction inventions, so we're classing it as sci fi.

The thing is that for every classic sci fi comedy (RED DWARF, GALAXY QUEST... OK, we admit it - we're out) there are dozens of horrible things like MY HERO, QUARK, SPACEBALLS, CLONE, NO HEROICS, HYPERDRIVE...the list goes on.

The problem is that science fiction, fantasy and horror all require a certain amount of suspension of disbelief. There is an inherent silliness about them because they involve people who can leap tall buildings, spaceships that go faster than light, monsters that look like men with false foreheads etc. Comedy is about pointing out the absurd in life and if there is an inherent absurdity built into the initial concept then the comedy falls flat.

Look at the two choices for good sci fi comedy, RED DWARF and GALAXY QUEST, and it is obvious that the comedy comes from the characters and the situations, not from the science fiction. RED DWARF is THE ODD COUPLE on a spaceship and GALAXY QUEST is taking the mickey out of the very real phenomenon of the science fiction convention. It's all about the characters not the sci fi trappings.

Other almost great sci fi comedies include 3rd ROCK FROM THE SUN, MORK AND MINDY and...once again we're out, but these also are about the characters discovering the absurdities of life, not being caught up in space alien situations.

The conclusion is pretty clear - genre comedy isn't funny unless it's done very very well.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Angels At Work in the UK

It's truly amazing what people will come up with to publicise their products. The Sci Fi Freak Site received the following data release about angels and other spirits at work in the country to publicise the release of the fifth season of the utterly brilliant SUPERNATURAL  starring Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki on DVD. This show has changed from a humble 'monster of the week' series to a remarkable examination of brotherhood and the fight against evil, no matter how serious that evil becomes. Season five dealt with a war between demons and angels and the coming of the Apocalypse and was the best yet. If you haven't seen the show then get hold of copies right now. You won't regret it.

And how to publicise this release? Apparently to commision a study into angels and fairies and their activities in the UK. So, for allthose who believe and for those that don't here is the release in full:

"Guardian angels, white witches and fairies are just a few of the good spirits which are active in the UK today according to the Supernatural Angel Report – a comprehensive study into angelic paranormal activity in the UK over the past 25 years.
The  Supernatural Angel Report was specially commissioned to celebrate the release of Supernatural: The Complete Season 5 DVD out now and focuses upon paranormal occurrences associated with angels and good spirits which have been reported to the police and leading paranormal organisations in the UK over the last 25 years. The extensive research, conducted by the UK’s leading authority on the unexplained, Lionel Fanthorpe, included studying multiple archives, police reports, published reports and interviews with a number of ex police officers.
The report notes that there have been 755 documented incidents in the past 25 years, ranging from healing and helpful entities, to visions of angels and animal spirits. The report reveals that benign entities are the most common angelic paranormal experience with 192 reported incidents in the past 25 years, the majority of which can be found in Yorkshire with 18 reported cases.

Official Reports of Angelic Activity in the past 25 years:
1.      Benign Entities                      192
2.      Friendly Entities                     127
3.      Visions of Angels                  104
4.      Helpful Entities                       99
5.      Animal Spirits                         69
6.      Fairies                                      44
7.      Visions of Saints             41
8.      White Witches                       32
9.      Guardian Angels                 24
10.  Healing Entities                     23

Benign entities are neither helpful nor friendly but people, who have come in contact with them, describe them as harmless and non-threatening. One example case is at St Martin's Church in Westmeston in Sussex, where there are reports from witnesses of a strange, eerie phantom which glides from the St Martin's Churchyard then drifts across the road and finally vanishes through the wall of a neighbouring house.

The second most reported type of angelic paranormal activity are friendly entities with 127 reports. One witness, at St Botolph's Priory in Colchester in Essex, reported seeing a phantom figure moving among the gravestones.  It paused and smiled in a very friendly way at the witness and her friends - then faded away and vanished altogether.

There have been 104 reported cases of angel visions over the past 25 years. In Sutton Wood in Derbyshire what seems to be an angel takes the form of a pious monk wearing a large golden cross.  Witnesses have described the entity as very holy and having an aura of goodness that makes them glad that they have seen it.

Helpful Entities are the fourth most reported about angelic paranormal beings and there have been 99 cases of them helping people repeatedly over the years. One of the most documented takes place at the site of the old Manor House at Cold Ashton in Gloucestershire.  One of several episodes connected with the site concerns a lost motorist who called at the Manor and asked the very friendly butler, who answered the door, for directions.  The motorist set off on the right road and reached her destination safely.  When next in the vicinity, she looked for Cold Ashton Manor again - only to find that it was empty and had been derelict for many years.

In at number five are animal spirits, with 69 being reported, the most prolific of which is the Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier who belonged to a man named John Gray.  When John died in 1858, Bobby guarded his grave for the next 14 years until Bobby himself died in 1872.  Witnesses have reported seeing the phantom of the faithful little terrier still loyally guarding John's last resting place in Greyfriars Cemetery.

There have also been 44 official reports of fairies and the woods in Croston, in Lancashire, are home to a fairy known to the locals as Shrewfoot, or Marsantos.  It is a very protective entity and is reported to have saved at least one pedestrian who was in danger on the adjacent road from a speeding lorry. There have been 41 reports of visions of saints, plus 32 accounts of white witches.

Some additional reports include; multiple experiences with Guardian angels on the M4 and powerful healing abilities at the Well of St Madron in Cornwall. "

Monday, 11 October 2010

Death By Sci Fi TV - and we love it

Way back in July 2008 we bemoaned the lack of anything remotely genre to watch on TV. Well, here we are two years later and it appears that we are going to have to become hermits to watch all of the new stuff that is piping down our teletubes some time soon.

New show HAVEN has just started on Syfy in the UK and joins its stablemates EUREKA and WAREHOUSE 13 as things we're goggling at. Eureka's in its fourth season and WAREHOUSE 13 in its second, but we're still enjoying them both.

BBC1's got MERLIN to fill up our Saturday nights and CBBC is just about to plunge into THE SARAH JANE ADVENTURES once again, giving us our weekly dose of the DR WHO universe whilst Matt Smith is off twiddling his thumbs

THE VAMPIRE DIARIES is back on ITV4 with another season of toothsome adventures, whilst Sky brings back the third season of FRINGE and the second season of STARGATE UNIVERSE.

And there are more shows slated for the near future as well. How will we cope? We're gonna need a time machine just to keep up.

Happy viewing.

The Sci Fi Freak's Guide To The Televisual Galaxy goes on Kindle

The Sci Fi Freak Site's own encyclopedia of science fiction, fantasy and supernatural shows is now available for Amazon's Kindle device. This means that as well as the print and download versions available at this comprehensive guide to all the fantastic television shows around can be accessed through any gadget that has a kindle app on it including the ipad and android phones.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Five Reasons Why We Love Chuck

Tonight marks the end of CHUCK's third season on Channel 1 (Virgin 1 as was) and we're going to miss it despite being safe in the knowledge that there's another season yet to come. Here are the top five reasons why we love CHUCK.
  1. IT'S CHEERFUL - In today's depressing world of austerity measures forced on us by governments paying to bail out the incompetent and greedy bankers, we all need a little bit of happiness and sunshine in our lives. Despite moments of angst here and there, CHUCK is relentlessly upbeat and happy and we love it for that. The default expression on most of the characters' faces are smiles (well, OK usually confused frowns, but smiles are a close second), there is lots of fun banter and only the bad guys are mean. Chuck may have lost some of his innocence, but the show retains most of its.
  2. GUEST SPOTS - this third season has had ex-superman Brandon Routh in it throughout, but there have been plenty of other familiar faces that have popped up, but in fun cameos rather than just tawdry stunt casting. Ex-starship captain and quantum leaper Scott Bakula is great as Chuck's oddball father in the largest supporting role, but Jordana Brewster's short time as Chuck's squeeze in season 2 was also pretty good. Others who have made single episode appearances are Christopher Lloyd, Swoosie Kurtz, Armand Assante, Kristin Kreuk and Gary Cole.
  3. THE TRIO - When casting the lead trio, the producers got things absolutely right. Zachari Levy has an easy everyman charm that anchors the show as the central characer, Yvonne Strahovski is gorgeous and can handle the action stuff with aplomb, but also has the hint of vulnerability that the part requires and Adam Baldwin can bring gales of laughter with a simple frustrated growl. Make no mistake, these three are the show.
  4. THE MINOR CHARACTERS - Everyone gets good lines in Chuck whether it's the General who is only ever seen (to date anyway) on screen, the best friend, sister, Captain Awesome or Buy More manager. Though some of these are increasingly sidelined as the show develops they continue to get the laughs. The various bad guys who appear from week to week, usually bemused by the trouble they are caused by the apparently incomptent Chuck, are usually good value as well.
  5. JEFFSTER - The musical duo that is Jeffster (Scott Krinsky and Vik Sahay) are stuck somewhere between the so bad they're brilliant and the just plain bad. Their performances on the show are utterly superb entertainment and they even performed live at Comic Con. Jeffster Rock - though whether that's a good thing is open to question.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The BBC 2 Science Fiction Movie Season

There was a time when the best way to see a film at home wasn't on a shiny disc. There was a time when the debate over 2001-A SPACE ODYSSEY on VHS or Betamax hadn't even been thought of. There was a time when the only way to watch a science fiction film at home was to catch it on BBC2 as part of the regular science fiction film seasons that used to pop up there.

Part of the reason, a quite sizeable part in truth, that I am an incurable sci fi freak is because BBC 2 would schedule a season of science fiction 'classics' at a reasonable hour of the evening (6.30 or something like that) so that I could watch them between dinnertime and bedtime.

The films were always the same ones, but that didn't matter. Some of them were good, some of them were great and some of them were bloody awful, but they were science fiction and they were there. What more does a growing geek need?

It was there that I first discovered the real joys of SILENT RUNNING, FORBIDDEN PLANET, COLOSSUS - THE FORBIN PROJECT, WAR OF THE WORLDS and THEM! These are films that I have loved all my life it seems and copies of them on tape and disc have always lived in my house. Giant ants, cute robots, killer computers, invading martians and a machine as big as a planet. That was the stuff of imagination.

In the second rank of movies there would be THIS ISLAND EARTH and  WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE - pulp to be sure, but quality pulp.

And then there was INVADERS FROM MARS and TARANTULA, movies that were never any good, but always got trotted out to fill out the season.

Without these movies I wouldn't be the sci-fi obsessive that I am. Some would say that's a good thing, but if the alternative were an interest in Morris Dancing? I shudder to consider it.

So, a heartfelt thank you to the schedulers of BBC2 for helping me to find the larger universe that is available out there. And if you fancy doing a quick season of sci fi movies on BBC 2 I could get my kids to watch.