Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Electric Snapshot: ALIEN (1979)


First contact.

Retro Future: Titan 2199.


On Saturn's largest moon Titan, two Cosmonauts watch the launch of space freighter Leonov IV from Lenningrad spaceport on its return journey to the Comsat drydock situated in low geo-stat orbit around Earth for repairs and supplies.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Retro Future: Lunar Adventures Poster for Summer Season 2075


Fed up with all those same old same summer holidays on boring old Earth? Lunar Adventures is the solution to your holiday blues. Lift off from Boeing Spaceport in Nevada USA and take a wild rocket ride to our nearest neighbour, the Moon. Visit the historic Apollo 11 landing site at Tranquility Base and see the actual Lunar Lander pod exactly as it was over a hundred years ago. For your seven day round trip you'll be staying at our exclusive six star space platform hotel built into the north face of the tallest mountain on the moon, Mons Hugens with its amazing views of the Lunar landscape and the stunning Earth rise each morning. Go sight seeing in one of our Lunar Mobiles where you can slip into one of our evac spacesuits and go outside to experience the wacky fun of one/sixth earth gravity. The trip of a lifetime guaranteed!!

- All Lunar Adventure bookings are subject to strict medical and insurance clearance -

Monday, 29 August 2011

Electric TV Review: Doctor Who Season 6 "Lets Kill Hitler"

Hello there, I'm a boney fido, card carrying, signed up member of the Time Travellers Guild for Temporal Displacement Junkies. To begin, I'd just like to take this opportunity to thank a certain Mr Moffat - all hail the mighty Grand Moff of Cricklewood - for giving me the kind of Doctor Who that I've always dreamed of watching as I grew up. Not so much the heroic adventurer in space but the bemused meddler in and of the time stream. Defeating pissed off pepperpots and sadistic bipeds dressed in tin foil is one thing but give me a flawed romantic who dabbles with destiny, tickles fate, laughs in the face of parallel triple paradoxes whilst wearing a fez and tux any nano second of the week. For me, this the stuff of mind wandering daydreams.

Moffat knows and understands the bonkersness of time. He also knows he has a limited time to play with it as his tenure as program show runnner is finite. The kid reading that Doctor Who paperback all those years ago has been given the best toy any toy giver can give. And so far he is running with it.  I remember watching "the Biggest Bang Evar!!" last season and sitting there with a silly grin spreading across my mugshot as the Doc suddenly appeared in the now wearing a fez and carrying a mop. Then he disappeared again making the now the then and the future the present in the blink of an eye. The resultant hijinks dancing along the viewer timeline was met with hearty chuckles from this chair - ably helped with a can of tizer and a packet of peanuts.Now THAT was a story about a time traveller. The questions and possibilites raised are what makes me enjoy this series so.

Despite being seriously disappointed with the last episode before the summer break, I thoroughly enjoyed Doctor Who - Season Six: "Let's Kill Hitler" which aired this weekend just gone. A fun trippy little adventure set in the early days of Adolf and his Third Reich that briefly touched on the whimsy that as we grow older our past takes on greater significance and meaning. That a girl born today of time travelling parents had grown up in the past when those parents were her childhood companions was a nice little rhyme that came to fruition as the story played out despite the now adult child being a dormant assassin with Gallifreyan murder on her mind. That the girl regenerated into River Song was nicely done though expected and obvious from the various themes that were sown during the season so far. As ever, the ensemble were on top form; though I must admit that when "Mel? who the hell is Mel?" popped up in the corvette as a sort of psychotic chav with an attitude I sensed a great disturbance in the force. So I felt a wave of "phew, thank fuck for that" relief when she got shot by Hitler and went on to blow the bloody doors off by regenerating like an enthusiastic firework. The thought that she might just be the new rumoured companion gave me a bad case of the hebeejeebies I can tell you.

Matt Smith is a joy to watch at times. It's the little moments that thrill. The look on his face, the slow "uh oh" pause, and whispered "" when he suddenly comes face to face with Hitler is perfection. Arthur Darville is turning into the Tintin of the Doctor Who universe, Alex Kingston does a fabbo turn as an exhuberant domatrix trying to control her hormones, and Karen Gillan can massage a dollup of Vicks into my chest any time she likes.

So in brief summation: Very entertaining. And there were numbskulls in it. I mean NUMBSKULLS. HOW COOL WAS THAT?!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, psssst, another thing. The tux. What was that all about? AND those 32 minutes? What happened when he was in the Tardis for those 32 minutes????
Anyone got a Delorean?

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Retro Babes: Erin Gray.


One of my favourite sci-fi babes was/is/will always be the radiant Erin Gray as Wima Deering from the tv series Buck Rogers. It will forever be a source of amazement to me as to how she managed to slip into those super slinky sexy space outfits the ladies are wearing in the 25th Century. I need a frakking time machine pronto..

Saturday, 27 August 2011



Cruising the Digital Highway on a slipstream of light.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Electric Snapshot: Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1978)


 My favourite scene from CE3K. Despite the pyrotechnics and human drama to come, this simple static moment captures Spielberg's brilliance at creating an air of mystery and making the impossible possible.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Electric Visions: War of the Worlds (1898)


From the novel: "The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, revolves about the sun at a mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat it receives from the sun is barely half of that received by this world. It must be, if the nebular hypothesis has any truth, older than our world; and long before this earth ceased to be molten, life upon its surface must have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely one seventh of the volume of the earth must have accelerated its cooling to the temperature at which life could begin. It has air and water and all that is necessary for the support of animated existence.

Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea that intelligent life might have developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the superficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only more distant from time's beginning but nearer its end"

HG Wells.

- a series dedicated to the art of the fantastic -

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Retro Future: Shinjuku District - Tokyo March 2023


For the 400 thousand citizens of Shinjuku ward, a sudden downpour clears the streets of the Kabukicho red light precinct and marks the first signs of the Tokyo spring for the year 2023.

Electric Snapshot: THOR (2011)


Marvel's THOR is my favourite comic character back from when I was a kid buying the AVENGERS comic at the age of 10. Despite some plot reservations, I thought the movie was a pretty good shot at putting the Odinson on screen. This is a fantastic image and comes from the arrival and confrontation with the Frost Giants. Love it loads.

Cult Icons: BBC Schools Countdown Clock (1981)


Though this is an indent from 1981 and I had long escaped the torture that was my school days, one of the things that reminds me of those days of doing double Geography were the times when the teacher wheeled in a boxy wooden black and white Rediffusion television on a huge stand and we had to watch a program about the subject we were doing that lesson. We'd all gather around and watch the BBC Schools Countdown clock before the program started. Looking back, these indents were definitely one of those cult memories you think back on with a smile and recall programs such as "How We Used to Live.", "You and Me.", "Words and Pictures.", and the utterly brilliant "Magic Box". Kids today don't know wot they're missing..

Friday, 19 August 2011

Retro Sci-Fi Magazines: STARBURST #1


First published in January 1978, STARBURST was the number one go to mag for UK sci-fi enthusiasts during the early months of the STAR WARS boom. Along with USA publications STARLOG, FANTASTIC FILMS and CINEMAFANTASTIQUE, I had this on monthly order with my local newsagents and I remember going into the shop, asking if anything had come in for me and watching the owner go over to a big pile of "on order" magazines and go through them looking for my name. It was always a huge thrill when he picked out something for me. One time he pulled out a STARBURST, STARLOG and FANTASTIC FILMS in one go and I ran home on cloud nine and didn't leave my bedroom for the whole weekend. STARBURST ceased publication in early 2009 having reached issue #365. I had them all. Great magazine.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Electric Movie Review: TOY STORY 3


Finally saw TOY STORY 3 today. A film of creative distinction, sleeve wearing a heart love, and a poem to the end and beginning of things. As a film for children it is in a way meant in spirit as a balm for adults who remember those moments that being a kid were all about. That, though we may put away our childish things as we grow into adulthood, there is still a place where those childish things will forever remain inside us all. Those last moments as Andy lets go of Woody and Buzz happens to us all eventually. The sudden realisation that the responsibilites of life are more important than the care free whims of not being an adult are played to perfection beneath the artists hand and are no less real simply because they are creations of colour, light and shade.

Apart from the adventure and great escapes, what I enjoyed most was the gang remained together despite the passing of the torch to a new generation. A simple message that speaks to child and adult alike that, no matter what, the comfort of friendship is what matters most in life - and fiery oblivion - even if you're made of plastic.

So, a heartwarming end to an exceptional trilogy and a reminder that even as we grow older there is always a place for those childish things that may be in the atic somewhere...

Retro Toys: Plasticine.


Memories of hot summer evenings sat in my back yard dreaming up things to make with a malable ball of this stuff. Back then it was anything to do with Gerry Anderson and his supermarionation hardware - Fireball XL5 and Thunderbird 1 were particular favourites I recall. Made to childish perfection with thumbprinted care. The only limit was my imagination and tea time. Plasticine had a sensory pleasure of its own - the tacky touch and that peculiar smell it had when the colours had all been rolled and mixed into one. Opening a new packet of plasticine was also very satisfying as you slowly peeled off the plastic cover and removed each coloured strip one by one. The ultimate kids plaything? Probably..

Retro Babes: Jennifer Connelly.


Classically winsome and inifinitely hot. The delicious Mz Connelly from the Rocketeer.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Classic Movie Posters: the Rocketeer (1991)

- rocketeer created by Dave Stevens 1982 - 

One of my favourite movies and absolute favourite movie poster. Superb.

Cult Icons: Tony Hart (1925 - 2009)


Art has always been a part of my character and very much a rewarding part of my life. It was my favourite subject in school - hello Miss Tait - and every report card during my early years was an A. Drawing was an escape from reality and I'd spend hours doodling and dreaming with pencils, crayon, felt tip and pen. It's no surprise that one of my most cherished childhood heroes is Tony Hart and his two classic BBC childrens art shows, VISION ON and TAKE HART. Half hours spent doing all things arty and messy with help from various characters both real and not so real. Such as Morph, probably his most famous plastercine pal, who became a cult icon in his/its own right. One of the regular items on his shows was the weekly Gallery where children could send in their own works of art to be displayed on your telly. Major kudos back then to all aspiring scribblers and doodlers. I confess I was too chicken to send anything in. Tony Hart was part of a bygone more thoughtful, fun and educational era of childrens television and is much missed by this long time fan.

Sleep well, Mr Hart.

Retro Videogames: 3D Deathchase (1983)

a personal selection of retro favourites

One of the first computer games I can remember buying was this classic for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum back in 1983. Taking its inspiration from the speeder bike scene from Return of the Jedi, this is a simple yet brilliant "twitch" game. Basically, you're on a bike with a gun and you have to chase down two other bikers to complete a level and progress through the night/day scenario. Bonus points are scored by taking out the tanks and dropship helicopters that appear on the horizon during each level.

What makes this great is you're chasing these guys through an intially sparse copse of easily avoided tree's through to an increasingly intense, balls to the wall,  holy shit this is insane, dense forest of the fuckers. All the while you're trying not to slam head first into a slab of solid oak youre trying to line up a shot to take out the bad guys. Brilliant.

At the highest levels, this game is the purest kind of videgaming adrenaline and requires a level of concentration that has rarely been matched - even over 30 years later. 

Amazing to think all this was created and ran in 48k of memory for the rubber keyed Spectrum. I absolutely love this game and it proves that the simple idea's are the best and 3D Deathchase by Mervyn Estcourt is one of the absolute retro classics.


- 3D Deathchase for the ZX Spectrum -

Friday, 12 August 2011

Electric Movie Magic: Planet of the Apes (1969)


Close Encounters of the Third Kind may be my all-time favourite movie, but Planet of the Apes runs it a pretty close second. Such a great and influential movie for me when I saw it when I was a kid. To start this series of ELECTRIC MOVIE MAGIC posts, here's a brilliant behind the scenes photo showing the set up for Astronauts Taylor, Landon and Dodge's escape from their sinking starship, Icarus.

Electric Snapshot: ASHES to ASHES (2008 - 2010)


The last walk for Alex, Ray, Shaz and Chris as Gene Hunt (second left) shows them the exit from purgatory.

- a great and emotional final moment from the last episode -

Cult Icons: Michael Bentine's Potty Time (1973 - 1980)


Geez, how to describe this one. Michael Bentine was the human host and narrator for a show all about teaching kids history. To assist him, he enlisted the help of the "Potties", a gaggle of table top puppets who would dress up according to the scenario being taught. It was a program filled with explosions, high drama, goofy charm and done with a huge sense of fun. Bentine was the perfect host because he always looked slightly baffled and bemused at the goings on. The great thing about the series for kids is that you really did learn about some of the most important events in history even when you were laughing your head off at the Potties. A classic series from the seventies.

Retro Sci-Fi Hardware: United Planets Cruiser C-57D.

UPC C-57D on planet ALTAIR IV - 16 Light Years from Earth.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Classic Movie Posters: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)


Huge Ape fan here. Absolutely love anything and everything to do with it and it was one of the formative experiences of my early cinema going when I saw Beneath for the first time on the big screen. I eventually saw Planet some months later on a special saturday matinee double bill. So you can imagine I'm very much looking forward to the new movie due out here soon. Came across this today and loved it. An international poster which captures the essence and thematics of the series very well. Hope you like it as much as I do.

Retro Sweets: Nestle Chocolate Bar Movie Wrappers (Robin Hood)


Knew this blog would get around to all things chewy eventually. I was about 10 and right next to my straight out of a Hammer Horror movie Victorian era pre-middle school was a sweet shop. Every morning before entering the school gates all the kids used to go into the shop and stock up on sweets for playtime with our pocket money. We used to buy everything from refreshers, spangles, curlywurlys, 10 in a box candy cigarettes, bazooka bubblegum to chewy mini coke bottles and chocolate bars. Collecting the cards that came with those candy cigarettes and packs of bubblegum was a big thing as we used to swap them if we had doubles in the plaground during break. First one to complete the whole set was king of the hill for a day.

One of the things I do remember collecting were chocolate bar wrappers. The above is from Disney's Robin Hood movie from 1973 which had just been released at the local cinema. From memory, there were six to collect and I never did manage to find that bloody hypnotic snake one. I guess this is where my collecting bug came from and 40 years later I'm still looking for all the stuff I bought and gave away as a kid.

Retro Future: New Zealand Telos Spaceport - December 2125


All packed and ready to go. Next stop, the dark side of Jupiter and Orbital Platform Grisson Niner Three for a five month tour of duty in Planetary Thermatology and Gas Dynamics.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Cult Icons: Jackanory (1965 - 1996)

For 31 years someone sort of famous sat in a chair reading a story. Long stories, short stories, tall stories, silly stories, adventure stories, fun stories and much more were told each weekday just as we trooped in from a hard day doing sums at school. For 15 minutes, we went someplace else. That place was our imagination and it was a wonderful place to be. All thanks to a simple and obvious fact - that kids love to listen to someone telling them a story.
I'll tell you a story
About Jack a Nory;
And now my story's begun;
I'll tell you another
Of Jack and his brother,
And now my story is done.
   from "The Top Book of All, for little Masters and Misses" first published around 1760.

Retro Music: Noddy Holder and SLADE.


Okay, here's a confession I'm not in the least bit embarrassed to admit to - I fucking loved the Glam-Rock period of the early 70's where butch - and not so butch - blokes pranced around the stage looking like they'd been dragged backwards through a paint factory. Groups such as the brilliant T-Rex with the tragic Marc Bolan, batshit insane Roy Wood's Wizard, the peroxide poodles of Sweet and too many more to mention here. But for me, the best were Slade with front man, Noddy Holder. No one could belt out a rock and roll song like Noddy. His voice could strip wallpaper and put the shits up the undead.  The man gargled pure whiskey to be blessed with a grunt like that. Slade were brilliant. No fancy crap, just straight up and down rock and roll ballads. They were huge back then. Seventeen consequtive top ten singles - six of those got to number one when the charts actually meant something to everybody. Personal favourite was "Momma weer all Crazee now" from 1972. Great memories from a great band.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Cult Icons: Brian Cant.


Anyone who was a kid during the 70's and early 80's will know and love Brian Cant. Even if they can't recall his face they'll smile when they hear his voice. Along with the marvelous Derek Griffiths and Tony Hart, he was a second dad to a whole generation of children growing up during those decades. His Curriculm Vitae is unmatched - appearing in BBC tv's iconic Play School, Playaway and Jackanory to his impeccable voice work for puppet series Camberwick Green, Trumpton, Chigley and many dedicated schools programmes. He recently recieved a well deserved special BAFTA award in recognition for his work in childrens television all those years ago. A truly special individual remembered by many with retro affection.

photo image: brian with chloe ashcroft - play school 1981

Friday, 5 August 2011

Electric Snapshot:: IT'S A KNOCKOUT (1968 - 88)


I loved this show. I loved it so much I can hardly put into words how much I loved it. Thinking back, if ever there was a television show that defined the seventies it was IT'S A KNOCKOUT. Saturday nights were scheduled around this madcap game show where a bunch of people from different towns or cities dressed up in silly costumes and competed against each other to win an opportunity to represent the UK in the international version, Jeux San Frontieres. It was just a completely bonkers show. 

But what made the show for me was the presenter, the utterly insane Stuart Hall (pictured above) His passion and childish enthusiasm for the show was infectious enough but it was his regular lapses into corpsing giggle fits that made him a God among mere mortals. Once he started hyper ventilating with laughter watching a bunch of sopping wet penguins running around a rotating platform trying to collect water in a bucket - I was gone too. No show has ever made me laugh so hard before or since. Brilliant. A true classic.

Electric Movie Preview: DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)


Continuing with the BATMAN theme from the previous post, check out Chris Nolan's take on the new CATWOMAN with Anne Hathaway squeezed into the leather outfit. Ok, I dunno. Kind of meh. Women in leather should ring my bell but this is pretty safe from what I can see. Then again, I hated Burton's take with Michelle Pfeiffer so what the hell do I know. Like the bike though. Anyway, none of them are as hot as Julie Newmar. Now there was one cool pussycat.

Cult Icons: the BATMAN (1966-68)


For a kid of the sixties, there is only one true BATMAN. Long before the character became a miserable, neurotic and boring leather clad nipple fetishist with an attitude problem there was the indominable Adam West with his noble sense of square jawed duty that would put Buzz Lightyear to shame. Dancing along the tightrope that seperated camp corn and grated cheeze, his version of Gothams finest was the comic colour writ large on the small screen for teeny and not so teeny tots. So you can keep your Keaton, Clooney, Kilmer and the dour bugger that's in the hallowed batsuit right now. None of them have given the character the sense of dignity and noblesse oblige that West brought to the role. He was, and still is, the real deal.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Electric Movie Preview: SUPERMAN - Man of Steel (2012)


Here we go, first shot of the new Superman looking darkly determined doing what he does best. Suit looks interesting in a snake skin scaley sort of way. Better than lycra and those plastic booties anyway. Never was a huge DC fan, but with the Reeve version they pretty much hit it out of the park. Once you remember Reeve stepping out of that phone booth and flying up to rescue Lois Lane from that helicopter hanging off the side of a skyscraper everything else just seems so much more less. Routh was perfectly fine in SUPERMAN RETURNS but his portrayal lacked Reeve's charm and knowing presence. Mr Cavill has a tough act to follow. Further updates as and when they appear..

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Electric Snapshot:: Dr WHO "The Doctors Wife"


I'm a fan of Doctor WHO but I'm not a Doctor WHO fan - if that makes sense. As far back as I can remember the Doctor has always been there in the background of my life. A constant flickering, sometimes noticed, sometimes not, during a Saturday tea time with fizzy pop, apple pies and cream buns. For all of my time on this planet, Doctor WHO has been there on a journey through time and space, written its tall inter-galactic and inter-dimensional tales, discovered its hybrid heritage and regenerated its own fan obsessed mythology. If ever there was something that defined classic longevity then it is the epic story of Doctor WHO.

Electric Snapshot is about frozen moments in time. Timeless moments that stand out amongst the normal static we endure. Doctor WHO has a fair few and I'm sure as time goes on I'll be devoting more posts about those classic moments I remember. For now, this is the first moment I've chosen. From NewWHO Season 6, this is from the episode "The Doctor's Wife" written by fantasy scribe Neil Gaiman and is a quiet moment when the eleventh Doctor comes face to face with his most faithful companion and devoted guardian - the soul of the TARDIS. It's moments like this which elevates this story of a time and space travelling alien above almost everything else on television. A story of someone who's best friend just happens to be the coolest thing ever invented/created in the known universe.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Retro Videogames: Dungeon Master (1985)

a personal selection of retro favourites.

Dungeon Master by FTL is such a wonderful and seminal game. I bought an ATARI ST just to play it. Some things just feel right when you experience them, and everything about Dungeon Master is pitch perfect right. From the initial selection of your adventurers to the brilliantly atmospheric environment and fear of light giving way to dark doom as you travel deeper into the dungeon, the game is awash with epic and memorable moments.

Anyone who has played it has their own. Mine is entering a huge hall several levels down for the first time, torches flickering their last gasps and suddenly hearing a shriek behind my group. Spinning around we came face to face with a bunch of psychotic Ghosts hell bent on providing a quick death to one and all. The moment further enhanced as the lights finally went out. I don't think I've swore so much, ran so blindly fast, and produced so many "OOoof's!!" as I bounced from wall to wall trying to escape from their north, south, east and west clutches. "Well, ok, now how the hell am I supposed to kill those bastards then?!" Moments make games great and that was a fucking 10/10.

Dungeon Master is perfect in that it knows its limits. One step forward - run like hell a dozen more back to escape. Cool puzzles that required much head scratching back in 1985. The solutions to which were always of the "DOH!!" variety. Pressure pads, hidden buttons, the hunt for food and water, killing everything and eating everything no matter how icky they looked, learning spells, finding badass weapons and hefting armour until your group were the toughest sons of bitches on the planet.That was what Dungeon Master was about. Brilliant, fantastic, superb and utterly addicting.


For me, Dungeon Masters greatest claim to fame is not the game itself, but more that it was the inspiration for an even greater game to come. That game was called CAPTIVE on the Amiga. More about that another time.
So raise your flaggon of steaming brew to Dungeon Master, a truly classic game from a more imaginative era and a worthy entry into the ELECTRIC PIX Hall of Videogaming Fame.