Monday, 31 October 2011


Happy Halloween! The V baby wants to say "Hi!" to everybody at this special time of year! Image: WARNER BROTHERS.

As witches cauldrons froth over with their noxious brews, and Zombies, Werewolves and Vampires galore come out onto the streets to play and get in on a little Trick or Treat, I thought it would be nice to celebrate this Halloween night with a classic selection of scary scenes and moments I've always remembered from the often disturbing and terrifying realms of KOOL TV...

Let me in! Danny Glick's at the window in a nightmare scene from SALEM'S LOT. Image: WARNER BROTHERS.


Episode One: the Vampire child

Here’s my advice to aspiring writers and novelists out there who want to revisit their traumatic childhoods in order to write their next best seller: DON”T! As David Soul found out playing Ben Mears, who returns to the small New England town he grew up in- Salem’s Lot- to discover it overrun with Vampires led by the human acolyte Mister Straker (a chilling performance from the late, great James Mason) and his demonic vampire partner/overseer in all thing’s blood sucking, Mister Kurt Barlow (a magnificent and animalistic Nosferatu-esque tribute performance from horror icon Reggie Nalder). The classic scene of the two part mini-series, and the one that certainly sent the most shivers down my spine as a kid, however, had to be the moment when the once deceased child victim Danny Glick returns to his home and, amidst a dark and misty night, gently tap taps taps on the window pane of his brothers bed room so as to get his attention and then lure him into his psychic trance. Once the flying creature enters Ralph’s room, his young brethren’s fate is sealed...and another member of the vampire dead has joined its ranks!

Trouble for Tom Baker's DOCTOR WHO, atop a lighthouse with Horror of Fang Rock. Image: BBC TV.


“Horror of Fang Rock”: Episode Three finale

“Leela, I’ve made a terrible mistake. I thought I'd locked the enemy out. Instead, I've let it in…with us.”

Tom Baker’s ominous delivery of that dialogue is both chilling and foreboding as the cliffhanger ending to Part Three of the Classic DOCTOR WHO story Horror of Fang Rock, written by series alumni of imagination and horror, Terrance Dicks. Mis-timing a TARDIS journey to Brighton, the Time Lord and his lovely ex-Sevateem Tribe savage, Leela (delightfully played with warrior pride and charming curiosity by Louise Jameson) arrive on a desolate British isle on a cold and densely foggy night, discovering a lighthouse and its crew house existence now threatened and terrorized by an alien creature whose ship has landed in the coastal waters not far distant. Alongside the remnants of the crew of a wrecked yacht, the duo engage in a deadly fight for survival against an enemy that soon turns out to have a connection to our venerable title hero’s past. Horror- the premiere story of the show’s Fifteenth year-continues the previous seasons strong trend of scaring audiences of all ages (me included at the time!) with tales of atmosphere and horror, and Baker is at his best here in a unique a and highly memorable performance that combines broody and instinctive drives and heroism with witty, sometimes slapstick comedy that works well in balancing out some of the stories gruesome HAMMER HORROR style overtone-this is one of those rare WHO adventures where the entire supporting cast is slain by stories end! A true seventies TV classic, which overcomes its studio and effects limitations of the time by creating a great atmosphere of unease and dread, and its opening three episodes in particular are well worth watching with the lights turned out and the curtains well and truly drawn.

UK GOLD trailer:

Earth's defender against alien attack, Professor Bernard Quatermass (John Mills) returns in THE QUATERMASS CONCLUSION. Image: ITV/GRANADA/THAMES


Episode One finale sequence and Episode Two start: Death of the Planet People.

With their chants and calls for peace and salvation alongside their almost zombie-like movements, the Planet People cult-think Flower Power of the seventies but far more disturbing-prove an unnerving force and thriving cult presence within a fractured and savage Britain, and our world in general, tarnished by violence and corruption in the not too distant future. Gathering at the ancient Ringstone Round icon of stones, their almost hypnotic chants gain pitch, and their hands rose to the heavens calling out for hope, salvation and a new life. But the pure white light that comes down from the skies and envelops them is anything but the Hand of God ready to lift its children to a new existence, as aging scientist Bernard Quatermass (John Mills) discovers when the hundreds of gathered people- young and old, women and children -are quickly obliterated to ash and harvested by a mysterious and deadly foe from outer space. Chilling stuff in a memorable final series from QUATERMASS creator Nigel Kneale, elements of which would later be creatively pinched many years later by Russell T. Davis for TORCHWOOD: CHILDREN OF EARTH. I remember seeing this frightening sequence of subtle menace and building terror on its original Monday evening transmission on ITV in 1980 and being absolutely scared stiff by this and further episode moments to come. The series had a great atmosphere, with a fine world-weary performance from the late John Mills, backed up with weird music and sound design and often intense and creepy direction by Piers Haggard. You may not hear the Planet People’s screams of terror, whose deaths increase over the series, but they certainly exist in your mind nonetheless.

One unfriendly feline fiend in the UFO episode The Cat with Ten Lives. Image: ITV/GRANADA


“The Cat with Ten Lives”: Alien Abduction!

Having survived a major space battle with the mysterious aliens who boldly try to penetrate the Earth’s defenses, brave Interceptor plot Jim Regan Brave (a mercurial and odd ball performance by the memorable Alexis Kanner) has returned home for some much needed some shore leave time with his beloved wife, Jean (Geraldine Moffat), when, after an odd time with friends (all of whom partake in a séance evening-just the kind of normal thing you do when indoors on a Saturday night!), the discovery of a lone cat on an isolated stretch of road turns into a terrifying ordeal as the pair are quickly trapped by a group of aliens who, having stealthily landed nearby, proceed to take Jim’s wife off into space so as to maintain their Human organ spare parts surgery programme for their continued race survival. This eerie sequence- the stuff of nightmares beyond CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND for anyone scared of alien arrivals on Earth and the nightmare tales that have accompanied them of first contact examinations undertaken and endured by their victims- are frighteningly and unsettling realized by the skillful and creative eye of writer and director David Tomblin as the series, created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, with Reg Hill, already possessing a disturbing format for what was essentially a kid’s adventure show-aliens coming to take us away and experiment on us!- now truly hitting its creative stride during its second half, and The Cat with Ten Lives , easily one of the most bizarre stories, is also one of UFO’s greatest, too, packed with horror, action and a strong plot, as Regan, now altered by the aliens, is used almost like a deranged puppet in an attempt to knock out SHADO’s vital defense systems, his actions on Earth influenced via feline trickery: a creature surely one of Halloween and witchcraft in general’s ultimate icons and accomplices in bestowing fear...

Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) lost to "Bob" in the finale of TWIN PEAKS. Image: UNIVERSAL PLAYBACK.


Season Two finale: Dale Cooper’s possession by “Bob”

His beloved Annie Blackburn (Heather Graham) now kidnapped by his old nemesis, and once partner, Windom Earle (a performance of insanity and psychopathically evil relish by Kenneth Welsh), the almost Boy Scout’ish FBI agent and hero Dale Cooper (a superb series performance from Kyle MacLachlan) tracks the maniac and his captive down to the ultimate palace of nightmares and evil influences: The Black Lodge. Located in the wild woods bordering the lands of Twin Peaks and Canada, Cooper has no choice but to enter this bizarre universe of red curtains, backwards speaking midgets, demonic apparitions and deathly insight in order to rescue his lover, but both he and Earle have already miscalculated their moves and don’t truly understand the complex terrors and tragedy that lies ahead. This terrifying world they’re engaged in truly belonging to the evil “Bob”, whose earlier dark forays into our reality would result in the earlier tragic death of problem school girl Laura Palmer- the powder keg that would launch this supreme TV series created by distinctive film-maker David Lynch and TV veteran Mark Frost- and who now has a new body to inhabit and spread new deeds of evil and emotional torment.

Eventually emerging from the ethereal nightmare world, after a confrontation with the Dark Forces of the other dominion, and having rescued Annie, Cooper wakes up with his friends at his side in his hotel room and things seem normal, but a trip to the bathroom seconds later sees him smash his head into the opposite mirror, blood streaming down his forehead as the new and terrifying truth dawns on the audience: that our friend and hero, seemingly once invincible to evil, is no longer whom he appears to be-his personality and soul now seemingly lost to the returned insane darkness of “Bob”, his seemingly invincible enemy, forever…

“How’s Annie, How’s Annie…”

This finale scene for the series brings the unique viewing experience of TWIN PEAKS-a superb mixture of comedy, drama, soap opera and sinister scares- to a marvelous and highly memorable close.

Not so charming now! The evil Count Iblis revealed in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA's War of the Gods. Image: NBC/UNIVERSAL.


“War of the Gods” Part Two: the reveal of Count Iblis.

When something looks to good to be true it normally is: that’s the lesson that should have been learned by our noble heroes on board the warship that acts as humanities ultimate protector, the Battlestar Galactica, when they encounter the evil Count Iblis,  and subsequently find themselves caught in a millennia spanning conflict between angels and demons, good versus evil, in the classic series game-changing two-part story, and one of the finest tales the one season running show ever did: War of the Gods.

In the search for a missing Viper fighter patrol, Captain Apollo (Richard Hatch) and Lt. Starbuck (Dirk Benedict), along with recent series addition Lt. Sheba (Anne Lockhart), arrive on an unknown world and find the remains of a long-ago crashed ship and its sole survivor, the enigmatic, mysterious and ultimately deadly Count Iblis (played with magnetic and menacing charm by ex-AVENGER Patrick Macnee). Coming back to the fleet to assist the Colonials with their investigation, Iblis uses all of his intelligence and charm to beguile the rag tag fleet of humanity, and its weakling Council of Twelve, into abandoning the strong leadership of Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) so as to follow him in escape from both the enemy Cylon scourge and on to the Thirteenth Tribe, located on planet Earth, whose desired location he is fully aware of.

But all that glitter’s is not gold, as the count’s firm stranglehold eventually reveals his weaknesses, resulting in Apollo and father Adama catching glimpses of the power and evil beneath the confident smile. Going back to the crashed wreckage site, Apollo discovers the truth, and pays the ultimate price, in discovering who Iblis truly is: a creature of evil and temptation known by many names across thousands of worlds, including Diabales and Mephistophilies: the crown price of evil himself. As Apollo fires his blaster at the newly arrived Iblis, watched by an incredulous Starbuck and the once disloyal Sheba, the true and repellent countenance of the beast is finally revealed via clever negative special effects imaging: an image so horrible to my young eyes (watching it as a child for the first time at 7.30 pm on a weekday school night in 1980) that, in subsequent repeats of the tale, I had to close my eyes each time the scene came on because I found the imagery too scary to behold…

Despite later behind the scenes murmuring indicating that Count Iblis would return in what was, sadly, a never made second series of the original GALACTICA, he would at least go on to appear in Richard Hatch’s enjoyable continuation of the saga in book form, where he/it continued to menace and antagonize our heroes, and the rest of humanity, in all kinds of inventive and scary ways…

All of these series are available on DVD.

And check out our recently launched KOOL TV FACEBOOK for more Halloween goodies, clips, links and photos galore! KOOL TV

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