Monday, 16 December 2013

24 Things That Happened to Andy This Year - Part 1


I got involved in a minor religious controversy

Some of you may know that way back at the start of the year I was still working at Cornerstone, a Christian cafe and bookshop in my home town of St Neots. What you may not know is that I also wrote some things for the blog, mainly just copying things that were given to me by Paul Shinners, the owner. An example is below:

In that particular post, I describe Paul being invited to the Uganda National Day of Prayer over New Year. I posted it, didn't really look into it very much (as in, I had no idea for instance that David Kiganda is not exactly LGBT friendly).

I went off on my merry way, had a nice Christmas and New Year, and then on January 2nd all hell broke loose. Suddenly, stuff I myself had written and posted was being used to 'show' Paul Shinners and Cornerstone were rabidly homophobic by a selection of fairly militant atheist bloggers. The story kind of petered out in the end (you can excavate it online), with a generalized protest in St Neots Town Square, and obviously I ended up not really working there any more.


I moved to Essex

Harlow, to be exact. Or Sculpture Town. I live with this awesome person.

Also, everything you ever suspected about Essex was true. They have a Santa in the Harvey Centre at the moment, and he has a spray tan.


Hammer Horror

I finished writing an insane, slightly sexist, rambly voyage through a Hammer Horror box set I bought from Amazon, mainly because I couldn't find a decent summary of what was in the box before I bought it. It only took me three months. As far as I know, it's the only thing of it's kind. It certainly was when I started it.
Click on me to read Part 1!
There's nothing more to add to this entry really, other than you should really, really watch Quatermass and the Pit.

Valentine's Day

What I got Lilly Greenough for Valentines Day - 5 hours of Shark Week DVDs
What she got me - A handbook from the Horror Writers Association

Suck it, schmaltz.

Offered without Comment.

I went to the Hunterian Collection

A museum that walks a fine line between being interesting and being mind-bendingly horrifying.

These are real, by the by.


I became a published horror writer

Of all of the insane things that have happened, this is my favorite. My short story The Hum came fifth in Spinetinglers monthly competition and I got actually paid actual money for a story I had written. You can read it here:


Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Clash of the Subcultures, Or Andy takes Popcorn to Shakespeare

I've been fairly lucky to have had an exciting week so far. On Sunday me and my partner went to Collectormania, a fun convention in Milton Keynes where we got to look at all sorts of fun merchandise, had our pictures taken with people in awesome cosplay and met a few of our TV/Film heroes (in my case, Dave Prowse, better known as The Man Inside the Darth Vader Suit).

And yesterday (Tuesday) evening I went to Cineworld Harlow to see a repeat of David Tennant playing the title role in Shakespeare's Richard II.

Both experiences were amazing, but I thought I would share a specific facet of my experiences in this post - namely the differences between the people I encountered at both. There's a hell of a lot of debate going on online at the moment with the idea of 'fake geeks' (particularly 'fake geek girls' who as far as I can tell aren't a thing, but that's a debate for another time) but at Collectormania there didn't seem to be any of this going on.

There was a fairly even split of men to women, lots of families (including a brilliant Mum who took her kids to meet 'Darth Vader' because he had scared her as a kid), lots of people dressed up to various degrees (all the way from full-on Boba Fett armour down to a kid with a plastic Harry Potter mask) and the atmosphere was very friendly and very welcoming. It is worth pointing out that this is event was free - as in, anyone could walk in off the street. It was super fun, and really great to see normally slightly stiff Brits give in and declare their love for all things nerdy (or in my partner's case, Iain Glen).

In fact, the only people who didn't look like they enjoyed it were a pinched, worried pair of parents who had obviously bought their kids and lurked by the door intimidated by the 'weirdos'. I'm sure they're perfectly nice people, but they looked the kind of people who wouldn't know fun if it landed in their front room - but the very fact that these two stood out in a room full of about three thousand people gives an idea of how good the rest of the atmosphere was.

I use this to contrast last night.

Cineworld in recent months has begun to screen a variety of different 'niche' items alongside the more traditional blockbusters. While it is probably due to a less profitable business model driving alternative revenues, what this in effect means is that those of us out in the sticks can see high end productions of ballet, opera and theatre, except we don't have to buy exorbitantly expensive tickets months in advance and can eat popcorn. This system worked very well on Halloween, where we saw Benedict Cumberbatch's turn as Frankenstein's Monster in the stage adaptation.

The audience was a fascinating mix of theatre-y people, Frankenstein fans (ie me), more general horror fans and people there for Cumberbatch. The result was a surprisingly diverse crowd who gamely sat through the three hour production to it's conclusion and had that vibe at the end that we had experienced something wonderful together. 

Richard II was different. As we collected our tickets and lined up with our popcorn, we noticed that we were the youngest people in the audience by a significant margin. There were a few others who had come along with parents and grandparents, but ultimately I think we were the only people to come on our own accord from that age bracket. The second is that we were the only people to have paid a visit to the concession stand. I had no idea if we had committed some kind of faux pas by being popcorn at the cinema, but several pointed glances suggested we had. Less forgivable was the fact that I kept getting glances from the woman in front as I talked with my partner about the play itself, and history surrounding the story. I have no idea what this woman's problem was - I am fairly sure I didn't drop any 'spoilers' for a play that has a handy synopsis in the program. However, this would have faded into distant memory if it weren't for who we encountered next.

Going in, we settled ourselves down and waited for it to start. And then the people either side of us started talking. Now, before the play, there were a few adverts, as well as interviews with some of the cast and historian Helen Castor. All the while this was going on, the people beside me talked about how they really didn't rate David Tennant as an actor and weren't into Shakespeare. One of them said the language was too hard for them to follow which made me wonder why the hell they were there. On the other side, next to my partner, a woman pointed out where she had sat EVERY TIME they showed the stalls at the theatre, and filled the rest of the time explaining how it wasn't the same as seeing it live. Oh, and she owned all of the things they advertised and they were all wonderful.

Fortunately, both groups shut up shortly after the play started, but having heard complaints for years that cinemas weren't worth going to any more, and going anyway and having a great time, this was one of the worst experiences I have ever had in one. While the play was excellent, the endless talking beforehand and in the interval detracted from the experience. If I hadn't seen Frankenstein a few weeks ago, this would have put me off going to see plays at the cinema in the future entirely. 

The final straw was when we came out to a lot of people saying how good it was, while at the same time saying they hadn't understood any of it - which is a frankly fucking bizarre tendency of middle class people to be utterly dismissive of things they have paid money for and purport to enjoy. And they were still giving us looks as if to suggest that we shouldn't have been there.

If it sounds like I am ranting it's because I am, but the moral of the story is this: if you don't think that other people in a minority group and being looked down upon for being a 'fake geek' (in this case a 'fake Shakespeare appreciator') is a problem, it is. I was on the receiving end last night and it isn't nice. 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Andy Returns to Hammer! - The Revenge of Frankenstein

Man, it's been a while. After working at a job that sucked up all of my free time, then all of my energy and eventually my sanity, not a lot of writing has gone on in the last few months. Still, with that 'experience' behind me, I can get back to doing what I love - writing about old horror!

And what better way to start than to return to one of the behemoths of horror- Hammer - and one of it's most popular series?

Contrary to popular belief, this is not what my kitchen looks like

The Revenge of Frankenstein is the 1958 sequel to the 1957 The Curse of Frankenstein (which will be reviewed in due course) proving that quickly bashed out sequels to unexpectedly successful films are not a new thing by any means.*

The difference is though that this is very, very good.

The plot is pretty straightforward - ole Victor Frankenstein escapes his inevitable execution, runs off to a different German town, and begins plotting to repeat all of his old experiments while masquerading as a friendly neighborhood doctor and philanthropist to the local poor. After acquiring a body through semi-nefarious means (ie: he scares some poor bastard to death) all he needs is a brain - and all that requires is a willing donor/some light murdering, which from Curse we know Vic is perfectly fine with. At this point the movie pretty much writes itself, and it's a fun romp through the inevitable.

Peter Cushing is on fine form here, as the genial, sociopathic Baron Frankenstein and Francis Matthews puts in a fine turn as the Doctor who first figures out 'Dr Stein' may be more than he seems. The addition of this character, a doctor who is Vic's assistant but also his intellectual (and moral) equal is an interesting addition, and it's a real shame that he doesn't appear in any of the other films in the series. Michael Gwynn also does very well as the 'monster', probably the most sympathetic creature since Boris Karloff in the original.

"Frankenstein? Never heard of him. My name is...Steinenfrank."

One of the best things about this film for me is the pervasive grimy nastiness of it all. Gone is the clean, slightly gothic castle of Curse. Instead, we get a dingy underground lab, unwashed peasants in an unsanitary ward, and aprons that have never been so much as rinsed. The surgeries are unpleasant as well, and are tactile and visceral in a way that few films from the era approach. There's one silly scene with some eyeballs which pushes the suspension of disbelief slightly too far, but other than that there is no sense of looking at anything and thinking it's fake.**

Having said that, it's still a Hammer film, so the gore is shot through with a good dose of black humor and is not unbearable because of that. It's still one that I would think twice about watching with children, and it's one of the more adult of Hammer's early films, but then again, who said that was a bad thing?

Heavily recommended, if you're into Hammer. Even if you're not, you'll probably enjoy it.

* Whenever I hear about people complaining about sequels, prequels, remakes etc. and how Hollywood is 'out of ideas' it annoys the hell out of me. They've been at it it for years. Bad sequels and remakes are forgotten. Time will heal all wounds, and terrible films of any strain will generally disappear into the void.

** Reportedly in an effort to increase the realism, Peter Cushing asked his GP how one would go about performing a brain transplant. Awesome.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Bait - Movie Review

"I like your movie reviews, Andy," a friend said to me the other day, "but I would probably enjoy them more if they were films I had actually heard of."

I gave this some thought. After all, should I continue to write about the schlocky horror I love so much, or should I start to write about films people have actually watched? I mean, I saw Star Trek: Into Darkness last night for the first time, should I write about that?

And then I saw a film about great white sharks eating people in a flooded supermarket, and all doubt left my mind.

Business as usual, then.

Two things I should get off my chest first. Firstly, while Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus was hilarious, this film is not really the same sort of thing. It's much more like Deep Blue Sea, in which a ridiculous plot (sharks become smart enough to understand structural engineering) is at least treated with a degree of seriousness. In the same way, sharks in a supermarket (and underground car park) is a freaking ridiculous plot for a movie, but nobody points out how ridiculous it is as they are all too busy dealing with their personal problems, falling off shelves and being torn limb from limb. I like this. Group dynamics are always fun.

The second thing is that I love sharks-as-animals. They are purely instinctual hunting machines, but they need conserving and not to be seen as a Jaws-like threat. That being said, sharks-the-movie-monsters are one of my favorite things out there. This movie gets away with it by how unlike real world sharks they are. They stop, they eat humans, they bash through windows, they somehow ride a tidal wave into a supermarket, the same wave that kills a bunch of people just by hitting them (that is a pretty resilient shark), they move towards noise... 

Yeah, this is not a film you should watch if you want to learn about sharks. Or about supermarkets, probably. 

Our story begins with the death of our hero's (played by Xavier Samuels) future brother in law in a buoy-placing-shark-encounter incident. Of course, our hero blames himself, and fast-forwarding a year is working at the local supermarket after his ex-fiancee has gone to Singapore. Of course, she turns up again with a new boyfriend in tow. I expected there to be a subplot about how he's now afraid of the water but it never becomes an issue - the fact that he's witnessed his best friend eaten by a shark and is now trapped in a confined space with one is something that he handles surprisingly well.

ASDA can be hell on pension day
Meanwhile, the local (sheriff? I guess?) is having problems with his daughter, a character who we're supposed to sympathize with as someone grieving her dead mother but who instead comes across as a precocious brat who one really, really hopes will get sharked as soon as humanly possible. 

Rounding out this grab-bag of tropes is a man doing One Last Job with his sociopathic partner (who, in a fairly major plot twist/hole, he doesn't know by appearance)* and a couple who don't appear to have any issues other than a small yappy dog and that the boyfriend's a cheapskate. It is worth noting that these two are easily the most entertaining people on screen.

Hell, this would be a pretty exciting day at the supermarket BEFORE the tidal wave hits. 

But hit it does, and you know that everyone is going to act their hearts out, alternately being cowardly, sacrificing themselves and resolving their personal issues. None of them are particularly interesting and this isn't a film you watch for its characters. They are meat on the hoof, to be honest, and most of the fun comes from working out who's next for the chomp.

Two things make this film worth watching. The first is that the shark action is pretty great. Just when you think you've seen all of the ways the shark is going to attack, it does something else. And not always predictably, which is fun. My favorite moment (seen in the trailer above) comes from the slow realization that a guy may no longer be so attached to parts of himself as he once was. There's another great moment...but then again, half the fun is seeing them for yourself.

The second is that the novelty of the setting never really wears off, and it is used in interesting ways. It wouldn't surprise me if the initial idea for this film came from someone looking at a shopping basket and wondering if it could be used as a shark cage. Meat hooks, pipes, air ducts - someone has really thought this through.

So should you watch it? To be honest, it will depend on what you're looking for. This has much more in common with the monster genre movies of the late nineties (Anaconda, Deep Rising, Deep Blue Sea) than with modern tongue in cheek stuff like Jurassic Shark.** Ultimately, if you're looking for a fun film in which a bunch of stock characters get eaten in an unusual setting, you'll probably enjoy it.**


* Apparently this gets explained in a throw away line about 'protection'. I may not have been listening at this point, wondering when the hell a) the wave and b) the sharks were going to show up and punish these people for their idiotic conversations

** If you're wondering why I name-dropped this particular non-gem, it's because I also saw this this week. I'm not going to view it, other than to say it's craptacular, but Lilly's done a good job over on her corner of the internet.

***Addendum: There's an amazing cover of Mack the Knife over the end credits. For some reason it won't let me post it here, so the link is below. Enjoy!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

The Strange Mrs Dandridge - Short Story


Mrs Dandridge had been one of a dozen old ladies living in the row of terraced houses known to the post office as Honeybee Avenue but to everybody else, it was known as the Hive.  She was presumably a widow, although Mr Dandridge had been dead such a long time that nobody could ever remember seeing him.

At one time, she had been friendly with the other older ladies living on the street, but her reluctance to invite any of them inside her own home and her extreme reticence about standard subjects, (such as the degenerate youth of the rest of the town with the notable exception of some grandson or other, or the influx of a small Polish community that threatened to overthrow the natural order of things), meant that she had experienced a gradual ostracism from the rest of the street. A year before she died, in the manner of outsiders the world over, she had instead become the subject of lurid gossip.

The nosy Mrs Beasley said she had seen Mrs Dandridge wandering around her back garden at an ungodly hour in some kind of haze, muttering strange things to herself (what Mrs Beasley was doing looking into someone else’s garden at this time was not discussed).

The magnificent Mrs Cole said she had heard strange noises from one of the upstairs windows; in the manner of an actress who really knew her audience, she refused to elaborate further – she simply raised an eyebrow and repeated ‘strange’.

The excitable Mrs Allen had confirmed Mrs Cole’s story, and added that at one time she had seen a green light blaze suddenly from the spare bedroom for a few seconds at the crescendo, but Mrs Allen was known to be a tad imaginative.


The final nail in terms of approval came a week before – a large package had arrived for Mrs Dandridge, and when there was no answer, the postman had delivered it to Mrs Allen next door and pushed a note through the letterbox. Mrs Allen, whose active imagination had been running riot after every discussion of Mrs Dandridge, couldn’t resist the opportunity to find out more, and opened the heavy box to “have a looksee”.

Inside was an extremely large, extremely ancient book with a set of symbols unlike anything Mrs Allen had seen before. The lettering and patterns seemed to weave together and shift on the cover and, after a few seconds, Mrs Allen’s head began to hurt. She couldn’t take her eyes off it.

A furious hammering at the door interrupted her trance. A full quarter hour had passed.

A wild eyed and wild haired Mrs Dandridge stood on the doorstep.

“You didn’t open it!”

Mrs Allen’s eyes widened in indignation “Certainly not!” Mrs Allen did not expect to be accused of such things on her own doorstep. The fact that she had was beside the point.

“Give it to me.”

It wouldn’t hurt to say please, thought Mrs Allen as she hastily shut up the lid and awkwardly carried it to the front door. Mrs Dandridge interrogative tone had vanished, and been replaced with a vague, dreamy look.

“Thank you, m’dear.”

And she was gone.


A week later a heat wave had struck. Mrs Cole’s dutiful grandson Paul had been visiting his grandmother and her friends in the way all good grandsons should – telling slightly risqué stories, pouring the tea, and flattering Mrs Allen. He was on his way home when he caught the edge of a very strange smell. Paul had never been around a body before, so he had little idea that, left in the heat, the smell becomes overpowering in a confined space and leaks out of windows and doors to pollute the street. He approached the house that seemed to be the source.

Unable to get any response from knocking, and remembering that this was Mrs Dandridge’s house - a woman he had found odd, but not known well enough to form the concrete opinions of his grandmother – he went around the back and found the back door ajar. Curiosity and concern overcoming trepidation, he pushed it open and went in.

The smell was overpowering, invading his nostrils and seemed to coat him in a layer of grease. Acutely aware that he was potentially trespassing, he called out.

“Mrs Dandridge?”

She wasn’t downstairs. He began to ascend.

“Mrs Dandridge?”

The smell was worse on the landing. He pushed open the door to the spare bedroom.

“Mrs Dan-“

The tableau before him was in many ways simple, but it took his eyes several seconds to process it. The simplicity itself underlined the stark, revelatory sense of horror he experienced.

A mirror was at one end of the room. On it had been scrawled a series of symbols and patterns in what was now a brown, flaky substance.

In front of the mirror was an emaciated corpse, a mummy that had been carefully dried out and preserved – this was later identified as the late Mr Dandridge.

In the far corner, a pizza delivery boy sat upright with a surprised expression and a cut throat.

In the middle of the room, a large book was opened at a page showing a horrific image of a demon that seemed to shift on the page. The two dimensional drawing seemed to have its own depth, and the mocking expression of the creature itself seemed to stare straight into Paul’s soul.

Finally there was Mrs Dandridge. The medics would later state that the expression of exquisite horror frozen on her face suggested that she had died immediately of fright. Paul could only hope that was the case, because whatever the strange Mrs Dandridge had seen that had taken her life had taken her eyes along with it.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Frankenstein's Army - Movie Review

Frankenstein's Army is the kind of film that exists pretty much beyond all criticism. To watch it and be disappointed, disgusted, even offended is definitely the viewer's fault. If the fact that it's a found footage film (a Soviet propaganda film no less!) set in the second world war hadn't set the tone enough for you, the first time a man sporting seven-foot long spikes for arms, a drill for a face and a Nazi uniform appears on screen, it should be pretty clear that this is a film with its tongue stuck so far into its cheek it's discovered cave paintings.

And you thought the locker room was
bad at the Harlow Leisure Centre 

(That metaphor got a bit away from me there, I do apologize.)

The set-up is simple: a squad of Russian soldiers out on an extended patrol hear a distress call from thier comrades, and go to investigate. Instead of the Red Army, they discover a laboratory filled with the weird and wonderful creations of Victor Frankenstein, grandson of the famous Frankenstein of the novel, who has been working for the Nazis in developing his own animate creations (or Dead Army, if you're into lame puns). It becomes increasingly clear, however, that the mad, bad doc has been going his own way for some time, having murdered all of the villagers in the area.

First off, the plot's ridiculous, the acting's not that great and the characters don't exactly leave much of an impression, and the found-footage conceit requires a suspension of disbelief somewhere in the stratosphere. So why watch it? The monsters.
The one described above (and in the picture) is only one of a seemingly endless parade of bizarre, horrific, wonderfully realized creations. This is the kind of film where to friends afterwards you spend about two minutes describing the plot and about ten describing the monsters. I only refrain here because I don't want to spoil the surprise.

Oh, all right, here's another:

Well two, but how cool are these guys!

If you don't like the sound of a film with Giant Nazi Frankenstein Monsters, this isn't the film to change your mind. If, like me, you feel you should know better, but do like the sound of GNFM, you'll get a kick out of this.

It's also probably fair to warn you that this is an extremely gory film, so if you aren't a fan, best to steer clear. 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The World's End - Movie Review

To say my hopes were high for this one is a bit like saying it's been a tad warm the last week and a half. Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz remain two of my favorite movies and are associated with some pretty awesome memories, so the third in the 'Cornetto Trilogy' was always going to be dragging round a weight of expectation roughly the size of the second Death Star.

Not to go on too much of a nostalgia trip, but I saw Shaun of the Dead at the age of sixteen the first time I had ever gone camping with my friends. I went in, having never seen Spaced or anything else Simon Pegg, Edgar Wright or Nick Frost had done. We saw it, cycled back to the campsite, drank a couple of beers and spent the entire night quoting it at one another. Despite the fact that I don't speak to anyone from that part of my life any more, it remains in my memory as one of the most fun nights I had as a teenager.

Hot Fuzz was the opposite. The build-up of excitement had been a slow burn over many months, and being a few years older (and having watched Spaced) it didn't have the same visceral impact, but I enjoyed it. Over the next few years, it grew on me to the extent that I like it as much as Shaun, and there is still a group of people in my hometown where if we get together, within an hour we are trading quotes and laughing at our appalling West Country accents.

This one, however, I saw after several days of sleep deprivation and illness about three days after being really, really hot had stopped being fun. I say this as a declared interest - I wasn't in anywhere near the same frame of mind going into this one as the other two. Whether this has colored my opinions is something a re-watch will hopefully answer, and as a result I will try to keep comparisons to a minimum.

The World's End is a film about five men in their late 30s dragged back to their hometown to finish a pub crawl by one of their number they started at the age of 18. Of course, it's not as simple as that (as anyone who's seen the trailers knows) and eventually the five men (and one woman) must come together to save their old town and possibly even the human race from an alien invasion.

The person who has dragged them all back is one Gary King (Pegg), a truly monstrous creation who saw that night as the last great moment in his life. As someone who knows people like this (as well as the velvety touch of nostalgia addiction myself) he strikes a little too close to home to be really funny, at least for me - his selfishness and his grim insistence on a 'good time' on his terms undercuts the rather pleasant reunion the other guys enjoy, asking about jobs, kids, marriages and so on. He occasionally hits the right note with a genuinely funny anecdote but always overplays his hand. He's an amalgamation of every person you know who can't let go.

Only two others of the 'five musketeers' receive significant development. Andy (Frost) is a businessman who is in many ways the opposite of Gary. He's moved on, but it is frequently implied that he has also seen the consequences first-hand of living a life like Gary's. A payment of £600 made by Gary to Andy at the beginning  has taken on some dark undertones by the end. Andy is probably the most interesting character here - his refusal to drink and his brutal deconstruction of laddy 'drink culture' early on is particularly memorable. 

The other is Paddy Considine as Steven, last seen as one of the 'Andys' in Hot Fuzz, who comes across as somewhere in the middle of Gary and Andy. He embraces the opportunity more than Andy to revisit his younger self, dancing in the car and genuinely pleased to greet his old friends. He is also one of the most level-headed of the gang and most likable (in a film with Simon Pegg and Nick Frost that is no mean feat). Also worth noting is Rosamund Pike as an old flame of Gary's, who manages to avoid being an ice-queen super bitch or a mere love interest and instead comes across like a rather sweet, real person.

I know that I promised to avoid comparisons, but I believe there is one worth making here - while both Shaun and Fuzz had lengthy setups for the inevitable mayhem, it was foreshadowed in a variety of ways. In both you were aware something was going on in each and the joy was waiting for the payoff. Here, the alien invasion, even if you know it's coming from the trailer, comes out of nowhere. The film suddenly changes gear with a crunch and the effect is jarring. Because this one, more than the others, is not based off of a particular genre, the effect is also a feeling of going off the rails rather than settling into familiar archetypes. As a result, the film has to carry all of it's own weight, especially when it comes to suspension of disbelief, and unfortunately for me it never quite did.

The core plot of the pub crawl, combined with the alien invasion, is ultimately revealed to be a flimsy device on which to base the action, with the inside of one pub looking much like another (with one or two exceptions) and virtually no sense of danger at any point. The obligatory (at this point) cameos of various stars of the previous films and Spaced are here, but virtually none of them do anything except act as either exposition or a simple "Hey, it's that guy!"

I would say at this point that this is by no means a bad film. It's certainly coherent, and nothing truly maddening or base-breaking occurs. It is simply that one gets a sense of the principles having moved on. The 'Cornetto Trilogy' was begun at the very beginning of the star's respective careers and each has gone on to carve out a unique and respectable niche in the entertainment industry. Ironically, for a film in many ways about the dangers of nostalgia, they seem to have come back to their origins for one last hurrah and made something that disappointed me, at least. If it was a choice between this and them independently going off and carrying on with what they're doing now, the 'Cornetto Trilogy' could have remained uncompleted and I would have been slightly disappointed, but better that than come back for this effort, which seems a little half-hearted in light of the other two. 

The saddest thing, in many ways, is the complete lack of references to other films/TV shows/books in this one. The stated reason from Edgar Wright was that it wasn't something they wanted to keep doing, as they felt they were passed it (I think he thought it was immature). This makes me sad because it suggests they have lost sight of what made Spaced and the films so appealing in the first place. The joke was that we are a generation that is so mired in pop culture that everything is filtered through it - it's an idea that is approached in all sorts of ways in all three, mostly hilariously ("We're not using the Z word!") and to abandon it also abandons a huge chunk of the charm. 

Ultimately it didn't quite do it for me. By all means, go and see it, but this fan was disappointed. 

Finally, the ending. Without spoiling, this seems like it could divide people. I am ambivalent about it, but I will say this: there was more originality, charm and interesting ideas in the thirty second epilogue than there were in the previous hour and a half. 

I am aware this review is completely subjective and I did way more comparisons than I intended, I can only view this film through the same eyes I experience all the ups and downs of the real world and the first parts of the 'Cornetto Trilogy' are tied into my life in such complex ways that I can't even begin to view them objectively - and frankly I don't see why I should even try. Your experience of this film is likely to be completely different from mine, so I am not going to suggest whether or not you should go see it. All I can do is put down my thoughts and impressions and you can take from them what you will.

Andy out. 

Friday, 19 July 2013

Silent Hill - Movie Review

It is almost a universal law that any adaptation of a video game into a film is going to be terrible. The reverse is also generally true (because of the way Hollywood sees games as tie-ins as opposed to something requiring independent development*) but those usually can be safely ignored - but the movies seem to a lot more intrusive, and a lot more likely to rile up fans of that particular game or series.

The list of awful movies based on video games is long, sad and should mostly be ignored (I'm not going to bother even mentioning them) but in this review I want to talk about a film that is almost there for me -Silent Hill.

For those of you who have never played any of the games, Silent Hill is an abandoned, deserted town in which a steady rain of ash falls unceasingly on the streets and seriously weird, aggressive creatures stalk the roads and inside the buildings. Also it occasionally turns into a red industrial nightmare version of itself, with the very walls becoming flesh and even weirder monsters looking to tear our protagonist limb from limb, or at the very least make him change his or her trousers.

This is one of the less disturbing ones
Also, depending on the entry, the monsters are either the delusions of a half-mad telekinetic teenager who's been tortured by an insane cult for seven years or the projections of the protagonist trying to deal with his own guilt, grief and sexual frustration. Yeah, they're kinda messed up.

Taking its cue from the first Silent Hill, but using elements from the second and third, the film initially follows the first game pretty closely (bar the gender of the protagonist) as Rose de Silva takes her daughter to the town after she mentions it a lot while sleep walking, crashes, wakes up to an empty car and goes looking for her missing daughter. This is all packed into the first ten minutes or so, and gets the situation set up and the town front and centre from the get-go. After that, it's only a matter of time before the sirens sound** and everything literally goes to hell - a red industrial nightmare as opposed to the blue-and-grey ash fever-dream that is the town's 'normal' state.

However, this is where the first of the film's problems appear. The film relies for its effects extremely heavily on CGI - the monsters, the transition between the two 'versions' of the town and especially the chaotic ending have all been made in a computer, which particularly does a disservice to the monsters as believing they are actually there is key to them being scary. Also the monsters are never really elaborated on. Sure, there are certainly theories one could come up with, but ultimately they are just creepy looking monsters - obstacles for the protagonist to get by or escape.

The second problem is that the characters themselves don't even seem that bothered by them. After Rose and Cybil (a patrol cop along for the ride) encounter the film equivalent of the thing in the picture above neither of them takes a moment to even go "What the HELL was that?!" It may be a function of the fact the plot needs to get moving, but the two ladies seem to acclimatize to the town awfully quickly, and recover rapidly from encounters with Silent Hill's less pleasant occupants when not under immediate threat.

This of course takes away the most important thing the games had going for them. At their best, a sense of suffocating dread and doom surrounded you, as you feared to pry open doors or couldn't solve puzzles because you were too disoriented and scared to think straight. Silent Hill 2 is still one of the most intensely terrifying experiences I have ever had. This film has nowhere near that level of sustained, harrowing horror.

The final problem is that the scenes in which Rose's husband and Sharon's father search for them in the non-supernatural version of Silent Hill stop the movie absolutely dead. As much as I love Sean Bean, the film would be better if these scenes were cut completely. It could be done very easily as well with no loss in story - that's how useless they are.

Not necessary

Yet despite these problems (and for most people, they tank the film) I stubbornly return to the fact that I like this film. While it doesn't scare, it does create a dream-like atmosphere all of it's own. The film is about Rose being trapped in a terrifying emotional puzzle box - an alternate dimension in which she must figure out the rules in order to get her daughter back. As a scary horror film, it's a bit lacking, but as a trip into a bizarre world with a radically different morality it works very well.

The film also effectively pillages the soundtracks of the games as well, and combining this with the mostly awesome set design creates a fascinating tapestry on which the events of the film play out.

So should you watch it? Sure. There's enough interesting stuff going on to distract you from how not-very-scary it is and it differentiates itself from the games enough that it's not an automatic either/or thing. The problems may be too much for some and they never completely vanish at any point so complete satisfaction is unlikely, but it's alright. I like it, but then again I like a lot of things.

One thing I noticed on this viewing (and was amazed I hadn't noticed before) was how dominated by women this film is. There are virtually no male roles in this at all (at least no useful ones - see above) - the story is about a mother searching for her daughter with a badass cop who happens to be a woman and coming into contact with various female antagonists. This is a movie that passes the Bechdel Test and then some, which is exceptionally rare when it comes to horror.

In fact, the only useful 'male' character is the creature credited as the 'Red Pyramid'. He has a pointed pyramid for a head, is immensely strong, and assaults women in this film with a massively long sword. Put it this way - he ain't subtle.

"I enjoy my work as a walking rape metaphor"

And even he is shown to be either the servant or created delusion of a powerful female force.

Silent Hill might be the most feminist horror movie ever made. 


* The exceptions to this rule generally occur are when there is a big enough gap between the release of the movie and the game. The best example is probably Goldeneye.

** I watched this with a bunch of people once before we all went to bed. Next morning at around 7 am me and the guy I was sharing a room with discovered the school bell across the road sounded exactly like the sirens from this. We weren't fully awake, so we both panicked a bit before realizing what it was and then felt a bit sheepish.

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Blair Witch Project - Movie Review

There's somethin' happening here. What it is ain't exactly clear...

After seeing both The Frankenstein Theory and Troll Hunter in quick succession, I decided it was time to fill a particularly glaring hole: The Blair Witch Project. Probably regarded as one of the most important horror movies of the 90s along with Scream. But where Scream looked backwards and simultaneously satirized and borrowed from the slasher films that dominated the horror market, The Blair Witch Project, (made with a very small budget, and marketed with the first truly viral campaign) was going to blow the dusty cobwebs off and revitalize it.

At least, that's the impression I always had. To be fair, I was 11 when it came out.

With nearly 15 years distance on it, however, we can see that things didn't exactly pan out that way. The 'found footage' genre went mostly underground until the emergence of Cloverfield in 2008. As such, it seems to stand alone, an odd relic.  So how does it stand up today, to a completely fresh viewer, devoid of it's marketing campaign?

(First off, I would like to say that I went into it knowing nothing of the background or the 'mythology'. Cardinal Rule of Movies - It has to stand on its own.)

If you don't know the plot, it's very straightforward. Three young filmmakers invetigating the legend of the 'Blair Witch' hike into the woods she supposedly haunts and are never heard from again. Their footage is found a year later. This is the footage.

Two things struck me straight off the bat. Firstly, this is very much a product of its time. It seems odd to say that about a time I actually remember, but there are little things that pin it down in the same way the mall is unmistakably from the 70s in Dawn of the Dead. All the protagonists smoke, for instance. They also reference pop culture that is rapidly going out of date (Gilligan's Island, anyone?). I imagine that diminishes it's impact slightly with a modern audience, as they are no longer Just Like Us. 

The second is that this is far more dedicated to the 'found footage' being presented as actual found footage. Most (including the two I mentioned at the start of this review) stretch the boundaries a little, allowing for voice overs, location shots and enough suspension of disbelief that the people would still be filming. In this, there are fights for the camera to be turned off at critical moments, no external exposition is provided and what you see on screen is pretty much what you're getting.

Which leads to a problem. There is no doubt at all that this is a very effective movie. It is exceptionally creepy at several points and the plight of our dynamic trio elicits sympathy, as they slowly get more and more lost, hungry and terrified. It is implied that the woods are rearranging themselves in order to keep them lost, although they do fail to do one or two incredibly obvious things (like follow the river or climb the nearest hill). 

The problem is one William F. Nolan described - nothing is as frightening as what is behind the closed door. Or out of shot with one of the protagonists yelling "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?" and never seeing what 'it' is. The trouble is, eventually you have to open the door, not enough that the monster is fully exposed and rendered harmless, but just enough to hint at what is behind it. H. P. Lovecraft at his best is the absolute master of this technique, and he only gets it right about 25% of the time.

Or to put it another way, implication trumps explanation.

The challenge then, is to give juuuust enough away for the reader to draw their own conclusions about what is behind the door. Too much information renders something harmless. It's a problem many films suffer from. 

This film has the opposite problem. I'm sure if you had seen all the trailers, the faux-documentaries, the website links, the ominous piles of rocks that appear overnight around the tent at one point will seem incredibly sinister and threatening. As it stands, it's creepy and, well, vague. What are they being menaced by? "I have literally no idea" is not the greatest of answers to give, as someone like me who is trying to puzzle out what's going on is only doing that and not engaging with the characters or being scared silly. Vampires and zombies can still be scary now (when done well) because we know exactly what they are going to do to us. The 'Blair Witch' is an unknown quantity. It's sinister, but not horrifying. Scary, but not terrifying.

These, however, were terrifying

I'm sure if I wanted to I could delve into the mythology and find it creepier the second time around, but I shouldn't ever have to. As it stands, The Blair Witch Project is a fascinating ur-example of the 'found footage' genre, a triumph of low budget film making, and certainly worth seeing, but for me it worked on the same level as a haunted house ride. Kids go into the woods, sinister stuff happens, I get creeped out, film ends. I felt like I had just been on a rollercoaster, not watched one of the scariest movies ever made

It sounds like I am bashing this film. I am not. It is excellent, and definitely worth seeing. Just don't expect something mind-blowingly incredible.   

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Troll Hunter - Movie Review

As I said in my review of The Frankenstein Theory, I am usually not a massive fan of found footage films in the same way I'm not fond of the feeling I get when I try to read in a car. But after enjoying TFT I thought I would check this one out for two reasons: 1) This was the film that The Frankenstein Theory was most often compared to in other reviews, most probably because it has the same combination of frozen wilderness + potential monster and 2) I'm a sucker for anything Scandinavian.

Yes, Troll Hunter (known in Norway as Trolljegeren) is a found footage film with subtitles, just like the half-decent Spanish film Rec. The fact that it's been somewhat successful means it will probably get a remake, but then again, I'm cynical.

The film opens with a trio of young filmmakers (that sounds familiar) talking to a licensed bear hunter who believes that another man known only as Hans has been illegally shooting bears. Our intrepid scooby-gang decide to follow this poacher and question him about his activities, as well as his odd nocturnal habits, but he pretty much tells them to go away please and leave him alone.

Or words to that effect

They don't, of course, and instead decide to follow him into the woods at night, where several flashes and mysterious roaring fill the night sky, followed by a wild-eyed Hans stumbling upon the group yelling "TROLL!!"

Yep. Trolls are real, and they live in Norway.

Having established his credentials as a troll hunter/non-poacher, Hans then invites the group to accompany him on his various troll-hunting expeditions. That's basically the plot, with troll action a-plenty. A lot of the trolls are based on Norweigan folk tales, lending this an air of regionalism that will probably be lost in a remake (grumble) and there are moments when obvious cultural jokes and references are lost, either in translation or simply not being from Norway. However the film is good enough and funny enough to transcend these, and they are minor distractions rather than driving the plot.

So what about the trolls themselves? They come in lots of different varieties and we see plenty of them (including one 200 foot fella who really makes the movie's third act) and the effects are uniformly excellent. We get a (very) brief 'scientific' background for them as well as names for the different sub-species. They are pretty 'balanced' as monsters go as well: large enough to be threatening and scary, without feeling insurmountable and yet not feeling like pushovers despite a set of known weaknesses.

So what's wrong with the film? The trolls themselves never really transcend being big and smashy monsters, with no real personality or sense of life-cycle except exposition and a scene down a mine shaft. The overarching plot (something to do with trolls breaking out of their territories and being infected with some sort of disease) is a very loose thread on which the film hangs and stops making any real sense before the end. The ending leaves a lot to be desired as well, with the 'found footage' concept limiting the outcomes as well as leading to some strange behavior from some characters.

Overall though, the film is a lot of fun. You should probably give it a go.


Saturday, 22 June 2013

The Battery - Movie Review

Wow. Just wow.

After watching the lackluster effort The Facility and the awful Survival of the Dead (the rather pathetic latest entry in George A Romero's Dead films) I wasn't feeling that great about modern horror and was about to retreat into the safety of the 70s when the guy who recommended The Frankenstein Theory put me onto this little gem.

Made for a ridiculously small amount of money ($6,000) and starring the writer and director (Jeremy Gardner) it follows the aimless wanderings of two former professional baseball players* through New England as they fish, play catch and club the reanimated dead with baseball bats. Yes, it's a zombie film, but completely unlike any I've ever seen before.

These two (probably the most interesting pairing in any zombie film, hell, horror film I've seen) have survived the initial collapse of civilization and now scavenge the remains of the old world. Their enemies are less the zombies themselves at this point, and more boredom, nihilism and an attachment to the old order. The latter is more of a problem with Mickey (Adam Cronheim), who has trouble abandoning his old life and habits and frequently clashes with Ben (Gardner) who the apocalypse has turned into a ruthless pragmatist. 

This is the kind of film I want to say so much more about, but I wouldn't want to spoil one of the most perfect cinematic experiences I have ever had. The only thing I will add is that the soundtrack (a mix of indie and country covers) is one of the best of it's kind. Anything else will be a spoiler, or won't do it justice.

You may not have the same reaction I had, but you will see something unlike anything you've seen before. This is not my usual GO SEE IT for films I like - this is a serious recommendation that if you are a lover of film you need to see this. 

Here is the trailer:


* The principals are a pitcher and a hitter, which together are known as a battery, apparently, hence the title.

Friday, 21 June 2013

The Bard Subs for Andy's Lack of Editorial Satisfaction

I have been writing some stuff for here, but I can't get it to come together in a way that is satisfying for me, so instead have some late-night Shakespeare:

No matter where. Of comfort no man speak:
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
Let's choose executors and talk of wills;
And yet not so—for what can we bequeath
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke's.
And nothing can we count our own but death,
And that small model of the barren earth
Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
For God's sake let us sit upon the ground
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been deposed, some slain in war,
Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos'd,
Some poison'd by their wives, some sleeping kill'd;
All murder'd: for within the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps Death his court; and there the antick sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp;
Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
To monarchize, be fear'd, and kill with looks,
Infusing him with self and vain conceit
As if this flesh which walls about our life
Were brass impregnable; and, humour'd thus,
Comes at the last, and with a little pin
Bores through his castle wall, and farewell, king!
Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
With solemn reverence: throw away respect,
Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty;
For you have but mistook me all this while:
I live with bread like you, feel want,
Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
How can you say to me I am a king?

- Richard II, Act 3, Scene 2

Monday, 17 June 2013

The Facility - Movie Review

I have a bit of a bias towards old horror. Going through my old posts, I thought I had a good mix, but then realized that the 5-part Hammer Horror behemoth tipped the balance somewhat heavily, putting the average age of the movies reviewed on here somewhere around 1975. Ah well.

The reasons for this are many, but the main one is to do with filtration. I'll explain:
  1. Most film reviewers, including several high-profile ones, don't really approach horror very well. I have no idea why, and it's just my opinion, but there we go.
  2. As such me finding stuff I would like relies on (a) word-of-mouth (or rather, word-of-internet), (b) working my way through a director's back catalog and (c) wild stabs in the dark. 
  3. The longer a film is out, the better (a) works, which is the best of the three.
This review is of one chosen through option (c).

Saturday night I was at my parent's house for Father's Day the next day, when myself and my girlfriend found ourselves unexpectedly alone and with access to my sister's collection of schlocky, modern horror. We selected The Facility based on the premise, which sounded intriguing enough (human guinea pigs test new drug, bad things happen) and watched the theatrical trailer:

Looked serviceable. So we watched it.

Hmm. First the positive.

The first thing to say about this is that it is clearly low budget and very stripped down. There's one location: the facility itself (thank you, Captain Obvious), which might have been used for interiors as well from the look of it and nicely coveys a sense of both isolation and claustrophobia. It also doesn't make the mistake a lot of these sorts of films make - the building exterior, nor any of the rooms inside actively look evil. You ever see a film with one of these "let's gather strangers together" premises where any sane person with working eyes would have walked after five minutes? Yeah, this one doesn't do that. It's refreshing.

The cast are redshirts to a man, and there's only about ten people in the film altogether. They're an interesting enough bunch so you can tell them apart when bad stuff goes down, but not a lot more than that. The doctor and nurse seem sympathetic and friendly, the test subjects alternate between anxious newcomers and grizzled veterans (literally, in one case), there's a bloke who wants to break all the rules, etc. etc. They're all cut from 100% horror archetype cloth, but at least you know where you stand. and the slow realization that the staggered injections mean that they are all doomed in turn does make them all somewhat sympathetic in their plight. 

They are all, of course, complete morons in the other great tradition of horror, leaving doors open all over the place, discovering a CCTV system then not using it to track where the crazier members of the party have gone, not taking one of the many, MANY opportunities to escape and go get help, but these are people who have signed up for a medical trial for two weeks. They went in expecting to essentially sit around for two weeks. It's not that surprising that they continue to do so when the proverbial hits the fan.

So what about the negative? First off, the nature of the trial itself seems a bit off. Sure, you can buy into the idea that it's all hush-hush and the trial was supposed to go 'wrong' but I'm not sure what a medical trial with only seven people in it is supposed to tell anyone. I suppose if you got a good mix, but still. Also, what the drug is supposed to be doing is not made clear. Is it an anti-psychotic? A painkiller? No idea.

I could forgive all that, however (movies and science, especially medical science, is always a bit hit-and-miss, or rather miss-and-bigger-miss) if it wasn't for this movies other problem, which is that it is boring. That trailer? That literally is all of the scary bits in this film. Stretch them out over 80 minutes and add in a LOT of talking and that is the movie. It's not scary enough.

The third problem is that it keeps setting up sub-plots that go precisely nowhere. There's a journalist investigating The Facility. One character finds out he's in the clear. One of the staff survives long enough to get in radio contact. The CCTV, which I mentioned. The film ends, abruptly, leaving many threads hanging and onscreen text that doesn't exactly wrap things up, instead going for an "aren't pharmaceutical companies EVIL" vibe instead. 

But surely the nail in the coffin of any horror picture is it not being scary. If it doesn't make you at least jump, it's not really worth the time. 

The Facility is not offensively bad, nor is it so-bad-it's-good. It won't do you any harm. It's just dull.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Game of Thrones Withdrawal, or Andy Tells You What to Watch Now

It's that tragic time of year again folks: Game of Thrones is coming to an end. And while the finale is still just over a week off (meaning we've got two more lovely episodes to enjoy) my experiences in the last two years of vicious withdrawal lead me to write what I hope will act as a TV-based methadone clinic.


The Vikings

Many of you will have been burnt by historical dramas in the past. For every Rome, there has been a Braveheart (although some people would swap these around). This is the first one produced by the History Channel and it's pretty good. We follow the adventures of Ragnar Loðbrok, a semi-legendary figure who definitely existed but may not have done all the awesome stuff attributed to him, but he does on the show. If you want to see rowing longboats, raids on monasteries, blood feuds and men desperately wanting to make it to Valhalla through fighting to the death, you'll probably like this program.

  • Travis Fimmel is really good as Ragnar, alternatively brooding, adventurous, paternal and violent.
  • Gustaf Skarsgard, George Blagden, Katheryn Winnick and Gabriel Byrne are all pretty good as well.
  • No sex at all, really, which makes a nice change.
  • The theme tune by Fever Ray is amazing.
  • They're VIKINGS. 
  • The story is a LOT less complicated than GoT, but this means the characters aren't as well developed.
  • In a similar vein, the characters (with the exception of Ragnar) are more reacting to historical events than driving the plot forward.
  • There are a couple of weak links in the cast. I'm looking at you, Jessalyn Gilsig.
  • If you're not into Vikings, there's not a lot here to change your mind or keep you entertained. 
  • The first episode is kind of weak, but it takes off very quickly after that.
 Status: The series finished at the end of April, and got renewed for another ten episodes showing next year.


The Hollow Crown

Showing on the BBC last year, these adaptations of Shakespeare's Henriad (Richard II, 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV and Henry V) were part of the celebration of British culture leading into the Olympic Games. Produced by Sam Mendes, they are high class, reasonably high budget adaptations of the plays and about a million miles from those staid, slightly dodgy BBC adaptations from the seventies you may have been shown clips of at school.

  • The cast over the four plays is ridiculous: Sir Patrick Stewart, Jeremy Irons, Tom Hiddleston, Richard Griffiths, John Hurt, David Morrisey...
  • Game of Thrones, Schmane of Thrones, THESE are the original dynastic struggles, based on real people and real events. 
  • The language is beautiful.
  • ...Simon Russell Beale, Julia Walters, Alun Armstrong, David Suchet...
  • The plays are easier to follow than on stage as the action moves around to actual locations.
  • It's unapologetically Shakespeare. If you find his language difficult to follow these don't soften it much.
  • They are all pretty long. Richard II clocks in at about 3 hours and the shortest, Henry V is still over 2.
  • Henry IV part II is seen as one of Shakespeare's weaker plays for good reason.
  • Ben Whishaw is a bit...fey as Richard II. He also speaks exclusively in verse.
  • For Shakespeare purists, they do do a bit of trimming, but that's mainly to control the length.  
Status: Shown last July and available on DVD. I really want them to make the other historical tetralogy (1 Henry VI, 2 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI and Richard III) but doesn't seem likely as nobody watched this one.



A bit different from the other two on this list, it makes it through the quality of the acting. Mads Mikkelsen stars as the legendary cannibal, consulted by damaged special agent Will Graham at a point in time before he realized that maybe he shouldn't be eating the hor d'oeuvres on offer. In a TV landscape dominated by 'police' procedurals this one stands out through being beautifully shot, well acted and gruesome as hell.


  • By the end of the first episode, Anthony Hopkins has moved to the back of your mind, as Mads Mikkelsen effortlessly inhabits the role, displaying just the right mix of cultured refinement and suppressed sadism.
  • It's lovely to look at, and has lots of nods to fans of the books or films.
  • Hugh Dancy as Will Graham acts out his loosening grip on reality perfectly, and the scenes with Hannibal are a joy to watch.
  • Excellent selection of guest stars, from Lance Henriksen to Eddie Izzard to Gillian Anderson. 
  • Despite anyone who's seen Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon knowing how it eventually pans out, still one of the most unpredictable shows on TV
  • I cannot emphasize this enough: It is really, really gruesome. One of the most gruesome things I've ever watched. Strong stomachs required.
  • Jumps around a bit between 'killer of the week' and the overarching plot, so can be a bit disorientating.
  • Any time Will and/or Hannibal aren't on screen, it becomes a lot less interesting.
  • Freddie Lounds (Philip Seymour Hoffman in Red Dragon) is now a red-headed woman for some reason, and is distractingly irritating.
  • On a similar note, almost none of the female characters are well-developed.  
Status: Finishes on June 20th and has just been renewed by NBC.


So there you go. I'm not claiming any of these are as good as GoT BUT they should help with the come-down. Choose the one you like most and enjoy!