strange_complex: (Dracula Risen hearse smile)
Having rediscovered the joys of Hammer's Dracula on our recent trip to Manchester, it seemed like time to revisit some of the sequels. I picked this one first because it is my favourite of what you might call the 'straight' sequels - that is, the ones in which they were playing the story fairly seriously, rather than as a pastiche or a parody. I also hadn't seen it for a while. Checking back through the films I have watched since starting to review them all here systematically in 2007, I can find a viewing of Prince of Darkness from 2010, and one of AD 1972 from 2012 (by far my favourite of the non-straight sequels), but not this one. So it was time.

As I watched, I tried to put my finger on what it is about this one that I like so much. I forged my opinion of it in my mid-teens, so that it is difficult now to reassess it fairly through the weight of my own nostalgia, but I think in the end that my teenage judgement was fairly sound. A big factor is that the characters are so great )

Meanwhile, the dark Gothic atmosphere is ramped up to the max )

In short, then, a great rediscovery, and I stick by my fondness for this particular sequel. But watching it did make me realise that I am going to have to up-grade some beloved but ancient possessions. See, I think of myself as already owning all eight of the Hammer Dracula films. Indeed, here they are:

Dracula videos crop Dracula box set crop

(Obviously Carry on Cleo isn't part of the series - it was just recorded on the same tape as The Brides of Dracula). We recorded Dracula off the telly in about 1985 (I believe), following it up with some of the sequels as they too were broadcast. I got the box set for Christmas from my Dad in the year it came out, which copyright notices on the backs of the individual boxes tells me was 1988, meaning I would have been 12. Obviously, according to the certificates on the boxes I should not really have been watching these films at such a tender age, and nor should my Dad have been buying them for me, but I'd already seen the first one at 9 and been entranced rather than terrified, so I think he judged correctly that I would be fine with them. (It's perhaps worth adding that neither 12 nor 12A certificates existed at that time, and that some of these films have since been reclassified downwards.) I bought the other two commercial tapes soon afterwards with either Christmas or birthday money, and distinctly remember having to ask some random guy in HMV to purchase at least one of them for me, because I couldn't yet pass for 18.

In other words, I have owned this lot for at least 25 years, some of it longer. I've watched them all dozens of times, and they have been through multiple house-moves with me. But although I carefully bought a combi video-DVD player eight years ago, in order to ensure that my existing video collection would not become obsolete, the truth is that in practice I don't watch any of my old video cassettes very often these days, and in particular have barely done so since buying my wide-screen telly three years ago. And watching this film made me realise why not. Fuzzy picture-quality I can cope with, but having two blank rectangles on either side of the screen where the picture has been cut off to fit a 4:3 aspect ratio, when you know there could perfectly well be extra picture there instead is more than I can stand. So it's time to retire those old video-cassettes, and get some shiny new DVDs instead. That's my Christmas-list sorted, then.

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strange_complex: (One walking)
I'm settled in to watching the First Doctor era sequentially at the moment, but the next two stories to come up on that basis are ones I've already seen and reviewed: The Rescue and The Romans. That was way back in January 2008, so very much at the beginning of my Who-watching Odyssey, and at a time when I'd only seen three other First Doctor stories (An Unearthly Child, The Daleks and The Edge of Destruction). Nonetheless, looking back over my comments on them at the time, I do seem to have given them both quite a full treatment, and done a fairly good job of understanding how they fitted into the developing direction of the series at the time.

So I don't think it's actually necessary to re-watch them or re-review them now: although I certainly will need to revisit The Romans before next Easter, as the panel on Classics and Doctor which [livejournal.com profile] swisstone is organising has now been accepted, so my paper on Doctor Who and history is go! On the other hand, this did seem like a good opportunity to watch the extras for both stories included on the DVD releases, which did not even exist when I first watched both last year. Under the cuts are a few extra thoughts prompted by doing so.

First Doctor: The Rescue (DVD extras) )

First Doctor: The Romans (DVD extras) )

Click here to view this entry with minimal formatting.

strange_complex: (Tom Baker)
For most of this year so far, I've been working my way more-or-less sequentially through the Tom Baker era, largely thanks to UKTV Drama. When the current season of New Who started up, however, they went into temporary hiatus, leaving me hanging at The Robots of Death. I was ready, though. The enticingly-packaged Key to Time box-set was already waiting in reserve. It meant jumping forwards a little - but what with one thing and another there are actually only four stories I haven't seen between Robots... and the start of this season, so it wasn't too much of a problem, and it has meant another six stories viewed (mainly) in their original broadcast order. Now that I've worked my way through not only its six stories, but a solid selection of its myriad extra features, it's time to review it - as a season, and as a set.

Fourth Doctor: The Ribos Operation )

Fourth Doctor: The Pirate Planet )

Fourth Doctor: The Stones of Blood )

Fourth Doctor: The Androids of Tara )

Fourth Doctor: The Power of Kroll )

Fourth Doctor: The Armageddon Factor )

The Key to Time Season )

The Key to Time Box Set )

Overall, then, not every story in this season may be amongst the best. But the box-set itself is a very sound investment. And now I do believe it is time for this week's episode of New Who... *big grin*

strange_complex: (Leela Ooh)
The other day while taking money out at a cash-point, I noticed that there was rather more money in my bank account than I'd been expecting. The next time I had a spare moment, I went online to find out why, and saw that a payment of £477.34 had been made into my account by Queen's University Belfast.

This worried me for a few days. I've finished working there, and my last pay-cheque came in at the end of September. So why were they suddenly sending me more money? Was it a mistake? Or some kind of tax rebate based on the erroneous assumption that I was now unemployed?

Either way, my future looked likely to involve hassle and having to pay it back.

Until, that is, I actually got a pay-slip from them yesterday, where the money was described as a redundancy payment. Now, to be fair, I did get a letter from the Personnel department shortly before I left saying that staff who'd been employed by the University for a year or less were due a week's worth of their salary as a redundancy payment if their contract was terminated. But I got a lot of other rather nonsensical letters that were obviously being generated automatically by some sort of 'system' around the same time, and assumed that it didn't really apply to me, since I'd been on a fixed-term contract and had always known it was going to end when it did.

It seems, though, that this particular letter really was true. So, to celebrate, I popped round to Richer Sounds this afternoon, and bought something I've been meaning to buy for some time, and especially since I was in there the other day buying a coaxial cable and saw it there, winking at me on the shelf: a combination VCR / DVD player / recorder. This one, to be precise.

Is this machine teh sechs? Oh gods, yes! These are some of the benefits it has brought into my life:Combi lust )Suffice it to say that I am feeling more than satisfied with my purchase. And kinda warm and gooey towards Queen's, of course.

Meanwhile, in a somewhat-related vein, I also feel that the world should know about the bill I got the other day from BT:

What do you mean, not worth the paper it's written on? )

Now I'm going out. I look forward immensely to my DVD recording of this evening's episode of A Bit of Fry & Laurie when I return. Let's just hope I managed to set the timer correctly...

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