Doctor Who Titles Dominate Telos Publishings 2016 Top Ten BUT…..

Telos Publishing is a small independent publisher best known for its Doctor Who related book titles.
The name of the company gives it away, the imprint was founded with a love of the history of the Doctor in mind.
David J Howe has just released the list of top ten of 2016 book titles (excluding 2017 preorders), and it is fair to say that Doctor Who does dominate with 6 out of ten titles being Doctor Who related. But is it good to see that the publisher is featuring more and more original fiction, the latest Sam Stone book holding on to the number 8 slot after only being published a couple of months ago.

We do love indie publishers, so if you are interested in buying a title PLEASE use the links below to go to the relevant Telos.co.uk book page.

1 The Target Book h/b by David J Howe Buy here
2 Time of the Doctor (“Doctor Who” 2012 & 2013) p/b by Stephen James Walker Buy Here
3 Time of the Doctor (“Doctor Who” 2012 & 2013) h/b by Stephen James Walker Buy Here
4 The Making of “Casino Royale” (1967) (Telos Movie Classics # 2) by Michael Richardson Buy Here
5 Howe’s Transcendental Toybox by David J Howe and Arnold T Blumberg Buy Here
6 Madman in a Box: The Social History of “Doctor Who” by David Johnson Buy Here
7 Rubber Sharks and Wooden Acting: The Ultimate Bad Movie Guide by Nico Vaughan Buy Here
8 Kat and the Pendulum (Kat Lightfoot # 5) by Sam Stone Buy Here
9 Songs for Europe – Vol 2 (“Eurovision Song Contest”) by Gordon Roxburgh Buy Here
10 The Handbook Vols 1+2 (“Doctor Who”)by David J Howe, Stephen James Walker and Mark Stammers Buy Here

Lego Red Dwarf, An Idea You Should Back.

Full Lego Red Dwarf Set

Full Lego Red Dwarf Set
Full Lego Red Dwarf Set
Here at Scifind we love Red Dwarf and LEGO, so what better campaign to back that that to get an official Lego Red Dwarf set!

With Lego MiniFigs of Dave Lister, Cat, Kryten, Arnold Rimmer and a Skutter the Playset includes some of the permanent fixtures including Dave and Arnold’s bunks and the Holly Hop Drive. There is also a Blue Midgit.

A Starbug playset may be fodder for a possible future Lego Red Dwarf set.

The steps needed to get this Red Dwarf Lego set in production are essentially get 100,000 votes (which the project is well over half way) then get official LEGO approval.

Looking at the images (below) this would be an amazing set to follow the Doctor Who Lego set.

Taken from the blurb on the official Lego Page.

Set on board the mining ship of the shows namesake. My set features Dave Lister the last human being alive, Arnold Rimmer a Hologram of his dead bunkmate, CAT a creature that evolved from Lister’s pet cat Frankenstein, an Android named Kryten and finally the ships senile computer system Holly.

As an added incentive, my set also features the shows two favourite recurring characters, Ace Rimmer and Daune Dibbley!

With continuity itself being a running joke on the show, I have decided to use this to my advantage and create a truly unique set, which uses the best aspects from across all the seasons. The RED crew quarters décor from season X, the Holly Hop Drive from season II, the space craft Blue Midget and the male incarnation of Holly.

The sets main features include Lister and Rimmer’s iconic bunk beds (includes the posters inside), a sliding airlock door and not forgetting one of the ship’s mischievous Skutters.

What Now For Peter Jackson Now The Second Middle Earth Trilogy is Complete?

Now that The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies will be available on Digital HD NOW and Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, DVD on 20th April 2015 Scifind looks at what the director has in store next. And what we think he should do next.

Firstly What We Know.

Peter Jackson has a single directorial project known of, this is The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun. A sequel to the animated Tintin written by Doctor Who helmsman Steve Moffat. Not written by Moffat this time but driving force behind Midsomer Murder Anthony Horowitz (who might have done some other stuff also).

Bit boring then, but after directing, producing and writing six of the most successful films of all time I suppose a rest is in order.

What Scifind Would Like To See.

Well there are two things we would really LOVE to see Peter Jackson do in the next few years.

An Episode of Doctor Who.
Jackson has been a life long fan of The Doctor, he has gone on record a number of times saying he would do it for free (but those dalek props look like good compensation). I see no good reason for this not happening. If it has been announced already I have missed it!

Of course he has already dipped his toe in Doctor Who folklore and has appeared in the comedy short The Five Ish Doctors.

Revisit Bad Taste
A sequel to the original, with the original cast would be amazing. I am sure the Peter could throw a few quid at it but would love to see him go back to shoestring budget. Go on Peter. You know you want to. Draw out £100,000 of that Hobbit money and take a couple of years with your mates to make the sequel or sequels (trilogies are in don’t you know) that I would like to see. (and I would think a few other people would like to see it also.)

Failing that a close second would be a remake of Bad Taste, humour and gore in place.

Don’t know what Bad Taste is?

Bad Taste was Peter Jackson’s first film to gain recognition. A comedy, scifi, horror made by Jackson and some friends using a single camera virtually no budget and a lot of favours.

Synopsis: The population of a small town disappears and is replaced by aliens that chase human flesh for their intergalactic fast-food chain.

Watch It (as long as you are 18 or over)

 

Back to the present.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Click Image To Order
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. Click Image To Order

In “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”, Ian McKellen returns as Gandalf the Grey, with Martin Freeman in the central role of Bilbo Baggins, and Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield. The international ensemble cast is led by Evangeline Lilly, Luke Evans, Lee Pace, Benedict Cumberbatch, Billy Connolly, James Nesbitt, Ken Stott, Aidan Turner, Dean O’Gorman, Graham McTavish, Stephen Fry and Ryan Gage. The film also stars Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Christopher Lee, Hugo Weaving, Orlando Bloom, Mikael Persbrandt, Sylvester McCoy, Peter Hambleton, John Callen, Mark Hadlow, Jed Brophy, William Kircher, Stephen Hunter, Adam Brown, John Bell, Manu Bennett and John Tui.

3D AND BLU-RAY ELEMENTS

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 3D and Blu-ray contain the following special features:
• Recruiting the Five Armies
• Completing Middle-earth
• The Last Goodbye Music Video
• New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth, Part 3

BASICS
Standard Street Date: 20th April, 2015
Running Time: 144 minutes
Rating: 12A

The Other Doctors. 50th Anniversary and Beyond

Following on from The Other 11 Doctors, a fantastic alternate history to Doctor Who, Alasdair Stuart looks back at the alternative 50th Anniversary, and forward to the latest incarnation

The Day of the Doctor

The 11th Doctor’s run finished, in many ways, twice. The departure of Rupert Grint and Karen Gillan as Andy and Rowena Pond, the 11th’s longest serving companions was viewed as a clear ending by some fans. However, the show continued, with a traumatised, bitter 11th Doctor hiding in Victorian London and refusing to engage with the world.

It was the introduction of Ralf Little as Carl Oswald, a bartender and society school master, that shook 11 out of her slump. Carl was pragmatic, calm and utterly unimpressed by 11’s increasingly theatrical antics. He was also familiar, Little having cameoed as Carl Oswin Oswald earlier in the season in ‘Asylum of the Daleks’. But how were the characters connected? And why were Carl Oswald’s last words ‘Run, you clever girl. And remember’? The ongoing questions, combined with a memorable cameo from Emma Thompson, marked the episode as a soft reboot of sorts. It was the first of two that year.

As the build up to the 50th Anniversary gathered pace, the mystery surrounding Carl Oswald deepened. All was revealed in the season finale,  which also marked the return of Emma Thompson as The Great Intelligence. The Great Intelligence planned to destroy the Doctor throughout time, reversing every one of her victories and sending her to her death over and over again. Leaping into the Doctor’s timeline at her grave on Trenzalore, the Intelligence spread throughout time and began hunting the Doctor.
Carl Oswald followed her.

At every turn, in every time, an aspect of Carl Oswald appeared and helped the Doctor save the day. He pointed her at the correct TARDIS the day she left Gallifrey, encountered the 11th Doctor in the Dalek Asylum, again in Victorian London and again during the events of ‘The Bells of St John’. The Impossible Boy, echoing down the Doctor’s timestream, saving her again and again.

The Doctor and Carl were reunited in the centre of the Doctor’s mind, a cavern where her other selves flitted past on their way to their own lives. One remained still, one that Carl didn’t recognize. The 11th Doctor explained that this was a woman who had done something so awful, she had forfeited the right to be called the Doctor. She turned in place and Carl, and the audience, were introduced to Dame Helen Mirren as The War Doctor for the first time.

Introducing the War Doctor
Introducing the War Doctor
The Other Day Of The Doctor
The Other Day Of The Doctor

The Day of the Doctor’, the 50th Anniversary special that followed, is rightly regarded as one of the show’s finest hours. The addition of Mirren’s War Doctor, a grim, tormented figure somehow more grounded than her successors, gave the show an emotional anchor that led to some extraordinary scenes. Her interactions with Billie Piper as sentient weapon The Moment were electric, as were the multi-layered scenes between her, Perkins and Hart. The inherent tension between the two younger women and their older predecessor combined with the pop cultural clash of seeing a serious actress and two comediennes turning in career best work in each other’s fields to create something extraordinary. The War Doctor fit perfectly and both 10 and 11 were redefined by their interactions with her and each other.
But it was Keith’s cameo, as the ‘curator’, a figure fans have widely decided is a ‘retired’ Doctor from the end of her life that most fans hold dear. The brief scene between Keith and Hart is one of the show’s most poignant moments, simultaneously a celebration of the past and a passing of the torch to the future. Rounded out with a brief, eyebrow heavy cameo from the 12th Doctor, it brough the 50th anniversary into land in fine style.

The 12th Doctor Lindsay Duncan

The 12th Doctor Lindsay Duncan
The 12th Doctor Lindsay Duncan
12th Doctor-Lindsay Duncan Glimpsed briefly in The Day of the Doctor, Lindsay Duncan’s casting threw the show onto an entirely new tack. The decision to push older than Hart and Perkins was criticized by many fans and embraced by many more. The War Doctor had proved that an older Doctor wasn’t just workable but in some ways necessary, Mirren’s character giving a weight and darkness to the show that gave it a very different feel. Duncan’s casting was very much in line with that and her ‘Day of the Doctor’ cameo, all eyebrows and precise diction and fury, was applauded by audiences that saw it in cinemas.

Catapulted onto the screens, and out of the gullet of a T-Rex, Duncan has only just started in the role but is already making an impact. Duncan’s Doctor is a woman who is bitingly sarcastic and impatient but is also far more complex and nuanced than she presents herself. The Doctor’s closing speech in ‘Deep Breath’ about how the humans never seem small to her is clearly a statement of intent and the ambiguity as to whether she killed the Half-Face Man or not is clearly going to be central to her turn. Just as central is the fact that not only have we seen Duncan before, as Commander Adelaide Brooke in The Waters of Mars, but that the show is acknowledging that fact. The Doctor’s confusion about how her face is familiar to her again looks set to be a centrepiece of her first year.
Interestingly, Little’s Carl Oswald also looks set to benefit from the new arrival. The character was criticized, justifiably at times, in his initial season for being nothing more than a plot element with dialogue. That’s certainly no longer the case as Carl’s confrontations with Vastra, the Doctor and the Half Face Man all put him in a very different, far more interesting light. The wonderfully spiky, almost screwball interaction between them during the restaurant scene looks to have set the tone for a far more argumentative, and potentially more interesting, relationship than the one the character had with the 11th Doctor at times. If nothing else it’s certainly giving both Little and Duncan a chance to flex their comedy muscles.

As the 12th Doctor’s run begins, we look set for a very different kind of show but one that honours and builds on everything that’s gone before. As Madam Vastra says ‘Here we go again’. The Doctor is back.

Weekend Free To Air Scifi TV

Friday’s TV is basically Agents of Shield (C4) or Atlantis (bbc3)…. I’m suspecting that as far as science fiction is concerned, TV land has thrown in the towel on fridays. Although if you are staying up super late, you’ll find The Vampire Diaries on ITV2 at 1.25am.

Saturday goes a long way to make up for this. Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007) brings us Natalie Portman and Dustin Hoffman on CITV, but at 9.25am. We then get Star Wars (retitled Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. (1977)) on ITV1 at 3.15pm, with ITV2 showing The Borrowers (1997) at 5.40pm followed at 7.30pm by Dragonheart (1996) – in which the dragon is voiced by Sean Connery. The evenings scifi offering is Predators(2010) at 9pm on Channel 4 – inevitable, but OK sequel with Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Braga, Danny Trejo and Laurence Fishburne; marooned on the alien planet as prey in a big game hunt.

The Golden Compass (2007 – known to us as Philip Pullman’s book Northern Lights) is worth a look on Sunday – 4pm on Channel 4; later sees an offering from E4: 8pm, The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) a remake of the earlier 1951 classic; but the performances from Keanu Reeves and Kathy Bates do make it worth seeing.

But for sheer exuberance and fun, and a host of those famous and not so famous then or since (inc. former chief scout Peter Duncan, and the voice and the body that is Brian Blessed!) I’m going to suggest sofa, duvet and popcorn are utilised at 3.45pm where ITV4 are showing Flash Gordon (1980).

Break out the Queen!! Heres to the weekend

Man Of Steel / Superman Short Film

Man of Steel Henry Cavill as Superman

To celebrate the release of MAN OF STEEL available on BLU-RAY 3D™, BLU-RAY™ 3D STEELBOOK, BLU-RAY™, DVD and DIGITAL DOWNLOAD from 2nd December 2013, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is pleased to make available a two-minute animated short, created by Zack Snyder and DC animator Bruce Timm, to honour Superman’s 75th anniversary.

A young boy learns that he has extraordinary powers and is not of this Earth. As a young man, he journeys to discover where he came from and what he was sent here to do. But the hero in him must emerge if he is to save the world from annihilation and become the symbol of hope for all mankind.

BLU-RAY AND DVD ELEMENTS

The “Man of Steel” Blu-ray 3D™, Blu-ray 3D™ Steelbook and Blu-ray™ contain the following special features:

· Strong Characters, Legendary Roles – Explore the legendary characters of the Superman mythology and how they have evolved in this new iteration of the Superman story.
· All-Out-Action – Go inside the intense training regimen that sculpted Henry Cavill into the Man of Steel and Michael Shannon and Antje Traue into his Kyptonian nemeses. Includes interviews with cast and crew.
· Krypton Decoded – Dylan Sprayberry (Clark Kent, age 13) gives the lowdown on all the amazing Krypton tech, weapons and spaceships featured in “Man of Steel.”
· Exclusive to UltraViolet – Journey of Discovery: Creating “Man of Steel” – This immersive feature-length experience allows you to watch the movie with director Zack Snyder and stars Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Diane Lane and others as they share the incredible journey to re-imagine Superman.

“Man of Steel” DVD contains the following special features:

· Krypton Decoded

The Death Of You And Me-What We Know About The Returned So Far

The Returned

Tonight, the fifth episode of The Returned airs. The French series has established itself as one of the most profoundly unsettling pieces of TV in years, with an air of restrained menace and an ever growing sense of foreboding. However, as is always the case with series like this, there’s a nagging fear;

What if it all falls apart at the end? What if none of it makes sense?

And, hand in hand with that is the belief that if you miss the start of a show like this you can’t hop aboard. Trust me, you can, and this article will help you do just that. Here’s what we know so far;

 

The Returned are all people who have died in the town across the last thirty plus years. We’ve never seen one actually appear, just simply walk back into their lives. They haven’t aged from the moment when they died and have no memories beyond that point. Or if they do, at the moment, they’re not telling.

Their memories seem variable, possibly depending on the circumstances of their death. Camille can clearly remember the bus crashing, and, it seems, Victor causing it by standing in the middle of the road. On the other hand, Serge has no memory of the method of his death and Simon either doesn’t remember or isn’t prepared to admit he does. Victor remembers everything about his murder and relives it constantly in his dreams.

The Returned are all extremely hungry, and there’s a hint that this hunger is growing. Simon beat a man senseless for food when he first got back and the half-eaten animal corpse in the bin at her house suggests that Camille may have resorted to tracking and killing food in order to sustain herself. There’s also some evidence of them being unusually strong, evidenced by the shot with the butterfly in the opening episode and Simon’s tremendous talent for violence.

There’s some evidence this has happened before. Both Pierre and the local Priest have talked at length about there being precedent for these events but in both cases it’s ambiguous as to whether they’re talking about Jesus or someone else. In either case, the Priest especially is remarkably accepting of the idea that Adele both sees and talks to Simon. He initially seems to believe it’s Simon’s ghost, or Adele’s subconscious manifesting itself, but again there’s no evidence this is his actual thinking.

Camille and Lena, her twin sister, may have swapped places on the day of the crash. Shortly before it happened, Camille suffered a panic attack and seemed to experience her sister having sex with her boyfriend. Camille’s return has also been one of the most tense, constantly struggling with Lena for dominance within the family. Again, this is ambiguous but it could mean that Camille is actually Lena, and is bitterly resentful of her sister for ‘stealing’ her life in the four years she was away.

None of The Returned have come back happy or at peace. Camille is trying to fit back into a nest that isn’t there anymore, Victor is still tormented by his violent murder, Serge goes straight back to his own killing spree and Simon is both intent on stealing Adele back and still troubled by the idea of being a father. Like almost everything with the series there’s a lot of ambiguity here but it’s been implied, heavily, that Simon killed himself when he found out Adele was pregnant with his child.

The town itself is even more disturbed. The bus crash tore an entire generation apart (Although I notice we’ve only seen Camille Return so far from that group of dead) but the town was in trouble long before that. Serge’s horrifying knife/cannibalism attacks were never solved, just stopped, and the area is still traumatised by them. In a particularly nice touch, that doesn’t stop anyone going into the Pub that his brother Toni runs. It’s also been implied, heavily, that Toni killed Serge to stop the murders.

That’s not all the town’s hiding either. Thomas, the police chief and Adele’s new fiancé hid cameras in the house two years previously because he was worried she was going to hurt herself. It’s also implied that Lena’s father Jerome injured her whilst they were both at the Pub, and the keloid on Lena’s back is a result of neither of them seeking treatment for it. As yet, we’ve no idea whether this is true or what the exact circumstances of the fight were. Worst of all, Pierre, the spearhead of the bus crash memorial and a community leader in the town, is a (possibly) reformed criminal who was there when his partner murdered Victor and his entire family.

There’s a longstanding view in certain types of supernatural fiction that the barrier between this world and the next is a veil and that veil can be parted by the correct people or circumstances. The veil seems particularly thin in the village. As well as the hints this is not a new phenomenon in the area, there’s the power cuts that seem to herald the arrival of a batch of The Returned and Lucy, the psychic waitress who can occasionally talk to dead people. It’s unclear at the moment whether she’s alive or dead, and also whether her abilities were what drew Serge to her. This idea of the veil being thinner in the town may also explain how Adele’s daughter can draw Simon, and Simon’s suicide, with such apparent accuracy.

Then there’s the water. Something is going very badly wrong at both the reservoir, where the water level is falling, and the power station, where’s it’s rising. Pumping has begun at the power station and robotic submersibles are being used to check for cracks in the reservoir. What’s becoming apparent is no one has any idea why these events are happening. Also, the water supply in the town is behaving very oddly, with sinister noises heard in the pipes of the church and black water spewing from a tap elsewhere.

The Returned may not be the only things made physical. What seemed to be a second attack on Julie, the only woman to survive the first wave of attacks, by Serge was revealed to be Julie apparently attempting to stab herself. She was stopped by Victor. However, Victor occupied the exact same position in the scene as Julie’s hallucination of Serge. It was either an imagined attack, a manifestation of Julie’s own terror, Victor disguised somehow as Serge or Julie’s nightmarish memories of Serge made manifest by whatever is also bringing the Returned back. This may also explain how Julie’s neighbour killed herself in what seemed to be an exact copy of Serge’s knife attacks.

 

We’re four episodes in and there’s a long way to go, but, as you can see, the show has a good idea where it’s heading. It’s an amazing piece of TV, measured and calm and completely menacing and if you’ve not seen it before, do please give it a try. Between this article and any previous episodes you can see, you should have everything you need to spend time in the most disturbing village in modern TV. Just for God’s sake stay away from the underpass…

 

The Returned airs in the UK on Sundays at 9pm on Channel 4

 

Alasdair Stuart

 

The Alternate Start To The Cornetto Trilogy

Tremors By Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg
Tremors By Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg

As we write this, the finale of the Cornetto Trilogy is entering its final stages. The World’s End is the third (well, third and a half if you count ‘Paul’) movie in the unofficial trilogy of genre fiction/comedy/blisteringly funny, smart and frequently touching dissections of the male geek psyche trilogy that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg started with Shaun of the Dead. The first two movies, Shaun  and Hot Fuzz, are fiercely smart love letters to and parodies of zombie movies and cop movies respectively and The World’s End is…well…here’s the thing. We don’t know. There’ve been conflicting reports ranging from zombies and a musical number to Simon Pegg claiming the movie isn’t actually about the end of the world at all. What we do know is that, decades after they first attempted it at college, a group of friends try and complete an epic pub crawl as…something, begins to happen out in the world. We know Wright is directing, know Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are front and center and we know that this time they’re being joined by a supporting cast including Martin Freeman, Eddie Marsan, Paddy Considine and David Bailey, who I fervently hope, is making his peace with spending the next few years being asked if he’s going to be playing William Hartnell playing the 1st Doctor again soon. We also know it will involve a flavor of Cornetto ice cream, because, in each of the previous movies, the ice cream has appeared. All the signs point to The World’s End being a perfect capstone to two of the smartest, most interesting geek culture movies of the last twenty years.

But what if Shaun wasn’t the first movie? What if the trilogy had taken us down a different path. Like the man says, come with us now on a journey through time and space as we explain how, one universe, Edgar Wright’s first Cornetto movie was both very different and weirdly familiar…

Island of Lost Scripts

In 2002, riding high on the success of Spaced, Wright and Pegg went to LA to meet with the studios. They had a script ready, a self styled ‘zomromcom’ about a feckless young Englishman who finds himself forced to step up again and again as the cosy world he’s built himself is literally eaten away by the zombie apocalypse. The buzz on the script was huge, Spaced had closed out as a vast critical success and its cult status was achieved and the whole movie could be filmed, in London, for a modest budget.

There was just one problem; no studio would finance it shooting there. Pegg and Wright took meeting after meeting, all positive and all, in the end, boiling down to one request;

‘Can you set it in LA?’

The pressure on the two was almost indescrible; they were, at this stage, two UK comedy writers without a tremendous amount of work behind them and they’d been handed the brass ring; a shot at Hollywood. To turn this down would spell career suicide but to compromise the script’s inherent Britishness could mean the exact same thing. In interview years later, Wright admitted they’d kicked around rewriting it for a female lead and calling it Dawn of the Dead, but it had never gone anywhere and, for a while, it seemed Wright and Pegg would do the same.

Until they came up with an idea; they were untried, untested as big screen scriptwriters.

So why not take the initial script out of their hands altogether? The plan they presented was simple; give us carte blanche access to everything you have in devel0pment hell, we’ll pick a script, pitch it and if you like it, then that’s what we’ll push ahead on. Then, if it’s successful, Shaun would be next on the list.

Universal agreed, and Wright and Pegg picked an undeveloped script from 1987 by SHORT CIRCUIT writers S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock entitled “Tremors”.

The RomMonCom was born. (Romantic Comedy, with Monsters)

 

The Script

Tremors is set in the Desert town of Perfection Valley and follows the misfortunes of two British ex pats with one time big ideas trying to make their way in the world.

Valentine (Val) McKee (Simon Pegg) came to the US on a gap year and never went back. His work as a handy man in Perfection Valley means he knows, and is liked by, very nearly everyone but also means he has no reason to move on.  The fact he lives, and works, with best mate Earl Bassett, also an ex pat and handyman but more the ‘logistical side of things’ (And Perfection’s one and only drug dealer) doesn’t help either. The pair live on the outskirts of town, have all the beer, money and food they know what to do with and can drink for free at Chang’s as long as they unblock the toilets regularly. Life is good.

Life is also complicated. Val has been dating Rhonda, a geologist surveying the valley for the last six months. Now, she’s a few weeks off finishing and heading back to Berkeley. She’s asked Val to come with her. He hasn’t said yes yet. Things are getting awkward. They’re not helped by the fact Earl, whilst utterly charming, is also a foul-mouthed loser:

Earl:  Can I get… any of you cunts… a drink?

Matters come to a head when, on Rhonda’s last night in town, Val suggests they eat at Chang’s. With Earl. Again. Rhonda leaves him and a grief-stricken Val is taken out into the desert by Earl to play house music, blow stuff up and get drunker. The two men pass out on a rock and the camera tracks up as we see vast wakes in the sand, as though something huge was moving beneath the surface, pass the rock on each side and head to town. Unknown to the hapless duo the desert is crawling with giant underground monsters called Graboids. And they’ve found the town…

Walking to Walter Chang’s the next morning to buy a Cornetto, Val finds out from Walter about the disappearance of the doctor building his house on the other side of the valley. Curious, but hung over, he’s stumbles home. He’s barely through the door when there’s a scream, high pitched and squeaky, which is revealed to be Earl. He’s hiding by the back porch, watching their tool shed. The shed subsided in the night as a Graboid passed beneath it and now the creature, screaming in pain, is trying to tear itself free. The fact it takes a while for them to realize this leads to one of the best exchanges in the movie:

Val: Is it still out there?
[Earl checks, revealing a graboid appearing at the window]
Earl: Yeah. What you think we should do?
Val: Have a sit down?

Finally realizing they have to do something they start pelting the beast with cans of beer.

Val: Don’t throw that, its imported

The Graboid breaks free and the pair kill it using various power tools (Wright would later say in interview this scene is crammed full of references to classic ’80s video nasties. Fans also note the S-MART ‘Employee of the Month’ shirt Earl is wearing for much of the movie.) However, walking back along its trail they notice other creatures heading for town. The only reason they were able to kill the one beneath the shed was because it was trapped. Perfection is in a lot of trouble. They need a plan. They get:

Earl: Chang’s?

Val: CHANG’S.

What follows proved to be another fan favorite sequence, starting with Val saving the town pogo record holder (Played by young Ariana Richards) from a Graboid, taking in Val and Rhonda’s (sort of) reconciliation, the revelation that the bookish, polite Rhonda can out swear Earl and Val, Rhonda, Earl, Chang and the other townsfolk killing a Graboid with pickaxes to the tune of  the Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now” on the Jukebox in Chang’s  before they retreated to the roof.

The movie takes a dark turn as, despite Val heroically leading one Graboid away on foot, several townsfolk, including Chang, are killed and Val, coming to his senses and realizing they need to leave, retrieves the radio from Chang’s and calls local survivalist Burt Gummer. With his ultra heavy-duty tractor, and the trailer that Val and Earl were going to turn into a swimming pool hitched up, Burt comes and gets the survivors and leads them out to his compound, showing them his gun vault, which Earl responds to with the now classic line:

EARL: By the power of Grayskull…

They recuperate and Burt assures them the Graboids can’t get in right before one smashes the wall of his gun vault because Earl couldn’t be bothered to close the gate behind them. Everyone bar Burt, his wife, Val, Rhonda and Earl are killed and Val finally loses it at his oldest friend, screaming at him about how unreliable he is.

The survivors realize they need to get out of the valley to get help. The only way to do this is by riding the tractor out across eight klicks of pure sand, but, as Rhonda notes that on the way they’ll pass the geological survey station she was working at and can use the charges she has left to defend themselves. The survivors gear up, in a scene which riffs on the arming up scene in Predator (And would later itself be riffed on in Slither), and they head out.

The Graboids attack almost instantly and just as they reach Rhonda’s, the Graboids tear a wheel off the trailer, trapping them.  Seeing them on the verge of being over-run, Earl leaps from the trailer and runs off, the vibrations of his footsteps drawing the Graboids away. Val and Rhonda get the charges but the largest Graboid they’ve yet seen tears through the shed and a lit charge is dropped into the box of unlit ones. Val grabs a handful, as Rhonda punches the Graboid’s mouth tentacles out of the way and they run out of the shed just as it blows up. Trapped on a rocky outcrop, with a cliff to one side, another Graboid swarming the trailer and Earl presumed dead, all seems lost. In a surprisingly dark twist, they reconcile and talk about asking Burt to kill them at range, leading to Val’s memorable line;

VAL: I don’t think I have it in me to lose my job, my house, my best friend and ask the local gun nut to kill my girlfriend and I in the same day.

RHONDA: Who says I’m your girlfriend?

Val’s had enough. He kisses her, grabs the charges and sprints out towards the cliff, yelling and screaming. The others watch, horror struck as the Graboids all turn and head straight for Val. Standing at the very edge of the cliff, he lights and throws all the carges behind the Graboids, the sound and vibration enraging them and driving them even faster towards him. Val, clearly terrified, holds his ground and at the last possible second leaps aside as the Graboids smash through the cliff beneath him and…sail into thin air and crash to the ground hundreds of feet below, dying instantly.

With Val about to join them, dangling over the cliff edge. Rhonda runs to save him and hauls him back onto solid ground, just as a Graboid scream echoes nearby. The survivors, bloody and tattered, turn to face the new attack and find…

Earl…with a pet Graboid.

EARL (LOOKING AT EVERYONE’S AMAZEMENT): ….What?

Embracing his friend, Val asks how he’s alive and Earl explains he threw everything out of his pockets as he ran off, including his stash. Which the Graboid ate. And which appears to have calmed it down. The screen fades out on him talking to Burt about tourists coming to Perfection, and Val and Rhonda kissing.

It fades up on ad for a brand new Perfection Game Reserve, with Burt as the Head Warden. We see footage of the military coming into town and securing the Graboids, find out Burt refused to let the carcasses off his land until he was given an extensive grant and how Rhonda now divides her time between University of Texas, where she lectures about Graboids, and town, where she helps run the reserve along with Earl and Charlie the Graboid, still permanently high. Val for his part? Is married to Rhonda and taking classes at U of T. He’s training to become a zoologist but in the meantime, he’s still fixing toilets. Just to keep his hand in…

 

Reception and Sequels

The movie opened modestly, was critically acclaimed in the genre press for the unusual step of being a monster movie set almost entirely during the day and continues to enjoy a long life on DVD and On Demand services. No less than three sequels and a short-lived TV show were produced, none of which involved Wright, Pegg and Frost in any way. This wasn’t out of any sense of falling out, after all the studio were extremely pleased with the results, but rather a sense of them having ‘graduated’. Interestingly though, the franchise would remain a regular stopping off point for English screen writers cutting their teeth in Hollywood, with both Harold Overman and Toby Whithouse writing sequels. Also, the Spaced connection remained a close one, with Jessica Hyne starring as a colleague of Rhonda’s in the sequel and Michael Smiley appearing as both the new head of the Game Reserve in Tremors III and the TV show and his own, great grandfather in the hugely entertaining Steampunk prequel, Tremors IV. That movie was directed by Greg Mottola, who would go on to work with Pegg and Frost on Paul.

Spaced fans, still smarting from the confirmation of there being no third series, were split. Many were extremely fond of the movie but many others decried it as the three having sold out. Two of the most vocal criticisms were that they should have made the film in the UK and that Burt Gummer, Michael Gross’ character, was just a beefed up version of Mike, Frost’s character on Spaced. Wright answered the first criticism both with Shaun of the Dead, which he directed to huge acclaim immediately after Tremors, and answered the second when the DVD of the movie was released. A deleted scene sees Burt asks Val and Earl whether they know his nephew Mike, who lives in the UK. Earl opens his mouth to speak and Val cuts him off.  It also caught some criticism over the perceived homosexual nature of Val and Earl’s relationship:

 

Val: [about Earl] He’s not my boyfriend!
Earl: [handing beer to Val] It might be a bit warm, the cooler’s off.
Val: Thanks, babe. [winks]

 

This was also answered by Wright turning the right wing criticisms of the movie into a marketing tool, arranging for a two day film festival at the Alamo Drafthouse, alternating movies dealing with homosexuality and buddy action movies. The festival is still running today, and Wright is viewed as a friend of both the cinema and the city.

 

Next Steps

-Wright parlayed his success into not only Shaun of the Dead but a permanent ‘talent exchange’ arrangement with the US.  This led to him essentially splitting his career between the US and the UK, culminating in the confirmation of his Ant-Man movie at ComicCon in 2012. Rumours persist that Wright is front runner to take over control of the Marvel Movie universe when Joss Whedon steps away but those have yet to be confirmed. The possibility of him directing an episode of Doctor Who however, refuses to go away and Wright seems likely to go behind the camera there for Season 8 in 2014.

– Pegg, despite the doubts of some elements of British fandom, became a movie star in his own right in the US, appearing in the Mission:Impossible and Star Trek reboot series. He also narrowly missed out on a stint on Doctor Who, and, at time of writing, is one of the last few actors in contention for the lead role in Doctor Strange.

-Frost also made it big in the wake of Tremors, not only through working with Wright and Pegg but as a regular fixture on US TV. His laconic, deadpan approach on screen and his fierce love of cooking off made him a personality in his own right leading to him being invited to appear on shows as diverse as Man Vs Food, Dancing With The Stars and The Daily Show.

-The Cornetto trilogy became, in the end, two. The UK trilogy consisting of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End concludes this year but the US version has remained frustratingly incomplete with only Tremors (Red), and Paul (Green) completed and controversy surrounding Paul’s status as a Cornetto movie given the fact it was directed by Mottola. However, in the last few months it’s been confirmed that Wright has chosen another script from the vaults;

an abandoned 1980s action comedy called Police Academy.

It seems that the American blue Cornetto is finally on the way. Even better, Wright and Pegg have confirmed this is the long-rumored crossover movie. Sergeant Nicholas Angel is going to America. And he’s bringing his ice cream with him.