Director: Julius Onah
Writers: Oren Uziel
Starring: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, David Oyelowo, Daniel Bruhl, John Ortiz, et. al.
Released: Feb 2018 (Netflix)
Review by: Duncan Bradshaw
There’s one thing you can say with certainty about the (current) trilogy of Cloverfield films; they aren’t trying to copy each other. So far, we’ve had found footage and monsters in Cloverfield, with human ‘monsters’ and the claustrophobia of 10 Cloverfield Lane. I’m not going into my thoughts in those films, because people have beaten me to them already! Read the last couple of days reviews right here and here if you missed them. I will say this though, I enjoyed both of them. Continue Reading…if you dare!
October 8, 2019 | Categories: Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: blogging, cosmic horror, Duncan Bradshaw, Duncan P. Bradshaw, film, Fright Fest, fright fest 2019, guest contributor, Horror, horror movies, movie reviews, Octoberween, Reviews | Leave a comment
In 2005, my interest in the undead had officially been reclassified as ‘Mildly Addicted’, due in no small part to the Romero trinity of Night, Dawn and Day. By now I had branched out, and was working my way through any zombie film I could get my distended claws into. Then the news broke that Romero was making a new zombie film, Land of the Dead. To say I was a little excited would be an understatement. I remember watching it at the time and whilst I enjoyed it, it was not a patch on the originals, or most of the films I had been watching during that period.
So, looking at it objectively now and giving it another (overdue) viewing, has my opinion changed? Well…get comfortable, and I’ll begin. Continue Reading
October 28, 2017 | Categories: Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: 2005, apocalyptic fiction, cult film, Duncan P. Bradshaw, fiction, film, Fright Fest, Fright Fest 2017, George A. Romero, guest contributor, Horror, horror movie reviews, Land of the Dead, movie reviews, Reviews, undead, zombies, zompoc | 1 Comment
I’ve often written or talked about the first ever zombie film I saw, the eponymous Dawn of the Dead, by the legend that was, George A. Romero. The second was Return of the Living Dead II, the line, “His brains, they smell so spicy,” still sticks firmly in my head. The third, though unknown to me at the time, would probably have as big an impact as the first. It was Night of the Comet.
The film is basically a 50s/60s B-Movie, made in the eighties. It has a cheesy voice-over at the beginning which would not be out of place in Invasion of the Bodysnatchers or War of the Worlds. The setup is remarkably similar to Day of the Triffids. A once in a lifetime meteor shower promises an amazing light display, so the entire world and their dog hold street parties to have a few beers and take in the sights. Unfortunately, thanks to the heavy handed introduction, we learn that this very comet also made an appearance just as the dinosaurs disappeared. Continue Reading
October 11, 2017 | Categories: Horror, Movies, Reviews | Tags: 1980s horror movies, 1984, amwriting, apocalyptic fiction, Duncan P. Bradshaw, fiction, film, Fright Fest, Fright Fest 2017, guest contributor, Horror, horror movie reviews, horror movies, movie reviews, Movies, Night of the Comet, zombies, zompoc | Leave a comment
Some films you watch because you want to, they’re your usual type of fare. Be it horror, action or zombie films, we all have a certain type of film that irrespective of what we’ve heard from other people, we’ll watch. Then there are the ones that you get from recommendations, they’re not that frequent, and usually go one of two ways. You either love them, or hate them, and cut the aforementioned person from your life. Cos, let’s face it, no one needs that kind of person in their lives.
Then…and there is a point to my rambling, honest, there are the films that offer you a glimpse of something a little different. This is where HOUSE, or HAUSU steps through the doorway, and waves at you, whilst brandishing a bloodied cartoon knife.
I was first alerted to its existence whilst looking through a list of bizarro horror films. From the two paragraph synopsis, I knew that I had to see it. For the avoidance of doubt, this is the Japanese film, called HOUSE, not the 1986 American version. If you’re expecting something on that, well…yeah, you’re in for a number of WTF moments.
See, there is another type of film you watch, and these are the rarest of all, they’re the ones where they are an ‘experience’. Horror films, in the main, don’t really appeal to me. I find that they tend to be filled with tropes, and just aren’t really my bag. But you watch zombie films I hear you cry!
Yes, yes I do, but see rule number 1. They are my bag, I love them, and I don’t care that you have to watch three or four to see something even remotely different, because of well…zombies.
HAUSU though, well, nothing can quite prepare you for the spectacle you’re about to witness. Reading about it, the film itself was greenlit by Toho studios for TWO YEARS, before it was made. A whole assortment of directors severed it, mainly because they thought it would be their death knoll. This is in part due to the fact that a lot of the film came about as a result of the writer’s daughter.
And to be honest, it shows.
Let’s get the bad out of the way now, lest it cling to the hull of our already heavily barnacled rowboat, and capsize us. The acting is so wooden, it makes enough to form a whole fleet of rowboats. The plot, if you can call it that, is utter BS. The animation, terrible, effects in general, utter shonky, yet none of that matters one jot.
HAUSU is one helluva odd film to watch, one that you need to switch off that little piece of your brain, which tries to ground what you’re seeing into any semblance of ‘normal’.
So what the hell is it about? A bunch of school girls prepare for a summer way, except one, Angel, who is looking forward to some time away with her father, who has been working in Italy on film scores. He returns, with joyous news! They will be going with his new squeeze, Ryoko, who has a permanently waving scarf, and a penchant for stiff handshakes. Well, this does not please Angel, who scurries off to her room and reminisces about her dead mum. In the process, is reminded of her auntie, who, as luck would have it, lives in a big house all by herself.
Casually inviting herself and her mates for the summer, she waits eagerly by the post-box, with a white fluffy cat, that turns up out of nowhere. Her aunt replies and says she would love to see them all. So off they go…
What follows is the girls disappearing one at a time. Conveniently, they are all called things like Prof (wears glasses), Mac (eats a lot), Fantasy ( a bit of a daydreamer) and Kung Fu, which I bet you’ll never work out what she does.
The way they go missing is just so comical, that you’re not sure if it actually happened. Obviously, with it being nigh on forty years old, it looks dated, but the director intentionally made the effects bad. I mean, that’s taking pride in your work to a whole new level. I don’t even know that I would still have a job if I applied that logic to my own vocation:
WORK: “So…Duncan, we called you into this meeting today, as we asked you to do this urgent database update.
ME: “Uh-huh, yep, you sure did.”
WORK: “One which was necessary to stop us losing our entire book of business.”
ME: “Oh yes, I felt really humbled that you asked me to do that, pretty big honour, I have to admit.”
WORK: “So, why did you debone a swordfish and play a medley of Ska songs on its skeleton?”
ME: “Well, thing is, I wanted it to be so bad, that instead of me keeping the business afloat, I wanted it to be really silly.”
WORK: “But you-”
ME: “Like, really silly. I think I managed it, don’t you?”
It just wouldn’t work, would it?
Or would it…I’ll save that for another day.
Anyway, it is an unusual approach, and in any other film, it would have made it ridiculous. But HAUSU, is already light years ahead of you, presiding in the Ridiculous nebula, part of the Ridiculous galaxy. How might you ask? Well, you have a man fall down stairs, slide around on the floor, stop-motion style, before having a bucket stuck on his arse. This serves as his reason as to why he can’t drive the girls to the house.
How the hell can you try and make that shit legitimate?
You just can’t, so the only thing you can do, embrace it, know what you’re doing is so utterly mental, that all you can do, is push the envelope some more until it ruddy well works.
THAT is the beauty of this film. So many scenes are just filled with my internal monologue going, “What the actual fuck is going on?” I’m not gonna list them, as you really do need to spend some time and watch it for yourself, even if it’s just the once.
As for horror, the effects kybosh any real chance of building up suspense or dread, and the sharp left turns, which make little sense, also remove any shock value. Again, though, it doesn’t matter. If you come into this film expecting a tight narrative, kickass effects and gasping shocks and turns, you chose poorly.
So why the hell should you watch it? I get ya, your time is precious, you have a million and one other things you could be doing. There are pigs to scrub down, flame wars to ignite on social media, Machiavellian plans to hatch. I will ask you but one question…do you want to watch something which is genuinely different than 95% of the other films you will watch during your life? If you do, then give it a crack. Revel in its awfulness, laugh at the effects, but most of all, just enjoy a film that will live long in your head.
HAUSU is like that one person you know, who you see only fleetingly, but for the brief time you do, you see how wonderful true strangeness can be.
Living in a hollowed out pumpkin, Duncan P. Bradshaw finds October the most troublesome of months, as people become intent on sticking flaming candles into the midst of his happy abode. In fact, the only good thing to come about from it is the copious amount of candy that he steals from passers-by. When they have all sodded right off, he retires to the tip of the stalk, which affords him excellent views of the neighbourhood. As the rest of the street slumbers, he writes down the weird and wonderful thoughts that have built up during the day, like the plaque. Find out what he writes down, by checking out his website http://duncanpbradshaw.co.uk/ or follow him on Facebook, where he does all manner of things https://www.facebook.com/duncanpbradshaw/
And as always, if you enjoyed what you’ve read here on Machine Mean, please subscribe to our author mailing list by clicking on the FREE BOOK image below to not only receive updates on sales and new releases, but also a free anthology of dark fiction.
October 11, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: 1977, Ai Matsubara, Ôbayashi, Duncan P. Bradshaw, film, Foreign Films, Foreign Horror, Fright Fest, fright fest 2016, Guest author, Halloween, Halloween Movie Marathon, HAUSU, Horror, horror reviews, House, House 1977, Japanese horror film, Kimiko Ikegami, movie reviews, Nobuhiko Obayashi, Reviews, Sinister Horror Company | Leave a comment
Many of you may have heard his name whispered in certain circles. Down dark alleyways. Flickering pubs. The smoke stacks of places sunlight dare not tread. Rumors written on bathroom stales right next to an elaborate image of Lobstercock and bible verses and call-for-a-good-time and that strange looking oval shaped hole cut out in the wood. You dare not recant his name three times whilst standing in front of a mirror, for fear he may just show up, hidden if not for the odor of fresh tobacco and the wool of a fashionable newsboy hat. But the worst is when he laughs. A chuckle belonging to the creatures only children believe in, whistling sunny songs before being dragged down between the sewer drain. Shuffling into your house late at night, his shadow is cast by the yellow porch light, and in his hands he offers you a sampling of tea and biscuits. You may have heard the name before, the name of Duncan P. Bradshaw. If you have, then you’re one step already in the door, if not, well…you’re in for a treat. Newcomers and everyone in-between, I invite you to sit back, for you are about to behold something truly wicked, a one-on-one interview with the real urban myth.
Machine Mean: Let’s get some basic introductions out of the way, shall we? Can you tell us a little bit about yourselves? What got you into writing? What brought you into the genre of horror?
Duncan P. Bradshaw: Why hello there! Tis I, Duncan P. Bradshaw, from the land of tea and crumpets. I reside in the majestic county of Wiltshire, in Southern England, with my amazing wife Debbie, and our two cats, Rafa and Pepe. I started writing a few years back now, finally managing to get my love of zombies down into words. I think if it wasn’t for my penchant for the undead, I doubt I would’ve been drawn to the horror world.
MM: What’s your favorite book and why?
DPB: It has to be World War Z by Max Brooks. I just love the style of how it’s done, instead of taking a normal narrative, it’s this after-action series of interviews. Just love how this big huge earth changing event has been and gone, and now you have people trying to go out and record what happened, by speaking to those who survived through it. I rarely read the same book twice these days, as my TBR pile is in danger of taking out a satellite or two, but WWZ gets re-read every few years.
MM: Here’s a hard one… What is your favorite zombie movie? Should zombies be fast or Romero-esk slow?
DPB: Hands down, without a doubt, the original Dawn of the Dead. Yes, if you watch it now, it is a little dated, the zombies are a touch too much blue, especially the Blu-Ray version, but that is all part of the charm. It’s just become the archetypal zombie film, you have video games based on the setting, an entire sub-genre is undead and kicking thanks to it. Really does showcase the human condition extremely well. How they take the mall back, and slip into that kind of nonchalant aloofness, that is only challenged when they are under attack by the biker gang.
Personal choice here, I prefer the Romero shambling dead, to me, they pose a more terrifying threat than the ones from the remake. It’s that slowly moving wall of dead, which just loom down on you, building up dread. Over-confidence is the worst thing, as you assume they are easy to evade, but then BOOM, you round a corner and one is nibbling on your jugular, they’re my favourite ‘monster’.
MM: Duncan, you seem to have a wide arsenal of genres and sub-genres within the horror/dark fiction umbrella that you write in, from horror-comedy to science-fiction, to mystery, and even a bit of extreme. Is there one particular sub-genre you prefer to write?
DPB: I like to try different things out, mainly just from the weird and wonderful thoughts that I have going on. My aim is to get to the end of 2017, have a look back at what I’ve done, and try and focus down onto what I enjoyed doing, and try to specialise a little more. I’d say, here and now, the book I loved writing the most, was Class Three. It is equal parts horror and comedy, and I think it’s safe to assume that I’ll be trying to go down the comedy route in time. Whether that also includes horror, maybe? I think there will be elements in there, I like a bit of blood and guts, but I doubt it’ll be chilling psychological drama that I’ll be releasing.
MM: You are keeping busy, by my count you’ve had Celebrity Culture, Prime Directive, Easter Eggs and Bunny Boilers: A Horror Anthology, The Black Room Manuscripts Vol. 2, and now you’re releasing your newest book, Hexagram. Do you have a writing method that you like to keep to? A schedule of sorts? Do you have a special place you like to do your writing?
DPB: Cheers man, had quite a productive end to 2015, which meant that I had a number of titles ready to go at the beginning of this year. Definitely more luck than design I’d say. I don’t have a method at all, most of my books start from a line of dialogue or one event, I’ll have a few days to think about it in general, then just start writing and see where it takes me. Like most writers, I try to get something down every day, but that’s not always possible with a full-time job and other commitments. Still, I miss it when I don’t do it.
I’m lucky that I have a room upstairs which is now converted into my office, which has all my junk in it. Got a desk there which I work from, with a speaker dock for my tunes. Though if I’m editing or doing a short story, I’m more than likely just to sit downstairs on the sofa, with some random sport on in the background.
MM: According to the all-knowing and all-powerful Amazon, you’re last publication was Prime Directive, which is a science-fiction story, something a little out of what you’ve normally published in the past, correct? Can you tell us a little bit about Prime Directive and what compelled you dabble in this sub-genre? Are there any future (no pun intended) works in store for us in the Bradshaw science-fiction realm?
DPB: Yeah, I think Prime Directive was a bit of a head scratcher for some people. It came about when I was writing the first draft of a novel called Deadlock. I had these five words of dialogue repeating in my head, over and over again. Then that little spark fused with a number of other ideas I’d had in the ol’ brain, and BOOM, I had a story. Deadlock was getting to a bogged down part, so I took a few weeks off, and wrote Prime Directive.
I’ve always loved space exploration, find it enthralling and terrifying in equal measure. There’s just so much that we have no idea about, it’s inevitable that there are things out there which are even worse, morally speaking, than us humans. It provides such a wealth of opportunity. So, using an old story idea about the first set of Mars explorers, I was able to get it done. I’ve got no immediate plans for another one, but you never know…
MM: You are one of three of the founding members of Sinister Horror Company, alongside that vile cat-loving Daniel Marc Chant and the locks-people-in-basements Justin Park. What’s it like working with your partners and with Sinister Horror? How do you like working with other horror authors? Do you guys have any big plans down the road?
DPB: Honestly? It can be tricky, you’ve got three people, who have very different ideas on how they do things, and how best to approach growing the small press. It does cause friction, anyone who says otherwise is lying. But…at the end of the day we are all friends, and we find a way to make it work. It’s like a relationship, in that you have to work at it, and whereas before, when we just used to hang out, drink, play video games etc, now we are all responsible for this fledgling company.
I personally have not had much of a working relationship with the other people that have been published to date, or in the pipeline, as they are being dealt with by Justin or Dan. The one obvious exception is Kit Power, when we put GodBomb! out. As soon as I read that premise, I wanted us to be the ones to publish it, and am so glad I managed to speak to Kit and get it sorted.
We’ve got a really packed end of the year coming up, there will be new releases out every few weeks, but I’m quite lucky in one sense, as none of them are mine or I’m connected to. Sounds selfish, but I’ve been non-stop up until now, and I’m looking forward to watching Dan and Justin get some of their work out there. My plan is to try and clear a number of projects I’ve got on the go.
MM: Okay…let’s talk a little bit about your new book coming out, Hexagram. The cover looks wicked. Can you tell us a little bit about the story? What sub-genre in horror would you label it?
DPB: Cheers fella, appreciate it. The idea for HEXAGRAM, came about from the adage, ‘We are all made of stars’. I wondered what would happen if stardust could be extracted from people, could it be used in some way to create something? From there, I started to write what I thought would be a novella. Typically, as soon as I started it, I thought about the origins of the ritual, and settled on the Inca. Then…my stupid brain suggested that I start with the Inca, and work a set of stories through history, to the modern day, and the story I had started on.
After a bit of going through a number of historical events, I managed to find a path through which I could do it. It became six stories, based on stardust. BOOM, a six pointed star, each point one step closer to the completion of the ritual, starting five hundred years before the climax. For each story, including the Inca tale, I used an actual event as either the foundation, or inspiration. So we have a survivor from the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet, a Confederate soldier at the Battle of Kolbs Farm, a detective with information on one of history’s most notorious serial killers, and the Jonestown Massacre.
In many ways, it is almost a collection, rather than a novel. For people who don’t like reading novels, as they’re ‘too long’, this is essentially five short stories and a novella at the end. As for which sub-genre, I don’t think it really has one. Some of the stories, I’d argue, aren’t particularly horrific. I don’t like aiming to fit my books into pigeonholes, I think it’s just a slightly weird concept, with horror elements. Best thing really, is to go and pick it up yourself. (SHAMELESS PLUG TIME).
MM: In the description, it looks like the book deals with some Inca rituals and shipwrecks, and suicide cults. What kind of research did you have to do with Hexagram?
DPB: When I was working out the chronology, I discarded a number of possible historical events, as I wanted ones which gave me the room to do my own thing in. So, when I did the story based on the Treasure Fleet, I used one of the ships that was never found. Likewise with the American Civil War story, I settled on a relatively small engagement, but which had some cool features in. I checked out some maps on the layout of the town, and in particular, the church.
One thing I get asked about, is the penultimate story, which is based on the Jonestown Massacre. They asked why I didn’t just use the event itself, why make up something? I just felt that using something so recent, which has been pored over by a multitude of journalists, would not enable me to do my own thing. I want people to enjoy the story, not picking holes in it, saying that so and so didn’t do this, or nitpicking the details. This is a work of fiction, so even the other stories use the events as a background, not a slide rule.
MM: The book cover for Hexagram looks freaking sweet. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Who designed it? Did you both get any say in the creative process?
DPB: I love the cover to HEXAGRAM, it’s done by a chap called Mike McGee, who runs Big Foot Studios with his mate, up in Liverpool. I found him when I was after the CLASS THREE cover, and wanted to use him again for the right project. When I finally settled on the book name, I had the idea of having each main character as a point of the star, with a little picture of something within their story. As it’s borne from the Inca, I wanted that golden coin in the middle.
I’m quite a particular person, and covers are no exception. I fully understand that when I write a brief for an artist, that what I will get back will not match it exactly, but it must incorporate a number of the key elements. When I got the black and white drawing back from Mike, I was blown away, he could not have gotten it more perfect. Once I had it, I then made the galaxy background, and it was all done.
MM: Before we go, can you drop a little hint on future projects you may have cooking?
DPB: I’m working on a horror novel called DEADLOCK, about a retired jewel thief lured out of retirement for one more job. He ends up in Hell, and has to go through a number of trials to try and get what was promised to him. There is a comedy horror book called SUMMONED, about an apocalyptic monster that gets accidentally summoned. This is a multiple narrative book, with a mini comic, and a choose your own adventure, hoping this will be ready early next year.
I also have to finish up the CLASS FOUR trilogy, book two, VERSUS, is next on my list, so looking forward to getting that all done. Typically though, I already have two more books bubbling in my head, one is called AFTERTHOUGHT, and the other unnamed one, is a comedy horror post-apocalyptic book, set during the Brit-Pop years.
This concludes our interview with Duncan P. Bradshaw. We here at Machine Mean wish Duncan the best during his launch of Hexagram, now available on Amazon in both eBook and paperback editions for the mere price of $2.99 and $12.48 respectively.
Duncan P. Bradshaw lives in the county of Wiltshire, nestled around the belly button of southern England, with his wife Debbie, and their two cats, Rafa and Pepe. During the day, he is a mild mannered office goon, doing things which would bore you, if he was forced to tell you. At night, he becomes one with a keyboard, and transforms his weird and wonderful thoughts into words, which people, like you, and me, can read. Why not pop over to his website, http://duncanpbradshaw.co.uk/ or give him a like over on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/duncanpbradshaw or read his ravings on his blog, http://duncanpbradshaw.blogspot.co.uk/
Follow along the tour with these hashtags: #Hexagram #IncanRituals #HookofaBook
- File Size:3282 KB
- Print Length:232 pages
- Publisher:EyeCue Productions (July 25, 2016)
- Publication Date:July 25, 2016
Their lands plagued by invaders, the Inca resort to an ancient ritual. By harvesting star dust from people, they hope to accumulate enough to raise the sun god, Inti, and reclaim their lands.
Yet when the collection is interrupted, it sets in motion events which will rattle human history.
Six stories. Six different time periods. One outcome.
We are all made of stars.
When an ancient Inca ritual is interrupted, it sets in motion a series of events that will echo through five hundred years of human history. Many seek to use the arcane knowledge for their own ends, from a survivor of a shipwreck, through to a suicide cult.
Yet…the most unlikeliest of them all will succeed.
Praise for Hexagram
“Hexagram is a visceral journey through the dark nooks and crannies of human history. Lovecraftian terror merges with blood sacrifices, suicide cults and body horror as Bradshaw weaves an intricate plot into an epic tale of apocalyptic dread.” – Rich Hawkins, author of The Last Plague trilogy
“A rip-roaring boy’s own adventure yarn. This novel contains multitudes, and the sheer scale and breadth of the story is exhilarating. A glorious, unhinged thrill ride.” – Kit Power, author of GodBomb!
Praise for Bradshaw’s Writing
“Duncan Bradshaw has a fantastic writing style. He gets you engrossed in the characters from the very outset. His mix of comedy and horror and real life are superb.” – Confessions of a Reviewer
“The true genius of Duncan P. Bradshaw is the rollercoaster ride of words and expressions. I have never seen an author go from the depths of dark and gore to laugh out loud all within the same paragraph.” – 2 Book Lovers Reviews
“Remember, you’ve now willingly plunged yourself into the mind of Duncan Bradshaw. You’re completely at the mercy of his strange imagination and all the eccentric oddities that his curious mind can conjure up.” – DLS Reviews
“Bradshaw is able to weight the horror set pieces with a dry humour and plenty of laugh out loud moments.” – UK Horror Scene
“One of the first things that I did after reading The Black Room Manuscripts, was to go out and buy Class Three by Duncan Bradshaw. I just found his writing in Time for Tea to have this gleeful kind of undertow to the carnage he wrought on his tea drinkers and wanted to see what his writing was like in a longer format.” – Ginger Nuts of Horror
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August 4, 2016 | Categories: Horror, Reviews | Tags: 1978, author events, author interview, book reviews, book tours, Dawn of the Dead, Duncan P. Bradshaw, Hexagram, HookofaBook, Horror, IncanRituals, new releases, Sinister Horror Company, writing, zombies | Leave a comment
OUT OF THE SKY…DROPS…AN INVISIBLE INVADER…TO TERRORIZE AN ENTIRE NATION..ONE MAN AGAINST A NATION ..SPYING.. FIGHTING.. DESTROYING.. STRIKING AT THE VERY HEART OF THE ENEMY! My apologies for writing in “all caps,” but I couldn’t help my enthusiasm. Just watching the trailer alone, my spirit feels jazzed enough to sock ole Hitler in the jaw. Yes. As it would seem, Invisible Agent came to Universal’s lexicon at a very precarious/interesting place in history. The world was once again at war. Pearl Harbor happened less than a year before (December 1941) the release of the film. And perhaps this makes Invisible Agent (July 1942) one of the more interesting footnotes in the Universal Monsters vault as the monster was no longer who we assume; but rather, the “enemy,” which in this instance was Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan. Invisible Agent is nothing more than a propaganda film, aimed to boost moral of the 1942 wartime audience, and it is hard to ignore some of the starch xenophobia concurrent throughout the movie. BUT we must also remember, Invisible Agent is a product of its time. When looking at historical pieces, we must consider the thoughts and motivations of the era in which the movie was made. For me, I was intrigued, not only because of the historical footnote, but also getting to watch Peter Lorre on screen. Ignoring (for now) the fact that Universal Studios cast an eastern European to play the role of Baron Ikito (a Japanese character), it was still worthwhile being able to watch Mr. Lorre act. He was cool and chilling. And an absolute pleasure. Well, I think I’ve yammered on long enough. Let’s welcome today’s special guest and allow him to bring on that sweet sweet propaganda!
By: Duncan P. Bradshaw
I must confess, that when Mr Flowers provided a list of the films he had left to review, I did the typical thing, and plumped for something I’d never seen before. It was only afterwards, when I read a bit of the background about it, and then, eventually, got my hands on a copy of it, did I wish that I’d taken the blue pill.
Where the previous iterations in the Invisible Man franchise were stories of horror and science fiction, Invisible Agent is a wholly different proposition. It bears H.G. Wells name solely as it was based on his eponymous novel. This film though, is purely a WW2 propaganda film, made to entertain those stuck at home, and to an audience now part of the global war.
Released at the end of July, 1942, it is a mere seven months since the US were attacked at Pearl Harbour. With the need to demonise the Axis powers, in an age which didn’t have 24 hour news channels, or instantaneous reports from the other side of the world, films like this were churned out. Invisible Agent is a rote, by the numbers film, which lacks any real story or plot. Choosing to borrow elements of the mad scientist formula which so many films of that era subscribed to, there are few redeeming features to it.
First off, Jon Hall, who plays the titular character, must’ve been laughing his way to the bank, as he’s on screen for next to no time at all. After being threatened by a Nazi and a Japanese agent, he legs it, with the secret formula in his possession. Naturally, the US government asks, politely, and with no sense of menace at all, if he would share it. This is refused. You blink and literally, the scene fade out has barely finished, when he’s back again, in front of important looking blokes and generals, saying that Pearl Harbour has changed his mind. He’ll do it, damn your eyes, but with one condition, that he is to be the one to be injected.
Right…at no point do they say that he’s a soldier, or some kind of badass, and these people, with national security on the line, are quite happy for him to go behind enemy lines and discover when the Germans are going to attack America. Yeah…that sounds…yeah…
What follows is a paper thin plot, where the Nazi’s are borderline incompetent. They’re only out to usurp their superiors and are easy victims to ridiculous slapstick routines, and chain smoking. Cedric Hardwicke, who plays the main bad dude, Stauffer, has barely finished a cigarette, when he’s using it to light another.
The effects though, given that we’re now rotund on a diet of CGI, is actually pretty good, with one exception. The plane models are awful, you’d have thought that there would be a shedload of stock footage they could have used. Instead you have wobbly wooden planes juddering all over the shop, it’s just odd given the lengths they go to on the invisibility side of things.
Speaking of which, the invisible effects are decent, if a bit predictable. He rocks up in Germany to meet his contact, but hey…how do we know where he is? He’s invisible after all. That’s okay, here have some coffee.
WOOOOOOOOHHHHH, the glass is floating in the air. Wait a minute, he’s drinking the coffee! But it’s not falling onto the floor, it’s magic! Say…I fancy a cigarette, WOOOOOOOHHHH, look a floating cigarette and flaming match. Coupled with chair springs being depressed as he ‘sits’ down, it doesn’t veer too far from the tried and trusted. You can only see the wires a few times, but that is me being picky, overall I thought it was done pretty well, and easily the best thing about the film.
What did annoy me though, was the routine when he meets the female double agent played by Ilona Massey. He’s sweet-talking the pants off her, well, he was watching her get undressed until he wolf-whistled (Worst. Stalker. Ever.), but comedy Nazi number one turns up.
Eager to show the cinema goers what ruthless sods these Germans are, he starts showering her with gifts, plundered from occupied Europe. Though a diet of cheese, chicken, lobster and champagne is going to cause a blockage or two, downstairs, if you get what I’m saying. Cue five minutes of stuff being moved about, chicken being eaten, INVISIBLY, WOOOOOOOOOOOHHHH, and food and drink being tipped over the bearer of gifts.
There is nothing really appealing about any of it to be honest. You’ve got the legendary Peter Lorre completely wasted as Baron Ikito, a Japanese agent. Which, let’s face it, given the backlash against Scarlet Johansen appearing in Ghost In The Shell, would probably create a right storm nowadays. There’s just none of the scares or intrigue that you get from any of the other Invisible Man films, they’ve literally used H.G. Wells good name, slapped it onto an identikit propaganda film, and sent it out into the wild.
He gets plans. People get captured and slapped about a bit, I’m beginning to nod off now, thinking about it. In fact, it would be the equivalent of me telling you how to suck an egg, explaining what happens. Suffice to say, they save the day, escape and get back to blighty. If this film was food, it would be a piece of plain white bread. What’s that? You want some peanut butter on it? NO! Have it dry, I don’t care if you would quite like to have some cheese in there.
So yeah, I can’t say I particularly enjoyed watching it, but…given that my knowledge to date of the franchise stopped with Invisible Man Returns, I can at least say I’ve watched it. Though I can categorically state that I’d not waste eighty more minutes watching it again, I’ll stick to the original thank you very much.
Duncan P. Bradshaw lives in MIGHTY Wiltshire, with his wife Debbie and their two cats, Rafa and Pepe. Their barbershop quartet days may be behind them now, but they can still belt out a mean version of ‘Deepy Dippy’ by Right Said Fred when the mood catches them right. Duncan’s debut novel, zom-com, “Class Three,” was released in November 2014. The first book in the follow-up trilogy, “Class Four: Those Who Survive,” shambled into life in July 2015. Both have received glowing reviews. In early 2016, he released his debut Bizarro novella, “Celebrity Culture”, which has been well received, despite its oddness. Not content with resting on his laurels, Prime Directive blasts off in May 2016, a sci-fi/horror novella which pleased fellow founder J.R. Park. Before the main attraction…Duncan finished writing “Hexagram” in late 2015, a novel set over five hundred years, which follows an ancient ritual and how people throughout the years twist the original purpose to their own end.This is released on July 25th, hold onto your hats for that one.
May 11, 2016 | Categories: History, Horror, Reviews | Tags: 1941, 1942, Duncan P. Bradshaw, Horror, movie reviews, Pearl Harbor, Peter Lorre, propaganda, review, Shadow Work Press, Shadow Work Publishing, Sinister Horror Company, thriller, Universal Classics, Universal Monsters, Universal Monsters in Review, Universal Studios, WWII propaganda | 1 Comment