Sunday, 31 October 2010

Happy Halloween/ Quatermass

It's my favourite holiday, so as usual I've done nothing for it. I am up to my ears in urban fantasy/paranormal romance novels, but that's for work and not really Crinoline Robot territory anyway.

I suspect I will watch the mid-1990s series Ultraviolet on video today; again that's too new for CR but if you've never seen it and get the chance to, it's six episodes of British vampire perfection. Shot in cold blues, it makes London look modern and lonely, and the acting is superb. 1990s noir, if you like. The plotlines address some tough matters - abortion, global warming, HIV - in an unusual and interesting way, and I would cheerfully swap a whole series of Buffy for one more of Ultraviolet. It's that good.

The vintage thing I would watch if I had it, but some friends have my copy, is The Quatermass Collection, a box set containing the original 1950s BBC series 0f The Quatermass Experiment (incomplete; episodes have been lost), Quatermass 2 and Quatermass and the Pit. The latter scared my uncle so much as a boy that now, even as a burly adult, he refuses to watch it. All three are about the investigations of a scientist, Professor Quatermass. In the first, an astronaut has returned, strangely altered, from a mission into orbit. In the second, Quatermass investigates meteor showers only to discover alien infiltration into Britain, and in the final one archaeologists have dug up a strange capsule along with some early hominid bones, so Quatermass is called in to see what it is. All straddle the space between science fiction and horror.

Thinking about it, the Quatermass programmes do have a reasonable amount in common with Ultraviolet: science/government coming to the defence of the unknowing general public, a slow, steady pace and absolutely masses of restraint. In both cases upper lips are stiff and emotions kept in check so that what must be done will be done. (No, 'Stuff everyone else, I'm going to save my spouse/child' or 'It's all about me and my twoo wuv' in either series.) Nowadays the emphasis in so many programmes is on things moving quickly, with flashy special effects. I find it refreshing to watch things where the action comes more slowly: it's better for creating tension, and rather more realistic in feel.

Happy Halloween!

Note: Hammer made film versions of all three series, but I haven't seen those. Also, ITV made another television series in the 1970s although that's too full of hippies to appeal to me. However, the Goon Show episode 'The Scarlet Capsule' is hilarious.

1 comment :

  1. I have heard very good things about Ultraviolet - but have yet to see it. Not heard of Quatermass though. Thanks for the heads up! Oh - and for stopping by chez LG :)

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