Finally! Friday: Night of the Demon/Curse of the Demon (1957)

Why Finally? I’ve known for a while that Dana Andrews, an excellent actor who played the guy standing next to Vincent Price hero in the classic noir Laura, starred in an adaptation of M.R. James’s story “Casting the Runes.” While it isn’t my favorite James story , it’s pretty close.

Curse of the Demon and Night of the Demon, which I believe are the UK and US versions respectively, are available on one DVD.

The Premise (original story): When Mr. Dunning gives Mr. Karswell’s alchemy book a bad review, he has no idea the author already tried out all the spells; he soon finds himself under a death curse. Dunning must join forces with the bereaved brother of a previous scathing reviewer, Harrington, in order to return Karswell’s all-too-practical magic to sender.

The Premise (movie version): American John Holden (Andrews in an updated version of the Dunning role) arrives at a convention in time to learn of the death of Harrington, who played a part in bringing down sorcerer Karswell’s notorious cult. When he crosses paths with Karswell and begins to feel strangely hunted, Holden teams up with Harrington’s niece to defeat this oddly jolly evil wizard who lives with his mother.

Also, if anybody saw Laura and wanted a shower scene, this movie has you covered.

What kind of convention is this, anyway?

Night/Curse of the Demon was directed by master of film mood Jacques Tourneur, and it shows in the spooky landscapes and shadows that seem alive as Karswell’s curse draws closer to fruition. The real treat, as far as I’m concerned, is the character of Karswell: he lurks on the fringes of the James story, but here he’s front and center, with a tantalizing library and an engaging habit of doing magic shows for the children of the village while in clown makeup, all while plotting your death.

Like most older horror films, Night/Curse of the Demon does suffer a bit in the effects department, in a way I found very rewarding. (SPOILER: the titular monster appears in the second shot below, so if you don’t want to see it, scroll quickly after the leopard attack.)

 

Until I saw this, I’d never realized how remiss James was in not putting a magic leopard attack in the source material.
It’s sort of a bat/cat/Muppet hybrid.

The Verdict: From the portentous prologue against a shot of Stonehenge to the final demon action, I really enjoyed Night of the Demon. Though it’s by no means a slavish adaptation. Night/Curse of the Demon uses a more nuanced, pervasive Karswell and his cult (which is not in the James story) to create a tense, updated variation on “Casting the Runes.” Very worth watching.

(The trailer gives too much away, as usual.)

 

Might go well with: Comfort food, a glass of port, and the double episode of A Podcast to the Curious dedicated to the original story, which is where I first found out about Night of the Demon.

 

Next time: We finish up “The Dreadful Doll” so the Quest family can move on to something with an even more embarrassing title.

 

 

 

Finally! Friday: Streets Of Fire (1984)

Honestly, this one’s pretty hard to write up.

Why Finally? “You’ve never seen this movie?!” someone with a wide-ranging Apple movie collection said—and off we went.

People, I had barely heard of Streets of Fire. Movie-wise, I spent 1984 watching The Secret of NIMH repeatedly on cable (while begging to be allowed to watch Flashdance), getting the bejeezus scared out of me at Gremlins, laughing at Ghostbusters and, sadly, not watching The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension.
(In that last case, as the man in a later movie said, I chose… poorly.)

Here is what I knew about Streets of Fire before last weekend:

This video. That’s it.

The Premise: When hometown girl turned rock star Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) is kidnapped from the stage by weird bikers (led by Willem Dafoe as “Raven”), old flame/current mercenary Tom Cody (Michael Paré) is called upon to rescue her. Which he does in spectacular fashion—for the ’80s, that is,  back when less stuff exploded—thanks to the help of a fellow ex-soldier (Amy Madigan in what may be my favorite role in the film).  Also along for the ride is Ellen’s current squeeze, music manager Billy Fish (Rick Moranis).

Streets of Fire calls itself a “rock ‘n’ roll fable,” which is a nice clue that things aren’t always going to make sense. The setting, for example, seems to be simultaneously the 1950s and the 1980s, with spandex pants and punky makeup for performers, but greasers all over the place like it’s set in a Stephen King town. I recall a lot of people in the ’80s complaining that TV and movies were becoming like music videos, and I bet this was held up (down?) as an early example. The story itself is about an inch deep, but evokes so many of the Classic Plots that it has the appeal of a fairy tale.

The Verdict: On one hand, I used the word “delightful” about five times during viewing, and I really enjoyed Streets of Fire. That may be less about the movie itself, though, and more about its resemblance to other works of its time. It has an underdog-mercenary plot like Extreme Prejudice or The A-Team, the random serendipity of the Buckaroo Banzai movie, a neo-retro underbelly like Blue Velvet (and two years before Blue Velvet came out, too), and, heaven help me, the good-will-prevail attitude that is the only thing I like about classic clunker Megaforce.

It also has, at most, 1.5 actual streets of fire.

Even though I found it delightful, I can imagine the film having a lot of haters: the loner-with-a-heart-of-gold hero, for one thing,  is a trope that should be using a rollator to get around by now. Had Streets of Fire been one whit more realistic, I think it would have sunk like a stone.

Might go well with:  I mentioned so many movies above that I’ve got nothing but popcorn for this one.

 

Next time: In the Quest For Monday, Race tours the facilities.

 

Finally! Friday: Moonlight (2007)

Why Finally? A few weeks ago, we covered a vampire detective I didn’t like—and I have to say I enjoy (for a given value of that word) watching Forever Knight far more now that I go into it knowing I’m going to mock it. A very silly weight has been lifted.

My hunt is still on for that TV equivalent of The Vampire Files’ Jack Fleming, though, so I thought I’d check out Moonlight, which ran for one season in 2007.

The Premise: Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) is a relatively recent vampire; he was a hard-boiled ’50s PI who fell in love and got vamped on his wedding night. This would make a great opportunity for a Moonlight/Highlander: End Game-based crossover where Mick and Duncan MacLeod’s ex bond in some kind of group therapy, but instead Mick is still being absurdly cute solving crimes.

Or, as in this scene, doing both.
Or, as in this scene, both.

One investigation brings him into contact with a reporter named Beth (Sophia Myles), whose life Mick saved from his ex when Beth was a child, and a relationship begins to bloom. Between fanged villains and Beth’s Lois Lane-like talent for finding trouble and running toward it at high speed, it’s a (un)life of adventure.

You know I love a good case-of-the-week show, but it turns out I still hate internecine vampire politics, so Moonlight occasionally became hard going. The series also plays around with the idea of a cure for vampirism, one of my pet peeves. (I don’t know why it should be, but from the Dark Shadows revival to the romance novels I read as a teenager, I’ve never really clicked with the concept.) Mick is a great character, but I didn’t really like Moonlight itself enough to stick with it.

The Verdict: I honestly wonder if this one might be me; perhaps I’m just in the wrong mood at this point in time. There were a lot of good moments in Moonlight, but they just didn’t add up quite right. I may revisit this in a year or two and see if I find it easier to get into.

Someday, though,  it’ll happen: the thing I’m looking for will get made—heck, maybe someone will put the actual Vampire Files on a screen of some size—and when it does, I’ll be nodding and grinning and thinking “Perfect. A little bit X-Files, a little bit Remington Steele, and a little bit Moonlight.” But this show by itself doesn’t seem to be it.

To put it in perspective with other recent reviews here at the Omelet, while Mick is no Mildred Heavewater, neither is he a Nick Knight (thank god).

Might go well with: A nice glass of whatever you like to drink. May want to err on the side of intoxicant.

(Note: some of the roles were recast after the pilot, so the trailer differs from the actual show. On the other hand, the “absurdly cute” quotient is strong.)

 

 

Finally! Friday: A View From A Hill

I decided to postpone the other stuff and stick with last week’s theme of British ghost story adaptations, so this Friday we turn to the BBC’s 2005  A View from A Hill.

Why Finally? Like “Mrs. Amworth” author E.F Benson, M.R. James was a British writer of classic ghost stories, the most well-known of which may be the gothic “Count Magnus.” (And like H.P. Lovecraft, James has inspired an excellent podcast. ) “A View from a Hill” is, hands down, my favorite James story… and, so far as I can tell,  pretty much no one else’s. So it’s easy to imagine how happy I was when I saw this adaptation available on Amazon Prime.

The Premise: Archaeologist Dr. Fanshawe travels to Squire Richards’s country estate. When Fanshawe sets out to tour his surroundings, he takes a pair of handmade binoculars the squire inherited from a strange and sinister antiquary named Baxter. It turns out Baxter’s glasses can see into the past, letting Fanshawe see intact buildings instead of the ruins that surround him—but he’s looking through dead men’s eyes, and it comes at a price.

Not this Price. A different one.
Not this Price. A different one.

I keep trying to articulate why this is my favorite James offering, and the closest I can come is that I sympathize with Fanshawe completely, unlike the legions of mad resurrectionists, seance-holders and ignorers of warning signs who usually populate ghost stories. The moment I read about those binoculars, I wanted them to be real, and mine, and damn the consequences. Quite aside from the spectral penalties for meddling in that which humankind was never etc., etc., this story has such a great main idea that I always get really excited about it. Necromantic augmented reality!

Like Pokemon Go, but for 16th-century English architecture.
Like Pokemon Go, but for 16th-century English architecture.

The biggest difference from the 1925 original is the way the TV production treats class issues—which is to say that it does so at all. In the James story, Dr. Fanshawe and Squire Richards are friends; in this version Fanshawe has been hired to appraise the squire’s possessions, so he’s a social inferior, even though the squire is being forced to sell things to keep up his estate. Richards’s failing finances are a good expansion on the idea of decay that drives Baxter to his historical meddling in the first place, and it all adds a new underlying tension to the story.

The Verdict: For obvious reasons, I love this, especially the scenes of Fanshawe at the abbey. I have a few minor quibbles about this production, but most are because I really like that break-it-down-in-the-drawing-room, expository style of old ghost stories; I can hardly fault a TV production for taking a more visual approach to the scary parts. If you love the story as much as I do—alas, you probably don’t—you’ll really enjoy this. If instead you’re meeting “A View from a Hill” for the first time, this is still a great, creepy dramatization.

Might go well with: Whiskey, a bracing cup of tea, your favorite period drama, and, if the thought of academics on bicycles warms your heart, H. P. Lovecraft’s “The Picture in the House.” The central conceit also reminds me of Robert Holdstock’s Mythago books, so you might check those out as well.

 

Next time: We’re wrapping up “Double Danger” not with a bang, but with many bangs and a sort of trumpeting noise.

Finally! Friday: Mrs. Amworth (2007)

Why Finally? As I told someone when I put this adaptation of the E.F. Benson vampire story in my Netflix queue: “God, I hope this doesn’t suck, ’cause I’m gonna watch it anyway.”

(For fellow spook-story fiends, I also wanted to note the 1975 British adaptation with Glynis Johns as the titular lady. That one is very close to the original story, even down to making us watch bored villagers play cards.)

The Premise (Original Story): Friendly, larger-than-life widow Mrs. Amworth livens up the town she moves to after the death of her husband, though a plague of anemia sets in following her arrival. It seems there may be a case of vampirism afoot, and only the narrator’s crank of a brother-in-law can save the day. That makes it sound silly, but it has some genuinely creepy moments, including a floating-outside-the-window scene à la ‘Salem’s Lot.

The Premise (Movie I Am Actually Watching):  Elegant refugee from one of those fantastic ’20s-style Edward Gorey drawings Mrs. Claire Amworth moves to a small country village and falls in with the locals: washed-up photographer Jed, his reporter girlfriend Sarah, her editor Lee, and the town doctor. Oh, and the handyman Mrs. A. is draining of blood… From there, she cuts a bloody swath through a town which will surely soon be investing in a new “Population:____ ” sign.

Mrs Amworth ’07 is a little goofy, perhaps, but not unwatchably so. It suffers from the common ailments of low-budget horror: the video quality is a little off, the acting a little stiff, and the special effects not all they might be.  One of the biggest changes from the original (other than some gore) is the depiction of small-town life. The Benson story gave us tea and card games; this gives us a whiff of sexual intrigue that hints at a more Twin Peaks version of village social dynamics, and I don’t object to that. I’d rather watch people make out than play whist if those are my options.

The Verdict: Pretty good. While I do try to find the best in everything I write up for Fridays, I’m surprised how much I liked this movie. It differs from the source material, but in a way consistent with  updating an early 20th-century story into a horror film; I even enjoyed some of the soapier bits. And honestly, anyone who adapts a Benson story (or M.R. James or to some extent Lovecraft) gets 10 extra points of goodwill from me just for caring enough to do it.

Where this movie shines, though, is its heroine. This Mrs. Amworth takes Benson’s vampire, who was sort of a normal person plus 10% extra(vert) personality plus bloodlust, and adds to the character touches of the traditional movie vamp and callbacks to the time the original story is written. If your horror doesn’t have to be polished, there are worse ways to pass an afternoon.

 

Might go well with: Cheese and crackers; old British ghost stories. (If you’re very squeamish, you may want to do your eating in the first hour.)

Random Note: I love this movie for giving the world the line “What are you afraid of? Vampire fish?” Can a SyFy movie based on this be far behind?

 

Next time: Jade and the Quests are on the case.

Finally! Friday: Criminal Minds Seasons 1–4

Why Finally? Because this is the reason I’ve had trouble coming up with Friday posts lately. You’d think an ’80s kid like me would’ve seen enough After-School Specials to avoid these traps, but no: I am addicted to Criminal Minds.

The Premise: In no particular order: murder, kidnapping and murder, murder, murder, rape, rape + murder, child murder, murder, profiling. (More specifically:  a team of FBI profilers, led by expert Jason Gideon and later by David Rossi, travel the US to catch the perpetrators of all that violence aforementioned.)

Did you see how the word “murder” began to not even look like a real word up there? That’s sort of what it’s like to watch this show sometimes.

Given my fondness for mystery and cop series and this show’s decade on the air, it’s odd that I hadn’t given Criminal Minds a try before this year. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that when I tell people what I’m watching, they make this…throat-noise, as if I’d announced some personal tragedy.  I don’t blame them, either, at least for the first two seasons: the problem with Mandy Patinkin as Jason Gideon is that he’s way too good in the role.  You feel every iota of Gideon’s pain, frustration, and building mental collapse—so much so that I began to think people who make it through seasons 1 and 2 should get achievement certificates.

That's pretty much his happy face...one reason I took to calling Gideon "America's Most Haunted."
That’s pretty much his happy face…one reason I took to calling Gideon “America’s Most Haunted.”

Edged in black, of course.

Criminal Minds can be super depressing. It’ll make you afraid to own a home, have a routine, play a sport, or make contact with other humans in any way. Most episodes aren’t even really mysteries in the usual sense of the term: the first suspect is often the right one, and the mystery is how to get one step ahead and maybe save one of the (many, many…and sometimes even many-er than that) victims.

But something happened around the middle of season 3: the characters started to work better as a team, and the show began to let us see more of them personally. Instead of relying solely on a few minutes with hacker Penelope Garcia to lighten the mood from SadCon 1, Criminal Minds started to level out a bit. Perhaps the people responsible for the show realized that creeping dread wasn’t what an audience should feel when approaching their TVs; I don’t know, but I am grateful.

The Verdict: It’s kind of the same verdict as my old Beauty and the Beast review: I like it—to the point I am ignoring my blogly duties—but don’t necessarily enjoy liking it. Fainthearted viewers might want to skip the Gideon years; fainthearted viewers might also look through some of the other reviews I’ve written to get an idea about what “too murdery” could possibly mean in the context of the things I watch.

Might go well with: You’ll probably want something significantly lighter as a palate cleanser—I’ve been alternating this with Kolchak: The Night Stalker because I have a weird idea of “light.” And honestly, food is going to be hit or miss with this one.

 

Next time: A “Quest”ion of identity.

Finally(?)! Friday: Prince of Darkness

Why Finally? It’s been over a year since I reviewed anything from John Carpenter, who is right up there with Cronenberg for testing my commitment to watching a movie. (I’m not so squeamish that I faint at the sight of blood; in fact, that would probably be less irritating for anyone watching horror movies with me, given that unconscious people tend not to whimper and cover their eyes so much.)

The Premise: The Vatican has been keeping a secret for ages: there’s a big vat of glowing yuck in the basement of a California church, and it just may be the embodiment of Satan. A priest (Donald Pleasance) invites a physicist and his team of students to examine the vat and decipher the ancient book that goes along with it. He does this, as far as I can tell, either because he is a cockeyed optimist or because he really, really hates students, since the body count begins to mount almost at once and the evil liquid begins to possess its victims—literally, by squirting into their mouths like a malign Red Bull. Meanwhile, the entire group begins to have dreams of future evil.

I’ll skip straight to The Verdict this time and say right out that I liked Prince of Darkness (though I’m unsure how deeply), especially for a movie in which swarming bugs briefly animate a corpse.

After rewatching that scene, I find myself wondering if this is one of those movies that would collapse without its tense musical score.

I do enjoy stories that straddle the line between science and the supernatural (H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, the novels of Robert Holdstock), and this seems to be somewhat in that vein, with a passing resemblance to the technologically inclined ghosts of this century’s J-horror. That said, some of the mechanics of the…haunting?…aren’t quite clear: I loved Alice Cooper in his role as a homeless person, but were he and his cohorts zombified or “just” possessed or what? There also aren’t many moments that make us care about the characters, so that for all the (god)matter/anti(god)matter theorizing, Prince of Darkness is at its root a highfalutin slasher.

The real moral of the story: If Donald Pleasance can’t sort something out, for god’s heaven’s pete’s sake don’t go anywhere near it.

Might go well with: End of Days; as for food and drink, that all depends on how much you like bugs, I guess.

 

Next time: A (Benton) Quest for medicinal plants.

Finally!(?) Friday: Scanners

Why Finally? Because I am squeamish as all get-out, and it’s a David Cronenberg film. I’ve been familiar with his reputation since 1986 and later (surprise!) from my ill-fated attempt to watch The Fly so I could see Jeff Goldblum with no shirt on.

When The Fly finally showed up on cable, I was 13 and very excited. My mother, who was more of a Commander USA’s Groovie Movies kind of person, sat down to watch it with me, but I folded right around the time Seth Brundle starts getting those giant back-hairs at the start of his flyification. Defeated by the yuck factor, I wandered off to my bedroom to read; occasionally Mom would yell out updates like “He just vomited acid!” or “His penis fell off and he put it in the medicine cabinet!” and I would yell back “THANKS FOR LETTING ME KNOW!” because that is how my family rolls.

Even though it would make one heck of a Found-Again Friday, I’ll probably never watch the entire Fly. But I made it through (and liked) Videodrome a few years ago, so when someone suggested 1981’s Scanners, I decided to go for it. After all, its classic head-exploding scene is pretty famous—so much so that the movie might be considered required viewing under my Deliverance Rule.”

And there was always a chance that would be the grossest part of the movie. Right?

Well…close.

The Premise: A generic government defense/intelligence agency hunts and captures Cameron Vale. Vale is a “scanner,” one of a small group of people who can telepathically mess with other people’s heads—at some pain to the scanner, and a whole lot of pain to us squishy-headed normals. After tutelage by mad scientist Dr. Ruth (Patrick McGoohan—if nothing else, the name proves at least Cronenberg can’t predict the future himself), Vale is sent out to track down a rogue scanner named Darryl Revok. It’s a name that is clearly up to no good, and the character is played by Michael Ironside, so Revok is basically doomed to be very, very evil.

What follows is a psionic version of spy vs. spy, with contacts and allies on both sides becoming casualties of Vale and Revok’s date with destiny.

The Verdict: What kept bugging me as I watched this unfold is something simple: why on earth can’t scanners seem to pick up when someone is after them with a gun? I’d almost bet there’s an explanation that I missed because I know very little about Cronenberg movies (see above re: squeamish as hell).

As a thriller and the story of a man’s search for his identity, Scanners is often excellent, with that bleak aesthetic shared by all 1.3 of the previous Cronenberg films I’ve seen. And while some of its scenes of scanners in action—the head-exploding scene, a sort of mind-melding ritual, Cameron almost killing a tweed-clad yogi—are outstanding, other times the telepathy feels underused or oddly used, and the movie has a bad case of that creeping cinema disease where things explode that really shouldn’t. Despite that (and some eyeball violence), it’s an absolutely worthwhile watch.

Might go well with: Videodrome; Firestarter.

Geez, even the trailer agrees this is a one-scene movie. It’s not!

Finally! Friday: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

“Dear Diary, why does no one understand me? P.S., I am not mad.”–Victor Frankenstein’s school friend Clerval, mocking him.

Why Finally? …and by “Mary Shelley’s,” we mean “now with Kenneth Branagh!” It’s time to sit down with a movie I’ve been putting off since the year it came out (and putting off even harder after I started watching all those Frankenfilms last year).

It would appear my timing is unusually good this week.

The Premise: I feel sure I’ve already mentioned somewhere on this site about Dr. Frankenstein and his habit of playing god with charnel leftovers; like Frankenstein: The True Story, this version hews close to the book, Arctic voyages and all. Victor F., spurred by the deaths of his mother and his mentor and possessed of an intellectual method best described as “better science through shouting,” creates his monster (Robert De Niro) using a steampunk contraption full of electric eels. He then promptly rejects it for being an icky sewn-together corpse—parents, am I right?— and the usual mayhem of a spurned monster ensues.

Monster time!
Time to meddle in that which man was never meant to know!
This was by far the most frightening Frankenstein's monster I've seen yet, and I'm getting to be a bit of a connoisseur.
This was by far the most frightening Frankenstein’s monster I’ve seen yet, and by now I’m a bit of a connoisseur.

Of all the versions of Dr. Frankenstein I’ve seen, this is the only one I can imagine someone actually wanting to marry, even for a minute—probably because this movie has a much greater emphasis on the domestic side of the plot, and we become invested in his relationship with Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter).  Considering how badly that goes—Victor even attempts a grotesque resurrection after the monster murders Elizabeth—it feels odd to say it’s refreshing, but over the last year I’ve watched far too many movies in which Frankenstein’s fiancée is dragged around the plot like an awkward piece of luggage.

The Verdict: I hope no one would be shallow enough to rate a movie adaptation solely on hairstyle design, but if anyone did, this would be considered the greatest movie ever made.

HairsAndGraces
Branagh and Aidan Quinn. Look at those curls!

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is over the top, but in a way clearly drawn from its source material and which allows Branagh to chew all the scenery his handsome heart desires (I mean this as a compliment: big is what the man does best).  The action sequences are excellent, as is the cast, and I lost track of the number of artists whose work seems to have influenced the sets, from Bosch hellscapes to Turneresque skies and far, far beyond. Really good.

Might go well with: Absinthe. Avoid meat during this movie at all costs; after all, it might come back for revenge.

 

Next time: Spydaddy longlegs.

Finally!(?) Friday: Frankenstein: The True Story

Why Finally? This 1973 version was recommended while I was in mid-rant about the odd Franken-kick I went on with last year’s Friday posts, during which I watched Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Young Frankenstein (I didn’t write that one up), and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. I still haven’t seen the Branagh version…and just realized that it’s been *mumble* number of years since I took time from my college studies to watch Haunted Summer. At least we know what to look for in 2016…

The Premise: After his brother dies, Dr. Victor Frankenstein (Leonard Whiting, who was Romeo in the Zeffirelli Romeo & Juliet—many Americans will therefore recognize him as “the guy whose butt we saw in 9th-grade English”) is despondent. He decides to conquer the secrets of life, first being as snotty about it as possible to his fiancée Elizabeth. Even before he spends part of the movie reminding everyone he’s a doctor, you quickly realize this is the sort of man who reminds everyone he’s a doctor.

Victor hooks up with another mad scientist, Henry (David “Ducky on NCIS” McCallum), and together they plan to build their monster out of workmen killed in a building disaster.  Henry has a weak heart, however, so when a setback in their process manifests, he dies before he can tell Victor—and his brain is popped into the monster. Waste not, want not.

The overarching goal of the production, explained in a spoiler-filled intro by a gentleman standing at Mary Shelley’s grave, is to tell the story more as it appeared in the original novel and less like the 1930s movies. This it certainly does, and with a number of visual touches that would have fit perfectly into Ken Russell’s Gothic, even as it hits many stops familiar to fans of the old films. The cast is magnificent: Whiting and McCallum are joined by John Gielgud, James Mason, Agnes Moorehead, and Jane Seymour (I wasn’t familiar with Michael Sarazzin, who played the monster, but he gives a heartbreaking performance as the creation who falls from grace through no fault of his own).

The Verdict: To put it bluntly, this may be the only 3-hour film I’ve ever enjoyed that didn’t have a dragon in it somewhere. Yes, some parts are the purest fromage; it’s an old TV movie/miniseries. Nonetheless, if you’re interested in the Frankenstein lore—which I am largely not!—it’s very good and cheaply available on DVD.

Random Note: Judging by this film, being the Fourth Doctor was just something Tom Baker did in between playing rough-spoken, bearded sea captains. And I’m okay with that.

Might go well with: Tea, opera, any of the other five zillion Frankenstein movies.

Next time: Who needs a special-forces guard when you have a kid with a basket?