Category Archives: TV and Film

In Search Of The Last Action Heroes

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In the 1980s there was a glut of high-octane action films coming out of Hollywood. The likes of Rambo, Aliens, Commando, Lethal Weapon and Predator captured imaginations and box office gold. The likes of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Van Damme and Mel Gibson became household names.

But after over a decade of success, the action genre started to fade away. Today, superhero and fantasy films have captured mainstream audience’s attention – replacing headbands, sunglasses and muscle shirts with colourful costumes and origin stories.

A generation of 80s kids has grown up and are nostalgic for the films of their youth. The entertainment industry has taken note; producing new Aliens and Predator films, a TV series sequel to The Karate Kid, Ready Player One’s homages to the 80s and the likes of Stranger Things, which while not an action series, still leverage nostalgia to incredible success.

Oliver Harper has spent seven years creating content around action films. His YouTube videos have struck a chord amongst his fellow 80s fans, as well as a new generation of kids curious about the heyday of action cinema.

With over 900,000 visits a month, Oliver has a committed fanbase who encourage him to keep digging deeper into their favourite topic. Oliver has mobilized his fans to partake in his biggest video project to date – a feature-length documentary titled, “In Search of the Last Action Heroes.” To secure the necessary funding, Oliver has created a crowdfunding campaign via Kickstarter. Launched on June 14, the Kickstarter campaign blasted its way to 50% of the funding goal (£15,000) in just three days.

Oliver enthused, “There are many reasons why I’m so excited about this project. On a personal level, it’s an opportunity to see if I can make the transition from YouTuber to filmmaker. I’ve produced hundreds of hours of content about the action genre, but ‘In Search Of The Last Action Heroes’ is not only going to dig deeper than I’ve ever gone before, we’re also going to speak to the people who were a part of the boom.”

In Search Of The Last Action Heroes will take a wide lens to the action landscape, detailing how the genre rose to prominence and why it couldn’t sustain that success. Oliver will explore the locations and give voice to the artists and stars of the time.

Oliver adds, “I see the film as being more than just a love-letter to fans of the genre. I am expecting to uncover story threads and details that will resonate with any viewer, whether you grew up with the films or are learning about them for the first time.”

Check out the Kickstarter trailer below.

If you would like to back In Search Of The Last Action Heroes, the Kickstarter campaign is here –

You can follow and subscribe to Oliver on YouTube here – Oliver Harper YouTube Channel

Oliver is on Twitter here –

We also have an interview planned with Oliver in the next few days, which I am VERY much looking forward to!

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8-Bit On A Budget

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The good computer games in the 80s, for the original 8-bit machines, were usually around a tenner. It took me about a month to save up enough money to buy Frank Bruno’s Boxing, but I played it for hours. I know Mastertronic had released a few games early on for £1.99, which was great. It meant that games were now more affordable, although they were probably not the best quality.

At around the mid 80s companies like Firebird popped up and started releasing top quality games for under £3. Mastertronic started to develop really good games and they evolved into MAD (Mastertronic Added Dimension). It suddenly became possible to get great games really inexpensively. Home computing libraries swelled with these new titles as people were now able to obtain three or four games for the same price they used to pay for one.

Kieren Hawken is writing a book dedicated to these budget releases. 8-Bit on a Budget: The Best Budget Games of the 80s looks at the very best budget originals released for the six most popular 8-bit home computers of the 1980s: the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, MSX, BBC Micro and Atari 8-bit. Each machine has its own dedicated pages, exclusive titles and full length reviews telling you why each game was so great. You’ll also find a fact box full of trivia for each title that will hopefully teach you something new.

Kieren took time out recently to take part in a quick interview about his love for 8-bit gaming, and to give an overview of his upcoming book.

Why did you decide to write a book about budget computer game titles?

There are actually several reasons behind this. Firstly because I have tremendous nostalgia for many of these titles and I know many others do too. Secondly because I already do a segment about budget games on the Atari XEGS podcast (where I am co-host) and writing a book about them just seemed a natural progression. Lastly because nobody has written a book about them before and many of my peers assured me that this is something they would like to see!

How old were you when you first got a computer, which computer was it and what was the first thing you played?

I was 11 years old, so a little late to the party compared to many others out there and indeed many of my friends. But it took a long time to convince my parents that it was a good investment. The computer was a ZX Spectrum +2a and went with the Speccy because that is what all my friends had and, of course, that made it easy to swap games.

Did you ever have a go at writing any games?

I did actually for the BBC Micro, ZX Spectrum and Atari ST. I never got any further than using BASIC though and many of those projects are long gone. I did manage to recover a few disks of stuff that had been rotting in my dad’s loft though a few years back and that was really cool seeing those projects again, even if I didn’t even understand a lot of my own code!

Did you ever finish any games, with or without cheating?

It’s funny, I would never consider myself an expert gamer, although there are some games that I am extremely good at for some reason. The first one I remember completing was Gauntlet on the Spectrum with my brother. I recall being extremely annoyed that after slogging through 100 levels or so we were just greeted with a message telling us to insert the Deeper Dungeons add-on cassette!

We had 1 independent electronics shop I our town that sold a few games. If we wanted to get anything good we had to go to Boots or WH Smiths in a different town. Did you have access to many local game shops when you were growing up?

In my actual home town of Harpenden we had no shops that sold computer games other than a small rack in the local newsagent, not even our Boots, WHSmith or Woolworths stocked them! But thankfully for us St. Albans and Luton were only one stop away on the train and both places had a multitude of both specialist shops and high street retailers that also sold games. My place of choice was always Software Plus in St. Albans however, as the manager there was great and had a genuine passion for games.

What were your magazines of choice? I mean, not necessarily computer magazines, but mags on any subject?

I grew up reading comics from a young age and The Dandy was always my favourite, although I regularly used to buy Whizzer and Chips and Buster too. My brother got The Beano and my sister used to grab The Topper and The Beezer. So we had pretty much every angle covered there!
Once I got my Spectrum Your Sinclair quickly became my magazine of choice due to the humour. Although I pretty much always bought Sinclair User, C&VG and Crash too. Once I moved away from the Spectrum my fave mags included ST Format, Raze, Game Zone and Games X.

I also remember the waves of excitement that would ensue when a new Radio Times dropped through the letterbox though, especially as Christmas, as my siblings and I would flick through the pages circling all the films and other programs we wanted to watch!

Did you get pocket money, and if so what did you spend it on? Mine was mainly sweets.

When I was younger it was definitely comics and sweets! As I got a bit older I would always put a bit aside for games. Every Sunday morning my dad would drive down to the local newsagent to buy his fags and a newspaper. My brother and I would save £1 each and then use it to buy a budget game, we’d take it in turns to decide who got to pick, but even on my younger brother’s week I would often get my way!

One time I went to the shop to buy £1 of sweets, using a £1 note(!). I got there, bought them, then on the way back I cut through the park and found another £1 note. When I got home with sweets AND a quid, my mum refused to believe my story of luck and insisted I must have stolen £1 of sweets. She marched me back and made me give my new found £1 note to the confused shop man, who still took it. Did you ever suffer a huge injustice as a child?

I remember getting Test Drive 2: The Duel for the Spectrum and taking it into school to show my friends as I had saved up for several weeks to buy it (I rarely bought full-price games because I didn’t like waiting!) and then put it in my locker during lessons. At some point somebody broke into my locker and stole the game. I was so upset and my dad went mad at me for it saying I shouldn’t have taken it to school. I later discovered it was one of my best friends who stole the game, we didn’t stay friends for long after I found out!

Did you used to collect anything unusual when you were young?

Not especially, although I do wish that I still had all my Panini sticker albums and my complete sets of Garbage Pail Kids!

Did you have any favourite TV programmes during childhood?

The ones that really stick in my mind are Dogtanian and Mysterious Cities of Gold as far as cartoons go. Especially the latter one as I was absolutely obsessed with pyramids and the ancient world in general. This interest has never really left me and visiting pyramids for the first time in real life was a huge thrill. As far as other programs go I was absolutely obsessed with both The A-Team and Knight Rider, as many young boys were. I was also a big fan of Street Hawk and Quantum Leap too.

Did any TV programmes influence your gaming purchases? Quite a lot of later titles were TV licenses.

I think the only ones that did were the Hanna Barbara games that were produced by Hi-Tec Software. At just £3 they were great value for money, consistently good and I was a fan of the cartoons so always enjoyed them. I think I bought all of them but particularly enjoyed Hong Kong Phoeey, Quick Draw McGraw and Atom Ant from memory.

One funny story I will tell you though, my big sister bought The Munsters game for the Spectrum at full price because she absolutely loved the TV show. Despite standing next to her in Boots telling her over and over again it got bad reviews and she shouldn’t buy it she did anyway. Within minutes of playing it she was screaming at the TV and after that day I don’t think she ever played it again. I was too afraid to tell her that I told her so!

Do you still own many of the original games you bought?

I don’t have any of my Spectrum games, they are long gone sadly. But I still have loads of my original Atari ST, Atari Lynx and Atari 2600 games. They managed to survive due to boxes being stored in my dad’s loft and forgotten about!

How many titles will feature in your new book?

There will be close to 100 different reviews when it all said and done with around ¾ of them coming from me and then the rest being guest reviews from the likes of Guru Larry, Ashens, Nostalgia Nerd, Retro Man Cave, Octav1us Kitten, The British IBM and Mr. Biffo.

Is there an estimated publication date or funding completion date?

There isn’t no, unlike Kickstarter this campaign will run until it’s funded. The book is mostly done so obviously the sooner it funds the better for me and everyone who has ordered it so far. There are some great perks too including the chance to come play some budget games with myself and many of the guest reviewers at the Centre For Computing History in Cambridge, a place everyone should visit at least once.

You can back 8-Bit On A Budget on Unbound here –

You can also follow Kieren on Twitter here –

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Forgotten Filmcast Episode 109: The Pleasure Seekers

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

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The new episode of the Forgotten Filmcast is here! This time, Todd is joined by Tom Lisanti from to discuss a 1964 film featuring three sixties beauties. Ann-Margret, Carol Lynley and Pamela Tiffin star in The Pleasure Seekers.

Download the Show:
Your Listen

Show Notes:
Tom on Twitter

Films Discussed:
The Pleasure Seekers
Bunny Lake is Missing
Under the Yum Yum Tree

Go to Source – Forgotten Films

S.O.S. Tidal Wave

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There is a phrase that has entered into the lexicon in recent years that has got everyone all worked up. You know what I’m talking about…fake news. Now, you’d think this was something new, but our film today is going to show us that even back in 1939 this was a problem. Though this goes a lot further than using Facebook to influence an election. In this film, we get to see candidates trying to keep voters from the polls by faking a natural disaster. Get your water wings ready for S.O.S. Tidal Wave.

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Our story focuses on a TV reporter/photo journalist named Jeff Shannon (Ralph Byrd). He has a successful program in Philadelphia where he covers all sorts of stories. However, when it comes to supporting a candidate in the upcoming mayoral race, he stays tight lipped. Such is not the case, though, with his good friend Uncle Dan (George Barbier), a ventriloquist and star of a kids show at the station where Jeff works. Uncle Dan is sure that one of the candidates, Clifford Farrow (Ferris Taylor) has a criminal past and wants Jeff to say so on his news broadcast. Jeff is unwilling, but when a threat tied to a pineapple crashes through the window of his home, he changes his mind. Just before the big broadcast, though, Jeff changes his mind again when Farrow’s shady associate Melvin Sutter (Marc Lawrence) threatens his wife and son.

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Uncle Dan then decides to follow up on the things himself and ends up with info from a private investigator regarding Farrow’s past. Now it’s up to the ventriloquist to reveal the truth during his kiddie show. However, on the way to the studio, Farrow’s men ram a truck into Uncle Dan’s car, causing serious injury to Jeff’s son Buddy and the eventual death of the ventriloquist.

When election day arrives, Farrow ends up taking an early lead at the polls. However, Jeff ends up discovering a film of Uncle Dan practicing his program in which he intended to reveal the candidate’s questionable past. When this goes out over the air, Farrow’s gang launch a plan to keep late day voters away by broadcasting a War of the World’s style TV broadcast that seems to indicate that a massive tidal wave has destroyed New York and is now headed for Philly.

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This is one downright kooky movie, and I’m not even talking about the whole tidal wave thing yet. For me one of the weirdest things about this story is having a kid show ventriloquist as a big time political activist who has been entrusted with secret information that could sway the election. I’ve said many times on this blog that I am a puppeteer by trade. I have many friends who are ventriloquists. They’re great folks but I don’t know that I’d put the fate of a major election in any of their hands. These folks talk to themselves for a living, after all. Politics aside, I didn’t really care for the way this ventriloquist character is presented here. The voice of the puppet is clearly being performed by a different actor and Uncle Dan’s lips are locked shut, which is not the way ventriloquism works. Plus, Uncle Dan walks around with his dummy (or “figure” as ventriloquists prefer to call them) dangling upside down at the end of his arm as he converses with other people. No professional ventriloquist would ever do that.

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Okay, enough of my puppetry hangups. For most viewers the strangest part of this film is going to be the big moment that the title alludes to. It is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen in a movie. Just because one TV station starts showing footage of a massive tidal wave leveling New York, everyone in the city goes into a massive panic. Nobody even stops to consider that it might not be legit. Were people in 1939 really this gullible? I get that television was in its infancy here, but seriously? The footage that is shown of New York skyscrapers crumbling is pretty spectacular, but not remotely convincing. This cheesiness, though, does make the sequence very entertaining, especially when you add to it the frantic play-by-play of the destruction by the TV announcer. Supposedly the tidal wave footage was taken from a 1933 film called Deluge.

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Of course, the tidal of the film leads one to believe that the tidal wave is at the center of the film’s plot. So, it does end up being a petty big letdown when most of the film is really about newsmen, crooked mayoral candidates, and a politically minded ventriloquist. The majority of the movie is pretty dry, pun intended. We have a cast of B-movie actors who make it pretty clear why they were relegated to making these kinds of movies. They just don’t do much to make the film all that interesting. If there is a standout in the cast, though, I think it has to be Marc Lawrence as Farrow’s shifty right-hand man, Sutter. He’s got that rodent-like look that is great for this sort of organized crime character. I also love the way he always says, “we’re still friends, aren’t we?” right before he guns someone down.

S.O.S. Tidal Wave spends an awful lot of its paltry 62 minute running time trying to build up to something exciting. When we finally do get to the titular moment, it’s beyond ridiculous. That’s not to say it’s not a fun moment, but it almost goes as far as to turn the whole film into an unintentional comedy.

NOTE: S.O.S. Tidal Wave was recently released on DVD and BluRay by Olive Films.  Big thanks to them for giving us a look at the film.


Go to Source – Forgotten Films

Walt Sent Me Episode 97: Old Yeller

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Get your tissues ready. For this episode of Walt Sent Me, Kristen and Todd discuss the 1957 tear-jerker Old Yeller. They also look at the 1933 short Mickey’s Pal Pluto.

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Your Listen

Go to Source – Forgotten Films

Forgotten Filmcast Episode 108: The Brotherhood of Satan

This article is from Forgotten Films. Click the title to hop over there.

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On the new episode of Forgotten Filmcast Todd is joined by Richard Kirkham from Kirkham a Movie a Day stop by to discuss the 1971 horror film The Brotherhood of Satan. It just so happens that the film stars a relative of Richard’s, Strother Martin.

Download the Show:
Your Listen

Show Notes:
Kirkham a Movie a Day
The Strother Martin Film Project
Richard on Twitter

Movies Discussed:
The Brotherhood of Satan
Fool’s Parade
The Source Family

Go to Source – Forgotten Films

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