Tag Archives: The X-Files

King of Cameos

Stephen King has long been the number one name in horror but over the years his face has turned up, mostly in cameo appearances, in many of his adaptations long before the likes of Stan Lee was mugging in the background of the latest Marvel release.

King may not have been spotted stacking shelves in Haven just yet but Dean Newman takes a look back at the King of cameos.

Pet Sematary (1988)

This was the first of his books that King adapted for the screen, as well as scribing duties King also wound up popping up in the graveyard, how apt, as the minister giving the service at a funeral. It was a clip that was also heavily used in the trailer and King really looks to be relishing the role and is certainly my favourite appearance and so very apt to be surrounded by all that death with King as much the master of ceremonies as he is the master of horror.

Stand By Me (1986)

Okay so King himself doesn’t actually appear physically but the film, based on the short novella The Body, is semi-autobiographical and clearly King as the young writer to be. So essentially King is Wil Wheaton and Richard Dreyfuss, the latter who mostly appears as a voiceover apart from at the very end in perhaps one of the greatest most poignant endings in film history. King still has the marks left by the leeches scene…

Creepshow (1982)

 Less of a cameo as King appears in one of the segments In Creepshow, Stephen King plays Jordy Verrill in the segment entitled “The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill.” Jordy Verrill, a country bumpkin, discovers a meteor on his property and soon finds himself, and his entire home, consumed by some sort of meteor fungal that first takes over his house and then him – can’t wait to see what Dr Pixie makes of that on Embarrassing Bodies!

King also played a Truck Driver in Creepshow 2 during the segment, The Hitchhiker

The Stand (1994)

For many The Stand is regarding as King’s magnus opus and as such he delivered a script for epic in scope television adaptation. It was perhaps only fitting then that King kept on popping up, just to keep an eye on proceedings you understand, as Teddy Weizak throughout this land mark mini-series.

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

If it wasn’t committed to celluloid then King probably wouldn’t even remember his turn as an irate man at a cashpoint who swiftly gets his comeuppance due to the fact, by his own self admission, that he was pretty much off his face on drugs during this period. A curio more than a classic.

The Shining (1997)

No, not that one. Although the Kubrick version is hailed as a classic of horror cinema, King hated it, so, as you do, he had it remade closer to the original novel as a two part TV movie. In this adaptation King has a turn as the band leader.

Quantum Leap (1990)

Oh boy! In this horror tinged edition of the time travelling do-gooder Sam Beckett, which takes place on October 31st 1964 and sees him end up meeting a young boy who just so happens to have a dog called Cujo, that’s right a young ‘Stephen King’.

Allusions to other King books include Christine, Carrie and The Dark Half, and the episodes title? The Boogieman.

The Simpsons (2000)

Appeared as himself signing books in the episode Insane Clown Poppy, obviously a riff on IT. As an interesting side note, one of his more recent books, Under the Dome, was reminiscent of certain elements of The Simpsons Movie, not the Spider Pig bit I should imagine though.

The X-Files (1998)

King cameoed off screen as a writer of one of the shows fifth season episodes, Chinga, that dealt with witches, possessed dolls, random acts of violence (seeing as you ask people gouging their own eyes out), all of course set in Maine (where else!)

Sleepwalkers (1992)

 He was the cemetery caretaker in ‘Sleepwalkers’ –perhaps he should have buried it before it was released. It’s rather shonky to say the least with only the rather lovely Madchen Amick as its redeeming feature. He shared screentime in the good company of fellow horror scribe Clive Barker.


CLiNT magazine: Go ahead, make my day

Hopefully September 2010 will be a date to remember for British magazines as it sees the launch of an exciting new publication, CLiNT, presided over by graphic novel man of the moment, Mark Millar, creator of the graphic novel Kick-Ass.

Cannily then, just as the DVD and Bluray are released, he’s launched CLiNT which features Kick-Ass 2 as one of its unique selling points, along with another Millar strip, Nemesis. He’s also roped fellow comic book geeks, Jonathan Ross and Frankie Boyle into the mix with their very own comic strips.

CLiNT magazine features the debut of Kick Ass 2: Balls To The Wall from Mark Millar and John Romita Jr, the reprint serialisation of Jonathan Ross and Tommy Lee Edwards’ Turf and Frankie Boyle’s Rex Royd, which Millar describes as “imagine Lex Luthor… as seen by Frankie Boyle”.

For me though it’s Ross’ Turf that inspired me to want to purchase this in the first place with its dizzying high concept premise. It’s a Prohibition Era story set in New York City, which has been described as crime noir with bite, featuring a mix of genres from gangsters to horror, vampires in the form of the bloodthirsty Dragonmir family from Eastern Europe – and sci-fi elements with an alien flown in for good measure.

Millar is extremely open as he sees the magazine carrying the torch that 2000AD and before that The Eagle held before it for our dad’s and grandad’s. It’s a great thing that Millar has chosen this assault and vigorous injection of something new into British mags, with publishers Titan who have dabbled in this type of publication, a mix of comic strips and articles, before with the likes of The X Files.

As Editor, in his Dear Readers… sidebar, Millar enthuses: “I think this mag is going to be massive and maybe change the world in some way…Kids have been crying out r a monthly like CLiNT…Welcome to the next big thing.”

And whilst the comic strips look and read great, there is no faulting them, it’s the rest of the magazine that is more arse than kick-ass and seems to suffer from no real direction and as if the ideas have been taken from a brain-storming meeting, and not a very productive one at that. The cover screams “warning! Contains comics!” This isn’t the problem it’s the rest of it, sigh.

The comic strips are spot on but the other extras aren’t even a distraction of any description and really drag the quality of the magazine down with it, which is a shame. I’m sure that with Millar and Kick-Ass 2 attached the initial sales of the magazine have been stellar but if it wants to survive then I’d rather see the inclusion of another strip included rather than some unnecessary and uninteresting fluff that looks and reads like it was turned down by Loaded ten years ago, Herb Du Jour, the secret diary of a celebrity pot-head, springs to mind as being something particularly passé.

And I’m sure, at some point, Deeply moral babes: overdressed porn for the religious right, which features fully dressed women in typical porn-esque poses, must have seemed hilarious on some mood boards or page plan, it’s just a shame it didn’t stay there as it just doesn’t translate.

I did however enjoy the feature on Charles Manson’s Secret Hollywood Death List, even if it felt more like something from FHM, and am looking forward to the Charlie Brooker interview in issue 2, even though the Jimmy Carr one tried really hard but still felt like something from The Big Issue.

Priced at £3.99 a month I know what I want and that’s not some half-baked articles that seem to act as simply no more than filler (weird things real people have shouted during sex and a pictorial piece incredibly spread over two whole pages about Hot TV Mums for example), what next a letter’s page or reader art? If it’s gunning for that market that read graphic novels then they should be treated as an audience that reads graphic novels and give us that content and nothing else, after all we’ve not all got access to US comics and comic shops so for many this is the best chance they will have of immersing themselves in the best and brightest new strips that the UK has to offer

I really want to like it, I really do, but at the moment it’s a love, hate thing. Love the comic strips, hate pretty much everything else. I’ll be back for issue 2 but that’s as much as I’m committing myself to.

Issue 1 is now on sale with issue 2 hitting shelves on 30th September.

V have ways of making you watch

Just as David Tennant became Matt Smith, the Sci-Fi Channel has caught up with its American cousin and regenerated into Syfy.

To celebrate this change of name the Channel has spoilt us with the remake of 80s classic V, you know the one where giant spaceships hanging over cities were made cool years before ID4, where Robert Englund was more friendly than Freddy, Jane Badler added inches to her thighs by devouring mice and Marc ‘Beastmaster’ Singer wore gloves a lot when getting into scraps. Essentially Dynasty meets the A-Team the mini series were a massive hit but the series sucked. It’s a new century and a different television and actual world so is this new invasion a success?

For me its a resounding V for victory on the basis of the first two episodes which now owe more to 24 and The X-Files with a sprinkle of Flash Forward for good measure, with a stellar cast of genre faves from Lost and Serenity added into the mix.

The programme gets your attention straight away, not by invading motherships, whose arrival is cleverly suggested and ominously hinted at through refracted window reflections, but with the opening captions that ask if you remember where you were when JFK was assassinated, remember where you were on 9/11 and that you’ll remember were you were today…when the Visitors arrive.

Powerful stuff and it underpins just how much US TV has been affected by the events of 9/11, its ripple still felt in drama almost a decade later – you only have to look at Lost, Flash Forward, Galactica and Fringe – to see its continuing impact in one way or another and V continues that.

Not only do we found ourselves in a world where not everyone is as they seem or who you can trust but it is also a world where  the Visitors have been here for years, infiltrating our businesses, government, religion and military, their goal to cause widespread instability through unnecessary wars (sound familiar) and economic meltdown. It’s these deft attentions to detail that make this world and possibility all the more believable and is one of the shows strongest plus points and permeates the entire programme with a sense of unease..

Now, in a world when we need them most, they have decided to reveal themselves as they quite literally circle us like vultures do their prey. Like the original we, the viewer, discover the Visitors greatest secret, that they are reptilians in disguise. This creates one of the opening episodes stand out moments and even though it is an idea replicated from the original it is still very effective in its delivery.

The programme also retains many of the Nazi Germany parallels that the original had, this time with Hitler Youth undertones,luring in the lead characters son, and the controlling of all propaganda so they can not be seen in a negative light.

Excellent additions that help add extra dimensions include a distrusting priest who now has a full church thanks to the fear the new visitors have brought and although the Vatican has explained the appearance away that we are all God’s creatures, even aliens, the priest asserts he still wouldn’t trust a rattlesnake.

My other favourite addition is one of the Visitor’s weapons, a flying ball of sorts that is part smart bullet from Tom Selleck fave, Runaway, and the flying sphere from Phantasm. It’s deadly but more importantly it’s also exciting to watch. It’s been used twice in two episodes so to remain effective they’ll hopefully use it sparingly to keep its menace.

With The X-Files, Fox Mulder’s mantra was ‘Trust No One’, now with the advent of V, FBI agent Erica Evans’ is an equally justifiably paranoid. ‘Anyone could be a visitor.’ And that is the beauty of this show, the guessing who we can and can’t trust as we join the gathering resistance on their journey. On one level it may be about an alien invasion but on another it is about who we can and can’t trust. The one thing that is certain is that as the story unfolds and we get to know the main characters, wisely concentrating on a smaller group than seen in the original, there are bound to be a few stings in these lizard’s tails.

 Two episodes in and I’m hooked and I only hope the pace of revelations continues and we don’t get bogged down in the mid-season like many shows do. As long as it keeps dishing out those twists and those surprises then I am there…watching the skies.

Hopefully we’ll get to see the visiting lizards in all green glory towards the end of the season, just a glimpse of them all worshipping or something but not too much to spoil, that would certainly bring me back for season two. Talking of which, one can’t help but wonder what David Icke makes of it all, after all he did once pronounce both the Queen Mother and Burt Bacharach as giant green lizards in disguise!


The Branning Man

Soapland’s torchbearer for sci-fi fans is no more. That’s right ginger-haired, rosey cheeked apple of Dot Branning’s eye, Bradley Branning has carked it in EastEnders first live programme in celebration of its 25th anniversary.

But, it was certainly a death that geek but proud Bradley would have been pleased with as he fell to his death in a similar manner to Tom Baker’s incarnation of the good Doctor in Logopolis, Who being a favourite of the Albert Square resident, who even once dragged Stacey Slater to a Doctor Who Convention.

Of course it would have been even more impressive if once Bradley met his maker an oddly white figure would have been seen entering his lifeless husk to then only witness him regenerate into another actor, but is still Bradley.

Even more amazing would have been if Bradley actor, Charlie Clements, had actually ended up as being David Tennant’s replacement in the old blue box, rather than Matt Smith. After all what with Donna Noble and Turlough the TARDIS hasn’t been a stranger to ginger folk. And, lest us not forget that the new Doctor almost seemed regretful that he had not come back as a ginger.

However, Bradley wouldn’t have even been put in his rooftop death plunge situation unless his mobile phone hadn’t been heard ringing by the fuzz, and the ringtone? The X-Files theme, oh the irony! RIP Bradley, I’ll miss your sci-fi in jokes and ringtones. Now we only have the fleeting glimpses of Michael Keating who has swapped the role of Vila for one as the vicar for our only gentle sci-fi amusement in the Square.