Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


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Raiders of the Lost Franchise: Biggles (1986)

So, the idea was proposed to do a few posts about movie franchises that never started. Movies, mostly shot in the 1980s, that were all set up to be the Next Star Wars, the Next Conan or the Next Indiana Jones, but for some reason (usually a mix of ineptitude, lack of funds and madness) went nowhere, and sometimes entered the legend.

And I like very much the idea, and I think I’ll start with a movie that believed so much in its First in a Series status, that it proclaimed it in the title itself – well, at least in some countries. Today it is considered a cult movie by some, and one of the most ludicrous movies ever by others. The fact that it came with a very well established pulp cred, and it featured Peter Cushing in his last big screen role, only make the whole a lot more painful.

The movie is of course the 1986 Biggles, sometimes known as Biggles, The Adventure Begins (ah!), but also as Biggles: Adventures in Time.

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The Hound of ’59

vMy friend Lucy published today a nice lengthy piece about the 1939 adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce.
You can find the post here, and read it through the usual Google Translate thingy. It’s excellent, and it raises an interesting question, by noting that The Hound of the Baskervilles is treated as a proper Gothic story, an old dark house film.
This got me thinking about the connection between the Canon and the Horror genre, and so while clouds gathered and the storm approached, heralded by thunder and lightning, I brew myself a cup of hot tea, and I took a look at the other Hound, the one that was unleashed on the moors, in the full shocking splendor of Technicolor, by Terence Fisher, with the assistance of the fine gentlemen of Hammer Films.
The first Holmes movie in color.
Another Gothic adaptation, featuring Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.
It was, if you recall, the year 1959. Continue reading


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Three for the Long Shadows

This is the Weekend of Long Shadows, as we celebrate the birthdays of Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price.

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I will not bore you explaining how much these three gentlemen kept me company as a kid. There was a time when their movies were everywhere and at least once a week you’d be able to catch on of their works on the TV.

To celebrate these old friends, I’ll be re-watching three of their movies today.

First, The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas, featuring Peter Cushing.

Then, The Mummy, featuring both Cushing and Christopher Lee.

And finally, The Raven, with Vincent Price (and Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre, and Jack Nicholson…)

It’s going to be a good day.


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She Who Must Be Obeyed

The 1965 take on H. Rider Hagard’s She was the most expensive Hammer project to date, and they could pull it off only because, after much searching, MGM agreed to foot the bill.
After all, it was to be a vehicle for Ursula Andres, that three years before had caused quite a splash as the first Bond Girl ever in Dr No.

And so, yesterday being Andress’ birthday and all that, I watched the old movie again, and it was just as much fun as the last time I’d seen it. It’s not exactly a Tits & Sand movie, despite the fact that both ingredients figure prominently in the mix (but in a classy way). Continue reading


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She who must be obeyed

sheSometimes working on the weekend is fun.
I’m writing (well, actually revising, at the moment) an essay on Ayesha and other “lost race” queens from popular fiction.
Happily, my piece will go in a high-profile publication.

And as an extra bonus, it’s been a good excuse for watching again this old Hammer movie from 1965 – a very loose but fun adaptation of H. Rider Haggard‘s classic, She, featuring Ursula Andress, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

So, why not spread the joy?
Here are some highlights, courtesy of Youtube.
Cheers!

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Where the hell was Biggles?

“So, where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?”

Cover of "Biggles of 266"

Cover of “Biggles of 266” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Biggles was mentioned, last Saturday, on a discussion group devoted to pulp adventure, among other things.
While American classic pulp heroes are getting some attention right now, there’s this feeling their British counterparts are somewhat neglected.
Sure, there are fine reprints (and new stories) about Sexton Blake, but what of Biggles and Bulldog Drummond?

As luck would have it, I’ve a Biggles novel right here on my desk – a twenty-odd years old paperback edition of The Camels are Coming I bought second-hand for 1 eurocent.
So, why not write a small post about Biggles*?

Written by a veteran of the First World War, W.E. Johns, the Biggles novels follow the adventures of James “Biggles” Bigglesworth – an ace pilot that, starting as a fighter pilot in WWI, basically goes through most of the conflicts of the first half of the 20th century… flying most of the available planes in the catalog. Continue reading