Monday, 11 December 2017

Books, books and more books

With Xmas rapidly approaching I thought I'd take this quick opportunity to point some of you lovely folks in the direction of the various Wyrd Britain shops in the hope of parting you from your hard earned money helping you find that perfect gift.

Those of you who follow the Wyrd Britain Facebook page will no doubt have noticed the regular additions to the Books for Sale image folder.  These are for sale in our Etsy Shop where you can find an array of vintage and antiquarian books that cover many of the facets of Wyrd Britain and more.

I currently have over 500 books listed from genres such as horror, science fiction, the paranormal, poetry, biographies, classic kids books, literary fiction, novelisations and more.  Clicking the widget below will take you there.

As well as the Etsy page I also have slightly more modern books (and occasionally music, toys and memorabilia) for sale on the wyrdbritain eBay page.

When you buy from either shop your book will be sent gift wrapped and I always try and get it in the post within 24 hours of receiving the order.

I hope you find something fun and tempting.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Omen

Although a predominantly American made film the Wyrd Britain credentials of The Omen are impeccable with it boasting a mostly UK setting, a cast consisting of some of Britain's finest character actors and a story with the legacy of the Hammer and Amicus studios right at it's core.

Originally released in the UK, on the 6th day of the 6th month in nineteen seventy 6 which almost manages to be spooky whilst simultaneously failing spectacularly, 'The Omen' went on to be one of the biggest grossing films of the year spawning several sequels of decreasing merit and a remake.

The story tells of the birth and childhood of the Antichrist, Damien Thorn, the 'son' of the US ambassador to the UK (Gregory Peck) and his wife (Lee Remick) and the various incidents and accidents that plague them.

Directed by Richard Donner (who would go on to make Superman two years later) and with a timeless, Academy Award winning score by Jerry Goldsmith (I'm sure most everyone reading this can sing at least a 'do-be, do-be-do' version of  his 'Ave Satani' piece) the movie also features a stunning ensemble of actors including David Warner as doomed photographer Keith Jennings, Patrick Troughton as doomed priest Father Brennan, Leo McKern as the not quite doomed yet but soon archaeologist Carl Bugenhagen, Holly (daughter of Jack) Palance as Damian's doomed nanny and Billie Whitelaw as her evil - and doomed - replacement.

I suspect in many ways 'The Omen' was intended to ride the coat-tails of 'The Exorcist' which, following it's release at the very end of 1973, had gone on to global success and notoriety but the end result is very much a film which has deservedly become a horror classic in it's own right.

Buy it here - The Omen [DVD] [1976] - or watch it below.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

The Small Hand

Susan Hill
Profile Books

Returning home from a client visit late one evening, Adam Snow takes a wrong turn and stumbles across the derelict old White House. Compelled by curiosity he decides to enter, only to be repelled when he feels the unmistakable sensation of a small hand creeping onto his own. This is just the beginning of a series of odd experiences.

This is the third of these lovely little pocket books of Hills that I've read and again it's a solid, if uninspiring, read.

Hill has a very easy style, she constructs her stories with a measured and stealthy pace filled with incidentals and asides that coach you along and draw you into the mundane as the extraordinary builds around you. Her menace, here is the impression of a young child's hand holding that of our protagonist, is subtle and both moving and disquieting and the intensity of the experience builds in a claustrophobic swirl until...well...until it all peters out and you're left wondering if that's all there is.

It isn't, quite, there is a coda to the story that attempts to give the whole thing a tragic 'Woman in Black' style ending but by then it's too late as any feelings of trepidation and discomfort have fallen away and you're merely reading to the end.

Buy it here - The Small Hand (The Susan Hill Collection)

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny & Girly

Every now and again a film or a TV show turns up and you wonder how on Earth you've managed to have never even heard of it let alone watched it even though it's got the most eye catching of titles.  Last week when I was writing the blog for 'The Blood Beast Terror' I spotted this curious looking little gem listed on Vanessa Howard's wiki page.  Now, when I see a title like that I've just got to know more which is a habit that's led me down some curious rabbit holes and this is definitely a curious rabbit hole.

Mumsy (Ursula Howells - Dr Terror's House of Horror, Torture Garden), Nanny (Pat Heywood - 10 Rillington Place), Sonny (Howard Trevor) and Girly (Vanessa Howard) are a happy - if slightly bonkers and a little bit murdery - family living in a large old house where they play 'the game' which involves Sonny and Girly going out into the wider world and luring men back to the house so they can play too or be 'sent to the angels'.  When they choose a male prostitute (Michael Bryant - The Stone Tape) to be their 'New Friend'they've possibly bitten off more than they realise as he soon starts to play the game to his own advantage.

Directed by Freddie Francis, who had made his name as a cinematographer on films such as 'The Innocents' (and later on 'The Elephant Man' and 'Dune') and as a director for Hammer and Amicus studios on films such as 'Dracula Has Risen From the Grave', 'Dr Terror's House of Horror' and Tales From the Crypt' what we have here is a beautiful looking piece of cinema.  A wonderfully odd and unsympathetically bleak comedy made with complete artistic control by a director with an eye for the unusual, the visually striking and the beautiful all of which would explain his later working relationship with David Lynch.

With a script based on a play - 'Happy Family' by Maisie Mosco - it is, at times, a faintly static and talky affair - at one point while watching it my partner who was sat across the room asked me if I was watching a play - and the strong cast have all dialled their performances up to the max but this is Howard's movie and she skips, pouts, gurns, giggles, sings, shrieks, flutters and flounces about the screen, dominating it by playing Girly as a lost child, a coquettish nymphet and as the deranged psychopath she obviously is.

Buy it here - Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly - Digitally Remastered [DVD] [1970] - or watch it below.

Friday, 1 December 2017

The Drought

J.G. Ballard
Triad Granada

The world is threatened by dramatic climate change in this highly acclaimed and influential novel, one of the most important early works by the bestselling author of 'Cocaine Nights' and 'Super-Cannes'. Water. Man's most precious commodity is a luxury of the past. Radioactive waste from years of industrial dumping has caused the sea to form a protective skin strong enough to devastate the Earth it once sustained. And while the remorseless sun beats down on the dying land, civilisation itself begins to crack. Violence erupts and insanity reigns as the remnants of mankind struggle for survival in a worldwide desert of despair.

I've read one and a bit Ballards before this, a novella called 'Running Wild' and an aborted attempt at an audiobook version of 'The Drowned World' which I didn't take to or rather I didn't take to the reader.  Recently though two events coincided, I finally got round to watching 'High Rise' and then two days later I stumbled across a huge stack of his books in a charity shop.  Of them all this is the one that spoke loudest to me and so I dove straight in.

In contrast to that previous novel here it's lack of water that's the problem as the worlds oceans have, as a result of pollution, acquired a 'skin' which retards rainfall and causes an apocalyptic worldwide drought.  Through this increasingly parched world we follow Dr Charles Ransom as he drifts from his home to the coast and back again.  Along the way we meet various eccentrics all of whom adapt to the increasingly brutal world in their own idiosyncratic ways.  In many ways I was reminded of the oddball Spike Milligan movie 'The Bed Sitting Room' as a cast of larger than life characters pantomime the creations of their new, flawed and doomed societies amidst the salty bones of the old one.

It made for a fascinating read.  I found myself losing track of the characters occasionally and the plot is thin to say the least but this is very much a character piece and watching the cold and detached Ransom retain his self in the face of the violent, the venal and the insane in a brutal new world was compelling.

Buy it here -  The Drought