Horror Anthologies You May Have Missed

Greetings, Glancers! Here in The Spac Hole, a place of ambiguous terror and self-disgust, Halloween is our favourite time of the year. What could be better than lighting fireworks inside your neighbour’s house, waiting for them to run outside, and launching a live Alligator at them? It’s all in the festive spirit I’m sure you’ll agree. I admit it’s getting tiresome trying to think of interesting things to post about at this time of the year, beyond the usual lists I’ve already published and more and more horror movie reviews. I was listening to an old episode of the Shock Waves Podcast recently (it’s a podcast by four mega horror fans within the movie industry and features regular special guests) in which they discussed building the perfect horror anthology from existing movies. Each presenter picked five segments and a wraparound, and hijinks were had. At the end of the episode, they talked about possibly doing the same, but with Horror TV instead of movies.

That got me thinking about may of the shows I used to watch and continue to watch. The anthology series, even ones concerning scares, have been around since the 1950s and continue to this day. We all have our favourites, and there are many obvious ones – The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Masters Of Horror, Are You Afraid Of The Dark, Goosebumps etc. Many of these are excellent introductions to the wider genre for kids or newbs, while others are surely catered towards the hardcore fan. Today, we have the likes of The TerrorBlack Mirror, Channel Zero, and (if you’re stretching the terminology) American Horror Story, but what about the shows which may have escaped your clutches? Us horror fans are always looking for the next thrill, the next scare, and it shouldn’t matter if this involves looking across the oceans, or back in time.

As a non-American, I have been exposed to some shows which many of my readers may not be aware of, but all that is about to change. Check out the list below, or even better, find and watch the shows. Then tell your friends. Spread the disease. There’s something here for everyone – for kids and newbs, for hardcore fans, for those who love the supernatural, those who prefer their horror with a touch of realism, and those looking for something more… out there. Give them a shot.

Out There (2001-2002)

See what I did there? Almost certainly no-one outside of Britain will be aware of this, and almost certainly only about twelve people watched it – myself included (religiously). I’m cheating considerably with this entry, but it’s nevertheless a show I’d love more people to see. It is essentially a 30 minute clip show, showcasing snippets of gore, sex, and weirdness from movies and TV shows from around the world, all hosted in a non-narrative by the gorgeous animal lover Anneka Svenska and later, all round horror bad-ass Emily Booth. It was a British Elvira, but much much weirder. It was one of those shows that had me grabbing the pen and paper, taking notes of all the weird shit I had seen, then trying to hunt done the source material online the next day. There’s sadly very little of the show to be found online now, but those of us who saw it can consider ourselves both very very lucky, and quite badly scarred.

Beyond The Walls (2015)

Over to France now, for a nifty little show I believe you can catch now on Shudder. I’m being loose with the definition of Anthology again, but there you have it. It’s really a Haunted House mini-series – three episodes, meaning you can get through the whole thing in no time. And it would be a good use of your time, because aside from the interesting story (which follows Lisa – a lonely woman who inherits a house from a man who she has never met, and who has been dead for thirty years), it looks stunning and packs in a lot of ideas in its short running time.

Chiller (1995)

One of the first British anthology shows I remember watching, Chiller ran for a single series and featured a mere five episodes. Luckily, each of them is strong and feature the likes of ghost babies, curses, not so imaginary friends, and serial killers. My memories of the first two episodes – Prophecy and Toby are the strongest – not bad for shows I haven’t seen in over twenty years. In Prophecy, a group of friends perform a seance and each receive a prophecy, which then start coming true in deadly fashion, while in Toby a woman loses her unborn son in a car accident but continues to display signs of a phantom pregnancy, all the way up to birth. The show features British stalwarts like Martin Clunes (Men Behaving Badly), Nigel Havers (Chariots Of Fire), Sophie Ward (Return To Oz), John Simm (Life On Mars), and Peter Egan (Downton Abbey). You can buy the series on DVD and catch some of them on Youtube. Incidentally, the BBC had a similar show around the same time called Ghosts, but I don’t recall it and will have to track it down.

Dr Terrible’s House Of Horrible (2001)

Once you get past the horrible, terrible name, this is a decent show. Obviously, the name is a spoof and once you realise that this is a Steve Coogan vehicle, you’ll understand we’re firmly in the comedy realm. It’s another show which only ran for one series, starring Steve Coogan as Dr Terrible (and others) who presents each tale in the vein of the Cryptkeeper. Each episode is a loving, spoofing riff on British anthology classics from the likes of Hammer and Amicus and each features actors from those classic productions, as well as modern fans like Mark Gatiss and Simon Pegg. It’s a who’s who of the last 100 years of British Cult Cinema. While it rarely gets scary or disturbing, it’s a must for horror fans – especially of those films being spoofed – the love is authentic, and the laughs are hearty.

Eerie, Indiana (1991-1992)

So, I’m guessing most of you know this. It’s ostensibly a show for kids – I watched it upon release and have loved it ever since – but there are enough knowing nods to classics for adults and experienced horror fans to enjoy. For my money, it was one of the first kids shows to also appeal to adults. Look at Cinema and TV now – almost everything is catered to such a wide audience. It’s a shame the original series didn’t run for more series – you know the writers were setting things up for future shows – recurring guest stars, expanding mythology, but sadly it was all abandoned for an ill-advised follow up series a few years later. Joe Dante’s creative touch is all over it, there are a myriad of in-jokes and guest stars you’ll recognise, but most importantly – the stories are unique, varied, entertaining, and spooky enough for kids without treating kids like idiots. We have kids being sucked into TVs, dogs trying to take over the world, sentient cash machines, other dimensions, commercialist zombies, tornado chasers, lonely artistic kids, and ghost organ transplants. Great performances all around too – a rarity for a show like this.

Fear Itself (2008)

Masters Of Horror is one of the modern titans of the Anthology with a terrific idea – take some of the world’s most renowned directors within the genre and give them free reign to create their own mini-movie. It lasted for two seasons and the DVD boxsets are some of the finest examples of the craft. It was unfortunate when the show ended (it’s surely time for a revamp now that horror on TV is more prevalent and we have a new crop of young Masters to get involved), but series creator and horror icon Mick Garris wasn’t ready to let it die yet. Fear Itself is basically the third Season of Masters Of Horror, with returning and new masters contributing again. While the quality isn’t as strong, it’s still a damn good show, pushing the envelope with what can be done with the medium and showcasing a tonne of gore and scares. For whatever reason, it wasn’t as successful as its older brother and only lasted for thirteen episodes – five of which ended up not being shown in the US. Luckily you can buy the boxset on DVD and dive back in. It’s a lot of fun, some episodes are more comedy based, some are psychological, while others go right for the jugular.

Hammer House Of Horror (1980)

Hammer is one of the most renowned producers of Horror in film history and at the end of the peak of their powers they branched into Television. It’s another show which only lasted 1 Season – thirteen episodes (what is it about that number?) – but those episodes are exactly what you would expect from the Company – sex and violence and creepy old mansions. A lot of British stars of the time show up in stories concerning time-travelling witches, Nazi experiments, upper class cannibals, human sacrifice, Pierce Brosnan, and of course, staples (Satan – one for older readers, that wee joke). There have been various DVD and Blu Ray releases, the Horror Channel in the UK shows them every so often, and a few episodes can be found lurking on Youtube, so there’s no excuse not to indulge in some classic creaky horror.

Inside No. 9 (2014 -)

I’ve spoken about this one before (in this best Christmas episodes post) but it’s a show that is still not widely seen. It’s always something which has irked me when inferior British shows get widespread publicity across the seas and stuff like this is overlooked. It’s a thirty minute anthology show – different stories each episode but with some overlapping cast members, with a focus on intelligent writing, horror, humour, and an interesting setting. The set up is that each story should be set in or based around the Number 9 – as in House #9, or train carriage #9 etc. So far there have been four seasons, and there is an upcoming Halloween Special this year – given the writers’ and performers’ love of horror and skill within the genre, it’s one to look forward to. Guest stars include – Gemma Arterton, Sheridan Smith, Jack Whitehall, Tamsin Greig, David Warner, Rory Kinnear, Kevin Eldon, Jane Horrocks, Danny Baker, Peter Kay, and many many more. While most of the stories are heavily influenced by the macabre – a dying child’s last wish, a silent episode featuring bungling burglars and murder, child abuse exposed during a game of sardines, crumbling relationships – it’s the overt horror stories which horror fans will be most interested. Here you will find stories based around snuff movies, witch trials, devil worship, suicide support lines, seance, torture rooms, and Final Destination esque games of fate. If you like your humour dark and your horror original, then you have no excuse to not watch these now.

Mr Biffo’s Found Footage (2017)

You may not be prepared for this. In fact, I know for a fact that you are not. I’m going to give a link to the first one – they’re all on YouTube – and you can decide for yourself if it’s for you. It’s definitely for me, but unfortunately that means only about twelve other people will find it ‘suitable’. No spoilers – just watch.

Night Gallery (1969 – 1973)

I’ll again assume that most people reading this actually know this one, but it’s still not as well or widely known as The Twilight Zone, even though it’s essentially a sequel to that grandest of shows. While it wasn’t as successful or as culturally significant, it still lasted for three seasons and featured Rod Serling presenting more stories to keep you awake at night. While still morality and twist based, Night Gallery tended towards a horror slant while The Twilight Zone’s scary episodes were sporadic. As you would expect, the prolific Serling wrote many of the stories but it also featured adaptations of Lovecraft, Bloch, and Matheson. There’s a great selection of tales here, expertly acted out by many familiar faces like Edward G Robinson, Carl Reiner, John Carradine, Leslie Nielsen, David McCallum, Adam West, and other big names of the time. While time has proven that the stories may not be as immediately terrifying as they once were, they’re perfect for cuddling up on the sofa for family viewing to introduce a younger audience to the genre’s classics.

Shockers (1999-2000)

Full disclosure – this entry is the main reason for writing this post. As I was listening to the Shock Waves podcast earlier (along with others, and blogs, and discussions) I remembered this show – and one episode in particular. I think when it comes to anthologies, we all have that one entry which sucks us in and makes us lifelong fans of the format, whether that be Burgess Meredith breaking his glasses in The Twilight Zone, Karen Black being terrorized by a dummy in Trilogy Of Terror, or even the monkey’s paw from The Simpsons. I was a fan of the format long before I saw Shockers, but it was the episode named Parent’s Night which has stayed with me perhaps more than any other segment I’ve ever seen. If there’s any purpose to this post, it’s a hope that someone will go online and watch this episode – consider it my seal of approval, but also beware that it may fuck you up.

Shockers is a show you never hear of or read about in any anthology discussions. While none of the episodes are on par with Parent’s Night, a few of them are very good and all are watchable. There isn’t any linking or central theme or premise behind the stories, aside from them all being set in a modern, realistic Britain and them being presented as written by future stars. As for the cast – you’ll recognise a few of them – Daniel Craig, Lennie James, Kerry Fox, Ashley Walters, and a host of other British familar faces. As far as I can tell, there were only six episodes – if you live in the UK you can catch them all on Demand 4, if you’re outside of the UK some of them are on YouTube, including (most importantly) Parent’s Night. As there’s only six, I can give a a rundown of each:

In Cyclops, a prisoner has a camera implanted in his eye upon release to watch his every move. In The Visitor, a charismatic stranger turns up at the house of a couple and their friend, while in The Dance a widower falls for a younger woman at a dance class who may not be what she seems. Deja Vu is about a husband and wife who lost their son in a car crash, but then another car crash changes things, while Ibiza sees a typical lads holiday to the island turn to a deadly game of mystery and murder. Yet it is Parent’s Night that I want everyone who reads this to watch. It’s…. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was released when I was still in school and when certain recent school shootings were still in the public eye. It’s a vital piece of art which is sadly all the more powerful now, especially in the US. Although the climates and cultures of our two nations are very different, bullying and anger are universal. In my country, we have several groups who have no issue, at least historically, in blowing each other to hell yet thankfully guns in schools are not really a problem. We may live in a warzone, but at least we don’t go that far. Still, when I watched Parent’s Night, I was blown away and it remains the only time I’ve ever stood up and applauded something I’ve seen on TV. I hadn’t seen it in 17 or 18 years – since it was released, but in preparation for this post I watched it again, and it is still as haunting, stomach-churning, horrible, and sadly realistic as ever. It’s a near perfect view of what School could sometimes be like. I should stop prattling on about it – if you’ve ever valued my opinion on TV or Movies, then when I say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen, you should know to check it out. Click right here to watch on YouTube.

The Nightmare Room/The Haunting Hour (2001 – 2014)

We need something to calm us down after that. When I was a kid in the 90s we had Goosebumps and Are You Afraid Of The Dark? It turns out R.L Stine kept ’em coming, and in The Nightmare Room he made a follow-up series. It only lasted one season, but its thirteen (of course) episodes feature many a big name – Shia Labeouf, Frankie Muniz, Robert Englund, Angus Scrimm, Ken Foree, Josh Zuckerman, Amanda Bynes, and um… Allison Mack. Not content, Stine returned with The Haunting Hour which was more successful and ran for four seasons. The cool thing about The Haunting Hour is that it is much darker and graphic than the other two – it’s still for kids, older kids, but it definitely has an edge. Once again, a bunch of pretty teens who have gone on, or are currently on the hunt for greater fame, make an appearance, but I’m not as au fais with this bunch.

Thriller (US and UK 1960s and 1970s)

Two unrelated shows here, and neither have anything to do with Michael Jackson prancing his way up into yo’ bidness. The US show was a response to The Twilight Zone and saw Boris Karloff in the Serling role. While it’s not as strong as TTZ, it thankfully does feature stories written on directed by Ida Lupino, Robert Bloch, Arthur Hiller, Richard Matheson, and has many of the biggest stars of the time and the future (past) such as Shatner and other TTZ stalwarts. The British show came around a decade later and ran for six seasons. As with almost all these shows, it has a semi-iconic intro theme and title sequence. This show focused less on the supernatural and more on murder and mystery with people such as Robert Powell, Dennis Waterman, Helen Mirren, Haley Mills, Jenny Agutter, Francesca Annis, Stephen Rea, Denholm Elliot, Bob Hoskins, and many many others popping up.

Urban Gothic (2000)

My final choice popped up around the same time as Shockers – this being Channel 5’s attempt at late night anthology horror. The problem with the show was always that the running time didn’t allow the ideas to be fully fleshed – some ideas seemed ripe for either better writing or a 60 minute show instead of the 30 given. The cool thing about some of the stories though was that they had sequels or featured overlapping characters – it would have been nice to see this expanded beyond the two seasons which we ended up with. Once again you can catch these on DVD or some on YouTube to find out for yourself. Some highlights include Ingrid Pitt playing herself, Dirty Den essentially playing himself, necromancy, vampires, gangsters, zombies, serial killers in reality shows, all set in a by and large realistic view of British City life. My person favourite was always Be Movie, in which a group of school kids in detention find themselves stalked by a killer, yet if they try to leave the school… their heads explode. Just like my school then.

Which of these are you going to check out? Are there any forgotten anthology shows you want to raise awareness on? Which shows and episodes are your favourites? Let us know in the comments!

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The Walking Dead – Unpublished Screenplay 6

EXT. PRISON. DAY

CARL: Look at the flowers, just look at the flowers!

SOPHIA: Why do you keep saying that?

CARL: Cos they’re so pretty. I mean, look at them!

SOPHIA: Carl, there aren’t very many others boys around anymore, and I was wondering. Would you like to be my boyfriend?

CARL: A pansy, a lovely tulip, and ooh look! A sweet pea! I think I’m going to sew this one into my one of a kind, Italian silk, moody, sunkist cravat. Sorry, what were you saying?

SOPHIA: Never mind.

The Walking Dead – Unpublished Screenplay 5

INT. A SLAUGHTERHOUSE. DAY

A group of cannibals have tied up our heroes and are about to cut their throats.

GARETH: Any last words before, heh heh, dinner?

OLD MAN HERSHEL: Our father, who art in heaven…

GARETH: Oh please, ‘your God’ can’t help you now. Anyone else?

RED SHIRT: Please, I don’t want to die!

GARETH: How uninspiring – slice this guy’s throat already.

In a twelve minute scene, the Red Shirt is skinned alive, has his throat cut, is chopped into pieces, then Gareth dances the Macarena wearing Red Shirt’s skin.

RICK GRIMES: I promise I’m going to kill you.

GARETH: Oh really? If this guy’s God can’t kill me, how do you expect to?

A sudden THUNDERBOLT shoots from the SKY and torches GARETH and the other baddies. They are now dead.

OLD MAN HERSHEL: For ever and ever. Amen.

RICK GRIMES: Oh Lord, why hast thou forsaken me!

The Walking Dead – Unpublished Screenplay 4

INT. AN ABANDONED WAREHOUSE. NIGHT

GLEN: So that’s the plan – I’ll sneak around the back and make a bit of a ruckus to distract the biters, then you come around from the other side and grab the big box of food, got it?

RICK GRIMES: Sure thing, skip. Lets – AGH! ARRGGH! Something’s biting me!

GLEN: It’s fine, your shirt just got caught on the sharp edge of a wooden crate

RICK GRIMES: No, I’ve been infected! Quick, hack off my arm before I become a zombie!

GLEN: No, you’re going to be – oh, alright then.

The Walking Dead – Unpublished Screenplay 3

EXT. A FIELD INSIDE A PRISON. DAY

OLD MAN HERSHEL: Now listen up, everyone. The Lord has felt it necessary to wreak this plague upon us to shame us for our iniquities, but while we still live we need to prepare for the fut- Rick, what on Earth are you doing?

RICK GRIMES: Handstands.

OLD MAN HERSHEL: Han- why are you doing handstands? We’re having a serious discussion about farming, and irrigation, and such.

RICK GRIMES: Yeah I know but, handstands are much more fun. Look – weeeeee!

OLD MAN HERSHEL: Rick, that is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever – it does look kinda neat though. Let me try. Weeeeeee!

The Walking Dead – Unpublished Screenplay 2

EXT. A CREEPY WOOD. DAY

RICK GRIMES: Sigh. Another awful day in the zombie apocalypse. I wonder if anything interesting will happen today

MICHONNE: Stop right there, white boy, befo I chop off yo head!

RICK GRIMES: Oh, hello. Pleasant day we’re having, isn’t it.

MICHONNE: Da fuq you talkin’ bout? Can’t you see I got this big ass sword and these two jawless biters tied to me?

RICK GRIMES: Yes ma’am, you said it! Another glorious day in the zombie apocalypse. (Singing) ‘Sunshine, lollipops, and – zombies – everything that’s do-bee-do-bee-la-dee-da-dee-bee together!

MICHONNE: Dis bitch be cray…

Neighbours – Bonus Post 6

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Happy 2018 everyone! By the time you read this of course it’ll probably be closer to 2019, but as I write this on the 11th of January, Neighbours has just recently returned to our screens. If you followed my previous posts, you’ll know I started watching the show again after being excited about the Dee returning storyline. That story and its repercussions dominated much of 2017 and in the final episode of the year, as Toadie and Sonia renewed their marriage vows, someone watched from the shadows – is it fake Dee, or could it actually be real Dee? Elsewhere we’ve had dead old Scottish guys, uncomfortable prancing cupids, kidnapped babies, and Elly struggling to keep her clitoris in check. Yes, it’s just another ordinary week on Ramsey Street! Rumours and confirmations that a number of key figures will be leaving this year, so expect some new faces too – that dreaded curse of ‘what do we do with the teens once they finish school’ continues. Lets take a look back at some golden oldies.

Todd Landers – Kristian Schmid – 1988 – 1992

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Significant Others: Katie Landers. Hope Gottlieb. Beverly Marshall. Phoebe Bright.

Todd and his sister Katie were among the first ‘orphans’ on the street, taken in by other relatives in Erinsborough due to issues at home. In all honesty I don’t remember much about Todd, except for somehow convincing myself when I was younger that he was played by Christian Slater –  no idea why. My greatest memory of him is of course his death – being hit by a van when trying to catch up to Phoebe as she was on her way to have an abortion. I remember this being one of the first switcheroos I’d experienced, as he woke up in hospital, apparently fine, then died moments later. Neighbours would pull the same stunt with my beloved Cody a few years later.

Where Are They Now:

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In the dirt, though he did return as a ghost shortly after dying. We’re still waiting for Hope, his daughter, to make an appearance, though she did of course return for Neighbours Vs Zombies. Schmid has maintained his acting career, appearing in The Tomorrow People, Sea Patrol, and can currently be seen in Home And Away.

Lori Lee – Michelle Ang – 2002 – 2004

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Significant Others: Jack Scully. Connor O’Neill. Michelle Scully. Taj Coppin. Nina Tucker. Madeleine Lee. The Kennedys.

Oh man, I loved Lori Lee. She was one of my favourite smaller characters of the time and of course I had a bit of a crush. She first appeared as Jack Scully’s girlfriend, but it was her one night stand with Connor which brought their daughter into the world. The enduring question from all of this is how the hell Connor had relationships with so many hot women. My biggest memory of her is of course her slipping at the pool.

Where Are They Now:

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Lori left with Maddie in 2004, with Connor keeping in touch. When Connor returned to the show in 2012 he let us know that Lori had recently been married and that he was going to move closer to her to spend more time with Maddie. It seems unlikely she’ll return after 14 years, but the time is ripe for Maddie to make an appearance now as a new regular teen. I may have literally screamed when I saw that Michelle Ang joined Fear The Walking Dead – spoiler alert – she only appeared in a couple of episodes and wasn’t shown being killed – she could yet make a return there, or even better on The Walking Dead itself. She’s appeared in some other notable movies and shows too – The Taking Of Deborah Logan, Top Of The Lake for example.

Joe Mangel – Mark Little – 1988 – 1991 (2005)

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Significant Others: The Mangels. Kerry Bishop. Melanie Pearson.

Joe Mangel for me was the prototype Australian man. When I was young if someone asked me to think of someone from Australia, I thought of Crocodile Dundee and Joe Mangel. While they’re both drenched in cliche, it doesn’t make their characters any less true. Joe was a beer-drinking, easy going bloke’s bloke but still had a soft hart. Joe was involved in one of the show’s most famous moments when his wife Kerry was shot and killed but I mostly remember him for his relationship with the ever-laughing Melanie.

Where Are They Now:

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Joe left the show with Melanie and Sky, leaving son Toby behind for some reason, only to return to Australia and re-connect. By the time Joe came back for the 20th Anniversary show, he and Melanie had divorced. Joe was one of a handful of characters who returned for multiple episodes in 2005, sparking a potential relationship with Lyn Scully before leaving again. I’m not sure if he has been mentioned again in the years since, but it seems likely given his ties to the street. Mark Little has stated he doesn’t want to come back to the show and outside of Neighbours he has remained popular in Britain, appearing on The Big Breakfast, The Wright Stuff, and multiple pantos. He did narrate the 30th Anniversary documentary, so maybe he has softened his stance and could return.

Sky Mangel – Stephanie McIntosh (Miranda Fryer) – 1998 – 1991, 2003 – 2007 (2015)

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Significant Others: Joe Mangel. Harold Bishop. Serena Bishop. Boyd Hoyland. Dylan Timmons. Stingray. Lana Crawford.

I don’t remember much about Sky from first time around, but when she returned she quickly became a fan favourite. She had an independent and rebellious streak which set he at odds with her Grandfather Harold, but they quickly fell into a cozy relationship. Speaking of relationships, she had a few during the time on her street, including the first same-sex kiss in the show, shared with Lana Crawford. Sky continued an on-off relationship with Boyd, but eventually has a baby with Dylan (though there was some uncertainty over whether Dylan or Stingray was the daddy). She eventually moves away to Port Douglas and in her brief 2015 return she convinces Harold to come join her.

Where Are They Now:

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Presumably still in Port Douglas with her children and Harold. I’m not sure if Dylan is there too… or Boyd. There’s every opportunity she could return, and all the more likely one of the Bishops will return given it’s been a few years since we’ve had one on the street. Sky could come back with her kids, or one of the kids could come back now they’d be in their early teens. McIntosh has not appearing in much since leaving the show – a couple of interesting little known films and her own reality show, as well as releasing a moderately successful album.

Let us know in the comments what your memories of these Neighbours icons are and who you would like to see returning to Ramsey Street!

TTT – Top Twenty Five Christmas Specials/TV Episodes

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Greetings, Glancers! I’m back again to lovingly twist tinsel around your throats and tug until your baubles burst – in other words – to make you read these words about Christmas. If you liked my Christmas songs post, you should seek counsel with your local priest or GP promptly, but while you wait, why not make things considerably worse for yourself by browsing this post too? What’s the worst that could happen?

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Ah.. yes…

In case you didn’t know by now- I love Christmas. I love the TV, I love the atmosphere, I love the presents. I may be in my thirties, but some childhood traditions never go away – I still get the Christmas TV times and highlight all the TV shows and movies I want to watch or record. One of the things I loved most when younger was getting off school in the run up to the big day, and planning out my day of watching – waking up to catch a few 7.00 am cartoons, then seeing which movie I could watch in bed before breakfast. Even on Christmas Day, I would switch on the TV in my room while going through my stocking – Channel 4 always had the best stuff.

As much as the internet is populated with all the classic American TV specials – The Grinch, Charlie Brown etc – those never entered my Northern Ireland childhood in any real sense. I saw them, but they seemed too cutesy or foreign and as such were not deemed required annual viewing. Much of my list consists of shows which were force fed by my family or which I found myself returning to each year by myself once I gained such critical faculties. Don’t worry US readers – there’s a lot more American content here than there was in my TTT Christmas songs list.

I was too young for a lot of the more traditional British Christmas specials – Morecambe and Wise, The Two Ronnies etc, and I won’t be including any soaps, even if Eastenders and Coronation Street have both had their fair share of memorable one-offs. Remember that time when Bradley fell off the roof, or when Archie was done in by Queen Victoria? No, neither do I. No, old soap episodes aren’t the sort of thing you watch each year as they are ever replaced by new episodes, the Langoliers munching up all that has come before. No game shows or compilation clips shows either, both stalwarts of December viewing – sorry QI and It’ll Be Alright On The Night. Also, The Office will not appear in any guise. Because Ricky Gervais is a dick. Finally (finally!) there’s no ranking because I can’t be arsed.

Alan Partridge – Knowing Me, Knowing Yule

For whatever reason, I never saw much, or any of Alan Partridge in my formative years. It was around the age of 18 that I started watching the odd episode here and there before blasting through it all a few years later. In this episode, Alan is hosting his very own special festive edition of his show and invites guests including a devout Christian lady, a Carry On style innuendo spouter, and the disappointed and increasingly angry Chief Commissioner of the BBC, setting up nicely for the following Partridge series. The format is essentially the same as the others – Alan awkwardly interviewing increasingly ridiculous guests and trading insults, but with a nice Christmas backdrop and theme, and a slightly longer running time.

Beavis And Butt-head

Beavis And Butt-head had the occasional special episode during their run, and while many of the entries on my list are satires on British culture, this one is of course US aimed. That’s not to say it isn’t universal, or at least understandable in Western White culture. There’s A Very Special Christmas With Beavis And Butt-head – the name itself a send up, which sees the useless pair watch a bunch of Christmas songs on TV. It isn’t that exciting an episode, but as always their reactions are amusing and they do get to sing along near the end. Due to those pesky copyright laws, this one is very difficult to find in its original form.

The second episode(s) is Beavis And Butt-head Do Christmas. It’s split into the usual two separate episodes, this time linked with a festive theme. Huh Huh Humbug is another version of A Christmas Carol – but don’t worry, there is absolutely no moral here. Beavis falls asleep while his boss lectures him, and dreams that he is in fact the boss. While trying to watch Porn, he is visited by Ghost Butt-head and a bunch of other familiar faces who show him his past, present, and future – the past being particularly funny. The plot doesn’t go anywhere, but they never do. The second one is It’s A Miserable Life and it has a little more story, with Butt-head being visited by his guardian angel who shows him how wonderful life in town would be without Butt-head messing it up. Again it’s funny seeing the little twists within the world – Stuart and Beavis are now best friends and it seems like Beavis has sunk to Stuart’s level by wearing a Winger shirt – the horror. These ones always take me back to my pre-teen and early teen years and still get a chuckle.

Bottom – Holy

Bottom is one of my favourite sitcoms of all time, with two performers and writers at the top of their game, bringing the unfocused anarchy of their 80s work into the self-referential 90s. Aside from being about getting drunk, ‘doing it’, and slapstick ultra violence, the show has always skewered everything from British traditions to the sitcom format itself.

While Bottom also features a fantastic Halloween themed episode, it’s Holy which really gets the juices going, literally at times. Richie and Eddie, the Hammersmith Hardmen, are trying to celebrate Christmas with Richie in usual jubilant, devoutly English form and Eddie simply wanting to get pissed and watch Goldfinger. We have the unwrapping and sharing of presents, hope and disappointment in unequal measure, charades, Christmas Dinner mishaps (including the hilarious loss of a finger and even more hilarious fixing of said finger),  and even a Christmas miracle. It’s one of the finest British comedy episodes of all time and it’s the one which is most quoted by me in the run up to, and on the big day itself. Has heeeee been?

Buffy The Vampire Slayer – Amends

I talked about this episode in my Season Three Buffy Review so I won’t go into details here other than to say that this isn’t your traditional, drop in and watch, episode. There’s a lot of back story going on, as well as plenty of foreshadowing, but if you’ve seen the whole show a few times then you’ll be fine. The story follows Angel still trying to readjust to life on Earth once more, while being tormented by visions of The First Evil, showing his past brutality and encouraging him to kill himself, or kill Buffy. Buffy, meanwhile is trying to host a normal, family Christmas dinner and invites Faith along. If you’re not a Buffy fan it won’t mean a lot to you, but it’s a nice change of pace from the centrally comic or horror themed episodes.

Friends

Being (one of) the biggest show(s) of the decade, Friends was obliged to have a variety of Holiday Specials – Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Years, Christmas are all covered. There are a few Christmas episodes, as well as other which were filmed around that time of the year and feature New York in all its snowy glory, so you have a few to choose from. In The One With Phoebe’s Dad, the gang are off doing different Christmasy things – Joey and Chandler leave their shopping too late, Monica is on selfish baking mode, Ross and Rachel fight while the heating is off, and Phoebe drives to meet her father. In The One Where Rachel Quits, Rachel quits, Joey gets a job selling Christmas trees, Phoebe witnesses a tree massacre, and Ross helps a scout after breaking her leg. In The One With The Girl From Poughkeepsie Ross is dating two women at the same time and ends up falling asleep on the train and going to Canada, Phoebe is writing a Christmas song, and Monika a Joey scheme to earn respect and money. The one With The Rockin’ New Year’s Eve features some Christmas fun while The Holiday Armadillo is the most famous Christmas episode and features Ross trying to teach his son about Jewish traditions as well as Christmas. Finally, we have The One With The Creepy Holiday Card which sees Ross and Mona’s relationship at breaking point, and The One With Christmas In Tulsa where Chandler is forced to work on Christmas Eve. Watched together, the amount of laughs, nostalgia, and Christmas tone will definitely get you in a festive mood.

Harry Enfield

I could be wrong on this, but I think there were two Christmas episodes in the 90s for Harry Enfield And Chums – it’s difficult given the show hasn’t been released on DVD and it changed its name at least once. These are quite difficult to track down, though you can find it them on Youtube. The shows were sketch based, featuring a wide array of classic characters in various scrapes. The Christmas episodes were extensions of these, with most of the sketches featuring a (mostly very sleight) festive slant both simple characters and those with some sort of progression. Along with this, there was usually a sing-song or longer section such as the characters singing ‘Perfect Day’ or parodying Titanic. There’s were repeated every so often on BBC and now on UK Gold, so catch them to remember a simpler time and some of the based character catchphrases ever.

Inside Number 9

Inside Number 9 is undoubtedly one of the finest TV shows of recent years – an ode to film-making, a love-letter to the creative craft. I know quite a few glancers of this blog are massive movie and TV fans, but may not be as exposed to British Television as those over here. I implore you all to watch this show – if you love horror, comedy, film in general, then this will be a new favourite for you, with the show ranging from gut-wrenching emotional episodes, to horror homages, all down with the typical sadistic wit, love of language, and sinister twists that you would expect from Reece Sheersmith and Steve Pemberton.

For those who don’t know, Inside Number 9 is an anthology programme – each episode featuring a new cast of characters and a new self-contained story, generally set in a single room or location. While the absolutely wonderful The 12 Days Of Christine features Christmas in some key scenes and is referenced in its name, it’s the Series 3 premier The Devil Of Christmas which should be a future viewing tradition. It’s a retro piece, set in the late 70s, and follows a family on a Christmas holiday where one of the locals explains the legend of Krampus. The episode, aside from being a faithful attempt at recalling 70s anthology horror and TV, is very funny, and very dark, and should not be missed. Black Mirror made it big – this should be just as big.

Lost – The Constant

Lost, you say? Lost never had a Christmas episode! Well, you’re wrong, and not only are you wrong but you’ve forgotten the single greatest episode of the series. Not only that, but you’ve forgotten one of the best episodes of any TV show, ever. The Constant culminated in the resolution of many crossover-plots and saw, finally, the happiness of my favourite character on the show. There aren’t enough words I can give to praise this episode – the acting, the writing, the way it all comes together – this is how the series as whole should have ended in terms of quality and tone. While I still enjoyed the last episode, The Constant is the pinnacle of the show. My love for it can be stemmed all the way back to all of those 70s, 80s, 90s cartoons and shows I watched and loved, featuring a person or people trying to find their way home – think Dungeons & Dragons or Quantum Leap or Sliders or Battlestar Galactica. Taken further, it all goes back to my love of The Odyssey – a tale I have been obsessed with my entire life. Hell, lets take it further still and say it’s related to those times I got ‘lost’ as a child and didn’t know how to get home or find my parents. Lost brought this idea into the new millennium, in a time when the world became smaller and there were no more undiscovered lands to explore – The Constant wringing out emotion, drama, adventure, tension, romance, time-travel, parallel balls, and all the rest of it into a single satisfying whole.

Christmas though? Yes, because Desmond has to make the call to Penny on Christmas Eve to let her know… well, I don’t want to get into the plot. This is frankly impossible to watch unless you’ve followed the show from episode 1, closely. Even watching as a standalone when you’ve seen the series before is difficult because you’ll miss most of the intricacies and details and will likely forget many of the more minor characters and references. However, if you’re a superfan, then this makes for excellent Christmas viewing and will warm your heart and make you believe in miracles.

Merry Christmas, Mr Bean

Out of all the shows on my list, Mr Bean is the one my kids have watched most regularly at the time of writing. I try to get them to watch this around Christmas each year, but they prefer the one where ‘Mr Bean shows his bum to all the little kids’. Their words, not mine. Merry Christmas, Mr Bean has a load of iconic and hilarious moments – the most famous of which is of course that Turkey on the head scene. The episode follows Mr. Bean preparing for the big day by doing a spot of shopping. His girlfriend drops hints that she wants a ring, a proposal, leading to much hilarity later on, while Bean messes around with a Nativity scene, leads a Brass Band, raises money for charity, and steals a tree. In the second half he decorates his house, posts a card to himself (which always makes my eldest laugh), makes a hash of Christmas dinner, and designs his own cracker. Mr. Bean is one of my oldest and most most favourite series and another which never fails to warm my soul.

Only Fools And Horses

I’m not even going to bother listing the various Christmas themed episodes for Only Fools And Horses…. incidentally, for any of my US glancers – are you even aware of half these shows? What British shows did you get (before the days of downloading and streaming and Kodi etc) on your shores years ago? A lot of these probably don’t translate well, but if Monty Python gets an audience worldwide then I don’t see why others can’t. Out of all the shows on my list, this is likely the biggest British institution. There have been a whopping sixteen Christmas episodes, starting in 1981, and ending in 2003. The ones I am most familiar with are the ones in the 90s, coincidentally around the time I started watching the show, having previously dismissed it as grimy and depressing. Namely, the 1996 Christmas Trilogy which sees Del Boy and Rodney dressing up as Batman and Robin and then, finally, becoming millionaires. It’s classic British humour, but it helps to have a history with the characters before indulging.

Peppa Pig

Peppa and pals have been around for years now, and with each new generation parents get roped in to watching and end up realising that it’s actually really good. I mean, it doesn’t have the same invention as Ben And Holly but it’s more of a family show. There are now a whole host of holiday themed or one-off Peppa episodes, but the Christmas ones were among the first. Peppa’s Christmas was the first episode to run longer than five minutes, and sees Peppa having to remember what all of her friends want from Santa – then he pops in to say hello. Later on the show started doing multi-episodes where the story followed on from the previous episode – we have one where the family visits a Santa’s grotto followed by an episode where they wake up on Christmas day to see what presents they have, and later still there’s an episode where they see Mr Potato in panto. Due to the short running time you can blast through these quickly, but it’s good to supplement them with some of the snow-themed episodes, like when the family build a snowman, go to a snowy beach, and go skiing. These are great for younger kids and cuddling up to watch and get into the Christmas spirit. At time of writing there is a new Christmas episode coming – by the time I post it should have been shown in the UK.

The Simpsons

What quickly became the Daddy of the festive episode, thanks to the yearly Treehouse Of Horror episodes, and later more regular Christmas episodes. Even though the show is largely unwatchable now, you can still revisit those classics, including the very first episode – Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire. It looks terrible now, but it still sucks you in and avoids a lot of the terrible, flat humour of Season 1 by piling on the charm. I’ll move next onto the least best episode of the classic era of the show – Gift Of The Magi. By this point in the series the scale was tipping over to having more misses than hits, this one following an evil toy company trying to unleash a new must have on citizens. It’s an okay episode, but not one I’d recommend watching every year. I’d say the same about Skinner’s Sense Of Snow except I remember less about it aside from people being trapped in school. There’s also one about Lisa becoming a Buddhist. No, stick with the good ones; Miracle On Evergreen Terrace sees Bart accidentally burning the presents and lying to the town and features the immortal ‘where is Christmas’ line, and the best of the lot, by a huge margin – Marge Be Not Proud. This one nails what it’s like being a boy at Christmas, from putting up with the lovingly bought, but terrible videogames or knock off action figures (I am Carvallo), to jealousy, to wanting to be loved, and all that other junk. This is the one to watch every year. Recent years have seen almost annual Christmas episodes, but I haven’t seen any of those that I’m aware of – I’ll get round to them eventually, but watching the show now is at once a chore, depressing, sad, and infuriating.

The Snowman

What is there to say about this – you have to watch it. Is this a thing in the USA, or anywhere else? Let me know. Like Mr Bean, it’s universal because it’s mostly silent, even though it’s inherently British. Follow it up with Father Christmas and The Snowman And The Snowdog for added points.

Wallace And Gromit

Although none of them are honestly Christmasy, the fact that they were released and are always shown at Christmas means they have become part and parcel of the whole package. You can take your pick of any of them, but you’re best watching them all over a few days – A Grand Day Out, The Wrong Trousers, A Close Shave, A Matter Of Loaf And Death – and while you’re at it, watch a few Timmy Time and Shaun The Sheeps too.

The Vicar Of Dibley

I say this is just as much of a British institution as Only Fools And Horses and any other sitcom which has lasted more than a few years. It is harmless, family oriented humour which anyone can ‘get’ which makes it great for watching with older kids. I hope my kids end up with a similar sense of humour to me, tending towards the zany side, playing with conventions, playing with language, more on the bizarre, non-sequitur side of the scale. The Vicar Of Dibley has just enough of this, mixed with traditional laughs to make it cross borders, and its Christmas episodes work well enough as standalones, though you’re better with a grounding in the characters. There are a few Christmas episodes, the one where Geraldine has to go to all the different meals on the same day, the one where Alice has her baby, the sort of double episode where it’s Geraldine’s 10th year in Dibley and the anniversary of Live Aid.

The League Of Gentlemen – Yule Never Leave

As mentioned above, my sense of humour was waiting for this show to come along. I already loved Bottom and everything Vic & Bob did, and this came along to merge both styles as well as my love of horror. The League Of Gentlemen instantly became my favourite show after its premier, but this Christmas Special is one to whip out and return to thanks to its anthology nature. Sure it means more if you know about the characters, but it’s a better choice to watch on the spur of the moment than any other episode as the series was fairly plot heavy.

I love anthology series and movies, and in this special episode, the Vicar is trying to have a bit of peace at Christmas but is disturbed by three visitors, each with their own macabre tale – the highlight of which is the Herr Lipp story. If you want to laugh your balls off this Christmas, this is the one to watch – I highly recommend you watch the series from beginning as it’s an all time great. Even better is that we’re getting new episodes this year as part of the 20th anniversary!

The Royle Family

This was grabbing all the headlines around the time The League Of Gentlemen first came out, and as such it was like Oasis Verses Blur all over again. I didn’t watch the show for quite some time, and the pieces I saw of it, all the slow panning cameras of people sitting, eating, yawning, scratching themselves, pissed me off. When I finally did watch, I began to appreciate it. I mean, I still hate all that slow panning stuff and the repetition, but I love the characters and the dialogue. The series last for three seasons, and had two Christmas episodes, but since the original run it has been brought back a number of times for specific new Christmas episodes. Again, it’s perfect for family viewing, but better suited to having teens in the house as the kids won’t understand any of it. I’m not sure I’ve even watched any of the other later Christmas episodes, but I must do that this year as we won’t be getting any more after the tragic passing of Caroline Ahern.

The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air

The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air remains, well, fresh. It’s still LOL funny today, has more one-liners, yo momma, and fat jokes than anything else, and is still a better written sitcom with more fully formed characters than most around today. It’s one of those shows which influenced me to the point that I can’t answer a simple question without including some sort of joke or sarcasm. I used to tune in to every new episode on BBC 2 and laugh my ass off, and the show still gets regular viewing by me today. The show had a bunch of Christmas episodes – all are worth revisiting in December, from Will decorating the house, to the one where they are robbed, and the one with Boys II Men, or the one where Hilary decides she wants a baby…. or does she?

The Fast Show

The Fast Show was the master of one-liner, catchphrase character based, surreal skits and sketches. It feels weird now looking back at a show which was often based around building up to a certain character saying their unique catchphrase, but the show was so much more than that, creating a world of interesting and weird characters with a wealth of humour and drama. As the name suggests, the show was quick moving, with sketches rarely lasting over a couple of minutes. Everyone had their favourites – while most loved the likes of Ted and Ralph, it was always the weirder side of the scale that I enjoyed – Johnny Nice Painter and the ‘what if you feel down a hole’ guy. Johnny Depp made an appearance, many of the characters featured in spin-offs, other shows, or ended up having their own dedicated series, and it has been brought back for various new series or specials over the years. The Christmas Episode as exactly as you’d expect it – more sketches with the usual suspects, though with a Christmas twist or backdrop. It will either be entirely bewildering to any newcomers watching now, or you’ll be sucked in and left gasping for more – for regular viewers it’s another great one to watch at Christmas for a quick collection of laughs with old favourites. SLAP. IT. IN.

The X Files

Like Lost, you may think it’s a bit strange that a show such as The X Files would contain a Christmas episode. Why not, though? WHY NOT? There are two episodes which overtly features Christmas – in Christmas Carol, the ongoing saga of what happened to Mulder’s sister is avoided and instead we look at Scully’s dead sister Melissa. Melissa had been killed off in an earlier episode, but here, during a Christmas trip with the rest of her family, Scully begins receiving phone calls from a young girl who sounds just like her sister – investigations and twists ensure. It’s not the most festive episode, and you’d need to be a longstanding fan to follow everything, but it’s still good. On the other hand, How The Ghosts Stole Christmas is a monster-of-the-week festive experiment. By this point in the series, the writers were creating more outlandish and unique episodes outside of the main arcs, and this was one of the most popular – I can remember watching this in bed in its original BBC run and chatting about it in school the next day. It’s Christmas Eve again and Mulder ropes Scully into investigating a haunted house – ghostly hijinks ensue in what is simply a good fun romp – its standalone nature makes it a strong candidate for one-off viewing.

3rd Rock From The Sun

I was a huge fan of this during its original British run, but it was one of those shows that no-one else seemed to watch. It was the right mixture of surreal and traditional, the performers were excellent, and the writing and jokes were always top notch. Jolly Old St Dick is probably the best festive episode, with Sally and Harry getting part-time Mall jobs at Christmas, leading to plenty of laughs, Dick being arrested, and Tommy again becoming frustrated with August. Happy New Dick almost qualifies but focuses more on New Year, while Gobble, Gobble, Dick, Dick is based on Thanksgiving.

The Twilight Zone

The Twilight Zone must surely rank as one of the greatest, most rewatchable, and most influential series of all time, and even it was no stranger to the Christmas episode. The Night Of The Meek deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as other Christmas Classics such as A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life, being a hope-based story in the midst of troubling times. It centers on an alcoholic store Santa on Christmas Eve, a well-meaning character who wishes that just for one day all the beaten, downtrodden, and hopeless people he knows could be happy. This being The Twilight Zone, his wish comes true, and for a change there isn’t a stinging twist in the tale. Next up is The Changing Of The Guard in which Donald Pleasance learns on Christmas Eve that his job is going to be given to a younger man, so he contemplates suicide. Enter a guardian angel to show him that this would be a mistake. There are plenty of other episodes of the show which feature snow or moral quandaries suitable for watching at this time of the year, and as always if you’ve never seen the show, there’s no better time to start than today.

South Park

I’m not going to bother listing all the festive or Christmas related shows here – any or all of the Mr Hankey episodes will do nicely here, and most are delightful and hilarious send ups of various tropes and cultural norms.

Spittin’ Christmas

I freely admit that anyone not from Northern Ireland and of a certain age will have no idea what this is. It’s a bit of a cheat given that it’s not actually a TV show, but a comedy recording – I have it on cassette but you can find it on CD or online. What is it? It’s a comedy recording by one John McBlain – a wonderful impersonator from my country whose voices are second to none and whose comedy centers on British and Irish politicians. Even if you listen to it as a non NI person, you’re unlikely to understand the voices never mind the references or know who the various players are, but for me it’s a vital part of Christmas tradition. There are actually two versions of it (at least) – Christmas at Adams’ and Christmas at Paisley’s but they’re essentially the same.

For existing fans of McBlain’s Spittin series, this is a joy – you’l already be familiar with the characters (caricatures of their real life counterparts) – the ultra violent beast Ian Paisley, the cowardly pervert Gerry Fitt, the shit-stirring Adams, John Cole who tries to hold it all together, and many more – even Bill Clinton pops in. They are all getting together for Christmas dinner in one of the homes which Gerry A owns (or should I say frequents, for various reasons) and to have a bit of a chat and a party. Naturally all hell breaks loose, there’s piss in the soup, Robert craps himself, Fitt cuts down a tree and wrecks himself…. yeah, I’m laughing my head off typing this but you are likely losing the will to live. It’s packed with one-liners, hilarious gaffs, great moments, and it’s also fucking disgusting. Click the link above, but be warned, this is racist, sexist, makes jokes about the handicapped, pedophilia, and anything else you could possibly be offended by… but it’s all funs and games.

Warehouse 13

Warehouse 13 is such a wonderful show – it’s the geek show that not even geeks talk about. It’s a lighter take on something like The X Files with a great cast, interesting ideas, lots of sexy ladies and (sort of) lads, and it’s written by Jane Espenson – if you’re not sold, you’re not worth talking to. Basically, there’s a big warehouse in the middle of nowhere which houses mysterious, mystical, and powerful artifacts – items with the ability to stop time, to give super powers, to hurt people etc, and they are typically based on some historical moment or famous person. A group has been protecting these artifacts for hundreds of years, preventing them from doing harm or falling into the wrong hands. Each episode follows a different artifact, though there are larger arcs too. Oh yeah, loads of Buffy people and other famous guest stars pop up too.

Anyway, the show has a couple of Christmas episodes which are, again, best viewed if you’re already a fan but still are entertaining standalones for the uninitiated. Secret Santa sees Claudia trying to reunite Artie with his father, while Myka and Pete investigate a Christmas artifact which seems to be making Santa evil while The Greatest Gift is a little more trippy as Pete accidentally sends himself to a parallel universe where he doesn’t exist and has to convince his friends to save him and send him back. Both episodes are a lot of fun, have plenty of drama, laughs, and Christmas cheer, and are good as an early December entree.

I think that’s enough yapping for now. Even as long as this post was, I’m sure there’s a load of shows and episodes I’ve missed. Let us know in the comments what your favourites are, what your Christmas viewing routine is like, which shows you absolutely couldn’t miss when you were young, and if I don’t speak to you again before the big day – Merry Christmas!

All Reviews A-Z

Here is a thing which I will plan to update each time I add a new review. This should make it easy for anyone who is sufficiently depraved enough to enjoy what I write and craves more. There isn’t a huge amount yet, but I do have a tonne of reviews written years ago for IMDB which I haven’t posted here yet, along with all my other Album reviews for Amazon. This list will grow. For now, click on anything you like!

Movie Reviews

2001 Maniacs – Tim Sullivan

300: Rise Of An Empire – Noam Murro

A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night – Ana Lily Amirpour

A Hard Day – Kim Seong Hun

A Mighty Wind – Christopher Guest

A Nightmare On Elm Street – Wes Craven

A Tale Of Two Sisters – Kim Ji Woon

After The Silence – Fred Gerber

Airwolf – Donald Bellisario

Akira – Katsuhiro Otomo

Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa – Declan Lowney

Alien – Ridley Scott

Aliens – James Cameron

Alien 3 – David Fincher

Arachnophobia – Frank Marshall

Assault On Precinct 13 – John Carpenter

August Rush – Kirsten Sheridan

AWOL – Sheldon Lettich

Bad Lieutenant – Abel Ferrara

Bangkok Dangerous – The Pang Brothers

Baskin – Can Evrenol

Battle Royale – Kinji Fukasaku

Beavis And Butthead – Mike Judge

Beetlejuice – Tim Burton

Bedevilled – Jang Cheol-soo

Benny And Joon – Jeremiah S Chechik

Big Driver – Mikael Salomon

Big Trouble In Little China – John Carpenter

Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey – Peter Hewitt

Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure – Stephen Herek

Black Coal, Thin Ice – Diao Yinan

Blair Witch – Adam Wingard

Bloodsport – Newt Arnold

Bodyguards And Assassins – Teddy Chan

Body Shots – Michael Christofer

Body Snatchers – Abel Ferrara

Braindead – Peter Jackson

Brooklyn Rules – Michael Corrente

Brother – Takeshi Kitano

Bruiser – George A Romero

Cannibal – Manuel Martin Cuenca

Carne – Gaspar Noe

Chasing Amy – Kevin Smith

Chasing Sleep – Michael Walker

Cockneys Vs Zombies – Matthias Hoene

Commando – Mark L Lester

Conan The Barbarian – John Milius

Cronos – Guillermo Del Toro

Cursed – Wes Craven

Cyborg – Albert Pyun

Dark City – Alex Proyas

Dawn Of The Dead – Zack Snyder

Day of The Dead – George A Romero

Daylight – Rob Cohen

Dead Snow – Tommy Wirkola

Death Sentence – James Wan

Death Wish 2 – Michael Winner

Demons – Lamberto Bava

Desperado – Robert Rodriguez

Dial M For Murder – Alfred Hitchcock

Die Another Day – Lee Tamahori

Dirty Pretty Things – Stephen Frears

Disturbia – D.J. Caruso

Dobermann – Jan Kounen

Dogma – Kevin Smith

Donnie Brasco – Mike Newell

Don’t Blink – Travis Oates

Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead – Stephen Herek

Double Impact – Sheldon Lettich

Dr No – Terence Young

Dream Warriors – Chuck Russell

Drug War – Johnie To

Dumb And Dumber – The Farrelly Bros

El Mariachi – Robert Rodriguez

Escape From Sobibor – Jack Gold

Escape Plan – Mikael Hafstrom

Embodiment Of Evil – Jose Marins

Everyone’s Hero – Christopher Reeve, Colin Brady, Daniel St. Pierre

Evil Dead – Fede Alvarez

Final Destination – James Wong

Final Destination 2 – David R Ellis

First Blood – Ted Kotcheff

Fist Of Fury – Bruce Lee

For Your Eyes Only – John Glen

Freddy’s Dead – Rachel Talalay

Freddy’s Revenge – Jack Sholder

Freddy Vs Jason – Ronny Yu

Frenzy – Alfred Hitchcock

From Russia With Love – Terence Young

Game of Death – Bruce Lee/Robert Clouse

God Bless America – Bobcat Goldthwaite

Goldeneye – Martin Campbell

Goldfinger – Guy Hamilton

Goodnight Mommy – Veronika Franz/Severin Fiala

Grave Encounters – The Vicious Brothers

Grave Encounters 2 – John Poliquin

Gravity – Alfonso Cuaron

Halloween – John Carpenter

Halloween 2 and 3 – Rick Rosenthal/Tommy Lee Wallace

Halloween 4 – Dwight H Little

Halloween 5 – Dominique Othenin Gerard

Hard-Boiled – John Woo

Hard Target – John Woo

Hansel And Gretal – Yim Phil-Sung

Heartbreakers – David Mirkin

Heli – Amat Escalante

Hellboy – Guillermo Del Toro

Hellions – Bruce Macdonald

Home Alone – Chris Columbus

Horrible Bosses – Seth Gordon

Ichi – Fumihiko Sori

Ichi The Killer – Takashi Miike

Into The Mirror – Kim Sung Ho

I Really Hate My Job – Oliver Parker

Jaws – Steven Spielberg

Jaws 2 – Jeannot Szwarc

Jaws 3 – Joe Alvez

Jaws 4 – Joseph Sargent

Jurassic Park – Steven Spielberg

Ju-On Black Ghost – Mari Asato

Ju-On White Ghost – Ryuta Miyake

Kickboxer – Mark DiSalle/David Worth

Kids – Larry Clark

Kill Bill Vol 1 – Quentin Tarantino

King Kong – Merian C Cooper/Ernest B Schoedsack

Kingdom Of Heaven – Ridley Scott

Lady Bird – Greta Gerwig

Leon – Luc Besson

Lifeboat – Alfred Hitchcock

Last Action Hero – John McTiernan

Live And Let Die – Guy Hamilton

Loaded – Alan Pao

Lost Highway – David Lynch

Macbeth – Orson Welles

Manuscripts Don’t Burn – Mohammed Rousalof

Milius – Joey Figuero

Mother’s Day – Darren Lynn Bousman

Mouth To Mouth – Alison Murray

Mr And Mrs Smith – Alfred Hitchcock

Never Sleep Again – Daniel Farrands/Andrew Kach

Night Of The Demons – Kevin S Tenney

Night Of The Living Dead – George A Romero

Nowhere To Run – Robert Harmon

On The Road – Walter Salles

Origin: Spirits Of The Past – Keichi Sugiyama

Outrage – Takeshi Kitano

Out Of The Furnace – Scott Cooper

P2 – Frank Khalfoun

Peacock – Michael Lander

Perdita Durango – Alex de la Iglesia

Perlasca – Alberto Negrin

Pieta – Kim Ki Duk

Police Academy 1-7 – Various

Pontypool – Bruce McDonald

Predator 2 – Stephen Hopkins

Priceless – Pierre Salvadori

Problem Child – Dennis Dugan

Project X – Nima Nourizadeh

Q: The Winged Serpent – Larry Cohen

Raw Deal – John Irvin

Red Heat – Walter Hill

Red Sonja – Richard Fleischer

Resident Evil – Paul WS Anderson

Rhapsody In August – Akira Kurosawa

Rings – F.Javier Gutierrez

Rogue – Greg McLean

Room – Lenny Abrahamson

Room 237 – Rodney Ascher

Rosewood Lane – Victor Salva

Rubber – Quentin Dupeiux

Rust And Bone – Jacques Audiard

Sabotage – David Ayer

Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World – Lorene Scafaria

Shanghai Kiss – David Ren/Ken Kernwiser

Society – Brian Yuzna

Sophie Scholl – The Final Days – Marc Rothemond

Staunton Hill – Cameron Romero

Still Walking – Hirokazu Koreeda

Street Trash – Jim Munro

Stripes – Ivan Reitman

Suicide Club – Sion Sono

Sukiyaki Western Django – Takeshi Miike

Survive Style 5 + – Gen Sekiguchi

Ted – Seth MacFarlane

The 39 Steps – Alfred Hitchcock

The Art Of War – Christian Deguay

Thelma And Louise – Ridley Scott

The Birds – Alfred Hitchcock

The Boss Of It All – Lars Von Trier

The Craft – Andrew Fleming

The Crow – Alex Proyas

The Detective – Oxide Pang

The Devil’s Rain – Robert Fuest

The Driver – Walter Hill

The Empress And The Warriors – Ching Siu Tung

The Evil Dead – Sam Raimi

The Evil Dead 2 – Sam Raimi

The Fifth Element – Luc Besson

The First Men In The Moon – Nathan Juran

The Gate – Tibor Takacs

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time – Mamoru Hosoda

The Green Inferno – Eli Roth

The Grudge – Takashi Shimazu

The Guest – Adam Wingard

The Happiness Of The Katakuris – Takashi Miike

The Hitcher – Robert Harmon

The House Of The Devil – Ti West

The Idiots – Lars Von Trier

The Isle – Kim Ki Duk

The Kings Of Summer – Jordan Vogt Roberts

The Last Exorcism – Daniel Stamm

The Last Exorcism 2 – Ed Gass-Donnelly

The Last House On The Left – Wes Craven

The Man From Earth – Richard Schenkman

The Mannsfield 12 – Craig Ross Jr

The Pact – Nicholas McCarthy

The Red Squirrel – Julio Medem

The Secret Life Of Pets – Chris Renaud

The Storm Warriors – The Pang Brothers

The Stranger – Robert Lieberman

The Tortured – Robert Lieberman

The Visit – M Night Shyamalan

The Windmill Massacre – Nick Jongerius

Train To Busan – Yeon Sang-ho

Triangle – Hark Tsui/Ringo Lam

Twins – Ivan Reitman

Unbreakable – M Night Shyamalan

Universal Soldier – Roland Emmerich

USS Indianapolis – Mario Van Peebles

Visitor Q – Takashi Miike

Way Of The Dragon – Bruce Lee

We Are What We Are – Jim Mickle

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – Wes Craven

Wolfcop – Lowell Dean

Yellowbrickroad – Jessie Holland/Andy Mitton

TV Reviews

Are You Afraid Of The Dark

Back To School At 35

Breaking Bad

Friends

Game Of Thrones

Gladiators

Neighbours

Saved By The Bell

Strike It Lucky

The League Of Gentlemen

The Walking Dead

Wreslemania 34

Music Reviews

11 – Bryan Adams

18 Till I Die – Bryan Adams

3 Feet High And Rising – De La Soul

7800 Farenheit – Bon Jovi

A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles

A Love Supreme – John Coltrane

A Night At The Opera – Queen

Abbey Road – The Beatles

Accessories – The Gathering

Afterwords – The Gathering

Air – Agua De Annique

Aladdin Sane – David Bowie

Bedtime Stories – Madonna

Blaze Of Glory – Bon Jovi

Blue – Joni Mitchell

Blur – Blur

Bookends – Simon & Garfunkel

Bounce – Bon Jovi

Bryan Adams – Bryan Adams

Closer – Joy Division

Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Conan The Destroyer Soundtrack – Basil Poledouris

Crush – Bon Jovi

Destination Anywhere – Bon Jovi

Diamond Dogs – David Bowie

Disclosure – The Gathering

Dumb And Dumber Soundtrack – Various

Entroducing – DJ Shadow

Erotica – Madonna

Evita – Madonna

For Sale – The Beatles

Fulfillingness’ First Finale – Stevie Wonder

Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter – Incredible String Band

Heaven Or Las Vegas – Cocteau Twins

Help! – The Beatles

Heroes” – David Bowie

Hey Stoopid – Alice Cooper

Home – The Gathering

How To Measure A Planet? – The Gathering

Hunky Dory – David Bowie

I’m Breathless – Madonna

Into The Fair – Bryan Adams

Jagged Little Pill – Alanis Morissette

Keep The Faith – Bon jovi

Ladies Of The Canyon – Joni Mitchell

Lazer Guided Melodies – Spiritualized

Let It Be – The Beatles

Life’s Rich Pageant – REM

Like A Prayer – Madonna

Like A Virgin – Madonna

Lodger – David Bowie

Look Sharp – Roxette

Low – David Bowie

Madonna – Madonna

Magical Mystery Tour – The Beatles

Mandylion – The Gathering

Manic Street Preachers Live In Belfast – Manic Street Preachers

Miles Of Aisles – Joni Mitchell

My Fair Lady Soundtrack – Various

New Jersey – Bon Jovi

Nighttime Birds – The Gathering

Night On My Side – Gemma Hayes

On A Day Like Today – Bryan Adams

Pearls Of Passion – Roxette

Please Please Me – The Beatles

Pin Ups – David Bowie

Pretender – Jackson Browne

Pure Air – Agua De Annique

Ray Of Light – Madonna

Revolver – The Beatles

Rubber Soul – The Beatles

Savage – Eurythmics

Scary Monsters – David Bowie

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

Sleepy Buildings – The Gathering

Slippery When Wet – Bon Jovi

Song To A Seagull – Joni Mitchell

Souvenirs – The Gathering

Space Oddity – David Bowie

Spirit – Bryan Adams

Station To Station – David Bowie

Tattooed Millionaire – Bruce Dickinson

These Days – Bon Jovi

The Man Who Sold The World – David Bowie

The Marshall Mathers LP – Eminem

The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie

The Roads Don’t Love You – Gemma Hayes

The West Pole – The Gathering

The White Album – The Beatles

Tori Amos Live In Belfast – Tori Amos

Transformer – Lou Reed

Tracy Chapman – Tracy Chapman

True Blue – Madonna

Urban Hymns – The Verve

Waking Up The Neighbours – Bryan Adams

With The Beatles – The Beatles

Yellow Submarine – The Beatles

You Want It You Got It – Bryan Adams

Young Americans – David Bowie

Youth Novels – Lykke Li

Book Reviews

1000 Zombies – Alex Cox

Atmospheric Disturbances – Rivka Galchen

Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins

Dinosaurs – Navigators

Fang Of The Vampire – Scream Street

Japan Day By Day – Frommers

London 2008 – Time Out

London Free And Dirt Cheap – Frommers

Paris 2009 – Time Out

Play With Colours – The Happets

The Art Of Racing In The Rain – Garth Stein

The Devouring – Simon Holt

The Gargoyle – Andrew Davidson

The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins

The Invention Of Everything Else – Samantha Hunt

The Mayan Prophecies – Gerald Benedict

The Maze Runner – James Dashner

Undead – Kirsty Mckay

Neighbours – Bonus Post 4

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Well. That’s all over with. The ‘Dee’ storyline has come and gone, wrecking numerous relationships and apparently pissing off a lot of viewers. I found it all desperately sad and was holding out for some miracle that fake Dee was real Dee in the end. Alas. Presumably Dee/Andrea or the kid will come back in the future, but for now they are gone and Toadie is a hundred grand poorer and has been thrown out for slipping one in.

Elsewhere, we’ve had the revelation of who Leo and David’s father is and the associated fallout, Brad and Lauren left, and Toadie’s brother Shane and his family have moved in to the street. But that’s not why we’re here. We’re here so I can drone on for a while about some of my favourite residents, past and/or present, and today we’ve reached the letter KAY. And that can only mean one thing – MISTER….. KENNEDYYYYYY!……………. KENNEDYYY (Anderson). Wha?

Billy Kennedy – Jesse Spencer (1994 – 2000, 2005)

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Significant Others: The Kennedy Family. Anne Wilkinson. Melissa Drenth. Caitlin Atkins. Toadie. Lance. Amy.

Billy was arguably the central figure of The Kennedy family when he first arrived, his friendships and romances a focal point for many years. He was good looking, a little naive, was always getting into trouble even though his heart was in the right place, and his friendship with Toadie and Lance became a major draw, along with the other core members. It was however his on again off again romance with Anne Wilkinson that kept viewers intrigued – the closest thing to a Scott and Charlene that the show had in the 90s.

Special Power: Grows cabbages under his fingernails.

Where Are They Now:

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Billy left with Anne in 2000 and subsequently got married and had three kids – a new generation of Kennedys to appear in the future no doubt, hopefully not after Anne and Billy divorce. Billy appeared in the 2005 20th Anniversary show, strolling along a beach in LA. That’s because Jessie Spencer landed a hot job in the US – main role in House, followed up by a starring role in Chicago Fire, which sounds like an American London’s Burning. 

Libby Kennedy – Kym Valentine (1994 – 2014)

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Significant Others: The Kennedys, Drew Kirk, Ben Kirk, The Kinskis, Darren Stark, Daniel Fitzgerald. Steph Scully. Taj Coppin.

It’s fair to say that Libby is one of, if not my favourite Neighbours character. Bad ass all around. Her introduction greatly pleased my adolescent self, thanks to her assets. She was smart, feisty, yet always got involved with the wrong man. All until Drew came along and she finally felt settled. Till he was killed by a horse. Of course. Libby became a teacher, following her mum’s footsteps, and drama continued to follow her until she began a series of departures from the show – first in 2005, returning in 2007, and popping back and forth until 2014 where it appears she has left for good. I missed many of those last years after I stopped watching around 2007 or 2008.

Special Power: Breasts

Where Are They Now:

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Kym Valentine has sadly had several health issues in the last few years which contributed to her leaving the show. Of all the characters I’d want to see ending up happy, whether that means in a stable relationship or whatever, I’d love to see her coming back to reach that dream as Kym does such a great job in the role. There’s always a chance she’ll be back of course, given that Libby’s teenage son Ben is in the show now while she is teaching in China. Fingers crossed!

Mal Kennedy – Benjamin McNair (1994 – 2014)

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Significant Others: The Kennedys, Danni Stark, Stonefish, Catherine O’Brien.

There are many rumours and suggestions for the origins of my nickname – Mal – it’s part of my name, it’s Latin (etc) for evil, and because people knew I was a Neighbours fan back in the day and thought it was funny to call me this after one of its characters. Anyway, Mal was never a major figure, at least to me, in the show – he was the one Kennedy with the less interesting plots and the least screen time, so it seemed. Still, he’s a familiar face and has popped back every so often, typically with some new personality traits, and he’s alive and well so can return again at any point.

Special Power: Can swivel his pelvis 360 degrees.

Where Are They Now:

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He left after three years and it looked like he wouldn’t be back. Then he came back in 2002, his mischievous ways replaced by a ruthless, money-driven ego. Since then he was been away and been back several times, never staying longer than a few months. He and Catherine are still together in London now, both successful business types or something.

Karl Kennedy – Alan (1994 – Present)

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Significant Others: The Kennedys, The Kinskis, Sarah Beaumont, Darcy, Izzy, Ben Kirk, Holly Hoyland, pretty much everyone on the show for the last 20 odd years.

The legend. The daddy of the show’s longest running stable (sort of) family, Dr Kennedy, a some time singer, womanizer, and tight-wad, Karl has had several spicy affairs, fights with his kids and their partners, brushes with death, law suits, and everything else. But he’s still standing, and now acts, along with Susan, as the show’s emotional, nostalgic, and humourous core, like Harold and Lou before. That’s not to say he doesn’t still get his fair share of interesting stories, but more often now Karl is there to put a smile on your face or a laugh on your… feet? We’ve known him for so long now, he is Neighbours. 

Special Power: Obscene limericks.

Where Are They Now:

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Still on the show! 23 years now, and still going strong.

Susan Kennedy – Jackie Woodburn (1994 – Present)

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Significant Others: See Karl’s entry (matron)

The other legend. I’ll be honest, I had a crush on Susan too. Maybe it was some adolescent fantasy that, while I was more interested in Libby I didn’t think she would ever like me so I’d have a crack at her ma instead (never mind the fact that we were thousands of miles apart and they were fictional characters). Fun fact – I did eventually have a Maths teacher who looked an awful lot like her, though I did not have a crack at her. Fun fact 2 – I did have a crack at her daughter though – more than a crack in fact. MUCH MORE. Susan has seen and done it all in her years on the show – she has been teacher and Headmistress at Erinsborough High for decades now and has had her fair share of sexual escapades. She did a Twin Peaks, losing her memory and thinking she was 16, she has had to put up with Karl’s cheating and singing since the 70s, and has been through surrogacy and health scare storylines often being the character who most honestly depicts difficult real life plots.

Special Power: Her long black hair isn’t gone – it’s hiding in her tear ducts and it can be spooled out at a moment’s notice and used to garrote unsuspecting visitors.

Where Are They Now:

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Also still on the show, and still with Karl, and still in the School, and still taking on strays and family members such as Ben, Elly, and Angus. This pair and Toadie and Steph are my main ties to my peak viewing period so long may they continue!

How many more of these things will I write? To find out, keep coming back for more – it’s torture! Feel free to add your thoughts about The Kennedy family or any of the other Neighbours characters in the comments below.