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26th March 2009


Recent additions to our forthcoming releases database, Incoming, include: the Julianne Moore post-apocalypse thriller Blindness; Frightfest horror flick Manhunt; chick-flick The Secret Life of Bees; the fourth season of Seth McFarlane's American Dad; character drama Julia, which stars Tilda Swinton; theatrically-released mountaineering documentary North Face; a special adventure for the South Park posse, Imaginationland; the Final Season of Battlestar Galactica; and two new Blu-ray editions of Terminator 2: a steelbook version, and a limited edition Endoskeleton version.


The Forbidden Planet Megastore, in Shaftesbury Avenue, London, is hosting a signing by the authors of Torchwood: Rift War on the 25th of April, between 1 and 2pm. As usual, signed copies can be ordered from their Mail Order division, on 020 7803 1900.

Short Circuit, a concert of music by former employees of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop is scheduled at The Roundhouse on May the 17th, as part of their season dedicated "to the appreciation and exploration of electronica". Participants will include Peter Howell, Paddy Kingsland, Roger Limb, Dick Mills and Mark Ayres. Further info at the Roundhouse website.


There's a new issue of Hammer magazine Little Shoppe of Horrors out! Issue 22 focuses on Hammer's 70s Dracula movies. What a great cover!

Warner Home Video's US division has announced that they're releasing hundreds of movies in press-to-order (DVD-R) format, which will probably not otherwise get a retail release. Included in their initial batch is Hammer's psychological thriller Crescendo, in anamorphic widescreen format. At the moment they don't ship to the UK, but at a recent Home Theater Forum chat, Warner confirmed that they would be making all the films (that they have international rights to) available to customers in other territories. More information here. The information has been added to the relevant section of the Hammer DVD Guide. Thanks to Chris for the tip-off.

8th March 2009


Valerie Leon in Hammer's Blood From The Mummy's Tomb (1971)Valerie Leon's impressive acting career includes appearances in six Carry On films, a lead role in Hammer's Blood From The Mummy's Tomb, and two James Bond movies. Not to mention cult favourites Zeta One, and Queen Kong!

Her TV credits are no less impressive, spanning classic series like The Saint, The Avengers, The Baron, Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased), Space: 1999, The Goodies and Up Pompeii.

She will be discussing her career at The Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans, Hertfordshire, on Thursday the 19th of March at 8pm. Further details can be found here.

5th March 2009


Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons will be signing copies of Titan's range of Watchmen books at Borders, Islington on March the 12th, from 7.30pm. Borders is running a competition where fifty fans can win the chance to attend an exclusive in-store audience with Dave. Details can be found at

3rd March 2009


I was lucky enough to see Zack Snyder's long-awaited film adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' comic book masterpiece Watchmen at the IMAX last week.

It's a valiant attempt at bringing to the screen something once judged - by Terry Gilliam, no less - as un-filmable. For the most part the film deftly captures the feel and tone of the complex story, and almost perfectly replicates the look of Gibbons' dense artwork.

Sure, some sub-plots have been whittled away, and some characters have been amalgamated, or dropped entirely, but you'd expect that from any film adaptation from a lengthy book. The widely-discussed changes to the comic book's finale have rankled with Watchmen's hardcore fans, but the removal of the story's most outré aspect brings the human element of the story into sharper focus. You could certainly argue that Snyder should have tried harder to stay entirely faithful, but the revised ending, and the myriad other minor changes, were probably unavoidable if the film was to have a manageable running time, if it was to keep to a reasonable budget, and if it was to appeal to a wide audience.

The film is often remarkably faithful to its source. Numerous shots are framed precisely like the comic strip frames. The casting is impeccable, with note-perfect performances by Jackie Earle Haley (Rorshach), Patrick Wilson (Daniel Dreiberg) and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Comedian). Snyder's dynamic visual style is entirely appropriate. The film's various montage sequences (accompanied by some well-chosen - if predictable - popular songs from the eras depicted) are especially well-handled.

Such dense storytelling requires a big canvas, so I have no hesitation in suggesting that the IMAX version is the only sensible way of seeing the film. Even then, you won't catch everything on a first viewing.

The only drawback to seeing the film on the huge IMAX screen is that it's especially revealing of the surprisingly-poor old-age make-up, for the older version of Carla Guigino's character. In every other respect bigger is better. The fight scenes certainly benefit from having space to breathe. Snyder's love of slow-motion and vari-speed has been widely ridiculed, but, for me, the techniques made it much easier to see what was going on when the action kicked off. (Compared to the bewildering fight scenes in the last two Batman movies, Watchmen is practically balletic).

One of my favourite things about the IMAX cinema is the clarity of the sound. The twelve-thousand watt speaker system doesn't make the film noticeably louder than any other comparable auditorium, but it's better at handling complex mixes, compared to the boomy, muddled mess that often spoils the experience in even the best of the West End cinemas. Not that Tyler Bates' nondescript score is at all remarkable. It's rather telling that the best use of score music in the film is lifted from Philip Glass's Koyaanisqatsi.

Encouraged by record pre-bookings, the IMAX is cramming in extra screenings for the film's opening week, including a midnight screening on the opening night. Details can be found at their website.

Last month's Zeta Minor News can be viewed here.

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.


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