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Welcome back to Notes from the Last Drive-In, where we discuss the 8th episode of season 3, featuring the cult “classic” films Sledgehammer and Things. I will be very critical of the movie selection for this episode – the films presented were amateurish, bad, and hard to watch movies. With that being said, though, they are also movies I feel I can treasure, and there is something genuinely valuable and charming about them, despite their flaws, like teeny, tiny diamond encrusted in a couple of inches of muck and dirt; unpleasant to dig through but ultimately rewarding. That’s kind of what you get with a VHS night, though.

Ultimately, it was a night of cinematic lows, but a wonderful night because of those lows. Thanks, Shudder.

Sledgehammer (1983)

Opening: The VHS Revolution and Joe Bob’s reason for VHS Night.

Bad slasher films far exceed the number of good slasher films, but Sledgehammer may be the reigning champ of awful in the genre. Written and directed by David A. Prior and shot entirely on VHS, Sledgehammer is, according to Joe Bob, said to be the first horror film produced entirely on VHS. Some argue it was 1982’s Boardinghouse, but our host suggests that because the taped film was transferred to actual film, the honor is dubious. The film stars Ted Prior, Linda McGill, John Eastman, and Jeanine Scheer, though most of the cast had minimal careers at best. Ted Prior is best known for the direct-to-VHS Deadly Prey (1988), a Rambo-knockoff, and bit-part in Surf Nazis Must Die (1987).

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The film follows a group of friends who decided to spend their time partying in a house that was the site of a murder mystery a decade earlier. Before long, they participate in a prank séance that summons the vengeful ghost of a boy locked in a closet by his abusive mother shortly before her murder. Naturally, the bodies start piling up. However, the plot is a mess, and the story throws bizarre, inconsistent elements on screen. The killer has strange, arbitrary rules that are jettisoned in an instant. There is a suggestion of a Satanic ritual that serves no real purpose to confuse the overall story. Even worse, the film suggests the child who was locked in the closet went missing, yet his remains are found in that same closet ten years later during the course of the film.

The whole film has a pseudo-improvised quality to it. A story doesn’t so much unfold rather than exists as a series of moments, some of which suggest a possible narrative while others feel like ideas had on the day of the shoot, such as the infamous “food fight” sequence, which may be the most horrifying moment in the movie. Furthermore, the performances are amateurish and exaggerated. Every line read has an odd cadence that makes even simple lines sound unnatural. The killer, the largest draw of a slasher film, is a lazy trope, a masked figure with a common tool used to kill. The plastic mask makes no sense, either; perhaps if it was something the kid wore before he died, there might be a reason to include it, but it is an arbitrary and laughable choice in the film as it exists.

Sledgehammer VHS box art
Peter Gabriel was nowhere to be found.

I could continue to criticize the film easily. However, something about it ended up being quite fun. It isn’t a good movie by any reasonable metric – yet I enjoyed my time with it. That begs the question of how we define a “good” movie, though, doesn’t it? Joe Bob’s commentary throughout the night articulates that idea to a degree. The film is not technically good, but it exists. It is the effort of someone genuinely having fun and making something, and we are partaking in that joy. It may not be in the way intended by Prior, but here we are, over 30 years after Prior’s friends made it, watching it as a community and pulling something from it. It’s not unlike The Room or that Monkey Christ incident where we see the earnestness of the intent and do find a kind of enjoyment in bearing witness to it, though the quality itself may be lacking or laughable.

Perhaps the highlight of the host segments was discussing the VHS form and aesthetic, particularly why there is something so comforting about them. Essentially, Joe Bob reasons that there is something about the “dot pattern that lulls you into a comfort zone” of familiarity. When we watch such VHS horror, we find ourselves reading them as home movies in a way, and can project people we know into the film. This is definitely part of that larger communal reading.

Among some of the other fun bits during the host segments, we learn a fun assemblage of the history of the film – in one of the more impressive feats, Prior shot it in a two-bedroom house. Yet, it ends up feeling much larger in the final film, mostly due to a baffling number of door opening sequences, I suspect. There was also a fun history of aerobic-themed horror films, which frankly sounds like a nice double-feature for season four. Of course, there was also some of that classic poking of fun at academia and horror, which I have grown immune to – it is always a fun time when Joe Bob mentions semiotics.

It is hard to rate a movie like Sledgehammer where the end product is bad, but you enjoy it. Joe Bob gave it two-and-a-half stars, even noting he was being “generous.” His rating, I feel, reflects that dichotomy of recognizing the movie is bad but still finding enjoyment from it. I guess if I had to force a food metaphor if most of the movies on The Last Drive-In are junk food, Sledgehammer is like that gas station taquito you can’t help eating once a month. So while I can only give this movie a one out of five Cthulhus when it comes to the quality of the film, it is certainly worth experiencing at least once.

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1.5 out of 5 stars (1.5 / 5)

Best Line: “BLARGHARBLE.” – Chuck’s “Bill Murray” Impression

Still from the movie Sledgehammer depicting a house
This exterior shot takes about about 10% of the film’s total run-time.

Things (1989)

Opening: We’re about to go on a trip.

Muddy and dimly lit. Tinny and grating dubbing. Incoherent and minimal story. This is the infamous “classic” Things. But, believe it or not, The Last Drive-In can dig deeper and find an even worse movie for the back half of the night. This Canadian independent horror film, already a sign of danger, was shot direct-to-video – specifically on Super 8. Directed by Andrew Jordan, who co-wrote it with Barry J. Gillis, the movie stars Barry J. Gillis, porn star Amber Lynn, Bruce Roach, and Doug Bunston.

The film follows two friends who visit a friend’s cabin, only to uncover a horrific experiment… I think? The plot of Things is tough to discern for many reasons. Perhaps the best description of the intended plot I could find is on IMDB:

An impotent husband, driven by a fanatical desire to father children, forces his wife to undergo a dangerous experiment. The result: the birth of a multitude of monstrous THINGS.

There is a story to be found, but the film takes every opportunity it can not progress the story. First, long sequences of poorly dubbed conversations, cheese sandwich making, and wandering around darkened rooms with a flashlight. These long stretches are periodically punctuated by Halloween prop ants or some ham-fisted gore effect. Then, of course, there are the Amber Lynn sequences that have no plot relevance – where she plays a news reporter sitting in front of an A/V shelf, reading cue cards that are obviously off to the side of the camera.

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The movie has so many problems that talking about them would just come off as bullying someone who cannot fight back. Such as the case with one character vanishing for well over a half-hour of the runtime because Bruce Roach couldn’t be on set. With that being said, I do feel I need to point out the absolutely hilarious dub. Much like that MST3K classic, Manos: The Hands of Fate, Things is entirely dubbed over. Unlike Manos, which the crew was unable to record audio when it was shot due to the lack of sound equipment, Things had to be dubbed over because of too much talking on set. This is important as to why Things, as bad as it is, is ultimately compelling. With that being said, the dub on Things is awful in the most hilarious way imaginable – line reads are frequently slurred, rushed through, or completely inappropriate to what is going on. Even better is when a line is spouted, which was obviously added in post, such as Don’s hilarious bitching about the weight of his friend or maple syrup references.

Things VHS box art
I’d wear this as a tshirt.

Joe Bob’s host segments featured a special appearance by a friend of the Drive-In and AEW superstar Chris Jericho, likely future recipient of his own dedicated land-line for Canadian horror. He’ll be the next Felissa Rose on the show, only consulting on canucks rather than mangled dicks. Jericho’s interview segment was by far the most naturalistic of the season, and his utter contempt for Things was quite funny. However, his attempts to disown the film as a product of Canada are not likely to pan out. Outside of this, most of the segments would begin with a series of questions attempting to parse the film’s meaning and what was seen on screen. Unfortunately, few of the answers were found. Some of the factoids worked their way in from the confused delirium: how exactly Amber Lynn became involved (they asked her) and who the nude woman was (a sex worker).

Joe Bob’s impassioned speech at the end of the episode is key to the night. Both films are rightly terrible, with Joe Bob giving Things a one-star rating. Things seems to be the only movie on the show so far that has earned that dubious honor. Yet, as Joe Bob says in the conclusion of the night, the evening was a celebration of the little guy. Things is a movie that exists, a tangible thing made by someone outside the traditional pipeline of film. It is far from competent, but at least someone poured their passion into it. It is easy to judge a film as bad, but it is quite another to actually make an independent film, which should be celebrated when it happens. As for my own rating from quality alone, I would only give the film one of five Cthulhus. However, much like Sledgehammer, I am glad to have seen it. 1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5)

Best Line: “Susan! They ate her down to the skull!” – Don, upon seeing the Things have eaten Susan down to the skull.

A still from the movie Things, depicting one of the things.
It was a bold choice to shoot the scene inside while the location was being tented for ants.

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

Of course we are going to include the standard Drive-In Totals, as shared by the Shudder Twitter account.

And as for our totals we have:

  • 2 mailbag entries
  • “$350,000” Budget
  • The 8th dead dog of the season
  • 4 breaks per movie
  • 37 David Prior movies
  • Gratuitous Canadian references
  • “Creepy Neighbor” caps
  • Tracking Fu
  • Existential Questioning about what we are seeing Fu
  • Yuki sighting
  • Spontaneously disappearing actor
  • Silver Bolo Award: SOV Horror
  • Darcy Cosplay: Sledgehammeress and Blockbuster Darcy
A still from The Last Drive-In with Darcy wielding a knife
OH GOD SHE HAS A KNIFE!

Episode Score

The movie selection tonight was terrible, yet the episode is larger than the sum of its parts. I hope that VHS night becomes a thing every season as there are so many VHS films out there that could easily find their way into the show. I think a celebration of the earnest but incompetent is something we could benefit from as horror fans from time to time. With any luck, nights like this might inspire someone to make their damn movie. The average mutant carries an entire film studio on their phone these days. Perhaps a few years down the line, they will be talking about the Mutant Renaissance?

Anyway, one star movies but a five star night. I give this episode of The Last Drive-In five out of five Cthulhus.

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5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

And with that, I am out. Join us on Twitter next week as we live-tweet the penultimate episode of the season. It’s gonna be a good time.

Movies n TV

The Boys, Wisdom of the Ages

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Episode four of The Boys was possibly the darkest episode of the series so far. And I am aware that this alone is an intimidating prospect.

It should be.

The story

Our story in this episode mainly consists of the single most dickish action I have ever seen anyone perform. Sage and Firecracker set up a four-hour show outside Starlight House, to talk about how horrible of a person Annie is.

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Four hours.

Valorie Curry and Susan Heyward in The Boys.

Annie gets everyone out of the building safely but then decides to watch the entire Anti-Annie show. And it is horrific.

The real horror show of this episode, though, is Homelander’s little adventure. After a fight with Ryan, he’s decided to visit his childhood home. Or, at least the place in which he grew up. Because he was raised more like a science experiment than a child.

I don’t think we’ve seen so far exactly what Homelander went through. The horrors he faced as a small child. Things no one should ever have to experience.

Things that the rest of his world will now have to pay for.

What worked

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If you’re paying attention to politics, this episode got way too real. The absolute hypocrisy of our current political situation was on display with superpowers. I especially liked (and by that I mean was enraged by) Firecracker saying that accidentally blinding someone at age thirteen was worse than being an adult and assaulting a minor. Those two things are not the same, and one of them is obviously worse.

Another thing that I appreciated in this episode was the new, and horrific, information we got about Homelander’s childhood.

Do I maybe feel bad for Homelander now? After seeing the dismal and dark little world he was raised in, yeah, I do. That is a monstrous way to treat a child. It’s no wonder he ended up how he is. Even the milk fetish makes more sense. And I am not any more cajoled by the fact that these people were just doing their jobs than Homelander was. That has never been an honest or adequate justification.

This, of course, doesn’t justify the horrors he’s inflicted. It just makes it easier to see how he got to where he is.

Antony Starr in The Boys.

The best fiction inspires strong emotions. It makes us feel things for people who are not real and feel passionate about events that did not happen. It does this by showing us glimmers of real people and real events within these bags of bones and false narratives. And it is because of this that The Boys is succeeding. It’s taking very real moments we are all living through, and embedding them into a fictional narrative. And that’s always going to be more impactful than just burning someone alive.

What didn’t work

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I only had one complaint about this episode. But it did bother me.

When Firecracker’s show starts, Annie makes a point of getting all the kids out of Starlight House to safety. That’s good. But then she sits down with her friends to watch the show.

Why would you watch a four-hour-long live show about why you are a terrible person?

I get asking someone else to watch it and take notes, because in a position like that you need to know what the opposition is saying about you. But for Annie to just watch that unfiltered was asking for trouble. And it’s exactly the sort of trouble that Annie ended up in.

In conclusion, this episode was almost too real. It had my blood boiling. It had me yelling at the TV. And that’s exactly what I want a good story to do.

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We’re halfway through the season now, and I think we’d all better buckle up for what’s coming.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

By the way, if you like my writing you can get my short story, Man In The Woods, on Smashwords and Amazon.

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Movies n TV

House of Dragon: S2E3 – Family Feud for Dummies

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In this great episode, we see something we have yet to see in any of the GoT/HoD shows–a dysfunctional family. Wait. I meant, SSDD.

We start out with two people fighting. Why? Why not. I guess they have a blood feud for ages. I mean AGGGGGESSSSSSS. So, of course, we don’t know anything about them what-so-fuck-ever.

Basically, the scene is two girls slapping each other and then one gets an arrow to the knee. The end.

Dead hookers, Kings Hand, and a War Plan

Next up, we have two dead twins, but enough about my sex life. In the show, there are two dead uhhh twins (note to self: deeper holes for twins). Alas poor ermrmm….let’s call them the Ging Twins. We hardly knew. ye.

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Ohhhhh I love this part where a knight that’s fucking the queen and got Poor Sir Ging killed is being late to his first day of class. Naughty Naughty. The rest of the scene is like ‘oh new peeps in white, something something, King is Big Warrior!’. So, this is what it would be like if Joffrey got laid? Hmmmmm….

Daemon arrives at Harrenhal–buyers remorse incoming

Daemon apparently wanted to take over something so he took over a shit hole. It’s almost suspenseful. Almost. I think it would be better to have drug the scene out more to give a sense of how Daemon was thinking about taking this big stronghold but slowly finding out it’s just a ghetto of shit.

For all the grief I give HoD for rehashing old tropes/plots from GoT, this is the one connection that makes sense so far. I like the exploration of a place we hear about in GoT but never got to see much into it. The connection is a way of doing exposition for a series we cared about. This is the first time it really feels like a prequel and not just a stand alone ‘shit pile’ they put the skin of GoT on.

We also get to see something of a character development for Daemon. This is something I really. hope others get a chance to get–characters. Maybe this is just the actor putting everything on his timey-wimey shoulders. Maybe that’s what the real turn for the character is–Matt Smith just going ‘fuck it’ and hitting for the fences.

Rhaenyra’s Diplomatic Mission, Some Politics, and Ser Cole Gets Jiggy Wit It

So like even though you fucked my dad and like made sure I wasn’t queen and then like started a war and like your bastards killed my son and like, you know, maybe we can be friends and end this war?

I heard this part of the scene was ad-lib. The writers had just this for direction: Think of the stupidest thing you can think of for your character to say and just go with it! Oh, and if you can tie in a previous episode of a better show into it–even better!

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While that happens, political people are like ‘lets use a dragon. The show is called house of dragon, not house of weird random call backs to the future happenings of GoT’. Speaking of GoT, remember when the small council meetings were interesting? Like you wanted to know the twists and turns of it? You know why those were better? Because you gave a shit about the characters who made up the council. Even when the Queen remakes her council after her dad’s death, we still cared. We didn’t know them as well, but we cared because we knew the people they replaced were better for the job. So we had an interest in ‘how doth they fucketh this up’.

Here is more like…well, put it this way. Take pictures of the people on both councils. Then cut them into single head shots. Now, shuffle. Can you name the person? Hell, can you even name which side that person is on? That’s my point.

Oh and Cole goes off with the queen’s brother to attack something. A dragon happens. They go awwwhwhwhwhwhwhw!! Then run away like little girls.

Change your whores more than you change your undies

So pirate eye blondie is caught by king blondie using the same whore as he did before. Guess this is what rich kids count as shame.

Oh and surprise to nobody–the Queen admits that maybe Rhaenyra should have been ruler, but shit happens so it’s like too far gone stop now. Let’s have everyone kill each other and that way the gods will decide who the king really meant to give the throne to when he said, ‘I want my daughter Rhaenyra to be ruler’.

Final Comments and rating

It’s starting to pick up, but it seems that every time that it does pick up the writers go ‘fuck it’ and swerve directly into the ditch.

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I don’t think the lack of action is a problem in this series. I think taking things slower in places and cutting down the cast to a manageable number (or at least give them a different look/name type so we can tell them apart) might be the thing needed to bring this show into a better footing. Will it ever be GoT? No. Sadly, I think it’s trying so hard to connect to GoT plots that it waters itself down. Instead of giving us a fascinating look at an older time, we get a constant reminder of just how much we miss GoT. 3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

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Doctor Who

Same Same, But Different. Five EU Stories Which Show Doctor Who monsters in a New Light

See how different creators of Audio Plays, Comics and Books reinvent familiar monsters in unique ways

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One of the paradoxes of being a Doctor Who fan is you want more of the same, but not too much the same.  If you like a particular character or monster, you want them to come back, but not do the exact same thing a second time, instead using a second opportunity to explore a different angle that we didn’t see the first time around.  However, even then for characters and monsters we’ve been seeing for sixty years, how many more angles can we see? 

Luckily, the Doctor Who fan also has the Extended Universe, one of the largest and most diverse in pop culture with a mixtures of books, audio plays and comics across sixty years of entertainment to enjoy.  And in that time, we see views and interpretations of monsters we have never seen before or since. 

Today we’re just going to focus on five monsters, and recommendations for each, but let me know if there’s any monster or character I’ve missed that you’d like to see more of.

The Silurians/Earth Reptiles

First introduced in 1970’s “Doctor Who and the Silurians” the creatures also known as “Earth Reptiles” were one of the first challenges to the Earth-bound era of Doctor Who having to be about alien invasions all the time.  The Silurians aren’t aliens, they’re more Earthlings than we are, having predated humanity but going into hibernation during the time the mammals rose.  After first menacing Jon Pertwee’s third Doctor, they were reintroduced during the Eleventh Doctor’s era in 2010’s “The Hungry Earth” and “Cold Blood”

Since then, while rarely a main monster of a storyline, they have continued to make regular cameos, most significantly with the reoccurring character of Madame Vastra, the Doctor’s ally detective in Victorian London. 

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New Interpretation – Bloodtide (2001)

Colin Baker’s Sixth Doctor is the best Doctor for the Big Finish Audio Range, and the Big Finish Audio range is the best example of the Sixth Doctor.  With freedom from the difficult production era of the mid-eighties, and coupled with companions like history professor, Evelyn Smythe, (Portrayed by the great Maggie Stables), who was able to challenge the Doctor’s morality and even teach him a thing or two, the Sixth Doctor was given opportunities to be nicer and more definitively a hero, while still being the loud bombastic Doctor of the television series.

Bloodtide sees the Doctor and Evelyn travelling to the Galapagos Islands at the same time in history as Charles Darwin is developing his studies into what will eventually become his theory of evolution.  However, there is another race on the islands, and their influence over humanity will put that theory, and the existence of humanity to the test. The relationship between humanity and the Silurians varies significantly across the appearances, with some stories suggesting no overlap between Silurians and humanity, but this story explores the idea of Silurians being influential in the development of humanity, and seeing us as equivalent to domesticated animals who became feral.  Also, in a novel twist, instead of Silurians suddenly awakening to explore the world, Bloodtide has Silurians already in control of a degree of humanity, albeit a small one, and presents one idea where Silurians and Humanity existence in a master-servant state.

Honorable Mentions

Blood Heat – Presenting a parallel world where the Silurians successfully wipe out much of humanity with a virus, the Silurians, and their cousins the Sea Devils now control the planet with only a minimal force of human rebels opposing them.

The Cybermen – A Doctor Who Magazine (DWM) comic strip which explores the origin of the Cybermen, and connects their creation to a race of Silurians on Earth’s twin planet Mondas


Weeping Angels

The only modern series monster that can really be considered a major reoccurring antagonist, the Weeping Angels, first appeared in the Tenth Doctor story “Blink” where transport people to the past and feed of the time energies that have been left behind.  Their primary characteristic, being stone when in view, and moving quickly when not seen, created a sense of terror for characters Sally Sparrow, and also the viewers at home. 

While originally in their first story there was only four of the angels present, their second appearance in “Flesh and Blood” heightened the fear factor, with the Eleventh Doctor stuck on a world infested by Angels.  Other stories had the Angel develop a farm where human temporal energy could be harvested repeatedly, and even turning the Thirteenth Doctor briefly into a Weeping Angel herself.


New Interpretation – Grey Matter from Twelve Angels Weeping

One of the limitations of a horror based monster like the Weeping Angels in Doctor Who, is that the Doctor must survive, and almost always wins.  It’s hard to be too terrified when we already know the result, and that our hero would likely survive. 

This story is different though.

On the Planet Gehanna, a plague has broken out among the twelve separate human cities.  Our story starts on City One, the last remaining city free from the outbreak, though keeping tightly controlled with specialized breath masks being work at all times to protect its citizens.  The Twelfth Doctor arrives, and is quickly captured and taken for interrogation as an outsider by the City’s Chief Medical Officer, and finds the Medical Officer’s other prisoner, a tortured and disfigured weeping angel. 

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Not to give too much spoilers away, but despite this being a Christmas themed anthology, this story feels more like Halloween.  Angels are seen as victims initially here, but also vengeful, vindictive, and ultimately victorious, with fear inducing scenes conveyed in text but conveying an impact not seen since their initial appearance in “Blink”

Honorable Mention – The Weeping Angel of Mons

Bridging the gap between their first appearance in “Blink” this story sees the Tenth Doctor finding the Angel using the cover of WWI to feast on humanity.  This story has a lot of elements in common with “Angels of Manhattan”and “Blink” but seems like a natural sequel to “Blink” with intensity and involvement of angels increasing but only slightly. 


The Cybermen

Considered one of the Big Two Monsters of Doctor who, these cyborg threats first appeared in 1966’s “The Tenth Planet”, the final story of the First Doctor’s era.  The Cybermen were originally humanoids from the Earth’s twin planet, Mondas, but following their planet being flung out of orbit, and moving away from Earth’s sun, they used gradual replacement of their parts with robotic and computer elements to become the cold, emotionless Cybermen.  Since then we’ve seen a range of Cybermen, from Telos ice vaults, to parallel universes, to the Twelfth Doctor introducing the idea that they are the natural evolution whenever a planet’s technology takes over.  However, the idea of the Cybermen conquering planets, in particular Earth, has remained consistent across all variations, as well as their constant rejection of all emotions as a weakness. 

New Interpretation: Killing Ground

The Cybermen in most of Doctor Who are seen as attempting to invade the planet, but rarely is it explored what would happen if they were successful.  They’re not like Daleks, killing things because they honestly believe they should die.  They’re not like Sontarans, using conquered planets as tools in their war against an enemy.  Mostly during Cybermen stories their motivation is to survive, to take a planet in order to avoid extinction. 

In the “Killing Ground” the Cybermen are still aiming for survival, but that is happening off page.  In the outer context of the story, the Cybermen are weakened, after a Cyber-War they were on the losing side for.  However, on this planet, the planet Agora, they have remained in complete control of the planet for almost fifty years.  People are used as source material for Cybermen to allow the Cyber race to grow in other areas of the cosmos, not to keep control on Agora as most rebellions have been violently suppressed at this time.

Onto this planet arrives the Sixth Doctor and his companion Grant Markham, who was transported  from Agora as a child in order to escape the future of being a Cybermen when his body should prove useful. 

The idea of a reoccurring monster not only invading a planet, but maintaining the control for decades is uncommon for any monster, and the image of what a Cyber-run world would look like adds a new fear, and shows how despite being emotionless, the Cybermen can be cruel with their logical responses. 

Honorable Mentions

Throwback the Soul of the Cybermen -Similar to “Killing Ground” this also shows a Cyberman occupied planet, where there is only slight conflict between the Cybermen and their human slaves.  However, in this story we meet Cyberman Kroton, a Cyberman with a soul, struggling to understand humanity and our emotions, rather than reacting to them. 

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The Flood – The last Eighth Doctor comic strip features the Cybermen attempting to invade Earth.  The comic artist takes full advantage of the range an artist has to make versions of the Cybermen which can never be seen on TV or have an actor inside them.  In addition, this story presents the Cybermen as benevolent – removing emotions removed due to an honest belief they cause harm and distress, so those without them will have improved quality of life. 


The Autons

Servants of the Lovecraftian Nestene consciousness, the Autons are plastic robots, with inbuilt hand weaponry, and skills in duplication.  They first appeared in 1970, facing a newly regenerated Third Doctor, memorably bursting from the shop windows and shooting at passerbys in the final episode of “Spearhead From Space.”

This initial stand out scene was replicated for the relaunch, with the Ninth Doctor and Rose opposing the Autons and their Nestene rulers in the first Ninth Doctor Episode “Rose” when they again appear as shop window dummies attacking the public.

New Interpretation – Brave New Town

In the original stories from the 1970’s, the Autons connected to their controllers, the Nestenes, through Nestene crystal spheres which travel to Earth as meteorites.  Usually if this connection to the Nestenes is cut off the Autons cease to be. 

But what if they don’t?  What would Autons be if they weren’t guided for a time by the Nestenes?  Consdeirng their skills for impersonation, could they impersonate so well they confused themselves?

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This is the question asked in the Eighth Doctor Big Finish story, where the Doctor and his companion Lucie Miller find the quiet seaside town of Thorington is repeating the same day over and over.  Soon they find the planet has many secrets, and its population having been used by monsters both otherworldly and Human. 


Daleks

The Daleks are THE Monster talked about when discussing Doctor Who, the first alien/monster opponent of the entire series, the second antagonist and second alien featured over all.  They have fought against every version of the Doctor, including each of the main Television Doctors, as well as the War Doctor as portrayed by John Hurt, parallel universe Doctors in the Unbound Series and the movie version of Doctor Who, portrayed by Peter Cushing. 

They have featured in Board Games, Video Games, Comics, Comic Strips, Books, Audio Plays, Stage Shows, Escape Rooms – any form of media that could feature the metal monsters from Skaro have featured them. 

So with so many stories showing their evil, their hatred for all other beings, their belief in Dalek supremacy as the natural order of things, what is there left to explore?

New Interpretation – Children of the Revolution

In 1967, Patrick Troughton completed his first season as the second Doctor, with the story “Evil of the Daleks.” This epic seven part story had the Doctor travelling between present day Earth, the Victorian era, and Skaro itself in search for the stolen TARDIS, and on the way uncovering the Dalek plan to discover what makes a Dalek a Dalek, the Dalek factor, and insert it into human kinds to create a Dalek race.

However, the Daleks are defeated by the Doctor instilling three Daleks with a Human factor – creating Daleks with a sense of fun, playfulness, and particularly the ability to question and think for themselves.  This tendency leads to disunity, and as the Doctor spreads the Human factor to more Daleks, a civil war emerges between the rival forces of Daleks.  This was originally devised as the final Dalek story, with the might Dalek emperor being exterminated, and the Dalek city destroyed.

Of course, the Daleks returns around five years later, and a cut piece of dialogue from “Day of the Daleks” said the rebellion was crushed, and the Humanised Daleks exterminated. 

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But what if the survived?  What if the Daleks who were more human lost the war, but escaped?  This is the question the DWM comic strip “Children of the Revolution” aims to answer.

The Eighth Doctor, and his companion Izzy, arrive on the water planet of Kyrol, where a crew of humans on a submarine are captured by a secret Dalek colony.  But this is not a colony preparing nefarious schemes, but just hiding to survive, knowing they are hared by not just other Daleks, but all other species who see Daleks as a threat.  While the Doctor tries to defuse tensions between the human prisoners and the Daleks he played a part in creating, outside enemies attempt to manipulate the situation for their own benefit.

This story shows a world of what would Daleks be if they used their intelligence for acts other that destruction.  How would they view other races if they did not see them worthy of destruction?  We see a Dalek race that invests in art, in scientific curiosity, but can also see the difficulty the Doctor faces in wanting to protect them, while also seeing the point of the humans who want to be free. 

With amazing visuals of Daleks underwater, this is an amazing story and well worth a read.

Honorable mentions:

Jubilee – This audio play by Robert Shearman served as a basis for the eventual television episode “Dalek” but the original audio is very very different and as a result can be enjoyed in a separate way.  The Doctor and Evelyn Smythe arrive on an Earth celebrating a hundred years since the failed Dalek invasion, one the Doctor and Evelyn stopped but have not recalled it at all. 

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Prisoner of the Daleks

While we often hear of the massive Dalek armies of the Dalek war, due to budgets we rarely see them, instead usually seeing small Dalek forces attempting invasions or attacks of certain areas.  Prisoner of the Daleks has the Tenth Doctor landing in a timeline prior to the Time War, where Daleks are a dominant force, with the Earth empire attempting to fight back by paying bounty hunters to destroy Daleks.  The strength and intelligence of the Daleks in this story is impressive, with the Doctor largely being helpless to out manipulate or defeat them until the very end.  Also, for a book from the BBC era which tended to be lighter, this is a dark world, with planets destroying themselves with nuclear weapons to prevent Dalek invasion and the survivors captured anyway by the Daleks who are not deterred by this act. 


This article just touches on some of the Doctor who monsters and villains that can be appreciated in new ways in the Extended Universe.  Of course there are many other ways to appreciate them, and many other monsters and villains to explore.  Please share any characters you’d like to find out about their varied appearances in the comments below. 

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