Connect with us

Published

on

Welcome to ‘Notes from the Last Drive-In’ where we cover season 4, episode 2 of The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs on Shudder. This week we are talking about the horror classics Black Sunday (1960) and Def By Temptation (1980) and how they related to… Walpurgisnacht? Okay then!

We are back after last week’s season four premiere and the 100th and 101st films shown at the drive-in. You know you’re in for a treat when Joe Bob has a cause and the maps come out. So how successfully do the night’s films mesh with the theme of European witch lore festivals? Let’s find out together, shall we?

Black Sunday (1960)

Black Sunday, or La Maschera del Demonio, is the landmark 1960 Italian horror film directed by icon Mario Bava, which also happened to be his directorial debut. The stars of the film include Barbara Steele, John Richardson, Andrea Checchi, Ivo Garrani, and Arturo Dominici. Of the cast, Steele would become the most familiar to Americans, though Richardson, Checchi, and Garrani would be very familiar to Italian audiences and Italian film enthusiasts.

Black Sunday (1960) Theatrical Poster

The film, very loosely adapted from the story “Viy” by Nicholai Gogol, is a lush, gothic fairy tale set in 1800s Moldavia about a land and a family cursed by a witch upon her death that would play out two centuries later. The film plays with multiple fairy tale themes and images and is unique in that it represents the foundations of post-war Italian horror, as Drive-In fans would come to learn throughout the night.

The story itself is very loose as a “Viy” adaptation goes, more or less borrowing tone above anything else. The narrative is simple with many scenes of melodrama, castle wanderings, and supernatural encounters that do not follow conventional logic. However, that is not necessarily a slight against the film. The events on the screen are like that of a dream. The film more or less meanders through the story to get to real meaty moments of witchy horror.

Advertisement

Barbara Steele owns the film in a dual role of the witch Asa Vajda and her descendent Katia Vajda. She is magnetic as Asa, a woman of erotic evil, and as her foil, the virginal and sweet Katia. The film would launch the English actress’ career as an Italian horror superstar, something she apparently had mixed feelings on. Regardless, she is the strongest performer in the cast, and that is saying something considering the work of other Italian cinema legends of the film, who are suitably game for what Bava throws at them.

As for Mario Bava, the film would serve as his debut as a director, having spent years as a cinematographer. His directorial work is a marvel here, and surprisingly modern given the influences of fairy tales and the gothic trappings of Hammer Horror that inspired the approach to the material. Between Bava and his camera, there is a sort of magic that unfolds on screen, and even today, over 60 years out, the film looks and feels astoundingly modern. Bava’s cinematographic eye does as much of the lifting of the film as Steele’s performance.

Joe Bob-servations on Black Sunday

Among some of Joe Bob Briggs’ observations on the film was a fascinating discussion on the nature of Black Sunday as a film for export. Specifically, the production company Galatea and their emphasis on genre films led to an explosion of sword-and-sandal flicks that proved moderately successful overseas, such as Hercules (1958) and Hercules Unchained (1959).

The issue, though, was that Italy did not really have a contemporary horror scene from which to draw. The history is of course tied into the years of fascism associated with Mussolini, which Joe Bob lays out. What we discover over the course of the film is how Black Sunday becomes the foundation of Italian horror and ends up leading to the staple of the Italian Giallo film.

This is, of course, between gags of a progressively hammered Joe Bob trying to bring back Walpurgisnacht. It was a fun night.

Advertisement

Final Thoughts on Black Sunday

While loose in structure and perhaps a bit too deep into the dream logic of fairy tales, Black Sunday is an iconic witch film and a foundational text in Italian horror. Between the direction and photographic eye of Mario Bava in his directorial debut, and the on-screen magnetism of actress Barabara Steele, there is something about Black Sunday that sticks with viewers. Joe Bob Briggs gave the film four stars. My hangups with the lack of focus and some pacing issues in the film leave me to give it four out of five Cthulhus. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Best Line: “In life? What is my life? Sadness and grief. Something that destroys itself day by day, and no one can rebuild it. Here is the very image of my life. Look at it. It’s being consumed hour by hour like this garden, abandoned to a purposeless existence.” – Asa (a bit on the nose but she makes it work)

Still from Black Sunday (1960) featuring Barbara Steele
Acne scars are no laughing matter.

Def by Temptation (1990)

Def by Temptation is a fascinating 1990 black horror film starring and directed by James Bond III. The film also stars Kadeem Hardison, Bill Nunn, and Cynthia Bond with appearances by Samuel L. Jackson, Minnie Gentry, Melba Moore, and Freddie Jackson. Most of the cast would be associated with Spike Lee’s School Daze (1988) or the music management label Hush. The film would ultimately be distributed by Troma and even have Lloyd Kaufman help film the movie’s chaotic conclusion.

Def by Temptation (1990) Blu Ray Cover

The film follows a group of men, a wannabe minister, an actor, and a cop, who find themselves involved with a succubus who is preying on black men on the streets of New York City. The late 1980s urban aesthetics and hip-hop and R&B score create a wonderful play on the vampire film.

Def by Temptation has a lot going for it. The story is well-paced and does a good job blending contemporary themes of masculinity with predation anxiety all wrapped up in a supernatural shell. The film does have inconsistencies with internal logic, but that doesn’t matter much when a succubus vampire is involved and a character gets Cronenberged into a television set. The film is fast and loose in borrowing from different themes and concepts and while that does result in a somewhat messy and scattershot story, the experience as a whole is quite memorable. A lot of that comes from Bond’s direction for what is clearly a passion project.

Part of the film’s appeal comes from the performances in which there is not a phoned-in performance in the cast. Each actor does their thing very, very well and can be praised for their timing, delivery, and presence. Some of these performances are so strong, however, that viewers may be shocked to discover that this film is one of the last films of two of the performers. James Bond III would quit acting and directing. He only recently resurfaced as a producer after 2009. Cynthia Bond, who is fantastic as the Temptress, would fill in a few television roles until about 1994, and would only resurface in the mid-2010s as the author of the best-selling book Ruby.

Advertisement

The film is gorgeous and among some of the best visuals in any film Troma has ever distributed. It helps that Spike Lee collaborator Ernest Dickerson served as cinematographer. His career would be substantial, with Def by Temptation being only one of many horror films in his filmography. As much as a cliche as this can sound, Dickerson’s framing and camera work turn the locations into characters themselves, be it a bar, apartment, street, or dream-like bedroom and jazz performance space.

Joe Bob-servations on Def by Temptation

If the theme of the night was witches, I would argue that Def By Temptation was a bit of a stretch. The Temptress of the film is more of a vampire or succubus than a witch, though she does bewitch men. It is a reflection of the loose rules established in the world. Regardless, it is a fun film and there was a lot to learn about it. Case in point, Joe Bob had a few things to say on the Troma-side of the film’s history, namely the fact that Lloyd Kaufman believes it to be the best film Troma ever distributed.

Another fun and surprisingly Troma-angle? Lloyd Kaufman himself picked up the camera to help film the chaotic ending as Dickerson had already moved on to another project.

Plenty of factoids were on hand as well, such as the strange case of Cynthia Bond who was a mystery to most of the cast. There were also other examples of the independent spirit running throughout the movie, such as the fact the apartment scenes were shot in the apartment of Laurence Fishburn, or that most of the funding of the film came from the cast and crew.

Final Thoughts on Def by Temptation

Def by Temptation is a fascinating movie that rides that line right between the 1980s and 1990s and should be considered a key text in black horror. The film may be inconsistent in its own rules and might be a patchwork of influences and excuses for gore, at times, but the film has some interesting things to say on the treatment of black bodies. The performances are well worth a mention as well, with every actor nailing their part. Joe Bob Briggs gave the film three-and-a-half stars. I found the film to be incredibly fun, so I’d give it four-out-of-five Cthulhus.

Advertisement
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Best Line: “Hey, baby, we had a good time – you can get an abortion now.” – Bartender

A still from Def By Temptation (1990) featuring a bloody mess
They weren’t kidding about violence on TV in the 1990s…

Haunted MTL Drive-In Totals

As always, here are the official Drive-In Totals.

As for our own totals, we have…

  • 2 “Thee-Ate-Ers”
  • 3 Types of Alcohol
  • 3 Gilligan Cuts
  • 8 Halloweens a Year
  • 18 Beers
  • Bat Shredding
  • Orgy Proposing
  • Cow Milking
  • Tactical Sam Jackson Deployment
  • Gratuitous European History Lessons
  • Gratuitous Piano
  • Gratuitous House Clattering
  • Cane Fu
  • Fainting Fu
  • Binge Drinking Fu
  • Banana Fu
  • Darcy Cosplay: Asa
Darcy and Joe Bob on The last Drive-In S4E2
Darcy as Aja, complete with hell hounds.

Episode Score for Notes from the Last Drive-In: S4E2 – Black Sunday and Def by Temptation

The theme of the night was, ostensibly about witchcraft, though there is a larger connection to demons given the origins of witchcraft which sort of explains how Def by Temptation fits in. What is important is that the wrapper for the show this week was one of the funnier and stranger ones the show has done, with Joe Bob sliding into a darker and darker drunken stupor as he tries to “bring back” Walpurgisnacht. The interplay between Joe Bob and Darcy was a great deal of fun, and with any “cause” our host takes one there was plenty of history involved.

With that being said, I do think the pairing was a bit stretched given the theme suggested by our host, here. I think the movies pair well, but in that regard, I think a stronger thematic hook would have been “dangerous women” rather than the return of Walpurgisnacht. There is an association between women and the festival, of course, but I just feel the execution here, as fun as it was, ended up a bit muddled.

Anyway, hopefully, they got Joe Bob’s stomach pumped after the combination of alcohol. You couldn’t pay me to drink mead. 4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Please join us on Twitter next Friday as we live-tweet with the rest of the Mutant Fam during The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs. As always, thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts on the movies, the show, or even these reviews/recaps. We would love to know what you have to say.

Advertisement

Enjoyed Def by Temptation?

Want to add more Troma films to your library? Check out these sponsored links on Amazon. Buying through our sponsor link helps out Haunted MTL.

Movies n TV

The Boys, Wisdom of the Ages

Published

on

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.

Advertisement

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

Advertisement

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

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Movies n TV

House of Dragon: S2E3 – Family Feud for Dummies

Published

on

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.

Advertisement

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!

Advertisement

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.

Advertisement

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)

Continue Reading

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

Published

on

By

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. 

Advertisement

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. 

Advertisement

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. 

Advertisement

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?

Advertisement

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. 

Advertisement

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. 

Advertisement

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. 

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Trending