Saturday, 21 September 2013

Level 17 - A John deCaux Web series.



Fifth Dimension disclaimer: At no time were any bloggers, Aliens, Australians or assorted independent film-makers harmed in the production of this piece. At no time is any offence meant, well that is except for the Aliens - I don't trust those buggers…..



Even though I love my classic sci-fi/Fantasy and Horror more than any sane man really should, It was nevertheless a welcome chance this weekend to watch some brand new work out that is currently out there in Internetland. As I've said before somewhere in the depths of this blog, I do wonder sometimes why I put myself through the trauma of watching some of the work that is being independently produced - I really do. Though well intentioned, the result without exception results in one of three different reactions for yours truly: 

1) Pure despair at the well-intentioned but downright awful nature of some independent productions - namely bad writing, bad production, bad acting and bad effects….you know what I'm saying, they're bad! The passion is there but unfortunately, the talent is not.
2) Pure joy at the rather excellent independent productions  - these guys clearly have a passion AND some genuine talent.
3) The realisation that these good filmmakers are annoyingly, far more talented, inventive and depressingly much younger than I ever will be. (Number 3 reaction inevitably follows quickly after number 2 reaction, and usually with tears and tantrums on my part).

I know that this make me sound like a bitter and twisted guy, that I simply resent people of drive, talent and charisma. No not at all, I don't resent them, I just find them annoying. I think they make me as jealous as hell, so maybe I do get a little envious as to how good some of these people are - does that make me a bad person?

Take for instance a new friend of mine from Australia - John DeCaux. For a start, I know what you are thinking, but steady on, it's not his fault he's Australian. I have many Australian friends and many of them are actually quite nice too. Secondly, I have absolutely no idea how to pronounce or correctly spell his surname - so far I have at least six variations. For that Jon DiCaux  John deCaux, I apologise.

John had very nicely asked via my facebook page for this blog whether I would be good enough to check out episode 1 of his Science Fiction web-cast production, Level 17 on the old interweb. So having a few valuable minutes of free time in my all too busy life I decided to watch the said production that can be located on that wild and wondrous land called 'YouTube.

So Mr DeCaux, before I bestow words of wisdom, humour and dare I say it, beauty about episode one - I wanted him in his own words to please provide me with a snappy synopsis….to which the reply came.

We all hate those days when you wake up during
an apocalypse


"Smart, savvy and unpredictable, Ethan is a college student who struggles to understand his destiny when time begins folding in on itself. According to the mysterious arrival of Professor Anderson, the only way Ethan can save his gorgeous girlfriend Danielle is to save the world by any means necessary."


Well that kind of wets the appetite doesn't it? Let me say straight away that the seven-ish minutes of LEVEL 17 - Episode 1 is, barring a couple of minor gripes very,very good. 

There is little time at the beginning of the episode for a namby pamby detailed exploration of the characters or plot here. Instead we are immediately faced with the sight of Gun toting Bio-suited soldiers rounding up civilians and chasing a rather excellent Alien down a city street (not an entirely unknown sight here in the North of Scotland….). We then have essentially a few rip-roaring minutes of the main character Ethan (excellently played by Hjálmar Svenna) first being confronted by the sudden morphing of Professor Anderson into his kitchen (like that has never happened to me either), who proceeds to give our hero a cryptic message about saving his girl and the planet before morphing away once again. Ethan then spends the rest of the frantic episode being chased through the streets in an effort to evade the gun-wielding Bio-suits, whilst at the same time trying to locate the whereabouts of his girlfriend. A rather nice cliffhanger leaves us guessing as to who is hiding in the house he finds himself in at the end …..……..

Just a hunch, but I'm thinking the IOB Corp may not be nice people..
What we have here is a production that belies the origin of many of the people involved in it's creation. The direction and camerawork is excellent, providing a truly professional creation yet still making the viewing experience as realistic an experience for the viewer as possible. The episode as a result is genuinely exciting as the chase progresses through the streets. The acting too is good, with Hjálmar Svenna as the lead character, Ethan, showing a remarkable range of acting ability. We don't really see enough as yet of the other principle characters to be able to make much of a judgement as to the overall acting quality, which will be of interest for future episodes as the quality of the supporting cast can affect the quality of the production

The special effects for the brief glimpse that we have of the Alien is simply stunning - I cannot say anything else but that. Though the glimpse that we have of it is brief, It far out-shines anything I've seen from an independent production in a very long time. I simply can't wait to see more of this creation.

There are a few gripes, minor ones, but they are there just the same. While the Alien special effect is amazing, one or two of the others - a car in the street and the initial shot of a flying machine - are OK, but not overly authentic. The scene where the professor appears in  Ethan's kitchen has some very unconvincing blood and the 'finding' of the box with the character's name on it in which he finds a gun seemed a little cliched. However, as I said, these are but minor criticisms - the overall quality is excellent. 

Something is happening - but what? Who are the mysterious and seemingly all-powerful IOB corporation? Is it an Alien invasion? Will Ethan save his girl? And will I actually receive a reply to any of my letters to Helena Bonham Carter? 

The assurances from John that many of these questions will be answered in the future episodes will be answered is good - though just how he may get Ms Bonham Carter to leave her director chappy and spend her days up here in the North of Scotland remains to be seen.

See the You Tube clip for yourself below and make up your own mind about the episode. However, if you watch it and find yourself disagreeing with me then of course you are quite wrong and misguided.




However, that's all well and good - just because the first You Tube clip looks pretty darned good, with the excellent direction, camera work and Alien special effects it doesn't mean to say that I can completely trust these guys. I mean, I don't want to find out that John and some friends got together over a beer or three and thought that it would be a good wheeze to play around with a camera for while. Then get bored and bugger off after an episode or two when they had to give the camera and Bio-suits back to the guy from the fancy dress shop down the street.


So I suggest that you tell me and my loyal reader or two (I do have at least two, probably) a little bit about yourself.

" I'm a director/writer/producer at Six Foot Four Productions in South Australia. Level 17 is an Australian Action Adventure Sci-Fi web-series that has just been released. Professional, emerging, amateur and student independent South Australian filmmakers have combined their talents to produce the digital web series “Level 17". We are hoping to get the word out there about the production and all the hard work that has gone into everything from the shooting to the visual effects."


So why this genre? After all, Science Fiction is a highly competitive and can have a, how can I put it politely, rather emotional and opinionated fan-base at times…...

"Part of our culture is interest in science fiction, fantasy and action based adventures with Level 17 promising to meet those needs in a fresh, new innovative web-series. With a confirmed YouTube partnership, the web series launched on August the 14th to satisfy an already large following based on the successful “likes” count on the Internet such as Facebook."

Don't stop now John mate, you're on a roll - this is good stuff. You've got me convinced.
"Be honest John - do these make my head look small?…."


"The production has brought together very talented South Australian individuals that are on the way to establishing themselves in their chosen careers.’Level 17’ is an all-new sci-fi, action based web series that relied on emerging Film makers and volunteers to create."







The effects for Alien character we briefly see in episode 1 are simply stunning. So have you some experience of doing this sort of thing before?

The amazing visual effects you see in episode 1 were
created by the team at JFX.

"Previously having worked before on ‘Almost There’, a feature film nominated for “Best Feature” in 2011 and 2013, the team of John deCaux (Director) and Adam M. Carter (Producer) have gathered together some of the finest Indie film makers and volunteers to create the all-new sci-fi action based web-series filming just under a week. Although the production team worked well together with the help of sponsors such as The Adelaide City Council, the post production team have been working around the clock creating special effects including amazing CGI sequences that will hit audiences in the face. The amazing Alien characters were carefully constructed under the direction of myself (John deCaux) along with Jack French, the Special Effects Supervisor."


So when is episode 2 due out? - hopefully we won't be waiting for too long or else I may have so 'send the boys round'…..Oh and how many episodes are you and your band of merry men (and girls)planning to release?

"I'm post production right now and the next episode is due out mid November. We plan to have three seasons of six episodes."

In all seriousness, I simply can hardly wait for episode 2. What we have here is a group of thoroughly professional, gifted and passionate people who are putting their heart and soul into this project. This is no half-hearted amateurish 'lets have a go and have a laugh' attempt at making something of note. If you don't believe me then check out the first production diary to see just how much work these guys are putting in to the preparation of this web-series. I have it easy on comparison, I just sit at my iMac and watch this stuff then spend a little while putting a few scribbles together and a deluded attempt to sound humorous and witty. These guys are the ones doing the real work, they are the real deal. 

I am still as envious as hell as to how good this series could become - but I can live with that.

John and the team can be reached on the Level 17 Face book page 
www.facebook.com/level17webseries.


The project can also be at the Level 17 official webpage HERE.






Saturday, 14 September 2013

Scary Stories: The Children's Film Foundation (BFI DVD)


I'm not one to dwell too much on the past, I'm really not. I have little time for regrets and for the plethora of 'what could have be been's' that we probably all have in the tattered timelines of our existence…..Well, there is the case of the missed opportunity with those sisters from Greece in 1999, but that's another story…………

Nostalgia, on the other hand - well that's something completely different, I often have time for that. Which is probably a good thing considering my love of classic sci-fi, fantasy and horror. So when I was received the latest preview DVD from the British Film Institute (BFI) via the marvellous ukhorrorscene I was as nostalgically excited as I have been for quite some time. Because not only was I going to watch and review a chilling story or three from a cherished but long-gone media production company, I was also going to take a brief trip back to perhaps the most important and influential parts of my childhood. The DVD in question is a three-part collection called Scary Stories and the company is The Children's Film Foundation.




For those of few of you that may not know (and boy do I pity you having missed out), The Children's Film Foundation (CFF) produced home-grown entrainment for young cinemagoers for well over 30 years. It was originally set up in 1951 as a non-profit initiative by the owner of the Rank and Odeon chains to give youngsters the chance to get the film-going habit, and not only that, they would get the opportunity to see the types of entertainment that THEY wanted to see. So saw the birth of the Saturday morning picture club. In truth it is difficult to over-estimate the importance and contribution the the CFF made to the entertainment landscape of Britain for over three decades. This wasn't some two-bit tin pot attempt to throw some cheap rubbish at the kids of this country in the hope of keeping us occupied for a few hours on a Saturday Morning (though if you ask my mum, she would say that my and my brothers weekly cinema trips were her much needed time of rest and sanctuary within the chaos of the Anderson boys' weekend). No, there was indeed a genuine warmth and rapport between the CFF and it's audience that was both unique and pleasurable. The Foundation knew what it was doing, and boy it did it well.

It is difficult to convey the excitement that I and many of my friends experienced each weekday until that long awaited Saturday morning came, and along with it, it's many delicious delights. Each and every member of the audience would be armed with enough sweets, chocolate and drinks to feed a small African nation, before plowing into the Halifax ABC cinema (now sadly gone i'm afraid) and bring good natured havoc and stress to the poor workers there who most probably dreaded the onset of this day just as much as we looked forward to it. Each new feature during the morning would be greeted with raucous cheers from the audience now out of it's collective head on sugar products - ahh, good times, good times.

But enough of that splash of Nostalgia for now, I'll return to the CFF later…… back to the DVD review, driver, and don't spare the horses!!!

Do not be fooled by the notion that this is a collection of stories designed for a young audience and that as a consequence the result for an adult wanting a few 'scares' would be be lacking and insipid. There are authentic periods of fear, drama and yes, even terror, in this collection. It's something of a contradiction that as the fortunes of the CFF were in financial straits the decision was made to be more and more daring and inventive in the material being produced. The later Gothic themed productions which thrilled and chilled young audiences back then will, dare I say it, still have the same effect on young and older viewers alike on this re-release.

It certainly helps that the usual CFF quality writing, production and acting is clear to see in this collection. The calibre of the storytelling is simply of the very highest order, there is no 'dumbing down' of the dialogue just because the target audience is young - a lesson perhaps that some could learn today in the annuls of children's entertainment. The locations are sumptuous, the special effects convincing and the action sequences are exciting. This is made all the more impressive by the fact that all three films were (as all CFF films had been) made on very limited budgets. 

Each of the three films are perfect illustrations of how the 'ghost' movies in the CFF catalogue often shared a common element - the past. Whether it be a 19th century Gothic fare as in the first film, the recent and harsh past in the second film and the unsettling and traumatic past in the third edition  - the element of time and its powerful effect are equally effective in their results.




The Man From Nowhere (1976) is a delightfully written nineteenth-century Gothic chiller and directed by non-other than the acclaimed director James Hill (A study in Terror, Born Free). Alice Harvey, an orphan, has been invited to the country to live with her great-uncle at his mansion, Tower House. However, from the very beginning of her arrival in the countryside, a strange and sinister Man appears & insists she return to the orphanage. If she doesn't leave, the stranger insists that the consequences will be deadly.  Who is this 'man from nowhere', why is he trying to scare her away? and will anybody believe her that this man from nowhere actually exists?

The acting in this piece is sublime - particularly from the young Sarah Hollis-Andrews who as Alice is magnificent as the at first terrified but still determined and resourceful girl. Excellent too is that fine British character actor, Ronald Adam as the grouchy old Uncle. Mention too should go to the location of the film, especially the old, rambling Gothic mansion that simply exudes menace and atmosphere.


The Theatre-style closing credits, with each of the principle actors bowing or curtsying to the camera is a genuine joy.




Haunters of the deep (1984) is perhaps my least favourite of the three films, though that may have something to do with it in part being set underground, thereby playing on my longtime fear of closed spaces. Nonetheless, it is a worthy feature. A wealthy American business man and CEO of a powerful mining company. together with his young daughter, is visiting an old disused Cornish Tin mine. He is intent on re-opening the mine to tap into the huge wealth of Tin that lies deep below the surface of the sea - despite the warnings of peril from a grizzled old miner (played by the magnificent character actor, Andrew Keir) about the violent past of the mine. The pressures of contemporary unemployment and the demands of big business (remember this is Thatcher's 1980's) means that there is plenty of local demand for risking their lives in the dilapidated tin mine - despite the reasons for it being closed in the first place. When history threatens to repeat itself and the ghosts of miners who suffered a grisly death reappear, It is left to the American businessman's bored daughter and local lad, Josh, to attempt a daring rescue.

The setting for this ghost story is once again a major plus with the Cornish coastline shown in all its picturesque yet dramatic glory.



In John Krish's Out of the Darkness (1985), we witness perhaps the most unsettling of the three stories in which a seemingly idyllic Derbyshire village is scarred and haunted by a tragic secret from the era of the Black Death. When the Neil family chance upon the picturesque village and decide to buy a dilapidated cottage they have no idea that it was once inhabited by a family who were destroyed by the plague. Things start to change though when a friend of one of the Neil boys starts to 'see' the ghost of a boy who it turns out was a 'village outcast of the plague', hunted out by the angry village mob. Soon, boys find themselves in the middle of a dramatic adventure when the horrific events of the past threaten to keep their painful secret, assisted by their friend, Tom, and a local folklore expert (played by Michael Carter - The Keep, Return of the Jedi).


Apart from the genuinely thrilling climax to the film, the audience is asked to consider the real world implications of the story - mainly the lengths that a group of people, in this case a village community, can ultimately be capable of. This is intelligent stuff.

The events of the film are given even greater resonance taking pace as they do in around Eyam, Derbyshire, where the plague had a huge impact. Even today you can see you can see the headstones of plague victims dominating the local graveyards.


Extras
  • Brand new High Definition transfers of all films - and believe me, they look great! As usual the BFI have made sure that the best available film materials from the national archive have been used in the transferring of these productions. Each of the three films has benefited beyond all recognition from the digital remastering resulting in a real clarity of picture free from dirt or crackles. 

    UK | 1976 + 1984 + 1985 | colour | English language | 57 mins + 59 mins + 66 mins | DVD9 | Dolby Digital mono 2.0 audio (320kbps) | Original aspect ratios 1.33:1 + 1.85:1 (16x9 anamorphic) + 1.33:1


  • Complete illustrated booklet with essays by The Man from Nowhere writer John Tully, actor Michael Carter and Dr. Rachel Moseley all providing fascinating insights and personal recollections into the making of the movies.

A little bit more on the Children's Film Foundation


The three hour(ish) long features included one this marvellous DVD perfectly encapsulates the ethos of the CFF throughout it's existence - to produce a variety of genre films all containing common ingredients such as mystery, adventure, science fiction and horror. 

Perhaps the Foundation's greatest achievement (apart from keeping raucous under-12's off the streets for a while) was it's major contribution in not just nurturing young and upcoming talent, but also using the talents of many well-established stalwarts of the British film industry. 


The golden years of the CFF were during the 1960's and early 1970's had weekly national attendances not far short of the half a million mark - staggering figures.

Alas, by the mid-1980's the audiences for these Saturday morning rituals were beginning to dwindle. Age, work and and an obsession with the opposite sex meant that yours truly had long since ceased to join my fellow manic throng at the Halifax ABC. In a wider sense, the output of the CFF was dealt two separate death blows. Firstly, the small tax on cinema tickets that channelled funds into British Film production was cancelled in the early 1980's by Margaret Thatcher and her band of society cut-throats. The cessation of the Eady Levy not only dealt a mortal blow to the CFF but it also meant deep trouble for the wider remnants of the British film industry that were holding on by their crumbling fingernails. 

The second death blow came in the form of television with the onset of children's Saturday morning shows with their selections of swapping or custard pie throwing. The organisation tried in vain to change with the times by negotiating production deals with the major TV companies and changing into the Children's Film and Television Foundation (CFTF), but the damage had been done. The production money and the audiences were gone.


Film production eventually stopped in 1987. 

The company is still in existence, with it now known as The Children's Media Foundation. It is an independent non-profit organisation which campaigns for good quality entertainment for children and young people throughout the UK. Not only that, it actively supports production and is determined to further wider understanding of cultural  media for children.

It would be all-too easy to become too blinded by the nostalgia of my childhood when talking about the special place the CFF and those Saturday morning get-togethers have in my and millions of others who shared that unique experience. What is perhaps more important is the knowledge that this company produced entertainment that never preached or patronised but always achieved the highest quality in all artistic areas.
So without being overly sycophantic, the BFI's objective to create a flourishing and innovative movie environment whilst cherishing and preserving the magnificent film collection that we have, should be applauded.

This collection of stories is a prime example of that need for preservation. That movies of a dark and risky nature, such as the 3 in this series were being made by an organisation in trouble is testament to the ethos of the CFF. 

That is why I have no qualms in giving this DVD 8.5 out of 10.

It may be made for youngsters…. but it will still scare!



This article can also be found on the most excellent of horror websites at http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/scary-stories-childrens-film-foundation-vol-4-2013-bfi-dvd-review/












Saturday, 7 September 2013

Sleepwalker (1984) BluRay review - BFI Flipside



You know me by now…...



I like to think of myself as many things: intelligent, fearless, loyal, lover, fighter, and daredevil are all but a few of my many qualities. I firmly believe that when the inevitable Zombie apocalypse happens I will undoubtedly be the 'Rick character', fearlessly leading my trusty band of fellow survivors to evade the Zombie hordes. Of that I have little doubt.

With regards to being something of a love-god, I'm also certain in my own mind that one day Helena Bonham Carter will finally remove those pesky restraining orders, dump that director fella of hers and finally see the light that I'm the real love object of her dreams.

Now, for some reason that I cannot fathom, but there are some people in the world that that profess to know me who would actually regard the thoughts that I have about myself as near being near-delusional. The words cowardly, nerdy and sadly fixated would probably be more like the descriptions that they (my so called friends and family) would have of me. They may have a point. After all, the medication has yet to quite kick-in and those voices in my head are still chattering away. 

So maybe I won't survive the Zombie apocalypse - or if I do I'll probably end up being that guy that goes insane and hides away in some top story apartment with his collection of firearms and a few department store mannequins for his conversational needs………And Helen may thank her lucky stars that I'll never utter those words of romance that I long to say - " Get your Bellatrix Lestrange outfit on, m'dear".

What I AM sure about is my love and passion for many things science fiction, fantasy and horror. When it comes to horror, my love of the genre knows few bounds but when it comes to British Horror, especially obscure British horror, then I'm well and truly obsessed. There is a huge catalogue of lost and forgotten gems of UK films out there that we need to keep established in the public psyche. Thankfully I'm not alone in that endeavour.

The British Film Institute (BFI) Flipside series has one singular purpose - and that is to revisit and reassess British film releases, particularly those movies that may have become overlooked, brushed aside or simply misunderstood at the original time of release. I'm not talking about the established collection of British classics that may have suffered for whatever reason on their initial release but have since garnered a reputation of loving cult proportions - The Wicker Man is an obvious example. No, what we are talking about movies which still lurk outside the list of acknowledged classics.

The BFI Flipside titles are all remastered to High definition and are always accompanied by a veritable plethora of extra goodies, many of which are often previously unavailable short films, documentaries and interviews. If that wasn't enough, each film title has it's own individual numbered packaging together with illustrated booklets often with contributions from the actual filmmakers themselves - you can tell I'm a fan, eh?!


So when I received the preview copy sent from the BFI (via the fantastic UKHorrorScene of the latest release of a long-thought forgotten gem of British Horror - well put it this way, I almost choked on my mouthful of Red Wine when I saw the title.

The reason for my excitement is many fold, perhaps mostly because it's a film that I've had high on my wish-list for many a year. I've wanted to see this for many reasons, not just for the film's content, but also because the film's initial critical reception, problematic release and eventual curtailing of a potentially great directing career could be a film plot of of it's own. It's an all-too familiar tale of the failure of the British film industry to recognise what talent it has on it's hands.

Sleepwalker (1984) is the 27th title in the BFI Flipside series. Directed by Saxon Logan, it is a biting mix of horror and social satire. 





THE PLOT


Not exactly the happiest of couples…..
The story is a relatively simple one. It features a wealthy couple Richard and Angela Paradise who are driving on their way to visiting friends Marion and Alex Britain in their decomposing country family home, the interestingly named 'Albion'. Tensions between the immediately obnoxious Richard (played by the always excellent Nicholas Grace) and his meek wife (Joanna David) are obvious - especially when Joanna has problems directing her husband in the ever-worsening rain storm to her friend's home. Meanwhile, intermixed between the scenes of the visitors marital disharmony we witness, back at Albion, snippets of some violent nightmares that the host Marion (played by the gorgeous Heather Page) is experiencing. Her mood isn't improved when the on the evening that the visitors are due to arrive the violent storm has smashed one of the windows of the ever-decaying house and ruined the meal that she had been preparing - I hate it when that happens….

Marion has no forced to abandon plans for the cosy candlelit meal, much to the displeasure of her brother Alex, a 'couple' who also seem to be perpetually on the edge of argument and who seem to be harbouring more than the usual level of sibling rivalry.  The atmosphere, on the arrival of the wealthy couple, is immediately strained with the meeting for the first time between the two men resulting in obvious dislike. The  foursome head for a local restaurant where the conversation becomes ever more aggressive with comments on the state of the nation, greed and power. The contempt that the wealthy and obnoxious Richard has for the more socialist principled Richard is palpable - the dialogue here is deliciously aggressive.


When the foursome return back to the house the so far strained evening of drunkenness and the heady mixture of social and sexual rivalry soon turns to horror as the inhabitants become the victims of a violently disturbed attacker…………………..



How not to shave without a mirror

Sleepwalkers is part horror and cunning social commentary - it has real intelligence at it's core. Logan's film cleverly puts together two contrasting couples who's social tension parallels the political and wider social tension of the time of filming. This was the 1980's when Thatchers' Britain was in full swing with all the new ideas of greed, ambition and uber-capitalism fighting headlong with the decaying socialist and perceived ideas of the traditional way of British life. Indeed, the director clearly signposts his intentions with the surnames of the main characters - brother and sister "Britain' who live in 'Albion' (the ancient name of Great Britaian) representing the dwindling fortunes of a once great era who's best years are clearly behind it. The surnames of the wealthy 'Thatcherite' couple -  Paradise - is a unmistakable reference to the new conservative ideal of a place where society no longer exists and where the world of socialism and it's 'life-sucking' ideals have disintegrated into dust. 

The dialogue, particularly between the Alex and Richard who clearly despise each others view of the world, is biting and snarling - the scene where Richard, seeing that Alex is little more than a pseudo-socialist, lets loose in this fabulous verbal broadside: 

"You know what you are, don't you? You're the meat-eater that can't bear the blood. And do you know what's put all that flab on your conscience? Blood. Hundreds of years of it. It's bought you your little nest to get squeamish in. You're a pimp Alex, you're a kept man."

This is no left-wing attack on the times, it looks at the absurdity of both extremes of the respected ideology. If that wasn't enough the story also contains more than it's fair share sexual undercurrent and tension - the feeling of frustrated lust and pent up violence is delicious. The scene where the previously aggressive Richard meekly shuns away from the overt sexual advances of Marion is genuine gold.


There's a little something in your eye m'dear
It would be pure hyperbole to suggest that Sleepwalker is a complete masterpiece. Its is good, very good, though are are a couple of mementoes when the story falters slightly - but only very slightly. The atmospheric  and violent beginning and end of the movie is brilliantly filmed by lighting cameraman Nicholas Beeks-Sanders. The editing,  by Michael Crozier is simply stunning and is pivotal to the potency of the film with it's images of violence and horror. The final scenes are as powerful as any I can remember. 

So why did this particular film slip into the cracks of movie history, and apart from the rare appearance in selected cinemas rarely has rarely shown its face in nearly 30 years? Perhaps one reason is it's short running time of just 49 minutes, making it neither a short film or a feature length film. In the newly booming world of VHS sales providing a sanctuary for even the most forgetful of movie productions, the running time provided a real problem of how to fill the rest of the tape.

Yet, upon initial completion of the film things had began so well. The initial screenings at the Berlin film festival were received with great enthusiasm, so much so that it received the prestigious Special Jury prize. Saxon Logan had fully expected the film to perform as the opener for another more bankable release, however the ever-increasing 'multiplex' mentality of 1980's movie distribution meant that the old headlining feature with supporting featurette had died. Quite simply, even though it had received critical acclaim, the British distributors completely failed to understand both what the film was about and what to do with it. Consequently, the film was stuck away in storage and largely forgot about….. forgotten that is, apart from a few in the industry and some of here in internet land.

Not only was a fine film ignored, a potential great direction career was damaged. Zimbabwe-born Logan had originally cut his teeth under the tutorship of the great Lynsey Anderson, acting as the great man's assistant during the filming of the classic O Lucky Man! Indeed, the Anderson-esque feeling of Sleepwalker is clear for all to see.

However, so disillusioned was he with the movie process within the disintegration of the British film industry that films projects on such a scale of Sleepwalker failed to materialise again. It was only thanks to the director himself that actual proof of the existence of the film in fact existed.

It is my hope that not only now will the existence of an excellent piece of British Horror filming reach the audience it deserves but also the talent of Saxon Logan will be finally recognised. It is still not too late for him to flourish.

The Extras included in this set are more than up to the BFI Flipside's usual quality

* Presented in both High Definition and Standard Definition

* The Insomniac (Rodney Giesler, 1971, 45 mins): a man experiences a night-time world that is part nightmare, part sexual fantasy 

* Stepping Out (Saxon Logan , 1977, 10 mins): a couple's untraditional early morning ritual is observed in a short drama which originally supported Polanski's The Tenant in UK cinemas 

* Working Surface: A Short Study (with Actors) in the 'Ways' of a Bourgeois Writer (Saxon Logan, 1979, 15 mins): Bill Douglas plays a writer struggling with a script about two women (Joanna David and Heather Page) 

* O Lucky Man: Saxon Logan in Conversation (2013, 72 mins): exclusive feature-length interview with the director of Sleepwalker

* Extensive illustrated booklet with new essays on all films and complete credits 



Sleepwalker (1984) is due for release on 23rd September 2013, it is remastered from the only surviving print and presented for the very first time on a home entertainment format. The title is available both on BluRay and DVD as a dual format edition.



This article can also be found on the most excellent of horror websites http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/sleepwalker-1984-bluray-review-bfi-flipside/