Following on from my top ten books /Authors that have influenced me I thought I would do my top five films or TV Shows.
I have to say that, Films and TV have had a great influence on the way I write my stories. I have always said that my writing style is like a film director – I place my characters into a scene, turn the camera on them, and then say- Lights, Camera, Action.
I’m not really interested in the surrounds (ie i don’t describe every inch of the room) I am more interested in the way the characters talk and inter act with each other.
Right, onto the films / TV series, and in no particular order:
1. The Nightmare man – BBC – 1981 (pg) Based on the 1978 book Children of Vodyanoi by David Wiltshire and adapted by veteran Dr Who scribe Robert Holmes, this gripping horror/sci-fi drama tells the tale of a lonely Scottish island stalked by a brutal killer who may be from another world. Dismembered corpses are found and a flickery film of one of the murders seems to show a terrifying, shadowy monster.
I watched this series as a 12 year old and it scared the hell out of me. I bought the DVD a couple of years ago and noticed the PG rating on the box. I watched it again and yes it still scared the hell out me, as I went back to being a 12 year old boy again. Nowadays, you most likely see worse things on Children’s tv!!! However, this series did plant the seed that would one day grow up to become the character The Midnight Man in my novels
2. Blakes 7 – BBC – 1978 to 1981. I could write pages on why I liked Blake 7, but this review from Amazon sums up everything perfectly for me – “Blake’s 7 is a puzzle. It shouldn’t work. It’s cheap, frequently tacky, occasionally camp, and sometimes just plain embarrassing. It was in many ways a major miscalculation on the part of the BBC (who gave it the same budget as the cheap police series it was designed to replace). And yet…
It is also brilliantly cast, expertly scripted, performed with utter conviction and is possibly the darkest SF series Britain has ever produced (The Prisoner notwithstanding). Set in a rubble-strewn galaxy of strip-mined planets, radioactive wastes and grimy power complexes, Blake’s 7 offers little in the way of comfort and definitely no hope for the future. In Star Trek, the coming centuries belong to the humanists – in Blake’s 7 they belong to the fascists.
The Federation is a merciless, nightmarish bureaucracy that only exists because of its uneasy alliance with Space Command, headed by the seductive, selfish and utterly lethal Supreme Commander Servalan. All dissent is ruthlessly suppressed and even the inhabitants of the Federation’s homeworld, Earth, are dosed with drugs to keep them subservient. Blake’s cause was hopeless from the start, and that is what makes it so heroic.
His crew are not the willing freedom-fighting comrades of a futuristic Robin Hood, but hunted, damaged individuals simply trying to stay alive. This is what made Blake’s 7 so addictive – the interaction between the main characters (Blake and Avon especially). Season One sets the scene perfectly with its opening four episodes, then almost immediately begins to show us the futility of Blake’s cause. Blake and his crew are only ever able to inflict mere pinpricks on the totalitarian regime that threatens them, but we share their longing, their hopes and fears. We cheer at every minor victory and feel despair with every major defeat.”
My books, though fantasy, are heavily influenced by the gritty, black, old world, feel of Blakes 7.
3. The usual Suspects – Film -18. Bryan Singer’s film noir The Usual Suspects casts a mesmerising spell, with the plot luring the viewer into ever-deeper and darker places. According to director, Singer, the premise for the film evolved from a magazine article. What does the phrase “usual suspects” actually mean, who are they and what happens when you probe their identity? Here, they are five expert criminals and a crippled con man in a line-up. The story, told via flashbacks, interrogation scenes and explosive sequences of a heist gone wrong, is a labyrinth of sub-plots and red herrings.
For me this film is simple perfect. In some small way, I just hope I have managed to capture the essence of the complex and gripping storylines this film has.
4. Kind Hearts and Coronets – Film – 1949 – U. “Set in Victorian England, Robert Hamer’s 1949 masterpiece Kind Hearts and Coronets remains the most gracefully mordant of Ealing Comedies. Dennis Price plays Louis D’Ascoyne, the would-be Duke of Chalfont whose Mother was spurned by her noble family for marrying an Italian singer for love. Louis resolves to murder the several of his relatives ahead of him in line for the Dukedom, all of whom are played by Alec Guinness, in order to avenge his Mother–for, as Louis observes, ” revenge is a dish which people of taste prefer to eat cold”.
He gets away with it, only to be arraigned for the one murder of which he is innocent. Guinness’ virtuoso performances have been justly celebrated, ranging as they do from a youthful D’Ascoyne concealing his enthusiasm for public houses from his priggish wife (“she has views on such places”) to a brace of doomed uncles and one aunt, ranging from the doddery to the peppery.
Miles Malleson is a splendid doggerel-spouting hangman, while Valerie Hobson and Joan Greenwood take advantage of unusually strong female roles. But the great joy of Kind Hearts and Coronets is the way in which its appallingly black subject matter (considered beyond the pale by many critics at the time) is conveyed in such elegantly ironic turns of phrase by Dennis Price’s narrator/anti-hero. Serial murder has never been conducted with such exquisite manners and discreet charm.”
Dennis Prices character is very much to the fore in my mind when I write the Brethren of the night. It’s that mixture of politeness and evil and I try and capture when I write them.
5.Conan the Barbarian- 1981 version. There is only one Conan the Barbarian film and that is the original one with Arnold Schwarzenegger
Mythical hero Conan (Arnold Schwarzenegger) vows to take revenge after the murder of his parents and destruction of his village. Determined to learn the ‘riddle of steel’, he sets off with his companions, Subotai the Mongol (Gerry Lopez) and Queen of Thieves (Sandahl Bergman), to kill Thulsa Doom (James Earl Jones), the leader of an evil snake cult. John Milius, who co-wrote the script with Oliver Stone, directs.
What can I say except – The definitive fantasy film. I rest my case.
You may be surprised by the lack of certain films or TV series, but you have to remember, I like my fantasy to be dark and I like it be subtle but hard hitting.