RESULTS: VOTE FOR YOUR MOVIE TURKEY!

Jupiter AscendingThe votes are in on your worst Movie Turkey!

It’s been an interesting vote. Obviously more people have seen Jupiter Ascending than I thought! And I am obviously not the only one who thinks The Hobbit Trilogy is bad. So here we go with the top 3:

Tying in 1st Place with 5 Votes: Jupiter Ascending

There is not a lot of trivia I can give about this film but here goes! The Wachowski siblings second film that Natalie Portman dropped out of, following Cloud Atlas (2012).

And also in 1st Place, with 5 Votes: The Hobbit Trilogy

Daniel Radcliffe, Shia LaBeouf, James McAvoy, Ethan Arkin and Tobey Maguire were considered for the role of Bilbo Baggins. However, Peter Jackson has said that his first choice was always Martin Freeman. Freeman was initially unable to accept the role, due to scheduling conflicts with Sherlock (2010), but Jackson reworked the entire shooting schedule for the Hobbit films to accommodate him.

The elk that Thranduil (Lee Pace) rides on is played by a horse, named Moose.

The first roar we hear from Smaug in the first scene of Smaug’s attack on Erebor is actually a sound-bite of the SFX Director’s 7 year old daughter “roaring”. It was manipulated and corrected to sound like a dragon and was put in the movie

Tying in 2nd Place, with 4 Votes: Basic Instinct 2

Robert Downey Jr. was set to star but had to drop out when he was charged with drug possession. Kurt Russell was attached at some point but bailed out because he felt uncomfortable with the nudity. Pierce Brosnan refused to play the male lead role because of distasteful elements. Bruce Greenwood was set to star but dropped out because he hadn’t been signed on yet and feared the actors strike. Benjamin Bratt was banned by Sharon Stone for not being a good actor.

Is notoriously known as being the first and so far only theatrically released followup to a box-office hit that did not even earn $10 million in the U.S. box-office.

And also in 2nd Place, with 4 Votes: Another 9 1/2 Weeks

I couldn’t find ANY trivia for this film so here is a 10-star review instead!

I think there’s two kind of males. One of them is the sexually overheated and uninhibited, first-sex-then-romance(or nothing) type, and the other one, who prefers the romantic involvement in its classic sense. First get to know, then trying to trust and to love. John Gray is the two kind in one. And Mickey Rourke makes a good job. This movie is not the rehearse of the first one, and OK, not as good too, but I think it shows the second kind of male. (9 out of 10) I would like to recommend The Casanova’s Return (1992). Alain Delon’s character shows great similarity to John Gray in Love in Paris.

I could go on and list the 2 films that tied for 3rd place, and the 2 films that tied for 4th place but honestly, I think I would lose the will to live.

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Stop Press!
I just heard that David Bowie died. I saw Bowie during his Glass Spider tour in Milton Keynes. It was a great concert. He was as cool and impressive as I had expected. I also listened to some of the material from his new album. “How on earth he manages to go on being that creative, I will never know!” I thought. He had so much more he could have done. His loss is a very sad one to the British and World music scene. RIP David Bowie.

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It’s New Year: Vote for your Movie Turkey!

At the Earth's Core

At the Earth’s Core

Okay all the nominations are in so its time to vote! Thank god there haven’t (so far) been any remakes of these movies!

The nominations are described in more detail 2 posts further down the page.

You have 6 votes per person. Please give 3 votes to your favourite (click the yellow ‘Vote’ button between each vote), 2 votes to your second favourite (click the yellow ‘Vote’ button between each vote) and 1 vote to your third favourite. Click ‘View Results’ if you want to see how the vote is going. Everyone should be able to vote, no matter what your browser.

Voting closes Sunday 10th January at midnight GMT.

It’s Christmas: Nominate your Movie Turkey!

At the Earth's Core

At the Earth’s Core

It wouldn’t be Christmas without turkey and if indigestion hasn’t already set in, maybe there’s space for a bit more? What is your top nomination for movie Turkeys? It doesn’t have to be a Christmas movie but just one so bad that you either reach for the remote or fall asleep.

How to spot a Turkey Movie

Turkey movies can be hard to pick out: you often don’t remember their names or who’s in them. But of course if its a sequel or a remake it has a very good chance of being a Turkey! Some movies are so bad they are actually fun and good for a few laughs. These aren’t those movies.

Here are some of mine. Add yours, either by commenting or on Facebook or Twitter.

  • Breakthrough – 1979: This sequel to the iconic Cross of Iron had nothing to recommend it except Richard Burton so drunk he had to be carried onto the set every day.
  • The Hobbit Trilogy – 2012/13/14: Sorry if I just made you choke on your chockies or turkey but, as a lifelong fan of Tolkien books, I think this trilogy lacks the quaint charm of the original or the grandeur of Lord of the Rings. The director tried to stretch and I am afraid he broke it. I reserve opinion on the dragon one because so far I haven’t seen it! Virgin Media doesn’t have it and it seems to have escaped schedulers on TV although the others haven’t!
  • At the Earth’s Core – 1976: This beauty stars Doug McClure (remember Trampas from The Virginian?) and Peter Cushing. Its kind of like Journey to the Centre of the Earth but with props you can throw together from scrap at a film studio. The beasts (whose name escapes me!) are just people dressed up and the WORST SPECIAL EFFECT I have ever seen. Watch out for Cy Grant (who did the voice for Captain Scarlet), the lovely Caroline Munro and a young Keith Baron. Oh and in case you are wondering, the film is so bad its almost good, but Cushing’s bumbling professor is just too over the top to get this film off the hook. In some scenes you can almost see McClure thinking, “Are they actually going to release this?”
  • Alexander – 2004: Colin Farrel stars as Alexander the Great. I think he must have resented doing this film because he actually exaggerates his own Irish accent and the film just becomes absurd! Truly un-watchable.
  • The Man with the Iron Fists – 2012: I can only think they got Russell Crowe to do this by promising to make The Water Diviner. It has Asian orgies (including Crowe going down on a few girls!!!), martial arts, a kind of Iron Man think going and just about everything else. I stuck with it but it was clear it was just a vehicle for the rapper who starred in it. Set in the mid 19th Century??? possibly??? when the baddies came on wearing Ray Bans I was shouting at the screen “Nooooooo!”
  • Babylon A.D. – 2008: Well, what can I say except that I fell asleep after half an hour. I wouldn’t include it but for the fact I woke half hour before the end and the end was as bad as the beginning. Just boring!
  • Reunion in France – 1942: This monstrosity stars John Wayne as US pilot shot down over France and trying to escape with the help of a bourgeois woman. Forgetting that Wayne was far too old to play a front line pilot by then (and probably too tall!), he doesn’t bother to act, the sets are probably cardboard and the plot would be more appropriate in an Abbott and Costello film! Why on earth Wayne’s characters have to give the lead female a male nickname I dunno, but it kind of makes me queasy in this case (Michelle becomes Mike!).
  • Living Free – 1972: This sequel to Born Free probably ended up in the bins of cinemas faster than any other movie in that decade. Watch it if you dare!
  • The Silver Chalice – 1954: Paul Newman’s first starring role. If you can get beyond the first ten minutes, please call us or a doctor; you need medical attention.
  • The Secret Invasion – 1954: I wish I could say this was Stewart Grainger’s last movie. That would at least offer him some excuse but it wasn’t. If you wanted to make a war movie on the tightest budget possible, this would be one way. The only props are a few sub-machine guns. Dire! Dire! Dire!
  • The Battle of the Last Panzer – 1969: My third war movie looks promising but isn’t.

There are apparently some William Shatner films, made in Europe in the early 70s, that are so bad they will never see the like of day. If anybody has seen one, let me know!

Hope this didn’t give you indigestion! Let me have your nominations by commenting. Nominations end 3 January. Then we vote!

Hottest, Coolest WWII Gadget Vote Results are in!

The first three places are:

Focke-Achgelis Fa 223

Focke-Achgelis Fa 223

1st Place, with 6 votes: Focke-Achgelis_Fa_223 – A dual rotor helicopter

When Otto Skorzeny was planning his raid to abduct captured Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from the Albert Rifugio hotel on the Gran Sasso in September 1943, his original choice of aircraft was a Fa 223.[14] The Fa 223 would be able to land directly in front of the hotel.[14] However, the chosen aircraft broke down while en route, and Skorzeny instead was forced to use a Fieseler Fi-156.[14]

The Drache could transport cargo loads of over 1,000 kg (2,200 lb) at cruising speeds of 121 km/h (75 mph) and altitudes approaching 2,440 m (8,010 ft)

The Silverbird Orbital Bomber

The Silverbird Orbital Bomber

2nd Place, with 5 votes, Silverbird

The design was a significant one, as it incorporated new rocket technology, and the principle of the lifting body, foreshadowing future development of winged spacecraft such as the X-20 Dyna-Soar of the 1960s and the Space Shuttle of the 1970s. In the end, it was considered too complex and expensive to produce. The design never went beyond mock up test.
The Silbervogel was intended to fly long distances in a series of short hops. The aircraft was to have begun its mission propelled along a 3 km (2 mi) long rail track by a large rocket-powered sled to about 800 km/h (500 mph). Once airborne, it was to fire its own rocket engine and continue to climb to an altitude of 145 km (90 mi), at which point it would be travelling at some 5,000 km/h (3,100 mph). It would then gradually descend into the stratosphere, where the increasing air density would generate lift against the flat underside of the aircraft, eventually causing it to “bounce” and gain altitude again, where this pattern would be repeated. Because of aerodynamic drag, each bounce would be shallower than the preceding one, but it was still calculated that the Silbervogel would be able to cross the Atlantic, deliver a 4,000 kg (8,800 lb) bomb to the continental United States, and then continue its flight to a landing site somewhere in the Empire of Japan–held Pacific, a total journey of 19,000 to 24,000 km (12,000 to 15,000 mi).

An alleged photograph of the inner workings of Die Glocke from Igor Witkowsk's book.

An alleged photograph of the inner workings of Die Glocke from Igor Witkowsk’s book.

In 3rd Place, with 4 Votes, Die Glocke

Die Glocke is described as being a device “made out of a hard, heavy metal” approximately 2.7 metres (9 ft) wide and 3.7 to 4.6 metres (12 to 15 ft) high, having a shape similar to that of a large bell. According to an interview of Witkowski by Cook, this device ostensibly contained two counter-rotating cylinders which would be “filled with a mercury-like substance, violet in color”. This metallic liquid was code-named “Xerum 525” and was “stored in a tall thin thermos flask a meter high encased in lead”. Additional substances said to be employed in the experiments, referred to as Leichtmetall (light metal), “included thorium and beryllium peroxides”. Witkowski describes Die Glocke, when activated, as having an effect zone extending out 150 to 200 meters. Within the zone, crystals would form in animal tissue, blood would gel & separate while plants would decompose into a grease like substance. Witkowski also said that five of the seven original scientists working on the project died in the course of the tests. Based upon certain external indications, Witkowski states that the ruins of a concrete framework—aesthetically dubbed “The Henge”—in the vicinity of the Wenceslas mine (50°37′43″N 16°29′40″E) may have once served as a test rig for an experiment in “anti-gravity propulsion” generated with Die Glocke. However, the derelict structure itself has also been interpreted to resemble the remains of a conventional industrial cooling tower.

Maybe you don’at agree with the result? Discuss!

You will be able to read more about Die Glocke in a subscription publication I am planning for 2016. Join my Newsletter to keep up to date.

Vote now: Hottest, Coolest WWII Gadgets!

Focke-Achgelis 330 Gyroglider

Focke-Achgelis 330 Gyroglider

It’s time to vote!
To celebrate the release of my new book in January, December Radio, which describes what might have happened had the Nazi’s built a viable nuclear bomb, we are voting on the hottest or coolest gadget in WWII. The nominations, with links so you can read more information, are below the voting box. Make your choice carefully.

You have 6 votes per person. Please give 3 votes to your favourite (click the yellow vote button between each vote), 2 votes to your second favourite (click the yellow vote button between each vote) and 1 vote to your third favourite. Click ‘View Results’ to check you have voted.

Voting closes Sunday 13th December at midnight GMT.

Here are the nominations (in no particular order):

  • Die Glocke – German project to build an anti-gravity craft in the shape of a bell
  • Krummlauf – an insane German device for shooting round corners
  • British Churchill Tank – that could lay a bridge within minutes
  • Silverbird – an orbital bomber, precursor to the Space Shuttle and able to ‘skip’ along the Earth’s atmosphere (in theory) to New York and on to Tokyo. Read more about it in December Radio
  • The Bouncing Bomb – Designed by Barnes Wallis to be used by 617 Squadron to successfully attack the Rhein dams
  • The Horten flying Wing – only one remains – locked away in an American hangar
  • Focke-Wulf Triebflügel – A Vertical Take off and Landing aircraft. Despite what this article says, I have seen grainy photos of one finished and which I believe flew twice, killing its pilot.
  • Fritz X – the first guided missile (by radio), designed in Germany
  • The TDR-1 Assault Drone – this amazing USA device was not only a guided bomb but it could also be carried by a gliding drone, as in this grainy photograph. More info half way down the page here: http://www.tfcbooks.com/special/missiles.htm Its bigger brother used a B-17 or B-24 bomber guided using television
  • The Nazi Nuclear Bomb – that might have worked. It used an ingenious method to create fission according to this source (unverified). Read more about it in December Radio
  • Focke-Achgelis_Fa_330 – a gyroglider that could be towed behing a U-boat so that the observer could see further
  • The Bombe – an electro-mechanical computing device used at Bletchley Park to decrypt the Enigma Code
  • Focke-Achgelis_Fa_223 – A dual rotor helicopter
  • Enigma Machine – The German encryption machine that created a coded message which was, at first, considered virtually impossible to decipher
  • RAF Pigeons – Okay maybe this isn’t exactly cool but it’s so nuts I had to include them! Some of them were awarded bravery medals. They deserve a mention!
December Radio cover

December Radio cover

And if you are wondering what December Radio will look like, here is a preview of the cover.

Nominate: Hottest, coolest WWII Gadgets

The Silverbird Orbital Bomber

The Silverbird Orbital Bomber

Christmas build-up this year is getting far too frenzied for my liking, rabid, venal. I have seen a set of adverts during a programme which show you all the amazing, mega-fatty food you can buy at Christmas and inserted between them is an advert showing you how you can avoid indigestion! Will companies stop at nothing to flog us their wares for Christmas? Oh well, at least it’s still magical for kids.

For us oldies, let’s take a break from it. I know War is not to be glorified and I don’t, but it’s still interesting to remember some of the ingenious devices invented during the conflict, some of which we are still benefiting from now, in peacetime. Also, I have a new book, December Radio out in the New Year so I wanted to get the theme of WWII up and running before the Christmas Turkey gobbles up all other thoughts. And while we are voting, let’s remember that in December 1944, most allied soldiers still hoped the war would be over before Christmas. Let’s remember how they suffered in freezing conditions to give us the freedom to celebrate Christmas as we pleased (but not by spending more than we could afford and getting stressed about it!)

Here are my top 10 devices (in no particular order). Please comment (or tweet me @Lazlo_F or FB me at facebook.com/lazloferran) to add your own nominations before Thursday 10 December. I will add them and then we vote!

  • Die Glocke – German project to build an anti-gravity craft in the shape of a bell
  • Krummlauf – an insane German device for shooting round corners
  • British Churchill Tank – that could lay a bridge within minutes
  • Silverbird – an orbital bomber, precursor to the Space Shuttle and able to ‘skip’ along the Earth’s atmosphere (in theory) to New York and on to Tokyo. Read more about it in December Radio
  • The Bouncing Bomb – Designed by Barnes Wallis to be used by 617 Squadron to successfully attack the Rhein dams
  • The Horten flying Wing – only one remains – locked away in an American hangar
  • Focke-Wulf Triebflügel – A Vertical Take off and Landing aircraft. Despite what this article says, I have seen grainy photos of one finished and which I believe flew twice, killing its pilot.
  • Fritz X – the first guided missile (by radio), designed in Germany
  • The TDR-1 Assault Drone – this amazing USA device was not only a guided bomb but it could also be carried by a gliding drone, as in this grainy photograph. More info half way down the page here: http://www.tfcbooks.com/special/missiles.htm Its bigger brother used a B-17 or B-24 bomber guided using television
  • The Nazi Nuclear Bomb – that might have worked. It used an ingenious method to create fission according to this source (unverified). Read more about it in December Radio

December Radio cover

December Radio cover

And if you are wondering what December Radio will look like, here is a preview of the cover.

Poll Results: Which is the Best Scifi Vehicle Ever?

Sulaco from Aliens (1986)

Sulaco from Aliens (1986)

The results are in for the poll: Which is the Best Scifi Vehicle Ever?

1. Sulaco spaceship from Aliens (Movie 1986)
2. The USS Enterprise from Star Trek (1966 TV Series)
3. Thunderbird 2 from Thunderbirds (1965 TV series)

Here are some interesting facts about the podium winners!

1. Sulaco spaceship from Aliens (Movie 1986)

The USS Sulaco was a Conestoga-class troop transport ship in service with the United States Colonial Marine Corps, assigned to 2nd Battalion Bravo Team.[3] It was most notably used in the investigation of the Hadley’s Hope colony on Acheron (LV-426) in 2179, when it was manned by Lieutenant William Gorman’s combat unit of Colonial Marines.

The Sulaco is basically a big gun (according to ash)

When the set crews were looking around for floor grating to use on the Sulaco set design, they asked a local set design manufacturer/shop if they had anything of the sort. Indeed they did, an immense pile of old floor grating had been sitting out in the back of their shop for the last seven years. It was left there from when they tore down the set of Alien (1979).

2. The USS Enterprise (NCC-1701) from Star Trek (1966 TV Series)

Here is Mike Jefferies’ original design for USS Enterprise

In the hallways of the Enterprise there are tubes marked “GNDN”, these initials stand for “goes nowhere does nothing”.

In the original series, the ‘arrowhead’ badge worn by the crew of the Enterprise was meant to be an insignia for the Enterprise only. If you’ll notice on any ‘guest’ Starfleet character, they all wear different symbols on their uniforms

3. Thunderbird 2 from Thunderbirds (1966 TV series)

When the launch sequence of Thunderbird 2 was shot, pilot Virgil Tracy was shown being taken to the craft in civilian clothing. When the completed sequence was cut together, he was seen to have mysteriously gained a uniform. To provide continuity, a scene was later shot and added showing his uniform appearing in the cockpit.

Two episodes, “The Man from MI.5” and “Attack of the Alligators!”, feature the full Thunderbird 4 launch sequence shown from inside Pod 4. In other episodes featuring Thunderbird 4, we have only seen Thunderbird 4 emerging down the ramp from outside the pod door. “The Man from MI.5” is the only episode in which Thunderbird 2 gently rests the pod on the surface of the water and then rises clear of the pod with lifting jets, whereas “Attack of the Alligators” shows Thunderbird 2 lifting from the pod several minutes after landing. Normally, the pod is simply dropped on to the water.

Brains designed Thunderbird 2, as he did all their vehicles.

Thanks for voting! Whether you disagree or agree with the results, your comments will be welcomed below.