Sunday, 30 September 2007

The Millisecond Men Part 4


by D.R. MacMaster


"What did you just say?" asked Bob.

"I said that whatever those people on that ship are doing will destroy a really, really big chunk of the universe," declared Quo Vida, "this planet included."

"Is this one of those rewrite the timeline kind of things to save the world?"

"More or less," replied Quo Vida.

"Makes about as much sense as everything else this morning," said Bob. "What do we do?"

"We find a way to get on that ship."

"Would them opening a door help?" asked Bob. "Because that's what they're doing."

"Then let's go," declared Quo Vida.

"Shouldn't we try to get some back-up?"

"I had to use a very complicated quatro-dimensional field matrix to even come to this time from two hours in the future," said Quo Vida. "I had to do that alone because all of my colleagues, my 'back up' were all vapourized when most of the universe was destroyed."

"Okay," said Bob, "so we're on our own."

"Bring the shotgun," said Quo Vida.

"Why?" asked Bob. "I thought you said it was useless."

"When I first met you," said Quo Vida, "you were adamant that I remind you to bring the shotgun. You wouldn't tell me why, talked about preserving the timeline or something..."

"They're coming out," said Bob.

Three figures, bipedal in shape in tight silvery suits over their slender forms, stepped out of the strange vessel. They were carrying a variety of strange apparatus. Bob couldn't see their faces, since they were wearing bullet shaped metallic helmets.

"Aren't the jump suits a bit of a cliche?" asked Bob.

Quo Vida didn't answer, but pointed the device she called a Does-All and muttered to her self.

"Where the hell did they get that?" asked Quo Vida.

"Get what?" asked Bob.

"Their equipment," said Quo Vida, "is standard issue for Quantum Agents."

"That's a twist," said Bob, "is it a twist?"

"It's a twist," said Quo Vida.

"They're heading for the community centre," said Bob.

"Do you keep anything there?" asked Quo Vida.

"It's got a gym and a swimming pool in the summer," said Bob. "There are no alien death rays or time machines that I know of."

"There's probably a clue on that ship," said Quo Vida. "Let's take a look while they're at the gym."

Bob got up and followed Quo Vida across the field. The aliens in the distance didn't seem to notice them, and kept walking towards the community centre.

It was at that moment that Bob realized that he was going to be the first Earthman, not from a backroad in Alabama, to board an alien spaceship, and that he was in a housecoat, a ratty old t-shirt he wore to bed, slippers, and his blue plaid pyjama pants.

Not exactly a heroic ensemble.

Quo Vida scanned the entrance with her Does-All. Declared that the coast was clear and they went in.

Bob was unimpressed.

The inside of this 'advanced alien time-space-dimension ship' looked like it had been cobbled together out of junk. Mismatched computer terminals were crudely bolted to walls, strange lights blinked and some flickered, and the air smelled dusty and stale.

"I was expecting something a lot slicker," said Bob. "This looks like the set off a B-movie that had its budget slashed."

"None of this technology is really theirs," said Quo Vida.

"No," said a voice from behind them, "it's really mine."


So while you're waiting, CLICK HERE and pre-order ISSUE 3, it has to be great, I'm in it.

Friday, 28 September 2007

The Millisecond Men Part 3


by D.R. MacMaster

"Who am I?" asked Bob as he spun around and raised the shotgun.  Standing in front of him was a woman.  She was short, about an inch below five feet, slender, with blood red hair cut in a page-boy bob, green eyes with streaks of gray.  She was dressed in a purple dress with matching tights, boots, and absolutely no fear of the shotgun in Bob's hands.

"Ooh," said the woman.  "This is it."

"This is what?" asked Bob.

"This is the first time you met me," declared the woman.  "It's the fourth time I've met you.  This sort of thing happens all the time.  Especially when you're a Quantum Agent."

"Okay," said Bob, "now you're pissing me off."

"Imagine how I felt when I first met you?" asked the woman.  "You, a total stranger comes up and says: 'Hey Quo Vida, the Algorian hive mother is hiding in the parking garage...'"

"You're not making sense," said Bob.  His hands starting to tremble.

"Very little in my line of work makes sense," said Quo Vida.  "But that comes with the territory of a Quantum Agent."

"What did you do to my neighbourhood?" demanded Bob.

"Nothing has happened to your neighbourhood," said Quo Vida, "at least not yet, anyway.  What has happened, has happened to you."

"What has happened to me?"

Quo Vida took out a small tubular device at the end of a key-chain with only one key at the other, pressed a small red button and the air around Bob began to glow green.

"What are you doing?" asked Bob.

"My Does-All is illuminating your tachyon field," said Quo Vida.  "Your entire body generates particles that exist on levels of time that are a little complicated to explain."

"Are they dangerous?"

"No," said Quo Vida.  "They're harmless, but they do make you the temporal equivalent of a canary in a coal mine.  You can access all kinds of temporal anomalies."

"Is that what's happening here?" asked Bob.  "Is this an anomaly?"

"No," answered Quo Vida.  "We're in a millisecond."

"A millisecond?"

"Yep," she said.

"Is that your ship?" asked Bob.

"No," said Quo Vida.  "That ship belongs to the Treskarians."

"Who are they?"

"They come from a millinarian dimension."

"What the hell is that?"

"It's a dimension whose entire existence is contained in a millisecond of your time," answered Quo Vida.  "From their Big Bang to the Frozen Collapse, in less time than it takes to blink."

"In fact," she added, "if you were to shoot me the bullet would enter the time flow about a foot from you, and it would take about the relative equivalent of a few hundred trillion years for it to hit anything."

"How come you're here?"

Quo Vida pointed to a  purple belt with a blinking light on the buckle.

"Tachyon generator belt," she answered, "what comes to you naturally, I need technology to achieve."

"Okay," said Bob, lowering his shotgun.  "Why are these aliens invading, if they'll cease to exist before we even notice that they're here?"

"That's why I'm here," said Quo Vida, "I need to find out.  Because whatever they're doing it will set of a chain reaction that will burn out three quarters of the galaxies in the universe."

"How do you know that?"

"Because to me," she answered, "it has already happened."


While you're waiting, CLICK HERE and order Issue 3, featuring ME!

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

The Millisecond Men Part 2...




The house shook all around Bob.  Actually, the word vibrate would have been more fitting, but Bob wasn't in the mood to split semantic hairs.  He dove to the floor and held on for dear life.

The vibration grew more intense, then something he heard a strange roaring noise.  Bob crawled to his closet and pulled out his grandfather's shotgun.  It was an old pump action Remington, but he knew it worked, having used it when he and Ken Burton from accounting went skeet shooting.  He pulled out the box of shells and started loading it.

He wasn't exactly sure what a shotgun could do in this situation, but since he was the type of guy who yelled at the TV when the hero left the gun behind, he wasn't going to do it now.

The vibrating stopped, so did the roar, but he could make out a low hum.

Bob crawled over to the window and peeked out.

Everything outside was still frozen, not exactly everything, a genuine unidentified flying object was coming to a landing on the open field the neighbourhood kids used for playing sports.

The craft was round, but it wasn't a saucer.  It looked like an upside-down bunt cake pan that had been painted purple and dotted with glowing yellow knobs.

Holy crap, thought Bob.  It's an invasion.  A real life alien invasion.

Bob felt he had to do something.  Everyone else was frozen, he wasn't, and there was a spaceship landing in the field.

Somebody had to do something.

And that somebody had to be Bob.

Bob rose to his feet, and went downstairs and out the door.

He was going to do something.

He didn't know what that something was.  He just knew he had to do it.

Bob quietly skirted the front lawn, keeping himself low, hoping that whoever the invaders were, they didn't look down or something.  He crept behind Mrs. Appleton's azaleas, which had a clear view of the field, and looked up.

There was the alien spaceship.  Smoke rose from the feet that protruded from the belly of the craft.  However after it got a little more than a metre from the craft, the smoke froze, becoming a clump of grey hanging in the air.

"Hold it right there," said a voice from behind him.

Bob heard an electric hum.

It sounded like a weapon.


And while you waiting for the next exciting installment CLICK HERE and order Issue 3 of OUT OF THE GUTTER.

It has to be great, I'm in it!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

New Blog Fiction: The Millisecond Men

Welcome, like my past blog novel project, this hopefully short science fiction piece is just something I'm making up as I go along.


by D.R. MacMaster

Bob new that it was not going to be an ordinary day when he spilled the coffee and it didn't hit the floor. The coffee just hung there, the sunlight from the kitchen window reflecting on the thick, glossy black parts of the suspended spill, passing through the thin brown other parts. Bob got down on his knees, looked all around it, then under it. It was coffee all right, but it sure as hell wasn't acting like it. Bob poked it with a finger, it was hot, and it started to flow around his finger. Bob pulled back his finger and the coffee froze, apparently solid, and still suspended in mid-air above his canary yellow linoleum. A small hot trickle ran down Bob's finger. He shook it off, the droplets freezing in mid air. Now this was getting weird. "Honey," Bob called out to his wife Jennifer, "you really should see this... I never saw anything like this before." Now answer. Bob rose to his feet. She had to have heard him, he couldn't hear the shower running anymore. It meant that she had to be out....
...or did it?
Bob went up stairs, he wanted to run, but something made him take calm deliberate steps. He called to Jennifer as he came up, but still no answer came. Bob opened the bathroom door, called Jennifer's name again, knowing she didn't like to be surprised, then went inside. Jennifer stood before him, naked, the water, which should have been flowing all around her, stood rock still in little droplets in the air, and in the form of tiny interconnected domes on her skin. Bob stepped back, he didn't want to touch her, scared of upsetting whatever strange balance had now overtaken his house. He left the bathroom, backing out, one step at a time. He was certain that he was officially out of his mind.

Bob rushed to the bedroom. He had to call someone, anyone, to come help his wife, explain the coffee, or at least lock him up in a padded cell with enough drugs to make things move again.

"Hello?" Bob asked the phone, he didn't bother listening for the dial tone, he just dialled 911 and waited for an answer.

None came.

Bob hung up, then lifted up the handset and listened.

No dial tone.

Not even the hum of electrons flowing through wires.


Bob rose, and looked out his bedroom window. Outside was Maple Court. Good old Maple Court, bastion of undefeatable normalcy. Sanity had to be out there.

He was wrong.

Alex, the twelve year old who delivered the Bay City Herald, was on the sidewalk in front of the MacIntosh house, the morning's newspaper hanging motionless in the air, inches from his fingers.

Across the cul de sac Ron Cohen, who was a dentist, was holding the leash while his Jack Russel terrier, Pipsqueak stood on thin air, his legs extended and frozen.

Bob stepped back from the window.

Then the whole house began to shake.

"Now what?" asked Bob.


Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Smelling Like Bronson!


The sad thing is, he was 50 years old at the time, and still cooler than me.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Hollywood Babble On & On... #1

Oy gevalt.

There are times when I am ready to puke at how demented the whole celebrity/media axis has been getting lately. There was a time when I'd make mock of the foibles and screw-ups of the rich and famous, but lately it has gone from amusing to annoying, and I've tried to avoid it.

Of course the only way to do that is to leave my home and live in the deepest darkest cave in Sumatra and hope that the vampire bats don't get a satellite dish. So I've decided to forgo my old and irregular Hollywood Idiot Report, and start a new, and irregular feature where I rant about our deranged celebrity culture.

Lately all the buzz is about Britney Spears' and her flaccid 'comeback' performance at the MTV Video Awards. I skipped the whole trainwreck but the internet, and the regular media is on fire with stories about her being lame, fat, yadda...yadda...yadda...

Yet not one single person has taken MTV to task for what it's done.

What did MTV do? you may ask.

Well let me tell you.

MTV are a bunch of corporate scum sucking bastards.

Allow me to elucidate my findings.

You see the people behind the MTV awards knew full well that Britney's appearance would be a disaster. She was skipping rehearsals, the rehearsals she did attend were obviously hurting due to her rampant partying, and her choice of costume was a disaster in itself.

If MTV had any decency, the show's producer would have taken her aside, explained that she wasn't in any shape, physically or mentally, to do the act, and cut her from the show.

She couldn't see the impending disaster for herself, she's spent her whole life thinking that the one trick that can put all things right is wearing the skimpiest outfit she can squeeze into. She isn't smart enough for that sort of awareness.

But MTV didn't do the tough love, instead they realised that an on-stage meltdown would be great for publicity. Video of the disaster, complete with MTV's logo would be all over every media and internet outlet on the planet.

They didn't care about how the epic humiliation will only make things worse for an already mentally fragile person, or her children, as long as it got their brand out, they didn't give a fiddler's fuck.

And the rest of Hollywood seems to be going along with it. From late night comedians, to internet gossips, they're all buzzing about the big trainwreck on MTV. Sure her music was sugary and annoying, and her image a lesson in skanky hypocrisy, but she doesn't deserve to be publicly tormented like this.

I thought I heard a brief moment of decency when rapper Kanye West decried MTV for what they did. But my hope was soon dashed when, instead of considering a young mother's mental and physical health, he went on another ride on the ego train, declaring that he should have opened the show. Because he's better than her.

Way to care about your fellow human beings Kanye.

The closest to decent things was a report I read online where Bill O'Reilly asked comedian Dennis Miller about Britney. Miller, refused to crack wise, said he didn't want to be the last comedian to joke about her before her suicide.

And he's right.

Then folks will probably still be laughing.

That's all for today, I'm all ranted out.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Discount Bin Movie Club #3: The Long Goodbye

Welcome to another edition of my irregularly scheduled and erratically posted Discount Bin Movie Club!

Today we're looking at director Robert Altman and screenwriter Leigh Brackett's adaptation of Raymond Chandler's classic 1953 crime novel The Long Goodbye, starring Elliot Gould, Sterling Hayden, and Danish actress Nina Van Pallandt

The premise is fairly simple.  Private eye Phillip Marlowe is a man with only one real friend, drinking buddy Terry Lennox.  One night Lennox shows up at Marlowe's door and announces that he's leaving his wealthy, but chronically unfaithful wife, and wants Marlowe to give him a lift to Tijuana.  Marlowe agrees.

Upon his return, Marlowe is arrested.  His best friend Terry Lennox is accused of savagely beating his wife to death.  Marlowe refuses to believe this and refuses to cooperate.  After word of his friend's apparent death in Mexico reaches Los Angeles, the case is closed and Marlowe's released.

A short while later Marlowe gets involved with the Wades.  Roger Wade (Sterling Hayden) is a rich, best-selling author with a bad tendency to disappear, leading his wife Eileen (Nina Van Pallandt) to hire Marlowe to find him.

But a series of coincidences lead Marlowe to detect a possible connection between the Wades and the deaths of Lennox and his wife.

Now before I go on, I have to state that I am a big Chandler fan, and the Long Goodbye is one of my all time favourite novels.  I also have to admit that I'm ambivalent towards Robert Altman's work.  So it was with some trepidation that I leapt into the fray with this film.

Let me just list the pros and cons:

-Smart complex plot.  You really have to pay attention, Chandler and screenwriter Leigh Brackett didn't write this story for slackers.  Everything is a clue, and they're not going to stop and explain it for you.  Though they do give the original novel's themes of loss, loneliness and alcoholism short shrift, it is understandable under the circumstances.

-Sterling Hayden's performance.  The role of Roger Wade was originally written for Bonanza's Dan Blocker, who was a long time friend of Altman, but his death opened the door for Hayden.  Hayden's performance is masterful, his Roger Wade carefully cultivates the image of a Hemmingway-esque writer, brimming with confidence and braggadocio, but that's just a facade to cover up the fragile, self-loathing neurotic he really is.  He deserved an Oscar for this performance.

-Nina Van Pallandt was not only eye-candy for the film, but also gave an excellent performance of a woman with more going on than anyone knows.

-Cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond did a risky move exposing the film to more light than recommended, creating the sun bleached look of the film, but it works.

-Mark Rydell as mobster Marty Augustine.  His character is not in the novel, but was added to the movie for reasons I don't quite understand.  His character's erratic behaviour and obsessive compulsive quirks are a needless distraction and don't serve any purpose than the filmmaker's desire to have at least some mob activity in the movie.  Watch his scenes for a young Arnold Schwarzenegger as one of his goons.

-Elliot Gould as Marlowe.  The filmmakers based their film on what they called Rip Van Marlowe, the idea that Marlowe's been figuratively asleep since the 1950s and that he's out of place and out of step in 1970s Hollywood.  While it's an interesting concept, it just doesn't work, and seems to make Marlowe a borderline somnambulist instead of the sharp-witted, but emotionally crippled alcoholic in the novels.  Gould might have pulled it off, if he had been given a different direction.

-Robert Altman's affectations.  If you know Altman's films you'll no what I'm talking about, sometimes the 'quirkiness' of the characters seem forced and artificial, distracting us from the actually interesting story.

All in all the Long Goodbye is a good film, but it just wasn't the great film the novel deserved.

The DVD is a pretty good package, with a making-of documentary, and a pristine widescreen print that probably looks better than its original 70s theatrical release.  If you're an Altman fan you'll love it, but you might be a bit iffy about the movie if you're not.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

The Chasers Busted!

I've become a fan of an Aussie TV show called The Chasers War On Everything through their YouTube clips and when I heard that some comedians were busted getting through APEC summit security dressed like Osama Bin Ladin, I knew it was them.

Since they're looking at some jail time, I figured I would post a retrospective of some of their work.

I first encountered them when one of their operatives crashed a protest given by the ultra-nutty Westboro Baptist Church.  That comedian is a profile in courage...

The incident at the APEC conference isn't the first time they tested security measures in their own special way.  Here's two routines they did about Australian national security...

They also target politicians, like Hillary Clinton....

Celebrities like Bono....

And even mock Death Metal, is anything sacred?

I wish the lads well, and I'm sending them a carton of cigarettes to hopefully stave off forcible prison sodomy for an hour or two.

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Discount Bin Movie Club Preview!

I've been going through my collection of discount bin DVDs and have compiled a rough list of flicks I will be reviewing in upcoming irregularly scheduled editions of my little Discount Bin Movie Club.

Logan's Run (Michael Anderson)
The Killing (Stanley Kubrick)
Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick)
Suspiria (Dario Argento) --Sad story related to the DVD included.
The Long Goodbye (Robert Altman)
The Osterman Weekend (Sam Peckinpah)
Creepshow (George Romero)
Dillinger (John Milius)
Hulk (Ang Lee)
Excalibur (John Boorman)
Zardoz (John Boorman)
The Haunting (Robert Wise)
A Bridge Too Far (Richard Attenborough)
Carrie (Brian DePalma)
Chinatown (Roman Polanski)
The Fog (John Carpenter)
The Thing (John Carpenter)
The Changeling (Peter Medak)
Dog Soldiers (Neill Marshal)
Where Eagles Dare (Brian G. Hutton)

And many more....

I might pace the horror films for the Halloween season, make a theme month or something like that...

Monday, 3 September 2007

The Discount Bin Film Club #2: The Laughing Policeman

Welcome back to my new, semi-irregular feature, the Discount Bin Movie Club.

Today's picture is a long lost film of the 1970s Stuart Rosenberg's police procedural THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN starring Walter Matthau and Bruce Dern.

First thing, is the title is a tad odd. I don't think a policeman laughs at any point in the film. But it's based on a novel from Sweden, so that probably explains that.

The film begins with a nervous, sweaty man talking at a pay phone at the San Francisco train station, in fact, he's more than nervous, he's terrified, and he's literally sweating rivers. He's being watched by a young man with curly hair.

The sweaty man hangs up and gets on a city bus. The younger man follows.

It's late, so there are only a few people on the bus, at a stop a man in a trench coat and brown leather gloves gets on. He sits in the back seat and starts assembling something from parts taken from his pockets.

It's a submachine gun.

To be more specific it's this gun.

I know it may sound trivial, but it's a major clue in the mystery.

The sweaty guy sees the man in back has a gun, screams, but is gunned down.

So is everyone else on the bus, in a scene that is unforgettable even though it has none of the usual flash and visual trickery so common in today's films. It is fast and it is savage.

The gunman then disappears into the night.

The cops arrive and the investigation is headed up by Walter Matthau and his new partner played by Bruce Dern. Matthau needs his new partner because the young man who was following the sweaty guy was his old partner.

What follows is a detailed portrait of a police investigation. They go down blind alleys, wild goose chases, and one bogus tip almost starts a race riot. The case threatens to tear the city apart, until Matthau's character follows a hunch about this case's connection to an unsolved murder from his past.

I won't spoil the plot anymore for you.

Detail is king in this film, and Rosenberg shows a mastery of developing character not through speeches but through what is not said. As you watch the film you learn the Matthau's character has recently quit smoking, has a troubled marriage, and a complicated relationship with his kids, but none of that is actually talked about by anyone. It's all done through gestures and looks.

This being a police procedural mystery, we see everything from the POV of the cops in the case. Especially the killer. He is a mystery himself, seen only from a distance, his motives for becoming a mass murderer are never revealed, because he never explains them, nor can the cops read his mind.

Now it's a very, and I mean very 1970's movie. The clothes, hairstyles, and attitudes of the characters (especially towards different races & homosexuals) are all very much of their time, and will seem strange to anyone born after that tasteless, decadent, yet reactionary decade.

The DVD itself is a bare bones affair. The film is presented in widescreen with a nice clear print that is way better than the pan & scan letter-box VHS version I saw 20 years ago, the only extra is the theatrical trailer, which really doesn't do the film justice.

All in all it makes a very well made little time capsule of big city life in the 1970s, and an enjoyable, and unjustly overlooked little crime film.

So I'll leave you with the immortal words spoken by Louis Gossett jr. as his character, a detective working with Matthau, puts the beat down on a pimp who reaches for a knife: "That better be a sandwich, because you're gonna eat it."

Discount Bin Film Club #1: Kiss Me Deadly

I'm starting a new feature where I take a look at recent additions to my DVD collection that I discovered in the discount bin.

Today, we're looking at KISS ME DEADLY, a 1955 adaptation of Mickey Spillaine's hard-boiled best-seller featuring Ralph Meeker as hard-ass private eye Mike Hammer.

I'd like to start with a brief summary and then tell you about a feeling that the film left me.

The film opens with Mike Hammer picking up a young Cloris Leachman on the highway.  She's escaped from a mental hospital, wearing only a trenchcoat, and is running from both the law and a mysterious other gang of thugs and killers.  She leaves Mike a cryptic message before their intercepted, she is killed, Mike's injured and his lovely car is trashed.

In fact, here's the scene in question:

This put Mike on a trail of vengeance around Los Angeles, battling various forces vying for posession of a mysterious box.

And now the feeling the film left me...

Director Robert Aldrich did not like Mike Hammer.

In the film Mike Hammer's a sleazy, emotionally cold, rude, often angry, selfish, drunken, sexist, bully who stomps around like a meth-addled elephant in a china shop. He often ignores the often quality research done by his secretary-girlfriend Velda whom he treats like he's a pimp.  His first answer to everything is to dole out the harshness to everyone who dares to piss him off.

He's also not that bright.

There are dozens of times where you're screaming at Hammer to ask another obvious question, or to follow a lead Velda dug up for him, but he just blunders along, playing by his own rules.

And Aldrich punishes Hammer for his ignorance, Hammers gets beaten up, drugged, sapped, burned, and shot, all because of his smack first-ask questions later style.  He not so much an investigator, but a vigilante.

Aldrich also exagerrates Hammer's affect on women, to the point of self-parody.  Just about every woman he meets is making out with him within five minutes.  It's almost as if Aldrich found the tendency of female characters to fawn over Hammer in the novels comical and decided to make it a not so subtle joke.

There's also a sidekick of a Greek mechanic named Nick, whose constant declarations of "Va-voom!" get on your nerves right away, but relax, he gets killed off.

What saves the film is Aldrich's direction, the hyper-noir camera-work and lighting, and the villains.

Cowboy actor Jack Elam makes a pretty good thug in the picture, and Gabrielle the token noir femme-fatale is an interesting change of pace.  Where most noir femmes are cold, sophisticated characters, Gabrielle is portrayed as childish.  No I'm not saying child-like with its connotations of innocence and naivete. 

I mean childish as in she's selfish, impatient, impetuous, and cruel, with often wild mood swings, but she plays Hammer like a sucker.  And (here be spoilers) it causes all kinds of death and destruction when she opens the box.

The main villain is probably the nastiest pair of shoes you will ever meet, torturing, killing and maiming everyone that gets between himself and the box of mystery that is the centre of the story.  And I call him a pair of shoes is because his distinctive shoes are the only thing you see until the last few minutes of the film where everything, Hammer's bullishness, Gabrielle's childishness, and the shoes love of keeping secrets come to an apocalyptic head.

The cinematography swings effortlessly between gritty documentary realism, and hyper stylish noir lighting, making it a visual high point of the film, and always keeps it visually interesting.

Also Aldrich's casting choices are interesting.  Meeker's known for playing stoic, almost stony characters, and he includes just enough anger to bring out Hammer's temper.  To modern eyes he'll come across as stiff, but that's the Hammer character, no so much a human being, but a tool, or more fittingly, a weapon, to get to the solution.  Aldrich also casts more realistic looking women in the female parts over the usual hyper-glossy actresses of the 50s, giving the film a grittier look than the usual studio fare.

The DVD itself has few extras, no commentaries or featurettes, just the trailer, and the original studio ending, which was surprisingly more ambiguous and darker than the director's version on the disc.

All in all, an enjoyable over the top little trip to a genre and an era.