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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Guest Blog #1 - Into the Future: 5 Pieces of Sci-Fi Tech that Exist Today

Welcome to the first of the guest blog slots for 5D. This inaugural piece comes across the pond from 5D headquarters and deals with the fascinating subject of modern technological devices that can trace their origins back to a variety of Sci-Fi sources. It's a great read so check it out!

If you would like to be a guest blogger for me then you can contact me through my website at

Into the Future: 5 Pieces of Sci-Fi Tech that Exist Today

Science-fiction has given us a glimpse of the future where advanced technology enables humans to build a better world for themselves. You may have a favorite piece of sci-fi tech on your eventual wish list but these five REAL futuristic devices find their roots in the inspiring genre of tomorrow.

Star Trek PADD - The Original iPad

The Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy tablets have made on-the-go computing easy without having to lug around a heavy laptop or a cumbersome charger. But Captain Picard and his crew made use of similar technology with their PADDs- Personal Access Display Devices- twenty-three years before Apple introduced the iPad. While the Enterprise is shown making use of the PADD for exploration and maintaining a galaxy-class starship tablets of all brands are being used in a variety of ways. From fast access to records and data in healthcare to a cat toy, the PADD is here to stay.

Iron Man Armor - Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS)

Stan Lee created the character of Tony Stark as a Cold War era Howard Hughes in 1963 while Robert Downey, Jr. gave the character new life in the 2008 movie. His fully-equipped weapons arsenal and flying suit gave the US Department of Defense its own ideas. The TALOS repels bullets, allows wearers to lift heavy objects and comes with heating and cooling systems. The system is due to be unveiled in 2018 but it lacks the one thing we all want from the Iron Man armor - flight.

Credit Cards - Credit Cards in Looking Backwards by Edward Bellamy

While modern sci-fi giants dominate screens and store shelves we often forget that there was a time when some of the things we use every day were future imaginations. Such is the story with credit and debit cards. Though we swipe them for seemingly everything, Edward Bellamyin his 1888 classic novel introduced the idea of credit cards to the world. While the actual idea didn't catch on until the 1950's with Frank McNamara creating the Diner's Club. Bellamy's novel is full of eerie accurate predictions of our own modern credit card system.

Earbuds - Ray Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451

Ray Bradbury is a literary master and his dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 continues to be a recommended classic. Each time you pop in your earbuds to listen to your favorite tunes you have Bradbury to thank for imagining the concept. In truth in-ear listening devices were first developed in the 1850's, but Bradbury gives them the progressive twist they needed to become a modern forecast. His future world calls earbuds "seashells" or "thimble radios." In fact Bradbury's novel goes on to make several future technology predictions that have since been made real.

Star Trek Tricorder - Futuristic Healthcare

Gene Roddenberry's future visions in Star Trek continue to inspire future innovations and the thought of a tricorder to be used in healthcare is one that has a lot of push. In the show we see Doctor Crusher whip out her tricorder, hover it near a patient and get an instant vitals reading on a palm-held device. The Qualcomm Foundation has an active grant program for those who create a tricorder to their specifications. The Scanadu Scout is a great example of tricorder technology that makes use of something everyone has these days - a mobile smartphone.

When it comes to sci-fi technology, life imitates art as it inspires scientific advancement. Some ideas may seem far-fetched but we can always hope that one day teleportation or warp drive will come true.

Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes about technology and other gadgets and gizmos aplenty. She currently writes for Total Voice Tech, her go to for dictation equipment.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Planet Jimbot - The Samurai

For those of us who have been wondering what the good people over at Planet Jimbot have been up to recently, well wonder no more. Not only can I divulge what their newest release will be, but I can say with complete confidence that this may be the best book from them yet - and no, that is not empty hyperbole, I sincerely mean it, because The Samurai is quite frankly astonishing.

I know what you're thinking - er no, I don't mean that you're thinking about that particular thing you get up to at weekends.... and to be perfectly honest it's rather disgusting, and probably illegal in certain counties - I should know. What you're actually thinking is that judging from their recent quality output, Planet Jimbot have quite a lot to live up to. To see what I mean you could do no better (well, actually you could, but let's pretend for a moment or two eh?) than check out some of my previous ramblings and scribbles; for example HERE you can read about the fallen superhero App-1..... "In a world overrun by terror,  despair and monsters, three kids cling on to the belief that there once existed a champion of good, a super-hero now gone and all but forgotten. Despite the dangers and sheer hopelessness of the situation, they decide to go in search of the super-hero once known as App-1."

You could also look HERE for the story of Amongst the Stars, which an alien race reaches out to planet Earth, but only with its collective mind. But for the aliens, too late, mentally it proves a crippling experience, where Earth drags them down to a level they don’t want to go and cannot escape from. They are trapped in something akin to a horror movie.

If that wasn't enough from me, there was also the rather fine article for Good Cop Bad Cop HERE, a hugely enjoyable no-holds-barred romp of unhinged psychosis and violence (and I'm not just talking about the bad guy). The dialogue in this book, courtesy of Mr Alexander, is as crisp and dynamic as ever which provides a nicely authentic feel of the Glasgow underworld without ever falling into Rab.C. Nesbitt territory of pastiche.

So this week I learnt that the award winning (GoodCopBadCop) and award nominated (Wolf Country) writer and artist team, Jim Alexander and Luke Cooper, have joined forces once again to create the one-shot ‘The Samurai’. 

Who is he?

He is the Samurai.

He seeks revenge.

The Samurai is an unrelenting, brutal, visceral, and sometimes dreamlike tale. 

Everything and everyone around The Samurai is seen through one filter, the need for revenge.  

Revenge is all he is.  Revenge is all he ever can be.

I said earlier that The Samurai might just be the best Planet Jimbot release yet, believe me, it really is that good. 

This is a tale that is completely unforgiving in its brutality, or to put it another way, violently violent in its unrelenting violence. However, the story isn't simply a one-trick violent pony because the story throughout maintains an almost poetic feel in terms of narrative and atmosphere. In some ways the feel of the book is somewhat old-fashioned in its approach - and I don't mean that in a negative sort of way, in fact it's meant as a compliment.

There are echoes of the golden age of 2000AD (in other words, the first 150 issues) in The Samurai with dialogue that is both funny and piercing combined with an artwork that is relentlessly exciting and gory whilst all wrapped up in a thought-provoking philosophical blanket.

The warning on the cover that the book contains 'mature content' is pretty much spot on, though I would personally have instead had a 'beware of bloody decapitations, hacking of limbs and various forms of ritual disembowelment..... Oh and don't forget the rampant attempted cannibalism' warning. Yes that's right, just in case you hadn't got the message, it's a violent story, and while The Samurai could easily be subtitled " A 1001 ways to slice and dice with a Samurai sword', there's no escaping the thoughtful undertones throughout the story. It makes a refreshing change for comic creators to treat the reader with more than a modicum of intelligence. I like a good gory Samurai massacre as much as the next person, but I also like to think about that stuff too....which actually sounds a lot more sinister and creepy than I meant it to.

One could be forgiven for thinking that a story that is clearly a tale of one mans quest for revenge would by definition result in a one-dimensional tale of predictability. Au contraire mon amie, because the charm here is in finding the layers of unpredictability that permeate throughout the 20-odd pages. The result is a feeling of constant surprise throughout at the directions that the story takes. I can safely say that I enjoyed every single page.

Publisher Planet Jimbot is delighted to announce that they'll be launching the book at Birmingham Comics Festival (Edgbaston Stadium) on Saturday 23rd of April. In attendance will be writer Jim Alexander. 

Alternatively an interested buyer can order the book online from the Planet Jimbot shop:

This article can also be found via the 5D website There you can find a veritable feast of blog articles, news items, pictures and other mouth-watering salutations to the gods of the geeks. We have now inherited the earth, you know.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Doomwatch finally comes to DVD

I'm sure that there will be some within the Sci-Fi fraternity who may scoff at this admission, but I suppose it wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been ridiculed, the list is indeed endless – and probably not without merit. However it must be admitted that prior to the announcement that the series would be finally released on DVD, I had barely any recollection of the original Doomwatch TV series that aired back in the early 1970's. After all, I was but a mere munchkin at the time it must be said and in truth, and I had even managed to miss the rare repeat of the series on territorial TV back in the 1990s. So when I received the email informing me of this ‘highly anticipated’ DVD debut I wasn't immediately drawn to putting together a blog piece on a series that I knew very little about.

However, in my usual methodology of changing my mind with a speed of what some would regard as flippant disregard for rational thinking, I decided to request the review discs and see what the fuss was all about. You see, In truth, it was quite clear, even before I received the review DVD’s, that judging by the excitement that news of the release was starting to create I really didn't want to miss out on the fun.

It seems that the ground breaking classic (I’ll confirm whether that is actually the case in a while) British sci-fi series Doomwatch originally aired on the BBC from 1970 – 1972 and at its peek, attracted in excess of 13.6 million viewers and spawned two film adaptations. Although in huge demand, it has never before been available on DVD, until now... Thanks to the wonderful people at Simply Media Doomwatch Series 1-3 makes its long awaited DVD debut.

The synopsis of the series is as follows:

"Doomwatch is the name given to the team lead by Dr. Spencer Quist (John Paul – A Countess from Hong Kong), alongside Colin Bradley (Joby Blanshard – The Brothers), Toby Wren (Robert Powell – The Detectives), and Dr. Fay Chantry (Jean Trend – Z Cars), The cult series is the brainchild of Kid Pedler and Gerry Davis, the men responsible for Doctor Who’s iconic Cybermen, and follows government agency The 'Department of Measurement of Scientific Work' -  AKA Doomwatch, as they fight to protect mankind from all manner of horrifying technology and experiments gone wrong. Each week they must battle hyper intelligent rats, toxic waste, plastic eating bacteria, mind destroying sound waves and genetic mutations from day to day – all the while confronted with volatile corporations, their own unsupportive government superiors and ever changing dynamics within the team."

But is the series actually worth watching? Well, in a word, most definitely yes (before you start, I know that’s three words).. Set in a time of public fascination with the perils of science and technology, Doomwatch offers a glimpse of real scientific concepts, that are still relevant today and explores the moral dilemmas faced by those left to pick up the pieces when things inevitably go wrong. Over a period of three days I sat and watched each and every episode, and while it's safe to say that not all work as well as others the collection as a whole is distinctly robust in its overall quality. Some of the stand out episodes being;

* 'Tomorrow, the Rat' where some genetically enhanced rats (well why not) have escaped from the lab and are running amok amongst the good people of London.

* 'Re-entry Forbidden' which is a fascinating psychological study into the crumbling mental state of a British Astronaut.

* 'You killed Toby Wren' in which one of the stars of the show is killed off when a bomb diffusing goes drastically wrong.

Yes, it's the 1970's BBC where the production values of the corporation were well known in the 'lacking much credibility' department, and Doomwatch didn't escape this with much of the action being obviously studio based. However this is but a very minor consideration as it is perfectly offset by a combination of great writing, incredibly inventive and daring concepts and acting of the very highest quality. The result is to be served up with stories of intelligence, excitement and no little tension - great stuff!

There are many who regard the 1960's and 70's as a golden age of genre television, and that maybe the case. In truth I tend to think that right now we are experiencing another golden age of television which could more than hold its own against any time period. It must be said that there will be some who find Doomwatch being very much a product of it's time in some ways. For instance the fashions on show (even for someone like myself who get up in this period) induce the odd double-take with the plethora of brightly coloured cravats and neck ties. Not only that but every body smokes with an abandon that would make any cancer researcher weep with frustration. The one thing that really stands out though is the rampant casual, and not so casual sexist behaviour of some of the team towards their email counterparts. This regular condescending sexual banter and the overt physical treatments (regular smacks on the bum) are are interesting example on just how far we have come from that time. Nevertheless, despite this, the series succeeds in telling some damn good science fiction and horror parables. I really can't recommend this series highly enough and it surely needs to be part of any discerning Sci-Fi lovers collection.

The cost saving mantra throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s which regularly saw the BBC wiping the tapes of much of their production must surely rank as one of the highest order crimes in regard to the mistreatment of popular culture. The short sighted need to save money at the expense of saving their creations has meant that many classic productions simply no longer exist, and if they did mange to survive the departmental cull, the ones that did survive are not always great in number. The latter applies here as not all of the episodes made it but the ones that still exist come to DVD as Doomwatch Series 1-3 The Remaining Episodes on 4 April 2016. The available episodes will be released in a stunning seven-disc box set, together with unseen episode ‘Sex and Violence’ and the BBC documentary ‘The Cult of Doomwatch’.

This article can also be found, along with many other goodies, on the 5D website at

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Smile (2016)

It's safe to say that back in the day I had my fair share of bad dates, some were probably my fault, some definitely were not. Perhaps the worse dating memory I have (and I've no idea if it was my fault or not) was when I was around 19 years old, it was a blind date and an unmitigated disaster. A mutual friend had put the two of us together after myself and the girl in question had recently coming to the end of respective long term relationships. Our mutual friend thought we would hit it off....... we didn't. On the contrary I think that she must have decided pretty quickly during our first drink that she hated me, just a little bit. For two long painful hours we attempted polite conversation, but to no avail. I'd even tried asking her about her favourite horror movies - it turns out she hated them. I asked her about her favourite Sci-Fi movies - she hated them even more. Eventually she made an excuse about needing to make a quick phone call at a nearby pay phone (this was in the days before the wonders of the Internet, mobile phones et al). After 30 minutes it finally dawned on me that she had legged it away. I never saw her again.

Now while that date with a girl, whose name for the life of me I cannot remember, may have been one of the less than stellar romantic evenings of my life, it could have been worse. Take for example the plot of the latest short film from a friend of 5D, Stuart Gilmartin - Smile. The last time I wrote about Stuart's work was in regard to his involvement in the excellent post apocalyptic film, Safe Haven - for which you can read the review RIGHT HERE.

Well it seems that Stuart either continues to value my opinion (doubtful) or that his usual go-to blogger is still incapacitated in some quiet back street gutter in Dundee (probable), because he asked me this week week if I'd look at his latest piece of work. Smile is not only a brand new short film but in fact it's not even finished yet, so much so that Stuart provided me with a warning that there were a few blips and jumps that still needed to be ironed out. 

Not only that, but the credit sequence at the end of the film on the super-screet online screener also isn't finished so I was unable to perform my usual rip-off of information and pretend is was my own research professional standard of research.

Not to worry, because in my usual undaunted approach to blogging (some may define that as chaotic and all-over-the-place) I went ahead in watching the film - after all, it's one of the benefits of this blogging malarkey to know that I may be one of the very first people in the world to see a movie ........ well apart from those involved in making the film, their friends, family etc etc.

Smile is a short horror film from East Coast Films, described as "Pretty woman meets psycho, just without the prostitution". That pretty much sums it up.

"When a down and out lawyer meets a confident young girl at a bar, the two hit it off and a night of passion ensues, but there is something more sinister lurking beneath her beautiful exterior"

The plot of Smile is fairly straightforward: Boy meets girl in bar...........boy tries chatting up girl, but lacks confidence.......... girl likes boy's lack of confidence.........girl likes boy......... boy and girl spend some 'quality' time together (that's a metaphor for something else for those of a slow nature)......... things don't quite go so well for one of them............ Ahhh, as I've said before, we've all been there - well not quite in respect of what happens between Steve and Kirsty, but there's still time in my life I suppose.

At just over 12 minutes there's not a lot more I want to say about the film without giving anything away. I will say that the parts of Steve and Kirsty are both played very well, by Nicolette McKeown and J Scott murray and complete with the requisite amount of self-consciousness that many who have found themselves talking to an attractive stranger in a bar have felt. I must admit that doing the old chat-up scenario has never really been the strongest element in my admittedly scarce skill set, in fact it's something that I always actively avoided. So the whole 'tell me your name because I like you' situation is conveyed nice and authentically ........ as are the subsequent interesting proceedings afterwards. The writing, lighting and direction too is of an equally good standard.

All I will say is that Smile is a thoroughly confident and enjoyable slice of a tale about blossoming romance not quite working out the way in which we expect it to do.

You can find out more about Smile at its Facebook page RIGHT HERE.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Life is cheap (2015) - Gross-out trash Cinema is alive and well....thankfully!

Be warned – the contents of this article may cause serious offence and extreme nausea! ………. Now THAT grabbed your attention didn’t it?!

Every once in a very long while in my movie-watching life something comes along that leaves me almost speechless in regard to what I may have just witnessed on screen. I’m not talking about being dumbstruck by the effects, the plot, the excitement etc. that makes Sci-Fi, fantasy and horror at times the truly exhilarating experience that it can be (that’s right Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I mean you). No, I’m referring to that once in a blue moon experience when ones mouth drops open in astonishment during the first few scenes of the film and doesn’t close until the final credits. I’m talking about that occasion when you are not quite sure about just what the hell it is what you have watched and you don’t know whether to love it, hate it – or both.

This happened to me the first time that I saw the John Waters cult classic Pink Flamingos in which the truly staggering Divine appeared and in one 'memorable' scene ate, well, dog poo. Yes that's right, dog poo. If you have never seen any of the early Waters work, especially the ‘Trash Trilogy’ of which Pink Flamingos was the first, then you really should give them a go. I know a few people that love them and even more who hate them – and often for the very same reasons. The films are offensive, shocking and full of hyperbolic machine-gun dialogue delivered by characters with often hilarious alliterated names (my particular favourite being ‘Fat Fuck Frank’). The plots are often gross exaggerations of the human condition (and perversions) and are about as far away from the mainstream candy floss movies of the time as one could get. I loved them, -  warts, dog poo and all. Waters is a genius and it’s as simple as that.

In a small aside, I met the legend himself, Divine, in of all places Bradford, Yorkshire in 1984 during his tour of clubs on the back of his late success as an unlikely pop star in the 1980's. He was walking down a quiet street in Northern England looking for a good place to eat when I rudely stopped him to tell him how much I loved his film performances. A kind and gracious man you could ever hope to meet.

He's got his dad's eye, er yes.....
This week that feeling of ‘what the hell???!!!’ happened to me again. I was contacted by Kurt Walsh who proceeded with the tried and tested successful method of praising my blog articles. Flattery and praise heaped in my general direction never fails to inflate my ego. Kurt went on to say just how much he enjoyed my review of Liam Regan’s wonderful dark comic horror, Banjo (2015). If you haven’t read the review and have a couple of moments to spare then you can read my words of wonder RIGHT HERE.

Kurt was the composer of that particular movie and wondered, seeing as I was a self-confessed lover of all things John Waters, whether I would like to see his Waters-inspired piece of filth. After making sure that it was in fact a movie that Kurt was talking about and not some online social networking chat up line I agreed to his request. So later that evening accessed his super-secret online screener to watch his film, Life is cheap.
Oh. My. God. It’s now been three days after watching this film with a runtime of just 53 minutes I’m still thinking about it……. And so is my stomach.

"Life is cheap" is the story of the Cleftico Family, Joeby works as a toilet cleaner but his dream job comes to an end when his boss discovers his coprophillic tendencies, unemployed and under suspicion of his bosses disappearance he must face the wrath of his fly spray snorting, brothel Madame mother, their incest born "daughter" Bubbles and to make matters even stickier his mothers chainsaw wielding ex prison girlfriend has just broken out of jail..."

So I’m assuming that right at this very moment, many of you are now looking up in a dictionary the meaning of ‘coprophillic’, just to make sure that it is what you think it may be…………. I’ll give you a moment. Yes, that is correct. Coprophilia is indeed gaining sexual gratification with the smell, feel and taste of faeces  - that’s poo to the likes of you and me. I’ll let your imagination do the rest…….while I just take a moment to think of something else, like meadows full of pretty perfumed flowers, or something, in fact anything not coprophilia related..........

Lara Seckleman
It's crystal clear that writer/director Kurt wears his John Waters influence well an truly on his sleeve in addition to a healthy dollop of Troma induced narrative, which shouldn't really come as surprise as he has also worked as a composer /actor on pictures such as Troma's "Return to Nuke Em High". Don't get me wrong, because I don't mean that as a criticism at all, on the contrary it's good to see that there are some filmmakers out there still wishing to push those boundaries of good taste well beyond what is often regarded as acceptable in mainstream filmmaking.

Life is cheap will no doubt alienate a large proportion of filmgoers who will find not only the subject matter, but the treatment of the subject matter, grossly offensive. However I doubt Kurt and his team will care too much about that, in fact I believe they'll rejoice in the reactions that the film will induce in its audience. Kurt himself told me for instance that they had their first underground screening at islington mill in manchester last weekend and it not only got a good turn out in terms of audience numbers but also in regard to the audience reaction plenty of laughs and 'ewws.'

" I was totally overwhelmed with the audience reaction, I had expected / hoped for a few laughs and yukks but it was pretty continuous throughout. My two fav moments being the massive wince at the nail pulling and someone shouting "Oh stop it" during the eyeball scooping. I'm sure a couple of the sick bags got used, in hindsight I should have put a return address on them, would save us a bit of money on fake puke for the next movie" ........ These are the words of a man who clearly revels in the extreme reactions he's been getting to his film - I like his style!

The film is incredible, in a grossly offensive shield-your-eyes-at-the-stomach churning-gross out bits sort of way - seriously, this is not for the feint hearted. What contributes to this effect is the fact that the team shot the whole thing on a hi8 movie camera, the result is that it avoids the contemporary clean-cut visual effect and instead achieves the opposite desired effect and makes everything look as grubby and worn as possible. In other words, it gives the viewer a voyeuristic feeling in that you're peaking in on something you're not really supposed to be watching.

Ben Bastard
Praise too has to be given to Ben (Bastard) Christopher in the lead role of Joeby Cleftico, whose fevereishly hyperactive performance as the perverted corprofilliac is truly something to behold. Kurt says that the majority of the cast in the UK was made up of musicians he knows, most notably Ben & Jon from the notorious leeds techno punk outfit Petrol Bastard. Ben's energy and disregard for his own personal safety during gigs really captured Kurt's imagination and he knew that he would make a great lead for a movie of this kind, essentially something of a cross between the aforementioned Divine and Adrian Edmundson - And do you know something, he's not wrong. Ben's performance is unsettling, exhilarating and disgusting in equal measures. I'm a fan.

Location wise, Life is cheap was split between Blackpool, Manchester and Huddersfield, wherever we could find that had 'good grimy' locations and that the actors could get to. They even had a segment shot in the basement of the Troma building by talented young director / actress Dylan Greenberg and starring cast members from Return to Nuke Em High.

Whether films such as this will ever get an audience beyond the cult following that it will no doubt gather is open to question. What is more certain is that more people will hate it than love it, however that for me is missing the point. The important thing that the spirit of Waters, Kaufman et al is alive and well in hands maniacs like Kurt and his group - and they should be applauded for pushing the envelope of bad taste into filmmaking once again. If nothing else, the sale of sick-bags will see a healthy rise.

To find out more about this cinematic force of nausia inducing nature then check out the Facebook page for Life is cheap at

You can read this article and much more on the 5D website at