August 09, 2006

THE END , THE BEGINNING & WHERE TO GO ....


IF YOU HAVEN'T BOUGHT THE UK/USA DVD OF 'GWENDOLINE' YOU ARE VISUALLY DEPRIVED-RECTIFICATION IS NEEDED IMMEDIATELY !


Well, we've seen no end of fascinating jewels of underground / fringe epics, from classic 'firsts' to Nasty Nazis. From the colourful alchemy of Bava to the down right and dirty of Doris Wishman, from mind blowing giallo to cock sucking porno - nothing has been sacred... And it is only a mere peek at what's' out there for the viewing !!!!

Thank you for all your support over the year and putting up with 'silent' gaps in between.

I hope you have found my blog entertaining and stimulating but.....hang on a moment...I am lamenting....this is not right as a brand new Celluloid Teapot - style website has thrust itself forth from between the thighs of mistress blogspot.

My brand new site is titled 'The Fringe Fantasy Film Show' and will be just as groovy in content than the teapot.

The reviews will be, I hope, unless I get really carried away, more 'punchier', there will also be the use of 'linking' so you too can purchase the 'best' print at the best 'value'.

This will be down to my discretion but I am not working on commission, the customer service of the websites where such DVD delights can be obtained have sold their credibility alone.

Any recommended website for ordering such digital delicacies will fall into the following categories to warrant a link 1) Ease of use 2) The Waiting Game 3)The cock-up-o-meter.

There will not be a sudden deluge of lurid ads for 'cheap DVD's' as we have search engines for that, what I will mention at times is a reputable way of procuring the best sources and the greatest value for the customer.

So many people have asked 'Where can you get these?', now dear friends you shall know. On occasion, o.k, a large majority of the time you will need to send off to Europe and Stateside but with millitary encryption, paypal and a whole other 'host' of 'hack protection' software this should not worry you at all.

With banks also hot on the fraud side of things they'll soon be in touch if things seem 'odd' on the transaction front - take it from experience.

As fraud phoned me once and asked if I had recently purchased over £300 worth of computer equipment in Russia - I was most grateful for that call and the preventative measures taken place to avoid such bad doings from happening to the innocent.

So you too can now find a 'reputable' gateway into a land where these films are available for the taking in all their uncut glory. Damn British Censorship too hell !

I have enclosed a link to the new site which I sincerely hope you find just as thrilling .

So please pop along to http://filmfantasy.blogspot.com/ and enjoy very muchly the new 'feel'. There's not much on it at the moment as I have been reviewing and deciding on where I can go with this and weigh up lessons learned from previous experience.

Never the less, the primary concern is for the visitor, making the visit a pleasurable, knowledgeable experience with a few 'thrills' thrown in for good measure.

I will look forward to your visits very much and if any of my articles inspire you to buy or rent the film featured then I would be over the moon, the best things in the world shouldn't be coveted but shared I feel whether ideas, food, fashion or film.

Big Love to all Fringe Film Fans and the wonderful companies who bother to release such joys that the mainstream distributors would not give the time of day.

Feels good to have the upperhand on the vacuous put-up-with-any-old-shit cinemagoer - poor , ignorant buggers. Imagine having 'Titanic' as your number one movie and be unaware of anything else except what vomits forth at the local Odeon multiplex- that must be awful. You have my sympathy for such limited experiences with what films truly have to offer.

In the interim build up your knowledge and wallow in some of the prime examples of exploitation, horror, fantasy and sci-fi within the realms of 'The Fringe Fantasy Film Show'.

Big Love to all Fringe Film Fans and the wonderful companies who bother to release such joys that the mainstream distributors would not give the time of day - this site and its new home is for you.


James x


Censorship, like charity, should begin at home, but unlike charity, it should end there.

- Clare Boothe Luce

August 05, 2006

THE BIRTH OF MACISTE AND THE ITALIAN FEATURE FILM REVOLUTION – AN ARTICLE

THE BIRTH OF MACISTE AND THE ITALIAN FEATURE FILM REVOLUTION

– AN ARTICLE

(Stills from 'Maciste all'Inferno' , Cabiria ,Hercules and Hercules in the Haunted World)

This is my last reportage for a while. Work wise I need to focus 100%, hence an age since my last review.

So I am also going to change the Blog look too as we venture into a monumental time in the history of film.

We begin the tale with the birth of ‘peplum’ and focus on ‘Maciste’ or, Hercules as he was eventually exported.

There is some way to go and a lot of viewing time needed to cover the 1957-1964 ‘reign’ of sword and sandal Italian epics. These will kick off the new look teapot as this is the last of the style we have grown fond of.

We will review the adventures of Maciste from selected silents through to turning point talkies of sword and sandal folklore, as we follow the birth and rise of this genre.

Due to underexposure this will be something of a revelation to the British who have fared badly with material readily available in this country.

Mario Bava had a go at them, Fellini was inspired by them and D.W Griffith paid homage to them (well Cabirias’ an absolute certainty) – such is an important, but little known, chapter in cinematography.

Not all were epics but the peplum (a name given to these style of movies that featured such a tunic and due to the garments simplicity were also very inexpensive to make) momentum never seems to vanquish completely, it comes back in various guises and forms but beneath it all seems to be a formula as staple as a giallo format for sword and sandal visual ballads of fable.

To begin at the beginning…..

Sidney Olcott was the first to venture into peplum territory with ‘Ben Hur’ in 1907 but was a scant 15 minutes so was far from the lavish feature film it later became. Despite this, there really were no other peplum examples apparent. We must move from the USA to Italy for the true zeitgeist of this sort of movie.

In contrast to the self-made moguls of American studios, Italian production companies were headed by the cultivated members of the aristocracy, who made films based on historical, biblical or mythological subjects in keeping with the literary and dramatic tradition of grand opera

The first important influence was Italians’ first tableaux-style film ‘L’inferno’ in 1911 which dreamily revealed Dante and Virgil’s experiences on their journey through hell.


This format was the basis used for an emergence of epics in Italian cinemas earliest days. Due to the Italians’ imperialist victory in the Libyan war (1911-1912) and further inspiration from grand opera these caused a catalyst of epic ‘firsts’ with breathtaking cinematography and jaw dropping sets that seem impossible for the time.
Italy also housed plenty of Roman Antiquities that were inspirational in their own merit.

The imagination didn’t have to stretch too far when it came to the creation of such sets of unbelieveable magnitude. Only what one has ever thought and dreamed became an opulent reality seemingly commanding respect as well as enjoyment from the audience.

One is wowed by the early effects whilst maintaining the utmost reverence for design and craftsmanship apparent.

The early era brought the Italian cinemagoer visual feats as ‘The Last Days of Pompeii’ (1913), Quo Vadis (1912) and in 1914 this successful tradition brought a cinematic first ‘Cabiria’. This was the first time that the action seen broke away from tableaux style representation and became a live animate adventure.


Loosely based on Gustave Flaubert’s ‘Salammbo’ Cabiria was also the very first feature film running an admirable 123 minutes, practically unheard of.

Cabiria concerned the adventures of the titular heroine who is separated from her parents at the time of the Punic wars in the 3rd Century B.C.A.E (Before Christ Allegedly Existed). There is a spectacular explosion of Mount Etna that results in Cabirias abduction by pirates in the confusion. There she is taken and sold at Carthage as a slave and sacrificial fodder for the ancient god Moloch.

She is saved by Fulvio Axilla, a ‘rascal’ nobleman and his giant companion/slave Maciste.

The film starts a journey of visual treat where costume and set design have meticulously been detailed. Cabiria begins her odyssey with Mount Etna, witnesses the savage splendour of a barbaric Carthage, dodges human sacrifice and even witnesses Hannibal crossing the Alps, amongst other things!

Cabiria was filmed by Giovanni Pastrone in North Africa, Sicily and the Italian Alps and is truly a spectacular event in plot and in style.


The movie was also the first to be shown on White House grounds and when reached stateside inspired D.W Griffith ‘Babylon’ sequence in ‘Intolerance’ (1916), which at the time of Cabiria was under production known by a completely different working title ‘The Mother and the Law’.

From this film there was one character overall; that staid in the Italian publics imagination, that was Maciste played by Bartolomeo Pagano.


During the years 1915 to 1926 Pagano reprised his role in 25 movies spanning 11 years. The unusual element this time was that Maciste could seemingly enter any moment in history. This ensured Maciste was utilised as supreme propaganda for the First World War and in one of his films is a WW1 soldier.

His agenda was simple and that was too right wrongs and ensuring good always over bad, on regular instances in the ‘silent’ Maciste movies, the ‘bad’ element was usually represented by corrupt aristocratic or state figures. Art imitating life?

The series of Maciste films were constantly popular with the public and Macistes’ swansong ‘Maciste all’ Inferno’ (Maciste in Hell) is probably the best example of Paganos’ successes.

When Federico Fellini was a child he saw Maciste all’Inferno and was so enamoured and inspired by what he saw made the decision to become a director and the rest, as they say, is history

Maciste faded during the 30’s and 40’s but resurfaced again in the 1950’s. The ‘Maciste all’Inferno’ print was re-edited and re-scored and began stirring an interest in sword and sandal epics. Stateside ‘The Ten Commandments (1956)’ brought biblical epics and Christian mythology in vogue.


In 1958, the Italian film industry looked back at their pioneering triumphs and a hero was finally resurrected and it wasn’t before long he was back into the Italian nations hearts and due to wise, if not confusingly re-titled, national distribution the Hercules ‘format’ proved a lucrative venture.


Maciste had returned lifting fables off the page leaves and bringing them to Technicolor life on the big screen - a new chapter for Maciste had begun ………………….. (To Be Continued)

The 1914-1926 outings of Maciste were;

Cabiria (1914)

Maciste (1915)

Maciste il Fuoco (Maciste: The Fire) (1915)

Maciste Alpino (Maciste in the Alpine Regiment) (1916)

Maciste bersagliere (1916)

Maciste poliziotto (Maciste the Policeman) (1917)

Maciste medium (Maciste the Medium) (1917)

Maciste sonnambulo (Dreams of Maciste) (1918)

Maciste Atleta (Maciste: The Athlete) (1918)

Maciste contra la Morte (Maciste against Death) (1919)

Maciste I (1919)

Maciste salvato dalle acque (Maciste saves from the Waters) (1920)

1919/1920 produced a Maciste trilogy;

Maciste Innamorato (Maciste in Love) (1919)

Il Vaggio di Maciste (Macistes’ Journey) (1920)

Il testamento di Maciste (Macistes’ Testament)(1920)

Maciste in Vacanza (Maciste on Holiday) (1921)

Rivincita di Maciste, La (1921)

Maciste e la figlia del re della Plata (Maciste and the Daughter of the King of Plata) (1922)

Maciste und die Japanerin (Maciste and the Japanese) (1922)

Maciste contra Maciste (Maciste against Maciste)(1923)

Maciste und die chinesische Truhe (Maciste and the Chinese Chest) (1923)

Maciste Emperatore (Maciste the Emperor) (1924)

Maciste e il nipote d’America (Maciste and the Nephew from America) (1924)

Maciste contro lo sceicco (Maciste in Africa) (1925)

Maciste nella gabbia dei leoni (Maciste in the Cage of the Lions) (1926)

Maciste all’Inferno (Maciste in Hell) (1926)


FORTHCOMING TREATS:

Sword and Sandal Reviews including the rare Maciste all’Inferno, also we look at Italians cinemas first L’Inferno, Cabiria and a whole host of 50’s / 60’s beefcake delight.

The sleaze won’t stop either there’s some true gruelling stuff in fantasy land that need the celluloid teapots exposure. The Maciste section will last for a while but will be broken by different reviews to keep the electicness at giddying heights. It won’t be long, all the best.

James x




July 19, 2006

THE DEVIL INSIDE HER – HARDCORE CLASSIXXX (1977) –REVIEW 29



As well as churning out all sorts of hybrids, one more sensational or extremer than the other, there was also ‘crossover’ hardcore. One of these was the combination of two taboos ‘Hardcore Pornography and Witchcraft’.

Usually this gave directors a cape to hide behind, producing some pretty depraved and twisted stuff as no one could get as low down and as dirty as the Devil from good ‘old Christian Mythology.

The Devil Inside Her is a proud example of what can be done with a little imagination, some mediocre acting and actors that perform too any high standard you could wish, so the cuts at the box office were very lucrative affairs, Thanks to the almost ‘legendary’ 42nd street pre –Reagan these ‘unusuals’ drew in the masses.

The film was directed by Zebedy Colt who churned out some notorious roughies as his contribution to the genre (as well as playing the nasty sleazoid lead character as well). This is one of his best, there is a certain redness that is used primarily for the climatic ‘double pene-everything’ orgy.

The ending is very lewd and terribly ‘naughty’ but somehow pulls away from the ‘crudity’ and gravitates towards a more pantomime-esque/fairytaled version of events. With a climax starring Annie Sprinkle in one of her most resplendent roles, the target of three full bladder reliefs, it becomes a type of ‘darkroom’ lit obscenity and all the more ‘hellishly’ good for doing so.

The people’ possessed’ sequences are also quite fascinating as they, despite a little o.t.t eye make up, spasm their tongues wonderfully. Scenes seem lifted from ‘Haxan’ (1927) where the demons do exactly the same as represented by the actors 50 years later.

Some cool use of exterior footage is well handled showing the director had a ‘flair’ that was not ‘that’ essential to the plot but represents such rural beauty compared to the aggressiveness to happen at Satan’s’ banquet.

The one delight is the character of the ‘Devil’ himself (played theatrically by Rod Dumont); he is surprisingly scary considering the low budget constraints but ‘villains-it-up’ in a delight campful way it at time steals the show.

We first encounter him in the woods where he is masturbating to the sound of music/vocals played backwards. I have never seen anyone with the capability of testicle and winky twisting since penis puppetry compared to Mr.Dumont. He literally has a Reed Richards penis, skin and testiclay that at one stage it looks as those it’s going to be stretched out of the screen and poke your eye out. Quite remarkable.

The body hopping is a nice touch and endearingly ensures everyone who is anyone gets fucked these too are handled not in your usual ‘grind house-porno’ fashion.

The short 65 minute running time is long enough it seems, to tell a decent yarn and offer an abundance of deviancy throughout. For a XXX rater it runs quite tame for the first 15 minutes but immediately old Lucifer pops up things become quite different.

It is at the ending though Mr.Colt & Mr.North really shines bringing some of the most amazing sexual feats achieved while maintaining that whole ‘panto’ feel.

PLOT

New England 1826 and the virginal Jenny whiles most her spare time with her beloved Joseph. Hope is spiteful too as she also is in love with Joseph to the point of obsession. Joseph only has eyes for Jenny and both have maintained a chaste relationship for all this time.

Despite being a total untruth Hope tells Jenny’s strict god-fearing Father that they had been kissing. In true Christian fashion Jenny is forced to strip naked and is dutifully flagellated over a cart wheel.

Hope reaches boiling point when she believes Jenny and Joseph are planning to wed, she preys to the devil or god to help her ‘get Joseph and make him hers’.


The Devil listens and grants all carnal desires to everyone whilst he ‘hops’ from body to body until the ‘peak’ reaches a sex n’ vegetable , incestuous frenzy.

In a nearby cottage in the forest Hope meets a witch who prepares herself for the devil by calling for Nicodemus who magically appears from the realms of the demons. As he hangs from a tree Hope is ingratiated into the joys of oral satisfaction and judging by Nicodemus he rates her highly indeed!

After the devil does his family circle he appears for his banquet which turns into a lavish orgy ending with Jenny’s’ ‘induction’ too hell, after a good fucking though.

As the orgy climaxes the now ‘un-possessed’ Father and Joseph track down the ‘Devils Orgy’ and brandishing crucifixes and paraphernalia banish the devils back to from whence they came. Jenny is saved but unfortunately Hope is now a handmaiden to Lucifer, if he is treated the way she treats corn-on-the-cob and a bunch of carrots then he’ll be quids in.

I SAY...........

A trash classic that clashes a powerful sexually charged xxx milieu against a well cinematographed fairytale setting. Well done to all involved for such a smashing bit of entertainment achievable with a little skill and forethought. A cauldron of depravity- therefore- A MUST GET!!!!


The Film; The Devil inside Her (also known as Metamorphosed (working title) / The Devil within Her)

The Year;1977

Country; U.S.A


The Director; Zebedy Colt / Howard North

The Players;

Jody Maxwell .... Hope

Terri Hall .... Faith

Dean Tait .... Joseph (gardener)

Zebedy Colt .... Father

Renee Sanz .... Witch

Chad Lambert .... Nicodemus

Nancy Dare .... Becky (wife)

Annie Sprinkle.... Devil's orgy participant (as Annie Sprinkles)

Rod Dumont .... The Devil

July 16, 2006

SCARY STUFF T.V – ACE OF WANDS – AN ARTICLE / REVIEW 28 ‘PEACOCK PIE’



In 1970 many changes were occurring in the U.K’s televison land, especially now colour had become more accessible, fortunately science-fiction and fantasy shows were the first to make breakthroughs and championed the arrival of colour.

The vitally important and shamefully forgotten BBC2 anthology series ‘Out of the Unknown’ was already treating viewers to a Technicolor future, when the third and fourth series were broadcast in the new colour format.

What happened to these colour firsts? – The BBC wiped them of course. Out of 49 episodes of ‘Out of the Unknown’ made only 19 completes, exist in the archives and with only one complete colour example, ‘The Last Lonely Man’ and a 30 minute clip of another of the colour stories, the pioneering anthology series that featured teleplay adaptations by the talents of Isaac Asimov, E.M Forster and Nigel Kneale are now gone forever.


Doctor Who also went halcyon and psychedelically ‘hung-over’ and the stories, due to a change in the script writers/editors, made the series more ‘grown-up’. Arguably this produced my own personal favourite season – 7 and arguably my favourite story ‘Inferno’. This also seemed the winning format echoed in ‘Ace of Wands’ despite it being primarily aimed at children due to its’ slot in the schedules.

On ITV, the scheduling for drama produced a gap. As a stroke of genius Trevor Preston and Pamela Lonsdale created a new children’s fantasy series ‘Ace of Wands’. Preston had only ever written for adult drama and this combination with Lonsdale’s’ child-orientated skills at dramatics were a winning combination. It produced a pioneering series blessed with that ‘Kidult’ element that could be seen and ‘chilled’ by all ages.

Due to its’ episodic ‘cliff-hanger’ format wooing audiences back week after week and its’ overall ‘slickness’ Tarot captured the hearts and minds of a new aquarian ‘dawn’.

The acting ability is of the highest and plays just as an important part of the framework of the story as the effects and scary bits – something practically unheard of, for a childrens programme, in this day and age.

When a series had been put together, and perfectly casted by the seem of things, Ace of Wands was pitched by Thames Television as follows;

'A C E O F W A N D S'

THAMES TELEVISION continue their special interest in children's programming (such as SEXTON BLAKE and TYRANT KING) with this unusual new 13 half-hour episode series launched on the Network - 29 July 1970.

'Tarot' (the Ace of Wands) is a twentieth century Robin Hood with a pinch of Merlin and a dash of Houdini. By profession he is a renowned illusionist, by vocation a righter of wrongs. To help solve the mysteries, Tarot uses all his magic skills which range from sleight of hand and escapology to hypnosis and telepathy. Sometimes his methods might be surprising but his confrontations with the formidable Kings and Queens of crime always end with the triumph of 'Good' over 'Evil'.

Tarot has three associates - 'Lulli', 'Sam' and 'Mr. Sweet'. All have their own particular place in his organisation and their own specialised functions. Lulli is young, beautiful and intelligent. She studied philosophy at Oxford for a while then got bored and left. She is a compulsive 'doer'. She met Tarot by accident when she backed her beach buggy into his E-type Jaguar and they subsequently discovered that they had an advanced telepathic communication. Since then Lulli has worked as Tarot's assistant on stage and off, and has proved invaluable.

Sam is Tarot's right hand man. He's done everything, been everywhere (even to prison) and has incredible 'connections'. There are a lot of people who owe Sam favours and he has no hesitation in using his contacts, he is impulsive, cheerful, tough and totally dedicated to Tarot.

Mr. Sweet is an antiquarian bookseller with an international reputation as a lepidopterist and entomologist. He has a major role to play for Tarot as front man and go-between. Adventures often start with someone in trouble approaching Mr. Sweet in the hope that he will enlist the unique services of Tarot on their behalf. Mr. Sweet is lovable, amusing, eccentric but quite capable of amazing and unorthodox action if a situation demands it.

There is another member of the set, Tarot's pet owl 'Ozymandias'. 'Ossie', as he is called, is a Malayan fishing owl, just over one foot high, has buttercup yellow eyes and makes a whistling sound when he is excited. He is devoted to Tarot, Lulli and Mr. Sweet but has reservations about Sam who calls him a 'cross-eyed cuckoo'.

The stories are centred around Tarot and his friends versus their adversaries - the 'Royalty' of the underworld.

The permanent cast are as follows:

TAROT ............. MICHAEL MACKENZIE

LULLI ............. JUDY LOE

SAM ............... TONY SELBY

MR. SWEET ......... DONALD LAYNE-SMITH

OZYMANDIAS ........ FRED OWL

The creator of the series is TREVOR PRESTON and the producer PAMELA LONSDALE.

The first episode (titled 'One and One and One Are Four') Tarot is asked to find a famous professor's invention which was stolen from his laboratory and which in the wrong hands could be used as a devastating weapon. Tarot's adversary is the beautiful but evil 'Madame Midnight', played by HILDEGARD NEIL, who is determined to get the invention and outwit Tarot.

Clive Willis - 22 July 1970

The series burst onto to television screens in July 1970 in a quarter past five slot. The first script was expertly handled by P.J Hammond and brought a Thames’ James Bond to a bewildered, interested and thrilled receptive audience.


Living on a barge, single, flared trousered and velveted jacket Tarot, played magnificently by Mackenzie, was the epitome of 1970’s macho flamboyance.

The whole ‘hip’ affair was set against the back drop of a fashionable street market and featured regular appearances from the wise ‘Mr.Sweet’ an antiquarian book-seller who would lend a hand to some of Tarots bizarre investigations and the ‘cosy’ regular supporting cast.

A sad factor is that the entire first and second is (allegedly) missing from the Thames archive. There has nothing to be said or recorded that they had been junked and unfortunately nothing to state the opposite either.

Sam and Lulli went onto bigger and better things at the end of Season 2.

When Season 3 was launched brother and sister Miki and Chas joined Tarot in his adventures oh and ozymandias, Tarots pet owl. Not much changed Tarot re-established his strong psychic link with Miki just as he had with Lulli and Chas provided the comical element and muscle when needed like Sam

It’s so difficult and annoying to not know what the others were like, unfortunately I doubt if we’ll ever know.

In the case of some more popular missing episodes because of the ‘status’ of some series, this missing material is painstakingly researched and people ‘aware’ - in the hopeful event of finding such other holy grails.

With other series like Ace of Wands and Out of the Unknown - this is as doubly as hard at procuring missing episodes/clips as although enjoyed and revered in high esteem at the time, it didn’t last long enough for the ‘memorable classic’ to dye in its’ wool.

Maybe something might surface in time? It’s a real loss to the archives from what I’ve seen and is so destined to be forgotten - but here at the ‘Teapot’ - we could never have that!

Fortunately all of Season three of ‘Ace of Wands’ exist and one of its’ best stories ‘Peacock Pie’ is to be reviewed. This is drama at its’ absolute nadir, the cast is spot on and the performances of a high calibre for a ‘children’s show’.

The direction is moody, oppressive and sometimes downright delirious really realising what must have been P.J Hammonds top class script.

Brian Wilde portrays the sinister but sad Mr.Peacock and gives a truly classic performance mixing melancholy, sardonic and madness. This makes ‘Peacock Pie’ one of ‘Ace of Wands’ most classic adventures.


Such skilled direction also heightens tense moments, using obscure angles and the use of a fish eye to achieve such ends is also noticeable. The climax to episode one is absolutely spot-on and climax to episode three, handled ‘emotionally’ well.

At the end I will give you a brief episode guide, enjoy this trip down memory lane……

Oh, forgot too mention when Ace of Wands came to a rather an abrupt end in 1973, ‘The Tomorrow People’ was ushered in and became yet another classic children’s television show, worthy of a separate post most definitely.


Ace of Wands;Peacock Pie’ (3 episodes) TVX Date; 6-20th September 1972, then repeated 12th – 26th October 1973

THE PLOT

Leaving the bank in a hurry Mikki bumps into an odd man, despite their exchanges of sorry and ‘pleasantries’ there just seems something ‘ethereal’ about the man. He suggests Miki needs a holiday; slowly she envisages a lonely, harsh weathered beach and somehow, oddly agrees with him.

Miki jaunts off back to Tarots’ for rehearsals for the nights ‘show’ , the telepathy experiment fails abysmally and Miki keeps being blocked by the ‘deserted beach’ scene.

Miki is concerned and tells Tarot that its’ worryingly how someone could be so powerful to achieve such head-mess and manipulation via thought control.

The person behind this is mild-mannered but sinister ‘Mr.Peacock’ who dwells in suburbia with his housekeeper Mrs Mcfaddyen. She chides him about his ‘tricks’ and is rather annoyed that the last £45 rent turned out to be blank bits of paper.

Mr. Peacock accepts this was a callous, mischievous thing to do but confirms she will receive her money tomorrow for sure. As Mr.Peacock can control what others see he plans a bank robbery, the security firm believe they are depositing the cash in a special vault but in fact are leaving it in an abandoned house.

Miki, Tarot and Chas are now on to the case and Tarot and Chas drive to the desolate house.

Mr.Peacock lurks amongst the rubble and unknowingly to Tarot and Chas will begin his assault on the mind ultimately resolving in an extreme battle of psychic wits and paranormal games, where minds could be lost forever and the participants locked in paranormal entrapment……..



The Players;


Mr. Peacock Brian Wilde

Mrs. MacFadyean Dorothy Frere

Young Mrs. MacFadyean Jenny McCracken

Manageress Valerie Ost

Writer P. J. Hammond

Designer Gordon Toms

Director John Russell

THE REST………

I don’t need to repeat myself and apologise if I do that despite its’ scant running time this is an awesome ‘deep’ tale of pure magic and fantasy but also paradoxically about grim inner loneliness, both delicately handled by John Russells direction and sensitive portrayal by Brian Wilde.

A smashing series that unfortunately is only meagrely represented in the archives as well as by the retro (where did we go wrong???) friendly mainstream. A show we should never let fade into obscurity.

Still somewhat of an enigma, thanks to fans who remember and new ones who don’t, Tarot and Co live on in memory and the scarce viewing resources on offer.

A fantastic psychedelic ‘hang-over’ treat that used the ‘new’ colour revolution for all it was worth with real hippy chic and velvet derring-do!


1 One and One and One Are Four 7/29/1970

2 The Mind Robbers 8/19/1970

3 Now You See It, Now You Don't 9/16/1970

4 The Smile 9/30/1970


5 Seven Serpents, Sulphur and Salt 7/21/1971

6 Joker 8/11/1971

7 Nightmare Gas 9/1/1971

8 The Eye of Ra 9/22/1971


9 The Meddlers 7/19/1972

10 The Power of Atep 8/9/1972

11 Peacock Pie 9/6/1972

12 Mama Doc 9/27/1972

13 Sisters Deadly 10/18/1972

14 The Beautiful People 11/8/1972


*CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE ON DVD OR ANYWHERE REALLY*



Season One


Story One; Madame Midnight and her sidekick Teddy Talk steal a scientists invention to cure paralysis which lead Tarot & Co to a monastery in
Berkshire.

Story Two; Zandor kidnaps two government officials and leads Tarot and Co to a sinister house where traps are laid and an evil snake dwells – that hates people.

Story Three; Falk plans an ingenious bank robbery which pits Tarot and Co against a computer house-boat and nasty Nazis.

Story Four; Tun-Ju and Mrs Kite plan to steal the Mona Lisa, Tarot and Co are pitted against their most mercenary of adversaries yet.


Season Two;

Story Five; Mr Stabs proves to be one of Tarots’ most supernatural enemies. With the ability of turning base metals into gold, Tarot and Co must deal with the curse of the seven serpents as well as Mr.Stabs inscrutable plans for the future.

Story Six; A travelling magical troupe run by the sinister Mr.Harry, featuring Jack, Queen and King arrive to entertain the local children. What seems an innocent exercise at first,turns much darker when children begin going berserk in their classrooms.

Story Seven; Thalia and her monosyllabic brother Dalbiac, steal an important gas that causes such powerful hallucinations that in the wrong hands could prove catastrophic.

Story Eight; Ceribraun steals The Eye of Ra a priceless diamond that can turn people into chalk. Tarot and Co try to retrieve it but has to battle menacing chess pieces in the process.

Season Three

Story Nine; Tarot and his new entourage, Chas and Miki have to deal with an alleged ‘curse’ on the nearby market where they live. Strange occurrences have been frightening the market traders, could this have anything to do with the sinister Mr.Dove?

Story Ten; An ancient energy ‘The Power of Atep’ is unleashed at a séance where Mikki is attending. In order to restore chaos Tarot and Co journey to Egypt to Ateps tomb where they must find the solution to harness the energy before it is too late.

Story Eleven; Mr.Peacock is Tarots next adversary that is committing crime through dominant mind control. Mr.Peacock seems unstoppable as he attacks Tarot and his friends until the ultimate battle of mind takes place meaning either could be imprisoned in ‘nowhere’ forever.

Story Twelve; Mama Doc and her sidekick Bobby run a ‘hospital’ for ‘poorly’ dolls but there is something more sinister afoot as Tarot and Co notice, as soon as someone disappears they seem to become a casualty at the dolls hospital but in a very miniature form. Is the same fate to befall them?

Story Thirteen; Chas has an important assignment – to photograph a women’s 100th Birthday party. All is not what it seems however when Chas returns with no memory of the events that occurred and Tarot and Co take on the creepy old ladies of Bliss Cottage.

Story Fourteen; A travelling group of ‘perfect’ hippies begin to throw fetes locally where everything is free. Tarot and Co stumble across more bizarre motifs for such generosity and gets attacked by fatal household appliances in the process including a rather unstable chain-saw!

The Beautiful People ended the show on a rather ‘ambiguous’ note and could have lead to a fourth tenure but changes within Thames’ departments brought new changes in programming and Ace of Wands rather mysteriously vanished as quickly as it had suddenly appeared. On a bang though not a whimper!!!

The folksy-hippy-groovy theme tune can be found on c.d with a collection of other’ obscure’ 1970’s themes the album called ‘Magpie-and other themes’, the C.D is a super listen and I’m sure you’d appreciate it if you found this and my other ‘Sapphire & Steel’ article enjoyable.

Please someone release this on DVD or at least do a retrospective at some stage.


Cast of regulars for Seasons One and Two;

*Tarot – Michael Mackenzie *Mr Sweet – Donald Layne-Smith* Ozymandias – Fred Owl * Sam – Tony Selby * Lulli – Judy Loe*

Cast of Regulars for Season Three

*Tarot – Michael Mackenzie *Mr Sweet – Donald Layne-Smith* Ozymandias – Fred Owl * Chas – Roy Holder* Mikki (Petra Markham)*

Created by Trevor Preston

Produced by; Pamela Lonsdale (season 1-2) and John Russell (season 3)

Music by; Andrew Bown

Lyrics by; Trevor Preston

Screened; ITV regional 1970 – 1973


*ALONG WITH SAPPHIRE & STEEL, DOOMWATCH AND DOCTOR WHO THIS IS ONE OF MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITES AND DESPITE THE LACK OF MATERIAL FOR VIEWING PLEASURE WILL ALWAYS REMAIN TO BE.THIS SHOW IS SO STYLISH, HIP AND SO SOPHISTICATED IF IT HAD THE OPPORTUNITY OF BEING FILMED IN PARIS I'M SURE IT WOULD'VE *

As the c.d does not feature the beautiful lyricism of the song (a groovy little dirge in its' own right show related or not) you can now sing along......

VERSE 1

Jet white dove

Snow black snake

Time has turned his face

From the edge of mystery

Where running is no race


VERSE 2

Ageless night

Careless day

Fate reaches out a hand

To touch the edge of destiny

A story with no end


CHORUS

Tarot cards

Tarot the diamond man

Tarot guards

Wherever he can

Tarot cards

Tarot the diamond man

Tarot guards with mystic hands


VERSE 3

Falcon sun

Leopard moon

Minds searching for tomorrow

Take what you can from yesterday

The rest beg - steal - or borrow


VERSE 4

Iron roads

Asphalt sky

Windows made from water

Son of secrets - mystery's child

Ruler of eight quarters


[CHORUS]


VERSE 5

Velvet roofs

Tattooed streets

Patterns made from words

Laughter echoes in the dark

Life hovers like a bird


[CHORUS]