The Killing Times is a great website that looks at crime fiction on TV.
They’ve asked various writers, such as Cathi Unsworth, Eva Dolan, Sarah Hilary and more, to talk about their favourite crime TV shows of 2014.
I blab on a bit about FARGO.
Riviera is another great instrumental from PETER ORD which would be perfect as the theme to a spy film or television series. Great clips in the video, too, of classic TV shows such as The Champions and Department S.
PDB: Can you pitch ZOMPIRE VIXENS FROM PLUTO in 25 words or less?
Foxy zombie/vampire hybrids attack Brooklyn in retaliation for the declassification of Pluto as a planet, rendering the Zompires ineligible for intergalactic aid.
PDB: Can you tell us about the staged readings that you have up at You Tube?
The goal of this webseries has always been perfectly clear to me – to make something awesome. Haha. But I still get an awful lot of questions as to what the series is actually about. We were fortunate enough to be accepted into Women In Horror month last February, so I put together a staged reading in four days with a combination of cast and and uncast (but killer) talent who were available. We had about an hour to rehearse before we performed the whole thing in front of a small audience. It was a ton of fun and while it doesn’t have the visual quality that I’m aiming for with the full series, I definitely think it does the job of illuminating the madcap adventures that the series offers.
PDB: Who else is involved in ZOMPIRE VIXENS FROM PLUTO?
I wrote this series a couple of years ago and have yet to fully fund the project. That said, though, there have been some amazing players who I hope will be available for the Vixens when all 12 episodes get greenlit. Sophia Remolde, Nylda Mark, and Emily Bennett have been cast as the Zompire trio. Marion Elaine and Tyler Cook are our two human heroes. Richard Brundage is featured multi-tasking in the staged reading and will be our Dr. Von Tron, the broken-hearted scientist responsible for declassifying Pluto. Drea Lorraine, aka 2012’s Miss Coney Island, really wowed me with her Empress of Pluto for the reading, and I hope she can come in for the actual show.
Michele Mulkey has been our key special effects guru from the beginning. She’s sent us some really amazing prosthetics for shoots, and I can’t wait to get her on set. Che Broadnax is kind of a mega sci fi geek and our cinematographer. Bob DeNatale is my frequent editor and finessed the staged reading videos. Ayal Kushner and Anna Duckworth have helped me produced shoots and events for the show. Lenny Gonzalez has done some composing for us. Phaedra Strecher has been our amazing graphic designer for Zompire flyers, t-shirts, etc. Many other people have made themselves available for the Zompire cause, and for that, I salute all of you.
Marion Elaine and Tyler Cook, our human saviors in ZOMPIRE VIXENS, were the two estranged lovers in DARKTOWN. Bob DeNatale edited DARKTOWN and will be editing the Vixens. I, obviously, am behind both projects.
Mostly I like how different the two pieces are. DARKTOWN is very, well, dark (as in grim) and rather simple. It was shot without a script and with extremely minimal props. The blacked out grid of Manhattan was the real star in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The actors showed up in their own clothes, and we made up the story as we went along.
In juxtaposition, ZOMPIRE VIXENS FROM PLUTO! also involves death, but it’s a zany horror comedy with an alien species travelling to Earth that only knows human history up until film noir. The story is actually pretty complicated. Also, there are a lot more fake blood, costuming, props, and gore happening.
The Zompires have been denied their lifeline of brainstems by the Intergalactic Consortium, spearheaded by Dr. Von Tron who loathes the Zompires. In order to keep their race alive, three Vixen lieutenants are sent to Earth to convince the good doctor to reinstate their food supply. Zompires, though, being a mix of zombie (forgetful) and vampire (sexy) get sidetracked pretty easily and lay waste to several of Brooklyn’s denizens.
Olivia, a gifted young astronomer and student of Dr. Von Tron’s, and her neighbor Chase take it upon themselves to save Brooklyn from the Zompires. The six episodes from the staged reading cover a lot of ground, but I’m really proud of some of the twists happening in the last half of the series. Fingers crossed we’ll get to unleash them in some way soon!
PDB: You’ve recently moved to LA, why?
I spent the past ten years of my life in New York, and I came up in film there for three years. I’ve freelanced in production in Los Angeles a few times, but this time around I ended up staying. I got a bump in my dayrate and had been struggling in New York for far too long to ignore that kind of money. Basically, I love and appreciate the support and network that I’ve had in New York for so long, but Hollywood is the seat of our industry. I’ve been meeting many more people who have made it farther than I have and who want to hear about my projects. I was not finding those opportunities in NYC, but I guess the results remain to be seen. In the meantime, I bought my first car ever (her name is Gerty) and spend an astounding amount of time talking about the weather in a place that hardly has any discrepancy. Haha.
PDB: What’s on the cards for the rest of 2013?
I’m working on building packaging for ZOMPIRE VIXENS and for my feature-length slasher. I’m hoping to meet a lot more film folks in LA, and I’ll be hitting up more than a few midnight horror flicks at Cinefamily this month… Tis my most favorite of seasons!
Well, you can check out any of the following links and please send what you like to those you love the most!
Jenna Payne‘s YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/dirjennapayne
ZVP! YouTube http://www.youtube.com/user/ZompireVixens
DARKTOWN – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B8q1ij2vdk (Preview)
PDB: Anything else you think we should know?
I’m definitely looking for collaborators, so if you’re interested in my work, I would love to hear about yours, too!
One of British television’s great creations, George Bulman first appeared on the small screen in 1976, in Granada Television’s hard edged crime series, The XYY Man, based on the books by Kenneth Royce. The XYY Man in question was a cat burglar called Spider Scott who was trying to go straight but regularly ended up getting caught in the MI5’s grubby web.
Doggedly on Scott’s trail was the real star of the show, Detective Sergeant George Bulman, brilliantly played by Don Henderson. Bulman was gruff and eccentric: He always wore gloves. usually had a menthol inhaler stuffed up his nose, carried his things in a plastic supermarket carrier bag and endlessly quoted Shakespeare.
It was a good series, too, but Bulman owned the show and when it ended, after two series, it was logical that Bulman and his sidekick Willis (no, not THAT Willis ) were given their own spin off show, Strangers.
Strangers –with a brilliant jazzy theme tune – started off as a pretty good, straight ahead, cop show spiced up by Bulman’s oddball character. But as the series progressed it became quirkier and quirkier, finding its form in season three when the brilliant Mark ‘Taggart’ McManus became Bulman’s boss.
The last episode had Bulman going undercover in a jazz band and featured music by Tangerine Dream and Pigbag. And the title quoted Jean Cocteau ,‘With these gloves you can pass through mirrors’– and saw Bulman trying to ditch his OCD by taking off his gloves and buggering off with McManus’ wife.
And when Strangers ended, after five series, there was still no stopping Bulman, who returned to star in his own show, Bulman. He was now an unofficial private detective working out of an antique clock repair shop with a spiky Scottish sidekick, occasionally working for a dodgy government agency or Mark MacManus. Bulman’s eccentricity was even more to the forefront in this series and the stories were comfortably off the wall.
Here’s Bulman’s first appearance in The XYY Man.
This post first appeared at Pulp Metal Magazine.
A bit back, I wrote an article for The Sabotage Times about Brit Grit television. I took a gander at three shows in particular, Public Eye, Gangsters and Cracker. All were in-your-face, hard-hitting crime dramas from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s respectively.
And now, it looks like a bunch of the writers that have contributed to the True Brit Grit charity anthology that I co-edited (with Luca Veste) are going to be putting the grit back on the box.
Tony Black, for example, is due to have his intense crime novel Long Time Dead made into a film, directed by Richard ‘Jobbo The Yobbo’ Jobson. And Black’s debut, Paying For It, is due to have the television treatment.
And there’s more.
Howard Linskey’s critically acclaimed The Drop is being adapted for the small screen by JJ ‘Layer Cake’ Connolly, no less!
Sheila Quigley’s Seahills Estate debut, Run For Home, has been scheduled to be made into a telly series, too.
Adrian Magson’s first Harry Tate novel, Red Station, is due to blast out on to big screen as the start of a franchise to equal that of Jason Bourne!
So, who’s next?
Certainly, Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter thrillers would make great high-octane action cinema and wouldn’t someone like to be able to get a handle on Charlie Williams’ blackly-comic Mangel books or Ray Banks’ poignant Cal Innes Quartet?
So, if you want to get a taste of these stars in the making, you could do worse than pick up True Brit Grit- A Charity Anthology. Here’s the blurb:
“The BRIT GRIT mob is coming to kick down your door with hobnailed boots. Kitchen-sink noir; petty-thief-louts; lives of quiet desperation; sharp, blood-stained slices of life; booze-sodden brawls from the bottom of the barrel and comedy that’s as black as it’s bitter—this is BRIT GRIT!”
45 British writers, 45 short stories. All coming together to produce an anthology, benefiting two charities…
Children 1st – http://www.children1st.org.uk/
Francesca Bimpson Foundation – http://www.francescabimpsonfoundation.org
The line up…
Introduction by Maxim Jakubowski
1. Two Fingers of Noir by Alan Griffiths 2. Eat Shit by Tony Black 3. Baby Face And Irn Bru by Allan Guthrie 4. Pretty Hot T’Ing by Adrian Magson 5. Black Betty by Sheila Quigley 6. Payback: With Interest by Matt Hilton 7. Looking for Jamie by Iain Rowan 8. Stones in Me Pocket by Nigel Bird 9. The Catch and The Fall by Luke Block 10. A Long Time Coming by Paul Grzegorzek 11. Loose Ends by Gary Dobbs 12. Graduation Day by Malcolm Holt 13. Cry Baby by Victoria Watson 14. The Savage World of Men by Richard Godwin 15. Hard Boiled Poem (a mystery) by Alan Savage 16. A Dirty Job by Sue Harding 17. Stay Free by Nick Quantrill 18. The Best Days of My Life by Steven Porter 19. Hanging Stanley by Jason Michel 20. The Wrong Place to Die by Nick Triplow 21. Coffin Boy by Nick Mott 22. Meat Is Murder by Colin Graham 23. Adult Education by Graham Smith 24. A Public Service by Col Bury 25. Hero by Pete Sortwell 26. Snapshots by Paul D Brazill 27. Smoked by Luca Veste 28. Geraldine by Andy Rivers 29. A Minimum of Reason by Nick Boldock 30. Dope on a Rope by Darren Sant 31. A Speck of Dust by David Barber 32. Hard Times by Ian Ayris 33. Never Ending by McDroll 34. Imagining by Ben Cheetham 35. Escalator by Jim Hilton 36. Faces by Frank Duffy 37. A Day In The Death Of Stafford Plank by Stuart Ayris 38. The Plebitarian by Danny Hogan 39. King Edward by Gerard Brennan 40. This Is Glasgow by Steven Miscandlon 41. Brit Grit by Charlie Wade 42. Five Bags Of Billy by Charlie Williams 43. It Could Be You by Julie Morrigan 44. No Shortcuts by Howard Linskey 45. The Great Pretender by Ray Banks
The US has also been deservedly praised for producing great crime shows like True Detective and Breaking Bad, of course.
I’ll admit that I only discovered Southland quite recently. I’m a fan of the film director Allison Anders, so I sought out a couple of the shows that she directed.
And it was great, raw, fast paced – and yes, gritty -stuff. Despite a slightly cheesy voice over at the start, as in other sharp American crime shows – like Justified – there was more of human life packed in one breathless 40 minute episode than most series.
But like most great television, you need to see more than the occasional episode. You need to get into it. To let it ferment.
And of late I was lucky enough to see all of Southland Season Four. And beaut stuff it was too.
Heart in the mouth tension. Realistic characters and situations. Sharp dialogue. Great performances – particularly from Michael Cudlitz, Regina King and C. Thomas Howell. Lucy Liu even guested and showed herself to be a cracking character actor.
So, if you want a short, sharp shock of US Grit, check out Southland. You won’t be disappointed.
At some point in the ‘90s, I managed to end up on the guest list for a press screening of Robert Benton’s crime drama, Twilight. The screening was in Mr Young’s Preview Theatre in the heart of London’s Soho.
It was a dangerous thing to invite me to; there was free food and drink. But there you go!
Various press types were there, including an American with a grating voice and the great Kim Newman – who was being as witty and funny and clever as you’d want.
Just before the film was due to start, a figure wearing what looked like a shabby raincoat – but was probably some swanky designer clobber- and carrying a rattling, clinking plastic bag turned up.
It was Charlie Higson, who at the time was film critic for Red Magazine. Higson sat behind me during the film and – it seemed to my overly booze- sensitive ears – worked his way through a fair number of the bottles of beer that were in the carrier bag. Of course, it could have been Evian but that’s not very gritty, is it?
Higson, at that time, was best known as one of the stars and writers of The Fast Show – a brilliantly funny and bitter-sweet comedy sketch show that has been much imitated and never bettered. Now, he is probably best known as the author of the hugely successful Young James Bond YA books.
But he is also the writer of a bunch of dark and funny urban crime/ horror novels that led him to be described as “The missing link between Dick Emery and Bret Easton Ellis”.
King Of The Ants, his 1992 début novel, is the story of Sean, a pretty useless builder’s labourer, who covets the rich peoples’ homes that he works on and is offered a dodgy surveillance job which then turns into a contract kill. And worse.
King Of the Ants was praised by the great Patricia Highsmith, no less, and the praise is deserved. It is a classic piece of Brit Grit noir, full of bitterness, resentment and underachievement. And humour.
This was followed by more cracking books, including The Full Whack, the cruel and hilarious story of a former football hooligan who is trying to sort his life out when he encounters a couple of blasts from the past that are positively seismic.
One of my favourite on-line reads is SABOTAGE TIMES, which is choc full of great articles about people, TV, film, sport,music, travel and life. And more.
And I’m very pleased that they have published a piece from me about crime drama on British TV.
So, pop over to SABOTAGE TIMES to take a gander at A History Of True Brit Grit On The Box, and have a read of the rest of the website, too. It’s a cracker!
How can you resist that?
Yeah! Back in the Mid 90s when Ticklish were just starting, I used to play a big collection of toys, which I’d amplify and process. It was very John Cage and abstract.
‘In 1979, a smart, cool-looking guy called Richard Sanderson came backstage after a (Teardrop Explodes) Middlesborough show and gave me a bedroom recording of his quartet Drop. In his manner, style and quiet confidence, Richard was the Peter Hammill of Post-Punk; anguished, lean and nobly Norman. I loved every song on the tape and played it to Bill Drummond and Dave Balfe (of Zoo Records) , who rejected it outright for being too much like ‘The Teardrops and the Fall’.
So, who was the ‘Peter Hammill of Post-Punk’?
His bio says this: Richard Sanderson was born in 1960. He is originally from Middlesbrough in the North East of England, but has lived in London for 24 years.
After a background in punk and post-punk groups he shifted into experimental music. Playing electronics, toys and squeezebox, he has recorded and performed with many left-field musicians. He was a director of London Musicians Collective for 10 years, and ran several clubs promoting experimental and improvised music such as “The Club Room”, “Baggage Reclaim”, “Western Civilisation” and “Scaledown”.
In 2009 he left the world of paid employment in the music business, and scaled down his other activities to look after his two young children. He has been married to Ruth for 15 years.
And what of Richard’s legendary band Drop?
Richard says: ‘Drop coalesced out of my first punk band, The Silencers, and by the end of 1978, the steady line-up was-
Richard Sanderson – Vocals/Guitar Neil Jones- Keyboards Chris Oberon – Bass Andy Kiss – Drums
Listen to the music that Julian Cope raved about HERE
I’ve know Richard Sanderson for over thirty years. I first met him in a pub in Stockton when he was in DROP and I’ve been a friend and fan since then. I was even in a couple of bands with Richard- Halcyon Days and Oceans 11.
Richard has now also released an MP3 compilation of some of his songs from 1978 -2009. One of the songs is Oceans 11‘s ‘I Guess I’m Sentimental’ which was one of their better tunes. There’s also some other cracking stuff there including Drop’s French Windows which was covered by Julian Cope’s brother’s band. Click HERE for the track listing and download details at Richard’s blog BAGGAGE RECLAIM.
There’s more to The Weird & Not Very Frightening World Of Richard Sanderson than this but it’ll get you started.
Now for those familiar with the site Bookgasm which I write for my inner geek comes through every once in a while. But since I write a column over there that is mainly in the crime/men’s adventure/pulp vein. I rarely get chance to truly geek out. My name is Bruce Grossman and I grew up a Dr Who geek. Now let me explain these were the days that PBS was the only place you could see the show. These were the times that finding any information about the show was hit and miss depending on the comic book store you would go to. Dr. Who was unlike Star Trek or Star Wars where every one at least knew of them. Even if they never saw the movies or shows they at least understood what you were talking about. But as a sixth grader in Rhode Island it was not what you would call a topic of your friends. I mean trying to explain Dr Who to people who have never watched it. Was about as easy as explaining colors to a blind person.
See Dr Who was truly the extreme of geekiness back then. But I lived my little geeky life keeping my love for this weird British sci if show to myself. Even when someone would bring it up they would just slam the awful effects. I would keep my love to myself. It was just not something I could truly express the joy the show gave me. Now yes the effects were lacking. But that is not what kept me entertained. No matter how many times my local PBS would repeat the same stories over and over. It was the writing of the stories. If you don’t believe me rent The Pyramid of Mars or The Talons of Weng Chiang. You just get sucked into these stories so fast that you forgive its short comings. Trust me there is a huge difference seeing these shows with child like eyes and now a person in his forties. What scared the crap out of me as a kid: giant rats, human eating clams, giant insects, and Daleks. I see them now as working on a budget like effects.
So with this new Dr Who series that started a few years ago. Kids not only get much cooler effects and monsters. There are some top notch stories to keep them coming back for more. Also there is a wider audience that has now embraced the show. I can’t wait to see how they are going to pull off the last two episodes of David Tennet’s run as the Doctor. Especially after watching Water Of Mars which featured ideas which were never broached in the old series. Being a Dr who fan is not the badge of geekness it once was. It’s more the feeling of finally getting our due for a series and character we loved so much. And for the record my five favorite stories:
1. Talons of Weng Chiang (Tom Baker)
2. Blink (David Tennet)
3. Pyramid of Mars (Tom Baker)
4. Inferno (John Pertwee)
5. Being Human/Family of Blood (David Tennet)
Bruce Grossman is a writer for a book review site called Bookgasm. Where he covers a variety of books in his weekly column Bullets, Broads, Blackmail & Bombs. http://www.bookgasm.com/tag/bullets-broads/ Sometimes his inner geek will appear but most of the time its his music geek side that is dominant.