Table of contents for May 2024 in SFX (2024)

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SFX|May 2024Captain’s LogThere’s supposed to be a picture of me in the TARDIS here, but they’ve got lost in the space/time vortex somewhere… Regardless, here we go again – we’re on the cusp of a new-new-new era of Doctor Who and it’s very exciting! While everyone waits for 11 May (or 10 May, depending on which time zone you’re in…) we’ve been beavering away, quite literally behind the scenes, working for over a year to bring you new and exciting content for Ncuti Gatwa’s first season – and beyond! It really does give me so much joy to be able to bring this to the fans, not least because we’re lifelong fans here at SFX, but because nothing’s guaranteed and the support of you, the reader, for our Doctor Who coverage last…1 min
SFX|May 2024Earth’s Deathliest HeroesNOT ONLY MARVEL’S biggest summer crossover for several years, Blood Hunt is also set to be the goriest ever, with writer Jed MacKay and artist Pepe Larraz producing not only the standard five-parter but also expanded, polybagged Red Band editions, which will depict the gruesome events that unfold in even more graphic detail. “They’re pretty horrific!” MacKay tells Red Alert. “We looked at ways to create a more horrific version of our issues and [editor] Tom Brevoort, Pepe and I talked it over and identified sections to be redrawn. Pepe went wild and came up with some particularly gnarly stuff!” Beginning with various vampire factions using malevolent Darkforce energy to block out the Sun, the core five-parter draws on plot threads from MacKay’s other Marvel books. “While it grows out…4 min
SFX|May 2024AquamanWHILE DRACULA was an adaptation of the original 1931 film, Creature From The Black Lagoon Lives – the second salvo in Skybound Entertainment’s Universal Monsters comic book line – is a sequel to the 1954 horror classic. “I love the Universal Monsters as a whole,” says Dan Watters, who is co-writing the four-parter with Ram V. “They’re all these beautiful snapshots of a point in time, and the things people were scared of back then. The idea here is to take those roots and apply them to what we’re scared of now.” Watters believes that the Gill-man, which appeared on-screen in Creature From The Black Lagoon and its two sequels, 1955’s Revenge Of The Creature and 1956’s The Creature Walks Among Us, has plenty of potential. “The Creature doesn’t feel…3 min
SFX|May 2024Toy StoryNUMEROUS OBSCURE toy lines such as Biker Mice From Mars, Powerlords and Sectaurs: Warriors Of Symbion have now been assembled into a shared universe, called the NacelleVerse. It’s launching with RoboForce, which is currently being turned into an animated series, coproduced by the Nacelle Company and Dwayne Johnson, and Dany Garcia’s Seven Buck Productions. Spinning out of last month’s NacelleVerse one-shot, it will be preceded by a three-issue miniseries from Oni Press, which acts as a prequel to the cartoon. “It sounded like a really fun challenge to try and work to reintroduce them in comic book form,” says writer Melissa Flores, who is working closely with Nacelle’s Brian Volk-Weiss and Matt Kravitsky. “Brian has such a specific vision on how he’s planning on adapting these properties and the way…3 min
SFX|May 2024RAMONA FRADON 1926-2024“DRAWING SUPERHEROES NEVER came easily to me,” admitted comic book artist Ramona Fradon. “I didn’t have the mythic sensibility and could never really take them seriously.” Gifted with a clean, whimsical style that gave grace and energy to such DC Comics icons as Aquaman, Batman and Wonder Woman, Fradon was raised in Westchester County, on the outskirts of New York City. Graduating from the Parsons School of Design, she was encouraged into comics by husband Dana Fradon, a New Yorker cartoonist. “He urged me to try my hand at cartooning and I found I could do it.” Fradon began working for DC Comics in the early 1950s, earning her first regular assignment on Aquaman, then a back-up strip in Adventure Comics. Her association with the character lasted a decade, defining…2 min
SFX|May 2024BOXING CLEVERTHE GLOBAL LAUNCH OF DOCTOR Who has been rumbling along for quite some time. Today it’s mid-March and SFX is in yet another fancy London hotel (no biscuits, tell the Mouse) to catch up with showrunner Russell T Davies and lead cast Ncuti Gatwa and Millie Gibson. It’s a busy week of international press for the team – something that’s only going to get bigger in the build up to 11 May and simultaneous broadcast in nearly 250 countries at the same time. No pressure. An exciting new era awaits… First of all, can we please put the tabloid rumours about Millie to bed? RTD: Not leaving. Not at all. We were ordered for two years of a series off Disney, and we’re delivering two years, and the Ruby Sunday…18 min
SFX|May 2024TICKET TO RIDEWhat can you tease about the episodes? ◆ I got sent scripts and I read them and went, “These are crazy. These are wonderful, ambitious, in some ways quite nutty scripts.” Episode two is madcap and bold and unexpected, and loony in a really sharp and interesting way. We’ll have sequences that you’ve never seen in a Doctor Who episode before. Episode six is a more classic Doctor Who episode, but it’s romantic and funny and frightening. Is filming in real world situations complicated? ◆ Recreating ’60s London is tricky. Most of the location shooting is done in Cardiff – it really wouldn’t have been helpful to shoot in London anyway, because London doesn’t look like that any more. So we found streets that gave us some features – you…8 min
SFX|May 2024DRESS CODEThe most enigmatic character in the new film is the one played by Freya Allan (Princess Cirilla in The Witcher), who’s billed as Nova. Watching the trailer, you could assume that she’s just like any of the other humans fleeing in panic as apes sound the horn for a hunt. And that, since the character isn’t heard to speak, she’s a 2024 analogue of Taylor’s love interest of the same name. But wait! Those other humans are clad in animal skins, but Allan’s character is clearly wearing a vest and trousers. How did they last 300 years? Do we know for sure that she’s mute? Could she even be from a different time period…? This is purely conjecture, and could be way off the mark – hey, maybe she just…1 min
SFX|May 2024SUBSCRIBE TO SFX… and get all these benefits Never miss an issue! No more traipsing to the shops in the rain – have the mag delivered to your door! Pay significantly less than the shop price Print subscribers also get a digital issue Free access to a huge library of digital back issues* The satisfaction of knowing you’re helping to keep the editorial team off the streets! See page 23 for our latest special offer and full terms and conditions. *Issues dating back to SFX 189 (December 2009) are available on the SFX magazine app; issues dating back to SFX 227 (November 2012) via the Pocketmags app.…1 min
SFX|May 2024GODZILLA X KONG: THE NEW EMPIRE▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 12A | 115 minutes ▶ Directors Adam Wingard ▶ Cast Rebecca Hall, Brian Tyree Henry, Dan Stevens, Kaylee Hottle Godzilla Minus One may have been a box office minnow in MonsterVerse terms. Yet the ecstatic reception the Japanese film received, and the Oscar it picked up for its visual effects, can’t help but cast a shadow over GxK, a gargantuan successor to 2021’s Godzilla Vs Kong that has the inescapable feel of an epic that’s arrived late to its own party. There’s certainly a sense that we’re on well-trampled ground here, for all the fresh corners of Hollow Earth that Adam Wingard’s film uncovers, and the new antagonists obliging a battle-scarred Kong and a now supercharged Godzilla to set aside their differences. Of those, the most…1 min
SFX|May 2024CIVIL WAR▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 12A | 109 minutes ▶ Director Alex Garland ▶ Cast Kirsten Dunst, Wagner Moura, Cailee Spaeny, Stephen McKinley Henderson There is nothing particularly civil about the conflict that divides America in Alex Garland’s latest, a hard-hitting exercise in provocative make-believe revolving around an unsettlingly plausible diegesis. What if, at a time not too distant from our own, the despicable deeds of an authoritarian president were to prompt two of the nation’s largest states to secede? That much has already happened by the time Civil War begins, putting the audience as much in the crosshairs as the four journalists it follows as they attempt to reach Washington before the “Western Forces” marching towards it can bring the capital to its knees. Photographer Lee (Kirsten Dunst), reporter Joel…2 min
SFX|May 2024TIGER STRIPES▶ RELEASED 3 MAY TBC | 95 minutes ▶ Director Amanda Nell Eu ▶ Cast Zafreen Zairizal, Deena Ezral Fatimah Abu Bakar, Shaheizy Sam Coming of age as a girl is pretty much a horror show, even if nothing supernatural happens to you. But much as in Brian De Palma’s Carrie, Diablo Cody’s Jennifer’s Body or Julia Ducournau’s Raw, in Tiger Stripes a protagonist’s monstrosity feels like a righteous and empowering reaction to the cruel patriarchal world these women inhabit. It’s set in a conservative girls’ school in Malaysia, where young women are indoctrinated with regressive gender norms, and the charming, free-spirited, TikTok-loving Zaffran (Zafreen Zairizal) is viewed as disobedient and transgressive. As puberty kicks in, she at first goes through the expected bodily transitions and grapples with the stigma…1 min
SFX|May 2024HALO Season TwoUK/US Paramount+, streaming now ▶ Director David Wiener ▶ Cast Pablo Schreiber, Kate Kennedy, Natascha McElhone, Joseph Morgan The videogame-inspired space opera welcomes a new showrunner in the shape of David Wiener, and a swathe of positive changes with him. There’s more action and plot development, leading to a finale that reveals a ton of lore and prophesies a tonally different season three, should one be greenlit. We finally see the parasitic Flood! Meanwhile, the war with the Covenant continues, and we explore the origins of the Spartan super soldiers. Admiral Paragonsky becomes delightfully unhinged, Laera goes from barely-there to badass, and we have a new anti-hero in the form of Colonel Ackerson: a scene-stealing turn from Joseph Morgan, playing a character from the Halo tie-in novels. Less positively, exterior…2 min
SFX|May 2024WRECK Series Two▶ UK iPlayer, streaming now ▶ Creator Ryan J Brown ▶ Cast Oscar Kennedy, Thaddea Graham, Jodie Tyack, Harriet Webb EPISODES 2.01-2.06BBC Three’s horror-comedy runs aground with its second run, disembarking from the seagoing setting of the first, whose cruise ship killings were revealed as a human-hunting package offered to wealthy clients of an evil corporation. Seven months later, after a cover-up involving huge pay-offs, survivors like Jamie (Oscar Kennedy) and Vivian (Thaddea Graham) conclude that the only way to take down Velorum is to infiltrate their latest venture: a high-end wellness festival in Slovenia. As before, it’s a series with strong LGBT representation, and a waspish tone. You can’t go two minutes without hearing potty talk, with creator Ryan J Brown also tossing in phrases that in other contexts…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE CAT AND THE CANARY▶ RELEASED 22 APRIL 1927 | PG | Blu-ray ▶ Director Paul Leni ▶ Cast Laura La Plante, Creighton Hale, Forrest Stanley, Tully Marshall BLU-RAY DEBUTThe first and finest screen version of John Willard’s stage play may hail from the dying days of silent cinema, but nearly a century on it’s lost none of its playful gothic energy. This stunning new restoration enhances the genius of director Paul Leni, the shadow-master of German Expressionist cinema, who balances farce and horror as claimants gather at a “grotesque mansion” to squabble over a millionaire’s will. It’s deliciously creaky, tropey stuff, complete with hairy hands emerging from the dark, but there are flashes of genuine surrealism amid the moths and cobwebs. It’s striking how artfully the camera prowls the corridors, producing modern-feeling tracking…1 min
SFX|May 2024RESTORE POINT▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 2023 | 15 | Download An ingenious premise drives this Czech thriller: in a world heading for dystopia, people have the means to resurrect themselves in the event of unnatural death, using laptop-like restore points. It plays like a twisty, near-future Scandi noir, with a jagged turn by Andrea Mohylová as the detective pursuing a series of killings linked to the tech. And it gets good value out of its provocative high-concept: in a sly touch, a murder victim joins the investigation into their own death.…1 min
SFX|May 2024MAX BEYOND▶ RELEASED 22 APRIL 2024 | 15 | Download This testosterone-fuelled, CG-animated sci-fi thriller marries a Blade Runner/Akira aesthetic to a multiverse-meets-Groundhog Day plot for a lot of repetitive designer violence. It’s been created using Unreal Engine, the system behind things like Fortnite, but this is nothing to boast about. The animation looks like a cheap videogame (in-play visuals that is, not cut scenes) and the plot feels like playing the same level over and over. Unsurprisingly, there’s a spin-off game coming next year.…1 min
SFX|May 2024ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 1941 | PG | Blu-ray ▶ Director William Dieterle ▶ Cast Edward Arnold, Walter Huston, James Craig, Anne Shirley BLU-RAY DEBUT Adapting StephenVincent Benét’s short story “The Devil And Daniel Webster” – a title the film took back when edited down for rerelease – this turns the Faustian legend into a piece of magical Americana, as a noble politician steps in to save a New Hampshire farmer from a diabolical pact. Rod Serling was taking notes: you can see the clear influence on the folksier episodes of The Twilight Zone. The piety and patriotism may feel a little stuffy nowadays, but Walter Huston’s Oscar-nominated turn as the Mephistophelian Mr Scratch remains electrifying. All psycho-pixie grin and sulphurous mischief, he’s proof that if the Devil has all…1 min
SFX|May 2024FOOTPRINTS▶ RELEASED 29 APRIL 1975 | 12 | Blu-ray ▶ Director Luigi Bazzoni ▶ Cast Florinda Bolkan, Peter McEnery, Nicoletta Elmi, Lila Kedrova BLU-RAY DEBUT While it draws on elements of both science fiction and giallo, this enigmatic Italian film may frustrate those who come to it expecting a conventional example of either genre. Florinda Bolkan plays Alice, a translator who’s bewildered to learn that she has a three-day gap in her memory. A postcard leads her to a Turkish resort, where various people recall seeing her – only then she had long red hair. Intercut throughout are black and white sequences, featuring an astronaut abandoned on the moon, and Klaus Kinski as a scientist babbling about conditioning. Alice identifies these as memories of a film, but they’re suggestive of…2 min
SFX|May 2024THE SILVERBLOOD PROMISE▶ RELEASED 25 APRIL 608 pages | Hardback/ebook/audiobook ▶ Author James Logan ▶ Publisher Jo Fletcher Books There’s an Indiana Jones vibe to this fantasy. That comparison relates to its characters and plot, not its setting; forget ’30s Cairo, Lukan Gardova’s quest takes place in a realm reminiscent of Renaissance Italy’s city states. A roguish adventurer, Lukan blunders through encounters by luck and wit. He’s the son of an antiquarian, and Dad’s been murdered. Now he must unravel a conspiracy to find out what happened. His sidekick, young cutpurse Flea, is a Short Round-alike who keeps him grounded, popping up to distract villains when needed. They don disguises, sprint through catacombs and leap out of towers. The name James Logan may be new to book shelves, but his debut arrives…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE DANCE OF SHADOWS▶ RELEASED 18 APRIL 560 pages | Hardback/ebook/audiobook ▶ Author Rogba Payne ▶ Publisher Gollancz Rumi is a member of the Odu people, despised by other tribes. He lives on a continent where the Palmaine, colonisers, hold sway. But he’s also a musician of rare dexterity and imagination. Could his talent offer a way out of poverty? Yes and no. That’s because, in Anglo-Nigerian author Rogba Payne’s debut fantasy, which draws on West African stories, little is ever quite as it initially seems. Rumi, it’s gradually revealed, can command far more power than he realises. If, that is, he can survive the attentions of the Priest of Vultures, a macabre figure who attacks both Rumi and his family. Sanctuary lies in the Eredo, an underground city where Rumi, helped by…1 min
SFX|May 2024FLOWERS FROM THE VOID▶ RELEASED 2 MAY 254 pages | Hardback/ebook ▶ Author Gianni Washington ▶ Publisher Serpent’s Tail The world is a terrifying place, and what makes it so can be seen on the evening news. But Gianni Washington’s version of the world is much more than just scary: it is queasy, disquieting and an existential hell from which its victims cannot escape. Her debut collection of horror short stories is an uneasy proposition. They tackle grief, loneliness and unending darkness within a desolate, unsettling and truly depressing landscape. At first, her prose can seem overwrought and borders on bathos; she never selects an adjective when three metaphors could do, for instance. But this results in horrifying poetry that sees her protagonists subjected to (and subjecting others to) unspeakable cruelty. The collection…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE LAST PHI HUNTER▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 384 pages | Paperback/ebook/audiobook ▶ Author Salinee Goldenberg ▶ Publisher Angry Robot A young male hunter, eager to prove himself, meets a beautiful woman in need of aid. Through journeying together, they both begin to recognise their feelings for the other… It’s not the most original set-up for a fantasy novel, but The Last Phi Hunter sets it in a powerfully drawn, Asian-inspired world of magic and myth, rituals and reincarnation, bringing a freshness to the tropes that makes for a satisfying read. Ex is a Phi Hunter, travelling the countryside killing the “hungry ghosts” that attack villagers, planning for and dreaming of the day he slays a true demon and gains respect and recognition from his guild. He’s rescued from a drunken fight by Arinya,…1 min
SFX|May 2024FALL OF X FINALE▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ Publisher Marvel Comics ▶ Writers Gerry Duggan, Kieron Gillen ▶ Artists Lucas Werneck, RB Silva EVENT No matter how adventurous and experimental mainstream superhero comic-book sagas may get, they always eventually have to press the big red “reset” button and get everything back to the status quo. Now, despite pulling off some of the wildest superhero storytelling in years, the sprawling saga of the X-Men’s Krakoa civilisation is coming to an end. The last year of X-comics has been building towards this grand finale, all with the umbrella title Fall Of X, and it’s being wrapped up in a homage to the Jonathan Hickman-penned House Of X/Powers Of X saga that started it all. As with those interlinked titles, we have two heavily connected five-issue…2 min
SFX|May 2024SOMNA▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ Publisher DSTLRY ▶ Writer/artists Becky Cloonan, Tula Lotay ISSUES 1-3 Publisher DSTLRY launched last year with a roster of high-profile comics creators and the promise of doing things a little bit differently to the likes of Marvel and DC. It’s still early days for the company, but with Somna they have their first bona-fide instant classic. The three-issue series blurs the lines between folk horror and female-gaze erotica. Ingrid is a woman living in 16th century England. Her husband Roland is the local witchfinder, which puts her in a comparatively privileged position compared to her neighbours, but at night she’s beset by visitations. These are perhaps a nasty case of sleep paralysis, or possibly the actual Devil himself. As these experiences worsen, the lines between…1 min
SFX|May 2024STAR WARS: UNLIMITED▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ Players Two+ ▶ Publisher Fantasy Flight Games TRADING CARD GAME If you’ve so much as cracked open a booster pack, you’ll know that trading card games can be trickier to get into than a briar thicket. They’re dense with terms you’ll need a glossary to understand, and it’s easy to trip up on their convoluted strategies. However, much like Disney Lorcana a few months ago, Star Wars Unlimited takes a hatchet to all this. While it’s still couched in tactical smarts, Unlimited is much more accessible than the likes of Magic: The Gathering or the Pokémon Trading Card Game. It feels like a good middle ground between their complexity and ‘s Lorcana’s family-friendly straightforwardness. In this tabletop spin on a galaxy far, far away, you…1 min
SFX|May 2024ALONE IN THE DARK▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ Reviewed on PS5 ▶ Also on Xbox Series S|X, PC ▶ Publisher THQ Nordic VIDEOGAME Some of the reception to this reboot of the original groundbreaking 1992 game has been so hostile that you’d think Uwe Boll was directing again. Shame, because there’s actually a lot to like here. Playing as either Edward Carnby (David Harbour) or Emily Hartwood (Jodie Comer), you explore Derceto Manor, a building with a sinister past and not exactly a joyous and lovely present. “Brainteasers are clever and beautifully constructed” Though there’s the odd effective jump scare, combat is often more tedious than terrifying, and too many of the horror tricks (sneak past the blind monster, throw bottles to distract enemies) have been seen way too many times before. It’s…1 min
SFX|May 2024KilldozerIn my head it was a Sunday afternoon at about 3.30pm and on ITV when I first encountered Killdozer. I’ve no idea if that’s actually true or not, but that’s the half-memory that always comes to mind when I think of this prosaic, yet weirdly memorable made-for-TV thriller. Based on a novella by Theodore Sturgeon, it tells the story of a meteor that crashes to Earth and – in a flash of special effects and the burble of a vintage synthesiser – unleashes an alien force that possesses an unmanned bulldozer and sends it on a murderous rampage. A quick glance at the internet tells me that the screening I saw may have been in 1988 and that feels about right – I would have been eight. It’s the colours…2 min
SFX|May 2024NEWS WARP→ He yam what he yam! New Popeye movie in development. → DC bringing Teen Titans to the big screen with a script by Ana Nogueira. → Joe Dante directing Little Shop Of Halloween Horrors for Roger Corman. → Wendell Pierce playing Daily Planet head honcho Perry White in James Gunn’s Superman. → Venom: The Last Dance arrives 25 October 2024. → Neve Campbell returns for Scream VII, directed by franchise creator Kevin Williamson. → Rebecca Ferguson joining Chris Pratt in SF film Mercy, directed by Wanted’s Timur Bekmambetov. → The makers of Winnie The Pooh: Blood And Honey launching the Twisted Childhood Universe with Poohniverse: Monsters Assemble, set for 2025. → Matt Reeves’ The Batman Part II bumped back a Bat-year to 2 October 2026. → Margot Robbie producing…1 min
SFX|May 2024Monster Mash-upMARKING THE 70TH anniversary of the King of the Monsters’ first appearance in 1954’s Godzilla, IDW is releasing a special 100-page one-shot featuring nine stories by creators such as EJ Su, Danny Lore and Liana Kangas. James Stokoe previously wrote and drew five-parter Godzilla: The Half-Century War as well as issue one of anthology Godzilla In Hell. His contribution harks back to when he first saw 1964’s Mothra Vs Godzilla as a six-year-old. “My story owes a lot to the more light-hearted aspects shown in that era of Godzilla films,” he explains. “It’s set in the same time as The Half-Century War, this time in ‘70s Istanbul. There are some returning familiar faces, but mostly it’s about an Anti-Megalosaurus team that’s been tasked to deal with Hedorah, and what a…2 min
SFX|May 2024Devil In The DetailsIT’S BEEN FIVE YEARS SINCE EVIL premiered as a procedural mystery with supernatural proclivities, exploring the intersection of faith and science. The show’s premise has the Catholic Church hiring two atheists – forensic psychologist Dr Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers) and tech expert Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi) – to join seminarian (now priest) David Acosta (Mike Colter) to investigate cases having to do with possession or demonic intervention. Sounds pretty staid, but the level of crazy that’s unfolded across three seasons has made Evil one of the most insane yet addictive shows since The X-Files. From apocalyptic codex cases to Bouchard’s daughter having a secret tail, the show goes places no one would expect. Yet creators Robert and Michelle King have kept it grounded and intellectually daring. Evil’s fourth and final…4 min
SFX|May 2024Guardian Of The GalaxyAFTER THE HUGE SUCCESS OF Thundercats, Dynamite Entertainment are continuing their Warner Bros animation line with Space Ghost, in a monthly title that shines new light on the cosmic crimefighter’s mysterious roots. “I love the energy and fun behind the original Space Ghost cartoon, but the show never had the time to dig into any backstory or continuity beyond the adventure at hand,” says writer David Pepose, who describes the series as a different kind of origin story. “Readers will learn early in our run as to why Space Ghost has begun his crusade to bring justice to the galaxy,” he continues. “But our story ultimately focuses more on Space Ghost’s first encounter with Jan and Jace, and how their dynamic evolves from them being rescued orphans to becoming trusted…2 min
SFX|May 2024KALIANE BRADLEYTell us about your protagonist. → Dashing, charming and slightly bemused Graham Gore is a Victorian polar explorer and Royal Navy commander brought from history to the near-future; the woman known as “the bridge” is the disaffected civil servant assigned to help him assimilate to the 21st century. Did you have any specific inspiration? → I watched The Terror during a 2021 lockdown. It’s about Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 Arctic expedition. I became obsessed with polar exploration, and Commander Gore in particular. It grew out of wondering what it’d be like to meet him. Is there any political theme? → A major one is living in the aftermath of an empire, and the ways Victorian values might relate to contemporary values. What would a Victorian think of multiculturalism? Feminism?…1 min
SFX|May 2024BABY BOOMTell us about “Space Babies”. ◆ The TARDIS lands on a spaceship. It was very, very hard to shoot. We used real babies! I like to do things that I’ve never done before and sometimes that’s quite hard, with such a long career as mine. So I was very happy to be doing science fiction and working with Russell, and with babies who were high on the call sheet. I think some were about one-and-a-half years old. Is there a CG element to the babies? ◆ Yes, there’s a slight CG element to it. But that happened after I left. It was all worked out by fantastic people who took on the very tricky job of figuring out how to make the babies actually talk. So I had to just…7 min
SFX|May 2024DEAD BOY DETECTIVESTHE LIVE-ACTION JOURNEY for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comic spin-off Dead Boy Detectives – about two teenage boys who die, but whose ghosts hang around to solve mysteries – has been long. Showrunner, executive producer and writer Steve Yockey had been a fan since the duo first appeared in 1991 and, as part of his overall deal with the studio, approached Warner Bros and DC to see if he could have the property. They said no. Then in 2019 The Sandman finally made it to the screen. “Then the studio was more willing to let me give it a shot,” Yockey explains. The pilot was completed in October 2021, by which time the characters had appeared, played by different actors, in a Doom Patrol episode also written by Yockey. But his…11 min
SFX|May 2024NINE LIUESLATE JANUARY, AND SFX IS AT another vast stately home in England for filming on a gothic production. “Joanna Lumley said ‘f*ck off’ in this room,” Steve Ryde, executive producer of Inside No 9, tells us. Not that she’s appearing in the ninth, and final, series of the iconic British anthology show – that we know of, at least. We’re informed that Arley Hall in Cheshire, where their penultimate week of filming is taking place, has also recently been used for Netflix’s Fool Me Once, as well as Peaky Blinders. We’re in a library, which is almost floor to ceiling with books. Right in front of us is the famous No 9 hare, sitting opposite a bust of one of the guest actors. “We’ll probably give it to him,” Ryde…12 min
SFX|May 2024Back In Business?While Rentaghost has, appropriately, enjoyed a healthy afterlife in repeats, a remake hasn’t materialised. US production company Pidgeon Entertainment picked up the rights almost 20 years ago. “I had been scouting out British kids’ properties to reboot for the US market and I came across Channel 4’s 100 Greatest TV Kids’ Shows,” explains the company’s MD, Patrick Pidgeon. “Number 12 was Rentaghost. I was drawn to the wonderful title and loved the high-concept premise.” UK company RDF first attempted to develop a TV redux before Hollywood came knocking. “Literally one week before I was going to sign an extension with RDF, producer Gail Berman reached out to me for the film rights.” Berman’s credits include Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Baz Luhrman’s Elvis. “Gail and I set up Rentaghost at…1 min
SFX|May 2024GHOSTBUSTERS: FROZEN EMPIRE▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 12A | 115 minutes ▶ Director Gil Kenan ▶ Cast Paul Rudd, Mckenna Grace, Carrie Coon, Finn Wolfhard Few films in recent years have delivered such an unexpected emotional gut-punch as 2021’s Ghostbusters Afterlife. Somehow, even while introducing an entirely new cast, it allowed us to wallow in beautifully measured nostalgia and grief for old friends lost. But with all due respect now paid to the late lamented Harold Ramis and, by extension, Egon Spengler, what’s left for his on-screen family in this sequel? The nostalgia remains in Frozen Empire; co-writer and director Gil Kenan lives and breathes the original movie with camera angles, music cues and cameos from 1984’s ghosts. You could argue that there’s actually too much looking backwards, but at the same time…2 min
SFX|May 2024ALL YOU NEED IS DEATH▶ RELEASED 19 APRIL 15 | 97 minutes ▶ Director Paul Duane ▶ Cast Simone Collins, Charlie Maher, Nigel O’Neill This eerie Irish horror taps into the spookiness inherent in folk music, following a couple who belong to a subculture of people who hunt down old songs. Anna (Simone Collins) and Aleks (Charlie Maher) surreptitiously record private performances and sell them to a collector; the more obscure the music, the greater its value. Following a lead to an old woman’s house, they’re treated to an ancient ballad in Old Irish about a King, the woman who cheated on him, and a terrible punishment. This doesn’t end well for anyone involved… A cursed song makes for an intriguing premise, and the film has bags of atmosphere, a poetic turn of phrase,…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF MAGICAL NEGROES▶ RELEASED 26 APRIL 12A | 105 minutes ▶ Director Kobi Libii ▶ Cast Justice Smith, David Alan Grier, An-Li Bogan, Nicole Byer Spike Lee coined the term “magical negro” to describe black supporting characters in films like The Green Mile, Ghost and The Legend of Bagger Vance, who use their powers in aid of white protagonists. In Kobi Libii’s directorial debut, he satirises this stock type and creates the titular society, which is devoted to using its magic in service of “white comfort” – believing that it ultimately makes the black population safer. After being inducted into the order, young sculptor Aren (Justice Smith) is mentored by Roger (David Alan Grier) and tasked with infiltrating a tech company called Meetbox where mediocre white men fail upwards. One of the…1 min
SFX|May 2024IMAGINARY▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 15 | 104 minutes ▶ Director Jeff Wadlow ▶ Cast DeWanda Wise, Pyper Braun, Taegen Burns, Betty Buckley Imaginary friends are looking set to supersede scary dolls this year, given the presence of both this new horror title and John Krasinski’s kid-friendlier IF. But Imaginary, which bears the Blumhouse moniker (and features a scare bear) falls far short of the campy fun of M3GAN and its like. It’s the tortured tale of a woman (DeWanda Wise’s Jessica) moving back to her childhood home with stepfamily in tow: a forgettable hubby, soon-to-be-influenced younger girl and bratty teen older girl. She discovers, however, that something she left behind as a kid has been waiting for her. The film soon stumbles, weighed down with exposition and predictable jump scares.…1 min
SFX|May 2024PASSENGER Series OneUK ITVX, streaming now US Britbox, streaming now ▶ Creator Andrew Buchan ▶ Cast Wunmi Mosaku, Arian Nik, Rowan Robinson, David Threlfall EPISODES 1.01-1.06Gloriously unpigeonholeable, Passenger must have been the marketing team at ITV’s worst fear. Which is kind of fitting considering that worst fears are at the heart of this show. At times it’s a gritty, Northern Happy Valley-style detective show, delving into the dark underbelly of a small rural village. But then there’s some The Wicker Man-style folk horror oddness involving a mystical tree. It also throws in some Stranger Things-style weirdness going on in the local factory, complete with Predator-style sound effects, and the odd Fargo-style local cop duo, complete with trapper hats and Scandi noir jumpers. Not to mention a bunch of characters who channel everything…2 min
SFX|May 2024MY UNDEAD YOKAI GIRLFRIEND Season One▶ UK/US Prime Video, streaming now ▶ Creators Yalun Tu, Zach Hines ▶ Cast Ai Yoshikawa, Hayato Sano, Takashi Sorimachi, Nagisa Saitō EPISODES 1.01-1.08This Japanese supernatural comedy-drama is naff in places, and nothing especially significant, but likeable all the same. Hachi, a nerdy college student, is on the rebound from a relationship catastrophe when he hears of an occult summoning ritual. Trying it out, he conjures up a severe girl in a leather outfit, a fox spirit princess who demands instant sex. Hachi is amusingly reluctant, believing in committed relationships. Nonetheless, the deed’s soon done – it’s depicted tamely, but it’s still a contrast with “magic girlfriend” comedy anime, whose characters would sooner die than go so far. Now Hachi’s bonded for life with the girl, Izzy, who has a…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE BORDERLANDS▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 2014 | 15 | Blu-ray ▶ Director Elliot Goldner ▶ Cast Gordon Kennedy, Robin Hill, Aidan McArdle, Luke Neal BLU-RAY DEBUTYou’d be forgiven for skipping this British horror when it debuted. Not only was it a found-footage film emerging when enthusiasm for the genre had all but burned out, but it was saddled with a bland title and a clichéd poster (a Cabin In The Woods-riffing Rubik’s Cube church.) A decade on, The Borderlands has acquired a cult following, with good reason. For starters, it’s a rare found footage film with bullet-proof reasoning behind the conceit, centred on a team of Vatican investigators as they look into strange events in a recently reopened church. All three wear headcams to document the process, and key locations are…2 min
SFX|May 2024WITCH▶ RELEASED 29 APRIL 2024 | N/A | Download Set in 1585, this indie horror finds a blacksmith’s wife accused of witchcraft, along with a local girl who has slain her own parents and paraded their heads in the street. No wonder the town’s known as the Devil’s Door… While the dialogue can feel jarringly anachronistic, this modest production makes effective, extensive use of locations to conjure 16th century grime and gloom. It’s sincerely played by the cast, and an unexpected plot wrinkle adds intrigue to the familiar folk horror beats.…1 min
SFX|May 2024MANSION OF THE DOOMED▶ RELEASED 6 MAY 1976 | 15 | Blu-ray ▶ Director Michael Pataki ▶ Cast Richard Basehart, Gloria Grahame, Trish Stewart BLU-RAY DEBUT 101 Films’ latestBlack Label release revives B-movie producer Charles Band’s first horror. It takes its cue from Eyes Without A Face. In George Franju’s 1960 classic, a surgeon kidnaps young women, slicing their faces off to restore his disfigured daughter’s looks. Mansion Of The Doomed is more A Face Without Eyes, as Richard Basehart’s similarly situated Dr Chaney harvests eyeballs for a series of unsuccessful transplants. A film of threadbare logic, it throws viewers in the deep end with indecent haste, and (after parading some real-life surgical footage) quickly loses interest in the operations themselves. The focus is more on the aftermath, as a cage gradually fills…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 1980 | PG | Blu-ray ▶ Director Michael Anderson ▶ Cast Rock Hudson, Gayle Hunnicutt, Darren McGavin, Roddy McDowall BLU-RAY DEBUT Scrambling to jointhe SF gold rush of the late ’70s, American TV turned to the works of Ray Bradbury. Hyped at the time as event television, this three-part miniseries came loaded with promise: directed by Michael Anderson (The Dam Busters, Logan’s Run), adapted by genre legend Richard Matheson, and packed with bankable small-screen faces. Bradbury’s novel is really a patchwork of vaguely connected short stories. The TV version honours that framework but such fidelity makes for disjointed viewing, however hard it tries to stitch together the assorted vignettes via random appearances by Rock Hudson’s thuddingly dull spaceman character. While the Martian designs have an eerie…1 min
SFX|May 2024(ROUND UP)Time to run through recent theatrical releases hitting shiny disc. Set in 45,000 BC, OUT OF DARKNESS (22 April, Blu-ray), has echoes of Prey, following Stone Age wanderers who discover a barren realm where shrieking demons wait in the shadows. We said: “Played with absolute conviction… A bone-chiller of a campfire fable.” Bonuses: nada, sadly. In BAGHEAD (out now, Blu-ray/DVD) a young woman inherits a pub with an entity in the basem*nt which can shapeshift into a dead person, allowing the bereaved an audience with a lost loved one. We said: “Too much about the set-up feels arbitrary or unconvincing.” Bonuses: again, nowt. In Blumhouse horror NIGHT SWIM (6 May/22 April, 4K/Blu-ray, DVD) a family move into a home boasting a pool with a dodgy history. We said: “Early on,…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE UNDERHISTORY▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 384 pages | Hardback/ebook/audiobook ▶ Writer Kaaron Warren ▶ Publisher Viper Books Generally speaking, ghost tours aren’t actively dangerous: you pay your money, you listen to the spooky stories, and you leave, pleasantly creeped out. But in The Underhistory, there’s a tour with a difference. Pera Sinclair, now in her sixties, was the sole survivor of a tragedy that killed her entire family when she was a child. Now she welcomes curious tourists into her home to regale them with stories of the ghosts she says lurk within. Then one day a group of dangerous escaped prisoners gatecrashes the tour… The juxtaposition throughout of Pera’s various tragedies with the horrors the prisoners have committed is chilling. It’s her house, her tour, filled with her secrets, but…1 min
SFX|May 2024REISSUESAncient myths and modern problems collide in Thomas D Lee’s PERILOUS TIMES ( , out now, Orbit), in which an eco-warrior accidentally unleashes a dragon by blowing up a fracking site; meanwhile, a former Knight of the Round Table is awakened from his magical slumber to answer the call to protect the realm. We said: “At once entertaining and ecologically alarming… an ambitious, imaginative debut.” Justin Cronin’s THE FERRYMAN ( , 2 May, Orion) is set on an isolated archipelago whose islands are idyllic for a pampered elite, but far less fun for everyone else… Its protagonist’s job is to shepherd people through a retirement process which involves having their memories wiped clean and their bodies renewed before being sent back to begin life afresh. We said: “Action scenes are…1 min
SFX|May 2024DRAGON RIDER▶ RELEASED 25 APRIL 564 pages | Hardback/ebook/audiobook ▶ Author Taran Matharu ▶ Publisher HarperVoyager Taran Matharu, author of the hugely popular Summoner series, leaves the Young Adult bracket behind with Dragon Rider. Early on, the shadow of Games Of Thrones looms large, particularly when a royal engagement party turns into a massacre, but Matharu has his own voice and ideas as a writer. Jai is a Steppeman, handed over as hostage to the Sabine Empire in the wake of his nation’s defeat. The Sabines’ rise to power looks unstoppable when a marriage is arranged between the empire’s prince and a princess from their northerly rivals, the dragon-riding Dansk. But a bloody coup forces Jai to flee the palace, hoping to find his way home, accompanied by a freshly hatched…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE OTHER VALLEY▶ RELEASED 18 APRIL 305 pages | Hardback/ebook ▶ Author Scott Alexander Howard ▶ Publisher Atlantic Books There’s something comfortingly familiar about the set-up of Scott Alexander Howard’s debut novel. The plot basics – a young girl in an isolated community discovers unexpected things about herself and the world – sound like the stuff of YA cliché. But while this is certainly a coming of age novel, it offers an unusual twist on time travel, while also going deeper into its themes than most. Odile is 16 and on track to join her community’s ruling Conseil. The valley she lives in is one of a succession of identical valleys that stretch to the east and the west. Head in one direction and you’ll find the same town – and people…1 min
SFX|May 2024ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ Publisher Marvel Comics ▶ Writer Jonathan Hickman ▶ Artists Marco Checchetto ISSUES 1-3 Marvel’s reboot of its Ultimate universe got off to a mildly perplexing start in 2023, but this first ongoing Ultimate series is the shot in the arm the project needed. Ultimate Spider-Man keeps the worldbuilding from last year’s Ultimate Invasion in the background, and instead builds an accessible superhero adventure with interesting new angles on Spidey’s mythology. The basic set-up is that in the new Ultimate universe, Peter Parker gains his powers 20 years after he should have done, meaning we’ve got a new Spider-Man who’s in his late thirties, married to Mary Jane Watson, and father to two precocious children. We also get some different character relationships – most notably that…1 min
SFX|May 2024ACTION COMICS: “I, BIZARRO”▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ Publisher DC Comics ▶ Writer Jason Aaron ▶ Artist John Timms ISSUES 1061-1063 DC is trying something a little different with Action Comics this year. The publisher’s new “Superman Superstars” initiative pairs high-profile writers and artists for discreet three-issue arcs. The first of these, “I, Bizarro”, sees recent Marvel defector Jason Aaron team up with artist John Timms to tell a tale centred on the Man of Steel’s goofiest foe. Bizarro – basically a dumb as rocks mirror image of Superman – is rarely portrayed as anything other than an admittedly powerful joke. Here, however, he becomes a major threat when his apparent death magically transforms everyone in the city into Bizarro refections of themselves. Superman can be a hard character to get right, but…1 min
SFX|May 2024FELLFOUL▶ RELEASED 30 APRIL ▶ 13 minutes | Vinyl/download ▶ Publisher Mulgrave Audio AUDIO DRAMA The second release from Mulgrave Audio is a slight affair – just 13 minutes long, enough for two sides of 10” vinyl – but it provides another strong indication of what this new label is all about. Young Eleanor Wood (Aja Dodd) discovers that an obscure cult fantasy film, Fellfoul, was shot near her house. Intrigued, she investigates the novel series that the movie was based on, but finds herself pulled into a mystery. Written by label co-founder Andrew Orton, Fellfoul is a pitch-perfect conjuring of a specific era and mood. While the plot is rooted in the world of cheap paperback sword-and-sorcery novels, Fellfoul also strongly evokes Alan Garner’s The Owl Service. It’s effectively…1 min
SFX|May 2024DOCTOR WHO: THE QUIN DILEMMA▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ 236 minutes | CD/download ▶ Publisher Big Finish AUDIO DRAMA 22 March marked 40 years since the broadcast of “The Twin Dilemma” – the Sixth Doctor’s debut, notorious for both its general poor quality and the Time Lord’s attempt to strangle companion Peri. This six-part box takes inspiration from that story and crafts a superior one. “The Exaltation” sets the scene, as the Doctor and Mel explore the planet Arunopal just as King Otho declares his successor: whichever of his five sons brings him the Doctor! He’s not after just one Doc through, sending them out across space to find different versions of Six. “Escape From Holy Island” is a slight but touching story which sees the Doctor and Peri helping to defend Lindisfarne from…1 min
SFX|May 2024Fact Attack!​Theodore Sturgeon’s original 1944 novella was written in nine days after the author had suffered a bout of writer’s block. ​The novella explains that Earth was once the site of a war between an ancient empire and a race of alien energy beings. ​The bulldozer in the film​ is a Caterpillar D9 – a model launched in 1954. In the novella it was a Caterpillar D7 (1938, if you’re wondering). ​A comic adaptation titled “The Thing Called… Killdozer” was published in Marvel’s Worlds Unknown the same year as the film. ​The ’80s band Killdozer (debut LP: Intellectuals Are The Shoeshine Boys Of The Ruling Elite) were named after the film.…1 min
SFX|May 2024Play Your Cards RightGIVEN THE SHEER VOLUME OF horror movies, it’s surprising how few have exploited the subject of tarot. Sure, it’s featured – in films from Live And Let Die to The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones to A Dark Song – but barely any have made these mystical cards central to the story. “It’s crazy to think that tarot has been around for hundreds of years and no one’s really made a movie about it,” writer/director Anna Halberg tells Red Alert, somewhat incredulously. “They’re so iconic and so inherently scary. I have friends who refuse to get readings done, because they just don’t want to know just in case.” Tarot is the first co-directing feature credit for Halbert and her creative partner Spenser Cohen. In 2022 the two wrote (with Cohen…4 min
SFX|May 2024Double TakeWHEN IT COMES TO NOVELISTS having their books adapted for film or television, the rule of thumb is Hollywood rarely invites them to help in that process. So when someone bucks that trend – as is the case with writer Blake Crouch – it’s worth taking note. Since 2004, Crouch has published more than a dozen books, with three being adapted into series. With Wayward Pines and Good Behaviour, he was hired as a staff writer. For the latest, Dark Matter, Apple TV+’s adaptation of his 2016 book, Crouch is showrunner, responsible for bringing his quantum mechanics-infused mystery to life. Crouch tells Red Alert that after years trying to adapt Dark Matter into a film, multiple script drafts made it clear that the book’s emotional relationships were getting short-changed. “It…4 min
SFX|May 2024Wonder WomanThe inevitable question: what did you steal from the set? → I got my name plaque that goes on the back of your cast chair, and they also gifted me with my producer’s chair as well. So I have both things! Was there a moment when you felt the show had arrived, or did you have that from the start? → To be honest with you, no, we did not have it from the start. We had a troubled start. From what I understand, every iteration has a challenge before them at the beginning. I do believe that we were kind of on wobbly legs. We were walking with purpose and intention and passion, and trying to walk with excellence as much as we possibly could, but we were still…4 min
SFX|May 2024Hound Of LoveSTEMMING FROM A conversation writer Mike Sizemore had with Storm King Comics CEO Sandy King, Fetch demonstrates the lengths people will go to for their four-legged friends. Illustrated by Dave Kennedy, the middle-school-age graphic novel series begins with 12-year-old Danni traveling to Hades to rescue her late dog, Pirate. “The bare bones of the core idea had been rattling around in my head for a while,” Sizemore tells Red Alert. “Sandy’s dog had recently passed away so we were talking about our pets when I said, ‘I have a story that would be perfect for Storm Kids…’ and it was greenlit there and then.” Sizemore was raised on a diet of Ray Harryhausen’s movies, and Fetch embodies his childhood love of Greek mythology – especially Homer’s Odyssey. “Odysseus is such…2 min
SFX|May 2024SFX SPACE AND TIME NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF DOCTOR WHO◆ Not one but two new trailers for season one of Doctor Who have been released. The first, on 22 March, racked up over 4 million views in just over a few days. The second, on 31 March, came with episode titles and further details. ◆ Revealed as featuring in upcoming adventures are Golda Rosheuvel as Jocelyn in the season opener, Callie Cooke, Dame Siân Phillips and Tachia Newall, who will play Winston Chidozie in the series finale. ◆ Also announced as guest stars are Alexander Devrient, Bhav Joshi, Majid Mehdizadeh-Valoujerdy and Caoilinn Springall. ◆ Confirmed as directing an episode for 2025’s season two is Ben A Williams. ◆ Episode titles and directors for season one were announced on Easter Sunday. The first two episodes will be made available on…3 min
SFX|May 2024SUBSCRIBE TODAY AND SAVE UP TO 40%!A YEAR’S WORTH OF ISSUES. ONE PAYMENT. SIMPLE. Annual print and digital edition £41.99 EVERY 12 MONTHS Get 13 issues of SFX in print over 12 months, and save 40% Annual digital edition £36.99 EVERY 12 MONTHS Get 13 issues of SFX in digital form over 12 months, and save 35% PRINT + DIGITAL ACCESS NEW! Digital access to 140+ issues when you subscribe to print!* SUBSCRIBE NOW! ONLINE PHONE 0330 333 1113 and quote code C98J Terms and conditions: Offer closes 31/05/2024. Offer open to new UK subscribers only. Pricing is guaranteed for the first 12 months and we will notify you in advance of any price changes. Please allow up to six weeks for delivery of your first subscription issue (up to eight weeks overseas). The full…1 min
SFX|May 2024SERVING FACETell us about the look for Ncuti’s Doctor. ◆ I had worked with Ncuti before – I did season one of Sex Education. So he was a known quantity, we’re good friends. As well as giving us a little bit of scope to be a bit more adventurous and playful in a way that’s suited to his personality, I wanted to do something a little bit more interesting. So we started looking at nail tattoos. Then I was looking at some of the symbols in the Gallifreyan alphabet. Obviously, they’re too big to fit on a fingernail, because they’re quite elaborate and quite large. So we just took elements and adapted them and shrunk them to size. We just put them on like a normal tattoo. They’re water transfer tattoos…5 min
SFX|May 2024KINGDOM OF THE PLANET OF THE APESTHE REBOOTED PLANET OF THE Apes franchise has been running far, far longer than the original film series did. Okay, that’s largely down to the slower pace of production when you’re replacing human actors with CG creations, rather than glueing prosthetics onto them… Still, it’s no mean feat that the revival is well into its twelfth year, with a fourth entry – designed to kick-start a fresh trilogy – in cinemas shortly. Two people who’ve been there from the beginning – right back to the original pitch in 2006 – are husband-and-wife writing team Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. As the scriptwriters of 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, they created Caesar, the chimp who, in the wake of the spread of a virus that both devastates human…8 min
SFX|May 2024LOST IN THE SHADOWSIS THERE A BETTER EXAMPLE OF the agony and the ecstasy of dysfunctional relationships than the vampiric love/hate story of Louis de Pointe du Lac and Lestat de Lioncourt? Gothic novelist Anne Rice introduced the poster boys of hom*oerotic hotness in her 1976 novel Interview With The Vampire, and vampire storytelling took off in new directions. Yet despite the characters’ incredible popularity, Rice’s creations have sputtered in live-action films, with Hollywood clearly too chicken to go as far as her books do. Lestat was disappointingly watered down in interpretations played by Tom Cruise in Interview With The Vampire (1994) and Stuart Townsend in Queen Of The Damned (2002). It wasn’t until AMC’s 2022 television adaptation of Interview With The Vampire that series executive producer and showrunner Rolin Jones and his…12 min
SFX|May 2024OLIVER K LANGMEADTHE TRADITION OF SPECULATIVE POETRY is rich and deep. It’s also a minority pursuit. Yet Oliver K Langmead’s Calypso, a story of terraforming told in verse, looks set to gain far more attention than such a project usually might. “It’s almost like writing in verse is like solving a puzzle,” says Langmead of his second verse novel after 2015’s Dark Star, “because every single line of it has to stick to a certain metre.” It’s a process, he adds, that “scratches” the part of his brain that “likes solving crossword puzzles”. In contrast, “writing in prose is like doing a painting on an infinite canvas.” If that makes the book sound like a dry intellectual exercise, nothing could be further from the truth. Relating its story from four different perspectives,…4 min
SFX|May 2024IMMACULATE▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 18 | 89 minutes ▶ Director Michael Mohan ▶ Cast Sydney Sweeney, Álvaro Morte, Dora Romano, Simona Tabasco When Hamlet tells Ophelia to “Get thee to a nunnery!” he’s being kind of a dick, but at least Shakespeare was not condemning her to the terrors that befall Sister Cecilia when she arrives at her new convent. Nestled in her remote new home within picturesque Tuscan hills, Cecilia (Sydney Sweeney) devotes herself to bonding with her fellow nuns, helping the sick and serving her Lord and Saviour. Unfortunately, the violent nightmares that interrupt her sleep prove to be more than just figments of her imagination, and it becomes clear that this house of God is more despicable than divine. The wonderful Sydney Sweeney, who produces and stars,…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE FIRST OMEN▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 15 | 119 minutes ▶ Director Arkasha Stevenson ▶ Cast Nell Tiger Free, Bill Nighy, Sonia Braga, Ralph Ineson How did The Omen’s Damien get born? That’s the pregnant premise in this belated prequel to Richard Donner’s 1976 classic, a Rome-set chiller of moderate effectiveness which nimbly avoids the car crash that was John Moore’s woeful 2006 remake, only to pile headlong into unavoidable comparisons with Immaculate. In that film, Sydney Sweeney stars as a young American nun who travels to Italy, only to have her womb co-opted by a malevolent Catholic cabal. That’s pretty much what happens to The First Omen’s Margaret (Nell Tiger Free) too, a naïve novitiate from Massachusetts who comes to suspect that the priests at the orphanage she’s gone to work…1 min
SFX|May 2024BOY KILLS WORLD▶ RELEASED 26 APRIL 18 | 110 minutes ▶ Director Moritz Mohr ▶ Cast Bill Skarsgård, Sharlto Copley, Michelle Dockery, Jessica Rothe If Marvel ever find themselves scrambling around for a director for Deadpool 4, they could look no further than Moritz Mohr. His first feature after a series of attention-grabbing shorts, Boy Kills World is a virtual audition piece for the MCU. Set in a dystopian future, it centres on an unnamed deaf and dumb man (Bill Skarsgård) who, after his family’s killed, is trained by a mysterious mentor to exact revenge on the tyrannical Hilda van der Koy (Famke Janssen). This involves picking off various members of her odious family until he gets to the murderous head honcho. That all sounds simple enough, but the movie is a…1 min
SFX|May 2024RENEGADE NELL Series OneUK/US Disney+, streaming now ▶ Creator Sally Wainwright ▶ Cast Louisa Harland, Bo Bragason, Florence Keen, Adrian Lester EPISODES 1.01-1.08Highway robbery is clearly the new “wait ages for a bus, then two come at once”. On 1 March The Completely Made-Up Adventures Of Dick Turpin landed on Apple TV+: a tongue-in-cheek take on the British highwayman starring GBBO host Noel Fielding. Then at the end of the month, Disney+ released the slightly more serious Renegade Nell, this time telling the story of a mythical highwaywoman robbing carriages. Renegade Nell is easily the superior of the two. It also slots firmly into the pages of SFX, thanks to its flaunting of witchcraft, folklore and, in one stirring sequence, a deadly Herne the Hunter. It’s hardly what you’d expect from the pen…2 min
SFX|May 2024SUGAR Season One▶ UK/US Apple TV+, Fridays, streaming now ▶ Creator Mark Protosevich ▶ Cast Colin Farrell, Kirby, Amy Ryan, Dennis Boutsikaris, Nate Corddry EPISODES 1.01-1.08There’s a chance that any SFX reader watching Sugar on our recommendation could get four or five episodes in and throw in the towel. The brainchild of screenwriter Mark Protosevich, whose credits include The Cell, I Am Legend and Thor, the series initially presents itself as a straight neo-noir thriller. So without wishing to ruin a delightful surprise, we’ll say this: hang on in there, because a twist is coming – one as audacious, in its way, as the entirely different rug-pull in Angel Heart. Not that you wouldn’t get any indication that something is afoot. When it comes to the main character, John Sugar (Colin Farrell),…2 min
SFX|May 2024TIGON COLLECTION▶ RELEASED OUT NOW!/22 APRIL 1968/1971/1971 | 15/18/15 | 4K/Blu-ray/DVD ▶ Directors Michael Reeves/Piers Haggard/James Kelly ▶ Cast Vincent Price, Ian Ogilvy/Linda Hayden, Wendy Padbury/Beryl Reid, Flora Robson For a short period in the late-’60s and early-’70s, producer Tony Tenser’s company Tigon supplied competition for Hammer and Amicus with a string of low-budget productions. Some of them are now being revived in a new range from 88 Films. The earliest of the so-called “Unholy Trinity” of foundational folk horror films, Witchfinder General is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. With its period costumes and melodramatic score, at first glance it could be mistaken for a mid-period Hammer flick. Its true brutality quickly becomes apparent, however. It’s 1645 and witchfinder Matthew Hopkins (Vincent Price) is terrorising East Anglia. Relentless in its sexualised…3 min
SFX|May 2024THE GREATEST HITS▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 2024 | PG-13 | SVOD ▶ Director Ned Benson ▶ Cast Lucy Boynton, Justin H Min, David Corenswet, Austin Crute DISNEY+Some people time travel using an old Police Box or a DeLorean. Lucy Boynton’s Harriet, though, simply listens to a song that reminds her of her dead boyfriend. One moment she’ll be sitting in front of her record player; the next, she’ll be back in the past in the arms of the hunky Max (David Corenswet). Although, frustratingly, she can’t seem to prevent the car crash that killed him. With her life on hold in the present day as she keeps jaunting back in time, Harriet is reluctant at first to get involved with fellow music-lover David (The UmbrellaAcademy’s Justin Min). Can their growing attraction compete…1 min
SFX|May 2024TIL DEATH DO US PART▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 2023 | 15 | Download Staring down the barrel of a lifetime commitment, a bride-to-be flees her wedding… only to be stalked by the best man and other groomsmen, who are determined not to let her escape. This low-budget thriller should be fun, but because it thinks it’s a mystery, it won’t commit to any of its characters or storylines, so it’s a soupy nonsensical mess. Try drinking every time there’s a pointless dance sequence; that way you might enjoy yourself.…1 min
SFX|May 2024JEAN ROLLIN▶ RELEASED 22 APRIL 1970/1974 | 18 | 4K/Blu-ray ▶ Cast Caroline Cartier, Olivier Martin, Maurice Lemaître/Joëlle Coeur, Lieva Lone, Patricia Hermenier Indicator’s range of Jean Rollin restorations marches on, with a pair of titles that demonstrate both the captivating and frustrating aspects of the cult French filmmaker’s oeuvre. An exercise in poetic mystery, The Nude Vampire has some entrancing sequences. A man encounters a woman clad only in diaphanous fabric, pursued at night by animal-masked figures. Later, he sneaks into a black-tie gathering, but finds he’s stumbled upon a suicide cult. Both are pure cinema, liberated from dialogue. Turns out the girl’s one of a breed of “mutants” whose immortality is a sought-after commodity. But such exposition is hurriedly tossed off – Rollin was more interested in beguiling imagery…2 min
SFX|May 2024A BLADE IN THE DARK▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 1983 | 18 | 4K/Blu-ray ▶ Director Lamberto Bava ▶ Cast Andrea Occhipinti, Anny Papa, Fabiola Toledo, Michele Soavi A giallo/slasher hybrid so bare-bones it’s skeletal, this second feature by Lamberto Bava (son of Mario) follows a composer who, while working on a horror movie at a remote villa, finds scares intruding into real life as various female visitors are hacked up. The film industry milieu supplies added interest for cinephiles, and the fact that the kills use tools of the trade is a neat touch: several involve an editor’s blade; another is strangulation by celluloid! However, the characters are paper thin, the setting is bland, and there’s little intrigue – you are basically just waiting for the reveal. A tin-eared English dub provides a little…1 min
SFX|May 2024THE GATHERING▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 416 pages | Hardback/ebook/audiobook ▶ Author CJ Tudor ▶ Publisher Michael Joseph If you’re looking for a setting that’s got the icy chill of Scandi noir but none of the social democracy, Alaska could hardly be better – as demonstrated by the recent True Detective: Night Country. Not only is it far enough north to have (dependent on the time of year) long nights and long days, but it’s also isolated, physically separated from the rest of the USA by Canada. Anchorage, Alaska’s capital, was home to just 288,121 souls in 2021. More people live in Dudley. Take all this together and it’s easy to imagine all manner of horrific things happening in Alaska. Especially if, as CJ Tudor does in The Gathering, you add bloodsuckers…3 min
SFX|May 2024SOMEONE YOU CAN BUILD A NEST IN▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 320 pages | Hardback/ebook/audiobook ▶ Author John Wiswell ▶ Publisher Jo Fletcher Books Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 2024 winner of the award for Most Literal Book Title! Shesheshen, the lead character of Someone You Can Build A Nest In, really does want to lay her offspring inside one special person. They’ll then serve as both a comfy nest and, well, lunch. Romance isn’t dead. Shesheshen is a glutinous lump who can impersonate humans by absorbing them. The nearby townsfolk want her dead and, after a skirmish, Shesheshen is injured. The unsuspecting Homily finds her in human form, tends her wounds, and the two fall in love – much to the monster’s surprise. But she needs to breed, and Homily looks like such a delicious…1 min
SFX|May 2024MAL GOES TO WAR▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 312 pages | Paperback/ebook ▶ Author Edward Ashton ▶ Publisher Solaris Getting your novel adapted by an Oscar-winning filmmaker is the kind of attention most authors would kill for, and Edward Ashton pulled off just this trick with his previous sci-fi thriller Mickey7 (soon to be upcoming blockbuster Mickey17, helmed by Parasite’s Bong Joon-Ho). His latest book Mal Goes To War isn’t connected to Mickey7, but it does live in the same realm of heady science fiction, just with a larger accompanying dose of dark comedy. Set in a war-torn future America, it’s the story of Mal (short for “Malware”), a free AI entity who wants nothing to do with the ongoing conflict between the genetically modded and the puritanical “Humanists”. Unfortunately, Mal then gets sealed…1 min
SFX|May 2024CALYPSO▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! 224 pages | Hardback/ebook ▶ Author Oliver K Langmead ▶ Publisher Titan Books Considered in précis form, you could be forgiven for thinking that Oliver K Langmead’s Calypso is a slight work, even clichéd. Here is a story of a colony ship that arrives at a new world, only for it to turn out that members of the crew have ideological differences over what the future should hold for those who live on this new planet. Arguments and violence inevitably result. But that’s to overlook the form. This is a book written in verse, which nods back to days when people told epic stories in poetry. Indeed, when speaking to SFX this issue (see page 70), Langmead pointed out that the book is in key respects…1 min
SFX|May 2024ALSO OUTThere’s plenty more books that we couldn’t quite fit in. MANIA (out now, The Borough Press) is the latest by Lionel Shriver, author of We Need To Talk About Kevin. In this satirical alternate-world tale, the rise of the Mental Parity Movement has made it taboo to call someone “stupid” (that’d take all the fun out of Twitter…), and discrimination based on intelligence is viewed as a civil rights issue. One for fans of anime (and “achingly slow burn romance”), June CL Tan’s YA urban fantasy DARKER BY FOUR (out now, Hodderscape) is set in a world of revenants, exorcists and death gods. It centres on an exorcist-in-training whose magic powers are accidentally transferred to the black sheep of an illustrious family. In Sarah Langan’s near-future thriller A BETTER WORLD…1 min
SFX|May 202440 YEARS OF SCREAM!▶ RELEASED 25 APRIL ▶ Publisher Rebellion ▶ Writers/artists Various COLLECTION Despite running for only 15 weeks in 1984, torpedoed by industrial action and senior management jitters, British horror comic Scream! is fondly remembered. This £45 hardback (469 pages) collects the whole kit and caboodle. Featuring the work of a host of 2000 AD contributors, it’s delightfully gruesome. The editors clearly knew what kids wanted: giant spiders, zombies, mummies, and all manner of slathering, toothy monstrosity. Three core strips previously received standalone releases. “The Dracula Files” effectively transplants the Count into a Cold War landscape of MI5 operatives and double-decker buses. In “Monster”, a lad discovers a Quasimodo-esque uncle in the attic, who keeps forgetting his “No more killing!” rule. And in “The Thirteenth Floor”, tower block computer Max punishes…1 min
SFX|May 2024DRAGON’S DOGMA 2▶ RELEASED OUT NOW! ▶ Reviewed on PS5 ▶ Also available on Xbox Series S|X, PC ▶ Publisher Capcom VIDEOGAME Swing a broadsword in a gaming shop and you’ll likely hit one of several dozen fantastical open worlds on offer. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, Elden Ring, Skyrim… Dragon’s Dogma 2 is one of them, though among this hoard of treasures it glitters like no other. This is an open world adventure like little else, one that empowers you to hit the road and have an adventure on your own by following the wind as you see fit. Which isn’t to say there’s no story at all. When a dragon descends on the kingdom, the beast literally steals your heart, marking you as the Arisen – now capable of wielding magical, enhanced…2 min
SFX|May 2024THE SUNQUESTION 1 In the 1961 film The Day The Earth Caught Fire, what causes a shift in Earth’s orbit which sends it moving towards the Sun? QUESTION 2 Earth’s yellow sun is what gives Kryptonians like Superman their superpowers. But what kind of sun drains those powers? QUESTION 3 In New Mutants, what is the superhero monicker of Roberto da Costa? QUESTION 4Picture Question Name this television series. QUESTION 5 In The Marvels, what does the Kree leader Dar-Benn try to do to the Sun? QUESTION 6 In which Star Trek episode did James T Kirk first travel in time by performing a slingshot manoeuvre around the Sun? QUESTION 7 Which James Bond movie revolves around a piece of solar cell technology called the solex agitator? QUESTION 8 Picture Question…2 min
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