6 June 2013

Dr. Who and the Daleks/Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. Blu-Ray Review

In this the fiftieth anniversary year of Dr Who, one of the world's most successful television creations, it's inevitable that talk of the show will be everywhere. Despite all the 'Who-ha' however, there seems little if any mention of the film spin-offs made shortly after the Doctor first appeared on the small screen during the early 1960's. So it's timely that STUDIOCANAL have seen fit to release what is surprisingly, considering the Doctor's cult-like status, his only big screen adventures to date.

Dr Who (Peter Cushing) comes up against the mighty force of his most diabolical foe the Daleks, firstly on their home planet of Skaro in Dr. Who and the Daleks (1965) and then on a devastated, futuristic Earth in Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.(1966)  Aided by his granddaughter Susan (Roberta Tovey) and various hapless innocents who inadvertently get taken along for the ride, the Doctor must face his biggest fears in order to save the human race yet again.

In the same way that David Niven's outing as 007 in the original film treatment of Casino Royale (1967) is frequently overlooked when discussing the celluloid history of Ian Fleming's super-spy, so too is Peter Cushing's camp though endearingly batty big screen interpretation of the ageless Timelord. Made by Amicus Studios on the back of the BBC series' success, the two films are remarkably similar to the television show at the time, from the age of the Doctor (portrayed as an eccentric, fatherly figure), to him being accompanied by his granddaughter (played in both films by the precocious child star Tovey). On reflection this is hardly surprising considering that Terry Nation, the writer of the television series and creator of the Daleks, was also co-writer of the films along with Amicus supremo Milton Subotsky.

Nation's involvement likely influenced the choice of the Daleks as the enemies in the film adventures. Watching them now the Doctor's most famous adversaries (who really resemble nothing more scary than giant salt cellars on casters), seem created with the big screen in mind. Though it would be several years before the Doctor appeared in colour on television, here he jumps from the screen in vibrant Technicolor as a velvet jacketed nutty professor, whilst the Daleks themselves are given a new vibrancy in acid yellow and neon red as well as the more familiar neutral silver.

Like the television show which suffered when restricted to indoor sets but came alive in later years with the use of outdoor locations, Dr. Who and the Daleks, though undoubtedly fun with its kitsch air of 1960's psychedelia, is pale in comparison to the following year's sequel. Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. makes marvellous use of an atmospherically war torn London, when the the Doctor and his companions land the Tardis in a post apocalyptic future. This setting also provides not only the film but perhaps the whole Dr Who mythology with one of its most iconic images - namely the vision of a Dalek emerging from the River Thames, which once seen will remain indelibly etched in the viewer's mind. It is the second film which also introduces a certain risqué'ness in the form of the Dalek's latex clad human slaves - a 'kinky' touch they would likely not have got away with on television during the 1960's.

Apart from the locations, Daleks and a marvellous supporting cast including Roy Castle and Bernard Cribbens, it is undoubtedly Cushing who makes the films comes alive. An actor who was at the height of his fame during the mid 1960's, Cushing had made mad scientists his forte and hence was perfectly suited for the big screen version of Dr Who. Indeed, watching the films now, it is puzzling why he was never asked to take on the role on television as he would undoubtedly have brought a unique zest to the part. A tantalising option fans were unfortunately never to see.

Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. were released on digitally remastered DVD and Blu-ray on 27th May, 2013. Both versions come with a host of extras including audio commentary, cast interviews, still galleries and trailers.

Cleaver Patterson

Dr. Who and the Daleks


Rating: U
DVD/BD Release Date: 27th May 2013 (UK)
Director: Gordon Flemyng
Cast: Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Jennie Linden
BuyDoctor Who And The Daleks [Blu-ray]

Daleks' Invasion Earth 2150 A.D.


Rating: U
DVD/BD Release Date: 27th May 2013(UK)
Director: Gordon Flemyng
Cast: Peter Cushing, Bernard Cribbins, Ray Brooks

Buy: Daleks - Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. [Blu-ray]

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