DVD REVIEWS: DR WHO & THE DALEKS and DALEKS’ INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D

film_posters_doctor_who_and_the_daleksYes we know these are not “Cannon” Who films but they are distant cousins. We take a ride in our time machine to see how these films have fared now they are out on DVD and Blu-ray and been cleaned up.

DR WHO & THE DALEKS (1965) – when one considers that this was written by Terry Nation, and many elements of the story follow Whovian lore (set on the planet Skaro, inhabited by the Thals, traditional antagonists of the Kaleds), it’s quite frankly bizarre that the makers of both Dr Who films decided to stray so far from Who’s origins by have him appearing as nothing more than a very clever grandfather with no hint of an alien background – he’s even named ‘Doctor Who’. So, here we have the very wonderful Peter Cushing, playing ahead of his years, as a pensionable Doctor, approximately in his 70s (Cushing was a mere 52 at the time). The equally wonderful Roy Castle (‘Record-Breakers’ anyone!?) is added as both the physical effort and comic relief – Castle has just broken into films the previous year, incidentally with Cushing, in Amicus’ Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors. Added to that are some annoying female characters (not their fault – just symptomatic of women in ‘60s cinema), and a bunch of no-names dressed up as Romans with body paint (to signify their alien origin) and equally Roman sounding names (Temmosus, Ganatus, Antodus etc), and you have the human cast. Then of course you have the Daleks, and to be fair, budgetary-wise they were given a good crack of the whip – they didn’t skimp on the effects, which when you consider that this was a 1960’s TV to celluloid transition. The story is a good old romp – the Doctor, his granddaughters, and boy-friend Ian accidentally cross the universe in the Doctor’s TARDIS, landing on legendary Dalek-origin Planet Skaro. Here they meet the Thals, mortal enemies of the Daleks: mutants living inside their metal machines, and it’s down to the Doctor help in the battle of the Daleks vs. the Thals. The acting is TV standard, even Cushing looks like he’s coasting & lampooning himself in equal measures, but treat it as the Whovian artifact that it is – the first of only two cinematic ventures – and you will enjoy it.
GS Rating: 3.5/5

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DALEKS’ INVASION EARTH 2150 A.D (1966) – I was looking forward to watching this title, perhaps more so than the first film, because I really couldn’t remember it, and let’s face it, a Dalek invasion of Earth just sounds so cool. What I forgot was that we have since seen the Daleks & the Cybermen invade Earth together, in top notch HD CGI. So this ended up being a bit of a let-down vs. expectation. It certainly has aged: whilst the use of model space-ships is to be applauded, some of the other aspects, such as the shiny black plastic costumes for the Daleks’ brainwashed human drones, and the fact that the British Resistance of 2150 look exactly like the British Resistance of the 1940s, down flat caps & Bren guns! Peter Cushing is back as the gentile Doctor, this time joined by Bernard Cribbins in the Roy Castle role, this time as a British Bobby who accidentally runs into the TARDIS to ring through a robbery to the local police station. The TARDIS takes our merry band to London in 2150, where the Daleks have invaded the Earth, taken most humans prisoner as Robo-Men, and are trying to steal the Earth’s magnetic core. Quick observers will spot that in 1966, this heralded the start of a relationship between the Doctor & Cribbins, as he returned to TV Who-land to play Donna’s grand-dad, Wilfred Mott, during David Tennant’s reign as everyone’s favourite Gallifreyan MD. Here though, Cribbins is played even more for laughs (in keeping with the fact that his biggest role by then had been in Carry On Spying), and that just makes the film descend Dr Who further into unfamiliar farce territory – and it is probably for this reason alone that Who-fans neglect to include Cushing amongst the official regenerations, in the way that they include Paul McGann off the back of one TV film and a load of radio episodes. A slightly less satisfying experience, but essential watching nevertheless.
GS Rating: 3/5

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GS REPORTER: Silver Fox

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