Kim Newman dares to check out this weekend's Classic Sci-Fi event
By James Whittington, Thursday 14th April 2022
Kim Newman

Respected journalist, film critic, and fiction writer Kim Newman takes us through the celebrated B-movies joining Horror for our Classic Sci-Fi Weekend event running from 16th-17th of April.

The Horror Channel returns to a decade riven with fears of devastating climate change, imminent global war, mutating diseases and general paranoia... albeit in black and white, with miniature effects and make-up masks rather than CGI and the kind of urgency that means world-menacing phenomena can be invoked, allowed to run rampage and then dispelled in well under ninety minutes of crisp, sometimes poetic, sometimes bombastic melodrama.

The times weren't really simpler, and neither were the movies if we pay close attention to what's always going on beneath the surface... where malign rocks run out of control and lost civilisations plot against us, or worry about the bugs under the microscope growing to titanic size and terrorising fleeing humans, often picking out tight-sweatered female laboratory assistants for particular attention while stalwart military men, scientists and civilian administrators do their best to restore the balance of nature.

Whether from Outer Space or Deep Below, the monsters are coming. And we're ready to sock them on whatever they've got that passes for a jaw. Buckle in for a wild - possibly atomic! - ride.

It Came From Outer Space (1953)
This opens with a blazing meteor zooming out of the screen (originally in 3D) to crash into the desert and then spins an eerie, unusual story (a screen original by Ray Bradbury, hence a few stretches of 'poetic' voice-over) about 'xenomorphs' stranded in the Arizona desert (yes, this is where the Alien franchise got the name from). The one-eyed, tentacled, fog-shrouded beings are barely-glimpsed, but the film makes extensive, precedent-setting use of the distorted subjective camera looming over screaming humans to convey the monster's point of view. Unlike most flying saucer scare films, the script is somewhat sympathetic to the aliens, who mainly aren't a threat to anyone and (like E.T.) just want to go home. However, one of the crew turns out to be a psycho who memorably impersonates the heroine, swanning about the edge of a crater in a chic evening dress while wielding a mean raygun. It has the tinny domestic scenes and off-the-peg performances typical of early '50s s f, but director Jack Arnold does wonderful things with the natural eeriness of the desert setting.

Tarantula (1955)
Professor Deemer (Leo G. Carroll) synthesises a formula designed to increase the growth of livestock. Struck down with a deforming disease which is a side-effect of exposure to the formula, he loses control of the experiment - and a spider grows to giant size. Director Jack Arnold returns to the desert for one of the best creepy-crawly monster movies of the 1950s. Mild-mannered Carroll, namechecked as 'over a barrel' in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, is an unusually well-intentioned mad scientist, going the monster route as his features expand lop-sidedly before the business with the giant spider kicks in. John Agar is a two-fisted small-town hero and Mara Corday makes a fetchingly imperilled lab assistant, though the monster is actually done in at the end by napalm dropped from a jet-fighter by a young Clint Eastwood, who plays his entire part with a pilot's mask over his lower face. Stills tend to make the monster look like a giant puppet, but that only appears in a few inserts - for the most part, the creature is plated by a genuine arachnid optically inserted into the landscape or rampaging across miniature sets.

The Mole People (1957)
Though they didn't quite catch on in the way the Creature From the Black Lagoon did, the Mole People were one of Universal Pictures' serious attempts to expand their monster pantheon in the 1950s - the big-eyed, clawed, snouted critters featured in a photo-comic book that commands high prices on ebay and have been reproduced in licensed 'Universal Monster' action figure form alongside much higher-profile fiends. One hindrance to their pop culture visibility is that in the film they're mostly background minions, and all the drama is carried by other characters. In a throwback to the 'lost race' adventures of yore, intrepid John Agar and Hugh Beaumont delve deep into caves under a glacier and discover a civilisation of albino Sumerians complete with winsome handmaiden (Cynthia Patrick), imposing High Priest (Alan Napier, 'Alfred' to Adam West's Batman) and prophecy of doom. As is often the case, a hidden society lives undisturbed for millennia but revolt and natural disaster break out twenty minutes after contact with the modern world.

The Deadly Mantis (1957)
After an opening reel which consists of military stock footage and urgent narration about the United States' Northern defences - lots of planes flying over arctic wastes - an early instance of global warming exacerbated by volcanic eruption cracks open the ice... and a monster escapes. On the model of Them! and The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, the barely-seen fiend terrorises a few isolated communities and causes air and shipping disasters before we get a good look at it and realise it's a giant praying mantis. Note that the titles of the earlier films didn't give away the surprise the way The Deadly Mantis does. In the finale, the ravening insect mounts an attack on New York, counterintuitively crawling though a Manhattan Tunnel rather than flying over the skyscrapers. By 1957, a rigid formula had been laid down for giant monster movies and this sticks to it faithfully, with extremely stiff human actors like Craig Stevens and William Hopper in uniform or labcoat. However, director Nathan Juran and an expert effects team stage several unnerving creature encounters and rev up suspense - the idea of a big mantis is at once silly and disturbing, and again a combination of puppetry and nature footage creates a convincing illusion of monster menace.

The Monolith Monsters (1957)
The threat in 1950s science fiction was often animal (dinosaurs and big insects) or vegetable (pod people, the Thing From Another World)... but it could also be mineral. Here, a meteor crashlands in the much-invaded Southwestern desert and grows in size whenever it gets wet... leading to impressive, unusual, weirdly fascinating sequences of jagged black rocks growing like crystals in a sped-up nature film, becoming towering crags (ie: monoliths), then breaking apart and toppling over, often into rivers or during rainstorms so the whole creaking, crackling, creeping thing starts up again. Hero Grant Williams, the sometime Incredible Shrinking Man, is staunch and heroine Lola Albright gasps in horror and a rare nonsexualised alien menace, but they're upstaged by the metamorphic rocks. It's one of several monster movies in which paying attention during science lectures proves essential to mankindís eventual fightback against potential extinction. The next logical step was an evil liquid, which duly turned up in the classic The Blob.

Horror is moving from channel 69 to channel 41 on Freeview from May 25th
Posted on Tuesday 24th May 2022
Horror_freeviewnumber 41

Horror Channel is moving to a new home on Freeview, find us on channel 41 from the 25th May 2022.

Go to Freeview for more information on how to continue watching.

Horror Channel continues to unlock The Vintage Vault this June with Sunday night classic genre double-bills
Posted on Thursday 19th May 2022
The Vintage Vault-1

This June, Horror Channel once again journeys into the history of genre cinema with The Vintage Vault, presenting double-bills of classic sci-fi and horror films every Sunday night.

The vault is unlocked on Sunday June 5th with Nathan Juran's Ray Harryhausen inspired 20 Million Miles to Earth. This is paired with Fred F. Sears' rampaging alien bird yarn The Giant Claw. Then on Sunday June 12th, we have The Monolith Monsters, in which the world is attacked by thirsty giant crystals, followed by the beastly mutant classic The Deadly Mantis.

On Sunday June 19th, the brilliantly lurid The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), directed by Terence Fisher, hits our screens, followed ...

Horror Channel launches assault of premieres for June plus further seasons of Farscape
Posted on Thursday 12th May 2022

Ryan Simon's British supernatural chiller Demon Eye, starring Darren Day, and Liam Fox, and Brad Baruh's Coen-sequel mystery thriller Night Drive, starring AJ Bowen and Sophie Dalah, both receive Friday night UK TV premieres on Horror Channel.

There are also channel premieres for John Carpenter's cult classic Assault On Precinct 13 and Finnish-German sci-fi Nazi horror spoof Iron Sky: The Coming Race, directed by Timo Vuorensola (Iron Sky) and starring Udo Kier, reprising his role as Adolf Hitler.

Plus, cult classic Farscape returns with the channel premieres of Season 3 and 4. This Australian-American Sci-Fi TV series, created by Rockne S. O'Bannon, has proved a big hit with Horror...

Horror Channel celebrates history of genre cinema with The Vintage Vault
Posted on Thursday 21st April 2022

Starting in May, Horror Channel journeys into the history of genre cinema with The Vintage Vault, which will present double-bills of classic sci-fi and horror films every Sunday night.

The season premieres on Sunday May 1st with The Invisible Man, in which Claude Rains delivers a remarkable performance in his screen debut. This is paired with Bride Of Frankenstein, the celebrated sequel to the 1931 classic with Boris Karloff reprising his role as the monster. Then on Sunday May 8th, we have Christy Cabanne's frightening chiller masterpiece The Mummy's Hand, followed by Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman, featuring the original Wolf...

Horror Channel reveals raft of UK TV premieres for May plus channel premieres for Dalek movies
Posted on Thursday 7th April 2022
May prems-twitter image

Stewart Sparke's award-winning dark comedic monster movie Book of Monsters and Audrey Cummings's grisly chuckler She Never Died, starring Olunike Adeliyi, are amongst the raft of Saturday night UK TV premieres on Horror Channel during May.

Also in prime-time slots are the UK TV premieres of gruesome action thriller Becky and Henry Jacobson's stylish crime chiller Bloodline, starring Seann William Scott. There is also a Channel premiere for Peter Medak's classic supernatural horror The Changeling, starring George C. Scott.

Plus, there are channel premieres for Dr Who and The Daleks and Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 A.D. The films star Peter Cushing as Dr Who and al...

Horror Channel adds Channel premiere of Farscape to Sci-Fi Zone from Monday 4 April
Posted on Wednesday 30th March 2022

Horror Channel is dedicated to bringing great cult sci-fi programmes to its audience and this trend continues with the channel premiere of Season 1 of the 1999 Australian-American Sci-Fi TV series Farscape, created by Rockne S, O'Bannon and produced over four seasons.

Astronaut John Crichton (ben Browder), on an experimental space mission, is accidentally hurled across the universe to the midst of an intergalactic conflict. Taken on board Moya, a huge bio-mechanoid "living ship" desperately trying to escape captivity, Crichton is trapped among alien creatures wielding deadly technology and hunted by a merciless military race. H...

Horror Channel celebrates Sci-Fi B-Movies with a second Classic Sci-Fi Weekend in April
Posted on Tuesday 22nd March 2022

It's back to terrify once more! Horror Channel once again celebrates the Sci-fi B-movie world of strange creatures, alien invaders and weird science with Classic Sci-Fi Weekend 2, a follow-up TV special to the popular Classic Sci-fi weekend broadcast in April 2020. The fifties are acknowledged as the Golden Age for Sci-fi movies and Horror Channel has picked ten of the most iconic, which will be broadcast on Saturday 16th April and Sunday 17th April.

The season includes five channel premieres: the heart-pounding Alien invasion classic It Came From Outer Space, pulp-horror favourite Tarantula, featuring an uncredited Clint Eastw...

Horror Channel reveals raft of UK TV premieres for April
Posted on Tuesday 15th March 2022
April Banner

Rob W King's gripping dystopian thriller The Humanity Bureau, starring Nicolas Cage, and Rob Grant's twisted survival drama, Alive, starring Angus MacFadyen, are amongst the raft of Saturday night UK TV premieres on Horror Channel during April.

Also in prime-time 9pm slots are the UK TV premieres of Owen Egerton's supernatural horror Mercy Black and Jonathan Zarantonello's sinister, psychological thriller The Butterfly Room, starring Barbara Steele and Ray Wise.

Plus, Padraig Reynolds's suspense-filled neo slasher Open 24 Hours, starring Vanessa Grasse, gets its channel premiere.

Here's all you need to know:

Our first UK TV premiere of the month arrives on the 2n...

I am not a number. I am a free man! The Prisoner tries to escape this March on Horror
Posted on Tuesday 1st March 2022
The Prisoner-socialmedia-1

Horror Channel is dedicated to bringing great cult thrillers to its audience and this trend continues with The Prisoner, a taut psycho-thriller about a secret agent who retires and finds himself thrown into a Kafka-esque world of mindplay and enigma - a man known only as No. 6.

A major cult following has built up around one of the most inventive and ground-breaking TV series ever produced. Multi-talented and twice winner of an Emmy, Patrick McGoohan who stars, also created and produced the series and wrote and directed many of the episodes.

Produced by Everyman Films for distribution by Lew Grade's ITC Entertainment, a single series of seventeen episodes wa...

A tasty release from Burning Witches Records, A Banquet
Posted on Saturday 19th February 2022

On March 11th, London based composer, sound designer and recording artist CJ Mirra releases the OST to IFC Midnight and Hanway Film's A Banquet, which premieres at Cinemas on the same date. A limited run of Pea Green vinyl will be available via Burning Witches Records .

A Banquet is a visually arresting, slow-burning psychological horror that uses subtle supernatural elements to create tension within a family in the midst of a breakdown, exploiting the complicated bond between three generations of mothers and daughters. Variety likens it to Lars Von Tries' Melancholia and Jeff Nichol's Take Shelter. A Banquet sees composer CJ Mirra reunite with...

Horror Channel announces Killer Thriller week for March
Posted on Tuesday 15th February 2022
Killer THriller Week

Horror Channel turns up the tension in March with Killer Thriller Week, featuring the UK premiere of mystery thriller Paradise Cove, staring Mena Suvari and the channel premiere of cat-and-mouse road thriller Cop Car, starring Kevin Bacon. The ultimate 7-day suspense ride also includes Gus Van Sant's revival of the Hitchcock classic Psycho (1988), the 2014 version of erotic thriller The Loft starring Karl Urban, Colin Minihan's deliciously warped What Keeps You Alive, Rod Lurie's 2011 pulsating remake of Straw Dogs and Bad Samaritan, starring a cunningly murderous David Tennant.

Plus, there are four additional UK TV premieres, highlighted by the late Johnny Kevorkian's last fi...

Horror Channel announces raft of premieres for February
Posted on Thursday 13th January 2022
The Midnight Man - WEB1

February on Horror Channel keeps genre fans alive with the UK TV premiere of What Keeps You Alive - another suspenseful knife to the throat of 21st Century genre cinema from the deliciously warped mind of Colin Minihan, director of It Stains The Sand Red.

And expect more total shock and abject terror in the UK TV premiere of Paul Hyett's sinister sci-fi horror fantasy Peripheral. This twisted cross between Ex Machina and Videodrome boasts an astonishing performance from Hannah Arterton.

Plus, there are channel premieres for the gore-filled, stomach-churning zombie chiller Death Trench, Producer M. Night Shyamalan's claustrophobic supernatural thriller Devil, the...

Features Archive: 2022 | 2021 | 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007
Space: 1999
SPACE: 1999
Wednesday 29th June
7.00 PM
She Never Died
Wednesday 29th June
9.00 PM
Wednesday 29th June
10.50 PM