The Dalekboy welcomes you!


G’day, I’m Danny Oz [1], and I’ve been a science fiction fan since I was a small child. In fact, I’m still a small child, only I’m 46 now.  I’m one of the people who started Melbourne’s annual science fiction convention, Continuum.

I’ve also received Ditmar and ASFMA awards for various things, as well as a couple of Gold Plated Caterpillars (for being a ratbag), The Silver Swan, and most recently the A. Bertram Chandler Award.  It’s genuinely humbling, and confusing, that people thought I was worthy of those last two.

Below the cut is links to topics I’ve written about that you might wish to check out.  I write a lot about my first love, Doctor Who, but there is other stuff as well, usually related to science fiction and horror. To see other stuff I’ve written about you can go to my infrequently updated Livejournal, or follow me on Twitter.

Links to topics and categories below the cut.  Continue reading

Z and L do the Who 01 – Unearthly Child to Marco Polo


Marco Polo – human drama wins!

Minor spoilers for Edge of Destruction in the main text and major spoilers in the footnote.

So the kids and I have been running through Doctor Who from the very beginning, one episode a day, and they are loving it!  They’re totally involved in the episodes, getting scared, laughing, occasionally yelling, “That’s so cool!” and “Argh! No! What’s going to happen?!”

Interestingly, today I asked my son which of the first four stories he liked least and most. Edge of Destruction was his least favourite, but his top pick was Marco Polo. We had watched a fan reconstruction of it that used the original audio and still photos. I had very deliberately not told him what I thought of any of the stories before asking his opinion, so as not to influence his judgement.

I personally think Marco Polo is one of the best written Doctor who stories of all time. What I found interesting was that my seven year old son liked it even more than the first Dalek story, The Dead Planet. His main reason for Polo being his top pick was that it was nice to have the TARDIS crew up against humans and not monsters.

What I find even more interesting is that he rated the story so highly even though it had no moving images. It suggests that the story was good enough to reach him on some level regardless of any ‘issues’ with the presentation. Certainly I rate Marco Polo as highly as I do because it’s a wonderful character piece, wrapped in some pretty solid storytelling. It’s a prime example of it not mattering if the outcome is obvious if the journey the audience is taken on is a good one.

Even more interesting was that he rated another monsterless story so low. His main reason being it was a bit too weird and creepy. Fair comment with everyone acting out-of-sorts in the first half.

I think it can be argued that portions of the drama in Edge don’t work because the main cast is out of character for a chunk of it. They aren’t acting like the people we know, so it’s hard to relate to them. And while I don’t mind the reveal of the problem and the resolution [1], it can’t help but feel like an unsatisfactory ending.

For the record, my five-year old daughter’s picks were Edge of Destruction for least fav, and Unearthly Child for most. Her main reason for placing Child so highly was she liked the trick with the flaming skulls in the last episode. Her reason for disliking Edge was… she found the melted clock face creepy.


Edge of Destruction – Melted clocks are scary!

I hadn’t planned on writing these up, but my son’s reactions today made me want to share his thoughts.  That’s nothing against my daughter, of course, but being a bit younger her likes and dislikes tend to be more with what visually sticks with her – like flaming skulls and clocks.

What I’ll say in favour of Edge of Destruction was after the first part they were full of theories as to what might be going on.  It was their main topic of conversation up until we watched part two.  They both enjoyed the second part, but it seems to have lost something in hindsight.

What I found intriguing was that neither of them talked much about Dead Planet.  It has some really great visuals, and they certainly reacted strongly to the drama happening throughout, but it hasn’t stayed with them in the same way.  They enjoyed it at the time, and I thought about mentioning that, but decided that it might make them want to change their initial decisions, and seeing what stayed with them is far more interesting.

S01E09 The Expedition.mp4_snapshot_07.55_[2015.09.21_23.40.49]


For the record, today we watched the last episode of The Keys of Marinus, so my kids had a little distance from Marco Polo before I asked their thoughts on the previous stories.  Can’t wait to see how they react to episode one of The Aztecs tomorrow.

Yay! I get to start one of my favourite stories on my birthday, and share it with my kids!

Best. Present. Ever!






1. It was 1963 people!  That resolution is perfectly acceptable for what was going on in TV at the time.  Space travel was all about the technical issues, the stuff that could go wrong.  This was a prime example of one little glitch and everybody dies.

Its biggest problem is that the paranoia built up in the first episode, with ideas about something getting into the ship and hiding in one of them, is far more scary and exciting.  If the crew had been reacting to some sort of unknown technical problem from the outset, and the stress had started them at each other’s throats, I think that it may have held up better.


Back again, I hope

Sorry for the long absence. Had a few exceptionally rough months (albeit with a couple of lovely high points, including four weeks worth of travel, and my wife and I being guests of honour at Continuum 10) which have kept me out of the picture.

Hoping to get posting regularly-ish again, and to finish my articles on The Moffat Master Plan before the new series starts.

One thing that gives me hope for the new series are interviews with Peter Capaldi, where it’s made clear he has put his foot down with regards to certain aspects of how the show deals with the Doctor. Will it be enough? I don’t know but I always hope for the best.


Marebito – 7/10


Marebito is a surreal, and literate, little film. It’s also really bloody hard to describe.  One’s never quite sure what the true reality of the situation is meant to be. Mythology, science fiction history, mental health – the film touches on a variety of subjects as it explores its narrative.

It’s a movie I should have found irritating in the non-focused way it approaches its ideas, but instead I found things to be quite the opposite. It made me curious as to what the answers were, and the fact that it kept giving me different possibilities actually worked for it instead of against it. So many films will throw out multiple possibilities in an effort to appear clever. This was a film that I genuinely believed to be a bit clever, and to have more than a passing knowledge of the material it was referencing.

It has its nasty moments, but those are less the point than the strangeness of the world the main character inhabits, and our changing ideas as to what is happening and why. I get that it could be cosmic horror, but it could also be a tale of madness, of mythology intruding into the real world, of prophecy…

I can see that it wouldn’t work for some folks, but for me it was intriguing right to the end, and is one I shall certainly rewatch at some point.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

Godzilla (1954)


Recently I rewatched the original Godzilla film a couple of times. Once with my kids, where I had to read out the subtitles to them, and the other after I’d listened to the Godzilla episode of the Skiffy and Fanty Show. The podcast gave me a fresh appreciation for various aspects of the film including various influences of Japanese culture and history of which I was previously unaware.

So I think it meant that on the most recent rewatch I was simply more aware of everything than I had been previously, picking up on elements and aspects of the film that I hadn’t spotted on other viewings. I doubt there’s anything new here for the many kaiju fans who of course have a much better understanding and appreciation of the film than myself, but for the more casual viewer, you might find some of this of interest.

Out of necessity, there are major spoilers about most of the important beats of the film within this article, so if you haven’t seen Godzilla, you may wish to watch it first so you can get its full effect without knowing all the surprises. Continue reading

Witch Hunt

Witch Hunt – 6/10

I’ve included Witch Hunt in the Cosmic Horror list only because of its relation to Cast a Deadly Spell. Witch Hunt is in no way Cosmic Horror.

Witch Hunt

An indirect sequel to Cast a Deadly Spell, it’s stronger in some ways than the original, but has flaws that can’t help but damage it.

I call it an indirect sequel because, while it has some of the same characters – Private Detective Phillip Lovecraft, and licensed witch Hypolyta Kropotkin – there are a few small changes to Lovecraft’s motivations and the like. But nothing important.

The story is set in the 1950’s, and presents us with a McCarthy-istic Senator hell-bent on ridding America of magic. As with the first film, a lot of fun is had with the ideas and concepts of a world in which magic is an everyday thing which almost everybody uses.

Lovecraft is played by Dennis Hopper, who isn’t quite sure what to do with the role. Hopper talked about the film as being the strangest he had ever done, and at times he looks a little out of place, but still puts in an okay performance, with small highlights here and there.

Except for his voiceover.

Over the years I have heard many people complain about Harrison Ford’s voiceover in Blade Runner, saying it was lacklustre and awful. Personally I never had a problem with it. However Hopper’s narration for Witch Hunt is dreadful. He sounds like he’s reading the world’s most boring book.

Sheryl Lee Ralph does a fabulous job as Hypolita Kropotkin, Lovecraft’s friend and landlord. Penelope Ann Miller is also well cast as Kim Hudson, who hires Lovecraft to look into her husband’s affairs. Eric Bogosian is mostly good as anti-magic Senator Larson Crockett, while Julian Sands is only okay as Finn Macha, mostly due to giving us an Irish accent that is almost indecipherable. Sands’ acting is fine, just hard to appreciate.

Most of the film is quite fun and watchable, but where it really falls down are the resolutions of its main and subplots. It really is going along quite well, building tension, giving us reasonable character motivations, and holding together okay, and then it drops the ball disastrously. Neither ending makes sense or works well, and certainly the resolution to the main plot is so awful as to be nonsensical. The writing there is seriously flawed in its logic, creating a situation that realistically should have made things worse, not better.

However, I wanted to finish on the film’s most positive aspect – its dialogue. There are some fabulous lines peppered throughout the story. Great moments like the actress Kim Hudson telling Lovecraft you’d ‘have to be as dumb as I look,’ not to realise what was going on. Or the couple of times Lovecraft gives a would-be tough guy his comeuppance. Those moments sing. The actors know they have a great line, and usually deliver it beautifully.

There’s a greater use of computer graphics this time around, but they are still used sparingly and to good effect. The direction in general varies. It’s mostly quite good, but there a couple of moments where things aren’t as clear as they should be.

Like Cast a Deadly Spell, it’s a fun watch. Yes, it has some serious flaws that hurt it, but most of the film is enjoyable and is definitely worth a look. I really wish HBO had done more films in the universe.





For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

Cast a Deadly Spell

Cast a Deadly Spell – 8/10

Cast a deadly spell

Sorry for a long absence, was down with a nasty virus, but I’m getting back to normal at long last.

So, Cast A Deadly Spell…

It’s 1948, magic is commonplace, and private detective Phillip Lovecraft is seemingly the only person who not interested in using magic for all manner of things.

The film is as much fun as it sounds. In fact it gets an extra point just for the fact it does have fun with the core concept, whilst staying a reasonable detective story. The only cosmic horror angle here is really some stuff to do with the The Great Old Ones, but who cares? It’s an enjoyable watch.

It also has a solid cast of character actors all doing a great job – Fred Ward, David Warner, Julianne Moore, Clancy Brown – play their parts as they should given the subject matter. And being a made for TV film from the early 90’s, most of the special effects are practical in nature, so while they may not be superbly flashy, they tell the story and never seem out of place because most of what you see is really there.

It’s not a perfect film, but it is enjoyable, and quite watchable.




For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.

The Beyond

The Beyond – 5/10

BEYOND, THE - Silver Ferox Design v1 web

The second of Lucio Fulci’s ‘Gates of Hell’ trilogy is… kinda so-so. The things I found to be strengths or at least evocative in his film City of the Living Dead don’t seem to work here. Apparently his was aiming for more of a dreamlike logic to this one, but it actually seems less surreal than the previous film.

There is plenty of gore for the gore fans, albeit 1980s low budget, and mostly to do with hurting eyeballs, though I think that was a conscious choice as sight seems to be important in this one.

Look, it wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t very good either. It has nifty ideas and some interesting horror moments, but mostly didn’t work for me. Having read a lot about what Fulci was supposedly attempting with this movie it might hold up better on a rewatch, but I’m not sure I could be arsed.



For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.


Absentia – 9/10

Absentia poster

Absentia is a low budget, crowd-funded film that is a fabulous watch. A woman tries to get on with her life after her husband vanished many years before. But he’s not the only one to have vanished in the area.

The film’s low budget works to its advantage. They don’t have the money for copious amounts of special effects and the like, and so it has to rely on story, characters, good lighting and camera work, and careful editing.

While it does have a couple of low-level, but really disturbing, gore moments, it really pulls off its chills by eliciting actual feelings of dread and tension. It’s also the first cosmic horror that I’ve watched with an ending I thought suited the movie and made a kind of sense. I’ll be buying this one.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.


Cthulhu – 7/10

Cthulhu Title

Another Lovecraft adaption/inspired piece, this one plays with the same tropes as Die, Monster, Die! but does a slightly better job of the alienation and paranoia factors. That said, it falls down in other ways.

The thing is, it’s not actually that memorable a film. It’s not bad. I wasn’t bored by it while I was watching, but it doesn’t linger in the mind. Probably the two most memorable scenes are the sex scene and the ending. The sex scene because it’s beautifully shot, the ending because it’s stark and a bit nasty.

There is one other element I have to mention because it stood out so much. There was only one cast member I recognised in this film. That’s not a bad thing by any means, I’m all for little or unknown cast members. But this lady was terrible. The unknowns around her were giving better performances. And every time she cropped up, I’d be thinking two things – God she looks familiar, and bloody hell she’s awful. Fortunately she’s not actually in it very much at all.

Finally I got to the end credits and there was her name… Tori Spelling.

For links to the list of other cosmic horror films I’ve been watching, go here.