Sunday 26 January 2020


In 'Baby', the standout episode from Nigel Kneale's 1976 series of bestial horror, 'Beasts', we find newly relocated and expectant couple, Josephine (Jane Wymark) and Peter Gilkes (Simon MacCorkindale) unearthing a jar containing the desiccated remains of some strange creature that had been hidden in the wall of their cottage. Both Josephine and her cat Muddy - and anyone with an ounce of sense - can feel something wrong with the whole set up but her abusive, selfish and distracted husband, too enamoured with his new life as a country vet to pay any attention to his wife's worry, is disdainful and careless of the whole thing.

We love everything Kneale here at Wyrd Britain and this is no exception.  All the classic Kneale tropes are in play in a story where once more urban science and rural supernatural find themselves at odds as poor Josephine, caught in the middle, slowly gets subsumed by her fears for herself and her baby and the strange events that surround her.  Kneale's script and John Nelson Burton's direction build the tension beautifully but the final reveal when it comes shows far too much and as a result is a bit of an anticlimax but like with many things it's the journey that makes the experience worthwhile.

Buy it here - Beasts - The Complete Series [DVD] [1976] - or watch it below


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Monday 13 January 2020

The Ley of the Land

Wyrd Britain is a blog about stories, about the fictions we create around this odd little country some of us call home.  Stories about the thin places and the lost places, about stone circles and ancient woodlands, about rabbit holes and hills of dreams, about time travellers, triffids, suddenly appearing shopkeepers and whatever it was that Charlie said.

So, when we decided to launch a label we wanted to release music that also told stories,  music with a narrative and a sense of the mysterious that would be at home within the occult territories of a stranger Britain.

The British Space Group is the most recent project of Welsh musician Ian Holloway and this, his third under that name, follows on from the acclaimed 'Eyes Turned Skyward' and the radiophonic miniatures of 'Phantasmagoria'.  This latest album continues the hauntologically inclined electronica of those albums but combines it with the dark, post-industrial ambience of the albums he's released under his own name over the last two decades on labels such as Quiet World.

'The Ley of the Land' tells a subtle story; one of dark nights and disembodied voices.  It tells of a haunted moment and gives a time stretched glimpse behind the curtain into an enigmatic and uneasy other here.

'The Ley of the Land' is available for download or as a limited edition CDr by clicking on the player below.


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Sunday 12 January 2020

The Gourmet

Charles Grey in The Gourmet
Charles Gray, who many will know as both Blofeld to Sean Connery's Bond and Mycroft to Jeremy Brett's Sherlock Holmes, plays the magnificently named Manley Kingston a gastronome of international repute who has dedicated his life to sampling all the foods the world has to offer. 

In this story, written in the mid eighties (IMDB says 1984, BFI says 1987) by Nobel winner Kazuo Ishiguo, we find Manley on the verge of achieving his greatest wish and an end to his ennui; having tried and tired of everything within the natural world he at last turns his taste buds to the supernatural.

The script is subtle with any horror elements kept to an absolute minimum and what we have is an enthralling character study of greed and obsession and the mixed blessings of fulfilling ones fixations.  In a reflection of the times in which it was made we see the corpulent consumerism of Manley's existence in stark contrast to the poverty of many of those around him as he descends upon a church in the East End of London with the sole intent to inflict more damage and indignity on a deceased poor man of the parish whilst feeling absolutely no shame in admitting his actions to a homeless man (Mick Ford) who is essentially a modern day equivalent to that unfortunate.

Gray, almost never a leading man, dominates the screen here with his beautifully expressive face alive with ennui, haughty disdain and the foulest gluttony as he wanders through the world aloof from and all but oblivious to those around him, presumably his proclivities having reduced them to little more than cattle in his eyes.


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Wednesday 8 January 2020


Lavondyss - Robert Holdstock
Robert Holdstock
Orion Books

At the heart of the wildwood lies a place of mystery and legend, from which few return and none emerged unchanged: Lavondyss . . . the ultimate realm, the source of all myth.
When Harry Keeton disappeared into Ryhope Wood, his sister Tallis was just an infant. Now, thirteen years old, she hears him whispering to her from the Otherworld. He is in danger. He needs her help. Using masks, magic and clues left by her grandfather, she finds a way to enter the primitive forest and begin her search. Eventually she comes to Lavondyss itself, a realm both beautiful and deadly, a place in which she is changed forever.

Following on from the glorious 'Mythago Wood' the second book in the Ryhope Wood cycle takes a slightly different tack to it's predecessor.

Beginning shortly after the departure, in book one, of Harry Keeton into the depths of Ryhope Wood we here have the story of his little sister 'Tallis' and her quest to find and help him escape from it's confines.  In this she is aided by both the masks and the mythagos she creates along the way in a story that spans her entire life.

This time out Holdstock seems more interested in the role of place and landscape in myth and legend than he does in those that populate it.  Many of the characters and places are crude and at times bestial and here magic is at it's most primal, found literally within their bones, their twigs and their stones.

Life in the wood, as befits a realm made from the mythic collective unconscious of a nation, is tumultuous and brutish but in Tallis we have a guide whose understanding of the realm is instinctive having lived her entire life in it's shadow and it's very substance.

As a sequel Lavondyss is an odd sort of creation that takes two points from it's forebear and weaves them into it's narrative but I think considering it as a sequel does it an injustice. Lavondyss is a book almost entirely unto itself that tells a different sort of story and does so in a manner that is every bit as awe-inspiring as it's - let's call it a - companion volume.

But it here - Lavondyss


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Sunday 5 January 2020


'Dorabella' was the final episode of the 1977 BBC series 'Supernatural' that consisted of eight episodes of gothic horror that harked back to the classic horrors of the 1930s but to my eyes more closely resemble the gothic delights produced by the Hammer Studio in the early 1970s. Each episode featured a prospective member of the 'Club of the Damned' as they made their case for admittance by telling a terrifying true story of their encounters with the supernatural.

Written By Robert Muller (who wrote 7 of the 8 episodes) 'Dorabella' tells the story of an enchanting vampire and of the two young men who have fallen for her charms as they follow her across the country, for the most part ignoring the carnage left in her wake.

Like the other episodes from the series that we've featured in these pages the episode is beautifully produced but suffers from a slightly histrionic script and features a cast with a penchant for leaving teeth marks in the scenery. Ania Marson does make for a suitably bewitching lead though at times positively oozing malice and this is one of the better episodes of a series generally regarded as a bit of a noble flop.

Buy it here - Supernatural (2-disc DVD set) - or watch it below.


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