Metal Gear profiles: Kenneth Baker

Kenneth Baker was the president of ARMSTECH, an arms company that had suffered losses due to getting overlooked for next-generation fighter jets and defense cuts.

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In order to cover for this losses, he figured he’d create something highly advanced, although as a “black project”-a certain Walking Battle tank with a nuclear payload that had previously been involved with the mercenary warlord Big Boss-The ultimate weapon, Metal Gear. To that end, he bribed DARPA Chief (and Cipher/Patriots member) Donald Anderson, into keeping everything hush-hush (Donald Anderson himself was aware of the concept of a Metal Gear since the 60s, where he served as SIGINT during Operation Snake Eater, although back then, he initially balked at the concept of a Walking Tank with legs).

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One of Baker’s employees, Hal “Otacon” Emmerich, was one of the chief designers for the project, perhaps because his father, Huey Emmerich, had developed the Metal gear concept with the Peace Walker, ZEKE, and Sehelanthropus-although Hal seemed unaware of how his work would be used.

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Baker and Anderson then visited the main development site of the REX-Shadow Moses Island. However, they happened to be there when FOXHOUND rebelled, and Baker was taken hostage, although he managed to pass a PAL disc to Meryl Silverburgh (Which would eventually pass to Solid Snake, and unwittingly *also* activate the Metal Gear).

Baker was then tied to several C4 explosives, perhaps as a kind of sadistic torture by Revolver Ocelot. When Ocelot confronted Solid Snake, Snake had to manuever very carefully to avoid setting them off and killing Baker.

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By the end of the fight, Grey Fox-the Cyborg Ninja-arrived before Ocelot triggered the C4, freeing Baker and slicing off Ocelot’s hand (but that’s another story).

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Snake and Baker then had a chit-chat, where he informed Snake about his reasons for building the Metal Gear, as well as his knowledge about the Cyborg ninja product. He also hinted about the nature of Metal Gear’s nuke…and why it needed to be a black project. However, then he violently suffered a heart attack, the result of the FOXDIE virus.

 

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Film in Review: Poltergeist Part IV

With the house “clean”, the Freelings pretty much want to clean house-as in get the heck out of the neighborhood, although they have to stay at least one more night in the house until things are ready. It’s unclear where they’re intended to move to right away.

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(Although I presume it’s the grandmother’s house from the sequel)….

 

 

Dana and Robbie now return as well, as everybody’s convinced the danger’s over…although they intend to spend at least some time at the Holiday Inn, which Dana seems to know quite well, getting a bit of a “what?!” reaction from her mother, but Dana quickly changes the subject to Diane’s new partially white hair ( a side effect of her trip to “The other side”), with Diane asking if it looks ‘punk’. There’s a bit of a comic moment as Steve trips over Robbie’s bike, saying that it nearly kills him. Guy just stared a monster skull in the face and that’s what he’s worried about? Then again, the ghosts seem particularly more interested in kidnapping and scaring people than killing them (in fact, out of all the films, the third one is the only one with a body count).

 

 

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And no, I’m not going to bring up the “curse”….anyway, there’s a nice moment between Steve and Diane, where they talk about how hard they worked for the house, and “many beautiful memories”. Although I’m pretty sure the last few days haven’t exactly been among those good memories. Also regarding memories, they remark that Carol Anne doesn’t seem to have any memories of getting stuck in the ghost dimension.

 

After Robbie and Carol Anne go to bed-in the same crazy room from earlier-while Diane tries to die her hair again. Robbie notices the creepy clown is still there, but after all they’ve been through-the tree, Carol Anne in the TV, etc. he isn’t really scared any more.

 

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He should have been, as the clown vanishes from the chair and then proceeds to grab him and drag him under the bed-presumably doing what the tree did earlier, to distract every one else from a capture attempt for Carol Anne. Also, is it just me or does the clown’s face look somewhat more malevolent all of a sudden? Maybe it’s just the lighting.

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The clown is one of the most notable moments from Poltergeist that’s imprinted itself on pop culture, along with the TV/”They’re here!”, the “curse” (Which, once again, I’d rather not get into), and Reverend Kane from the sequels. It also was one of the main advertisements fro the 2015 remake, which I’ve read is not that good.

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Of course Diane doesn’t realize things are going crazy because she’s drying her freshly dyed hair.

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The scene reminds me of one of my other interests-Doctor Who-there’s a scene in the pilot of the 2005 revival of Doctor Who, “Rose”, where an Auton arm is attacking the Doctor and Rose while Rose’s mother, Jackie, dries her hair. (although the clown is somewhat more effective, given that Eccleston is obviously just manipulating the arm by itself-hey, it was early days for the new Who!)

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However, as she lies in bed, she suddenly hear Robbie’s screams,  but the ghosts decide to distract her by lifting her up to the ceiling, a special effect that apparently used a rotating set.

 

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Although she eventually makes her way back to the floor, the Beast isn’t out of tricks just yet-although Robbie manages to win his battle against the clown, ripping the stuffing out of the demonic doll.

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Here, Diane confronts the Beast, which seems to be manifesting itself in front of their room, as what appears to be a long-limbed  hairy skeleton creature that roars like a lion.

Diane is obviously frightened out of her wits but is still defiant. “NO, DON’T TOUCH MY BABIES!!!” In response, it electrifies the stairwell, and Diane ends up falling back into the swimming pool….

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Meanwhile, the closet makes another attempt to grab Carol Anne (and possibly Robbie too). This time, it isn’t bothering with opening the door, instead it’s melted itself a gooey, hellish portal complete with tentacle. Yikes.

 

 

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Diane falls into the muddy pool, and to her horror there are skeletons in various states of decay. There’s a bit of a saying that these were actual skeletons, and hence the film really was haunted because of it. However, in the context of the film, the reality of what’s going on with this house is starting to literally sink in.

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The scene is slightly similar to Spielberg’s film released the previous year, Raiders of the Lost Ark, where after Indiana Jones smashes a way out of the “Well of the souls”, Marion finds herself temporarily stuck in an antechamber before Indy finds a way out (conveniently, right next to the airstrip).

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And poor Jobeth Williams would have to go through something similar again in the sequel, although at least some of those guys seemed to be just people in costumes.

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Diane is rescued by the jerk neighbors from earlier, who don’t ask why Diane is in a swimming pool filled with dead bodies.

Diane than makes attempt #2 but the ghosts now are either actually stretching out the house’s dimensions, warping reality, or just her perceptions as the hall starts to grow longer. However, she’s able to make it to the kids (with some nice heroic music from Jerry Goldsmith)and get them out just in time..

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But still things are going completely bonkers, with lights flashing everywhere, and now coffins popping out of the ground-in front of the door, the kitchen, etc….

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Steve arrives with Teague, and after spotting one of the coffins blocking Diane and the kid’s escape, hysterically confronts his boss with this great qoute:

“You bastard, you moved the cemetery……but you left the bodies, didn’t you?

You son-of-a-bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones! You only moved the headstones! Why? Why?”

Diane and the kids manage to escape, although Steve has some trouble getting his keys and the craziness is spreading to the rest of the neighborhood, with pipes bursting with water and fire….

Dana also arrives at the same time, and of course says the iconic (and memed)  quote:

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They back up and pick her up, and as they drive away, we see Teague-who briefly gets hit by one of the spirit thingys which hit Tangina earlier-watch as the house gets sucked in to a vortex (presumably the gateway through the closet)….and probably realizes he’s going his real estate business is pretty bankrupt now.

 

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This is sort of his other Mayor Vaughn moment, as he realizes what he’s done-although at least Vaughn sort of got humbled and finally helped Brody hire Quint….and in Teaque’s defense, he didn’t know there’d be angry ghosts and a demon tormenting the Freelings, although what he did was still unethical and cheap.

 

 

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There’s also a bit of a kind of tongue-in cheek focus on a neighborhood sign as the family leaves. I’ve noticed Spielberg tends to use a great deal of signs as storytelling tools…

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There’s of course this:

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….and who can forget this (Which also serves in a way as an “endnote” to the film).

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The incredibly tired and traumatized Freelings then make their way to the holiday inn.

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There’s also a show at the Inn noted on the sign, “Dr. Fantasy”. Dr. Fantasy is actually the nickname of Spielberg’s longtime collaborator Frank Marshall, who does an ocassional stage act on stage and off, sometimes during the film’s production. (That’s Ke Huay Quan from “Temple of Doom” and “Goonies” on the left there BTW).

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After they enter, Steve rolls the TV out (This is another thing that slightly dates the movie-I’m pretty sure nowadays Hotel TVs are fixed)

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The movie then closes to Carol Anne’s theme, although as the credits wrap up, we’re treated to some laughter which sounds a little disconcerting…

 

Poltergeist, overall, is a great 80’s film (although one that’s a bit dated due to it’s many cultural touchstones) that, although not directed by Spielberg, definetly feels like Spielberg, in what is pretty much his creative peak-the same early 80’s that also gave us Indiana Jones and E.T, as well as Spielberg produced films like Gremlins, Goonies, and Back to the Future (Although those last three-although definitely having the mark of Spielbeg-seem a great more distinct, and the directors were already established, or continue to develop films-Zemeckis (Back to the Future) in particular-whereas Tobe mainly seemed to stick to low budget horror and TV productions, including another Texas Chainsaw Massacre film. His most notable other film is perhaps “Lifeforce”, which basically mixes the derelict ship with something nasty on board premise from “Alien” and “The Thing” with “Doctor Who” and “Quartermass” style British horror, and with sexy space vampires as well.

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The Walking Dead-The road ahead (season 9)

 

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While some of my predictions about this season of Walking Dead didn’t exactly pan out, apart from guessing that the Savior leadership would eventually kind of crumble (as it pretty much did in “Worth and “Wrath”). Like the season’s opening and closing titles both stated, Rick’s “mercy” overcame his “wrath” and he spared Negan, although he’s kept him imprisoned. This actually fits in well with the comics.

 

 

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The comic’s next arc is “The Whisperer War”, where the group battles a nasty new enemy, the Whisperers, who take the Walker camo trick used by the characters to a nasty new level-they pretty much wear them entirely, allowing them to blend in much better than just a bit of blood & guts. Despite a few allusions to such an arc and some fan speculation, there hasn’t been any major confirmation that these guys are the next villains. Also, the original storyline involved a lot of Carl, but for obvious reasons that part of it isn’t going to happen.

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A few hints have been dropped as to what’s coming.

The helicopter. While there’s been plenty of helicopters in the series, they’ve mostly been grounded or already destroyed. Curiously, a helicopter appeared in season 1 and 2 in Atlanta (and possibly might’ve unintentionally led the walkers out of the city and into more of the large ‘herds’ that frequently threaten the heroes). Another appeared in season 3, but it crashed and was scavenged by the Woodbury group. In season 8, Rick spots the helicopter. Simon says there’s a helipad near the junkyard for some reason, and later, the helicopter appears again, hovering very closely over Jadis and Negan, with Jadis trying to get it’s attention with a flare.

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There’s some speculation that this helicopter might have something to do with the mysterious Georgie, who dropped off some supplies-including a book on how to help rebuild civilization-with Maggie.

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Some wonder if she has something to do with the Current TWD comic storyline, in which Michionne and the others discover a settlement which is heavily self-sufficient and populated-much more so than even their communities (which were a cut above places like the prison and Hershel’s farm, but still far from perfectly safe, supplied, and advanced).

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Another thing is the current alliance between the communities and the Saviors. While Dwight of course defected first and was let go by Daryl to look for his wife, the other Savior survivors seem to have settled into peace with the crew. Eugene seems to be welcomed back as it seems he was kind of ‘playing an angle’ after all, and other characters such as Amber, Tanya and Frankie were largely working for the Saviors against their will,but one of the most earnest ex-Saviors seem to be Alden, who seems interested in working with Maggie. It’s kind of going to be curious how things develop between the two….

Although one of the other people spared is Laura, who seemed to be a bit more sadistic and unstable, but at the end she’s planting crops and nodding to Rosita like nothing happened.

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And what of Arat, who killed Lydia and gave Rosita her cheek scar? She didn’t appear in the final episode at all….

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….and speaking of Maggie, she obviously isn’t too happy Rick spared Negan, the killer of her husband. Despite her being OK with the Saviors she imprisoned switching sides, she isn’t too fond of the leader himself for obvious reasons.

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Maggie seems to be plotting with Jesus and Daryl against Rick. This is really one of the first times we’ve seen Maggie go against Rick. She was the one who pretty much convinced Hershel to welcome Rick and his group to the farm in the first place (and of course she met her future husband that way).

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Rick and Daryl’s relationship, once brotherly, seems to have taken some bad turns this season as well, with Daryl pretty much wanting to really hurt the Saviors (including Dwight who he never fully trusted) for what they’ve done and his humiliation by them…even killing former long-lost ally turned Savior Morales…

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with Rick seemingly willing to take a somewhat more balanced approach (which of course culminated in his sparing Negan, although part of that was Carl’s urging him to be “the good cop” again) leading to a violent tussle between the two for a brief bit.

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So perhaps a “Civil War” of some sort is on the horizon.

….and of course in TWD, there’s the ever-present threat: The Walking Dead themselves. On the hill before the final battle, Rick and crew spot a herd, the largest Rick and co. have ever seen.

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Another super-herd- initially stuck in a quarry but finding it’s way out-appeared in the first half of TWD’s sixth season-one that led to many deaths(and of course there’s the Wolves which caused a huge problem too) although at that point Rick only had the backing of a poorly-defended Alexandria (although arguably the town is in far worse shape now after the mid-season attack) and not the strength of the extra communities.

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With Morgan off to “Fear the Walking dead”, there’s certainly a lot of possibilities open for the band of survivors. A new enemy? A new Ally? Civil War? The Saviors becoming a threat again if Negan gets loose? Sort of wait and see I guess….as I stated at the beginning of the article, not all predictions always turn out well, and the death of Carl was a shock to many.

Film in Review-Poltergeist Part III

Dr. Lesh examines the watches the ghosts dumped in the living room, observing that they’re from different eras-from a century or so ago to within the last decade. She says that Marty won’t be coming back-can we blame him-but that Ryan will stick around while she takes the tapes to the lab, and try to get some extra help. The Freelings ask that the tapes aren’t displayed on 60s minutes-or “That’s incredible”….something else which dates the film. “That’s incredible” was a 1980-1984 TV series that featured a bunch of live acts and videos-basically an “America’s Got Talent” from the 80’s. It also featured some paranormal segments as well, so I guess it also superseded “Unsolved Mysteries” as well.

 

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In the next scene, we meet Lewis Teaque, Steve’s real estate boss and kind of all around greedy guy. There’s a bit of fun here as Steve tries to steer his boss away from the ghost’s mischievousness, moving furniture around and making the lights too bright. He’s wondering, due to the ghost-hunting TVs and recorders, if Steve isn’t moonlighting, although Steve explains he’s had a bad flu (Which is kind of convincing, considering he hasn’t had sleep for days and pretty much looks kind of ill).

Teague is played by James Karen,  who as far as 80’s horror goes, has also appeared in the cult “Return of the Living Dead” series, a sort of horror-comedy take on George Romero’s zombie franchise as two separate characters. His actions in those films also unearth some nasty undead ghouls.

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In a way he’s a bit similar to Larry Vaughn, the greedy mayor of Amity in Jaws who downplays the threat of the Shark and in turn makes things worse by refusing to close the beaches. Although in Teague’s defense, he didn’t really know his actions would lead to angry, kidnapping ghosts, whereas Larry pretty much was aware of a problem from the first victim, although he quickly considered the matter closed when a Tiger shark was found (and said it only “injured” some people), and only relented after the real Shark showed up again.

 

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After a brief bit with Diane checking in briefly on the haunted bedroom, we cut back to Steve and Teague overlooking the whole neighborhood area….and a cemetery at the very top (realized I believe via a matte painting). Teague offers to promote Steve (as he seems a bit suspicious of why he’s been missing work lately) and give him a new house in the new phase of Casta Verde…..where this cemetery now stands.

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Steve says it’s a bit sacrilegious, but Teague brushes him off, saying it’s not an Indian burial ground (This line, and some stuff from the sequel, seems to have created a bit of a common misconception about the source of the hauntings). It seems to have gotten mixed in with the trope also used in a lot of other “haunted house” movies as well, Amityville, Shining etc….

….and now we have a possible explanation for the hauntings too. Teague tells Steve that his original home was also built on a cemetery, although the headstones and bodies were moved “five minutes away”.  Steve was unaware of this, and you can kind of see the gears in his head working a bit….

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Now we get one of the film’s most signature characters-and the only other character, apart from the ghosts and Carol Anne, who appears in both sequels: Tangina! Along with the TV/”They’re here!” and Kane, she seems to be one of the major things people remember from the series.

Tangina, is a sort of psychic who helps “clean” houses of ghosts, brought in by Dr. Lesh. Steve is highly skeptical, calling her a “Knott’s berry farm solution”

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Looking it up, Knott’s is a long-running amusement park in southern California.

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Tangina is played by Zelda Rubenstein, who as mentioned appeared in the sequels (and a TV series with nothing really in common but the name-although it apparently was a licensed spin-off, although she played a similar character). She also appeared in numerous sitcoms and soap operas, her most famous other role perhaps being in Picket Fences as secretary Ginny Weedon.

Steve goofs around a bit, trying to make her read his mind…and Tangina doesn’t answer because she ‘doesn’t like trick questions’ which seems to convince Steve.

Tangina then says some classic lines, including “This house has many hearts” after Dr. Lesh indicates that the bedroom is the heart of the phenomenon.

 

There is no death. lt is only a transition to a different sphere of consciousness.Carol Anne is not like those she’s with.She is a living presence in their spiritual, earthbound plane.They’re attracted to the one thing about her….that is different from themselves:her life force.lt is very strong. lt gives off its own illumination. lt is a light that implies life…and memory of love and home…and earthly pleasures…something they desperately desire but can’t have anymore.Right now, she’s the closest thing to that..and that is a terrible distraction…from the real light…that has finally come for them.Do you understand me?These souls, who, for whatever reason…are not at rest…are also not aware that they have passed on.They’re not part of consciousness as we know it.They linger in a perpetual dream state…a nightmare from which they cannot awake. lnside this spectral light…is salvation.A window to the next plane.They must pass through this membrane. where friends are waiting to guide them to new destinies.Carol Anne must help them cross over.And she will only hear her mother’s voice. Now.hold onto yourselves.There’s one more thing.A terrible presence is in there with her.So much rage, so much betrayal. l’ve never sensed anything like it.l don’t know what hovers over this house…but it was strong enough to punch a hole into this world…and take your daughter away from you.

lt keeps Carol Anne very close to it…and away from the spectral light.

 

lt lies to her. lt says things only a child can understand.l t has been using her

to restrain the others.To her…it simply is another child.

To us…it is the beast.

Now let’s go get your daughter.”

So basically, these ghosts are sort of stuck in a form of spiritual limbo, with this entity-The Beast-keeping them in there for some reason.

The “beast”-appearing later in the film-is given a bit more of an explanation in the sequels,  revealing that was in fact once a human, a doomsday prophet named Kane. Some feel that-despite Kane’s own spookiness in the sequel, giving it a bit of a cult following-that it wasn’t really something that needed to be elaborated on. There were hopes, perhaps, for Poltergeist to become a long-running series with Kane as a sort of Mike Myers, Freddy or Jason type recurring villain, but Julian Beck’s own death, as well as Heather O’ Rourke’s and the general flopping of the third film, kind of ended that. (An attempt to revive the franchise was made in 2015 with a remake, but the film also slopped)

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Tangina starts getting ready a rescue attempt, using rope, handkerchiefs, tennis balls and running bath-water. The closet area is now all dark, with a crazy blue light show coming out of the closet. After coercing Carol Anne to go into the “light” to guide the ghosts to it, Lesh and Ryan use some the Tennis balls to ‘test’ the gate. Both tennis balls fall through the living room ceiling.

 

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With the ghosts distracted for the moment, Tangina gets ready to leap into rescue her, but Diane thinks she’s gotta be the one to do it. There’s a nice moment between Steve and Diane here as they kiss. Steve, meanwhile, holds the rope.

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While Lesh and Ryan wait downstairs, Steve holds the rope, but gets somewhat confused when Tangina tells the spirits to “go into the light” assuming he’s telling Carol Anne and Diane to do so….and the beast then realizes it’s been tricked, and lets it’s displeasure be known in a very visible way, as a nasty, rotting skull (Another hint, perhaps, to the nature of the ghosts).

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Gotta love Craig T. Nelson’s scream here. He really does look pretty terrified (This is one of the few times in the movie we actually “see” the ghosts-other times they’re just moving stuff around, really).

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He drops the rope, but thankfully Carol Anne and Diane emerge-although with maybe more of a rough landing than intended….and covered in red, nasty goo which I’m guessing is ectoplasm of some sort from the spiritual plane. Bill Murray suffers a similar fate in a comedy two years down the line….

 

 

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After reviving his wife and daughter, Steve relaxes, and Tangina-a bit disheveled by the Beast’s attack herself-fixes herself up for the camera and smugly states “This house is clean.”

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Nope Tangina. You’ve only made it a bit angrier…..(and Steve seems to have botched part of the exorcism anyway).

Next: Just when you thought it was safe….

 

 

 

Film in Review: Poltergeist Part 2

The evil tree proceeds to then attack Robbie by breaking through the bedroom window, in a largely horrific sequence in which the tree seems to try to eat him.

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However, the tree’s mainly a distraction, as it’s real aim is to kidnap Carol Anne. It does this through the closet, taking all the toys and posters in a sort of black hole effect. It succeeds, although the shot of Carol Anne being taken in is obviously a special effects dummy or something.

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Once the ghosts have Carol Anne, they lower their tree-grip on Robbie, although the roots do ensnare him briefly. It’s job of distraction all done, the tree gets sucked up by a localized tornado. Or maybe the Tornado was meant by the ghosts to convince everybody what happened to Robbie was just some weird freak of nature thing.

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So the tree’s kind of the film’s Poochy, more or less.

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Suddenly everybody realizes that Carol Anne isn’t present, and there’s a bit of a frantic search. They head into the closet area as well, and notice the room in terrible shape with everything clustered in the closet. Including what appears to be a prone body covered by blankets. Initially fearing to find Carol Anne’s body under the blankets, it’s only just the creepy clown. Poor Robbie is in terrible shock as well.

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He’s even more in shock later on, as the family searches the swimming pool, he notices’s Carol Anne’s voice coming from the TV. Gotta give credit to Oliver Robbins here, he does well as a kid who is freaked out of his mind.

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The action then shifts to a university, pretty much the only part of the film that isn’t in Casta Verde or the surrounding neighborhood/land apart from the Holiday Inn at the end. Steven Freeling rightfully looks like he’s seen a ghost, with dark circles under his eyes and a general unkempt look.

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It’s here we meet our three paranormal investigators, Dr. Lesh, Ryan, and Marty, who actually play a fairly sizable role in the film, even when one of them (Marty) is too freaked out and has to leave. Plus even at first they don’t dismiss Steve’s stuff out of hand, even when he says he didn’t go to the police. He doesn’t care about all the crazy stuff now going on, he just wants Carol Anne back from wherever the ghosts have taken her.

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Going back to the house, Ryan brags a bit about a slow-moving ghost he might’ve encountered before. As he opens the door to Carol Anne and Robbie’s room, maybe Steve should have given the budweiser he’s holding to Ryan, because if there’s ever a “Hold my beer” thing, it’s this one….as the room has gone crazy. Records are playing, books are ‘reading’ themselves, the Hulk is on a horse for some reason, a toy TIE fighter is flying around (apparently the ghosts know how to make horse sounds and TIE fighter sounds as well).

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Visibly shaken (as strange phenomenon continue to happen, much to the fascination of Ryan but freaking out pretty out others), Lesh tries to explain the difference between a haunting and a poltergeist (although as we see later it’s kind of both).

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The investigators then try to make contact with Carol Anne, which her parents are able to do via the static channel on the TV. But there’s a light, which Dr. Lesh fears will result in her ‘crossing over’ and not a good thing if they want her back. She also seems to be with some malevolent force, which roars like a lion and causes a heavy wind to blow through the room. However, Carol Anne’s presence is felt by Diane.

Meanwhile, Marty tries to find a more rational explanation-perhaps a transmitter from inside the house, perhaps from the kid’s room. However, when trying to get into the closet, he gets ‘bit’ by an unseen force. Dana, in the meantime, has had enough and wants to go to a friend’s house. The ghosts also drops some watches from various time periods from a portal in the ceiling, a kind of ‘hint’ as to their nature, once again.

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Despite being ‘bit’ Marty seems to seek a more rational explanation, suggesting some kind of humidity or electrical explanation. Ryan’s a bit more open-minded though, suggesting “outer space” (aliens?) or “inner space”. They also suggest the exit portal with the watches presumably has a way in (obviously the closet, but everybody’s still afraid to go in there).

Dr. Lesh has a nice heart to heart with Diane and Robbie about the afterlife and the possibilities, as well as admitting to this place being a bit out of her league. Robbie also proposes a plan to save Carol Anne by dying, which isn’t quite the solution, but he also thinks maybe he can have a rope tied to yank them back, which might…just…work…

Meanwhile, Marty (While Ryan sketches a female ghost at the bottom of the stairs) decides to grab a bite to eat, kind of shamelessly raiding the fridge. The ghosts decide to have a little fun with skeptical Marty, first exploding his steak, then covering his chicken leg with maggots, but they’ve saved the goriest bit for last…Marty goes into the bathroom to wash his face, and then seems to uncontrollably pull his face off, in one of the movie’s most disturbing effects. I’m hoping when I link this article to social media, this isn’t the thumbnail! (Btw that’s Steven Spielberg’s hands playing a sort of ventriloquist act on Marty’s obviously fake melting head.)

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However, it’s just a hallucination, and Marty’s OK, if a bit frightened out of his wits. As he rejoins the group in the living room, as a strange apparition forms at the top of the stairs, followed by many balls of light. It descends the stairs and then zaps up to the ceiling.

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There’s been some speculation on the nature of the ghost, that it’s some form of Carol Anne, that it’s perhaps a form of the beast, Ryan’s drawing realized, or an angel trying to lead the other ghosts (the globes) into the light but fails. Some have noticed it resembles the ghost/angel of death from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” although it’s face is far less defined.

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A video playback of the globes reveals vague faces…probably the same optical effects, as they all seem to be the same guy with a hat on. There’s a definite look of awe here, and Lesh seems to note they seem lonely (although you can’t really see their facial expressions). Robbie and Diane seems fascinated, but everybody’s kind of puzzled where all these ghosts are coming form….

Next: We get a big clue where they’re coming from…and we meet Tangina and the rescue of Carol Anne begins. But it’s not over yet….

Film in Review-Poltergeist Part One

The house looks just like the one next to it, and the one next to that, and the one next to that. A young couple live in it with their three children….and something more.

Its form is revealed, Its focus is clear and the games are over.

It knows what scares you.

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Poltergeist is one of the earliest films Spielberg served as producer, and not director, as well as co-writer. Like Goonies and Gremlins, released the following three years, it sort of muddies the lines between family-friendly adventure and horror; Gremlins, for all it’s cute Gizmo moments and Holiday cheer, as well as the Gremlins themselves being used somewhat for comic relief, there’s still a horror element to the movie-the Gremlins clearly kill several people (although at least one family believed to be dead in the first film-the Futtermans-survive into the second although their fate is a bit ambiguous in the first).

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Even Goonies, for all it’s Hardy Boys nature, has quite a few scares. Not only was there a recent victim of the Fratellis packed in one of the coolers of the restaurant hideout-which then proceeds to fall on the kids once they open it-but the caverns and traps leading to the Inferno have a few extra corpses-local treasure hunter Chester Copperpot, who got smashed by one of the traps in the 1930’s; and it seems like another pirate-or several-got made into a piano trap…and of course Willie’s own crew was extremely dead too.

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Then there’s Sloth’s appearence and unknown intentions at first., but he turns out to be one of the good guys.

 

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Poltergeist, like these, seems a bit family and PG friendly, but slips a bit more into the horror territory; while some of these ghosts and creatures appear benign at first, and there’s nice scenes of family and suburbia to begin with, things begin to take a dark turn about 45 minutes in.

 

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The film begins with the National anthem, as it concludes the broadcast day (something that doesn’t happen anymore), and we get a little bit of the family sleeping soundly, including Craig T. Nelson’s (Coach, The Incredibles, CSI:Ny) Steven, who was watching TV and fell asleep at the remote. As it fades to static, the youngest daughter Carrie Ann is drawn to the TV, and seems to be answering it, despite just static coming from it.

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In many ways, the character of Carrie Ann is similar to Barry from Close Encounters, although Carrie Ann soon seems far more horrified. At least the aliens in CE seem far more friendly, intelligent and benign, although they do cause a lot of hell for the humans that fail to understand their motives. The Poltergeists in “Poltergeist” however, seem to be largely confused and in part, under the control of the entity known as the Beast. (more on that later).

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After this subtly creepy intro, we cut to more of a sort of ‘day in the life’ scene that’s kind of what we’ve seen in a lot of Spielberg films. There’s a big guy kind of awkwardly bike riding with a ton of beers, who then gets pranked by some kids using their remote-control cars, causing him to drop the beers, many of which start to leak all over the place.

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He’s bringing them over-still leaking and half lost-to the Freeling house from earlier, where Steven and his friends are watching a football game. Also, upstairs, as the mother–Diane-is tending to the kid’s room, we have the film’s only real (current) casualty; Tweety, the bird. It’s unclear whether Tweety’s a victim of the ghosts somehow, or just happens to pass away some other way. In any case, he’s a bit of foreshadowing…

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Downstairs, the football game suddenly turns into Mr. Rogers. However, like Tweety, this isn’t really something out of the ordinary, but mainly the Freeling’s remote being on the same frequency as their neighbors.

It should be noted, that apart from Mr. Rogers, the film’s got a lot of 80’s pop culture in it-in Robbie and Carol Anne room alone, there’s a ton of Star Wars, Toys R Us, Sesame Street and even Alien memorabilia, in addition of course to that creepy clown doll.

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Meanwhile, Diane’s about to flush Tweety down the toilet but Carol Anne, catching her, insists on a proper burial and funeral in a cigar box. Although Diane’s teen daughter Diane, and son Robbie, aren’t really respectful at the funeral; elaborating in part why the ghost/beast choose Carol Anne-she seems perhaps somewhat more ‘pure of heart’ than her siblings and parents.

After buying Carol Anne some goldfish as a new pet, Diane puts the younger kids to sleep, although Robbie’s very wary of quite a few things-the massive tree that looks like it has a face outside, and the creepy clown doll of Carol Anne’s. He’ll have more reason to fear both by film’s end.

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But for now, a Chewbacca jacket is sufficient protection.

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We get a bit of goofiness with the parents, with Diane smoking some pot and musing a bit about Carol Anne’s sleepwalking and the potential danger (as they’re building a swimming pool out back) and Steve reading a Reagan book, as well as camping around with his gut, making a diving pose, and then talking in a Donald duck voice. It’s also worth noting the film that he’s watching is a guy named Joe, about a ghost pilot (Spielberg would later make a similar film, “Always”)

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However, Robbie interrupts them about the storm, and after some reassurances it isn’t quite enough and they have to stay in their room. However, the TV does the static thing again, and we get one of the few visual aspects of the ghosts- a bony hand, which appears to try to grab Carol Anne, before shooting over the Freeling’s bed and causing a hole in the wall-and an Earthquake.

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and of course the iconic line:

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The next day the swimming pool dig’s going on outside (overturning Tweety’s grave-a kind of subtle hint as to the true nature of these ghosts), with the kids in general messing around at the breakfast table, although weird things are now starting to happen; Robbie’s glass breaks on the bottom (Which ruins Dana’s homework), and his silverware gets bent. Carol Anne says she’s been talking to the “TV people”. Steve’s also trying to figure out where the “Earthquake” came from on the phone.

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Small note here, one of the guys who catcalls Diane outside (and gets the middle finger as a result) is Sonny Landham, also known for 48 Hours and most famously, Billy in Predator.

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Now, further weird things start to happen at the house. The dog reacts to the hole in the wall, acting as it’s telling him to do tricks…much like the TV talking to Carol Anne.

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And more visible, the chairs pulling themselves out and stacking within SECONDS, spooking the hell out of Diane. Diane begins their might be something to these “TV people” after all.

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After Steve-who works for the real estate company who created their neighborhood-and has plans for expansion-shows a similar (but probably not haunted) house to a husband and wife, he comes home to learn that Diane’s discovered even more weird stuff-the kitchen floor acting as a makeshift slide, moving objects-first a chair, and later a helmeted Carol Anne-across a part of the floor without being pushed forward. Steve is suitably spooked by this. There’s a bit of a deleted scene here with Steve wondering if it’s some kind of natural thing related to the Earthquake from earlier, and Carol Anne saying she doesn’t like Pizza Hut. However, apparently Pizza Hut took offense at this late in the editing phase, and we get an awkward jump cut to Steven and Diane asking their obnoxious neighbors if they’ve seen any weird stuff like furniture moving around. They also suffer some nasty mosquito bites.

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After some speculation on the nature of what’s going on, as well as some mosquito lotion, Steve decides he’s going to have the kitchen off-limits until they can figure out what’s going on….and now, things are about to get much, much worse.

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Next: Trees, TVs, and the long-suffering Marty!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Who In Review: Pyramid of Mars Part IV

 

 

The Doctor has distracted Sutekh, and Sutekh’s lost the war rocket as a result, so it can’t destroy the force field on Mars holding Sutekh in Egypt. Sutekh’s justifiably angry, but has a bit of curiosity over this guy who has upset his plan, and we get one of the great Doctor/villain confrontations, as well as some bits of Doctor Who lore, as learn what constellation Gallifrey is located in (Kasterborous)

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….something brought up a few times in the new series as well, including of course this iconic scene from “Voyage of the Damned….”

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As well as it’s coordinates (Since “names mean nothing” to Sutekh). These would show up again in “Death in Heaven” when Missy states that Gallifrey had returned to it’s original place (which might not have been a total lie; Gallifrey did return to our universe, but only in the far future as “Hell bent” revealed; presumably the Doctor simply went to the ‘present’ location)

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Sutekh, by doing a quick search on his computer (which just blinks some random lights) has him figure out the Doctor’s a time lord of course, although of course the Doctor quickly says he’s simply a traveler.  Sutekh offers the Doctor rule over an empire (Which is kind of weird, since Sutekh pretty much wants to destroy everything, would he just leave the Doctor alone?) The Doctor of course refuses (and notes that Sutekh is also known as Satan, which as I mentioned in the earlier articles, is a role the actor would sort of later play in the new series), and tortures the Doctor for a minute until the ‘organ sound’ lets Sutekh know that Scarman is calling, revealing that Sarah has been caught and knocked it. The Doctor of course objects seconds before the Mummy hits, causing Sutekh to tell them to wait. A bit of a funny blooper here, although one easy to miss-the Mummy stops before Marcus puts his hand up to halt it (although maybe it was just following Sutekh’s orders directly).

 

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Curious why Sarah means so much to the Doctor, the Doctor tries to cover by saying the “All intelligent life is our kin”, but Sutekh figures out that they travel together, and somehow also finds out about the TARDIS (possibly by reading the Doctor’s mind). It’s not the only time the Doctor’s mostly foiled the villain’s plan, but then they seek to claim his own ship as a plan B. Oops. And if there isn’t enough devil analogies already, Sutekh pretty much quotes Milton’s Paradise lost after the Doctor calls him evil: “Your evil is my good”.

The Doctor then levitates the Doctor’s key through the portal to England, where Scarman picks it up. And it’s time for some more Doctor who lore-of sorts, with the Doctor saying that the TARDIS controls are isomorphic, and only respond to him….which, like the “State of grace” aspect (That weapons can’t be fired inside the TARDIS)-is ignored time and time again in the series, both old and new-and finally treated as a joke in “The Christmas Carol” special in 2010, where the Doctor says there’s “no such thing” when trying to activate a computer-only to find out the computer is, in fact, isomorphic. Oops.

 

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Anyway, Sutekh uses his mind control on the Doctor. Tom does pretty good with a sort of dead-eyed Doctor, who then sends the TARDIS to mars.

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Unlike some other Doctor Who serials, we never see the exterior of the Pyramid; although we do see it 35 years later in Sarah Jane’s own show, in the “Vault of secrets”, where Sarah messes up a Mars probe so NASA doesn’t get a look….

 

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….and this is far from the last time the Doctor would set foot on the red planet. He finally meets the Ice Warriors on their home planet in last season’s “Empress of Mars”…

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….and of course the penultimate story to David Tennant’s run) was Water of Mars.

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Of course all three DW stories use the “of mars”.

Once the TARDIS gets to Mars, the Mummies then choke the Doctor, although they just ignore Sarah pretty much.

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The Doctor then ‘dies’, and Sarah for a minute starts crying after checking his hearts-beat, but the Doctor gives her a tap on the head, letting her know he’s actually ok, and we get the first mention of the Doctor’s “respitory bypass system”, which comes up a few times in both series, apparently a way for the Doctor to store oxygen. It also helps the Doctor out of a tricky situation in next season’s “Robots of death”.

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The Pyramid’s defense systems are a series of deadly puzzles, which we see Marcus and later the Doctor navigate. The Doctor explains that, despite Horus, who imprisoned Sutekh-being a sort of ‘good guy’, he was still a cunning and clever Osirian. One of the puzzles involves pressing the right symbol on a board, and Sutekh is able to counter it by “cheating” using his computer, although the Doctor has to resort to using his scarf to measure the puzzle and it’s solution “key” to touch the right symbol.

Sarah says this particular puzzle is a bit like the City of the Exillons, which also had death trap puzzles in “Death to the Daleks”, a third Doctor/Sarah story from Pertwee’s final season. Of course, places lined with death traps would show up in later stories as well, including “The Five Doctors” anniversary special, where a guardian robot and later a “chess board” made a mess of a group of Cybermen.

 

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We also get some fun little comedy when the Doctor and Sarah enter the room a bit too soon.

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Sarah then gets trapped in a dusty-looking tube (A “Decadon crucible” whatever that means), with the Doctor puzzled on how to proceed for a minute, but then two mummy robots show up-these time wearing gold bands meaning they’re Horus’s, not Sutekh’s-and give the Doctor a riddle. Horus’s voice, I’m pretty sure, is also Gabriel Woolf’s, although with less of a sinister tone. Also like Sarah Jane’s “What me, worry?” shrug here when the Doctor dust-writes “Relax”. (and shielding his own reaction to her dilemma)

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Intruders, you face the twin guardians of Horus. One is programmed to deceive, the other points truly.
The two switches control your fate. Instant freedom or instant death. Before you choose, you can ask one guardian one question. This is the riddle of the Osirans. Which is the guardian of life?

The Doctor uses some reverse logic to figure out this puzzle and get Sarah out.

Which indeed. They’re both contra-programmed so that one will always give a false indication. One question. If I were to ask your fellow guardian the question, which switch would he indicate?

(Mummy points)

I see. So if you’re the true guardian, that must be the death switch. And if you’re the automatic liar, you’d be trying to mislead me, so that still must be the death switch. Therefore, this has to be the one we want.

 

However, Marcus has got to the Pyramid’s room holding the Eye of Horus holding Sutekh in his tomb on Earth. (I wonder how he got out of that puzzle? Did he even have to do it?The room has sort of an interesting CSO effect on the walls.

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While Horus’s mummies take on Sutekh’s by pretty much karate-chopping each other, Sutekh somehow makes Marcus’s head turn into a Jackal and destroy the eye.

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Sutekh says he’s “FREEEEE!” we also hear that from Marcus, although it’s a bit unclear if it’s Marcus saying he’s free from Sutekh’s influence, or he’s simply repeating Sutekh. Anyway, it’s not much help anyway since he then collapses and disintegrates.

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As Sarah says, Sutekh seems to have won, and can now get out of his chair and wreck havoc-although the moment is kind of overshadowed by somebody’s hand appearing on the chair when he gets up (presumably adjusting the pillow?)-one of the most legendary Doctor Who bloopers.

However, as the Pyramid’s doors all open leading to the TARDIS, the Doctor says, in a very dramatic way-“NO! THE TIME FACTOR!” and they quickly rush out. Sutekh, turns back into his true form-the jackel we saw earlier on Marcus’s head…

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(although not really as scary as his “mental projection” from part one, which appeared to have pupils and hair)

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The Doctor-holding the time control from the TARDIS-sort of ‘hacks’ into the sarcophagus portal, managing to trap Sutekh, and although there’s some technobabble here from the Doctor, he ‘kills’; Sutekh by making him live for seven millennia stuck in the time tunnel (I think). The portal than bursts into flame, with Sarah remembering that the priory did, in fact, burn to the ground, with UNIT HQ  replacing it at some point.

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The Doctor also notes he got blamed for the great fire of London in 1666, which he technically was, in part, responsible for….although from his POV, not until his next life, in 1981’s “The Visitation”

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As the priory burns and the Doctor and Sarah flee in the TARDIS There’s a weird moment before the Doctor gets into the TARDIS, with him doing a kick, not sure if it was meant to ward off the flames or just him kicking over one of the mummy cases. It’s a bit unclear.

“Pyramid of Mars” of course was a very popular serial, and of course has spawned a large number of sequels in audio (With Woolf reprising his role), comic, and novel form, such as the “Faction Paradox” spinoff which reveals a lot about the backstory behind Sutekh and his race….

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and also facing the Doctor again in his seventh incarnation…..

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The Doctor also had to deal with other Osirians, mainly Nepthys, in the novel “Sands of time”

 

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And Sutekh has a son who actually becomes the Doctor’s companion in the Tenth Doctor comics by Titan…

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And for those curious about how the Ice Warriors fit in with the whole Osirians building the Pyramid of Mars, “Godengine” by the late Craig Hinton offers an explanation.

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