Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Then a Hellbeast ate them.

Reason #4,057 to get a region-free dvd player: Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, Matthew Holness and Richard Aoyade's inspired sci-fi/horror parody which aired on Channel 4 in the UK in 2004 and was just released on dvd there last month. Holness stars as Marenghi, a Stephen King-like horror writer who's just as prolific but considerably shittier (from one love scene: "He whisked off her shoes and panties in one move. Wild - like an enraged shark, his bulky totem beating a seductive rhythm"). Darkplace was Marenghi's sci-fi vanity series - shot in the mid-80's but never before broadcast - starring himself as an allegedly heroic doctor investigating paranormal disturbances at a hospital. The writers throw in all the cheesiest elements of low budget, genre tv: absurd dialogue, awkward dubbing, aggressively ugly film stock, cheap special effects and stilted acting, particularly by Marenghi's sleazy publisher, Dean Learner (Ayoade), who plays the hospital administrator ("He couldn't actually interact with other actors. I've never seen that before... or since"). The show mostly avoids the perils of creating something "intentionally bad" simply by making everything as straight-faced silly as possible, such as this scene from episode one:

Apparently the show recently aired on the Sci-Fi Channel. I don't know if a US dvd release is forthcoming, but predictably it looks like you can find most of it on YouTube. Also, the Dean Learner character recently returned in a new talk show parody called Knowing Me Knowing You with Alan Partridge... er, I mean Man to Man with Dean Lerner, which I haven't seen yet.

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