I am pleased to announce that part 6 of my animation Playing with Plastic (2016) will be exhibited online as part of a new archive UN[dis]CRIMINATE with the Unstitute online gallery.

Located in courtyards of the Unstitute – in between spaces, between other structures, temporary or otherwise – is a network of diverse encampments serving any number of uses; political or otherwise. In these digital encampments you can see the building of a new archive: UN[dis]CRIMINATE.

The outlying buildings of The Unstitute are not guarded by anyone in particular, and often entrances sit wide open for anyone to see. But mainly the nomadic eruptions in disused or otherwise vague areas of The Unstitute appear of their own determination, and deterritorialize as long as they please.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (16/9/18)

The aim of the weekend was to make between 4 to 6 pieces. I’ve made 5, so I’m pretty pleased to have done so many. Each piece comes with it’s own challenges. The first of the day was pretty straight forward in that I had to decide on a flat or raised roof before getting stuck in. The main challenge of the day was the church which was originally just a very flat piece from a VHS box. I had to build it in 3 sections, the main building, the tower and the steeple. As I was working with different angles and butting I had to go slower and constantly look to see how it was going. The height was reduced before the roof was fitted. The tower has a false entrance below so figures could stand and interact with it. Also it’s a nice feature which I’ve been missing from the others recently, pace has been the main objective, I’ll add details later on.

With this two pieces completed I took a sneaky look to learn I have 7 more to go, that at least 3 visits to the studio to get them done. In between all of that I’m still looking at the cardboard train-set, with the ramp getting slowly completed, one side of posts are fixed so I’ve been adding the rail to that side. The other side was disappointing, as all the of the posts had to be re-fixed, hopefully they’ll have fixed in place this time.

Once the town has been upgraded I’ll decide to either turn to the army fort or to another version of the town in ruins, or even something else, lets see where I go next.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (15/9/18)

Today I set out to make a start on possibly 4-6 model miniatures this weekend in the studio. So far I’ve made a good start; 3 out of 6 isn’t too bad. I’m now in full swing of upgrading the original VHS box based pieces to something far more substantial. I’m not even being picky as to which one I pick to work on next, simply taking the next one I can get my hands on from the box they’re stored in. It’s a good process so I don’t know what I’m getting to work on next. Each one has it’s challenges as I consider how to take this 2 dimensional objects and flesh them out.

Today I upgraded the hardware store, clothing store and barber shop. I want to focus mainly on the barbers as I focused more on this piece. The other two were pretty straight forward once I knew what was needed. I was unsure of how to work with the red and which striped cylinders – a classic feature of any barbers. The originals were suspended over the sides of the sign above. How could I achieve that this time. At this stage I’m not getting the balsa wood out for these pieces. Wanting to stay cardboard based I decided a low-relief response was best. Taking a short length of cardboard tube, sliced down the middle and pulled back enough for a strip of cardboard to join, filling in the gap. I then carefully tore away at another piece of card to wrap around each piece before fixing in place. At the moment I’m OK with how it looks, however I might change so again it’s suspended at the sides, but low-relief still.

Looking at today’s 3 new additions I need to add a little more detail as I have with the stores, so far they are just boxed in objects, they need to be brought to life more and to the same standard.

I then moved on and back to the train set, the ramp that I started last time was now able to have the rails added. So far the posts for the rails have been added, hopefully I can make it safer next time. Working purely with balsa is never a predictable task as you have to be sure that everything is fixed, in place and ready to take on more.


Rango (2011)

Another day, another Western, I’ve not written so much in a week in a long time. My third Western in a row, something must be going on for me to write such volume in over a year. If I’m honest I’ve been avoiding Rango (2011) for years, thinking that the combination of Johnny Depp and Westerns was going to be a bad idea. That was after the awful The Lone Ranger (2013) that saw him turn the iconic character of Tonto into nothing more than a bloated stereotype, showing that he had no or little respect for a nation that he claims to have family heritage. Both directed by Gore Verbinski But before catching him in a far more interesting multi-layered quirky Dead Man (1995) which breathed some new life into the genre thanks to Jim Jarmusch a director that I’m beginning to warm to. So you have a director to thank, oh and a very brief trailer for this film that made me think, maybe, just maybe I should give this film a chance.

For a kids film it’s a pretty good introduction to a genre that is generally watched by an older generation that grew up with it during the classical period of the genre. Something I am still very jealous about. I do however had good access to some of the best films that the genre produced and the opportunity to read into and beyond the images that captivated a whole generation and a country that holds as part of their culture. So what does Rango do that captivated me so much tonight. Beginning in a contained space I was reminded of a very early Pixar short, a snowman trying to get to the attention of a girl sunbathing in another snow-globe across the shelf. Rango is very reverential of both animation and film as a whole. It’s a spoof with real heart.

The titular Chameleon is essentially a dreamer who has everything he believes he needs in life, escape to his own fantasy world. That’s until his glass world’s smashed, his whole world is literally brought crashing down into the middle of an Arizona/Utah highway where he meets what looks like an Amardillo on its last legs, complete with trye tread running through its body. Advising him to cross to the other side of the road to find water. For some reason – common sense he doesn’t, after seeing what happened to the soon to be dead animal. Early on you can see that the quality of animation is incredible, not knowing at this point that more animals are going to be find in the Wild West town of Dirt, remember this is a kids film.

The town of Dirt works on two levels, one set in the desert with little to no water left to keep the assorted animals that would populate the desert come to inhabit this town that mixes classic 19th century with contemporary features. It’s all done with love and a heap of fun so adults and kids can really enjoy this old Western town. We’re told that we’re witnessing the final days of the dreamer Chameleon who somehow lands on his feet. A stranger who walks into town, soon becoming the sheriff – following a long line of failed men who have died in quick succession trying to keep this dying town alive.

A clever reflection of both the present and past, the lack of money’s mirrored in the drought that has become the sole currency that these animals know and need in order to survive and live. Controlled by the puppet master mayor Ned Beatty a voice I shall never forgive for being Lotso the Bear in Toy Story 3 (2010), a perfect bit of casting for the turtle that has Dirt in the palm of his hands. Rango has used his gift of performing to his advantage, talking his way into a new life that could very easily come undone in the wrong situation. Depp here is perfect in the role, you could say it’s another version of his bumbling Captain Jack Sparrow who finds his way in and out situations based purely on luck really.

In the West you need a little more than luck, you need a mirage that takes produces a charming tribute to Clint Eastwood when his likeness is found not far from a golf buggy. Known as the The Spirit of the West (Timothy Olyphant) our not so heroic Chameleon has to save the day. It would be a bit much to ask a young audience to buy a mirage of The Duke sadly. The world that Rango’s inhabiting continues to delve into nostalgia of the genre, set around Monument Valley where the animals adventure to find the water that we learn has been stolen, a fun alternative to the classic gold that has been, if you’ll pardon the pun “mined to death” in the genre. It becomes more accessible to kids who may no little or nothing about the West beyond cowboys and Indians that have come to be the defining image of the genre.

Overall Rango is really good fun, which you want for a kids film, with beautifully detailed scenery, the modelling of the characters is equally strong. They are each unique and come with their own backstory, I can remember a chicken dressed as a veteran confederate soldier with an arrow going through one eye and come out around the back of his head. The very logic of his being is even mentioned, these are just citizens to be seen in the background they are integral parts of the town of Dirt. I come away from the film thinking, why did I wait so long for what is a loving animated romp that works for both adults and kids. Sure it’s not a classic, all I know is, I wont be avoiding it in future, instead looking forward to catching it.

Westward the Women (1951)

It’s always refreshing to see a different side of the Western, a genre dominated by the male, who according to cinema tamed the West for civilisation to out and make it home for everyone back east. However that’s not really how it went. Of course there are plenty of notable male figures who went out there and mapped out the uncharted landscape that was once home to Native American tribes that were more than just an obstacle to overcome (not as the genre would have you believe). Women were part of the families, the farmers, the homesteaders that came out West and made it their own along with the men. Westward the Women (1951) may take certain creative licence in the making of the film. However they too are an essential part of the American story that needs to be addressed and celebrated. Sadly not as much as we would hope. Seen as the figures that stay at home, the dancers or prostitutes that need to be saved, or stay out of sight until they need to save our hero from himself. They have been able to tame their men, not so much the landscape that they would’ve had to travel in the process. These women are the un-celebrated pioneers that made it possible to pit down roots out West and unite the States. Westward the Women goes someway to redressing the balance of their depiction on screen, even within the confines of the early 1950’s I can see some boundaries being crossed.

A land populated with just men was obviously not going to work for long, 4 years was long enough for those in California around 1851 – set exactly a century ago, we see an America that has just started to really be discovered, the fur trade had come to an end, the Cattle trails were about to take off, we had left the gold rush behind. Waiting for the civil war to break out a decade later. There’s a group of men who have been working for Roy E. Whitman (John McIntire) who has been able to make a success of the valley he has cultivated and worked for years. His men need what they have been lacking for quite sometime – sex. There’s no amount of drinking, gambling or fighting can substitute the loving of a good woman. Reinforcing the union of marriage on-screen, we see Whitman recruit the only man who could possibly bring a wagon train of women from back East to marry 100 sex-starved men. Turning to Buck Wyatt (Robert Taylor) who wants nothing to do with women, the prospect of bring back a large number alone is not something he would freely sign up for. We all know he doesn’t need much convincing when a large fee is waved in front of him.

Next thing we know we are in a hall in Chicago, recruiting 150 single women, prepared to travel across dangerous open country to marry men they have never met. Warned of the dangers, we see that not even half of them are prepared for what is ahead of them. The civilised life is all they know, wanting to shake it all loose for something new and unexplored. There not all your typical American’s we have a more international cast, reflecting the different nationalities that made the West their home. I was wondering how the process of recruiting would be carried out, freely signing up and warned of the dangers is what should be expected, not one woman balks at the prospect. Showing that these women at least are willing to meet the men on a level playing field. Before we leave to make the long journey men are recruited separately by Wyatt with one rule – stay away from the women, which makes perfect sense. As little interaction between the guides and passengers would stop any trouble breaking out. Touching on the potential drama that could arise.

Wagon’s begin to roll, there’s a sense of purpose and drive in the women, about to set off for a new life. The easy part is now over. After a few days in wagon train boot camp they set off. It’s a rather muted affair, there’s not soundtrack that lifts the mood, in-fact we have none throughout, a brave choice that allows the women to own the film and the journey. It’s a journey that could easily have taken the route of Red River‘s (1948) long and torturous cattle drive. Seeing Wyatt begin to take on the hardened leader that won’t see his rules broken. Ultimately he’s left with a few men to see them through. Along the way we see the women encounter multiple obstacles that are each given decent time to unfold. That includes the obligatory romance for Wyatt and one of the women – French woman Fifi Danon (Denise Darcel) which feels unnecessary at times. We even have moments where the film could easily pass the Bechdel test, with men restricted they’re forced to talk about the trail and all the trials that come with it.

There’s another journey that Wyatt goes on, that of a growing respect for the women he’s been leading. It’s not easy to learn either, as they take on more and more of the work, to the point that they have to support a wagon that looses a wheel on an alkaline desert, whilst a woman’s in labour (yes we see a pregnant woman on-screen – she wears a larger shirt). They all know what needs to be done and just do it. Shocking the two remaining men in the party. Depicted on-screen as equal if not better than the men at times, having had to prove themselves in the male gaze.

Meeks Cuttoff (2010) is one of the few films that depicts strong women having to make the perilous journey West. Far bleaker than this earlier film that does it’s best to show the women to not be weak, feeble creatures who can’t compete with the men. Kelly Reichardt‘s later film depict women who are more than capable of working alongside the men and even surpassing them. William A. Wellman‘s film is far broader in approach, there’s little time for character studies of all the women in the wagon train. We do however see that they can pull their weight, they are no longer supporting players in the plot or the film as a whole. Ultimately they only relinquish their gender roles for a few months before entering a life of domesticity. Even when they choose the partner from just a photo, they’ll have little control once they settle down into married life.

With over 50 years between both films we have seen as massive change in the depiction of women in the Western. They are no longer just the stay at home wives, they are part of the fabric and history, able to stand up and be as good as the men, sometimes better. Sadly the quality of the films today is still patchy – Jane Got a Gun (2015) with all it’s good intentions is a mess of a film, wanting to give the woman more agency and lot of baggy, fragmented backstory. Unlike the more refined focused Brimstone (2016) that allows a mute woman Liz (Dakota Fanning ) who see defending herself and her family to a satisfying conclusion, her back story is broken up into a more cohesive form with religious overtones that makes sense as the film progresses. Westward the Women is at the beginning of a small strand of the genre that focuses on women that has been lagging behind for far too long. It’s a shame it’s taken so long.


Cowboys Invaded – Update (9/9/18)

Another really productive day in the studio, I’m really getting stuck into the making process. I began the day producing 3 more lengths of straight train track before making a start on a curved piece. Using my method or carefully drawing out the piece on a sheet of cardboard I have been able to keep the distance between the rails the same. You can really tell the difference in size when they are cut out. I added the sleepers from pre-cut balsa wood. I had to try out how they worked with a train carriage, with the addition of the bogies. Which more or less work, however I feel that the curve is too tight and needs to be loosened up. For a first attempt at this method it’s not bad at all. I can still use a section for straight track.

I then moved on and away from my now much expanded cardboard train-set to return to the pieces I made for the frontier town for Playing with Plastic which are now just in storage. I’m being brutal with them now as I begin to remake them with more substantial cardboard and fleshing them out to be more 3 dimensional than just improvised on VHS boxes. I made a good start today with two pieces, one a stores (which I think is for my Army fort, and a stagecoach depot, using a toy stagecoach for reference. I’ve kept the scale the same, trying to stay true original design of these pieces. I want to keep things as easy as possible so I can move at a good pace as there is a lot to do. I’ll add more detail later on once I have them all. I do however need to make copies of them as burnt out shells, which I’ll use less substantial cardboard for.

I’ve got a long way to go, it will take a few months to produce just one version of them, another will be probably just as long too. In between all of that I’ll be adding a few curved pieces of track to break things up a bit.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (8/9/18)

A few weeks ago I reached another milestone with my making skills with the ability to make the model miniatures move. Today I have reached another one, I can now construct complex rooftops. Previously I have found this part of any piece I’ve made difficult to get over, going through lots of cardboard before I able to achieve to cover the roof (making it water tight). Today after going through a few ideas for a train station I decided to again as I expanded my cardboard train-set. I found it easier working on a smaller scale, less cardboard was wasted so I wasn’t so worried about things in that respect. I was able to measure out the dimensions and chip away where necessary on each piece of cardboard before fixing in place. I also made sure that they were fixed to a structure that was more secure. I had boxed out the main piece and added triangles for the pieces to fix onto. The side sections were held back until I made a start on the rear as they all interact. I learned that all the pieces affect one another, so equally important. I’m really pleased with it. I could have reduced the height in places but for now and this piece it really works, I may extended outwards at a 180 degrees angle, I’m not sure yet.

I then moved on briefly to look at adding a ramp to the open wagon for goods/horses etc to be un/loaded from it. At the moment I’ve been working with the balsa wood to raise it into position. Next time I’ll start to add a rail on either side.

I them moved onto make a start at adding more track, which is in desperate need now that the set has more than doubled in the last month at the studio. So far I’ve made 3 pieces, 1 very small, I’ll be making 3 more straight pieces before I attempt a few curved pieces, which again are harder to achieve. I do I have a plan which I’ll be putting into action though.

As I look at the train set I can see that I have a long way to go still. I’m really enjoying the making process. I’ve returned to balsa, the perfect companion to cardboard. Once the additional pieces have been made I may make a start on the town or take a break and look at the Army fort, which I want to be more substantial and possibly smaller, something I need to take a look at further.

The Oklahoma Kid (1939)

I’ve recently started to re-watch the Richard Slotkin lectures on the Western genre, he goes into great detail about how the genre was reborn in 1939. From spending the majority of the 1930’s in the obscurity of the B-movie, it was regenerated as part of re-engerising the country during the great depression, encouraging the public to look back and celebrate their recent history. In the past I’ve looked at both Stagecoach and Dodge City, even Union Pacific that were all released during that prolific year in Hollywood history. Another lesser known piece is The Oklahoma Kid (1939) that was part of Warner Brothers attempt to breathe new life into the Western. Slotkin didn’t really have many kind words for the film, putting it down to mis-casting of both James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart who were known more for their gangster roles during the decade. Criminals fighting back against an unfair system. The genre itself was a reformed Western in a different guise, brought up-to-date with tommy guns and speakeasy’s in place of Winchesters and saloons.

I had to see for myself just what The Oklahoma Kid was all about, seeing a younger Cagey and Bogart who are clearly out of their comfort zones. Having previously seen Bogart paired opposite Errol Flynn (who suited the genre) in Virginia City (1940) an unspoken sequel to Dodge City released the previous year. Set up as another chance to see the dashing Aussie in the West, with only a few lines of dialogue to explain his accent, allowing the audience to easily accept him in the Wild West as we wait for him to ride in and save the day. He’s nowhere to be found in The Oklahoma Kid, the other Warners production of 1939. A smaller production that had spent more money on having two big actors share the screen.

It didn’t take long for me to see that Cagney was not really playing the cowboy, he was still the gangster out for himself. We first meet him as he robs sacks of gold meant for the Cherokee nation who had just been forced off thier land in what was fast becoming Oklahoma state. The Kid (Cagney) is seen lurking in the rocks, waiting to make his move on men lead by Whip McCord (Bogart) who have just left a stagecoach. One bad-guy steals from another, there’s no sense of respect for each of them. You admire the Kid’s ingenuity but left wondering whose side is this guy on. He steals money from thieves, why didn’t he join the other men? Does he only work alone like Ringo the Kid (John Wayne) who we know would never commit such a crime. Oklahoma seems to lack any sense if morality. We have yet to learn what McCord is all about, beyond the fact he wants to steal money meant for the poor.

The film is again set-up as a historical Western, much like Dodge City and Union Pacific, allowing us to believe that these events could have happened, we are transported to the era when America was progress, long before the Great Depression. We are nearing the close of the frontier now, set in the mid 1890’s, where not so many future Westerns are set unless it serves a different purpose thematically to the film. We are present at the birth of a new State, settlers have gathered for a land-rush that grounds the film in some sense of history, real or fictional, it sets the scene for progress and the film to unfold. A lot of work goes into the storytelling of both Dodge and Kid the backdrop is seen to be very important.

In most films of the Golden age there is usually a clearly defined hero, however in both Dodge and Kid the heroes are reluctant, more so The Kid as he wants to only help when it serves his own purpose. Leaving our screens to focus on corruption to set into the young town of Tulsa after McCord blackmail’s town founder and future mayor Ned Kincaid (Harvey Stephens) allowing for vices to co-exist with virtue, becoming just another Wild West town full of gambling, alcohol and sex, with the church pushed to the back. Progress is still a long way off for this young town. Bogart’s gang have laid the foundations to own the town of Tulsa, even explaining as much before the land rush is even over. Bending the rules for his own ends.

We meet The Kid again living in a hut, there’s a baby crying, we are led to believe that this could be his baby, who we learn is Mexican as he sing to them in Spanish. Before learning that this is just a hideout, as there’s a $500 reward for him, not that bothers him. Riding into Tulsa to find his father’s Ned Kincaid has been framed for murder, under the penalty of hanging, the traditional punishment in the West. How can this upstanding citizen who ran for mayor be capable of committing such a crime. The Kid or as we learn is the son of Kincaid, the bad son who was left to lead a life of crime. The Kid puts family above all other priorities, as we see his drive to clear his father’s name sees him push for his own form of justice. However his guns only get him so far, when the advice of Jane Hardwick (Rosemary Lane) tells him that he needs the law on his side to do things the right way.

What follows is a showdown that stretches the length of the West as McCord’s men are tracked down and killed. Just like a gangster driving around led by rumours as he tracks down those who have wronged him. The Kid has only his horse and tracks to follow and that’s enough to see him leave only McCord for the final showdown. Staged just like a gangster film we know we aren’t far from the urban streets of the Chicago or New York when it comes to these two leads. Both actors are very much out of their comfort zone here resorting to fisticuffs until one is shot. We never really left the 1930’s, not with Cagney and Bogie together. Run for Cover (1955) sees a far more at ease actor in the genre, having broken free from the tropes and language of a genre that define and typecast him for a decade. Whilst Bogart came into his own during the 1940’s as Film noir and darker roles beckoned for him.

I can see that the money was spent on Dodge City, with the large set pieces and far expanded cast. The Oklahoma Kid still clings to the language of B-Westerns, the sped up horse chase across the open country, the costumes and characters that are mostly 2 dimensional, the running time doesn’t really allow much to happen when we cross so much time during this film. Now I’ve seen practically all the major Westerns of 1939 I can see that some are still trying to make the leap to the big budgets and concepts that allowed it last for over 30 years.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (2/9/18)

After a lovely day catching up with friends I came back to the studio ready to get on with the boxcars from the start of the week. I now had a proven and working method for more. Again allowing me to speed through the making process. Much reduced in scale, so less detail can be given to the pieces, however I was able to add a sliding door to one side of each piece.

Before adding the bogies to the two pieces I moved onto another coach, The production on these starts to slow down when the roofs added. Simply due to the cardboard being wrapped round and hopefully now that I’ve held it down with masking tape at both ends that it should reduce the chance of breaking away.

Lastly I returned to the open wagon, breaking out some balsa wood, a material I’ve not used in a long time to add rails to the sides.

This should complete the piece now, I’ll be moving on to work on a train station next time. Before then I’ll be sketching some ideas of what to make in the studio. I’m really pleased that I’ve completed all I wanted to in the studio. I keep thinking about other elements on my long making list, which today is slightly shorter.

Phase IV (1974)

If I’m honest I’m lost for words having just finished Phase IV (1974). I’m not sure I can even deliver 1000+ words on my thoughts on Saul Bass‘s sole feature film directorial credit. I can see why he didn’t make any more either. I wish I wasn’t that harsh about a man who redefined the language of how a films begins. His title sequences are sought after and enjoyed on a level that is equal to the films he worked on. Leaving his own signature on another directors works. A very unique and distinctive style that defined films of the 1950’s and 60’s. Maybe it was his rumored direction of the shower sequence in Psycho (1960) that gave him a taste for creative control over a film. The fact is, it was only his storyboards that helped shape that seminal sequence of film history. Could Phase IV have been his long gestated idea that finally made it to the screens?

The concept reminds me of a 1950’s b-movie, seeing oversized creatures – including ants that wreak havoc before science finally saves the day. Bass however wasn’t limited to cheap special effects that took months to film. Instead he’s invested in he whole budget almost in either training ants or animating them, either way they are spookally effective. For a low-budget first feature you have to admire the creativity that went into producing what is clearly a unique vision. The opening of the films is eerily dialogue free, focusing on the ants deep underground organising themselves. Somehow effected by an eclipse that energising these usual pest at a picnic to making their way up to being enemy number one in the world. We are taken into this underground world of what can’t be train ants, as we are advised by Dr Ernest D. Hubbs (Nigel Davenport ) informs us, different species of ants have come together and begun to work alongside each other. No longer are they our pests but working together, breaking the laws of nature to disturbing, no that’s the wrong word, lets try strange effect. We accept that these ants are not just putting differences aside due to global warming, something else is afoot. What could have been shot inside a glass container feels far more expansive.

All this happens before we even catch a glimpse of a human, two scientist – Dr Hubbs and James Lesko (Michael Murphy ) who previously was able to speak to whales. The two man team set-up camp as close as they can to these mutated ants that are nearer than we even know. Based on a ghost town of a 1960’s failed dream development, perfect for trouble to happen unseen from the prying eyes of the world at large. A single family remains, you could say they are stubborn, unwilling to give into the rumors if killer ants below. The truth is too hard to believe for some, even a request to evacuate is ignored, this family are staying until the bitter end. Their presence is felt above ground in the form of a series of totems that have shot out of the ground. Too alien to be human, the work of a higher power that has yet to be understood. Still these are soon shot down in what is part of phase I of the film.

Nigel Davenport’s Dr Stubbs reminds me of other driven B-movie scientists, who will stop at nothing to get to the truth. Understanding what drives the ants. Even when his partner, who is clearly more focused on the task of first communicating with the insects before any really solid action is taken. Two very different methods of investigation, one driven by a logical methodology and the other driven by impulses and emotional instinct. The differences in practice are soon displayed when they are investigating after a night of killing the ants. Stubbs’s view of seeing the family caught up in the chemical attack of just collateral damage to him. Scaring not just Lesko but the audience, how far will this man go showing no or little regard for ethics.

What keeps this film moving along is that drive to communicate and understand the ants, the very idea that a film is devoted to talking to ants is very obscure, yet we go along with it due to the believable images of ants fighting back, adapting to their situation in order to survive. Understanding any race in order to communicate is at the core of science fiction, if you can’t communicate you can’t understand the enemy or friend. As the film progresses they slowly begin to understand the ants. It’s the added element of Kendra (Lynne Frederick ) the only other survivor, we see what effect she has on the investigation. Her emotion driven responses are a variable that can’t be controlled. Stubbs is heading for his own demise after getting bitten I wonder if he is destined for the same fate as Seth Brundle (Jeff Goldblum ) who falls prey to his own science.

Stubbs’s instinct to learn takes a dark turn that I don’t see coming leading to a conclusion that really makes no sense and completely abrupt. A film that was tainted by the hands of the studio. Obviously an attempt to save this film from being a total failure can’t really save this from making much sense at all. All the effort to understand and communicate is not even wrapped up convincingly. I needed more before I left this low-budget film that somehow had me hooked, well intrigued as to what would happen. The addition of ant shots and odd special effects involving lights somehow work, now very dated we can see a director putting everything into making this film work but caught short by the material and budget that could have saved this film. It has the potential to be so much more, becoming a victim of the queen ants that run the studio who got their hands on it, trying themselves to understand just what the hell is going on. I left the film scratching my head and massively disappointed it could have been so much more, becoming one of the many films where the directors visions become blurred by studio interference, but here it was with good intention.

Cowboys Invaded – Update (27/8/18)

It’s been a steady day in the studio as I completed the 3 new refrigerated wagons before making a solid start on the box cars that I wanted to add to the cardboard train set. It’s been a pretty straightforward day, using the original test piece as a model again to work from, also the addition of bogies which I’m getting pretty good at now.

I then moved onto the boxcar wagon which I would like to add 2 to my collection. I am working from photos this time as I’ve had a clear out of the studio of old work. So far I’ve made a good start, with the main body in place now. Trying my best to replicate the original green ones from a few years ago. I’ve kept the detail pretty lose. The strips of cardboard are minimal as I didn’t want to get too complicated with it. For this one to be complete I need to add a raised door that has the potential to slide open, before adding the wheels (complete with bogies) to the base. Then I can simply replicate it and move onto a new coach.

So far my long list of additional pieces is going along nicely, taking my time as I go. Some will take some experimentation to get right, whilst others will be far easier to achieve.