Our Hidden Lives by Simon Garfield

The Mass Observation Project was a somewhat lovely scheme instituted by the British government in the late 1930s. Basically they wanted to find out how normal people lived, to know their views and opinions. The purpose was to capture the life of the average man and woman: people who weren’t newsworthy and just made their…

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986)

Despite the promise of its name, THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE is an oddly subtle film. Considering the implement and the title, the violence is actually quite muted compared to gorefests today. Its violence is most shocking for how brief and sudden it is. What’s really unsettling about the film is the constant air of dread;…

We Have Lost the President by Paul Matthews

WE HAVE LOST THE PRESIDENT contains maybe the most pleasant, home-spun dystopia I’ve ever come across. In other hands, a future Britain which has lost technology like mobile-phones and the internet, and where the royal family has been exiled to Canada, would be the basis of a hand-wringing tract about the dreadfulness of the modern…

The Case of the Bloody Iris (1972)

Giallo, for the uninitiated, is a type of Italian horror film that thrived in the early seventies and focused on people – most particularly women – being menaced by black gloved, masked serial killers. That description might be queried by some people, but I’ll cheerfully confess that I am no expert. Until now the only…

The Girl with all the Gifts (2016)

This cheap British zombie film (with a bizarrely starry cast) tells a gripping story with some admirably weird touches. Whereas scenes of zombies (or ‘hungries’, in the parlance of this film) congregating in shopping centres, is straight out of the big ‘Let’s turn George Romero’s work into clichés’ manual, zombie children and dangerous plants growing…

Death of an Actress by Antony M. Brown

In 1947, a young (and unknown) actress, Gay Gibson sailed from Johannesburg to Southampton. Except she never actually reached her destination. One night she disappeared and foul play was immediately suspected. A particularly amorous stewards was questioned, but it was the answers he gave when back on shore in Britain which really shocked and launched…

Forever and a Day by Anthony Horowitz

#Stands up and applauds# FOREVER AND A DAY genuinely feels like a lost James Bond novel. Fleming in his writings always went forward, but if he had gone back and slotted in some early adventures, this feels like the kind of book he’d have produced. There’s the beautiful, mysterious woman who’s swayed by Bond’s charms;…

My Life so Far by Jane Fonda

Like a lot of my interests these days, I was inspired to read this book by the ‘You Must Remember this’ podcast, which did a fascinating series comparing Jane Fonda and Jean Seberg – two American actresses who made films in France in the 1960s and were targeted by the FBI for their activism in…