Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Earth vs. the Flying Saucers (1956)

It’s a tough thing for a fan of cult movies to admit but until tonight I had never seen Earth vs. the Flying Saucers. I had heard a great deal about it of course and I can’t really explain why I’d never seen it. I have now had the chance to see it on the Blu-Ray release (that’s the good news) in a colorised version (that’s the bad news).

I managed to endure a few minutes of the drab lifeless colours before switching to the black-and-white version which is (mercifully) also included.

This is of course one of the legendary Ray Harryhausen movies of the 1950s. Harryhausen’s flying saucers do not disappoint.

In some ways the plot, from a story by Curt Siodmak, is pretty much a stock-standard alien invasion story. Flying saucers were big news at the time so combining the flying saucer craze with an alien invasion story was an excellent idea. The original inspiration was apparently a book by noted UFO enthusiast Donald E. Keyhoe, who had been a prolific writer of extremely good and wildly imaginative pulp fiction back in the 1920s and 1930s. Many of his pulp stories are now available in book form and I can highly recommend The Vanished Legion and (even more particularly) Strange War.

Dr Russell A. Marvin (Hugh Marlowe) is a scientist working on Project Skyhook, which involves the launching of a dozen artificial satellites. Marvin and his new bride Carol (Joan Taylor) encounter a flying saucer while driving to the satellite launch site. Project Skyhook has been running into problems and contact has been lost with most of the satellites. What Dr Marvin does not know but will soon find out from his boss General Hanley (Morris Ankrum) is that the satellites are no longer up there in space. The wreckage of the satellites has been found scattered in various locations across the globe. It won’t take the viewer long to figure out that the loss of the satellites is connected with the flying saucers that have been spotted recently. It takes Dr Marvin a little longer to spot the connection, but not too long.

The flying saucers attack the launch site and pretty soon Project Skyhook is a smouldering expanse of rubble and scrap metal. Dr Marvin discovers (through a clever early use of the much-used technique of slowed-down sound recordings) that the aliens have been trying to make contact with Earth. At this point you might think this is going to be another of those alien invasion movies involving tragic misunderstood aliens fleeing a dying world. That turns out to be partly true but it soon becomes obvious that the aliens were not trying to contact us to negotiate with us but merely to inform us of our impending conquest. They were hoping for a surrender to save them the trouble of destroying us.

Of course the Earth has no intention of surrendering. And Dr Marvin is not one of those irritating movie scientists who tries to persuade us to try to understand the aliens’ point of view. Dr Marvin is in fact as gung-ho as anyone about resisting the invasion and he is soon busily inventing a secret weapon to knock those flying saucers out of the sky. The story builds towards the inevitable showdown with the aliens, and some very satisfying battle scenes.

One of the great attractions of 1950s sci-fi is the technobabble, something 1950s film-makers were very good at. This movie has some superb examples, the best being the Infinitely Indexed Memory Bank and the alien helmets made from solidified electricity (Ray Harryhausen himself claimed the credit for that last one). 

It goes without saying that when you see Ray Harryhausen’s name in the credits you expect that the special effects will be a major feature of the film and that they will be impressive. In this movie Harryhausen delivers the goods on both counts. The flying saucers really do look terrific. The amazing thing is that the largest models used were only a foot in diameter and yet they look much more convincing and much more sophisticated than any other attempts at that time to depict flying saucers.

This movie, like most low-budget sci-fi movies of its era, uses a lot of stock footage. The difference is that in this movie the stock footage is integrated into the action with extraordinary skill and in almost every case it’s been so carefully selected that it fits in perfectly. This film is an object lesson in how to use stock footage properly and effectively.

The climactic battle scenes, with flying saucers wreaking destruction on Washington and other cities while Dr Marvin’s new sound gun takes a toll on the saucers, are remarkably effective. The flying saucers look like they’re really there.

The Blu-Ray includes a number of extras including an audio commentary with Harryhausen himself and a couple of supposed experts who seem to know very little about their subject. Harryhausen though supplies a good deal of fascinating information on the making of the film and the creation of the special effects. The breath-taking simplicity of some of his techniques demonstrates that getting special effects right depends on skill and imagination rather than the popular modern approach of just throwing money at the problem.

While I listened to the audio commentary I forced myself to sit through the colorised version. I was not impressed. The colours look much too much like the colours in so many movies today - too drab and way too much blue and green toning. To my mind the black-and-white version looks fresher and brighter. The good news is that apart from the ill-advised colorisation the transfer is extremely good.

The biggest surprise is that Earth vs. the Flying Saucers works very well as a genuine science fiction action movie rather than an exercise in high camp. There is nothing of the so-bad-it’s-good quality to this movie. And there is no reason to be embarrassed by the special effects - they still look very impressive. Highly recommended.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Zombies of Mora Tau (1957)

Zombies of Mora Tau was one of producer Sam Katzman’s 1950s low-budget science fiction/horror flicks, included in Sony’s four-movie Icons of Horror Sam Katzman Collection.

Jan Peters (Autumn Russell) arrives at her great-grandmother’s house in Africa and something very strange happens on the drive there. Her great-grandmother’s chauffeur hits a man on the road and just drives on as if nothing had happened. He assures Jan that she is not to worry because it was not a man that the car hit. She remembers stories of zombies from her childhood but surely no-one believes such stories in the 1950s. It is obvious however that her great-grandmother most certainly does believe in zombies.

She discovers that a miscellaneous collection of adventurers and rough-necks are nearby, searching for a fabled treasure lost off the coast of Africa in the late 19th century. Her great-grandmother clearly knows a good deal about the story. In the past half-century half a dozen expeditions have tried to find the famous diamonds that went down with the Susan B in 1894. They are all buried in a nearby graveyard.

George Harrison (Joel Ashley) has no patience with legends of zombies. He aims to get those diamonds. Dr Jonathan Egger (Morris Ankrum) is accompanying his expedition, but for scientific reasons rather than greed. Handsome young deep-sea diver Jeff Clark (Gregg Palmer) shares Harrison’s interest in the diamonds. When a member of the crew of Harrison’s ship falls victim to a zombie Jeff starts to have his doubts about the wisdom of the whole undertaking but he puts those doubts aside when Harrison offers him a bigger cut of the loot.

It soon becomes apparent that the zombies are all too real and that the chances of getting those diamonds and getting out alive are not very promising. Jan’s great-grandmother tries to persuade the greed-obsessed adventurers that the diamonds are the reason for the existence of the zombies and that only by destroying the diamonds can the zombies find eternal peace. The zombies are of course the original crewmen of the Susan B and the various men who have since tried to claim the diamond treasure from its watery resting place a hundred feet beneath the sea.

This is a distinctly low-budget affair so don’t expect elaborate special effects or zombie makeup. In spite of this the zombies still manage to be fairly frightening. They don’t look particularly horrific but they just keep coming after you and nothing can stop them.

The diving scenes, surprisingly, are very well done and pretty convincing. And pretty exciting as well.

The acting is better than you generally get in such a low-rent feature. Gregg Palmer is a likeable hero and while Autumn Russell is a little insipid at times she’s an acceptable heroine. Allison Hayes has some fun as Harrison’s hardboiled wife. Marjorie Eaton is perfect as the great-grandmother who knows all the secrets.

The most common failing of the cheap sci-fi and horror movies of the 50s is poor pacing but Zombies of Mora Tau does not share that flaw. The action movies along in a very satisfying manner and the script does not get bogged down in unnecessary romantic sub-plots. There’s nothing startlingly original in the story but it hangs together and it offers a reasonably plausible explanation for the events. Plausible, so long as one admits the existence of voodoo and zombies.

Despite the low budget this movie is generally well-crafted. This is a movie that is enjoyably schlocky without Ed Wood-style incompetence.

The 16x9 enhanced transfer looks terrific. The four movies in the set are spread over two discs with (surprisingly) a few extras as well. Sony have done a fine job with this release.

Zombies of Mora Tau is just creepy enough to be more than just a so-bad-it’s-good movie but just silly enough to be great fun. It is in other words ideal entertainment for anyone who loves science fiction or horror B-movies. Thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

The Sea Wolves (1980)

The Sea Wolves is an old-fashioned war adventure movie in the very best meaning of the term old-fashioned. Andrew V. McLaglen was arguably the best director of such movies in the business at the time and he delivers all the excitement anyone could reasonably want.

The movie was based on the real-life raid on Goa by the Calcutta Light Horse in 1943, a mission that was not publicly revealed until 1978 due to the unfortunate circumstance that it involved a fairly major violation of Portuguese neutrality. The Calcutta Light Horse was a reserve cavalry regiment that had not seen active duty since the Boer War. In 1943 German U-boats were taking a heavy toll of Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean. They were acting on information broadcast from a transmitter on the German merchant ship Ehrenfels which had been interned at Goa (a tiny Portuguese enclave on the west coast of India). This in itself was a violation of Portuguese neutrality so the British felt justified in taking action but they could not afford to do so openly. A plan was hatched whereby the members of the Calcutta Light Horse, all retired soldiers, would sink the Ehrenfels.

In the film version the plan is hatched by Colonel Lewis Pugh (Gregory Peck) and Captain Gavin Stewart (Roger Moore) of the British SOE, a top-secret intelligence organisation which carried out a variety of what would today be called covert operations. They come up with the plan after having failed to eliminate the German spies passing on the intelligence that was then broadcast to the U-boats by the Ehrenfels.

The Colonel of the Light Horse, Bill Grice (David Niven), is only too eager to get involved, having been turned down for active service due to his age. The other members of the Light Horse are just as old and broken-down, and just as keen. They steal an ancient Indian barge which they then have to sail right around India before reaching their objective. Meanwhile Captain Stewart has got himself involved with a beautiful German spy - there’s no point in having Roger Moore in the movie if he can’t get mixed up with glamorous female spies.

The movie takes quite a while to get to the main action but that’s no problem because there is plenty of minor action to keep things bubbling along happily until then. The movie naturally ends with the sort of spectacular action set-piece that McLaglen was so good at.

Along the way you can have fun spotting all the superb British character actors who fill the supporting roles with such élan. Kenneth Griffith, Trevor Howard, Patrick Macnee, Allan Cuthbertson, Donald Houston - the list is too long to give in full but they’re all clearly having a terrific time. Of course they all over-act, but over-acting never hurt an action adventure movie. Gregory Peck relishes his last opportunity to play an action hero and at the age of 64 shows he can still teach younger actors a few things about how to do these things right. Peck has no problem playing a British officer - his natural speaking voice was rather patrician anyway and he wisely makes no attempt to do anything more in the way of an accent. He shares top billing with Moore and Niven. In 1980 Peck was still a major star, having had a massive hit with The Omen just a few years earlier.

There are plenty of amusing moments but while the operation has a certain comic-opera quality McLaglen wisely does not approach this movie as outright comedy, which might have had the effect of making a far-fetched plot (admittedly based on outrageously unlikely true events) seem merely silly. These old crocks are brave men and the movie treats them with the respect they deserve.

This Anglo-American-Swiss co-production was filmed on location in Germany and India. The budget was obviously quite generous and the action sequences are very impressively mounted. Enormous amounts of small arms ammunition get expended and there are enough explosions to gladden the heart of the most jaded action fan.

Reginald Rose’s screenplay was based on James Leasor’s book on the actual raid. Some of the German survivors of the raid acted as historical advisers.

Warner Home Video’s Region 1 DVD is totally lacking in extras but it does present the movie in a superb 16x9 enhanced transfer, and at a very reasonable price. My only quibble, and it’s a very minor one, is that the DVD cover artwork seems to depict Niven and Moore in German uniform, which they don’t wear at any stage in the film,

The Sea Wolves delivers the goods. This is a consciously heroic movie about some very unlikely heroes. There’s no cynicism here, and its absence is entirely to be welcomed. Great fun and highly recommended.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Battle in Outer Space (1959)

Battle in Outer Space is not one of Ishirô Honda’s most highly regarded movies but it may be his most entertaining work. It really is extraordinarily good fun. This is pure space opera and it’s superbly done.

It’s a movie that hits the ground running, opening with the destruction of a Japanese space station by alien spaceships. We never really find out who these aliens are but we know they intend to conquer the Earth. 

The aliens have the advantage of a super-weapon - a freezing ray. Of course as we all know, if an object’s temperature decreases rapidly its gravity will also decrease rapidly(!) so when the freezing ray hits an object it flies into the air due to its negative gravity. This is the kind of science that makes me love science fiction movies.

The aliens have established an advanced base on the Moon. Fortunately Japan has two advanced spacecraft ready to go and sixteen astronauts from various countries set off to destroy that base. When they reach the Moon they transfer to two very cool moon vehicles. They locate the alien base and a battle ensues. The aliens have another secret weapon - mind control. They can turn people into willing slaves who then serve the aliens. This mind control however only seems to work on a handful of human subjects.

The battle on the Moon is just the beginning. A full-scale attack by the aliens is imminent but Earth scientists (led by the Japanese of course) have constructed rocket fighters to oppose the invasion. Another major battle follows.

You expect that sooner or later Tokyo will get stomped but oddly enough New York is the first target, with much devastation being caused by the alien anti-gravity rays. Tokyo’s turn will come later.

The plot is, as you may have gathered, rather on the thin side. This is not a problem as the movie relies on non-stop action and spectacle and on those counts it delivers the goods so magnificently that the viewer is unlikely to have time to worry about the plot. And too much emphasis on plot would have slowed down the action.

The special effects are variable in quality. There’s some very clumsy use of matte paintings early on. On the whole though the special effects are excellent. There’s some superb miniatures work. The spaceships and the moon rovers look terrific. The destruction caused by the anti-gravity beams is rendered quite cleverly. The buildings hit by the beam can’t just explode in a normal way - they have to explode upwards, and these effects look pretty good.

The sets and costumes look great. The problem of showing the appearance of the aliens, always a potential weakness in a movie of this type, is (very wisely) avoided altogether. The only times we see the aliens they are wearing spacesuits that hide their features completely. They are very small in stature and they don’t move quite like humans and this comes off quite well.

An irritating feature of many Japanese science fiction movies is preachiness. Thankfully Battle in Outer Space mostly avoids this pitfall. There is a message about an external threat causing all the nations of Earth to work together which betrays a rather naïve belief in internationalism but at least there’s no heavy-handed pacifist message. This is a full-scale alien invasion and humanity either fights back or dies.

This movie is bundled with Mothra and The H-Man in Sony’s Icons of Sci-Fi: Toho Collection boxed set. Each movie gets a disc to itself. Battle in Outer Space gets a lovely anamorphic transfer with nicely vibrant colours. Both a Japanese-language version with sub-titles and an English are included, plus a lively and informative (and very respectful) audio commentary by Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski.

Battle in Outer Space is plain old-fashioned fun. Very highly recommended.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Son of Samson (1960)

Son of Samson (Maciste nella valle dei re) dates from 1960 and is a fairly stock-standard peplum made slightly more interesting by a non-standard setting in ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians are being oppressed by their Persian conquerors and the Pharaoh is little more than a puppet. When he shows signs of independence he is murdered. Meanwhile the heir to the throne, Kenamun, has had a chance meeting in the desert with a muscle-bound strongman. Kenamun saves the strongman’s life when he is attacked by a lion, and when another lion appears the strongman returns the favour. In the English dub we are told that this muscle-bound hero’s name is Maciste and that he is the son of Samson. One assumes that the son of Samson bit has been added for the English dub and that in the original Italian version he is simply Maciste. Maciste had been a popular hero in Italian movies as far back as 1914 when he featured in the brilliant epic Cabiria and would have needed no further introduction to Italian audiences.

The heir to the throne has some big problems, caused by the machinations of the obligatory beautiful-but-evil Queen Smedes. She is determined to cement her power by marrying Kenamun. Kenamun has rather inconveniently fallen in love with a humble girl named Nofret, one of a party of women who had been rescued from marauding bad guys by Maciste. Smedes makes Kenamun a gift of a necklace, a necklace with magical powers that causes Kenamun to forget his love for Nofret and his friendship for Maciste.

Maciste arrives in the Egyptian city of Tanis and starts causing mayhem by beating up the palace guards and freeing slaves and others oppressed by the wicked regime. Maciste knows that Kenamun is a good man and that he is not responsible for the evil deeds done in his name but he has to find a way to reach Kenamun. Naturally Maciste is given various opportunities to demonstrate his superhuman strength, single-handedly lifting obelisks and performing other similar feats of strength.

The plot is standard for the genre and features two-dimensional villains and two-dimensional heroes. There’s just enough action to keep things interesting.

One thing that is unusual is the level of graphic violence and gore. It seems quite likely that cuts would have been required at the time and it’s rather fortunate that Retromedia have been able to source their DVD from what we can assume to be an uncut print. 

Mark Forest was an American body-builder from Brooklyn who enjoyed a brief period of stardom in Italy during the peplum boom. He was never likely to win any acting awards but he certainly looks the part. The evil queen is played by Chelo Alonso, a striking Cuban actress popularly known as the Cuban H-bomb. She’s also no great shakes in the acting department but like Forest she has the right look for this type of movie. 

The Egyptian settings provide some surprisingly impressive spectacle, the costumes are handsome and the battle scenes are done quite well considering the limited numbers of extras that the budget was able to furnish.

Director Carlo Campogalliani had made his first Maciste movie more than forty years earlier so as you’d expect he handles the job quite competently.

There are no monsters and the only supernatural elements are the magic necklace plus an old guy who seems to have some limited psychic powers that play no part at all in the plot.

Retromedia have released this movie as part of a double-feature DVD, paired with Son of Cleopatra. Son of Samson gets a 16x9 enhanced transfer. Image quality is adequate with very little print damage. Colours are not quite as bright as one could wish for. Sound quality is fine.

If you’re not a peplum fan then Son of Samson is not the movie that is going to change your mind about the genre. If you are a fan you’ll be reasonably satisfied. This is not in the first rank of such movies but it’s enjoyable enough. Recommended.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (1962)

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is one of the more well-known, or one might more accurately say notorious, low-budget science fiction/horror shockers of its era. That’s largely because of the wonderful title and because it features one of the truly iconic schlock cinema images. Sadly that’s about all this movie has going for it.

It won’t surprise you to know that this is a mad scientist movie. The mad scientist in this case is brilliant young surgeon Dr Bill Kortner. His father is also a surgeon and the elder Dr Kortner is increasingly disturbed by the extremes to which his son’s researches seem to be taking him. He is also alarmed by his son’s willingness to try highly experimental treatments on human subjects. His son’s attitude is the attitude taken by every movie mad scientist worth his salt - he believes that he is a misunderstood genius being held back by the timidity and jealousy of the scientific establishment.

The young surgeon conducts his more esoteric experiments at the family’s secluded country dwelling (which looks like the sort of place that mad scientist in low-budget movies would use for their experiments). Naturally he has an assistant, a man named Kurt who was once a great surgeon, until he lost his arm in an accident. Dr Bill Kortner is particularly interested in the potential of organ and limb transplants and he has replaced Kurt’s missing arm, with unfortunately rather unsatisfactory results.

The young scientist is about to face his greatest challenge, which will also present him with his best opportunity to prove his doubters wrong and to prove triumphantly the correctness of his theories. On the way to his country hideaway/laboratory he crashes his car and his girlfriend Jan is decapitated. To most people this would be a horrific tragedy but to Dr Kortner it’s a minor problem - he has saved Jan’s head so all he has to do is to find another body to which to transplant the head. In the meantime he can keep Jan’s head alive for a couple of days in a dish filled with his new experimental wonder serum. 

The enthusiastic young scientist has already performed several experimental transplants and the less-than-successful results one such experiment are kept locked in a cupboard in his laboratory. The headless Jan discovers that Kortner’s serum gives her some kind of paranormal power to communicate with the monster in the cupboard.

One of the problems Dr Kortner is now going to face is that Jan is not a bit grateful to him for having saved her life. In fact she now hates him for keeping her alive. He hasn’t yet realised this however and he is busily searching for a new body for her, while she sits in her dish and plots revenge.

This is a movie that has a lot of problems. The low budget is one of them. Dr Kortner’s mad scientist laboratory looks like a spare room in which a youngster has assembled the ingredients of a bargain store child’s chemistry set. It’s one of the lamest mad scientist laboratories you’ll ever see.

The acting is terrible, even by Z-movie standards. Worst of all, Dr Bill Kortner is the sleaziest mad scientist of all time. He’s not even sleazy in an interesting way. He is creepy, but again not in an interesting way. We don’t get to know Jan before her unlucky accident so we have no opportunity to develop any empathy for her before she becomes a revenge-crazed monster. There are no sympathetic characters in this movie. There are no heroes and no heroines. It’s difficult to care what happens to any of these rather annoying people.

Writer-director Joseph Green had an incredibly brief career. It’s easy to see why it was so brief. This movie offers no indications that Green possessed any talent whatsoever. This is a movie that is technically slightly more proficient than Ed Wood’s movies, but considerably less fun.

The disembodied head in the dish provides the iconic image I mentioned earlier. It is an effective image but it’s the only memorable thing about an otherwise very dull movie. 

This is one of the four movies in the Shout! Factory / Timeless Media Movies 4 You - More Sci-Fi Classics set. All four movies come on one single-sided DVD. The Brain That Wouldn’t Die gets an acceptable transfer. The lack of extras (apart from one alternate scene) is a little disappointing but the very very low price makes this DVD superb value for money.

The fact that The Brain That Wouldn’t Die is a bad movie is not a major problem for me. There are many bad movies that I thoroughly enjoy. The problem is that it’s a bad movie that isn’t very much fun. I can’t really recommend this one.

Friday, 22 August 2014

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake (1959)

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake is a low-budget American horror movie that displays considerable originality in subject matter. Family curses are par for the course in horror movies but head-hunting Indians and immortal witch doctors are something else.

Jonathan Drake (Eduard Franz) has devoted his life to the study of the occult. His motivation is not curiosity but fear. For more than a hundred years the men of his family have died suddenly, apparently of heart attacks, on reaching the age of sixty. Jonathan Drake knows that these have not been natural deaths. Now his elder brother Kenneth has turned sixty and Jonathan must act immediately if he is to save him. Unfortunately his studies of the occult have not provided him with an answer and he will not be able to save his brother. The question is, will he be able to save himself?

Police Lieutenant Jeff Rowan (Grant Richards) is investigating the death of Kenneth Drake. Rowan does not believe in family curses or any manifestations of the occult. He believes in facts. But this is a case that seems to defy all logic and Jeff Roan may have to reconsider his beliefs.

The Drake family curse resulted from the actions of an ancestor who wiped out an Amazonian Indian tribe after one of the Indians killed a member of his expedition. One member of the tribe escaped, and unfortunately for the Drake family that lone survivor was a witch doctor who had achieved immortality.

The witch doctor Zutai (Paul Wexler) is being aided in his campaign of vengeance by an archaeologist, Dr Emil Zurich (Henry Daniell). Dr Zurich has other secrets, as we will discover.

Lieutenant Jeff Rowan, with some help from Jonathan Drake’s daughter Alison (Valerie French), will have to race against time to find a way to save Jonathan Drake who has already narrowly escaped several attempts on his life from the murderous witch doctor.

The low budget is quite evident. The entire movie was obviously shot on a sound stage and there are only a handful of sets. The special effects are extremely cheap and simple. This does not damage the movie too much. Dr Zurich’s laboratory looks scary and creepy. The flying skulls effect might be dirt cheap but it’s done very well done and looks genuinely scary. The atmosphere of menace and mystery is achieved in a very satisfactory manner.

The makeup for the witch doctor Zutai is rather effectively grotesque. To prove that they were immortal and no longer needed food the witch doctors had their lips sewn up, an effect that certainly looks pretty horrific.

The shrunken heads collected by Zutai and Dr Zurich add a very macabre touch, and by the standards of 1959 they add some surprisingly graphic horror imagery.

The acting is better than you might expect in such a low budget movie. Henry Daniell as Dr Zurich is wonderfully sinister and hams it up outrageously while Paul Wexler delivers some real chills as the silent witch doctor. 

This is one of the four movies in the Shout! Factory / Timeless Media Movies 4 You - Timeless Horror set. All four movies come on one single-sided DVD. The transfer of The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake is unfortunately full-frame but the black-and-white image quality is good. The lack of extras is disappointing but on the other hand the very very low price makes this DVD extremely good value. 

The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake might not be a great horror movie but it is a rather nifty little flick. It has clever ideas, good atmosphere and some subtle but nonetheless effective chills. It’s great fun. Recommended.