Portsmouth, Alien Invasion – Children’s Gas Masks
Jul03

Portsmouth, Alien Invasion – Children’s Gas Masks

Gas attacks were a constant threat from the Squirmy Munge although it was the inconvenience rather than the actual effectiveness of it as a weapon that most affected Portsmouth’s citizens as the general wind conditions coming off the Solent to the south and from Portsdown Hill to the north generally helped to dilute the harm down to a breathing irritant. Whilst records of the time cannot be confirmed it is widely believed that deaths directly attributable to gas attacks during the alien invasion are probably only four or five. Nevertheless, it was important for the island’s people to be prepared for all eventualies and that included children, of course. The image above is from the quarterly catalogue sent out by G.H. Kay’s department store in Southsea advertising a range of gas masks designed for...

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Discs Of Despair
May19

Discs Of Despair

In 1969 an independent publisher called Flimflam Books put an advert in local newspapers across the Pacific Northwest area of America looking for authors willing to engage in a novel (no pun intended) revenue-sharing scheme. One of the first books that appeared in the stores of Seattle in early 1970 as a result of this advertisement was Discs of Despair by E.C. Clamp. Discs of Despair followed the story of two best friends, George and Henry, abducted by a UFO whilst playing with their flying disc on a beach at twilight. They effect an escape from the craft, destroying it in the process, but in doing so find themselves stranded on an alien planet. With just what they can salvage from the wreckage, their wits, and their disc to keep them occupied they search for a way home that ends up taking them through interstellar portals and eventually into a bloodthirsty disc-throwing competition with family members of the aliens who originally captured them. The novel revenue-sharing scheme revolved around playing rock-paper-scissors to determine cut of the profits. E.C. Clamp lost all three rounds against the publishing house and ended up with no royalties from sales of the book. This experience turned Clamp off writing for the rest of his...

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Portsmouth, Alien Invasion – Tripods And Mail
Dec12

Portsmouth, Alien Invasion – Tripods And Mail

Keeping spirits up was vitally important during the alien invasion of Portsmouth by the Squirmy Munge and no time was more important than during the hot summer of 1920 when the invaders strode up out of the Solent in their tripod war machines and caused havoc across much of Eastney. The concerted effort to push back the aliens by Portsmouth locals as well as a battalion of volunteers from Hayling Island (who feared the Squirmy Munge might turn their attentions towards their beaches too) endured for almost a month and relatives of all those fighting for the freedom of the coastal city made sure to send plenty of mail to the soldiers. Delivering that correspondence were the South Hampshire Mail Girls, a group of women from the north of Portsmouth – Wymering and Drayton for the most part – who would pick up sacks of letters day and night and race through the war-torn island city on whatever vehicles were at hand (and even by foot during the last days of the Great Pushback when all vehicles were commandeered to drag ropes and chains around the tripod legs to trip them up). Always welcome because of what written comfort they delivered, the Sham Gals (as they became known) were also famously dressed revealingly because of the summer’s heat and so brought with them a snippet of visual pleasure too to the men and women on the front...

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Aliens On Vacation: 1960s
Oct11

Aliens On Vacation: 1960s

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Close Encounters And Other Movie Title Translations
Sep03

Close Encounters And Other Movie Title Translations

I happened upon an old Japanese poster for the science fiction movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind recently (pictured below) and was pleased to see it contained the title that the film was released under in Japan. If you’re not familiar with the Japanese language then it roughly says “The aliens who keep stealing our stuff are back” which, I think you’ll agree, is a much more descriptive title for the immensely flawed (yet enjoyable) film. Close Encounters isn’t the only film with a better title in a foreign market release. Here are a few others you might already know: 1972’s science fiction movie Silent Running was known in Iceland as Crazy Space Gardener. The distributors of 1980’s Caddyshack in Portugal knew they’d get better attendance with a film called Disruptive Golf Course Rodent. Also from 1980, the comedy 9 To 5 became known in Saudi Arabia as This Is Why Women Should Not Work In Offices. Fantastic Voyage was given a 1966 release in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) as Very Small Donald Pleasence Movie. It was the same reverence for the actor that also saw Upper Volta give a 1980 release for The Pumaman as Donald Pleasence Versus The Flying Man And The Giant. The excellent 1982 Steve Martin movie Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid has a wonderfully surreal title in English but in Nepalese it makes far more sense as Monochromatic Film With Most Amusing Coffee-Making Scene. In 1989 the modern classic Road House was released and the following year saw the film make an appearance in Honduras as Incompetent Doorman Keeps Getting Employed. The distributors of Afghanistan were obviously a little confused with Andrei Tarkovsky’s Solaris in 1972, hence the title of its limited release, Not Entirely Certain What Is Happening Outer Space Film. Of course, you can’t have a list of oddly-translated movie titles without including (and finishing off with) 1977’s surprise hit, Star Wars. In Lesotho: The Princess In The Sky Ball. In Tonga: Colourful Sword Warriors In Space. In Czechoslovakia: Gold Robot And White Robot In Robot Story. And, finally, in Guyana, demonstrating that sometimes cinema distributors just use the posters as guidelines: White Couple Erotic Adventures In The Great Black...

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Portsmouth, Alien Invasion – Air Corps
Mar14

Portsmouth, Alien Invasion – Air Corps

The defence of Portsmouth during the alien invasion by the Squirmy Munge wasn’t simply limited to the home or street patrols; the island city had itself a small but well-prepared, well-cared-for, and very effective air force operating out of the area that would naturally become Portsmouth Airport after the war. Linda Matheson was probably the most well-known of the Portsmouth Air Corps pilots. Her tenacity and bravery in air combat led to rapid promotion and she was often mobbed for autographs when spotted out and about in the city. In the air she flew over one hundred and thirty sorties. Actual enemy kills were difficult to confirm as the Munge attack craft were incredibly robust and fitted out with advanced shielding; the aliens would most often retreat before receiving significant damage and on the rare occasions when the air corps inflicted enough hits the Munge machines would explode forcefully enough to not leave any remains at...

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