Daleks – Invasion Picturehouse 2013AD

who If you want to wind up Doctor Who fans, do what HARRY POTTER  director David Yates did last year. Tell them you’re making a Doctor Who movie. Better yet, tell them you’re recasting The Doctor. Then retire to a safe distance, and avoid the sparks of apoplexy flying at you out of anything connected to the internet.

… the Thals fight back, gleefully flinging squealing Daleks down ramps …

And yet, this has already happened. At the height of Dalekmania, The Doctor appeared in two films from Milton Subotsky’s Amicus stable, played by that celebrated gentleman of British genre cinema, Peter Cushing. DR. WHO AND THE DALEKS (1965) adapted Terry Nation’s serial The Daleks, with some reinventions. The Doctor is now a human, called literally “Dr. Who” (we’re never told his first , although I like to imagine it’s Maurice). He’s invented a time machine (disguised as a police call box) with his granddaughters Susan and Barbara. Barbara’s bumbling boyfriend Ian (Roy Castle before he became a Record Breaker) pratfalls into Dr. Who’s TARDIS, accidentally catapulting them onto a alien planet. Skaro has been ravaged by a nuclear war between everyone’s favourite tin Nazis, and the peace loving Thals (humanoids with uniform gold bobs and shiny eye make-up) who the Daleks seek to eradicate. But Dr. Who and his companions help the Thals fight back, gleefully flinging squealing Daleks down ramps or gumming up their eye-stalks with food. Overall a fun, light romp, ideal for a bank holiday afternoon.
The following year saw Cushing in another adaptation of a TV serial, this time The Dalek Invasion of Earth; now the punchier title DALEKS – INVASION EARTH 2150AD. Special Constable Tom Campbell (childrens’ TV legend Bernard Cribbins), on patrol near a robbery that he fails to prevent, stumbles into what appears to be an ordinary police phone box, only to find Dr. Who and Susan, along with his niece Louise. Together, they travel the year 2150AD. However, they find London in ruins. Pockets of humans fend off roving gangs of Robomen (humans in cheap fetish gear and mind-control bike helmets), and their slave masters – The Daleks.

We’re in 2150 AD (albeit with Sugar Puffs posters everywhere)

Dr. Who and the TARDIS crew join forces with the human resistance in a race to a mine in Bedfordshire, where the purpose of the Daleks’ invasion lays buried. Apparently it failed to set box-offices alight, but personally I think it’s by far the better of the two. In common with most pre-2001 sci-fi, it’s more convincing when something Earthbound is needed, rather than imagining some far-flung alien world. We’re in 2150 AD (albeit with Sugar Puffs posters everywhere), but it’s clearly the remnants of Blitz London, adding an extra note of post-war grit to proceedings.

They’re light on the puzzle-box storytelling we have from Who now, but these films must have been wonderful fun if you were a child in the mid 60’s. Where the TV show gave us chiaroscuro eeriness, these films treat us to riotous Technicolour, with a rainbow of Daleks (decades before the much derided “Skittles” models of Matt Smith’s first season). But the main draw is Peter Cushing, who is kindly and playful in a way that he was all too rarely allowed to be.