Search - Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock (Story 92) on DVD

Doctor Who: Horror of Fang Rock (Story 92)
Doctor Who Horror of Fang Rock
Story 92
Actors: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson
Director: Paddy Russell
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Cult Movies
NR     2005     1hr 31min

The Doctor and Leela become top suspects in the mysterious deaths that occur when an eerie fog engulfs the Fang Rock lighthouse in this turn-of-the-century adventure.


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Movie Details

Actors: Tom Baker, Louise Jameson
Director: Paddy Russell
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Television, Cult Movies
Sub-Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Drama, Science Fiction, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Studio: BBC Video / Warner Bros.
Format: DVD - Color - Closed-captioned
DVD Release Date: 09/06/2005
Original Release Date: 09/29/1975
Theatrical Release Date: 09/29/1975
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 11
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English

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Movie Reviews

Ten Little Indians in a lighthouse
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 08/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Season 15 opens with what has been aptly described as Agatha Christie's Ten Little Indians set in a lighthouse in the early days of the 20th century. Vince Hawkins, an amiable enough young man and one of three employees at a lighthouse on Fang Rock, sees an object fall towards the sea. Three things happen immediately after: One, there's a "fog coming up here like it's nobody's business." Two, Ben, the electrician, is electrocuted. Three, the TARDIS arrives with the Doctor and Leela.Reuben, the stout oldster of the group, is initially suspicious of the Doctor and Leela, but when she tells the Doctor of a glowing creature she saw, he attributes it to the Beast of Fang Rock, which according to legend, killed two lighthouse employees and drove one mad back in the 1820's. He prefers oil to electricity, as the lights keep playing up, and has that experienced instinct of looking at the sky to see if there's going to be any fog.Ben's body then vanishes, but before long, comes another crisis.
A yacht crashes aboard the rocks after one of the electricity foul-ups. The survivors are the arrogant Lord Palmerdale, a millionaire and crook, Colonel Skinsale, an MP who gave Palmerdale inside information in exchange for tearing up his IOU's, Adelaide Lesage, Palmerdale's high-strung secretary, and Harker the coxswain. It is he who finds Ben's body, which has had a post-mortem done on it. There then follows probably the highest casualty rate of any Who story.Great dialogue by the Doctor: "localized condition of planetary atmospheric condensation caused a malfunction in the visual circuits." He then gives the simpler answer: "We got lost in the fog." To the members of the yacht in the crew room: "Gentlemen, I've got news for you. This lighthouse is under attack and by morning, we might all be dead. Anyone interested?" Leela to Palmerdale: "You'll do as the Doctor instructs or I'll cut out your heart!" Whoa, better not mess with her!Trivia: As Louise Jameson complained of the brown contact lenses she had to wear, the end of the story did away with the necessity of that accoutrement.An intensely atmospheric, suspenseful story that slowly builds up in Episodes 3 and 4."
"The hero isn't saving many lives"
Jason A. Miller | New York, New York USA | 02/13/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Horror of Fang Rock" is one of "Doctor Who"'s creepier entries. It proves that a story made on styrofoam sets, with a monster so poorly made that the props kept melting under the studio lights, can still be edge-of-your-seat viewing. The TARDIS lands on a rocky outcrop under a lighthouse on the same night that an alien invasion fleet's advance scout crash-lands into the sea. A team of doomed lighthouse keepers, derived from a sub-Coleridge turn-of-the-century ballad, falls easy prey to the shape-shifting, electricity-wielding creature, as does a yacht full of bickering aristocrats also stranded on the isle.

The story opens the 4th (and exact middle) of Tom Baker's seven seasons as the Doctor. As a midway point to the Baker years, "Fang Rock" is intriguing in that it not only hearkens back to the gothic horror of his earlier years, but also serves as a window on the series' future mayhem, when Baker the actor would start acting against the scripts and run amok of the producers' control. The DVD release pays detailed attention to Baker's on-set flareups, while demonstrating how he could still produce great on-screen moments when working with the right people -- actress Louise Jameson and director Paddy Russell.

The commentary track sizzles with tales on on-set strife generated by Baker, if you're into learning that stor of thing. Jameson (companion Leela) provides excellent audio, balancing detailed production anecdotes with an intelligent critique of the story, almost 30 years later. She gives a far more satisfactory origin of the name "Leela" than did Leela's creator, writer Chris Boucher, on the "Robots of Death" DVD some years back. Terrance Dicks, always a hoot on DVD, lavishes praise over elements of his own script, while laughing off other elements of the story. If he likes a cliffhanger (the end of Part Three, a funereal Baker oratory), he takes full credit; if he thinks the cliffhanger landed on the wrong beat (the end of Part Two, when two characters awkwardly embrace against an off-camera scream), he'll cheerfully blame the director. Third wheel John Abbott, who played the youngest of the lighthouse keepers, has neither lot to do in the story nor to say on the commentary track, but he does give an interesting account of what it was like for a rookie actor to intrude on Baker's turf.

The best of the extra features is the 35-minute documentary on Terrance Dicks' "Who" career, featuring interviews with producer Barry Letts, old series writer Louis Marks, and current series writer Paul Cornell. Cornell gives a great breakdown of what made the "Fang Rock" script work so aggressively well ("The story has three McGuffins... and two of them are used to defeat the third"). DW book editor Peter Darvill-Evans, who looked nothing at all like I imagined (more like Ric Ocasek than Charles Dickens), describes Dicks' contribution to several decades' worth of DW novels. The closing credits feature a fabulous montage of every iteration of the Dicks-coined phrase "reverse the polarity of the neutron flow", against Jon Pertwee's observation that you could sing the line to the tune of "The Sailor's Hornpipe".

Now that "Doctor Who" has graduated into the 21st century and is working on its second season of new episodes, with modern production values and British TV's most celebrated writers, an episode like "Fang Rock" can easily sink into irrelevance alongside last season's gothic horror fests "The Unquiet Dead" and "The Empty Child". However, aided by the usual wonderful set of extra features, this DVD reminds those of us who've been in the "Who" fandom game for a while just how we got here in the first place."
Thomas E. O'Sullivan | Knoxville, Maryland United States | 09/20/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Some times the best way to generate drama and suspense is to simply lock people into a room and whisper: MONSTER - and watch what happens.

THE HORROR OF FANG ROCK does this, and does it very well. Although scripted in a rush, and filmed in circles (it does take place in a lighthouse), rarely does it get dizzy and lose its balance. The story is focused, the tension is tight, and while most of the plots don't hold together all the way through, by the time the story ends its somehow managed to work, and work very well. And what's more - it's one of the few DOCTOR WHO stories (perhaps the ONLY one) where everyone but the series regulars are killed, or die. Grim, downbeat, yet still full of adventure and creep it's a nearly perfect period piece.

The DVD comes with all the bells and whistles we've come to expect from these releases. Commentary, with Louise Jameson, John Abott and Terrance Dicks is solid and fact filled, but like many of the commentaries on these DVD's they could really benefit from a moderator. There are trains of thought and interesting stories that get lost or trampled on by those present and it can be frustrating (especially when Jameson remarks that HORROR is one story where she and Tom Baker had a serious falling out. She says she was saving the story for when the scene that nearly busted up the pair came up - but it came and went without comment - either she forgot, thought better of it, or it was edited out). Text commentary repeats some of the audio commentary word for word, while other times it expands on something you've already heard or know.

Although the highlight for me on this release is the way too short THE ANTIQUE DOCTOR WHO SHOW where fans and collectors bring their DOCTOR WHO fortunes and finds to be reviewed. The highlight of which is an original typewritten script (with handwritten notes) for what would become THE RESCUE during the First Doctor's run - featuring TANNI, who would become VICKI filling in for SUSAN who left in THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH (confused yet?).

THE HORROR OF FANG ROCK would be the last of its kind for some time on DOCTOR WHO. STAR WARS would alter the shows pacing and storytelling for years to come, and it wouldn't be until the Fifth Doctor's BLACK ORCHID that the series would return to a true period piece played simply for story and style. But until that story is finally released, THE HORROR OF FANG ROCK is one of the best, and a must for fans and those new to the series.

VERY Highly Reccomended!
C. C. Cotham | Austin, Tx United States | 10/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you're like me, you'll remember watching DOCTOR WHO every day on PBS, unable to resist tuning in again after the previous day's nail-biting cliff-hanger. If that sounds like you, then this DVD is a must-buy. This one's an excellent example of what DOCTOR WHO did best, and why it kept so many of us entertained for a half hour every afternoon.

DOCTOR WHO was never a lavish production, and it was always best when it knew how to work with its limitations. It never had a big budget or gigantic sets, but this adventure shows how that was used as an advantage. In this one, a small cast of characters gets trapped in a spooky haunted lighthouse, with a monster slithering in the shadows, killing them one by one..... The Doctor has to figure out how to defeat the monster, while the body count starts climbing. It's a classic recipe for suspense, well-executed - and I'd seriously reccomend this to many modern, over-financed film-makers as an object lesson in how to do that right. It doesn't hurt that the actors are all top notch (especially series stars Tom Baker and Louise Jameson), and that they're given some great snappy dialogue. This is supposedly a science fiction show, but the result is some great combination of horror, murder-mystery, and Masterpiece Theatre.

The picture and sound quality are amazing, considering how old these shows are. But I honestly found some of the DVD bonus material took away a little of the show's excitement by examing it in more detail than I wanted to know. If you're at all interested in production trivia, you'll probably love the lengthy interviews with the production crew, and the technical notes - but I thought they took away some of the 'magic' of the show, even more than seeing the strings holding up a spaceship.
And, while I thought it was cute, I didn't see the relevance of the sketch starring the little puppet fox.

Its obvious, watching it nowadays, that DOCTOR WHO was made in a very different time and place than the one we live in now, here in 21st Century USA. But no matter what's changed in television and technology, this show is still exciting, and loads of fun to watch. It's even better on DVD, because there's none of that awful waiting for tomorrow to see how each cliff-hanger resolves itself. If you're like anyone in my household, you won't be able to resist watching it all in one go."