HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
   
 
Newest Articles
Completely Different: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 2 on Blu-ray
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
   
 
  Monster of Highgate Ponds, The Better Than A Pet RockBuy this film here.
Year: 1961
Director: Alberto Cavalcanti
Stars: Roy Vicente, Ronald Howard, Rachel Clay, Michael Wade, Terry Raven, Frederick Piper, Michael Balfour, Beryl Cooke
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Uncle Dick (Ronald Howard) has arrived back in London after spending time away in Malaya, investigating the local flora and fauna there for the British Museum, and he's brought back a lot of stuff that needs unpacking. After visiting his nephew David (Michael Wade) and niece Sophie (Rachel Clay) they persuade him to allow them to help him with the artefacts, taking along Chris (Terry Raven), David's best friend. On arriving in the storeroom, Uncle Dick puts them to work, but what's this in a packing crate - a large egg?

The Children's Film Foundation were unafraid to seek out new innovations in their storytelling, although they still had to operate within their low budget means, which was why a work such as The Monster of Highgate Ponds was as amusing as it was. Not only because watching it from this distance offered a fascinating glimpse into the past in Britain, where children really did say things like "May I go out for half an hour before prep, mother?" to their parents at the dinner table, but because this was one of the foundation's forays into actual fantastical territory, and not simply some bloke dressed up as the resident ghost.

For as we all know, anyone like that is a wrong 'un and likely has something to hide such as a smuggling operation which will be exposed by the end of the film. Here, on the other hand, was a different kind of adventure where that egg which David looks after for Uncle Dick when the latter is away for a while on business hatches, and a stop motion dinosaur emerges. Not quite Ray Harryhausen quality, but not without charm either, thanks to its animation being produced by the British company Halas and Batchelor who after their attempts to follow up their debut feature Animal Farm came to naught, made this instead.

Apparently director Alberto Cavalcanti saw making this as a bit of a comedown after his earlier, more prestigious work which sad to say you can imagine being the mindset of many a CFF director whose career had seen better days, but with the husband and wife team of producers seeing to it that everything was composed to their satisfaction, it was by no means the disaster Alberto thought he was getting involved with. Indeed, the monster itself was a fine creation, starting as a little puppet and gradually getting larger until it turned into a man in a costume: pity the stuntman having to spend his time up to his neck in the ponds of the title.

It wouldn't be a CFF movie without antagonists, and here there were three. First, an old busybody with a yappy dog who keeps turning up at the worst possible times, usually when the creature is swimming with the boys which leads her to threaten to ruin their fun by calling the authorities. The other two were more significant, a couple of carnies who want an attraction for their sideshow and insist on trying to kidnap the monster - named "Beauty" by David, oddly - though frankly they're so inept it's a miracle they get as far into their scheme as they do. Something else notable was that in spite of this trio of menaces and all that water around, not one of them topples into the ponds, a real missed opportunity there, though perhaps H&B were seeking to break the mould with a bold new vision. Another thing they could have done was anticipate Gorgo by featuring Beauty going on the rampage through the capital, but it's a very obedient monster who only eats fish (kippers, natch). All the right people (and monsters) are well-mannered here.

[This film is available on the BFI's Weird Tales DVD compilation along with The Boy Who Turned Yellow and A Hitch in Time. Also included is a booklet containing amusing essays on the material.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 2394 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: