Click here to return to the main site.

DVD Review


Tales of the Fourth Dimension


Starring: Richard O'Brien
Ghost Films
Certificate: TBC
Available 01 December 2008

Tales of the Fourth Dimension is a collection of five short films thematically linked through the idea of time. Each segment is introduced by Richard O’Brian and, if it has to be pigeonholed, think of Rod Sterling’s Nightgallery or any number of anthology shows.

The collection appears to have been made on a semi-pro basis, by Ghost Films Production, I say this as the quality of both acting and production can be quite variable, although most of the actors have appeared professionally on both stage and screen. At times it’s easy to think that you are watching a made for television show with its associated production values, whilst at other times either the production or the acting can let a story down. The first five stories have a combined running time of 1 hr, 23 min, 48 sec.

Ghostwriters and in 1977 Voyager is launched, taking with it a collection of sights and sounds from our planet, including the collected works of Shakespeare, in the hope that some distant race will one day discover the tiny craft. Unfortunately the craft falls through a black hole and ends up in the garden of a poor and struggling playwright. Ok! So it doesn’t take an Einstein to work out who the struggling author is, or does it? This is a well acted and very wickedly scripted piece whose ending will make you laugh as it turns on its head the story you think you’re watching.

The Big Time tells the story of Stan, a young man who is pinning all his future hopes on getting an audition as drummer to a then unknown Sixties Liverpool band who are just off to break into the big time with a gig in Hamburg. For Stan though, both his past and his present will conspire to prevent him reaching that audition.

Leonardo’s Vision is the first of two stories featuring Josh and Ed, two of the most unlikely paranormal investigators. In this tale they end up in Berkshire, where Josh is convinced that a convergence of ley lines will allow him to peek into the past to see Leonardo. Although the plan works it does it in a way Josh was not expecting. Whereas the first two stories are played pretty straight the two Josh and Ed episodes rely very much in you finding the two main characters funny. I will concede that they are amusing whilst at the same time overacting just a tad.

The Witching Hour, and once more Josh and Ed are on the case. This time, whilst driving through the Scottish highlands, their SatNav starts talking directly to them warning them of imminent danger which leads to a cautionary tale about the dangers of picking up strangers.

The Last Chance Saloon is another take on Groundhog Day. Jem is in his local pub bemoaning the loss of his job, as the company was looking for someone more dynamic. From this point on time starts to repeat itself. Although the piece does have a charm of its own, I not sure of the logic in using the same idea as such a classic film.

The disc comes with extras which consist of a further two episodes.

Play Time (20 min) and things are not going well at the Playtime toy factory. This is another of the stories which strives for comedy. When the company can’t come up with a new toy, a strange old man appears offering them a watch which can stop time. Is it me or wasn’t this a H.G Wells story, ok not as a comedy though. With such a great gift, our hero uses it to get petty revenge on his workmates, but then revenge can work both ways.

The Windmill (20 min, 17 sec) Dean visits his brother in a psychiatric hospital, a former architect who claims to see the future. To pass the time he builds a scaled model of the windmill that sits outside his hospital window.

With a little more polish I don’t see why such an anthology series couldn’t make it onto television; some of the stories are well acted even if a few of the ideas are a little long in the tooth. The best of the bunch are The Windmill, The Big Time and Ghostwriters.


Charles Packer