League Of Gentlemen's Apocalypse (2005) - Review By Curtis Owen

Don't watch this film! And whatever you do, don’t read this review! This is a local film for local people. There's nothing for ‘you’ to see HERE!  After the success of their much-adored TV series,’ The League of Gentlemen’ (Mark Gatiss, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith and Jeremy Dyson) wanted to expand the wonderful world of Royston Vasey by injecting it with new and imaginative ideas. Shuffling away from the limitations of television, they decided to make a full-blown horror movie! What demonic tribulations would they conjure with their sickly imaginations?

With Royston Vasey on the brink of Armageddon, the characters of Hilary Briss, Lemuel Blizzard and Geoff find salvation through a doorway to another universe. They discover that they are just ‘characters’ from a TV show. As they want to survive they hunt down their creators. Kidnapping Steve, the characters try to convince him to write a Royston Vasey film. Steve rejects their demands, as the writers want to move away from the series. They are working on another idea called ‘The Kings Evil’ about three extravagantly dressed Catholic assassins and an evil wizard called Dr. Pea that wish to overthrow the protestant King. The world of Royston Vasey, the new script and the real world collide in a whirlwind of chaos, disorder and mayhem. As none of the characters want to fade away, they will do anything to survive. Geoff begins to read the new script and literally gets lost in it.

Fade Out.

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Interior. Castle. London. 1690.

 

Sinister music pierces the candle-riddled room beneath the castle. A colossal figure dressed in a regal red robe stands in the middle of the room. Opening its garment it gradually walks down a pair of steps that were hidden under the article of clothing.

 

DR PEA

I know what black and bloody business brings

YOU to the house of Dr Pea!!!

 

The three catholic assassins are nervous.

 

SIR NICHOLAS SHEET-LIGHTNING

If you are cognisant of our plot, Dr Pea, then, pray tell, can you help us?

 

DR PEA

Help you assassinate the Protestant King?

 

 

Dr Pea laughs scornfully in their faces.

 

Through his demonic magic Dr Pea can summon a beast called a ‘homunculus’ whose skin will weep poison when touched. The only problem, the catholic assassins need to give Dr Pea a bit of their body to summon the creature, clippings from one of their toenails, a cup of drool and two eyes.

 

DR PEA

The creature has to see, sweetie.

 

Dr Pea begins to cook the stew with a feminine apron. Pouring the contents into a demonic pentagram on the floor. He steps away.

 

DR PEA

(Moving his arms into the air and closing his eyes)

It begins…

 

Dramatic music invades the air. A few seconds pass. Nothing happens. Silence. The three catholic assassins look at Dr Pea, waiting for something to happen.

 

DR PEA

(Opening eyes)

…in a minute.

 

The creature is born from green vapor. The homunculus is ready to kill the protestant king.

 

----------

 

‘I have hesitated to mention this before. But well you know, I have certain acquaintances of a diabolic nature’

(Sir Nicholas Sheet-Lightning referring to Dr Pea played by David Warner)

 

The wonderful off-the-wall dialogue and over-the-top physical humour of Dr Pea is ideal stomping ground for an actor like David Warner. Hamming up his performance in a concert of craziness. He commands a strange regal presence, with his expressionistic eyes, his black wig, the oddly shaped goatee-beard, his big black bushy eyebrows and a monotone voice like Severus Snape (Alan Rickman from the Harry Potter Films). It’s a devilish performance. Working in theatre for many years playing Hamlet he is able to inject an authority to his role. Warner brings an array of fantastical dialogue to life, words like ‘fubsy’, ‘jest’, ‘bequeathing’ and ‘homunculus’ seem to dance on his tongue. Even though he doesn’t have much screen time to develop this malevolent majestic magician into a hearty bad guy, when Dr Pea does appear, Warner brings all his flair to the forefront.

It’s a shame that David Warner doesn’t get to don his comedy hat very often, when he does, his timing is sublime, physical humour silly but also understated. His first scene, in which he conjures the homunculus from a toenail, a cup of drool and two eyeballs, is one of the funniest in the movie. Dressed in a frilly white apron, with his glasses hanging off his nose, he mixes the concoction around the cauldron. Bouncing around in a delighted fashion he empties the drool and licks it from his finger. He commented on his performance in the film by saying, ‘It is a real change for me; it gives me a chance to be a bit stupid! I like to do comedy but rarely get asked to do it so to have the opportunity to do something like The League Of Gentlemen and hopefully make people laugh is great.[1]

At the end of the movie, Dr Pea appears on horseback, brandishing a sword and a feathered hat. He commands a gigantic three-headed creature in the style of Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animation. The poisonous blood of the monster kills him, transforming him into a pea that is squashed into the mud. Warner is magnificent as the mischievous magician, making Dr Pea an iconic villain in the cannon of his illustrious career.

’They wrote a part especially for me, which is very flattering. A few years ago they invited me to be in their TV Christmas special but I couldn't do it as I was living and working in America at the time.[2]

 


[1] http://www.leagueofgentlemen.co.uk/newopen1.shtml

[2] http://www.leagueofgentlemen.co.uk/newopen1.shtml

 

 

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