Sunday, 1 November 2015

Film Report: Zygon (Doctor Who Spin-off)

Zygon (2008)
Director: Bill Baggs
1 hour

As I write the Zygons are in the middle of a major comeback in a two-part Doctor Who adventure.  This follows on from a successful reintroduction in the 2013 50th anniversary special The Day of the Doctor.  Before that they hadn't been seen since their one and only screen appearance forty years ago in the 1975 Tom Baker classic Terror of the Zygons written by Robert Banks Stewart.  But actually they sort of had, because in 2008 they featured in their own made-for-DVD spin-off story called Zygon.

Background: When Doctor Who was off air during the 1990s and through to 2005, a production company called BBV run by Bill Baggs specialised in putting together made-for-video productions for content-starved fans featuring Doctor Who associated tie-ins.

This began tentatively with original non-Doctor Who related stories starring lead actors who had been involved in the series.  From 1992 to 1995 there was a series of stories featuring a Doctor-Who-like character called "The Stranger" played by former Doctor Colin Baker whose assistant initially was former companion Nicola Bryant.  And in 1993 Jon Pertwee, Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davison starred in an original thriller called The Airzone Solution.

In 1994 BBV managed to gain the rights to use the character of Liz Shaw who had assisted Jon Pertwee's Doctor for his first series in 1970.  Original actress Caroline John played her again in a set of stories collectively called PROBE (the first couple of which were written by Mark Gatiss) although no other elements or references to the wider world of the Doctor Who universe were allowed to be used.  The productions continued with a trilogy of stories featuring UNIT and the Autons.

BBV were able to obtain permission to use isolated elements from the Doctor Who universe because often the rights to characters and monsters are owned by the original writer of the serial in which they first appeared.

This brings us on to the final (to date) BBV production in 2008 called Zygon.  This original story had no former Doctor Who actors involved, but featured the evil alien race of shape-shifters.  Although as before there are no other references to the wider Doctor Who universe.

(As far as I'm aware) Zygon stands out as the only BBV production to use nudity (both male and female) in the story which of course is why it comes up for special attention here.

Plot Outline: Electrician Michael Kirkwood (Daniel Harcourt) has been having disturbing dreams about being a shape-changing monster he calls a Zygon.  He seeks treatment from a young hospital psychiatrist called Lauren Anderson (Jo Castleton) who becomes intrigued about his case and seeks a psychological explanation for his recurring fantasy.  When Lauren is taken off Michael's case by her boss, she and Michael continue to see one another and fall in love.  Weird things start happening and it becomes clear that Michael's nightmares are in fact real and represent a suppressed memory of his true self as a Zygon infiltrator called Kritakh who became stuck in his human shape retaining no conscious awareness of his true self.  Michael's former Zygon partner Torlakh, in his human form of Bob Calhoun (Keith Drinkel), contacts Lauren and imbues her with the abilities of a Zygon allowing her to discover the intoxicating power of being able to pretend to be whomever she pleases.  Torlakh will stop at nothing to restore Michael's memories to enable them to fulfil the mission they were sent to Earth to accomplish.

The scenes involving nudity are as follows:-

Scene 1
Jo Castleton (Lauren) - Topless and full frontal nudity in a bedroom with Michael as they start to have sex and his hand starts to glow and turn alien.

Scene 2
Jo Castleton (Lauren) - topless and rear nudity when she leaves the bedroom in distress after Michael tries to strangle her in his sleep

Scene 3
Lucy Lockly (Wife) - topless as she undresses in front of her husband (Matt Montgomery) unaware that he is really Lauren in shape-changing disguise - then laying contentedly asleep on the sofa after the sex as Lauren wakes up as herself.
Jo Castleton (Lauren) - topless waking up on a sofa with a naked woman whom she just had sex with in the guise of the woman's husband.

Scene 4
Jo Castleton (Lauren) - Topless as she looks at herself contemplatively in a mirror after she has had a shower - then topless as she gets onto the bed and sits up hugging her knees thinking about recent events.

Jo Castleton

Jo Castleton is the film's main star.  Her other credits include an episode of Doctors and other earlier BBV productions.

Lucy Lockly

Lucy Lockly only appears in one scene.  She has no other credits on IMDB.

Zygon is a competently made story that is worth a look.  It would make a fairly interesting low-budget sci-fi/horror story film even without the Zygon connection (they could have easily just used generic shape changing aliens and called them something else).

The Zygon creatures themselves are only sparingly seen in the story and nearly all of the time they are in human form.


The use of overt nudity in a Doctor Who related drama may be unexpected and surprising but at least with Zygon the scenes were to an extent story-led.  The same cannot be said for an earlier and far less worthy effort from another company that unofficially used the Daleks.

Abducted By The Daleks made in 2005 basically featured naked girls being kidnapped and mistreated by Daleks.  The BBC understandably took action against this and tried to have it banned.  The makers re-released it with the cover title changed to Abducted By The Daloids although in every other respect it is still the Daleks.

It is a 55-minute film that was apparently written by "Billy Hartnell", produced by "Patrick Baker" and directed by "Don Skaro".

For this I'll give a full synopsis (therefore spoilers)
It follows the usual horror trope of a group of young people (in this case four women in skimpy dresses: Katarzyna Zelnik, Eliza Borecka, Sonja Karina and Linda Black) finding themselves stranded somewhere remote.  The four girls are driving along a main forest road at night.  Naturally the car breaks down and they have to go into the creepy fogbound woods looking for help.  They don't know it yet but they are under observation by Daleks in a spaceship who decide this quartet will make ideal specimens with which to study Earthlings for weaknesses.  Isabella becomes separated from the others and decides to take her dress off (don't know why) and walk around naked.  She is the first to be teleported to the Dalek ship where she finds herself at the mercy of strange machine-like beings who demand she obey.  Back in the forest Sylvia and Barbara get sidetracked from looking for Isabella to engage in some naked lesbianism in the middle of which they too get teleported to the ship.  The Daleks get nowhere interrogating the three girls so they teleport up Anna whom they impel with menaces to be their agent and take over the interrogation dressed as a dominatrix with a whip.  The Daleks get riled when this is unsuccessful and exterminate their three prisoners whilst Anna escapes and teleports back down to the forest.  But there has been a malfunction and she looks completely different (now played by another actress) and she has also become naked and her accent has changed.  She walks around and is captured by a perverted hunter who ties her to a tree and molests her.  Then she is found by a humanoid alien who likes to skin humans alive.  She is saved from this fate when the Daleks teleport the alien to their ship and exterminate it.  Anna finds her way to a police station and makes her report still naked although it turns out the police officers are in league with the Daleks who recapture her ... THE END

It is listed as a UK-made production and the dialogue is in English but a couple of the girls speak in thick East European accents and seem to struggle a bit with the dialogue.

Eliza Borecka

One of the other actresses (Eliza Borecka) seems to have a regional UK accent which is hard to pin down (maybe one from Northern Ireland).  She did the best acting job of the bunch but I haven't established if she has any actual UK links - her credits don't show any UK films so unless she is known under a different name perhaps she was simply a good enough actress to do different accents.

Linda Black also sounds like she comes from the UK - however she gets replaced about two thirds of the way through by another actress called Maria Vaslova by explanation of a teleport malfunction which changes her appearance to that of the new actress who now speaks with a thick accent.  It is not clear if the original actresses name is Lina Black or Linda Black since the spelling differs on the opening and closing credits.  The change of actress seemed a very odd thing to do story-wise.  I can only speculate that maybe the first actress backed out of doing any nudity which only happens for her character after the change.  Or maybe the makers wanted to belatedly lengthen the film for commercial release and came back to shoot new footage to tag on the end and the original actress wasn't available so they devised a contrivance for the change of appearance.

Because none of the actresses (seem to) have any UK links and are not high-profile European names, no scene descriptions for this film appear on the online Topless Review site.

But for anyone interested here's what they would have been ...

Eliza Borecka (Isabella)
Full frontal nudity peeling off her dress over her head in an eerie forest - then full frontal nudity as she looks around for her friends with a torch - and gets her foot stuck in brambles - then as she is teleported to a Dalek spaceship so they can study her • topless manacled laying down in a cell room as Anna #1 (Linda Black) and the Daleks come to interrogate her - later topless and rear nudity as she attacks a Dalek and attempts to escape but is then shot and killed by the Daleks.

Katarzyna Zelnik (Sylvia) and Sonja Karina (Barbara)
Their scenes are all done as a pair so descriptions are the same for both
Sylvia and Barbara are captured by the 'Daloids'
Full frontal nudity in an eerie forest as they undress each other and engage in some lesbian petting to comfort their fears - and then as they are teleported to a Dalek spaceship and taken prisoner - then full frontal nudity as they are marched to an interrogation room • full frontal nudity manacled to a wall of a cell room - as Anna #1 (Linda Black) and the Daleks come to interrogate them - then full frontal nudity as the Daleks fire lasers at them to torture them - then full frontal nudity as they escape and go to the teleport room - but are then recaptured and killed by the Daleks.

Linda/Lina Black (Anna #1)
No nudity

Maria Vaslova (Anna #2)
Topless as she wakes up in the forest after going through the teleport and discovering that her body has changed - then full frontal nudity as she walks in the forest looking for a way out - then finding a handbag and putting on some makeup - then full frontal nudity as she hides from a hunter (Terry Barlet) - then full frontal nudity tied to a tree as the hunter uses her as bait for a serial killer monster that roams the forest - then full frontal nudity as the hunter fondles her - then full frontal nudity gagged as the Serial Skinner (Lenny Delmore) approaches her and toys with her with his knife and draws lipstick lines on her body to mark his incision points until she is saved by the Daleks when the Skinner is teleported away • topless sitting in a police station telling a detective (Baron Trenck) what happened to her.

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