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January 28, 2009

Hal Astell

There are moments in history that resonate with mystic power. As stars align and two headed calves scream to be heard, blind idiot prophets rise to herald the arrival of something entirely new. In 1971, precisely none of this happened but Hal C F Astell showed up anyway just to be awkward. Nowadays he wears a beard, a kilt and a kangaroo skin hat and is more than a little recognisable.

Born in the south of England but raised in the north, he has always followed more than one path at once: stage diver and parochial church councillor, published poet and anime nerd, teenage businessman and competitive typist. He is probably the only person to have seen in concert Celtic Frost, Tangerine Dream, Martina McBride, The Audobon String Quartet, Jorma Kaukonen and Nzamba Lela, the Aka Pigmies of Central Africa. He'd also be surprised if anyone else has attended weddings as bridegroom, usher, maid of honour, crucifer, photographer, witness and father of an unrelated bride.

Ever the contrarian, he collects surprising achievements. He has performed in pantomime, delivered newspapers at -15°C and toured America. He has played Monopoly with real money, walked in all four continental US time zones in the same day and attended a left wing student union bar in an Adolf Hitler European Tour 1939-45 T-shirt. He has played Nuclear Assault on the lawn of the Bishop of Wakefield, been admitted into Mensa and worked as an authorised researcher for Google Answers. He became a father and a grandfather at the same time, discovered his wife online and still hasn't introduced her to his mother.

While he collected books, records and pencils long before movies, he has been a fan of outré cinema from his young days. He survived the video nasty years in the UK with an Amstrad dual VHS deck, contacts at market stalls all across Yorkshire and subscriptions to all the zines of the time. Today he runs the Apocalypse Later film review blog, frequents MADCAP Cinemas and is very happy to cover the worst movies ever made for Cinema Head Cheese.

Hal's Columns: Cinematic Hell, Movie Reviews

Check out Hal's movie review blog Apocalypse Later

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