In Larger than Life Jo (Rebecca Hobbs, star of horror tale The Ugly) discovers her new house is inhabited by an array of mutant arachnids, each larger than the last. Kiwi writer/director Ellory Elkayem cleverly melds puppetry and digital effects to give his spiders maximum yuck factor, while the violin-fuelled soundtrack pays spirited homage to the 50s monster movies (Them!, Tarantula) which inspired the whole enterprise. After the success of this spider tale, Hollywood called: Elkayem answered with bug tale They Nest, and comical spider epic Eight Legged Freaks.
Havoc and Newsboy's Sell-out Tour saw the intrepid pair ramble up and down the country offering their irreverent take on all things Aotearoa. This episode from the second series (subtitled 'Ratings Drive') is a deadpan homage to Discovery Channel as they go on the hunt for dangerous animals. They head to Nelson to cage-swim with sharks; then down to Waimairi Beach sand dunes to check out NZ's deadliest spider, the rare katipō. Finally they don disguises on return to Gore, the town they'd infamously outed as "the gayest in New Zealand" in series one.
Faye Rogers claims to have a unique ability — to converse with animals. In this quirky short documentary Rogers shares her talent and introduces some of her favourite animals, including her donkey Thistle, who has a penchant for swearing and watching crime shows. It’s not just her own pets she can talk to either: while filming she takes a Skype call from an American client whose kitten Finn has gone missing. It's up to Faye to convince Finn to come out of hiding. The film was made as part of the 2015 series of Loading Docs, a collection of short films made for viewing online.
In New Zealand for his 1983 Serious Moonlight tour, David Bowie stops for a cigarette with Radio with Pictures, to talk about past, present and future projects. Bowie mentions recording hit album Let’s Dance in three weeks, and briefly touches on mysterious music and screen projects, and the "very funny" Ziggy Stardust concert film. Also mentioned: his opinions on Jagger versus McCartney, his desire to work again with Iggy Pop, and how he feels about making the cover of Time magazine. The interview is bookended with brief footage of Bowie's opening number at Athletic Park.
This 1993 documentary surveys the world’s southernmost volcano, Mount Erebus. Cameras travel to never before filmed depths, 400 metres below the sea ice. They also go 3500 metres above sea level into the erupting crater. The film charts what is able to survive in the otherworldly environment, from seals to moss. Solid Water was the third part of an acclaimed Wild South trilogy on Antarctica, which helped establish a relationship between Discovery Channel and TVNZ’s Natural History Unit (later NHNZ). It was awarded for Best Camera at the 1994 New Zealand TV Awards.
Named after the exaggerated facial expressions performed in a haka, this long-running children's series emphasises the energy of contemporary youth culture. Made by company Cinco Cine, Pūkana was pioneering in Māori language programming for kids. This 2015 episode sees the crew of reporters stunt driving, skydiving, camping, kayaking, bungy jumping, and hanging out with a tarantula. The crew includes past Homai te Pakipaki champ Pikiteora Mura-Hitai, and veteran Pūkana presenter Tiara Tāwera, who is about to follow Mātai Smith and switch to directing on the show.
From a pre-Mythbusters era when science didn’t need explosions to merit primetime Saturday night screening, but after NZBC's blackboards and pointers, this series took a current affairs approach to reporting contemporary scientific research. Produced in Christchurch’s Studio 4, it was presented by Ken Ellis; Allanah James was a long-time reporter. Subjects ranged from volcanoes, underwater welding, talking lifts, STDs, mutant spiders, mussel extracts, and nude rats to the mysteries of tuatara and concert hall acoustics. The series was succeeded by Fast Forward.
Never mind Keeping Up with the Kardashians; in 2003 New Zealand reality TV had The Rippins. Denise (aka Peach) is the second wife for property developer Pat 'Spider' Rippin. This first episode follows the pair on a holiday to Port Douglas, Australia, accompanied by three of Denise’s four adult children. The fly-on-the-Sheraton-hotel-suite-wall camera captures the champagne, smoking, tanning, breast implants and false teeth over the passage of a New Year's Eve party. NZ Herald reviewer Fiona Rae described the show as "classic car-crash television".
Richard Driver interviews members of touring Irish band The Pogues for legendary late night music show Radio with Pictures. Despite a daunting reputation, frontman Shane MacGowan is on his best behaviour (and in possession of a very clean pair of heels) as he and bandmates Spider Stacy and James Fearnley expound on the importance (and inescapability) of their Irish roots. MacGowan’s experiences with New Zealanders in London appear to be a private joke, but there’s nothing confusing about their opinions on being produced by fellow musician Elvis Costello.
After only 17 days in international cinemas, the first part of the Hobbit trilogy stacked up enough treasure to become 2012's fourth highest-grossing movie. In part two director Peter Jackson ups the adventure quotient further, thanks to spiders, high speed river rides and the first encounter between hobbit Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) and Smaug the Dragon, as envisioned by Weta Digital and British star du jour Benedict Cumberbatch. Legolas (Orlando Bloom), one of the breakout characters in the Lord of the Rings movies, also makes an appearance.