Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Please find below the trailer for the Hammer documentary as well as two pre-release clips to give you a flavour of what can be expected in the final cut.
Saturday, December 27, 2008
AMICUS: THE STUDIO THAT DRIPPED BLOOD...
Friday 20 to Wednesday 25 February 2009
www.barbican.org.uk/film Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527
Ingrid Pitt; The House That Dripped Blood
For twenty years, Amicus Productions made the kind of unique horror movies that, along with those from the better-known Hammer studio, characterised Britain’s world-domination of the genre in the 1960s and ‘70s. Helmed by American producer Max Rosenberg and screenwriter Milton Subotsky, Amicus’ 30 film output showcased the talents of directors such as Freddie Francis, William Friedkin and Roy Ward Baker and showed us the true faces of horror with stars Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. With this retrospective of trademark portmanteau chillers and creature-feature thrillers, Barbican Film celebrates the infamous studio that slashed, gored and clawed its way into British cinema history.
Friday 20 February
7.00pm - The House That Dripped Blood (PG) (UK 1971 Dir. Peter Dufell 102 min)
The titular house is the spooky lynch pin around which the stories in Amicus’ second horror compendium revolve. When the famous owner of a gothic mansion disappears, the investigating officer discovers that dark deeds befell the house’s previous occupants too, including a writer stalked by his own imagination and a film star who got too close to the evil character he played. With Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Denholm Elliott and the delectable Ingrid Pitt.
Friday 20 February
9.15pm - Dr Terror’s House of Horrors (PG) (UK 1965 Dir. Freddie Francis 98 min)
Amicus’ first anthology proved the popularity of portmanteau, with five strangers on a train being shown their fates by the diabolical Dr Schreck and his ‘House of Horrors’ tarot card deck. Werewolves, vampires, creeping vines and voodoo form the future for our unlucky anti-heroes, who include Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and a young Donald Sutherland.
Saturday 21 February
2.00pm - The Land That Time Forgot (U) (UK 1975 Dir. Kevin Connor 90 min)
The last film made under Subotsky and Rosenberg was the studio’s most ambitious, expensive and ultimately successful feature. Based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel, a U-boat lost in the South Pole discovers a hidden tropical island where dinosaurs still roam, untouched by modern human intervention - until Death Race star Doug McClure and his band of WWII renegades arrive to get trapped, mauled and eaten, Amicus-style. An action classic.
Saturday 21 February
4.00pm - Scream and Scream Again (18) (UK 1970 Dir. Gordon Hessler 95 min)
Whilst investigating a spate of murders dubbed ‘the vampire killings,’ a police inspector (Alfred Marks) discovers that terrifying human experiments are being performed by a maniacal Doctor (Vincent Price) and his unstoppable henchmen. Conceived as Coogan’s Bluff meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Scream... was the first feature to unite the unholy trinity of Price, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee – quite a coup for Amicus.
Saturday 21 February
6.30pm - Tales from the Crypt (18) (UK 1972 Dir. Freddie Francis 92 min)
In perhaps the best known of the Amicus anthologies, a group of people trapped in a crypt are shown their futures - variously involving murder, cruelty and ‘accidental’ death - by the mysterious vault keeper. He then offers them the chance to change their fates, but only if they choose to forfeit their own lives… Here Joan Collins and Ralph Richardson add support to Peter Cushing’s domination of the genre.
Saturday 21 February
8.30pm - ...and Now the Screaming Starts (15) (UK 1973 Dir. Roy Ward Baker 91 min)
A hefty budget for Amicus’ supernatural period tale of a young aristocrat couple plagued by a malevolent ancestor provided the requisite opulence for Baker’s second film for the studio. The film is crowned by a suitably intense performance by star Stephanie Beecham as Cathryn Fengriffen, the unwilling victim of Grandfather Fengriffen’s evil curse. With Herbert Lom, Ian Oglivy and Peter Cushing, again.
Sunday 22 February
2.00pm - The Birthday Party (15) (UK 1968 Dir. William Friedkin 123 min)
Filming Harold Pinter’s enigmatic play was a cerebral choice for the studio synonymous with terror; though director Friedkin went on to prove his horror credentials admirably with The Exorcist in 1973. Robert Shaw is the seaside boarder subjected to a macabre birthday party by strangers Patrick Magee and Sydney Tafler, whose bemusing array of tricks and torments ultimately drive him insane.
Sunday 22 February
4.30pm - Madhouse (18) (UK 1974 Dir. Jim Clark 92 min)
Tempted back to England by an old friend and persuaded to resurrect his famous alter-ego Dr Death, aging horror actor Paul Toombes must confront the memory of his wife’s murder - a murder some think he committed. When the gruesome killings begin again, Toombes begins to question whether Dr Death is just a character after all… A rare opportunity to see Peter Cushing and Vincent Price in starring roles together.
Sunday 22 February
6.30pm - The Psychopath (15) (UK 1966 Dir. Freddie Francis 82min)
Billed as ‘a new peak in shriek’, this disturbing offering focuses on a gruesome spate of murders by a killer whose modus operandi is to leave a creepily life-like doll replica of the victim next to their mutilated body. Patrick Wymark is the inspector on the case and Amicus stalwart Freddie Francis directs this Robert Bloch (Psycho) penned thriller.
Sunday 22 February
8.30pm – TITLE TBC
Monday 23 February
6.30pm - Asylum (15) (UK 1972 Dir. Roy Ward Baker 88 min)
The pairing of director Baker with writer Robert Bloch provided a jewel for Amicus’ crown with this grotesque portmanteau set in an institution where ‘you have nothing to lose but your mind’... In order to gain a position at Dunsmoor Asylum, a young psychiatrist must interview four patients to determine which one is the recently sectioned Dr Starr - and each inmate has a particularly nasty tale to tell. With Peter Cushing, Charlotte Rampling, Britt Ekland and Herbert Lom.
Tuesday 24 February
6.30pm - I, Monster (12A) (UK 1971 Dir. Stephen Weeks 77min)
Christopher Lee puts in a barnstorming performance as the doctor experimenting with the darker side of human nature. Horror supremo Peter Cushing is the friend who tries to save him in Amicus’s take on ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’. The film boasts a curiously experimental look, the result of attempting a new 3D process that studio boss Subotsky himself invented but that ultimately didn’t work.
Wednesday 25 February
6.30pm - The Beast Must Die (15) (UK 1974 Dir. Paul Annet 93 min)
Who’s the werewolf? Not many movies can boast a ‘werewolf break’ to allow the audience time to ponder which one of the film’s characters (each hiding a distinctly murky past) is the deadly lycanthrope in question. Just one of the many quirks which make this darkly funny, superbly bloody, country estate set who-dunnit the very definition of ‘cult film’.
Notes for editors:
1. Special thanks to Allan Bryce (Author; Amicus: The Studio That Dripped Blood), Jonathan Sothcott (Black & Blue films) and Tony Earnshaw (Director; National Media Museum, Bradford).
www.barbican.org.uk/film Cinema Hotline: 0845 120 7527
Book online and get up to £2 off every ticket! (or save up to £2 on every ticket)
Standard: £7.50 online (£9.50 full price)
Barbican Members: £6.50 online (£7.50 full price)
Under 15: £4.50
Monday Madness: all tickets £5.50
Amicus Season Multi-buy offer - Buy 3 or more tickets and get each ticket for just £6.00
For further information contact:
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
This got me thinking about doing something similar for films. So over the course of 2009 I now plan on watching (and writing about) the following categories. Given the theme of this blog I will have this heavily Hammer based of sorts, but there will be some films that will be outside this blog's general Mission Statement.
1. 9 Hammer Movies
2. 9 Movies directed by Hammer directors (non-Hammer)
3. 9 Movies starring Hammer actors (non-Hammer)
4. 9 Movies starring Hammer actresses (non-Hammer)
5. 9 Giallos
6. 9 Japanese Movies
7. 9 Mario Bava movies
8. 9 Spy Movies
9. 9 Movies to be watched in the cinema (i.e. 5 more than I managed this year, sad I know)
There may of course be some overlap and I may end up e.g. watching a movie directed by a Hammer director and also starring a Hammer actor. In that case I can add this to both categories (but will attempt to limit this kind of duplicate posting). I also may change my mind about one or two of the categories before the New Year starts, but think this is pretty much good to go.
For all you bloggers out there: Anyone feel like joining me? For all of you that do I would recommend we should all open a side bar at our blogs to track all the other participants and we may want to also list those other blogs at the bottom of our update posts.
Let's see who will be the first to finish that challenge in the New Year!
2009 roll on!
Speaking of self gifting: I just received another Must Have for the New Year, the Official 2009 Hammer Horror calendar, another beauty that won't - for obvious reasons - be around for long. Each month is represented by a large poster of one of the classic Hammer Horror films followed by two images of those flicks. Some of the key Hammer staff's birthdays also get referenced, though the choices are somewhat random. From the actors we have Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing as the obvious choices as well as Ingrid Pitt and Caroline Munro (this brought a smile to my face), from the directors we get Roy Ward Baker. No Terence Fisher, no Michael or James Carreras or Anthony Hinds, truly people that deserved to have been honoured with an inclusion more so than, I hate to admit it, my beloved Ms Munro. But anyway, that is just a minor bone of contention: The calendar needs to be on the wall no questions asked.
Other Christmas ideas for the discerning Hammer Fan are those box sets that have now been on the market for quite some time, but are still essential.
There are another two items that were only recently brought to my attention. Not sure how "essential" they are, but still worth mentioning. If anyone out there has any of those I would be very interested to hear opinions.
Hammer Horror - A Fan's Guide is a new DVD about Hammer. My understanding is that this is very similar to a Best of List without any actual film clips and instead opinions by Robert Simpson or Marcus Hearn (the fans) and is less than an hour long.
David Huckvale's Hammer Film Scores and the Musical Avantgarde sounds like a very intriguing read, but - again - I can't say I am familiar with the book, so would look forward to some comments about it.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
It is good to see Sid James in a serious role. On de oder hand-a dis-a has-a one of-a de most-a clichéd-a portrayals of Italians ever put on film with Frederick Valk playing the most annoying pseudo-Italian ever. Well, not quite. If you think he’s annoying wait until you see his character’s family appear. Mind you, there is a wonderful scene in which he as the cuckolded husband virtually has horns growing out of him when standing in front of a shot deer at a wall.
Tragic actress Barbara Payton who died before her 40th birthday after burning the candle at both ends plays the eponymous temptress. Jimmy Sangster is listed as the Assistant Director. Reginald Le Borg directs.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Though written by Hammer expert Wayne Kinsey, Hammer Films: A Life in Pictures seems to be primarily a feast for the eyes. Needless to say I need to have this. So if anyone out there feels like playing Secret Santa, don't let me stop you. Or if you want to use the donation button at the top of the blog, be my guest. LOL
My hunch is that this may shape up to be simply one of the best and most gorgeous books on Hammer Films out ever.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
This is the long awaited follow up to Wayne Kinsey’s book dedicated to Hammer’s Bray Studio movies and follows very much in the same vein. This is again chock full of ultra rare pictures and very in depth on the production history of all the individual films. Kinsey again extensively quotes from censor’s reports and heavily relies on interviews conducted with Hammer talent on every level. As with his previous book it falls a little bit short on the critical analysis, but then again this is obviously not the prime focus for this kind of oeuvre and we have other works that can be read for a more critical evaluation of the films.
The format is again strictly chronological, so rather than cover the films one by one it splits the production into the following sub sections - Pre-production, Production, SPFX (if applicable), Censor – and then covers these aspects at their proper place in time. So a typical chapter can have the following reading order:
Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (pre-production), Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (production), Hand of the Ripper (pre-production), Hand of the Ripper (production), Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (pre-production), Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (production), On the Buses (pre-production), On the Buses (production), Twins of Evil (pre-production), Twins of Evil (production), Hands of the Ripper (censor), On the Buses (censor), Dr Jeckyll and Sister Hyde (censor), Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb (censor), Twins of Evil (censor) etc…
This constant to and froing between the films takes a little while to get used to, though ultimately is a very elegant way to properly track those movies and their development stages over time.
Kinsey is a pathologist in his day job and it is quite amusing to see him correct some of Frankenstein’s anatomical errors in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell. He is right: With those bloopers it is no wonder that he never managed to create a perfect being. Given that this edition covers some of the lesser known Hammer movies I may even prefer The Elstree Studio Years to the earlier Bray edition. Either way, both books are essential reading for all true Hammer Fans.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Just found this amazing 5-page gallery of high quality pics and scans for just about any Hammer Glamour star you can think of.
Well worth checking out.
'Nuff said. Need to go back admiring some of the beauties.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Unsurprisingly his debut looks at none other than Hammer films, although from a very novel angle. Is This A Hammer Film? was born out of a university lecture he held in Dublin and focuses on the difficulties of properly establishing a definite filmography of Hammer movies given the company’s myriad ventures and deals.
I am certainly looking forward to future instalments of this podcast that can be accessed either through the author’s new blog or via Itunes. Is it just me or will I be right in thinking that Robert may soon get a deluge of fan mails from American females who will melt at the sound of his gentle Northern Irish twang? :-)
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Watch it. Count the references. Wish Beyond the Rave had been a little bit more like it.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Run, don’t walk to get a copy. If none are available to you locally, you can order them through Dick’s website.
Speaking of Curse of Frankenstein: Check out this short new interview with Jimmy Sangster that was taken during Curse's anniversary event in Bray.
Sunday, August 31, 2008
Slowly, very very slowly, making my way through the mammoth Ultimate Hammer Collection set of 21 Hammer DVDs I recently caught The Nanny for the very first time and was quite pleasantly surprised.
The first surprise came when I noticed that this was a black and white production. Not sure why, but I always assumed that this was a colour movie, so I was intrigued to learn that it was indeed Hammer’s very last black and white production.
Another aspect of the film that I was unaware off was the absence of practically any sympathetic character. Hammer had at a time played with formats that offered no obvious positive characters to identify with as a viewer (most notably in my opinion in their underappreciated Dennis Wheatley adaptation The Lost Continent (1968)), but this was still a very unusual approach for screen writer Jimmy Sangster: The husband (James Villiers) is a bully, the wife (Wendy Craig) hysterical. Even the little boy (William Dix) is a brat who regularly fakes his suicide a la the later Harold and Maude and often has the viewer feel quite sorry for Bette Davis’ character who often comes across as the only sane person of the lot. As such there is indeed a certain amount of welcome suspense left as to whether her nanny really is a deranged psycho killer or whether this is just part of the boy’s vivid imagination.
Directed by Seth Holt - who died when filming of Blood of the Mummy’s Tomb (1971) had started and who was also responsible for Hammer’s equally intriguing Taste of Fear (1961) - this is one of Hammer’s best psycho thrillers. Well acted and tightly written, this is a Must See for anyone willing to stray away from Hammer’s usual Gothic tracks.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Directly by Terence Fisher this film tells the story of a brilliant plastic surgeon (Paul Henreid) who falls into a holiday whirlwind romance with a pianist (Lizabeth Scott), who, alas, is already engaged to a guy played by future Hammer stalwart, Andre Morell in his first role for Hammer. Frustrated about not being able to get the lady he wants, he transforms the horribly disfigured face of a female convict into the spitting image of his lady love and subsequently marries her. Needless to say things soon go awry in that mismatched relationship especially when the marriage is called off for his his real love.
The film is often quoted as an early example of Science Fiction, though it doesn’t have a lot of Sci Fi elements to it and with its themes of plastic surgery is more rooted in reality. If anything that film appears like a forerunner for Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), another film about an obsessive relationship and a man’s wish to recreate the image of the woman he loves.
The prevailing notions in this production are of course preposterous. Beauty may be only skin deep, but one should also not scratch too deeply on the surface of this plot as there is little of substance there, however, it is directed and acted absolutely straight which gives it a certain charm and makes this an overall entertaining production that, at 70 minutes, also doesn’t overstay its welcome.
The one link to Hammer’s (and Fisher’s) later Frankenstein productions is that physical defects can have an influence on criminal developments, though it is somewhat more believable to draw comparisons between damaged brains and abnormal behaviour than to come to similar conclusions by looking at damaged faces.
Not sure if I am the only one, but I also thought that the “awful” jazz and booze loving criminal crowd appeared to be more fun to be around with than the oh so prim and proper doctor and pianist. Ah well, how times have changed….
The first minute of the YouTube video below is from Stolen Face, the second half from a different production called Strange Impersonation (1946). The common themes: They both feature plastic surgery, doctors and smoking. Also check out this excellent review from a blog dedicated to Film Noir.
Monday, August 18, 2008
Speaking of Amicus: I have finally started reading the latest edition of Little Shoppe of Horrors, this time entirely dedicated to Amicus. I am half way through and it is absolutely excellent. This is effectively not a magazine as such, but the publication of a book length manuscript by Philip Nutman. His "Scream and Scream Again: The Uncensored History of Amicus Productions" was originally meant to be published in the 1980s, but then lingered for various reasons (partly legal issues) unpublished until now. This is a completely reworked and updated version of the original manuscript. Not only is this highly readable but also comes with some of the best art work (front cover, back cover, inside covers etc) that LSoH has ever seen.
You can order the issue directly from Dick Klemensen's website. Also of interest is the fact that Dick will soon make CD copies of all his old and unavailable back issues available. Given the fact that some of the very early ones are now auctioned off for $100+, methinks that yours truly will definitely avail of this much cheaper option to fill up the holes in my collection.
As such I was quite excited to hear that Hammer has teamed up with Strictly Ink to commission a new set of officially sanctioned Hammer Horror trading cards.
Strictly Ink are around since 1999 and have created a nice little niche for themselves by publishing a range of trading cards covering diverse areas such as the CSI Franchise, Dr Who, The New Avengers and 2000 AD.
The only thing that put a damper on my initial expectations was when I saw some of the reproductions on their official website. Let’s just say that the artist’s sketches left me seriously unimpressed, however, some comments on Yahoo’s Hammer discussion board convinced me that their actual base set was indeed superior to the cards they had advertised.
These trading cards are released in single packs of five that I seem to recall being sold individually in the likes of London’s Cinema Store. Most people, however, will probably avail of the offer to purchase at least one sealed box directly from the company’s website.
Each box contains 30 packs of 5 cards that will leave you with a guaranteed complete base set of collector cards 1-72. (Cards 71 and 72 actually constitute a check list of all the cards available.)
Doing the maths you will notice that with 150 cards sold in the box and a basic set only containing an initial 72 cards that this will leave you with a good number of duplicates. Of course, on top of the basic set a properly full collection of these cards would also constitute a handful of rarer special cards: 10 autographed cards by a predominantly female group of Hammer stars (Caroline Munro, Valerie Leon, Ingrid Pitt x 2, Jenny Hanley, David Prowse, Hazel Court, Madeline Smith, Veronica Carlson and Martine Beswicke), 9 foil cards of often rare publicity material as well as a number of even rarer hand drawn artist sketch cards.
It was these sketch cards that initially had me highly sceptical about this set as for the most part these look God awful and very amateurish, definitely not like a high class collector’s item you’d be dying to have in your possession.
I needn’t have worried, though, as these cards indeed only make up a fleetingly unimportant part of the set. In actual fact I find that Strictly Ink should have probably put more of an emphasis on their base cards in their advertising as opposed to these very special but dodgy looking sketch cards. The odds of finding one of these are one in every 2 or 3 boxes. (The odds of finding an autograph card were one per box and for the foil cards 1:12 packs.) For my own box I received an autographed card by Martine Beswicke as well as foil cards with promotional material for Hands of the Ripper, The Devil Rides Out, She and Scars of Dracula.
What is in the main set is a wonderful collection of often very rare photos covering the whole history of Hammer movies and stars. The pictures were compiled with the assistance of none other than Hammer historians extraordinaires Stephen Jones and Wayne Kinsey and cover the following areas: Early Science Fiction Thrills, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula, Bloodsuckers & Other Monsters, Hammer Glamour and Behind the Screams (featuring production photos).
The reproduction of those cards is much superior than my inferior scans are suggesting. Overall this set of Hammer Trading Cards comes highly recommended and is anticipated to become a collector’s item over time. Some of Strictly Ink’s offers appear to already be sold out or down to the last few items, so I would recommend that anyone even remotely interested in this set get around to ordering soon before the only options left will be inflated prices on Ebay.
I notice that the Strictly Ink advertises this to be the “first in [a] series of incredible trading card collections exploring the horrific history of Hammer Films featuring many rare colour and black and white images”. I guess that means that the company will have some goodies in store for us Hammer fans. Definitely something to look forward to!
Now, where will I find the remaining autograph and foil cards for my set...?
Monday, July 28, 2008
This is one of the few films that I can recall where I did a complete turnaround. I first came across it on a very bad video copy that left me far from being impressed. I also didn't get it upon repeat viewings and nearly gave up on it until I read INSIDE THE WICKER MAN by Allan Brown.
The film then came out on DVD and based on reading the book I gave it one final chance and was blown away by it. Usually a good film does *not* require a pristine copy as the story can speak for itself, but in my case having a good looking print made a huge difference to my appreciation of the film. It is one of those productions that give you a little bit more upon each viewing, yet cannot be grasped by analysing it too much. The more you think about it, the less it’ll actually make sense. Best to appreciate it on a visceral level and enjoy it as a wonderful portrayal of two clashing cultures, moodily filmed, full of great performances and with a wonderful soundtrack.
Although I have now watched and enjoyed the production a number of times, I hadn’t seen the longer director’s cut, although I had heard a lot of positive comments about it. Now that I have finally seen it I can't, however, say that it really adds a hell of a lot that wasn't already in the theatrical release: some more singing scenes that make the film appear even more like a musical, some nudies which are always welcome but not quintessential, an earlier appearance by Lord Summerisle which kind of lessens the mystery about his character and a few more extended scenes that are neither here nor there. Most of all the much touted mainland scenes really are absolutely unnecessary: I much prefer the more subtle way of getting to know about Howie's priggish Christian life style and didn't need to have it rammed down my throat. So overall I think I can live with the knowledge that some more scenes may forever be buried in a field near the M4 (or whatever). For me the theatrical version is better and more tightly cut and the quintessential release.
Monday, July 21, 2008
In What I Owe to Hammer Horror John Potts, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Media, Macquarie University, Sydney, revisists his favourite childhood movies after 35 years to figure out whether they still hold up what they had promised in his memory and contrasts their imagery with teenage life in a small town in New South Wales.
Strictly ink Media have just released a set of new Hammer related Trading Cards. I don't own those yet, but from I have heard they actually are quite nice looking. It is just a pity that they advertise them with some very amateurish looking pictures on their website that from what I understand are not representative of the entire set. If anyone out there has seen the complete set, please let me know.
Say what you want about Beyond the Rave, but from a merchandise perspective New Hammer has made a couple of shweet decisions. Top of the list of every Hammerhead's Xmas wish list this year should be a new Hammer calendar that won't be released until the end of October, though is already available on pre-order.
OK, I admit it: I can't believe I have mentioned Christmas in July!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Two news items have lately come in about the direction the company is going to take. On the one hand it appears that they indeed keep on producing new films and have plans for at least three more. On the other hand Hammer seems to be again changing hands. These news items can in full be found here and here.
Hard on the heals of this boxset we now also have the announcement of a new boxset of four other movies, this time dedicated to four classic (and up till now again rather rare) horror classics: Icons of Horror - Hammer Films will feature The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, Scream of Fear and The Gorgon. Go to Amazon and you will even be able to have a say as to what the cover may look like.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
The actual documentary consists of 3 parts on YouTube. The other two parts can also be accessed through there.
Unfortunately video embedding is not possible for this video so just follow the link.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
In a lot of ways this little 25 second clip shows her at her most revealing. Though of course advertising standards had to be adhered to, it is still clear that she really discards off her top even though we only get to see her topless from behind or the side. She also shows off the tiniest crack of her bum when jumping into the pool.
Sheer enjoyment indeed!
(I would like to thank Chrissy and Mike from my Caroline Munro Yahoo group who discovered this previously ultra rare video and made it more easily accessible for me before I had a chance to put in on YouTube.)
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
I was glad to see that Miles from the Hammer Yahoo group produced a fantastic review of the episodes so far and allowed me to publish them here. Saves me the trouble of having to do it. I think he is very much spot on.
Well I decided to watch all eight episodes together (1-8) to see how the movie's working so far. I watched them in HD last night. Though my initial opinion of the episodes 1-5 was very critical I thought I'd keep watching, since it was a new Hammer production. And after sitting through roughly 24 minutes of "Beyond the Rave" I found I disliked it even more.
I have 2 primary issues with it:
ISSUE 1. There's no character development. At all. And therefore no characters to draw you into the story. 24 minutes in, and I still couldn't care less about anyone.
ISSUE 2. The words inbetween the f**king expletives are pure f**king filler. They're not f**king funny, not f**king clever. It's so f**king bad I almost f**king thought the f**king actors were f**king improvising all their f**king dialogue. I f**king pray to f**king god they were f**king improvising. The f**king dialogue is so f**king aimlessly pointless that I'd have f**king preferred it if they'd f**king just f**king replaced the f**king script with a f**king barrage of f**king "f**ks" and f**king "c**ts". And at f**king times the f**king production moved perilously f**king close to doing just that - you sure can't f**king destroy great f**king dialogue if it 'aint f**king there in the f**king first place.
And by f**king "great" I f**king mean f**king dialogue that's f**king worth f**king listening to.
The heavy f**king expletives (instead of adding f**king character, f**king color and f**king humor to great f**king dialogue) seem here to f**king try and f**king hide (and ultimately f**king highlight) a deficient f**king script.
So overall - okay it's free and easy to watch - and (this isn't saying much) is a lot better than most Youtube-ish webisodes out there. At least it has higher production values than your average "Kitten playing piano" clip. So on that level it is sort of entertaining. But for me not entertaining enough to continue watching.
Even when it is free.
So for entertainment value it's back to f**king piano playing f**king kittens for me.
Is it revealing that this group's comments on the film have declined in numbers as each successive episode is posted? I mean, if this weren't the train wreck it is, wouldn't we'd be joyously discussing it (the first Hammer horror feature in over 30 years) constantly, instead of pretending it didn't exist? Just a f**king thought.
For those who are interested:
f**ks - refers to the word FALKS
f**king - refers to the word FALKING (detecting through use of raincoat and cigar)
c**ts - refers to the word CANTS (to narrate a stop-motion children's TV show about idyllic village life)
Just wanted to make sure no-one misunderstood.
Miles also made an interesting point about the music used in this production:
Music in "Beyond the Rave."
As I've mentioned before, hats off to the (brief, but obvious) James Bernard homage during the opening scenes of episode 1. Nice touch.
And I liked the Simonetti-Morante-Pignatelli (aka Goblin) "Tenebre" sampled/homage at the start of episode 8. Great dance track. And it's nice to have a Dario Argento connection (though a Hammer one would have been obviously preferable).
If only I had the patience to watch further episodes I'm sure I'd discover a few more musical nuggets along the way. But I've pretty much given up on the film.
In fact at 24 minutes in, I've given it more time than I would a rental DVD.
But if they ever release a CD of the soundtrack, I may buy it (as long as it doesn't bring back too many bad memories).
Thanks a million, Miles!!!
Monday, May 5, 2008
It appears that this month already sees the release of Issue #5. Looks like I am a wee bit behind with my current purchase. Read more about how best to purchase the magazine or its back issues through its official web site.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Here is a wonderful photo tribute from a Norwegian website dedicated to Ms Ege.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
This year is actually quite a good year for some of my heroes being celebrated on stamps. On January 8 Royal Mail had already released a set of Bond related stamps with wonderful reprints of some of the classic paperback designs. I don't own them yet, but will purchase them on my next trip to London or else order them from a philatelic store.
The teaser photo at the start of the clip shows a sexy lass in a military style regalia apparently ready to strip off.
You press play, are welcomed to a rural pub doubling as a strip joint, see the girl fully clothed, get your expectations (but not much else) up, yet before you can say “Santanico Pandemonico” we are dragged away into the most ridiculously looking fist fight scene between chavvy drug dealers in white track suits and hysterically laughing vampires. Seriously, this is by far the most amateurish looking part of the film yet. Imagine a bunch of school kids trying to choreograph a fight scene, and you get the picture. Well, also add the very same kids writing the accompanying dialogue.
Seriously, now I am starting to get annoyed. This better improve soon.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
The forth episodes concentrates on physically building up the stages for the rave in a deserted forest area. The mysterious Head Vampire is also in charge of the rave and pays a concerned farmer off with what appears to be a gold coin…. which would have been a nice touch if we could actually see it clearer to know what’s happening or see a more surprising reaction to this anachronism by the farmer or at the very least have been given any back story or idea why the head guy, who otherwise seems to have adapted very well to modern life, still resorts to this archaic form of payment.
Anyway, farmer walks off and gets killed.
It wasn’t really a spectacular way to pass another four minutes.
The main concern really is that there wasn't much of anything in it that we hadn’t seen a million times before. It really wasn't cut for serialisation at all, so what in other productions may have just been a moderate so-so, turns seriously abysmal here. I think in most general films the four or so minutes of Episode 4 would not have made a huge difference, positively or negatively, however the way the film is distributed forces you to review each episode as a separate event that needs to be judged on its own account and from that base there wasn't anything of any note to observe other than a very luke warm, bordering on piss poor, short clip.
Monday, April 21, 2008
Saturday, April 19, 2008
Steve Reed who kindly contributed the Hazel Court obituary also created this new absolutely awesome Hammer and Beyond graphic that I will now use a header for this blog. It looks fantastic and I can't help but think that this would also make an amazing mouse pad.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Sad news reached us today, that Horror Queen Hazel Court, died on the 15th April 2008. Hazel who was 82, had been suffering from a yet undisclosed long term illness. Hazel was born in Birmingham in the UK on the 10th of February 1926. She entered Gainsborough Studios during WWII, & stayed there for several years, during which she became known as one of ‘The Gainsborough Girls’. Her first starring role being in the 1944 film Champagne Charlie in which she had a very small role, the role would lead to bigger parts for Court. After the War she married her first husband Dermot Walsh in 1949, to whom she would remain married to until their divorce in 1963.
Above: The UK poster for The Curse of Frankenstein, Hazel’s first Horror role.
During the early 1950s Hazel would appear in an assortment of movies for various film companies including The Rank Organisation. Amongst those films were The Ghost Ship (1952) & Devil Girl From Mars (1954), but her major starring role came when Hammer Films, who then specialised in low budget thrillers & science fiction adaptations from radio & TV gave Hazel the role of Elizabeth in The Curse of Frankenstein in 1957, in which she teamed up with the then to become Horror film legends – Peter Cushing & Christopher Lee. The film went on to worldwide success, breaking box office records around the world, Hazel would soon find herself with offers for all manner of film & TV work.
Above: Hazel Court & Jane Asher in Roger Corman’s The Masque of Red Death
Her next work for Hammer was the 1959 film The Man Who Could Cheat Death, in which she would again work with Christopher Lee & electrifying German actor Anton Diffring. In 1962 she would start work on what would be 3 very different films for director American director Roger Corman, the first being Premature Burial in which she co-starred with actor Ray Milland. Her next Corman film was The Raven with Boris Karloff, but undoubtedly her best film of that era was the superb Corman made The Masque of Red Death in 1964 with Vincent Price. Hazel re-married in 1964 to actor/director Don Taylor with whom she had 1 child. Hazel continued to work in film & television in the USA up until 1981. Hazel then settled for a life of painting, for which she had a real passion. She would also be a regular at some of the organised Horror conventions, including Hammer. Her autobiography Hazel Court – Horror Queen, An Autobiography was published by Tomahawk Press in 2007.
Stephen Reed 2008.
No credits. No horror. (Hammer and Beyond)
Well, the wait is finally over. The first three episodes of Hammer’s new movie/Internet serial were just launched today and can be viewed on the MySpaceTv page.
Lots of speculation accompanied all the production news with most fans of the Hammer movies fearing the worst: It looked like generic teen pap. The title was ripped not from another Hammer movie, but from an Amicus production. Raves are already as outdated to current teen audiences as Dracula A.D. 1972’s “hip” lingo was to the then current market. And what does it have to do with anything that Hammer ever stood for?
Can’t say I personally ever cared too much about whether they would really carry on the heritage of old Hammer. I love their movies, but for the new productions I am only interested in whether this is going to be a good movie in its own rights. The serial idea sounded like something that could either be hailed as the greatest new Internet marketing idea in years. Or as pure crackpot. After all who would be interested in buying the eventual DVD release if they already had a chance to watch or even download it for free?
This morning the first three episodes of the series were launched. From now on new eps will be posted every Monday and Thursday.
So is it any good?
Errr, no, very mediocre average at best so far, but bordering on drivel.
For starters these eps are just around 3-4 minutes long. I initially thought we were talking about 10 minute shows and that some care may have been shown in actually creating a proper serial, i.e. shooting the film in instalments that lead to regular cliff hangers and have you gagging for the next ep. Instead the film appears to have been shot just like any ordinary movie production and was then just randomly sliced and diced for the MySpace upload.
There are no credits in any of the episodes. Given the short running time of these this may be a logical decision. It is still a smack in the face of the people in front of and behind the cameras. So Episode #1 starts off straight away with showing us soldiers on an exercise in a moonlit night searching a forest for something or the other and discovering a vampire sucking a blonde girl. Cut. One of the soldiers is seen being brought into a military hospital in Iraq. Cut to a month earlier where the very same guy has one day left before shipping to Iraq and decides to spend the day looking for a rave and his missing girlfriend, meets up with his hip talking buddy (read: speaking like a retard from the 1990s) and drives off in a car. Not the most suspenseful ending of a serial episode methinks.
Episode 2 sees them driving on and on. And on and on. And there’s a mysterious undertaker’s car. We even have a flashback within a flashback! Urrgh. That flashback really just shows cliché dance sequences that we have viewed a million times before.
The driving around continues in Episode 3, though we also get to know two cockney speaking drug dealers who seem to be rejects from a bad Guy Ritchie movie. (You know the ones he started making after the met Madonna.) Oh, and we actually have the first proper horror scene. Not much of a horror scene, but about frigging time. Two guys visiting a DJ in a pirate radio station (sure, another completely outdated concept in this day and age), let him snort some coke, then suck him dry in an obvious attempt to get high on his drugged up blood stream.
The best I can say so far is that I haven’t been completely annoyed yet, however, so far the film hasn’t displayed anything resembling proper horror, the dialogue is painfully “wicked” in an awfully outdated lingo, the story telling is shoddy and neither displays respect for the serial nature of the production nor for any basic film making 101s (flashbacks within flashbacks are NOT clever).
Guess I’ll be back for the other eps, though I am not holding my breath.
Monday, April 14, 2008
you may have noticed that I no longer seem to post as regularly as at the start. This is not for lack of wanting, but entirely for lack of time. When I started this blog I had just commenced a 6-month sabbatical from work and all the time in the world. Now all that is but a distant memory and I am back to being Mr Salary Man. On top of that we are also currently dealing with a major health scare in our family.
As such time to post blog items is exceedingly scarce. This blog, however, has been a wonderful outlet for me to chat with other likeminded fans and I hate to see posts showing up only rarely.
I know there is a lot of talent out there and I want to reach out to you guys: If any of you feel they would like to contribute posts, either as one-offs or on a regular basis, please let me know.
The spectrum of possible posts is huge. You can post news about Hammer stars or reviews of new DVD releases, biographies of the talent in front or behind the camera, reviews of either Hammer movies or films in general that had Hammer people involved. Or how about book or magazine reviews associated with the subject? Tons of options.
So if you're interested to contribute and to keep the Hammer spirit alive, please let me know.
and I understand that you no longer need to have a MySpace ID to watch it. I plan on blogging about each and every entry when it's released, so stay tuned.
In the meantime a new Facebook group has been set up called... I want to find a 100,000 people in a week to watch Beyond The Rave. Methinks that is something that Hammer would like to see as well. LOL
They actually have two clips of the film, and believe it or not, they actually have me pretty excited for the first time ever. No, it doesn't look like Hammer, but there seems to be quite a feeling of LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS about it. It just may work. Interestingly enough they also have Russian and Korean language trailers for the film!
*BBC radio recently dedicated one episode of their GREAT LIVES series to none other than Peter Cushing. In it none other than Mark Gatiss from the League of Gentlemen discusses the life of Cushing in a very loveable portrait. An MP3 file can be found at the Peter Cushing Yahoo Group, however you need to be member of this group to get access to it.
*A new website dedicated to the Quatermass movies has just been set up that can be accessed here. At the moment it only has material about QUATERMASS 2, but more is to follow shortly. It looks to be one of those web sites that you just need to access as a fan in regular intervals. Steve Reed, the owner of this site has also started a blog about the subject.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
I had previously published some other articles and reviews in previous issues and one of these days I am confident that Harry Long, the publisher, will learn how to spell my name properly. LOL
Van Helsing’s Journal had emerged from the old Cushing Confidential Fanzine and is now dedicated to all things fantastic, with a heavy slant on often long forgotten silent movies and other productions worth of a re-evaluation.
Unfortunately, VHJ does not have a proper web presence, so check out your local cinema memorabilia stores to see if they have it stocked. Or else send an email or letter directly to the publisher for inquiries as to how to best order this publication:
Harry H Long
PO Box 2092
Sunday, March 23, 2008
It's only a cameo role alongside Jeremy Bulloch and a new actor who plays Dick Turpin
(she can't remember his name), but she and Jeremy get held up by Turpin and robbed. She plays a lady. It's directed by Chris Stone and is being filmed in Staffordshire in April. Will let you know more when I get it.
Sky One tonight will show the first part of Terry Pratchett's The Colour of Magic adaptation in which Christopher Lee can be heard as the voice of Death. The concluding second part will be shown tomorrow night.
Speaking of Lee: A new poster for Cowboys for Christ, the Robin Hardy/Wicker Man reimagining of sorts, now also has Joan Collins' name firmly attached to it. The filming for Christopher Lee's part will apparently start in April.
Not a new film, but a rare Hammer: According to DVD Drive-In The Man Who Could Cheat Death with be released by Legend Films later this year. The same company will also release the Amicus productions The Skull and The Deadly Bees.