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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 03:07 pm:   

I know I said I wouldn't be around much for a few weeks due to work, but I had to tell you about the upcoming Fantastic Films Weekend at the National Media Museum in Bradford (4-6 June):

http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk/fantastic/2010/

This looks superb, which a great variety of old and new films including one I've always wanted to see:

THREE CASES OF MURDER
From the blurb:
"A stylish portmanteau movie in the vein of Dead of Night, Three Cases of Murder starts in fantastical style as an obsessed artist persuades a museum warder to assist him in completing his painting. Alan Badel gives a mesmeric performance as 'Mr X' and appears in the remaining two tales, the latter co-starring Orson Welles. Chilling and memorable, this is an ultra-rare screening."

And a couple of special guests including:
"Michael Armstrong is best-known to genre aficionados for penning three eclectic horror films: Tigonís The Haunted House of Horror and the Herbert Lom/Udo Kier starrer Mark of the Devil (both of which he also directed) and Pete Walkerís all-star House of the Long Shadows. His earliest credit was The Image, a bizarre (and violent) short notable for providing David Bowie with his screen debut. Over the years Mark of the Devil, with its torture, thumbscrews and tongue-tearing, has garnered a deserved reputation for being one of the most visceral films of its type. Michael also co-wrote and co-directed the anthology Screamtime with Stanley Long."

The intro on the website also says something about Jeremy Dyson in a symposium talking about writing horror, but I can't find any more info about that on the website yet.

Anyway, I'll be there that weekend - anyone else from here likely to be going? If so, I'll buy you a drink!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 03:11 pm:   

Should say "WITH a great variety .." - that's the trouble with trying to type quickly. Apologies if I've any other typos in there.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 03:52 pm:   

Your sunny disposition will be sorely missed, Caroline, particularly on a Sat evening after the latest 'Doctor Who'... at least give us a brief thumbs up or down each week - you being our resident expert and all.

Good luck with all the work.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 03:58 pm:   

By the way, 'Three Cases Of Murder' is quite brilliant - particularly the first segment. I caught it on late night telly many years ago and haven't heard a peep about it since. Comparable to 'Dead Of Night' or 'The Half Way House' with Eamonn Andrews to boot at his most twinklingly sinister... "You thought you were here tonight to... but no..." etc.
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 10:06 am:   

The first episode of Three Cases of Murder (directed by Wendy Toye) is splendid and well worth catching - it's all about a painting of a gloomy old house that the central character ends up going into. Like Stevie I have very fond TV memories of it!
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 - 10:10 am:   

I might pop along to this festival - it's just up the road from me. Anyone else planning on going?
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 01:38 pm:   

Zed - I think I might have seen you on Saturday. Were you waiting for Faust wearing a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt? I wasn't sure it was you, so I wasn't confident enough to approach and ask.

Anyway, my thoughts on what I saw at FFW at the weekend:

On Friday, they'd arranged (jointly, with the University of Bradford) a symposium of academics talking about horror films (oh, if only I'd realised when I chose business studies as my degree subject that I could have studied something as interesting as "horror studies"!). I only went to the afternoon session, but I heard an interesting talk by someone about how vampires have evolved on film, followed by my main reason for going - a talk by Jeremy Dyson entitled "Shadows and Fog".

He showed clips from Lord of the Rings, I Walked With a Zombie and Night of the Demon to illustrate his premise that "less is more". The suggestion is that films are more enjoyable (for Dyson, but I totally agree with him) if there is a gap between what is shown on screen and what is actually intended to be portrayed; a gap that we fill with our imaginations. The clips illustrated it perfectly. The walk through the cornfield in I Walked With a Zombie is utterly chilling and most memorable, whereas the clip from LOTR - which leaves nothing to the imagination thanks to the CGI effects - left me cold.

Really, that talk framed the rest of the event for me, as I was then on the look-out for films which had that "gap", and I realised that's why I enjoy some films so much and not others (more recently, films like The Blair Witch Project, The Last Broadcast and The Others are examples which actually show very little but suggest so much - making them all the better as far as I'm concerned).

Oh, Dyson also suggested that the same is true in horror literature of course.

Anyway, I'm going to post this now and talk about the rest of the event in another post - if my computer crashes (as it does) when I'm in the middle of typing and I lose everything, I'll be most annoyed as this looks like it's going to be a long one ...
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 01:46 pm:   

Caroline - nope, that wasn't me. I did pan to attend the event, but...erm, kind of forgot it was on.

A Jimi hendrix T-shirt? Jeepers, I have much more sartorial elegance than that. My T-shirts have boobies on 'em.
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 01:54 pm:   

The clips illustrated it perfectly. The walk through the cornfield in I Walked With a Zombie is utterly chilling and most memorable, whereas the clip from LOTR - which leaves nothing to the imagination thanks to the CGI effects - left me cold.

One of the fun things about movies, and especially horror movies, is that they're a bit like the Bible - you can always find something somewhere that will back up your point of view. I'm not saying Mr Dyson is wrong here, but comparing those two pictures is a bit unfair. I have to say that I'm both a fan of 'less is more' (eg I Walked With a Zombie) and 'more is more' (eg Zombie Flesheaters), both of which were made in the best ways to achieve their desired effect. Lewton's zombie picture is spooky and disquieting, whereas Fulci's zombies terrified me because I knew what they'd do if they got hold of me.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 01:57 pm:   

Forgot to say, Jeremy Dyson also said that his play with Andy Nyman, Ghost Stories, has been so successful it's transferring to the West End shortly. I'm hoping it tours the country afterwards as I'd love to see it.

Back to FFW ... on Saturday I saw:

Jan Svankmajer's Faust - brilliant! I'd not seen this before. The mix of live action, puppets and stop-motion animation with clay is absolutely superb. I'm very glad I got to see this on the big screen.

Seeing this film gave me a weird thought - imagine Svankmajer giving his treatment to Ramsey's "Needing Ghosts" to bring it to the screen, complete with live action, puppets and "claymation"? What a wonderful film that would be!

Three Cases of Murder - I'd said here before that I'd not seen this film, but I had. I recognised it instantly when the first story, "In the Picture", started. This is one of those stand-out stories which, once seen, is never forgotten (although it had gone to the back of my mind - for some reason, I thought this was a story in Rod Serling's Night Gallery series). A superb tale, very well executed, with outstanding performances from the central actors. Very, very creepy. I loved it.

The other two stories in this anthology aren't up to much, although the third - starring Orson Welles - is reasonable, but if you get the chance to see this film, it's worth it just to see "In the Picture".

In the evening on Saturday, I saw film-maker Michael Armstrong being interviewed. Probably his most notorious film - and the one they were showing that evening which I didn't bother to go to - is the full-on, blood-and-gore Mark of the Devil. Armstrong seems to have the opposite view to Jeremy Dyson - ie. he likes to show everything in gory detail. It was interesting to hear his views on this though. I always thought that "exploitation" film-makers probably got some gratuitous pleasure from showing everything in gory detail, but Armstrong's take on it was that he did this to show what violence was *really* like in order to make a statement about how wrong it was, rather than the watered-down type of violence we're used to on screen which makes it more acceptable to the viewer.

My interest in Armstrong is because of a completely different kind of film he did, his homage to all the old horror films, House of the Long Shadows. He talked about this too. Made me chuckle. Apparently, he started the writing process by drawing up a list of all the horror cliches he could think of and then writing them into the film.

Interesting talk anyway. I enjoyed this. I even managed to grab a quick chat about House of the Long Shadows (and an autograph in my programme) with him the next day in the cafe!

Finally, Sunday coming up in the next post ..
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 02:02 pm:   

As usual, I agree with JLP. Horror has many faces (or should that be masks?).

imagine Svankmajer giving his treatment to Ramsey's "Needing Ghosts" to bring it to the screen, complete with live action, puppets and "claymation"? What a wonderful film that would be!

That's a cracking idea.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 02:20 pm:   

Zed - glad I didn't approach that guy then. To tell you the truth, he looked a little scary!

Lord P - I'm definitely not arguing with you. There are merits to both types of film. It's just that Dyson summed it up perfectly for *me*. Those are the kinds of films I prefer too. OK there's a certain fun in the full-on kind of stuff, but the films (and writing) which really do it for me are the ones with that "gap" which Dyson talked about.

OK, here's Sunday ...

Short films selection - FFW always has a really interesting selection of short films. These were all good but most notable were:

Dyson's film version of Aickman's "The Cicerones". I've not read the story, nor seen this film before. It was excellent. Of course, he'd utilised his "less is more" philosophy. I think the final line "The cathedral is closed" uttered by the entity which confronts our intrepid traveller (played by Mark Gatiss) is one of the most chilling lines I've ever heard delivered on screen.

"The Image" is a sixties short written and directed by Michael Armstrong, and starring a young David Bowie in his first screen role. Quite good, nice and creepy.

"Island" is another "less is more" film (as, I guess, a lot of short films will be as the film-makers don't have a big budget to work with and have to leave a lot to the viewer's imagination). I saw another film by this film-maker, Matt Palmer, a few years ago ("Daylight Hole") and he's one to watch for the future, I'm sure. Brilliantly creepy, as was his previous short.

That evening there was an interview with another film-maker, Stanley A Long. He wasn't of so much interest to me - most of his films seem to fit in the "sexploitation" category - but he was an amusing old chap, and it's quite fascinating to hear how things used to be in the world of film-making.

Afterwards, they showed the collaboration between Long and the other guest, Michael Armstrong. Under the pseudonym Al Beresford they'd put together an anthology, Screamtime, consisting of three shorts.

This is another film which I thought I'd never seen before, until the first story started. The first story is "That's the Way to do It" - the story of a punch-and-judy man, downtrodden by his wife and stepson, with revenge ultimately being served in the way that only Mr Punch could do! I can't recall when or where I first saw this, but it's another one which I recognised instantly. If you get the chance to see this, this story will *really* make you jump!

The second story "Dreamhome", is nice and creepy/scary too, although the final one "Do You Believe in Faries?" falls flat, mainly due to poor acting (apart from Dora Bryan who is fab as one of two dotty old ladies) and poor special effects (the garden gnome which jumps the burglar had everyone laughing out loud!).

Again, this is one I'm very glad I got to see on the big screen.

Overall, a brilliant weekend.
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 02:57 pm:   

Caroline that sounds like loads of fun - I wish I'd gone!

The Cicerones is a great little short film but the Aickman story is actually better. If you can find it it's in the 2nd Fontana book of Great Ghost Stories

I agree the Wendy Toye episode of Three Cases of Murder is a stunner & I would love to have seen it on the big screen.

Did Michael Armstrong talk about Gerry Levy messing up Haunted House of Horror? His comments on the DVD commentary are really bitter but quite funny - he often says 'I have no idea what's going on here - I never filmed this bit'. Apparently Levy hated blood & cut it all out of the final version!

Did Stanley Long say anything about Plasmid which was written but never filmed? It could have been a great British answer to Italian zombie pictures.

I've never seen Screamtime but I've read nothing but bad things about it. Not that that would stop me. Lucky girl!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 02:59 pm:   

Something else I forgot to say. I bought a book they were plugging at the event - "The Shrieking Sixties" - put together by some of the folk on the British Horror Films site/forum. It contains reviews of many UK horror films of that era - both cult classics and some more obscure ones. Well worth getting your hands on a copy if you're into films of that era.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 03:14 pm:   

John - you'd have loved FFW, and you'll also love the book I've just posted about above. You're the first person I thought of when I saw it!

Screamtime, too, would be just your kind of film I reckon. I have a feeling I saw all the stories as separate short films at some point on TV - possibly one of those Channel 4 seasons of short films? I don't know. But the punch-and-judy one definitely stands out. I think it's available on DVD? I might be wrong though.

Armstrong didn't actually say much about Haunted House of Horror - maybe that's why! I've definitely not seen that film, but I read up about it in the Shrieking Sixties book. Not sure it would be my kind of film at all.

Someone asked Long about Plasmid and he did say why it wasn't filmed - but I can't for the life of me remember what he said now. I'll try to recall and let you know if it comes back to me.

The beauty of FFW (this is the ninth in total, and the eighth one I've been to as I didn't know about the first) is that they screen so many films you'd really never get the opportunity to see on the big screen (well, apart from places like Manchester's Fantastic Films Festival, of course). They also tend to have the more "unusual" guests - not big names particularly, but really interesting people you wouldn't normally get to hear being interviewed. One of my proudest moments was a few years ago when I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter Duffell, director of The House That Dripped Blood, at the event.

FFW - I love it!
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 03:17 pm:   

Whoops, forgot again! I discovered that I *do* actually have a copy of the story, "The Cicerones", in an old anthology - one of those Michael Cox "Oxford Book of ..." ones. I must make a point of reading it now, and also of seeking out more Aickman to read. It really does seem like just my kind of thing.
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 03:36 pm:   

I'll look out for the 60s book Caroline - thanks! Kate & I are planning to go to Fantastic Films at Manchester later this year - are you going? We have some items for Ramsey's infamous auction that should ensure it's an entertaining session!
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Zed (Gary_mc)
Username: Gary_mc

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.166.117.210
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 03:38 pm:   

I might have a dodge along to that, John...
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John Llewellyn Probert (John_l_probert)
Username: John_l_probert

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 213.253.174.81
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 04:22 pm:   

Fantastic! Apparently there's a film quiz on the Sunday night which could be loads of drunken fun -I'm planning to take the Monday off deliberately.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 04:30 pm:   

I got the letter through about the FFF today. It's been a few years since I could make it but I think I can squeeze it into my hectic schedule this year.
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Carolinec (Carolinec)
Username: Carolinec

Registered: 06-2009
Posted From: 82.38.75.85
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 04:58 pm:   

I keep thinking I'd like to go along to FFF and then not managing to do it. When exactly is it? I seem to recall it's generally September time. The problem is, I hope to get to Fantasycon in Sept also, and I've just found out that my favorite Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, is at a con in Sheffield on the 4th, so if it's too close to either of those events then I probably can't make it.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 05:03 pm:   

Middle of October

http://fantastic-films.com/festival/

At sacha's hotel in Manchester - which was one of my favourite venues for it.
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Weber (Weber_gregston)
Username: Weber_gregston

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 194.176.105.55
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 05:14 pm:   

I don't know whether to stay at the hotel for the full convention experience or to commute in from home.
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Stevie Walsh (Stephenw)
Username: Stephenw

Registered: 03-2009
Posted From: 194.32.31.1
Posted on Tuesday, June 08, 2010 - 05:37 pm:   

Caroline, isn't Svankmajer's 'Faust' one of the most terrifying things you've ever seen. Wait till you see 'Lunacy' or 'Little Otik' or 'Conspirators Of Pleasure', if you haven't already.

I adore every frame of the guy's work but can only take him in small doses. That cinema season they showed here a couple of years ago gave me seriously unsettled dreams for weeks afterward. I rank him right alongside David Lynch as the greatest purveyor of nightmare surrealism cinema has ever produced.

Also, I agree, 'Three Cases Of Murder' is a real gem.
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Ramsey Campbell (Ramsey)
Username: Ramsey

Registered: 03-2008
Posted From: 195.93.21.74
Posted on Wednesday, June 09, 2010 - 03:20 pm:   

I wish I could have been in Bradford - especially for Jeremy's lecture - but Nashville summoned me. See my moribund blog for more details...

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