Thursday, 3 November 2011

Website issues

Just to let you know that the main website is down - as usual, I think it's down to non payment by me (I have a memory the same thing happened this time last year).
Hopefully we can get it all up and running as soon as possible... I'll keep you informed.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Norman J Warren - LIVE at the Festival Of Fantastic Films!

This weekend sees the annual get-together of like minded folk that is the Festival Of Fantastic Films.
This year star of the weekend is Norman J Warren, director of such amazing fayre as Satan's Slave, Inseminoid and Prey. You might remember I interviewed Norman recently.
Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend this year, but at 20 quid a day, why don't you? Manchester's lovely this time of year, and how often to you get to meet a bona fide legend in the flesh?
What's more, other guests include Robin "Relax, I'm not going to rape you" Askwith and Richard "I made the film he says that line in, you know" Gordon.
Get along and show your support, you know you want to!
More information available here...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Demons Never Die trailer

Here's a trailer for some kind of grime Scream rip-off (by the look of it) which is going to get far more attention than it deserves due to it featuring a certain lady off've The X Factor (whatever that is).

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The Hike competition

Regular reader (yes, you) might remember that earlier this year I met some of the stars of upcoming Brit movie The Hike. Woo, get me.
Well, it looks like it might finally be getting a release. Christ knows whether it's any good... some of the acting in the trailer is a bit off, and you'd have thought they'd at least pick the best thesping to promote the bloody thing.
Still, if you're the kind of person who enjoys films about people getting killed in the woods (because let's face it, there aren't fucking millions of those around these days, are there?), you might also like the idea of going to the star-studded premiere. The details are below. If you're male and heterosexual, I can recommend some of the female stars. Is "recommend" the right word? Does it make me sound like a Serbian pimp? Especially when one of them was in Hostel?


Win The Hike Premiere Tickets and Meet the Stars at London Comic Con

The MCM Expo London Comic Con lands on Halloween weekend this year, and what better way to celebrate the spookiness than by giving away a pair of tickets to the premiere of ace new British horror movie, THE HIKE?

Starring Tamer Hassan (Clash of the Titans), Ben Loyd Holmes (Torchwood) and Barbara Nedeljakova (Hostel), THE HIKE follows an all-female hiking expedition that takes a horrific turn for the worse when the girls discover they are not alone in the woods and if you'd like to be the first to find out what happens next and are 18 or over, check out our competition on MCM Buzz:

THE HIKE premiere takes place at the Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square, on 19 October. THE HIKE will also be screened free for London Comic Con visitors at the show on Friday 28 October, and director Rupert Bryan and the cast will all be on hand to meet fans and talk about the movie.

For more information about THE HIKE, which goes on general release on 24 October, visit

Sacrelicious! Fancy catching some classic horror on holy ground?

He famously kicked up a bit of a fuss when his folks tried to get him into church (sorry the above is in Italian, but you get the gist), but now it looks like young Damien Thorn has lost the fight. Cos classic Brit horror The Omen is getting an airing on the big screen, right there slap bang in God's house. Who'd've thunk it? Here's some info...




FRI 28TH, SUN 30TH & MON 31ST OCTOBER 2011 AT 7.30PM

Screening of 'The Exorcist' (1973) Friday 28th October at 7.30pm
Screening of 'The Omen' (1976) Sunday 30th October at 7.30pm
Screening of 'Halloween' (1978) Monday 31st October at 7.30pm
PLUS Special matinee screening of 'The Blair Witch Project' (1999) - Sunday 30th October at 4.45pm
A new alternative movie experience in the scariest of locations
Classic horror movies on the big screen
Licensed bar
Tickets: 11.50 per screening available online at
Times: Doors: 6.45pm. Screenings: 7.30pm
Tickets for matinee screening: 9.50
Times for matinee screening: Doors 4pm. Screening: 4.45pm
Nearest Tube/Rail: Hackney Downs/ Hackney Central
'Halloween Screamings' @ The Round Chapel: Powerscroft Road, London E5 0PU
For tickets and further information please go to:

From the creators of the Rooftop Film Club comes a brand new film experience especially for Halloween! Prepare to be scared as we unleash four classic horror movies in a real church! It is time to get seriously spooked and feel the suspense as we screen the Holy Grail of horror movies; a film which claims to be the scariest movie of all time 'The Exorcist' on Friday, then the imcomparable 'The Blair Witch Project' and the satanic 'The Omen' on Sunday and then the grand finale on Halloween night itself with the 1978 classic 'Halloween'!

Don't miss this chance to see some of the greatest horror films ever made on the BIG SCREAM (sorry we meant screen!) in this completely unique environment.

Fancy dress is not essential but we do encourage you to get in the Halloween spirit for these special Halloween screenings. Just don't forget to pack your cross, holy water, garlic, salt and practice those 'Hail Mary's' as you may just need them all!`

Flesh and Blood... new comic with Brit horror sensibility

This looks interesting... the makers describe it as being based on Brit horrors from the 60s and 70s, and the artwork looks gorgeous.

Human Centipede II gets 18 certificate

Well, we can all now see what all the fuss was about... Brit horror the Human Centipede II Full Sequence will be out in the UK at some point after the BBFC granted it an 18 certificate after a few judicious cuts. Hoorah and an eclaire for everyone. Made out of poo and dead babies.

Kill Keith teaser trailer

And lo, the strange compulsion for faded stars to de-construct their public personas continues...

I remain to be convinced with this one!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Grimm Up North 3 this weekend!

It’s Grimm Up North, in case you shandy drinking southerners hadn’t realised. And nowhere is it Grimmer than Manchester, particularly this coming weekend.
And I’m not talking about the Conservative party conference (ho ho little bit of politics). No! Cos as well as that, this weekend is the weekend that the Grimm Up North festival takes place, which includes all manner of Brit horror goodness.
The event opens on October 6 with the UK premiere of Retreat (mentioned t’other day on this very blog), a tale of the end of the world as experienced by two yuppies on a remote Scottish island. Sort of like Gregory’s Girl, except completely different. The evening will give you the opportunity to cross examine some cast members (I assume this means either Thandie Newton, Jamie Bell or Cillian Murphy or a combination, but I suppose it could mean the bloke who takes the couple to the island in his boat, which would be somewhat of a letdown). It’s also being hosted by that doyen of the feeble minded, emotionally retarded or recently bereaved, Yvette Fielding (is it right to describe Blue Peter viewers like that?) who has a vague link to my good self, in that she now lives in the town I grew up in. Get me with my showbiz mates. Why not go along and get all left-field on her ass by insisting on asking questions about Seaview?
And the closing night film on Sunday, October 9 will be none other than the long-unanticipated, and frankly unwanted, sequel to The Wicker Man, The Wicker Tree. Apparently it’s dreadful, but why not make up your own mind? And while you’re at it, take something to chuck at director Robin Hardy during the inevitable question session happening after the film.
But putting aside my inarticulate attempts at humour, there should be much to enjoy during the weekend for Brit horror, and indeed other-kinds-of-horror, fans.
A quick glance at the website reveals it’s going to be a hoot, and Manchester is actually a lovely place. Get yourself along to it and help support a thoroughly worthwhile cause – e.g. making sure that not everything happens in bloody London.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

A very unhappy birthday, to you

Word reaches me of a new release which is described as a hip new take on that perennial fave, The Wicker Man. It also, apparently, has a "Hammer vibe", although by the look of it, the sexuality of the whole thing would have had those old cardigan wearers at Bray choking on their pipes.
It also stars, by the look of it, Brit horror legend David McGillivray, perhaps better known for his work behind (or at least to one side of) the camera. So it, one would imagine, worth a look. Unhappy Birthday comes out on DVD on October 24.
Here's the gen:
A refreshingly queer take on the classic British horror film and inspired by cult classics such as The Wicker Man and Hammer House of Horror, Unhappy Birthday has a playfully retro vibe, a healthy irreverence and a deliciously deviant heart.
A surprise birthday party becomes a living nightmare for city-dwelling couple Sadie and Rick and their friend Jonny. They are invited to visit the remote tidal island of Amen by Corinne, an enigmatic local who hopefully holds the answers to long-buried family secrets. Amen is populated by a historically close-knit community who discourage strangers from visiting. So why have these three outsiders really been allowed on to the island? Despite the bucolic nature of the island the trio have a growing sense of unease, but they find themselves trapped by the tide and at the mercy of the islanders. As the horror of their situation unfolds, these visitors will wish they'd never been born!

New Brit horror dungeon launched

John Probert writes to tell me of a site he's set up to review old British horror films. Sounds like a familiar concept, wonder why no-one's thought of it before?
Then again, if people want to take a pop at the champ, why not? Bring it on, that's what I say (not literally, you might be an enormous nutter with an axe).
I'm joking, of course. It's nice to hear from fellow enthusiasts, and let's face it, I've done bugger all for quite a while now, so someone needs to keep the torch burning!
You can read John's first post here:

Sound The Retreat

If you like your psychological thrillers taut and claustrophobic, with a soupcon of killer plague, a dash of “nutjob in combat fatigues” and a peppering of Thandie Newton, then upcoming Brit flick The Retreat might be just what you’re looking for.
It’s “hitting cinemas” on October 14 and stars Ms Newton (someone I always think of as becoming famous in secret, as she suddenly seemed to crop up in films as the star and everyone else apparently already knew who she was) along with Cillian “Hello?!” Murphy and Jamie “Goodness, but he’s grown up in the last decade or so, who’d have thought that a child actor would actually turn into an adult actor? Not the Daily Mail, anyway, or your gran” Bell.
The synopsis I’ve been sent actually gives away the plot of the entire film, so suffice to say that grieving professional couple (yes, another one) Murphy and Newton decide to get away from it all, meet a soldier who claims the end of the world is nigh, and much high-jinks ensue.
Personally, I’m looking forward to a day when people making horror films stop putting professional couples in peril and start creating something a bit different. But perhaps that’s just me.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Centipede sequel is a Brit film, egad

With its predecessor currently being shown mouth-to-arse (sorry) on the Sci Fi Channel (surely there can be no greater accolade for a film than for it to go straight from limited cinema release to permanent rotation on a low rent satellite channel so remarkably quickly?), the sequel to The Human Centipede should have been appearing on a cinema screen near you quite soon. I say “should have”, because just in case you hadn’t noticed all the media furore over the past couple of weeks, it hasn’t. The BBFC have effectively “banned” the film in the UK, by refusing it a certificate. This appears, judging by the reviews from people who’ve managed to sit through it, to have bestowed on The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) (to give it its fill monicker) far more coverage than it should have got. After all, it’s not like we aren’t already awash with nasty little films about people smearing shit all over themselves and torturing each other, as any casual viewing of The Horror Channel will show. But that lot don’t get articles about them in The Guardian.
Let’s face it, we all know what THC2 will look, sound, and (probably) smell like. If you like that sort of thing, good luck to you. I’m sure it’ll eventually sneak out in some form or other, and you’ll get the chance to indulge in as much sandpaper wank, soiled bandages, dirty-protest cellars and amateur surgery as your horror-weary retinas can absorb. But did you know it was (semi) British? I didn’t, although the trailer gives a hint as the main protagonist’s mum berates him for watching pervy films with a distinctly English accent. She also delivers her lines incredibly badly, which, I would imagine, pretty much sets the tone for the whole sorry mess.
Now, I’m no expert, but doesn’t the BBFC’s stand against the film mark it down as the first British film to be banned in the UK since Expose became the only home-grown movie on the “video nasties” list? I think it might be. I also know which one I’d prefer to watch…


Or, this?


Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Red White and Blue out this Friday

This cheerful looking chap is Simon Rumley, Brit indie filmmaker. But don't let that dour expression fool you, he's actually a light hearted funster who wants nothing more than to tickle your funnybone and have you leave the cinema with a warm snuggly feeling about life. You know, like when you saw Notting Hill for the first time and genuinely thought "you know, perhaps Julia Roberts isn't that bad, and I quite like that Ronan Keating song, in context".
Simon has recently completed a film called Red, White and Blue, which is described as... hang on a minute, this guy isn't all sweet and lovely at all. It appears I've been misinformed. Red White and Blue, which opens in the UK this Friday, is a "psycho sexual thriller" (or to put it another way, "probably a bit rapey"). His next project is something called The Cherished One, a disturbing and dark thriller about a serial killer who uses his young daughter to entice his victims. Which sounds delightful.
And THEN he's planning on making a film called Stranger, which is produced by Mark Foligno, who made the heartwarmingly sweary The King's Speech, and Bob Portal, who was involved in Red White and Blue. Stranger is a thriller chase movie located in the heart of rural China, inspired by Spielberg's E.T... sorry, Duel.
Just to add to this trinity of unholy horrors, he's also just completed filming an instalment of The ABC’s of Death in Suriname. Which sounds like a laugh a minute.
Apologies to Simon, who, like me, is probably wondering how sending me a grumpy photo of himself can result in a bizarre jokeless blog post about how he doesn't make films like Notting Hill. On a horror website blog. It's a stream of consciousness thing. I'll get bored now and the next dozen posts will be cut and pasted direct from the original press releases, just watch.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

New Woman In Black trailer out

During afternoon tea there is a shift in the air,
A bone trembling chill that tells you she’s there,
There are those who believe that the whole town is cursed,
That the house in the marsh is by far the worst,
What she wants is unknown but she always comes back,
The spectre of darkness, The Woman in Black.

Not my words, dear readers, but the words of Mrs Jonathan Ross. The new Harry Pot... Ahem, Woman In Black trAiler is now available for you all to view, here. Huzzah!

The new trailer for upcoming supernatural thriller The Woman in Black, starring Daniel Radcliffe and directed by James Watkins (Eden Lake), is now available for your use alongside a revised synopsis for the release.

The Woman in Black will be released by Momentum Pictures on 10th February 2012.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Fiend without a face(book)?

Kevin Moss has been in touch about a project he's running to bring horror to the already pretty fucking terrifying (if you ask me) Facebook.

Here's the details from the horse's mouth:

"We are a small indie (aren't we all?) We have a story called Nightvision. The difference is we are trying to create a new type of horror experience played out on the internet and Facebook. We're calling it Facebook theater.

"We've done a couple of experiments and we can really crank the tension.

"Anyway take a look at for more info and a small trailer.

"We are trying to crowdfund the project which is an exciting experiment in itself."

Dark Tales on the stage

We've been contacted by Ian Breeds, who has an interesting project on the go in That London next week. He tells us:
"On the 24th August My theatre company is performing a four week tour of the 2 horror plays and 1 thriller that I have written at four fringe threatres in london. I didn't know whether this would be something that you and your followers would be interested in? I am also looking to turn the third play 'the Evacuee' into a horror film, so hopefully in the coming few years you will be able to watch that."

Sounds good, more info below!

The Dark Tales

Fear is a powerful emotion that travels through your body, infecting every inch of you in seconds. Dark Tales; three disturbing horror shows in one night.

Bloody Mary- a dare that takes a turn for the worse

Unsound Mind- a prescription for troubled love

The Evacuee- your past is never laid to rest.

A truly terrifying night, not to be missed and definitely not for the faint hearted.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Stalker artwork unveiled

My old mate (well, we met once - she touched my arm!) Linda Hayden is in an upcoming psycho-thriller style horror called Stalker, which is apparently directed by one of the blokes out of Spandau Ballet (go figure). Here's the artwork and a bit of info...

Black & Blue Films release new artwork for Martin Kemp’s STALKER ahead of its UK theatrical release on Oct 10

The much anticipated psychological chiller, which marks the feature-film debut of actor Martin Kemp, is set to stalk cinemas across the UK from October 10, ahead of its DVD release on October 17.

Jonathan Sothcott said today: "Stalker is the slickest, best-directed film we've made to date and a genuinely well-made, creepy horror film in its own right. We feel it is strong enough to stand a theatrical release in selected UK cinemas and we're looking forward to unleashing it on the world."

STALKER, also written by Martin Kemp, stars Jane March, Colin Salmon, Anna Brecon, Billy Murray, Jeniffer Matter and Linda Hayden.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Exclusive interview with Norman J Warren

It's finally here, and on the main site, my Exclusive interview with Norman J Warren, the man behind Inseminoid, Satan's Slave, Prey and Terror. Be warned, it's long and quite in-depth. So grab yourself a cup of tea and a biscuit, sit in a comfy chair, and enjoy. And don't stab yourself in the eye with that nail file, give birth to alien twins, chop your foot off with a space chainsaw, eviscerate a horny non-lesbian, or get involved in a punch-up with a can of film. Again. Please. I had to clean the mess up last time.

New review! Jake West's Evil Aliens | 2005

What-ho! The main website has finally been updated, so now you can find out exactly what I think of Evil Aliens (not the creatures, the film)...

Jake West's Evil Aliens | 2005

Saturday, 25 June 2011


The last couple of posts have been shocking - badly laid out, no pictures where there were supposed to be pictures etc. I've gone back and sorted them out now. Whaddya mean you can't see any difference? Cheeky sods.
Anyway, the reason for this sudden dip in quality was a new phone - gone is my cheapo Android job which did at least have a "Blogger" app - in its place is a swanky Apple number, you know the sort. Personally I'd have rather had a swanky Android phone, but perhaps surprisingly, Apple were doing the best deal at the time, so Apple it was. (It's very nice, by the way - I'm certainly not complaining).
The only problem is that I can't seem to find an app for blogging. It's probably some political thing (Blogger being Google and Apple being the evil Nazis of doom, apparently), but can anyone help point me in the right direction? Just a name would do...
In the meantime I'll only be updating this Blog via the tried and trusted method of switching my PC on.

Friday, 24 June 2011

New poster artwork revealed for Strippers v Werewolves (reloaded so you can SEE the artwork)

Hmm... Well, here it is, making full use of that bloke out of Spandau Ballet's minimal appearance too, by the look of it. Does it look a bit shit? I'll let you decide. Who's going to go and see it? I'll let you decide...
Blurb below.

Check out this exclusive new poster art work for UK comedy horror flick Strippers Vs Werewolves, which has just wrapped after a five week shoot in Croydon.

Who is the sexy Ali Bastian (who plays stripper DANNI) pointing her shotgun at? Why none other than Martin Kemp of course – who plays strip-club punter MICKEY - who just happens to be a werewolf.

Centred around VIXENS, a London strip-club, Strippers Vs Werewolves has an all-star cast including Adele Silva, Billy Murray, Barbara Nedeljekova, Ali Bastian, Lucy Pinder, Martin Compston, Robert Englund, Sarah Douglas and Alan Ford.

Director is Jonathan (13 Hrs) Glendenning and producers are Jonathan Sothcott and Simon Phillips.

Monday, 13 June 2011

FrightFest premieres Lonely Place To Die

Hello. Second time of the night for an update via the clunky method of emailing from my iPhone. New Brit shocker A Lonely Place To Die is one of the highlights at this years Film4 FrightFest. More below...

Film4 FrightFest 2011 announces opening & closing night films.

The Guillermo del Toro produced creature creeper DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK is set to open this year's Film4 FrightFest. Starring Katie Holmes, Guy Pearce and directed by comic book artist Troy Nixey, this will be the film'sUK premiere ahead of a planned nationwide release in September, courtesy of Optimum Releasing.

Based on the 1973 US TV movie and bearing del Toro's distinctive touch of class, first-time director Nixey explores a demonic tooth fairy myth in a tense flight of terrifying fantasy orchestrated with stylish verve and stunning sound design that will rock the Empire cinemato its rafters.

Film4 FrightFest will close with theEuropean premiere of the harrowing and nerve-jangling British survival shocker A LONELY PLACE TO DIE, directed by Julian Gilbey andstarring Melissa George (pictured right). Set in the Scottish Highlands, a group of mountaineers discover a young Serbian girl buried alive in the wilderness. In their attempt to get the girl ro safety they become caught up in a terrifying game of cat and mouse.

Spencer Bright, CEO of UK distributor KaleidoscopeEntertainment, commented: "We are delighted to be chosen as the closing night's film at Frightfest this year. We've enjoyed a great relationship with the festival over the last three years and to have the final film at this year's festival - without doubt the biggest and best to date, it's a real honour".

A LONELY PLACE TO DIE will be released in UK cinemas from Sept 9.

Film4 FrightFest 2011, the UK's biggest genre film fest,runs from Thursday 25 August to Monday 29 August at the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square. The full line up will be announced on 1st July. Festival & day passes go on sale from 2nd July. Tickets for Individual films on sale from Ist August.

FrightFest was created in 2000 by film producer Paul McEvoy, journalist and broadcaster Alan Jones and film distributor/booker Ian Rattray. Greg Day, the festival's long standing PR, became a joint director in 2007. From its cult roots at the Prince Charles Cinema it has grown to become one of the genre's most vibrant, credible and recognisable brands, helping to launch the careers of directors such as Simon Rumley, Christopher Smith, Eli Roth, Neil Marshall and Simon Hunter. Apart from the annual 5-day event in London, FrightFest has a strand at the Glasgow Film Festival and hosts a Halloween all-night horrorthon. Dubbed "the Woodstock of Gore" by director Guillermo Del Toro, the festival has attracted sponsorship and media partnerships with such leading brands as Film4, Total Film Magazine, FIVE, Volkswagen,, The Times, XFM, Atari., Soho House, The Horror Channel and Bizarre Magazine.

Assault in pub

Fancy a bit of 70s Brit giallo? It's still on my "to watch" list and now you can beat me to it, thanks to a rare screening of Carry On horror Assault by those lovely people at the Filmbar in London...

presents Assault
Tues 21st June
Roxy Bar and Screen, London

Filmbar70 is proud to present the definitive British giallo from the creators of 'Carry On', the luridly entitled 'Assault' (1971).
When a sex crazed maniac targets the pupils of an allgirl's school, police detective Velyan (Frank Finley)suspects that the attacks may escalate to murder. When his fears are sadly realised, Velyan enlists the aid of an eyewitness to the crime - plucky schoolteacher Julie West (Suzy Kendall). Yet Julie is unsure of what, and who, she really saw. With the help of a seedy gutter press journo (Freddie Jones), she initiates a plan to trap the killer - a potentially lethal plan that involves her acting as bait…
Hailing from an age where political correctness was but a glimmer in society's eye, 'Assault', is an attempt to transplant the sordid yet stylish murder mysteries of the Italian giallo to UK shores, and contains all the tropes that would become synonymous with the genre - the faulty perception of the protagonist, the expansive array of shifty suspects, the black leather gloves of the killer– albeit situated within the rather less glamorous environs of English market towns.
Produced by 'Carry On' head honcho Peter Rogers and directed by the un-hailed genius Sidney Hayers,'Assault' is graced with a stellar cast of genre favourites. Suzy Kendall (fresh from being terrorised theprevious year in Dario Argento's landmark giallo 'TheBird with the Crystal Plumage') makes for a winsome heroine, Tony Beckley ('The Fiend' himself) provides suitably sleazy support and Freddie Jones channels the spirit of Eric Morecambe to hilarious effect. Also, make sure to keep your peepers peeled for pop sensation David Essex in his explosive first big screen appearance.
'Assault' is Britsploitation at its most wonderfully outrageous and is replete with more male chauvinist pigs, dodgy gender politics and sensationalistshenanigans than you can possibly shake a black leather encased fist at…
In addition to 'Assault', we'll be celebrating the finest of '70s British Grot, with retro ads, trailers and the odd bit of telly. So expect birds, blokes and beer…

'Assault' will be screened on the 21st of June at the Roxy Bar and Screen, 128 – 132 Borough High Street, London SE1 1LB.
Doors open at 7pm, programme begins at 8pm.
£3.00 admission.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Attack The Block - iTunes content now available

As I think I've mentioned, we're all very excited here in leafy Cheshire about the forthcoming (as in tomorrow) Joe Cornish alien-attacks-young-street-kids-athon Attack The Block.
And now there's more stuff for you ker-azy ker-ids to download onto your ker-iPods which is in some way related to said ker-film.

You can now download the official Attack the Block game from itunes

You can also access a range of Attack the Block video content through the Attack the Block room on itunes

Attack the Block is a fast, funny, frightening action adventure movie that pits a teen gang against an invasion of savage alien monsters. It turns a London housing estate into a sci-fi playground. A tower block into a fortress under siege. And teenage street kids into heroes. It¹s inner city versus outer space.

Trainee nurse Sam is walking home to her flat in a scary South London tower block when she¹s robbed by a gang of masked, hooded youths. She¹s saved when the gang are distracted by a bright meteorite, which falls from the sky and hits a nearby parked car. Sam flees, just before the gang are attacked by a small alien creature that leaps from the wreckage. The gang chase the creature and kill it, dragging its ghoulish carcass to the top of the block, which they treat as their territory. While Sam and the police hunt for the gang, a second wave of meteors fall. Confident of victory against such feeble invaders, the gang grab weapons, mount bikes and mopeds, and set out to defend their turf. But this time, the creatures are bigger. Much bigger. Savage, shadowy and bestial, they are hunting their fallen comrade and nothing will stand in their way. The estate is about to become a battleground. And the bunch of no-hope kids who just attacked Sam are about to become her, and the block¹s, only hope.

Attack the Block is in cinemas 11th May

Attack the Block - Nick Frost's character video clip

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Thursday, 5 May 2011

10th Fantastic Films Weekend sacrifice and horror films festival UK - National Media Museum

June sees the 10th Fantastic Films Weekend take place in Bradford, and this year it promises a load of classic British horror film related goodness. Sadly I won't be there, but you need to go.
Here's some details from Artistic Director Tony Earnshaw:

Our tenth edition is deliberately retro in mood. Wallow in some of the best from Hammer and Amicus. Soak up the blood-soaked delights of a gaggle of female vampires. Re-acquaint yourselves with Messrs Cushing, Lee and Price, the latter celebrating his centenary in 2011.

Our guests include Peter Sasdy, purveyor of such fare as Countess Dracula, Hands of the Ripper and Nothing but the Night, and Jonathan Miller, the man behind Whistle and I'll Come to You, still regarded as the best televisual rendition of any M.R. James tale.

And with the deaths of Ingrid Pitt and Roy Ward Baker we bid farewell to two old f(r)iends. It's fitting that we honour their memories with screenings of their films. For lovely Ingrid, it's a double dose of Hammer horrors. Similarly from Roy’s canon we present The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and The Vampire Lovers.

Seen them before? Then watch them again where they should be seen: on the movie screen. In the dark. With friends. Or strangers.

Feel the fear...

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Boobs ahoy for BHF flick Strippers vs Werewolves

The latest top heavy lady signing up for apparently completely breast fixated film company Black and Blue is lads' mag favourite Lucy Pinder. Pinder, best known for getting them out many times by the look of the Google image search I just did on her name, will be joining Hostel star and friend of the website (well okay, she spoke to me once) Barbara Nedeljekova.

Chests ahoy, as I'm sure producer Jonathan Sothcott has probably said.

Top model Lucy Pinder makes her feature film debut in Brit comedy film STRIPPERS VS WEREWOLVES, playing a sexy vampire bride who terrorises a vampire hunter.

Lucy said today: "I'm delighted to be making my feature film debut for Black & Blue Films in Strippers Vs Werewolves - it's a really funny part and a hilarious script and I can't wait to start."

Jonathan Sothcott, producer, added: "We are thrilled to have Lucy, undoubtedly the UK's top glamour model, making her first film with us. Strippers Vs Werewolves is a film that will deliver on its title and we know that with Lucy on board the boys won't be disappointed!"

Set to begin shooting on May 16, the hilariously gory romp, centred around a London strip-club, also stars Emmerdale’s Adele Silva, Barbara Nedeljekova (star of Hostel), Billy Murray & Superman villain Sarah Douglas and will be directed by Jonathan (13 Hrs) Glendenning.

The film is being made by top UK Indie film company Black & Blue Films, whose credits include Dead Cert, Devil’s Playground, Just For The Record and the recently filmed Elfie Hopkins starring Jaime Winstone.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

80s icon Anthony "overwhelmed" with green-lit horror

Ah, Lysette Anthony. Always a bit of a fave as far as I'm concerned, despite a singular lack of appearance in anything of much note, BHF-wise. You may remember her from 80s sitcom 3 Up 2 Down, when she shone next to what I can only describe as a woefully miscast "husband". (She - gorgeous, him - not so). And when I say "shone" I mean in a luminous beauty way, as to be honest, there wasn't a huge amount of acting or comic timing going on anywhere on screen. But I digress. And to digress just a tad further, if that's a recent photo of the now 47 years old Ms Anthony, then well done, genes.
Aaaanyhoo, Ms Anthony is now diversifying, and courtesy of British Horror Films fave Jonathan Sothcott, is about to start work on a horror film on t'other side of the camera.
Details below. And how many films does that mean Black & Blue films are working on this year? A regular little Amicus they're turning into...

Leading UK indie Black & Blue Films has teamed up with actress Lysette Anthony to produce supernatural thriller WHISPER, the first picture from her new company PerfectFeatures.
WHISPER, which goes into production in September 2011 on locations in the UK, explores the nature of grief and the terrifying consequences of experimenting with Electronic Voice Phenomena to talk to the dead.
It will be helmed by Terence Gross, the award-winning director of Hotel Splendide. The cast will be announced shortly.
Jonathan Sothcott, Black & Blue’s MD said today: "We are delighted to be partnering with Lysette and her business partner Rachel Chatterjee for Whisper. They have identified and secured a genuinely excellent project that we are looking forward to bringing to the screen and we're thrilled that they chose Black and Blue to help them with their feature debut. Lysette has been one of my favourite actresses for a long time and I'm especially thrilled that she's going to be working with us."
Lysette Anthony added: “To be honest Rachel and I are a little overwhelmed. To have Black & Blue green-light us with the ink barely dry on our latest ‘Whisper’ draft is, well, the stuff of movies. We’re honoured to be making our first film with them.”

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

More interviews: Melvyn Hayes, Edward de Souza, Honor Blackman, Linda Hayden

Continuing, and finishing, my round up of the recent Memorabilia event at the Birmingham NEC, which was stuffed to the gunnels with Brit horror alumni...
Part 1
Part 2
Hayes. The horror, the horror...
Next up is Melvyn Hayes. Now what, you might be asking, does he have to do with the world of Brit horror? Well, quite a lot, actually. You may remember him best for his OTT performance as Gloria in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum (which I still love, incidentally – perhaps I should have told him that), or if you’re of a younger persuasion, apparently he’s currently appearing in Benidorm (which I don’t, having never seen it).
But he was also in a couple of pivotal early British horror films, including – believe it or not – playing Baron Frankenstein in Hammer’s The Curse Of Frankenstein.
“Now, Chris,” you might well be saying, shaking your head, “you’ve lost it, finally. It was bound to happen sooner or later, but that’s quite a spectacular mistake. Everyone knows that Baron Frankenstein was played by Brit horror stalwart Peter Cushing, not a wide-eyed camp buffoon with a sweaty side parting and a love of dressing up in women’s clothing (as a character in a much-loved sitcom, I hasten to add).”
Well, allow me to illuminate. Closer inspection of said film reveals that in flashbacks to his young life, the student Baron is played by none other than Mr Hayes (a much more savoury proposition that Hammer’s later remake, The Horror Of Frankenstein, where they attempted a similar effect by getting Ralph Bates to put on a school uniform).
I approach Mr Hayes with trepidation. To be fair, he’s another one who looks remarkably young, but those eyes are filled with a kind of resigned hatred for everyone in the room (or so it seems to me). At the last minute I nearly bottle it and almost decide to talk to Olive from On The Buses, who is sitting next to him and looks lovely. But faint heart never won Pulitzer Prize for Services To British Horror Films. And Olive from On The Buses never appeared in a horror film, although technically she is a Hammer starlet, cos they made the films.
I assume I’m going to be coming at him from left field here, him being a bona fide sitcom star and not a recognised horror “name”. But as I start chatting he grabs a photo off the desk in front of him which shows Mr Hayes and Mr Cushing on the set of Curse Of Frankenstein, in matching wigs.
Not Peter Cushing. Put your glasses on. See?
“I got the part because we had the same colour eyes,” he tells me. “This photograph is unique as we didn’t appear together in the film, as I play him as a much younger man.”
He reveals that he was originally going to have a bigger part in the film including some scenes with the headmaster of his school, but these were never shot.
At around the same time he appeared in another genuine classic, again with Cushing, The Flesh And The Fiends. As the character Daft Jamie, he meets a particularly horrible end. “I got battered to death in a pig sty by Donald Pleasence!” he announces, possibly a bit too loudly. I tell him that to me, it is one of the most unpleasant deaths I’ve seen on screen. “You should have seen the Japanese version,” he says. It turns out Mr Hayes is a nice man, but a busy one – so again I move out of the way and allow the autograph hunters to do their thing.
On the next table, sandwiched between Mary Collinson and Linda Hayden (which let’s face it is something a lot of people would have aspired to back in the 70s) is the cheerful face of Edward de Souza. I get an uproarious welcome from this one, he’s a proper, old-skool joy to talk to.
Edward de Souza
Mr de Souza was the handsome lead in a couple of early Hammer Gothics, and is still much in demand – including a recent appearance alongside Christopher Lee in The Golden Compass. “I had a snake to play with as my daemon!” he announces.
I turn the discussion away from such matters and onto his Hammer years. “It was a long, long time ago,” he says. “But I loved doing them. One of the great things about acting in a Hammer film was that they did them at Bray. If you were playing in a film at Bray it was the only film being made there at that time, so everything was about your film. It made you feel very special.
“The director of Phantom Of The Opera was Terence Fisher – he was wonderful. And Herbert Lom was very, very good in his part – although of course you didn’t see much of his face!”
After chatting about the rest of the cast in that mini-classic, we move on to discussing Kiss Of The Vampire. “What was quite funny about that was that it was set in the same period of time – turn of the century – so I was actually wearing one of the same suits that I wore in the previous film. It was directed by Don Sharp who was a great friend of mine. When I think that all those films were made 45 years ago, it’s amazing!
“At Hammer every department was full of integrity, from the writing to the design to the direction to the production values to the casting – of course!
“It was a wonderful place to work. You felt very special.”
Well. That was lovely, and possibly the most illuminating interview I’ve managed to achieve all day. Mr de Souza is a brilliant laugh, a great raconteur, and obviously has a great love of the company which made him famous. He said a lot more, but I was chuckling so much I didn’t write it all down. He also looks a good 20 years younger than he must be. Have all these people got portraits in their attics?
Speaking of young-looking people, the next on my list is Honor Blackman, who somehow managed to look 40-ish for a good three decades. Is it worth opening our conversation with “Pussy Galore, I musht be dreaming?”, I wonder. By the look of her, and the big sign behind her which says “NO PHOTOGRAPHS”, probably not. A wise decision, as it turns out.
I must be dreaming.
I announce myself in the now time-honoured fashion. Her hassled-looking companion says it’s okay for me to have a chat.
“WHAT?” shouts Miss Blackman in those distinctive gravely tones. I re-announce myself, explaining that I want to talk to her about the horror movies she made.
“But I only made one!” she shouts, looking most affronted. Must be something about former Bond girls. I suppose that when you’re used to getting chatted up by Sean Connery or Roger Moore, being quizzed by a skinny, greying scruffbag wearing a cardie must come a far second. I suggest she might have made more than one, trying desperately to remember what those films might have been. I did create a list the night before, but I get the feeling that scrabbling around in my satchel might not further enamour me to my interviewee. Suddenly, I have a lightbulb moment.
Fright!” I shout back, victoriously.
“That wasn’t a horror film – that was a proper film!” she returns. To which I have no answer.
I decide to try safer ground, as her name is linked with a new film called Cockneys vs Zombies. What part is she playing, I venture.
“A cockney!” comes the reply. I suddenly realise that given her age, that question could have been deemed an insult. Has she seen the script?
“Of course I’ve seen the script!” Blimey. It’s like talking to a less sweary version of Catherine Tate’s Nan. “I’ve been to a read-through so far. They approached me for the part asking if I could revert to what I used to be.”
Which was? I ask, now enjoying myself. There’s a twinkle in those eyes, and bloody hell, I am talking to Pussy Galore, after all.
“A cockney!” she growls. “It won’t be a glamorous shoot, but it is a very funny script. It made me laugh out loud, which is very unusual!”
I then ask her about her “one” horror film, Hammer’s To The Devil… A Daughter. Considering I’ve just been talking to Melvyn Hayes about their first full-blooded horror film, it seems almost like it was planned that I’m now talking about their last one.
She talks about Richard Widmark and Denholm Elliot, but can’t remember much else. I tell her that she ends up with a letter opener sticking through her neck, but she just looks blankly at me. Then I mention that it was Hammer’s last horror film.
“The last one? Really? Did I finish them off, then?” she chuckles. The day is drawing to a close, and the queues have visibly diminished. I’ve got time for one more interview, and from a British horror films point of view, it’s possibly the biggest. Linda Hayden, teenage star of Blood On Satan’s Claw and Taste The Blood Of Dracula. All day long her desk has seen the biggest queues (bar those at A-Team star Dirk Benedict’s). And despite all the big names I’ve chatted to today, including the frosty Ms Ekland and the awe inspiring Ms Blackman, it’s her that I’m most worried about. I have a vague idea that she’s not very friendly, that she’s not overly keen on the whole “fan thing”. Where this idea has come from I do not know. But it’s preying on my mind.
Linda Hayden - the kind of welcome I was expecting!
Seeing a gap appear in front of her, I make my play. She smiles and offers me a seat next to her – the first time THIS has happened all day. I feel genuinely overwhelmed. And then, despite cries from the neighbouring table of “Don’t talk to him!” and “He’s a crap interviewer!” courtesy of the incorrigible Edward de Souza, and with the occasional grabbing of my arm to reinforce her point (admit it, you’re just a teeny bit jealous) she starts talking, seemingly genuinely happy to discuss all those films I thought she now wanted to forget.
“I was very young when I started, of course – I was 15, old enough to make them but not old enough to watch them!
Taste The Blood Of Dracula - Hayden, left, on the pull. That bloke's not interested.
“I thoroughly enjoyed making Taste The Blood Of Dracula – it was at Elstree when Elstree was still functioning. I worked with a lovely cast and then, of course, I got offered this other thing – Blood On Satan’s Claw. It was probably the most famous film I did – I do remember getting a rave review in the New York Times.
Angel Blake! Michael Bentine's favourite non-potty character
“I can remember that later I was working at Pinewood Studios and who should come walking towards me but Michael Bentine. He was a big star but before I could say anything to him he just said ‘Angel Blake!’. I probably looked a bit blank because I wasn’t expecting it. Then he said ‘I just had to come up and say hello to Angel Blake!’. I thought is he taking the piss? But he explained he was a big fan of the film and of me. I was very flattered.
“Piers Haggard is a great director – quite amazing and very charismatic. He pushed all the right buttons!
“It is still the horror genre that I’m known for more than anything. I did an interview for the Horror Channel when it first started in the UK, and I think because they didn’t have enough films to fill their schedules it kept going round and round. I became the face of the Horror Channel for a while! I thought it was a shame because they didn’t make it what it could have been.
“My husband works in the theatre and whenever I’m there, there are always fans waiting for me at the stage door. I can’t knock it!”
Niven has a go in Vampira
As well as the knockabout Peter Cushing – Vincent Price vehicle Madhouse, she also appeared alongside David Niven in the now all but forgotten, slightly racist broad vampire comedy Vampira.
“Vampira was great fun to do, I loved it. I had just lost my dad just before – he had been ill for a while but I think my career had kept him going. He was in love with showbusiness.”
She said that during filming, Niven had taken her under his wing.
“David Niven was involved because his son was friends with the producer Jack Weiner, and it was all done through Chelsea residents. The film was the ‘in thing’ to be in and it became a huge social time. It was worth it just to meet David Niven, this beautiful man who took me out to dinner a couple of times. During filming I kept coming back to see them all. We were living in Bognor Regis at the time but the weather was so good that David refused to believe that I hadn’t been abroad!”
Another of her favourites was the 1976 thriller Something To Hide, where she plays a hitchhiker. “I thought it was a horror film all on its own, and a very intricate thriller. It was very good but was not really a feature film – it would have made a better TV drama.”
Something To Hide
During our interview – which actually makes me miss my train back to leafy Cheshire – she has been nothing short of fabulous. There have been a number of interruptions from a variety of people, and she seems genuinely happy to talk to anyone (even me). One guy in a Peter Cushing t-shirt comes up and they have a brief chat like old friends, as he walks away she tells me she’s never met him before. I mention about her queue being the longest of the day. “It’s amazing!” she laughs. “I think it’s because I don’t do these things very often. If I came to them all no-one would be bothered.”
The lady today. Or rather, t'other week.

I beg to differ. As I shake her hand and say goodbye, I realise I’m a little bit in love.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Woman In Black teaser trailer

Following on from the last post, here's the trailer for next year's release of The Woman In Black. Talk about a long build-up!

Hammer's Woman In Black release date announced

Hammer have announced the release date for their much-anticipated return to period gothic horror, The Woman In Black. Having seen the ultra-scary stage show, I for one am looking forward to it, and I have to say that Mr Radcliffe looks the part in this photo...

Here's the promo stuff:

10 April 2011, London, UK – Momentum Pictures, an Alliance Films company, are proud to announce that the highly anticipated big screen adaptation of THE WOMAN IN BLACK will be released in UK cinemas on 10 February 2012.

Based on the classic ghost story, THE WOMAN IN BLACK tells the tale of Arthur Kipps (Daniel Radcliffe), a lawyer who is forced to leave his young son and travel to a remote village to attend to the affairs of the recently deceased owner of Eel Marsh House.

Working alone in the old mansion, Kipps begins to uncover the town’s tragic and tortured secrets and his fears escalate when he discovers that local children have been dying under mysterious circumstances. When those closest to him become threatened by the vengeful woman in black, Kipps must find a way to break the cycle of terror.

THE WOMAN IN BLACK also stars Ciaran Hinds (TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY) and Janet McTeer (TUMBLEWEEDS), was adapted from Susan Hill’s novel for the screen by Jane Goldman (KICK ASS) and directed by James Watkins (EDEN LAKE).

For more information visit and

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Memorabilia pt 2 - Sheila Staefel and The Hike

Before I re-start my reminiscences about last Saturday, a word about “cosplay”. I’d never heard of this until last week, and I’m still not entirely sure what it is – I think it means grown people dressing up as characters they like off the telly. But not in the safety of their own homes, or at a fancy dress party. No! They do this at big events like Memorabilia at the NEC. And, it appears, they aren’t doing it for any other reason than they like to do it. Of course, there were people at the event who were dressing up as sci fi icons for profit – for a fiver you could have your photo taken with “the cast of Back To The Future”, “Doctor David Tennant Who and Davros” or a couple of Judge Dredds who looked like they’d let themselves go a bit. But thanks to the genuine cosplayers (?) you could also get a free picture of you with Amy Pond, any number of Doctors from a variety of different decades (although no Tom Bakers for some reason), Amy Pond, Manga women in corsets with pink hair, Amy Pond, a very skinny Magneto, Amy Pond, assorted zombies, or Amy Pond. Some of the “Doctors” were definitely verging towards the delusional, and the presence of Karen Gillan in the last series has certainly given yer young redheads the confidence to step out of their front door in a saucy policewoman’s uniform (which is no bad thing). But their presence all added to the considerable charm of the day. What’s not to like about a bunch of people who are so into their chosen hobby that they actually want to do this? It’s lovely. And every emo Troughton or emaciated Tennant I brushed past during the day put a smile on my face – a genuine smile too, not a cynical “what a dick” sneer. There’s no difference between wanting to dress up as a sci fi character or wearing a football shirt with some twat of a footballer’s name on the back of it, as far as I’m concerned. I’d never do either, but I know which I prefer to see.
So, yes. Cosplay. Bizarre, but very sweet.
And as a side note, I kind of did it on a grand scale myself back in the 90s, when I bought a Ford Capri and spent a couple of years pretending to be Lewis Collins circa 1980.

But I digress. Who did I attack next off my hastily scribbled list? Ah, yes… Sheila Staefel.
Now, I didn’t know much about Ms Staefel (being the uninformed fuckwit I am, I’ve literally just discovered that she used to be married to Harry H Corbett thank you Wikipaedia), but I did know that she appeared in a couple of Brit horrors. There’s a blink and you’ll miss it appearance in Quatermass And The Pit (in which she looks quite saucy in a bookish, 60s kind of way, see pic above): “I was very thrilled that I was given a close-up, and that I was wearing a red beret which made me stand out.”
And then, thanks to her long-standing comedy relationship with Kenny Everett, there was Bloodbath At The House Of Death.
“It was fun. We were all doing Kenny’s show on the television. I remember Pamela Stephenson was playing the heroine and she had to do a scene where she was being molested by a ghost and she put in the most extraordinary performance! It was probably the most pornographic scene ever shot, it was lucky it was closed set.
“I also remember killing my mum with a tin opener…”
Which is not a sentence you often hear anyone saying. After a brief chat about Michael McIntyre’s dad (he wrote the script, along with Barry Cryer) and Vincent Price (who was in the film, but didn’t, she thought, share any scenes with Sheila) I tell her that she hasn’t changed much (and she hasn’t, she’s remarkably young looking) and she responds by saying I look too young to be the kind of old skool journo who uses shorthand. Before our romance can blossom any further I’m interrupted by some bloke clasping a Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD book, so I bid her goodbye.
The cast of The Hike
It’s also time for the Q&A about The Hike, which is delayed slightly due to the preceding session being about a little-known BBC3 drama called Being Human, or something. The place is absolutely packed out, and much hilarity is heard. Sadly, I’ve not seen the programme (young looking I may be, Ms Staefel, but I’m far too old for BBC3), but it seems remarkably popular.
Finally, Russell Tovey shuts the fuck up and pretty much everyone files out of the room. I seriously wonder if I’m going to be sitting on my own in there with the entire cast of The Hike staring at me for 30 minutes, but thankfully it does start to fill up again. And the cast arrive and file in, looking even more good looking than they did whilst mucking about with their mobile phones earlier. The girls are all absolutely stunning, so if that’s your one reason for viewing a film, you won’t go far wrong with this ‘un. I suppose the blokes are, too, but I’m no judge.
Dan, Ben, potential future wife for me Jemma Bolt and Zara Phythian
We’re given a clip from the beginning, when the group first meet up (not the most riveting of scenes, and some of the acting does leave a bit to be desired, making it a less than ideal primer), but this is followed by a trailer which hints at (or, to be more accurate, bludgeons you round the head with) a well made, nicely shot, hysterical Deliverance-cum-Descent tale of people having nasty things done to them whilst on holiday.
The cast then talk about how the film was made. It appears, literally, that they all went off into the woods and took it from there.
Director and co writer Rupert Bryan explains: “It’s a relentless horror film. It’s not for the faint hearted – not for the young or the elderly!”
(I think he’s joking. Sort of)
Ben Loyd-Holmes
His fellow writer, producer and star Ben Loyd-Holmes adds: “The idea really was backwards generated. Rupert and I had discussed making a horror for a while – something scary and fun, but achievable on a small budget. We thought why don’t we make the monsters real – real people. Let’s put them in a real place – the woods are scary. From there the idea got bigger and more refined. Rupert came up with the characters and it went from there.
“We had quite clear ideas about the sort of people we wanted. At the initial casting some people shone through more than others – some people grabbed the attention.”
Rupert adds: “We went through three or four people for each position and ended up with the right cast. No-one knew each other before, and I think that was a good part of the filming experience.”
Daniel Caren: "Girls' bums"
At this point the swarthy, muscled actor at the end, whose name is Daniel Caren, pipes up: “We did bonding sessions. The lads went off into the woods and talked about the girls’ bums.”
He is quickly shushed by the rest of the cast and Rupert continues: “We did rehearsals in the actual woods and ran through the script to get people used to the surroundings. We wanted it to be realistic and truthful about what can happen. We told the actors we wanted them to take time to think about what they were going to do.”
“We set out to make it realistic from the word go,” says Ben. “Within horror it’s more often than not the case that the film starts to come away from reality, but there have been some great films recently that go more realistic.”
Rupert says: “It’s a frightening place, the woods. That meant we hardly had to use any visual effects, it was just real people doing really horrible things. That makes it far more twisted than having an alien do it.”
A young chap at the front pipes up to ask what the group thinks about contemporary British horror. Rupert answers: “Britain is historically the best place for horror. We are brilliant for making suspense tales, and I think the British horror film is in a good place at the moment.”
Ben adds: “The industry has changed and now more than ever you’ve got more up and coming film makers. Hollywood is making a lot of films here which means there are a lot of creative people here.”
Asked how they kept going under what sounds like arduous conditions, Ben replies: “With all the problems we had, it’s still the case that when you see your cast doing a really good job it’s magical. You can say to yourself – right, I know why I’m doing this.”
Barbara Nedeljakova. Yes, I have a shit camera
Hostel star Barbara Nedeljakova, who is probably the biggest name in the film, adds: “The people made it a lot of fun and we have all become friends since then. I know that making The Hike is always going to be a fantastic memory.”
And Rupert says: “Making a film is the best thing in the world. It is a brilliant experience and I think we have all learned a lot about ourselves, trust and respect. We had a good time making it!”
As I mentioned in the last post, The Hike has not yet got a UK release date as they have been told to tone it down. “Apparently, it’s too scary,” says Ben. “There will be a softer cut, but it’s still pretty harrowing, and very brutal!”
Whether this is a bit of clever marketing or a genuine problem remains to be seen – I’m assuming that the problem must lie with a certain amount of sexual violence, as the censors seem to have an “anything goes” approach to pretty much anything else these days. The Hike doesn’t sound like it’ll be everyone’s cup of tea, but with such an enthusiastic team behind it, it deserves some success.

And there I’m going to have to leave it again – so you’ll have to continue to wait for what is now going to be part three of my Memorabilia memoirs!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Memorabilia memories - part 1

I’ve been running this website for nigh on 11 years now, but I’m a relative newcomer to the idea of actually getting out there and meeting the people connected to these films. In fact, the first time I did it was last September, when I packed up a notepad and camera and travelled a whole half an hour on the train to a freezing cold Manchester for their annual Fantastic Films weekend.
The less said about the surly welcome I received, or the fleabitten venue, or the general haphazard nature of the proceedings the better (it was not the ideal introduction to the world of horror fandom, let’s put it that way). But as the day wore on it became apparent that behind the lack of sheen there was a certain something – namely a friendliness and a feeling that everyone was thoroughly enjoying themselves – that permeated through everything. Being a somewhat cynical person who has pretty much kept his love of these films under his hat (apart from to the thousands who frequent this site), it came as a nice surprise to find that there are other people – and mainly sane, normal people – who like the stuff I like.
Even more of a surprise to me was the reaction I got from the stars who attended. I expected a bunch of miserable, bitter old thesps who were attending for a free bar and were sick to the back teeth with 40-something men wanting to talk to them about a barely-remembered film they did for peanuts back in the late 60s. But that just isn’t the case. I only talked to a few of the special guests, but they couldn’t have been more happy to share their memories. One – genre fave director Norman J Warren – actually arranged for me to do a full interview with him at a later date, which I did and will be on the site soon. Whilst I was chatting to him, who should sit down next to us but Francoise Pascal, the French “bird” from 70s sitcom Mind Your Language and films such as Burke and Hare. She was funny, flirty, and still very attractive, it has to be said. She didn’t hold back on the risqué anecdotes, either – although sadly I didn’t have my notebook out at the time. We were also joined by her partner, who proceeded to tell be about how they had met during the orgy scene in Incense For The Damned. “You can see my arse going up and down at one point,” he told me. “You can’t see my face but you can tell it’s me cos of my tattoos”. They told me they had lost touch after the filming wrapped but had met up again recently through Facebook, of all things.
But I’m wandering off the point, interesting though these snippets might be.
This weekend I had the opportunity to have another go at meeting a few of the people from the films I have been mercilessly taking the piss out of for the past 11 years. The Memorabilia event comes to the NEC every six months, and my brother in law went to the last one and came back with tales of how he had finally met his idol, Robin Askwith (yes, the bloke out of the Confessions films and BHF classic Horror Hospital). He was raving about how good the event was and recommended I went along to the next one. So in February I checked out who would be at the March event – and was blown away by the people attending. Bond Girls, Doctor Who stars, even Dirk Benedict out of Battlestar Galactica. Who I had no interest in meeting, but even so – Face out of the A Team, wow. So I organised a press pass, and yesterday found me sitting on the train to Birmingham.
I have to say there was a certain amount of trepidation involved. This was no “Fantastic Films weekend”, this was a properly organised, swish event, involving Q&A panels, £10-a-go autographs and something called “cosplay”. Even with my press pass I had no guarantee I would actually be able to talk to the people involved, given that I was neither prepared to wait in a big queue or hand over my hard-earned for an autograph. I was fully prepared to have a wander around, catch sight of the odd faded starlet over a sea of heads (I am quite tall) and check out some of the posters for sale before setting off for home, empty handed (as it were). What actually happened was this:

I arrived at the NEC, and was immediately staggered by the scale of the event. One of those enormous halls they use for Coldplay concerts and the Motor Show, absolutely packed with stalls and people, even at just after 10am. After wandering around a bit, and catching sight of the occasional faded starlet, I checked out the posters on sale and then decided that I’d give my press pass a go.
Aware that everyone else there was paying good money to meet these people, and I wasn’t, I picked my targets carefully, trying to make sure that I wasn’t getting in anyone’s way or stopping anyone from getting their stuff signed.
Spotting a gap in the queues, with a half-remembered idea that he’s quite a nice bloke at conventions, and what I believed was a fairly decent opening gambit, I made for John Levene, the man who will forever by remembered as Sergeant Benton from Doctor Who.

After introducing myself I explained “I was hoping to talk to you about Psychomania – you’re responsible for my favourite line in the whole film!”
(He plays a police officer working on the front desk of a police station, who reacts in a remarkably professional manner when two undead bikers roar in through the front door on their machines).
He looked at me, a broad grin on his face, and roared “that’s my favourite scene as well!”
It looked like I was on safe ground.
“The director (Don Sharp) liked me, you see, and gave me three movies. When you’re liked you feel secure, and when you feel secure you perform better. He said ‘John, I want you to do a death scene. I need you to look like you’ve been killed by this powerful force’. I went to the carpenter – the studio floors were all wooden then – and I got this 10 inch nail. I banged it into the floor right near the place where I had to die. You can see it on the film if you look closely – I got my foot hooked round the nail so my body could look more contorted. A 10 inch nail helped make my death scene look so good!
“Nicky Henson reacted very well to my line when he came into the police station. He showed they were frustrated and angry, and that’s why they killed me!”
John was also in Brit horrors Dark Places and When Dinosaurs Ruled The Earth. “I was in it at the very beginning, wearing a loincloth and chanting ‘Akuna’ or something. We all hitched our loincloths up as high as we could to try and get more screen time!”
In 1975 he appeared in Permission To Kill, an international thriller starring Dirk Bogarde and Ava Gardner, and which saw him turn down the chance to jump into bed with a future James Bond. “My part called for me to do a love scene with Timothy Dalton, but I couldn’t do it – so they cut it out. Although Dalton does still deliver the line ‘hmmm – a bit of beefcake at last!’”

Trying my luck, I asked if I could take a photo of him – and he immediately jumped up and grabbed me, handing my camera to his colleague. I wasn’t expecting this (and it probably shows on the photo), but it was a thoroughly nice way to start the day. Later on I saw that big grin several more times, and he’d even put on his Sgt Benton jacket. The man is an absolute star!
In the same room was Mary Collinson, one of the Twins Of Evil from the Hammer film of the same name. Realising that she was being unmolested by the crowds at that point (who were all converging on Linda Hayden – more of her later), I thought “in for a penny” and went over. This time I was expecting a frostier reception, and I also didn’t have an opening gambit (“Hello, I’ve seen your boobs” didn’t seem particularly appropriate). The Collinson twins have kept out of the limelight since their heyday so I thought she mustn’t have much interest in talking about her time with Hammer.
“It’s only the third time I’ve done this,” she explained, a big grin on her face. “The last time was about 10 years ago.
Twins Of Evil was 40 years ago – it’s unbelievable.”
I say that the film was shown on the BBC quite recently. “I live in Italy and it has never been shown on the television there, but I understand it is shown quite regularly here.”
Asked what it was like working for Hammer, she says: “It was an experience – a beautiful experience. Especially to meet and work with people like Peter Cushing. We weren’t actresses, so it was an unbelievable thing for us to do. Yet years later it is still there – it’s amazing.
“We weren’t expecting it to be as big a film as it was. We must have done something right! We were there at the right time, with the right people who helped us along.”

I ask for a photo and she leaps up and grabs my arm. This is getting to be a habit, and I’m in danger of looking like Gordon Smart from The Sun. “Ooh, it’s lovely to be having my photo taken again after all these years,” she says. All I’m thinking is “this is one of the Collinson twins!”
But I also vow to remain behind the camera for the rest of the day.
Spurred on by everyone being so nice, I decide to really chance my arm this time, and head over to Britt Ekland. “Can I talk to you about some of your films – like The Wicker Man?” I ask, giving her my best smile.
“I suppose so.”
After the enthusiastic reception I received from my first two targets, this one is more of a challenge, but it is Britt Ekland, after all – and I do like a feisty woman.
“I was pregnant when I did it, so it was a very difficult time” (Does anyone else know this? Is it a scoop? Probably not, but I’ve read a lot about The Wicker Man over the years and this was news to me. Then again – women being pregnant, meh). I venture that the weather wasn’t very nice, either. “It was bloody freezing!” comes the reply.

I’m finding it hard to keep up the shorthand and think of questions, so I ask to take a photo. And to be fair to her, she looks stunning on the picture, so either she knows how to turn it on for the camera or she actually didn’t mind my line of questioning that much.
Sitting near to her is Annette Andre, Jeanie Hopkirk from Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased). I know she has no links to British horror films, so I don’t wander over for a chat, as the only thing I can think to tell her is how much I was in love with her when they showed the repeats back in the early 90s. She really does still look amazing, though. As do they all, really. It’s the bone structure, I believe.
I spy a familiar-looking jolly face and make a beeline for him. It’s John Carson, Hammer stalwart, but probably most famous for being the man who proved difficult to kill in the classic Captain Kronos – Vampire Hunter.

In between signings, he explains that he’s another “new boy” to this kind of event. I ask him about his death scene in Captain Kronos, where his friend, the venerable Captain, tests out just what kind of vampire he has become by attempting to kill him in a variety of ways.
“Ah, yes!” he laughs. “We had a tape of that after the film was finished and my children, who were very young at the time, weren’t allowed to watch it. One day they conned the au pair into letting them see it, and they wouldn’t talk to me for a week!
“It was fun working with Brian (Clemens – the genius behind Kronos, The Avengers, The Professionals etc) because it was horror with a difference. He was trying to break the mould of horror films at the time, which were ‘more cleavage, more blood’, and actually make a film with a good story. He is a good story teller, and it’s a fun film. It was regarded as not so good at the time, but it has stood the test of time, hasn’t it?”
John also starred in Hammer’s Plague Of The Zombies, which it is obvious he has a high regard for as well.
“I don’t work these days,” he says. “What I miss is the relationship with the camera crew. You have to get on well with them to get good results.
“I have different memories of each of the Hammer films I worked on,” he says. “What I remember about Taste The Blood Of Dracula was the stellar cast I was working with. And the director, Peter Sasdy, was a good friend. I worked with him for many years. A lot of the filming was done at Highgate Cemetery as well, of course – with all the sycamore roots growing through the mausoleums. When it’s foggy there you don’t need any special effects to make it look spooky! It’s a quite extraordinary place.”
I’ve been doing quite well on the classic horror front, and as I wander around I notice there’s a bit section set aside for new British horror film The Hike. Later on I’ll sit in on a Q&A session with the stars and director of the film, and get a sneak peek – but for the time being I decide to have a quick chat with just one of the people involved - Barbara Nedeljakova – as not only is she blummin’ gorgeous but I know she’s been involved in a couple of other recent Brit horrors, too. Barbara, in case you didn’t know, is one of the young ladies whose role it is to seduce young men in the Hostel films. Yup, that’s right. Her.

An upcoming film is a high-brow concept film called Strippers Vs Werewolves. Which part is she playing, I venture. “ A stripper,” she smiles. “But… oh, I probably shouldn’t say. It might be a spoiler.”
What’s it about? I ask, obviously coming across as a complete fuckwit. “It’s a comedy horror about a bunch of strippers who get in trouble with werewolves. Then they decide to turn the tables. It’s full of strong female characters and it’s very funny.”
She’s also in an upcoming feature called Isle Of Dogs. Which isn’t a very good title for a film. Try saying it out loud. See?
Isle Of Dogs had a premiere at Fright Fest, but now the director is making some changes. I believe it should be done soon.”
Hopefully they’ll be changing the name, lest they get completely the wrong target audience showing up to the cinemas.
I suggest she’s getting a name as a scream queen, what with a role in the upcoming final Children Of The Corn film, too.
“Yeah, I kind of want to get away from that,” she says. “I love horror, it’s great fun, but I’d like to do some drama.”
More about The Hike later – but it’s worth adding that I did have a brief chat with the director, Rupert Bryan, who tells me it has yet to have a UK release as it needs to be “re-cut to tone it down a bit”. Given that we’re living in a world where The Human Centipede and A Serbian Film exist, I have to ask what on earth he’s created there. “I dunno,” he smiles. “We didn’t think it was that bad!”

This is proving to be a longer post than I expected – part 2 soon, featuring Sheila Staefel, Melvyn Hayes, Edward de Souza, Honor Blackman and Linda Hayden!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Memorabilia at the NEC, tomorrow

I'll be attending the Memorabilia show at the NEC tomorrow, hoping to get to meet some of the BHF actors and actresses who are attending. I'll also be posting to this blog and Twitter (shit phone permitting). So, it could be "hello Britt", or more likely "hello Brummy girl dressed as strange Manga character". Either way, I'll let you know!

Cruel Britannia - interview with Salvage director Lawrence Gough

To mark their Cruel Britannia season, the Horror Channel has very kindly supplied me with a bunch of exclusive (probably) interviews with the Brit directors whose films will get a welcome airing on the channel in April.

First up is Lawrence Gough, director of inventive Brookside-set flick Salvage

Q: Did you know from an early age that you wanted to be a director?
LG: Yes, from the age of 9! But how was I going to do it, seems to be the ongoing issue!

Q: Salvage was your debut movie, how did the project come together?
LG: A number of factors contributed to salvage. It was based on a short film that I had made some years earlier. The premise of this idea was good enough to expand into a feature length. The one big change was that the short was set in the middle of the countryside and so we thought we would subvert this and place it in suburbia. The other big concept of the film was the Branscombe disaster that happened off the coast of Devon. Containers were washing up on the Devonshire coast and people were running down and opening them up to see if there was any loot. I thought this is a great way to get a n antagonistic element into suburbia. It fitted perfectly with my intentions of embracing this contemporary fear of terrorism.

Q: Did the script change much during production?
LG: No, none of it changed. Elements of the script were written with the close in mind so this meant that we could be very specific with almost all of the sequences.

Q: Although you had directed shorts before this, how did it feel to be behind your first feature film? 
LG: To be honest, my expectations of the leap were quickly dashed on the first day of principle photography….it's exactly the same! just bigger, more people to deal and more paranoia!

Q: Its claustrophobic atmosphere reminded me of a cross between of Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and The Crazies, are you a fan of his work? 
LG: Yes but he was only a very small influence and his work is not the only films to embrace such a claustrophobic nature.

Q: Salvage is a raw and real looking movie but was it a difficult shoot?
LG: Not really, everything was intentional. Being in 'real' houses, gardens etc and the decision to shoot the entire film handheld gave me the 360 environment I wanted. It gave the actors great freedom within the frame. A very tight budget meant that we shot it in 19 days so that was the biggest challenge…time is NEVER on your side even with millions of pounds!

Q: Was it a long shoot and is it true the movie was shot on sets left over from Brookside?
LG: As stated 19 days. Yes the Brookside close gave us everything I needed to create a realism. With our budget issues, there was no way we could have ever built these sets and shooting in peoples real houses just creates even more constraints….even though I hate saying it...Brookside saved me!

Q: The film runs just over 80 minutes but packs in plenty of action and plot; are there any sequences that were left on the cutting room floor? 
LG: No ever setup shot was used in the finished cut!

Q: If you had a bigger budget would you have changed anything? 
I think there was a time that I would have answered no to that but the honest answer is yes…probably elements of everything. There are many many elements of Salvage that I am not happy with!

Q: Are you a fan of the urban horror movie genre? 
LG: I am a fan of all good horror…horror that has something to say….I am not into just watching inventive ways of watching people being chopped up!

Q: What's your take on the current British horror film scene? 
LG: I am not really seeing one currently. Yes lots are being made but I think it's missing the point of what horror is. There are and there has always been enough contemporary fears that horror films could and should embrace and I don't really see this happening. I don't mean that horror should be ramming political or social issues down the audiences throat but these shared fears are a great starting point to take an audience on a visceral but thought provoking ride.

Q: What's your top 3 horror films of all time? 
LG: The Exorcist, Alien & Funny Games

Q: In your opinion what is the all time best British horror film?
LG: Peeping Tom, especially in this day and age!

Q: What's your next project? Do you intend to carry on making “horror” films?
LG: Yes, I am currently working 4 features. My latest is "The Drought' An ecological horror.  It's about a Drought in the UK and the milk of human kindness has evaporated!

Salvage will appear on The Horror Channel during April.
Find out more on their official website: