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!

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