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