Gothic films - part three
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Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.
I've seen the trailer for Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom on YouTube, and also a YouTube channel, from which I learned that the thing originated in a comic book - somehow that makes the film's existence more credible, given the success of such "properties" at the moment - superhero films, The Walking Dead, and so on. What to make of it, though, I don't know.
It's set in a Scottish castle in the early 20th century (but shot near Rome of course). Jane Birkin returns to the ancestral pile just in time to get mixed up in murders and family secrets. There's a gorilla too (played by a man in a gorilla suit) and Serge Gainsbourg pops up as a policeman. It looks nice enough in its "2k restoration from the original camera negative" but really, it's as inconsequential as an episode of Midsomer Murders.
I thoroughly enjoyed it - what I think of as a proper, old-fashioned horror film.
I vaguely remember someone - I think Lola - describing some film as having 'cheesy goodness'. That sums this one up perfectly - black and white, mediocre dubbing, cheesy dialogue (even backed by over-dramatic faux-Romantic piano in the love scenes), lots of ruined stonework and dead trees and mist, some wooden acting - but the whole thing really works - for me, at least - loved every minute of it.
And you could see why Barbara Steele became a horror icon - though I'd be hard put to put it into words.
I suppose it was too much to ask for to strike lucky twice. I can best describe this one as 'plodding'. This time next week I'll probably have completely forgotten it.
I had a quick look at Pharoah's Curse on YouTube. It has the look of a '50s US TV show - shot on film, but "flat", somehow - it's probably the lighting, which takes a long time if you're doing anything atmospheric, and "time is money"...
I also looked at the film's IMDb entry. The writer, Richard H Landau, did loads of stuff, mostly for TV, but including the script for Hammer's The Quatermass Xperiment (albeit, adapting Nigel Kneale's original and having his own first draft heavily reworked by the director, Val Guest).
Interesting point about the lighting and the look of the thing - I imagine that will have quite a significant subconscious effect on one's reception of the show.
Having said that, this one was pretty poor in addition to that. For instance, there were a number of incidents in the first half or so of the film that didn't make sense in the context of the film's overall storyline - it's as if they filmed it chronologically and half-way through started taking the story somewhere they hadn't originally intended.
ETA - Having written that, I've recently started to wonder how often storylines really do make sense. Ever watched an episode of NCIS? And that's one of the most successful shows in the world!
And you could see why Barbara Steele became a horror icon - though I'd be hard put to put it into words.
Yes! The "dark evil woman" is such a cliché and they all tend to run together in my head--except Steele. She's beautiful, but she belongs in the gallery of those strange faces, like Marty Feldman, Donald Pleasence, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff...
The horror show that is the news these days has kept me preoccupied, but I did watch a few movies--Quatermass and the Pit from 1967, not for the first time; Frankenstein created woman--I love it, come on, I love anything with Cushing; and The scars of Dracula, which brings my seen Lee-Draculas to a total of 100%.
It's probably the weakest of all, but it's not as bad as I was led to think it would be. The script was bad and the no-name young people's acting worse, there's a rather pathetic bat and surprisingly unconvincing background paintings (if *I* can tell it's fake--who thought for years that Black Narcissus was actually shot in Nepal--then you have a problem), but, first, it's a LEE DRACULA, and second, I thought the death scene was smashing.
Talking of bats: I think they must have had a fruit bat in Mask of Satan - the thing was enormous!
I've a feeling that I read Scars of Dracula was released in the UK in a double bill with Horror of Frankenstein - the one that's a loose remake of The Curse of Frankenstein, with Ralph Bates replacing Peter Cushing as the Baron. Without checking, I don't know if that film was intended to reboot the franchise (as no one said in 1970) but it feels that way.
And so does Scars of Dracula! which is odd when you consider that there was never any wish (at least on the part of the US studios providing the money) to recast the title role (the script is to a large extent a rehash of elements from Dracula/Horror of Dracula and Dracula: Prince of Darkness.
"the no-name young people" - one of them grew up to be Dennis Waterman!
Oh, for sure!
Heh, clearly a name I should know, but don't. Speaking of unknowns--I think it's you I have to thank, houseful, for bringing to my attention Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde. I don't suppose I've got any art house cred to lose at this point, so will confess cheerfully to enjoying the heck out of it. :)
It's the best "sibling" casting I've ever seen, so good I felt it had to be mentioned.
Dennis Waterman - co-starred with John Thaw in The Sweeney, starred in Minder (with George Cole), did sitcoms in the '90s, then did New Tricks from 2003 to 2015. Was rarely offscreen for about 40 years. Also a bit of a singer/songwriter, liked to write and perform the theme music to his TV show, and got mocked for it by Matt Lucas and David Walliams on their comedy show Little Britain.
He hasn't done much genre stuff (outside of all the police/crime and detection!) but he played the awful husband Bobbo in the 1986 BBC adaptation of The Lives and Loves of a She-Devil.
As for Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, the screenplay was by Brian Clemens, who if not art house has been accepted into the Pantheon (if talk/review programmes on BBC Radio 3 are any indication - in fact I'm pretty sure I've heard the film discussed on there). I agree about the casting!
Talking about hunting for stuff (on YouTube, Dailymotion etc), recently I've watched the first twenty minutes or so of more dire rubbish than you could shake a stick at. And it seems that if anything's any good the picture is going to be lousy. I must have struck lucky with Mask of Satan - since then, not so much. From now on I'll stick with hunting up particular titles.
I should explain the last paragraph. After a couple of years of shouting and swearing at the combined eccentricities of Windows 10 and my Samsung TV's allegedly 'Smart' Hub, I had the bright idea of buying a three-metre HDMI cable and simply watching stuff on my laptop, using the telly as it's monitor. Sheer bliss! The cable got rid of all the little frustrations and, apart from the BBC News channel over breakfast, when I switch on the telly I've been immediately cabling-up my laptop and exploring the goodies online. Only problem, a poor quality YouTube image is quite unwatchable on a 40-inch TV. It's surprisng how much high-quality stuff is available, though.
Yeah, I'm not familiar with any of those. That is, I've heard of The Sweeney because it was a plot point for one of the eps of Black Books. :)
I watch everything on the computer. I agree, both YT and DM are great lodes of goodies for rummage and discovery. (As long as you install adblock.)
Any fans of Hannibal here? Has it been mentioned? I just saw the first season and there are elements that to my mind relate it to Gothic horror--a certain mood above all. Melancholy and menacing.
I've complaints about the writing, but the sound and the visuals are fantastic.
Ah, I loved Black Books!
I was unsure about Hannibal. I'd enjoyed Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs (the novels), and the film versions too, althoug Brian Cox's turn as "Lector" in Manhunter was the best thing it that film, I thought. But I did feel that there were diminishing returns after that and I didn't even bother with the films after Hannibal, so another retelling of the story didn't immediately appeal.
I did watch the first episode and was quite impressed but didn't continue with it...I think the timing was unfortunate in that it was shown (on UK satellite) around the same time as the first series of both True Detective and Penny Dreadful and in my mind it was overshadowed by them.
I did catch bits of some later episodes and started to be drawn in, regretting that I hadn't watched the intervening episodes.
Serial killers have moved from "horror" to "crime/detection" in the last quarter-century, haven't they? I suppose you can trace a line of descent from the original Gothics, through19th century popular literature (including Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and so on) and through to the separating out of the various genres around the beginning of the 20th century. That said, the slower pace and (based on what little I saw of it) sense of menace and unreleased tension of the TV series is central to the way the original Gothics created their effects.
Wellman's character is a kind of "occult detective" type but is distinguished by his working class origin and the regionalism of his character, the stories' milieu (the Appalachian mountains), and the folkloric nature of the menaces he faces. A Korean War veteran in the stories, the film moves things forward to the present day (that is, 1972) and contrives an origin story for him which makes him much less sure of his abilities (shades of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, Doctor Strange in the recent Marvel film and countless others).
It's 1972, so the countercultural stuff comes in at points in the story, but what struck me was how much of it - music, cinematography, pacing (full-on hippie moments aside) was very similar to contemporary stuff from the UK which is now being labelled as "folk horror" and seen as quintessentially English. It was a bit of an eye-opener in that regard.
There's also a sequence with a stop-motion giant bird-monster, which admittedly was never a feature of the BBC's M.R. James adaptations :)
Thanks, just found it and added to my "watch" tab.
Hmm, "folk horror" reminds me of some great Russian and Czech vampire movies--look for Viy (based on a story by Nikolai Gogol) if you can. I bought the DVD on Amazon Canada. Highly recommended. There are more in that vein if you're interested.
Regarding Hannibal, yes I think it needs to be seen complete (I'm talking about the first season for now--just ordered the rest) in order to get the full impact of the story, to feel the sorrow of
Personally I like it better than Penny Dreadful, and I hated True Detective so much I'd rather say nothing about it. But the comparison with PD is interesting to me, as they share some things--the lavish approach to aesthetics, and "beautiful gore" being the most salient, I suppose. But in PD I feel oppressed by its showiness. It's too strident, chaotic, and too forcedly "poetic". PD is very much a fairy tale. I feel Hannibal, while by no means "realistic", carries its visual beauty better. It's less obviously self-conscious about it.
Of course, it helps that it has as a focus--but actually softly OUT of focus, in this season at least--a true aesthete.
I liked Ridley Scott's film as well as the earlier ones (did not see the "prequel" nor have I read the book it's based on), especially the music. You may have noticed they reused some of Hans Zimmer's score and solutions--I credit that inspiration for the hypnotic quality they achieved in the series (although they didn't succeed quite as well as the movie).
"Folk Horror" seems to be used to only refer to British film and TV, which admittedly is pretty parochial. One or two things get an honorary mention, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders being one of them. Was that one of the Czech films you had in mind?
You know the British stuff already, I think (we've discussed relative obscurities like Robin Redbreast and Children of the Stones here already). But have you seen Penda's Fen? It's a 1974 TV play (film, rather, shot on location and all on film rather than videotape) written by David Ruskin and directed by Alan Clark?
Here's a good piece from the Guardian, in 2014, about it: https://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/nov/14/pendas-fen-heresy-horror-pa...
The themes of the play are suddenly even more pertinent now than they were in 1974, it seems to me.
There used to be a fuzzy but viewable copy uploaded to YouTube (it must have been an off-air VHS from the one repeat transmission in 1990) but since the film's official DVD and Blu-ray release last year that seems to have disappeared. There are what look like DVD rips playing in the corner of the screen uploaded instead. I don't suppose it's likely to ever get a US release? Or made available from a streaming service?
Of course the UK doesn't have a monopoly on drawing on its folklore as inspiration for horror/gothic cinema. As well as Viy and Valerie and Her Week of Wonders I can think of Japanese films such as Kwaidan and Onibaba, Mr Vampire from Hong Kong...
Sorry, I should also have said thanks for reminding me about Viy - I knew of it but had never seen the film and hadn't ever got around to seeing if it was available. There's a R2 DVD from Germany, with optional English subtitles, under a tenner from Amazon Marketplace. So that's been ordered :)
Right, I can't think of any national cinema without horror--and most horror derives from folkish tradition. Witches, monsters, ghosts, demons, blood-suckers, flesh-eaters, the Devil... even the "serial killer", which seems so modern, is present already in the ogre and Bluebeard.
Valerie and her week of wonders is gorgeous and has some (very striking) horror elements, including a vampire, but it's essentially a coming-of-age tale, everything is metaphorical. Absolutely worth watching! But I was thinking of some other stuff (and I'm sure there must be more...)--The cremator and The ninth heart (at least, that's the translation from Croatian). I also remember seeing Czech (or maybe Polish) Countess Bathory and Dracula movies, but with such common characters I won't bother trying to recall exact titles.
Robin Redbreast actually struck me as kin to Eastern European cinema most strongly precisely because of that horror-in-rural-setting. If the people spoke Slovak or Serbian nothing else would need to change to make it seem originating from there.
Harvest sacrifices and anything relating to the Devil are also very common tropes in the East. (The Devil is very much at home in the countryside. Only a city boy like Bulgakov would send Satan to Moscow. ;))
I must go check out now Penda's Fen!
Oh dear, I always feel apprehensive when I make people spend money on stuff! I hope you like it!
I was browsing around on Amazon UK as I was writing the above post and ended up ordering--it's funny how the mind, she wanders--The Mouse that roared, The Mouse on the Moon and Bedazzled (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, of course. The Devil is in it! I didn't completely lose the plot!) and the Hannibal box set.
Which reminds me of another thing about it, something that strikes the greatest contrast with Penny Dreadful--the curious absence (so far) of sex, in any of its many--and usual--horror connotations.
Nobody in Hannibal is having sex, or shown particularly wanting to have sex. It's unusual and refreshing. But I'm not sure it's "realistic", i.e. how long it can last, and don't know what it means.
Still, so far so good, and I hope to god we'll be spared any hokey romance with serial killers who are just, somehow, "misunderstood".
I've just discovered I've got Hannibal on Netflix. I've come to avoid like the plague TV stuff based on films, but if Lola likes it ... Anyway, I'm overdue to find something actually watchable on Netflix - I'm not sure if I've seen all the good stuff or their quality is really going down - I've been thinking of stopping my subscription.
Lola also reminded me I'm in a bit of a bind over the last season of Penny Dreadful. Didn't buy any DVDs for a couple of months and when I did I found that Take11 had departed to the great hereafter in the meantime - so I've lost my catalogue. Now, I'm almost, but not quite, certain I bought the last season - can't find it, haven't got my catalogue to check, and it doesn't show up in searches of my Amazon orders or my emails. I've really got to tidy this place, put up some more shelves ...
I think I've ordered that Viy DVD houseful mentioned. I've just found it on YouTube, but the picture looks a bit ropey on my telly and then I read about those tempting extras on the R.U.S.C.I.C.O DVD, so I went for it. It's actually been on one of my Amazon wish lists for years, so it's about time.
ETA - Told you it was good ...
Also--how are you with cannibalism? There's a lot of it. Personally I keep veering from wanting to watch Food Network to never wanting to eat again. :)
Carmilla was so much fun, I should catch up. But remembering how I got stuck like a fly to watching the entire season in one go, I better wait for a long weekend.
Which reminds me of the second thing--you mentioned being surprised by the similarity between it and the English folk horror, and I thought of another similarity, or rather organic connection, that between the older English culture including music, ballads, storytelling and contemporary Appalachian. That North Carolina folklore IS, in a way, your English folklore.
I should mention I only saw this because LibraryThing member IvanKirby retweeted it.
Interesting article. I can barely remember Penda's Fen - basically, I only remember that I was tremendously impressed with it and thought it something really out of the ordinary - I'd certainly forgotten about the Elgar. A possibly irrelevant tangent, but Rudkin might have mentioned that Elgar doubly felt himself an outsider as a Catholic in contrast to a strongly CofE establishment.
Anyway, now I'm really on tenterhooks for the DVD to come.
... and the postie came as I wrote that last sentence and she didn't bring it ... did bring the first Tanith Lee, though, so that's something ...
Memo to self: if Lola ever asks you to dinner, think carefully ...
Oops - wasn't here that I mentioned it - found two Tanith Lee novels on a market stall when I didn't have my reading glasses, good condition and cheap so grabbed them, then got home to find I'd bought 2 and 3 of a trilogy ...
Not to worry, it's all about the veggies in my kitchen these days...
Not to worry, Viy was sort of on my radar, anyway!
The blurb on the back cover of Rob Young, Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music talks about "how the idea of folk has been handed down and transformed by successive generations - song collectors, composers, Marxist revivalists, folk-rockers, psychedelic voyagers, free-festival-goers, experimental pop stars and electronic innovators".
That roll-call is also a chronology (and indicates that in the UK in the 20th century, the music wasn't primarily transmitted within families or close-knit communities).
The music from the folk-rockers to free-festival-goers period is what I had in mind (it also had a big dose of jazz in it as well, I can turn to Young's book for evidence: "Zawinul, Joe" in the index leads back to John Martyn' admiration for Weather Report, and also describes Pharaoh Sanders as his hero). Folk-Rock is often as not Jazz-Funk-Folk, I think.
I used to think of it (disparagingly, I suppose) as the kind of music teachers liked (or made! - Alan Clayson (of Clayson and the Argonauts, later a music journalist, taught at my junior school. I think it's fair to say that the Argonauts never made the big time, but a former work colleague, when she was a schoolgirl in Bracknell, was taught music by a member of Van Der Graaf Generator).
Anyway, back to the jazz angle. It was interesting to go to Moondog's Wikipedia entry and see that he was held in high regard by the previous generation of jazz musicians. I didn't actually know much about him, although I knew a little about him, and I do have one piece of his music, which is on The Big Lewbowski soundtrack.
Before reading your post, I would have said that his declaimed poetry (there's a little bit on the track I have) made him sound like a Beatnik or Hippie guru...I might have wondered if he was the archetype of that "type", but not that it might go back even further (or would I? There's an element of the popular preacher in there, after all...).
Annoying, but is there any chance of finding volume 1 on AbeBooks, or eBay, and it's still reasonable purchase averaged over the three volumes? (that's the sort of justification I'd make to myself!)
Edited to add, inadvertent echo of alaudacorax at the start there!
At the risk of flogging a dead horse, I think I ought to mention another strain in the music that was either used in the folk horror film and TV of the early 70s, or formed a sort of cultural penumbra around it. It the brass or woodwind ensembles that could be an avant garde ensemble, or all a low-budget film could stretch to, or an amateur group of music-makers who might have managed to bring out a record.
I read something recently where the writer made reference to "a surfeit of mournful oboes" in things like the BBC's Ghost Stories for Christmas...it spoiled it a little bit for me, but I can see (or rather hear) what he meant...
That's interesting. I'll have to listen out for that.
I have to say it's not something I remember noticing; particularly in the case of brass ensembles which I would notice because - sorry if I offend anyone's sensibilities - I particularly dislike them. Having said that, my dislike of them might have added to the menacing/creepy atmosphere of a horror, so perhaps I wouldn't have noticed after all.
Now I'm intrigued to watch - and listen - to Ghost Stories for Christmas again. I love oboes - does that make GSfC less creepy for me?
Hmm, I don't associate Moondog's music itself, or that Appalachian folk tradition, with jazz...
It's the falsetto quality of the voice and recitative manner that pinged the connection, something like this (there are other better examples, but my CDs are in disarray and searching on YouTube at random takes time):
Trees against the sky, fields of plenty, rivers to the sea: this, and more, spreads before me
Anyway, just a passing thought, nothing deep.
Now watching the second season of Hannibal. It's gone properly surreal. Oh and now there's sex. But not too much, so I can pretend it's not happening. Besides, it looks as if there might be a point to it. Only, I was hoping the absence might have been it.
Thanks for the link, I've started listening to some of those Moondog albums. As I understand it, although controversial in some circles, there's an argument that jazz was more syncretic (if that's the right word) in its pre-history (before it started to be recorded) than is often given credit for, taking in elements of the folk music of the European settlers as well as from the Caribbean (what Jelly Roll Morton called "the Spanish tinge" in those Library of Congress recordings he made at the end of his life).
But I was really thinking about the music in the early '70s, which seems to me, to be a time when there was more mixing of genres (more so than the '80s - I can remember when jazz was fashionable again, and the focus was on bebop, hard bop - you knew the style magazines and so on wanted the surviving musicians to be back in their sharp suits, not in tie-dye or wearing wide collars like Benny Hill).
I'll have to take a proper look at Hannibal in a little while; I really need to work through the first four series of French police drama Engrenages (Spiral, in English), that a work colleague has lent me.
Well, the roots of jazz, like any roots, aren't necessarily jazz, the thing that grows out of them... I tend to see the first "real" jazz as the urban, New Orleans, Dixieland formation, and that couldn't be more remote from the white hillbilly folkie stuff. But there is early black country and of course blues with, as far as I can tell, more similarity to it (white hillbilly etc.)... sometimes.
Don't rush to Hannibal on account of my enthusiasm! At this point (started on third season) I don't know what I'm thinking about it, but it does spur me to think a lot. I plan to finish with the borrowed DVDs and then when my box set comes see it again, maybe even with the commentaries (I hardly ever listen to those). I must admit I bounce a lot between "is it very good or is it very bad?", but despite that I'm finding it utterly absorbing. But I can easily imagine it could not only irritate and disgust but bore silly other people.
Added another Cushing to my collection (not yet to the catalogue), Shock Waves. Some great imagery here, although it's sad to see Cushing in his last days.
It might add weight to the accusations of cosiness made against his stories, I suppose!
Shockwaves. Apparently there's a region-free Blu-ray. I'm pretending I didn't see it on Amazon :)
I've read about this one but I've never seen it. I don't think I'd say it was Cushing in his last days - this was around the time he appeared in Star Wars, and he lived until 1994, but it might be his last major horror role...and the loss of his wife in the early '70s affected him profoundly. He looks frail and suddenly aged in something like Dracula AD 1972 (although the energy he still puts into the performance can disguise it).
Oops, sorry... system failure again it seems... I deleted about fifteen years from memory! :) I'd recommend this one for sure. Well, to obvious suspects at least--Cushing fans, zombie fans... although I'm not one of the latter, if we don't count b & w classics and up to and including Romero's first. The monsters here are truly creepy and the scenes where they mutely rise from the ocean grade-A scares. Great abandoned island palazzo too. The designated victims are eminently expendable in every sense but I don't think they take away too much--and someone has to provide the screaming...
I was alerted to the existence of this play by an essay in the booklet accompanying the latest CD, Wish You Were Heretic, from Andy Sharp, who records under the name English Heretic.
After neatly summarising the feel of the typical "Play for Today" ("with its depressing plot lines and pitilessly dry lighting"..."seemed to capture perfectly the inherent misery in life's ritual") Sharp goes on to discuss the strands occasional forays into horror and/or the supernatural, Robin Redbreast being the most celebrated example, before giving away the whole plot of A Photograph (I read the booklet before thinking to look for the play on YouTube - I'm used to these things being wholly unaccessible, but quite a few have evidently been uploaded in the last couple of years).
He also links the plays to two separate murders (or perhaps one murder and one unexplained death) dating back to the era of WWII, which occurred in the area in which the plays are set. Both deaths have a suggestion of ritual killing about them. Bowen mentions the case that relates back to Robin Redbreast in one of the DVD extras on the BFI release of that play.
Excellent. The mother is pure stuff of nightmares.
The other day I got yet another Dracula, this one with Jack Palance--I believe it was someone in here who alerted me to its existence? An unusually romantic Dracula, pining over his lost love, making for a somewhat startling contrast with the in-built menace of that craggy, slit-eyed face. There isn't much to praise, I'm afraid (the production values make Hammer's least seem luxe), but I'm glad to have Palance's version of the character in my collection.
Re. the Palance Dracula - apparently this version holds a special place in the hearts of US horror fans of a certain vintage because it was their first - or perhaps their first "proper" - introduction to the character, when it was shown as a TV movie in 1974.
I've seen it suggested that the romantic stuff was carried over by the producer, Dan Curtis, from the Barnabas Collins character in his supernatural soap opera, Dark Shadows.
The romantic Dracula looks to be the default version now, at least as far as popular culture is concerned - both Frank Langella's and Gary Oldman's interpretations fit the bill (Oldman even has the reincarnated lost love angle - as does the character of prince Mamuwalde in Blakula, a film which pre-dates the Palance Dracula by two years).
That said, I think there's at least a suggestion of it in Orson Welles' radio adaptation from as early as 1938 - although I'd have to listen to it again to be sure..Welles played Dracula as seductive (towards Mina) but maybe, unlike the romantic Draculas, he wasn't vulnerable.
I'm always interested in what the various versions decide to leave in or take out when they adapt Stoker's novel. This one includes the attack by the Berserker the wolf (escaped from a zoo - spurred on by Dracula) and his cockney keeper, who mispronounces his name as "Bersiker" - although if I remember rightly the streamlined plot keeps the action in this section near Whitby; which would make him a cockney displaced to North Yorkshire.
>44 LolaWalser: - The only reason I'm aware of that is because a clip from it is featured in an episode* of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, (and having written that, IMDb's 'Common cast' search isn't working this morning**, so I can't tell you which one). If I remember right, Palance speaks a line or two taken directly from the book. I've been meaning to watch it but I've been wondering whether its presence means it's some kind of classic or that simply the studio that made Buffy ... owned the rights to it. I'm a bit disappointed to read that it's not much good. Um ... it's just dawned on me that probably means I've been 'meaning to watch it' for at least twenty years ...
>46 alaudacorax: - 'Watch later'-ed the Orson Welles on YT, too. I've GOT to listen to that.
* 'Lie to Me'.
** Yes it was - I was sticking the names in the wrong boxes and they hadn't given Palance a credit anyway.
Obviously I'm overdue for a Buffy marathon! Never noticed that clip.
It's a very ordinary retelling as far as the plot goes. The ladies are prettier than usual.
I've seen it suggested that the romantic stuff was carried over by the producer, Dan Curtis, from the Barnabas Collins character in his supernatural soap opera, Dark Shadows.
That's IT! The same vibe. (But I'll take Jonathan Frid if offered choice, thanks. :))
Interestingly, one of the IMDb reviews for that episode suggests that it may be satirising the 'Twilight' books (s/he doesn't specify but it's too early for the films). I don't get it because I've never read them or seen the films - I suppose I'm going to have to watch one at some point ...
The thing is, all this business of studying the Gothic genre and joining this group started almost seven years ago when I started this thread - Pointy teeth sinking into the zeitgeist., where my last post said:
I think I've painted myself into a corner, now. I really should watch and read some of this newer stuff before I pontificate any more about it - but I'm not wildly enthusiastic about doing so.
Should have thought about that before I started posting - shouldn't I?
Seven years on and I've STILL not filled that gap in my ... education?
what if someone's already done it fit for you? Stephen Jones always kicks off his annual Best New Horror anthology with a round up of all the US and UK novels, film and TV released in the last year. Individual works rarely get more than a couple of sentences but taken as a whole you get a picture of the state of health of the industry, and where the zeitgeist has been heading.
One snag. These books used to be published as ordinary paperbacks and you could find them in WH Smiths and Waterstones, but for the last couple of years they've only been published by specialist small publisher, ps publishing. Maybe you can find older editions in charity shops.
Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful and Things Strange
What exactly is Folk Horror? Is it the writing of M.R. James and Alan Garner? Is it the television scripts of Nigel Kneale, John Bowen and David Rudkin, the films of David Gladwell and The Blood On Satan s Claw? Or could it be the paranoid Public Information Films of the 1970s; the Season Of The Witch ; The Advisory Circle reminding us to Mind how you go! ; or perhaps a contemporary story of two hit-men caught unknowingly in a class-saturated ritual of violence? Interest in the ancient, the occult, and the wyrd is on the rise. The furrows of Robin Hardy, Piers Haggard and Michael Reeves have arisen again, as has the Spirit of Dark of Lonely Water, Juganets, cursed Saxon crowns, spaceships hidden under ancient barrows, owls and flowers, time-warping stone circles, wicker men, the goat of Mendes, and malicious stone tapes. Folk Horror: Hours Dreadful And Things Strange charts the summoning of these esoteric arts within the latter half of the twentieth century and beyond, using theories of Psychogeography, Hauntology and Topography to delve into the genre s output in film, television and multimedia as its sacred demon of ungovernableness rises yet again in the twenty-first century.
Thanks Lola. This book had popped up in recommendations before it was published, but I'd failed to make a note of when it would be available.
I'm not sure if my mind's on things legitimately "Folk-Horrific" recently, or if some haphazard reading (and one museum visit) have coincidentally occurred as I noticed change in the seasons.
The reading was The Golden Bough - not the final, full text but the abridgement made by Robert Fraser for Oxford World's Classics in 1994. specifically I was working through the "Killing the God" chapters about Adonis, Attis, Osiris, Corn-Mothers and Corn-Maidens - the speculations about prehistoric sacrificial rituals to ensure a good crop (made at sowing and/or at harvest) giving rise to classical myths and religious rites, and folkloric survivals in modern i.e. 19th Century) Europe.
I also read a volume of Arthur Machen's letters. At one point he mentions the "rare and curious plants" (quoting from memory - probably misquoting) that he and his with were growing at their final home in Old Amersham - Roman nettle, tansy, hyssop, marjoram, savoury, rue. I ordered some seed packets but it looks like everything I planted has died.
The museum is the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) - part of the University of Reading but situated next to the Royal Berks Hospital, about 15 minutes walk from the town centre. Whilst the presentation of the exhibits isn't given to flights of fancy, there are some suggestive old things on display.
If you have a garden, I can't imagine herbs not taking, don't give up. Maybe the seeds were old.
That blurb mentions a lot of names and stuff I don't know, Bowen, Garner, Hardy etc... juganets...?
The seeds didn't even get as far as the garden; I may have killed them with kindness and over-watered them in their seed trays. I can try again.
Right, let's do this.. John Bowen (checks IMDb) had a long scriptwriting career on British television including a couple of the BBC "Ghost Stories for Christmas". Alan Garner has had original TV plays as well as dramatisations of his books on British TV - Red Shift is the one the blurb writer most likely had in mind. The only David Gladwell film I've seen is the adaptation of Memoirs of the Survivor with Julie Christie, but he (IMDb again) was Lindsay Anderson's editor for If... and O Lucky Man. I'll guess "Season of the Witch" refers to the Donovan single. The Advisory Circle make "Hauntological" music on Ghost Box records. Contemporary hit men = Ben Wheatley's film Kill List.
Robin Hardy directed The Wicker Man,;Piers Haggard, Blood on Satan's Claw and a TV adaptation of Kingsley Amis' The Green Man; Michael Reeves directed Witchfinder General.
"Spirit of Dark and Lonely Waters": public information film about the dangers of drowning, voiced by Donald Pleasance. The Juganet is from a 1975 children's serial made by independent television franchisee HTV West for ITV, called Sky. They covered South Wales and a bit of South West England - Machen country plus a bit of Hardy's Wessex, and sometimes it showed...
"Cursed Saxon crowns" references M. R. James, "A Warning to the Curious", of course ("No digging' ere!"). Spaceships under ancient barrows is Doctor Who story, The Daemons. "Owls and Flowers" is Alan Garner's The Owl Service, adapted for TV in 1969 (by HTV, I think). Time-warping stone circles is Children of the Stones, which has come up for discussion before (and definitely was another HTV production). The Goat of Mendes turns up in The Devil Rides Out, book and film. Stone tapes in the Nigel Kneale TV play, The Stone Tape.
How did I do?
(The male initiation stuff came up in Elisabeth Badinter's book on masculinity, really grisly and depressing subject, at least in New Guinea...)
Have we talked about The Owl Service here previously? Can't remember - perhaps déjà vu.
I saw it when it was first on telly and I think I may have missed a few episodes as I couldn't understand it. For years I wanted to see it again to properly get to grips with it and never did. And, of course, the Welsh element was a big attraction.
Now I'm tempted to get the DVDs but I'm wondering if it's worth it. It really seems to divide opinion, with some reviewers putting a convincing argument that it's really quite bad, while others obviously regard it as something rather special and out of the ordinary.
Season of the Witch might be referring to a 1970 'Wednesday Play'. I have no memory of it at all and, searching online, it doesn't seem to have any cult following. It does have Julie Driscoll, though, whom I remember as a pop singer and who, if I'm remembering correctly, would have been a very 'hip' person to have at the time.
I remember male initiation! You had ten pints, fell over and vomited - woke up on a bus stop bench the morning after your eighteenth birthday with a layer of frost on bits of your overcoat ...
ETA - TMA?
I'll keep looking for Season of the Witch, but Julie Driscoll (with Brian Auger and Trinity) did the cover version that got into the charts, didn't they? Here they are: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCKZPEleI-U
I'm guessing that this 15-minute collection of clips is the filmed inserts for Season of the Witch (assuming that the majority was videotaped in studio) with a mixture of original recorded sound and (another guess) Brian Auger and Trinity's soundtrack overpaid.
It seems a bit out of place in a list of folk horrors...maybe the blurb writer was thinking of the BBC documentary that featured a real-life witch and apparently scared a few people. The whole thing was on YouTube not so long ago. I'll see if I can find it again.
I haven't seen The Owl Service (yet!) I remember catching some of it in a 1990s repeat on C4. I'd missed the beginning and it seemed a bit slow and "of its time" - however I didn't see enough to make a fair assessment. Scarred for Life claims it is "quite certainly the most sophisticated programme ever to ride out under the banner of a children's drama".
edited to add - is it too late - a full two months later - to amend that "overpaid" to "overlaid"? I'm blaming autocorrect again!
Legend of the Witches (1970) directed by Malcolm Leigh played in sex cinemas, although it's pretty tame - witches (young, female) going "sky clad" in the woods at night, that sort of thing.
The Power of the Witches (1971) a BBC documentary about modern witchcraft that focused on Doreen Valiente.
Lol! Sounds like you got through all right... No 'orrible scars or unmentionable tattoos, I hope. :)
Now that's embarrassing that we both missed it, mere posts later. And I just saw that The Witches, which I saw the other night, was written by Nigel Kneale. Very enjoyable, with a terrific Kay Walsh and an old woman from nightmares--the pretty girl's grandmother... Gwen Ffrangcon Davies---ooh, yes, she was also the creepy countess in The Devil Rides Out! Those great cross-eyes!
omg she died at 101
Witchery to be sure. :)
I remember the publicity around what turned out to be her final screen appearance in the year of her death. It was in one of the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes adaptations - The Master Blackmailer (based on "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton").
Oh yes, Janet
Edited to say : Janet HENFREY, that should have been. My computer is keen on (often surreal) autocorrects.
It's about "a small Suffolk village whose edges are gradually being scratched at by a development of the outlying suburban estates." Cited influences (via an interview with Gladwell) are the paintings of Stanley Spencer and The Pattern Under the Plough and Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay by George Ewart Evans. Not books I've read, but I think I've at least heard of the second title.
I mentioned this topic to a friend and he brought up a Serbian vampire movie from 1973 but I can't find it with subtitles. It's on YouTube: Leptirica (1973)
Not your glam vamps at alll...
Sticking closely to the 1880 novel by Milovan Glišić, After 90 Years, written only seventeen years after Bram Stoker‘s Dracula, there are some genuinely sinister moments, heightened by the alien setting and unfamiliar actors, all of whom were professional, which is evident throughout.
Terrible indictment on the quality of a film, I suppose, but I've just spent about five minutes trying to remember where I've seen that face, or one very similar, within the last day or so, and finally remembered I watched Red: Werewolf Hunter last night - I'd already almost completely forgotten it - the face in the picture looked very like one or two of the extras.
It wasn't a bad film; it wasn't a good film - just one of those 'once seen, ever forgotten', to subvert a cliché. Probably only watched it because I've had a soft spot for Felicia Day since I read her book.
I probably spent longer than the actual playing time of the film searching Netflix for something worth watching in the first place. That's the problem with websites streaming lots of new stuff - I suppose that at any particular point in the history of film most films being made were pretty poor - most of Netflix look instantly forgettable - and it throws up suggestions based on lots of films I've given up on after fifteen minutes! I wish I could find a good website that specialises in old films. There's the BFI site, of course, but I'd love to find one like Netflix with tons of stuff, and easily searchable.
Sorry, rambling again - 'grumpy old man mode' this morning.
Books have become completely "unreliable", every time I re-read it's a different experience, and frankly I never know anymore what I'll get. Repeated enjoyment or diminished? Middling to major disappointment? The opposite of the previous read? It's all happened. It makes me especially reluctant to touch old favourites.
But not so with moving pictures. Which probably portends something awful about my intellectual capacities and whatnot, a slow creeping into second childhood (did I ever leave the first?), but, eh.
Know what you mean. I'll engage with a book but, despite my best intentions, my default mode with films seems to be to sit back and say, "Entertain me!" - I'm not looking beneath the surface. I think I've been damaged by a lifetime of rubbishy telly. I have the 'Three Colours ..' trilogy: love them, but I've yet to remember to pay attention to wotsit's* use of colour - at least after the first five minutes. It's said to be important.
ETA - *Kieślowski.
I've just watched Leptirica (with the plot details from the review you linked to already faded, so I had to concentrate on tone of voice, body language, etc. to try to follow what was going on...no bad thing). It was interesting, and it boasts a nightmarish ending that can stand alongside the climaxes of the BBC Ghost Stories for Christmas, I think.
However I do find myself agreeing with the alternative view quoted in the link (was it from "The Bloody of Pit of Horror"?) that the pacing is uneven. It dragged, for me, at several points; and although the comedy didn't seem forced, it did strike me as seemingly belonging to another production entirely, almost as if 15 minutes of genuinely unsettling horror had been spliced into a Serbian Last of the Summer Wine (that's not meant to be the cheap shot that it might appear to be - think of the earlier series/seasons, shot on film, with an element of social commentary to them, and with lead actors closer to 60 than 90).
I'm not saying horror and comedy can't mix, I mean I love The League of Gentlemen(I mean the comedy troupe/TV series, not the 1960 film), and Inside Number 9, but for some reason it didn't work for me here. Maybe it's because the characters were played either as dramatic or comic with no crossover (apart maybe from the lead actor who, actually, was able to play a consistent character across both registers - that is, as far as I could tell without being able to follow any of his dialogue).
I saw the original a year or so back on Talking Pictures TV. I don't think I knew there was a remake, or maybe I did but had somehow muddled it up with the remakes of The Haunting, 13 Ghosts and who knows what else. Nice to know it's good enough to earn a thumbs up. I'll look out for it.
It's a remake right enough, but it doesn't in any way 'disrespect' the original. It's different enough to stand on its own, but there are 'nods' - for instance, Geoffrey Rush does not do a Vincent Price impersonation, but you can see the little references. By 'old-fashioned', I mean it relies on scares and creepiness more than the gross-out effects of modern slashers.
ETA - I'm not expressing myself clearly.
I think the best way I can put it is that it didn't provoke in me any urge to compare it to the original - disparagingly or otherwise - it stands on its own; and, while it's not the greatest horror film I've ever seen, I've developed a sort of affection for it because it echoes a lot of notes from the greater days of horror cinema.
I think it was probably meant as a sort of tribute to earlier days.
"Piano Quartet in G Minor Opus 25 by Johannes Brahms was definitely not composed for the movie but is the 5th track on the soundtrack album." This is from the Wikipedia entry for the film - just an case anybody thought otherwise (and tried to hire this Brahms guy?).
Something I watched this week: Holy Terrors is a low budget portmanteau film dramatising six of Arthur Machen’s short stories. I heard about it through The Friends of Arthur Machen and I think it’s currently only available on DVD via eBay.
It was shot in and around Whitby (playing itself, or “Banwick” in an adaptation of the story "The Happy Children", and otherwise standing in for London and the Gwent countryside). Use is also made of WWI footage, and footage of Edwardian London.
In essence the film is shot as a silent movie, with most of the stories told as voiceover, sticking closely to the original texts (no doubt there’s some editing down, although I haven’t checked this).
Initial DVD copies include a bonus, in the form of a reproduction of a fanzine-style booklet from 1987 - the first stirrings of the Machen revival. It contains "The Happy Children" and two short articles about Whitby that Machen - working as a reporter - filed for The Evening News in 1916.
I hope you enjoy them.
Wow, I'm amazed you watched a whole movie in a strange tongue--chapeau, m'ssieu!
I haven't seen it yet. I'm a little surprised by the mention of comic relief, wouldn't have expected it given the rep my friend said it has--scariest movie ever, at least if you watched it at ten, etc. Maybe next weekend...
Criterion issued The Cremator and it's NOT the movie I was thinking about. It's excellent so give it a go if you get a chance, but it's a different, "real life" type of horror movie, a dark satire about the rise of Nazism and the last days of (bourgeois) Czechoslovakia.
Drôle de drame sounds intriguing, but there doesn't seem to be a region 2 release with English subtitles. Watching without them would be a very different proposition to Leptirica, I should think.
There are relatively few films I can watch over and over again, and none of them mark me out as any kind of intellectual ... 2001: A Space Odyssey maybe, but then Star Wars, The Mummy (1932), (oh gosh) Carry on Screaming...!
I don't reread novels very often but I agree that on second reading they can seem very different and sometimes diminished. My first reading of Moby-Dick wasn't at all the painful experience you see reported so often. I read it at speed, like a thriller, and enjoyed it, but on the second reading it did seem more of an uncomfortable mix of whaling industry reportage and psychological drama...the opposite of how it's supposed to happen, with that first naive reading giving way to a greater appreciation of Melville's genius. Oh well..
With The Condition of Muzak (the final book in Michael Moorcock's Cornelius Quartet) it was like this: I read it at age 12 or 13, I think, when I rarely went near anything other than Science Fiction. In this book, Moorcock steadily undercuts his anti-hero Jerry Cornelius so that he is reduced from a sort of counter-culture James Bond to a dreamer stuck in the family's high-rise council flat. This was genuinely upsetting to me. When I reread the book in my early 20s I had finally got to grips with general and literary fiction, and had in fact recently read Moorcock's Mother London - which although touched with Magic Realism, feels at heart like a literary novel involved more with people's lives, feelings and relationships, than with ideas or wonders. In that frame of mind, the vividness of Moorcock's cast of characters actually seemed to increase as they came more down to Earth, and I found the book more uplifting on this second reading (although I later read something by the critic John Clute where he reported feelings closer to those I had on that initial reading of the book).
When I've reread stuff more recently (mostly short stories proposed here and in The Weird Tradition group) my main reaction is dismay at how little memory of the stories I've retained from one reading to the next.
Hm, strange, I'd think Marcel Carné and the stellar cast would have raised some interest even among the Anglos, but I guess not...
Watched Vampyres (1974) online (very good copy), glad I did, I had almost bought it sight unseen but now I doubt I'd want to watch it again. The couple of lesbian vampires is so inept they make the two in Jean Rollin's Fascination seem like Maggie Smith and Judi Dench in comparison... That said, it's probably not significantly worse than what you might expect on average from the conjunction of words "lesbian vampires" and "1970s". One male victim dies a very gory death, another hangs around forever in what became almost a Groundhog Day joke--has sex with bitey lady, she drains him, he wakes up alone and weak, wanders about the creepy castle; repeat four-five times...
Best moment/idea, for my money, was that the women sleep in the dank ugly cellar any which way, squatting and huddling like rats, instead of laid out ceremoniously in coffins and all that traditional jazz.
my main reaction is dismay at how little memory of the stories I've retained from one reading to the next.
Someone (maybe Jo Walton?) had a great description of a false reading memory--a whole paragraph bedecked in sensory detail contrasted with the real, a single spare sentence "They dove into the water." or something like it. To be fair, that's more common for me with childhood reading, when performing alchemical transformations on subpar texts was second nature; with better books I'm more likely to suffer from "I can't believe I missed that", "this means completely the opposite to what I thought then! " etc.
I'm not sure how or if I visualise fiction as I read it these days, the difficulty being to observe yourself reading whilst at the same time unselfconsciously doing it. I have had experiences where what I've read has been as vivid in memory as something I've actually experienced, but neither type of memory plays back like a videotape. I don't know how to describe it..an emotional recall + back-cover blurb (but without words)? I'm not sure that even means anything!
Somewhere on the BBC website (but probably not accessible outside the UK) there's a 1974 documentary about Dracula written and presented by Daniel Farson. He was Stoker's great-nephew or something of the sort, a writer and journalist and apparently quite a louche character. There's some footage taken on the set of Vampires which just happens to be of the two leads in the nude. That's 1974 for you. Other sections of the film take in Whitby and the "Dracula" ice lolly that was available in the '70s.
I've discussed the film here a few years back. The UK DVD has an entertaining commentary from the director and the producer, who by accident or design fall into an excitable Spaniard and laconic English toff double act. It was from the commentary that I learned that I had completely misunderstood large sections of the plot (and yet I maintain "my" version is at least as consistent as the real one.
Plot, what plot? :)
Think I will be getting the DVD after all.
The lolly consisted of “blood red” jelly covered with a coating as “black as midnight”, with a “core of delicious snocreme”. The consumer always ended up with darkly stained lips, mouth and teeth.
I want this NOW!
Lined up: more Rollin and the final season of Penny Dreadful.
Caltiki:the Immortal Monster is an Italian horror movie from 1959, directed by Riccardo Freda and Mario Bava - the story is, apparently, that Freda walked off the production to force the diffident Bava (who was handling the special effects) to officially move into directing. I've seen this film described as influenced by H. P. Lovecraft - what actually seems to be the case is that it was directly influenced by Hammer's version of The Quatermass Xperiment - but Freda (or Bava) recognised parallels between Nigel Kneale's ideas and Lovecraft's. Bava used massive amounts of offal to create the Caltiki creature (Val Guest did the same for the final version of the creature in his Quatermass film); it works, provided (I assume) that you're not overly familiar with offal (I've never tasted the stuff)!
The film has a couple of surprisingly gory scenes for 1959, and the story takes some interesting detours, but ultimately, for me, it can't get away from the blueprint of a '50s monster movie.
Night Monster (1942) is the last of six films in the Spanish box set "Lionel Atwill: El Doctor X: Un Sádico en Hollywood". He's barely in it. Still, it's an interesting "B" movie with a genuinely Gothic set up - a remote mansion and a woman apparently being "gaslighted" by her rich and disabled brother, and in effect imprisoned in her own home with a Rebecca type housekeeper as her gaoler. Then there are other strands to the plot - sightings of a monster in the vicinity of the mansion, an "Old Dark House" murder mystery element, and some cod Eastern mysticism which whilst I wouldn't call it "sophisticated", is more comfortable playing with fairly esoteric ideas than I'd expect from a 1940's movie. You would have seen it in the pages of Weird Tales (for example), but I didn't think film and TV caught up for another 25-30 years. It's misogynistic, though - from the thuggish chauffeur's attempted rape of a housemaid early in the film (or "getting fresh", I suppose the film-makers saw it); to the various male characters' treatment of a woman with a career (the female lead is a psychiatrist the victimised woman has managed to contact and bring to the house) - variously a challenge, or an obstacle to romance; to the "maybe it's better this way" ending - some uncomfortable viewing, at times.
It's the present that can be truly depressing...
I don't think I've seen either of those, although I've heard of Caltiki. Hmm, offal, if that includes brains and tripe and sweetbreads and such, it is most excellent eating! Not easy to picture as wearable habit though.
The "black and red mess" reminds me of evil Arab candies we loved mainly because they dyed the tongues wicked blue, ghastly green, jaundice yellow and so on. Probably insanely cancerogenic and whatnot.
I should have been more specific, it was tripe that Bava used to create Caltiki (I'm a typically finicky Englishman when it come to food, but I'm happy to eat liver and kidney, at least).
However, I've just read about it, in, of all places, Philosophy Now. Philosophy Now seems to think that Leo Cookman is writing a review of it; what he actually writes is a short essay on the uncanny that brings in a little bit of discussion of Westworld.
From what he writes, though, he seems to think it's quite
The basic storyline is intriguing throughout, the scenery beautiful, the writing very good (on the whole), the score very witty, and the acting excellent. The show is also about as complex a tv show as I have come across, multi-layered, intelligent, subtle.
I can see why a philosopher would be interested in it as the show examines what being human means - how we define consciousness and humanity. It explores the dark side of humanity - our propensity to violence, how easy some find it to oppress and abuse others, how easy it can sometimes be to dehumanise 'the other'. Looking to the future, it also examines artificial intelligence and what might happen should androids develop consciousness.
I understand that some have criticised the show for being too violent and that it has too many horrible characters in it, but then one has to consider what type of person would be attracted to a 'holiday resort' where one can kill and rape other 'humans' at will. It seems to me that some of the 'humans' in the show had clearly lost their humanity, ironically whilst some of the 'androids' develop consciousness and an emotional core.
On the negative side - I found the show pretentious at times, the pace was too slow, and some of the plot developments and character behaviour had to be taken with a pinch of salt, but overall, I would certainly recommend it. It kept me guessing until the end and it was certainly original, entertaining, and challenging tv.
THE AMICUS VAULT OF HORRORS : Part One
Thanks for that (Roy Hudd is an...interesting... choice for narrator). I recognised Edward de Souza and John Carson in the recreation of the train carriage scenes from Dr Terror's House of Horrors.
I read recently that Doctor Who and the Daleks was released in the US as part of a triple-bill with Night of the Living Dead. It's assumed a large part of the target audience were terrified by Romero's film and didn't stay for the rest of the bill.
I want to see Cushing's Doctor but so far the DVDs were ridiculously priced.
Well, I'll be damned ... I was looking at the train scenes puzzling over the actors and nothing clicked.
Yes, Roy Hudd struck a bit of a false note for me - probably all those decades of comedy/satire radio shows and now it's too late for me to appreciate how he'd come across to someone with an 'innocent ear'.
Penny Dreadful almost finished, two episodes to go. Loved Patti Lupone's shrink, so Weimar without the accent. Eva Green continues to be out-of-this-world amazing. Could have done without the Wild West segments (wouldn't have missed Hartnett's werewolf at all, tbh). The "exotic" bits were just that much too hokey in the whole series (the loyal African servant, the mysterious Native American sage with a white "son" no less).
Dr. Jekyll, what a scrumptious crumpet. Of course he shows up when the show's almost over. And the fencing lady. It was during her scene that it occurred to me the show was let down by the lack of a stronger central plot. As it stands, it feels like a bunch of introductions to stories. Characters galore with new ones being introduced all the time, but little sense of what binds them together. Like promises of a great party to be but it keeps getting postponed.
Making it worse, motivations change all the time too. Frankenstein's monster goes after Lilly, then he doesn't, then he goes of to the Arctic, then he doesn't; and why on earth is Dorian Gray now helping a bunch of misandrist women kill men? What's in it for him? I'm guessing it's writers not knowing how long the show will last and keeping it all ambivalent and open to whatever buuuut the lack of that central plan harms it, imo. Also, with ever increasing number of characters and subplots revisiting them all made it seem more and more like previews. I guess that's why the Monster had to come back to London, or Murray go after Chandler. Bringing at least some subplots together.
So on the one hand I regret it was ended after only three seasons, it's so watchable, but on the other I understand maybe why if they were just likely to continue in the same vein.
I suppose there's a (rather vague) nostalgia angle too, given that these films are between 40 and 60 years old, and Roy Hudd is a big fan of/authority on variety and Music Hall. My main issue, after getting over the surprise of who's voice I was hearing, was that he didn't seem to have had much time to study his script.
It was a comedy turn, though, and anyway Blood Beast Terror is a Tigon film ;)
I haven't been watching Penny Dreadful. I keep getting sidetracked. Like here: about 27 minutes into this early 70s..whatever it is.. DJ Mike Raven tries to boost his horror career with a cover version of "Monster Mash"
That reminds me, I've still got to hunt for season 3 of Penny Dreadful.
I've probably mentioned this, but: I'm half-sure I bought it; I can't find it; I lost my DVD catalogue when Take11 folded during several months of me not buying DVDs, so I can't check.
So now I'm stuck - I really want to see S3 but I'm reluctant to shell out for it on the assumption I haven't bought it as it would certainly turn up in a box of books or something on the same day the new set arrived ...
Anybody seen The Red House (1947)? From what I've read, it seems to be a bit difficult to pigeonhole, but I think 'Gothic' should come in there somewhere.
This is completely useless--I know I saw it (huge fan of Edward G. Robinson) and I know it disappointed me, but I couldn't give you any details. However, I know the disappointment was of the kind where the horror or the mystery or the villain turned out to be something entirely different, in a mundane deflating sort of way.
But you should see it because--Edward G. Robinson!
I've been taking notes about movies to see from the docu. I don't get the drubbing of The Terrornauts, it's quite a nifty little sci-fi pic.
Another Italian Gothic starring Barbara Steele become available in the UK - The Long Hair of Death (I Lunghi Capelli Della Morte), out on Blu-ray. It was even displayed with the new releases in HMV. I haven't had a chance to watch it yet.
However, I have seen now The Awful Dr. Orloff (i>Gritos en la Noche) as Jess Franco's first horror has come out on DVD in the UK. Having seen a few of his later ramshackle, zoom-in-zoom-out softcore efforts I was surprised at how good this looked and how pacy it was. Like so many of the Euro Gothic films it's a bricolage of story, character, scenes and images from earlier movies and really wears those influences on its sleeve besides the usual suspects I thought there were traces of Laird Cregar's 40's thrillers, Hangover Square and The Lodger). The authority figures are idiots but this might be a veiled attack on General Franco's Spain as much as simply plot expediency.
The film also contains an awful lot the Franco kept returning too - an Edgar Wallace kind of detective story as a frame, Dr. Frankenstein style villain (far more Cushing that Colin Clive), a sympathetic monster, a theatre/nightclub with sexy girl performers (very tame compared to his later films). There are a couple of topless scenes,eve, where already his - is erotomania too strong a word - seems to have got the better of his professional judgement. Sexy jazz on the soundtrack when the mad scientist is plying his scalpel?
No, no - once I saw the first mention I deliberately didn't read further - so no problems.
I think it was on Talking Pictures I saw it scheduled, but they don't seem to be repeating it in the next few days, as far as I can see. Oddly, their website doesn't seem to have a search box.
Hell's teeth - I only flagged him a minute ago and his account was removed before I could post it to the appropriate thread. Um ... 'it' not 'him' - think it was a bot ...
Peter Cushing: So What's Peter Capaldi's Favorite Dracula Film?
He's just such a wonderful person.
I'm going to miss Capaldi as the Doctor, that's for certain.
Have you seen the other modern-day Hammer Dracula, The Satanic Rites of Dracula? I understand it never had a proper theatrical release in the US and exists in a nether-world of budget VHS and DVD copies of grotty grindhouse prints (also called Dracula and his Vampire Brides?) I managed to record a clean off-air version from the BBC, but I don't think I've seen it on commercial release in the UK.
Yes, I got it in a cheap combo with Psychic circus (which I saw in the German version) and something called Horror Hotel. Oh, would that be the City of the dead maybe--anyway, I only watched the Rites so far. Video quality isn't superb but it's adequate.
Caught on YT a Peter Cushing movie I didn't know existed--Corruption. Rather bad, but still watchable for a Cushing fan. Kate O'Mara has a small role. The swinging sixties party that opens the movie is hilarious.
Aww, cute reverse-psychology. Wonder if it worked... Looking at the featured review--ha, yes, the soundtrack is stunningly inept.
Would that be Psycho-Circus? (Searching for "Psychic Circus led to to "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy" - still the only Doctor Who story to open with a rap :)
I've got Psycho-Circus on DVD under the title Circus of Fear - it's a sort of Edgar Wallace flavoured effort, wouldn't you say?
Horror Hotel is City of the Dead, but it's the US version and is apparently a few minutes shorter. I've recently treated myself to the new UK Blu-ray release, and I'm getting quite fussy about picture quality now! (I'm enjoying being able to find Touchstones for films, by the way).
I knew about Corruption (ah, no, no Touchstone) ever since reading English Gothic but apart from seeing a couple of clips as extras on a DVD I didn't think I'd be able to see it. I'll have to find it on YouTube, although apparently what I thought was a R1 Blu-ray is actually region-free, so I could buy a copy. The director, Robert Hartford Davis, made a string of exploitation films in the 60s and early 70s. The Black Torment is a sort-of cod-Italian Gothic, Gonks go Beat a pretty awful pop music cash-in, for example.
The Satanic Rites of Dracula is in a mid-70s world rather than the past-its-sell-by-date hippiedom of Dracula A.D 1972. In some aspects it's almost a Brian Clemens-style adventure, like a non-whimsical New Avengers or a proto The Professionals. Or, there are parallels with UNIT-era Doctor Who (Don Houghton wrote both of the modern-day Draculas and contributed scripts for
Doctor Who in 1971 and 1972. Van Helsing and Jessica = The Doctor and Jo Grant; Dracula = The Master; William Franklyn et al = The Brigadier and UNIT. Needless to say these aren't my observations. The Doctor Who fandom got there first). This might be the first Hammer Dracula I ever saw, so that might have raised it in my estimation I suppose.
I read that Christopher Lee hated anything that diverged from Stoker's novel and especially disliked these two films, but of course the novel was a fast-moving techno-thriller when it was published, not a period piece so that gives a justification for a modern-day setting. And then Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist had raised the stakes (no pun intended) hence the identification of Dracula with the Devil - nothing less would scare them, it seemed. And there are hints in the novel of where this film went - the story of Dracula becoming a vampire by forfeiting his soul in the Scolomance (I haven't checked the spelling) and the hints of world-weariness (I know "to be really dead. That must be glorious" is from the Tod Browning film but isn't there an equivalent passage in the novel?).
I think the DVD can be had from Spain, via Amazon.
Oh LOL, right you are, Psycho not Psychic and yes, it's totally due to the nefarious influence of Doctor Who on my mind-meanderings... Right, there's a Edgar Wallace connection--think we discussed it once upon a time...
I didn't bother watching Horror Hotel because I'm hoping for a fine enriched version of the City of the Dead some day. (Also Night of the Demon, Burn, witch, burn, and Witchcraft, while I'm at it.)
hence the identification of Dracula with the Devil
They do that in Penny Dreadful too. I'm not saying it makes no sense (what could possibly not make sense when it comes to the supernatural), but to me it feels something like overkill. Satan is an intellectual, a vampire is merely a bloodlusting animal, is how I see it.
ETA - If anyone hasn't seen it, the original, 1954 film is well worth a look - suprisingly moving and it has a bit of depth if you look for it.
Loved Devil Doll (1964) they are showing so much I ordered the DVD; the other two movie offerings (Horror Hospital with Michael Gough and Blood of the vampire) are unfortunately available only DUBBED! and I just can't bring myself to watch them that way.
Horror Hospital is quite something; I couldn't decide if it was an inept mess or some sort of dadist triumph. It's available as a R2 DVD or even R2/B Blu-ray, if you are able to play them.
I have seen Blood of the Vampire too, I've even got an off-air recording. It's not as good as the Hammer films it was aping, though.
Saw Count Yorga, vampire and The return of Count Yorga, both with enough interesting features to warrant viewing (once for sure). I was amused by some Buffy-esque self-conscious quipping in the latter--oh, and the Count watches a Spanish vampire movie on television.
(Cool that touchstones work for movies now!)
There wasn't any great depth to it, but I quite enjoyed it. I don't know how long I'll remember it, but it kept me watching all the way through, and that's something these days - with most modern horrors that I try to watch I switch off after about twenty minutes. However, if it wasn't for the critics used by Rotten Tomatoes I'd probably have forgotten it in a few days.
I watched it on a whim, without looking up its ratings on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes as I'd usually do. When I did look, I was rather astonished ot see that Rotten Tomatoes gave it only 3% - I'm pretty sure I've never seen a rating so low before. I normally feel Rotten Tomatoes is the more reliable guide, but this time I thought IMDb's 5.1 out of 10 was much more accurate.
I was at a loss for a while to figure out why all those critics on Rotten Tomatoes rated it so low, then I figured it out. Obviously, they're a bunch of tossers. Just for curiosity, I looked up Plan 9 From Outer Space. That got 67%. As I said, tossers.
Er ... I only had a half-bottle of wine before writing that. Anyway, if I differ so drastically from a whole bunch of critics, it's a fairly obvious that they must all have got it wrong ...
I was so obsessed with that rottentomatoes rating that I forgot to mention the film itself:
Frankenstein himself hardly appears in it; it's all about the further adventures of the creature, after Frankenstein has frozen to death hunting him in the Arctic.
There's an ongoing war between angels, who spend time disguised as gargoyles, and demons, who disguise themselves as corporate business types. The poor old creature, who is pretty much an immortal superman (but a bit scarred about the features) gets caught in the middle. It gradually becomes clear why, and he does something about it.
Bill Nighy, leader of the demons, does a little bit of acting here and there, but there's not a lot of call for it and it's mostly action.
I'm no oficionado of CGI, but the special effects - airborne punch-ups and so forth - had, for me, nothing about them to draw unfavourable attention.
And that's about it, really.
I also recently watched Derek Jarman's version of The Tempest from 1979. I had an off-air copy which I'd copied from VHS to DVD-R some years ago but I found a DVD for £5.00. I remember seeing a VHS copy in W.H. Smith (of all places) back in the 80s, priced at something like £60.00!
Watching it again, it's nimbler than Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books and not nearly as sparse as I remembered, despite having a tiny budget. According to Toyah Willcox's commentary (she played Miranda) Jarman believed the play was full of alchemical and occult secret meanings and this fed into the adaptation of the script, and the design and so on - all in line with the 1970s preoccupations we've been discussing.
I'd completely forgotten that The Tempest had a commentary included - I've just hunted out my copy to confirm it's the same one, but I've certainly never heard it, or seen the two shorts included. I think I'll spend this evening with it.
The script's by Jimmy Sangster and he demonstrates the same low opinion here, as he does in Hammer classics like The Revenge of Frankenstein. Which is a point in its favour.
At least he (Cushing) is in it... *puts on to-find list* Sorry--what opinion of Sangster's do you mean?
I think The Collector (1965) deserves a mention here--psychological horror in a quasi-Gothic cellar! Given the casting of Terence Stamp, I was worried they might have romanticised the story, but never fear, the plot is true to Fowles' book.
And Stamp is extraordinary, pathetically vulnerable or chillingly creepy in turns. Eggar is also very good. The character escapes being the usual empty "everywoman" female object of desire thanks to Fowles' superior template, the few touches imported from the book give her a real presence, a distinctive personality. But she suffers in becoming cinematic, whereas Stamp's character adapts beautifully, being a black box, a zero to begin with--what you see is ALL there is.
Well I'd assumed it was Sangster's own opinion, given the wicked squires and decadent or heartless aristocrats that turn up in a number of Hammer films (and not just horror films - you've got the historical adventures and Robin Hood films too). But when it came to actual examples (to add to The Revenge of Frankenstein) I immediately thought of The Curse of the Werewolf, The Plague of the Zombies, and The Hound of the Baskervilles (for the 18th Century -set prologue). But Sangster only wrote the last of the three.
I'm wondering now how much of this attitude the Hammer staff carried over from Gainsborough Pictures, where many of them had previously worked? I don't know a great deal about the studios' output (it being the sort of thing the BBC would show on a Sunday afternoon in the 1970s and I would be bored rigid by) but I gather they had a run of "morally ambivalent studio bound costume melodramas" (Wikipedia) with more often than not James Mason in the Byronic villain role (and I imagine the films purposefully or not showed a society in which such a person could prosper, and threaten the heroine. And how could such a film fail to imply criticism of such a society, since it is one of the things that's ranged against her? Or is that naive of me? Plenty of dark things happen on US network TV (Criminal Minds and so forth are ubiquitous on UK satellite/cable, so I know) but there's little criticism of US society in them).
Oh, low opinion of the swashbuckling heroes? Wouldn't know.
I have this impression the Brits were more cognizant of the social aspect of things in general than the Americans, but there could be a bias in my selections. I mean, it's possible the UK studios were churning out mindless commercial pap and I just don't come across it or something. And the US did use to have a progressive media scene, especially in the theatre. Some of it even managed to get on television--if you can find Criterion's Golden Age of Television set (culled from a PBS series): http://www.dvdtalk.com/reviews/39908/golden-age-of-television-the/, the contrast between the ambition for adult entertainment then and now is stunning.
I don't know much about the differences between the US and UK but I'm guessing the lack of nationally supported entertainment in the former would be another factor in keeping it as "apolitical" and dumb as possible. And hence, down the line, one gloomy day, TRUMP! (These days I can't look at a menu without it all leading to "and then, TRUMP" *retching*)
Speaking of Gainsborough, I borrowed some years back a newish set of their movies and felt pretty much as you, most of it is boring now, but there was at least one I really enjoyed, The wicked lady with Margaret... Lockwood! Who was in The lady vanishes too. And yes James Mason is in it. Likable actor. But with some mystery to him. He doesn't seem comfortable in anything. As if a shy person was pushed into the limelight.
I could be imagining things, for all I know he was a boisterous party animal...
Oh, sorry, I didn't intend to comment on Sangster's opinion of swashbucklers. Like you I haven't any idea what it was. I was trying to say the villains in those films are the same kind of malign authority figures (and the heroes are rebels) - the Sheriff of Nottingham, and so forth (it's not necessarily nuanced of course, any more than the politics in Star Wars).
I've got an impressionistic sense of what US television was capable of doing - was prepared to broadcast, is probably a better way of putting it - from various sources over the years. Marc Scott Zicree's book on The Twilight Zone introduces its subject by discussing the (non-genre) one-off plays by people like Paddy Chayefsky and (of course) Rod Serling. I found out about Gian Carlo Menotti's 1951 opera for television, Amahl and the Night Visitors, I think, from a BBC Music Magazine article. I think I simply stumbled across some footage of Stephen Sondheim's musical version of John Collier's Evening Primrose on YouTube a couple of years ago. And there was the film Good Night, and Good Luck about Edward R Murrow bringing down Joseph McCarthy.
I think you're right about the historical differences between US and UK culture. Those differences have been eroded since - oh, late 1979. Now, the differences are much much less. And now we have Brexit.
alaudacorax or any other British member reading this might think I'm getting nostalgic about the TV of the 1970s so I'll quickly say I readily concede that as a pre-teenager I often found it boring, with its serious investigative documentaries, lengthy studio discussions, old and sometimes foreign-language films, programmes for schools and colleges and the Open University. Sometimes it wasn't on at all and broadcast the test card for TV repairman and TV salesmen instead (and played maddeningly uncategorisable what-is-this-where-does-it-come-from library music behind it). But the point is I was a child and you're supposed to grow up. So much of British TV these days seems to be made to appeal to middle-aged people who are still 10 years old, and stuck in the mid-1970s, inside. It's being made by those people, I guess.
I think British children and teenagers today have undoubtedly got a wider cultural frame of reference than I had but I suspect I had a deeper sense of (at least) US and UK cultural history. We had films from the earliest days of sound scheduled as a normal thing. Some silents as well (we had to wait 40+ years for them to be digitally cleaned up and played at the correct speed, mind). The Warner Bros cartoons and Tom and Jerry were always on, so we got the cultural references of the 30s and 40s and Carl Stalling's musical collages on the soundtrack. Impressionists (a big thing when you couldn't record TV programmes or call them up at will on a computer) tended to have a repertoire of Hollywood actors (going back to the silent comedians - you're thinking Charlie Chaplin but Syd Little used to do Ben Turpin (i.e. he crossed his eyes...).
Do US children have it even worse? Have they replaced history with a knowledge of other cultures or do they just live in an American present?
I googled James Mason and found a news story from 2009. From the background details of his life, it looks like your observations are spot on (and in later life, I learned from a book on the Salem's Lot mini-series, he suffered badly from arthritis).
I won't link to the story, it's from the Daily Express... the model for Waugh's Daily Beast, now it's a poor copy of the Daily Mail.
Edited to add: To clarify, neither of those things is admirable in my book.
It's Rupert Bear I feel sorry for.
Oh that's funny. I'm so bad at reading people in real life--but let me observe a long dead sad-faced thespian... :)
Do US children have it even worse? Have they replaced history with a knowledge of other cultures or do they just live in an American present?
Some American should chime in, I'm just a peripatetic visitor of places--I mentioned the US as Canada (my current domicile), to the best of my understanding more or less slavishly followed Mother Country in these matters--national support for the arts, CBC modelled on the BBC, high-mindedness in questions of culture, officially at least, etc.
Perspective and standards change with age, but I think we also discover more to, well, discover in the past as we all become something of historians and anthropologists of daily life. Even the humblest programme acquires additional interest.
It's also why I can't help myself but pick up vintage guidebooks (most of those I don't even catalogue)--just seeing the photographs of empty places that are now covered by throngs of tourists and skylines without a mass of signs, advertisements, antennae is such a trip.
P.S. What happened to Rupert? I didn't know those in childhood but recently I rummaged through a bunch of them at a sale.
There was always a Rupert Annual at Christmas, which got the character known beyond households which took the Express (old fashioned phrase, that "what paper do you take?" - from an era when it would denote your class and politics). There was one last year - it's just too early for the 2018 one to appear in the shops - and I had a look at it but it was all, or mostly, reprints. Maybe the daily strip i(if it's still there) is all reprints - there's something over 90 years' worth of material that could be recycled.
I've got one Rupert Annual myself, which i bought from second hand on a whim when Charles Schneider reproduced a frame from it on his Facebook page. A frame featuring a goat in magician's robes. Out of context it did look quite strange and unsettling.
Outside the strip, some corporation owns the rights and I've seen the occasional awkwardly-updated cartoon version. I really got to know the character through the '70s puppet series which used a lot of Gerry Anderson's puppeteers and technical staff.
The day the earth caught fire--is that the one shot with a strange tint, like a dusty overlay? Terrific movie.
Bizarre to think that we may yet experience one or another doomsday scenario... The Rump is supposed to give a statement about Nuke Korea in minutes.
Hitching a ride with Vogons never sounded better.
I don't remember a scene with a tinted print,but Wikipedia confirms there was one, so you probably do have the right film - Leo McKern is in it, Edward Judd is the lead. It's a bizarre coincidence and unsettling, to say the least.
Yes, I think it starts normal and becomes tinted as heat rises (I have a copy somewhere but need to find it before entering), fantastic effect.
The Ruperts were all hardcover collections, probably those annuals you mention, but I don't think they had particularly Christmassy covers... there were a few with winter scenes.
I particularly loved the scenery in them: there always seemed to be lovely woodland in the background; where I spent my childhood there wasn't any 'proper' deciduous woodland and I absolutely longed for some - the kids in books and films seemed to have a lot of their adventures in it.
You've now got me fascinated by that wizard goat. I have a sort of glimmer of a memory of seeing him, though when I checked your album it was about fifty years too late - perhaps they've been recycling material for decades? Did the goat have his glasses - or perhaps a pince-nez - way down on the end of his nose?
I vaguely remember a story about sea-sprites, so Rupert does seem to have had his brushes with the supernatural.
I really should get round to seeing The Collector. I remember it was a bit of a sensation when it was released - rather exercised the media - so I've always been aware of it.
I think I've been a bit scared of it, though: the damsel in distress is a staple of our kind of movie, but I've always been a bit squeamish about damsels being distressed too realistically - too believably, say.
The image of the Wise Old Goat is from the Rupert Annual no. 68 (copyright Express Newspapers 2003 - so, the 2004 Annual I presume). The story isn't a reprint and the art is by John Harold - but clearly in the style of the most famous Rupert artist, Alfred Bestall. I've tried to take a picture:
Here's the endpaper, more open countryside than woodland. As a child I could see woodland and countryside of a sort from the family home - looking across the Thames to the north there were some fields (adjoining or at least near the land where Reading Festival is staged), and some rather nice houses situated within plenty of trees in Caversham Heights - which I assumed were farmhouses. A couple of years back I worked out that carrying on for 10 miles or so due north would take you to the location* where Blood on Satan's Claw was filmed.
* they did also film closer to London, in one of Hammer's favourite locations, Black Park near Slough.
Reading was a more harrowing experience for me, but if you know you have problems dealing with more reality-bound depictions of crimes, I suppose you may want to skip it. What gets to me is the tragedy of Miranda's fate. There's no gore and really not that much show of physical violence compared to most anything we talked about here. Still, I think one could make a case it's the "reality" of any vampire fantasy...
Is The Terror of the Tongs the worst Hammer movie? It's certainly my contender for such. God knows I love to love any old rubbish on flimsiest grounds, but finally it's happened, something I can say nothing positive about. It's so bad it's terrible. Actually, it's so bad it's frequently hilarious (if you're me at least) and yes I did roar with laughter in places--poor Roger Delgado's awful Chinese makeup in one scene that they apparently couldn't afford to stop and repair so he's stood there with one eye round and the other almost taped shut being the peak inadvertently comic moment... But the total awfulness of the red-haired lead, Captain Sale or Sail, the utter incompetence of the French actress, combine to make this disaster special. And yes the script is bad (by Jimmy Sangster, houseful!) but there's no reason a bit more effort and charm from the actors couldn't have rendered the usual passable cheese.
I'm just surprised Christopher Lee agreed to other yellowface roles after this, you'd think he'd need trauma counselling... :)
P.S. Burt Kwouk gets off lightly, prudently getting himself killed in the fifth minute or so. :)
You've now given me a perverse itch to see 'The Terror of the Tongs'! From what you say of it, though, I've probably seen it at some point and completely forgotten it ...
"Is The Terror of the Tongs the worst Hammer movie?" Remember that they made big-screen versions of British sitcoms in the 1970s. Have you been able to compare it with On the Buses, Mutiny on the Buses, or Holiday on the Buses? (A word of warning - the journalist Samira Ahmed has gone on record as showing her daughters On the Buses to show them just how bad it was to be a woman in the '70s).
I may have seen The Terror of the Tongs if some BBC or ITV scheduler thought it was suitable fare for school holidays, but I don't remember it. I have got hold of another Hammer adventure film - The Stranglers of Bombay. I'll have to watch it and report back.
Many's the time I fell in the same trap! You could always tell yourself you're exploring all the ways one can fail at movie-making. :)
I meant worst of what I saw, which doesn't include anything other than their horror/crime genre. I had no idea they did sitcoms too. Doesn't sound too promising.
I bet The Stranglers... turns out to be much better--hard to see how it could be worse! Did I mention the wretched, leaden direction? :)
I am looking forward to enjoying a different bit of weirdness this weekend, I received The Corridor People from the UK (and I hope ONE of these days my bundle of everything Quatermass shows up finally!--do I have to sacrifice a goat to you, Canada Post, I'll do it!)
>146 housefulofpaper: I enjoyed 'The Stranglers of Bombay' - good film.
The one with some hapless Scandinavian model cast in hopes of repeating Ursula Andress' hit with She? :) I find anything "historical" is a bad bet most of the time. Not just the unlikely dialogue and characterisation, but the poor costumes, heavy theatrical makeup, stiffly sprayed and curled sixties hairdos... Still, I remember The Viking Queen as more entertaining, it didn't seem to drag like The Tongs. Am in no hurry to watch again (if ever), though.
Speaking not entirely on topic, but with details in common, I saw Hammer's "breakout" first film (or success), The Quatermass Experiment with Brian Donlevy, from 1955. I was enthralled by Nigel Kneale's three 1950s television series and while I'm glad the movie helps to get some inkling of what the lost episodes of the first television serial were about (the finale in the Westminster Abbey and the destruction of the monster in particular), I'm disappointed by the vastly different approach to characters. It's instructive, however, and sort of continues on the conversation about the differences between British and American media.
In the movie, Quatermass is American, and a full-on cliché at that--a ruthless egotistic tough-talking, overbearing, arrogant sod barking orders and insults at everyone. This is so far from Kneale's (and Reginald Tate's, John Robinson's and André Morell's) characterisation that it amounts to character assassination.
I won't expand on everything I find fascinating and admirable about Kneale's original scripts, but one notable thing I'm fond of is the realistic picture of scientific work it gives, however sketchily. Quatermass is a figure of authority, of course, due to his achievement and seniority, but as any institutional scientist (who actually get to send rockets into space) he is part of a team and reasonably bound by obligation to the hierarchy and the taxpayer. He is important but he is not godlike, and the plot depends on many other people as well. And he's a very decent human being with a conscience.
Another drastically contrasting note is struck by the character of Judith Carroon, the wife of the astronaut who returns from the space flight. In Kneale's serial she was Quatermass' colleague and assistant and they had a warm respectful relationship. She was smart, capable, level-headed. In the movie she's just "the wife" played by a terrible actress with a Minnie Mouse voice and breathless little girl mannerisms. She gets to be incredibly doltish (out of selfish pique it would seem) and decides to smuggle her obviously seriously ill husband out of the hospital, precipitating the disaster. Tough American Quatermass calls her "a stupid idiot". I'll go out on a limb and predict this does not happen in Kneale's serial (there's a PDF of the missing episodes I have yet to read).
The movie ends with the camera following from above Tough American Quatermass striding alone to "his" next rocket-building project (no one else need apply?), the square-jawed solitary hero of cosmic conquest. It's so stupid I could cry, and when I think of how stupid it is in comparison to the television series, I could cry a week longer. It's impossible to ruin completely a story this good, but they sure tried.
The one great thing in the movie is the lacerating silent performance of Richard Wordsworth (not an actor I recall seeing before) as the astronaut Carroon.
It's not often (okay, it's never) I say this, but I wouldn't mind seeing a remake, just to do justice to the monster on the scaffolding in the Abbey. That was pretty neat.
There was a remake, and it was broadcast live: in fact it was the the first BBC live drama in something like 20 years. This was in 2005, on cable/satellite channel BBC4 (they followed up with a live remake of A for Andromeda, then the emphasis shifted to special episodes of mainstream dramas Casualty and Eastenders on BBC1).
The Quatermass remake had a good cast but a tiny budget (and a lumpily edited script which not only struggled to condense everything to 2 hours - Val Guest did it better for Hammer- but was a uneasy update from the 1950s). The monster was, in the end, not shown. Quatermass delivered his big speech to an empty building (NOT Westminster Abbey). It's ironic that they felt they couldn't deliver on the monster, as the original production team felt the same, and Kneale and his wife Judith Kerr created the prop themselves - see the Nigel Kneale "Timeshift" documentary that some kind soul uploaded to YouTube (about 8 minutes in, but the whole thing's worth watching).
'I don't think he's happy with anything I did on his films. He's a brilliant writer, but he was inclined to get too verbose and we had to cut that down for the screen...Brian Donlevy was all right, no problem at all once you kept him sober! Nigel Kneale was expecting to find Quatermass like he was on television, a sensitive British scientist, not some American stomping around, but to me Donlevy gave it absolute reality'.
In interview, Kneale said: "When (Donlevy) came onto the set, he couldn't remember the name of the film or the scene or any of his lines, he was prompted all the way. He would just get through it with a burst of anger - that was the only thing that sustained him - anger and shouting at people. That helped him remember his lines, but he was truly terrible. He had no notion of what the character could be and he wasn't interested.'
There is also a witty interview with Richard Wordsworth where he recalls the end of the film with the monster having become 'a great round blob of rubber'. He says a Northern landlady said to him 'Mr Wordsworth, you were so good. And in the Abbey scene - your make up! It was marvellous!'
>150 housefulofpaper: I gave up on that BBC4 remake about half way in - it was awful!
Aaah, thanks so much, vindication from Kneale himself. (I knew nothing before about the Hammer movie, it came up as a suggestion when I was shopping for the BBC Quatermass pack.)
Nigel Kneale was expecting to find Quatermass like he was on television, a sensitive British scientist, not some American stomping around, but to me Donlevy gave it absolute reality'.
!!! Hogwash! "Absolute reality"?! What the hell was he smoking, Donlevy's ridiculous and they stultified everything about the plot. And poor Kneale, I can't imagine how I'd feel to see my work degraded like that, AND to be criticised by the people who did it--"too verbose"?! Well yeah, I suppose a vocabulary of over 200 words and proper sentences would seem too verbose to those types. Talk about adding insult to injury.
But this is pure gold: "He says a Northern landlady said to him 'Mr Wordsworth, you were so good. And in the Abbey scene - your make up! It was marvellous!'" A natural comedian, that lady! :)
Thanks, saved the docu to watch. Yeah, I don't see how a live performance could work with the special effects necessary for the monster, so not surprised if it was wonky in the original and that they skipped it later. Edit:
I'm waiting for the 1979 serial with John Mills. I saw bits of it on YouTube and liked what I saw a lot.
The second Hammer Quatermass movie credits Kneale along with Guest for the screenplay but I'm in no mood for Donlevy's version again so soon after the first.
In other news, The Corridor People is strange and marvellous (seen two out of four episodes).
Have we ever discussed that 2005 Quatermass here, previously? I have no memory of ever seeing it or even hearing about it.
Checked and we haven't. That's a new one on me.
>152 LolaWalser: I understand from Kinsey's book that Kneale wrote the first draft of the Quatermass sequel, and then Val Guest 'refined' it (oh no - we know what that means!!!) Kinsey also says that although Kneale had 'a bit more say in the sequel, he was powerless to stop Brian Donlevy reprising his role as Quatermass'.
I actually prefer the first film to the second, primarily on the strength of Richard Wordworth's performance, which is the best thing in either film.
I think you will enjoy the John Mills 'Quatermass' - it's very good.
I made a mistake above thinking the Hammer movie copied the resolution from the serial; turns out it was entirely different and now I'm even more disappointed the original is lost.
I saw the first episode, Mills is excellent. I'm trying to pace my watching this time (I couldn't unglue myself from the screen when I first discovered the old serials on YouTube) but it seems I may have succeeded too well and fallen meanwhile into another silent movie jag. After YEARS of looking for an affordable copy of Das indische Grabmal--the 1921 version with Conrad Veidt--I FOUND ONE. From there into the pit of with me--it's been silent Gothic horror (mostly) every late night. I can't remember why people ever bothered with inventing talkies...
Given the wealth of material to read and watch, it is so easy to be waylaid along various avenues of interests. Hence, the mountains of books and software in my home, some of which I will probably never get round to reading/watching!
Conrad Veidt is an excellent, under-rated actor. I haven't seen 'Das Indische Grabmal'. My favourite silent film of Veidt's is 'The Man who Laughs'. I like his talkies too, especially 'A Woman's Face', directed by Cukor, and 'Escape'. It would be great if Veidt's 1920 film 'Der Januskopf' ever surfaced (a lost film, based on Stevenson's 'Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde', directed by F W Murnau, the great director of 'Nosferatu' and 'Sunrise'). Some startling images from the movie are here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG5ohzIxgsk
Off topic but I would also love to see a complete version of 'Anders als die Andern' ('Different from the others') 1919, which looks fascinating in its truncated 'reconstructed' form, with its message of tolerance of homosexuality (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3PBJmWWwGI. )
Me too--and I did see it on a big screen in a cleaned up and re-edited version (not sure if identical to the currently available German DVD). I've been a Veidt groupie since the first time I saw The cabinet of Dr. Caligari, back in my mid-teens, but I haven't seen the American movies you mention (yet). It's a little sad that in the US he was stuck with playing villains--he was allowed more scope in Europe. I guess he just didn't fit the Yanks' trivial, terminally bland notions of leading men. What about his British stuff, Dark journey, The spy in black, Contraband...? I'm constantly watching the market for Veidt novelties, it's a shame how little effort there has been in Germany specifically to publish his movies.
It's also killing me there's no place anymore to see a silent movie in Toronto. Well, the bloody new cinematheque presumably shows some but I can't bear to step into that place. There used to be one great venue attached to the Art Gallery of Ontario, a hall of perfect size, acoustics, and live piano accompaniment but the bleeding capitalists killed it in favour of this soulless box divided multiplexedly into tiny claustrophobic boxes you can't roll a goat into let alone a piano... and they tripled the prices. I can hang up a sheet and buy a projector and recreate the sickening geometry of that pseudo-cinematic experience even in MY choked-up apartment!
Oh, sorry, veered off big time.
Das indische Grabmal is fascinating in twenty different ways; there are two other versions, one Nazi the other postwar by Fritz Lang (shot in India and of some documentary interest). There's really not much point in comparing them, or at least the latter two to Veidt's silent, which is to my mind THE most interesting one, not just for his performance (one of his most brilliant despite a few truly laughable co-stars with the exception of Lya de Putti, who alas gets to play a servant and not one of the two leading ladies) but for the crystallisation, at the same time as it helped to popularise it, of German cultural obsession with Hindu mysticism, began in the 19th century. And there's a smashing intro with the awakening of a buried yogi, with other rotting live corpses around--there's nothing they can do today to surpass the horror of those scenes.
By the way, have you seen Veidt's, 1926 version of Der Student von Prag? If not, there's a chance it might knock The Man who laughs off your #1 spot yet. :)
I reckon I saw less than a third of Veidt's filmography (as it counts, IIRC, more than a hundred titles), and I'd rank that as his best performance of the lot. A tough call between that and the rajah in Das indische Grabmal, actually... but I'm calling the former for the bravura double role--hey, it might make up some for the loss of his Jekyll/Hyde!--on the one side the tormented man who lost his soul, on the other the uncanny cold fiend who stepped out of the mirror and now haunts him to death.
I would recommend 'A Woman's Face' - certainly one of Joan Crawford's best performances (as good as 'Mildred Pierce'), excellent direction from Cukor and an unusual story from the usually glamorous MGM, concerning severe facial disfigurement, criminality and (potential) infanticide (I understand it's based on the Ingrid Bergman Swedish original which I haven't seen).
Both 'The Spy in Black' and 'Contraband' are good films - I have yet to catch up with 'Dark Journey' yet (Veidt and Vivien Leigh - why have I waited so long?!)
Great rant there about soul-less multiplexes! My local multiplex does occasionally show 'classic' films, or films they think are classics - like 'Grease' and 'Terminator 2'...maybe I am getting too old...Thankfully the BFI do still show silent films now and then.
'Das indische Grabmal' sounds fascinating! Another film to add to 'the list'!
I have seen Veidt's 'Der Student von Prag'. It is a sadly forgotten horror masterpiece and (agreed) one of Veidt's best performances. I saw it ages ago, but some scenes still stick vividly in my mind - particularly when Veidt's reflected self is beckoned out of the mirror, and basically the stunning last 20 or so minutes where his 'other self' stalks him until the chilling deneument. Perhaps joint favourite of mine with 'The Man who Laughs' on reflection...:-)
However, after reading your posts of yesterday, I've ordered The Student of Prague, so I'm looking forward to that.
I remember seeing both the Ian Richardson TV Movies in the late '80s or early '90s. I think I'd even taped them to VHS, but they always suffered in comparison with the Jeremy Brett versions (and the Jeremy Brett Hound isn't entirely successful - I remember reading that the producers considered it inferior to the Rathbone and Cushing film versions.
I did recently buy the Blu-ray of the Richardson Sign of Four - it's the more successful of the two films (although again the Jeremy Brett/Granada TV version betters it) and has an informative commentary (from memory, it's Holmes expert David Stuart Davies).
the stunning last 20 or so minutes where his 'other self' stalks him
This, YES, times a million!--believe it or not, yesterday I started writing exactly this, about the finale, but it turned into such a lengthy gushing rhapsody I decided to put the kibosh on fangirling. But, YES. That amazing last sequence. It boggles my mind that this movie is so unknown. It even has Werner Krauss (Caligari, Waxworks...) with Veidt again.
I have yet to catch up with 'Dark Journey' yet (Veidt and Vivien Leigh - why have I waited so long?!)
I'd say it's considerably weaker than the other two (Contraband is a true gem), but Leigh and Veidt are charming together, and she gets not only to look her most beautiful but radiate intelligence, cool as a cucumber while risking her life on a regular basis etc. There's a great bit role for an old handyman in her boutique, some nice banter and scenes in a "dancing", but the soufflé doesn't entirely rise to the occasion.
Oh my, where did you find it??? Paul, did you check that it's not the 1913 one with Paul Wegener (unless you want it, of course)--and is it from Alpha Video, region 1? I didn't see it but I heard it's unrestored--caveat emptor! But if you did find something better from wherever even if it's region 2 you must tell. NOW. :)
No, definitely the 1926 - it's a Region 1 import, direct from the USA, so I'll have to wait a week or two. It was very cheap, though - £5-20 including postage, so I don't expect a lot - the Amazon UK reviews speak of it being 'faded' or 'foggy'. Oddly, the Amazon page doesn't give the 'studio' - which usually means whoever published the DVD - but it's this one -
I've cancelled all my film subscriptions - Netflix, etc - and when I've caught up on a pile of DVD viewing I want to do I'm going to subscribe to cinemaparadisodotcodotuk. It must be just about the last DVD rental firm left in the UK - I'd never heard of it until recently - and they've got a fantastic collection of old films - I've been randomly sticking all sorts of old stuff in the search box and they've got it in the majority of cases.
They've got The Man Who Laughs, The Spy in Black and Dark Journey, but not the others the two of you mentioned.
Ah yes, that's the Alpha Video one--I have a few of their DVDs and, well, beggars can't be choosers, but they really take the bottom of the barrel approach. I only hope it won't ruin it for you!
I'm not happy with the Wegener DVD they issued, which I have (now they also sell together with that one) but I too am tempted to buy simply because there's nothing else--well, actually, last night I found a just-issued (September 15) Italian DVD from a "Studio Dna" (what, who?) but if the photo on the back is what the quality is like, oh no thanks. I'm afraid that, however, is what the Alpha Video will turn out to be like too. This is a movie I've seen three times on the big screen or television and I KNOW somebody somewhere has a fairly decent copy!
Link to Amazon Italia: Lo studente di Praga
I searched for reviews but couldn't find any, only announcements of release.
There's a 1973 Canadian TV adaptation of Dracula on YouTube (for the moment). Well, there's about half of it press. The middle is missing (and the screen goes dark at intervals - evidently for ad breaks).
What's interesting about it? Well, there's a brief introduction by novelist Robertson Davies (I've never seen any footage of him before).
And I'm still interested to see how adaptors diverge from the original novel, and borrow from their predecessors, but still stay true to something from the book.
Here, they seem to have looked back to Orson Welles' radio adaptation (and so match it in bringing out the odd clairvoyant turn taken in the book's narrative, when Van Helsing uses Mina's connection to the Count to track him). Also, it puts Mina more fully under Dracula's spell than any other version - apart from, now I come to think about it, from the Lugosi and the later (1979) film versions (where the Mina and Lucy character's names were switched).
One newish thing that this version seems to do (most of the relevant footage isn't present) is bring in a "wrongly accused man" subplot, with Harker suspected of being the vampire - I think Jess Franco's version makes some token efforts to do something like this too, but from what I remember it's soon dropped.
Anyway, here's the link:
Damn! Still haven't listened to that Orson Welles. I've still got Dragonwyck to watch, too (think that must have been in the previous thread).
And now I check, I've still got A Photograph on there (>43 housefulofpaper:>), but I wanted to watch Robin Redbreast before I watched that.
I know! There's so much I haven't got to yet. And I've just added some more...
I see we've both taken delivery of the second edition of American Gothic. I looked through my copy to make sure it wasn't faulty, but some film titles caught my eye and I looked for them on Amazon.
I've ordered a German Blu-ray of The Undying Monster. I'm thinking about getting a DVD-R of Supernatural (dir. Victor Halperin, 1933) from Spain. But if I want to see Bela Lugosi in The Return of the Vampire, I've got to stream it from Amazon.
I had a copy of The Terror of the Tongs on DVD. I watched it today and I quite enjoyed it, I'm afraid. Directed by Anthony Bushell - he played Colonel Breen in the TV version of Quatermass and the Pit and (I learn from IMdB) Olivier's right-hand man on his films. I don't think he took this one quite as seriously.
I'm a bit annoyed with Rigby at the moment.
I think I mentioned in a previous thread that I'd never seen or heard of Son of Dracula (1943). I looked it up in there.
I'd forgotten he tends to give away the endings!
I mean, he really has no need to do that - you can write a pretty comprehensive review of film without giving away the ending - critcs do it every day.
I like the way Rigby sometimes lets rip, though. He has a really savage review of the Claude Rains/Nelson Eddy Phantom of the Opera. He really seems to despise it.
I thought it was great fun, myself.
Thinking over it, I believe I thought it deliberately a bit camp. Rigby obviously watches it completely deadpan. So now I'm quite confused: was it really camp, or has the passage of time left us too 'sophisticated' to view it without seeing irony in it? Is the fun I see in it all created by my viewpoint rather than deliberately put in when they made it? Difficult.
I've no idea where I am with these Jonathan Rigby books. I've been randomly dipping in and out of them, and jumping back and fore and re-reading bits, until now I have no idea how much or how little of English Gothic or Euro Gothic I've read. Having American Gothic isn't going to help ...
Well I enjoyed laughing at it, so it wasn't a complete loss for me either. :) But it's the only movie featuring Christopher Lee (WITH Roger Delgado!) I can't see myself watching ever again. Just... dire. Give me The blood of Fu Manchu any time instead. OK, OK--only some of the very occasional time. :)
If it's any help, I got The return of the vampire in a super cheap 4-movie pack (together with Mr. Sardonicus, The revenge of Frankenstein, The brotherhood of Satan)--I see the price on Amazon Canada increased stupidly (it cost about 5 dollars) but Amazon US sells it for 6.99. Quality is fine on the two I watched so far, Vampire and Sardonicus.
I envy you those books. Never do they cross my used-books pathways, never...
I'd forgotten that I'd bought the DVD when we discussed the film last month. It's actually got more extras than it deserves, a feature commentary including Jimmy Sangster (recorded about 10 years ago) and a booklet. Maybe it's because I've been treated to the British B movies of the '50s and '60s shown on Talking Pictures TV, but I thought this looked at least as expensive as Hammer's Gothic horrors of the time, and the story was fairly fast moving. I have to say that Sangster's opinion of his work in the film wasn't a million miles away from yours (although I like to think the speech against the Tong, at one point in the film, was a disguised bit of social commentary, ditto the comments about the decadent Westerners , and the character of the traitorous District Commissioner). Give him some credit for inventing "bone scraping", though (well, he said in the commentary that he made it up!)
Although the Chinese make-up is poor (and made director Anthony Bushell roar with laughter in the make-up room, according to the booklet - funny how he never directed anything else for Hammer) it's no worse than the the job done 15 years later on Disney's One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.
Re. Return of the VampireBlack Zombies from Sugar Hill (didn't buy), but it's early days. To be honest with you, my main concern is all the stuff I've copied to DVD-R with no back up. I think I need to find someone with the tech knowledge to get it all on an external drive, for posterity.
I don't think the basic plot is the problem, it seems pretty much the norm for that type of movie, same as yellowface and all the pseudo-Oriental kitsch. As viewers either we agree to go with it or not. But here they had a real makeup mishap happening (to Delgado most obviously)--and just let it pass, which is simply unprofessional. That, however, isn't the worst by far, imo.
My memory of it is disappearing rapidly (thank dog) but if I had to choose the single worst thing about it, it would have to be the direction (and production, depending on who had major oversight). The lead man is atrociously bad but a better director might have, if not pulled a better performance out of him, at least got rid of the most egregious moments--for instance, when he meets his daughter (supposedly a young teen but played by an actress who looks deep in her twenties, all the more so for the forced "young" curls and silly babbling). She jumps to greet and hug her sea-sailing daddy and he totally seems to be giving her the eye for one hilarious moment--it's as if he forgot whether he was meeting his daughter or his bit of fluff. Then they have the most unconvincing parent-child exchange in history, and then in the next scene (basically), she's horribly murdered in her bed. (Editing sucked too.)
And now follows the crowning bit of hilarious badness and gaucherie, his inept reaction and entire comportment to the dastardly murder of his little girl. He looks less bothered than one might be by a paper cut! He's all but shrugging--and casually sitting back crossing his legs and grinning while someone is giving their condolences! Unbelievable! Funny as hell, but geez.
Not in the least surprised they never asked the director back, tbh. :)
my main concern is all the stuff I've copied to DVD-R with no back up.
Oh no--what sort of problems are you envisaging with DVD-Rs? I'm accumulating more and more as the print-on-demand offers are frequently all there is for the obscure stuff but didn't think about how they might wear.
There's a copy of the film, dubbed into Spanish, on YouTube with one comment underneath. I think for once Google Translate can be trusted:
"Jajajajajajaja que malos esos actores blancos haciendo de chinos/ Hahahahahahaha those bad white actors doing Chinese"!
Regarding DVD-R, I've seen a useable lifespan of only seven years quoted, but the sources I found online suggested longer than that. However I have had couple that have failed. I wonder if recordings I made when my DVD recorder was starting to play up (I basically flogged it to death copying most of my off-air VHSs) will be the more unstable? In any event it would be useful to know that I can make back-up recordings somehow.
Yikes, only seven years, that's terrible--I have lots nearing or past that mark. To make it worse, I noticed for the first time just a few days ago, having bought the two movies Rembetis recommended (Above suspicion and Escape), a small-print notice on them that they may not play in laptop or DVD-R drives! Is that new or was it always there? I never tried copying those (or regular DVDs), I expect that's what they are trying to discourage, or maybe they have come up with a way to lock them?
Point being, if on top of being un-copiable they are expected to deteriorate so quickly, they are a terrible value for money--and that's assuming availability in the first place.
Both of those played through my laptop's and an external drive but now I'm antsy about all incoming. And I thought I'd have those Peter Lorre/Sydney Greenstreet collaborations forever!
the cost comes to something like 40p per disc
So these are the DVD-R you burn, right? I have a stupid question--I noticed only recently that Amazon US (but not Canada) offers streamed videos to "rent" or "buy", in addition to selling you a POD DVD-R. If I "buy" (the price is typically half the DVD-R even minus postage), can I burn my purchase to a disc? Or is something different because you are buying a television subscription and not from a shop (although I've no idea what Amazon is anymore...)
I haven't upgraded to an HD box so the box connected to my DVD recorder through a SCART lead and I could copy off-air or from something saved to the Sky Box's disc (although I think Sky experimented, on the sly, with copy-protecting certain programs. I had issues with recordings stopping with no explanation, for a brief period, some years ago).
Sky are now using HD boxes and the HDMI connection enables copy protection. On the Recorder side, if you can find a new DVD recorder, the chassis has been changed so there's no SCART connection. Only co-axial or HDMI.
I don't use a streaming service but I'd guess it's going to be HD and include copy-protection (technologically, is streaming to a device really very different from a digital satellite signal being decoded in a dedicated machine such as a Sky box? I don't know, but it suggests non-HD streams might be recordable if you can sort out the tech).
Anyway, sorry all for the boring digressions.
Saw Baba Yaga (did I/we mention this before?), from 1973, with a fantastically cast Isabelle de Funès (comedian Louis de Funès's niece!) as Valentina, a comic strip creation originally by one of the masters of erotic comics, Guido Crepax. It's very well done.
Still waiting for a bunch of silents...
Your post made we check that the only thing I've downloaded from iTunes - the music video for Higgs Boson Blues - is still there. It is, thankfully.
I don't recall if we've discussed Baba Yaga (DVD) but I see I only gave it three stars - not that my star ratings are consistent or mean anything very much. I think maybe I couldn't contextualise its mixture of leftover '60s style, Giallo, Gothic and Erotica. I couldn't really compare it to Crepax's original work as I've only seen a couple of late stories in some 1980's Heavy Metal magazines.
I've watched all three (to date) series of Inside Number 9 written by and usually starring Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton (one half of The League of Gentlemen). Although they don't all fall within the bounds of this group they are all good and some are excellent (I couldn't recommend particular stories, I don't think, without giving away plot twists).
In addition to the uncanny impression De Funès gives of the comic strip character, I thought it had great atmosphere, Carroll Baker was nicely creepy, and her mannikin killer the best!... not a dull moment for me.
I've read Crepax and admire the originality of his work (less so his graphic style) but overall it's not really to my catholic, plebeian taste; it rather caters to the rarefied fetishist crowd.
series of Inside Number 9
Thanks for putting this on the map, whatever it is. :)
Abel Gance entreated him to act in Napoléon--in the role of the Marquis de Sade!! (Veidt found it too small to be worth the trip to Paris.)
And--picture me sobbing uncontrollably over this, I'll never get over this--in 1924 he had signed a contract with Mauritz Stiller to appear in a harem picture WITH GRETA GARBO--Veidt and Garbo together in a 1920s silent!--oh WHERE is the parallel universe where this happened and how do I get there and stay there...!
Also, Americans wanted him for Dracula, which is interesting, but I have lost all will to live now that I know we missed out on a Veidt/Garbo picture and nothing matters anymore.
So for my part, that whole outfit is absolutely not recommended to anyone but the most desperate seekers. And seriously, you might as well check YouTube and the torrents first, because if there's anything watchable there, Alpha Video won't improve on that.
P.S. They even managed to misspell Wiene's name TWICE on the DVD--on the back AND the cover--despite it being correct on the movie titles. Lol.
It's interesting that Garbo was under contract at MGM at the same time as Veidt (1940 - 1941), Garbo making 'Two Faced Woman' and Veidt making 'Escape' and 'Above Suspicion' - but no one seems to have thought of putting them together at that stage.
>162 LolaWalser: I finally caught up with 'Dark Journey' over at a friend's house who has a copy. Vivien Leigh looked absolutely stunning in this film. I wonder whether Selznick saw it before casting her in 'GWTW'? Veidt is so charming in it, and they worked very well together. You are right though, that the souffle did not entirely rise on this occasion. I thought the script was odd or that scenes were missing (the version I saw ran about 75 minutes). I was a bit gobsmacked at the ending too - I don't think this would have been made a year or two later, with Vivien pining for a German spy!
When discussing movies I like, I feel a bit guilty about enabling people on these threads to buy films that they might not enjoy. Alaudacorax, I hope you enjoy 'The Student of Prague', and Lola, I hope you enjoy 'Above Suspicion' and 'Escape'.
>177 housefulofpaper: I have been recording onto Dvd-r's for about 10 or 12 years now, and have about 500 discs (guesstimate). I have only had problems with 2 or 3 becoming unplayable, and about 5 that pixilate at certain points for a few seconds. It is worrying that Dvd-r's are not a stable long-lasting format!
I have a Sky HD box, and record from the box. Although the programmes are broadcast in HD, they record in Standard definition on the dvd-r's. I haven't tried to record films from the Sky movie channels (mainly because they show films I want to watch but rarely films I want to keep). I mainly record old tv programmes (e.g. that BBC4 show that are unavailable elsewhere) or documentaries, for myself and for friends abroad, especially on vintage stars - e.g. the Sky Arts 'Discovering Film' series, currently on its 7th season (although formulaic in approach, I don't think even the Americans have made documentaries about people like Joan Fontaine and Claude Rains).
Thanks very much for that link, loved seeing it. Judging by the apparent age of the little girl I'm guessing it must've been late twenties/early thirties (as I recall reading Veidt became a dad during the filming of Der Student von Prag, i.e. 1925...) Don't know if the woman with him is his second or third wife--but there's the first one, Gussy Holl, who after Veidt married Emil Jannings--and Jannings!
The Veidt/Garbo movie that never came to pass was called (in translation) "The Odalisque from Smyrna" and would have had Veidt as the sultan (another fetching turban role for the most beautiful man on earth cca 1924) and Garbo as, obviously, the eponymous heroine--oh the tremors and heart flutterings, oh the swoony possibilities--move over, Valentino... But, ALAS, etc.
I thought the script was odd or that scenes were missing (the version I saw ran about 75 minutes).
My DVD is 79 minutes (UK made, from a print in the Rohauer collection) but it seems obvious a lot was cut, and it's really poorly edited. The storyline is confusing but I think I got the hang of everything except, well, the ending. Not the romantic resolution that Madeleine would wait for Karl, that's understandable enough; I don't get what was his plan and whether he informed the Brits about the U-boat to save her, or whether he was hoping to get her away on his own. I.e., did he sacrifice himself for her or was he foiled? There's too much mucking about with ships and decks and targeting the submarine and filming people climbing in and out of boats when they should have logically strengthened the dialogue and given the leads a proper goodbye.
I don't think this would have been made a year or two later, with Vivien pining for a German spy!
It's weird they did it at any time in the late thirties although it bears remembering it's a First World War story and there was (still is, in some quarters) the ridiculous notion that WWI was somehow "gentlemanly", at least in comparison to WWII. Marwitz can be "just" a good German soldier, at least he's not a Nazi. In his next British picture, The Spy in Black, Veidt is again a First World War German officer--and notably doesn't get the girl, not even on deferral--for that he had to play a Dane next.
I hope you enjoy 'Above Suspicion' and 'Escape'.
I enjoy anything with Veidt, even as I groan and moan about how un-, under- and mis-utilised he is. :) Escape was great although I dislike Norma Shearer and have no use for Robert Taylor; as for Above suspicion, the wannabe Hitchcock, well it was a change to see him in such a basically comedic role. The tango with the fat woman was precious.
Since this latest bout of Veidt-mania hit me, I re-watched Casablanca after a couple decades of not seeing it (can't stand it) and was reminded of two things: what a load of bollocks from start to finish that miserable piece of Hollywood at its schmalziest is, and that the best role in it went to Rains--or his obvious enjoyment made it the best role, either way.
Veidt as a sultan, and Garbo the heroine - that would have been something!
My friend has the same UK dvd copy of 'Dark Journey' you own - from a print in the Rohauer collection. The ending was confusing, and it wasn't clear to me either whether he sacrificed himself or was foiled. Victor Saville is quite a good director (so far as his other British 30's output is concerned) and I don't think he would have put this version of the film out.
I am relieved you thought 'Escape' a great film despite some of the cast! I am no fan of Norma Shearer or Robert Taylor either. Shearer is virtually unknown today but was such a massive star - winning a Best Actress oscar and being nominated a further 5 times. I have seen about ten of her films and can't see why she was so popular, as her range seems very limited. Of course, being married to one of the bosses of MGM (Irving Thalberg), undoubtedly helped her career and standing in Hollywood. But really, winning the 1930 Best Actress oscar for 'The Divorcee' (for a really rotten performance) against Greta Garbo who was nominated for 'Anna Christie' and 'Romance'?!!
Ah, Veidt's tango in 'Above Suspicion', with that huge smile - surely the highlight of the film.
I quite like Hollywood schmalz (outside of really schmaltzy stuff like the Andy Hardy films). Claude Rains is indeed great in 'Casablanca'! Another great actor - consider how wonderfully he used his voice in 'The Invisible Man'.
I appreciated very much that in Escape his villain was allowed a touch more complexity--alas the last time THAT happened. It's not that one can complain, who wants movies with complicated humanised Nazis (in wartime at that), I'm just sorry for Veidt.
And Above suspicion, it's so sad that that, of all things, turned out to be his last role but in a way it underlines the suddenness, the catastrophe of his life ending so early--or--and maybe I'm giving in to pessimism more than I usually allow myself--the earlier catastrophe of having his amazing career irreparably damaged once Nazism made it impossible for him to exist in Germany. As if I needed more reasons to hate the scum...
Fact is, this is the first time I have watched so many of his movies one after another, day after day, and I'm going through an experience I've NEVER had in my life with any other film artist, something totally new. BUT--I cannot stress this enough, to describe how odd and strange it feels--I don't believe it would be possible to have it with any other than Veidt (maybe Barrymore if we had records of his early stage work) because I've come to realise there is NO ONE, no one whose face and figure I ever clapped eyes on on screen, who exhibited that range of expression, who projected thought so transparently, who acted so intelligently, with such supremely right instictive choice of gesture and grimace--and who was so ALIVE. He is the most ALIVE real actor I have ever seen. With this unprecedented immersion it's like watching something being built in front of my eyes. Out of shadows and things untold, whispers and smoke.
He does something on film that painters do with paint and musicians with music, that I never thought to compare to acting in my life. I don't even have words for it. I want to find them but right now I can't even stutter about what I'm thinking.
The father of my SIL sent me a couple discs burnt off his VHS tapes with Der Student von Prag and Der schwarze Husar (mature Veidt at his dishiest, btw).
Oh, more tidbits from the filmography (I wanted to quote to you stuff about Dark Journey etc. but maybe we should start an OT thread)--given how nicely Leigh and Veidt played together, she was slated also for the lead in The Spy in Black, but producers needed to cut costs and choosing Valerie Hobson saved them 4000 pounds.
It's fine by me! I obviously need to see more of Veidt's work. All I have on DVD is Caligari, the Korda Thief of Bagdad, and Casablanca.
It's something I've been aware of for a while; Veldt dominates the first section of Euro Gothic and the "news" that his performance in The Man Who Laughs inspired Batman's Joker keeps cropping up on websites.
News for UK-based people - House of Wax (2D and 3D versions) + Mystery of the Wax Museum on Blu-ray; The Haunting (1963) on Blu-ray. Apparently, exclusively from HMV.
Thanks--and just a technical reminder, if people are annoyed by the announcement of thread continuation that now appears at the bottom of every post, you'll have to continue it "manually" (i.e. make a new thread and link to it here, if you please).
It's something I've been aware of for a while; Veidt dominates the first section of Euro Gothic and the "news" that his performance in The Man Who Laughs inspired Batman's Joker keeps cropping up on websites.
Michael Powell (of Powell & Pressburger fame, as I probably don't need to say here) gives lovely tributes to Veidt in several places and the one that made me burst into tears (actually does every time I think of it) is, "He was the great German cinema."
But, I better stop now hogging TWO threads with the same topic!
Besides the films of you-know-who in the last few weeks I've only seen Wiene's Genuine (A Tale of a Vampire), or what remains of it, some 50 minutes or so. It's all over YouTube. The "vampire" in question is a femme fatale à la Feuillade, or to keep it local, Alraune; with the twist that she was a member of a savage tribe and cruelty is in her nature. Practically a showcase of Expressionistic design and performance. See it once and you won't be able to unsee its influence in pretty much all of horror made later (true for Caligari too, of course).
Gothic Films - episode four