Phantasmagoria and Haunted Screens: Gothic Films (and more) - Eight

É uma continuação do tópico Gothic Films - episode seven.

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Phantasmagoria and Haunted Screens: Gothic Films (and more) - Eight

Dez 13, 2020, 7:11pm

Such a long wait, and that's the lame title I came up with...I can only apologise.

What have I been watching?

Universal's 1941 The Black Cat was disappointing, but I suppose I should have expected it to be obscure for a reason. It's a rather lame horror comedy of the Old Dark House variety (actually, it's pretty much The Cat and the Canary despite the pretence of being based on Poe's story) . Basil Rathbone and (especially) Bela Lugosi are underused. Broderick Crawford is the hero, taking what I suppose you'd have to describe as the Bob Hope role. Well, there was a war on.

One thing in the films favour is the design. It's more sumptuous and Gothic, better at engaging the eye on a purely visual level, the the "proper" Universal horrors of the period. The print and/or restoration was also excellent. I have a R2 DVD but I gather the film is also on the series of multi-disc Universal films that Scream Factory are putting out in the US.

A Thin Ghost and others. Robert Lloyd Parry has been performing M. R. James stories, dressed as James, in suitably atmospheric locations, by the light of one candle, for several years now. I saw four of his shows, over four nights, at the Leper Chapel in Cambridge in 2013. That's him on the Mark Gatiss Documentary about James from a few years back. This DVD contains a performance of The "Residence at Whitminster" filmed at Hemmingford Grey Manor, and as a supplement the other four stories from the book in rehearsed readings "as himself". He's been unable to tour for much of this year of course, and has put a variety of material (readings of weird fiction etc.) on YouTube.

Suspiria (2018) - Luca Guadagnino's reworking or reimagining of The Dario Argento original. It's tempting to go along with the reviews I looked at after watching it: it's too long, it's not as viscerally affecting as the original (despite some nasty body-horror - body-injury, specifically) scenes. My initial thoughts were along those lines too. I think what the original has going for it is summed up in a quote I remember (but I don't recall who said it) - "it's like how you imagined an X certificate film would be like before you ever actually got to see an X certificate film" (remember under the old UK Certification "X" was an adults-only film, it wasn't specifically "X for sex"). It's headlong and lurid and relentless (even the one long outdoors, daylight scene, which I have seen criticised as a misstep, only swaps the claustrophobic atmosphere of the Dance Academy for The Parallax View-style agoraphobic paranoia). There's also the mythology of the Three Mothers, which is pretty vague but has proved to be intriguing enough to generate two sequels and this sort-of remake. At bottom there is just a primal, folkloric fear of witches.

Guadagnino isn't going for such a simple opposition. Just simply listing some of the changes in the film from the original, makes it clear that he wants to "say something" about male power, female power, actual recent European history, etc. So, The dance company (no longer a school) is relocated to Berlin, 1977. It's Hard by the Berlin Wall, and the Red Army Faction in the news, bombs are going off in the streets. The American protagonist is no longer a "blank slate" heroine but comes from a Mennonite background and has flashbacks to her mother's deathbed. The missing member of the company had been mixed up in revoultionary politics and seeing a elderly psychiatrist who lost his wife in the War. The company's signature piece, "Volk", dates from "the dark days" of the War. And so on.

It felt like a film which is more fun to mull over with a friend after the event, than to sit through - to viscerally experience - with your heart in your mouth, which was how I watched the original. Maybe I need to see Guadagnino's version again in a couple of months' time and see how it strikes me then.

Dez 14, 2020, 8:16am

I love the title. I'd love to attend re-enactments of the phantasmagoria. Screen is wonderful but there is a special magic in theatre that just isn't there on screen except for a few oddities (I was quite blown away a few nights ago by Salome's Last Dance---bit of a tangent, sorry). How much more magical (supernatural? terrifying?) must these have been when film didn't yet exist? The magic of the stage combined with terrifying new technology (not to mention the overlap with the seance). They would be the earliest ancestors of today's latest horror film, but I wonder if horror film makers have ever really re-captured that thrill (even with those old 3D glasses)?

Editado: Jan 3, 3:28pm

I saw two of my French "fantastique" haul, La Poupée sanglante from 1976 and La Main enchantée from 1974... I'll leave the touchstones going to the base texts, by Gaston Leroux and Gérard de Nerval, respectively.

"The bleeding doll" (unfortunate translation, but The bloody doll is hardly better...) is a serial of six episodes and has everything plus the kitchen sink--serial murder of girls, monsters in love, vampires, vampires who bite at a distance, ghosts, revenants, mysterious Orientals (from India), Hoffmannlike automata--actually, I'd say Leroux's greatest debt is to Hoffmann's medieval/Gothic romantic horror.

ETA: DVD preview: DVD La poupée sanglante - INA EDITIONS

I liked it, but ideally you'd want to see this when twelve years old. Making captures from INA's site unfortunately results in smudgy images so these two are from stills online:


That's the same actor, Ludwig Gaum, in both--as the lovelorn, monstrously ugly and suspected murderer Benedict Masson, and, having been executed and secretly soul-transported into the machinery of the automaton, as "Gabriel", lovely Christine's (Yolande Folliot) beloved poupée.

"The enchanted hand", otoh, is a stone-cold masterpiece of an adaptation. It helps that it's film-length and therefore not drawn out, but everything is first class--the script, the design, the acting and costumes... The story relies on another well-known legend, that of the murderous detached hand of a criminal (a precursor to Orlac!)

ETA: DVD preview: DVD La main enchantée - INA EDITIONS

Here it all starts with a young husband's jealousy of his wife's much too adult and sexy soldier nephew. Facing a duel with this formidable opponent, the husband goes to a magician for help. His hand is enchanted to render him invincible, but the charm goes above and beyond need. He ends up killing the nephew, and being controlled by the hand which is ever more murderous. He's caught and hanged but the hand is still alive on the corpse! Finally a soldier severs it, thus creating the "hand of glory" of legend and criminals' heart's desire.

The boisterous nephew ruining the groom's wedding day:


(How much I love that little leather gilet... a lot)

Editado: Jan 5, 7:59am

Rest in peace, Ms Shelley ...

... caught the coronavirus after going into hospital for a check-up ...
That's a tragedy at any age.

Jan 7, 7:39pm

>4 alaudacorax:

Yes, that's awful.

Jan 11, 8:05pm

The 1001 Nights has a relationship to the Gothic, as an early sign of a shift away from the strict rationalism of the Enlightenment, as as inspiration for Vathek, if for nothing else.

This version is a 1981 BBC TV movie, or "Play for Television" as it was more likely described, on a Dutch DVD (hence the subtitles). The script, based on Burtons version, is by Victor Pemberton, whose 1968 Doctor Who story I'd just watched on DVD (entirely recreated as animation, the original tapes and telecines having been junked). I'd idly looked on IMDb to see what else he's done, and found this curio.

Is it successful? No, I don't think so, not entirely but I think trying to dramatise the Nights is a doomed enterprise from the start. This version started off in fine form - shot on film, and a good old BBC quarry standing in for the Arabian Desert. Then to interior studio-shot palace scenes on videotape, for the frame narrative with Shahriar, Shahrazad (as IMDb spells the names for this production), telling a story every night (actually ending on a cliffhanger at every dawn - but you know all this).

The problem for me...apart from the (I believe) intractable one of turning a framing device and dozens of separate stories into a satisfying 2-hour the decision to stylise the stories. The intention is for them to look like Persian miniatures come to life, but the extensive blue screen, actors combined electronically with intentionally 2-D sets, paintings and models just looks cheap. Worse, it looks like something for children's (or worse, school's) television on a shoestring budget, and alienates the viewer (this one, at any rate) from the story. When the stories Shahrazad tells are supposed to be so all-engrossing that they stop Shahriar cutting her head off.

Obviously only a small number of stories can be told in the time permitted. It's five i think, with one being little more than a comedy sketch, and Aladdin getting the lion's share of screen time (after the frame story). To suggest the great number of stories being told, and the nights passing, there's that most '80s of devices, the montage sequence!

When the play comes to its end, and had to return to the frame story and Shahriar's...rehabilitation? or cure?...there's a definite sense of aiming for the ambience of Shakespeare's late Romances. Indeed, the producer, Cedric Messina, had been producer for the BBC Shakespeare just before this was broadcast.

The cast is, like the BBC Shakespeares, full of theatrical big names and familiar TV face of the time. Frank Finlay is a ferocious Shahriar (and plays it absolutely straight). That is indeed Stratford Johns as the Genie.

Editado: Jan 12, 6:10am

>6 housefulofpaper:

Sad to read it's not up to much. I remember Messina fondly as being responsible for my favourites in the BBC Shakespeare series—not a widely-held opinion, I know.

ETA - Hah! Just been looking at the Wikipedia page for the Shakespeares and I've realised the above is not saying a lot: there are actually only two of the series that I ever return to—and I own DVDs of quite a number of them.

Jan 12, 7:43pm

>7 alaudacorax:

Well, as to whether the Nights is viable material for any drama (as opposed to being a source for stories), is down to personal opinion. This is by no means the only screen version (of course). It occurred to me that the same sort of criticism could be levelled at Don Quixote (what made me think of that particular work? I think it was the mention of Shakespeare's Late Romances, to the lost Cardenio, to Shakespeare apparently having access to Cervantes' novel and -maybe - not recognising it as a game changer and work of genius, but quarrying it for something "useful" - Cardenio (unless my wits have failed me, writing the wrong side of Midnight again) being based on one of the old-fashioned standalone narratives worked into Don Quixote.

Although I just realised I'm aligning myself with my imagined Shakespeare here, because I started off with the observation that I don't think the Nights as a whole can be turned into a drama, but it can be a source for them - like Shakespeare putting Cardenio on stage but declining to adapt the story of Don Quixote!

Leaving my unconscious' arrogance to one side, it really strikes me as strange that Messina and (director) Michael Hayes went for the artificially of the stories-as-miniatures.

Although they weren't alone: BBC Drama seem to have had a thing for electronic effects in the early '80s - witness The Cleopatras - without realising that it would make their work look, as I said yesterday, like the output of the BBC Children's TV and Drama, and Schools and Colleges, departments over the previous 10 years.

I've got all the BBC Shakespeares on DVD, courtesy of a deep discount in an HMV sale, but I don't suppose I've watched even a quarter of them yet.

Jan 13, 4:30am

>8 housefulofpaper: - ... but I don't suppose I've watched even a quarter of them yet.

I don't think you've missed a lot. Most of them have better performances available on disc.

Bit of a tangent: Do you remember me linking 'Overly Sarcastic's entertaining YouTube video on Lovecraft? Well she* has an equally entertaining one on Don Quixote -

* 'She' is Red—the male half, Blue, has equally entertaining and quite informative history videos.

Jan 16, 8:46pm

> 9
Hmm. Mixed feelings about that. It might have been a deep discount, but it wasn't a negligible amount. Perhaps that an "ooff", not a "hmm".

I'll follow that link to the Don Quixote video in a moment, but I wanted to show some screenshots from one of my Christmas presents (apologies for the image quality - not only am I pointing my cameraphone at my TV screen to get them - and you can see I can't hold the phone straight-on to save my life! - there's some burned-in blobs on the screen. They're not on the original image).

This is from disc one of Short Sharp Shocks from the British Film Institute. A collection of the short supporting features that were shown alongside feature films up until the early or mid-80s (although showing a music video from The Police alongside David Lynch's Dune suggests it was game over by 1984).

It starts off with the two surviving films of Algernon Blackwood reading his own stories. This is actually an instance of cinema trying to claw back audiences from the TV, as Blackwood was an early star of British TV, reading his stories as he is here (an aside - when he passed away, John Laurie took over the role of "television's ghost story man". I'm sure the bits in Dad's Army where his character tells as spooky story (to be undermined for comic effect at the end) is referencing this episode of his career, two decades later.

"Lock Your Door" (1949)

"The Reformation of St Jules" (1949)

This is a short film, only surviving on a 16mm print, with Stanley Baker as Edgar Allan Poe. Essentially he reads/performs the story, but as Poe - composing the story, telling it and "becoming" the protagonist, all in an expressionistic-looking garret set.

"The Tell-Tale Heart" (1953)

These short films were often made by small outfits, or directors/producers just starting out. Or sometimes just colourful or eccentric figures. The next two films are from (to quote the accompanying booklet) "Theodore Zichy, Hungarian count, Bugatti racer, pilot and playboy"

"Death Was a Passenger" (1958)

A commuter (Terence Alexander) has a chance meeting on a train which takes him back to his wartime experience, as an RAF pilot trying to make his way out of Wartime France. This is the scene where his ", merci" to the offer of something to eat lets everyone in his train carriage know that he is British.

"Portrait of a Matador" (1958)

Probably the weakest story on the disc. The acting is pretty stiff in this one and the story (although closer to the concerns of this group than the previous one) is an unconvincing "explained supernatural". I'd mention the "of its time" representation of hot-blooded Spaniards as a fault, but quite frankly the filmmakers spoof themselves worse as caricature straightlaced and repressed Englishmen. The portrait itself, which drives the proud and jealous (of course he is) Matador over the edge, is surprisingly effective (and in the context of the story, convincing)- perhaps because it wasn't in a style I'd expect from 1958.

Editado: Jan 17, 7:59am

>10 housefulofpaper:

Fascinating post!

I have absolutely no memory of those short supports, though I remember I went to the 'pictures' once a week or so through, roughly, second half of the sixties and first half of the seventies. I vaguely remember the average evening being one B-movie, a bunch of Pearl & Dean adverts and then the feature film; but perhaps I'm thinking of my childhood. I'm tempted on several fronts, not least because there's something quaintly '50s-British' and nostalgic about the whole idea; but I'd particularly like to see the Algernon Blackwoods and the Stanley Baker one. Gone to the top of my cinemaparadiso list.

... "television's ghost story man" ...
Really sad to read on Wikipedia that this series, Tales of Mystery, has been entirely lost. I have no memory of seeing it and I would love to see Laurie reading horror stories straight.

Blackwood's face—even when he was a lot younger than that—is an absolute gift to the pencil artist. The same goes for Hugh Laurie, of course. Sadly, Blackwood looks close to the end, there.

I've been vaguely aware of Dune, though never particularly interested; but I don't think it's ever really registered with me that it was a David Lynch film until you mentioned. So that's gone on the list next to Short Sharp Shocks (it's a real struggle to not put a comma in there).

Was there ever a British film made in the fifties and sixties that did not have Terence Alexander?

The one saving grace to the BBC Shakespeares is that most of them used the complete text (I don't think every single one, but I'm not sure about that; though I remember it was the original intention). I don't know how often that happens elsewhere, but in my personal watching it's been rare. So they have that academic interest. I don't know how much of a saving grace it is if the production is so lacklustre you can't keep your concentration through the full play ...
Annoyingly, the series doesn't have its own IMDb page. I was curious to compare the ratings of the individual plays. Probably a week's work without a dedicated IMDb page.

Editado: Jan 17, 9:02am

>11 alaudacorax:

Goddammit!!! I quite recently wrote, around here somewhere, about completely forgetting about books I'm reading on my Kindle. Just realised I've done it again with my 'complete' Algernon Blackwood. If I ever get round to putting in new bookcases I'm going to start collecting his collections. You'll know what I mean by that if you look at a Blackwood bibliography—man was so prolific I suspect he scares the crap out of anyone who looks into publishing a complete 'collected' ...

Jan 17, 3:17pm

Among interesting horror novelties coming up on Eureka, this caught my eye (sadly no use my getting it):

"Bursting with startling imagery and stunning practical effects courtesy of directors Konstantin Yershov, Georgi Kropachyov, and perhaps most notably, artistic director Aleksandr Ptushko (the legendary special effects artist whose spectacular stop-motion effects and innovative colour cinematography has seen him referred to as the Soviet equivalent of Willis O’Brien, Ray Harryhausen, and even Mario Bava), VIY has influenced generations of directors for more than half a century. The Masters of Cinema series is proud to present VIY in its UK debut on Blu-ray from a HD restoration of the original film elements. The Limited-Edition release (3000 copies only) will feature a Bonus Disc containing A Holy Place (1990, dir. Djordje Kadijevic) and an exclusive O-Card Slipcase, and will be available from 22 March 2021."

Those Russian silent film fragments in the extras are especially intriguing...

Editado: Jan 17, 3:51pm

A passing touch of paranoia, probably.

Jan 17, 8:37pm

>13 LolaWalser:

I'd seen some pre-publicity for this release but at the time my mind and finances were focused on Christmas presents for other people - well, mostly other people :)

This was a timely reminder, and I've got my order in now.

Jan 17, 9:00pm

>12 alaudacorax:

My limited and unscientific experience of collecting Blackwood is that there's an awful lot of overlap in the short story collections. Collecting first editions would no doubt be a costly business (although in fairness, beaten-up copies of minor works seem to begin at quite reasonable prices on AbeBooks).

It seems that the major current publisher of Blackwood, and they only have a handful of titles in their catalogue, is a print-on-demand company called House of Stratus.

Editado: Jan 17, 9:16pm

>10 housefulofpaper:
There is a disc 2 to Short Sharp Shocks - four short films from between 1969 and 1980. The other side of the swinging 60s and a very different world from the first disc (or worlds, 1980 being very different from '69, of course).

It was more difficult to get screenshots for these but I'll try to put up some pictures and short descriptions, without spoilers.

>11 alaudacorax:
As late as 1983, the Monty Python team arranged it so that The Crimson Permanent Assurance was The Meaning of Life's supporting feature (but really the two films are an integrated whole). Star Wars fans remembered the supporting feature that went out with The Empire Strikes Back and when it was found (it is the fate of these films to be at the mercy of producers, distributors, etc and many are lost) it was shown at festivals, Star Wars conventions and is now on YouTube:

Jan 19, 7:06pm

Here are the films on disc 2 of Short Sharp Shocks

"Twenty-Nine" (1969)

The main mover behind this one is Peter Shillingford, who had made a lot of money shooting adverts over the previous half-decade. As he tells it in the accompanying booklet, the film was made to utilise profits that would otherwise have gone to the Exchequer.

It's (intentionally) disorientating in a characteristically late-60's way, although the autobiographical central character may be self indulgent (something that could be argued for a few more late '60s films where the passage of time has revealed the film makers themselves maybe more skewered than the targets they were going after). Not gothic or horrific but related by way of the unease created by the mystery of the opening, which could have taken a fantasy or a Noir-ish direction.

"The Sex Victims" (1973)

I'm not sure who the victims are here. Are the brutish lorry driver an his made being lured to their destruction, if they are is it deserved or not, or is this revenge from beyond the grave? It's confused, maybe because the makers didn't care about the story so much as the opportunities for nudity and having a woman chased through woodland and what looks like a deserted barracks (I guess it's actually stables, given the importance of horse riding to the plot).

"The Lake" (1978)

A simple story. A man a woman, and their dog. And a presence. In the woods (or is that just the prowling camera) or in the lake...

"The Errand" (1980)

As characteristic of the early 80s as "Twenty-Nine" was a glimpse of the very end of the 60s.

It's a fable or a conte cruel following a lone soldier in a near-future militarised England, sent on a secret mission. Or is something else going on?

Editado: Jan 30, 5:51pm

Okay, it is NOT me getting increasingly impatient in my old age. They just don't know how to make films like they use used to!

And I'm becoming increasingly disillusioned with Rotten Tomatoes. Twenty-five minutes into Color Out of Space and I'm giving up, quite baffled as to how the RT critics have it at 86%. It didn't help that I needed subtitles to get through Cage's mumbling ...

'Setting the scene' doesn't mean what you think it does, modern-day directors. First five or ten minutes you're supposed to grab the viewers' attention by the scruff and drag it along with you thereafter. Go and have a look at any well-known film not made in the last forty years or so, then go away and make wedding videos or something ...

Jan 30, 3:08pm

>19 alaudacorax:

So, I went back sixty years. I've just watched The Snake Woman.

Okay, so this wasn't a great film—two or three wooden and hammy performances and the rest merely adequate at best, a leading man with very little screen presence, and the story fairly rough and ready. But what it did do was to grab my attention from the start and hold it all the way through—a proper, fun, old-fashioned, horror film. And that was because whoever made it knew how to properly put a film together.

So now I can have dinner in a far better frame of mind than would Cage and co. have left me.

Jan 30, 3:20pm

>20 alaudacorax:

Don't know there's a point to me voicing any opinions :), but for the nothing it's worth, I liked that one, thought it had great atmosphere and an effective and oddly touching monster. IIRC I read somewhere a lot of non-actorly people were involved, the villagers I presume. They give it an air of authenticity.

I subjected myself to Konga (1961), a very poor knockoff of King Kong even as such things go... It does have a vivid palette and Michael Gough as the scientific baddie:

Also saw the 1976 slasher Alice sweet Alice. More plot holes than a Swiss cheese but, well, not sure that would matter to the fans of the genre.

Curiosity--the very first victim is little Brooke Shields (and on the day of her first Communion, heavens).

Jan 30, 6:33pm

>21 LolaWalser:

Oddly enough, I remember seeing Konga in the cinema and I don't think I've seen it since. Can't really remember much about it, except that the ending made me rather sad; perhaps that's what's made it stick in my mind for so long. I couldn't have been much over eleven (they used to let us in to see any rating at my local flicks, as long as they got your money).

Jan 30, 7:05pm

Sorry for getting in 'grumpy old man' mode in >19 alaudacorax:.

Though I genuinely do believe that Rotten Tomatoes is going awry, somewhere. Not so many years ago I was finding its Critics Consensus a pretty reliable guide to what I would like. These days it's just not.

Jan 30, 7:51pm

>22 alaudacorax:

Your memory makes great sense. After they kill him, Konga shrinks down to the little chimp snatched from the jungle. The scenes were they inject him with the plant(!) hormones are also very distressing.

Jan 31, 12:15am

>24 LolaWalser:

Yes! That first image of you cite is exactly what I'm remembering. I must hunt it up, sometime, just for a nostalgia trip ...

Fev 2, 8:17pm

>26 housefulofpaper:
I've entered an off-air recording of Konga on my other account. I'm pretty sure it was off Talking Pictures TV (if not, it would have been the Horror Channel, surely). So it may come around again. The British version of Godzilla, Gorgo, was of the same vintage but made by entirely different people. Nevertheless Steve Ditko (credited as the artist, but really the creator of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange for Marvel Comics in the early '60s) produced comic book versions of both monsters for Charlton Comics (it's wonderful what the internet can find for you if you just commit to hours of aimless scrolling and browsing - oh yes, that's the other reason I'm not getting through all my book reading and DVD viewing...)

Fev 2, 8:25pm

Last Gothic film watched was the Vincent Price/Roger Corman (cinematography by Nicholas Roeg) The Masque of the Red Death. The digitally remastered version has come out in the UK (from a different company to all the other Corman/Price Poe movies, so if they were shelved together it would stick out like a sore thumb).

The edits/censor cuts made for the US released and the different cuts made for the UK, have all been reinstated. It's only a matter of seconds in all, I think, but even so it gives it a just a bit more "bite" - it's that bit less likely that the Horror Channel would schedule this version for a Sunday afternoon.

Colours are vibrant, it really does look very good. Extras are an informative commentary, a piece about the restoration, Roger Corman's talk for the BFI's Gothic season in 2013, a DVD booklet and some postcards - sorry, "art cards".

Editado: Fev 3, 4:10pm

>27 housefulofpaper:

That's the StudioCanal Vintage Classics blu-ray, yes? I don't have a copy of that, so I think it must be earmarked for my next spending spree.

It's odd how things often seem to cluster together. I hadn't realised Nicolas Roeg was involved. I like a lot of his stuff, though, and only last night I found myself watching a YouTube video of Jenny Agutter talking about filming Walkabout. That, in turn, reminded me that I still haven't seen Don't Look Now; checked my CinemaParadiso list, found it at 135th or something, and moved it to the top. And that in its turn had me wondering if I still haven't read the story, either. Can't remember doing so. I've got it, so I really should have by now. Perhaps I just couldn't make up my mind which to do first ...

Anyway, I've read the Poe many times and I think I've seen the film at least twice. I'm not sure if I'm remembering the film as that good or if some lustre of the story has rubbed off on it, but I definitely want that blu-ray.

Fev 3, 4:32pm

>26 housefulofpaper:

I think I've watched Gorgo a couple of times in the past and enjoyed it. It came in the 'switch-your-brain-off, cheesy goodness' category, if that makes any sense. I saw the first quarter of an hour or so a couple of days ago and—and this is something I've felt previously, but just couldn't get around this time—felt there was something a little off at seeing Bill Travers as a bit of a seedy character. He just seemed intended by nature to be the heroic good guy—Charlton Heston sort of thing. Either miscasting or poor script-writing, I suppose (and, I suppose, a poor reflection on his acting abilities). I seem to remember the character came good in the end, but the film just wasn't working for me this time round.

Fev 3, 5:27pm

>28 alaudacorax:
StudioCanal, that's right. All the others have been issued by Arrow Films.

>29 alaudacorax:
I haven't managed to see Gorgo yet, and I've managed to miss most of Bill Travers' screen career too. I have seen quite a few Herman Cohen films (the producer of Konga). They're a bit too... impolite? Sleazy, even, to be described as "cheesy goodness".

There's a short film I haven't seen yet but I intend to soon - it's on youTube. Picking up the thread of supporting features in UK cinema, an adaptation of Saki's "Shredni Vashtar" went out as support for Omen III: The Final Conflict in 1981.

Fev 3, 5:53pm

>30 housefulofpaper:

I had lots of aunts, years ago, and there wasn't a bad 'un among them, so I have no idea why 'Sredni Vashtar' should be one of my all-time favourite short stories, but it is.

I've seen a screen version but I don't think it's that one, the Conradin I remember looked younger. Tales of the Unexpected TV series, perhaps? I'll put that one in my 'Watch later'.

Fev 3, 8:05pm

Coincidentally, I posted about a Roeg film just recently, Bad timing. Looks great but I think is seriously marred by the casting of Art Garfunkel (wish he and Keitel had exchanged roles...) Walkabout is a fave although I'm not happy about the Aboriginal boy's fate in it.

Continuing the creature feature theme, I am currently putting together the original Toho Godzilla movies for a Godzilla Moviezilla extravaganza. The library has all but two... (I have the first one myself).

Hmm, Gorgo--no, does not ring a bell. *note*

Fev 3, 11:22pm

>32 LolaWalser:

I saw the original Godzilla recently (bought the DVD, in fact) for the first time since my childhood. Can't remember if I wrote about it here. It was surprisingly moving and not really the schlock-horror I'd imagined.

Fev 4, 6:02pm

>33 alaudacorax:

Very much my own reaction, I was quite surprised because I had very wrong preconceptions about it. In fact it seems to have been seminal in introducing a certain point of view as well as making the threat of nuclear destruction a popular theme in Japanese media.

Fev 14, 7:14pm

I recorded Tale of a Vampire (1992) off-air sometime in 2007 but only got around to watching it from beginning to end this week.

This film gets a bit of a pasting from Jonathan Rigby in English Gothic but has passionate supporters online. It uses Poe's poem "Annabelle Lee" as an armature but it's really a sympathetic vampire courts reincarnated lost love story. But it's so focused on (it seems) trying to be the ultimate collection of Gothic Romantic Vampire set pieces and over-stylised '80s-style filmmaking (albeit, I think, shot on video) that the storytelling is listless. When I've looked at bits of this over the years it never seems to quite be a real film. Sad to say, after finally watching it all, that's still the impression I was left with. But as I say, it has its fans.

(I hadn't edited the commercial breaks out of this recording. The DVD release of The Mist from Woolworths. Gender-discriminatory car insurance (Sheila's Wheels) - since banned by the EU. An ad for AOL!. 2007 suddenly seems a long time ago).

The next film I watched was another one that could be described as listless but, don't ask me how, this slow and even more opaque film does work better as a piece of cinema than Tale of a Vampire. It's Jess Franco's A Virgin Among the Living Dead. Now, this has gone under many titles and has been released in versions including scenes shot by other directors years later - even the French dub to the version I own must post-date the film since it refers to "the late General (Franco)". This version doesn't include the extra scenes (even though the box art depicts one of them!) but the summary in Stephen Thrower's book Murderous Passions evidently has a couple more scenes, some explanatory dialogue that would have been useful, and some reordering of scenes that are present.

I doubt I've seen even 1% of Franco's output but I've seen enough to recognise common themes, characters or character types, as if (this is not an original observation) Franco's dreaming these films onto the celluloid. In this one, a young woman travels alone a remote location evidently somewhere in the Iberian peninsula (the film was shot in Portugal) - summoned home from a London boarding school because the father she's never met has died. This leaves her an orphan. Her stepmother passes away within minutes of her arrival. The other members of her family are odd (because they are undead) and the girl is in peril from a vague but pervasive vampiric, witchy Otherworld. I have had this DVD for ages, and hadn't watched it until now. I'm glad I waited until I could have a sense of what you're getting when you watch a Jess Franco film - by watching some others (including Count Dracula with Christopher Lee, and the more explicit films he started making with Lina Romay soon after this one (the thematic links can be picked out running through all these films, I think); by reading about Franco; and by comparing and contrasting with Jean Rollin.

Fev 27, 8:19pm

>27 housefulofpaper:

I saw this for the first time only recently... Movie looks gorgeous. Excellent production. The voice of the Red Death nagged at me throughout--SO much like Christopher Lee's, and yet wasn't him. Wouldn't THAT have been something! Wished Nigel Green had more to do, but Magee and Skip Martin (the dwarf) were used well.

>35 housefulofpaper:

Another recent surprise (because I don't pay enough attention to directors): turns out Franco made several late German Krimis belonging to that universe of Edward Wallace-based movies--he used the pseud Jess Frank for those. A global director for global people... :)

Fev 27, 9:14pm

>36 LolaWalser:

It was an actor named John Westbrook. He didn't get an on-screen credit even though that was apparently him in the red "death" costume, he wasn't simply dubbing his lines in post production. Curiously enough, he did a lot of dubbing of other actors. I looked at his IMDb entry - I was curious to know what he looked like - but he hasn't done much genre work (he was a stage actor, and a radio actor more than a screen actor I think, - its what I infer from IMDb) so I don't have much of his work on DVD or Blu-ray. He was in an episode of Blake's 7 many years after this film.

If it had been Christopher Lee, it would have been a nice contrast with Dracula, Prince of Darkness the next year, in which he's seen but has no lines!

Fev 27, 11:10pm

>37 housefulofpaper:

Yes, I went looking for his identity, even IMDB didn't list him, but Wiki does. Shame that such a superb performance wasn't credited. Dare I say, I don't think Lee used his voice nearly that well, that subtly. It's just that he's distinctive and, well, famous.

I stumbled across another channel with archival Brit TV and am bingeing on something called "Undermind", 1965--a parade of lesser and better known faces, Rosemary Nicols, Michael Gough, Judy Parfitt, Dennis Quilley, Patrick Allen... and that's first 3 eps only... must see everything before it too gets axed!

Fev 28, 12:24pm

>38 LolaWalser:

A channel with hundreds of hours of British TV I thought I'd never see again, vanished one afternoon a coulple of weeks ago. There wasn't so much genre material there but suddenly having children' TV of my own childhood, together with complete runs of Not the Nine O'Clock News and The Innes Book of Records, and early Victoria Wood, was quite a blow.

If this stuff was available on BritBox, I'd sign up like a shot.

I haven't seen Undermind yet and only became aware of it relatively recently. I sort of assume I'll know of all the UK and US small screen science fiction prior to 1980, because there was so little of it that it was all captured in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (in fact the entries run "under the sea", a thematic essay, to Unearthly Stranger (1963), which I think has turned up on Talking Pictures TV in recent months.

Talking of familiar faces in old TV shows, an episode of The Adventures of Sir Lancelot from 1957 (starring a pre-Doctor Who William Russell, and - indicating what a big deal this was - shot on colour film) was on Talking Pictures TV yesterday. Ronald Leigh-Hunt as King Arthur, and a young Robert Hardy as "Sir Rupert" (I think he's the show's equivalent of Sir Mordred) and Edward Judd in a small role as a "jobsworth" sentry. Illustrating the idea that historical dramas reflect the times they are made in, the actor playing Sir Kay wore a RAF Flying Officer's handlebar moustache.

Mar 4, 8:53pm

Recent viewing has been anthology or portmanteau films - and television - and a documentary about anthology films, etc.

Firstly, I completed season two of Night Gallery and was really quite impressed. I had seen quite a lot of negative stuff about it before having the opportunity to watch it - basically that it was inferior to The Twilight Zone. The DVD extras go into the story to a degree. It became producer Jack Laird's baby and Rod Serling apparently felt frozen out, as far as making creative decisions went. Laird had a love of the pulps, evidently, and the often groan-worthy humour found in Famous Monsters of Filmland.

It seems to me that he practically treated each 60-minute Night Gallery episode as if it was an issue of Weird Tales - a mixture of stories of different length, some no more than short comedy sketches, Serling as host tying it all together. Accept that you are not always going to get the moral seriousness of a Rod Serling story every week (and in truth, sometimes they are too preachy and/or sentimental for my liking, plus you can tell he dictates his stories at this point - all too often everybody in a Rod Serling teleplay talks just like Rod Serling) and enjoy adaptations of some fine (often Weird Tales) authors, the directorial flair of early '70s US television (with the Film School brats such Steven Speilberg getting their first big breaks, and being a little bit avant garde) and a roster of actors that matches '60s and '70s UK television for its "pointing at the screen and going "look-who-it-is!" ness".

Another reason why it's remembered poorly may well be what happened to it after its initial run. Put into syndication, each individual story that made up an hour-long "issue" was cut or extended to fit a standard 25-minute slot. Cue long stories cut to disjointed highlights, and short snappy ones extended to tedium (with spare footage from Universal's vaults!). Oh, and an entirely separate show, about parapsychology investigators, went out under the Night Gallery banner.

The documentary is on a new region free (thankfully) Blu-ray from Severin films. titled Tales of the Uncanny it is all about the anthology film, from the German silents right up to the present (TV series that present one story per episode e.g. Tales From the Darkside, Black Mirror, Inside No. 9, are not strictly anthologies in the sense that stories don't follow on one after another without a break, but have sneaked in anyway). It was made last year so Covid-19 dictated the interviewees are all filmed on their computers and phones, so in that regard it's accidentally very much an artefact of the times (the filmmakers have tried to spin this as a plus - they have interviewed far more people than their budget would have stretched to using a film crew.

There are extras on the disc - two complete films! First, Eerie Tales from 1919 starring Conrad Veidt and Anita Berber. I recently got hold of this on DVD, but this version has English subtitles. in the frame story "The Devil", "The Whore" (don't blame me, that's what Google Translate says Die Dirne means) and "Death" step out of their picture frames in a second-hand book shop, terrorise the owner a bit, then sit down to read eerie tales from the shop's stock, including adaptations of Poe and RL Stevenson. Viedt, Berber, and Reinhold Schünzel take the leads in all the stories.

Next, a French/Belgian anthology from 1949 called Unusual Tales (Histoires extraordinaires à faire peur ou à faire rire...). There are four adaptations and a frame story. Everything is set in Second Empire France.

I gather this might allow some swipes at the recent Occupation? I confess to being shamefully clueless about 19th century French history the Napoleonic Wars, and had to go to Wikipedia to check the period the films set in, where it says "Historians in the 1930s and 1940s often disparaged the Second Empire as a precursor of fascism". Be that as it may, the frame story has Parisian policeman telling stories to educate or put the wind up a new recruit. The first one is a sort of proto-slasher movie spun out of De Quincey's essay "On Murder Considered as one of the Fine Arts". The remaining three stories adapt Poe - "The Tell-Tale Heart, "The Cask of Amontillado" (filmed in the actual Paris catacombs, maybe?), and "'Thou Art the Man'" (the online resources that say there are two De Quincey and only two Poe adaptations evidently aren't familiar with 'Thou Art the Man'!). I thought this was really quite impressive, very well-shot and atmospheric.

Because I ordered early there's a bonus disc in my copy of the documentary, with a third film. not as good as the others, to be honest but interesting. Yet another Poe adaptation, Titled Master of Horror (1965) it's actually a cut-down and dubbed version of a Spanish/Argentinian Poe anthology from 1960. The original had three stories, the US version only has "The Case of M. Valdemar" and "The Cask of Amontillado". They both seem overlong to be honest, at least in their dubbed versions. The screenplay is by Narciso Ibáñez Serrador who made two well-regarded horror films in Spain in the 1970s and also worked in TV, where he created the game show Un, dos, tres... responda otra vez - which the UK had as 3-2-1 for nearly a decade from 1978 onwards. Ted Rogers and Dusty Bin, incomprehensible clues, the format tweaked every year (there are quite a few episodes up on YouTube. The earliest ones are the most unhinged.).

I defy even C. Auguste Dupin to crack a 3-2-1 clue.

Mar 5, 3:37am

>40 housefulofpaper:

Your reference to Ted Rogers had me off on a thousand-word riff about unfunny, old-time comics with creepy, beady, watchful eyes. I deleted it lest I gave you all even more doubts about whether I'm still playing with a full deck (the younger me was right about Rolf Harris, though—creepy eyes!)

Mar 5, 1:38pm

>40 housefulofpaper:

No, the translation is correct. That's some very generous bonuses for a single docu!

Mar 5, 7:35pm

>41 alaudacorax:
I remember now, that the New Musical Express did an interview with Rolf Harris back in the '80s (long before everything came out and he was still firmly in the "adopted national treasure" camp) and began it with a reference to the unexpectedly psychotic gleam in his eyes when he wasn't wearing his glasses. I took it to be no more than an example of the "edgy" house style at the time.

>42 LolaWalser:
Thanks for confirming that the translation isn't wrong, or too blunt. And yes, as you say the special features are very generous - films you might go some way, or spend quite a lot, to acquire.

Editado: Mar 9, 7:06pm

I've just been idly channel-hopping and I came across the second half of an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer—can't remember if I was aware it was on telly again.

My memory of it is as quite good—much better than a lot of people were willing to allow for fantasy/horror programmes; but I was still a little surprised at how good an and powerful it was. No wonder it keeps turning up in literary studies books and journals.

Just looked it up. I was watching Part 2 of 'Becoming'.

Mar 9, 8:17pm

>44 alaudacorax: Buffy is excellent. I've been rewatching sporadic episodes on Hulu.

Mar 10, 8:10pm

Yes, I noticed Buffy is back on a (UK) satellite/cable channel but I missed the opportunity to watch from the beginning. I've caught quite a few episodes over the years, of course. I have seen some severe online dissatisfaction with the remastering done for the most recent Blu-Ray releases. Maybe I will look for old DVD box sets in charity shops, once life is more or less back to normal, and get into it then.

Talking of remastered Blu-Rays, the box set for season 8 of Doctor Who arrived this week. This is the first season 8, i.e. Jon Pertwee's second season, broadcast back in 1971.

This is the first season that I have solid memories of - not complete stories (I wasn't even four years old) but definite scenes that had been lingering at the very edge of memory, and gave me a definite frisson when I saw them again in the 1980s (a brief membership of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society gave me viewing access to some tortured nth generation videotapes of old shows well in advance of their eventual commercial release).

I couldn't stay away from the last story of the season, the folk horror classic The Daemons.

This is the time in the show's history when the Doctor is exiled to Earth (there are a few nods to it being set slightly in the future) and working with UNIT (the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce - in the years before the UN had copyright lawyers, it seems!), essentially part of the British Army (they've since turned up in "new Who", of course) charged with protecting Earth against alien menaces. This is also the year that introduces the Doctor's nemesis or Professor Moriarty, the bad Time Lord calling himself the Master. He is behind all the alien invasions etc. in this season's stories. Subsequently he was used more sparingly.

That's the set up (it stems from a decision taken by a previous production team to make it more of an ensemble show, to take some of the burden off the regulars).

In this one, an ancient barrow (an iron(?) age man-made hill) named the Devil's Hump is being opened live on television. It's situated near the village of Devil's End where strange things have been happening, even an unexplained death in the churchyard. The local white witch is warning against opening the barrow, especially on this date (it's Beltane!). The Doctor is Initially dismissive of his assistant Jo's New Age-y concerns. However he quickly starts putting two and two together and rushes off with Jo to stop the dig, getting there just in time to get caught in the end of episode cliffhanger (naturally).

The Master is impersonating the local vicar and secretly heads a coven of devil worshippers. His plan is to literally raise the Devil - well not quite...the Devil is a powerful alien - a Daemon - from a race that looks like the traditional horned Devil and has guided human development (and whose appearance has influenced human beliefs and superstitions along the way). The Master is using the trappings of Satanism to generate "psionic energy" to raise the Daemon, whose power he wants for himself.

Stepping back from it, you can see that Nigel Kneale's Quatermass and the Pit informs much of the story (Kneale was apparently always furious at how much, and how often, Doctor Who quarried his work for themes, story structures, plots, even the ethos of the UNIT stories (especially in season 7)). And also Arthur C Clarke's Childhood's End. The denouement has more of a flavour of Star Trek, in that the Daemon is one of those God-like beings that the show regularly features, but in the end behaves more like that other Star Trek cliche, the super-computer that cannot cope with a logical paradox and has a literal meltdown. (Curiously, the short-lived Star Trek cartoon of a couple of years later also had a story with a Devil or Satyr super-powered alien).

Noting the story's borrowings isn't meant to belittle it. There's so much that's good here: Roger Delgado's silkily evil Master. How the story touches on populism and Fascism as the Master uses these - in just a couple of scenes - to whip up more "psionic energy" from the villagers. Bok the gargoyle. Miss Hawthorn the white witch teaming up with and flirting with Sergeant Benton. Katy Manning's Jo Grant as the moral heart of the story. The menacing Morris Men. The money available for chase scenes with cars, motorbikes, and a helicopter. Spotting lantern-jawed actor John Owens (one of those actors who used to pop up in everything but you never knew his name) as one of the villagers, knowing Matthew Corbett (before he took over Sooty and Sweep from his father Harry) is one of the Devil worshippers...

Mar 11, 4:11am

>46 housefulofpaper:

My favourite quote from all of Doctor Who, "Sergeant! Chappie with the wings, five rounds!" Good old Lethbridge-Stuart!

Mar 11, 4:15am

>46 housefulofpaper:

Matthew Corbett: Sooty and Sweep, hmm. Now, had he been the son of whoever was responsible for Andy Pandy, then I could believe in him as a Satanist, no problem ...

Editado: Mar 18, 1:37pm

YouTube hath given! Pete Walker's House of Mortal Sin with the glorious Sheila Keith. Very enjoyable, assuming one is the sort of unspeakable wretch to enjoy watching a deranged priest (Mervyn Johns) (Anthony Sharp) on a murder spree.

Mar 18, 5:15am

>49 LolaWalser:

Just can't watch horror films at the moment; I think all the signs of approaching spring are making me overly chirpy and cheerful. I'll get over it, and I've downloaded the film in case YouTube disappears it. But ...

Are you, perhaps, confusing Mervyn Johns and Anthony Sharp?

I think I must have seen this at some point as I always think Sharp and Sheila Keith look like brother and sister and they only appeared together three times and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have watched the other two and why should I connect them if I hadn't seen them together in something? Deep breath—sort of lost control of that sentence ...

Mar 18, 5:28am

>49 LolaWalser:, >50 alaudacorax:

Ever since we discussed House of Long Shadows, I've had this kink in my brain whereby every time Sheila Keith is mentioned I just HAVE to hunt up a clip of her singing that Verdi piece. Just glorious!

Mar 18, 1:36pm

>50 alaudacorax:

Ooops, so I did, so I did...! Mille pardons... and right you are, they DO look alike! It's particularly striking here, and apt too... very much "birds of a feather flock to commit murder together" :))

Mar 27, 7:48pm

Sheila Keith turned up on television this evening. A brief role in the Dick Emery vehicle Ooh...You Are Awful (Exec-produced by Launder and Gilliat, which shows the state of the British film industry in the early '70s, I suppose).

She's also here. I think this was her last role, in the Amicus spoof episode of the Steve Coogan series Dr Terrible's House of Horrible (horrible picture quality as befits a 13-year old YouTube clip).

Mar 27, 8:01pm

lol @ "redevelopmentalisation"... it tripped off his tongue so lightly.

More Sheila Keith chez moi too--after the House of Mortal Sin, I discovered Pete Walker's The Comeback on the same channel, don't know how I missed it (half his movies are blocked to me now).

A few scenes made me jump out of my chair...

Mar 27, 9:15pm

>54 LolaWalser:

I can still see it on YouTube, but I already have it on DVD. It's got a few shocks but it's not as transgressive as his films from earlier in the 1970s. It's also a reminder that Bill Owen did a lot more than Last of the Summer Wine.

(It's a weird thing and I might be fooling myself, but this is a film that just "looks like" 1978. I knew it was released in 1978 before I'd checked. There are other films and TV that have the same aura about them - Rollins' The Grapes Death for example. A very different and a different looking film, but somehow still "1978-y".)

Talking about YouTube, Stephen Poliakoff's Hidden City is on YouTube, it seems, but "not available in your country". You might have more luck.

Editado: Mar 27, 9:31pm

I'm trying to build my savings up after buying a new boiler but, well, I have poor impulse control and the internet. Just ordered some Blu-rays:

Mar 28, 2:57am

>56 housefulofpaper:

Envious. There's only one there, Orlac, I've definitely seen (or definitely heard of, to be honest). The Last Warning looks particularly enticing ...

Editado: Mar 28, 4:32am

>53 housefulofpaper:

You've just had me wandering off on a roundabout journey ...

Dick Emery was yet another of those old times comics I wrote about recently with creepy, evil eyes belying (for me) their comic persona.

For some reason, though, Ooh... You Are Awful (doesn't seem to be a touchstone) has always stuck in my mind, and that got me thinking about Derren Nesbitt—'Sid Sabbath' in this—who always made a strong impression in his roles, but never seemed to build the successful career I expected. Granted, he was probably always going to be in supporting roles as a baddie, but still ...

So, naturally, I checked on IMDB to see what he was doing. And found that, just last year, he starred in a horror called The Haunting of Margam Castle. This is by one Andrew Jones, who has churned out twenty-seven horror films in the last nine years, all of which rate on IMDb way down around the three stars mark (oddly, before he started his horror career, he made two quite highly-rated films about homeless youngsters).

Now, Margam Castle has a significance for yours truly. It was within walking distance of my childhood home—a day's walk there and back, to be accurate—and I often wandered round the edges of the park with my dogs. Back in those days, though, they had these really tall, deer-proof stiles which were also dog-proof, so I never went in for a good explore. I did visit the grounds on occasion to go to game fairs or country shows, but again, taken up with the shows so never explored. And I've never been inside the house.

So, it's become a bit of a sore point with me that I've never properly visited Margam Castle. Every time I drive the M4 and pass it I resolve to visit soon. And the years (decades!) pass and I still never have.

So that's why I now find I really, really have to watch a horror film that only has an IMDb rating of 2.6/10 and it's all housefulofpaper's fault ...

ETA - The Haunting of Margam Castle has a handful of faces familiar from long ago horror films, so there's that nostalgia thing ...

Mar 28, 4:58am

And getting back to what I was about to post before that digression ...

>55 housefulofpaper:

Talking about Jean Rollin, I watched Lips of Blood last night.

He's such an odd film maker. The behaviour of main characters can, really, be a bit silly and unconvincing if you think about it too hard, and the dialogue doesn't seem much better—I suspect he regarded dialogue as a tiresome necessity. The plotting often doesn't make sense, and the acting can be pretty poor—when anyone is called upon to act—again, I suspect this was a minor consideration for Rollin. Yet the whole thing somehow manages to be poetic and absorbing to watch (not to mention the really quite beautiful casual nudity).

I did not come away thinking I'd watched a rubbish film, but I'm at a loss to sum it up in any meaningful way.

Mar 28, 5:00am

>58 alaudacorax: “...but I do like you.”

Dick Emery to The Haunting of Margam Castle.

>53 housefulofpaper: has a lot to answer for.

Mar 28, 5:07am

>59 alaudacorax:

And, as every other time I've watched a Jean Rollin, I forgot to check with my bird recordings. He seems to have a thing for the calls of rare night birds. Well, rare in the UK, anyway—I don't recognise them.

Mar 28, 5:16am

>59 alaudacorax:

A proper Gothic film, by the way: the ancient ruined castle, strange family secrets, possible ghost—it ticks plenty of the boxes.

Mar 28, 7:12am

>61 alaudacorax:

Oops—wrong film. I'd forgotten I tried to watch Two Orphan Vampires afterwards. One film too many and fell asleep about ten minutes in. And, on the off-chance anyone's interested, it was a Tengmalm's Owl (which hardly ever turns up in the UK; which was why I didn't know it).

And that's a whole Sunday morning, just disappeared through my fingers ...

Mar 28, 7:43am

>54 LolaWalser:

Can't get my head around the idea of Jack Jones as leading man in a horror film, somehow (or any film, really). Seems rather incongruous. I'm not sure 'very bland' isn't a contradiction in terms, but he always struck me as very bland.

The first few minutes are tense and intriguing enough that I'll watch it at some point, though.

Mar 28, 6:59pm

>64 alaudacorax:
I think I remember Jonathan Rigby having similar reservations about the casting when he wrote up the film for English Gothic.

Margam Castle (the castle) looks incredible (the film, less so).

I have just listened to the recording of a Tengmalm's Owl on Wikipedia. Scientific name Aegolius funereus. I wonder if it's that "funereus" that attracted Rollin? Funnily enough, the examples of his comic book work that I've seen online are, in contrast to his films, dense with text.

Mar 28, 10:18pm

>56 housefulofpaper:

VERY nice! Would love that Leni... (A little sad that Eureka raised their prices, I still have a fairly longish wishlist of their remaining DVD combos.)

>64 alaudacorax:

I didn't know who that was so, no preconceptions. His character doesn't matter very much in that respect, I think. Just a generic "straight arrow" lead in a horror. All interest is on the side of the villains.

Abr 2, 5:29am

>65 housefulofpaper: and others ...

Okay, I've probably mentioned this before, because it plays on my mind. And now that's just got worse:

The near-naked young women in outdoor shots in Jean Rollin films are always filmed beautifully, but I always worry a little that they might have been cold. I've just found this blog post -

I quote:
One detail about working with Jean Rollin that different actresses note in their interviews is that Jean loved to shoot during cold weather. And the real problem was that the roles often demanded that the actresses be naked or semi-naked.

I knew it! I don't know how the weather can look cold to me on screen but, somehow, those scenes never looked to me like warm summer nights. I just knew it!

So now Rollin films are going to be just as problematic for me as Naomi Watts's final scenes in whichever King Kong it was! I'm never going to be able to get the cold out of my head. Damn ...

Interesting blog, by the way, if you're into Rollin.

Abr 2, 5:32am

>67 alaudacorax:

I still haven't found out why Marie-Pierre Castel (half of Rollins' famous twins) went by the forename 'Pony', though; which was why I was reading that blog in the first place.

Abr 2, 4:58pm

>67 alaudacorax:
Losing teeth and bits of vertebrae is quite a bit worse though!

There are lots of similar stories in the extra features and interviews on various Doctor Who DVDs. The recent release of Fury From the Deep, which got the full panoply of extras, despite no longer existing (it's a digitally-cleaned up domestic recording from a 1960s TV set plus new animation) has tales of filming in the sea off Margate in February.

It does make you understand the attraction of southern California as somewhere to film.

Abr 2, 5:30pm

I watched Viy a couple of weekends ago. I think it's come up in conversation before. Soviet Russia's only horror film, getting greenlit as a literary classic. The extra features provide some background to the production, including how it was intended to be all shot on location in Ukraine but it ended up as a mixture of location and (rather obvious) studio (which gave it a curious 1940s air at odd moments, as if it were a lost Powell and Pressberger film).

The effects nearly all practical, I think. They have a feeling of stage illusion about them. They're used sparingly until the climax pf the film. It's nicely paced in that respect.

I haven't read Gogol's original story but this is apparently a faithful adaptation. The Blu-ray extras include a note that Mario Bava's Black Sunday is a loose adaptation of the same story.

As a bonus disc, this edition includes yet another version, Sveto mesto. This is a 1990 Serbian film from what was then still Yugoslavia. There are also surviving fragments of Soviet silent Gogol adaptations. I still have to watch all these.

Abr 2, 6:05pm

Also watched Nosferatu in Venice the unofficial sequel to Herzog's Nosferatu the Vampyre. I think I rented it on VHS many years ago and gave up on it as a poor rip-off of the original.

Watching on blu-ray and not murky tape some of the shots of Venice are beautiful. I can appreciate this is different version of the vampire - more Byronic predator than tragic shut-in (to put it crudely) - even if Kinski's vanity is driving it (apparently the producers shot a lot of footage during the Carnival, with a double for Kinski before he joined the shoot. The double was bald, Vampyre style. Kinski arrived and refused to wear the teeth and bald wig. All the footage went to waste.)

I tried to watch charitably but it's a mess, really. There's a fairly thin story with some pulled-out-of-a-hat mythology (familiar from a lot of Euro Horror, if we're honest), some gory effects that remind the viewer this is an Italian hour film from the 80s, but which don't sit well with half-hearted attempts to recapture the mood of Herzog's film, and some scenes shot by Kinski himself, of the vampire just wandering about in the dawn light, which DO capture a little of that feeling but which have nothing to do with the story.

Christopher Plummer and Donald Pleasance turn up in it too, and Maria Cumani Quasimodo as an elderly Venetian princess. she's somebody of whom I knew nothing until I looked online a moment ago but she has a great, gaunt Gothic face.

Abr 2, 9:37pm

>70 housefulofpaper:

Viy has been classed as folk horror. It occurred to me that it's also a haunted house movie (or haunted church to be strictly accurate). The haunted house as a movie genre goes right back, almost to the earliest days of cinema.

Abr 3, 4:39am

>70 housefulofpaper:

Damn, again. I'm half-sure Viy is another of those films I've bought and forgotten about. Or am I thinking of November? Or both?

I really must do some sorting out in the spare bedroom ... trouble is, it's misguided attempts at sorting and tidying that get these discs buried and forgotten in the first place ...

Editado: Abr 4, 6:17am

>58 alaudacorax:

I've just watched The Haunting of Margam Castle (closed the curtains), courtesy of CinemaParadiso (yep, I'm going to keep on plugging them).

I was expecting to find it really bad, but, though it's not very good, I think IMDb's 2.6/10 is actually unfair—I think 4 or 5 would be fair judgement.

The first hour or so (it's 81 minutes) was quite good. I'm pretty sure the director was familiar with Robert Wise's The Haunting, but it also had the feel of a good, British, TV, ghost story of forty years or so back. It was very atmospheric and dark and creepy.

Around the hour mark, I think Andrew Jones (director/screenplay) lost his grip on his story—got a bit silly with it. There was one place that really marked the change: the cast is stumbling round these dark corridors and something—a particulary physical ghost, then—grabs a woman from behind and starts dragging her away; there were three or four other people there but, instead of all piling in to help her, one chaps starts forward and another holds him back with 'too late, she's gone', when she was barely out of sight round the corner and not more than ten feet away. That was the first of several sillinesses. In particular, the sudden appearance of a copy of the Necronomicon* was just crashingly anachronistic. I think it wouldn't have been a particularly difficult bit of rewriting to give it a much more satisfying and sensible ending. In fact, he wouldn't even have had to change the ending, just got rid of a couple of the sillinesses on the way there. It would still have been a quite old-fashioned horror film, but it would probably have stopped all those ca 2.6 ratings on IMDb.

Anyway, I was very impressed with the house; and now I'm even more ashamed that I've never had a look at the place.

ETA - * He might usefully have substituted some business with an ancient copy of the Mabinogion.

Abr 3, 1:59pm

>74 alaudacorax:

The storyline is a bit fractured and disjointed, but that's hardly unusual in current film and telly ...

Editado: Abr 8, 5:04am

Have we discussed Blade Runner here? I know I've seen it described as Gothic in the past, though I tend to think of it as 'scifi-noir', if there is such a thing. Anyway, it's always going to be (the director's cut, I mean—not the original cinema travesty) in my list of all time favourite films.

I've always been resistant to watching Blade Runner 2049, though—I could never understand how there could possibly be a sequel with Deckard in it without violating my understanding of the original film. I can't go into more detail about that without serious spoilers.

However, I have noticed the almost universal acclaim for the sequel—8/10 on IMDb, critics' score of 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (compared to the orginal's 90%), and I recently discovered Mark Kermode's YouTube channel, where he raved about it. So I watched it last night ...

... um, I watched the first half last night ...

There's a serious problem with the film industry that I'm daily becoming more and more worried about. The last two or three generations of film critics are really crap. Perhaps their sensibilities have become seriously blunted by watching all that crap cinema ... but that goes into a vicious circle—if you've got a whole industry of critics who consistently get things wrong, it's bound to have a really negative feedback on the quality of films getting made ... which is going to shred the brains of the poor critics who have to watch them ... and so on, round and round and round in circles.

You may be getting some inkling that I'm getting really sick of watching* uninspired, plodding, seriously over-financed sludge which has been praised to the skies by the critics. Of course, it could be that I'm wrong and all the critics are right, but I don't really believe that ...

Fleetingly last night I was seriously considering washing my hands of the whole business and confining myself to books for the rest of my life ...

I need to do something about all these ellipses ...

* Well, watching the first halves of, anyway.

Editado: Abr 8, 5:45am

>76 alaudacorax: I re-watch Blade Runner fairly frequently. It has a soothing effect on me. Like yourself I was apprehensive about watching Blade Runner 2049. I was expecting it to totally destroy the story and undermine my enjoyment of the original, which is a favourite of mine, if not my all time favourite movie.

When I watched 2049 I was relieved that it did no harm to the original, either in the story or in the music*. I have re-watched it once but am not inclined to watch it regularly.

My reaction to it reminds me of a Bill Bailey comedy routine in which he compares how British people measure happiness (and I can say we Irish do the same) with the way Australians measure happiness. When a British (or Irish) person is asked how things are, the most common response is, "Not too bad." An Australian would respond, "Awesome!" Bailey concludes that we measure our happiness by comparison to how much worse it could have been. I think that is a perfect description of my reaction to Blade Runner 2049. Alternatively I may just have lower standards.

*The music is nothing compared to the original but at least it did not try to outdo the original or totally change the tone.

E.T.A. The re-make of Total Recall was the biggest load of crap. The original film was such tongue-in-cheek fun there was no way a re-make was going to work. Of course, the original short story, We Can Remember it for you Wholesale, had the most fantastic ending.

Abr 8, 7:36am

>77 pgmcc:

Love that Bill Bailey story. I'd never thought of it before. I tend to say things like 'not too bad' myself. I suspect, though, that it's good old British 'apologeticism', if there is such a word. We don't like to reply 'awesome' just in case the person asking is about to tell us of all the latest misfortunes they've been afflicted by.

Editado: Abr 9, 9:24am

>76 alaudacorax: I too absolutely love the original Blade Runner (1982), esp. the Director's cut version. I try to re-watch it annually

As to Blade Runner 2049, well, I remember it was highly anticipated in the States. Many fans were apprehensive about how it would respect the original film. I note the French-Canadienne Director Denis Villeneuve publicly had stated that he too was deeply apprehensive about even taking on the film, knowing how strong the fan base are for the original.

The choice of Ryan Gosling was the first surprise to me, but he actually exceeded my expectations. The cast was international, the movie, though very long, moved beautifully and it was clear Director Villeneuve was saying : "see this in a theater" The amount of CGI was actually low, many of the sets were incredible.

The story itself, I admit could have been stronger, though I know that Villeneuve tried, he even managed to get out of retirement the screenwriter from the original Blade Runner (1982), Hampton Fancher.

Without giving too much away, I can say for certain the original opening scene in Blade Runner 2049 was indeed supposed to be in the original Blade Runner (1982), but Ridley Scott reportedly just didn't have the budget. So it's an incredible opening scene, one I suggest you re-watch it carefully.

My beef with Blade Runner 2049 is more with what it says---sometimes less is indeed more, and I found myself thinking, "ah you could of just left out some of the superfluous talk/dialogue".

The cinematography got Roger Deakins his first Oscar after numerous nominations, but no wins----he did cinematography for nearly all the Coen Brother films.

The music, while not as unique as that in the original film, was interesting to me. Not sure if I'll buy it, listen to it on Spotify.

Blade Runner for me is Film noir. Straddling Sci- and Speculative Sci-Fi, along with Philosophy (what is it to be human?).

It can be it's own thread... I've not even discussed some of the "Christ imagery" from Blade Runner (1982), the acting (Rutger Hauer, yes please!), and it's influence on other films. There's also the story...

Editado: Abr 8, 10:26pm

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Abr 8, 10:54pm

>79 benbrainard8:

It's actually still in my machine while I decide whether I can steel myself to watch the second half. I just wasn't up for it, the evening just gone.

I can appreciate the spectacle; my problem is that I could write down the plot's developments so far in a fairly short sentence. Then, as so often with contemporary films, I'm left wondering if it's really likely that they are going to pack in lots of interesting stuff in the second half, given that they haven't already done so.

Also, I suspect that the first half would be a lot more intriguing and interesting to someone who hadn't seen the original.

Talking about the original (director's cut), the new one is forty-seven minutes longer. I'm pretty sure that's part of the problem—and is with so many contemporary blockbusters. If the studios imposed stricter time limits I'm sure it would force directors into more gripping story-telling. In fact, now I've written that, I realise I have some vague memories of the original being criticised for being 'over-long'!

Abr 10, 7:21pm

>79 benbrainard8:

I looked on IMDb to see what else Roger Deakins has shot, because I recognised the name. The Coen Brothers' films, as you said. Michael Radford's 1984, which I saw in the cinema while I was studying the book for English "A" level. And a documentary short from 1979 about London's nightlife featuring some '80s faced before they were famous, some music videos (the "videos" with some money behind them were shot on film, of course).

I've got Blade Runner 2049 on disc but haven't watched it yet. I'm not sure what's putting me off. It could be the running time feels like too much of a commitment (but then when I watch a shorter, sometimes not vert good film, I feel obliged to go through the extras on the disc, and listen to the commentary (or commentaries plural!) afterwards.

Sveto mesto, (A Holy Place), the Serbian version of Viy is very good. Close to the Russian film (and presumably the novella) in many ways, but fleshing out the character of the Witch and making her an overtly sexual threat, in flashback sequences jealous, sadistic, and using - assaulting - the domestic staff. At the climax of the film, the panoply of vampires and gnomes etc, even Viy himself, are left out of this version of the story. It's a more grubby, sordid even, resolution that feels more in tune with '70s cinema. The accompanying booklet makes a stylistic connection with the Italian director Pupi Avati. Of his work, I've only seen The House of the Laughing Windows but I can definitely see some affinities between that film and Sveto pesto.

Editado: Abr 17, 10:03pm

RIP Helen McCrory—died yesterday, sadly young. A familiar screen face to Brits at least, members of this group might remember her as a medium-stroke-witch in Penny Dreadful (oddly enough, when LT was throwing up touchstones for that it also offered Peaky Blinders, in which she also starred).

I've just been looking at her Wikipedia page, though, and was quite surprised to find she once played Doctor Frankenstein, in Frankenstein (2007) (I'm not even making the attempt to find a touchstone for that title). I've no memory of that, at all. IMDb only rates it at 4.7/10, but there are only 309 votes at the time of writing so I don't know that's enough to be trusted. From what I can find online, it seems to be firmly based on inspired by previous screen versions and hardly at all by the novel.

Maio 16, 1:25pm

>181, >188

I got round to watching Tomb of Ligeia last night. I firmly put Poe out of my mind, determined to judge the film as a stand-alone artefact. Mixed feelings, though:

I had no trouble at all watching all the way through—it quite gripped me. I thought it was quite atmospheric, good to look at. And it had that nostalgic, old-fashioned horror film feel that I love.

On the other hand, it's not a film that stands up to too much thinking. The internal logic of the plot was rather awry and there was a 'patchwork' feel to it as if they'd written some of the scenes while they were filming, and had started out without a definite plot layed out. It didn't make a lot of sense. To the extent that I wondered if there were scenes missing; but IMDb gives it as 81 minutes and my version was a little over 78, so I suppose not.

Some of Vincent Price's acting left a bit to be desired, especially his business with the cat at the climax.

In the end, I think I'd give it a fraction on the good side of half marks. Just.

Maio 16, 1:27pm


Oh, one scene I forgot to mention, and I really must.

There's a scene where Verden is having a conversation in the grounds with the surplus male, while Lady Rowena, who has been left alone in the creepy old abbey, sees the black cat make off with Verden's shades and chases after it, getting deeper and deeper into the more cobwebby and dark—and dangerous—realms of the place. But as the camera stays with Lady R, we are hearing Verden's monologue out by the grave.

I had to watch the damn scene at least four times! I was getting so gripped by what I was watching that I kept missing most of what Verden was saying! It was quite difficult and I don't know how the hell people managed in cinemas back in the day ...

Maio 23, 2:26pm

Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (US title Who Slew Auntie Roo?) was the next Curtis Harrington film I watched after Ruby. It's hard to say much about it without spoilers, I think. The online reviews note it's a late addition to the Grande Dame Guignol genre: Shelley Winters stars as Auntie Roo, an American former actress, mourning her husband and her daughter, living alone in a big house outside London and preyed upon by the domestic staff and a phoney clairvoyant. And could easily be the put-upon heroine of the picture, if we didn't see her putting a mummified corpse to bed in the house's nursery in the opening scene.

The reviews also describe the film as a retelling of Hansel and Gretel. Well, yes, in part, but sympathy is switched between Winters and Mark Lester and Chloe Franks as brother and sister orphans who come into her orbit. In fact it often feels like an early '70s rather creepy children's film (like The Amazing Mr Blunden - the director of which, Lionel Jefferies, has a role in this) but "a bit too nasty", "a bit too cynical" for kids (not really though, I've just got old and censorious, ha ha).

Maio 23, 2:35pm

Another thing I watched - I finally worked through the extras in the BFI DVD set Jan Švankmajer : The Complete Short Films which includes a short film Johanes Doktor Faust (1958), directed by Emil Radok. This was the first film Švankmajer worked on. It's a fairly straightforward record of the Faust legend as told through traditional puppet theatre. But very effective as movie spectacle and the marionettes certainly have an uncanny element to them.

Maio 24, 8:47pm

Next was a short film called Bella in the Wych Elm, from 2017. Like Borley Rectory, the subject matter is a piece of 20th Century British creepiness that has inspired more than one film adaptation (ditto books, etc.). Briefly, in 1943 some boys in woodland in the West Midlands (they were actually trespassing on the grounds of an estate belonging to the local Lord, as if it as the Middle Ages) found a female human skeleton forced into the bole of a tree. The body's hand was found nearby. The victim as never identified but two years later, graffito appeared in Birmingham: "Who put Bella down the Wych Elm - Hagley Wood" which reignited the investigation and led to several theories: that "Bella" was a murdered sex worker, or a Nazi agent, or the victim of a ritual occult killing. The case was never solved, and has become a local legend, a piece of modern folklore. The graffito has reappeared from time to time in the ensuing decades, and refined into "Who put Bella in the Wych Elm".

The film is about 36 minutes long, black and white and (the director, Tom Lee Rutter, admits) made with zero budget. The footage is shot to look older than the 1940s, and treated to simulate distressed old nitrate stock often, it seems, either about to burst into flames or succumb to mould. I was reminded of Borley Rectory (despite the differences in technique - years of careful animation versus what was essentially guerrilla filmmaking). I saw an extract from a review, online, that described it as "a Midlands Haxan", and that captures something of its ambience too. Yet another review cites Wisconsin Death Trip which is probably nearer the mark, both in that Bella in the Wych Elm doesn't go full into supernaturalism, and that it stresses it's regional specificity. It's a Midlands (specifically, a Black Country) story. The voiceover narration by "Tatty" Dave Jones (a member of ska-punk band The Cracked Actors, I learned from the last-mentioned review) is pure Black Country.

The Blu-Ray I have (from the filmmakers via their Bandcamp) is apparently slightly re-edited from the original 2017 release, and remastered. The film appears three more times, re-edited as a silent movie, with three different musical soundtracks.

Maio 25, 6:23am

>88 housefulofpaper:

Oh dear. I know about this story and I can't, for the life of me, remember why. YouTube video? Book? Ah, there's a whole slew of YT videos on it—might have seen one or two of them. And there's a Wikipedia page that I've definitely previously read. So frustrating: I know all about this and I can't remember where, when or why. Have we discussed it here in the past?

This is one of the curses of the IT Age; your brain gets overwhelmed with so many scraps of random information. My brain was much more ordered back in the days of radio and TV schedules and the local library. A local antique-cum-junk shop—a brick built, corner building—got hit by a car some years back and completely collapsed. I remember passing and seeing this horrendous jumble of bricks and brasswork, twisted prints and smashed furniture, china and the gods know what else. That's what my brain is like in the IT age.

Maio 25, 4:32pm

>89 alaudacorax:

Grandma's attic? The best place to rummage about. :)

Well, I don't recall hearing of this intriguing story before, if that's an indication of anything.

a female human skeleton forced into the bole of a tree.

Skeleton, huh. So many questions...

Editado: Maio 27, 7:35pm

I was surfing through Madelen's "fantastique" section when I noticed the name of Claude Seignolle, which Andrew brought up somewhere here. This was a telefilm called "Roc ou la Malédiction" from 1973, and based on Seignolle's story Le diable en sabots (The devil in clogs). Unfortunately I can't figure out a way to make captures from INA's streaming (screen goes dark when paused), but you can see some photos here, same resolution as Madelen's upload:

The photos don't convey just how great is the (story's) titular devil, how terrifying, uncanny, ominous. Never heard of the actor before so had to look him up: Claude Titre, born in Morocco, played the lead in the TV series based on pulp adventure hero Bob Morane (way before my time but I did read the later comics as a kid). There's a vid on YT from the mid-sixties where he talks about playing Bob Morane but it's nothing like what he looks and sounds in this telefilm.

It's such a pity he doesn't seem to have been asked to do more horror!!! That face, gesticulation, delivery, irisless eyes--just a perfect evil fairy king or werewolf etc. I looked through his cinematography and only Wuthering Heights comes even close, as far as I can tell (he played Heathcliff).

It's a very modest cinematography for someone with such apparent talents--striking looks, good acting--wonder why. There's very little about him online I could quickly find; he died at mere 54 yo of cancer (but I saw a--unsourced--comment somewhere saying AIDS).

Anyway, it seems this film was or is available on MUBI so may be worth looking for on that or other streaming services if you use them. Highly recommended.

P.S. Dang! So close... He DID play in another horror--a werewolf story!!!--but not, as far as I can tell, THE werewolf. Hugues-le-loup, based on a story by Erckmann and Chatrian.

Maio 27, 9:30pm

>91 LolaWalser:
Re. Claude Seignolle - yes, he's one of the authors in that "other titles available" list in the back of my French host's 1970's paperback copy of Malpertuis. I was thinking about it just recently, because a US publisher has started bringing out Jean Ray's fantastique works in new English translations (come to think of it, there were some Erckmann-Chatrian titles in the house as well.)

Just had a look at 7 minutes of a Bob Morane episode on YouTube. Looks like fun, but my French is still a long long way from being up to the job of following the dialogue. And Claude Titre obviously nothing like the devil in it (I thought there was something vaguely familiar about his face...could I perhaps be thinking of Jean Marias? - who did, of course, play a kind of werewolf in La Belle et la Bete).

>90 LolaWalser:
Reading >88 housefulofpaper: back in light of your comment, I fear I've unintentionally mislead with some clumsy writing. "Bella" was killed in the woods, or (it's assumed) nearby, and her body hidden in the tree. When she was discovered, she had been reduced to a skeleton. The discovery was estimated to be a couple of years after her death.

Maio 27, 10:59pm

>92 housefulofpaper:

Ahh, I see--of course I went for the maximum drama, picturing someone actually forcing a skeleton into the tree. :)

Poor Bella. Well, you know what the stats say--family or a family friend, most likely.

Funny you should mention Marais, one of the few bits about Titre I could find (must say his surname doesn't help googling any) was that he was enthralled as a youngster by Jean Marais. Yeah, they do have something similar about the features... that chiselled look.

Too bad I can't somehow illustrate the glowering, demonic persona of the blacksmith... maybe if I tried with my phone? Let's see if YouTube will let me upload a few seconds even...

Editado: Maio 30, 11:32am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Maio 30, 8:43pm

I started my "Karloff at Columbia" Blu-Ray set with The Black Room (1935). Most of the films in this set are going to ne "mad scientist" pictures, but The Black Room is a "proper" the sense that it's a historical melodrama involving a family curse, a good twin and an evil one...oh, lots of Gothic tropes (or cliches). Listing too many would practically end up as a plot summary. I'd never seen this film before and if I've read about it (I assume it's covered in American Gothic) I had forgotten all about it. And I think my viewing benefited from that, so I won't give away anything here. Although when you watch it it'd not so much that you don't know how it will end, but the route it will take to get there. It's all economically set up in the first 15 minutes or less, and is all over in little more than an hour.

I will say, though, with the warning that's it's something of a, that a dog has quite a pivotal role, and those scenes seemed to me, to evoke not so much a Radcliffean Gothic, as the very early days of silent cinema (I'm not even thinking of Rin Tin Tin but even earlier, before US film production had moved to Hollywood, and Cecil Hepworth's Rescued by Rover could be "possibly the only point in film history when British cinema unquestionably led the world" (Michael Brooke, BFI Screenonline, quoted in Rescued by Rover's Wikipedia entry).

This film earned a glowing review from Graham Greene, before he was a full-time novelist and working as a film critic for, I think it was, the New Statesman. He invoked Mrs Radcliffe in his praise of the film. It was also reportedly Boris Karloff's favourite film up to that time (at last according to the studios publicity machine!) - This I learned from the commentary by Jonathan Rigby and Kevin Lyons...who also mention as a piece of trivia a little local (to me history). Apparently there used to be a cinema in Reading, next to Jackson's (one of those old fashioned "Grace Bros" department stores. In fact it managed to keep trading until just a few years ago) and the cinema manager rented a shopfront with just a small spyhole in the window through which one could see a recreation of the oubliette from the film, the Black Room itself...and a note saying "you've seen the Black Room, now go next door and see it furnished by Jacksons!"

They also point out a resemblance between Karloff and Jeremy Irons (prompted I think by Karloff playing twins in this film and Irons' similar dual role in Dead Ringers - but yes, now they've said it, I can see it).

Maio 31, 6:04am

>95 housefulofpaper:

It astonishes me that films can still show up that I know nothing about. I mean, you can't watch everything, of course, but, given my interests, you'd think I'd have seen all of Karloff by now ... and Lugosi, Cushing, Christopher Lee ...

Talking about Lee: watched the last half-hour of The Battle of the River Plate with a meal yesterday. Lee in a 'comic foreigner' role. Didn't really work—he just looked too dangerous.

Maio 31, 2:54pm

you'd think I'd have seen all of Karloff by now ... and Lugosi, Cushing, Christopher Lee ...

Funny coincidence! Recently I saw a movie with Karloff I not only had never seen before, I didn't know he was in it (I had known OF it) until a chance glimpse of something online. And then I thought, "nooo, must be a mistake, what would he be doing in that story" (for I knew the story the movie's based on).

Up for a puzzle before hitting Google? :)

It's from 1946, in colour. Title in spoilerfont for the impatients: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

It's a smallish role but perfect for Karloff and made the movie for me.

Maio 31, 4:51pm

>96 alaudacorax:
The other films in the set are The Man They Could Not Hang, The Man With Nine Lives, Before I Hang, The Devil Commands and The Boogie Man Will Get You. Only that last one rang a (small) bell, but I haven't seen it.

The discs, by the way, include some radio dramas from the '40s as extras, including breaks in the story to promote the sponsor's wares (this used to seem quaint, but it's exactly what YouTubers are doing right now...only it's for Liptons Tea back then, rather than for Squarespace).

>97 LolaWalser:
No, I couldn't think what it might have been, so I peeked. That film must have had showings on British television since I have been around but I don't recall it even being on in the background. I have a reason to look out for now (and maybe more chance of finding it: the success how UK satellite TV channel Talking Pictures TV has encouraged other channels to delve back into their archives. "Great! Movies Classic" - a recently-rebranded Sony movie channel - is currently showing The Deadly Affair - an adaptation of John Le Carre's Call for the Dead with James Mason as a renamed George Smiley (rights issues, of course). Of course it could be a case of the big boys trying to run the small player out of business).

Maio 31, 6:04pm

>98 housefulofpaper:

I posted a pic from the film over in Silent Screen. It's worth watching--not only is Karloff delightfully menacing, it's partly set in a pulp fiction publisher's, with blown-up covers of pulp fiction--very avant-1960's-pop!

The Man With Nine Lives and The Devil Commands don't ring a bell; the rest I have between two Karloff collections (plus other). I really want to get a copy of The Man Who Changed His Mind (I think I mentioned it here before--creepy and zany).

By the way, this, The Veil, may be of interest to Karloff completists, although I'm sorry I can't say it's great:

It was meant to rival something like the Twilight Zone, an anthology series not only introduced by Karloff, but in which he appeared in a different role each time. Only ten episodes were made and, another possible point of interest, they do feature occasionally some interesting names--Patrick Macnee, Niall McGinnis...

Unfortunately, while they try to be supernatural and horrorish, they are rather slow and boring. But there it is.

Editado: Jun 1, 11:14am

>97 LolaWalser:

Now you've set me off on one of my wild tangents. I have fond memories of long, long ago ('60s or even earlier) really loving a TV series featuring the title character of that film. Just been on IMDb (may the gods rot their latest redesign) and I can't find any trace of it. I can even see the lead actor in mind's eye, but I'm damned if I can remember his name or anything else he starred in so I can look it up.

As I said, a wild tangent and nothing to do with the Gothic. Apologies.

ETA - My World and Welcome to It ... not quite as early as I thought. Still a tangent, though.

Jun 1, 7:34am

>98 housefulofpaper: - The other films ...

These films blur together in the memory over time. I'm sure I've seen most of them; but I'm not sure I've seen any particular one.

And thanks: I like James Mason; I like Le Carrè; don't remember I've ever heard of film or book; so I shall look into both.

Lately I'm discovering so many films I have no memory of that I'm beginning to wonder if it's just a case of my memory failing me ...

Jun 2, 9:02pm

>100 alaudacorax:

Just been on IMDb (may the gods rot their latest redesign)

Awful, isn't it! Every time I think, maybe I'm just getting too old for websites changing, but this really is bad.

Never heard of that series. Thurber was a legend in his time and nowadays almost no one knows him (or reads him). To be honest, I never got what it was people saw in his drawings.

Oops, sorry for the banter from me too.

Jun 3, 2:55am

>102 LolaWalser:

Actually, you wouldn't believe the length of that tangent in >100 alaudacorax:. Sometimes I get some niggling little something in my mind and I just can't be at peace until I've figured it out, and the right way of going about it never occurs to me at the time!

After fruitlessly racking my brains for the title, and then the lead actor's name, and finally for something else I remembered seeing him in so I could look him up in that, I dredged out of the depths of my mind that I'd seen him in a clip in The Celluloid Closet. I dug that out of the spare room and watched the whole of that (well, I had to finish it, having got that far in—and this was in the daytime when I should have been doing other things) to find him in what turned out to be a Frank Sinatra vehicle called The Detective. Checked that on IMDb to find he was William Windom. Scoured his page to finally find the title of the TV show.

That was yesterday. Woke up this morning and one of the first thoughts in my mind was, "Why didn't you look up Thurber's entry on IMDb?" Must have been a bad day, yesterday ...

Jun 16, 7:37pm

I've seen the first three Karloff "Mad Scientist" pictures: The man they could not hang, The man with nine lives, and Before I hang. They're short films (Before I Hang only just makes it over an hour) and the feel of the narratives is closer to the radio suspense dramas of the same vintage, I think, than the contemporary later Universal horrors.

There are similarities across the films, to the extent that they can fairly be described as variations on a theme, but the plotting in all of them is pretty clever and Karloff gives properly differentiated performances and with notably different make-ups - nothing eerie, just different wigs, body language. Very different to Lugosi's performances for Monogram. And none of the characters are simply evil, so (as one of the commentary tracks note) the viewer's sympathies are initially with Karloff and can switch back even as things are going wrong (i.e people are starting to die!).

There's an element of what we's now call techno-thriller to these films too, as they are extrapolations from things at the edge of science as it was 80 years ago, to the extent that the ethics-challenging breakthroughs of the first two films are now real-life and indeed standard medical techniques.

Jun 16, 7:41pm

>103 alaudacorax:
My world and welcome to it - I don't remember it on British TV but somehow did get an interview with Windom served up to me on YouTube not so long ago. One of his favourite roles apparently. I remembered him as one of those other Star Fleet captains who would occasionally turn up on Star Trek and make Kirk look better by comparison. And he would keep turning up in various roles in other US TV shows of course.

Jun 16, 8:30pm

>105 housefulofpaper: Ah, but that was a Star Trek episode that is considered by many (at least here in the US), to be amongst the top ten of all of the original series:

It was quite a frightening episode!

Jun 16, 8:54pm

>105 housefulofpaper:
And here too, I don't doubt. I Although when I first saw Star Trek I was so young that I couldn't really make any critical judgement as to any particular episode's quality (unless it had to much lovey-dovey stuff, of course!). There's actually a useful online resource for BBC TV and Radio schedules (it was called BBC Genome Project but I've learned today that it's been incorporated into a newer site that links on online programmes - if they are available that way). Anyway, the point is that I found out from this site, that I could have first seem The Doomsday Machine in 1972, another chance in 1974, again in 1979 (and apparently only one showing in the '80s - the week I started work).

Editado: Jun 17, 8:23am

Mensagem removida pelo autor.

Jun 17, 9:43pm

It took me this long to notice that Donald Pleasance appeared in the Halloween movies, so I finally worked up the courage to see them (on a bright weekend morning). The first two, that is. A strange combo of unpleasantness and tedium, mostly, although I liked Pleasance's usual rabitty performance.

Editado: Jun 17, 9:52pm

>107 housefulofpaper: thank you, I've been perusing the BBC online program (programmes?). Very interesting. I was only about age 9-10 when I saw the above episode that had William Windom. It made quite an impression. It's one of the episodes I can watch even now...and still a bit of a shocker. Online fandom mention how you also see parts of the Enterprise that you wouldn't have seen prior, esp. engineering related and its shuttle port area. It must have been a rerun of course, since I was born in 1968, and watched this probably in mid-to-late 1970s.

Now I've saved this BBC link, and will explore it. It seems to call the area I'm using the BBC Programme Index.


Editado: Jun 17, 9:55pm

>109 LolaWalser: Ok, confession time, I've never seen any of the Halloween, (1978) movie(s), so you'll have to let me know if they're worth it!

Jun 17, 10:16pm

>111 benbrainard8:

Heh, so I'm not quite the last person never to have seen them! Hmm, as to worth it--depends, I guess, if you have any curiosity about them, given the pop culture status? If yes, then I'd say at least to try the first one. Carpenter's direction is noticeably better than the whoever did the second one's, and there's by now an interesting "period" feel to the picture--American suburb, long tinny cars, cozy neighbourhood in the 1970s, the ritual of Halloween munchies and marathon watching of old horror movies (I must find "The Thing")...

Curiously, the second movie takes place on the same evening of the first one (although Jamie Lee Curtis reappears as a blonde with a different hairdo--funny service to get in an ambulance on the way to the hospital :)) so there's some justification in watching them as one story. The gore is upped in the second one, but overall, not the worst I've seen. But, there really isn't much of anything else besides shocks and gore, so if that's offputting, there's not much to recommend them.

Editado: Jun 18, 4:22am

>112 LolaWalser: - ... there's not much to recommend them.

It would seem so: I have a definite memory of seeing the first one, supposedly the best; I have tiny bits of memories of Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Pleasance in it—not much more than images, really; but I'm damned if I can remember anything of the storyline. Says it all, really.

When anyone mentions JLC, The Fog is still the first film to mind for me—in my opinion, much better work on Carpenter's part. But then I've always preferred 'proper' horrors to slashers ... perhaps I'm just biased.

ETA - And when I first saw The Fog it stayed in my mind. I'm sure I could have given you a pretty complete synopsis any time from then onwards.

Jun 18, 2:34pm

But...Halloween III: Season of the Witch. The odd one out of the franchise, when John Carpenter et al thought the original story had been told and maybe "Halloween" could be an anthology series of stand-alone stories. The one with a story from Nigel Kneale (although he had his name taken off the credits before release. It does reflect his themes of deep time and cosmic horror, themes that he seems, particularly through the Quatermass teleplays, to have hit upon independently of H. P. Lovecraft. Admittedly they come out rather more Pulpy here, but better then the film's initial reception (and Kneale's disowning) would lead one to believe.

Jun 18, 5:21pm

>113 alaudacorax:

Story goes, "madman escapes from asylum, goes on a murder spree".

I just remembered there was a scene of genuine humour--when he shows up to the next victim like a ghost, wearing a sheet and her (now dead) boyfriend's glasses over it.

>114 housefulofpaper:

Nigel Kneale! Got me in two words. Requested. Sad that he wasn't happy with the result, wonder why?

Editado: Jun 19, 7:53am

>114 housefulofpaper:

Oddly enough, don't think I've ever heard of that. I'll watch out for it.

ETA - Couldn't find it on CinemaParadiso. Turned out, it's '3' not 'III' in the UK ... who makes these decisions?

Jun 19, 6:58pm

> 116

My recollection from the '70s and '80s, which was when I first became aware of such things, was that it was always quite fluid. Whatever the title actually was on screen, whether it was a "3" or a "III" on the marquee, or in the local paper's review, depended on what was available or (for the papers) how the typesetter felt at the time.

Jun 26, 3:48pm

Halloween Three/III/3 has arrived but I'm too tired to pick it up today...

I started watching the extras in my Hammer films set (from Studiocanal, 21 films), beginning with those on Dracula Prince of Darkness. Barbara Shelley and Francis Matthews were interviewed! The gem of the bonuses is the short private film of the filming, shot by Matthews' brother Peter Shelley--whose name I knew only because I had just seen the Doctor Who story "Four to Doomsday", in which he appears as Persuasion--and get this, in 1997 they gathered Lee, Barbara Shelley, Matthews and I forget who else to comment on that film of the filming. Mostly it was the final scene, when Dracula sinks under ice. Turns out Lee's stuntman went under, not Lee himself... :)

Jul 9, 10:35pm

Thanks for the tip to watch Halloween III, I quite liked it. It's basically a ripoff of The terror of the Autons, no? I didn't much care for the hero, although I suppose he's adequate; the effects and the look of the movie were, I thought, excellent.

Made a mistake of going to the IMDb to look up how they credited Kneale (they don't) and noticed the abysmal rating over there, all due to whiny manbabies apparently not being able to put up with the lack of the dull psycho from the original... God I hate them so much.

Jul 10, 8:58pm

>119 LolaWalser:

If anything, Terror of the Autons "borrowed" from Nigel Kneale, and he was recycling some of his own ideas for Halloween III. In fact Doctor Who took a lot from Kneale's Quatermass scripts (especially the Jon Pertwee era exiled-to-Earth stories), something he was apparently acutely aware of and quite resented (but apparently his animus towards the show went back to its earliest days, when the sound design on the historical story Marco Polo scared his young children).

To be fair to IMDb (but not the users posting reviews on it!) Nigel Kneale asked for his name to be removed from the film's credits. He was by all accounts a bit spiky, and was increasingly so with age (I just checked the venerable age he'd reached by 1982: sixty. Hmm).

To go back to Kneale (and/or Carpenter) recycling his ideas, I think there are bits of Quatermass II (alien invaders disguised as a factory and the "company town" of Winnteron Flats providing employees, plus the mind-controlled security guards, is a fairly close analogue to Santa Mira and the Silver Shamrock Novelties factory) and Quatermass/The Quatermass Conclusion (the fictional stone circle "Ringstone Round" was Stonehenge itself in the original scripts, and the "Huffity, puffity, Ringstone Round" rhyme has its echo in the "Silver Shamrock" jingle). Quatermass never had a "Bond villain" type antagonist though, so yes, Conal Cochran = The Master. (But within the world of Doctor Who, i think Harrison Chase from The Seeds of Doom is the most Bond-villain-ish villain).

But thinking about Dan O'Herlihy, who play Cochran of course, I was looking at the list of his acting credits. He was in David Rudkin's Artemis 81 just prior to this film. I can't remember if we've ever discussed it here. Have you managed to see it? The DVD came out (in the UK) years ago, when Penda's Fen seemed destined to be forever unobtainable, but now Artemis 81 is out of print and the unobtainable one. It's avowedly Gothic, so comfortably within the scope of this group.

Jul 11, 7:31am

>120 housefulofpaper:

Never heard of Artemis 81, but the DVD cover on IMDb looks suspiciously reminiscent of The Seventh Seal.

Jul 11, 2:01pm

>120 housefulofpaper:, >121 alaudacorax:

No, I don't recall Artemis 81 although I remember we mentioned Rudkin. I really want to see that now, I thought O'Herlihy's villain was excellent, way beyond the brief of the movie. I wish they didn't make these things so hard to find--a box set would be so nice, if they absolutely won't be reissuing the individual films...

Re: the Autons-H3 links; I was just thinking in terms of chronology, what came first to the public eye, should have phrased that better but I didn't know Kneale had done the story first , is it available to see?

Am I wrong in wishing this were a British production? Perhaps Halloween makes it more suitable for the American setting, and possibly the effects are so good thanks to the American money, but... while relatively well-done, I think it suffered from something present in many American films of this type--a dullness in-between "major" scenes. It's like all American films incorporate popcorn breaks and advertising slots, you're almost expected to look away. Brits are better at filling the "lulls" between pure action with interesting business. At least I think they would have been here.

Still, not a bad movie at all, pace IMDb's gremlins.

Editado: Jul 19, 8:24pm

>122 LolaWalser:
Artemis 81 is on YouTube! although the uploader says there's about 4 minutes missing from somewhere in the middle. Surprisingly this isn't a DVD rip, but an off-air recording from the 1981 broadcast. A word of warning - the non-naturalistic dialogue comes over as terribly stilted in places, and it's almost three hours long.

I hadn't considered John Carpenter might have been watching Doctor Who on PBS. Yes, he could have done. I even saw some myself on my only trip to the States (Family holiday Easter 1981). It was Underworld (usually voted the worst story ever!) with a special intro & recap narrated by Howard da Silva.

I didn't mean to imply that there was an Ur-Terror of the Autons written by Kneale. Rather that he had come up with a set of original themes (at least, original in film and TV drama and, where they overlap with H. P. Lovecraft's ideas, almost certainly developed independently). And then he felt (with some justification) that Doctor Who kept going back to his scripts for ideas, dramatic set-ups, almost like remixes of an original track.

I think you had the Quatermass stories on DVD? Once you're aware of it, you can see where they have been used as "inspiration" (I've just thought of two examples from a bit later in Doctor Who history: Noah in "The Ark in Space" infected by the Wirrn, and the Antarctic scientists infected by the Krynoid in "The Seeds of Doom"; and Carroon in The Quatermass Experiment (although yes, only the first third of the original TV production still exists, so you have to supplement it with the Brian Donlevy film or the 2005 live version).

>121 alaudacorax:

Yes, but I'm not sure it's intentional. There are a lot of things in the script and the design and maybe not all fully developed or clear. Reading up on David Rudkin it seems that themes reoccur in different works, whether for stage or screen (or other media?). I wonder if you have to see it all, to get the full picture - to see it all as one work.

There's a stronger relation to Vertigo, of all things. The extra features on the DVD tell how this film was made when several of Hitchcock's films were tied up in litigation of some kind and could not be seen. The director got hold of a copy in France (I think) and made lightning sketches of important scenes for reference, while surreptitiously viewing the film on a Steenbeck film editor.

Jul 11, 7:17pm

>122 LolaWalser:
Am I wrong in wishing this were a British production? Perhaps Halloween makes it more suitable for the American setting

Halloween was still a thing in the '70s/80s -
but I don't remember much beyond school organising apple bobbing (unsanitary, a lot of kids' drool in the water with the apples. Awful.) But Bonfire Night was definitely bigger. That's reversed now (partly I think because fireworks are available right through the year for various religious festivals, extrovert's birthday celebrations, seeing in the new year...bad news for cats and dogs).

I think I've got over that feeling of inferiority that was a given for most the the 20th century, that Hollywood will always produce a better product than the UK. Maybe a lingering after effect is not seeing a flat TV-series like exposition scene for what it is. A bit of the glamour still clings to it.

Jul 13, 11:25am

>18 housefulofpaper:

Reading through this thread (no, I can't remember why), I'm surprised I've never mentioned the 'castle' in >18 housefulofpaper:, from the short, The Errand. It's been puzzling me for a while. I can't find any information on it and an image search throws up nothing.

I put 'castle' in inverted commas because the thing is just unconvincing. It looks like a fairly modern build, perhaps some rich type's project in the vein of Castell Coch back home. But, whereas the latter looks like a fairy-tale castle, this thing looks like they got an architect who'd only ever built factories. It looks like a crematorium that got over-ambitious. Paradoxically, it looks to me like a perfect setting for a horror story. I remember we discussed here the house used for filming The Haunting. That place, in reality, looked quite beautiful, but was supposed to be weird and forbidding because it was built by an evil character. This place would have suited the film down to the ground. It is just so 'wrong', somehow.

And I just haven't been able to find out what or where it is. Anybody know?

Jul 13, 3:33pm

>125 alaudacorax:

Not a full answer I'm afraid. The Short Sharp Shocks accompanying booklet has a short reminiscing essay from David McGillivray, and he describes it only as "an abandoned Victorian folly in North London".

Architecturally, it reminds me of somewhat of Brock Barracks, which fronts onto Reading's Oxford Road. Built in 1881 in "Fortress Gothic Revival style" (thanks, Wikipedia) it was still used (albeit by the Territorial Army) when I was growing up.

Jul 14, 3:06pm

>124 housefulofpaper:

that Hollywood will always produce a better product than the UK.

Noooooooo, this is so untrue!! Seriously! Throwing money on effects is useless without a good story and good acting.

Which is why Doctor Who lasts as a real cultural institution, while the US sci-fi series of the same age are tiresome garbage now when not completely forgotten. What was that thing DW competed against, Buck Rogers? Unwatchable.

Thanks for the tip about Artemis, better look it up ASAP. And yes, I can easily see where Quatermass was hugely influential on many things.

Editado: Jul 19, 1:52am

Finally got round to watching Let The Right One In (2008). Very mixed feelings on this one.

I thought it was a very good film. I was absorbed by it, and held all the way through. At the same time, it wasn't really my kind of thing and I don't imagine I'll watch it again.

The thing is that it wasn't really a horror film.It seemed so very realistic. Even the supernatural element seemed matter-of-fact and almost un-supernatural. It seemed to be very much about real people in our world, and the nasty things that happened to them didn't, in essence, differ much from the car accidents or violent muggings we (and some of the characters) read about in the news.

In the end, I thought it was rather bleak, even the ending when I thought it over; because the lad, Oskar, seemed fated to become the old chap who was looking after Eli the vampire in the earlier part of the film.

ETA - '... looking after ...'? An assistant? A servant? A slave?

Jul 19, 8:25pm

> 127
Somebody quoted Terrance Dicks (Doctor Who script editor all through Jon Pertwee's run, then noveliser of many of the "Classic Who" scripts) online today. "What you need is a good, strong, original idea. Of course, it doesn't have to be your good, strong, original idea..."

Jul 19, 8:31pm

>128 alaudacorax:
I think you've put your finger on why I haven't watched Let The Right One In yet. Most of my viewing has been if not escapist, then tending towards the cheesy or nostalgic.

I've largely shied away from anything that demands any degree of emotional involvement. I'm not sure why, it doesn't coincide with the pandemic. Just becoming fundamentally less serious as a person, perhaps.

Plus, subtitles don't allow you to "slack off" and half-follow the story for a few minutes while you do something else (another and hopefully short-term excuse is that I've lost the remote control for my Blu-ray player. Curses!)

Editado: Jul 19, 8:55pm

>127 LolaWalser: Hear, hear !

I love watching British & European movies and television series, something which is now much easier to do because of Netflix streaming services.

Only a few American television shows have ever stood the test of time, but that's primarily because they've excellent writing, story-telling them behind them: thinking Star Trek (1967-1969) and TV series, M*A*S*H* (1972-1983).

The Doctor Who shows are really interesting, and I'm talking from the earlier shows right up to the new ones. Excellent writing those and often worth a re-watch.

And movies, sigh, don't even get me started...

Editado: Jul 19, 9:01pm

>128 alaudacorax: I'm in total agreement, this Let the Right One In was sad and thoughtful, but I don't think I could ever watch it again. I am glad that I finally got myself to watch it though. I'd been so scared of the few pictures I'd seen from scenes, that it took a very long time to finally view it. It was sweet in a morbid fashion, too.

Jul 20, 3:44am

>130 housefulofpaper: - ... escapist ...

I think you've put your finger on it, there. Let The Right One In seems to me to be rather out on its own, not really that near the classic horror genre, which is quite definitely escapist—supernatural elements, exotic locations, other times—not really near the slashers—though sharing the realistic, 'it could happen to you' tone—and much nearer the straight 'Drama' category; which I think can't, by definition, be escapist.

>132 benbrainard8: nailed it with 'sad and thoughtful'. That's not what I get from, say, one of the better Hammers (or a later slasher!); that's drama.

Incidentally, I was pondering the significance of the title (seems to be identical in Swedish unless there is some cultural nuance lost in translation). I didn't get anywhere. Perhaps it carries more weight in the novel?

Jul 21, 10:54pm

>131 benbrainard8:

Oh, I certainly didn't mean that there isn't fabulous American TV!, I was thinking only of the type of show such as Doctor Who, cheap stuff for kids... I think one has to go back to some pre-war serials to find something as likeable as DW, and even then good writing is scarce.

>133 alaudacorax:

Interesting, I never think of horror as escapist but that's probably because I'm hard put to see something like the Hammer movies, or the classic Universals, as horror pure and simple. They don't really terrify us anymore, do they?

But something like Let the right one in, or The orphanage, for example, seem to me genuinely terrifying and therefore truly are "horror". The exorcist, Halloween (I'm running out of examples as I actually avoid "real" horror) as well.

Jul 22, 12:03am

>134 LolaWalser:

Now you've thrown all my ideas into disorder.

I think we've got a problem of terminology, wherein films that surely belong in differing genres are all classified as horror.

With Let The Right One In, the scary bits, for me, involved the 'real life' bullies, rather than the 'fantasy' vampire; therefore it is definitely not escapist; while the Hammers, because they centre on a fantasy character, such as a vampire, are escapist whether they are scary or not. So I see them as falling into two separate genres.

I see an idea, in what I regard as a 'proper' horror film, of being 'safely' scared (even if in the case of the Hammers I now have to imagine being scared). It's a passing thrill because, in reality, we know there are no vampires, werewolves or so forth. Even if it leaves us scared of the dark for a while, we know it's an irrational fear. If it leaves you uneasy to be out in the dark from fear of, for example, some random nutter with a knife—a figure we've all read about in news reports—then, for me, that is something other than horror: perhaps slasher; perhaps realist drama.

Jul 22, 5:48am

>135 alaudacorax:

It's sad how often I'll write a thing somewhere and, then, wake up the following morning painfully aware of where I've gone wrong.

I'd forgotten that lots of people believe in some aspects of the supernatural. People may not believe in vampires or werewolves; but lots believe in ghosts or poltergeists. Which rather throws my categorising back up in the air as regards the concept of being 'safely scared'. Back to the drawing board.

Jul 22, 6:23am

>133 alaudacorax: - ... 'sad and thoughtful'. That's not what I get from, say, one of the better Hammers (or a later slasher!); that's drama.

WRONG again! Don't know what I was thinking of. I can think of lots of what I'd call 'traditional horrors' with a sad and thoughtful tone in there somewhere. Something with Lon Chaney Junior, perhaps? Or Bram Stoker's Dracula?

As I said, back to the drawing board.

Jul 22, 10:01am

Oh dear. I've been going round in circles until I'm in danger of disappearing up my own déjà vu ... and missing the bleeding obvious!

With >135 alaudacorax:'s 'proper horror film', that 'safely' scares us, I should really have been using the term 'Gothic Horror'; meaning films that feature a baroquely-imagined supernatural and big, unsubtle, operatic-style emotions.

Which just leaves me to deal with all the other horror films that don't fit into that category. Should never had made that first post ...

Jul 22, 9:03pm

I think all genres have fuzzy edges. And if there's a border drawn between genres, it can change over time. I'm sure a lot of post Silence of the Lambs thrillers would have been classed as horror if they'd existed 40 or 50 years ago.

Also, the more you learn about a subject, the more subdivisions and subtle distinctions you see (the recent Librarything discussions about Genre demonstrate that quite nicely, I think).

but as well as that, there's the personal response to works of art. you feel some things - films in this instance - have a kinship, "go together" because of how you respond to them. What strikes you as superficial differences might seem to be fundamental differences to someone else. If I tried to put together a "Desert Island Discs" of horror movies I think they would tend towards supernatural rather than non-supernatural, and (I think) emotionally tend towards a sad Romanticism.

If I actually sat down and made a list I don't think gore-heavy "video nasties", or '80s slashers, or psychologically gruelling dramas would make the final cut. But would the list have any coherence to an outside observer - if I ended up with (for example) The Bride of Frankenstein, The Seventh Victim, and Lips of Blood in the list?

Jul 23, 6:51am

I do feel a slight sense of guilt about focusing on film that some people wouldn't even consider Gothic - "too many ghosts", etc - and ignoring vast swathes of stuff from Dragonwyck to Sunset Boulevard to Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? to I don't know what modern and non-anglophone films.

Jul 23, 7:50am

>139 housefulofpaper: - ... a "Desert Island Discs" of horror movies ...

Oo! Interesting thought! I love lists, but that one hadn't occurred to me. It would be fun to give some thought to that one.

Love lists but not very good at them. I've been working for years on a 'top ten all-time favourite movies' list ... currently, there are twenty-four in it ...

Jul 23, 11:10pm

Maybe it's not so much, or only, the limits of the genre, but a question of our age too. Because I don't doubt that I'd have been just as scared by a Hammer film at some point, as by The orphanage as an adult. So something that would have definitely been "horror" at twelve might shift out of that in personal experience, with age, but still get labelled as technically belonging to the genre.

Editado: Jul 24, 3:33am

>142 LolaWalser:

Just realised that The Orphanage is NOT a Guillermo del Toro film. I'd dismissed it reading your previous post and in the past, I think, because his name is on top on the IMDb thumb (just can't get on with his films: couldn't sit through the high profile ones I've tried). So that's one, tiny instance where shady marketing/packaging backfired on them.

It's a despicable practice. I'm still sulking over a decade after buying 'Kenneth Branagh's' Twelfth Night (it was a film by a different director, based on, and not of, a Branagh stage production, and, in my opinion, pretty poor stuff).

I'm sure that, in the UK at least, it should be illegal as false advertising.