karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Cinema)
Saturday started with The Toxic Avenger, the Troma classic. Unfortunately, this was a museum archive print so the then UK theatrical release meaning it was cut to shreds but still enjoyable in that hammy, schlock horror way, even if some bits were a bit iffy by today's standards. Overall fun, though.
Next up, Captain Clegg, a classic Hammer feature with Peter Cushing playing a vicar but not a real horror film (despite having phantoms) but a tale of smuggling and defiance in the late 18th century. Good production values for the time, excellent acting, good story and a secret that wasn't too obvious. Deserved applause afterwards.
Then back to the Eighties with Vamp in which a group of college students get in the way of Grace Jones playing a stripping vampire (or a vampire stripper?). Very cheesy, sometimes a bit slow at times but ultimately passable.
After a look at a few pieces of the museum's Hammer collection, the next treat was Barbarella which needs no introduction but has an appalling rating of 5.8 on imdb. I think this was the first time I saw it in one piece, a great piece of cinematic history.
After a quick hop to Subway for sustenance, Grindhouse was the theme of the next film, I Drink Your Blood with a band of satanist and later rabid hippies terrorising a small town. The hydrophobia symptom of rabies was used to great comedic effect and despite the print suffering from a strong magenta cast and a breakage in between, it was rather excellent. More a proper horror film than full on exploitation.
The final bit for me today was first an interview with Harley Cokeliss, a rather prolific director, writer and producer in the genre, incl. second unit director of Empire Strikes Back. This was very interesting indeed, especially (at leaset for me) when he talked about his work on Empire which gave a fascinating insight into the making of of the film, for example in how the scenes in the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon were shot (shots facing into the cockpit with no windows visible were directed by Kershner, while shots facing outwards, i.e. requiring blue screen and post processing were shot by Cokeliss). I only realised when it was over that the interview lasted almost an hour. He obviuosly also talked about Battletruck the film that was shown afterwards, anecdotes about the making of and defending some critics' opinion that it was ripping off Mad Max when both films were actually conceived independently at the same time.
Battletruck (also called Warlords of the 21st Century) is a post-war film set in a near future. The titular Battletruck is the villain's vehicle which the heroes of the film fight against. The film featured mayhem, murder, betrayal and action, the vehicles were brilliant and it was a good Saturday night romp, deserving more than the 4.5 it has on imdb. The film was scheduled against The Rocky Horror Picture Show and while that is good fun, I wanted to see a film I otherwise might not be able to and I'm glad I did because the interview was superb.
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Cinema)
First, I caught the first half our of Flesh and Blood, a documentary about the history of Hammer. This would have been rather interesting, especially with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing narrating and it being a proper cut (not what shown on TV) but I really wanted to see Big Trouble in Little China in 70mm, one of my teenage favourites so it was good to see it on the big screen again and a cut that continued a few bits I couldn't remember having seen.
Next up was The Monster Squad, a teen horror comedy that was completely unknown to me and it was right up my street. Of course it was cheesy and played off all the stereotypes but it was good fun. Considering there is no German Wikipedia entry for the film and according to imdb it's only been released on DVD in 2011 in Germany, that might be the reason I didn't know it.
The short films are usually a mixed bag but except for Buddy Yeah! which was one of the most disturbing stop-motion animation pieces I've seen. Chomp! was a brilliant very short film about a zombie couple, Decapoda Shock was a quirky mixed media space exploration/lobster mutant film (and has a well deserved 8.5 rating on imdb), Perished was quite run-off-the mill zombie flick, Once it Started it Could Not End Otherwise was another quirky bit constructed from photos with subtitles, The Hunting Ground was a Finnish film about two men's fate in the countryside, The Little Mermaid was another rather bizarre story without dialogue and finally Bear was an Australian short about a surprise going horribly wrong. All good entertainment.
Shockingly, I forewent the original Fright Night for the screentalk with Renée Glynne (one of Hammer's continuity ladies) and the restored print of The Quatermass Xperiment. The interview was interesting and fun and the film was excellent for its age, just marred when halfway through audio and picture went out of sync more and more until the delay was over two seconds by the end. ETA: I later found out this being due to an NTSC picture with a PAL audio track.
The last film of the day was The Casebook of Eddie Brewer, a new Brtish documentary style POV film following the work of a paranormal investigator. As it wasn't in the programme, I didn't know what to expect and when it started, I thought "Oh no, not another shaky cam film" but it turned out to be excellent, so much better than any of the recent big productions like Paranormal Activity etc. and the rest of the audience shared my opinion. The director and producers were there as well and talked a little about the film. It was only the second showing in the UK (first the Flatpack Festival in Birmingham) and after this they're touring the US. Not sure if it will get a UK wide release at the cinema but there will be a DVD.

So yes, an enjoyable first day at FFW. Bring on tomorrow with lots of Troma and Hammer films and Barbarella. :o)
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Default)
The Fantastic Films Weekend is an annual, three-day festival of horror, fantasy and SciFi films at the National Media Museum in Bradford.
I'd arrived already arrived on Thursday evening, had a good night's sleep and was ready for the onslaught of films I was going to watch.
The first film was Bloodbath at the House of Death. Only knowing that Vincent Price was in it and having cultural reference fail regarding Kenny Everett, I had no idea what to expect, not an early slasher horror, but a horror comedy, a farce even (the fact that John Fortune was in it should have been a giveaway). As soon as I had realised what was going on and switched my mindset, it was incredibly good fun. Extremely cheesy and bad but in a good way. I can only recommend trying to find this on DVD.

Then, the seminal Horror Express. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and later in a surprise role as a Kosak captain, Telly Savalas fight an ancient evil unleashed on the Transibirian Express. This film is shown at the fest each year so most attendees know it inside out and anticipate and play along with certain lines and scenes. On your own with the DVD on your TV this might be a bad film but among a group of likeminded people on the big screen, this is glorious.

Afterwards, a Horizon special in TV Heaven (the section of the museum devoted to television) on SciFi which had interviews with the likes of Arthur C Clarke and Asimov talking about their visions. Now, 60 years on, very fascinating indeed in terms of their predictions and what has and hasn't become reality. This documentary also contains the only surviving clips of Peter Sasdy's adaption of the Asimov story The Caves of Steel. Sasdy was at the screening and it was the first time he'd actually seen any of it as he hadn't received a copy of the finished product and the BBC wiped the material (along with many other early productions).

My first film in the evening was Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, the extremely cheesy Hammer/Kung Fu crossover with Peter Cushing as Van Helsing for the last time. This bizarre crossover of Hammer horror and Kung Fu action worked for some reason (Dracula travels to China to revive the titular Chinese vampires) or possibly because the combination was so weird. There was spontaneous applause from the audience after the first mass fight scene, for example. If I had to state one negative it would be that the final confrontation was rather rushed and anti-climactic.

Then, a quick jog to the Cubby (the other screen at the museum) for the screentalk with Peter Sasdy, veteran director of both classic TV and Hammer films. I enjoyed this immensely, not just because of the insight he gave into his work and the amusing anecdotes but also his genuine honesty and modesty. What a wonderful person. He answered questions from the audience willingly and extensively and afterwards very happily signed autgraphs and chatted to the attendees.

Then, the midnight screamer, the director's cut of The Exorcist in a beautiful print. The Pictureville screen was very well filled indeed and not just by festival attendees (all screenings are open to the public with the festival passes granting a free ticket to any film) but others who came for the chance to see this classic on the big screen. This cut isn't my favourite as it's a bit too long in places but it was still excellent and so much better on the big screen than on TV.

First up, the original Clash of the Titans, with wonderful stop motion creatures by Ray Harryhausen. I'd seen it quite a few times on telly but never on the big screen so that was a treat I didn't want to miss.

Next, the TV version of Hound of the Baskervilles with Peter Cushing as Holmes. It was alirght, had a few good moments but was stretched too long (originally aired as two 50 minute episodes).

The first set of shorts with the subtitle Suffer The Little Children was next on my list. These were hit and miss, the first one, The Happy Children, an almost Lovecraftian account of a seaside town (filmed in Whitby) which wasn't bad at all, Darkness Within was pointless torture porn, Endless was a weird slow-motion thing with some interesting SFX, Intercambio was pseudo-artsy rubbish about cannibalism in war times but then, CLICK with a group of kids exploring an abandoned warehouse and playing with a lightswitch. This was superb, very simply made but very effective and the young actors were excellent. The last one, The Elemental about something horrible occupying the staircase of an old apartment building was also good, with some tense moments and a good, moody atmosphere. Two photos, Mark Goodall, director of The Happy Children, and William Prince, director of CLICK:
Mark Goodall William Prince

The evening began with Twins of Evil, classic Hammer fare (the third in the von Karnstein trilogy of four and in my opinion the best) with Peter Cushing (oh look, there he was again) as a Puritan witch hunter, an evil vampire lord in a castle and the two titular twins who were mostly clad in flimsy nightgowns. Very entertaining and especially the candle fondling had everyone in stitches.

To conclude the evening, I shunned Rutger Hauer's Hobo with a Shotgun in favour of the Vincent Price double bill. First, a TV interview (by David Del Valle) called The Sinister Image which was both insightful and entertaining and then An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe, four of Poe's stories, recited by Price, sitting in a set. Very good indeed.
First film was Let's Scare Jessica to Death, a bit of a slow burner with a mostly hysterical main character but it had some OK passages. The magenta print probably didn't help.

Next up was C.H.U.D., a fun radioactive monster film with an underhanded political message but mostly fun, well paced and really enjoyable. Cheesy fun, perfect for an early Sunday afternoon, one of the highlights of the day for me.

Then, the "British Horror Revival" collection of shorts. These were divided among two filmmakers, Ashley Thorpe (who randomly happens to sit at our table right now) and Rob Nevitt.
The former showed three films (or, 2 and a half, as the second died during the screening), Hammer influenced mixed media animations. Really interesting stuff.
Nevitt's work was more conventional film work, with one being shot on one Super 8 cartridge without any post editing of a brutal picnic and the last one, Mortified being a kid's party gone horribly wrong.
Ashley Thorpe Rob Nevitt

The final Hammer film today was Countess Dracula in which the seminal (and luscious) Ingrid Pitt played Elizabeth Bathory. It was the first time I'd seen it and I really liked it. It wasn't as cheesy as the others but genuinely moving in places and well done, too.

After a quick dinner I headed into the Cubby for the last time for Herbert West: Re-Animator which turned out to be the most complete and uncut version I've seen (a print sourced from a private collection in the US). It made for a highly entertaining and thrilling conclusion to another awesome Fantastic Films Weekend, prompting spontaneous applause both during and after the film.

Before he introduced the film, the festival director Tony Earnshaw stated that due to current economic climate the future of the festival might be in danger. However, this year's was the most successful and well attended so this gives hope for the future and with increased coverage by the media, blogs and social media, we will hopefully see another one. If you would like to spread the word, contact details are on the website. Here's Tony:
Tony Earnshaw
karohemd: by LJ user gothindulgence (Phantasm)
Yay and w00+, the website is live early this year! Still a bit barren without full schedule and hotel info (I guess it'll be the new Jurys Inn rather than the Midland).
It's the 10th anniversary this year and it looks like it's going to be a classics extravaganza.
Can't wait to see the gang ([livejournal.com profile] miss_s_b, [livejournal.com profile] matgb, [livejournal.com profile] pmoodie and El and the rest of them) again (and I have a dinner date with @Crawther :D)

Apart from the regulars, anyone else interested?

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