Friday, 28 June 2013

The BFI's Gothic season is taking Britain to the dark heart of cinema

August 2013 – January 2014    TWITTER: #BFIGothic @BFI

This week, the BFI unveiled GOTHIC: THE DARK HEART OF FILM, their blockbuster season celebrating one of Britain’s biggest cultural exports - outside of Shakespeare of course - through four themes Monstrous, The Dark Arts, Haunted and Love is a Devil

With over 150 titles, including Masque of the Red Death and Witchfinder General starring Vincent Price, and around 1000 screenings, plus DVD releases and a host of special events, Gothic celebrates the very British genius, rooted in literature and art, that gave rise to some of the most filmed characters in our on-screen history: Dracula, Frankenstein and Jekyll & Mr Hyde, and introduced the nation to sex, unleashing dark passions and breaking taboos along the way.

Is this really Chris Lee's cape from 1958's Dracula?

Heather Stewart, Creative Director, BFI said ‘With BFI Gothic Britain will be filled with dread and fuelled by lust. Gothic has never been more potent or popular, reflecting the turbulent times we are living in, our deepest fears and hidden passions. The British discovered sex in vivid Technicolor through Gothic. With a new generation gripped by the post modern Gothic world of Twilight’s ‘vegetarian’ vampires, Harry Potter’s spells and EL James’s 50 Shades, its meaning has mutated yet again. It’s now time to look back into the deep dark beating heart of Gothic film and give audiences the authentic thrill of this shape-shifting, perennially popular genre.’


• A four-month season of film, television and events ever to be held at BFI Southbank with special guests appearing on stage alongside exclusive previews including Roger Corman, George  Romero and many more.

• The BFI Monster Weekend at the British Museum with outdoor screening of restored versions of Night of the Demon, Dracula and The Mummy (29/30/31 August).

• Working with The National Trust to create unique events at historic places like Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and The Sticklebarn Pub in the Lake District.

• A partnership with Film4 celebrating cinema's ‘Dark Arts’ over the Hallowe’en period.

• A special talk at Somerset House on 15 August by Jasper Sharp on ‘Asian Gothic and the Japanese Ghost Story’.

• The Edinburgh International Festival (9 August-1 September) presents composer Philip Glass’s magical reimagining of Jean Cocteau’s 1946 La Belle et la BĂȘte.

• Working with the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in conjunction with their ‘Witchcraft & Wicked Bodies’ exhibition, (27 July-3 November) and Filmhouse Edinburgh, which will be presenting a Gothic season of films and events.

• A major BFI Education programme inspiring a Gothic imagination in younger audiences, launching on Friday 13 September.

• Outdoor screening of The Shining (1980) at Mapledurham House, Oxfordshire (13 September).

Nationwide BFI cinema releases of Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre – launching with Hallowe’en previews – and  Jack Clayton’s The Innocents, released on 13 December.

• Eight DVD releases with DVD and Blu-ray premieres, including the BBC TV adaptation of Sheridan Le Fanu’s Schalcken the Painter and younger viewers, Bumps in the Night; three scary stories from The Children’s Film Foundation film library.

• The illustrated new BFI publication Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film, featuring essays by Guillermo del Toro, Sir Christopher Frayling, Roger Corman, Mark Kermode and Jane Goldman.

• A Gothic double bill on 26 October at Cornerhouse Manchester.

• A partnership with Abertoir: Wales' International Horror Festival (5 – 10 November)

• A partnership with Angels Fancy Dress, who supplied the Dracula cape and costume for the launch.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

RIP Richard Matheson (1926-2013) - author, screenwriter, legend

The news that American author and screenwriter Richard Matheson has passed away this week (23 June) at the age of 87 has filled me with sadness. His massive body of work was hugely influential in the world of science fiction just as the late Ray Bradbury (who left us in June of last year) was in the field of fantasy fiction. 

On screen, I will forever remember Matheson as the writer of many of Roger Corman's Poe films starring Vincent Price.
1960 The Fall of the House of Usher (screenplay) 

1961 Master of the World (screenplay) 

1961 Pit and the Pendulum (screenplay) 

1962 Tales of Terror (screenplay) 

1963 The Raven (writer) 

1963 The Comedy of Terrors (novel - uncredited screenplay)

But my favourite work of his remains 1954's I Am Legend, which has been adapted for the screen three times – first with Vincent in 1964's underrated The Last Man on Earth (as Logan Swanson), then with Chuck Heston in 1971 classic The Omega Man, and finally in that Will Smith one. 

RIP Richard. Thanks for taking me beyond the stars and beyond the limits of my imagination.

If you'd like to share your favourite Richard Matheson titles on Twitter, then use the hashtag #RIPMatheson, otherwise please leave a comment below.


Saturday, 15 June 2013

Kensal Green Cemetery | The Theatre of Blood film location is having an Open Day

In the 1973 film Theatre of Blood, in which Vincent Price's Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart takes delicious revenge on the critics who spurned him, one of the film's key scenes took place at Kensal Green Cemetery, the first of the 'Magnificent Seven' garden-style cemeteries in London. 

Hector's grave was sited in front of the Anglican Chapel portico
Disguised as a gravedigger, Lionheart watched 'in the wings' as the body of Hector Snipe (Dennis Price) was dragged behind a horse in full view his horrified theatre critic colleagues, in a bloody re-enactment of Hector's demise the hands of Achilles in Shakespeare's play Troilus and Cressida.

The Anglican Chapel portico in the film and today
In another scene, which takes place within The Anglican Chapel, Lionheart's daughter Edwina (Diana Rigg) visits her supposedly dead father's memorial and is quizzed by Peregrin Devlin (Ian Hendry).

Lionheart's memorial is actually the tomb of Robert Sievier

This monument was altered for the film. It belongs to sculptor and inventor Robert William Sievier (1794-1865), and shows the sculpted figures of a seated man, one hand placed on the head a woman kneeling in adoration, while the other holds the Bible, its pages opened to a passage in the Book of Luke. For the film, plaster masks of Price and Rigg were substituted for the statue's real ones, the Bible became a volume of Shakespeare and there is a suitable engraving at the front with Lionheart's name and dates.

If you have ever wanted to visit the location, then the Kensal Green Cemetery Open Day on Saturday 22 June 2013 is a perfect opportunity. It hosts tours of the cemetery and the catacombs, a range of stalls and also a display of classic hearses. It's free and fun and here's the link if you want more information.

Address: 385 Ladbroke Grove, London, NW10 5JX

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Aliens in the Mind | The 1977 radio drama starring Vincent Price and Peter Cushing | Airs Saturday 15 June, BBC Radio 4 Extra

Saturday 15 June, BBC Radio 4 Extra, 6:30pm

Starring Vincent Price and Peter Cushing.
Also featuring Henry Stamfer, Sandra Clark, Shirley Dickson, Irene Tucklef, Fraser Carr, Andrew Spear, Steve Titus, Joan Matheson, William Eagle, Clifford Norgate, Michael Harver, James Thomlinson, Richard Herndle and Joan Benom.
Writers: Robert Holmes and Rene Bijenico
Producer: John Dyre
Effects: Chris Jenkins 

Two doctors head to the remote Scottish island of Luig to attend a colleague's funeral. During their visit to the village they question how he died and in their research find that he actually died of supernatural causes

1 01-02-77 0:27:00
2 01-09-77 0:27:00
3 01-16-77 0:27:20
4 01-23-77 0:27:20
5 01-30-77 0:26:40
6 02-06-77 0:27:20

'Cushing is the perfect gentleman investigator, while Price could be reading a tax return and it would still be gripping. It might be old but this screams quality, just as loudly as that howling wind.' Radio Times (Jane Anderson)

Click here for the official Radio 4 Extra website

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story on Sky Arts 1 HD tonight at 11pm

Spine Tingler: The William Castle Story
Thursday, 6 June at 11pm , Sky Arts 1 HD (Sky 129, Virgin 281)
Another chance to see the
brilliant documentary about the life and work of famous B-Movie producer and director William Castle. A master of publicity, Castle started making cheap horror films in the late 1950s, luring audiences to such films as The Tingler and The House on Haunted Hill with a battery of gimmicks, including 3D effects, fake skeletons and cinema seats hooked up to vibrating buzzers. With contributions from John Waters, Terry Castle, John Landis and Roger Corman among others.

Watch The Tingler trailer here

Watch The House on Haunted Hill here