Features, Interviews, rare photographs and Transparencies, Posters and Friendly chat at the UK Peter Cushing Appreciation Society Facebook Fan Page. PCASUK established in 1956 and open to everyone worldwide. Celebrating the Peter Cushing Centenary on MAY 26th the anniversary of Peter Cushing's birth.
Friday, 17 May 2013
Tuesday, 14 May 2013
EXCLUSIVE MEDIA TO ROCK INTERNATIONA SALES FOR 3D CONCERT SUSPENSE FILM: METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER
Exclusive Media will present award-winning writer/director Nimród Antal’s (PREDATORS, KONTROLL) captivating 3D concert/suspense film METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER featuring one of music’s most enduring and iconic bands to international buyers at this year’s upcoming Cannes Film Market, it was announced today by Exclusive Media’s President of International Sales and Distribution, Alex Walton.
Starring Metallica members Lars Ulrich, James Hetfield, Kirk Hammett and Robert Trujillo, a cast of thousands of their fans and breakout star Dane DeHaan (CHRONICLE, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2), METALLICA THROUGH THE NEVER is produced by former IMAX film producer Charlotte Huggins (JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH, JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND). The film marries groundbreaking footage and editing techniques with a compelling narrative, in which a crewmember (played by DeHaan) is sent out on a mission during Metallica's roaring live set in front of a sold-out arena. While on this mission, he unexpectedly has his life turned completely upside down.
Picturehouse will distribute the film in North America exclusively in IMAX® theatres on Sept. 27, 2013 and will expand on Oct. 4, 2013.
Alex Walton negotiated the rights deal for the film on behalf of Exclusive Mediawith Picturehouse’s Bob Berney and QPrime's Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch.
“This feature film is a wild and a refreshingly unique cinematic experience – a Metallica extravaganza that will electrify fans and movie-goers around the world,” said Alex Walton.
"After wading through multiple international distribution options for our film, we are excited to be partnering up with the folks at Exclusive Media, who we feel understand Metallica and understand our film better than anyone else," said Metallica's Lars Ulrich. "Throw in the cherry-on-top, launching our international sales with a couple of screenings at the film market during alittle up-and-coming film festival in Cannes, and it feels like we're off to a pretty rockin' start."
Since they formed in 1981, Metallica have gone from anunderground heavy metal band to one of the most influential and commercially successful rock bands in history, with an intensely loyal fan base. Over the course of three decades, Metallica has conquered the world, selling over 100 million albums, 5 million videos and DVDs, playing for millions in concerts all over the world, won multiple awards including nine Grammys and have become the most played artist on rock radio. They created a mass audience for the metal genre and made it possible for many other aggressive-sounding bands to get signed and heard. In 2012 the band earned $86.1 million with 30 shows during their worldwide tour, making them the 8th highest grossing heavy metal/hard rock concert tour of the year.The band crossed over into the film world with the documentary, METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER, directed by acclaimed filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky. Premiering at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, the film was nominated for several critics’ choice awards and appeared on many “Top 10 Films of the Year” lists and won “Best Documentary” at the 2005 Independent Spirit Awards. Their latest album, Death Magnetic, was certified platinum just six weeks after it debuted atop the Billboard Top 200 Album chart in October.
Dane DeHaan is a rising star after headlining 20th Century Fox's box office hit CHRONICLE, The Weinstein Company's LAWLESS directed by John Hillcoat and starring Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman and Guy Pearce and most recently starring opposite Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper in Derek Cianfrance’s critically acclaimed THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES. DeHaan recently completed production on DEVIL’S KNOT opposite Reese Witherspoon and Colin Firth and John Krokidas’ KILL YOUR DARLINGS, based on the life of poet Allen Ginsberg starring Daniel Radcliffe. DeHaan is currently filming Columbia Pictures’ THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 opposite Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, set for release in 2014.
Nimród Antal is best known for writing and directing the acclaimed film KONTROLL, which won numerous awards, including the Award of the Youth at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, the Golden Hugo (main prize) at the Chicago International Film Festival, as well as a European Film Award nomination for Best Director. Antal's box office hits include VACANCY, starring Kate Beckinsale and Luke Wilson, released by Sony, ARMORED, starring Matt Dillon, released by Screen Gems and Robert Rodriguez’s PREDATORS starring Oscar®-winning actor Adrien Brody released by 20th Century Fox.
Charlotte Huggins is one of the most prolific producers of 3D films in the world. Huggins’ credits include worldwide box office hits JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND starring Josh Hutcherson, Dwayne Johnson and Michael Caine and JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH. Huggins’ also produced FLY ME TO THE MOON, a 3D digitally animated film featuring the voice talents of Tim Curry, Nicollette Sheridan, Kelly Ripa, Christopher Lloyd, and a cameo fromformer astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
The UK Peter Cushing Appreciation Society are marking Peter Cushing's Centenary on the 25th May 2013. Join us at BOTH the website http://petercushingblog.blogspot.co.uk/ and our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/petercushingblog for a full 24 hours of competitions, prizes, rare pics and features.
Banner above: Some of Peter Cushing's iconic roles, Van Helsing from Hammer Films 'Brides of Dracula', Baron Frankenstein from 'The Curse of Frankenstein' Arthur Grimsdyke from Amicus films 'Tales From The Crypt', DR Who from 'Dr Who and the Daleks' and 'Daleks Invasion Earth 2150 AD' and Sherlock Holmes from Hammer Films 'The Hound of the Baskervilles'.
Monday, 13 May 2013
At our UK Peter Cushing Appreciation Society Facebook Fan Page, we listened to your requests for a PCASUK Peter Cushing T-Shirt. And here's what we've come up with. Click on the link below, then click on the shirts to place your order. These are fabulous. We hope you like them too. More PCASUK t-shirts to come.
"Great British Horror is proud to announce a new partnership with The UK Peter Cushing Appreciation Society. PCASUK, formed in 1956, is the first and longest-running Peter Cushing club, and can be found online at petercushing.org.uk.To celebrate this partnership, we are pleased to offer two new official PCASUK shirts, designed to commemorate Peter Cushing's centenary in 2013. To order, please visit http://greatbritishhorror.com/shirts/PCASUK/
Sunday, 5 May 2013
Jeff Goldblum (Seth Brundle), Geena Davis (Veronica Quaife), John Getz (Stathis Borans)
Director – David Cronenberg, Screenplay – David Cronenberg & Charles Edward Pogue, Based on the 1958 Film & the Short Story by George Langelaan, Producer – Stuart Cornfeld, Photography – Mark Irwin, Music – Howard Shore, Mechanical Effects – Jon Berg, Makeup Effects – Chris Walas, Production Design – Carol Spier. Production Company – Brooksfilm/20th Century Fox. USA. 1986.
Scientist Seth Brundle meets journalist Veronica Quaife at a scientific conference and tempts her into coming back to his lab to see his revolutionary design for a teleportation device. He persuades her to move in and watch as he irons out the final bugs and write an article about it. The two become lovers. Determined to prove the device works, Brundle climbs into the telepod and transmits himself. The teleportation is successful. Afterwards, Brundle demonstrates amazing physical stamina, but in the following weeks he begins to develop a bad case of eczema and then body parts start dropping off. He then discovers that during the teleportation both he and a housefly that was trapped in the telepod were reintegrated at a basic molecular level and that he is now transforming into a human/fly hybrid.
In pre-release interviews for The Fly, writer/director David Cronenberg recounted a witty story about how as a child he entered a promotional competition when the original The Fly (1958) came out, which challenged people to prove that the film’s premise was not scientifically possible. He succeeded – not a particularly hard task (see discussion of the problems inherent in the original at the above link), but was failed by the theatre management. 28 years later with this remake, Cronenberg was allowed the best possible comeuppance in a way that the theatre management of the time would never have believed possible.
The Fly 1986 came out amid a host of mid 1980s remakes of classic 1950s science-fiction films. In its own way, the original The Fly was a classic monster movie, but its science amok polemics and pitiful “help me, help me”’s were not enough to stand up in the 1980s; David Cronenberg realizes this but he is not interested in making any 1950s type of film. Rather than parodying, quoting or deconstructing the original, Cronenberg takes the basic idea and reworks it in much more fascinating directions. He has thrown out the substantial illogicities and implausibilities that came in the original’s script – that of a fly and a man ending up with either’s body parts jumbled up – and instead makes a much more credible story about the fusion between the two into a hybrid entity. His is a darker, inner vision of the story where the original idea has been colluded with Cronenberg’s frequent bodily horror obsessions. It is more like Franz Kafka’s Metamorphosis (1915) but with more slime.
David Cronenberg’s films are unique mad scientist films. In the 1930s and 40s, mad scientist films were filled with the shock of science going amok and of unleashed monsters wreaking devastating influences on society. In Cronenberg’s films, monstrosity and transformation always has an ambiguity. Cronenberg’s scientists and victims seem to throw themselves at the process of transformation and mutation with fascinated curiosity, ecstatically welcoming their fusion into Other – the sexual ecstasies found in the mutilation of human flesh by auto accident in Crash (1996), or of being taken over by fetish-creating parasites in Shivers (1975). Jeff Goldblum’s Seth Brundle here looks on with a wryly amused air of scientific curiosity, keeping his fallen-off body parts in the bathroom and making sardonic comments about turning his medicine cabinet into “the Brundle Museum of Natural History.” Some people have read The Fly 1986 as a metaphor for AIDS, which a plausible case can be made for, although AIDS was only just emerging into the public spotlight when the film was made. Rather, the film seems to echo and mirror Cronenberg’s peculiar Manichean fascinations with the body as a battleground where the will can operate in one direction but the body can frequently rebel or be taken over by other forces – like the images of people being turned into human VCR’s in Videodrome (1983) or psychological repressions forcing themselves into expression in human flesh in The Brood (1979). For the title creature, Chris Walas created a triumphant mass of rubber latex – which runs all the way from a few unsightly hairs to full mechanical creatures. (Chris Walas won that year’s Academy Award for his work). Unlike its sequel The Fly II (1989), which was in fact directed by Walas, the film finds a character inside all the latex. Here Jeff Goldblum gives a joyous, live-wire performance, which adds a perverse streak of humour to the transformation. Goldblum has rarely been better in a part.
Most fascinating is the weirdness with which Cronenberg and Jeff Goldbum take the obsession, turning Brundle literally, behaviourally into a twitching hyper-kinetic fly, needing to consume large amounts of sugar and stomach-churningly dealing with the problems of digesting solid foods. (Although, one illogical move has Goldblum scaling the walls and ceiling just like a fly would – flies are only able to do so by surface-tension and in having such a minimal body weight, something a human would be too big for). In the final vision, with the Brundelfly turned into a pitifully crying bio-mechanic fusion melded with the telepods, the film achieves a peculiar kind of poetic revulsion, as though it were taking classical mad scientist, creation and laboratory and dissolving them into one.
There is a small tendency to go in for unnecessary gore that cheapens the film occasionally, particularly a dream scene where Geena Davis gives birth to giant slug. (One can also note Cronenberg in the dream sequence cameoing as a gynaecologist, a move that foreshadows the culmination of his gynaecological obsessions in his next film Dead Ringers ). The beautiful pale photography of Mark Irwin and the dark, brooding score of Howard Shore is also worthy of note.
David Cronenberg’s other films are:– Stereo (1969), a little-seen film about psychic powers experiments; Crimes of the Future (1970), a film about a future where people have become sterile; Shivers/They Came from Within/The Parasite Murders (1975) about parasites that turn people into sexual fetishists; Rabid (1977) about a vampiric skin graft; The Brood (1979), a remarkable film about experimental psycho-therapies; Fast Company (1979), a non-genre film about car racing; Scanners (1981), a film about psychic powers; Videodrome (1983) about reality-manipulating tv; The Dead Zone (1983), Cronenberg’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel about precognition; Dead Ringers (1988), Cronenberg’s greatest film, about two disturbed twin gynaecologists; M. Butterfly (1993), a non-genre film about a Chinese spy who posed as a woman to seduce a British diplomat; Crash (1996), Cronenberg’s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s novel about the eroticism of car crashes; eXistenZ (1999), a disappointing film about Virtual Reality; Spider (2002), a subjective film takes place inside the mind of a mentally ill man; the thriller A History of Violence (2005) about an assassin hiding under a different identity; Eastern Promises (2007) about the Russian Mafia; A Dangerous Method (2011) about the early years of psychotherapy; and Cosmopolis (2012), a surreal vision of near-future economic collapse. Cronenberg has also made acting appearances in other people’s films, including as a serial killer psychologist in Clive Barker’s Nightbreed (1990); a Mafia hitman in To Die For (1995); a Mafia head in Blood & Donuts (1995); a member of a hospital board of governors in the medical thriller Extreme Measures (1996); as a gas company exec in Don McKellar’s excellent end of the world drama Last Night (1998); a priest in the serial killer thriller Resurrection (1999); and as a victim in the Friday the 13th film Jason X (2001).
Screenwriter Charles Edward Pogue has also delivered a number of genre scripts, including Psycho III (1986), DragonHeart (1996), Kull the Conqueror (1997) and Hercules (tv mini-series, 2005), as well as a host of Sherlock Holmes tv movies.
The routine sequel was The Fly II (1989). The original Fly movies were The Fly (1958), Return of the Fly (1959) and Curse of the Fly (1965
Monday, 29 April 2013
PRESS RELEASE: JEREMY IRVINE AND PHOEBE FOX CAST IN HAMMER FILMS 'THE WOMAN IN BLACK: ANGLE OF DEATH'
THE FOLLOW UP TO THE GLOBAL BOX OFFICE SMASH REUNITES PRODUCTION TEAM AND WILL BE DIRECTED BY TOM HARPER
Jeremy Irvine (War Horse) and Phoebe Fox (Black Mirror) have signed to star in The Woman In Black: Angel of Death, the follow-up movie from the team behind worldwide box office hit The Woman In Black, which starred Daniel Radcliffe.
The sequel will continue the story four decades later.
Seized by the British government during World War II, the sudden arrival of a group of evacuated children at Eel Marsh House awakens its ghostly inhabitant. Directed by Tom Harper, The Woman In Black: Angel of Death will be produced by Exclusive Media’s Tobin Armbrust and Simon Oakes, Cross Creek Pictures’ Brian Oliver and Talisman Films’ Richard Jackson, in addition to Roy Lee who will serve as executive producer.
The casting was announced by Oakes, president and CEO of Hammer and vice chairman of Exclusive Media, Guy East and Nigel Sinclair, co-chairmen of Exclusive Media, Hammer’s parent company, and Cross Creek Pictures president Oliver and Xavier Marchand, Entertainment One’s president of worldwide distribution.
Screenwriter Jon Croker (Desert Dancer) wrote the screenplay based on an original story by Susan Hill (The Woman In Black). Buyers will be scared into action by Alex Walton, Exclusive Media’s president of international sales and distribution, during the upcoming Marche du Film in Cannes. Entertainment One Films will again co-finance the film and distribute in the U.K., Spain and Canada.
Director Tom Harper said: "Jeremy and Phoebe are fantastic actors to continue The Woman in Black’s chilling tale. I’m looking forward to working with them both on the film and can’t wait to start shooting with the pair."
The Radcliffe starrer, directed by James Watkins, has become the highest grossing British horror film of the past 20 years, grossing more than $130 million worldwide.
Irvine is repped by CAA, Hatton McEwan Penford and Schreck Rose Dapello and Adams.
Fox is repped by WME and the Curtis Brown Group.
Thursday, 25 April 2013
Franky Sakai (Senichiro Fukuda), Jerry Ito (Clark Nelson), Hiroshi Koizumi (Dr Chujo), Kyoko Kakagawa (Michi Hanamura), Emi Itoh & Yumi Etoh (The Aielenias), Ken Uehara (Dr Harada)
Director – Lee Kresel, Screenplay – Robert Myerson, Producer – David B. Horne
Director – Lee Kresel, Screenplay – Robert Myerson, Producer – David B. Horne
Director – Inoshiro Honda, Screenplay – Shinichi Sekizawa, Story – Takehiko Fukunaga, Yoshie Hotta & Shinichiro Nakamura, Producer – Tomoyuki Tanaka, Photography – Hajime Koizumi, Music – Yuji Koschi, Special Effects – Eiji Tsuburaya, Art Direction – Kimer Abe & Takeo Kita. Production Company – Toho. Japan. 1962.
After a ship is wrecked at sea by a typhoon, the survivors are found on an island that was once the site of atomic tests. When asked how they came to be unaffected by the radiation, they say it is because the natives gave them a special juice. The authorities are surprised because it is believed that the island was deserted. The scheming entrepreneur Clark Nelson then announces an expedition to investigate. On the island, Nelson and his team of scientists discover two six-inch tall twin sisters. Nelson captures the twins and takes them back to Japan where he turns them into curiosity exhibits on the stage. Two reporters try to persuade Nelson to heed the sisters’ warnings about the vengeance of the island’s guardian Mothra, a giant-sized moth that is telepathically linked to the twins. Mothra now hatches from its cocoon and heads to Tokyo to rescue its handmaidens, its wings creating vast winds that destroy all in its path.
The Japanese monster movie (the kaiju eiga) had begun with enormous success with Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954). Godzilla spawned an industry that has included 28 sequels and is still going strong five decades after the original came out. There were a huge number of imitators from Japan and other Asian countries. For a few years after Godzilla, Toho tried to create other screen monsters with the likes of Rodan the Flying Monster (1956), Varan the Unbelievable (1958), Gorath (1962), Attack of the Mushroom People/Matango the Fungus of Terror (1963), Dogora the Space Monster (1964) and Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966). Mothra was the most successful of these and is the only other Toho film to have spawned its own remakes and sequels. Godzilla still remained Toho’s most lucrative franchise and almost all of the creatures in the above-listed films were eventually pitted up against it. Indeed, Mothra became the first monster from another Japanese film to take on Godzilla in Godzilla vs the Thing (1964). One suspects the reason that Mothra stood out from the other Japanese monsters is that it has more distinctive personality in comparison to any of the other monsters – where Godzilla was a naked force of aggression, Mothra is clearly a more sympathetic feminine force who is identified with nature, with her rampage being more genteel and less intentionally destructive and angry.
Mothra is one of the best Japanese monster movies from the 1950s-70s period and the next best effort that director Inoshiro Honda put out after the original Godzilla. While most of the later kaiju eiga towards the end of the 1960s and especially into the 70s descended to cheap effects and became increasingly juvenile in focus, Mothra is one entry that clearly strives to transcend this. The scenes of model destruction with the Mothra larva rampaging across the countryside and then its emergence in winged form are especially good. Most importantly, the special effects scenes are built into a strong story. At its oddest, Mothra becomes a fairy-tale of the bizarre, where the eye-poppingly attractive Tohoscope colour and the array of exotic dancers, psychedelic jungles and the miniature twin sisters creates a marvellously colourful world all unto itself. The film holds some incredible beautiful images at times – like the emergence of Mothra from its cocoon, spreading its wings and taking to the sky; or a montage that combines the image of the sisters crossing a wire on a model coach with scenes of the Mothra larva duck-diving through the ocean, all scored to the girl’s inhumanly beautiful voices. Even the depiction of a bombing run becomes something magnificently lyrical.
The underlying metaphor is of course the same old atomic bomb fears that informed Godzilla. The country of Rellisica in the story becomes a thinly disguised stand-in for the US, something that is even further emphasised by the inserts shot for the English-language print that clearly include American freeways. (In the original Japanese print, Rellisica was meant to sound like a combination of Russia and America). One can notice a decided uneasiness in Japan’s viewing of US relations – Rellisica seen as wielding both a sinister economic influence over Japan and yet comfortingly able to step in with military aid at a moment’s notice.
Mothra subsequently encountered Godzilla in Godzilla vs the Thing (1964). With the successful revival of Godzilla franchise in the 1990s using better visual effects and animatronics, this was remade as Godzilla vs Mothra (1992). Mothra was subsequently revived for a trilogy of films Rebirth of Mothra (1996), Rebirth of Mothra II (1997) and Rebirth of Mothra III (1998). Mothra also encountered Godzilla in Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Godzilla Vs the Sea Monster (1966), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla vs Space Godzilla (1994), Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003) and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).
Inoshiro Honda’s other genre films include:- Godzilla, King of the Monsters (1954), Gigantis the Fire Monster/Godzilla Raids Again/The Return of Godzilla (1955), Rodan the Flying Monster (1956), The Mysterians (1957), The H-Man (1958) about a radioactive blob that can dissolve people, the Yeti film Half-Human (1958), Varan the Unbelievable (1958), the space opera Battle in Outer Space (1961), the space opera Gorath (1962), King Kong vs Godzilla (1962), Atragon (1963) about a super-submarine, Attack of the Mushroom People/Matango, Fungus of Terror (1963), Godzilla vs the Thing/Mothra vs Godzilla (1964), Dagora the Space Monster (1964), The Human Vapor (1964) about a gaseous villain, Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Monster Zero/Invasion of the Astro Monster (1965), Frankenstein Conquers the World (1966), War of the Gargantuas (1966), King Kong Escapes (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), Godzilla’s Revenge (1969), the submarine adventure Latitude Zero (1969), Yog – The Monster from Outer Space (1970) and Terror of Mechagodzilla/Monsters from an Unknown Planet (1976)
Friday, 5 April 2013
Marsha Mason (Janice Templeton), Anthony Hopkins (Elliot Hoover), John Beck (Bill Templeton), Susan Swift (Ivy Templeton), Norman Lloyd (Dr Steven Lipscomb), Philip Sterling (Judge Harmon Langley), Robert Walden (Brice Mack), John Hillerman (Scott Velie)
Director – Robert Wise, Screenplay/Based on the Novel by Frank De Felitta, Producers – Frank De Felitta & Joe Wizan, Photography – Victor J. Kemper, Music – Michael Small, Special Effects – Henry Millar Jr, Production Design – Harry Horner. Production Company – United Artists.
Bill and Janice Templeton become concerned about a stranger who keeps following and calling them and sends presents to their 11 year-old daughter Ivy. The stranger introduces himself as Elliot Hoover and tells them how he has come to believe following a trip to India that Ivy is the reincarnation of his daughter Audrey Rose who was killed in a car crash the same day that Ivy was born. He is able to calm Ivy’s recurrent nightmares down by calling her Audrey Rose. Hoover then abducts Ivy but is arrested. His subsequent attempts to argue a case for reincarnation at his trial become a cause celebre.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) gave birth to an enormous cinematic occult horror boom in the 1970s. The boom spawned such successes as The Exorcist (1973), Carrie (1976) and The Omen (1976), each of which propagated their own subgenres of imitators. Audrey Rose came near at the end of that cycle when the genre had successfully established itself among A-budget films and where the theme of evil and/or possessed children was its overriding subject.
Both the film of Audrey Rose and the 1975 Frank De Felitta book it is based on give the feeling of a story that wanted to be something more serious that instead ended up pigeonholed in the horror genre. Screenwriter/original novelist De Felitta’s other works show him as a writer who wants to deal with the supernatural as real (or at least the sort of supernatural that becomes the stuff of tabloid magazines – reincarnation, hauntings, ghost rapes). His novel was set up toward the purpose of placing an argument for reincarnation on a courtroom stand, which must surely stand as the ultimate arbiter of Western rationalism. (In reality though, the case presented here probably would be thrown by any court – whether or not Ivy is the reincarnation of Hoover’s daughter is surely irrelevant, the only thing a court is interested in is the issue at hand – whether or not Hoover abducted Ivy). The film does change the balance of the book somewhat. In the book, the court case took up nearly three-quarters of the story but in the film the court case is reduced to only two or three showcase arguments and presented with considerable bias – no contrary arguments doubting or questioning reincarnation are ever highlighted from the prosecution’s side, for instance.
The film cannot escape the basic fact that it is burdened by a wordy and static script. This however does lead to a unique approach from director Robert Wise who uses the dialogue itself as suspense. Wise hypnotically engages us in Anthony Hopkins’s monologues, where one becomes so enrapt that even small movements like the spilling of a teacup or the relatively uninteresting shot of a door opening behind someone eavesdropping on a conversation is made to hold suspenseful power. There are some effective scenes – particularly the one with burns suddenly appearing on Susan Swift’s hands when she places them on a cold window. However, try as Robert Wise might to turn Audrey Rose into an interesting dramatic film, the material remains solidly unmoving.
The first half of the film, set around Hoover’s bizarre intrusion into the family digs into the 1970s Stranger Danger peril. Hoover’s actions are designed with the intent of making the family anxious – their being followed, anonymous phone-calls, mysterious presents left, the child being abducted from school and from the apartment – without any thought placed into why the otherwise relatively rational Hoover is behaving so creepily. When we come to understand where the character is coming from later in the film, such furtive actions fail to make sense. The film’s generation of Stranger Danger paranoia is ironically so effective that it becomes almost impossible to view Hoover’s motivations normally and it is only through turning of him into a passive wimp for the rest of the film and Anthony Hopkins’s performance that the character succeeds in retaining any sympathy. Far better at engendering sympathy is Marsha Mason who gives an enormously convincing performance in what is essentially a passively handwringing role. Young Susan Swift also manages to comes across as mature and intelligent.
Robert Wise directed a number of classic films including Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965). Wise’s other genre films are:– The Curse of the Cat People (1944) and The Body Snatcher (1945), two classic psychological horror films made for Val Lewton; the human hunting film A Game of Death (1945); the alien visitor classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951); the haunted house classic The Haunting (1963); the Michael Crichton adaptation The Andromeda Strain (1971) and Star Trek – The Motion Picture (1979).
Screenwriter Frank De Felitta has a number of other genre credits. He wrote and produced the overpopulated future film Z.P.G. (Zero Population Growth) (1971); directed/wrote the tv movie Trapped (1973) about a man hunted through a department store by dogs; directed/wrote the supernatural time travel tv movie The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan (1979); directed the American Gothic tv movie The Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981); wrote the interesting ghost story The Entity (1982); and directed/wrote the worthwhile psycho-thriller Scissors (1991).
Images: Marcus Brooks
Images: Marcus Brooks
Tuesday, 2 April 2013
Now celebrating Peter Cushing Centenary Year: The UK Peter Cushing Appreciation Society founded in 1956, now on Facebook Fan Pages. Updated every day with features, interviews and rare images. Our aim is to celebrate the life and career of Peter Cushing. OBE. Over 4,500 images and 200 albums we invite you to browse! Please join us! HERE
Sunday, 31 March 2013
Ray Barrett (Harry Spalding), Noel Willman (Dr Franklyn), Jennifer Daniel (Valerie Spalding), Jacqueline Pearce (Anna Franklyn), Michael Ripper (Tom Bailey), John Laurie (Mad Peter Crockett), Marne Maitland (Malay)PRODUCTION:
Director – John Gilling, Screenplay – John Elder [Anthony Hinds], Producer – Anthony Nelson Keys, Photography – Arthur Grant, Music – Don Banks, Music Supervisor – Philip Martell, Special Effects – Bowie Films, Makeup – Roy Ashton, Production Design – Bernard Robinson. Production Company – Hammer/Seven-Arts.
Harry Spalding, a captain in the Royal Grenadiers, inherits a cottage in a small Cornish village after his brother Charles dies in mysterious circumstances. He moves into the cottage with his wife Valerie. Harry discovers that several locals have been killed by mysterious snake bites. This is also found to have been the cause of Charles’s death. The origin of the snake killings appears to rest with Dr Franklyn who lives in the village mansion. As Harry investigates, he discovers that these are being caused by Franklyn’s daughter Anna who was abducted by a snake cult that Franklyn was researching in Borneo and that she now periodically transforms into a snake creature.
Wednesday, 27 March 2013
'YOU DIDN'T EAT YOUR DINDIN, BLANCHE!' WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE: LOBBY CARD GALLERY AND REVIEW
Bette Davis (Jane Hudson), Joan Crawford (Blanche Hudson), Victor Buono (Edwin Flagg), Maidie Norman (Elvira Stitt), Anna Lee (Mrs Bates), Marjorie Bennett (Della Flagg)
Director/Producer – Robert Aldrich, Screenplay – Lukas Heller, Based on the Novel by Henry Farrell, Photography (b&w) – Ernest Haller, Music – Frank DeVol, Special Effects – Don Steward, Makeup – Monty Westmore, Art Direction – William Glasgow. Production Company – Associates and Aldrich/Seven Arts. USA. 1962.
It is 1917 and Jane Hudson is an enormously popular variety show child star. She is able to get anything she wants and throws tantrums when she does not get it. She is envied by her sister Blanche who vows to one day get even. Blanche’s opportunity comes in the 1930s when she becomes a Hollywood star and Jane is a has-been who has sunken into alcoholism. As the two sisters drive back from a party one night, one gets out to open the gate and the other slips the car into gear and drives forward at them. The accident leaves Blanche paralysed from the waist down. Thirty years later, Jane is left tending the wheelchair-ridden Blanche. However, Jane’s sanity has snapped and she cruelly tortures the helpless Blanche, keeping her imprisoned and feeding dead rats and her pet bird up to her.
With the exception of Psycho (1960) and to a lesser extent Les Diaboliques (1955), What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is the film that had the greatest influence on the prolific psycho-thriller genre of the 1960s. It gave an entirely new impetus to the flagging careers of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, both former Hollywood stars beyond their glory years who subsequently found new careers in horror movies. Indeed, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, with its sight of former Hollywood stars over the hill and going round the bend, created a lurid pseudo-tabloid sub-genre of Grand Guignol Hollywood self-devouring (one that had its antecedent in Gloria Swanson’s swan song, Sunset Boulevard (1950), which was almost a horror film). What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? was followed by a cycle of Grand Guignol psycho films featuring over-the-hill female stars – Olivia De Havilland appeared in Lady in a Cage (1964), Tallulah Bankhead in The Fanatic/Die, Die My Darling (1965), Eleanor Parker in Eye of the Cat (1969), Shelley Winters in What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) and Who Slew Auntie Roo? (1971), Ruth Roman in The Baby (1972), Lana Turner in Persecution (1974), while both Bette Davis and Joan Crawford appeared in several lookalike films – Davis in Hammer’s The Nanny (1965) and The Anniversary (1968), and Crawford in Strait-Jacket (1964), I Saw What You Did (1965) and Berserk (1968). Indeed, Joan Crawford’s own life story was even turned into a Batty Old Dames film of sorts with Mommie Dearest (1981).
When What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? came out, a large part of its success was the shock of seeing the two former stars reduced to monsters. The horror in the film fails to translate so well to today’s teen and twentysomething audiences who often find the film dated and ludicrous because they are not conversant with the film’s context – that it represented a shock trashing of two of the icons of Hollywood glamour in the 1940s. Bette Davis in particular shocked everybody with her completely over-the-top performance. It is a real theatre-rattling barnstormer of a delivery that she gives – and one that garnered her a Best Actress Academy Award nomination. She goes totally bonkers and the results are fascinatingly grotesque to watch. The scene where she in cracked, gargoyle makeup sings a song I’ve Written a Letter to Daddy in a cracked, girl-like voice is a masterpiece of the memorably bizarre and twisted.
Joan Crawford’s fine performance was not unexpectedly overshadowed by Bette Davis but is one that elicits a good deal of pained sympathy. Although such is something that the film seems to misunderstand. The final twist in the ending mutes the horror – seeming to imply that we should forgive Jane for what she has done as Blanche deserved it. A good deal of the venom between the characters was apparently something that existed between the two actresses in real-life with both delighting in spitefully nasty games of one-upmanship on the other on set – there was even a book written about such Bette and Joan: The Divine Feud (1989) by Shaun Considine. The irony that only came out in later years is that the roles were uncommonly close to the truth upon the parts of both actresses – Joan Crawford and Bette Davis were both utterly vain, particularly when it came to their own celebrity, both abused their own family members and both had daughters who wrote books about the cruelty of their parents.
Director Robert Aldrich has the power to shock at his disposal – the dead rat scene always has gross-out impact. There are the odd moments of suspense – the move down the stairs and the balled-up note – although there are also times when the film seems talky, almost too stagy, and needs more drive and tension. Indeed, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a film whose effect lies with the barnstorming theatrics of its two stars rather than as a straight psycho-thriller. (It would make a very interesting revival as a stage play). There is fine black-and-white photography, which only serves to bring out the deliberately unglamorous making-up of its two stars. The other Academy Award nominee among the cast was Victor Buono as Supporting Actor – there is a sly amusement to the scenes with his mother and a piquant charm to his clumsy English mannerdness in the scenes with an outrageously flirting Bette Davis. In recent years, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? has gained the status of a gay cult classic because of its campy over-acting.
The film was later blandly remade as a tv movie What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1991), which was executive produced by Robert Aldrich’s son William. In a piece of freakish stunt casting, the Joan Crawford and Bette Davis roles were played respectively by real-life sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave.
Robert Aldrich later returned with Bette Davis (and it was originally intended Joan Crawford who quit/was fired in mid-production because of the rivalry with Davis) in a follow-up of sorts Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), which is a much better film, if not as famous. Also of interest is Robert Aldrich’s The Killing of Sister George (1968), which returns to the same Hollywood Grand Guignol as What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? although is not a horror film, and his The Legend of Lylah Clare (1969), where a producer attempts to turn Kim Novak into a replica of his dead wife, which hovers for a time on the edge of being a ghost story. In the Hollywood Guignol stakes, Aldrich also produced a further Batty Old Dames psycho film What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969) and Bert I. Gordon’s Picture Mommy Dead (1966) where the spirit of Zsa Zsa Gabor haunts her daughter from out of a painting. Robert Aldrich had a celebrated career that stretched between the 1950s and 1980s, making films such as The Dirty Dozen (1967), The Longest Yard (1974) and The Choirboys (1977). He made several other films of genre interest, including the quasi-sf Mickey Spillane adaptation Kiss Me Deadly (1955), which is perhaps one of the finest of all Hollywood film noirs, and the nuclear missile silo hijacking thriller Twilight’s Last Gleaming (1977).
Novelist Henry Farrell, whose 1960 novel the film was based on, also developed a film career as a result of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?. Farrell furnished the script for Robert Aldrich’s Hush ... Hush, Sweet Charlotte, the novel for the Curtis Harrington-directed Baby Jane copy How Awful About Allan (1970) and the script for Harrington’s What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971), as well as scripts for two tv movies, the haunted house drama The House That Would Not Die (1970) and the clairvoyance thriller The Eyes of Charles Sand (1972).