Archive for the ‘Watching’ Category
An enjoyable 90 minutes was spent at the IFI last Saturday watching 1966’s Dracula, Prince of Darkness. Probably my least favourite of Hammer’s Dracula efforts but it’s not like you can turn down a chance to see any Hammer film on the big screen.
It was the last of the Hammer Dracs that I saw when I was a boy. It never seemed to be on tv and I couldn’t track it down in the big HMV on Grafton Street where I would buy all my Hammers and Universals and B-Movie SF films. When I say “all” we’re talking about twelve VHS cassettes bought over five or six years, though I had a much larger library taped from the tele. I’m kind of sorry that I binned the VHS tapes as I replaced them with DVDs – there would be a reassuringly nostalgic quality to watching them again. Even now, when watching it on DVD, I still expect the tension of the climactic scenes of Quatermass 2 to be broken by the sudden appearance of Frank Bruno flogging bottles of HP Sauce.
For a long time the only thing I knew of Drac PoD was the iconic black and white photo featured in Alan Frank’s HORROR MOVIES book.
And the equally striking image contained in Denis Gifford’s A PICTORIAL HISTORY OF HORROR MOVIES.
The film is just about okay. Barbara Shelley is always good, and Christopher Lee can’t be beat, even though he doesn’t actually say a word and is on screen for all of about 3 minutes. His hissing is impressive though. The second act drags along at a painfully slow pace, I think that’s what kills it. The opening act and the final ten minutes are really rather good.
I’m not sure how much the other patrons enjoyed it: a sweaty-browed pillock behind me fell asleep and started to snore loudly until his friend woke him up. I’ve admitted that the second act drags a little, but come on. Then the woman sitting two seats over casually kicked her shoes off and dangled her fetid feet over the backrest of the empty seat in front of her. What’s that about? I don’t mean to sound like Dean Tavalouris here but seriously, what is wrong with people?
The cinema was all but sold out, and nearly everyone was polite enough to keep their shoes on. They should show more of these old horror films.
Further to Cliff Twemlow’s The Pike, here’s some archive footage detailing 1982’s sadly aborted movie version featuring Twemlow, Joan Collins, and the brilliantly awful mechanical pike.
In this documentary Twemlow informs us that “the largest pike ever caught was nineteen foot.” A statement so wrong I am going to pretend that it is true from now on.
I just watched Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb for the first time in maybe ten years. A great film, one of my favourites from Hammer, even if it does expect us to believe that a suburban semi has a basement large enough for full scale replicas of Egyptian tombs and an incinerator capable of disposing of a human body with plenty of legroom to spare. But what the hell, that’s not really the most far-fetched thing in the film. I’d only ever seen it on murky VHS, taped from a late night Channel 4 broadcast from around 1990, so it was nice to see it on a decent DVD transfer.
Through the extras I was reminded that Peter Cushing had originally been cast as Fuchs, but had to pull out after only one day of filming due to his wife becoming gravely ill. Andrew Keir replaced him.
So I thought I’d fire up google and see if I could find any further info. Autocomplete’s top result turned out to be much more frightening than the film itself.
More people are bleeding from their anuses than are searching for information on this fine film. What hope for the world? Anyway, here’s a nice picture of Peter Cushing and Valerie Leon taken on the first day of filming, and a trailer.
Still lots of debate as to whether this one’s real or not but a good’un nonetheless.
It was mentioned in Time magazine in November 1943. “The autojector can also keep a dog’s heart beating outside its body, has kept a decapitated dog’s head alive for hours—the head cocked its ears at a noise and licked its chops when citric acid was smeared on them.”