Horror, Fantasy & Sci-Fi's Epic Failures: CFQ Podcast 14:2.3 – Black Hole Ultra-Lounge Podcast

Tombs of the Blind Dead train sequence
The unfortunate result of a failed rescue attempt in TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD.

Take a trip past the event horizon and dive into the Black Hole – the Black Hole Ultra-Lounge Podcast, that is. Join Cinefantastique correspondents Dan Persons, Lawrence French and Steve Biodrowski as they embark on the debut episode of this new podcast, spun off from the Cinefantastique Round Table Podcast. This week’s prime topic is the Most Epic Failures in the History of Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Films. We’re not talking about box office failure; we mean the best laid plans of mice and men that go horribly awry on screen. Was stopping the train really such a good idea in TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD (ask the passengers – if you can find any alive!)? Was opening the Ark of the Covenant really such a good idea in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (ask the Nazis!)? And was creating an artificial being really such a good idea in THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and its sequels (ask the Baron!).
Also this week, chit-chat about various topics, ranging from HANNA TO HYENAS. So sit back with a glass of Romulan ale and enjoy the smooth swinging sounds of Outer Space in the Black Hole Ultra-Lounge.


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R.I.P. Ingrid Pitt

VampireLovers_IngridPittThe BBC announced that horror movie icon Ingrid Pitt passed away today. She was 73.
Born Ingoushka Petrov in 1937 Poland, Ingrid Pitt would survive the German occupation and internment in a concentration camp. Fluent in several languages, she appeared in both Spanish films and American television (IRONSIDE) before landing an attention-getting role with stars Clint Eastwood and Richard Burton in WHERE EAGLES DARE (1968).
That  high-profile WWII action film would help lead to her winning the part of Marcilla/Carmilla, actually the revived and passionate vampire Mircalla Karnstein in Hammer Studios THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970). Based on Sheridan Le Fanu’s story Carmilla , this film (directed by the recently deceased Roy Ward Baker See Obit) would push the boundaries of Hammer’s vampires over the edge of subtle hints of the erotic, into a frank and direct exploitation of the material. This new territoty would feature nudity and a blood-sucker interested in both men and women —mostly fetching, full-bosomed women .
Ingrid Pitt would show vampiric tendencies, literal and figurative, in COUNTESS DRACULA and Amicus’ THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD (both 1971), making her a favorite among horror movie fans. She also did television and voice-over work.
Other genre roles included THE OMEGANS, THE WICKER MAN (1973), TRANSMUTATIONS (1986),  as well as two DOCTOR WHO serials The Time Monster (1972) and Warriors of the Deep (1984).

As Queen Galleria in DOCTOR WHO (with Roger Delgado)
As Queen Galleria in DOCTOR WHO (with Roger Delgado)

In recent years, Ingrid Pitt met many fans at various conventions, eager to compliment her on her work, and as being a fondly remembered part of their youth.
Ingrid Pitt vampire Ingrid Pitt with cat Clint Eastwood, Ingrid Pitt in WHERE EAGLES DARE Ingrid Pitt in "The Cloak" episode of THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD

RIP Roy Ward Baker – Genre Director

Roy_Ward_BakerRoy Ward Baker, UK film director best known to genre fans for his Horror and Science Fiction films for  Hammer Studios, passed away Tuesday October 5th, 2010.
With a long career in the British film industry, beginning as a ‘tea boy’ or ‘gofer’ at Gainsbourgh Studios, Baker’s first film was THE OCTOBER MAN, a murder mystery starring John Mills as an amnesiac suspect.
His best remembered work is likely A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1958), a very well-received version of the sinking of the Titanic.
Roy Baker (as he was sometimes billed) moved into television, directing episodes of THE AVENGERS and THE SAINT. THE FICTION MAKERS (1968)  was made into a feature film from two of Baker’s episodes of  the Roger Moore series, an amusing caper film that spoofed the Bond movies. THE CHAMPIONS, MY PARTNER THE GHOST (Randal and Hopkirk, Deceased) and DEPARTMENT S were among his TV genre credits.

FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH
FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH

In 1967, he directed FIVE MILLION YEARS TO EARTH (aka Quatermass and The Pit), based on Nigel Kneale’s SF/Horror multi-part television play. This is one of the true classics of the genre, made by Hammer Films.
His next SF picture for Hammer was the “space western” MOON ZERO TWO (1969), which featured Catherine Schell (SPACE: 1999).
He then directed the horror films THE VAMPIRE LOVERS, SCARS OF DRACULA, and DOCTOR JEKYLL & SISTER HYDE for the British studio.
For their rivals Amicus, he helmed the horror Anthologies ASYLUM,  THE VAULT OF HORROR, and the gothic feature AND NOW THE SCREAMING STARTS.
Back with Hammer, he directed the English language scenes of THE LEGEND OF THE SEVEN GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974, aka The Seven Brothers Meet Dracula), the studio’s last-ditch effort to continue their Dracula series by mixing it with Hong-Kong style Kung Fu action. This was Peter Cushing’s last performance as a Van Helsing.
Cushing & Mills in THE MASKS OF DEATH
Cushing & Mills in THE MASKS OF DEATH

In 1984 he would work with Cushing and Sir John Mills as Holmes and Watson in THE MASKS OF DEATH (aka Sherlock Holmes and The Masks of Death) for Tyburn Films, with  several other ex-Hammer individuals such as Anthony Hinds also involved. It was released as a theatrical film in a few areas, but as a TV movie in others.
He continued to work in television into the 1990’s.

Bond vs Machete & Anticipating Resident Evil 4: CFQ Post-Mortem Podcast 1:30.1

post-mortem podcast graphi copy

Summer’s gone and so is the Cinefantastique Podcast’s Summer Wrap-up Episode. In its wake, Dan Persons, Lawrence French, and Steve Biodrowski debates the merits of classifying James Bond as a member in good standing of the science fiction and/or fantasy genre, while omitting Machete. Also, good news for cult horror fans: numerous titles from Hammer Films and American International Pictures recently became available on Netflix Instant Viewing, some of them not available on DVD. All this and more discursive discussion on this week’s Post-Mortem Podcast…


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Classic Horror from Hammer and AIP on Netflix Instant Viewing

Adrienne Corri and Anthony Corlan in VAMPIRE CIRCUS
Adrienne Corri and Anthony Corlan in VAMPIRE CIRCUS

This week, Netflix added a bloody barrel-full of horror movies from the 1960s and ’70s to their list of titles available for Instant Viewing. Many of these are classics made by Hammer Films in England or by American International Pictures in the U.S. In some cases, the titles are not available on DVD, so this is a much-needed opportunity for fans to have access to them.
Here is a brief rundown:

  • THE COMEDY OF TERRORS: a 1963 AIP production, with horror stars Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Basil Rathbone sending themselves up.
  • THE CRIMSON CULT: a weak 1968 British effort, distinguished only by the presence of horror stars Barbara Steele, Boris Karloff, and Christopher Lee (not on DVD).
  • DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN: Vincent Price is back as the abominable Doctor, this time outracing a rival (Robert Quarry) for the secret of eternal life.
  • HANDS OF THE RIPPER: a 1917 Hammer horror in which the spirit of Jack the Ripper may live on in his daughter (not on DVD).
  • THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH: Vincent Price stars as Prince Prospero in this, the best of Roger Corman’s Poe adaptations.
  • THE RAVEN:  an amusing 1963 horror-comedy from Roger Corman, with Vincent Price, Peter Lorre, Boris Karloff, and Hazel Court.
  • TALES OF TERROR: a triptych of Poe tales from Corman, with Price, Rathbone, and Lorre.
  • THEATRE OF BLOOD: Vincent Price plays a Shakespearian actor out to kill the critics who denied him an award. Ghoulish, bloody, and funny.
  • TOMB OF LIGEIA: Corman’s 1965 swan song to the Poe cycle is another fine effort, this time with an emphasis on doomed romance, with Vincent Price and Elizabeth Shepherd.
  • THE VAMPIRE LOVERS: a 1970 Hammer production based on J. Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla, starring Ingrid Pitt as the eroticaly charged vampire countess.
  • VAMPIRE CIRCUS: a 1972 tale of a travelling circus that arrives at a town quarantined by a plague, this is one of the best Hammer films from this era; it pushed the envelope, moving from sexual innuendo to actual sex (not on DVD).

The key titles here are HANDS OF THE RIPPER and VAMPIRE CIRCUS, due to their lack of DVD availability; these are truly worth checking out. THE CRIMSON CULT is also not available on DVD, but it is of lesser interest.
So far, I have sampled only a portion of DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN. The picture quality (with a high-speed internet connection through a Roku box to a high-def television) is quite good but clearly not up to the level of a Blu-ray disc – closer to DVD.
UPDATE: I finished watching the DR. PHIBES sequel and I am pleased to say that the version shown on Netflix includes the correct music at the end: Vincent Price singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN is one of many AIP films that suffered soundtrack problems when originally released to video, with original cues replaced by alternate tracks. In this case, the effectiveness of the ending was totally ruined by the use of inappropriate music, so it is nice to report that the this problem has not been repeated here.

Let Me In release date & photos

Let Me In (2010) posterOverture Films releases this rather unnecessary remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, the wonderful Swedish vampire film from 2008. Kodi Smith McPhe plays unhappy 12-year-old, bullied at school, who finds a new friend when the mysterious Abby (Chloe Moretz) moves in next door. Matt Reeves (CLOVERFIELD) wrote and directed LET ME IN, officially based on the source novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist. Richard Jenkins, Elias Koteas, Sasha Barrese, and Cara Buono fill out the cast; plus there’s someone named V.J. Foster playing the “Original Vampire,” a character not seen in LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.
LET ME IN was produced by the recently reborn Hammer Films, a new version of the company that changed the face of horror in the ’50 and ’60s with their robust and colorful Gothic thrillers like HORROR OF DRACULA and KISS OF THE VAMPIRE.
Release Date: October 1, 2010
Let Me In (2008): Kodi Smith-McPhee and Chloe Moretz Let Me In (2008) Let Me In (2008): Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee Let Me In (2008): Kodi Smit-McPhee

Hammer Glamour Star Marie Devereux: A Celebration of 1960 Pictorial

Marie Devereux as the silent temptress
Marie Devereux as the silent temptress

While surfing the Internet searching for images to illustrate the various reviews and retrospectives we are compiling as part of our ongoing tribute to the Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Films of 1960, I have encountered more than a few of Marie Devereux, the stunning beauty who appeared in a handful of Hammer films, including two memorable titles from the year in question, THE BRIDES OF DRACULA and THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY.
According to Hammer Glamour by Marcus Hearn, Devereux’s real name was Patricia Sutcliffe, and she first earned attention as a voluptuous model posing in cheesecake magazines. She may not have been much of an actress (she remains mute in both her Hammer horror appearances), but her looks were striking indeed. She was more than just sexy; she had a certain domineering demeanor that registered as dangerous on screen, which made her memorable even though her roles are mostly eye candy. With a little assist from director Terence Fisher, she especially stands out in THE STRANGLERS OF BOMBAY; Fisher turns her into an icon of temptation that leads men into fatal danger.
Devereux’s acting career did not pan out; her  movie resume dries up after the mid-1960s. But those two appearances are enough to earn her a small place in horror movie history, which we celebrate here with this selection of photos.
MarieDevereux in The Stranglers of Bombay (1960) The Brides of Dracula (Marie Devereux on right) The Brides of Dracula (Marie Devereux on left)
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'Let Me In' – Trailer

Here’s the international trailer for LET ME IN, the new version of Sweden’s LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008), based on John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel.
LET ME IN stars Chloe Moretz, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Richard Jenkins, Cara Buono, Jimmy ‘Jax’ Pinchak, and Sasha Barrese .
Written and directed by Matt Reeves (CLOVERFIELD).
Due in theaters October 1st from Hammer Film Productions and Overture Films.
A new vampire film from the resurrected Hammer… Could be interesting.

London After Midnight: Bram Stoker Festival to offer Hammer Horror exhibition

Caroline Munro (seen with Christopher Lee in DRACULA A.D. 1972) will be in attendance.
Caroline Munro (seen with Christopher Lee in Hammer's DRACULA A.D. 1972) will be in attendance.

Mike McCarthy has had the good sense to choose dates for The Bram Stoker International Film Festival – from the 14th to the 17th of October – that will not clash with the other horror film festivals – not that it matters to me, because I’d be going to this one anyway! Last year I could not speak highly enough of Whitby’s very own horror festival, and looking at the things they have in store, this year is set to be even bigger and better!
There’ll be a world first Hammer Horror Exhibition, which will be attended by Hammer Horror historian Marcus Hearn. For those who were disappointed with Queen of Horror, Ingrid Pitt’s no-show last year (we can forgive her – she was unwell), Countess Dracula will be
there this year, as will English Actress Caroline Munro. The exhibition will give an insight into the Hammer Films legacy, with rare footage, original posters, unseen photos, prints, and artwork, scripts, letters, and most excitingly, upcoming Hammer films before they go out on general release.
Many of the films showing this year will be introduced by their directors and producers, and once again, the festival has a diverse line-up from all over the world, with many having their world or UK premieres at the festival.
The Saturday night will be a real doozy – with an amazing Vampire Ball planned, an opportunity for us all to dust off our favourite cloaks and revel in an evening of entertainment which includes a special rendition from the Millennium Choir.
Most interesting for me is the opportunity to see a fellow screenwriter — Frank Henenlotter will be taking questions from the audience about his films, which include Basket Case and Brain Damage.
As if all of this wasn’t enough the festival will have a special Steampunk Exhibition, stands, traders, special effects, and even its own award ceremony.
I’ll bring further updates in the coming months, but more information can always be found at http://www.bramstokerfilmfestival.com/

Hammer Horror Comics

LetMeInHollywood Reporter informs us that the revived Hammer Films is teaming up with Dark Horse comics to create a line based on the studios horror movies. The first entry will be based on LET ME IN, the remake of the Swedish vampire film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. Later comics will be based the studio’s back catalogue. In the 1950s and ’60s Hammer churned out a series of successful Gothic thrillers, such as CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN and HORROR OF DRACULA.