If you go down to the woods today... You'll find an obsessive film-buff!
In The Human Centipede 2., the self-referential antics of Wes Craven's Scream franchise were taken to a new level: the film introduced a night-time car park
attendant named Martin who decided to recreate the events of The Human Centipede (First sequence) only, only bigger and better - twelve people instead of
three.This detachment of the sequel from its predecessor - protagonist as well as viewer treating the original as a film, rather than as precedent to the unfolding events - was designed to add more veracity, and therefore more thrills, to the follow-up. And now GE2 goes for the same trick.
Grave Encounters 2 features yet another group of film students. One in particular is out to prove that Grave Encounters, which gained notoriety in the UK thanks to a viral trailer on YouTube, was actually 'found footage', and not simply a movie. Alex and his film-student friends begin their investigation by trying to contact the actors, who have apparently gone missing since the film was made nine years before (a silly anachronism which sets the new film eight years in the future!). Having no luck in contacting the actors, Alex and his friends trek to Vancouver to find the actual asylum in which Grave Encounters was filmed. Once inside the building, they set up their cameras and the plot settles into the familiar routines of sudden bouts of paranormal activity followed by a number of inexplicable deaths among the crew-members. Despite devolving to a more traditional narrative in the final analysis, GE2's ploy of utilising the existence of the first film to give extra credence to the second is a brilliant concept likely to filched by other horror filmmakers eager to breathe some new life into the now-predictable tropes of the sub-genre that was begun in 1999 with The Blair Witch Project.
So prepare to be scared. In addition to Grave Encounters 2, Paranormal Activity 4 is also on release. The welter of sudden 'jumps' employed in this fourth instalment of the franchise reduced first-night audiences to fits of laughter (with relief?) as well as terror, and knowing references to The Omen, The Shining and even The Ring (to which Grave Encounters 2 also refers) still didn’t manage to make the end-result any more believable. But don’t let these minor quibbles put you off: Paranormal Activity 4 and Grave Encounters 2 would make a great movie Fright Night-in when eventually they're made available for a small (not so small nowadays) screen near you. And don’t forget Sinister, starring Ethan Hawke, which is another Found-footage fear-fest from the director of The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Happy Halloween...
(Article by Sarah Meikle)
Frighten Brighton's August all-day Film-fest!
Frighten Brighton’s Richard Gladman and his trusty sidekick ‘Scare’ Sarah James hosted FB’s first Classic Horror Film Festival at Brighton’s famous Komedia club on Saturday, August 11.
The all-day screening featured five classic horrors – one from each decade of the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties and seventies. First up was Mad Love, M-G-M’s 1935 adaptation of Maurice Renard’s novel ‘The Hands of Orlac’, starring Peter Lorre. Next in line was Jacques Tourneur’s iconic 1942 horror-by-suggestion thriller for producer Val Lewton, Cat People. Following that, the sci-fi boom of the 1950s spewed out Them! – Warner Bros’ spectacular take on giant ants invading the environs of Los Angeles, which gave a second starring-role for James Arness, who had played the ‘Thing’ in 1951’s The Thing from Another World but who became more famous as TV’s Marshall Matt Dillon in the long-running Gunsmoke. From 1954, we moved to 1966 and John Gilling’s cult Hammer horror, The Plague of the Zombies, with Andre Morell and Jacqueline Pearce, before the day came to a blood-spattered close with Don Coscarelli’s hugely entertaining Phantasm from 1979.
Host for the marathon event was British cult-horror icon and one-time animal rights campaigner Emily Booth, the sexy star of many an underground splatter-piece such as Evil Aliens, Doghouse and Inbred, and most recently The Reverend and Three’s a Shroud. (You’ll be able to read much more about Emily in Hemlock’s upcoming tome on the new British horror film scene, Urban Terrors.)
Hemlock Books had a retail stand at the event, with special offers and copies of its two latest titles for sale – X-Cert and Retro Screams.
The changing face of The Woman in Black..
It must be common knowledge by now that Hammer's Gothic ghost-fest The Woman in Black was shorn of 6 seconds of footage for its UK release at the request of the British Board of Film Classification, and with the consent of distributors Momentum, in order for the film to obtain a 12A certificate and thus be available for view by the Danny Radcliffe/Harry Potter crowd. A wise move, as it's turned out, as this fifth outing for the regenerated Hammer Films has not only put the company back on the cinematic map but has so far grossed a global take of $118 million!
What is not yet clear is what exactly was cut from James Watkins's movie to make it acceptable (just) to a pre-teen market more attuned to the milder scares of the J K Rowling Hogwarts franchise. Musings by industry pundits had it that the print was darkened, some of the sound was lessened in volume, a 'hanging' scene was slightly abbreviated and one or two glimpses of the Woman herself were removed. But no one has so far commented on the alterations in the CGI effects which must have contributed to the lowering of the certificate from its original (and much more suitable) 15. Perhaps the answers will be contained in the obligatory 'extras' package on the forthcoming DVD, which is now due for release some time in June.
In the meantime, on the left you can see a few variations on the 'face at the window' scene, culled from various of the film's trailers. It would appear from these that Hammer's effects artists were briefed to provide alternatives to some of the shots in the film, even before the British censors were allowed to view whatever print Momentum decided to deliver to them. The original trailers featured a 'shattered' face, as per pic 1 (top), and stills were also released of that particular image, but by the time the film reached theatres, the face had reverted to that of Liz White, the actress who plays the Woman in Black, devoid of the digital wizardry that previously had made her phizog that much creepier.
Pic 3 appears to be another variant of same, but pic 4 - from the German trailer - is a different beast entirely, and looks more like the Woman's dead son than the Woman herself (which would be more in keeping with the narrative at this juncture, where the scene is preceded by one in which Kipps [Radcliffe] sees a vision of the boy rising from his watery grave on Eel Marsh island.)
Hammer's classic horrors of the 1950s and '60s were plagued with inconsistencies of this kind, with rumours persisting to this day of different versions for different markets, and a definitive cut of the company's 1958 Dracula is to be released on DVD later this year, with the 'Japanese' disintegration sequence reinstated into it. But if these shots from The Woman in Black are anything to go by, computer imagery seems to have afforded horror film producers the opportunity to 'tailor' a film to markets, or to the censorship requirements of different territories, more easily than ever before.
The only problem for film historians of the future will be: which one - if any- was the original? Or will it just be accepted by then that films, like most other things in life, will automatically come in a variety of different flavours?
LSoH's 'The Klem' makes the News!
Little Shoppe of Horrors publisher Richard Klemensen made broadcast news recently when he was interviewed by his local KCCi TV station. Klemensen, who lives with his wife Nancy in Des Moines, Iowa, was the subject of a local interest item entitled 'A Beaverdale man has been publishing his own British horror fanzine'. Here's what the station had to say about it all on its website:
Dick Klemensen's fanzine, The Little Shoppe of Horrors, is an inter-national publication featuring some big name stars that is being pub- lished out of a basement in Urbandale Avenue. 'I started the magazine in 1982. I'd just gotten out of the service and I'd always been interested in publishing,' Klemensen said. 'We're just this little hidden secret over here off Urbandale Avenue!'
Klemensen said he got his start at a young age. 'I put a little humor magazine out when I was in junior high back in Mason City.' Not long after, Klemensen said he started publishing his own fanzine. 'It started out kind of as a general interest magazine, and then I decided I wanted to concentrate on British horror, I wanted to concentrate on Hammer.' Klemensen started off by writing letters to fans that he saw in other horror magazines, and then he'd wait for a letter back and use a type- writer to publish his fanzine. Since then, technology has changed, but Klemensen said his work load hasn't.
'My mother helped me sort the pages, otherwise, I was a one-man band then and other than my lovely wife, I'm still a one-man band,' Klemensen said.
Through the years, Klemensen has made his way around the world to different conventions. 'Meeting all the people that have done simi- lar magazines and finding out there were people just as goofy as I was.' Goofy they may be, but these publishers feature some big-time names in their fanzines, like Roman Polanski and Daniel Radcliffe.
Klemensen said he never thought he'd make it big in magazine publishing, however. 'I have a degree in art and education. But I've sold truck parts my whole life.'
From Bordello to Battlefield
No sooner has British indie anthology Bordello Death Tales hit the shops than the three directors involved have reunited for a follow-up - Battlefield Death Tales.
James Eaves, director of Bane and The Witches Hammer, this time helms ‘Medal of Horror’: 'When an American Colonel's burlesque dancing daughter Daisy is kidnapped by the Nazis, he swiftly sends for her ex-lover and serial love rat George to rescue her. Against his will, George travels deep behind enemy lines battling the zombified soldiers of the First World War in his efforts to save Daisy and his own skin, finally facing off against the sadistic Nazi high priestess Jezebel and her sinister Nazibot automaton.'
Pat Higgins, whose previous films include KillerKiller and The Devil’s Music, recently saw his script Strippers vs Werewolves filmed by Jonathan Glendening (13hrs). His story for Battlefield Death Tales is called ‘Devils of the Blitz’: 'The letters from the front line are getting increasingly bizarre. Private Graham Wilson is sending home stories of monsters on the battlefield. Burrowing devils with a taste for flesh. The family back home are divided as to how to react to these letters, and every night they shelter in the cellar as London is subjected to wave after wave of bombs. Until, one evening, that cellar isn't empty. The devils have increased their hunting ground, and suddenly the bombs aren't the only threat the Wilsons are facing in the London night.'
Finally there is Al Ronald, who has recently directed Chinese Burns,
a black comedy about an ageing B-movie actor written by and starring
Julian Lamoral-Roberts. Al’s tale this time out is entitled ‘Monsters of
the 4th Reich; 'Harriet Price tracks down monsters for the British
Government. Armed with an array of inventions and contraptions, she deals
with everything from ghosts and demons to werewolves and vampires and once, she
claims, even Churchill's Black Dog. But, along with her newly assigned
partner; the cross dressing gunslinger "Trixie Antoinette", this latest
investigation will bring her face to face with the greatest monster of
all... Hitler himself.'
Battlefield Death Tales is in the last stages of production. Bordello Death Tales took a couple of years from premiere to release so don’t expect to see this before next year at the earliest. Meanwhile, here are some stills and the first trailer is expected soon.
Hemlock Books at Frighten Brighton
Hemlock Books would like to extend a big Thank You to everyone who came to support us at Frighten Brighton recently. The event, organised by Richard Gladman, also known as ‘Cyberschizoid’, took place on a cold February 25 at The Rock Inn, Brighton. Along with other stallholders at the ‘Macabre Market’, Hemlock – who also helped to sponsor the event - took pole position, with Nos (our life-size Nosferatu) in pride of place. Jane, Alison and Sarah set out their spooky wares to the delight (and fright) of all who passed by!
Visitors were also treated to a ghostly reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven in the haunted crypt, complete with its own centuries-old well. Other treats included a free screening of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell at 2pm, as well as a further two films (Re-Animator and The Gore-Gore Girls) at 5pm. There were give-aways and prizes galore, courtesy of ourselves and Diabolique magazine, which included the official theatrical poster for new Hammer horror, The Woman in Black starring Daniel Radcliffe.
It was a great opportunity for those behind the scenes at Hemlock to meet some of you in person and put faces to the names of regular customers. We look forward to seeing you all again at future venues! L-R Alison, Jane, Sarah and Nos at Frighten Brighton
Barbican Launch for Studies in Terror
Jonathan Rigby’s new book, Studies in Terror: Landmarks of Horror Cinema, made its debut at an event held at London’s CinemaMuseum on Friday October 7. The book received its formal launch at the Barbican Centre on Tuesday October 11, at a Screen Talk hosted by Jonathan and League of Gentlemen star Mark Gatiss, who wrote the Foreword.
Currently best known for his contributions to Doctor Who and Sherlock, earlier this year Mark presented the three-part BBC documentary A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss. He asked Jonathan to be his consultant on the series and during the evening, they discussed its making at some length.After the talk, the Barbican screened Harry Kümel’s 1970 vampire film Les lèvres rouges (Daughters of Darkness), before Jonathan and Mark signed copies of the book.
With Studies in Terror, Jonathan Rigby – author of English Gothic and American Gothic – brings his trademark wit and insight to bear on 130 of the key moments in screen horror. His scope is wide, ranging from silent masterworks like Nosferatu and The Cabinet of Dr Caligari to such 21st century milestones as The Descent and Let the Right One In. The result is a history of international horror cinema that’s as entertaining as it is informative.
A strictly limited number of copies signed by both Jonathan and Mark are now available in the Hemlock Shop - CLICK HERE.
SHOULD YOU FIND AFTER PURCHASING A MAGAZINE FROM HEMLOCK BOOKS THAT YOU COULD HAVE OBTAINED THE SAME ITEM ELSEWHERE ONLINE FOR LESS, WE WILL REFUND YOU THE DIFFERENCE IN PRICE!*
*Simply tell us where you saw the item on sale ONLINE IN THE UK in NEW RETAIL condition for less than the Hemlock price and we will verify the claim and refund the difference in price - guaranteed!
Hammer's World of Fantasy
New out from Hemlock Books this month is Bruce G Hallenbeck’s eagerly-awaited follow-up to last year’s The Hammer Vampire. Hammer Fantasy & Sci-Fi follows the same format as his previous book, with chapters devoted chronologically to the various themes explored by Hammer’s fantasy features, from Stolen Face in 1952 to Creatures the World Forgot in 1971.
From the extraterrestrial menaces of the Quatermass series through the radioactive children of The Damned to the prehistoric landscapes of One Million Years BC and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth, Hallenbeck takes his readers on an unforgettable journey back to the days when Bray Studios trembled to the terrors of a radioactive blob from inner space (X the Unknown), an immortal scientist who prolonged his life with a scalpel wielded in the dark (The Man Who Could Cheat Death), howling yeti on a Himalayan plateau (The Abominable Snowman) and enraged dinosaurs battling for survival as the new-born Earth boiled over (any of its prehistoric ‘epics’!). ‘Hammer, I believe, was the best of the best in their time,’ he tells us in an exclusive interview for this website. ‘There were other companies that were competitors - AIP, Amicus, Tigon - but Hammer is the name that everyone remembers. In fact, I've met people who thought that every British horror film from the fifties or sixties was a Hammer film!’
Given the amount that has been written about the company since its heyday in the fifties and sixties, it would seem that every British fantasy film did indeed emanate from the House of Hammer. But while that was not actually the case, some of the very best certainly did – films such as Val Guest’s Quatermass 2, the British answer to Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Joe Losey’s The Damned, and Don Chaffey’s unforgettable One Million Years BC – which itself became iconic of the hedonistic ‘swinging’ sixties, with male fantasy-figure Raquel Welch strutting her stuff in a Stone-Age fur bikini. And let’s not forget Ursula Andress, abandoning her own Dr No bikini for a seductive variety of low-cut gowns in Hammer’s version of Rider Haggard’s She.
‘Their style was distinctive, especially the films made at Bray,’ Hallenbeck says of Hammer's films. ‘American fantasy fans of today, I believe, are attracted to their well-written scripts - especially those for the Quatermass films - and the quality of the acting, photography and music.’ Those qualities are much on show in Hammer Fantasy & Sci-Fi, in which Hallenbeck provides his usual rich and informative text illustrated with well in excess of 200 rare photos from private collections. You can find it on sale NOW exclusively in the Hemlock Shop (until August 21), and at the special online price of £15.25. To read more of our interview with Bruce himself, go to our special Features page or simply CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL INTERVIEW.
..And now for that personal touch!
For those of you who prefer the personal touch over buying online when it comes to your favourite fanzines, Hemlock’s ‘man about the movie fairs’, Bruce Campbell, will be out and about at various venues this summer with his vast stock of all the latest magazines, books, DVDs and assorted movie memorabilia. Bruce has been in the business for many years and travels the country with his mobile merchandising stands to meet fans and collectors alike. He will happily accept magazine subscriptions, as well as orders for items that he may not have in stock, but Hemlock keeps him supplied with the newest issues of Little Shoppe of Horrors, Monsters from the Vault, Scary, Freaky and the rest, as well as its own filmbooks and those of Midnight Marquee. In addition to these, Bruce deals in DVDs, toys and other associated movie goods. So if you want to put a face to the fanzines, why not pop along to one of the events listed below and meet Bruce in person for a chat about the latest happenings in fright-film fandom. He’s a nice, approachable guy - tell him we sent you!
You can meet Bruce at any of the following venues in 2013:
3rd - Comic Mart (Royal National Hotel) 12pm - 4pm, free entry.
16th - Camden Film Collector's Fair (Electric Ballroom) 10am - 4pm.
3rd - Comic Mart (Royal National Hotel) 12pm - 4pm, free entry.
9th - London Film Collector's Fair (Westminster Central Hall) 10am - 4pm.
15th-16th - Memorabilia (NEC Birmingham) 10am - 5pm each day.
7th - Comic Mart (Royal National Hotel) 12pm - 4pm, free entry.
13th - Memorabilia (NEC Birmingham) Doors open 10am.
5th - Comic Mart (Royal National Hotel) 12pm - 4pm, free entry.
What’s the similarity between (the new) Hammer’s films and London buses? – You see nothing for ages then three come along at once! In the case of Hammer, it’s been a full 31 years between ‘buses’ but no sooner has Let Me In – director Matt Reeves’s remake of Swedish hit Let the Right One In - vacated the nation’s theatres than two more Hammer ‘horrors’ have popped up for inspection in the same month. Of course in the old days, Hammer used to churn out six or eight films a year, so this should come as no surprise; what is a surprise is how little distributor interest there appears to have been for either Wake Wood or The Resident, as neither will see the level of theatrical release that greeted Let Me In.
The Resident is set in Brooklyn and has local medic Hilary Swank (who also co-exec-produced the film) renting an apartment in a recently-renovated block where the only other residents are the friendly owner (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his aged grandfather. In shades of Michael Winner’s 1977 The Sentinel, Swank is quickly aware that all is not as it seemed to be and senses herself being watched – or at least pried upon. But before any real tension can be generated in this regard, the film plays its hand and reveals the friendly owner of the block to be an emotionally-dysfunctional stalker, who has the place rigged with all manner of secret passageways which allow him entrance to the various apartments. The remainder devolves to a prurient game of cat-and-mouse, in which the audience is unfortunately always two steps ahead of the hapless Swank.
The Resident is an old school Jimmy Sangster psycho-thriller dressed up with the pretensions of pop psychology (and the addition of colour), and it shares its faintly nauseating theme with many a classic Hitchcock film along similar voyeuristic lines, notably Psycho, Frenzy and, in particular, Vertigo. (Imagine the ‘peep-hole’ scene in Psycho being extended into an entire movie!) Its exploration of sexual obsession often makes for disturbing viewing and anyone looking for a good scare from the revivified Hammer might be better advised to look elsewhere, though there are a couple of worthwhile shocks as the climax falls back on the old ‘unstoppppable’ killer routine of just-when-you-thought-it-was-safe etc.. As for the inclusion of Christopher Lee in the cast-list, that’s mere tokenism as he’s croaked before he has time to utter more than a handful of lines.
The other new opener is Wake Wood (no ‘The’ in the title), which appears to have reverted to Hammer after unaccountably being held up for the better part of two years while it was passed from company to company within its H S Media parent group. But no reference to Hammer actually appears in the film's credits.
Witchcraft in a rural village – sound familiar? Hammer trod this territory back in 1967 with The Witches, but the plot of Wake Wood is more of a cross between Don’t Look Now and ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, with a smattering of Richard Matheson’s TV Dead of Night in there for good measure: a young couple have lost their daughter to a dog-savaging, but the creepy locals of Irish village Wake Wood offer them a three-day ‘reunion’ with their beloved child provided that certain conditions are met. Given that this is a Hammer film, the conditions are not met and things don’t go quite according to plan.. It’s not exactly The Wicker Man, and its obvious absence of budget comes as something of a shock after the high gloss that was afforded to the American-made Let Me In and The Resident, but it works its clever concept through with some novelty – even if most of the gore is of the veterinary variety.
Timothy Spall is the sinister ‘squire’ on this occasion, with Aidan Gillen and Eva Birthistle as the bereaved parents. The film’s release to selected theatres and Sky Box Office on March 25 hardly indicated confidence on the part of its makers as to it finding an audience, and muddy photography, an underwritten script and a cast composed entirely of feature players too often recalls the cheap shockers that proliferated in the early 1970s. But some effort has been made to adhere to the British horror traditions of folklore and familial frights even if in the final analysis, Wake Wood could have been done for television every bit as effectively.
Author Marcus Hearn talks to Hemlock Books
about The Art of Hammer