Tag Archives: horror

How to make a horror film terrifying and the mystery of police horses in Soho

Chris Lincé was delayed by a bird in Soho

Chris Lincé was delayed by a bird in Soho

I first met Chris Lincé years ago when I wandered along with comedian Charlie Chuck to some project they were both involved in.

I met him again last week at Soho Theatre in London.

Chris was a few minutes late because a bird shat on his head when he was coming out of Chinatown.

Shit happens.

He now directs music videos, live shows, script edits, does lots. In Hollywood, they would call him a hyphenate.

“How would you describe yourself?” I asked. “A writer-director?”

“No,” he replied. “I’m a director who likes to get involved in the writing as early as possible, whether I’m writing it myself or – as is more often the case – working with a writer.”

He story-edited a British feature film which should be coming out next year – a superhero comedy called SuperBob, starring Catherine Tate, Brett Goldstein and Laura Haddock.

But, at the moment, he is concentrating on a crowdfunding campaign for The Exorcism of Danny Fontaine starring Danny Fontaine of rock band The Horns of Fury. There is a video for their song The Butcher (directed by Chris) on YouTube.

“The Horns of Fury had been going about eight years,” said Chris, “but they’ve recently disbanded. I did two music videos for Danny when the band was still together and now we’re working on this short 11-minute horror musical and there are plans further down the line to do longer and more extravagant things.”

Funding ends, appropriately, on Hallowe’en with filming due to start at the end of the year. The appeal is not just on Indiegogo but also on YouTube.

“Distribution?” I asked.

“It’s festivals and then internet,” said Chris. “There are probably more horror festivals than there are any other type of film festival. It’s a calling card and proof of concept showing you can have a horror musical sung through that is not what you think of when you think of musicals.”

“Sung through?” I asked.

“There are songs and no spoken dialogue. All the dialogue is sung.”

There must have been some, but neither of us could think of any other movie written originally for the screen (ignoring adaptations of stage musicals) which is wholly sung through.

“Is it comedic?” I asked.

“Not especially,” explained Chris, “other than the fact I’ll probably put some jokes in because I like jokes. It’s a proper 1970s-vibe rock opera – Phantom of the Paradise, Rocky Horror Show, that kind of feel.”

“So it’s camp?” I asked.

The upcoming horror musical

The upcoming musical – colourful not camp

“Not so much camp as vibrant,” said Chris. “The thing I’ve noticed in horror over the last ten years is that it’s gone greyer and greyer and greyer. There are a lot of dingy corridors and hand-held cameras. But I think that trend is changing. One of the trends at Frightfest in London this year was that colourful horror is starting to come back: a lot of highly-saturated lighting palates. There’s slightly more fun than there used to be. I think a lot of 1980s influences are starting to creep in.”

“The heyday of exorcism films was the 1970s, wasn’t it?” I asked.

“There’s still maybe one a year,” said Chris. “Immediately after The Exorcist came out in 1973, some of the knock-offs were extraordinary. There was a blaxploitation rip-off called Abby about a woman who was obsessed by a sex demon. The way her possession manifested itself was she left her husband and hung around in bars picking up guys… And then there’s an exorcism.”

“Of whom?” I asked.

“Her,” said Chris. “Women were not allowed to do that. Did you see The Manitou? It was a 1978 Tony Curtis film about a possessed tumour which I think I’m right in saying ends with them defeating the demon by throwing typewriters at it. They just chuck typewriters at it until it’s defeated.

The Manitou - killed by scriptwriting tools

The Manitou – killed by scriptwriters’ tools of the trade

“Films are scheduled and planned and written and everybody learns their stuff. But apparently at no point in the process did anyone say: Guys – Are we really ending this film with the mass typewriter throwing?”

“Maybe the scriptwriters were exorcising their own demons,” I suggested.

“What I particularly do like about horror,” said Chris, “is that it appeals to both extremes of human experience – base, gut-level, animalistic, instinctual fears… but you can also have intellectual conversations about morality and how do you behave in extreme situations. When you get both of those playing alongside each other, it doesn’t get any richer than that.”

“Surely,” I said, “science fiction films are the ones that often examine moral and intellectual subjects?”

“Yes,” said Chris, “but there’s something more immediate about horror. Sometimes science fiction can be a little bit detached, a little bit cold. And the stakes in science fiction tend to be lower. In horror, you’re normally running away from a problem or tied to a problem or the problem’s being cut off you while you worry about it. Horror can tap into a fear that you can’t intellectualise your way out of.

“(Horror film director) Dario Argento said that, when he wanted people killed in his films, he would try to find a way that the audience had some experience of. He didn’t want to shoot people, because most people have not been shot; they don’t know what it feels like. You DO know what it’s like to cut ourself; You DO know what it’s like to burn yourself.

Director Dario Argento (Wikipedia photo by Brian Eeles)

Director Argento took the ordinary to extremes (Wikipedia photo by Brian Eeles)

“He would find something which most people had done and then take it to an extreme – which did result in killers finding very peculiar ways of killing people. But scalding someone to death makes it relatable in a way that being shot or vaporised does not. If I see someone being vaporised in a science fiction film… I have never been vaporised… I assume it is bad, but I don’t know what it feels like. There’s nothing that affects me on a gut level.

“Whereas a paper cut I can understand. If you imagine a piece of paper slipped under your fingernail, pushing its way into your finger, you can imagine feeling that far more than someone being vaporised.”

“There is research,” I said, “that, when people watch violence on screen, they watch not the action but the re-action. If someone is punched in the stomach, they don’t watch the fist hit the stomach; they watch the reaction on the face of the person being hit.”

“Probably the most reaction you can get,” said Chris, “is going for the eye or mouth. Have you seen the Dario Argento film Opera?

Dario Argento’s eye-opening horror film

Dario Argento’s eye-opening horror film

“There is a scene where the killer wants a woman to watch the killing he is about to do. So he Sellotapes needles to her eyes so that, if she closes her eyes, they will stick in her. A close-up of an eye with needles attached to it is far more horrifying than the actual act of violence which Argento then shows – somebody being cut in the neck – because you are just that much closer to something you can relate to.

“Last night, we were having long discussions into the night about the best way of killing somebody in our film. Long, dry discussions along the lines of Yeah, but if we cut him across the belly, it’s bloody but it’s not as interesting as cutting the face. Conversations about maximum impact and maximum reaction.”

“I guess,” I said, “in cinema, punching someone on the nose feels more violent that stabbing someone in the stomach with a knife because it has more of a visible effect. Attacks on the face are more frightening.”

“It’s where we view everything from,” said Chris.

“I suppose,” I said, “that horror is the most constantly violent genre, along with westerns.”

“Westerns,” said Chris, “are one of the few genres I don’t get on with and I don’t really know why. It might be the hats.”

At this point, as Chris and I sat in the Soho Theatre Bar, we saw two policemen ride slowly up Dean Street on horses.

“There is something I don’t know about police on horseback,” said Chris. “If you are a policeman on horseback and you see some criminal activity – like you see someone running down the street with a stolen television – are you allowed to gallop after them?”

“I guess so,” I said.

Chris had a hairy time when we met in Soho...

Chris had a hairy time when we met in Soho…

“I just want to see that,” said Chris. “It seems dangerous.”

“Though,” I said, “even if they gallop, it would be easy enough for a man on foot to escape from a pursuing horse in the West End.”

“It just seems futile having horses in Soho,” said Chris.

“I had better take a photo of you before you go,” I said.

“I really do have dry bird shit in my hair,” said Chris.

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‘Hated’ comic Alexander Bennett has an interest in serial killers’ lives & the link between comedy and horror punches

Alexander Bennett yesterday in London’s Chinatown

Alexander yesterday in London’s Chinatown

By paragraph 11 of this blog, I stare in open-eyed amazement at comedian Alexander Bennett and say WHAAAAAAAATTT????

Alexander first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011.

Next Monday in London, he will be performing a version of Alexander Bennett’s Afraid of The Dark, his 2013 Edinburgh Fringe show about a girl called Amy who started to hear voices in her head and then went missing. Alexander found her diary and the show involves him enacting her diary. Except neither Amy nor the diary is real. Alexander made them up.

“You’d be surprised what people think,” Alexander told me at Bar Italia in Soho yesterday.

“What do they think?” I asked.

“That it’s real, despite the fact there are obviously constructed jokes in the diary. At the end of the Edinburgh show, I had people come up to me saying Do you know what happened to her? – Yes I do, I told them. Happily ever after. She’s fictional. She got hit by a truck. There you go. I can change what happened to her.

“Why did you think of doing that show?” I asked.

“Because I’ve been doing comedy for a while and…”

“How long a while?” I asked.

“Well,” replied Alexander, “I’m 21 now and I…”

WHAAAAAAAATTT????” I said, shocked.

Alexander faces up to old age as a young man

Alexander really doesn’t look this young in the flesh

“Yes, I know,” said Alexander. “I look much, much older. When I was 18 and gigging in Manchester, an audience member guessed I was 35 and I was so depressed the gig went downhill from there on. A lot of my life has been women telling me they hate me.

“They come up to me and go Your hair’s great; do you mind if I touch it? – No, go ahead – And you don’t do anything to it? – No, I just wash it – It’s really good quality. I HATE you. That’s one reaction.

“The other one is 30-year-old women who are flirting with me who ask How old are you? When I say 21, they are initially annoyed and then they say You’re going to look like that for the rest of your life and then they are even more annoyed with me.”

“You are annoyingly young,” I said. “So you started performing comedy when you were 18?”

“No,” said Alexander. “When I was 15.”

“So,” I said, “you decided when you were 15 that you wanted to be a comedian?”

“No,” said Alexander. “I was younger than that. I loved cartoons – The Simpsons and Wallace & Gromit and all the Aardman Studios stuff. At first, I thought it was because they were cartoons. But then my dad showed me some Ronnie Barker shows and I realised Ah! The reason I like these shows is because they are funny! Then, from the age of 8 or so, I wanted to be Ronnie Barker. And I was watching John Cleese at around the same time.

Tall, aloof but older-looking John Cleese

Tall, aloof but older-looking John Cleese

“I can identify with John Cleese because I’m not a kind of smiley-happy comedian. I come across more authoritarian than loose. I can identify with Cleese because there’s a similar sort of aloofness. The first thing I ever wrote as a kid of 13 was about trying to bury someone who’s not dead.”

“You were writing at 13?” I asked. “I think I may be starting to hate you.”

“Yes,” said Alexander. “That always happens. When I was 16, I made a feature film that cost about £250 and had a crew of three people. It was a comedy horror called Love: A Mental Illness and it is about a stalker. The girl he’s stalking becomes very upset and he realises the reason she is upset is because all of her friends are horrible. So he goes through the process of getting rid of all these friends who are making her life a misery.”

“You did this aged 16?” I asked.

“Yes, that is why I don’t usually tell people my age,” said Alexander. “Because they will hate me. I am young in a way that irritates people.”

“I think I hate you,” I said. “Also, if you are 21, why aren’t you at university?”

“I am,” said Alexander.

“I think research before you meet people for a chat” I said, “is much over-rated.”

“I’m finishing a degree in film & television production.” explained Alexander, “which is a 90% practical course.”

“And you are particularly interested in….?” I prompted.

“My dissertation was on The British Identity in The Horror Film,” he replied.

“Not a lot of laughs in that,” I said.

“One of the greatest comedy films ever made”?

Rape, ultra-violence and “one of the greatest comedy films ever made”?

Clockwork Orange is one of the greatest comedy films ever made,” said Alexander. “That is 100% true. When I first watched it, I didn’t realise it was a comedy. The second time I watched it, I did. Clockwork Orange is hilarious; there are loads and loads of jokes all the way through it.”

“Well,” I said. “There is some vague connection between comedy and horror and I don’t know what it is. I don’t know if maybe laughter and fear release some of the same chemicals into to the body or something like that.”

“I think a lot of comedy has a horrific element to it,” said Alexander. “They say there’s a fine line between comedy and tragedy. Well, if you push that a little bit further…”

“I do think,” I said, that a lot of the great comedies which have lasted have been set in tragic situations. Hancock…”

“I completely agree,” said Alexander. “Steptoe and Son, Porridge. The idea of being trapped, which is central to all good sitcoms is essential to a lot of horror as well. Steptoe and Son are trapped in a relationship.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “And in One Foot in The Grave they’re trapped. A lot of their situations, if they actually happened, would be horrendous. Good comedy is when things go slightly wrong with reality and..”

“Comedy is a break in reality,” said Alexander, “and horror is kind of the same thing, really. The kind of punch in the stomach that can come with something that’s very tragic is very similar to the punch in the stomach that comes with that Ooohhh! of comedy. The ending of Planes, Trains and Automobiles… It’s a very tragic twist to the end of a comedy film.

“Another thing that horror does which comedy also does is it puts people in pressured spaces. All good horror films have a small group of characters who the film puts pressure on until all the relationships break down. And that is a very good description of any sitcom that works.”

“You like dark comedy…” I suggested.

The Mighty Boosh showing their textures

BBC TV’s Mighty Boosh showing some of their many textures

The League of Gentlemen, I think, is the best sketch show I’ve ever seen. The Mighty Boosh, as a television programme, is fantastic because there are so many textures. And Spaced had a very distinct visual grammar that serves what they’re doing very well.”

“You told me off-microphone,” I said, “that you are interested in serial killers.”

“I run a first-Tuesday-of-the-month comedy club called This Is Not a Cult and the basic structure of the show is I give people new rules to live their lives by. At my January night, I said to the audience: Name any serial killer and I will tell you when they lived and how many people they killed, because I have enough of a working knowledge of that sort of thing to be able to respond. Later on during the same show, I tried to flirt with a girl, having forgotten I’d revealed this aspect of myself. It’s not a great chat-up technique, is it?”

“Any comedy heroes?” I asked.

“My real heroes,” said Alexander, “are Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Stan Laurel and early Woody Allen. They all directed, performed and wrote. Stan Laurel ended up virtually directing all the Laurel & Hardy stuff.”

“So you like auteurs,” I said. “And you’ll have a new show at the Edinburgh Fringe in August?”

“Yes. Alexander Bennett: Follow Me. It’s about the people who are looked-up-to in society and I will prove why I’m better than all of them and convert the audience to my cause.”

“Which is?”

“That I’m brilliant. My stand-up persona is a man who thinks he knows how to run the world. I think my act is more a persona than a character. My life feeds into it and it’s presented in a way that is not necessarily me but is born of me. So it’s a persona not a character. I just take the worst aspects of my personality.”

“Which are?” I asked.

“Ego. I do think I’m brilliant, but I know that’s ridiculous. I do kind of think the world would run so much smoother if everybody would shut up and listen to me. But the guy on stage says things I don’t agree with. It’s a persona.”

There is a clip on YouTube of Alexander performing at the 2013 Chortle Student Comedy Awards.

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David McGillivray: from cheap sex films to horror movies, art and panto scripts

David McGillivray accosted yesterday by Halloween ghoul

David McGillivray (left) yesterday with a Halloween ghoul

David McGillivray is only a few years old than me, but I first became aware of him when I was in my late teens or early twenties and he was writing excellent film reviews for the British Film Institute’s Monthly Film Bulletin.

He quickly got involved in the 1970s British sex film industry, writing such epics as I’m Not Feeling Myself Tonight and The Hot Girls, then shifting into horror scripts for quickie film directors Norman J.Warren and Pete Walker and, later still, writing and producing his own films.

“I used to love being scared when I was a child,” he told me yesterday – Halloween – in Soho, “and I greatly enjoy frightening other people. I’ve only really ever been interested in sensation.”

“What was your best film?”

“Shorts or long?”

“Both.”

“Of the shorts, I’m very fond of one called Mrs Davenport’s Throat, which I made in Lisbon in 2005. It’s got a surprise ending that I don’t think anyone’s ever guessed.”

“You wrote and produced that?”

“Yes. It was inspired by those people at airports who stand holding cards with people’s names on. In my film, the eponymous Mrs Davenport goes up to a chauffeur who is holding a sign saying MRS DAVENPORT and goes off with him and we find out what happens to her. It’s not a pretty sight.”

“You said that with a smile.”

“It’s good fun.”

“And your favourite feature film?”

Exactly the sort of film young David wanted to write

Exactly the sort of film young David McGillivray had always wanted to write

“I never watch any of my films apart from House of Whipcord. That was my first big one for Pete Walker. I saw it again at a horror festival in Edinburgh about two years ago and thought it stood up quite well.

“I was a very young writer – I was 25. I read an outline of the story and it was exactly the sort of film I had always wanted to write and Pete Walker got together a marvellous cast. It was terrifically exciting for me. Suddenly here I was part of the film business that I’d always been so fond of.

“I think House of Whipcord is Pete Walker’s best film, though some people prefer Frightmare.”

“He seemed to suddenly disappear off the radar,” I said.

“He just decided to stop working,” explained David, “and nobody really knows why. He had the money to continue and he could have gone on making films. He didn’t completely disappear: he ran a chain of provincial cinemas called Picturedrome for a while but now, as far as I know, he really is completely retired. I haven’t seen him since 1992.”

“Is he worthy of rediscovery?” I asked. “Or are his films just tacky?”

“I have said,” David told me, “that he was Britain’s most talented exploitation director. As soon as a Pete Walker film starts, you know instantly it’s his. He had a very distinct style. He was a talented storyteller. He knew how to include the exploitation elements. I think it’s a great shame he isn’t still working. He just decided he didn’t want to do it any more. He didn’t need to make money; he was very rich.”

“Rich from the films?” I asked,. “Or rich independently?”

“Rich from property,” said David. “He made a lot of money from his early films: little 8mm ‘glamour’ loops sold either by mail order or in newsagents, often under-the-counter.”

“Soft-core?” I asked.

Not as successful as the sex films

Not as successful as Pete Walker’s sex films?

“Oh yes, all very soft core. They were basically striptease films. He made a lot of money from those and then his early full-length sex films made money. There were several people in the same market – Harrison Marks and Stanley Long were two rivals. Pete’s early sex films were very successful. Then he started making his so-called ‘terror’ films, which were less popular. All of those people made a fair amount of money out of nudie and sex films.”

“When you were young,” I asked, “did you want to make art films?”

“No,” said David firmly. “I never wanted to do anything arty and I never have done. I’ve got no ability, I’ve got no taste, no style. I’m a hack.”

David’s current film production company is called Pathetique Films. It uses the slogan Curiouser and Curiouser.

“But you appreciate arty movies, so you have taste,” I told him.

“I’ve got no ability. I really haven’t,” he replied.

“But,” I said, “you can write and you’ve seen enough movies to know what images need to be edited together to have an effect, so you can work backwards and know what material has to be shot to create the end result you want.”

“This is like a conversation I was having yesterday, about the difference between art and design,” David said, holding up a teaspoon. “What is this? It has been designed to look good, but is it art or is it just design?… It is design.

“My films are not art. They’re just product designed to give people a bit of a thrill in whatever way is possible.”

“But what you’re describing,” I argued, “is a Shakespeare play – a commercial product that’s aimed at a specific audience – almost lowest-common-denominator. Shakespeare was creating something to give the plebs in the pit a laugh. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are there to give people a laugh in Hamlet; there’s blood all over the place in Macbeth; there are things flying around and thunderstorms and a shipwreck (or is it two?) in The Tempest. I’m sure if I went in a time machine and watched Shakespeare plays as seen by the original audience, it would be like watching a down-market farce or an exploitation movie.”

“Well, yes,” David agreed. “Shakespeare’s plays were aimed at ‘the ordinary folk’ and wouldn’t have been considered Art in their day. Maybe one day, long after we’re dead and gone, the public will decide that my films are Art.”

“But the public didn’t decide Shakespeare is art,” I said, “It was people who wrote books about him. Critics decide. Critics would say The Tempest is art and the movie Forbidden Planet is a commercial Hollywood science fiction product, but the film is based on the play.”

“Well,” said David, “I would call Forbidden Planet art, because it’s a wonderful creation and it works and it scared the living daylights out of me when I was 7 or 8. When the footprints appear in the sand, made by the invisible monster, I was so frightened I remember distinctly I couldn’t look at the screen and I hid my face in my school cap. That film had an enormous effect on me and it’s a very artistic endeavour indeed.”

“But looked at objectively,” I said, “Shakespeare  is basically lowest common denominator sex, violence and comedy – much like The Bible in that respect. Reviewers thought Hitchcock’s Psycho was unforgivably down-market, repulsive and sadistic when it was released, yet people would probably think Psycho was a work of art now.”

“Definitely,” agreed David, “Well, any film by Hitchcock.”

“Or Michael Powell’s film Peeping Tom,” I said. “It was said at the time to be obscenely sadistic and it destroyed his entire career. But now it’s Art. I avoided seeing it for years because Time Out said it was a simile for the voyeurism of the cinema-going experience – It sounded unbearably arty and a load of wank. But, when I saw it, it IS a great film and, arguably, Time Out was right.”

“It’s not bad, is it…” said David.

“You must want to write Art,” I told him, “You want to create things and you want to create the best possible thing you can and that is Art and, if it has a big effect on a big audience like Harry Potter, then all the better, surely?”

“This is a very vexed issue,” replied David, “and goes back to what is and isn’t Art. I’ve really only ever wanted to create something that is going to have some sort of an effect on people. I don’t want to create something that’s going to be ignored, that’s going to sit on a shelf and not be seen. I don’t particularly mind what the critics say. I don’t care if they hate my stuff – and a lot of them do. All I want in years to come is for people to watch my films and enjoy them in the same way I enjoy the most rubbishy, churned-out second features. If I can create anything like Night of the Demon or, indeed, Night of the Eagle, I’d be very, very happy.”

“Well,” I said, “everyone’s making B films now – the Star Wars movies, the Indiana Jones movies, Quentin Tarantino’s movies. They’re all basically making crappy low-budget B films on a big budget – Crap becoming Art.”

“Yes,” agreed David, “they’re making wheat out of chaff.”

“They’ve making wheat out of chaff for chavs,” I suggested. “What are you making next?”

David McGillivray yesterday, by a rubbish bin in London - He suggested the bin

David McGillivray yesterday, by a rubbish bin in London’s West End  – He suggested the bin

“It’s panto time,” said David. “It’s a very busy time. This year I’ve contributed to four. I don’t write them, I only re-write them depending on who’s in them. My regular employer is Julian Clary – I’ve re-written his pantos for several years and, through him, I’ve met other people like Nigel Havers. I’m just finishing re-writing Robin Hood, which is in Plymouth this year. And I’ve re-written part of Snow White for Gok Wan in Birmingham. I love panto. I think that’s my true forte.”

“You knew Julian Clary before the pantos?”

“Yes, I’ve worked with him for 31 years. I’ve never written an entire show. He’s known for his improvisation. He Julianises what I put together as, indeed, do other comedians I’ve worked for.”

“Such as?”

“Paul O’Grady, Greg Proops, Angus Deayton…”

At this point, a man dressed in a white Halloween costume and wearing a Scream movie mask came into the restaurant where we were sitting.

“That is an example of the opposite of what we were talking about,” said David. “That is Art turned into crap… Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream now turned into one of the worst franchises in horror movie history…”

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How a US comedian and Jewish blogger ended up in a Japanese designer suit being stalked by a cannibalistic baby

One of Larry Cohen’s quirky masterpieces

One of Larry Cohen’s quirky masterpieces

I recently mentioned on Facebook my admiration for the talents of movie writer-director Larry Cohen who, among many other things, was ‘murder consultant’ on the TV series Columbo. I am particularly keen on the quirky God Told Me To (a very odd film about random killings in which the title actually IS the story) and Q – The Winged Serpent (about a South American flying lizard god which lives atop the Chrysler Building in New York).

It turned out that my Facebook Friend comedian Steven Alan Green had – among his many other careers as writer, producer, performer and currently radio show host and comedy blogger for the Jewish Journal… actually appeared in a Larry Cohen movie – as a stand-up comic in the horror film sequel It’s Alive III: Island of The Alive.

Radio host and podcaster SAG

Radio host, podcaster, comic, producer, actor SAG (Photograph by Dan Dion)

How did that happen?

“I was working at The Comedy Store in Hollywood as a comedian, but also answering the phones,” says Steven Alan Green, “and Larry Cohen calls on a Sunday and asks for ‘the talent department’ to get a comedian to come down that night and play a comedian in his film.

“I told him there was only me on the phone and he asked me. So I called the talent coordinator at home and he told me to take the job.

They met at Santa Monica pier...

After they met at Santa Monica pier…

“So, I got down to the Santa Monica pier and was hired as ‘an extra’. But, since I had lines (improvising a stand-up act) I asked Larry about ‘Taft Hartley-ing’ me – meaning, since I was speaking in a Screen Actors’ Guild union production, he could do the paperwork to get me into the union.

“He agreed to do this if I would come in and ‘loop’ – recording my dialogue in a studio another day – which I did.”

“How long did the filming take?” I asked Steven Alan Green.

“Just one afternoon and into the night,” he told me. “They didn’t mic me during the film shoot, except when I talked with the stand-up comedy mic on set.

“So, I end up in this recording studio in Hollywood, looping my stand-up set, just saying whatever comes to mind. Larry just said to wing it, then to get him a coffee. One of the things I said was So, here’s my impression of Steven Alan Green…. and Larry left that line in the final film.

“So, if you go to this clip on YouTube and get to the scene that starts about the 4min 11sec mark and turn up the volume, there are two comedians on stage… I’m the one closest to the camera who says to Michael Moriarty: You got an act to go with that suit, sir?”

“How would you describe the movie?” I asked.

“Ah,” replied Steven Alan Green. “A horror film with Apocalyptic implications predicated on the notion that Youth are always dangerous.”

“Was Larry normal?” I asked.

“What’s normal?” said Steven Alan Green. “He was a little too normal for the type of films he makes. Friendly, hands-on. I mean, he was the one who called the Comedy Store looking for a stand-up comedian for his film. What director does that?”

“Did you,” I asked Steven Alan Green, “make any good contacts during the filming or was there any follow-up from appearing in the movie?”

“One of the cannibalistic babies started stalking me,” replied Steven Alan Green.

“Anything you want to plug?” I asked.

Jerry Lewis is considered a comic genius in France

Jerry Lewis considered comic genius in France

“My new radio show and live podcast Stage Time with Steven Alan Green… and The Laughter Foundation, which has a big benefit planned for the Spring in San Francisco… and my blog for the Jewish Journal… and I Eat People For You Like Breakfast! my famed and infamous one-man show about my bringing Jerry Lewis to the London Palladium. I’m doing that show at The Marsh in San Francisco next Wednesday and on December 4th…”

“What does being blog writer for the Jewish Journal involve?” I asked.

“I write what I want and they publish it,” said Steven Alan Green. “My blog is called Enjoy the Veal and I review live stand-up as an art form and write open letters to Jerry Lewis. I try to review comedians’ shows in the ideal – somewhere between what they were trying to achieve and why they didn’t.”

“In the Larry Cohen movie,” I ventured, “did you choose your own costume?”

“What are you saying?” Steven Alan Green shot back. “That was my comedy outfit! A 3-piece Japanese designer with trainers. I mean, Doh!”

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Critic Kate Copstick attacked in Kenya

I have received a reaction to yesterday’s blog, in which I wrote about the frustration of trying to enter a London Evening Standard competition to take a flight into space, about a woman standing next to a Post Office pillar box, about comedian Bob Slayer in his underpants and about an excellent performance in London by Red Bastard, the talk of the recent Edinburgh Fringe.

Today, I am off to Leamington Spa for one of the occasional ‘Auction of Horrors’ run at The Old Elephant House in that most refined of towns. On the auction list today are 367 items including an animatronic alley cat, a vampire killing kit, a painting of the Kray Twins, letters from the Titanic, a human kneebone walking stick and Wasp Boy’s swallowed sword from the Circus of Horrors. The Old Elephant House bills itself as, among other things, “exclusive sellers of stage-used Circus of Horrors props, costumes and memorabilia”.

Circus of Horrors poster in the auction

A very non-PC Circus of Horrors poster – It is in the auction

Fantasy and quirkiness are entertaining.

I have to leave early to drive up to Leamington Spa which leaves little time to write this blog.

Fortunately, a message arrived from Kenya which I think is worth printing.

It was from comedy critic Kate Copstick, who oft-times pops up in this blog and who runs a Kenyan charity called Mama Biashara. As well as health care projects, Mama Biashara helps poor people (especially women) set up their own small businesses which may give them a lift to a better life. Copstick spends a large percentage of her time (unpaid) working for the charity in London and Kenya, where she has been for the past few weeks.

Mama Biashara’s Kate Copstick

Critic Kate Copstick in Kenya

The message from Copstick is complimentary. Normally that would preclude it from appearing. But what she says is:

Thank you for the blogs. They are keeping me sane here. Been robbed while I slept by a thief who hid in the house where I was staying, had to flee armed robbers waiting outside a workshop to get me, had mothers with sick children being threatened that of they let the Mzungu (white person) help them there will be ‘consequences’ and last night I was gang mugged by about 15 young guys while an entire traffic jam of people looked on. Not my best visit. Will tell all exclusively to you as soon as I stop having flashbacks.

This perhaps puts my jolly trip to Leamington Spa today for the ‘Auction of Horrors’ into a more realistic perspective of inconsequential superficiality.

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“A Clockwork Orange”, Dr Jekyll and an actor’s death… Ars longa… Vita brevis…

The SHOCK SHOCK SHOCK poster for Dr Jekyll

The SHOCK SHOCK SHOCK film poster

WARNING!

THE SEXUAL TRANSFORMATION OF A MAN INTO A WOMAN WILL ACTUALLY TAKE PLACE BEFORE YOUR VERY EYES!

That was the warning splashed across the movie posters.

Rubbish, of course.

The publicity, not the movie.

Hammer’s 1971 horror film Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde is actually an unusually well-scripted and well-produced (by Brian Clemens) and well-directed (by Roy Ward Baker) movie which mixes the original story with a lot of Jack The Ripper, a little Burke & Hare and a dash of sexual ambiguity.

The idea was suggested by Brian Clemens to Hammer Pictures’ boss Michael Carreras when they were having lunch at Elstree Studios. It was originally a joke, but Carreras liked the idea so much he had a poster designed and then made the movie.

It was made 41 years ago.

21 years ago, its star Ralph Bates died.

So it goes.

As well as several Hammer horror movies, he starred in BBC TV’s drama series Poldark and their comedy series Dear John.

Last night, I attended a screening of Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde at the Cinema Museum. Three actresses from the film were there: Martine Beswick, Irene Bradshaw and Virginia Wetherell,

Virginia Wetherell remembered the first day she met Ralph Bates on the set.

Martine Beswick aka Ralph Bates

Two-faced Martine Beswick & Ralph Bates

“He literally stabbed me in the back,” she said last night. “And, when he put his hand over my mouth, they went Right! Cut! We’ll break for lunch now! and I left with ox’s blood – real blood – all around my face and it stank. It dried really hard and, for continuity, you have to keep the shape exactly the same. So they said I’m really sorry. We’ll bring you up a drink but you cannot eat because the blood will all peel off…

“That was the first time I met Ralph and, two years later, I married him.”

Last night, she talked of her early movies.

Since then, as Virginia Bates, she has opened the very successful Virginia Antiques shop in Portland Road, London W11.

Coincidentally, her first film was Michael Winner’s West 11 but she also acted in thrillers by now almost forgotten cult director Pete Walker:

"The Big Switch" aka "Strip Poker"

Pete Walker’s movie “The Big Switch”

“A laugh-a-minute,” she said last night. “Working on a Pete Walker film, you were lucky if you got three weeks to do a full-length movie – including the editing and the dubbing. He just knocked ‘em out. If it snowed or rained or you fell over – too bad – it got put in the story. I fell over during filming on the West Pier in The Big Switch. I got up and Pete yelled: Go on! Go on, Virginia! Why are you stopping? and I said Because I’ve fallen over and I’m looking in camera! and he yelled Don’t matter! Don’t matter! Keep going! Keep going!… And we did.”

But she also appeared, just before Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde, in the rather more prestigious A Clockwork Orange with the meticulously obsessive Stanley Kubrick directing.

“A genius,” Virginia said last night. “You just trusted this man like he was God. When I auditioned, the role was to play a psychiatrist, which I assumed involved wearing a white overall and maybe a stethoscope – though I did have to have my hair dyed blue.”

A Clockwork Orange pair of knickers

Stanley Kubrick needed a dozen knickers

She appeared in a late scene in which hero Alex is undergoing ‘The Ludovico Treatment’ and she tests the effectiveness of it.

“I was hanging around the set for three or four days and nobody said anything, nobody talked to me. I just turned up every morning. A car would pick me up at 5.30. Finally, it was my turn and we shot in Norwood Library and the whole of the auditorium was packed with people who were meant to be from the Ministry.

“I was a little confused because nobody, obviously, was given a script – but my role was a psychiatrist and I was waiting for this white overall  and then the assistant came up to me and said: Oh, I’ve been told by Mr Kubrick I‘ve got to take you shopping, but we have to wait now for the shop to open. It doesn’t open till nine o’clock.

“So eventually off we went to the local store in Norwood and we bought twelve pairs of knickers. Alright. Fair enough. So then Stanley puts them all down on the stage and says I want you to put those on, so I put them on and I walk and we go through them all until he decides which are the right pair – because that was my entire costume.

“If it had been Pete Walker, I wouldn’t have done it. I’d have said I don’t play those kind of roles! But Stanley Kubrick? I didn’t even think twice about it.”

The screening of Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde at the Cinema Museum last night was in aid of the Ralph Bates Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund which Virginia set up in her late husband’s memory.

Virginia Wether

Virginia Bates at the Cinema Museum last night

When he was diagnosed with cancer, she “was told nothing could be done and he only had between six and eight weeks left to live… He was performing on stage in the West End with a movie lined-up for the Autumn… He and our 13 year-old son William had enjoyed the summer together messing about in boats and he’d spent many evenings with Daisy, our daughter, helping her with lines for the TV series Forever Green… Ten weeks and one day later, Ralph died.”

So it goes.

It took two months for Ralph Bates’ cancer to be diagnosed.

“This, unfortunately, is one of the hazards of pancreatic cancer,” Virginia Bates said last night. “It is difficult to detect and, when it is detected, it is usually too late.”

.

No government funding. Donations are vital

The charity is based at St George’s Hospital in Tooting and, since 1993, has actively funded research into the disease.

Over 90% of all donations are spent on the research work; the Trustees receive no remuneration and no reimbursement of any expenses.

In 2007, it funded the purchase, via an operating lease, of endoscopic ultrasound equipment for St George’s.

The total cost was £183,000.

The research receives no direct government support apart from Gift Aid on qualifying private donations.

More information on the Fund’s website.

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“Most people in the mainstream film industry are the scum of the earth”

Lloyd Kaufman last night at his movie premiere

I attended a movie premiere in Leicester Square last night. Well, OK, it was just off Leicester Square. But it was still the British premiere – or it might have been the European premiere – of an American movie.

Well, OK, the premiere was of a movie by Troma Entertainment, purveyors of fine B-movie features such as The Toxic Avenger, Surf Nazis Must Die and Tromeo and Juliet. It was at the wonderfully-cultish Prince Charles Cinema.

Last night’s premiere was of Father’s Day (impressively produced, given it cost $10,000 to make), directed by five Canadians calling themselves Astron-6.

The last movie Troma released was Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead in 2006.

Introducing the new Father’s Day film was Troma’s capo di tutti capi Lloyd Kaufman. There was a queue literally round the block to see him. It is rare to see a Troma movie on the big screen in the UK and pretty-much unique to see Kaufman and his lovely wife of 40 years Patricia Swinney Kaufman, currently New York Film Commissioner. They had an announcement:

“We noticed,” said Lloyd Kaufman, “that there are currently a number of £100 million re-makes of movies that originally cost nothing. Well, Troma is going to do a re-make of a movie that cost nothing and we’re going to do the re-make for less than nothing. We’re gonna re-make Class of Nuke ‘Em High this summer and I will have the privilege of directing it. It will be a bit different. In the re-make, the young teenage couple will be a young teenage lesbian couple.”

This announcement by the neatly-suited man and his immaculately-dressed wife was greeted with whoops and cheers by the full-house audience which was dressed as if for a heavy metal rock show.

“Thankyou for supporting independent cinema and art!” Lloyd Kaufman shouted, when the whoops of joy had subsided.

Off-stage (I saw them before the screening), Lloyd Kaufman and his wife appear to be quiet, rather unassuming American tourists of a certain age. They had just flown in from Paris.

On-stage, Lloyd Kaufman turns into Mel Brooks. A loud, very funny New York Jewish salesman.

“I met Astron 6, who made Father’s Day,” he explained, “because they showed some short films at the TromaDance Film Festival. Then I met one of the Astron 6 people on the set of the re-make of Mother’s Day(The original 1980 version was directed by Lloyd Kaufman’s brother Charles)

“I thought it would be amusing if people would think Father’s Day was going to be a cynical attempt to ride the coat-tails of Charles Kaufman’s Mother’s Day which was being re-made as a big-budget movie. But Father’s Day has absolutely nothing to do with Mother’s Day, which I think is hilarious.

“I do believe,” he said, “that Astron-6 are continuing the Troma tradition of making films that come from the heart and are honest expressions of their soul without any thought to commercial success. Father’s Day is another movie that contributes to Troma’s 40 years of failed film-making.”

In fact, Father’s Day won several awards at last year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, including Best Film, Best Trailer and Best Poster.

In its heyday, Troma was always known for its posters. They used to think of a title, then design a poster, then sell it to distributors and, only after that, try to think what the script might be.

“I think,” he said, “that you will see a lot more from these Astron-6 guys in the same way as Trey Parker and Matt Stone (the creators of animated TV series South Park, who, like many, had an early involvement with Troma)

Former Troma guy James Gunn, who wrote and directed their Tromeo and Juliet in 1996, went on to direct the more mainstream science fiction horror comedy Slither in 2006. He was said, at one time, to have written a sadly-unproduced Troma movie Schlock & Schlockability: The Revenge of Jane Austen.

“But James Gunn didn’t write that,” Lloyd Kaufman revealed last night. “Another guy did – he was a postman – I can’t remember his name. We never got anywhere with it. We were hoping to get a British partner but, thusfar, we have not been able to get anybody.”

There have also been stories that Troma are to make Toxic Avenger 5: Toxic Twins.

“We have not yet been able to do that yet,” he explained philosophically. “Since nobody goes to our movies, we have no distribution anywhere and we don’t make any money… Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, my best movie, will never break even. We were plucked on that film. So there’s no purpose in making a movie unless we really, really love it.

Father’s Day we really loved, the Astron-6 guys were ready-to-go, so we did it. But, with Toxis Avenger 5, I have not gotten to where I really believe in it. Something I can get behind or, at least, get into my behind, is the Class of Nuke ‘Em High Redux. I think that’s something I can really believe in.

“The re-make of Class of Nuke ‘Em High will be shot on video because, finally, the quality of the digital format exceeds 35mm film. But we were always way ahead of the game, because we knew how to make 35mm look like shitty, unfocused, scratched VHS tape 40 years ago. So we’re just going back to our roots.”

Troma movies influenced directors like Quentin Tarantino and gave early work to people like actor Samuel L.Jackson and director Oliver Stone (as an actor).

“I think,” said Lloyd Kaufman, “that the Atron-6 guys will be accepted in the mainstream in the same way that James Gunn and Tarantino and Eli Roth have been. They were all fans of Troma or worked for Troma and want to make money.

“I don’t want to live in a refrigerated carton and be putting my shit in a paper bag, but I’m not able to make it in the mainstream. James Gunn and Trey Parker and Matt Stone and those guys are great people. Most people in the film industry who are in the mainstream are worse than wankers; they’re scum of the earth. But there are a small number who are sensational. And I’m sure that Astron-6 will be able to go mainstream and stay true to their souls and be honest, good, serious artists.

“I guess my message is just do what you believe in. Don’t listen to people. If idiots like me can survive for 40 years making films with hideously-deformed creatures of super-human size and father’s getting boffed up the behind and hard-bodied lesbians and all that sort of stuff, then anybody can do it. To thine own self be true. That is a phrase coined by one William Shakespeare who wrote the best-selling book 101 Money-Making Screenplay Ideas otherwise known as Hamlet

“Do what you believe in.”

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Repeat. Mantras and madness. Post traumatic stress. Repeat. Tap. Tap. Tap.

(This blog was also published in the Huffington Post)

Last Thursday, I wrote a blog about attending a Symposium at Lincoln University.

This Monday, I wrote a blog about being in a mental asylum when I was 18 after attempting suicide.

I only realised today that there is a link between the two, though tenuous.

One of the participants at the Symposium – a retired senior fire officer – said that, at one point in his life, he kept having a recurring image (spot the tautology) popping into his mind of a young girl with a hideously burnt face and body sitting in the back seat of his car when he looked into his rear view mirror

Eventually, he was able to find someone who could get the frightening image out of his mind. All that someone did was to tap their finger rhythmically on the senior fire officer’s hand.

It took three sessions, but it worked.

No idea why it worked.

Perhaps it was something to do with the rhythm of the distraction bringing the brain back to reality.

But, afterwards, he no longer saw in his mind the image of a young girl with a hideously burnt face and body in his rear view mirror.

The image he saw in his mind was eventually identified as the view he had had of a girl through the windscreen of the car she had been sitting in when it collided with another car, trapping her feet.  The car burst into flames and she burnt to death, while fully conscious. The senior fire officer had been in charge of the team that recovered her body, which involved him putting his face next to hers.

The repeated tapping on his hand somehow removed the repeated Post Traumatic Stress Disorder image from his brain.

I asked if the speed of the rhythm of the taps altered or if they were always at the same speed, because I thought maybe there was some connection with the fact that people can have epileptic fits when they see tsunamis of flash photography. I read once about people having epileptic fits when driving along a particular road in France.

It was one of those long, straight, flat roads with tall trees planted on each side at regular intervals. When there was bright sunlight shining through the trees at one side and a car drove at a particular speed, the trees caused the human eye to see flashes of sunlight at a rhythm which, I think, coincided with the brain waves of drivers prone to epilepsy and they had a fit. The solution was to replant the trees at irregular intervals.

I wondered if tapping at a particular speed was somehow replicating the speed of some brain waves.

I showed a rough version of the blog you are now reading to the retired senior fire officer this morning. He warned me:

“Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is somewhat different to the epileptic fit process you describe and it does not help those who suffer to confuse the two.

“In my case, I blame thirty plus years of emergency service work in both the Police and Fire Services.  Whilst a single traumatic (traumatic in the eye of the beholder, but not necessarily in the eye of someone else) event can have long lasting impact, the impact of multiple traumatic events over a period of years, (say daily or more frequently for thirty years) is more likely to cause problems for that viewer, unless they are emotionless.

“The impact of long term exposure to horror or stress has been described to me as being like placing books of problems on a shelf. At some point there will be too many books on the shelf for the screws holding it up, they will loosen and the shelf collapses. The shelf and books have to be re-hung and re-ordered. That’s what the tapping does. It re-tightens the screws and re-orders the books in the right place.

“My burnt girl vision came about some years after the event when my then employers sought to train me and five other officers in how to deal with traumatised fire fighters. To do this, they used a number of actors to play the roles of the said fire fighters and explain to us their feelings after a particular set of scenarios including a person being burnt alive. We had to recognise and treat their suffering. Four or five of the six of us receiving this training then experienced our own Post Traumatic Stress Disorder  symptoms, which had to be treated. The training method was then abandoned.”

It would be interesting to know why the repeated tapping cured his Post Traumatic Stress Disorder visions of the young girl with a hideously burnt face.

I have never tried chanting mantras morning and night – as someone I met the other week does. My sense of the ridiculous holds me back. But I think I read somewhere that it does not matter what you chant – you could chant over and over again Om mani padme hum – or Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare – or Scrambled eggs, see me eating, thirty scrambled eggs to the tune of The Beatles’ Yesterday – and the effect would be the same.

I remember lying in a bed in King George’s Hospital in Ilford after I had tried to commit suicide and I realised, without consciously having started to do it, that my forefinger was tapping rhythmically on the mattress under the pillow loud enough for me to hear it through the pillow though not loud enough for anyone else to hear it. For some reason, this helped clear my mind of thoughts, perhaps like some sort of repeated mantra.

It is the repetition not the content which is important.

The human brain must be an interesting thing.

I wish I knew something about it.

Perhaps those episodes of Doctor Who which had The Master going on and on and on about hearing a tap-tap-tapping in his head had some reflection in reality.

I must watch the repeats.

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Shoreditch dreams – Satanic stand-up comedy and Lycra-clad policemen

Perhaps it was the fact I only had two hours sleep the previous night.

But what is it with Shoreditch in London?

It seems to have aspirations to be trendy Islington but its pockets of aspiring Yuppieness have been dropped down into what, at night, seems like a set from a Jack The Ripper film – jet-black stone streets with added 21st century traffic. It’s like King’s Cross but darker and with less investment.

Shoreditch is a dark night-time nether corner of schizophrenic Hackney, where partly-trendy-yet-immensely-downmarket Hoxton meets a corner of Hackney proper and the world that was the Kray TwinsBethnal Green, which now has 1950s Brits intermingled with penniless immigrants who have nothing but hope in two generations time.

And round the corner from all this sit the glass towers and stone solidity of the City of London.

Shoreditch is a very strange place.

The area is like some darkly surreal imagining on the thin border where a dream may or may not turn into a nightmare.

So, a couple of nights ago, I went to Shoreditch after only a couple of hours sleep the previous night with these thoughts in my mind and comedy in my heart.

Yes, I have no fear of bad writing.

I went to see the weekly Cantaloopy Comedy show run by Miss D aka the interesting part-comedian, part serious journalist that is Daphna Baram.

Last time I went, the Cantaloupe pub cat stole the show, meandering across the stage and occasionally finding high points from which to look down disdainfully at the performing comedians.

This time, sadly for me, there was no cat but also, sadly, no headliner Arthur Smith, whose mother had had a bad fall. Daphna reckons I am bad luck when I go to one of her gigs. She may be right.

But the Cantaloopy bill was so choc-a-bloc, the lack of the two main attractions did not damage the show.

One highlight for me was Janet Bettesworth, who is just plain weird and I cannot for the life of me figure out why.  It had nothing to do with my lack of sleep. It has something to do with her Joanna Lumley voice, the dry sometimes almost literary delivery, the unexpected shock of red hair and her extraordinary transformation late in the act into a comedy ventriloquist with Hammer Horror hints. It was like watching a refined relative talk sweetly to you but with a whiff of the Satanic and dark deeds behind the curtains of Middle England wafting from the stage. I began, at one point, to think I must be hallucinating.

Highly entertained and utterly fascinated… but hallucinating.

This can’t be happening, I thought.

Yet it was and I was pleased it was.

I knew it wasn’t my lack of sleep. I had seen Janet Bettesworth before and was equally mesmerised before.

I had never seen David Mills before despite the fact he was recently crowned New Act of the Year – the highly prestigious award formerly known as the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year and proof that something good can occasionally come out of Hackney.

But I was amazed how a totally top-notch professional camp American of this quality had  escaped my radar. Especially as he has apparently lived in the UK for a decade. Much like Maureen Younger being a new act for me at a Pull The Other One gig a couple of weeks ago.

Curiouser and curiouser.

A few weeks ago, someone mistook me for Antipodean intellectual Clive James. At Cantaloopy, David Mills said I reminded him of Shrek. I know which I prefer. But alas I know which is more realistic.

Altogether an unusual night in Shoreditch especially when, on my walk back to the car, I bumped into Noel Faulkner just leaving his Comedy Cafe venue and, after crossing Shoreditch High Street, he became fascinated by the sight of two police cars pursuing a man on a skateboard.

“The guy should just keep going,” Noel said to me. “Police cars will never catch a skateboard.”

When I reached my own car I saw, up an adjacent side street, two policemen and a policewoman milling around in the middle of the road while another two policemen were climbing up on a wall to look over railings into a graveyard.

I wondered what the man had done. Perhaps we are on the cusp of a spate of major skateboard robberies which will be countered by Scotland Yard establishing a Skateboard Squad of Lycra-clad coppers.

Or perhaps I just need more sleep.

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“Killer Bitch”, a UK crime crisis and “Citizen Kane”

I was talking to one of the Killer Bitch cast yesterday and (as one who knows) he came out with the legendary line: “I’ve got no money at the moment and xxxx xxxxxxx ain’t got no money either. The bottom’s fallen out of Crime.”

Has Britain fallen this low? Sir Francis Drake made England great by robbing Spanish ships of their gold and the East India Company built Queen Victoria’s glorious British Empire on the heroin trade.

We live in difficult economic times. Or do we? Opinion varies.

A recent report said organised crime caused “an estimated £30 billion a year in social and economic harm” to the UK. I’m not quite sure what “harm” means in this context. Presumably it means there is a £30 billion black economy underpinning the ‘legitimate’ economy. But it’s all guestimates on guestimates. A recent report by the Association of Chief Police Officers claimed the UK underworld economy is now worth around £40 billion a year.

I’m more concerned that fake DVD production is now reckoned to be worth £300 million in the UK. I had vaguely hoped Killer Bitch might be fairly immune to this because I had hoped that the people most likely to rip us off were actually involved in the movie in some way – and therefore highly unlikely to rip us off. I had, however, reckoned without the international nature of modern movie rip-off-dom.

Still, I am filled with hope for the future of Killer Bitch because Michael Deeley, the highly-regarded head of British Lion Films reportedly said, when his company released The Wicker Man in 1973, that it was the worst film he had ever seen. Years later, the equally highly-regarded Cinefantastique magazine devoted at entire issue to The Wicker Man, famously calling it “the Citizen Kane of horror films”, while the Los Angeles Times said it was: “Witty & scary! No one who sits through it to the end is likely to find it easy to shake off.”

Likewise, no-one who sits through Killer Bitch with an increasingly dropped jaw and open mouth is ever likely to forget it. Bland it is certainly not.

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