1998 Festival of Fantastic Films Progress Report Two
Surveying the Situation
Editorial by Harry Nadler
Jonathan Cowie's item in our letters page this issue makes
a number of points in favour of an extra day for the 10th Fest next year. Jonathan's
appraisal of the extra day situation makes some sense I think But as you will see from the
Survey Results below, 62% of attendees to this year's Fest said NO to an extra day in
1999. So it looks as though we have to put the idea on the back burner and the interest in
the idea that was mooted at last year's closing session was obviously due to the vast
quantities of ale consumed by all and sundry and the adrenaline of the last day of a good
But in the cold light of day the morning after.....
The chances of a sudden rush of fans voting for a four-day event for our 10th year are pretty slim! So if you wanted it to happen - just treat yourself to Thursday at Sachas anyway and join in the early birds in the downstairs bar! And you can do that this year!
Also in our LetterCol this ish, Peter Vickers takes the Sci-Fi Channel's Mystery Science Theatre to task for ruining what could have been a great season of rare and classic sci-fi, if only they'd left the movies alone.
I remember a number of years ago that Fractured Flickers upset a great many fans of silent films, and now our beloved films are being ruined by so called smart alecks who think they are being funny. We know how to enjoy "B" movies - and we can get a great deal of pleasure marveling at what could be done on such low budgets, marveling at the wonder of it all in its own time scale and enjoying a nostalgic look-back. We also get a lot of laughs from some of them - but our laughter is generated by the movie and the audience that has an appreciation of the genre and a respect for it. It seems a great pity that the Sci-Fi Channel is doing such a disservice to the very fans who are the base audience for their station. Don't they realise how rare many of the films they are running in the series are and how much more popular they would be as a TV Channel if they played them as they were intended to be seen?
It is with much regret that we have to tell you that Hazel Court has advised us that she may not be able to attend this year after all. Her husband Don Taylor is unwell and Hazel says it looks as though her trip to the UK at the end of August, as she had planned, may not now be possible. She does however ask to take a rain-check in the hope that she would be among our Guests of Honour for the 1999 event and sends her very best wishes and apologies to everyone who was looking forward to meeting her this year. Obviously we are somewhat shattered by this news, and we know by the amount of mail we have received just how many of you have been busy finding material for Hazel to sign, and will be as disappointed as we are. If there is any chance at all that Hazel Court is able to attend we will let you know in the final PR in August.
We are delighted to tell all the Hammer fans among you that Bray's top stuntman Eddie Powell will be our guest in September. Eddie was stuntman in many of the classic Hammer movies. He doubled for Christopher Lee on many occasions (including The Mummy). But Eddie Powell's career took him to Hollywood as well as Bray and you can hear the full story from the man himself in an interview with Steve Laws currently penciled in for Sunday September 6th. We are even more pleased to hear that JANINA FAYE will be travelling up with Eddie (Janina kindly put us in contact with him), as she enjoyed last year so much she wanted to come back for more!
So our Guest list at the moment comprises of GERRY ANDERSON (Joe 90, Stingray, Thunderbirds, UFO, Space 1999 etc); STEPHEN WEEKS (director of Ghost Story, I Monster, Gawain and the Green Knight etc); AIDA YOUNG (producer of Dracula Has Risen From the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula etc) and EDDIE POWELL (see above).
Dine With a Guest
A couple of years ago we tried an experiment in which we invited you to take a Guest out to dine. The idea was that it would serve a double purpose by helping the committee to entertain Guests during their stay and give a number of attendees the chance to have a meal and chat with the guest of their choice. Those who tried it had a great couple of hours in the company of other fans and a guest(s). The idea is that a number of attendees could accompany one or more of the guests for a meal either in Sachas French Restaurant, Jenny's in the basement or to an outside location within reachable distance of the Hotel. We can advise you where there are suitable places to eat and what sort of food any individual guest prefers. We'd prefer to make these events group occasions, and the group would obviously split the cost between them. So we invite you to apply NOW - stating which of the Guests announced so far you would like to take to dine (give alternatives if possible) and we will collate the requests and advise you prior to the Fest if you have been successful. You may apply as an individual (and would then join up with others to make a party of 4 to 6 people) or as a group. If the latter, please state who would be included with you. If you have any queries on this idea, please drop us a note at our usual address.
A number of people have told us that Sachas have not confirmed bookings to them this year and when asked the hotel informed us that they have only sent confirmations to those people who actually asked for one! We fail to understand why they are doing it this way, as last year didn't the confirmation request you to present it at the registration desk? If you have any doubts and want to re-assure yourself, we suggest you contact Sachas directly during business hours on 0161- 228 1234.
If you haven't yet booked - don't leave it too late - BOOK NOW by returning the official Hotel Booking Form direct to Sachas. And if you want confirmation ASK FOR IT!!
We had managed to hold Sachas to the amazing £1 per pint on our Convention Bar for the past few years, but unfortunately this year they wanted to increase it to £1.50 per pint. We had a long meeting with the management and eventually met halfway with a price of £1.25 per pint of draught beer. Drink a lot, folks, while you can.... we expect the extra 25p to go on for the 1999 tariff !
Our Website is kindly managed by our good pal from days gone bye, Bill Burns in Long Island just outside of New York. Bill very kindly volunteered to set the site up and he adds to it as we send him updates etc. Bill and his wife Mary visit the UK each Easter for the annual British SF Convention where they run the Art Auction. It's about time all this unpaid work for us was acknowledged here and the FantasticFest organisers and attendees are very grateful to you good folks. Thanks, Bill.
So do call in next time you Internet Users are on-line and take a look at the site:
There are a number of reviews of last year's events and previous Fests too, plenty of photos from 1997, plus links to various related areas. It's good to see some of you have been there and used the on-line application form to register! We are always pleased to hear of ideas for the Site - do email us at <[email protected]>.
Mike Hankin has recently finished work on his book Ray Harryhausen: Master of the Majicks, and despite the near collapse of his publishers, Kitchen Sink Press in America, the company are back on-line and hope to publish Mike's long awaited book any time now. But Mike has turned his attention to a book on the George Pal Puppetoons and would appreciate any help from Festival members who are familiar with these films. You can write to Mike Hankin at 51 Beechen Lane, Lower Kingswood, Tadworth, Surrey, KT20 6RU. Or telephone him on 01737 832340.
The Festival Questionnaire devised by SF & F Concatenation and the NW Kent SF Society on our behalf has produced some interesting statistics for us all to think about.
With 120 respondents up to May 20th 1998 we have collated here the top end of the results and have not shown anything that only had a small % of votes.
To recap, the Survey asked: Given that one and a half programme streams will remain as-is (i.e. leaning towards golden oldies, Hammer horror, and old B-type SF), what sort of Fantastic Films would you like to see in the other one and a half programme streams?
Type of films you want to see:
34% of you want additional old movies.
19% want additional modern horror movies.
18% want additional Science Fiction movies.
(Space Opera, Disaster, Hi-Tech, Anime etc fell into the "below 7% levels" of votes.)
78% YES and 22% NO.
More TV material:
56% YES and 44% NO.
More "Early Withdrawn" films
69% YES and 31% NO.
More 3-D movies:
59% YES and 41% NO
More "Gimmick" films:
77% YES and 23% NO.
The Ideal Number of Guests of Honour:
Only ONE GoH: 3% Two GoH: 26%
Three GoH: 41% Four GoH: 28%
Five GoH: 0% Six GoH: 1%
Seven GoH: 1%
23% YES 77% NO.
On the question of the extra day for 1999:
Only 38% YES and 62% NO.
So on the most important point of discussion (from last year's closing session) the extra day for 1999, only 38% of us are in favour. Tony Edwards, our treasurer - he with the finger on the pulse of what's affordable - says that we'd need at least a 75% vote FOR an extra day to make it viable. So perhaps we now should have our own referendum on the subject and everyone who attends this year will say Yes or NO for a four day 10th Festival in 1999.
Do take note however, that each year a few more fans are at the hotel on Thursday night and all the committee are of course, as the setting up starts at around 8pm. We had a great pre-night gathering in the downstairs bar last year, so do think about treating yourself and joining us early for this year! (See you then, Vanessa!)
Hammer at Bray
Hammer fans should not miss the Golden opportunity to visit Bray Studios on a special Open Day on June 27th 1998. Today's Bray is used mainly for corporate video productions, but this is the original home of Hammer and many celebrities from the world of Hammer films are expected to attend. Plans for the day include a celebrity auction with proceeds going to the Ralph Bates Cancer Fund and the guest line-up of Hammer personalities includes Veronica Carlson, Michael Ripper, Ingrid Pitt, Yutte Stensgaard, Caroline Munro, Virginia Wetherell, Damien Thomas, Suzanna Leigh, Hazel Court, Tudor Gates, Janina Faye, Brook Williams, Jacqueline Pearce, Don Taylor, John Forbes-Robertson, Susan Farmer, Renee Glynne, Martine Beswick, Valerie Leon and more... with hopes that Christopher Lee will be there. It will cost £55 to attend and you should send your cheque to Graham Skeggs, Hammer Films, Elstree Studios, Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1JG.
Greasepaint and Gore
The Hammer Monsters of Roy Ashton by Bruce Sachs and Russell Wall. ISBN -0 953 1926 0 1. A4 paperback, 160 pages (approx). Illustrations - 200 b&w photos, 20 colour photos (approx) . Published by Tomahawk Press, PO Box 1236 Sheffield S11 7XU, England.
We have already seen some advance pages of this wonderful book and are very, very impressed! Many of you will recall the presentations that Bruce and Russell did at the FantasticFest a couple of years ago. You'll want to own this treasure-house of Roy Ashton's work and it will be ready by Fest time. But you can pre-order NOW... see the info at the bottom of this description of the book.
When Roy Ashton, Europe's King of Horror, died in 1995, he left behind a priceless legacy of drawings, designs, make-up test stills, models and notes. This collection has been acquired by the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television, who wish to archive and preserve this wonderful insight into a horror make-up master. Now, every horror fan can also own this fantastic collection, as Greasepaint and Gore reveals through these never-before-seen designs and photographs a unique insight into British horror cinema.
The book's text will be largely in Ashton's own words, with additional contributions from many actors and crew - many speaking for the first time in print.
A prologue by Peter Cushing is followed by 17 chapters detailing Roy Ashton's creative achievements including The Mummy, The Curse of the Werewolf, Phantom of the Opera, The Evil of Frankenstein, The Gorgon, She, Plague of the Zombies, The Reptile, Vault of Horror, Tales From the Crypt, Dr. Terror's House of Horror and many more. Each chapter will be profusely illustrated with artwork and photographs from Roy Ashton's private collection. The book will also include a detailed catalogue of an important and unique acquisition by a prestigious national museum.
A behind-the-scenes insight into the creative process of the golden years of Hammer Films through the eyes of the people who made the Horrors!
Greasepaint and Gore can be ordered from Vine House Distribution, Waldenbury, North Common, Chailey, Sussex BN8 4DR. Tel: 01825 723398 Fax: 01825 724188.
reserve your copy now - VISA and MasterCard accepted.
American readers can contact BHB International, PO Box 1857, Murray Hill Station, New York, NY 10156-1857. Tel: (212) 593-1830 Fax: (212) 935-6377.
The '98 Fest seems to be shaping up nicely - can't wait to meet Hazel Court. The most interesting films from your proposed selection so far are "Waxworks", "Black Raven" (we need more of George!), "Dr Satan's Robot", "Soul of a Monster", "Frozen Ghost", "Back From the Dead", "Creature From Black Lake". If I get to see just a few of the above, plus meet Hazel, the weekend would be made already! Please avoid booking "The Thirsty Dead". I guarantee nobody would want to see it!
Movies like "Babe", although popular, are just not relevant to our festival.
My usual request for obscure titles follows: Dr Renault's Secret, Flying Serpent, Who Killed Doc Robin (Yes, more George Z!), Invisible Invaders, Black Sabbath, Castle of the Living Dead, Revenge of the Blood Beast, Murder by the Clock, Sabaka, The Ape Man, Hunchback of the Morgue, Diabolical Dr Z... I could go on.....!
On to a different subject.
I would like to seek the support of all true movie fans in my campaign to get the appalling "Mystery Science Theatre" removed from the Sci-Fi Channel's schedules. For those fortunate enough not to have encountered this abomination, it consists of playing a (usually 50's) movie, with the silhouette of robot characters superimposed over the lower half of the screen. These characters proceed to make dumb comments throughout the movie, which are neither amusing nor clever in any way. Movies so far ruined in this way include "Leech Woman", "The Mole People", "Revenge of the Creature" (which could not be claimed to be a 'bad' movie by anyone with knowledge/love of the cinema) and "The Deadly Mantis". This treatment of movies is insulting both to the audience's intelligence and to the film makers, and is made all the more annoying by the fact that many of the movies chosen are rarely, if ever, screened on British TV.
Lon Chaney Jr was reported to be extremely angry when his father's "Hunchback of Notre Dame" was screened on "Fractured Flickers", a predecessor of MST which added dumb sound-track to silent movies. I imagine Lon and all the other horror heroes must be spinning in their graves every time a MST screening takes place.
We owe it to them to do all we can to put an end to this form of lazy, totally non-creative programming.
I would encourage every horror/SF/Fantasy film fan and anyone who loves movies to write to the Sci-Fi Channel at 77 Charlotte Street, London W1P 2DD. Make your voice heard and together we may be able to rid the airwaves of this pollution.
Yours Angrily, Peter A. Vickers - Gillingham, Kent.
Ed: See Editorial on page 2.
First off, very sorry for not writing sooner, pressure of work and all that - yakerty-yak.
Anyhow, Fes'97, the best one yet. Once again you guys outdid yourselves. I felt, and so did others, that it ran smoother than ever before. The silents were the highlight for me, in one of the small suites was perfect and Tony Meadows as projectionist made it pure entertainment! I don't know how others feel, but I'd limit the amount of new films further. I can rent most on video, it's the older stuff that I attend for.
Best film? The Orson Welles short that Richard Gordon brought along. A truly wonderful piece of cinema and very scary. Thanks, Richard!
The Film Quiz? Be warned... the Hal E. Chester Appreciation Society will be back. We are, as we speak, hard into training. We feel that Gleniver was not the ideal drink for us, maybe Glenmorangie this year? Anyway, some year, some Fest. we're going to beat someone; after all we got three questions right! (oh yeah, many thanks to Steve Laws, your ... er...em help was appreciated!). Final notes on the Fest - more panels, more silents, less G.o.H's. Oh Yeah... re the panels. Let's have more meaty topics - censorship has been done to death.
Films I'd like to see - wish list:-
1. Beauty and the Beast (Jean Cocteau)
2. Beyond the Time Barrier (Edgar G. Ulmer)
3. The Black Cat (Karloff and Lugosi)
4. Cat People (Jacques Tournier)
5. The Day the Earth Caught Fire (Val Guest)
6. The Miracle Mile (Chaney)
7. M (Fritz Lang)
8. Peeping Tom (Michael Powell)
9. White Zombie (Lugosi)
10. Lots of silents, please....
Since the '97 Fest I saw "Starship Troopers". What a pile of crap! It really was a fascist's wet-dream! The story, from a nasty book by Heinlein, was pathetic. The acting awful and the directing lazy. The SPFX's were good, but, I'm sorry, I still found it a thoroughly repulsive film. I've been told it's a satire - well, I'm sorry, but satire is supposed to be sharp and cutting, this wasn't.
The fascist imagery was almost too much for me to take. It's no use saying it's just a film, it does have effect on the world outside. The Nazis used similar reactionary imagery in their propaganda films, Jews were fraudsters and disease carriers. This type of message de-humanised people. Okay, it was a long way from such propaganda, but it is within spitting distance. Try this: replace the aliens with either, Jews, homosexuals or blacks, then think about the film.
I know you could do this with any film, but this film has a different attitude. The whole gung-ho mind-set, the way only those that score can vote, the weak are killed and dismissed without thought, the uniforms are almost identical to the S.S. and Gestapo and finally - the main characters could easily be described as very Aryan. I really could go on longer, suffice it to say, this film is totally repugnant and without any redeeming features whatsoever. Some may still say it's a satire, well I'm sorry, but "Dr Strangelove" is satire, "Oh What a Lovely War" is satire. The difference? "Starship Troopers" sided with the characters it was supposed to be satirising.
Wow! Glad I got that off my chest, partially at least.
All the best, Simon Scott - Monton, Manchester.
Ed: We see into films in many different ways - that's what makes movies work on different levels. I didn't like the television series "V" because of it's Nazi symbolism and shallowness of the storyline - but found "Starship Troopers" so full of awe inspiring visuals and action after the first intentionally boring soapy start - that I enjoyed it tremendously.
Dear Harry et al (specially my mate Al)
Many thanks for PR1. Yes fully understand reason for your gradually increasing the attendance rates (£1 early on is worth more than £1 close to the convention) just as I do, as a fellow con-runner, the comments of Roy Spence in PR1 of all the time, hard work and effort you guys on the committee put in. As you know I go to two or three SF conventions a year, but I can honestly say that Fantastic Film Fest is one of the best organised conventions of those series of conventions currently running in Europe. I join Roy in 'exhorting you to keep up the good work'. For this reason may I gently urge fellow Fest patrons to both book early and. as importantly, to fill in the Fest survey questionnaire: I hope that its results help.
Turning to the question of extra day, costs and Fest size, these are all inter-related. Yes, an extra day of the full blown Festival will increase capital-costs by about 30%, but an extra day per se need not. As you point out not everyone can afford an extra day of fest, be it in cost or time-of-work terms. On the other hand some undoubtedly will, and many at last year's closing ceremony did like the sound of an extra day. So why not indulge in the great British compromise? Why not have an extra day without all the programme streams up and running? Furthermore some of the films you show on the extra day might be repeated later in the convention. Regarding facilities, I am sure that if you explained to the hotel that the full cost of an extra day was something the Festival had difficulty affording that they would give you a substantial discount on the hire of the facilities: after all what is their alternative? To have the facilities empty and have fewer beds sold? The extra day might be billed as more of a relaxation day, getting re-acquainted with old friends before the main thrust of the Festival gets underway. Besides, for those for whom finance is not so constraining and for whom travel represents a goodly proportion of the overall cost, the extra day makes sense in terms of hours of Festival per £($) spent on travel. (Indeed this may help give the Fest a marginally more international feel.)
Regarding size. Agreed a substantially larger convention runs the danger (though not the certainty) of becoming less intimate. Yet given that for most programme items there are plenty of seats space I would not be too worried by numbers going up by say 20% (except in the evening queue at the bar).
Turning to Tony Edwards' editorial comments on real-life cloning (what other sort is there I hear you cry) and fantastic films, I guess as the Fest's resident scientist it kind of behooves me to provide a point of information. Not withstanding Tony's excellent potted history of cloning in fantastic films, the real-life (aptly named) Dr Seed's proposals to clone a human being in the near future are arguably somewhat unrealistic, especially as a commercial service. Dolly the cloned sheep arrived due to tremendous effort and expense at a horrendous fail rate that would be probably unacceptable to most, both commercially and ethically. Finally, as to cloning itself, I share Tony Edward's lack of concern. After all I have difficulty telling sheep apart as it is....
Ed: See Editorial on page 2.
I enclose a cheque and my registration form and completed survey.
Having only now seen the new video releases of Satan's Slave and Terror (from Sovereign) I must hold my hands up and re-evaluate my opinion on Norman J. Warren. (I missed the showing of Inseminoid and his talk in favour of Pervirella / Creepers in the video showroom). His 'cheap' brand of splatter / exploitation works far better then the better known Pete Walker, in my opinion, and the deaths rate alongside Argento's in gore (well I guess they do in the uncut versions). Remembering the budget constraints in the quality of actors / sets / sfx they still pack quite a punch. I would be delighted if this year you had a Night of TERROR (groan) giving N.J. Warren more time to talk on his own about his films and his art, even if it was only upstairs in the smaller rooms for video showings of his films. (I confess I bluffed an informal chat with him on the Sunday without knowing much about him but with a feature in Dark Side and these video releases, his work is hopefully now more wider known).
Speaking of Dark Side, latest issue has a letter from someone else who watched Pervirella on the Friday night. Hope you don't take up his request and have a poetry competition!
Ed: We spoke to Norman and he's happy to put together a tape of clips from most of his movies to screen and discuss. The upstairs location would make such a discussion a lot more intimate and accessible as sometimes the large main hall and stage discourages feedback from the audience. In fact we'll be looking at doing more of this kind of programming this year.
First, while I would be delighted if the Festival took on an extra day (or even more!) I can imagine that the escalating cost will put off many attendees - and there is surely a danger that some people, faced with not being able to afford the extra day(s), would then abandon the Festival altogether. My own main concern would be whether the extra time would stretch the programme too thinly. Obviously the way to obviate this would be to introduce strands covering genres such as those identified on the survey form - but that would not be to my taste.
I was first attracted to the Festival precisely because of the concentration on older (black and white) horror and SF films. I have had no problems at all with the introduction of premieres and the screenings of more recent horror/SF films, but I think it would be unfortunate if the Festival moved into other genres that are (mostly) already adequately covered by specialist conventions. If you mix and match too much you surely run the risk of leaving everyone unsatisfied.
Second; I wonder why the hotel has such a problem with supplying hot food through the day. I remember a few years ago they provided beefburgers with chips and lasagna with chips as two of the main selections. I would have thought that reasonably fare such as these basic items would be ideal for most attendees and I can't see why this obviously causes such a problem (the hotel must make a good profit, surely?). Having such items available, with unrestricted serving right through the day and evening (remember that film times don't usually coincide with 'proper' meal times!), would encourage further bar sales and mean that we wouldn't need to rush out to the city centre - especially when it's raining!
Third; you are right to clarify the position regarding charging for autographs. In the last year or so a few celebrities seem to have turned up at the last minute without having been previously advertised as guests. While it is always nice to have one or two surprise appearances, it did seem to me that some of them were there from a more commercial point of view than to 'meet their fans'. As such, they would not provide autographs unless a photograph was purchased from them. In the context of what the Festival is aiming to be, this is not the most appropriate behaviour. I agree that autographs on attendees' own material should not be dependent upon the purchase of a photograph.
Fourth; in recent years there have been films screened during Friday afternoon, prior to the official opening. As one of the many who make sure of arriving early I am very grateful for the chance to see something during the afternoon and I hope that this will continue.
Finally, a word about the proposed film line up. If you show nothing else over the weekend please, please include Soul of a Monster (especially) and Dr Satan's Robots. You have no doubt gathered where my interests lie, but in 27 years of chasing old films around the country I have never had the chance to see these two. One of the many highlights for me at the Festival is the chance to see films that have previously eluded me - and on the big screen rather than video.
So there - you have your orders!
With very best wishes, Dave Simpson.
As always it was great to receive word of the forthcoming festival and I'm looking forward to it already - I'm certain that the usual gang from this part of the world will be accompanying me, including projectionist extraordinaire Dave Gold, who will be thrilled to meet Hazel Court!
Nice to see Ray Selfe mentioned in the progress report, and that his notorious compilation Don't Scream It's Only a Movie has become available to you - a must as far as I'm concerned. The suggestion that the festival should branch out to embrace some of the 1930's comedy gets a welcome from me too (and, I'm sure, from the many Marx Bros/Laurel and Hardy buffs who I know will be attending) - in fact, you could screen plenty of this type of material without straying too far from the fantasy/horror/sf remit. W.C. Fields' Million Dollar Legs and Never Give a Sucker an Even Break surely qualify as fantasy films. Likewise the Marx Bros. Duck Soup - as for Stan and Ollie, there are plenty of genre items to choose from; Flying Elephants, Do Detectives Think? (featuring Noah Young as the terrifying "Tipton Slasher"!), Habeas Corpus, Dirty Work, Oliver the Eighth, The Live Ghost, The Laurel and Hardy Murder Case, Babes in Toyland, even Flying Deuces with its 'reincarnation' climax. The Three Stooges met a werewolf-type creature in Idle Roomers, one of Egypt's finest in We Want Our Mummy, and spirits galore in Spook Louder, The Ghost Talks and Spooks; how about Wheeler and Woolsey in Mummy's Boys, The Ritz Brothers with Atwill and Lugosi in The Gorilla, Olsen and Jolson in Hellzapoppin' and The Ghost Catchers, or Buster Keaton in The Three Ages and Sherlock Jr.? Enough there for an entire festival, when you think about it...
The countdown to September is underway!
I have great pleasure in returning my registration form and I've also completed the survey. Although I have indicated a yes for an extra day for the next festival, I think in most circumstances a three day event is sufficient. As the next is the 10th Festival you may wish to make it an extra special one with extra special guests and the may demand the fourth day. Guests - I personally would love to see Christopher Lee, Stan Winston, Ray Harryhausen (yes I know he has appeared before but I had not heard of your festival at that time), John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis.
Last year was the first time I had ever been to a film festival and I did intend to write and thank you for organising the event so well. Like so many things, I didn't get around to doing it. The event was one that I thoroughly enjoyed and intend to attend regularly in the future.
I am pleased that the charging for autographs by guests has been stopped. It was something that did annoy me. Something else that upset me a bit, but is something which might be difficult to get around, is the length of time / number of autographs some people took with the guests in the signing room. I can appreciate that if someone is a particular admirer of a guest he may want to spend some time in a one-to-one basis with the guest - it could be the only time in their life that the opportunity arises for this to happen. I heard on a couple of occasions while I was waiting in the line moaning from people up ahead about the number of stills that someone else was wanting to get signed. The worst occasion was waiting to see Veronica Carlson (who I must say was a very charming and kindly person to talk with) and I waited for about an hour and as a result missed the Creepers film being shown that night. Maybe a restriction of autographs per guest might be an idea? Anyway, that was my only major complaint about the festival, but as I said previously, may be something that would be difficult or unpopular to supervise even if you wanted to do it.
Thanks again for last year, I look forward to this year's festival with great anticipation.
This is the first time I've ever registered for the Festival on the same day that I received the Progress Report and registration form! It's not that I'm trying to get the lowest possible registration number, but I've been looking forward so much to the Festival and I've already budgeted for the registration fee so I didn't see any point in waiting! You may also be pleased to know that the Cult TV convention which I normally attend, clashes with the Festival this year so I've forsaken Cult TV specially for the Festival of Fantastic Films!
I've no particular requests for film this year - your suggested list looks mouth watering enough. I'm not sure if I like the idea of non-genre films such as Laurel and Hardy and The Marx Brothers etc. as much as I like these old comedy acts, I feel that we should keep up to the title of the Festival and stick to films of the SF/Horror/Fantasy genres, otherwise where do we draw the line? Before we know it we'll be watching the Carry On and Lassie films! Unless we have comedy/horror crossovers such as Carry On Screaming, Haunted Honeymoon etc.
I have a few comments to make on the survey questions:
(1) I don't really like the idea of 'space opera' such as Star Trek or Star Wars at the Festival because, as much as I think these films are brilliant, there are plenty of Trek and Star Wars conventions where these films must get shown but I suppose because they're SF, maybe one or two of these films should be included.
(2) Although this is a Film Festival and we should really stick to film not TV, again it might be nice to include a few genre series or TV movies. It would certainly be appropriate this year to have some of Gerry Anderson's productions such as Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet etc., seeing as he is going to be one of our GoHs. I know a genre TV programme stream was included at the first Festival and was rather unsuccessful, but maybe this would be more acceptable now that the Festival is fully established.
(3) I am still undecided whether I like the idea of a four day Festival or not. In theory it would be great, but it would be financially difficult for most of us, whether Sachas did a special room rate of not. Not only that, but would the Committee really relish an extra day? (Ironically, I may be coming up to Manchester the day before the Festival this year, so that I can have a proper look around the city centre and take a tram ride - something alien to us Southerners! There is never time for sightseeing usually but I may treat myself to an extra day as I won't be paying out for any more conventions this year!)
(4) I love the idea of 3-D films but in practice I hate having to wear those hideous specs. They are most uncomfortable for anyone like myself who wears glasses normally, and if you wear them over glasses I do not think they are as effective. They actually hurt my eyes after a while. I long for the day when a 3-D film can be developed without the need for special specs! I think a 'gimmick' film or two is a good idea. Not too many, or the novelty wears thin.
(5) I think four Guests of Honour, a few visiting speakers and the amount of films already shown at the Festival is just the right mix.
(6) A set dinner sounds a nice idea but could be too costly, depending on where and what you have in mind (as long as it isn't Sachas Hot Pot Supper!). The word "formal" definitely puts me off though - I only bring jeans and T-shirts with me to the Festival and I don't like the thought of having to dress up for dinner!
The dead dog party last year was brilliant but for a bit of fun that we could all join in, what about a team quiz of some sort, where each table is a team. Possible ideas:-
(a) general knowledge quiz similar to The Great Movie Quiz
(b) observation or general knowledge quiz with video clips
(c) film theme music quiz
(d) short clips of one film with music from another and each team to say which film the clip is from and which the music is from.
The answers could be asked in turn to each team, or written answers which could be swapped with other tables to mark afterwards. These are just some ideas from quizzes I've organised or taken part in.
I do hope my comments have been of help to you. Whatever happens, I look forward to seeing everyone in September.
.... Combined with a rather poor line up of guests (for my tastes) I wasn't sure whether to register or not. But hopefully there will be some films we will enjoy watching; obscure films not on TV regularly or easily available on video. e.g.: Last Man on Earth or Island of Death, or Joan Collins in Revenge are the sort of thing that makes the fest worthwhile. Not mainstream rubbish like Lost Boys or Screamers or ID4. Could you get movies like Vampyres uncut, or Killers Moon or Manchester Morgue or Danger Diabolique or Black Sabbath etc etc or Guests like Madeline Smith or Giovanni Lambardo Raddicci aka John Morgan or Ian Ogilvy (in relation to his work with Michael Reeves - 3 films altogether) or Undo Kier or Kevin Francis (founder of Amicus).
Anyway I hope to enjoy the Festival whoever's there and thanks for now...
ED: We really do our best each year to find rare items on film (not just in the Schlock departments but in the silents and early sound period as well) ... THE BRAINIAC and THE ROBOT v THE AZTEC MUMMY have got to be a good start for you this year, and I have a feeling that Ray Selfe's DON'T SCREAM IT'S ONLY A MOVIE is going to be right up your aisle. But it really is down to what most of you want and of course what we can find .. and I can assure you we spend an incredible amount of time and telephone calls tracking down prints from just a whisper of a clue. Each year gets more difficult but we're pleased that our past screenings of Last Man on Earth, Revenge, Island of the Damned, Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue, Demon Planet etc have all been well received. The search engines are revving as I type this.... stay tuned! The Guest situation gets more difficult each year - even more than print searching - and Gil always tries to have back-up people ready in case of disappointments. But again, the costs of travelling expenses have to be met early and as registrations are always late in coming in, no matter how hard we preach about early money going into the programme budget - the funds are very low this year. That means that foreign travel costs are out of the question. Hazel Court has most generously offered to pay her own air fare from the USA and unless we get sponsorship or grants money, we will have to rely on finding guests from within the U.K. But the Festival works because we have a multitude of events, films, talks and guests to entertain us all weekend. You really have to decide how you are going to play your three days once you have seen the programme and selected from the "menu" of items on offer. That's a big part of the fun!
and... a lone email!!!
Neil Pettigrew <[email protected]>
Thanks for the Progress Report on this year's festival. First, let me say a belated 'thank you' for last year's fest. It was another magnificent weekend: a great chance to see some rare films and meet up with old friends.
For me, the best film of the weekend was The Cat And The Canary (1927) with its stunningly inventive camerawork. Is there any chance of finding prints of two other early American films directed by Paul Leni, The Chinese Parrot and The Last Warning?
Every year I ask you to track down a print of Sabaka, the rare Karloff film made in 1953. However, not this year: I've now obtained a copy on video from the States. And is it any good? I hear you ask. If you enjoy films about men in loin-cloths, then this is a must. It also features tigers, elephants, lots of home-movie-style footage of Indian palaces and an insipid plot about worshipers of a fire demon causing disruption in local villages. Karloff has precious little to do as a hot-tempered general, seen in only a handful of brief scenes. Apparently his scenes were shot in Hollywood and intercut with the location footage: despite being part-Indian, Karloff never set foot in that continent.
Here is a brief list of films which I would love to see at the fest, chosen simply because I haven't yet seen them: Bride of the Monster (Lugosi), Revolt of the Zombies (1936), The Mad Ghoul, The Ape Man (Lugosi again), Face of Marble (Carradine), Son of Dr Jekyll, The Mole People, The Unknown Terror, Phantom From 10,000 Leagues, Beast With A Million Eyes and Twice Told Tales (Vincent Price).
By the way, I'm still hunting for two impossible-to-find Karloff films, Graft and Young Donovan's Kid. Should anyone out there know of their whereabouts, please get in touch.
Harry, let me add my voice to the growing throng who think it is high time you revived L'Incroyable Cinema. If Famous Monsters can return, so can LiC. That's a classic photo of you in issue 5, with all the Brylcreem. Could it be made into a poster* for sale to all the Festival attendees, I wonder?
See you in September,
ED: *Only if I could charge a fiver to sign it! Neil's telephone number is 0181-291 6024.
Among the goodies we have our fingers on for this year are two more of those incredible MexicanMonster movies! Last year Tony Meadows introduced SWAMP OF THE LOST MONSTERS to a room full of unsuspecting fans. Little did most of them realise what wonders were in store. That session is now among the Legends of FantasticFest - those who were there are invited to attend a special re-showing this year, with another screening for "First-Timers" later in the weekend. But this year's MexicanMovies are rated among the best and wildest items ever put onto celluloid! We hope (cross your claws now please) to have prints of THE BRAINIAC (1961) and ROBOT v AZTEC MUMMY (1959) jetting across the big pond any month now! Look these up in your Psychotronic.... but don't miss the screenings!
Earlier rarities have been sourced...... !
How about... THE MAN FROM BEYOND (1922) with magician Harry Houdini INVOLVED IN REINCARNATION.
WAXWORKS (1925) is an amazingly creepy film with Emil Jannings... we know the silent film fans among you are going to love these!
Moving up into the thirties there are prints promised of VAMPYR (1931) and THE MONSTER WALKS (1932) with Rex Lease and Sheldon Lewis and we are working on getting 'em along with the ultra rare Lon Chaney Jnr thriller SCREAM IN THE NIGHT (1935) with Chaney playing a dual role!
From the forties (are you listening Peter and Dave and the rest of you?) we should have DR SATAN'S ROBOTS (1940) and the George Zucco old-dark-house thriller THE BLACK RAVEN (1943), the movie we've been asked to track down for a number of years. This is the year!
But our gems from the forties don't stop there.... We've located SOUL OF A MONSTER (1944) directed by Will Jason and starring George McCready as Dr. Winson.
But even rarer - how about the British spooker THE GHOST OF RASHMON HALL - so rare the British Film Institute don't have a print! Also known as NIGHT COMES TOO SOON it was made in 1947 and issued as Ghost of Rasmon Hall in 1953. The film features the original "Man-in-Black" Valentine Dyall and no less than three ghosts!
Our 50's selection will include many of the Sci-Fi theme programme that will celebrate three staple categories of the science fiction film. "To Boldly Go..." will cover movies that take us our to the stars... Pictures like DESTINATION MOON, FLIGHT TO MARS, ROCKETSHIP XM, and QUEEN OF OUTER SPACE. "The Aliens Are Coming" features threats of invasion from "out there..." with not just outer space to worry about, but strange dimensions too... items like INVASION OF THE SAUCER MEN (1957), I MARRIED A MONSTER FROM OUTER SPACE (1958)and CAGE OF DOOM (1958).
"The Creatures Are Among Us..." will showcase those movies featuring the infiltration of mankind with things from our own world, such as Hammer's THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN (1957) SUPERMAN v THE MOLE MEN and CREATURE FROM BLACK LAKE (1976).
Outside of these special theme areas of the programme we'll have movies like DONOVAN'S BRAIN (1953), THE DISEMBODIED (1957) and William Castle's 13 GHOSTS (1960).
Stephen Gallagher will sit in on a feature-length screening of his telefilm OKTOBER and we'll have a question and answer session afterwards.
Norman J. Warren will invite questions from the audience after we screen a special compilation of extracts from Norman's films. These will include PREY, SATAN'S SLAVE, INSEMINOID and TERROR etc.
Director Jon Sorensen is currently working on the special effects for his new movie ALIEN BLOOD and we are very hopeful that Jon will be with us to screen the film and talk about the production.
There are a number of events being looked at as we speak and at least 80% of the programme will be ready to announce in our final PR due out in August.
Quiz Comp Time:
Fantastic Conundrums by Tony Edwards.
Unravel these conundrums to find 10 Fantastic Films. The year of release, number of words and number of letters in each word of the titles have been included to assist you.
First five correct answers sent in on a Monster postcard win a freebie prize! Send your postcards to: Harry Nadler, 5 South Mesnefield Road, Salford, Manchester M7 3QP.
(Answers next PR or available at £1 each from Tony Edwards at 95 Meadowgate Road, Salford, Manchester M6 8EN.)
1. I FOUND CAFE WITH TEA 1958 (5,7,1,4)
2. ET HOWLS FORWARD 1953 (3,2,3,6)
3. WE LOST SOME OF MAN 1952 (4,2,4,5)
4. ORE FOR STARLET 1962 (5,2,6)
5. HE SHOT THE SILLY DEAD TART TO 1951 (3,3,3,5,5,5)
6.WITH FINE GRAVE HE FITS BEST 1946 (3,5,4,4,7)
7. FARM TABLE CORK CAKE RULE 1976 (8,4,5,4)
8.LETS BOOT BANG COOL SMART TOAD 1953 (6,3,8,2,2,4)
9. STAN GO JAUNT A HENS ROAD 1964 (5,3,3,9)
10. HETTY PROOF STUNS E.R. 1963 (3,5,9)
Send Festival e-mail to Harry Nadler: mailto [email protected],uk