- David Thompson

Welcome to the blog for FROM OUT OF THE SHADOWS a season of films celebrating the Gothic on film. Below you'll find more information on the films themselves, and why we think they're worth your attention. Click on the titles in the 'WHAT'S ON' section to see write-ups on each of the films that we're showing, while if you look back in the Archive Section, you'll find a little more about the Gothic in relation to the city where we're screening and the odd extra tidbit that we couldn't quite fit in anywhere else. Have a good look around. We hope you find it interesting. With any luck we'll see you there... it's going to be a lot of fun.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009


What a weekend we have in store for you! First up on Friday 30th October at 8.30pm we've got THE COMPANY OF WOLVES with producer Stephen Woolley here to introduce it.

And then, on Sunday 1st November at 8pm, the big daddy of them all, Terence Fisher's classic, the film that put Hammer definitively on the map: DRACULA... with Jonathan Rigby (author of ENGLISH GOTHIC: A CENTURY OF HORROR CINEMA), here to make the introductions. It's screening from the recent BFI restoration so this should be about as good as it will ever look! Bring the kids, it's a 12A certificate. Show them how it used to be done. Let them see where Tim Burton stole bits of SLEEPY HOLLOW and SWEENEY TODD from... let's breed a whole new generation of fans. Possibly the perfect Halloween Family Outing!

DIR: Neil Jordan
UK 1984 95mins (18)

THE COMPANY OF WOLVES was a slightly belated addition to a mini-revival of one of the more neglected of the repertory of gothic monsters, the werewolf. Even Hammer, who had done so much to revive the fortunes of Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and the mummy, only managed one outing for their shape-shifting cousin.

Perhaps its power has been diminished as the untamed wilderness of which it was an embodiment has been swallowed up by the spread of urban civilisation: a victim of habitat destruction like so many species.

The lycanthropic surge at the turn of the 80s saw the release of John Landis’ AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) and Michael Wadleigh’s THE WOLFEN (1981), both of which stranded the creatures in the modern city, and Joe Dante’s THE HOWLING (1981), in which a new age forest retreat made for a perfect sanctuary and hunting ground of tamed wilderness.

THE COMPANY OF WOLVES - released a couple of years after these films - draws out the werewolf theme from the gothic primer of the fairy tale. In something of a triumph for independent producers Palace Pictures, this modestly budgeted British film received its premiere at the Odeon Leicester Square on September 21st 1984.

The film was adapted from her own short stories by Angela Carter, in collaboration with the director Neil Jordan, himself an author turned director. Her collection The Bloody Chamber had explored the thinly concealed substrata of the fairy tale, that relic of the oral tradition of storytelling long since consigned to the nursery. Carter had also edited and introduced two volumes of fairy stories published by the Virago press, the first of which was retitled The Old Wives’ Fairy Tale Book for its US edition, highlighting the female provenance of the tradition.

These children’s tales bore a wealth of secret knowledge, allowing a feminine perspective on life to be voiced, and it is those voices which give structure to the film, through a series of nested stories which respond to and unfold from each other.

Carter also knew her Freud, and the film is soaked with imagery drawn from his theories on the interpretation of dreams and the nature of the uncanny. But the feminist writer and anarchist spirit begged to differ with the bearded Viennese figure of authority, whose theories didn’t, of course, apply to himself (a cigar is sometimes just a cigar, after all).

This story is one in which an adolescent girl interprets her own dreams and finds her own path through the woods, learning to become the author of her own self. She refuses to be subsumed by the stories told by others and the version of the world which they would impose upon her. As such, the film argues for the vital importance of the fairy story and the fiction of the fantastic in general, of the need to re-imagine the limits of the possible. It also challenges the role of fearful victim commonly ascribed to the female characters of gothic fictions, as represented on the cover of the magazine we see lying on the young girl’s bed at the start of the film. Stray from the path, Angela tells us - in contradiction to granny’s aphoristic commands - and explore the dark spaces beyond the village’s safe boundaries. The tales of terror you’ve been fed may well prove illusory when fearlessly faced...

The film opens in the world of external reality, but it already seems at some remove from the everyday. A Volvo drives through an autumnal oak wood, paced by a racing Alsatian, until it reaches the drive of an old Georgian country house and the plunder of a trip to Sainsbury’s is unloaded.

The camera glides into the house and up the staircase, the walls becoming increasingly grimy and dilapidated as we ascend, until finally we discover a young girl locked in the disarrayed sanctuary of her room. This is the place where the mad woman in the attic of gothic fiction would be hidden away, but the girl has exiled herself, locking the door from the inside. Her bedroom mixes the standard paraphernalia of teenage bedrooms with relics of a childhood soon to be left behind.

Posters of New Romantic pop stars abut Beatrix Potter and Ladybird fairy tale books, the latter perhaps giving a hint as to how these stories have become neutered over time. The antique toys which perch on the shelves give a glimpse of older childhoods where such expurgations may have originated, staring down with glassy Victorian eyes.

The screenplay specifies a poster of Lon Chaney as the WOLFMAN (1941) being on the wall, declaring a direct link with gothic cinematic antecedents, but this is absent from the final film. There are only so many symbols and meaningful objects you can pack into a small span of space and time.

On the door, a white, bridal-looking dress hangs and sways back and forth in the breeze blowing through the open window, as if animated with its own inner life, struggling to unhook itself from the clothes hanger and fly free. This may be a homage to a similar symbolic image at the beginning of Powell and Pressburger’s film I KNOW WHERE I’M GOING (1945), another tale of a woman who decides to stray from the path set out before her, in this case the road which leads to the highlands and islands of Scotland and an opportunistic marriage into wealth and society.

In Angela Carter’s published screenplay, the girl in the room is named as Alice, bringing to mind another young adventurer into dream worlds. She is thus separated from her dream double, Rosaleen. It is Alice rather than her sister who meets her end in the borderlands of dream during the first exploration of the forest’s edge, a graphic enactment of the death of childhood. But in the film, she remains anonymous, unnamed other than by her sister’s hissed ‘pest’, and thus more closely linked with the Rosaleen of her inner world. The womblike inner sanctum of her room is the atrium of the dream world, and the camera leads us weightlessly through the window towards the dark forest, the Grimm heart of the primal stories.

This forest is the central gothic locale of the film, and one which indicates a journey into an inner landscape. The village huts, the church and even the gravestones have an amorphous, rounded shapelessness which suggests this interior nature.

Insofar as the overarching clusters of soaring columns and the stone-carved foliage of medieval cathedrals seek to emulate the forms and the hushed ambience of the forest, it could indeed be said to be the birthplace of the gothic spirit, the wildwood constantly threatening to encroach upon the narrow compass of civilisation.

The borderlands to which the real Rosaleen consigns her sister are still filled with the transformed objects of her room, the personal materials from which her dream world will be fashioned. Freud’s theories of the uncanny are realised as the inanimate comes to life, those Victorian toys, creepy enough in themselves, taking on the oversized menace of nightmare avengers. Semi-organic organ pipes blast out gothic chords and enormous mushrooms emphasize the dank darkness of the forest. The tree trunks seem to have the striated, reddish consistency of muscle tissue, an inner world literally built from fleshy matter. But this is only the edge, a territory still connected with the waking world. As with Robert Holdstock’s Mythago Wood stories, which excavate the strata of the mythical matter of Britain, the heart of the story lies deeper within, and we must venture towards more immaterial, symbolic realms.

The forest was built on a couple of sound stages at Shepperton Studios, and it never loses the feel of a stage set, an enclosed environment. This is entirely to its advantage, and in keeping with the notion of an inner landscape. The mixture of props and painted backdrops and the freedom to play with lighting effects creates artificiality perfect for the telling of a fairy tale. It enhances the enchantment, the feeling of being told a story, of being led through a series of book-plate illustrations in an old Edwardian tome.

It is similar to the mood created in THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939), where we are entranced by the painted backdrops of a landscape which takes off where the studio set ends, the yellow brick road winding through fields and up over the hills to the distant horizon. Powell and Pressburger’s recreation of the Himalayas at Shepperton for BLACK NARCISSUS (1947) exerts a similar spell, with its beautiful glass paintings of lush distant valleys and pastel blue mountains visible beyond the set of the nun’s missionary school. The forest set of the ‘Woman of the Snow’ episode of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1964 anthology of Japanese ghost stories KWAIDAN also bears a strong resemblance, and similarly creates a self-enclosed atmosphere of the uncanny through lighting and the striking non-naturalistic use of colour. These are atmospheres - relying as they do on the creation of a painterly look by the cinematographer - which the virtual palette of CGI, for all its manifold marvels, cannot hope to recreate. Indeed, the work of artists has a strong influence on the look of designer Anton Furst’s sets. Samuel Palmer, in particular, is a primary source, as a look at paintings such as Coming From An Evening Church and The Magic Apple Tree will affirm.

The film is peopled with a solid cast of dependable British character actors. Principle amongst these is Angela Lansbury, who plays Rosaleen’s grandmother, the source of the old wives’ wolves tales she is told.

Lansbury portrays the grandmother as an outwardly comforting figure who betrays steely hints of malevolence in the glints of light which reflect from the lenses of her wire-rimmed glasses. Her stories encourage a fearful and conformist view of the world in which the other, that which is different, is to be shunned. The poisonous core of these tales is like the maggot found wriggling inside the seemingly perfect apple which Rosaleen picks up from the ground of her garden.

When Rosaleen starts to formulate her own stories, they are essentially ripostes to her grandmother’s tales. It is something of a story duel. Rosaleen reshapes the matter of her granny’s stories and uses them to work out her own burgeoning feelings. Tentatively testing her tales on her mother, she challenges the view of the world offered by the received wisdom of the older generation. This is evident in her final story through the inclusion of the vicar - for whom her granny has nothing but open contempt - as a figure with compassion for and acceptance of the other, the wolf-child.

Rosaleen’s empathy for this scorned outsider turns her granny’s stories inside out, and exorcises the fear at their heart. The wounds are now inflicted by the supposedly righteous, driving the despised innocent back into her underground retreat of alienated introversion. The wounds of the wolf-girl will never wholly heal, and her tears will flow forever, filling the well from which she emerged and to which she now returns.

The vicar is played by the redoubtable Graham Crowden, who reads his passages from the bible with much the same quizzical cadences he used to read passages from history as the eccentric bicycle riding teacher in IF… (1968). Also on hand are Brian Glover, who plays Brian Glover to a tee, and Terence Stamp as the immaculately tailored devil, holding what apparently is a pygmy skull before him, as if he’s working up to a soliloquy.

This was Stamp’s first film in some while, having retreated into self-imposed exile for reasons unveiled in his evocatively elegiac autobiography Double Feature. The suit was the price of his appearance, and excellent value it was too. Remarkably, Neil Jordan wanted Andy Warhol for the part, and Andy was indeed interested, but circumstances conspired against the fulfilment of such a startling cameo.

The gaily attired huntsman who Rosaleen meets towards the end of the film was played by the dancer and choreographer Micha Bergese, who was later to be the artistic director of the Millenium Dome show, for his sins. His performance is archly mannered, every movement carefully considered and balanced, as befits a dancer. He brings a muscular physicality to his transformation scene that lends it an intense immediacy that elaborate effects couldn’t have captured. With his blue brocaded frock coat, tricorne hat and high riding boots, he could be the original model for some of the New Romantic pop stars that deck the real Rosaleen’s walls. Could this in fact be ‘the dandy highwayman who you’re too scared to mention’?

Post-punk Goth singer Danielle Dax makes an effective silent appearance as the protagonist of Rosaleen’s final story. She plays the pitiful wild child, rejected by the world into which she tentatively emerges, sheltered for a short span by the vicar before crawling back into realms below.

Sarah Patterson in the central role of Rosaleen bears much of the weight of the film, and she does so admirably, portraying the innocence and freshness of her character, but also the fortitude and questioning nature which leads her to forge her own path. Patterson didn’t follow up on this initial foray into acting, but has recently appeared in two films by English director Lisa Gornick, ‘Do I Love You’ and ‘Tick Tock Lullaby’.

Mention should also be made of the fine score by George Fenton, which incorporates elements of Irish folk music and the impressionism of Ravel and Debussy, the latter rising to lush heights as Rosaleen climbs the largest tree in the forest. Fenton has gone on to be a prolific composer for film and TV, as he already was at the time, and has scored many of Ken Loach’s films as well as providing the sweeping orchestrations which accompany the awe-inspiring photography of the BBC’s PLANET EARTH (2006) series.

The film is visually ravishing and full of beautiful poetic images. The sensual red of experience mixes with the pure white of innocence as blood in milk, blood on snow and tears staining a white rose red. The latter image brings to mind the drop of menstrual blood staining the white daisy petal in the 1968 Czechoslovakian fairy tale fantasia VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS, which could be considered something of a sister film to THE COMPANY OF WOLVES. Both represent, through the forms of the fantastic, the breaching of a young girl’s innocence and the encroachment of the cares and experiences of adulthood, but both show their young protagonists taking control of the symbolic landscapes in which their fables unfold and ultimately embracing the change which has come upon them.

The moon occluded by the blinking of a superimposed eye is an image which also appears in the ‘Woman of the Snow’ episode of KWAIDAN mentioned above, and could be seen as representing the ever-watchful gaze of the omniscient overseer of the subconscious. Freudian protuberances are ubiquitous, whether they be the tumescent pump of the well at the centre of the village, rising above the wet, shadowy darkness of the shaft like a westernised Shiva Lingam, or the suggestively gnarled and knobby knot at the base of the tree which Rosaleen climbs. The bright red of Rosaleen’s riding hood shawl makes her stand out vividly against the drab, earthy colours with which the village peasantry are clothed.

We also briefly see carts filled with glittering gemstones being pulled along rails emerging from mine shafts, suggesting a new, neighbouring locale for further fairy tales, extending perhaps to a whole continent of contiguous storybook worlds. There is a whole menagerie of symbolic beasts scattered throughout the film. Crows, toads, rats, owls, hedgehogs, storks, lizards, snakes and spiders; All the creatures of fear and magic, looking on with disinterest from branches and rocks, just as they do during the night-river journey in Charles Laughton’s film of Southern fairy tale gothic, NIGHT OF THE HUNTER (1955).

The film ends back at the Georgian house, back in Rosaleen’s bedroom. As the magazine cover had foretold, her dream is indeed shattered. Things will never be the same again. For once you have strayed from the path, the complex kaleidoscope of the imagination is shaken from its stasis and can unfold into an infinite array of possibilities. The only boundaries are those of the mind. And they are very wide indeed.

DIR: Terence Fisher
UK 1958 82mins (12A)

It’s still my favourite film of Stoker’s novel.

Ever since I saw the end tacked onto the beginning of DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (Hammer’s second sequel, though the first to feature the return of Christopher Lee as the definitive screen Count). I think that I was nine years old when I first saw it – taped off the telly late one night by my dad.

Then, it was just about the most thrilling, exciting film I’d ever seen. Even at that early age I was predisposed to like it: I had a taste for the Gothic and the Macabre, but was too sensitive a child to enjoy contemporary set horror films. The gore and the closeness to the world I knew and lived in made it all too frightening. AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1981) left me leaping into bed from six feet away in order that I didn’t let my feet get within range of anything that might be lurking in the shadows underneath.

But DRACULA (none of your American HORROR OF... thank you very much) was incredible. Much that affected me so deeply, I don’t think I recognised/understood until much later. Seeing it again as an adult I realise that so many of the things I respond to today can be traced back to my first viewing of Terence Fisher’s masterpiece: to the acting of Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, to the cinematography of Jack Asher, the script by Jimmy Sangster, to the careful, precise and entirely committed direction of Terence Fisher.

The fact that it also gave me a fondness for women in Victorian attire is quite beside the point...

I didn’t see the Universal DRACULA (1931) until many years later, directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Lugosi in the role that he made a caricature long before Sesame Street got hold of it. I’ve never liked that version. Almost nothing about it works for me. I don’t like Lugosi in the film. I think it’s probably the worst film Tod Browning ever made (based on the few that I have seen and which can still be seen). If you want to see what the man was capable of check out FREAKS (1932). A truly remarkable film guaranteed to give you goose bumps to this day.

Only Dwight Frye as Renfield makes any impact in the Lugosi film. He is the saving grace of it. The only thing that is creepy, disturbing, transcendent of the dull drawing room drama that he’s imprisoned in: the only aspect that comes close to the mood and power of Stoker’s still brilliant novel.

That film has its supporters. But they are wrong. Hammer’s DRACULA is better. It is also one of the best, and most influential British films ever made. But Hammer’s reputation has fallen so that it is thought of now in the mocking - if warmly so - terms of the kind of cheap campery that began to creep into its output in the seventies as it began to lose its decade long grip on the zeitgeist. THE EXORCIST (1973), THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASACRE (1974), HALLOWEEN (1978), these films made the period set stories of Hammer almost cosy, quaint, despite a few last gasp attempts at something stronger near the end (DEMONS OF THE MIND (1972) was particularly promising, as were parts of TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER (1976)).

Though THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957) had really put them on the map - and made the world sit up and take note when it made a fortune - it was DRACULA that really defined Hammer Horror as a style unto itself.

Classy; rich (some might say over ripe); lurid; sensual; melodramatic; quivering with barely repressed sexual tension, and presented by all concerned with a sense of pride and professionalism. These were no simple cheap shockers pumped out to make quick cash. Though that was undoubtedly on Hammer’s mind as a company, its repertory cast and crew were solid professionals who believed in what they were doing and believed in doing their best. Non more so than Terence Fisher, who came to directing comparatively late in life, and who found in this particular brand of lurid Gothicism – he always said his films were ‘Fairy tales for adults’ a phrase that hits the nail right on the head – something that brought out the very best in him.

So, why is it so good?

Well, for a start, it solves ‘The Problem Of Dracula’ efficiently and dramatically. And while it may continue to take enormous liberties with its literary source, it nonetheless keeps in mind its point and tone. It is – as Stokers novel was in its day and remains still – thrilling, and scary, and in many ways erotic. Not that the censors of the day would let it get away with anything too overt. There is no naked flesh on display, and yet the sexual undertow, lifted straight out of the novel, is palpable. Because he can’t show too much – and quite frankly Terence Fisher was a man of too much taste to want or need to anyway – Fisher concentrates on the moments leading up to a sexual encounter and the moments after. The scenes in which Lucy and Mina both wait in anticipation of Count Dracula, knowing what they do is somehow wrong, are incredibly well wrought, Fishers teasing use of camera and editing in perfect sync with James Bernard’s tremulous score to bring us to the very height of erotic dread.

Any suggestion that one is reading too much into things with regards to the films overt sexuality, need only see the look on Mina’s face as she returns just after dawn from the night in which she has first encountered Dracula. If it is not the very definition of ‘the cat who got the cream’, I don’t know what is. Indeed having played her prior scenes as uptight, and buttoned down, the playful moue and hungry eyes of Mina in this scene is quite a revelation.

‘The Problem Of Dracula’ is that we know too much. The very name displaces so much cultural water that t is impossible to enter a film called DRACULA and not know already that the man is the villain. He is evil personified in Bram Stoker’s novel. And though he would in later days come to be portrayed more in the tragic/Byronic mode, Hammer sticks to the book. He is a figure of fear. Evil personified. Appetite incarnate.

But in adapting the book, it becomes difficult to then portray the scenes of Jonathan Harker’s innocent arrival and later imprisonment in Castle Dracula, the slow revelation of the Count’s monstrous nature, without the audience losing interest, refusing to suspend their disbelief.

How do Hammer solve the problem? They make Harker just as knowledgeable as we are. They make him a man coming to Castle Dracula as a kind of undercover agent. A man intent on killing the fiend. If we know the novel, we’re pulled up short, surprised by this sudden revelation. If we don’t, we’re at least not looking at Harker as a fool to be walking into such an ominous castle and not suspecting anything.

Actually, here Bernard Robinson’s set design pulls a quite brilliant coo. Castle Dracula (in part due to budgetary consideration I’m sure, but also due to Robinson’s brilliance at his job) is not the Production designer’s Gothic wet dream that so many Hollywood productions make it. It seems nonsensical that anyone would walk into a place that screams doom at them, without the slightest hint of nervousness.

Hammer’s film is different. It is quiet, no birds sing in the vicinity of the Castle, and there are no servants. The place seems deserted. But is more conceivably the home of a Count/nobleman fallen on hard times, than a place that proclaims itself the very seat of Satan on this earth. Is it sinister? Yes, especially as night falls. Is it unsettling? Certainly. It is also believable, while being strangely unreal. The details are unusual; not quite right. It is, as Fisher would have it, a kind of fairy tale... but a fairy tale of the very darkest kind.

This sense of a ‘dark fairytale’ is at its height in the cinematography. Cold greys, deep blacks, calm browns, the bright vibrant red of blood, but also sickly greens and highlights of lavender and blue.

The concision of the storytelling is a thing of beauty. Fisher tells his tale directly, moves his camera for a reason - emotional or narrative. His framing is impeccable, and his work with cinematographer Jack Asher assured.

Just look at the scene in which Jonathan Harker awakes from an encounter with Dracula and one of his brides. He awakes in his room bathed in warm orange light. The fire is barely flickering, almost out, like the candles, wisps of blue-grey smoke rise from both. Everything within the frame is pertinent. By the light coming through the window, we already know that the day is almost over. Harker has been unconscious for quite some time; whatever happened to him was serious. At the same time, it pre-empts later scenes, lays groundwork for suspense: we know that night is coming, and by now we know that means the Count is coming. Danger is coming. At the same time, a sense of doom is building. We don’t believe that Harker is safe in any way. We’re not sure he will survive. The dying candle, the last flickering flame in the grate, the setting of the sun, all reflect Harker’s (and by extension at this point our) position, the waning light (and thus the gathering dark), the flickering flame of his life, the dying embers of our hope.

The following sequence, as Harker sets out to find and finally destroy Count Dracula in his lair, is so impeccably put together, so well executed, and so powerful that its impact has made it a cliché. Every horror film that followed in the wake of DRACULA’s success used this kind of scene. And yet, to see the original, on a large screen, in a good print, is to appreciate the impact it must have made at the time. Not only is it a thrilling sequence in its own right... NOTHING like this had ever been seen before. The biting, the staking, the blood, the horror, had all been off screen before. In this film they were front and centre. And in very full colour.

When you’re watching pay particular attention to details – the placement of skulls near Dracula’s tomb – as carefully placed in the frame as anything in a painting by Caravaggio; the shadows that ensnare and imprison poor Harker at the crucial moment.

Details like these are apparent in every scene, and damn near every frame... it is an astonishingly well made film. A film that should be up there near the top of any list of Greatest British Films. Britain lead the way with this kind of stylish, adult treatment of a genre thought of in Hollywood as ‘Kids Stuff’.

The French were quick to see Terence Fisher’s talent for what it was and lauded him. We should do the same.

We have a rich history of fantastic literature that was once disreputable, but of which we are now, quite rightly proud. Has it not been long enough that we can accept these – at the time - hugely popular films in to the ranks of Classics? Treat them with the respect that they deserve? As much respect as is afforded to their literary forebears?

This film... indeed these films, when at their best, are glorious. We should be proud.

Company Of Wolves text by Jez Winship. Dracula ext by Neil Snowdon

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Someone out there likes The Little Theatre... check this out:

Now compare the detail in the left of frame to the image up at the top right of this page.

Uh, huh. I think so too. Pretty damn cool, eh?

Is someone trying to tell us that The Little Theatre Cinema is the very definition of the classic small English cinema? We can live with that.

Okay, so this picture is from Wes Anderson's upcoming film of FANTASTIC MR. FOX, but I can't help looking at it and wishing it were a film with Bill Murray as a narcoleptic giant...

This makes me proud.

Whoever designed this street, we'd like to shake your hand.


THE INNOCENTS (screening 7.30pm on Friday December 11th) is the greatest ghost story ever put on film - click on the title in the WHAT'S ON sidebar to find out more...

But, at the time, 20th Century Fox, didn't know what the hell to do with it.

Traditionally, in the US, horror films were thought of as kids stuff. This is a movie filled with intelligence. A movie made for adults. Evidently somebody forgot to tell the marketing department, because THIS is the trailer that they made:

When I first saw this trailer, my jaw was on the floor.

It's a testament to the power of editing/post production that a trailer made up largely of footage from the film, can so woefully misrepresent it.

This is a subtle, beautiful, polished film. Delicate even. Precise. It is not the ham fisted mess that this trailer makes it out to be.

I'm not alone in thinking this. The great Joe Dante (GREMLINS, THE HOWLING, INNERSPACE, MATINEE) agrees with me. Over at TRAILERS FROM HELL he does a commentary over the above trailer that says just that. Click HERE to watch and hear.

I love Joe Dante's movies. This makes me love him all the more.

TRAILERS FORM HELL is a great site too - a must for any true fan of film.

Monday, 12 October 2009


As promised, a slightly more professional picture of the night it all began...

From left to right: Jennifer Jennings-Wright, Martin Jennings-Wright, Maria Hollis, Ollie Wright and Fran Key your ghoulish guides for the evening...

Thanks again to everyone for their efforts and to all of you who came along to watch the film. I'm sure you'll agree it was a graveyard smash! (Sorry, I've been dying to say that - no pun intended).

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Many thanks to everyone who turned up for the DRACULA AD 1972 screening last night.

You were a cracking crowd, and I'm sure you'll agree it was a cracking film... If you all keep coming, we'll do another season next year, but with the introductory stuff out of the way, and a few new converts to the cause, we'll venture further off the beaten track, lead you down darker, stranger alleyways and into deepest tangled woods, in the knowledge that you'll follow. Bath has a taste for the darkness it seems... and we're more than happy to provide nourishment.

See you at the next screening!

THE COMPANY OF WOLVES with introduction by producer Stephen Woolley. Friday October 30th at 8.30pm...

Monday, 5 October 2009


DRACULA AD 1972...

Can you really watch that trailer and NOT want to come!? Can you really watch this trailer and not think it's going to be a fun!?

As far as I can see it's a perfect Friday night at the cinema. Even better, it's the kind of film that plays best with an audience, and we've got KIM NEWMAN (film critic for EMPIRE, SIGHT&SOUND, VIDEO WATCHDOG, and author of the ANNO DRACULA books) here in person to get things off on the right foot...

I don't really think you can go wrong. If you enjoyed the FRANKENSTEIN screening at Walcot Mortuary Chapel, I think you're going to LOVE this. Click on the title in the WHAT'S ON list to read more.

See you there!

Saturday, 3 October 2009


Last night the electrodes were attatched, the kites sent up in to the centre of the storm, and lightning struck!

All the secrets of the heavens flowed throught the wires attached to the kites, and in to Walcot Mortuary Chapel, where they kickstarted the projector and brought our season of Gothic Horrors to life...

A finger twitched, it began to breathe - and then it sat bolt upright and headed off into the night upon a rampage!

And oh, what fun we had...

With smoke and lighting and flames we welcomed the damned who joined us. Though normally we would not drink 'wine', the red stuff was handed out.

There's a few photo's here to give an idea of the evening, but there'll be better ones to follow since there was a pro on hand...

But look at those colours! Look at that light! It was like entering a Mario Bava movie (I'm not sure anybody else got that, but I was tickled pink!)

Graveyard ghouls... or shades of Miss Jessel (see what I'm talking about at the screening of THE INNOCENTS in December)

These gentlemen kept telling people they were 'late' and asking them to come this way. Should we have worried?

The assembled hordes. A sell out show! Does my heart proud. Thank you all for bowing at the Gothic altar to worship the wonders of Boris Karloff and James Whale. Hopefully you'll join us for more in the season.

And Now The Screaming Starts! The film begins... Edward Van Sloan steps up on screen to give fair warning to the audience of the horrors that will follow, while we lock the doors and grin (not really - no health and safety infringements here, and many thanks to the council for their help with the venue). Blurry photo I know, you can hardly make anything out, but a pro was present at the proceedings, so better pictures should be coming soon.

Many thanks to everyone who helped make this what it was. Damn good fun with a damn good film, and a wonderful way to start.

Thanks to everyone for coming.To RADIO for their wonderful work in dressing the Chapel, and to ORCHARD STUDIO for the smoke and lighting - thanks for helping us create just the right mood, it looked fantastic...

See you all at the next film!