First of all, before you read on or do anything else, you should watch this short horror film by Luther Bhogal-Jones. It's only five minutes long and it's ace -
Watched it? Good. Now you may continue. Although if you want to find out more you should also check out Luther's production diaries for the film here and here.
Back with me? Here's a post about some films what I watched.
On Wednesday night I was at home in Stoke-on-Trent with my dad and he showed me a couple of rather unique films; films I probably would never have seen otherwise. That's what he does.
First we watched The Gathering which is a sort of supernatural/religious conspiracy thriller starring Christina Ricci and written by Anthony Horowitz.
It has a truly original concept and the small village setting with ancient secrets buried below reminded me of some of Ramsey Campbell's best work.
(I am a huge Ramsey Campbell fan. My dream project would be to adapt The Hungry Moon into a film. That would be awesome)
What struck me most of all was the Britishness of the whole thing, despite Ricci's presence as the token American. It's a further reminder that the problem with the film industry here isn't as David Cameron suggested a lack of commercial films, it's the lack of distribution. The films are there, a lot of them have actually been produced, but no one's doing anything with them when they have been produced and when they do get distribution they're not being supported. Anyway, it was good and interesting and original so you should watch it if you can track it down.
Then we watched The Maze which dad found on YouTube. The Maze is a 3D horror film from 1953 directed by William Cameron Menzies. It tells the story of a young woman, Kitty Murray (Veronica Hurst) engaged to marry Gerald MacTeam (Richard Carlson) who is suddenly called away to his ancestral home in Scotland on urgent family business. This is a bit of a problem as their wedding day is in two weeks, but Gerald assures her that he will definitely be back in time. Only he isn't back in time. When he sends a letter breaking off their engagement Kitty travels to the MacTeam castle with her aunt. There she is reunited with Gerald who is not at all happy to see her and looks like he's aged about twenty years. He allows Kitty and her aunt to stay the night but makes it clear that the tower and the maze in the castle grounds are both out-of-bounds. Spooky Bluebeard/mad-woman-in-the-attic hijinks ensue!
The reason for describing the plot in great detail is that it's a fantastic hook. The moment Gerald disappeared to Scotland I needed to know what the secret was, and I seriously recommend watching the whole film to find out because I guarantee the outcome is 100 times more bizarre than anything you might imagine. Unless your dad brings it up by suggesting 'let's watch the film with the ____ ____ at the end' in which case you will know what's coming, but that didn't make it any less compelling.
You can totally watch it here!
Kitty is a proper gothic heroine the likes of which we don't see very often these days, aside from the numerous adaptations of Jane Eyre. Plus her only real ally for most of the film is her aunt (Katherine Emery) who also fills in the gaps in the narrative by talking to camera whilst sitting in a chair that's too small for her. Seriously, when was the last time you saw a film in which a mystery was being investigated by a young woman and her aunt? It's weird when something from 60 years ago feels more refreshing than most stuff that's coming out now.
If you're not convinced and can't face sitting through 80 minutes of a film on YouTube you should at least watch the final part. You need to know what's in that maze, trust me...
See? How awesome is that!!!
By the way, Jenny Ringo and the Cabaret from Hell is going well, thanks for asking! I'll post a further update on that shortly.