Thursday, 19 July 2012



In a week that sees Batman casting his capitalist cape over the whole damned country, here at Grimm Up North we’ll be offering an opportunity to spend some quality time with bats of a far more sanguinary persuasion, at our special VAMPIRE SUNDAY screening.

First up, we’ve an exclusive preview of gritty new British indie THE HARSH LIGHT OF DAY, followed by a Q&A with cast and crew. Check out this for a synopsis: When the wife of a successful occult writer is brutally murdered, and police fail to find the culprits, he is offered a chance to mete out a very different, far more brutal kind of justice… Combining vampires and vigilantism, this is Death Wish with fangs: a smart, fast, brutal new take on the undead that is light years away from the current deluge of dreary “dark romances”. 

Hammer Horror always contained a frisson of eroticism amid the thrills and chills; bodice-ripping and heaving bosoms being a staple from the start. But THE VAMPIRE LOVERS is usually viewed as the film that introduced more sexually explicit content into the movies. This is appropriate enough, since it is an adaptation of J. Sheridan Le Fanu‘s classic 1872 novella CARMILLA, which itself was the first vampire tale in English to explore sex and sexuality, as well as being a major influence on Bram Stoker in the creation of DRACULA. In Le Fanu’s predatory lesbian vampire, Mircalla, Countess Karnstein, Hammer found an iconic character to rival the Count, and they found the perfect person to - quite literally - flesh out the role, in the form of the extraordinary Ingrid Pitt. A concentration camp survivor, a trained pilot, and a karate black belt, the Polish-born actress brought earthy sexuality, dark wit, and forceful intelligence to her portrayal. The film was directed with characteristic no-nonsense pace and panache by prolific veteran director Roy Ward Baker, who over the course of his lengthy career was responsible for everything from the archetypal sinking of the Titanic film A NIGHT TO REMEMBER,  to the Marilyn Monroe classic DON’T BOTHER TO KNOCK, to episodes of pretty much every single cult TV show made in the 60s, 70s and 80s, as well as a whole string of Hammer classics. Filled with such archetypal 70s faces as Kate O’Mara and Madeline Smith and Pippa Steele, the film features 

Hammer’s regular Van Helsing, the inimitable Peter Cushing, very appropriately cast as General Von Spielsdorf, the character who had inspired Stoker’s implacable vampire hunter and features Arthur Daley himself, George Cole providing local colour - most of it blood red. Ironically, in later life, Baker would find himself a regular director on Minder. The film’s deft and dizzying combination of Hammer’s regular mix of blood, boobs and bodices with some very 70s lesbian sex and sadism made the film an instant success, inspiring two sequels, LUST FOR A VAMPIRE (Which we might just sneak into the line up on Sunday 22nd July) and TWINS OF EVIL in what became known as the Karnstein Trilogy. Sadly, neither ex- au pair and model Yutte Stensgaard nor former Playboy Pin-Ups Mary and Madeleine Collinson were any substitute for the late, great Ingrid Pitt.
Just as LeFanu preceded Stoker, so an appearance by the infamous Mircalla Karnstein can only lead in to one by the Count himself. DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS, was the second of Hammer’s series featuring Christopher Lee as Bram Stoker’s classic creation. Directed by Hammer maestro Terence Fisher, it is notable for the fact that Dracula himself never actually speaks a word. Lee claims that there was dialogue written, but it was so bad that he refused to say it, though screenwriter Jimmy Sangster (quite understandably!) disputes this. The film is also notable for the introduction of the character of Father Sandor, played by Andrew Reid, a substitute for the series’ regular Abraham Van Helsing, Peter Cushing, who was unavailable. Sandor later enjoyed an unexpected secondary career, when he was resurrected, as “Father Shandor, Demon Stalker” in a series of comic strips by writer Steve Moore and artist John Bolton (and later David Jackson), which first appeared in the 1970s House of Hammer comic magazine, and later in Warrior Magazine, where Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V FOR VENDETTA made its debut.

CAPTAIN KRONOS - VAMPIRE HUNTER was a radical re-working of the vampire myth, Kronos is now considered one of Hammer’s best works,  having the foresight to let Avengers duo Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens bring their surreal creativity to the genre. Apparently it was supposed to lead to a TV series with Kronos travelling all over time doing battle with all manner of dodgy monsters. What a shame it didn’t happen.
‘Surprisingly brutal – there’s a lot of blood spurting from assorted necks and mouths, and the almost Airplane-like protracted despatching of poor old Doctor Marcus has to be seen to be believed’. British Horror Films

GOD OF VAMPIRES is a new UK release about a professional killer contracted to murder a Chinese crime lord. But the routine hit goes awry when Frank discovers his mark is actually an horrific Chinese vampire."God of vampires is like no vampire film you are likely to have ever seen before! It is what a vampire film should be! Blood sprays, bodies are torn asunder, Intestines spill, chainsaws rev, bullets fly, acrobatic martial arts ensue and it is all accomplished with a delightfully gruesome sense of humour!
"Full of action, gunplay, geysers of blood, chainsaw deaths and some truly creepy looking vampires."
"Blade meets Mr. Vampire...An action-packed, gore-fest that is both a fun and thrilling ride that doesn't let up till the very end."

CRONOS, Guillermo del Toro’s remarkable dark fairytale re-imagining of the vampire legend might seem the odd one out in what has been thus far a very British programme of cinematic chills. And yet there is a connection. Del Toro claims that one of the primary influences on his career as a filmmaker was Gary Sherman’s classic 1973 shocker, DEATH LINE. Sherman’s depiction of the pitiful, strangely sympathetic inbred cannibal troglodyte that stalks the London Underground was apparently a huge influence on the depiction of the increasingly wretched, reluctant vampire, Jesus Gris in CRONOS. (The name actually means “Grey Jesus”)

 BLOOD AND BONE CHINA is a blood-soaked, bodice-ripping slice of Victorian Gothic, crammed with evil industrialists, crusading female journalists, wise orphans, sinister foreigners, literary in-jokes and more vampires than you can shake a crucifix at, Chris Stones award-winning cliff-hanger chapter-play for the 21st Century fuses the aesthetics of classic Hammer with the lurid, fast-paced melodramatics of Penny Dreadful serial novels such as James Rymers VARNEY THE VAMPIRE. Steve Balshaw - Grimmfest Film Programmer.
More on the history of Vampires and Bram Stoker, Here. More on Vampire Sunday Here

No comments:

Post a Comment