Towards the next frontier [2]

For those who recall our pre-Xmas announcement, Chrissie’s and my plans for Ghostwords TV continue apace. We’ve managed to pull together the equipment we need for the initial launch, dressed the ‘set’ (aka the upstairs bedroom Chrissie uses as an office, the same function it had when I first freelanced back in the early ’90s) and filmed a couple of brief tests. We’re probably a couple of weeks away from releasing our first episode, but would strongly suggest anyone who wants to catch the show from the get-go should immediately subscribe to our YouTube channel.

 

 

Festival memories [1]

I’ve been looking through a few of my photo albums and it struck me it might be nice to dust a few of the pictures off for a wider audience. The two below were taken at Manchester’s Festival of Fantastic Films in 1995, when the guests also included directors Roger Corman (whose Gas-s-s-s and The Trip are about to be released on R2 Blu-ray by Signal One), Robin Hardy (The Wicker Man) and Norman J Warren (an old friend, whose canon includes Satan’s Slave and Inseminoid).

Anyway, here’s a rather nice snap of myself with Hammer scream queen Barbara Shelley, who rather curiously — albeit charmingly — thought we already knew each other. Perhaps she mistook me for one of the Martian bugs she’d encountered in Quatermass and the Pit.

Oddly enough, Ms Shelley wasn’t the only actress present who’d had to fight off an invasion from the Red Planet, since we were joined by Ann Robinson, who apparently quit showbiz after The War of the Worlds in order to marry a matador (although she had a brief cameo alongside original co-star Gene Barry in the Spielberg remake).

The horror, the (Birmingham) horror…

As previously mentioned, the Birmingham Horror Group held its inaugural meeting on 5 December in Acocks Green, when the turn-up comprised James Brogden, Ray Holloway, Louise Palfreyman, Chrissie Harper and yours truly — plus, addressing us via Skype from his home in Wallasey, group president Ramsey Campbell. A follow-up gathering took place on 2 January, but a virtual appearance by Dez Skinn unfortunately fell foul of wifi problems. The next is scheduled for 6 February; details will be posted here.

Birmingham Horror Group launched

Back in November, I reported plans for the Birmingham Horror Group, and I’m pleased to report the first meeting took place as scheduled on 5 December, within the cosy confines of the Spread Eagle pub, Acocks Green. To make the evening even more memorable, honorary president Ramsey Campbell made a special appearance via Skype (you can see a short video clip at the Group’s website).

The next gathering will take place at the same venue on Saturday, 2 January. In the meantime, Chrissie Harper’s design for our logo makes its debut to the immediate left.

Tv review: Payne (1999)

PaynePayne (1999)

[Published on IMDb, 2005)

The US has a history of lifting successful comedy formats from the UK, some of which have proved as successful – and occasional more so – than the original templates. Steptoe and Son became Sanford and Son, Till Death Us Do Part begat All in the Family, Man About the House mutated into Three’s Company. Payne is not one of those shows.

Much as the US version of Coupling appears to have surgically sliced out the sex and sarcasm which made the original so funny, the team behind Payne seems unable to grasp that none of the characters in Fawlty Towers are meant to be likable, with the possible exception of Polly. Basil acts superior but has deep insecurities, Sybil is a self-centred bitch, Manuel is an idiot, even the guests are barely coherent.

But that’s what makes them human. And funny. And whilst we bemoan the fact that Cleese & Booth produced only a dozen episodes of Fawlty Towers, we can sit agog that Payne made it as far as nine.

DVD review: Lover’s Concerto (1995)

BallerinaLover’s Concerto (aka The Ballerina, 1995)

[Published on IMDb, 2005]

This film was released as a UK DVD release in 2001 by Prism Leisure, under the title The Ballerina; as an indication of the company’s shoddy handling, Shelley Michelle and Lisa Marie Alach are credited on the sleeve as Sally Michelle and Lisa Marie Alachi.

Much of Ms Michelle’s screen time is taken up by her dancing, accompanied by what appears to be her personal quartet; the supporting cast-members are only slightly less convincing as musicians than she is as a prima ballerina. When not providing background classics (wouldn’t a decent CD player have been cheaper?), the quartet hang around the pool and sauna, swapping partners and bodily fluids, whilst ‘Katya’ (Michelle) gazes from afar and longs to join in. The ambiance is very much of late-night tv erotica, but paced more slowly: Red Shoe Diaries after a large mug of Horlicks.

New horror group rises from the slab

A new monthly gathering for horror and dark fantasy fans in Solihull and Birmingham will be launched next month at the Spread Eagle pub in Acocks Green. British horror author Ramsey Campbell has agreed to be the group’s honorary president, and plans to attend the inaugural meeting via videolink. For full details, please contact me via steve.green@ghostwords.co.uk.

Edit 1/12: The initial gathering will be held from 7pm on Saturday, 5 December. The group’s website will be launched very shortly.