Tag: Birmingham Horror Group

An Old-Fashioned Horror Convention? No Fear. [2]

FearFest draft logo with background.jpg

It’s four days since I posted about the Birmingham FearFest, during which time I believe we’ve sold one additional ticket. I’m giving it until next Monday before making a final decision, but it would take a major shift in reality for this event’s fortunes to turn around. We’re grateful to everyone who tried plugging it via their social media outlets, but it appears to have little or no impact. Then again, neither did a print in The Dark Side, back in mid-February, so traditional media seems just as ineffectual. It’s not just that I don’t know the answers, I’m no longer even sure what the questions are.

Time Czech

2017-04-29 Czech Cinema.mp4_snapshot_00.18_[2017.05.04_00.21.35] (detail).jpg

Saturday evening found me back at the Two Towers Brewery, but for once it was not the Birmingham Horror Group which drew me there but Czech Club Birmingham, which had invited me to introduce a screening of the 1977 time travel comedy Zítra vstanu a oparím se cajem (aka Tomorrow I’ll Wake Up and Scald Myself with Tea). You can see the footage on YouTube, though it would have been nice to have the use of a real time machine to fix my comment that Josef Nesvadba was born in 1912 (it was actually 1926, a year he shared with the first true science fiction magazine, Amazing Stories).

An Old-Fashioned Horror Convention? No Fear.

One of the long-term plans for the Birmingham Horror Group when it launched in December 2015 was for members to host an old-style horror event in the city, as opposed to the soulless, commercially-orientated merchandise and autograph fairs which have proliferated since “geek culture” became fully monetised. After all, what’s the point in hanging out with friends in a pub, discussing old episodes of Doctor Who or your favourite comics, when you can stand in line to pay £45 to be photographed next to John Barrowman (£10 extra if he wears his “Captain Jack” overcoat) or buy five versions of the same superhero reboot with different covers but the same identical Manga-style interior art? In fact, why even hang out with friends in the first place, when there are thousands of “friends” willing to give pretty much any passing comment a ‘like’ on Facebook?

Well, I believed there was still life in the original concept — and boy, does it look as though I was wrong. Running the monthly group has long ago ceased to be the fun it should have been, the erratic turn-out proving most “fans” are now only willing to show up if there’s some kind of gimmick, like a guest speaker or a free screening, and prefer to scurry back to the warm glow of their computer screens as soon as that part’s over. As for the Birmingham FearFest, ticket sales have been embarrassingly lack-lustre, and we’re currently facing the very real likelihood of having to pull the plug on its incubator. It’s been suggested to me that it could simply be postponed until later in the year, allowing a new round of publicity, but I’m not convinced I have a sufficiently deep reservoir of energy or optimism.

A little over thirty years ago,so many people turned up at a Novacon I chaired in Birmingham that we ran out of programme books, and we’d printed more than 500. These days, I find myself quite literally unable to run a party in a brewery. The world has allegedly evolved, but I’m not sure whether I want any part of this latest mutation; it clearly wants no part of me.

Updated 4 May.

#fearfest-flyer.jpg

Down the Tube [4]

Birmingham News 2017-03-04 Inn screngrab.jpg

I’ve become somewhat of a regular fixture on Made in Birmingham TV of late, and Saturday saw my fifth report in a row for Birmingham News Weekend Magazine. The first two focussed upon the recent Blue Orange Theatre production of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the next two featured extracts from Adam Nevill’s appearance at the Birmingham Horror Group, and the latest concerned a local pub being honoured by Birmingham CAMRA. In due course, all five will be available via YouTube.

On the Air

Back in the autumn of 1993, I made several appearances on The Way Out, broadcast live on BBC Radio 5 each Friday night from Birmingham’s famous Pebble Mill studios. Shortly afterwards, Radio 5 was re-engineered beyond all recognition into 5 Live, ending my blossoming career as the show’s resident horror and science fiction pundit, whilst the studios were closed in 2004 and demolished the following year.

Anyhow, my rather busy Saturday began with a call from the regional station BBC Radio WM, so that morning presenter Mollie Green (no relation) could ask me about the Birmingham Horror Group, that evening’s guest appearance by Adam Nevill and plans for the first Birmingham FearFest. You can hear our conversation via the link above.

Saturday Night Fervour

Had a rather busy Saturday. Even as I was driving into Birmingham for the latest gathering of the Birmingham Horror Group at the Gunmakers Arms, Lee Bannister was introducing Chrissie’s and my report from the Blue Orange Theatre for Made in Birmingham TV’s Birmingham News Weekend Magazine.

Shortly afterwards, I was on stage with author Adam Nevill, discussing his influences, his new novel Under a Watchful Eye (a terrific read, by the way) and the impending movie adaptation of The Ritual, which had only been announced two days earlier. The conversation was filmed for use on two separate Made in Birmingham TV shows, the general material for Lee and the film-related footage for his colleague Carl Jones’ daily cinema slot. In addition, the interview will be transcribed for a forthcoming issue of the magazine Fear.

[Photograph above by Chrissie Harper]

Saturday Night at the Movies

As well as launching a new venue for its monthly meetings, Birmingham’s historic Gunmakers Arms, the Birmingham Horror Group held its first movie event on 7 January, when I got to introduce no fewer than 14 short films and a handful of trailers. Several of the directors sent along pre-recorded introductions, whilst local film-maker Carl Timms turned up to introduce his zombie comedy Still in person and discuss it with me afterwards on stage. The interview was filmed for Ghostwords TV, and Made In Birmingham TV wants to look at a three-minute extract for airing this Friday.

Update #1: Free tickets for the 4 February meeting are now available online.
Update #2: The extract was screened on 13 January as part of The Week with Carl Jones, and repeated twice during that weekend.

Talking Tales

The special guest at this month’s Birmingham Horror Group was David A Sutton, author and award-winning former co-editor of the highly influential magazine Fantasy Tales. I interviewed David and his partner-in-print Stephen Jones back in 1989, for Critical Wave (which I co-edited with Martin Tudor), so we simply resumed those roles for the evening and brought our previous conversation up to date. This time, the text version is earmarked for the recently resurrected Fear.

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.