Tag: Manchester

The Forbidden Lady

Dagmar B&W detail.png

I interviewed the actress Dagmar Lassander at the 2016 Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester. I can’t say too much at the moment, but my colleague Chrissie Harper is currently editing footage from our conversation on stage into a short documentary, under the working title The Forbidden Lady. More news soon as I’m able to announce it.

Photo Album: Ann Robinson, 1995

FFF95 Ann Robinson.jpg

Ann Robinson has the distinction of having appeared in three separate iterations of Wells’ The War of the Worlds: the classic 1953 movie, the 1980s tv spin-off (recreating her role as Sylvia Van Buren) and the 2005 remake (in an unrelated cameo alongside her 1953 co-star, Gene Barry). We met at the 1995 Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester, which I was covering for The Dark Side.

Photo Album: Catriona MacColl, David Warbeck, 1996

FFF96 Catriona Maccoll.jpg

Sometimes, a great opportunity comes along and you just have to wing it. I met the lovely Catriona MacColl on the first day of the 1996 Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester, and we hit it off quite well. The great thing about this particular event is that the guests and members mix freely, most often around the bar, and there’s a level of casual intimacy you could never get at one of those massive autograph fairs.

FFF96 David Warbeck.jpg

That encounter proved rather helpful the following afternoon, when the festival chair approached me in somewhat of a fluster and asked if I could fill in as on-stage interviewer for David Warbeck, as the original host hadn’t turned up (I knew the person in question and later ascertained he’d never actually agreed to attend). Much as I disliked taking over without my usual investment in research, I figured it would be fun, so headed downstairs to meet David, at which point I discovered (a) he was fresh out of hospital following a vicious attack at his home, (b) was still feeling extremely frail and (c) would rather not be there. Thankfully, Catriona, who co-starred with David in Fulci’s The Beyond, was on hand to reassure him I was “one of the good guys” (award-standard acting, there) and the tension ebbed away. As it turned out, David was one of those interviewees who was a breeze to work with; I simply steered our conversation along as and when needed, occasionally pointing him towards the films I knew the audience was particularly interested in hearing about.

In retrospect, David’s frailty might have been exacerbated by the cancer which would take him from us the following July, aged just 55 (I’m not sure if he was aware of it at the time we met). Sadly, I didn’t have a chance to record the interview and so produce a version for publication, although the organisers did later release an edited video, parts of which appeared as an extra on Grindhouse’s 2016 Blu-ray release of The Beyond.

Photos by Ann Green

Manchester Memories [3]

2017-10-21e Hanley & Rigby.JPG

Tut tut, I neglected to mention here that the two episodes of our series In Conversation With filmed in Manchester last October are now both available to view on YouTube: Jenny Hanley and Jonathan Rigby. Chrissie and I hope to shoot the fourth episode next weekend.

Meanwhile, extracts from my on-stage interview with Jenny earlier that day should appear in the next issue of The Dark Side, due out 15 February. Those mentioned include Christopher Lee, Roy Ward Baker, Dennis Waterman, Anouska Hempel, Peter Walker, Roy Boulting, Peter Sellers, Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Roddy McDowall, Ian McShane, George Lazenby, Harvey Weinstein and her mother, Dinah Sheridan.

Manchester Memories [2]

Jenny Hanley (detail).jpg

Among the projects Chrissie Harper and I are currently working on is an online series, In Conversation With, which kicked off by interviewing actor Demelza O’Sullivan (who starred in our short film All Bad Things…) and now features actor / television presenter Jenny Hanley (recorded when we met up in Manchester). Both are available via our YouTube channel.

Manchester Memories

2017-10-21e Hanley & Rigby.JPG

Went up to Manchester yesterday, to interview Jenny Hanley and Jonathan Rigby for the 28th Festival of Fantastic Films. Both guests and audience seemed to have a great time, and my conversation with Jenny was recorded for use in a future issue of the The Dark Side. The photographs above were taken by Chrissie Harper. (No, I wasn’t kneeling next to Jonathan; he’s just really tall.)

Centre-stage again… [4]

Further to my attending last month’s Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester to conduct Dagmar Lassander’s guest interview, I’ve now been approached by Pan Macmillan to interview Adam Nevill at a Waterstones promotion for his forthcoming novel, Under a Watchful Eye. If all goes according to plan, the event will be held in the centre of Birmingham, Adam’s former home city.

Update 21/11: Unfortunately, it appears Adam’s schedule is rather over-loaded, so the event has been cancelled.

Escape From Old Trafford [2]

Further to my review of John Carpenter’s Manchester gig, I’ve been contacted by the BBC Radio 4 consumer magazine You and Yours regarding widespread allegations that the Victoria Warehouse was dangerously overcrowded. (Not that you’ll read anything about this controversy on the venue’s social media pages, of course, or amongst the feedback on SeeTickets’ website.)

Meanwhile, the podcast 80’s Picture House carried a lengthy and detailed report on the event, as well as promoting the Twitter hashtag #ReleaseTheRants. I strongly recommend you listen in.

Escape From Old Trafford

I once had the enormous pleasure of meeting the director John Carpenter at the National Film Theatre, where he’d presented a lecture on his idol, Howard Hawks. I pointed out that he’d paid homage to Hawks’ westerns (Assault on Precinct 13) and science fiction (The Thing), but never tried his hand at a ‘screwball’ comedy. He joked that he might do just that, but with only two movie credits this century (2001’s lacklustre Ghosts of Mars and 2010’s barely-released The Ward), it’s unlikely we’ll ever see him in Bringing Up Baby mode.

In any case, Mr Carpenter is now pursuing a different path, albeit one which feeds on his parallel career as a soundtrack composer: rock star. Which is why Saturday evening found me at the Victoria Warehouse, a short distance from Manchester United FC’s home ground. The European leg of his Release the Bats tour had originally included two nights at Manchester’s Albert Hall, but a switch in promoters precipitated a conflation of both events into one venue, a massive concrete box with all the ambience of a multi-storey car park (and comparable acoustics, according to some who ended up standing at the back). A makeshift sign near the entrance alluded to Escape From New York, but the building itself was a far more convincing nod to that movie.

Doors opened at 6:30pm, and most of the 4,000 ticket-holders seemed to have made their way inside by 7pm, but other than a couple of technicians, the stage remained empty until 8:30pm. Luckily, I’d managed to finesse my way into the balcony area, which offered very limited seating, but the vast majority who’d expected to watch the concert in relative comfort were instead forced to stand for three hours with a restricted — or non-existent — view of the 75-minute set.

The sole saving grace was the performance by Mr Carpenter and his band, which was excellent, although the balcony may have been the only place where it could be properly enjoyed. In amongst the instantly recognisable Halloween, The Fog, Big Trouble in Little China et al, we were treated to tracks from his two volumes of Lost Themes, belted out in a mesh of synthesiser and heavy guitar.

So, great gig, lousy location. To quote Beth Abbit’s review in the Manchester Evening News, “It’s disappointing that this highly anticipated opportunity to see a hugely iconic movie man at work was hampered by an unsuitable alternative choice of venue.”

~~~~~

Please note that whilst I welcome comments, you accept full responsibility for the accuracy of any statements made. All views are your own.

Centre-stage again…

Delighted to announce I’ve been invited to interview the actress and director Dagmar Lassander next Saturday for the 27th Festival of Fantastic Films in Manchester. I already had two reasons to be in the city that day: Chrissie and I will be interviewing attendees for a Ghostwords TV documentary on the event, plus we’re catching John Carpenter during his brief UK concert tour. The Dark Side has expressed interest in publishing my conversation with Ms Lassander, which is a bonus.