Friday, 10 June 2016

Goodreads Q&A with Jon Towlson

On Wednesday 15 June I'll be discussing my new book on Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, as well as my previous film books, and I'll be taking questions on writing for film magazines. This discussion is for anyone who likes film books, or who has an interest in film journalism, film criticism and movie reviewing.

To take part in the discussion join my Goodreads group 'Q&A with Jon Towlson'

Don't forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win a copy of the book.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Constellations) Now Available to Pre-Order!

Very proud to announce my new book on Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind is now available to pre-order. It is part of a new series called Constellations devoted to studies in science-fiction film and television. Published by Auteur, who brought us the hugely successful Devil's Advocates series of books on horror films.

"For many, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (CE3K) is not so much a movie as a religious experience. On its release in 1977, CE3K virtually redefined the science fiction film, shifting it away from spaceships, laser guns, and bug-eyed monsters into a modified form of science fiction that John Wyndham once called 'logical fantasy'. What would it be like if extra-terrestrials made contact with people on Earth? How would it feel? Like2001: A Space Odyssey (1968),CE3K is concerned with mankind's evolution towards the stars, towards a state of transcendence. But Spielberg's vision hinges not so much on cool scientific intellect being the key to our next stage of evolution, as on the necessary development of emotional intelligence. To that end, we must regain our childlike curiosity for what lies beyond the skies, we must recover our capacity to experience wonder. Intensity of emotion is inherent to the film's meaning, and the aim of this book is to explore this in detail. Along the way it delves into the film's production history, explores Spielberg's remarkable cinematic realisation of the film (including a comparison study of the three different release versions), and considers in detail how CE3K fits into the Spielberg oeuvre."

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula

Photo by Ashley Bird

In 1970 Anthony Hinds of Hammer Films wrote The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula (originally titled Dracula – High Priest of the Vampires) as the intended follow up to Scars of Dracula, relocating the vampire count to India where he was to spread his evil influence. Writer-producer Hinds devised the script primarily to take advantage of frozen assets that Warner Bros (who financed and distributed Hammer’s output) had in India at that time. Ultimately, however, financing proved to be problematic and Hammer dropped the script in favour of updating the series to present day London with Dracula AD 1972.

Unquenchable Thirst, along with another mooted series reboot, Vlad the Impaler, ended up in the Hammer vaults where it sat for decades until De Montfort University’s Cinema and Television Archive (CATH) became the custodian of the Hammer archive, a collection of over 300 scripts, as well as books, posters and other memorabilia. In 2014, CATH’s Director, Professor Steve Chibnall invited Mayhem Film Festival co-programmers Chris Cooke and Steven Sheil to delve into the archive where they stumbled across Unquenchable Thirst, the Hammer Dracula that never was.

At this year’s Mayhem Film Festival in Nottingham, UK, Cooke and Sheil presented the unfilmed screenplay for the first time in a live reading on Saturday 17th October 2015.

Read my review here.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Wes Craven (1939 - 2015)

“What a horror film does is not frighten so much as release fright. It is a vent. And all these fears are in us all the time, from our lives, from our youths, from the world at large; everything from the most complex societal things of waging war and class struggle to very simple primal things like fear of the father and mother and fear of abandonment as a child. So these are all inherent in us and civilization tends to gloss them over, encapsulate them, deny them; it teaches us a thousand ways to act like everything’s fine but underneath this surface there is a sort of cauldron. So what a horror film does is tap in and release that tension and it does it in a way that’s entertaining, amusing and safe.”
- Wes Craven, RIP

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Forthcoming Books - Update!

It's been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, mainly because I've been hard at work on two new books. The first is a monograph on Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind for Auteur Publishing. This book is now submitted and I'll post updates on the release date when I have them. The second is a follow-up to Subversive Horror Cinema for McFarland & Co, a study of 'gruesomeness' in 1930s American Horror Cinema. The manuscript for this is due in October so it's still nose to the grindstone for me until then! Meanwhile here are some photographs that I took during a recent research trip to Hollywood, L.A.

At Paramount

Finally found Maila Nurmi's grave in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Ready for your close up, Mr De Mille? C.B's grave at the Hollywood Forever.

Which classic 1930s monster movie is this script page from?

Glad to see Subversive Horror Cinema in the USC library!

Friday, 6 March 2015

Subversive Horror Cinema Nominated for Best Book of 2014 at the 13th Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards.

The nominations for this year's Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards ("honoring the best in classic horror research, creativity and film preservation") have been announced. I'm thrilled to say that Subversive Horror Cinema has been nominated for Best Book of 2014!

Making it all the sweeter, my good friend James Gracey over at Behind the Couch has also been nominated, for his excellent article on Tobe Hooper published in Diabolique ("Family Man", issue 20, March/April 2014)

Please vote for us!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Jeff Lieberman to be honoured at CINE EXCESS VIII

Jeff Lieberman (SQUIRM, BLUE SUNSHINE, JUST BEFORE DAWN), American cult indie legend, and forwordist of my book SUBVERSIVE HORROR CINEMA, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s CINE EXCESS cult film conference and festival.
The director will be in attendance, with his three seminal films all being screened over the course of the weekend and a special presentation by myself, "Bad Acid, Killer Worms and Deadly Dawns: The Films of Jeff Lieberman", during the conference on the Saturday.

There is also a special screening of the new 40th anniversary release of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974) as the opening night film, which also includes a Skype interview with actor Ed Neal. This will form part of the “Scum of the Earth: Horrific Hicks on Film” season running throughout the weekend.
CINE EXCESS takes place in Brighton on 14th – 16th November with its distinctive mix of filmmaker awards and retrospectives, exclusive film screenings and a themed three-day conference. All screenings are open to the public.

Friday 14th November

Venue: Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade, University of Brighton
7.30pm - Lifetime Achievement Award: Jeff Lieberman in conversation with Xavier Mendik, followed by screening of SQUIRM (1976), introduced by the director.

Venue: Late night at Duke’s at Komedia Cinema, Brighton
11pm - 40th anniversary screening of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974), with Skype interview with actor Ed Neal.

Saturday 15th November
Venue: Duke’s at Komedia Cinema, Brighton

9.30pm - Screening: BLUE SUNSHINE (1978) introduced by Jeff Lieberman.

Sunday 16th November
Venue: Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade, University of Brighton 1pm-10.30pm ‘Scum of the Earth’ screening season, looking at ‘horrific hicks’ on film. Includes:

5.00pm - Screening: JUST BEFORE DAWN (1981), introduced by director Jeff Lieberman.
8.00pm - Screening: MIDNIGHT (1982), directed by John A Russo.

Further ‘Scum of the Earth’ screening season titles will be announced shortly.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Interview with Naila Scargill, Editor of Exquisite Terror

Since Naila Scargill started Exquisite Terror a few years back, the magazine (and website) has gone from strength to strength to become one of the most interesting and quirky horror zines around. Naila herself is a fascinating interviewee, as this wonderful piece with Keri O'Shea shows.

Read the interview over at Brutal as Hell.