Thursday, 1 March 2012

A Report from Frighten Brighton

Hammer fans were in for a treat at Frighten Brighton last Saturday. Centre-piece of the mini festival was a screening of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973) introduced by Shane Briant biographer, Richard Kenchington , followed by a specially recorded video introduction by the man himself.

Shane Briant Biographer, Robert Kenchington
Robert and Shane shared some terrific anecdotes about the making of the film, especially concerning the legendary star, Peter Cushing. At the time of filming, Cushing was in poor health after the recent death of his wife and asked for reduced involvement in the film. Briant’s role, as the idealistic Dr Simon Helder, foil to Cushing’s unscrupulous Frankenstein, subsequently grew as many of the scenes originally written for Cushing were adapted for him. Briant more than holds his own in the film; both he and Cushing give strong performances. However, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell was to become – as Robert rightly commented – a film of ‘lasts’; Hammer, by 1973, were beginning to ail as a company. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell was shot in 1972 but would not be released until two years later due to distribution problems that Hammer were having with EMI at the time.
Good news is that a Blu-Ray of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is due for release later this year, and will feature a fully uncut version of the film restored from a newly unearthed pristine print. Robert revealed that an uncensored print was recently discovered in a vault in Los Angeles and is forming the basis of the restoration. What’s more, the Blu-Ray disc will feature commentaries from Shane Briant and Marcus Hearn, author of the recent Hammer Vault. Hearn is overseeing the Blu-Ray.

Also at Frighten Brighton were Hemlock Books, an independent publisher specialising in genre-related film-titles. Author Denis Meikle set up Hemlock to distribute books, magazines, comics and collectables and they have an impressive back catalogue. Hemlock also publish their own titles including David Tappenden’s Fright Films, Mind Warp (an account of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures) by Christopher Koetting and Bruce Hallenbeck’s The Hammer Vampire. Future publications include X Cert - a retrospective of 1960s and 1970s British Horror Cinema by Beasts in The Cellar author John Hamilton. I came away with a copy of Hallenbeck’s Hammer: Fantasy and Sci-Fi which I will be reviewing for Starburst Magazine.

Frighten Brighton organisers Scare Sarah and Cyberschizoid
On Sunday 4th March there’s a triple bill of Shane Briant movies – Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (1972) + Picture of Dorian Gray (1973) + Beyond Dorian (short, 2010) at the Roxy Bar and Screen in London Bridge, London. (Doors open at 2pm).
The screening has been organised by Frighten Brighton’s Richard Gladman and Sarah James as part of their Classic Horror Campaign. Richard set up the campaign to persuade the BBC to bring back their iconic Saturday night classic horror double bills which were so popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. The campaign has grown from an online petition and now includes a website, a Facebook page and a regular series of classic horror double bill screenings around the UK. The campaign is being  fronted by UK Scream Queen Emily Booth and is currently supported by various celebrities including Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman, Reese Shearsmith, actress Eileen Daly, best-selling author David Moody and Hammer Horror stalwarts Caroline Munro and, of course, Shane Briant.

The next Frighten Brighton event is due to take place in August. I’ll be there!


Wes M said...

Excellent, excellent post Jon - you may be the first to report this major news about FATMFH and the plans to restore it. Let's hope the HD make over will be worth it. Hammer got off to a great start on Blu - Eureka's disc of Paranoiac and Optimum's Quatermass and the Pit are sensational discs, but in the last few days I've seen lukewarm reviews for the Dracula Prince of Darkness Blu. Looking forward to the Hammer book review - there's a bounty of great stuff out there from the small press publishers.

Jon T said...

Thanks, Wes. I was very impressed with Hemlock books, considering they haven't been going long they have one of the best catalogues around.

James Gracey said...

This sounds like it was a fun day! So much love for classic horror.
I had no idea Mr Cushing's role in Monster from Hell was minimised due to the sad circumstances of his private life.

Hopefully I'll make it over to Brighton for one of these at some stage!

Jon T said...

Indeed you must, James! I think they are planning a bigger event next time, perhaps a tie-in with the Classic Horror Campaign, which would be great.

Jon T said...

PS. Yes, I was very impressed with the love of classic British horror and learned a few things while I was there. I didn't realise Robin Askwith was in so many 1970s horrors - I thought he was just Adventures of a Window Cleaner and Bless This House.

Cyberschizoid said...

Coming in August 2012...The Frighten Brighton Classic Horror Film Festival at The Komedia, Brighton's premiere entertainment venue!

One special guest has already been confirmed...for more news pop over to the Classic Horror Campaign website!