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Gothic Films - episode six

This is a continuation of the topic Gothic Films - episode five.

Gothic Literature

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1LolaWalser
Edited: Sep 8, 11:37pm Top

Jean Kerchbron's Le Golem from 1967 is terrific. I can't understand how it's not better known. Based on Meyrink's book, but with a more convoluted psychological narrative in which the golem is seen as the secret double of Athanasius Pernath--at least, Pernath fears that identification. Fantastic performance by André Reybaz.

2housefulofpaper
Sep 9, 10:19am Top

>1 LolaWalser:
And not available in the UK, of course! I did fid this piece on the mubi.com website:

https://mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-forgotten-jean-kerchbron-s-the-golem-1967

3LolaWalser
Edited: Sep 9, 1:02pm Top

>2 housefulofpaper:

Perfect! An appetiser, at least... Interestingly, the book was adapted by Kerchbron and Louis Pauwels, who had more than a passing interest in esotericism and the occult. I read a strange novel of his, L'amour monstre, and you'll note his bestseller was the semi-fictional The morning of the magicians, with a subtitle in French "introduction to fantastic realism". Which somehow seems an apt descriptor of Meyrink and Leo Perutz's work too... If Meyrink was an "update" of sort of medieval alchemical lore, Kerchbron/Pauwels offered such an "update" of him.

4housefulofpaper
Sep 12, 6:24pm Top

>3 LolaWalser:

I should have noted it, because The Morning of the Magicians has a chapter to itself near the beginning of Gary Lachman's book Turn Off Your Mind which I own, and have read, in both the first and the second editions. But the memory isn't what it was...

Speaking of Golem films, a couple of days ago I saw the news that Paul Wegener's 1920 version is coming out on Blu-ray (in the UK) in a new 4k restoration - from the original negative (that had been thought lost), it says on the Eureka video website!

5LolaWalser
Edited: Sep 13, 2:44pm Top

>4 housefulofpaper:

I wish someone would finally collect whatever is available of the previous two installments of Wegener's trilogy--nothing but teasers for decades! The 1915 film--the first Golem film--is supposedly existing in considerable length, at least according to some silent cinema websites.

I'm currently looking for Duvivier's version (based on Wegener) from 1936. Disappointed that Criterion didn't include it in its "Duvivier in the 1930s" set... It also stars Harry Baur--monumental actor, must see.

P.S. Piotr Szulkin's 1979 "Golem", adaptation of Meyrink, is available on YouTube but unfortunately in Polish only.

("Golem" (1979) - film polski)

6housefulofpaper
Sep 22, 3:39pm Top

I re-watched one of Hammer's least regarded films on Blu-ray: Lust for a Vampire. I'm afraid I've got a soft spot for this one. There are some aspects of it that work, for me at any rate, while time has softened the impact of what might have dismayed Hammer fans in the original audience.

What do i like? Ralph Bates' creepy besotted satanist teacher. Harvey Hall, who usually plays leering heavies, gets to portray a kind of German Inspector Whicher and looks as if he might wrap the case up before the film's halfway through (until he's dealt with). The fact that the peasants at the end (against advice) burrning down the castle and thereby NOT destroying the Karnsteins because fire cannot harm vampires (in 1970/71 this might, I suppose, have read as a reactionary position, criticising the counterculture, '68'ers, etc. but through the lens of current events I'm going to read it as a warning about populism and failing to think about the consequences of actions.

Mike Raven is pretending to be Christopher Lee and of course failing, and bringing an element of presumably unntentional camp to proceedings. Poor chap, he was a radio D.J. but isn't allowed to use his own voice (he's dubbed by Valentine Dyall) and he's even replaced by close-ups of Christopher Lee's eyes in some shots. His presence in the film is enjoyable, at nearly half a century's distance, but for all the wrong reasons.

Ditto the song "Strange Love" that plays over the rather Corman-esque dream sequence (but watching in HD I got a sense of how effective just flooding the screen with psychedelic colours, in a darkened cinema, would have been).

Obviously the whole "lesbian vampire in a girls' finishing school" is pure exploitation, but even here the sequence where the (morally shabby) "hero" Richard Le Strange (a very disobliging stand-in for J. Sheridan Le Fanu!) explores Castle Karnstein, is cornered by what appear to be three "Dracula's wives" type vampires, only for them to be revealed as schoolgirls playing games, and then the scene shifting to the school, with a class of "ancient greek" exercise being conducted in the grounds, quite effective. I think its the transition between the played-up gothic of the castle and the determinedly Enlightenment air of the school (until the camera focuses in on Suzanna Leigh's bust that is - but then, it is subjectively giving us Shabby Le Strange's subjective view).

7LolaWalser
Sep 22, 3:44pm Top

Hmmm, "least regarded"? I could regard it again and again! :)

Unfortunately so far I managed only once, on YouTube (and then it was deleted), that's the one I can never seem to find for a reasonable price.

I'm taking dinner and a DVD to friend's tonight, Mario Bava's Four times that night. First time viewing for both of us.

8alaudacorax
Sep 29, 12:34pm Top

I don't know--perhaps I'm getting jaded. Just watched the first episode of Bitten, about a woman who's a werewolf and the only female of her species (well, that's what the blurb says). IMDb has it as 'Drama/Fantasy/Horror/Mystery', but I think I know a soap when I see it and I'm not watching any more.

9alaudacorax
Sep 29, 12:57pm Top

Okay--perhaps I am jaded. Just started watching The Witches of East End. Only lasted quarter of an hour this time--more soap. Like accidentally watching 'Dallas' or 'Dynasty' or something ...

10LolaWalser
Sep 29, 6:24pm Top

>8 alaudacorax:, >9 alaudacorax:

You're adventurous... I'm leery of hip new stuff.

The Bava was weak garbage, by the way, and Not Even Horror, but since I mentioned it above... count this a bonus warning.

Disappointingly, the UK DVDs of Casting the runes (1979) and Zodiac (1974) won't play for me. First time I get this problem. Nothing seems to be physically wrong with the DVDs, and The Jensen Code from the same seller plays just fine. I use the VLC media player--it gives some error message but no remedy. If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears...

Omg, this is OT as well, but before I forget--Year of the Rabbit! Whatever else Brits are losing, it won't be their sense of humour!

11housefulofpaper
Sep 29, 8:41pm Top

>10 LolaWalser:

It's always infuriating when a disc won't play for no apparent reason. Casting the Runes is currrently on YouTube, if that's any consolation. Sorry about the Bava . I watched it, or rather some of it, probably 20 years ago. It was on shown on terrestrial British TV. I think I got bored and started switching channels.

12LolaWalser
Edited: Sep 30, 7:44pm Top

>11 housefulofpaper:

Thanks for letting me know--I did look but the only result seemed to be some recent remake... (ETA: found it!) I'll check again. I did see it already a few years ago (on the trusty YT of course), as well as Zodiac, but there you go, sometimes there's no use being honest and buying stuff! The weird thing is that all three titles I got are on the same label, Network? and the Runes and Jensen Code were even printed in the same year, 2007.

Yeah, the Bava is a waste of time for anyone but the hardiest completist. I mean, it offers his trademark visual style, the thrilling colours, the girl is lovely and the swinging sixties look charming, but the story really tests one's patience. The awful dub never helps, of course. The single most annoying thing about all Italian movies from that era...

13alaudacorax
Edited: Sep 30, 4:38am Top

>10 LolaWalser: - Disappointingly, the UK DVDs of Casting the runes (1979) and Zodiac (1974) won't play for me. First time I get this problem. Nothing seems to be physically wrong with the DVDs, and The Jensen Code from the same seller plays just fine. I use the VLC media player--it gives some error message but no remedy. If anyone has any ideas, I'm all ears...

That rang a bell, though I haven't used VLC for some time, and I'm in a different region. I found this on an Ubuntu forum and I seem to remember it working for me, but I have no idea if it works on a Windows machine:

There's a chance that even after installing libdvdcss, some of your DVD's still won't play. One solution is to play the DVD with a media player that allows you to disable DVD menus. In VLC Media Player for example, when you choose to open a disc, there's an option "No DVD menus". You just have to enable that option before you press Play.

ETA - As I understand it, the 'libdvdcss' they mention is included in VLC to start with, so ignore that.

14alaudacorax
Sep 30, 4:44am Top

>13 alaudacorax:

Of course, the person giving the advice put's inverted comma's in plural's, so how reliable they are ...

15LolaWalser
Sep 30, 4:01pm Top

>13 alaudacorax:

Thanks for that, I've seen mentions of this "libdvdcss" thingy when I searched for answers, need to figure it out properly. IIRC there was no option to disable anything when I tried to open the disc in VLC, everything is greyed out, but I need to look again.

16WeeTurtle
Oct 1, 11:56pm Top

>1 LolaWalser: I actually have the book! I forgot about it (it's still wrapped). Didn't know there was a film though. It's a funny book because I picked it up at a used store. It must have come from Europe I think, because it's a non-uniform shape with my others, and has the spine text in the reserve direction. I keep putting it upside-down on my shelf. My library had Caligari. Maybe they'll have that as well.

17LolaWalser
Oct 2, 12:32pm Top

>16 WeeTurtle:

Meyrink is a fascinating writer, well worth looking up.

Note that Wegener's Golem from 1920 is based on a folk legend--the plot and characters have no relation to Meyrink. It's one of the most famous classics of silent cinema so I'd think chances would be good that a public library would hold it--however, it's also available free in many places online too.

18alaudacorax
Oct 2, 7:07pm Top

>17 LolaWalser:

That comes as a surprise to me. That the film is not based on the book, I mean. I've just today started reading the Dedalus edition and your post prompted me to have a second look at the introduction. It is careful not to say that the film is based on the book--the word it uses is 'inspiration'. It doesn't go out of its way to disabuse one of the notion, either--the film is mentioned both in the introduction and the chronology at the front and it's easy to jump to the assumption. I've only read the first three chapters so far, but, with hindsight, they seem to be heading into quite different territory--I think that this morning I read somewhere a comparison of Meyrink to the films of David Lynch.

Irrespective of all that, what I've read so far is quite captivating and I think I'm hooked on this one. I'm really tempted to read a few more chapters, but it's midnight here ...

19alaudacorax
Oct 2, 7:17pm Top

>1 LolaWalser:

Does anyone else find dolls and puppets really creepy? Never liked the things. Every time I look at the image in >1 LolaWalser:, first my eye is caught by the big one on the right, then the little dark one peering round its neck takes me by surprise--damn thing is watching me!

20WeeTurtle
Edited: Oct 3, 2:24am Top

>18 alaudacorax: I was about to say "Hey! I know that guy! But no...that was Cronenberg. I have heard of Eraserhead though, as being an unusual flick in the days of the double feature films.

>19 alaudacorax: It depends on the doll. I had to go back and look at that doll again. I think it's not so bad because it's looking away from me at something else, and kinda reminds me of King Jareth from the Labyrinth movie. (Yay, Bowie!).

Are you familiar at all with the reality show "Face Off"? It's a reality competition for make-up artists on Space Channel and I think SyFy (not sure who get's what and where) but there's a specific episode on dolls (Deadly Dolls I think it's called) and it's really neat to see what people do with them. Relating a little bit to The Golem, there's an episode where they make automatons (of sorts) from trades materials (metal, leather, wood, etc.) that become imbued with life. Some are creepy, some aren't. Part of the make-up is that they need to come up with a story concept as well.

EDIT: The automaton episode is called "Puppet Masters."

21WeeTurtle
Oct 3, 2:29am Top

An odd sort of film that I just remembered is a French film called Vidocq, about a famous detective working on case who winds up supposedly dead.

And, just from the touchstone search it might not be a character unique to that one film? It's neat to watch as it mixes live film with painted backgrounds and such, and in a live film way reminds me of Disney's layered animation technique with films like Pinocchio.

22alaudacorax
Oct 3, 4:06am Top

>20 WeeTurtle: - I think it's not so bad because it's looking away from me at something else ...

Wrong doll. Look at it again and drop your eyes to its throat and a fraction to your left or its right--there's second face glaring 'woodenly' straight at you. Perversely, I now really want to see the film if only to see the dolls when that scene is in motion. Also, that bearded old man's hat rocks ...

>20 WeeTurtle: - I have heard of Eraserhead though ...

Not Twin Peaks or Mullholland Drive, perhaps Lost Highway?

23alaudacorax
Edited: Oct 3, 5:11am Top

Looking on UK Amazon, there seems to a an astonishing number of DVDs of Wegener's Der Golem avilable and, given Amazon's unconcern about which review goes where, it's a headache trying to work out which is worth getting. And then there's the upcoming blu-ray that Andrew mentioned above ... perhaps my safest bet is to pay the extra for that.

24LolaWalser
Edited: Oct 3, 7:19pm Top

>18 alaudacorax:

Well, Meyrink drew on the same myth, but the plot and the characters are quite different.

>21 WeeTurtle:

I'm not familiar with that movie, but there was a famous 19th century detective of that name who became a policeman after a life of crime. He was an inspiration to Hugo, (edited for correction): Balzac (Vautrin) and Poe (detective stories) and who knows who else. His memoirs, including descriptions of some cases he worked on, were reprinted many times and there have been at least two television series based on it--I managed to see quite a bit of the earlier 1970s one on YT.

>23 alaudacorax:

I have the Kino Lorber versions separately and in a set. But I believe you can easily find it free in decent versions online too.

ETA:

The edition with this cover is good:



25housefulofpaper
Oct 3, 5:54pm Top

I've got the 2003 Eureka DVD (region 2) of The Golem. The website says it's fully restored and digitally remastered, an watching it, the condition of the image seemed as good as we could expect of such an old film. But clearly the new 4k restoration's going to supersede it.

>21 WeeTurtle:
The Vidocq film is the Gérard Depardieu film from 2001? I had never even heard of it before your post. Just watched the trailer on YouTube - in German. I can't tell if it's any good :)

I don't think I was afraid of puppets as a child. Not even Raggety from Rupert the Bear. And I can still be beguiled by a traditional Punch and Judy show. Maybe it's more unsettling if the show or work takes a surrealistic or psychedelic turn - think of Jan Švankmajer's films for instance - but even there it may be the surrealism more than the puppets.

Mr Sin, the supposed ventriloquist's dummy (really a cybernetic "homunculus" from the future) gave me a turn when he started waling by himself and murdering people in Doctor Who.

26LolaWalser
Oct 3, 7:25pm Top

Puppets, dolls, mannequins and the like are my brother's phobia. Wow, this is weird. I just tried to remember what, if anything, I used to be phobic about and I can't think of anything. I am fearless!

Or, more likely, all horrored-out by Real Life...

Hey, anyone saw the trailer for some 1960's lost story Doctor Who student re-enactment, is that going to be a full story or what? I saw it on the Doctor Who YT channel but the link they had went to a 404 error.

27housefulofpaper
Oct 3, 7:53pm Top

>26 LolaWalser:

Oh, there was plenty that I was scared of including, for a time, a triangular patch of sunlight that appeared on the bathroom wall in the mornings, and which I was half-convinced was a ghost!

I do know about this Doctor Who episode, but I hadn't seen the the trailer until just now. Here's a link that should work:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vk6wtVigew

It's not a full story that's been recreated, as such, but it is one full stand-alone episode. None of the regular cast (the Doctor and companions) are in it.

I believe that what happened was this:
A four part story was edited down to three episodes because it was deemed to be too slow and uneventful (this was The Planet of Giants). This left a one-week gap in the schedules. For "reasons", I guess, the regulars were not contracted to do an extra week's work. Fortunately plans were afoot to create a 12-episode spectacular Dalek story (The Daleks' Master Plan, of which only 3 episodes now survive.) and that made it possible to create a 25-minute pre-credit sequence, as it were. And that's what the University students have recreated.

28WeeTurtle
Oct 3, 7:54pm Top

>22 alaudacorax: Oh, I know of those too, but not well enough to get an idea of the style of the film maker.

>25 housefulofpaper: That's the film, yeah. I spotted it at a local film rental place in the foreign section and was fascinated by the cover. The Wikipedia page says it's based off the memoirs of the guy. I remember it being somewhat slow and artsy. Had to watch it a couple times through. Might have come a little from having to read and watch a movie at the same time.

29LolaWalser
Oct 3, 8:16pm Top

>27 housefulofpaper:

Thanks for the explanation, that's what I was looking for. I saw the trailer but their link to further info just landed me on an expired BBC page.

30alaudacorax
Edited: Oct 4, 6:02am Top

>26 LolaWalser: - I am fearless!

Always thought of you as fearless because it took it long time to dawn on me that your profile image was an internet meme and not a photograph of yourself.

ETA - Unless you're the origin of the meme, of course.

31LolaWalser
Oct 4, 2:30pm Top

Heh, I jump boxcars... in spirit! ;)

32alaudacorax
Oct 14, 5:35pm Top

I finally got round to watching The Magician (1926) this evening. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Paul Wegener was a very odd presence, thoroughly menacing and scary on times, then occasionally teetering on the edge of comedic.

I loved Haddo's castle, especially that staircase.

I had difficulty reconciling Margaret's sculptures with what we could see of her character. I have a feeling that when she and Burdon finally got married he gradually found he'd got more than he'd bargained for.

Found the soundtrack rather distracting, though--well, very distracting, in fact. The composer had cobbled together a thousand pieces from classical music and opera and there were so many I knew but couldn't put a name to--infuriating.

A couple of questions: (a) Haddo was trying to create a human being--isn't it a bit self-defeating if you sacrifice a perfectly good maiden to do it? (b) Why was Margaret's uncle--I forget his name--after that same book of magic that Haddo found and used? Am I missing something obvious? Perhaps he wanted to make a maiden for himself?

33alaudacorax
Oct 14, 5:42pm Top

>32 alaudacorax:

I missed the obvious in my question (a), didn't I--perhaps Haddo intended sacrificing one maiden to make ten! Still can't figure out why Margaret's uncle wanted that book, though.

34housefulofpaper
Edited: Oct 14, 6:27pm Top

>32 alaudacorax:
A reminder that I've got an unread paperback of W. Somerset Maugham's novel somewhere in the house.

35housefulofpaper
Edited: Oct 15, 6:29pm Top

Something that I thought was good news but on reflection probably isn't - Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula are now available on blu-ray in the UK. They are being sold as exclusively through HMV as part of their "premium collection" range. I think these are all from Warner Bros archives and any extras on the disc (and indeed any remastering) are identical to and dependent upon the US release.

Unlike the recent Hammer re-releases from other studios, there are no extras on these discs.

edited - corrected "studies" to "studios".

36LolaWalser
Oct 14, 8:34pm Top

>32 alaudacorax:

So glad to hear that, it's a good one isn't it! Yeah, I remember the hodgepodge score. Not that unusual for the silents, I thought.

I'd have to refresh my memory re: the uncle. Will get back to you.

>35 housefulofpaper:

Tempted to no avail, but, you can add "Lujuria para un vampiro" to the scorecard of DVDs I bought prompted by a post of yours, thanks. :)

37alaudacorax
Edited: Oct 15, 5:54am Top

>36 LolaWalser: - Yeah, I remember the hodgepodge score. Not that unusual for the silents, I thought.

The score was actually written for the Turner Classic Movies reissue, so 2010 or thereabouts, but I'm damned if I can find out anything about it. The film is not even included in Robert Israel's IMDb entry. I'd assumed that it was original as I thought he used the Swan Lake music for the opening theme as a nod to the 1931 Dracula, but at the end of the film it says 'Original music by Robert Israel. New version copyright 2010 ...', which is pretty ambiguous, but seems to suggest it is a version of an earlier score, perhaps sheet music for cinema organists or whoever to accompany the original showings. Now I'm wondering if the Swan Lake theme was a kind of general-purpose horror movie opening music back in the day.

ETA - Just to be clear, Israel is a contemporary composer--born in 1963.

38alaudacorax
Oct 15, 5:20am Top

>37 alaudacorax:

Another odd thing about the DVD. I bought it as a Region 1 American import, but I forgot and stuck it in my blu-ray player, and it played perfectly well. There's nothing on the DVD or packaging to say it's region-free--or region-anything, for that matter--and the usual copyright warnings on screen seem to suggest that even the makers of the DVD think it's Region 1, but it seems to be region-free, nevertheless. Were all the Turner Classic Movies reissues region-free?

39LolaWalser
Edited: Oct 15, 12:30pm Top

>37 alaudacorax:

Oh, yes, I know it was a newly arranged score--I meant that sort of "sampling" was actually the norm for silents from the beginning, not much original composing for them specifically went on.

On that note (ha), I was interested to read about the score put together for the first showings of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari in the US--they deliberately chose ultra-modern Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Debussy, Richard Strauss for that avant-garde feel. In Germany there WAS an original score commissioned but only the description survives--it too was "modern", Expressionist, based on Richard Strauss as a model.

>38 alaudacorax:

It's a DVD-R, maybe that makes a difference.

40housefulofpaper
Nov 2, 5:56pm Top

Borley Rectory is something I've been looking out for, but any DVD with the name of "the most haunted house in England" I saw turned out to be a cheap effort with very poor reviews.

This Borley Rectory is an animated documentary, but the techniques used - actors shot in front of a green screen, then composited into painstakingly recreated sets that are lit in a kind of hyper-German Expressionist style, and populated with (even more painstakingly-created) dust motes, pipe smoke, and nebulously insubstantial spectres, makes it something very much out of the ordinary.

Actors include Reece Shearsmith and Mr English Gothic, Jonathan Rigby, as ghosthunter Harry Price.

The main feature is only just over an hour long (but represents something like five years' work on the part of writer, director and animator Ashley Thorpe). There are hours of extras (some admittedly repetitive, Q&As after festival screenings and so on); but also Thorpe's three previous short horror films and some documentary features.

41alaudacorax
Nov 3, 4:49am Top

>40 housefulofpaper:

I could have sworn we've had a discussion here on the Borley Rectory story, but I can't find it by running searches.

Anyway, I remember being a little annoyed. The whole story seemed to me nonsense--a combination of fraud, mischief and gullibility ... except that there was an actual skull found there. But I couldn't find that much or any attention had been paid to it. Surely that needed investigating?

42alaudacorax
Nov 3, 5:07am Top

>41 alaudacorax:

Oops! Spoke to soon. I was annoyed back when I couldn't find anything about that skull, but now I've found out about it in just five minutes' searching. From https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4053 -

The skull that Mrs. Smith found was attributed to a victim of the 1654 plague, many victims of which were crudely buried in the ground that later became part of the garden of Borley Rectory. It was not uncommon for skulls and other bones to be found on the property, and they were routinely reburied in the churchyard.

Oh well ...

43alaudacorax
Nov 3, 5:09am Top

>40 housefulofpaper:

I haven't much patience for the Borley Rectory story, but I'm eager to see that film purely from your second paragraph.

44housefulofpaper
Nov 3, 3:57pm Top

>43 alaudacorax:

The trailer's been up on YouTube for nearly two years, but it somehow managed to pass me by.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwVon3ODMWo

The script doesn't come down definitively on either side of the real or fake question. The apparitions are dramatisations of the testimonies and reportage from Harry Price and others, and are not necessarily presented as fact. The finding of the skull does feature in the film, you may be pleased to know.

45alaudacorax
Nov 4, 6:35am Top

Can I tell you what I'm NOT watching at the moment? Lust for a Vampire! I've had it probably ten days (CinemaParadiso DVD rental), and I've yet to get more than five or ten minutes into it. I've sat down to watch it at least three times, but that first five or ten minutes is just so bloody awful I switch off from a combination of exasperation and embarrassment.

Oh well, if I force myself to watch it tonight, perhaps it will become clear why they had that seemingly quite random shot of Christopher Lee's eyes, or why they are resurrecting presumably a vampire right in front of a whacking great crucifix; but I doubt if it will become clear why they so unconvincingly dubbed Mike Raven's voice.

Anyway, I've written about it here and I'm hoping that will somehow give me the impetus to sit through it ...

46alaudacorax
Nov 4, 1:11pm Top

>45 alaudacorax:

No good. Lasted about twenty minutes and ... just can't. No wonder Ralph Bates hated it. I was expecting one of those pillow fights in sexy underwear any minute in the school girls' dorm--that's about the tone of it. But even for that I couldn't put up with the rest of it. I think I must be finally growing up. I need something with more artistry and intellectual content. Like Jess Franco ...

47LolaWalser
Edited: Nov 5, 7:47pm Top

Borley Rectory

Looks interesting. Every Ghost Ever, apparently. Unfortunately neither my library nor "online" seem to offer it...

My latest ghostly experience was the quite stylish-looking The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre, 1964. Originally produced as a pilot for a projected series starring Martin Landau as a ghost hunter with a day job as an architect. The project was junked, so they added some more scenes to the pilot and showed it as a TV movie.

I listened to some of the commentary on the DVD. The idea for the series sounds intriguing--it was envisaged as an explicitly horror series, unlike the existing ones similar in some ways, such as The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents etc. Presumably that is exactly why it didn't get the green light though--too scary, gory, someone thought better of endless dealing with the aggrieved public?

The pilot has Judith Anderson doing a variant of the creepy Mrs. Danvers from Rebecca.

I was most intrigued by the character of Landau's sidekick, who is his no-nonsense, more-than-middle-aged housekeeper. And she's not played for laughs! Assuming she'd have stayed on, that might have made for a unique relationship in TV and cinema.

The story itself appears more enigmatic than it really is, for a while at least, because they extended some scenes beyond reason simply to fill the time. I got bored in places but then impressed in other because the very longueurs added something dreamy and uncanny to the proceedings. Wouldn't recommend going to huge expenses to buy it but if you get a chance give it a look.

Apparently it has quite a "cultish" reputation, as happens with stuff that was seen only once and long unavailable.


48housefulofpaper
Nov 4, 8:52pm Top

>46 alaudacorax:

Ah well...I gave my best shot at a defence of the film at >6 housefulofpaper:. I have actually watched two or three Jess Franco films recently...

>47 LolaWalser:
I was intrigued enough to watch the tv version (which is currently uploaded to YouTube - as ever, who knows how long it will stay there?). I have to confess I'm puzzled by the technicalities of '60s US television. Without the extended scenes you report, the pacing and feel is like (to take an obvious example) a BBC studio drama played more or less as live and captured with multiple video cameras. Can you actually do multi-camera drama with film cameras, I wonder?

It might be the theatricality and slightly off pacing at times, that unfortunately brought to mind the horror spoof Garth Marenghi's Darkplace (especially at the climax). I hesitated to write that for fear of putting the notion in the readers' minds and spoiling their enjoyment...but then I did it anyway.

Random thoughts while watching - did the wall of paintings in Nelson Orion's clifftop house inspire Night Gallery eight or so years later? I'm sure the ghost effect was previously used in The Outer Limits (the show Joseph Stefano had just left) for an alien (The Galaxy Being episode?). Judith Anderson absolutely not attempting an accent appropriate for "Sierra de Cobre". If this had become a series, I hope the bluff work colleague wouldn't have taken screen time from the best character, the housekeeper (I bet he would have done, though).

49alaudacorax
Nov 5, 4:41am Top

>48 housefulofpaper:

If I owned a copy, I'd probably watch Lust for a Vampire all through at some point--when I was in the right mood--but I have to send it back, else I'll be getting another of CinemaParadiso's 'gentle reminders' in my email box. Besides, I have Borley Rectory at the top of my wish list on there, and I'm eager to see that.

By the way, if you think I'm mentioning CinemaParadiso a lot, I don't have shares in them or anything--it's just that I think they're brilliant, vastly superior to any streaming service I've come across (for UK-based viewers, I should add), and I don't want them suddenly going out of business on me. I must have found them somewhere, of course, but I rarely, if ever, see advertisements for them, so the more people who know about them the better.

50WeeTurtle
Edited: Nov 7, 5:24am Top

So I just encountered this: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0091142/?ref_=tt_sims_tt

Is anyone familiar with it? *Gothic* from 1986. Looks to be dramatizing the horror story contest between Byron and the Shelleys.

51alaudacorax
Nov 5, 4:50am Top

>50 WeeTurtle:

That's yet another I've long been meaning to see but never got round to--another shout out for CinemaParadiso (>49 alaudacorax:)--I've moved it up to second on my wish list ...

52housefulofpaper
Nov 5, 7:01pm Top

>50 WeeTurtle:

"Looks to medramatizing the horror story contest between Byron and the Shelleys".

That right, although "psycho-dramatising" might be closer to the mark - it's a very (intentionally) overwrought, laudanum-soaked and stylised retelling of the stay at Villa Diodati that led to Frankenstein and (indirectly through Polidori's reworking of Byron's fragment of a vampire story, Dracula).

53LolaWalser
Nov 5, 7:45pm Top

>48 housefulofpaper:

If the version you watched is on the "Scissorman" channel I just found, I notice it has a bluish/purplish tinge. The DVD included both the pilot and the extended version but I only watched the latter, which is in gorgeous black and white. It's beautifully photographed.

I thought the story effective enough although it became fairly predictable. The special effects I thought were quite good (the ghost, the whirlwind etc.) All in all, I think it's a pity we didn't get more stories of Nelson Orion (+ his housekeeper).

>50 WeeTurtle:

Yep, Ken Russell's bit of fun. The cast is the best part of it, IMO. Although I should note I only saw it in a blurry print in one of those 50-movie packs from Millcreek.

I did get recently another of Russell's "Gothic" extravaganzas, The fall of the Louse of Usher (not a typo!) with players who have names such as "Tulip Junkie", "Emma Millions" and "Alex Alien". :)

54alaudacorax
Nov 6, 5:38am Top

>47 LolaWalser:, >48 housefulofpaper:

The Ghost of Sierra de Cobre (no touchstone?): I'm looking at that DVD cover. I'm trying to teach myself to draw and I'm really frustrated that I can't get my faces recognisable as their subjects. I'm not sure what to think on finding a (presumably) professional artist who's no better than I am. If I tried to draw Martin Landau it would currently come out something like that. I wonder how much he/she got paid?

55LolaWalser
Nov 6, 12:47pm Top

>54 alaudacorax:

The front cover does look a bit basic. Perhaps it was done by someone involved, the writer or the producer or someone like that...

56housefulofpaper
Nov 6, 3:47pm Top

>53 LolaWalser:
Yes, that's the version I watched. The Kino Lorber release is region-locked, apparently, so there's no point my trying to get a copy.

>54 alaudacorax:
I had a quick Google search and it seems to have been the poster art for the long version's theatrical release. Recycling some production sketches or storyboards on the cheap? Or was a loose charcoal sketch somebody's idea of a particular kind of '60s chic sophistication?

57Rembetis
Nov 8, 6:48pm Top

>45 alaudacorax: Poor you! I managed one sitting of 'Lust for a Vampire' years ago. Hammer at it's worst! At least you didn't get to the dreary love theme song in the middle!

58alaudacorax
Edited: Today, 2:06pm Top

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