Archive for Michael Reeves

The Colour Of Mana

Posted in FILM, literature with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 30, 2007 by dcairns

Crowden in da house.

POW!

Loitering within tent.

POOM!

Jer.

KABOOM!

Stills from THE FINAL PROGRAMME, an amazing pop-sci-fi sextravaganza scripted, directed and designed by the enormous Robert Fuest. Here we see dashing, pill-popping Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Jerry Cornelius (bottom) played by Jon Finch (who deserves rediscovery for being sexy and brilliant here) in search of mad scientists Graham Crowden (also to be seen maddening up Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis trilogy), Basil Henson and George Coulouris (the only member of the cast in CITIZEN KANE who aged something like his character. More on Prophetic Cinema, and the noble Mr. Crowden, soon).

For a while Fuest was a bright-yet-unrecognised light of British Cinema, but he had the bad luck to come along during the collapse in American funding at the start of the seventies. Initially encouraged, then royally shafted, by what Michael Reeves called “those ponces at A.I.P.”, Fuest combined eye-popping visual flair, a traditionally English love for the eccentric and unruly, and a gleeful sadism. In other words, he was a Michael Powell for the rock ‘n’ roll era.

While Michael Reeves was destroyed by depression, recreational drugs, and psychiatry, Fuest was trashed by the film business itself: THE DEVIL’S RAIN was ludicrously recut by the A.I.P. and the industry in the U.K. imploded, leaving Fuest to mostly stifle in TV work, with only one other feature credit in 1982, an intriguing-sounding softcore drama, APHRODITE.

But before that happened, we get not only the above movie, on which more later, but also the two DR PHIBES comedy-horrors with Vincent Price (a third, PHIBES TRIUMPHANT, was stymied by Fuest’s inability to come up with any more elaborately nasty murders), a sombre, skilled and stylish WUTHERING HEIGHTS, and this location-set, brightly daylit psycho-thriller, AND SOON THE DARKNESS (an odd debut for a former production designer since it requires no sets!):

I like the whispery female VO that comes in partway thru, as if someone’s been watching Godard…

R.I.P. Tony Tenser

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 13, 2007 by dcairns

First Karlheinz Stockhausen, now THIS.

quoth the raven

As head of Compton Films and then Tigon Films, Tony Tenser at produced first cheap-and-cheerful skinflicks (NAKED AS NATURE INTENDED, with Pamela Green of PEEPING TOM fame), then horror movies that ranged from the semi-classy: WITCHFINDER GENERAL, BLOOD ON SATAN’S CLAW (both touched with genius), to the trashy: CURSE OF THE CRIMSON ALTAR, a stodgy country-house horror than features both Karloff and Lee, but finds nothing for either to do, but is enlivened by hilarious s&m dream sequences with a green-painted Barbara Steele with horns on.

Tenser did dabble in other genres too, distributing the very uneven but at-least-arguably brilliant THE GREAT MCGONAGALL with Spike Milligan (the only film I know that actually stops for lunch) and WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE GOOSE, a downright bizarre and unwelcome sex comedy starring Norman Wisdom and a teenage Sally Geeson (“Makes NOT NOW DARLING look like the fuckin’ MAHABHARATA,” – Steven McNicoll), but his greatest contribution to cinema must be his launching of Roman Polanski’s U.K. directing career.

REPULSION was a risky project for anybody to undertake, with censorable sexual situations, a depressing ambience, and a stylistic journey from British social realism (sort of) to avant-garde expressionist terror. The result is still Polanski’s most extreme, strange and powerful film (which is not intended as a knock against his later works).

I think it’s a great shame Tenser retired from movies when he did, for with the disappearance of mini-moguls like him, British cinema stopped generating these rogue movies which are our artistic lifeblood, and we pretty much gave up on making commercial potboilers too. The dreaded middle ground was all that remained:

Run, fat boy, run!

“It’s OK if you like films about…students…running,” – Greg/Sylvia Edwards.

So goodbye, Tony Tenser, we were missing you already.

Buy REPULSION here ~

Repulsion [1965] [DVD]

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