R.I.P. Tony Tenser
First Karlheinz Stockhausen, now THIS.
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:
“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 ~