Going to the Movies

Tim Concannon on the late acting roles of Peter Cook provides us with a piece that’s erudite, wide-ranging, funny and melancholic — all the qualities we cherish. Here. This is a really wonderful illustration of what blogging can do — because you’d NEVER get a thing like this published anywhere else. Fantastic.

Fiona was surprised, in Pete Walker’s FRIGHTMARE. to see Graham The Psychiatrist take his date to see BLOW OUT. Not catching the name above the title, she wondered how the lovely couple could be enjoying a Brian De Palma movie that hadn’t been made yet in 1974.

Realizing that this was Marco Ferreri’s LA GRANDE BOUFFE, she marvelled at Graham The Psychiatrist’s taste. She would have been impressed by a date choosing such a movie, though in 1974 she would have been a bit young to see it, or indeed to go on a date.

I marvelled at Pete Walker’s sense of humour.

This is by way of being a gallery to accompany our latest podcast, which you should really download.

We speak approvingly of this transition in TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER, a slow dissolve from Christopher Lee’s beneficent visage to a landscape view, causing his eyes to bore out of the evening sky like dark moons.

This is an example of the crazy film stock cinematographer David Watkin deployed for the climax of TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER. I’m wondering if he might have used a bit of it in THE BED SITTING ROOM, which has some wild colour experiments, but most of them SEEM to have been achieved with filters and/or big plates of coloured glass (i.e. GIANT filters).


And we’re very enthusiastic about this gradual zoom-out in THE MONSTER CLUB, incorporating stylish reflections, Simon Ward’s cheekbones, and a theatrical lighting change. Suggestion for a scholarly dissertation: The Influence of Death of a Salesman on Amicus Films.

And we talk about (and quote) the sequence composed entirely of elaborate and spooky illustrations, apparently by acclaimed cartoonist John Bolton. Only right to provide a visual sample. Via Twitter, another fine cartoonist, regular Shadowplayer Douglas Noble informs me that Bolton had been doing promotional comic strips for Amicus and this led to him being hired to create the visuals for this sequence. Bolton’s work is so fine that the montage in no sense feels like a cheap solution to production limitations: it actually RAISES the production values of the film.

FRIGHTMARE stars Miss Brabazon, Chief Inspector Maigret, Manoel and Starbuck.

TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER stars Tommy Udo, the Duc De Richelieu, Tess Durbeyfield, Pussy Galore, Toby Meres, Marcus Brody, Don Jarvis, Rand Hobart, Wackford Squeers, Madame Nadedja von Meck, Professor Pomona Sprout and Madame Olympe Maxime.

THE MONSTER CLUB stars Matthew Hopkins, Major Cassius Starbuckle, Kit Kelly, Mr. Grout, the White Witch, the Duke of Buckingham, Catweazel, Detective-Inspector Boney, Dr. Crippen, Dr. John Markway, Mary Goodnight, Toby Meres again, Paul Regret, Nurse Nora and the Marquis de Sade.

Once again, you can grab The Shadowcast #3: The Fall of the House of Horror here.

11 Responses to “Going to the Movies”

  1. This is certainly the best (and only!) place for humorous yet detailed and erudite discussion on the technique of The Monster Club :P

    What are your thoughts on the oeuvre of Mr Walker and his rival in the 70’s Brit horror stakes Norman J Warren?

  2. Really great Peter Cook piece. His decline and collapse reminds me of the decline and collapse of George W.S. Trow whose “Within The Context of no Context” is one of the greatest essays since Montaigne and whose script for Merchant-Ivory’s “Savages” is one of the greatest ever written. The difference is Cook was straight and Trow was in thrall to black rough trade. In any event ONE MORE TIME!

  3. Norman J. Warren fills me with inertia worse than Walker, but I recently caught a glimpse of an uncut VIrgin Witch and was impressed, in a queasy way, by how perverse and horrid it was. The TV edit reduced it to nothing.

  4. Thank you for your stimulating podcast. Must now look up THE MONSTER CLUB. Deepest sympathies to you both in BREXITWORLD with Janet Daley raving in today’s DAILY TELEGRAPH with your current “Games of Thrones” maybe seeing St. Boris slay Tessie, the Loch Ness monster aided by Igor Rees-Mogg, while Nigel complains about the racism that never existed when he ran UKIP!

  5. Virgin Witch??? IMDb says that was directed by Ray Austin.

  6. Ah, maybe that explains why it didn’t feel like Norman J Warren! But maybe I’m confusing it with Terror? Further investigation/clarification is obviously required.

    Brexit is alarming, but the more shambolic the process, the more I can hope for a reversal, I guess.

  7. The Peter Cook essay seems to have gone missing. “Account suspended”!

  8. Michael Hinerman Says:

    I enjoyed your podcast on THE MONSTER CLUB, FRIGHTMARE, and TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER. A few points on the latter:

    That is not Lee’s naked behind; it’s his long-time stunt double, Eddie Powell.

    As to the notorious ending, a longer sequence was shot, but higher-ups either at Hammer or at EMI felt that Christopher Lee’s destruction by demons was too close to his various Dracula disintegrations, so they cut everything after Lee gets beaned by the rock.

    Michael Carreras evidently begged EMI for more funds to shore up the now abrupt climax, and was told to go pound sand.

    More tantalizingly, Chris Wicking’s original ending as written would have involved a naked Shane Briant. Peter Sykes nixed that one.

    Wayne Kinsey’s essential HAMMER FILMS THE ELSTREE STUDIO YEARS has an excellent chapter on TTDAD, and the superb documentary TO THE DEVIL…THE DEATH OF HAMMER, included as a supplement on the Anchor Bay DVD of TTDAD, is very thorough.

  9. Thanks for your kind words and your additional information!

  10. Fiona Watson Says:

    Yes. Thank you! Any feedback is very much welcome.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: