Archive for Italy

I drank with a zombie.

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2007 by dcairns


My partner Fiona and I were extremely lucky, a few weeks back, to have a pint with John Harrison, who was gearing up to direct an adaptation of Clive Barker’s THE BOOKS OF BLOOD (or one story from that collection, anyway) here in my native Edinburgh.

Putting aside all thoughts of “The SWINE! It should have been ME!” I settled down to my Guinness Extra Cold and found J.H. to be a very affable and interesting sort of chap indeed. I haven’t heard yet if his film has the final go-ahead, but I wish it the best.

Interesting stuff: John talked about his mentor, the literally towering George A. Romero, and how funding had been secured for G.A.R.’s latest zombiefest, DIARY OF THE DEAD, from an unusual source, the private fortunes of a sneaker heir. I think it was Reebok. The training shoe descendant asked how much a film would cost, they told him $20 million, he hemmed and hawed and said he didn’t think he could afford that, so they resourcefully suggested $2 million, and he consented. Fiona asked John if they’d had to product place sneakers on their zombie.

“We didn’t have to, but if we’d had to, WE WOULD HAVE.”

John, it turns out, in addition to scoring DAY OF THE DEAD and directing CREEPSHOW II, played the part of the zombie in DAWN OF who gets a screwdriver embedded in his lughole (censored in the U.K.). Fiona shook his hand. I texted my friend Sam Dale:

i just had a drink w the zombie who gets screwdrivered in dawn ot dead

He texted back:

r u at some kind of horror convention or r u just THE LUCKIEST MAN IN THE WORLD?

I guess it’s the latter.

John directed the TV miniseries of DUNE a few years back, and by strange chance I was at one point planning to work with both the stars of that. Alec Newman, a fellow Scot, who played Paul Atreides, had a nice story about working with Vittorio Storaro.

‘He asked me, “Can you walka downa thees corridor diagonal to the light,  so a-halfa you face ees een shadow, a-halfa een the light?”

‘I said, “I dunno, Vittorio, it doesn’t seem very natural.”

To which the great man replied:

‘”Koh! Alec! MOVIES ees no natural.

You said it, mister.


Steiger, Steiger, Burning Bright…

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , , , , on December 12, 2007 by dcairns


Whatever I may say, I love Rod Steiger. He definitely has his bad side, and I can’t help but appreciate Steiger put-downs, like this one from B. Kite, “It’s a very textured performance, and the texture is that of oily sweat on bad skin.” Or this, from actor Steven McNicoll: “He always looks  to me like he’s pushing one out,” (a delicate reference to the act of voiding the bowels).

And yet, and yet, I love him so.

As Paul Ross said (erroniously) of Hitchcock, “the best bit is always right next to the worst bit,” and I think maybe that’s true of Rod. In DOCTOR ZHIVAGO Rod has an unusual drunk scene, where over the course of several minutes of continuous screen time he has to get progressively plastered, starting from a point of complete sobriety. It’s a masterclass in method-acting, showy but undeniably impressive. Until the end, when, ejected from the flat by unlikely Russian Omar Sharif, he goes so far over the top he threatens to come out the other side, bawling, “You’re made from the same clay as the rest of us! Clay! CLAY! CLAAAAYYYY!!!!!”

Actually, maybe that one’s partly writer Robert Bolt’s fault.

Anyhow, I’ve been meaning to post the second Terry-Thomas anecdote about his experience co-starring with Big Rod in GLI EROI…

After the events of the first story, Rod had remarked, “I think that Englishman’s crazy…”

A few days later, both men were relaxing at the hotel pool on a day off, when Terry-Thomas happened to notice a young girl floundering in the deep end. Swimming away from her to where Rod sat at the edge of the pool, TT remarked, “I say, I think that girl needs rescuing.” Spotting his cue like a true pro, the Steigershark dived in and dragged the bathing beauty to safety.

Afterwards, Steiger: “But why didn’t you rescue her yourself?”

Terry-T: “Well, I mean… I was there, and so were you… I saw she was in a spot of bother… and you look like the sort of chap who enjoys rescuing people… and anyway, I didn’t feel like it!”

Steiger was later heard remarking, “Now I know that Englishman’s crazy!”

Make of it what you will.