Archive for Michael Carreras

Feature the World Forgot

Posted in FILM with tags , , , , , on April 4, 2017 by dcairns

Edited highlights of the cast list of CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT, Hammer’s third caveman epic. Just skip over it lightly, it’s not that thrilling in itself.

Julie Ege – Nala
Brian O’Shaughnessy – Mak
Tony Bonner – Toomak
Robin John – Rool
Marcia Fox – The Mute Girl
Rosalie Crutchley – The Old Crone
Don Leonard – The Old Leader
Beverly Blake – The Young Lover
Sue Wilson – Noo
Ken Hare – The Fair Leader
Derek Ward – The Hunter
Fred Swart – The Marauder Leader
Frank Hayden – Zen
Leo Payne – The Old Tribal Artist
Tamsin Millard – Rock Woman in Fight
Christine Hudson – Rock Woman in Fight
Cheryl Stewardson – Rock Girl
Samantha Bates – Rock Girl
Debbie Aubrey-Smith – Rock Girl
Audrey Allen – Rock Mother
Vera P. Crosdale – Old Rock Woman
Mildred Johnston – Old Rock Woman
Lilian M. Nowag – Old Rock Woman
Mark Russell – Rock Man
Dick Swain – Rock Man
Mike Dickman – Rock Man
John Hollis – Masked Attacker

Hammer made ONE MILLION YEARS BC which had excellent Ray Harryhausen dinosaurs and attractive starlets in fur bikinis. Then they made WHEN DINOSAURS RULED THE EARTH which had excellent Jim Danforth dinosaurs and attractive starlets who took off their fur bikinis. Then they made CREATURES, which had no dinosaurs whatsoever and attractive starlets who hardly seemed to put their fur bikinis on at all.

The “stories” were never very great but they still managed to markedly decline across the informal tits-and-lizards trilogy, to the point where CREATURES THE WORLD FORGOT makes ONE MILLION YEARS BC look like frickin’ Crime and Punishment. Hammer producer (boss’s son) Michael Carreras gave himself the job of writing it, because he was in a position to do so. Even though nobody else would have hired him to write an eye chart. True, he wrote BC also, but that was a remake. Left to his own devices, without a previously constructed narrative, he begins this one with the main characters being born, then sits back for twenty minutes while they grow up and we await the arrival of a plot. Jesus. In the absence of comprehensible dialogue, Michael Carreras, you had one job. Tell us a story.

The film is pretty near unwatchable for grown-ups and unsuitable for children. I can recommend it only to the senile or unborn.

The film isn’t even very useful for students of cinema to analyse as a bad example, because it’s awfulness is so obvious. And the thought experiment “How would I improve this?” can be answered in an infinite number of ways. Anything you do would improve it.

But I have one thought. Change the character names — make them the same as the actor’s names. It can still be in cavemanese, if you like, but make the leading lady a Julie, and her boyfriend a Brian. Hilarity ensues. Think of it! cavepersons called Audrey, Ken, Tamsin and Tony! Truly, when something is a sterile fantasy with no connection to the real, a dose of the mundane will spice it up. And when something is stale, flat and unprofitable social realism, a dash of surrealism is what you need.

“Mike!”

“Ugga ook heek moop, Mildred.”

“Nakk! Vera P. Crosdale acka pikk ungo, Derek.”

“Samantha! Cheryl! Urk anga!”

It would still be pretty low on my list of prehistoric adventures, but it would be better.

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Unbandaged

Posted in FILM, MUSIC with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 3, 2012 by dcairns

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The director had hiccups. A really bad case — they lasted days. It was a real problem because he might hiccup at any point, during a take, and ruin the sound. It became a running joke — the production hiccups.

Then one day he didn’t come in to the studio. He was dead. Apparently hiccups can be a sign of an approaching heart attack. Who knew?

With Seth Holt out of the picture, the picture was finished by the talentless Michael Carreras, the man who destroyed Hammer films with his terrible ideas and equally terrible ambitions to write, direct, produce, none of which he had the slightest knowledge of or capacity for. But BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB is still a pretty interesting show.

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It’s got Andrew Keir, the best film Quatermass, and James Villiers, and George “I was in CITIZEN KANE and now this” Coulouris, Aubrey Morris (Yay! P.R. Deltoid!) and Valerie Leon, known in the UK as the Hi Karate Woman. A fine actress with enormous juicy breasts.

The musique concrete is by Tristram Carey, who also scored THE LADYKILLERS, which Holt produced. He’s one of the very few filmmakers who worked at Ealing and Hammer, and he must have liked the dysfunctional family atmosphere — he might have fitted well into the BBC. Holt’s wife said that he and director Sandy Mackendrick should never have worked together, since rather than anchoring one another and compensating for their excesses, they hyped each other into a frenzy and made everything twice as crazy as it needed to be. Which is perhaps why THE LADYKILLERS is such a brilliantly extreme film. (Say, I’m writing a book about it, aren’t I?)

Kenneth Tynan wrote NOWHERE TO GO, consciously intended as the last Ealing picture (perhaps a good film to watch for this Blogathon!), a dark thriller which Holt served up with bracing savagery. TASTE OF FEAR, aka SCREAM OF FEAR, was Hammer’s best DIABOLIQUES knock-off, with the corpse sitting calmly at the bottom of the swimming pool destined to traumatize a young Tom Hanks when his mother, in a confused state, led him into the wrong cinema. Not BAMBI at all.

Holt’s best movie is surely THE NANNY, with a powerful and relatively controlled performance from Bette Davis, great work from the child actors, and a really gripping use of interior space — shot by Harry Waxman, who was always at his best in black and white (cf BRIGHTON ROCK). Davis described Holt as “a mountain of evil” or something, somewhat to the bafflement

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Late Hammer films are typically portraits of the disintegration of a stolid but efficient studio organisation, derailed by monumentally clueless management. TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER is actually really good, but the powers that be cut off the whole climax, leaving Christopher Lee and Satan apparently vanquished by a small pebble hurled at the Great Man’s dome by Richard Widmark. This one manages to hold back on the nudity apart from a couple of modest, not-too-distracting instances, and balances creepiness with camp in an unusual way. The asylum scene, with the maniacal flurry of canted angles and ludicrous toy cobra, was actually helmed by Carreras and it may be the only good thing he ever did — I’m inclined to credit Holt’s shooting plan or DoP Arthur Grant, who’d begun in quota quickies with Michael Powell and had worked at Hammer throughout their glory years —

UK: Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb [DVD] [1971]

US: Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb

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