STARCHASER!

3 months and two events since my last post!

To sum up, the March screening of SECRETS OF THE PHANTOM CAVERNS aka WHAT WAITS BELOW was a blast! A very busy cinema with the majority of seats filled up, thanks in no small part to the brilliantly enthusiastic members of the Edinburgh Horror Film Society who turned up en masse! Lots of laughs and there was also a certain frisson as Robert Powell himself was on-stage in Edinburgh at the time playing Hercule Poirot no less!

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Our most recent screening of the classic 70s TV movie THE NIGHT STALKER was also a winner. It’s always nice when you find out lots of people in the audience haven’t seen something before, and it was the case here. It’s a great pleasure to be able to provide a first experience for people and it seemed to go down very well.

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And I realise I haven’t even posted anything about our February screening of THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE! What a film and what a wonderful noise the main theme made when it blasted out of the speakers in the Banshee Cinema!

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Now onto the June screening and it’s time for a change of genre! 80’s SCI-FI ANIMATION!!

On Friday 27th June I’ll be screening a true hidden gem favourite of mine. I owned (and got rid of!) the big box Entertainment in Video rental release of this and I’m currently hunting a copy down to fill that dusty space on my shelf.

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A forgotten 80s animated classic, STARCHASER: THE LEGEND OF ORIN is a rip-roaring Saturday matinee adventure; one of those films that lodged its place firmly in your brain as a child and never left. The obvious among us could mention the similiarities with this film and STAR WARS, but who ever said that good ol’ George Lucas’ film was the epitome of originality?

STARCHASER has a lot to brag about as a film in its own right. Still to receive an official dvd or bluray release in the UK, this is a chance to relive your youth, or see the film for the very first time. I urge people who come to this to leave your preconceptions at the door – this film still stands up and demands to be seen by many more people!

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STARCHASER: THE LEGEND OF ORIN
Friday 27th June
7pm
The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh
FREE

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Our new Friday screening slot! Time to unleash Robert Powell….

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THE TIMETH HATH COMETH!!

I’m pleased to say that our film screenings at The Banshee Labyrinth in Edinburgh are moving to a Friday night slot! Hopefully this will mean more bums on seats and more beady eyes to watch the films on offer, and this month it’s a biggy.

For the fourth What Waits Below screening I’m going to show…WHAT WAITS BELOW aka SECRETS OF THE PHANTOM CAVERNS!!

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I’ve raved about this film in a previous post here, so I’m not going to go into it all again. I’ve also written a review for the film on Letterboxd, so there’s even less reason for me to do so here (I’m lazy and there’s no denying it).

So all I can do is URGE you to come and watch the film and see for yourself.

What Waits Below screens WHAT WAITS BELOW!
Friday 28th March
The Banshee Labyrinth
7pm
FREE

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VH-YES!

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So I’ve been busy lately. For some reason I’ve been bitten by a big, dusty, grumpy VHS bug, and it’s not about to go away. I used to own stacks of videos but when the shiny new-kid-on-the-block DVD came along I ditched most of them in a fit of pique. A few years go by and I was still biting my thumb at VHS, and looking with greedy eyes at bluray. Now, crazily, I’ve gone full circle and, well, you can see for  yourself.

I still have my DVDs and I’m still buying blurays, but VHS is top dog. Ebay and me are the best of friends at the moment (because car boot sales are dry these days) and my VCR (no I didn’t throw that away!) has returned to the living room nestled quietly between my freesat box and bluray player.

What’s it all about? I think it’s my age. I’m on the wrong side of 34 and I’m possibly hitting a pre-mid-life crisis crisis. But I don’t care. I’m revelling in the bulky big-box rental artwork, and dusty crusty video labels. Popping open a clamshell box to reveal the enticingly analogue black plastic rectangle within and inserting it gingerly into the VCR slot is worringly exciting. Heck, I even like it when the interference lines play over the image just when the credits roll and you can tell that that’s the point when most people decided to be kind and rewind.

There’s no stopping me. I’m waiting for several more parcels that should be arriving in the next few days.

Hi everybody. My name’s Ed, and I’m a VHS junkie.

Our first screening and the bigger picture

What Waits Below #01 was a nerve wracker for me. I’d planned and prepped as much as I could. The venue was locked and loaded and I’d been to check out the screening gadgets and gizmos several weeks before the big day. The facebook and twitter pages were maturing slowly but surely and I was getting reasonable responses from friends and complete strangers on the social media platforms. It was just a question of waiting to see who would actually turn up on the night. The event’s completely free so no tickets, and no sense of expected bums on seats…

I decided to do a final push on facebook by promoting the event on various groups and pages that I thought would be up for listening or punting the message about.

Then something happened that made my blood pressure sky-rocket. I asked the good folk at High Rising Productions if they could share the event on their fb page. Almost as soon as I’d hit ‘post’ I saw High Rising had replied. Excited to see their surely inevitable “HUZZAH” and positive words, my head throbbed when I saw:

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Thankfully it was cleared and the event went a-ok, but it raises an interesting question. Do venues and free film screenings in pubs across the land clear every film they show with the UK dvd distributor every time? Surely this doesn’t happen or else the same pub film nights across the land wouldn’t all occur. Venues with a Public Video Screening Licence (PVSL) have a list of studios from whose work they can screen. The studio list is pretty huge and consists of many of the big league names such as Universal, Warner and Sony which is great at that’s a massive pool of content to choose from. Screenings must be from domestic formats (dvd, bluray, vhs) and are usually sourced by the venue owner/event organiser by simply buying them from a shop for the purpose of the event or just drawing from their personal collection.

All well and good, but there is a very antiquated hitch. The PVSL states that you can’t promote the event from anywhere except the venue where the screening is taking place. Now back in the day of old school word-of-mouth and paper poster, that worked just fine and dandy. But what about social media? Should a venue be able to promote their screenings to their followers on facebook or twitter, because at the moment the PVSL doesn’t account for this.

But it happens anyway.

As I’ve said before, I believe that films need to be seen by an audience to be truly appreciated, even if that audience amounts to 2 people in an otherwise empty cinema. The sharing of the experience is what makes it important. Cult film nights (a term I don’t really like, it has to be said) can have a pretty niche attraction so the requirement to get the message out to promote these kind of events is pretty damn important, but only being able to tell people through posters in the venue cuts down the amount of interested punters who might fancy going along to something like that. Promotion through social media is the obvious next option as target markets can be pinpointed and informed directly and for free.

Should the use of social media promotion be allowed and included in the PVSL small print to help aid the growth of free fan film nights and the viewer-ship of lesser seen films? In my opinion it’s something that needs to be seriously considered. I don’t possess the means to push this through, but perhaps by discussing it, a ball might start rolling towards something positive for the future.

Screening #01: Tourist Trap

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Thanks to the generosity of the folks at 88 Films (and with major help from Calum Waddell at High Rising Productions) I’m extremely happy to announce that I’ll be showing the criminally underseen horror gem TOURIST TRAP at the first What Waits Below screening event on November 25th at The Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh!

TOURIST TRAP (1979) is a crazy little film directed by David Schmoeller, whose other work includes CRAWLSPACE and the classic PUPPET MASTER. Starting with the vibe of a regular 80s slasher, it veers into eerie and atmospheric territory with its use of escalating suspense and memorably disturbing imagery all accompanied by a classic score by De Palma regular Pino Donaggio.

Be warned, if you have a phobia of mannequins you might want to bring a cushion to hide behind.

I hope this is going to be the first of many What Waits Below screening events, and I can’t wait to see how this one goes. Watching films should be an audience experience, so I’m hoping that I have one on the night. Fingers crossed!

It’s a completely free event, doors open at 7pm and it’s first come, first served regarding seats so get there early to guarantee yourself a good spot.

Here’s the info again for the first event:

What Waits Below Screening #01: TOURIST TRAP
The Banshee Labyrinth
Monday 25th November
7pm
FREE ENTRY

(If you’re on facebook, you can tell me you’re coming here: https://www.facebook.com/whatwaitsbelow?ref=hl#!/events/693391547356093/)

So, all that’s left to do is present you with the trailer for TOURIST TRAP (which is getting a UK bluray release from 88 Films in February 2014!).

Get this in you…

A Birthday on Halloween (including Fabio Frizzi at Union Chapel!)

It’s been a while since I posted. I think I’m still recovering.

I think myself quite lucky as my birthday falls on October 31st. I’m not sure if having a Halloween birthday is why I’ve always been so taken with the darker side of things, but I’m sure it helped fuel the fire of my love for all things macabre, weird and generally left of centre.

This year, to celebrate my 34th birthday, I decided I was going to do something special. Several months ago Death Waltz Recording Company in partnership with Paint it Black announced that they would be hosting a unique event which seemed tailor-made for me, and it was going to take place slap bang on my birthday! They would be bringing the legendary Italian composer Fabio Frizzi to London for his first ever UK concert and it would be taking place at the Union Chapel in Islington. I’m not going to go into huge detail about who Frizzi is, as the internet can do that for me, but in my opinion his collaborations with director Lucio Fulci are up there will other composer/director relationships like Hitchcock & Herrmann or Spielberg & Williams.

My parents kindly offered to buy my tickets as a present (thanks Ma!), my beautiful and long-suffering wife said she was ok with me abandoning her and our two children for the duration of my trip, and my equally long-suffering friends agreed to accompany me to the gig. All was set!

Boarding the train bound for King’s Cross at Inverkeithing, I found my seat and prepared for the journey. Even in these days of high speed international flights where you’re propelled around the other side of the world in a relatively short space of time, I’m still amazed that you can hop on a train in a small town in Fife and find yourself in England’s capital city in under 5 hours. Mental. My co-conspirator Mark boarded at Haymarket Station in Edinburgh, and we were off. Within minutes, along with the words “I know we’re too old for birthday presents, but…” Mark presented me with this:

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And things went from great to greater pretty rapidly! Jumping forward a few hours we arrived in London, met our mutual friends Baz and Kyle and headed out to Union Chapel. The venue was amazing. A tremendously impressive building that was the perfect setting for this musical extravaganza, filled to the gunnels with like-minded fans.

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To my surprise, the first person I spoke to once we got inside was Spencer Hickman, founder of Death Waltz! He was standing by the merchandise stall saying very nice things about One Way Static’s inaugural release of The Last House on the Left soundtrack by David Hess. I had to tell him I’d already ordered a copy, but Mark and I rushed to buy a couple of glow in the dark Death Waltz slipmats to do our bit, as it were.

After a few quick beers we sat down and the show began. And it was fantastic. A brilliant set-list taking in all the classic Frizzi/Fulci scores accompanied by video imagery of classic scenes of grue and brain fat! To be perfectly honest I hadn’t seen all of the films that figured in the set (I will, I promise!), but that didn’t matter as the sheer quality of the music by Frizzi and his band, accompanied by the wonderful atmosphere created by the crowd and venue lifted the whole proceedings from a concert for ‘fans’ to something that anyone could enjoy no matter their genre credentials. My friends certainly aren’t as up on Frizzi as I am and there was an element of flying blind for them, but they left feeling properly ‘wowed’ by the whole evening. I also felt really happy that they trusted me enough to go along for the ride!

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So what a trip it was and it didn’t end there. We went onto some pubs…and things get hazy for me after that but we all survived that night to go on and enjoy ourselves the next day, taking in more sights and sounds and beers.

So finally some thank-yous.

Thanks again to my Mum and Dad for the tickets and to my wife and children for putting up with my foibles.

Thanks to Death Waltz, Paint it Black and the Union Chapel for putting on such an amazing shindig.

Thanks to Fabio Frizzi and his fabulous band for sending us on a discombobulating psychotronic trip into the netherworld!

And finally thanks to the trio of blokes who really made the trip what it was – a motley crew of best friends making the most of their sadly all too limited time together.  Let’s get together again as soon as possible guys. You really made it a birthday to remember.

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Lou Scheimer.

I heard some sad news last Thursday. Lou Scheimer had passed away.

Now there may be some of you out there who have no idea who Lou Scheimer was. Trust me. You may not have known the man, but you definitely know of his work.

Ever seen He-Man, Bravestarr, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids or the animated series of Flash Gordon, Tarzan Lord of the Jungle and Star Trek? Then you’re already acquainted with just some of the productions of Lou Scheimer and Filmation, the all-American animation company he co-founded with Norm Prescott and Hal Sutherland.

Now I’ve never met Mr Scheimer, what with the fundamental problem of me growing up in the UK, but I felt like I knew him a little.

I’ve been a life-long fan of Filmation. I grew up watching Masters of the Universe, collecting the toys and pretending to be He-Man in the school playground. If you asked me right now, I could happily sing you the title theme of Bravestarr till the cows come home. I remember watching Tarzan Lord of the Jungle at home  in the early hours of Saturday morning by myself, eating my breakfast in my pyjamas while Mum and Dad slept. Absolute bliss.

Lou Scheimer and Filmation made cartoons that really affected me. They’re embedded in my psyche and they have helped me become who I am today. That may sound ridiculous to some of you but I really believe it. To this day whenever I sit down and watch the cartoons that Filmation created, I feel safe and happy. They’re a kind of comfort blanket which I can fling on whenever I feel like I need cheering up. I was bullied through quite a bit of my school life and being able to escape that particular hell for 20 odd minutes at a time was a life-line for me. Masters of the Universe was a particular favourite due to the undisputable fact that in every story I knew that the good would always win, and the bad would get what they deserved. And there was always a lesson to be learnt. I loved hearing the “educational bit” at the end of each episode of He-Man. The moral of the story where you could take away a little lesson to help you in your day to day life. When I heard those lessons it gave me hope that things would turn out ok for me eventually. And they did, in no small part thanks to the work of Lou Scheimer and Filmation.

I’m happy to say that my 3 year old son is getting into He-Man in a big way and it’s a huge privilege to be able to sit and watch the cartoons with him and see how much he loves them.  To be able to see them again for the first time through his eyes is a true joy and I think that must have been something that Mr Scheimer heard from a lot of parents across the globe.

If you want to know more about Lou Scheimer and Filmation, the cartoons and live-action series they produced and a whole lot more, seek out Andy Mangels’ book ‘Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation’. Crazily I don’t own a copy yet, but that’s something I hope to rectify very soon.

Ok. All that’s left to do is to address the man himself…

Thank you Mr Scheimer. Go and show Walt how it’s really done.

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Lou Scheimer (October 19, 1928 – October 17, 2013)