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January 2013
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Posts Tagged ‘British Horror Month’

After a fun-packed and successful 2012, the Classic Horror Campaign is looking forward to a whole host of classic horror events, festivals, film screenings, competitions and much more full gloss gore in 2013!

First up is the special guest appearance of sexy Hammer Horror star Caroline Munro in detective series Midsomer Murders on ITV1 Wednesday 2nd January. The episode is entitled Death and the Divas and is a homage to classic horror films of the 60′s and 70′s.

In February we celebrate Women In Horror Month with a whole host of features and articles as well as our Female Psychos horror double bill screening at the Roxy Bar and Screen on Sunday 17th February. We’ll be screening Strait-Jacket (1964) starring Joan Crawford and Frightmare (1974) starring the wonderful Sheila Keith. You can buy tickets here! Grab them now before we sell out!

Our next horror double bill screening at the Roxy Bar and Screen will take place on Sunday 24th March so keep an eye out for full details. In the meantime, we would love your feedback on which classic horror, sci-fi and fantasy films you’d like us to show on the big screen so please feel free to give us your suggestions. You can email us at admin@classichorrorcampaign.com or contact us on Twitter @horrorcampaign or on our Facebook Page!

The Classic Horror Campaign now has a regular column in the pages of Shock Horror Magazine, who also sponsor our film screenings so please pop over to their website and order a copy of the latest issue – featuring our look at classic horror Christmas films!

August is a huge month for the Classic Horror Campaign as we celebrate British Horror Month and will also hopefully be hosting another Frighten Brighton Classic Horror Film Festival. Last year’s Frighten Brighton was a massive success taking place at Brighton’s popular Komedia entertainment venue and featuring special guest host Emily Booth, the UK’s leading scream queen!

We are also pushing to reach 3000 signatures on our petition to bring back BBC2′s classic Saturday night horror double bill seasons! Television has become so bland in the last decade that it has become impossible to find any of the classic old horror films being screened anywhere, even on the BBC. Years ago, BBC2 would screen regular horror double bills on Saturday nights which featured cult movies from Universal, RKO, Hammer Films and beyond. If you’d like to see these films back on the box, please sign this petition and tell your friends to do the same!

We shall also be looking forward to heaps of fangtastic events and film festival happenings during 2013 which should be of interest to all classic horror fans. There are going to be ongoing events from those wonderful people at the London Film Memorabilia Conventions. Every two months they hold events at London’s Central Hall Westminster which feature a mix of dealers from all over the world specialising in vintage and modern film and television memorabilia – film stills, monster magazines, rare dvds, movie posters, autographs and various special guests. Last year alone the guests included Honor Blackman, Caroline Munro, Valerie Leon, Linda Hayden, David Warner and Yvonne Romain to name just a few. Saturday 26th January sees film and TV star Francoise Pascal (Mind Your Language, Incense For the Damned) as the special guest with a Cult TV event planned for March!

Other events of interest include the Scala Beyond film festival (always full of classic horror screenings – including our own!), Film Four’s FrightFest (as well as new horror premieres they include many fangtastic fear film retrospectives), the Bram Stoker International Film Festival in Whitby and many more large and small classic horror film screenings across the UK.

Even though our campaign is to persuade the BBC (and the other major free-to-air television networks) to screen classic horror and cult movies regularly in primetime we just wanted to take this opportunity to big up one particular TV station in the UK. A huge thanks goes out to the increasingly popular Horror Channel (Sky channel 319 Virgin channel 149 Freesat channel 138) which is really flying the flag for classic horror these days with its regular screenings of Hammer Horror, Amicus anthologies, Pete Walker films and various other cult horror movies and TV shows. Classic Horror Campaign supporter Emily Booth is the face of the Horror Channel and she herself continues to champion the horror genre in all its forms; her television show Horror Bites is screened daily throughout the Horror Channel schedules.

Finally, a big thank you to all our fans, supporters, friends and followers for continuing to spread the word, help the campaign and sign our petition. Without the following people (and each and every one of you reading this) the Classic Horror Campaign would not be able to survive and thrive! Special thanks go to – Filmbar70, the team at Roxy Bar and Screen, Dr Karen Oughton, Sarah James, Niall Bailey, Weegzilla, Dean Geoghegan, Shock Horror Magazine, Westminster Film Memorabilia Conventions, April Chaplin, Amanda Norman, Emily Booth, Eileen Daly, Caroline Munro, Shane Briant, Neil Mitchell, Hemlock Books, Penny Dreadful, Elliot Wilson, Dominic O’Brien, Mark Satchwill, Pete Shorney and many more – you know who you are! A happy new year to all of you – here’s to a fangtastic 2013!

The best thing about Halliwell’s Film Guide is the capsule reviews that read like the work of a disapproving Victorian maiden aunt.  The verdict on Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly is my absolute favourite: “Revolting black comedy for masochists, representing the British cinema at its lowest ebb”.  Wow – who wouldn’t watch a film that inspires a write-up like that?

Halliwell’s ideas of what makes for a good British film are obviously very different from mine – and probably yours too as you’re visiting this website.  Girly (as the title was abbreviated to in the US) is surely one of the most unusual and most entertaining of all British horror films – as well as one of the most thoroughly British.  What does that mean? Well, for goodness’ sake, it’s got toasted teacakes and a Sooty doll in it! In short, it’s a film that’s got ‘Cult Classic’ stamped on every frame.

The nightmare of family life is frequently explored in 70s horror films: Girly takes a different tack from most by using the idealised English middle class family and its way of life as a gloriously macabre joke.  The family at the centre of this film are psychopaths, yes, but happy psychopaths – because they live by the rules.  These rules are handed down by supremely smug matriarch Mumsy (Ursula Howells), who’s aided in enforcing them by the not-terribly-bright Nanny (Pat Heywood).  They’re obeyed implicitly by the dear children (actually grown-up, but clad in school uniform with behaviour to match) Sonny and Girly (Howard Trevor and Vanessa Howard).  Some of the guests who the children find to bring back to the family’s big house (homeless men and bewildered drunks) are more troublesome, though, and frequent rule-breaking guarantees a trip on the train to see the angels…

The family’s happiness is jeopardised by the arrival of a new friend (Michael Bryant).  A drunken reveller picked up by the children, he’s accidentally responsible for the death of his girlfriend (Imogen Hassall, whose elegant beauty’s too much of a contrast to the film’s nursery rhyme world for her to stay around for long) during one of their games, and blackmailed into becoming the family’s new house guest.  But he turns out to be far more cunning than previous visitors, and by skilfully twisting the rules to his own ends and exploiting the unspoken tensions behind the family’s jolly façade, he proves just as dangerous as they are.

Bryant’s great as the unwilling guest who eventually realises he can have a lot of fun with the women of the household, seducing them and playing them off against each other (personally I’d have liked to see him have a crack at the fey Sonny as well) – and it could be argued there’s a misogynistic agenda here, the female-dominated family perverted through lack of a father figure and the new friend putting things back how they should be.  But the film’s strongest (and deadliest) character turns out to be Girly.  Vanessa Howard’s compelling performance regularly shifts from wide-eyed innocent to naughty schoolgirl to self-assured young woman, and her response to the new friend’s reassurances after he’s taken her virginity (he assumes) is to coldly spit “don’t be so bloody naïve” – a jolting moment that brings the whole nature of what’s really going on in that house into question.  It’s never clear quite who has the upper hand in their relationship, and the film’s ending preserves the ambiguity.

Freddie Francis’s career as a director is to say the least a bit uneven, but Girly’s one of its highlights.  The film’s scenes of violence are few, but Francis makes these literalising of children’s games startling and highly effective (especially the “Tony Chestnut” scene – you’ll see what I mean).  I haven’t read Maisie Mosco’s play Happy Family, which the film was based on (I don’t think it’s ever been published in book form) so I don’t know how much the film differs from it (though I’d guess that it ups the violence a bit), but the screenplay by Brian Comport is packed with grim humour, whether his own or Mosco’s.

One of the strangest things about the film is how oddly hip the family’s little world now looks, with its broken dolls and twee Edwardiana (the work of art director Maggie Pinhorn and set decorator Dimity Collins – brilliant names, the pair of them).  Mumsy and Girly’s wardrobes both look pretty trendy now as well, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see either of them swanning around the streets of Brighton  (but with a few more tattoos).

Review by Ivan Kirby

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