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The James Herbert Award

The James Herbert Award

Kim’s novel An English Ghost Story has been nominated for a James Herbert Award. Continue reading

On the web

  • I've recently watched a German DVD release of assorted Holmes materials - unsubtitled, but easy to follow. You'll already have the BFI's release of the Douglas Wilmer Sherlock Holmes on order; the German TV series uses the same scripts, so you can watched paired episodes and improve your language skills (one episode missing in English survives in German). Also included are a German language version of Terence Fisher's Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace which looks a lot better than the bleary grey US release, and a 1966 TV movie about the Edalji case which has the same plot as the forthcoming UK TV miniseries Arthur and George.
  • My Sight & Sound review of It Follows is online.
  • My Screen Daily review of [REC]4 is online.
  • My Empire review of It Follows is online.
  • My Sight & Sound review of The Duke of Burgundy is online.
  • I saw the 1921 British version of The Hound of the Baskervilles at the Barbican, with live piano accompaniment from Neil Brand. Here are my notes on the film - caution: reveals whodunit. Eille Norwood has the distinction of being the only one of a multitude of silent screen Sherlocks to own the role the way the likes of Rathbone, Brett or Cumberbatch did – eclipsing other contemporary portrayals and becoming the default Holmes for a generation. William Gillette and John Barrymore were bigger stars, but one was recreating his stage hit and the other crammed a Sherlock into a much more complicated screen career – and both drew on Gillette’s play, which should really be seen as the first Holmes pastiche and attempt to add in elements Doyle didn’t include in his originals, rather than the original stories. Norwood and his preferred Watson (Hubert Willis) appeared in three series of short films based on the stories and Norwood starred in two feature films, based on The Hound of the Baskervilles (with the grey, dignified, unmoustached Willis) and The Sign of Four (with the younger Arthur Cullin stepping in to do the romance). Norwood got the Doyle seal of approval and his performance is sincere, focused and respectful – plus he has the proper beaky nose and casts a striking silhouette, whether seen from a distance on the moors (played by the real Dartmoor, which has rarely been done) or in shadow over a shot of a witness telling his story (one of director Maurice Elvey’s striking touches). As with all Holmes films until 1939, the assumption is that the story takes place in the present – with a motorised bus trundling out to Baskerville Hall and Beryl (Catina Campbell) in bobbed hair and a beret among so many tweedy or stiff-collared men. The story is slimmed down but done straight, which means that Norwood is offscreen for a long stretch while Watson is supposedly handling the sleuthing – indeed, Watson gets to shoot the dog here, while Holmes is off having a fistfight with Stapleton (Lewis Gilbert) in the mire. It seems that screenwriters William J. Elliott and Dorothy Westlake took it that everyone had read the twenty-year-old novel and don’t bother much with concealing the villain’s identity – he’s seen in a false beard spying on 221B Baker St as Dr Mortimer (Allan Jeayes) and Sir Henry (Rex McDougall) consult Holmes and his lookalike portrait as wicked Sir Hugo is prominently displayed. Most screen Stapletons are exaggeratedly decent chaps in their early scenes, a tipoff as to their ultimate guilt, but Gilbert plays him like a glowering brute of the sort often seen in films of this vintage – it’s not his scheming for the inheritance that makes us hate him, but that he beats up, knocks down and ties up his ‘sister’ (actually wife). Beryl is given some Pearl White-style escaping to do – burning the bonds with a knocked-over candle, tying the sheets into a rope. Barrymore (Fred Raynham), the butler, skulks in sinister fashion and signals to the doomed convict, who is his brother rather than brother-in-law here, but takes part in the rescue of Sir Henry from the dog, which is given an optical glow which comes and goes in the print I saw. In contrast with Rathbone, who celebrates the solution of the case by demanding ‘the needle’, Norwood signs off by asking for a ‘whiskey and soda’. It’s too swift to be as atmospheric as it might be – the Dartmoor locations, augmented by a prop monolith, could have done with more exploring – but it does rattle along, proving this one of the most indestructible of all stories. Mme d’Esterre, the official Mrs Hudson of the series, appears briefly.
  • My Screen Daily review of The Treatment is online.
  • My Screen Daily review of 88 is online.
  • My Screen Daily review of Stonehearst Asylum (previously Eliza Graves) is online.
  • My review of Predestination is online.
  • My Empire review of Coherence is online.
  • My review of Jupiter Ascending is posted online.
  • My tiny Empire review of the British found footage film The Rendlesham UFO Incident is online.
  • My Empire review of The Duke of Burgundy is online.
  • My Empire review of Son of a Gun is online.
  • ... here I am introducing a Mario Bava double bill on BBC2's much-missed Moviedrome strand in 1990.
  • I've written an essay which appears among the extras on Eureka's BluRay/DVD release of Bill Gunn's movie Ganja & Hess.
  • ... I've contributed an article to the Guardian's Whiplash special. I also researched this insults list and helped devise this which-mentor-are-you quiz.
  • The story of the Reverend Henry James Prince.  Features a footnote including me.
  • At the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre in London currently you can visit the Hidden House - an immersive haunted house experience based on the Grimm Fairy Tales, and created by Unlocked Vision. Kim and some of his chums went along last week and were suitably terrified by the creepy house and its spooky residents. If you'd like to win two tickets into the ghoulish mansion, then suggest a caption to the photograph featured below. The best entry by 6pm on Tuesday, 23 December will nab the prize. Leave your suggestions in the comments. The Hidden House will be open for brave explorers until 4 January 2015 - a perfect antidote for Christmas cheer.
  • ... is posted at the Wickergirl site.
  • Look, up in the sky ... Simon Taylor's short film, Umbermensch!, based on my short story, is online.
  • My Screen Daily review of The Pyramid is online.
  • My Empire review of Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmaster is online.
  • I've written a piece on the British s-f films Invasion and Unearthly Stranger, available in Network's British Film Collection.
  • My Empire review of Monsters Dark Continent is online.
  • I shall be interviewed by Barry Forshaw at the Barbican Library on December 1st.  Do come ...
  • My 1990 horror novel Bad Dreams will shortly be reissued by Titan Books, with extras that include my hard-to-find novel Bloody Students (previously published as Orgy of the Blood Parasites, as by Jack Yeovil) and an afterword about how the books came to be written, explaining the involvement of Neil Gaiman, Phil Nutman, Stefan Jaworzyn, Norman J. Warren and Richard Gordon.  The cover is another splendid Martin Stiff/Amazing 15 creation. It can be pre-ordered from Amazon UK and Amazon US.  
  • I'll be chatting with screenwriter David McGillivray at the screening of Pete Walker's Catholic-themed shocker House of Mortal Sin at the Barbican this Saturday at 4.00.  
  • My brief Empire review of The Remaining is online.
  • Sterling work by Lee Moyer.
  • ... between me and Matthew O'Donoghue is posted at the Waterstones Blog.
  • ... is posted on the Dutch Girl in London site.
  • My Screen Daily review of Future Shock The Story of 2000AD is online.
  • My Empire review of The Vicious Brothers' Extraterrestrial is online.
  • I shall be signing An English Ghost Story and BFI Film Classics Quatermass and the Pit at 1.00 today at Forbidden Planet (London) as part of a large Hallowe'en signing.  Please come along ...
  • I'll be giving a talk about the great TV writer Nigel Kneale at the BFI Southbank this Sunday the 26th, after a showing of the rarely-screened 1965 production of his adaptation of 1984.  I'll also be signing copies of my BFI Film Classics book on Quatermass and the Pit.  Details here and here.  
  • I've contributed an essay on aliens ('Unearthly Strangers') to this book, edited by James Bell, which is published to tie in with the current BFI science fiction season.  It can be ordered from Amazon and the BFI online shop.
  • My Empire review of the outstanding Australian horror movie The Babadook is online.
  • ... by Lucy Walton-Lange is posted on Female First.
  • My Empire review of Annabelle is online.
  • My Screen Daily review of Monsters Dark Continent is online.
  • ... an article by me, up on Huffington Post.
  • ... posted on io9.
  • You can pre-order from London Forbidden Planet in advance of a mass Hallowe'en signing event I'm at on October 25th.  You can pre-order my BFI Quatermass and the Pit book at the same time!
  • ... here's the cover for the collected edition of the comic miniseries from Dark Horse.  The art is by Hellboy/Witchfinder creator Mike Mignola.  The book will be out next year.
  • ... is available via Dread Central.
  • My Screen Daily review of Dracula Untold is online.  And here's a shorter Dracula Untold notice for Empire.
  • My Empire review of The Equalizer is online.
Kim

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