Too many films to talk about

You may have noticed a lack of podcast last week – unfortunately we’ve just been too darn busy to record one recently, what with work commitments and frantic Christmas preparations. On top of that, we’ve been going to a heck of a lot of screenings recently – for once, we’ve actually been too busy watching films to find time to talk about them.

I blame the BFI. They’re currently hosting the BFI Gothic season, which has seen a slew of brilliant horror films brought back to the big screen, and we’ve been eagerly watching as many as we can. Last month we saw Cat People, Nosferatu (the excellent Werner Herzog remake), Night of the Eagle (starring the fantastic Peter Wyngarde), The Pit and the Pendulum (Vincent Price as his eye-boggling best) and the German silent classic The Cabinet of Dr Caligari. I also managed to see Vincent Price in Dr Phibes Rises Again with an introduction by 101 Films favourite Kim Newman, and it has rapidly risen to become one of the best films I’ve seen all year. If anyone wants to get me its (apparently even better) prequel, The Abominable Dr Phibes, for Christmas then by all means do.

We also managed to hike to the IMAX to watch Gravity, which looked sensational: it’s the only 3D film I’ve seen since Avatar that actually justifies the use of 3D. Not sure how good it will be on the small screen though… and it’s worth taking some of the science with a pinch of salt. And speaking of big-screen epics, we also managed to catch Gone With The Wind the other week. Neither of us had seen it before, and we were both more than trepidatious about the four-hour run time, seeing as overly long movies are a personal bugbear of ours. Thankfully, and to our relief, it turned out to be fantastic (although to be honest it only really starts getting good after Clark Gable turns up 20 minutes in). Oh, and speaking of Vivien Leigh films, I also went to see A Streetcar Named Desire, which was phenomenally good, and possibly worthy of a podcast sometime soon. Watch this space.

It doesn’t end there: a couple of weeks ago we went to see Ghostwatch, which is a brilliant but almost forgotten BBC One drama from 1992 that mixed reality TV with the supernatural way before Dead Set and its ilk hit our screens. As an added bonus, the director and cast – including Michael Parkinson – turned up for a panel discussion at the end, which proved very illuminating, and also made me wish Parkie was on the TV more these days (and it furthermore provided the revelation that his friends call him Parkie too). Then the other week we saw Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, a decidedly mixed bag of 1970s horror shorts that was worth watching simply for the spectacle of seeing Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Roy Castle, Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman and Donald Sutherland share a train carriage, which is every bit as brilliant as it sounds.

Finally, last weekend we popped back to the BFI again for a double bill of Blood on Satan’s Claw and Witchfinder General. Satan’s Claw was wonderfully shot and created a very believeable version of the 17th century countryside, but it barely held together as a film, with lots of twists and turns that didn’t altogether make sense. Witchfinder General was better, with Vincent Price on chilling form, far from his later camp portrayal of Dr Phibes. The film was every bit as “grim and unrelenting” as the reviews promised, and after the violent climax, my shocked two-word review to Ian was simply: “F***ing hell.”

On a lighter note though, before the screening we managed to stumble across a premiere. On entering the BFI, we were surprised to pass Caitlin Moran and Stephen Moffat on the stairs, then we were confused as to why there was a throng of teenaged girls hanging around in the foyer. We threaded our way through them towards the cinema entrance, only to find ourselves alone in a corridor that was deserted save for a lone security guard bearing down on us. We looked round and quickly realised we were standing downwind of Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch giving interviews to the press – it turned out that the premiere of the new Sherlock Holmes series was being held that very afternoon.

Oh, and we also saw Griff Rhys Jones in Eat. The glamour of London Town.

Anyway, as you can tell, there’s been little time for podcasts recently, but we should be back with a podcast just before Christmas – we’ve got a slightly different Christmas special planned for this year… See you next week!

Come. It is time to keep your appointment with the Wicker Man.

Wicker-Man-Final-Cut-PosterIn the second of our Halloween horror podcasts, we look at The Wicker Man: The Final Cut, a newly restored version of the classic 1973 British film. We’ve slightly bent the rules this time around – usually we only review films that either one or both of us hasn’t seen before, but we’ve actually both seen The Wicker Man – several times in fact. However, this is a brand new version of the movie – The Final Cut – in which the whole film has been restored from a new-found print and director Robin Hardy has chopped out some scenes and inserted others. So neither of us had seen this version of the film before, which means we can include it on the list.

Hey, don’t give us that look, it’s our podcast, we can do what we like!

Anyway, Ian was lucky enough to see this at a screening a couple of months back, and I managed to get tickets for the premiere at the British Film Institute, which was a brilliant evening for a number of reasons. Mostly because Robin Hardy was there doing a Q&A after the film, and he very nearly rivalled the late, great Michael Winner in terms of anecdotes and bon mots, but also because of a certain incident in the foyer just before I went in. I won’t spoil it for you – just listen to the podcast.

To be honest, we both struggled a bit to work out what parts had been changed in the film compared to the ‘Director’s Cut’ version a few years back. The most obvious change was the removal of the scenes with Sergeant Howie on the mainland at the beginning, which Robin Hardy notes were superfluous, and I tend to agree with him. I’m fairly sure that Britt Ekland’s famous dance routine has been pushed back to the second night in the film as well, and we also get to see some copulating snails, for what it’s worth. Most importantly though, this new version of the film looks fantastic – a vast improvement over the previous one, which was patched together from various prints and VHS copies.

If you’ve never seen The Wicker Man, you’re in for a treat. It’s a bizarre, enticing film that draws you in with its weird, sometimes funny depiction of life on a remote Scottish island before knocking you down with a sensational ending. Famously, it’s almost impossible to categorise: perhaps the closest you could get is a comedy-musical whodunnit with a hint of horror. Whatever it is, it’s unmissable.

The Wicker Man: The Final Cut is in cinemas now and is released on Blu-ray on 14th October – you can buy the Blu-ray from Amazon by clicking here (and we get a little bit of cash if you do – thanks in advance).

Last but not least, our Secret Sponsor for this week is Careless Whispers Podcast. They are on Twitter but they, um, haven’t actually tweeted yet so I suggest you take a look at their Facebook page.

Anyway, without further ado, let us present our feature presentation:

Click here to download and listen on your MP3 player of choice:

101 Films Podcast 066 – The Wicker Man The Final Cut

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Director: Robin Hardy Year of release: 1973/2013 Studio/Distributor: British Lion/StudioCanal Country: UK