Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The Stranger Within (1974) - TV Movie

Country: USA

Original Transmission Date - 01/10/1974

Whilst Richard Matheson is still chiefly known for his novel I am Legend (1954) and the ensuing film adaptations of it that followed in 1964, 1971, and 2007, and for his screenwriting work for cinema in the 1960s (highlights include House of Usher [1960], Night of the Eagle [1962], The Raven [1963] and The Devil Rides Out [1968] his work for American network television in the 1970’s remains as equally interesting, in spite of the relative lack of column inches it receives. This lack of attention may be due to the fact that a number of his teleplays were overshadowed by the men who directed and/or produced the movies. Duel (1971) for example is rarely discussed as a Richard Matheson film despite the fact that he wrote the teleplay and the short story it was based on. Film scholarship has chosen to make Steven Spielberg the main man. His teleplays The Night Stalker (1972), The Night Strangler (1973), Scream of the Wolf (1974), Dracula (1974), Trilogy of Terror (1975), and Dead of Night (1977) were all presided over by director/producer Dan Curtis. For some Curtis is an ‘auteur’, and the films previously mentioned are almost always discussed as part of his oeuvre rather than Matheson’s. In my opinion it is Matheson’s world view that informs these productions, and this state of affairs only goes to highlight an institutional and scholarly lack when it comes too appreciating the contribution of the screenwriter.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Poster Gallery - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) / 2010: The Year We Make Contact (1984)

US POSTER - This artwork or variants of it  was also utlised in Italian, Danish, Japanese, Australian, Greek, Spanish, Yugolsavian, West German, French and Swedish promotional campaigns. 

US POSTER #2 - This artwork or variants of it was also utilised in British and Spanish promotional campaigns. 



Monday, 29 July 2013

A Ghost Story for Christmas - The Stalls of Barchester (1971)


Original Broadcast Date - 24/12/1971

The chilling short story The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral first appeared in M. R. James’ 1911 collection More Ghost Stories, and was chosen by writer/producer/director Lawrence Gordon Clark as the curtain raiser to what would become eight consecutive ghost stories broadcast by the BBC at Christmas between 1971 and 1978. The path had already been trod to some degree by Jonathan Miller, who had written and directed an adaptation of James’ Whistle and I’ll Come to You, in 1968, for the BBC’s Omnibus. Such is the success of Miller’s effort that it is often erroneously considered a part of the A Ghost Story for Christmas series. Although The Stalls of Barchester does not quite reach the heights of its predecessor (which benefits tremendously from its monochrome palette and the beautifully observed performance of Michael Horden) it does have numerous merits of its own. The muted and purposefully under lit cinematography of John McGlashan for example offers an indication that the filmmakers were thinking with black and white in mind, though the delicate candle lit study of Archdeacon Haynes (Robert Hardy), his bedroom, and the eerie cloisters of Barchester Cathedral generates its own peculiar atmosphere of unease. Clark utilises off screen space particularly well, with the menacing visitations of something supernatural existing at the extreme periphery of the frame, and only emerging in the briefest glimpses of a black cat, and most disturbingly of all, a grey lifeless hand with frighteningly sharp talons.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

The Ray Bradbury Theater - Season 1 (1985-86)

The 1980’s was an excellent time for enthusiasts of the anthology format on television. I can certainly count myself as one of those, as my total inability to follow an ongoing narrative over twelve or possibly twenty four episodes testifies. It’s hard to pinpoint where this renewed interest began; perhaps it was the big screen success of such films as Creepshow (1982) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983).  Certainly the latter would have been instrumental in the resurrection of The Twilight Zone (1985-89), and the former might have played a large part in George A. Romero’s thinking when he set up Tales from the Darkside (1984-88). In addition to The Twilight Zone in colour, we also got to see a re-colourised Alfred Hitchcock introduce a whole new batch of episodes as Alfred Hitchcock Present (1985-89) made a return. Other anthology shows that took their bow in the 1980’s included Amazing Stories (1985-87), The Hitchhiker (1983-91), Monsters (1988-91), Tales from the Crypt (1989-96),  Hammer House of Horror (1980), Freddy’s Nightmares (1988-90) and Friday the 13th – The Series (1987-90) to name but a few.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Famous Monsters - The Film Art of Basil Gogos

Here at The Celluloid Highway I do my level best to celebrate some of the finer promotional materials used in the selling of films I consider interesting. My abiding interest is not in unimaginatively photo-shopped or blandly airbrushed posters, but in posters that employ the skills of artists. Naturally this bias is weighed heavily towards materials produced from the 1950's to the late 1980's, the period afterward has become an arid creative wasteland, only occasionally lessened by an all too rare moment of inspired film artwork. The various journals and magazines published from the 1950's to the late 1980's are an important part of the promotional machine. Although often the work of dedicated fans and enthusiasts, these works feed into the images we come to associate with certain movies and certain genres. One of the key artists working in this field during the period under discussion was the Egyptian born Greek Basil Gogos. His wonderful efforts adorned the covers of numerous editions of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Creepy, Eerie, Spaceman, and Wildest Westerns, and many film posters from the period. I don't own a single copy of any of these magazines; I've never really been much of a magazine of fanzine purchaser. But my appreciation and admiration of the artistic efforts involved in their production will never diminish. So without further ado I invite you on a slightly different journey than normal...into the monstrous art of Basil Gogos!

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