Monday, 29 August 2011

Emma Peel and the case of the fake moustache (FrightFest 2011 Part 1)

WARNING: The following blog contains frequent and intense use of alliteration that some readers may find upsetting. You are therefore strongly advised to reasonably refrain from reading this recent review. Thank you.   
As I start to type this dear reader, FrightFest 2011 will be well into its fourth day of five of fearsome fantastic fare at the Empire Leicester Square. I attended this festival of ferocious filmic fun for three days this year. During this gloriously, gory, gallows-humoured laden time I gorged myself on numerous new horrendously horrible highlights heralding from the UK and the rest of the planet. 

From its modest beginnings back in 2000 this festival has grown in both size and reputation and is now the biggest event of its kind in the UK. From the relatively humble beginnings at the Prince Charles Cinema off Leicester Square, to the Odeon West End on the square where it in turn progressed from the 500 seater screen to its 800 seat bigger brother downstairs and then ultimately in 2009 moving into the prestigious Empire Leicester Square. It cannot be underestimated what a delicious delight it is for both the eyes and ears to be able to watch horror films on such a magnificent expanse of screen (25 ft high and 60ft wide) in pin-sharp definition with booming sound. How so dear reader? Well my friend, in comparison, back in the grim and dark 80’s we were sat at home on our sofas screwing up our eyes (literally) trying to discern what (allegedly) diabolical moral challenging shenanigans were being portrayed through the wobbly tracking, snowy grain, garbled squelchy sound and squashed pan and scanned images from our fifth-generation dodgy VHS copies of the so-called ‘video nasties’.  Of course nowadays the internet can provide the dedicated horror aficionado with downloads of practically anything – legal or otherwise (or so I’m led to believe dear reader), but nothing compares with the collective experience of sharing FrightFest’s delightfully dreadful cinematic pleasures with an auditorium crammed full of fellow fear fan boys and girls, together with a generous sprinkling of actors, directors, producers and technicians thrown in for good measure. Unless, that is, they constantly nip to the toilets during the film, instigating unwelcome impromptu Mexican waves from their unfortunate row sharing neighbours... (cont'd...

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Time for Tubby bye bye's...

I used to be given chocolate bars from a fat cinema usherette nicknamed ‘Tubby’.
There, I’ve said it, and now that it’s out in the open I feel much much better, so can we move on now please? Look it was a long time ago, I was probably only 2 or 3, and it’s not like my parents weren’t with me at the time. Must I explain myself further? Ok, for the sake of closure, ‘Tubby’ was a barrel-tummied man with brylcreemed thinning hair and a kindly disposition, who worked at the Biograph cinema in Wilton Road in Victoria. Often, when passing by with my parents (we lived literally around the corner in Gillingham Street) I would regularly be presented with a bar of confectionery whilst ma and pa would converse with my chubby chocolate benefactor. About what they would chat I couldn’t say, I was probably far too busy munching on my cocoa gift to care. What became of ‘Tubby’ (his real name will remain a mystery for ever more I’m afraid), I know not, but the cinema he presided in front of was demolished in August 1983. I don’t recall ever actually entering that particular palace of delights; however that may not have been such a bad thing given that it went on to become an establishment largely frequented by men looking to entertain each other rather than by whatever happened to be flickering across the silver screen before them. (Apparently the queue for the gent’s toilets was consistently long throughout most screenings). Did ‘Tubby’ still preside over the Biograph during it’s rather notorious final few years – I really cannot say – but to me he will always have a special place in my early childhood memories as ‘Tubby’ the chocolate giver.
As for the cinema he ushered for, the site is now a rather swanky, utterly soulless hotel. Incidentally, the B+B my parents ran just around the corner in Gillingham Street, The Albion, would itself go on to acquire a modicum of notoriety itself thanks to a certain ex-politician / popular author and his (alleged) dalliance with a lady of easily purchased virtue. (Of course this took place well after we’d left this establishment you understand; we would never have tolerated such lurid behaviour on our watch.)
Right dear reader, I must leave you here as I’m off to FrightFest at the Empire Leicester Square tomorrow to gorge myself (not on chocolate from rotund usherettes) but instead on the latest horror films from around the world. We shall resume these little soirees as soon as I return. I think for out next outing we’ll head up to the West End and see what’s playing there....
Till then, take care, and remember – never, ever, accept sweets from strangers.