Doctor Who and the Daemons director Christopher Barry has sadly passed away. He famously helped introduce the world to the Daleks, but Daemons is my all-time favourite of the Time Lord’s adventures. Yes, I cleaved to a fuzzy, fifth generation VHS copy from many years (much of it in b/w). And yes, like many of ‘a certain age’, I devoured the Target novelisation. The BBC website posted a lovely obituary of this amazing, talented man – aside from his outstanding contributions to Dr Who, Mr Barry also helmed The Tripods (another childhood fave of mine) and many more.
Christopher Barry, I salute you – with five rounds, rapid.
The world is also a lesser place for the loss of filmmaker extraordinaire Alain Resnais. His Last Year in Marienbad has haunted me for years, and continues to do so. It was lovely to see his life and work so celebrated in memoriam this week. ‘Innovative and unusual’ just about nails it:
And while I was composing this blog entry, I was saddened to hear about the death of Selim Lemouchi. Frontman of one of my favourite bands The Devil’s Blood (and later of Selim Lemouchi and His Enemies), he was a fiercely talented musician who passed far too soon, aged 33.
I’ll leave it to Selim (with his sister Farida on vocals) to roll credits on these three blazing stars, who will all be missed by any who knew, or knew of, them.
Check out Fresh Fiction’s review to discover why:
(review by Amber Keller, 22 January 2014)
I really fell in love with the ghost stories of M. R. James while lurking in a sentry box, dressed as a Victorian serial killer (they wore top hats apparently), ready to jump out on unsuspecting tourists with an exclamation of “tickets please!”
Let me explain.
I worked weekends at The London Dungeon to help pay my way through college in the early 90s. To pass the time during each shift i sometimes listened to audiobooks, sneakily hiding my headphones beneath my costume. These were the days of books-on-tape, or cassettes (which, to explain to younger readers, were like mp3 files stretched across two reels of dental tape and listened to via an iPod device the size of a house brick). One of the audiobooks was a collection of M. R. James tales read by Michael Hordern. I had read a couple of James’ classics and knew i was in for a flesh-creeping time – and then i heard “The Ash Tree”. By the gods my heart nearly stopped in my chest at that one and for once it was me who got a fright when the tourists came asking for directions.
I then discovered the telly adaptations of some of James’ tales, presented by the BBC each Christmas. The tradition continued into the new millenium with a series of Christopher Lee-narrated adaptations, which i enjoyed during Christmas hols in the wilds of Ireland. And of course just last month, Mark Gatiss made his directorial debut with his fun, Hammer-esque M. R. James adaptation “The Tractate Middoth”.
But the one that got to me the most was “Whistle…” And to my delight, Father Christmas (or perhaps his pal Krampus) left a copy of the BFI’s double bill dvd “Whistle and I’ll Come to You” under the tree for me this year. The disc includes both the 1968 and 2010 versions, plus extras featuring contemporary master of the macabre, Ramsey Campbell. I’ve seen both versions before of course – and both are beloved to me in different ways. I think one exploits shaky denial in the face of fear and the other channels total, harrowing despair. If you haven’t seen them, do seek them out. But (ahem) a warning to the curious… both are utterly disturbing in the true spirit of James’ original short story “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You My Lad” (also included in audio form as a nice bonus on the dvd – now all i need is a draughty sentry box. The garden shed will have to do).
Here’s to the traditional festive ghost story – long may they continue to scratch at our windowpanes, rattle our doors.
And tangle with our bedsheets.
Happy Horrordays y’all!
And it just wouldn’t be that time of the year without the Christopher Lee Christmas Message.
Take it away Sir Christopher of Lee!
Here’s to a stonking 2014.
Pssst! Wanna win some ebooks?
All you have to do is post a photo caption (in the comments below this blog post).
Contest ends Friday the 13th December, so get posting!
(judge’s decision is final, no mince pie-based alternative to the prize can, or will, be offered)