Tuesday, 12 February 2019

REMEMBERED TODAY: ACTOR RALPH BATES



REMEMBERING: Born today in 1940, RALPH BATES. Sadly, no longer with us. A talented actor and a truly gentle and kind man. The great, great nephew of the renowned French scientist Louis Pasteur developed into a strangely handsome dark haired, pale complexioned English actor. Ralph Bates was born in 1940 in Bristol, England and attended the University of Dublin and studied at the Yale Drama School. His dramatic talents first came to audiences attention playing the evil Emperor Caligula in the well received BBC TV series The Caesars (1968). However, the Hammer studios resurrection of the horror genre was then in full stride, and Bates was soon engulfed in the swirling cloak of Hammer's success as he appeared in several horror films in quick succession.  


FIRSTLY in a support role as demonic Lord Courtley in Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970), followed as the lead character Baron Frankenstein in The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), then as Giles Barton in the sexy Lust for a Vampire (1971) and as the well meaning Dr. Jekyll in an unusual spin on the Robert Louis Stevenson story in Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (1971) and 'Fear in the Night' with Peter Cushing in 1972. Bates brought a new zest to Hammer and with his stylish dialogue delivery and film acting methods, he quickly won himself quite a few fans in both critics and regular film goers!


UNFORTUNATELY, by the early 1970s there had been a downturn in Hammer studios fortunes, and Bates then found himself turning to more traditional character work in other production houses and he appeared in several films before snaring other superb villainous role as George Warleggan in the 18th century period piece Poldark (1975). After Poldark, Bates himself kept busy in a few forgettable UK made TV shows and television film roles which did not really do justice to his remarkable talents. In the late 1980s his health rapidly deteriorated, and he sadly passed away from cancer aged only 51 on 27th March 1991.



Monday, 11 February 2019

WAS CHRISTOPHER LEE APPROACHED TO PLAY GRAND MOFF TARKIN IN 'STAR WARS : A NEW HOPE' ?


A DRIBBLE across the net and on several STAR WARS forums, is the fact or fiction that Christopher Lee was approached to play, Grand Moff Tarkin is the firs Star Wars movie. According to 'the source', 'Christopher Lee suggested Peter Cushing....!' Personally? I have no idea. Posting this story onto the FACEBOOK PCASUK FAN PAGE has prompted a mixed reaction today. What do you think?


ABOVE: One of the sources sharing the story is STARWARS_FIX 



Sunday, 10 February 2019

PC 'BUILDS UP' TO ANOTHER GREAT TELEVISION PERFORMANCE FOR ORSON WITH NETWORK DVD


RELEASED TOMORROW 'Orson Welles Great Mysteries' and along with a feast of other great names and casts, Peter Cushing stars with Susannah York in 'La Grande Breteche' ... Cushing gives us a top notch 'sly and cruel' performance. 


NO MERCY IN THIS CUSHING ROLE, for sure. But it is wonderful to see this very cool TV series from the 1970's. Network has a done a very good job in presenting the series, just as it was seen back in the day.  


SHOT ON 'EARLY DAYS' VIDEO, with some film inserts, it is, what it is. Anyone who is familiar with the visual quality of Anglia TV's early 'Tales of the Unexpected' or some of the Cushing's BBC Sherlock episodes, will be aware of where studio television production and editing was at, during this time. If you are familiar too with the quality of the BBC 1970's classic, 'I, Claudius', you'll know there was little room for tone and shadows, early TV video cameras, needed light. But that doesn't spoil or take anything away from what we are watching here. In this first Volume from Network..let us hope there will be a second...it's the performances, the drama and tension that is worth every penny!


SOME REVIEWERS, will have already received their copies and maybe some of you too? I would love to hear any opinions you may have on this much awaited for TV classic!

Saturday, 9 February 2019

FELLOWSHIP, FRIENDS AND ONE FOR ONE LAST TIME!


#CHRISTOPHERLEE Saturday! Here's just four, of some of my favorite 'with friends' photographs of Christopher Lee. Three taken during the last ten years of Lee's life, he was still working, being very social and having a ball! It was great to see his face so often in newspapers and magazines, enjoying the fuss and the deserved praise he had worked so long and hard for...




HERE IS THE WHOLE ONE LAST TIME PLAYLIST  at the PCASUK YOUTUBE CHANNEL, which contains every clip of our EXCLUSIVE video library of the last time, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee met together. Candid, funny and emotional. MORE clips to come soon! ALL HERE! BELOW A SAMPLE CLIP from the whole series.😀




Friday, 8 February 2019

HORROR EXPRESS: DOES ARROW HIT THE TARGET WITH REMASTERED BLU RAY


'HORROR EXPRESS' is not unlike a 57 variety soup all in one tin. Explain? Many moons ago when a full time student and living in an abode that could have easily have fallen off the cinema screen during a showing of 'Withnail', the day would eventually arrive when the cupboard was bare for all us seven 'vegetarian' students, bare of all atrractive and palatable nash nosh, and every bean, pluse, rice and dried vegtable would be boiled up in the contents of what we called, 'TSOATP' or 'THE SOUP OF A THOUSAND PLOTS' . .  most of us being media students, we compared each content to that of a movie plot line. 


THE POINT IS, where as most films have one, 'EXPRESS' has not only one plot, but several. Just as the film feels like it's following one direction, it throws in, another.. and another! There are lots of great ideas in this low budget Spanish horror, and each one has made it into the plot. It's not that it damages the film, far from it, it's these winds and bends that makes it very entertaining and never dull. If you are a Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee fan, you won't be a stranger to this film, if you have never seen the movie, I ain't going to add a damaging and de-railing SPOILER, that would no doubt ruin what is going to be for you, quite a unique 84 minute Cushing / Lee experience! But if you DO want more on the film, along with a gallery and plot, HERE IS THE PCAS FEATURE WITH ALL THAT AND MORE!



 
HERE IS THE NEWS: ARROW FILMS has a pulled off a very impressive transfer of 'Horror Express' and if you are a collector who has specific tastes to 'the lightness, the darkness, the contrast' of your purchases, I'll let you chew this one over, on your own. But for me personally, the picture quality looks very good indeed and WAY surpasses any other copy of the film I own from past purchases. This release has been restored to a very clear, clean and crisp 2K version from its original 35mm camera negative, and sits comfortably in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, plus the team at Arrow have carefully incorporated an additional 35mm interpositive element for the fifth reel, an appreciated and typical attention to detail that you would expect from Arrow!




IF YOU TOO own previous releases of 'EXPRESS' on dvd or blu ray, you'll notice, that the colours through out look natural, with no surprise out of step and colour continuity, of costumes and HAIR colours! As with many films of this era and budget, you would expect an element of grain, but this is pretty much levelled out and never looks really course, as it has on some version releases of the film. Shadows look very much like the quality of the Warner Brothers 'Dracula AD and Satanic Rites' remastered prints, it presents more refined detail than before, which is exactely what is needed for a film that gives us many scenes in the dark or shadows. Blacks are neither blotchy, have that annoying moving pixels element or are so dark you see nothing. Someone has taken great time and effort, to level out contrasts, to an even and impressive picture through out. 




HAVING WATCHED many releases of 'HORROR EXPRESS' over the years I am very very happy to tell you that, THIS remaster has nothing in the way of annoying drop outs and hisses. All of the my previous released versions, watched many times over the years, contained so many 'clicks, thuds and drops' that became almost like expected solo pieces of dialogue from unseen extra characters or old friends.... that even turned up like regular co stars in a tv soap, from one releaase to another! Thankfully, they are absent from Arrows remaster, which DOES come with optional subtitles in English SDH.  


ARROWS AUDIO is presented on an English mono LPCM track. There is one short piece of very minor distortion, see if you can spot it! This element I believe was damage caused during the dubbing of the film during production. For a mono soundtrack, from this age, the sound effects are good, dated but as good as Christopher Lee's DRACULA slamming a wooden door in the iconic 58' Hammer film.




THE SUPPLEMENTARY AND THESE DAYS EXPECTED EXTRAS for the Arrow films remaster include the compulsory audio commentary, this very enteraining and detailed yak track comes from  authors Stephen Jones and Kim Newman; there is also for those who want a little Fangoria stamp of approval in a optional 7-minute introduction to the film from Fangoria’s Chris Alexander; Ticket to Die, another 9-minute appreciation of the film by Steve Haberman; there's another chorus of approval, but with more weight from Night Train to Nowhere, which is a 15-minute appreciation of the film, but this time from producer Bernard Gordon by filmmaker Ted Newsom; Murder on the Trans-Siberian Express, a vintage 14-minute interview with director Eugenio Martin is probably the best of the bunch with BTS pics and stories of the cast and set; Notes From the Blacklist, a vintage 31-minute interview from 2005 with producer Bernard Gordon; Telly and Me, a vintage 8-minute interview with composer John Cacavas; the original theatrical trailer in HD; and a 32-page insert booklet with the essays Horror Express by Adam Scovell and Riding the Horror Express by Mike Hodges, as well as restoration. A rich bag of pickings, where Arrow has dug to find anything, that tries to make up for the problem that most releases face these days . . . little or no contribution material from Christopher Lee and nothing from Peter Cushing. I am sure any forum chats about this release will be littered with comparisons of the SEVERIN dvd and blu ray release.



IF FOR YEARS, YOU'VE BEEN stuck with a duff and sub-standard version of 'HORROR EXPRESS' buy your ticket and grab your copy now, of an exception remastering of a Cushing and Lee classic. It's all here and detail-wise, you'll be having hours of fun, visually spotting elements you could never have seen or spotted before. It really can not be  denied, this film has never looked or sounded better. Arrow has technically turned a well known and fan familiar terror train trip into what is a remastered, very SOUND and VISUALLY exciting, Monster hit Roller-Coaster ride! Well done, Arrow! 


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

REMEMBERED: SIR JAMES CARRERAS : 'EVERY POSTER CAN MAKE A MOVIE!'


REMEMBERING: Sir James Carreras, born today in 1909. Son of Enrique Carreras, the co-founder of Hammer Films and the Blue Hall theatre chain... and father of Hammer film producer and director, Michael Carreras. It was JC who hit on the formula of '..design a poster for a potential film, for the backers to actually see!' A simple but very effect method. It is said that he, '..judged the success of his films not by critical plaudits, but strictly on the basis of box office returns.' Maybe so, but for a long time his approached worked, making very large profits for the backers, giving Hammer films the Queens Award to Industry Award back in 1968 and a loyal fan base that remains to this day.

OVER AT THE FACEBOOK PCASUK FAN PAGE you can find TWO posts on Sir James Carreras birthday today, including a RARE interview form 1964! Also we are asking everyone, if the can NAME two of the people in the Carreras Birthday Banner above! Any ideas? 








HAMMER FILM DIRECTOR AND WRITER Jimmy Sangster, once said that' It doesn't matter that he is selling film, this man could sell baked beans, and his approach would be the same!' During Peter's career, his agent, John Redway would only on Peter's instructions, negotiate with Carreras. It was all based on contracts, but also the word and handshake of gentlemen. He is remembered each year by Variety: The Children's Charity, with The Sir James Carreras Award. '...This Award honors the name of Sir James Carreras MBE, who served Variety International with great distinction as one of its past International Presidents. It is presented annually to a physician who has demonstrated exceptional dedication and skill in the field of pediatrics'.







WELL DONE, SIR JAMES, you are remebered with respect and dignity having having archived a great deal and helped to leave us a huge legacy in the name of your charity work, and the status of Hammer films





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