kickstarter-support icons-03 icons-02 icons-01 MM Logo

blog

Movie news, reviews, features and more thoughts coming soon...

By midlandsmovies, Aug 8 2017 09:41AM



Flatpack presents - Dudley Castle After Dark: An American Werewolf in Dudley


John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London brought packs of film fans out to a special screening of the highly influential horror-comedy.


Unlike last year's Bride of Frankenstein screening, the surrounding animals in Dudley Zoological Gardens were ominously quiet throughout. Perhaps with the werewolf in town, they were worried about their place on the food chain. Perhaps not. Although in recompense, there was a baby somewhere screaming with a mixture of terror and tiredness.


The evening opened with Howl, an eerie animated short detailing a true enfant terrible in the shape of a werewolf toddler. This was fittingly followed by the full length video for Michael Jackson's Thriller vanity project. Directed by John Landis after The King of Pop saw An American Werewolf in London, its balance of laughs, scares and nostalgia set the tone perfectly for the main feature.



After a personalised video greeting by the director himself ("On the way home, stay on the road"), we were straight onto the Moors. We join two American tourists as they walk into The Slaughtered Lamb, a pub which the residents of The Wicker Man’s Summerisle would probably regard as “a bit rough.” A swift exit sees them stranded in the back end of beyond, with something creepy closing in...


The film itself sees Rick Baker's 36 year old practical effects still looking surprisingly impressive on the big screen, no doubt holding up better than the many CGI efforts that have followed it. Besides the ground-breaking transformation of David (David Naughton), there's true horror to be found in the lycanthropic mauling and subsequent undead appearances of Jack (Griffin Dunne).


There are also genuine laughs to be had, as Jack’s incarnations become increasingly comical and gruesome throughout. The camaraderie between the male leads is infectious and the humour still stands up in front of a modern audience. Having said that the downbeat ending is still a shock to the system, but how could it all end happily?


After the moon rose and the darkness fell, projected pentagrams and candle flames crept along the castle walls, creating a sinister setting for the leaving audience. Such details, alongside Landis’ intro, thoughtful shorts and an inspired film selection, has seen Flatpack’s ‘Dudley Castle after Dark’ become an unmissable event in the Midlands' movie calendar.


Robb Sheppard


twitter.com/RedBezzle

By midlandsmovies, Aug 8 2016 05:54PM

Dudley Castle After Dark: The Bride of Frankenstein




The wind carried with it blood-curdling screams, an overwhelming feeling of terror hung heavily and nefarious figures lurked within the shadows; and that was just the walk through Dudley Town Centre.


The introduction to this article, much like the event itself, shouldn’t be taken so seriously. Ever the cynic, I anticipated a barrage of beard-stroking and discussions regarding aspect ratio upon entering Dudley Castle, the site of Flatpack Film Festival’s latest open air screening. Although I’m partial to beard-stroking, I was pleased to see people hiking up the hill to the castle itself, each step building anticipation and without a care about Academy ratio. Instead, I overheard fathers making their children laugh, talking about terrible Frankenstein remakes of the 80’s and for a moment, I thought I had something in my eye.


In any case, open air screenings such as this often have very little in common with their surroundings (Frozen, mid-August in Merry Hill car park, anyone?) but it’s an opportunity that Flatpack took full advantage of here. My opinion of Dudley Castle and Zoo had been shaped by an online comment regarding “deranged monkeys and a bald lion”, but this visit proved to me that, yes, Facebook can, on occasion, get it wrong. Having passed the Common Ravens and the less fear-inducing, more aww-inducing Meerkats, visitors were greeted by the film’s score, echoing in the entrance hall. As show time crept closer and night fell, the peacock calls and projections added to the ominous atmosphere, with ‘KARLOFF’ emblazoned across the ruins and Doctor Pretorius’ image keeping watch over the crowd.


As with any good show, the crowd is as important as the entertainment and initial fears about elitist film fans and the associated snobbery were instantly dispelled. Dudley director James Whale’s film was playing to his home crowd here and the laughter was firmly with fondness. Una O’Connor’s Minnie got the biggest laughs with her ‘cock-er-ney’ delivery and amped-up outrage whilst Karloff necking wine and chomping on a cigar came close to drawing a “cheers” from the crowd. The Bride… has aged remarkably well in its eighty-something years, most notably in the reveal of Doctor Pretorius’ mini-human experiments, a special effect that is truly worthy of the name and shames countless recent CGI efforts from, oh, I don’t know, let’s just say Zack Snyder.


It was when Henry Frankenstein and Doctor Pretorius relocated to the tower laboratory that it was not only The Bride herself that came alive. The panoramic ruins of the castle provided a perfect backdrop to the film’s climax which, thanks to Michael Pigott, Mark Rhodes and David Checkley, felt more immersive than any IMAX. Their innovative approach to individual projections saw bolts of lightning illuminate the screen, only to then repeat around the ruins that surrounded the crowd, signalling the arrival of The Bride.


The atmosphere upon leaving the castle was how the aftermath of every film should feel: brimming with excitement, alive with camaraderie and wondering when you can experience it all again. Perhaps these are out-dated and naïve notions but to put it into context, on the way out, no one even noticed there was a lure module active on the Pokestop.


Flatpack Film Takeover at Sandwell Arts Festival takes place at West Bromich Town Hall on 13th August with further details here: http://flatpackfestival.org.uk/event/flatpack-film-takeover


Robb Sheppard




Main photo is copyright of Katja Ogrin



RSS Feed twitter