Assault on the System: The Nonconformist Cinema of John Carpenter
Published by WK Books, 2020. 460 pages.
By Troy Howarth
The latest volume from our buddy Troy Howarth is on one of my favorite directors. Next to Romero, you’d find at least two John Carpenter’s films in my top 15 films of all time. So how could I not dive into this once I got it? Yes, Mr. Howarth is a friend of mine, full disclosure here, but I think you know me by now not to pull any punches, no matter what I’m reviewing. But honestly, I never have to worry about that with his books because they are always so enjoyable to read, always feeling like a conversation with an old friend. Filled with wonderful stories, great information, and just an easy-going way of telling us this information that it just sinks in.
After a couple of chapters introducing us to Carpenter, giving us his upbringing and background (which really shows the impact on his later life, with his love of film and music), we start to go over his film career. Starting off when he is in film school in California, we do get a lot of information about each of the projects, while Howarth throws in other information about other things that are going on at the same time. It doesn’t just cover the films he directed but the scripts that he wrote, as well as the films he almost made or was even the slightest involved with. It really does show the range that Carpenter had in the different projects that “could have been”. Continue reading →
Okay 2021… not a good way to start out. Not even a week in and now this? This one stings.
The news came out early yesterday that actress Barbara Shelley passed away. So many great roles. So many incredible performances. Where does one start? Obviously the work she did for Hammer are incredible, especially in Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966), giving duel performances going from an uptight wife to a seductive vampiress, to her role as Barbara in Quatermass and the Pit (1967), when she puts on the apparatus that lets her see visions of the past through these long (no-so) dead aliens. But no matter what film or the size of her role, she was always so memorable and such a joy to watch. She brought an elegance to whatever role she was playing, making her characters seem lifelike, relatable, and more importantly, believable. From her early genre appearances in Cat Girl (1957) and Blood of the Vampire (1958) to Village of the Damned (1960), to even her appearance on Doctor Who in the ’80s, it was also great to see her on screen. Continue reading →
Richard Klemensen has been putting out Little Shoppe of Horrors for 47 years. Let that sink in a minute. Close to a half a century. If that doesn’t show the passion this man has, for his love of Hammer Films, as well as other British horror films, to keep going this long I don’t know what else would. Not to mention that the information within the amazing artwork he always has for his front and back covers, is top-notch, filled with plenty of information and stories about these classic movies that we love. So why not continue to support these independent, old-fashion, print magazines, and help keep them alive, by ordering the newest issue of LSoH now!
What is in the new issue, you ask? Ever hear of Village of the Damned, starring George Sanders and Barbara Shelley? It’s one of the best of British horror cinema from that era and is the cover story of this new issue. With an amazing cover by Steve Karchin, you’ll get to learn all about the making of Village in the Anthony McKay’s essay. There is also an interview with Max Rosenberg, who was co-founders of Amicus Films, as well as part 1 of The Hammer Diaries of Christopher Wicking. Wicking wrote three films for Hammer and worked for them for almost three years, where he kept a diary when he was a Script Supervisor. So you’ll get to read all the insights of went on during the early ’70s as Hammer was struggling to stay afloat.
All this and all the usual great things that make this one of my favorite magazines and one that I pick up religiously. I’m still in the process of ordering all the back issues that came out before I started buying it with issue #8, back in…1984!!!
You can place your order now by heading over to their website HERE. Keep showing your support by ordering your copy now! Issue #42 will be shipping out May 6th.
Born Aug. 15th, 1933
Barbara Shelley was a staple in the British horror cinema for about 10 years, starting in the late ’50s. The fact that she only made a handful of horror pictures during that time, and is so remembered shows the real talent that she was.
Starting with films like Cat Girl (1957) and Blood of the Vampire (1958), before appearing in one of the genre classics, Village of the Damned (1960). Then she would work with Hammer Films on her next four pictures, which shows some of her best work: The Gorgon (1964), Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966), and Quatermass and the Pit (1967). Her performance in Dracula: Prince of Darkness, as the uptight Helen, once transformed into a vampire is one of the highlights of that film. Her last role for the genre was the 1974 film Ghost Story (aka Madhouse Mansion), and moved to working more in television, even having a small stint in the Doctor Who series.
So the next time you’re in the mood for a British horror film, and maybe even a Hammer Film, think about choosing one of the ones that feature the lovely Shelley and see just what she gave to the genre.