BFI SCI-FI: Days of Fear and Wonder – The Boy from Space (1971/1980) DVD release PLUS an interview with actress, Sylvestra Le Touzel

tbfs1BFI SCI-FI: Days of Fear and Wonder – The Boy from Space (1971/1980) DVD release PLUS an interview with actress, Sylvestra Le Touzel

 

Released on DVD by the BFI on 25 August 2014

In 1980 I was 14 years old and a confirmed Sci Fi and Fantasy nerd. It was a rather singular existence back then, being a time well before it became cool to be a geek or a nerd as it is today, indeed for many nowadays, being known as a geek is something of a badge of honour. I’m not too sure when geeks & nerds became the new cool, maybe over time it has been a combination of many factors; Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, The Big Bang Theory may have had something to do with it perhaps, I don’t know.

What I do know is that if a 14-year-old was to state today that he was rushing home from school to watch a classic science fiction television series for kids there may well be some degree of ridicule from some. However, that afternoon back in 1980 saw me well and truly chased home by a group of my peers, whose idea of ridiculing a nerd took the form of shouts of “How are you feeling the force now, sci-fi boy??!!” – these were accompanied by a few choice bricks. They were highly amused.

This short, rather bitter recollection isn’t meant to garner sympathy at my teenage existence – on the contrary, I was very happy in being a ‘sci-fi boy’ – after all, I had a myriad of worlds to keep me happy. All they had were their bricks, albeit big and painful bricks. No, the point of the story is that the programme in question that I was trying to get home to was one that had gained something of revered tones of admiration in the few magazines and periodicals that fed our science fiction habits back in those pre-internet (i.e horrible) days. It was the first time in nearly 10 years that it was reappearing on our TV screens, and it turned out that it was a bloody good job that I made sure I braved the taunts and the bricks to gets to see it, because as it turned out, it was not to be made available for another 34 years.

tbfs2You don’t need to be Einstein to have figured out that the TV series in question was The Boy From Space.

However, this is where the story becomes slightly complicated, because this isn’t simply a recollection, it is in fact a recollection within a recollection. The other reason that I was desperate to see the programme back in 1980 was because I had at that time vague and unsettling memories of watching it on its very first broadcast back in 1971. My next door neighbour in those days, Mark, was something of a hero of mine, after all I was 5 he was 8 and at that age he seemed like the height of sophistication with his encyclopedic knowledge of dirty jokes. He was also a science fiction nut and if that wasn’t impressive enough, his family had a brand spanking new colour TV. Star Trek and Dr Who were our staple diets of Sci Fi and Saturday nights were our nights of television heaven.

I’ll be honest, my memory of specifically watching the first 1971 broadcast of The Boy From Space with Mark is pretty sketchy, except for two factors; firstly, one of the lead actors was a rather pretty girl that I remember being just a little smitten with; secondly, one of the adult characters gave me something of the hee bee gee bees, he was known as ‘The tall thin man’ and he seriously frightened this 6-year-old out of his skin for a few nights afterwards.

So when it was announced that the series is at last being released on DVD by the BFI on 25 August 2014 as part of the ‘BFI SCI-FI: Days of Fear and Wonder’, well I has a bit happy to say the least.

So for those of you who may not know the synopsis of the story, a brief overview is on its way……

“When brother and sister Dan and Helen see a mysterious object falling from the sky one night, they set out to look for traces of a meteorite in the nearby sandpit.

There, they are confronted by a strange thin man, and discover a white-haired boy called Peep-peep who speaks a bizarre alien language.”

tbfs3Now, to the allegedly ‘sophisticated’ CGI enriched science fiction audiences of 2014, The Boy From Space may have something of a museum-like look to it in terms of effects and budget, but back in those pre-Star Wars days in the 1970’s television wasn’t exactly awash with sophisticated science fiction TV. However I would advise anybody planning to watch this who are not of a certain vintage, to put aside any understandable feelings regarding the somewhat ‘innocent’ look of the piece, and enjoy it for what it is – an important and incredibly enjoyable example of British science fiction Television.

For what cannot be denied is that we are witness to a story that both engrossed and scared the young target audience in equal measure. Yes it may well be a simple story; alien is stranded on earth, local children find him and try to persuade the grown-ups to help the alien boy whilst in danger from a bad, bad spaceman (in a trenchcoat) – we’ve all been there….

However, this would be an over simplication because it would disregard the fact that behind the production there was a veritable cream of British writing and acting talent, with for example, the story’s writer being Richard Carpenter, creator of the cult 1970’s series Catweazle as well as the 1980’s Robin of Sherwood series (and still the best ever version of the story – so stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Kevin Costner).

It has to be said that The Boy From Space also boasted a genuinely gifted and atmospheric musical soundtrack by Paddy Kingsland that wouldn’t have been out-of-place in any piece of adult orientated science fiction with its note perfect complimenting of the scenes – particularly the more chilling ones.

The cast, particularly the two young leads of Sylvestra Le Touzel and Stephen Garlick were keen, enthusiastic and above all convincing in their portrayals. Though it is the character of the Tall Thin Man that impacted on those who watched it at the time and which still resonates with those of us that look back on that first viewing experience. The character, played by the wonderful British character actor, John Woodnutt, has regularly been voted into the top lists of scariest television or film characters. Whether the stories of children running in fear from the classrooms when this was shown as part of the Look and read children’s education series are to be believed or not, is academic. The sight of this trench-coated villain scared me then – and when I watched it again the other night, this time through the eyes of a little (much) older individual, I could still sense an element of the chill and menace that I and countless others felt on the first occasion, of this genius of a portrayal.

tbfs4I would really love to know what the younger audience of 2014 think of this series, and if they can move past the blond-haired Aliens in silver suits. Maybe It would help if they knew context of the time that it appeared on television, to much acclaim, on that second occasion back in 1980….. Science fiction was a cultural behemoth with the ‘Star Wars affect’ still only three years old, we simply couldn’t get enough of it, no matter how ‘flimsy’ the effects. However, the The Boy From Space is an example of a time when the audience were treated arguably with a little more respect than they are now in terms of actually accepting that viewers might have a modicum of intelligence. Not only that, it was accepted that we would be allowed to be frightened and entertained in equal measure without the fear of being wrapped in a cultural ball of wool to try to protect our sensibilities.

What cannot be denied is that this series is an exceptionally well put together, exciting and yes frightening slice of British science Fiction. Highly recommended.

Originally broadcast in 1971, as part of the BBC’s educational Look and Read strand, The Boy from Space was shown again in 1980 in a revised version featuring new presenters Wordy and Cosmo, as well as updates – including a new foreword and a voice-over – to the main drama.

Look and Read was a programme for primary schools, aimed at improving children’s literacy skills. The programme presents fictional stories in a serial format, the first of which was broadcast in 1967 and the most recent in 2004, making it the longest running nationally broadcast programme for schools in the UK.

The various collections are included in this package in all their restored glory. However, it is possible that, like me, you might find the Look and learn excerpts slightly grating. After all, I realise I suffer from terminal immaturity and may never well ever fully grow up, but I did find myself fast forwarding through the ‘spelling’ bits. Remember, the excerpts were designed for primary school children, remember. Luckily, the kids can watch the Wordy and Cosmo versions while there is a fabulous feature-length presentation (70 mins)of the adventure which has been edited specially for this release – and boy does it work.

I would give this 9 out of 10

 

Sylvestra-8794-MAINInterview with actress, Sylvestra Le Touzel

During the preparation for this article (don’t be so surprised, there is a little prep that goes into theses things!) I was lucky enough to arrange, via the lovely people at the BFI, to chat with actress Sylvestra Le Touzel, who played Helen in The Boy From Space. So, ‘borrowing’ ever so slightly from her IMDB page – Sylvestra was born in West London. She showed an interest in acting at an early age, enrolling at a Stage School. Subsequent numerous television roles followed, – noticeably in regard to this blog, in Dr Who and The Boy From Space.

Later credits include Fanny Price in a 1983 adaptation of Mansfield Park, though, in cult television terms, this was eclipsed by a commercial, still long remembered, for Heineken lager where, in a parody of My Fair Lady she portrayed an upper-class girl being tutored for a cockney role, success only coming when she drank a can of Heineken. In 2008 she appeared on the West End stage with Kenneth Brannagh well received revival of the play ‘Ivanov’. There is much, much more than I could list here in regards to her career, so check out her full credit listing.

Sylvestra remains a familiar face on British stage and screen
Hi Sylvestra & many thanks for taking the time to answer a few of my questions.

Q) Firstly, before we come onto The Boy from Space, I’d like to ask you about a certain TV series that is significantly in the news at the moment. You appeared in Dr Who in the late 1960’s. God so many questions about that! :-)

1) Did you meet the Doctor?

Yes I did meet the Doctor, in 1968. He was only on his second incarnation then of course. I have watched his career with interest but our paths have never crossed again. I was one of a group of children conjured from his past, who had bullied him at school, the only people he was frightened of.

2) Did you see that Tardis?

I did. I had watched and been terrified at home. Television was black and white then. I’d expected the Tardis to be nearly black. (I remember Police boxes being very dark). I was traumatised to find it was bright blue. I suppose it had to be that colour to show up in black and white.

3)What was the overall experience like?

It is a complicated memory, a clash of several realities. I am writing about it in a memoir.

(The Doctor Who story that Sylvestra appeared in was The Mind Robber. The Doctor himself was played by Patrick Troughton)

syl2Q) So firstly, in regard to The Boy from Space, did you ever think that, ahem “whispers” 43 years later, that you would be talking about it?

Um. No.
Although it did feel like the centre of my universe at the time. The adult me is amazed, the child me assumed that everything I touched would be museum quality.

Q) Have you seen it since filming it?

In the mid nineteen eighties it was shown again. We recorded an introduction where Dan and Helen were grown up and looking back on their childhood adventure – the BBC needed to explain why all the cars were out of date. That was a mere thirty years ago. I’ve not seen it since then.

Q) How did the part of Helen come about?

I remember auditioning in a BBC car park in Ealing – Maddalena, the director, chasing me between the parked cars, I think I got the part because I could look petrified. I was petrified.

Q) How enjoyable (or not) was the involvement in filming the series?

It was tremendously enjoyable. Stephen and I were both 12 years old. It requires concentration to film a series over several weeks. We got a tad giggly around the observatory one time, over-confident, and Maddalena had to get stern. We blamed Loftus Burton [who played Tom] but it wasn’t his fault, it was me, I never could keep a straight face.

I can’t remember now what was so funny. Just kids being stupid I expect. Colin [Mayes, who played Peep-peep] was older. He was always professional.

syl3Q) A lot of the filming seemed to take place in a Dr Who style quarry. How did that go?

It was a quarry near Basingstoke. It was very exciting, a real secret landscape. I remember on our way home we’d see people wearing big hats in cars coming home from Ascot and I’d think ‘I know where you’ve been but I bet you can’t guess where I’ve been’.

Q) Were you at all aware of the reputation the series had garnered amongst young sci-fi fans at the time, and over the subsequent years?

I had no idea.
Except that when we were rehearsing the film that was eventually titled Happy-Go-Lucky, Mike Leigh told me his son Leo used to watch the programme and was impressed that he was working with me. I thought he was pulling my leg. If Mike starts claiming The Boy From Space is a major influence, don’t believe it.

Q) Perhaps the most enduring aspect for many viewers (including myself!) was the frankly chilling ‘Tall Thin Man” played by John Woodnutt – Were you aware that the character is credited with frightening a generation of children!

No I wasn’t aware of that. How amazing for John, especially when you consider not only was it pre-CGI, it was pre-Lycra, those catsuits weren’t easy to wear. He was a Guardian reader I seem to remember, and now you come to mention it, the first person I’d ever seen putting in contact lenses.

syl4Q) What was is like to film the scenes with the Thin Man?

Actually it was very scary. He was a serious actor. He knew he mustn’t get too friendly with us. Maybe the shortsightedness added to his mystery.

Q) Why do you think a production like The Boy from Space is so revered?

Is it the innocence? For a film to work and to endure, regardless of how quaint some of the notions may seem over time, it must begin with everyone believing utterly in the world.

Maddalena must have understood that, hence the terrifying Ealing car park audition. I remember there was integrity and commitment from everyone. It felt very grown up to be involved.

Q) You may have noticed that I’ve managed to get through this interview without mentioning a certain commercial for lager type beverage?! 🙂

Yes. Well done. The water in Majorca tastes a lot better these days I am told.

Finally, I’d like to say thanks again, Sylvestra!

Thank you. It means a great deal to me.

The Boy from Space with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, live, at BFI Southbank in Decembertbfs1On Saturday 6 December, to celebrate this DVD release, BFI Southbank will present the specially created 70 minute version of the series, directed by Maddalena Fagandini, followed by a panel discussion with key figures in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, who provided the original music for this and so many other series. Following this our regular Sonic Cinema strand will provide a chance to hear the group play a specially selected set of Sci-Fi music from Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Quatermass to Doctor Who.

Never available in any video format, the classic BBC series The Boy from Space (1971/1980) is at last being released on DVD by the BFI on 25 August 2014 as part of BFI SCI-FI: Days of Fear and Wonder, a celebration of Sci-Fi film and television. This well-remembered Look and Read series is presented with a host of extras, including the complete audio from the 1972 BBC Records LP and alternative presentations of the filmed drama sequences which allow for this thrilling adventure to be experienced in new and exciting ways.

DVD Special features

· * The complete 1980 series (10 x 20 mins): all ten episodes of the BBC’s classic Look and Read series, featuring Dan, Helen and Peep-peep’s story, as well as helpful reading tips from Wordy and Cosmo

· * Feature-length presentation (70 mins): exclusive version of Dan, Helen and Peep-peep’s adventures, edited specially for this release

· * BBC Records LP – audio version (55 mins): original spoken word recordings from the 1972 vinyl release, narrated by Charles Collingwood (the voice of Brian Aldridge in Radio 4’s The Archers)

· * BBC Records LP – film version (55 mins): an exclusive presentation, combining the audio from the 1972 LP with film and video footage from the 1980 TV broadcast

· * Wordy’s Think-ups: 19 original animations from the series

· * Downloadable PDFs of the original 1971 and 1979 pupil’s pamphlets

· * Illustrated booklet with essays by British TV experts Ben Clarke and Christopher Perry, and recollections by composer Paddy Kingsland

Product details

RRP: £22.99 / cat. no. BFIV2001 / Cert PG
UK / 1971/80 / colour / English language, with optional hard-of-hearing subtitles /

200 mins / Original aspect ratio 1.33:1 / 2 × DVD9 / PAL / Dolby Digital audio (192 kbps)

An interview with actress, scream queen and burlesque performer, Kaylee Williams.

One of the genuine joys of this blogging malarkey has been the opportunity that it has given me to speak to a wide and varied selection of creative individuals. Along the way I’ve spoke to authors, filmmakers, actors and many other talented folks who have been taken in by my pestering and self delusion masquerading itself as any sort of influential blogging talent.

In amongst that ever growing list of genuinely creative individuals, there have also a couple of very famous names, one of which just happened to be long time scream queen loves of my life. Someone once told me you should never meet your heroes, well the meeting may only have been virtual, but nevertheless, Adrienne Barbeau was loveliness personified. If you don’t believe me, you can read about her loveliness herself either here on UKhorrorScene (click on the NEW Interviews A-Z tab above ) or on my blog HERE

kw1

This particular article is in some way the polar opposite of that interview, because while this may indeed an interview with a scream queen, it is in this case one who is is just in the early stages of her career. I say ‘early stages’ because she may well be a fledgling when it comes to time spent in the business, but certainly isn’t a fledgling in terms of work output.

Kaylee Williams is a native of Chicago, Illinois. Since first falling into acting, she has become an established scream queen in the horror genre.

Kaylee was nominated for Best Actress in a Short for her lead role in The Many Monsters of Sarah Roth at the 2010 Oklahoma Horror Film Fest and won for Best Actress in an Anthology or Collection by NerdRemix’s Best of 2012 Awards for her role in the segment “Anti-Bodies” in the horror anthology Psycho Street.

Her most recent release is The Lashman (2014), a masterful contemporary slasher movie that I had the pleasure and privilege to recieve a sneak preview of just a couple of weeks ago, a review of which appeared previously here on UKHorrorScene HERE and once again on my blog at HERE

For these of you that haven’t read the review of The Lashman, or simply cannot be bothered to click on the link, Kaylee plays Jan, who is part of five school friends heading off on a weekend excursion into the hills for a weekend of fishing, swimming and campfire tales near their cabin retreat. For the group, it’s the chance for one final celebration before they have to go their separate ways to college and whatever different paths their lives will take them. Of course, there is a crate or two of beer to help the weekend along. And Mustard, lots of Mustard.

kw2

Kaylee (front right), before the screaming begins…

Soon after arrival at their secluded (of course) cabin, the friends are sharing a scary campfire tale about a local urban-myth. He is simply referred to as ‘The Lashman’ – a man from many years past who was treated pretty badly by the local populace and now whose spirit magically wanders the hills seeking violent and bloody revenge on those that wronged him….or even those who haven’t wronged him, he isn’t particular. However, little do they realise that a harmless campfire tale of revenge and murder is going to become very real for them and turn into their own worst bloody nightmares!

It’s a tremendous slasher film that confounds many of the boring and tedious cliches that have worn down the genre over the years that had regarded apparently ‘mundane’ things such as character detail hardly being anywhere near the top of their requirements list. In The Lashman, the characters are given time to breathe and develop before the carnage begins – and Kaylee’s role in particular caught my eye (and many others eyes , it has to be said).

It’s a performance that is ballsy, sexy and full of wit – the scene where she turns the tables on her jerk of a boyfriend and chastises him is particularly funny. …….. and my god can she scream – the requisite qualities of a horror scream queen are there in mucho abundance.

Kaylee then fell into my cunning ploy of befriending her on Facebook and then foolishly kindly agreed to give me a short interview. so it transpired that a few weeks ago I compiled my list of my usually cutting edge and insightful questions and sent them to the lovely lady. Unfortunately for me, due to her being as busy as busy could be she was unable to respond straight away. Despite my pestering, she was niceness personified, even when I asked her recently if she still had the questions, she was apologising profusely for the delay.

kw3So earlier in the week I was delighted to hear from Kaylee after she had found a window in her schedule to answer my questions – so here it is……

K) “Hey there! Here you go! So sorry for the delay! Thank you for your patience! :-)”
Me) Hey no worries 🙂
Firstly, Kaylee. Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to talk to me – I’ll try not to bore you too much! As professional I felt it important to fully, er, research, your Facebook photo’s before this interview. So why does Facebook hate boobs?

K) “Ha, I don’t know, you would have to ask Facebook about its personal feelings about boobs. But even if FB were totally pro-boobs, I still wouldn’t be giving away anything for free, LOL.”

Me) Hey, congratulations on being nominated for best supporting actress at the 2014 Indie Horror Film Festival for your role in Ron Fitzgerald’s “Dark Realm” Project!! You can now lie about how it’s being nominated that matters & not winning

K) “Well I actually did win and I’m SUPER excited about that! It was a huge honor to be named Best Supporting Actress. I think I actually squeeled quite girlishly with excitement when my name was called, haha.”

kw4Me) I know that give done working other genres, but you’re mostly associated with indie horror. Was working in this genre by design or just a case of where the work happens to be?

K) “Honestly, it’s just where the work has happened to be. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing horror films and I plan to keep doing them, but I’m definitely also open to branching out and doing other genres.”

Me) The indie horror scene seems to be incredibly healthy at the moment on both sides of the pond. Why do you think this is the case?

K) “I think that it’s just such a popular genre that there’s always going to be new and interesting indie horror films being developed/released all over the world.”

kw5Me) I recently interviewed Cameron Macasland who directed you in the soon to be released The Lashman. What are your memories of filming that project?

K) “What first comes to mind is that it was HOT! We shot in Kentucky in the middle of summer and it was over 100 degrees every day. But it’s easy to forget the heat when you’re having fun. It was such a great cast and crew and we all had a blast working together to create a really awesome film. I’ve gotten to see it and I think it turned out great! It just had its premiere on April 19th. I’m really excited about this one. So far people really seem to be digging it.”

Me) So does working in ‘mainstream’ films interest you?

K) “Absolutely, if given the opportunity I would love to work in mainstream films!”

Me) Apart from your many film roles you are also a performer for the fabulously named, Gorilla Tango Burlesque – Provocative Parody For The Discerning Nerd – Tell us about this, it sounds simply amazing!

K) “We do nerd-themed burlesque shows and it’s tons of fun! Some of the things we have parodied include Star Wars, Super Mario Bros, Batman, Indiana Jones, and Star Trek. I currently play Princess Leia in “The Empire Brings Sexy Back: A Star Wars Burlesque Sequel,” Princess Leia/Han Solo in “A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque,” and various characters in “Temple of Boobs: An Indiana Jones Burlesque.” I also got to play Luigi in “Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque,” which closed last year. I’ve been performing with Gorilla Tango Burlesque nearly every weekend since October of 2012 and I plan to continue performing with them for as long as they will have me!”

kw6

And a Billion Princess Leia fantasies are rekindled.

Me) I’d like to say many thanks for you giving your time & hope that the questions weren’t too tedious.

K) “Thank YOU for the interview!! ☺”

So there you have it, not only is she talented, funny, gorgeous and it seems a genuinely nice person, but to be honest she had me at “Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque”, which believe me is something I would have given my right arm to have seen, if only for the fabulous title of the piece itself – genius.

Kaylee Williams can be reached by her Facebook page HERE

The most wonderfully named Gorilla Tango Burlesque – Provocative Parody For The Discerning Nerd ‘s Facebook page can be enjoyed HERE

The Lashman movie Facebook page link can be found HERE

Interview With Actor – Jasper Cole by Stuart Anderson

Interview with actor, Jasper Cole.

When I was growing up I, like many kids of my age I suppose, had dreams of becoming an actor. In fact I pretty much had it all mapped out for myself. In my particular case I had no real desire to be a future James Bond or Count Dracula. No, for some reason I always saw myself as one of those familiar, but not too famous horror movie character actors that seem to pop up in seemingly every other film. You know how it goes –  ” oh that’s whats-his-name from that thingamajig movie”. My idea of an acting career was in part to be more concerned with the craft of acting but just as importantly (well in truth, probably more so), I wanted to spend my days biting the necks of beautiful bossomed Hammer horror actress’s rather than simply being famous. It was quite a few years until I realised that this was never going to happen, the fact that I had absolutely no tangible acting bone in my body may have had something to do with that.

It all came to a depressing head during auditions for the School Nativity play when I was 12 and losing out to Craig Witherspoon for the role of shepherd number 5 – Not only did I lose out to the only other boy left in the class, he also had a bloody speech impediment that made ‘Jesus’ come out as sounding more like “JESHUSH’. In my nightmares I can still clearly hear “Hail baby Jeshush, the Messhia!”.

I knew at that point that my career as any sort of actor was dead right there…..not that the painful memory still lingers, you understand.

jasp1
Well I’m not going to mess with him – are you?

So It is my absolute pleasure this week to have the chance to speak to an experienced actor (I won’t use the word ‘veteran’ as I always think it makes one sound decrepit and ready for the knackers yard) who has well over a century of television and film credits, not to mention a veritable string of theatre and writing credits to his name.

Jasper Cole definitely has that familiar “I know him from something” look, being a long-time stalwart of TV and film. As recently as 2013  he appeared in the much maligned (well I liked it actually) hit horror film,Hansel & Gretel as “John”, the son of the legendary actress, Dee Wallace. His film credits also Include 18 Again, Alien Nation, Get Your Stuff, Friday the 13th Part VIII, andUrban Assault-TKO. Jasper is perhaps most well known for his portrayal of the genuinely creepy Zeke Pleshette in the film MacGruber, alongside a certain Mr Val Kilmer.

As well as film he’s also appeared in numerous theatrical and television productions, with his TV work continuing notable appearances on shows such as C.S.I., Married With Children, Saved By The Bell, Touched by An Angel,Party Of Five, La Femme Nakita, Tales From The Crypt,Baywatch,PacificBlue and Clueless. Jasper has been regularly nominated for awards (nominated for best actor in the stage production of A Quiet End in 1996) besides achieving best supporting actor in the Drama-logue Awards for his role in Fool for Love in 1995. As recently as he received critical acclaim for his work on Michael Eisner’s Emmy Nominated series, Prom Queen.

jasp2
Prom Queen

It’s clear that Jasper’s career has been somewhat varied, though it would be fair to say that in recent years he has become a firm favourite of the contemporary horror community. In the last few months he has become a Facebook friend of mine (I know, get me) and not only is he talented and successful, he’s also a bloody nice guy. As you’ll now see for yourself.

Me) Firstly many thanks for taking time out of your schedule, Jasper. how’s life treating you at the moment?

J) All is good and thank you…just chillin here at my house in Palm Springs. If I’m not working in Hollywood I’m here every chance I get.

Me) For those foolish enough not know much about you, could you tell us a little about yourself – I understand that you are part Native American for example?

J) Yeah I’m part Cherokee Indian and part Irish so needless to say there was a lot of alcohol involved lol…I grew up in Athens Georgia and moved to LA when I was 23 so I have been here 27 yrs this coming September. It’s been an AMAZING journey!

jasp3
Jasper & Val Kilmer in the ‘who’s bum looks best?’ competition
Me) I know you’re probably sick of being asked what Val Kilmer was like to work in MACGRUBER – BUT,  I’ll ask you anyway!!  I think he’s often had something of a raw deal over the years in the press. What was the experience like?

J) Well, I was and am a big fan of Val’s so it was an honour to just work with him at all and it was a great time. He’s very funny and eccentric in the best way possible. We shot out in New Mexico and Val actually lives there as well and in fact at that time there were rumours he was gonna run for Lt. Governor of that state so we had some “interesting” conversations about politics. Needless to say he was GREAT in the film and a true highlight of my career.

Me) I’ve often thought that it would be preferable to be a regular working character actor than a more wider known famous figure where the craft of acting might be lost in the publicity machine. Would you exchange being well-known within horror and other genre’s but perhaps lesser so in the wider public consciousness as you are now or to be transported into the fame and money stratosphere of a Val Kilmer? 

J) lol the “grass is always greener” right? Honestly, all I ever really wanted when I started out was to be a working actor who is respected within my industry and it has taken me many years to get here but I wouldn’t change a thing…HOWEVER as I get older I would really love a steady television gig….second or third side kick maybe just recurring who shows up periodically and does his thing. Otherwise I’m good to go!

jasp4
Frank Giamona (left) & Jasper with ‘mum’ Dee Wallace

Me) Does it bother you (as it does me) that horror is still regarded as the poor man of movies and something merely to “move on from” for an actor?

J) Its a real mystery to me because horror is one of the most profitable at the box office consistently…low budget or studio level and for me I have moved “into horror” rather than “move on” from…I’m truly grateful to be a part of this genre on any level. The fans are the most loyal and diligent in the world.


Me) You have a distinctive look (you know, good looking with more than a hint of menace) 🙂 . Have you had to fight against being typecast in movies as ‘bad guy number 1’ ? 

J) Thanks,,I always laugh and say it took me so many years to be TYPECAST that I hope to stay on this beloved “list” til the very end…Theatre is the place to stretch as an actor and try different parts….TV/film is where you do your consistent thing and I am forever grateful to be typecast.

Me) It seems that you’re not that busy at the moment – well that is apart from appearing in THE PURGE ANARCHY opening in July. You apparently also have two horror thrillers coming out soon, CAPTURED and MODEL HOME. In addition to those I hear that you are about to start the horror film SAVAGE SISTAS.   Oh yes, if that wasn’t enough you’re in the middle of shooting DARK SPIRITS  opposite the gorgeous and talented Lynn Lowry and Mindy Robinson. What can you tell us about some of these productions? 

jasp5
Jasper and Erica Renee Johnson from the set of Savage Sistas
J) Wow..when you put it like that I do seem busy..lol…seriously I’m beyond blessed to have worked on these great projects Obviously to work with Michael Bay and Jason Blum in THE PURGE: ANARCHY was a huge  honor and its an amazing script and film. I play a “Homeless Man” who lives in a dipsy dumpster trash can and appears during the purge in a very scary way…….CAPTURED is another great script written and directed by Joe Arias and its stars Brittany Curan and Kristin Prout and a ensemble of amazing young actors…I Play “Shelly” the creepy groundskeeper who holds a lot of family secrets that get revealed throughout the film……MODEL HOME was a thrill to work with Monique Gabrilla Curnen and Emmy winner Kathy Baker. I play “Walker” a desert rat who stumbles into a nightmare and cant get out. Patrick Cunningham was a superb director to work with and his script is one of the best ever and a concept we haven’t seen before…… SAVAGE SISTAS is my first lead in a horror film and it’s a blessing to actually play a “Cop” for a change although he’s not necessarily a good cop after all. Dan Smith has written and directed a true original film and the female leads are unique to the horror genre and KICK BUTT!……DARK SPIRITS was a chance to reunite with one of the CAPTURED producers Ewan Bourne and I play a “Dark Butler” who is up to no good but is enslaved to his “Master” who is played by the stunning  Mindy Robinson.

Me) Would you possibly be ably to tell Lynn Lowry that I’ve been more than a little smitten with her for quite a while and that I’d love to interview her…….pretty please? 

J) Lynn is so lovely and kind and I will most definitely tell her and I’m sure you will love her too!
jasp6
The lovely Lynn Lowry

Me) Have you ever worked over here in the UK? 

J) have not worked there but two of my goals left for my career are to do theatre in both New York and London.

Me) Finally, the most important question (remember, I’m a psychologist) – Alien or Predator?

J) Wow that’s a tough one but I’m gonna have to go with PREDATOR

Me) Thanks Jasper, mate for taking the time to answer the questions. Take care!  

J) Thanks so much and keep up the great work!

So there you have it. He has a varied & successful career that keeps on going from strength to strength. He lives in Palm Springs, works in Hollywood but has managed to stay a genuinely nice guy with a good line answering my inane interview questions. So I will forgive him for getting the Alien or Predator question wrong – though obviously the man can look after himself so maybe I’ll keep that piece of information from him…..

Seriously though, I would like to thank Jasper Cole for the interview. A good guy & a good actor.
Jasper can be viewed, contacted and researched at the following links;

Interview with Producer, Director & Writer John Portanova by Stuart Anderson

Interview with producer/director & writer, John Portanova

 

It was a genuine pleasure to receive the amount of positive feedback about last week’s article for the May DVD release of the rather excellent The Invoking. The fact that the positive vibes weren’t just from those involved in the project, but others who had both enjoyed the article and been inspired to possibly go out and buy it when it’s released.

jp1
John Portanova standing in the ‘stalkers’ section
 –  nope nothing to infer from that……

If that wasn’t enough, just a couple of days later I was more than a little pleased to be contacted by writer/producer/director and member of a mysteriously named group known as The October People, John Portanova.

If truth be told I was pleased on two counts. Firstly, it gave me the chance to pass onto my reader just part of the process behind the production of an indie horror movie. Secondly, it was the opportunity for me to gain answers to a few important burning questions that I had, such as; Was the rather excellent The Invoking really made on a shoestring budget? Just how annoyingly talented is Mr Portanova and his team? And are The October People really some shady group whose true intention to suck out the brains from our still breathing bodies?

 

As you’ll see below, John is a rather deft and excellent interviewee with a good line in intelligence, humour and detailed oration, besides, anybody who uses the word ‘cryptozoology’ in an interview is fine by me. Not only that, but it seems that he has the need also to get the odd rant off his chest – nothing wrong with that. So I hope that he doesn’t mind the odd minor amendment that I’ve made to his responses to my once again legendary, almost interrogatory in nature, interview questions by my altering his American English spelling (i.e incorrect) to UK English (i.e correct).
jp2

Q) Let’s start with me asking you just who and what are The October people?

The October People is a production company started by myself, Jeremy Berg, and Matt Medisch. It is based in Seattle and San Diego and specialises in producing independent films with a strong focus on character. Our first film was The Invoking, which Jeremy directed and co-wrote, I co-wrote and produced, and Matt produced and helped come up with the original story for. On future projects we will have similar positions some of the time, but other times we will switch things up and I could be directing, for example. We want to tell quality, character-driven stories through the prism of our favourite genres.

 
Q) The Invoking seems a little old-fashioned in terms of character development (and I mean that as a compliment) Was this an intentional approach from the start?

 

It was. We are all lifelong horror fans and of course a big part of that is loving the gore effects and monsters. But when you see as many horror films as we have, you start to see those same things over and over. We knew we didn’t want our first film to be another micro-budget zombie or slasher movie, so we decided to tell a story that was more about the characters and that took a more psychological approach. But even our upcoming projects, which do focus on different sub-genres of horror including monsters, will still be very much built off of a solid character foundation. Instead of just giving the audience cookie-cutter types that they’ve seen over and over again, we want to make sure there is interesting drama going on so that they are invested  in the story even before a monster comes rampaging across the screen.

 

jp3
Q) The film looks amazing – where is the location and how did you find it?

 

Thanks. We shot the film in Red Bluff, CA. It was actually the home where our producer Matt grew up. Coming into The Invoking, we had a handful of short films and no money. We knew we wanted to make a feature and so we decided to do something in the vein of El Mariachi or the original Paranormal Activity, where the directors used what they had access to (locations and props) and wrote the film around those things to keep the budget low. So we wrote the script based off of this property we had the full run of. If something wasn’t there and available to us at the location, we didn’t write about it.

 

Q) Did The invoking only cost $11000 and one week to make? If so, just how was that managed ?

 

Yes. The budget for the film was $11,000 and principal photography happened in Red Bluff over the course of one week. Like I was mentioning earlier, the script was written with this budget and shoot schedule in mind. We only had so much money we could charge onto credit cards and so much time we could take over the location. So keeping to this schedule was easy in one sense because we were staying at our location and everything was shot within walking distance from the house. But, on the other hand, it was hard because we had so many shots to get. Some days we did up to 40 set ups and had a maximum of 3 takes for each shot. Having an awesome crew and a great cast of actors really helped us stay on schedule and get good stuff during the few takes we had.

jp4Q) What productions are next in the pipeline?

We are actually getting ready to shoot the next October People horror feature next week. It’s an alien abduction horror tale entitled The Device. Once again it’ll be directed by Jeremy Berg from a script the two of us wrote and Matt Medisch will be producing. It’ll be another very low budget picture, but this time we will be shooting all around Washington State with an awesome cast and crew made up of local talent including a nice mix of old friends and new collaborators. The film centres on a fractured family coming together after the loss of a loved one and then spirals into a story of alien terror. We’re all big fans of alien abduction mythology and films in the sub genre such as Fire in the Sky, so we’re excited to film our version of an alien abduction story.

The plan is for the film to be out before the end of the year on home video after playing at a couple of film festivals.Two months after we wrap The Device, we are going to be moving onto Valley of the Sasquatch. This film is based on a script I wrote many years ago and will be my directorial debut. Jeremy will be the cinematographer (a job he has performed on all of our films) and Matt will be producing. I grew up loving Bigfoot as much as alien abduction mythology (I was a big Unsolved Mysteries fan) and so I want this to be a film that treats the creature seriously. It’s not a slasher movie where Jason is replaced by a Bigfoot. The story treats them like wild animals and gives a reason for why they have begun to amass a body count. I think cryptozoology fans as well as horror fans will dig it. It takes a serious look at a monster that has been on film a lot, but not always in the best stories. We will be shooting on our biggest budget yet (although still conservative even by indie film standards) and with some awesome actors that fans of the genre will recognise. The plan is for the film to be completed by the end of the year and then go into a film festival run.

 

We are very happy with the response the film has got. For a film made for no money in no time, we’ve gotten many outstanding reviews and won a handful of awards from our film festival run. We even got a distribution deal that put the film out on store shelves and all over the net in a much wider fashion than a film of our size is usually afforded. So we don’t have much to complain about. But there are a few misconceptions about the film that people have had since our wide release that I want to clear up.
jp5
Most of the crew of The Invoking
1. We know that the set-up of the film (young people go to a cabin) has been done before. We had a microscopic budget that dictated how many characters and locations we could use. So we went with a classic horror set-up and then moved from there into our brand of psychological horror.

 

2. We intended this to be a slow paced, character-driven film. We keep a lot of potential story tangents in the air (Is the house haunted? Will one of the characters snap and turn the film into a slasher? Is everything in the lead character’s head?) and slowly reveal the true nature of the plot in order to keep those questions going through the audience’s head. If that doesn’t sound like your bag (which is fine, different strokes for different folks after all) you might be better off watching something else.

 

3. We shot the film in January of 2012 under the title Sader Ridge. We had no idea what The Conjuring was at that time as it would not be released for a year and a half. The distributor chose to change the name of the film to The Invoking and designed the key art which sells the movie as a classic ghost story (which it really isn’t).

 

4. The film was shot a year before Texas Chainsaw 3D was released and before we had ever heard of it. The similarity in the plot set-up is a coincidence.

All right, that’s all my ranting. (laughs).

 

Q) Finally, Alien or Predator? (This is important!)

Alien. I think Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett came up with the perfect horror creature with that film. The life cycle is great and keeps the terror constantly evolving. And the fact that the alien has acid for blood was a stroke of genius because the characters had to outsmart it as opposed to outgun it, which is usually the path the ending of a monster movie goes down.

 

jp6
Q) Finally finally, any chance of me getting hold of one of them there The Invoking signed T-Shirts?

 

The shirts were made by a great company who I buy most of my wardrobe from called Fast Custom Shirts. You can get one here: http://www.fastcustomshirts.com/servlet/Detail?no=1619.

 

On our Facebook page (facebook.com/theoctoberpeople) we recently ran a contest giving away a signed DVD & a shirt, but unfortunately the contest is already over. But if you buy the shirt and then find yourself in Seattle I’m sure you could find the cast around town and get it signed.

 

Thanks for the great questions Stu!

 

No worries mate, and thanks for the detailed responses and in getting the answer to the Alien/Predator question correct! 🙂

 

I would sincerely like to thank John for taking the time to put up with my vague and shambolic  attempts at cutting edge questioning, hopefully he and the rest of his team haven’t been put off too much in letting me see the fruits of their forthcoming productions. However I cannot guarantee that The October People isn’t in fact a covert organisation whose ultimate aim is to suck your brains out, luckily I’m safe as I’m often told that I don’t have the brains I was born with…….

 

An Interview with Adrienne Barbeau by Stuart Anderson

An Interview with Adrienne Barbeau by Stuart Anderson

 

Adrienne Barbeau is a much loved favourite of horror fans worldwide having appeared in unquestionable classics of the genre such as as Wes Craven’s Swamp Thing  and George A. Romero’s Creepshow (both in 1982) . Perhaps her most celebrated appearances took place in John Carpenter’s original The Fog in 1980 and his classic Escape from New York in 1981. In addition, who could ever forget classics such as the Roger Corman Burial of the Rats for cable television or the wonderfully titled Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death?…… not me, thats for sure!

 

Apart from gracing the the plethora of horror productions Adrienne has had a rich and varied career as a singer, talk show host and in the last few years, she has gained a name for herself as an author. The release of her memoir, There Are Worse Things I Could Do in 2006 which chronicles her amazing life with accounts of being a go-go dancer working for the mob; her breakthrough stage role of Rizzo in “Grease”; her romantic relationships ; marrying the genius of horror filmaking, John Carpenter; giving birth to twins at the age of 51; and talking about her extensive and varied body of horror work.

 

After that she turned to fiction with Vampyres of Hollywood, a thriller about an A-list Hollywood scream queen who just happens to be a 450 year old vampire. The sequelLove Bites has also now been released which again follows the exploits of scream queen, Ovsanna Moore.
Adrienne succumbed to my pestering and kindly agreed to answer a few questions on her life and career.

 

(SA) When did you first start acting & what/who inspired you to do so?
(AB) I started taking ballet when I was 3, and then voice lessons when I was 10.
I don’t remember being inspired by anyone, but I did have a mother who was very encouraging. By the time I was in Jr. High school, I was doing school plays and musicals with a community theatre group and really enjoying myself.

 

(SA) What was your first big break?

Adrienne centre front as ‘Rizzo’ in the stage production of Grease.

(AB) My first great job was playing Tevye’s second daughter Hodel in *Fiddler on the Roof * on Broadway. I consider that a big break because I was finally supporting myself as an actor!

I stayed in the show almost two and a half years. But it was *Grease *that led to *Maude*which led to everything else, so I suppose you could say that was the jumping off point.

(SA) You have a huge fan-base of horror fans throughout the world. Do you feel as if your work in horror has eclipsed your extensive body of workoutside that genre?
(AB) I don’t think so. Depends on your age, really. Most of my *Maude * fans don’t even know about the genre films, and then the horror fans probably don’t know about the stage work. Probably don’t care, either! That’s okay with me; as long as there’s something I’ve done that they enjoyed, I’m a happy camper.

 

(SA) One consistent theme in your characters is that of a strong, resilient woman. The role of Stevie Wayne in The Fog is a case in point. Is that thesort of woman you feel more comfortable playing?

(AB) It’s definitely the sort of role that comes easy to me. And that I’m drawnto. Not too comfortable playing victims.

That smokey sexy voiced DJ in The Fog

(SA) Is that the type of strong female character you feel has been lacking in horror movies?

(AB) Oh boy, I’m not the person to answer this question. I can count the number of horror movies I’ve seen on one hand. I love doing them; don’t like watching them.

 

 

(SA) Apart from your fine performance & the sexy radio DJ voice …. What is It about The Fog do you think that now more than ever resonates with fans?

(AB) Maybe the atmosphere? The lack of CGI? The telling of a really good ghost story with characters you care about set in a great location?

 

(SA) Was it difficult working with your then husband John Carpenter on that movie and indeed also on Escape from New York?

(AB) Not at all. I love working with John, as, I think you’ll find, does every other actor who’s had the opportunity. You can read more about ourspecific experiences together in my memoir *There Are Worse Things I Could Do. *I get to tell some fun stories about “The Master of Horror” there.

 

(SA) In Escape from New York, you appeared with one of my favourite actors, Donald Pleasence. What was he like to work with?
(AB) I loved Donald. He was hysterically funny. There were times when he had me laughing so hard I had to ask John to hold the roll because I couldn’t get it together to say my lines.

 

(SA) In fact, your list of directors in horror reads like a who’s who of iconic directors of the Genre. What was it like working with Wes Craven (Swamp Thing) and George.A Romero (Creepshow)?

(AB) Again, both fantastic men to work for. Brilliant, supportive, kind, knowing what they want on screen and how to get it in the best possible way.

In ‘Swamp Thing’
A grizzly end for the scream queen in ‘Creepshow’
(SA) These days you’re fast gaining a new audience with your Writing career – how did that change of career direction happen?

(AB) I started taking a writing class to fill the void left in my life by the passing of a very close friend. Quickly learned if you’re going to take a writing class, you have to write. So I started telling stories from my career — filming with rats all over me in a studio in Moscow when the government declared Martial Law and civil war was threatened; dating Burt Reynolds long

before the filming of *Cannonball Run; *making *Swamp Thing *in the swamps with the gators and snakes;  as one of the first go-go girls in NYC in a mobbed up cocktail lounge — things like that, and that eventually became a best selling book, which then led to the Vampyres of Hollywood books.

(SA) In Vampyres of Hollywood, we are introduced to Ovsanna Moore, who is known as the ‘Scream Queen’ of Hollywood. Anyone we may know per chance? 🙂

(AB) Well, you know what they say…”write what you know”. 🙂

 

(SA) I found Vampyres of Hollywood a wholly enjoyable read …Satire,elements of film noir & Characters full of depth and dimension. Have you had anyone in the film business accuse you of basing any of the characters on them?

(AB) As you know, most of the recognizable characters are dead. At least, inreal life. So they’re not complaining. When I wrote Tom Atkins in as a character, I made sure I read it all to Tommy first to get his blessing. As for the villains, I doubt that anyone would want to be acknowledged as having anything in common with them, save their professions as agents and paparazzi.

 

(SA) For those who haven’t read ‘Love Bites’, your recent follow up to Vampyres of Hollywood, what can you tell us about that story?

(AB) I like *Love Bites *even more than *Vampyres of Hollywood. *It has more of my sense of humor, I think, and more sensuality or sexuality or whatever you call it, with the love triangle between Ovsanna and her female assistant and the detective, Peter King. And I get a kick out of the scene with vampyre Orson Welles morphing in and out of a rat’s body. I haven’t got a clue where that came from in my head, but it makes me laugh.

(SA) What does the future hold for Adrienne Barbeau – author? More Ovsanna Moore hopefully?
(AB) Well, *Love Bites *was just released digitally as an e-book on Amazon, soI’m pleased about that. And I’m supposed to be writing a one-woman show based on *There Are Worse Things I Could Do,*but  I my sons’ soccer games seem to be taking precedence so it might be a few more months before that sees the light of day. In the meantime, I’m recording a name yet to be revealed video game and waiting for the next good script to come along while I look forward to visiting my son, Cody (Carpenter, for all your horror readers) in Japan.
This interview was taken from Stuarts Blog – http://stuart66.blogspot.co.uk/  check it out !!