Monday, 9 December 2013

Oh... Have You Read My Piece in Rue Morgue Magazine?

The December 2013 issue of Rue Morgue (#140) contains an interview piece I wrote based on a fax conversation(!) I had with one of my idols - Brian Clemens, OBE. Clemens is the writer/creator of several projects of which I'm a fan, including Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, And Soon the Darkness, See No Evil, the TV series Thriller and The Avengers, and he is the writer/director of Caption Kronos: Vampire Hunter.

Clemens, now in his 80's, was approachable, engaging and considerate. We made contact via his wife's email address, and when asked what his preferred method of communication over the Atlantic Ocean would be, he chose fax as he kindly did not wish to trouble his spouse.

I ended up with much more information than would fit in the three-page Rue Morgue piece, but the content has been distilled to a nice and informative article that will hopefully turn a few new folks on to Clemens' work. To top it all off, The Exoricst, one of my favourite flicks, is the cover story of this issue.

This is my second piece for Rue Morgue (info about the first piece is here), and the whole experience has been a thrill for me. This past October, I was in Toronto and stopped by the Rue Morgue office where I met Editor-in-Chief Dave Alexander and some of the Rue Crew. Dave, Monica, Justin and Ron were great, and I look forward to dropping back into their lair where I'd love to spend weeks in both the DVD and book libraries.

For more info about Rue Morgue, check out their always interesting and always morbidly atmospheric website.

William Castle's Ghost Story (aka Circle of Fear)

I’d been slowly making my way through William Castle’s TV anthology series Ghost Story (aka Circle of Fear) over the past year. Though it originally ran on NBC from 1972-1973, I wasn’t even aware of its existence until I came across a review of the Sony Manufacture on Demand (MOD) release of the complete series.

Based on the series’ limited exposure and short on-air history (one season), it’s fair to say that it was not a hit like similar anthologies Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone. It did, however, attract significant behind the scenes genre names in addition to Castle, like Hammer Horror writer-director Jimmy Sangster and I Am Legend author Richard Matheson, as well as performers such as Janet Leigh, Jodie Foster, Karen Black, and Martin Sheen, among many others.

Originally, the show was called Ghost Story and featured Hotel Manager Winston Essex (Sebastian Cabot of Family Affair) as a sort of through line who would intro and extro each episode. Towards the end of its run, however, the show’s name was changed to Circle of Fear, the Essex concept was dropped, and each episode ran without comment. A sure sign of something not quite working, but did this revamp work?

The short answer is no. The changes were made to relatively inconsequential elements, when instead Castle and company should have been making sure that they had the occasional story that really stood out – the kind that people remember long after its episode has aired. Horror anthologies live and die based on the impact that individual episodes make – two or three per season may be all it takes to succeed. Instead, Circle of Fear offers an almost consistent level of decent quality that entertains rather than scares. Seen through the rose coloured tint of nostalgia, that’s enough for a watch, but not enough to make it a classic.