Sunday, 20 June 2021

The Beast in the Cellar

When several soldiers are found brutally murdered and the authorities decide that a leopard is to blame elderly sisters Ellie & Joyce Ballantyne (Beryl Reid & Flora Robson) soon realise that the cause of the problem is closer to home than that, right under their feet in fact, bricked up in their cellar.

Produced by Tigon films and written and directed by James Kelley ('Doctor Blood's Coffin') 'The Beast...' was pretty much panned on release and has yet to truly find it's audience but personally I think that's a shame.  Yes it's a bit talky, there's little in the way of suspense and the ending doesn't quite achieve the necessary level of pathos but at the heart of this proto-slasher there's a nice idea dealing with a little explored topic that makes for an intriguing premise for a horror-thriller and there're two great performances from the neurotic Reid (who made a bit of a habit of appearing in great wyrd movies, 'Psychomania' and 'Dr Phibes Rises Again') and the cool calculating Robson ('The Shuttered Room') as the two sisters with the rest of the cast which includes T.P McKenna ('A Child's Voice') and John Hammill ('Tower of Evil') providing able, if maybe a little unispiring, support.



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Sunday, 13 June 2021

Feet Foremost

Wyrd Britain reviews Shades of Darkness Feet Foremost.
'Shades of Darkness' was a mid 1980s series for Granada TV that presented adaptations of unsettling tales by authors  - some famous names (Agatha Christie) and some less so (May Sinclair) -  this particular episode is based on the short story of the same name by L.P. Hartley originally published in 1931 in his collection 'The Killing Bottle'.

The story here revolves around a house haunted by the vengeful ghost of a young woman murdered by her violent husband whose revenge involved possessing the bodies of those she asks to carry her across the threshold of the house and in whose corpse she leaves again in the manner suggested by the title.

Carol Royle in Shades of Darkness Feet Foremost.
Carol Royle gives a predominantly strong performance in the lead and Peter Machin is entertainingly manic as her doomed fiance, there's a fun and barbed performance from Heather Chasen and Ken Kitson (Last of the Summer Wine's 'P.C. Cooper') is the de rigeur rake leaning local with the all the information on the legend of the ghost, Lady Elinor (played by Samantha Gates who, trivia fans may like to note, was one of the two children on the cover of Led Zeppelin's 'Houses of the Holy' album).  

Directed with a fairly gentle hand by Gordon Flemyng (director of both Peter Cushing Dr. Who movies) from a script by Alan Plater, who also adapted May Sinclair's 'The Intercessor' for the same series, this is a less satisfying story than that other that never quite manages to be spooky and has a spectacularly unlikely conclusion.  It is though eminently watchable and, like the rest of the series, an always welcome stab at producing sympathetic adaptations of golden age supernatural tales in the vein of the BBC's M.R. James adaptations at a time when they weren't being made.

Oh and cat lovers please consider yourselves warned.



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Sunday, 6 June 2021

The Body Beneath

The Body Beneath
The Rev. Alexander Algernon Ford (Gavin Reed) is the head of a clan of vampires that live in (Dracula's) Carfax Abbey (relocated by the director from Purfleet) and haunt the nearby Highgate Cemetery - for "21 centuries" despite it having only been there since 1839.  The (not very) Reverend Ford is looking for new victims from within his extended family with which to improve the bloodline of the vampiric branch of the clan.  Finding a suitable candidate in the young and pregnant Susan (Jackie  Scarvellis) he kidnaps her and sets out to establish her as a one woman breeding colony.

US director Andy Milligan made some 27 movies (mostly exploitation and horror) between 1967 and 1988 with this being one of a flurry of films made during a brief sojourn to London in the very early 70s.  'The Body Beneath' is a no budget, camp as Christmas version of the Hammer template as imagined by a third rate theatre troupe.  Beyond its awful script, dreadful direction and diabolical editing it's filled with woeful acting, pointless pregnant pauses, inane gurning and bizarre costumes.  It is entirely terrible and entirely without merit but I've always been of the opinion that those weren't necessarily bad things in a movie.

Buy it here - UK / US.

(please be aware that in the vid below the sound goes slightly out of sync about halfway through - truthfully though that's the least of it's problems - there is a shorter edited version on youtube if you'd prefer)



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If you enjoy what we do here on Wyrd Britain and would like to help us continue then we would very much welcome a donation towards keeping the blog going - paypal.me/wyrdbritain


Affiliate links are provided for your convenience and to help mitigate running costs.