The Winchester, Bournemouth
January 19th 2014
A new horror-fan event comes to Bournemouth, and with perfect timing too, for January is my least favourite month of the year and Cinema Surgery is just the thing to brighten it up. The Winchester is the venue, sitting just above The Triangle on Poole Hill, and having carved a reputation as a home for arts and music events of all varieties. This particular event is the brainchild of Gary Baxter (who extends a warm greeting as we enter), and we arrive early to ensure we get two of the limited tickets which will ensure entry to the film screening that evening (more on that later).
Passing Freddy Krueger and Leatherface (or excellent facsimiles thereof), we head off to the rear stalls as our first stop is to purchase the latest issue of Space Monsters Magazine and meet its editor, Richard Gladman (aka Cyberschizoid), who has made the trek over from Brighton for the day. His enthusiasm for his subject is immediately apparent, and our chat takes in The Blob, Space 1999 and much more. The mag is a very enjoyable, A5-sized affair and issue number three takes in Hammer's Sci-Fi and Monster output, as well as the first part of an examination of Frankenstein on film. I'm looking forward to future issues already - it's a quality publication which feels like real love and care has gone into it. Besides, any mag which argues the merits of 1977's Empire Of The Ants is okay by me.
You can order Space Monsters Magazine by clicking the image, or clicking here.
Things are just starting to warm up, and today's special guests are just arriving. We pass Emily Booth, who is applying some last-minute lippy before meeting the fans. Sadly, we don't get a chance to talk to her, but I can't help noticing how fondly people are speaking about her. She genuinely seems to love the genre she works in, and has won over a lot of her critics through sheer hard work.
Meanwhile, with preparations going on, we decide to head into town for a spot of lunch and a trip down the seafront before heading back once things are in full swing...
On our return, we meet David J Smith, who has a very eye-catching display of comics from Things From Dimension-X, as well as copies of his novel, The Titanic's Mummy, in which the titular creature is loose aboard the ill-fated liner. I have to ask, where did this idea come from? There is an urban myth which suggests that a mummy was being transported on the ill-fated ship (you can read more via this link to The Museum Of Unnatural History). David tells me he combined this with the real-life events and came up with this intriguing premise, and adds that although his story is naturally fictional, he wanted to make the details around the sinking of the ship and events on board as factually accurate as possible (Hollywood, take note). Of particular interest is a coal bunker fire which may well have been raging already as the ship left Belfast. He's certainly grabbed our attention, and we purchase a copy - expect a review here in due course.
A digital/kindle edition of The Titanic's Mummy is available by clicking here.
The paperback edition is available by clicking the image above, or clicking here.
Ninth Circle have a nice range of graphic novels today, along with a V For Vendetta inspired mask which takes my wife's fancy. We have an interesting talk with the gentleman at the stall (I'm really sorry I didn't get your name!) on his passion for Batman, and he mentions something which is obvious in hindsight but I hadn't really thought about before, which is that Batman is quite different to most comic heroes in that he isn't imbued with extraordinary powers, but is just an ordinary guy who does extraordinary things in his battle against crime. I have to admit I haven't had much to do with the caped crusader in some time, but I do feel inspired to re-investigate. That's one of the things I love about events like this - a chance encounter with someone can spark off an interest in checking out something new or re-evaluating something dormant from your cultural past.
You can visit Ninth Circle's Facebook page here.
Another stall that catches my eye is laden with early 80's VHS tapes, the kind that came in big chunky padded cases, and there's a particularly healthy selection of early Warner Home Video titles. For a brief moment I'm back to being a kid, looking around Hindmarch's in Hedge End, gazing wide-eyed at the array of pre-cert titles on offer, in the days before we had a video recorder of our own. A very nice copy of 1978's Invasion Of The Body Snatchers is crying out for me to take it home, along with Friday The 13th, Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites Of Dracula. These would look very nice nestling alongside my vintage Ferguson Videostar, but my sensible side reminds me that I have too many collecting passions on the go already (not to mention a rapidly depleting bank balance), and I reluctantly drag myself away.
Let's see what you could have won...
Speaking of Dracula A.D. 1972, the lady about to be bitten on the artwork above is also one of the day's special guests, Caroline Munro. She holds the distinction of having worked with Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and Vincent Price, not to mention visual effects legend Ray Harryhausen, and her horror credits provide an interesting bridge between the golden era of Brit-Horror and the slasher cycle of the 1980's. She's been a Bond-girl too, of course, alongside Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. All in all, it's not a bad list of jobs to have on your CV.
Tonight, she's presenting her latest appearance in horror-short The Landlady, in which she gets to play the baddie, and very effective she is too. Just as it's due to start, a chill wind blows in through the front door, and Caroline leans over and asks my wife and I if we're warm enough. You don't get that kind of experience at the Empire Leicester Square, I'll wager.
A Q&A session is great fun, with Caroline and Count Karnstein himself, Damien Thomas sharing some great stories and insights. It's quite intriguing that, unbeknownst to him at the time, Damien was actually being considered by Hammer as a replacement Dracula for Christopher Lee. He also regales us with the tale of how he broke one of his false fangs on Luan Peters' cleavage whilst making Twins Of Evil. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch that film in quite the same way... I'll not share any other tales or anecdotes from the session as I'm sure they sound much better from the actors' own mouths, but suffice to say there were laughs and interesting tales in equal measure.
A screening of Caroline's 80's slasher flick Slaughter High brings things to a close, and all told this was more than worth the £5 entry fee. For a new event making its debut in mid-January, it's certainly made an encouraging start. Catching organiser Gary Baxter later on, I have to say he's pulled a blinder today, and ask if there's any further events planned. He says hopefully something in April - let's keep those fingers crossed, as it's been a great day. Besides, I didn't get a chance to catch up with some of the other vendors, artists, authors, et cetera, this time around - maybe next time? I might catch up with Freddy and Leatherface too...
Keep track of future Cinema Surgery news at the Facebook pages here, and also here.
Get more news on where Caroline will be appearing in the future at http://www.carolinemunro.org/
Find out what Emily's up to next at http://www.emilybooth.co.uk/
You can also follow these links for IMDb entries for Damien Thomas, Caroline Munro and Emily Booth.