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Classic Horror Campaign: London Horror Scene

written by: Etienne Vasquez (THT London)

One of the benefits of living in London has been the increased exposure to the British Horror movie scene. In early November of last year, a friend recommended that I catch a screening of Vampire Circus in London that was taking place in April of the following year. Without question, I put it in the calendar and when the time came, I showed up to an intimate setting at the back of the Roxy Bar down by London Bridge. The event was sponsored by Rick Gladman, founder of the “Classic Horror Campaign” here in the UK. The screening included Vampire Circus, a 70’s Hammer Film classic and Night of the Demon (1957). I enjoyed the screening so much that I eagerly looked forward to watching the next double bill. I was also intrigued by the campaign and I began to think of ways in which I could lend my support.

Thankfully after a few months, I had the pleasure of attending another double bill at the Roxy to see “Cat People” and “Scream and Scream Again,” two films that were both interesting and bizarre (check below for trailer). Before the screening, Rick was kind enough to give me a few minutes of his time to discuss the campaign, the support process, and also touch on some interesting thoughts about the horror genre.

 Etienne: Talk about the campaign a bit. How did the campaign start and where does the inspiration to get this started come from?

Rick: Well, the whole inspiration, the whole thing was the initial BBC 2 Horror Double Bills back in the 70s and 80s where there used to be mainly really old films, black and white films first. They used to start them around 10 at night, sometimes a bit later, so kids would often stay up to watch them. Then they’d have a little gap, and they would have a Hammer Film, and Amacus, and sometimes a lot of American 70s exploitation films. George Romero’s The Crazies was filmed one year. Stuff I used to read in horror magazines, and I thought, yeah I’m staying up to watch that. Kids used to watch it with their families a lot and when you got older, you’d stay up to watch the later ones. But every summer we’d look forward to what’s going to be on the BBC 2 Horror Double Bill season. And then one year, it just wasn’t on, they had no advertisements and I’m like, what’s going on? And it just disappeared and didn’t come back.

I find now that the way television is…if they’re going to show a horror film, it’s some junk from the last 10 years. Just some mainstream, crap. It’s not that I don’t like modern horror films, but most of them are pretty rubbish in my opinion. But there’s just nothing on. It’s almost as if they’re trying to negate that anything even exists, if you know what I mean. Not just in horror films, but television in general. It’s all about crappy reality programs or films that have been out in the last 10 years and are in color…

Etienne: So perhaps a lot of history is being lost?

Rick: It’s about nostalgia, its about cultural history, it’s about our film heritage – especially since a lot of the films were British. It’s also about introducing a younger generation to these films. Part of it is raising awareness. We have a petition that we want to present to the BBC once we hit 2,000 signatures.

Etienne: You guys are close now? Last time I checked you were at 1,600 signatures.

Rick: Yeah, it’s actually really heading up now. So when we do that we’re going to do some big publicity thing, we don’t know what yet, maybe a big flash mob maybe? Present the petition, get some publicity. Now it appears that Eileen is quite happy to take part, Emily as well, so it seems we’ve got the celebrities on board. It helps.

Eileen – http://www.eileendaly.net/newsite/index.html

Emily – http://www.emilybooth.co.uk/


Etienne: Now that you’re getting this support, and the ball’s really starting to roll, where do you envision this going? Aside of course from the immediate goal of getting the double bill back on BBC 2.

Rick: Well yes, that is the ultimate goal. I think where its heading now is more screenings around the country. We’re doing Manchester next week and Brighton in August. I think then its working on arranging some type of larger festival, but one that’s based around classic horror films, which for us is anything from the silents to the 1980s. I do have a cutoff, in my tastes I don’t, but in the context of the Classic Horror Campaign, you have to cut it somewhere. And the website (http://www.classichorrorcampaign.com/) as well, its starting to get more and more popular and we’re trying to do an A-Z of every classic horror film ever reviewed. We’re getting different bloggers and writers sending us their reviews for free, you know, of different classic horror films and we post them and keep them on our database

Etienne: How are you getting access to these libraries of classic horror films? Is it just from personal collections?

Rick: Yes, to a degree. We have a guy who’s on the technical side who deals with that really. He also sources the rights and approaches companies to find out whether they need us to pay. There are fees, but then a lot of companies either dont respond or they just say, “just go for it” cause they get publicity for it I guess.

Etienne: Great. Well for people who are reading this, what can they start doing to help support or continue to support the campaign?

Rick: Thank you, good question. Very important – sign the petition. It’s online, it’s free, so sign the petition. But also, email the BBC. That is so important. I don’t know, see I can’t get the feedback to find out how many people have already offered to do this, but we are trying to push people to do that. If the BBC is suddently inundated with tons of emails, they might say, “Maybe there is something behind this.” Some people have already gone ahead and done this, but it needs to be bigger. Email the BBC, go on to their website, find different email addresses.

Etienne: And of course continue to come to the screenings.

Rick: Yes, come to the screenings. Please come to the screenings. If people don’t come, we can’t afford to do them and that’s a bit sad.

Be sure to Check out The Classic Horror Movie Campaign website at www.classichorrorcampaign.com 

Some fun questions:

Etienne: How did you get introduced to the world of horror? You’re clearly a big fan of the genre with a lot of knowledge about it.

Rick: I think, when I was a kid, like really little, probably local cinema. The first film I can remember being taken to see was the re-release of Snow White, the Disney movie. It was the horror aspect of it, the imagery that appealed to me. So I think it was actually Disney films initially. But also trailers they used to show in between even the kids films, they used to show the Hammer films – grown up films, whatever was out, quite nasty films, and I’d be intrigued by the trailers. And then it was definitely the BBC, not just their late night horror double bills, but they used to do things earlier in the evening like classic sci-fi monster films. So I guess monster films on the tele, on tv, and then I was allowed to buy horror comics and the magazines and I started reading about it and I became more and more knowledgeable. It became somewhat of an obsession, it was fun.

Etienne: Any favorites?

Rick: Vampire Circus. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire_Circus), which is what we screened last time. That is an ultimate, absolute favorite of mine. But I also like some of the newer stuff, I say newer but…I love the Friday the 13th films. I love them, I absolutely love them. Umm, Freddy Krueger, they’re really great films, especially Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, number 7 I think?  Really good film, very clever. Stuff like that I like. I do love the Cat People, which is a really weird film.

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