the full News Pages every month in Shivers
Issue 53 Published May 1998
The latter four days of February found me in Portugal for Fantasporto, the 18th Festival Internacional de Cinema Do Porto. Festival organizers Mario Dorminsky and Beatriz Pacheco Pereira always attend Fantasm at the NFT every July and I felt I should really return the favour after last being there in 1994 when I was on the Critics Jury. Plus I wanted to see the uncut version of Alex de la Iglesia's Perdita Durango. The Day of the Beast director's semi-Fantasy sequel to Wild at Heart didn't disappoint either as you will find out if you read my full-length review in the latest Starburst. Fantasporto is such a great little Festival. If any of you out there feel you want to join the Festival circuit as an interested punter, Fantasporto is probably the best way to start out. It's not too big an event so you're intimidated by the scale - unlike Sitges, the guests are all approachable, mainly because of the way the screenings are structured, and you can see at least three new releases a day, not to mention an exhausting selection of retrospective Fantasy which this year encompassed the uncensored work of Paul Naschy. Peter Jackson and Lucio Fulci.
I went straight from Fantasporto to Budapest to report on Dario Argento's The Phantom of the Opera starring Julian Sands, Asia Argento, Andrea Di Stefano and Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni. An interview with Dario about his latest Gaston Leroux remake will appear within these pages soon, but in the meantime I must say the whole project looks very interesting indeed. It will be the first time in screen history the Phantom doesn't wear a mask and the first Argento film to feature sensual romance and ironic humour. Thank Repulsion/The Tenant writer Gerard Brach for that who, with Argento, has crafted a gripping account of the subterranean Svengali wanting to make the love of his life, Christine Daae, a fully-fledged opera diva no matter who gets in his way. I saw Argento filming the Phantom's dream sequence - a Ken Russell-style nightmare of deformed humans caught in giant rat traps and near-nude Christine held hostage in a giant spider web - and some startling scenes in the Phantom's stunning underground lair designed by Dellamorte Dellamore's Antonello Geleng. It's Argento's most expensive film ever and its the one the Italian public begged him to make after telling him so in a national cinema survey.
The bad news is that director Russell Mulcahy has excised my role as the King of Egypt from Talos the Mummy. The good news is that you won't have to lie about my performance when we premiere it at Fantasm this year. I wasn't surprised I didn't make the final print to tell the truth and I said as much in my recent Shivers feature. Russell told me that every time he showed the rough cut, people said 'What's that bald English bloke in a frock doing there?' So it became clear my days were numbered. Well, as I told the man responsible for ruining my acting career, I've been on worse floors than the cutting room one!
Samuelson on Science Fiction
Marc and Peter Samuelson, producers of Wilde, are finally pushing ahead with their long mooted genre items. Jonathan Hales, writer of the latest Star Wars adventure, has been signed to script Roofworld, a futuristic Fantasy that Samuelson Productions will co-produce with Granada Film. They've also signed a deal with Scottish Television Enterprises and Australia's Total Film and TV to develop and co-produce projects based on famed SF novelist John Wyndham's entire catalogue of books and short stories which the Samuelsons have under option. Village of the Damned and The Day of the Triffids are two past Wyndham based movies. The first projects under this pact are likely to be a TV series of The Kraken Wakes and a feature version of Web.