A Return To Classic Horror: A Chat With Cyberschizoid

21/09/2010 at 9:34 pm (Childhood, Movies, TV)

While I refer to “advRick Gladmanentures in the modern world”, more often than not, the ties to the past are just as important. I have realised that I do compare an awful lot of the past with the present. This is certainly true of how I view television. When I grew up, BBC2 would show a double bill of classic horror movies. The likes of Hammer and Universal built my staple diet of late night entertainment and scares.

So when Rick Gladman (of the Cyberschizoid blog) set up a campaign to reinstate the classic horror movies of bygone days into the current TV schedules, my interest piqued considerably. Currently, the petition is pretty successful, and it seems that the British public wants to see classic chillers once more.

This seemed like a good opportunity to talk to Rick about this campaign, and how it was shaping up. One thing that always fascinates me when it comes to interests, or even obsessions, is the initial spark. Why do we love what we love so much, and other things don’t even scratch the surface?

My first memories of loving the darker side of movies actually began with Disney’s productions of Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and the Night on Bald Mountain segment from Fantasia,“ Rick told me. “All of these animated movies included strong horror elements which had a massive influence on me as a child.”

The fascination for this darker side grew, and young Rick began his steps into horror through the realm of the Monster Movie. “I was taken to see King Kong, The Land That Time Forgot and The Giant Spider Invasion as well as reading the seminal monster movie magazine House of Hammer, which all fed my ever-growing love of horror. The icing on the cake was BBC2’s Horror Double Bill seasons every summer which introduced me to an incredible variety of horror films and directors over the years.”

Which takes us to the present, the snowballing success of the petition, and a need to return to those late night horrors. I do remember talking to Rick about this a long time ago it seems now, and how great it would be to have those nights set aside for a classic double bill. It certainly seems that we weren’t the only ones!

We now have 1027 signatures and this figure is rising daily.” he affirmed. “This is particularly exciting since we’d set o urselves a target of 1000 names by Halloween, and we have already surpassed this.” This is an interesting development. In a world that seems to only offer re-hashed versions of original ideas – with varying degrees of success – the initial feeling is that no one is interested in watching anything over 10 years old.

So why horror? And why now? “I think it’s partly due to the fact that people are becoming sick of all the bland remakes and lack of originality in mainstream horror.” It’s true – over the last decade, the horror genre has been swamped with a litany of tried and tested projects.

He added, “the only horror movies shown on UK TV are very recent ones that everyone’s seen over and over again and are just bored with! I think screening old classic horror movies in primetime will not only give viewers more choice and better quality films, but will also introduce these movies to a whole new, younger generation who probably aren’t even aware that this cultural legacy even exists.”

This project has also gained recognition with a variety of names supporting the cause to get classic horror back on TV. “We’ve got some fantastic names involved. British Scream Queen Emily Booth is the face of the campaign and we have had messages of support from Hammer sex symbol Caroline Munro, Shane Briant, Eileen Daly, Reece Shearsmith, David Moody, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman.” And it doesn’t stop there; along with the support of horror’s online community, the three key horror magazines of the UK, Gorezone, Shock Horror and Scream are also on board.

In an age of DVDs and on-demand downloads, we can watch whatever we like, when we like. But I believe, as I’m sure that Ri ck and his petition signatories do too, that there’s nothing better than making a night of it. This could be the start of a whole new tradition with your friends, your family or that one special person, settling down for a night of chills and a creaky old horror movie…
If you want to find out more, or get involved yourself, you can find the petition to bring back classic horror here.  You can also follow Rick on Twitter at www.twitter.com/cyberschizoid


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TV and my childhood: The scary to the just plain weird.

11/07/2010 at 9:24 pm (Animation, Childhood, TV, YouTube)

Mr Noseybonk came up in conversation the other day.

Some of us, of a certain generation, growing up in the UK remember Mr Noseybonk; a sinister figure that pressed his way in between the skits and sketches of the BBC kid’s show, Jigsaw. Jigsaw was a fairly innocuous affair involving puzzles and games, but when Mr Noseybonk came on screen the heavens seemed to darken as a chill filled the air.

When you think of things in adulthood that scare you, or rather unsettles you, these can normally be directed to a handful of snapshots of fear in your childhood. Of course I don’t mean the tangible grown up fears, but the subconscious terrors that reside in the recesses of your psyche. Still. You weirdo.

Noseybonk works very much like any circus clown, and you knew that the programme makers thought, “this is a fun character with a silly face, kids will love seeing him going around doing silly things.” Do you know something? Some kids don’t. It’s just a few degrees from comedy to skin crawling horror.

Another thing that I remember as a child is the filler slot, normally on BBC2. If a show ran short, or there was a delay until the next show (yup, this stuff actually happened), there would be a short film poured into the gap. As a rule, these would include experimental short films, often animated, and usually Polish.

Having a look on YouTube for an example for this post, it didn’t disappoint. Please, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the importance of artistic experimentation, and these films would have been important to develop the industry. But when you’re 11 years old, having your beans on toast and killing time before Monkey, you might find your jaw drop to this:

TV used to be a random, unexpected place, and I do think it’s affected my outlook of the world around me. Television programmes are so different now. Well, some. Total Wipeout is It’s A Knockout without the big, silly costumes, and Britain’s Got Talent is Opportunity Knocks with on a bigger stage. We’re told that viewers are more sophisticated now. I’m really not so sure.

Imagine the chaos before a planet forms, then coalesces into a solid shape that’s stable and secure. We have that kind of TV n the UK now.

The chaos could be creepy, but it certainly wasn’t dull.

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