FANTASTIQ III – the 3rd Festival of Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Horror
Presented by Reel Solutions at Derby QUAD, May 8-10 2015
“Build it and he will come.”
Okay, so that’s a cheesy quote from a baseball movie. But it’s appropriate when thinking of the third edition of FANTASTIQ, which proved to be a hit with delegates and guests alike.
Held for the third year running at the three-screen complex that is Derby QUAD, FANTASTIQ delivered an eclectic programme of new features and old, documentaries and guests in the form of Hammer veteran Peter Sasdy, Britpack favourite Jake West plus, via Skype, documentary maker David Gregory from Severin Films and, in an unexpected and thrilling addition, cult director Richard Stanley.
Sasdy, soon to celebrate his 80th birthday, is the Hungarian émigré who made a big impact on British TV in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, so much so that he was snapped up by Hammer Films to direct their 1970 offering Taste the Blood of Dracula.
Sasdy brought intelligence and discipline to Hammer’s output. And he spoke about a career that included such gems as Countess Dracula and the BBC’s The Stone Tape (from a complex script by Nigel Kneale) in a revealing and amusing interview.
At the close of the Q&A Sasdy was surprised and delighted to accept the inaugural Fantastiq Fellowship – a new award to recognise those individuals who have made an impact within the genres of fantasy, sci-fi and horror. Sasdy bestrode all three in a career that spanned five decades.
FANTASTIQ paid tribute to Sasdy with three screenings: Nothing But the Night (on 35mm, somewhat pink but still great to see), The Stone Tape (which was followed by a round of applause and later much discussion in the bar) and Sasdy’s personal favourite, Hammer’s Hands of the Ripper.
Jake West parachuted into the festival after another planned guest cancelled at the last minute. The man behind Razor Blade Smile, Evil Aliens and Doghouse revealed himself to be a funny and eloquent commentator on the state on the film industry as well as a lover of the genre.
Recent projects have included two documentaries on censorship and the video nasty crackdown of the 1980s, and West was candid about the issues facing filmmakers both ten and now. Delegates responded to his revelations about his own struggles with the BBFC.
The interview, which was conducted by Derby writer, director and producer Dominic Burns, proved to be hugely popular, not least because of the rapport between moderator and guest.
The big surprise of the weekend was the appearance – on screen – of Richard Stanley, director of the aborted The Island of Dr Moreau. A real horror story on set and off, the film proved to be the undoing of Stanley, who had made such an impact with his debut Hardware and follow-up Dust Devil.
In David Gregory’s documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Dr. Moreau Stanley is one of those who charts the voyage of the film through choppy waters and, ultimately, to John Frankenheimer, the filmmaker who took over.
The film speaks to cast, crew and sundry other interested parties who paint a portrait of director struggling with a perfect storm of problems including inclement weather and rampant star egos.
And it lays to rest the urban legend that Stanley, having been fired from the production, returned to view another director making his film whilst under heavy disguise as a dog-man on the set. Urban legend is revealed to be truth. And truth is most certainly stranger than fiction…
Perhaps the best moment came when Stanley revealed that he was working on resurrecting The Island of Dr Moreau. The film may yet be made – and with Stanley himself at the helm. As the saying goes: watch this space…
Alongside Lost Soul other premieres and previews included Steve Lawson’s Survival Instinct, Mark Netter’s Nightmare Code, Jacob Ennis’ Kill, Granny, Kill, Ana Lily Amirpour’s A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, Jonas Alexander Arnby’s When Animals Dream and, from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Spring.
Archive screenings included David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone and Tobe Hooper’s The Mangler, both provided by Reel Solutions, and Ninja III: The Domination, presented as a counterpoint to Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films.
Early birds were also able to take in a guest appearance by Jenny Agutter, who took the sting out of election night by joining in Derby Film Festival on Thursday, May 7, to discuss her career.Astonishingly this ageless English rose – star of Walkabout, An American Werewolf in London and Logan’s Run, all screened during DFF – has been in films for more than half a century.
FANTASTIQ played a very rarely seen film from the Agutter canon, the subversive and creepy I Start Counting. Her Q&A with Tony Earnshaw covered everything from early breakthroughs to new challenges as part of the Marvel series of superhero pictures. At the conclusion of her interview Jenny was presented with a Hero of Cinema award.
Dead or Alive: British Horror Films 1980 – 1989
Finally FANTASTIQ was delighted to host the launch of the second book of reviews edited by guest programmer Darrell Buxton, who followed up The Shrieking Sixties with Dead or Alive: British Horror Films 1980 – 1989. The launch was accompanied by a screening of Hellbound: Hellraiser II, starring Kenneth Cranham, whose face appears on the cover of the new book.
The Fans and the Future
Fans raved about FANTASTIQ III calling it “a magnificent weekend” and “a great event”. If you missed it then make sure you make a space in your diary for 2016. We’ll be announcing our dates soon.
FANTASTIQ – Putting the “Grand” in Guignol.
Tony Earnshaw, Adam Marsh, Peter Munford, Dominic Burns, Darrell Buxton and the technical wizards of the QUAD projection team.
Report by Tony Earnshaw, Co-Director, FANTASTIQ firstname.lastname@example.org