Just before I started work on this PhD project I was told by several experts in the field that there simply wasn\’t any material left to be uncovered on Exclusive. Hammer researchers (remember of course that Hammer Films is the sister company and the two go hand in hand) felt that the well had been drained dry.
One of the reasons for doing the Exclusive project was that it allowed me to continue working with Hammer\’s output, but take me away from the horror films which seem to interest everyone else, and which I\’m not sure I have that much left to say about (well, I might…, but didn\’t want to study it academically for three years).
And yet, this month I\’ve taken a little side step and a week out of research fully to concentrate on one of Hammer\’s horror films, the rather brilliant 1958 version of Dracula.
I was approached a couple of months ago (via my supervisor) by someone from the Irish Film Institute as they were putting together a weekend of films on Dracula to tie in with Dublin City Council\’s One City One Book festival this year, which was all about Stoker\’s vampire novel. I\’ve been working with Hammer for a decade now in one form or another, so we soon got talking about plans.
Ultimately, rights costs and print sourcing problems prevented some of the proposed screenings, but Hammer\’s Dracula was screened from the new digital print, and the rather dull (and unrelated) Countess Dracula aired as well, alongside Nosferatu, the Lugosi Dracula, Blacula and more. I introduced the screening of Hammer\’s Dracula at the IFI, Saturday week ago. And it was woeful. I completely dried after being distracted by latecomers, shuffling, mobile phone noises, and a member of the audience who opted to wave his arms around at the wrong moment.
Frankly embarassing, and anyone who saw me there must wonder why I was asked at all.
Sunday morning was by contrast much better. There had been talk about doing some sort of talk or educational element, and I was keen to preserve this as the original organiser left for a new job. So, I put them in touch with the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies at Trinity, who in turn roped in Kim Newman for the proceedings. Alongside Kim, were vampiroligist Sorcha Ni Fhlainn, Stoker biographer Paul Murray, and chairing the whole thing was author and vampire expert Brian J Showers.
We sat down on a long table in the screen 2 at the IFI, and talked between ourselves for 90 minutes on Stoker\’s classic novel and the various film incarnations and vampire mythology. The session continued after the talk over lunch, and could easily have gone on longer. A rich, and stimulating discussion, which is far beyond my remit for the PhD but allowed a new slant to my existing research. Thankfully I was more coherant, more alert and considered in my responses than during my intro. Face saved… I hope!
I\’ve recorded the session, and a transcription will be made available in due course. If I can get the audio tweaked (as you can see from the photo, I\’m on the left, not quite on mic), we\’ll podcast it too.
I\’d happily do more of these, but we\’ll see…
I need to get down to writing, regardless of the state of my research now. I\’d been holding off putting too much into prose form until I\’d exhausted research in various areas, archives and so on. Potentially there\’s nothing worse than writing several thousand words crucial to your thesis and then go and discover you were completely wrong!
Ever since the economy started taking its nose dive the prospect of me supporting myself through the PhD has been harder and harder. It doesn\’t help that Trinity have some very rigid policies regarding the implementation of fines.
A slight distraction from actual writing, but I acquired a few new bits of visual material related to the project this week. Rather unexpectedly I got offered a set of stills from Perils of the Jungle which was an American b-movie from 1953 that Exclusive distributed in the UK. I\’ve not seen it yet myself, but a little thrill to see the Exclusive name on each of them. I\’ll add the images onto the website in due course along with the first batch of material for it.
A short interview this morning via phone with an actor from several Exclusive projects, with a follow up planned for a few weeks time after I\’ve sent some additional material their way.