Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Eight Years A Blogger

Yes, it was eight years ago today that I decided, very spur of the moment, to launch this blog. I still post things here, although I now have another blog (Pause. Rewind. Obsess. II) where I tend to post my free-floating ideas and responses to the movies and other programming I watch... primarily because I much prefer the template I have over there to this one, which I don't feel right about changing. Besides, as a Gemini, it somehow makes sense to be running two blogs at once. Blogger tells me that Video WatchBlog has chalked up... well, this will be the 1,060th posting. That still averages out to 132.5 postings per year, so my overall average isn't that bad, especially with everything else that's been going on. Even so, I'll try to do better.

Due to circumstances beyond my control, Video WatchBlog seems to have become a kind of obituary blog this year. I need to discourage this tendency because people then look to me for formal acknowledgements of the passings of numerous worthy luminaries, and I don't always have enough time to balance my surplus of heart. Hammer's Anthony Hinds recently passed away and, although I wasn't able to write something appropriate here at that time, Constantine Nasr has agreed to write a eulogy for the next issue of VIDEO WATCHDOG. It was also terrible news to hear of the death of that charismatic Italian actor Giuliano Gemma at age 75, as the result of a head-on traffic collision. Less than an hour ago, I learned from a friend of the passing of Diana Harryhausen, since 1963 the wife of animation legend Ray Harryhausen, who passed away just five months ago.

Just yesterday, the news came of the death of Philip Nutman -- novelist, screenwriter, journalist and FANGORIA foreign correspondent -- at the age of 50. I didn't know Phil well -- when you love the same things and produce work in a similar vein, it's almost like there's no need; you know you've got each other's back. What people like that do well together is socialize, and we never had that opportunity. But we were friendly acquaintances for a long time; every few years, Phil would call the office and we'd catch up; he would regale me with stories of his adventures in the film trade in that funny, larger-than-life, almost Australian cardsharp's voice of his. I remember him telling me about years that were wasted trying to get a film together with members of The Doors. I thought of Phil first when Ray Manzarek died. When he joined FB, I hoped it would be an opportunity to stay in closer touch with Phil, but his behavior was taking erratic turns and I finally just minded my own business. A talented man. I'm just so sad that he wasn't looking out for his own best interests. If you were a friend of Phil or a fan of his work, please make whatever contribution you can manage to his funeral fund.  

Things here at the homefront have been extremely busy, engrossing and promising. Donna has been deeply engrossed in a project concerning VIDEO WATCHDOG whose details we hope to be sharing with you very soon. In the meantime, I have been supplementing my time with scripting and recording audio commentaries for various upcoming Blu-ray and DVD releases. I was recently engaged by the BFI (British Film Institute) to record commentaries for five Alain Robbe-Grillet films they have licensed, beginning with TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS (1966) and SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS OF PLEASURE (1974), which were first announced for this December but which I now hear may be slightly postponed. The other three titles have yet to be announced. I've also agreed to record two commentaries for Britain's Arrow Films: Roger Corman's PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1962) and Robert Fuest's DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972), which should surface sometime before next Spring. I've already recorded the commentary for SUCCESSIVE SLIDINGS and will be recording TRANS-EUROP-EXPRESS very soon; Robbe-Grillet was one of the writers whose work and example persuaded me to become a novelist, so it was a great honor to be invited to speak at length about his films, which has given me permission to delve back into his books and also into some of the fine books written about him. The strange thing about this assignment is how much I feel that the liner notes I wrote for the Redemption Jean Rollin discs, and the commentaries I recorded for their Jess Franco titles (especially NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT) and for Kino Lorber's recent disc of Mario Bava's FIVE DOLLS FOR AN AUGUST MOON prepared me for it. There is a continuity with all this work I think you'll find surprising and interesting.

Beyond that, I've also contributed to a couple of books now newly on the market: the BFI Companion book GOTHIC: THE DARK HEART OF FILM, to which I contributed two pages on Italian Gothic cinema; and John Szpunar's account of the diabolic side of desktop publishing, XEROX FEROX: THE WILD WORLD OF THE HORROR FILM FANZINE, which includes a lengthy new interview with me about VIDEO WATCHDOG and our 23-year publishing history.

But the most exciting news concerns a certain screenplay of mine, which is finally moving forward and should be going into production next spring. 


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