Hammer Fest at the Monster Bash 2014 Part 2
As day 1 came to a close there was still plenty of fun to be had. Actress Elizabeth Shepherd was appearing following a viewing of The Tomb of Ligeia.
She was happy to talk about the production and working with Vincent. She felt he was underrated as all of his fans believe. I include myself in that number. She shared the details behind her demise in the Omen II and how the scenes with the bird that does her in were filmed. I was glad to hear she felt William Holden was a joy to work with and that he was so at home on the screen.
Then it was time to sit in and watch an early Bela Lugosi film from Hammer Productions that was filmed in 1935. The print we were treated to was titled The Phantom Ship. This was the North American title. It was originally released in England under The Mystery of the Mary Celeste. Other than Bela’s silent films this is one of his few talkies I hadn’t seen. Hats off to Bela here. He was very good. It’s too bad the film didn’t have a tighter script and a larger budget. It had it’s moments.
The last interview of the day was with beautiful Veronica Carlson.
She talked of Lee and Dracula Has Risen From the Grave and working with Dear Peter Cushing on two films. The superior Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed and years later on The Ghoul. She called him an “old world gentleman.” At one point she was moved to tears while talking of her fond memories of working with him and how he was wonderful with his props not to mention how he handled the “rape” scene they were forced by the studio to film against Terence Fisher’s wishes.
She pointed out how much he dearly loved his wife Helen and how her death affected him in the years after. Then she went on to talk of working with David Niven and having Roger Moore drop by the Hammer sets.
The night for me ended with some music from the house band. I couldn’t hang in for the late night Mexican horror movie. Eyelids were getting heavy.
On to day 2.
I finally made it into the vendor’s room and got lost in my hobby of collecting all things to do with movies. Dvd’s, film posters, film books and whatever else can be associated to film history. Then back for more things Hammer in the screening room.
The 1964 film The Gorgon with Cushing and Lee. I have always loved this flick and it has the added bonus of a great performance from Barbara Shelley. Once again Hammer uses those wonderful sets giving their films such an expensive look. They knew how to make the best of their small budgets.
To lighten the mood for those who were interested we were treated to an episode of F Troop starring series regulars Larry Storch and Forrest Tucker. This episode featured the talents of Vincent Price as a supposed vampire in the old west.
Our next leading lady to take the stage was the energetic Suzanna Leigh. She had plenty to say from her early days and how she approached her Godmother Vivien Leigh telling her of her desire to become an actress. How she chased down Hal Wallis to get a Paramount contract. This led her to co-starring opposite Elvis in Paradise Hawaiian Style of which she shared her amusing story of meeting the King.
She talked of Thelma Ritter giving her guidance by example while working on Boeing Boeing. Tony Curtis she liked but the less said about co star Jerry Lewis the better. She enjoyed doing The Lost Continent for Hammer and missed her chance to work with Peter Cushing when he was forced to pull out of Lust for a Vampire due to his wife`s passing. And as for dancing, she sure seemed to be ready to party when the house band was cranking out the sixties tunes the night before.
For a lot of fun one should watch The Tingler with a crowd of classic horror fans. Vincent Price in a William Castle film where the Tingler is loose in a movie theater. Scream! Scream for your lives.
I do believe the highlight of the weekend for me of the events I attended was to sit in on a one hour session with Victoria Price. Through videos and slides she took us through the course of her beloved fathers life and career.
Apparently she started to do this show in 2011 and I am glad to have taken part in seeing it. Highly recommended for people who love the life and career of the one actor who always seemed to be having fun more than any other. Listening to how he lived his life really makes you want to spread your own wings and do as much as you can in the time we have. Hats off to daughter Victoria for putting this together and at the same time allow us to see both his strengths and faults. She brought a zest and enthusiasm with her that seems to have been channeled through her famous father.
I ended my weekend here despite more films to attend on Sunday but it was time to get back home to Canada. Glad I went and at the same time wish more people could say the same. It seemed to be a rather small crowd.