Graham Nicholls TV Film Review Slot, Monday mornings Just after 9 am.
This is the spookiest week of the year and that’s reflected in the top films on TV, though none of them mentions the word ‘Halloween’.
Tonight (Monday) we have George A Romero’s very first zombie movie, Night of the Living Dead (9.00pm, Horror), a black and while nightmare that spawned a generation of imitators. This one is still not for the squeamish, despite the primitive special effects (and acting).
Wake In Fright (Weds, 11.15pm, Film4) was made in Australia in 1970 and has a curious history. It is a violent and nightmarish story of a rather weak English teacher who falls in among rough, tough outback folk when school breaks up for the summer. He is unlikely to be telling what he did in his holidays. There is a Halloween link: Donald Pleasance is in the cast. After its opening run the film languished more or less forgotten (although it did win awards) until a restored print was shown at Cannes in 2009, at which point various people proclaimed it the best Australian film ever made. Check for yourselves on Wednesday night. It is also the last film of Australia’s then most famous actor, Chips Rafferty and features a very nasty kangaroo hunt-don’t look, Skippy.
Two other distinguished curios this week are The Witchfinder General (Sunday, 12.10am, BBC2), with Vincent Price as a corrupt, travelling judge in Cromwell’s England, taking sadistic pleasure in rooting out witchcraft. The film was made by 24 year old Michael Reeves who clashed with Price during its making. The latter had the grace to concede afterwards that Reeves had been right. Reeves’ promising career was cut short when he died the following year.
There are some films that are so perverse that they adversely affect a director’s career and Eyes Without a Face (Sunday, 12.40am, Film4) did that for French director Georges Franju. This is a stylish but nasty story told skilfully and poetically by Franju.
Other nail-biters this week are Duel (Thurs, 1.00pm, Horror), Donnie Darko (Friday. 9.00pm, Horror), The Devil Rides Out (Sunday, 6.40pm, Horror) and The Fly (Sunday, 12.45am, Movie Mix).
For those of a nervous disposition there are plenty of other excellent offerings:
Nigel Hawthorne in The Madness of King George (Mon, 6.45pm, Film4), Carol Reed’s wartime flagwaver, The Way Ahead (Mon, 7.30pm, Talking Pictures), Benedict Cumberpatch in The Imitation Game (Weds, 9.00pm, Film4), a loose biography of Alan Turing, two contrasting Hitchcocks; his only comedy, Mr and Mrs Smith (Saturday, 8.00am, BBC2) and the film which is often rated as one of the greatest of all time, Vertigo (Saturday, 2.00pm, BBC2). There’s also a treat for reggae fans, Jimmy Cliff in the Jamaican thriller The Harder They Come (Saturday, 10.30pm, BBC2), whose wall to wall reggae score was said to have been significant in bringing the music to a wider audience.
Locally in the independent and non-commercial film venues, on Thursday evening there’s a hugely enjoyable comedy horror film Tremors, at Scothern village hall on Friday evening you can see Brooklyn, as part of the Flix in the Stix programme, on Wednesday at The Venue there’s the most recent Woody Allen film, Café Society, on Friday at Lincoln Film Society there’s Sherpa, a documentary about the culture of the Sherpa Himalayan mountain guides, their misuse by wealthy westerners filmed in the aftermath of the avalanche disasters in 2014 but, best of all, at the Drill Hall on Friday at 2.00pm there’s a Spanish film, ‘The Spirit of the Beehive’, a captivating story set in Spain during the years immediately after the civil war when the fascist victors were still hunting down the defeated republicans. Made while Franco was still in power and when censorship was rigorously enforced, the film takes an allegorical look at historical events through the eyes of the wonderful, seven year-old Ana Torrent. The film is shown as a complement to the lunchtime literary talk by Dr Jane Mackay on Frankenstein (you will see the connection if you watch the film).