When the BFI (British Film Institute) announced last year perhaps their most substantial project to date for the Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film four month-long event, the reaction of many of us in the horror community was of deliciously delirious anticipation. The ambitious programme was to begin with a Gothic film festival which would merely be the curtain-raiser for their project which would eventually include the release of some 150 titles and around 1,000 screenings across the UK from August 2013 to January 2014 - and every single one of them was to be Gothic related. Not only was the size of the programme seductively enticing, so was the range of the titles that were going to be made available.
So apart from the expected and more established offerings going to be made such as the world premiere of the digital re-mastering of Night Of The Demon (1957) and iconic Gothic releases such as Hammer Horror’s Dracula (1958)starring a certain Christopher Lee - In addition there would be cinematic and DVD releases of rare and long forgotten Gothic related productions. Many of these releases were not only being re-mastered, but there would be some titles that would not have seen the light of day in some cases since their original showing in the cinema or transmission on television.
It was quite simply, the most exciting announcement of the year - well that is if you don't count the news of the new supermarket opening on the edge of the nearest town a few miles away (I live in the sticks, you see), and THAT was big news!
To say the Gothic: The Dark Heart of Film was something of a success would be a calamitous understatement. It was a veritable triumph, not just for the BFI, but also (though admittedly in a much smaller way) for this blog, giving me the chance to view and review on some classic examples of Gothic Cinema and television. The Scary Stories collection from the Children's Film Foundation, the simply stunning 1970 Play for Today entry - Robin Redbreast and the legendary 1972 series Dead of Night and Classic Ghost Stories by M R James (1986) were three bog articles I had the pleasure to view once again and write about. Just click on any of those titles in order to take you straight to the article, even better, go out and buy them and believe me you will not regret it.
Due the the very success of the Gothic season the BFI recently made an announcement that excited and thrilled this blogger's (old enough to know better) heart when it was stated another project would run this year. This time the genre of science fiction would be giving the same lavish treatment that Gothic horror had received last year........ be still my beating heart and breathe Stuey, breathe.
The full details have yet to be released by the BFI. On Thursday 17 July at BFI Southbank, Heather Stewart, BFI Creative Direct, will unveil the programme for the project entitled “Sci-fi: Days of Fear and Wonder”. In addition, we have been promised that the unveiling will also be accompanied by some very special guests. (Start placing you guesses as to who they might be, here)
Presented in cinemas and online on BFI Player, and in partnership across the UK with the BFI’s Film Audience Network, the project will feature over one hundred film and television titles, plus spectacular events, must-see film and DVD releases, extra special guests and much more. If that wasn't enough then surely the promise that the launch will be followed by Space Age snacks and refreshments in the Blue Room will be more than enough to entice you. Well it worked for me.
Bring your blanket, chair.....or bed
What we do know is that a sci-fi film spectacular in the grounds of the British Museum in London on the August bank holiday weekend will provide the curtain-raiser for the Sci-fi: Days of Fear and Wonder season.
In total, three science fiction movies will be shown at the open-air venue on successive evenings of the 28th to the 30th of August. The films will be; The 1976 classic of The Man Who Fell to Earth which features a mesmerising performance from David Bowie, the fabulous post-apocalyptic The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), together with a never before seen restoration specially done for the screening and finally, a new digital transfer of the classic Flash Gordon (1980). Yes we know that Gordon's alive, Brian Blessed.
Once again, we are assured that, each screening will be accompanied by special guests and an assortment of activities.
"Hey mate, the satnav is broken. Any idea how we get to the BFI at Southbank?"
As was the case for last year's Gothic season, the initial screenings are merely the prelude to the main Sci-fi: Days of Fear and Wonder project, which I believe will run nationwide in October through December. It promises again to be an outstanding film season in cinemas, online on the BFI Player and on disc, with more than 100 film and TV titles to be presented in partnership with the BFI’s Film Audience Network. I for one simply cannot wait to get viewing and reviewing this gaggle of beauties!!
Watch this space for regular updates, news and reviews of the project. If you decide not to watch this space and try to avoid this blog, or the plethora of social networks affiliated to it, I will still find you. Oh and by the way, I've been sent an Invitation to the press launch of BFI SCI-FI: DAYS OF FEAR AND WONDER on the 17th July- I know, get me.