Saturday, 25 October 2014

Fragments of Fear - A Multi Media Horror Series + Interview with Francoise Pascal

FIRSTLY - THE INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN BIT....

It's been another busy week here in the Fifth dimension secret bunker with a number of blog articles on the go - I know, I'm either a slave to my art or a self-serving superficial attention seeker.....probably both, methinks. There was however, one particular project which came my way this week that certainly peeked my interest (even more than my usual state of peeked interest - which to be honest is usually rather peeked, as it were). 

This increased peek came in two parts; firstly it concerned an Indiegogo crowd funding campaign for a horror related project, Fragments of Fear, which was particularly interesting for a number of reasons (more of that in a moment); secondly, it also gave me the chance to chat with an actress who appears in the said programme, and also just so happens to be one of the main formative influences on my teenage years, if you know what I mean.

To begin with though, I want to talk about Fragments of Fear. I have actually been intendin to run a piece on this project since It first came to my attention some while ago, but you know me, at times I have the attention span of a newt and so am easily distracted by any manner of shiny Sci-Fi & horror related material. As a result Fragments has been on my ever growing 'to do' list.....but now internet land, beware. I'm ready. 

The reason that I'm ready is because it's quite refreshing when something new & slightly different is being attempted when it comes to the horror genre. I don't know about you, but to be honest I'm feeling slightly jaded at times with the plethora of remakes, re-imaginings or whatever name you want to give something that at best lacks any sense of innovative creativity, at worst is a money grabbing franchise creating lazy piece of derivative tripe (yes, Wicker Man & Texas Chainsaw remakes, I'm looking right at you!). So a project that is trying to be fresh, innovative and making use of new writing ideas and talent within the horror genre can only be a good thing. 

My Facebook friend, Richard Gladman - yes, THE Richard Gladman, as in the 
editor of Space Monsters Magazine - quite possibly the finest sci-fi/horror themed magazine on the go in the UK today, is one of the team behind Fragments. They have recently began an Indiegogo campaign to raise the necessary funds required to make this project match their exciting and innovative plans.

You've got something on your face....no to the left...yep that's it
"Well that's ok, Stuey", I hear you say, "but you do actually need tell us what this Fragments of Fear thingamajig is all about". Well I'll leave it up to the producers to give you a brief synopsis of what It's all about.

"Fragments of Fear is a multi-platform project showcasing the best in contemporary horror from new and established writing talent. Over each episode, a series of other worldly narrators lead the viewer through tales of terror, horror and suspense, offering a dark and disturbing take on 'Story Time' meets 'Tales from the Crypt'.

Guest starring Caroline Munro (The Spy Who Loved Me, Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Maniac, Dracula AD 1972, The Last Horror Film), Francoise Pascal (The Iron Rose, Burke & Hare, Incense for the Damned, Mind your Language) Dani Thompson (Serial Kaller, Axe to Grind, Convention of the Dead) and Billy Chainsaw (Cry Wolf, Strippers vs Werewolves, Frightfest TV)  our objective is to create a multi-platform experience  in order to bring contemporary horror writing to a new audience"

I told you that it sounded good eh?

So what we have is not only a television broadcast featuring certain icons of film and TV , in addition each episode will become available for streaming on the Fragments of Fear website, providing a global audience reach.  According to Richard Gladman, Fragments Of Fear intends to help build an online community dedicated to all forms of creativity in the horror genre. This will centre around their website and forums, where like minded people will meet other writers, editors, composers, artists, actors, directors and producers. 

It is as much a social experiment in creativity and networking as it is an open source storytelling community. All the original assets for the show will be made available to their community, and the most outstanding work created will be fully championed by the Fragments team.

The ever gorgeous Caroline Munro
It is the producers hope that by providing a home for, and support from fans of story telling and horror, that they will enable amateurs and professionals alike to experiment, create and enjoy unique content that can evolve into something extraordinary. 

Through contributing to the campaign its hoped that people can help make real a genuinely innovative and exciting project. Filming has been taking place for some time on the first season season one, with over half of the stories filmed already. The team is now intent on completing the filming of the remaining episodes and investing in the all-important post production process.  The funding acquired through the Indiegogo campaign is also essential to creating the interactive website and ensuring that the project reaches its full potential.

There are a bundle of incentives and rewards for helping & contributing to this venture. To find out more then visit the Indiegogo crowd funding page for Fragments of Fear which can be found at RIGHT HERE

The Fragments of Fear Facebook page can go found RIGHT HERE 

If you you want to follow them on Twitter, well you can vie their handle at @FragmentsFear


SECONDLY - THE INTERVIEW WITH THE ACTRESS BIT........

I'll be honest, this whole Fragments project would have peeked my interest purely on its own merits. However, what well and truly sealed the deal was the knowledge that two of the guest stars of Fragments of Fear were a couple of women that achieved nothing short of cult status (and lived within the fantasies of untold men) as actresses since the 1970's. Of course I'm talking about the very lovely Caroline Munro & Francoise Pascal.

One of the highlights since beginning this blogging lark has been the chance to communicate directly with amy of the creative individuals involved. This week I was incredibly excited to be able to chat with a woman who played something of a central role in this teenage bloggers existence. - I'll leave it at that.....hopefully she doesn't find that thought too overwhelmingly creepy.

Francoise Pascal
So for those of you poor folk (especially the guys) who missed out on Francoise Pascal the first time around, here is a very brief synopsis of her career (borrowed in part, ok, in whole) from the piece on the Fragments of fear Indiegogo page) - and believe me, this following excerpt doesn't even come close to encapsulating this remarkable woman's life and career.

"The career of one of the most beguiling leading ladies has been an adventurous one that has taken her from being in the centre of Swinging London in the mid sixties, to cult status as a model and actress in the seventies. 
As well as starring in the hit UK sitcom Mind Your Language, Francoise co-starred with Peter Sellers in There’s a Girl in My Soup, appeared in classic horror films The Iron Rose, Burke & Hare and Incense For the Damned and spent two years in Hollywood on the daytime soap The Young & The Restless. She recently published her autobiography, As I Am, and is currently filming a BBC sitcom pilot."


Q) If it's ok with you, I 'd to talk just a little about a couple of things that you've done that readers of the Fifth Dimension might be interested in. To begin with just how did a young girl from the Island of Mauritius find her way into the entertainment industry of the swinging 60's?

A) Good question! Since I was a child I dreamed of being an actress and since childhood I played at make believe in front of a mirror. When I came to the UK I was 12 years old, there the opportunities presented itself and I knew that one day my dream will come true and it did. What I would do with that dream was up to me and no one else.

Q) The classic Incense for the Damned (1970) starring Peter Cushing had a notoriously troubled production before its release. Is it true you had a small part in a certain scene from it?

A) Yes. The film was very boring and the producers and Director had decided to spruce it up a bit. So they asked if I could help the film, I did not refuse. The most seen scene in a film was my scene and the film had no meaning really. The funniest moment is when I am stabbed at the end of the scene and then they cut to Cyprus with a girl dead on the rocks, she totally looked different from me. I could not stop laughing at the stupidity of the Director and producers, who think that people would not notice. They did and never underestimate the public.


Q) The movie, Burke & Hare (1971) is regarded amongst some as something now as a horror classic. What was the experience of filming in it?

A) It was when I was doing Incense for the Damned that Guido Cohen Twickenham Film Studio Executive saw me and said that he found his Marie in Burke & Hare. I loved filming the film but I was not very good in the film as it was my first real movie as the star of the film along with Derren Nesbitt, Yootha Joyce etc and the great characters in the film that had years and years of acting under their belts. I was so green. The one scene that I did where there was a fire in the brothel. I actually went through one in real life in 1971. So yes to me it was a frightening scene, as for being a horror, I think it was a funny historical film, I don't think Vernon Sewell, the Director  wanted to make a horror film as such, yes there were moments when you jump out of your chair but I did have a chuckle through the film though!


I think that the world you're looking for is 'yum'
Q) A particular favourite of your films for me is The Iron Rose (1973) - What are your memories of making that film and working with director Jean Rollin?

A) Ah now you are talking. A film that I am extremely proud of. I was not Rollin's original choice, I think he wanted Brigitte Lahaie to do it, matter of fact she had a small walk on part in the film.  This was to be the master piece of Rollin, he sank all his money in that film, I was not paid a lot as I accepted a pay cut but the script was good and besides it was MY film and I was determine to do the best of my acting ability.  I did and I loved working with Rollin. He did something to me that no other Director did, he WORKED with me not against my ideas and my imagination. He was always ready to listen to my ideas. I liked that in a Director.  Rollin was a visionary and his vision of La Rose de Fer was from a short story that he wrote years before and wanted to make it as a film. The story was called La Nuit du Cimetiere (The night of the Cemetery) roughly translated.  The actor who played opposite me did not like Rollin, hence I carried the film on my shoulders so I had to make good. I am particularly proud of the review I had. For example:
Nothing to see here....move along please.

'Key also is the performance of Francoise Pascal, who has a perfect enigmatic allure - as well as a perfect, highly desirable sexual presence - that believably conveys to us the dichotomy of her emotions. Believable as reluctant to enter the cemetery, we're equally drawn to her decision to make love to the boy not only in the crypt, but later in the open skull-and-bones pit. Why does she do it? Who knows? But Pascal's highly charged sensuality, nicely shaded by a tentative, hesitant fearfulness (epitomized by Rollins' smart move of costuming her in an innocent - and tempting - school girlish pleated tweed skirt) has impact enough to convince us that something, however inexplicable, is driving her on'.

Very proud of this and several more like it.


Q) Nowadays, The Iron Rose is seen as something of a gothic doom-ridden classic, yet it was critically mauled on release. Why do you think that is?

A) It was critically mauled when it was released because Rollin's audience did not expect a love story with a twist. They wanted gory, vampires etc. That is the reason. His critics were disappointed and yet they did not even see the film. They were told by others. Despicable really! I remember going to Paris with my then boyfriend Richard Johnson to the opening of the film. The boos that the film received was very disappointing for Rollin. His public did not want him to change. The poor man lost all his money in this film. I felt so sorry for him!


Q) How does it feel to know you were the object of many a young males fancies who saw you on screen?

A)  You know I cannot really believe it as I loved being famous but I never realised that I was the subject of many a young man. I was amazed when I was told by numerous fans these days that they owed me their teenage years. Unbelievable. What can I say.... I wasn't there but then I was in their sitting rooms every week on a Friday night. 

    
Q) What drew you to the Fragments of Fear project in the first place?

A) I did the Fragments of Fear to help my friend Richard Gladman who again like Rollin has a vision for his work. I love it when I meet visionaries, the Director on Fragments too had great vision how to film it! I enjoyed narrating and acting the words at the same time, it brought me to a different level of acting. Fab day filming Fragments.

Q) I've read you say that you're completely different in it - what do mean by this?

A) I am different because I act as a demented nun and as The Green Fairy. As I said before, it brought me a different level in acting. 


Q) Have you filmed any sections yet and if so, what was it like after not being in front of the camera for a little while?

A) It was just wonderful. I loved it. It felt like I never left it. Such great atmosphere on the set.  Also the crew were inspiring to me, it takes a happy film set to bring an actor to do their best.


Q) What does the future hold for Francoise Pascal?

A) Oh I don't know....I was just thinking before you asked me to do this interview that I don't really think the business want me any longer.  I feel like a use by date and my dates were passed in the 80s. I do have a film to do with Richard Gladman again called GIRLFORCE and a TV series called For the Love of Ella a six part series where I play a different role in every episode. I am looking forward to those works. I am despondent of today's programme on TV there are so many Reality shows and so little dramas and so many of us are out of work because of that. My future is bleak though. Then I look at it as being at an age that people do not really want to see an ageing actress of 65 parading like a 25 years old. I am living my life like my old friend the late Lynda Bellingham says enjoy life in between before you die.


I would sincerely like to thank Francoise for responding to my request for an interview so quickly and then providing her honest, illuminating and entertaining answers. The interview itself barely scratches the surface of this woman's remarkable life and career, so for more information about her life, her films, and books then you can visit her website RIGHT HERE

Now all I need to do is get interviews with the lovely Caroline Munro and Dani Thompson...."cough"......"ahem".....if only I knew someone that could arrange that....."cough"........Richard Gladman.



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