Death And The Devil Film Festival

On Saturday, Mei Yau and I headed off to the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith for an all-day event organised by the excellent FAB Press to celebrate the release of Gavin Baddeley and Dani Filth’s book, The Gospel Of Filth. This was genuinely one of the most enjoyable times I’ve ever had at the cinema, and a rare opportunity to see some classic horror films on the big screen – not to mention the even rarer privilege of watching the legendary Doug Bradley perform his fascinating one-man show, An Evening With Death.

The films we enjoyed were as follows:

Race With The Devil was a classic ’70s exploitation combo of then-modish ingredients: highway chase flick, Satanic paranoia, sinister hicks and a state-of-the-art mobile home. Outrageous car chases and stunts, acting ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and gaping holes in the logic of the plot (a common factor in all the day’s films) made for a rip-roaring good time. Best line: Warren Oates (on spying some female Devil-worshippers disrobing and frolicing around a bonfire) – “That’s not rough, that’s choice.”

The Devil’s Rain was best summed up by our affable and knowledgeable host, Gavin Baddeley, as “a classic piece of Satanic cheese”. The film seemed to have been mainly designed to showcase its ridiculous melting Satanist special effects, but the makers also somehow assembled an incredible cast of Hollywood luminaries. Of these, by far the most memorable performances came from Ernest Borgnine, as a malevolent Satanic priest, and William Shatner, who gave a performance that can only be described as brilliantly William Shatner. In fact, such was his presence on screen that the mere sight of his face was enough to send the audience into paroxysms of laughter! Best line: unsurprisingly, any spoken by William Shatner.

Black Sabbath rounded off the day with some classic Mario Bava: gorgeous interiors, even more gorgeous women, Gothic grandeur and rather nonsensical plotlines. Though this film perhaps doesn’t quite reach the delirious extremes of our personal Bava favourite, Hatchet For The Honeymoon, it was truly a pleasure to bathe in the Maestro’s stunning visuals on a big screen. Best line: Boris Karloff – “What’s the matter woman? Can’t I fondle my own grandson?”

Unfortunately, we missed the screenings of some of Doug Bradley’s short films, as we were out seeking much-needed sustenance. However, we made sure to get back in time to enjoy his excellent solo performance-slash-talk on all things morbid, that took in material as diverse as Shakespeare, Clive Barker, Walt Whitman and W.W. Jacobs. Mr. Bradley also kindly took part in an engaging Q&A with the audience, and he proved as friendly and approachable in person as he is terrifying and imposing on screen.

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