Saturday, 22 August 2009

The House of Hammer Films

I suppose, if I am to be honest, it was a combination of things that caught my attention with these films. The 'horror' was all very gothic, which I liked, often very tongue in cheek, sometimes bloody silly if not absurd with some afwul effects and often a little camp. However, I would always watch then with eyes glued to the screen. I think another part of me, the young adolescent with lust in his loins, enjoyed watching the ladies with their boobs hanging out of tightly clinging dresses. This appealed to me as a teenager as much as the story!

Barbara Shelley (1) was gorgeous and Veronica Carlson (2) stunning.

The film stuidio was first founded in 1934 but it wasn't until the 1950's and then through the 60's and 70's that Hammer really came into its own.

Of course it was the superb roster of actors that really helped to make these films. Christopher Lee became the epitome of what we now think of as Dracula even if Bram Stoker's oringinal character was very different. With Lee inhabiting the role, Dracula became not just a sinister member of the dark aristocracy but also a sensual, sexual predator who loved nothing more than plunging his fangs in to buxum beauties.

While the ever elegant, daper Peter Cushing played a diverse range of roles: from Van Helsing to Victor Frankenstein and all with such grace and aplomb.

The studio seemed to fade from view after an excellent run of TV programmes in the 1980's but I hear that they have now been bought out my another company who have pledged to bring back the horror into Hammer. I certainly hope so.


Sunday, 16 August 2009

Tony Schwartz

Amazing soundscapes by a pioneer broadcaster of electronic and found sounds. I dont know much about him but love this excerpt from a radio show about him.

"Tony Schwartz, master of electronic media, created more than 20,000 radio and television spots for products, political candidates and non-profit public interest groups. Featured on programs by Bill Moyers, Phil Donahue and Sixty Minutes, among others, Schwartz has been described as a "media guru," a "media genius" and a "media muscleman." The tobacco industry even voluntarily stopped their advertising on radio and television after Schwartz's produced the first anti-smoking ad to ever appear (children dressing in their parents' clothing, in front of a mirror). The American Cancer Society credits this ad, and others that followed, with the tobacco industry's decision to go off the air, rather than compete with Schwartz's ad campaign.

Born in midtown Manhattan in 1923, a graduate of Peekskill High School (1941) and Pratt Institute (1944), Tony Schwartz had a unique philosophy of work: He only worked on projects that interested him, for whatever they could afford to pay.

For thirty one years (1945-1976) he created and produced a weekly radio program of people and sounds of New York on WNYC (AM & FM). For over 15 years he wrote a weekly column for Media Industry Newsletter (MIN).

When Marshall McLuhan met Tony Schwartz, he said he met "a disciple with twenty years prior experience!" Later, McLuhan and Schwartz shared the Schweitzer Chair at Fordham University.

For many years he was a Visiting Electronic professor at Harvard University's School of Public Health, teaching physicians how to use media to deal with public health problems. He also taught at New York University and Columbia and Emerson colleges. Because Schwartz was unable to travel distances, he delivered all out of town talks remotely. Schwartz was a frequent lecturer at universities and conferences, and gave presentations on six of the seven continents (not Antarctica). He was awarded honorary doctorates from John Jay, Emerson and Stonehill Colleges. "

Monday, 10 August 2009

Victorian Posters


MIx Tapes

In the days before CD's and MP3's we used to make mix tapes for our friends - well, some of us did. Cassettes were handy blank canvas to fill with songs and any other audio padding to show off your expertise in programming your very own pretend radio show. I used to make hundreds and exchange them with like minded folks - sometimes not even exchanged - you got one if you wanted it or not!
My particular joy was to make them on a particular theme - songs about death, songs about animals, songs about chickens and songs about puddings. It was amzing just how many you could find that included the words Chocolate or Sugar in the title! I even did a mail art tape exchange back in the 80's and got quite a big response from all round the world. Later I compiled a tape of songs about Peace based on the "one minute only" Miniatures concept by Morgan Fisher. The participants got a compliation of all the songs send in returned to them. It cost me a small fortune but it was fun.