I spent half of yesterday with my other hat on - as co-director of the Mayhem Horror Film Festival - watching shorts in the Videotheque to see if there was anything that we might try and nab for the festival this year. It's quite a weird environment for watching films, the Videotheque - about 25 dvd players and flatscreen TVs lined around the walls of a dimly-lit and library-quiet room, with people sitting there with headphones on. I tried to select as many films as possible, just going by the description in the programme - which meant that occasionally I got a less horror film experience than I was expecting. (I've learnt that if anything says that it 'plays with horror film tropes and iconography' it usually means that it's not scary or disturbing, but slow and pretentious). I saw a good zombie film, which I'd already heard about and had been hoping to get a look of, as well as a very confusing Welsh serial killer film (there was a shot at the end that the music and camerawork was telling me was a reveal - but I couldn't figure out why, seeing as I aleady knew who it was) and a film I was really hoping was going to have a werewolf in it, but ended up being about the Dangerous Dogs Act.
In the afternoon, there was a real treat - a screening of 'Jason and the Argonauts', followed by a book signing by Ray Harryhausen. The screening was on at a beautiful old cinema called the Dominion, just a little way out from the city centre. The screen was great - really big, with two rows of leather sofas along the middle, each with a small table and a footstool. Ray Harryhausen did a brief intro and then we watched the film on a scratchy old print. I don't remember the film being in Academy ratio (which was the first surprise), because in my childhood memory it was just big and epic. I probably haven't watched the film for 25 years because there were whole bits I didn't remember - but certain sequences - Jason being carried to Olympus in the palm of a giant Hermes' hand, the bronze statue of Talos coming to life and of course the brilliant and still technically impressive skeleton fight - which are burned on my memory. Afterwards, my friend Sally got a book signed and I took a picture of her with Ray. (Maybe I should of taken a hundred, just getting them to move ever-so-slightly in between each one...)
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