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Sunday, 22 April 2018

Teenage Ecstasy

TEENAGE ECSTASY 
"Victor Vincent is a square teenager who lives with two drug addled friends Clark and Russ. He shuns their drug taking ways but yearns to be with Tabitha, an exotic beauty, who wants nothing to do with him. During one of their frequent debates about the merits of taking drugs, Tabitha walks in causing Victor to mumble and splutter before leaving. He goes outside only to bump into Mr Mystery, a fat bearded man in a black hat and cloak. 

" Your destiny is in their hands." He says before disappearing. That night Victor has a dream/nightmare where he is chasing Tabitha through the fields. She pushes him to the floor and stands over him, laughing. Victor wakes in a cold sweat. 
The next day he walks through the fields and sees Tabitha in the distance with another man. He turns to see Mr Mystery in the distance watching him. He again mysteriously vanishes. Victor arrives home to be greeted by the two local drug dealers, Mr Belisha and Mr Beacon. They drink tea and slip a pill into
Victor's cup. They try to persuade Victor to buy some drugs, he refuses. They reveal what they have done leaving Victor cursing them. Victor goes to see Clark and Russ and starts laughing uncontrollably. That night they party hard, with Victor taking large amounts of pills. He is hooked. Victor wakes in the morning by falling off the sofa, next to him sleeps Tabitha. He staggers outside to be sick. He meets up with Belisha and Beacon to get some more pills. He meets Tabitha who tells him that their time together was just fun. Clark tries to tell Victor to stop taking pills but he is pushed aside. Victor has another nightmare. He is chasing Mr Belisha. He batters him to the floor and begins viciously beating him with a chair leg. Victor turns the body over and sees it is himself. He screams. 

The next night their is another party that culminates in Victor passing out again. He is woken by Clark and Russ who tell him to take it easy. Victor goes out. Mr Mystery appears again. 'you cannot chance the hand of fate. I am Mystery, Mr Mystery and I can shape your destiny." He disappears again. Victor realises he must do something. He meets with Belisha and Beacon to tell them what to do with their stupid pills. They beat him up and force him to eat loads of pills. They leave him slumped in an alleyway. A while later, bloodied and bruised, he staggers to his feet and goes to the PARTY. 
He enters the room. People stare at him. Clark, Russ, Tabitha, Belisha and Beacon are there. They laugh at him. Victor dances wildly. Then he flips out and smashes a chair to pieces.. Clark and Russ try to stop him but he flings them aside. Tabitha too. Beacon gets floored. Victor viciously beats Belisha to a bloody pulp with a chair leg. 
He stops. In his bloodied state he staggers across the room, seeing the terrible carnage. He collapses next to Tabitha in the body strewn room." 

CREDITS: 
Directed, Written and Edited by Jan Manthey 
Music by Ben Oates 
Victor Vincent - Vic Pratt, Tabitha - Paula Smith, Clark - Jonathan Cockerell, Russ - Jan Manthey, Mr Belisha - Jed Leicester, Mr Beacon - Mark Duqueno, Mr Mystery - Valentin Barrios-Ambroa  


This is arguably my greatest achievement in my film career. After my death this will be the film I would like to be most remembered for. Welles had CITIZEN KANE, Waters had PINK FLAMINGOS, Dennis Steckler had THE INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES WHO STOPPED LIVING AND BECAME MIXED UP ZOMBIES INSTEAD and Manthey had TEENAGE ECSTASY. 

Made in the glorious summer of '93 I had (due to my unemployed status) time to devote all my creative energies in this film. As usual I have no idea how the idea came about and the script was given my customary one draft treatment. 
I suppose the basic premise for 'Teenage Ecstasy - A Tale of Love, Loneliness, Drugs and Despair' (to give it it's original title) could have come from the dodgy drugs episodes of Grange Hill or Eastenders. But it had crucial Manthey bizarre additions such as Mr Mystery and the dream sequences. Strangely, a couple of years later Eastenders featured two student pot smoking characters, one of which was called Russ, who were eerily similar to my Clark and Russ characters. Also, some of their 'druggie' dialogue was almost exactly the same as I had written. To this day I believe someone at the BBC saw my film and nicked ideas from it. It wouldn't be the first time either, but that's another story. 
The main location was, as usual, my parents house. This meant a major task of entirely clearing out the lounge of all their junk to create a bare student style room. They have a lot of stuff and I still don't know how I managed it. They wouldn't have found out if I hadn't put back some wooden elephants facing the wrong way. 

The title sequence is probably one of the most elaborate I have filmed. Scenes of Victor walking through fields are intercut with a close up of a joint being made and smoked by Clark and Russ, ironically played by two non smokers, Jonathan Cockerell and myself. Being a non smoker my reaction to puffing on the joint is wildly over the top. Jonathan refused to put the cigarette any way near his mouth so we had to work around this. He wasn't actually supposed to be in this film but I roped him in last minute after the original Clark didn't show up. Jonathan did a grand job, as he always does in my films, he's good at stunts as well. All this action was played under a great theme tune sung by Mr Ben Oates. An anti drugs number sung in a Cat Stevens style. 

Victor ends his journey at the house where the three of them live. It is never established if they are students, have jobs or whatever. They live in a world where nothing matters but where the next score is coming from. 
There are some great performances in this film. Vic Pratt in the lead is superb. He is always willing to try anything, as witnessed by the scene where he is sick. He had to keep in his mouth a disgusting concoction of tinned tomatoes and sweetcorn. I can recommend this as a great recipe for pretend sick. 
The love interest was Paula Smith who was Vic's 'main squeeze' in reality so his yearning for her took on an extra resonance. Jed Leicester and Mark Duqueno made particularly menacing villains as Mr Belisha and Mr Beacon. Mark as the silent Beacon was especially effective. Sadly the car they drive is a beaten up old VW Polo, not a typical car that drug dealers in expensive suits drive, but it was Mark's car so it had to do. 

The greatest find in the cast was one Valentin Barrios Ambroa, the large bearded gentleman who plays the mysterious Mr Mystery. I wrote the role especially for him. He only appears a couple of times, but he adds an element of the bizarre that keeps the viewer more interested than they already are. Does Mr Mystery really exist? Is he a figment of Victor Vincents addled mind? I don't know how the character of Mr Mystery evolved but I'm sure it must have made sense when I wrote it. I think. 

There is much in the film that works really well. The two dream/nightmare sequences look very ethereal. This happened purely by accident. I was using a Sony Video 8 camera (this format no longer exists) which must have had some kind of fault with the brightness/white balance controls, but it made these scenes turn out better than I could have hoped. The footage has a very white washed out look with the colours looking very vivid. At the end of the second dream when Victor starts screaming, his face turns green. I have no idea how or why this happened but it looks damned good. It just shows that you don't need the most expensive gear to make your films look good. 

One scene I was worried about was the party scene. I questioned whether I could pull it off, and create an authentic looking party atmosphere. I didn't even think I had enough friends I could get round to make up the numbers. I managed to get about six or seven extras, but it was just enough. With strange red and green lighting and suitable 'rave' music, it worked. Again, I don't know how I did it, but it looked good. The 'rave' music was composed by Ben Oates. It was a brilliant pastiche of chart rave crap done on a Casio keyboard. The strange thing is, a couple of years later I heard a tune exactly the same on the radio. Perhaps the music was ahead of its time. 

I had another party scene to do but time was running out and my parents were due to return home from holiday and I didn't want them to see that I had turned their house into a makeshift film studio. I came up with an intriguing idea that I half remembered seeing in a film I saw once. I basically took loads of photos of the lead characters in various states at a 'party'. Then I filmed someone placing them down on a table. Thus we see the gang at various stages of the party eventually leading to Victor going crazy and dancing on his own. The final photo shows Victor, semi naked crashed out on a sofa with a can of Heineken in his hand. Such a simple idea, yet it works brilliantly and looks superb on screen. 
And so to the final act. The film ends how it could only end. The all out
destruction of the crazed Victor Vincent. Belisha and Beacon bundle Victor into an alleyway to administer a beating. Jed puts in an excellent menacing performance as he forces pills down Victor's throat. Incidentally, the pills were actually green and orange 'Tic Tacs'. Mark is also very sinister as the silent Beacon. The cast then once again gathered in the living room of my parents house. The scene has a nightmarish quality about it. I filmed various shots of all the characters without really knowing how it would all fit together in the final film. I had only a vague idea as to how the scene would end. But there were more pressing matters. A big stunt was called for - the smashing of a chair. I bought a chair for 50p from a charity shop and carefully dismantled it before sticking it loosely together again. Victor had to bring the chair down onto a table to smash it. We thankfully got a perfect take, as we only really had one chance to do it. The chair smashed to pieces leaving Victor with just a chair leg to bash Mr Belisha over the head with. When my parents saw the finished film they
naturally assumed that I had smashed up one of their chairs even though it looked nothing like any chair that they have ever owned. The end scene is still very powerful. Victor wanders into the party in a beaten up daze and sees all the other characters laughing at him. Is it a dream? Hallucination? Or is it real? Even though I wrote it I have no idea. I'll leave it to CAHIERS DU CINEMA to decipher. The final images of Victor beating Mr Belisha senseless and the final image of Victor standing alone amongst the carnage whilst the camera spins faster and faster around him becoming a blur comes together in a glorious finale. 


I still consider it a miracle that I got the film finished considering I was using one of the most basic and inaccurate editing consoles known to man. Still, after many frustrating days, the masterpiece was finished. 
This is the film I am most proud of. Even with a budget of virtually nil, all the elements came together in one harmonious fusion. Sure, some of the acting was a bit ropey and their were technical difficulties but it didn't matter. It came together as a whole. TEENAGE ECSTASY is gritty, funny, melodramatic and has a good moral structure. And a fat man with a beard. What more do you need in a film? 


Teenage Ecstasy - 25 years later

2018 marks the 25th anniversary of this seminal film in my canon. Has it aged well? I believe it has. It is fun to watch this tale of moral decline and drug abuse. Of course it is nonsense the speed with which Victor Vincent gets hooked on the mysterious pills, but at least it keeps the plot going at a fair lick. 
So what happened to the cast? Well some of them as I am sure you are aware have continued to act in Jan Manthey Productions. I am blessed to know people who are willing to embarrass themselves for the sake of my 'art'. There was actually a last minute cast change. A friend of mine Len Stott was due to play the Clark character but on the first day of filing he just didn't show up, so the part went to Jonathan Cockerell, who does a great fight stunt near the end of the film... And so to the enigmatic Valentin Barrios-Ambroa. We knew Val through various musical ventures and he certainly does strike a memorable figure. I also did some filming with him and his band mate, Wil Walker, which I later used as the basis for a Dylan Rabbit video 'Space is Ace'. As far as I know this is the only filming he has ever been involved with. I lost touch with him and he seems to be one of these people who has no internet presence, so is impossible to track down. A true man of mystery...
It just remains for me say - Remember kids, don't so the drugs!




Sunday, 8 April 2018

Cult of the Planet of the Apes

CULT OF THE PLANET OF THE APES 

" A business man is attacked by a man in an ape mask and killed. The masked man runs off. Roddy is taunted by his two housemates, Doug and Pete, over his obsession with Planet Of The Apes films. Later, Doug hears a strange noise from Roddy's room and goes to investigate. He is attacked by someone in an ape mask. Pete returns from a football match with Roddy's brother, Zak. They find Doug sitting in front of POTA film on the TV. He is dead. They are attacked by the ape man, Zak having his neck broken. Pete pulls the mask off to reveal Roddy, who runs off. Pete vows vengeance and pursues with an axe. Whilst on the run Roddy attacks a girl in a subway. After an all night chase they meet on a footbridge.. "All humans must die!" Says the insane ape mask wearing Roddy. They fight. Pete beheads Roddy with the axe. He stands contemplating what he has done whilst he is being watched by someone else with the same ape mask that Roddy had. Roddy was not alone..."




CREDITS: 
Directed, Written and Edited by Jan Manthey 
Roddy - Mark Duqueno, Pete - Jed Leicester, Doug - Ben Oates, Zak - Jan Manthey, Businessman - Theodore Ignatz, Girl In Subway - Farah. 


As you can see I am a big fan of ambiguous endings. This was the first film since ROBOT GORILLA RAMPAGE that I wrote a proper script for. It was hand written and I gave my customary 'one draft un proof read' treatment. After all, why change a perfect script? It was filmed almost exactly as written, with a few minor changes, which I will discuss later. The cast was, as usual, picked from friends who happened to be around at the time. I once again persuaded Mark Duqueno to don the mask of gorilladom ( the same as used in ROBOT GORILLA RAMPAGE, but we now had a spare one in case of accidents). It was the last time he was to play an ape or monster, refusing to do it again, complaining he had been typecast. There was also a very small role for a girl I was seeing at the time playing "Girl Attacked In Subway'. It was a rare occurrence to get a girl in my films and even rarer for me to have a lady friend. Suffice to say, we soon broke up after this film. 
The idea for the film came from my liking of the Planet Of The Apes (POTA) series of films, and my obsession with ape masks in general. The film had all my usual trademarks of bad acting and dubious dialogue. But there was something different about this one. I knew when it was finished that my film making skills had improved no end. When viewed today a lot of it has to be laughed at, but there is something disturbing about the grainy images and the sometimes jumpy editing ( a result of poor shot planning and shoddy equipment). The film is also surprisingly violent at times, a theme that would continue in TEENAGE ECSTASY. This is one of those films that once you've seen, you could honestly say you've not seen a lot like it. It's better than the remake of POTA (Tim Burton) anyway. 
The film begins in an alleyway. Walking down the alleyway is myself with a ridiculous beard and hat on, it made me look like Trotsky. I am duly mauled by a man in an ape mask and left for dead. As the ape attacks, some rather vicious sounding dogs began barking adding a great ambiance to the scene. As the ape runs away the music begins and we cut to some rather cheap looking titles that I made with one of those plastic templates that has letters of the alphabet on. 
Music. This was the first of my narrative pieces to have incidental music. It wasn't original music, but it fit the film perfectly. It was the music from the original POTA film that I had recently bought on cassettetape. For some strange reason all the pieces of music used fit the action perfectly. Not only that but the bits of music were exactly the right length for the scenes they were used for. This was uncanny, almost as the soundtrack had been designed for my unofficial sixth film in the POTA series. 


Mark puts in an excellent performance as Roddy. In the first scene he sits staring at the screen, which is showing 'Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes'. Doug and Pete enter and start to mock the fact he has no social life. I will be the first to admit that this scene has possibly the worst dialogue I have ever written. It ends with them singing the theme to 'The Banana Splits' after some unamusing stuff about apes down at the job centre. It is not helped by the acting of my good friend Mr Ben Oates. He never claimed to be an actor I suppose. In a later scene his character, Doug, goes to Roddy's room. He opens the door and sees that someone has ransacked the room. In exasperation he says 
"What the...?" 
just before he is attacked by Roddy as the ape. A simple enough line you may think. Think again. Over 20 odd takes later and the line was still not right. He just could not do it. I should have left it out at this stage, but I was determined that every line of dialogue that I had written must be up there on screen. It didn't work in the end, but I left the line in anyway. 
The fight scene at the end of the film worked out brilliantly. My stunt co-ordinator wasn't there that day so we had to improvise on set (in another of my favourite alleyways). The fight ends with Pete beheading Roddy with his axe. This was the most important scene in the film and it had to look vaguely realistic (we will ignore the fact that Pete's blunt axe looks like it couldn't cut through a block of half melted ice cream). I had never done any gore stuff before but i had seen enough crappy cheapo horror films to realise it can't be hard to make a half decent job of it. I had a plastic hairdressers head and I added some make up putty and lotsa blood on the neck to make it look severed. Mark (Roddy) then stood on the bridge with his head bowed. The fake head was then balanced on his neck, filmed from behind it looked like his head (it did, honestly!). The head had the gorilla mask and hat on so it was easy to make it look like him. I didn't actually film the axe striking the head, that could have ended in real blood and tears. I filmed a close up of Jed (Pete) swinging the axe to camera, then a shot of the head falling from the body and tumbling down the stairs. I prayed it would cut together in the editing. It did.Simple gore effects for no money. 
All that was left was to film one of my famous ambiguous endings. Pete stands over the headless body and the camera pulls back to reveal...yes another ape masked person watching him. What does it mean? Don't ask me I haven't got a clue. 
Now at last, I had finished the film. What should I do with it? Read on to hear about the Halloween Society... 




THE HALLOWEEN SOCIETY FIASCO 

The Halloween Society promised to show 'new film from new filmmakers' above an obscure pub near Carnaby Street called 'The Glachan'. I went one week and nervously approached the organisers with my second generation VHS copy of COTPA (it was originally filmed on Video 8). They took it and said they would be 'in touch'. I wasn't sure what would happen as most of the stuff shown seemed more professional and glossy than my shoddy, schlocky effort. Still, out of the blue, a couple of weeks later I received a flyer with details of the next show. I was so excited, there, listed amongst other dross, was my film! There were big names in some of the other films. Phone by Tim Pope starred Linda Blair and Bill Pullman, another film had something to do with Derek Jarman. I knew I was going to have my work cut out to win the coveted 'Audience Choice' award that takes place at every meeting. 
So I set about calling everyone in the world that I knew to come and see my piece of Video 8 tat. I think I somehow managed to get 15 or so people down to The Glachan, quite impressive for a man with no friends. Some people took a lot of persuading. 
"What's it about then?' 
"How much is it to get in?" 
"I dunno...I might miss Eastenders." 
You know how it is. 
The big day approached. Wednesday 17th August, although the exact year this occurred remains hazy. 
Myself and probably Vic Pratt arrived far to early at the venue, enough time to fortify my nerves with a beer or two. All the audience members were issued with voting forms where they had to tick their favourite film to win the award. I noticed that there was an unattended pile of these by the door, so I 'borrowed' them. After a short while the place began to fill up, rather too many media folk for my liking. Then at last, my rag tag army of friends piled in, including all the cast members. I don't think Linda Blair or Bill Pullman showed up to support their film. The evening was compared by an amiable comedian called Eddie Sponge, billed as 'Mike Wattam of Reeves and Mortimer fame'. Time passed and we sat through some of the other films. Due to the shoddy quality of my film, they created a new slot to show it in 'a new slot for lo budget madness called The Guerilla Spot'. Guerilla. Gorilla. Apes. Get it? The lights dimmed and on it came. There was a technical glitch on the tape at some points, but this did not stop the audience enjoying an emotional roller coaster of thrills, chills and laughter. Although I do not know why they laughed. It is a very serious film. I was pleased that my film had been shown, but I knew I had to do everything in my power to make sure it won. A film called 'Brazil 70' was the bookies favourite to win, it seemed inexplicably popular. I handed in far more voting slips than I had friends. The organisers knew something was up, but there was nothing they could do. 
The results were announced. In second place...Brazil 70. The guy who made that looked really pissed off. And the winner...Cult Of The Planet Of The Apes. Cheers. Applause. I went over to accept my prize. I felt like I had won an Oscar. In fact I won a copy of the 'Taxi Driver' screenplay autographed by Eddie Sponge (!?!). I felt like I had made it. 
Vic and I went to the next Halloween Society meeting. The tradition was that they screened the previous winner. They could not show COTPA, however, for 'time reasons'. It came to the Guerilla Spot which Sponge introduced with a spiel about 'championing spur of the moment camcorder mayhem' and went on to say 'last time Cult Of The Planet Of The Apes had the audience rolling in the aisles and went on to win best film of the night...' He then looked nervously at Vic and I who were sitting right in front of him, and he seemed to stumble over his words. Whilst Sponge was at the bar I lent over and looked at the notes he was reading from. He had missed out a crucial sentence. After saying that COTPA won best film of the night he didn't say '...although we think there was some cheating involved in that.' I wonder what put him off saying that. 


The Halloween Society never again showed any of my films. 


Cult of the planet of the Apes is now avaialble on Youtube...

Sunday, 1 April 2018

The Mysterious Inspector Zucker


Who is the mysterious Inspector Zucker?

Inspector Zucker has been the star of two Jan Manthey productions so far, read the full story behind 'Mutant!' and 'Inspector Zucker Vs Gorgo' here. 

The first film in the series was "Mutant!"



MUTANT! 
" The evil Professor Shatner is captured on Brighton beach by the Men In Black. He drops a syringe that contains an evil monster serum. A decorator eats his lunch on the beach, he decides to go for a paddle. He treads on the syringe and is injected with the serum. He froths at the mouth and collapses into the sea. That night Pete walks along the seafront slightly inebriated. He thinks he sees a monster. He throws his drink away and runs home. The monster runs behind him. Pete phones his friend Commisioner Chief Inspector Zucker of the Seaside Squad, who dismisses his claims. Zucker has doubts and thinks there may be something in the story. Later that night a couple smooch in a car. The monster attacks them. A newsreader reports on the death and Zucker gives a live report from the scene of the crime. Pete and a friend see this and go out to find the monster. They split up. Pete's friend is attacked and has his arm ripped off. Pete finds slime on his shoes and guesses that his friend may be in danger. The newsreader reports the death, again with live link to Zucker. He warns the public to be vigilant as the Seaside Squad is out of town at a convention. Pete goes out to the beach. He meets up with Zucker and together they vow to get the monster. The monster emerges from the sea and follows them. That evening, high above the sea on the cliff edge, the monster attacks them. Zucker draws his gun, but is knocked out. Pete and the monster grapple. Zucker regains his composure and shoots the monster. The beast is hit in the back and they push him over the cliff where he falls to his death. Zucker dusts down his hat and they leave. Zucker and Pete walk along the beach. Pete mentions that he would like to join the police force. 
"A good idea" says Zucker " One day you might even step into my shoes." 
" But Inspector Zucker," replies Pete " Aren't you a size 13?" 
They laugh and walk into the sunset. 


CREDITS: 
Directed, Written and Edited by Jan Manthey and Jed Leicester. 
Inspector Zucker - Ben Oates, Pete - Mark Duqueno, The Monster - Jan Manthey, Professor Shatner/Newsreader - Jed Leicester, Couple in Car - John and Vanessa Beardman 

The credits to Mutant! are steeped in controversy. This wasn't technically my project, it was a college film for Mr Belisha himself, Jed Leicester. It was written by Jed and myself, that much is a fact. I also gave Jed alot of assistance with directing and the editing, so essentially I could argue a case for credit as co director. So I will. Not than anyone really cares, but it matters to me, so there. It didn't really matter too much anyway, as credits were never put on the final film. The whole film was slightly shambolic in its execution and was never really finished. Every now and then I think about finishing it but never get round to it. One day the Director's cut or rather Co Director's (Disputed) cut may emerge. It's a shame it was not completed properly because there are some excellent scenes and the camera work is very good. Unfortunately there are some dreadful moments as well. 

The best thing though, was the creation of Chief Inspector Zucker. Zucker (named after the Zucker brothers of AIRPLANE! fame) in this film is a maverick cop who goes it alone as The Seaside Squad is out of town. The character was brilliantly realised by Ben Oates, whose stilted method of 'acting' suited the role perfectly. With his costume of suit, overcoat, bowler hat and moustache he really became the Inspector. 
The main selling point of this film was that it was shot almost entirely on location in Brighton. The first day was actually a night shoot. Very late night. This was because we were filming on the promenade, so it was best to avoid crowds of onlookers. There were still a few people around, though they sensibly avoided a man in a boiler suit with green hands and a rubber mask on. That was our 'Mutant' by the way. I drew the short straw to play the beast and I perfected a shambling walk, sort of a cross between Frankenstein's Monster and Joey Deacon. After a night's 'sleep' in a tiny car parked on the roadside, it was time to get some more shots at the crack of dawn. Luckily the sun was shining. Lucky for me because I had to stagger into the cold, cold sea. We could only do one take and, with my mouth foaming from toothpaste, I did a brilliant impression of a 'man staggering into the sea having a fit after having been injected with a monster serum'. I was completely immersed in the foul brown salty liquid for a few seconds. I have no intention of repeating such a stunt. Still the first day of Brighton filming was a success. Thanks to shoddy equipment a whole load of dialogue had to be trashed due to the sound deciding to work sporadically. It was as if the star of the film was Norman Collier. 



The scene in the car park where the couple get attacked, and its aftermath was one of the most elaborate ever staged by us. We somehow set up an authentic looking crime scene with police tape and cones and flashing lights. It looked very real especially with Jed and I in the background as a forensic scientist and policeman. The magic was marred slightly by Ben having to do approximately one million takes. The evening ended with us being chased away by an angry 'security guard' waving his fist at those darn pesky kids. 


The newsreader was another brilliant invention, played to perfection by Jed. The set was knocked up at Jed's parents house out of almost nothing. A large piece of cardboard, a desk and a telephone. One instant newsreader set. What made it though was the inclusion of a photocopy of a picture of the Earth behind Jed, which he used to show the weather report. We even had a mysterious hand giving him the latest news bulletin, just like you never see in the real news. 
Sadly there was also some frankly poor stuff in this film as well. A pointless scene where a friend of Pete's gets attacked by the monster. There was some ridiculous effects when the friend gets his arm ripped off. We used a novelty of Mark's for this. 'The Arm: It's so realistic!', the packaging boasted. It was a rubber hand with a sleeve attached. The finger wiggled when it was switched on. It looked frankly pathetic. Even the huge amounts of blood squirted everywhere could not not redeem this effect. 

The best scenes were filmed on our second trip to Brighton. The climatic showdown between Zucker and the monster took place high above the beach on the cliffs. It was filmed quite quickly as time was against us. The usual story of filming in a public place, people stopping to see what you are doing and getting in the way. The fight looks excellent and Zucker shoots the monster with a frighteningly realistic looking gun, a blank firing replica. Thinking about it now, if the real Seaside Squad had been strolling along we could have got in big trouble. 

Next was THE big stunt. The monster, having been shot staggers dramatically over to the railings and falls over the edge, tumbling to his doom. It was an ambitious stunt. We stuffed the monster's boiler suit (All monsters should wear these. They look good and come in different colours) and attached a dummy head with the mask on. First we filmed a shot with the monster falling about 20 feet to the ground, which looked good. We were packing up and noticed the cliff towering above us, about 100 feet in the air. It had to be done. We dragged the dummy up the cliff. It was strangely deserted for some reason. We managed to get the body over to the cliff edge, there was no barrier to stop you falling over the side. We looked down to try and see Jed waving to tell us the camera was ready to shoot. We let go regardless. It tumbled to its death. Bits started to fall off it. it finally stopped about six feet from the ground, stuck on a branch or something. A small crowd had gathered to see what was going on but they soon got bored and dispersed. As we turned to head back down the cliff to retrieve what was left of the monster we noticed that right behind us was a small police station! Luckily it seemed to be closed and there was no sign of life. Perhaps it was the HQ of the Seaside Squad? Filming was complete. 


The film never had titles completed due to the editing equipment being nicked. It was due to be shown at Jed's 'End of Year show', with all the other rubbish that students had made. I can't recall exactly what happened but Mutant! was not shown. I believe that the standard excuse of 'technical reasons' was used. Technical Schmecnical. 


A few years later the sequel Inspector Zucker Vs Gorgo was made and here we have some exclusive extracts from the film production diary of director, Jan Manthey. For this film we have a new actor portraying Inspector Zucker.




INSPECTOR ZUCKER VS GORGO 


" The insane Professor Shatner sits in his wheelchair talking to himself. He reveals his plans to take over the world with an army of Super Beings that have the bodies of gorillas but the heads of women. He calls Gorgo to go out and find a woman for his experiments. Gorgo has the body of a gorilla but the head of a man. Vince and Judy say goodnight to each other in a subway. They go their separate ways. Judy is worried something is following her. Gorgo leaps out and attacks her. He drags her away. Gorgo takes her back to Shatner who says he is going to use her head for a transplant. Vince goes back to the subway, he sees Judy's bag on the floor. He realises something has happened. He goes to a public phone. before he can finish dialling a hand reaches in and cuts him off. Inspector Zucker introduces himself and says he can help. Zucker finds a clue and they go to have it analysed. Back at the laboratory Shatner reveals his plans to Judy who is strapped to a table. He has a flashback to when he tried to make his wifes face prettier. It leaves her disfigured. They fight and it ends with Mrs Shatner paralysing him with a paralysis gun. Zucker and Vince go to see Simon at his lab, who analyses the clue. He tells Zucker it comes from a half man half ape hybrid. Shatner appears on a TV screen and taunts them. Vince tries to attack the TV, but is restrained by Zucker.Gorgo enters and attack. In the fight Gorgo defeats them all and carries off Vince. Shortly, Zucker follows them with the help of a map that Gorgo dropped. Simon gives him a banana. Shatner hits Gorgo for bringing back Vince instead of Simon. Shatner begins his plan, he wants to transplant the head of Judy onto the body of Gorgo. Zucker enters and attacks Shatner.Shatner gets the better of him and is about to inject a poison serum into him. Gorgo frees himself and knocks Shatner to the floor. Shatner staggers to his feet and plunges the serum into Gorgo, who with his dying strength knocks Shatner to the floor again. Zucker, Vince and Judy leave the carnage. 
They all go back to Simon's lab. As mysteriously as he appeared Zucker disappears, leaving Vince and Judy baffled. Zucker walks into the sunset eating the banana." 


CREDITS: 
Directed, Written and Edited by Jan Manthey 
Music by Vic Pratt and Jonathan Cockerell 
Inspector Zucker - Rob Norfolk, Professor Shatner - Vic Pratt, Vince - Gareth McLennan, Judy - Diana Manthey, Simon - Jonathan Cockerell, Mrs Shatner - Jenny Hammerton, Gorgo - ? 

Exclusive extracts from the personal diary of Jan Manthey: 

TUES 25th JAN 2000 
At last the first scenes are shot. Alleyway was very noisy, so only got one scene shot, but it came out too dark. Looking at the rushes I realised I had missed out an entire scene, so reshoot necessary. Must take more time in preparation. 

SUN 6th FEB 
Vic's flat for flashback scene. Didn't look like a lab but it doesn't matter. Great ugly makeup on Jenny. A good shoot was had. Gareth is unsure of his commitments. Rob has shaved his hair. 


TUESDAY 15th FEB 
Refilmed stuff I got wrong before. Performances were a lot better, especially Rob. Tried to stick moustache on him but it just wasn't going to work. 

FRIDAY 24th MARCH 
Finally get cast together for big shoot in Heston Scout Hut. Mark Duqueno cancelled his night out to do camera duties. Go into hut and panic as I cannot turn lights on. Luckily Vic sorts this out. Cover walls in white paper and with the help of an old hair dryer and some black plastic domes an authentic laboratory complete with Brain Transference Device is created. Vic has trouble manoeuvring wheelchair but his performance is brilliant. A mix of Boris Karloff and J.Carrol Naish. Shoot finishes at 1.30 am. Everyone freezing cold and tired. I didn't feel cold as I had big furry gorilla costume on. 


TUESDAY 9th MAY 
Will the shooting for this film never end? 
Went to shoot in St Thomas Hospital (courtesy of Mr Cockerell), it all looked very futuristic, not like Shatner's knackered old scout hut lab. we did the fight scene first to avoid rushing it at the end, as a result it does not look as pathetic as the final confrontation between Shatner and Zucker. Performances were good and I feel this filmic odyssey is near the end after nearly 5 months. 


MONDAY 15th MAY 
At last the shooting is over with a simple shot of Gareth running down an alleyway. I feel quite emotional. Now the hard work of editing begins. 


MONDAY 26th JUNE 
After putting it off for ages I finally get around to editing this monster I have created. I started last week but got annoyed with it so I put it on ice for a week or so. I had my usual problems of getting shots to
match up, not enough 'cutaways', etc. Some shots I thought would cut together didn't so I had to trash some good footage, the final piece looks pretty good though. One bit that couldn't be saved was the final 'climatic' showdown which just looks pathetic. When I watch it now all I can say is 'Ed Wood lives!' 



WEDNESDAY 9th AUGUST 
Today is the official premiere of Inspector Zucker vs Gorgo at the Portbello Film Festival 2000. I was excited and nervous about how it would be received. It turned out to be a triumph. A lot of folk turned up to see it. I didn't realise I knew so many people. The bar was packed. I was I dressed in my Gorgo costume and went through the crowds telling them to see my film. it was a very William Castleesque thing to do, and certainly aroused attention and/or suspicion. Just after the fumbled intro to the film ( I was announced as Ian Manthey), Vic and myself as Gorgo introduced the film. People enjoyed the film enormously and a good time was had by all. Rob Norfolk ( Inspector Zucker) said to me "it's the most interesting thing I have done for a year or two...". I take this as a compliment. 

Inspector Zucker Vs Gorgo is now available on YouTube...

There is a third instalment to the Zucker saga, it has been written but remains unfilmed. Watch this space for "Inspector Zucker meets the Vampire"... 

Sunday, 16 October 2016

PROCESSED EGG

PROCESSED EGG

At the turn of the century I made this rarely seen genre defying masterpiece – Processed Egg.


Who knows what it all means? Answers on a postcard to the usual address...


"A Man sits alone at his desk. He is drawing a comic strip. He finishes drawing then slumps back into the wheel chair he is in. In a rage he tears up his drawing and throws it away. He wheels over to the other side of the room and strums a guitar. He gets up from the wheelchair and walks to the kitchen to fix himself a ham and processed egg sandwich. He sees a pretty girl walking down the street. He puts the sandwich down and runs outside. He follows the girl from the other side of the road. He crosses to meet her and bumps into her, secretly groping her breast. He runs away. Back in his room he puts on a record but turns it off after a few seconds. He looks at a photo of a girl. He rips it up in anger and then slumps back in the wheelchair. The phone rings. He has an awkward conversation about going out tonight. The Man declines the offer. The doorbell rings. A man with a clipboard is at the door. The bell rings. The Man crouches in a corner, sobbing.

The Man sits in his wheelchair with a beer. He picks up the torn photo and crudely pieces it together again. He yawns and goes to bed. The camera closes in on his face."


Starring Vic Pratt and Diana Tully



Written, Directed and Produced by Jan Manthey – 1999

This was a return to the darker territory of my anti drugs epic TEENAGE ECSTASY. It was helped enormously by the terrific lead performance of my eternal muse, Vic Pratt. He looked just the part in his ill fitting red tracksuit. Also great was the spooky music that ran throughout the whole film. This was done by a man who I only ever met once. I only knew him as Michael. If anyone knows the whereabouts of Michael, let me know.



The title of the film came from this disgusting foodstuff that we bought from the local shop (Sanco’s) that was used for the actual sandwich that Vic ate in the film. It was very thin, slightly mushy grey looking ‘ham’ with a greenish equally thin slice of ‘egg’ in the middle. If it were sold in Waitrose or some such place it may have a crust around it and be called Gala Pie. I believe that this processed foodstuff was also out of date by some margin and I also believe that Vic polished off the product after filming...
This film also marks the first appearance in my Ouevre of the delectable Diana (who is also the current Mrs Karno) who went on to star in future KinoKarno productions.
Editing was done in my then customary arduous manner of two VHS machines linked up. It was a rather hit and miss affair but that’s how it was done back in the olden days. And check out the hand-made titles...





The film was successfully shown at the Portobello Film Festival and also won an award at something called the London Low Budget Film Festival. No prize was ever received nor did the LLBFF ever screen any of the ‘award’ winning films film. In fact it has never been heard of before or since. Nevertheless I am proud of the achievement. Here is what the LLBFF had to say about the film:


“Short film about a man finding it difficult to come to terms with the loss of his girlfriend. The comedy of a no a no-budget approach to heart rending melodrama is well exploited. Several imaginative touches, a nice sense of the absurd, and good conviction from the actors.”


PROCESSED EGG became part of a projected trilogy called 'THE COLOUR OF DESPAIR'. Part two was filmed on Super 8 film and used some complex techniques involving different film speeds. However, the film got burnt up in the ancient projector that I have. The project is currently on hold. Possibly forever.

Until I recently transferred it to this new fangled digital format, PROCESSED EGG only existed on a very old, fragile, cheapo VHS tape after the Master copy accidently got erased. Despair indeed.




Saturday, 17 October 2015

Can You Keep It Up With This, That And The Other For A Week?

Good Evening KinoKarno fans,
 
It has been some time since I last 'blogged', so I trust you have been keeping well.
 
As some of you may know I am known to have dabbled in the mysterious, dark world of film making...
 
It is my intention to present to you over the coming weeks some of my efforts together with exclusive 'making of' information. Believe me there was blood, sweat, tears and egg spilt during these times.
 
So to kick this off, what better way to start than with my saucy homage to the great British sex comedies - Can You Keep It Up With This That And The Other For A Week?
 
Enjoy...




Can You Keep It Up With This That And The Other For A Week?
"Robin Evans is a chirpy window cleaner out on his round. He laments that he never gets birds, but today might be different. He calls at Gloria McGurks house. She answers the door in her negligee and tells him to clean the bedroom window. Robin sees her stripping off and he soon ends up on the bed with Gloria down to his underpants. Gripper McGurk turns up unexpectedly, having been released early from prison. He chases Robin from the house. Robin escapes without his trousers. Professor Gaylord had invented a Sex Ray that will make him irresistable to women, but needs someone to try it out on. Robin calls at Mrs Gaylords. She too answers the door in negligee. She soon has him pinned down to the kitchen floor. Her husband Professor Gaylord enters and drags him off to be the tester for the Sex Ray. The Professor trips on Robin's bucket and overdoses him with the Ray. Both the professor and his wife are attracted to Robin and chase him out of the house. Robin once again has only his underpants on. He tries to steal a dressing gown from a housewife's washing line, but she sees him and is also attracted to him. Robin hides out in the woods but is captured by a zookeeper who thinks he is Ethel the Ape. Zookeeper tries to kiss Robin but Ethel appears. She too fancies Robin. He runs away whilst Ethel and the Zookeeper fight. Robin encounters a Vicar, a Nurse and a Photographer who all want him. He bumps into Gripper who now wants him as well. All the characters chase him. He sees a Policeman who also chases him. He is cornered by Professor Gaylord and all the characters jump on him and writhe in ecstasy. One by one the charcters are picked off by a large hairy hand. Robin is relieved he has been saved, but faint into Ethel's arms when he sees it is her that saved him.
Robin sits on a comfy sofa whilst Ethel serves him cocktails. He winks at the camera and says " Well, it ain't such a bad life after all. Cheers!"




CREDITS
Directed, Written and Produced by Jan Manthey
Edited by Douglas Patterson and Jan Manthey
"Can You Keep It Up...?' Theme Tune Written and Performed by Vic Pratt
Incidental Music by Alan Mills
Robin Evans - Vic Pratt, Gloria McGurk - Diana Manthey, Gripper McGurk - Norman Stebson, Professor Gaylord - Smeaton Westurby, Mrs Gaylord - Jenny Hammerton, Zookeeper - Jonathan Cockerell, Vicar - Lee Scott, Mrs Noggett - Elizabeth Leicester, Photographer - Jed Leicester, Nurse Nookie - Sarah Lee, P.C Zucker - Rob Norfolk, Angry Motorist - Mark Duqueno and Ethel The Ape as Herself.

 
Exclusive extracts from the personal diary of Jan Manthey:


30th MARCH 2002
Approximately 2 years after I wrote the script I have finally got my act together and started my latest masterpiece. It is the first one that I have actually written as a comedy, as opposed to my other efforts that often turn into comedies during their making. Also first film shot on digital. I recently had to revise the script. I had a nurse character in it but I do not know enough girls willing to appear in this filth so I changed it to a camp photographer. I refuse to use stereotypes. The first scenes to be shot were of Professor Gaylord, Mrs Gaylord and Robin Evans, all played by veterans of the INSPECTOR ZUCKER VS GORGO film shoot. For these scenes I had to build a Sex Ray Machine. This I cobbled together from various bits and pieces I had
lying around including:
Some old CCTV camera holders, a sea monkey aerator, a light saber, a yellow tube, a Sesame Street speaking 'Ernie' machine and, re-used from ZUCKER, a seventies hair drying machine.
Vic had to wear some disgusting underpants that I had bought from Camden Market. They turned out to be very tight, smaller than I expected. Basically if there were any stirring in his, admittedly small, loins then they would have split.
Jenny supplied her own costume, which was rather revealing I must say. It was a black basque type thing with black suspenders and stockings. It certainly showed off her ample cleavage. She had that kind of Liz Fraser look that I was after. Smeaton had standard issue Mad Professor Lab Coat, Glasses and Curly Wig.

Conditions were a bit cramped but it all went very well indeed. There was much fun to be had in the scenes where Mrs Gaylord ravishes Robin in the kitchen, especially the Point of View shot of Jenny sitting on top of Vic. There were many gratuitous shots of Jenny's cleavage. After a splendid lunch we moved onto the scenes with the Sex Ray Machine. The machine I made was falling apart the second I took it out of the car, and I knew it wouldn't last long. It just lasted till the end though. In the script the Sex Ray is supposed to blow up creating lots of smoke. Sadly I do not have the means to create this effect, so I will have to hope something can be done in editing. The final part of the day was filming the Professor and Mrs Gaylord (clad in skimpy negligee) chasing Robin (in underpants) out of the house onto the street. Must be a normal occurrence in Amersham as no one seemed to notice. Going well for the June deadline for the Portobello Film Festival.



20th APRIL 2002
Back to the grind after a two week break. It is getting difficult keeping the momentum going. Once again went to Amersham to film three scenes with the librarian, Vicar and Zookeeper. First problem was that the Vicar didn't ever show up. These scenes would have to be done another time with a different Vicar. We went to the woods to film the Zookeeper/escaped Gorilla scenes. Vic had no trousers on and a leopard skin dressing gown. No one was around in the woods though. Jonathan Cockerell as the Zookeeper had a special hat that I had bought. Also a large net on a stick. Ideal for catching gorillas. I had to don the suit of gorilladom for my portrayal of Ethel the Ape. There were a few technical problems with the suit and I couldn't see through the mask, but we managed to fumble through the shots.
Next we had the problems. We had to film on the street and Vic was somewhat under dressed. Everytime we thought we found somewhere someone would wander by and stop and stare. Had they never seen a grown man in pants and a leopard skin dressing gown before? We wasted much time and nothing was 'in the can'. Demoralised we went back to Vic's for tea and cake. We filmed the scene in an alleyway near Vic's house, but it did not come out good at all.




31st AUGUST 2002
My how time flies. I almost got filming again in the past few months but I couldn't quite get it together. Still we are here now. The scenes to be filmed involved Vic as Robin being seduced by blond tart Gloria. The shots of Vic peering through the bedroom window as Gloria starts undressing are very amusing. Diana (the missus) as Gloria looked particularly stunning blond wig, over the top make up and regulation sexy negligee. The original script had Robin climbing in through the window, but this could not be done as the windows did not open like that. It was a shame because the payoff would have been Robin clambering down the ladder clad in only his underpants. Still changes had to be made... Speaking of which, I had to take over the role of Gripper as the chap who was to play the part proved to be somewhat elusive. This was not ideal, as I do not look tough enough to play the 'heavy'. I disguised myself with padding and a moustache and put on my finest Arthur Mullard accent. I just about pulled it off. A good days work in all, although not as I originally intended, it was of sufficient standard to pass the Jan Manthey seal of approval.




18th MAY 2003
Time has flown once again. I felt it was time to get this darned film wrapped up once and for all. I suppose we had a good excuse for the break in filming as the missus went and had a baby. So we had to wait for her to be able to dress as Gloria again. I assembled the largest gathering of actors for one of my films, and that was quite an acheivment. Jenny (Mrs Gaylord) brought a female friend along who for reasons unknown had a nurses' uniform with her. She was soon in the film. My original script actually had a nurse character, so it was quite fortuitous that this happened. The main scenes shot were of Vic running around in his underpants being chased by all the cast. This caused typical reactions from passers-by when they see scantily clad people running around the streets. The ensemble cast was excellent and ad-libbed brilliantly, especially for the shot where they corner Robin and bundle him to the floor to molest him. The cast certainly got into the spirit of the occasion and I believe a few bruises were picked up as thing got a bit 'boisterous'.
I even managed to squeeze in a role for my 8 week old son, Percy, as the photographic subject of the extremely camp photographer.
Now filming is complete, and I have 20 days to edit it so I can enter it for the Portobello Film Festival. Will I get it done in time?




20th AUGUST 2003
"Will I get it done in time?"
No.


15th JULY 2004
Well it is finally done. The epic is finished. It is only 16 minutes long, so it may not seem epic length. But it was an epic struggle to complete. This was the first film edited on a computer and I must say the results are spiffing (compared to my old method of two tape players). It is good to see one of my films with completely clean edits, special effects and overlapping sound. Astounding. Also great music. Excellent theme toon from Vic, and 'Al's Bossa', 'Farce in 'A'' and the 'Erection Symphony' from Mr Alan Mills.
The cast, though, are what made the film.
VIC PRATT as ROBIN EVANS: Brilliant Askwithian expressions. Classic British pasty skinny body.
DIANA MANTHEY as GLORIA McGURK:Looks good in negligee. Great sultry performance.
SMEATON WESTURBY as PROFESSOR GAYLORD: Great manic performance. Disturbing shot at end of film as he humps Robin.
JENNY HAMMERTON as MRS GAYLORD: Classic British sex comedy curvy figure.
JONATHAN COCKERELL as ZOOKEEPER: Funny performanace.
JED LEICESTER as PHOTOGRAPHER: Hilariously camp.
ELIZABETH LEICESTER as MRS NOGGET: Nice ass.
LEE SCOTT as VICAR: Solid performance.
SARAH LEE as NURSE NOOKIE: Nice legs.
ROB NORFOLK as P.C ZUCKER (note the name, continuity fans): Another funny performance, always makes me laugh.
The film looks just like a pastiche of a seventies British sex comedy which is exactly how I wanted it. Now read on to find out how CAN YOU KEEP IT UP WITH THIS THAT AND THE OTHER FOR A WEEK? conquered the world of film festivals...




AUGUST 2004
The film is shown at the Portobello Film Festival, and many of the cast gather to watch it in a pub on Ladbroke Grove. The screening goes down well, with a few laughs and equally as many bemused looks on peoples' faces. It is certainly the rudest film there, which is a bit sad really. I mean there's no nudity, just a bit of good old British naughtiness.

 
SEPTEMBER 2004
The film is to be shown at the Sutton Film Festival. On a big proper screen at the UCI cinema! The screen is enormous, Vic's pants will look huge! The cinema is about half full, and I scraped together some of the tired cast to come and see it. My film is due to begin at 6.30. The time comes. There is a long pause. I begin to think something is wrong. More pause. Nervous shuffling and coughing. But then... Phew! It begins. The soundtrack for some reason is deafening, so I can't tell if people are laughing or not. The showing was another great success, and it was definitely better that some of the other stuff shown at the festival.

 
FEBRUARY 2005
The film has been accepted to be shown at the prestigious TROMANALE Festival in Berlin.
Berlin is a great city, for one thing there is plenty of wurst, and probably the best place in Europe to hold the chaotic festival that was Tromanale.
It was held at a mysterious out of the way riverside venue called C-base, which claims to be the remains of a crashed spaceship. I was disappointed when we got there, it just looked like one of the many vast warehouse like buildings that populate the city. Inside however there were many computer screens with strange 'data' scrolling up and down on them, I think they had started to make it look like a space ship but got bored halfway through, as the

rest is a rundown arts centre forever bathed in a cloud of pot smoke.
We (the missus and I) got there on Friday night, and Can You Keep It Up With This That And That And The Other For A Week? was due on at 21.10. There were problems, however. When I finally asked someone how it was all going, he revealed to me that none of the films had turned up. He simply didn't know where they
were. I could see the whole night ending in tears. It was not so bad though, as I had drunk quite a few bottles of 'Berliner Kindl' beer by then. Suddenly it was announced that the films had turned up, so it was all on again. The place had filled up and there was about 30 or 40 mostly German people in the audience. I think they enjoyed the film, there were a few laughs


but I don't know how much of it they understood. Afterwards I was invited to the front of the cinema, and an Austrian called Juan Carlos interviewed me. I was greeted with polite applause. I cannot remember what I said or what was asked, but it was taped so I will watch back one day and tell you all about it. Then there was more applause and I returned to my seat. Sadly the planned showing of 'Double D Avenger ' was cancelled.
And so to Sunday, we got there for about 17.00, to see some Troma films that were supposed to be introduced by the 'President' of Troma films, one of my all time movie making heroes, Lloyd Kaufman. There were about 5 people in the audience, an old couple wandered in, probably to get out of the cold. I could see no sign of Kaufman. Suddenly a female voice exclaimed ' Hey it's Jan Manthey!' It was a girl named Thea, who apparently was the organiser of this whole event, and she was there with Kaufman. There he was, a small Mel Brooks lookalike in a crumpled raincoat. We were introduced! We had a bit of
a chat and he said he would like to see my film, and Thea said she was going to show it to him later that night. We then watched the Troma film called Terror Firmer, which was hilarious, especially if you like seeing fat bearded men being humiliated for cheap laughs. Kaufman sat slumped on his own watching his masterpiece. Afterwards we seized the opportunity to get photo with him, and photos were taken with us posing with a Toxic Avenger mask. He gave me his card and said I should call him if I was in New York. Tromananle festival was shambolic and chaotic but hugely enjoyable and the film was well recieved.
So to all those who showed their cleavage, ran around in underpants and got chased by Gorillas, I say thanks, your fame will spread throughout the German speaking world.