Hammer fans were in for a treat at Frighten Brighton on Saturday 25th February 2012. Centrepiece of the mini festival was a screening of Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell (1973) introduced by Shane Briant biographer, Robert Kenchington, followed by a specially recorded video introduction by the man himself.
Robert and Shane shared some terrific anecdotes about the making of the film, especially concerning the legendary star, Peter Cushing. At the time of filming, Cushing was in poor health and asked for reduced involvement in the film. Briant’s role, as the idealistic Dr Simon Helder, foil to Cushing’s unscrupulous Frankenstein, subsequently grew as many of the scenes originally written for Cushing were adapted for him. Briant more than holds his own in the film; both he and Cushing give fine performances. However, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell was to become – as Robert rightly commented – a film of ‘lasts’; Hammer, by 1973, were beginning to ail as a company. Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell was shot in 1972 but would not be released until two years later due to distribution problems that Hammer were having with EMI at the time.
Frighten Brighton organisers Sarah James and Richard Gladman
The good news is that a Blu-ray of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell is due for release later this year, and will feature “a fully uncut version of the film restored from a newly unearthed pristine print”. Robert revealed to Starburst that an uncensored print was recently discovered in a vault in Los Angeles and is forming the basis of the restoration. What’s more, the Blu-ray disc will feature commentaries from Shane Briant and Marcus Hearn, author of the recent Hammer Vault. Hearn is overseeing the Blu-ray.
Shane Briant biographer, Robert Kenchington
And there is more good news for fans of Hammer and Shane Briant! On Sunday 4th March a triple bill of Shane Briant movies – Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter (1972), Picture of Dorian Gray (1973) and Beyond Dorian (short, 2010) - is showing at the Roxy Bar and Screen in London Bridge, London. (Doors open at 2pm).
The screening has been organised by Frighten Brighton’s Richard Gladman and Sarah James as part of their Classic Horror Campaign. Richard set up the campaign to persuade the BBC to bring back their iconic Saturday night classic horror double bills which were so popular in the 1970s and early 1980s. The campaign has grown from an online petition and now includes a website, a Facebook page and a regular series of classic horror double bill screenings around the UK. The campaign is being fronted by UK Scream Queen Emily Booth and is currently supported by various celebrities including: Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman, Reese Shearsmith, actress Eileen Daly, best-selling author David Moody and Hammer Horror stalwarts Caroline Munro and, of course, Shane Briant.
The next Frighten Brighton event is due to take place in August.
Richard Kenchington’s Official Shane Briant Tribute Site.