Ulli Lommel – A Fond Farewell

I lost one of my best and closest friends today when Ulli Lommel passed away.

The news reached me less than an hour before I started class (I was teaching all day), so I had to suppress the impact of everything until I finished up, almost 7 hours later. Then it hit me. Hard.

As many probably do when someone passes, I thought of the final few times we spoke, which was last week, before he fell Ill. With some kind of macabre prescience, our last few messages now seem like a very succinct farewell. I told him that I would always be there; to listen, to help, just to be present. He told me those words brought a tearful smile to his face. I also mentioned the joy that I took when I thought of our adventures together. And there were many adventures.

Ulli and I met when I was recommended to him as a competent writer who could help with a screenplay that needed developed quickly. Several years later, there have been many scripts, pitches, TV show bibles and collaborations created with one another, and we travelled the world working on them. I’ve seen and experienced things on those travels, the likes of which may never happen to me again. But all of it paled in comparison to our friendship, which meant everything to me.

I know a lot of people, but have a small number of close friends. Ulli Lommel was part of that family. Like family, we drove each other crazy at times, but it never took more than a few minutes to resolve itself. We trusted each other, and took great joy in each other’s company. I’ll never forget his stories and charm (and that’s not just because I helped write the English version of his autobiography), and I can’t even begin to fathom the hole which has been left in my life by his passing.

Ulli was so present in my life that if I write ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ on my phone, ‘Ulli’ is the word that autocorrect suggests. ‘Was so present’….everything has become past tense now. That’s one of the hardest adjustments.

Ulli always said he wanted to live in Ireland. He got to visit once, earlier this year, and I’m happy that he was able to experience it.

Two nights ago, I dreamed of Ulli. We were travelling on a train and he had a bunch of old photographs in his lap, some of which were no bigger than a stamp. Something about that dream stayed with me for the remainder of the day. Now I know that it was him saying goodbye.

Tonight, as I stepped out into the frosty night, there was a low lying mist and a beaming full moon. Perfect Boogeyman weather.

I raised a glass to the sky and said my own goodbyes.

But I’ll say them again. Goodbye Ulli and thank you for everything you have taught, fought and done for me. I love you and I will miss you.

Yours, Colin.


Leonard Cohen Dublin

Leonard Cohen – In Memoriam

Leonard Cohen left this world on Monday November 7th, 2016 at the age of 82. He was subsequently laid to rest in a quiet and private ceremony in Montreal before the public were made aware of his passing.

We all knew that this day would come, but I doubt any of us were truly prepared for it.

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Shadow’s Wing: Legacy of The Crow

People once believed that when someone dies, a crow carries their soul to the land of the dead.  But sometimes, something so bad happens that a terrible sadness is carried with it and the soul can’t rest. Then sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right.”


Horrific and destructive events take place on October 30th; Devil’s Night. Fires burn across a decaying city as a crow surveys the landscape from atop a spire. This is the modern Hell. A world of decay and corruption; one bereft of love and compassion, where blood is spilled without heed on a regular basis.

On Friday May 13th 1994, The Crow, Alex Proyas’ feature debut, based on the comic books of Detroit native James O’Barr, was released in cinemas across the United States. The first R-Rated adaptation of its kind, it created a template for the Gothic antihero which fit perfectly into the nihilistic pop culture of the era. Brandon Lee, for many, became the epitome of tragic beauty with his portrayal of Eric Draven, a budding musician who is slain the night before his wedding. Shelly Webster, his bride to be is brutally assaulted, raped and left for dead, only to pass shortly afterwards. The solace that a young companion, Sarah, found in the couple has been destroyed forever, casting her back into the uncaring world her mother inhabits; one of drugs, miscreants and squalor.

Before long, Draven rises from the grave and, guided by a crow, seeks out the perpetrators of his demise; systematically exacting revenge in a methodical and bloody manner. A range of unforgettable villains stand in the way of his redemption, as Lee transforms himself into The Crow; an angel, a ghost, a warrior.

This is the story of one of the most resonant and influential comic book movies of all time, told by those who were there, in an exclusive celebration of the twenty-first anniversary of the film that spawned a legacy.

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The Gentleman of the Golden Age – The Escapades of R Bolla aka Robert Kerman

Walking the dirty streets of Times Square in the mid-1970s was a world away from the glitzy Disneyland it has become today. Hookers, pimps, peep shows and dirty bookstores were the predominant form of business in the area. 42nd St was an endless gauntlet of theatres, each with marquees displaying a mixture of sensationalist and lascivious titles; this was the era of Grindhouse.

In the wake of Deep Throat (1972), the porn industry became fashionable, as upmarket couples slummed it in the filthy fleapits, dressed to the nines as they occupied the same seats that the raincoat brigade had shuffled in for years previously. The money began to roll in, and soon enough everyone wanted a cut. The number of films in production skyrocketed and the scene in New York became an entity unto itself. This is a story of one man who was there for the whole thing.

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Ed Wood: Passion and Prophecy

How two Hollywood screenwriters and a maverick director recreated the biopic.

Basking in the monochrome glory that is Ed Wood twenty one years after its initial release is somewhat of an otherworldly activity. To reflect upon the feature after all this time allows us to really see how influential, vital and groundbreaking a film it has become. Not only was it a turning point for director Tim Burton, along with writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (who conceived and developed the project), but it set a benchmark for ‘90s cinema, ushering in a new kind of character study; one which the writers have termed the ‘Anti-Great Man Film’.

To celebrate the anniversary of Ed Wood, I spoke with Alexander and Karaszewski to discover how it all came to be, how it affected their subsequent work, and why in the world they chose to focus on a relatively unknown B-Movie director who had been termed ‘The Worst Filmmaker Of All Time’.

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A Demon and a Gentleman: Dr Walpurgis and BBCs The Vault of Horror

‘Those busybodies from the National Viewers and Listeners Association have long ago given up waiting for any blasphemous bestiality. They’ve gone to bed with their cocoa.’ – Dr Walpurgis

Halloween night 1992 and the venerable British Broadcasting Corporation opened up its two main terrestrial channels and went all out in a manner of which had never been seen before. BBC1 presented the (staged) documentary Ghostwatch, which later caused a significant furore due to a massive amount of complains and a suicide case, for which the show was blamed in triggering. BBC2, its sister channel, held an extravagant and hitherto unparalleled horror all-nighter entitled The Vault of Horror.

The scheduling for the night delved into the world of contemporary genre in a manner of which mainstream television in the UK had never done before. The Horror Bites segments included interviews and mini documentaries about famous horror authors, the world of special effects, EC Comics, horror icons; such as Pinhead, Freddy and Jason, indie genre studios, sex and horror, Dario Argento and even a section focusing on Fangoria magazine, and the legacy which it had created. As the screen cast its luminescent hue across the living rooms of the unsuspecting British public, an early insight was given into the complexity, range and passion which existed within the industry at that time; all of which was presented by the most debonair, and striking demon ever to grace the airwaves. Interviews with Tom Savini, Anthony Timpone, Mary Lambert, Wes Craven, Sean Cunningham, Charles Band, Lloyd Kauffman, Richard Stanley and Jack Kamen were certainly not what people were used to seeing on British TV in the early ‘90s. It was, however, the continuity announcer who bound them all together, which struck a chord; paving the way for three subsequent seasons, which allowed Dr. Walpurgis (V for Vendetta / Harry Potter actor Guy Henry)  to become the UK’s only true horror host.

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Brian Yuzna’s Society – Exclusive Interview Essay

For the past two years I have been working on a book about the life and movies of the independent filmmaker Brian Yuzna. With over three decades of obscure, fantastical, and groundbreaking features to his name, Yuzna’s got more than a few stories to tell about life on the other side of Hollywood. As part of the extensive and exhaustive process, many interviews were carried out with his cohorts, both past and present.

Like any book, or similar creative project, our collaboration has taken on many forms over the course of its journey, with plenty of stop-offs and sidetracks along the way. One such event was a US BLU RAY release of Society, Yuzna’s directorial debut, which never came together for reasons too banal to enter into. One thing which did spring from that, however, was this neat little essay on the movie, which contains some brand new interviews with Billy Warlock and Special FX legend Screaming Mad George. This is shorter than the chapter in the book turned out to be, but will give a nice teaser as to some of the treats which lie in wait for all of Yuzna’s fans. 

I shall post more info on the release of the Yuzna book closer to the time, but here’s a little something to whet your collective appetites. 

‘Then we’ll all sing together; society waits for you’

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Peter Cushing, The Later Years by Those Who Knew Him.

Peter Cushing is one of the most highly regarded performers amongst all manner of cinephiles. He has adorned our screens as Dr. Who, Sherlock Holmes, Van Helsing, Baron Von Frankenstein and many other iconic roles.

When Peter Cushing’s centenary was celebrated in 2013, Signum Books released a superb collected edition of his journals, entitled Peter Cushing: The Complete Memoirs. During the run up to the release I was in contact with Marcus Hearn, the official Hammer Films historian who had been in contact with the Peter Cushing Estate as part of his work in compiling and releasing the publication.

After speaking with Hearn and his associate Jonathan Rigby about their work on the Hammer films Blu Ray edition of Terence Fisher’s Dracula, which I wrote about for Diabolique magazine, they asked if I would be interested in speaking with Joyce and Bernard Broughton, who both worked and, upon occasion, lived with Cushing.

Joyce and Bernard were a delight. Witty, charming and absolutely full of wonderful stories about the great man. To receive the opportunity to share in so many first-hand accounts of Cushing’s life was a true honour. The generosity and graciousness which the Broughton’s presented me with throughout our discourse is something I often reflect upon, and so here are a selection of personal remembrances on one of cinema’s last true gentlemen.

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The First Page Is Always The Worst

In any diary, notebook or journal, it’s always that first blank page which is the most daunting. In its untarnished state it holds the potential to be absolutely anything. Then, with no more than a hasty scrawl, it’s ruined. Or at least it can seem that way.

Nothing ever starts off perfect. Anything worthwhile takes time to cultivate and develop.

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