Transcript: The Nightmare People: Horror In The Cinema | Apr 13, 1989

Elwy appears in the studio. He’s in his fifties, mostly bald with some dark hair on the sides, and he has a moustache. He wears glasses, a tweed suit, a white shirt, and a chocolate brown tie. He hosts the program sitting on a chair against a black background with a red film reel. The reel reads “Talking Film” several times, alternately in white and orange.

He says WELCOME TO
TALKING FILM,
A SERIES OF PROGRAMS
ABOUT THE MOVIES BY THE
PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM.
I SUPPOSE THE FIRST TIME
I WAS EVER REALLY TRULY
SCARED IN A FILM WAS WAY
BACK WHEN I WAS SIX
BACK IN 1931, WHEN I SAW
JAMES WHALE'S GLORIOUS
PRODUCTION OF
“FRANKENSTEIN.”
AND THE SCENE WAS THE
SCENE WHERE KARLOFF,
THE MONSTER'S HAND, MOVES
FOR THE FIRST TIME.
IF YOU REMEMBER, HIS BODY
HAD BEEN SENT UP THROUGH
THAT TOWER AND LIGHTNING
HAS HIT IT AND CHARGED HIM,
AND BROUGHT THE
DEAD BODY TO LIFE.
AND THE HAND MOVES.
I THINK THE NEXT TIME WAS A
COUPLE OF YEARS LATER WHEN,
IN ANOTHER JAMES WHALE,
DELIGHTFUL HORROR FILM,
“THE INVISIBLE MAN,” CLAUDE
RAINS UNWINDS THE TAPE
THAT'S COVERING HIS
HEAD, AND OF COURSE
THERE'S NOTHING THERE.
AND THEN YEARS LATER, I WENT
TO THE “ISLE OF THE DEAD,”
THE VAL LEWTON FILM, AND
ENCOUNTERED THE SCENE
WHERE THEY BURY THAT GAL
IN A GREEK CRYPT ALIVE,
AND I'LL NEVER FORGET THE
CLOSE-UP OF THE COFFIN,
WATER COMING DOWN THROUGH
AN INTERSTICE IN THE ROOF
AND EXPLODING OFF THE LID.
THE CAMERA COMING CLOSE,
THE MUSIC SHRIEKING
AND CUTTING, AND
THEN THE SCREAMING
AND SCRATCHING
INSIDE THE LID.
HORROR HAS ALWAYS BEEN
A FAVOURITE KIND
OF SCREEN FARE FOR ME.
I'VE ENJOYED IT ALL
THROUGH THE '40s, TOO,
WITH THE WORK OF PEOPLE
LIKE THOROLD DICKINSON.
I'M THINKING OF “THE
QUEEN OF SPADES,”
AND RIGHT UP INTO THE '70s
AND '80s WITH THE WORK
OF CANADA'S DAVID
CRONENBERG.
HERE NOW ARE
PRACTITIONERS OF THE ART
OF HORROR TALKING FILM.

A caption reads “Thorold Dickinson.”

Thorold is in his mid-seventies, clean-shaven and with short wavy receding white hair. He wears glasses, black trousers and a mauve sweater.

Elwy says THOROLD DICKINSON, AT LEAST
TWO OF MY FAVOURITE HORROR
SCENES OF ALL TIME ARE
IN “THE QUEEN OF SPADES.”
AND THERE'S ONE I
PONDERED FOR 30 YEARS.
WONDERING HOW YOU GOT THE
STARTLING EFFECTS IN THAT
NIGHTMARE SCENE WITH THE
WIND COMING DOWN THE HALL.
MY GOD, IT IS EERIE.
STILL SCARES ME TODAY WHEN I
SEE IT OR EVEN THINK OF IT.
HOW WAS THAT SCENE
CREATED, SIR?
COULD YOU GIVE US
AN INSIGHT INTO IT?

Thorold says YES, WELL WE HAD WALBROOK
COMING UP THE PASSAGE
INTO HIS BEDROOM.
AND THEN YOU HEARD
THE COUNTESS
COMING ALONG THE
PASSAGE,
THE DEAD COUNTESS.

Elwy says THOSE SKIRTS!

Thorold says AND WALBROOK THEN
SLAMS THE DOOR ON HER.
AND THEN THE CAMERA
TILTS UP ONTO HIS HEAD.

Elwy says YES.

Thorold says WELL, THIS IS BECAUSE WE
HAD A GANG OF MEN JUST
OUTSIDE THE DOOR WITH AN
AIRPLANE PROPELLER AND
MOTOR ON A LITTLE
DOLLY, LITTLE TRUCK,
AND THEY THRUST IT INTO THE
DOORWAY AS SOON AS THE DOOR
WAS SHUT, YOU SEE, AND
SWITCHED ON THE ENGINE
WHICH BLEW - THE FORCE OF
THE WIND BLEW THE DOOR OPEN.
THAT WAS LITERALLY
BLOWN OPEN BY WIND.
WE HAD THE CAMERA TIED,
ROOTED TO THE FLOOR
BECAUSE IT ROCKED
OTHERWISE.
AND EVERYBODY HUNG
ON TO VARIOUS THINGS
THEY COULD IN ORDER
NOT TO FALL OVER.
THEN ALL THE FOLLOWING SHOTS
WERE MADE IN THE SAME SORT
OF WAY WITH THIS AIRPLANE
ENGINE BLOWING EVERYTHING.

Elwy says COULD YOU DESCRIBE THE
BUILD-UP TO ANOTHER
FAVOURITE MOMENT OF MINE,
AND IT'S THE ONE IN WHICH
THE COUNTESS, THE DEAD
COUNTESS IS LYING ON HER BIER
IN THE CATHEDRAL, AND
WALBROOK IS STANDING THERE,
AND SUDDENLY, IN DEATH,
SHE OPENS HER EYES.

Thorold says YES.

Elwy says ABSOLUTELY SCARY
MOMENT.
COULD YOU DESCRIBE,
FIRST OF ALL -

Thorold says SHE JUST OPENED
HER EYES.

Elwy says BUT AUDIENCES REACTED VERY
STRONGLY TO THAT SCENE.

Thorold says WELL, OF COURSE, YES.
PEOPLE TOLD ME,
VARIOUS PEOPLE TOLD ME
THAT PEOPLE SITTING IN
THE AUDITORIUM SHOT
TO THEIR FEET
AND SCREAMED.
ONE WOMAN FELL FLAT IN
THE AISLE, AND SO ON.

Elwy says THE END OF THE FILM ITSELF
HAS A FEELING OF CATHARSIS,
WHEN YVONNE MITCHELL
LETS THE BIRDS LOOSE.
THAT'S ABOUT THE
ONLY PATCH OF SKY,
I THINK, WE SEE,
ISN'T IT?

Thorold says YES, THAT'S THE
ONLY REAL SKY.

Elwy says EVERYTHING.

Thorold says EVERYTHING ELSE
WAS INDOORS.

Elwy says DID YOU PLAN IT AS A KIND
OF CATHARSIS FOR ALL OF US TO-

Thorold says NO, WE SIMPLY SAID, HOW
CAN WE RELEASE THE BIRDS
AND BE SURE, YOU KNOW, THEY
AREN'T GOING TO GET STUCK
IN THE RAFTERS OF
THE STUDIO.
I SAID, WHY DON'T WE
DO IT OUT OF DOORS.
SO WE DID.

Elwy says BECAUSE THE EFFECT OF
HAVING BEEN CLOISTERED,
I REMEMBER AT THE TIME
THINKING WHEN I FIRST SAW IT,
IT HAD A LOT OF
THE FEELING OF
“THE CABINET OF DOCTOR CALIGARI.”
BLOWING YOUR OWN WAY.
BUT IT'S STILL AMAZING
TO SEE A FILM WITH THOSE
INCREDIBLE GAMBLING
AND DRINKING SCENES,
THAT BEARS NO CONNECTION
WITH ENGLAND OR AN ENGLISHMAN.
A TOTALLY RUSSIAN
KIND OF MOVIE.
AND I STILL SIT,
AND AM AMAZED, SIR.

Thorold says ONE ODDITY ABOUT THE WHOLE
PROJECT WAS THAT AFTER
WE'D BEEN SHOOTING, YOU
KNOW, EARLY STUFF EVERY DAY,
AND REWRITING SCRIPT, I
SAID, BUT BY THE WAY,
HOW DO THEY PLAY
THIS GAME?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
AND NOBODY KNEW.
NOBODY HAD ACTUALLY FOUND
OUT HOW THE GAME PLAYS.
IT'S ALMOST UNBELIEVABLE.
AND MY WIFE, JOANNA, WENT
TO HARRODS' BOOK SHOP,
AND FOUND A BOOK
ON CARD GAMES
IN WHICH FARO
WAS ANALYZED,
VARIOUS FORMS
OF FARO.
SOME MORE COMPLICATED
THAN OTHERS.
SHE BOUGHT THE BOOK
AND BROUGHT IT HOME,
AND WE BEGAN PLAYING THE
SIMPLEST VERSION OF IT.
AND RANG WALBROOK
UP AND SAID,
COME OVER AND HAVE
A GAME OF FARO.
AND HE SAID, HAVE YOU FOUND
OUT WHAT THE GAME IS ABOUT?
WE SAID, YES, WE HAD
TO FIND OUT SOME TIME.
AND SO WE JUST, IN THE
CLIMAX OF THE FILM,
I SHOT THE PLAYING OF THE
CARD GAME JUST AS I WOULD
A MILITARY TRAINING FILM.
JUST SOMETHING ABSOLUTELY
CLEAR CUT DEMONSTRATION
OF HOW THE GAME GOES.
THIS HAD A STRANGE EFFECT
BECAUSE WE SHOT MILES OF IT.
WE HAD 25 MINUTES OF
FOOTAGE THE FOLLOWING DAY
OF THE FIRST DAY.
AND WE SAW THE RUSHES.
EVERYBODY GOT
VERY EXCITED.
AND SO THEY RANG UP THE
HEAD OFFICE IN LONDON
AND STREAMS OF THESE
MILLIONAIRES CAME DOWN
BY CAR TO OUR FUNNY
LITTLE STUDIO.
AND THEY RAN THE RUSHES OVER
AND OVER AGAIN TO THESE
ASTONISHED MEN WHO DIDN'T
KNOW WHAT THE GAME WAS ABOUT,
AND THEY'D NEVER
BOTHERED TO FIND OUT.

Elwy chuckles.

Elwy says THOROLD DICKINSON, LOOKING
OVER YOUR LONG
AND MOST DISTINGUISHED
CAREER, A GREAT
THOROLD DICKINSON
IS “GASLIGHT.”
THIS IS THE FIRST
FILM VERSION,
NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH THE
LATER HOLLYWOOD VERSION.
IT'S A MARVELLOUS FILM,
BUT IT SEEMED TO ME,
YOU CAN BETTER
TELL US ABOUT THIS,
THAT IT WAS SUPPRESSED FOR
A LONG WHILE, WASN'T IT?
IT WASN'T GIVEN
THE DISTRIBUTION
IT SHOULD HAVE HAD
FOR A LONG WHILE.

Thorold says MGM SAW IT; IT WAS TAKEN OVER
TO HOLLYWOOD DURING THE WAR,
AND THEY WANTED TO
GET DOLLARS AND SO ON.
AND MGM SAW IT AS A VEHICLE
FOR WHOEVER IT WAS -

Elwy says CHARLES BOYER.
AND INGRID BERGMAN
AND JOSEPH COTTEN.

Thorold says AND THE NEXT THING THAT
HAPPENED WAS A CABLE,
A TELEGRAM, 100
PAGES OF TELEGRAM...
FROM...

Elwy says HOLLYWOOD.

Thorold says YES.
WHO IS THAT FAMOUS
PRODUCER THERE,
THE MAN WHO MADE
“GONE WITH THE WIND”?

Elwy says SELZNICK.

Thorold says SELZNICK.
IT HAD 2,600
WORDS IN IT.

Elwy says DEAR GOD.

Thorold says AND IT WAS JUST A
REASON WHY I SHOULD DROP
EVERYTHING AND GO TO
HOLLYWOOD AND WORK WITH HIM.
HE DIDN'T SAY HE WANTED
TO REMAKE THE FILM,
BUT I JUST SENT BACK AND
SAID, WHEN THE WAR IS OVER,
I WOULD BE DELIGHTED.
I WAS SO ANGRY WITH THE
PEOPLE WHO WENT TO HOLLYWOOD
DURING THE WAR.

Elwy says SO WAS IT THE
AMERICAN VERSION THEN,
TO GET IT STRAIGHT,
MISTER DICKINSON,
THAT KIND OF HELD
BACK YOUR VERSION?

Thorold says OH, YES.
THEY JUST SUPPRESSED
OUR VERSION.

Elwy says THEY MISSED THE
WHOLE ATMOSPHERE.

Thorold says I DON'T KNOW.
I ONLY SAW A
BIT OF IT.

Elwy says I SAW IT ALL.
AND THERE'S ABSOLUTELY
NO COMPARISON.
OH, NO, NO, IT WAS
ANOTHER HOLLYWOOD FLOP.

Thorold says THEY ADDED ALL
SORT OF STUFF TO IT.
WE TOOK THE PLAY
ON ITS OWN.

Elwy says THEY CREATED A ROMANTIC
ROLE FOR INSPECTOR ROUGH
CHANGED HIS NAME.
PUT JOSEPH COTTEN IN IT.
ABSOLUTELY SCANDALOUS
BY COMPARISON.
MISTER DICKINSON,
THERE WAS A MACABRE,
DELICIOUSLY MACABRE
FEELING IN “GASLIGHT.”
AND MY COLLEAGUES AND I FEEL
THAT IT PROBABLY LED AND
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GORGEOUS
MACABRENESS - I WAS GOING
TO SAY MACABRERY -
IN “DEAD OF NIGHT,”
WHICH WAS NOT ONE
OF YOUR FILMS.
BUT I THINK IT CONTRIBUTED,
DIDN'T IT, TO OTHER FILMS?

Thorold says I WOULDN'T KNOW.
I KNOW THAT THE SECRET OF
“GASLIGHT” WAS SIMPLY
THAT WE MADE IT
IN CONTINUITY.
WE BUILT THE WHOLE
HOUSE AT DENHAM STUDIOS,
WHICH WERE DESERTED
BECAUSE OF THE WAR.
WE JUST BUILT
THE WHOLE HOUSE,
AND WE WORKED OUR WAY
THROUGH THE STORY
IN STORY CONTINUITY,
YOU SEE?

Elwy says VERY UNUSUAL.

Thorold says IF PEOPLE WALKED OUT OF
A ROOM AND UP THE STAIRS
AND SO ON, WE JUST MOVED
TO THE STAIRCASE SET
AND GO ON UP THE STAIRS.
SO WE KNEW THE MENTAL
CONDITION OF EVERYBODY
ALL THE TIME, FROM
BEGINNING TO END.

Elwy says AND BUILT A
TREMENDOUS ATMOSPHERE.

Thorold says IT HELPED.
IT COULDN'T HAVE
BEEN DONE OTHERWISE.
I CAN'T IMAGINE HOW IT COULD
HAVE BEEN MADE, YOU KNOW,
WITH ALL THE
DRAWING ROOM SCENES,
AND THEN ALL THE
BEDROOM, AND THEN
ALL THE STAIRCASES,
AND SO ON.

Elwy says DO YOU KNOW OF ANY OTHER
FILM MADE THAT WAY?
I'VE NEVER HEARD OF A FILM
MADE IN ORDER, IN SEQUENCE.

Thorold says I THINK THEY HAVE.
IN HOLLYWOOD
THEY'VE DONE THAT.
BUT THIS WAS CERTAINLY
THE FIRST TIME IN EUROPE.
AND THEN WE CUT IT,
YOU SEE, AS WE WENT ALONG,
SO THAT EVERY DAY WE WOULD
SEE, IN THE EARLY MORNING,
THE PREVIOUS DAY'S
WORK SILENT.
AND THEN AT LUNCH TIME,
SYNCHRONIZE, WE'D CHOOSE IT.
AND BY THE EVENING, IT
WAS ALL CUT TOGETHER.

Elwy says IN FACT, IT WAS THAT
ABILITY THAT ALLOWED YOU
TO PERSUADE MISTER WALBROOK
THAT YOU WERE REALLY UP
TO SOMETHING, WASN'T IT?

Thorold says YES.
WALBROOK WAS VERY
HAPPY AFTER THAT.

Elwy says BUT HE WASN'T HAPPY
UP UNTIL THEN, WAS HE?

Thorold says NO.
HE THOUGHT I WAS
BEING TOO RESTRAINED
WITH HIS PERFORMANCE.
AND HE COULDN'T
UNDERSTAND IT.
AND DIANA WYNYARD, WHO WAS
A VERY GOOD FRIEND OF HIS,
SHE WAS AWFULLY
GOOD TO US ALL.
AND SHE CAME AND SAID, WE'VE
GOT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS.
SO WE SHOWED HIM THE FILM.
HE WAS SO ASTONISHED TO SEE
HIS PREVIOUS DAY'S WORK
ACTUALLY CUT
INTO FINAL ORDER.
HE COULDN'T UNDERSTAND IT.

Elwy says WON HIM OVER.

Thorold says I USED TO WORK AT EALING
AS AN EDITOR, YOU SEE?
ALL THROUGH THE '30s I WAS
THEIR CHIEF FILM EDITOR.

Elwy says DO YOU THINK THIS FORMS A
SUBSTANTIAL PART OF YOUR
LATER DIRECTORIAL CRAFT,
YOUR EXPERIENCE IN EDITING?

Thorold says OH, VERY MUCH, YES.

Elwy says VERY IMPORTANT THEN.

Thorold says I THINK THAT EDITING IS
AS IMPORTANT AS ANYTHING.
WRITING, ALSO, OF COURSE.
WRITING THE SCRIPT.
BUT EDITING, KNOWING HOW THE
THING WILL CUT TOGETHER,
IT'S SO ECONOMICAL,
FOR ONE THING.
WE USED TO, IN
“GASLIGHT,” FOR INSTANCE,
THERE WASN'T A SINGLE
NUMBER ON THE NUMBER BOARD.
YOU KNOW, YOU HOLD
UP THE NUMBER BOARD
AT THE BEGINNING
OF A SHOT.
IN THE FINISHED
FILM “GASLIGHT,”
THERE WERE ONLY TWO
SHOTS THAT WERE NOT
IN THE FINAL FILM.
THEY WERE BOTH SAFETY
SHOTS TAKEN IN CASE
TWO OTHER SEQUENCES
WERE TOO LONG.

Elwy says BOY, SPEAKING OF PLANNING
AND ECONOMY, DEAR LORD.

Thorold says YOU SEE, IN THAT FILM,
THERE IS ALSO A CAN-CAN
SEQUENCE WITH
CAN-CAN DANCERS.
OF COURSE THAT
WAS SHOT AD LIB.
BUT WE USED ALL THE
SHOTS FOR THAT, TOO.
THERE WASN'T A SINGLE
CAMERA POSITION THAT WASN'T
INCLUDED IN THE
FINISHED FILM.

Elwy says THOROLD DICKINSON, WHAT DO
YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT FILM?
IS THERE ONE THING THERE
THAT HAS ALWAYS GRABBED
YOUR IMAGINATION THAT
YOU'VE LOVED MOST?
OR IS IT MORE
COMPLICATED THAN THAT?
BUT IS THERE SOMETHING BASIC
ABOUT CINEMA AND FILM
THAT YOU'VE MOST
BEEN INTRIGUED BY,
AMONGST ALL OTHER
THINGS IN YOUR LIFE?

Thorold says WELL, I THINK THAT I'VE
BEEN ABLE TO PROVE
THAT FILMS CAN HAVE AS
MUCH INFLUENCE ON PEOPLE,
AS WORDS, BOOKS,
LITERATURE.
AND AS LONG AS YOU MAKE
THE FILM IN A FILMIC WAY -

Elwy says YES.

Thorold says AND YOU DON'T DO AN
IMITATION OF LITERATURE
OR A STAGE PLAY,
YOU CAN SEND PEOPLE
OUT OF THE AUDITORIUM
ABSOLUTELY SEIZED.
I REMEMBER, FOR INSTANCE,
THE TRADE SHOW
OF “GASLIGHT,” WHICH TOOK
PLACE ON THE DAY AFTER
FRANCE FELL, AND THE DAY
THE BELGIAN KING GAVE UP
AND EVERYTHING, AND PEOPLE
SAID NOBODY WILL EVER
GO TO SEE A FILM
ON SUCH A DAY.
AND THE PLACE WAS PACKED,
AND SITTING IN THE AISLES.
EVERY LAW WAS BROKEN.
I CAME DOWN INTO THE
FOYER, AND A GIRL
WAS JUST COMING
DOWN BY ME.
AND OUTSIDE WAS
THE EVENING
STANDARD
ON SALE
WITH A SIGN SAYING
SOMETHING ABOUT THE WAR.
AND THIS GIRL SAID, MY
GOD, THERE'S A WAR ON!
I MEAN, QUITE
GENUINELY.
SHE'D FORGOTTEN!
WELL, I THINK, THAT'S
SOMETHING CINEMA CAN DO.

Elwy says ON MY LEFT NOW IN THE
STUDIO IS A MAN I'VE NEVER
HAD THE PLEASURE OF
MEETING UNTIL TONIGHT,
BUT I'VE CERTAINLY
HEARD ABOUT HIM.
AND HE SCARED ME HALF TO
DEATH FOR ABOUT EIGHT YEARS.
DAVID CRONENBERG.
DAVID, NICE TO SEE YOU.

David is in his mid-thirties, clean-shaven and with short slightly wavy brown hair. He wears glasses, jeans, a tweed suit jacket and a pale blue shirt.

David says NICE TO BE HERE.

Elwy says I THINK THE FIRST PICTURE
I EVER SAW OF YOURS, SIR,
WAS “CRIMES OF THE FUTURE.”
WHEN WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN?

David says THAT WAS MADE ABOUT 1970.
AND IT WAS REALLY - COMPARED
WITH THE LATER FILMS,
IT WAS REALLY AN
EXPERIMENTAL FILM,
AN UNDERGROUND FILM.

Elwy says BUT YOU HAVE TO MAKE
THOSE, DON'T YOU?
YOU HAVE TO HONE YOURSELF,
YOUR TEETH ON SOMETHING,
I SUPPOSE.

David says I THINK SO.
ALTHOUGH THE WAY THAT
I STARTED IN CANADA,
IT WAS DIFFERENT,
NATURALLY, FROM THE WAY
YOU MIGHT START IN
CALIFORNIA.
WHEN I STARTED, THERE
WEREN'T ANY FILM SCHOOLS.
YOU COULDN'T EVEN GET A
CREDIT IN FILM HISTORY
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF
TORONTO, AND THAT'S ONLY
MAYBE TEN YEARS AGO.
SO I HAD NOTHING - I HAD
TO START AT THE TOP,
WHICH IS IN THE SENSE I HAD
TO WRITE, DIRECT, PRODUCE,
EDIT, CUT THE NEGATIVE
OF ALL MY OWN FILMS.
AND THAT'S WHAT I DID WITH
“CRIMES OF THE FUTURE.”
AND THAT'S REALLY HOW
I LEARNED MY CRAFT,
RATHER THAN WORKING ON
OTHER PEOPLE'S PICTURES.

Elwy says WELL, YOU'VE CERTAINLY
GONE A LONG WAY
SINCE THOSE DAYS.
DOES THE EPITHET, THE
SOBRIQUET, BARON OF BLOOD,
BOTHER YOU?

David says WELL, IT BOTHERS ME
BECAUSE I USED TO BE CALLED
THE KING OF BLOOD.
AND IT'S LIKE A
DEMOTION, YOU KNOW,
TO BE ONLY THE BARON.

Elwy laughs.
Elwy says OH, THAT'S VERY FUNNY.
I THINK IT'S BETTER.
IT'S EERIER.

David says IT'S ALLITERATE.

Elwy says IT'S MORE VINCENT
PRICEIAN, ISN'T IT?
THE BARON OF BLOOD.

David says YES, IT IS.
MIND YOU, THERE'S A
PROBLEM, TOO BECAUSE
ALTHOUGH I LOVE THE VINCENT
PRICE MOVIES, STILL,
I OFTEN FEEL I AM DEFINING
MYSELF AGAINST THOSE KIND
OF MOVIES JUST BECAUSE THEY
ARE ASSOCIATED WITH A KIND
OF CAMPY, OVERNESS THAT I
DON'T DO WITH MY FILMS.
AND IN FACT, I'VE SOMETIMES
BEEN TAKEN TO TASK BY CRITICS
BECAUSE MY FILMS AREN'T
LIGHT, FLUFFY, AND CAMPY.
AND OF COURSE FOR ME, THAT'S
NOT WHAT A HORROR FILM IS.

Elwy says NO, NO.
YOU ONCE SAID, QUOTE,
AND I HAVE IT HERE,
“THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS
A TASTEFUL HORROR FILM.”
EXPLAIN.

David says WELL, OFTEN CRITICS WILL
NAIL YOU FOR LACK OF TASTE.
NOW, LACK OF TASTE IS
SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN -
THAT I THINK IS SOMETHING
THAT CAN BE A POSITIVE
ATTRIBUTE FOR SOMEONE'S
SENSIBILITY AND, IN FACT,
TASTE - I DON'T KNOW
WHOSE QUOTE IT IS -
I THINK I READ IT IN
MARSHALL MCLUHAN'S BOOK,
GOOD TASTE IS THE
REFUGE OF THE WITLESS.

Elwy says A REFUGE OF THE WITLESS.

David says YES.
BECAUSE YOU CAN
SUBSTITUTE GOOD TASTE
FOR A GENUINE RESPONSE.
TASTE CAN BE A
LEARNED THING.
THE THINGS THAT I'M
DEALING WITH IN MY FILMS
ARE VERY BASIC,
VERY PRIMORDIAL.
AND THEY DON'T -
VERY PRIMAL.
AND AT THOSE LEVELS
OF CONSCIOUSNESS AND
SENSITIVITY, TASTE IS
JUST NOT A QUESTION.
IT'S NOT REALLY A QUESTION
OF GOOD TASTE OR BAD TASTE.
THE THINGS THAT
WE ARE AFRAID OF,
THE THINGS THAT HORRIFY US,
THE THINGS THAT ARE REAL
IN LIFE THAT ARE AT TIMES
UNBEARABLE TO CONTEMPLATE,
THOSE THINGS HAVE
NOTHING TO DO WITH TASTE.
AND THAT'S WHY I CAN'T
IMAGINE A HORROR FILM
THAT IS IN GOOD TASTE.
TO ME, THOSE THINGS, THEY
JUST DON'T GO TOGETHER.

Elwy says EVEN MORE SUBTLE PICTURES,
LIKE “DEAD OF NIGHT,”
I WAS GOING TO SAY, WHICH
RELIES MORE ON THE POWER
OF SUGGESTION THAN SAY,
“THE BROOD,” THAT YOU MADE.

David says YES.
AND “THE QUEEN OF
SPADES” AS WELL.
THE THING THERE IS I
THINK THEIR APPROACH,
AND THE THINGS THEY
ARE DEALING WITH
ARE SLIGHTLY
DIFFERENT FROM MINE.
I HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO READ
THE REVIEWS OF THOSE FILMS
WHEN THEY CAME OUT.
YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO
FIND THAT THE CRITICS
OF THOSE TIMES ALSO THOUGHT
THEY WERE IN POOR TASTE.

Elwy says THAT'S INTERESTING.
I MUST GO BACK.
I WOULD SAY, THOUGH, THAT
WHEN “RABID” WAS PREMIERED
IN MONTREAL, I READ
THAT 37 PEOPLE FAINTED
OVER A SCENE SHOWING THE
SLICING OF A FINGERTIP
ON THE SCREEN, DAVID.
IS THAT TRUE?

David says YES, THAT'S TRUE.

Elwy says WHAT WERE YOU UP
TO, DEAR FRIEND?

David says WELL, WHAT WERE
THEY UP TO?
WHY DID THEY FAINT?

Elwy says WHAT WERE THEY UP
TO FOR FAINTING.
BLAMING THE AUDIENCE.
BUT WHAT WERE YOU UP TO
SCARING THE WITS OUT OF THEM?

David says WELL, THE THING
IS, OF COURSE,
THAT YOU NEVER KNOW
EXACTLY WHAT RESPONSE
YOU'RE GOING TO
GET FROM A SCENE.
NOW, THIS IS NOT
JUST A HORROR FILM,
THIS IS IN ANY
DRAMATIC ENDEAVOUR.
IT'S VERY HARD TO
GAUGE WHAT RESPONSE
YOU'RE GOING TO
GET FROM PEOPLE.
AND IN FACT, IT'S VERY
INTERESTING TO NOTICE
THAT THOSE 37 PEOPLE WHO
FAINTED WERE ALL BOYS,
THEY WERE ALL
FRENCH CANADIAN,
AND THEY WERE ALL BETWEEN
THE AGES OF 14 AND 17.
I CAN GIVE A VERY FREUDIAN
INTERPRETATION TO THAT,
BUT IT HAS SOMETHING TO
DO WITH CULTURE AND AGE,
AND I COULDN'T HAVE
ANTICIPATED THAT BECAUSE
I'M NOT FROM QUEBEC,
I'M NOT A CATHOLIC,
I DON'T KNOW EXACTLY
WHY NO WOMEN,
NO ENGLISH-SPEAKING
PEOPLE FAINTED.

Elwy says JUST THOSE BOYS.
YOU SENT “THE SHIVER.”
SCRIPT, I GATHER,
TO ROGER CORMAN,
THE FAMOUS CORMAN
AT AMERICAN
INTERNATIONAL.

David says YES, AND I DON'T THINK
HE EVER READ IT HIMSELF.
BUT WHAT I WAS TRYING
TO DO THEN WAS,
IN CANADA AT THAT TIME, NO
ONE HAD MADE A HORROR FILM.
IN FACT, I'M STILL ONE OF
THE FEW WHO MAKE GENRE
PICTURES HERE,
SOMETHING THAT IS NOT
COMMONLY DONE IN CANADA.
AND I THINK IT'S
A MISTAKE NOT TO.
AT THAT TIME I WAS TOLD
THAT YOU COULDN'T MAKE
A LOW-BUDGET HORROR FILM.
I HAD APPROACHED THE FILM
DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION
WITH A BUDGET, AND THEY SAID
YOU COULDN'T MAKE A FILM
FOR THAT LITTLE MONEY.
SO I WENT DOWN TO THE STATES
TO SEE IF I COULD PROVE,
BY GOING TO PEOPLE LIKE
ROGER CORMAN, WHO,
OF COURSE, HAD A LOT OF
EXPERIENCE MAKING LOW-BUDGET
HORROR FILMS, TO GET
SOMEONE OF AUTHORITY
TO SAY, YES, I COULD
MAKE THIS PICTURE
FOR THAT MUCH MONEY.
AND OF COURSE, HE DID.
AND I WAS ABLE TO CONVINCE
THE FILM DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION THAT THEY
SHOULD MAKE “SHIVERS.”
THAT THEY SHOULD
INVEST IN “SHIVERS.”
OF COURSE, THEY
REGRETTED IT LATER.
THEY REGRETTED IT BECAUSE THEY
WORRIED IT WAS TOO EXTREME
FOR THE GOVERNMENT
TO BE INVOLVED IN.

Elwy says THEY REALLY DID
HAVE GUILT?

David says OH, YES.
BECAUSE THE PEOPLE,
AT THAT TIME,
WERE HALF BUSINESSMEN,
HALF BUREAUCRATS.
AND THEY HAD SEVERAL MASTERS
THAT THEY HAD TO APPEASE.
AND AFTER “SHIVERS.”
CAME OUT, THERE WERE
QUESTIONS RAISED IN THE
HOUSES OF PARLIAMENT
ABOUT WHY IS TAXPAYERS'
MONEY GOING INTO THIS MOVIE.
THOSE TYPES OF THINGS.
IT WAS PRETTY
ENTERTAINING.

Elwy says ROBERT FULFORD, THE
MANAGING EDITOR
OF
SATURDAY NIGHT
MAGAZINE, HE CALLED IT
“THE MOST REPULSIVE HORROR
MOVIE I'VE EVER SEEN.”
AND HE BLASTED.
HE SAID THAT, DIDN'T HE?

David says I THINK HE SAID IT'S
THE MOST REPULSIVE MOVIE
HE'D EVER SEEN PERIOD,
WHICH I TAKE AS THE
ULTIMATE COMPLIMENT.

Elwy says I GUESS.
I GUESS, PUT
THAT WAY, IT IS.
HE CERTAINLY BLASTED THE
CFDC FOR INVESTING IN IT.

David says NOW, FOR HIM TO GIVE A
NEGATIVE CRITICAL APPRAISAL
OF THE FILM, AND TO REACT
TO IT PERSONALLY, THAT,
OF COURSE, IS FINE, I
CAN'T QUARREL WITH THAT.
BUT FOR HIM TO GO ON AND SAY
I SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED,
IN ESSENCE, WAS WHAT HE
WAS SAYING, I, PERSONALLY,
DAVID CRONENBERG, SHOULD
NOT BE ALLOWED TO MAKE FILMS.
I THOUGHT THAT
WAS GOING TOO FAR.
AND THAT'S THE PART THAT
I WAS VERY UPSET ABOUT
BECAUSE OF THAT ARTICLE.
AND IN FACT, IT TOOK QUITE A
WHILE TO GET “RABID” MADE.
AND THE FILM DEVELOPMENT
CORPORATION WAS VERY RELUCTANT
TO INVEST IN “RABID” JUST
BECAUSE OF REACTIONS LIKE THAT.

Elwy says BUT THEY DID COME AROUND.

David says THEY FINALLY DID.
BUT IT TOOK ABOUT
TWO YEARS.

Elwy says BUT “SHIVERS,” LOOK,
IT COST ABOUT $185,000,
AND IT GROSSED ABOUT
$3 MILLION, AM I RIGHT?

David says THAT'S RIGHT.

Elwy says AND IT WAS SHOWN, HOW
ARE STATISTICS HERE,
IN ABOUT 32
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES?

David says OH, I THINK EVEN MORE.

Elwy says I MEAN, IT'S
A WORLD BEATER.
THEY MUST BE
CHANGING THEIR VIEWS.

David says NOW, IT'S A WHOLE
NEW BALL GAME.

Elwy says YOU'RE AN INSTITUTION.
WELL, I MEAN, I WON'T
SAY TOTALLY SACROSANCT.
YOU'VE STILL GOT A LONG WAY
TO GO, I GUESS, IN LIFE.

David says I HOPE NOT.
YES, BUT IT WOULD PLEASE ME
TO THINK THAT I HAD MANAGED
TO CHANGE THE ATTITUDE OF
THE CFDC TO GENRE PICTURES.

Elwy says WHAT'S THE GRISLIEST
SCENE IN “RABID”?

David says THE GRISLIEST
SCENE IN “RABID”?
I THINK PROBABLY THAT
FINGERTIP SCENE.
IT'S A SCENE IN AN OPERATING
ROOM WHERE A CRAZED DOCTOR
CUTS THE TIP OF A FINGER
OFF OF HIS NURSE,
WHO IS ALSO HIS WIFE.
IT IS SCARIER AND SOMEHOW
HARDER FOR PEOPLE TO TAKE
THAN SCENES THAT INVOLVE
MACHINE GUNNINGS
AND MORE
GROSS MUTILATION.
AND I THINK, NOW, THAT'S
RELATIVELY SUBTLE, YOU SEE?

Elwy says IS THERE A MORAL
RESPONSIBILITY IN THE PART
OF A DIRECTOR LIKE YOURSELF
FOR WHAT HAPPENS TO AUDIENCES?
WHAT YOU PUT THEM THROUGH?

David says WELL, I DON'T FEEL THAT I
HAVE A VERY WELL-DEFINED
RESPONSE TO THAT, WHICH
IS I FEEL HORROR FILMS,
AND FILMS OF VIOLENCE ARE
GOOD FOR SOCIETY IN GENERAL.
I THINK THE THEORY OF
CATHARSIS, THE 3,000-YEAR-OLD
THEORY OF CATHARSIS THAT
IS ARISTOTLE'S, HOLDS TRUE.
THAT THERE IS A WAY OF
PURGING FEARS, ANXIETIES,
HOSTILITIES THROUGH
ART, THROUGH THEATRE,
THROUGH PAINTINGS, THROUGH
NOVELS, THROUGH MOVIES,
AND THAT, IN FACT, I
DON'T, FOR ONE MINUTE,
BELIEVE THAT PEOPLE ARE
MADE VIOLENT BY SEEING
VIOLENCE ON FILM,
OR ON TELEVISION.

Elwy says I GO ALONG WITH
YOU THERE.
DAVID CRONENBERG,
WHY THE BIG REVIVAL
IN HORROR IN THE '70s?
AND I'M THINKING
PARTICULARLY OF THE
PHENOMENAL SUCCESS
OF THAT CULT PICTURE,
“THE ROCKY HORROR
PICTURE SHOW.”
I'VE NOT BEEN
TO THE RITUAL.
WOULD YOU CARE TO MAKE
SOME STATEMENTS ABOUT IT,
AND ABOUT HORROR,
GENERALLY,
IN THE LAST SEVEN
OR EIGHT YEARS?

David says SURE.
WELL, TO BE QUITE
FRANK, I DON'T THINK
THERE HAS BEEN A REVIVAL
OF HORROR IN '70s.
I THINK IT'S
ALWAYS BEEN STRONG.
I DON'T THINK
THERE'S A CYCLE.
I THINK YOU'LL FIND
EVERY YEAR, PRACTICALLY,
GOING BACK, AS LONG
AS YOU'D LIKE TO GO,
THERE HAS BEEN
ONE HORROR FILM,
OR TWO HORROR FILMS
THAT HAVE BEEN
SPECTACULARLY SUCCESSFUL.
AND I THINK THAT HORROR
IN LITERATURE, IN FILMS,
HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF
SOMETHING THAT HUMANS NEED.
IT'S A WAY OF CONFRONTING
THINGS THAT ARE NOT
NORMALLY CONFRONTED IN
WALKING AROUND LIFE.
AND TO ME, YOU SEE, “THE
ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW.”
IS NOT A HORROR PICTURE.
IT'S WHAT A LOT OF PEOPLE
THINK HORROR FILMS ARE
WHEN THEY THINK OF BELA
LUGOSI AS DRACULA,
AND WHEN THEY THINK
OF “FRANKENSTEIN.”
THEY THINK OF CAMP.
THEY'RE THINKING OF
FUNNY, THAT THEY CAN
LOOK AT THESE
FILMS AND LAUGH.
AND WHAT THEY DON'T REALIZE
IS THAT WHEN “FRANKENSTEIN.”
WAS FIRST WRITTEN, IT
WAS A SERIOUS EXPRESSION
OF THE HORROR AND THE
ANXIETY BROUGHT TO PEOPLE
BY THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION,
AND A LOT OF OTHER THINGS,
THE CREATION OF A MONSTER,
A MACHINE MONSTER
THAT NO ONE COULD CONTROL.
IT WAS SERIOUS.
AND I THINK “THE ROCKY
HORROR PICTURE SHOW.”
BECAUSE IT IS CAMPY, AND
BECAUSE IT IS A SEND-UP,
IS REALLY SOMETHING ELSE.
THIS IS NOT A VALUE JUDGMENT
IN TERMS OF WHAT'S GOOD AND
WORTHWHILE, AND WHAT ISN'T.
I DON'T THINK “THE ROCKY
HORROR PICTURE SHOW.”
IS A HORROR FILM.

Elwy says BUT WHAT ARE
PEOPLE DOING THERE?
THEY'RE TAKING OUT
CIGARETTE LIGHTERS
WHEN PEOPLE ON
THE SCREEN ARE
AND THROWING RICE WHEN
THERE IS A WEDDING.
THERE'S AN INCREDIBLE
RITUAL, APPARENTLY.

David says YES, YES.

Elwy says IS IT RELIGIOUS?
IS IT A RELIGIOUS
REVIVALISM OF A KIND
THAT WE'RE NOT
AWARE OF?

David says WELL, IT MIGHT
BE A REVERSAL.
I THINK IT HAS TO DO WITH A
KIND OF SURROGATE FAMILY.
IT IS LIKE A WEDDING
WHERE YOU MEET PEOPLE
THAT YOU'D HARDLY
EVER SEE OTHERWISE.
AND THIS PICTURE
GIVES PEOPLE A CHANCE
TO KIND OF COMMUNE WITH OTHERS
THAT THEY DON'T NORMALLY MEET.

Elwy says WELL, DAVID CRONENBERG,
IT'S BEEN GREAT SPORT
FOR ME TO MEET YOU, AS
I SAY, AFTER HAVING
THE DAYLIGHTS SCARED OUT
OF ME SO LONG BY YOU.

David says WELL, THAT PLEASES ME.

Elwy says I'M DELIGHTED.
AND I KNOW THAT SCENE
TONIGHT WILL GIVE PEOPLE
A REAL TASTE OF WHAT
YOU'RE UP TO.
IT'S A FRIGHTENING SCENE.

David says THANK YOU.

Elwy says THANK YOU FOR COMING.
AND EVERY FORTUNE TO YOU.
AND I HOPE THE COUNTRY
HOLDS ON TO YOU
FOR QUITE A WHILE.

David says THANK YOU.

Elwy says EVERY SUCCESS,
DAVID CRONENBERG.
IT'S BEEN GREAT,
GREAT FUN AND SPORT.

They shake hands.

Watch: The Nightmare People: Horror In The Cinema