The title itself suggests that there’s a historical genre in store, however it gives little away as to the light erotic LGBT content. It’s a film packed with overt horror, underlying messages, a slightly unstable storyline perhaps yet it’s entertaining and gripping in equal measure. The characters are all purposeful and well-rounded which helps to move the action along in a dark, not entirely vampire-driven film set in Shropshire.
The backstory of the sorcerer’s dark conjuring of the female vampire shows him casting his spell on the owner of a country mansion in the year 1807. At the heart of the story is a character called Isabelle (Katie Goldfinch) – she’s investigating the truth behind the legend of the crucible and is therefore sent to the mansion by her University Professor. Isabelle is your archetypal young woman who’s blissfully unaware of the horrors awaiting her and is easily taken in. She’s a virgin, therefore she’s just the sort of meat the inhabitants of the mansion are looking for.
Karl (Larry Rew) is the owner, he’s almost a caricature of villainy. His wife, Evelyn (Babette Barat) is almost too over the top in her politeness. Their daughter, Scarlet (Florence Cady) is the most openly ‘delighted’ by the visitor. The introductions set the tone for the rest of the movie. There’s also a fairly innocuous gardener whom it’s wise not to take your eye off – played by Neil Morrissey.
Crucible of the Vampire is a hybrid of Hammer Horror and horror comedy Dark Shadows – from my perspective. There are elements that set out to scare and other scenes I can’t quite take seriously. However it’s a compelling watch with a strong cast and Director/Co-Writer Iain Ross-McNamee has certainly embodied an interesting niche.
Crucible of the Vampire is available on Dual Format (DVD & Blu-ray) from Screenbound Pictures.
Crucible of the Vampire was released in cinemas yesterday and it looks set to be a thrilling piece of cinematography. Actress Florence Cady plays the role of Scarlet in the film and I caught up with her to find out all about the character she plays and why she thinks that vampire movies have stood the test of time.
Thanks for chatting to Enertainment Views, Scarlet. Tell me about Crucible of the Vampire and what attracted you to be part of it?
Crucible Of The Vampire is a Gothic Vampire Thriller set in present day Shropshire in a large country house. Stylistically, it draws from classic British horror of the 1950s and 1960s, along with modern Korean and Japanese psychological horror. I was attracted to the idea of playing a strong, multi-faceted female character. It was a great opportunity to get my teeth into (excuse the pun) a complex, dynamic and varied role. I was also drawn to the idea of doing my own action scenes, including: horse-riding, fight scenes and a dance sequence. It is not often that you get the chance to play a lead role and also do your own physical work.
What are the strengths and quirks of your character?
Scarlet is a strong character both physically and mentally. She is extremely powerful and incredibly manipulative, but this is born out of her inner anxiety and feeling of isolation and entrapment. Scarlet initially appears to be a petulant child, and then she develops into a dangerous seductress and manipulative psychopath. She has a strong character arc and a deep secret. She is very volatile and becomes intensely angry at the flick of a switch, which can be quite sinister. But, she is also very playful and girlish at times. She is a dreamer, driven by her fantasy of escape. Our director, Iain Ross-McNamee was brilliant at allowing us the space for our characters to develop whilst also having a clear vision of what he wanted Scarlet and Isabelle’s relationship to be like.
What’s your favourite scene from the film?
I think my favourite scenes to film were the action sequences choreographed by stunt co-ordinator, Justin Pearson. Katie and I worked with Justin to learn the fight scenes, almost like a dance sequence. It was quite exhilarating to chase each other down the corridors at night, whilst trying to get the moves in the right order, which became second nature after a short rehearsal period. I also enjoyed learning the dance sequence set in the ballroom, which was choreographed by Vikki Burns. The room had such beautiful natural light and it was a great space to work in. In preparation for the role, I went back to barre classes to refresh my ballet, and I stretched daily to ensure I was prepared for the short rehearsal period on set with Vikki.
Any particular memories from making the film?
I have lots of fond memories from making the film. It was a fantastic opportunity so early on in my career, and also a chance to escape London and live in the beautiful Shropshire countryside. One particular memory I have is of shooting the dream sequence on a gorgeous white stallion. I remember at one point the horse-handler saying to me ‘there are 18 acres of land here, and he hasn’t had a gallop in a while, so don’t get too confident!’ Luckily the horse was very well-behaved, and I manged to stay upright. It was a challenge to try and remain calm, get the horse to do as it was told, whilst looking elegant and serene.
What’s your best loved genre of film?
I’m a big fan of Film Noir. I wrote my dissertation on Women in Film Noir, looking at the on-going fascination of the femme fatale from the classic noir of the 1940’s onwards, to neo-noir from the 1970’s to present day. I’m fascinated by the elusive archetype of the femme fatale and the distinct visual style of the ‘genre’. Our film shares one of its key themes: the blurred lines between fantasy and reality, which we used to explore the dreamlike quality of certain parts of the film.
Why do you think that Vampires hold such fascination for film fans?
I think Vampires hold such a fascination for films fans because they are an archetype that instantly conjures up a strong image of a dark, brooding, charming and sexually provocative character. They also represent the disparity of how a person can appear to be one thing, but are completely the opposite. As with Scarlet in the film, at the beginning we wanted to make it feel like she was just a troubled, tormented soul driven by her desire to escape her life confined to her parent’s house. Vampires are often lonely, isolated characters and I think all humans can I identify with that feeling at some point in their life. They are also fascinating because they are superhuman, extremely powerful and can live for hundreds of years. They transcend the ordinary.
Why should we all watch Crucible of the Vampire?
You should all watch Crucible of the Vampire because it has garnered rave reviews at major festivals, including Starburst International Film Festival which called it “an engaging story that is both broodingly ethereal, visually eloquent and thoroughly enjoyable.” It is an intense, provocative and disturbing horror that will make you uncomfortable at times and challenge your perceptions, harking back to the classic British horror of a by-gone era.
Thanks to Florence for an insightful interview.
Crucible of the Vampire is in cinemas 1st Feb and on Dual Format (DVD & Blu-ray) on 4 Feb 2019 from Screenbound Pictures
Ruth Rendell is an author I know so much about and I’ve watched a number of television adaptations of her novels – however, Gallowglass has always passed me by. Regardless, I feel well acquainted with the tone and setting of her penmanship and this world premiere stage adaptation of one of Rendell’s classics has wowed me to the point where I’m keen to see the production again.
In similar fashion to the television drama version, incidental music played its part in setting the ambience. Combined with exceptional scenery, simple touches transported us to London and East Anglia. The posters at the tube station in the opening scene spoke volumes as to what decade it was set in – I knew it was 1990 before I read the programme! Every member of the cast characterised superbly, and each one became a story teller in their own right – cleverly disguising the myriad of twists which the road inevitably takes at the close of the show.
To summarise the plot, Joe Herbert (Dean Smith) is suffering with severe mental health problems and Sandor Wincanton (Joe Eyre) discovers him on a London tube platform about to take his own life. This triggers off a series of events which sees Sandor staking a claim on Herbert’s life and treating him as a slave (a rough translation of the term Gallowglass). Sandor is passive aggressive, controlling and at times it’s unclear as to whether he might have homosexual tendencies. His well-to-do, unwitting mother (Karen Drury) certainly thinks so and embraces the fact that this means she has no female competition in her son’s life. At the centre of the story is an ex model by the name of Nina Abbott, three times married and kidnapped once – so far. She’s the target for a second, similar ploy at the hands of one of her previous captors, Sandor. In the meantime she’s squirrelled away in a large estate with an elderly husband, Ralph Apsoland (Richard Walsh) and a ‘bodyguard’, Paul Garnett (Paul Opacic) who has his eleven year old daughter, Jessica (Eve Sayer) living with him. It’s a psychological thriller de force, unpredictable and jump-a-minute.
Joe Eyre makes for a menacing Sandor, as his intentions towards Nina became clear my heart was in my mouth and I was torn as to how I felt about his character. Dean Smith gave one of the performances of the show as ‘little Joe’, from his mannerisms to his gait, the effects of the ‘water in his head’ were shown outwardly and extremely believable. Rachael Hart was a force to be reckoned with as Tilley, Joe’s ‘sister’. Her introduction into the piece was bawdy and raw, a real contrast to the macabre undertones running through the tale as it unfolded. Paul Opacic was natural to watch in the role of Paul Garnett, his protective paternal instincts versus growing love for his boss, Nina were played out engagingly and he has exceptional chemistry with Eve Sayer as his daughter Jessica which was a fascinating relationship to see. Chemistry was also there in abundance between Opacic and Florence Cady as Nina – Cady played the role so understatedly that it was overtly clear she was aiming to be as invisible as possible. Casting Karen Drury as Diana, Sandor’s mum is an inspired move – it’s the first time I’ve had the pleasure of watching Drury on stage. However it’s always been obvious to me why she’s an award winning and BAFTA nominated actress. Her timing, stage presence and formidable portrayal of the role was akin to a masterclass, it was everything I expected from her and more.
Margaret May Hobbs has adapted this innovatively, Michael Lunney’s design and direction is flawless and thanks to Lynette Wesbter’s music, I was on the edge of my seat in anticipation more than once. If a psychological thriller which deals with mental health on a variety of planes and is packed with deeper meaning is your cup of tea – you have to see this production. It’s phenomenal.