This is a trailer for a horror film that was never made in the 1970's
Starring Charlotte Nicod as the tormented drama student!
The film was screened as part of The Melodramatic Elephant in the Haunted Castle
A play staged at the Coronet theatre on 8 November 2017
And also shown at the Art Academy Gallery, SE17 from 9-20 December 2017
These are authentic 1970's horror trailers!
I was part of a small team that worked on a 1970’s spoof film trailer that was to be shown within a section of the play that remembered the Coronet’s past days as an ABC cinema. When I was first introduced to the mini project, the idea was to create a Hammer Horror trailer. My first attempted outline for a script therefore involved Marie Henderson and some classic characters from the Hammer Horror studio, namely reboots of Dracula and Frankenstein.
We had a brainstorm session with the team working on the Horror trailer and another team producing a short piece around Charlie Chaplin. It was great fun to watch and research the styles and themes from these 70s horror trailers; especially since they feel so heavy handed when compared to today’s horror films. I was able to get a sense of a time when much societal innocence still remained but was being worn away by the makers of these horrors. The styles of these trailers also left lots of room for send-up and pastiche, such as cheesy titles and credits warning about how scary the contents were!
I learnt a lot also from Aubrey Ayoade, the writer of the Charlie Chaplin short film, on how to weave themes from the existing play into the short film and set off to try to do the same. My initial idea was to tie in themes of the regeneration of the shopping centre, which used an earlier scene from the play - however, it was decided that these themes would foreshadow too much the ending of the play so I set off to find another angle.
After another brainstorming session, this time with Constantine Gras, who was facilitating these short films, we decided to bring in elements of a society going wrong which we thought brought in some common fears that people had from the 70s. We also had the idea of working in references to pop psychology as Constantine introduced me to the works of RD Laing, a famous Scottish psychiatrist at the time. This lead to the first draft of my final script, a short trailer about a university student (a drama student in the final cut) who, leaving her family behind to start a new life in a big city, becomes haunted at the ABC cinema and then gets sucked into a strange world of mistrust at the hands of an over-zealous mental health establishment.
There was still one serious problem: the haunting was carried out by Marie Henderson (the real life Victorian actress who was the inspiration for this project) and we couldn’t have Marie Henderson as a negative force within the trailer! What followed were late night phone calls with Constantine to discuss possible solutions, including many attempts at total re-thinks! For me it was exciting and frustrating in equal measure. There was also something delicious about writing a script for a trailer about a film that never existed which gave insights into film narrative
Later that week the problem of fitting Marie Henderson in still loomed over us and I was asked to work through the script with our actors. I felt nervous and ill-at-ease leading the session but the team came up with some brilliant ideas and we were able to “get it on it’s feet” as John Whelan, our theatre director would say. The problem of working Marie Henderson into the script remained throughout the process: partly because our great actress, Shelagh Farren, had limited availability to make it to the Coronet on the one day we had to film - such are the struggles of juggling budget filmmaking around busy lives!
My next involvement came after the film had been directed by Rachele Fregonese and the bulk of the editing had been completed by Constantine. In a fun and inspired session, Constantine and I were able to whip the voice over narration into shape. We still had a lot of creative freedom with the narration and decided to add some depth with references to Greek mythology with Eros and Thanatos and tried out our most outlandish and scary narrator voices. If you are at all scared or find it funny, then we hopefully hit the marks of sending up those 1970s horror exploitation trailers! We had our horror trailer, “Left Unseen”!
Watching the trailer within the play on performance night, I was pleased with how it fit into the context of the play and served as a homage to the Coronet as a fleapit cinema in the 1970s. The audience’s warm applause was testament to all our endeavours!
Reflecting the views of artists, actors, residents
and participants in
The Melodramatic Elephant in the Haunted Castle.
An art project about the Coronet from 1872-2017.
Past present future
Music and animation
Euan Vincent on Horror
Tiberius Chis on Chaplin
Final Curtain Call
Directing and acting
Jacko at the Coronet?
Ale and steak pies
This Is Where I Came In
Pollock's Toy Museum
Adventure with the Mayor
Reach for the stars
Ghost of Marie Henderson
Shop till the zombie drops
Faith, Hope and Charity
Singing and sketching
History and legacy
Dark Side of Metropolis
Walworth Street Festival
Interview with Sam Porter
Blood and Thunder
Culture and Capital