Helen wearing mysterious blue contacts in the film Kahin Din Kahi Raat (1968).

Helen – The Iconic dancer of Indian cinema.

When you have had a bad day, nothing beats Helen- dressed as a strawberry, dancing energetically and telling you not to worry about life.

Helen Richardson was born in Burma to a Franco-Indian father and a Burmese mother in the late 1930s. She fled the Japanese invasion with her mother and siblings, ending up in India. Helen’s film career began as a chorus girl in the early 50s, before she got her big break in the solo ‘Mera Naam Chin Chin Chu’ in Howrah Bridge (1957).

Known simply as Helen, she became one of the most well-known dancers in Indian Cinema- with an incredible dancing career spanning from the 50s to the 80s.

Helen dancing in Junglee (1961)

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Meiko Kaji in Sasori

The Japanese New Wave Film Rebellion

Japanese New Wave cinema of the 60s and 70s was a rebellion against established styles of filmmaking. Major Japanese film studios began to promote young assistant directors to helm their own features- about young people and aimed at the youth market. These directors would deliver a kick of creative revitalisation into Japanese cinema. They would tackle challenging themes- sexuality, political radicalism, social inequality- all against the background of Japan’s postwar identity struggle. 

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Ingrid Pitt as Carmilla

A Tale of Two Carmillas- part 2: The Vampire Lovers (1970)

The second film in this analysis of two film adaptions of the gothic vampire novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu.

The first part of this article dealt with a little known French adaption of the classic short story (if you haven’t already- read Part 1 here). Next, we will look at the more widely released The Vampire Lovers, British studio Hammer’s take on the story. Although their source material is the same, Et Mourir de Plaisir and The Vampire Lovers are very different films in terms of tone, style and execution.

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Annette Vadim as Carmilla
Annette Vadim as Carmilla in Et Mourir de Plaisir. (Paramount/Media Target)

A Tale of Two Carmillas- Part 1: Et Mourir de Plaisir (Blood and Roses, 1960)

An analysis of two film adaptions of the gothic vampire novella Carmilla by Sheridan Le Fanu.

Predating Dracula, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872) has continued to provide inspiration for many vampire films and has spawned various adaptions.

It is a short story set in 19th century Styria about a young woman called Laura who becomes close friends with her mysterious houseguest Carmilla. Around this time Laura begins to have strange nightmares and her health starts to decline. Carmilla is later revealed to be the vampire Countess Millarca Karnstein by General Spielsdorf, whose niece Bertha was suffering the same symptoms. The vampire is subsequently staked by vampire expert Baron Vordenburg- yet it is implied that Laura never recovers from her encounter.

Recently, Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla has been given an interesting new reimagining in the Youtube series Carmilla (2014), which sees the action transported to a modern day university.

This two part series will analyse two very different earlier adaptions of the source material- Et Mourir de Plaisir (And to die of pleasure, 1960) and Hammer Horror’s The Vampire Lovers (1970). First, we will look at Et Mourir de Plaisir– directed by Roger Vadim (Barbarella) and starring his then wife, Annette Vadim as Carmilla.

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What You Can’t See Can Hurt You!

Introducing four of the best British psychological horror films from the early 60s- The Innocents, The Haunting, 80,000 Suspects and Repulsion.

……from Professor Spool’s archive

At Halloween most television and cinema schedules will be dominated by the usual ‘scary suspects’ – Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, werewolves, Freddie, Jason and maybe even a Mummy. Such horror creations are so readily visible on the screen whether they are steeped in folklore like vampires or based on real life Jack the Ripper type serial killers.

In concentrating on these overt, bloody and often very gruesome depictions, schedulers frequently overlook the primal basis of all horror – fear itself.  The very fear that lurks deep in our psyche and that can manifest itself in so many different ways.  One such manifestation is that which is unseen – you may be able to sense danger, your sub-conscious may play tricks on you, the sounds you hear  may add to the dread and foreboding that occupy your thoughts.  What you can’t see can hurt you – it can produce irrational behaviour, questions our very sanity and understanding of what is real or a figment of our fevered imagination.      

Let me now recommend four fine celluloid examples that are immersed in the very atmospheric fear I have just described.  This quartet of black and white ‘mind-chillers’ were all made in Britain in the early sixties.

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