Returning to the Castle

Its so great to be doing a book talk again, and back at the Castle Keep once more. Its like a second home; I'd move in if it wasn't for the fact there's no central heating.

But first, Old Man Goat performed a gig at The Lindisfarne Club, Newcastle on 7 April. It was a private gig for our singer Steve's retirement. You try concentrating on the bass guitar with all that food in front of you!

Old Man Goat will be returning to the Ship Inn in Newcastle on 26 May. Hope you can all get along for some great live music!

Now back to the talks. My first scheduled talk at the Black Gate on 11 April had to cancelled. My next one on 14 April did go ahead at the Castle Keep. Its part a series of talks related to my book, chapter one being on the tragic Lon Chaney Junior.

Lon Chaney Junior was an actor of limited range who got propelled into horror stardom by Universal Studios on his father's name and reputation. Best know as The Wolf Man (1941). His massive frame made him difficult to cast in other roles, and although he played all of the classic Universal monsters, he wasn't really all that good - by one interesting movie.

My talk on his life and career was followed by the screening of Son of Dracula (1943), where he was improbably cast as the great vampire count. True he is miscast; he was far to big an all-American to pass himself off as a European gentleman, and the film itself is far from being a classic. Yet this chiller works on many levels. So why pick this film?

To his credit, Chaney battles valiantly against miscasting to give a decent performance. He even uses his massive frame to create a formidable vampire presence. The film was directed by Robert Siodmak, who was one of the pioneers of Film Noir. Siomak creates an evocative and dreamlike movie that contains some very stylish moments. While not perfect, the film - and Chaney's performance - deserves re-evaluation.

My next talk at the Keep will be about Basil Rathbone on 12 May followed by a screening of the Sherlock Holmes classic The Scarlet Claw (1943). Before that I'll be off to Whitby as part of the Absinth Goth Festival. Now that is something I'm looking forward too. See you there!

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