Black Sunday 4
Special Event: Miracle Mile 30th Anniversary screening
June 8th 2019, Rex Cinema, Wilmslow
Well, completely out of the blue I get an email from the original Black Sunday organiser Dave Bryan to let me know that he is running one last event, a screening of the classic Miracle Mile with a Q&A by director Steve De Jarnatt, which was originally shown at Black Sunday 3 back in June 1990.
It's showing on Saturday June 8th 2019 at 22:30 at the Rex Cinema in Wilmslow. Think there might also be a meetup at a local pub beforehand too. Sadly I don't think I will be able to attend as it's just that bit too far away and money is a bit tight, but that doesn't mean that anyone else a bit closer to the Manchester area can pop along to see this hidden gem of late 80s cinema on the big screen with an audience. And if you don't know anything about it, all the better; Go in knowing nothing (or as little as posible) and you'll be rewarded even more!
There was also another Black Sunday 4 event held in London a month later. Although it shared the same name, it was organised totally independently and had a totally different line up of films.
- Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3
- War party
- Mr Vampire 4
- 2 Evil Eyes
- Maniac Cop 2
- The Peacemaker
Arthur's Review of Black Sunday 4
It had only been a few months since the last Black Sunday but here was number 4 and, given the great time Arthur had had on the previous occasion, he quickly sent off his money for tickets for this new event. For this festival, organisers Dave Bryan and Malcolm Daglish had gone their separate ways and Dave was flying solo. Malcolm still shared the festival name however and had organised his own version down in London.
It was the start of Arthur's second year at University (he has passed his ******* Physics exam re-sit in the summer) and the term was only 2 weeks old when he traipsed off to Manchester again for the weekend. This time he went with his friend Mr E with whom Arthur was sharing a house (Arthur went to the last Black Sunday with Mick but he had been in his third year at the time and had now left University and was living in the real world or working people). Another bonus was that Mr E's parents lived in Manchester not too far from Ashton, so Arthur went to stay with Mr E's family for the weekend and got a lift to and from the cinema from Mr E's dad (not having to get a train home was of particular relief after a day of sleep deprivation).
Knowing what to expect on this occasion (Arthur was now a seasoned Black Sunday all night film festival veteran), he had the sense to take plentiful supplies of chocolate, crisps, drinks etc. Mr E was still an all night Virgin but Arthur offered his valuable experience to help him through his difficult first time.
Arthur bought a poster, a program (both pictured below) and some other assorted goodies. By this time Arthur recognised some of the traders (some of them also appeared at comic fairs in Leeds). One good stall sold posters and press kits. The 2 guys who ran that stall now own the Cinema Store in London. It is good to see how they have grown their business from a wallpaper pasting table to several shops over the past 15 years (although their prices have become a lot more expensive since the days of selling at comic fairs and horror film festivals!)
There was an even better selection of films on offer at this festival. Once again a lot of the line up was unknown beforehand but that didn't really matter; whatever was showing Arthur knew it would be a fun night.
Flatliners was a good film (Kiefer Sutherland is great - anyone who can have a mullet haircut and still look cool gets Arthur's seal of approval) and a few weeks later Arthur took great delight in pointing out to several people on his university course who had bought tickets for the supposed UK premiere of the film, that he had already seen it and what they were attending wasn't the premiere at all.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3 was another great film, although not as good as Texas Chainsaw 1. It was really quite intense in some scenes. The film had been slated as not being very good in the US and it was only afterwards that Arthur discovered that the Black Sunday screening had been the fully uncut version that had not been shown over the pond. (Arthur later saw the cut US version on pirate video and it was missing all the intense stuff. It was nowhere near as good and Arthur was very glad he had seen one of the few screenings of the film as it was meant to be seen)
The line up included a couple of instantly forgettable films (War Party and Nightlife) and some enjoyable, brainless fluff (Maniac Cop 2, Repossessed and The Peacemaker). 2 Evil Eyes was eagerly anticipated and it went down quite well with the audience. The film was in fact 2 unconnected short stories, one directed by Dario Argento and the other by George Romero, both huge names in the world of horror movies. The final film of the night was Darkman, directed by another horror genre favourite Sam Raimi who, at the time, was famous for his Evil Dead films but is now better known for Spiderman. Darkman was Sam Raimi's first big studio film and it certainly delivered on over the top horror action. Sam has later said that Darkman was an experimental film preparing him for making Spiderman and this is certainly evident in the final scenes of the film featuring Darkman swing from a rope ladder under a helicopter as it is flown though a city.
The surprise hit of the festival was Mr vampire 4. Nobody had ever heard of it and, in introducing the film, Dave described Mr Vampire as a Chinese version of Freddy Krueger. Looking back, Arthur assumes this comparison was made purely because both film series had numerous sequels featuring the same bad guy character. But it was very obvious after the first 5 minutes of the film that they where nothing alike. But it was seeing this film that would change Arthur's film viewing habits forever.
Nobody in that cinema had seen anything like Mr Vampire before. When the film started and the subtitles came up there was a collective groan from the entire audience (they wanted blood, guts and action not some arty foreign subtitled film). But the opening sequence of a Taoist monk leading a trail of 10 hopping vampires through a wood whilst trying to avoid the attentions of an amorous ghost, was like nothing anyone had ever seen. And it was hilarious. The film was pure comedy genius and so surreal that you couldn't help but enjoy it. Even scenes that didn't feature intentional comedy were livened up by the often nonsensical subtitles, the highlight of which was the classic line "Don't you touch my corpse or I'll turn you into a moron".
After seeing this film, everyone was interested in Hong Kong cinema. And it cannot have been a coincidence that only a few months later Channel 4 included a series of such films as part of their alternative Christmas film line up, featuring films such as Encounters of the Spooky Kind, Zu warriors and the original Mr Vampire. Arthur was well and truly bitten by the Hong Kong film bug and sought out anything he could. Some titles were available from his local video shop in Leeds, and he occasionally visited the Chinese video Shop in China town in Manchester to buy ex rental tapes although he stopped going there after seeing a Roger Cook documentary on TV about how the shop was a front for the boss of the UK Triads (Arthur had taken tapes back before and complained when they didn't have subtitles not realising he could have got a machete to the head for his troubles!).
Today Arthur still buys oriental DVDs by the bucket load and Mr Vampire 4, the film that started it all, is still a personal favourite. Arthur even used to have fantastic and very rare set of 10 A3 sized Hong Kong press stills from the film. Unfortunately he lent to them, along with another similar set from the film Peacock King, to a so called "friend" who was doing some work on writing an oriental role playing game. But the thieving cunt Lanckham moved away claiming he didn't have them and that was the last Arthur ever saw of them. (Arthur hopes his poxy miniatures gaming magazine goes under. Cunt.)