Film Freak: First Review

Media, Observatory

This early review just appeared in Shots magazine, courtesy of Mike Ripley, so perhaps you’ll excuse me on this occasion for running it. Sometimes when you’re writing a book, you have little idea whether it’s any good, and it’s great to get feedback.

Film Freak‘Christopher Fowler’s Film Freak is the confessions of a film nut determined to get into the British film industry at precisely the wrong time, just as the flea-pits were closing down and videos taking over. Though quite when there was a good moment to get into British films, unless you were Sid James or Alec Guinness, is a moot point.

Fowler, better known in this column as the author of the slightly surreal ‘Bryant & May’ detective series, was a self-confessed Film Freak from an early age and determined to get into the film world by any route possible; initially through advertising agency copy-writing and then producing trailers and posters for general release movies. His assault on Wardour Street (rather than Hollywood) coincided with British classics such as Ooh…You Are Awful and Mutiny on the Buses(rumoured to be the biggest earning Hammer film ever) signalling the death-knell, or at least the terminal decline, of the British film industry.

Whether he is being gruesomely honest about seedy pubs and even seedier bed-sits, taking side-swipes at slappable performers like Charlie Drake, Norman Wisdom and Cliff Richards, or defending Kenneth Williams and films such as Dr Phibes Rises Again, he is never less than affectionately amusing. When he is describing the bad behaviour rampant in the advertising industry in the 1970s or disastrous trips to the Cannes Film Festival, he is hysterical.

This is a laugh-out-loud memoir of a slice of British life which has probably gone forever and for all its misfortunes and indignities, Fowler shows a great fondness. Although I think he was far too young to experience it on release, Chris Fowler knows the importance of the impact on the British psyche of Kay Kendall’s trumpet solo in Genevieve. That alone proves he really is a film freak.’

Film Freak is published by Doubleday on April 10th. There’s a good chance that if you liked Paperboy you’ll like this, although one man in Glasgow who commented on Amazon that he really, really hated Paperboy probably won’t be buying it. I looked at his profile on Amazon; he buys a lots of hardcore Christian books and bedding plants.

6 comments on “Film Freak: First Review”

  1. andrea yang says:

    I had to google the trumpet clip… never heard of it, but I am a Yank.

  2. Jo W says:

    I’m looking forward to Film Freak. Enjoyed Paperboy,so if it’s only half as good,it’ll be great. Saw Genevieve again only last week (I know,sad) . Kay Kendall still showing them how to play the plumpet! By the way, Admin,forgot to say how much I enjoyed Helltrain. Got a lot of laughs by reading it (in my head) in the voices of the Hammer Horror stalwarts.

  3. Helen Martin says:

    Ah, yes, Kay Kendall. My husband just said, “She gave up the trumpet because of the lip. That was her story and she stuck to it.” It’s a wonderful performance. I don’t know enough about Hammer Films or the actors of the period, except the ones who became known here, to enjoy a memoir of the period, so I likely won’t buy Film Freak. I know, I’ll be sorry in the morning, but how many of you have Curse of Snakes, which I am currently enjoying?

  4. John says:

    Anyone who goes to the trouble of defending the Dr. Phibes movies in print is AOK in my book. I’ll have to wait a bit to order this (more overseas shipping charges – ugh!) but I’ll have my copy by the end of the month. (Fingers crossed.)

  5. glasgow1975 says:

    I swear it wisnae me!

    Hope my mum doesn’t read this review, or she might send it back before wrapping it up for my birthday, for slagging off her beloved Cliff Richard (no ‘s’)

  6. Helen Martin says:

    Have just finished Curse of Snakes, which was was quite wonderfully insane and has a cameo appearance by Sgt. Renfield.

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