Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dracula's back garden



It was my birthday this weekend, and I've at last had my Purple Rose of Cairo moment...

Part of my present was a trip to Black Park in Buckinghamshire, and that strange, wonderful, dream-like sensation of walking into a movie.

If by any chance you need a reminder of the cinematic significance of Black Park, let me jog your memory...
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It is, of course, where just about every woodland exterior of every Hammer horror film ever made was shot. And it's all still here, exactly as you imagined it, exactly as it was the last time you saw it, exactly as if they'd just finished shooting Dracula Has Risen From The Grave yesterday, exactly as if they weren't movies at all, but real...
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The eerie, sun-dappled yet strangely chilly paths through the forest...
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The lake, from which so many bodies were pulled...
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The tree-lined roads along which horse-drawn carriages rumbled and raced...
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... and nervous travellers stopped at roadside shrines on lonely crossroads...
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The fern-carpeted thickets, where the sinister dwarf from Vampire Circus led an entire family to their doom, Christopher Lee observed a black mass in The Devil Rides Out and Susan Denberg killed her last victim in Frankenstein Created Woman...
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And the deep, dark forests, with who knows what hiding behind every tree... Christopher Lee, perhaps...
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... or, if you're lucky, a passing vampiress, possessed by the spirit of Valerie Leon...
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In all: a thoroughly recommended visit.
But, as always with locations imbued with supernatural evil, do please take care.
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7 comments:

Radiation Cinema! said...

Matthew: I absolutely loved this post. What a beautiful and historic setting! What a great way to spend a birthday weekend - on a day drip in the park where Hammer dripped blood!

I really want to visit this park someday. When I was growing across the pond in middle America, I simply thought all those beautiful Hammer films, with all that saturated, beautiful color, was simply how a horror film was supposed to look. In short, I thought Hammer was horror. What did I know from the Universal originals? I thought Dracula, the Mummy, and Frankenstein were all Christopher Lee; and I thought Baron Frankenstein and Von Helsing was Peter Cushing! I simply assumed all good horror films had actors with English accents and were set in the Victorian English Countryside, and all the good wives and long suffering lovers looked like Hazel Court.

Not sure I was ever wrong. What a great looking weekend you had!

Oh, and of course, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! – Mykal

James said...

What a wonderful way to spend your birthday! Great post Matthew - really enjoyed your photos of the day too. Such an amazingly spooky looking place.

Best wishes,
James

Mild Colonial Boy, Esq. said...

Best wishes Mr Coniam - and what a delightful way to spend the day.

Matthew Coniam said...

Thanks, chaps. It was the oddest place; what you can't see from the photos is that there were kids and families all around, but as soon as you got into the woods it just became this totally different, totally recognisable, fake world of Hammer horror. I've been to well-known film locations before, but this was a different sensation atogether.
If you've not been, you must...

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Chaunce said...

My parents live in Uxbridge not far from Pinewood and Black Park and I used to go there loads when I was young but it wasn't until later that I realised the conectino to Hammer even though it was that time that I got in to those films. Haven't been there for years though...

Matthew Coniam said...

You mean you didn't instantly sense that the entire place was drenched in evil and things better not mentioned???

kochillt said...

Yvonne Romain rescued by Clifford Evans in THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF. Talk about a floodgate of memories! Tremendous visuals.