Stunt Double: Clive Barker’s Book Of Blood

As has occasionally been the case before, this is a movie I would not have heard of were it not for my researching for this blog. I would say it is a curious contribution to Scottish film though, and one that succeeded in keeping me on the edge of my seat on a dark and rainy night.

With little knowledge of what was to come in the film, the opening scene did not fill me with confidence. It was a trivial detail that had me concerned – the setting is a rural roadside cafe, where principal character Simon (Jonas Armstrong) is sitting; an older waitress appears with a jug of black coffee to offer him a refill and I found myself thinking “what am I about to watch?!”. Was this effectively going to be an American horror movie clumsily transplanted into Scotland without any cultural adaptations? I’m pressing this coffee refill thing a lot I know, but it just seemed like a very out of place American trope – like a corrupt sheriff or a local crazy who “saw things in ‘Nam”.

Thankfully when the story moves retrospectively to Edinburgh – where paranormal researcher Mary (Sophie Ward) is investigating an old house along with Simon and Paul Blair’s Reg – the film becomes a lot more comfortable in its surroundings. That said, the movie is certainly more American than Scottish – or indeed British – in its overall style. Scotland is no stranger to horror films, but I can’t recall any features set in the country that are so deeply dark and supernatural in equal measures – Dog Soldiers, for example, has a lot of black comedy in it; in The Wicker Man the horror is delivered by living, breathing humans. There are touches of many Hollywood horrors in Clive Barker’s Book of Blood, from Poltergeist to A Nightmare On Elm Street, and some exceedingly gory and violent moments.

As mentioned above, Edinburgh is the setting for the majority of the film and with some heavy rain and ominous skies the familiar streets and skyline become an excellent backdrop to the macabre story. The University of Glasgow appears throughout the film as Mary’s place of work, although it is implied that the building is in the capital. When Simon is first introduced to Mary at a lecture he tells her that he has “just transferred from Strathclyde”.

Studio Time: Outpost

outpostoutpost 2So far Glasgow on Film has covered movies filmed and set in Glasgow, movies filmed on the streets of Glasgow but set elsewhere and even those filmed elsewhere but set in Glasgow. This new GoF category – Studio Time – has been created for films shot within the four walls of the Film City Glasgow studio in Govan, so therefore not using Glasgow’s streets, parks or any other distinguishing features as a backdrop but definitely Clyde built productions nonetheless.

Before going into the plot of Outpost, a little bit on Film City Glasgow…

Film City Glasgow is quintessentially Glaswegian, housed in the red sandstone former Govan Town Hall and just a stone’s throw from the River Clyde. Central to the complex is a 5,000 square foot studio and build space and there are production offices, workshop areas and rehearsal and meeting rooms. On its website Film City Glasgow is described as “the heart and soul of Scotland’s film and television industry”, a title justified by the impressive list of both television and film production companies who reside there, have used it as a base or both. In film, The Eagle, Perfect Sense, Red Road, Legacy, The Decoy Bride and Neds are among the productions in which Film City Glasgow has played a part. Film City Glasgow is currently leading proposals for a new, bigger studio scheme on the Clyde waterfront just next to the existing premises – this would include two studio sound stages, with one at around 20,000 square feet in size. If approved the new complex would have the potential to lead to even more movie making in Glasgow, a prospect which of course Glasgow on Film relishes.

Back to today’s subject matter Outpost, which had internal scenes shot in Film City Glasgow, with external scenes filmed on location in Dumfries and Galloway. Starring Ray Stevenson, Julian Wadham, Richard Brake, Paul Blair, Brett Fancy, Enoch Frost, Julian Rivett, Michael Smiley and Johnny Meres, Outpost sees a team of mercenaries and the scientist who hired them head to an underground bunker in a remote part of eastern Europe. The scientist, Hunt (played by Julian Wadham), has knowledge that the bunker was used by the Nazis during the second world war to experiment and develop an army of super soldiers, and is particularly interested in an anti-matter device housed within. The team discover what appears to be a survivor, and from then on in the film develops into its horror territory as the mercenaries are killed off one by one amid mysterious goings on. The film is classed as low budget – it was in fact the first release from Black Camel Pictures, founded by couple Arabella Croft and Kieran Parker who mortgaged their Glasgow home to finance Outpost – yet the quality surpasses that of many other movies made on budgets of similar or even higher amounts. Another contrast that does the film and the people behind it credit is that between its background and its plot – the story of a Glasgow couple mortgaging their house to fund a business sounds like it should be leading up to the opening of a new coffee shop in the west end, not a genuinely creepy and gruesome movie about undead Nazis.