The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

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Ingrid's Obituary


I made Freddy Krueger

The Belgium Film Festival is everything a Film Festival should be. Plenty of films, some great guests, fantastic food and a murderous Palm tree.

A REPORT FROM THE BRUSSELS FANTASY FILM FESTIVAL, MARCH 1998

Brussels Fantasy Film Festival Fancy Dress Parade

The winners of the fancy dress parade - but what are they meant to be?

I SPAWNED Freddy Krueger! Let me explain. I was on the Jury of the 16th Bruxelles Fantasy Film Festival, having lunch in a restaurant called Hallowe' en. It's all leering plaster monsters, bad lighting and goonish waiters in Friar's frocks. (Filthy habits, these clerics ...) Suddenly, in walked Robert Englund. If there's one thing I'm susceptible to it's a flatterer. And what could be more flattering than to have the King of Horror state that I was his fantasy, and declare I was the reason he was into Horror films! It happened like this ...

Let me take you back. Young Robert was in the back of a Dodge (the seats are wider, he assures me), in a Drive-in Cinema, about to get his leg over, when he happened to glance up at the screen. And what did he see? Me, revealing my all in The Vampire Lovers. His ardour faded away, and he concentrated on me. After that loin-stirring moment, Robert became a big fan of Horror Films and the rest is history. If you don't believe me - ask him. So - I repeat my claim - I spawned Freddy Krueger.

Robert Englund and Nancy

Tea with Robert Englund and Nancy

Robert Englund was at the festival (approx attendance 70,000) to promote his new film Wishmaster and to introduce the new kid on the Horror block - Andrew Divoff. The film wasn't my cup of Earl Grey, but the exploding bodies and ruptured eyeballs faded to nothing when Andrew was doing his bit. Whatever you have to have in this business to get wherever it is you want to get - he's got.

The spectacular opening for the two week long Festival is the Bal des Vampires staged in a disused warehouse in the centre of Brussels - 2000 Horror fans, dressed to kill and totally welded to the music. My mission, and I had chosen to accept it, was to select the best costume out of the flamboyant array of grotesques and enchanters dancing the night away. The task was complicated by being perched on a balcony high above the writhing mass. From what I could see it looked as if everyone had spent a huge chunk of their life working on their outfit. I was quite smitten by a bloke who was disporting himself as a cube. It wasn't that the costume was great - there's only so much you can do with a square box on legs - it was the agony on the cube creators' face as he walked jauntily up and down, the catwalk and tried to pretend he was enjoying himself.

Lewis Gilbert and George Sluizer

Lewis Gilbert and 'The Vanishing' Director, George Sluizer

There was also a knight in slimy armour that looked quite tasty but the prize finally went to a girl and two guys dressed all in white. I don't know what they were supposed to represent but I guess they knew and that's all that really matters. Anyway, I had had enough. The dry ice machine was not the only thing smoking on the dance floor. The fall-out from drifting illegal substances is no good for a home-girl like me. Once the prizes had found a home I was off, back to the hotel. The following day didn't start too well. Sinuses and frontal lobes totally corrupted I decided to take a walk. There was a body-painting competition taking place at one of the cinemas. It was part of the festival but I wasn't involved. I dropped in for a moment. I was met with the sight of 20 (or so) gorgeous young things, stripped to the buff, having maquillage lovingly applied to their nubile figures. I wasn't up for it, so I made my way back to the hotel. After getting lost, and a brief ride in the back of a helpful policeman's car (I was innocent, your honour) I caught some sleep before catching a plane back to England so that I could appear on the Nostalgia and Comics stand at the Memorabilia '98 Show at the NEC in Birmingham.

What's a nice boy like you doing in a place like this?

What's a nice boy like you doing in a...

There was a great turn-out, it just gets bigger every year, Henry Cook, the Scottish whizz-kid who runs it, told me he had over 12,000 fans through the doors. That's a whole lot of people. I was only there for Saturday. I was due back in London on Sunday morning for the launch of my book at the London Book Fair in Olympia and my publisher wanted me bright-eyed and bushy tailed, glad-handing the distributors. I enjoyed myself enormously. Who wouldn't? Roy Ward Baker, director of The Vampire Lovers, turned up and without much arm-twisting said how much he had enjoyed working with me. Then Peter Duffell got up to testify that I had been everything he wanted when I played Carla in his House That Dripped Blood and I had the same thought. I blushed becomingly as I curtsied my thanks. Glowing with goodwill I ducked, out for a quick lunch before getting a plane back to Brussels for the hard bit of the festival - picking the best film on show.

Andrew Divoff

Andrew Divoff, rising star of 'Wishmaster'

Things were hotting up. Nancy Allen (Robocop) had arrived with fellow actress Rachelle Carson from the States. George Sluizer also arrived. He directed one of my all time favourite films, The Vanishing, amongst a score of other big hits. He also had a new film, The Commissioner with John Hurt, at the festival but not in competition. I managed to see it on video late one night and really enjoyed it. The other jury members included Arno Hintjens (singer, actor, writer) and Ben Verbong (The Girl with Red Hair). Lewis Gilbert (Bond, Shirley Valentine etc) turned up and we lunched in a derelict warehouse that had been reincarnated as a swish restaurant. Lewis was there on an annual pilgrimage to impart knowledge to the young at the Brussels Film School. Tom Conti also put in a brief appearance. Once we had settled in and got to know each other it was a round of films and gastronomy that didn't let up.

Magnificent Costume at Festival

Just one of one of the gorgeous costumes on display.

Intensive film watching was only interrupted by a cold day in Bruges, on the canal, listening to the guide trying to make the uninteresting waterfront sound as exciting as a trip through the Grande Canal in Venice - and failing miserably. The trip to the scene of Napoleon's last hurrah at Waterloo was definitely enhanced by a fantastic meal at Le Bivouac d I'Empereur Restaurant. What I still want to know is what you have to do to get a decent postcard of Wellington there. Even the Wellington museum - miles away from the battleground in the small town of Waterloo - seemed pretty apologetic that Victoria's pet Englishman had won the battle.

The penultimate night at the Cinema 44 was dominated not by the movies but by a boat race. A boat race in a cinema? The audience was split in half. On the left the 'Blues' - on the right the 'Reds'. A rubber dinghy with a sailor aboard was launched into the audience from the stage. With a lot of noise and gusto, the fans pushed it over their heads, through the auditorium to the back wall and then back to the stage. Three times! Madness.

Later that night the festival chiefs, Georges and Guy Delmote and Freddy and sister Annie Bozzo, had put on what they called A Homage to Ingrid Pitt. It made me feel old. But it was a nice gesture. Except that it didn't start until half past the witching hour and they were showing Countess Dracula, The Wicker Man and The House that Dripped Blood - 6 solid hours of film. I thought they wanted me to stay up all night with the audience but I only had to appear on stage, field a few questions and then slip silently away in the dark.

Nancy Allen and Rachelle Carson

IP, Nancy Allen and Rachelle Carson take a rest after a heavy night's viewing.

Which was just as well, as the Canal Plus TV crew from Paris were waiting in the foyer to do an interview. The interview went well until the end. Just as I was bowing out with some fond farewells, Robert Englund arrived back from a late dinner. In the foyer are a number of huge palm trees, which for all I know have stood there since the Naughty Nineties. As Robert and I went into a clinch, there was a sharp crack and one of the trees collapsed majestically into the aisle!

The time had come for the showdown. Twelve films had been in competition and I thought the distribution of the prizes was pretty obvious. But no! We all sat around for hours mulling over the merits and missed opportunities of such films as Lawn Dogs, Photographing Fairies, Perdita Durango, 8 Heads in a Duffle Bag, The Arcane Enchanter, The Wishmaster, Cure, etc. It's great being on a jury and to act as executioner as well as judge. We came to a daggers-drawn decision to give Lawn Dogs first prize for best picture, 8 Heads in a Duffle Bag best FX and The Arcane Enchanter first prize for artistic achievement. It was absolutely my favourite film of the entire festival. Perdita Durango got a special mention, but no prize.

A spectacular finale for the prize-giving included an appearance by some Morlocks (from HG Wells's The Time Machine) and a willowy figure in an outrageously beautiful dress who minced around with the prizes. Arno Hintjens murmured in my ear 'I bet you'd get a surprise if you stuck your hand down her pants'. I wonder what he meant? Next morning we sobered up and were all gratefully chauffeur-driven back to reality.

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt