The Writings of Ingrid Pitt

A Collection of Writings

New!!

Anecdotes

Archaeology

Aviation

Battle of Britain

Biography

Books

Computers

Cricket

Films

Ghosts

Hammer

History

Horror

Motor Racing

Murder

Mystery

Pitt of Horror

RAF

Sci Fi

Travel

Vampires

Winston Churchill

World War 2

Ingrid's Obituary


Minotaur

I promised I would play the old Countess Dracula if it was ever re-made - sans make-up. I nearly got the chance on Minotaur on a cold winter's day in Luxemburg.
Ingrid Pitt Make Up for Minotaur

Au naturel

You know that story about Dobbin dolefully stumbling along the lane between the shafts of a dung cart, well on his way to the knackers yard, when a Cavalry troop thunder by. The Bugler sounds the canter. Dobbin feels the blood surge through his veins, his legs straighten, his ear go into prick mode, nostrils flare, withers bristle, teeth champ at the bit. With one swift kick he discards the cart he is pulling and charges after the departing cavalry. Rejuvenated and agog for adventure. I know how he feels. After spending most of the last three years in the theatre, the operating theatre, it was marvellous to be given the chance of playing a cameo role in the film now shooting in Luxembourg, MINOTAUR. It was put off a few times and I began to lose the faith. Then the location changed from Germany to Luxembourg, for which I was very grateful but not exactly reassured that it was GO. But being an optimist I struggled to learn the lines. When I finally managed to ram them into my thick skull I just prayed that there would be no last minute changes. I knew how devastating they could be. When I was shooting LOS DUENDES DE ANDALUCIA in Spain, with heartthrob Sancho Garcia and bullfighter Victoriano Valencia, there was a small problem. I didn’t speak Spanish at that time. So I learned my lines phonetically. Which was fine until I arrived on the set and found that they had all been changed. Fortunately Minotaur’s writer, Steve McDool, wasn’t called upon to make any major alterations. Which I guess is understandable as he has been working on the project for a couple of years.

The trip over was wonderful. LUXAIR don’t seem to run to Jumbos so we were all nice and cozy in a small ERJ-145. With only about a dozen travellers on board it felt like I had a private jet all to myself. I like that sort of feeling. 55 minutes later I was deposited on the tarmac at Luxembourg Airport and Gary, the unit driver, was humping my bags into a People Carrier and heading for the Sheraton. I didn’t have time to unpack before the director, Jonathan English, called up to welcome me and give me the low-down on what was going on.

Ingrid Pitt Make Up for Minotaur

A little make-up.

The following day, Friday I was going to have a short rehearsal, then Saturday off to recover from the strain of it all. Sunday afternoon there was another run-through. Seemed fair enough. Monday was for real. Before the dawn had cracked I was making my way through the trees to the Studio. All very reminiscent of when I was doing Countess Dracula and had to have an early start so that my make-up for the old Countess could be ready in time for the shoot. The similarity with the Bathori Countess became even more obvious when Mike Stringer, the make-up man, began to apply the prosthetics. My bit was that of a Sibyl. A sort of ancient Grecian witch-cum-soothsayer. I had to rave on about dire happenings and give guarded and incomprehensible warnings and cackle a lot. Then I was fitted out with the costume. It was designed by Susie Harman and I thought it was rather magnificent. A bit like the gear I slop around in at home. All ragged hemlines and mouldering leather. Only a couple of thousand years older.

When I first read the script I was thrilled to see that I had a pet wolf. I mean, how can one possibly be a Leprous Old Sibyl living in a cave without having a pet wolf? Then they told me they were going to substitute an Alsatian. I wanted nothing of that. It was the real thing or I wasn’t going to play. Miraculously they searched around and came up with a couple of real live wolves. I was anxious to see them. I was warned not to be too over confident with them. You could never trust a wolf. I didn’t care. They were beautiful. When I fussed over them they enjoyed the attention and I could see they weren’t going to be any trouble.

Ingrid Pitt Make Up for Minotaur

"Who pinched my fried toad?"

Monday shoot went well. Er. Except for me. Word perfect in the dressing room - on set I stumbled and blanked through my lines. Nerves I guess. Jonathan was great. He patiently went through my lines and calmed me down so that in the end I was able to put in a bit of a performance. It must have been reasonably OK. The crew clapped at the end of it. I don’t think it was just a release of tension but it might have been to keep their hands warm. Of course the Wolves were word perfect. What’s that old saying? ‘Never work with animals and babies?’ I slept like a coke burner full of logs that night. When the alarm went at five o’clock I was still busy sawing fuel for the fire. A quick bath and a cuppa Earl Grey pulled my soul together and I was ready for anything when Gary arrived at six. The studios have been redeployed from their former function of a cement factory and are not the most inspiring set of buildings in the pre-dawn gloom - but at least the production office and make-up studios were warm. Originally the intention had been to shoot the outside scenes on location in the woods which hemmed in the erstwhile cement factory on all side. Luckily someone had a brainstorm and decided to take advantage of the cavernous interior and build the sets indoors. For which I was truly grateful. Not that the stages were particularly warm but were paradise compared with outside. Made up and ready to go. I caught a glimpse of Tom Hardy, the hero Theo in the picture, arriving. I seemed to have been there for hours and he.... But that’s life, or at least simulated life, I guess. It took two and a half hours to develop a virulent form of leprosy on my fair features.

I was taken around on a tour of inspection by the writer Steve. The Palace was impressive. All towering columns and water fountains with a massive effigy of the Minotaur dominating one end. My abode for the duration was a stark cave. Suitable accommodation for a half crazed old biddy with a face like an over-tomatoed pizza and a dress sense that a bag lady would despise. Although most of the filming was studio bound I was told that I will be unleashed on the Luxembourg countryside, pursued by Cyrnan, Rutger Hauer’s character, the father of Theo, with murderous designs upon my fragile body. With suitable embellishments the storyline more or less follows the mythology. King Minos keeps a bull that he is supposed to sacrifice to the god Poseidon.

Ingrid Pitt and Rutger Hauer

Dinner date with Rutger Hauer

God gets in a bit of a wax about it and makes the KIng’s wife, Pasiphae, fall in love with the bull. She gets a mate, Daedalus, to make a bull out of wood and cover it with a cow skin. With a hole in a strategic place. Bull does what bulls do best and the Queen is delivered of a son with the tail and head of a bull and the body of a man. The Minotaur! Perturbed, Minos has his stepson incarcerated in a labyrinth constructed by the ever helpful Daedalus. Every year the people of Athens send seven virgin boys and seven so-so boys for the Minotaur’s delectation. Theseus gets himself inducted with the latest draft and ends up in the Crete labyrinth. Before he meets the bull he falls in love with the King’s daughter, the delicious Ariadne. She’s not too keen to have her new found love end up as a bull’s dinner so gives him a ball of thread so that when he has done the deed with the bull he can follow the thread back to the exit. Minotaur dispatched messily, Theseus makes his way out of the labyrinth and into to arms of his waiting lover. That’s the Greek version. With subtile amendments the film follows the story pretty well - more or less. Should be finished half way through March and released either in the Autumn or early next year. I’ll bring you up to speed, with a plethora of pictures, in the next issue of Shivers.

After the high of Luxembourg it was back to earth with a thud. The 60th year Remembrance of the Holocaust. Probably the Horror Story of all time. There are arguments for and against perpetuating the memory. Forgive but not Forget seems to be the leading mantra. After 60 years isn’t it time to stop pouring out the horror stories. I wish it was as easy as that. For those who never lived through those days it is easy to forgive. But for those of us who were directly involved forgiveness is impossible. For those who say the lack of forgiveness diminishes us speak from a different world. Time has nothing to do with what happened 60 years ago in Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, Treblinka, Sobibor and other death camps set up by the Nazi regime to obliterate undesirables. And the desirability or non-desirability of those thrust into the ovens was purely at the whim of the rulers and their twisted ideology. How can you forgive and forget that?

Ingrid Pitt Make Up for Minotaur

Countess Dracula all over again.

I’ve just received an invitation to The 2005 Stoker Dracula Festival and Summer school in Clontarf, Dublin by its director Dennis McIntyre. I shall be there from Friday the 7th. July until Sunday. It’s been a good few years since I have visited Ireland and look forward to it. The first time was over 30 years ago when I was invited with Steffie to stay at the mansion of Hollywood mogul John Houston. Very interesting. More recently I flew over a few times on business and was particularly captivated by the auction rooms on the banks of the Liffey. One time the people I was with bought a Grandfather clock and brought it back to England in a little Cherokee Arrow, Luckily it broke into three parts, dial, pendulum housing and stand, but it was still an effort to get it aboard AND three adults. Think I’ll keep away from the auction houses this time.

First of the big shows will be coming up in England on 1st and 2nd April. Memorabilia is now under new management. Henry Cook has handed the reigns over to Mark Griffin who has promised to make the show even better than in the past - if that is possible. I hope to be there in my usual corner and look forward to meeting up with anyone who fancies wandering my way. There is also a new website opened up by an American friend, Jessie Lilley. Jessie is the editor of Earthly Remains and has sworn to make me computer literate before her bunions explode. I’m not sure how you connect up with it but it is called Ingrid Online and comes under the umbrella of Yahoo Groups. One of the ideas is to have a ‘live’ session once a month when I go on-line and let the agitated public take a pot at me. Should be fun. The first is on Valentines Day and then monthly on ‘significant dates’. Please, somebody, come on line and help me out.

SHIVERS 118

The Writings of Ingrid Pitt