Sir Francis Dashwood

We’ve had our eye on Sir Francis Dashwood and the Hellfire Club for a while. They play a fantastic atmospheric surfy bluesy psychobilly punk concoction AND they list Alejandro Jodorowsky, Kenneth Anger and David Lynch among their influences: a band after our wicked heart… Don’t miss them on Feb 9 at the Pitty Pat Club, Nottingham (Valentine’s Ball at monthly burlesque club), and on March 8 at the 12 Bar Club, London. Find out more here. Below frontman Sir Francis discusses his 10, er, 11 favourite movies.

1- Harvey (1950)
This film is just the perfect parable of the Pooka (Guardian Spite) … the whole concept is oddly akin to Aleister Crowley’s concept of the Holy Guardian Angel. In this film Elwood P. Dowd (James Stewart), the main character, is at first regarded as a harmless mild-mannered eccentric: he talks away to his ‘imaginary Friend’, a six-foot Rabbit, whom we don’t ever get to see!.. At some point his sister tries to shop him to the funny farm, BUT… the rabbit changes time conditions and events and saves Mr Dowd from any difficult scrapes that he may get into. No one who sees this would ever want anything bad to happen to Mr Dowd, he’s just too sweet and an invincible fool.

2- Theatre of Blood (1973)
Vincent Price is perfect and cheap at the Price… in this classic Horror. A derided Shakespearian Actor who has been thought long dead returns to kill off his critic enemies, each in the style of a piece perfect Poetic Justice, every one exquisitely executed in the precise details of a significant Shakespearian murder. There’s one hilarious scene where a guy’s wife thinks he’s snoring in bed… but he’s actually having his head carefully sawn off.

3- The Holy Mountain (1973)
I have enjoyed, and been given some guidance and answers to some of the more convoluted aspects of Alchemy, Tarot and the western Hermetic Tradition in general through the Medium of Alejandro’s Films. I think it really is time for such a one with this capacity to Put this into moving image unlike no other, to finally come to the fore! Through this fact, I am sure others shall be led into the same studies that gave Him the keys to tap into his Genii! – and therefore likewise themselves become beacons of Creative Fire!!!. . in fact , this is after all the underlying message of such films as Holy Mountain … The acceptance and TRANSFORMATION of Various conditions of what most consider MUNDANE LIFE – is what is depicted through most of his work!

4- Whistle and I’ll Come To You (1968)
Adapted from an MR James ghost story this was a TV film for the BBC OMNIBUS series. The Truly great and most Ghoulish thing about this film is that there is almost no dialogue, there is no music, it is just about an Old guy in Tweed (Michael Hordern) who finds a bone whistle sticking out the side of a crumbling mud cliff, beside the sea. It has an inscription, ‘Whistle and I’ll come to you’… He gives it a toot… and the rest gets progressively creepier. Indeed this is the Most creepy Ghost thing I think I ever saw, its TV budget limitations on the usual production tinsel are precisely its greatest strengths. It has a cold atmosphere, tension, silence and fear.

5- Santa Sangre (1989)
As this Magazine well knows I love The Holy Mountain, but I also must include Santa Sangre. I love everything about this film, the plot, the colour, Atmosphere… It also Has Horror mixed with absurd Hilarity in equal measure, in just the way I like it! Oh! and Really Great Mambo Music! This film may appeal more to those who find they cannot grasp the abstract nature of Holy Mountain… It ‘seems’ to have a more definitive plot. I can’t be bothered to describe something I love so much. So here I end with this one. See it!!

6- Faust (1994)
Another Big Favourite, a wonderful cross mix of animation and real film, with lots of macabre puppetry and black Humour, it sticks well to the original theme of Faust, and loses none of its potency. Prague (one of my very favourite cities) lends its unique atmosphere to many of the film’s scenes. By the way I once saw an Alchemy Exhibition many years ago in Prague that Å vankmajer helped put together, by contributing many Highly unusual Vessels to it. He’s for real!

7- Entertaining Mr Sloane (1970)
Joe Orton’s Stage classic in film form… it’s just great, I never tire of seeing it… It opens with Beryl Reid sucking a rainbow Zoom Lolly in A graveyard, watching a funeral in a see-through Baby Doll Nighty… (You get the picture ??) complete with groovy Georgie Fame soundtrack, well worth it if you’re into this kind of Black Humour. Handsome, amoral and unattached Sloane is offered a room in the house that the middle-aged Kath (Beryl Reid) shares with her brother. Sloane attempts to manipulate them… but you can imagine! it doesn’t quite stay that way.

8- 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Simply a classic, I love the themes, the whole journey from the outer to the inner, from the past to the future which is really the past… etc, etc… a real Goer of a film for psychedelic space-heads (of which I was one for a long time). Will always love it.

9- Ed Wood (1994)
This is superb! … Ed Wood was a low-budget Cross-dressing Hollywood filmmaker, and managed to get Bela Lugosi to be in one of his films, by then Bela was a well gone Junkie and died during the making of the film. To all purposes this is set as Wood’s Auto Biography featuring heavily on the making of Plan 9 from Outer Space, one of Hollywood’s saddest B-movies. The 50s styling, costumery and overall sentiment I am drastically in love with.

10- Kaidan (Ghost Story, 1964)
This film is amazing, A beautiful Supernatural Japanese film. I recommend everyone get out and see it now!… the plot is too complex, and in four parts (as only the Japanese could do!) The best bit is about a blind musician who summons the Spirits of a Dead Samurai army, but he doesn’t even know they’re dead (as he’s blind). It turns out the other monks who share the monastery with him realise what he has done and consider it a major Blashphemy. They paint every inch of his body in sacred text and get him to Banish the ghouls… BUT !!…

11- Flowers and Smoke (an experiment in ultra-human contact through the use of flowers and smoke, by Lamda, 2007)
Oh … and an 11th film! (11 is a magick number!!)
This is a truly weird 13-mins short film I recently came across, 50 % of what happens is in the viewer’s own brain, Consecrated roses are burnt, the smoke is filmed and mirrored, the result is a real psychedelic trip-out, Godforms from Many Pantheons appear at you through/in the smoke… and apparently this is just the way it turned out (no trickery!) This is a real operation in Magickal evocation caught successfully on film possibly for the first time ever!! The soundtrack music is amazing also, it glides ebbs and throbs in sync to the imagery until you just don’t know who, why or where you are any-more. Pure Art! (in the Alchemystical sense of the word)!