Veteran British horror writer and filmmaker Michael Armstrong releases his complete screenplay collection
The name Michael Armstrong will be familiar to horror fans, probably most prominently for his still-shocking Witchfinder General-riff Mark of the Devil, starring Herbert Lom and Udo Kier and whose international release was accompanied by vomit bags. Now, at the ripe old age of 73, Armstrong is creating history by being the first film-maker to publish his entire screenwriting output.
With these original uncut screen plays published in paperback for the first time and peppered with a mixture of wildly entertaining anecdotes, astounding behind the scenes revelations, creative and educational insights and brutal “no holds barred” honesty, these books are guaranteed to provide a completely new kind of reading experience while offering a unique insight into the movie industry since 1960 as witnessed by one of the most interesting fringe filmmakers in history.
Starting from his first professional screen play written in 1960 when he was only fifteen and which he subsequently directed in 1968, the books will ultimately encompass a career that has spanned over fifty years. The books will include not only those screen plays that made it onto a cinema screen but, for the first time ever, all those that didn’t – and the reasons why.
The first titles include: his award-winning House of the Long Shadows, written specifically for the four great horror legends Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine and directed by British exploitation maverick Pete Walker (Frightmare, House of Whipcord) in 1983. The film made history as the only picture in which the four horror stars appear on screen together. Also included is The Black Panther, a gripping dramatized reconstruction of sub-post office robber Donald Neilson’s bungling, murderous crime rampage in 70’s England culminating in the kidnapping and violent death of 16 year old heiress Lesley Whittle incarcerated in the drainage system beneath Bathpool Park; and The Image, Armstrong’s strange and disturbing short that heralded the first ever acting screen appearance by the young David Bowie.
All the screenplays are re-produced in Armstrong’s unique layout and instant easy-to-read style with an accompanying instruction on how to read it and achieve an experience similar to that of watching the film in a cinema.
Each title is also accompanied with a Foreword by an invited guest star, various ancillary articles to enhance further understanding of the piece and its background sources, together with a bibliography of Armstrong’s written work for the cinema and a condensed biography. And, in selected titles, Armstrong’s own hitherto unseen storyboards, sketches and art work, off-screen photos and stills, and personal mementoes.