Sunday 16 August 2015

Ramsey Campbell Kissed My Hand - And A Great Time Was Had by All...

... at Liverpool Horrorfest 2015

Horrific fun. A compere who wielded an evil looking meat cleaver and insisted in sonorous tones that he was "not a murderer..." set the scene for us. That meat cleaver doubled as his cue card although on one occasion at least, it hovered dangerously near to Jenny Campbell's head. The lady herself was there in the audience, supporting her legendary husband, Britain's Master of Horror - Ramsey Campbell. Fortunately, while liberal amounts of Kensington Gore may have been utilised in some special effects, no actual blood was spilled (phew!)

The Great Man himself was in fine fettle. Always such a pleasure to listen to his wonderful anecdotes and, as I mentioned in the title, he kissed my hand! Needless to say, in true fan fashion, I have now wrapped that hand in cling film and will not be washing it this side of Michaelmas (when is that, by the way?)

Some fabulous people were on hand to chat to, connect with and listen to as they participated in Q and A panels. The first of these was on the comic book genre featuring, among other noteable writers and publishers in this field, Dave McCluskey (Dammaged Comics). As a novice in this particular field, I was curious. Sure enough, the challenges facing them are instantly recognisable to those of us writing horror novels, novellas and short stories. A few major publishers dictating to - and in a number of cases, diluting - the more challenging and creative work.
The second Q and A panel featured Ramsey, along with actress-turned-horror writer, Barbie Wilde (Hellraiser II's female Cenobite). This is one entertaining lady and her book - The Venus Complex - is definitely on my TBR pile. Paul Kane added fresh perspective and I've added his book, Monsters (with cover art by Clive Barker no less!) to my signed collection.

But, for me, of course, Ramsey Campbell stole the show. It's not that he takes over. He doesn't. You just have the most fun in his company. Okay, he's been around a long time. He's seen it all, done it all (well most of it!), got a closet full of T shirts and rooms full of videos. I could listen to him for hours. He is so knowledgeable, such an amazing writer - and he gets away with saying the most outrageous things. And you find yourself agreeing with him, while you mop up the tears from your streaming eyes because you've been laughing so much.  Yesterday he compared reading on a Kindle to watching a porn movie, while reading a printed book was like...(use your imagination and insert appropriate four letter word!) The room erupted. We didn't want him to go.

Twice in a month I've followed Ramsey around. I'll be following him some more. I believe Benedict Cumberpatch's followers are called Cumberbabes ( or even the Cumber Collective?) Nominations please for a collective noun for those of us who follow Mr Campbell. How about Ramsey's Rebels? The Campbell Clan? Er -- on second thoughts, that may not play well in certain parts of Scotland...

The programme moved on and Mr C and I then enjoyed the third Q and A panel featuring indie horror films. The deliciously scary Laurence R. Harvey (see photo above - the face of Human Centipede II and Human Centipede III) provided the actor's perspective. and it was great to hear from a director on the challenges he faces. In this case Simeon Halligan, whose film White Settlers, will provide our entertainment at home this evening. He is also the genius behind Grimmfest - another date for the diary (Oct 1-4 2015)

There was much, much more to enjoy, as the day progressed into evening. We left them to it at that point, our heads full of horror of the best and most entertaining kind. There had been stalls selling a range of merchandise and some wonderfully inventive costumes and make up - and all housed in a quirky, crypt-like venue - The Kazimier. Perfect. 

Before I end, I must give a shout out for the marvellous Chilla Black and Jack the Hat from Shiverpool. They do the most incredible and hilarious ghost tours of the city and entertained us royally. Okay they were promoting their trips - but they can sell them to me anytime if they do it like that. Great theatre!

Horrorfest will - I hope -  be back next year. Good on you, Ilan Sheady and the team at Uncle Frank Productions. Job well done!

The Slaughtered Bird


  1. Thank you for a fantastic rundown of our event. So glad you can make it and we will keep you informed of our future plans.

    1. Thank you, Ilan. Such a brilliant day! yes please keep me informed - :)

  2. Wow Cat..... sounds amazing. You must be all abuzz still. BTO I see nothing wrong with clan....and I am a Scot. xxxxxxxx

    1. It was great, Shey and you're right - still buzzing. Regarding the Campbell Clan, my mind wandered to Glencoe as it is wont to do from time to time...