Thursday, 28 May 2009

Series 2 episode 3: Dracula On Film

This Box is a recording of a panel discussion held at the Irish Film Institute in Dublin as part of the Dublin: One City One Book initiative.
Over the course of three days, the IFI put on a number of Dracula-related films including Nosferatu (1922), Dracula (1931), Dracula (1958), Countess Dracula (1971), Blacula (1972) and Twilight (2008). As part of the programme, a panel of Dracula 'experts' was assembled for a free-admission public panel discussion on Dracula's cinematic legacy.

Thanks to the consent of the panel members we recorded the session for podcast, and release it here in its entirety.

Please note, owing to technical restrictions, certain sections (notably the audience questions) are of an inferior quality. We hope this doesn't hamper your enjoyment of the panel.

A written transcription will be made available in due course.

Dracula On Film Panel Discussion
recorded at the Irish Film Institute, Dublin on Sunday 19th April 2009.


Brian J. Showers is the author of The Bleeding Horse and Other Ghost Stories (Mercier Press 2008) and Literary Walking Tours of Gothic Dublin (Nonsuch Ireland, 2006), which focuses on the lives of Dublin’s gothic literary icons Charles Maturin, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu and Bram Stoker. Brian is currently editing Haunted Histories: Stories of Spirit and Stone for Ex Occidente Press.

Paul Murray, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, is a writer and diplomat. His first biography, A Fantastic Journey: The Life and Literature of Lafcadio Hearn (1993) won the 1995 Koizumi Yakumo Literary Prize in Japan and his second, From the Shadow of Dracula: A Life of Bram Stoker, was published by Jonathan Cape (London) in 2004. Mr Murray’s diplomatic postings include Ambassador of Ireland to Korea (1999–2004) and, currently, Irish Ambassador to the OECD and UNESCO in Paris.

Kim Newman is a novelist, critic and broadcaster. His fiction includes Anno Dracula, Life’s Lottery and The Man From the Diogenes Club. His non-fiction includes Nightmare Movies, Horror: 100 Best Books and BFI Classics studies of Cat People and Doctor Who. He is a contributing editor to Sight & Sound and Empire. He wrote and directed a short film Missing Girl, has written radio and TV documentaries (Radio 4’s Dicing With Dragons, Time Shift: A Study in Sherlock) and plays for radio (BBC online’s Mildew Manor, Radio 4’s Cry-Babies).

Sorcha Ni Fhlainn recently completed her Doctorate in English in TCD, specialising in Postmodernism and Horror: Subjectivity in Vampire Narratives in Fiction, Culture, and Film 1974-2008. A regular contributor to the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, she has edited two eBooks on Monsters, and Human Wickedness, and is currently editing a volume on Monstrosity for Inter-Disciplinary Press in Oxford, and a collection on the Back to The Future Trilogy for McFarland, North Carolina. Sorcha is also a lecturer, specialising in Gothic Studies, at the Centre for Talented Youth Ireland based in Dublin City University and associated with Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

Robert J.E. Simpson is a film historian based in Belfast, with particular interest in British cinema and the horror genre. He teaches film at Queen’s University Belfast’s Open Learning division and is a regular contributor to the QFT Education programme. He is currently writing a book about Hammer Films (forthcoming Telos Books) and is working on a PhD study of Exclusive Films at Trinity College Dublin.

To listen: click on the title of this entry to download the file, or alternatively click here.
Or subscribe via itunes here.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Series 2 episode 2: Dan Brown - Angel or Demon?

Imagine it, you wait six months for a Box of Obfuscation and two come along at once!

We're trying out some new things with the Box over the coming editions, with a mix of styles and contributors that I hope will breathe much life into the project. Raymond Cummings, is the first of my willing co-conspirators - a literary academic and film enthusiast based here in Belfast.

This edition we take a more conversational approach to the Box, using the new cinematic adaptation of Dan Brown's Angels and Demons as a springboard for discussion. We talk about our impressions of the film, the cult of Da Vinci Code and the transition from book to screen.

Please do let us know what you think of this approach... do you want more contemporary reviews? Do you like our guest speakers? What do you want us to cover in future editions?

Either post your comments here on the blog, or email me at

Subscribe via itunes here.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Series 2 ep 1: Jenny Agutter in conversation with Tony Earnshaw

Welcome back to the Box of Obfuscation. Yes, its been a long time, but rest assured we're back with avengeance and many great plans for the months ahead!

To kick of series 2 (ie. the 2009 series) we're presenting our exclusive recording of the onstage interview between the cult actress Jenny Agutter (An American Werewolf in London) and critic, journalist, and director of the Fantastic Films Weekend festival, Tony Earnshaw.

Jenny Agutter's appearance was one of the most eagerly anticipated events of the 2008 FFW and very nearly didn't happen owing to Jenny's very busy schedule. Thankfully she made it, and entertained the audience for a little over half an hour with her thoughts and memories of a long film career, focussing on her fantastic cinema connections. John Landis' brilliant An American Werewolf in London had been screened the previous evening and Tony and Jenny began by talking about it.

The Fantastic Films Weekend takes place at the National Media Museum in Bradford every June, and this year is being held from 12-14 June. For more information, log on to - the FFW is one of the finest film festivals around, packed full of new and classic delights. We heartily recommend it.

The conversation took place on Saturday 14 June 2008. Our thanks must be extended to Jenny and Tony for allowing us to record it for posterity, and sharing it with you.

(You can listen to the podcast by clicking on the title at the top of the post, we're also on Itunes, though we're having some difficulty getting the feed to update at present, so bear with us....)

UPDATE 29.05.09: Itunes link fixed! Subscribe to the Box of Obfuscation here.

Quick update on the podcast availability...

My apologies for the delays with series 2.... Itunes is being a complete pain right now and won't update the feed. So, I'm removing the itunes links for a couple of days while I try to sort it out, and linking everything from here instead. That means listening to and downloading from here! Apologies.

Just as I'd started to like Itunes too... (although I can't scrobble any of my itunes tracks to LastFm at the moment either... conspiracy???)

We've got two episodes this week so enjoy.... One' s going up tonight, the other sometimes tomorrow (Friday).

UPDATE 29.05.09: Itunes problems sorted out, but I've moved everything to a new feed and new itunes listing. So please resubscribe here:

Saturday, 9 May 2009

New series....

A quick apology, and then some good news.

Firstly, apologies that the third Box has taken so damn long to put together. The first couple were invaluable experiences, and work is ongoing on a longer run.

The podcast on British sex-comedies will happen, but I've put it on temporary hold.

This week I should be bringing out the first in a new series of Box of Obfuscation, the first series proper. Expect more interviews, a more diverse group of voices, and a healthy mixture of film, television and music (taking a lead from comments about my written blog... Avalard's Cultural Crisis).

Your comments, feedback and requests are more than welcome and should be sent to

We'll probably loose the 'Avalard' prefix too... as it will be more than my voice you hear from now on, and its far too narcissistic to claim it all for myself.

So please, bear with us and add this blog to your blog readers and rss feeds, for news on the first of the new Boxes....

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Coming up in the 3rd box...

Apologies for the delays between Boxes, moving house in the middle of December is not something I'd recommend to anyone else!

Hopefully I'll be making it up to you with at least two Boxes by the end of the first week in January.

I've plans for a couple of pieces which I hope will prove interesting and push our appreciation of the definition of "cult British culture" - which is after all the supposed focus of this show. And I think I've settled on a theme tune for the programme - and hoping we'll get our very own original version if my musician friends can pull it off.

Coming up in the next couple of shows, I take a look at the obscure 1971 sexploitation picture Percy, and the embarrasing side of British popular culture in the 1970s. And we look at the delicate issue of policitcal correctness in British comedy (a topic I rather suspect we'll be returning to on subsequent shows).

With Christmas around the corner I'm trying to resist the temptation to do a festive blog, though after the turkey has been washed down with some fine port I'll be taking a look back at a selection of this year's festive offerings on television here in the UK.

If you have any comments, suggestions or would like to contribute to a future Box send an email to

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Episode 2: Robert Pratten, Mindflesh and the Changing Face of Film Distribution

Avalard's Box of Obfuscation podcast; series 1 episode 2 -November 2008

A regular look at cult British culture with a strong emphasis on film and television and regular horrorcentric thread.

The second podcast is now available for download...

Robert Pratten, Mindflesh and the Changing Face of Film Distribution

Robert J.E. Simpson talks with British independent filmmaker Robert Pratten about his films London Voodoo and Mindflesh, and the changing face of independent film distribution. Robert Pratten not only financed his own Buddhist horror film, but has launched his own publishing label and is releasing Mindflesh on dvd himself too, breaking away from traditional modes of distribution.

email your thoughts and comments to

Subscribe via itunes here:

Robert J.E. Simpson's website is at

For more information on Robert Pratten and to order a dvd or download of Mindflesh, go to