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Halloween Horror Movies with a WW2 Twist!


Well, Halloween is upon us, so I am timing this so that you will see it in time to get your scary movies ready! Although you cannot beat true winners such as The Evil Dead (1981), Dawn of the Dead, Exorcist, Cabin in the Woods, Zombieland…I thought I would bring you a handful of the WW2 themed ones out there. This is just breaking the ice, but most of the other ones I have wasted my life seeing as so unfortunate that they don’t even deserve a mention. There are WWI contenders such as Death Watch, which is ok, not great and many more that I know some people will think “Why didn’t she write about that one?!) but I had to break the list down. If you have any favourites then please email them to me for next year!

I have brought you some greats and not-so-greats that may find themselves marching into your collection and some I have found the whole movie online. So if you are sitting comfortably, I will begin…

 

King of the Zombies

King of the Zombies 1941

If you can’t find a DVD copy of this, you can watch the whole thing on Dan Van Dam’s Youtube page as it is in the public domain! This original WW2 comedy horror features a Capelis XC-12 plane crash in the Caribbean after it runs out of fuel. It blows off course and with minimal radio signal crashes into an island. The pilot, passenger and his signature comical black man (Mantan Moreland, popular for his ‘wide eyed stares’) with his ‘witty southern ways’ make their way to a mansion surrounded by grave stones, which happens to be owned by a mysterious doctor (I won’t spoil his role for you, you will just have to watch the film!). With a WW2 twist, humour and zombies it is quite a good watch for a film of the time.

Definite propaganda staggering around in the story line and a great cast including Dick Purcell who featured in many 30’s and 40’s films, but was most famous for portraying Captain America in the film serial of the same name in 1943! Henry Victor plays the doctor, whom you may have seen in the 1932 classic FREAKS and such movies as Confessions of a Nazi Spy and Nazty Nuisance (this is quite hilarious if you have yet to watch it).

If you are looking at Zombie films today in relation to thing one, it is bound to seem slow moving and more mystery and suspense led than horror, but is a classic non the less. If you are after an original 40’s film to watch on Halloween, then this isn’t a bad contender.

Rating 5/10

The Frozen Dead 1967

“Beware the stare of the Frozen Dead!” A British contender now about a mad scientist played by Dana Andrews (The Purple Heart, Wind and a Prayer, In Harm’s Way) who decides that collecting stamps must be really boring, so instead focuses his attention on Nazi war criminal’s heads. He then of course has to find the right bodies in which to attach these in to, so that he can re-build the Third Reich. America decided to do something very similar a year on using Hitler’s brain as the main focus (The Madmen of Mandoras, please don’t even bother with this one).

A very silly film done in a serious manner, it is hard to be scared by any The Frozen Dead, but it is still an ok watch if you are determined to watch something made before the 80’s. A collection of moving human arms strung on a wall…Nazi soldiers suspended in a tank…large syringes and a lot of ‘DUM DUM DUUUUUUUM” music. It hasn’t got any obvious comedy elements, but you will find yourself laughing at parts due to sheer ridiculousness anyway!

Rating 5/10

 The Boys From Brazil

The Boys from Brazil 1978

Not a gory horror film, but more of a Thriller. I believe it is still worth being in this article as if you haven’t seen it already, you should give it a go. The Boys from Brazil was nominated for 3 Academy Awards and the original story was written by Ira Levin who also brought us such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives! The original book is fantastic and a remake is in the pipeline, but Id on’t know when it is coming out!

The movie tells the story of Barry Kohler, who inadvertently stumbles upon Dr Mengele, the infamous Auschwitz doctor and other Third Reich nasties in secret talks. After hearing where the next meeting is, he calls upon the help of a Nazi hunter, who doesn’t really believe anything is going on and brushes it off. Barry decides to secretly record the next meeting on a hidden microphone but is unfortunately discovered and killed whilst making the all important second phone call to the Nazi hunter Lieberman.

Lieberman decides to follow the leads he heard in the final phone call and travels to North America and Europe to investigate the deaths of some civil servants. Upon meeting the widows of these men, he realises that they all seem to have adopted sons with incredible similar features…

Obviously taking inspiration from the Nazi cloning programme of 1938 and genocide, it is a far fetched story (says the girl who loves zombie movies), but still very gripping!

Starring Gregory Peck, Laurence Olivier and James Mason it already has a star studded cast. The fact that it was directed by Franklin Schaffner (Planet of the Apes) is also a bonus.

That is all I am giving you.

7.5/10

Death Ship 1980

If you are looking for classic 70’s/ 80’s cheese with music that reminds you of Demons/ Demons 2, then this is it. Yes it is dire and still only deserves a ‘meh’ rating, but if you find it cheap, just get it. Very funny in a ‘not-scary-but-trying-to-be-so’ way, this is what would have happened to the Gilligans if they hadn’t found their way to that island. A Nazi ghost ship picking up castaways from a cruise ship, the boat, mummified bodies and hallucinations seal the fates of these poor passengers. I have actually found the whole movie on Bruce McLaren’s Youtube account, so there you go!

Starring Academy Award winner George Kennedy (Naked Gun, Dirty Doze…and of course Dennis the Menace Strikes Again) and even Sally Ann Howes (Chitty Chitty Band Bang) it isn’t that bad really, just very of-the-period.

6.5/10 for the pure cheese factor

Puppet Master III

Puppet Master 3: Toulon’s Revenge 1991

Yes indeedy, it’s ‘String time for Hitler and Germany’ as Six Shooter, Pin Head and Blade somehow make it back to the cinema…no I don’t know why either. The film is dire, set in wartime Berlin in 1941. The Puppetmaster has already committed suicide in the previous should-not-have-ever-been-produced Puppetmaster 2. The Nazis , especially Majoy Kraus, have forced scientist Dr Hess to come up with a drug that can reanimate the corpses fallen in battle, but unfortunately the side effects of the drug seem to be mindless violence and bad acting. Meanwhile in a different part of town a puppet show is taking place (including a little puppet of Hitler that is brief but quite funny) and the couple running the show are caught feeding the puppets special magic stuff that keeps them alive by Major Kraus’ driver. He tell Kraus and the couple share the secret. Anyway, it all kicks off, Nazis burn down the theatre, kill the blokes wife and the puppets decide to take revenge. Nazis get shot by dolls and then dramatically throw themselves out of window like old spaghetti western movies. Watch it at your own peril. You won’t get that time back….especially as they brought our Puppet Master Axis Rising in 2013…

3/10

Outpost 2007

Maybe I’ve been hardened when it comes to horror flicks, or maybe I just found this too predictable. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t the worst film out there and a blessed relief after some of the tripe I had watched before it, but it still isn’t jump-out-of-your-skin scary to me. A British horror film directed by Steve Barker, it all revolves around an Ex-marine and soldiers being hired to find an old military bunker in Eastern Europe. At the same time every night, a strange bright light surrounds the area of trees around the bunker and eery silhouettes can be seen everywhere. They discover that the bunker was part of a strange Nazi experiment in reanimating dead soldiers into a super-powerful army (ooooh! Another one!). When two of the party are mysteriously murdered and some of their body parts are found joined together, the rest of the party realise that they have disturbed an occult force that isn’t quite over.

Worth a watch and if you get creeped out my movies easily then you will probably love this one.

6.5/10

Dead Snow

Dead Snow 2009

Yes!!! Norway I love you. Thank you for bringing us this gem of a movie! One of my all time personal favourites, Dead Snow was a complete surprise and a definite must have for those who love comedy horrors. More Nazi zombies, a classic group of young medical students and lots of laughter as well as blood and gore. The movie starts of with a killing from the get-go and after another character falls into a mysterious ice cave and some Nazi treasure is found and pocketed by the group, it acts like a bling magnet for the undead SS. We gleefully watch each student being either killed or creative with weapons in their desperate attempts to stay alive. The zombies are great, there is the obligatory sex scene (with a twist, watch out for the outhouse scene) and a wonderful bit with some intestines, but I won’t spoil it for you, just go and watch it. You’ll find it in Asda and Amazon for super cheap.

8/10

Iron Sky 2012

Another doozy of a film and not a horror, but Sci-fi. It totally deserves to be in here because I know an awful lot of people who haven’t seen it that should. Imagine Darth Vader is actually Hitler and lives on the Moon (surprisingly like the Death Star) and he has been creating his new and improved army of Stormtroopers since fleeing Earth in 1945. Yes Hitler didn’t actually die, he lives on the Moon, you heard it here. It is based in 2018 and America is planning another Moon landing to aid the female president’s re-election (I know, it can’t get any better can it?). The astronauts discover the secret space Nazis and are killed whilst Washington is taken over by the Fourth Reich. Fantastically tongue-in-cheek, Iron Sky is one of those films I wish I had seen at the cinema. If you don’t want zombies and horror, then give this beauty a go instead! There are a few really gaffawing moments and the rest is just a lovely bit of entertainment.

8/10

Frankensteins Army

Frankenstein’s Army 2013

When I ordered this a few months back, I was so positive that it was going to be a great film, I went the extra mile and ordered the steel Blu-ray book version from America. I shouldn’t have.

The story is quite good, the usual thing of creating a super army, but this one is seriously creative, using robotics to make them look almost insect like or with circular saw blades instead of hands. The film is creative, gory and the location was a real find. The film however lacks and feels low budget. The weird zombie robots are awesome, but then every so often a bit will wobble or shake, breaking the illusion that it is heavy steel and reminding you it is silicone and the like. I just left this film with a critical ‘meh…’

The one thing that makes me not want to burn the disc is that I decided to watch the making of documentary. This was really interesting and the director was the artist behind the army of monsters also. His drawing technique is wonderful and what is on the paper gets recreated as the characters perfectly. They show you how they did certain effects and although most of the actors are foreign, there are a few English ones in there to. So although I thought the film needed more money to make it good, the documentary warmed me to the makers of it.

3/10 for the film

6/10 for the documentary

So there you have it. I have been kind in my scores I think and if anyone watches movies from this list, it would be great to hear what you thought! There are even more WW2 themed horror movies being made as I type. The Bleeding has promise of being a good WW2 vampire movie, The Boys from Brazil remake should be interesting, yet another Outpost film, Fangs of War (a Canada and Germany collaboration) with more vampires, Panzer 88 which is intriguing me due to the ‘creature’ aspect and Toon Patrol, a sequel to Roger Rabbit that I had to sneak in there!  Jessica Rabbit gets kidnapped by Nazis!

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WW2 Songs and their Origins


Well last time I brought you songs of the First World War and today I bring you a few facts of the origins of these Second World War songs! I was going to go with quite a few quirky ones, but you would be amazed at how many are actually from a lot earlier. Take Quartermaster’s Stores for example…This is actually from the Civil War! So I have brought you some that are definitely WW2 and hope you enjoy the selection…
 
Now, as soon as I mention White Cliffs of Dover, you may be forgiven of instantly thinking of Vera Lynn, but there is 1 major flaw of the song that reminds us that the lyrics were written by an American…’Bluebirds’. These are not native to England and do not resemble Swallows or the like either. Imagine a Robin that has accidentally taken a bird bath in a pot of electric blue ink. That is a Bluebird. Nat Burner wouldn’t have known this as he had never ventured to these shores, but was forgiven as his beautiful lyrical imagery was so strong. Not only that, Swallows (which are navy blue) had been a symbol of love and loyalty for many, many years in Britain. It was a sign that spring when you saw that this delightful bird had arrived and they would always fly back every year. It also felt as if Nat’s Bluebirds were being used as a symbol of the RAF coming back home too.
 
White Cliffs of Dover Sheet music

White Cliffs of Dover Sheet Music from http://www.authentichistory.com

 
Written in 1941 (before America even joined into the fight), White Cliffs of Dover was created to boost morale on British soil. The musical composer was Jewish American Walter Kent who also composed the stunning festive song ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas.’ Nat was actually born Nat Schwartz, but changed his Germanesque surname to something less so. Nat had been writing songs for stage and screen, including ‘When the Roses Bloom Again’, which you may recognise the likes of Johnny Cash covering.
 
 
blood on the risers lyrics

http://www.serviceofsupply.com
Original 1943 lyrics to Blood on the Risers

 
Next is one I remember singing around a Brownie campfire; Blood on the Risers. This song has had so many lyric changes since the original American Paratrooper version. Most of us know the chorus lyrics as “Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die, suspended by your braces when you’re learning how to fly. Glory, glory what a hell of a way to die and he ain’t gonna jump no more!” but in fact the originals were “Gory, gory what a hell of a way to die (x3), he ain’t gonna jump no more!” The “Glory glory” confusion comes in because the tune is for a completely different song (The Battle Hymn of the Republic), in which you would have sung those words. The “Gory gory” version is a funny play on these, which seem to have gotten lost in the campfire versions. There was also a different lyric to the “…suspended by your braces” part that went “With a rifle on his back as he’s falling through the sky.”
 
Although each of the different versions tell the same basic story of a man falling to his death, the original is of a poor Airborne paratrooper that let out his parachute, only for the silk to wrap around his legs, the cord to coil around his neck and the connectors to wallop him over the head. This can also be heard in Episode 9 of Band of Brothers. No one knows who wrote this song, but I like to think that as the rest of the troop were singing “Glory glory Hallelujah!”, there was some cheeky sod at the back making up his own lyrics to make people laugh. Well if that is true, it certainly did the trick and is still sung religiously by the American Airborne troops to this day!
 
 
a nightingale sang in berkley square

From yorku.ca
A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square sheet music cover.

 
Recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Rod Stewart (hey, wait! Where you going?!), Harry Connick Junior, Nat King Cole, Glenn Miller and Vera Lynn, A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square is a beautifully sentimental song. The lyrics spark images of romance, London’s elegant Mayfair district and birdsong…but did you know it was actually written and first performed in France?! This famous ‘English’ song was in fact written in a small fishing village in Le Lavandou, just before the outbreak of war. Eric Maschwitz (born in Edgbaston, Birmingham) wrote the lyrics and Manning Sherwen wrote the melody. Later the same year, Eric became part of MI-6’s sabotage section and even briefly established a resistance organisation in Yorkshire in 1940 before getting posted to New York and then back to London. He was most famous for co-writing the 1937 adaptation of Goodbye Mr. Chips (one of my favourite MGM classics!), of which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Manning on the other hand was American and moved to England in 1938. He wrote many wartime musicals, who’s casts delivered between 235 and 680 performances per play throughout the 40’s.
 
So back to the song…Imagine a small, insignificant bar with Manning at the piano, a resident saxophone player and Eric holding a glass of plonk singing the words. You would be blown away right? Well no one was that fussed to be honest. Well as soon as the Brits heard it in 1940 on New Faces (sung by Judy Campbell), we went crazy for the song and its references to London. It was of course Dame Vera Lynn that really saw sales and heart soar for this song.
 
So there you have it. 3 exceptional songs of WW2 and I could bring you more, but then I would have nowt to write about when I am stuck for ideas! I will bring you others at a later date I promise, but hope you have found this interesting and enlightening!

Ice Bucket Challenge


Yup, I finally did it, in support of Macmillan Cancer Research. I nominated my 2 friends Trampy and Stephanie. I would say it is passing on the love, but I now know what this feels like! All those people who wimped out and just used tepid water…pfff…

Art Couture Painswick Festival 2014


I had never been to this event before, but lept at the chance to perform there after seeing the main website and video! I was certainly not disappointed. All around the church, nearby streets and in the fabulously Gothic churchyard, there was a feast for the eyes. From bands to costumes, craft stalls to body art, I was in heaven!!!

 

Kitten at Art Couture Painswick

Kitten at Art Couture Painswick

 

I performed on Friday Street first after listening to a wonderful duo called Bear and Kitten. Such pure, sweet voices with a piano and guitar. I could curled up in a ball and fallen asleep to their innocent tones. From this little stage I had a wonderful view of passers by and people stopping an the stalls. I found that I had to stop myself from laughing from time to time as there were so many dogs silently greeting each other, whilst the crowds wandered too and fro. I imagined the dogs tipping their hats to each other as they sauntered on…I know, it was rather hot…

Tape Dress

A dress and hat made from knitted and loose VHS tape!

 

Next I got changed into my half and half costume! I was debuting the outfit at the show and it was a raging success! People kept telling me I needed to get on the stage for the competition, but I had to tell them I was a singer, not part of the catwalk! Just the confidence boost I needed! I hung around in the performers area to get some snaps of some of the amazing body art before we had to go. It really was spellbinding as you can see!

ACP Festival Body Painting

The amazing body painting at the ACP Festival! Oh, and me in my new costume!

 

I will certainly be going back next year!

Welsh Dragon Body Art

Welsh Dragon Body Art

Alcester 1940’s Street Market Announcement!


HOLD YOUR HORSES!!!! I’m not at Alcester Street Market today, only tomorrow!!! Communication problems with organisers… Please come along and show your support… And buy heaps of stuff on our vintage stall of course. Market opens 1.30pm but event starts about midday!

Performing at 1.35pm and 2.50pm on Church Green.

Alcester, Warwickshire, B49
More info at http://www.alcestercourtleet.co.uk

Kitten Interviews Dame Vera Lynn


I contacted Dame Vera to thank her for her kind wedding wishes from 2012 and to ask whether she would honour me with a quick interview via letter. I didn’t expect answers to all of my questions and certainly didn’t expect her reply so promptly! So here it is for you dear readers…

I know the darling Swingtime Sweethearts very well and know how lovely the girls are! How did you feel recording with them for the charity single? “I didn’t record with the Swingtime Sweethearts, my voice was taken from an existing recording.”

What a shame, I presumed it was recorded for the CD! So could I ask you…I always imagine you singing around the house or whilst washing up; do you still sing and do you have any hobbies? “I have never sung around the house, my hobbies used to be gardening and painting, but neither of these I do very much of at the moment.”

What was the most requested song you were ever asked to sing? “We’ll Meet Again was the most requested”

You secretly kept a diary whilst touring in WW2 (not technically allowed, but fantastic that you did!). Have you ever thought about making it into a book? I’m sure a lot of us would love to hear of your experiences! “I have never considered writing my experiences during the war as they are not very interesting. As I was not allowed to keep a diary, they are not very detailed.”

You travelled to Egypt, India and Burma with ENSA (Indeed you received the Burma Star in 1985 for entertaining the troops there). What was your most memorable experience of entertaining during the war? “Visiting the wounded in a hospital in Burma.” “One boy said to me…England doesn’t seem so far away now you’re here” (2010 TV interview)

There has been some speculation that you did not get on with Gracie Fields. This was also made apparent in BBC4’s biopic drama ‘Gracie!’ starring Jane Horrocks. Would you like to put any rumours to bed? “I only met Gracie Fields once and that was at a charity concert. She was very nice and we had a talk, but that was all.”

I thought it may be tabloid hokum! It’s always better to ask than presume! You had some fabulous gowns for your television and press appearances. Were they yours? Have you kept any of them? “My clothes were made for TV and I haven’t kept any of them!”

*short interlude whilst I lie on the floor and calm myself*

How did it feel to be so admired by the troops and the fact that you are still looked upon as the original ‘Forces Sweetheart’ of Great Britain? “I am very proud to be called the Forces Sweetheart”

Daughter of a plumber and dressmaker, you actually started singing at the bonny age of 7 at a working men’s club. You also left school at a young age also? “I left school at 14, which was the usual age to leave at the time. I sang my first concert at the age of 7 and I had an uncle who was a professional comic! So in a way you can say I started young…”

You married the dashing and talented Harry Lewis in 1941. Harry was in the RAF No.1 Band, later known as the Squadronaires, and played the saxophone and clarinet. Did you ever sing with the band? “I think I sang with the Squadronaires once for a charity”

I later found out that this was at the band’s first ever concert in Blackpool!

I am part of a large collection of people that represent certain iconic aspects of the 1940’s. You yourself have been to such events as The War and Peace Show in years past, but what do you think of WW2 reenactors? Do you think it is important or just a strange hobby? “If people continue to do this, it will keep the memory of the war years alive.”

And lastly, my favourite songs that you sang are ‘When I Grow Too Old To Dream’ and ‘White Cliffs of Dover,’ What are your particular favourites? “We’ll Meet Again’ and the ‘White Cliffs of Dover”

 

Thank you once again to Dame Vera for her lovely letter and may we wish her all the love and luck in the world.

Burgh Island Valentine’s Weekend – Part 1


I was thrilled to once again perform at this gorgeous Art Deco hotel! It has been around 5 or 6 years since I was last there and was the 1st Burlesque dancer to perform at the hotel.

I thought I would share some of my photos with you and have more to come!

burgh-island-hotel

Burgh Island Hotel from the back

burgh-island

Burgh Island side view from the hilltop

burgh-island-richard

Mr Mew enjoying the view

Burgh-Island-Mermaid-Pool

The Mermaid Pool at Burgh Island

burgh-island-beach

The waves crashing in on the beach

burgh-island-conservatory-dome

The beautiful stained glass dome was inspired by peacock feathers

burgh-island-conservatory

A view out of the French doors of the bar

burgh-island-funny

Being a little silly and not trusting Mr Mew to give me a wet willy

richard-von-mew-burgh-island-bar

Mr Mew at the bar!

kitten-von-mew-1920's-burlesque

Striking a 1920’s pose just before my performance

kitten-von-mew-burlesque-dancer

Preparing (and posing) for my final act of the evening, Pipe Dreams!

kitten-von-mew-flapper-girl

Another 1920’s flapper pose in our stunning bathroom at Burgh Island

kitten-von-mew-vintage-girl