Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Elsewhere in fantasyland

Two years ago, I went along to the filming of something very similar to Dance of the Goblins (below) to report for the Times. So when the Goblin lady waddled on to Dragon's Den (with a title like that, is it any wonder she thought she was in the right place?) and started her "a very famous actor who was in Pirates of the Carribbean" schtick, my partner and I turned to each other simultaneously and said "oh, god, it's Barry the Demon Hunter..."

Here's what I wrote. A weeny-wickle edited-down version of it appeared in the Times on 9th January 2006.

The succubus is having a lovely day. “I couldn’t believe it when the director rang me,” she enthuses, “because I’m mad about vampires and all that mythology, so I said yes straight away.” (This may be worth remembering should you ever want to persuade an exotic dancer to perform for you for free). Anghel – “that’s my real name” – can usually be found twirling round a pole in Soho, but today she and a couple of colleagues are the latest paranormal foes to do battle with Barry the Demon Hunter.

Yes, you read that right. Barry is related to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but not in any way that might, say, cause disquiet to copyright lawyers. He was born not long after his Californian cousin saved the world for the final time two years ago, when photographer and fan Oliver McNeil used fifty quid, a video camera, two torches and some willing friends to transform Hastings town centre into an occult battleground. “The real break-through was when we met up with some live role-players”, sound-man Nicholas confides. “They do live-action Dungeons and Dragons stuff, and Olly said ‘we need some monk costumes.’ They pulled out a big trunk and said ‘Cistercian, Franciscan, or Dominican?’”

Today’s episode, number four, features a large cast recruited mostly through adverts in the local paper. “I only got cast last night,” admits Paul, picking himself up off the pub pool table where he has been deposited courtesy of a magical attack which will be added later courtesy of Oliver’s laptop. “It’s not the first acting I’ve done. I was a backshot in Dempsey and Makepeace.” Richard Alan, who plays Reverend Simon, is the series’ one professional. When not demon hunting, he does “children’s parties, panto, anything really”, and has just bagged a role in the new Rentaghost musical, where his supernatural experience will no doubt come in handy. Oliver himself takes the role of Barry, a “Knight Templar of the New First Order”, which means he gets to do all the cool sword fighting, and he also writes the scripts, which may have something to do with the fact that Barry is spending much of this episode being seduced by those demonic pole dancers. Sadly, the episode’s climax – in which the succubus (a female demon who feeds on the sexual energy of her male victims) is destroyed by means of a steamy lesbian kiss – has had to be rewritten. “I’m going to grab her by the throat instead”, the pretty 19-year-old who plays heroine Brook kindly but firmly tells the disappointed production team.

At last filming time arrives, and the pole dancers and live role-players – who have hitherto been keeping to opposite sides of the room, as if at a school disco – move into position. The rule here is that if you’re on set, you’re on screen, so after the judicious application of some terrifying zombie make-up by the leather trench-coated Jack (“I usually create wounds and bullet holes” – “Professionally?” – “No, just for my friends. I work at the cash and carry.”) I make my acting debut. Like Oliver and the rest of the crew, I’m expecting a call from Hollywood any day now.

You'll note my close-up at 09:56. Eeh, I was proud.

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