Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The island where a devil fought demons

Well, I'm finally back from my holiday on sun-soaked Guernsey in the southern English Channel, much of which time I spent in the company of my lovely family and friends, but some of which I also dedicated to exploring the archaeological remnants of the island's Nazi occupation, which of course was the basis for my most recent horror movie, THE DEVIL'S ROCK, in the company of its director, Paul Campion, and one of its stars, Matt Sunderland.

For those interested, HERE is a TV interview done with us all on BBC Guernsey last week.

Thanks must also go to CINEGUERNSEY for arranging the special screening of the movie, which was massively and enthusiastically attended, and for the Q&A session following - Paul, Matt and I all felt it was one of the best ones we've done so far, with non-stop intelligent questions taking us well past our allocated time.

Pictured below, Paul Campion (left), Matt Sunderland (middle) and my good self (in a somewhat inappropriate Dad's Army t-shirt) in the gun-pit whose design we used for the movie, and where a full-size German howitzer is still in place.

I've visited Guernsey and Jersey several time before when I was a child, but it never struck me until this last time round just how alive the memories of World War Two still are on these small, apparently insignificant resort islands, particularly Guernsey, which Hitler was convinced would be the staging post for an Allied invasion of occupied Europe.

Subsequently, between 1940 and 1945, entire battalions of German troops were based here, and the glorious coastlines were studded with concrete watch towers, bunkers and gun installations. Most of these are still intact and can be visited free of charge, while the island's many museums recount those dark days in unstinting detail and display a wealth of memorabilia.

Ultimately, on June 6th 1944 the Allied invasion struck Normandy's beaches directly, and the Channel Islands - though it meant they were doomed to remain under the jackboot for another 11 months - were spared the horrors of heavy bombardment and close-quarter fighting that were necessary to breach Hitler's Atlantic Wall. The actual liberation of Guernsey occurred on May 9th 1945 without a shot being fired, and it is still celebrated by the islanders with a special public holiday and a crisp home-brewed beer, Liberation Ale, of which I'd be lying if I said I hadn't sampled a few jars over the last week or so.

Anyway, here are some more relevant pix from last week.

First up, I investigate one of the former tunnel complexes, which has now become a museum. Those who've now seen the movie will (I hope) note a not-entirely-accidental resemblance to the tunnels through which star of the THE DEVIL'S ROCK , Craig Hall, was stalked by his demonic nemesis.

Below that, my son, Harry (right) and his mate, Sam, (left) join me at yet another well-defended embrasure. When I say these German strongpoints are well preserved, I mean it - all of these guns looked as if they could actually still fire.

Meanwhile, THE DEVIL'S ROCK roadshow continues to travel, and has now, finally, hit the North American continent, as it opens this week at the Fantasia Movie Festival in Montreal. Sadly, I couldn't attend that one, but Paul Campion (the director), and stars Matt Sunderland, Gina Varela and Karlos Drinkwater will all be in attendance.

Pictured below, in descending order: I join Paul Campion, Matt Sunderland and Gina Varela at the London premiere of the movie, in Soho; Matt and Gina do the red carpet stuff in Montreal; and Paul delivers his expert lecture on the film's special effects at Bournemouth University.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.