DESERT ISLAND FLICKS – Episode 10: Ian Rattray

With over thirty years in the film industry Ian Rattray is, among other things, a filmmaker, distributor and web editor. In addition to this he is one of the directors of FrightFest, the UK’s largest Horror/fantasy film festival. FrightFest has hosted filmmakers such as Park Chan-wook, Danny Boyle, Guillermo del Toro , John Landis, Gaspar Noé and Tobe Hooper.

Film 1 – The film you’ve seen more than any other.

STAR WARS. I first saw it in Dundee where I grew up. There were still several cinemas in town in those days, and I made a point of seeing the film in every single one of them more than once, over a six month period. I also sought the film out in all its various versions, including a trip to London to see the 70 mm version in the Dominion on Tottenham Court Road.

Star Wars A New Hope
Star Wars A New Hope (1977) – Dir: George Lucas
Film 2 – The Classic you’ve never seen

Over the years, I have tried to fill in the gaps in my film education by watching the so called classics. Most times, I end up being disappointed. Don’t start me on THE SHINING. Often I wonder if the people who write about these classics have seen the same film as me.

I’ve never seen GONE WITH THE WIND. Perhaps that wouldn’t disappoint.

Gone With The Wind (1940)
Gone With The Wind (1940) – Dir: Victor Fleming
Film 3 – The film that will definitely give you a lift

An easy one for me. DIRTY DANCING. The film works as a window into a more innocent time, but it’s that final don’t put baby in the corner scene that’s so special to me. It helped me through a difficult time because of the film’s music, plus that ending. It’s just so uplifting.

Film 4 – The so-called masterpiece that deserves a revisit

Two films and both from William Friedkin. THE EXORCIST and SORCERER.

I was on my very first trip to London as a teenager when I saw THE EXORCIST. I would like to know if it holds up and would make the same impression on me that it did at the time.

The Exorcist (1973)
The Exorcist (1973) – Dir: William Friedkin

An embarrassing side note. After seeing it, I slept with my hotel room light on for the remainder of my time in London.

And SORCERER, which I only caught up with relatively recently when it was re-released. A fabulous underrated film that deserves a revisit. Spoiler alert – At the screening that I saw it at, in the scene where they’re getting the truck across the rickety bridge, you could feel the tension in the room. I swear there was an audible release of breath when it made it across.

Film 5 – The film you wished you’d made

A warning here, this is a bit nerdy. I have an embarrassing old man’s hobby; I like trains and especially North American steam trains. In my spare time, I travel the US filming them and posting the results on YouTube for other train fans to watch. I would have loved to have been the DP on EMPEROR OF THE NORTH POLE. Featuring several massive locomotives and starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Keith Carradine the film was shot in the same Oregon location as Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL. Steam porn. I told you it was a bit nerdy.

Film 6 – The film that had the biggest effect on you

Another warning here. Patience will be required with this one. POLICE ACADEMY 3. Yes, you read that correct, POLICE ACADEMY 3. It’s nothing to do with the film being any good, but without this film, I wouldn’t be writing this now. I used to own cinemas in the 1980s in Scotland. One of them was The Moving Picture Show, a 13 venue 35 mm mobile cinema that used to operate in the North and North East of Scotland. Think a transit van loaded with a projector and screen which would turn up each night at a venue, unload and show a film. The idea wasn’t original, but the use of 35mm prints was.

Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) - Dir: Jerry Paris
Police Academy 3: Back in Training (1986) – Dir: Jerry Paris

Back in the 1980s, there was a thing called barring. Barring was the practice whereby a distributor refused to allow one of its films to be shown in a rival’s cinema. Barring orders specified various distances around cinemas, inside which the film couldn’t be shown by a competitor. Scottish schools break up almost a month earlier than the rest of the country each summer. In the 1980s, films were released regionally on smaller runs of prints but for some reason, that was never adequately explained to me, for this short time before the English schools broke for the summer, all Scottish cinemas could get any new film. Cutting a long story short, I got a copy of POLICE ACADEMY 3, and the film took a lot of money. So much money in fact that The Moving Picture Show was promoted to a first-run cinema and the barring order removed.

Films 7 & 8 – Wild Cards

SUMMER HOLIDAY because it’s just so cheesy and colourful. I could learn all the words to the songs and sing along, and the longest possible version of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001. It’s so dull and tedious in my opinion; I could use it to send me to sleep each evening.

Summer Holiday (1963) - Dir: Peter Yates
Summer Holiday (1963) – Dir: Peter Yates
The rogue disc – The film you wished you’d never seen

EPISODE I: THE PHANTOM MENACE. I have never been let down so badly by a film. Being a huge Star Wars fan, I almost never went back to watch another one.

I was very fortunate to be invited to the very first UK screening at the Odeon Leicester Square one morning in the spring of 1999. There I was sitting in the balcony of that prestigious cinema with a handful of the great and good of the film industry waiting for the film to start. The 20th Century fanfare boomed out, and the hairs came up on the back of my neck I was so excited. About two-and-a-bit hours later, I’ve never felt so deflated. I’ve since watched the film several times trying to find something to redeem that terrible day but have struggled.

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