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The Spirit Of Independence:
Michael J. Murphy
interviewed by Paul Higson

There can be no story like it in British film history. The schoolboy who made feature films and the man he became who continues in his dedication to the process 38 years later - with 25 films completed, 23 of them feature-length, only a handful of projects begun and aborted, though none of the fallen projects abandoned without good reason. Despite the output he is known of through few of his films in his home country, the two that went to video and several more that made it into homes on the cable Channel HVC. People tried to place a location on his films by the accents, but he was elusive, through no effort of his own to be so. He modestly moves between Somerset and Greece, Wales and Portugal, but his base will always be Portsmouth, making his horror, fantasy, science fiction, psychological thrillers and historical epics, taking his small cast and crew on memorable filmmaking adventures, his fervour, energy and likeability rewarding him with a generous circle of friends and not a bad word against him.
Michael J. Murphy
Michael J. Murphy, filming
STAY in Greece, 1980
First and foremost a film fan, the amateur Super-8 filmmaking bug took him early with astonishing drive. That devotion continues, his anonymity kept largely because the budgets were ever so small with money raised not in industry circles but among family and friends, while those who capitalised on his films in their distribution saw no reason to promote the director, or solicit his career advancement within their own ranks.
   The filmmaking is a labour of love that always threatens to financially cripple him and yet he perseveres, and succeeds, while others regret the collapse of greater budgets time and again. Who is the real winner? He has no delusions as to the quality of his work. He consistently shows skill with both the camera and in his tweaking of conventional narrative, the limitations of budgeting causing him endless troubles and setbacks that inevitably affect the quality. With his story finally brought to public attention he may now find the respect he deserves and, what is more, become an inspirational figure to those with filmmaking dreams and the perception of the impossibility in its fulfilment. May he also upon this find a revival of interest not only among British film fans but among those with the means to restore and preserve his films as a library, to act as benefactor to his future filmmaking endeavours, possibly even reward him with the opportunity to prove himself with a serious film budget, though one suspects that given �200,000 to make a movie he would instead set about using it for the making of the next 25 features.
   Let Michael J. Murphy's dedication on a budget embarrass everyone into action. The digital age has seen a rise in independent film production and Murphy is meeting his newest challenge by also with his first digital feature film production, Roxi, a murder-mystery to be shot in Greece in this the year of the Olympics homecoming. Perhaps it might become his year, too. He has bloody well earned it.

Now, your production company is called Murlin Films. The 'Mur' stands for Murphy but what does the 'Lin' stand for?

'Murlin' is, as you say, partly my name, and part of my sister-in-law's maiden name. She has been one of my main supporters, together with a handful of friends who have helped to raise budgets/financing for my productions. If I have good sales on a production this can finance the next, but when I don't I need to seek help to raise the budget... as usually happens.

How about some background history? The question many have asked. Who is Michael J. Murphy?

I started making home movies from the age of 12 or 13. By 15 I had made my first full-length Standard-8 epic: Atlantis, City Of Sin. It was truly awful but showed at school and in my parents' dining room for over a month, one showing every night. It was very bloody with lots of model volcanoes and fireworks going off. I received a great deal of local publicity and appeared on television with the tag line, the "world's youngest film director." I followed this up with three or four other films changing from Standard-8 to Super-8, which I think became popular in 1967-8. I made a movie about Theseus and the Minotaur, another about Boadicea that was filmed in 'Cinemascope' and shown at my grammar school, during a power cut. I had one power line to feed the equipment. It was a freezing winter weekend and the audience, including the Lord Mayor, froze watching this violent and somewhat mini-epic with lots of cleavage, rape and pillage. My headmaster wrote to various companies, including Hammer and 20th Century Fox, and Associated British at Elstree saw me and watched my films in their preview theatres. In the late 1960s the unions made it almost impossible for anyone new to get a job. Wanting fresh younger people, the studio bosses took me on as a trainee, in an effort to bypass the unions. I couldn't actually do or touch anything... because I wasn't a union member, but I could watch and went from department to department, watching and learning. I was also given scripts to read and assess and could go on set whenever I wanted. At the time they were making a lot of Hammer films there plus for television The Avengers, Department S and Randall And Hopkirk Deceased. I also used to have the occasional day over the road at MGM's Borehamwood studios, where I watched Kubrick on the set of 2001: A Space Odyssey and saw some of Where Eagles Dare and Polanski's Dance Of The Vampires.
   When the studio was bought by EMI, and then later merged to become EMI/MGM Studios, my bosses were being changed and the fate of the studio was very dodgy. I was also very homesick. I was just 17, wanted to make films, impatient, and was frustrated by the 'it's just a job' attitude of a lot of the studio employees, the union members. So I left. I then started to make my own movies on 16mm. I had several jobs but finally settled on working with a very good child and wedding photographer, making my 16mm films as a very expensive hobby. I won a few prizes in Movie Maker type competitions and then the photographer I worked with decided to retire. I didn't want to continue on my own so I left and that same year made Invitation To Hell and The Last Night. I had just begun to make slightly more exploitative films bearing in mind the upsurge of the video libraries in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I had already filmed a thriller in Greece in 1981 called Death In The Family. This had cost quite a bit of money. Since then as you can see from my filmography I have continued making movies for the television and video market. Sometimes I have to work, other times I am self-employed. I spent eight or nine years as a carer for my mother who was a stroke victim. I still managed to combine my film work whilst caring for her. She died in 1999 and since then I have had a part time job in a local off-licence. I need a regular income to pay the bills now and cannot rely on film work to live. I am now in my fifties with very little to show for it, except great memories, which is maybe more than many people have.

Gods And Heroes (made in 1971) was an ambitious project with costumes, multiple locations, props that included papier mâché cabers, helmets, monsters, a night shoot, made all the more inconceivable in completion by the fact that, did I get this right, that the greater part of pre-production and shooting was achieved in a month.

Gods And Heroes was an attempt to make a pilot for a television series each covering a different Greek myth or legend. As usual I was overly ambitious and it was inferior to my more artistic and well-received first version of Tristan. So I turned my interest in ancient Greece around to making films set in modern Greece.

Happy Ever After followed in 1974. Could you relate to me the plot of this film? Some of the images appear to place it into the horror genre but this could be deceptive. Greek mythology had been explored in your films in Theseus And The Minotaur and Gods And Heroes. Was this the film that took you to Greece for the first time?

Yes. Happy Ever After was my first film shot in Greece. Not a horror film but an updating of Beauty And The Beast... sort of. I suppose I was aiming at an art house movie but it was a bit of a mess really.

Secrets looks very atmospheric and thrilling from the photographic evidence, appearing to draw on Hammer Films' psychological thrillers of the 1960s in influence. A little something on the genre and plot of this one and on the return to Greece, please.

Yes, Secrets was really quite good and was sort of Hammer psychological thriller in type. If the video market had appeared just a few years earlier this could have sold well as a made straight to video release. It was a few years too early and by the early 1980s, when video was booming, the film had already been damaged by dodgy old projectors I had to use not having the money for better equipment. The plot for Secrets was pretty standard with rich girl marrying a playboy who tries to kill her to inherit her wealth but the murder attempt goes wrong leaving her paralysed. He brings in a nurse to look after his wife and... yes, you've got it, the woman is his lover and had planned it with him... so now the three play cat and mouse, with the rich girl getting help from a friend in the village... who is poisoned... leaving the crippled girl alone to fight for her life.

A number of your films have been made in Greece (Stay, Insight, Death In The Family, included). What was the overriding appeal to shooting there and how was it possible affording to shoot there?

I like the Greek way of life... on the simpler islands, that is... and they are usually very helpful and like being filmed as extras. Also, in the 1970s Greece was very cheap for food and booze. So although getting everyone there was an expense, you saved budget by shooting there. A different story now, with the introduction of the Euro. Plus you're pretty certain of the weather whereas when filming exteriors in England at anytime it is always risky weather-wise.

The next six are pretty much unexplained. How about a little on the plot and genre on each: first off: Insight?

Insight was about a group of film students filming a sci-fi film on location in Greece... a sort of poor man's Day For Night. Can't really remember the plot but I know it was a nightmare to film because we had some assistance from the Greek Tourist Board who had booked us various, very nice locations but we'd arrive, have a couple of days, say, in Rhodes, then have to pack and fly to, say, Pharos, then pack and fly to Athens, from where we'd have to go to another island, etc. The footage showed how rushed it all was and there was a fault on the Beaulieu R16 I had hired so the project was abandoned. I hate not finishing films but when you have no money and the film looks like shit what else can you do.

And 7th Day?

7th Day was a sci-fi story about the end of the world. A young honeymoon couple find a man washed ashore. When they realise he is alive they take him back to their holiday villa where he proceeds to test them in various ways as the rest of the world is systematically being wiped out. By the time they realise they are the only people left alive the man has disappeared and they hadn't realised they are the start of a new world... a new Adam and Eve. Fearing they are the next to die they decide to commit suicide rather than face some unknown end.
   I attempted to make this film twice, once in Greece and once in Wales... both in very remote locations. Each one went well and looked pretty good but there were all sorts of spooky things happening. I'm not really into spirits and religion but it was at times unnerving and I certainly won't be trying a third attempt at this story.

In the images Almost A Movie suggests something a little naughtier and a nod, perhaps, to the British sex films?

Almost A Movie was about a young man meeting up with his new stepmother... an idea I took to start me thinking for the Roxi story. His father is also supposed to join them for a holiday but never shows up. Has the son killed his father? He then proceeds to keep the stepmother prisoner in the villa as he reveals details of her past as an ex-porn star. And so it goes on with twists and so on.

The Cell. Again, if you could, a concise account on this particularly curious title?

The Cell was a short set in 17th century Russia. The condemned man waits in the cell to be beheaded at dawn. As custom had it a prostitute was sent into the cell to fill his final hours. He pleads with her to help him as he is totally innocent of the murder of which he is accused. She does her best to help him, but in the morning when he is taken away and beheaded, her efforts were for nothing, and when the prison keeper sees the money she was paid still on the table outside the cell he enters to find the prostitute strangled by the prisoner who was guilty as hell.

Death In The Family has been mentioned and cited as a feature-length film, but was not in the originally submitted filmography.

Death In The Family was a very convoluted plot about a brother and sister's attempt to kill their rich parents. Made at the start of the video boom I should have made it more exploitative. It was all rather controlled and wooden.

Regarding this Greek film period, where were they seen and do any of these early films survive in any form?

Most of the Greek and Portugal films survive in some form or another but have some damage and would need work to restore them for proper viewing on a project or for video transfer.

Were Invitation To Hell and The Last Night planned and written as feature-length films of some 80 minutes originally?

I really can't remember how long Invitation To Hell and The Last Night were planned to be. I know they were made purely for the video market and meant to be a double bill. I think I was aiming for 60 minutes. The scripts would never have made proper feature-length films.

Videomedia was the first label to release the films, in fact the only one to release The Last Night. Jog my memory, were they both uncut at the time of that video release?

I think on the original release they did cut some of the heart ripped out scene. Maybe only a five or six second shot of the heart being pulled out of the chest. Also, the original poster was banned. At the time The Daily Mail was on a crusading campaign against video nasties. A demon holding a bloody knife was found to be offensive, so they put the same photo inside a screaming, blood-dripping mouth and that was OK.

I am terribly disappointed because I thought I had both films on the Senator video release but this is a truncated form of Invitation To Hell only (minus The Last Night - Elliot's Guide to Films on Video is unaware of the presence of The Last Night on the Videomedia copy and, amusingly, believes that Invitation To Hell was so extreme it was cut by 47 minutes) to appease the BBFC and to add insult to injury my copy appears not even to gone to the bother of a clean cassette from the distributor, taping over a 'sell-through' tape of the He-Man animated series. Could you run me through this corner of the films' history?

The Senator re-release was totally without my permission. I have never been paid by any of the various people involved with the first release of the film. I think I was promised �5,000 minus �2,000 agent's percentage. So �3,000 wasn't great for two films that cost me about �2,000. However, it would have been better than nothing, which is what I got. I wrote to Senator and they believed I had signed the rights over to the person they had done the deal with. This was incorrect, as I had never signed anything. If I had taken them to court it would have been easy to prove the film was my copyright. But then, if Senator went bust, as so many small video companies were doing at the time, I could have been left with nothing plus legal fees to pay. Also, the quality of the Senator release was very bad, as it had been taken from a standards transfer. It had been sold to the US and Canada so maybe it was copied from a NTSC master.

I was no fan of the films at the time but watching Invitation To Hell again recently, it is well shot and paced, though this may not have been possible if it had run longer than its 47 minutes. When exactly was each film shot? And where were they shot; the farm in one, the theatre in the other?

Invitation To Hell was shot in a farmhouse in North Devon plus a cottage in Dorset, a friend's place. The Last Night was filmed in a small church hall come theatre in Southsea, the holiday resort part of Portsmouth. I think we hired it for one week but filmed at weekends and evening because most of the cast had jobs to go to during the weekdays. Because of the shortage of money, thus film stock, it was shot at 16 2/3 frames per second instead of 24 or 25 frames per second. This caused terrible problems with the sound and we could not hold sync and it all had to be dubbed and quite badly as I seem to remember. I haven't seen it for years. It wasn't a bad idea but I found it cringe-making to sit through.

Made at a time when money for film production in general, never mind for genre films was slim pickings, we now know that this would not have affected you, but even finding the funding for films at the time, it must have been frustrating for you at times?

I think I have more or less answered this. It's been a difficult and frustrating time for, nearly all my filmmaking career. 1989 and 1990 was maybe the best time. I was self-employed, only working on films, which were selling reasonably well throughout the world. By 1991 sales were getting more difficult and sadly this is when my mother suffered a serious stroke and needed more or less full-time care at home. I'm not blaming this, or implying this affected my film work because the sales were not so good and I wouldn't have been able to stay self-employed on the income they weren't supplying.

I presume Qualen to be a horror thriller again. How did this film come to be released and available only in the Spanish language? Was it shot in the UK or did you venture abroad again for the shoot? This could be the only British genre film available only in a foreign language?

Yes, Qualen was more exploitative. The distributor who helped finance it had a deal with Spain but couldn't sell it anywhere else... I assume so anyway. So it was only ever available in Spanish I think. Don't know about the South American market.

Also quite unique is Bloodstream. As the British were the only one's subjected to the 'video nasties' purge, the only film to be made intentionally as a video nasty could only have come from a Briton. There must have been a point during production when you realised that this was unlikely ever to get a release in that climate.

Bloodstream was very self-indulgent. I had been badly treated by distributors and took my revenge by making a film about them and their family members being murdered in the most vile ways possible... even burnt their pet dog. Not only because it was a deliberate video nasty but more the limitations of Super-8 stopped it selling (shot in 1985, Bloodstream is the only film since 1969 not shot on 16mm). I, obviously, changed their names and the people I was parodying never got to see it so it was all a bit pointless, but I expect it felt good at the time.

It would seem that John Eyres' Project Shadowchaser was only made possible by account of the money Eyres' made from the distribution of your films internationally (it was a big leap for Eyres' from Lucifer to that, after all). Does that appear a fair statement to you?

I'm sure that sales from my movies helped towards John Eyres' various films, but I would not say that I was solely responsible for them, far from it I expect. Also, I really don't want to get into the money side too much. I know it's interesting and it's true I've often been ripped off but ultimately it was my fault for being na�ve or too desperate to get at least something back for a film. John Eyres' ambition was to win an Oscar and mine has always been to survive and continue making films. On the evidence of his productions and considering their budgets I think they are very formulaic and lack originality, so I think he's as far away from winning an Oscar as I am.

The alternative titles that some of your films have landed in other territories, such as Mutant City and Wicked City (for Death Run on video in Germany), Avalon Of Excalibur (for Avalon, in Germany again) and Premonicion (for Second Sight on video in Spain), sometimes come as a surprise to you. Have you accepted that some of the films are no longer in your control and might never learn of some of the release worldwide?

I've always known when I've signed contracts my films can have name changes, be re-cut, have bits added and so on. I just didn't know to what extent they had been sold. I'd love to see Avalon dubbed into Japanese!

The early 1990s saw a couple of new Murphy films appear on cable television. HVC must have been a small blessing at the time. Torment was made in 1989, a psycho-thriller, Second Sight came next and is the more unconventional and highly praised of the two. Torment was too regulation and I thought it shot on video. It looks unnervingly 1980s, bright, close and the rock singer at the centre of the tale is a little too 'working men's club'. Are you pleased with the film?

Torment was not shot on video. I have never made a feature type film on video. Until now, anyway! Roxi will be my first venture into the digital age. From my tests and tryouts onto DVD the results are very good and by applying good film making skills the results will certainly be easier to achieve than on 16mm and a hell of a lot cheaper. As happened on Avalon I had a problem with the camera shutter on Torment and many scenes were affected. I had to re-shoot a lot of close-up inserts, in my garage or wherever but not the actual Devon location, and try to make them match in with the original footage. The whole film had a tendency to be over-lit thus giving a contrasty video look. This can also seem enhanced by the film-to-video transfer. The transfer of Tristan to video was very dark and needed a lot of video enhancement to lighten the image. It is difficult on a small budget to get a perfect transfer. Bigger productions would have a fully graded transfer that would cost the total budget of two or three of my films. The transfer of Second Sight was not done by one of the bigger labs, such as Rank or Todd-AO, and the results were poor with degraded colours and poor definition compared to viewing the master 16mm film on the screen.

You have a tendency to work with other writers. Too many genre filmmakers try to save money by writing the script themselves. Why is that not the case with you?

Although I usually bill somebody else as the screenplay writer it is usually me. I have had three or four scripts written by other writers but in every case they have been supplied with the stories by me. This is not megalomania but many writers I have worked with go off into a much more ambitious and difficult to produce level. I have been offered scripts to film and again because of my very limited budgets and schedules I haven't filmed them. I tend to approach films with a Ready Steady Cook attitude. There are ingredients, these are the people I can cast and the location or locations I have, in the time I have. What can I make out of this? Road To Nowhere dialogue was written by Jeff Taylor with considerable input from the two Americans in the cast, method actors, and I think this one is one of my better films because of this. The story I came up with was very simple but could have worked better, I think, if I hadn't taken the advice of a local writer who said it needed the police investigation input. This added more cast and settings and took away the central suspense from the main story. Although very flawed Road To Nowhere is one of my better films, I think, and having someone else write it can help because you approach it with a fresh eye as a director. Roxi the whodunit thriller I am finishing at the moment is, I think, the best story I have ever written... Going back to your initial question I usually have to write my own scripts or find them more workable than others. However, I would very much like to work with good writers to improve the quality of my films, and let's face it, there's plenty of room for improvement.

From where did the idea for Second Sight originate and what was the shooting schedule on the film and budget of this compared with some of your other films?

Second Sight had a two-week shooting schedule in nice but small interior locations in Dorset. Can't remember the budget but I think it was about �5,000 to �6,000. It was mostly financed from sales of Torment and Atlantis. When finished, Second Sight tended to sell a little more to the art market than my normal schlock. I remember my agent at the time, Ray Atkinson, being surprised that it sold to the Czech Republic and Hungary. To quote: "They only usually want good films." He apologised to me when he realised he was talking to me but I thought it amusing as I have no illusions about my 'work'! Another amusing story around this time was I was in my local pub talking to a group of friends. They asked me why I was offering to buy a round of drinks, because usually I am broke and opt out of accepting or buying rounds because of my limited finances. I said I had just heard from my agent and he had sold one of my movies to Columbia. They became really excited saying this was the big break I had always needed and were mentioning Hollywood, etc. I then realised they thought I was talking about Columbia the film company, when, of course, I was talking about the South American country who had probably bought it for 500 dollars plus a kilo of drugs.

Did the sale of those titles to HVC fund the making of Road To Nowhere in 1993?

HVC was a very small company and paid peanuts. I think it was something like 900 dollars for eight to 12 showings. Take out 25 percent agent's cut, expenses, etc, and there's not even enough to make one of my movies. Foreign sales were usually more lucrative, other than BOP television in South Africa, in the Sun City area; they bought all my earlier stuff. In the mid-1990s the station was burnt down in some riot. I sold Torment to Yugoslavia and a few months later all the troubles started there. Before that I had sold a couple of mine to Argentina and the Falklands War started the following month. My family joked I should give up filmmaking as I was much more successful as a 'warmonger'. Road To Nowhere was mostly financed from sales of Second Sight, and by myself.

The Rite Of Spring covers pagan horror territory. Are you a great fan of The Wicker Man?

The Rite Of Spring is a sort-of poor man's Wicker Man. It should have been much better. It just doesn't work... although some people really love it... I can't understand why. But it was one of the most enjoyable films to work on I've ever made... we had such a good time filming it. Maybe that was why it doesn't work... too much play and not enough work.

And Kate Steavenson-Payne of Tristan (1999) is in the film. She has recently risen to the bigger league but her IMDb entry will be incomplete until your films get a mention.

Kate Steavenson-Payne's first film with me was Road To Nowhere and since then we still keep in touch. She was married last September... I was invited to the wedding but I was in Greece checking out the location for Roxi.

James Reynard appeared in three of your films in a featured role, Tristan being the most recent.

James (Jim) Reynard has been in four of my films. A Shakespearian actor who I believe you have been in contact with, he is always reliable and hard working. I think he was suited to his role in and particularly good in the emotional scenes. As you say, not your type of movie [that was before I saw it, see my review], it has proved more popular with a female audience, some really loving it and watching it over and over again, teenage girls. Horses for courses!

Were there three or four film versions of the Tristan and Iseault story?

There were three attempts at Tristan as in the filmography.

Torment, Road To Nowhere and Second Sight have recently been sold to IFM World Releasing - a film and television production and distribution company that I originally took to be American but they seem to be handling virtually every medium budget Australian fantasy, horror and science fiction film of the late 1970s and 1980s (films by Eggleston, Lahiff, Trenchard-Smith, Ginnane). What was the actual deal and could it lead to DVD releases in the UK?

IFM in Los Angeles have had those three films for seven or eight years now. My agent, Ray, did the deal and it was very geared in their favour and although they have had quite a few sales I still have not received a penny. They had to make $75,000 on sales of the three films before I got cut. Every time they approached this, their expenses would be added to the account so they needed to recoup more money for themselves. Unfortunately, I have to find the money upfront to make the movies, so I am first in the financial chain so to speak, but I'm the last to get money back. Agents and distributors are always dripping on about the expenses of selling films, and so on but they forget who paid for them in the first place!

Are there any plans to re-release a double bill of Invitation To Hell and The Last Night in the UK?

I certainly have no plans to release Invitation To Hell and certainly not The Last Night in the UK. I would much rather look forward to making much better productions in the future and although I can't exactly disown the old productions I'd rather not be associated with them now. They are part of history and were a learning experience for me.

Did you have anything to do with the films Dinner In Purgatory or Animal Rites, just to clear up any potential confusion?

I had nothing to do with those two films you ask about. I know James [Reynard] was in Dinner In Purgatory. But I was not involved at all, and I have never seen them, tell a lie, I think I did watch it years ago but I really can't remember it, so I imagine I didn't like it.

Your recent activities will surely excite some who consider you as one of the missing links between golden age British horror and the new spate of digital age horror film production. Have you been aware of your mini-status within UK horror film fandom?

I am totally unaware of who is watching my films. I know years ago, about 1991, I was introduced to a large group of students in a pub because there was some sort of cult following of Death Run, Avalon, et al; pirate copies on the University circuit. The students couldn't believe that I was the guy responsible and really made a fuss of me but other than these rare occasions I have no idea what has happened to my little movies. I also think the reason one gets a sort of cult status is because they are not very good and I make it more accessible for people to think they could do better. Again, it's the Ed Wood syndrome. I don't make films for that reason but it is one of the outcomes.

There is a substantial amount of activity in the Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth area, isn't there? Is there any other genre film activity there and camaraderie? I used to correspond with the late great cinematographer Dick Bush BSC who used to live in Portsmouth on the rare occasion he was not elsewhere very busy with everyone from Ken Russell to William Friedkin; he told me that ten films with Ken Russell was quite enough. Were you aware of his work?

Although, as you know, I have had professional connections, I do not know Dick Bush. I have some vague connections with Ken Russell. I worked for the photographers a few doors away from the Kings Theatre in Southsea where Mr Russell shot the 'Pinball Wizard' sequence in Tommy and I was there taking my own personal stills with The Who and Elton John, also, the junkyard that I filmed Death Run in was used by him on Tommy. Though he was not popular in Portsmouth. The Boyfriend was filmed at the Royal Theatre in Portsmouth and it upset quite a lot of people, plus he was responsible for burning down one of our piers whilst filming Tommy. A light set fire to some drapes and the end of the pier was destroyed. Thank god I've never been so destructive as a filmmaker.

What can you tell us about Skare without giving too much away?

Skare was a black comedy horror movie. A weird story and the filming went very well. We had a great location and the weather was fabulous. Unfortunately, as I have already told you, the unprocessed film got lost in the post on the way to Kodak to be developed. I lost �10,000 and have suffered for the few years since because I financed this myself and have put myself in debt because of this. It is a sad story because I think the film was very different and could have been very good... but who really knows. The cast wanted me to shoot it again but I couldn't afford to and now I want to go forward and not try and duplicate something from the past.

Oliver Price (Team One, Parasite) and Sally Bayly (who plays 'Alice Groves' in Skare) both claim to have the lead role.

Oli and Sally were the male and female stars of Skare. Also Magda Rodriguez had a major role. Check out her website if you want.

Why is it called Skare?

It's called Skare after Skare Valley, the setting of the film. It was actually by Lake Baylin in North Wales, a beautiful location.

So the current status with Skare is..?

I think the current status of the film is obvious. It is a lost film that I can do nothing about other than a few stills and about a fifth of the footage shot here in Portsmouth with all the main footage shot in Wales lost by Parcel Force!

Is there enough of a back catalogue for you to do something with them on DVD in the UK, in double bills, or a new film with an old short in support, etc?

As you know, with most of my productions somebody else has the rights. But if anyone was interested I could produce DVDs of those that I can. Atlantis is a real curiosity and pure schlock, a Z-grade movie rather than a B-movie. Makes Power Rangers look good. Could be a cult classic.

Almost A Movie (1979),  Atlantis (1990),  Atlantis: City Of Sin (1966-7),  Avalon (aka: Avalon Of Excalibur, 1988),  Bloodstream (1985),  Boadicea (1968),  The Cell (short, 1979-80),  Death In The Family (1981),  Death Run (aka: Mutant City, Wicked City, 1987),  Gods And Heroes (TV pilot, 1971),  Happy Ever After (1974),  Invitation To Hell (short, 1982),  The Last Night (short, 1982),  Moonchild (1989),  Qualen (1983),  The Rite Of Spring (1995),  Road To Nowhere (1993),  Second Sight (aka: Premonicion, 1991),  Secrets (1977),  Stay (1980),  Theseus And The Minotaur (1968),  Torment (1989),  Tristan And Iseult (1970),  Tristan (aka: Legend Of A Hero, 1986),  Tristan (1999).

Unfinished productions (in chronological order):
See-Saw (1969),  7th Day (1976),  Insight (1978),  7th Day (2nd attempt, 1979),
Skare (2001) ... FORTHCOMING: Roxi.
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Murphy in Atlantis
Michael J. Murphy
(circa 1965-6, age 14)
in his only 'proper' film
appearance, as the King
of Atlantis, in his film



Tristan and Iseult
Murphy's 1st version,
photo - August 1970

Gods and Heroes

Happy Ever After

Secrets - the knife

Secrets - what a carry on

Secrets - there on the stairs
3 photos above from
SECRETS (1977)

INSIGHT (1978), with the
filmmaker's astounding
invention, the Murphycam

Sadie Shimmin
Sadie Shimmin in
INSIGHT (1978)

Almost A Movie

Last Night

Invitation To Hell - mystery?

Invitation To Hell - murder!
2 photos above from

Bloodstream - the office

Bloodstream - axed head

Bloodstream - wired gore
3 photos above from

Legend of a Hero
TRISTAN (1986), aka:
Legend Of A Hero

Death Run
DEATH RUN (1987)


Second Sight

Road To Nowhere

L-R: Magada Rodriguez
and Sally Bayly in Murphy's lost film, SKARE (2001)

Another of the director's inventions, the Murphyglide

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