British film and television writer Christopher Wicking died of a heart attack at his home in Toulouse, France,
on October 13. He was 65.
Hired to write the scripts or "polish" such classic 1960s and '70s cult movies as The Oblong Box (1969),
Scream and Scream Again (1970), Cry of the Banshee (1970), Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971), Blood from the
Mummy's Tomb (1971), Demons of the Mind (1972) and To the Devil... a Daughter (1976), his other screen credits from
this period include Venom (1971) (aka The Legend of Spider Forest), Medusa (1973), Lady Chatterly's
Lover (1981), Absolute Beginners (1986) and Dream Demon (1988). However, such potentially interesting Hammer Film
projects as Nessie, Vampirella and Kali Devil Bride of Dracula went unrealized.
He also scripted three episodes of the TV series The Professionals (1979–1982), an episode of Jemima Shore
Investigates (1983), and an adaptation of the Jack Higgins novel On Dangerous Ground (1996) for Showtime Networks. With
Tise Vahimagi, Wicking co-wrote the groundbreaking 1978 study The American Vein—Directors
and Directions in Television.
In more recent years he divided his time between screenwriting/script consultancy and, via his Dublin-based
company Midnight Movies Ltd, developing various film and television projects. These included Powers,
a children's X Files for the BBC; The Judge's House, a pilot episode based on the short story by
Bram Stoker for the fantasy series Shiver; an adaptation of Peter Ackroyd's novel Hawksmoor; an
original horror screenplay entitled Needles, and a number of projects co-developed with Kim Newman.
The Oblong Box (1969)
Scream and Scream Again (1970)
Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971)
Cry of the Banshee (1970)
To the Devil... a Daughter (1976)
I first met Chris many years ago when Tise Vahimagi introduced us in a pub in London. Always an outwardly quiet
and unassuming man, even back then he seemed amusingly baffled that anybody would know or even care as much
about his career as I did.
After awhile, as these things happen, we lost touch. Eventually, I was re-introduced to him at one of Kim's
annual summer parties and we rekindled our friendship. I think he was splitting his time between North London
and Ireland then, and we would occasionally meet up in pubs, at lunches, or at Kim's flat when he was in town.
If you dug deep, Chris was full of fascinating and often hilarious stories about working for Hammer Films and,
especially, American International's UK arm, in the late 1960s and '70s. Whenever we would meet, I would regularly
try to tease another reluctant anecdote out of him, and I think he thought I was simply barking mad when I asked
him over lunch one day to sign some movie stills and lobby cards from various titles he had worked on.
Blood from the Mummy's Tomb (1971)
Demons of the Mind (1972)
Kali Devil Bride of Dracula
Kim and I managed to get him to talk a little about his career in the wonderful piece on
Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward he contributed to our volume Horror: Another 100 Best
Books, and in recent years the three of us were lucky enough to be part of Constantine Nasr's
British "repertory company" of talking heads for the "extras" on various DVD boxed sets in America. Recorded
in Kim's living room, we would often end up interviewing each other on these occasions, and it was my privilege
and pleasure to question Chris about his work and opinions on at least one of these documentaries.
Whenever I saw him, I would invariably end up trying to convince him to write a memoir about his experiences
in the British film and television industry. He would usually listen to me carefully, nod his head sagely, and
then give me a pitying look, as if to say, "Who on earth would be interested?"
Chris was an immensely intelligent and talented writer and, despite his reticence when talking about his own
work, he had a sharp and dry sense of humor that those of us who knew him appreciated.
His death from a heart attack was grossly premature and came as a great shock. I will miss his company. I will
miss his erudition. I will miss his conversation. But most of all, I will miss his friendship.
A memorial will be held for him in Central London on January 10, 2009.
October 27, 2008
Copyright © Stephen Jones 2008. All rights reserved.