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Mayhem: Mike Hodges

October 2009

It is a tale of a fake medium, called Martha, who travels the US Bible Belt with her drunken father, conning people in to believing she can talk to the dead.
But then she begins to get messages from victims of murder from beyond the grave – before they've actually been killed.
She knows who the murderer is. But he knows that she knows...
Black Rainbow was a film written and directed by Mike Hodges, probably still best known for his work behind the camera on the iconic British thriller Get Carter.
But unlike that film, Black Rainbow, which starred Rosanna Arquette and Jason Robards, was a commercial flop.
"As with a lot of my films I've been unlucky with my distribution," says Hodges.
"In fact, Palace Pictures went down shortly after they'd released Black Rainbow. They'd already sold the video rights because they needed cash urgently and consequently it was only allowed to run in the cinema for a very brief time. In America, Miramax, who were also going under, sold it to a cable channel for the same reason.
"But it had some wonderful reviews and won lots of awards in foreign countries. It was very big in Japan I understand, so it has a life of its own."
The inspiration for writing the story was threefold, says Hodges.
"For years I bought the local papers as I travelled around these small towns in America and there were often stories of men being beaten up and sometimes killed for blowing the whistle on illegal practices in the factories where they worked. Added to that I was interested in the effect of the human species on the climate. And finally there was the location of a film I'd shot in North Carolina, which was very much in the Bible Belt. I put three of them together and came up with Black Rainbow."
He'd also begun to be interested in quantum theory, which added another dimension to the story.
Details aside, this meant Hodges believed (and still does) that predicting the future and time travel could be scientifically explained.

"Albert Einstein referred to Quantum Theory as "voodoo physics" but it really has blown apart our sense of reality. It's explaining certain phenomena, such as time travel, that previously we thought of as fantasy.
"So I was playing with ideas of that nature in Black Rainbow. At the beginning of the film, Martha's watch keeps playing up. Her time is in fact different to ours. Her time is ahead and a consequence of this explains why she is able to see into the future."
That said, Hodges is not convinced that today's psychics are quite what they seem.
"I think most mediums are fishing for information. I think a lot of it is fraudulent," he says.
Arquette wasn't the first choice to play his fake psychic in the film, admits Hodges.
"There were a couple of other actresses that I'd shown it to and I think they were rather frightened of it. Rosanna was very brave to take it on because it wasn't an easy role but I'm glad she did. She's terribly good in it."
Hodges has been a guest at Broadway before, appearing at the cinema's Shots In The Dark crime and thriller festival many years ago, with the release of Croupier.
"My first wife was from Nottingham. She's dead now and that was a long time ago but I've always liked the city."
So which is his favourite: Get Carter, Prayer For The Dying, Morons From Outer Space, Flash Gordon, Black Rainbow or Croupier?
"Each film is so different I can't really answer that."
Fair enough.
Will there be any more?
"I've got various projects that I hope will materialise before I kick the bucket," he laughs.

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