I’ve never really been interested in gestation periods. I like to think of birth as a new beginning. Nothing to do with what went on before. OK, so the old saw about Mother’s Day being 9 months after Father’s Day is reasonable funny if you have a low humour threshold but that only describes the mechanics leading up to the big day . Some species have to wait longer than others and have probably forgotten, if they ever knew, what kick-started the whole process. I can’t really believe that a lady elephant can remember a tumble in the jungle 645 days later. Whatever is said about an elephant’s feats of memory.
I should think she wanders around the savannah worrying about her waistline and sampling different vegetation in the hope of finding some miracle mixture which will reduce the size of her bum. Mice on the other hand have a whizz bang relationship which calumniates 20 days later with a splurge of multiple births. Mrs Mouse obviously remembers which quick-fire rodent she should avoid in the future if she wants to enjoy a relaxed middle-age. Slap in the middle is the gestation period of the Human. 266 days, give or take a mistaken date or two. There is a scientific formula which works our what length of time mum has to swell between doing the deed and holding the resulting offspring. Its all to do with weight, and size and the dimensions of the umbilical cord. log(Gest) 1.527 0.333 (log (Wt) if you like to work these things out for yourself.
I find all that very interesting. Especially as I have just discovered something with an even longer gestation period – Sea of Dust.
S.O.D was a film I made in New Jersey approximately 1060 days ago. It tells the story of the fabled Prester John, at one time thought to be the enlightened, and fabulously wealthy ruler of a wondrous country in the wilds of India. He was known for his wisdom and humanity and his mission to bring everyone into the realm of a long suffering and magnanimous God. Everyone wanted to meet him and anyone wanting lodgings for the night only had to turn up at a wealthy man’s portcullis with tales of his enduring friendship with Prester John to be given the best end of the fatted calf. As the news spread expeditions were financed to find the man and extract the gold and jewels he was reputed to strew around his magnificent palaces. Soon the story was embellished with the fact that the Prester was a direct descendant of one of the three Magi that were present at the birth of Jesus. There is a 33.3 percent chance that it was Melchior of Saba.
Further ‘credence’ was added to the story when it was discovered that Christ’s disciple, the now credulous Thomas, when he met Prester John in India, was in no doubt that he had a direct line to God. Later, when India became more open to western travellers and invaders, Prester John’s location was hurriedly transferred to Ethiopia and then Central Africa as those with a vested interest in keeping him out of reach, kept his exact location a peripatetic secret.
Whatever Prester John’s aspirations in the twelfth century, by the time he weathered the eight centuries in between then and now his curriculum had changed. In S.O.D he has decided that the only way that humanity is to be saved is by fear and pain. He reckons he has tried the softly-softly approach long enough. The script, written by producer and director Scott Bunt, had Prester John appearing in the 20th. century in the malevolent guise of Dusk ’til Dawn actor and make-up man, Tom Savini. He takes over the homestead of a local gent and starts a reign of torture and brutality which is considered a bit extreme even in these enlightened days.
My part as Anna is a little ambiguous. I’m the sort of chatelaine de la maison with matronly duties as well as being the ‘demonic disciple’ of Prester John. As I see everyone around me falling foul of the evil Prester I have a bit of a change of heart. Which doesn’t go down well with the Master. I get a good whipping to put me in my place. The whipping peels back my skin to reveal that I am a hollow woman. Something very symbolic there, I’m sure. Back on track in the pursuit of evil and just to show that being hollow doesn’t mean I have lost any of my venom, I stab the Doctor, played by Edward X Young, between the eyes. It was going to be done off camera and talked about. I manage to persuade the director, Scott Bunt, that I could do a better job on screen. And I think I was right.
I tell you all this because it seems that the long gestation of the film has now come to an end. I am told that it has been premiered in the US to rapturous applause. And I am told by Edward X, who was there, that my appearance as a mad old harridan was particularly well received. I must admit, blushingly, that I do mad, old, leprous, hollow harridans rather well.
The reason I am so vague about the story is, like the elephant and the birth of her little Jumbo, so long has past since my trip to the States that what it was all about has faded. I did see a short piece of film about a year or so ago when it was sent over for a bit of post-production dubbing in darkest Chiswick, London. I have to say it did look rather special. Torture, gore, whipping, stabbing, throat slitting, axe wielding, eye gouging, limb severing, bondage and pseudo religion. That was just the trailer. The film is dedicated to Hammer and Mario Brava and I think they should be very proud.
(I must remember to send a copy to Max Mosley, I’m sure he will enjoy it. More about Max on http://www.thosewerethedays.org.uk).
Ingrid Pitt writes every Tuesday at Den of Geek; you can read her last column here.