Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire (1985)
This is a British-made film that I saw on London Live late one night, and I simply thought “huh?”, there really isn’t anything else like this one, and I was intrigued. This is a film that can be put into a unique genre, as it is a snooker horror musical. In the mid-80s, when this was released, snooker was arguably at the peak of its popularity, so it looked like it could be possible for there to be a market for this rather unusual idea.
Billy (Phil Daniels) is the teenage up-and-coming star who is being tipped as the next world champion, and he can knock in those 147s with ease. And well, it is rather clear that he is based to an extent on Jimmy White. Maxwell (Alun Armstrong) is the veteran multi-times world champion, who likes to sleep in a coffin, and he doesn’t intend anybody to defeat him any time soon. And he is just about based on Ray Reardon.
Soon, a bitter rivalry has formed between them. It has been determined that Billy is good enough to take the challenge, they should play each other in the ultimate grudge match, and whoever loses will not play professional snooker again. So there is clearly a lot at stake, this will be more tense than any match at The Crucible. He could clearly earn himself a few quid if he plays his, er, shots right.
They will have to settle this in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd, who randomly burst into song to support their side. Big Break was never like this. In the 107th frame (or thereabouts), Billy is about to pot the final black and win the match, when Maxwell decides to bite his head off, and gets disqualified for ungentlemanly conduct. No, that’s not right, but it was no weirder than what actually happened.
Billy The Kid And The Green Baize Vampire was shown on Channel 4 in the 80s, before eventually turning up on London Live. This has been released on DVD by Network. The extras are an image gallery, along with a 16-page booklet that has an attempt at trying to work out exactly what message was trying to be offered by this film. I suppose that doing a stage musical version of this was a missed opportunity. I’ve never looked at New Tricks in the same way again.