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Showing posts from 2011

Audiodrome#3: Fantastic Planet

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Head over to Paracinema.net to check out the latest instalment of Audiodrome: Music in Film. This month I look at/listen to Alain Goraguer's prog-tastic score for Fantastic Planet; a visually stunning and psychedelic French-language animated feature directed by René Laloux. Combining elements of funk, jazz and prog-rock, Goraguer's music provides a suitably trippy mood for one of the most unique and provocative films you'll ever see.

Why not pick up the latest issue of Paracinema while you’re there? Amongst its lurid delights are articles such as Panic in Detroit: RoboCop and Reagan’s America by Andreas Stoehr; Blood on the Rubber Chicken: Horror Parodies of the Early ’80s by Mike White; and Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures from Hell by Todd Garbarini. All great stuff, written by hardcore fans of genre films for hardcore fans of genre films.

The Case of the Monstrous Art

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I recently conducted an interview with self-taught artist Ryan Case for Fangoria. Case's striking paintings of the enduring icons of fright cinema have gained him comparisons with the likes of Basil Gogos, an artist renowned for capturing the underlying melancholy of the classic Universal Monsters. Head over to Fangoria.com to check it out.

Issue 14 of Paracinema Available to Pre-Order

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Issue 14 of Paracinema is now available to pre-order! Hard to believe that the magazine has been going for 14 issues. It has been independently published since 2007 and, as clichéd as it might sound, has got better with every issue. It’s also recently widened its net and is available in various independent retailers right across the length and breadth of the States. Cool stuff, eh?

Issue 14 contains a number of exciting features on various genre classics and obscure gems. Articles include Panic in Detroit: RoboCop and Reagan's America by Andreas Stoehr; Blood on the Rubber Chicken: Horror Parodies of the Early ’80s by Mike White; Christ Stopped at San Miguel: Italy’s Economic Miracle and A Fistful of Dollars by Jef Burnham; Catching the Bus: Jump Scares in the Horror Film by C. Rachel Katz; Slavery in 70's Cinema: Mandingo and Drum by Paul Talbot; and (personally speaking, the one I’m most looking forward to checking out), a comprehensive overview of the career of Riccardo Fr…

Ladies Month at The Death Rattle: Top 10 Final Girls #3-1

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This week Aaron Duenas and I have been counting down our top ten favourite heroines in horror over at his fine blog, The Death Rattle. There have been a few surprises along the way as we both felt it wouldn’t be that interesting to just peddle out another masturbatory treatise on the likes of Nancy, Laurie, Alice and Ripley, and why they’re so wonderful. As much as we love those particular Final Girls, and recognise the influence they have over the ones we did decide on, it’s not really very original – we know why they’re wonderful. But hey, maybe you won’t think our choices are that original either – you won’t know until you check ‘em out. So what are you waiting for? Head over to The Death Rattle and see for yourself. And let us know what you think! Be brutal. We like that.

Red Hoods, Dark Woods Part IV: Happily Ever After

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With Hardwicke trailblazing modernised fairytales for teen horror audiences, it is safe to assume that more will soon follow suit – think of what Twilight did for romanticising vampires and making them appealing to maudlin teenagers. Love it or loathe it, its influence on popular culture is undeniable. Fans of Twilight no doubt flocked to Hardwicke’s latest offering.
A number of Hollywood horror-tinged adaptations of fairytales are actually already in the works. Amongst them is the Julia Roberts starring Mirror Mirror, with Roberts tipped to play the Evil Queen. Directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell), the film is a dark twist on the classic fairytale, in which Snow White and the seven dwarfs look to reclaim their destroyed kingdom. Another film that refigures the tale of Snow White, only as a chase movie, is Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Kristen Stewart as Snow White, and Chris Hemsworth as the huntsman sent to kill her and bring her heart back to the Evil Queen (Charlize Theron…

Red Hoods, Dark Woods Part III: The Beast Within…

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With this central image of a young girl being stalked and menaced through dark and foreboding forests by a snarling, sly and slathering beast, Little Red Riding Hood has also always had its roots firmly planted in horror. It shares its conservative morality with many fairytales that warn of what happens to young women who ‘stray from the path’ and indulge their ‘primal instincts’. It is essentially a dark tale about sexual awakening. The forest, a place used time and again in literature and cinema to represent a place of hidden danger, primal fear and dark threat serves as the suitable backdrop; a place that is as far removed from civilisation as possible.

What further embeds the tale in horror is the fact that the Big Bad Wolf can be seen as a werewolf – another handy metaphor for physical and emotional transformation. Werewolves - humans who are condemned to spend their lives transforming into bloodthirsty beasts when the moon is full - are a common theme in mythology and folklore…

Happy 'Bloody' Birthday, Behind the Couch

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Behind the Couch turns 3 years old today!

Thanks so much to everyone who has swung by over the last year. There were quite a few great films watched and reviewed, the usual plethora of bad films, and of course, absolutely fucking ridiculous films. Natch. This year I also rejoiced (sort of) at the return of John Carpenter to our screens, pondered the sickening excesses of the films of Lucio Fulci and celebrated the centenary of none other than the patron saint of Behind the Couch, Mr Vincent Price. Huzzah! There was also a Halloween movie marathon and the usual contemplation of all things gialli and trashy. Fun times.

Away from the blog, I’ve continued to contribute to the likes of the really rather awesome Paracinema- including a new monthly feature on their website looking at music in cult cinema – and the brand-spanking new indie publication Exquisite Terror.

Also! Earlier this year an excerpt from an article I wrote about Sergio Martino was used as the title of an all-new 20 min…

Red Hoods, Dark Woods Part II: Once Upon A Time…

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Throughout the years many filmmakers have adapted various versions of Little Red Riding Hood for cinema, most to investigate or exploit its coming of age subtext. In the early Eighties Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan collaborated with English writer and novelist Angela Carter on an adaptation of her book 'The Bloody Chamber.' 'The Bloody Chamber' is a collection of fairytales, including Little Red Riding Hood, which Carter had reworked, reinterpreted and filtered through a 20th Century feminist viewpoint to give them a fresh and provocative perspective. Their resulting collaboration was 1984’s strikingly beautiful and dreamlike The Company of Wolves, a film that unfurls as the fever-dream of a young girl experiencing menstruation for the first time. Boasting a narrative of stories within stories and dreams within dreams, The Company of Wolves retains its power even now, and in terms of stylisation and mood, even manages to ‘out-Burton’ Tim Burton, with its rich and intoxi…

Ladies Month at The Death Rattle: Top 10 Final Girls #7-4

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A pregnant college girl; a grieving widow; a murderously obsessive best friend; a nervous wreck and a spoilt daddy’s girl. Any of these sound like your typical horror heroine or Final Girl?

Head over to The Death Rattle to check out the latest instalment of mine and Aaron's favourite women in horror.

Ladies Month at The Death Rattle:Top 10 Final Girls #8-10

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When Aaron Duenas of The Death Rattle infamy asked me to choose a few favourite Horror Heroines for his Ladies in Horror month, I was hardly going to say no, was I? 

As much as I love Laurie, Alice, and Nancy et al though, I thought it might be more interesting to take a look at a few other ‘horror heroines’ who perhaps broaden, bend or even negate the concept of what it is to be a Final Girl.

The plucky women I’ve chosen might not necessarily fit the rigid and conventional definition of ‘Final Girl’, but they still represent the strong spirit she is renowned for. Of course, many of the women Aaron and I have listed obviously owe a huge debt to Laurie, Alice, Nancy and co – whose essences pervade this month over at The Death Rattle - which is where you should head now to check out the first of our Top Ten.

Red Hoods, Dark Woods Part I

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With Snow White and the Huntsman galloping onto screens in the wake of, and from the same gothic fairytale stable as Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood, and Tarsem Singh’s Mirror Mirror to follow soon after, it looks like fairytale adaptations are ‘trending’ at the moment. They’re certainly not a new thing; fairytales have often provided the basis of films throughout cinema history – either directly or loosely. I thought it might be interesting throughout the course of December to have a look at one of the most recognisable and enduring of these tales – Little Red Riding Hood.

The tale of Little Red Riding Hood is centuries old. Most people will be familiar with it thanks to growing up with the likes of the slightly diluted version by the Brothers Grimm, in which a young girl and her grandmother are rescued from the belly of a ravenous wolf by a chivalrous woodsman. Earlier versions of the tale were much darker, and bleaker. The earliest recorded written version of the tale dates…

Abney Park Cemetery

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On a recent trip to London to visit friends I also took the opportunity to visit Abney Park Cemetery in Stoke Newington, in the London borough of Hackney. It is one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries and a peaceful Saturday afternoon was spent exploring the place. It’s no secret I love cemeteries (the older the better) and wouldn’t think twice about spending an afternoon wandering around one and taking photos.

In 1840 Abney Park became a non-denominational garden cemetery and semi-public park arboretum, and today it is used by local residents who walk, jog, picnic, hang out and drink there.

Amongst the dark delights I discovered were an abandoned gothic chapel in the middle of the grounds and various catacombs amongst the overgrown and hauntingly beautiful walkways; themselves flanked by landscaped woodlands. Everything is wildly overgrown and atmospheric.

Amongst the dead interned in Abney Park are William and Catherine Booth, founders of The Salvation Army. Here are (but…

Audiodrome#2: Eraserhead

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Head over to Paracinema's online lair to check out my article on the soundtrack of David Lynch's “dream of dark and troubling things”, Eraserhead; a surreal and nightmarish meditation on the horror of parenthood.

"You're in very bad trouble if you won't cooperate..."

Why not pick up the latest issue of Paracinema while you’re there? Amongst its lurid delights are articles such as 'Blood Is Thicker Than Fear: Maternal Madness in Horror Cinema'; 'Dreams That You Could Never Guess: Bela Lugosi on Poverty Row, 1940-42' and 'Censoring the Centipede: How the BBFC are Sewing Our Eyes Shut.' All great stuff, written by hardcore fans of genre films for hardcore fans of genre films.

The Woman

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2011
Dir. Lucky McKee

Social satire or horror movie? Misogynistic or an attack on misogyny? Feminist tract or manipulative glorification of violence? These are the kinds of questions that The Woman has raised with audiences and critics. Whether the film is viewed as a powerful portrait of misogyny, a thinking man’s torture-porn flick or simply a brutal and nasty gore-fest - The Woman proves to be an uncompromising and memorable ordeal. More a film to be endured than enjoyed, it has left audiences divided, devastated and immersed in deep debate. Frenzied viewers were left shocked, dazed, horrified, angry and outraged in its wake as it blazed through festival screenings and cinemas. Interestingly, apathy wasn’t something experienced by most viewers – The Woman demands that you have a strong opinion one way or the other. Of course, the danger with having such a fearsome and provocative reputation so adamantly preceding it is that it will fail to live up to the hype.

Does it? Well, it …

Kaboom

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2010
Dir. Gregg Araki

Director Gregg Araki has never been one to shy away from controversial subject matter. His work usually explores the dark side of teenage life, where bad things happen ‘unexpectedly' and the lines between life and death, reality and nightmare are increasingly blurred. As a director he lingers somewhere between amateur and auteur. His 2005 film Mysterious Skin looked at sexual abuse and its aftermath through the eyes of two teenage boys – one of whom is convinced he is the victim of alien abduction. The Doom Generation was a gloomy, ultra-violent and nihilistic 'Generation X' for the soulless Nineties. His work usually features various depictions of the apocalypse as an almost mundane, matter of fact event and drugged-out characters wander through hyper-retro candy-coloured sets and broodingly dark cityscapes.

His latest film, Kaboom is a fantastical, mind-altering, sex-charged romp through the fickle world of college life that gradually morphs into …

Maniac Cop

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1988
Dir. William Lustig

Innocent New Yorkers are being brutally murdered by a uniformed police officer. As the death toll mounts, officer Jack Forrest finds himself accused of the slaughter. With few friends, powerful enemies and a psychopathic slayer still at large, Jack teams up with hardboiled Detective Frank McCrae and blonde-bombshell rookie Theresa, to prove he’s not guilty and bring down the killer.

You have the right to remain silent… Forever!

Boasting a cult-tastic cast of 80’s exploitation veterans including Tom Atkins, Richard Roundtree, Bruce Campbell and Laurene Landon, Maniac Cop has so much going for it. The script, by Larry Cohen, coupled with William Lustig’s bruising direction, ensures the film unravels as an entertaining and riveting suspenser. Cohen has made a career out of subverting normal, everyday things into objects of terror: babies (It’s Alive), ice-cream (The Stuff), paramedics (The Ambulance), and public phone boxes (Phone Booth). Maniac Cop subverts th…