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Showing posts from April, 2014

Interview with Jon Towlson, Author of Subversive Horror Cinema

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Horror cinema flourishes in times of ideological crisis and national trauma - the Great Depression, the Cold War, Thatcher-era Britain, the Vietnam War, Western society post-9/11; since the dawn of the silver screen, the genre has held a mirror up to society, throwing back a shocking reflection to provoke and perturb huddled masses in darkened rooms; who more often than not, may see nothing but the horror of reality itself staring back at them from the screen. Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films from Frankenstein to the Present, a fascinating, meticulously researched and compellingly written new book by Jon Towlson, argues that a succession of filmmakers working in horror - from James Whale to twisted twins Jen and Sylvia Soska - have used the genre, and the shock value it affords, to challenge the dominant ideologies of these times.

Jon recently took the time to have an in-depth chat with me about his new book, the subversive nature of horror cinema, and its …

Old Graveyard & Church Ruins Outside Clogherhead

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Last weekend my parents and I took a drive across the border into County Louth. We drove through the parish of Togher, which lies on the coast betwixt Dundalk and Drogheda, and ended up in the tiny fishing village of Clogherhead, which borders Togher. When driving back from Clogherhead we happened upon the ruins of an abandoned church along a small dirt road. This being Ireland, the countryside is laced with little winding lanes – some said to be haunted, naturally - and trails that date back to famine times, and many boast ruins of churches, abbeys and chapels. Despite trying to find out more information about the place online, research proved fruitless and I’ve been unable to ascertain the name of the church and the graveyard that surrounds it. As such, I’ve also been unable to find out if there are any interesting (i.e. spooky) stories connected to the history of the place, but I did uncover a couple of creepy stories regarding the nearby fishing village of Clogherhead.

Owing to t…

The Borderlands

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2013
Dir. Elliot Goldner

The Borderlands tells of a small team of Vatican-sanctioned investigators who are charged with proving/disproving an apparently paranormal presence in an isolated church in a remote part of Western England.

While the found-footage horror film has been much maligned of late, Goldner’s offering intelligently amalgamates rational scientific investigation with the hint that something otherworldly is stirring within an ancient church, proving that when it’s done right, this format still has the power to unsettle. The found footage angle is actually convincing given the basis of the plot; Vatican-sanctioned investigators needing to ensure their documentation of events is as stringently methodical as possible so they can prove/disprove events. It makes sense then that the church they're investigating and the cottage they're staying in are fitted with cameras, and each team member wears a head-cam.

Goldner incorporates elements of occult and folk horror into t…

When There's No More Room In Hell...

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...The Dead Will Deafen You!

Last night saw Belfast’s Waterfront Hall play host to a special screening of George A. Romero’s satirical zombie classic, Dawn of the Dead. The screening was part of the Belfast Film Festival and featured a live score performed by none other than Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin.

Dawn of the Dead tells of a group of people caught up in an ever-increasing pandemic of the dead returning to life and devouring the living. Seeking refuge in a shopping mall, they attempt to fortify the place while they await rescue. Events take a turn for the worse however, when their sanctuary is pillaged by malevolent humans and the group soon realise they have more to worry about then the marauding zombies outside…

Describing the experience of seeing Claudio Simonetti and his band perform the score for Dario Argento’s Suspiria live last year as 'sensory overload', doesn’t do it justice. Nothing can prepare you for the experience of hearing the band perform live, and their re…

The Tingler

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1959
Dir. William Castle

Esteemed pathologist Dr. Warren Chapin (Vincent Price!) discovers that the tingling sensation experienced in the human spine during states of extreme fear is caused by the growth of a creepy parasite that every human plays host to. During particularly lengthy moments of terror, the creature, which he dubs the "Tingler", can grow to such size and strength it can kill its host, and the only way to weaken the creature is by screaming. During the autopsy of a mute woman, whose death-by-fright came about because of her inability to scream, a Tingler escapes and wrecks havoc in a nearby cinema. Cue Dr. Warren urging the audience to scream for its life…

While The Tingler is essentially a camp B-horror, nestling amongst the trite dialogue and wooden acting are some interesting ideas which would later be explored in grisly detail in what would come to be known as the sub-genre of 'Body Horror.' Central to the plot is the notion that our bodies play h…