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Showing posts from 2015

Reading Ghost Stories at Christmas...

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'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house 
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse... 

I recently stumbled upon this beautifully old-fashioned advice* on the proper way to consume ghost stories at Christmas:

"If during the Yule-tide you wish thoroughly to enter into the spirit of the season, procure a good tumblerful of creature-comfort, steaming, with a trifle of powdered nutmeg in it, some thin lemon peel, and a grain of sugar, place it on a small stand beside your old arm-chair, in which you will have comfortably deposited yourself, and well gently inhaling the Virginian fumes in the presence of a cheerful Yule-log fire commence reading the 'Ghost Stories of an Antiquary', by M.R. James… On rising to retire to bed, say, when the clock is striking the hour of midnight, you will be heartily glad of a brave companion, who will assist you in ascertaining that all bolts and bars are scrupulously fastened, that all doors are locked, that there are…

Behind the Couch Turns 7 Years Old!

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Behind the Couch turned seven years old this month.

Celebrations have been somewhat sedate though, as it’s been a pretty quiet year in terms of blogging. That said, looking back over the last twelve months, it looks like I enjoyed some damn fine slasher films and rejoiced in some new titles which were lauded as ‘future classics’.

Away from blogging, I reviewed DVDs aplenty for Exquisite Terror and was lucky enough to interview a couple of fantastic film composers for Paracinema: I chatted to Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpiece) and Jonathan Snipes about their scores for It Follows and Starry Eyes, respectively. I also contributed essays to the likes of Eurohorror fanzine Fang of Joy and was nominated for a Rondo Hatton Award in the Best Article category. The article, 'Family Man' (a look at Tobe Hooper’s meaty representations of the family unit in all its deadly, dysfunctional and dynamic forms), was published in issue 20 of Diabolique Magazine in March/April, 2014. 

Things will…

Women in Horror Annual

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As a literary genre, horror was primarily written for and read by women. As a cinematic genre, horror has always drawn a large female audience. And yet, in popular media and culture, horror is often branded 'male'. The Women in Horror Annual is an anthology of horror fiction and non-fiction authored by female writers. While there are of course plenty of horror anthologies out there, none are exclusively authored by female writers, meaning this annual is a first-of-its-kind. The goal of its editors - Christine Makepeace (author and former editor of Paracinema Magazine) and Rachel Katz (former contributing writer for Paracinema Magazine) - is to celebrate female voices, opinions and scholarship, and to provide a showcase of women’s contribution to horror literature, culture, and entertainment. 

The works have been submitted, selected and edited. The next step is publication, and that's where you come in. With your assistance, the WHA will be made available in electronic an…

Interview with Lawrie Brewster

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Filmmaker Lawrie Brewster once claimed he was “committed to making serious, alternative horror films that aim to tell genuine, emotionally-driven stories with intriguing characters set against backgrounds filled with mysterious lore and mythology.” With his feature debut, Lord of Tears, he lived up to this promise, co-creating, with writer Sarah Daly, one of the most atmospheric, strangely moving and unsettling filmic ghost stories in quite some time. His latest film, The Unkindness of Ravens - which tells of an army veteran besieged by a legion of demonic ravens in the highlands of Scotland - looks set to further establish him as a creator of unique and striking horror cinema…

You’ve just completed filming The Unkindness of Ravens. When will it be released? 

Using Kickstarter, we're hoping to get some finishing funds to complete the soundtrack for the film, produce DVDs and launch a marketing and distribution campaign. All going well, the film should be complete and ready for rel…

The Unkindness of Ravens

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With Lord of Tears, director Lawrie Brewster and writer Sarah Daly created a truly haunting piece of work; one that marked them as a creative team to keep an eye out for. With its striking imagery, spooky Gaelic-Gothic atmosphere, intriguing folklore and creepy-as-hell antagonist, it was a rich and full-blooded ghost story, perfect viewing for these dark winter nights. For those who have seen, admired and been quietly unsettled by Lord of Tears, there is good news: Brewster and Daly have just finished work on their follow up film, The Unkindness of Ravens.


Shot on location in Fife and Perthshire, Scotland, the film seeks to explore the effect of the horrors of war on the human mind through the media of beautiful poetry and brutal violence. It tells of Andrew Alburn (Jamie Scott-Gordon), a homeless veteran suffering from PTSD. Plagued by flashbacks of the traumatic events he witnessed while serving in the armed forces, he is persuaded to venture out to a retreat in the remote Scottish…

In Conversation with Alan Howarth

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Perhaps best known for his collaborations with filmmaker John Carpenter, sound designer and composer Alan Howarth has contributed to some of the biggest genre films of the ’80s. His work with Carpenter on films such as Escape from New York, They Live and Prince of Darkness, resulted in some of genre cinema’s most striking and atmospheric scores. An award-winning sound designer, Howarth has also provided effects for the likes of Poltergeist, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and many of the Star Trek films.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my interview with Mr. Howarth.

Readers in and around London might be interested to know that Alan is performing live at Union Chapel on 31st October. Go here for more information.

Night of the Living Deb

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2015
Dir. Kyle Rankin

If there’s one subgenre of horror that has surely reached saturation point, it’s the zombie film. Yet time and again, it proves to be a robust and continually relevant aspect of horror cinema, with its ability to speak of various social and political issues and its knack for cross-pollination with other genres.

Following on from the likes of Warm Bodies (2013), Boy Eats Girl (2005) and Shaun of the Dead (2004), Night of the Living Deb is the latest amalgamation of typical zombie movie conventions with those of the romantic comedy. A zom-rom-com, if you will. While it doesn’t really offer viewers anything they haven’t seen before it still endears with its misfit characters, witty script and quirky sense of humour. 

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Some Kind of Hate

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2015
Dir. Adam Egypt Mortimer

Part ghost story, part slasher film, Some Kind of Hate is an interesting if at times slightly formulaic tale of revenge. However, with its bleak karmic mantra and themes concerning the unique pain of adolescence, the devastating impact of bullying, self-harm and revenge, it’s a frequently intense viewing experience.

Mercilessly tormented by bullies, troubled high-school loner Lincoln (Ronen Rubinstein) eventually snaps and violently retaliates. He’s packed off to a desert commune for young misfits, only to again suffer at the hands of bullies. His rage summons an undead avenger, herself the victim of bullying, who begins to wreak bloody havoc on his behalf...

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Fang of Joy #3

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Fang of Joy is an independently published zine that focuses on European horror and gialli. The brainchild of the insanely prolific Richard Schmidt (Hello, This is the Doomed Show; Cinema Somnambulist; Doomed Moviethon), it’s a labour of love that should appeal to admirers of European horror cinema. From Argento, Bava, Naschy and Ossorio, all the way to Laugier, Bustillo et Maury and Wheately; if you like your horror with a European flavour, this is a zine for you. 

Issue 3 contains articles, reviews and features on the likes of The Bird with the Crystal Plumage, Beyond the Darkness, The Black Belly of the Tarantula and The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism. There’s also an interview with Giovanni Lombardo Radice (Stage Fright, City of the Living Dead), an introductory guide to the films of Jess Franco, my own humble contribution - an essay on Irish horror cinema - and much, much more.

Pick up a copy here.

Also, if you’re the sort of person who just can’t get enough of Italian gialli (und…

Exquisite Terror Sale

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Born from a love of horror, ponderous thoughts and meandering topics, Exquisite Terror is a periodical that takes a more academic approach to the genre, featuring exclusive art, script analysis and in-depth essays. We're having a sale at the moment, so if you'd like to pick up a copy, while stocks last, head here to do so. See below for further details on each issue...

STARBURST “Fascinating and informative”

BRUTAL AS HELL “Intelligent and enlightening”

STRANGE THINGS ARE HAPPENING “One of the best horror zines out there”

SEX GORE MUTANTS “Highly recommended”





Waking Nightmares: The Visions of Wes Craven

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Throughout his career, Wes Craven created some of the most arresting, disturbing and genuinely haunting moments in horror cinema. That they were contained in some of the genre's most provocative and striking titles, is testament to his power as a filmmaker and a weaver of unsettling dreams... Very unsettling dreams.