In these times of genuine horror, the horror genre has never been more relevant. And for those of us who take comfort in the darkness, the horror community is one of the most welcoming. It’s all about the outsiders, not the elite, and the only qualification for entry is a genuine love of horror, no matter what kind.
I’ve been a horror obsessive since childhood, when I realised the world was more Stephen King than Steven Spielberg, and it’s informed almost every aspect of my life.
For the last two decades I’ve worked as a writer for the likes of Total Film, SFX and the Radio Times, and I think people would be surprised how many film critics love horror most of all. Why? Because, at its best, it represents a very pure form of cinema. After all, for a horror film to work, it doesn’t require witty dialogue, nuanced performances or big-budget effects, all it needs to do is scare you.
When it comes to books about horror films, however, there’s often a double standard. There’s the films we love, and the films we admire, and the books tend to focus on the latter, putting box office and historical significance over the only metric that really matters: are they scary?
Over the last five years, I’ve been lucky enough to write three books about the movies. Based around the illustrations of Andy Tuohy, A-Z Great Film Directors examined the men and women who made the classics. Featuring interviews with the likes of Irvine Welsh, Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, Britpop Cinema: From Trainspotting to This Is England looked at the UK film industry boom of the 1990s/2000s. But closest to my heart is my latest, The Book of Horror: The Anatomy of Fear in Film, an attempt to find the scariest movies ever made and examine exactly how they work.
With beautiful black-and-white illustrations by Barney Bodoano, plus infographics and recommendations for further viewing – some I hadn’t even heard of until I started digging really deep – it’s the culmination of decades of searching, watching and scaring myself silly.
My conclusion? Whether slasher or ghost story, J-horror or New French Extremity, frightening films have more in common with each other than not – just like the rest of us. I can’t wait to see what you think.
This weeks horror news round up comes from Grace at Film Overload!
Netflix Halloween line up revealed
Many horror fans will be counting down the days until Halloween and what better to accompany these crisp Autumn nights then a spooky selection of great horror films coming to Netflix this October. Some genre familiars such as The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013) and Paranormal Activity 4 (Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost, 2012) will be greeting our screens at the beginning of October.
Alongside this we’ll be introduced to a handful of new films such as the chilling Norweigan flick Cadaver (Jarand Herdal, 2020) which follows a family attending a nuclear aftermath charity event that soon takes a dark turn. Also we have His House (Remi Weekes, 2020) where we are introduced to a refugee couple escaping South Sudan, only to discover the quaint English village they stop in has an evil presence lying beneath them. Netflix are sure to release a more detailed list brimming with Halloween favourites so be sure to keep checking our weekly news round-up for further information.
Team behind The Ritual gets the green light for the book adaption of No One Gets Out Alive
2017’s The Ritual (David Bruckner) soon cemented its place as a modern British folk horror dealing with traditional folklore and mythology. The film came from the brilliant horror author Adam Nevill’s original novel, so it’s no surprise his other hit book No One Gets Out Alive (2014) is being adapted by Netflix.
The novel has a haunting story following a young woman who is strapped for cash reluctantly moving into a cheap flat, however the seemingly harmless strange occurrences soon rapidly manifest into something much more sinister. If The Ritual is anything to go by, No One Gets Out Alive will be a hit success.
Trailer for Bloody Hell is released, promising audiences a dark ride into Hell
The old saying of “it could be worse” certainly comes to life in Alister Grierson’s latest contribution to the genre. In what appears to be a hellish life, Rex (Ben O’Toole) is desperate to escape to some sort of normality, however his planned trip to the seemingly peaceful Helsinki lands him in the home of a psychotic family hellbent on making his life a nightmare. Not much has been released about the film just yet, but from the looks of the fast paced trailer the audience are in for a gruesomely fun ride.
The Walking Dead announces its final series, however a fan favourite spin-off is announced
The Walking Dead has been on our screens for ten years now, with it seeming to be one of the most infamous horror tv shows. With this being said the official Walking Dead Twitter account announced that the 11th season concluding in 2022 with a total of 24 episodes will be its last ever season. The last stretch of episodes are set to be an epic showdown where the longstanding Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) fate is finally revealed.
However for upset fans the news of the series coming to an end is not all bad news, with series favorites Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) set to get their own spin-off show. News has been kept under wraps regarding whether the show will feature an insight into their lives prior to the ‘walkers’ or if it continues with their journey after the series. But at least fans will be able to see Daryl Dixon rocking his famous crossbow once again.
Mike Flangan’s proposed plans for adapting Stephen King’s The Dark Tower
Horror adaptations are not easy projects to tackle, with Stephen King’s original series The Dark Tower seeming to prove the point. This book had a decent stab taken at it in 2017 with Nikolaj Arcel attempting to bring a complicated story to the big screen. Despite the star-studded cast including Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey, the film suffered from a lacklustre critical consensus.
The ever innovative Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Doctor Sleep, Hush) has reported at Fantasia International Film Festival that he would be up for adapting King’s novel. And it seems that Flanagan could be the person for the job, with two King adaptations behind his belt already. Both Gerald’s Game (2017) and The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep (2019) earned both an almighty box office and critical success. For horror fans this news rings a possible third collaboration between King and Flanagan.
Paranormal Activity franchise plans to add a seventh film to the series
Whether you love it or hate it, Paranormal Activity’s sheer success and marketing of the films has been seriously impressive; in fact, the first film earned its place as one of the highest profiting films of all time as it earned back its budget over 30 times.
2015 saw the supposed end of the series with Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (Gregory Plotkin), however Blumhouse Productions and Paramount Pictures confirmed the found footage ghost films will continue as a seventh entry has been confirmed, with an expected release date for 2022. What’s even more exciting is the fact that previous Paranormal Activity alumni Christopher Landon is putting in his contribution into the film.
The Strangers director Bryan Bertino comes back with a bang with The Dark and The Wicked
Bryan Bertino shocked audiences with his 2008 home invasion horror The Strangers. This time he is back with another chilling film that plays out as a daunting slow-burner. The Dark and The Wicked stars Marin Ireland (The Umbrella Academy) and Michael Abbot Jr. as two siblings who travel to a rural town to be with their dying father.
Evil elements soon start to take over, leaving them in a waking nightmare. The rural setting combined with a slow pace provides a harrowing aesthetic quality similar to that of Bertino’s previous works. The film certainly builds up an atmospheric dread that will stay with audiences long after watching.
Mass Hysteria brings an equal measure of comedy and horror this October
Horror comedies can sometimes miss the mark, with films not balancing the two juxtaposed sub-genres. However, Mass Hysteria (Arielle Cimino and Jeff Ryan) seems to juggle both with ease. The film follows a group of Salem Witch Trial reenactors being hunted down by an angry mob to avenge the death of a tourist on All Hallow’s Eve. The film will be released via VOD and has an expected release date for the beginning of October.
Syfy’s new Chucky series has its production delayed
Due to the current times we live in many release dates and scheduled productions have been slightly pushed back. One of these being the highly anticipated series based on one of horror’s favourite dolls, Chucky. The series was set to air on Syfy, with the first episode premiering this Autumn, however this has now been moved to 2021.
The series will bring back the roots of Chucky as not only will Brad Dourif (the original Child’s Play voiceover) be voicing the role, but Jennifer Tilly will also be joining the line-up. What’s even more exciting is that fans of the franchise will be potentially offered a true origin story of how Chucky came to be the evil creature he truly is.
Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead set to release a surrounding prequel and anime series
Snyder is no stranger to zombie films, with him tackling George A. Romero’s Dead-series in 2004 with the remake of Dawn of the Dead. So who better to further the zombie legacy than Snyder. His latest film Army of the Dead acts as a rough sequel to its predecessor and follows a troop of mercenaries as they orchestrate a heist on a casino during a zombie apocalypse.
Even though the film hasn’t been released yet, the green light has been given for a prequel and an anime series. Little has been released about the prequel and series, but we do know that Army of the Dead’s lead character Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) will reprise his role in the anime series.
Body-swap meets horror in Vince Vaughn and Kathryn Newton’s new film ‘Freaky’
Christopher Landon gives us a highly entertaining horror with Freaky. The film follows the 17-year old wallflower Millie who ends up trapped in a maniacal serial killer’s body. To make matters worse she only has 24 hours to get herself back before the swap becomes permanent. The trailer promises a highly charged film, equipped with plenty of comic relief for those gnarly kill scenes.
Vince Vaughn plays the Blissfield Butcher who has been stalking the local town and brutally killing his victims. Vaughn seems to fit the role of a butch killer, but with a teenage girls personality, making it one of his most interesting roles yet. One particularly entertaining scene involves him convincing Millie’s friends that he is in fact her via re-enacting their school’s cheerleading dance motto.
Despite the amusing antics the film ensures a great deal of carnage, with the Butcher’s dusty layer adorning dead mutilated animals hanging by string. Alongside this the trailer gives a brief glimpse into his gratuitously violent murders. Landon seems to be somewhat of a genre reviver; his previous success Happy Death Day (2017) dealt with a Groundhog Day time loop continuation and now Freaky experiments with a Freaky Friday-esque body-swap film.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
Dead Northernpresents Harrogate’s only horror and fantasy film festival coming this Halloween.
Following the great success of last years event taking place in the atmospheric West Park Church, the team at Dead Northern are putting on a social-distanced horror and fantasy film festival in the haunted Victorian ball room of the Crown Hotel this Halloween.
The week long event will kick off with a series of mini fringe events at various venues throughout the town in the build up to the horror film festival.
Highlights include Harrogate’s only ghost walk which is exclusive to the festival, a rare opportunity to view a selection of independent short and feature films as chosen by the Dead Northern film committee, plus classic horror film showings such as The Poltergeist all in the haunted Crown hotel.
A Halloween celebration not to be missed on Saturday night: celebrate From Dusk till Dawn in true vampire biker style at a themed evening at the Old Empire Theatre (now Cardamom Black restaurant), including a live film showing of the Tarantino cult classic From Dusk till Dawn with dinner and live entertainment.
The entire film festival will be compliant with the government guidelines surrounding COVID-19 and pre booking is essential.
Tickets will be available to purchase very soon.
We are offering priority booking to our mailing list subscribers, so make sure you are signed up to be amongst the first to get your hands on tickets.
This weeks horror news round up comes from Grace at Film Overload!
Overview: Arrow Video’s Frightfest 2020
This year’s Frightfest reigns different to the past, with it taking place virtually. The online festival line-up included 25 films (seven world premieres and 16 UK premieres). As usual the menu of films included a selection of soon to be top hits such as Ivo van Art’s well received The Columnist and The Swerve (Dean Kapsalis, 2018).
The collection of films was entirely varied with stories from Canada, Australia, UK, Netherlands and Brazil, allowing for a broad range of films to emerge, particularly the hilarious hidden gem of the season Two Heads Creek (Jesse O’Brien, 2019). Frightfest’s usual energetic brigade of guest appearances, Q&A’s and film showcases were not left out, despite the fact that the event was held online; in fact the comfort of watching from home was not overlooked.
New uncut trailer for Cronenberg’s Possessor lands
Possessor is a sci-fi horror film directed by Brandon Cronenberg, if the surname sounds familiar it’s because the infamous David Cronenberg is Brandon’s father and his influence is not ignored, with intense body horror and brutality exhibited throughout. Possessor follows a secret agent who inhabits other people’s bodies via brain-implantation to perform assassinations for her clients.
The film explores loss of identity and control over one’s own actions. The set up has been praised due to its originality and stand out performances by the impressive cast including Andrea Riseborough (“Mandy”) and Christopher Abbot (“Piercing”). The trailer definitely highlights the startling enigmatic atmosphere Cronenberg has established, with a background of stylishly choreographed violence and gore all lit with a sense of dystopian reality.
The New Mutants fails to live up to long awaited expectations
Josh Boone’sThe New Mutants has not been dealt an easy hand, with a repetitive delayed schedule constantly pushing its release date back. This may have edged up the hype surrounding the film for a while, but the anticipated release has been considered a let down by many. The reviews are not all negative, yet many audiences feel the horror potential it had was overshadowed by its origins within the X-Men franchise.
The New Mutants was marketed as a horror take on the saturated supervillain genre (similar to last year’s Brightburn), however the scare tactics have little hold over the exaggerated action sequences and overt Marvel cliches that have grown tiresome.
The reaction is not entirely surprising as one of the reasons for the delay was due to the studio (20th Century Fox) requiring the film to be almost completely reshot after such negative responses. Unfortunately a lot more than a reshoot needed to be completed to save The New Mutants.
First teaser for Blumhouse Productions Amazon Prime horror films coming this Halloween
Blumhouse Productions seem to appear in many of the latest horror releases for years, with their investments creating hits such as The Invisible Man (Leigh Whannell, 2020) and Halloween (David Gordon Green, 2018). Blumhouse will release a total of eight filmsdirectly to Amazon Prime. The series of films is aptly titled ‘Welcome to Blumhouse’ and from the first look that was released this week horror fans will be in for a treat.
The teaser trailer promises an unsettling journey into fear, with a glimpse into each film’s chilling disposition. The four films coming soon are ‘The Lie’ (Veena Sud) which starts Joey King as an impulsive killer, ‘Black Box’ (Emmanuel Osei-Kuffour Jr.) which explores the temptation of reversing history, ‘Evil Eye’ (Elan Dassani and Rajeev Dassani) which is produced by Priyanka Chopra and deals with the consequences of parental suspicions and ‘Nocturne’ (Zu Quirke) which explores a musician’s Faustian pact to supersede her talented sister.
The first four will be released on October 6th just in time for Halloween, with the other four films premiering in 2021.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.