Ten 1980’s horror films you’re missing out on

1- Spookies (Directed by Brendan Faulkner, Thomas Doran & Eugenie Joseph, 1986) 

An evil warlock traps an unknowing group of teenagers in an abandoned manor in order to fulfil a sacrifice that will keep his wife alive. 

1980s horror can be so frenzied at times, creating an illogical story path that does not entirely glue together properly, but come hell or high water audiences absolutely adore this exact rambunctiousness that the decade does so well. Spookies is no exception, as this egregious flick has everything a viewer could want, from zombies and witches to ouija boards and snake demons. Across time the obscurity has been praised, with many admiring the sheer will of the film and how it manages to ram so many genre highlights into an 85-minute runtime. The offbeat energy is owed to the alternation of directors. Spookies started out as ‘Twisted Souls’, a haunted house film, but after creative disagreements, the financial backers brought in Eugiene Joseph who added in several subplots and a barrage of creatures. Despite all the mixups, it’s this amalgamation of visions and twisted monster designs that gave Spookies its cult following, earning itself a reputation for being uncanny. 

2- Parents (Directed by Bob Balaban, 1989) 

The Laemie’s move to a quiet Californian suburb to live out the perfect American Dream in the 1950s, but ten-year-old Michael (Bryan Madorsky) suspects that his parents are secretly cannibals. 

Parents walks the fine line of being satirical without being a slapstick comedy, all thanks to the film’s dark and macabre undertones. Throughout, there is an air of uncertainty that waivers in and out, is Michael just dreaming about his parents’ hidden skeletons? Or is he genuinely living this real-life nightmare? Most of the time Balaban toys with the audience’s natural vulnerability. We can only believe what we’ve been shown, but at the same time, Michael’s father Nick (Randy Quaid) and mother Lily (Mary Beth Hurt) play their roles so subtly that we can never be sure; leaving the viewer in this surreal limbo for nearly the entire film. What makes Parents such a buried treasure is this ambiguity that can both divide opinions and naturally unsettles the film’s sense of reality. 

3- Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (Directed by John McNaughton,1986) 

Henry (Michael Rooker), is recently released from prison after murdering his own mother. Following his release, he is joined by fellow inmate Otis (Tom Towles), who becomes an accessory in Henry’s continued killings. 

Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer has a long complicated relationship with censorship. Not only was the film outright banned in the UK up until 1991, but the full uncut edit was not released until 2003. Similarly, the film struggled with the critical reception, with many claiming that McNaughton’s efforts added up to nothing more than torture galore. Yet, as with many great films, the controversy was only a reaction to the extremely powerful, visceral tones that the film brutally captures. At points the violence is extreme, but not to glorify, instead the callous scenes highlight the atrociousness of the true story that inspired the film. The character of Henry is based on Henry Lee Lucas, a real-life serial killer known for making false claims about cold cases. It’s quite notable that the crimes depicted on screen are mainly based on many of Lee Lucas’s fantasies. It’s for this reason that the film deserves a spotlight. McNaughton points a finger at how twisted Rooker’s character is, to truly underline his banality and to ensure that the film will always remain shocking. 

4- Razorback (Directed by Russell Mulcahy, 1984) 

Beth Winters (Judy Morris), an American animal rights reporter, takes a trip to Australia only to fall victim to a wild boar attack. Although her disappearance is ruled as an accident, her husband Carl (Gregory Harrison), suspects that something sinister is at play. 

Razorback belongs to a special area of Australian cinema, eco-horror, which can be defined as a subgenre that deals with the environment and its beings, as they strike back in an act of revenge. Whilst water-creature horror had seen a rise in the 1980s (thanks to Jaws), what hadn’t been tackled as much was the natural threats that come from an environment such as the Australian outback. Razorback captures a dusty, dangerous landscape where wild pigs roam, seeking their prey. This combination of earthiness and killer beasts encapsulates the madness and visual flair that 1980s horror is known for. Prior to filmmaking, Mulcahy has been known for directing music videos, with Razorback being his first feature, but rather than the film being overly flashy, emulating a typical music video, the film remains fairly serious, tackling both themes of man vs animal, and urban panic. 

5- The Vanishing (Directed by George Sluizer, 1988) 

Rex (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia (Johanna Ter Steege) make a quick stop at a petrol station in France whilst on a biking holiday, but unbeknownst to anyone Saskia suddenly vanishes. Rex frantically searches for hours, only to find that no one witnessed her disappearance. Three years later Rex has a new partner but still continues his search. No leads are made, that is until he begins to receive letters from the kidnapper himself. 

The Vanishing breaks unspeakable rules within cinema by abandoning any sense of mystery and revealing the tormentor early on. Although we are left in the dark about what exactly happened to Saskia at first, we do find out who took her almost immediately after the opening act. However, Sluizer chooses to use this plot diversion to present Raymond (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), Saskia’s abductor as a normal family man, who openly admits that he has no conscience, thus committing treacherous crimes to see how far he can go. Throughout the film, there is a purposeful lack of attachment. The settings are drab, the dialogue is plain and simple, and the mundanity of everyday life is not glamorized. With this, the film could very easily come across as almost bland, but it is through the mundane that the horror blooms. Cinema tends to paint a Hollywood picture of real-life terror, but in reality these things really do happen. The Vanishing mercilessly depresses in favour of depicting this true loss. 

6-  The Lair of the White Worm (Directed by Ken Russell, 1988)

On Eve (Catherine Oxenberg) and Mary Trent’s (Sammi Davis) farm, archeologist Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) uncovers a large skull, which he supposes belongs to the D’Ampton Worm, a mythical reptile-like creature slain by the current Lord of the Manor’s (Hugh Grant) ancestors. When Lady Sylvia Marsh (Amanda Donohoe) takes an interest in Eve and Flint, it becomes evident that the D’Ampton Worm still lives on. 

The Lair of the White Worm originates from Bram Stoker’s novel of the same name, based upon northeast English folklore surrounding The Lambton Worm. The film draws inspiration from what British horror continuously succeeds in, folk horror. Cinema such as The Blood on Satan’s Claw, Witchfinder General, and The Wicker Man all take from the country’s cultural heritage to embody the fear of ‘the other’ and the vulnerability of isolation. However, Russell refuses to directly copy what has already been done in favour of remixing what folk horror is familiar with. The Lair of the White Worm has an incomparable visual flair, with crazed imagery and plenty of colour seeping throughout the entire film. 

7- The Funhouse (Directed by Tobe Hooper, 1981) 

Four friends visit a traveling carnival to let loose for the night and have fun. All is going well, but when they get stuck inside ‘The Funhouse’-the park’s ghost train- they soon discover that a masked killer is killing them off one-by-one. 

Over the years Tobe Hooper has become a horror household name with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre being just one of his many hits, but The Funhouse still remains fairly under the radar. As with many teen slashers from the early 1980s, The Funhouse was made to profit off the back of Friday the 13th’s success. Despite this, the film has an entirely unique quality that is a milieu of carnival creatures and chilling reveals that act as ghastly shock to the audience, particularly that of the killer’s facial reveal. It’s clear that the film works on multiple levels, whether its timely scares or gnarly kills- The Funhouse has it all. 

8- Visiting Hours (Directed by Jean-Claude Lord, 1982)

Deborah Ballin (Lee Grant), a women’s rights activist triggers the wrath of Colt Hawker (Michael Ironside), a misogynistic serial killer after her appearance on a talk show. He partially succeeds on his killing mission, but after finding out that she survived he visits the hospital to finish the job once and for all. 

Visiting Hours is not without its issues, the release wasn’t necessarily met with applause, partially due to its positioning on the Video Nasty list, as well as major critics writing it off thanks to its ‘slasher’ nature. However, slashers have never fared well in the mainstream critical domain. Despite everything at play, Visiting Hours has a good knock at creating a rooted background story rather than just presenting a masked killer with a knife. Lord’s attempts at broadening the slasher vibe are extremely successful as Visiting Hours is a slow burn through and through. Alongside presenting a deeper motivation is the film’s performances, particularly from Michael Ironside, who plays the maniacal Colt. His portrayal of such a menacingly gruesome man is second to none, leaving the viewer on the edge of their seat the entire film. 

9- Pin (Directed by Sandor Stern,1988) 

Brother and sister Leon (David Hewlett), and Ursula (Cyndy Preston), form a twisted bond with their doctor father’s anatomically correct medical dummy, Pin.

Pin is not entirely obscure. It’s not that many people do not know about its existence, it’s that the film itself deserves a lot more appraisal for its gratuitous display of disturbing horror. The entire notion of Pin is alluring, particularly for the decade. Cinema emerging from the 1980s typically fell into the slasher category, that’s not to say that slashers aren’t entirely deserving of praise, but Pin is certainly refreshing. What pushes the film out from amongst the rest is Stern’s way of subtly evoking a strong sense of eeriness through the character of the Pin. From the outset, his strange skinned-back appearance is utterly unnerving, with its blank stare accelerating any unease that we may have already had. 

10- Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou (Directed by Bruce Pittman, 1987) 

Mary Lou Maloney (Lisa Schrage) is known for her unapologetic flirtatious attitude and her popular status, but her freedom is cut short when she dies during a prom night prank gone wrong. Decades later Mary Lou possesses high school student Vicki Carpenter (Wendy Lyon) in order to seek revenge. 

Prom Night II surprisingly remains one of the most underrated sequels, its reputation has never managed to soar. Pittman’s take on teen horror is not only adventurous but also original in the fact that we get to see the best of both worlds- slasher mixed with supernatural elements. Coupling up with the originality is the film’s laugh-a-minute humour, and wickedly grim kills, including crucifix stabbings, burning, electrocution, and most sickeningly a kill that involves someone being crushed in between a set of lockers. Rounding the film up is the epic third act that makes Carrie’s prom seem like an absolute dream.

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


An interview with the Headless Horseman

Dead Northern Interviews Illusions Director for stage adaptation of Washington Irvings Sleepy Hollow – Filipe Carvalho

An exciting creative team will resurrect the Headless Horseman and bring the Hollow to life, with jaw-dropping illusions by Filipe J. Carvalho (Back To The Future The Musical; Secret Cinema presents Stranger Things), design by Amy Watts, choreography by Chris Cuming, lighting by Jason Addison and sound design by Sam Glossop. Transforming the American Dream into the American Gothic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is a heart-pounding visual masterpiece revitalising the classic text for new audiences.

Q.  From campfire ghost stories to legends of haunted theatres, even Shakespeare himself didn’t shy away from the supernatural. Given that horror works so well in live performance and storytelling, why do you think the genre been so neglected on stage?

F: Just like comedy, creating horror live on stage is rather difficult and requires a specific set of skills. It is a very technical task and it needs a deep understanding of timing and psychology. This means it can be a risky genre to stage. For example, in a comedy show if a joke doesn’t land, everyone is aware of it and there is nowhere to hide. The same thing happens with horror. If you try to create a scary moment and it doesn’t deliver because it isn’t done correctly or the right “ingredients” haven’t been used, it’s evident to the audience that a moment was trying to be achieved but failed. There’s an expectation to be scared or tense at a horror show, and if you don’t achieve this the audience will leave disappointed. As if you’re staging a normal story, there are no preconceived expectations.


Q. SFX can be problematic when shooting for the screen, but ultimately any issues can (not without difficulty!) be resolved by a reshoot or in post-production. How do you approach creating SFX for a live audience?

F: As you say quite rightly, in live shows if something goes wrong you can’t go back and reshoot or digitally erase something that shouldn’t have happened.

The only thing we can do to make sure illusions or effects go as planned on a live show is to plan as much as possible far ahead, anticipating all thing that can go wrong, and then rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. And even then, things will go wrong at some point, but that’s the magic of live entertainment.


Q. Fear can invoke some erratic reactions in people. Have you ever had any peculiar behaviour from your audience?

F: My favourite reactions are the genuine involuntary screams and also when audience members physically can’t move because they are so scared. This especially happens in immersive experiences where audiences are left at their own devices to explore the performance area.


Q.  Horror, more than any other genre, requires building tension. How do you time the performance to not lose audience immersion during and after the intermission?

F: One the best ways to do that is to finish Act 1 with a strong twist or narrative interrogation mark, so audiences spend the majority of the interval talking what might happen in the Act II. Similar to what TV series do at the end of an episode, they end it in a way you can’t resist to watch the next episode to know the outcome.


Q. What scare techniques are unique to the stage that just wouldn’t be possible in cinema?

F: In terms of audio-visual techniques, there’s isn’t much we can do in theatre that movies can’t do, apart from having actors appearing in the stalls to scare the audience. Where live shows do have a big advantage over movies is in the fact audiences know that literally anything can be done in movies using CGI, making it harder to impress movie goers. On the other hand, if you’re sitting in a theatre watching a play or in a secret warehouse being part of an immersive show and you see a real person levitate in front of you and you have no idea how that is being done, now that’s impressive, and no one in the house can stay indifferent to that.


Q. How much does technology play in creating your theatrical illusions over practical effects and what are the advantages and drawbacks of both?

F: I personally love tech – always have done – but, as we know, sometimes tech can fail on us. I don’t start the creative process by deciding if I want to use tech or not. I start by deciding what illusion or visual effect I want to see for a specific moment of the script or storytelling. Once I have an idea of what I want to create, we explore different options of how the effect can be achieved. Usually, there is more than one way of achieving the same effect, and it will depend on all the other factors specific to that show that will make us decide what route is best. For example, for one of the shows we wanted to transform an animal puppet into a puff of confetti. I started developing a way to use electronics to remotely and secretly produce this confetti burst, but as the rehearsals developed and after workshopping different solutions we actually decided to use compressed air and valves, all mechanical with no electronics or wireless triggering, because it just didn’t need to be complicated. When I was a teenager, a mentor of mine used to tell me, always think KISS, “Keep It Simple, Stupid”, which usually tends to be the best approach – although it’s very tempting to complicate things sometimes.


Q. Horror is a popular theme with immersive entertainment such as Secret Cinema. What sort of effect do you think this will have on the genre in Theatre?  

F: I’ve actually worked with Secret Cinema! The last project I did with them was Stranger Things, which was an incredible show. Immersive theatre lends itself perfectly for horror shows as there is no separation between stage and audience. The audience is on stage and are usually part of the action themselves. This removes that comfort and security you feel when you’re sitting in a theatre, as anything can happen around you.

I don’t think horror being popular in immersive shows is going to affect horror in theatre plays, but I definitely think the fact immersive entertainment is becoming exponentially more popular will influence and encourage traditional theatre shows to up their game and try to incorporate more immersive elements.


Q. What genre story would you like to bring to stage most? 

F: My favourites are horror and of course anything with a magical theme. I think Casper The Friendly Ghost would be a great show.  


For more information about the stage adaptation of Legend of Sleepy Hollow go to


10 brutal body horror films you need to see

1- Tusk (Directed by Kevin Smith, 2014)

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long), a conceited podcast host travels to Canada to interview a viral celebrity, but when plans change he ends up interviewing a peculiar man with an odd obsession for walruses. 

Tusk (2014)

Although body horror relishes in the display of the absurd, at times what is actually more effective is a slow build up that takes its sweet time in revealing ludicrous shocking imagery that the genre is known for. Tusk is one of the most misleading films in the sense that director Kevin Smith constantly pulls in humour instead of resorting straight to horror, delaying the films ‘grand reveal’ and ensuring that our jaws are dropped when Wallace meets his fate. Tusk is no stranger to its fair share of criticism, with many early screenings delivering lackluster feedback. However, like all good things, Tusk has aged well. Now, it has a major fan following and is the first part of the True North trilogy, which also boasts Yoga Hosers and the upcoming Moose Jaws. 

2- Slither (Directed by James Gunn, 2006) 

Slither follows the humdrum locals of Wheelsy, South Carolina, as they battle an alien parasite that threatens to destroy every living being on Earth. 

James Gunn's Gory Horror-Comedy 'SLiTHER' Still Great 12 Years Later -  Bloody Disgusting

James Gunn may now be renowned for his work in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but back in 2006 he made Slither, a grossly preposterous tale reminiscent of B-movies and pure schlock. It is not uncommon for many horror films to either have a well crafted narrative with a weak exposition (and vice versa), but Slither has a unique trait of having equal amounts of visual galore and excellent storytelling. With Night of the Creeps and The Brood being major inspirations for Gunn you can be rest assured that Slither is not for the weak stomached. Slither dares to test its audience. Blood, guts, and gore is not anything out of the ordinary for an average horror viewer, but Gunn turns it up a notch by creating these ‘larger than life’ human-based beings that embody the gnarly beasts of great Troma classic’s, including The Toxic Avenger. 

3- Society (Directed by Brian Yuzna, 1989) 

Bill (Billy Warlock), an everyday teen uncovers his family’s involvement in a ghastly orgy cult exclusive to the socially elite. 

Society | Screen Slate

It is genuinely impossible to create a body horror list without acknowledging Brian Yuzna’s fascinatingly gruesome Society. Yuzna was a producer for the infamous Re-Animator, and with this in mind he bargained for a two-picture deal, with the first being Society. With such a brazen display of monstrous chaos it’s no surprise that the film still holds the trophy for being utterly surreal. As with all great films prior to the influx of CGI, Society delivers a spectacular venture made using practical effects. The final scene which has been dubbed “The Shunting” showcases a slimy limb-tastic orgy where nothing is left to the imagination. These effects came from the visionary Screaming Mad George, a renowned special effect artist known for his long-time collaboration with Yuzna. The giant puppet replicating dozens of slimy writhing bodies melting together stole the show, with the film even being shelved for a couple of years thanks to distributors being unsure whether audiences would really want to view something so disturbing. 

4- Uzumaki (Directed by Higuchinsky, 2000) 

The locals of Kurouzu-cho, a small Japanese town, begin to act strange as they become obsessed by spiral patterns. 

Fright Fest 2019: UZUMAKI (2000) | Machine Mean

Uzumaki may not be as openly obscure as other films featured on this list, but do not be fooled as this Japanese sleeper hit has a distinguishably freakish third act that loiters in the depths of your subconscious for days after watching. Based on the manga of the same name, Uzumaki is unlike any other film, in the same sense of how Eraserhead and Hausu are inimitable. And within those same lines the film is entirely disconcerting and devoid of any reality, with the most grounded scenes such as a character walking along a street, or even a family dinner becoming completely illogical. Each scene is caked in a grungy, seasick light, accompanied by uncomfortably close shots and ill-natured characters.

5- Altered States (Directed by Ken Russell, 1980) 

Dr. Eddie Jessup (William Hurt), a research scientist, investigates the altered states of human consciousness through the use of hallucinogenic drugs to determine whether the various states of consciousness are as embedded in reality as our waking state. 

In Search of the Original Self: Ken Russell's 'Altered States' Turns 40 -  Bloody Disgusting

Ken Russell may appear all across media reference books thanks to his work on Women in Love and The Devils, but for an unbeknownst reason Altered States remains fairly untackled by mainstream cinema. The film aims to be both as alien and as personable as possible, as we go back in time to the creation of man followed by the progression of earth and the body. Altered States is not without its plummy oscentasciousness, but rather than become a journey into the ego, the film savours its own psychological influences. Through disavowing a sense of normality, Russell captures our attention and uses it to both daze and dazzle. 

6- The Thing (Directed by John Carpenter, 1982) 

In Antarctica, an American research team discovers an extraterrestrial life form that can take the shape of whoever or whatever it chooses. 


John Carpenter’s The Thing has held a renowned reputation for decades now, as this riveting exploration into paranoia and mistrust through the body still remains just as disturbing and delirious as it was back in 1982. When body horror is mentioned many will automatically visualise the assimilating dogs, or the gangling human-spider creature from The Thing, with Rob Bottin’s effects being nominated for Best Special Effects by The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Carpenter is no stranger to the world of horror, but The Thing has a special zing that makes it entirely stand out. Within the weird and wild landscape of the film we are isolated and confined to a secluded zone where terror hides amongst the crowd, forcing not only a massive sense of vulnerability, but also an exploration into the ‘great unknown’. 

7- Cabin Fever (Directed by Eli Roth, 2002) 

Five friends take a trip to a cabin in the woods to unwind and have a good time. Unbeknownst to them their shindig is about to meet a fatal end as a flesh eating disease begins to spread amongst the group. 

What Are Your Biggest Fears? - Bloody Disgusting

Cabin Fever still remains a rocky entry amongst many audiences, as this rather coarse journey showcasing incredibly gnarly effects is often labelled as being gory just for the sake of it. Yet, Cabin Fever has this undeniable quirk that manages to get under your skin. Eli Roth has always been open about his inspirations, and for anyone who takes a closer look at the film the copious nods to genre classics such as Evil Dead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and The Blair Witch Project is beyond obvious. But instead of creating a carbon copy of the overused cliché of a bunch of  ‘twenty-somethings in a forest cabin’, Roth creates a rambunctious world where irreverence is dialed up to the max, and crude sensibilities radiate. 

8- The Fly (Directed by David Cronenberg,1986) 

Seth (Jeff Goldblum), a renowned scientist, has successfully created a working teleporting invention, but after a terrible accident he slowly begins to mutate into a grotesque fly-like creature. 

Film Information | Picturehouse Cinemas

David Cronenberg and body horror is a literal match made in heaven, it could even be said that his work within cinema has helped shape the sub-genre, especially with films such as The Brood, Scanners, and Videodrome lying in the midst of his extensive filmography. The Fly harbours a rich history that is now ingrained in cinema culture, with the film’s tagline “Be afraid. Be very afraid” having become repeatedly used in television and advertising. What allows The Fly to excel is the delicate balance of humanising a naturally abject matter. Seth’s declining wellness throughout the film is slow, but stark. Instead of him going to bed as normal and then suddenly waking up as a monster, special effects artist Chris Walas introduces the creature gradually, as we witness at least eight stages of mutation. Accompanying this slow transition is the film’s subplot of Seth’s aggressive mutations excising his own psychological wellbeing, unmasking the dark grittiness of humanity.

9- Tetsuo: The Iron Man (Directed by Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989) 

A businessman (Tomorowo Taguchi) and his partner (Kei Fujiwara) accidentally kill ‘The Metal Fetishist’ (Shin’ya Tsukamoto), who as a strange act of vengeance transforms the couple into malformed metal-flesh hybrids. 


Tetsuo: The Iron Man dares to be brave. Even in its most simplistic form, the film remains berserk. As with many other body horror ventures, there is no point in trying to search for reasoning over the film’s events. Alternatively, you have to just sit back and revel in the allegorical chaos that is Tetsuo. With all this being said, the transhumanistic qualities and the metal-urbanised aesthetics are entirely captivating and beyond cathartic. Shinya Tsukamoto exhumes a twisted cyberpunk-esque structure that forces the film’s hypersexualised aura right into the limelight, making sure that the visceral execution is inescapable. Although the film’s acclaimed reputation is primarily owed to its cult fandom, Tetsuo was also one of the first Japanese films that gained attention from large film festivals, resulting in Japanese cinema experiencing a boom within the independent film market. 

10- Spring (Directed by Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson, 2014) 

Spring takes us on the fantastical journey of Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), as he travels to Italy in hopes of clearing his mind. However, on his journey he meets Louise (Nadia Hilker), a mysterious woman who harbours a treacherous secret. 

Drafthouse Films to Release Monster Romance 'Spring' as BitTorrent Bundle |  IndieWire

Spring is an enigmatically charged horror which equalises the body and the monstrous, all wrapped up in a romance film. Spring is entirely unique in its own right. Although the core motifs of the story are not unfamiliar, the flourishing execution is as visually stunning as it is emotionally warming. In spite of the fundamentals of body horror, Spring metamorphosis’s the sub-genre through creating something that isn’t repulsive to look at, or caked in slime. Opposingly, we are enthralled by the visually abject. One of those most transfixing elements of the film is the contrast between the picturesque Southern Italian landscape and the beastly creature that lurks within society. Spring is one of those films that is not plastered on every top ten list, nor did it receive plenty of media attention, truly matching the definition of a hidden gem. 

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.


Review – Last Night in Soho

The whimsical Ellie (Thomasin McKenzie), heads to the bright city of London to attend a prestigious fashion college, but her doe-eyed innocence is soon interrupted when she discovers an ability to slip back in time to the swinging sixties where she witnesses the life of wannabe starlet Sandie (Anya Taylor-Joy), who dangerously falls under club manager, Jack’s (Matt Smith) spell. 

Dancing in neon bravado and swaying throughout time to paint a daunting picture varnished with chilling fates and show-stopping performances is Edgar Wright’s Last Night In Soho. It seems that the promise of the film’s release has been held over our heads for years, with its premiere being repeatedly delayed. Luckily enough the wait was certainly worth it as the film upholds every promise that was made in the dazzling trailer. 

Wright is no stranger to cult fandom, especially with Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead floating in his seemingly endless filmography. Joining his talents is co-writer Krysty Wilson-Cairns, who deservedly garnered copious praise for her screenplay of Academy Award winner 1917. Together their collaboration of this riveting descent into imaginative violence is a force to be reckoned with and certainly a film to remember.

With all the praise comes a truthful reality, Last Night in Soho is difficult. There’s no denying that the amalgamation of genres, which range from musicals to neo-noir comes with an inescapable level of chaos. The melancholic swells of drama echo throughout just as much as the shadowy thriller aesthetics. The whirlwind of vibes is what allows the film to be utterly mesmerizing and rather impressionable as a modern triumph in the horror genre. The clear inspiration from horror icons such as Alfred Hitchcock and Mario Bava is clear, but rather than simply manufacturing a carbon copy of what is already out there, we get to witness a new and exciting approach. 

In an episode of the podcast ‘Post Mortem with Mick Garris‘, Wright confessed to being engrossed by the culture of 1960s London after finding his parents’ record collection, mainly consisting of The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, and Simon and Garfunkel. His perception of the time was formed through listening to these songs and admiring the vinyl covers, creating an almost romanticised dream-like interpretation of such a culturally significant time. In essence, Last Night in Soho is not too dissimilar from walking through a museum, immersing yourself in a time that is long gone. With each scene comes a barrage of songs that will ring familiar to nearly everyone, including Cilla Black’s ‘You’re My World’ and a haunting cover of ‘Downtown’ performed by Taylor-Joy

The film has this air of nostalgia from a time that viewers may not have ever experienced. Wright regenerates what we know as modern horror, forgoing the now archetypal film path in favour of enveloping late 1960s/early 1970s culture into the frame. 

Last Night in Soho melts together Giallo influences alongside an eerie supernatural tale that creates a backbone so dense, that it makes the film almost hypnotic and impossible to forget. Giallo cinema has long been upheld on a pedestal within genre cinema, thanks to its innate ability to force the viewer to the edge of their seat, with aspects such as stark lighting, hyper-stylization, and graphic violence that plunges itself to the forefront of the narrative. In a commemorative ode to this, we get to see a type of format-based relationship that is common to Giallo cinema; an equal push-and-pull with both the story and the auditory/visual cues. Last Night in Soho liberally uses films such as The Bird with the Crystal Plumage as inspiration to conjure a blend of cathartic mystery, alongside a fully fleshed out story. 

The film’s rapid success is also owed to the immense performances by Mckenzie, Taylor-Joy, and Smith. McKenzie is a powerhouse who manages to build a character so vulnerable and feeble that gradually becomes ferocious in her motivations, whilst Taylor- Joy perfectly achieves a lost tormented soul whose troubles have made her both fragile and strong at the same time. One of the most surprising character developments takes place in Jack. Jack takes his form as the ‘teddyboy’ manager who could have easily been written as a typical sleaze whose creepiness is just a regurgitated version of every other predatory character that’s already out there. Alternatively, Wright and Wilson-Cairns elaborate and create a brutally narcissistic character who truly reeks of pure evil

Last Night in Soho is rich and disturbing, with a designated aim for making the viewer a pawn in a horrific tale of mistrust, vulnerability, and corruption

This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.