Categories
Curiosity Corner Food and Drink

Halloween Pumpkin Twist

It’s Halloween and that means Pumpkins!

Is there a more iconic fruit than the pumpkin when it comes to Horror? The giant orange squash has starred in more Halloween movies than Jamie Lee Curtis!

But let’s be honest for a moment? Who actually likes eating Pumpkin?

Sure, there’s a host of artificial pumpkin “flavoured” sweets, treats, and drinks that hit the shelves every Halloween, but they taste about as much like pumpkin as grape soda tastes like grapes.

Yet every Halloween millions of us purchase a pumpkin and set about scooping the goopy, sticky, seedy mess into bowls and start carving a spoopy Pumpkinhead. Only to stick it out front of our homes until it rots. Then it either gets lobbed in the bin, vandalised, or at best a compost heap.

In an age when we’re expected to be conscious of our waste, there’s no excuse to buy food with the sole intention of chucking the edible part and leaving the shell to decay.

There is another way! One that’s quite literally greener! The melon! There are so many to choose from, but our favourite is the watermelon. Just as much fun to carve but you’re left with sweet, juicy fruit and we’d wager that there are more fans of melon than there are of pumpkin.

And it gets better. There are a coffin load of watermelon cocktails, such as Sangira or Piña Coladas. So if you’re planning a halloween party they’re the perfect alternative to the pumpkin.

What ever fruit you choose. Have a fantastic Halloween!

Categories
Curiosity Corner Events

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

 Tilted Wig, Malvern Theatres and Churchill Theatre Bromley 

 Thursday 30th September – Saturday 4th December 2021 

 Full casting has been announced for the thrilling new touring production of Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Taking on the role of Ichabod Crane is Sam Jackson (Skins, E4; Beautiful Thing, National Tour) alongside Rose Quentin (York Witches Society, MSR Media), Lewis Cope (Vera, ITV; Witness for the Prosecution, London County Hall) and Tommy Sim’aan (As You Like It, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse; Doctors, BBC). They will join the previously announced Wendi Peters and Bill Ward

Adapted by acclaimed playwright Philip Meeks (Murder, Margaret and Me; Harpy), and under the direction of by Jake Smith (The Hound of the Baskervilles; A Christmas Carol; I’m Gonna Pray For You So Hard), the premiere production seeks to unleash terror on the stage. The ghoulish and edge-of-the-seat experience will tour theatres across the UK from September. 

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. 

With Hallowmas fast approaching, Sleepy Hollow simmers with anticipation. Arriving as the new teacher, Ichabod Crane finds himself embroiled in the secrets and unsettling traditions of the locals. However, all is not as it seems. When disturbing events overwhelm the small town, he finds himself swept up in a dangerous mystery which leaves him doubting his own sanity. 

Producer Katherine Senior of Tilted Wig Productions comments, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is set to be an epic piece of theatre, combining a stellar cast with a fantastic script and theatrical illusions that will blow your mind! It’s incredibly exciting to be creating new work once again for the regions, as we’ve been planning this production for some time. We are thrilled to be heading back on the road and cannot wait to visit local theatres with this show. 

Notes to Editors Show The Legend of Sleepy Hollow 

Running time 2 hours, approx. 

Age guidance 12+ 

Original concept Washington Irving 

Adapted by Philip Meeks 

Director Jake Smith 

Cast Wendi Peters, Bill Ward, Sam Jackson, Rose Quentin, Lewis Cope and Tommy Sim’aan 

Designer Amy Watts 

Lighting Designer Jason Addison 

Sound Designer Sam Glossop 

Movement Chris Cuming 

Illusions Director Filipe J. Carvalho 

Producers Tilted Wig, Malvern Theatres and Churchill Theatre Bromley 

Performance Dates 

30th September – 2nd October Churchill Theatre Bromley 

High Street, Bromley, BR1 1HA 

https://churchilltheatre.co.uk/Online/

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5th – 9th October York Theatre Royal 

St Leonard’s Pl, York YO1 7HD 

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12th – 16th October MAST, Southampton 

142, 144 Above Bar St, Southampton SO14 7DU 

https://www.mayflowerstudios.org.uk/

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18th – 23rd October Yvonne Arnaud Theatre 

Millbrook, Guildford GU1 3UX 

https://www.yvonne-arnaud.co.uk/

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26th – 30th October Oldham Coliseum 

Fairbottom St, Oldham OL1 3SW 

https://www.coliseum.org.uk/

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2nd – 6th November Malvern Theatres 

Grange Road, Malvern, WR14 3HB 

https://www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/

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8th – 13th November Edinburgh Kings Theatre 

2 Leven St, Edinburgh EH3 9LQ 

https://www.capitaltheatres.com/your-visit/kings-theatre

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16th – 20th November Darlington Hippodrome 

Parkgate, Darlington DL1 1RR 

https://www.darlingtonhippodrome.co.uk/

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23rd – 27th November Devonshire Park Theatre, Eastbourne 

8-10 Compton St, Eastbourne BN21 4BW 

https://www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/venue/devonshire-park-theatre

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29th November – 4th December Southend Palace Theatre 

430 London Rd, Westcliff-on-Sea, Southend-on-Sea, SS0 9LA 

https://southendtheatres.org.uk/Online/default.asp

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Twitter @tiltedwiguk Instagram @TiltedWig Facebook /TiltedWigProductions 

All enquiries, high res images and further information: 

Daniel O’Carroll, Chloé Nelkin Consulting 

E: daniel@chloenelkinconsulting.com, T: 0203 6272 960 

W: www.chloenelkinconsulting.com 

Categories
Curiosity Corner

Dead Serious Chat – From Our Friends At DeadHappy

Ever wondered what you’d really like to happen when you die? There’s a deathwish for that…

If there’s one lesson to be learned from watching thousands of horror films is that those characters could really do with some life insurance. Flesh eating zombies, vengeful birds, xenomorphs bursting out of chests… they don’t have it easy.

And although we are very unlikely to die in one of those elaborate ways, there are even worse horrors to be had… like being buried in a scratchy sweater or Barbie Girl blasting out of the speakers as your final goodbye.

Life: 100% mortality rate

… Unless you’re known as ‘She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed’ (no, your wife is most likely NOT immortal but good question!) or have ways of brewing an elixir of immortality, chances are you’re not going to live forever. Yet, despite this over 80% of people have nothing written down about their deathwishes. It’s sad to think four in every five ghosts will leave their own
funerals in disgust. We’re not prepared to sit around and let this happen.

Happy ghosts all around

The DeadHappy deathwish option allows you to express exactly what you want to happen when you die and weave those wishes into your life insurance policy – whether it’s sending your mates on a paranormal expedition, throwing a Halloween themed wake, or leaving
some money to pay off that mortgage. That way you family knows exactly what to do with your payout and you move into the afterlife as a happy ghost.


And just imagine how many vengeful ghost hauntings could be avoided if we all left things exactly as we want to!

Get me covered

*Zombies, vampires and other members of the not alive, ever living club need not apply.

Categories
Curiosity Corner Reviews

The Video Nasties: A brief history of the UK’s moral panic in the 1980’s

Censorship has consistently exerted a high level of control over what is and is not acceptable to be viewed. In particular, The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) has made sure that horror has endured a string of scrutiny for decades, leaving a trail of irony, criticism, and controversy across horror history. The BBFC is the ruling authority that has been in power since 1912 due to the Cinematograph act 1909 which regulated what films were granted permission to be screened at the cinema.

As time has progressed a series of changes has been made internally within the BBFC, with the primary alteration surrounding the changing role of the chief censor. At first, the BBFC was rather friendly with somewhat obscene material, as Chief John Trevelyan had a more open view of acceptability, take for example Ken Russel’s The Devils (1971). Trevelyan passed this film which was not shy about exposing sacrilegious imagery with an X rating. This soon transpired a series of outrage from the British Public. However, this brief enlightening of liberalization was harshly interrupted by the arrival of home video

In 1979 video players were first released in all high street shops, available to anyone. Regardless of one’s age you could view any material no matter the content as film’s did not have to go through the rigmarole of censoring. In retrospect the introduction of this marvellous invention is ground breaking, yet many mainstream distributors were more than reluctant to release any films, as they saw it as a threat to cinema and piracy infringements. This reluctance aided an influx of low budget horror films to dominate the market. TV was no longer solely there to appease family values, instead it was a chance to watch lurid and explicit content without numerous cuts and interferences. The accessibility was viewed as a major threat to the “youth of Britain’s mental health”, as supposedly these graphic horrors could literally possess children and force them to repeat the acts that they saw on screen. 

Quite understandably, this new territory could have been minutely intimidating, but the painstakingly long journey that horror went through to gain integration into the mainstream was beyond dramatically treacherous. The nation, bargained by the media, believed that these films were serious enough to be considered a moral panic, meaning that a general feeling of fear was felt across society mainly due to scaremongering and falsely constructed information. The barrage of terror was helmed by the one and only Mary Whitehouse, who for those who may not know is horror’s worst enemy. 

Whitehouse alongside the National Viewers and Listeners Association (now Mediawatch-UK) launched the Clean-up TV campaign which garnered over 500,000 signatures. The crusade gained both government and media attention very quickly, resulting in mass vexation. Soon titles such as  How High Street Horror is Invading the Home’(The Sunday Times, 1982) dominated newspapers, with The Daily Mail jumpstarting their own campaign literally called “Ban the Sadist Video”. The most ludicrous statement of them all can be seen in an interview with MP Graham Bright who states that the video nasties will even affect your family pets! Whilst every outlet was busy fabricating how these films were corrupting the youth of Britain, the actual films themselves were basking in the attention, their sales had gone through the roof. Supposedly the saying of ‘all publicity is good publicity’ is true after all. 

With the hatred was this arrival of attention which made people crave the gore even more. The fantastical cover artwork was purposefully daring, alluring audiences in with the promise of salacious material. Half of the time the covers and titles were far more smutty than the films could ever be. For example, The Toolbox Murders (Dennis Donnelly, 1978) vividly presents a nude woman crouched in front of a masked man wielding a phallically held drill. But the moral campaigners decided to forgo actually watching the content to decipher the actual material, apparently the cover was enough alone to ban this film

This judgemental notion was truly enforced once Whitehouse, alongside PM Margaret Thatcher, and MP Gareth Wardell had briefly introduced a harsher version of the already implicated Obscene Publication Act 1959 (OPA act), which saw the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) create a list of films that breached the OPA act, the list was modified monthly and at one point featured 72 titles including the now classics Cannibal Holocuast (Ruggero Deodato, 1980), I Spit on Your Grave (Meir Zarchi, 1978), and The Last House on the Left (Wes Craven, 1972). The list proved faulty, but instead of rationalising the seriousness of the ‘issue’ the panic continued to surge, resulting in The Videos Recording Act 1984  (VRA Act) being introduced. From this point on copious films were illegal to sell, with video shops selling such material even facing jail time alongside a hefty fine and license stripping. 

With this, the video nasties were officially born. The arrival of the VRA act was damning for future productions, but what truly cast their baptism as dreadful films tainting the scoundrels who dared to watch them was the comedic irony of the whole situation. The papers who blasted the nasties were so strict and constant in their abuse that naturally, the public conformed to what they were being told. In the 1980s there was no social media to get a second opinion, the views were majorly swayed. The moral panic was gradually slowed due to the VRA, with the nasties becoming old news. It wasn’t until years later when these films began to emerge from the pits of darkness (where they supposedly belong), and although horror is home to some pretty grim material some films have still never been released uncut

The nasties are gone but not forgotten. Villainizing a film is effective to a degree if you are sat on the opposite side, but eventually, the opposition will fall. Brainwashing the public to see the nasties as detrimental undoubtedly worked, yet it is widely known that the peddle pushing did not revolve entirely around the content; the threat of the unknown stayed close within the BBFC’s peripheral, these people were comfortable with their right lifestyle, and the nasties that had injected themselves into Britain’s mainstream were mainly Italian and American produced, showing a whole new set of cultural values. The conformity of the ‘known’ was breaking down, thus forcing traditional British values to be malleable and no longer set in stone. The fear did not solely surround the content of the nasties, but instead the alarm was rung due to the uncharted territory that the films invited in

Within the current climate, one can view whatever material they wish at the click of a keypad. The iceberg system of disturbing horror would have genuinely caused an entire breakdown across the country if films such as A Serbian Film (Srdjan Spasojevic, 2010) had been released in Britain back then. Even in this day and age, Spasojevic’s exploration into exploitation cinema had major issues with censorship from the BBFC, with multiple cuts being necessary for a release. Audiences are still being tested to this day, many films including A Serbian Film are not overly controversial in comparison to some of horror’s most daring ventures, take for example The Bunny Game (Adam Rehmeier, 2010). Rehmeier is the creator of one of the most harrowing tales legal cinema has ever seen.

The Bunny Game has been rejected for release in multiple countries including the UK and America, with its strong emphasis on violence against women and unstimulated scenes being too much for censors to handle. Matching this level of violence is Grotesque (Koji Shiraishi, 2009), which gives Takasi Miike’s reputation as Japan’s most controversial director a run for its money. Over time the craving for particularly gruesome horror has soared with many directors battling it out to try and test the boundaries as much as possible. 

What can be taken away from the video nasty era is the sense of miscontrol that the genre really has. Although profits have soared and popularity has grown there will always be a stigma against the content. The nasties are a reminder that liberalization within cinema is still a touchy subject.

The days of the nasties seem so long ago, but instead of that section of history being dead and buried it seems that censorship lives on, not necessarily through the BBFC but through public attitudes to the weird and wonderful world of horror.

Categories
Curiosity Corner

Jason Voorhees – cold blooded villain or tragic victim?

Sean S. Cunningham’s 1980 hit Friday the 13th is undeniably a staple within the slasher sub-genre, with its chartered success spawning an entire franchise consisting of twelve films. The film has rightly cemented its place within horror history as a genre defining tale that combines the ideal amount of gory entertainment, teenage antics and grisly kills to satisfy audience members. Still, it’s the machete wielding immortal force that makes Friday the 13th so iconic – the one and only Jason Voorhees.

To run a brief background, Jason Voorhees is the primary antagonist in the film series, with a machete being his weapon of choice. To accompany his machete is his hockey mask which he’s rarely seen without. His taste for bloodshed all began with his troubling experience at Camp Crystal Lake in the summer of 1957 where he supposedly drowned due to the negligent camp counsellors. His rage however is not as straightforward as it seems. His own personal vengeance only directly advances in Friday the 13th Part 2 (Steve Miner, 1981).

Throughout the series Jason is very much pliable in the sense that his actions, locations and abilities change. However there is one element that remains consistent across the films, this being Jason’s tragic cycle that he has to endure. This was most poignantly made visible from the horror legend Stephen King who made a statement regarding a scenario he had created surrounding a previous novel idea he never made. He compared Jason’s existence to a ‘hellish existential fate’ and that Jason’s perspective is never explained or understood.

With this being said, it’s important to examine Jason’s catharsis throughout the series to grasp why he is a victimised villain.

Jason Voorhees is a tortured soul that possesses an inherent thirst for normality, but due to the lack thereof he has become incandescent with rage. His trouble began whilst he was only a boy, with his severe mental disabilities and physical deformities making him an easy target for cruelty growing up. His brief stay at Camp Crystal Lake only worsened his everlasting marginalisation from societal normality. He was bullied and teased at the camp, with his death being brushed aside as not an overt loss.

Jason’s only companion was his mother who worked at the camp; he would spend most of his time with her, leading to his peers mistreating him. This neglectful nature followed Jason to his death. As aforementioned the counsellors cared more for each other than his well-being. Even after his death, his corpse was never found. Which prominently led to Pamela vowing to kill anyone who steps foot on Camp Crystal Lake as she believes everyone is out to attack her son.

Jason suffered from a short-lived tumultuous childhood, but the true treacherous fragment of his being comes from his afterlife. The theology of his immortal status is rather discombobulated across the films, the first film hints that the lack of his corpse is more of an urban legend, toying with the notion ‘is he dead or alive?’; in Friday the 13th Part 2 it’s established that Jason has been alive since his supposed drowning and has been living as a vagrant in the woods.

This perfectly brings about Jason’s real introduction to the series, which would soon introduce him as a household name. In Part 2 he vows to avenge his mother’s death, leading him to follow her footsteps. In fact, he treasures his mother so much that he stores her decapitated head in a fridge. Whilst the second film establishes Jason’s urge to kill, his trademarks do not necessarily appear until Friday the 13th Part 3 (Steve Miner, 1982). Here we are introduced to his trademark hockey mask, which cements his place as an iconic villain. Additionally, the audience is shown a whisper of insight into his burrowing nature to kill. After he kills his mother’s murderer, Alice (Adrienne King [the series original final girl]) he has technically performed his prior intentions.

From then on his remorseless kills originate seemingly from a place of nothing. Jason’s fury was soothed after he murdered Alice, but he knows no better than to carry on his rampage. It could be said that Jason isn’t even aware of the consequences of his actions.

Although Jason is a structurally massive killing machine with brute strength, he hasn’t matured mentally. Slasher films heavily associate sex with violence, yet whilst Jason victims are simply exploring adulthood he views it as immoral, since his own supposed death was caused due to camp counsellors occupying each other rather than watching after him. This sense of Jason unknowingly causing harm continues throughout the entirety of the franchise, with his lack of motivation or reason to kill. However what really makes the audience team with Jason is his unsanctioned resuscitation.

In Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter (Joseph Zito, 1984) Jason is supposed to be dead, with him even being taken to a morgue, but as usual this is not entirely true. We are then taken back to Crystal Lake as Jason makes his way back home in an attempt to beckon back to his resting place. Instead of peace, he is met with rowdy teenagers and noisy families in his area interrupting his will to slumber into a dreary space of emptiness. Henceforth, his killing spree continues as a means to end the disruption.

However in what is a startling scene, we are met with the horror aficionado Tommy (Corey Feldman) who paints his face white and shaves his head to imitate a young Jason in order to force a sense of sympathy from him. His impression comes across as a form of mockery, further angering Jason. Arguably Jason simply sees Tommy as another one of his childhood bullies who would tease him for his appearance. Jason is supposedly killed at the end of The Final Chapter, but we would later learn that this is not his final appearance.

The combination of mocking and disallowance for him to die is what Stephen King brought to light. His existence is hellish and rather existential, through others actions he can never fully rest in peace as he is constantly unearthed. Even when he is not the antagonist the series finds a way to drag him into the mess; in what is the most dissociated film in the franchise, with a new setting and killer is Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (Danny Steinmann, 1985). In the film Tommy is sent to Pinehurst Halfway House to recover from his childhood trauma, whilst he is there a series of mysterious killings occur. Instead of the hockey mask machete-wielding killer being Jason it is in fact a disgruntled father who is out for revenge for his son’s untimely death.

After ‘A New Beginning’ came Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives (Tom McLoughlin, 1986) which sees Jason being accidentally resurrected from his grave. When Tommy returns to Jason’s grave years later he is overcome with anger and stabs Jason with a metal fence post. However as the post hits Jason a bolt of lightning strikes and revives a now immortal Jason. Similarly, another accidental reviving occurs in both Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood (John Carl Buechler, 1988) and Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (Rob Hedden, 1989). In both films repeat occurrences happen where Jason is involuntarily awoken and then goes on a rampage with a sense of angered dread, due to the repetitive nature of his life cycle. It seems that the universe disallows Jason to remain dead. The characters wince that Jason is after them, but it is their actions that unwittingly cause the vicious pattern.

Quite ironically in the ninth film Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday (Adam Marcus, 1993) Jason lives on due to a coroner biting his heart, causing him to possess said coroner; living on in the coroner’s body. However in what is quite the twist of fate, the repetitive ending of Jason ‘being dead’ is given a new lease of life, with the ending hinting at what would be an iconic meeting between two horror legends. The final frame shows a dog digging at Jason’s buried mask before A Nightmare on Elm Street’s own Freddy Kreuger pulls the mask down into hell.

Before we are introduced to the crossover film we have Jason X (Jim Issac, 2001). This is probably the most convoluted film of the series, with its adventurous sci-fi tone somehow combining slasher with space. Jason X definitely has divided opinions, with many devoted fans feeling confused as to why there needed to be such a drastic alteration from the usual time and place and others seeing it as a cult classic that bends audience expectations. In terms of Jason himself, nothing immediately differs from his archetypal persona in space. Instead where we see a shift in motion is in the series current penultimate film Freddy vs. Jason (Ronny Yu, 2003).

Freddy vs. Jason is highly entertaining, with the two characters showcasing a brutal spectacular series of violently glorious kills across a group of unsuspecting teens. The film shows a ruthless Jason who rises from the earth when Freddy impersonates his mother, in order to manipulate him into coming back to life. Freddy has Pamela tell Jason that he never died, he was just sleeping and that he should go to Elm Street as “the children have been very bad on Elm Street”. Here it’s confirmed that Jason is acting on a means to obey and order via his mother’s wishes; he only seeks to punish as it’s what his only beloved trustee believes. It’s clear that Jason’s hellish fate derived from his attachment issues with his mother. He has remained a child mentally, with his mother having a psychologically overbearing influence for his whole existence.

It seems that Friday the 13th will never come to a conclusive end, with the final film so far – Friday the 13th (Marcus Nispel, 2009) latently repeating the pattern all over again. This film is a remake of the first and disregards all the previous entries. The ending remains eerily similar to the original, with Jason lurching out one more time in a lake at the final girl. Devastatingly enough the repeating of final frames indicate that the process has started all over again.

Jason is corruptly entangled with his obsolete moral compass focused on him and his mother’s neurotic relationship together. His unfortunate trauma has never faded and no matter what ill-conceived acts he commits it’s difficult to feel hatred towards him. Somehow we are routing for Jason the majority of time, with his victims seeming rather disposable and unworthy of true survivor status. Pamela will always have a hold on Jason and will always encourage his murderous tendencies, leading to a vicious cycle where he must live forever to kill.

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