There’s something in the water… The Bay ignites one of our worst fears, the dark unknown in the deep depths of the sea. The film opens with a young news presenter retelling the events of a town’s death due to waterborne parasites that feast upon human flesh. The found footage elements push forward confronting graphic effects posed against a scenic seaside town, almost creating a Jaws meets Cabin Fever mashup.
We see a plethora of alternative sides to the tragedy as the film uses the guise of an undercover documentary extracting ‘raw’ footagefrom the victims phones, video calls, and digital cameras. This devastatingly gruesome story entwines a complex eco-horror motive to somewhat expose a possible situation; the overtly realistic portrayal combined with a plausible scenario leaves us with the trembling fear that this terrifying ordeal could come true.
2. Hell House LLC (Stephen Cognetti, 2015)
Hell House LLC follows a group of budding haunted tour creators as they tackle their biggest project yet; the taking over of an abandoned hotel which was supposedly the ground of satanic rituals. Haunted house attractions and Halloween haunts have become staples for avid spooky-seekers, but with such popularity comes an inherent manufacture of extravagant proportions. Suspicious rumours regarding the intentions and reality of these events have risen in recent years as many conspiracists speculate that the body props are real.
So, what if you were to take this gossip and place it within a haunted house narrative. Hell House LLC takes us through the uncovering of what really happened the night that tragedy struck a Halloween haunt. Through the lens of our characters we see one of the scariest of clowns since Pennywise, a hauntingly chilling piano playing on its own, and an array of frightening abandoned rooms. Similar to classic found footage horrors, the film’s footage is primarily ‘lost footage’ unearthed at the scene, creating an immediately unnerving atmosphere when we learn that what we are about to see is entirely ‘real’.
Despite the use of the gimmicky true story trope, Hell House LLC has proven its legacy with the film blossoming two follow up pieces.
3. Lake Mungo (Joel Anderson, 2008)
Lake Mungo follows the Palmer family’s painful journey of grief and understanding after their teenage daughter Alice, traumatically passes. Unlike many other similar ghost stories this film truly roots its effective power within the emotive culmination of anxiety and loss shown frequently across the film. Alice acts as a mysterious figure who we never get to meet, yet are so bound with that we become involved with the Palmer’s dim reality.
Lake Mungo is as much of a mystery drama as it is a horror, thus to avoid spoilers it’s best to take a leap and watch it for yourself. But, one important sting that the film constantly abides by is the lost trick of minimalism to conjure scares. Do not expect bountiful jumps or gore, instead Anderson shows little to expose a lot.
4. Gonjiam: Haunted Asylum (Beom-sik Jeong, 2018)
Gonjiam follows a simple story, a group of internet horror explorers seek out their next big haunt at an abandoned asylum. However, they soon get more than they bargained for after the building’s long haunted history may be true. With a formulaic plot a thorough execution is necessary to create a memorable film.
Gonjiam does just this as we witness unnerving visuals and a biting tension that won’t quit. It’s within the second act where our fear is amplified; the looming dread lingers with the asylum walls coming to life. Similar to Grave Encounters, there is an overwhelming sense of apprehension where we feel that there is no escape from the horror, making Gonjiam a fantastic found footage film.
5. Exhibit A (Dom Rotheroe, 2007)
Exhibit A is a British horror following the life of the King family. This seemingly normal household is harbouring a harrowing secret that is soon exposed. The film flows through the eyes of Judith King, the daughter of the family after she takes it upon herself to start documenting their daily life. The opening scene immediately throws a dark spell upon our expectations with a still of Judith’s camera being labelled as crime scene evidence.
The normality of the King’s day to day life is gradually pulled apart as seemingly mundane comments and events soon become unsettling and grimly motivated. None of these sinister undertones would be possible without the incredible performances. We become entirely immersed in the façade due to the realistic character executions throughout. Exhibit A utilises the ‘kitchen sink’ British realism trope to its full advantage to deliver a distressing tale of deceit and betrayal.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
With the fluency of director Alister Grierson, Bloody Hell has blasted onto the horror scene with an assaultive force cementing its position as being one of this year’s most surprising and devilishly indulging films. Writer ‘Robert Benjamin creates a story dripping with satirical hilarity and brutality, all whilst not falling victim to cheap cliches.
The tour de force that is Bloody Hell takes us on a wild ride as we follow Rex (Ben O’Toole), a recently released convict who unwillingly ends up in a sadistic Finnish family’s basement ready to be feasted upon by one of modern horror’s most barbarous households. However, can Rex’s internal monologue save him from the pits of hell?
It can be said that a film is dominantly character or scenario based, rarely both. Grierson carefully tiptoes between this line through creating an impressive character study without abandoning the richly entertaining narrative. O’Toole craftily carries this film with an incredible performance. We see Rex in two alternative lights, there’s his presentable persona and then his inner discourse whose valiant introspections create a devil’s advocate soliloquy.
Thrusting this rogue ‘bad-boy’ exterior even further is the film’s adventurous take upon what can be a risky sub genre; action horror. It was Rex’s heroic actions straight out of Die Hard that landed him in prison in the first place, and it seems that his time in solitude has only affixed this persona. This innately thrilling allure is what makes Rex the ultimate vigilante, with his fight or flight gutsiness exhibiting what we all wish we had the ability to do in the presence of a Nordic cannibalistic family.
Rex’s jovialness does not wear thin, but let’s not forget to mention the other piece in this twisted puzzle. The torture family trope is not entirely rare within horror, we’re accustomed to uncouth rustic families with an appetite for flesh living in an awfully convenient rural setting. Thus, it’s rare to be taken by surprise. However, we soon learn that this disturbed unit’s dynamics are much more complex than an insatiable appetite for flesh. Quite simply, Rex’s hosts are far from ordinary.
This erratic ruthlessness is not just exhibited through the characters, but also through the stimulating visuals. The sporadic hyper-stylisation is temptingly inviting, from the forthright confrontational cinematography through to the foreboding soundtrack denies the viewer any chance of normality.
This surreal horror warms with an eccentric satirical timing complimenting the surreal elements that are feathered throughout. This aligns with Bloody Hell’s use of frenzied camera work and unorthodox storytelling methods, making this a varied banquet with something for everyone.
Bloody Hell is available to watch via DVD/Blu-ray and VOD right now!
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
Anthology horror can force a hellish crusade of amalgamated visions to ultimately create a blended film artfully formed to deliver a starkly dark piece. Although this seems like a complex myriad to achieve, Dark Whispers (Volume 1) smoothly executes a faultless entry into the anthology horror terrain.
The Australian film consists of ten chilling chapters from across the entire country. With an anthology framework it can be difficult to capture an entire short story from beginning to end without being too brief, yet Dark Whispers (Vol 1) overarching framework allows for each story to shine equally, regardless of its length and overall strength as a standalone piece.
This framing has a simple premise, but it’s an age old tale that works seamlessly. Creator and director Megan Riakos presents ‘The Book of Dark Whispers’. When Clara unearths her mothers secret ‘Book of Dark Whispers’ she discovers that each page contains a cryptically twisted story that promises the most chilling scares.
One of the most noteworthy components across the entire premise is that each and every segment is directed by a female filmmaker. Of course this fact holds bountiful promises within its own right, but to have this revolutionary concept be brought into the world of horror holds a whole achievement on an impressive accord.
Amongst the cast are Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey) and Anthony LaPaglia (Without a Trace) who feature in the segment ‘The Ride’, a darkly comic thriller which was backed by the BBC and Asher Keddie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) who is terrorised by a stalker in the chapter ‘The Intruder’.
Each haunting chapter is woven to express equal measures of devilish hope, delusions and grief, all tied together in a horrific labyrinth. In one particular segment ‘Birthday Girl’ (Angie Black), we see a nervous woman enter into an elevator from hell. Her nerves are only heightened when a somewhat innocent young girl enters the lift with her, however as each floor descends, a parade of questions are thrown upon the woman until she is left in a bumbling mess of mysterious guilt and grief.
The second segment ‘The Man Who Caught a Mermaid’ (Kaitlin Tinker) is possibly one of the most interesting chapters to originate from the entire film. The short film follows a middle aged man with an unorthodox obsession over supposed mermaids. The mockery from fellow townsmen and his wife do not bother him in the slightest as he is entirely convinced that he will be the first person to capture a living breathing mermaid… or so he thinks?
Each chapter not only explores a different topic, some even delve into alternative forms of filmmaking. Gloomy Valentine (Isabel Peppard) uses stop motion animation to portray a rather emotive story following a lost soul attempting to remould her broken heart. Stop motion is not necessarily an unfamiliar technique within horror, but it is rare and more importantly it is very difficult to achieve a strong sense of horror when the audience cannot make that physical connection to the characters. Nevertheless, Gloomy Valentine manages to both tug on the heartstrings all the whilst maintaining a steady sense of creeping unease throughout.
Quite impressively Dark Whispers (Vol 1) was selected for a plethora of festivals, including Berlin Final Girls Film Festival and Cinefest Oz. And it’s no wonder why.
Dark Whispers (Vol 1) is a unique take on the anthology sub-genre that excitedly keeps audiences on the edge of their seat. An eclectic mix of short stories with something for all tastes, as long as those tastes are twisted!.
DARK WHISPERS (Volume 1), releasing on all major digital platforms across the UK and Australia on 25th January 2021.
When the rapidly successful In Search of Darkness (David A. Weiner, 2019) hit screens audiences were gripped by its engrossing take on eighties horror and critics were enthralled by the absorbing and ambitious love letter to what is possibly one of the greatest decades in horror. Thus, it’s no surprise that In Search of Darkness: Part II burst onto the scene with deserved appraisal.
After how much content was covered the first four and half hour entry, it bears the worry that Part II would just be a replica and repetitive. However, what we get instead is a more unique and refreshing film that delves into a variety of horror sub topics and a delightfully varied array of films that combined both well-known classics and some more obscure gems that thrived in the 1980s. The film relies heavily on reminiscence and a nostalgic sensibility, yet there is no bounding exclusivity that confines new spectators to the decade; in fact the film is almost an educative bible for those new to horror, acting as a vivacious horror encyclopaedia.
The four hour long runtime can be intimidating even for seasoned cinema fans, but the film uses cleverly placed sections to not only aid an easy digest for such a long runtime, but to also add depth to the surrounding contexts. As each year is discussed an additional associated topic is presented, with some of the highlighted subjects including the ever present ‘Cinema Horror Italiano- Giallo‘ and the ‘80s Italian Invasion’. Here, we are given a detailed depiction as to why Giallo cinema lingered throughout the decade and how the three maestros ‘Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento and Lamberto Bava’ ruled in power, with their graphically horrifying and pathbreaking filmmaking taking centre stage in their filmography.
Part II takes what worked well in its predecessor and accelerated it; the remarkable line-up consists of some of the biggest contributors within horror, including Tom Atkins, Linnea Quigley, Caroline Williams, John Carpenter, Tom Savini, Joe Dante, Robert Englund, and Cassandra Peterson. This comprehensive cast list had heaps of involvement within eighties horror, introducing a sense of richness to the production, with plenty of behind the scenes knowledge bringing new light to the classics.
Speaking of classics, Part II divulges into a medley of films ranging from slashers to harrowing revenge tales. Rather than solely discussing the big mainstream hits of the decade, we are shown the somewhat forgotten hits such as Alone in the Dark (Jack Sholder, 1982), April Fool’s Day (Fred Walton, 1986), Mother’s Day (Charles Kaufman, 1980), Vamp (Richard Wenk, 1986), and House (Steve Miner, 1985). To accompany each film is an enlightening insight into the cultural context that most of these films were released in.
One particular area that is deeply discussed in relation to Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers (Fred Olen Ray, 1988) is the video nasties. As home video soared so did the number of so-called ‘exploitative’ horror films on the market. Unfortunately, due to a mass moral panic over the British public’s wellbeing, 72 films were banned in the UK over fears of them corrupting children’s minds. Part II divulges into this important era for horror through discussing both the absurdity of the nasties and which films were the most prominent.
The film is clearly a demonstration of dedication to a beloved genre. From the outset a sense of togetherness is displayed, that depicts horror as a one-of-a-kind genre that manifests devoted fan bases and remarkable characters that linger within pop culture. Whether or not you are a diehard eighties fan or a newcomer, In Search of Darkness: Part II has something for everyone.
If you want to be part of the ISOD community check out their YouTube, where they are delivering regular interviews with 80’s legends for their new CLIPSHOW.
We interviewed creator Robin Block and director David A. Weiner back in October 2020, in an exclusive interview for the festival where we played Part I to celebrate the release of Part II.
2020 was a rough year to say the least, whist we saw a brilliant emergence of indie cinema taking centre stage, big budget horror was burdened with delays, reshoots and rescheduled release dates.
Dead Northern brings you a list of 2021 releases to look forward to, here’s hoping for a time not too far away where we can see some great new horror on the big screen!
Last Night in Soho
Edgar Wright is known for his quick witted, dark humour often seen in his beloved smash hits, including Hot Fuzz (2007) and The World’s End (2013), but it seems that his most well known and respected film amongst horror fans is the boundlessly successful Shaun of the Dead (2004). And it seems that Wright has decided to brave the horror genre yet again in his upcoming film, Last Night in Soho.
However, this soon to be success does not tap into comedy to deliver its scares, instead Wright has opted for a more daring psychological horror narrative. Little has been released about the plot, but what we do know is that we follow a young woman who is enthralled by the fashion industry, but when her mysterious journey takes her back in time to 1960sLondon she discovers that everything is not as it seems. Last Night in Soho has an impressive cast lineup as both Anna Taylor-Joy (The VVitch) and Matt Smith (Doctor Who), alongside Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie (Leave No Trace) star in this upcoming dramatic tale ridden with deception and enigmas.
Release date: 23rd April 2021
In 2004 Leigh Whannell and James Wan released the sleeper hit Saw, which soon shook the genre and has since amassed an entire iconic franchise. And 2021 delivers us the ninth instalment in this ever growing series. Similar to its predecessor ‘Jigsaw’ (The Spierig Brothers, 2017) the film will alter its direction to focus upon the police investigation into the excessive, twisted games that Saw is known for. Comedy icon Chris Rock takes the lead role as detective Zeke Banks, with Samuel L. Jackson starring as a respected police veteran. But, no need to panic, this is not a tepid crime mystery. The teaser trailer promises that Jigsaw’s maniacal games will yet again grace our screens. Spiral hints that it will resurrect the charm of the beginning of the series, with the director of Saw 2,3, and 4 Darren Lynn Bousman returning as Spiral’s director.
Release date: 21st May 2021
The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It
When The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013) was released it took the genre by storm, with an entire cinematic universe forming. Therefore, it’s to no surprise that this smash hit of a series was continued, with The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It making its mark as the eighth instalment in the constantly expanding series. The film narrows in on the classic demonic possession trope to elaborate on the real life harrowing trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, who was charged for murder. However, according to Johnson, it was the devil who made him do it. This film is set to be a fresh take on the typical haunted storyline that the cinematic universe follows. Both Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga return as the paranormal investigating duo ‘The Warrens’.
Release date: 4th June 2021
It’s safe to say that Jordan Peele has become a modern horror legend, with both Get Out (2017) and Us (2019) becoming solid favourites amongst both critics and audiences. Peele only furthers this legacy with his latest partnered venture, a sequel to the 1992 classic Candyman (Bernard Rose). To bring such an iconic story back to the big screen requires a fresh look at what made the original so terrifying, and it seems that Peele has found this within Nia DaCosta, who not only directs the film, but also co-wrote it alongside Peele. The trailer promises a macabre, tense and overall chilling reprisal of the Candyman legend. But, what horror aficionados will be looking forward to most is that Tony Todd will be back as the dreaded Candyman.
Release date: 27th August 2021
Don’t Breathe 2
The long awaited sequel to Fede Alvarez’s 2016 horror hit will finally be released this year, with its production being in talks for years. The same tense atmosphere will yet again be captured as Stephen Lang reprises his role as the intriguing Norman Nordstrom, who has become somewhat of an anti-hero since the films release, with audiences taking a liking to his dark and twisted character. Instead of the reverse home invasion route that the first film took, director Rodo Sayagues (who co-wrote Don’t Breathe) focuses upon Nordstrom’s journey into solitude; he has since rescued a young orphan and taken her under his wing. However, their isolated lifestyle in a secluded cabin is soon disrupted when a group of merciless criminals kidnap Nordstroms only companion.
Release date: 13th August 2021
Michael Myers has once again proven his immortality as he strikes Haddonfield once again. The film will pick right up where Halloween (2018) left off, with Laurie (Jamie Lee Curtis), Karen (Judy Greer), and Allyson (Andi Matichak) teaming up as a triple threat against The Shape to finally end the chaos. Halloween Kills will see an exciting revival of characters as both Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards) return as disgruntled adults traumatised from their childhood experiences of Myers wrath. Quite interestingly Halloween Kills is not a solo story, instead we will see a focus on Haddonfield’s collective trauma and anger over the community’s dismantlement that Myers has so wilfully caused.
Release date: 15th October 2021
There’s Someone Inside Your House
Just the title alone is enough to bring audiences back to the ever nostalgic teen horrors that made its mark within the late 1990s. There’s Someone Inside Your House is a promising upcoming slasher horror directed by Patrick Brice. Brice’s natural talent for creating an incredibly chilling atmosphere was showcased in Creep (2014), and although both films are on opposite ends of the genre, it’s clear that this sense of eerie mysteriousness will definitely melt into There’s Someone Inside Your House. This film is an adaption of Stephanie Perkins 2017 book of the same title; throughout the story we follow Makani (Sydney Park), a transfer student from Hawaii who is at the centre of a series of ghastly murders.
Release date: February 2021
Run Sweetheart Run
Run Sweetheart Run is based upon a horrendous true story from the director Shana Feste. The film tells the harrowing tale of Cherie (Ella Balinska), a single mother who decides to finally tiptoe back into the dating scene. However, after her boss sets her up on the blind datefrom hell, she has to fight for her life in an after hours L.A. where she cannot trust anyone. The powerful undertones of danger within urban dating for women alludes an unfortunately realistic situation. Early reviews from festival runs hint at Feste’s superb spin on cliched genre tropes, which is only further highlighted by the bold and bloody narrative that is not afraid to imitate thousands of survivors’ stories of trust and betrayal.
Release date: TBC
Clowns and horror go hand in hand, and no clown is more sinister and utterly sadistic than Art the clown. Art’s first appearance originated from Damien Leone’s short films The 9th Circle (2008) and Terrifier (2011). And since then he has featured in four feature films, with the latest being Terrifier 2. The upcoming independent film was primarily funded by an extremely successful Indiegogo campaign, which was aimed to fund impressive effects that Leone has planned. With the success of the campaign and the constant pushing back of release dates fans have never been more excited to see Art do what he does best- completely annihilate. Little has been released about the plot, but the teaser trailer promises an absolute bloodbath.
Release date: TBC
Antlers is a supernatural horror produced by Guillermo Del Toro and directed by Scott Cooper. The film is adapted from writer Nick Antosca’s acclaimed short story ‘The Quiet Boy’. We follow Lucas Weaver (Jeremy T. Thomas), a young school boy whose strange behaviour is soon noticed by his teacher Julia Meadows (Keri Russell), who alongside her brother Paul, the local sheriff (Jesse Plemons) attempt to solve the mystery plaguing Lucas. The trailer showcases a dull town, drowning in monotonous habits. That is until strange occurrences start making themselves known.
Release date: 17th April2021
A Quiet Place Part II
A Quiet Place Part II follows on directly where the first film ended. Evelyn (Emily Blunt) and her three children attempt to survive in an almost post-apocalyptic landscape heaving with sound sensitive beasts and ruthless fellow survivors. Despite John Krasinski’s lack of personal appearances in A Quiet Place Part II, he will still be behind the camera as he returns to the directors chair. However, rather than just follow our four main characters in a desolate universe, we will be introduced to Emmett (Cillian Murphy), who is seemingly Evelyn’s only ally left in the entire world.
Release date: April 2021
Wrong Turn: The Foundation
The Wrong Turn series has been making people fearful of going into the woods for years. But, it seems that no one has listened as we are delivered a seventh instalment in the highly gruesome series. Wrong Turn: The Foundation is a rebootof the very first film that started it all, but with a twist. The trailer introduces us to a group of friends as they brave the Appalachian Trail, only for their expedition to be abruptly ruined when a group of murderous individuals known as ‘The Foundation’ brutally threaten their entire existence. What’s quite interesting however is that this latest take on the backwoods trope has an essence of cult horror that promises to showcase The Foundation as a savage community aiming to harm anything that gets in their sense of union.
Release date: 26th January 2021
Red Dot is a Swedish Netflix original that follows a couple as they brave the night camping in a snowy setting in the mountains of North Sweden. However, the cold seems to be the least of their problems as a random, glowing red dot finds itself following their every move. In this tense horror we will see a sense of isolation and anonymity forming together to disrupt any chance of the audience getting comfortable. The mysterious sniper dot acts as the perfect villain, with no chance of them getting caught.
Release date: 11th February 2021
The Banishing is a gripping horror set in a grand country manor. The naturally haunting setting is reminiscent of classic gothic horror, laden with sweeping foyers and old time’ ghouls. The film follows Marianne (Jessica Brown Findlay), who moves into an ominously dark estate with her husband and young daughter in the 1930s. Director Christopher Smith is no stranger to horror, with him directing both Severance (2006) and Triangle (2009), and his latest venture is sure to be just as much of a smash hit, with boastful reviews flooding in from last year’s festivals.
Release date: 8th April 2021
Horror writer and director Axelle Carolyn brings us The Manor, an eerie supernatural horror following a woman who has been reluctantly moved into a nursing home after suffering a stroke. However, her journey to recovery is cut abruptly short when she convinces herself that a strong paranormal force is preying upon her fellow residents. This film is a part of the Welcome to Blumhouse series released exclusively on Amazon Prime Video and will be released at some point later this year.
Release date: TBC
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
The 1970s were a turning point for horror cinema, with its stylised richness protruding as a primary ground layer for the progression of the genre. Although not as bloodstained as the following decade, the films did ambitiously introduce audiences to a more gruesome and barbaric taste for cinema. It’s this slow burning horror that craftly handled savage imagery alongside sophisticated haunting visuals to create exciting films whose reputation has lingered long within the horror genre.
However, the 1970s were a time of classics that have almost stolen the spotlight off of many underrated films that deserve just as much recognition.
Instead of focusing on the immensely successful Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978), The Exorcist (Willam Friedkin, 1973) and Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) this list will cover the forgotten wonders of such an influential decade.
1. The Blood on Satan’s Claw (Piers Haggard, 1971)
In rural 17th England a small village’s harmonious layout is disrupted when local farm landsman Ralph (Barry Andrews) unearths a decayed unidentified skull within the land. The discovery summons evil to the area, with the youth of the village soon inhabiting the role of devil worshippers to raise hell on earth.
This film belongs to the unholy trinity of folk horror, with the other two films being Witchfinder General (Michael Reeves, 1968) and The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973). Throughout The Blood on Satan’s Claw Haggard attempts to mimic the liberal attitudes from communities of the late 1960s through the metaphorical demonisation of such attitudes. The ‘hippie brigade’ from the prior decade became somewhat of a moral panic, but in reality freedom was their primary motive. And quite literally this film uses the devil worshipping children as the antagonists to mock the rather absurd reserved opinions of the time.
Its not just the critical commentary that makes this film rather significant to seventies horror, its also the haunting use of folk elements to illustrate the horror. There is an essence about rurality that fashions the countryside as being dark and tempting, the rooted soil comes across as mysterious, with the forest being witness to all kinds of satanic rituals over time. The Blood on Satan’s Claw rejuvenates fables as a horrific curse set upon any form of society who is brave enough to set foot on its historical land.
2. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death (John Hancock, 1971)
The film follows Jessica (Zohra Lampert) who has been recently released from a psychiatric institution. To get a fresh start Jessica alongside her husband and a friend move to a secluded farmhouse. After finding the beautiful Emily (Mariclare Costello) already occupying the house Jessica sympathises and invites her in. But, of course it’s not long until the new beginning loses its balance as strange occurrences begin to stir. Let’s Scare Jessica to Death premise is simple at its roots, but the horror that ensues is far from ordinary.
The film builds its tense infrastructure upon the questioning of whether the horrific events are just psychological delusions of Jessica’s, or are they actually threateningly real. Hancock achieves a multi-layered fright fest through the elaborate combinations of evoking visuals as well as a gradual untrusting story path.
The audience question the direction of the film, is Emily’s presence truly evil or is she an innocent young woman being persecuted for unsettling legends. All of this is executed through such a poetic form that gently presents a foreboding horror that seems to leap into true terror out of nowhere shocking audiences and leaving its mark.
3. Don’t Torture a Duckling (Lucio Fulci, 1972)
Don’t Torture a Duckling is a classic Giallo film that follows the sleepy and mystifying town of Accendura in Italy whose occupants have been plagued by a series of child murders. Giallo cinema is richly dense in stunning sights and graphic imagery showcasing alluring women with a wash of vulgarity and voyeurism. Fulci takes these aspects and runs with it, not only does the film showcase these elements, but it also combines a typically unpalatable narrative to create a unique film that excels both visually and narratively. The murder mystery element is not lost amongst the horror as the whodunit aspect remains strong throughout. This rare element of excelling in every aspect is one that Fulci seems to achieve so flawlessly.
Somehow he weeds through the juxtaposed subjective themes of secretive perversion amongst a backdrop of glowing rural Italy with ease. The Giallo movement erupted in the 1970s thanks to Fulci, Argento and Bava. With the archetypal eye trauma, gore and noir-esque quality becoming rites of passage in each film. Yet, Don’t Torture a Duckling drew away from these moulds through the heavy focus of psychological terror of child innocence being corrupted.
4. Sisters (Brian De Palma, 1972)
Legendary director Brian De Palma brings us Sisters, a dark horrific thriller that follows a journalist as attempts to investigate a murder that she witnessed. Sisters is a deeply analytical film that takes clear inspiration from Hitchcock’s auteur framework through the transparent use of voyeurism as a storytelling tool. Despite the clear homage the film is still an elaborate horror within its own right, not only does it feed through a complicated narrative without confusion, De Palma additionally conveys a morbidly lit psychological film that remains incredibly influential.
But one aspect that truly surges the film’s solid reputation as a tour de force within horror is the striking medley of exposition performed through aspects such as split screen, alternating aspect ratio and colour transitioning. This bounds the viewer in a lucid trance whilst watching, all the whilst disrupting any sense of familiarity or ease.
5. Ganja and Hess (Bill Gunn, 1973)
Dr. Hess Green (Duane Jones) is stabbed by an ancient blade that transforms him into a bloodthirsty vampire. Soon after he meets the beautiful young woman Ganja (Marlene Clark), who is yet to know of his dark secret. This film belongs to the extremely underappreciated blaxploitation subgenre of horror. Ganja and Hess is a tale of vampirism through an experimental framework. Unfortunately, the film has been considered dated, with poor cinematography tarnishing its reputation; however to look at it in an alternative light it could be argued that the use of negative space and burnt imagery contributes to the overall feel of the film.
Gunn uses the age old tale of the vampire to portray a love story built upon fractious grounds. It’s this amalgamation of romance and horror that contribute to the surreal avant-garde quality that thrives throughout. This heavily surreal atmosphere makes it a standout film that provides an artistically strong piece of cinema that pushes it ahead of its time. Ganja and Hess certainly stands out due to its arresting tones of addiction and the struggle that inherently accompanies eventual redemption.
6. Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977)
The film follows Henry Spencer (Jack Nance), a doomed factory worker who lives in an industrialised city. His hapless life soon takes a turn for the worse as he attempts to care for his mutant screaming newborn. Eraserhead defies all expectations as the desolate horrid environment encapsulates the hallmark disastrous aesthetics that Lynch so flawlessly pulls off. The film is an exercise of disturbance through a nightmarish world that disavows comfortability and reassurance.
The distorted reality is placed upon the viewer; not once are we sure of the surroundings, everything is the opposite of home and nothing steers away from the bizarre. In retrospect the film is anything but enjoyable, but due to Lynch’s engagingly ineptness we cannot help but stare at the dystopian story presented to us.
7. House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)
House follows a group of schoolgirls as they travel to a country home, however it’s soon discovered that the house is haunted. House is a complete fever dream that toys with the viewers perception of reality throughout the entire film. The generic title and concept is not to be underestimated as it gradually becomes one of the most nightmarishly ambitious films of the entire decade. It uses almost every special effect available at the time including animation, backdrop paintings, collage animation and blue screen.
Alongside, the enigmatic visuals are the deeply laden cinematic storytelling methods. Obayashi was contacted by Toho Co. (producers of Godzilla ) to make a film that mimicked the success of Jaws (Steven Spielberg, 1975). And Obayashi did just that; House was a box office success in Japan, but it was gravely crucified by critics. And it seems that these reviews had somewhat plagued its reputation as the film has seen only a cult status keep it alive.
8. Tourist Trap (David Schmoeller, 1979)
Tourist Trap follows a group of friends as they become stranded at an isolated museum filled with creepy mannequins. Their fate soon takes a turn for the worse when the mannequins seemingly come to life… Tourist Trap owes its ferocity to its clear inspirations from classic gothic horror and road trip films.
However, rather than directy take or use these elements to create a typical horror that has been seen countless times before, Schmoeller twists these tropes to create a horrifying slasher hybrid with dark comic factors thrown in for good measure. The horror within Tourist Trap is highly reliant upon atmosphere and tone, and the dingy setting of a secluded museum immediately sets up a haunting vibe that exemplifies terror.
9. Martin (George A. Romero, 1977)
George A. Romero was one of the most influential horror directors, with his foreboding Night of the Living Dead series being the most iconic zombie franchises of all time. But, for a director as prevalent as Romero, Martin receives so little recognition. The film follows Martin (John Amplas), a young man who is convinced that he is an Old World vampire. And as vampires do he ruthlessly engages in the act of blood drinking. As with most of Romero’s filmography there is a fair share of social commentary as well as generous gore.
The film does not fall victim to the highly conventional portrayal of vampires by romanticising them as some sort of medieval lustful soul. Instead Martin is a pure villain, who despite him being the central character is a twisted depressed man who does not think twice about raping one of his victims. What makes Martin a strong contender within 1970s horror is its balance between presenting the mundane and then switching to provoking horrid scenes within the flick of a switch.
10. Mumsy, Nanny, Sonny and Girly (Freddie Francis, 1970)
The film follows Girly (Vanessa Howard) and her brother Sonny (Howard Trevor) as they lure unsuspecting victims back to their house to Mumsy (Ursula Howells) and Nanny (Pat Heywood) to play a twisted game of happy families. Francis based the film upon a play by Maisie Mosco titled ‘Happy Family’, whose influence remains strong throughout the film.
Francis’s vision of Mosco’s work is criminally underrated as it receives little attention despite its fantastically twisted story that is the groundwork for many psychopathic family based horrors. At the time of release Britain was a divided nation between audiences who encouraged liberal cinema and those who fought against such ‘indecency’. And Francis’s film played with this battle with strong themes of incest and suggestive relationships being hinted at throughout.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
Amongst all the romanticised Christmas films drenched in sparkling lights and cheer is a plethora of gritty horrors ready to pack in some festive dread.
Christmas films have a deep rooted history within ominous themes; one of the most universally celebrated holiday stories is Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol, with ghosts and hauntingly dark scenarios creeping up in every scene. Therefore, it’s only right that horror and Christmas have continued their entwining to create one of the most entertaining and uniquely thrilling sub genres ever created.
With Christmas horror being such a niche corner in a brimming market it can be a task to comb through dozens upon dozens of films to find the best of the bunch. However, with it being the season of giving, we’ve compiled a complete watchlist filled with evil Santa’s, bloody snow, and children who will definitely be on the naughty list.
1. Black Christmas (Bob Clark, 1974)
On the night of their Christmas party a group of sorority sisters are tormented by a series of horridly vicious phone calls by an unknown assailant. There are many factors that make Black Christmas a fantastic film including brutal kills, a wide mix of characters and a cunningly sneaky ending. But the most harrowing moment will always be those chilling phone calls that will linger with you long after watching.
This is arguably one of the most well regarded horrors on this list, with the film spanning two remakes, as well receiving both cult and critical acclaim. This classic has been thought to have been the primary catalyst in kickstarting the slasher film, with rumours circulating that John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) was inspired by Clark’s relentlessly horrifying efforts.
2. P2 (Franck Khalfoun, 2007)
Angela (Rachel Nichols) is a dedicated career driven woman, but due to her habit of working late she is left stranded in a desolate parking lot on Christmas Eve, with a slightly unstable security guard. The age old ‘cat and mouse’ chase is one that will not grow old, of course there are examples that have fallen into the same old trap, but P2 defies stereotypes by amplifying the tension to the extreme. Angela plays a ferocious young woman who does not trample around aimlessly. Instead we see her in a bloody battle where she relentlessly fights with every effort. P2 is definitely a thrilling ride throughout that will not leave you growing tired, not even once.
3. Krampus (Michael Dougherty, 2015)
Krampus follows Max (Emjay Anthony), a hopeful young boy who’s only Christmas wish is to have a happy holiday without his dysfunctional family arguing. However, when the tension meets its boiling point Max rips up his letter to Santa and unknowingly summons the demonic Krampus. The blizzard setting combined with the threat of an evil anthropomorphic creature creates a tenaciously claustrophobic environment that firmly cements a sense of fear amongst the viewer. However, underneath all the eerie chaos is a comically absurd undertone that makes light hearted fun of itself, making Krampus an all around entertaining Christmas watch.
4. Christmas Evil (Lewis Jackson, 1980)
When Harry (Brandon Maggart) was younger he traumatically learnt that Santa was not real, he then takes it upon himself to take on the big role. However, he is met with ridicule and judgement, causing him to go on a rampant killing spree. Christmas Evil does not abandon the plot to focus on the bloodshed. Jackson takes time during the first act to keenly show how Harry’s innocence was destroyed, and then how his turbulent adult life is utterly disturbed and slightly immorally creepy, as he spies on children to decide if they are on his ‘naughty or nice’ list. Since it’s release, the film has become a cult classic, with the tragic tale of Harry’s descent coming across as both sympathetic and unhinged at the same time.
5- Await Further Instructions (Johnny Kevorkian, 2018)
The Milgram’s family Christmas takes a sinister turn when they find themselves trapped in their house by a mysterious force. Sci-fi horror is a difficult topic to get right even at the best of times, but when Christmas is thrown into the mix it would be easy for the film to be a convoluted mess. Yet, Kevorkian delivers a tense ride that twists the audience’s perception on who, or even what to believe. Await Further Instructions is similar to a wild episode of The Twilight Zone where we are compelled right through to the cryptic ending.
6. Body (Dan Berk and Robert Olsen, 2015)
Cali (Alexandra Turshen), Holly (Helen Rogers) and Mel (Lauren Molina) break into a seemingly unoccupied house on Christmas Eve in search of a thrilling festive night of partying. Body is somewhat predictable, with each twist being rather clear. Yet, the execution and build up throughout is ultimately tense and at times confrontational. The situation that the women find themselves in is positively nightmarish and morbidly riveting. Body is a cautionary tale that tiptoes into problematic relevant issues.
7. Silent Night, Deadly Night (Charles E. Sellier Jr., 1984)
After a young boy witnesses his parents murder by an anonymous man wearing a Santa suit, he is sent to an orphanage where his caregivers abuse him. But, later on in life he finds himself in a Santa suit. And it’s this trigger that lets years of pent up aggression rage outwards as he goes on a Yuletide killing spree. Although it may sound like a play-by-play slasher Silent Night, Deadly Night caused uproar, with many campaigns blasting its reputation as being traumatising for children, due to the poster displaying an axe wielding Santa. However, the film’s controversial reputation eventually wore off, with it eventually spanning an entire franchise featuring six films.
8. Red Christmas (Craig Anderson, 2016)
Red Christmas follows a mother’s battle to protect her family after a mysterious stranger takes them down one-by-one. The film stars Dee Wallace in the role of Dianne, the matriarch of the family. Horror fans will recognise Wallace due to her roles in The Hills Have Eyes (1977), The Howling (1981), Cujo (1983) and Critters (1986). Red Christmas captures its sleek look via the vivaciously vibrant lighting that features heavily in the second half, lighting up the scene like a Christmas tree. This independent Australian horror takes the home invasion label and twists it to create a bloody holly jolly story, filled with some of the most barbaric kills.
9. The Children (Tom Shankland, 2008)
A mysterious virus causes a group of young children to violently turn on their parents. This British horror has grown in popularity over the years, however it is nowhere near as acclaimed as it should be. The Children features possibly one of the most juxtaposed villains of all time, Children. The film narrowly questions the judgement of the protagonists, through forcing them to commit taboo violent acts against ‘the innocent’; of course it’s in the name of self defence, but there is still something heinous about small children being the aggressor that disturbs the viewer. Amongst the chaos is an unsettling vibe that is established from the outset, due to the bleak atmosphere airing a sense of tension throughout.
10. Better Watch Out (Chris Peckover, 2016)
Better Watch Out follows Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) who must survive the night whilst protecting a twelve-year-old boy she’s babysitting from intruders. Throughout the film there are stellar performances by both DeJonge and her co-star Levi Miller. DeJonge realistically portrays a teenage girl who is involved in the usual love triangles and family dramas, and Miller eerily gives a stellar performance as a young adolescent with a hidden motive. This film is too easy to spoil, so the less that’s said the better.
11. Anna and the Apocalypse (John McPhail, 2017)
Christmas, zombies, musicals what’s more to like? Anna and the Apocalypse is a genre bending horror that is based on writer Ryan McHenry’s BAFTA nominated short ‘Zombie Musical’ (2010). The film follows Anna (Ella Hunt) and her friends as they battle for survival after zombies flood the small town of Little Haven. The undeniable charm of this catchy musical latches onto viewers, all the whilst packing in some gruesome looking zombies and plenty of jokes throughout. The best way to describe this amalgamation of a movie is if Shaun of the Dead (2004) merged with High School Musical (2006).
12. Dead End (Jean-Baptiste Andrea and Fabrice Canepa, 2003)
Dead End follows the Harrington family as they take a short cut on a long tedious drive to celebrate Christmas. The film is a purposefully discombobulated trip of a story, there is no opportunity to relax and enjoy, as the existential dread and alarming situations startle the viewer at every given chance. Both Lin Shaye and Ray Wise take on the role as a couple in dispute impeccably well, with their brewing woes only making matters more tense. However, the true appeal of the film is found within the potent twists and turns that ruin any hope that the audience may have for the characters.
13. Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (Jalmari Helander, 2010)
Rare Exports is a Finnish fantasy horror dedicated to all things dark and humorous. After an archaeological expedition a deformed Santa is unearthed, but he is not the ‘man with the bag’ that everyone knows. Instead he is a beastly creature hellbent on torturing anyone who steps in his path. What truly makes Rare Exports protrude from the crowd is it’s blunt treatment of dark humour; it’s not afraid to make fun of itself and in turn creates an entertaining watch perfect for those dark winter nights.
14. The Wolf of Snow Hollow (Jim Cummings, 2020)
The Wolf of Snow Hollow is a werewolf story, with a heavy focus on characterisation. We primarily follow John Marshall (played by Cummings), a troubled officer focused on getting to the bottom of the town’s mysterious occurrences. The trials and tribulations of the local police forces effort’s deliver an array of twists and turns that stop the audience from ever becoming certain of a clear path. To top off Cummings impressive affairs, is the immense cinematography that beautifully captures the snow covered landscape.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
Anthology cinema can be described as a linking of shorter separate films via an overall framework. These types of films work in a way that keeps audience’s attention focused and drawn into the appeal of quick multiple stories.
With horror somewhat originating from short folk tales and fables being told by multiple individuals to create one giant mysterious story it is no surprise that the genre commonly works in partnership with an anthology structural composition. In speaking with how anthology horror works on a varietal standpoint rather than a solo platform it can be said that the miscellaneous splintered nature can at times become muddled and non-concurrent. So, to divulge into this stellar sub-genre, here is our list of ten must-see anthology horrors…
1. Dead of Night (1945)
Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti, Basil Dearden, Charles Crichton and Robert Hamer
It has been said that this absolute horror classic is possibly the first anthology horror film. With the Golden Age of Hollywood looming in the background many alternative films were made in counteraction. These films opted for gruesome ghouls and haunting villains, with Dead of Night being one of the classic films from the 1940s. The film follows Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) as he finds himself in a cryptic house in the English countryside where the guests seem all too familiar to him, despite never having met them.
Dead of Night dips into the originator of horror: dreams. As the film drifts from nightmare to nightmare we witness a series of horrible stories ranging from car accidents to haunted mirrors, but the most iconic and familiar story is the tale directed by Alberto Cavalcanti. The Ventriloquist’s Dummy is the prototype of terrifying dolls and dummy’s that filmmakers would be influenced by for years to come. Nothing lingers longer than that unnerving image of Hugo the dummy (Michael Redgrave) staring straight down the camera lens towards the viewer.
2. Creepshow (1982)
Director: George A. Romero.
In continuing with the cardinals of horror anthologies, we have the legendary George A. Romero attempt at anthologies with Creepshow. What makes this film such a paradigm of the genre is its rich knowledge and treatment of horror; every film is laden with frightening iconography and chilling villains. These aspects are mainly thanks to Romero’s evident homage to classic horror comics from EC of the 1950s including ‘The Vault of horror’ and ‘Tales from the Crypt’.
However, Romero was not alone in creating a horror to remember as the renowned Stephen King was heavily involved in the production as well as being the screenplay writer. Alongside King and Romero was also the godfather of special effects, Tom Savini. Savini was responsible for the extraordinarily comic book-like effects throughout the film. Creepshow speaks for itself, but one segment to definitely keep an eye out for is The Crate.
3. V/H/S (2012)
Directors: Adam Wingard, David Bruckner, Ti West, Glenn McQuaid, Joe Swanberg, and the filmmaking collective Radio Silence.
V/H/S is one of the newer additions on this list, with the film storming onto the scene in 2012 with a generally positive consensus. Alongside this the film has become one of three, with V/H/S/2 (2013) and V/H/S Viral (2014) soon following. The narrative is loosely tied by an overarching story of a group of criminals who break into a house to find a mysterious VHS tape, however upon entering they find a dead man in front of a static TV as well as hundreds of anonymous tapes. The terror truly begins when they start to make their way through the videos with each segment being one of the tapes being played. V/H/S cleverly uses the found footage technique to present each of the 5 segments.
As with all anthologies some segments take the limelight and carry the film, this is the case especially with both Amateur Night (David Bruckner) and The Sick Thing That Happened to Emily When She Was Younger (Joe Swanberg). Amateur Night is the first segment and one of the most memorable. It seems that this success continued as the short was made into a feature film in 2016 called Siren (Gregg Bishop). Although Swanberg’s short has not expanded outside of V/H/S, it is possibly the most terrifying and unique segment out of the series; it was filmed as a desktop horror via a webcam setup that positions the viewer closely with the events.
If the idea of desktop horror interests you, check out our previous article all about this latest sub-genre.
4. Three… Extremes (2004)
Directors: Chan-wook Park, Fruit Chan, Takashi Miike.
Three… Extremes does not shy away from disturbing content, with each segment giving equal treatment to both startling visuals and harrowing narratives. The film does not have little or any entire framework where connections between the three sequences are made, instead the shorts are dedicated to celebrating filmmakers from East Asia, with Miike being from Japan, Chan-Wook being from South Korea, and Chan being from China. What this allows is an amalgamation of different cultures coming together in creating a superbly effective horror.
Three…Extremes is entirely memorable, with Chan’s segment being highly significant and even progressing into a feature film with the same cast and story. Dumplings is in fact the most unsettling of the three. However, to allow for the ultimate payoff, it is best to avoid any prior knowledge. But just know that once you realise what is going on, it is too late to ever forget the lingering realisation that Chan so disturbingly achieves,
5. Ghost Stories (2017)
Directors: Andy Nyman, Jeremy Dyson
Dyson and Nyman are no strangers to British horror as Ghost Stories originated from their incredibly successful stage play, alongside this Dyson is the co-creator and writer of the hilarious yet eerie British television series, The League of Gentlemen. Their collaboration makes for an utterly terrifying watch as they explore the inner workings of psychological trauma through a series of dream-like sequences.
The performances by Martin Freeman, Paul Whitehouse, and Alex Lawther, and of course Nyman himself bring the production to life, with their gripping portrayals of individuals on the edge. The stellar acting brings a level of realistic frantic chaos to the table. As with Three… Extremes the less that is said the better, but one detail that can be assured is the tense atmospheric tone will haunt the viewer long after viewing.
6. Tales from the Crypt (1972)
Director: Freddie Francis
Similar to how Creepshow was based upon horror comics, Tales from the Crypt took inspirations from a variety of EC Comics. The film has become a cult classic, with its reputation experiencing continuous growth, and it is apparent as to why. The devilishly macabre tones combined with the remorseless execution allows for an unsettling envelope of dread to be cast over the film.
Alongside this is the impressive cast line-up including Joan Collins and horror legend Peter Cushing. Instead of Francis relying upon these big names to give the film a long-lasting reputation, the stories were adapted to allow for more than just one-dimensional characters, leading to short, yet detailed studies. Tales from the Crypt achieves a perfectly horrid tension that only brews richer with each segment. As these union of shorts combine at the end, a truly dreadful fate for the characters is finally revealed by the Crypt Keeper himself.
7. Cat’s Eye (1985)
Cat’s Eye is Stephen King’s second entry onto this list, with him being the writer of this underrated 1980s classic. The tales are loosely tied together, with an ominous travelling cat being the glue for the three stories. Each segment almost plays out quite realistic with less flamboyant fables than King’s earlier efforts.
Due to this we experience harsher horror where the premise is rather real and effective in gauging a reaction from the audience. But what shines through the most in Cat’s Eye is the morbidly lit humour that peaks in and out, with King heavily playing on the humorous anecdotes that worked so flawlessly in Creepshow.
8- The ABC’s of Death (2012)
Directors: Nacho Vigalondo, Adrian Garcia Bogliano, Ernesto Diaz Espinoza, Marcel Sarmiento, Angela Bettis, Noboru Iguchi, Andrew Traucki, Thomas Malling, Jorge Michel Grau, Yûdai Yamaguchi, Anders Morgenthaler, Timo Tjahjanto, Ti West, Banjong Pisanthanakun, Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani, Simon Rumley, Adam Wingard and Simon Barrett, Srđan Spasojević, Jake West, Lee Hardcastle, Ben Wheatley, Kaare Andrews, Jon Schnepp, Xavier Gens, Jason Eisener, and Yoshihiro Nishimura.
The ABC’s of Death is possibly one of the most unique films on this list as it boasts a total of 28 directors for 26 segments. The premise is simple, each letter of the alphabet is given its own short story, with director Ben Wheatley being assigned the letter U for Unearthed and so and so forth. What this creative concoction results in is a complete barrage of the grisliest tales where a medley of topics and techniques are explored including, Claymation, POV footage, vampires, zombie clowns, body horror and humanoid animals.
The film was released with wide acclaim due to the sheer creativity and atypical composition. This reputation has only continued to grow with two films following the first, both aptly titled ABC’s of Death 2 and ABC’s of Death 2.5. With a variety as wide as The ABC’s of Death there is bound to be something for everyone.
9. Black Sabbath (1963)
Director: Mario Bava
Mario Bava had held his acclaimed reputation as an infamous master of horror, with films such as Blood and Black Lace (1964) and A Bay of Blood (1971) heavily defining his long career. However, a film that has slipped under the radar as time has passed is Black Sabbath. Each of the three segments are all heavily focused on creating a stingingly dark, yet visually pleasing look.
Of course, the film features an array of atmospheres as the characters positions alter within the story. The segment to keep an eye out for the most is the second instalment, The Wurdulak. This section famously features Boris Karloff, who played Universal Pictures original Frankenstein.
10. The Mortuary Collection (2019)
To finish this list is the most recent feature, with it being released only last year. However, within its short time of being released it has soared in popularity with its premiere at the 2019 Fantastic Fest receiving rave reviews. The Mortuary Collection’s overarching framework is substantially present throughout, with each segment tying into the riveting ending.
The film works by interweaving a mix of classic and lesser known urban legends to tell its story. But what truly allows the film to stand out is its vintage overtone that runs throughout, with the main story being acted out in a burgundy and mahogany toned mortuary that emulates a classic haunted vibe straight out of the manors held famous in classic horrors.
This weeks article comes via Grace from Film Overload, you can check out more of her work here.
Grace from Film Overload takes a look at our Saturday evening feature screening of VIDEODROME. Watch this genre defining horror/sci-fi classic at this years festival on 31 October 2020 at 19.00pm. (some spoilers ahead!)
‘Cronenberg’s artistic vision of visceral sensuality, body horror and alluring conspiracies – brings a genre defining classic’
David Cronenberg’s legacy as a genre defining director began when his incredibly influential film Videodrome was released in 1983. Cinema of the 1980s still remains iconic to this day, with Videodrome solidifying its status due to Cronenberg’s artistic vision of visceral sensuality, body horror and alluring conspiracies.
We follow the sordid channel operator Max Renn (James Woods) who specialises in the adult entertainment industry. With audience expectations becoming harder to meet, he searches for something never seen before. Fortunately he stumbles across a seedy show broadcasting extreme torture and violence. However, his new-found show ‘Videodrome’ brings about horrid consequences.
The film also features Debbie Harry, or as some may know her, Blondie. Harry plays the masochistic Nikki Brand who sensationally thrusts Renn’s life into a chaotic oblivion. As with most of Cronenberg’s work Videodrome is not shy to venture into eccentric and surreal topics. The film works as a metaphorical standpoint, alongside the utilisation of horror iconography to create a transcendent experience.
From Cronenberg’s visual perspective we are manically treated to a spontaneous eruption of visceral images exhibiting fleshy horror. As aforementioned body horror is a keen contributor to the film, with blood, guts and gore heavily making an appearance. But it’s the treatment of the body within the film that fashions such a complex visual composition; the themes of violence that come from the channel Videodrome are not afraid to cross the line, with one particular scene exhibiting a human torso being ripped open, graphically exposing each vein and tendon.
Despite the brutal exposure of torture and violence, the film is yet to fall into the satirical gory horror of the eighties. Instead, the act of violence is a simulation to further the film’s powerful allegorical notion.
The film plays its message out via a morbid and torturous atmosphere that has no fear in pushing audiences limitations. At the time television was seen by many as the enemy, the ruthless manipulator causing havoc amongst the young. With the early eighties seemingly dooming the horror market by the video nasty scandal and an influx of graphic and violent horrors being imported across the world, it’s no surprise that the media spread fear. Although from today’s perspective the idea of TV haunting viewers is radically nonsensical, it was once a real ‘emergency’.
Cronenberg utilises and exploits this fear through directly mocking people’s responses to the media. Within Videodrome, this channel that Renn stumbles upon is powerful enough to cause hallucinations and psychically harm. The show is a weapon that can literally cause mass tumours, with the intention that anyone who would want to consume the snuff-like material coming from the channel deserves a fatal end.
Videodrome is a testing film, the characters are not necessarily likeable and the entire play-through is gloomy. Yet, it’s an unforgettable experience that uses its speculative nature and bitter eccentricity to coerce and distort the viewers expectations, making it a must see for all horror fans.
Grace from Film Overload takes a look at our Saturday local feature screening of CHESTERSBERG, made right here in Yorkshire. Watch this horror comedy gem at this years festival on 31 October 2020 at 17.00pm. (some spoilers ahead!)
‘Hilariously gruesome mockumentary with one of the most unique plots to come out of this year’
Bearing tonal resemblance to Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz (2007) and the bloodiness of gory slasher flicks, comes a brilliant tale from Jamie McKellar. We are introduced to the enigmatic Chester Mapleforth (Andy Love), who after procuring a hefty fortune forms the village Chestersberg. But the quaint Yorkshire cul-de-sac holds something quite dark within its territory; murder is entirely justified and legal within the lands’ threshold.
McKellar brings us a hilarious but gruesome mockumentary, with one of the most unique plots to come out of this year. It’s not often that mockumentary cinema works without constant twists and turns, but Chestersberg has a certain simplistic charm that doesn’t confuse and run off topic, with a steady comedic pace and macabre motives that delivers exactly what it says.
Chestersberg brings the best of dark British humour to its forefront, even the most heinous scenes are brought to life with perfectly timed jokes and hilariously surreal characters. In fact this aspect of surrealism is a running theme throughout. The plot is crafted in such a realistic fashion that we almost forget this is entirely satire, plenty of familiar circumstances are strewn out such as town hall meetings and debates about outsiders invading the community. But of course with it being set in Chestersberg, beheading’s, mutilation and gouging constantly comes into play.
McKellar combines the two typically polar opposites of village conundrums with murder to create a hard to fathom surreal environment, yet you can’ stop watching due to its cleverly crafted story.
Chestersbergs distinctive mockumentary disposition works perfectly with the unparalleled distorted reality that plays across the whole run-time. The deliberately exaggerated tone captured in a documentary fashion forms a purposefully raw quality that enhances the aforementioned realistic atmosphere. One of the more prominent aspects that the documentary composition highlights is the wonderfully gross kills and violence.
Within the first introductory minutes we are a witness to a bloody beaten man with one of his eyeballs loosely dangling, nevertheless the humour taps in when Chester interrupts his suffering with the offering of a battenburg slice and a lecture about the importance of sleeping bag togs. Despite the hilariousness seeping in each scene, the impressive special effectsstill remain quite potent.
Now, with quite a rambunctious story comes natural questions ‘how would a town like this actually work?’ Fortunately McKeller soothes our intrigue, with scoping out further than the village boundaries to introduce our secondary group of characters – the law. DI Matthews (Alexander King) plays a rageful officer, disgruntled at the legal loopholes that Chestersberg has played. However, due to the consistent character development and their charismatic personas we somehow are completely on their side. It’s these brief interludes of seemingly more ‘normal characters’ that prevent the film from dragging and keep the absurdity of Chestersberg fresh and charming.
Of course these aspects come to life quite frequently throughout, they even form a large part of the build-up within the film; although a successful job is done at making Chestersberg seem slightly conceivable in a mad sense, it is when the other British murder towns enter the picture does the bloodshed and carnage really come to life. Who would have thought that the inner politics of killing towns would be so interesting?
McKellar delivers an overall exciting watch, with equal amounts of tomfoolery and bloody gags to both disrupt audience expectations, slightly disgust and to more importantly entertain.
Watch CHESTERSBERG at this years festival on 31 October 2020 at 17.00pm.