Saturday, 3 October 2015

Fang of Joy #3

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

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

Pick up a copy here.

Also, if you’re the sort of person who just can’t get enough of Italian gialli (understandable), Mr. Schmidt has just published a book on the subject, which can be obtained here

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Exquisite Terror Sale

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

STARBURST “Fascinating and informative”

BRUTAL AS HELL “Intelligent and enlightening”

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

SEX GORE MUTANTS “Highly recommended”

Monday, 31 August 2015

Waking Nightmares: The Visions of Wes Craven

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

Last House on the Left (1972) was Craven's intensely brutal debut

The Hills Have Eyes (1977) demonstrated what happens when you stray from the path

Deadly Blessing (1981) featured some of Craven's most unnerving imagery and ideas. And starred a fresh-faced Sharon Stone

Swamp Thing (1982)

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) redefined the slasher film

Fred Krueger, a boogeyman for the Eighties

Freddy stalks a sleeping Nancy

Another haunting vision...

Feverish sexual connotations mix with primal fear

Nancy turns her back on fear and denies it power over her

Deadly Friend (1986) was a disappointing remix of 'Frankenstein' for Eighties' teens 

The Serpent & The Rainbow (1988) combined political subtext and voodoo shocks

Shocker (1989) was Craven's attempt to create a new horror icon/franchise

Bloody visions in Shocker (1989)

The People Under the Stairs (1991), a terrifying exploration of class, race and familial strife

Alice through a bloody looking-glass...

Family problems and monstrous mothers in The People Under the Stairs (1991)

Wes Craven's New Nightmare (1994) a postmodern spin on the series and a prelude to Scream

A nod to Tina's death scene from the original film

Krueger appeared 'darker, more evil' in New Nightmare

For Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Craven paired up with Eddie Murphy, who wanted to make a straight horror film, whereas Craven wanted to explore comedy. 

Scream (1996) re-wrote all the rules...

Scream 2 (1997), a fine sequel

Scream 3 (2000) favored chuckles over chills

Scream 4 (2011) proved there was still life in the series

Music of the Heart (1999), surely Craven's most terrifying film...

My Soul to Take (2010) explored familiar themes...

...and images

RIP Wes Craven

RIP Wes Craven (1939-2015)
Filmmaker Wes Craven, best known for intelligent and provocative horror titles such as A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream and The Last House on the Left, has died at the age of 76. He had been diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away at his home in LA, leaving behind his wife Iya Labunka, and his two children Jonathan and Jessica.

Craven’s impact on the landscape of shock cinema came early in his career with searingly gritty and subversive titles such as The Last House on the Left and The Hills Have Eyes. These films presented levels of violence and graphic realism in ways rarely seen before. What became clear though was that despite the brutality of his work, Wes Craven’s films were intelligent and strangely philosophical; he frequently addressed themes such as familial strife, generational conflict, class, race, teenage angst, dreams and man-made monsters. While at college he studied literature and psychology before moving on to earn a Masters in philosophy. Prior to his work as a filmmaker, he was an English teacher. Much like George Romero and David Cronenberg, he was a genre director who approached horror from an intellectual perspective and frequently laced his films with subtext. Craven once said “Horror films don't create fear. They release it”, and throughout his career he addressed the nature of fear, the relationship between horror films and their audiences and the cathartic aspects of violent cinema and how it addresses primordial fears and anxieties.

My introduction to horror, proper, was through Wes Craven. At the not-so-tender age of 16, my dad took me to see Scream. Prior to that I wasn’t overly familiar with the genre. The myriad references to other horror titles in Scream had me racing to the video shop and rifling through the pages of Empire and Shivers. I subsequently discovered classic slashers such as Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th, before delving headlong into their precursors in the work of Mario Bava and Dario Argento. I lapped up the barrage of 90s teen slasher flicks that came in the wake of Scream (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban Legend etc.) and these will always hold a special place in my morbid heart.

In Craven's obituary on the The Guardian's website, Stuart Heritage spoke truth when he said Craven “dictated the genre so confidently no Hollywood horror director isn’t deeply indebted, no audience member left untouched.” Craven has left an indelible mark on horror cinema, and it just won’t be the same without him.

Friday, 31 July 2015

'The Blair Witch Project' - Peter Turner

Few films of any genre have had the influence and impact of The Blair Witch Project (1999). Its arrival was a horror cinema palette-cleanser after a decade of serial killers and postmodern tongue-in-cheek intertextuality, a bare bones ‘found footage’ trend-setter.

In this Devil’s Advocate monograph, Peter Turner tells the story of the film from its conception to its pioneering internet marketing campaign and critical reception. He provides a unique analysis of the mockumentary/non-fiction film-making techniques deployed by the film, its appeal to audiences and the themes that helped make it such an international hit (it made more than $140 million in the US alone). Turner also explores the film's lasting impact on the horror genre with a look at other found footage phenomena, such as the Paranormal Activity series, that followed in the wake of The Blair Witch Project.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my review.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

'Black Sunday' – Martyn Conterio

Devil's Advocates is a book series devoted to exploring the classics of horror cinema. Contributors to Devil's Advocates come from the worlds of academia, journalism and fiction, but all have one thing in common: a passion for the horror film and for sharing that passion.

Each instalment delves into a specific horror film, exploring everything from its conception to its impact on genre cinema and wider popular culture. Titles thus far include Let the Right One In by Anne Billson, Witchfinder General by Ian Cooper, SAW by Benjamin Poole, The Descent by James Marriott and Carrie by Neil Mitchell.

Despite its reputation as one of the greatest and most influential of all horror films, there is surprisingly little literature dedicated to Mario Bava’s Black Sunday (1960), and Martyn Conterio's contribution to the Devil’s Advocates series is the first single book devoted to it.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my review

Monday, 20 July 2015


Dir. Gerard Johnstone

When delinquent Kylie is placed under house arrest after a botched robbery, she is forced to return to her childhood home and the guardianship of her overbearing mother and timid stepfather. A series of strange occurrences lead her to suspect the house is haunted and as she delves into the building’s history, she not only uncovers a darkly tragic past, but shady family secrets.

Beginning as an oddball haunted house yarn, the plot of this New Zealand comedy-horror soon veers off into some very unexpected places; with each twist and turn the well measured pace and careful editing gradually build tension and intrigue, ensuring the viewer is riveted throughout.

A rare gem in genre cinema, Housebound is a comedy-horror that provides well timed laughs alongside genuine shocks, chills and suspense, sometimes in the same scene.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review

Thursday, 9 July 2015

An Evening of Irish Horror

Established in 2010, Belfast’s Wireless Mystery Theatre is an audio theatre company devoted to invoking the spirit of vintage radio suspense plays. Comprised of a small troupe of actors, writers and musicians, their productions incorporate live music and imaginative sound effects with players frequently multi-tasking and acting out different roles.

Their most recent production, An Evening of Irish Horror, was a suitably spooky double-bill featuring adaptations of Sheridan Le Fanu’s classic ghost story ‘Green Tea’ - which tells of a timid clergyman who is hounded by a demonic spectral monkey - and Bram Stoker’s short story, ‘Dracula’s Guest’ - an excised segment from Dracula which documents a creepy encounter between Jonathan Harker and Count Dracula by the grave of the undead Countess Dolingen of Gratz...

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

In Conversation with Composer, Jonathan Snipes

Starry Eyes is the Faustian tale of an ambitious young actress whose encounter with a sinister production company propels her on a harrowing spiral into despair, madness and diabolism, as she attempts to make her dreams of fame a reality. At any cost…

Enhancing the ominous atmosphere is a throbbing electronic score courtesy of LA based composer Jonathan Snipes. An electro love letter to the likes of John Carpenter, Fabio Frizzi, and Goblin, Snipes’ music is the perfect accompaniment to the protagonist’s hellish transformation. According to one critic, “its importance to the film’s ability to disturb cannot be understated.”

With the recent release of the score on vinyl, courtesy of Waxwork Records, I thought it was high time we caught up with Jonathan, who very kindly agreed to an interview about his work on Starry Eyes. 

Head over to Paracinema to read the interview and sample some of the score. 

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Unhallowed Ground

Dir. Russell England

During the 17th century, students of a prestigious school are spared a gruesome death by plague after they ritualistically murder four of their own in a Satanic pact.

In present times, the building is still used as a boarding school, and when it shuts down for midterm holidays, six students from the cadet corps must remain behind to patrol the grounds as part of an initiative in basic military training.

As the night progresses, personal conflicts become apparent within the group, and as they delve deeper into the history of the school, they are beset by increasingly odd occurrences...

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Can't Come Out to Play

Dir. John McNaughton

A couple who attempt to keep their sick son in a completely secluded environment for the sake of his ailing health, find their rigidly controlled and isolated lives intruded upon by a recently orphaned young girl who moves into the house down the lane. What follows is a tale of domestic abuse, desperation and the exhumation of dark family secrets.

An intense domestic psychodrama featuring disarmingly powerful performances from Samantha Morton and Michael Shannon, Can’t Come Out to Play is director John McNaughton’s first feature film in over a decade. While certainly a much more subtle affair than previous offerings such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer and the sublimely trashy thriller Wild Things, it’s no less provocative or compelling.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Remembering Sir Christopher Lee

Rest in Peace, Sir Christopher Lee. The Silver Screen will flicker a little dimmer without your commanding presence, gravitas and dignity.

The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)

Dracula (1958)

The Mummy (1959)

Horror Hotel (1960)

Horror Hotel (1960)

The Whip & The Body (1963)

Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

On set with director Terrence Fisher

The Devil Rides Out (1968)

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

House of Long Shadows (1983) also starred Vincent Price, Peter Cushing & John Carradine

Lord of the Rings Trilogy (2001-2003)

The Hobbit (2012-2014)

His most iconic role... Count Dracula

With dear friend and frequent co-star, Peter Cushing