Dead Meat (2004). Mixing chills with thrills, Conor McMahon's Dead Meat is an Irish comedy horror in the same vein as Shaun of the Dead or Boy Eats Girl. The first horror film to be funded by the Irish Film Board, it features a twisted tale of zombies, mad cows and cannibalism, oh my. After accidently hitting a man with their car, Helena and her husband bundle the body into their car and continue on their way. What with this being a zombie movie though, the body doesn’t stay dead and attacks Helena’s husband. Making a run for it, Helena stumbles across an isolated farm and battles a few of its undead inhabitants before teaming up with a local farmer and a small group of survivors to try and stay alive through the night. With quite a dark and unnerving opening, Dead Meat soon veers into overtly comedic territory, but that shouldn’t put you off. This is a film that wears its fun loving and bloodied heart plainly on its sleeve all the way to its surprisingly downbeat ending that recalls the best of George Romero.
Isolation (2005). Luckless and struggling farmer Dan (John Lynch) is so desperate for cash he allows a scientist to perform ‘cutting edge’ experiments on his cattle that will ensure they breed more copiously and speedily. The experiments have horrific side effects however and Dan and a small group of people including a vet, a scientist and a runaway couple find themselves facing something more deadly than just your average ‘mad cow.’ Sounding rather like an Irish and more bovine-orientated version of Black Sheep, Billy O’Brien's Isolation plays out as a dark cautionary tale warning against the dangers of venturing too far into the murky realms of science. Taking itself quite seriously the film does manage to muster a fair degree of tension and shocks, given the potentially laughable premise. The slow-build, dread soaked atmosphere eventually segues into a high-octane monster movie-esque final act, with a genuinely creepy beast picking off an ever diminishing cast. One by bloody one.
The Eternal: Kiss of the Mummy (1998). A lose adaptation of Bram Stoker’s ‘Jewel of Seven Stars’, The Eternal was Michael Almereyda’s follow up to the haunting vampire pic Nadja. Troubled alcoholic couple Nora and Jim, together with their son Jim Jr., leave their New York home to go and stay with Nora’s Irish relatives in, you’ve guessed it, Ireland. They go to stay at Nora’s childhood home and are welcomed by her bedridden grandmother and her blind uncle Bill (Christopher Walken, sporting a rather dubious Oirish accent). Uncle Bill is in the midst of studying a centuries old Druid priestess whose bog-preserved corpse is kept in the family cellar. After Bill revives the corpse, she begins to appear to the other family members as an eerie doppelganger of Nora. With an emphasis on atmosphere and characterisation, The Eternal has a rather languid pace that ensures it creeps under your skin all the more effectively. Substituting Egyptology for Celtic Druidry, Almereyda successfully evokes a strangely ethereal atmosphere. The bog-stained priestess makes for an unusual antagonist and an interesting alternative to the more typical Egyptian mummy wrapped in bandages. An atmospheric and hauntingly melancholic film.
The Company of Wolves (1984). Ok, quite a tenuous connection here as this isn’t, strictly speaking, an Irish film, but it is directed by Neil Jordon, who is perhaps the closest thing Ireland has to a resident genre director. Having dabbled in horror several times throughout his career, Jordon directed the likes of Interview with the Vampire and In Dreams. Neither of these can match the eerie beauty or disturbing high Gothicism of The Company of Wolves. Co-written by Angela Carter and based on several of her short stories from The Bloody Chamber, The Company of Wolves provocatively unravels as a feverish metaphor for the blossoming of a young girl’s burgeoning sexuality and her subsequent loss of innocence. After the death of her sister, Rosaleen stays with her Grandmother (Angela Lansbury) who tells her cautionary tales of strange mono-browed men who turn wild during the full moon, and the dangers of cavorting with such gents.
The film unfolds as dreams within dreams and stories within stories. The studio-bound locations enhance the surrealism and fairytale imagery. Breathtaking and utterly atmospheric.
|The Company of Wolves|
I interviewed Shrooms’ writer Pearse Elliot a while ago. Click here to read the interview over at eatmybrains.com
For even more Oirish chills, check out Francis Ford Coppola's debut film, Dementia 13... Its really rather good. Cheers.