Showing posts from 2019

Cromwell Stone

An alien riddle from award-winning writer and graphic artist Andreas, fully collected in English for the first time by Titan Comics.

The last survivors of a mysterious sea voyage have begun to disappear in unnerving ways, and eponymous hero Cromwell Stone must solve the mystery before it catches up with him. The truth rests on an otherworldly key stolen from that ship, which will set him on a darker, stranger path...

To read my review of this collection of graphic stories, head over to Exquisite Terror.

Under the Shadow (2016)

Under the Shadow is the slow-burning and intensely creepy feature directorial debut of Iranian filmmaker Babak Anvari. It is ripe with socio-political commentary. And utterly terrifying. Utilising a culturally specific entity from Iranian mythology, Anvari confronts uncomfortable truths of certain cultural realities, particularly those experienced by women. By setting the story in Tehran during the Iran–Iraq War (1980–1988), when the city was repeatedly targeted by airstrikes in which thousands of civilians lost their lives, Anvari also addresses the traumatic realities faced by ordinary people living in a war-torn society.

When her doctor husband is suddenly transferred to treat the injured at the frontlines, Shideh (Narges Rashidi) and her young daughter Dorsa (Avin Manshadi) remain at home. As missile attacks on the city occur almost daily, mother and daughter spend long periods of time in the bomb shelter beneath their building. Their relationship soon becomes strained as the stre…

Crawl (2019)

With Haute Tension (Switchblade Romance [2003]), director Alexandre Aja supplied one of the most intense and stressful home-invasion horrors of the 21st century and instigated a wave of transgressive, brutally violent French films collectively known as New French Extremity cinema. Crawl, while nowhere near as searing as Aja’s early work, does see him return to home-invasion territory; albeit with an irresistible man vs nature element. Truly refreshing in its minimalism and back to basics approach, it boasts a rollicking and extraordinarily simple premise (it’s a concept movie, basically): when a massive hurricane hits their small Florida town, Haley (Kaya Scodelario), her father Dave (Barry Pepper) and their dog Sugar (Cso-Cso) find themselves trapped in their basement and have to contend with rapidly rising floodwaters and several giant alligators.

The screenplay by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen takes what is familiar, mundane and even sentimental (a family home, full of memories, bot…

Curtains (1983)

When she has herself committed to a psychiatric hospital to prepare for a film role, Samantha Sherwood (Samantha Eggar) is abandoned there by treacherous director Jonathan Stryker (John Vernon), who then invites six other actresses to an isolated mansion to audition for the role. One by one, they are stalked and murdered by a mysterious killer sporting a creepy old crone mask and seemingly seeking revenge...

Curtains is an interesting, if not always effective slasher film that possesses a few untypical aspects, such as an older cast, higher production values, snide asides at the superficiality of the film industry and celebrity culture, and some light commentary on the downside of over-ambition. The first act focuses on the duplicitous actions of Samantha as she is determined to snatch that starring role. When it appears she actually slips into catatonia during her stay at the facility, and is abandoned by the director, the stage is set for murder and mayhem as the action relocates to…

Color Out of Space (2019)

"There was something of stolid resignation about them all, as if they walked half in another world between lines of nameless guards to a certain and familiar doom." HP Lovecraft, Color Out of Space.

Adapted from a short story by HP Lovecraft, Color Out of Space marks the return of cult director Richard Stanley, whose last directorial feature was Dust Devil in 1992, though in the interim he has also directed documentaries, short films and written/doctored screenplays, including creepy doppelganger chiller, The Abandoned (2006).

There have been many filmic adaptions of Lovecraft’s work throughout the years, most notably from director Stuart Gordon, who proved quite deft in treading the line between the sort of pulpy exploitation and hallucinatory cosmic horror Lovecraft is renowned for. Lovecraft’s work has often been described as ‘unfilmable’ as his narratives tend to focus on conjuring atmosphere, and describing the dread and fear felt by his narrators. Many of his stories c…

The Flesh and the Fiends (1960)

This month marks the centenary of cult screen legend Donald Pleasence, and to celebrate I went along to a special screening of The Flesh and the Fiends as part of the BFI’s Projecting the Archive series.

Based on the Burke and Hare murders that horrified early 19th century Edinburgh, The Flesh and the Fiends blends morbid gallows humour with violence, shrewd socio-political commentary, and a dank and sombre atmosphere. When he cannot legally obtain cadavers for his research, Dr Knox (Peter Cushing) turns to resurrectionists Burke and Hare (Donald Pleasence and George Rose), who use whatever means necessary to ensure the corpses they procure are as fresh as can be... including murder!

While the dark deeds of these nefarious individuals have been adapted for cinema quite a few times throughout the years - Burke and Hare (2010), The Body Snatcher(1945), I Sell the Dead (2009) - The Flesh and the Fiends stands out due to vivid performances from Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasence, George Ros…

Giallo Book Update

I have contributed to a new Spanish language book on Italian giallo films. Giallo: crimen sexualidad y estilo en el cine de género italiano (Giallo: Crime, Sexuality and Style in Italian Genre Cinema) is the latest publication from Buenos Aires-based Colectivo Rutemberg (Rutemberg Collective), a multidisciplinary group of artists, journalists, academics and writers dedicated to the creation of audio-visual and journalistic content. This publication, which features work from over 20 authors from Latin America and Europe, is particularly unique as it is the first ever Latin American book solely dedicated to Italian genre cinema, with a specific focus on the giallo.

Edited by Natalio Pagés, Álvaro Bretal & Carlos Pagés, Giallo: crimen sexualidad y estilo en el cine de género italiano features content on many of the filmmakers who are renowned for their contributions to the giallo: there are essays on the work of Dario Argento, Sergio Martino, Lucio Fulci, Luciano Ercoli, Mario Bava,…

Book Update: Review by Emily Turner

The latest review of my Devil’s Advocates book on The Company of Wolves comes courtesy of journalist and academic, Emily Turner. According to Turner, 'Gracey is adept at identifying key themes in the 1984 film and exploring them in an accessible but thorough manner, forging links between images and ideas, and wider theoretical concepts [...] a useful and interesting overview of the myriad references and inspirations which conjured the film from the minds of Jordan and Carter.'

I’ve copied the full review below, and you can also check it out over at Emily’s blog...

Cinematic lycanthropy and monstrous femininity: a review of James Gracey’s The Company of Wolves 
By Emily Turner

The Company of Wolves is a title in Auteur Publishing’s Devil’s Advocate series, which showcases a range of critical approaches to horror cinema. James Gracey’s text explores how the 1984 Neil Jordan film of the same name evokes fairy tales, horror, werewolf films, Freudian symbolism, and the Female Gothic…