A short introduction to day three’s events and activities. A further round up of the day is to be filmed soon.
A short introduction to day three’s events and activities. A further round up of the day is to be filmed soon.
A message to directors of Resolution Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson following on from their hilarious pre-taped introduction to the film shown at #Abertoir2012
Some further stuff on how things are progressing at #Abertoir2012 Day Two.
An introduction to day two of #Abertoir2012 plus a little discussion of Danger 5 and Manborg (chanting optional).
A quick message from Hayley and myself about what you can expect from our #Abertoir2012 coverage.
Tomorrow I am off to Aberystwyth for a jam-packed six days of horror goodness. I am also lucky enough to be involved in covering the festival with fellow horror blogger Hayley with coverage set to range from footage of talks and a Rocky Horror themed party to on-the-ground video reviews and reactions from festival-goers. Very excited (and truth be told, a little nervous) about all this and hope that people will be interested in what we produce. At the moment it is likely that I will be reblogging from Hayley’s blog, that can be accessed via this link to save on time spent uploading videos to two different computers. Should also have some written reviews following the festival after I’ve recovered too. Keep an eye on my twitter account (@caitlynmdowns) for bite-size morsels of what’s currently happening.
All in all I can’t wait for the festival and to share the experience with readers. I hope you’ll enjoy it. Check out Abertoir for a full list of films, talks and stage shows that will be covered.
Due to the allhorror.net site not currently up I’ve decided to post this review here for now. Hopefully, in time it’ll go up over there too. I was lucky enough to see this film on Saturday as part of Abertoir and Chapter Arts team up over the Halloween weekend, culminating in a showing of The Evil Dead and Before Dawn tomorrow night (go to abertoir.co.uk/events/cardiff for more information – there is still time to book!). This showing was only the second screening in the UK before it hit Celluloid Screams the day after, so pretty excited to be doing a review for it.
Director/Writer: Steve Stone
Starring: Dervla Kirwan, Charlotte Riley & Michael David Worden
Entity follows Kate (Charlotte Riley) a producer/presenter working on a programme called ‘Darkest Secrets’, aiming to investigate the mysterious discovery of a mass burial ground, along with members of her team Matt (Rupert Hill) and David (Oliver Jackson). The team are also joined by psychic Ruth Peacock (Dervla Kirwan) who serves to lead them to the site and also provide some contact with the deceased in an attempt to discover what happened to them, while Yuri Levkov (Branko Tomovic), has his own, darker reasons for participating in the investigation.
If anything can plunge horror fans into despair at the moment, it’s the arrival of yet another found footage film. Luckily, director of Entity Steve Stone, despite looking to programmes like Most Haunted for inspiration has made a film that utilises the more effective elements of found footage, while still creating a film without the usual trappings of the sub-genre. This is achieved through the switching between the first-person shaky-cam style and the more conventional filming style so you’re not left reaching for sick bags from being shaken around for the full run-time. What this does, however, is make the inevitable shaky-cam segments all the more effective.
It is refreshing to watch a low-budget that does not suffer from a weak link amongst its actors, with all playing their respective parts well and with subtle nods to character pasts and motives without having to explicitly tell the audience all about their backgrounds. It is no wonder that the film has already secured distribution as it cuts straight to what horror audiences really like and keeps the action moving. The haunting performance of Michael David Worden as Mischka is incredible, considering Worden’s relative lack of experience and adds greatly to the atmosphere. It does subvert some common horror tropes by refusing to follow a character’s reaction to something in the distance with a reverse shot, meaning that the suspense is kept up and the Entity is not always revealed completely to the audience.
With director Stone’s background in digital art there is an expectation that the focus will be on impressive visuals and while the visuals of the asylum where much of the action takes place are suitably daunting, the sound design is the real heart of the film. It is, without a doubt, one of the best uses of sound in an independent feature that I have experienced. The cinema rumbled and creaked along with the film asylum and frequently built to borderline painful ear-piercing screeches that put the audience in the same space as the on-screen characters.
I would give it a very strong 5 out of 5 and urge people to check out the website http://www.entitythemovie.com for more information and forthcoming screenings. For the sake of a better experience I would strongly suggest seeing it in a cinema if possible, just to be able to ‘feel’ that sound.
With my pass already purchased for Abertoir in Aberystwyth from the 6th to the 11th of November I’ve been impatiently counting down the days. Luckily, Abertoir are a great bunch of people who believe in horror all year around and for the first time are venturing outside Aberystwyth for a few horror-filled days to Cardiff Chapter Arts Centre from October 26th to the 31st. Full details are available from the Abertoir site. One of the most exciting things for me personally though is the chance to see The Evil Dead on the big screen at Halloween.
My reaction is pretty much summed up by a simple gif:
I’m going to start this blog by just stating that I’ve still yet to see a huge number of portmanteau or ‘anthology’ horrors but due to being excited about V/H/S wanted to take a look at those I’ve enjoyed most. I’m grateful to any lovely people who can suggest any others to watch, either on the comments here, or on Twitter @caitd5. Likelihood of spoilers is pretty high.
Arguably the first portmanteau horror is Dead of Night and despite its release in 1945 is still thought of highly to this day. It does hold up well, threading together the stories, blended with elements of comedy and the ever-spooky ventriloquist dummy and builds towards a shocking climax. It sets the scene for future portmanteau films by weaving together the stories in an interesting way, preventing what could be a simple film gimmick into a successful, enjoyable and yes, at times scary piece of work. This pioneering work clearly inspired the work of Amicus studios throughout the 1970s as they adapted horror comics into films starring some of the biggest names in horror.
One of these comic adaptations is The Vault of Horror and contains my favourite segment of any anthology horror (so far) ‘Midnight Mess’ and also my second favourite ‘The Neat Job’. The framing device for the film involves a group of men (including Dr Who star Tom Baker) entering a lift, that instead of taking them to their desired floor opens out to a basement room where chairs are arranged in a circle. The men all take a seat and begin to tell tales of strange dreams they have had in which they meet their demise. While the content has certainly aged the stories have a camp, dark humour to them and the sense of the grotesque that I really love. The idea of blood on tap, direct from the neck of a still-living human being remains a horrifying idea, as does the frustration and anger of a housewife who, unable to keep up with her husband’s meticulous sorting regimes decides to kill him, chop him up and store him in carefully labelled jars.
The segment ‘The Neat Job’ clearly inspired the Dawn French segment of the Psychoville Halloween segment in which the tale is modernised to include the perils of improper recycling. Creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith use the anthology formula in order to set-up a variety of different stories that would be unable to fit into the Psychoville storylines but still, through a bit of clever writing, manages to further and set-up the second series. It’s a device the pair used alongside Jeremy Dyson and Mark Gatiss for The League of Gentlemen Christmas Special to use some of their characters in a different way while still remaining true to the worlds they have created. Mark Gatiss also used a form of portmanteau story telling in his fantastic series Crooked House, that moves through different times of the house and the effect it has on its inhabitants.
The thing I really love about anthology horrors is that they allow for a wide variety of horror themes. It can deal with the supernatural, serial killers or any other sub-genre of horror in small chunks. Most anthologies include paranoia, revenge, betrayal, grief and obsession which are integral to the nature of horror. For example, in ‘The House That Dripped Blood’, one of the stories concerns a horror author who begins to see his serial killer creation Dominic around the house, often attacking his wife. This theme of obsession and the dark interests of those who work in horror works well as a story opener. The sight of Dominic is one of the more genuinely creepy things within the often camp nature of some of Amicus’ output.
Another great thing about the anthology horror is the line up of cult and horror names involved in the productions. Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Denholm Elliot, Anna Massey, Tom Baker and Vincent Price have all been a part of one or more and the format often allows them to play against type. A good example of which is found in ‘The House That Dripped Blood’ where Christopher Lee appears to be playing the role of a villain before a twist in the tale showcases his talents in a different way. Of course, the performances that conform to their usual roles are just as fun, with Vincent Price explaining the breeds and cross breeds of various monsters in ‘The Monster Club’ being a particular highlight.
So that’s my little ramble about anthology horrors, inspired by the fact that V/H/S is out soon, the format of which (if successful) could allow new directors to collaborate with others and hone their craft by working on smaller tales, but with the creativity to weave them together. My only problem with V/H/S is that its another found footage film and they really have outworn their welcome, but at least there’s a little change to the format and the handover to a variety of directors should inject some life into the genre. Plus, who can argue with how cool that poster is?
Thanks for reading and as already stated at the start of the blog all suggestions for more anthology horrors are welcomed, either here or on Twitter.
I’ve been terribly inept and neglectful lately due to ongoing work but am going to try and post more regularly from now on. Worst of all I’ve even missed commemorating the 1st birthday of Scared Sheepless by 10 days. So this post will just be a little catch-up type of deal then I can sort some more (hopefully interesting) stuff out for the next few weeks.
Scared Sheepless came directly from my starting to write horror film reviews for AllHorror.net, where I realised that I didn’t just like writing about the films themselves, but rather those things around it. A huge thanks first off to Robin and Julie for being so awesome and not only giving me the opportunity to write for such a great site, but also for recommending Martyrs – a film that still hasn’t left my head. I’ve always had really great responses from people who’ve read the reviews, even if they disagree with what I’ve said, people have always been polite.
So about a year or so ago I was in a little market stall and saw a possessed Regan in bed that had sound and movement and I realised that was the sort of wonderful thing I wanted to write about. Coupled with this is the fact that The Exorcist is one of my favourite films ever (and a fair candidate, I think, for one of the best films ever made) and I came back to find out more about the merchandise and Merchandise Monday was born.
Following on from this I was able to attend my first film festival – Abertoir in Aberystwyth. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many films in such a short amount of time. The Abertoir organisers are great and really do find and showcase some gems. Also met some other wonderful film fans who I’d been able to speak to a little bit on Twitter, but nothing bonds a group of people like heavy drinking at Inn on the Pier. Look out for Moore and Roberts too who are currently doing some great audio/visual reviews. Looking forward to going back again this year to see what will be showcased and hopefully getting some reviewing done. One of the best things to happen as a result of Abertoir and AllHorror was that my review of Some Guy Who Kills People was used in a press piece for Newcastle Cinema…the finished piece is still one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen and I can’t quite believe its my words on there.
Also huge thanks to authors like Jake Bannerman and Julianne Snow (and Sirens Call Publications as a whole) for being so accomodating and being interviewed and doing guest posts for the blog. I’m pleased to say that I’ve yet to encounter anyone unpleasant or difficult in my time of writing stuff, so long may that continue. So with that said, I’m hoping to get back into the blogging and try and include more opinion type pieces. Thanks to everyone who has read or retweeted my reviews or blog entries, it means a lot. Now on to year 2!