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4 May 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 - What You Make It



Every year, Dead by Dawn wows with its collection of feature premiers, but it also lays a sturdy framework for the showcasing of varied horror-related shorts in its What You Make It programme. 2015 was as intriguing a collection as ever.

Father/Son by Bryan Reisberg 2012
A young man brings his girlfriend on a hunter trip to introduce her to his father. Its simple but not laden with the kinds of anxious frivolity you’d expect, there’s a definite edge to proceedings, a palpable doom on the air. A lack of scoring leaves much of the film feeling like an exposé, which it is, in a boisterous kind of way. In 11 minutes, Reisberg manages to succinctly address a tight group of themes in a few perfect images, proving a succinct distaste for the traditional view of male/female relationships. Yul Vazquez is an immense source of charm and creepiness in equal measure, playing on a set of nightmares reserved for the male subconscious.

Narratively the film pulls a neat, fitting, and truly barbarous twist after a seemingly long and uncomfortable stretch of cross-generational grooming. Father/Son is nothing if not a warning against patriarchal structures but it’s also a serenely played mockumentary on what happens under them. A truly graceful turn in grotesquery from Reisberg.


My Shadow Mocks Me by Jack McGinity 2014
Amidst a long list of editorial credits lies My Shadow Mocks Me, the sole directorial duty of Jack McGinity. It’s a pretty perfect little macabre story about a dog seemingly pushing a child to do awful things. It’s not situational though, the story is told through long exposure to eerie images, the crushing waves of the sea, a desolate beach, paw prints in the sand, everything is evoked through the nice marriage of narration, image, and Andy Stewart’s uncomfortable void sounds.

McGinity’s choice of images are ominous in an old-fashioned way but totally menacing. Old portraits and stark black and white landscapes tell much of the story, whilst the child’s voiceover ramps up the creepiness. Kudos to McGinity for being bold and getting an infant to say ‘gorge on our innards’, but some of this is perhaps trying too hard to be creepy. Even then, some of the images and dialogue are so uncomfortably funny that they manage a chill nonetheless.


Out of Order by David Renton 2014
The only animated film to be found wandering outside the 2D & Deranged Short Animation Programme, Out of Order is a likeable venture into odd psychotropic surrealism. A bearded man returns to his home with the week’s food shopping, only to be confronted by the vestiges of last week’s treats.

Obviously, Dead by Dawn has a long, colourful, and varied relationship with horror and death. Out of Order isn’t exactly a horror piece, but it’s definitely got a strange alienating vibe, one that leaves us uncomfortable as much as it has us smirking at its silliness. Starting off in crisp playful black and white, the film takes a nose-dive into crazy-territory that proves a vibrant feast. The bright schizophrenic colouring, along with Naz Malik’s decrepit sound makes an arresting spectacle from the monotony of food-storage. Renton deserves some kind of trophy for his vengeful Pure Imagination-warbling moustachioed bagel, an equally arresting piece of cabaret in and of itself. Silliness isn’t necessarily bad, especially in horror where the visuals and themes are often so densely macabre that a break in tension is a must-need. Renton’s Out of Order is a short, imaginative, funny, and sickly treat.


In Passing by Alan Miller 2013
A man jumps from a very high building only to meet the love of his life on the way down. It’s some feat, a short film that follows two people on their way down the side of a romantically lit skyscraper. Miller deserves some recognition not just for the technically impressive scope of his short, but the effortless way he manages to pull off the suicide tale without an ounce of horror, grotesquery, or gore.

If anything, Miller’s film is as hopeful, romantic, and endearing a horror short as one could hope to see, but I can’t help feeling a splat would have been lovely. Ignoring the inevitable end of this innately violent venture is wise and daring because it genuinely tries to look for love in the least expected places. It’s a genuinely charming and oddly optimistic tale. Add that this is Miller’s Graduate Thesis Film and you can see why he’s talent to look out for.

Interior. Familia. By Gerard Quinto, Esteve Soler, David Torras, written by Esteve Soler 2014
A mother and father wake their son urgently in the night to confess some long held truths. Quinto, Soler, and Torras deliver a cathartic (for parents) nightmare from the twisted logic of family honesty, love, and truth. Francesc Orella and Rosa Cadafalch, seem to be having a hoot terrorizing their son with their icky and vaguely aggressive admissions. Blatant honesty is orchestrated with all the heart and subtly of a news report: being told you are the product of a failed ‘coitus interuptus’ can’t be easy, especially when it’s being said so blasé. Shit. That’s some horrific and brain melting stuff to hear at half four in the morning from your aging parents.

More hilarious than Orella’s subtle discomfort at some of his wife’s admissions is Adria Diaz’ utter shock, horror, and ultimate sorrow at his parents indifferent affections. The second parent-related horror of What You Make It, Interior. Familia. is laugh-out-loud horror from a situation you never want to find yourself in.


Rat Pack Rat by Todd Rohal 2014
Winning the Special Jury Prize for ‘Originality of Vision’ at Sundance 2014, Rat Pack Rat also won the audience award for Best Short at Dead by Dawn 2015. Rohal is an inconsistent talent, conceptually ambitious and worrying visions, paired with often lame humour, make him an odd but interesting talent. His entry for ABC’s of Death 2, P-P-P-P Scary! was easily the worst of the bunch, showing little consideration or tact in a warbled mess of stuttering japes and silly execution. But here, Rohal proves a far more consistent writer/director.


In Rat Pack Rat, a Sammy Davis Jr. impersonator is hired to perform for a bedridden Rat Pack fan, but the performance turns into one of the least glamourous of his career. Basically, if you want to watch Rohal vent some kind of deep-seated issue with impersonators through a gross lens, then this is your film. 19 minutes of sickly Milky Way oddity, heart-maggots, prostitution, and genuinely charming vocal performance leave Rat Pack Rat an odd, distasteful, but totally watchable little nightmare. Rat Pack Rat has that blatant lack of taste in P-P-P-P Scary, but in a more directed way. It feels like pseudo John Waters with less tact, there’s a slice of Lynch in there somewhere too, but overall it’s a unique experience in the realm of shock well-worth a look. 

Scott Clark

4 May 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 - Cub


Genre:
Horror
Distributor:
Altitude Film Distribution
Rating: 18
Screened:
Dead By Dawn 2015
DVD Release Date:
July/August 2015 (UK)
Director:
Jonas Govaerts
Cast:
Maurice Luijten, Evelien Bosmans, Titus De Voogdt

At the screening of Jonas Govaerts’ Cub, Dead by Dawn festival director Adele Hartley voiced her belief that the Belgians are making some of the most fucked up films out there. Cub isn't exactly an argument against that. Where De Poel took a quietly-mounting thriller route, Cub takes the camping sub-genre on a comparatively bombastic journey of adventurous violence, proving that the woods are not quite done as a horror locale.

In it, a group of young scouts are taken deep into the woods by their three adolescent councilors. A lonely boy named Sam (Maurice Luijten) does his best to join in but finds the mystery of Kai, a local monster, far more intriguing.

After a sharp and excellently played intro the film goes on to tell one of the most enjoyable and inventive woods-related horrors in years. Cub stands out because it exploits a growing trend of violence towards children, making the violence far weightier but ensuring the children are more substantial characters. An interesting network of power plays between adults and children enforce the disturbing notion of cyclical violence to an often horrific finale.

Another key strength in the film is its eye for great images, the giant wicker wasps’ nest Kai calls home is an incredible sight, as is the filthy underground network of tunnels which come into play for the finale. Cub is a film about forgotten children and it makes its point with equally forgotten places. The dense underground is clearly an adult’s den, where the dream-like hive is almost defiantly a child’s. The camp has its own dangerous boundaries, ones that spell doom for those who cross them, but also those who live by them.

Jon Watts Clown surprised me with its graphic violence towards children, but Cub reserves its right until the perfect moment, when Govaerts orchestrates a moment of horror so casually you wonder if you missed something. But that’s the case with much of the film: information is drip-fed so that the audience is left to join up some of the dots, a rare trick in contemporary slashers, but a welcome one nonetheless. Sure the film wobbles in its last act, seemingly just to prove a labored point, but there’s enough treats here to make it worth your while.

Jonas Govaerts manages to craft a sharp and original take on the woods-slasher in his impressive debut feature. Great kills, power plays, and a terrific performance from Luijten keep Cub on edge from start to finish.

★★★★
Scott Clark


4 May 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 review - De Poel


Genre:
Horror
Screened:
Dead By Dawn 2015
Rating:15
Director:
Chris W.Mitchell
Cast:
Katja Herbers, Alex Hendrickx, Gijs Scholten van Aschat,


Easily one of Dead by Dawn 2015’s stand-out films, De Poel is a finely tuned masterclass in mounting tension. Director Chris W. Mitchell’s debut feature is an impressive piece of work on all counts, engaging Horror’s age-old love affair with woodland terror in a consistently intriguing objectiveness.
The story is simple: two families set up camp next to a beautiful pond only to fall prey to its sadistic memories. Horror has a long history of haunted places rubbing off on innocent people, pulling their discretions to the forefront and charging them individually for a lifetime of sin. If When Animals Dream is this year’s abstract monster story, then Chris W. Mitchell’s De Poel is by all means an abstract witch story. Yet, films like De Poel are instantly suffused with intrigue because they don’t care about the how and why, relegating the possible witch-drowning origin to a brief flashback. Instead, Mitchell focuses on the slowly growing animosity in the two holidaying families; picking out flirtations, old disputes, and underlying anxiety to exploit further down the line.
                De Poel is about family first and foremost, about expectation and trust so, naturally, it leads to madness and murder. An excellent cast support the film, but Carine Crutzen and Gijs Sholten van Aschat steal the show as a middle aged couple finally pushed to confront their crumbling marriage. Aschat proves an incredible force in the feature propelling it forward with his tactile portrait of a man in the throes of sinister forces, his writing credit on the film can only have helped. Mitchell’s tight scripting is performed to perfection so that it feels like we’re watching a gothic holiday drama gone to hell as opposed to an out-and-out horror film.  There’s something vaguely transcendent about De Poel, in genre terms.
Make no mistake though, there is plenty to be scared of. With apparent ease De Poel achieves an eeriness often skipped in contemporary horror films, ramping up the tension to nightmarish degrees. Careful investigation leant Mitchel’s script a great collection of folk fairy tale iconography. Organic manipulation of the intimate scenario leaves room for plenty great horror images. Rotting food, peripheral glimpses, visitors in the night, it all reeks of death and quickly becomes a distressing atmosphere possessed of dread. De Poel is a diabolic entity, unrelenting and merciless, its idyllic origins made murky by proximity to human evil, its finale proves a surprising but bold transformation from other like films.

A concise and organic horror film that feels fresh and, most importantly, unsettling. Chris W Mitchell’s debut feature is a joyous celebration of horror without getting caught up in dull iconography. Fantastic filmmaking.

★★★★
Scott Clark



29 April 2015

DVD Review - 50 Shades Of Erotica


Genre:
Documentary, Erotica
Distributor:
Nucleus Films
Rating: 18
DVD Release Date:
13th April 2015 (UK)
Director:
Marc Morris,Jake West
Buy:Fifty Shades of Erotica

"'The Libertine' comes across incredibly, with wry humour and taste". This quote which plays at the end of the trailer for the erotic comedy The Libertine (1968), is taken from the society and fashion bible Harper's Bazaar - a magazine which would now unlikely admit the existence of such 'soft porn' films, let alone deign to give to give them coverage. But then tastes in film, and the media’s coverage of the arts in general, have changed in many ways since the heyday of the sex comedy and free love during the 1960s and 1970s. 50 Shades of Erotica, the new release from distributor Nucleus Films, - which opens by playing the full trailer for Italian director Pasquale Festa Campanile's The Libertine - highlights these changes in public mores by showing trailers for a series of erotic films from the 1960s to the modern day. Watching them now many, though considered controversial at the time of their release, would likely have difficulty raising an eyebrow let alone anything else amongst today's more 'sophisticated' audiences.

Take for instance The Story of O (1975) - a dramatisation of author Dominique Aury's shocking bestseller, the content of which could be seen as having more than a passing influence on the recent publishing phenomenon Fifty Shades of Grey and the copious copycat novels which have followed in the wake of its success. As with many of these kind of films - most of which would fall within the 'soft' as opposed to 'hard' core porn bracket - there is actually little, at least in the trailer, to cause offence: most what's on display is so shrouded behind silks, muslins and potted plants, that only the most desperate voyeur could find anything truly arousing. Instead the main purpose of this film, as with the others featured in 50 Shades of Erotica, is titillation. Those included also show that, even within the erotic film genre, the entries can be wide and varied, including such gems as the fantasy / Sci-fi adventure Gwendoline (1984), historical drama Justine de Sade (1972), the romantic Camille 2000 (1969) or comedic Frivolous Lola (1998).

Some films featured actors and actresses who's names like the productions they appeared in are lost to obscurity. Others starred personalities such as Pia Zadora (in the crime drama Butterfly (1982)) or Corrine Cléry (The Story of O) who went on to greater things: Cléry would later have a minor but memorable role as Hugo Drax's female assistant who comes to an unpleasant end in the James Bond adventure Moonraker (1979). The appearance of such screen legends as Charlotte Rampling, Dirk Bogarde and Orson Welles in films like The Night Porter (1974) and Butterfly, as well as lending the subject a degree of acceptability, also proves that no matter how big their star, actors and actresses are never afraid to try anything once if it brings them publicity or boosts a flagging career

You may question the legitimacy of a release which amounts to little more than two hours of trailers for some obscure films catering to viewers of entertainment with questionable content - highlighted by the popularity of such films as Salon Kitty (1976) - a classic of the 'Nazi Sexploitation' sub-genre - directed by Tinto Brass, or the notorious The Night Porter which mixed sadism with Nazi overtones. The placement of such films within period settings, could be seen as an attempt to make them acceptable as 'art'. That however is generally little more than an excuse, as they are mostly watched by audiences for the sole purpose of getting some form of sexual kick. However, considering that 50 Shades of Erotica is produced by Marc Morris and Jake West, the duo behind the recent documentary Video Nasties: Draconian Days (2014), a DVD thats aim is clearly to provoke debate should hardly come as a surprise, and should perhaps even be welcomed.

The DVDs extras includes a poster gallery of all the films featured.

★★★
Cleaver Patterson

29 April 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 Review - When Animals Dream(2014)



Genre:
Drama, Horror
Distributor:
Altitude Film Distribution
Rating:18
DVD Release Date:
1st June 2015 (UK)
Screened:
Dead By Dawn 2015
Director:
Jonas Alexander Arnby
Cast:
Lars Mikkelsen, Sonia Suhl, Sonja Richter

One of the most interesting aspects of being a horror fan is getting to see the continual resurrection of classic monsters. It feels like an offense to call Jonas Alexander Arnby’s When Animals Dream a monster film, but it’s essentially an abstract version of a classic story; fresh and clean, with a great sense of subtle iconography.
Small town ignorance, conservative values, puberty, death, and sins of the mother prove a potent but studied group of interests for the odd stoicism of Arnby’s vision. Sonja Suhl is terrific, channelling the innocence and charm of a beautiful outsider, only to prove she has no qualms getting Carrie-nasty for “quiet girl” vengeance. Importantly, Arnby makes the film more about the promise of violence from the community than the inevitable transformation in Marie. From the start Marie seems to be undergoing some kind of social gauntlet, dealing with the stigma of her mother’s mysterious illness whilst surviving the copious male aggression in her small sea-side town. As with many puberty-related horror films, the dangers of her condition are consistently outmatched and amplified by the world around her. It’s an interesting parallel to Paul Wright’s For Those in Peril, an equally pessimistic film about sea-side communities and destructive superstition.
Visually the film is consistently haunting and serene. The harsh light of day spells danger for Marie and her family, where safety only arrives with total darkness. Fantastic shots of artificial light in the early hours always spell doom for someone, extending Arby’s cynicism towards attempts to control nature.
Though the film often rests on Suhl’s quiet performance, Lars Mikkelsen is an equally huge and important component of the piece, playing a torn and fraught figure locked between the demise of his wife and the slow submission of his daughter to the same terrible curse. Arnby is wise to tell us as little as possible start to finish, letting us enjoy the quiet but charged politics of an introverted community, whilst putting us in the same bamboozled position as Marie.


A slow but mysterious venture: When Animals Dream is a haunted film; tired at the fact it’s still dealing with an aggressive patriarchy but triumphant in its remoulding of genre mythos.

★★★★
Scott Clark


29 April 2015

Dead by Dawn 2015 Review - Tusk


Genre:
Horror,Comedy
Distributor:
Sony Pictures HE
Rating: 15
DVD Release Date:
8th June 2015 (UK)
Screened:
Dead By Dawn 2015
Director:
Kevin Smith
Cast:
Michael Parks, Justin Long, Genesis Rodriguez, Haley Joel Osment, Harley Morenstein
Buy:Tusk [DVD]


Kevin Smith is one brazen son of a gun. His first foray into horror, Tusk is a tricky sell, too silly to be scary, to nihilistic to be widely enjoyed. But screw it, this isn’t about making flavour of the month, Smith’s latest is bold as far as genre mash-ups go. Tusk mashes rural craziness with body horror, ultra-nihilism, and laugh-out-loud silliness to create a truly unique feature. It’s a searing shot of monstrous black comedy that’s made for the thicker skinned viewer.

Wallace (Justin Long) is a successful podcaster and a bit of an asshole, travelling to Canada for a tasteless interview. After the interview is cancelled, Wallace contacts Howard Howe (Michael Parks), an old recluse living in an ancient house who just wants to share the stories of his seafaring adventures. Soon, Wallace is at the whim of a madman with an unfortunate obsession with Walrus.
Michael Parks is the heart and soul of the film, committing 100% to one of modern horror’s best nutters. A close thematic relation to Dieter Laser’s terrifying Dr Heiter in The Human Centipede, Howe proves a far deeper, more gripping, and worryingly likable character. Long is actually superb as a prime caricature of American success, but as a viewer it’s impossible to deny Parks’ gravitas in the pair’s shared screen time. The preposterous narrative benefits hugely from Park’s careful and charismatic performance along with Smith’s dialogue, which is in turns barmy and touching. Without Parks’ long stretches of storytelling, Tusk could have proved a one-trick pony, and even though the story will seem increasingly tenuous, Smith’s characters prove worthy anchors for the plot.
               
There’s plenty of stuff that’s relatively off: the attempt to build a mysterious love triangle falls flat and a certain celebrity cameo pushes the Inspector Clouseau thing so far it threatens to snap the film’s integrity. There are dumb-sized plot holes that could piss you off, but it’s more bother than it’s worth to get stuck in them. Sure, legs get severed with outrageous ease, Walrus fights are daft, and the resolution may leave some exasperated, but I guess its tough shit. This is an experiment in contemporary gothic informed by a brisk and cynical look at paparazzi culture and the animosity between America and Canada. Its bombastic, shameless, stupid, and oddly beautiful. It’s a story about a crazy old man who wants to turn folk into animals via horrific mutilation, and it’s hilarious.

Tusk is unapologetically nuts, sometimes stupid, but always enjoyable. Michael Parks is utterly superb, Smith’s dialogue deserves to be quoted for years to come, and bonus points to Justin Long, whose guttural screams will haunt my dreams forever.

★★★★
Scott Clark


28 April 2015

Viewers to get 'Savaged' on Horror Channel this May

Horror Channel’s film highlights for May includes the UK TV premiere for director Michael S. Ojeda’s provocative and compelling SAVAGED, Saturday 16 May @ 22:55

The Crow meets I Spit On Your Grave in a viciously gory supernatural shocker made in 2013 by Michael S.Ojeda. Travelling across country to be with her fiancé, deaf mute Zoe (the entrancing Amanda Adrienne) stumbles on a horrific crime. Zoe’s brave attempt to intervene seals her fate; she's brutalized and left for dead. When an Indian shaman finds her clinging to life in a shallow grave he attempts to save her – but in the mystical process the spirit of an ancient Apache warrior enters her corpse hell-bent on revenge. But can she slaughter the men who attacked her in time before her body decomposes completely?

Read Our review from 2014 Glasgow Film 4 Frightfest review of Savaged here.

There are also UK TV premieres for Daniel Benmayor’s heart-pumping slasher PAINTBALL and Martin Barnewitz’s chilling prequel toThe Messengers’ – MESSENGERS 2: SCARECROW

Fri 15 May @ 21:00 – PAINTBALL (2009) * UK TV Premiere

Eight strangers engaged in an intense game of experts-only paintball find their friendly game taking a terrifying turn when one of the team begins playing by a different set of rules. What was once a team sport has become a relentless struggle for individual survival as the combatants gradually come to realize that their greatest adversary may be the very game they set out to play. This fast-paced tale of trigger terrors is directed by Daniel Benmayor and stars Brendan Mackey, Jennifer Matter and Patrick Regis.

Fri 1 May @ 21:00 – MESSENGERS 2: SACRECROW (2009) - *UK TV Premiere

In this prequel to the Pang Brothers' terrifying debut, the eerie backstory of farmer John Rollins (Norman Reedus) plays out in all its bone-chilling glory. Doing what he believes must be done in order to save his family and livelihood, John places an odd scarecrow among his crops and promptly reaps the benefits. But not for long. Produced by the celebrated Ghosthouse Pictures (30 Days of Night, Drag Me To Hell), this is one hayride best not taken alone. Directed by Martin Barnewitz and co-starring Heather Stephens & Claire Holt.

Plus, there are Network premieres for Peter Burger’s supernatural inker The Tattooist, Toby Wilkins’ fast-paced parasite thriller Splinter and Richard Gray’s Mine Games, a tense time-twister that packs an explosive punch.

Fri 8 May @ 21.00 – MINE GAMES (2012) *Network Premiere

A group of friends travel up to a cabin located deep within the forest. Shortly after arriving, they stumble across an abandoned mine and decide to explore the dark and mysterious tunnels. As the group hikes deeper within the mine, they make a shocking discovery that quickly turns their excitement into fear. Hunted by a mysterious force, the group must work together to escape the mine alive. This terrifying trip into unchartered hell stars: Briana Evigan, Ethan Peck and Julianna Guill. Directed by Richard Grey

Sat 23 May @ 22:45 – THE TATTOOIST (2007) *Network Premiere

A talented tattoo artist (Jason Behr) discovers that his attempt to master the ‘Samoan tatau’ tradition has awakened a vengeful supernatural force. In his devastating journey into Pacific mysticism, Jake must find a way to save his new love, Sina (Mia Black) and recover his own soul. This superior and compelling tale of tattoos, murders and ultimate redemption is the debut feature of ‘Bloodlines’ director Peter Burger and also stars Nathaniel Lees and Robbie Magasiva.

Fri 30 May @ 22:50 – SPLINTER (2008) *Network Premiere

Polly Watt (Jill Wagner) and boyfriend Seth Belzer (Paulo Costanzo) are on a road trip when they're carjacked and kidnapped by low-rent crooks Dennis Farell (Shea Whigham) and Lacey Belisle (Rachel Krebs). Plotting their next move, they find themselves in deeper trouble than any of them could have imagined -- a blood-crazed, parasitic creature that absorbs the corpses of its victims has the two couples in its sights. Finding shelter at an abandoned gas station, they must use their wits and every weapon at their disposal to stave off the onslaught, not only from the insatiable creature, but also each other. This a fun-filled, visually-captivating slaughterfest directed by Toby Wilkins (The Grudge 3)



TV: Sky 319 / Virgin 149 / Freesat 138 | Freeview 70
www.horrorchannel.co.uk | twitter.com/horror_channel

27 April 2015

Clownsploitation



For me clowns have never been scary, just odd. For the horror genre, clowns are an easy fix, ready made monsters building increasingly ominous public relations with a dubious audience. Last year American Horror Story; Freakshow pulled clowns into the spotlight with the macabre Twisty. Jon Watts’ Clown has already kicked of 2015 with its graphic, but considered, remoulding of clown mythos, whilst the poster for Gil Kenan’s Poltergeist update is shameless clownsploitation. The remake of Stephen King’s IT has been announced and supposedly bogged down in a 6-month hunt for the new Pennywise. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of killer clowns, but why?

Ronald in 1963
Firstly, clowns are perfectly poised to embrace a darker reading, so it’s no surprise there’s been a flip in public opinion. The clown is granted certain rights to behave in a transgressive manner, his history of over-blown exaggeration, childish sentiment, and disturbing mood swings a socially alienating display. All of it performed through a disguise. As a race, we’re not overly comfortable with masks and makeup since they obscure the face, making it harder to read. In a clown’s case the make-up is meant to offset the behaviours and facial expressions, purposefully drawing attention to the conflict of emotions. Pair this with the clown’s specificity to children and it’s like instant-mix monstrosity. So I wonder, really, when were clowns ok?

I also wonder what the public reaction was to Ronald McDonald when he first appeared back in 1963. With his soda-cup nose and food-tray hat, he was arguably the first televised commercial clown- besides Bozo. He probably didn’t act as creepy as Burger King’s ‘Creepy King’ in the 2003-2011 ads, though. The famous Burger King adverts are a masterclass in how to make your brand as recognisable as possible for all the wrong reasons. In them, The King appears in passive aggressive silence to accost folks with food. Ronald never got up to this kind of nauseating eeriness, but it calls into question the idea of a mascot in general, especially a clown.

R. McDonald Patent
Though perhaps not purposefully eerie, Ronald is a thing of questionable origin. Clowning is a full performance, a thing meant to be respected and admired on many levels but it’s been robbed of its nuances. The make-up and outfit were originally exaggerated to be seen at the backs of large crowds and sound usually accompanied movement. It seems unsurprising that face-to face confrontation with this larger-than-life persona would become uncomfortable. But remove the clown from its home environment, strip away the many levels of performance, and you remove a dimension leaving the clown a 2D TV advert. Even the patented image of Ronald McDonald submitted in 1963 is startlingly eerie. Ronald didn’t ruin clowns, but the low-res 2D image of him might have.


Screen Clowns


Pennywise kicked off a whole generation of Clown-fear

Say what you like, but the clown is now a horror icon, tellingly earning a place in the climactic “revenge of horror” sequence from Cabin in the Woods. The horror genre pegged clowns’ potential for nightmarish stardom early on. Tobe Hooper’s classic 1982 film Poltergeist famously brought clown terror home in the form of that doll. The 1990 TV adaptation of IT seems to have cemented
the clown in the public conscious and become the killer clown. Tim Curry’s performance as Pennywise is arguably the perfect case study in the sub-genre because in actual fact the threat of IT is an amorphous otherworldly being who takes on the guise of whatever its victim fears most. Its default setting is Curry’s camp-as-Christmas loony, hinting that clown-fear is the common fear amongst the children. So even the most famous evil clown isn’t even a clown! It’s a thing that exploits the history of the clown to terrify or lure depending on its prey. Though, two years before IT visualised King’s Lovecraftian terror, Killer Klowns from Outer Space crafted a pop bubble-gum sci-fi adventure out of our relationship with clowns. Killer Klowns seems somewhat dumbfounded, citing them as space creatures in an attempt to point out just how abnormal they and their collective iconography really are.

Captain Spaulding
Indy horror flicks kept the beating heart of clown horror alive through the 90’s, until Rob Zombie’s debut feature House of a Thousand Corpses in 2003. In it, Sid Haig plays sadistic carnie Captain Spaulding, a deep-south House of Horrors host and member of a Manson-esque family of sadistic killers. An animal in or out of make-up, oddly likeable in his blatant insanity, terrifying in his brutality, Spaulding is a very contemporary kind of killer clown. In her essay for Horror After 
9/11, Linnie Blake cites Zombie’s creation as the embodiment of hillbilly horror; a kind of blue collar under-dog rising up to consume middle-America.

Zombie followed up this psychedelic cult jigsaw puzzle with his far superior horror road movie The Devil’s Rejects. In it, Spaulding’s anarchic behaviours seem born of a similar rage to those of The Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, embodying a kind of post 9/11 self-consuming nihilism. The terrorist slant on Ledger’s Joker, along with the amplified psychosis and terrifying public displays of apathy, only helped to put stock behind our uneasy relationship with clowns. No scene better encompasses this unease, perhaps, than the film’s bank-heist opening. In it, Ledger’s Joker moves anonymously amongst a group of clown-masked robbers, only to orchestrate their deaths, and reveal himself as wearing even creepier clown make-up under the mask. The fear we have as an audience stems directly from the fear that even once the make-up is removed and the disguise is lifted, we are still left with a monster.
The Joker

2015 has seen the release of Watts’ Clown, an Eli Roth-produced monster flick with some surprisingly horrific moments of violence towards kids. The perpetrator? A loving father slowly transforming into a child-eating monster after donning a demon clown’s skin suit. Clown even goes back, Rare Exports style, to incept an ancient demonic origin for the clown costume and make the outfit a carrier of evil. Wisely the whole film plays off just how odd clown iconography is, very similarly to Killer Klowns from Outer Space, it’s just less interested in making us laugh. Exploiting a growing trend, Clown fulfils the promise of violence to children in some wholly gruesome ways.

It doesn’t matter how many clowns we see on the screen though, because we’ve already accepted the clown as an archetype of terror, like a scarecrow or a zombie or a vampire, the clown now has its own language and representations in the real world. The immersive world of zombie role play has guaranteed flesh-eating undead their place in the canon for years to come, but that doesn’t come close to the possible grounding of clown fear.

True Crime Clowns

Clowns got a bad rap, we got that down now. Putting deep-seated psychological discomfort towards disguises aside, and ignoring the haunting cinematic representation of clowns, there’s a much darker and frankly more unsettling idea at the heart of clown horror.


Gacy as Pogo
In the 70’s John Wayne Gacy murdered some 30 young men and buried their corpses under the crawl-space of his house. It’s a famous story now, the man-hunter who performed as a clown at children’s hospitals. Awkwardly, Gacy never wore his make-up whilst killing, but the public like to imagine he did because it would make more sense. In 2012 James Holmes stood up in the middle of a screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire on the audience, killing 12 people. It was the largest shooting in Colorado history since the Columbine disaster of 1999. When the police apprehended Holmes, he had dyed orange hair and allegedly identified himself as The Joker.

Movies don’t make people kill. It’s impossible for a film to make a sound-minded person go out and murder people, but Holmes’ case does prove the allure of the clown’s anarchic side, or the willingness to dump transgressive behaviours on the character.

Here in the UK, operation Yewtree, the ongoing apprehension of unchallenged sex-offenders, is revealing something awful about the permissive persona of the entertainer. Jimmy Saville’s once glimmering public opinion poll has collapsed under the strain of his innumerable and graphic offences against children. His hair, cigar, and outfits now the costume of high-profile sex offender. Though it isn’t a direct feed into clown terror, it’s part and parcel of the public view towards entertainers in privileged positions. Saville was widely respected for years as a children’s entertainer, but his hospital visits have racked up more offences than Gacy’s ever did. It’s shaken the foundation of British opinion, and the numbers are still tallying.

Google creepy clown and a hundred pages of hear-say will flood the screen. Chicago 2008: a clown is seen all over town, approaching kids in play parks, standing on street corners, the news has a field day warning people about a man carrying balloons, he’s also driving a white mini-van. The event seems questionable; no one reports any crimes, just as they didn’t when it happened back in 1981 in Boston. Surely both are just resurgent memories of Gacy, acted out by fresh-faced newbies to their home city’s bloody history?


The Northampton Clown

The Northampton clown, an eerie but otherwise harmless character, popped up mid-2013 and officialised himself via Facebook on Friday 13th of September after months of standing on street corners creeping townsfolk out. Despite the hopes and dreams of a thousand horror fans, he certified his good-natured prank as simply that, a prank. Check out the Killer Clown on YouTube to see some wholly upsetting clown-related scares but know that 5 French teens were arrested for forming a weapon-wielding anti-clown brigade in the wake of those prank clown appearances. Now fear of clowns is inciting “vigilante justice”? Images spread via social networking do most of the work for the clown, our repertoire of horror iconography fires into gear along with that primordial distrust. Though social media cuts away the third engrossing dimension of clowning, it doesn’t help that people are actively feeding the fire of the “killer clown”.

The transformation from innocent entertainer to monster has come with years of clowning around in the horror genre and proximity to macabre crimes. Each event adds to a tapestry of references that make clowns a faster shorthand for chaos and deviant behaviour than anything else. Real life stories of clown horror have given grounding to our anxieties, but this repetitive exploitation of the clown has made it totally unknown to us and that’s the problem. When reduced to a visual, slapped on products, tweeted, and reblogged, the clown is more anonymous than ever before. On the cinema frontier, Clown seems destined for a franchise, The Return of the Killer Klowns from Outer Space is slated for 2016, and Cary Fakunaga’s IT will eventually find a Pennywise. The future of clown horror seems secure, flourishing even. The future of clowning however seems questionable; the craze of their suspected evil-doing a trans-national hoax spinning wildly and worryingly out of proportion.

SCOTT CLARK



Clown 2015




               
               

                

26 April 2015

Win a copy of World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen on DVD!



Win a copy of World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen on DVD!

The Battle of The Somme marked one of the bloodiest battles in human history wounding and killing 1,000,000 German and Allied soldiers in its wake.

But…there was no winner. Now, 100 years later, a documentary team - led by filmmaker Marcus Singh (Ray Panthaki – 28 Days Later) and Emma Washington (Wendy Glenn – You’re Next) - has travelled to the site to unveil the mysteries that led to that horrendous outcome. But what they unearth is something far worse than they could have imagined – the fallen armies, risen, with an agenda to settle the score.

World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen is out to own on DVD and Blu-ray from 4th May.

'World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen' works on so many levels. It's scary, its gory and has the right amount of British wit & humour to make it one of the most fun and entertaining Zombie films in ages. The cast work so well together and make you genuinely care what happens to them as they fight for their lives against some truly nasty flesh-eaters.

Its all out zombie war that will keep you on the edge of your seat, or peering from behind the sofa, throughout.

To win a copy of World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen on DVD please answer the following question...

Q.What Danny Dyer film did  World War Dead: Rise of the Fallen co-director Bart Ruspoli Star, write and co-produce ?




Deadline is Sunday  19th May 2015 (23:59pm),If you haven’t done already Like us and stay with us at our Facebook page (if you are already liking us just share this post on twitter and facebook). Must be 18  or older to enter.

1.The competition is not opened to employees, family, friends of The Peoples Movies,Anchor Bay Films . All Rights Reserved Pictures.18 years or older to enter 3.Failure to include any information required to enter could result in your entry been void.  4.automated entries are not allowed and will be disqualified, which could result you been banned, DO NOT INCLUDE telephone numbers as for security reason your entry will be deleted.5.If you are friend or like us at facebook for every competition you enter you get double entry, but you must stay friend/like us all the time,or future entries maybe considered one entry if you are liking us share the post on facebook and re-tweet the post.6.The Peoples Movies, Cinehouse takes no responsibility for delayed, lost, stolen prizes 7.Prizes may take from days to a few months for delivery which is out of our control so please do not complain 8.The winning entries will be picked at random and contacted by email for postal details and will be announced via facebook, sometimes we are unable to confirm winners. Uk & Irish entries only

UK Competitions and Prize Draws at UKwins
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24 April 2015

MUBI Selects - Friday 24th April 2015



The weekend is over, time to relax, wind down after the hard slog of the week.Refuel your brain with sophistication andour latest selection of  MUBI Selects.

In our latest weekly 'Mubi Selects' we've teamed with MUBI the purveyors of great cinema online curating a great selection of cult, classic, independent, and award-winning movies. It's an international community discovering wonderful intelligent thought provoking films MUBI is your passport to those great films.

MUBI unleash great new films every week and in our MUBI Selects we've picked  a selection of those great movies  help you enjoy that lazy weekend you desire...

I Love Beijing (2000)| Ning Ying

Asia and China especially have delivered some intriguing filmmakers Ning Ying is one of the '5th Generation' however she hasn't attracted the fame that other 5th generation like Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige. She is more modest but some say more naturalistic visionary of her country finding the bleakness, the hope and the toll of modernisation of China.Its a tale of wandering Beijing Taxi driver who drives the streets adrift aimlessly adrift looking for women like Beijing looking for its identity as tradition fades, future uncertain. I love Beijing may have not aged well but captures the emptiness of life in that decade.


Youth Of The Beast (1963) | Seijun Suzuki
He's was given the boilerplate of action but gave the world satire pop-art gangster films, Seijun Suzuki helped mould the 'Yakuza' movie.Japanese New Wave? Possibly,brutality that came with the urban myth of the Yakuza can be seen here but you feel it was a production made under constant state of agitation. Youth Of The Beast tells the tale of a mysterious stranger who muscles his way into rival gangs in The Tokyo underworld which is now overan with violence. Flamboyant, absurd,hallucinatory, trademark Suzuki.


The Conformist (1970) | Bernardo Bertolucci

Masterpiece is the first thing anyone says when someone mentions The Conformist.It's Italian filmmaking goes French New Wave in the perfect example of wartorn Italy and the power of ideology. As a weak man becomes a patsy of fascism sent out to assassinate is old teacher a now political dissident. Beautiful cinematography a style that would inspire many great films that followed this from Godfather to Blade Runner.


Why not give up on those expensive chain coffees once a while, to enjoy the weekend and every day great films at MUBI? click below to get more info on the other fantastic films on offer...

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