Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Turn To Gruesomeness In American Horror Films, 1931-1936

Too dreadfully brutal, no matter what the story calls for [...] It carries gruesomeness and cruelty just a little beyond reason or necessity.” Review of Frankenstein, Motion Picture Herald, 1931

The type of picture that brought about censorship.” Review of Mad Love, Motion Picture Herald, 1935

Quite the most unpleasant picture I have ever seen [...] it exploited cruelty for cruelty’s sake.” Review of The Raven, London Daily Telegraph, 1935.

Is the thirties horror film more akin to graphic modern horror than is often thought?

Critics have traditionally characterized classic horror by its use of shadow and suggestion. Yet the graphic nature of early 1930s films only came to light in the home video/DVD era. Along with gangster movies and "sex pictures," horror films drew audiences during the Great Depression with sensational screen content. Exploiting a loophole in the Hays Code, which made no provision for on-screen "gruesomeness," studios produced remarkably explicit films that were recut when the Code was more rigidly enforced from 1934. This led to a modern misperception that classic horror was intended to be safe and reassuring to audiences.

Taking a fresh look at the genre from 1931 through 1936, author Jon Towlson's new critical study, The Turn To Gruesomeness In American Horror Films, 1931-1936, examines "happy ending" horror in relation to industry practices and censorship. Early works like Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and The Raven (1935) may be more akin to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (2003) and Saw (2004) than many critics believe.

Jon, a very good friend of Behind the Couch, is a film critic and the author of Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (CONSTELLATIONS) (Auteur/Columbia University Press, 2016) and Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages Of Films From Frankenstein To The Present (McFarland & Co, 2014). He is a regular contributor to Starburst Magazine, and has also written for the BFI, Paracinema, Exquisite Terror, Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, Shadowland Magazine, Bright Lights Film Journal and Digital Film-Maker Magazine.

The Turn To Gruesomeness In American Horror Films, 1931-1936 is available now, courtesy of McFarland & Co. A hard copy can be purchased here. It is also available to download for Kindle. For a detailed look at what it has to offer, check out the preview on Amazon.

To keep up to date with Jon, check out his blog and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Werewolf of London

Dir. Stuart Walker

While travelling through Tibet in search of a mysterious flower that only blooms in moonlight, renowned botanist Dr. Wilfred Glendon (Henry Hull) is attacked by a werewolf. When he returns to London, Glendon begins to undergo a terrifying transformation, the only antidote for which appears to be the plant he is researching...

Produced by Universal in the wake of the success of Dracula, Frankenstein and The Mummy, Werewolf of London was the first mainstream Hollywood werewolf film. It established several precedents which later became significant mainstays of werewolf cinema, such as the idea of lycanthropy as a contagious disease, the influence of the full moon on the werewolf’s transformation, and the spiritual torment suffered by the tragic male protagonist as he desperately attempts to find a cure for his monstrous condition. As the eponymous beast, Hull delivers a performance that invites much sympathy; prior to his encounter with a werewolf, Dr Glendon was a man much more comfortable experimenting alone in his lab than socialising at his wife’s parties. After the attack, the internal conflict he experiences, as his intellect and reason become overshadowed by animalistic impulses and bloodlust, propels the narrative as he searches for a cure while trying to maintain control of the transformations.

Interestingly, Glendon retains much of his personality, faculties and moral reasoning (not to mention his sharp fashion sense) when he’s in wolf form – he continues to experiment in his laboratory and at one stage, he even dons a hat and coat before going out into the cold London night (!). One can't help but wonder if this was what Warren Zevon was referring to in his song 'Werewolves of  London' when he sang 'I'd like to meet his tailor.' Anyway, I digress. When he consults an ancient tome on werewolves and demons, Glendon discovers that ‘unless this rare flower is used the werewolf must kill at least one human being each night of the full moon or become permanently afflicted’ and while he struggles to resist the urge to kill, his instinct to survive leads to reluctant and guilt-inducing bloodshed. Conflict also arises when another werewolf attempting to obtain Glendon’s botanical remedy makes its presence known. The make-up effects by Jack Pierce transform actor Henry Hull into a therianthropic man-wolf hybrid, the look of which would be echoed throughout later werewolf films, notably George Waggner’s highly influential The Wolf Man (1941), which further congealed and popularised certain conventions established by Walker's film.

Glendon’s first transformation is effectively conveyed. As he skulks along his shadowy, pillar-lined veranda his beastly changes occur cumulatively; each time he emerges from behind a pillar, he appears ever more monstrous until he is completely transformed. As Glendon attempts to keep his lycanthropy a secret, becoming more reclusive and driving his wife (Valerie Hobson) further into the arms of an old flame, an emerging subtext pertains to drug addiction, and, arguably, closeted homosexuality. Interestingly, Werewolf of London also unfurls as a Frankensteinian cautionary tale which speaks of the potential dangers of scientific advancement – it is Dr Glendan’s hunger for knowledge and his desire to push the boundaries of scientific research that leads him to his doom. Prior to his discovery of the strange flower that blooms in moonlight, he is warned not to venture into the valley where it grows, as one character notes ‘without fools there would be no wisdom.’

Steady pacing, moody lighting and several atmospheric stalking sequences in the fog enshrouded streets of London help to fuel the tension and enhance the somewhat gloomy tone, though there is comic relief in the form of a boozy landlady and her equally sozzled chum. While it is usually relegated to the shadows of more prominent werewolf titles, such as George Waggner’s aforementioned classic, there’s no denying the influence of Werewolf of London, which not only remains an effective and entertaining title, but fascinating viewing for anyone interested in exploring the conventions, tropes and lore of the cinematic werewolf. 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

How To Become A Werewolf: Part II

Who’s the Fairest of Them All by Bernie Wrightson
Myths survive as long as they speak to something fundamental in the human psyche, and notions of humans transforming into animals and monsters have fascinated and terrified us for millennia. It is an idea that speaks of the primal, animalistic impulses that lurk within all mankind, and it nestles in the dark corners of most, if not all cultures around the world. Throughout folklore and archaic literature the figure of the werewolf is depicted as a cursed and shunned individual, thought to have no control over his or her bestial urges which accompany the dreadful transformations from man to monster.

A person was believed to become a werewolf if they were excommunicated from the church, or if they were born on Christmas Day. They could also become a werewolf if they were cursed, or if lycanthropy ran in their family (tainted bloodlines), or by performing certain black magic rituals or sometimes, just through sheer force of will. More recently, thanks to certain conventions established by classic Hollywood horror cinema (namely The Werewolf of London [1935] and The Wolf Man [1941]), other ways to become a werewolf include infection (ie being bitten by another werewolf) and by lunar influence. The influence of the moon was actually briefly suggested in texts such as Sabine Baring-Gould’s Book of Were-Wolves (1865), in which references are made to certain regions of Southern France where lycanthropes could change into wolves under a full moon, and in Edward Topsell’s The History of Four-footed Beasts (1607), which actually asserted that the brains of wolves decreased and increased in size with the waxing and waning of the moon.

While researching all things lycanthropic for my book on The Company of Wolves, I came across Elliott O’Donnell’s Werwolves (1912), an old ‘scholarly’ study of, you’ve guessed it, werewolves. Within its pages are first-hand accounts of O'Donnell’s encounters with lycanthropes and a staggering array of werewolf lore from many cultures throughout the world. Also included is a chapter concerning various rituals and rites to perform if you’d like to become a werewolf. According to O’Donnell, in cases when lycanthropy is not hereditary, werewolfism can be attained by drinking water from a wolf’s paw print, or by drinking downstream from several wolves. O’Donnell suggests that in certain parts of Scandinavia it was believed a person could become a werewolf if they drank from an enchanted ‘lycanthropous’ stream. Lycanthropous water is apparently different from regular water (!) and according to O’Donnell, those who live near lycanthropous water describe it as having a faint odour ‘comparable with nothing’ and possessing a ‘lurid sparkle’ which is strongly suggestive of ‘some peculiar, individual life.’ The noise of flowing lycanthropous water is said to resemble ‘the muttering and whispering of human voices as to be often mistaken for them’ and by night the voices rise into ‘piercing screams, and howls, and groans, in such a manner as to terrify all who pass near it.’

Gray Wolf River by Yair-Leibovich
When the individual seeking to become a werewolf locates a lycanthropous stream, they must kneel by it at midnight and recite the following incantation:

Tis night! ‘tis night! and the moon shines white
Over pine and snow-capped hill;
The shadows stray through burn and brae
And dance in the sparkling rill.

Tis night! ‘tis night! and the devil’s light
Casts glimmering beams around.
The maras dance, the nisses prance
On the flower-enamelled ground.

Tis night! 'tis night! and the werewolf’s might
Makes man and nature shiver.
Yet its fierce grey head and stealthy tread
Are nought to thee, oh river!
River, river, river.

Oh water strong, that swirls along,
I prithee a werewolf make me.
Of all things dear, my soul, I swear,
In death shall not forsake thee.

Once these words are spoken, the individual then strikes the bank of the stream three times with his/her forehead, then dips his/her head into the water three times, each time taking a mouthful of water and drinking it. This, according to O’Donnell, completes the ceremony and the individual has become a werewolf and ‘twenty-four hours later will undergo the first metamorphosis.’

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Carnacki: The Lost Cases

Just taking a quick break from writing (procrastinating) about The Company of Wolves to share some good news. I've just had my first short story published! In a book! Carnacki: The Lost Cases is an anthology that takes the mysterious cases hinted at by ‘Ghost-Finder’ Thomas Carnacki (a fictional occult detective who appeared in a collection of supernatural stories written by William Hope Hodgson between 1910 and 1912) and expands them into their own stories. My story, 'A Hideous Communion', is based on a line from 'The Horse of the Invisible', in which Carnacki remembers a particularly terrifying case in which ‘the hand of the child kept materialising within the pentacle, and patting the floor. As you will remember, that was a hideous business.’

Carnacki: The Lost Cases is published by Ulthar Press, an independent, small press dedicated to promoting, reading and understanding many authors of horror/fantasy/speculative fiction, such as William Hope Hodgson, who have largely been neglected and even forgotten... 

Here's the official blurb: Even Carnacki, the great ‘Ghost-Finder’, himself has cases that he will not speak about. In these 12 tales, we learn the details of those ‘Lost Cases’ that Carnacki talked about only in hushed whispers. Learn the truth behind “The Steeple Monster Case”, the horror of “The Grunting Man”, the creeping terror of “The Grey Dog” and so much more. When you have learned the truth behind these cases, you may find yourself haunted as well! 

For more information on the book, and to obtain a copy, go here.

For more information on William Hope Hodgson and his creation, Thomas Carnacki, check out editor Sam Gafford's website.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Werewolf

Artwork by Jim Perez
Dir. Henry MacRae

A Navajo witch-woman believes her husband has deserted her, but unbeknownst to her, he has actually been killed. When she is rejected by his family, she raises her daughter to hate all white men. The daughter grows up to become a werewolf and she seeks revenge on those who killed her father and wronged her mother.

While now believed to be a lost film, destroyed in a fire in 1924, The Werewolf is thought to hold the honour of being the first ever werewolf film. It also marks the first cinematic appearance of the female werewolf, a figure who, until relatively recently, was often overlooked (in cinema) in favour of her male counterpart. Interestingly, The Werewolf can also be seen (perhaps rather tenuously) as the first Universal horror film, though at the time, the distributor was still known as the Universal Film Manufacturing Company. It was directed by Canadian filmmaker Henry MacRae, who, amongst other things, is credited as pioneering the use of artificial light for interior filming and the use of double exposures in early cinema. The screenplay was written by Ruth Ann Baldwin, a former journalist, and is very loosely based on Henry Beaugrand’s short story ‘The Werewolves’ (1898), which tells of a band of pioneers who believe there are (Native American) werewolves prowling around outside their snowbound Canadian fort.

According to Chantal Bourgault du Coudray, author of 'The Curse of the Werewolf: Fantasy, Horror and the Beast Within', The Werewolf combined “anxiety about female sexuality with fears of racial degeneracy” and “contributed to a discourse that envisioned women as a threat to the lives and aspirations of men.” While the likes of Werewolf of London (1935) and The Wolf Man (1941) popularised the notion of the doomed lycanthropic (male) protagonist who desperately wanted to be free of his curse, The Werewolf’s depiction of a witch-woman who uses her ability to change into a wolf to obtain revenge, is something that became quite typical in representations of the female werewolf. Female werewolves tend to be more comfortable in their wolf skin than their male counterparts, and because they generally embrace their more primal impulses, are seen as a threat to (patriarchal) order and must be destroyed. The aligning of femininity with nature, the body and the wilderness stems from nineteenth century discourse which posited women as men’s ‘other’; masculinity was aligned with culture and the mind (hence the reason why male werewolves tend to be more psychologically tormented by their condition - which often guaranteed their salvation, whereas female werewolves were usually destroyed).

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)
As an interesting side note, various settings and themes from The Werewolf and Beaugrand’s 'The Werewolves' would be echoed in Grant Harvey’s Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004), which is not only set in The Great White North during frontier times and features a group of early pioneers coming under attack from roaming lycanthropes, but also addresses ideas concerning ‘monstrous femininity’, cultural identity and race, and the notion of cursed bloodlines, cyclical history and reincarnation…

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

How To Become A Werewolf

While researching all things lycanthropic for my book on The Company of Wolves, I came across a marvellous old tome by Elliott O’Donnell, entitled ‘Werwolves.’ O’Donnell (1872-1965) was the author of countless books concerning the supernatural and the occult, and when he wasn’t writing accounts of his own experiences as a real-life ghost-hunter battling spectres, spooks and banshees, he authored several novels, including ‘For Satan’s Sake’ (1904) and ‘The Sorcery Club’ (1912), and myriad short stories and articles. O’Donnell once claimed “I have investigated, sometimes alone, and sometimes with other people and the press, many cases of reputed hauntings. I believe in ghosts but am not a spiritualist.”

‘Werwolves’ (1912) was intended as a scholarly, encyclopaedic study of, funnily enough, werewolves, and it contains first-hand accounts of O'Donnell’s personal encounters with lycanthropes. While the facts contained within its pages are a wee bit questionable, it certainly remains one of the most fascinating, and, dare I say, entertaining resources on the subject, containing as it does, stories and sightings of wolfmen from various cultures across the globe.

While perusing an online copy of the book, I was immediately drawn to the fourth chapter: How To Become A Werewolf. According to O’Donnell, in cases when lycanthropy is not hereditary, it may still be acquired through the performance of certain ancient rites ordained by Black Magic. Phew! Before detailing these certain ancient rites, O’Donnell suggests that whoever intends to perform them must first of all find a suitable location, and secondly, be “earnest and a believer in those super-physical powers whose favour he is about to ask.”

He then goes on to suggest that "a spot remote from the haunts of men" is best, and that "The powers to be petitioned are not to be found promiscuously - anywhere. They favour only such waste and solitary places as the deserts, woods, and mountain-tops."

"The locality chosen, our candidate must next select a night when the moon is new and strong. He must then choose a perfectly level piece of ground, and on it, at midnight, he must mark, either with chalk or string - it really does not matter which - a circle of not less than seven feet in radius, and within this, and from the same centre, another circle of three feet in radius. Then, in the centre of this inner circle he must kindle a fire, and over the fire place an iron tripod containing an iron vessel of water. As soon as the water begins to boil the would-be lycanthropist must throw into it handfuls of any three of the following substances: asafoetida, parsley, opium, hemlock, henbane, saffron, aloe, poppy-seed and solanum; repeating as he does so these words:

Spirits from the deep
Who never sleep,
Be kind to me.

Spirits from the grave
Without a soul to save,
Be kind to me.

Spirits of the trees
That grow upon the leas,
Be kind to me.

Spirits of the air,
Foul and black, not fair,
Be kind to me.

Water spirits hateful,
To ships and bathers fateful,
Be kind to me.

Spirits of earthbound dead
That glide with noiseless tread,
Be kind to me.

Spirits of heat and fire,
Destructive in your ire,
Be kind to me.

Spirits of cold and ice,
Patrons of crime and vice,
Be kind to me.

Wolves, vampires, satyrs, ghosts!
Elect of all the devilish hosts!
I pray you send hither,
Send hither, send hither,
The great grey shape that makes men shiver!
Shiver, shiver, shiver!
Come! Come! Come!

The supplicant then takes off his vest and shirt and smears his body with the fat of some newly killed animal (preferably a cat), mixed with aniseed, camphor, and opium. Then he binds round his loins a girdle made of wolf's-skin, and kneeling down within the circumference of the first circle, waits for the advent of the Unknown. When the fire burns blue and quickly dies out, the Unknown is about to manifest itself; if it does not then actually appear it will make its presence felt.

Coaxing out the beast within...
There is little consistency in the various methods of the spirit's advent: sometimes a deep unnatural silence immediately precedes it; sometimes crashes and bangs, groanings and shriekings, herald its approach. When it remains invisible its presence is indicated and accompanied by a sensation of abnormal cold and the most acute terror. It is sometimes visible in the guise of a huntsman - which is, perhaps, its most popular shape - sometimes in the form of a monstrosity, partly man and partly beast - and sometimes it is seen ill defined and only partially materialized. To what order of spirits it belongs is, of course, purely a matter of conjecture. I believe it to be some malevolent, superphysical, creative power, such as, in my opinion, participated largely in the creation of this and other planets. I do not believe it to be the Devil, because I do not believe in the existence of only one devil, but in countless devils. It is difficult to say to what extent the Unknown is believed to be powerful by those who approach it for the purpose of acquiring the gift of lycanthropy; but I am inclined to think that the majority of these, at all events, do not ascribe to it any supreme power, but regard it merely as a local spirit - the spirit of some particular wilderness or forest."

O'Donnell opines that this is not the only method of acquiring lycanthropy. If you haven’t been able to obtain all of the ingredients and accoutrements to enable you to commune directly with the Unknown (cat lovers, I mean you), O’Donnell suggests ingesting a wolf's brain. If your vegetarianism or love of wolves (understandably) prevents you from doing this, try drinking water out of a wolf's footprint, or drinking out of a stream from which three or more wolves have been seen to drink...

Monday, 7 March 2016

Women in Horror Annual

Edited by Paracinema Magazine alumnae Christine Makepeace and C. Rachel Katz, the Women in Horror Annual (WHA) is a collection of horror fiction and nonfiction written by women. While not unique in the horror literary landscape, the WHA counts as one among a scant handful of women-only anthologies. The annual promotes and celebrates female voices in horror, and the stories and papers contained within - penned by new and emerging literary talent - represent a diverse group of writers, each with their own unique vision. Some of these writers have published previously, while others are just starting out.

Women are often under-represented in the horror market, and this anthology is a step towards providing more female voices with a chance to be heard/read. The nineteen original stories featured in the annual run the gamut from melancholic to erotic; some are violent, brutal affairs, and others are more psychological. The essays include cinematic and literary analysis, touching upon themes of blood, motherhood, and insanity.

The WHA is available in print and digital formats through Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and a host of other digital retailers.

For more information contact whannual@gmail.com

Sunday, 6 March 2016


Dir. Jaron Henrie-McCrea

AKA The Gateway

The humble shower curtain holds a rather iconic place in horror cinema. Its presence in one of the most shocking and undeniably influential moments in all of cinema helped to create tension and a sense of vulnerability; a thin layer separating normality from chaos and carnage, a veil between life and death. Since Psycho (1960), countless horror films have featured scenes in which shower curtains are whipped back to reveal murderous marauders poised to thrust sharp implements into the naked flesh of the unfortunate showerer. In Jaron Henrie-McCrea’s low-budget, oddball delight, the presence, or to be more precise, the disappearance of the shower curtain once again serves as a harbinger of foreboding doom. But in a very different way indeed…

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review

The Telephone

If you heard it ringing, would you be prepared to answer what lies at the other end of the telephone? 

The Telephone is a brand new psychological horror short from Nine Ladies Film. Written and directed by Stuart Wheeldon, it stars Nigel Barber (Mission Impossible 5, Spectre), Bern Deegan (Hideaways, The Honeymooners) and Rachel Prince. Shot on location at The Black's Head pub in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, over three days in February 2016, The Telephone follows the story of Richard, a reporter, who, after receiving a strange letter and an ornamental glass fish, travels to a remote small town to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a young woman. While staying in a room in the local pub, the last place the woman was seen alive, Richard is disturbed by an old telephone that seems to ring endlessly. A chance encounter with the spectral image of a young woman follows, plunging Richard into psychological mayhem. Is the ghostly figure seen late at night the missing girl? What dark secrets are being concealed by the landlord of the pub? Could the telephone just be a figment of Richard’s imagination?

The trailer for The Telephone is due in early April, and the film is expected to hit in June. For updates and information, follow the filmmakers on Twitter and Facebook

Speaking of the sinister nature of telephones, head over to Senses of Cinema and check out this great essay on the role of telephonic communication in slasher films. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Landmine Goes Click

Dir. Levan Bakhia

Landmine Goes Click is one of those films best viewed without knowing anything about it.* Echoing the likes of Phone Booth (2002) and Buried (2010), and indeed Levan Bakhia’s own debut feature, 247°F (2011), it holds much promise with its high-concept premise. Boasting a constantly twisting plot which intrigues as much as it infuriates, the film explores how the lives of three American friends are altered forever when, travelling through Eastern Europe, one of them steps on a landmine...

Unable to move for fear of detonating it, he and his friends are the captive audience of unveiled secrets, shifting dynamics and the darker side of human nature.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review

*My review is spoiler free and I've tried to be as sensitive as possible regarding plot details. Well, beyond the obvious, anyway. 

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

The X-Files FAQ

The X-Files FAQ by John Kenneth Muir (author of, amongst a staggering array of other titles, The Unseen Force: The Films of Sam Raimi, Eaten Alive At A Chainsaw Massacre: The Films of Tobe Hooper, Wes Craven: The Art of Horror, and Terror Television: American Series, 1970-1999) is an in-depth exploration of Chris Carter's phenomenally popular cult 1990s science-fiction TV series.

Muir's book explores the series in terms of its historical context - the Clinton era - and how this influenced the myriad story-lines involving conspiracy theories and a deep mistrust of the US government. The author looks at the show on a season by season basis, explores its key episodes, overarching themes and concerns, its creators, antecedents (Kolchak: The Night Stalker), descendants (Fringe), spin-offs (The Lone Gunmen) and cinematic outings. 

The X-Files FAQ is an indispensable tome, not only for new fans of the series, but for established aficionados and anyone considering revisiting the series; a much less daunting prospect with John Kenneth Muir as your guide. As someone currently re-watching The X-Files (I’m a few episodes into season 8 now) I’ve found Muir’s book to be consistently entertaining and revelatory.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Frankenstein (2015)

Dir. Bernard Rose

An unflinching modern-day re-imagining of a timeless classic, Frankenstein tells its tale entirely from the point of view of the Monster (Xavier Samuel) as he is created by a husband-and-wife team of eccentric scientists (Danny Huston and Carrie-Anne Moss) and then left for dead. Confronted with aggression and violence as he attempts to make his way in the world, the Monster must get to grips with the horrific nature of humanity as he searches for his own.

Like his previous genre offerings, including Paperhouse (1988) and Candyman (1992), Bernard Rose’s Frankenstein is a compelling, fascinating and immensely thought-provoking yarn.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review and win a copy of Frankenstein on DVD. 

Friday, 12 February 2016

Navy SEALS vs. Zombies

Dir. Stanton Barrett

With its elementary plot-by-numbers, pallid execution and rudimentary story, Navy SEALS vs. Zombies is a highly unremarkable film indeed. It tells of a crack team of Navy SEALS charged with extracting the Vice President from a situation gone bad in New Orleans. What the team doesn’t know is that the ‘situation’ is a viral outbreak that turns the infected into flesh-hungry hoards of ravenous zombies.

Even the appearance of Eighties action legend Michael Dudikoff, who features in a glorified cameo, can’t save the day, as this film ultimately possesses no discernible qualities to elevate it above, or even help tell it apart from any other mediocre straight-to-DVD zombie flick.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

RIP Richard Gladman

The horror community has suffered a sad and sudden loss with the death of Richard Gladman, founder of the Classic Horror Campaign and editor/publisher of Space Monsters. Richard was battling cancer and undergoing treatment when he passed away in hospital at the weekend. Perhaps best known to some by his online username, Cyberschizoid, Richard was, amongst many other things, a huge advocate of the UK horror scene; he founded the Classic Horror Campaign, which sought to reintroduce vintage horror double bills to BBC 2, and Frighten Brighton, an annual horror film festival based in, you’ve guessed it, Brighton.

A life-long fan of horror and sci-fi cinema, Richard contributed to myriad print publications such as Shock Horror, Scream and Rue Morgue, as well as many online publications like Haunted and Spooky Isles, and he hosted various film screenings in London, Manchester and Brighton. 

While I never met Richard personally, we exchanged emails over the years and I was always really inspired by his boundless passion and enthusiasm for horror, and by his tireless advocacy of the British horror scene. He was one of the first people I became friendly with online after I set up this blog, and he always seemed to be working on a project he cared deeply for. I think I'd always just assumed we’d meet one day, and I’m sorry that never happened. He was very highly thought of and will be sorely missed.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Diabolique Magazine - Issue 25

Diabolique is a bimonthly magazine covering every aspect of the horror genre, including film, literature, theatre, art, music, history and culture. Lavishly illustrated in full colour, each issue is packed with entertaining and thought-provoking articles.

Issue 25 is now available. A very special issue indeed, it is entirely devoted to celebrating the life and work of Sir Christopher Lee.

Inside you’ll find essays and features such as:

A WICKER MAN’S MAN - Jennifer Blair examines Christopher Lee’s iconic role as Lord Summerisle in Robin Hardy’s 1973 folk horror masterpiece, The Wicker Man.

COUNT PERVERSION, THE WHIP AND THE LIVING DEAD - Kat Ellinger champions Christopher Lee’s oft-overlooked mainland European genre films, from Uncle Was A Vampire to Horror Express and everything in between.

CHRISTOPHER LEE: METALHEAD - Joseph Schafer speaks with Luca Turilli of the symphonic power metal band, Rhapsody of Fire, on Christopher Lee’s headfirst dive into the world of Heavy Metal.

Also included is my essay THE LIFE-BLOOD OF DRACULA, in which I explore the sex, sin and sensations of Christopher Lee’s unique spin on Dracula and the vampire archetype.

Indulge your passion for the macabre and pick up issue 25 of Diabolique Magazine here.