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Showing posts from March, 2012

Burrishoole Abbey

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As mentioned in my post about Abney Park Cemetery, I like wandering around graveyards – the older the better - and taking photos. I’ve been staying outside Newport, County Mayo with friends for the last few days, and much to my morbid delight was able to visit the ruins of Burrishoole Abbey and the cemetery that surrounds it. Situated upon a sheltered shore just outside the town, the abbey was founded in 1470 by Richard de Burgo of Turlough - Lord MacWilliam Oughter - and apparently built without the permission of the Pope. In 1793 the roof of the abbey collapsed and because almost all the friaries and abbeys across Ireland were suppressed in the wake of the Reformation in the 16th century, it was never rebuilt. All that remains today is the rather gothic looking church and the eastern wall of the cloister, while the grounds are still used as a cemetery.

The close proximity of the cemetery to the sea and the eerie atmosphere such combined imagery evokes, really reminded me of the se…

Audiodrome #6: Blood & Black Lace

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The latest instalment of Audiodrome: Music in Film is now up over at Paracinema.net. This month I check out Carlo Rustichelli’s rather swanky and often spooky score for Mario Bava’s ravishing giallo blueprint, Blood & Black Lace (1964); AKA Sei donne per l'assassino (6 Women for the Murderer). Infused with the sultry rhythms of the tango, Rustichelli’s music highlights the more sensual aspects of Bava’s lurid film about a sadistic killer preying upon the models of an elite fashion house.

Skip on over to Paracinema to read it and listen to a track, and let’s chat about Rustichelli, Bava and giallo soundtracks!

While you’re there, why not think about ordering yourself a copy of the brand-spanking-new issue of Paracinema Magazine. With articles such as When Life Gives You Razor Blades: Bloody Vengeance in Hobo with a Shotgun by Christine Makepeace; Revenge is a Dish Best Served Raw and Wriggling: Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy by Samm Deighan; Going Back Home: Post-Vietnam Ma…

'Shadow' Director to "Give New Blood to the Giallo"

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Italian rock musician turned horror director Federico Zampaglione’s eagerly-awaited third feature, Tulpa, has just gone into production. Zampaglione should be familiar to fans of Italian horror as the director of Shadow (2009), a film that was hailed as a true return to form for Italian horror – an aspect of that country’s already rapidly dwindling cinematic output, long thought to have exhaled its last breath with Michele Soavi’s ravishing Dellamorte Dellamore (1994). Tulpa, should please fans of Argento, Bava, Martino et al as it’s been described as a “neo-giallo with strong psycho-sexual tones and scenes of extreme violence.” The film's production company has released these stills, from which we can see just how much of a vintage giallo feel Zampaglione is aiming for...



The story revolves around Lisa Boeri, (portrayed by the director’s partner Claudia Gerini), a respectable and upwardly mobile businesswoman by day, who frequents the notorious sex club ‘Tulpa’ by night in sea…

Interview with Reg Traviss - Director of Psychosis

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Director Reg Traviss’s horror debut Psychosis is an old-fashioned feeling film that possesses many of the traits which made many old British horror films so distinctive and unsettling. The twisted tale of an American writer (played by Charisma Carpenter) spending time in a sprawling house in the English countryside while recovering from a nervous breakdown, it evokes an off-kilter and edgy sensibility reminiscent of the Hammer House of Horror/Tales of the Unexpected era of British chillers. Is something sinister and supernatural afoot in the house, or could the bloody events be figments of a fractured mind? Given that many of the films I’ve reviewed this month have featured characters with ambiguous psychological profiles further unhinged by spooky houses, I thought it might be appropriate to post this interview with the director of Psychosis; which I conducted back in 2010.*

Psychosis is your first horror film. What made you want to make a horror film?

I’ve always liked horror films…

The Woman in Black (2012)

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Dir. James Watkins

A young lawyer travels to a remote village to conduct an inventory of a deceased client’s possessions. He gradually realises that the dead client is connected to a sinister spectral woman – the sight of whom preludes the death of a child - that is terrorizing the local population.

The Woman in Black is an exercise in slow burning horror, and the narrative unfolds with a degree of odiousness and suggestion appropriate for such a traditional ghost tale. From the outset, grief is the overarching theme that binds the story together in this version of Susan Hill’s classic chiller. From the genuinely unsettling opening scene - depicting the suicide of three young girls as they leap from the window of their nursery, accompanied by the sound of their mother’s screaming – to the protagonist’s sustained anguish at the death of his wife; the notion of grief as an escapable snare hangs heavy over proceedings. The film unravels as a spooky and, for the most part, highly effecti…

The Haunting

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1963
Dir. Robert Wise

A parapsychologist seeking proof of the existence of the supernatural invites a select group of people to join him at the reputedly haunted Hill House. Once there, the group experience sinister events that not only threaten their sanity, but their very lives… Are these occurrences the result of a genuine haunting, or are they conjured by the unstable mind of one of the guests?

Director Robert Wise was a protégé of Val Lewton’s in the 1940s, and made his directorial debut on Lewton’s production of Mademoiselle Fifi, before working on the moody horror films Curse of the Cat People and The Body Snatcher. Shortly after he filmed West Side Story, Wise thought it high time he paid tribute to the man who gave him his start in the film business. In Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, Wise found the perfect blend of understated horror and icy atmospherics with which to pay homage to the distinctive low key, suggestive approach to horror utilised by Lewton. The…

Red State

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2011
Dir. Kevin Smith

When three teenage friends answer an online invitation for sex, they are kidnapped by a sinister fundamentalist Christian group who plan on punishing them, Old Testament style, for their sexual ‘deviancy.’

The prospect of Kevin Smith addressing the extremes of fundamentalist Christianity through the conventions of horror cinema is, for this writer anyway, an utterly irresistible one. Smith already addressed the extremity of organised religion in Dogma, which, while rather plodding and uneven, was still an interesting departure for the director, famed for his lo-fi slacker-driven stories. While Red State may be a different beast entirely, it also sadly slides into unevenness as the plot eventually crumbles under weighty speeches and a limp, exposition-heavy finale. Differing from the usual religious horror, the threat in Red State comes not from Satan or the occult, but from fundamentalist God-fearers who believe their faith entitles them to carry out atrocities…

Paracinema 15

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Issue 15 of Paracinema Magazine is now available to pre-order. Look at it, ain’t it pretty? The cover illustration is by Alex Fine and this feisty issue is rather special as it focuses on the theme of revenge. Amongst the articles on offer are the likes of When Life Gives You Razor Blades: Bloody Vengeance in Hobo with a Shotgun by Christine Makepeace (Paracinema’s editor), Revenge is a Dish Best Served Raw and Wriggling: Park Chan-Wook’s Vengeance Trilogy by Samm Deighan, Going Back Home: Post-Vietnam Masculinity in Rolling Thunder by Adam Blomquist, You Want It, You Got It: The Grim and Gritty Extremes of Punisher: War Zone by Patrick Smith and much more; including pieces on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Head over to Paracinema.net to pre-order your copy now. Oh, and while you’re at it – why not head over to TLA and vote for Paracinema Magazine, as it’s been nominated for a lovely award in the best website/blog/podcast/whatever category. Go on, suppor…

The Sorcerers

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1967
Dir. Michael Reeves

An elderly scientist and his wife create a device that enables them to control the mind of a young man and share the sensations of his experiences. It isn’t long though before the wife, drunk on power and obsessed with experiencing new things, begins to indulge her increasingly perverse desires, including murder.

Reeves’ penultimate film is a curiously irresistible blend of horror and sci-fi, filtered through a cynical snapshot of swinging sixties London – and the seemingly moral vacuum its inhabitants occupied – spiced up with various ‘mad scientist’ movie tropes. While it may be overshadowed by his last film The Witchfinder General, The Sorcerers exhibits as idiosyncratic and bleak an outlook on the corruptible nature of humanity as the Vincent Price starring classic. While both films peer into the depths of what causes normal people to do corrupt, despicable things, due to its then-contemporary setting, The Sorcerers makes much more of an impact in this r…