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Showing posts from 2017

The Company of Wolves/Gothic Feminism Conference

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My monograph on The Company of Wolves was launched this weekend at the Gothic Feminism Conference in Kent. Auteur Publishing had a stall with a selection of titles on Gothic horror from their Devil's Advocates series, including advance copies of my contribution.

Gothic Feminism is a research project based at the University of Kent which ‘seeks to re-engage with theories of the Gothic and reflect specifically upon the depiction of the Gothic heroine in film. The project raises questions of representation, interpretation and feminist enquiry in relation to the Gothic heroine throughout film history including present day incarnations. This project will illuminate the concerns, contradictions and challenges posed by the Gothic heroine on-screen.’

This year’s conference, the second, took place on 24th – 26th May. Entitled Women-in-Peril or Final Girls? Representing Women in Gothic and Horror Cinema, it featured a plethora of papers and presentations including:

‘The Presence of Absence: …

Conversations About Wolves: Tsa Palmer

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While conducting research for my monograph on The Company of Wolves, I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Teresa (Tsa) Palmer, the wolf-handler who worked on the film. Much of our chat was of course about her work on The Company of Wolves and those parts of the conversation are included in the first chapter of the monograph, which focuses on the background and making of the film. Tsa also reflected on experiences she’d had working with wolves on other films, her work with the UK Wolf Conservation Trust (which she founded in 1995 with her late husband Roger) and the various perceptions people have of wolves, due in part, to their depiction in horror literature and cinema.

It wasn’t possible to include all our conversation in the book, so what had to be omitted for the sake of relevance and a pesky wordcount, I have shared here.

On her early career as a wolf-handler: When I was about 18, I met my late husband, Roger Palmer, and he had a wolf cub which was incredibly charismatic. …

Conversations About Wolves: Suzy McKee Charnas

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While conducting research for my forthcoming monograph on Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves, I had the pleasure of conversing with science-fiction and fantasy author Suzy McKee Charnas. Back in the late eighties Suzy wrote an award-winning short story called ‘Boobs’, which not only shares strong affinities with The Company of Wolves, but also preceded the thematically similar Ginger Snaps (2000) by over a decade. Like these titles, ‘Boobs’ connects the ambivalent figure of the adolescent girl, fluctuating between childhood and adulthood, with the figure of the werewolf, which fluctuates between human and beast, and draws parallels between menstruation, developing sexual identity and desire, and the unleashing of something wild. It tells of Kelsey, a shy and lonely teenager whose menarche coincides with her transformation into a wolf. She uses her new-found power and abilities to take revenge on a bully who has made her life a living hell and whose cruel nickname for Kelsey, due to …

The Company of Wolves Book Update

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I’ve just submitted the final proofs of my monograph on The Company of Wolves (part of Auteur’s ‘Devil’s Advocates’ series), so it won’t be too long before it’s available to pre-order. I also wanted to share a preview of the beautiful cover design (right).

Here’s a little snippet from the intro:

The Company of Wolves is a dark fantasy film quite unlike any other. A meditation on the horrors of the adult world, and of adult sexuality, as glimpsed through the dreams of an adolescent girl, it amalgamates aspects of horror, the Female Gothic, fairy tales, werewolf films and coming of age parables. Drenched in atmosphere and an eerily sensual malaise, it boasts striking imagery immersed in fairy tale motifs and startling Freudian symbolism. 

The Company of Wolves was Irish filmmaker Neil Jordan’s second film, and his first foray into the realms of Gothic horror. Jordan co-wrote the screenplay with British novelist Angela Carter, and it is based upon several short stories from Carter’s The B…

'Too Dreadfully Brutal': In Conversation with Author Jon Towlson

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Is the 1930s horror film more akin to graphic modern horror than is often thought? In his recent book, The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films, 1931-1936 (McFarland & Co), film critic and author Jon Towlson vividly explores the misconception of 1930s horror as safe and reassuring. Towlson will also give a lecture at the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies in London on 16th March, to further discuss the subject and share his research.

Synthetic Flesh/Rotten Blood: The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films, 1931-1936 will examine ‘happy ending’ horror in relation to industry practices and censorship, and detail how the likes of Murders in the Rue Morgue (1932) and The Raven (1935) may be more akin to the modern Grand Guignol excesses of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) and Hostel (2005) than many critics and audiences believe. Towlson’s discussion will be reinforced with memos, letters and censorship reports from the studio archives and other research conduc…

We Go On

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2016
Dirs. Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton

We Go On tells of Miles Grissom (Clark Freeman), a young man with a crippling fear of death, who places an advertisement offering a large sum of money to whoever can help him prove the existence of an afterlife.

With the help of his mother Charlotte (Annette O’Toole), he narrows down the offers of help he receives to three possible candidates and embarks on a journey he may never be able to return from...

The fascinating central premise of We Go On strongly evokes The Twilight Zone, while the focused script ensures an insular atmosphere.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review. And keep an eye open for issue 5 of Exquisite Terror, coming soon...

Rare Breeds by Erik Hofstatter

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Kent-based author Erik Hofstatter’s latest offering is a dark, terse and keenly paced little chiller that consistently leads the reader into unexpected and ever unsettling places.

The story concerns Aurel Schwartz, an unassuming young man whose tendency to sleepwalk begins to create tension within his family. When his somnambulant wanderings become strangely menacing, Aurel’s wife Zora believes he poses a real threat to her daughter Livie.

Before long the family is caught up in a nightmare of missing teenaged girls, grave-robbing, astral projection and necromancy…

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

And keep an eye open for issue 5 of Exquisite Terror, coming soon...

Lemora – A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural

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1973
Dir. Richard Blackburn

Set in 1920s rural America and filmed on an ultra-low budget, this deliciously weird and wonderful adult fairy tale tells of a young girl’s sexual awakening in the rustic abode of a female vampire. When 13-year-old church singer Lila (Cheryl Smith) receives a letter from the titular antagonist (Lesley Gilb) informing the girl her gangster father is close to death and longs to see her one last time, Lila runs away from her puritanical guardian, Reverend Mueller (Blackburn). On her journey she encounters various incarnations of aggressive male sexuality, from the sleazy ticket seller at the bus station and the lecherous man whose car she stows away in, to the coven of undead abominations lurking in the woods around Lemora’s home. Their advances serve to highlight Lila’s perceived vulnerability and objectify her burgeoning sexuality as she wanders somnambulantly through increasingly nightmarish landscapes. When she arrives at the home of Lemora, Lila initiall…

Dear Scream...

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Happy 20th Birthday, Scream! I can't believe you've grown up so fast. I know it’s now 2017 and you turned 20 last year, but you weren’t released in the UK until 1997 so technically it was twenty years ago this year that I saw you. Technicalities aside, I couldn’t let the occasion go by without writing a little something about you on here. I remember my dad taking me to see you at the cinema because you were rated 18 and I was only 16. I wanted so badly to see you though. I was shocked and intrigued by your teaser campaign on TV, and you starred some people who were in things I loved as a 16-year-old (Friends! Party of Five! Boys on the Side!). You were my first experience of watching a horror film in a cinema with a real live cinema audience (they were quite annoying) and I can still remember the excitement and anticipation. I was equal parts irked and enthralled when the audience reacted to you in such a vocal way. They screamed a lot. I thought you were the greatest thing e…

Razors: The Return of Jack the Ripper

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2016
Dirs. Ian Powell & Karl Ward

What if someone had discovered the knives used by Jack the Ripper? What if those cruelly glinting blades then went missing? And what if the Ripper came back into our world to once again mutilate and massacre? These are the tantalising questions that form the premise of atmospheric independent horror Razors, the first in a new series of forthcoming films set to explore the bloody exploits of one of the world’s most mysterious serial killers. It tells of enigmatic film professor Robert Wise (Thomas Thoroe) who gathers a group of young screenwriters at a sinister Victorian warehouse in the heart of London to work on the ultimate horror film. Amongst the assembled group is troubled screenwriter Ruth (Kelby Keenan) who believes she has discovered the actual knives used by Jack the Ripper. When the knives go missing and it appears the spirit of the Ripper roams free, the young screenwriters must unlock the building’s dark secrets and unravel mysteries …