Strangers: Prey At Night (review)

Knock, Knock, Knock… Is an unnecessary but long awaited sequel to one of my favourite films home?

Well yeah actually. Strangers: Prey at night is stalking it’s way into theatres 5th May, and luckily I managed to see it early at one of Odeon’s Scream Unseen events and can tell you if it’s worth the extortionate price of popcorn.

Well i suppose it all depends what you want from your horror sequels. Do you want them to give you a back story of your title villains, like the final girl is actually his sister or his mother was raped and impregnated by 100 maniacs? If so then you are… wrong. Seriously let’s stop doing this. Luckily this film doesn’t cater to your desires – the masked strangers remain just that. Strangers.

Perhaps you wish sequels and remakes just didn’t exist and great stories were left alone. That’s admirable, however I’m sorry I have to welcome you back to the real world where greed crushes artistic integrity on a daily basis.

Or maybe you accept that a horror sequel is never going to be perfect and the best you could ever hope for is sped up rehash of the original film with more 80s slasher vibes and a fabulously camp synth-pop soundtrack? Well if you are the final group then you my beautiful friends are in luck because that’s exactly what you are going to get with Strangers: Prey at Night.

This story works as a stand alone film and doesn’t directly follow on from the original except for the return of our three creepy villains; Doll Face, Pin up and the Man in the Mask, this time at summer camp a la Crystal Lake. They use very similar tactics and say similar lines from their first outing suggesting an order and routine to their kill. This time though they are annoyingly sloppy at times with their killings and the repeat of some line such as their motives for killing don’t work as well this time around.

Probably the biggest downfall of the film is that apart from the soundtrack and a different cast of victims the film has nothing new to offer. Yes I don’t want a a backstory for my villains but why not improve on the original and do some actual character building – is that asking too much? Apparently so. The half unexplained rebellious daughter story arc is so forgettable the film itself forgot to give any resolution to it. Except *spoiler* maybe you don’t have to go to boarding school if not your parents are dead. Yay – off to the orphanage instead!

On the plus side the son and dad are both super hot. Unfortunately, however the accidental incest I saw vibes come from the son and daughter instead, so my latent daddy issues are left unresolved.

I don’t know if the writers didn’t know how to write two good looking teenagers with no sexual tension or if the actors themselves couldn’t hide their own sexual tension but the older brother, younger sister pep talk felt like a date that was going well right up until, you know, the murder part.

Ok so now I’ve got my problems with the film out of the way let’s move on to the good stuff. It’s scary. Admittedly I might be biased as the original has always freaked me out a lot but it has been a long time since I jumped that high in the cinema. I was so wrapped up in the creepy slow build up to scares that I even forgot scares they wasted on the trailer weere about to happen and jumped even higher.

The mix of slow stalking and jump scares is fun and effective. The tension is built in a similar way to the original: faceless people, a loud knock on the door at night, knowing that they are silently watching you. However being a sequel and with a bigger cast the speed is increased and the 3rd act becomes more action based 80s slasher than the slow methodical horror it started as. Yeah, some jumps are cheap but it all manages to work because of the natural impending doom the strangers bring with them.

Probably the most interesting choice the film makes is to have some of our strangers unmasked as the story progresses. I was in two minds over this. My initial reaction was stop it right now I don’t want to see that it will take the horror away. However after my brain digested the scene I realised all it really did was emphasise how human these killers are. They look like every other family when the mask is removed and that actually makes the reality of them even more plausible and terrifying

The soundtrack is perfection and that’s not just my bias as a massive 80s fan. The way the music is used to punctuate the violence is equally menacing and entertaining. If you were as thrilled as me at the creepy use of Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ in the trailer then the rest of the film won’t disappoint.

There is a definite ‘predator playing with its prey’ vibe throughout the film again and nowhere is this exemplified more than when one victim is trapped as the the Man in the Mask selects his music to kill them to, and Kim Wilde ‘Cambodia’ is an inspired choice.

The best use of the music and sound is during a pool fight between the son and the Man in the Mask. I don’t want to spoil this moment completely but Bonnie Tyler’s camp classic ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ is put to good use in a very fun and clever scene that was a real highlight for me.

Overall the film adds nothing much new to the original premise or the horror genre, even the ending is a homage to both John Carpenter’s Christine (1983) and Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974). However it didn’t lose much of what made the original so bloody good. Don’t expect anything revolutionary and if you don’t like the original then don’t bother but if you did then expect to have a bloody good time on this journey.

I’d recommend you go and see it in the cinema for the full effect and if you are anything like me you will be checking the backseats of the car on the way home.

(SM)

You can hear Stephen’s review and our reviews of ‘Ghost Stories’, ‘A Quiet Place’ and ‘Terrifier’ in our new podcast. Just click below to listen!

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Previously, on Screaming Queenz…

We’ll be back after our little Summer break next week. Meanwhile have you caught up on all our podcast episodes so far? Here’s a selection for your delectation. A mix of vampires, witches, Italian slashers and good old-fashioned monster movies. All of them come with an unhealthy dose of camp humour, poor taste and disgusting language!

From Peter Cushing to porno, the references for Fright Night come thick and fast…

So who the fuck died and made the Babadook a gay icon? With a little help from The Village People we decipher just why this demonic children’s fable cashed in on the pink pound…

Who knew the eternally young Lost Boys would ever hit 30? Well they just did, so reminisce with big hair, 80s power rock, and the dark underbelly of Hollywood paedophiles…

Which witch are you? A badass 90s high-schooler or a psychadelic 70s lesbian with a penchant for S&M? Check out our two-parter on witches in horror, both parts here:

Do you like giallo? We love giallo. What the fuck is giallo? Find out here:

There’s like 37 more episodes for you to get your teeth into over on SoundCloud but you can also hear them via Podbean and Itunes, links below. So listen, laugh, loathe if you must. Get in touch and let us know your thoughts, get me on twitter @jonnylarkin or email us at Screamingqueenz@gmail.com!

JL

http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/screaming-queenz/id1070845275?mt=2

Pathos/Obsession – A Taste for Fear (1988)

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A late 80s hidden gem, Pathos, or its American title Obsession – A Taste For Fear comes off like a soft porn take on The Eyes of Laura Mars, doped up on Quaaludes and Campari…

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A late entry in the cannon of Italian sleaze with more than a stab at giallo, Piccio Raffainini’s only credited filmic outing stars Virginia Hey, who will be familiar to fans of Mad Max 2, Farscape and, believe it or not, Prisoner Cell Block H. She plays Diane, an upmarket fashion photographer working in Rome. Bisexual, oozing an icy coolness to match her sharp cheekbones and wicked tongue, she’s shacked up with her lesbian lover Valerie (Gioia Scola) who shows more than a hint of jealousy when Diane’s eye wanders…

Her shoot is suddenly plagued by grisly fetishistic murders, gialloesque insofar as the killer brandishes a blade in black gloves and takes great delight in the torture of scantily clad ladies.  Diane finds herself plunged into a murder mystery that takes her deep underground into the nightlife of Rome, whilst dealing with a jealous lesbian lover and a burgeoning romance with the investigating officer…

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Bizarrely the film is also set in the future, with hints of this coming from Hey’s choice of car – some bizarre hovering hybrid that zooms through the streets of Rome at night – not to mention guns that shoot some sort of laser zapper… Without those clues you’d be forgiven for thinking it was the coked-up brainchild of an 80s New York clubkid in the making. Shoulder-pads, afros and makeup that would make a drag queen gag abound in this uber-stylish little curiosity.

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Queer viewers can revel in the neon-lit fashions, the icy cool bitchiness of most its female cast, the labyrinthine gay club ‘Agony and Ecstasy’ and the surprise appearance of the fabulous Grace Jones track ‘Private Life’. Man candy comes in the form of Dario Parisini, giving us 80s George Michael facial stubble with more than a whiff of ‘assume the position’ porno cop realness.

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High on lesbianism that puts the tit in titillation, low on any semblance of plot with more time spent on the fashions, the interiors and the naked ladies, this VHS treasure can be found in its entirety on YouTube here:

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Revel in the blurry pan and scan quality and pretend you’re watching a dodgy third generation copy late at night after one too many Babychams. Surprisingly this piece of Eurotrash looks so good in bad quality I’d actually pay for a HD upgrade should that ever come about. Stranger things have happened. 88 Films I’m looking at you!

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Cheers to the fabulous Rachael Nisbet for alerting me to this neon wonder. Her amazing indepth review can be found here:

http://hypnoticcrescendos.blogspot.co.uk/2017/06/obsession-taste-for-fear-1988.html

JL

The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

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Irvin Kershner’s ‘The Eyes of Laura Mars’ is a film that was on my radar as something camp and creepy and trashy before I even knew what camp was. One of those movies that popped up on late night TV in the UK during my formative years in the late 80s and then the 90s. I knew of Faye Dunaway because everybody’s mum in working class Liverpool in the 80s had a copy of ‘Mommie Dearest’ recorded off the TV. I would be treated to her histrionics regularly with my mother tutting and huffing and commenting on how awful that Joan Crawford was to those poor kids. Obviously I agreed but under my breath I was leaping to her defence purely because she was so damn fabulous.

Well a couple of years before she wowed gays and grannies with her insane and camp genius take on Joan Crawford, Dunaway struck out with this rather under-rated and glamorous thriller. The premise is enough to make a queer horror fan yelp with delight – a chic female fashion photographer in Manhattan has psychic visions of murders through the viewfinder of her Nikon FM. As she becomes embroiled in the police investigation – and falls for handsome detective Tommy Lee Jones – her fellow fashionistas and models begin to fall victim to the killer…

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Cards on the table this movie is a pretty run-of-the-mill murder mystery. The gore is sparing but effective (needle to the eye anyone?), the pacing is pretty damn slow, and you can see the ‘twist’ ending coming a mile off. So why did I love it? Well, to say this film is camp would be an understatement akin to saying Donald Trump is ‘slightly unhinged’. Peppered throughout with glamorous photo shoots, a cast who are constantly turned up to the power of 100 in the drama stakes, and a funky disco soundtrack to boot, ‘Laura Mars’ avoids sending you to sleep by throwing something in fur, diamonds or, in one case, mauve maribou feathers, right in your face to hook you back in.

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Faye Dunaway is no stranger to hamming it up and boy does she have fun chewing up the scenery here. You’ll clutch your pearls every time she tears through a warehouse screaming for her camp-as-tits agent ‘DONAAAAALLLLDDD!!! (Rene Auberjonois), or whenever she pours brandy from a decanter that looks like a giant bottle of Chanel No.5. I decided it was in fact Chanel No.5 which she guzzled by the gallon. It would certainly explain her overacting. The role of Laura was actually offered to Barbra Streisand by producer Jon Peters – at the time the two were an item. But Streisand thought the subject matter too ‘kinky’ and turned it down. She did however record the theme song – the suitably OTT ballad ‘Prisoner’. Listen and weep…

In Streisand’s hands Laura would probably come across more quirky and streetsmart than she does here. Dunaway gives us a floaty, dreamy, vulnerable but effortlessly cool Manhattan lady with bad taste in men but a flare for the more macabre side of fashion photography. Her shoots all consist of death and destruction – murder scenes, freak accidents and in one beautifully trashy moment that is downright iconic – a multi-car pile-up with dead models strewn about Columbus circle whilst two hotties in lingerie and fur coats have a cat fight amidst the wreckage. David La Chapelle was definitely taking notes.

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I spent the entirety of the film thinking I recognised many of Laura’s photographs, wondering if they were Guy Bourdin or Helmut Newton. I was right on the latter. Newton’s photographs double for Laura Mars originals in many scenes.

The psychic element coupled with the high fashion setting, not to mention the funky interiors and the police procedurals, obviously draw comparisons with gialli. And rightly so. A gloved hand, blurred vision from the killer’s POV, red herrings thrown about the place with gay abandon, not to mentions its, shall we say, leisurely pace for a thriller, make this a definite American stab at a giallo film.

More horror kudos comes in the form of John Carpenter. He penned the original story idea and screenplay, although by time it got to screen it had been rewritten under studio orders by David Zelag Goodman. Brad Dourif (Chucky himself) also features prominently, and the killer’s back-story coupled with the stalking of a fashion photographer pre-empt what was to come with ‘Maniac’ (both original and remake).

I watched ‘Laura’ on the Horror Channel, which I love but sometimes the quality of the picture is sub-par to even YouTube. So given the vibrant world the characters inhabit this definitely warrants a watch in HD. If you want high camp, high drama, a time capsule of disco era New York and a prime example of American giallo, then give Laura Mars a chance. Just don’t let her take your picture, you could end up dead.

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But at least you’ll look fabulous…

(JL)

Sleazy Does It – Deviating with D’Amato

Last night I thought I’d treat myself to two of Joe D’Amato’s notorious sleazy horrors from 1979/1981. This is the guy who brought us the wonderfully titled ‘Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals’. So you can imagine what I was letting myself in for.

I caught Emanuelle last year and loved it so I thought I’d treat myself to the 88 Films releases of Beyond the Darkness (1979) and Absurd (1981). Having done minor research on both I knew Absurd, an original video nasty, was held in high esteem by fans of all things sleazy and bloody. But surprisingly I preferred Beyond…

Absurd is basically a Halloween copy, only without the expert tension and atmosphere. What you do get is some nasty splatter – think guts ripped out on spiky fences, nurse with needled drilled into temple, babysitter crisped up in the oven. All good stuff and seriously unpleasant. It’s hampered by some very shoddy pacing though, and I had to keep checking I hadn’t accidentally watched a 3 hour director’s cut. The 94 minute run time dragged thanks to scenes where it took every character about 10 minutes to actually do… well, anything. But I do recommend for splatter fans if only for the gore. And queer/female viewers with bad taste in men (like me) – George Eastman, regular D’Amato collaborator who wrote this piece of work, also plays the killer and is a great hulking wall of man meat.

Beyond the Darkness, on the other hand, was a far more enjoyable watch. Kieran Canter plays Italian playboy Frank, who lives with a pervy Mrs Danvers-style housekeeper, Iris, who likes to breast feed him. The film opens with Iris making a voodoo doll of Frank’s beloved wife, causing her slow death in a hospital bed. Insane with grief, Frank steals her corpse, embalms it in a very nasty autopsy scene complete with entrails and guts, and keeps the corpse for sexy funtime. Obviously he is discovered and things get messy – fingernails yanked out with pliers, bodies dismembered and flung with gay abandon into acid baths, and even some casual cannibalism thrown in for good measure. Add to this a rather funky score by Goblin and this was the clear winner of the two.

D’Amato’s ‘Emanuelle’ cannibal outing is also available on Blu Ray via 88 Films, and that certainly doesn’t suffer from a slow pace. It also doesn’t concern itself with any kind of moral compass so if you’re looking for sleaze of the highest order I’d put that at the top of your chopping list.

Here are some lovely offensive photographs from all three, and yes that is Emanuelle fingering a girl in a straight-jacket.

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Cannibal Apocalypse (1980)

(aka Invasion of the Flesh Hunters and a lot of other titles)

(Spoilers ahead)

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I’ll be honest, I had two reasons to track down Cannibal Apocalypse. First up, with a title like that I was sure it would be quality exploitation trash – especially as it was one of the infamous Video Nasties. Secondly, I’ve got a major daddy crush on John Saxon. Ever since Nightmare on Elm Street he turned my head, then his brown-face ‘it’s OK it was the 80s’ portrayal of Rashid Ahmed in Dynasty sealed the deal. He’s a heaving hunk of man flesh.

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Cannibal Apocalypse delivered on both counts. Opening in the middle of the Vietnam War, where Captain Norman Hopper (Saxon) storms a POW camp to rescue a couple of soldiers, we’re not even five minutes into the battle when a Vietnamese lady is cannibalised by the POWs… tits first! And it’s not the only time a female character loses her boobs to the chomping of a hungry cannibal. In the middle of the carnage Norman manages to get himself bitten too, but survives the attack. He wakes sweating from a dream a year later, still traumatised by his time in Nam.

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Former POW cannibal Bukowski (John Morghen aka Giovanni Lombardo Radice of Cannibal Ferox fame) gets out of hospital and invites Norman out for a drink and a catch up. Bad timing, as Norman’s about to be seduced by jailbait neighbour Mary. A scene that can only be described as sleazetastic ensues, as Mary throws herself at Norman and… he bites her?

Yep, Norman got bit in ‘Nam, by Bukowski, and before long we find out that the bites are contagious. And if you survive a bite, you get carnivorous too! So having been stood up by Norman, Bukowski takes himself off to the local flea pit cinema where he watches a couple getting into some serious heavy petting in the next row. He decides to join in – only he takes it that step further by chowing down on the girl’s neck. All hell breaks loose from here on in…

The cannibal part of the title is more than justified, although when I saw the word ‘apocalypse’ I was thinking more Dawn of the Dead, end of the world type action. Instead we find Norman teaming up with the other cannibals and going on the run. In a strange twist we’re expected to sympathise with the cannibals and not the cops on their trail.

You can read as much or as little into this movie as you like. On the surface it’s a straight up hard-boiled video shop classic, with dodgy dubbing on almost everyone in the cast except Saxon, and some howlers in the script. Whilst Bukowski is holed up taking pot-shots at the cops, the police captain, hard-boiled in the old fashioned sense of the word, demands to know “Is he a subversive, a queer, a black, a commy, a muslim, what the hell is he?”

Cringes and laughs aside, part of me came away wondering if the whole thing wasn’t a metaphor for PTSD. We’re privy to the suffering of Norman and his bity comrades, but the psychological trauma they suffer is met with confusion, apathy and suspicion. They infect all they come into contact with, spreading madness and terror, the horrors they’ve encountered tainting those around them. They’re a lost cause, with no resources or understanding to address the suffering they’ve had all in the name of protecting and serving their country. Sounds familiar… Eerily in the final act, Norman dons his old army uniform and opts to put himself out of his misery so as not to drag out his suffering and that of his wife, Jane (Elizabeth Turner). In an added tragic twist Jane decides to die with her husband, and both hero and heroine go out in a suicide pact. But not to leave us totally depressed, a cheeky last bite comes when we realise jailbait Mary next door and her brother have succumbed to the spreading disease and have got their old aunt chopped up for later in the freezer.

So as an exploitation movie this stands up amongst the best. Director Antonio Margheriti also had a hand in Andy Warhol’s queertastic Frankenstein and Dracula outings. And for a macho blood and guts flick we get plenty of lingering shots on John Saxon in his boxer shorts and later in just a towel. We might actually see more of his tits than any of the ladies. As always he puts in a strong performance clothed or otherwise.

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So take from it what you will. A comment on the trauma of war and the devastating after effects on its cannon fodder, or a good old-fashioned beer-and-pizza cannibal flick? I’m happy to see it as both. But then I’m greedy. Now where did I put those entrails?

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As always, get me on twitter to vent if you disagree, or just kiss my ass if you love what I do! Either works for me! @jonnylarkin

JL

Screaming Queenz 2: Martin’s Revenge

Welcome to Series 2 of Screaming Queenz. Listen to our new episode on ‘Neon Demon’ and you’ll be surprised to find that bitch Martin Fenerty has stolen my slot and is hosting the show! I plan to claw my way back, maybe take him from behind with a straight razor and gut him like a little gay fish.

I’m just kidding. I wouldn’t dirty my blade on him. We decided that for our second series we’d change it up. You’ll be hearing a whole lot more from Martin, Jon and Stephen as we go along.

Why did I decide to break the show up into series’ (or seasons you might want to say – that’s fine if you’re American) you might ask? No reason in particular, other than it being an excuse to find some new soundbites for the opening music and give us a reset button moment. A way to start again, go bigger and better. When I was a kid one of the queer nerdy things I used to love was waiting to see the new opening credits on a new series of Melrose Place, or Buffy, or The X Files (which never happened, well not until I stopped watching it and they brought in replacements). So this was my way of creating my own version of that. God I’m pathetic. And I love it.

Keen-eared listeners will spot familiar soundbites in there. Some not so familiar. You can think of the opening credits as a mission statement, an action plan, a promise, or maybe a threat, of things to come in the new run of shows. We’ve barely scratched the tip of the queer horror iceberg in series 1. So much still to cover.

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Psycho, for instance, the ultimate in repressed sexuality brought to startling life in bloody monochrome. The cross-dressing Norman declaring that “a boy’s best friend is his mother”. Bless him. We all know where he’s coming from. Even the queens who’ve lost their mother, through fate or through design, find a best friend in a patriarch. It could be Cher cooing you to sleep through a vocoder. It could be Auntie Mame cuddling you close as she gives you your first sip of a dirty Martini. Or, indeed, it could be the malicious bitch you just poisoned, skinned and stepped into to create a better, more glamorous version of Mummy. We need to talk about Norman. And we will. Once that psychiatrist gets through explaining the ins and outs of this weird little perversion he calls transsexualism. Of course we don’t think it’s perverted. Or maybe we do and that’s why we identify with it so much? We all go a little pervy sometimes.

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Speaking of pervy, just how many jockstrap references did Victor Salva squeeze un-lubed into his Jeepers Creepers movies? I mean seriously, a serial killing demon who likes to sniff the soiled underwear of teenage guys before ingesting their vital organs to make himself whole again? Anyone would think this stuff was written by a letchy old dirtbag. Oh. Wait. Either way we’re covering Jeepers Creepers 1 and 2 at some point down the line and we will leave no stone unturned in the debate that rages now in the horror community. Is watching these movies – and the imminent sequel – immoral in the wake of the scandal that surrounds their creator? Or should art be judged on its own merits and not those of the dirty old man behind the curtain? Which leads nicely to a love of mine I want to explore in the coming year.

Childhood horror the likes of which hasn’t been seen since Dorothy returned to Oz. When little Fairuza Balk – before she tore up the screen as uber-bitch-in-charge Nancy in The Craft – was strapped to a table about to be pumped full of electro shock therapy, the target audience cowered. The parents complained. The popcorn was ditched and eyes were shielded. But little horror-loving queens like me sat up and took notice. The promise of horror from Wizard of Oz’s Miss Gulch never quite delivered. I wanted her to track down Toto and make a little hot dog too. Anyone else? Just me? Okay I’ll take that. But what did you love as a child? What horrors crept out of that screen and thrilled you when all your friends were crying in the corner? And what went too far? That episode of ‘Hammer House of Horror’ with the hitch-hiker doppelganger and the long black fingernail STILL haunts me to this day. As does the phone-call to babysitter Jill asking if she’s checked the children in ‘When a Stranger Calls’. But it didn’t land me in therapy. It landed me in bed with my aunt and uncle terrified of the shadows but wanting more!

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If you’re reading this then I want you to send me your favourite childhood horror – whether it thrilled you or terrified you I want to know. So tweet me at @jonnylarkin, or email screamingqueenz@gmail.com. Or just comment below.

There’s a fabulous line in the new opening montage. “Ursula Andress belongs with the transvestites, not the perverts!” It is, of course, an excerpt from the giallo ‘Bird with the Crystal Plumage.’ Giallo is something we all discovered quite recently at Screaming Queenz. We dipped our toe last year and our downloads went through the roof. Since then we’ve covered more gialli and the new series will be no different. In fact we’ll be covering so much Italian crime horror that we thought it only fitting to include the afore-mentioned snippet in our theme song. Not only did we find a subgenre oozing style and slightly misogynistic charm, we found a wading pool overflowing with campness and complex, sometimes problematic queer chops.

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For the uninitiated a giallo is an Italian pulp thriller with heavy gothic horror overtones. Mainly from the 60s and 70s and then petering out in the 80s, and hailing from Catholic, macho Italy, it’s no surprise these films are laden with women being sliced and diced and often falling into the category of victim, pervert or predator. Nothing scares a macho 70s heterosexual male more than a woman he can’t fuck, a woman he can’t save, or a woman who wants to bump him off!  But scratch the surface and there’s a much more complicated narrative to explore. To write these works of art off as cheap sleazy exercises in bigotry and misogyny would be lazy. And also a travesty if you like your horror camp, kitsch and genuinely shocking. You’d be missing out on so many treats – and one of the few subgenres of horror to feature gay men and women – and trans characters – in prominent roles. Admittedly the roles range from vacuous to offensive but there are gems to behold. And we’re here to pick them out just for you.

So we hope you’ll stick with us into our second series. I don’t want to give too much away at this point but we’ve got surprises planned, although we won’t be messing with the formula too much. If it ain’t broke, don’t cut the fucker up. But as ever want your feedback. Email, tweet, whatever. Get mad.

We all go a little mad sometimes…

(JL)

 

 

New Year’s Evil

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Ah New Year’s Eve! That time of year when every Tom Dick and Harry puts together their list. 2016 in review. The year we realised the world wasn’t going mad anymore. It was already drooling into its oatmeal ahead of a date with Dr Electro-shock. Well before it smears ‘Help me’ in its own excrement on the nearest white surface let me chime in.

This horror nerd had a great year. It was 12 months where we took our little podcast and got us a following, and we’re ending 2016 with over 2500 downloads. In 12 months? That ain’t bad going.

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Today I thought I’d try and cram in some of the more recent horrors so I could put together a review of my own but, having only been mildly entertained by Starry Eyes, and bored rigid by the overwritten script in Green Room, I’m not really in the mood to do that anymore. I might just sit back and watch the Criterion Blu Ray of Cat People instead. This isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed what’s been on offer this year. Don’t Breathe was a particular pleasant surprise. And we will get round to posting our Neon Demon podcast in January…

Before that I’d like to thank my gorgeous co-podcasters for helping me realize an ambition and also letting me indulge them in their supreme geekdom. We’ve learned as the year has progressed and I’m sure as 2017 swings round we’ll keep learning.

One of the more surprising things I learned this year is that I shouldn’t call Barbara Crampton a scream queen. The irony of this is I’d never heard of her before Jonathan Butler chose her as his scream queen of choice for our Scream Queen special. See how many times I said scream queen there? I’m going to say it as much as possible whenever and however I like. You see the funny thing is, when you grow up queer, you learn about the importance of language and context. You learn the power of words and how they can be used in such different ways by different people. You learn that not everything is so black and white. Somebody screaming ‘queer’ at me in the street before throwing a brick… that’s bad. But somebody kissing me all over my face and handing me a drink and saying ‘where the fuck have you been you queer, you were supposed to be here an hour ago!’ That’s good. You might think that sounds obvious and maybe a little patronising. But hey that’s the world we live in. Apparently we all need to be taught to suck eggs because we’re so stupid we don’t understand things like context.

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I don’t make a habit of spelling things out for people so it ends there. Let’s just say, when I call somebody a Scream Queen, that word I’m using, queen, is something that comes with a crown atop its head, it’s a term of endearment, of power. So when you come to me and accuse me of denigrating, of reducing, of demeaning? Well you better just give me the money back I paid for your DVDs, your signed picture, or indeed, that new extension you just got built on your third home in the Hollywood hills. But hey. No shade. We’re all about the love. Honest.

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But hey, each month there’s a new term, a new word, a new name even, that has been adopted by sycophants and keyboard warriors to plaster on a meme or a banner as being offensive. Shit happens. And it will continue to happen in 2017.

What will also continue is our amazing little podcast. We’re the best queer horror cast out there and if you haven’t listened yet then come on! Get your shit together. We don’t sit talking about dicks and wigs and makeup for the whole hour. We’re serious horror fans. We know our shit. So it’s OK for you to listen to it if you’re not queer too. You might even learn something. You probably won’t. But you’ll laugh with us, I’m sure, and you may hear of a horror movie you haven’t seen yet and seek it out.

I’m so excited for the coming year. We’ve got more giallo, we’ve got more cult classics, we’ve got guest spots lined up (two of whom share the surname La Rue, how weird is that), and we’ve got a stack of DVDs and Blu Rays waiting to be watched, enjoyed, berated, and watched again.

We love you for listening. And we hope you love us. Screaming Queenz need the most love.

All episodes available here:

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/screaming-queenz/id1070845275?mt=2

Stitcher: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/screaming-queenz

Podbean: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com

SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/screamingqueenzpodcast

We thank you from the bottom of our bleeding hearts 😉

JL @jonnylarkin

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LUCKY 13! Our first series of podcasts all in one place…

Having reached our 13th episode and 1000 downloads it felt a good time to look back over the podcasts so far. We started out experimenting to see if we were actually any good at this – and it turns out we’re kinda cool!

I always felt I had something to say about the genre that came from a personal place. Whether it was reminiscing about my childhood via my love of horror movies, or looking at them through the queer lens that a lot of horror fans might never have looked through before… I knew I wanted to do something. I don’t have the ego or the inclination to get on camera and subject the Youtube-going public to my ramblings. So I thought a podcast was a happy medium. Less invasive. More low-key. And you can get away with using audio clips more! Plus we can now secretly send out soundwaves that will do this to all the people we hate…

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If you go back to the beginning with the Hammer Horror episode, we’re still finding our feet and the flow isn’t quite there yet. But we still riff on everything from Ingrid Pitt’s lesbian temptress in The Vampire Lovers to the camp count Karnstein in Twins of Evil. Not to mention hissy sissy Baron Meinster and his fierce almost-drag mother the Baroness in Brides of Dracula. Our guest podcaster Stephen Blundell talks about that cosy feeling that comes from watching Hammer late at night as a young boy with a taste for fangs, reanimated corpses and misty graveyards.

Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-episode-2-hammer-horror/

The good thing about having a mix of ages, ranging from 25 to… well, last time I checked Martin was 103, is that our conversations throw in references from very different times in the genre’s history. So when we’re talking Video Nasties in Episode 3, not only do you have Stephen Moore being brand new to a lot of the titles like Driller Killer and Island of Death, but you also get Martin Fenerty’s personal touch. He was there when the Video Nasty madness first kicked in. And even more interesting, he was around when Liverpool had its very own grindhouse cinema. Not only do we laugh at the non-PC attitude towards gays, drag queens and lesbians across a lot of the video nasties, poke fun at the horrendous, tasteless Nazi-sploitation of Ilsa She Wolf of the SS, and cringe at the rape-revenge ‘feminism’ of I Spit On Your Grave, but we also get a little political. It’s hard not to when you come from one of the cities that was hit hardest by Thatcher’s iron lady-fist, the same one that smashed up our working class haven – the VIDEO SHOP – and told us what we could and couldn’t watch.

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Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-episode-3-video-nasties/

Creepshow was a staple of my local video shop. And it was also where I developed a crippling fear of cockroaches! It’s the centre piece of the Anthology/Portmanteau episode that goes back to the Amicus titles like Tales from the Crypt but also brings you bang up to date with VHS and ABCs of Death. Sometimes we let the queer angle slip and just wanna talk horror whether it’s campy or not. But what a pleasant surprise I got when I settled down to Tales from the Crypt for the first time and was greeted with Joan Collins murdering her husband on Christmas Eve, rocking the smoky eye make-up and decanting blood into a champagne flute to save on the cleaning bill!

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Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-episode-4-portmanteau-horror/

I’ll let you in on a secret. Well it’s not so secret. We podcast from my house, and more specifically, my BAR. So when we sat down to record a mammoth 4 hour epic on the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the gin and the beer was flowing all damn night. We split that talk into three episodes. Going back to the video shop – and I always do – the poster for Nightmare 2, with Freddy towering over the school bus, is a relic of my childhood. I would gaze up at that thing over the desk at the video shop and wish so badly that I could have it. I didn’t get it. But I did get the movie. And seeing as I was about 9 at the time I finally got to watch it, it was still a little too early for me to realise I was looking at one of the most homosexual pieces of film ever made.

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If you’re a fan of this blog, or the podcast, you’re no stranger to the world of jockstraps, leather bars and sweaty 80s hard-body boys that is Nightmare 2. But let’s face it the whole series had a kinda queer edge. The campness of Nancy’s mom in the first movie, who Jonathan Butler describes as being “the colour no other human has ever been”, is enough to give this film cult queer status alone. But add to that a young Johnny Depp rocking a crop top and an ass that won’t quit and you’ve got a rainbow-coloured night in front of the TV right there. And as the series progresses to 80s power rock, shitty celebrity cameos and Kelly Rowland using the term ‘faggot’, there is much for a queer audience to chew the fat on. And that we did. You can hear how drunk we got particularly in part 3 of the Freddy podcast.

Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-episode-5-nightmare-on-elm-st-1-of-3/

Here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-episode-6-nightmare-on-elm-st-3-5/

And here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-episode-7-freddys-dead-stop-remaking-him/

By this point it was time to bring things a little up to date so we went in on The Witch, The Boy and Netflix horror Hush. And we also managed to go in on the increasingly irritating multiplex cinema crowd that, for me, are ruining the movie-going experience. Put your God damn phone away, forget social media for 90 minutes and lose yourself in the movie for God’s sake! Or is it just me? Am I getting old? Don’t answer that.

Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-episode-8-black-philip-is-my-homeboy/

Maybe I was just gunning for an argument from being wound up by the noisy cinema crowd when I brought up the idea of a 2-part special looking at horror movies everybody totally loves… that we hate. The Shining, The Exorcist, Cabin in the Woods and Coppola’s Crapula, sorry DRACULA, come under fire, but we’re not unanimous on these choices. I mean… hear the passive aggressive tone in my voice when Stephen Moore disses the Exorcist. I didn’t spit pea soup but I did jam a crucifix up his ass. And he loved it. Not as much as we love Chris Hemsworth in Cabin… but you’ll have to listen to the show to see how filthy we get over him.

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Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-ep-9-classic-horror-says-who-part-1/

And here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/classic-horror-says-who-part-2/

Argento’s Suspiria and Inferno follow. Our first real foray into Italian horror. The beautiful, operatic world of the witchy dance school in Suspiria is like a queer fever dream in itself. Argento’s giallo movies are subject of an upcoming episode but for now we stick with the supernatural, and we throw in a quick review of The Conjuring 2 as well…

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Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-ep-11-conjuring-argento/

Many declare Nightmare 2 to be the pinnacle of queertastic horror but I argue that Sleepaway Camp is the queen bitch. I mean. Short shorts. A LOT of short shorts. Skinny-dipping. And that iconic twist ending which basically stuck a finger – or a penis – up at slasher movie conventions in the early 80s. Some think it’s an insane film. I agree. But I also think it’s got giant balls, and most of them are on show through denim!

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Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-ep-12-sleepaway-camp/

The most recent episode, lucky 13, goes back to witchcraft. Gays love a witch. She’s shunned, but fierce, she wears a lot of black, a lot of drag queen makeup, and the bitch owns her shit. I am, of course, mainly talking about Fairuza Balk in The Craft. But kudos must be given to Bette Midler in Hocus Pocus whether we like the movie or not, and not to mention that beacon of all that is camp and fabulous, Jessica Lange in AHS: Coven.

With Adam Wingard pulling the rug from under us and revealing that his generi-shocker The Woods is actually a Blair Witch sequel, this podcast was eerily timely. It’s almost like we planned it. We didn’t, of course.

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Listen here: http://screamingqueenz.podbean.com/e/screaming-queenz-ep-13-wicca-please-part-1/

If you listen to us back to back from 1 to 13 you’ll see how our rapport grows, how the gin intake increases, but mostly you’ll hear how much we love this genre. The only thing better than watching a horror movie is dissecting it afterwards (NOT DURING, TURN YOUR PHONE OFF) with your friends. Screaming Queenz doesn’t take itself seriously but it takes its horror seriously, and it has a lot of fun doing it.

We’re also on Soundcloud now!

And I’m so lazy I haven’t started a Screaming Queenz twitter yet, so if you have feedback – PLEASE give us feedback – get me on my personal account: @jonnylarkin