How Do You Salva Problem Like Victor?

BEATNU

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Sorry for the silence and lack of updates here – I’ve had writing commitments that have kept me otherwise engaged!

Meantime listen to our new podcast looking at Jeepers Creepers and the dark legacy of Victor Salva. A convicted sex offender, Salva received most of his success AFTER doing jail time for his crime. In our new episode we take a look at Jeepers Creepers, and then in part 2 we will review Jeepers Creepers 2 and delve further into the real life horror of the movie’s creator. Interesting debates are sparked here – can you separate the art from the artist? Should we feel guilty for watching the movies that are created by people like Salva? If so then where do we draw the line? Salva was supported and funded by Disney and Francis Ford Coppola – so do we burn all our copies of The Godfather and The Little Mermaid? Once you scratch the surface this is a rabbit hole that has no bottom and is a continuous source of debate. We touch on it here in the first episode with much more to come in Part 2.

So settle down and listen below. And please give us your feedback! We need it like the Creeper needs eyeballs!

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HEREDITARY – SPOILER-FREE REVIEW

Reports from the festivals, particularly Cannes, have Hereditary painted as “this generation’s The Exorcist”. I made a vow that apart from the trailer I wouldn’t buy into any of the hype and, for the most part, I was successful. It doesn’t help that the afore-mentioned ‘Exorcist’ comparisons now happen to be splashed across buses and billboards the world over.

So does Hereditary live up to the hype – whether you’ve bought into it or not?

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Yes. And no. This review will remain spoiler free, but the basic premise involves a death. The movie opens with the obituary of Ellen Graham, beloved mother and grandmother. A refreshing spin on a familiar opening gambit, we get to meet the Graham family as they don’t exactly mourn Ellen’s passing. Mom Annie (Toni Collette) wonders whether she should be crying more, whilst son Peter (Alex Wolff) is equally as indifferent to her passing, more interested in getting stoned and chasing girls than shedding tears over his grandma. We come to discover this is due to the fact that Ellen spent much of Peter’s childhood estranged from the family. She did, however, bond with 13 year old Charlie, played by the unique and striking Milly Shapiro. Anybody who has seen the trailers will recognise Charlie’s face, as she has been by and large painted as the centre piece, a sinister, odd-looking child who could very well turn out to be the villain at the heart of the movie. But to say some surprises are in store would be an understatement.

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Hereditary excels in its slow-burn, scabrous view of the family unit. Through some surprisingly clunky exposition we get the lowdown on the Grahams’ trials and tribulations through the years in one fell swoop. Those looking for red herrings, twists and turns might want to be poised pencil in hand during this moment, where Toni Collette gives a harrowing performance whilst grappling with force-feeding the audience a ton of information. The motif of the dolls’ houses played up in the trailers is similarly utilised to full effect throughout the film. Ellen is an artist who paints her biography in scale models of her home, her history, and the most harrowing moments of her life before and throughout the film’s timeline. In laying its foundations with a slow paced introduction and exploration of the wounded family dynamics of the Grahams, before letting them have it full force with a series of nasty surprises, those ‘Exorcist’ comparisons seem justified.

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But whilst the movie scales giddy heights and plums murky depths in its depiction of very human horror – the destruction of an already fragile nest via intense grief and suffering – its handling of classic horror tropes left me a little cold. Seasoned horror fans will see the reveals coming a mile off. I won’t reference the movies that have told similar stories better for fear of spoiling the plot. But as I enjoyed that gradual build of dread and terror and cowered gleefully at some pretty nifty tricks of the light, I found that the smoke and mirrors did not herald the horrors I’d hoped for. So in that sense, Hereditary falls just short of the hype.

The performances are solid. Toni Collette is raw and heartbreaking – although I found her too emotionally articulate for somebody suffering such extreme trauma. On the downside Gabriel Byrne was underserved as dad Steve, who whilst sensitively portrayed as a man struggling to keep a crumbling family together, simply dissolved into the background a like some of the apparitions that appear as the film progresses. Ann Dowd, who brilliantly evokes sadism and self-loathing as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale, is another highlight as grief-groupie Joan.

So the story, as it reveals itself, is nothing new. And personally I have seen it done more effectively elsewhere. But as a horrifying and unflinching examination of grief, loss and the utter desolation of a family under fire from forces both inside and out of the spiritual realm, Hereditary hits the mark.

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For a spoilerific full rundown click the link below and listen to the latest episode of our podcast!

JL

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!

A Quiet Place (Review)

a_quiet_place_still_3A Quiet Place (2018)

Directed by John Krasinski, who stars with real life wife Emily Blunt, A Quiet Place has crept up on the box office and reportedly had the best opening weekend of the year since Black Panther. Proof that positive buzz and good old fashioned word of mouth still has the power to make a genre outing a surprising success.

So is it any good? The answer is yes. In fact it’s very good. Smart and efficient and clocking in at a spritely 98 minutes – take note, please, a horror doesn’t need to be any longer than this – A Quiet Place packs a punch both in the fear stakes and also emotionally. Set in the near future where the planet has been invaded by spider-like creatures who are blind and hunt on sound alone, we’re thrown straight into the action as the Abbott family forage for supplies in an abandoned supermarket in a small town in rural USA. Evelyn (Blunt) and Lee (Krasinski) lead their three children barefoot and on tip-toes silently back through the woods towards home, a farm in the middle of nowhere. But tragedy strikes and we’re introduced to the terrifying alien threat in one swift and brutal attack…

Cut to months later and the Abbotts are picking up the pieces and surviving in silence, but to add another complication, Evelyn is now heavily pregnant. And newborn babies are not known for their silence… It won’t be a huge spoiler to reveal that when the baby comes along everything goes to shit and the Abbotts are thrown into a rapidly escalating battle with the monsters that lie in wait. And not all of them will survive to the finish.

A Quiet Place takes its time to get going but once the attacks begin there is barely room to breathe. The tension is hiked up to the power of ten as Krasinski’s script, refreshingly low on dialogue but a tad high on sentimentality, throws some pretty nifty set-pieces our way. The family take on the aliens in corn-fields (hello Shyamalan and Stephen King), grain-silos, a flooded basement, and at one point even in a bathtub…

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The premise – sound can kill – means the film absorbs its audience whilst at the same time encouraging them to be quiet! Who knew? In the rapidly infuriating multiplex culture of keeping the film noisy to cover the smart-phone obsessed chattering bag-rustling masses, here’s a film that actually quite cleverly silences its viewers. So not only are you more immersed in the action, but you’re actually less obnoxious at the same time. Win win!

The movie brings the scares, the tension, and excellent performances by the young cast who play the Abbott kids tug at the heart strings. Deaf actress Millie Simmonds is especially touching as daughter Regan (where have we heard that name before) who’s disability could prove to be the ultimate undoing of the marauding creatures.

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Being a hardened cynic I found some of the more sentimental moments a little queasy, but don’t let that put you off. This surprising and smart horror movie revels in treating genre fans to all the right tropes in all the right places, and reminds the jabbering masses that silence is golden.

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Now shut the fuck up and watch the damn movie.

(JL)

VERÓNICA (2017)

SPOILER FREE REVIEW

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Having been privy to articles from Ladbible and the likes declaring the latest Spanish horror on Netflix to be the most terrifying thing to hit our screens since Katie Hopkins, the Screaming Queenz were wondering if palms had been greased for such OTT superlatives to be thrown around. So with my eyebrow arched in its favourite cynical position I sat down to watch Verónica to find out for myself.

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Set in Madrid in 1991, the films follows its titular heroine as she struggles to help her work-all-night-sleep-all-day mum to raise 3 kids, whilst navigating the horrors of adolescence and awaiting her first period. Deciding life isn’t already grim enough Verónica takes to the school basement with her gal pals and plays around with a Ouija board during – you guessed it – a solar eclipse. Grieving the loss of her father, Veró wants to make contact. It won’t be the mother of all spoilers to tell you she doesn’t get hold of her dad – there’s someone or something much more dark and sinister on the line. And once she’s made contact, her demonic new friend isn’t going to leave without a fight…

So is the film indeed a shit-your-pants frightfest unlike anything we’ve ever seen before? Well… no. But for the rest of us out there once bitten twice shy after Netflix gave us the Cloverfield shitpile, I can reassure you… it’s actually not bad. In fact it’s quite good. Every demonic Ouija board haunting trope is thrown into Verónica. Troubled family life, recent bereavement, creepy kids drawing shadowy figures, there’s even a creepy old blind nun, not to mention nods to everything from Nosferatu to Paranormal Activity. But such clichés can be forgiven in a film that cranks up the emotional punch with sweet and quirky performances from its cast, primarily children who are neither terribly wooden or precocious.

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Veró’s battle with her burgeoning womanhood, high school politics and a largely absent mother are obvious but well-played. The horror of a girl’s first period is driven home with a surprisingly gruesome scene involving cannibal children that stands out like a blood-stained mattress. The film falls down with its use of dodgy CGI but then regains its scare factor with glimpses of the demon in the shadows, reflected in the TV screen (hello Signs) and leering through plate glass doors. And a decidedly downbeat ending draws the film back from the sentimental edge it teeters on just at the last minute.

So despite it being overhyped, Verónica is still worth your time. A few good scares, not to mention a synth soundtrack with more than a few nods to the original Nightmare on Elm Street score, and solid performances, mean it won’t disappoint.

While you’re here, have you heard our new podcast looking at Silence of the Lambs? If you like jizz jokes, bad Jodie Foster impressions and want to hear our opinion on whether the film is transphobic or not, click the link below:

JL

Beautiful Stranger

The Countess comes to Liverpool…

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We’ve been talking to Liverpool Pride about bringing queer horror to a scouse audience and they could not have been more excited. As a result, one of our favourite movies EVER is coming to Picturehouse at FACT for Halloween. Well, the day after to be precise. On Wednesday 1st November 2017 ‘Daughters of Darkness’ will be screened to an unsuspecting audience. This under-appreciated gem needs a new audience… and we’re hoping people crawl out of their crypts to enjoy it. But why?

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“I’m just an outmoded character, nothing more. You know, the beautiful stranger, slightly sad, slightly mysterious, who haunts one place after another. Two weeks ago in Nice and Monte Carlo, two days ago in Bruges….”

The gays love a tragic heroine. Throw in the glamour of this beautiful shadow of a woman languishing in the heat of the South of France, sipping cocktails and longing to be eternally youthful and you’ve got camp dynamite. Only we don’t pick up The Countess in Nice or Monaco, but in a rainy, out of season, desolate hotel in Ostend. However we do get languishing, we do get cocktails (of the troubling green variety), and we do get a tragic figure… if not a heroine, then a timely echo of the youth-obsessed culture we’re more immersed in than ever…

Countess Elizabeth Báthory doesn’t fill her face with Botox to maintain a youthful glow – but the blood of virgins. By any means necessary. She swans across Europe, her cape billowing in the wind, shimmering in an impossibly glam outfit that she got from Marlene Dietrich, with her companion du jour at her side. Right now it’s Ilona, the glum-faced young beauty styled after Louise Brooks. The Countess isn’t particularly interested with finding a hunky young man to carry her hat boxes and tuck her in at night (or should that be at dawn?), but with nubile young women just desperate to be plucked from a life of patriarchal servitude and treated to a life of luxury, trailing on her aristrocatic fur coat-tails from one penthouse to the next. Only Ilona doesn’t look too happy about it. At one point she even moans “You call this living?” The Countess, obsessed with the surface beauty of eternal youth and bourgeouis excess, fails to acknowledge that she’s not saving enslaved women and liberating them – she’s just taking them out of the frying pan and plonking them mid-sizzle into her cool blue fire. She doesn’t particularly care whether they like it or not, they just have to match her purple ostrich feather ensembles and look good on her arm at the ambassador’s party.

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If Ilona hates the ‘life’ she’s been blood-sucked into then her luck might just be in. Because when we check in with the vamps we meet newlyweds Stefan and Valerie, fresh off an overnight train having had a whirlwind marriage, en route back to England where Valerie is to meet Stefan’s formidable mother. But all is not what it seems. Stefan is a sadistic misogynist who believes women should do his bidding, and Valerie is far from happy. Stefan is also keeping a pretty big secret about his Mother – one I won’t spoil here but let’s just say the film’s queer credentials don’t end at Sapphic vampirism…

So begins a ridiculously camp and stylish tale of the seduction of Valerie by Countess Elizabeth. Made in 1970 (released in 71), the film is loaded down with problematic attitudes to both women and homosexuality. But never let that get in the way of a good horror film. Especially one as beautiful as this. Delphine Seyrig – the best damn Marlene Dietrich you’re gonna get post-Marlene Dietrich – imbues her immortal lesbian vampire with both a coquettish brass nerve and a sad, longing vulnerability. In a film with more than its share of humdinger lines and hammy performances she’s shockingly plausible as a seductress, and engaging to the very end. Whether she’s spreading her sparkly cape to warm the chilled shoulders of her shivering charge and resembling a Weimar-era giant bat in the process, or recounting graphic tales of torture whilst sipping her crème de menthe in the hotel bar, you just cannot get enough of her. She carries the film, with the other players curled at her feet. Eagle-eyed viewers of a certain age may notice that posh-boy-wifebeater Stefan is played by John Karlen, who smartened up his act ten years later, got a job on a building site and married Mary Beth in the role of Harv in Cagney and Lacey. Or you might just be too distracted by his ever-so-short tomato robe and slippers. Not to mention the fact that he treats poor Valerie like absolute dirt.

But rest assured he gets his comeuppance. This being a 70s Eurotrash lesbian vampire movie, it’s not long before Valerie falls under the spell of the Countess. Ilona, for all her whingeing, isn’t going to be happy about that – and neither is Stefan. The blood flows in some of the most awkward and inexplicable death scenes you’ll ever witness. For softcore horror fans – don’t be put off by this. The blood is minimal. However there’s plenty of nudity, with an impromptu naked moon dance from Ilona that has to be seen to be believed.

You’ll come out scratching your head – what was the film saying? Was it demonizing misogyny, the aristocracy, or was it aligning homosexuality with deviance and decadence? Or was it subverting the genre with the marabou slipper suddenly on the other foot as the Countess toys with Stefan’s masculinity and casts him aside to swoop in on his new bride? Maybe you’ll still be under the spell of the Countess and you won’t care. Whatever happens, sit back and let this languid, beautiful movie wash over you.

Fans of Screaming Queenz will remember our podcast on the movie. But if you haven’t heard it then click away below. There are spoilers so beware…

Get your tickets for this screening here. We’ll be there, possibly in our purple ostrich feathers. Come and get your teeth into it and we’ll have a good old laugh in the bar after!

http://www.fact.co.uk/whats-on/current/halloween-at-fact-with-liverpool-pride-flis-mitchell.aspx

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Bottoms up…

JL

GERALD’S GAME (2017)

Mild spoilers ahead…

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The hype machine has gone into overdrive for a certain Mr Stephen King in recent months. First ‘It’ opened to record numbers and became the highest grossing horror movie ever, then over on Netflix an altogether darker, more cerebral piece of work from the maestro of the macabre slipped in quietly to give us nightmares into the wee small hours. That would be ‘Gerald’s Game’, and what a game it is.

Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood star as Jessie and Gerald, who after eleven years of a slowly dying marriage, decide to head out to their lake house in the middle of nowhere to spice things up. What begins as an innocent sex game involving handcuffs and Viagra soon spirals into a rape fantasy and death. You only have to watch the trailer to know Gerald bites it pretty early on, keeling over from a heart attack and leaving Jessie chained to the bed with nothing but her personal demons and a very hungry rabid dog for company…

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I must admit, whilst looking forward to seeing Gerald’s Game I did wonder how they could spin out 1 hour 47 minutes of a woman chained to a bed. For the most part my worries were unfounded. Once Gerald drops dead things spiral pretty quickly. We go full throttle into Jessie’s psyche and no disturbing stone is left unturned.

One thing Stephen King has always excelled at is taking our primal childhood fears and making them a very real, terrifying reality. Fear of the dark. Monsters. The hand reaching out from under the bed. The nightmare flipside of the nuclear family. The horror of parents turning a blind eye when they should be protecting us. The desperate loneliness of insomnia where everything is at its blackest and most hopeless. All of these take centre stage.

But the true horror of this piece – and of Jessie’s life – is (mild spoiler) child abuse. With more than an echo of the wonderful film adaptation of Dolores Claiborne, we’re treated to a red-tinged flashback to a solar eclipse that heralded the end of Jessie’s childhood at the hands of her father. The nuanced performances and writing around this portion of the movie bring out the manipulative depths a child abuser will go to to keep his secret safe, and in a truly heartbreaking scene we see the trauma a young Jessie goes through as she’s emotionally blackmailed into keeping shtum. This is a rare thing indeed in any movie let alone a horror movie, to see writing and characterisation of such depth.

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Which is why it’s almost inexplicable that in the last fifteen minutes of the movie we’re treated to a script that suddenly is so schmaltzy and on the nose you start to wonder if it’s flipped into a parody of what we’ve been enjoying for the previous 90 minutes. Being a connoisseur of the camp, the trashy and the bad, I could appreciate some of the humdinger lines and wrap-it-up-in-a-pink-bow resolution in a tongue in cheek way. But seriously, having gone through the traumas we see Jessie endure for the majority of the movie, my jaw was on the floor at what the movie then became.

This in no way detracts from the film experience so don’t let that put you off. There were two moments during Gerald’s Game where I screamed and shouted in horror – you’ll know the moments when you see them. One that will put you off that burgeoning foot fetish for life, and the other that will make you wince in agony along with Jessie. The film GOES there with the horror. If you saw ‘It’ and, like me and the other Screaming Queenz, thought whilst it was a good movie it lacked the depths of horror that only Stephen King can bring? Well this movie has that in spades.

Of the two much-hyped King adaptations (I’m not even going there with Dark Tower), this one brings the pure horror that ‘It’ lacked.

Gerald’s Game is one worth playing. Just keep an eye out for The Moonlight Man…

JL

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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3K3OJW2ecM

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

Argento and Goblin

Welcome back! As we continue to look at some the great horror collaborations we turn our attention to Dario Argento and his frequent and hugely successful work with the Italian Prog-Rock band Goblin – and two of the cult films that came out of this relationship.

ARGENTO DARIO

Dario Argento came to prominence in the early 70’s, his debut film being 1970’s “The Bird with the Crystal Plumage.” This would be followed in 1971 by “Cat O’ nine Tails” and finishing up the trilogy with 1972’s “Four Flies on Grey Velvet”, these films are now known as Argento’s “Animal Trilogy”. Interestingly, Argento collaborated with another legendary composer for these films, who may pop up again at some point….For today though we are talking about Argento’s relationship with Goblin.

Goblin logo

Inspired by UK Prog-Rock bands like “Yes”, “King Crimson” and “Emerson, Lake and Palmer” Goblin were formed in the early 70’s by the two main band members, Claudio Simonetti and Massimo Morante. Performing initially under the name “Oliver” and then working for a while as “Cherry Five” the familiar Goblin name didn’t come into being until they were asked by Argento to help create the score for 1975’s “Profondo Rosso (Deep Red)”.

For a full insight into our thoughts on Profondo Rosso (Deep Red) we have an episode all about it so feel free to check that out!

The short version for the purpose of the article is as follows; English music teacher Marc Daly (David Hemmings) currently living in Rome, witnesses the murder of neighbour (and pyschic) Helga Ullman. Marc intervenes in an attempt to save her but is unfortunately too late.

deep red Marc

Marc finds himself dragged into the case when he is attacked in his own home soon after. Marc remembers seeing a mysterious painting on the wall that vanishes after the murder, thinking this could be a clue to the identity of the murderer he begins investigating. Joining Marc on his quest to find the murderer is reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi) and her broken car.

Deep Red car

What follows is a visual masterpiece, the imagery on display in Profondo Rosso is easily some of the best in the entire Giallo genre and is well worth investigating for yourself. A beautiful mix of the modern and the classic, the timeless backdrop of Rome with modern touches throughout.

Deep Red gif

Argento originally hired Italian pianist and composer Giorgio Gaslini to write the score for Profondo Rosso, but after hearing his intended score Argento was apparently very dissatisfied. The idea then became to have Gaslini composing the music and having it performed by prog-rock band. Legend has it that Argento was hoping to approach Pink Floyd to perform the score, not to diminish Goblin’s contribution at all, but what a collaboration that might have been!

As an alternative to the likes of ELP, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, one of Argento’s producers suggested an Italian band going by the name of “Cherry Five” and very quickly they stepped in to perform the score that Gaslini wrote. As the relationship between Gaslini and Argento broke down, Cherry Five got their chance to compose the remainder of the score, reportedly Claudio Simonetti finished it off in just one night!

The rest, as they say, is history.

The band Cherry Five changed their name to become the Goblin we all know and love.

The soudtrack LP was a huge hit for the newly born Goblin.

This was the start of a successful career for Goblin who would go on to create many soundtracks for Italian cinema over the next few years, including Joe D’amato’s “Beyond the Darkness”, Luigi Cozzi’s Alien rip-off “Contamination” as well as the international version of Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead”.

Here they are looking extra cool on Italian TV!

This brings us nicely to the second of the Argento / Goblin collaborations we’re going to look at, 1977’s “Suspiria”.

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There is a full episode where we discuss our thoughts on “Suspiria” and “Inferno”, we don’t really talk about “Mother of Tears” because it’s not really very good, there are maybe one or two moments we enjoyed. “Extendable rape poles” and heads crushed in sliding toilet doors aside, we were mostly disappointed. Hear our talk on “Suspiria” here:

The short version though, to get you warmed up for listening to our episode, is as follows:

Jessica Harper stars as Suzy Bannion, an American ballet student travelling to Germany to study at the apparently prestigious Dance Academy in Freiburg. She arrives on a stormy night and despite being enrolled there nobody will open the door for her. It’s during this storm that Suzy sees another student Pat, fleeing the school in terror and running off into the night.

Suspiria

What follows is certainly one of the most unique horror films ever made.

From this first scene onwards you know you are watching something special. Pat, who we just saw escape from the school, heads off to seek refuge with a friend. Whilst Pat is hiding out she is attacked by an unseen force leading to probably one of the most famous kills in all Italian Cinema.

Suzy returns to the school the next day to begin her ballet lessons and meets up with the rest of the students at the school. During her very first training session Suzy begins to feel unwell and faints.

suspiria4

Suzy is prescribed a glass of red wine a day by the local doctor to help her with her fainting, not too bad! The mysterious events continue on day one as hundreds of maggots begin raining down on the students as they try to sleep.

The weird occurrences continue and this brings us to one of my favourite scenes in the film as we follow Daniel, the blind pianist from the Freiburg School, taking a walk with his guide dog when he suddenly feels himself pursued by a sinister force.

suspiria

Suspiria is said to be one of the last films ever made using the Technicolor process, this helps give the films it’s characteristic vivid and vibrant look. The use of colour is Suspiria is absolutely one of it’s strengths for me.

The other significant thing that Suspiria features is obviously the soundtrack provided by Goblin. You can see them here (kind of) performing the Suspiria intro on some sort of Italian ‘Tops of the Pops’ type show.

 

Unlike Deep Red where Goblin are mostly performing the score that somebody else composed, during the creation of Suspiria they now had full creative control, giving them free reign to push the boundaries and let their Prog-Rock sound emerge fully.

As you can see and hear from the video, the instruments used for this score are much more diverse than were used for the Profondo Rosso score, with the main theme of Suspiria including what looks like a Bouzouki and a Tabla (if anybody knows what these instruments are for sure then please let me know).

 

 

There would also be more collaborations with Argento, officially with the release of 1985’s “Phenomena” and kind of unofficially with “Tenebrae”, with the soundtrack being credited to Simonetti, Morante and Pignatelli. You can check out our episode about Tenebrae here:

Tenebrae

Goblin continue to perform live to this day in one form or another, I couldn’t name all the different various line-ups though. Regardless of the line-up changes over the years, Goblin have a huge cult following, they tour fairly regularly and can usually be found performing a live soundtrack accompaniment to Suspiria or Deep Red.

They can be seen early 2018 in Holland if Death Metal is your thing. Admittedly, they do seem a little out of place at a festival with the likes of Carcass, Devourment and Nunslaughter (and a couple I can’t make out) but that just goes to show how wide their influence reaches.

netherlands deathfest

Hope you enjoyed this brief intro to some of the collaborations between Argento and Goblin, there are plenty of great blogs out there if you interested in learning more and lots of great people to follow on Twitter. Hopefully a few more collaboration blogs will appear soon and also maybe a look at some of the influences of horror literature and horror cinema on music in a more general sense.

P.S. If you say that Suspiria is a giallo there’s a chance somebody might come and get you 😀

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JB

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