Halloween (2018) Spoiler-free review

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Dubbed ‘The Night She Came Home’, David Gordon Green’s sequel/reboot of the seminal slasher flick has been pretty much sold as Jamie Lee Curtis’ movie. And judging how Halloween wraps up the story of Laurie vs Michael you can definitely see her influence heavily overshadowing the film. But does it make for a good slasher movie?

Going into Halloween I was filled with trepidation and the kind of excitement I haven’t felt for the latest in a horror franchise for a long time. All I wanted was a solid slasher sequel. Nothing more, nothing less. And I am happy to report that Halloween delivers on its promise. Running at 106 minutes, much like most of the horror fare hitting cinemas in the last five years it could do with a trim. And for my money there are a few peripheral characters too many. Not all of whom meet the sticky end you’d hope for…

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But on the whole Halloween is a fun, jump-filled creepfest. With more than one nod to the original, the movie still manages to keep its own identity. John Carpenter’s contributions to the score stand head and shoulders above the rest – one set-piece in particular where Laurie’s granddaughter Alyson (Andi Matichak) comes face-to-face with the Shape gave me chills thanks to the throwback synth that accompanied it. Set to the skittish rebeat of the iconic theme, watching Michael go crazy on his first Halloween home, stalking and slashing his way through the neighbourhood whilst the kids are outside playing trick or treat, is a spine-tingling feast for horror freaks.

During moments like these the film excels. One of the original’s greatest achievements was to capture that simple and terrifying fear that you’re not safe in your own home. The script here works it’s hardest to try and recapture that. In one scene an unsuspecting neighbour peers out into the darkness whilst telling her friend on the phone “I’d better lock the door…”, not realising The Shape is letting himself into her home right at the edge of our screens. The vulnerability of the Haddonfield residents, and indeed ourselves, couldn’t be more stark and clear.

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Another highlight is how David Gordon Green’s direction captures the physicality of Michael. Throughout the plethora of sequels The Shape became just that. A robotic man in a mask who became less scary with each passing entry. Now Michael is very much the Bogeyman, stalking with animal like intent, grunting his way through the back streets of Haddonfield and having a whale of a time slicing and dicing and posing his victims like dolls once he’s done with them. His brutality is on point – although there are some punches pulled with surprising deaths offscreen that I’m sure were intended to make us use our own twisted imaginations but instead felt a bit like a cop-out.

But if you came for grisly gore you get just enough to lap it up. If you came for a bad ass heroine protecting her loved ones like a lioness then you are in for a treat. If you came for that slow creeping chill up your spine whenever Michael’s mask is reflected in a suburban window then for the most part you’ll be pleased too.

I was impressed with the character work that’s gone into showing Laurie’s descent into the local town crank, an embarrassment to her family and now a recluse living in a self-made fortress, an obsessed alcoholic who’s life has fallen apart under the weight of the trauma she suffered 40 years ago. A surprising depth has been carved out for this iconic character and it’s much deserved. My only major gripe was despite its many strengths I just wasn’t as scared as I wanted to be… but I jumped and cowered just enough to call this the best sequel Halloween could have wished for. So don’t expect the second coming and you’ll come out smiling. A solid tribute to two horror icons – Michael and Laurie both get the follow-up they deserve. And it’s already a smash so whether we like it or not…

Roll on the sequel…

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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!

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!

Horror Hotties for Halloween

Nothing says Halloween like a trawl through your favourite horror movies. We all know the genre is notorious for that excuse to perv off scantily clad ladies running as fast as their boobs can carry them to avoid being skewered by a psychopath or a demon. How’s that for Freudian? But in the interests of redressing the balance the Screaming Queenz are here to show you it ain’t all about the chicks – sometimes it’s about the dicks too.

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Horror has given a queer audience the excuse to let off steam since its inception – whether you’re rooting for the underdog to overcome the odds, whether you’re identifying with the wicked lady who’s bucking the patriarchy and slaying her way through society’s pecking order with fangs or a blade, or if you just want to indulge your fetish for camp melodrama – horror has got your back. It’s also got its fair share of hot men in not many clothes so sit back, spread out and enjoy our run down of horror hotties!

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JAMES BROLIN – Amityville Horror

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Okay so shirtless Ryan Reynolds set many a popcorn-munching chick’s heart a-flutter when he brandished the axe in the 2005 remake, but if you want a real man look no further than hairy wall of flesh James Brolin. Before he goes mad and tries to massacre his family – well, it can be excused, apart from the fabulous Margot Kidder they’re a tad annoying AND moving house is very stressful – James has a tendency to walk around in a pullover and tighty whities. Coupled with his big hair and beard he’s giving us 70s gay porn daddy realness and I, for one, am happy to take it!

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JOHNNY DEPP – A Nightmare On Elm Street

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Before he shot to fame as Edward Scissorhands, donned an angora sweater as crossdressing trash genius Ed Wood, then descended into parody as Jack Sparrow, Johnny Depp was setting our loins alight as twink next door Glenn in the original Freddy Krueger outing. Whether he was stifling his hormones listening to his best friends have sex, or lounging about in sweat pants and a crop top whilst perving over Miss Nude America, Glenn was all wide-eyed innocence and pulsating teen horniness wrapped up in one tight bow. He was eventually eaten by his bed. I’m with the bed on this one.

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Honorable mention goes to Nick Corri as Rod Lane in the same film. My early years of lusting over men are dominated by the creak of his leather jacket and the sweat on his chest as he flees from daddy John Saxon. More of him later…

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ANTHONY PERKINS – Psycho

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OK so he has a slightly unhealthy relationship with his mother, and watching women take a shower unleashes something a tad dangerous in him, but he does make an excellent cheese sandwich. Imbuing the demented Norman Bates with vulnerability and making him sympathetic was no mean feat, but surprisingly Anthony Perkins made him absolutely gorgeous at the same time. So he gets a little stabby now and then, we all go a little mad sometimes!

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ROBERT RUSLER – A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge

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OK so Nightmare 2 is well-known as being one of the gayest horror movies ever made. But you can keep your leather-daddy coach and your camp screaming queen hero – gay boys needed look no further than Robert Rusler as Grady. The classic high school jock, he was not fond of shirts and opted for little shorts and a glistening six pack for the movie’s most crucial moments. There’s even a flash of jockstrap just to tip you over the edge. Look out for Rusler in not very many clothes in the classic Grace Jones flick VAMP too – which earns queer stripes for its Keith Haring body paint and… GRACE FUCKING JONES.

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JOHN GAVIN – Psycho

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OK we’ve been at the Bates Motel once before. But with clientele like this wouldn’t you come back? Divorced hardware store owner Sam Loomis oozes masculinity, especially when renting hotel rooms by the hour to get down and dirty with Marion Crane. When she promises to ‘lick the stamps’ on his alimony payments you know exactly what she means – and Loomis stood there shirtless is flesh for fantasy that leaves even Janet Leigh in a shadow. When Loomis goes head to head with Norman Bates towards the end of the film it’s a porno-preamble that’s too good to be true…

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TREY SONGZ – Texas Chainsaw 3D

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Make no mistake about it I was not a fan of this movie, it had every cliché in the book badly rammed down our throats, but whenever Trey Songz was onscreen as Ryan the throat-ramming didn’t seem so bad. Say no more.

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JAY HERNANDEZ – Hostel

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Eli Roth is hot as fuck. But I maintain he should stay in front of the camera and never get behind it again. Whilst not a fan of his movies – and especially not a fan of Hostel – I do think it’s an interesting view for a queer audience. Boys in peril being one of my favourite subgenres, to see this group of boys who use homophobic language like it’s going out of fashion, subjected to hideous methods of torture is… interesting shall we say. Paxton, the cute-as-a-button asshole who manages to get to the end relatively unscathed, is played by the gorgeous Jay Hernandez. And even though he loses his head in the superior Part 2, he will forever have a place in my dungeon.

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DYLAN McDERMOTT – American Horror Story: Murder House

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Ryan Murphy’s inconsistent style-over-substance horror series has become a mainstay in pop culture horror TV entertainment. For better or worse, its thinly-stretched plotlines can be forgiven for two things. Fabulously camp leading ladies, and an endless stream of gorgeous manflesh on show. Like it or not, AHS is queering up horror all over TV and for that I’m grateful. Dylan McDermott’s turn as sexually frustrated daddy Ben Harmon kept us hooked from the moment we saw him jerking off whilst flexing those mounds of manbun in episode 1.

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And while we’re at it, a honourable mention goes to the stunning Evan Peters who has treated us to his cute tush and tighty whities for most seasons of the show so far…

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And…

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Oh and…

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TRAVIS SCHIFFNER – Jeepers Creepers 2

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“Izzy or Izznt he from Jeepers Creepers 2 was a crush before I realised I iz” is the direct quote from our resident filth-bucket Stephen. We’ll skip lightly over the fact that having throbbed through the homoerotic boys-on-a-schoolbus horror Jeepers Creepers 2 we realised the director was a convicted sex offender. There’s no denying the trashy Jeepers Creepers 2 had its place in many a queer heart purely for the male flesh on show. And it was there in abundance. Izzy Bohen was mocked by the rest of the football team who thought he might be a bit gay. We’ve all been there. Not locked on a bus with a sweaty football team who like to have pissing contests, more’s the pity.

TONY TODD – Candyman

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OK so I admit my choice here is a little off-the-wall. The baby-stealing, dog-beheading villain the Candyman isn’t the type of guy you’d take home to mother. But he does carry a certain romantic edge in his eyes – full of soul, tears and a longing for love and death. He also likes to eat bees. I know. I’m fighting a losing battle here but fuck y’all. I love me some Tony Todd. The minute he said ‘Be my victim’ I was hooked.

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JOHN SAXON – Cannibal Apocalypse

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Put genre staple John Saxon in a police uniform and I’m putty in your hands. Put him in a soldier’s rig-out and then strip him for some hairy topless action and I’m even happier. In Cannibal Apocalypse he’s a Vietnam vet grappling with cannibalism but the quintessential daddy of horror has spread his hairy charms all over exploitation and action movies, NOT to mention gialli, oh and he was a hot oil tycoon in Dynasty… OK I could ramble here for a long time about how much I love this man. And what a man. Never too proud to star in a terrible movie (Tunnels, anyone) he also happens to have appeared in two of the genre’s most influential films, on the right side of the law in Black Christmas AND Nightmare on Elm Street. Handsome, butch and a damn fine actor to boot.

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All of the Camp Counsellors – SLEEPAWAY CAMP

Er… where do we start? Crop-tops, thrush-inducing short shorts, skinny-dips and Angela’s hot gay dad! Sleepaway Camp gave us queer subversive horror with non-PC jaw-droppers from beginning to end. Essential viewing for more than one reason…

I could go on all day but quite frankly I’ve run out of Kleenex. Who’s your horror hottie of choice? Let us know in the comments, or tweet me at @jonnylarkin. Happy hunky Halloween!

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

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

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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What Should You Be Watching This Halloween?

The curtains are drawn. The Jack-o-Lantern’s lit. The razor-blades are hidden in the miniature Mars bars sat next to the front door, should some precocious brat come knocking dressed in a bin bag and a road cone claiming to look like a witch. Yes, it’s Halloween night! Or it will be shortly. So what will you be watching?

The choice of horror films to watch is more overwhelming than ever. Will you be cosying up with a classic or giving something new a whirl? Well don’t decide yet. Let us Screaming Queenz guide you through our essential picks to watch from behind the sofa…

TRICK ‘R TREAT

(chosen by Stephen Moore)

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John Carpenter’s classic 1978 slasher might be Halloween in name, but Trick ‘r  Treat (2007) has Halloween’s mischievously enchanting blood spilling from its very veins. The film received an enthusiastic response at festivals as early as 2007 before being met with a series of delays that culminated in finally receiving a home release in 2009. A delay such as this would usually result in a fate worse than that of the slutty girl in a slasher, but instead allowed this film to become a cult phenomenon.

The film is portmanteau in style, telling four interweaving tales that cover everything from ghostly revenge stories, vampyric series killers to seductive werewolves. Like with most films of this style some stories are less effective than others. That being said even the weakest werewolf segment makes up for its lack of bite with lashings of witty dialogue and besides who doesn’t want to watch a brassiere-popping, skin-peeling transformation sequence set to Marylin Manson’s cover of Sweet Dreams. The film is at times very creepy whether it’s time to carve the pumpkin or the tale of a haunted school bus but it never loses its sense of fun. A particular favorite scene of mine involves children who unwittingly knock on a house where their teachers are have a very raunchy alcohol fueled party. I’m fuming i never got an invite too.

And the best; I must confess, I have saved for the last. For the ruler of this Halloween land… Is an adorably creepy burlap sack wearing pumpkin headed psychopath named Sam. Sam who is naturally armed with razor blades hidden in candy ensures that all the rules of Halloween are being followed with deadly consequences. But you can’t help but fall in love with the pesky little tyke who is just trying to defend the traditions of my favorite holiday. So don’t go blowing out pumpkins before midnight or  you might get a visit from the cutest killer in the horror game.

LIFEFORCE

(chosen by Jonathan Butler)

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Released in 1985, the first collaboration between Tobe Hooper and Cannon,  the other two films being Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and the Invaders From Mars remake. From a script by Dan O’Bannon of Alien fame, based on a novel from Colin Wilson rather unimaginatively titled “The Space Vampires”

A rather nonsensical plot involving the discovery of a giant space ship hiding within the tail of  Halley’s Comet. Upon further investigation, the crew of the Space Shuttle Churchill board the ship and discover humanoid bodies in suspended animation, one of which is a naked Mathilda May!

Upon returning to Earth the Female Alien (May) promptly wakes up from her stasis and, being a space vampire, begins to absorb the “Lifeforce” from everybody she can find, leading to some creepy practical effects for these sucking victims.

Things take a drastic turn and most of London end up being turned into Zombies! I won’t spoil too much of the film as if you’ve never seen it I would recommend giving it a look, it’s currently on UK Netflix and Arrow Films have a great Blu-Ray version out.

Lifeforce is a bonkers piece of 80’s camp sci-fi horror, perfect for some Halloween viewing.

THE HAUNTING

(Chosen by Martin Fenerty)

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This a story that will haunt and disturb even the most hardened horror fan with its blurred lines of the supernatural and psychological disturbance.

Based on the novel The Haunting of Hill House, it tells the tale of Dr John Markway and the groups of individuals he recruits to stay in a supposed haunted house to help with his investigation into the reported supernatural activity that takes place there.

Hill House is an old sprawling mass with corridors that seem to move and are designed to disorientate and give a feel of a house that is almost alive. The relationships between the characters and how they influenced the events in the house and their reactions to them take centre stage and includes a subtle reference the lesbian identity of one of the characters.

DRACULA (1958 version)

(Chosen by Jon Larkin)

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Hammer’s full-blooded, vibrant Dracula is, for me, the essential telling of the classic tale. Condensed into 90 minutes and working to its budget, the streamlined version manages to scare you and thrill you more than the bloated longer, bigger budget attempts ever could.

Dracula is quintessential Hammer with its nostalgic studio sets, heaving bosoms, swirling mist and teeth-shaking score by James Bernard. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a Halloween night post-pub, curled up on the couch with the leftovers from that visit to the Chinese…

Starring Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in their most iconic roles, Dracula is the perfect Halloween flick to sink your teeth into.

CARRY ON SCREAMING

(Chosen by Martin Fenerty)

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Filmed and released in 1966, Carry on Screaming stars many of the regular cast in their familiar roles. Kenneth Williams as mad scientist Dr Orlando Watt, Jim Dale as the love struck Albert Potter, Charles Hawtrey as Dan Dann the toilet man and Joyce Sims as a sharp tongued wife of Harry H Corbett’s Police Detective Bung.

An outrageous parody of the Hammer Horror films it contains enough double entendres and Edwardian spookiness to satisfy horror and Carry On fans, and also stars the wonderful Fenella Fielding in full gothic vamp mode.

An amalgam of the House of Wax and Frankenstein, it’s a romp that won’t disappoint.

THE STRANGERS

(Chosen by Stephen Moore)

My first choice taught you to always answer the door to people in masks but whilst that might save you from Sam, there’s another burlap sack headed man and his  two porcelain doll friends who might make death by candy sound like the much sweeter option. This is that perfect curl up in the dark on the sofa with some snacks film. So if you’re feeling brave I suggest you do just that this Halloween, but maybe leave the sweets outside so you can avoid the ominous chime of your doorbell.

The story of The Strangers (2008) is admittedly lacklustre. Our protagonists James and Kristen return to a secluded family home at 3am from a wedding party that resulted in a rejected marriage proposal….. AWKWARD. It’s not long after that a mysterious girl who’s face is obscured in the dark rings the doorbell asking in a timid voice for “Tamara” before departing with the creepy suggestion that she will “see them later.” From here on in there is no real plot development but what it lacks in a fleshed-out story it more than makes up with in suspense. Jump scares are present but the most effective moments involve “the strangers” lurking in the background of shots, unknown to the estranged couple. It’s a testament to the power of true tension and a fantastic score in a horror film, as the fear and dread is palatable. If you’re not on the edge of your seat you must already be hiding behind the pillow. The film’s influence can be seen in other home invasion films like “The Purge” and it’s characters are present and locked in the vault of Joss whedon’s amazing “Cabin in the woods”

Ultimately it’s the films main flaw of senselessness that is also what makes it so damn creepy. The Film opens with the ever frightful line “What you are about to see is inspired by true events. According to the FBI, there are an estimated 1.4 million violent crimes in America each year.” And whilst its actual origin is the loosest stretch of true events I’ve ever heard, the line shown below still sends a shiver down my spine…

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THE GHOST BREAKERS

(Chosen by Jon Larkin)

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Light-hearted fare but deceptively creepy. A horror comedy from 1940 finds Bob Hope as radio DJ Larry Lawrence being chased by disgruntled mobsters. Fleeing their bullets he stows away with society gal Mary Carter, played by the glamorous Paulette Goddard, as she sets off to Cuba where she has inherited a haunted castle.

They dodge murder attempts on the cruise ship but it’s their arrival in Cuba that gets the horror wheels in motion. Voodoo curses, some terrible racial stereotypes and slapstick humour ensue, but Mary’s arrival at the castle and her run-in with the local zombie mark a turn for the truly creepy. Gothic chills aplenty and some genuine laughs make this nostalgic, safe Halloween viewing.

And if you can’t get enough then stick on Cat and the Canary, an even creepier haunted house comedy from the year before, also starring Hope and Goddard.

SLEEPY HOLLOW

(Chosen by Jonathan Butler)

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A more “traditional” Halloween film maybe and probably the last Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaboration I can say I really like, although Sweeney Todd isn’t that bad. A creepy Gothic tale with a look and feel inspired by Hammer Films and Roger Corman’s classic low-budget horror films. Burton’s signature Expressionistic/Gothic style works to great effect.

Depp does a great job as Police Constable Ichabod Crane, dispatched to the Westchester County of New York to investigate a series of grisly decapitation murders.

It is then upto Crane with the help of Christina Ricci’s Katrina Van Tassel to solve the mystery  of Sleepy Hollow and stop the Headless Horseman from killing again.

One of the strongest points for me is the cast assembled for this film, Tim Burton gathers a superb set of actors for this take on Washington Irving’s classic horror tale. When your supporting cast boasts the likes of Christopher Walken, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson and the late greats Richard Griffiths and Christopher Lee, you know it’s going to be pretty special.

So there you have it. Do you like our picks? Give us your feedback in the comments section below. Or tweet me at @jonnylarkin. Happy Halloween.

We’ll see you at midnight… but you won’t see us…

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