Sam Raimi versus UK censors on live TV

Back in the 80’s and 90’s there used to be a late-night talk show called Central Weekend, shown on the ITV network but based in the Midlands. It was an odd magazine format that would switch from deeply serious to flippant on the turn of a heel. Back in 1987 they had Sam Raimi on to defend not just his two Evil Dead films released at the time, as well as being the mouthpiece of anti-censorship.

The argument is bizarre. At one point Howarth is arguing for parental control while saying that parents are so weak they can’t exercise control over their children and it’s the fault of folk like Sam Raimi but being a Nazi, which is one of the arguments used.  Of course the likes of Howarth have never seen all the film, and also people argue that people see films just for kicks which is basically the entire fucking point of any entertainment.

Raimi spent most of the early part of his career in the UK arguing for his films and in this, he looks weary as he realises that he’s being set up as the fall guy. The amount of venom thrown at him by the like of Howarth over the years would wear anyone out but the fact is Raimi is now one of Hollywood’s most respected directors and the Evil Dead films are regarded as classics, with the first being respected across critical boundaries while Howarth is best remembered for being a homophobe who was roundly skewered by Chris Morris on Brass Eye.

 

What if there’d been a toy line for the 1979 Caligula film?

One of my guity pleasures in the very porny, very gory, very bizarre 1979 film, Caligula.

This was my introduction into the world of Tinto Brass, not to mention seeing actors like John Guilgud who in this film seems to be walking around in a haze counting how large his bank account is going to be once he gets through everything. It is also a mess as producer Bob Guccione rewrote scenes, not to mention inserted hardcore sex scenes filmed on set at night when the actors were away, as he felt it needed more sex to perhaps offset the violence.

Anyhow, the film is a mess but like one of the setpieces, it’s a mess one can’t help but be intrigued by, depending on what version of the film you see as there’s multiple versions depending how how much porn and gore you want. However imagine a line of toys to go along with the film that was made in 1979? Didn’t happen of course but what if it did?

Here you go…

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is the found-footage film that disturbed me

 

Back in the 2000’s things were all over the place for horror films. There weren’t that many great ones (the footprint of 911 cast itself over the first part of the decade) but as the decade progressed things improved especially on the independent film front. I’m a horror fan since a wee boy, so the odd gem that’d come up I’d swallow up like a hungry prisoner, and by the end of the 00’s most of the once-banned video nasties were coming out on disc either uncut, or close to uncut.

Tracking down video nasties used to be fun, but now everything was easy to buy from your local HMV or through Amazon. Then in 2007 a rumour flew around the internet about a film which was deeply disturbing even if it was a found footage film which even by 2007 was wildly overused and full of awful, awful films. The Poughkeepsie Tapes was a low budget film in the found footage/mockumentary style which was familiar by now but what made it attractive was it was bloody hard to get in those pre broadband days. Sure you could find it on P2P sites but it took ages to download, and when it did there was less than an hour of the film. It wasn’t until checking online that you had to use VLC Player to watch it. In short, it was a bit of a hunt to watch the bloody thing in an age when media was readily available at the click of a mouse.

Once I did see the film it was clear this was, well, fucked up. From the off the entire film felt wrong, in a deeply disturbing WTF type of way. Yes there were easy shocks but the entire thing uneased me and even the sometimes awful acting in these films washed me by as another disturbing set-piece came up. I can’t say I enjoyed the film, but I certainly remembered it afterward.

And so it passed into memory only to pop up in conversation during those drunken ‘what films freaked you out’ conversation you’d have. Then the other day this video popped up in my recommendations.

Apart from being a pretty good review of the film, it brought back that slightly disturbed feeling so I found my copy of the film and watched it again. Yes, it still disturbed. The crap bits are still crap. However, there’s that tone and feel that this is right, in that, the film is designed to make you walk away from it feeling like you need a shower which is the sign of a good horror film, but maybe not one you’ll watch over and over again.

So give it a go, but do it in the dark.

 

 

 

The Crazies

The world is going to shit, and that was before the coronavirus. Now we’re in a world where entire countries are quarantining themselves, Real Madrid are all self-isolating, while Donald Trump tries hard to sit and read a statement to camera but fails to do even that properly. Meanwhile in the UK we’re not banning events where people can meet and spread the disease but we are buying toilet paper in such quantities that by now there must be households where entire rooms are bulging with the stuff.

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Though I can see why people are stockpiling toilet roll. In the event of a real genuine breakdown of civilisation what’s the point of looking all cool, moody and hard like Norman Reedus if you smell like shite because you can’t wipe your arse properly.

And now today hordes of London-based hacks are going insane not over Boris Johnson’s inept handling of the crisis (where we should be shitting down for a week at least)  because Nicola Sturgeon is giving early, clear warnings of what is happening. We live in the time of the Crazies where sanity has been replaced by a barely restrained hysteria and one might ask why am I not panicking as after all, I’m one of the coronavirus’s target audience seeing as my immune system is fucked after the cancer, stroke, etc, etc…

I’m not in a panic because after flirting with death you get used to living with it in the same way you get used to an unwelcome visitor shitting on your couch. The fact is you put your faith in the NHS to do what they can do, and if they can’t well, at least I don’t have to see people panic over whether their arse will be clean enough in the apocalypse.

Western civilisation might fall because people can’t wash their hands

We live in a culture where people, adults, have to be told how to wash their hands. Actual bloody adults who have no idea how to wash the shite or piss off their hands and with the coronavirus, we have people panic buying toilet paper and hand cleaner.

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Can you imagine it, civilisation brought down because people don’t wash their hands.

We’re fucked as a society aren’t we?

 

The coronavirus will kill us all

Every now and then Planet Earth spits out something that’s designed to wipe large numbers of people out, and this latest case of death from nowhere is the Coronavirus. We’ve had these things before and although they’ve sadly killed people in numbers, we’ve not seen the sort of global pandemic which has wiped out hundreds of thousands, if not more.That was back in the time of reason when science and sanity overruled all, even when countries woujld be ruled by idiots.

Well, now we’re in the age of idiocy. In the US, Donald Trump has appointed Mike Pence to oversee the effort to fight this, and here we’ve got Mike Hancock, UK Health Secretary who thinks we can get rid of it by washing our hands while singing God Save the Queen.

So, seeing as white can now be black, and that we’ve already got conspiracy theorists saying ‘THEY’ produced this to for some reasons or another, and in an age where facts are flexible the truth is we’re fucked. I look forward to our forthcoming apocalypse with some glee as it means we’ll be free of the age of stupidity.

The DC Comics 50th anniversary party

Back in 1984 DC Comics had it’s 50th anniversary which was an historic turning point, as DC finally turned into a company that could take Marvel on. 1984-5 is a serious time of transition just as the Bronze Age closes and the modern era starts and this video is the sort of video they used to send out to comic shops back in the day but mainly what would happen is they’d be watched once, then end up gathering dust somewhere.

What’s great about this is the foreshadowing of the new era to come. Alan Moore, Alan Davies, and Dave Gibbons get namechecked, you get to see Julie Schwartz and Dick Giordano, plus a half-cut Joe Orlando. IT really is a wonderful bit of history.

Enjoy.

A quick word about the film version of Cats

Now here’s a thing. I’m no fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber. His musicals have been a blister on the arse of modern culture for decades, but the reaction to the film version of Cats is extraordinary and has been since the first bizarre trailer.

There’s something called the ‘uncanny valley‘ and this first trailer was full of it so people were naturally unnerved by something which looked weird at best, utterly terrifying at worst. So for the last six months, the general school of thought is this was a disaster in the making and that people should be ready to hate this film. Now the film is out, reviews are not kind to say the very very least.

But the thing was I didn’t feel involved with the pile-on. In fact I thought the trailer looked interesting in a way where the director Tom Hooper has went for a complete anthropomorphisation of the characters in a neon world. Basically Hooper has done something unexpected, but this uncanny valley problem wasn’t going away mainly as I think this as the first time a number of people encountered it.

Standing alone in the tsunami of hate is Mike McPadden’s glorious review at Daily Grindhouse. It is probably the best thing written about the film so far, and you can read it here. This bit I liked especially;

To wit: any time Groupthink issues a “WORST. MOVIE. EVER” edict, my instinct is to champion their target. I grew up circling any title rated “BOMB” in Leonard Maltin’s annual movie guidebooks and then scoured my local TV schedule each week to hunt them down. That was my film school, and it worked.  Consider, too, some specific masterworks reflexively bemoaned on arrival by Big Stupid Everybody: EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC (1977), SHOWGIRLS (1995), and THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU (1996), to name just three favorites. Which do you think is more challenging, more exciting, more rewarding—those films, or whatever topped the box office and/or mainstream critics’ lists of their respective release years?

I could add hundreds of films which bombed critically and at the box office which are now genuine classics, which isn’t to say Cats is a classic, but it will be a cult film within the decade. In the meantime people will move onto another film to pile onto leaving me wondering what sort of fucked up society we’ve become where I defend something Andrew Lloyd Webber has touched…

I’m going to make you sweat

So, Prince Andrew and that interview

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I won’t go into the gory details as I’m sure there’s nobody in the Western world who hasn’t heard Andrew’s word and how much of a lying liar he is. The lack of ability to sweat has been debunked for the steaming bollocks it is, and at no point does he say anything honest.

But the fact is that if this had been an ordinary member of the public they’d be in a cell today after answering police questions, but because he’s a member of the British elite he’s able to avoid prison so Andrew can spend the rest of his life not sweating because the establishment looks after their own.

My top ten horror comics: 1: EC Comics

Every single horror comic produced today in the West owes something to the horror comics produced by EC Comics. In fact, EC’s influence is such that if you’ve seen a zombie film, or something written by Stephen King, or made by George Romero, or influenced in any way by these people (which is pretty much everything in horror these days) then you’ve been touched by EC.

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Springing out of their crime comics, EC found that kids in the 1950s loved grisly, gory, wonderful horror stories drawn by some of the greatest ever artists to draw comics then and now.

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Many of the stories were actually pretty routine sting in the tale stories, but some were extraordinary such as the adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s The Small Assassin, which is still chilling and horrific 70 years after it was first published.

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Or the gloriously gory end to Foul Play

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Sadly this run of fun and games didn’t last long in the censorious days of 50s America, and soon the authorities cracked down on horror comics, and in doing so held back American comics for 40 years.

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But those few years pumping out horror, fear, crime, gore and terror hit a mark that horror comics have tried to better for decades, and on the whole, failed to his the same standards. These comics are truly golden and will forever be the best horror comics you’ll come across.