Thursday, 22 December 2016

The Austringer (1969)

One of the only surviving stills from the 1969 BBC play The Austringer.
A ghost story, for Christmas. Not a folk horror, so much as about a folk horror. I read it to some friends on the darkest night of this year. 

I must acknowledge a debt of gratitude to my friend Jon Dear for the technical details in this story; every accuracy is his, every error mine, and so this story is dedicated to him. 

This story is included in the collection this is not a picture which is now available at Amazon.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Come, They Told Me

Some things wound us, things so trivial to others. Wounds so deep and so abiding. Some things open them up. This is the worst time for that.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

We Don't Go Back #24: Cry of the Banshee (1970)

So, if folk horror really qualifies as a genre, the undisputed canon includes Witchfinder General, The Blood on Satan's Claw and The Wicker Man. Everyone knows that. But why is Cry of the Banshee not counted on the same level as the Big Three? It's made at the same time. It has a historical setting, a witches' coven and Vincent Price playing a similar sort of chap to the one he plays in Witchfinder General. It's not really much more obscure than The Blood on Satan's Claw. But it's not on a par with the Unholy Trinity. Why is that, do you think?

Let's take a look.

(A warning: if you find discussion of on-screen rape and gendered torture and abuse distressing, you might want to not read this, because oh my, this film is grim. And not in the good way.)

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

We Don't Go Back #23: Century Falls (1993)

So a couple of weeks ago, I posted about British children's serial dramas, and how they were a thing right up until the mid-nineties, when the form petered out. Century Falls, broadcast in six episodes across February and March 1993, on Wednesdays in the slot just before Neighbours, was one of the last.

Monday, 12 December 2016

We Don't Go Back #22: Häxan (1922)

I've written before about the weird status of the documentary with regards to fact, and how a reconstruction blurs a line between truth and fiction in its dedication to a narrative. It was something I talked about a bit with Wisconsin Death Trip, and it's just as true of Benjamin Christensen's unique 1922 film Häxan (The Witch, released in the US in 1968 as Witchcraft Through the Ages with a characteristically odd, stilted voice-over by counterculture legend William Burroughs).

Thursday, 8 December 2016

We Don't Go Back: A Personal Taxonomy of Folk Horror and Pagan Film

The Gorsedd, Singleton Park, Swansea. 
Towards the end of October 2016, I thought, "I know! I've got this copy of The Witch sitting here and I could spend a few days going through some of the other stuff I never got round to watching and it's years since I had a Halloween movie binge, and hell, why not write about them?" I had a copy of The Wicker Man I'd found in a record sale in 2010 that I'd never watched; a copy of Beasts that cost me 50p at a stall in the Summer. I last watched Simon Magus before I had kids, and now my oldest is 11. I planned my viewing carefully.

It spiralled out of control.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

We Don't Go Back #21: The Wicker Tree (2011)

So I was pretty proud of my previous We Don't Go Back post, about The Wicker Man, but even I wasn't prepared for the degree to which it hit a nerve, and with a bunch of shares it netted over 1000 hits in its first 24 hours, which isn't bad at all. If you came for that post and stuck around, hi. Nice to meet you.

It was supposed to be the grand finalé of the project, but I keep finding stuff to add to it (tomorrow I'll put up a roundup and talk a little about what I've found so far in this folk horror project thing).

Still. How do you follow a discussion of the Citizen Kane of horror movies?

You follow it the way Robin Hardy did, I suppose, and do The Wicker Tree. 

(By the way, many of the thoughts here germinated in discussions in the Folk Horror Revival Facebook group about my post on The Wicker Man. So if you've come from there, thank you.)

Monday, 5 December 2016

We Don't Go Back #20: The Wicker Man (1973)

I'm going to assume you know how The Wicker Man ends. You do.

I mean, it's like Planet of the Apes to that extent, in that both films have the shock ending pictured on the front of the DVD box, the assumption being that if you care enough about the film to buy it, you've either already seen it or you've got a basic knowledge of how it goes.1

What matters really is how unique The Wicker Man (directed by Robin Hardy, script by Anthony Shaffer) is, and how good it is. It is the only horror film that you could call "delightful". Also. It's a musical.

Friday, 2 December 2016

We Don't Go Back #19: The Shout (1978)

(This post carries a warning for some mild nudity, below the cut)

Village cricket is, I suppose, the quintessential folk horror sport. So arcane are its rules, so impenetrable to the uninitiated,1 that it might as well be a pagan ritual. I played it in school, but I never really understood it, nor were its strictures ever open to me. You're either born to it or you're not. Cricket allows no latitude for the outsider. It's pagan; the wicket, the stump, the ancient battle over the tree re-enacted in slow motion.

Cricket is the strangest of sports.

Aside from a brief vignette before the credits where a woman comes to view a dead body, Jerzy Smolikowski's 1978 film The Shout begins at a cricket match.