Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Cult Cinema #27: The Ninth Rule

Fight Club (1999)

The single easiest and laziest thing in the world right now would be to start an essay about this movie with a gag about the First Rule of Fight Club, and the Second Rule of Fight Club, and the juxtaposition of the two and whether they're amusingly the same or amusingly not the same.

The second easiest and laziest thing in the world right now would be to make some point about how it would be the easiest and laziest thing in the world right now to joke about the First Rule of Fight Club. Which is to say, I'm beaten before I start whatever I do because this movie has, in the more than twenty (twenty!) years since its release, sewn up all the discourse. Everyone knows what the first two rules of Fight Club are, even the people who have never seen it. And the film is firmly in that peculiar category of movie which is undeniably great but shouldn't ever be anyone's favourite movie.

Obviously there are spoilers, but the likelihood is that if you get any distance into this, you've probably seen it (or read Chuck Palahniuk's book, or both, but let's face it, it's more likely you've seen the movie) so there we are.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

We Don't Go Back, Shivering Circle: Quarantine Surplus

OK, look. In April, I was supposed to be speaking at two conventions, and so back in February I bought a big stack of books to sell. Well, you know what happened. So now I have all these books and nowhere to sell them, and like a lot of self employed people, revenue streams are looking pretty thin in the coming months. So, would you like a copy of my Bram Stoker Award-nominated book We Don't Go Back: A Watcher's Guide to Folk Horror or my role-playing game The Shivering Circle? Direct from the author? You are, apparently, in luck. A few kind people have already approached me with offers of cash for books, so here we are.

I should note that you can still get them from Amazon and DrivethruRPG, and probably cheaper in the former case, although Amazon's prices fluctuate, so, hell, I don't know. But if you buy direct from me, I'll sign them, and give you ebook versions of both, and stick in some of my zines and things too. I've got 16 copies of We Don't Go Back and 20 copies of The Shivering Circle looking for homes at the time of writing.

A final caveat: while the post office is open, and I can send these. I cannot guarantee in the current circumstances how quickly they will arrive. Also, please, if you're international, check whether you can get postage at all (for example, I recently discovered to my cost that it's currently illegal to send printed matter to Brazil, and has been for a while, and no, I don't know why that is).

By the way, over at my Patreon page, I'm doing ghost story readings. Just in case you were interested.

Edit: We Don't Go Back has sold out! Which I am so very grateful for. Thank you! 

The Shivering Circle

Your location
How do you want it signed?

Tuesday, 25 February 2020

Sects Education #4: Straight is Great

But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)
The Miseducation of Cameron Post (2018)

(Given that this is about gay conversion therapy movies, it's going to deal with some bad stuff. Discretion is as usual advised. Spoilers abound, as ever.

On a less serious note, as this is the last of my Sects Education pieces, I only think it's appropriate to mention that the Sects Education title came from my pal Jon Dear, who rode in as the Dad Joke Cavalry and saved me when I was looking for something sectsually explicit for a title. Ta, Jon.

This post is Cult Cinema #26.)

The sort of evangelicalism that gave us the genesis of apologetics ministry grew out of a feeling of somehow losing control, that since the end of the 19th century, the world was no longer in the shape of the white Christian. If a certain category of Christian – a technocratic, economically and socially privileged category of Christian – did not feel that control was lost, it would not be so desperate to assert control. Apologetics ministry exists because science and history, the external realms of facts, are not doing what the evangelicals want them to, and must be domesticated.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

On a Thousand Walls #28: Orrore Popolare, Part 4

The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh (Lo strano vizio della Signora Wardh) (1971)
The Perfume of the Lady in Black
(Il profumo della signora in nero) (1974)

(More Italian cinema. Spoilers. Discussion of misogyny, with all you might imagine that entails. You know.)

The easiest thing to do when you're looking at the portrayal of women in classic horror from any country is generally to shrug and say, well, those were different times, and to an extent that's true, in that the way we did discourse forty or fifty years ago was different, and the terms in which we framed our expectations of gender roles were informed by societal mores, and the law, and what mum and dad were told by their mums and dads. But what that ignores is empathy.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Cult Cinema #25: Sects Education, Part Three

Don Verdean (2015)

(Today, I'm looking at Jared Hess's interesting, misunderstood and antisemitic 2015 comedy Don Verdean. There are spoilers, but it's not like you're going to watch this movie, so don't sweat it.) 

Could it be fair to call the most vocal and temporally powerful branch of English-speaking Christianity a sect? It's easy to point out all the ways in which American evangelicalism decades ago departed from historical Christian orthodoxy. It has its own media, its own ways of speaking. It has peculiar obsessions and fears that it has superimposed over actual traditional belief – abortions, sexuality and gender, evolutionary science – and doctrines that are in most traditional readings literally prohibited by Scripture, but which somehow have become normative, like the Rapture, and Prosperity Teaching. And it is partisan in its politics, for since the 1980s, the fortunes of American evangelicalism have been tied tightly to those of the Republican Party, and so we've seen this particular take on the faith metastasise into something hard-edged, and warlike, and, to outsiders frightening and fascist.


(Recently rediscovered in the archive. memory of too many open mic poetry nights.) 

(adjective) (noun) of the (adjective) (noun)
(verb) the (participle) of the (adjective) (noun)
Until, (participle), (participle), (participle),
By the (adjective) (noun) and the
(adverb) (participle) (adjective) (adjective) (noun)
The (adjective) (noun) (adverb) (verb)s.
So (exhortation) to (verb) the (adjective) (noun)
(adverb) (participle) (unnecessary archaism)
Betwixt the (adverb) (participle) (adjective) (noun)
And the (adjective) (adjective) (adjective) (adjective) (noun)
As it (verb)s
As it (verb)s
Until (shoehorned internal rhyme) the (adjective) (noun) (and another one)
The (adjective) (noun) (verb)s (and another time)
(thought-provoking reversal in final line)

Friday, 7 February 2020

On a Thousand Walls #27: Orrore Popolare, Part 3 and a half

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave
(La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba) (1971);

The Black Cat (Gatto nero) (1981)

(This is a continuation of my discussion of films set in England where everyone speaks Italian. Once again, spoilers abound.)

The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave, another richly saturated, spicy and mainly nutty giallo by Emilio Miraglia, begins with a man trying to escape from a psychiatric institution. He has all the genre movie signifiers of “madness”: he twitches and shakes, his vision is blurred. The orderlies restrain him and drag him back. The credits roll.

On the other side of the credits, we see him again, out of hospital. He is, we discover, Lord Alan Cunningham (Peter Wyngarde lookalike Anthony Steffen), inhabitant of a decaying ancestral pile a short drive from central London (yeah, let that sink in).