Friday, 13 September 2019

WDGB Midsommar Special #2: Dymphna

The last time Dymphna wrote a guest post for me, it became the single most read piece on this site for nearly two years by several thousand views. Dymphna is a fierecely intelligent writer and an excellent game designer (fans of role-playing and folk horror should definitely take a look at her game Dreaming the Devil), and when she offered me a short piece on Midsommar, I jumped at it like a puppy offered an especially tasty treat. Dymphna's piece is a rare thing on this site, a piece that you can read before  you see the movie. 

Thursday, 12 September 2019

WDGB Midsommar Special #1: Eve Elizabeth Moriarty

So I've seen Midsommar, because of course I've seen Midsommar, and I have things to say about it, but I'm holding back on that because from tomorrow I'm going to be at the 13th MotelX film festival, in Lisbon, where I will, aside from being honoured to be on the jury for the short film selections, be hosting a folk horror masterclass with Midsommar director Ari Aster, and it just seems sort of sensible to hold off on saying much about it until I've, y'know, met the guy and talked about it.  

However! I'm not the only one who's got Thoughts, and several great writers I know have ideas about this. So over the next few weeks I'm running three (at least) takes on Midsommar by my friends and colleagues. 

First up is my good friend, the frankly powerful Eve Moriarty. Eve is a poet and academic, and it is no exaggeration to say that she numbers among my favourite people in the whole world. Here's what she has to say. There are spoilers in this piece.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

The Question in Bodies #26: Sorry to Bother You (2018)

I'm a sucker for the sort of film that messes with genre, and especially for the sort of film that uses genre to get away with saying things that you couldn't in a serious social realist drama. When a Serious Film, capital S, capital F, actually does make Serious Issues, which is a vanishingly rare occurrence, for all sorts of reasons, the issues become the tail that wags the dog, almost; people begin to watch the film because it is about the issues, people argue with it on the grounds of the issues, people make it part of the issue and it's almost as if it loses the ability to say anything because you know what it's going to say before you start. It becomes part of the conversation rather than starting a new one.

For example, Ken Loach's film I, Daniel Blake (2016), caused questions to be asked in Parliament. The conversation around it was impassioned, but centred around whether it was an accurate representation of the experience of poverty (spoiler: it is) and, reduced to a political statement, it became the sort of film you watch either to hear what you knew already, or to pick holes in.

But genre films have been sneaking this sort of thing past audiences for a long time. That's not always a good thing: cinema audiences aren't necessarily literate enough to get the point (and indeed, as I keep saying, a big stream in fan culture lionises illiteracy), and might even seize on an entirely different point to the one you meant to say (see The Matrix). But the simple joy to be found in a film that's slipping things past people can't be discounted. Even if these things are blindingly, sledgehammer obvious.

Which I suppose brings us to Sorry To Bother You. As always, this post carries a spoiler warning.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Guest Post – The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, episode 1 (2019)

The Dark Crystal is one of my favourite childhood movies, one that had a powerful formative effect on me. So the news that there was going to be a Netflix prequel series was not a thing that I had simple feelings about. My friend, frequent collaborator and BERGCAST co-presenter, Jon Dear felt the same way, and when he offered to write about the first episode, which he got to see previewed, I leapt at the opportunity. And unlike most of the posts here, this is more or less spoiler-free.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

We Don't Go Back: A Watcher's Guide to Folk Horror and Pagan Film

The Gorsedd, Singleton Park, Swansea. 
Updated: 14th August 2019

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.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

The Question in Bodies #25: Blue Sunshine (1977)

It's been a while since I've done a cheap, fun 1970s exploitation movie, and recently I was reminded of the existence of Blue Sunshine, which is one of those movies with a mild but attractive infamy in film buff circles, one of those legitimate minor cult films, in the category of Lemora, or Liquid Sky, or Carnival of Souls, or Let's Scare Jessica to Death.

Jeff Lieberman's Blue Sunshine is one of those quirky little low-rent shockers you find from time to time, the sort that I enjoy watching far more than any number of “good” movies. Let's take a look at it.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Neopagans, Neoreactionaries and Folk Horror

We know that the neofolk movement has a problem with the far right; we know that paganism, specifically white paganism, has also long had a problem with the far right. Neither of these things are things I’m going to write about much. Many more interesting and proficient and knowledgeable people than me have tackled those things.

But they’re related to Folk Horror fandom, and it has a problem with the far right too. So this is about that problem, and about how the (specifically) pagan far right problem intersects with that.