Friday 30 June 2017

We Don't Go Back #51: Requiem for a Village (1975)

One of the real pleasures of this project has been how the broad theme of "folk horror" encompasses a whole spectrum of films that wouldn't otherwise go together at all,so you end up teasing out common threads between shoestring indie films, exploitation horror, artsy genre films, thoughtful TV plays, children's shows, "serious" films that win awards, and full-on art film. I've found a sort of sliding scale, a continuum, and yet you can see in the the "highest" and the "lowest" those same tropes and themes.

David Gladwell's 1975 film Requiem for a Village, released not so very long ago as part of the excellent BFI Flipside series, is not long (just over an hour), but it's tremendously dense, and it took me two watches really before I felt I had got to grips with it. And yes, it's most definitely on the art end of the spectrum.

(This is a content warning, though: mention is made of a rape scene, and as usual, if discussion of such distresses you, please don't read on.)

Thursday 29 June 2017

We Don't Go Back: the Kickstarter, funding now

My Kickstarter for the book form of We Don't Go Back: A Watcher's Guide to Folk Horror is now live. I'm aiming to raise £1200 in 28 days, and as is the custom, I have amusingly named rewards and inspiring stretch goals. Help me print my words about film on sustainable trees (it's from the forest, see).

Support me here.

Wednesday 28 June 2017

Cult Cinema #7: Safe (1995)

Every so often you get a film that starts out as one thing and at then end turns into quite another, and while I genuinely don't care about spoilers, there is something to be said for not knowing how a film will end, or what course it will take. Sometimes even including a film in a list of thematically similar movies ruins the surprise of first viewing. Todd Haynes's 1995 film Safe, is perhaps old enough for it not to matter. So. Safe starts out one way, and goes to an unexpected place.

Monday 26 June 2017

We Don't Go Back #50: Blood on Satan's Claw, a reappraisal

When I first wrote about (The) Blood on Satan's Claw, it's fair to say that I didn't take the film at all seriously. I sort of regret that review.

My previous review of Blood on Satan's Claw is one of the most negative posts on this blog. That's not the problem, though. The problem is that it's basically a dismissal of the film. And the fact is, if you're properly looking at folk horror films, the three films you have to take seriously are The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan's Claw. People I like and respect consider it one of the Towering Classics of the genre; every time someone's talked about how great it was, how fantastic, I started to begin to doubt my judgement.

I began to to wonder if I'd seen the same film as these people.

So, here's the thing. I'm going to launch a Kickstarter for a We Don't Go Back book this week, and that means it's time to return to Blood on Satan's Claw and give it a reappraisal (I'm going to rewatch The Witch as well, since I didn't really give that one enough depth either, first time round). This post retreads some of the ground of the first post, and supersedes it.

Yes, yes, all right. I went back.

(Before I go further, it's content warning time. If discussions of rape and rape culture upset you or bring back things you wish they wouldn't, please don't read on. An essay about an old horror film is not a good reason to experience real distress.)

Friday 23 June 2017

We Don't Go Back: the Book

Alternative Titles For This Blog #207
So ever since I got past the original dozen or so posts I planned, I thought that there might be mileage in compiling and re-editing We Don't Go Back into book form.

Wednesday 21 June 2017

We Don't Go Back #49: Walkabout (1971)

I confess, I'd never seen Walkabout until this week. I knew about it, sure; I remember my brother saw it at school in an English class (really) and the controversy that arose from that. I recorded it off the TV some years ago on a PVR that broke before I could watch it. Finally, a few months ago I bought the Blu Ray.

And it sat on the shelf and I've watched literally everything else I haven't watched before and a raft of things I have.

Tuesday 20 June 2017

The Shivering Circle: Beta Playtest, part 1

It's been a while since I had a think about RPG design. In fact, I'd more or less decided a few months ago that I'd given up on it forever, but you know how it is.

Before That Hasty Decision, I'd started writing a folk horror themed game, and years before that I'd gotten maybe 10% of the way into making a horror game where player characters were almost certain to die.

When I thought, I know, I'll resurrect that horror game, I looked for my notes.

Friday 16 June 2017

The Stone Tapes: On Stories, Folklore and Stones

Kat Beem and Matt Peach.
As I mentioned yesterday when I reviewed the reissue of The Stone Tapes' Avebury album, Kat Beem and Matt Peach had kindly agreed to an interview.

Thursday 15 June 2017

For Frank #5

It's time for some more music reviews. Including an apparent 70s pastiche but not, a new album by an old favourite, a discussion of something that I am not sure that I am young enough to be allowed to understand (the clue's in the opening picture), and a redux of aural psychodrama.

Monday 12 June 2017

We Don't Go Back #683: That One Episode of POLDARK (2017)

This is a post that is in my series about folk horror on film and TV, but it is also a post about POLDARK.

In my head, POLDARK is written in capital letters. POLDARK is so repetitive, every episode might as well be written from a checklist. POLDARK is melodramatic and overwrought on every possible level. POLDARK has hilariously on the nose dialogue. POLDARK is entirely predictable.

I unironically love it. I'm not joking. It is so much fun.

I'm going to talk in some detail about last night's episode here so if you're a fan and you haven't seen it yet, seriously, why not?

When you've seen it come back and we'll talk.

I'll wait.

Saturday 10 June 2017

The Devil's Bridge

The village of Devil's Bridge (in Welsh, Pontarfynach) is not far from Aberystwyth. Its most significant landmark is a remarkable gorge across which stand three bridges, one built on top of the other, a visible story of a thousand years of history. The recent TV drama Hinterland makes a great deal of use of the area. It's a dramatic place.

The top bridge, the road bridge from which you go to see the gorge, dates to 1901. It sits on top of a bridge built in 1708. And that stands on a bridge that dates to the eleventh century.

And that bridge? That one was built by Satan.

Tuesday 6 June 2017

Every Man Has His Price

You are bidding on the dignity
Of a thirty-five year-old man
Starting (no reserve) at fifty p.
A former writer and poet (freelance),
Now working in office administration
In British higher education.
He’s not using it right now, and needs the money
So he decided to list it. Like it’s funny.
Category: collectibles, religious objects,
Secular Humanism, abstract concepts.
Used or pre-owned, may show signs of wear.
Got any questions? Link’s down there.

Questions Received:
1. Are you also planning to list your soul? Would you consider a private deal?
2. If I win your dignity, would you mind if I donated it to Iggy Pop? I don’t need it like he does.
3. How much for international shipping?

It goes for five pounds and sixty pence at the end,
The price inflated by a single, unsuccessful last-minute bid.
With the certificate of ownership I shall send
A letter asking that he take more care of it than I did,
Although, since it is no longer in my hands,
I have no right to make demands.1

1In June 2011, having worked nearly a year in the sort of administrative non-job that made me want to die, I thought, sod it, I'm selling my dignity on eBay. So I did. The questions were actual questions I received. In the end, it went to Jon, who was kind enough to give it back a few years later.