Tuesday 29 August 2017

I Blame Society #6: Firekind (1993); Killing Time (1991)

One of the good things about this strand of my blog is that I don't have to limit it to film. And while I don't read nearly as many comics as I used to, there are a very few authors and artists that I started following as a kid that I'll still look up from time to time today. So like if there's a new, rare, English translation of something by Enki Bilal, that's going to be mine, for example.

I bought 2000AD pretty religiously throughout my teens, and on and off into my 20s, and then stopped altogether sometime about 15 years ago. But very early on, I started noticing the writers who resonated with me. And I always used to get excited if there was a new strip by John Smith.

Friday 25 August 2017

The Question in Bodies #2: Demonlover (2002)

With the speed in which the Internet has transformed our culture, and has transformed itself, it is perhaps inevitable that few things have dated more swiftly and more profoundly than films about the web.

Olivier Assayas' 2002 film Demonlover is not really an exception to this rule, but it nonetheless turned out to be one of the most prescient Internet Movies made before about 2010, and that mainly is  I think because it's not about the technology, but about how people respond to it, and about what it means for human identity and, inevitably, sexuality.

If you care about spoilers, and you think you might see this film, this post is going to give away nearly all the twists. That includes the pictures. Sorry. 

Thursday 24 August 2017

We Don't Go Back #60: The Owl Service (1969)

She wants to be flowers, but you made her owls.

The thing about mythology, or at any rate the mythology of place, is that it is cyclic, is that it is doomed to repeat itself, over and over. It writes itself into the story of the community, and it's always the tragedies that seem to cling the tightest to the land, wrapping themselves around the remnants of something very old.

Here is a stone with a hole in it. Here is a service of plates with a floral design reminiscent of owls. The story of Math Son of Mathonwy, fourth branch of the Mabinogion ends with an account of how Lleu Llaw Gyffes, cursed by his mother Arianrhod to have no human wife, marries Blodeuwedd, who the magician-king Math1 made from flowers. But Blodeuwedd is unfaithful, falling in love with Gronw Pebyr of Penllyn. She convinces Gronw to kill Lleu with a poisoned spear, but Lleu shrugs off the dying, poisoned flesh and becomes an eagle. The magician Gwydion restores him to life. He comes to take revenge on Gronw. Gronw hides behind a stone, but Lleu hurls his spear with such force it makes a neat hole through the stone and breaks Gronw's back, killing him. Blodeuwedd's punishment for infidelity and murder (and it's only one more incident in a tale soaked from the start in blood, murder and rape) is to become an owl, forever. The stone, a hole through it, remains.

This is the setting of Alan Garner's novel The Owl Service, adapted for TV by the author in 1969.

Thursday 17 August 2017

We Don't Go Back #59: The Dunwich Horror (1969)

To talk about American horror, whether it’s folk horror or not, you have to talk about Howard Phillips Lovecraft. Without Lovecraft you couldn’t have Invasion of the Body Snatchers, or Alien, or Cronenberg and Carpenter and Raimi. Without Lovecraft, there’s no Stephen King, no Thomas Ligotti. It spirals backwards to him, an inexorable gravity. Even if it’s explicitly made without the influence of Lovecraft, it has to be a conscious dismissal. It has to happen in Lovecraft’s context. And there’s American horror before Lovecraft, of course there is, but Lovecraft is the bottleneck in the history of American horror.

Also I share a first name with the guy.

As surprising as it might seem, this movie is largely centred around date rape, so if you find this a difficult thing to read about, be warned.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

The Question in Bodies #1: Inevitable Neckbeard

The Question in Bodies

So there’s a sort of film that interests me, that’s scary in a certain way, and because it’s hard exactly to quantify I’m going to stick a label of my own on it. It’s not science fiction, although most of these films have some sort of a science fictional element. It’s not exactly body horror, although several of the films in the category are very much, very solidly that. It’s not exactly psychological horror either, although that is also part of it. It’s sort of about the intersection between the two, about how body, mind and spirit affect and harm each other, about how the fluidity of the body affects the mind and vice versa.

I’m going to call it Identity Horror, although I am sure that someone else will come up with a better name for it.

Thursday 10 August 2017

We Don’t Go Back #58: Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural (1973)

If Valerie and her Week of Wonders and Carnival of Souls had a torrid affair and conceived an ill-behaved lovechild, it would probably look like Richard Blackburn’s only feature film, Lemora: A Child’s Tale of the Supernatural. 

(Before I go on, note that the film plays fast and loose with issues of child abuse, so, as usual, I should warn you that if this is a thing that especially upsets you, be careful.)  

Tuesday 8 August 2017

I Blame Society #5: Planet of the Apes (1968)

(This post is also Your Move, Darwin #1)

One of the absolute top experiences of this Summer has been sitting down with the Golden-Haired Youth (at the time of writing, eight years old) and showing him, at his insistence, Planet of the Apes. It is a film I've adored since I was maybe 11, one I never get tired of. Anyway, about twenty minutes in, my son turned and said to me, "This is a really good film." I'd somehow miraculously managed to keep him unspoiled, and so when That Big Reveal happens at the end, his eyes almost popped out of his head and his mouth fell open.

It was glorious.

Monday 7 August 2017

We Don't Go Back #57: The Green Man (1990)

The 9pm watershed was a hard limit during my childhood. And then, at a stroke, it wasn’t, and I could watch everything, and did. And I began to watch everything I could that was on the TV that was even vaguely genre, and that’s why, aged 15 and never having heard of Kingsley Amis, I taped all three episodes of The Green Man. It was a ghost story, a supernatural drama, except it wasn’t; the supernatural elements were not the heart of the thing.

It occurred to me that The Green Man was about something. I wasn’t really up on what it was about. But it was definitely about something.

But then, it was the first tip-off for me that maybe they were all about something.