Tuesday 30 July 2019

The Action Movie Pulled Over Your Eyes

The Matrix (1999); The Matrix Reloaded (2003); The Matrix Revolutions (2003)

You've seen The Matrix, I expect. Even if you haven't, what if I told you that you've still got a half decent chance of being able to quote lines from the film?

(Also, what if I told you that Morpheus never says "What if I told you"? But I digress.)

So, Spoiler warnings are irrelevant, but here's one anyway. All the spoilers are here. All of them.

Like you care.

Thursday 25 July 2019

What Poe Would Have Done

What say of it? What say of Failure grim,
That spectre in my path?”

Because when you quote Edgar Allan Poe,
Even for a cheap punchline or a laugh,
It is important to misquote, to chop and combine
Modern sentiment and old-time lit
An out-of-place word in a centuries-old line
Because, you must realise,
It’s what Poe would have done,
And you must hope that when you die
Alone under mysterious circumstances,
Paupered, ignored,
That you hold tight to the apprehension
That people might appreciate your work,
Your narrative flow, your dialogue,
Your focus, your texture,
Your grasp of dramatic tension
When you are gone;
It’s what Poe would have done.

Friday 19 July 2019

Adam and Eve (Not Adam and Steve)

(The man to whom this poem is dedicated would not appreciate the dedication.)

No, you’re right. It wasn’t Adam and Steve.
I’ve done the research. I believe
You’ll find that in point of fact
Adam’s lover was Jack:
Slim, clean-shaven, possessed of graceful fingers,
A soft voice, blue eyes that would linger
Warmly on the curve of a chin or shoulder.
He listened keenly to the needs of the older
Man, held him gently in the dark,
Washed the fig leaves daily,
Whistled gaily
As he trimmed the poinsettias
Around the trees of knowledge and life,
Smiled and chatted brightly with Adam’s wife
And her own lover, Barbara.

Thursday 18 July 2019


From Reginald Tate to the Tate Modern. From an asteroid 400 000 miles over Southern England (?) to Ringstone Round. And of course, from Hobbs Lane to Hobbs End. Every Quatermass story from television, film and radio discussed, dissected and handed over to the military to secure its funding.

Join me, Jon Dear (viewsfromahill.com) and some very special guests as BERGCAST blasts off from Tarooma, Australia and attemps to bring something back...



Monday 15 July 2019

He Recalls the Inventor of the Death Ray

Some time later, I would see the footage
Of Harry Grindell Matthews and the Death Ray.
He flickered, silent, moving newsreel-fast
Pressing switches, checking dials on his device.
A lightbulb flashed. An object fell from the sky.

He told me, as a boy in wartime
He played in Clydach on the hill
Near the aging inventor’s home.
He wondered at the powered fences
Soaked up all the stories,
Imagined a world the man had designed:
Beams of flashgordon light
Swatting bombers from the night,
Skywritten warnings and news of war.
British Tommies in Welsh-built rocketpacks
Swooping into Berlin and abducting
Werner Von Braun from his home before
The Yanks and the Russians even get involved.
By the time the time the Japanese capitulate
To rayguns and riveted rocketships
Built of Port Talbot steel and Swansea copper
We have already built fleets with dragons inside them
Breathing blackandwhite trails of sparks and smoke and fire,
En route to the Moon, or Venus, or Pluto,
Englishmen at the helm, but made in the Valleys.
This boy’s own promise of a golden age
Made in Wales.

(Thanks to Dr Rhys Jones for reading this poem so beautifully.)

Sunday 14 July 2019


Last night I travelled standard class
On a shabby windowless aeroplane,
With stained and battered seats and
An in-flight movie screen of the old style.

I had arranged to meet my father’s ghost
In a far-away departure lounge.
He was of course vague and distant,
As he had been in life. He said nothing new.

I flew home on the same plane,
On the same day, in the same class.
I paid no attention to the movie,
Nor even noticed what it was.

Saturday 13 July 2019

Gwendolyn Kiste: Confronting Ghosts

Not pictured: awesome book. Pictured: awesome hat.
Gwendolyn Kiste is a rapidly rising star in the realm of literary horror. Her 2017 short fiction collection And Her Smile Will Untether the Universe was nominated for a 2017 Bram Stoker Award. I was lucky enough to meet Gwendolyn at this year’s StokerCon, where her book The Rust Maidens won the 2018 Stoker Award, in the First Novel category, which is the one category where you only ever get the one shot. Gwendolyn is a really great person, and she was a source of a great deal of energy and light at StokerCon. When her name got called at the awards dinner, I cheered harder for her than I did for anyone.

Gwendolyn is rapidly moving towards the category of "prolific" and already has a new, limited edition chapbook out, The Invention of Ghosts, but I really wanted to talk with Gwendolyn about The Rust Maidens.

The Rust Maidens is an exceptional work of fiction, and it ties into pretty much every one of my favourite horror subgenres and themes. In the book, we follow the story of Phoebe, a teenager in the 1980s and a middle-aged woman in the present day, as she tries to unravel and come to terms with the mystery of the Rust Maidens, a group of teenage girls living in depressed city of Cleveland, Ohio whose bodies begin to turn into industrial decay from the inside out.

If you haven’t read The Rust Maidens and want to, here’s the inevitable spoiler warning. Anyway, this is Gwendolyn and me, talking about the beauty of body horror, the monstering of teenage girls, healing in exile, and the spiritual consequences of Bad Reputations.

Saturday 6 July 2019

Children in Concentration Camps: a Filmic Survey

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008)

(Note: I suppose I should include a spoiler warning here, but to be honest, anything that means you don't have to watch this is a blessing and you should thank me.)

But what if, right, what if it was a kid who wasn't Jewish that died in the Holocaust? What if a kid who wasn't supposed to died? Like one of your kids? Wouldn't that make you realise? Wouldn't you understand what you were doing then? Wouldn't that make you sorry?

Because if the state of the world tells us anything right now, it's not like we're able to feel anything for anyone else's children.

Feel the compassion. No, not compassion for the Jewish people, because they're the collateral damage of history, right? No, you have to feel, really feel for the family of the Nazi whose own kid accidentally gets gassed. Feel for him. Feel the sympathy. feel the sincerity.

Feel the all-consuming performative middlebrow middle-class smugness.

God, I hope the people who made this thing (and yeah, all right, that includes John Boyne, who wrote the book) are so proud of themselves.

That's all you get.

See also: The Reader (2008)

Monday 1 July 2019

The Question in Bodies #24: Jennifer's Body (2009)

Jennifer's Body: most underrated teen horror movie of the last two decades, or most underrated teen horror movie ever? Bold claims, probably. But it's definitely underrated.

Spoilers in this post, as ever.