Events

Gender Wars And Dinosaurs… Misogyny, Paleontology & The Mother Of All Horror Films at MAYHEM 2017

Mayhem 13 (12-15th October), held as usual at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema, proved to be unlucky only for those horror aficionados who had recklessly neglected to secure a ticket… timely, too, in that much of its bill could have been compiled specifically to coincide with the breaking scandal over a certain Hollywood executive’s alleged carnal misdeeds, with a heavy emphasis on feisty females fighting back against patriarchal oppression.

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I’ve already described the Festival opener, Benjamin Barfoot’s home-grown Double Date as “the best Horror Comedy since An American Werewolf In London”… probably should have mentioned The Evil Dead or Re-animator, but there you go. Barfoot’s take on the battle of the sexes contrasts the “on the pull” ritual of two unlikely lads, the worldly wise Alex (Michael Socha) trying to get his clueless ginge mate Jim (Danny Morgan, who actually wrote this picture) laid, with the altogether more arcane and darker rituals of two oddball sisters, Kitty and Lulu (Kelly Wenham and Georgia Groome), the former keen to initiate her sibling in murder as a prerequisite of raising their occultist father from the dead. The film’s most profound statement on the vexed issue of sexual politics is left to a cameoing Dexter Fletcher, to wit: “Women… you can’t live with them, you can’t have a wank without  a photo of one of them!”

David Flint and I agreed that this one is essentially “José Larraz’s Vampyres on E” (it’s a toss-up between Jim’s family birthday party and the numerous clubbing scenes as to which is the more wince inducing) with a spot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre thrown in at the death. I shall reserve comment on my yen for Wenham until reporting on this festival in Dark Side magazine, where I’ll have a word allocation to meet… unless Wenham’s restraining order has been filed by then. Barfoot, Morgan, Groome and Socha (that well-known team of solicitors) introduced the film and fielded questions afterwards. No Kelly W, unfortunately… or perhaps fortunately.

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A rather more sobre treatment of intergender conflict was provided by Natalia Leite’s M.F.A. (above), in which art student Noelle is casually raped at a campus party and – after getting over the inappropriate self-blame – confronts her attacker, who falls over a bannister to his death after they scuffle. Feeling empowered, Noelle goes after an appalling clique of jocks who streamed their gang rape of another student live on the internet. The college authorities (even its rape counsellor) are intent that a little bit of horseplay shouldn’t ruin the promising academic and sporting careers of these guys but Noelle’s attitude is an implacable “I Spit On Your Grades” and, intensely played by one Francesca Eastwood (yep, it’s Clint’s daughter), she’s impeccably qualified to dispense a little vigilante justice. Kudos to Leite, Eastwood and writer Leah McKendrick for the development of Noelle’s character from victim (she really does look like a piece of dead meat during the unpleasantly realistic rape scene) to confident avenger… as an added bonus, her art work improves with every murder! She’s delivering the valedictory address at her academic year’s passing out ceremony when M.F.A. reaches its conclusion. It’s the wrong ending for this film, but I can’t honestly say what the right one would have been. M.F.A. is not a Harvey Weinstein production…

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Trent Haaga’s 68 Kill (2017), as the above still suggests, takes a ruder and rather more exploitive approach to its subject matter. Touted as a “punk rock answer to After Hours”, this one puts the gender oppression boot firmly on the other foot, with the appropriately named “Chip” (Mathew Gray Gubler) undergoing an unlikely descent into a garden of unearthly delights and depravities at the behest of the various Sadean women through whose hands he passes. Is his batshit crazy girlfriend Liza (AnnaLynne McCord, above) some kind of icon of feminist emancipation? If so, she’s got some funny ways of showing it, e.g. selling women to her brother, an ogre-like recluse and snuff movie auteur. In fact Chip only gains any measure of self-respect after all the controlling women around him have been killed off. I’m sure Francesca Eastwood would have something to say about that ….

There are plenty of shocks and nervous laughs to be had from 68 Kill (I’m surprised that the Daily Heil hasn’t started belly-aching about it yet) but the abiding impression of this Tarantino / Rob Zombie wannabe (with a smidgen of Russ Meyer thrown in for good measure) is of a film trying just that bit too hard. Most notably, the director’s desire for the “Pop Music” bit to be regarded as “a classic scene” is more painfully palpable than any of the misadventures that befall his characters.

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Ana Asensio, cheek-bones set to stun, in Most Beautiful Island

Most Beautiful Island, directed by and starring Ana Asensio, is best understood as an allegory of how migrants – and in this case women, in particular – are chewed up and spat out by globalisation and the prevailing neoliberal political order. After much of the film has been spent establishing the hard time Asensio’s protagonist (Luciana) has, keeping her head above water in the Big Apple, you’re just beginning to wonder where all this is heading when a “friend” informs her of an intriguing job opportunity. Donning her shop-lifted glad rags, Luciana joins other needy hopefuls in a cellar where they are inspected by a bunch of jet-setting high rollers and await their call to enter a room where, it quickly becomes apparent, something very dodgy is going on. When we finally learn exactly what that is, it turns out to be something… a bit silly, frankly, but the suspenseful section of the film leading up this revelation is effectively nerve-wracking, marking debutant director Asensio as one to watch,

Times are similarly tough on the dole in Manchester, according to Simeon Halligan’s Habit, though everyone in it still gets to go out and the lash and have a good time (“the Wham Rap fallacy”, as it is known here at THOF). Hailed (chiefly by its director) as the harbinger of a “Northern Horror Renaissance”, Habit goes so far as to feature Emmerdale’s resident raving Iranian beauty Roxanne Pallet as one of its massage parlour cannibals. Sorry, I just didn’t buy into the netherworld that Habit was trying to establish and on the evidence of this one, the Northern Horror Renaissance is still on hold. Halligan, star Elliot Langridge and producer Rachel Richardson-Jones subsequently did the Q&A thing.

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Friday and Saturday’s late night screenings each contributed to the “misogynism in Horror” debate, after their respective fashions… Friday The 13th Part 3 (a 35th Anniversary screening!) continued along the “have sex and die” plot line of its predecessors, but most viewers were less concerned with that than with the assorted viscera dumped into their laps by Mr Vorhees via the miracle of stereoscopic screening and the eyestrain / headaches attendant upon that process. In contrast, the classic Suspiria (1977) was presented in a spanky new 4K restoration and features Dario Argento’s favoured cast of victims, i.e. predominantly attractive young women… but the killers are also women and the last character left standing is another of those feisty females, so go figure. Mayhem’s landmark screening of this restoration is covered elsewhere on this site in a posting wherein we consider the contentious claim that Suspiria is actually a giallo (clue: it is!)

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Dick Maas’s Amsterdamned (1988) was a Dutch variation on the giallo theme and Mayhem’s other big Saturday night title, a UK premiere to  boot, was Prey (2016), an effective remake of that film in which the Dutch director replaces his skin-diving assassin with a huge man-eating lion, munching its way through Holland’s capital city. As in its predecessor, the kill spree serves as a back-drop to the problematic romance of its central characters (here played by Julian Looman and Sophie van Vinden) but rattles along like gangbusters in its own right, with satisfyingly suspenseful sequences and action set pieces along the way and a constant comic undercurrent. Mark Frost steals the show as a clapped-out big game hunter. Prey seems to have been somewhat sniffily received by the internet commentariat but the Mayhem crowd gobbled it up with glee and so should you. Lucio Fulci, no less, once told me that Maas was one of his favourite directors… ’nuff said. The Dutchman was in attendance and proved to be a most agreeable and amusing guy.

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The Festival closed on Sunday 15th with an unfeasibly packed program of goodies (I should think so, too… skipped Antiques Road Show for this, you know!) Having contrived to miss the J-Horror and K-Horror components of this year’s Festival (in the shape of Sion Sono’s 2015 effort Tag and Sun-Ho Cho’s A Day, the latter a UK premiere) I was delighted to catch Aaron McCann and Dominic Pearce’s Top Knot Detective, a hilarious mockumentary examination of the real life scandal (well, not that real, actually) surrounding a legendary (as in mythical) Japanese swordplay TV series and its troubled star Takeshi Takamoto. Think “Spinal Tap meets Shogun Assassin” and you’re halfway there. Preserving its poker face throughout, this one left some punters debating its status as fact or farce long after it had finished… mission accomplished.

Erlingur Thoroddsen’s The Rift was a little too enigmatic for its own good…. a little too enigmatic for me, anyway. Was the unfolding sequence of spooky events attributable to its gay protagonist’s sexual unease and abused teenage years… the violent predator on the farm next door… a childhood imaginary friend-turned-flesh… all or none of the above? Beats me. Still, due to John Wakayama’s ravishing cinematography, you get to enjoy the awe-inspiring beauty of Greenland from the comfort of your warm cinema seat.

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Bemused by feminist fightbacks? Befuddled by gender fluidity? Alarmed by loose-living libertines? There was a simpler time, when manly men did what manly men had to do and Professor Challenger types took to dirigibles to clear the skies of pesky Pterosaurs… halcyon days, effortlessly evoked by Zeppelin V Pterodactyls, a live stage reading of a script developed by Steve Sheil from a scenario written for Hammer by David Allen back in 1970, subsequently re-emerging in the extensive Hammer archives of DMU’s Cinema And Television History department. As performed by an impressive cast of thesps under the direction of Messrs Sheil and Cooke, ZVP afforded us a welcome opportunity to close our eyes and project a movie in our minds… even if the show’s title was a little misleading (a zeppelin briefly tangles with pterodactyls early on in the proceedings but the narrative’s principle focus is on a saga of undiscovered noble savages under threat from a rather less noble and more savage race of animal men generated by the Dr Moreau-like experiments of invading extraterrestrials… and I’m sure the kitchen sink was in there somewhere). The performance was scored by noted soundscaper Gavin Morrow and Gerallt Ruggiero of the mighty Madeline Rust.

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Joe Lynch’s Mayhem turns on the promising central conceit of a corporate HQ under lockdown because of a viral outbreak that robs people of their moral and social inhibitions. Amid the sexual and violent anarchy unfolding all around them, disgruntled salary man Derek Cho (Steven Yuen) and pissed off client Melanie Cross (Samara Weaving) battle their way up to the executive zone (whose occupants seemed pretty psychotic already) to settle a few scores, content in the knowledge that they won’t be held legally responsible for anything they do before the outbreak subsides.

As a piece of social satire, Mayhem is about as subtle as a flying chainsaw and was arguably the perfect send off for those festival goers contemplating the return to gainful employment the following morning, but Cooke and Sheil had one more trick up their collective sleeve, in the comically horrific shape of Peter Ricq’s Dead Shack.

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This one has been hyped as “The Evil Dead meets The Goonies” but maybe it could be better summarised as “a remake of The People Under The Stairs as directed by Peter Jackson… if he reverted to his directorial style of about 25 years ago” (hm, needs a bit of work, that one…) While I’d rather appreciated that the occult back story of Double Date was hinted at rather than spelled out, in the case of Dead Shack I really would like to have known more about exactly what that woman was doing with all those zombies under her floorboards. Then again, I did doze off a couple of times so perhaps I missed some crucial piece of exposition here or there…. which isn’t to deny that this film is good brainless fun, merely to admit that the closer I get to 60, the harder I find it to keep my eyes open for four straight days of Horror films…

I missed Marianna Palka’s Bitch (another foray into sexual politics, apparently) also this year’s Flinterrogation, thereby preserving my proud 100% record of being on the winning team every time I’ve entered fandom’s toughest quiz (i.e. precisely once). I did manage to sit through this year’s Short Film Showcase, a particularly strong selection which I’ll be covering in more detail for Dark Side.

It was nice, indeed it’s always nice to see Mr Flint (thanks for issue #2 of The Reprobate and the Cannibal Ferox mug), Carl Daft (thanks for the Severin goodies and the Earl Grey lager), Ollie Morris (who introduced me to that indispensable critical tool, The Wrong-O-Meter) and fragrant spice bomb / Madeline Rust front gal Lucy Morrow among countless others, many of whose names I didn’t quite catch.

All hail Creepy Cooke, Shady Sheil and their monstrous bastard offspring, the ever-mortifying Mayhem Film Festival. Who dares imagine what eye-popping delights they’ll be unveiling round about this time next year?

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I’ll be there to find out. How about you?

 

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SUSPIRIA At Mayhem 2017. It’s In 4K… On A Big Screen… And It’s A F**king Giallo, Alright?!?

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Suspiria, 1977. Directed by Dario ArgentoProduced by Claudio Argento and Salvatore Argento. Story by Daria NicoldiScreenplay by Dario Argento and Daria NicolodiCinematography by Luciano TovoliEdited by Franco Fraticelli. Production Design by Giuseppe Bassan. Musiby Goblin. SFX by Germano Natali. Starring: Jessica Harper, Stefania Casini, Flavio Bucci, Miguel Bosé, Barbara Magnolfi, Susanna Javicoli, Eva Axén, Rudolf Schündler, Udo Kier, Alida Valli, Joan Bennett.

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… you wait forty years for a 4k restoration of Suspiria then two turn up at the same time! Over in The States, Synapse’s Don May has been struggling manfully with his for something like a tenth of that period but CultFilms have stealthily beaten him to the punch with their European release of TLE’s take on the most visually beautiful of all Horror Films. Before either of them had aired in public there was much internet discussion and comparing of screen grabs with the intention of establishing which version would prove most successful in correcting the technical errors (too fiendishly complicated to go into here) that have marred previous releases. May’s strongest hand all along has been that Luciano Tovoli, the film’s cinematographer, has supervised his Suspiria… then again the CultFilms / TLE rendering was overseen by Dario Argento himself, who’s presumably entitled to a view on how the film should look and sound.

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Ultimately we’ll all have to pay our money / take our choice and as long as each version is only viewable in its own territory, one of the first things we Europeans (semi-detached and otherwise) will have to go on is this October and November’s Cultfilms UK mini-tour.  After its premiere at the BFI during the London Film Festival on 06/10/17, the TLE Suspiria rolled into Nottingham on the 14th October for a centrepiece Saturday late night screening at the Broadway Cinema’s peerless Mayhem Film Fest (full Festival report now active on this Blog).

Kudos to Festival co-curators Chris Cooke (who had previously told me that presenting such a restoration was a personal dream come true) and Steve Sheil, who introduced “Argento’s masterpiece” by asking how many audience members had never seen the film before. As it happened, a significant proportion of the audience admitted to being “Suspiria virgins”…

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… and what a way to lose their cherries! If the Synapse version is going to look any better than this, we’ve surely got to be talking infinitesimal degrees of cinematic lusciousness. Miraculously, considering the extent of the repairs that were reportedly needed, not a hair nor a scratch now sullies the candy coloured phantasmagoria of Argento’s vision. As for those much called-for corrections to the film’s pallet… suffice to say, you’ll feel an overpowering urge to lean into the screen and lick the marzipan walls of the Tanz Akademie, hopefully grabbing a kiss from Jessica Harper before returning to your seat and getting beaten up by the ushers.

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Soundwise, the film (not least Goblin’s celebrated score) is every bit as loud and frantic as you knew it was going to be… if a little flat. Was there something up with The Broadway’s speakers? Nope, various films of varying quality (none better than Suspiria) made effective use of the venue’s surround sound speakers throughout the Festival. Is it just that Suspiria was conceived, reasonably enough, without reference to the state of audio technology 40 year’s hence? Was there a problem with the relevant elements? With the sonic aspect of this restoration? With my ears? Will the Synapse jobby sound a little punchier? Watch (or should I say listen to?) this space…

Don’t get me wrong… it doesn’t sound crappy, it’s just not quite the outright audio assault for which Suspiria is famed. No matter, I didn’t begrudge one iota of the expense required to get me home after leaving this particular late, late show with those virgins’ applause ringing in my ears. They now knew what they’d been missing and I was reminded, after years of video / DVD / BD over-familiarity, that Suspiria is quite possibly The Greatest Horror Film Ever Made. I don’t imagine too many visitors of this Blog are going to give me to much of an argument on that one.

Now for the contentious bit…

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What constitutes a giallo?  Various definitions have been offered. From the get-go we’ll dismiss the philistine broad stroke one that encompasses virtually any Italian exploitation picture. We’re talking here about those thrillers, descended in equal parts from the yellow (“giallo”) covered paper backs published by Mondadori and co, German krimis and Hitchcock, whose rule book was developed by Mario Bava during the ’60s and upgraded by Argento throughout the following decade.

So if we were to have a, er, stab, at definition, it would look something like this. A  killer is at large (usually in an urban Italian setting) and the viewer is challenged to work out his / her identity. His / her motivation can be madness, sexual sadism, an inheritance… it scarcely matters (and the motives revealed, even in some of the genre’s classier entries, are frequently risible nonsense) because the style and severity with which the crimes are perpetrated and filmed are more important than who is killing whom and why. Subjective shots from the killer’s point of view will keep you guessing, anyway, as flashy visuals continue to be prioritised over narrative coherence. The cops generally take a powder in these films, leaving the sleuthing to some obsessive amateur who, more often than not, has half-glimpsed an all important clue but is struggling to make sense of it. Just in case this recipe isn’t already sufficiently un-PC, among the bloodily dispatched victims we will typically find a disproportionate compliment of attractive young women.

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You don’t have to honour every one of these rules to qualify as a giallo. Michele Soavi’s Stagefright (1987) throws the whodunnit element right out of the window (we’re aware of the killer’s identity even before he inaugurates the movie’s sequence of killings) yet is frequently cited as one of the genre’s last great entries. Some gialli do admit cops, e.g.  Massimo Dallamano’s What Have They Done To Your Daughters (tellingly also known as The Police Require Assistance, 1974), Sergio Martino’s Suspicious Death Of A Minor (1975) and Alberto De Martino’s Strange Shadows In An Empty Room / Blazing Magnum (1976). Some of the grubbier gialli substitute smut for style (most notoriously in Mario Landi’s unpalatable Giallo In Venice, 1979) and setting their events outside of the Italian urban milieu has not discounted Lucio Fulci’s Lizard In A Womans Skin (1971) and Don’t Torture A Duckling (1972), Umberto Lenzi’s totally barmy Eyeball (1975) or just about all of Sergio Martino’s powerful entries in the genre… so why should its Bavarian setting disqualify Suspiria, a film which in every other way adheres to the genre’s golden rules?!?

So it’s not contentious at all, actually… It’s a no-brainer. It makes no difference that the question “Who’s the killer?” is answered with a shrieked “Witch!” I always get slagged off for arguing this and no doubt will be again, but if it looks like a giallo, struts like a giallo and cuts its way through its victims like a giallo, then it’s probably a giallo… and Suspiria is a giallo. Yes, it’s a turbo charged giallo with heavy Horror overtones, supernatural schtick and cinematic style to burn. But hey, let’s try not to hold that against it, eh?

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At The Mountains Of MAYHEM (aka Dreams In The Art House / The Doom That Came To Broadway)… Nottingham’s 2016 Horror Fest Reviewed

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The 12th annual Mayhem Film Fest at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema (13th-16th October), as curated by Their Dark Lordships Chris Cooke and Steven Sheil, was a total triumph, tenebrously topped-and-tailed with spicy squirts of HP (Lovecraft) sauce. The gentlemen of The Duke St Workshop (a noted “Spooktronica Outfit”, Mr Cooke informs me) opened the proceedings in grand style, weaving a mesmerising electro web as Laurence R Harvey declaimed selections  from the “Tales Of H. P. Lovecraft” to a projected backdrop of unsettling imagery. Festival closer The Void (directed by festival guests Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski) plundered a grab bag of gory imagery from the glory days of Lucio Fulci and Stuart Gordon in the service of a crowd pleasing concoction that I can best characterise as “Assault On Cthulhu Hospital.”

Interstitial treats included Julia Ducournau’s much-hyped Raw (in which the cannibalism that’s allegedly had previous audience members carried out on stretchers was considerably less appalling to me than the conformity brutally enforced by the anti-heroine’s moronic fellow students) and a UK premiere for The Mo Brothers’ Indonesian actioner Headshot (“The film that puts The Raid In The Shade!”, doncha know.) I’m calling bullshit on Emiliano Rocha Minter’s We Are The Flesh, which aspires to avant-garde outrage but melts down into a sub-Jodorowsky mess… after which Steven Barker’s The Rezort got things back on track via its winning “Westworld with zombies” formula (Barker introduced the film and later fielded questions from the audience, none of whom had the nerve to point out that his film’s boffo climactic plot revelation had been pinched from Bruno Mattei’s Zombie Creeping Flesh!) And so to Jim Hosking’s The Greasy Strangler, about which I would simply like to say… !!!!!!!??!

Gabriele Mainetti’s They Call Me Jeeg Robot garlands its familiar Italian cop film narrative with tropes imported from Japanese anime as its lowly-criminal-turned-accidental-superhero protagonist struggles to reconnect with the human race that he’d given up on… a similar tale, differently handled, in Billy O’Brien’s I Am Not A Serial Killer, your basic everyday story of a sociopathic slacker (Max Records… you heard what I said, Max Records!) and his up-and-down relationship with a superannuated serial killer (Christopher Lloyd, no less) that also boasts the most out-of-left-field plot twist in recent memory. O’Brien and writer Christopher Hyde did the Q&A thing, post screening. Carles Torrens’ Pet rang the changes on its basic The Collector storyline with a female captive who’s not what she initially seems… brief outbreaks of torture porn notwithstanding, this one was ultimately undone by the unbelievability of its lead characters (still not sure whether this was attributable to how they were performed or how they were written… possibly all of the above.)

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In the face of much ironic / post modern festival content, Sean (The Loved Ones) Byrne’s The Devil’s Candy played things straight, its classic take on demonic possession going down very well indeed with the assembled Mayhem revellers. Don’t Kill It is a sub-Sam Raimi offering from Michael Mendez, whose fiendishly simple plot conceit keeps the violent thrills coming thick and fast. It also boasts a wonderfully self mocking performance from Dolph Lundgren as demon hunter Jebediah Woodley. The narrative of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s much-anticipated return to the J-Horror field, Creepy, unfolds at a leisurely pace as its protagonist drifts gradually and inexorably into the (frankly unfeasible) trap set by his, er, creepy neighbour. I missed much of The Ghoul, so apologies to director Gareth Tunley, yet another of the festival’s star guests.

Mayhem began as a short films festival and honours its roots every year with a collection of the same. This year’s two-hour strand of promising cinematic sketches ranged from Tristan Ofield’s bonsai Sci-fi epic White Lily to the black comedy of Conor McMahon’s Stranger In The Night (not to mention the brown comedy of The Procedure!)

We were further treated to two late night retro screenings, Mario Bava’s Alien-inspiring mini masterpiece Planet Of The Vampires (remastered under the supervision of flavour-of-the-month Nicolas Winding Refn and – lest it be forgot – Lamberto Bava) and a timely, touching projection of Herschell Gordon Lewis’s epochal Blood Feast with a special filmed introduction by The Godfather of Gore himself, so recently lost to us.

Incidental festival delights included the film introductions and knockabout musical-themed goody bag giveaways conducted by the redoubtable Sheil / Cooke double act and the chance to meet some social media friends in the flesh (great to spend a cozy hour or two with @CosiPerversa), coin a few new friendships and renew fond old acquaintances with the likes of David and Eva Reprobate, Carl Severin, the very FAB Harvey Fenton, the hot-rockin’ Morrows, Ewan and Mike from Arrow… big hello to the Shudder crew, too.

‘Twas particularly sweet to be in the team that won the traditional pre-closer quiz (nay, “Flinterrogation”) along with Carl, Eva, charming chanteuse Robyn Taylor and the agreeable dude whose name currently eludes me (sorry!) If I’ve forgotten anything or anybody else… well, I’m getting on a bit now! Still hopefully sprightly enough to make it to Mayhem 2017… see you there?

(Look out for my extended Festival report in an upcoming issue of Dark Side magazine…)

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Little Deuce Coup… DOCTOR BUTCHER AT THE BROADWAY

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It’s all very well (has been rather jolly, in fact) watching Scala-type screen filler on DVD/BD and posting Scala-related reviews, features and interviews online but it has its limitations. Imagine my disappointment, for example, on playing the outboard motor scene from Doctor Butcher to Mrs F who, instead of whooping enthusiastically and commenting on the finer points of Maurizio Trani’s FX work, opined: “Uurgh, that’s horrible! Don’t ever show me that again!” 😦

No, to truly invoke the spirit of Scalarama you’ve got to get up off your sofa, leave the house (I freely admit, I’m not a great advocate for either of those activities) and sit yourself down among the great unwashed to enjoy a trash film with a live audience. Admittedly Phil “Hedgehog” Tonge barely qualifies as “live” but it was nice to remake his acquaintance as we shared the awesomeness that was the aforementioned Doctor Butcher M.D. playing at Nottingham’s Broadway Cinema under the Scalarama banner on the evening of Saturday, 17th of September, this year of Our Lord 2016.

Kudos to the mighty men of Mayhem, The Reprobate and Severin (whose incredible Doctor Butcher BD is reviewed elsewhere on the site) for bringing this bastard offspring of Times Square and the Tiber terror mills to The Broadway, a venue so uptight and PC under a previous regime that it banned Hong Kong knockabout fare for its perceived slights against the LGBT community and declared that De Palma’s Dressed To Kill would never sully its screens under any circumstances (it subsequently did, uncut!) Certain sensitivities must be observed though and I noticed that in advertising for the event the Doc’s C.V. had been amended from “depraved, sadistic rapist” to “depraved, sadistic maniac”… sounds like a much more agreeable chap now, doesn’t he?

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I was hoping that Severin’s Carl Daft might be manning the Butcher Mobile outside and handing out barf bags to punters, but it wasn’t to be. Nevertheless, Theatre 4 was just about sold out and in their introduction Chris Cooke, then Dave Flint did their best to whip up a little 42nd Street grindhouse atmosphere, while cautioning viewers that they probably wouldn’t get away with public sex or overt drug use. There was a rumour that somebody had taken a crap in one of the urinals, but this turned out to be a short lived and highly localised urban myth. Shame, really…

These provisos notwithstanding, the audience did guffaw enthusiastically along to their favourite scenes and lines of dialogue. “The patient’s screams disturbed my concentration so I performed removal of the vocal cords” and “I’m determined to have your brain!” went down particularly well and inevitably the most popular scene was…

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An unwholesome good time was had by all and before exiting into a Nottingham disfigured by the antisocial antics of alcohol addled townies (a spectacle that probably had more in common with the heyday of 42nd Street than anything which had gone on in the polite environs of The Broadway) we were thanked by Mr Cooke, who took the opportunity to plug the imminent Mayhem Fest (13th-16th October) and announce that they’ll be screening upcoming Severin release The Killing Of America in its newly discovered longer cut on the eve of the American Presidential election.

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Enjoy yourselves, it’s later than you think…

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