Gaslight (1940)

In 1938 Patrick Hamilton wrote a play that would become so part of the zeitgeist that, the term ‘’gaslighting’’ directly originates from this work, and is used in clinical and mental health research papers.

The term refers to a form of psychological abuse that manifests itself when a purportrator uses techniques to question their own ability to make their own choices, their very sanity, by chipping away at their confidence, making them feel like their concerns are mere paranoia or an overactive imagination. It is insidious, cruel, and  often a slow, drip of abuse of trust that completely destroys a person’s self esteem and forces them to reply heavier on their abuser.

Once you learn to recognise the signs, examples of gaslighting are rife in modern society, from the media, politics, and of course in intimate relationships.          

Donald Trump’s election campaign was a masterclass in gaslighting; from the  constant drip feed of Hilary Clinton’s name used in a derogatory way, using xenophobia and racist stereotypes as a way to spread fear, hunkering down like King Canute against the tide of truths about his (let’s face it) vile character and exposure of his lies, using the voters deepest fears and prejudices against them, while deflecting any and all accusations of his inability to even run a business, never mind a country, and using it to his advantage by pretending to be  Joe Everyman.

He actually found a way to spin his constant stream of nonsensical lies into accusations of media bias against him, and unfortunately a LOT of people ate it up like dog’s eating  vomit.

Other examples of it include blaming African Americans for police racism, making you believe poor Mexican immigrants are to blame for the fact you aren’t rich, and trying to paint every Syrian refugee as a potential terrorist.

During the UK elections the voters were gaslighted with Murdoch owned press and Tory Besties BBC News constantly insinuating that Jeremy Corbyn was a terrorist sympathiser, giving him less airtime than the Conservatives, editing down footage of his speeches where he sounded very capable as a politician, and conveniently not reporting on the record crowds that were travelling from all over the country to see him. All the while May Bot and her hapless Tory spin doctors were actually arms dealing their way to being terrorist adjacent, drawing no crowds, and stealing policies from Satan himself; but the media and the millionaires that did not want a Prime Minister who wouldn’t kiss the ring, and let them keep their offshore tax havens, were definitely on the side of Conservatives.

The best thing to do to find truth in the sea of lies, is to read the same stories from different sources to see how they differ, use independent grassroots media, take the emotional words out of speeches and statements and see it’s real message, and pay attention to what the media is NOT saying; because trust me, the main guys talk themselves blue in the face without saying an AWFUL lot.

Ironically the big screen debut of Gaslight was a kind of a victim of the practice itself. It was sadly overshadowed by the star studded Ingrid Bergman version four years later;  as upon its release MGM studios tried to erase it’s very existence by attempting to destroy all evidence and negatives of its predecessor. Fortunately, the director Throrold Dickinson had the foresight to stash away his own copy, therefore allowing future generations to make their own minds up about who made the better adaption.

For the record, the 1940 version is the definite winner in my eyes. It has an atmosphere and immediacy that the Hollywood version is lacking, and though Bergman is always captivating, Diana Wynyard brings a haunted fragility that cannot be replicated, and in short, is spellbinding.

Darker, grittier, with less humour than the remake, the original Gaslight is a masterpiece in psychological horror, that the glamour of Hollywood can’t hold a flickering candle to.

However, that’s just my opinion. Go, watch both and make your own mind up, I would hate to be accused of manipulation …

Posted in 1940's horror, 40's horror, black and white horror, brit horror, British Horror, critique, fiction, film and media, Forties horror, horror, mental illness, opinion, pop culture, psychological horror, thriller, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Tower Block (2012)

Gentrification seems to be the new buzz word these days for a very old way of doing things. It’s a great and lovely sounding way of saying ‘’We don’t want your kind round here anymore’’, whether ‘’your kind’’ is the wrong colour, the wrong socio economic status, the wrong demographic; it all means the same thing in the end: that the rich, white people don’t want your low status getting in the way of their high money stakes plans of ‘’regenerating’’ (another popular buzzword) an area. We know these plans aren’t aimed at the same sorts of people because the businesses that replace what was there will be targeting a niche market,  and the homes built will not be affordable social housing, but those meant for young, trendy executive types with large disposable incomes.

You will have heard of the tragedy of the Grenfell Tower Block fire of the last week. The absolute horror of so many lives lost; not to mention the lives completely obliterated by losing every single thing they owned and being left without a roof over their head is something that has completely shocked the nation. The residents of this place fought for years to be heard about the safety concerns surrounding the fire hazards of their home, Tories have closed three fire stations in the area, and instead of the landlords spending money on sprinklers for the buildings, the residents have paid the ultimate price.

The Tories are of course knee deep in this, blood covered hands that swept safety reports under the carpet, while they bought flammable cladding for the buildings , to make the view a bit nicer for the posh folk across the way, but sadly, in the event of a fire, a complete death sentence.  

After the terrorist attacks of Manchester there was a minute’s silence immediately after, victims were named and the government spoke out, calling for action. There is silence after Grenfell, but only from those in power. There are surely copies of tenancy agreements that would help to find and identify the bodies, but the media and conservative government are doing their very best to conceal the true extent of the devastation. So far there are reports of over 160 deaths in the fire, while the Murdoch controlled media stranglehold has been reporting a mere 17.

The Mail and the Sun, Darth May’s loyal followers, have even gone so far as to print a picture of a man they claim to be the cause of the fire (the crime of being poor and buying a faulty refrigerator apparently). You think, wow, that is the lowest you can go, until you find out that a ‘’journalist’’ (I use the term extremely loosely), posed as a grieving relative to get an interview.

Take a bow gutter press, you have truly outdone yourselves this time.

You’ll be forgiven if the Tory government, and victim blaming in the face of tragic circumstances, are giving you Déjà vu feelings of the Hillsborough disaster of the eighties.

Despite the absolute the outcry, the grief, and the anger raging against the bureaucracy and corruption that was the cause of this, the ordinary people who live in this community have truly done themselves proud. Muslims who were up late breaking their Ramadan fast, were some of the first on the scene; alerting residents and bringing food, clothes and water to the victims. A feast was put out on the street for anyone who needed to eat, and the sheer outpouring of love and concern for those affected were truly inspirational.

As someone who grew up on a council estate, and who is the wrong socio economic background, I am proud of where I came from, and people like this, represent the Britain that I want to be a part of .

Tower Block seems eerily relevant after the events of the last week, as it tells the story of a run down block of flats that are going to be demolished, and the remaining residents are under attack by an unknown sniper.

The casting for this film is excellent, and for an independent, character driven piece such as this, it’s nothing short of essential. Russel Tovey and Sheridan Smith are faultless, as usual, and give Tower Block the little something extra that it needs.

Think Batteries Not Included meets Die Hard with none of the sweetness, and a smidgen of ‘’road man’’ attitude.

It’s a great little gem, that was by no means out of the box, in terms of original plot or brutality; but it’s gritty intensity kept you invested until the end.

Simplistic plot which while sometimes unrealistic, has a great dialogue, claustrophobia and some of our most underrated British talent bringing it on home.

And just so you know; It doesn’t matter where you come from, your colour creed or your background, if you have morality and empathy for others, you are richer than Theresa May.

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Fear (1996)

How many times have you lied when someone has come on to you in a bar to avoid a confrontation or an insult? I used to be guilty of it. You wear a ring on your wedding finger, you pretend your friend is your girlfriend, you tell them you have a boyfriend … sometimes it is just easier than saying you aren’t interested and being told ‘You’re ugly anyway!’, or ‘I did it for a bet!’ or having one of those guys that just won’t take no for an answer sexually harass you until you have to destroy his fragile masculinity.

It’s not an attack on men, because my male friends have had similar experiences, but lies,  even little kind ones, are not the solution. By softening the rejection, you are just going along with the idea that you owe that person something. You don’t owe anybody anything, and if you aren’t interested in someone then you don’t have to make excuses for that.

Controlling behaviour is becoming a worrying trend in modern relationships, with violence and obsessional conduct on the up. Nothing says that my partner doesn’t trust me like a joint couples account, or going through your partners phone or emails. People saying things like ‘Oh, my boyfriend doesn’t like me wearing makeup/short skirts/low cut tops …’, ‘I made him delete all of the girl’s numbers from his phone’ are all things we have heard or witnessed first-hand at some point, and it is scary how normal these sort of conversations have become.

This is not an issue exclusive to any gender either; the myth of ‘the One’ perpetuated by twisted so called romances such as Twilight and Fifty Shades of Bad Writing, are normalising and romanticising  abuse and obsession, creating narcissistic and insecure individuals who cannot handle rejection and separation in love.

Stalking and abuse isn’t a Hollywood issue, and it can and does happen to anyone. It has happened to me. It is a serious issue and isn’t always about romantic connections, it can be a stranger or a lover, it can be a friend or an enemy, and it is always something you should record and report.

From the second a person starts to exhibit behaviour that is controlling or obsessive make it clear that you will not stand for it, get out, go to the police, tell your friends and family, and cut off all communication.

Fear is a film about a naive young sixteen year old (Reece Witherspoon)who falls in love with an older man (Marky Mark Wahlberg), who becomes violent and possessive. After being rejected by her he begins a campaign of brutality and harassment against her family and friends in a warped attempt to win her back, ending in a terrifying final confrontation.

For a nineties thriller, Fear is a pretty good film. Surprisingly atmospheric and Wahlberg’s menacing performance should be credited as the disturbed David, and the young Witherspoon’s doe eyed innocent is the perfect cast for the part.  In no way, unpredictable or genre breaking, but this story of love gone bad, and a family in turmoil is stronger than your average movie and an undeniably enjoyable watch.

Some stories are told for fun, and some are told to highlight real issues. However unrealistic or silly some films may get for entertainment value, the basic story they are trying to tell, is sometimes the important thing that gets lost.

Posted in 90's horror, critique, fiction, film and media, mental illness, murder, opinion, psychological horror, psychotic killer, revenge, Slasher, thriller, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stage Fright (2014)

This week has been a kicker, huh? Bombs dropped, both metaphorical and physical, world leaders engaging in a pissing contest that soaks everyone’s walls but their own, and informed, sensible, and dare I say normal, human beings are  trying to live their lives under the constant threat of a third world war. 

When the whole world is going to hell in a reusable shopping tote, you have to look at the positives; there is still chocolate and puppies, and stories about the American President paying for golden showers with Russian hookers … There is still distraction in laughing at the idea that a reality star is running a world power (I would have definitely preferred Snookie though, if I’m being completely honest), and he is still clinging to the idea that his hair is real.

So in the theme of distracting us from the fact we could all be vaporised tomorrow, I’m reviewing a comedy horror that is also a musical. With MEATLOAF. If that don’t put a smile on your faces, I fear there may just be no hope for you at all.

Camilla and Buddy are two teenagers orphaned when their mother (Minnie Driver) is brutally murdered on the night of a new musical’s debut, working for bed and board at a theatre camp that their mother’s former lover Uncle Meatloaf runs.

Desperate for money to keep afloat and gain recognition from the world he was once a part of, their pseudo Uncle decides to stage the very Opera that ended so tragically a decade ago.

Obviously tempting fate, Camilla is determined to play the role that her mother died for, facing  stiff competition from the precocious campers, someone is prepared to kill in an attempt to stop the production.

Stage Fright is the film that makes everything you ever wanted to happen to the kids in Glee, happen. There is blood, songs and plenty of tongue in cheek homages to the cult horror of my youth.

It’s silly, really laugh out loud funny, and though not especially original, it’s a stand out debut from Canadian director Jerome Sable. I can tell as a fan of the genre that Sable’s film is more of a love letter to the cult slashers of the eighties, with plenty of satisfying kills, and a grisly humour that really works.

Whatever your horror fetish, Stage Fright is light entertainment, bathed in blood, with some catchy little ditties thrown in for good measure. You may even crack a smile – I did.

Posted in 80's horror, Eighties Horror, fiction, film and media, murder, opinion, pop culture, revenge, Slasher, Twist ending, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Visitor (2017)

Independent horror is going through a small renaissance right now, with digital media becoming more accessible to those without Hollywood super budgets, and crowdfunding making fans more involved in projects that interest them, while making it easier for directors to generate publicity and solve financial constraints.

However, crowdfunding is extremely difficult, and for those on a deadline, it sometimes just doesn’t work out., often falling to the dedicated few to risk their own money on a venture that just may not work out.

The Visitor is a short film, made on a shoe string, and solely funded by the creators after a failed attempt at crowdfunding, but the end product was worth the blood and sweat that clearly went it to it.

A doctor using an experimental fertility treatment on women finding conception difficult, begins to have strange experiences, and messages from a Visitor, and as the credits roll, you are invested in the story and left wanting more.

Beautifully shot, with an intriguing concept, I was impressed within the first sixty seconds, at the understated acting and realism of the piece. Disturbing and realistic, while in surreal territory; it seemed to be over too fast, and for a short film, there is no greater compliment.

I am reliably informed by Roger Sampson (writer and director) that the piece was inspired by a news story about a meteor, and the short is a precursor to a feature film that will expand on the Visitor and what it will mean for the Doctor and her patients.

I for one, cannot wait to see more from the talented team behind Visitor and the stories they have to tell.

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They Live (1988)

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts in the last few months; as we all know life can be the real horror sometimes, and has a nasty habit of getting in the way. Normal service shall now resume.

Euphemisms are a polite way of referring to subjects that aren’t particularly nice or easy to talk about, like death, infidelity, prison, and even genocide; but if the appointment of the new dictator, I mean president of the United States has taught us anything, is that the world as it stands right now, needs some straight talking and honesty.

‘’Alt Right’’ is a term that has been bandied around a lot in the media recently, and let’s face it, when the phrase comes up we know exactly what is meant by it. A racist,  women hating, gay bashing, Muslim fearing individual, or group thereof, that whether they admit it or not, has more in common with Hitler than the Western spin machine would have you admit.

As you can tell, I’m not a fan.

John Carpenter got into some beef with the Nazi fringe groups last month when one of his greatest films was wrongly attributed to be an allegory for the racist ideals of the Anti-Semitic agenda. To have your work hijacked by loathsome bigots, is bad enough, but the fact these individuals completely misinterpreted the real allegory behind the film is the real kicker.

It’s about capitalism. And it’s a film that is simplistic in its symbolism, easy to interpret for those who like to look deeper into the layers of art, and a great cult classic for those who just like good films.

Just as those who interpret religious texts for their own ends, art can be used in the same way. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and unfortunately, so is ugliness.

They Live is a highly underrated film. It’s low budget, cheesy, colourful, fun and very tongue in cheek; but it is scarily relevant to today’s political and sociological climate, as it was when it was first made.

Average Guy finds pair of glasses that reveal to him that aliens are slowly brainwashing the public through subliminal messaging, They are everywhere and it is up to him to reveal the truth that is hiding in plain sight. Kinda poetic huh?

Sound familiar?

Roddy Piper is great as our unlikely hero, and brings a certain spark that I feel without him the film would lack. He’s energetic and fun, and goes a long way to giving the film its quirky charm. I love the homage to those fifties and sixties sci-fi/horror drive in style movies like The Blob and Teenagers from Mars, and the simplistic style has made this a firm favourite for me from the first time I saw it.

This was clearly an attack on the Reagan presidency, but that is MY interpretation … wouldn’t want to impose my values on anyone, right …  It’s funny how things have come full circle, and all the work done to repair the damage done by Ronnie and old Maggie across the pond is being speedily destroyed by Theresa May and the Trump regime under the watchful eye of that ole fear monger Steve Bannon. Except it’s not funny at all. It’s pretty scary.

The enemy isn’t hiding any more, and it’s time to stop sugar coating the ‘’Alt Right’’ for what it really is. It is the face of racism, homophobia, sexism and fear. The media bombards you with fake news to scapegoat the little guys while the money men are stripping the rights of the most vulnerable in society.

You can all pick up the sunglasses and view it as it really is, or you can ‘’Stay Asleep’’.

Posted in 80's horror, Eighties Horror, fiction, film and media, opinion, pop culture, rant, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bite (2015)

 

The Olympics in Rio began this weekend and the international community donned it’s blinkers, ignoring the real issues of the day and focusing on the important things that really, truly matter : Sport.
The murder of a jaguar during the torch lighting ceremonies was surely an omen that the gods were not pleased with the shoving under the carpet style politics on the world stage. The shedding of blood is never a good sign at the beginning of any endeavour, unless it’s a sacrificial rite, of course. Animal rights groups were, understandably outraged by the killing of an Amazonian animal, the use of which in the ceremony was also illegal, as the Olympic organisers failed to ask permission from the environmental body that protects the animals of the Amazon.
Great start, I know right?
Then we have the human rights issues at hand, which are a good reason that countries should be excluded from nice things like international sporting events if they can’t play nice all the time. Police brutality, unlawful killings, torture of detainees, and over crowded prisons on the law enforcement side of things, while gang violence, kidnappings, muggings and murder all a daily occurrence.
A body even washed up on the shore of the volleyball beach not too long ago …
Crimes against those in the LGBT community some of the highest in the world, despite the progressive stance of the government, and one person is murdered every day in Brazil at the hands of a homophobic, or trans phobic attack.
Child prostitution is a big issue and after the rise in forced child prostitution when the world cup was held there, for the more skeezy and disgusting type of sports fan, and things have not suddenly changed overnight in time for the Olympics.
Poverty is a huge problem for a middle income type of country such as this and the favelas (a pretty word for slums) are where just under twenty five per cent of the population lives. The opening ceremony seemed to glamorise the poverty it’s citizens dwell in, which is in poor taste and almost seen to be high fiving the issue rather than offering solutions to a real issue.
With a country deep in recession, a recent presidential impeachment, forced evictions, and the amount of public money spent on something pretty frivolous in the grand scheme of things, understandably tensions are running pretty high.
Between all that, the water pollution issues in some of the venues, a fire in the Australian digs (where they claim to have been robbed during the evacuations), and the concerns about the spread of the Zika Virus via mosquito bites, the Olympics are set to be interesting in a way that has nothing to do with sport.
Bite is about an unlucky bride to be who goes on a hen weekend with her girlfriends and gets a nasty infection that was not from her sleazy one night stand! When she gets home she realises that her insect bite will require a lot more than some antiseptic cream, and makes the Zika Virus look like a walk in the park.
If you aren’t a fan of the body shock genre such as Contracted, or Bad Milo, then this is not a film for you. There is a lot of pus, blood, vomit and general viscous fluids throughout that you need a strong stomach for, but if you can stick it out you’re in for a sticky treat!
Although the script is quite basic and predictable, the cast carry it well, particularly Elma Begovic who plays the lead, who gives a real depth to the role . The FX are truly disgusting and delightfully slimy, and make what could have been a quite forgettable girls gone wild and wrong kind of horror, ends up being pretty decent and quite memorable in parts.
Gooey, gag reflex inducing and gory, Bite is a fun little horror that is a great metaphor for the inner demons we all possess and the pitfalls of allowing others in.

Posted in Body Shock, creature feature, critique, fiction, film and media, horror, insects, murder, opinion, pop culture, rant, supernatural horror, thriller, Uncategorized | Leave a comment