Ginger Nuts of Horror
There are few action stars as iconic or that have enjoyed as much longevity as Keanu Reeves. Although he established himself as a star in the stoner comedy, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, he quickly rose up in a series of brilliant action films such as Point Break, Speed and of course, The Matrix. About two decades after these legendary roles, Reeves is still at the forefront of the genre, partly thanks to the success of the John Wick series, which reminded many people why they loved him in the first place. To celebrate the home release of John Wick: Chapter 2, we thought we’d round up his greatest action roles from over the years.
I recently tried to explain to my girlfriend why I felt that a certain album was “important” to me. I gave it an off-the-cuff shot, floundered, lost my way, and then gave up without satisfaction.
It got me thinking: why exactly did I think of the album Panopticon by the band Isis as an “important” feature of my life? Why not just say, “It’s awesome”, or “It’s ace”, or any one of the other overused complimentary adjectives that I apply to the things that I enjoy? The conclusion I came to was what gave me the idea for writing this article: because, for every one of those 59 minutes of the record’s playing time, Panopticon takes me away from the horror.
This isn’t going to be a journalistic article, where I describe the band’s intentions, the album’s concept or where it hit in the Billboard charts; it’s simply going to be my own personal reflection of what will no doubt be my lifelong love for 7 pieces of devastatingly affecting music.
Curtis M. Lawson's debut collection is a menagerie of supernatural horror and weird fiction that drops imperfect characters into an uncaring universe, inhabited by malevolent deities. In these pages you will find devouring gods of the yawning abyss, Japanese demons who sway mortal souls, and digital hells of man’s own creation.
Follow into the darkness and walk among the gods of the Black Pantheons. There is magic where they live, in the emptiness between the stars.
I read a lot of weird fiction and weird horror. Since I was drawn into reviewing the stuff for Teleread.com and elsewhere, I’ve been reading it not only constantly, but semi-professionally. A while back, I was lucky enough to land a detailed interview about my own new book, and horror in general, from John Linwood Grant on his greydogtales blog, where I came out with some statements, largely inspired by all that reading, which I’d like to qualify and clarify. I also digested some extended comments on the interview on the Facebook group for Thinking Horror, which nudged me towards saying more...
Today's book excerpt is from R.H. Dixon's latest novel Emergence R. H. Dixon is a horror enthusiast who, when not escaping into the fantastical realms of fiction, lives in the northeast of England with her husband and two whippets.
When reading and writing she enjoys exploring the darknesses and weaknesses within the human psyche, and she loves good strong characters that are flawed and put through their paces. Her favourite authors include: Shirley Jackson, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Joe Hill, Susan Hill, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King and George R. R. Martin.
When not reading and writing she enjoys travelling (particularly wildlife-spotting jaunts involving bears, wolves and corvids), painting and drawing pet portraits, collecting skulls and drinking honey-flavoured Jack Daniels.
R. H. Dixon primarily writes horror fiction, but also has a set of three light-hearted paranormal fiction novels published. The Sunray Bay Trilogy is a foray into the whacky world of vampires, werewolves and zombies, each episode coloured by her cheeky sense of humour. (See under ‘Paranormal Books’ tab)
Her debut novel, Amazon UK Best-selling Horror Comedy ‘Slippery Souls’ (Sunray Bay Trilogy, Book #1), was short-listed for the Writing Magazine’s Self-publishing Award 2012.
If you enjoy dark, psychological horror – inclusive of disturbing nightmares and ghosts – don’t miss this haunting story of a father’s downward spiral into despair and questionable madness. 'When his six-year-old daughter Seren starts talking of a ghostly woman who visits her room each night, young widower John Gimmerick isn’t too concerned. After all she already has an imaginary friend. But when his own nightmares begin to merge with reality and when unexplainable things start to happen around the house, he realises that by revisiting the home of his childhood he’s stirred up things he’d tried hard to forget – as well as something that should never have been stirred in the first place. In order to save his little girl from an evil that speaks only of death, reclusive John must now face up to the horrors of his past. And what he discovers runs deeper and is far more terrifying than he could ever have imagined…'
To win one of two copies of this horror anthology film all you have to do is leave a comment in the comments section telling us which horror icon you would love to give a kiss to.
This Competition is open to Residents of the UK ONLY
XX is a new all-female helmed horror anthology featuring four dark tales written and directed by four fiercely talented women:
XX is a new horror anthology featuring four murderous tales of supernatural frights, thrills, profound anxiety, and Gothic decay. Written and directed by four fiercely talented women the film stars female leads and is framed around innovative animator Sofia Carrillo. Vigorously challenging the status quo within the industry, this collection of tightly coiled short films by some of horror’s most influential women offers a refreshing jolt to the senses.
“Wildly entertaining cinema.”
“Rich, interesting, and rife with surprisingly fresh perspectives on the genre.”
“A ghoulish chronicle of the monstrous, the mysterious, and the morbid”
Special features: Director interviews Genre: Horror
Runtime: 78 mins (approx.)
Cat no: SODA369
Good God. Good, sweet Azathoth, Baphomet; whatever demon and/or divinity you hold dear...
To think I'd be sitting here now, about to sing the unambiguous praises of a new Resident Evil title...barely a year ago, I would have proclaimed it an impossibility, the franchise one of the many beloved dead littering the wastelands of video gaming's murdered from within, by their own creators, no less.
Arguably since Resident Evil 4, the series has arguably been in decline; a victim of the constant, corporate desire to cater to the widest possible demographics, thereby alienating established audiences and diluting their own product and reputation. The urge to draw in the “Triple-A,” Call of Duty crowd finally culminated in the chimeric, frictionless abomination that was Resident Evil 6, what many believed (and even more hoped) would be the final nail in this zombie's coffin.
Then, sometime mid last year, the first trailers hit. Not only the first trailers, but a playable demo.
To say that we perked up and cocked our heads like wolves scenting blood is an understatement. Stylistically, what the trailers and demos betrayed were a far, far cry from anything that had gone before. In terms of atmosphere, this was not the hokey, B-movie japery we'd come to expect from the franchise. In their place, a dingy, depressive, foetid atmosphere; a sense of decay and genuine threat more suited to the franchise's contemporary and long-time counterpart, Silent Hill. A first person gaming perspective, imagery more redolent of films like 7 or Jacob's Ladder than Night of the Living Dead.
A genuine spark of excitement, of hope.
Then, the revelation that the game would be one of the first to utilise the new VR technology; a peripheral tailor made for horror. Hope becoming fervent, almost desperate; a new Resident Evil, the benchmark for a new and burgeoning state of video game immersion; perhaps, perhaps the title that would lift mainstream video gaming horror from its doldrums and set it high once more.
Then, at last, release, first exposure.
In 2010 the BFI published their Most Wanted list, a tantalising countdown of 75 British films classified as ‘missing, believed lost’. Of all these forgotten gems (which ranged from silent Hitchcock to '60s pop), nothing excited horror fans more than the inclusion of José Ramón Larraz’s 1974 little-seen cult classic, Symptoms. Selected for the 1974 Cannes Film Festival before promptly falling into cinematic obscurity, this claustrophobic Repulsion-esque chiller, which tells the uncanny tale of a young woman’s descent into madness at a remote English country mansion, was long confined to the blurry terrains of VHS bootlegs and online rips. Now lovingly restored and looking better than ever, Larraz’s infamous curio is available for all to enjoy on BFI player. And so, to celebrate the long-awaited arrival of a neglected genre classic, here are 5 more horror gems waiting to be discovered on BFI’s online platform. Let the nightmares begin...
The Night Has Eyes (dir Leslie Arliss, 1942)
One of only a handful of British horror films produced during WWII, this delicious slice of gothic melodrama (think Jane Eyre meets The Old Dark House) stars James Mason as Stephen, a reclusive composer living in an isolated mansion on the perennially misty Yorkshire Moors. When two lost women stumble on his property, Stephen offers shelter and a place to stay. But as romance blossoms between the taciturn recluse and one of his new guests, so too does the macabre truth of Stephen’s dark past. Also released under the more salacious titles Terror House and Moonlight Madness, this atmospheric chiller was given the BBFC’s dreaded H-for-Horror rating when it was released in 1942, possibly thanks to its surprisingly nasty conclusion. As ever, Mason makes for a broodingly effective leading man, while special mention should also go to Tucker McGuire for her scene-stealing role as man-hungry schoolteacher Doris. But the real stars are the Moors themselves – evocatively captured by Gunther Krampf (famed cinematographer whose work included Pandora’s Box and The Hands of Orlac) – which reek of dread and dark foreboding.
Fiend Without a Face (dir Arthur Crabtree, 1958)
Something of a cause célèbre when it was first unleashed in 1958, Arthur Crabtree’s low-budget monster mash was deemed so outrageous, and so morally reprehensible, that it actually sparked debate in Parliament, where questions were raised as to how a work of such supposed depravity had passed through the censors in all its gory glory. Years later, and of course the shock value has diminished. But while the film may not still possess the power to appal with quite the same ferocity, it remains one of the most wonderfully twisted little sci-fi shockers of the period. The plot (typical of the atomic obsessed sci-fi pics of the time) concerns an army of nuclear-powered flying brains (complete with spinal cords) who attack a US military base. Naysayers might dismiss this off-kilter British production as little more than a mindless (!) special-effects showcase – but when the climactic scenes are so unhinged and the stop-motion effects so glorious – who cares? If it all sounds frankly preposterous, that’s because it is. And wonderfully so.
The Night of the Hunted (dir Jean Rollin, 1980)
Of the 50-odd films directed by Euro-sleaze connoisseur Jean Rollin over the course of his illustrious career, The Night Of The Hunted might stand as his most idiosyncratic, and, in many ways, most beautiful effort. A far cry from the saucy vampire pics he is perhaps best known for, this anomalous head-scratcher blends erotic horror with austere science-fiction (not unlike the early works of David Cronenberg) to tell the story of a young amnesiac woman being held in a strange asylum seemingly against her will. As perversities and murders begin to mount around her, she must make sense of why she is there and how she can escape. As with most of Rollin’s films, the end result is by no means perfect - the leisurely pacing can be testing at times (the lengthy sex scenes in particular feeling unnecessarily drawn out) - but for those of a more patient disposition and an keen eye for the perverse, this clinical shocker is quite unlike anything else, replete with scenes of abject terror which will not be quickly forgotten.
Heartless (dir Philip Ridley, 2009)
The long-awaited third feature from Philip Ridley (following his extraordinary sun-drenched slice of American gothic The Reflecting Skin, and the lesser-known, but equally fascinating backwoods allegory The Passion Of Darkly Noon) saw the London-born filmmaker return to his home turf with a Faustian morality tale set in the East End. Jim Strurgess plays Jamie, a socially awkward teenage outcast born with a large heart-shaped birthmark on his face, who discovers a gang of demons are plaguing the streets of his hometown. As one would expect from one of horror cinema’s true visual poets, Heartless is a feast for the eyes, steeped in fertile symbolism and menacing atmospherics. But perhaps most memorably, it is a richly empathetic piece of work, which succeeds as much as an unconventional character study as it does an unnerving and eccentric horror film.
The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (dir Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani, 2013)
An audacious exercise pure, unadulterated style, this modern day giallo from the gloriously twisted minds of directing duo Hélène Cattet & Bruno Forzani (Amer) is one of the most visually imaginative horror films of recent years. Following the unexplained disappearance of his wife, a man is thrown into a web of mystery and intrigue as he attempts to uncover her whereabouts. Traversing the labyrinthine halls of his ornamental apartment building, he encounters its various inhabitants, whose tales of sensuality and sadism play out before him. In this dreamlike (or should that be nightmarish?) world, traditional narrative gives way to a more sensory, instinctive approach to storytelling, resulting in an experience which can be as perplexing as it is hypnotic. For those with a taste for something different, this truly singular work delivers devious surprises with every blood-splattered frame. Watch it loud. On the biggest screen you can.
Symptoms is available on BFI Player, here
1997 was twenty years ago, apparently. Which means so was the dawn of a new show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It wasn’t a new idea, exactly. The concept had already been used to make a not-so-brilliant movie, but creator Joss Whedon was quick to point out that the failings of the first adaptation of his idea were down to studio interference rather than his own work. Which, anyone who knows anything about Hollywood will surely agree, is entirely believable. So Joss had another crack at it, this time in the form of a television show. The result became a pop-culture phenomenon, playing a huge part in the lives of many people’s adolescence, myself included.
There’s still a lot of supernatural drama shows on television today, but I don’t think any of them drive their way to the heart in quite the same way that Buffy did. Yes, that’s a staking joke. Live with it. Buffy managed to make you care about the characters aswell as the situations. To make a relationship breakup seem as tense as the possibility of the world ending is no mean feat, yet Buffy managed it time and again. The writing was tight, the cast was perfect, and even the special effects hold up. I personally feel that the latter is due to the reliance on practical effects, which always date much more slowly than their CGI cousins do. That’s why horror films like The Thing and Evil Dead still look alright, whereas more recent CGI-Heavy films from the nineties look dreadful. Buffy managed to try a lot of things like this and get most of them right.
With this being the twenty year anniversary, you’re sure to see a lot of articles like this, each trying to tell you something you don’t know and reveal that your favourite cast members actually hated each other. So I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to list my five favourite episodes and the reasons for each one, and then you can all argue about it in the comments section until the next apocalypse comes along. The following list isn’t in any particular order, it’s just the five that I’ve always thought of as being my favourites. Also, I’m not going to explain the mythology of the show or who the characters all are, I’m basically assuming prior knowledge for anyone who’d bother to read this far. Also, incase it’s necessary to point out, there will be spoilers (if you can still call them that when the show came out two decades ago.)
The Small / Indie Press is a tough place to be for not just the writers but also the publishers. Profit margins are tight, in fact, many of these presses operate at a loss and both the press and the writers who work with them struggle to get noticed, unless the spotlight of drama is focused on the small press.
With that in mind Ginger Nuts of Horror's semi-regular column on the small presses, we should all care about returns with a look at Crowded Quarantine Publications, run by the instantly recognisable and damn fine author in his own right Adam Millard.
Founded in 2011 by horror author, Adam Millard, and his wife, Zoe. Their goal was to release only the best in horror and speculative fiction, and work closely with their authors to bring their visions to fruition. In the short time since the company was formed, they have released close to thirty titles, with an ever increasing roster of great writers and books.
In the short time since they opened their doors, they have published such fine authors as Rich Hawkins, Chris Kelso, Craig Saunders, Jen Haeger, Aaron J. French, Kevin Walsh and Luke Walker.
Since their inception, they have always been a press that both their writers and contemporaries in the genre have always spoken highly of. Their professional attitude to both their authors and their readers has seen them gain a reputation that is hard to beat.
Last year saw the release of Unger House Radicals by Chris Kelso, a twisted, fractured horror novel that found its way onto many best of the year lists, and won The Ginger Nut of Horror's novel of the year award.
Read on to find out what are our favourite books from CQP publications and which of their books we are most looking forward to reading this year.