WH Smiths are refusing to stock SCREAM magazine, based solely on the content of the title’s cover. This is rank hypocrisy from the company, considering the more sexually explicit titles they currently stock within easy reach. I’m no prude, but their decision does not make sense and is not based upon any understanding of readership demographic or financial return. Therefore, please email WH Smiths to stock SCREAM magazine (you can use my email as a template if you want!) and let’s get them to reconsider:
I am given to understand that you have been approached to stock a newly-produced UK magazine with content relating to horror cinema named SCREAM MAGAZINE. I am also given to understand that you have recently declined to stock such a title as you do not feel the covers are appropriate to place on your shelves. May I point out to you that to make such a request to the developers and publishers is a contradiction, given that you already stock various titles which continue to display risque images on their front cover, including T3 (an excellent magazine aimed at fans of gadgets and technology but with what I regard as unnecessary sexual imagery on it’s cover every month) along with various ‘lads mags’ (GQ, Nuts, Loaded to name three), as well as open displays of such red-top “rags” such as ‘The Daily Sport’.
To reject an application to stock SCREAM magazine based upon what you perceive as an offensive or lurid cover is nothing short of hypocrisy. May I ask, is this the reason why many of your stores do not also stock FANGORIA magazine?
May I therefore request that you reconsider your decision not to stock SCREAM magazine forthwith based upon your misconceptions of what is offensive, taking into consideration those more lurid titles you already stock, and base your objections solely on readership and sales. SCREAM magazine is a newly-developed UK title and deserves the opportunity to be stocked across the UK by your chain for both maximum exposure and financial return for both parties.
I await your response.
After some painstaking consideration (well, about half an hour and some Cradle Of Filth on iTunes), I’ve decided upon this year’s titles for the Halloween movie weekender (although seeing as I’m working on the Saturday, it’s not a full two days. What a load of old chuff….). I decided on making Saturday night a mash-up of the (original) Romero ‘Dead’ trilogy, a gory and infamous ‘Video Nasty’, alongside the honorific classic. As for Sunday, we begin with some creepy oldies to gently break the day in, before finishing full-on with two truly terrifying and legendary efforts.
The GEORGE A. ROMERO triple-header:
Night Of The Living Dead (1968)
Dawn Of The Dead [139min Extended Cut] (1978)
Day Of The Dead (1985)
The Evil Dead (Sam Raimi, 1981)
Halloween (John Carpenter, 1978)
Frankenstein (James Whale, 1931)
Dracula Prince Of Darkness (Terence Fisher, 1966)
Dead Of Night (Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer, 1945)
In The Mouth Of Madness (John Carpenter, 1995)
A Nightmare On Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984)
Peeping Tom (Michael Powell, 1960)
Let The Right One In (Tomas Alfredson, 2008)
Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977)
The Wicker Man (Robin Hardy, 1973)
I had also considered both Guillermo Del Torro’s marvellous ‘The Devil’s Backbone‘ and Tobe Hopper’s genre-defining ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre‘. Depending on how Sunday finds itself with running times, they may still get a look-in.
I’ve discovered to my cost in the past that when you try to voice your choices for an ‘all-time’ genre movie list, you inevitably get flamed or, worse still, laughed at; so I’m not intending to deliver an overall critique of this list. Instead I thought I’d just highlight those titles that may have been misplaced, should not even have graced it at all; and those which (for reasons best known to the unnamed author) were shockingly absent. For the most part it’s a simple case of a reshuffle, yet there are a couple of unwelcome shockers in there too (I do, however, cheat once in my list!)
This is what they published on Friday:
2. Rosemary’s Baby
3. Don’t Look Now
4. The Wicker Man
5. The Shining
6. The Exorcist
8. Let The Right One In
10. Peeping Tom
11. The Innocents
13. The Haunting
14. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
15. Dead Of Night
16. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
18. Bride Of Frankenstein
19. Les Diaboliques
20. Dracula (1958)
22. The Blair Witch Project
23. The Evil Dead/Evil Dead II
25. Les Vampires
How about I now reshuffle it?
1. The Wicker Man
2. The Exorcist
5. Night Of The Living Dead
6. The Shining
7. Peeping Tom
8. Funny Games
9. The Evil Dead/Evil Dead II
10. Let The Right One In
11. A Nightmare On Elm Street
12. The Innocents
14. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
15. Dead Of Night
16. Dracula (1958)
18. Bride Of Frankenstein
19. The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari
20. Les Diaboliques
21. Audition (just recite “kiri-kiri-kiri” to any bloke who’s seen it….)
23. The Haunting
25. Les Vampires
(ok, the cheat: I took out ‘Vampyr‘ as, for my sins, I’ve never had the opportunity to watch it. *hangs head in shame*)
Can you spot the flaws? Let’s look at them first, notably #22: ‘The Blair Witch Project‘
It’s pure shite. I can’t be more polite about it frankly. As a prime example of how the web was utilised as a mass-marketing tool to promote a film of such a low budget, no major studio backing and no recognisable cast, it’s perfect. As a horror movie it’s terribly derivative. Drawing from the dry well of William Castle and Val Lewton, it’s a hopeless mess, running from one twig-snap scare to another, culminating in the over-use of lack of light and a creepy, desolate old house to force it’s conclusion, one left open-ended for a sequel (which it duly got in the even-more abysmal ‘Book Of Shadows’).
With ‘Rosemary’s Baby‘, it’s another case of Roman Polanski throughly over-egging the pudding. I’d give benefit of the doubt as I’ve never read the book, but it’s just dreadful. I’ve been led to understand the idea of seemingly-normal people who turn out to be devil-worshipers is supposed to frighten me in this picture (frankly this was all done so much better five years later in ‘The Wicker Man’, which is placed at #4). Whilst it’s certainly true that Polanski is one of THE most over-rated filmmakers still working, the story is formulaic and the casting laughable, especially Mia Farrow at her most winsome.
‘Don’t Look Now‘ is a prime example of Nicolas Roeg’s output. Boring…boring….boring. Blah-blah-blah. Oh, how I wish I could be more constructive than this but I just can’t muster sufficient enough energy to do so as I type away, attempting to expel just how much I detest his work and ‘Don’t Look Now’ especially so. What makes it’s favour with many that much more galling is that I’m one of the few who can see through the facade of it’s desperate use of a late-addition (and somewhat controversial and incredibly unnecessary) sex scene, dropped in last-minute by Roeg under the pretence that it would detract from persistent bickering of Sutherland and Christie’s couple, when in fact it was obviously a desperate attempt to try and drag people into screenings back in ’73. Regrettably, it worked, and it’s the only reason people still harp on about this load of old cobblers ever since. “Were they really shagging?” Who gives a f…
Removing these entries, this leaves four places to fill.
‘A Nightmare On Elm Street‘ is an easy one to chose. The best film Wes Craven has ever made and with it he delivered to an unsuspecting filmgoer a truly terrifying and gruesome monster in the legendary Freddy Krueger. Along with Michael Myers and Jason Vorhess, Krueger has become an iconic character in modern horror, and whilst the gradual depreciation of the characterisation through successive, and less inspiring, sequels, greatly harmed his true evil and brutality (Mark Kermode once comparing his later incarnations with comedian Henny Youngman, delivering one-liners rapid-fire), Craven delivered a monster for a new age. The notion of mixing reality with dreams was brought to the screen in the most unsettling and terrifying manner for it’s time and this is why I’ve chosen to add it to the list.
If ‘Psycho’ can be in the list, then there is simply no concrete argument for not having Michael Haneke’s ‘Funny Games‘ in there either. Where Argento is the grand master of Giallo, Haneke is the crown prince of fear and violence that emanates from everyday life. Considering it was never intended as a horror movie, instead as a treatise on violence in the media, it enacts upon a very common fear of home invasion (the one place we can all attest to feeling truly safe), it’s violence is brutal, shocking and relentless. The use of the fourth wall keeps you transfixed when your humanity demands you to turn away, yet gradually you feel as if you a complicit in it’s acts of torture and sadism.
‘Scanners‘ is Cronenberg at the top of his game. A filmmaker who from the start has never shied away from mixing science and medicine with extreme horror, ‘Scanners’ would be the result of previous blueprints, developed from such titles as ‘Rabid’, ‘Shivers’ and ‘The Brood’. With it’s now infamous ‘exploding head’ scene and with a quite extraordinary and maniacal performance from Michael Ironside, this tale of drug-induced psychics as a new line of weapon mixes not only developed ideas drawn from science fiction, but with it’s mix of body horror, deserves it’s place in my revised list.
In adding ‘Night Of The Living Dead‘ there is little else to say. It deserves to be in the list and it’s omission is both glaring and a blatant disregard for both the zombie horror and it’s true master, George A. Romero. Whilst his most recent output has indeed lost it’s way, it’s in NOTLD, ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ and ‘Day Of The Dead’ that Romero stamped his authority on tales of the undead and global desolation. Utilising themes prevalent for the time in which the film was produced, he keyed into the strong emotions and sensitivities, none more so with NOTLD, taking the bold move to cast Dwayne Jones as it’s protagonist, Ben (who’s end still causes consternation and debate). Where ‘Blair Witch’ failed in making the most of it’s budget, NOTLD had, adjusting for inflation (as they say), had far less cash and yet delivered so much more, and a movie that helped not to only to define a genre, but to create one all of it’s own.
So there you have it. A revised top 25 Horror movie list. Is it better? Is it worse? Naturally, I would suggest it’s far superior to that which was published on Friday. Still, there’s always room for improvement, is there not…
I think it fitting that before I get into my take on the first part of Mark Gatiss’s BBC4 documentary and, having just watched Richard make us all very proud of him on the Beeb, that I should pay my somewhat belated respects to a stalwart of the British film industry and a horror master, Roy Ward Baker.
Whilst it’s true that, during an illustrious career as both a film and TV director, he will be remembered for the most brilliant ‘A Night To Remember’ (and the finest example of the telling of the Titanic disaster yet committed to film), it’s his pedigree of work with both HAMMER and Amicus that I and countless others will remember him. While never being the biggest fan of ‘Scars of Dracula’ (mostly because of Dennis Waterman), RWB helmed two of my most treasured movies: Amicus’s ‘Vault Of Horror’ and HAMMER’s ‘Quatermass And The Pit’.
‘Vault Of Horror’, based upon stories from the EC Comics, was my first experience of portmanteau horror, only seeing such gems as ‘Dr Terror’s House Of Horror’, ‘Dead Of Night’, ‘Tales From The Crypt’, Asylum (another of RWB’s efforts) etc afterward, and it remains a stalwart of my horror collection. From the Massey siblings tale of family betrayal and murder followed by a Vampirically bloodthirsty revenge in ‘Midnight Mess‘ (the sight of Daniel Massey trussed upside down with a beer tap plunged into his neck, fresh bloody nectar on tap appealed to my twisted sense of movie bloodlust!). The OCD-crazed Terry-Thomas in ‘The Neat Job‘ driving his young wife (Glynis Johns) to madness and murder with a well-planted hammer to the cranium!. A tale of theft, murder and Indian mysticism are mixed together wonderfully in the Curt Jurgens segment ‘This Trick’ll Kill You’, whilst Michael Craig come a breathless cropper over a double-cross in ‘Bargain In Death‘, the film saves the best for last with Tom Baker as an artist bent on Voodoo revenge in ‘Drawn And Quartered‘, the sight of John Witty screaming having fallen foul of a paper guillotine is truly a classic moment of gore.
Nigel Kneale himself spoke very highly of Hammer’s rendering of ‘Quatermass And The Pit,’, and of RWB more so. In this sublime and truly wonderful film version of the classic 1959 BBC production, Andrew Kier (who for me will always be the definitive Bernard Quatermass) attempts to discover the true origins of what appears to be a WW2 German V-Weapon discovered during Underground works on Hobb’s Lane station (John Carpenter would tip an honourable hat in his excellent ‘In The Mouth Of Madness’ with Hobb’s End the setting for the Lovecraftian machinations of the movie), which transpires to be a Martian spaceship buried beneath the Earth millions of years before; the film is a wondrous mix of typical Hammer fright and tension interlaced with some of the most entertaining and thrilling Science Fiction writing from one of UK’s most skilled and sadly-missed writers.
Whilst he would also contribute the the Hammer roster with ‘The Vampire Lovers’ (which woulds form part of ‘The Karnstein Trilogy’), and ‘Scars Of Dracula, both of which found favour, I will always treasure ‘A Night To Remember’, alongside ‘Vault Of Horror’ and ‘Quatermass And The Pit’ and the finest examples of a film maker at the peak of his abilities.
Moving onto more pleasant news of late, last Monday evening saw BBC4 deliver part one of ‘A History Of Horror’: Frankenstein Goes To Hollywood’. What a sumptuous, passionate and thoughtful love-letter to a genre it was too. Gatiss begins the series by divulging to us why and what it is about horror that he finds so thrilling and exciting, and recounts how he used to stay up to watch horror double-bills during his youth in the 70’s. Funny that…..
In the first part, he goes to great and knowledgable lengths to discuss the work of those early greats of the genre: Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi and Boris Karloff. I could not help but find myself in a fit of dual-awe when Gatiss witnessed the unveiling of Chaney’s make-up box. It was entranced not only by this treasure-trove but also with his look of utter amazement as if he were that young boy again, falling head-first in the magic and the thrill of horror movies for the first time. I don’t doubt that many true fans of the genre felt exactly the same way watching that singular moment of amazement.
Recounting the undeserved sadness of Bela Lugosi and the deserved success of Boris Karloff, he rounded off by giving prominence to that rarest of movie moments: a sequel that outshines the original. In this case, James Whale’s ‘The Bride Of Frankenstein’. With a nod to the efforts of Warner Bros’ and RKO, he envelop’s the early developmental stage of the genre’s Hollywood beginnings with a impassioned retrospective of ‘Son Of Frankenstein’. This coming Monday (18th) it’s ‘Horror In The Home Counties’: HAMMER!
For their part, BBC4 is doing it’s part by screening some classics along the way. Following from the first part of ‘A History Of Horror’ they lined up ‘Bride Of Frankenstein’, ‘The Cat People’ and ‘I Walked With A Zombie’. This week it’s a HAMMER/TIGON mix with Brian Donlevy’s portayal of Bernard Quatermass in ‘The Quatermass Xperiment’, ‘Brides Of Dracula’ and the Vincent Price fear-fest ‘Witchfinder General’.
Phew, still reading? Well done…..
Finally, a quite humongous round of applause and hugs all round to Richard on his ‘Point Of View’ piece! (see it HERE) Well done sir! Liked Jeremy Vine’s “the Beeb is somewhat squeamish when it comes to horror films” line! (ok, slight paraphrasing there!). The current petition count’s at 1186 so great work so far but some way off 2000! Still, let’s be positive, with what’s being going on recently, there’s light at the end of the tunnel!
Oh, and don’t forget Mark Gatiss and Rory Kineer in an new adaptation of H.G. Well’s ‘The First Men In The Moon’ on BBC4 Tuesday evening! Two fine great actors and a marvellous tale to be told. Do tune in.
Good luck tomorrow Richard!
So, Richard Gladman AKA ‘cyberschizoid’ AKA the evil genius behind the Classic Horror Campaign is going to be interviewed by BBC Points Of View tomorrow (12/10) about his campaign! They also want to see the petition!
It is at this point that I, on behalf of all of us who have signed the petition and have followed Richard since the early days, wish to run about whilst flailing my arms like Kermit the Frog in celebration!!!!! Alas, you shall have to concede to a picture of everybody’s little green friend:
Well done Sir!
Having sent an email to the BBC about the Classic Horror Campaign, on Wednesday I got an email (which turned into an eventual phone call) from a guy named Will at BBC Vision, Birmingham. Now, the long and the short of the conversation I had was that there may be ideas being floated around the Beeb about putting together “something” with Mark Gatiss relating to classic Horror (no doubt in conjunction with the upcoming 3-part documentary on BBC4 over October) and it’s fans, and would I be free over the next few weeks to take part!
At this point I started to get the impression that this guy was under the notion that I am responsible for the whole campaign, to which I categorically set the record straight (I am in no way responsible for it’s inception, running or hopefully, eventual success). Having enlightened Will as to the man who developed the campaign (not sure I can actually name him on here, so let’s go with his moniker ‘cyberschizoid‘), I suggested that they talk. So, having contacted ‘cyberschizoid’ later that day and brought him up to speed, suggesting that he speak to Will and passed on his phone number, that’s where things currently lie.
“Something” with Mark Gatiss? Hmmm? Watch. This. Space.
I guess there’s very little else to say, having read the plethora of passionate and heartfelt obits circulating this evening. Another one of my icons has gone. So, having trawled the expanse of opinions on the man and his career, I’m leaving it to the irrepressible Harry Knowles to enthusiastically detail just how and why Tony Curtis was the legendary movie star he was and will always be. I simply can’t muster words better than his tonight:
“Harry here – and Dr Death can just go straight to the corner for a long sit out, because it seems we’re losing someone every day and in multiples. It seemed to start with the great Gloria Stewart, Claude Rains’ babe in INVISIBLE MAN – but just now as I was getting set for bed, I got the news flash… TONY CURTIS DIES.
How cool was Tony Curtis? He married JANET LEIGH for one, and their kid is the mega-awesome Jamie Leigh Curtis. And that’s amongst the coolest couples and kid in the history of cool couples with cool kids. Now I know we all love these three… but there’s a reason that Tony Curtis was the coolest of their family unit… It’s because… He’s Tony Curtis.
About 6 years ago, Tony Curtis called me. I can’t remember what the initial purpose was, but we wound up chatting for about an hour straight about the world of Hollywood that he came from, and he was so kind being complete game to tell some kid in Texas that shouldn’t ever register on his radar, a bunch of stories that made me wish I was Tony Curtis – moreso than all the obvious reasons.
Let’s admit it guys, the girls were always right about Tony Curtis. And he looked a helluvalot better than Lemmon in a dress. Right? Remember his gigolo in the Film Noir classic, CRISS CROSS? Or his fantastic turn as that boxer in FLESH AND FURY? I assume more of us have enjoyed his fantastically hokey biopic HOUDINI – a film that magically created Jamie Leigh Curtis. He met Janet Leigh then. HOUDINI has always been a mild obsession of mine. For one, I watched this film on WGN in about 1977 – and discovered that ERIC from THE VIKINGS was playing a guy named HARRY – who was the greatest magician of all time – and at that point in my life I had a 8 weekend gig as a Magician’s Apprentice at a Rennaisance Faire – so I wanted to know all about this Harry Houdini fella… my perceived competition. So I have collected a bit of Houdini ephemera – not much, it is an expensive mild obsession. But I love Tony Curtis’ HOUDINI. I loved the way he dressed. I loved his beautiful assistant – and I was absolutely shocked by the death.
Quickly after that, my father showed me TRAPEZE thanks to a friend of his that had a 16mm print. A film that introduced me to Gina Lollabrigida – and Tony was the smooth devil that could bag a Gina Lollabrigida and even at an early stage in my life, I realized just how cool that is. I mean. Really. The athleticism of the role was amazing, I always had a feeling that actors were simply magic. Because just look at everything they seem to be able to do.
I mentioned earlier, that when I saw HOUDINI, I thought of Tony Curtis as ERIC from THE VIKINGS. Well – two years prior my parents had a friend of mine screen THE VIKINGS for us. For one, he had a 16mm Scope print. And watching that film on your backyard porch with a starlit sky above… God, I watched THE VIKINGS constantly throughout my life. When ever I am in a boat and it begins to set sail – I think of THE VIKINGS and my interior soundtrack booms that soaring score. But I’ll never forget Tony Curtis’ viking slave Eric, I’ll never ever forget him putting his hawk onto Kirk Douglas’ face to rip the side of his face and eye out. I also love how he goes from slave to hero – wish Lucas had paid a bit more attention to THE VIKINGS and Tony’s performance. It was classic. Of course everything was classic about that film. And really that’s a defining bit of terminology when talking about Tony Curtis. He was classic. In fact he was classic cool. Oh, and smooth.
Perhaps my favorite performance of Tony Curtis’ since I’ve been a grown up was discovering the brilliant SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS. Tony’s SIDNEY FALCO is one of the best most awesome Press Agent performances I’ve ever seen. And I have seen alot of Press Agents in the last 14 years – and I’ve yet to find a SIDNEY FALCO – thank god. Just a grade A cool sleazy asshole. Tony made it awesome though. There was something purely magical about it all.
But then there’s his Joe/Joesephine performance in SOME LIKE IT HOT! Just. Fuck – who could do that now? And be that cool? That, just flat out cool. Then Tony was so cool that he was in two of the best movies ever made in back to back years. He did SOME LIKE IT HOT in 1959 for Billy Wilder, then turns right around and plays the amazing Antoninus in SPARTACUS for bleeding KUBRICK! And it’s SPARTACUS! A film that has literally become better and better throughout my life. Not just in my own estimation, but thanks to a successful restoration story – the film is actually BETTER THAN IT HAS EVER BEEN! Just for the record, SPARTACUS is just amongst the very bests.
Then you see that same guy years and years later being a sexaholic Pilot in the awesome that is BOEING BOEING. Had to have been one of the most fun movies ever made. All us AICN staffers saw that at one of Quentin Tarantino’s QT Fests – and again – he’s just classic cool. And that is in a fashion that I just don’t quite see around today. There’s just a pure sweetness, devil, angel, tough, romantic about Tony Curtis.
Of course – thanks to my DVD column – I got introduced to Tony Curtis’ brilliant role as THE BOSTON STRANGLER directed by Richard Fleischer and co-starring Henry Fonda and the awesome of George Kennedy. This is a whole other side of Tony. He’s just amazing.
Tony Curtis was rumored to have a part in a film currently shooting called MORELLA.
We don’t have a Tony Curtis anymore and we’ll never see his specific classy cool again. He will always be one of my favorite movie stars.”
What a sad and yet wonderful story of good people doing great things for one another. Amongst daily stories of war, murder, abuse and animal cruelty, events which degrade our existence on this earth; sometimes the goodness and decency of people can shine through. This is just such time.
‘Prepare for a roller coaster of emotion. Sad: A nine-year-old boy from Kingston, Ontario, Blake McGinness, planned to hold a yard sale to sell off his toys to raise funds in order to buy his dead father buried in an unmarked grave a headstone that his family couldn’t afford. Relieving: Local Kingston residents and the internet stepped in and took care of the issue. Heartwarming: Blake McGinness went through with the yard sale anyway and plans to donate the revenue to charity.
Blake’s father, Rick Lees, died of an unexpected stomach aneurysm in March 2009 and when the estates were settled, the family didn’t have enough money to cover the headstone, having to bury Lees in an unmarked grave. Blake regularly visits his dad’s plot, leaving his own toys and mementos at the grave.
The story first made rounds on Toronto talk radio station CFRB on Monday morning, reaching clothier Tom Mihalic and he generously offered to pay for the headstone even though he never met the family. The president of a Toronto-based monument company, Michael Levitt, called the radio station and got into contact with Mihalic and Blake’s mother, Linda, offering to build the monument.
As the story bounced around Canadian media outlets and the internet, nine companies offered to supply the headstone free of charge. As the story made its rounds, people were offering so many donations that Linda actually went to a bank and set up an education trust for her son that he can’t touch until he’s 18. Wife of Tom Cochrane, frontman for the Canadian rock bandRed Rider, as well as various sports stars who wished to remain anonymous, got in touch with the family wanting to donate memorabilia for Blake’s yard sale.
Stuffed animal collectors saw the picture of Blake holding the doll from Ice Age and offered to pay much more than the doll was worth in order to boost Blake’s yard sale funds. Even more endearing, Linda’s cellphone wouldn’t stop ringing with people calling to offer help and pledge donations, as the family doesn’t have a computer because, in display of struggling single parenthood, “Buying food and clothes comes before a computer.”
The internet being notorious for grief and trolling, it’s really great to see its denizens mobilize for a good cause.’