Ben Smith is a poet and “a lecturer in creative writing at Plymouth University, specialising in environmental literature and focusing particularly on oceans, climate change and the ‘Anthropocene’.” The idea … Continue reading Reviewed: Doggerland
This is a book with a TOC to be proud of: Elizabeth Gaskell: The Old Nurse’s Story Fitz-James O’Brien: What Was It? Edward Bulwer Lytton: The Haunted and the Haunters: … Continue reading Reviewed: The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories (ed. Michael Newton)
Thursday night I took a break from writing fiction and was lucky enough to see west country rockers, Reef, and black country bruisers, Broken Witt Rebels, at the Cheese and Grain in Frome. If you’d like to know what I thought then you can read my review on the impressive Rock ‘n’ Load magazine here. If not, visit the page simply for the energy captured by the great photography, courtesy of my pal, Pacific Curd.
The first Australian movie I recall watching was Mad Max (1979). I thought it was bleak and I thought it was bloody good. Since then, I have been a fan of Aussie cinema.
The most recent example that has come to my attention is The Babadook (2014).
Now, this might be a little late for a review (so I won’t call it that), I mean I’ve only just watched the film on DVD and it was released four months ago. This of course is mainly due to the fact that as a parent of two nippers, I don’t get out much and when I go to the cinema, it’s on a Saturday morning. But I was drawn to this particular movie for three reasons.
First, it was written and directed by a woman, Jennifer Kent which I was made aware of after an article in Litreactor which was focusing on Women in Horror, and promised to be a movie that “eschew[ed] the modern propensity for violence and gore and hearken[s] back to the minimalist atmosphere and suspense that characterized the genre in decades past”. Read Den Of Geek‘s interview with Jennifer Kent entitled ‘directing The Babadook‘.
Secondly, it was a horror movie. I am desperate to be scared by horror movies. I grew up in the Eighties, a decade that seemed quite prolific in cinematic horror, and made me nearly abandon horror films because I was unable to face another The Fredason Poltergeist Horror part 18. For me these sequels did for horror films, what Now That’s What I Call Music did for music. The only horror film that’s had any physical affect was the 1979 TV movie, Salem’s Lot, which was directed by Toby Hooper and based on Stephen King’s book of the same name. The scene where the dead boy, Danny, is hovering outside his friend’s window caused a chill to ripple through my body and is still vivid in my memory after thirty-five years.
Third, it was Australian.
Did it scare me? No. Was it bleak, like some of the best Australian movies? Yes. And dark. No surprise there though: everything is dark nowadays, even adverts for young men’s deodorants (those products that I’m sure have been specially formulated to be sprayed on clothes and not bodies – or so young men believe). The film industry’s obsession with darkness has me miffed – Star Trek Into Darkness? What’s all that about? – surprising you may think, after all I am among other things, a horror writer, and love all things macabre. This anomaly has arisen since I have become a father, and could make for an interesting blog entry. The Dark obsession would be a meaty social commentary post, so I’ll quit before the rant has begun and simply ask for people to leave the dark fairies in the shadows and let Sleeping Beauty have the celluloid glare.
So, The Babadook. It’s a simple story and all the more powerful for that. Amelia (played by Essie Davies) is a single mother left to raise her young son Samuel (played by Noah Wiseman) after her husband dies. Samuel has always had monsters under the bed or in the closet but after mother and son read ‘The Babadook’ one bedtime, Samuel’s belief in one particular boogeyman becomes an obsession.
Be warned that in some reviews, this is the part where you would normally encounter the dreaded spoiler and more than one of them, no doubt. Nash doesn’t like spoilers. Watch the film (then, if you’re a parent go hide it on top of the wardrobe in the shoebox containing the all that stuff you bought from the Lovehoney shop), and let me know what you thought.
As the credits rolled, I knew that Samuel is the true monster-hunter for today’s world. I found the film to be thoughtful, intelligent, and feisty because it slapped me across the face and shouted, “Monsters are real; Deal with them.”
Roll up, roll up, for the greatest show on Earth and below: Dok Haze’s Circus of Horrors is in town. Frome Town to be exact.
I was pleased to see a good cross-section of Frome’s wonderful people waiting in the theatre foyer from Vans and Dolce&Gabbana trainers, a classic monster movies print dress (so cool!) to knitted flowerpot hats and M&S casual daywear.
As people took their seats, Nosferatu crept up and down the aisles silently choosing vibrant victims for his pleasure.
The show burst into life with screaming riffs and heavy drums. Immediately, I thought I was at Alice Cooper’s Welcome To My Nightmare show (in Detroit, no less). In fact, I read in the Tour Brochure, which I had purchased from a very healthy-looking Zombie girl, that Mr Cooper made a special appearance at one of the COH’s shows – kudos, Mr Haze.
The scene was set for us. After the blood of two virgins (the Sinister Sisters) seeps into London’s rotting plague victims, the dead begin to rise. I heard screams from behind me. I turned and saw a wave of zombies crawling over the heads of the audience. Great touch. Welcome to the Circus of Horrors: The Night of the Zombie!
The hard rock intro was to be the soundtrack for the evening, driving the action on with electrified energy and it suited the performance tremendously as the audience were treated to sword and cutlass swallowing, knife throwing, fire-breathing, hair-hanging feats, aerialists, acrobats, and dancing girls.
The ‘relief’ came from Nosferatu, a camp vampire who fails at card tricks, and Captain Dan who is a rather proud member of the COH. Their crazy antics managed to shock a few members of the audience. (Poor Benji).
And that was the first half.
I thought it was slow to pick up after the interval but it got there especially with the dancing skeletons, and from then on it was a hoot with some great visual displays that made the audience applaud, cheer and gasp.
The climax was like a rock show, and at one point I heard Dok Haze shout at the crowd as if he was Ozzy Ozbourne!