Film

Why Does Dracula Never Grow Old?

He’s the IP that never needs fresh blood. His fans still lap him up. What’s the appeal? The thirst for new material from the old Hammer Films studio is extraordinary, and an entire industry built up around this esoteric corner of the entertainment industry. The above volumes have been republished with new sections bringing the […]

Flop Films Re-Assessed

We got to five on this site last time around: I reviewed very obscure films to the complete disinterest of my readership. Here was I eager to discuss bonkers storylines with anyone who’d listen and you lot were like middle-class housewives at a book club; two minutes of interest followed by a heated discussion about the […]

Giallo: The Strangest Crime Genre Of Them All (Part 2)

Mario Bava’s ‘Blood and Black Lace’ was not the first Giallo, but in it all of the right elements and perfectly aligned. Murders of beautiful women in a gothic fashion house by a killer in black leather gloves. Sadistic deaths, lighting more Grand Guignol than Giallo. This was cinema of the senses, more decadent and […]

Giallo: The Strangest Crime Genre Of Them All

A Giallo is a story that starts with a lurid murder that tracks the killer to a plausible solution. At least, in theory. It might have elements of sexuality, suspense, thrills, gore, perversity, even (bad) comedy. It is above all sensual. Every sense is heightened, but the senses are not to be trusted. The protagonist is […]

In The Earth: The Answer Lies In The Soil

Following on from the last column about cerebral scares, here’s something new in the folk horror genre to catch. Ben Wheatley is incapable of making a dull film but he comes dangerously close to self-parody with ‘In The Earth’, which will either kill off the fashionable folk-horror cycle for a while or encourage a further […]

The Scared Brain: Favourite Cerebral Scares

Considering I’ve written some 300 short stories in the genre of the fantastic, I feel that stories in which one’s inner doubts and fears are made irrefutably solid is the bravest choice to make aesthetically. Psychological stories achieve a unique level of catharsis but shocking images must be yoked within the service of powerful ideas. The […]

Not The Ideal Holmes

Recently there’s been much talk in the creative community about IPs. The intellectual property rights of characters are being sought out as never before because in uncertain times they come with built-in buyers. The most well-known characters are the most valuable, and they’re usually the simplest and easiest to grasp. That’s what keeps Sherlock Holmes […]

Not The Worst Film Ever Made (Update)

What Happens When The Brand Wags The Dog? When director Christopher Nolan insisted that his 007-ish headscratcher ‘Tenet’ only open in cinemas he misunderstood how audiences think. Of course he wanted to put it on the biggest possible screen – it’s dazzling to look at, often audacious and enthralling. It also makes no sense whatsoever, […]

‘Blithe Spirit’: The Coward’s Way Out

Like many other prolific 20th century writers, Noel Coward – if not entirely forgotten – has now been abbreviated to a handful of clichés; dressing gown, cigarette holder, clipped speech, epigrams. In the same way that Agatha Christie is defined by the drearily rote ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ rather than the far better ‘Endless Night’, […]

The Best Films In The Worst Year

We may well look back on 2020 as the year cinema died. The battle between exhibitors and studios reached a head in the pandemic, especially in America where the cinemas remained closed, and ended with Warners shutting theatrical windows and leading the charge to its loss-leader streaming platform. The major studios decided to bottle up […]