Cruel Summer (2016) Triple Six Festival Review

rsz_cruel_summer_posterCruel Summer (2016)

Screened at The Triple Six Horror Film Festival , Manchester 28th May 2017

Directors/Writers: Phillip Escott, Craig Newman

Stars: Danny Miller, Reece Douglas, Richard Pawulski

Out Now on UK DVD & On Demand

Shot over what must have been ten of the most intense shooting days in cinema production history, Cruel Summer has proved to be an incredibly divisive film. In its screenings at Frightfest and Manchester’s recent Triple 6 Horror festival, audiences have been sharply divided and Q&A sessions with directors and writers Phillip Escott and Craig Newman have escalated from relaxed talking shops into heated debates.

Small wonder considering the tough subject matter on display. The story follows autistic teenager Danny (Richard Pawulski) who is camping on his own for the first time to gain his Duke of Edinburgh award. Meanwhile, bitter, violent local youth, Nicholas (Emmerdale’s Danny Miller) who egged on by a lie over an affair from jealous friend Julia (Natalie Martins), hunts down and tortures Danny along with a third friend Calvin (Waterloo Road’s Reece Douglas).

It is, without question, one of the toughest films I have ever had to watch and do not want to watch again anytime soon. This is not a knock against the film though. Escott and Newman have delivered one of the most important and brilliant pieces of British filmmaking in years. The subject matter can be, at best, described as thoroughly harrowing. My emotions were entirely drained by the end and I was left with a seething, boiling anger over the events I had just witnessed. So much so that I had to head outside and decompress afterwards.

rsz_cs1Comparisons I heard were to Cannibal Holocaust and Last House on the Left, those comparisons do this film a disservice as it has far more in common with the works of Shane Meadows, Mike Leigh and Ben Wheatley, presenting a gritty realism but is not cheap, gross or exploitative. Much of the brutality is actually unseen, down to superb directing and editing. It is the oppressive intensity. The hopelessness of the situation. The grim, pointless mess of it all that works you over.

Escott and Newman based the story on a number of different cases that have happened in Britain in recent years and the subject matter is treated with great care and sensitivity.

The performances from the four lead actors are incredible. Miller, not shy of getting to grips with meaty storylines is excellent as the psychotic, hateful slimeball Nicholas. Just thinking about the character is enough to raise my hackles again. Puwulski also pulls off an astonishing performance as Danny, avoiding using tropes that so often inadvertently mock those with mental disabilities. A word on Natalie Martins too, who produces a more restrained but equally outstanding performance as the jealous Julia. Clearly in love with Danny but jealous over his infatuation to the point of egging him into committing a heinous and besotted with him to the point where she goes along with it to the end.

rsz_cs2Cruel Summer will not entertain in any traditional sense but it educates, informs and elicits the necessary feelings of disgust, dismay and anger from the audience. In a time where hate crimes have spiked, tacitly encouraged by a vile and mean-spirited government keen to target the most vulnerable in society, Cruel Summer is an important film about hate crimes and the mindless violence of a lost generation of underclass youth.

Che Gilson’s Netflix Roulette #19 – The Fields (2011)

Join Che as she plays Netflix Roulette and watches a randomly selected horror film. Will it be awesome? Will it be torture? What horrors await?? Find out every month with Netflix Roulette!

rsz_1the_fields_posterTitle: The Fields

Year: 2011

Director: Tom Mattera and David Mazzoni

Starring: Tara Reid, Cloris Leachman, Joshua Ormand, Brian Anthony Wilson

Netflix Rating: 2.5 stars

Seen it before: No

First Impressions: OK according to the description an evil presence lurks in the cornfields of a young boy’s grandparents farm… So we’ll find out. But, full disclosure- I love me a haunted farmhouse. OK, I’m a sucker for anything haunted. It says ‘based on true events’ which means it will either be decent or awful. There doesn’t seem to be much in between when it comes to ‘true happenings’ films. And the rating doesn’t bode well…

The Verdict: Well it turned out to be exactly what I didn’t want it to be. A mish-mash of genres, thriller, coming of age, and general WTFery. The fact that it’s disconcerting in the least can be chalked up to some music and an inbred clan of hillbillies living in their mother’s basement (who literally occupy ONE scene- the one uncanniest scene in the entire movie). Otherwise it’s a big fat lot of absolutely nothing happening.

rsz_the_fields_1And no. There is no haunting. Nothing ghostly, and the ‘evil presence’ is a big fat over sell, it’s really just a crazy local and some drifter hippies, and all the action takes place off screen anyway, so you never really find out for sure what’s happening. Why anyone thought this would be a good basis for a movie I have no idea. The problem with films like The Field, is false advertising. Well, that and it’s just not very good. But still- just be honest. Don’t get our hopes up for one thing and deliver something else. This is NOT a horror film. It’s not even really trying to be a horror film. It’s more of an ill-conceived drama.

In 1973 young Steven (Ormand), is sent to live with his grandparents for a time while his mother (Tara Reid) tries to work out her combative relationship with Steven’s father. The grandparents are played by Cloris Leachman and Tom McCarthy. They provide much of the comic relief in the film as they bicker and cuss each other out. There sort of needs to be an entire film of nothing but Cloris Leachman yelling obscenities off-screen. Steven, meanwhile, grows obsessed with grandpa’s cornfields and the Manson Family Murders. Coverage of the murder trial is running constantly on the TV, and Steven keeps asking uncomfortable questions about Charles Manson that his grandparents struggle to answer.

The setting of 1973 is used very well, and provides a milieu of evil hippies, social turbulence and pop-culture references. The sets and costumes are fantastically done and The Fields looks and feels like it was made in the 70s, right down to the film grain. It’s perhaps the films greatest achievement.

rsz_the_fields_2The acting deserves some mention. Not because the performances are terrible, but because they are decent for a B-movie. No one is absolutely terrible, not even Tara Reid. Sadly though, the actors just don’t have much to do aside from walk from place to place looking serious.

The few plusses it offers up can’t disguise the fact that there is very little plot and almost no attempt to craft a story that invests viewers.

Rating: 4/10

Shameless Films Announce Sergio Martino’s The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh hits UK Blu-Ray for the first time July 10th.

rsz_viceShameless Films Announce Sergio Martino’s The Strange Vice of Mrs Wardh hits UK Blu-Ray for the first time July 10th.

Shameless announce that Sergio Martino’s (TORSO, ALL THE COLOURS OF THE DARK) stylish and sadistic giallo masterpiece THE STRANGE VICE OF MRS WARDH, is slashing its way onto Blu-ray for the first time!

The titular Julie Wardh discovers that one of the men in her life – her husband, an ex-lover or her current lover – may be a vicious serial killer. Fearing that she might be next to face the ripper’s blade, she spirals into an uncontrollable emotional maelstrom where her deviant desires awaken in a welter of sex, sadism and slaughter! Martino’s hypnotic direction pulls no punches with a series of grisly murders and a stand-out performance from the stunning queen of Italian exploitation cinema: Edwige Fenech!

Revered by fans and critics as one of the top giallo thrillers of the 1970s for its surreal imagery and a heavy dose of style, suspense and bloody murder, MRS WARDH now struts onto black-gloved Blu-ray for the first time ever, courtesy of a new restoration from Shameless!

PRE-ORDER NOW: http://bit.ly/SHAM208

Release date: 10 July 2017

Please note, the final artwork will be revealed closer to the release date.

EXTRAS
An interview with director Sergio Martino and star Edwige Fenech
An interview with Sergio Martino
An introduction from Sergio Martino
Commentary fact track by Justin Harries
Edwige Fenech bio presentation

SPECS
Shameless numbered edition
102 minutes
English and Italian audio

Dark Web: Steven Hickey’s Essential Guide To Creepypasta – Part 41: Normal Porn For Normal People

creepypastaDARK WEB: STEVEN HICKEY’S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CREEPYPASTA – PART 41: NORMAL PORN FOR NORMAL PEOPLE

Hey Dark Web readers, sorry for the lengthy delay between features, but I’m glad to be back with a look at one of the most disturbingly believable web horror stories out there.  This story is Normal Porn For Normal People.

The story was first published on 7 June 2011 by DeviantArtist CosbyDaf, the same creator who gave Creepypasta fans NES Godzilla, as featured here at Dark Web before (http://www.ukhorrorscene.com/dark-web-steven-hickeys-essential-guide-to-creepypasta-part-36-nes-godzilla/).

For those unfamiliar with the story, it takes the form of a first-hand account of a casual web-browser who receives a strange unsolicited email. The email contains a simple message:

Hi there found this site

is very nice thought u might like

normalpornfornormalpeople.com

pass it on, for the good of mankind

rsz_npfnp1 Acting despite his better judgement, the narrator clicks on link and finds himself at a rather shoddy and decidedly basic web site. The page consists of a large block of text, headed by rather strange tagline (Normal Porn for Normal People, A Website Dedicated To The Eradication of Abnormal Sexuality) a rambling rant that at first seems a dead end.

However, on closer inspection each separate word of this text is revealed to be a hyperlink, each leading to a video. At first these appear to be bizarre but harmless, but as the storyteller and other web visitors begin to explore the site in more depth, these videos become increasingly unnerving, leading to a final shocking scene…

You can read the full story here: http://cosbydaf.deviantart.com/art/Normal-Porn-For-Normal-People-212168120

As most of you are reading this feature on the internet, I think it’s safe to say that you are pretty tech-savvy. Also, as web-browsers, I’m pretty sure that plenty of you will have previously disappeared down the rabbit warren of clicking on questionable links, following ‘click-baity’ heads until you inadvertently click on that one last link that takes you to a dark corner of the web that you really wish you could unsee.

I’m not just talking the more stomach-churning internet phenomena such as ‘2 Girls 1 Cup’ or goatse.cx, or even the more unsavoury gross-out sites. No, as it’s title might suggest, Normal Porn For Normal People brings to mind the more disturbing and extreme erotica sites out there. Arguably the biggest strength and greatest aspect of the internet is that it is free, easy to access and barely policed, allowing people to share art and ideas quickly and without fear of persecution. However, this comparative lawlessness is also the most dangerous aspect of the World Wide Web.

It’s no secret that a vast amount of illicit, illegal and immoral material is shared via the internet. From sites spewing bigoted and hateful rhetoric to terrorist guides on how to create explosives to the sickening images recorded by paedophile rings, it’s a sad fact that, as well as being a tremendous source of information, the internet also houses the very worst of humanity.

With this in mind, the site described by CosbyDaf in his story is chillingly realistic, and as such the tale itself becomes more believable. I’ve written about how much more frightening a story becomes when you are given reason to believe that it might be true, and that you might also find yourself falling victim to the horrors described within. Normal Porn For Normal People cleverly combines the bizarre and the grotesque, qualities that ‘extreme web surfers’ will be all too familiar with.

The imagery described in the videos is unsettling, moving from almost comically surreal to utterly repulsive with a slow and steady escalation of tension.
What’s more, CosbyDaf cleverly refrains from robbing the story of its mystery, of neatly explaining each and every part. Instead the creator of the site, its purpose and the mysterious forces that seem to be intent on keeping it hidden are never explored, never revealed. The author encourages the reader to use their imagination, a storytelling trick which has always proven to be one of the strongest tools available to horror writers.

NPFP3It doesn’t matter how great a writer is at describing and detailing atrocities — the reader will always imagine something far more upsetting, far scarier, because they will tailor the story to match (and manipulate) their own worst fears. In short, Normal Porn For Normal People is an exceptional creepypasta that is wonderfully written and works on multiple levels.

Fans have flocked to the story, and with good reason.

As Redditor TatchM wrote in a post about why Normal Porn For Normal People is so scary: It relies on less common tropes than a lot of other creepypastas and the ones it does use are done relatively subtly. It makes it seem less formulaic and thus more believable. What really makes the writing clever is that it does not leave clear answers. It provides a lot of evidence of what is going on with the site, but it does not draw conclusions because the narrator has limited perspective. This allows the reader’s imagination to try and fill in the blanks. The subtext might be lost on some people, but for others it will cause their minds to race and they start putting the pieces in place. I know I spent 10 or so minutes doing as much.

As an example of one way the subtext can be interpreted for those who may not have picked up on it: Let’s start with the title. Normal Porn for Normal People. The first thought when reading that is to assume “normal” means “common.” However, if you interpret “normal” as a group (normies if you will), like gay or trap is for gay porn and trap porn, then the title takes on a different meaning. It then implies that the site is a fetish and the filmier(s) are sharing their home movies as a cry for help. It basically can be seen as a collection of home fetish movies.

dianna.avi implies that the filmer or an associate of his gets off on the interviews. Stumps.avi implies that the filmier enjoys watching people do mundane or repetitive tasks. It puts peanuts.avi, and tonguetied.avi into perspective. privacy.avi, lickedclean.avi, and useless.avi also shows an interest in voyeuristic behaviour. Of course, the tagline “Normal porn for normal people, A Website Dedicated To The Eradication of Abnormal Sexuality” could be seen as a cry for help. The creator of the site uploaded it and sent a bunch of emails stating “pass it on, for the good of mankind” as a confession; a hope that he/they would be found and caught. The “eradication of abnormal sexuality” might mean their incarceration before they could hurt more people as is shown in useless.avi and implied in jimbo.avi and stumps.avi.

Well, that’s at least one interpretation of the subtext. Even if they do not pick up on the subtext, there are still enough off-putting events to creep people out. It’s a good balance.

This smart plotting and skilled writing saw the story’s popularity soar. In October 2011 it was posted at the very highly regarded Creepypasta Wiki (http://creepypasta.wikia.com/wiki/Normal_Porn_for_Normal_People), where it undoubtedly found thousands more readers. Following that it spread to Reddit, first appearing at r/WTF (https://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/oryk2/this_is_most_wtflike_story_youll_ever_read_its/?st=1Z141Z3&sh=81a033a5 ) on 22 January 2012. It subsequently appeared on the more traditional horror fiction/Creepypasta subreddits, including r/NoSleep on 19 March 2012 (https://www.reddit.com/r/nosleep/comments/r36yf/normal_porn_for_normal_people/?st=1Z141Z3&sh=81a033a5) and r/Creepypasta on 15 April of that same year (https://www.reddit.com/r/creepypasta/comments/sawr0/normal_porn_for_normal_people/?st=1Z141Z3&sh=81a033a5).
A sure sign that a pasta has hit the big time, the ubiquitous Mr Creepypasta reading was posted on YouTube on 22 April (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTucWL05zV0). It’s a particularly good one too.

rsz_npfnp2Bizarrely, on the very same day that the story was posted on r/WTF, the domain normalpornfornormalpeople.com was registered. The site has since gone live and very closely resembles that in the story. It is run by one ‘Dr Richard Van Buren’, who claims to be a part of ‘The Need for Normalcy Project’. ‘Van Buren’ claims to be the true creator of the site, claiming that the pasta is in fact a fictional/exaggerated account of his own true work. There has been quite a mystery about this ‘work’, revealing the site to actually be part of an ARG — an ARG that rather rudely piggybacks on the story created by CosbyDaf.

In many ways this is the ultimate compliment — Normal Porn For Normal People has become such a huge cultural phenomenon that people have become inspired to write and present their own version of the mythos.

But let us never forget where this story originated — CosbyDaf, the creator who has given creepypasta fandom two of its most enduring stories.

CosbyDaf was kind enough to take some time out of his busy schedule to speak with UK Horror Scene about the phenomenon that is Normal Porn For Normal People. Our interview follows below.

UK HORROR SCENE: First, in your own words, can you tell my readers a little about Normal Porn For Normal People?
COSBYDAF: A url is sent to a guy by mistake, and he looks at a bunch of videos that he really shouldn’t have.

UKHS: What served as your inspiration for the story?
COSBYDAF: It used to be fairly common (and still is to an extent but more regarding the deep web) of clicking suspicious links and seeing something that the person really wishes they hadn’t seen. I liked the idea of it starting out non-criminal, yet unsettling at first, and then the content escalates.

UKHS: Are you a fan of Creepypasta? If so, what are some of your favourites?
COSBYDAF: Yes, though lately I’ve gained more of a fondness for listening to stories about people’s (supposedly) real experiences with incidents of high strangeness. Tied into that subject is my new favorite Creepypasta. Get some popcorn, it’s a long one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhkgXOUDetc

UKHS: Why do you think Creepypasta, and especially Normal Porn For No People, is so popular with readers?
COSBYDAF: Normal Porn, unlike NGC, is fairly close to something people can experience in real life. I’ve definitely had experiences where I clicked a link to watch something, only to wish later that I could unsee it. Unfortunately, you can’t delete events from your memory like you can with an internet browser. As I mentioned before, there’s a concern about stumbling into hidden evil on the internet.

Also I saw this mentioned a while afterwards, people would ask if the website was real on places like Yahoo Answers, only for their question to be deleted. The actual reason being because it’s pertaining to a porn site, but this happened to coincide with how the story ends, and this led to a lot of people thinking it was a real thing. I can’t take credit for this, it was completely unintentional, but it gave me a good laugh when I heard about it.

UKHS: The fans are very passionate about the story. Are there any examples of fan art, such as images, films or readings, in particular that have impressed you?
COSBYDAF: Not really, I hadn’t been searching around for fan content as much. I might be missing out.

UKHS: While doing my research on your story I discovered the ‘real’ NPFNP site. I can see it was opened significantly after the publishing of your story. Can I please get your thoughts on the site?
COSBYDAF: I’m not a fan of it. Nobody asked my permission to make the site. And from looking it over, it seems to be some mad scientist roleplay thing that discounts the original story as an “inaccurate telling”. Meh.

UKHS: And finally, will you ever return to the story in the future?
COSBYDAF: I did have ideas for a sequel, particularly another disturbing ending video. Though I kept thinking that it would be uninspired to write basically the same thing over again, and the “I’ve seen disturbing videos” type story has gotten a bit stale since the original came out. And I’m sure the majority of the audience would prefer that I put the effort into completing Godzilla: Replay, rather than starting something else!

Of course Normal Porn For Normal People isn’t the only pasta to inspire readers to adapt and embellish on the story in their own way. If anything, this ‘communal’ quality is one of the best qualities that the scene has, it means that these stories belong to each of us, especially when dealing with older pastas where the original author might be unknown or no longer active.

Come back next time when I’ll be looking at another creepypasta that has provoked much thought and adaptation from artists — one which is widely regarded as one of the greatest pastas ever written.