An Interview with Lord Zion by Dean Sills

zion1An Interview with Lord Zion by Dean Sills

UKHS – Hello Zion, thank you for your time and welcome to UK Horror Scene.

You are best known as the lead singer and co-founder of UK rock band, ‘Spit Like This’, which you formed back in 2002. Can you tell us about your band and how you got started?

Z – The band has done OK for itself and we have a pretty decent cult following. Under our belts are 4 EPs, a compilation CD and two albums. We’re not exactly prolific but like to think that, when we do release something, it is worthwhile it being out there. We’ve been lucky enough to play some great festivals and play in a bunch of different countries. Done a slew of videos and generally had a great time! We have achieved more than 99.9% of bands that ever form, so that’s pretty cool. Shame we’re not as big as Metallica though 😉

We had a rather unusual beginning as we were funded by the sale of Vikki’s used panties on eBay. We had less than zero cash and cottoned on to that as a way to generate something fast. A nice salacious way to kick things off! From the funds made, we started a slightly more legitimate business, smellyourmum.com, designing and producing our own range of sweary slogan T-shirts.

Little did we know that would take off like it did! That site is in the top 1% most visited on the planet! Shame they don’t all fkn buy something though. I think they all come to look and be outraged. Anyway, it kept us liquid and all profits went into getting the band off the ground proper and keeping it ticking over.

 

 

zion2UKHS – OK, let’s talk about your filmmaking career. When did you first discover your passion for filmmaking, acting and writing and will your production company ‘Fuel My 928 Film Productions’ just focus on the horror genre?

Z – Well, as a published songwriter, I have obviously always written in some form. I’ve also kept a handwritten diary for the past 24 years so that has kept my creative hand operational. Always, at the back of my mind, was the notion that I would one day write and make films but I didn’t expect it to happen quite when it did. A series of events collided for the opportunity to arise…

First off, we (the band) were asked to appear in Zombie Women Of Satan 2. Whilst on the set of that, I was looking around, thinking how much fun it was and how much I would like to do more stuff like that. Then me and Vikki got asked to act in the “Snow” segment of “Blaze Of Gory”. More on that later! I knew a couple of other directors through various channels and all took an interest when I mentioned that I was thinking of writing a film.

Believing that, if I wrote something not-shit, one of these new friends would help me make it, I set about writing a sci-fi thriller. A two hour long epic. I didn’t even think about a budget! Until I finished, of course, and realised that it would take some serious cash to get that ball rolling. Shame, as I spent six months on it.

So to Plan B: write something quick, cheap and easy to shoot. That was when I came up with “Meet The Cadavers”. Wrote it in 10 days, showed it to David VG Davies (from “Blaze Of Gory”) who said, and I quote: “This HAS to be made”. So I took him up on that and, within a couple of months, we were shooting.

 

zion3UKHS – You have worked on two of the segments for ‘Blaze of Gory’, which is a great achievement, well done! In the segment ‘Snow’ you play a character called Vir. What can you tell us about your character and the challenges you faced filming in Norway?

Z – Thank you. I wish I could take more credit for the achievement but, in all honesty, all I did was say “Yes” twice then worked out how the fuck I was going to do it! Thankfully, on the acting front, the character in “Snow” was rather similar to myself. Or rather my old, drunken self. So that was very easy to slip in to. Also, my role wasn’t that large so I didn’t need to worry too much about me cocking everything up. A nice introduction to acting.

Filming in Norway was epic. Getting to the location was a story unto itself! It was all going so well until we tried to climb a gentle gradient in a car without snow tyres. We span a bit and got stuck. For five hours. In the middle of nowhere. At night. In minus 25 degree weather. At first, it was all jolly-good fun, until we realised that we were actually FUCKING STUCK. Eventually, we did get out and, next day, made it to the filming location. It was beautiful. A lodge by a frozen lake 30 minutes from the nearest civilisation. We had no light, no heat, no electricity, no running water and the loo was outside.

I am glad I had the experience but I am not sure I would want to repeat it. Having said that, I did love it. Weird.

 

UKHS – You have just directed the ‘Blaze of Gory’ segment ‘Spawn of the Devil’. Did you enjoy the experience and do you find directing more enjoyable than acting?

Z – I absolutely loved it. I don’t consider myself an actor much – I think my range is comedy or evil. But, that’s OK as my aspirations lie with writing and directing. Naturally bossy, telling people what to do with an air of authority comes quite naturally to me. I think in visual terms so, the more I am exposed to directing opportunities, the better I will get and I will find my own visual language. Truth be told, I have hit the ground running first with “Cadavers” and then with “Spawn” but it is the best way to learn. No fucking around, just do it. The only bit I don’t like is the early mornings. I’ve been on rock n roll time too damn long! I am loving filling my head with new information though and absorbing everything I possibly can about making films. I think life is for learning so am glad to be trying out something new and different that not many people get to have a go at.

 

zion4UKHS – Last year you shot ‘Meet The Cadavers’ which you wrote, starred in, produced and co-directed with David V.G. Davies. Where did the inspiration for a Zombie family come from and how will this compare to other Zombie movies?

Z – Yeah, I did throw myself in at the deep end, rather. Why did I take on so much? I think it is for a singularity of vision. “Meet The Cadavers” is not a typical film, in any sense, and I really needed to be involved everywhere to make people understand what the hell it was supposed to be. A lot of people, even on set, didn’t “get” it. I would be asked questions all the time as I am breaking a lot of Zombie “rules” but, eventually, everyone got it and fell in love with the Cadaver family and the story.

Initially, when David first got involved, he was going to direct it. I asked though if I could go direct and he very kindly agreed to give me that chance. He would gradually let me do more and more as my understanding of the medium grew. Hey, I must have done something right or I am guessing he wouldn’t have asked me to do “Spawn”!

The inspiration from the family came pretty fast. I tend to like quirky takes on tried and tested themes so my mind just started melding a Zombie movie (fast to make, popular, relatively cheap to produce) with a Carry On Film (recurring cast, differing situations).

Next thing I knew, I had the Cadavers. Like a modern take on The Addams Family or The Munsters. It’s a comedy horror, the humour being quite modern and reactive (rather than joke lead). When the horror starts though, it is really horrible and the humour stops. It’s not a Zombie movie though. They just happen to be Zombies. Make sense?!

 

zion5UKHS – Your real-life partner Vikki Spit plays Kelly Cadaver in ‘Meet The Cadavers’. How much of your real-life relationship comes across in this movie and on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest), how good is Vikki as an actress?

Z – I guess when I wrote it I had both our voices in my head. I’ve been with Vikki 13 years now so I obviously know that some stuff just wouldn’t work coming out of her mouth. I also know what she will tolerate (she is the victim of a rather gruesome sight gag), so that helped. Neither of us are parents in real life so, suddenly giving ourselves offspring was a bit weird, especially as Vikki is too young in real life to have an 18 year old. So we made her older in the film. That was funny, actually, the first time she met Jack (who plays our son, Sidney Cadaver). He is very tall and Vikki is very short. She took one look at him and said “How the hell did you come out of my vagina?”. The poor boy nearly died.

To specifically answer your question, I am going to say an 8. The Cadavers are a loving, caring family, with an edge of taking-the-piss. I deliberately avoided the tiresome East Enders style SHOUT A LOT family. The only real differences are the lack of children and the lack of being dead.

zion6UKHS – What would you consider to be the three main ingredients that you need to make a classic horror flick?

Z – I think character is very important and something sadly lacking a lot of these days. A lot of films cannot wait to get to the gory stuff so gloss over the people involved. So you watch as a voyeur rather than as someone that has a vested interest. The thing is, if you care about the characters and what is happening, it will have a much greater effect on you. Case in point: with “Spawn”, I worked hard (in the limited time constraints) to give as much life to the lead character as possible. As such, when events happened, we were all on set disturbed by them. Ingredient one then, definitely character.

Tone I think is important. I decided that I wanted my segment of “Blaze Of Gory” to have a 70s vibe and look. So the shots were wider, sometimes obscure, often unnatural. It will be colour-treated to give it that 70s look and we shot with a slower shutter speed to avoid the modern choppy look. Setting out with that in mind will give the film a unique vibe.

The third ingredient would be inventiveness. Try and give the audience something they haven’t seen before. Or, at least, a new take on an old theme. That was certainly the case with “Cadavers” and also the next project I am working on.

 

UKHS – Lauren Harris is your leading lady in your ‘Blaze of Gory’ segment “Spawn Of The Devil”. She is not only an actress but also a musician who also happens to be the daughter of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris. Your band ‘Spit Like This’ have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with her over the years, which is really cool. If you could perform on stage with any three artists (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

Z – Lauren was amazing. We had an ad on Star Now and, when she applied and I saw her name my first thought was “surely not THAT Lauren Harris?”. I clicked through and it was. It was a blessing, I think, as we kind of knew each other so, instantly, there is an amount of trust from both sides. Good job, as we put her through some trying times!

We were trying to work out where we had played together – pretty certain it was at the 1st and 3rd Hard Rock Hell festivals. And, although nowhere near Lauren’s own adventures with Iron Maiden, my band has actually played on the same bill as them; Wacken (Germany) in 2010. Quite funny, actually. After filming “Spawn”, Lauren popped in our house where there is a BIG poster from Wacken. Of course, Iron Maiden are right at the top. I promised her I’d not planted it there! And I should mention, she is a FANTASTIC actress.

Who would I like to play with… Hmmm. Tough one as I have played on the same bill as some of my favourite live bands (Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Alice Cooper). Would be cool to play with Queen from the 70s, just to see if I could out-camp Freddie. That’s about it, really. One band I never saw but wished I had.

 

zion7UKHS – Can you tell UKHS something you’ve never told anyone else in an interview?

Z – Certainly. I used to frequently expose myself to the babysitter when I was a small child.

 

UKHS – Finally, Can you tell us about your movie ‘Sleep’ and any other projects you are planning to shoot in the near future?

Z –  “Sleep” is a psychological horror. The story explores the psychosis that occurs due to prolonged bouts of insomnia. Those that have read it have compared it to “My Little Eye” and “The Cabin In The Woods”. Lauren is attached to that as the lead female. The whole thing is written, I am just trying to put it together. Daily though, developments happen that could achieve that. I think it could be a winner. Low budget, simple story, neatly interwoven with some fantastic twists.

Other than that, I have two other screenplays I am writing. One is a Nazi comedy, the other is another horror. I would love to get my first screenplay into development but, like I said, big budgets..! I am also in contact with a couple of other filmmakers whose projects I might be working on in one capacity or another. Ultimately though, my future definitely lies in writing, producing and directing my own ideas.

zion8UKHS – Good luck with all those projects. Keep up the great work and thanks again for your time.

Links:

Zion

http://twitter.com/lordzion

http://facebook.com/lordzionofficial

MEET THE CADAVERS

http://meetthecadavers.com
http://facebook.com/meetthecadavers
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3128860/
http://twitter.com/meetthecadavers

FUEL MY 928

http://fuelmy928.com

BLAZE OF GORY

https://www.facebook.com/goryblaze

https://twitter.com/BlazeofGoryfilm

SPIT LIKE THIS
http://spitlikethis.com

SMELL YOUR MUM

http://smellyourmum.com

Image courtesy: ‘Snow’ segment photo by Duff.

Others: Lord Zion, Meet The Cadavers, Spit Like This and Vikki Spit.

In Fear (2013) DVD Review

IN FEAR 001IN FEAR (2013) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Iain De Caestecker, Alice Englert, Allen Leech

Written by: Jeremy Lovering

UK Certification: 15

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 81 minutes

Directed by: Jeremy Lovering

UK Release Date: 10th March 2014

We join Tom (Iain De Caestecker) and Lucy (Alice Englert) as they embark upon their first getaway as a couple. Tom has booked the Kilairney Hotel for the pair to enjoy some uninterrupted time together, but as they head to their location a number of horror movie clichés rear their ugly head. From a confrontation with a faceless Land Rover driver, to the road to the hotel chained shut (they open it), to the satellite navigation system losing signal. All the indications are there that point to uninspiring predictability as they follow an endless number of signs that indicate the hotel being in a specific direction, but just seem to be driving round in ever decreasing circles.

IN FEAR 002As the evening wears on tensions become a little more frayed between our young lovebirds as this wild goose chase continues. Finally Tom decides to stop and leave the security of the car to find someone to give directions. As the two head into the forest to look for some help the car alarm begins to sound, so the two run back and Tom goes to grab the keys he left in the ignition to switch it off – except they’ve gone. Thankfully the crisis is short-lived as he finds them on the ground nearby, although he’s convinced he left them in the car. It’s moments like this that occur in the first quarter of In Fear that pull it out by its lapels of that cliché-ridden vat of predictability. Small, subtle nuances that to me are far more frightening than bombastically orchestrated **BANGS!**.

After administering the necessary dosage of valium after watching In Fear, and once your heartbeat has returned to normal, it’s pretty obvious that you’ve just been watching a sublime British horror film. From its initial beginnings as a movie in which you feel you could likely scribble the complete narrative on the back of a napkin, it evolves into something quite unexpected – a taut, dark, psychological nightmare. At first it seems that the film will have more in common with the great Dead End (2003), but with the inclusion of a third party to this tense two-hander, a person whose intentions are initially hard to determine, it becomes another entity altogether.

IN FEAR 003While In Fear doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel with regard to what it offers, it does what it needs to thanks to some great technical ability. Much of the film is shot within the confines of the car, but using a variety of angles this limited perspective stays fresh and vibrant throughout the movies 81 minutes, while the decision to shoot scenes in order certainly enhances the gradually building tension. The two leads, De Caestecker and Englert – largely improvising their lines, are superb as the young couple in the infancy of a relationship, while the setting of Bodmin Moor (doubling as Ireland) is perfect for a film of this type with its barren vistas and endless hedgerow-lined single track roads.

I don’t tend to subscribe to the “you won’t see a better British horror this year” bandwagon, however films like this need your support and the more money you spend renting / buying / streaming them will ensure that other directors like Jeremy Lovering will deliver debut features as memorable as this.

8 out of 10

Stalled (2013) DVD Review

STALLED 001STALLED (2013) DVD

Review by: Dave Wain

Stars: Dan Palmer, Antonia Bernath, Tamaryn Payne, Mark Holden

Written by: Dan Palmer

UK Certification: 18

UK RRP: £12.99

UK DVD Region: 2

Runtime: 81 minutes

Directed by: Christian James

UK Release Date: 24th February 2014

I must admit I knew very little about Stalled prior to its release, other than the fact I’d seen a whole host of friends in the horror fraternity raving about it in the various social media forums. As with all good things I tend to put the earplugs in, a blindfold on and go “LA LA LA LA” incessantly until release day – and here we are.

Confession time – I’ve not seen Freak Out, Dan Palmer and Christian James’ previous collaboration, but it will be landing on my desk in the next few days, so I went in to Stalled blind of their sense of humour or whether I’d be on the same page. Within five minutes however, I was in a happy place indeed. Billed as The Evil Dead meets Phone Booth… in a toilet, we first meet ‘W.C’ (writer Dan Palmer) as he waits anxiously outside the women’s toilets for them to become vacant. Once in he surveys the scene, noticing a ‘no smoking’ sign that needs fixing back in place, and hearing that the internal Musak speaker is playing up, which upon closer inspection hides a dead rat. Already in the toilet is a red toolbox left by another janitor, but as the camera repeatedly glances at it we are lead to believe that it’s full of cash.

STALLED 002W.C is interrupted from investigating further by the arrival of two girls – both a little worse for wear. Hiding in one of the cubicles he peeks under the door as they engage in some drunken kissing, but they’re interrupted by the janitor who left the red toolbox who tries to force his way in to reclaim his loot. The girls cite the fact that they are barely dressed and manage to stave off this intrusion. As they interlock lips once more though, one of the girls takes more than saliva, and rips a chunk of the flesh from her companions face. With W.C trapped in the, erm… W.C, and with a horde of zombies now making their way in, this janitor has a battle for survival on his hands.

Containing the best bra-catapult visual gag that you’ll have seen in a good while, Stalled is staggering in its originality and its ballsiness. There’s a Shaun of the Dead comparison on the cover (from Kim Newman no less), but I think that diminishes just how bold Stalled is as it’s practically incomparable to anything else. As the film progresses, W.C learns of the presence of ‘Evie’, another patron in one of the cubicles, and as they talk through a resolution to their nightmarish scenario they find themselves forming a bond. All through this burgeoning friendship though, we never see ‘Evie’. The camera only shoots W.C with the character of ‘Evie’ represented by a sketch in marker pen on the cubicle wall which the camera cuts to intermittently when she speaks. It’s perhaps a simple concept, but one that highlights the level of work and determination that has gone in to the movie to create something so fresh.

STALLED 003From the lighter moments of this relationship, there is also a staggering level of gore and repulsive imagery in Stalled. The scene of a zombie distraction through the distribution of used sanitary towels really tested my gag reflex, while some of the make-up work in the areas of body dismemberment are truly impressive. Anyway, I’m compelling myself to stop now in fear that I may well go on to praise this film to the point of critical fellatio – and no-one needs to read that. Just take it from me, Stalled is the most original British horror movie that you have seen in a long time and it will make you laugh and retch in equal measure. That’s no mean feat.

9 out of 10

Extras:

Audio commentary with Christian James, Dan Palmer and Rick Edwards

Audio commentary with Dan Pickering and Richard Kerrigan

Behind the scenes

Opening sequence storyboard

Ladder sequence storyboard

Trailer

Peeping Tom (1960) Review

peeping1PEEPING TOM (1960)
Dir. Michael Powell

“How would I look on your camera?”
“Not you. Whatever I photograph, I always lose.”

Each and every night, the whir of the film projector can be heard in Mark’s room. It is a solitary sound for a solitary young man, it is the only sound that matters because it means Mark is where he belongs: watching the women, their faces, their mouths, their eyes, and their terror play out before  him on the silver screen.
Each and every night.

While films about serial killers were not exactly new in 1960, two films made their mark that year as bringing a new level of all-too-human terror to the silver screen, Hitchcock’s PSYCHO and its lesser known U.K. cousin, PEEPING TOM. In horror film criticism, there has been much written about the male gaze. PEEPING TOM is a textbook example, and yet perhaps something more.

Our film opens with a man, whose face is not seen but who has a camera around his neck, approaching a Soho prostitute. The shot then changes so that all we see is what his camera sees, he looks her up and down, and follows the prostitute to her flat, always keeping her in the crosshairs of his lens. As she starts to undress, he adjusts the camera and starts moving in, closer and closer. The prostitute, seeing something we don’t, begins to scream and her terrified face is recorded for posterity as the killer closes in.

peeping2We then cut to a small movie screen, where black and white footage of the crime is being replayed for the viewing pleasure of the killer/cameraman. It soon becomes clear this killer is Mark, a mild-mannered photographer who goes nowhere without his camera. When not practising erotic photography for hire, he is a cameraman for a movie studio.

But his hobby of watching women through a camera lens, and then capturing their expression of sheer terror as they are killed, makes him a wanted man, and as police probe the series of mysterious murders, the best/worse thing that can happen to Mark does—he finds a young woman who loves him. In addition to being a masterfully shot and edited film with compelling acting by the entire cast, what makes PEEPING TOM a work of genius is the way in which it is a rich visual essay on the fetishistic gaze and how it can isolate human beings.

Powell presents scene after scene in which characters are either staring at photos (including those of nude women) and watching film footage, are behind the camera, or in front of the camera. The subject of the gaze is usually female beauty and sex or fear and violence. Watching it, the viewer can’t help but think who’s watching who, why, and who is really in control here—the moviemaker, the subject or the audience?

peeping3A good example of this layered approach to the concept of gaze is an early scene where Mark peers through a window into an apartment where a 21st birthday party for his future love interest, Helen, is taking place. She spots him and invites him into the party, but he declines, presumably because he doesn’t like crowds and Mark retires to his own apartment in the same building and sits in the dark, watching an old movie.

Helen interrupts his viewing with a rap at the door and an offer of birthday cake. He rushes to put away the film as if he had been caught masturbating.  She enters and they chat, but Mark is awkward until he sits her down and starts his projector. He shows Helen a film his father took of Mark as a young boy watching a couple kiss in the park. He then shows her a film his father took of Mark being awakened in his bed and the subsequent fright he feels as his father puts a lizard in his bed.

It gets stranger as Mark attempts to photograph Helen watching the lizard film, a look of fear and disgust on her face. They then watch a film showing Mark at the death bed of his mother, followed by swimsuit footage of his new mother, and finally the moment Mark received his own camera, just before his father and new stepmother left on their honeymoon. Mark’s father was a scientist, a man who who wanted a video record of a child growing up so Mark never knew a moment’s privacy. On top of that his father wanted to learn about how children respond to fear.

peeping4Mark’s “origin story” ends when another person attending the birthday party comes in and beckons Helen back to the fun. She invites Mark, who declines. He is left staring at the piece of birthday cake she brought him earlier, isolated once again in his own mind, layer upon layer.

But PEEPING TOM is also an effective thriller. While it’s no mystery to the viewer as to whom the killer is, there is a question as to exactly how Mark’s victims are being slain (which is explained during the film’s climax), as well as the question as to whether Mark can overcome his compulsion to kill after meeting Helen? Can he be cured? Mark is a compelling psychological study. He has been warped by his upbringing, and yet he knows it and can’t seem to do anything about it.

After a slain actress is found in a trunk at the studio where Mark works, the police investigation intensifies. But Mark doesn’t seem to mind, and even films police interrogations of studio staff, explaining that he is making a documentary. Of what, he won’t say. A co-worker says to him, “Mark, are you crazy?” to which he replies, “Yes, do you think [the police] will notice?”

peeping5Another example is when Mark is confronted by Helen’s mother, a blind woman who spend her evenings on the sofa drinking whiskey. She doesn’t like Mark, a man who walks “too softly” and who peeps in through her window—the latter she knows because she can “feel” Mark’s gaze. It makes the hairs on her neck stand up, and when she shakes his hand, she can feel his pulse and tell when he’s lying.

Every night she hears him turn on his film projector, eager to watch … something. She asks what is it he’s so eager to watch?  The projector plays and she can’t see Mark’s footage of his latest victim playing across the screen, a terror-stricken, beautiful face.  But he can’t bear to kill her and she tells him, that all this filming can’t be healthy and that he needs to get help, quickly. “What’s troubling you, Mark? You’ll have to tell someone. You’ll have to.” Powerful stuff.

The horror of PEEPING TOM comes from the fact the viewer is forced to accompany Mark in his murders, sees what he sees—the masks of fear on his victims’ faces. We can’t look away. After all, we don’t want to miss any of the movie, right?

And there is morbid food for thought in the notion that we can’t look away, isn’t there? It was one thing to make the point—that as cinema-goers, we all are voyeurs—to shocked film audiences in 1960.

peeping6But PEEPING TOM is even more relevant now, when movies have moved out of the cinema and into our streets, our living rooms, our bedrooms, with us as both spectators and actors.

Cameras are ubiquitous, with many people photographing and shooting video of the minutiae of their daily lives. Children are growing up seeking validation from an unblinking lens. There is video content of anything you can imagine, and some real life things you can’t, available at the swipe of a finger.

Everyone is watching everyone else, often alone in the dark. Like Mark.
9/10

We Belong Dead Fearbook – A Review by Stuart Anderson

 

fearbook1After reviewing the latest issue of the truly excellent Space Monsters Magazine in my previous blog entry of wonder, I subsequently received a message from Mr Eric McNaughton, the grand-master and all round dictator of the equally fabulous classic horror zine of We Belong Dead.

 

Now my long suffering  reader will know that not so long ago I penned a rather excellent, and some (well me) might say profound piece on We Belong Dead’s rise from the ashes of publication history to be reborn after a period of sixteen long years – and a triumphant return it was. In fact the return from the dead in the shape of Issue 9 was such such a success that it was decided to produce a collection of all the best bits and put them together into some form of, er, collection. It was to be called the The Official We Belong Dead Fearbook (see what they did there? – genius).

 

Although he didn’t say so in as many words, it is quite clear from our discussion that Eric was rather impressed with the blog article on Space Monsters magazine and so suggested that I might like to review Fearbook. Well, at least I think he ‘suggested’, there was quite possibly in retrospect some dark sub-text to his request that I just cannot seem to put my finger on.

 

So I recommend that you see for yourselves as the conversation ran something like this…..

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: Now then laddie!

 

MeEr, yes my lord?

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: About that article that you tried to write on the wonderful Space Monsters Magazine?

 

MeErm, tried?

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: Yes, tried. It’s a brilliant magazine that deserved much more than the frankly embarrassing attempt that you put together. I know that you tried your best so I suppose that counts for something. Well allright, I may be possibly being a little harsh, some parts of it were almost acceptable.

 

MeThank you, I think…….

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: So I’m giving you one more chance to redeem yourself and try to put together at least a few words with more than two syllables on my magnificent We Belong Dead Fearbook.

 

Me: Thank you Mr Sir – you know I won’t let you down!

 

 
fearbook2Mr Eric McNaughton: Well actually we all know that you probably will. However the Fearbook is my collection of my favourite selection of articles from the long out of print editions from 1993-1997 – so making sure people know about this chance to own some classic horror history is falling for the time being (so help me god) on your shoulders.

 

Me: Ok Mon Capitan, anything else that I should know?

 

Mr Eric McNaughton: In it’s 5 year incarnation WBD went from an amateur, shoddily printed zine to a slick, professional looking mag. It was indeed a learning curve, but along the way we assembled a most talented group of writers and artists, many of whom still contribute to the 21st century WBD. If you look at issue 1 almost the entire issue was written by myself, but that soon changed from WBD 2 onwards as our popularity grew. The production of the zine was very old school, remember these were the days before internet and email! I would have to type up ALL the articles which were mailed to me, do all the page layout by hand literally using scissors and glue! I remember my delight when I finally managed to get an electronic typewriter to put together issue 7! How the world has changed!

 

 
Me: Blimey, somebody has some passion!

 

 
Mr Eric McNaughton: Thats right my good man! Now get cracking on with it and don’t cock it up for once  – remember, I know people!

 

So on that not so veiled threat on my personage I began to read the whopping 120 page Fearbook and immediately began immersing myself In its nostalgic loveliness. As I initially ‘flicked through the pages’ my eye caught one particular feature hiding away on page 43 –  simply called, TV Horror. The introduction for which from Neil Ogley goes as follows;

 

fearbook3“During the first incarnation of We Belong Dead, I had the idea of pulling together a listing of all the BBC2 Horror Double Bill seasons to form an article for the fledgling fanzine. (I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who had that idea.) As a youngster, like many others I was often allowed to stay up to watch horror movies and I loved the weekly offerings that ran regularly throughout the summer. “
 

 

“Back then most people thought the horror double bill seasons ran from 1975 until 1981 however it seems that even though the BBC skipped a season in 1982, a final series of double bills was broadcast during the summer of 1983 although this season was entirely made up of the classic Universal horrors from the 30’s and 40’s all of which had been shown before, predominantly in the 1977 season Dracula Frankenstein & Friends.”

 

And what do you know? That particular paragraph could have actually written by me (though possibly not nearly as well), because the scenario that Neil described was something that completely parallelled my own introduction to the wonderful world of horror. I’ve mentioned in previous articles in this blog of wonder that I’ve often traced back my initial introduction to horror by being allowed to stay up late during one childhood Saturday evening to watch Son of Frankenstein from Universal Pictures. It’s a long cherished memory of mine, however, the problem has always been that I’ve never been able to remember exactly when this took place. That is until now, as this little snippet from the Fearbookshows.

 

DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN AND FRIENDS 1977

 

Saturday 2 July 1977

 

23.05-00.25 Dracula (Universal1931)

 

00.25-01.35 Frankenstein (Universal 1931)

 

Saturday 9 July 1977

 

22.50-00.00 Bride of Frankenstein (Universal 1935)

 

00.00-01.25 Brides of Dracula (Hammer 1960)

 

Saturday 16 July 1977

 

22.45-00.15 The Mummy (Universal 1932)

 

00.15-01.05 The Wolfman (Universal 1940)

 

Saturday 23 July 1977

 

22.10-23.45 Son of Frankenstein (Universal 1938)

 

23.45-01.10  Kiss of the Vampire (Hammer 1964)

 

There you have it, the official birthday of the Fifth Dimension blog could very well be said to be ten minutes past ten on the 23rd July 1977 – how brilliant a discovery is that?!

 

I can hear what you are saying – “OK, big deal but is a relatively small piece of nostalgic memories really important enough to write about?” Well yes it blooming well is because nostalgia is exactly what this joy of a magazine is all about. It perfectly recaptures the plethora memories that we all of a certain age have when we discovered and experienced the wealth of horror from what many remember as the classic age of the genre.Don’t misunderstand me, my love of classic horror doesn’t mean that I regard the more contemporary fair as necessarily being sub-standard and not worthy of consideration, On the contrary, each decade since the 1970’s to date has seen some magnificent examples of movie making. Moreover, the current independent horror scene is as rich and exciting a period in terms of creative ambition as any time I can remember. No, what I love about this zine and others such as Space Monsters Magazine is that here we have a group of like-minded individuals who are reliving their personal recollections of creepy discovery, and with it, taking us along with them for the ride of a horror lifetime. Something which I and many others have no trouble in relating to and identifying with.

Classic horror needs to be kept in the wider public consciousness – this is magazine is the perfect way to do that.

The 120 page of classic horror loveliness is far too detailed for me to be able to review each and every marvellous article – but I will for now briefly mention three pieces of personal note.

 

fearbook4PHANTOM OF THE OPERA  by Eric McNaughton

 

This article from Eric originally appeared in the very first edition of We Belong Dead and has been revised and updated for the reproduction in the the Fearbook. It’s a lovingly detailed appreciation of what I would regard as the best movie version of the Gaston Leroux’s classic 1910 novel, and the one that features one of the giants of the classic age of horror, Lon Chaney.

 

Phantom of the Opera (1925) may put off some people by the fact is is silent and made in black & white, but that would be a mistake. It is a powerful creepy and highly atmospheric production that I and many others are still affected by when viewing in this, the most modern of ages.

 

The piece is a delightful loving account, not just only of the movie itself, but also of the behind the scenes work ranging from Chaney’s legendary attention to detail in preparation in make-up to his influence on the direction of the film. Eric clearly loves the movie, its theme and location and the article is simply a genuine joy to read.

 

 
fearbook5INGRID PITT – THE QUEEN OF HAMMER

 

I’ve never disguised my almost-clean and respectful love of Miss Pitt and her contribution and legacy to British horror. Gary W Sherratt, who wrote this marvellous piece in the 1990’s, when Ingrid was still with us, obviously shared that love too.

The article isn’t just lovingly written it is also accompanied (as in the rest of the publication) by a delightful collection of Photos, film posters and lobby cards of the genuinely delicious and talented woman who’s horror legacy was thankfully is as strong now as it was when she was still alive.

The effect of any article can often be measure in how much it makes one think – and after reading this lovely account I think I’ll now go my Ingrid Pitt collection and watch the whole damn lot this weekend!

 


fearbook6Dan Gale compares Romero’s original classic 1968 Night of the Living Dead with Tom Savini’s 1990 remake in the eighth edition of the magazine.

 

I along with every horror fan has their personal views on the qualities (or need) for remakes of classic movies. Indeed, a previous piece or two in this very blog of wonder has compared the merits of the odd remake with its predecessor. Dan Gale provides a well balanced and at times blackly humorous of the two movies and even (perish the thought) manages to say a few kind things about the remake – I know!!

 

What stands out about the article is that it takes place in the pre-Walking Dead and general Zombiethon climate that seems to exemplify a large chunk of contemporary horror. Reading this particular article in an age when Zombies hadn’t been done to death (see what I did there?) is a peculiarly refreshing experience and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

For those of you who are wanting to purchase a copy of the We Belong Dead Fearbook then go TO THIS LINK

 

The We Belong Dead Facebook page can be found RIGHT HERE

 

 

Issue 12 of We Belong Dead is due out very soon!
fearbook7

I heartily give this 9 out of 10

Dead of Night (1972) BFI DVD Review

deadofnightDEAD OF NIGHT (1972)

DVD Release Date: 28 Oct 2013

Featuring: Anna Cropper, Clive Swift, Edward Petherbridge, Peter
Barkworth, Anna Massey, Sylvia Kay, Jaqueline Pearce, Julian Holloway and
Katya Wyeth.

Directed by: Don Taylor, Rodney Bennett and Paul Ciappessoni.

After bathing in the rather splendid Gothic waters of Robin Redbreast (see my previous blog entry of peril) it was time to for me move onto the 2nd preview delicacy that the marvellous people at the BFI had forwarded my way as part of their magnificent *Gothic:The Dark Heart of Film* season. Once again my not so onerous task was to sit through another highly sought after classic of television and British Horror from the 1970’s. It’s a dirty job, but someone has got to do it – and I’m just the man for a dirty job.

Ahh, the 1970’s, a much maligned and much celebrated decade in equal measures. I was a child of the seventies and therefore many of my personal memories are seen through my own personal (& much used) pair of rose-tinted glasses. As a consequence, my recollections of being a very young kid growing up through those years are mostly positive. The seventies was a decade of contractions here in the UK- on the debit side it was a time of political and social upheaval, the weekly strikes, power cuts, terrible fashions and IRA bombings. Oh yes, there was also Margaret bloody Thatcher coming to power…..maybe my rose-tinted glasses need cleaning. However, on the plus side the seventies also gave us David Bowie, Punk Rock, Star Wars and space hoppers….so it wasn’t all bad.

bfigothicWhat certainly cannot be denied about the 1970’s was the quality of television production. It was a different world than the controlled and often insipid programming that was to come afterwards. The Seventies were a true golden period for dark and sinister drama, with the Christmas periods benefiting greatly with an abundance of horror fare. *A Ghost Story for Christmas* which ran through most of the decade, *The Stone Tape (1972)* An atmospheric modern ghost story, and *Count Dracula (1977)* all telling well crafted tales of horror and dread. More importantly, there was no dumbing down of the material to meet the lowest common audience denominator, nor was there much practice of exaggerating the horror genre into becoming cliched and predictable.

The 1972 series* Dead of Night *is a legendary horror anthology series released in November of that year. The bad news is that four out of the five episodes have not survived their dispatch to the BBC archives after the cost-cutting wiping of used tapes to record new programmes.

The good news is that the three episodes that do survive are perfect examples of the quality and themes that heightened the reputation of the series, both when it was first broadcast and subsequently in the years afterwards. Apart from the quality of the chills and thrills that the series offered, what resonates with the collection of episodes was the ability to adapt traditional Gothic themes such as emotional repression, supernatural visitations and voluptuous bosoms heaving in the midst of stressful romantic obsessions. The skill of the programme makers was the ability to transfer these traditional Gothic elements to a contemporary middle-class suburban setting with all it’s political and social complexities.

Remember, this is a time when the audience were often treated with genuine respect and rarely bared witness to any dumbed-down horror during prime time. The *Dead of Night* series is no different, with a number of episodes containing clever critiques and examinations of the modern suburban lifestyles of middle class families. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean a concerted left-wing diatribe against the excesses of the ‘me generation’. There is a genuine sympathy for the predicament for many of the people (particularly the women) in theses dramas – though that doesn’t mean that their destinies are any less deadly.

don1*The Exorcism*- A film by Don Taylor, is arguably the episode which has gained the highest reputation for being the most frightening and memorable of the entire series. First broadcast on the 5th of November (how very apt) the story examines the clash between modern-day social beliefs and the injustices of the past – all dressed up in a covering of a delicious Gothic horror. It features a sophisticated and wealthy middle-class couple, Edmund and Rachel( Edward Petherbridge and the magnificent Anna Cropper) who have invited their equally sophisticated friends Dan and Margaret (Clive Swift and Sylvia Kay) to their newly refurbished country cottage retreat. This gathering of friends for Christmas dinner begins innocently enough with agreeable conversation around their privileged status and how they can reconcile this to their (long-gone) socialist principles. It is clear which of these considerations are winning out as both couples are the epitome of the new ‘habitat generation’ as they talk and play their party games.

However it soon becomes clear that the house they have renovated and it’s previous owners may have other more horrific frightening prospects in store for the four friends. For soon things begin to take an ever more supernatural tone as Rachel finds herself playing a melody on the piano that she has no recollection of ever knowing, the phone becomes disconnected (oh those days before wi-fi, god love it), and the food and drink starts to have the most interesting of effects.

Once again the acting and writing is of the highest order with all four players in the ensemble convincingly portraying the conflicting pride and guilt they feel about their lives. Anna Cropper, as she was in *Robin Redbreast*, is especially excellent in the scene where the apparent connection that she has felt with the dead previous occupants sees her become possessed by the said owner, who’s lifestyle was far, far less opulent than our present-day foursome. Hers in particular is a truly mesmerising performance.

Yes, The Exorcism may deal in part with commentary on wealth, privilege and political guilt – but do not let that put you off because it is an exemplary example of a wonderful supernatural story of chilling proportions. I don’t want to give the ending away, except to say that that it as unsettling and effective as any I can remember.

don2In *Return Flight* – A film by Rodney Bennett, we are introduced to Captain
Hamish Rolph, (played by the always excellent Peter Barkworth) an experienced airline pilot who has recently returned to his job not long after the death of his wife. The problem is that his professionalism is placed under scrutiny by the airline authorities after he declares a near-miss with another aircraft, however nobody else witnessed this event at the time. His employers and friends are both concerned that outwardly, he seems to have lost his normal sense of focus and discipline. However, we soon discover that inwardly the problems are far more sinister and complex as his bereavement and secret long held feelings of inferiority have resulted in a far more dangerous effect on on his psyche. The Phantoms of his mind, both real and unreal, are playing tricks on his personal view of reality, for which the consequences are that he is flying ‘blind’.

This is a production that could have easily have found it’s existence in an episode of The Twilight zone, and certainly the some of the issues here such as a man being haunted by the spectres from his own mind and past are familiar to those of us who love the work of Rod Sterling’s eponymous series. *Return Flight *is an excellent character study of a middle-aged man trying to come to terms with both his personal and professional failings. He is someone who up to now who may have had at worse, an inaccurate perception of his life – his marriage for example, which may not been quite as happy as he seems to recollect, His resistance ultimately fragments and lets his mind carry him well and truly away to a place where perception and reality fade away.

Barkworth once again exemplifies the solid acting that you would expect from this series, with the critically acclaimed actor portraying a restrained sorrow and nobleness to his character’s existence.

don3The third and final instalment is perhaps my personal favourite of the three, possibly because it is a clever modern-day development of a classic Gothic tale of potentially doomed heroine. It is a theme that has been explored in numerous stories by since folk tales began and in numerous film adaptations, noticeably by such luminaries as Alfred Hitchcock.

In *A Woman Sobbing* – A film by Paul Clappessoni, Jane a middle-class wife (Anna Massey) and her husband Frank have moved out to the country for the benefit of their children’s upbringing. The couple’s marriage has clearly reached a point of boredom and frustration for them both as they openly fantasise about relationships with younger partners. Soon  Jane starts to become increasingly paranoid and unstable when her nights are interrupted by the unsettling and unaccountable sound of a woman crying in
one of the upstairs rooms of her new house. This sobbing noise is always accompanied by the smell of gas fumes. If that wasn’t enough to force the woman into falling further over the edge into loneliness and depression, nobody else can hear the sounds or smell the gas, but her. Is Jane’s husband really trying to drive her insane, or even kill her? Are the forces
at work supernatural or simply the result of the fragmentation of her mind and sanity?

This episode has some deep and dark undertones in the exploration of the gender roles and mental illness. There are distinct Freudian elements as to whether the voice that Jane hears is actually real, or whether it is actually some long forgotten repressed memory or experience from deep within her unconscious. Both Jane and her husband are clearly unhappy in their respective marriage roles, but it is interesting that even in the more so- called liberated 1970’s it is the woman who has no ‘vent’ for her frustrations having been worn down by her domestic existence. Her growing resentment of her children, her husband and the family Au pair threatens to overwhelm her completely.

The episode is deeply unsettling in its portrayal of Jane’s psychological turmoil possibly manifesting itself either into supernatural consequences or deeper mental illness. The representation of the treatment that Jane’s husband arranges for Jane is convincing and unsettling, with her treatment of Electro Convulsive Therapy looking clinically authentic.

don4Again this is an intelligent and thoughtful approach to examining the human condition without losing the sight of the fact that it is supposed to be chilling and creepy enough to satisfy the horror enthusiasts within us.
Because IT IS genuinely claustrophobic and frightening in it’s climactic scenes as Jane becomes more and more unbalanced. This is helped in no small measure by the performance of Anna Massey, whose previous roles in Hitchcock’s Frenzy and Michael Powell’s stunning Peeping Tom receiving much deserved praise from critics and public alike. The increasing desperation and descent into into her own disturbed thoughts is beautifully portrayed by an actress at the height of her powers.

There are some people for whom the ending is annoyingly ambiguous, the neatly packaged let the ending explain all doesn’t happen here – and I love that. I love the fact that I’m asked to think about it and make my own mind up as to the things that have taken place.

10/10  

*DVD information and Special Features** *

– The video master information were made available by the BBC to the BFI
and are presented in their 1.33:1 aspect ratio, in accordance with their
original broadcast.
– Gallery of stills from missing episodes
– Downloadable PDF scripts from missing episodes
– Fully illustrated booklet with essays and biographies by Lisa
Kerrigan, Oliver Wake, Derek Johnston and Alex Davidson