50 Years of The Prisoner: A special two hour programme celebrating the 50th anniversary of classic cult TV show The Prisoner. Alex Fitch talks to two editors of the show – Ian Rakoff and John S. Smith – and hosts a live commentary track for the episode ‘Living in Harmony’ with Smith, Rakoff (who also wrote the episode), Prisoner historian Rick Davy, and Rob Fairclough, writer of The Official Prisoner Companion book.
Anglo-Italian Thrillers: In this episode of Electric Sheep’s monthly film show, Alex Fitch looks at British and Italian thrillers, including a selection of interviews recorded at Cine-Excess and SCI-FI-LONDON film festivals.
Halloween Horrors: In this month’s Halloween themed episode of the Electric Sheep Film Show, Virginie Sélavy talks to Kim Newman about his new collection of reviews and essays, Video Dungeon, published by Titan Books, and to cinema programmer Anna Bogutskaya about co–curating a tour of short horror films directed by women: ‘The Final Girls – We Are the Weirdos’.
In his introduction to the important collection of film essays King of the Bs, Todd McCarthy quotes Andrew Sarris’s dictum ‘eventually we must speak of everything if there is enough time and space and printer’s ink’. Sarris was working up to an assessment of Edgar G. Ulmer’s Daughter of Dr Jekyll (1958).
Starting a new series of the monthly show about cult cinema, Virginie Sélavy talks to the cast and crew of a new American thriller about organ harvesting, Lowlife, which screened at this year’s Fantasia Festival in Montreal, while Alex Fitch discusses the low budget feminist dystopian classic Born in Flames with director Lizzie Borden, recorded after a screening at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Also in this show, German genre critic Marcelle Perks discusses her contributions to the book Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin published by Spectacular Optical.
The Electric Sheep Film Show is broadcast every third Wednesday of the month, 5.30-6.30pm at Resonance FM 104.4. Next date: 18 October 2017.
Mixing art cinema, fantastique and exploitation, Jean Rollin created a unique cinematic world, transgressive and oneiric, and dominated by the feminine. His films, steeped in the roman noir of the 18th and 19th century via his love for Surrealism, are peopled by damsels in distress who reveal themselves much less vulnerable than they initially appear.
Electric Sheep editor Virginie Sélavy will look at the way in which Rollin’s films use Gothic motifs such as the castle and the vampire to question social and moral norms and subvert conventional gender expectations. She will also explore the conflation of exploitation and aesthetic vision in his work, and the insight it offers into the tensions around the representation of the female body in the sexual liberation era.
Longtime genre critic Marcelle Perks will investigate Final Girl strategies in the films of Rollin, looking at the ways his predominantly female protagonists depart from the tropes emerging from the slasher films of the time, as analysed by Carol Clover in her 1987 essay ‘Her Body, Himself’, which became the basis of the seminal Men, Women and Chainsaws. Perks will also examine Rollin’s unique approach to concepts of contagion and infection, with an emphasis on Les raisins de la mort (1978) and La nuit des traquées (1980).
Both Marcelle Perks and Virginie Sélavy contributed to the new book Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin, edited by Samm Deighan and written by entirely women critics, scholars and film historians, which will be available for sale at the screening.
About the instructors:
Marcelle Perks is a British author and journalist. Since 1993 she has contributed freelance articles to magazines such as Redeemer, Fangoria, Shivers, Flesh and Blood, SamHain, Kamera, Rue Morgue, Nerve.com, Film Maker magazine, The Dark Side and Videoworld. She has an MA in Media Studies and has taught creative writing at Leibniz University. She has contributed to The BFI Companion to Horror, British Horror Cinema, Gothic Lifestyle, Cinema Macabre, and Alternative Europe: Eurotrash & Exploitation Cinema since 1945. She’s also written how-to guides on sexuality and writes erotica and crime novels. Since 2001 she has lived in Germany.
Virginie Sélavy is the founder and editor of Electric Sheep, the online magazine for transgressive cinema. She has edited the collection of essays The End: An Electric Sheep Anthology, and has contributed to World Directory Cinema: Eastern Europe and written about Victorian London in Film Locations: Cities of the Imagination – London. Her work has appeared in various publications, including Sight&Sound, Rolling Stone France, Cineaste and Frieze.
About the Miskatonic Institute:
Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is a non-profit, community-based organization that started in Canada, founded by Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010. The school currently has branches in Montreal and London, with Miskatonic London operating under the co-direction of Kier-La Janisse and Electric Sheep Founder/Editor Virginie Sélavy.
All classes take place at the historic Horse Hospital, the heart of the city’s underground culture. Season ticket is £35 and will be available shortly. Individual class tickets are £10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concessions and will be available 30 days in advance of each class.
For full details of the next courses please check the Miskatonic website. For all enquiries, please email Miskatonic.london[at]gmail.com.
This year’s edition of Horror Channel FrightFest was dominated by stories of female survivors.
In these times of increased uncertainty and diffuse dangers, it is perhaps no wonder that stories of survival dominated this year’s edition of Horror Channel FrightFest. More specifically, it was female survival that appeared to be a recurring preoccupation in the work of the mostly male directors (only two feature films in the programme were directed by women).
The two high points of the festival, Cold Hell and Lowlife, both centred on complex, resilient and flawed women who must face deadly threats with only their own strength to rely on. In Cold Hell, directed by Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfeiters), Turkish-Austrian Thai-boxing champion Özge faces daily racism and sexism in her job as a taxi driver. When she becomes the target of a serial killer, she finds that neither her family nor the police will help her. Uncompromisingly stubborn and more comfortable with punches than words, she is an engaging mix of toughness and vulnerability. Despite the implausibility of some of the plot lines, Cold Hell is exhilarating both because of its efficient, tensely paced action and its deeper emotional and political resonance.
The debut feature of director Ryan Prows, Lowlife also focuses on the plight of people who live on the margins of society, unprotected by the rule of law that most of us take for granted. An excellent ensemble piece created by a tightly knit cast and crew, it weaves three interconnected stories that follow a luchador, a pregnant drug addict and an ex-con as they confront a ruthlessly brutal organ trafficker. At the heart of the film is the relationship between two hardened and troubled women, who must face their demons and learn to join forces to defeat them. Irrepressibly joyful and horrifically brutal, like Cold Hell it uses a genre framework to pass comment on some very real and urgent issues.
Although it also appears to centre on a female survivor, Korean hit The Villainess is the exact opposite of Cold Hell. Shallow and one-dimensional, The Villainess has none of the psychological truth and social relevance of Stefan Ruzowitzky’s film, and its attempt to ground the action in personal drama only results in cloying sentimentality. Even as a straightforward action film, it is disappointing. The opening first-person corridor fight is a substandard retread of Oldboy with a POV gimmick that detracts, rather than enhances, the action; as for the climactic final confrontation, its impact is deadened by the over-reliance on CGI effects.
Less flashy and more thoughtful, Colin Minihan’s It Stains the Sand Red offered an unusual slant on the apocalyptic zombie genre, focusing on a cocaine-sniffing, booze-addled bad girl as she attempts to escape from LA across the desert. As she journeys through the scorched landscape, a strange kind of relationship starts to develop between her and the zombie who doggedly follows her, and this, together with memories of her previous life, causes her to radically reassess the choices she has made. As in Cold Hell and Lowlife, the female lead is characterized by a mixture of strength and weakness, and by an unshakeable determination to survive, her past proving to be both help and hindrance in that aim.
Interestingly, in all three films, the female survivors must fight not only for themselves, but also to protect a vulnerable dependent. Each film explores the complexities of the character’s relationship to her respective dependent, probing social expectations of women’s nurturing role from diverse angles.
One of the least savoury aspects that emerged in relation to the female survival theme, however, was the use of rape scenes to make a point in some of the films. The unnecessarily extensive depiction of sexual assault marred the otherwise thoughtful It Stains the Sand Red. The demonstration of the character’s capacity for survival could have been made just as efficiently with a shorter, less crudely exploitative scene. Even more troublingly, Andrés Goteira’s coldly smug Dhogs disingenuously highlighted the sadism of voyeuristic audiences while indulging in the nasty abuse of its female-survivor character, and in her degradation from attractive, free-spirited, sexually liberated woman to humiliated, whimpering, multiply brutalised victim. It is a point that could have been made with less misogyny, and more originality.
In contrast, writer-director Simon Rumley offered a stylish, intricate and richly faceted portrayal of a woman in meltdown in Fashionista. The obstacles that April must overcome may not be quite as dramatic as the ones listed above, but they are no less painful and destructive. A fetishistic lover of clothes, April loses sight of herself after a terrible betrayal and must fight for her psychological survival. Amanda Fuller, who was the heart of Rumley’s excellent Red White and Blue, gives an achingly raw performance, its emotional power augmented by the fragmented editing – the film is dedicated to Nic Roeg and its style recalls Bad Timing in particular. Although the concluding message is a little simplistic, overall Fashionista is an affecting exploration of heartbreak and fragile self-fashioning, shot through with disturbing intimations of the darkness that runs just under the surface of everyday life.
THE MISKATONIC INSTITUTE OF HORROR STUDIES – NEW LONDON PROGRAMME REVEALED FOR AUTUMN 2017
The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – London returns to the Horse Hospital from September to December this year for a new term of film seminars, covering a range of exciting and esoteric topics, led by renowned critical luminaries from the world of fantastique and horror cinema. After closing the spring season last May with author John Cussans’s sold out class, Chimerical Optics: Haiti, Colonialism and Voodoo Terror, a new programme of provocative and thrilling lectures awaits daring audiences.
The term will launch with a seminar examining the oft-misunderstood auteur of the French fantastique, Jean Rollin, hosted by Miskatonic London co-director and Electric Sheep Magazine editor Virginie Sélavy and genre journalist Marcelle Perks (Fangoria, Kamera, The Guardian), from Germany. Both presenters are contributors to the new book Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin, which reappraises Rollin’s oeuvre from a uniquely female perspective.
In October, expert film critic and prolific author Kim Newman discusses various current and historical approaches to the criticism of what Michael Weldon termed ‘psychotronic cinema,’ and the role of the independent curator in shaping this discourse. This event will also launch his new book, Video Dungeon, published by Titan Books.
November will see Nag Vladermersky, Director of the London International Animation Festival, examining the largely untapped history of horror in animation, including some rarities from the LIAF vaults. We will close the season – rather fittingly – with a celebration of holiday horror as renowned author and musician (Coil) Stephen Thrower, broadcast scholar Derek Johnston and special guests, talk Santa slashers and ghost stories for Christmas to coincide with the new book Yuletide Terror: Christmas Horror on Film and Television. This festive-themed conclusion will also feature the UK premiere of a new Christmas horror short called We Always Find Ourselves in the Sea, written and directed by Sean Hogan in the wintry tradition of the classic M.R. James hearthside tales.
Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is a non-profit, community-based organisation that started in Winnipeg and Montreal, Canada, founded by Kier-La Janisse in March of 2010. Miskatonic London operates under the co-direction of Kier-La Janisse and Virginie Sélavy.
All classes take place at the historic Horse Hospital, the heart of the city’s underground culture. Registration for the full season is £35. Individual class tickets are £10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concessions and will be available 30 days in advance of each class.
For the full details of the courses please check the Miskatonic website. For all enquiries, please email Miskatonic.email@example.com.
On Monday 7 August 2017, Electric Sheep‘s Managing Editor Pamela Jahn, Allan Hunter (Screen International) and Boyd van Hoeij (The Hollywood Reporter) took part in a panel of international film journalists to discuss five Swiss productions in this year’s Locarno Festival programme with SWISS FILMS director Catherine Ann Berger. The films included:
Goliath by Dominik Locher (International Competition)
Those Who Are Fine by Cyril Schäublin (Cineasti del Presente)
The Song of Scorpions by Anup Singh (Piazza Grande)
The Divine Order by Petra Volpe (Panorama Suisse)
The Congo Tribunal by Milo Rau (Semaine de la Critique)
Horror Channel FrightFest 2017 returns to the West End this year, with a packed programme of 63 films including 17 World, 20 European and 17 UK Premieres. Here’s the line-up announcement from FrightFest:
‘Back in the heart of London’s West End for its 18th ‘adults-only’ anniversary, the world renowned horror and fantasy film festival will take place at the Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema from Aug 24 – Aug 28 2017, taking over five screens to present 63 films including 17 World, 20 European and 17 UK Premieres. Fourteen countries are represented spanning five continents, reflecting the current global popularity of the genre.
The opening night attraction is the World Premiere of Universal’s criminally entertaining CULT OF CHUCKY, with director Don Mancini and stars Jennifer Tilly and Fiona Dourif in attendance, alongside the iconic deadly doll of destruction himself.
Mancini said: “It’s a true pleasure to be hosting the world’s first screening of Cult of Chucky at FrightFest. I have fond memories of unveiling Curse of Chucky there in 2013 so it’s great to be returning to the UK’s acknowledged home of horror – especially as this film picks up from where Curse…left off.”
Two more of the horror genre’s most popular and beloved franchises are given their World Premieres: To celebrate a decade of his cursed Victor Crowley creation, writer/director Adam Green is returning to FrightFest with a version of HATCHET never seen before. Plus, there is a presentation of Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s LEATHERFACE, the stunning prequel to the terror classic THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE.
FrightFest unveiled a bright new directorial talent when it screened Tyler McIntyre’s PATCHWORK at the Glasgow Film Festival and the closing night film is the European premiere of his amazing TRAGEDY GIRLS, where HEATHERS meets SCREAM in a dream combo. It stars super-powered heroines Alexandra Shipp and Brianna Hildebrand.
FrightFest also welcomes back Adam Wingard with the World Premiere of his supernatural manga DEATH NOTE, Joe Lynch with the European Premiere of his highly infectious action thriller MAYHEM, Mickey Keating with the European Premiere of his eye-shattering PSYCHOPATHS, Graham Skipper with the European Premiere of his surreal sci-fi romance SEQUENCE BREAK and genre favourite Barbara Crampton, who stars in Norbert Kell’s skin-crawler REPLACE, receiving its UK Premiere.
In a programme packed with innovation, uniqueness and individuality, other tips of the ice-pick are Ryan Prows’ powerful cult-in-waiting LOWLIFE, Trent Haaga’s stunning 68 KILL, high voltage THE VILLAINESS hot from Cannes, Alex de la Iglesia’s bleakly comic THE BAR, Miguel Angel Vivas’ remake of the French extreme thriller INSIDE, Daniele Misischia’s undead Romageddon THE END? Todd Tuckers’ affectionately creepy THE TERROR OF HALLOWS EVE, Brandon Christensen’s terrifying STILL/BORN, Sebastien Landry & Laurence Morais-Lagace’s head-exploding GAME OF DEATH, Kurtis David Harder’s provocative sci-fi horror INCONTROL and Royce Gorsuch’s kaleidoscopic mindbender MINDHACK.
Continuing the festival’s important and vital commitment to highlighting the cream of the homegrown crop, our British strand is well-populated with World Premieres for Dominic Brunt’s perverted shocker ATTACK OF THE ADULT BABIES, Christian James’ prison-set bloodsucker comedy FANGED UP and Matthew Heaven’s scorching revenge study ACCOUNTABLE. There are also European Premieres for Dominic Bridge’s debut dark morality tale FREEHOLD, Tom Paton’s nerve-shredding REDWOOD and Benjamin Barfoot’s hilariously blood-soaked DOUBLE DATE. And the ‘First Blood’ strand Is back on the menu with five tasty titles:, actor Jason Flemyng’s blood-sucking feature debut EAT LOCALS, Louis Melville’s squaddie shocker BOOTS ON THE GROUND, Hendrik Faller’s ice-cold thriller MOUNTAIN FEVER, Michaël Boucherie’s tattoo-terror WHERE THE SKIN LIES and Peter Stray’s alien-invading black comedy CANARIES.
The festival’s accent on rising talent is further enriched with Preston DeFrancis’ extreme slasher RUIN ME, Natasha Kermani’s sci-fi gender-blender IMITATION GIRL, Clay Staub’s supernatural detective thriller DEVIL’S GATE, Caroline Labrèche and Steeve Léonard’s mesmerising RADIUS, Samuel Galli’s devilishly shocking OUR EVIL, Andrés Goteira’s dazzling DHOGS, David Chirchirillo’s Tinder Terror GOOD MATCH, Tini Tuellman’s spine-chilling psycho suspense thriller FREDDY/EDDY, Haritz Zubillaga’s car-killing giallo THE GLASS COFFIN, Scott Poiley’s chiller EXHUME, Adam Graveley’s Aussie outback shocker 3RD NIGHT, Michael Mongillo’s audacious and haunting DIANE, Peter Ricq’s stark comedy DEAD SHACK and Carlos Algara and Alejandro Martinez-Beltran’s gripping psychological twister VERONICA.
Three documentaries will receive their eagerly awaited premieres at FrightFest this year. KING COHEN: THE WILD WORLD OF FILMMAKER LARRY COHEN is a dazzling career overview of the maverick director behind such classic horrors as IT’S ALIVE, Q THE WINGED SERPENT, fantasy television series like ‘The Invaders’, HELL UP IN HARLEM Blaxploitation, recent releases CELLULAR and soon the MANIAC COP remake. We welcome back on screen Kane Hodder, everyone’s favourite Jason Voorhees in the FRIDAY THE 13th series, with his moving and eye-opening TO HELL AND BACK: THE KANE HODDER STORY. Finally there’s the extraordinary MANSFIELD 66/67, a super Hollywood Babylon-style whisk through the final years of movie goddess Jayne Mansfield’s life and untimely, possibly Satanic, death.
Other attractions include Emilia Clarke in VOICE FROM THE STONE, Robert Englund in NIGHTWORLD, the French graphic novel adaptation ALONE, the outrageous gore-fest MEATBALL MACHINE KODOKU, the Aussie chiller KILLING GROUND, the hilarious TOP KNOT DETECTIVE and the Japanese TV series ‘Crows’ Blood’. Plus two FrightFest Glasgow hits are being rescreened: Simon Rumley’s FASHIONISTA and Colin Minihan’s IT STAINS THE SANDS RED.
This year’s retrospective restoration strand highlights the underrated British horror DREAM DEMON, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III, two classic Hammers, BLOOD FROM THE MUMMY’S TOMB and DEMONS OF THE MIND, plus the longest version found of the seminal proto-giallo DEATH LAID AN EGG, lovingly restored by Nucleus Films’ Jake West and Marc Morris.
The Duke Mitchell Film Club is back with a hosted presentation of the UK premiere of Stefan Ruzowsky’s COLD HELL, a gripping serial killer thriller.
Alan Jones, co-director of FrightFest, said today: “The whole cinema landscape is changing and Horror Channel FrightFest is listening. We know the fans want to see the films first, see them fast and see them in an environment that is second to none. That’s why we have what we believe is the finest line-up ever assembled and are showcasing the superlative selection in premium surroundings. So, the West End becomes the Dark Heart of London once again. And we’ve made it to our 18th birthday. It’s going to be quite some party.”
Festival and day pass sales will go on sale Sat 1 July at noon and and are only available to buy on the FrightFest website.
Single tickets will go on sale on Sat 29 July from 9am.’
For full programme details amd timetables go to the FrightFest website.