Category Archives: Gothic

Byzantium (2012)

Director: Neil Jordan
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Saoirse Ronan, Sam Riley, Caleb Landry-Jones  .UK. 1h 58m

Every few years vampires find themselves reinvented and they refuse to remove their fangs from our necks. Jim Jarmusch swung back with Only Lovers Left Alive, a revival of the romantic mixed with his own take on the eternal blood sucking genre, and it’s been two decades since Interview with a Vampire, the film that made millions swoon…

Byzantium switches between modern day and yesteryear through dreamy sequences and guttural gore as Gemma Arterton, often dolled up in numerous sexy outfits, and her supposed daughter Saoise Ronan play vampires who after years of running from hunters, end up in a dead end seaside town.  After shacking up with a timid hotelier, Daniel Mays, they set up their own brothel in his shabby establishment.

By the time the girls have settled into their new home, the authorities are taking an interest in them, but these agents have a good idea of the monsters lurking within the innocent faces and they are highly equipped to track down these undead wenches in order to make them more dead.

The strange unsettling drama will always been known as one of the new wave of modern neon movies, at times it sets itself among vibrant titles like Into the Void (20??), and yet there’s a creepy nostalgia when remote waterfalls turn into torrents of blood, but as the girls struggle through adversity in the 19th and 20th century, with and without corsets, the compelling story of power and hunger has a heavy feminist subtext that adds weight to the already fantastic adventure.  The girls are very unique from other vampires, while they are super strong and have acute senses, but their tool of the trade is a retractable fingernail which they use to kill, with this slightly feline temperament and talons the movie oozes yet another feminine thread.

” I’m never merciful, and knowledge is a fatal thing.”

-Clara

The story often stops and starts, falling over its own timeline, the girls seem to spend a lot of time sandboxing, falling in love with sick boys, updating their fries, struggling with the school system and the bittersweet gothic backstory determines why the girls hate men so much. But with such a long play time it seems to take a long time to describe what we have already guessed, and yet we still don’t really know where they are intending to go.

Certainly one for those who like a bit of mysticism and pretty visuals as much as a compelling story but don’t expect to have too many memories of the film other than pretty visuals as it frustratingly loses its personality along the way.

Rating: 6/10

TLDR

Related: Only Lovers Left Alive (2013), Enter the Void (2009)
Lists: Vampire romances Vol 1, Neon Cinema
Spotlight:  Sam Riley, Caleb Landry Jones

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Trailer

Here Comes Hell (2019)

Director: Jack McHenry
Starring: Tom Bailey, Maureen Bennett, Alfred Bradle, Robert Llewellyn, Timothy Renouf, Charlie Robb, Jessica Webber. UK. 1h 20m

Genre bending comedy horror doesn’t get much better than this frightful mini epic. Here Comes Hell, sees a small group of gorgeous 1930’s socialites hooking up to see one of their friends’ new purchases, which just happens to be a charming haunted mansion located deep in the British wilderness. The party includes a seance as getting a psychic grandma in on your party is thought to be terribly fun.

Continue reading Here Comes Hell (2019)

Crimson Peak (2015)

Director: Guillermo Del Toro
Starring:Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Tom Hiddleston, Charlie Hunnam. USA. 1h 59m

With the lack of modern genuine gothic literature making it to the big screen, Crimson Peak had a lot to make up for, however despite it’s well crafted story, delicious cast amongst opulent sets, I wasn’t blown away by this epic ghost story. There’s a massive divide between Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish and American work. Crimson Peak battles with its style and substance, for the most part it will wow it’s audience with an oil slick blend of colours but it seems to pluck the worse elements of gothic literature to mix but remains true and doesn’t step a foot out of the box. Continue reading Crimson Peak (2015)

The Asphyx (1972/3)

Director: Peter Newbrook.
Starring. Robert Powell, Robert Stephens, Jane Lapotaire, Alex Scott, Ralph Arliss. USA. 1h 39m.

A moralistic story written with a heavy gothic horror backdrop by Christina and Laurence Beers has been cleverly adapted by Peter Newbrook in a pseudo Hammer Horror-esque style. In a large opulent mansion a brilliant Victorian scientist becomes obsessed with the idea of becoming immortal. Continue reading The Asphyx (1972/3)

The Canal (2014)

Director: Ivan Kavanagh
Starring: Rupertt Evans, Anatonia Campbell-Hughes, Hannah Hoekstra, Kelly Bryne. UK. 1h 32m

A paranoid love story inflames within the confined walls of a haunted house, but not just any ghost is lingering in the shadows, it’s the ghost of a violent killer. This is enough to make any film spooky but Canal just end up dragging out the age a repetition of the same old suspense scenes and delivers little else. Written like a gothic novel and presented as a bleak drama with added Ring (1998) style ghostly scares, and The Red Shoes (2005) style red herrings, the film attempts to blur the lines between the supernatural and a genuine psychological thriller.. Shrouded in the historical mysteries of the house and deluded paranoia, the film packs a punch (be it a weak love tap) on two sides of the horror spectrum simultaneously, this can easily be mistaken as a confused Continue reading The Canal (2014)

Ghost Stories (2017)

Director:Jeremy Dyson, Andy Nyman
Starring: Andy Nyman, Paul Whitehouse, Alex Lawther, Martin Freeman. UK. 1h 32m

By the time I had seen the trailer for this movie it was already being slated by a lot of the horror community, apparently it just isn’t scary enough, and looking back I can see where they are coming from, while I wholeheartedly disagree. If I were 18-19 and now venturing into the horrific side of cinema I think I would also be confused and high disappointed but this drama based horror, my hype train would be derailed and I left in tears.

There’s nothing quite like Ghost Stories out in the market today, there are no strange Swedish cults, no crazy CGI monsters, and no hint whatsoever of creepy clowns or a Sharknado. The main reason, well it’s based on a stage play and therefore it won’t be like all the rest, it’s been dutifully adapted in a pretty sensitive manner to really play off the original stag setting. The star of the production a character named Phillip Goodman (Nyman), speaks to the audience about his history and current job, which involves poo pooing the cold readers, fake psychics and charlatans who fool us into believing there’s an afterlife and a paranormal world around us, is this the life of Darren Brown? Continue reading Ghost Stories (2017)

Ghostland (2018)

Director: Pascal Laugier.
Starring: Taylor Hickson, Anastasia Philips, Kevin Power, Rob Archer, Mylene Farmer, Crystal Reed, Emilia Jones, USA. 1h 31m.

Pascals past record, in my opinion is chequered, in his early career he assisted on one of the most perfect films ever made, Le Pacte Des Loups (2001) he broke the mold and may stomachs with the New French Extreme visceral classic, Martyrs (2008) then let me down with the confusing and long winding, No Slender Man tale of the Tall Man (2012), but he’s come back swinging with a perfect blend of all the best psychological and physical horror from his past, with a sublime film that gives the creeps and will rattle a few cages along the way. His approach to this twisting tale is unique in that it plays on a strange story this is presented from different perspectives each slipping in and out of each other seamlessly but the dynamics are hauntingly beautiful and yet covered in as much nostalgic creepiness as the house it’s set in.

The two young sisters at the centre of this film, couldn’t be more different, Beth (Reed/Jones) is a sensitive horror writer, always lost in her thoughts about Lovecraft inspired texts but faints at the sight of blood, her ballsy sister is pretty awesome, hot tempered and ready for a fight but they are sisters, just so different the fiery Vera (Philips/Hickson) is a delight. Continue reading Ghostland (2018)

L’sola defli uomini pesce / Island of the Fishmen AKA Screamers (1979)

Director: Sergio Martino.
Starring. Barbara Bach, Joseph Cotten, Richard Johnson. Italy. 1h 40m.

Somewhere in this science fiction fantasy horror, there is a great director who’s floundering out of his depths. Martino has some crackers under his belt including All the Colours of the Dark (1972).

Starting with a murder is always the best way to start a Giallo and Martino with all this previous experience kept to his tradition, a couple embark on a shifty night time mission to find hidden treasures, only to be met with clawed fish hands and bloody death in the (surprisingly well lit) dank caves of an unknown island, along with their mercenary crew who are slaughtered by the same hands along the shore. A short while later in 1891 a military doctor Lieutenant Claude de Ross (Claudio Cassinelli) survives not one but two shipwrecks and ends up on a mysterious island with a handful of prisoners survived with him. On this strange isle the are faced with hunger and some of the convicts meet grisley ends with the fishmen and the survivors flee into the jungle only to encounter Edmond Rackham (Johnson) who’s a sadistic douchebag who’s on a power hungry ego trip, alongside him is a stunning captive, Amanda (Bach). Continue reading L’sola defli uomini pesce / Island of the Fishmen AKA Screamers (1979)

Frankenstein Vs The Mummy (2015)

Director: Daniel Leone
Starring: Constantin Tripes,Ashton Leigh, Max Rhyser, Brandon deSpain, Boomer Tibbs. USA. 1h 45m

I find it’s adorable that this century old story is still influencing directors today, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has been one of my all time favourite novels since I was a wee bearn, and the ancient histories of North Africa has been a huge influence, both villains have been huge horror characters since cinema began and finally they meet in the dank basement of an American University in this sketchy horror, it could have flourished into something with more substance but is still entertaining, more so than others in the genre but don’t expect your socks to be blown off.

Heavily inspired by the Gothic novella and possibly a few Hammer Horrors in between, this tepid horror attempts to pull together two monsters for an epic battle but totally misses its own mark and churns out a terrible romance story which slows the movie down and doesn’t give much space to maneuver these foes. Continue reading Frankenstein Vs The Mummy (2015)

The Nun (2018)

Director: Corin Hardy.
Starring. Taissa Farmigna, Demian Bichir, Bonnie Aarons, Jonas Bloquet. USA. 1h 36m.

Supposedly the most terrifying chapter of the Conjuring Universe!! *queue the dramatic music* We have the NUN!!! *queue lightning and scary sound effects* But they say that about every new Conjuring related movie.

The Conjuring turned out to be a pretty decent horror movie a touch of class and a dash of “run of the mill” but overall it had a mix of scares and thrills which really enthralled it’s audience, detailing a real life couple who get their pleasures from investigating hauntings and other paranormal events. In their debut they mentioned Annabelle, a haunted doll unlike any other, and her short creepy clip gave way to a full length movie, which did ok, my only gripe is that it really should have featured a doll which resembled the original. But after the abysmal rendition of the Enfield haunting which was subject of the Conjuring 2, a new unrelated character got shoehorned into the mix, a rather scary Nun, and now she has her centre stage, but sadly she doesn’t get to play much in her own film. Continue reading The Nun (2018)