Page 1




Hello everyone,

Editor’s note

Welcome to the Halloween issue of BigLens! There is a new team of editors stepping up to the podium with skills sharper than Freddy Krueger’s claws! But that’s not all that is new: there is also a fully functioning blog ( We have finally stepped into cyberspace, giving you more scope to debate, discuss and generally revel in the film world. But all this new, shiny, wonderfulness does not stop here, we also have some new writers typing away for us. This issue has everything from horror’s humble beginnings with Hammer studios and great granddad Nosferatu (everyone has the one strange relative…) and then delves into the sheer terror of High School Musical and the problem with us kids today! There is even some ‘veggie’ horror for those of you preemptively cowering behind the sofa at the thought of Halloween. There really is a little bit of everything here, but if there’s something you see and think “WHAT!? How could they not discuss Cabin in the Woods” (or whatever it is) then send us an email and get it on the blog! There are more ways than ever to get your opinions and rants out there. So this Halloween keep this issue to hand and remember, don’t go into that ominous, dark forest, no, you shouldn’t go investigate that menacing noise and yes, you should all stick together! Here’s hoping you all keep your heads! Until next time… Keep it reel! (Couldn’t resist a pun that killer in the Halloween issue…) Lauren Tildsley.

SMALL PRINT Editor: Lauren Tildsley Editor: Jess Bashford Editor: Patrick Doolittle Editor: Harriet Cash Editor: Joe Buckley Art Editor: Laura Naude

If you have a passion for film and would like to contribute to BIGLENS, please email us! BIGLENS is produced with the support of Kent Film, a society of the University of Kent Students’ Union. All information is provided in good faith. Articles are not necessarily the opinions of the editors of BIGLENS, of the Kent Film Society or of Kent Union. Everything that is already copyrighted, is theirs. Everything not, is the intellectual property of the individual writer, so no thieving.




As Halloween dawns upon us it’s time to get into the spirit of paranoia by ditching the rom-coms and cracking open a movie that will satisfy our hunger for ghosts, ghouls, and zombies. To quench this thirst for the blissfully horrific the perfect film must be chosen. This sounds like an easy task for you film boffins out there, but for everyone else there is the eminent danger of selecting one of the thousands of terrible (and I do mean utterly atrocious) ‘scary’ movies lurking on shop shelves. Every October some of you will be tricked by these abominations into wasting an hour and a half of your time watching a predictable, boring feature filled with cheap jump-scares, god-awful acting, and about as much subtlety as an axe to the face. But do not despair. There are plenty of frights to be had from a number of amazing horrors that you may well have overlooked in the past. So clamber out from behind the sofa and clutch onto your cushions as I take you through the “Beginners Guide to Horror.” We will begin with potentially the most exploited of all horror sub-genres: the slasher film. For all you gore fanatics, this is the category for you. The emphasis in these features is the mutilation of its characters, usually with as few survivors as possible. These are the types of horror where we find ourselves laughing at the ridiculously idiotic stock characters who decide to “split up” or investigate a strange noise down an unusually long and dark corridor. The Cabin in the Woods does a great job at mocking these overplayed clichés. There remain some gems, however, that deserve a watch as they still stand the test of time. Titles that spring to mind include A Nightmare on Elm Street, Halloween (the 1978 original), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and, to a lesser extent, Scream. For all you zombie lovers, I would recommend one of the classic George A. Romero “Dead” flicks. Although this too can be a little risky. Stick to the timeless classics such as Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead or Dawn of the Dead (the 2004 Zack Snyder version isn’t terrible either,) and avoid the stinkers like Diary of the Dead. The scariest thing about these undead masterpieces is not the zombies themselves, but what they say about human nature, consumerism, our ethics, and the fact that they question whether we are more monstrous than the monsters. These are zombie movies with the brains to do more than just throw a few walking cadavers in your face; they scare you into questioning yourself and the friends you watch them with. But if you aren’t looking to think too hard about your zombie films, then there are still plenty of flesh eating antics to be enjoyed.

The Found Footage film category has remained popular since 1999. These films encompass the likes of The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield, and the Paranormal Activity series. They have been exceptionally successful in the box office, though are rarely critical cherries with the experts. Perhaps their success can be put down to the fact that they immerse their audiences in their attempts to portray realism. These types of films are usually made with small budgets, so do not expect to see much, or indeed any, of the apparitions or monsters. However, as all lovers of horror know it is the anticipation of the creatures attack, rather than the attack itself, which terrifies us. They generally make use of psychological horror as an effective means of disturbing viewers. For individual viewing I would recommend the original Paranormal Activity, and with a group of friends the more action orientated and violent Spanish film [Rec]. Then there are the movies which need no introduction- the horror films that are mandatory viewing, all the titles you will have at least heard of. These are the films guaranteed to put a shiver down your spine. The most prominent examples are, of course, William Friedkin’s The Exorcist and Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Other entries in this category include Ridley Scott’s Alien, John Carpenter’s The Thing and Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (being shown at the Gulbenkian on Halloween), all of which come highly recommended by yours truly and, well, everyone else who has had the pleasure of watching them. That wraps up this “Beginners Guide to Horror”. Not everything could be covered, but you now know some of the categories of horror films and a few of the classics within each to get you started. Follow this guide’s advice and you are sure to have a great Halloween movie night in with your chums. Ignore it at your peril, but don’t blame me when you inadvertently end up sitting through the infamous Troll 2. It’s not a pretty sight…. Give me mutilation over that any day!

The Beginner’s Guide to Horror


Samuel Ayling


NOSFERATU The Grandfather of Horror

The plot follows the terrorizing of Thomas Hutter (Gustav von Wangenheim) an employee of Reinfeld the estate agent, who is sent to Transylvania to meet a new client (Count Orlock) and possible future resident of Bremen. With a backdrop of macabre in the air and an unknown spreading disease where the signifying symptoms are two unusual scars on the patients neck, Hutter journeys from safety to confused terror visiting the deserted castle on search of business. Setting in motion a chain of events which lead Count Orlock to settle down in Hutter’s home town, a path of darkness and death is carved leaving the crew of Orlock’s voyage ship and also many residents of his new preying ground, victim to his evil ways. Hutter’s wife is last to encounter this freak of nature in a powerful scene depicting the shadow of the Nosferatu reaching up into his victims heart. However when all seems lost, the poor damsel is saved by sunlight! The one true enemy of the vampire, viewers may witness one of the first ever depictions of a vampires death. Orlock disappears into thin air leaving only a supernatural mist and a legacy of horror. The film portrays a contrasting interplay between realism and expressionism that combine to create a visually stunning depiction that holds a hypnotic power over the viewer. It is also rather innovative in its employment of various techniques such as the manipulation of film speed and shooting in photo negative. All aspects focused on creating scenes that play with the viewer’s imagination. Like much silent film acting, the characters of Nosferatu may strike modern audiences as simplistic or even ridiculous. Acting techniques that were common before synchronized recorded sound helped the audience to understand the feelings being portrayed through an emphasis on body language and facial expression. For some this may be taxing but arguably this creates an otherworldly aesthetic phenomenon far removed from the acting we find in film today. Admittedly the effect is more theatrical than terrifying, but with subtlety of expression only developing later in the history of film we must at least admire the lengths in which this film goes in order to create an atmosphere of terror and suspense.

This struggle for existence creates an added air of mystery and myth about a film that seems already to come out of a ghostly and faded world.

The depiction of vampires in today’s popular culture can often seem an overworked theme. We can see the same recurrent motifs appearing in films we consider as cult classics; such as Lost Boys (1987) and also some we may consider romantic trash Twilight (2008). Nevertheless, the vampire film has been a stock horror genre ever since the days of silent films. Representations like Nosferatu help us uncover the beginnings from which today’s developments to the genre originated. Upon watching this relic of a film, if you get the feeling that everything is rather cliché and predictable, this is quite normal. What is vital to remember though is that Nosferatu is one of the first in cinematic history to express these now common stereotypes. In essence we are watching a clearly defined, over theatrical demonstration of what it really means to be a vampire. The film may be lacking in its powers to shock and surprise the modern audience or ever create enough suspense to make you hide behind your pillow: but this does not mean Nosferatu is without its own strong points. The film’s age defying strengths lie within a powerful use of lighting and shadows, its influential use of location and the iconic and harrowing visage of Count Orlock (Max Shreck) that sticks deep within the audiences mind long after watching Nosferatu. The film is a must see for enthusiasts of the horror genre as well as any vampire fans, or even if you are just wanting to get a kick out of how absurd these early silent films seem in comparison to the movies we watch today. Whatever the reason, with a Halloween issue of the BigLens at hand, one would only hope we all consider one of the great grandfathers of the horror tradition even if we only choose to brush past him to his more thrilling and vigorous offspring. Originally a straightforward adaptation of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, Nosferatu was forced to change its plot and characters due to its failed acquisition of film rights. Dracula is substituted for Count Orlock and the gothic streets of London are replaced with the rural German village town of Bremen. Nonetheless, this production by Prana film was issued for destruction by German courts. Yet here we are today, able to pick up various copies of the film that have been salvaged from the surviving negatives. Enduring its own era through to the modern day, it is only by luck that we have it available to view. This struggle for existence creates an added air of mystery and myth about a film that seems already to come out of a ghostly and faded world.

Jim Kersey Nosferatu(1922) | Prana film



It’s so Fluffy I’m Gunna Die! I’m writing this piece for those who aren’t the biggest horror enthusiasts around. Nevertheless, does this make my film taste ‘wussy’? I think not. In fact I would say I’m almost one to dislike the morally reproachful, bright and sunny, family films. Those films that are dunked in pseudo-philosophy and sugared in feel good montages, that they end up just as warped as one of Stephen King’s best attempts. Here I have picked a few of these icky- sticky niceties that came to mind…

The High School Musical Films, 2006-‘08 (Yes, all of them)

High School Musical has no shame when it comes to adding a bit too much Americanized family advice than it ever should have. The plot lines surrounding the two leads, (Zach Efron as Troy Bolton and Vanessa Hudgens as Gabriella Montez), is a nonsensical wash that somehow serves as an excuse for an encouraging heart felt song every fifteen minutes. For those of you who have steered clear of this Disney franchise, let me relate to you the basics: Troy Bolton is Mr. Everything. He has the winning smile, a flair for basketball, and enough charm to be wanted by all the girls. However he is undergoing an identity crisis when he meets Gabriella, who brings out the inner performer in him. (That’s right he can sing too.) Oh and they fall in love, did I forget to mention that? And yet in every film there is a song dedicated to Efron stomping around, sometimes whilst bouncing a basketball, wondering who he is and how hard his decisions are. What concerns me most is how a guy who has a basketball court in his back yard can be so depressed? Well fret not there is an encouraging song just around the corner.

Those films that are dunked in pseudo-philosophy and sugared in feel good montages, that they end up just as warped as one of Stephen King’s best attempts

City of Angels (1998)

This romance starring Meg Ryan and Nicholas Cage is one of those films I originally watched because of the soundtrack, expecting the content to be just as awesome. Alas, there was nothing ‘Goo goo dolls’ about this film at all. Originally based on Wim Winder’s book ‘Wings of Desire’, this film tells the story of Seth, an angel of Los Angeles (Nicholas Cage), who becomes infatuated with heart surgeon ‘Maggie Rice’ (Meg Ryan). These angels watch over the people of L.A. and help them in their transition to the after life. Cage plays a very sensitive sort (unsurprising since he’s an angel) and gives up his immortality in order to be with Meg Ryan completely. Admittedly, I’m not the biggest fan of Nicholas Cage’s gloomy face, but this film in particular had my eyes rolling all over the place. I couldn’t take much more when it came to the love scene, in Meg Ryan’s family cabin, by a fire and Cage’s naïve eyes staring into Meg Ryan’s to the point of creepiness. The epitome of whimsical, this film had me shuddering more than The Shining. It does have a good soundtrack though: one to listen to not watch.

A Cinderella Story (2004)

I had to get a ‘fairy-tale’ in here somewhere. A Cinderella Story is a remake of the original fairy tale where little Cinderella, in this case known as Sam Montgomery (Hillary Duff), is orphaned at a young age and taken in by her bully of a stepmother. In real life, this would be considered a real tragedy, however this isn’t the focus of the film. Sam, like most girls that age, is highly concerned with finding love, and subsequently starts cyber-dating her high school’s token ‘hottie’, cue Chad Michael Murray. In this world where there are only good, kind people and then naughty, evil people, Michael Murray’s character ‘Austin Ames’ enjoys talking to Duff as she seems to be the only genuinely lovely girl in the school. However, Sam longs to meet him in person, and luckily their school hosts an annual masquerade ball and so Sam and Austin meet in ‘disguise’ and have the best night of their lives. You get the picture. The script is full of clichés, candy cane colour scheme and pantomime like acting from Holly’s stepsisters. Obviously not to be taken seriously, but nonetheless, I worry for the many young girls who watch this film… Hannah Evans



Hammer Horror Hitting the Nail on the Head or into the Coffin?

Why do we find ourselves greeting today’s horror flicks with nothing but yawns and nit-picking criticism? Is it us or the films, or what? My dad assures me he was terrified of the horror films of his day. He watched the likes of The Omen with a terror that is simply alien to your average, young film buff of today. I, for one, couldn’t help howling with laughter even at The Human Centipede; surely a film involving an evil doctor surgically attaching three totally innocent captives, arseto-mouth, hardly constitutes light viewing? When you compare that to Christopher Lee’s silly red-eyed leer, are you not inclined, after a giggling a little, to see that, after all, the Hammer Dracula films were all just hilarious stoner movies in disguise? It seems as special effects improve, advancing further and further into ‘realer’ and ‘realer’ realism, we only grow more eager to dismiss what we are seeing as unconvincing. “That is so fake!” we cry. “As if that would ever happen!” we protest. But who is to blame for this? The film companies for making us so jaded? Reality television for getting our hopes up? The films for being dreadful? No, of course not. That is silly. What we must do is realise that just because many of us feel that film gives us more than a book does, that does not mean it gives us everything. A film, like any work of art, is nothing more than a big bundle of potential. The extent to which we enjoy a film is in direct relation to two things: our willingness to submit to the fiction and accept it as a temporary reality, and also to the capacity and fertility of our imagination. Music is the space between the notes—that is, the space which our mind, through being well-oiled and open, is able to create. The younger generation find horror films un-scary nowadays, not because they are no good but because, like the ageing clientele of a beautiful prostitute, we expect too much and give too little.

Matt Magee

FrFrankenstein (1931)| Universal Studios


Vampires. Werewolves. Zombies. Most of us love them. And most of us love Hammer Horror. That is, most would if the company were still as popular as they were back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. However, Hammer Horror films are gaining popularity again and are well-known as “Britain’s most famous gothic horror studio”. From 1939 to 1945, Hammer was not considered to be an active production company, as the two men in charge, Enrique Carreras and William Hands (a.k.a. Will Hammer) saw active service in WW2. In 1958, one of the most famous Hammer Horror films and one that is a brilliant example of gothic horror, was released – Horror of Dracula. This film caused Hammer Productions to shoot to fame, and also starred a man who became part of the “Hammer repertory company” – Christopher Lee. The Curse of Frankenstein was another famous gothic horror made by Hammer in the 50’s. Although, Universal Pictures had already made their own Frankenstein and Dracula movies in the 1930’s, audiences still loved these new adaptations of the famous monster tales. With a hugely successful run of other gothic monster movies, the company became known as “Hammer House of Horror”. In the 1960’s, Hollywood studios – Twentieth Century Fox, Universal and Columbia – began making production and distribution deals with Hammer, which lead to more gothic creativity – The Plague of Zombies. Also, in 1968, Hammer received the Queen’s Award for Industry, due to three years of financial success. Now, this is when things started to go downhill for Hammer... In 1971, the colour television arrived. Thus, the British Film Industry started to suffer financially due to a sharp decline in box-office revenues. To make matters worse, the “Hammer-formula” was becoming tired and, just as all genres go through mere phases of being the most popular, the world began to lose interest in gothic horror. By the 1980’s, Hammer was no longer a force in horror cinema, but found another outlet for their horror product: television. Although their series, known as Hammer House of Horror, was received quite well in the UK, it flopped in the US, as it was watered down by strict requirements of Twentieth Century Fox. With the arrival of the new millennium, things started to look up for Hammer. In 2007, there were various events to mark the company’s 50 years of horror productions. Also, Hammer changed hands and became backed by a 50 million dollar investment, leading to the company making films again for the first time in 30 years. Finally, after going from being one of the most popular companies in the world to being nearly finished for decades, Hammer are back and here to make audiences tremble with fear like they did in the 50’s. Since 2010, Hammer have released a number of popular horror films such as Let me in, Let the right one in, The Resident and Wake Wood. Most recently they released The Woman in Black, which did exceedingly well at the box-office, grossing over $54,000,000. Like so many of the monsters the company have portrayed in their movies, Hammer Horror Productions have finally risen from the grave... In 1958, one of the most famous Hammer Horror films and one that is a brilliant example of Laura Barton



J-Horror Remember when staying up past 10 o’clock made you the coolest kid on the playground? Bragging about sneaking into 12 rated films when it was totally just your dad getting you in? All of this pales in comparison to my mate Dan’s bragging rights. His dad had a collection of horror films and every other day he would come onto the playground and tell us about a new film he’d watched and we’d all gather around him like he was some sort of dark messiah. His summary of each of these films were essentially a description of the most horrific scenes phrased as eloquently as a 10 year old can (sometimes there were even sound effects), but I’ll never forget the day he described Audition by Takashi Miike. There’s something quite magical about seeing a class of 10 year olds’ reaction to that iconic scene in which “the lady puts pins in the man” but Dan was onto something. Not unlike western horrors, J-horror is a very visceral medium with fairly linear narratives. It also has its fair share of clichés too, opting for supernatural beings and misunderstood loners instead of murderous psychopaths and zombies. You’re probably wondering “if the scenarios can be described by a 10 year old then it’s probably not worth my time, right?” Not so fast. If you’ve never watched a J-Horror before it’s a breath of fresh air that Hollywood sorely needs. You’ve most likely seen a J-horror without even realizing. The Ring, The Grudge and Dark Water are just a few examples of films which started out in Japan with a more modest budget, often set in a district of Tokyo. The differences don’t end there though: the Japanese versions are significantly gorier.

Perhaps it was casual violence in feudal Japan that has influenced Japanese culture but the rating system “Eirin” is a lot more lenient when it comes to violence and entirely different to the BBFC. It’s not just over the top gore and violence that make these films different from their western equivalents though; the psychological themes throughout all them tend to take a scenario and really show it in a brutally honest light. Kinji Fukasaku’s Battle Royale is by no means lighthearted and makes The Hunger Games look like Twilight. The best part about it is it’s relatively realistic, so the threat feels plausible and you really sympathize with the characters involved. J-horror often follows these rules even when dabbling in the paranormal, showing them to us in a way we can relate to. All spirits in these films are generally represented by human forms and very few special effects are used. Saying that, these types of film represent only one of the many sub-categories of J-horror and there’s usually something for everyone. If you’re more into B-Movie Zom-com action that wastes no time taking itself seriously, then Wild Zero is your best bet, a story of three punk rocker bikers fighting off zombies and rocking out. If you fancy something with more of a vintage quality then the 70’s classic Hausu is a great Stanley Kubrick-esque classic haunted mansion tale. If I’ve actually done my job and raised your interest in J-horror and you’d like one film to sum up the entire genre, then you must see One Missed Call. Quite a lot has changed since I first heard Audition described to me in the playground, and yet, I still have no idea what the hell the villain’s motive was and that’s the beauty of J-horror. The physiological edge really adds something to horror that Hollywood lacks and places J-horror as a must-see for any cinema fan, especially with Halloween lurking…

Matt Gallagher



A Vegetarian Horror For those with a delicate stomach

Tensions rise as our intrepid protagonist cautiously treads down the narrow corridor. Eerie music builds with each step he takes, until he reaches the mysterious room. Opening the door warily, the uncomforting screech of rusted hinges is almost unbearable. Our protagonist steps into the dark room to discover the horrifying truth. Upon a bed lays the rotting corpse-like remains of several victims of a terrifying monster, left carelessly to rot away. The discarded remnants of once innocent pumpkins, carrots, aubergines, cucumbers and… wait hang on, what!? These are vegetables! Surely that can’t be right…?

Wallace and Gromit:Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005)| Aardman Animation

Not everyone is a fan of horror; some people just aren’t into the thrills of sitting through something that they know will scare them – which makes perfect sense when you think about it. Who really wants to watch people being tortured in one of the Saw films? So I’ve decided to provide an alternative film to watch this Halloween: one for families and, well, those who are just too scared! There are a lot of options for those of a more cowardly disposition at this time of year, and it seems that some of the best are of the clay variety. Famed for his gothic approach, Tim Burton is well known for venturing into stop-motion animation at this time of year with films including The Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride. Both of these make ideal viewing in the lead up to Burton’s upcoming feature-length version of Frankenweenie (which started out life as a live-action 30 minute short in 1984). Currently showing in cinemas is ParaNorman, another stop-motion film which comes to us from the studio behind 2009’s Coraline – a film unashamedly inspired by Burton. However the claymation family/ coward’s horror that I have selected as my pick of the pack isn’t a child of the Burton generation, in fact it’s one that comes from much closer to home: Aardman’s Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the WereRabbit. Cemented into our modern culture for being quintessentially British, the much loved man and dog duo, Wallace and Gromit need no introduction. Starting off in a number of cracking shorts (and wrong trousers – sorry, couldn’t resist) the lovable inventor duo finally took Hollywood for a spin in 2005 with their first feature-length film. The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – labelled as the world’s first vegetarian horror - sees the duo form ‘anti-pesto’: a company ridding the neighbourhood of rabbit infestations in the lead up to the annual giant vegetable competition. Suddenly they are put to the test when the legendary were-rabbit strikes the village, causing vegetable carnage in its wake. Can the duo get rid of the ultimate pest - saving the day, the town, the competition and most importantly, the veg? So perhaps you’re wondering why it is that I’ve picked this film; surely a Wallace & Gromit film of all things isn’t a horror? Well this outing certainly is. 14

Aside from feeling not unlike an Ealing comedy (you’ve just gotta love that unique British sense of humour), the film mostly takes heavy inspiration from numerous horror sources including the original 1930s Universal horror movement and the British based Hammer horror studios. Without even being scary, The Curse of the Were-Rabbit is undoubtedly a huge love-letter to the heritage of the horror genre, and a hilariously pun-tastic one at that. The only difference is that victims are vegetables, not hormonal and foolhardy teens. But why? What makes Wallace & Gromit and the other claymation films so special lies within the animation itself. There is something undeniably special and admirable about watching a well made stop-motion film because of the skill and craftsmanship that goes into each and every deeply rich shot. Part of the fun in watching something like Wallace & Gromit rests in the background of each shot. With brilliant puns and intricate details being slipped in at every possible opportunity, these films are instantly made re-watchable for the sets alone. Stop-motion filmmakers must also ensure that their scripts are as timeless and universal as possible in order to guarantee that they are still enjoyable when the long process of animation is complete (roughly a five year process). With such tight quality control how can you go possibly wrong? It’s detention for ParaNorman, and someone tell Mr. Burton to put his Frankenweenie away. If you want a non-scary alternative this Halloween – one that loves its genre and shows it in that unique way that only a British comedy can – then, for my money, no film is quite as ‘cracking’ as Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of Were-Rabbit.

Dave Startup

ParaNorman A quirky, intense animation based around an outsider named Norman who has the ability to interact with ghosts, which obviously results in him being bullied at school and casts awkwardness between him and his family. Spectators are plunged into an emotionally gripping bond with the young boy, feeling every inch of his sadness and desire to be accepted and listened to. It may appear to be just a simple haunting animation, but it is surprisingly deep and dark considering the protagonist is only a child. It’s like a rollercoaster of events that twist and turn your emotions in a way you wouldn’t expect from an animation. You can see the similarities in the dark storyline, between Paranorman and its maker’s predecessor Coraline. Certainly not a film for the younger generation to watch alone, even as a twenty year old I was still scared by certain aspects. Very thrilling and fantastically animated. Steph Vivian

ParaNorman (2012)| Laika Entertainment 15



BigLens 9.1  

The autumn edition of the University of Kent's film magazine. This is the horror issue, and is filled with insightful and interesting perspe...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you