Editorial A note from the editor “There’s no better excuse than Halloween to dress outrageously and have a great night out, or curl up with a scary film and your housemates for a great night in” -Tom Bedford
Deputy Editor Halloween-related culture is important, I’d argue far more so than Christmas nonsense. This issue will help you find out what to watch, listen to, play, or enjoy, but it misses one thing - how to fit it all in. You don’t want to be enjoying Halloween things in November, that’s just embarrasing. You’re going to need to watch all of Stranger Things, every horror film, listen to Monster Mash a hundred times, and you need to do it in the space of about fourty-eight hours. First of all, you can download Netflix programmes on your phone. If you’re sneaky, this means you can do all your viewing at the same time as doing other things, like being in your lectures. Secondly, you’ll need your tunes playing non-stop. Music will help you here, but Gaming also has some great mood pieces. Use headphones to completely ignore your friends and just listen to Thriller. Lastly, stay at home and don’t leave bed. You have more time to read our spooky Creative Writing pieces and as an added bonus, you’ll avoid all those annoying kids.
Welcome to my favourite Venue of the year: the Halloween issue. There’s no better excuse than Halloween to dress outrageoulsy and have a great night out, or curl up with a scary film and your housemates for a great night in. For those seeking a little Halloween inspiration, this week we’ve explored everything spooky in the world of culture. From our ten favourite scariest films to great works of art that haunt us, we’ve got you covered. If you’ve ever wondered how to dress as a googly-eyed monster for Halloween, look no further than our Fashion section. (If you’re feeling really stuck you could always take inspiration from Tom and I’s previous Halloween efforts, as pictured on this page…) If it’s a quieter Halloween in you’re looking for, our Television section has got some great spooky series for you to get your teeth into. See, I told you we’ve got you covered. Of course, the world of culture does not stop for Halloween, so we’ve included some great not-sospooky features too. Check out what our Film editor Gus thought of the London film festival on pages 14 and 15. For those thinking of visiting the new exhibition on Russian art at the Sainsbury centre, we give you a little taste of what you can expect on page 7. So whether you’re dressing up and going out, or dressing down and staying in, have a happy (and arts filled) Halloween!
Arts Editor - Mireia Molina Costa Film Editor - Gus Edgar Fashion Editor - Leah Marriott Creative Writing Editor - Saoirse Smith - Hogan Illustration (spider web and pumpkin) by Megan Furr
Venue Editor Gaming Editor - Charlie Nicholson Television Editor - Dan Struthers Music Editor - Nick Mason
Arts and Design Assitants - Yaiza Canopoli & Emily Mildren
Contents Halloween issue
24th October 2017
Tom Cascirini explores the ways Bacon and Much depict horror in their work
Venue’s film writers give us an insight into their favourite horror films
Hattie Griffiths gives us some slighty unconventional but very creative last minute Halloween costume ideas...
Ciara McIlvenna reviews Liam Gallagher’s “lyrically poor, musically brilliant new album”
Deputy editor Tom and Vince Gaffney list their all time favourite scariest game soundtracks
Gabriela Williams explains why seaon three of Lucifer is essential TV viewing this Halloween
Front and back cover credits: Caitlin Jenkins (photograph), Megan Furr (drawing)
Imogen Swash explores the theme of possession in her poetry
Gaming editor Charlie reports back from Nor Con, the nerdom event of the year
Apologies to Chris Matthews, who is the correct author of the poem The Meta Image, published in issue 341
Art that haunts us “The artist recalls that both the owner of the gallery and the first art critic that ever saw this painting died within a year of coming into contact with it...” Think of Scooby-Doo, old-fashioned haunted houses, Mona the vampire slayer- baddies pretending to be statues, of portraits with creepy eyes that follow you across the room. It’s a common old-timey Halloween trope (think of Will Smith’s masterpiece The Haunted Mansion) - the art is either sentient, a disguise or just plain out to get you. Doctor Who has the Weeping Angels who hurt you when you’re not looking at them, and countless other works of fiction have moving paintings, or haunted images. But can real life portraiture inspire the same fear or discomfort that a horror film or an actor-statue can? If paintings are meant to be beautiful, the peak of aesthetics, can they make us feel uncomfortable without being ‘ugly’? Banksy certainly thinks so: “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
If the job of so-called ‘scary art’ is to make us uncomfortable, then there are certainly some paintings that are universally claimed to achieve this: Edvard Munch’s Scream, for example. Unsettling art is no new concept - art that is frightening, not in the sense that it makes us jump or startles us but in a way that is more insidious: a successfully frightening portrait doesn’t scare you, it hijacks your imagination and makes you scare yourself. If we have created art for the aesthetics of viewing, of a way to attach meaning to an image; then the very notion that it may be looking back at you becomes terrifying. In February 2000, the ‘haunted’ 1972 painting by Bill Stoneham, The Hands Resist him (which I do not recommend looking up at night) appeared on eBay and eventually sold for over $1000. The artist recalls that both the owner of the gallery and the first art critic that ever saw this painting died within a year of coming into contact with it, and many who have seen it in real life claim to see the subjects of the painting move, or glare at them. The eerie nature of the painting and its legacy became something of an urban legend. Even worse than that is The Anguished Man, about which the owner Sean
Robinson claimed in 2010: “She (Robinson’s grandmother) told me the artist committed suicide shortly after finishing it and that he had used his own blood mixed in with the oils.” He goes on to describe a series of ‘haunting’ events so strange that he moved out of the house the portrait inhabited and back in with his parents - there are several videos online of these spectral activities. His most recent update has over 100,000 views (and is very creepy, real or not). If you’re feeling particularly brave and want some more examples of these so called ‘cursed portraits’ have a look at The Crying Boy by Bruno Amadio (which could not be set on fire) and The Portrait of Bernardo de Galvez, who watches youmuch in the vein of our favourite cartoon villains. Regardless of whether they are proof of ghosts or just urban legends, the scandal and attention over these particular portraits cannot be disputed. With our horror films, haunted houses and Halloween, sometimes it’s clear to see that we’re looking to, or let ourselves feel, fear. We will always place our own meaning, with our own imagination, on the art we observe (and the art that observes us…).
-Amy Atkinson Illustration (top): Yaiza Canopoli; Image (bottom): Flickr, Porche Brosseau
Bacon and Munch’s depiction of horror his subjects appearing to be forever trapped screaming in a noiseless canvas. Often painted with black backgrounds, smudged faces and distorted figures, pale bodies hanging from the faintly drawn lines of cages as if they are slabs of meat, you cannot help but feel in danger of slipping into Bacon’s bleak outlook on life that he appears to possess.
There is more horror to be found in life and reality than there is in a painting depicting blood, monsters or ghosts. There is something more worrying about an image that is frozen, immovable, and unable to be removed from your mind’s eye, than there is in a scene that may soon progress to a satisfying conclusion. There is a more alarming sense of fragility to be found in depicting pain, torture and suffering, or in depicting the ‘ghost’ of an emotion or memory that is mentally haunting the subject of a piece, than there is in sitting in a darkened cinema room waiting for the jump scare. You never know in a painting by Edvard Munch or Francis Bacon what the conclusion will be. Will the fearful adolescent girl make it through puberty without deep mental scars? Will the Pope be freed from its cage, as it sits with its knuckles clenched over the armrests of its throne? Are the two lovers, who have become so passionate that their faces have merged into one, going to be intertwined forever, they are so scared of losing each other?
But as much as Bacon is horrifying, his works have not much subtlety. They hit you in the face with their grotesqueness. Edvard Munch, on the other hand, is a much more subtle and masterful artist when it comes to portraying pain and torture. He was also a source of inspiration and influence for Bacon’s works, particularly in Munch’s use of skewed faces and figures that effectively represented the inner emotional turmoil of not just the sitter, but Munch as well, the most famous and notable example being The Scream. Munch understands that fear does not need to be depicted with such powerful, aggressive brushstrokes as Bacon uses, but can instead be portrayed with the tiniest marks. Take the girl in Munch’s Puberty, staring at you with her tiny, timid eyes. There is
something within those eyes, in Munch’s tiny brushstrokes, conveying fear on an epic, life-changing scale — namely, the fear of puberty. This feeling instilled within the viewer is then elevated through the earthy Rembrandt-esque lighting, and the presence of a grotesque, inhuman-looking shadow that seems to have attached itself to the girl. Just an absence of light, you say? Or the ghost of something haunting her? You cannot help but feel steadily uneasier the longer you look at the painting. Of course, it is a matter of preference which artist you like, be it Bacon’s distorted humanoid figures who look as if they are being tortured by a spiritual person or thing, or Munch’s symbolic portrayals of human fear and suffering. But to see such portrayals of fear in art can only be a good thing; for it is a human emotion, and is part of human nature. Bacon and Munch’s paintings can display empathy towards the viewer’s own sufferings, most notably with fear, and make the viewer not feel so alone in their emotions, for empathy in itself can help dwindle the feeling of horror.
The works of Francis Bacon, many of which still hang in the Sainsbury Centre, induce within the viewer the combined reaction of both intrigue and repulsion, Images (top to bottom): Wikimedia, Munch; Flickr, cea+
Mireia Molina Costa
‘Passport to art’ for students Earlier this month, Art Fund announced its new £5 Student Art Pass which offers university students a free or a discounted entry to over 240 cultural venues and 50 percent off the price of student entry to major exhibitions across the UK. Amongst others, one of the centres supporting the scheme is The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts. The year-long subscription is open to any university student in the UK who applies before the 10th December 2017. It also includes updates on the art scene nationwide, as well as specially programmed events to bring students closer to public museums and galleries. Collaborating with Youthsight, Art Fund surveyed 1,500 students finding an increase in engagement with extra-
curricular activities and creative thinking amongst young people, labelling it as the ‘Generation Sensible’ - 80 percent of them had visited a museum, gallery, theatre, art festival, ballet or opera performance. The pass aims to promote access to major art and visual culture opportunities to increasingly culturally curious students.
students from 22 universities across the country, including UEA, to benefit from a free Student Arts Pass. To apply, visit: artfund.org/student
-Mireia Molina Costa
“Every student in the UK should be able to easily and affordably access our museums, galleries and historic houses. They act as a stimulus and reference point for creative people everywhere and an infinite source of inspiration for all,” Stephen Deuchar, Art Fund’s Director, said. A range of funders including Cass Art and the Cass family have also enabled all first year students of the University of the Arts, London, and over 12,000 art
Could we be more involved?
The relaunch of the Art Fund Student Pass has once again drawn the importance of art, particularly for students, into conversation. Naturally, the talk surrounding such an opportunity isn’t all positive. Many people are left wondering at the necessity for such an offer, and debating how many students will actually use the facilities that Art Fund has worked so hard to make available.
And you know, to a degree, they might actually have a point. How many of us, as much as we’d like to, actually go to see and use all of the arts opportunities that we are offered? People and institutions have gone to such great lengths to allow us as students the opportunity to really connect with art at a public level, and we don’t use it. If we ignore the practical things like time constraints or even location, why is it that we don’t get the use out of these offers that we possibly should? Do we, Image: Art Fund
as it has been suggested, find these places of art and history, and our option to be so involved with them, intimidating? Or maybe we find the traditional stuffy gallery scene just that bit too boring for our party-centric student way of life?
The great thing about many museums and galleries is that they agree on that final part. It’s becoming more and more common for museums to create interactive exhibits or group-based activities to be involved in, in order to allow everyone to really connect with the pieces at hand. Perhaps the problem here is that they just aren’t focused on. If centres created more of an upbeat atmosphere surrounding these ‘alternative’ viewing methods, perhaps more people make use of the opportunity to view art. The same goes for the opportunity to really learn about art. Many places offer tours or talks, but they can be expensive or infrequent, which leads back to the intimidation many people can feel when discussing art. Again, this comes down
to a problem of publicity and attitude. If centres were to really make a point of the opportunity for learning more about art, they would not only encourage a wider audience, but also help to diminish the long-held image of elitism that is so often seen in the arts. This image of elitism and intimidation could be helped even more, however, if we were to stop discussing it. Maybe, if every time students receive such an interesting opportunity, instead of questioning the feelings surrounding it, we should make more of an effort to discuss the positives. We should be supporting young people who want to get involved, not highlighting the reasons that they shouldn’t or the problems that they might face. Art is important for so many reasons including relaxation, creativity, or empathy, so there’s no reason as to why anyone should feel intimidated by it. We just need to stop asking or discussing our options, and actually start using them.
Russia Season at the Sainsbury Centre
There is a strange red sculptural tower that has been erected outside the Sainsbury Centre. It is a new, unavoidable addition to the UEA grounds. This red monument is a symbol of the revolution, a monument to the future, a meeting of the creative and utilitarian. It is Tatlin’s Tower and was intended to be Russia’s Eiffel Tower. Offering a different perspective from every angle, this tower was designed to bestride the river in St Petersburg, broadcasting to the proletariat. However, its conception was never realised. But now on the 100th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, the Sainsbury Centre has installed a reconstruction as part of a dynamic new exhibition ‘Russia Season’ that confronts the polarities of Russia’s complex history.
Faberge egg, ‘The Basket of Flowers Egg’ (1901). This beautiful piece is formed with silver, gold, diamonds and enamel: the delicacy and precision of the Russian meadow bouquet is a breathtaking articulation of skill and the achievements of ornate Russian design (though a nightmare to dust).
Through art objects, the exhibition provides a sweeping narrative of Russian socio-cultural change defined as Pre and Post -Revolution. The viewer is first invited to peruse the purportedly benign decadence of royalty in the section dubbed ‘Royal Fabergé’. Then follows a tempestuous sea change, in the section ‘Radical Russia’. Here the avant garde artists smash conventions and embark on radical abstraction and constructivism driven by communist revolutionary zeal.
Indeed the exhibition provides a prime opportunity for dog spotting. These royal doggos are bountiful from Queen Victoria’s Pomeranian ‘Turi’ to Queen Alexandra’s Japanese Chin ‘Punch’. Of particular interest is the curatorial decision of incorporating an 8ft high reproduction on one wall of ‘Queen Alexandra and her Grandchildren and Her dogs’ (1902), where the painter seems to have given attention to dogs over grandchildren. Happily, Edward VII’s dog Caesar, the Norfolk Terrier, has his own display case featuring a charming, seemingly autobiographical book titled “Where’s Master? By Caesar the King’s Dog”.
This veritable menagerie of art has been sourced from numerous collections across the globe. Pieces have travelled from Russia (of course), Estonia, Latvia, Greece, and Scotland as well as a large array coming straight from the royal collection of Queen Elizabeth II. The exhibition takes great pains to emphasise the surprising connections between Russia and Norfolk. The home of Colman’s Mustard actually became the home of many congruent elements of the royal family. Sandringham Estate, an idyllic family retreat for Princess Alexandra is the focus of much of the exhibition. The main portion of the exhibition titled ‘Royal Fabergé’ seems to be a cumulative homage to Russian artistic endeavour. One of the most impressive pieces is an exquisite
The Royal Collection of Fabergé’s reveals a deep appreciation of animals and nature. We learn of Edward VII’s love of pigs and see an alarming array of seemingly possessed miniature animals with pinpoint, (literally) ruby red eyes. No animal is too customary or unexceptional for our monarch’s collection which includes a Fabergé slug and Fabergé pigeon.
The second part of the exhibition is of vast contrast. Radical Russia subverts the idealised past by immersing the viewer into Post-Revolutionary Russia. Titles such as ‘Proletarians of the Paintbrush’ detail an informative exploration of the Russian avant garde. Here is a wonderful opportunity to see paintings by Kandinksy and Gonchorava, propaganda photomontages by Gustav Klutsis, costume and stage designs for the ‘Maganimous Cuckold’ by Liubov Popova (complete with a moving reconstruction) and an iconic trailblazing piece by Malevich, who dared to push art to new boundaries of abstraction. The presence of so many seminal works and artists offers a truly unique opportunity to experience rare treasures of Russia on campus. The exhibition runs until 11th February and is free to all students with a valid campus card; ask the front desk for details. Fans of Russian film should look out for the collaborative season at Cinema City.
Continuing the theme of the whimsical/ absurd, the viewer is confronted with a harrowing scene titled ‘Squirrels Tea Party’, consisting of fifteen taxidermy squirrels enjoying a formal dinner. This Come-Dine-With-Me ‘The Woodland Edition’ is as bemusing and eccentric as it is unnerving. The varied nature of this exhibition is confounded further by the presence two WWI hand grenades resting just below a porcelain bust of Tsar Nicolas II (make of this what you will).
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
I approached The Meyerowitz Stories with a deep sense of fear. For one, there’s its undeniably smug title (New and Selected); reminiscent of a high school video project by proto-cinematic onanists proud of themselves for being so damn literary. For another, Baumbach is also the writer/director of the insufferable While We’re Young, a nauseating parade of quasi-intellectual references about the misery of being condemned to the life of a wealthy middle-aged New Yorker. I anticipated this to be an entry along similar lines. And in many ways it is. Dustin Hoffman plays the patriarchal head of a deeply dysfunctional family, a self-absorbed artist who never found his audience, neglectful of his children and jealous of his more successful counterparts. The scene is New York, the setting is the art world and, yes, the characters are snide
and intellectual. But the film, remarkably, avoids the obvious pitfalls. The characters aren’t nuisances, they’re human and well-constructed. The dialogue between them feels utterly real, Baumbach taking his time and allowing conservations to develop organically; the interactions between the family speak to a remarkably complex shared history and the awkward blend of their conflicting identities.
to their father’s obvious disappointment. She makes films for her office, of which she’s very proud, while Danny plays piano with his daughter, wondering if he could have made it as a musician. Ben Stiller’s Mathew meanwhile is estranged and successful. Always his father’s favourite, he resents him in a different way – for sharing too much time with him and, by extension, too many faults.
There’s the sweet and short tempered Danny, brilliantly played by Adam Sandler. Danny has been neglected by his father his whole life and compensates by looking after his daughter. The unarticulated tragedy, for him, is watching her gradually drift away into college and hipster nirvana. The reactions to this are subtle, but we can see that every little moment is imbued with a modest grief. His sister Jean (Elizabeth Marvel) is, like him, a failed artist, much
It’s most obvious comparison is The Royal Tenenbaums, but, in truth, these seems like an extrapolation of Baumbach’s earlier autobiographical work, The Squid and the Whale. In many ways the film is about the artistry that occurs at the atomic levels of daily life – the talent these children carry with them never manifested their lives, but, instead, appear in miniature sparks.
of their time upon its initial release. However, with the incredible special effects technology out there in today’s cinema, how can visionary director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 possibly hope to stand out like the original? Despite this the visuals in Blade Runner 2049 feel as fresh and jaw-dropping as they did in the original. The use of long sweeping tracking shots and noir aesthetic offer an update on an already
classic sci-fi masterpiece that audiences will be talking about for years to come. This, combined, with a wonderfully mastered soundtrack reminiscent of the original creates a dark yet beautiful futuristic world that no words can ever do justice. This is most definitely a film that you have to experience to appreciate modern day cinema at its finest, once again showcasing Villeneuve as one of the great directors of our time.
Blade Runner 2049
Blade Runner 2049 is the sequel to the 1982 sci-fi cult classic Blade Runner. It follows the investigation of LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling) into the disappearance of Nexus 8 replicants – android slaves designed to serve humanity – that disappeared during an event the film refers to as ‘THE BLACKOUT’. Unlike its predecessor, the replicants in Blade Runner 2049 - a new wave created by the Walla Corporation - are not as hunted or as feared as they used to be. Instead, they are an integral part of society due to their heightened obedience. Gosling’s K happens to be a replicant himself, highlighting how advanced and socially distinct the world of Blade Runner 2049 is in comparison to its predecessor. One of the reasons Ridley Scott’s original Blade Runner is considered such a classic was due to the film’s stunning visuals, which were ahead
Blade Runner 2049 can only be described as a modern sci-fi classic. From beautiful visuals to a spinechilling soundtrack and Ryan Gosling providing one the best performances of his life as Officer K, it is a film that will be talked about for generations. Although it may only be considered a cult-franchise, its compelling narrative, powerful cast, and aesthetic mastery will forever cement this movie in cinematic history.
-James Mortishire Image: Vimeo, modified by Gus Edgar
This is not a film review for this is not, in the conventional, mainstream perspective, a film. What Manifesto is, moreover, is an amalgamation of ideas and movements from the greatest art thinkers of different periods set with contemporary scenarios. Manifesto is quite literally a manifesto of a new kind of consideration of art and life and man and reality that is spearheaded astutely by the movements of the past. “Dadaism is shit... Art is power. the role of the artist can only be that of the revolutionary. We are nothing.” Manifesto breezes through these concepts. Surprisingly, given its early form as a thirteen-screen art installation, it never feels slow. Nor does it feel like watching
a film - there is no storyline, no concrete characterisation, no defined conclusion. Manifesto’s power is in its words, delivered with exhilarating authority by a tour-de-force Cate Blanchett. Manifesto’s spectacle is founded in its form of one single actor shifting and changing into thirteen extremely diverse characters to deliver and emulate each school of thought. Cate Blanchett was the perfect choice. From pure narration over pan shots to interacting with herself for the news, Blanchett commands the camera and your attention -- she delivers each idea with such vindication, such true dominance, that it will stick with you far after the screen fades to black.
Blanchett’s performance is guided with flair and such subtle precision by artist/ writer/director Julian Rosefeldt. The visuals in Manifesto seem purposefully quaint, quiet and never too commandeering to distract from the words’ import. The concepts and visuals, such as a funeral speaker and dadaism, marry up perfectly. Manifesto may not be a film how we like to think of films, it is a think piece, moreover it is art -- and everything, as the film closes with, that film should strive to be at the root of it all, important.
Harassment in Hollywood The Harvey Weinstein scandal has revealed that sexual harassment is prevalent in Hollywood and the film industry in general. It has been referred to as Hollywood’s “open secret”. Indeed, now that the numerous Weinstein allegations have surfaced, videos of multiple jokes about Weinstein and his seemingly predatory sexual behaviour that pre-date the scandal have made re-appearances and are chilling. Whilst presenting the nominations for best supporting actress at the Oscars in 2013, the actor Seth MacFarlane joked: “Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein”. Since the emergence of this news story, jokes and statements like this one have revealed that knowledge of sexual harassment in Hollywood and among the film-making community is rife. This sort of situation poses the question of why the victims of sexual harassment, or even their coworkers within the film industry, did not come forward. With the revelation of the first few Weinstein allegations, multiple women, such as Cara Delevingne and Gwyneth Paltrow, have detailed their own experiences. With these allegations came confessions from the women and actresses of the humiliation and fear that Weinstein may have caused.
Of the numerous accounts that have surfaced, many of the actresses explained that they were young, aspiring actresses at the time, and feared that their refusals to comply with Weinstein’s demands, or their coming forward, would harm their careers due to the power he held in Hollywood. He was a prominent figure in the film industry, having won 81 Oscars. Another video that has made a re-appearance is Courtney Love’s warning to young actresses. The consequence of what she had to say puts into action what these actresses feared. In 2005, on the red carpet, Courtney Love was asked if she had any advice for young girls moving to Hollywood. Her response: “I’ll get libelled if I say it...if Harvey Weinstein invites you to a private party in the Four Seasons, don’t go.” After speaking against Weinstein, Love was banned by the Creative Arts Agency, CAA. Although she was not one of Weinstein’s alleged victims, she said her her career had been affected due to her comments. Weinstein has admitted that his actions have “caused a lot of pain” but denies allegations of non-consensual sex. He has also been expelled from the Oscars Academy due to the scandal.
- Juliette Rey
Images: Image.net, courtesy of Sidney Film Festival
10 great horror films
Our writers share their best films to keep you up at night this Halloween..
Feeling cruel and want to trick your horror-averse friend into watching a truly excruciating J-horror? Look no further than seemingly terror-free Audition, or perhaps don’t look at all. A lonely widower looks for love, and finds it in the enigmatic Asami – but this isn’t a romance. ‘Kiri kiri kiri kiri…’ - Josephine Dowswell
Frankenstein is a monster movie classic that is a must see this Halloween season. From using German expressionism, to eerie sounds, to Boris Karloff ’s iconic performance, this film is laced in suspense and is a treat for the academics, or movie enthusiast, in all of us. - Will Samayoa
The Babadook is an intense psychological horror with a unique and thought-provoking twist. Whilst the film sidesteps the laboured clichés, there remains something generic and ordinary about The Babadook - and intentionally so. This film reveals the horrors of an epic human struggle as the lines between troubled minds and the supernatural begin to blur. - Alex Piper
Robert Eggers’ directorial debut The Witch is not your conventional horror film that solely relies on jump scares to engage its audience. Instead, this film relies more on its increasingly intense and gloomy atmosphere to establish a deeply unsettling, allegorical and religiously satisfying narrative. It’s also a film that gets better on subsequent rewatches. - Oscar Huckle
Beginning as a gentle comedy drawing humour from the stifling inertia swamping the life of its loveable titular character, Shaun of the Dead quickly develops into a psychologically pummelling and bloody disgusting struggle for survival once the dead rise from their graves, and the latent relationship issues between Shaun’s family and friends are dragged haphazardly into the spotlight. - Ed Brown
Hush tells the story of a deaf woman who becomes trapped in her house by a deranged killer who has just murdered her friend and neighbour. Despite telling her he can come in any time he wants, there is constant shifting in the balance of power between the two characters that makes the film incredibly tense, and absolutely terrifying. - Kate Romain
Aaron,a videographer,takes a job: film Josef,a dying man wanting to provide a film about himself for his unborn child. Josef is one of the creepiest (yet charming) and scariest (yet sympathetic) characters in recent cinema. This brilliantly crafted duality makes Creep an odd, horrifying and incredibly effective horror. - Alex Caesari
Much deeper than its premise would have you believe, the monster in It Follows always stalks you after it has been transmitted to you sexually. It lingers on in the back of your mind like a nightmare you spend all day trying to figure out long after the credits roll. - Joem Opina
If the theme tune for Jaws isn’t enough to convince you of its status as the best horror film, then maybe the questionable, yet entertaining, cinematography and prop usage will. Swimming with suspense and drama, this film not only plays on primal instincts, but also the fear of the unknown. This is one for those who don’t like sleeping relatively nightmare-free. - Saoirse Smith-Hogan
Taking classic Asian folklore and allegorising it through the lens of genre-bending horror, The Wailing follows a bumbling cop as his daughter slowly succumbs to the process of possession. From here on it’s a heady combination of paranoia, violence, heartbreak and slapstick(!), crescendoing to a meaty final showdown between good and evil where you don’t actually know which is which. - Gus Edgar
Shaun of the Dead
Images: simple.wikipedia (Frankenstein); Flickr, S.wplunkett ( Jaws), modified by Gus Edgar
March 21 - April 19
July 23 - August 22
It’s time to get organised and this doesn’t just concern your Halloween costume, which is going to be easy for you as you can pull off just about anything! Invite some people over this Halloween and just pretend those cobwebs on the ceiling are decoration.
Halloween can be a big night, prepare yourself by meeting up with a friend to find your costumes. It may also be time to let go of a secret you’ve been keeping hold of.
April 20 - May 20
August 23 - September 22
Although a night in is a great chance to relax and collect your thoughts, Halloween is not the time! Go all out this Halloween, it won’t take your friends much convincing; which is a great excuse to do a group costume!
You probably have your costume picked out already but it’s worth reconsidering, Try to find a costume that’s a little more daring than you would usually go for.
December 22 - January 19
If you’re struggling on what to go as this year, a ghost will best fit the mood. A ghost is a great way to symbolise how your life is changing and how you’re getting rid of old ways. You could even go as far as buying a Ouija board to get that question from the past out of the way.
The time has come to go for it! You’ll be wanting to achieve the best Halloween costume and nothing should get in the way of you standing out from the crowd
January 20 - February 18
May 21 - June 20
September 23 - October 22
Your enthusiasm for entertaining is about to hit a new high, so instead of going to someone else Halloween party, throw your own! Invite everyone and the night will prepare you for the rest of the month!
Libra season is in full force and between your birthday and Halloween celebrations are in full order! It can be hard to turn down an invite, but if you’re staying on top of your work schedule, a few parties won’t hurt.
June 21 - July 22
This Halloween might be best spent at home with a bottle of wine and hours spent binge-watching your favourite horror fims. A pet to snuggle with is recommended.
October 23 - November 21 Call your old friends, it’s time for a huge catch up. You could even throw a big party and go all out with costumes!
November 22 - December 21
A small get together with friends is perfect for this Halloween. However, if you are feeling a bigger event, try dressing up as something futuristic or something so crazy that people must ask what you even are.
February 19 - March 20
Gather your friends because this Halloween will be great for group costumes. Anything from irony to something over the top, it’ll be a great bonding session.
- Leah Marriott Image: MoonStarer, Vecteezy.com
Carefully planned costumes..... Halloween is fast approaching and there is so much inspiration for costumes out there if you’re willing to go all out! These outfits are inspired by popular films and TV shows of 2017. The characters in this top 6 will undoubtedly dominate Halloween.
1. Stranger Things With the return of Stranger Things, it’s highly likely you’ll be seeing people dressing up as eleven and other characters from the 80’s inspired show. The costumes can be rather simple, for instance El would be easy to achieve as all you will need is a pale pink dress and blonde wig. For Winona Ryder’s character, Joyce, you’ll need a green parker, a striped top and some jeans. Also, some battery-operated Christmas lights would be perfect!
The recent IT movie has been rather popular. It’s highly likely there will be many clowns roaming around. Pennywise requires a bit more effort to achieve his look, such as a wig, face paint, a clown costume and maybe even some false teeth. To completely engulf yourself in the character, creepy jigs are encouraged… If you loved the film, but want something easier, grab a yellow rain coat, make a paper boat and you’re all set as Georgie. Both costumes would also look great with a red helium balloon!
could of course add some horror with fake blood and rips in the dress. Another popular female character from Disney this year is Moana. To achieve her outfit, you will need a red bandeau and a white midi skirt with a red scarf tied around the waist.
5. Twisty the Clown
Twisty has also made a reappearance in the new season of AHS, and the costume isn’t too hard to find nowadays. Clowns have caused a stir this year and are probably the creepiest thing you could go as.
6. Atomic Blonde
Lorraine has some iconic outfits, but her short white hair is what completes her look! She wears a lot of trench coats, sunglasses and amazing boots, which all tend to be black. If your hair is already short and platinum blonde, you’re ready to go, otherwise a wig will do. Depending on your style, you might already have similar pieces of clothing, which makes it even easier!
- Leah Marriott
3. Wonder Wom-
Wonder Woman is a popular choice every year, but with the release of this year’s adaptation, there’s no surprise it has become even more popular in stores and online. Whether you’re buying the costume from a store or creating it yourself, Wonder Woman is a strong female lead to go as.
If you’re looking for something less spooky, Emma Watson’s Belle is a great costume. There are a few of her outfits to choose from, such as her blue dress or extravagant yellow/gold ball gown. You
Images: (top to bottom) MoonStarer,; waterandwine; Vecteezy.com
......vs. last minute looks the golf ball ‘eyes’ are roughly at monster face height. Hey presto, you’ve got yourself a googly monster costume fella.
2. 404 Cosutme Not Found
We’ve all accidentally stumbled across that annoying blank webpage when clicking on an important link on a favourite site, written in that equally irritating essay-style Times New Roman font in the corner of the screen. Why not take advantage of that maddening link, and draw (on a white T-shirt, mind) those very words with a black sharpie. An excellent excuse for a lack of costume on the night. How many times have you left Halloween until the last minute? You’re invited to a party on the 27th. Great! So far away; weeks, even. A good few stacks of reading and a couple of kitchens worth of washing up later, and we fast-forward to the day before the party. Shit. All your friends are already boasting about how ingenious their costumes are, and all you can do is shrink into yourself and silently pray that no one notices your lack of costume input. “I’m going as a giant crayon!” one friend crows. “We’re going as the mystery gang!” another group boasts. “I’m going as a serial killer” the withdrawn guy who never speaks mentions quietly from the dark corner. There’s always one. But never fear, fashionista! Here at Venue we have plenty of ideas (well, four…) that will definitively up your costume game and elevate you to super-mega-dream status among your peers.
1. Googly Eyed Monster
Here we go. Grab a couple of golf balls off a mate, or risk your life nicking them off a golf course, I don’t care. Paint black circles on both white balls, and stick em on the front of your craziest patterned sweater. Pull your sweater half off until
3. A Night In
This one is my personal favourite, and can be tailored for your comfort levels. Don slippers, a dressing gown, a messy bed head and pyjamas for an ironic spin on the truth; ‘I haven’t prepared for a costume, and screw you guys because I prioritise comfort over smelly plastic monster masks’. This could be customised into an Arthur Dent (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) or a Jeffrey ‘The Dude’ Lebowski.
4. Dead Silent Movie Star
A final one adaptable for any gender; dress in a snappy suit, or flapper-style black slinky number, and use talcum powder to give your face and neck that deathly pallor. Add eyeliner or black face paint to paint on exaggerated eyelashes and heart-shaped lips. Bonus points if you can get your hands on some red food colouring and splosh that on your face/ neck. Beware of clothing stains though.
- Hattie Griffiths
LONDON FILM FEST After four weeks and over 70 films, film fanatic Gus Edgar gives his highlights on this year’s London Film Festival.
Call Me By Your Name
A rapturous sun-soaked delight, Luca Guadagnino’s follow-up to last year’s A Bigger Splash builds on his fixation of intense sensuality. Taking place ‘somewhere in the north of Italy’, we follow Timothée Chalamet’s Elio as he traverses the tricky window between youth and maturity, discovering his sexuality after getting to know Armie Hammer’s Oliver - an intern for Elio’s father. Here they fall in love, their relationship stained with the awareness that it will inevitably come to a close once the summer ends with the leaving of a character. In the moment, however, it’s something to be savoured with the film gorgeously realising the evocations that the experience of a first love can muster up. Hammer may be the bigger name but Chalamet is incredible, his measured performance in turn both playful and heartbreaking. Call Me By Your Name is a real peach of a film, in more ways than one.
A stunning and perplexing epic, Golden Exits’ apparent shortcomings (namely stilted dialogue and wonky performances) reveal themselves as integral characteristics of a tour-de-force study of self-hatred and resignation. What at once appears inorganic becomes entirely organic – this is a film full of characters uncomfortable in their own skin, silently screaming to break free from their inner turmoil. As the wonderful score builds and thrums, there’s an increasing awareness that this is not just a mere character drama or easily dismissable mumblecore, but something monumental – a film that recognises the methods in which it can manufacture drama, and goes out of its way to avoid them. The characters may remain silent in their discontentment, but there is nothing quiet about Golden Exits’ profundity. It’s a staggering, unique achievement – a balloon that refuses to pop (or heck, even let out a little air), instead expanding from what is, at first glance, a narrow focus, into something universal.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Frances McDormand stakes her claim as one of America’s finest working talents in Martin McDonagh’s latent epic. She plays a loving mother with a bravura faÇade, whose daughter’s rape and murder haven’t yet been solved, 9 months on from the investigation. She pays for the titular billboards that target Chief Willoughby and his racist, bumbling police force - and a subsequent torrent of violence, scathing comedy, and surprising emotional heft ensues. If you loved the director’s In Bruges, this is so much more, each character subverting the tropes they appear chained to, marked as stranded souls obscured by a thick mist of gut-busting humour. Three Billboards may just have the script of the year, rewarding superb performances with rich characterisation and an evocative narrative that manages to provoke laughter through tears and tears through laughter. This is an exquisite American odyssey, led by McDormand and her considerable acting talents.
The foxtrot is a type of dance with a four-move structure, whereby the last move returns to the first. Samuel Maoz’s energetic and proudly indefinable quasi-war film builds itself around this dance, weaving tragedy with enthusiastic escapism. Two parents are notified that their son has been killed during a mission he took part in as a member of the Israeli Army. Their reactions differ: the mother collapses, while the father is outraged. The camera winds above his head as he paces the room searching for reason; examining him as if he were a specimen. If it sounds bleak, that’s only propagated further by the way in which Foxtrot toys with emotions. It’s a devastating study - not of war, as one might expect, but of society, life, and its overwhelming futility - and it’s also a celebration of character. Foxtrot’s final scene, which indeed returns to the start, is a provoking and fitting way to tie this outstanding cruelly comic parable.
You Were Never Really Here (pictured)
Director Lynne Ramsay’s latest pursuit after We Need To Talk About Kevin is an outrageous take on the hitman thriller, shredding the narrative of any excess and then some more, until we’re left with husks of characterisation and imagery that resemble some sort of deeply disturbed tone poem. Joaquin Phoenix plays the hitman in a role that combines the hidden torment of his turn in The Master and the stoicism of Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive. His past is riddled with trauma, delivered to us in jarring flashback. This trauma seeps into the narrative itself, fragmented as the mind of its anti-hero. To state the plot is unnecessary - it doesn’t really matter - and to attempt to unravel it is futile. This is an unorthodox, entirely unique character study steeped in anguish and blood, the racketing score shuddering with his every step. There’s not a single film like it - no-one other than Ramsay would be mad enough to even try.
Andrey Zvyagintsev’s Loveless is a spellbinding examination of absence. Absence of connection, of love, and of independence, each represented by its literal incarnation: the absence of a neglected child. This child belongs to a vile couple going through divorce. We are able to watch and understand their point of view (a shift in perspective during the first act gives a tangibility to the disappearance of their son), but never to the brink of empathy. As an astute indictment of the Russian government, the film isn’t interested in delivering its message discreetly – why should it be? Zvyagintsev wants his intentions to be heard loud and clear. Televisions blare out war and chaos, a blah-blah of negativity that wears off on the characters. It’s over the top, even comically so, but that’s the point. Loveless is a poetically written letter of desperation that urges its citizens to do something, anything, about their country’s political climate.
Good Time - Don’t let the title fool you: this isn’t a good time, it’s a great time. Though not for Robert Pattinson’s Connie, who attempts (emphasis on ‘attempts’) to stage a bank heist with his brother. The bank heist goes awry - perhaps the only predictable moment in Good Time - and his brother is locked away. Thus follows a night of blood, drugs, and mistaken identity, as Connie desperately fights for his rescue. In any other hands, the affairs of the night would come across as implausible, but the Safdie brothers ground their film by stripping it of its inherent melodramatic elements until only its brutalist edge remains. The score pulsates and the camera indulges in the closest of close-ups, exposing a loosening of Connie’s grip on proceedings. But perhaps Good Time’s most interesting dynamic is the relationship between its two brothers - one born out of both love and selfishness. Pattinson sells it magnificently, a figure entrenched in neon-lit grime.
Images: image.net, courtesy of BFI and the BFI London Film Festival
Spooky scary skele-tunes Eve Matthews Florence and the Machine: Seven Devils
The laidback tone of the vocals on this song are probably the creepiest part, with the eerily calm declaration of “See I’ve come to burn your kingdom down” seeming like a usual part of the day.
Gabrielle Aplin: Skeleton
This jaunty little tune uses the ‘skeleton’ as a metaphor for a detached lover. But really, what could be more terrifying than the skeleton of your ex turning up on your doorstep?
Siouxsie and the Banshees: Spellbound
Everything, from the mesmerising guitar riffs, rhythmic drumming, to the hypnotic cries of Siouxsie Sioux’s vocals will have you utterly entranced by this song.
Tony Allen Sheepy: Frankenstein
Released as a one-off single last Halloween, Luke Jones’ Liverpool three-piece come through on this witty, melodic indie banger. The scary thing is that they’re not a household name south of Chester. Yet…
As You Were: musically brilliant, lyrically poor Earlier this month Liam Gallagher released his debut solo album, As You Were, after months of teasing and build up. The first single from the album, ‘Wall of Glass’, was released in May, and peaked at number 21 in the charts on its first week of release. This, however, was not a sign of things to come as, after the album’s official full release, it became the ninth fastest selling album this decade. It’s not surprising; As You Were is full of soulful, thought-provoking ballads, offset by a few rockier pieces thrown in to induce that nostalgia for early noughties Britpop. The opening song ‘Wall of Glass’ is punchy, and introduces a slightly fresher, more invigorating sound than Oasis’ later tunes. ‘For What It’s Worth’ is easily some of Liam Gallagher’s best work, despite feeling somewhat familiar. The fervent notes of the chorus are reminiscent of Oasis’ legendary ‘Wonderwall’, which is easily the band’s most well-known song.
uninspiring. The bohemian ‘Chinatown’ has a beautiful melody, with a powerful, guitar-led rhythm. However, the lyrics are a frustrating angle on the current political climate that the catchy tune is almost definitely wasted on: “What’s it to be free man? What’s a European? Me I just believe in the sun.” The music may have developed, but Liam Gallagher’s lyrical genius has yet to come out. All in all, it’s an enjoyable album reminiscent of Gallagher’s earlier sound, while still bringing something new to the table. Just don’t listen too closely to the lyrics.
Gallagher has stated in an interview with Billboard that he’s “trying to recapture that sound” and For What It’s Worth makes that apparent without being a carbon copy of Oasis’ glory days. However, whilst the songs themselves may be pleasing, the lyrics are typically
Less peace, more panic
Neck Deep’s Nottingham show was cancelled after security’s rough handling of crowd surfers turned into a full-scale fight between members of the band and venue security. Videos have since emerged online clearly showing that, whilst the security were being extremely heavy handed when dealing with fans, the violent response of some of the band members towards the security, and lead singer Ben Barlow’s mic drop outburst, served only to escalate the situation further. At the same time, it cannot be disputed that this was a frustrating moment for the band to experience during their biggest UK headline tour to date, not to mention for
the fans who would have paid for ticket and travel expenses. Although, it is obvious from footage of the band chatting to fans after the show and in the lengthy statement posted after the event that their reaction was motivated by a desire to protect their fans, all of this just goes to show that security must do better in protecting both fans and performers since, as Neck Deep declared in their statement, these shows should be a place where “everyone is safe and free to enjoy music being played”.
The Waterboy Returns: Slaughter Beach, Dog’s Birdie You may know Jake Ewald as frontman of Modern Baseball, but even if you don’t, you will now know him from his new project - Slaughter Beach, Dog. Their first full 10-track album, Birdie, will be out 27th October, and I was lucky enough to get a tasty little preview to tell you why, or why not, you should check it out.
in Modern Baseball. Although the guitar riffs and melodies are simple, this doesn’t detract from the effectiveness of the songs. ‘Friends Song’ demonstrates how Ewald plays around with new sounds; layering a murky synth against a modest drum beat that gives you that strange eerie feel, making you weirdly uncomfortable.
Opening with ‘Phoenix’, Birdie begins on a melancholic tone that can be found throughout. Yet, don’t think this is going to be your usual sad boy emo album; Ewald manages to achieve a sense of subtlety that simultaneously elevates and grounds his songs. That ‘I’m kinda sad but don’t really know why’ feel, carried by the simple melodies, is what really put’s this work above the rest.
It is obvious how much work has gone into this album, yet it still remains unembellished with no unnecessary theatrics. It feels effortlessly made, and as a result is no effort to listen to. Put on ‘Bad Beer’ or ‘Shapes I Know’ and take a walk, I dare you to not find yourself subconsciously nodding along. Reaching its emotional peak at the half-way point, ‘Buttercup’, manages to not be too downhearted, quickly returning to the honest and wholesome melodies that define ‘Birdie’.
Lyrically, the attention to detail is so evokative, you’re never certain that it isn’t all true. This immersivity shows Ewald’s maturity as a songwriter, and is more than a stone’s throw away from his work
The Front Bottoms, going grey? If only Despite my love of The Front Bottoms, my expectations going into ‘Going Grey’ could be described as akin to waiting for a train to hit. The band have been on something of a downwards trend since their fantastic ‘Talon of the Hawk’ and ‘Going Grey’ had produced one alright and one downright dull lead single (‘Raining’ and ‘Vacation Town’).
few times each chorus, but nowhere near as painfully immature as following track ‘Bae’. It never derails the album, but what was charming on the band’s debut feels like something they should have moved past by now, given they have shown what they can be. It’s reminiscent of how South Park still revels in fart jokes and Blink-182 still find penises amusing on stage.
Going in expecting such awfulness means that the result, a fairly dependable record that shows considered growth as musicians, is a refreshing thing. In fact, musically it is rather inspired. Sadly, lyrical immaturity holds the band back. “Next time we meet it’ll be peace sign, middle finger”, the chorus line to ‘Peace Sign’, is a rather cringeinducing line before it is repeated a good
Going Grey is a mixed batch and is probably best picked at song by song than taken as a whole. A passable addition to The Front Bottoms’ catalogue, but no more or less than that.
Bobby “Boris” Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers: Monster Mash A Halloween staple since 1962, this is so weird that it deserves its place in the fabric of Halloween pop culture. Expect hilarious impressions and strange noises on the eerie hit.
Nick Mason Brand New : You Stole Brand New’s fourth album, Daisy, is creepy in ‘The Shining’ sense of ‘that guy actually wants to kill people’. ‘You Stole’ pairs this psychotic breakdown with atmosphere and bombast. Don’t listen to this walking alone in the dark, I learned that lesson the hard way.
meWithoutYou: Red Cow
Crammed with more occult references than the average Scandinavian metal band’s back catalogue, ‘Red Cow’ is a reminder of the dark side of religion and the occult. Also has a killer breakdown.
Tequila and DIY Punk: introducting Gringos
Whether it be slamming back the eclectic mix of tequila shots at the bar or immersing yourself in Norwich's finest DIY gigs, Gringos Mexican Tequila Bar has stapled itself into the hearts of many.
In June 2014, Andrew and Ellen Skalli set out to create East Anglia's first Tequila Bar. I spoke to Andrew about what his aim was with Gringos. He explained that "it was to give people an education that Tequila is not just the shot you do with lemon and salt", he goes on to say that it is "something that makes amazing cocktails and amazing flavoured shots." Gringos creates a friendly atmosphere for all its clientele and gives Norwich a place for its culture to shine through. In terms of a music venue, Gringos has without a doubt become the most accessible venue for live music in
Norwich. The venue does not charge a deposit for promoters or bands to put on gigs, and refuses to take a cut from any ticket money made. Andrew explains that it all started when "we received messages from bands asking what we would charge to put on a show. I replied with: “nothing. We have a PA if you want to use it”. The rest is history. Gringos encapsulates the essence of what makes people fall in love with their local DIY music scene. Offering a platform for local promoters and bands strengthens this community and allows those involved to enjoy the night without the worries of failing to break even. In terms of upcoming events, Gringos has something to offer to everyone. If you want to be transported back to 2007 and listen to indie bangers all night, Bloghaus will satisfy your needs on December 23rd. Or
if you want to fully experience the intense nature of Norwich's finest screamo bands, get down to see Maths and Algae Bloom on October 26th. If music isn't even your thing, Gringos hosts numerous FIFA competitions throughout the year with prizes to all those who win (I meant it when I said they offer everything). So next time you find yourself down Prince of Wales Road, make sure to pop into Gringos and see for yourself why so many are deeply attached to it. Andrew sums up that "no matter how you dress, what music you like, how much money you earn a year, we all have Tequila in common; good and bad stories..."
The Hoosiers at Waterfront Studio: not so goodbye Mr A
Ten years after the release of their debut album ‘The Trick to Life’, the remaining two members of The Hoosiers (with two other musicians) played the upstairs of The Waterfront Norwich, a small venue that holds up to two hundred people. Unsurprisingly, tickets sold out due to the earlier successes of The Hoosiers, and this guaranteed a good atmosphere. Their simplistic set seemed reminiscent of the comic book inspired superhero music video for ‘Goodbye Mr A’, with four vertical banners of red, green, blue and yellow. They donned their merchandise, four t-shirts each matching a different banner and they all had slightly different scenes on their fronts. Beginning with ‘Worried about Ray’, they played the entirety of their number 1 album enthusiastically. ‘Goodbye Mr A’ was certainly the favourite amongst the crowd with everyone singing their hearts out, followed by ‘Cops and Robbers’ and ‘The Trick to Life’. Applause erupted
each time the keyboardist brought out his trumpet for a solo. Irwin Sparkes and Alan Sharland’s awkward anecdotes and banter in between songs gave rise to a few chuckles. Their encore was composed of hits from their latter three albums (‘The Illusion of Safety’, The News from Nowhere’ and ‘The Secret service’) and covers of ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ by the Weekend and ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ by Billy Joel. Although not songs that you would usually see performed together, it somehow worked after the band gave them both makeovers. For a relatively young crowd a surprising number knew the words to the eighties classic. It was definitely a worthwhile trip to the waterfront, and I would love to see The Hoosiers again playing a larger venue for an even better atmosphere.
-Molly Bates Porter
Image: Stephen Commons
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony A game of hope, and of despair. Two states of being in an unending struggle. That’s the purest summary of the conflict driving the narrative of Danganronpa. This conflict continues in this latest instalment in Chun Software’s franchise, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. For those unfamiliar to the series, each game revolves around a class of high school students who are imprisoned and told that if any of them want to escape they have to kill another student and remain undiscovered through an ensuing class trial. If the murdered, or ‘blackened’, is discovered, they will be punished which is a nice way to say horrifically executed. If they succeed then the rest of their class’ lives will be forfeit instead, and the blackened regain their colour. Obviously a trial wouldn’t be complete without a judge. This is the job of Monokuma: the result of a horrible fusion between Jigsaw and a Build-aBear Workshop creation. This ursine gamemaster is all despair, taking the highest pleasure in manipulating the contestants to murder and mutilate each other.
any fun having a bunch of Plain Janes and John Smiths thrown in together. This colourful cast of characters all hold the titles of ‘Ultimate’, earned through their top-tier expertise and abilities in a certain field or talent. Our new protagonist, the Ultimate Pianist Kaede Akamatsu, stars alongside the Ultimate Entomologist, the Ultimate Maid, and even The Ultimate Astronaut. These characters break free from their initial stereotypes, and then find shocking, and occasionally hilarious, ways to die. That’s one of the truths you will have to accept before starting one of these killing games: your favourite characters will die. Much like in The Hunger Games, the odds really aren’t in their favour, and you never know when the character you have your heart set on will turn to murder or become a victim. Depending on the motive presented by Monokuma in a chapter, even the sweetest person can end up bloodying their hands.
These aren’t any normal high school students either. After all, it wouldn’t be
The gameplay is split between two parts: free roaming exploration and class trials. In the former you have the opportunity to explore the Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles, as you spend your daily life trapped, getting to know your classmates through visual novel scenes. When the
Narrative gaming has seen a rebirth in recent years. Gone are the clunky (yet still fondly remembered) point-and-click mechanics of Monkey Island and Sam and Max, replaced by the slick production of games like Life is Strange or the big budget licenses of Telltale Studios; catapulting-story focussed gameplay into the mainstream. So how could a tiny French studio hope to make an impact on a genre where large voice casts and lengthy episodic instalments seem like keys to success?
and uses the same ‘false phone’ mechanic to create a narrative. The player takes on the dual role of detective and voyeur; finding a phone at a train station and, instead of immediately turning in it in, deciding to comb through it to learn about the life of the titular Laura. The uncomfortable feeling that arises while examining the details of Laura’s life should serve as a testament to how fully realized almost all the characters in Another Lost Phone feel without the need to render a single 3D model.
Another Lost Phone: Laura’s Story, is a spiritual sequel to developer Accidental Queens’ first game, A Normal Lost Phone,
Beyond a unique system for telling the story, Another Lost Phone attempts to cover meaningful social issues. Without
peace finally breaks and a death occurs it is here that you will investigate the scene and other key locations to try solving the mystery of the dearly deceased. Said class trials see you work through deceit and stupidity on your path to the truth. Between returning segments like the classic nonstop debates and new minigames, there’s plenty new to keep you engaged. The best improvements however come from expansions on the main debate segments, including the inclusion of being able to lie to find ‘backdoors’ through arguments and speed up proceedings and mass panic debates where you’re forced to listen to multiple people speaking simultaneously to find weaknesses in their arguments. This game might be the highlight of the franchise thus far, building on the successes of its predecessors and adding its own spice. However, if you’re interested in playing, I would highly advise starting with Trigger Happy Havoc, the first game. Aside from the lower price tag, these games are best experienced with reference to the events which came before them.
- Vince Gaffney
Indie-penchant: Another Lost Phone
spoiling too much, the truth about what has happened to Laura doesn’t come as a last minute ‘gotcha!’ twist, but as a natural conclusion of the evidence discovered while searching through her phone. Even more than the well-designed narrative investigation, the message is really the stand-out aspect of Another Lost Phone, as Accidental Queens bring attention to an issue that is rarely addressed convincingly in more traditional narrative gaming, showing exactly why this is a game that deserves to be experienced.
- Harry Routley
The Sounds of Hauntery We all have these memories. The one level in that game you played as a kid that scared you enough so just a little bit of poop would come out. Here are just a few classics from the vault of ‘Mommy, I don’t want to play this game anymore’.
Big Boo’s Haunt (Super Mario 64)
An absolute joy for children everywhere amd a cornerstone in the history of gaming. There are levels galore to explore: snowy mountains, rainbow roads, and a haunted mansion with ominious piano music and a possessed piano which will jump scare you out of your skin.
4. Giygas’ Theme (Earthbound)
Here is where Nintendo decided to put all its resources into the ‘we’re going to mentally scar these kids for life’ division of development. Having lost all sense of self, the almighty Giygas becomes a screen full of endlessly cycling… foetuses? Yup, pretty sure those are demon babies. With music in the background which gradually devolves into a mess of screams and static, you will know the one undeniable truth: ‘‘you will be… just another meal to him!’’
2. Lavender Town (Pokémon
Hunter’s Dream (Bloodborne)
Red and Blue)
Much like Mario, Pokémon has become a franchise deeply ingrained in the hearts of all thanks to its spirit of adventure and colourful worlds to explore! Which is what makes Lavender Town all the more jarring, as you discover a literal graveyard filled with sobbing trainers grieving for their lost partners, all to the eerie droning of Lavender Town’s theme.
3.The Shadow Temple
(Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time) While some might argue that the Fire Temple has a more disconcerting tone in its Arabic chanting, The Shadow Temple’s gradual build of slow rhythmic drumming, intermittent piano notes, and distorted choir twisted into what is more akin to roars than song, far exceeds its peer in my mind. Add to that the surprising introduction of the temple’s boss as some invisible almighty force in the lead-up, and the generally spooky environment, and you have one chilling trial to overcome. Illustration: Murray Lewis
5. Leaving Earth (Mass Effect 3)
A very different kind of hauntery, but one coming from the same horrifying place of the weakness of humans that all horror comes from. When this plays your character suffers his first symbolic defeat of the game, and the most major of the series so far, and the visuals at the time juxtapose the tiny humans against their incredible foes. If you don’t get chills down your spine when the music plays then you’ve clearly played the game too many times. The game’s soundtrack is by Clint Mansell, of Requiem for a Dream fame, so you know you’re getting some pretty powerful pieces at the important points of this game.
By far the piece you’ll hear the most in the game, this plays when you’re in your safe haven. However, the shrill violins, rasping whispers and lonely melody seem to portray it as scary and duplicitous, in a way that the rest of the game barely scratches at. This is fitting, due to events near the end of the game, but this piece makes sure you don’t feel safe even when you’re out of harm’s way.
7. Main Theme (Fallout 3) This piece is very different from most other spooky soundtracks, featuring heavier brass parts compared to other games and other soundtracks in the game. But the ringing of the metallic horns, and the hollow tone that comes from no harmonies and a rather restricted orchestra, and the increasing drumbeat throughout, creates a sense of paranoia and unease that would fit perfectly in the game’s wasteland. It’s just a shame that people listen to the radio in the game, and so only hear this piece in the main menu.
- Tom Bedford
Rogue One VR preview: Rogue fun The opening to Rogue One: VR felt weirdly like waking up from a dream. As I stood, controller in hand with my travel backpack thoroughly half-nelsoning me, the demo gradually faded in to see me suspended above a wispy asteroid belt, rocking not the PS virtual reality headset I’d had difficulty accommodating to my melon head, but the helmet of a rookie X-Wing pilot. I’d not been mad on VR previously (mostly because of its still quite limited capacity for offering fully fleshed out games), but it couldn’t be denied that pummelling hyperdrive while clamouring the words “Ready Red-4” had very valid appeal.
Rogue One: VR spent very little time explaining things. That was partly due to the simplistic gameplay structure, but mostly because it’s available as a free download to owners of Star Wars: Battlefront. You are Red-4, the rookie pilot recently inducted into a charismatic X-Wing squadron. Once joined by the rest of your wisecracking team, you tear through a stylishly clear hyperspace, facing invaders and offensives alike in search of a ship in distress. Players of Star Wars: Battlefront will likely find Rogue One’s setup familiar. Once you’re joined by the rest of the Red fleet, you’re directed to various marked points in search of enemies to zap. Controls are also similar: analog sticks to move, trigger buttons to shoot, with the added ability to activate a temporary shield by tapping the left shoulder button. While Rogue One is still ultimately a shooter, the requirement to remain with your fleet at all times compares lightly to old arcade shooters, which scrolled automatically forward. I hope it goes without saying though, Rogue One’s much easier.
Photographs from Nor Con, Tony Allen
Yet, at least over the course of the demo, there’s very little else to it. Ultimately, you glide through the asteroid belt with your team, fending off the occasional enemy ship as indicated by on-screen text. It’s obvious the game depends heavily on the tech, because cruising through hyperspace with the occasional vocal interruption would feel quite boring releasing outside of VR.
The repetition is somewhat saved by the constant back-and-forth between the characters. Between needling ‘the rookie’ for fuddling coordinates to the sense of bravado penetrating operation descriptions, the Star Wars camaraderie is charming to behold, and feeling part of it did give my heart a nudge over the five minutes I spent in the cockpit. If you’re either not invested in VR or particularly Star Wars-enthused, however, the enchantment could possibly peter out after those five minutes. This said, there’s only so much you can expect from a free PS Store add-on. Like so many other VR releases, it felt something of a themed tech-demo, but the concept of being involved in the antics that had me grinning on the screen struck a coolness that – though fleeting – defends it as a quick Star Wars romp. I suppose there’s much to be said for fandom here, because that’s ultimately what the demo aims to capitalise on. Given how restricted VR technology still is in terms of creating ‘immersive’ experiences, I can understand the logic of letting much of the experience that is there ride on fans’ love for the franchise. Having seen some of the concentrated half-grins of folks who also demo’d the game, it certainly seems to work, and with a certain sequel releasing in December I’ve a feeling the 2016 game may have a resurgence on its hands.
Perfect TV for Halloween
American Horror Story’s standalone format each series means the viewer can decide what type of horror they want to watch; from Asylum, which follows a group of institutionalised patients in the 1960’s, to a Cult which takes place after the 2016 Trump election. The first 10 minutes of each episode ar the most chilling, leaving you on the edge of your seat. The suspense is ramped not just during the first episode, but the whole season, making for a binge worthy show. Unexpected twists and the occasional gory scenes throughout every season make the show a Halloween must watch.
Being Human is perhaps one of the most underrated supernatural TV series of the last 10 years. The premise is essentially: a werewolf, a vampire and a ghost share a flat in Bristol. While that sentence may sound like the start of a bad joke, it is a heartwarming drama with brilliant chemistry between leads: Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner, and Lenora Crichlow. It may be a weird hybrid of kitchen sink drama (who drank the milk etc), sporadic playful banter and straight out supernatural subplots, but the laughs and drama blend together perfectly in this supernatural-comedy-drama.
Supernatural has everything you could want in a Halloween TV show: monsters, demons, two really hot dudes, abandoned houses and an awesome soundtrack. It’s the right amount of scary,with small jump scares here and there, but nothing to keep you awake at night. But the main reason to watch it is because it is absolute trash, which is what everyone wants on Halloween. I mean, that’s why people watch terrible horror movies, right? If you want bad special effects and cringy storylines alongside lovable characters and a perpetual apocalypse, give Supernatural a go this October.
- Hannah Evens
- Dan Struthers
- Yaiza Canopoli
Although it might not seem like it at first, Bates Motel is one of creepiest psychological horror dramas out there. The prequel to the loved Hitchcock film traps your full attention and leaves you with a thirst to know who will be the next victim of our protagonist, Norman Bates, played by Freddie Highmore. His intimate, definitely obsessive relationship with his mother will certainly leave you spooked. Even though you can smell crazy on him from a mile away, one will always end up wondering how that quiet boy develops into a killer with a personality disorder we all still sort of love.
If you’re looking for a period show that doesn’t scrimp on horror and gore, then look no further than Salem, set in the titular town which is besieged by witches. What is so great about the premise is how the show turns the witch trials to the witches’ advantage, with a coven of witches manipulating Puritans into completing a sacrifice that will unleash the devil. It will take you all three seasons to learn who to trust, and even by the show’s finale you’ll be conflicted about who you should have been rooting for. It’s dark, gruesome, and downright gut-wrenching - the perfect watch for Halloween.
A door opens, and suddenly a man in a suit takes you through what is guaranteed to be a tale full of existential dread, horror, and moral life-lessons. This is Rod Serling, the brain-child behind one of the longest-running shows on television. Each episode introduces a new story, and a new claustrophobic dilemma for the characters. Follow a woman as she meets her evil doppelganger in ‘Mirror Image’, or join a ballerina, an army Major and a clown as they scrabble for survival in ‘Five Characters in Search of an Exit’. There are hundreds of episodes fit for the even the most discerning film student.
- Daniela Ponjuan Sanabria
- Jodie Bailey
- Hattie Griffiths
Images:: (top left to right) Wikimedia Commons by American Horror Story, Wikimedia Commons by BBC/Being Human, Wikimedia Commons by Lucazepplin; (bottom left to right) Wikimedia Comons by Himmler18, Wikimedia Commons by Aniol, Wikimedia Commons by UPN.
Lucifer: sympathy for the devil? Lucifer stars Tom Ellis as the titular fallen angel, and son of God, who decides to take a vacation in present day Los Angeles. In the first season Lucifer meets Detective Chloe Decker and together they form a crime fighting duo only to discover that Chloe is actually a miracle child sent from God. This manages to complicate their relationship slightly, Lucifer believing that it was his father’s plan to bring them together all along, a theory which is shattered upon this revelation. Season two ends with Lucifer’s “Mum”, who escaped from hell earlier on in the series being given her own universe by her son. Lucifer’s mother, being a
goddess, was living on Earth inside the body of Charlotte Richards, a lawyer who crossed path with Lucifer several times, and season three follows in the wake of this climatic finale… The first episode of season three sees Lucifer stranded in the desert on the Californian border. Noticing that he has regained his wings, he suspects that his father, God, has given them back to him as punishment for letting his mother have her own universe. Lucifer and Chloe resume their crime fighting routine by trying to find out why Lucifer was kidnapped and taken to the desert
which might also be related to a crime scene in Los Angeles. Lucifer’s brother, Amenadiel, who lost his wings in season two, is worried that Lucifer’s wings (which he is forced to cut off repeatedly) might be discovered by a human. He and Dr Linda Martin dispose of his wings and talk about why Lucifer feels that he must cut them off. In the previous season Dr Linda Martin got caught up in his celestial family drama, which Lucifer tries to apologise for, feeling hugely responsible for her close call with death. The show has continued to centre around Lucifer’s catch phrase and hypnosis-like ability to uncover a person’s desires by asking them: “what is it that you really desire?” One of the best qualities of the show is the humorous quips that Lucifer often makes; at the start of season three he responds to his father giving him his wings back with, “I’m not his Mr. Potato head,” to the much lewder line: “Did the massage make anything pop out? I’m talking about the wings of course.” However, one of my favourite characters is the forensic detective Ella who gives out hugs like an excited Labrador. She often matches Lucifer’s knack for quips and as someone who has a strong Christian faith she approaches Lucifer and his relation to God in a different and interesting way, clearly someone who loves her job. Lucifer is essential TV viewing as we approach Halloween because alongside the serious supernatural theme it frequently embraces its more lighthearted side. The devil -orientated soundtrack is brilliant with most of the songs including lyrics about devil and demons. Some of the highlights include: Devil’s Got a Hold (one of many with the word ‘Devil’ in it), Being Evil Has a Price (no prizes for subtlety) and the entire cast’s rendition of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door. Lucifer might not scare you, but it will definitely entertain you.
- Gabriela Williams
Illustration: Lois Arcari
Bake Off 2.0: a rising success or have we been left with soggy bottoms? Just over a year ago, the nation was rocked by some devastating news. The BBC had lost one of their flagship shows, The Great British Bake Off, to Channel 4 after they refused to pay the £25-million- a-year to hold on to the show. To be honest, the immediate story wasn’t that devastating, it was the news to come that broke the hearts of the nation. In previous interviews over the years, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, and hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins had expressed a desire to stay with the BBC. Three out of four of them kept this promise. Mel & Sue first announced that they were not “going with the dough”, and we all guessed what was coming in response; Queen Mary Berry also decided to leave the show out of loyalty to the BBC. Tears were shed, but they soon dried in anger when it was discovered Paul was staying with the show, and had signed on for another three years. Everyone started accusing him of staying for the money, and even Anna Kendrick, when interviewed on The Graham Norton Show, expressed her displeasure: ‘‘of course Paul stayed,’’ she exclaimed sarcastically. Seeing celebrities discuss our guilty pleasure on international platforms showed the effect the brilliant formatting of GBBO had, leaving many to question whether it would ever work again. Moving to present day, we are halfway through the first series on Channel 4 and it feels like we had nothing to worry about all along. Do not get me wrong, I miss Mel & Sue as much as the next person; do not even get me started on missing Mary Berry. But, watching the episodes now, from episode two in, you cannot help but be drawn into the comforting hug it continues to provide, and laugh or cry along with everyone else. Episode one threw some people
off; Noel and Sandi are both great respectively but their relationship took some time to understand. Their nerves were very clearly present. One Twitter user got it so spot on when he described the usually controversial Noel Fielding as a man meeting his girlfriend’s parents for the first time. What they were doing was trying to find where they fitted in, within the recycled format and all those despised adverts. They wanted to impress yet not be too different, to amuse but not overshadow contestants or the baking, which Mel & Sue always achieved. However, from episode two onwards, their relationship clicked, and now it feels like it was once before. As for the judges, Paul is Paul, although handing out too many handshakes. Are they not meant to be special? Only reserved for finals? Despite not being a fan of Prue Leith on The Great British Menu where she came across as fairly annoying, the show has somehow
softened her. The warm embrace the show provides draws us in and we still truly care for the contestants. I have tried to keep spoilers to a minimum in this article, but it is worth acknowledging the fact that Flo left too early. I still think about that watermelon cake to this day… GBBO 2.0 may not have the same magic that the BBC version sparked all those years ago, but Channel 4 has NOT destroyed the show. It has stuck with the roots that make the show work: slight naughtiness mixed with awe and a genuine hunger that makes you want to eat every single cake we watch being baked. I think we will always yearn for Mary Berry back beside Paul, but I will see out this series, cheering on Liam to win, and no doubt continue to watch for years to come, because who doesn’t love baking on the telly? It just makes you smile.
- Bethan Addison Illustration: Megan Furr
31st October, 1992 The candle went out. Darkness brought down its iron shutter over my eyes, rendering me powerless, panicked and petrified. I stumbled out of bed, the thin sheet tangled between my legs as I fumbled around on the floor for the matches; hands splaying frantically through my limited possessions. That’s when I realised; I had used the last one. Panting, I put my head between my knees and attempted to steady my broken and strangled breathing. What if I resurrect the layout of the room from memory? The bed, the chair, the photograph. The small, rectangular metalframed bed, the rusty metal that chair resides next to it and the photograph sits upon it. The harsh and cheap material of the sheet, the cold of the chair legs when pressed against my calves, the sharp edges of the photograph. Was there a door? A window? What colour were the walls? All I remember is the bed, the chair, the photograph. I stretch my shaking hand over to where I imagined the chair should be, and felt the outline of the photograph. I clasped it so hard that I could feel the edges digging into my palms. That felt reassuring, palpable, but as I stared at where the contents of photograph should be in front of me, I was only greeted with darkness. I felt something light trickling down my face; but in this moment I could have mistaken the gentle trail of my own sweat and tears for the caress of a ghost. I was scared. For it is not the absence of the candle, but the flame. Then again, nor is it precisely the flame, but the bereavement of how
the shadows it cast awakened the eye to see beyond the threshold of what is possible. My Mother sitting on the chair, hand clasping mine and smiling down at me. My Father sat on the bed, reading me a story. My little sister, sat at their feet, eyes wide with wonder. The memory was static; a fixed and frozen point; encapsulated within my mind and the photograph in my hands. But sometimes the memory replayed differently. My Father’s face would be a warped grimace, my Mother’s smiling face widen into a scream, and my little sister eyes, vacant and empty. I wasn’t there the night they died, the night He killed them. But their lifeless faces plague my mind in a way that makes it feel like I was the one who was the author of their pain, the one who torched the house alight and left them to burn and decay.
does remember into the actual correct chronology of events.” ‘Well you’d think after all this time, some answers would’ve come to the surface, but his mind is nothing like I’ve ever seen before. A man, stuck in the same loop of events, for the last 25 years. A complete murderous maniac. In my opinion, he’s a lost cause. At this stage, we should be considering a more permanent way of dealing with him.’ A plethora of newspaper clippings and evidence were pinned to the walls surrounding the two men. The one in the centre read: 31st October 1992. “Possessed” Twelve Year Old Boy Massacres Entire Family in Family Home. Underneath, a picture accompanying the article. In the ruins of a burnt down house, in the remnants a little boys room:
If only I hadn’t have gone to Henry’s Halloween campfire with my friends, if only I had stayed.
A woman sloped on a chair.
A young girl splayed on the floor.
“It’s interesting isn’t it?”
A man lying on a bed.
Two men watch through a glass window in a laboratory, wearing identical white overcoats with clipboards, surrounded by beeping computers and machinery. A man, 35 years old, sits on the floor by his bed side, wheezing and crying with his knees curled up to his chest, clutching a photograph.
- Eva Wakeford
“Indeed. Simply fascinating – the substitution of events of that night in his mind. It feels like we’ve tried everything to try and coerce the fragments he Images left to right: Wikimedia Commons, Max Pixel
Possession I lay; Dead, breathing. I sat; Eyes closed, staring. I stood; Quiet, swaying. Always watching you. Observing the things you do. My locks were curled tight. Only you could break in. You used to play with me, but now I play you. With a glazed shine you lie; soon you will be monopolized. You told me that I was your only dolly girl. So where are you whilst I count the tick tocks? I lie; Alive, gasping. I sit; Eyes wide, blind. I stand; Loud, still. I was abused with images of you and her. Her morals loose. Something you can’t drop and smash. I am over the games, hatred became rage. My seams burst and I woke; Falling off the shelf. You threw me out. Told her I was creepy, old, useless. I will revenge. Tick tock, bang thud. The bed and the clock scream. “Kill her. Kill her. Kill her” With new life leaking out of my cracked brain, I smile at her as she passes. Waiting to catch you alone. So I can slit your throat. Together we lie; Possessions on the shelf of dead reality.
- Imogen Swash
“We’ve distilled every fear into this pill. Consider it the closest you’ll get to Hell while you still have a heartbeat.” With a pitch like that, how could he resist? Perhaps it was the alpha male masculinity coursing his veins, or that dull plateau in life wedged between the racing 20s and the mellow 40s. Whatever the reason for placing the jet-black pill on his tongue, there was no hesitation. With the experienced swallow of a hedonist, he closed his eyes and waited. Perhaps this Halloween would bring back the terror he so craved after years of Fright Fests and haunted house sleepovers. At last, he hoped, he could meet with the primal dread that made man seek fire to fend off darkness, and flint to counter fangs. Gnarled talons dug into his skin. The creature sitting on his chair was farcical, were it not for the explosion of chemicals in his brain. A small part knew that this was a hallucination, a Frankenstein-like horror mash-up of everything Hollywood had tried to tell him was scary. From the pointed goblin ears to rows of yellow fangs, from the reptilian yellow eyes to the banshee scream, the monstrosity was a cluster of clichés. But his overwhelming sensation was of fear. As his mind adjusted to the avalanche of scintillating terror, diluting to absorb the visual artistry of the beast, his heart settled in his chest. Like the ebb and flow of the sea by night, the darkness receded, and he took back control of his convulsing thoughts. With a sneer, he moved to attack the beast cradling on his sternum. A flash of light, like a celestial shroud, covered the body of both man and monster. His hands, groping for leathery scales, struck soft skin. His head reared back in shock, slamming into the concrete floor. Dazed, with ragged breath, he looked once again at the figure seated on his chest. “No”, he whimpered. “Not you.” “Daddy, why am I missing?”, the silhouette asked, the voice strained. “You know where I am. Please come help me.” The light dimmed, and his fear was confirmed. Her porcelain skin was peppered with welts, eyes raw and reddened. Her neck, which had so recently worn her father’s hands like a necklace, now carried purplish bruises. What lay between her legs, even this author dares not write, for the image haunts the beholder from the pen nib to the noose. Her once-combed hair was matted with mud (or was it dried blood?). “Daddy, please come find me. It’s cold, and I’m scared”. The words floated down from bloody lips, through his chest, and weighed heavy on his spine. In that moment, the levees broke. This mountain of a man, a mass of muscle, began to weep. Not the laboured sobs of a panicked child, not even the wails of a bereft father. These tears wrenched the sanity from his mortal frame, harbingers of the agony of a soulless man. Perhaps beasts do lurk in the dark moors of Victorian novels, or the morbid tales in the campfire glow. But the echoes of terror lie in the hearts of men, remnants of the horrors born in the mind.
- Rahul Mehta
Image: (bottom) imgflip; (top) Wikipedia Commons, Entomology
Guided Tour The guide’s mortarboard cap is crooked, the tassel falling over the shadow of his face. Step lively. Keep close. These roads are a menace, particularly at dawn and dusk. You can never tell which way they’re going to come next. He steps forward and is followed, feet crunching the leaves that the hem of his gown leave untouched. It’s almost as if, he remarks as he reaches the other side, these buses have minds of their own… All of a sudden, a stark headlight cuts through the sunset, accompanied by a scream of breaks and a blur of blue. A door opens with a groan and an arm emerges, fingers outstretched. The guide turns back, just in time to watch the bus leave, and does a headcount. Lost one already? He tuts, impassively. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The next building he stops at is a slab of concrete with opaque windows. Angry spiked letters tumble out of the glass to pour down the sides, tangling in the bushes. From inside comes the hum of frantic pens scratching against paper. Congregation Hall, the guide’s voice echoes. I expect you’ll all do an exam in here at some point. He kicks an adverb out from under his feet and watches it sulk into the gutter.
Two more down? He eyes his shrinking group, the setting sun behind his head obscuring his features. I suppose we’d better get a move on. Did you ever hear, he asks, of the little girl with her red dancing shoes? He is leading them through a darkened hall, fill to the brim with writhing bodies. A strobe light flashes, showing the ivory white of his neck. Too full of pride, that was her fault. Couldn’t stop herself from looking at her shoes, and so was doomed to dance for all eternity. The floor underneath their feet is slippery with something that stinks metallic and the arms and legs that push against them are floppy, desperate. Hands grab, clawing at jackets to pull their owners back into the fray. The music is so loud, the beat pounding so hard against their eardrums that the guide has to shout to make himself heard. There was, of course, a way out for that little girl with her perpetually dancing red shoes.
This is spoken just as fingers of pond weed slither through the cracks of the walkways. They twine around legs, pulling taunt, and when they hiss they rattle like snake tongues. There have been tales of tragedy on these paths, terrible stories that I won’t bother to bore you with. In any case, I’m sure none of you would dare to take your leave of the road most travelled. He continues on without looking back, his gown gliding over the boardwalk planks with a rustle that drowns out the gulps of water moving further and further into the middle of the lake. Behind him, the pond weed crushes the walkway and the path disappears into darkness. He is pleased with himself, rubbing his bony fingers together as he comes to a stop next to a bridge. Well, I think that concludes our tour. He turns. Only one of you left?
He grimaces, but it is almost a smile.
He is evidently disappointed.
Rather grim, mind you.
I was expecting at least three, you all looked like such a sensible bunch. Still, I have reached this point before and found I had been talking to myself since the LCR. The UEA isn’t for everyone, I suppose.
He steps out of the door, and as his gown lifts they see he has been hiding an executioner’s axe, it’s blade still wet with blood.
Perhaps one day they’ll let you out.
The doors open and a pool of ink spills down the steps, black as blood and thick as tar. It is sticky, and once it touches your shoe it doesn’t let go.
He is enthused, as animated as they have yet to see him.
The guide shakes his head as the ink is sucked back up through the hall.
An excellent spot, one of the nicest on campus. I would advise you stick to the walkways, though.
He smiles, and when he raises his head the moon illuminates the grooves in his face where his skin ought to be. Any questions?
- Isabelle Harrison
The sun is almost fully set now, mist swirling around their feet as they tramp through the mud.
GET YOUR CON ON!
“What would you do if you could do anything in a Star Wars movie?”
“I’d stop Jabba the Hutt.” That came from Jeremy Bulloch, the revered human beneath the helm of Boba Fett. Resonating across a modest stage with a humorously matter-of-fact tone, Mr. Bulloch’s was one of the many snippets of good-humoured nerdery that warmed a drizzly Norfolk Showground last weekend. Initially, arriving early had me wondering. I’d had experience with morning arrivals at London’s MCM Con a few years ago, which always felt rather dead – or at least Zombie Walker-level alive – until around 1pm. And having been awake since 5 to commute, it’d become more overwhelming than anything else. Not here. I think what distances Nor Con from larger Cons is its proclivity for remaining authentically lively, friendly and unyieldingly geeky no matter how many folks turned up. Between the Norwich Star Wars Club, kittedup cosplayers and a roster of indie artists, there’s
a noticeable sense of local community there; something that feels an inviting hybrid between a relaxed live gig, and a celebratory yard sale held by your favourite pop culture collectors.
I probably should’ve seen the friendly nerddom coming, really. Outside the event’s rather glaring title, I didn’t really need to enter the arena at all to see the spangling white Ecto-1 replica plunked near the entrance. Driven by one of Spielberg’s Gremlins, of course, while Slimer and a some-twenty-foot inflatable Stay Puft laughed it up with a couple Daleks beside the TARDIS. If nothing else, it set the tone for the grin-inducing encounters I had from then on. A lot of Nor Con functioned like a nostalgia museum, featuring discussions with various actors surrounding their experiences on Star Wars, Harry Potter, or Doctor Who, and a K.I.T.T replica signed by David Hasselhoff. It wasn’t just about the pop culture giants of the screen, either. Hefty portions of the event were devoted to gaming, with contributions from Norwich Gaming Festival affording attendees a go at Sonic the Hedgehog on Sega Mega Drive, or take a dive into hyperspace in a Rogue One VR mission. That was more a nosedive in my case. Apparently X-Wing proficiency isn’t in my skill-set. Outside the attractions, the event is intensely fan-driven, and it was often that drive that produced the memorable moments. Running into Chewbacca was a highlight, or having myself zapped by a remote-controlled Dalek,
or getting photobombed by Pikachu. It was encouraging to see so many clubs and societies welcoming those with similar interests. Indeed, our own GameSoc appeared, complete with prosthetic cosplay-horns. There’s always a bit of a concern attached to convention prices. With a student loan happily fizzling its way into rent and utility heaven, my bank statement hasn’t always looked as pretty as all the cool Con stuff I wangle. The price tag is often validated by quality or collectability, but considering the time and effort obviously behind Nor Con’s varied marketstuffs, I’m surprised by how many reasonably-priced stalls I found. Most were handmade, running the gamut from fleecy Pokémon plushies and Rick and Morty pins, to hand-engraved containers to store your D&D gear, not to mention the several independent comics. Example? Humon’s satirical Scandinavia and the World strips for one, detailing the reactions of each country to various national happenings with a tastefully stereotypical bent. Or the Chubbiecorn colouring book, featuring various plus-sized unicorns engaged in all manner of daily activities. The only thing I was perplexed by was the lack of Blade Runner love, what with 2049 recently out. The amount Nor Con packs into its modest arena serves to evidence of the thought the organisers must’ve given to accessibility. Perhaps especially given the culture of cinemagoing, video gaming and/or cosplay-creating the con ultimately celebrates, it follows that not everyone may have the funds to gain access to the spirituality family conventions can offer some people. A general day ticket is roughly the same price as your standard London Con, yet tinted with a local creativity that - for me at least – quite surpasses it. I don’t want to give the impression I’m hating on MCM, but as someone who prefers something a tiny bit more relaxed, my Con was on in Norwich. - Charlie Nicholson
Photographs: Tony Allen, Stormtrooper: Pixabay, aitoff, Tardis: Pixabay, succo
Venue, issue 342 (Halloween edition)