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DOCTOR WHO JODIE WHITTAKER EXCLUSIVE sci-fi 306

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E XCLUSIV E!

daredevil season 3 On set with the Man Without Fear

halloween featuri

SUSPIRIA CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA THE HAUNTING of hill house OVERLORD bruce campbell slaughterhouse rulez

and LOADS MORE SCARES!

Jamie Lee Curtis and John Carpenter on the return of Michael Myers


Red Alert Nov 2018

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A self-professed fan of the ’80s New Teen Titans, Geoff Johns reimagined the team in the 2003 Teen Titans comic book.

WRITER INTERVIEW

REMEMBER THE TITANS The Justice League’s youth wing gets its own TV show in DC’s Titans

“Fuck Batman.” If you saw the trailer for the upcoming Titans TV series, you’ll know Robin drops the F-bomb while dispatching a squad of goons. Set to launch this month on the newly launched DC Universe, DC’s very own streaming service, this grittier, live-action incarnation of the team clearly decimates the whimsical nature of the animated Teen Titans Go! series. Titans sees Robin/Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), Raven/Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft), Starfire/Koriand’r (Anna Diop) and Beast Boy/ Gar Logan (Ryan Potter) assembling to defeat a growing evil that threatens not only one of their own, but the entire world. “With the first season being all about Rachel, the series already leans into the horror element, and darkness and inner darkness; Rachel dealing with a literal darkness and Dick dealing with a literal darkness that’s been cultivated during his time with Batman,” says DC Entertainment chief creative officer Geoff Johns, who also acts as writer and executive producer on the show. “People, in time, come to understand the context of that line and the reason behind that line. There’s a story there definitely worth telling. Right away, you go, ‘Why would he ever have this attitude?’ “This is a period of darkness for all of these characters,” he continues. “Every one of them is lost. Every one of these characters is struggling to find out who they are. They will only be able to do that with one another’s help. Picking up Robin when he’s in a real dark place, when he’s left Batman, gave us a story we really wanted to tell in conjunction with Rachel’s story.” Titans’ debut taps into Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s classic ’80s comic book run.

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Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly as Hawk and Dove.


Red Alert Nov 2018

Titans debuts on DC Universe in the US on 12 October. UK broadcast is TBC.

don’t quote me

“A lot of people have to sign off on that, obviously. not just the Internet.” Jon Hamm isn’t counting on playing Batman...

creator EXCLUSIVE

aerial assault SCI-FI TV ROUND UP

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Brenton Thwaites’s Dick Grayson has an attitude problem.

Each episode introduces another hero as the group comes together. Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove (Minka Kelly) enter the picture fairly quickly. Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) joins later on. These flawed individuals are anything but a well-oiled machine in the beginning. “They aren’t a team at all when we meet them,” says Johns. “We are meeting Dick Grayson after he’s left Gotham and tried to leave Robin behind, for reasons we’ll find out in the series. We meet Rachel when she’s starting to discover her abilities more To become a and more. Titan, you must Eventually, we’ll have cool hair. meet Kory (Starfire) and Gar in their situations. But they are very separate when we first meet them. Their relationships evolve and change over the course of the season. “Expect both the expected and the unexpected,” Johns adds. “One of the things that Batman line did so well was make you sit up and go, ‘Wait. What is this?’ in a positive and negative way. It wasn’t what people Teagan Croft expected. They’re plays the young going to be empath Raven. surprised how that plays out. I love the Titans. We really wanted to create a series that captured the spirit of it, but do it in our way, too, like Marv and George did. And also celebrate the characters for who they are. It’s true to the lore in many, many ways, but we do have some twists and turns that we’ve taken so that it’s going to surprise people. Hopefully, in a way that really engages them.” BC

Marvel reportedly looking to bring MCU characters like Loki and Scarlet Witch to TV in limited series on Disney’s new streaming service. AMC’s plans to get the most out of The Walking Dead include spinoff series and maybe movies. Get Out director Jordan Peele to host his Twilight Zone reboot. New Jean-Luc Picard-led Star Trek spin-off to be set in 2399 – two decades after Nemesis. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul to join Westworld’s third season in as-yet unconfirmed role. Henry Cavill to take lead in Netflix’s The Witcher series. Avatar: The Last Airbender getting live-action reboot on Netflix – with the original writers on board. Gotham’s Crystal Reed to play Dr Abby Arcane in Swamp Thing show. Lost’s Jeremy Davis to play Arkham doctor in this year’s Arrowverse crossover. Second series of His Dark Materials ordered, even though the first is still in production.

NEW SHADES

VE Schwab on her Shades Of Magic prequel comic

VE Schwab is showing us a new side to the parallel Londons of her Shades Of Magic novels. Not only does The Steel Prince come in comic book form, it’s a prequel story detailing the early years of future king Maxim Maresh. “Maxim’s definitely an antagonist for a large part of the series but I knew he had a backstory,” Schwab tells Red Alert. “I didn’t entirely know what it was – I knew he had a life before he was king and that it would change our relationship to him – but it was something that could not be conveyed in Conjuring Of Light when we learned about it, because there were too many other things that needed to happen.” While Schwab admits book readers don’t need to catch up with the comics – “though I think it only adds to the experience of the books,” she says – they do offer the chance to take a deeper look at her richly imagined world and its characters. “The way I see it, one of the coolest parts of my job is that I get fan art, this beautiful experience where somebody has taken something you’ve written and interpreted it through a different medium,” she says. “Comics are like commissioned fan art. Every time I get to see a new page that Andrea [Olimpieri, artist] and Enrica [Angiolini, colourist] have done, it’s like I fangirl all over again. It’s really cool and collaborative and honestly, I couldn’t ask for a more wonderful process.” RE The Steel Prince is out now from Titan. november 2018 | sfx magazine |

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“I AM

” E O D T L AU RI E S R e Shape. “This h t e l t t a b o t k c a b tchfield Ja m ie L e e C u r t is is Se k ic N s l l e t e sh nal gig,” was a very emotio [Inspects goosebumps] This is double! Double!

SFX is rarely called upon to

inspect the forearms of film stars. But Jamie Lee Curtis is insistent. “I have goosebumps,” she announces, inching up her sleeves to reveal pimpling flesh. “On both arms. I want evidence in your story! I have goosebumps on both arms. Because that is the integrity of this Halloween movie.” Curtis, you quickly realise, is barely a layer of skin away from Laurie Strode, the role that first made her name – and the one she’s playing again, 40 years on. She’s an intense presence, alternately playful – SFX is greeted with a burst of Dick Van Dyke mockney – and so direct she all but harpoons you to the wall. At one point she’s in actual tears remembering a particularly emotional day’s filming. A crying film star is quite a thing to share a room with. “She’s mine,” she says of the ultimate Final Girl. “She’s me. She embodied everything that was good about me. I am emotionally connected to her, without question. Deeply.”

Are you surprised to be back playing Laurie Strode? Did you feel you’d put a full stop to that character and that franchise?

You know what, I didn’t put a full stop to anything. Look, I’m going to die someday. There’s the full stop. Prior to that? I’m open for business. I’m a creative human being. So for me there was no “I’ve done that, I’m not going to do that anymore,” because what they came up with was just brilliant. Every time you tell a new version you add another layer of plaster, so you ended up with a very ugly franchise. It became so convoluted because of so many layers of storytelling. And what David [Gordon Green, director] did was basically say, “I’ve

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stripped the wallpaper. The room is bare. It is as bare as it was 40 years ago. So forget all of that. That doesn’t exist. All that exists is something that happened to your character on October 31st 1978.”

Both arms!

How did that EXPERIENCE impact on laurie EMOTIONALLY?

She was under-sexualised!

There was no trauma therapy for Laurie in 1978. Nothing. This girl had a cut on her arm. They stitched up her arm. Period. No one sent in a team to take care of Laurie Strode. So what happens to someone like that? That’s what this movie’s about. That person becomes the only person who ever looked Michael Myers in the eye and lived. And no one’s talking to her. No one’s trying to help her through it. And that’s what’s profound.

Did she feel like a revolution when you were playing her?

You say you’re emotionally connected to Laurie. What was the experience of playing her again?

This took a toll. This was a very emotional gig. Big surprise to me how emotional I was during the making of this. Physically it was a violent movie – I have a cracked rib. I’m wearing a rib belt right now from it. How did you crack your rib?

Double M. Mister Myers. I wrassled a bit. It was a gruelling physical experience and a very emotional experience. The last scene I shot was Laurie watching Michael leaving the hospital to go to a maximum security prison. Forty years of waiting for that moment. She’s sitting alone in a pick-up truck outside and she loses her mind. And we shot it. It was the last thing we shot. And the entire crew had a nametag on that said “I am Laurie Strode” [tears in eyes]. When I showed up on set that night to do the scene alone in a truck, with just me, nobody else, reacting and feeling, the relief, the horror, the trauma, all cascading on her.

Laurie was a revolutionary character in the original Halloween. She was strong and she was smart and she wasn’t overtly sexualised…

No. Because remember this. She only became strong out of necessity. See, the Laurie we meet 40 years later is prepared. Laurie then wasn’t prepared for anything except doing homework. She was a complete innocent. And her strength came out of ingenuity and her reaction to something. There’s a great quote that I love, from a book by Marisha Pessl – life hinges on a couple of seconds you never see coming, and what you do in those seconds determines everything from then on. And you won’t know what you’re going to do until you’re there. And that’s really why Laurie Strode is so powerful to me. Life hinged for her in those two seconds, in that closet. And now 40 years later we are seeing the result of it. You’re a cosplayer, right?

I can throw down. I need costumes with masks because it’s a little hard for me to cosplay as myself because then people just want to take my picture. So you can never cosplay as Laurie Strode?

That’s why I don’t have to go out on Halloween ever, for the rest of my life. I get to just be at home and give candy to kids who don’t come to my house, because I live in a place where people don’t come. I get the bucket of candy ready, every year. That’s my Halloween. Now I have to get some tissues because you made me cry…


halloween

there was no trauma therapy for laurie in 1978. No one came in to take care of her

Jamie Lee Curtis is ready to kick ass with director David Gordon Green.

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halloween

h a l lo w e en

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r’s classic as a te en rp Ca n h Jo ed in ag im Rob Zombie re uge box office h to – ie ov m se ou dh in gr grungy sponse. As he tells re al ic it cr le ib rr te d an s succes worrying about what t ar st u yo “If , ll de ad W m Calu e screwed…” other people think you ar t’s hard to believe that Michael Myers (or “The Shape” as he is also known) has been embedded in pop culture for 40 years – and yet no single filmmaker seems to know exactly what to do with the mysterious masked marauder. By Halloween II (1981) it was revealed Myers was in fact trying to kill his younger sister – giving the character motivation for his initial small-town murder spree. For tenth-anniversary sequel Halloween IV in 1988 he was awoken from a decade-long coma to chase after his telepathic niece. However, when audiences got to the sixth film, The Curse Of Michael Myers, in 1995 a decision had made been made to link Myers to an ancient cult of druids that practised crop harvesting, incest and blood sacrifice – and not necessarily in that order. When Jamie Lee Curtis returned to the series for H20 in 1998 we were back to a sister vs brother showdown – but even that is being retconned for this year’s reimagining, which picks up 40 years after the original and scraps the family link altogether. You can imagine Rob Zombie’s frustration when he was offered the chance to revamp the franchise with a remake… “Yeah, I mean there was so much stuff in the old films I wanted to avoid,” remembers the director. “They had already made eight Halloween movies – all of different quality – by the time I came along and I took a completely different approach. I wanted to do a new take

on the whole series and that is why my Halloween was more of a serial killer movie – we got to look at this troubled kid’s childhood in more detail and what made him Michael Myers. I wanted my version of Halloween to feel a lot more real because the previous films had done everything except for maybe sending him to outer space.” Nevertheless, Zombie’s film still chose to follow the legacy introduced by Halloween II in 1981: his Michael Myers is revealed to be chasing his sister and hell-bent on killing her. Moreover, despite his claim to realism, the Halloween remake (which settles into John Carpenter territory in its second half, but with added lewd dialogue, nudity and gore) veers into the supernatural realm during its ending. Myers is – once again – revealed to be

Michael really didn’t like that dress.

invincible and impervious to pain (taking several bullets to the face, neck and back and a fall from the top of an old dark mansion)… “Okay, yeah, it was still the story of this guy searching for his sister,” admits Zombie. “But the guy was definitely more real… I didn’t have him appear and reappear in the movie like in the Carpenter film. I wanted to avoid people thinking he was supernatural. But it was not an easy movie to make. I kept being asked, ‘Hey, should we show this to Carpenter or so and so from the original and see what they think?’ And my response was just, ‘What the fuck do I care?’ When I get asked what my advice is in this business I tell people to just focus on what they want to do because if you start worrying about what other people think you are screwed [laughs]. I am oblivious to all that. I love Halloween and I wanted to do my own thing with it. Whether people like my Halloween or don’t like it is irrelevant to me. At least it has my own personal stamp on there.”

behind the mask

With more backstory (we learn that Myers was abused by a redneck stepfather and took to torturing animals), Zombie’s Halloween certainly changes pace from Carpenter’s movie. However, what many fans disliked was when Halloween settled into familiar slice-and-dice territory – with a group of teens terrorised by the familiar knife-wielding weirdo – few of the characters were especially likeable…

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of a

e , Shirley Jackson’s tale us Ho ll Hi Of ng ti un Th e Ha all screen.

coming to the sm “vile, diseased” mansion, is lks to Ian Berriman ta an ag an Fl e ik M er nn ru Show

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the haunting oF hill house

rchitecture whose every angle is askew. A labyrinthine layout, with rooms arranged in concentric circles. A vertiginous spiral staircase, leading to a balcony from which a woman once launched herself into space, her neck in a noose. Who lives in a house like this? No one with any good sense… Shirley Jackson’s 1959 novel The Haunting Of Hill House – and The Haunting, the classic 1963 film which adapted it – unfolds in one of horror’s least desirable residences. Now it’s welcomed new tenants for a 10-part Netflix TV series. It’s a dream gig for showrunner/director Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Ouija: Origin Of Evil), who read the book at a tender age. “It had a real impact on me,” Flanagan tells SFX. “The characters are so beautifully drawn. I also saw the Robert Wise film when I was very young – it absolutely terrified me! As I got older and grew to appreciate the film’s artistry, what struck me was how it managed to frighten people by showing them absolutely nothing. Wise did more with sound effects and a close-up of a door than most horror movies accomplish with millions of dollars of computer-generated effects!”

shirley valentine

In both Jackson’s book and Wise’s film, a paranormal researcher rents Hill House and invites three guests to this “place of contained ill will”: the highly-strung Eleanor Vance (Nell for short), who experienced poltergeist activity as a child; Theodora, a vivacious lesbian with ESP ability; Luke Sanderson, the property’s disreputable future heir. Soon they’re encountering a mysterious “cold spot”, being woken by furious banging, and finding sinister messages scrawled on the walls. “I’ve always considered that film to be perfect, and have revisited it many times,” Flanagan says. “So when Amblin Partners said they were interested in expanding it into a season-long TV property, my first reaction was, ‘Well, how?’ The material fits so comfortably into a feature film format, and Bob Wise had already done it perfectly.” His solution: keeping key elements but “running it through a different prism” by throwing out the key cast and assigning their names to different characters. So Nell, Theo and Luke are now three of five siblings in the fractured Crain family; Shirley (after Jackson) and Steven (a nod to The Haunting fan Spielberg?) are the other two. The series jumps back and forth between events they

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CHILLING adventures of sabrina

tflix and we e n n o l ir g w e n y to Aguirrer There’s a spook e b o R OR T CREA ... agic h a hear she can do m u r e s O f S a b r in wit t n e v d a g in l il h Sacasa talks c a blood moon r e d n u d r a l l a B y Kimberle

Sabrina had been practising this dance routine for hours.

eing a teenage girl can feel like hell on earth. Unless you’re pretty and popular, it’s a nightmare of insecurities, trying to make new friends, getting good grades and surviving mortifying crushes. But imagine how much worse it would be if you had to live between two worlds as a half mortal and half witch. If you were split between being an ordinary high school girl and a young princess of the Church of the Night… When Sabrina Spellman debuted in Archie’s Mad House in 1962 her appeal was simple: she was a sweet, bubbly blonde whose magical hijinks got her into cauldrons of trouble. But 50 years on, audiences have darker, more complex appetites. It’s the perfect time for Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina, a Netflix series based on the Archie Horror comic book that weaves a darker story for the budding sorceress. This isn’t a world of charms and sparkles, but one where Sabrina eats human flesh for dinner, engages in necromancy and dances with her coven in the pitch-black woods. Luckily, series creator Roberto AguirreSacasa has experience with spiky reimaginings. He gave the dweeby teens of Archie Comics an edgy makeover in hit show Riverdale and brought their comic counterparts into the zombie apocalypse in Afterlife With Archie. “After working on Afterlife, I began thinking about a companion series featuring Sabrina, who has a cameo in the comic,” he says. “And I thought, well I really love those old Satanic horror movies from the ’60s and ’70s. Classic ones like Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. I thought, that would be fun to give Sabrina a different style and a different identity.” Chilling Adventures takes Sabrina back to her childhood, where she’s orphaned as a baby and adopted by her witchy aunts, Hilda and Zelda. Sabrina grows up broken in two, learning the dark arts at home while outwardly living as a normal girl who attends Baxter High. As she nears her 16th

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irst, let’s address the Cloverfield in the room. “Yeah, this is not a Cloverfield movie,” says Overlord director Julius Avery when SFX asks him to clarify speculation that his film will tie in to the monster franchise. Back in January, bloggers linked Overlord to Cloverfield, mostly because it’s produced by JJ Abrams and financed by the Cloverfield production house Bad Robot. “Insiders” claimed that Overlord would be the fourth instalment in the Cloververse, after this year’s The Cloverfield Paradox debuted on Netflix, something seemingly confirmed by a trailer full of military mayhem and body-horror creatures. That speculation left Avery confused, if not a little miffed. “It’s always great to have interest in your film,” says the Australian director, somewhat hesitantly. “I mean it’s not a Cloverfield movie so I

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don’t know what else to say.” Case very much closed. What Overlord actually is, as it turns out, is far more intriguing than the next entry in an arguably flagging franchise. Set in the midst of World War II in 1944, it sees a band of soldiers crash-landing in the French countryside, where they’re on a mission to destroy a radio tower that will prove instrumental in the D-Day victory of the Allies. Although the film takes its name from the real-life codename (“Operation Overlord”) for the Battle of Normandy, once its soldiers plunge into the deep, dark woods, it breaks from reality for what Avery gleefully calls “completely bonkers, like Indiana Jones on acid”. The soldiers end up in a French village, where they meet a young woman (Mathilde Ollivier) and her brother, who are attempting to evade the clutches of a Nazi general (Pilou Asbæk). Meanwhile, the nearby church appears to be host to some strange Nazi experimentation.


0verlord

war o f Ov e r l o r d delves s A . it w o n k e sw It’s war, but not a , Josh Winning II r a W d l r o W f o e into the weird sid a monster movie with a twist... is finds out why this

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heroes & inspirations jodie whittaker

jodie whitta ker

What makes a Time Lord tick? The new Doctor shares her faves with Nick Setchfield Portraits by Andrew H Walker

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in the first place. I didn’t study film. I wanted to slide down the waterfall. Essentially I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I didn’t want to be tied up going, ‘Indy!’”

MARTHA PLIMPTON

My first female hero was probably Martha Plimpton in The Goonies, because in that crowd that’s who I could see myself as. Really I wanted to be Mikey, or Chunk, because he gets to swing on a rope, but I looked at her and she had that awkward look and the short hair… I had short hair. And Jennifer Connelly in Labyrinth, because she had flaws and I loved seeing that as a young girl, seeing her trying to

Watching Martha Plimpton starring in The Goonies was formative.

right her mistakes, through this extraordinary and absolutely terrifying adventure. My role models were very often played by boys or men. In ET I wanted to be Elliott. Maybe it was just down to being brought up in a house where we didn’t have this gender-specific upbringing but I never thought I wouldn’t be able to do it because I was a girl. I was used to watching Atreyu in NeverEnding Story and wanting to be that part. I didn’t want to be the princess while everything collapses around you! Now I’m about to be embraced as a female version of Doctor Who. I love the fact I can look up to anyone and they don’t have to look like me, which is hopefully what will happen with this, like the young boys won’t suddenly go, “I don’t want to look up to a girl!”

PETER O’TOOLE

All my scenes in Venus were with him. It wasn’t about hitting marks, it wasn’t about anything except exploring a scene and the characters and to do that with one of the greatest actors of our time… It came at a perfect time because I was so young and so naïve. If it was now I’d be not intimidated but much more nervous of the moment. I was just a bit of a stroppy teenager. I was like, “Hiya, you alright?” I asked him loads of questions and he always gave me wonderful answers. I also had a hundred Peter O’Toole

getty (1), rex (1)

odie Whittaker has a cosplay confession. “I wanted to go to Comic-Con as Dustin from Stranger Things,” she reveals, clearly unafraid to cross the streams of geek culture and potentially trigger the total collapse of reality. “I would have loved to have given myself a really tight curl and a baseball cap. But I couldn’t, because I was Jodie! I was my own person! I went as the Thirteenth Doctor instead…” As the latest incarnation of the Gallifreyan icon Whittaker is on the brink of becoming a hero and an inspiration herself. So what better moment to sit down with her in a London hotel suite and discover the stuff that rocks her universe. She gives vibrant, heartfelt conversation, her brain pinballing between passions at authentic Time Lord speed: everything from Annihilation to Al Pacino to Arcade Fire (“‘Wake Up’ is the song I’d have played at my funeral!”) earn honorary mentions. She’s one of us. Someone who relishes the opportunity to geek out. “I am in love with film and television,” she tells SFX, “and even now I can be knocked sideways by something, and be so excited.” Hello, Stranger Things. “That kind of adventure is absolutely what made me fall in love with cinema, and also why I wanted to be an actor


heroes & inspirations jodie whittaker

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daredevil

efenders, Matt D e h T f dead at the end o brink for the third Left for e h t m o r f s Murdock return Mottr am is s e m il v Ja . e d e r a D season of yet e grittiest series h t r o f on set

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daredevil

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Reviews cinema

Halloween The Killing Joke released 19 October

18 | 109 minutes Director David Gordon Green Cast Jamie Lee Curtis, Nick Castle, Judy Greer, Andi Matichak, Will Patton

Outside of Star Trek and Star Wars you’d be hard pressed to find a series with a more convoluted canon than Halloween. The good news for viewers only casually acquainted with the slasher king’s unwieldy cinematic legacy is that this new Halloween, produced by horror hero du jour Jason Blum, is a direct continuation of John Carpenter’s classic 1978 chiller, with everything from Halloween II to Rob Zombie’s risible reboots unceremoniously consigned to the bin. And while there’s no question this David Gordon Green-directed Halloween is one of the better sequels to emerge from a series that could generously be described as “patchy”, there’s not enough here to warrant such a flagrant act of franchise-obliterating hubris. Releasing on the 40th anniversary of The Shape’s debut, it sees Jamie Lee Curtis returning as Laurie Strode for the first time since her “death” (now retconned) in 2002’s Resurrection. Retooled as a Sarah Connor-style survivor, Laurie’s spent the intervening decades preparing for Michael’s

inevitable return – tricking her house out with traps, and arming herself to the teeth. But this doomsday prophesying has come at the expense of Laurie’s relationships with her daughter Karen (Judy Greer) and granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), who roll their eyes at any mention of the boogeyman. When Michael escapes on Halloween night, 40 years to the day since he last stabbed his way through Haddonfield, Laurie is the only one ready for his return. For fans of the series, there’s a lot the latest Halloween gets right. It comes remarkably close to replicating the feel of Carpenter’s trailblazing babysitter slasher, down to the period grain and bouts of abrupt silence – clearly it’s a film that’s been made with a great deal of affection for the source material. Carpenter’s involvement as composer is worthy of special mention. Incorporating themes old and new, his score is an immense evolution, and the one aspect of this Halloween which feels like a true step forward. Carpenter’s propulsive soundtrack also contributes to the film’s relentless pace. After a flat opening sequence set in the asylum Michael’s called home for four decades, the first killing

It’s so annoying when the remote falls under the sofa.

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He realised he’d forgotten to bring flowers. swiftly opens the bloodgates. Easily reaching a double-digit death count, Myers’s massacre has a pleasingly nasty streak. Heads are crushed underfoot like ripe watermelons, teenagers are skewered by absurdly large kitchen knives, and Michael’s indiscriminate butchery throws up some shocking victims. If all you want from a Halloween film is to witness The Shape (played in part by original actor Nick Castle) butchering folk, you’ll have a hoot. But this Myers-like singleminded focus on slaughter comes at the expense of progress; there’s

Slaughter comes at the expense of progress only so much mileage you can get out of a lovingly crafted pastiche. Curtis consistently delivers the goods as the battle-hardened Strode, but the idea that Laurie is still traumatised by her first encounter with The Shape is dealt with in such a cursory manner it’s


Reviews DAYS OF THE DEAD The original

Halloween inspired a calendar of carnage

FRIDAY THE 13TH

T he 1980 film which kickstarted the Jason Voorhees franchise takes place on 13 June 1979 – which, confusingly, wasn’t actually a Friday (it was a Wednesday). However, 13 June 1958, the date of the first murder at Camp Crystal Lake, was.

NEW YEAR’S EVIL

I n this 1980 slasher, the host of a new-wave show is phoned up by a switchbladewielding psycho who plans to commit a murder each time midnight strikes in a different US time zone. And you thought having to watch Hootenanny was bad.

MY BLOODY VALENTINE

arguable that H20 presented a more nuanced take on the psychology of the Final Girl. It’s also a film that panders to its audience in fun but flimsy ways, with fan-pleasing twists on famous shots that only die-hard Halloween fans will get a kick out of. Co-written by funnyman Danny McBride, it also aims to tickle the funny bone while going for the jugular. But too often the knowing gags come at the expense of scares – with one brutal babysitter killing accompanied by a comic relief kid’s running commentary, undercutting any tension. The

humour isn’t deployed in particularly smart ways either. Rather than a Scream-style deconstruction of slashers, Halloween is content to poke fun at horror tropes (“I know a short cut!”) while simultaneously deploying them. It’s telling that the film is at its best in the midst of the final stretch, when the jokes are jettisoned for a nailbiting showdown. Wisely, Green and McBride resist the urge to fill in Myers’s backstory (even making light of the idea that Michael and Laurie are siblings) but this reluctance to

develop character also extends to the rest of the cast, particularly Allyson, who has no discernible personality beyond occasionally getting a bit embarrassed by her grandma. Frustratingly, the film’s singular good idea – that Laurie’s fateful encounter with The Shape has created a monstrous parallel between the two – is never developed in a meaningful way. That’s indicative of a film that, for all the fresh blood involved, is bereft of fresh ideas. Jordan Farley Jamie Lee Curtis has now appeared in more Halloween films than any other actor (six, including Halloween III’s voice cameo).

T he indie rock band took their name from this Canadian film (1981). Twenty years ago, mine supervisors sloped off to the Valentine’s Day dance, causing a disaster. When a group of local teens revive the event, a gas mask-wearing miner poops the party with a pickaxe.

APRIL FOOL’S DAY

C ollege kids spending the weekend at an island mansion drop one by one in this 1986 horror. Prepare to howl with outrage at a twist ending where the joke is firmly on the audience…

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Reviews

home entertainment

HEREDITARY Paimon plans released OUT NOW!

2018 | 15 | Blu-ray/DVD/download Director Ari Aster Cast Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff, Milly Shapiro, Ann Dowd, Mallory Bechtel

You can have your cake and eat it. Writer/director Ari Aster’s remarkable feature debut proves as much, delivering both an utterly authentic portrait of a family crushed by grief and an outrageous supernatural shocker. Hingeing on a gut-punch twist that’s up there with Alfred Hitchcock killing off the apparent heroine in the first act of Psycho (one which we won’t spoil for you here), it’s both one of the most gruellingly harrowing horror films of the last decade and one whose snowballing insanity may, ultimately, send a grin spreading across your face, like a widening crack in the ice. It centres on the Graham family: mother Annie (Toni Collette), father Steve (Gabriel Byrne), 16-year-old slacker Peter (Alex Wolff ) and old-beyond-her-years 13-year-old Charlie (the remarkable Milly Shapiro). The film opens with the funeral of Annie’s mother – by all accounts a rather cold fish, from whom she was estranged. But the repressed

emotions which her passing brings bursting to the surface in Annie’s support group are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the suffering she has in store… Because Hereditary is emotionally exhausting viewing, to the point where you feel for the likes of Collette and Wolff, forced to put themselves in a headspace that must have been draining to operate in for months on end. The two take differing approaches, with Wolff near-catatonic with shock or simmering away like a covered pan ready to blow off its lid, but both performances are simply stunning, building a sense of total verisimilitude as the family fractures. An awkward meal which ends in an explosion of repressed resentments is particularly powerful; Collette deserves an Oscar nomination at the very least. After that jaw-dropping pivot, the film starts to move in a different direction – almost imperceptibly at first, but with gathering speed, entering the arena of horror classics such as The Exorcist, The Devil Rides Out and (particularly) Rosemary’s Baby, and eventually achieving such outrageous darkness that it becomes bleakly, blackly comedic (to the point where even the characters are forced to acknowledge the absurdity).

When you realise you just missed this week’s Bake-Off.

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Barbie’s Dreamhouse had nothing on this. There are some – generally the sort of people who are a bit snobby about horror anyway – who will see this final reel drift as some kind of betrayal of the classicism of the film’s opening hour. They’re misguided. Horror is a genre with an astonishing breadth of possibilities, and a film which explores its axes to their full extent should be applauded. It’s a beautifully crafted piece of filmmaking, too, with some lovely touches. The fact that Annie is an artist who creates miniature tableaux, including ones of the family home, is more than a

Hinges on a gut-punch twist up there with Psycho winningly quirky detail, cleverly helping to create a creeping sense that the Grahams are merely the pawns of some higher power. Without ever getting overly flashy, Aster and his cinematographer Pawel Pogorzelski pull some delightful moves, with the camera


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ARI ASTER Writer/director of Hereditary

What were your cinematic inspirations? Nicolas Roeg’s films affected me from an early age, especially Don’t Look Now – I see Hereditary as having a spiritual link to that. There’s something in his editing where his images feel psychically linked in a way that really troubled me as a kid. The Cook, The Thief, His Wife And Her Lover – that isn’t really considered a horror film, which is strange because it’s as macabre as anything I’ve ever seen. Peter Greenaway strikes me as one of our most authentic misanthropes; you can really feel his hatred for humanity! I was also looking at Roman Polanski as far as the blocking in relation to the camera – there’s nobody better than him at that.

proceeding on a stately descent into the earth in a funeral scene, or disorientatingly performing a loop as Annie travels down a corridor. And with its inexorably rising whines and throbbing undercurrents that subtly bubble away like a distant engine, avant garde saxophonist Colin Stetson’s score plays a key role in ratcheting up the tension to the point where you may feel a dizzying tightness building in your chest. If there’s one lingering frustration, it’s that the film doesn’t provide crystal clarity on exactly how all the elements of its

supernatural scheme slot together, even on a second viewing. But then, that just leaves you more to enjoy puzzling over on visits three and four. Extras Disappointingly sparse – where’s the commentary by Aster? Remarks from the writer/ director are restricted to “Cursed: The True Nature Of Hereditary” (20 minutes), a pretty bog-standard Making Of; featuring all the main cast, plus production designer Grace Yun, it’s pretty low on insights. You also get nine chapters of extended/deleted scenes (17 minutes). Gabriel Byrne and Alex

Wolff lost out the most in the edit room, with the relationship between father and son a little further fleshed out; we also get to see a distraught Annie smashing up her art at length, rather than cutting to the aftermath. There’s some good work by the actors here – especially from Wolff, as Peter breaks down in tears and howls, “I’m nothing!” – but even with such moments of angst excised there’s still plenty to go around… Ian Berriman Look for the words “liftoach pandemonium”. Liftoach is Hebrew for open. Pandemonium is Hell’s capital in Milton’s Paradise Lost.

The film has some remarkable performances. Alex Wolff really threw himself into the part and basically became Peter for two months! Which for a director is honestly a joy, because you get to just talk to the character for two months, which makes things rather easy. Toni Collette works in a very different way to that where she’s extremely disciplined and able to jump in with both feet, then right when you say “Cut!” she’s already out of the scene. Which is an amazing thing to watch.

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Reviews

Stephen Kelly

november 2018 | sfx magazine |

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