The Horror Issue
Inside: Overview with the Vampire TFR Horror Cinema.indd 1
A note from the Editor Hi everyone, and welcome to the Horror Issue! As it’s Halloween season, we could hardly have gone without doing a horror theme for this October/November issue. And we could hardly have gone without devoting significant page space to that uniquitous horror villain which is currently so in vogue, the vampire.
How to Survive a Generic Horror Film p3
Inside, Bairbre Holmes revives a discusion of Vampyr, a film forgotten by most as one of the first-ever vampire films, alongside Nosferatu and Dracula. Ines Novacic then takes a look at changing depictions of vampires throughout the years.
And yes, we talk about Twilight. How could we not?
...& Finally p5
But there’s much more on top of that. Horror cinema is, of course, too large and unwieldy a topic to cover comprehensively in 16 pages - or anywhere, for that matter - but we sure have tried. I think the 5 Word Reviews on the back page sum it all up quite nicely.
As always, go to trinityfilmreview.com for more reviews, previews, and thoughts on film from our editors and writerss. And if you’re interested in writing for us, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you enjoy the issue! How Do You Like Your Serial Killers? p8
Ciara Barrett Editor The Cast and Crew
Silent Scream p9
Editor: Ciara Barrett Deputy Editors: Cathal Wogan and Ines Novacic
The Scariest Film I’ve Ever Seen p10
Andrew Naylor Edel Corrigan Hannah O’Brien Laura McKenna Marissa Ciampi Michelle Doyle Oisin Murphy Design and Layout: Ciara Barrett, Ines Novacic and Cathal Wogan Website: Conor O’Kelly and Ciara Barrett
Overview With the Vampire p12
With Special Thanks To: Robert Kearns Conor O’Kelly Ed Barrett Virginia Shields and Trinity Publications
5 Word Reviews p 16 2
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How to survive a generic horror film by Laura McKenna
It’s a cold, dark winter’s night and you’re at home alone in a remote area. Tree branches are tapping on the window, the phone keeps ringing and you could swear that you saw someone lurking outside the house. Congratulations, you’re the star of a generic horror flick. Unlike the classics, your standard horror is pretty formulaic. In order to survive one you must follow certain horror movie rules. For starters, if the secluded house that you live in has been built on a graveyard, or if the previous tenants went a little bit crazy and butchered their family, then the odds of you making it to the finale are not in your favour. I recommend leaving immediately and hiring a better realtor in the future. However, if the house itself isn’t the problem, then to survive you need to keep the following in mind as your plot develops. So you decide to make a cup of tea and something that doesn’t resemble water comes out of the tap. Don’t just stand there thinking of late night plumbers. Get out of that house as soon as humanly possible if you value your life. Oh, there is one other quick rule to take into account concerning the kitchen. Never keep all of your knives in a wooden block on the coun-
ter. You might think it’s a good idea because you can find a weapon easily when needed. However, the perceptive among us will ascertain that it’s an easy way for the killer to stab you with your own knife. Now you’re watching TV, waiting for your boyfriend/girlfriend to come over. You hear a weird scratching, or maybe a doorknob that has never been opened starts to turn. If you want to survive this movie I wouldn’t sit there thinking “please let that be the dog.” Try running instead, because a door isn’t going to stop whatever’s behind it for very long. If nothing’s after you yet, you may decide to shower and change before your significant other arrives. Maybe skip the shower? Try lashing on the deodorant instead. It’s well known that shower and bath death scenes have a high mortality rate in your typical horror flick. Would you really want to die in the bathroom? Perhaps you make it out of the bathroom and get changed. If you’re a girl don’t pick an outfit that resembles anything in Katie Price’s wardrobe. Horror movie killers seem to gain a huge amount of enjoyment from killing the suggestive female. You should also try to think of a realistic get-away plan while lashing on the mascara. This would obviously be an awful
“Never keep all of your knives in a wooden block”
time to break out your signature sparkly heels. Odds are you’ll fall over, break an ankle and be an easy target. So, if you don’t have a death wish, wear trainers instead. Now you’re dressed, you realise that your significant other is over an hour late. Considering you’re in a horror film there are only two reasons for their lack of punctuality. Either they have been held up by their untimely death or they are the psycho. Whatever the reason, I wouldn’t let them into the house if I were you. Realising that your partner could be after you, you’re a little scared. Suddenly, the lights go out. Do not under any circumstances go to the basement to check the fuse box. Someone has most likely cut the power and has set a trap for you there. Needless to say, this would also be a really stupid time to decide to do a search of the house. Instead do the smart thing and run or drive to your nearest friend’s house. Just get out of there. Alternatively, if your boyfriend/girlfriend is on time, feel free to let them into the house. However, this is where the biggest horror movie survival rule comes into play. Do not (no matter how fantastic a kisser they happen to be) have sex. If you do, it’s quite likely that your lifeless corpse will be the only part of you to appear in the next scene. If you want to survive, your best bet is to continue to hold onto your virginity (or at least appear to be angelic) for the ninety or so minutes of screen time you’ve got. Following the final credits, you can go back to whoring around Copper Face Jacks but, until then, it’s probably safer to keep the hormones in check. If you’re smart and follow these rules you’ll make it to the final scene. All that’s left now is to destroy the killer/monster. Don’t use a gun, it won’t finish the job. A sharp object such as a machete is much more effective and everyone has one at home, right? When you think you have succeeded in surviving the movie, think again. The killer/monster will never be dead the first time around. They will always come back for a final scare/ kill/sequel. No matter what it takes, ensure there is no possibility of their return before you let your guard down. If you have followed these rules diligently and you’re still breathing then you have successfully survived the threat of the average horror. Well done! For those of you who weren’t so lucky, you have my commiserations. You knew what was coming and you still couldn’t make it out... well, you can’t beat natural selection. Nonetheless, if you ever find yourself being hunted down in the middle of nowhere, on a shadowy night, keep these rules in mind – they just might save your life! Laura McKenna
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News Vive l’ Horror!
Horrorthon founder Ed King launched this year’s programme saying, “Horrorthon has defied the incredible odds of being killed off early and has made it to its 13th year alive and undead. Horrorthon is now officially a rebelious teenager! Expect things to take an even more menacing, deranged tone than usual over an epic weekend of cinematic carnage.” Over the years, Horrorthon has presented the Irish premieres of modern classics such as Pan’s Labyrinth, 28 Days Later, to Donnie Darko and last year’s Opening Night Presentation, Paranormal Activity. The IFI’s annual Horror marathon takes place from October 21st to 25th.
with Ines Novacic
The much anticipated Paranormal Activity 2 will open the festival, and highlights include a controversial remake of the notorious 1978 ‘rape and revenge’ shocker I Spit on Your Grave. The IFI website promises no shortage of classics, with the original Amityville Horror from 1975, and arguably the best King adaptation in cinematic history, Brian de Palma’s 1976 Carrie. Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s only boxoffice flop, the comic biopic Ed Wood, is also being shown alongside Wood’s own z-movie classic, Plan 9 From Outer Space, starring cult horror-actor Bela Lugosi (better known as Dracula). For more info check out www.ifi.com
How Hard is it to Die, exactly?
Horror will Rock again
“I want to do Die Hard 5, then a finale, Die Hard 6 - before finally hanging that white vest up for good,” Bruce Willis told Showbiz Spy last week. The 55 year-old is apparently concerned that if he leaves the franchise open to filmmakers, a younger actor will step into the ass-kicking shoes of John McLane. An official script is in the final stages of development, and Willis is rumoured to be requesting the return of co-star Bonnie Bedelia, McLane’s wife in the first two instalments. He also commented that he expects Len Wiseman to return as director. Wiseman has not stated whether he will participate in future Die Hard projects, which Willis wants to depict a sort of worldwide crisis. Given the expanding area of crisis in each film, Willis told MTV “It’s got to go worldwide.” Dreams of being forever young and bad-ass seem to die hard for good old Bruce.
Fox Chairman and CEO Peter Churnin is reportedly ithching to get a re-make of 1975 Rocky Horror Picture Show out in cinemas. Glee’s Ryan Murphy is being courted with a directorial gig. Thanks to the success of Glee, Murphy is currently an in-demand director, and has recently worked on films such as Eat Pray Love. The original movie made more than $100 million thanks to a long, healthy cult life in midnight screenings. Empire wrote: “while we’re not really sure Rocky Horror needs to be reanimated with a new cast or a new take on the story, we’re sure Richard O’Brien wouldn’t mind the royalties that would roll in.” Murphy just finished a Glee episode devoted to the camp classic Rocky Horror. After meeting with Fox producers, let’s see if we can expect a new take on the musical to move beyond TV shows, and into the cinema.
Are there too many jackasses out there?
Jackass 3D grossed a whopping $50 million in its debut weekend, setting several records. The film beat the $48.1 million secured on the opening weekend of Scary Movie 3 in 2003, taking the October opening weekend record. IMDB wrote that this success also made it the fifth-highest grossing documentary in history, “if you count it as a documentary.” 3D ticket sales allegedly account for 90% of the film’s gross, and are responsible for it’s success over the first and second films. Apparently the appeal of 3D has won over even casual fans of the franchise. The website hollywoodnews.com has speculated about how responses to this will talk about what the success of this film says about our decline as a culture, and how Jackass 3D is symptomatic of our current national mood. It concludes that both premises are “bullshit;” “the older generation always decries the ‘for the masses’ entertainment of the younger generation, only to hold up their own ‘for the masses’ entertainment as the pinnacle of art from a bygone era”. It seems that not everybody opts for intelligent cinema this autumn.
While it may seem unconventional to rate the best films of 2010 in midOctober, whithout the release of all features, Gotham Awards have done it anyway. Awards season officially started with the announcement of the nominees for the 20th annual independent movie awards. Aronofky’s new flick Black Swan, and Matt Reeve’s Let Me In are among the contenders for Best Feature; while Scorsese’s real-life portrayal of writer Fran Liebowitz in Public Speaking is potential Best Documentary material.
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by Holy Diver
Tragedy does away with Dyer
The world is still mourning as details of the untimely death of much-loved cockney and acting legend Danny Dyer emerge. A statement by the Metropolitan Police Service from Wanstead Veterinary Hospital from the day after Dyer’s body was discovered is still the only official line as to the nature of his demise. “At around 9.45am yesterday morning, the Met Police received a call from a neighbour reporting a strange smell emanating from Mr Dyer’s residence. After attempts to contact Mr Dyer failed, the building’s superintendant, with permission from the authorities, forced entry to the apartment. It was at this time, at around 10.30am, that Mr Dyer’s scrawny cockney body was found. “Mr Dyer was pronounced dead on arrival at Wanstead Veterinary Hospital. Initial medical examinations assert that Mr Dyer suffocated due to a self-inflicted overdose on rhyming slang and cockney charm. “We would like to extend our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Mr Dyer, and to West Ham United Football Club, who have lost their most stereotypical fan. It is asked that the media be sensitive at this time.” It had been expected that Dyer, famous for his roles in, eh, films... Dyer was due to begin filming a run of episodes of Eastenders playing a cockney fishmonger over the coming weeks, but this now seems unlikely.
Surprising new career direction for von Trier
In what has been deemed “a real fucked up development, but an awesome surprise” by star Kal Penn, it has been officially confirmed that Danish auteur Lars von Trier is to direct A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D. The film, the third and final installment in the trilogy, will be new ground for both von Trier and the Harold and Kumar team. Both camps are, according to Penn, “totally fucking stoked.” “Lars has proven himself a pretty gnarly dude so far in his career,” said Penn, who plays the lovable Indian-American stoner Kumar in the series. “I mean, that shit in Antichrist, what the fuck? How fucked up was that? And remember Manderlay and Dogville? The buzz off that ‘Young Americans’ song dude. ‘Ain’t there one damn song that can make me, break down and cry?’ Holy shit man.” “But seriously, we’re all totally fucking stoked about the project. Lars has done some fucked up shit before but, trust me, he’s done nothing like this before. Harold and Kumar and Lars, getting fucking stoned, in 3D, with the fucking munchies man. This is gonna be like Escape from Guantanamo Bay meets Breaking the Waves, on fucking dope man.” A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas 3D is expected to grace our screens for the holiday season of 2011.
Boyle to turn camera to Chilean mining disaster
It has been revealed that Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle is planning a project focused on Franklin Lobos, one of the 33 miners trapped underground in the Copiapó mining accident in Chile. A former professional football player, Lobos has been identified by Boyle as the perfect man to base his story upon. “I was really interested in what was going on in the San José mine,” Boyle told Trinity Film Review. “It is such a romantic story; these men were bound together by a mix of fate and the poorly monitored safety regulations of Chile’s mining industry. Out of the group, Lobos was the obvious choice to take my inspiration from. “We’ll begin the film in the rescue chamber itself, as Lobos is returning to the surface after his 69 days underground. He then has a shocking epiphany: he forgot to clock in for work on the 5th of August. Well, from there we embark upon a series of flashbacks, some back to his football career, some back to the mine, but mostly back to some sort of poverty situation. Pathos, you know. He really could have done with all that cash but, as everybody knows, the San Esteban Mining Company will not pay unless their workers clock in and out correctly. We think the movie will be a big hit.”
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O V E R R AT E D Cathal Wogan bemoans The Blair Witch Project.
In what way might a horror film be rated, before one considers that which is overrated? The common aim in the crucible of the scary movie is to be just that: scary, procuring a specific reaction from the consumer of the picture, a reaction seemingly drawn from the suppressed emotions and fears of that consumer and the nostalgia of viewing. Rejecting the idea that the scary movie is a genre unto itself simply because of its scariness, there is certainly a teleological commonality in that the aim is shared by to a certain degree by many filmmakers. Furthermore, while the scariness or horror of a picture may exist at any point on an unpleasant spectrum that runs from the unsettling creepiness of a Paranormal Activity to the painfully physical revulsion and nausea of a Saw, the evaluation of the discomfort is broadly evaluated post-consumption and then accepted giving an ascription of value in a broad and terribly crude value exchange. That fetishistic exchange of horror experienced with abstract value is curiously vindicated due to the aim of the scary movie, to be scary. To say that any serious critical digression on any particular horror film (or any artistic endeavour for that matter) is retrospective may seem redundant, as it is obviously the case.
However, it is the scary film that suffers particularly from its own nature when considering critical discourse and, for the most part like a particularly brash Barolo (scoff) - must be aided by the passing of time. Genuine and widespread critical mass falls behind only the tiny minority of films that occupy a part of the history of the scary film ‘genre.’ A visionary such as Dario Argento is a rarity and a genre
reaction it garnered from the pit of my stomach is exactly what it aimed to elicit, and then some. I will bypass any real discourse on the film, which might seem a little irresponsible seeing as my charge is to specifically discuss it. From where is the value measured? It seems that the reverence of such scary films (indeed, I only take The Blair Witch Project as an example, in all honesty) lies with its scariness. Puffery, surely. How can the ability of a film to achieve scariness be of value, holding an edifying quality for the intellect? Maybe my argument is not that The Blair Witch Project is overrated. Rather, it is that a myriad of highly regarded scary films are just rated for all of the wrong reasons. Genuine critical insight, let alone appreciative applause, is essentially anomalous on the field of the scary movie, and as long as the ‘achievement’ for this strain of cinema is simply to scare (whether that involves some sort of cinematic innovation or not, shaky camera and darkness being the signature trait in this example), and while audiences are happy to revel in the picture’s scare quality, then a convincing critical discourse on the topic will tragically suffocate, if attempted at all. Cathal Wogan
“A myriad of highly regarded scary films are rated for all of the wrong reasons” transcendent such as Alfred Hitchcock is quite alone. Only extreme and/or brilliant departures from or subversions of generic aims and qualities, seemingly underlined by a period of time passed, allow for any critical weight to be thrown behind a scary film or that film’s director. This, finally, brings me to The Blair Witch Project, the scariest film that I have ever seen. Indeed, The Blair Witch Project scarred the larger part of the generation I belong to. The
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U N D E R R AT E D Michelle Doyle puts Orphan up for adoption.
“Size does matter” may have been the official tagline to the 1998, US remake of old-school, horror-flick Godzilla, but taking into account the tidal wave of infant-horror films that have saturated cinema-listings the last decade, it seems that that quote goes both ways; modern culture’s biggest fear being that a rogue army of three-foot tall, demon-possessed ten year olds eat us as we sleep and use whatever remains in a very-berry smoothie. Feeding on this fear of course is Orphan, a seemingly unoriginal, paint-by-numbers, bad-seed tale that does undeniably drag for the first hour or so. However, for what Orphan lacks in originality it makes up for in twist, which, if fair, is absolutely brilliant; a revelation so ridiculous that regardless of whatever recycled waste came before it, the slate is wiped clean for the rest of the film. However, despite being the best unintentionally funny film ever made (bar Gran Torino, of course), upon The Orphan’s Autumn release in August 2009, the reviews were a cold pot of tea with the Guardian, Independent and Empire all giving it 2 star reviews and slating write-ups.
However, while Orphan may suffer a bit of a tailback in the horror department, it’s genuinely pretty hard not to appreciate it (from an informed, critical perspective, mind you), notably for the passive, outdated racism the film has to offer; an ultra-gifted Russian child
Wednesday Adams fashion sense. As time passes however, Esther’s psychotic underbelly becomes exposed as she notches up murder todo lists against her family and peers. Dressing like the love child Helena BonhamCarter never had in Fight Club, Esther definitely rivals the bovine-eyed child in The Ring for the title of creepiestkid-on-screen. With a ridiculous OTT conclusion that you’ll never see coming, The Orphan is massively underrated – I’ve yet to meet anyone who can’t laugh at how far-fetched it is, only to admit that it was sort of brilliant. Finally, for those in need of that last little push, if you are in any way squeamish of the blood and gore of Halloween staples Saw parts one to whatever-number-the-last-onewas, Orphan offers the horror-trope jumpy moments that are then counteracted by scenes that involves a lot of laughing plus the added self-satisfaction that, at the end of it all, you really weren’t that scared…
“Modern culture’s biggest fear may
be that a rogue army of three-foot tall, demon-possessed ten year olds will eat us as we sleep and use whatever remains in a very-berry smoothie” plagued by a mysterious past full of scissors and arson attacks, Esther (the illustrious orphan) who has come under the guardianship of a new, lovely family. Being eastern European, Esther is therefore cold and unhinged. Regardless, she manages to hide her deranged side, winning the family over with her wicked intelligence and strange
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How do you like your Serial Killers? Hannah O’Brien on the perverse pleasure of horror How do you like your serial killers...? Civilized or Psychotic? Cannibals! Chainsaws! Exorcisms! Sharks! Which of these has scared you, excited you, or haunted you, and why? There is a monster for everyone; a bête noir, an unspeakable, subconscious fear one has felt to be re-awakened by a particularly terrifying film. I found mine the day my tremendously kind brother offered to show me Flipper. And switched it for Jaws. Ever since, my interest in swimming and general aquatic activities has dwindled; and I now very rarely watch films with my compassionate older brother. In spite of my phobia of sharks, I am powerless to resist the pathological temptation I have to watch films like Jaws. Their only reward may be nauseating fear, but I can’t deny it: I enjoyed being scared. The fact is, everyone enjoys being scared. We’re perverse that way, and it’s exactly this perverse aspect of human nature that fascinates me. Why do we delight in the things that terrify us? We fear the abnormal, yet this fear ignites an attraction even more profound than the initial fear itself. Do we need horror films to disrupt – and ultimately reaffirm - the munande safety of our relatively unspectacular daily lives? When I began writing this article, I questioned the sanity of people who claim to enjoy horror movies. The thought of people actually paying to see actors chopped into meat onscreen revolted me. I simply couldn’t fathom how somebody could enjoy the sight of a screaming girl being eviscerated with a chainsaw. This was sickness rather than entertainment. The horror genre was, for me, nothing more than a sexist, male-orientated spectacle revelling in blood, gore, and of course, the domination of a (usually) male killer over a (typically) female victim. In my defence, my attitude to horror had been negatively shaped by the stereotypical depiction of women in films such as Scream, a classic nineties slasher parody of itself. Highly sexualized and generously endowed women are stabbed to death (a punishment for being highly sexualized and generously endowed) while remaining sexy and attractive (the saving grace of a violent death). Gripping stuff. My research did little to improve my love for Scream and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it increased my admiration for more subtle slasher/horror films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s
Psycho from 1960. A great film that transcends both time and culture, Psycho boasts the infamous murder-in-the-shower scene which, strengthened by Bernard Hermann’s staccato score, epitomizes the absolute horror of murder without turning the film into a blood bath of rotting flesh and gnawed bones. It proves horror isn’t just blood and guts. Besides such “slasher” films, I would pick out the psychological thriller and the supernatural horror as the two other main subgenres of scary cinema. As a sub-sub-genre to the supernatural horror, I think the “creepy child movie” deserves recognition in its own right. The Ring, Gothika, The Omen... I think anybody who has seen The Exorcist might agree that there is something highly menacing about evil children. Children traditionally symbolize innocence; so when we are confronted with a child’s face transfigured into a grotesque and putrid mask, shouting profanities of an erotic nature, we feel our essential beliefs and values shaken to their very core. Serial killer films, typically a sub-sub-genre of the slasher, are similarly subversive of social and moral norms. These are films often inspired by real people, therefore subverting the notion of normality as “safe,” and threatening our everyday existence. Most of us watch horror (or horrific) films “safe” in the belief that there exists a more stable real world beyond it. Yet the murderers who have inspired such films as The Silence of the Lambs are real, and it is this that terrifies me. Horror films have the potential to present us with the real horror of real life. Zombies, ghosts and sharks are immediately recognizable as malevolent, but the impossibility of detecting evil among the masses – or between two “normal” people, just you and me – is truly haunting, subversive and disturbing. Perhaps this is why we have recently seen a return to the prototypical horror film, the monster movie, where zombies, werewolves and Frankensteins reign. These monsters will never die because our constant need and desire for fear has made them immortal – and perhaps because it is “easier” to fear the fantastical than
it is to confront real terror in real every-day life. Nowhere is this more obvious than with the vampire. Since Nosferatu (1922), the vampire has spawned a legacy that has grown through Bela Lugosi’s iconic portrayal of the count in Dracula, to the Hammer films that forged the careers of horror greats such as Christopher Lee and Vincent Price. There was also Neil Jordan’s Interview with a Vampire (1994) in which Brad Pitt accomplishes what Robert Pattinson consistently fails to do: act. One could argue that the noble heritage of the vampire movie cycle has been stripped away by Twilight-esque de-horrorizations of the monsterous vampire. Excuse me, but vampires are not supposed to be teenagers dating high school girls. They do not get all shiny in the sun. And under no circumstances should vampires be capable of procreating; they are by definition and historically-speaking, non-living. Stephanie Meyer’s cuddly vampires just don’t cut it. So what’s next for the monster genre? Although I personally believe the vampire could do with a well-earned kip in his coffin, Tim Burton’s upcoming Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2011) and his rumoured production of the 60s TV-show Dark Shadows with (yes, you guessed it!) Johnny Depp in the title role of vampire Barnaby Collins, along with films such as Dracula 3D (2011) and Bubba Nosferatu: Curse of the She-Vampires (2011), indicate that the vampire will have to endure another couple of years of botched folklore and clichés. This month, horror heavyweights John Carpenter (Halloween) and Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street) focus on serial killers and ghosts in The Ward, L.A. Gothic and My Soul to Take. Who knows what grimy and unoriginal creature filmmakers will throw out onto the screen at us next? What’s certain is that the horror genre will continue to live on in various shapes and forms because we will never stop being afraid, nor will we want to.
“There is a monster for everyone”
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Silent Scream : Bairbre Holmes sheds light on a haunting
Metropolis. Battleship Potemkin. The Cabinet the line between the real and the supernatural of Doctor Caligari. There are only a handful became blurred,” something that could stand of films from the first half of cinema’s history as a warning to today’s Twi-hards. Against whose names remain in circulation in con- the backdrop of the small town of Courtemtemporary culture. And, oh, how they have pierre, Allan is lead on a nightmarish journey. stuck around! Recently a screening of the re- A somnambulant Lord, ghostly silhouettes and mastered Metropolis in the National Concert a sinister book about the legends of Vampyrs Hall rapidly sold out priced at €25 a ticket. This lead him to a traditionally spooky castle. There serves to highlight the sad paradox of films he finds a gravely ill young woman under the from the silent era and its aftermath; while a curse of the Vampyr. In the hallucinogenic few have gained unbounded cultural cache and dream sequences that follow, reality and imnotoriety, most have retreated into obscurity, agination blur. The film does, however, restore left only to be picked over by academics and order; through Allen’s sleuthing the vampire film buffs. For a medium whose history only is revealed as local crone Marguerite Chopin, spans a hundred and twenty odd years these who was controlling her victims from the megaliths of early cinema have become easy grave. reference points for those seeking cinematic The flickering lights and murky shadows of kudos. Like ancient Greek and Roman clas- early cinema provided the perfect medium for sics their iconic imagery and structural devices stories of horror, suspense and ghostly goings have become the building blocks of today’s on. In Vampyr dreams merge with reality and visual culture. So overused and imbedded in nothing is certain. The directorial triumph of today’s visual output are they that we no longer this film is the disturbing and disorientating recognise them from their original inceptions. atmosphere created by the visual innovations Chief among these of Dreyer’s post-ex“Caught uncomfortably is Nosferatu: A Sympressionist aesthetics. phony of Horror, F.W. The film was shot on between silence and sound” Murnau’s 1922 film location which, comwhich has come to dictate the template for cel- bined with visual tricks and experimentation, luloid vampires. Its imagery, still pervasive in helped to create the dream-like hazy atmostoday’s films, depict vampires as male, sexu- phere and the spectral feel of the picture. In ally enthralling and aristocratic (or at least in addition, Dreyer consciously and expertly uses posession of a large mansion). A decade after space and framing to create a sense of disoriits release it had yet to gain the dominant foot- entation. As Allen wanders through a seemhold it has today. So, when Danish filmmaker ingly endless labyrinth of hallways, staircases Carl Dreyer came to make Vampyr in 1932, he and rooms through the night time village, was not constrained by either confirming or mysterious creatures and deformed figures dispelling these notions. Overlooked for dec- lurk behind doors and hover in shadows. The ades, Dreyer’s film takes place in a world where viewer is brought on a dizzying ghost train vampires are female, and the threat comes ride as we, trapped in Allen’s point of view, from the peasantry - a refreshing departure stumble upon apparitions of injured soldiers from the clichéd images modern audiences and invisible dancers whose presence is only are now used to, different archetypes that find detectable through the shadows they cast. In much of their base in Bram Stoker’s writing one particularly memorable scene, Allen and and Murnau’s depiction. the audience are locked in a coffin and, with The film is based on the collection of sto- only a small window pane in its lid, helplessly ries “In a Glass Darkly,” particularly, the story observe the world as he is carried through the “Carmilla,” by Sheridan Le Fanu (once auditor castle – guaranteeing nightmares for any clausof The College Historical Society in Trinity), a trophobic viewers. story that predates Stoker’s Dracula by more For all its visual achievements perhaps the than two decades. The opening title sequence reason Vampyr does not belong in the trumwarns us that protagonist, Allan Gray, has be- peted cannon of early cinema is due to its awkcome “preoccupied with superstitions of cen- ward place in film history. Caught uncomfortturies past, he becomes a dreamer for whom ably between silence and sound the film very
much belongs to the silent tradition. The style and editing that would soon be born of the introduction of sound is not to be seen in this film. Inter-titles do most of the work narrating the story with sound only being used during the sparse dialogue. But this also would prove a blessing in disguise. Vampyr was filmed in three languages German, English and French. The original negatives were lost but prints in German and French were found allowing it to be restored, which sees this intriguing piece of film history accesible to the modern audience. It allows us to glimpse at and wonder what cultural images we would have today had a different set of films become such important cinematic totems. Bairbre Holmes
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The Day of the Locust: The scariest film I’ve ever seen by Oisin Murphy
Horror, we are given to understand, reveals truths about human reality which other genres cannot necessarily (and necessarily cannot) touch upon in the same way. It is a broad cinematic space in which our fears and anxieties are given voice to with a view to direct audience provocation. Academic writing as to “the nature of horror” abounds, unpicking the essential properties of the horrific in cinema and, more often than not, identifying them as those essential properties of humanity that are repressed or rejected: death, ageing, otherness, insanity, etc. Such has been comprehensively discussed elsewhere, and it is not my intention to necessarily contradict nor simply reassert any of the theory alluded to surrounding a human linguistics of horror - I wish to examine horror in its most immediate and cogent state: as complementary to another genre (or genres)* within the same, disparate text. In doing so, I will focus on The Day Of The Locust (John Schlesinger, 1975): an epic reimagining of Nathaniel West’s 1939 novel of the same name (to speak generally, a critique of Hollywood as a cultural object) which incorporates intermittent horrific auspices into its comic drama of unrequited love and social corruption before culminating in scenes of utter brutality and dread. The film, set in the 1930s (and utilising the technicolour, “soft-focus” aesthetic com-
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monly associated with the era), is savagely indignant towards popular culture and fame, quite literally rendering the individual acts of the people who constitute the “Hollywood system” as the basis for its innate horror, at its climax. Indeed, its “dream-like” aesthetic allows for it to détourn the visual linguistics and mythology of Hollywood, representing them as intrinsically horrific. Moreover, it is this re-appropriation of an established nostalgia, a romanticised vision of 1930s glamour so ingrained in the popular consciousness, as corrupt and volatile at its core, that contributes so vividly to the film’s immediate power. Crucially, The Day Of The Locust is not a “pure” horror film. Much of the film plays as a surreal social satire, levelling familiar criticisms of moral bankruptcy, greed and superficiality on the doorstep of those characters involved in the film/fame-industry-matrix. It is only when the foundations of this artifice, the ultimately human core of commerciallyasseverated dominion-beauty, supplant themselves through a devolution into shocking violence, that it becomes clear to us that this horrific potential has been dormant in the narrative, in the society it represents, all along. Indeed, the harbingers of said horror earlier in the film are many, most notably the grotesque portraits (observed by Tod Hackett, an aspir-
ing artist and the most “normal” of the film’s central characters) of staring, empty-faced people, their features replaced with gaping holes where the eyes and mouth should be. The image is disturbing, and its somatic realisation at the film’s climax is a moment of genuine terror, with a microcosmic social order collapsing (along with a wonderfully-invoked shot of melting celluloid) and reconstituting itself as animalistic, bloodthirsty chaos. In The Day Of The Locust, the evil which forms the basis of spectatorial horror is inherent in humankind. Furthermore, said evil is fostered by the symbol of cultural hegemony (Hollywood) and ultimately evinced by its own inevitable self-violation (Homer Simpson** succumbs to provocation and his pent-up anger and attacks a child, sparking a riot). So, is cinematic horror, as it is often said, simply a camera held up to those aspects of our cumulative, collective being which we would rather were left unexamined? Even though it’s a truism, there is something truly unsettling about such a fantastical societal collapse as envisaged in the final scenes of The Day Of The Locust. What makes the film so terrifying for me is the overarching sense that our very humanity hangs by delicate threads. “Our” identities (both individually and as a broader cultural identity) are stripped away suddenly and
decisively to reveal a connate, “animal” brutality that can only destroy, but the table has been rigged, to give this result, from the beginning. At its cultural inception, the civilisation depicted in The Day Of The Locust is doomed to a violent self-consumption. That its artistic products anticipate this, even facilitate it, is the stuff of nightmare. Schlesinger’s greatest achievement, in this light, is his powerful assertion that our beloved art-industry operates so successfully precisely because, while it can turn its hand to the representation of so many aspects of human existence, it doesn’t acknowledge the fundamental, natural, repressed, rabid evil potentially lurking at its heart. The Day Of The Locust is a film about horror which succeeds in being more horrific, to my mind, than any other attempt within the genre, in the pure sense. It is meta-horror, repositioning the genre dialectically as a device within both humannature and cinema, with our humanity at its destructive centre. *“Genre” is here used only in a loose sense, not to uphold a generic taxonomy of cinema as absolute, nor to establish genres as innately separate. In this regard, we approach, or at least evoke, a dialectics of horror. ** Donald Sutherland’s character in The Day Of The Locust is really called Homer Simpson. Even though this is a college publication, I can assure you that this isn’t a typo.
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Overview Ines Novacic with the looks at the Vampire best of the bad The Vampire presents the most enduring and enticing figure of horror. At its origin, the vampire was a monster, captured in legends like the one of Lamia in Ancient Greece, Kiong Shi in Ancient China, or Penonggalen in Ancient Malayan culture. Throughout the twentieth century, film has appropriated these half-human entities and transformed them from their original caste. Films have surpassed all other fiction-producing mediums in their celebration and exploration of the “vampire.” From Bram Stoker and the traditionally grotesque, the likes of Neil Jordan’s Anne Rice adaptation and Selma Hayek’s performance in From Dusk Till Dawn have pushed the boundaries of what it means to be a vampire. Inspired by the “Rotten Tomatoes” Top 50 Vampire films, let’s take a look at cult vampire characters that best capture the evolution of Vampire….
F.W. Murnau’s 1992 landmark film Nosferatu brought Orlock the vampire to the silent screen. Critics like to point out how Nosferatu isn’t so much an adaptation of Stoker’s Dracula, as a direct copy of it. The man didn’t comprehend that merely changing all of the character’s names wouldn’t exactly do it. Stoker’s widow reportedly even went to court in an unsuccesful attempt to supress the circulation of the film. You’ve got to hand it to Murnau, though, for his success in animating ‘Dracula,’ one of the most notorious characters in horror to this day. The ghoulish apperance of Orlock/ Nosferatu exemplifies the tradition of imagining vampires as monstrous. His elongated frame, famished eyes, long, pointy fingers and beaked nose testify to his inherent evil. Today, the make-over of Max Schreck into Nosferatu seems almot suited to the stuff of vampire spoofs, but back in 1922 rumours speculated on the true nature and identity of the actor.
During the Middle Ages, vampires were blamed for disease, and subjected to the power of the Church. Apart from daylight – the light of God- only crucifixes could stop vampires in their tracks, while garlic was used to warn them off. Bela Lugosi’s portrayal of a magestic, dignified Count Dracula harks back to a way of conceiving the vampire as a potent creed whose death only God can cause. The popular notion of vampires is based on Lugosi’s 1931 performance of Universal Studios talkie Dracula. Lugosi stood an impressive 6”1, wore minimal make-up in the film, and spoke in his natural, heavily accented tones. Many critics maintain that Lugosi’s benchmark performance still eclipses other attempts at emulating the Dracula character. In the process of embodying one of the most famous villains, Lugosi immortalised a unique image of himself. Due to the credibility of his on-screen persona, rumours still persist about how he had a nsaty reallife habit of sleeping in coffins.
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A vampire is not just a character; it’s a major theme in film. Vampires are a metaphor for those who create themselves by destroying others. Wesley Snipes as the half-human, half-vampire figure in Blade serves to prevent the former from happening. This 1998 vampire action shared cinema space with films like Armageddon, Saving Private Ryan, and Deep Impact. Talk about paranoia about the Y2K spectre. Blade presents a new vampire figure, uber-responsive to changing multicultural times. He inherited the vampire curse from his mother, and throughout the film, he handles his tortured existence by learning from mentor Whistler which weapon technology best eradicates vampires. His arch-nemesis, Frost, meanwhile, spends camera-time researching vampire rituals on his laptop, in order to become the mythic vampire blood-God “La Magra”. I wander if Dracula would have enjoyed browsing the net as part of Frost’s Mafia-esque vampire clan.
A uniqueness that sets vampires apart from other heroes of horror is their sex appeal. Their method of attack involves roaming in the darkness, and their means of prey necessiatates the innocent, soft skin of a sacrifice. Vampires appeal to human sensuality, and none more so than the duo of Pitt and Cruise in Jordan’s 1994 Interview with the Vampire. Jordan seems to have played on the story of 16th century “Blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory of Hunagry. Bathory purportedly seduced her victims - both male and female - and bled them to death in the privacy of her own home. Louis de Pointe du Lac is decidedly homoerotic, passing his rights to immortality by sucking on Lestat’s wrist upon the grave of his dead wife. Jordan’s narrative breaks with more traditional conceptions of the vampire; Pitt tells the journalist at the beginning of the film that “coffin and blood” are the only necessities of a vampire, and disavows superstitions like the wooden stake.
No matter their differences, all vampires embody a key fetish of humanity: fear of death and love for immortality. From garlic-fearing and cloak-wearing, to effeminately sexy aristocrats and bad-ass half-breeds, the essence of the vampire has endured throughout film representation in the twentieth century: their key aspect is always death. Coming to the end of the first ‘naughties’ decade, popular imagination thinks Robert Pattinson when you say Vampire! Although most self-respecting film critics will hardly admit a fondness for the Twilight saga, I’m unconvinced that these films have presented a novel vampire that is of a significantly lower standard than previous hallmark vampire figures. Edward Cullen has roots in Louis de Point du Lac, and his demystified and modernised elements hark back to a Blade mould of vampire. The main problem isn’t the idea behind these Twilight vampires; it’s the appalling acting. But it would wrong for me to slate Twilight, so I’m including a defence of tween vampire creed, contributed by Andrew Naylor: I suspect that a distaste for Twilight stems from an annoyance at the irrepressible hype surrounding the best-selling trilogy. I bet most people who complain haven’t even seen the films. To be fair, Stephenie Meyer presented us with a refreshing portrayal of vampires, in opposition to the garlic-fearing, coffin-dwelling creeps who embody the concept of a cliché. These new-age incarnations are attractive, dressed to impress, and are endowed with unique individual powers. Plus, they’re “vegetarians.” The element of romance in the narrative adds an extra fascinating dimension. I applaud Meyer for exploring the idea of a relationship between a mortal and an immortal, and considering the restraints placed on each. How would you like it if a mere attempt at a kiss on the lips of your significant other could potentially involve a lengthy stay at a blood transfusion unit? Meyer’s vampires are clearly not meant to be interpreted as “monsters;” instead, they represent troubled souls, some of whom deeply envy the mortals who surround them. Some of the Cullens frequently reflect on being robbed of their own mortality and their souls. Overall, Twilight’s depiction of the modern vampire is a much appreciated turn away from the black capes and plastic fangs of yore. The figures speak for themselves. 100 million copies translated into at least 38 languages worldwide. Now if that doesn’t put the nail in the coffin! Andrew Naylor, Twilight defender
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Let Me In (preview)
The vampire craze in America has made a mockery of a long-celebrated genre of horror films. With the exception of Let the Right One In, adaptated from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel (released one month before Stephenie Meyer’s poorly written Twilight was brought to the big screen), the past decade is coloured by truly horrendous vampire movies. In contrast, the Swedish film is anything but the hyper-sexed vampire flick that has become the norm for American audiences. Let the Right One In is a true horror that follows the story of a bullied 12-year-old-boy and his new blood sucking neighbour. Matt Reeves’ (Cloverfield) decision to create a remake of the story was met with skepticism. Why the need for a swift redo of an already exceptional horror film? It is hard to imagine Reeves’ “Americanized” version of the film, entitled Let Me In, will prove to be anything but a let down. Although Reeves allegedly kept the film’s “coming of age” aspect at the forefront of the narrative, and avoided turning the innocent love story into a teenage nightmare, he did cast the overly-sweet Chloe Moretz in the lead role. Moretz’s previous performances include My Friends Tigger and Pooh’s Friendly Tails. She has big, bloody shoes to fill following Lina Leandersson’s horrific portrayal of the young vampire Eli, and I am unconvinced of Reeves’ ability to produce an experience that is simultaneously horror film and love story without falling in to the already standardized American clichés. Let Me In is schedualed for release in Dublin in early November. Marissa Ciampi
Mary and Max
Mary is a sad eight year old Australian girl, with a drunk kleptomaniac for a mother, and a father with a taxidermy hobby. She has eyes the colour of ‘muddy puddles’ and a birthmark that looks like poo. She gets teased in school and has no friends. Her favourite thing in the world is to watch ‘The Noblets’, a TV cartoon, and eat condensed milk out of the can. Across the world, in New York, is Max Horowitz, a man who owns eight track-suits in the same colour and has a fish called Henry VIII. Max has Asperger’s Syndrome and is confused by the world; he can’t understand why he is perceived as the ‘odd’ one. The duo meet through a letter Mary sends Max, after picking his name from a phone book. She wanted to ask an American where babies come from in America, found as they are in beer glasses in Australia. Mary’s letters send the already fragile Max into a state of high anxiety, which he manages to come down from long enough to answer her letters and a tentative friendship is formed. Neither have real experiences of friendship, and each becomes the other’s only real friend. Mary and Max is not a childrens’ film; it deals with depression, alcoholism and other social problems. Visually, Mary’s Austrailia is brown and Max’s New York is black. The animation is incredible, and the story is both funny and sad. Mary (Toni Collette) and Max (Philip Seymour Hoffmann) wring sympathy from audiences, while the film maintains a strong element of humour. Mary and Max is a touching account of how two misfits find each other and affect the other’s life from across the world. Edel Corrigan
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Life as we know it
Ah, Katherine Heigl, she sure has picked herrself a genre. At least it seems to work for her, and Life As We Know It can be seen as the latest in a long line of her ‘kind’ of films. Heigl plays Holly, an ambitiously sad-single control-freak. Her married friends, Alison and Peter, think she’s just dying to be set up with cliche-ridden ‘Messer’; full name, Eric Messer, a sports-freak, and good-time guy. Of course, their first date gets off to a bad start, and they never make it to the restaurant. Cue a montage of how involved they are in Alison and Peter’s lives, and how unavoidably they are linked, despite vowing never to see each other again. Then, tragedy strikes. Alison and Peter are killed in a car crash, leaving for reasons inexplicable, their little daughter Sophie, in the care of two people who can’t bear to be in the same room as each other. Suffice to say neither are happy with the situation, particularly as they have to move into their friends’ house to look after Sophie, an environment they experience as living in a mausoleum. Life As We Know it does exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a rom-com with a twist, but not a great. Heigl does pull it off well none-the-less; adoringly playing another up-tight character. Josh Duhamel provides major eye-candy, for audiences and cast alike- all their new neighbours pay frequent visits. There are some genuine laugh-outloud moments, mostly to do with the baby, as well as a few gross-out ones, also to do with the baby. And one or two weepy scenes, equally related to the baby. Over all, thre are worse ways to spend a couple of hours. Edel Corrigan
Legend of the Guardians
The realm of animation has undergone massive expansion over the last few years. Films such as Finding Nemo and Up have paved the way for increasingly elaborate and revolutionary successors such as Avatar, currently the best-selling film of all time. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Zack Snyder, 300) is another examsuch animation that expandsthe boundaries of the imagination. The film tells the story of two young owlets, Soren (Jim Sturgess) and Kludd (Ryan Kwanten) who fall from their nest, and are captured by members of an evil parliament of owls called the ‘Pure Ones’. The evil clan is led by Metalbeak (Joel Edgerton), and his queen Nyra (Helen Mirren), who are in the process of recruiting an army for a great battle against their noble counterparts, the Guardians of Ga’Hoole. They have a weapon in the form of a giant mound of metal flecks, mined by ‘moon-blinked’ pickers, who have been induced into a hypnotic state by their oppressors. Soren and Kludd develop conflicting views on the Pure Ones; Soren escapes in search of the Guardians. while Kludd stays behind, lured by praise and the promise of being a soldier in a band of ruthless owls. What follows is an epic battle between good and evil. Legend of the Guardians is a superb animation. Even in the absence of a substantial its sheer detail and visual effects captivate audiences; in one scene the protagonist dives through a swirling vortex of mist and rain in slow motion. Snyder’s love for slow motion, employed to a large extent in 300, works just as effectively in this feature. Andrew Naylor
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Five Word Reviews That Weird Little Girl from The Ring, TFR’s newest staff
writer, is a connoiseur of all that’s scary. So, when taking a time off from being, in her own words, a rather horrifying exploitation of the repressed sexual fears and desires of men and a perverse representation of the internal maternal fears of women, she likes nothing more than sitting down with some popcorn to indulge in some freaky stuff. Here, she gives us some Five Word Reviews of what she’s been watching recently. Friday the 13th – Mad bastard makes stabbing fashionable The Fly – Goldblum’s suspicious science disproves God Scream – Edvard Munch rolls in grave The Exorcist – Child consumes too much sugar Videodrome – Crazed Debbie Harry, yum yum An American Werewolf in London – Five word title works well Candyman – One word title proves misleading The Blair Witch Project – Camera shakes but nothing happens The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Rogue gardening equipment proves lethal Poltergeist - Shit flies around empty rooms The Sixth Sense - Twist and shout, twist twist A Nightmare on Elm Street – Intriguing deathmatch: Kreuger versus Depp Eyes Without a Face – Faceless girl is surprisingly attractive The Wicker Man (Original) – Christian cop enters the Rubicon The Wicker Man (Remake) – Nicolas Cage bosses Caligula’s maze Carnival of Souls – Unfortunately lacking in party atmosphere The Shining – Nicholson experiences awful Ketamine high The Ring – Not porn, not wank material Night of the Living Dead – Monday night on Harcourt Street Child’s Play – Ginger equality set back decades Psycho – Oedipal trajectory transcends death barrier King Kong – Friday night on Harcourt Street
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