Blair

Blair Witch (2016)

First published by Little White Lies It has been a long time since Heather Donahue and her two-man crew ventured into the woods of Burkittsville to become a part of the local legend that they were there to document. Back in 1999, Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez’s ultra-low-budget The Blair Witch Project would revolutionise genre…

Psychomania

Psychomania (1972)

First published by Little White Lies, as part 18 of my Cinema Psychotronicum column Through the mist, motorcyclists can be seen riding (in slow motion) around an ancient stone circle (in fact in Avebury) – and so the opening sequence of Psychomania, directed by Hammer journeyman Don Sharp (The Kiss of the Vampire; Rasputin, The…

Abattoir

Abattoir (2016)

First published by Little White Lies, as Part 17 of my Cinema Psychotronicum column “Our houses are such unwieldy properties that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them.” It begins with this textual quote from Henry David Thoreau. An opening credits sequence follows, showing newspaper headlines about bizarre crime scenes – and then…

Childhood

The Childhood of a Leader (2015)

First published by SciFiNow “This has happened before, and it will continue to happen again and again.” In 1919, journalist Charles (Robert Pattinson) discusses the Great War with the Father (Liam Cunningham) in a villa outside Paris. There the Father bullies his younger polyglot wife (Bérénice Bejo) and their son Prescott (Tom Sweet), and misbehaves…

Microwave

Microwave Massacre (1983)

First published by Little White Lies, as Part 16 of my Cinema Psychotronicum column It is hardly surprising that tits and ass feature so prominently in Eighties horrors. After all, the slasher – that most Eighties of subgenres – is focused upon young co-eds’ rites of passage, with their nubile flesh serving as the visas…

Southbound

Southbound (2015)

First published by Little White Lies as Part 15 of my Cinema Psychotronicum column Anthology horror films come in many forms. At their simplest, they just place their different episodes one after the other (Kwaidan, 1964; Three, 2002; Little Deaths, 2011), perhaps with a wraparound story (Creepshow, 1982; Tales From The Darkside: The Movie, 1990; V/H/S,…

Precinct

Assault On Precinct 13 (aka AP13) (2005)

First published by Movie Gazette It is a story that has been told many times before: in the Seventies, Hollywood’s studio system gave way to an auteur-oriented movement embracing creativity and the counterculture, and producing some of the most innovative and confronting films ever to have emerged from the United States. Today those times may…

Assault

Assault on Precinct 13 (1976)

First published by Movie Gazette Only the second feature film (after 1974’s hilarious 2001: A Space Odyssey-parody Dark Star) of B-grade king John Carpenter, who went on to make such genre classics as Halloween (1978), The Fog (1980), Escape from New York (1981), The Thing (1982) and Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Assault on Precinct 13 is an object…

Election

The Purge: Election Year (2016)

First published by Little White Lies In 2013, writer/director James DeMonaco unleashed The Purge, wherein for one night a year, all crimes (including murder) go unpunished. This killer premise made much satirical play, at least initially, of the vast gulf between America’s over-entitled haves and victimised have-nots, but was confined to, and wasted on, a…

Below

The Dark Below (2015)

Films that confine their actions to deeply constrained locations are always exploiting the claustrophobic nature of the theatrical space itself. Whether they are caught in a submersible (Pressure, 2015; The Chamber, 2016), a lift (Abwärts, 1984; Blackout, 2008; Devil, 2010; Elevator, 2011), a sauna (247℉, 2011), a phone booth (Phone Booth, 2002), on a funicular…

Frozen

Frozen (2010)

First published by Sight & Sound, October 2010 Review: “Will do for skiing what Jaws did for swimming,” screams the pull quote (from Brad Miska’s review for Bloody-Disgusting.com) placed at the very centre of the US poster campaign for Adam Green’s Frozen. It is an association in fact overtly forged by Green’s film, which after all…