Penny Dread­ful

Def­i­nitely not giv­ing up hor­ror for the new year.

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New year and a new hor­ror slate, largely con­sist­ing of se­quels and re­makes. But worry not! Two hu­mungo multi- movie Stephen King adaps are on the way as well as a host of creepy of­fer­ings set to de­but at the Sun­dance film fes­ti­val. Plus: time to move over Lep­rechaun – here comes Gnome Alone! Groan.

My time crime

Morally speak­ing, how long do you have to en­dure a hor­ror film be­fore you’re al­lowed to switch it off ? I ask be­cause I’ve just sat through the whole of award- win­ning Span­ish lan­guage or­deal Kid­napped ( aka Se­cuestra­dos) out of some mis­placed sense of duty even though it turned out to be just as re­lent­lessly, point­lessly, un­chang­ingly un­pleas­ant as I knew it was go­ing to be. Made up of just 12 long track­ing shots, oc­ca­sion­ally us­ing split screen to con­trast the dual or­deal of the fa­ther – dragged off to a cash point by one of the opportunistic Eastern Euro­pean kid­nap­pers who break into his home – and his wife and daugh­ter stuck back at the house with two more pre­dictable ma­ni­acs. It’s sparse, nasty art- house tor­ture-porn. Plot? Neg­li­gi­ble. Emo­tional en­gage­ment? None. Ter­ror? I wish. It’s 85 min­utes long and I made it to the end but for any­one who’s not on board af­ter 15 mins: Quit! I won’t judge. Also out now: Kimo Stam­boel and Timo Tjan­janto’s Killers. I like Timo Tjan­janto but this was out­dated sub- I Saw The Devil dirge that’s over 2 ¼ hours long. I did 45 min­utes. I don’t care how it ends.

King of the world

Stephen King’s The Stand is a gar­gan­tuan opus of a novel, a post- apoc­a­lyp­tic tome where King re- con­structs a world where hu­man­ity is all- but wiped out by a pan­demic. It’s a great book – King al­ways wanted it to be his an­swer to The Lord Of The Rings – and it seems like the time for a re­ally good adap of The Stand – split into four – has come at last. Ru­mours buzz about the pos­si­ble cast­ing of Matthew McConaughey as icon of evil Randall Flagg and dream cast­ing ( I’m du­bi­ous) of Chris­tian Bale as hope for hu­man­ity Stu Red­man. At last we could see a hor­ror fran­chise turn into a true big bucks main­stream block­buster. In the mean­time True De­tec­tive direc­tor Cary Fuku­naga is prep­ping in March for a sum­mer shoot for the first part of a new IT adap. It’ll be split in two with IT Part 1 a com­ing of age tale about the kids ter­rorised by Pen­ny­wise the Clown ( Part 2 will fo­cus on the adult re­u­nion decades later). Ap­par­ently King’s happy with the script say­ing “this is the ver­sion the stu­dio should make”.

Jan­uary sales

By the time you read this you’ll know whether The Woman In Black: An­gel Of Death has be­come a box of­fice bo­nanza to match the first film ( the most suc­cess­ful Bri­tish hor­ror of all time) or not. Pre- Annabelle I would have said “no” but I’d prob­a­bly have been wrong. Like Annabelle to The Con­jur­ing, the stars aren’t as fa­mous, the direc­tor’s not as ex­pe­ri­enced and the re­views aren’t as pos­i­tive but “se­quel” and “spinoff ” seem to trump “logic” and “qual­ity”. Don’t get me wrong. An­gel Of Death is vastly su­pe­rior to Annabelle ( which wins the prize for my most hated film of last

year), and Phoebe Fox is both promis­ing and like­able – it’s just not ter­ri­bly ad­ven­tur­ous. As an old fash­ioned ghost story of creak­ing floor­boards, dash­ing young air­men and doe- eyed kids, it’s fine – it might even get a part three. But in ten years no one will re­mem­ber it.

Jan­uary sales 2

I hate to be the prophet of doom, but right now the hor­ror re­lease list for 2015 looks about as ex­cit­ing as The Woman

In Black: Part 3. Se­quels, re­makes, reimag­in­ings, things vs other things… But fear not ( or rather “fear more”) – Jan­uary marks the Sun­dance film fes­ti­val, the first big cinema event of the year which al­ways comes with an arm­ful of new nas­ties ( last year pre­mier­ing The Babadook and

The Guest). Here’s three to look out for. 1 The Hal­low: dark Ir­ish- set mon­ster movie de­scribed as “Pan’s Labyrinth meets Straw

Dogs” by de­but direc­tor Corin Hardy, who’s just signed on to pick up comic- book hot potato

The Crow. 2 The Night­mare – docu- hor­ror about sleep paral­y­sis fol­low­ing eight peo­ple who get stuck be­tween dreams and wak­ing. 3 Knock Knock: Eli Roth’s lat­est star­ring Keanu Reeves as a mar­ried man who messes with the wrong girls in this psy­cho- sex­ual thriller. Fa­tale at­trac­tion meets, well, Eli Roth…

No gnome un­turned

What there def­i­nitely isn’t enough of is gar­den gnome hor­ror star­ring Austin Pow­ers’ Mini- Me Verne Troyer. Prob­lem solved! Gnome Alone, out in the US from Lion­s­gate in Jan­uary, sees a col­lege girl ac­quire an amulet that awak­ens a ma­li­cious hat- wear­ing ho­muncu­lus ( fish­ing rod and tiny wa­ter­ing can TBC), who seems to be off­ing her enemies un­con­vinc­ingly. Can she har­ness the power of the cursed charm be­fore the gnome’s reign of ter­ror leaves more vic­tims in its wake? Will the “don’t call me lep­rechaun” jokes ever be funny? Will this film ever get a UK re­lease? Look out for Gnome Alone 2: Curse Of The Fish­pond for


Dread­ful thing to do

Take a night class, hor­ror style. The Miska­tonic In­sti­tute Of Hor­ror Stud­ies – a Canadian ven­ture founded by House Of Psy­chotic

Women au­thor Kier- La Janisse – is launch­ing a Lon­don branch in the new year with a se­ries of screen­ings and lec­tures from es­tab­lished genre stal­warts. Monthly classes start in Jan­uary fo­cus­ing on ob­scure and cult hor­ror in­clud­ing ses­sions on Jesús Franco, sado- masochism and class­room safety films. Head to www. miska­tonic- lon­don. com

for tick­ets and de­tails.

The Night­mare: You’ll be glued to your, er, bed.

The Hal­low de­picts typ­i­cal Ir­ish weather. And mon­sters.

“Knock Knock.” “Who’s there?” “Gun.” “Oh.”

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