Penny Dread­ful

Gi­ant wasps, scary ghosts and a brace of home- made Hal­loween cos­tumes

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Opinion -

No more night mares

Au­gust saw the pass­ing of hor­ror leg­end Wes Craven, aged 76. These days Craven is best known for kick- start­ing the meta- hor­ror tra­di­tion with the Scream se­ries in 1996 ( although 1994’ s New Night­mare was a pre­cur­sor), ac­cused of ham­string­ing hor­ror in the ’ 90s be­cause of its copy­cats, but ac­tu­ally the start of a new era – a shock to the sys­tem which pushed film­mak­ers away from just re­hash­ing the slash­ers of the ’ 70s and ’ 80s that Craven had been so in­stru­men­tal in defin­ing. Craven was an in­no­va­tor and one of the most im­por­tant fig­ures in genre film­mak­ing, per­haps never lauded enough as a po­lit­i­cal thinker and agent provo­ca­teur. The Last House On The Left is hor­ri­ble, grimy and shock­ing but it was Craven’s re­ac­tion to Viet­nam, based on Bergman’s The Vir­gin Spring and was born of his de­sire to present vi­o­lence and ex­ploita­tion as un­ro­man­tic and real. The Hills Have Eyes shows an us/ them di­a­logue through op­pos­ing “nu­clear” fam­i­lies still rel­e­vant in this era of ter­ror­ism. And A Night­mare On Elm Street, as well as be­ing bril­liantly scary is genre- defin­ing in its blur­ring of re­al­ity and fic­tion ( with­out Night­mare would there have been Ringu?). He drove the genre, in­vented and then took it apart and re­built it. Sweet dreams then, Mr Craven, and thanks for all the scares.

Buzz kill

Back when Snakes On A Plane/ Train was the thing, I had this idea for a low- bud­get Brit spin off called Wasp In A Taxi – tense, trau­ma­tis­ing, short, it would have been great! Sadly I missed the boat ( Fer­rets On A Ferry never set sail ei­ther...). Now in the era of Shark­nado ev­ery­thing has to be big­ger ( in­deed, spoof doc Shark­nado: Heart Of Shark­ness, out Oc­to­ber, has taken things to new lev­els of meta). In­tro­duc­ing Stung then, out Oc­to­ber – a funny, gross com­edy where party guests are un­der at­tack by a mul­ti­tude of ma­lig­nant mu­tant stingers. This is ba­sic loser fan­tasy – un­re­mark­able dude mans up and saves gor­geous girl ( and Lance Hen­rik­sen) from black and yel­low men­ace – though its lack of cyn­i­cism and bril­liant fi­nal “sting” means it flies above the whirl­wind of mu­tant fish.

House of pain

DVD of the month goes to grungy US in­die We Are Still Here – a slow- burn creepy ghost story that turns into a ridicu­lous out-’ n’- out gorefest be­fore your poked- out eyes! Spe­cial men­tion goes to larger than life Larry Fessenden who plays the stoner friend of a be­reaved older cou­ple whose son has died in tragic cir­cum­stances. What be­gins as a pe­riod haunted- houser in the foot­steps of House Of The Devil and The Innkeep­ers trans­forms into a Fulci- style freak out com­plete with spew­ing blood. The act­ing’s a bit hokey but there’s a sim­i­lar dark hu­mour to Cheap Thrills and Starry Eyes, which share a pro­ducer in Travis Stevens. Stevens seems to be the one to watch here – he’s cur­rently co- pro­duc­ing XX, that fe­male- only an­thol­ogy movie with Karyn Kusama, Jen­nifer Lynch and Mary Har­ron I men­tioned a while back. More on this when I have it.

Dress to kill

Hal­loween is upon us and with it cos­tume anx­i­ety. Are you tired of bor­ing old 20th cen­tury hor­ror out­fits? Try my cut­ting- edge home- made ideas for killer cossies and you’ll be the star of the night! For him: Hec­tor from Time­crimes. How: big over­coat, pink ban­dages on the head, holes cut for eyes and nose, pair of scis­sors as prop. For her: The Woman from The Woman. How: wear cheap crop top and skirt you don’t mind get­ting dirty. Get re­ally, re­ally dirty. Wear hair long and fringe short. Eat a lot of liquorice.

Party guests get Stung and it’s not by the drinks prices. We Are Still Here – and not very at­trac­tive ei­ther. An icon born in Wes Craven’s A Night­mare On Elm Street.

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