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