Penny Dread­ful

SFX's high priest­ess of hor­ror

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

Gems from Cannes, an in­flux of mon­sters and why hor­ror movies make you a bet­ter per­son


Hor­ror’s gone weird. In a move that is ab­so­lutely not a joke, a studio called Gun­pow­der And Sky has joined up with Man­dalay Sports Me­dia to in­tro­duce a whole new sub­genre which com­bines hor­ror and pro sports. It’s go­ing to be called Spor­ror. It ac­tu­ally is. The idea is that they’ll pro­duce chillers set in the world of sports and star­ring ath­letes. The first movie will be called Lucky Num­ber and fea­ture a pro bas­ket­ball su­per star who makes a deal with the devil and be­comes a highly ath­letic killer. It sounds aw­ful. Aw­ful. It’s not to­tally un­heard of for sports stars to ap­pear in hor­ror movies – I mean, wrestler Horn­swag­gle stars in the new­est Leprechaun movie, so there’s that. But I can’t imag­ine this be­ing any­thing other than de­press­ingly cheap and cyn­i­cal. Come on then “Spor­ror” – prove me wrong.


Caught up this month with a sci-hor­ror from 2016 called Rup­ture, star­ring Noomi Ra­pace. It’s not very good, so no need to rush out and watch it. The gist is that a se­cret fa­cil­ity is kid­nap­ping peo­ple and ex­pos­ing them to their great­est fears in the hope that when their stress lev­els get high enough their DNA will ac­tu­ally mu­tate, mak­ing them into higher evolved be­ings. Mostly non­sense sci-fi tor­ture porn but there is a good/hor­rid bit with spi­ders run­ning all over poor old Noomi’s face. I do like the idea that hor­ror al­lows us to evolve though. There was a study last year which ac­tu­ally came to a sim­i­lar con­clu­sion – that watch­ing trau­matic movies could in­crease your pain thresh­old and help group bond­ing. I’m not a fan of ac­tual pain, but I should show my five-year-old nephew all seven of the Saw movies to see if he turns into an X-Man.


The Mummy isn’t very scary (but it’s not aw­ful, you’ll be pleased to hear). But now Uni­ver­sal has an­nounced it will be fol­low­ing the first of its Dark Uni­verse movies with The Bride Of Franken­stein, with Beauty And The Beast’s Bill Con­don at­tached to di­rect. As the man who made James Whale biopic Gods And Mon­sters and an ex­pert on Uni­ver­sal’s crea­ture fea­tures (plus, the di­rec­tor of Candy­man: Farewell To The Flesh, lest we for­get), he’s prob­a­bly a great choice. But I’m not sure how I feel about turn­ing clas­sic hor­ror movies into a fam­ily-friendly fran­chise. We’ve al­ready lost vam­pires to Twi­light and zom­bies to iZom­bie and Santa Clarita Diet, so I’m not sure I’m cool with giv­ing up Franken­stein’s mon­ster too. Ap­par­ently Javier Bar­dem will play the mon­ster and An­gelina Jolie is first choice for The Bride, which would be noth­ing if not im­pact­ful. Fear not though – or rather, yes fear! The other Dark Uni­verse ru­mour go­ing around is that the movies are go­ing to vary in bud­get – they won’t all be tent­poles star­ring A-lis­ters. My beloved Ja­son Blum has thrown his hat in the ring to shep­herd one of the lower-bud­get ef­forts, which might mean some­thing gen­uinely scary. Johnny Depp has also signed on for The In­vis­i­ble Man. Now I’m imag­in­ing a world where Blum pro­duced a scary ver­sion of this with Depp as an in­vis­i­ble psy­chopath.


Last month Sofia Cop­pola be­came only the sec­ond wo­man to win the Palme D’Or in Cannes for best di­rec­tor. It was for her lan­guorous civil war re­venge story The Be­guiled star­ring Ni­cole Kid­man and Colin Far­rell, which, at a stretch, has some genre el­e­ments kick­ing about in the lat­ter half. An­other Kid­man/Colin Far­rell col­lab­o­ra­tion at Cannes sounds like one to watch. The Killing Of A Sa­cred Deer is di­rected by Yor­gos Lan­thi­mos who made The Lob­ster and is a tense hor­ror with a layer of black com­edy. Far­rell play a dad forced to make an im­pos­si­ble choice – he must sac­ri­fice one mem­ber of his fam­ily (and choose which one) be­cause of a past mis­deed which has caught up with him. It’s part of a sub­genre known as the “Greek Weird Wave”, which in­cludes At­ten­berg and Lan­thi­mos’s Dog­tooth. A sub­genre I’m on board with...

The Dark Uni­verse cast be­ing too beau­ti­ful.

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