It's been a week since Monster Fest's "official" opening night with MURDERDROME and despite not catching every film (get realistic) I reckon I've made a decent go of it. Tonight's line up is one of the strongest on the program with HELLBABY, HELLBENDERS 3D, HATCHET 3 and A NIGHTMARE ON LYGON STREET (6 Freddy movies back-to-back). Unfortunately I was only able to catch HELLBABY.
I wrapped up work early and headed into town. I had an hour to spare and so I grabbed a bite to eat (the fish place next door make wicked salmon burgers). Before the cinema opened I briefly caught up with Grant Hardie (from Monster) and talked about the festival. He seemed to be stoked with how the festival has been going and I shared my highs and lows with him. People started to arrive and we wrapped it up. Time for HELLBABY! I have read lots about the movie over the past few months and I've been keen to see it. I um'd and ah'd about whether or not to attend this session, though, because it's actually being released to blu-ray and dvd next week and I've got a heap of copies on order... but I thought "fuck it" and decided to catch it on the big screen. I had the added bonus of seeing it with an audience, which made all the difference. As you can see from the poster, the film was made by the guys who created Reno 911 and that is a good indication of what you're going to get. This is a damn funny movie and ridiculously outrageous. To be honest I wasn't expecting it to be SO ludicrous but I'm real glad it was. I was in the right mood and it worked on me. It's about a couple who move into a notorious murder house in New Orleans and encounter all kinds of freaky and maniacal occurrences. The pregnant wife becomes possessed and eventually gives birth to a demon baby. It's essentially one big comedy-of-errors with a delicious amount of gory goodness and sacrilegious blasphemy. This is quite possibly my last film for the festival and I couldn't think of a more fun way to wrap things up. On my way back to the car I caught Stuart Simpson as he was on his way up to see HELLBENDERS and we talked about last night's screening of BIG ASS SPIDER. He shared my sentiments about it. As we were talking I noticed a whole lot of familiar faces walking up the stairs including Mark Hartley and Paul Harris. I thought hard about heading back up and doing a bit of mingling - but I'm not the ogle-suck-arse-type. Introducing myself might have seemed desperate (I did have my card in hand. lol) Yeah yeah, I know. I'm mental!
Anyhow... so if I'm not able to squeeze any more session in over the weekend then Sunday night's Monster Fest wrap party will be the final hoorah. It should be a great night and you can bet I'll be here to fill you in. I wish I had more for you tonight but I'll do my best to re-post any other blogs about the films I'm missing out on tonight.
Last night (Wednesday) I made the split-second decision to catch the encore screening of Stu Simpson's CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA. I was keen to see it again and my girlfriend was also eager to watch it having listened to my high praise. So we both got home from work, scoffed down dinner and made a b-line to the city. We arrived a little early and hung around in the foyer. We caught Glenn Maynard for a few minutes and had a chat. He was worried that I'd talked the film up too much and that my partner would have unrealistic expectations. Ha. Glenn - if you're reading this - she loved it! Watching it for the second time solidified my veneration. I came away from it with even more respect than the first time. The crowd responded well again and the Q&A which followed was even more casual and informative than the first time. Definitely my favourite film of the festival.
Cut to: tonight - BIG ASS SPIDER - KICK ASS MOVIE! Take a wander around this site and you'll see my devotion to creature-features splattered all over the place. I fucking live for this shit! This is a film I was most definitely looking forward to and I lapped up every schlocky second of it. I don't need to explain the movie. It speaks for itself but the quick run-down is this... There's giant mutant spider on the loose in LA and where the military can't stop it, a funny-guy bug-buster and his newly appointed latino side-kick sure as hell can! The movie starts with one of the coolest opening sequences I've seen in yonks. It's a wickedly captured slow motion pan of our heroes' march into battle. Chaos surrounds him, mass panic, military engagement and one big ass spider! Right from the get-go, despite this being a b-movie, you know you're in safe hands.
A note to those people who walked into the cinema mid-way through this sequence and asked other people (who'd already arrived) to move - NOT COOL! You ruined this part of the movie for them and if it were me, I'd 'av been royally pissed!
But I digress. Its a super fun movie and really well made. Being a creature-feature it's tongue is planted firmly in it's cheek and its go-go-go all the way through. Very funny and unexpectedly scary at times, this would have to be the most fun film at Monster Fest this year. The audience seemed to love it. There's nothing better than laughing along with an entire audience. Clearly everyone "got it". Another great night.
And so that marks my second last session for Monster Fest. Tomorrow night will be it for me - unless I can manage to wrangle the time to squeeze one more film in - I'll try. I started the evening exhausted but BIS ASS SPIDER totally picked me up. Make a fucking sequel already... I want more!
When Monster Fest is done and dusted I reckon today will be THE highlight of the whole damn thing. I've come home tonight feeling completely buzzed and wishing I had the time to stick around for the after-drinks.
My afternoon began with the highly anticipated TRASHARAMA A-GO-GO. For those who don't know, Trasharama is a film festival all to it's own and has been mortifying sick film lovers for years. It's purpose is to showcase short films of a more - lets say... unsavoury - flavour. For the first time in it's 16 year history it has been incorporated into Monster Fest. Even though it's now part of a larger festival the reigns are still firmly in the hands of Dick Dale, the sick motherfucker who started the whole putrid thing. I've been to several Trasharama events over the years but definitely enjoyed today's helping the most. A true master-showman, Dick, played a devilishly fun MC. He promised an assortment of sick, twisted and perverted films and he delivered in spades. To be honest (and I'm not blowing smoke up anyones arse) I enjoyed all of the films. Of course some were stronger than others and some true stand-outs for me included Budget Cuts, Alice in Zombieland and A Little R & R for it's sheer audacity.
The screening was broken into two fifty minute blocks with an intermission in between. I guess with a line-up of such perversity a well earned rest was in order. During this interval Dick Dale entertained the audience with some giveaways, courtesy of Club X. As Dick asked a series of questions and gave away some truly nasty sex gadgets, I decided that the questions were piss-easy and that I was going to bags myself the final prize. "What was the real name of the actor who ate dog shit in Pink Flamingos?" I called out GLENN MILSTEAD and won myself something very special - A Cyberskin Shitting Ass Stroker! This is a flesh-light of a whole new kind. Complete with real shit-scented lube and a repulsive collection of scat photos, it's probably the best prize I've ever won.
Following the Trasharama screening I took the time to grab a drink and found some familiar faces to mingle with. Most of the conversation was about what we'd just seen and we were all as revved-up as each other. One thing is certain and that is that Dick's fantastic steaming pile of shorts has inspired me. So many ideas churned over in my head and such an event is perfect for realising some of the perversions that I've only ever spilled onto paper. So who knows... perhaps next year I'll reach in and tickle everyone's gag reflex.
The foyer of Nova began to swell with people. Earlier during the day the complex was swamped with eager Doctor Who fans salivating over the long-awaited DAY OF THE DOCTORS... but at this moment everyone was itching to see Stuart Simpson's third feature film CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA. The screening sold-out and Monster Fest had to arrange for a second screening this coming Wednesday. I've been a fan of Stuart's for a few years now and some of you will have seen me writing about him here and there. I loved his two previous films and particularly loved his ambitious DARK PSYCHOSIS anthology series. I went into CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA expecting something good but I was nowhere near prepared for how amazing it was. No word of a lie, I was flabbergasted. This is easily one of the most impressive Australian films I've seen in years. When Stuart revealed to the audience that he shot it for $10,000 I was flawed... and when he went on to say that $3000 of that budget went to Mr Whippy, I was gobsmacked. How is such a polished and accomplished film possible for so little money? The answer is simple - an exceptional director. I will be publishing a proper review of the film this week and so I wont reveal much more about it here, only to say that it's a strong and powerful film. The script by Addison Heath is surprisingly daring while being completely endearing and hilarious. The film's star, Glenn Maynard is phenomenal. He carries the entire film and delivers a career-defining performance. Exceptional.
Following the film the cast and crew gathered in the bar to mingle with everyone. Already knowing some of these guys I congratulated them and complemented them on a truly remarkable film. I was also able to meet a whole lot of new people, some I knew of and others who were complete strangers. There is no doubt this years Monster Fest is providing me with all sorts of fantastic friends and contacts. So far I am yet to meet a single arsehole and everyone has been so damn friendly. It all reenforces what Monster are all about - that the horror community is one of the strongest and most passionate of them all. We might all have sick tastes but we're all very genuine and easy-going.
And so that wraps up 4 days of Monster Fest. It's been a blast. There's still another week to go and my next adventure won't be until Wednesday. Unfortunately work gets in the way.. ya know? Fuck! But alas I've got some wicked looking films ahead of me and I cannot wait.
And so for now, if you will excuse me, I must go and test out my prize (my girlfriend can have the night off).
Today was a big day for me and I sit here exhausted as I write this. My day began with my stupid body waking up way earlier than I wanted to. Still, it gave me time to get shit done and shortly after midday I made my way back into town. Another day of Monster Fest and another 3 films checked off the list.
The first film of the day was Duncan Cunningham's ultra violent FORESIGHT KILLER INSTINCT. There's not a lot I can add to this that I haven't already said in my previous review of the movie (see here). I've been right behind this one since I saw it several months ago when Duncan was kind enough to send me a copy. Having officially met Duncan and his brother (star & producer) last night I am stoked that such an impressive debut film has such genuinely nice guys behind it. I was a little nervous that the film wouldn't pull much of an audience but it was great to see a bigger attendance than was expected. Duncan greeted everyone wearing a gnarly blood-splattered suit while Martin wore a traditional Scottish kilt. They are two showmen, that's for sure and their introduction banter was hilarious. Arriving to the front stage a few seconds late Martin says to the audience "sorry I'm late. Had to take a pre-screening piss". His humour put everyone in a good mood. The film played and everyone responded to it well. We all hung around for a post screening Q&A and then left the cinema thoroughly entertained. I enjoyed it even more this second time.
Next on the line-up was Richard Wolstencroft's documentary THE LAST DAYS OF JOE BLOW. I hadn't planned to see this at Monster Fest but when I contemplated filling in 3 hours between films I realised that there's only so much coffee I could drink and I may as well check out JOE BLOW. So I purchased a ticket and went in. To be honest with you I haven't been a fan of Richard's previous films and there was relief when this new one of his surpassed my expectations. It's certainly his best work to date and it would seem that he is more at ease with the documentary format. It opens with a kick-ass intro credit sequence and my enthusiasm lifted. Unfortunately I, personally, didn't take to the film itself. It tells the story of MICHAEL TIERNEY (nephew of Lawrence) as he steps into the world of pornography. With intimate access the film chronicles his life in the porn world, through his decline and his attempts to get out of it. There is no doubt that this is a personal film but it also felt exploitative. The narrative arch is kind of skewiffed and the storytelling goes off on tangents at times. During the middle of the film Michael seems to be forgotten as the doco examines various porn-related issues such as the internet age, wikiporn and art-vs-porn. The film lacked direction and seemed self indulgent... but nevertheless it did look great. Richard Wolstencroft came to the stage for a Q&A and seemed more content talking about himself than he did fielding questions and I switched off at this point. I am scratching my head as to why this film was included in Monster Fest at all. It doesn't suite the profile and it certainly isn't horror (no matter how "existentially horror" Wolstencroft says it is.) Sexpo is on right now and it would have been better off debuting there... after all Richard's old pal (and mine) Jason Turley is over there doing promotion.
Next up was THE JUNGLE. This is amongst three films that I have been most excited about at Monster Fest. I have been super psyched to see it and tonight was the night. The film is the third in Andrew Traucki's man-vs-nature trilogy following the impressive BLACK WATER and THE REEF. How disappointed I was. I really don't like hating on films but I did hate this one. It more or less plays out like a redux of THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. In fact it's almost identical. The movie is presented as the "lost footage" of an expedition into the jungles of Indonesia to document an endangered leopard. The two Australian researchers and their jungle-guides find themselves being stalked by something big hidden in the dense environment around them. Most of the film is walking, walking, walking and some talking.... talking... talking. The performances are average at best and I felt like I was watching actors, not real people (like they're supposed to be). I will give the movie some credit in that it's tense moments are genuinely scary and they're well handled. But it's nothing we haven't seen so many countless times before. For a third film following two really impressive creature features, this was a huge let down.
And so that was my day. I have to admit that the whole vibe of the day was slightly off. Not quite sell-out screenings (but still good) I actually reakon most people were feeling the effects of the previous night's after-party. With that said, there was still proper enthusiasm for the films and of the three, it was FORESIGHT KILLER INSTINCT that received the best response. Everyone seemed to genuinely "get it". Well done to those guys. It's a micro-budget film that delivers in spades... oh and is ranked something like the 3rd most expletive film in history. HATS OFF TO THE CUNNINGHAM CLAN! lol
By this stage I was exhausted and utterly knackered. Sadly I missed the final screening of the day, which was APOCALYPTIC. There's been a lot of festival buzz about it and I'm sorry to have missed out. I'm sure there will be other blogs and reviews online soon and I will link them for you.
Another Monster Day wrapped. Another big one tomorrow. I'll be there with bells on!
Despite last night's screening of THE EXORCIST, tonight was actually the real opening of Monster Fest. Today was a typical Friday for me, except I was itching to wrap up work and head into the city. For a minute I thought I was going to miss it. I had to drop my son off at Southern Cross Station at 6:30 and then race across to Nova. Of course everything stood in my way - closed roads, fire trucks, accident. Nevertheless I arrived with time to spare and made my way to the Monster Fest table. My name was on the door list and I was given a purple entry bracelet for the after party later in the evening. Tonight's feature was the world premier of Daniel Armstrong's roller-derby slasher MURDERDROME. The foyer was quickly filling up with all sorts of strange and wonderful people. The roller-derby crowd was out in full force to see their sport exploited in all it's glory on the big screen.
The film was split into two cinemas. One screening had sold out and the spill-over crowd almost filled the second cinema. It was a brilliant turn-out. Neil Foley welcomed the audience with a humble gratitude and introduced the film's director, writer and producer. These guys were exhausted having just hopped off a plane after shopping the movie around in Hollywood... but their fatigue was barely noticeable and their nervous anxiety for their debut screening was masked by excitement. The audience was right behind them and equally as excited to see the movie
The lights dimmed and MURDERDROME whipped-it good. I have a habit of getting overly excited about movies that impress me and this one was fucking rad. I loved every second of it. It's a tested and true formula slasher film, harking back to the classics of the 80s. A group of roller-derby chicks start getting picked off one-by-one by a vengeful psycho roller chick. What had me hooked was the fact that it was a generic type of film. Who doesn't love a slasher movie? And being set in the subculture world of roller derby made it a unique and refreshing take on the genre. Watching it took me back to movies like THE PROWLER and MY BLOODY VALENTINE and it's bright fluro tones reminded my a lot of Brian Trenchard-Smith's classic DEAD END DRIVE IN. There were a few nit-picky technical issues but nothing worth criticising and I'm sure the makers are already aware of them. I have no doubt they haven't finished fine tuning it anyhow. The sountrack was stellar, the cinematography was sharp and the entire aesthetic was of an international standard. With fucking cool editing, great special fx and a wicked title sequences I can see MURDERDROME becoming a cult film, easily. Oh and it was an added neato-factor seeing an old mate of mine in the film as one of the roller-derby commentators (he does that for rizzle).
So after the film wrapped everyone made their way to the LuWow bar in Fitzroy. I had already caught up with Brisbane brothers Duncan & Martin Cunningham, the guys behind FORESIGHT KILLER INSTINCT. Two super nice guys in Melbourne for the first time (come and along and support their film tomorrow). With another filmie with us (apologies for forgetting your name) we all drive up the road to the bar. Upon entry we discovered that the alcohol was on the house and free flowing thanks to Monster Pictures (again outdoing themselves). This is when I cursed the fact that I had to drive home because I was definitely in the mood to get hammered (I mingle well when Im shit-faced). So I had a couple of drinks and worked my way around the room. I caught up with a lot of people and was introduced to a whole heap more. Damn, the horror community is such an awesome crowd. Similar to last night I was told that I'm quite well known amongst many of them. Ben from Monster jokingly told me that i'm sort of famous. Talk about a mind-fuck. lol
One of the more amusing aspects to my night night was realising how tall everyone else is - actually strike that - how damn short I am. LOL. I felt like Ronnie Corbett at a Richard Kiel convention. I damn near cracked my neck just talking to people... and to add injury to insult, the fucking bar was at chest height. I didn't know whether to ask for a beer or a fucking phone book.
But I digress. MURDERDROME was a really solid movie. It impressed the shit out of me and I can't wait to own a copy. The after party was buzzing with cinephiles and the atmosphere was brilliant. To those of you I met for the first time, It was a privilege and I'll see you again soon. To those I am yet to meet please don't be shy.
On with the festival...
And Monster Fest is a go! With several weeks of build up, tonight's hugely anticipated 40th anniversary screening of THE EXORCIST was a brilliant way to get things started. After a brief moment of panic when the Eastern Freeway came to a stand-still we eventually made it to Cinema Nova with plenty of time to spare. Nova's bar/lounge area was roped off and closed for the meet 'n greet with the festival's special guest LINDA BLAIR. I've never been the type of person to ogle over celebrities and while it's wonderful to listen to them address an audience, I'm not a huge fan of kissing-ass or lining up for their attention. While waiting in the foyer I recognised a lot of familiar faces and managed a few brief conversations. It was great to meet some of you and it was very fucking weird (in a good way) to have some people approach me as "hey, you're that Fake Shemp guy". Sorry to the faces I saw and never spoke to. There's a whole week left and I'm sure we'll get the chance.
7PM arrived and it was time to file into Cinema 1. The seats were allocated and lucky for us, we ended up almost exactly where we would have chosen. As the cinema filled up Mr Neil Foley (or Pappa Monster as some call him) came in and spoke to the audience. Always the charmer, he thanked everyone for coming and supporting the festival. And then without further delay he introduced one of Melbourne's most respected film journalists, Paul Harris followed by the star herself MS LINDA BLAIR. They were greeted by a round of applause and an elation of cheers. LINDA picked up the microphone and started talking.... and talking.
No doubt a seasoned pro at festival and convention screenings, she spoke about making the film and the impact it has had on her life. Clearly a sermon she has delivered to thousands before, she gave insight into her psyche as a 13 year old child as well as other film experiences and what-not. She was lovely and energetic and despite the fact that she would have told the same stories hundreds of times previously, she spoke with genuine enthusiasm. She never gave the impression that she was sick of talking about THE EXORCIST and it was a real treat to hear her talk in person. How many people can say that they've had LINDA BLAIR introduce THE EXORCIST to them?? Amazing! Poor Paul Harris barely got a word in and eventually LINDA was forced to wrap it up. Again, her energy was delightful.
And then the lights dimmed. The movie started and this is where my rant begins...
What the hell is wrong with people? I assumed that everyone had paid their money to come and see THE EXORCIST on the big screen but clearly that was not the case. Instead we endured 2 hours of irritation and aggravation. Mobile phones went off during the film - people talked during the film - assholes Facebooked during the film - and we counted at least 40 (probably more) people walking in and out of the film. People laughed at images and dialogue, which should have been disturbing and unsettling. People seemed to find great amusement from a 12 year old girl masturbating with a crucifix while telling a priest to fuck her... hmm. The power of the film was totally lost with so many distractions coming from all directions. The guy next to me was drinking wine and kept burping his rancid filthy fucking breath all over me. The guy next to him kept pin-pointing moments of the film verbally - "oh here comes an iconic shot" - "here comes the spider walk" etc. Oh shut the fuck up dude!
I have seen THE EXORCIST more times than I can recall but tonight I had brought along my girlfriend because she had never seen it before and wanted to wait for Monster Fest instead of watching the blu-ray at home. Sadly for her, her concentration was constantly broken from all of the twats around us. Her first time seeing THE EXORCIST was nowhere near as impacting as it should have been. Funnily enough I have encountered similar audiences before and for some weird-ass reason they all seem to be at festivals. Only a few months ago I felt the same frustration during the world premier of PATRICK. Is it wrong to assume that festival-goers ought to be film lovers? Have people forgotten how to watch movies?
But I digress. I feel the need to rant but I don't want it to detract from Monster Fest. It was nevertheless a great night and a fantastic way to kick off the festival. After the final credits rolled LINDA came back into the cinema for another meet n greet. For a reasonable fee people could have photos taken with her and get autographs (all money to her foundation). Impressively she was also happy to stick around and engage in conversation with anyone and everyone, freely without charge. She hugged and talked and made people's night. She was down to Earth and approachable and a fantastic get by the Monster folks.
I briefly caught Monster's Grant Hardie on our way out and he made a valid point by suggesting that a lot of people probably came to see LINDA BLAIR, rather than the film itself. True enough but still poor form to shit all over the cinema's ambience. Having said that I am REVVED UP and raring to go for the rest of the festival. Tomorrow night is the "OFFICIAL" opening night with the roller-derby slasher flick MURDERDROME. I'm uber excited to see it and reckon the atmosphere will be buzzing. Stay tuned for that one!
MONSTER FEST has begun. Let the depravity ensue... FEED YOUR BEAST!
I recently had a conversation with an Australian actor and something they said really bothered me. This person has become quite iconic here in Australia but has never actually worked outside of our shores. We were discussing various aspects of the Australian film industry and the film THE HUNTER was mentioned. The lead actor of that film was Willem Dafoe and the asinine comment was made that "Yanks come here and steal our jobs". The remark was really vexed and it annoyed the shit out of me. To start with Willem Dafoe is an actor of the highest degree... what's to diss? It's not the first time I've heard this type of opinion and it immediately took me back to the era of Aussie genre films in the 70s and 80s. Back then American leading actors were brought in to star in films to bolster the international appeal. Jamie Lee Curtis and Stacy Keach appeared in ROAD GAMES. Dennis Hopper was MAD DOG MORGAN. Steve Railsback in TURKEY SHOOT. Meryl Streep in EVIL ANGELS. Henry Thomas in FROG DREAMING... the list goes on. As documented in Mark Hartley's film NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD, there was a lot of resentment towards the American talent from Aussie crews.
What is it about Australians? What makes us so defensive? It's not exclusive to the film industry and we seem to have a massive complex and insecurity in all sorts of areas. When Aussies start dominating Hollywood and taking the world by storm we celebrate them. We take pride in the fact that our own people are making good in the big wide world and yet we shun outsiders when they try to get in. Never mind that big American productions come to our shores and generate thousands of jobs. Never mind that we import the occasional foreigner to star in a film, which would otherwise sink. Would LOVE'S BROTHER have performed if Giovanni Ribisi hadn't been in it? Billy Connolly in THE MAN WHO SUED GOD? Would RED DOG have had much of an impact overseas without Josh Lucas?
We make great quality films and I could list hundreds of excellent ones without international "guests" in them and so the very fact that we're producing such a high standard of cinema surely means that it's no big deal when big stars do come and play with us. I personally get a little bit chuffed when I see big-time players showing up in our movies. In fact THAT is where my pride comes into it. Wasn't it awesome to see people like John Hurt, Ray Winstone, Emily Watson and Danny Huston show up in THE PROPOSITION? And how about Anthony Hopkins in SPOTSWOOD? Patrick Warburton in THE DISH? Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe in DAYBREAKERS? Kiefer Sutherland and Jennifer Connelly in DARK CITY? etc...
We should embrace the fact that such international stars find it appealing to work with us. If any film is to succeed then it needs to have a hook. Yeah sure a story can be strong enough to carry a movie but how far do Australian stories travel without faces the rest of the world can recognise? I hate the tall poppy syndrome that so many Aussies possess and I hate hearing people being so spiteful and protective of our industry. I wont reveal who the actor was at the start of this article but I will say that it changed my perceptions of them. Half of the films this person has starred in would have been financial catastrophes without Hollywood actors... hell, most of the films wouldn't have even been made at all.
If we're happy to export - then rejecting import is vapid and thickheaded.
I've got a lot more to say about this and there are endless examples I could use... and i might return to the subject later... but for now, rant over! lol
As MONSTER FEST gnaws it's way closer and closer the buzz around Facebook and other social media is starting to hum louder and louder. The guys at MONSTER have been flogging their guts out to prepare what's promising to be a year to outdo the previous events.
In the weeks since the launch party Monster's pozzible campaign has been going gangbusters with only 2 days left to grab a premium-pass or even a mini-pass. Stuart Simpson's CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA sold out within days and NOVA have moved the screening into their largest cinema. The unrivalled MICRO-NASTIES initiative attracted a slew of entries with MONSTER extending the number of semi-finalists from 12 to 20. According the Neil the quality of submissions was exceptional and I can only imagine how amazing some of these were. I was involved with one team and the pitch we put in was wicked - cant wait to hear about the rest.
I'm starting to get pumped for opening night. It's just around the corner and it's going to be a week of intense cinema. The sick fuckers at MONSTER (they're also all 'round awesome people) have given me an exclusive double pass to give away to attend the BANSHEE CHAPTER 3D screening on Nov 30. Touted as one of the scariest films of the year, it's a fright fest that's sure to test your nerves. Click below to go in the draw. The winner will be notified next week. Get cracking!
I am pressed to think of a horror franchise that's been as divisive amongst fans as HELLRAISER. If you have ever cared enough about the series to visit or contribute to a HELLRAISER message board or forum then you have probably faced a fandom unlike any other. The passion flows ferociously and opinions are received with aggression, dismissal and arrogance. The HELLRAISER fanbase is divided into two camps - those who worship Clive Barker and those who worship the mythology.
In 1987 British horror novelist Clive Barker made his directorial debut by adapting his novella THE HELLBOUND HEART into a feature film. In doing so he created a seminal movie and introduced one of horror's most enduring and beloved monsters, PINHEAD. It was a simple film, built upon a simple book. In it PINHEAD remains nameless and makes up less than 10 minutes of screen time. He is not established as a lead villain and, in fact, Clive Barker's intention was for the character of Julia to be the film's monster. As it was, audiences love iconic figures and PINHEAD's appearance was so commanding that he became the crux of the legacy - rightfully so.
With the surprise success of Barker's original independent film came a natural demand for more, which lead to HELLBOUND - a direct sequel continuing Julia's story in Hell. Of course PINHEAD and his servants returned much more predominantly and the original modesty of Barker's story was turned into something grand and formulaic. Don't get me wrong because it is still a very powerful and aesthetically amazing film but there's no denying it's target audience were the same teenagers who flocked to A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
Many of those fans from the "Clive Barker camp" resist the rest of the franchise. The first two films work together fluently and from part 3 onwards, it's a steady downward decline into mediocracy and insult. Barker was still on board for HELL ON EARTH and BLOODLINE (3 and 4), however his creative input was all but gone. Those two films had some great themes and concepts and number 3 in particular (director's cut is best) gave us PINHEAD's back-story. That said, they weren't of the standard Barker has established years ago with the first film.
And then came a string of sequels (5 more) which took the mythology into all sorts of new places. Some good, some bad. I'm one of those people from the "mythology camp" and always welcomed new ideas and concepts to the series. Unfortunately all but one of these sequels were adapted from unrelated scripts and re-worked to fit the franchise. To say that I am a fan of these sequels is an overstatement, but I have taken to the Hellraiser communities and defended them. When it comes to people's resistance and rejection to my own theories, the most common argument and misconception is "No Clive, No Doug, No Hellraiser". People with this point of view clearly don't understand HELLRAISER at all. I can appreciate people being loyal to both Barker and Doug Bradley (PINHEAD) but their assertion that there is no Hellraiser without them is misguided.
It's important to note that Clive's original novella was only 164 pages long and it told a very basic story. Hell was only suggested and PINHEAD was little more than a figure lurking in the shadows. Barker's story was a human one and he didn't consider PINHEAD significant enough to name. His purpose was to usher people to hell - nothing more. The '87 film was as equally simplistic and neither mediums explored any great mythology. All of the mythos, constructs and conventions have been built upon in later sequels and subsequent fictions. Much of this legacy has been created by other people, not Barker. He actually signed away the property and left it in the hands of others. His involvement in the series was no longer required, although it was appreciated.
To be so precious over Clive's ownership of HELLRAISER is naive. Fans ought to accept that. To declare that it is not HELLRAISER without PINHEAD is even more absurd. I've come to the opinion that PINHEAD is the one common factor holding the series back. He's become such a focal point that the important themes have become lost and are being ignored. His character only came to be when his human-self opened the Lament Configuration in the 1950s. Hell is certainly a lot older than that. PINHEAD is just one of the thousands of Hell's servants and to constantly focus on him is to ignore a rich and delicious tapestry of ideas. I want to explore more than what's been on offer. I want to go beyond PINHEAD, into the depths of Hell.
And so comes HELLRAISER: ORIGINS. A new vision. A new exploration.
Conceptual artist, Paul Gerrard and director Mike Le Han have proposed a whole new take on the HELLRAISER mythos and their vision is exciting and bold. Their concept and artwork have been floating around the internet for a few years and they recently focused their energies into producing a high-concept teaser to pitch to the studio. They propose a visually arresting and detailed exploration into HELLRAISER, some eons before Clive's novella was set. Of course those two HELLRAISER camps have locked-heads and ORIGINS has become viciously divisive.
The new teaser trailer implies a deity. A figure who resembles PINHEAD but is not. This idea gives the story a religious parallel with the possibility of others being created in his image. The trailer seduces us with ultimate pleasures and suggests a connection with Barker's original themes. And most importantly the teaser reassures us that were ORIGINS to be made, it would be in capable hands. This is not a cheap knock-out flick looking for a quick buck. This is a labor of love. A courageous proposal of which no such respect has been granted to HELLRAISER in over 25 years.
Its time for the "Clive camp" to let go. It's time for HELLRAISER to rise up. No sequel is going to breath new life into the series and no remake is going to resurrect it. Lets bid PINHEAD a fond farewell and open our minds to the next incarnation. It's long over due.
Visit the website and take the time to explore and engage with the content. There's so much to sink your teeth into.
In the coming weeks I will be interviewing the guys behind HELLRAISER ORIGINS and can hopefully shed more light onto their creation. Stay tuned...