Sunday, 27 July 2014


Back in 2010 my fifth ever post on the EYE was about the wonderful Vincenzo Natali being attached to direct the long-in-development adaption of J.G. Ballard's High-Rise. To paraphrase myself:

"Our bizarrely evolving relationship with technology and the urban environment is a theme that runs through my favourite Ballard stories (Crash, Concrete Island and High-Rise), and I don't think that the ideas he played with in those novels have dated at all. In fact I think they're more relevant now than when they were written, showing a real prescience to Ballard's vision of where we're headed as a society (it's not optimistic).

It's heartening to know that High-Rise is in the capable hands of an intelligent, independent film-maker. Too many of Philip K. Dick's works have been reduced to dumbed-down action fests, but with first Cronenberg's Crash and now Natali at the helm of High-Rise, Ballard's cinematic legacy will hopefully fare better."

Well, that was over four years ago, the world has moved on and Natali has been off the project for a while now (I'm rooting for him to get his Neuromancer made, a daunting task to say the least). Sometimes things change for the better though, and as much as I love Natali and think he was a good match for High-Rise (there are striking thematic similarities between Ballard's novel and Cube), I think the film has fallen into even more capable hands now.

High-Rise is a distinctly British feeling science fiction novel, and the alienating, sprawling bleakness of Ballard's London has always set it apart from other 1970's dystopias. I suppose it could be transplanted to somewhere like L.A. (with its dehumanising landscape of freeways), but to really do Ballard's novel justice it should be set in the U.K.

With that in mind, the film's current director, Ben Wheatley, is perhaps the perfect choice. Wheatley, whose Down Terrace, Kill List and Sightseers (I have yet to see A Field in England) are all near flawless gems, has a uniquely English vision that seems perfectly suited to tackling '70s era Ballard.

As a filmmaker he seems genuinely interested in exploring the grimy underbelly of modern British society, albeit from some pretty weird perspectives. Whether by accident or not, the three films mentioned above are perfect examples of the social realism of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh spliced onto modern genre cinema. Be it crime, horror or black comedy, Wheatley has so far managed to effortlessly combine "kitchen sink realism" with whatever genre he sees fit.

This time around he's shifting his gaze from the struggles of the working class to that oldest and most British of conflicts: class war. There is no real proletariat living in the luxurious 40 story apartment complex of the novel, but as things start falling apart the residents quickly find themselves divided into lower, middle and upper classes... whether by choice or not. I can't wait to see how Wheatley handles this incendiary material. Will it remain rooted in naturalistic realism like his previous movies, or will it take a more mythical approach like the similarly themed (and fucking brilliant) Snowpiercer? It's also going to be really interesting to see what Wheatley does with a big budget.

Wheatley isn't the only interesting person involved with High-Rise though. The project has been patiently shepherded for over three decades by one of the most interesting producers in the business, Jeremy Thomas. I saw Thomas speak at length a couple of years ago, and he is that rarest of rare commodities among producers: a man who is genuinely passionate about leaving behind a legacy of art. Without him we might not have some of the more challenging movies from the likes of Nicolas Roeg, David Cronenberg, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jonathan Glazer, Wim Wenders, Richard Linklater, Harmony Korine, Takashi Miike and Jim Jarmusch. Seriously check out this guy's filmography, it's incredible. As far as Ballard is concerned, he was behind Cronenberg's Crash, and back in the '70s almost brought High-Rise to the big screen under the direction of Nicolas Roeg.

With a great cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Elisabeth Moss and Jeremy Irons, High-Rise is set to blow minds when it finally hits next year. Filming began earlier this month in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Death Rattled

That handsome fellow up there is Rocky.

He's a 16yo dingo X kelpie who came into my life 10 years ago (along with his owner, my long-suffering and awesome girlfriend Bowie). Rocky's passions include: farting, trying to hump tiny pugs while their owners look on in horror, peanuts, gorging on fresh possum entrails and blankly staring off into space like the dog from The Thing.

The other one in the photo is Rocky's servant, AKA me.

Aaron, of the consistently amazing DEATH RATTLE blog, recently asked me 13 questions to which I happily replied. Have a read HERE

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

OBLIVIONATION Language of Violence

It seems like forever ago that Oblivionation unleashed that nuclear bomb of a demo on the world. It's been a long time coming (hassles with inept pressing plants not helping), but their first album - Language of Violence - is finally out. Of course it was worth the wait. Ten tracks of stripped back, raging Massachusetts hardcore in the spirit of Out Cold (meaning that like Out Cold before them, these guys are committed to doing it their way - ignoring trends and seemingly not giving a fuck if that relegates them to the fringes of the scene*). Hardcore should always be challenging, raw, urgent and personal. It's so disappointing when you can tell it's being faked. Oblivionation don't fake it.

The boys have put the album up for eight dollar digital download right here. You can also get their ripping Cult of Culture EP for a mere €1.50 from Hardware records' bandcamp page here.

Well, what are you waiting for punk? Have at it!

*to quote Barry Henssler - "scene as in still life, scene as in soap opera".

Sunday, 6 July 2014


photo by Lee Stefen

Brisbane's Last Chaos play mean-as-fuck, primitive hardcore dripping with reverbed out vocals that seethe menacingly under an absolutely scorching guitar attack. Heard live, those guitars sound like a giant buzz saw revved up to the point of shattering into a wall of hot shrapnel. All of which is headed straight at your tortured ear holes. 

A couple of weeks ago, these Queenslanders killed it here in Sydney at the above pictured show with the equally amazing Canine and Thorax. Honestly don't know if I'll see a better one this year (although the Adolescents kind of blew my mind a couple of nights ago). Here's their demo, 7" and split with Vaarallinen at

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


"I had a very disturbing dream last night. In this dream I found myself making love to a strange man. Only I'm having trouble you see, because he's old... and dying... and he smells bad, and I find him repulsive. But then he tells me that everything is erotic, that everything is sexual. You know what I mean? He tells me that even old flesh is erotic flesh. That disease is the love of two alien kinds of creatures for each other. That even dying is an act of eroticism. That talking is sexual. That breathing is sexual. That even to physically exist is sexual. And I believe him, and we make love beautifully."

Oh. You're back. That's a shame. You have my sympathy... but let's face facts, you knew exactly what you were getting yourself into when you voluntarily exposed yourself to the Cronenberg Signal. You thought the tumor had gone away? That you were in remission? Poor, naive fool. I'm afraid that your neoplasm has metastasized again. No, not to other organs. It's too late to salvage any of that. Way too late. Your Flesh was corrupted long ago, decayed beyond repair. Beyond recognition. No, I'm afraid the disease is done with your Flesh, and the way that it's metastasizing now is more destructive than ever.

You see, it appears to have spread to your thoughts now.

The trick is not to think of it as dying. Just try to think of it as a kind of transformation. I'm sorry, what was that? Will it hurt? Oh, yes. Yes I'm afraid it will.

My first Dispatch in four years can mean only one thing. Some new celluloid Flesh from David Cronenberg. This short, entitled The Nest and featuring the auteur himself as a deranged surgeon, was created as a tie-in to his new novel Consumed, and it's classic body horror era Cronenberg. 

All the elements are present: corrupted science, sexual parasites, coldly detached eroticism, insects and disease. A cool little throwback to the director's horror roots as we await the release of his next feature, Maps to the Stars.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Strange Shapes

There's been a link on my blogroll for a few years now called Strange Shapes, and it just so happens to be the most exceptional Alien blog on the web. If you're an Alien fan and you haven't discovered it yet you need to do yourself a favour and go there now.

Strange Shapes is owned and written by one Valaquen, a Scottish Alien fanatic and Xenomorph scholar par excellence. This guy's knowledge of the Alien universe, both in front of and behind the camera, is vast and frankly, a little intimidating. I've been in love with Ridley Scott's movie for 35 years now, but reading Strange Shapes can make me feel like a lightweight.

So whilst scrolling through Bloody Disgusting today I was blown away to find a link to a behind the scenes gallery "curated" by Valaquen. And fuck me, what a gallery it is. I'm always on the lookout for rare Alien pics that I haven't seen before, and this gallery is a goldmine.

Of the 245 images he's posted there must be at least 50 that I've either never seen before or haven't seen for years. Some of the coolest are below, but you should really check out the whole gallery here.

killer promo shot of the Nostromo crew

a nice look at Giger's handywork

HRG with his designs for Jodorowsky's unrealised Dune 

 on the Space Jockey set

 working on the Jockey

with Dan O'Bannon

O'Bannon with Chris Foss

and on the Nostromo's bridge

 closeup of the unused full sized prop for Kane's burial shroud

 John Hurt

Veronica Cartwright

 together on the bridge

 Harry Dean Stanton looking cool

and Yaphet Kotto looking even cooler

Kotto contemplating Parker's fate

Parker and Lambert dead

this appears to be an effects test for Parker's gory demise

Sigourney Weaver looking badass and beautiful during a promo shoot

and posing with a Jones that looks suspiciously unlike the Jones seen in the movie

Weaver and Stanton

 the Narcissus on a workbench with raided model kits in the background

 an amazing look at the underside of the Nostromo coming in to land on LV-426 that was rejected by Ridley Scott. I wish they'd stuck with this one because the final effect seen in the movie is by far the weakest in the film

the Nostromo model on the planetoid set

another angle

and finally, a good look at the detail and texture of the derelict model