Sunday 12 January 2020


I worship at the altar of the Gordon/Yuzna Lovecraft cycle, but back in November I saw the Lovecraft film I’ve been waiting for my whole life (and literally since 2015 when it was first announced!). Richard Stanley’s COLOR OUT OF SPACE is the first direct adaptation of HPL’s work to truly capture the scale, terror and awe of his cosmic horror.

I've had an odd history with Richard Stanley. When I saw HARDWARE, during it's initial theatrical run back in '91, I had a viscerally negative reaction to it. I clearly wasn't ready for Stanley's brand of gonzo genre cinema. Jump forward almost three decades and I guess I'm at just the right place to appreciate his aesthetic now, because last year I rediscovered, reappraised and completely fell for his style. In the case of HARDWARE it wasn't until my third viewing (the excellent remastered blu-ray from Ronin) that I finally "got it". After that I sprung for the beautiful German boxset of DUST DEVIL (Koch Media) and was completely blown away by that too. A viewing of Severin's LOST SOUL: THE DOOMED JOURNEY OF RICHARD STANLEY'S THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU sealed the deal. I had discovered a visionary auteur... three decades too late!

Or was it? Because the whole reason I dove into his filmography last year was in anticipation of his adaptation of COLOR OUT OF SPACE, a film that marks his comeback after a couple of decades in seclusion and semi-retirement (if you don't count his documentary work). As a Lovecraft fan, I had to see what all the fuss was about with this eccentric artist who was bringing one of the master's finest stories to life on the big screen.

COLOR has certainly polarised fans of Lovecraft's writing, but this particular one falls very solidly in the "love it" camp. I'm not going to get into a detailed review here. Suffice it to say that this film is beautiful, terrifying, nightmarish, unhinged and fucking gnarly.

And it might just be a stealthy, brilliant parable about humanity's utter disregard for (and abuse of) our planet, and the mortal peril that has placed us in.

Take my word for it, this film is probably far more satisfying than del Toro's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS would have been, and on a tiny fraction of that failed behemoth's proposed budget. SpectreVision and Stanley have recently made public a plan to expand this project to a trilogy of Lovecraft adaptations, the next of which could very well be THE DUNWICH HORROR. This will only likely happen if people get out and support COLOR.

It's out next month, so please go see it. With a group of friends. Twice. The alpacas will thank you.

Monday 6 January 2020


It’s impossible to watch Fatih Akin’s THE GOLDEN GLOVE without comparing it to HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER. It’s a true crime biopic that forces you to watch, in unflinching detail, the life of a serial murderer. Both films immerse you in their respective subject’s worlds so intimately, that the grime and filth of their existence and surroundings seems to ooze off the screen and seep into you.

Here’s the thing though. For all of HENRY’s infamy, THE GOLDEN GLOVE actually outdoes it. Akin’s film has higher production values (but not so high as to detract from the sleazy atmosphere), is more realistic, hews closer to the facts, and is just plain nastier.

It’s a very well made film, the kind that will have as much appeal for the arthouse crowd (those who have the stomach for it anyway) as for horror fans. It comes highly recommended, but make no mistake, it is an endurance test.

Wednesday 1 January 2020


Holy shit, this blog is a decade old today. Go watch some movies!

Monday 30 December 2019


Here it is, my final best-of list for the decade. The top ten for the year, and eight excellent runners-up.

10. The Golden Glove
9. Lords of Chaos
8. Doctor Sleep
7. Ad Astra
6. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
5. Midsommar
4. The Lighthouse
3. Color out of Space
2. In Fabric
1. The Nightingale

Come to Daddy
High Life
The Irishman
The Perfection
Terminator: Dark Fate
Velvet Buzzsaw


Godzilla: King of the Monsters


Wednesday 18 December 2019


This four decades late sequel to one of the most iconic and beloved horror films of all time had no right to be as good as it turned out. I loved it.

It is to Kubrick's THE SHINING what PROMETHEUS was to ALIEN. Both films are followups to revered classics whose enduring power lies in their mystery, and the questions they left deliberately unanswered. Both films attempt to build upon the mythology of their respective originals by answering those questions explicitly, thereby stripping away much of the mystery.

It's a very risky thing to attempt, but the trick is in the writing. Where Scott and Co. failed (because PROMETHEUS' story is so trite and its characters so poorly conceived), King and Flanagan have triumphed, with an expanded mythology that adds depth and meaning to its source material, with strong characters (both old and new), real emotional beats and absolutely stunning visuals.

Perhaps the film works so well because its strongest moments aren't actually the money shots at the Overlook, but the two hours of story leading up to them. Oddly enough, DOCTOR SLEEP worked best for me as a tale of all out psychic warfare between rival factions, in the same vein as SCANNERS and THE FURY. And yes, as everyone has said, Rebecca Ferguson was on fire for every second of her screentime.

Mike Flanagan made so many bold decisions here that really pay off. The decision to recast, instead of digitally resurrecting Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duval and the rest, was an inspired one. No uncanny valley awkwardness here. STARRY EYES' Alexandra Essoe in particular just kills it as Wendy Torrence. Flanagan and cinematographer Michael Fimognari also very wisely went for a visual style that recalls Kubrick's, without aping it. It works.

After OCULUS, GERALD'S GAME and THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, Mike Flanagan has most assuredly secured a place for himself among the contemporary horror filmmakers to watch. I'm excited to see where he goes next.

Sunday 15 December 2019

AUTOPSY: 2010-2019

After much hand-wringing, here's my top 20 horror films of the decade, followed by a further 10 runners up. In my opinion, the last ten years have been the most creative and vital for the genre since the '80s!

First, a quick comment on the state of the genre. Beyond pure entertainment value, one of horror's functions is to provide a relief valve for society, a way for people to let off steam. Whether explicitly or through allegory, the genre allows people to view the most pressing issues of a given era through a fresh lens. It's a cultural coping mechanism, a way for people to come to grips with the harsh realities of the world, and to sometimes even laugh at them.

With that in mind it's not surprising that contemporary horror has a lot on its mind. Some of the concerns addressed by this past decade's films were: environmental destruction; racism; misogyny; familial disintegration; sexually transmitted disease; cults; religious trauma; the economic divide; pandemic; authoritarianism; genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. Holy motherfucking apocalypse!

Finally, a personal observation. My tastes have changed: there isn't a single zombie movie on this list. However, including the runners up, there are ten(!) films about the occult and/or cults!

Anyway, without further ado, here's my picks (please feel free to chime in with any disagreements or egregious omissions!)





A Serbian Film
Color Out of Space
Crimson Peak
I Saw the Devil
The Invitation
Starry Eyes
The Witch

Friday 13 December 2019


Another year, another TERMINATOR sequel. Wait, what? This one's actually kind of good!? 

It ain't perfect, but there's a lot to like about DARK FATE. Sure, it relies a bit too heavily on nostalgia and hitting those familiar beats, but it does so in a satisfying way, and with plenty of blood and thunder. Showstopping set pieces, moments of genuine emotion, an ass-kicking female ensemble, and a timely commentary on the current sociopolitical climate in the US (and here, and everywhere).

Arnie's performance is great: tough, funny and melancholic. His acting chops have definitely improved with age. After BLADE RUNNER 2049, BLACK MIRROR and this, Mackenzie Davis has kind of fallen into the role of 21st Century cyberpunk icon. She's rad.