The Zygons are back, terrible whispering and shape-shifting “Doctor Who” monsters who make Whovians new and old hide behind their sofas, and this time, they’re playing for keeps. What can The Doctor and Clara, and the returning Osgood (!) do to stop them from destroying the human race this time? Meet me after the time and space jump for my thoughts on “The Zygon Invasion!”
The 31 Days of Horror Edition of The Ten Percent – Circling the Pit: Ten Themes (and 31 films) for Thinking About Horror
It’s October, and here at Biff Bam Pop! that means 31 Days of Horror, a month-long celebration of all forms of the macabre in pop culture. “The Ten Percent” wanted to kick things off with an exploration of just why horror matters, along with recommendations for you when you need a good scare. I was especially pleased to step aside (I hope gracefully) to allow someone with far greater expertise to take your hand for a trip down this shadowy lane.
To my knowledge, Kristopher Woofter is not, in fact, a creature of the night, although you can be forgiven for making that assumption. As a bona-fide horror scholar, Kris has spent more time thinking about horror than I’ve spent thinking about chocolate. I approached him, hoping honestly to maybe get a quote and maybe a list of indispensable favorites. Instead, Kris very generously wrote the eloquent column that follows. If you have any interest in “ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night,” Kris is someone you’d like to know. I especially encourage you to check out Montreal’s Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies, where Kris serves as co-coordinator. Over to you, Kris . . .
BALLISTIC, 2013’s gonzo dysmorphic sci-fi headtrip by Adam Egypt Mortimer and Darick Robertson, has been republished in a handy-dandy easy-to-carry collected edition by Black Mask Studios. If you missed it the first time around, now’s your chance to pick it up. And you should. You really, REALLY should.
Body-Horror: (aka biological horror, organic horror or venereal horror) is horror fiction in which the horror is principally derived from the graphic destruction or degeneration of the body. Such works may deal with disease, decay, parasitism, mutilation, or mutation.
Body Horror’s tricky. There are a lot of films that get lumped into that classification, for a lot of different reasons, so navigating the waters of this particular stream can be challenging. While the 80s were a fertile breeding ground for all forms of bodily mutation and transformation, it was unarguably one director who was responsible for the subgenre’s strongest work: David Cronenberg, hometown boy and godfather of modern-day bio-organic terror.
Human biology and sexuality, and their innate need to rebel against us, have been focal themes of his work since his film school days. In the 1970s, his trifecta of films – RABID, SHIVERS and THE BROOD – all dealt with various forms of malignant physical and sexual mutation, brought on by our own medical meddling. But it was his 1982 mind-f**k masterpiece, VIDEODROME, that threw the net even wider and brought technology to the forefront, making it this outing’s catalyst of catastrophic change.
In March of 1990, I had just recently turned 13 years old. I was on a family trip to Houston to visit some friends of my father, but for me, the most important thing to accomplish this trip, aside from studying for my imminent Bar Mitzvah, was finding a movie theatre that was showing Clive Barker’s Nightbreed. The film had been rated R in Canada, which meant nobody under 18 was allowed to see it (screw you, Big Brother!). On one of our final nights, Dad (ill at the time), his friend and me schlepped to some out of the way movie theatre, where the film was still playing. Walt, my Dad’s friend, hates horror movies, so he opted to see Look Who’s Talking, while we went and sat through Clive’s monster movie equivalent of Star Wars. Having read both the original novel, Cabal, and the Epic Comics adaptation, I was psyched to see the creatures of Midian come to life. And when they did, I thoroughly enjoyed. Admittedly, I was also thrilled to be seeing a film some watchdogs seemed to think I wasn’t ready for (up yours, Big Brother!). However, my enjoyment was slightly curtailed as the film’s conclusion, when I asked Dad if he liked it.
“No,” he scoffed. “It wasn’t even scary.”
Not scary! Not scary! What do you mean, not scary. It was…it was….
Look, Dad had a point, ok. Even if I loved it.
This episode’s title might have interesting meaning after last week’s unceremonious death of Joe Manganiello’s Alcide, and then again it might not. The showrunners on HBO’s “True Blood” have promised at least one character death in each episode of its final season, and so far they’ve kept that promise, even if Alcide was shamefully and almost criminally underused before being escorted off to oblivion last week. What happens next? Check out my review of “Death Is Not The End,” after the jump.
Last week I wrote about TIFF’s wide-ranging retrospective From Within: The Films of David Cronenberg. It’s a superb series showcasing all of his films, with several special screenings featuring talks by either Cronenberg himself or various of his collaborators. TIFF’s outdone themselves this time around, going beyond the film programme to mount a Cronenberg Expo featuring props, costumes, artwork and more, called David Cronenberg: Evolution.
The exhibition traces from the beginnings of Cronenberg’s career up to his most recent films. As Noah Cowan, TIFF’s Artistic Director, observes, “David Cronenberg has made an immeasurable contribution to Canadian and global cinema. TIFF has been fortunate enough to have worked with him throughout his career to amass a significant collection of artifacts and documents that have made this celebration possible.” And boy have they. Props and makeup appliances from Cronenberg’s earliest films are on display, including the Hobbes parasites created by Joe Blasco for Shivers and the vagina-like slit from James Woods’ torso created by effects legend Rick Baker for Videodrome. Made from latex, the older pieces are fragile and some are a little shrivelled, but they’re remarkably well preserved. I was surprised how many weird bits under glass still packed a visceral punch. You can feel the creepiness vibrating from each unsettling protuberance. The discarded pieces of Seth Brundle’s body from The Fly, created by Chris Wallas, are still cringe-worthy, as are the Mantle retractor and other custom gynecological tools sculpted by Cheryl Camack Grundy for Dead Ringers. Even inert, Cronenberg knows how to mess your sex up.
He’s been called the King of Venereal Horror, the Baron of Blood, a chilly, analytical formalist with a fascination for the grotesque. He’s synonymous with the genre of body horror, its foremost practitioner, whose films Rabid, Scanners, and The Brood helped define it. He’s made every woman squirm mutely with the deranged disintegration of Jeremy Irons’ twin gynecologists in Dead Ringers, and he ripped your heart out when Jeff Goldblum’s Brundlefly begged for death at the end of The Fly. But one thing a lot of people don’t appreciate is his dark sense of humour. Underneath the blood and the ooze and the weird sexuality and the techno-fetishism, David Cronenberg is a funny guy.
I was (and still am) a huge Clive Barker fan. I devoured his “Books of Blood” as they came out. I saw Hellraiser on opening night. And so of course I also saw Nightbreed the night it was released. I remember it was pretty good. I remember it had a guy in it that looked like Mac Tonight. And I remember that it scared me, really scared me – scared me enough that I’ve never watched it again. Here I go again, I give the film another shot, after the jump.
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