Horror Brought To Life: Static (2012) at The Cut!

The Horror Hothouse

July’s presentation at the Cut! was Static, it’s due to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD in the UK on 15 July and is a great little chiller that serves up some unexpected twists

Author Jonathan Dade (Milo Ventimiglia) and his wife Addie (Sarah Shahi) have the full rural Californian idyll complete with big house and pool, but both of them are grieving over the loss of their son, Thomas. Jonathan copes by throwing himself into his work, while Addie takes to the bottle. Then the night Jonathan finishes his latest book Rachel (Sara Paxton) comes banging on the door and begging to be let in. She claims her car has broken down and that she’s being chased by a gas mask wearing gang. Is she genuine or is she barking?

This is where I thought ‘hang on a minute I thought this was going to be one of…

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Horror Brought to Life: Horrors of The Black Museum (1959) at The CUT!

My exploration of the Horrors of the Black Museum is now posted at Horror Hothouse, Be careful what you open Mwahahahaha

The Horror Hothouse

Each month, as regular as a werewolf howling at a full moon, I emerge from the subterranean bowels of London’s Russell Square tube station to join London horror fans gathering in Bloomsbury’s Herbrand Street. At the opposite end to the sparkling white Art Deco splendour of the Daimler Hire Company building, on the corner of a narrow mews known as the Colonnade stands our destination the Horse Hospital.Excited chatter breaks the silence as we wait in eager anticipation for the door to open and be beckoned us down into the depths of the only unspoilt example of a purpose built 18th century stable accessible to the public. Now part of a multi-discipline arts centre, our basement cinema retains the channels etched into its floor to carry away the blood from the veterinary surgeon’s knife.

Since August 2010 this has been the venue of CUT!. As our host, Mr Billy…

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Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell

I went to a screening of the restored print of Hammer’s Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell at the British Film Institute  last night. This was the first Hammer Horror that I ever saw on the big screen when I snuck into the Odeon Wood Green at the tender age of 14 back in 1975. It was also the last Hammer Frankenstein and marked the final time that Peter Cushing would wield a scalpel and bone saw as the Baron. It was also the final film of director Terence Fisher, the director who had done more to define Hammer horror than any other having helmed all three of Hammer’s monster reboots in the 1950s with The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy.

The film was introduced by a panel featuring Cushing’s former secretary , Dave Prowse who played the Monster (and of course was also Darth Vader and the Green Cross Man) and female lead Madeline Smith, who all spoke about what a nice man Peter Cushing was. This was especially relevant as Cushing was born 100 years ago this month on 26 May and has recently been featured on a stamp to mark the occasion.

Hammer made the film on the cheap, by confining all the action within the confines of a lunatic asylum, where the Baron had assumed the role of the asylum doctor. Well it wasn’t long before he was knocking up a creature out bits of dead inmates with the aid of his disciple Dr Helder (Shane Bryant) and the mute Sarah (Madeline Smith). I won’t spoil this for anyone by giving away the plot, but the lunatic asylum set makes this the most intensely claustrophobic Frankenstein movie that Hammer ever made. Still reeling from the recent death of his beloved wife Helen, Cushing gave the film one of the most intense performances of his career and this combined with the atmospheric music score by James Bernard and a John Elder script that wasn’t afraid to throw in the odd self mocking gag, make this film a pure British Gothic delight.

Once the panel had finished the introduction they joined us in the audience. Imagine the thrill when I realised that Dave Prowse was going to take the empty seat next to mine. As the film ended I thanked him and shook his hand. I have been truly touched by the Dark Side Young Jedi

Is This the End of the Konga Line?

Sorry but it was too good a gag not to use when I rolled up at London’s Russell Square Horse Hospital arts centre for the Cut‘s screening of the 1961 British giant gorilla movie Konga.

Producer Herman Cohen had by 1961 already established a reputation for cheapy horror movies like I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Horrors of the Black Museum. It won’t coma as any surprise that Konga concerns a giant ape, however thanks to what must have been a tiny budget similarities to King Kong are surprisingly few until the final reel where Konga goes apeshit and tramples through some model houses.

Michael Gough (the economy Peter Cushing) plays Dr Decker who discovers the secret of how to stimulate growth in animals with extracts of tropical carnivorous plants and experiments on Konga the baby chimp he has brought back from Uganda. Of course all this experimenting gets in the way of his teaching at Essex University, but Decker soon sorts that out by getting the by now gorilla sized Konga to murder anyone who gets in the way. Naturally it all goes horribly wrong when Margaret (Margo Johns), Deckers’ mistress catches him trying it on with student Sandra (Claire Gordon) and she gives Konga a walloping great dose of the growth serum with predictable consequences.

Somehow, despite having grown up in the 1960s and being mad for this kind of film I had never seen it before and it is a delightful mix of rubbish special effects (Konga is a bloke in a gorilla suit that isn’t even the same colour as the chimp who plays baby Konga, although it does allow for some spectacular eye rolling) and some of the campest dialogue I have ever heard, with which the cast battle valiantly. I think my favourite line was uttered by the Scotland Yard Inspector as Konga goes on the rampage.

“There’s a huge monster gorilla that’s constantly growing to outlandish proportions loose on the streets”

Thank heaven we had lots of National Service men ready to jump into the backs of trucks and take the menace of Konga down and let’s face it with all the aliens and other monsters that turned up post-war British cinema we’d have been sunk without a huge conscript army!

The Cut is a film club dedicated to previewing DVD releases of the weird. Curator Billy Chainsaw had arranged for 1960s teen idol Jess Conrad who played student Bob (Konga’s third murder victim and probably the only member of the cast still living) to introduce the movie. He did such a nice line in self deprecatory humour that he’s almost forgiven for This Pullover.

Konga is released on DVD on 13 May