Saturday, 26 May 2018

Chaos Reigns (again)




This year Lars von Trier returns to the horror well for the first time since 2009's celebrated and in equal measure reviled ANTICHRIST. One review for THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT out of its premier at Cannes, from a source that I trust (was it ScreenAnarchy? sorry I can't remember), hints at a more reserved film than ANTICHRIST, but that certainly doesn't jibe with all the other well publisised reactions (“disgusting,” “torturous,” “repulsive”) and reports of a mass walkout of more than 100 attendees. Is it really that nasty, or do people at Cannes just love to hate von Trier?





Whatever, today I just want to point out this cool poster for the film that dropped last week. Recreating Eugène Delacroix's famous painting "The Barque of Dante" as a dramatic freeze featuring the film's cast feels like such a calculatedly cynical move on von Trier's part. Having already gone on record as saying that the film's main theme is "the idea that life is evil and soulless", it's obvious that one of his main motives for making JACK is to provoke maximum disgust and hate. A work of pure nihilistic cinematic bile.

So what better way to make the film press loath him even more than they already do than by releasing a poster that blatantly compares his film to great art? Ah, Lars, gotta love him!


Sunday, 20 May 2018

DENIM & LEATHER - Sacred Autism




The punk scene at large isn't wanting for intelligent, forward thinking people. So why, from a social standpoint, is it so frequently guilty of the kind of elitism and exclusionism that it purportedly rails against? And how, from an artistic standpoint, has a once electrically creative movement become so fucking trite? Yes, I'm looking at you pal, your face-melting d-beat, PV or '80s USHC clone is fucking trite.

I get that playing and listening to the rock'n'roll that you like is comfortable. It's nice to be comfortable isn't it? But this is punk, so why not bust out of your little bubble and try something, ya know, different?

I'm not saying that Manchester's DENIM & LEATHER have reinvented the genre. When all's said and done, they're just playing hardcore too. What I am saying is that they're one of an increasingly small group of bands who are doing it without slotting neatly into a rigid category (or a mishmash of said categories). These misfits-among-misfits write unpredictable songs and make mutant sounds that feel personal, stand out from the pack, and above all, are seething with their own identity. Oh, and they shred. They shred really fucking hard.




Sunday, 13 May 2018

SORCERER




Finally got around to watching William Friedkin's forgotten jungle-adventure SORCERER last night, and holy shit, what a film! THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE EXORCIST got all the accolades, but this is the maverick auteur's true masterpiece.

Shot in five countries over the course of two grueling years, SORCERER is a heart-of-darkness film every bit as amazing as APOCALYPSE NOW or Herzog's AGUIRRE. Like those films, SORCERER's shoot was unimaginably arduous and difficult, pushing its director, cast and crew (not to mention its budget) to breaking point and beyond. The film's big show-stopper of a set piece - in which a pair of vintage trucks cross a perilously rotten wooden suspension bridge in monsoon like conditions - was shot in two countries, over the course of three months, costing a whopping 3 million bucks (crazy money at the time).

After all was said and done, SORCERER had the terrible misfortune to be released in 1977, a month after STAR WARS. In the wake of George Lucas' sci-fi juggernaut it was completely ignored at the box office, a disastrous flop. For a movie-going public freshly infatuated with light sabers and space battles, Friedkin's jungle opus was just too old-fashioned. Thank goodness that a recent restoration and critical reappraisal has finally given this incredible film the exposure and appreciation that it so rightfully deserves. Highly recommended viewing.






















































Saturday, 12 May 2018

SFF 2018




As has become a tradition around these parts, here are the seven films that will be entering my eyeballs and ear holes at this year's Sydney Film Fest! Not a bad selection at this year's fest. Most excited for UPGRADE and GHOST STORIES.
























Saturday, 28 April 2018

The Night HE Came Home.




Long rumoured, confirmed yesterday: John Carpenter is returning to score this year's HALLOWEEN, directed by David Gordon Green. A HALLOWEEN film, from the director of the magnificent JOE, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, and scored by the master himself? Time to get hyped people. Footage screened for press and industry types this week was allegedly impressive.

The questions on my mind: what form will Carpenter's new score take? Will it be nearly identical to the original, or will he expand and/or alter it significantly? Will he write something entirely new? Will it have a harder, more rock edge, like his recent reworking of the ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK theme?

We'll see in October. Or perhaps sooner in a trailer?


Sunday, 11 March 2018

RIXE




This newish three song promo tape is Rixe's best stuff yet. Addictive, infectiously hooky Oi! from this crew of left-wing Parisian skins. I'm gutted that I missed getting a ticket to their Melbourne show with Total Control (sold out in minutes), but I'll definitely be venturing out on a Wednesday night to see them here in early May.




Sunday, 18 February 2018

TENEBRAPHOBIA




Finally unleashed today, this five song EP is a project that Bowie (my incredibly multi-talented partner / love of my life) and I have been working on for many months. At times, its creation has been a process as frustrating as it's been fun, but we're both really stoked with the end result.

TENEBRAPHOBIA is a tribute to the throbbing synth scores that are the defining signature of so many '70s and '80s Italian and North American horror films. Scores by the likes of Goblin, John Carpenter and Fabio Frizzi.

Bowie's take on the genre is gnarly. Horror synth as filtered through a punk attitude. These tunes rock.

All tracks/recording/mixing by Ms. Raffan. Concept/titles, logo/design, and grumpy muse: your's truly.

Enjoy, share, but whatever you do, turn it the fuck UP!








Wednesday, 14 February 2018

FEB 14


Maybe I'll just post this every Valentine's Day, because why the fuck not?







Sunday, 4 February 2018

Decade of Decay: MARTYRS / INSIDE




Has it really been 10 and 11 years respectively since MARTYRS and INSIDE turned the world of horror cinema, kicking and screaming, on its head? And 9 years since I was gushing and ranting about both films on this blog? Unbelievably, the answer to both questions is yes.

In that time we've seen the watered-down, sanitised US remakes come and go (into much deserved obscurity), as the careers of Pascal Laugier and Maury/Bustillo have sadly failed to live up to the promise of their early masterpieces (but I'm still rooting for Laugier's new one, GHOSTLAND).

Regardless of those negative observations, the impact of these two modern classics hasn't diminished a bit. In the decade since they were unleashed on the world, have we even seen another truly comparable film? Their blend of feminism and arthouse sensibilities, colliding head on with pitch black, extreme gore was, and still is, pretty unique.

To celebrate the occasion, here's a pulpy Spanish one-sheet for INSIDE that I don't think I've ever seen (above), and some nice MARTYRS tributes from Gary Pullin (top), Nathan Thomas Milliner (middle) and Trevor Henderson (bottom).












Sunday, 28 January 2018

THE ENDLESS poster




This week saw the reveal of this fittingly beautiful and trippy poster for THE ENDLESS, Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson's impressive followup to their cult hits RESOLUTION and SPRING. All three films (which can loosely be referred to as the Shitty Carl trilogy) are essential viewing for fans of Lovecraft, the arcane and the eldritch. THE ENDLESS will hopefully hit local cinemas later this year.

Feel free to help yourself to my slightly unhinged reviews for SPRING and THE ENDLESS. But, you know, do what thou wilt.


Friday, 26 January 2018

Morricone Youth: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD




Last night I pushed through a haze of post-work fatigue to attend a screening of Romero's NOTLD (first time on the big screen for me!), with live accompaniment by New York's Morricone Youth. The band are here in Sydney to perform their re-score of the Pittsburgh lensed zombie classic, as well as Miller's MAD MAX. Having done zero research on the band beforehand, I went into the screening unsure of what to expect. Rock? Synth? Chamber orchestra? Taking my seat, third row from front, it became immediately obvious from the setup (bass, guitar, drums, two keyboard/synth rigs, vocals) that my secret hopes were to be rewarded: I was in for some proggy goodness, ala Goblin.

Morricone Youth delivered on that promise in spades, at points almost outplaying the Italian masters at their own game. What they've essentially done here is to give NIGHT a sister score to Goblin's iconic cues for DAWN OF THE DEAD. Mounting waves of pounding rock, throbbing synth and spooky glockenspiel, elevated to euphoric levels by some fantastic, operatic vocals (performed by a woman who I can't find a mention of anywhere, what gives?). Some research this morning reveals that they recently toured with Goblin in the States, and have previously re-scored a number of other cult films.

It's a shame that last night's haunting, powerful vocals are barely represented on the vinyl release of NOTLD, because their impact, live in front of the film, was immeasurable. The word transcendent comes to mind, making this my favourite viewing of Romero's seminal classic to date. The experience gave me a new and deeper appreciation of the film: the radicalism of its civil rights theme, its gorgeously lit black and white cinematography and wonderful editing, both courtesy of a young and hungry Romero. It throws into sharp focus just how talented and utterly electric the young Pittsburgh artist was. This film was dangerous, and exactly half a century later is still vitally important.

If you get a chance to see this show (especially with vocal accompaniment), don't sleep on it!




Saturday, 30 December 2017

The Crawler in the Tower




Spoilers follow for both Jeff VanderMeer's novel, ANNIHILATION, and its soon-to-be-released film adaptation, directed by Alex Garland.

The above screenshot, taken from the recently released second trailer for ANNIHILATION, appears to be a very spoilery look at The Biologist's climactic confrontation with the tower crawler. A couple of other, less explicit, images from this scene are scattered throughout the trailer. That Paramount/Skydance are so willing to spoil the film's ending, just so they can shoehorn some of its most powerful imagery into the trailer, speaks volumes about their lack of confidence in what Garland has delivered. Indeed, they're so utterly freaked out about ANNIHILATION's lack of commercial appeal (based on an allegedly disastrous test screening a couple of months back), they completely choked, cancelling its worldwide theatrical release, and dumping it onto Netflix instead. Unless you live in the United States, you'll more than likely be watching this film on your TV or laptop at home.

This is classic studio suit behaviour of course, but in the end it's probably the most positive outcome for the film, and for fans of intelligent, weird sci-fi horror. I'd rather watch Garland's film, as it was intended to be seen, on a small screen at home, than a butchered test-screening travesty in a theatre. 

What we're seeing here is the marketing machine struggling to assemble trailers with mainstream appeal, but I think in February we're going to get something much more akin to UNDER THE SKIN. A moody, visually stunning arthouse sci-fi, which leaves the viewer with a number of unanswered questions.

I couldn't be happier.


Tuesday, 26 December 2017

AUTOPSY: 2017




This has been a crowded year for cinema in general, but an unusually prolific one for good cinema. It would appear that the creative spark, the desire for escape, and the need to find meaning in this world through our art, are qualities that really do flourish in more trying times. Film-wise, 2017 was so densely packed that despite making an effort to see more movies than ever, I still feel like I've only scratched the surface.

Here then, my friends, is my Top 10 for the year, ranked. Following that you'll find a dirty dozen of Honourable Mentions (unranked), each one excellent enough in its own right to be included on any number of other Top 10 lists. As ever, I'll see you on the other side!



THE BEST

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10. 


THE REST