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Book Update: FrightFest Review

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The latest review of my Devil’s Advocates book on The Company of Wolves comes courtesy of the lovely folks over at FrightFest, and it’s another really positive one. According to critic Steven West, book is a ‘multi-faceted, intelligent and highly accessible study’.

I’ve copied the full review below, and you can also check it out (along with a wealth of other film related reviews, news and features) over at FrightFest

Review

The early 80’s saw a mini-boom of werewolf movies reflecting the revolutionary advances in transformative make-up effects, which ensured that David Naughton did not have to disappear behind a conveniently placed desk while morphing into AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON. The John Landis movie and Joe Dante’s THE HOWLING brought a substantial degree of self-awareness and knockabout character-based humour to the sub-genre and have endured as modern horror classics. Other wolfman movies from the same period have enjoyed less latter-day attention, including Michael Wadlei…

Book Update: Warped Perspective Review

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The latest review of my Devil’s Advocates book on The Company of Wolves comes courtesy of the lovely folks over at Warped Perspective (formerly Brutal as Hell). And I’m absolutely delighted that it’s another good one! According to critic Keri O’Shea, book is ‘lucid, detailed and meticulous, with exhaustive knowledge of the film, its inception and its interpretation [...] effectively crosses the divide between academia and fandom.’

I’ve copied the full review below, and you can also check it out (along with a wealth of other film related reviews, news and features) over at Warped Perspective.

The Company of Wolves (1984) really is a force of nature – a vivid array of stories-within-stories which capture the insurrectionist tendencies of Angela Carter’s book, The Bloody Chamber, a collection of familiar fairy stories reworked into unfamiliar forms. The film brings several of Carter’s tales to the screen, albeit via a new, modern framing device, one which links the humdrum with the imagi…

Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' Turns 200

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Published in January 1818, Mary Shelley’s classic Gothic novel Frankenstein turns 200 years old this month. It tells of Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young scientist whose highly unorthodox experiments create a living, sentient creature assembled from the parts of stolen human cadavers. Horrified by his creation, Victor rejects and abandons the creature, who eventually seeks revenge on his creator. Mary began writing what would become her debut novel when she was 18. Published several years later, Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus became one of the cornerstones of Gothic literature. With its themes concerning the destructive pursuit of knowledge and dangerous ambition, morality regarding scientific/technological advancement, existentialism and societal isolation, Frankenstein continues to wield incredible influence over literature, cinema and indeed other forms of popular culture to this day.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the novel, for me anyway, are the circumsta…

Behind the Couch Turns 9 Years Old!

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While things may have been quite quiet on Behind the Couch for the past year, elsewhere I’ve been keeping myself very busy indeed (and berating myself for all but neglecting this blog).

2017 was my Year of the Wolf - I finally completed my second book (a monograph on the Gothic fantasy film The Company of Wolves) which was published by Auteur, as part of their Devil’s Advocates series, in the spring, and launched at the Gothic Feminism Conference at the University of Kent in late May. In a review of the book, Starburst said: The litmus test of any study like this is how much it makes you want to watch the film(s) it analyses. Gracey’s writing is so insightful, and his enthusiasm for Wolves so infectious, that you will want to do just that. The Company of Wolves is ripe for re-evaluation and Gracey does it ample justice. Few film books can claim to be as definitive.

Aside from working flat out to finish the book on time (and giving myself Central serous retinopathy in the process!), a…

Happy Halloween!

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“Wild, ugly faces we carved in its skin,  Glaring out through the dark with a candle within!” 
- John Greenleaf Whittier 
Happy Halloween everyone!

Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Vol.2

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Published just in time for readers to enjoy through the ever-darkening nights of October, SelfMadeHero’s latest offering is a second volume of graphic adaptations of the tales of MR James: a medievalist scholar and provost of King’s College, Cambridge, who is remembered today as the finest purveyor of ghost stories in the English language.

Adapted by Leah Moore and John Reppion, and featuring the illustrations of Meghan Hetrick, Abigail Larson, Al Davison and George Kambadais, the tales adapted for this volume include some of his best known work.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

Read my review of Ghost Stories of an Antiquary Vol. I here.

Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies #3

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The third issue of Sargasso: The Journal of William Hope Hodgson Studies is now available. Well, it’s actually been available for quite some time, but I only just found out about it. Like previous issues of the journal, this issue includes in-depth essays on Hodgson's life and work, including Utter Quiet in All the Land: A Recurring Motif by Ryan Jefferson, The House on the Borderland: The Ultimate Horror Novel by Liam Garriock, Ye Hogge: Liminality and the Motif of the Monstrous Pig in Hodgson’s The Hog and The House on the Borderland by Leigh Blackmore, and The House on the Burren: The Physical and Psychological Foundations of The House on the Borderland by Joseph Hinton.

There’s also poetry inspired by the author’s work, and several short stories, including my own short story A Hideous Communion. This story was previously published in Carnacki: The Lost Cases, an anthology that took the mysterious cases hinted at by ‘Ghost-Finder’ Thomas Carnacki (a fictional occult detective …

Folklore Thursday Competition

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Today is the last day to enter a competition to win a copy of my Devil's Advocates book on The Company of Wolves. Simply head over to FolkloreThursday.com and subscribe to their lovely (and completely free) newsletter (just underneath my article on the evolution of the tale of Red Riding Hood) for the chance to win a copy (valid August 2017; UK & ROI only).

There are other folksy goodies to be won, including beautiful Wicker Man tea-towels designed by Hare & Tabor, and a copy of Kevan Manwaring's new book Ballad Tales: An Anthology of British Ballads Retold.

RIP Tobe Hooper

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First Wes, then George. Now Tobe.

I thought it might be appropriate to share a few words I wrote about Tobe, who passed away yesterday at the age of 74, for issue 20 of Diabolique back 2014…

Tobe Hooper is a name seared onto the landscape of horror cinema. [F]rom classics like The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (a scathing deconstruction of post Watergate/post Vietnam American culture and politics, and a nightmarish study of the breakdown of the family unit), Poltergeist, Salem’s Lot and the underrated slasher flick The Funhouse, to bargain-basement fodder such as Crocodile, The Mangler and Night Terrors – not to mention his plethora of TV work, including I’m Dangerous Tonight and episodes of Dark Skies – [his is] a fascinating, chaotic and unrestrained body of work, throughout which floats a dark, primordial anxiety. When he is on top form, few can muster a sense of stifling, claustrophobic dread better than Hooper; all sense of logic is dispelled and the viewer is plunged into nightmare …

Book Competition & '50 Shades of Red: Sexuality and Loss of Innocence in Little Red Riding Hood'

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Of all the folk and fairy tales known to us, the tale of Little Red Riding Hood is perhaps one of the most enduring and provocative. In its most basic form it is a tale of good vs. evil, and it is generally regarded as one of the most effective expressions of sexual curiosity and the ultimate loss of innocence.

I recently wrote an article exploring the evolution of the tale and how its meaning changed throughout the years - from its supposed origins as an oral folktale warning girls of the dangers of predators, to Charles Perrault's literary fairy tale adaptation warning young women against exploring their sexual desires.

Head over to Folklore Thursday to read the article, and for the chance to win thyself a copy of my Devil's Advocates book on The Company of Wolves (Neil Jordan's Gothic fantasy film based on Angela Carter's feminist reworking of Red Riding Hood). After you’ve read the article, simply subscribe to Folklore Thursday's lovely (and completely free) …

Book Update

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If you go down to the woods today, be sure to pick up a copy of my new book on Neil Jordan's Gothic fantasy The Company of Wolves. The book is part of Auteur’s Devil’s Advocates series, and is now available to buy. A recent review (courtesy of author and critic Jon Towlson over at Starburst) said it was 'A meticulously researched, beautifully written and fascinating book...'

Book includes chapters on the ‘making of’ the film, the evolution of folk and fairy tales in our culture, an examination of the tale of Red Riding Hood, the figure of the werewolf in folklore, literature and cinema, the powerful feminist message of the film (and the short stories by Angela Carter upon which it is based), and the representation of female monsters and werewolves in literature and cinema.

Stay tuned for news of how you can enter a competition to win a copy of the book (courtesy of the lovely people over at FolkloreThursday.com) later this week.

I have been receiving nice messages, photos…

Nope, Nothing Wrong Here

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Stephen King’s tenth novel, Cujo (1981), tells of a young woman and her infant son who are trapped in their car at an isolated farmhouse when confronted by a rabid dog. It was adapted for film by Lewis Teague in 1983 and the adaptation features all the sweltering claustrophobia and intensity that made King's novel so gripping.

Teague’s adaptation - which, like King's novel, also explores themes such as addiction, free will, childhood fears, adultery and familial dysfunction - is the subject of a new book by Melbourne based author and film historian, Lee Gambin. Nope, Nothing Wrong Here: The Making of Cujo (BearManor Media) is a staggeringly detailed work featuring academic scene-by-scene analyses alongside in-depth interviews with key members of the cast and crew, including stars Dee Wallace, Daniel Hugh Kelly and Danny Pintauro, director Lewis Teague, and composer Charles Bernstein.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting to Gambin about his new book and the unyielding appea…

Diabolique Magazine Issue No. 27 Pre-Order

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Diabolique is a lavishly illustrated print and digital magazine exploring every aspect of horror film, literature and art. It brings fresh perspective to subjects old and new, foreign and domestic – from ancient folklore and Gothic classics to contemporary film releases and modern literary gems. Each issue brims with insightful commentary, analysis and engrossing information complemented by photos, illustrations and handsome, full-color design.

Issue 27 (July/August), now available to pre-order, is entirely dedicated to witchcraft, magick and folk and fairy tales. Within its pages you’ll find in-depth explorations of the occult inspired works of Norman J Warren, ‘occult gialli’, the late George A Romero’s Season of the Witch, The Craft and the history of the witch trials seen in Ken Russell’s The Devils. There are also essays dedicated to the urban myths and lore of Candyman and the cinematic counterparts of Eastern European folk and fairy tales such as Little Otik and Viy.

Elsewhere,…

RIP George A. Romero

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Film director George A. Romero has died at the age of 77. He died in his sleep last night (Sunday 16th July) after a brief but aggressive battle with lung cancer. His agent, Chris Roe, said Romero’s wife and daughter were with him and that he passed away listening to the score of The Quiet Man, one of his favourite films.

As the director of Night of the Living Dead (1968), Romero will be remembered as one of the major pioneers of the modern horror film. A truly groundbreaking work, it took horror out of the realms of the supernatural, away from a far flung Gothic locale and posited it directly on our doorsteps. Released just eight years after Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) it similarly suggested that horror can exit right next door to us. Indeed, that it is us. Commenting on his vision of zombies as a metaphor for society, Romero commented ‘All I did was I took them out of ‘exotica’ and I made them the neighbors. I thought there’s nothing scarier than the neighbors!’

Prior to Romero’s fil…

Exquisite Terror 5 Pre-Order

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Born from a love of horror, ponderous thoughts and meandering topics, Exquisite Terror is a periodical that takes a more academic approach to the genre, featuring exclusive art, script analysis and in-depth essays. Like all good things that come to those who wait, issue 5 – after the shedding of much blood, sweat and tears - is now available to pre-order. And it’s really been worth the wait…

Now featuring even more content than before, inside this issue you'll find in-depth essays and analyses on the likes of The Shining, The Omen, Silence of the Lambs and the werewolf (as a representation of 'coming out') in horror cinema, plus interviews with Uncle Bob Martin and Ramsey Campbell. Elsewhere, author and critic Jon Towlson delves into the world of film director Michael Reeves, while I explore the relationship between eroticism and death in the films of Dario Argento*. Every essay and article is accompanied by original and beautiful artwork (including some gorgeous illustra…

Book Update: Starburst Review

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The first review of my Devil’s Advocates monograph on The Company of Wolves is in, courtesy of Starburst. And it’s a good one! According to author and critic Jon Towlson, it is ‘a meticulously researched, beautifully written and fascinating book.’ I’ve copied the full review below, and you can also check it out (along with a wealth of other film related reviews, news and features) over at Starburst, the world’s longest running magazine of cult entertainment.

At the time of its release in 1984, Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves received mixed reviews: it’s not a children’s film, critics complained, but it’s about fairytales; werewolves feature heavily but it’s not a horror film. Indeed, it’s a strange beast, as pointed out in this excellent new study by James Gracey (author of Kamera Books’ Dario Argento). ‘Part fairy tale, part werewolf film, part horror film, part feminist coming of age allegory’, Gracey approaches his monograph from all these angles; and from a beguiling, if flawe…

Demon Hunter

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The feature directorial debut from Irish filmmaker Zoe Kavanagh, Demon Hunter (2016) tells of Taryn (Niamh Hogan), a young woman whose sister is kidnapped and ritualistically sacrificed by members of a creepy demonic sect. Taryn joins forces with a gang of demon hunters to rid Dublin of the diabolical fiends, but when she is arrested for murder, the covert operation is at risk of exposure and she must convince a cynical cop of the existence of real evil before it is too late.

Head over to Exquisite Terror to read my full review.

The Company of Wolves/Gothic Feminism Conference

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My monograph on The Company of Wolves was launched this weekend at the Gothic Feminism Conference in Kent. Auteur Publishing had a stall with a selection of titles on Gothic horror from their Devil's Advocates series, including advance copies of my contribution.

Gothic Feminism is a research project based at the University of Kent which ‘seeks to re-engage with theories of the Gothic and reflect specifically upon the depiction of the Gothic heroine in film. The project raises questions of representation, interpretation and feminist enquiry in relation to the Gothic heroine throughout film history including present day incarnations. This project will illuminate the concerns, contradictions and challenges posed by the Gothic heroine on-screen.

This year’s conference, the second, took place on 24th – 26th May. Entitled Women-in-Peril or Final Girls? Representing Women in Gothic and Horror Cinema, it featured a plethora of papers and presentations including:

‘The Presence of Absence: …

Conversations About Wolves: Tsa Palmer

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While conducting research for my monograph on The Company of Wolves, I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Teresa (Tsa) Palmer, the wolf-handler who worked on the film. Much of our chat was of course about her work on The Company of Wolves and those parts of the conversation are included in the first chapter of the monograph, which focuses on the background and making of the film. Tsa also reflected on experiences she’d had working with wolves on other films, her work with the UK Wolf Conservation Trust (which she founded in 1995 with her late husband Roger) and the various perceptions people have of wolves, due in part, to their depiction in horror literature and cinema.

It wasn’t possible to include all our conversation in the book, so what had to be omitted for the sake of relevance and a pesky wordcount, I have shared here.

On her early career as a wolf-handler: When I was about 18, I met my late husband, Roger Palmer, and he had a wolf cub which was incredibly charismatic. …

Conversations About Wolves: Suzy McKee Charnas

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While conducting research for my forthcoming monograph on Neil Jordan’s The Company of Wolves, I had the pleasure of conversing with science-fiction and fantasy author Suzy McKee Charnas. Back in the late eighties Suzy wrote an award-winning short story called ‘Boobs’, which not only shares strong affinities with The Company of Wolves, but also preceded the thematically similar Ginger Snaps (2000) by over a decade. Like these titles, ‘Boobs’ connects the ambivalent figure of the adolescent girl, fluctuating between childhood and adulthood, with the figure of the werewolf, which fluctuates between human and beast, and draws parallels between menstruation, developing sexual identity and desire, and the unleashing of something wild. It tells of Kelsey, a shy and lonely teenager whose menarche coincides with her transformation into a wolf. She uses her new-found power and abilities to take revenge on a bully who has made her life a living hell and whose cruel nickname for Kelsey, due to …