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Revisitations#8: Alien (1979)

We go back to the Alien franchise again, as Ian and Dan compare their personal lists of five favourite things from the 1979 classic.  We assume you’ve all seen this one, so it’s spoiler-filled from the start.  And if you haven’t seen it, stop listening to us, get yourself to Disney+ and treat yourself to this ageless film!

Relevant Links

The Ghostwatch limited edition Blu-Ray is available now from 101 Films (and our interview with Stephen Volk is here)

The Mist is on All4 until 26th November so hurry and catch it!

It’s A Sin is currently streaming via BritBox and All4

The Crown and Veronica are currently streaming via Netflix

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

10 Years of The Hunger Games

Together as a foursome for the first time in a while, Kirsty, Stella, Ian and Dan discuss 2012’s The Hunger Games, as well as touching on its sequels and the books the films were based on.  Beware, some spoilers…

(Kirsty at one point says “kill to the death” instead of “fight to the death”.  Dan, who once said “murder kills” when he meant “mercy kills”, feels seen.)

Relevant Links

The new Mads Mikkelsen/Bryan Fuller horror is Dust Bunny

Dan’s comedy podcast The Faces at the Window can be found here.  New series coming this Christmas!

Danny Robins’ new podcast is The Witch Farm

Dr Terror’s House of Horrors is often shown on Legend on UKTV and can be found on several streaming services including Shudder, BritBox and Plex (which is free).  Howard and Dan’s episode about it is here

Seasons 1-4 and the first part of Season 5 of The Handmaid’s Tale are currently streaming via All4

Guillermo Del Toro’s The Cabinet of Curiosities and The Witcher are currently streaming via Netflix

The Peripheral is currently streaming via Amazon Prime

Andor is currently streaming on Disney+

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

Mini Review: L’Orafo/The Goldsmith (Grimmfest 2022)

A few weeks late, we’re giving our first coverage to Grimmfest 2022. Stella and Dan discuss the Italian comic heist thriller with a gruesome undertone, L’Orafo aka The Goldsmith, winner of the festival’s Reaper Award for Best Screenplay.  Dan was unable to attend Grimmfest itself due to illness, but Stella did and recorded a spoilery interview with co-writer/director Vincenzo Ricchiuti and producer Manuela De Tommaso, included in the middle of the podcast.

00.00.41 Grimmfest 2022 and non-spoiler discussion of The Goldsmith

00.15.46 Interview with Vincenzo Richiutti and Manuela De Tomasso (spoilers)

00.26.22 Spoiler discussion of The Goldsmith

No recommendations on the actual podcast this episode, but Dan suggests UK listeners check out All4 which currently hosts a number of excellent horror films, including One Cut Of The Dead, American Psycho, The Mist and The Orphanage.

Stella’s stylish The Shining tattoo

A Ramble About Body Horror

This episode, Dan and Stella discuss the subgenre of body horror: what are our favourite body horror sequences in film and TV, what makes them work, how body horror crosses subgenres and how it’s evolved with the development of FX techniques.

The discussion takes in the following films and shows, with occasional spoilers, so beware if you haven’t seen them: Body Melt, Creepshow (TV), Hannibal (TV), The Relic, Robocop (1987), Scanners, Shivers (They Came From Within), Slither, Society, Starship Troopers, The Strain, Teeth, Torchwood: Miracle Day, Total Recall (1990), The Walking Dead.

00.00.41 Intro

00.05.04 Body Horror discussion

01.44.10 Outro and Recommendations

Relevant Links

Red Dwarf Series 1-8 and 10-13 are currently streaming via UKTV Play

The Exorcist, The Omen, The Relic (as mentioned in the discussion), The Awakening, The Babadook, Don’t Look Now, Host and several other classic horrors are currently available for streaming via BBC iPlayer

The limited edition Ghostwatch Blu-Ray (featuring commentary from Stella) is now available from 101 Films

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

Men (2022)

Welcome to the second proper weekly series of –And Now The Podcast Starts!  And happy Halloween.

This episode, Kirsty, Ian and Dan are discussing Men, director Alex Garland’s recent hybrid of folk horror, gender commentary and body horror, first in spoiler-free fashion, then with full spoilers.

00.00.41 Intro

00.04.04 Men review (spoiler-free)

00.33.23 Men review (spoilerific)

01.20.45 Outro and Recommendations

Relevant Links

Men is currently out on DVD and Blu-Ray and can be rented for streaming via YouTube and Amazon Prime

Legend’s full listings for Halloween weekend can be found here

Archive 81 is currently available for streaming on Netflix

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

A quick word about Prey (2022)

Amber Midthunder in Prey (2022)

I’ve just watched Prey, which is now available for streaming on Disney+ in the UK, Hulu in the USA and presumably other services around the world, so I just wanted to write a few spoiler-free words about how unexpectedly delightful it is.

It’s the latest iteration of the SF/horror/action Predator franchise (which we’ve obliquely discussed on the podcast a few times recently while talking about various Alien films). The series began superbly with the so-titled Arnold Schwarzenegger muscle-and-guts-fest in 1987 and culminated in the widely-derided, slightly differently-titled The Predator in 2018 (which I have to admit I haven’t bothered to watch). Early word on Prey suggested a decent premise – a stripped-down prequel in which the alien hunter common to all films in the franchise would menace an 18th century Comanche tribe – but the trailers, looking a bit too cheap, a bit too glossy, and featuring Comanche characters speaking ahistorical accented English were somewhat underwhelming to me. However, against expectations, it’s marvellously well-judged and ironically enough would make for a thoroughly satisfying big-screen blockbuster. It has enough sense of place and character to take the audience on a journey but a light enough touch to create an accessible crowd-pleaser, benefiting from an inventive, pared-down screenplay.

Amber Midthunder plays Naru, a young Comanche woman who is determined to be initiated as a hunter according to the customs of her people, even though as a female this is not a role she is expected to undertake. (When asked by her mother why she would want to hunt rather than explore her other traditionally feminine skills – such as cooking and healing – Naru responds, “Because you all think I can’t.”) When she becomes aware that an unusual, ahem, predator is bedevilling local wildlife, Naru determines to hunt it down. Of course, she gets more than she bargained for.

This very simple premise pays three kinds of dividend. Firstly, as the story focuses on just one character with an easy-to-grasp goal, one quickly comes to engage with and care about that character. (Amber Midthunder’s hugely expressive face helps a lot in this regard.) Second, the very visual storytelling is so strongly-themed – everything is about hunting, basically – that dialogue can be kept to a minimum. (What dialogue there is, is mainly in English peppered with just enough Comanche to remind the audience that this not an American colonial culture: a rather old-fashioned approach, but one that works. Again it makes the film feel like an old-school blockbuster – a film made for cinema release in mostly English-speaking territories would probably have done this, but when designed with streaming in mind, and the resultant ease of access to subtitles and dubs in multiple languages, it’s perhaps surprising that the film wasn’t simply shot in Comanche. According to Wikipedia, an all-Comanche dub of the film does exist, but it doesn’t seem to be available on Disney+.) Finally, the ‘hunter becomes the hunted’ theme common to the Predator franchise is turned excitingly on its head. Arguably, Naru is not the ‘Prey’ of the title; she’s the predator. Albeit a likeable and relatable one.

This is the first Predator sequel (at least, I think it is, having not seen the 2018 film) to both stand comparison with the original and stand alone. 1990’s Predator 2 set a template for various novel and comic book sequels that essentially repeated the premise of the original film (alien predator picks off a bunch of macho warriors one-by-one, only in a different setting for each film) and subsequent films attempted to elaborate on the formula without bettering it. With Prey, for the first time, although the basic premise is almost the same, not only the setting but the culture of the human characters is different enough from that of the previous films that the manner of their reaction to the Predator is unpredictable. As a result, suspense returns to the storytelling, even if you’re already familiar with the Predator franchise. On the other hand, if it’s your first Predator film, the story still works: Prey rediscovers the Predator creature and its MO, as if for the first time, through Naru’s eyes.

Not much else to say, really. Production values are good, with action sequences that are kinetically edited yet coherently shot (several appear to be done in one take, John Wick-style, with Midthunder doing a lot of her own stunt work – or it’s very well-faked) and a particularly effective musical backing from Sarah Schachner.

Basically, watch it.

TD Velasquez

Horror in Red Dwarf

A relaxed, horror-adjacent chat this week, as Stella and Dan put their feet up and chuckle about the horrific elements of their (and possibly everybody’s) favourite sci-fi sitcom, Red Dwarf.

(The Series 2 episode they discuss without naming is called Thanks for the Memory.)

Red Dwarf Series 1-8 are available for streaming via Britbox.  Series 9 onwards are frequently (but not always) available for streaming for free via UKTV Play.

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

Revisitations #7: Alien Resurrection (1997)

Following their discussions of Aliens (1986) in the previous two episodes, and Alien3 (1992) much earlier, Dan and Ian now take on 1997’s not-much-loved fourth part of the franchise, Alien Resurrection, although the two can’t agree whose idea it was.  Listen as Ian rediscovers a nightmare from literally half a lifetime ago.  The discussion doesn’t dwell on the story in detail, but if you haven’t seen it, beware of spoilers.

There’s also a very off-topic digression about Game of Thrones and The West Wing, but Dan cut most of it out…

Alien Resurrection is available for streaming on Disney+.

All soundtrack and music clips are used for the purposes of criticism under Fair Use (US law) and Fair Dealing (UK law).  No copyright infringement intended.

Check out our other episodes on Aliens and Alien3.

Questions of Horror #4: Is It Horror?

Apart from Howard (he says hello), the gang’s all here as Stella, Kirsty and Ian join Dan to discuss how far the horror genre might stretch to include action, disaster and sci-fi films, with specific reference to The Poseidon Adventure (1972), Jaws (1975) and Aliens (1986).  Beware: spoilers for The Poseidon Adventure – please note the timecodes below if you wish to avoid.

00.00.00 Intro and news

00.09.10  The Poseidon Adventure discussion

00.31.08 Jaws discussion

00.43.53 Aliens discussion

Relevant Links:

The new edition of Hammer and Beyond can be ordered for £10 from Manchester University Press

Also, happy birthday to our music maestro, Greg Hulme!