Archive for August, 2009

these ghoulish things

August 30, 2009

Take a walk about 9pm, make sure it’s drizzling slightly & there’s not one single solitary star in the sky, put Nick Cave’s ‘Abattoir Blues’ on your Walkman – it works best with a Walkman – & you’re pretty much as close as you can physically get to the calm before the storm of the apocalypse without actually being there.  The sandwich-board wielding, picketing, sloganized prophets of doom are scored by ‘Get Ready For Love’, the death-bed converts have ‘Hiding All Away’, the events, the catastrophes,, the horror, the fire & brimstone rains have ‘Abattoir Blues’ itself, & finally the scraggy remnants of a feral population have ‘Cannibal’s Hymn’.

Perfect weather for a horror movie.

The hunch-backed, black-eyed, snarling labatory assistant to cinema’s more profitable genres. & just how we like her. Horror – & this can even include such tragedies as Hollywood remakes of Japanese & Koreans movies, & generic teen garbage – horror is just about as enjoyable as cinema can get.

Slasher. Splatter. Survival. Supernatural. Psychological. Sci-Fi. Gothic. Grindhouse. Gore. A-Movie. B-Movie. Z-Movie. Zombie. Vampire. Cannibal. Apocalyptic. Post-Apocalyptic. Moralistic. Narcissistic. Egotistic. Torture-Porn. K-Horror. J-Horror. & a big fuckin’ fistful of -ploitation flicks.

Does any other genre have quite so many subdivisions? Maybe it’s the audience, much like the subdivisions of metal – there always seems to be more than is necessary – & it’s the natural way of the horror-geek. Organise. Organise. Organise.

Villians. Pivotal, but somehow swiped from under horror’s feet by other genres. Dracula. The Mummy. Frankenstein’s Monster. Hannibal. Damien. Regan. Freddy. Jason. Michael Myers. All instantly recognisable, but ask anyone to name you a villain from the movies and more than likely you’re gonna get; Darth Vader, Hans Gruber, Voldemort, Saruman, Sauron. The Terminator. I could whine & stomp my precious little feet at this injustice, but it doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t matter because we have zombies. The greatest threat to ever lunge at us from a shadow in the history of cinema. Slow, shuffling, often mute & completely & utterly unstoppable.

Sure, they’ve been used almost to death (ha.), but that’s when directors start to get creative, they start to use their brraains. Since Romero’s classic, ‘standard’ zombie, the dawn of the millenium brought with it the ‘modern’ zombie. This zombie was fast. This zombie wasn’t always dead first. This zombie was a Nazi. This zombie could organise other zombies. This zombie was a stripper. & while I haven’t always agreed with how it’s been portrayed (see: Land of the Dead), whilst the original will always be my favourite, it’s entirely possible the zombie has evolved with our fears. We figured out how to beat them when they were shambling towards us, but they adapted & so have we. Without wishing to blur the line between fiction & reality, the zombie somehow strikes a deep & resonant chord within us & it’s fuckin’ scary!

They shit on vampires, that’s for sure.

Fiction & reality is important too. Horror is fiction. Rarely, unbearably rarely, is horror in anyway linked to reality – it’s just too…far-fetched. You can lose yourself in a horror movie like no other. No matter how much blood, gut & screaming fills the room, it’s all fiction. Glorious, unadulterated fiction. & you get scared! Is there anything better than turning off all the lights after watching a pant-wettingly scary movie, diving under the covers & squeezing shut your eyes so that face at the window, or that body in the wardrobe or that hand under the bed can’t get to you. Doesn’t it just make you feel like a child again?

Horror fans seem most often to be the most passionate of movie-goers. Casual are perhaps the fans of rom-coms, thrillers – war movies & westerns perhaps have more in common with horror – but it’s very easy to be a casual fan of the stuff that gets into the cinema because it is in the cinema – not that I wish to put you down. Horror is becoming more mainstream (a good thing, purists!) but you really gotta search for that blood-soaked Italian cannibal masterpiece. There are classic horror movies still banned in the UK – but customs tends to have a rather lackadaisical approach to imported DVDs. Engage a horror buff in conversation about horror stuff & most likely his unmentionables are doing the unmentionable.

I may be an awful geek, but I know what I love.


Today’s post-script serves to illustrate further the awesomeness of zombies. This zombie wrestles a fuckin’ shark! Zombies don’t take shit from anyone.

the everyman’s library; luddites beware

August 28, 2009

Books. We all have them, from the arthritic librarian with her thousands of hardbacked, leather bound, paper-faced, illustrated offspring, to the most timid bibliophobe with their tiny, moth-eaten picture book locked firmly in a box beneath their bed.

& what a rock n’ roll lifestyle they’ve lived. Every lifestyle, in fact. They’ve been loved, hated, burned, sealed in museums, wielded in great rallying rallies in the fists of respective ralliers, stored neatly on identikit IKEA shelving, rotted in the deep, cavernous depths of some schoolkid’s rucksack & shone as a great beacon of hope for humanity while everything about them descended uncontrollably into chaos. Books stand before us learned & infinitely wise. The entire history of human-kind & more locked firmly between their wood-pulp pages.

What have you done recently?

No. My point is not to belittle the incomparable lives of us all. My point is; aren’t books just brilliant. (That’s a very first point, not the basis for this blog entire, for that, I realise, would be a terrible waste of your time).

& now – & now – we have electronic books. Books that aren’t really books. Magazines that aren’t really magazines. Er. Poems that aren’t really poems. Just an incandescent typeface glowing happily up into our face-types. Isn’t it terrible? Isn’t it maddening to think that people will abandon with ignorance & wanton recklessness the beautiful bound & glued pages of the latest hardback, so they can stare drone-like into their iTome or eBrainer or something?

Well, actually, it isn’t really. Mass paperback production didn’t spell the end of luxurious hardback editions. Cassettes didn’t kill vinyls. CDs didn’t kill vinyls. Torrenting didn’t kill vinyls. (Vinyls are pretty bloody enduring). Technology will always improve, but the printed word will always be in-demand, always be vital to technology’s progress. Basically, people will still buy the real thing. I torrent. Yes. I do. But I also buy all the music I listen to. There’s a healthy medium. & so with books, especially at the moment, since a new ebook is the equivalent in cost to its paperback cousin. But the price wil sort itself out. Sellers will realise the need to drop the price of ebooks, not least because we don’t actually get anything physical out of the transaction.

I read ebooks on my phone at the moment. It’s brilliant, except for the fact that the screen is a bit small, it isn’t e ink so it glares a bit, & I refuse to pay for an ebook until I have a reader, so everything is pre-1950 (a good thing) & plastered with ads & warnings from project gutenberg (a bad thing). It’s good for short books. Metamorphosis/Time Machine books.

Sony have just released their new reader, in an entry-level & (what is presumably) a professional model. At £180 it’s decidedly cheaper than the previous model (which has also come down in price as the last few stocks dwindle, redundant on the shelves). & it’s sorely tempting to buy one. Until. Until. Until Kindle. Amazon’s elusive-on-British-shores revolutionary, silver, shiny, 3G utilising, literature-romping, fuck-machine of a reader. Christmas was the latest release-date rumour. But that’s going to drift past on an inevitable wave of disappointment. By which time, will the Sony reader have been worth getting all along? It handles PDFs better. I can still use gutenberg for free. & most of all it’s now.

Summer is nearly over however. I’m not going away anywhere. The use of the reader as a handy device to store neatly in my suitcase instead of a tidal wave of tatty travel reading is now redundant until next year. But it’s a gadget, & as it’s a gadget I want one. I want to tinker with its toggles, doodle with its dials & putter with its protrusions, I want to stroke its slipstream screen with rising anticipation at reading the first novel from its e ink surface.

Regardless of which reader, though, their mission isn’t to eradicate from the crevices of our minds the desire for corporeal texts, but to complement them. They want to be our little travel companion on long haul flights. Our bus-stop comrade. Our smug bed-side mate that won’t lose its place when the words shift restlessly before our tired eyes & we fall asleep… unlike those treacherous paperbacks. No. Not treacherous. Quaint. Quaint & familiar.

Let books, in all their forms, hold the torch by which our lives are lit – & ultimately held up to. They still beat real conversation.