The Viewing Circle

Folk Horror Revival

Viewing Circle

Viewing guide (October 2018)

Welcome to the FHR Viewing Circle – a bit like a book club but with no books and you don’t actually get to meet the other members. Click on the link below, sit back and watch and then come back to this thread and add your thoughts and comments below and join in the discussion……

The idea behind the Viewing Circle was to post links to some folk horror viewing (accessible on-line) with a brief introduction listing original release/broadcast dates, notable actors, directors and composers, a brief synopsis and the occasional review from its original release. The hope was that like with a Bookclub those folk horror revivalists who watched the suggested viewing would then discuss it adding their own thoughts or questions to the original FHR Viewing Club thread.

It was decided to pilot this idea in the month of October in the run-up to Halloween alternating between Film and TV programmes every 2-3 days. If this proved successful the Viewing Circle could possibly continue with the potential for some exclusive viewings of new works in the future.

What follows is the introduction section for each of the FHR Viewing Circle recommendations from October 2018.

1 – Our first Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is episode 4 of Series 2 of `Shadows’

`Shadows’ was a British Supernatural television anthology series produced by Thames Television for ITV between 1975 and 1978. Extending over three seasons, it featured ghost and horror dramas for children.

Guest actors included John Nettleton, Gareth Thomas, Jenny Agutter, Pauline Quirke, Brian Glover, June Brown, Rachel Herbert, Jacqueline Pearce and Gwyneth Strong. The series was also notable for reviving the character of Mr. Stabs who first appeared in Ace of Wands.

Notable writers for the series included J. B. Priestley, Fay Weldon, Penelope Lively and PJ Hammond.

This episode – Dark Encounter – was written by Susan Cooper and stars Alex Scott, Shelagh Fraser (who played Aunt Beru in Star Wars), Brian Glover, Hugh Morton, Margot Field, Carolyn Courage, and Graham Kennedy. It was first aired on 18th August 1978.

`A middle-aged Londoner returns to the remote village that sheltered him as a child from the London blitz. He realizes that he’s afraid of the woods around the village, but can’t remember why.’

2 – Our second Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `The Juniper Tree’ – A Dark Tale of Witchcraft & Mysticism.

`The Juniper Tree’ is a 1990 Icelandic fantasy art house drama film directed and written by Nietzchka Keene. Based on the fairy tale “The Juniper Tree” collected by the Brothers Grimm, it stars a small cast of five actors, Björk, Bryndis Petra Bragadóttir, Guðrún Gísladóttir, Valdimar Örn Flygenring and Geirlaug Sunna Þormar.

Margit and her older sister, Katla, flee their homeland in Iceland after their mother is killed for practicing witchcraft. Needing a place to stay, Katla casts a spell over a young farmer named Jóhann which makes him fall in love with her, ensuring the wellbeing of herself and Margit. Jóhann’s son, Jóhas, sees through Katla’s plan and pleads for his father to make her go away. To help Jóhas in his struggle, Margit’s mother appears to Margit in visions and provides a magic amulet of protection for the boy. Will Jóhas be able to rid his family of Katla or will she continue to control them with her witchcraft?

`The Juniper Tree’ was shot in Iceland with an extraordinarily small budget in the summer of 1986, but because of financial problems later on in the editing room, it was not released until 1990, when it competed for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. The film was shot in black and white to highlight its dramatic content and as a resource to place the story in the Middle Ages. Some scenes were filmed in the Seljalandsfoss, Iceland.

3 – Our third Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `The Beast’ – a classic episode from `West Country Tales’

Shown in the early 80s by the BBC `West Country Tales’ was a rural Tales of the Unexpected. The twist was that the stories were apparently based on letters collected by the producer recounting real life experiences.

The most memorable was `The Beast’ which aired on 1st March 1982. `A city dweller returns to the Cornish farmhouse of his youth, only to find that the current occupants are being stalked by a strange creature.’

Most of the cast and indeed the director (Kevin Crooks) seemed to have worked solely on `West Country Tales’ but Milton Reid who played the Beast had an interesting career appearing in `The Spy who loved me’, `Dr.Phibes rises again’, `The Return of the Pink Panther, `The Goodies’ and `Cannon and Ball’ as well as an uncredited role in Folk Horror classic `Blood on Satan’s Claw’.

The Narrator for all episodes was Jack Watson who in his 45 year career appeared in `Sky’, `The Changes’, `Arthur of the Britons’, `The Gorgon’ and `Peeping Tom’ as well as countless war films such as `North Sea Hijack’, `Wild Geese’, `The Devil’s Brigade’ and `The Hill’.

4 – Our forth Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `Psychomania’ ( AKA The Death Wheelers).

“A stone cold classic with a great cast and superb soundtrack.” – J.Peters

A gang of young people call themselves the Living Dead. They terrorize the population from their small town. After an agreement with the devil, if they kill themselves firmly believing in it, they will survive and gain eternal life. Following their leader, they commit suicide one after the other, but things don’t necessarily turn out as expected……what’s not to love?!

Released in1973 it was George Sanders last film (He had previously won an Academy Award for his role in All About Eve and was the voice of the malevolent man-hating tiger Shere Khan in Disney’s The Jungle Book.) and also featured the late great Beryl Reid as well as Bill Pertwee (of Dad’s Army fame) and Robert Hardy. The soundtrack was by John Cameron who had previously worked with Donovan as well as writing the masterful `Kes’ soundtrack. An interview with John as well as a review of the soundtrack can be found in `Harvest Hymns’ from FHR publishing wing `Wyrd Harvest Press’.

It wasn’t critically well received at the time but has since become a cult classic and has seen fans of the film making pilgrimages to Walton-on-Thames to hunt down the filming locations.

5 – Our fifth Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `Moondial’ – the complete series.

`Moondial’ was a six-part serial made for children by the BBC and transmitted in 1988. The series was written by Helen Cresswell, who also wrote the 1987 novel on which the series was based

Regarded as a nostalgic favourite by followers of 1980s BBC children’s drama, `Moondial’ employs extensive location filming (in the grounds of Belton House in Lincolnshire) and fantastical, dreamlike imagery. It also boosts an evocative soundtrack and memorable titles scene.

“Teenager Minty expects to spend a quiet holiday near historical Belton House with her mother’s godmother, “Aunt” Mary. However, soon after leaving Minty, her mother is involved in an accident and lies comatose in the hospital. Distraught, Minty begins wandering the Belton grounds. When she touches the sun-dial/moon-dial in the garden, she is transported through time. First to the late 19th century where she meets Tom, a sickly and abused servant. Second to the 18th century where she meets Sarah, a mysterious cloaked child who is in danger. Can Minty find a way to help these ghosts of the past?”

It included in its cast the late great Arthur Hewlett and Jacqueline Pearce – who sadly passed away just last month.

Arthur Hewlett (12 March 1907– 25 February 1997)

He is best remembered for his roles on television, including Quatermass and the Pit, The Avengers, The Saint, The Changes, Blake’s 7, Doctor Who (in the serials State of Decay and Terror of the Vervoids) and The Black Adder

Jacqueline Pearce (20 December 1943 – 3 September 2018)

Jacqueline was best known as the villain Servalan in the British science fiction TV series Blake’s 7. Of interest to this group she also starred in The Plague of the Zombies and The Reptile, which were filmed simultaneously on the same location and both released in 1966.

Sit back, turn down the lights and prepared to be taken back to 1988 when a nation of school children were entranced by this wonderful tale……

6 – Our sixth Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `The Devil’s Widow’.

Released in 1970 `The Devil’s Widow’ was based on ancient Scottish folk song, The Ballad of Tam Lin. It starred Ava Gardner and Ian McShane as well as featuring the talents of Stephanie Beecham Sinead Cusack, Joanna Lumley and Madeline Smith and was Planet of the Apes regular Roddy McDowall’s only directorial credit The film had original music by Stanley Myers (responsible for some classic horror soundtracks for House of Whipcord, Frightmare, House of Mortal Sin) and a musical version of the original poem recorded by Pentangle.

“McDowall builds a broodingly enigmatic sense of menace out of stray allusions and apparitions that hover without ever really being explained or over-exploited: the snatches of [Robert] Burns intimating the presence of diabolic machinations; the girl terrified by her own unspoken Tarot prophecies; the dialogue that rings like blank verse, as though it had been used over and over again. Above all, though, this menace is effective chiefly because it is rhymed with a mounting sense of quiet decorum, as though reality, the world of the ordinary, everyday banality, were suddenly present to Tom for the first time.”
— Tom Milne, Monthly Film Bulletin, June 1977

7 – Our seventh Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `The Flypaper’

This was the first episode in series 3 of `Tales of the Unexpected’ and was first aired on 9th August 1980. Adapted from a story by unappreciated English writer Elizabeth Taylor, `The Flypaper’ is as usual introduced by Roald Dahl, who wryly admits that the story is so effectively grim, that he wishes he had written it. It features the not inconsiderable acting talents of Stephanie Cole (Talking Heads, Waiting for God, Doc Martin) and Alfred Burke (Children of the Damned, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – his final film role)

`The police are dragging the marshes for a missing school-girl and a sinister man is approaching other young girls. Young Sylvia is on a bus on the way home from school when a friendly old man begins to talk to her. A woman steps in to help and brings her to her caravan home to call for the police…….’

“A lean, paranoid and gently merciless tale that will affect you and stick with you for a very, very long time.” – Chris Alexander

(It would be interesting to read your thoughts on this as a piece of `Folk Horror’ so please come back and leave comments in the thread below.)

8 – Our eighth Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `The Coming’ (aka “Burned At The Stake”)

Released in 1981 the version online is an old VHS print…so picture quality may be a bit dark in many night scenes…..but it all adds to the atmosphere and harks back to the days of bootleg videos of hard to get hold of horror films.

In 1692 a young girl in Salem, Massachusetts, accuses several residents of being witches, and they are burned at the stake. In 1980 a young woman who is a descendant of the accuser believes she is being terrorized by the ghost of the father of the women who were burned as witches.

The cast for this film is made up of various character actors who had extensive careers on American TV but are not noted for any particularly well-known movies except for Susan Swift who appeared in Audrey Rose and Halloween: The cures of Micheal Myers. It was directed by Bert Ira Gordon (Mr B.I.G) who was a major name in the giant monster B-movies of the 50’s and 60’s responsible for such classics as The Amazing Colossal Man, Village of the Giants and Earth Vs The Spider

Its theatrical release was both scattered and limited and it was through a slot as a CBS Late Night Movie in 1988 that The Coming attained its biggest audience and its reputation started to grow.

9 – Our ninth Folk Horror treat for the lead up to Halloween is `The Exorcism’

First broadcast on 7th November 1972 `The Exorcism’ was the first episode of BBC2 series `Dead of Night’

Dead of Night ran for a single series in the autumn of 1972. Of its seven 50-minute episodes, only three—”The Exorcism”, “Return Flight”, and “A Woman Sobbing”—are known to exist today in the BBC’s archives.These were released together on DVD by the British Film Institute in 2015, with the scripts for the missing episodes of the series included as PDF files on the disc. The Stone Tape (1972) was conceived and made as an episode of this anthology series, but was removed from it before being transmitted and shown as a standalone television play instead.

It features a moving performance by Anna Crooper (1938 – 2007) who made a name for herself as a character actor in various TV crime dramas such as Poirot, Ruth Rendell Mysteries, Midsomer Murders and Miss Marple but is perhaps best known in this group for her role in 1970’s Play for Today `Robin Redbreast’. This episode also featured Edward Petherbridge who you may know from the 1961 TV version of the Ben Jonson play `The Alchemist’, 1975’s The Ash Tree or more recently `Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Perhaps the biggest name of this very limited cast was Clive Swift. A great British actor born in 1936 he has starred in The Stalls of Barchester, Death Line (1972 the movie), Nigel Kneale’s Beast, Twice in Doctor Who, Tales of the Unexpected, Excalibur and TV series Shadows that featured earlier in suggested viewing for the FHR Viewing Circle. He is however probably best known as long suffering Richard in `Keeping Up Appearances’

`Two couples are having a dinner party in their country cottage (this is of course the 1970s) when strange events begin to hamper their middle-class evening. The Exorcism has a number of wonderful moments as well as some entertaining period features. While the atmosphere becomes more and more suspenseful as the cottage seems to become possessed, it is still extremely difficult for one to ignore and not get distracted by Clive Swift and Sylvia Kay’s hyper-1970s clothing. Swift also brings to mind his role as Dr. Black in two of the BBC Ghost stories, making the series feel part of a natural family…’ Adam Scovell (2013)

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Let’s Summon Demons

Let’s Summon Demons – folk horror theatre in old London Town – by Jim Peters

“Is it wise to ask the questions you always wanted to ask?
Let’s Summon Demons is a semi-immersive folk horror play in the round. It examines our attitudes to ritual, to revenge and to the uprising of female power. Can community lead to mob mentality? What are ghosts and demons and do they come from below or from within? If you stare into the abyss, can you come back?
Join our coven for one night to encounter comedy, folk horror and – perhaps – some demons.”

I am not big on immersive theatre and felt quite nervous walking up the narrow stair of the Old Red Lion Theatre however the minute I walked into the venue I felt very much at home. The air was thick with the heady scent of incense resin; the lighting was low and the haunting strains of `The Fiend Discovered’ from `The Blood on Satan’s Claw’ soundtrack greeted my ears – I felt that I was among my people.

The intimate setting was perfect for this production with the semi-circle tiers of wooden benches carrying echoes of Victorian Operating Theatres. Before the performance begun we were initiated as a part of the evening’s entertainment with learning lines from an ancient sounding song, generating a communal drone, having our measures taken and some of us (it felt like we were definitely an `us’) being selected to be guardians of summoning spells. I say `before the performance’ but this was all really very much a part of the show.

The scene was set – we had been invited to stay at an isolated guest house in the wilds of Wales that had once belonged to our host Rowan’s grandmother – Maggie. Through a series of light hearted conversations with the audience Rowan (a reference to Rowan Morrison from The Wicker Man possibly?) fills in the back story nicely and we find out that Maggie always thought the house haunted and in fact had a creepy experience one night alone in the house. We are gathered here to help mark the first year anniversary of the death of Rowan’s husband Allister’s (that other famous Allister – Mr Crowley – will give you a clue as to how this is likely to end up) and it also transpires that all the assembled (the audience) are witches, seers, cunning folk or occultists of some description…oh and we are all women!

This first act is charmingly presented by Katy Schutte with a thoroughly engaging and quirky style that puts the audience at ease whilst drawing them in and making them laugh – there is quite a lot of laughter in the early part of the performance as fortunes are told usingTasseography (the forgotten art of fortune telling using biscuits) and well informed comments on the nature of the dark arts are perfectly pitched and delivered. Then comes the second act…….

I won’t ruin your future enjoyment of `Let’s Summon Demons’ (although as with` The Wicker Man’ the title does give away a fair part of the plot) but I will say that it gets very dark very quickly in more ways than one. Suddenly the lights drop and we find ourselves part of a ritual that takes several unexpected turns and all joking is well and truly forgotten. It almost felt like we had gone from relaxed jovial participation into a descent that was so steep that we became unwilling observers gripping onto our seats as the sinister side of Rowan’s sisterhood was played out before us. With some neat call-backs (you really need to pay attention as even when being seemingly offhand and informal Katy is drip feeding us clues) and some very clever lighting tricks a violent and twisted tale unfolds – with the arrival of an unexpected guest who acts as a catalyst for the downward spiral. (Christian Walker played by Edmund Fargher)

As previously mentioned the venue was a perfect match for the feel of the piece with its intimate, communal atmosphere and wooden floor which became an otherworldy canvas with the use of some very smart projections. Katy controlled the room expertly flipping from chummy to obsession bordering on possession and with good use made of some fantastic music that feeling of isolation, ritual and the paranoia of a skewed moral belief was always in the air….waiting for the Fiend to be discovered.
A dark descent into the moral maze of mob mentality and its justification for extreme polemic and behaviour……a witch hunt carried out by witches.

Folk Horror Revival was fortunate enough to be able to question Katy about her production (and herself) and find out a bit about the inspiration for `Let’s Summon Demons’

Folk Horror Revival – Firstly can you tell us a little about yourself – your background, how you ended up acting and writing and who has influenced you?

Katy Schutte – I studied Drama then fell hard into the cult of long form improvisation. So hard that I studied in Chicago, wrote a book about improv and that’s mostly what I do. I spent a few years on the stand-up circuit too but prefer to do full shows and I love to collaborate.

In comedy, I’ve always loved Bill Bailey, but I also adore writer/performers Tina Fey, Phoebe Waller Bridge and Rachel Bloom among others. For this show I was very inspired/influenced by Liam Gavin’s movie A Dark Song. It’s amazing.

FHR – Do you consider your work to fit into the Folk Horror genre and if so what is it about it that you feel fits that label?

KS – I was in a training coven in my early 20s, so it definitely influenced my real life! I’m quite Jungian in my beliefs though.

My current show is folk horror as there’s a strong Wiccan vein running through it, we actually enact a ritual and there’s also a social and religious commentary which is strong in my favourite folk horror movies.

I was researching witchcraft when I first came across the Wicker Man and it is so well pitched, accurate in terms of pagan ritual and belief and also scary and beautiful. There are a lot of elements that are not overtly called out or explained and I love that too.

FHR – Can you give an outline of the content and of what your show is about?

KS – The crux of my show is to address the a post-#metoo climate. Are we witch-hunting men? Should we? What does that mean? It’s set in a haunted Bed and Breakfast where Rowan – a practicing wiccan – has invited her female friends to join in a ritual marking her husband’s death one year after the fact.

FHR – Do you have a particular process (ritualistic or preparatory) when you are writing a show? Any way in which you get yourself in `the zone’ or work up ideas?

KS – Every show is different and there’s no one clear process. I certainly made sure I magickally protected the people collaborating on this one! Improv and just plain writing a first draft are useful ways to get started. A visit to Salem was inspiring too and my director John Henry Falle was amazing; especially getting me clear on the Lore of my show.

FHR – So what is next?

KS – I’m going on a three month walk through New Zealand, so although I have a lot of ideas, I’ll be letting them stew while I put one foot in front of the other…

FHR – And finally do you have any particular shows that have left an impression on you (not necessarily Folk Horror) – and can you say a few brief words about it/them?

KS – There is a company called Curious Directive that combine science fiction with science. Their show Pioneer was stunning and I’ve loved other works I’ve seen by them since. It’s powerful, makes you ask questions and beautifully conceived.

I think it is fair to say that there will be many folk who have been lucky enough to have seen Katy in `Let’s Summon Demons’ who would include it in their list of shows that have left an impression on them. Witty, twisted, sharply written and well informed if `Let’s Summon Demons’ comes around again we will be sure to let you know and I highly recommend you make sure you get a ticket.

( http://www.katyschutte.co.uk/ )

THE WICK – A disturbing tale of deceit and persecution two years on.

THE WICK – A disturbing tale of deceit and persecution two years on.

Two years ago I reported on an exciting new Folk Horror film that was in its early pre-production stages trying to raise funds to help move the project on. A Crowd funder page was set up and through the generous support of people from around the globe – including Folk Horror Revival – enough money was raised to move the film closer to becoming a real thing. FHR caught up with Michelle Coverley (writer and producer of `THE WICK’ and the films herbal healing protagonist) for an update.

Folk Horror Revival: Can you briefly remind us what the film is about and in particular what you feel makes it a work of Folk Horror?

Michelle Coverley: `THE WICK’ is a dark, period drama, set in the early 1800’s in rural England, seventy-three years after witch trials were banned. It’s a disturbing tale of deceit and persecution of a woman who fights for justice against a lawless witch hunter.

`THE WICK’ definitely channels Folk Horror. The village that Esther, our female protagonist lives in, is extremely superstitious to the point of horrifying. What these villagers are led to believe, without much proof and the lengths that some of them go to, to ‘fix’ things is quite shocking. The deception and ignorance is quite barbaric, with folklore and religion being at the heart of it.

FHR: What inspired you to embark on this journey and dedicate so much of your life for the last few years to `THE WICK’?

MC: I decided to take a step from acting into writing and producing as I found there is a lack of female protagonists in film, as well as a lack of presence of women in the film industry. I realised that doing this would bring me more control over my career and give me the satisfaction that by telling my stories, women have a voice.

I wanted to make short film on a small budget with a strong female lead. I thought about potential locations that looked interesting on screen but were cheap or free to film at. I decided a forest would be a great idea, then went to bed and the next morning, awoke with the idea about witchcraft. Who knows where it came from? I really have no idea? But I searched for historical British witch trials that morning on line and came across a few about how some of these women fought back, this really caught my eye. From there, I heavily researched the subject and then began to write the script. Although period drama can be pretty difficult and expensive to make, I felt so strongly about the subject matter, I just went with it.

FHR: So what stage in the production are you at now?

MC: We are in post-production at the moment. We finished shooting at the end of June, then went straight into the editing room. We are now trying out and tweaking different versions of the edit and experimenting with music composition. After this, it will be the colour grade, then onto promotion and pushing it round domestic and international film festivals.

FHR: Has much changed about the story during the filming and if so was it born of necessity or was it an organic change that occurred once the actors started inhabiting the characters?

MC: The story didn’t change during the filming process as that could be tricky and problematic, but the script had gone through changes after the postponement of the shoot last year. We had to postpone because of budget limitations and then I realised that the story had to be more focused on just a couple of themes and characters instead of skimming over the surface of many. It was a blessing in disguise and I’m so happy that I waited till this year to shoot.

FHR: What has been the biggest challenge so far and what has been the biggest/ best moment(s)?

MC: The forced postponement last year was one of the biggest challenges that I endured and I was totally not expecting it. It was a massive shock to the system and as I was the writer, producer and lead actor, I had so much invested in this project and had to single-handedly sort it out. Although I got through it and didn’t lose too much of the budget, I found it hard at first, to pick the project up again. Finding the right director was also a challenge. Not only do you have to share a similar vision, you also need to have the same way of working too. I feel that finding the right people to collaborate with is one of the most important things to get right as a filmmaker.

One of the best moments for me was turning up on set with my actor’s hat on and feeling so confident and content that I could trust every single crew member to do their job. Those first few moments kind of blew my mind actually. I arrived on set with the other actors, crew were running around, setting up their equipment, placing last minute props and the extras were all in costume. It was pretty emotional seeing it all coming together. I couldn’t actually believe it was happening at last and we were finally about to do the first take. I’ll never forget that moment. The other amazing moment was on the last day and wrapping the last scene. Holding the clapperboard and getting a group photo was so special too.

Also, having quite a well-known actor, Ian Reddington on set was a fantastic experience. He was such a great laugh and really relaxed and easy going. Acting alongside a pro was amazing. I was buzzing, knowing that he genuinely wanted to be a part of my short film and that he took time out of his busy schedule to do it. It was a privilege and I am very thankful to him for that.

FHR: So what is next – for the film and for you?

MC: I can’t wait to finish post-production, to then start the fun process of promotion and the film festival circuit so people can actually watch what we’ve all created. I’m also itching to start my next short film script too. With THE WICK, I didn’t want to direct it, as I was wearing too many hats already. But I’m very keen to direct this next script. It’s a supernatural thriller.

THE WICK Website:( http://www.michellecoverley.com/the-wick-short-film)
THE WICK Facebook:( https://www.facebook.com/TheWickShortFilm)
THE WICK Instagram:( https://www.instagram.com/thewickshortfilm/)

The Wyrd Kalendar – Wyrd Artists Mix

Join the Kalendar Host as we prepare for the launch of the Wyrd Kalendar album. This will be released on January 1st the beginning of the next Wyrd year.

Artists from the England, Scotland, Ireland and Portugal were each given a month of the year and a story from the book (Wyrd Kalendar) as a starting point from which to create a vastly eclectic and evocative mix of genres that sweep from the worlds of Folk to Electronica via Psychedelic licks and lost Horror Soundtracks.

Explore the work of these artists and find out more about the music they have created in this special mix. Listen to The Hare and the Moon (lead by Grey Malkin who has created the Song for January with his new group Widow’s Weeds), Keith Seatman, Emily Jones, Crystal Jacqueline, Beautify Junkyards, Alison O’Donnell, Concretism, Icarus Peel, Tir na nOg, Wyrdstone, The Soulless Party, The Rowan Amber Mill and The Mortlake Bookclub.

You can preorder the album here: https://megadodo.bandcamp.com/album/wyrd-kalendar

a3949485468_5.jpg Wyrd Kalendar | Mega Dodo
megadodo.bandcamp.com
Wyrd Kalendar by Mega Dodo, releases 01 January 2019 1. Widow’s Weeds – A Song for January 2. Keith Seatman – Three Day Girl 3. Emily Jones – Waiting for Spring 4. Crystal Jaqueline – Chasing the Gowk 5. Beautify Junkyards – May Day Eve 6. Alison O’Donnell – Deadly Nest 7. Concretism – The Fair by the Sea 8. Icarus Peel – The Weeping Will Walk 9.

The ancient streets too dead for dreaming….. (a book review)

The ancient streets too dead for dreaming – interview and review by Jim Peters

`It was the morning a scarecrow ran across the field and got tangled up in the fence that I realised the game was really up.’

Any book of tales that includes one that starts with these opening lines and claims to have been collected by the author from the residents of Low Scaraby has surely got to be worth picking up and investigating? How right you are…….

“Too Dead For Dreaming is a collection of 23 stories of weirdness, wonder and woe. Most are stand-alone but in several there is the setting of Low Scaraby. It’s a village that’s hidden in the gently rolling Wolds of Lincolnshire. Most people will not have heard of it and that’s pretty much how the villagers like it. I know a few people there and have been able to pick up on some of the stories of the place. A lot of people say there’s something in the soil in those parts. It’s true.”

Read on and find out more about the author and about this marvellously intriguing and refreshing collection of 23 stories from the pen of Richard Daniels – in the shops from November 9th from Plastic Brain Press.

Richard Daniels is a difficult writer to describe or fully understand. His stories seem more like dreams being recounted half-remembered and still full of possibility – snatches of brilliant ideas that many people would dismiss as `just ideas’ but in his hands they become fascinating and decidedly dark vignettes. In the same way that some of Bob Dylan’s best narrative songs seem to start half way through and end leaving you with 100 questions (think `All Along the Watchtower’, ` Frankie Lee & Judas Priest’ or `Lily Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts’) Richard’s stories use a similar technique to draw you in and have you investing in his tales. Folk Horror Revival managed to get a few words with Richard about his craft and in particular `Too Dead for Dreaming’ and as his responses show his unconventional approach to writing extends to interview responses too…..

“I’m not sure how I ended up writing. It was something that I always did one way or another. The killer blow came when I started to take it seriously. I think Freddie Mercury put it best when he spoke about Flash Gordon and I would apply the same standard. I’m just a man, with a man’s courage. Of course I haven’t saved the Earth yet.

I like reading Guy N Smith, particularly when I’m in bed and you can hear the wind howling outside but I draw inspiration from anything, from the metallic prism of an old sweet wrapper to the homely traditions of dated Christmas cards with pictures of churchyards in the snow.”

This eclectic mix of inspirations manifests itself in the stories in Richard’s latest book with tales that cover James Dean (on wheels), the death of a rock star, ghosts in machines as well as the lost city of Atlantis. What makes this spectrum of stories so intriguing is that tiny hints and links will peep out at you as you read which suggest that they are all part of a bigger story yet to be told.

There is some real darkness in them there tales which opens up with a nihilistic rant that wouldn’t sound out of place on the lips of Frankie Boyle and ends with a nod to `The Never Ending Story’ but running throughout the book is a feeling of unsettling rural oddness which carries more than just a hint of Folk Horror. Does the author agree with this description though?

“I think aspects of it certainly do. Taken as a whole I think it creates a mood which can be unsettling in some way. A lot of life is unsettling and the mind is a natural narrative creating machine, so it’s got to do something with all the chaos and weirdness that just doesn’t fit. The 23 stories in Too Dead for Dreaming are just an aspect of that.

My earliest memory is walking to school and clutching hold of my mother’s hand very tightly when we went through the graveyard. It is forever Autumnal and thick with the smell of rotting leaves. I would close my eyes until we were through it. Things like that swirled around and mixed with TV shows I couldn’t make head nor tale of – like Sapphire & Steel or Chocky. For me Folk Horror is often a balanced mix between comfort and discomfort and the thrusting of signs and symbols onto your psyche which you know are telling you something but which can never quite be fathomed and perhaps it is for the best.”

It’s very on trend currently to be working within the Folk Horror genre but this collection of stories doesn’t feel like it is trying to do that – it feels like folk horror’s presence in the pages of `Too Dead for Dreaming’ is not just a nod to the genre but a wider reflection on the influences that Richard draws on.

“I recently went out on a night walk with my friend Tom. It was one of those late night expeditions where the darkness seemed made to be explored in the same way a dream you have is made to be explored. We had our torches – an essential folk horror piece of kit. Down a deserted country track we came upon a hooded figure on a bench with a beast keeping guard. Our hearts started racing and had we been out walking alone without each other for company I’m sure we would have turned back. The figure paid us no mind – nor did his beast. We ended up on the winding roads of an industrial park. Sure it could just have been a dog walker but I think it more likely to have been something more eerie and spectral.

I think the best way to work up ideas is to take a long walk. I’m lucky where I live – I can be out on a track with nothing but fields within a few minutes. That’s often when I turn ideas over and poke at them. Usually by the time I return I have found one or two juicy worms I can bring home and keep in a jar. The only real ritual I have is to have a cup of coffee on the go and in the winter a blanket or two wrapped about me at my desk….”

Some of this publication’s best `worms’ are the stories that deal with the possibly diabolical careers of a movie director and a rock star. By the time you have read them you will want to track down the film `Hexagasm’ and Chip Chatterton’s “hypnotic solo’ album `Lost behind the Rainbow’ so it is with a real sense of annoyance that you have to remind yourself that Richard has made all this up….I even e-mailed Plastic Brain Press for details on how to access the film `Hexagasm’ – I won’t spoil the fun by telling you what their response was. These two stories aside the subject matter covered in `Too Dead for Dreaming’ is so wide reaching that most readers will find a story that has that familiar feel for them whilst still having a fresh spin on it as part of the whole. I have read and re-read and still it feels like there are clues that I have missed which will help explain why Low Scaraby is a source of such marvellous tales – maybe Richard’s future plans will help answer these questions….so Mr D. what is next?

“Next it’s back to the compost heap. I have a few ideas for a longer examination of Low Scaraby’s topography. I’m also going to be helping to edit a collection of poems by Melody Clark who designed the cover for Too Dead for Dreaming. From what I’ve seen so far the poems are dark, devilish and fun.”

I thoroughly recommend `Too Dead for Dreaming’ and thank Richard for not only providing a preview of his work but also for answering my questions. Before we sign off though I had one last question….

  • Do you have any particular book recommendations (not necessarily Folk Horror)?

    “If you’re a Folk Horror fan and haven’t already read A Year in the Country by Stephen Prince I think you would really enjoy it.
    I’ve recently read Graveyard Love by Scott Adlerberg which was great and set around obsession in a wintry graveyard.
    Everyone should definitely read GBH by Ted Lewis. He wrote Get Carter and seems to be much underrated and mostly forgotten in this country. GBH was his last novel. It’s set in Lincolnshire and is utterly brilliant.”

    `Too Dead For Dreaming’ by Richard Daniels is out on 9th November and is published by Plastic Brain Press.

The Wyrd Kalendar – The Autumn Mix

Join the Kalendar Host this Autumn for a delicious collection of harvest treats. Words from Wyrd Kalendar, Darren Charles and Howard Ingham mingle with music from the likes of Matt Berry, Moon Wiring Club, Nick Drake, Ivor Cutler, Heslington Primary School, John Barry, Beth Orton, Bridget St. John, Emil Richards, Tricky, Bobby Darin, Mark Barnes, Francoise Hardy, The Dandy Warhols, The Vines, Jon Hopkins, Strawbs, Pulp, Jeff Buckley, Gene Moore, Hi Tension, Pink Floyd, Nat King Cole, Lee Hazelwood, Lonesome Wyatt & the Holy Spooks, Pacific, New Model Army, The Overlanders, Barbara Streisand, The Kinks, XTC, Moondog, Cleaners from Venus, Donna Summer, Kirsty MacColl, God is an Astronaut, Allah Las, Airhead, Forest, Frontier Ruckus, Small Faces, The Spotnicks, Reverend & the Makers, David Cain and Autumn.

Buy the Wyrd Kalendar book: http://www.lulu.com/shop/http://www.lulu.com/shop/chris-lambert/wyrd-kalendar/paperback/product-23371751.html

The Wyrd Kalendar album is coming soon…

“This Is Bardcore” – an interview with The Story Beast on his Prog Rock Folk Horror Comedy Show

Folk Horror Revival recently got wind of a new show being performed in London this Saturday the 15th in London. We spoke to the creator about the piece and his inspirations.

So, if you can first tell us a bit about yourself?
In my day to day life I am mere actor/writer John Henry Falle but onstage I am the mortal vessel for cosmic bullshit merchant, The Story Beast. He’s an immortal wizard whose seemingly self-appointed duty seems to be to tell the Old Tales a-new and the New Tales a-old. He’s basically a crap, slightly pissed up version of Doctor Who.

What’s This Is Bardcore about then?
It’s a Prog Rock Folk Horror Comedy Show or #ProRoFolkHoCoSho…I’m sure that’ll get trending soon. This is my second show as The Story Beast. The first got nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer (formerly the Perrier) and This Is Bardcore finds him arriving in our dimension accompanied by his best mate – a sentient Tree rooted to the Centre of your Reality. He’s entirely convinced that the world is coming to a very swift end. I take the audience on a folkloric trip through our collective unconscious via Blue Peter, an epic poetry rendering of Die Hard and the geological history of the Earth told through the medium of Rock & Roll. I’m hoping this is how I get on Live At The Apollo.

Where does your interest in folk horror stem from?
I grew up in the countryside on the island of Jersey surrounded by cows and a lot of those terrors felt quite close to the surface, I suppose. We lived in an old farmhouse where my Dad had grown up. The house was on a hill above a Mental Hospital where my Great-Grandad had spent the last third of his life. We found an actual stillborn child in the walls of the house once.

Sorry, what?
The plumbing in the house went to shit and flooded out my parent’s bedroom. Just this hideous black dripping as the water flowed through years of dust and horse-hair plaster. The whole room had to be ripped apart and on the inside of the walls we found this bricked up little alcove. A window where a window shouldn’t be. So we opened it up and on the inside we found some pages torn out of The Book Of Common Prayer, a shoe and the dusty, leathery protuberance of a stillborn child.

Isn’t that the plot to Nigel Kneale’s “Baby“?
Pretty much! And we never found out why, either! It must have been someone over a century ago who were giving their baby a decent burial. But Jersey is a full of that sort of folkloric strangeness. There’s an active coven of witches on the island! Down the road was the Barn where the people of the Parish would make the float for the island’s annual Battle Of Flowers. I remember when I first saw The Wicker Man when I was 14 and thinking “This is all a bit familiar.” I live in South London now and I think one of the reasons I love Folk Horror so much is just basic Nostalgia.

Why do you think Folk Horror has caught the public mood right now?
I’m not the first to say this but it feels like a perfect metaphor for what’s going on in this country right now, doesn’t it? That dangerous nostalgia. The desire to go back to— what? The 70s? The 30s? The Past in general despite the dreadful things we left there? This show is slightly more political than my first one as it’s the first I’ve done since the BrexiTrump happened and I’m one of those tedious, explosive Remoaners who can’t stop talking about the State of this Country once he gets going. One of my opening songs is a Pink Floyd-y rock number called “Whatever Happened To The Country That You Once Knew?“ where I sing about that nostalgia and how it constantly blooms into violence, madness and bestiality.

Do you think there is something peculiarly British about it?
Well we may have the Unholy Trilogy but Children Of The Corn seems as prescient a version of Trump’s America. What seems particularly British is how susceptible we are to a certain stripe of Fantasy. We invented the genre and if you look at a lot of the Tolkiens and Lewises they have this Romantic with a Capital R belief that if we only get the Good King back on his throne then everything will be alright again. Horror from Mary Shelley onwards is more equivocal and clear eyed about how fragile society can be and the dreadful things we’re capable of as a species. Folk Horror looks at our violence head on. It tells us that if your only concern is to purify society this will inevitably lead to burning the Outsider or the Witch. 52% of the country told the Eastern European seasonal workers to Fuck Off and now our Summer Fruit crop rots on the vine. Jersey’s little different. The island couldn’t vote in a UK Referendum but the motivation is there. The Jersey Royal crop was disappointing this year because there no one there to pick the bloody potatoes! The island’s farming has always depended on outside seasonal workers to pick the potatoes be it Bretons or Irish or Portuguese or Polish people. The local paper had the temerity to blame the weather this year. Apparently the Romanians were leaving because it was too rainy. What really happened is that when they went into a pub they’d be made to feel unwelcome by a load of thick proto-fascists. These people don’t have to come to Britain. They’re bright people who know the value of their labour and they’ll go somewhere else if they feel they’re not wanted. Sorry – got carried away there.

With all that Doom and Gloom do you think Folk Horror and Comedy can coexist?
I think they go hand in hand! The one thing that doesn’t seem to get said about The Wicker Man in all the articles about The 78 Greatest Horror Films That’ll Make You Shit Yourself is that it’s really, really funny. I was 10 when that first episode of The League Of Gentleman came on. Far too young. My Mum only turned it off when Tubbs started breastfeeding the Pig. It was the most shocking thing I’d ever seen but it also had silly people doing funny voices and that’s what lured me in. My brother and I still quote “And in the cupboard beneath the stair / You’ll find the towel for pubic hair.” You gotta laugh, don’t you?

Who should see this show?

Well your readers obviously. If you like 70s rock, classic Doctor Who, Horror and can’t get tickets to the League Of Gentlemen reunion then this is the Comedy Show for you! Also you get to see a hairy man sweating through a whole trench coat in an hour so there is honestly something for everyone.

The Story Beast: This Is Bardcore is on 9pm This Saturday at 2Northdown in London’s Kings Cross
https://www.tickettext.co.uk/2-northdown/thisisbardcore/



Wanderings With The Fae No.3. The Faceless Man of Crosspatrick.

Wanderings with the fae. A photographic journal of places of atmosphere, folklore, history and strangeness, found on my travels around Ireland.

Crosspatrick Graveyard lies just outside the village of Killala and therein stands the strangely faceless monument to Thomas Mulloy. His hands crossed on his chest as if in death, he looms, unnerving and eerie.

Being a respected local stonemason Thomas took the time to carve his own memorial prior to his passing, adorned with strange angels and staring faces.

Legend has it that Thomas left five shillings in his will to anyone who could close the bottom button of his stone jacket. In 1926 a severe storm blew poor Thomas over, strangely the only damage was that his face was sheared clean off.

It is said that the graveyard is the site of a battle between St Patrick and a number of Druids, when he defeated them he struck the ground with his staff and there sprung forth a spring and at the site he then built a church. Maybe it’s no surprise that Hawthorn now grows across the site…. maybe the Druids have not forgotten… maybe they sent the wind that felled Thomas…..

(Photography by Jackie Taylor. Crosspatrick Graveyard, Killala, County Mayo, Summer 2016)

Book Review- Midnight Movie Monographs: Spirits Of The Dead by Tim Lucas

Midnight Movie Monographs are a series of books covering forgotten grindhouse gems. Films in the series including Death Line, Martin and Theatre Of Blood. This volume focuses on the anthology of Poe adaptations of Spirits Of The Dead (also known as Histories Extraordinaires). It provides a meticulously detailed account of the film’s genesis and production, an analysis of each segment (Metzengerstein directed by Roger Vadim, William Wilson directed by Louis Malle, and Toby Damnit directed by Federico Fellini), it’s afterlife on various formats after release as well as the original stories that inspired the film.
Although overshadowed by the better known AIP versions of Poe’s works, Spirits Of The Dead is an interesting curiosity, which as Lucas points out, straddles the line between grindhouse and arthouse, both surreal and shocking. One of the most interesting inclusions in the book was the impact it had on the author, who saw it at a young age, then describes a failed attempt to secure a repeat viewing at the cinema (which is both endearing and a salient reminder about how easy we have it these days, where practically any cultural artefact can be accessed in a matter of minutes via the internet). The author’s love of the film comes through on every page.
The chapters analyzing each segment give a scene by scene breakdown, with the production background discussed and comparisons with the source material made. The chapter on the Fellini segment was particularly interesting, coming at a difficult time in his life, when he’d suffered illness and bereavement and this is explored in detail.
Overall, this is a heavyweight look at this film, perhaps not for the casual reader but if you are a fan of the film, this is unquestionably the definitive look at it.
You can order a copy here.

Wanderings With The Fae No.2. The Lost Cottage.

Wanderings with the fae. A photographic journal of places of atmosphere, folklore, history and strangeness, found on my travels around Ireland.

Sometimes you find things totally by accident. Sometimes these places have a greater resonance than those you visit deliberately.

Sometimes you wander deeper into the woods than you meant to, but something calls you on.

When the path into the woods becomes narrower, thinner, wilder, and just at the point when you wonder should you turn back, something catches your eye through the trees.

Miles from any road, from any other inhabitation, the lost cottage sits in a clearing.

As a chill atmosphere filled the air, I could only imagine who lived there last, who left it to succumb to the whims of the forest. I walked away with more haste than I arrived.

Sometimes you can never find these places again, sometimes there is a reason for that…………

(Photography by Jackie Taylor. An unknown location somewhere on the Mayo/Sligo border. Winter 2016)