Wyrd Kalendar; A Year of the Truly Unusual

The turning of the year provides ‘Tales From The Black Meadow’ author Chris Lambert with the thematic basis for his new ‘Wyrd Kalendar’ compendium, a collaboration with illustrator and Folk Horror Revival creator Andy Paciorek. Each darkly spun tale matches with a chosen month of the year, providing a folkloric and portmanteau feel to the book, with Paciorek’s richly detailed and haunting artwork prefacing the individual chapters.

This work therefore takes us from the frostbitten and hungry underground denizen in January’s ‘The Resolution’ (a tale of Lovecraftian imagination with a conclusion that will stay with you long after you have closed the pages of the book) to the terrifying timeslips of ‘February 31st’, the ‘king for a day’ twists and turns of April’s chilling ‘Chasing The Gowk’ to the twisted and disturbed nursery rhyme of ‘May Pole’. As the wheel of the year spins increasingly faster the sense of the unsettling and macabre if anything increases, ‘June Bug’s hugely effective body horror is reminiscent of one of Nigel Kneale’s scripts from ‘Beasts’ whilst July’s ‘Grotto Day’ is a deeply unusual and disquieting take on the brownie or ‘little people’ legend. August’s ‘The Weeping Will Walk’ is distilled folk horror, both subtle and suggestive in what darkness lies within the village ritual; October’s ‘The Field’ continues this folkloric aspect to even bloodier and satisfyingly grimmer heights. There is a distinct filmic or theatrical quality inherent in these dread tales; one can easily imagine a number of these being either staged or filmed; never mind ‘A Ghost Story For Christmas’, how about ‘A Ghost Story For Each Season’? November’s pitch black poem ‘All Saint’s Day’ (where the blood almost drips from the page) and December’s festive yet foreboding ‘Santa Claus And The Witch’ bring the Kalendar to a fittingly horrific close; yet there is the distinct impression that the spectres and wraiths contained herein will undoubtedly start back at their practices as before, the cycle of the year bringing them once more to terrible and terrifying life.

For aficionados of folk horror, weird fiction (especially readers of Robert Aickman’s dark and unusual stories), of Lambert’s excellent previous outing ‘Tales From The Black Meadow’ and of Paciorek’s intricate and beautiful ink work this volume comes highly recommended. We all must keep and mark our time; why not do so with the Wyrd Kalendar?

Grey Malkin.

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Borley Rectory Review

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It’s on nights like these when the evenings are drawing in and the chill winds blow that there is something quite comforting about sitting down in front of a roaring fire to enjoy a classic ghost story. The sort of thing that was once the domain of the BBC and their delightfully eerie Ghost Stories for Christmas, or those old dark house tales that were so prevalent in the 1920s and 30s. It is therefore pleasing that in this age of technological advancements a film like Borley Rectory comes along and takes us right back to those heady days. Ashley Thorpe’s film, a dramatic documentary tells us the story of the most haunted house in England.

Borley Rectory has been a massive undertaking for Thorpe, it has eaten up the last six years of his life. A project that has turned his home into his studio, and his life upside down. There is a truly wonderful cast of actors involved in the project who have helped to bring it to life, Reece Sheersmith, Jonathan Rigby, Julian Sands as the narrator, there is even a brief cameo from Folk Horror Revivalist Christopher Stagg, as the site workman. Music comes from the ever-reliable Steven Severin, the former Banshee turned soundtracker of all things dark, damnable and disturbing providing a score that fits perfectly, providing chills in all the right places.

The film itself is a mix of live action and animation, shot entirely in black and white and using a variety of methods to make it feel as though it was a product of the era in which it is set. Thorpe has created a beautiful, inspired slice of cinema that echoes those classic films of yesteryear with aplomb. This is certainly no pastiche on what has gone before but a loving recrafting of an artform almost lost.

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The story, one that is probably familiar to many of you, is that of Borley Rectory, a Victorian house built in 1862 in Borley, Essex. It was alleged to have been haunted from the very beginning, stories focus on the historical flourishing of a relationship between a Benedictine monk and a nun from a nearby monastery in the fourteenth century. After their association was uncovered the monk was purported to have been executed and the nun bricked up alive inside the walls of the convent. Many of those living and working in the rectory, from the point at which it was built in 1862 onwards claimed to have seen the ghostly apparitions of the monk and the nun, and experienced various other paranormal experiences, ringing bells, ghostly writing, and screams to name but a few.

The first half of the documentary concentrates on setting up the story, and providing the viewer with a comprehensive history of the house, from its building in 1862 through to the late 1920s. The second half of the film focuses on the time spent at the rectory of Daily Mirror journalist V.C. Wall (Sheersmith) and paranormal investigator Harry Price (Rigby). This is the point at which the film comes into its own, the séance sequences are wholly reminiscent of those wonderful old spiritualist photographs from the Victorian era. Thorpe beautifully builds tension during these scenes, by keeping things simple and relatively understated. The whole thing works beautifully, and the ghostly apparitions are treated with care and attention to detail. Rigby and Sheersmith are excellent in their respective roles and Julian sands is perfect as the narrator.

Overall Borley Rectory is a triumph, well written, beautifully animated, and filmed, and with such attention to detail that it draws the viewer deeper into its web. Ashley Thorpe’s hard work has paid off. If you have the chance to catch this in a cinema make the effort, it truly is worthy of your time.

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Borley Rectory will be screened as part of Folk Horror Revival’s The Unseelie Court, in Edinburgh on Saturday 21st October, and director Ashley Thorpe will be on hand to answer a few of your questions about the film.

 

https://www.summerhall.co.uk/event/folk-horror-revival-unseelie-court/

 

We are the Martians Review

The world seems caught between a misty shape in the shadowed ruins of an old church and the ghostly blips on a radar screen, each summoning their own form of existential dread.” (Mark Chadbourn)

Edited by Neil Snowdon, We Are the Martians has been a long time coming. The project endured a series of frustrating setbacks a year or two back which were beyond the control of the editor. Thankfully for us Snowdon’s ambition and determination to get the book into the marketplace has paid off, and the results are pretty spectacular. Published by PS Publishing, We Are the Martians is everything we hoped it would be and possibly even more.

22447547_10155053947778519_228679050_nThe book opens with Tim Lucas’s obituary of Kneale, and represents a clear indicator of the esteem with which this most special of scriptwriters was held. Lucas demonstrates an enormous amount of love and respect for Kneale’s oeuvre, and his words sets the tone perfectly for the rest of the book. The foreword comes from Mark Gattis. in which he talks briefly of an afternoon spent in the company of Kneale and his wife Judith and of the projects that most greatly affected him during his formative years. Again, one is instantly struck by the reverence afforded to Kneale by a man whose own television career relies so heavily upon the groundwork put in by Kneale and a handful of other revolutionaries who made the 1960s and 70s such an amazing, and creative time. Either way Gattis knows a thing or two about what constitutes good television, his own work with Pemberton, Sheersmith and Dyson draws influence from those televisual pioneers and of course Dyson also features in this volume.

Mark Chadbourn’s chapter on the hauntological aspect of Kneale’s life and times is a fascinating document destined to be read repeatedly by aficionados of such works. The aforementioned Tim Lucas guides us through his captivating insight into the written works of Kneale and further chapters from Kim Newman, Stephen Volk, Ramsey Campbell, Mark Morris and Jonathan Rigby to name but a few of those involved, show the great importance and diversity of the work done during the decades by Kneale. Newman’s chapter about some of Kneale’s less well-known work is a personal highlight for me specifically as I am less acquainted with the works in question, Newman’s knowledge of film and his fondness for these stories is infectious and the chapter leaves the reader hankering for a viewing. Maura McHugh’s chapter on the influence of Kneale’s writing is interesting and well considered, and provides many interesting talking points. Beyond that, there are a number of chapters offering up the interpretations of the different writers on Kneale classics, Stephen Volk, Jeremy Dyson and Kim Newman are among those happy to unpack Kneale’s work for the readers. In amongst all of this there are a series of interviews conducted by editor Snowdon, which add something more personal to the proceedings, the interview with Kneale’s wife Judith Kerr is a personal favourite.

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Overall the book is a joy to behold, well written and featuring a succession of interesting articles across the board, Snowdon has taken the works by some of the most eloquent commentators in film and television and created an astonishing look at one of the most under-appreciated giants of modern screenwriting. As a huge fan of Nigel Kneale myself I am delighted to have this wonderful volume at my disposal and will be dipping into it time and again over the coming years. If like me you are a fan of Kneale’s work, this volume is essential and works as a wonderful companion piece to Andy Murray’s biography Into the Unknown. We Are the Martians is available as a limited edition deluxe signed edition featuring an additional book containing the script for The Big, Big Giggle as well as being available in a standard edition from the PS Publishing website.

(http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/we-are-the-martians-the-legacy-of-nigel-kneale-hardcover-edited-by-neil-snowdon-4286-p.asp)

Classic FHR T-shirts Now on Sale

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Classic Folk Horror Revival T-shirts*
Now available!! Ideal Halloween presents.

LAUNCH DISCOUNT
The first 10 people using code FHR01 will receive a 20% discount when spending £28 or more.
A further 50 people using code FHR02 will receive a 10% discount when spending £28 or more **
Only available from – Hare and Tabor

www.hareandtabor.co.uk/store/p78/Folk_Horror_Revival.html

£14 + P+P (visit website for overseas price and shipping)

*white design on black shirts.
(Ladies fit may become available at a later date depending upon demand)
** Discount Code expires on 7th December 2017

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The Wyrd Kalendar – The October Mix

Wander the Kalendar Heath this October.

Walk towards the inevitable and terrifying Halloween festivities accompanied by BBC Tees and Fortean Times’ own Bob Fischer who will entertain you with extracts from this month’s story "The Field" taken from "The Wyrd Kalendar" (published this month by Wyrd Harvest Press).

As you reach the last few moments of October and Halloween descends, listen out for "The Night Before Samhain" a poem written and performed by Phil Breach.

Enjoy the October and then the Halloween tunes provided by Matt Berry, The Pretty Things, The Mystic Astrological Band, Tommy Makem and Liam Clancy, Judy Dyble and Tim Bowness vs, No Acronym, of Montreal, William Wordsworth, The Cinnamon Ship, James Taylor, U2 (when they were good), Nitin Sawhney, Still Life, David Cain, The Incredible String Band, Haircut 100, Cosmic Overdose, Bill Nelson, Julie London, Dylan Thomas, Harold Budd and Brian Eno, Chris and Cosey, Witch, Emil Richards, Wolf People, Bill Buchanan, Blue Magic, Aqualung, Lou Reed, Rosemary Clooney, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Sandy Denny, Flight of the Conchords, Howlin’ Wolf, Dead Kennedys, Russ Conway, Status Quo, The Guess Who, Sun Ra, Japan, The Misfits, Super Furry Animals, John Carpenter, Gorillaz, Lambert, Hendricks and Ross and Duran Duran.

Mabon ’17: FHR Book Charity Donation

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🍂 Hail Ghostwood and Mabon 🍂

To mark the Autumn Equinox, Folk Horror Revival has again made a seasonal charitable donation of all profits from Wyrd Harvest Press books to a Wildlife Trusts nature conservation project. The winner of the poll as voted for by group members this time was Shropshire Wildlife Trust’s Pine Marten Project.
Happily we have handed over £280.83 to this worthy cause.

Thank You to everyone who voted and especially to those who bought or contributed their time and work freely to our books 🙂

🍂Happy Mabon 🍂

Books still available, more titles to follow in near future –

http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/andypaciorek
Read about & donate directly to appeals –

http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/appeals
Thank You ☼

autumn 2017

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