In the bleak Midwinter: Films for Winter Nights

Want to avoid Mrs Brown’s Boys, The Queen’s Speech and whatever else TV throws at us this Christmastide? Of course there’s the great Ghost Stories for Christmas drama series and re-watching childhood favourites such as The Box of Delights but here we take the snow shovel and dig up some other possible additions for your alternative winter watching on the cold dark nights …

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Valkoinen Peura (The White Reindeer) – 1952

The White Reindeer (1952)

Original title – Valkoinen Peura. Directed by Erik Blomberg, this Finn classic concerns itself with a newlywed woman Pirita (played by Mirjami Kuosmanen) who visits a local Sami Shaman for help in spicing up her love-life. The spell cast indeed turns the woman not only into a seductress – but into a true femme-fatale as she now has a vampiric hunger. The White Reindeer’s star has shone brighter again in the advent of the folk horror revival yet this beautiful dark tale deserves to be seen more widely still.

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The Curse of the Cat People – 1944

The Curse of the Cat People (1944)

Directed by Robert Wise and Gunther von Fritsch, The Curse of the Cat People is a sequel to 1942’s Cat People, though it can be watched in isolation as the film differs quite differently from its predecessor (which is certainly well worth a watch also). Less of a ‘horror’ than its antecedent, Curse centres on Amy (Ann Carter) the 6 year old daughter of Ollie Reed (Kent Smith). Amy is a dreamy child who finds herself different and therefore somewhat alienated by her peers. In her solitude she finds an ‘imaginary friend’ who just happens to be the late first wife of her strict and rather arrogant father. In addition to Irena (Simone Simon) – the ghost or daydream first wife and cat person (although cats do not feature in this film), Amy also befriends an old woman – a reclusive former actress with dementia, much to the envy and upset of the woman’s own daughter.

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Morozko -1964

Морозко (Father Frost / Jack Frost) (1964)

Directed by Aleksandr Rou, Morozko or Father Frost is based on Russian folk and fairy tales and follows the trope of a young girl, Nastenka (Natalya Sedykh) who on the cusp of coming of age is ill-treated by a mean and jealous stepmother. Meeting a potential suitor Ivan (Eduard Izotov) doesn’t exactly bode well when a spell turns Ivan’s head into that of a bear. (Looking like a surreal, mangy version of Bungle from British kid’s show Rainbow is one of the reasons this children’s film ends up on a darker film list as it is potential nightmare fuel for some). Folkloric figures such as Morozko – a Russian winter spirit who has traits of both Father Christmas and Jack Frost and witchy favourite Baba Yaga also serve to make this film a weird watch.

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Wind Chill – 2007

Wind Chill (2007)

Directed by Gregory Jacobs. When a university student accepts a car share lift at the start of the Christmas holidays she soon realises that the driver is not exactly whom he claims to be, yet as they are driven off the road in a remote area in sub-zero conditions there is more still to worry about as both the present and the past threaten to claim their lives.

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Kwaidan – 1965

Kwaidan (1965)

Directed by Masaki Kobayashi and based upon Japanese ghost stories and folk-tales collected and translated by the folklorist Lafcadio Hearn is a classic of Japanese cinema. Though the whole portmanteau film is a visual delight, it is the Yuki-Onna tale that most concerns us here today. In this segment two men are caught out in a winter blizzard and seek refuge in a fisherman’s hut. During the night, their shelter is violated by a beautiful yet deadly woman of the snow. One man loses his life but their supernatural assailant takes pity on the other due to his youth and good looks. She warns him never to speak of what happened that night, but his life remains haunted by the strange encounter.

Blogging By Cinema-light: The Fearless Vampire Killers
The Fearless Vampire Killers – 1967

The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967)

Also known as Dance of the Vampires and Pardon Me, But Your Teeth are in My Neck is directed and co-written by and stars Roman Polanski. Polanski is understandably and justifiably a difficult figure due to the crimes he has committed in his off screen life. Whether to divorce art from artist or to bypass the work of contentious or criminal figures is a personal choice, but within the realm of film it is a case that the output is a communal effort of many members of crew and cast. And together they have produced a strange addition to the many Vampire films out there. Set in the dead of winter, this comedy -horror film has the look and feel of Slavic fairy-tale cinema and has a great soundtrack by Krystof Komeda. It is notable also for starring Sharon Tate – the former wife of Polanski and tragic victim of the Manson Family Murders.

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Troll Hunter – 2010

Troll Hunter / Trolljegeren (2010)

Directed by André Øvredal, the Norwegian found-footage / mockumentary telling the tale of a young film crew investigating a man (Otto Jespersen) whose occupation is that of a Troll Hunter sounds like it could be a disaster but it is actually well worth giving a chance to. It is a fun atmospheric jaunt into an aspect of horror folklore that is generally less widely explored in cinema than other monsters. And in the final segment you can almost feel the cold.

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Ravenous – 1999

Ravenous (1999)

Directed by Antonia Bird and set in the Sierra Nevada in the 19th Century, we witness both the hard conditions of weather and war that may set a person on a desperate path but also we see the unfolding of a supernatural curse. Seeking inspiration from such tragic real historical events such as the Donner Party migration and the folklore of first nations people, Ravenous shows us what happens when people become afflicted with the curse of Wendigo-possession.

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November – 2017

November (2017)

Though November may technically be regarded as autumn, this Estonian film is cold and dark enough to make our winter watch-list. Directed by Rainer Sarnet, November tells the tale of a 19th Century Estonian village that is beset by spirits of pestilence. In a bid to survive the harsh conditions, villagers turn to theft involving nefarious and esoteric means but it becomes an obsession outweighing their needs and no good can come of that. November boasts some especially stunning cinematography.

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The Lodge – 2019

The Lodge (2019)

Directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala and produced by the revived Hammer studios, The Lodge in keeping with Hammer’s revival has no resembelance to their campy gothic output of the 1950s, 60s and 70s but is instead as dark and chilling as its intense wintery setting. Following the suicide of their mother, a pair of children accompany their father and his new lover, Grace, to a remote lodge for a Christmas holiday. Whilst their father is called back to the city by work commitments, the children, who resent Grace, discover that she was the sole survivor of a death cult. As strange events occur within the isolated chalet, their survial, mortality and existence come into grievous question.

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Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka – 1961

Evenings on A Farm Near Dikanka / Вечера на хуторе близ Диканьки (1961)

Based on the story ‘ The Night Before Christmas’ by Nikolai Gogol ; Evenings is directed by Aleksandr Rou and shares the same visual and atmospheric strangeness of his later more well known film Morozko. Amid the seasonal revelry in a snowy Ukrainian village a blacksmith Vakula, (Yuri Tavrov) seeks the aid of the devil to transport him to St. Petersburg in Russia so that he may obtain a pair of slippers belonging to the Empress, in a bid to woo a local maiden Oksana (Lyudmyla Myznikova).

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Black Robe – 1991

Black Robe (1991)

Directed by Bruce Beresford and though not a horror film as such the aesthetic, setting and grim events portrayed in this Canadian film should likely appeal to many fans of folk horror. In it we journey with a Jesuit priest Father LaForgue (Lothaire Bluteau) and his mostly Algonquin travel party across the wilderness of New France in winter as he intends to establish a new Christian mission in a far-off village. In addition to the terrain and hard weather, prophetic dreams, old faith and hostile strangers mar their way.

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Winter’s Bone-2010

Winter’s Bone (2010)

Again not a horror film, Debra Granik’s Winter’s Bone will nonetheless appeal to some fans of the Backwoods and Midwestern Gothic sub-genres. A 17 year old girl. Ree (Jennifer Lawrence) is struggling in impoverished circumstances to look after her troubled mother and her brother and sister in the absence of their father imprisoned for the production of meth amphetamine. Survival is paramount to Ree who strives to teach her siblings how to live off the land but more troubles still fall upon the family due to the missing patriarch’s involvement in the meth trade.

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Let The Right One In – 2008

Let The Right One In / Låt den rätte komma in (2008)

Adapted from John Ajvide Lindqvist’s novel, Tomas Alfredson’s movie is a beautiful piece of cinema. When a strange young gir Eli ( Lina Leandersson) moves into a Stockholm apartment complex in the early 1980s, she strikes up a friendship with a 12 year old boy Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant) who is something of an outsider himself and a target of school bullies. However there is a lot more to Eli than meets the eye as we discover in this atmospheric slow-burning tale.

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The Blackcoat’s Daughter – 2015

The Blackcoat’s Daughter / February (2015)

Directed by Osgood Perkins, The Blackcoat’s Daughter centres around a Catholic girls’ boarding school in upstate New York. Whilst most of the pupils have headed home for the winter vacation, Kat (Kiernan Shipka) and Rose (Lucy Boynton) find themselves left behind and despite their difference in school age and personality types, they find their lives fatefully entwined and to that of a young woman called Joan (Emma Roberts) who escapes from an insane asylum some years after the girls’ stories unfold.

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning – 2004

Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning (2004)

The third of the Ginger Snaps franchise (this time directed by Grant Harvey) differs from the coming of age contemporary-times werewolf tale of the first two of the film series by taking the story back further to the early 19th Century but again starring Katherine Isabelle and Emily Perkins as sisters Ginger and Brigitte. This tale of lycanthropy follows an ill-fated winter trading excursion to the Hudson Bay, whereupon the girls find their way to an abandoned camp and then to a fort, where they find shelter but only the start of their troubles.

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Black Christmas -1974

Black Christmas (1974)

Directed by Bob Clark and also known in the USA as Silent Night – Evil Night has less connection to folk horror than others mentioned here but arguably could fall under our remit as urban wyrd (but who really cares about labels unless they are attached to Christmas presents?) Included because not only is Black Christmas one of the best Christmas slasher horror films, it is quite possibly one of the best Christmas films and Slasher films too. Simple and straightforward yet eerie and rather tense in its execution it tells the story of college girls in a shared accommodation that during the festive season are gifted first with dirty phone-calls and then with a more deadly Christmas presence.

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The Shining – 1980

The Shining (1980)

Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, adapted from Stephen King’s novel of the same name, needs little introduction – both a classic of winter horror and urban wyrd, this story of Jack Torrence (Jack Nicholson) a caretaker and aspiring author succumbing to cabin fever and / or possession whilst holed up in a remote Colorado Rockies hotel over the heavy winter with his wife Wendy (Shelly Duvall) and psychically gifted (or cursed) young son Danny (Danny Lloyd) has a habit of getting under the skin. In it we bear brutal witness to how Jack’s own buried alcohol-induced violence resurfaces towards his family but how also how violence is embedded into the very foundations and sinuous recurring history of the building itself.

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Морозко – 1964

Selection chosen by Andy Paciorek

Spirits of the Season: Portraits of the Winter Otherworld by Dr Bob Curran & Andy Paciorek

Ho ho horror …
As the nights draw in and the turn of the year looms we may seek the comfort of a cosy fireside and a warming drink and think of the approach of Father Christmas … but hark … what is that noise outside, could it be Santa Claus? … or could it be something entirely different … something stranger … more sinister hiding in those cold winter shadows?
In this book Dr Bob Curran introduces us to a whole host of beguiling entities from different countries and different cultures that tread the freezing landscapes in the long nights of winter. Richly illustrated throughout by Andy Paciorek, Spirits of the Season is an ideal companion through the dark and magical days.

6×9 in, 15×23 cm
Hardcover Image wrap + paperback both available
No of Pages: 222.
Illustrated

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Available now from
~ https://www.blurb.co.uk/user/andypaciorek

and available to order from Amazon and other bookstores

Winter Ghosts: What is this What is coming? 2

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On the weekend of 15th and 16th December 2017, a strange mist will fall upon the coastal town of Whitby. From the sea fret will come haunting sounds and tales and more besides. Here over the coming days we shall in turn usher in the ghosts of winter …

To see full line-up and buy tickets visit here

In addition to the live events we are happy to present the Folk Horror Emporium

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On sale at the Emporium will be a wide array of great quality folk horror merchandise. books and art. Plenty of choice for Yule treats for the special folk in your life or for yourself, so bring along a few extra pennies in anticipation of tempting, quality and fairly-priced special things.

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The Emporium is run by Kt Mehers of Honeycake Candles
and Eolith Designs
Eolith Designs showcases the talents of Kt’s husband Cobweb.

if she goes hunting

Cobweb lives in a little house at the edge of the world with his wife Kt and their cats Sekhmet and Baal. He claims to have been sculpting and painting for as long as he can  remember, but it’s been longer than that. In recent years he has devoted himself more and more to sculpture based around mythical and historical themes many of which can be found at www.eolithdesigns.co.uk. In his spare time he paints things he wishes he hadn’t seen, and pokes dead religions with sticks. He’s currently in the early stages of a new project called “Beyond the fields we know”, inspired by the landscape and folklore of the North Pennines. This will include 2D and 3D work and a lot of being very cold in the middle of nowhere seeing things he wishes he wasn’t seeing.

Cobweb will be one of the artists exhibiting in the Decadent Drawing & Winter Ghosts art exhibition at Rusty Shears on Saturday 17th December and at the Hark exhibition at Stuart Duckett Design Shop  

 

 

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Image by Glass Coffin
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Visit us at Winter Ghosts

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Winter Ghosts: What is This? What is Coming? 3Winter Ghosts: What is This What is Coming? 1

Run Krampus Run!!

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Once again Krampus will appear in Whitby for Whitby Krampus Run III.
Taking place on 2nd December the costumed parade led by St Nicholas
will wend it’s way down Church Street collecting for Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary.
Our own particular interpretation and take on the age old European tradition weaves in local folklore,
history and wintry figures alongside our Krampus, Perchten and St. Nicholas.
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This is a celebration of an alternative Yule bringing the wonder and excitement of the season
back to the ideal setting of Whitby’s quaint and cobbled streets turning the East side into Krampus Town.
The parade finishes with a finale letting you decide who will be crowned ‘ The Thing of The North ‘.
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This year Whitby Krampus Run is now a public event with approval of the necessary authorities and support from Tourism.
We’ve got a street collection licence for Whitby Wildlife Sanctuary as this event is a fundraiser for one of our favourite local charities.
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There’s evening entertainment with the usual activities such as raffles associated with fundraisers.
Sponsored visits can be arranged. 
There’s t shirts, flags art and merchandise to help fund the event and a Yule art show from 9th December at Stuart Ducketts shop on Skinner Street.
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The Krampus tradition originates from Austria and other parts of Europe when on the eve of the Feast of St Nicholas
December 5th the Saint visits homes and gives gifts to good children.
He is accompanied by his dark counterpart the Krampus who teases and punishes naughty children.
Krampus festivals or runs are popular across Europe and now in the United States
but until recently have not been held in the UK, with the very first Whitby Krampus Run being held in 2015
which was very well received ( even by naughty children ).
People from a variety of backgrounds have taken part in previous years including family groups and their children.
The interpretation of the event has been planned taking into account a UK audience unfamiliar with the story.
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Although potentially a scary figure children do encounter him comfortably with support of parents.
Never forget St. Nicholas is always in charge of the Wild Things.
Similar themes run through fairytales, legends and stories loved by families.
Parental discretion is advised for attendance at the event which will be taking place
from 3.30pm until 6.00pm although costumed characters may be in the area before and after the parade.
For more information visit

Christmas on the Black Meadow

A perfect Christmas gift to satisfy all of your Folk Horror Christmas cravings…

Do you see shadows in the mist? Are you stalked by meadow hags? Do you long to play with black stars? Do you crave a darker yule? Then this book could be for you!

It is Christmas on the North York Moors.

The snow sits upon the heather and bramble. The fences around RAF Fylingdales are silent and still. A dense mist grows in the distance. If you listen closely you can hear strange Yuletide chants, the hum of a land sphere and the cackle of a meadow hag.

This collection of Christmas tales from the Black Meadow contains three new Yuletide stories. Experience a beautiful inversion of The Nativity in A Black Meadow Christmas, warm your toes in a tale of matriarchal terror in The Meadow Tree and marvel at the delightful wonders of The Black Star. You will also find details of ideal gifts you could give and games that you can play when visiting the Black Meadow.

With beautiful illustrations by Andy Paciorek and Nigel Wilson, this is a festive treat that will bring joy and fear in equal measure to your Christmas celebrations.

All profits from the sale of this book go to Worldwide Cancer Research.

Click here to buy!