Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults – Third Announcement.

Ok so this is our third announcement for Folk Horror Revival’s Witch Cults event on 14 July at The Star and Shadow cinema in Newcastle, and as you can probably see the lineup is starting to take shape. Only two things to announce today, but we still have a number of amazingly cool things to bring you before the lineup is complete. Anyway back to today and firstly we have another addition to our musical lineup.

PEG POWLER

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Peg Powler are a four piece acoustic band from the Teesside and North Yorkshire areas performing original material, traditional folk songs and blues & jazz standards. Their original material embraces literary motifs, contemporary life and traditional, mythical and historical influences.  They play regularly at folk, poetry and literary festivals, folk and acoustic events and are the house band at Folklines, Middlesbrough’s contemporary evening of music and spoken word.

They take their name from the mythical hag of the River Tees, a grindylow who is said to grab children and wayward young men who stray too close to the bubbling river’s edge and devour them in her watery den, known as Hell’s Kettles.

Peg Powler’s debut album, Northern Lines is available on iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.

Band members:

Ian Bartholomew: Guitar/Vocals/Songwriting;

Sara Dennis: Vocals/Ukulele/Harmonium/Percussion/Songwriting;

Mags Forward: Fiddle/Backing Vocals;

Graham Brotton: Double Bass/Guitar/Backing Vocals.

http://www.pegpowlerband.co.uk

@pegpowlerband

#pegpowler

 

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING…

‘The best new folk band in the North.’

Andy Willoughby, Poet, Literary Director and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing.

 

‘Beautifully dark and twisted folk music with a macabre streak a mile wide.’

Bob Fischer, BBC Tees

 

Peg Powler are a North East band standing firmly in the present but with roots running deep into the past. Drawing upon wealth of folklore, myth and history their powerful original songs bring us face to face with a host of wyrd characters, dangerous situations and dark dramas that remind us of our own challenges and of how our own choices will shape our futures. This is beautiful, breath-taking and intelligent music.

Bob Beagrie, Poet, Literary Director and Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing.

 

‘It’s common nowadays when trying to describe musicians to say they are a little bit of this or that, well if it helps, Peg Powler are like early Fairport mixed with the Strawbs, and dash of Pentangle. But more than all of this, their music sounds like home to me. Sara Dennis’s lilting voice with an edge of jazz to it would be equally at home in a Greenwich Village jazz cellar, but the music is rooted on the banks of the Tees, singing about the water witch, the eponymous Peg Powler or the all-American Emily Dickinson. It’s all here.’

Peter Lagan, Lutenist

 

 

Also joining our carefully curated programme of films we have a classic witchcraft documentary from the golden age of witchcraft films, 1970s.

 

 

Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri (Witchcraft 70)

Angeli-Bianchi...Angeli-Neri

We are proud to present a very rare screening of the European version of Luigi Scattini’s ‘Witchcraft 70’ documentary. This is a very different print than the American version of the film, it starts with grave desecrations in Highgate Cemetery London that is not in the US print. Featuring a wonderful score by Piero Umiliani, that really helps give the documentary the feel of classic Italian horror movies at the time. The film is very much a product of its era and the voice over sometimes contains some ‘groovy’ dialogue.

This version features extended footage of British witches Alex and Maxine Sanders preparing a ritual. The film also covers a black mass and Anton La Vey and the Church of Satan as well as voodoo rituals. The documentary does not differentiate between Satanism, black magic and witchcraft and puts them in a melting pot together to make a heady psychedelic brew. Copies of this movie are very hard to come by as it’s never been officially released on DVD and the last screenings of it in the UK took place in the 70’s, today we present the best sourced version that we can find. Witchcraft 70 is certainly a product of its era, the film does contain nudity and animal sacrifice that may upset some viewers. This is the extended 90 minute version, we show it here as a time capsule of when witchcraft was at its public height within the media consciousness.

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They join those already announced on the lineup that promises to be one of the truly outstanding witchcraft related events of the year. So far we have:

Speakers – Darren Charles, Gail-Nina Anderson, and Bob Beagrie

Films – Simon King of the Witches, and Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri

Musical performances – Peg Powler, Hokano, Heartwood Institute, and Black Mountain Transmitter.

Still come we have more wonderful speakers, more amazing musical acts, a selection of specially chosen short films, and even more exciting things taking place which I can’t reveal to you just yet.

Tickets for either the full day or just the evening event are available from the eventbrite link below:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

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Our second Witch Cults Announcement is Here.

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The second announcement for our Witch Cults event which takes place at the Star and Shadow Cinema in Newcastle upon Tyne, on July 14th is finally upon us and what a wonderful selection of speakers and musicians we have for your delectation.

Joining our musical programme we have the world’s finest “purveyors of sonic archaeology” The Heartwood Institute

The Heartwood Institute

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Their latest album Secret Rites has been described as “an unholy collision of Throbbing Gristle style proto industrial, kosmiche krautrock and 70’s folk horror soundtracks.” The album’s overriding  focus lies heavily on the witchcraft documentaries of the 1970s, Secret Rites, The Power of the Witch, Witchcraft ’70, and The Legend of the Witches, and in particular the prominent stars of the period Alex and Maxine Sanders, the self appointed King and Queen of the Witches. The album is in their own words ” A hauntological delve into a time when the Occult was making inroads into mainstream media, truly the Age of Aquarius…”

For their performance at Witch Cults you can expect a setlist largely fashioned from the material on this album. We here at Folk Horror Revival are very much looking forward to checking them out on the evening.

Hokano

Hokano

Hokano is the solo project of Andy Hokano, mainly known for his work with the coldwave/neofolk outfit The Psychogeographical Commission and Newcastle based occult drone trio Chonyid. Andy will be performing a set based upon his forthcoming release “Witch Pricker” which is based loosely upon the 1650 Newcastle witch trials.

Gail-Nina Anderson

gail-nina

Gail-Nina Anderson is a cultural historian, lecturer and journalist based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with a specialism in the visual traditions of the Gothic.

She has contributed to the Fortean Times and the Journal of the Folklore Society, as well writing on Victorian art, William Burroughs, fairy traditions, and the Angel of the North. She reviews regularly for The Crack, is an active member of the Dracula Society and is one of the founders/readers for the Lit & Phil’s bi-annual “Phantoms at the Phil” ghost story event. Her third exhibition of weird and wonderful postcards will take place this summer in Newcastle.

We can’t wait to hear Gail-Nina’s talk “Hecate or the Horned Man – was there a God of the Witches?”. How about you guys?

Ok, that’s enough for today’s announcement. So far we have talks from Gail-Nina Anderson, and Darren Charles, Bob Beagrie’s poetry recitals, music from Black Mountain Transmitter, Hokano and The Heartwood Institute, and our first film Simon King of the Witches.  We still have quite a bit to come so please stick with us and hopefully we shall have our next announcement up in a few days time.

Tickets are available now from the eventbrite link below, priced at £25 for the full day event and £15 for the evening event alone.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults – First Announcement!

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Banner design copyright Andy Paciorek and Cobweb Mehers

 

Welcome to this, the first announcement of our exciting Witch-Cults event taking place July 14th in Newcastle upon Tyne, and we have a veritable smorgasbord of good stuff for your delectation.

Ok let’s begin with the first musical announcement for our evening entertainment. (Please note the film screening will also be part of the evening entertainment, this film programme will run twice during the day, once across the afternoon 12-5 and once in the evening 7-12)

 

Black Mountain Transmitter

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Black Mountain Transmitter is the one-man project of J.R. Moore from Northern Ireland. Since 2008 he has been creating instrumental soundscapes influenced by a diet of horror fiction and film, VHS era ‘Video Nasty’ soundtracks, The Radiophonic Workshop and the abject electronics of the early Industrial music pioneers. Known for albums such as “Black Goat of The Woods”, “Playing With Dead Things” and “Oscillator Ritual”, his work has been released by Auris Apothecary (USA), Aurora Borealis (UK) and his own Lysergic Earwax label at http://www.lysergicearwax.bandcamp.com

“Like an old horror film where the special effects are too cheap to give you a real shock, but the ideas are warped enough to make you stay awake afterwards for far longer than you wanted to” – Wire magazine

“The sounds created by Black Mountain Transmitter gives the impression of having been set in motion long ago by some remote force” – Julian Cope.

 

 

Moving onto our daytime programme, this section will be made up of talks, film screenings and one or two other exciting developments still to be announced. Anyway, without further ado here are the details of the first speakers to be announced and the first feature film in our screening programme.

Darren Charles

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Photograph courtesy Graeme K. Cunningham

Folk Horror Revivalist, Unearthing Forgotten Horrors DJ, and member of both The Equestrian Vortex and The Mortlake Bookclub. Darren Charles wears a number of different hats at various times but is very much embedded in the Folk Horror scene. Darren recently completed an MA in History at Newcastle University and will be using his expertise to discuss either Historical Accuracy/ Inaccuracy in relation to the Cinema of Witchcraft, or The Newcastle Witch trials.

He has previously spoken on the topic of Folk Horror at Cambridge University, The British Museum, Edinburgh Summerhall, The Hepworth, Wakefield, and most recently at The Scottish Pagan Federation Conference at the Pleasance in April. Darren is a longstanding member of the Folk Horror Revival admin group and is currently hard at work on several book projects.

 

 

Bob Beagrie

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Photograph Courtesy Kev Howard

Bob Beagrie, award winning poet and performer has published 7 collections of poetry most recently This Game of Strangers (Wyrd Harvest Press 2017) and Leasungspell (Smokestack Books 2016). His work has been translated into Finnish, Estonian, Danish, Urdu, Dutch and Swedish. He is a founder member of the experimental word and music collective Project Lono and a Senior Lecturer at Teesside University.

Bob will perform sections from the epic poem The Seer Sung Husband, a verse novel about Old Mother Shipton and ill fated rebellion against Henry VIII known as The Pilgrimage of Grace.

 

Simon, King of the Witches

simon

This gloriously campy over the top horror movie from 1971 directed by American racing driver turned director Bruce Kessler is the first title for our film programme. A psychedelic cult classic that so far remains unreleased on these shores in any format. It stars Andrew Prine as Simon Sinestrari, a ceremonial magician, who’s ambition it is, to become a god. Simon lives in a storm drain, selling charm and potions as a means of getting by. The film is a wild psychedelic freak out with drugs, parties, Satanic rituals and all kinds of lysergic madness and mayhem. Over the years Simon has become a beloved cult classic and Folk Horror Revival are excited to be bringing Simon to the big screen at the Star and Shadow, Newcastle.

Don’t forget this is only the first announcement so loads more fascinating content still to come, we’ve barely scratched the witch…err I mean surface. Anyway ticket links are now operational and the pricing structure is as follows:

Full day ticket (12noon -1am)      £25

Evening only tickets (7pm-1am)  £15

Both are available from the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-witch-cults-tickets-45698031041

 

 

Toll Booths and Black lakes – The birth of a new Folk Horror film maker

Last year I was very privileged to be invited to the Fear in the Fens Festival as a guest speaker to present ` Otherworldly – an introduction to Folk Horror.’ As a part of that event there was screening of several amateur short films with a Folk Horror thread running through their themes and atmospheres. The best of this crop was the outstanding, spooky and tense `Toll Booth’. On my way home from this event due to railway works there was a bumpy bus ride along dark unfamiliar Norfolk roads and lanes during which I had the pleasure of chatting to the director of Toll Booth – Martin Stocks.

Since then I have kept an eye out for Martin and his work and it came as no surprise

when I saw Toll Booth picking up award after award at multiple film festivals. So far it had won 6 awards including the Gold Award for Best Thriller at LA Shorts Award; and Best Screenplay at Canada International Film Festival as well as being nominated for the Yorkshire Film Award at Leeds International Film Festival – making it eligible for the BAFTAS and Oscars!

The film is focused on Terry on his first night as the keeper of an isolated toll booth which is seemingly haunted by the fact that his predecessor disappeared from his post in mysterious circumstances.

Boredom – it is by no means a busy booth – starts to play on Terry’s mind and eventually he steps out into the mist to investigate and explore his new surroundings. However isolated as he is in this remote eerie landscape Terry oHostarts to get the feeling that there’s something out there lurking in the surrounding fog…something sinister and possibly otherworldly. The paranoid loneliness of the toll booth seems preferable however to the unnerving uncertainty of what is outside the protection of its flimsy clapboard walls.

Each customer who comes to pay their toll seem poised to be a terrifying new twist and each one adds to the nerve wracking tension…….until…


Black Lake

Somehow, whilst touring Toll Booth to film festivals around the globe, Martin has found time to start work on a very adventurous and ambitious project indeed – an animated short thriller called Black Lake.

….A man wakes in a dark, foggy, beautiful, yet hostile world after causing a fatal car crash. He navigates this place, initially spellbound by its stunning ethereal nature, and its pitch black lake with small floating stars. Dread quickly sets in as he realises the malevolent dangers lurking beneath the surface of this half-dead world. He is forced to confront his darkest fears and face the ultimate sacrifice to escape…..

Over to Martin –

“For this dark and compelling story, we are creating a starkly beautiful yet hostile world that our protagonist is thrown into. This project explores the concept of purgatory in a different and surprising way. It is also a taut narrative that will grab viewers by the throat and not let up until the end credits. We aim to produce a visually stunning thriller which will leave you breathless.
There is a multi-talented animation team on board to achieve my ambitious vision. This film will act as a proof of concept for a feature version that we are developing. as I think the script is one of the best things I’ve written. It explores complex themes like guilt, isolation and redemption – and creates a beautiful visual world. With the animation team we have in place I’m really excited to see them realise this stunning world. This film is also a big stepping stone for me as a director looking to move into feature films. Producing this with a proper budget will help me create a beautiful, compelling and touching film…… The success of Toll Booth has shown that I can produce films that engage with audiences and gain critical recognition. I want this film to be so good that it cannot be ignored by the industry and it helps my team get the exposure, recognition and opportunities they deserve.”

All of this vision needs support so if you want to help Martin and the team see their vision come to life there are options and rewards for those wishing to donate and be a part of an exciting project….

You can watch a trailer and read more about the project by following this link.

About the team:

This is the follow-up to Martin Stocks’ (writer/director) short thriller Toll Booth. This has won 6 awards including, Best Thriller at LA Shorts Awards and Best Screenplay at Canada International Film Festival. It was nominated for The Yorkshire Film Award at BAFTA and Oscar-qualifying Leeds International Film Festival. A feature version is in development.

James Wren is producing, having made several feature films. The Man You’re Not features Reece Sheersmith and Joanna Lumley, and recently premiered at East London Film Festival. He also produced short horror/comedy The Monster with Film London, which screened at over 50 festivals and won numerous awards.

Gabhriela Swan Gabhriela is a London-based Illustrator, Designer and Concept Artist whose creative practice takes many forms. From environment visualisation and character design for film to animation and fashion. Easily-identifiable by their trademark ethereal aesthetic, her illustrations have been recognised by major industry brands from both fashion and film including The Mill, Digital Arts Magazine, Ted Baker and Paul Smith. Her sensitivity to project narratives and ability to communicate stories by new and innovative means has generated commissions given her mysterious, often supernatural imagery, evident across all projects, media and disciplines.

 

The Sermon: A Review

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The Sermon opens with some beautifully shot images of the English countryside haunting, magical and pictureseque they set the scene perfectly. These are followed  by an opening credit sequence that recalls the heyday of Hammer and Amicus films, a lone crow flies into shot and lands in a lonesome tree. A close up of the crow sits behind the films titles, in homage to Piers Haggard’s folk horror classic The Blood on Satan’s Claw. Already this feels like familiar territory.

The story concerns the events of a small rural village somewhere in England. We are presented with images of a young woman and her father, the local preacher preparing for the sermon of the title. She is filling a glass decanter with wine, whilst the father shaves in preparation of the coming events.

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The vast majority of the film’s eleven minutes takes places in the church hall, as the preacher well spoken and charismatic takes centre stage. The sermon itself is unsettlingly homophobic in nature and makes for incredibly uncomfortable viewing. What it does is, it sheds a little light on the attitudes of the community, its people and its prejudices. The preacher’s hateful attack on homosexuality is strikingly outmoded to us in today’s world, and yet the congregation is supprtive of his principles. It highlights perfectly for me the positive changes that we as a people have undergone over the last 50 or 60 years in our attitudes to sexuality. I am reminded somewhat of The Wicker Man, in that we are presented with a rural community isolated not only geographically but also from modern liberal thought. One imagines how Sgt Howie must have felt upon finding out that certain archaic practices were still being practiced many years after popular belief in them had faded away.

The final twist in the tail is a satisying turn, it is harsh and unpleasant in its execution, however it makes for a great ending. The film is not yet out on general release so I am unable to discuss the storyline any further at present, other than to say it is an excellent film and well worth checking out if you get the chance.

Overall, The Sermon is a very well made, beautifully scripted short film. The music by Benjamin Hudson and Cape Khoboi fits perfectly,  and it features some genuinely lovely cinematography, that really captures the essence of the English countryside. I am not entirely sure if it was intentional, but several external shots were taken from a low angle. This was very reminiscent of Dick Bush’s amazing cinematography for Blood on Satan’s Claw, where it was used to great effect to hint at how everything rises up from the earth. This may or may not be the case, however I felt compelled to raise it in passing.

sermon director

Director Dean Puckett cut his teeth making documentary films, the most recent of which was released in 2013, Grasp the Nettle highlights the exploits of a group of land rights activists who battle to set up alternative communities in Britain. The Sermon is his second fiction short to have been supported by Creative England and the BFI after the comedy, horror, sci-fi short Circles in 2015. Circles, which was also set in Devon involved paranormal investigators taking their revenge on a group of crop circle hoaxers. I will certainly be looking forward to seeing more from Dean on the evidence of The Sermon.

The Sermon will receive its premiere at the BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival this coming weekend, Saturday March 24th. I have included more information for those interested in checking out this excellent folk horror gem.

BFI Flare: Altered States

 

`Unburied’ – Folk Horror takes centre stage.

From the creators of BADD : Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons comes their new project, UNBURIED – in part inspired by the first FHR event `Otherworldy’ held at the British Museum in 2016.

In 1978, HTV produced a six-part children’s Folk Horror serial called ‘Unburied’. The tapes are now missing, presumed destroyed. In the subsequent decades, its existence has become the stuff of myth. But as its 40th anniversary approaches, it’s time to dig up what little information we have on this enigmatic footnote in television history

Join Folk Horror enthusiast, Carrie Marx, as she conducts a personal investigation into the cracks in our collective memory. Beginning with a study of British television classics such as ‘Children of the Stones’, ‘The Owl Service’, and ‘Doctor Who’, Marx leaves no stone unturned as she unearths a terrifying mystery, buried in our cultural past.

Carrie’s fellow Hermetic Arts partner Chris Lince found time in their busy preparation and rehearsal schedule to speak to FHR – “UNBURIED is a mystery we’ve been delving into for the past year, and it’s taken us further back, and deeper down, than we would have ever expected. There’s lots to enjoy for fans of weird 1970s TV, but also for those interested in the hauntological and how the ghosts of the past impact on our future.”

When we questioned Chris about their approach to this production his reply will no doubt sound like a folk horror revivalist idea of heaven – but I imagine the fact that a self-written, acted and produced piece of theatre is the desired end result will have added many stresses and worries to this otherwise wonderful sounding use of one’s time….

“We were already fans of a lot of Folk Horror films (and I had watched all of Doctor Who, apart from those elusive missing 97 episodes…) but it was only since attending the British Museum Folk Horror Revival event in 2016 that we started specifically delving into the television of that era. We adore all of Nigel Kneale’s work, and spent a good chunk of Christmas holed up watching MR James adaptations.
In terms of research, Richard Molesworth’s book “Wiped”, Stephen Brotherstone and Dave Lawrence’s “Scarred For Life”, “The Edge Is Where The Centre Is” edited by SS Sandhu and, of course, Adam Scovell’s “Folk Horror” and “Field Studies” edited by Andy Paciorek and Katherine Beem, all proved invaluable, as well as blog posts by Howard Ingham, Phil Sandifer, and Jack Graham….. and from watching a lot of 1970s TV. We made a ‘Children of the Stones’ pilgrimage to Avebury last year, and spent a lot of time discussing how best to translate the ideas of Folk Horror into a live show. Film and TV benefits so much from being shot in genuinely ancient landscapes, so to create a stage show we’ve tried to approach the themes and concerns of Folk Horror from a slightly different angle…”

The Show runs from 7th – 11th March at Waterloo East Theatre as part of the VAULT Festival. Tickets are available via the booking link (vaultfestival.com/whats-on/unburied)

HERMETIC ARTS is a multidisciplinary producing partnership, creating genre work in theatre, film, podcasting, and animation. It is 50% Chris Lincé and 50% Carrie Marx. Specialising in the Dark Arts, Horror, Cryptozoology, Mischief, Science Fiction, and Odd Stuff, their previous show, BADD, (a theatrical exploration into the 1980s US Satanic Panic) premiered at the 2017 VAULT Festival, before transferring to the Brighton Fringe, and a sell-out run at the London Horror Festival.

To keep up with what Chris and Carrie are doing follow them (@hermetic_arts) on Twitter. If you’re interested in knowing more, or getting involved, contact them at info@hermetic-arts.co.uk

 

THE TRIANGLE OF ART: This symbol represents the protected space outside the magic circle, into which spirits are compelled to appear in Solomonic ritual magic. Its function is to concentrate the spirit being invoked into one space so that it can be seen visibly. The purpose of the triangle is to keep the manifested entity contained.

HERMETIC ARTS is committed to protecting its audience from any entities that may be manifested.

We will hand over again to Chris Lince for the final word –

“There are a lot of similarities between the creation of artistic work and the ritual behaviours of religions and mystical practices. Good theatre, like a good séance, brings people together to explore the past and dream of the future.”

 

Folk Horror Revival Presents Winter Ghosts, Whitby December 2017

(Folk Horror Revival Presents Winter Ghosts 2017)

Folk Horror Revival Presents Winter Ghosts 2017

Folk Horror Revival presents Winter Ghosts Where better to spend an engaging winter’s evening in the compan…

Where better to spend an engaging winter’s evening in the company of the Folk Horror Revival group, than in the beautiful coastal town of Whitby. This event promises to be one of the highlights of the wyrd calendar, and is most definitely not to be missed.

In the intimate setting of The Metropole, Whitby, we cordially invite you to join us for our winter soiree, a gathering of the clans on the North Yorkshire coast. Folk Horror Revival present a series of exhilarating talks and musical performances for your terpsichorean pleasure.
Beginning at 4pm, the event gets under way with a series of thought provoking oratories with a distinctly local flavour, before we plunge headlong into an evening programme of esoteric, auditory treats for the soul.
Talks:
George Cromack – Coastal Terrors
Elaine Edmunds – The Tell Tale Art
Bob Fischer – A Story To Shiver To
Followed by – The Flash Company’s Mummer’s Play

Live Music:
The Equestrian Vortex featuring Melmoth the Wanderer
The Soulless Party featuring Chris Lambert
Leasungspell
Inkubus Sukkubus

Poster Image courtesy of Andy Paciorek and Erin Sorrey

Our first Folk Horror Revival Young Artist of the Month

Our Young Artist of the Month for April is Harry Stagg.

Harry is 8 years old and is from East London. He enjoys acting and karate and watching cartoons with his dad. His favourite cartoons are Regular Show, Invader Zim and Ghostbusters. His favourite band is Guns & Roses and his favourite song is Jukebox Hero by Foreigner. Harry really enjoys ghosts and monsters and is learning to play Magic The Gathering (he has already beaten his dad multiple times.)

Harry wants to grow up to be an artist and thanks to the support of the members of Folk Horror Revival, he is more determined than ever and is already planning to make it happen.

Harry’s wonderful drawing of a gargoyle fired the imagination of the admin team and we think he truly captures the essence of his subject. Well done Harry, and congratulations on being our very first Young Artist of the Month.

If you know a young artist aged 16 or under who you feel has produced artwork worthy of inclusion, please email us with “Young Artist” in the title to (folkhorrorrevival@gmail.com). Please remember to include the young artist’s name, age and a short profile, along with a copy of their work.

Requiem For A Village (David Gladwell, 1975)

It’s hard to imagine what a non-native would make of this curious and densely-layered film which manages, quite wonderfully, to be both near-unintelligible and yet to also give voice to the subtle conflicts that lie at the heart of the English countryside, of the English soul.

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Taking as its ostensible plot the day-dreams and mutterings of an elderly man who spends his days cycling back and forth from his housing-estate home to a Sussex country graveyard where he ineffectually clips the grass around the graves with hand shears, Gladwell’s film builds contrast and juxtaposition until the viewer is almost giddy. Even this simple introduction holds multiple layers – the box-like boredom of the estate’s modern homes sits in contrast to the individually-named and hand-crafted gravestones, the old man cycling on a dual carriageway causes the modern cars to swerve and slow – but it is the quieter contrasts that make the film what it is; tarmac and woodland paths, handpainted signs and plastic hoardings, the warm-eyed father’s wedding speech and the councillor’s exhortation to action.

As our near-silent narrator patrols the graveyard, talking quietly of those lying under the soil, he almost literally invokes the past in one of the films many striking scenes. Soil and gravel push upwards to let the village’s past residents emerge once more, not as zombies or ghosts but as waking-dreams that laugh and smile at each other as they are conjured from the old man’s memories. From here, we are taken on a journey through his recollections of life gone by and the film’s core message of the past fighting an ever-losing battle against the modern; a young man (one we slowly realise is an earlier version of the old gardener) marries his young bride, a team of wheelwrights make a cartwheel, fields of grain are scythed into sheaves and the slow procession of days continues. This is interspersed with a sub-plot of the past being erased as modern-day earthmovers and diggers sweep the fields away, razed clean to make way for yet more housing estates, yet more boxes.

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All of this could quite easily become a twee, rose-tinted piece of pastoral aggrandisement, where bucolic bumpkins go about their simple lives with an ignorant joy. Thankfully, this is not the case and Gladwell uses a brief but unsettling montage of sexual violence – shocking even now so who knows what effect it had in the 70s – to show not only the visceral side of the past but also to let us reflect on the unthinking rape that the modern world performs on itself as it plucks up virgin forest, ploughs fertile fields into barren concrete.

In one scene, the old man parks his bike and stands before one of the giant earthmoving machines. Looking for all the world like a peasant facing down the livestock-devouring wolf, or even the tax-extorting baron, he stands and flings a clod of earth at its man-high wheel. It is a feeble gesture, and an ineffectual one, but it is a stand he has to make and, as an old man fading from the world, it is his final stand.

Viewers wanting a return to the horror of films like ‘The Wicker Man’ are likely to be inevitably disappointed but ‘Requiem For A Village’ provides that true horror-of-the-folk in that their ways, the ways they have lived their lives, are no longer viable.

As an aside, Gladwell’s 1964 short work ‘An Untitled Film’ is an excellent companion piece to ‘Requiem For A Village’ and is included as an extra on the BFI DVD. Filmed in slo-mo black & white and using a hauntingly experimental soundtrack, ‘An Untitled Film’ makes the simple act of building a bonfire almost infernal and the killing of a chicken into something horribly elongated. A child leers out from behind tree branches, perhaps in horror or delight. It preludes the daily-routine-as-horror of Bela Tarr’s ‘The Turin Horse‘ by some decades and performs the same function with a subtlety that is startling.

Adam Scovell has written two excellent pieces one both Requiem For A Village and Gladwell’s earlier work for his Celluloid Wicker Man blog.

Dan Hunt, 2016


			

FHR YouTube Channel

The Folk Horror Revival YouTube channel is a selection of group-curated playlists, containing films, TV programmes and documentary channels relevant to the group’s aesthetic. Content for these playlists is generated from submissions and discussion on the Folk Horror Revival Facebook group and from personal researches by the group’s admins.

Due to the nature of YouTube, some content may be removed by the uploader or by YouTube themselves without notice. Equally, some content may not be available in your location.

Please feel to use the comments below to suggest anything you’d like to see added to the playlists.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIBhH_FeGOYQeR38RsNzOGQ