The Wick – A Folk Horror short.

Wick – The protector of a Witch is just as bad as a Witch.

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In August I had the tremendous honour of being invited to the wonderful Genesis cinema in Whitechapel for a private screening of the new Folk Horror short film `The Wick’. Written, produced by and starring the clearly very talented Michelle Coverley FHR caught up with her to discuss the film, how it has been received and what the future holds for her and The Wick.

Set in the early 19th century in rural England, ‘The Wick’ is a tale of deceit and persecution of a woman who fights for justice against a lawless witch hunter.

The story unfolds seventy-three years after witch trials were banned in the U.K. When Esther, a known herbal healer in a small close knit community, witnesses her friends murder at the hands of a lawless witch hunter, she finds herself entangled in a dangerous web of deceit, blind ignorance and superstition. We track Esther’s head on collision into this dark world and her realization that things clearly need to change. We follow her journey of attempting to put an end to the ignorance and barbarity of these outdated beliefs. This is a universal and timely story of a strong woman, striving for justice and fighting for the rights of the underrepresented and the misunderstood.

`THE WICK’ is a dark, period drama with the village that Esther, our female protagonist lives in, being extremely superstitious to the point that it is 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.

To this day, countless numbers of people are still being accused of witchcraft and persecuted around the world. They have no rights, no voice and are condemned by misguided beliefs

Folk Horror Revival: The Wick is a beautifully shot film with the landscape and nature very firmly embedded into the story telling adding to the sense of isolation that allows suspicion and paranoia to breed in the community. It has definite Folk Horror overtones not least in its subject matter – how do you feel now it is done and being presented as a finished piece? I guess really you are still working on it in a publicist capacity now.

Michelle Coverley: Thank you for such a great review. I’m so happy that people are picking up all those details from the film. That’s exactly what I wanted people to see in ‘The Wick’. I feel amazing now that it’s complete and that it’s setting off on its festival circuit. It was such a long journey to this point. Many ups and downs and so to finally have it finished is a big relief. Both, the director, Sabine Crossen and I are extremely proud of it.

FHR: You must be very pleased with the end result and how it has all come together – can you tell us a bit about some of those different components (location, music, costume, set dressing)

MC: I’m extremely pleased with what my team and I have accomplished. Everything was shot on location in Sussex and we were very lucky to have found those specific places. Thanks to the Weald and Downland museum, The national Trust and Sussex Wildlife Trust, we were able to achieve a very authentic look for ‘The Wick’. Our amazing costume designer, Emma Clark added to that by designing and singlehandedly making all our costumes from scratch. Without her dedication and sheer hard graft, we never would have done it. As well with our talented production designer, Karijn Nijmeijer, who transformed these amazing locations with her magic touch. She traveled all the way from Holland to be with us!

Apart from those visual aspects, the director and I felt it was important to give the film a modern feel, to accentuate the films topical themes so to help the audience observe and connect from a more contemporary point of view. We did this through working with the amazingly talented Micha Theofanopoulou & Hollie Buhagiar on the sound design & music and then with Pooya from Panchroma Studios on the colour grade, choosing vibrant colours and stark contrast.

 

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FHR: I really loved `The Wick’ and I know it got a big round of applause at the private screening I attended. How has it been received? It must be interesting to see how different people respond to the story and its message.

MC: We got an amazing response from all our guests at the private screening. Sabine, the director and I were pretty blown away with it all. Because we have been so close to it for the past year, and I for even longer, it was so amazing to hear the audience notice all the small nuances of the subject matter come though, as well as picking up the bigger picture of the societal corruption and female persecution and to realise that it still has relevance today. I had people coming up to me telling me it really affected them, that it was hard hitting, surprising and shocking but beautiful at the same time.

People wanted to see more which was fantastic to hear! They were also pretty

surprised of the style of music and sound design we chose as it was quite obscure and different to what a ‘classical’ period drama would have used. The director and I were intent on steering clear of making it look and sound like a classic period drama. It’s turned into a period thriller with a modern edge, which I love.

FHR What are you plans for the film now? Will people be able to see it at some point? (is there a feature length version in the pipeline maybe??)

MC: Yes, I would love to make ‘The Wick’ into a full-length feature film, which is the plan. I’m at this minute adapting a treatment I did for it some months ago with a friend who’s in the industry. Watch this space!

For ‘The Wick’ short film, it’s now in the film festival circuit stage. I can’t wait to share with you when it has its world premiere. Short films usually have a two year life span at festivals till you launch it on line or it gets taken up by a distributor. The point of this is to make contacts for future projects and to showcase everyone’s talent who worked on it. I feel indebted to all the amazing people who came on-board. So trying to get it into as many great film festivals as possible is what I’m aiming for. This stage is a whole other ball game. Since finishing post-production, I’ve been scouring the internet late into the night, submitting it into festivals all over the world. Fingers crossed, they start to bite.

FHR: And what about you – what are your plans? Any future projects you can share with folk yet??

MC: After the experience with writing and producing ‘The Wick’, I’m actually pretty interested in directing my next piece. I’ve been collecting images over this past year that inspire an idea I’ve had for a while. It’s still pretty raw and the framework is all over the place but it’s a psychological thriller piece with folk horror and magic realism at its core. I’m also very excited about putting my actor’s hat on again for other people’s projects. That was the whole point in fact with making ‘The Wick’, to showcase my acting. So I can’t wait to throw myself into that again.

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If you get the chance to catch The Wick at one of the many film festivals that will no doubt be clamouring to showcase Michelle’s wonderful creation then you are in for a real treat. The landscape and presence of nature is wonderfully represented throughout giving the film a reassuringly bucolic feel that balances perfectly with the dark story that gradually unfolds. At times I was reminded of the way the landscape was shot in Winstanley and Witchfinder General in which small isolated incidents of great importance are played out within the vast expanse of the English countryside. Alongside this is a fantastically atmospheric score, a deep sense of authenticity and attention to detail and a perfectly paced story…in short The Wick is a triumph and hopefully it’s just the start for Michelle.

Final Winter Ghosts Announcement!

So as the Autumn takes full hold it is time for us to announce the final acts for this year’s Folk Horror Revival – Winter Ghosts event that takes place December 14th at the Metropole in Whitby.

Our final musical act are the rather wonderful Scottish prog rockers Big Hogg.

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Big Hogg are a 6 piece Canterbury influenced progressive group mixing threads of acid folk , Dr John , Kevin Ayers and 60s and 70s west coast psych.They released their eponymous debut album on Neon Tetra in 2015 and built up a glowing live reputation following shows at the Barrowlands , Rockaway Beach ,Wickerman and Eden festivals. In 2017 they signed with London label BEM who released their critically acclaimed “Gargoyles” album in May of that year. Record Collector magazine described it as ” An epic fantasia through Glasgow’s grimy underbelly with tumbling brass and suspended jazz chords” , while prog magazine describes them as ” masters of weaving an aural tapestry of influences together to create some suitably brilliant and uplifting music in the true spirit of the Canterbury pioneers” The band are currently recording their third album.

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Joining the lineup is our very own Darren Charles who will be bringing his Unearthing Forgotten Horrors radio show to the event. Featuring an eclectic mix of music, Darren’s aim will be to get everyone up and dancing to the very best in prog, folk, metal, goth, alternative, electronica and psychedelic music.

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Finally we will be screening three rather fabulous short films.

 

American Witch

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Welcome to a voyage from novice to initiate. The chthonic path is the common thread that weaves together the various underground religions in America from Wicca to Voodoo and Stregheria to Santeria, and everything in between. Along our pilgrimage, we will unfold the historical background in places where witchcraft came into its own distinctive form such as Salem, New Orleans, New York City, and Los Angeles. American Witch will also explore the stories of practitioners and how it’s changed their lives.

Scarlett Amaris has co-written scripts for the seminal horror anthology THE THEATRE
BIZARRE (2011), the award-winning, supernatural documentary THE OTHERWORLD
(L’AUTRE MONDE) (2013), featuring years of her research into the mysteries of the South of France, in which she appears as a resident expert, and the horror film REPLACE (2017). She’s co-written the dark fantasy trilogy SAURIMONDE I, II & III, and her first contemporary fiction novel DESIRED PYROTECHNICS will debut in 2019. A well-regarded authority on alternative history, her research has been featured in numerous books and anthologies. She also teaches comparative mythology and witchcraft at The Crooked Path Occult Apothecary in Los Angeles, and is a founding member of the Tridents of Hekate coven. Scarlett’s screenplay for H.P. Lovecraft’s The Colour Out of Space is currently receiving a great deal of praise across the festival circuit ahead of its release.

Melissa St. Hilaire wrote film and music reviews for The Heights Inc. Her poetry has appeared in the periodicals Shards, The Outer Fringe, and The Laughing Medusa. She co-authored several scripts for Tone-East Productions. She has written articles for Feminine Power Circle, Savvy Authors, SF Signal, and The Qwillery, among others. She has also appeared in the anthology books Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies and Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads. Her debut book was a memoir titled In The Now. She co-wrote the dark fantasy series, Saurimonde, with Scarlett Amaris, and is currently finishing a sci-fi novel called X’odus. She is also a founding member of the Tridents of Hekate coven.

Conjuration

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Gary Parsons is an MA film graduate from Goldsmiths College London who specialises in short films. Utilizing both, elements of the surrealist genre and images of the occult, these films are both beautiful and at times disturbing. They also tap into the verisimilitude of the erotic and the unconventional.

Gary has been influenced by film-makers such as Jan Svankmajer, Kenneth Anger, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Bunuel, Hans Richter, Man Ray and Jean Rollin. All these elements meet within a melting pot to find visual references within the work.

Gary’s films can be viewed in many different ways, as straight forward narrative pieces but also as ritual film as demonstrated by similar film-makers such as Maya Derren or even as music promo video. The films stand as an ongoing obsession of their maker as an overall understanding of the human psyche within certain specific landscapes.

Conjuration is Gary’s most recent film and is based around an Alexandrian ritual. It deals with modern day magick, but also correlates it with magick’s heritage through Gary’s impeccable choice of shooting locations. Several powerful ancient sites, notably Avebury, Glastonbury, Pompeii and Oslo were chosen for this purpose.

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Louhi, The Northern Witch

Directed by Lauri Löytökoski, Louhi, The Northern Witch is a silent film with an ambient-folk score, based on The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, the story draws from its shamanistic aspects.

The lead character is Runoi; a nascent witch who confronts his mother’s night terrors and is quickly transported into the realm of Louhi, the witch-queen of the undead. He journeys to axis mundi, the mythical pillar connecting heaven, earth and the underworld.

Main characters of The Kalevala are introduced as vessels for him to pass through. In the lines of Carl G. Jung’s anima/animus theory, they represent subconscious element of one’s sexuality, the opposite of the dominant side.

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So, that pretty much completes this year’s action packed lineup. Tickets are currently available from the eventbrite page below. We hope to see you all there for what promises to be another spectacular weekend of music, film, talks and art.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-winter-ghosts-tickets-55468722442

Don’t forget as well as the main Saturday event there will be the Thresholds Art Show in conjunction with Decadent Drawing, the unofficial Friday ice-breaker featuring Storm Chorus at the Rifle Club, and the Ghost story readings at the Hetty and Betty Cafe in Baxtergate on Sunday 15th.

 

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https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-winter-ghosts-tickets-55468722442

Winter Ghosts Announcement Number 2

Apologies for the delay in publishing this, our second Winter Ghosts announcement, but we have been very busy bringing together a lineup that will hopefully whet the appetite of Revivalists everywhere. Anyway, without further ado here are our latest additions to the lineup.

The Soulless Party

 

 

Since 2013 Chris Lambert and Kev Oyston of the Soulless Party have worked tirelessly to bring the mysteries and secrets of the Black Meadow into the public eye. As everyone knows The Black Meadow is located just a few miles from Whitby on the outskirts of the village of Sleights. A strange place where, it is said, that if the mist rises a village will appear. This a place populated by tales of horse-men, meadow hags, land spheres, rag and bone men, maidens of mist, strange rituals and unexplained phenomena. It is no coincidence that this is where the MOD chose to put one of their bases – RAF Fylingdales whose strange Golf Ball Radomes dominated the landscape until the early 1990’s. The Soulless Party will launch their new collection of findings at Whitby Ghosts as they share a haunting mix of music, song, stories, images and interviews. This will be a hauntological experience in which folk horror meets urban legend through the medium of electronica tinged memory and dream.

Find out more about Black Meadow and The Soulless Party by visiting:
Sarah Steel
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Sarah Steele graduated from Durham with a Degree in Geology in1992. She has since qualified as a professional gemmologist and was awarded Fellowship of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain in 2013, and subsequently Diamond Fellowship in 2015. Sarah is also a member of the International Accredited Gemologists Association and is a regularly asked to speak and deliver workshops at gem conferences around the world. She is also a freelance writer for Gems and Jewellery Magazine. Sarah’s particular expertise lies in the identification of natural thermoset and thermoplastic materials used in C19th jewellery, and she is considered the world’s leading authority on the Jet Group of gemstones. Her research collaborations are challenging our previous perceptions of the material jet. Sarah will return to Durham university in October to continue her postgraduate research on the subject. We are very pleased to have Sarah with us in December to give us a rather fascinating talk on her key topic of interest, Whitby Jet. Sarah is the only scientist currently working in the field of Jet research, and as such it is a prilevege for us at Folk Horror Revival to have her on board to present especially for us a talk about her research and the cultural and historic importance of this most beautiful and tactile gem.

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Barbara Ravelhofer

Barbara Ravelhofer is Professor in English Literature at Durham University and a Research Associate of the Centre for History and Economics, Cambridge. After a degree in English and German Literature from the University of Munich she continued for her Ph.D. at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship at St John’s College. She has also held Visiting Fellowships at the Universities of Bologna, Princeton, and Harvard.

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Professor Ravelhofer is co-director of the Records of Early English Drama North-East, which is sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). The key aim of the organisation is to find, catalogue and edit all records pertaining to music, spectacle, ceremony, dance and theatre in England’s North-East from about the ninth century to 1642. The project is directed by Prof. Ravelhofer in collaboration with Prof. John McKinnell and the Institute for Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS) Durham, the Cathedral and Durham’s World Heritage Site. Prof. Ravelhofer will be speaking to us about the history and folklore behind this wonderful tradition, and whilst the good professor herself is a big enough coup she will also be accompanied by an actual Mari Lwyd who will be loose in the auditorium.

For further details about the Records of Early English Drama North-East please see the project website.

Peter Kennedy

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Peter Kennedy is a writer born in a North-East fishing village, who as a child was told a story about how the plague moved up country in the 17th century. In it, the fishermen decided that the best way to stave off the pestilence would be to throw fishing nets over the archway leading to the headland.  This legend was the inspiration for Peter to write his story Behind the Net Curtain, which would become the opening chapter of his debut novel Fishermen’s Tales. Inspired by that story Peter went off on a quest for more northern folklore that celebrated its maritime heritage. He trawled the seas, combed the beaches and crafted a collection of dark fables, from sea coal and rumour, and driftwood and bullshit.

The stories compiled in Fishermen’s Tales are part of an older oral tradition that were shared around campfires and passed down through generations. In reference to the book Peter says he is “trying to reclaim and romanticise the working class heritage that I came from. I read at a poetry club one night and one of the other performers said ‘this guy’s brought his own mythology’. I thought, ‘yeah, he gets it!” Over time the novel became a project that included musical accompaniment and theatrical performance, which is what Peter will be bringing to Winter Ghosts this December.

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That’s it for this announcement, they join Burd Ellen, Al Ridenour, Elaine Edmunds, Laurence Mitchell and George Cromack on this year’s lineup. We still have one or two acts to announce and our programme of short films to come, but we’ll leave those for another time. Tickets are available now, priced at the princely sum of £13 sterling for the full day or just £7 for the evening session, these are available from Eventbrite at the link below.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/folk-horror-revival-presents-winter-ghosts-tickets-55468722442

 

The Sermon – available to view online now.

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The rather wonderful Folk Horror short, The Sermon from director Dean Puckett is now available to view online. This fabulous short film deals with issues that arise from the question of a young woman’s sexuality in a small rural English village. The film is both thought provoking and beautifully shot on 35mm film in deepest darkest Dartmoor. Puckett uses the British landscape to great effect in this near 12 minute masterpiece. Don’t just take my word for it, view the film yourself from the link below.

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. The Sermon premiered at the BFI Flare London LGBTQ+ Film Festival on March 24th, 2018 to critical acclaim.

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/)

DR. BALDEN CROSS: BEYOND THE VOID

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Press release from the PMRI:
Who on Earth is (or more accurately, was) Dr. Balden Cross you may ask? Only one of the most controversial TV heretics and paranormal investigators of our time that’s who! The man who sought to find that there was more to our existence than met the eye promised to send a message back from the void before he left our mortal coil back in 1982.
A TV documentary was released on the man himself in 1984 by the now defunct Wessex Television Studios – presumed deleted and lost forever after it’s initial broadcast. The documentary concluded with a seance trying to make contact with the man himself to fulfill the promise he had made. This event has now passed into television folklore and infamy, as events that night in late October, on live TV were said to have been truly disturbing.
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Luckily for us, as a treat this Halloween an old VHS copy of the documentary has been found in the vaults of the Paratheological and Metaphysical Research Institute – The PMRI – which was founded by Dr. Cross back in 1971. The archivist at the institute says it had narrowly missed the skip and has now been put online for our viewing pleasure.
Watch this forgotten slice of TV Forteana here:
For more info on Dr. Balden Cross and The PMRI visit: https://m.facebook.com/ThePMRI
Pictures: Dr. Balden Cross portrait, Beyond The Void poster, Dr. Balden Cross outside the PMRI.

Soirée – A Short film by Charles Doran

The following review is for Charles Doran’s fascinating new short film Soirée.

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Soirée tells the story of Bill, a young academic who we learn lives in the beautiful house at the top of the hill with the Bougainvillea – a thorny ornamental plant that grows in his garden. Bill is incredibly proud of his garden and loves nothing more than spending time sitting outside and enjoying the peace and tranquillity it provides. When we are first introduced to him this is where he is. His girlfriend Soledad (Surely a reference to Jess Franco muse Soledad Miranda) joins him, she hands him a gift to celebrate their one month anniversary. Bill looks unimpressed by the cufflinks and admits that he has not bought a gift for Soledad. Bill comes across as being very self-centred, claiming that his very presence is present enough for Soledad, who then mentions that they have been invited to a party by a Professor friend of hers that evening. Bill doesn’t seem too keen to attend but he begrudgingly accepts the invitation to the party.

The soirée, which is being held at the Institute for the Scientific Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena is hosted by a gentleman named Wilhelm, played by Doran’s brother and co-writer Timothy. As he and Bill become acquainted over a few drinks, we are treated first hand, to what a scene stealer Doran is. His role as the Aleister Crowley type occult leader figure of Wilhelm is a perfect bit of casting, he exudes a genial menace of the sort made famous by Charles Grey’s Mocata in The Devil Rides Out or Niall MacGinnis as Julian Karswell in Night of the Demon. He is also attired most appropriately in a 1930s style suit, and even his home décor seems appropriate for an occult leader. As the two drink and become further acquainted we begin to see just how thoroughly unpleasant Bill really is. He tells Wilhelm and Soledad of the despicable way in which he was able to cheat the former owner of the house out of her home, and when they are joined by Wilhelm’s friend Jason, he is dismissive and rude about the occult figurine that Jason has brought to the party for the ritual that is due to take place. A very drunk Bill then agrees to be silent during the upcoming ritual in order that he may stay and watch.

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Timothy Doran as Wilhelm

Warning! The following two paragraphs may contain some slight spoilers. The camerawork and direction are spot on, particularly during the ritual scenes, which are just oddball enough to be truly menacing. The use of drums and a ritual dance performed seductively by a female cast member help to create a suitable atmosphere, whilst the use of animal masks draw influence from Robin Hardy’s classic The Wicker Man. Wilhelm’s mask,  on the other hand, harks back to something very Lovecraftian in nature, but even more terrifying.

As an interesting side note I would like to draw attention to the film’s use of the ancient Roman religion of Mithraism, which was practiced throughout the Roman Empire in the early centuries of the common era. This is particularly of interest to me as I live in the North East of England, near to the site of the Temple of Mithras at Carrawburgh, on Hadrian’s Wall, which was built around 200 CE. Legend would have us believe that the God Mithras captured and killed the primeval bull in a cave. This apparently led to Mithraic temples being small, gloomy places as they try to replicate the atmosphere of the cave.

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Overall, this is a beautifully made short film with a straight forward but well executed plot. The production values are great, and the main cast are all excellent, Matthew Nelson as Bill, Catie Smith as Soledad, Timothy Doran as Wilhelm, and Patrick Peterson as Jason. All ably buoyed by a fine supporting cast. In fact, the whole film looks and feels a lot more expensive than it is, which is real credit to the director who has created something that looks good on a budget. All credit to him for his hard work because it really does pay off here. I look forward to seeing where Charles and his brother go from here…

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Charles Doran is an Administrative Professional for a major university in Southern California. His previous short films, Westsider, and Ennui, played at film festivals all over the world. Soirée is his first attempt at an “urban wyrd “ type of film. Soirée was co-written by his brother Timothy, an Assistant Professor of History  at Cal State Los Angeles, who runs the very real Institute for the Study of Human and Non-Human Phenomena, the primary setting for the film.

Our Final Witch Cults Announcement!

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After several weeks of build up we have arrived at our completed lineup and damn good it looks if you ask me. Joining those already announced we have even more amazing musical performances, and some of the finest independent short films you could shake a very big stick at. Anyway without further ado, here they are.

Nathalie Stern

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Nathalie Stern is a Swedish singer-songwriter based in the north-east of England. She draws inspiration for her music from her surroundings, the north-east’s rich cultural history and it’s breathtaking landscape are both influential in the creation of her own unique brand of  what she calls “experimental, electro, glitch folk”.

For Witch Cults Nathalie will be performing a very special set based on the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, one of the true greats of American wyrd fiction. We are overjoyed that Nathalie is able to join us for Witch Cults. I can guarantee you will be mesmerised and captivated by her dark electronic drones and vocal loops.

Here is a little taster of Nathalie’s work.

https://nathaliesternmusic.bandcamp.com/track/7-flowers

 

Georgia Seddon

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Georgia Seddon is a classically trained musician, who performs her own songs as a solo artist. She trained at the City of Edinburgh Music School and Newcastle University, and now lives in Glasgow where she works as a musician and music transcriber. She is a member of the Mike Heron (Incredible String Band founder) Band, and more recently Alex Rex (Alex Neilson, Trembling Bells founder); and among others, she has performed with Alessi’s Ark, Green Gartside, the Trembling Bells, Robyn Hitchcock, The Album Leaf, and Scott Fagan. Georgia and her father (Mike Heron) have taken part in two high profile Incredible String Band tribute shows (Barbican Centre, London, 2009; and the Edinburgh Playhouse, 2017), and in 2008, they performed at the Hollywood Bowl with The Album Leaf, and alongside Devendra Banhart and Gilberto Gil. In recent years, Georgia has toured the UK and Europe with Mike Heron and the Trembling Bells, Scott Fagan, and Ed Askew.

Georgia’s EP – available via Bandcamp – was recorded by Green Gartside (Scritti Politti) in his home studio in London.

https://georgiaseddon.bandcamp.com/album/georgia-seddon-2

 

Marcus H

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Bristol born Marcus H is an experimental musician from the North East Coast of England near to Saltburn.

His studio project ‘Soiled’ commenced in 2002. Combining elements of beats, noise, guitar phrases and drones. The Quietus described it as ‘a rather unique, loose, expressionistic collage style yet manages to keenly infer a peculiarly English style of strange fiction’.

His music has featured on / in BBC 3 Late Junction, BBC 6 Freakzone, WFMU New Jersey & KALX Berkeley, Mojo Magazine, Electronic Sound Magazine & Wire Magazine.

We are very proud to  have Marcus making a very rare solo appearance for us at Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults.

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Short Films

We also have four wonderful short films that have been handpicked by us for the purpose of screening at this event. As well as screening classics like Simon, King of the Witches and the Italian print of Witchcraft ’70 we want to celebrate the emerging talent that is regularly brought to our attention within the Folk Horror Revival cabal. These four films represent some of the very best talent around at the moment.

Bella in the Wych Elm

Director Tom Lee Rutter, was born and raised in the black country, and now lives in nearby Worcestershire where he crafts films of a horror fantastical and sometimes bizarre nature. Tom has a decidedly DIY approach to film making and aims to create fantastical worlds that belie their tiny budgets.

Bella

Bella in the Wych Elm is a film made to celebrate a most fascinating local murder mystery via the spooky films and TV shows of yesteryear. It is also a salute to the elder Black Country generations of whose superstitious natures turned him onto a love for the unknown to begin with.

In 1943 a group of boys wandering the woodland of Hagley Hall discovered the remains of an unknown woman stuffed inside a hollowed Wych Elm tree. To this day her identity is still unknown. In 1944 however, mysterious graffiti began to adorn the walls of the neighboring towns; WHO PUT BELLA IN THE WYCH ELM. Somebody knew but who? This curious folk phantasmagoria feverishly displays the known possibilities which take us from the mystical realms of witchcraft, restless ghosts to sinister WW2 espionage. Bella In The Wych Elm will intrigue, and frighten in all it’s quaint yet claustrophobic glory.

If you’d like a taste of what to expect you can view the trailer here: https://vimeo.com/210934584

Thelema and Conjuration

Two films from Folk Horror Revival’s very own Gary Parsons.

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Gary Parsons is an MA film graduate from Goldsmiths College London who specialises in short films. Utilizing both, elements of the surrealist genre and images of the occult, these films are both beautiful and at times disturbing. They also tap into the verisimilitude of the erotic and the unconventional.

Gary has been influenced by film-makers such as Jan Svankmajer, Kenneth Anger, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Luis Bunuel, Hans Richter, Man Ray and Jean Rollin. All these elements meet within a melting pot to find visual references within the work.

The films can be viewed in many different ways, as straight forward narrative pieces but also as ritual film as demonstrated by similar film-makers such as Maya Derren or even as music promo video. The films stand as an ongoing obsession of their maker as an overall understanding of the human psyche within certain specific landscapes.

Thelema is a short film that was based upon several of Aleister Crowley’s writings and how other writers including Kenneth Grant interpreted them. The film has an almost documentary feel to it, in fact a certain amount of the footage was shot at the Abbey of Thelema in Sicily, Crowley’s home, temple and spiritual centre during the early 1920s.

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Conjuration is Gary’s most recent film and is based around an Alexandrian ritual. It deals with modern day magick, but also correlates it with magick’s heritage through Gary’s impeccable choice of shooting locations. Several powerful ancient sites, notably Avebury, Glastonbury, Pompeii and Oslo were chosen for this purpose.

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American Witch (documentary)

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Welcome to a voyage from novice to initiate. The chthonic path is the common thread that weaves together the various underground religions in America from Wicca to Voodoo and Stregheria to Santeria, and everything in between. Along our pilgrimage, we will unfold the historical background in places where witchcraft came into its own distinctive form such as Salem, New Orleans, New York City, and Los Angeles. American Witch will also explore the stories of practitioners and how it’s changed their lives.

Scarlett Amaris has co-written scripts for the seminal horror anthology THE THEATRE
BIZARRE (2011), the award-winning, supernatural documentary THE OTHERWORLD
(L’AUTRE MONDE) (2013), featuring years of her research into the mysteries of the South of France, in which she appears as a resident expert, and the horror film REPLACE (2017). She’s co-written the dark fantasy trilogy SAURIMONDE I, II & III, and her first contemporary fiction novel DESIRED PYROTECHNICS will debut in 2019. A well-regarded authority on alternative history, her research has been featured in numerous books and anthologies. She also teaches comparative mythology and witchcraft at The Crooked Path Occult Apothecary in Los Angeles, and is a founding member of the Tridents of Hekate coven.

Melissa St. Hilaire wrote film and music reviews for The Heights Inc. Her poetry has appeared in the periodicals Shards, The Outer Fringe, and The Laughing Medusa. She co-authored several scripts for Tone-East Productions. She has written articles for Feminine Power Circle, Savvy Authors, SF Signal, and The Qwillery, among others. She has also appeared in the anthology books Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies and Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads. Her debut book was a memoir titled In The Now. She co-wrote the dark fantasy series, Saurimonde, with Scarlett Amaris, and is currently finishing a sci-fi novel called X’odus. She is also a founding member of the Tridents of Hekate coven.

 

Andy Paciorek

Our compére for the day is Folk Horror Revival creator Andy Paciorek. Andy also runs the publishing arm of FHR, Wyrd Harvest Press, which donates all profits from sales to The Wildlife Trusts. Andy is also a writer in his own right, having written books on the Celtic Otherworld (Strange Lands) and the Slavic Otherworld (Black Earth). His main role is as an in demand illustrator and he has worked on a variety of projects with the likes of Chris Lambert, and Dr Bob Curran. He is currently working on a book project with Darren Charles and Gary Parsons. As well as compéring the event Andy will be giving readings from Wyrd Harvest Press’s latest title The Wytch Hunter’s Manual written by Dr Bob Curran and illustrated by Andy himself.

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So there we have it, our lineup is complete. There is a suggestion that we may have one or two very special guests on the day, but you’ll just have to wait and see if they come off.

 

The full lineup is as follows:

Compére

Andy Paciorek

Speakers

Diane Purkiss, Gail-Nina Anderson, Darren Charles, Bob Beagrie, and The Witch play written by Tracey Norman and performed by Circle of Spear Productions

Music

Black Mountain Transmitter, Georgia Seddon, Nathalie Stern, Heartwood Institute, Peg Powler, Hokano & Marcus H

Films

Simon, King of the Witches, Angeli Bianchi…. Angeli Neri (Witchcraft 70), Thelema, Conjuration, Bella in the Wych Elm & American Witch

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Tickets are available from the eventbrite link below. There is a two tier price structure, the first option is an all day ticket covering the full event from 12 noon until 1am priced at £27.54. The second option is a partial ticket, just covering the evening event from 7pm to 1am and costing £16.76. We will get a timetable of events up as soon as possible.

 

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

 

 

 

 

Witch Cults T-Shirt Now Available to Preorder.

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The news that our rather wonderful new Folk Horror Revival – Witch Cults shirt is now available to order has been received with great delight here at FHR towers. The admins are frothing at the mouth over the beautiful new design created especially for the event by Andy Paciorek and Cobweb Mehers, in conjunction with Jonas at Tyrant Designs who has done a remarkable job with the manufacturing of these individual pieces.

If you are planning to join us on July 14th and would like to preorder your shirt, either contact Kt Mehers via PM on Facebook, or email us at folkhorrorrevival@gmail.com, please include a contact email address, a delivery address and your chosen size.

The shirts are available in size S, M, L, XL and XXL and are priced at £15. These can be collected at the event. Those who can’t make it can still order a shirt, postage and packaging is priced at £6, and please state in the message that you require the shirt to be posted out to you.

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Another announcement is due in the next few days so keep your eyes open, however if you want to get in early tickets are currently available from the eventbrite link below, priced at £27.54 for the full day event and £16.76 for just the evening.

Hope to see some of you there.

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

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)

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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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