Flares and scares-1970’s Horror

We passed the ‘Summer of love’ but the long hair and flares were there with the prog rock and changes in filmmaking and what we could be scared by on the big screen. This period in time was during and through to the end of the Vietnam war and I believe this did have a strong effect on the films which came to us at this time. With indie film directors like Francis Ford Coppola and Dennis Hopper revolutionizing what could be a film and how it could be made, horror films soon followed in the same steps.

Over here in the UK we had the regularly successful Hammer studios still putting out their gothic flicks of macabre dread such as Countess Dracula but soon others would take things into our modern and urban homes.

Of course in 1968 George Romero gave us his first horror classic Night of the Living Dead which did seriously change horror films forever. Low budget, black and white, on the move. It seemed to feel like a live news television report almost. Even to watch it today that movie is very powerful in a number of ways.

So into the 1970’s we had Mario Bava and Jesus Franco overseas continuing with their arthouse styled horror and erotica suspense chillers but it would be Wes Craven with The Last House on the Left, The Exorcist and The Wicker Man in 1973, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre in 1974, David Cronenberg starting his run of body-horror movies with Shivers in 1975, Carrie, The Omen, To The Devil a Daughter from Hammer in 1976, in 77 Wes Craven and Cronenberg again along with Argento’s masterpiece Suspiria from Italy.

1978 was a big year when we had Romero return with the classic Dawn of the dead, but also Carpenter gave us the first Halloween. This was the one which I believe really got practically everything right on spot for a horror movie.

1979 gave us Ridley Scott’s ALIEN movie, science fiction melded into space horror. The Brood, Amityville Horror, Phantasm. There were many more in this decade but the films mentioned above each added something which made a focused change to what we were afraid of on screen and also said much about what we no longer feared.

It was this decade where the big studios were confused and afraid to take serious risks and indie filmmakers were getting serious with very creative physical special effects and props, shooting all kinds of almost radical and lurid scenes which none had dared do before. The fears of the president Nixon years and nuclear war were truly present and this was manifesting into cinema screens, even if at midnight showings. Film horror was no longer set centuries of decades in the past, in had reached the present and it was savage and on the loose.

 

James E Parsons is a SF/Horror author. His first horror novel is published later this year. His previous books Orbital Kin and Minerva Century are now available in all good bookstores, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Amazon.

 

 

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On page, on screen, in life-Horror thoughts

Hello and here we are now in 2017. Do you have some plans ahead? Will you be writing, making art, doing something you have never yet tried in your life?

In a few months from now my first horror novel to be published will finally hits shelves. It has been behind some of my other work, the SF books for a while but I have made several versions and this final draft will be available for those of you who may have been waiting for a full-length horror tale from me.

I will also be catching up with reading a few horror/supernatural books which have been sitting around my house for a good while and writing a few things here regularly about my thoughts on horror films, books, tv shows and more.

Keep watching this blog for more soon…

 

Star Wars-Rogue One:Film Review

Another year, another new Star Wars movie. This is the way for the next decade or more we can believe. So this new Star Wars connected film has been out on release for a couple of weeks, but I often wait a little while until the crowds have died down. In a good way, I went along to a local cinema on January 1st, a great way to bring in the new year I would say.

We have had a year of build up and hype again but this time it has been a little different. This new movie is not a strict ‘important’ Star Wars event movie-or not to some people, as it is the first ‘spin-off’ film. It takes place in the space world, the same time-line of the original three movies, but it is not a sequel and not really a prequel either.

From the pictures and stills and then the trailers for the related movie, I was increasingly interested in just what kind of movie it would turn out to be. It features another group of entirely new characters-although does include and add in a few well loved ones-like The Force Awakens. The difference here is that these characters will not continue on in another sequel after this film. Most clued up Star Wars fans will be very aware of this.

So as this is a stand alone separate but related Star Wars movie, does it matter? Do we care about the story or characters this time?

That answer is yes, very much so. I had been very interested in two things really before seeing this. One was the director chosen being Gareth Edwards who has in a short time build up a reputation for really great sci-fi films with epic effects combined with great storytelling and acting. The second point of interest was the new female lead-Felicity Jones. With The Force Awakens we did get a great young female lead, which was excellent. Here with this new film, it had been hinted at that the story would be more mature, sombre and with an older female lead, I thought it could be much more interesting and good to see.

From the first couple of minutes, the direction had pulled me in. It looked superb, it really did. The musical score in new and different although does bring in small pieces of the well known Star Wars score here and there. We are introduced to the character of young child Jyn, which feels very familiar but is told well in a few minutes. Cut to a few years later and adult Jyn (Felicity Jones) escapes captivity and goes out on a bold adventure with a group of defiant yet interesting characters.

It does often feel a lot like the first three original movies, and it is visually styled that way very carefully, even more so than The Force Awakens which works in the time-line order or events and the films.

Yes, as you may have heard now, in some ways it is almost as good as or better than Empire Strikes Back. Even so, this is not a perfect or flawless movie. After the first hour or less it does slump and slow down and the familiarity of the classic Star Wars movies echoed in a number of the scenes and visuals perhaps does not help this movie. That does not ruin it all the way by any means, and it does continue on and I would say that it very much is as great as those early movies and so then it is a real shame when it comes to an end and we find that we will not see these characters again. There are some great dialogue lines regularly, a really great new sarcastic droid, fine supporting actors involved including Riz Ahmed and Forrest Whitaker. We also see a very powerful and aggressive Darth Vader back on the big screen and this does impress I must say.

There are some surprises, some great acting, fantastic visuals among the best ever seen in any Star Wars movie.

This next December will bring the next Star Wars sequel in the ongoing series but I might be looking forward much more for the next stand-alone film like this fine example. The Force elsewhere is strong.

 

James E. Parsons is author of SF novels Orbital Kin, Minerva Century both available from Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes & Nobles and other good bookshops internationally.