“They’re Rereleasing It… and Then They’re Going To Rerelease Me… OH MY GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWD!”

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

The story is well-known, Troll 2 having been skewered on bad movie websites since the early days of the Internet. The Watts family – father Michael (George Hardy), mother Diana (Margo Prey), older teen daughter Holly (Connie McFarland) and preteen son Joshua (Michael Stephenson) – have had a rough time of it, what with Grandpa Seth (Robert Ormsby) having died six months ago and Joshua regularly seeing vivid visions of Seth delivering bizarre warnings about goblins.

These warnings come thicker and faster as the Watts family embark on a holiday trip to Nilbog, a tiny rural town that happens to be the home of a gang of goblins with a remarkable knack for disguising themselves as human beings but absolutely no subtlety when it comes to coming up with town names. (Joshua only figures out the Nilbog/Goblin thing after seeing the town’s name reflected in a mirror, because ultimately he’s just not that clever a kid.) The goblins are strict vegetarians, but also love murder and anthropophagy, so they have a fun little compromise: before they kill people, they feed them an evil potion concealed in ordinary food which transmutes unsuspecting humans into vegetable matter.

There’s a wildcard factor provided by Holly’s loser boyfriend Elliot (Jason Wright) and his loser friends Arnold (Darren Ewing), Drew (Jason Steadman), and Brent (David McConnell) coming along in their RV in the vague hopes of getting laid – but they’re made short work of by the goblins and their leader, the gothy druid Creedence Leonore Gielgud (Deborah Reed). Will the Watts family be able to summon Grandpa Seth back from the dead in a necromantic seance to help out in the final conflict? Will Seth and Joshua be able to destroy the “Stonehenge Stone” which gives Gielgud her powers? And what power lies within Joshua’s special double-decker bologna sandwich?

Continue reading ““They’re Rereleasing It… and Then They’re Going To Rerelease Me… OH MY GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWD!””

Jim Jarmusch Via Germany, Part 2

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

In the previous article in this miniseries, I covered (through the medium of a Germany-exclusive blu-ray boxed set) Jarmusch’s early career up to Dead Man. That movie benefitted in part from an excellent country-industrial soundtrack by Neil Young, so it’s only fitting that Jarmusch would return the favour with a project focused on Young himself…

Year of the Horse

This is a documentary about Neil Young and Crazy Horse which isn’t entirely of Jarmusch’s own making; specifically, it mixes footage shot by Jarmusch on Crazy Horse’s 1996 tour with backstage footage from Neil Young’s archives from 1986 and 1976, to offer a glimpse of the musicians in three different decades. In principle, this should be an exciting prospect, because that happens to catch three very important but distinct periods in the group’s career. (It’s important to remember that Crazy Horse isn’t so much Neil Young’s backing band as it is an independent entity that Neil Young happens to play with regularly – they have made Neil-less releases, and on the documentary Neil introduces himself as the “guitarist with Crazy Horse” rather than the band leader or a solo artist or anything like that.)

To be specific, 1976 saw Neil at the height of his creative powers (and his closest physical resemblance to Neil from The Young Ones); the previous year had seen him release the epochal albums Zuma and Tonight’s the Night, the latter of which was recorded in 1973 as a response to the death by heroin overdose of Crazy Horse lead guitarist Danny Whitten and and Bruce Berry, one of Neil’s roadies. The two albums couldn’t be more different – Tonight’s the Night is the saddest entry in Neil’s sorrowful “Ditch Trilogy” along with Time Fades Away and On the Beach – whilst Zuma found him moving beyond the trilogy with a more tonally varied release and a new lease of energy.

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Glumscribe: His Thoughts and Words

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

It’s been a big year or two for Thomas Ligotti and his acolytes. Once upon a time Ligotti was so infamous for his reclusive nature that some believed that he didn’t exist, and that his fiction was written by some other post-Lovecraftian author or committee of authors in a really, really bad mood. Now his existence is increasingly accepted, and his heartfelt objections to that very existence enjoy an increasingly high profile.

Whilst True Detective author Nic Pizzolatto mostly drew on Robert Chambers and his followers when it came to the cosmic horror references in the series to the King In Yellow and Carcosa, these tended to be rather shallow nods; you could have happily replaced them with callouts to any other entity from the Call of Cthulhu core rulebook without materially changing the action or meaning of True Detective. The same is not true of his liftings from Thomas Ligotti; if you removed Ligotti’s hardline anticosmic antinatalism from Rust Cohle, you end up with a radically different character and a radically different character arc over the course of the series. As Ligotti succinctly puts it:

A: There is no grand scheme of things.

B: If there were a grand scheme of things, the fact – the fact – that we are not equipped to perceive it, either by natural or supernatural means, is a nightmarish obscenity.

C: The very notion of a grand scheme of things is a nightmarish obscenity.

From these building blocks, Ligotti has constructed all his fiction, but his unshaking belief in these precepts means that he does not confine this stance to the pages of his stories. In recent years a trickle of nonfictional material has come out of the Ligotti camp, material which makes it simultaneously clear that Ligotti is both deadly serious, and at the same time quite personable to actually talk to.

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A One Joke Concept Down a Two Layer Show…

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

So, it was asked why we hadn’t been talking about Darkplace and it’s absolutely time that we did. It’s 10 years since the show first came out, it’s a horror-comedy classic, and it’s variously available on 4OD and YouTube so we can all enjoy its riches together. Let’s take a look at whether “dreamweaver, visionary, plus actor” Garth Marenghi’s masterwork has stood the test of time…

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace

The backstory goes like this: in the 1980s, back when they were new and scrambling to pad out their schedule, Channel 4 commissioned prolific horror author Garth Marenghi and his sleazy agent Dean Learner to produce a horror series. What emerged from Garth’s imagination was Darkplace, a show revolving around a hospital built over the gates of Hell and subject to all the myriad different paranormal manifestations you might expect from such a location – manifestations which the hospital staff have to deal with. Casting himself as the heroic Dr. Rick Dagless, Garth also penned the part of hospital administrator Thornton Reed for Dean and rounded out the core cast with the suave Dr. Lucien Sanchez (Todd Rivers) and the charming psychic newcomer on the ward, Dr. Liz Asher (Madeleine Wool).

For their own reasons, Channel 4 decided that the product was not suitable for broadcast – according to Garth, it’s because the material was just too edgy and dangerous, but viewers might come to their own conclusions there. Eventually, in 2004 it was dug up from the vaults and given a limited six-episode showing, with each episode bulked out with an introductory monologue from Garth himself as well as interviews with Garth, Dean, and Todd (Madeleine Wool having gone missing presumed dead in the meantime) to deliver the ultimate fan experience.

Continue reading “A One Joke Concept Down a Two Layer Show…”

The Sayings of Chairman Wolfe

This article was originally published on Ferretbrain. I’ve backdated it to its original Ferretbrain publication date but it may have been edited and amended since its original appearance.

Fans of writers aren’t like fans of movie stars or musicians, and in turn writers aren’t dragged out into the public eye to the same extent. I am not aware of anyone who has a poster of Stephen King adorning their bedroom wall. So far as I am aware, FHM have never asked J.K. Rowling to do a photoshoot for them. Teenage girls do not mob Garth Nix as he walks down the street, and nobody daydreams of patting Gene Wolfe on his egg-shaped head and gently sniffing his walrus-like moustache.

No, what really excites the fans of writers is the opportunity to get their hands on more words of wisdom from their favoured writer, whether this is in the form of an interview or a speech or a letter. For devotees of Gene Wolfe, Shadows of the New Sun: Wolfe On Writing/Writers On Wolfe offer all three. The first segment compiles all the major interviews Wolfe gave between 1973 and 2003; the second, much smaller segment, is a small collection of short essays and transcription of speeches composed by Wolfe on the subject of writing, books, and the literary world in general. By far the biggest treat are the short pieces which seem to be by-products of various writing classes Wolfe has given over the years, which give us a chance to learn at the feet of “balding, avuncular Gene” and hear his thoughts on characterisation, good writing habits, and the special problems of writing science fiction and multi-volume novels.

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