Vote and Rate Jamie Clubb's articles and reviews

Friday, 31 October 2014

The Blooded Lens Filter Part 1

The Blooded Lens Filter
Distorting Horror Fiction through Cinema (Part 1)

In time for Halloween I thought I would have a little look at the way horror cinema has changed the way we view certain horror icons. Despite there being undeniable original horror movie classics created through the dark genius of great filmmakers like Wes Craven, Dario Agento and Tobe Hooper, a good number of great films have their basis in literature. It’s a great source. Many early “talkies” resemble stage plays because that is exactly what they were. Often these stage plays were based on classic novels. To this day there is a strong relationship between the bestselling novelist and the movie producer. Many book franchises from Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lector series to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to George R.R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” saga have been written as their filmic adaptations have been in progress. It is often interesting to see how much the two mediums will still diverge in their depictions of characters and events, and how much the adaptation will have an influence over future instalments of the literary franchise. The moving image is overwhelmingly more powerful in conveying a concept than the written word, so if a filmmaker distorts something he can overwrite an entire mythology. Here are a few examples from the world of horror. 

Family Horror Films

Cover of "The Monster Squad (Two-Disc 20t...
Cover via Amazon
This great little piece and listing from Empire magazine shows why many of my generation had such a dark childhood. The '70s and '80s were a quirky time for kids with many films precariously set between childish imaginings and adult violence. "The Monster Squad" was a 15 certificate horror comedy featuring the Universal Studios group monster favourites being battled by a bunch of children. The film featured adult humour, including the revelation that "Wolfman  has nards!", and a fair bit of gore too. "Robocop" was not a horror movie, but it wasn't really a superhero movie either. It was an 18 certificate dark satire about consumerism and capitalism, where everything had a price, but it was marketed at children with action figures and toys associated with the movie on sale in time for its release. Its sequel also bore an 18 certificate and was even darker, but eventually we had children's cartoon series.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ghoulish Nostalgic Nightmares

As this is the eve of my favourite festival and in the tradition of "Throwback Thursday" I thought I would re-visit an old nightmare and up-light the stage with the ghoul... 
The ghoul ranks amongst the highest of the unreal terrors that haunted my childhood imagination. These grave-raiding spectral monsters seem to be the bestial vestige of the almost neutered vampire figure of today's popular media. However, unlike vampires, werewolves and ghosts, there isn't a linear line to trace its development through fiction. Its iconography has branched off in several different directions and I think we probably could do with a mainstream horror story focusing on a purer form of this monstrosity. The closest I have seen of this happening appears to be in the anime series, "Tokyo Ghoul".

It is common for generations of adults to complain about the violent content of children's fiction, but I pretty much learnt the bulk of my horror education back in the 1980s before I left primary school. In fact, I read about it in primary school! This terrifying poem by Jack Prelutsky was in a book of general children's poetry I bought from our school's Puffin Book Club. The humour is dark and unrelenting. There isn't even a moral core to the story that is often used to offset the grisly content or horrid fates of children in cautionary folk tales. Like the ghoul itself, the poem is relentless in its onward progression through horridness climaxing with a chilling enough thought to give a child nightmares for weeks to come. Is it any wonder that my generation easily lapped up Roald Dahl's contributions to children's fiction.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Jonas Salk's 100th Birthday

I am going to come straight with you on this one. When it comes to leading lights in vaccinations, most of my historical knowledge ends with perhaps the man we could call the Godfather of Vaccinations, Edward Jenner. Jenner, of course, invented the vaccination for smallpox and started a revolution in medical science. As with an appreciation of the role bacteria play, vaccinating distinguishes itself to the majority of medical treatments in its proactive nature. It puts into the practice the principle that prevention is always better than the cure. By administering a controlled dosage of a disease - in Jenner's case cowpox - an individual's immune system can be activated and thus prevented from contracting a debilitating or potentially fatal disease - in Jenner's case small pox. A continued campaign of vaccinations can completely drive out a disease in a country, as it has done with many deadly diseases we all feared on a relatively short time ago.