Monday, 1 August 2016

SUSPIRIA with an Intro by Jon Towlson


Nicolas Winding Refn Presents: A special season curated by Nicolas Winding Refn, director of The Neon Demon and Drive.
Plus intro by Jon Towlson-: critic for Starburst Magazine and author of Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films from Frankenstein to the Present.

Suspiria. Director: Dario Argento. Italy 1977. 97 mins. Italian with English subtitles.

An American travels to Germany to train at a ballet school, but soon finds herself in labyrinth of murder, madness and black magic. Beautiful and terrifying, Suspiria is one of the greatest horror films ever made.


York City Screen Picturehouse. Thursday 25th August. 9pm.

Further info and tickets here.




States of Terror: Contemporary Horror in World Cinema



From Hollywood to Europe to Asia, the horror film is thriving. With recent international hits like It Follows (2014), The Babadook (2014), Big Bad Wolves (2013), Painless (2012), The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears (2013) and Flu (2013) filmmakers in countries as diverse as USA, Australia, Israel, Spain, France, Japan, Hong Kong, India and South Korea are using the horror genre to address the fears and anxieties of their cultures.
 
In this six week course at York City Screen Picturehouse we investigate contemporary horror cinema around the globe. Focusing on a different national cinema each week, we look at what terrifies the people of these nation states and ways in which horror crosses-over to international audiences. With film clips and discussion, the course will explore the genre’s unique capacity to break cultural boundaries and speak to social, political and personal anxieties in a world cinema context.
 
Each session includes a presentation/lecture followed by a tutorial where discussion is encouraged. Advance viewing is optional; select scenes and montages will be shown during weekly sessions.
 
Course tutor Jon Towlson is a film critic for Starburst Magazine and the author of Subversive Horror Cinema: Countercultural Messages of Films from Frankenstein to the Present (McFarland & Co, 2014); Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Constellations) (Auteur/Columbia University Press, 2016) and The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films, 1931-1936 (McFarland & Co, 2016)
 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Goodreads Q&A with Jon Towlson


On Wednesday 15 June I'll be discussing my new book on Steven Spielberg's sci-fi classic CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, as well as my previous film books, and I'll be taking questions on writing for film magazines. This discussion is for anyone who likes film books, or who has an interest in film journalism, film criticism and movie reviewing.

To take part in the discussion join my Goodreads group 'Q&A with Jon Towlson'

Don't forget to enter the Goodreads Giveaway to win a copy of the book.


Saturday, 21 May 2016

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Constellations) Now Available to Pre-Order!

Very proud to announce my new book on Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind is now available to pre-order. It is part of a new series called Constellations devoted to studies in science-fiction film and television. Published by Auteur, who brought us the hugely successful Devil's Advocates series of books on horror films.



"For many, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (CE3K) is not so much a movie as a religious experience. On its release in 1977, CE3K virtually redefined the science fiction film, shifting it away from spaceships, laser guns, and bug-eyed monsters into a modified form of science fiction that John Wyndham once called 'logical fantasy'. What would it be like if extra-terrestrials made contact with people on Earth? How would it feel? Like2001: A Space Odyssey (1968),CE3K is concerned with mankind's evolution towards the stars, towards a state of transcendence. But Spielberg's vision hinges not so much on cool scientific intellect being the key to our next stage of evolution, as on the necessary development of emotional intelligence. To that end, we must regain our childlike curiosity for what lies beyond the skies, we must recover our capacity to experience wonder. Intensity of emotion is inherent to the film's meaning, and the aim of this book is to explore this in detail. Along the way it delves into the film's production history, explores Spielberg's remarkable cinematic realisation of the film (including a comparison study of the three different release versions), and considers in detail how CE3K fits into the Spielberg oeuvre."


Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula



Photo by Ashley Bird


In 1970 Anthony Hinds of Hammer Films wrote The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula (originally titled Dracula – High Priest of the Vampires) as the intended follow up to Scars of Dracula, relocating the vampire count to India where he was to spread his evil influence. Writer-producer Hinds devised the script primarily to take advantage of frozen assets that Warner Bros (who financed and distributed Hammer’s output) had in India at that time. Ultimately, however, financing proved to be problematic and Hammer dropped the script in favour of updating the series to present day London with Dracula AD 1972.

Unquenchable Thirst, along with another mooted series reboot, Vlad the Impaler, ended up in the Hammer vaults where it sat for decades until De Montfort University’s Cinema and Television Archive (CATH) became the custodian of the Hammer archive, a collection of over 300 scripts, as well as books, posters and other memorabilia. In 2014, CATH’s Director, Professor Steve Chibnall invited Mayhem Film Festival co-programmers Chris Cooke and Steven Sheil to delve into the archive where they stumbled across Unquenchable Thirst, the Hammer Dracula that never was.

At this year’s Mayhem Film Festival in Nottingham, UK, Cooke and Sheil presented the unfilmed screenplay for the first time in a live reading on Saturday 17th October 2015.

Read my review here.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Wes Craven (1939 - 2015)

“What a horror film does is not frighten so much as release fright. It is a vent. And all these fears are in us all the time, from our lives, from our youths, from the world at large; everything from the most complex societal things of waging war and class struggle to very simple primal things like fear of the father and mother and fear of abandonment as a child. So these are all inherent in us and civilization tends to gloss them over, encapsulate them, deny them; it teaches us a thousand ways to act like everything’s fine but underneath this surface there is a sort of cauldron. So what a horror film does is tap in and release that tension and it does it in a way that’s entertaining, amusing and safe.”
- Wes Craven, RIP

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Forthcoming Books - Update!

It's been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, mainly because I've been hard at work on two new books. The first is a monograph on Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind for Auteur Publishing. This book is now submitted and I'll post updates on the release date when I have them. The second is a follow-up to Subversive Horror Cinema for McFarland & Co, a study of 'gruesomeness' in 1930s American Horror Cinema. The manuscript for this is due in October so it's still nose to the grindstone for me until then! Meanwhile here are some photographs that I took during a recent research trip to Hollywood, L.A.

At Paramount

Finally found Maila Nurmi's grave in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.


Ready for your close up, Mr De Mille? C.B's grave at the Hollywood Forever.

Which classic 1930s monster movie is this script page from?

Glad to see Subversive Horror Cinema in the USC library!