'Ripley is in the space capsule alter having just blown up the space ship. She thinks she's finally got rid of the Alien when it suddenly leaps out at her trom the wall. Dhmigod, it was so subtle; I just went through the rool.‘
says ‘I’m not really into it. But it is as popular as hell.’ He points out magazines like the American Fangoria which keep aficionados well-informed, and comics such as Tapping the Vein, Hellbound and Faust— which has Satanic inclinations. The bookshelves are heavily laden with sensational shockers by Stephen King, Dean R. Koontz, Rex Miller, Joe R. Landsdale and the kingpin of the bloodcurdlers, Clive Barker. Anne Rice’s latest vampire chronicle Queen ofthe Damned is prominently displayed, but she appears to be the ony female on offer.
Stuart Neville from Filmworld endorses the popular perception that it is a predominantly male interest. ‘I do a lot of trade in horror postcards, stills and posters, but it’s usually to 12 year-old boys. I never see women buying that kind of stuff. I don’t know why but I bet if you did a headcount at the festival you’ll ﬁnd it’s over 90% male.’
‘Crap,’ says David Bryan ﬁrmly. ‘Last year over 30% at the Manchester festival were women, and they account for over 50% of tickets sold for the Glasgow event. Loads of women are really into horror, they’re no more sexist than any other ﬁlms. Sure, women are sometimes easy prey but they often ﬁght back too —- look at Ripley in Alien and the girl who gets Jason in the Friday the 13th saga.’
Two Mancunians are importing horror to Glasgow. Is this, asks courin’ timorous Sara . Villiers, just a fright out for the boys or can girls
gorge on gore too?
Horror films certainly don’t seem to portray the kind of machismo that is rampant in western and war films, where men always have a solution and are stoically cool in the face of death. And nothing compares to the voyeuristic misogyny of Hitchcock’s Psycho. In today’s horrors men get as scared as the girlies, die as messily and scream as loudly. They’re as likely as women to be degraded by satanic spite. Audience enjoyment seems not to be located in sneering pleasure at the victim’s terror, but in a delight at being frightened for them. It’s a kind of masochistic thrill: horror symbolises everyone’s fears and paranoias. Horror films often induce pointless and endless psychoanalysis which, even if true, never really illuminates beyond the obvious fact that buffs go to enjoy being scared witless, treading the thin line between fear and fun.
The video boom in the early Eighties provided a considerable boost to the industry with an onslaught ofattention from an under-18 audience who warmed to horror’s forbidden lure. Youngsters consequently became quite blasé to the freaks and creeps, and an increasingly sophisticated audience has emerged — one which likes to take its grisly menu ofslit eyeballs and fried brains with a strong pinch of irony. A child-molester may seem an unlikely and disturbingly sinister youth hero, but pizza-faced Freddy Kruger has risen to cult status by virtue of the audience appreciating his wisecracking asides as he dispatches his unfortunate prey.
Vids can never replace the aura of the big screen, and the fest should appeal to the average couch-potato: these ﬁlms are best savoured in the cinema where the edge-of-the-seat suspense is all the more palpable in the atmosphere of a communal sharp intake of breath, the horror heightened by crowd hysteria.
The selection for Black Sunday
reﬂects the eclecticism of the horror spectre, with everything from Gore and Splatter, Stalk and Slash to films providing parodic giggles. I Bought A Vampire Motorcycle, a British film by Dirk Productions, features smashing crashes and stars Michael Elphick as a talking turd. ‘We wanted a film that was very funny but also very bloody,’ says co-producer John Wolskell. ‘I think we’ve got a film that’s bloody funny’.
Bryan began organising the fests out of an obsessional desire to see more films. He fits in the frantic planning between his course in Business Studies (‘He’s very motivated, he’ll go far‘, his mother confides) and claims he’s been a horror enthusiast from a very young age — ‘ever since I could read or write really‘.
Even tots might find some plots too far-fetched: one wonders what expensive hallucinogenics Hollywood writers can afford, with narratives about death by killer pigs (Razorback), giant molluscs (Slugs), cutie dolls (Child’s Play) and the family pet cat (Pet Sematary).
The other, more sinister side of horror has sprouted many eerie coincidences: the star of The Exorcist, Linda Blair , suffered a mental breakdown when she saw the film, the cast of Poltergeist have been plagued by a spate of mysterious deaths (including that of young Heather O‘Rourke), and fears of c0py-cat antics abound — similar to the cases relating to pornographic video nasties. One wit thought it would be a wheeze to run amok in an American cinema with a chainsaw at a crucial moment during The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; not surprisingly, it resulted in a hysterical crush for the exits.
‘That’s awful’, says Bryan, genuinely shocked but disconcertineg impressed. ‘It’s great if people get into the spirit of the thing and come along dressed up as
zombies or whatever, but no one should go away seriously frightened. In the end it all comes down to having fun.’
Fun indeed! What a low-brow notion! But then, we all know, in our heart ofhearts, that with ‘high culture’ and ‘low culture’ the height differential most often relates to boredom content as much as anything.
Black Sunday takes place at the Salon Cinema, Vinicombe Street, Glasgow, starting at 11 pm on Sat 24 and going right through to 6.30pm on Sun 25. Tickets £1 7. 50 (£15 Student) and are available only by calling David Bryan on 061 766 2566.
TOP TEN BIZARRE
1. The Incredlbly Strange Creatures Who Came To Earth, Stopped Breathing And Became Crazy, Mixed-Up Zombies 2. Zadar! Cow From Hell
3. Stull Stephanle In the lnclnerator
4. Dracula Searches For Vlrgln Blood
. . . And Dles olThlrstl
5. Let's Scare Jessica To Death
6. Return of the Killer Tomatoes
7. The Cars That Ate Parls
8. The Corpse Displays Traces ol Sexual Violence
9. My Mum’s A Werewolf
10. Plranha Women In the Avocado Jungle of Death
The List 23 February — 8 March 199011