Horrorthon 2014 Schedule

Tickets available at ifi.ie

Plus short film, Metamorphosis.

The directors will attend the screening.

15.00 EJECTA
Introduced by director Frank Henenlotter, followed by a Q&A.
Introduced by director Jessica Cameron, followed by a Q&A.
With live musical accompaniment by the Dublin Film Ensemble.
23.00 DEBUG

Free Event
Introduced by director Frank Henenlotter.
Introduced by director Frank Henenlotter, followed by a Q&A.
Introduced by director Jason Figgis.

14.40 THE PACT 2
Introduced by director Frank Henenlotter, followed by a Q&A.
With short film, The Tour, and introduced by Jessica Cameron.

30 Day Horror Movie Challenge

So you might be aware of these 30 day film challenges, you’re asked a different question for each day and you answer on Facebook or Twitter. In the run up to Halloween the 30 day horror film challenge is very popular and I want to do a podcast version of it.

My plan is to cover every question in a series of podcasts on the run up to Halloween, my own answer as well as a selection of past guests, friends and listeners answers. So if you want to be part of it have a look at the questions below and send me your answers. Please expand where possible, I want your thoughts and insights and if you feel you need to physically talk about the film you’re more than welcome to send me a soundbite –
email your answers to 30dayhorrorchallenge@gmail.com 


Day 1.     What was your first horror film?
Day 2.     Favourite UK or Ireland horror film?
Day 3.     Favourite classic horror movie?  (pre 1970)
Day 4.     Favourite horror remake?
Day 5.     Horror movie not enough people have seen but deserves more recognition?
Day 6.     Best horror franchise?
Day 7.     What horror film would you show to introduce a kid to the genre?
Day 8.     Favourite horror film character?
Day 9.     Favourite zombie film?
Day 10.   Favourite horror film in the last year?
Day 11.   Favourite foreign language European horror film?
Day 12.   Horror film you’ve seen more than any other horror film?
Day 13.   Which horror film has genuinely scared you the most?
Day 14.   Favourite slasher horror film?
Day 15.   Film that scared you most as a child? (doesn’t have to be horror)
Day 16.   Favourite vampire film?
Day 17.   Favourite Scream queen?
Day 18.   Horror film with the best soundtrack?
Day 19.   Favourite horror director?
Day 20.   Favourite horror villain?
Day 21.   Favourite horror film adapted from a novel?
Day 22.   Favourite comedy horror?
Day 23.   Favourite found footage horror film?
Day 24.   Most underrated horror film?
Day 25.   Biggest jump in a horror film?
Day 26.   Most memorable performance in a horror film?
Day 27.   Favourite monster horror film?
Day 28.   Favourite Asian horror?
Day 29.   Favourite horror film to watch on Halloween?
Day 30.   All time favourite horror film?

Blood on the Boards: three of the best examples of horror on stage

Horror works pretty damn well on in film we know that but how has it fared on the stage? Without editing, special effects or camera tricks? Here’s three of the best.

The Woman in Black
Terrorizing theatre audiences since 1987 The Woman in Black is a very British ghost story, about young lawyer Arthur Kibbs and based on the 1983 novel by Susan Hill is reminscent of The Innocents or the BBC’s A Ghost Story for Christmas specials. http://www.groupleisure.com/Upload/PageAttachments/page13725/images/woman%20in%20black%202%20main.jpg

The stage play approaches the story in a very different way to the film, it’s actually quite meta. A play within a play, opening with the older protagagonist Arthur Kipps reading a manuscript of his story documenting his experience with the woman in black, a malicious and vengeful spirit. He meets the actor who is to play him in The Woman in Black and they act out the story with the actor playing Arthur and the real Arthur playing the supporting characters. As the two act out the story the doors around the theatre creak and bang and the woman in black herself begins making appearances within the story…and within the audience… yeesh! A terrifying experience.

Evil Dead: The Musical
And now for something completely different… Evil Dead the Muscical is a Canadian production that bases itself mainly on Evil Dead 2  but also includes elements from the others such as the tree rape scene from number one, strangely played for laughs but they pull it off.

Is it scary? Well apart from a few jumps…no… but apart from a few jumps neither is Evil Dead 2. What it is is a thrill ride of a show, like a silly old ghost train and it’s funny… very funny, with dialogue you wish they had in the films such as this exchange after an attack from Ash’s possessed severed hand:
Annie: Eew! That’s gross we have no idea where that hand’s been!
Ash: Actually babe I know exactly where that hand has been because that’s my hand!
(shows her his stump, turns to the audience)
Ash: …but it’s still pretty gross.http://infini-tropolis.com/articles/images/edmusicalHEADER2.jpg
Any production attached to Evil Dead wouldn’t be complete without the blood and EDTM is gushing, probably the bloodiest stage production in existence, so much so that there’s a “splatter zone” the preferred seats for hardcore fans, right in front of the stage where you get to be splattered with blood along with rest of the cast the cast. It’s a hella lotta fun

On top of the comedy and blood is of course the songs, it’s a musical after all and they’re quite catchy, every time a character is turned into a deadite we get a blast of the reoccurring tune “Look who’s evil now”! but the stand out is “What the fuck was that?!” …a tune which sums up the state of… actually just watch it.

Ghost Stories
A British production written by Jeremy Dyson of The League of Gentlemen fame is a vignette type story, told in the form of a lecture by Professor Phillip Goodman, a Professor of Parapsychology who wants to discuss the pychosis of people who have had ghostly experiences. He has taped three interviewees, each with their own story, as each recording is played it’s portrayed on stage in the first one- actually I have to stop there, Ghost Stories has a “give nothing away” policy, it asks to keep the surprises underwraps… there’s not even any stills from the production available, the best I do to break up all this text is this:
From what I can see there’s no current productions but it may re-emerge at any stage. I will say that it’s terrifying, it’s 80 minutes with no intermission and no toilet breaks (or you’re out!) of nasty psychological horror with some incredible on stage effects. Throughout it individual people can be heard screaming in the audience… what was making them scream? No idea. It chills many senses… even smell, I’ll leave it at that.

A Short History of the Found Footage Horror Film

Here’s an article I wrote for the arthouse Irish streaming service Volta in conjunction with their release of the excellent Willow Creek.

With the release of Willow Creek independent Bobcat Goldthwait’s venture into horror and the found footage sub-genre. To celebrate Bren Murphy takes a look at the brief history of the found footage horror film.

The earliest example of a found footage horror film is Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1980). The film doesn’t use the format all the way through but rather adapts it in the third act using traditional narrative at first to tell us of how a New York University anthropologist goes into the Amazon rainforest to find a missing documentary crew but returns only with their footage. He brings the footage back to New York to view, the rest of the film is that footage. We’re treated to an “unedited” documentary on cannibal tribes, showing the manipulation the crew uses between takes, artificially creating situations to film how the tribe reacts. Their methods however backfire and the true horror of angry cannibal tribe is caught on film. Cannibal Holocaust was an extremely controversial film, it used real life slaughter of animals and human death that was so realistic the filmmakers were arrested and made prove they didn’t actually kill anyone. It’s a tough watch and is really only for fans of extreme cinema, which is probably why this wasn’t the birth of new wave in the genre and a horror found footage film wouldn’t hit screens again until 1999 with The Blair Witch Project (1999).

Some of the earliest screenings of The Blair Witch Project where in fact on VHS tapes passed around college campuses, viewers sat down to watch the footage showing three students’ footage as they made their documentary about the fabled Blair Witch of Burkittsville, Maryland. The students end up getting lost in the local woods and seemingly stalked by an unseen force. After watching the film’s shocking finale, people would immediately wind up the old dial up internet connection and “Yahoo” the Blair Witch and the names of the missing film makers. They found websites confirming that what they had just seen was real, there was a legend of the Blair Witch and in October 1994 three student filmmakers went missing while making a documentary about it. Of course it wasn’t really real, it was the clever marketing of the filmmakers, who figured the best way to spread word of mouth about their low budget horror film was to make people think what they were watching was real. Eventually the film was picked up by a distributor and went on to be one of the most successful independent horror films ever made.

Surprisingly the success of The Blair Witch Project did not result in an immediate spate of found footage horror films hitting cinemas, there were a lot of smaller hard-core examples such as the August Underground series (2001 -2007) which remained just that, underground. The sub-genre was still so tiny that Cannibal Holocaust director Ruggero Deodato tried to sue the filmmakers of The Blair Witch Project for stealing his idea. Which looking back seems as ridiculous as Howard Hawks suing anyone else for daring to mix romance with screwball comedy. It wasn’t for several more years that the found footage films started to spill into the cinemas, the leader of this new wave was the hugely successful Paranormal Activity (2007).

Paranormal Activity is a barebones found footage horror film about a young couple experiencing ghostly goings on, they set up surveillance cameras to see what’s happening while they’re asleep and it reveals a lot more than a cheeky poltergeist. It was a hugely successful film that spun off several sequels that replaced the annual Saw films as the big horror Halloween release. With that success came the release of more found footage horror films, we got zombies in [REC] (2007) a Spanish film with a documentary crew trapped in a building that’s the source of an outbreak, even the zombie master himself George A. Romero used the format for Diary of the Dead (2008) and a got big scale disaster movie with Cloverfield (2008) portraying a bunch young New Yorkers, who’s party is interrupted by a giant monster.

The found footage format works perfectly for horror for many reasons. It can add an extra level of realism to the film, unlike a traditional fictional film the characters acknowledge the camera and it’s operator like they would a documentary, the mix of fictional horror with a documentary style, something we associate with non-fiction can trick the viewer into thinking what they’re watching is real, this along with the simplicity of a film like The Blair Witch Project can be extremely, effective, something you could argue has been lost in the more recent examples of found footage which have used more and more CGI and gore. Willow Creek (2013) however is a refreshing return to this style. It very closely follows The Blair Witch Project’s structure.

Willow Creek is a very pared down Bigfoot horror film, a couple making a documentary travel to the Bigfoot mecca, Bluff Creek, Orleans. Bluff Creek is the site of the infamous Patterson-Gimlin film which is the infamous footage of a supposed Bigfoot shot in 1967. The interview Bigfoot enthusiasts on the way to their campsite in the nearby woods. What Willow Creek does is something unique, make what’s considered a laughable figure of cryptozoology feel real and more importantly absolutely terrifying.

Watch Willow Creek on Volta here.

MANIAC – Mannequins on the Run

Maniac opens this Friday the 15th of March in Light House Cinema, it’s great! Light House programmer/podcast regular Charlene Lydon loved it so much she felt compelled to write this lovely piece.


There have been a slew of horror remakes over the past few years, some more successful than others. But rarely has a beloved piece of horror cinema been remade with rousing chorus of approvals. William Lustig’s beloved 1980 horror flick Maniac recently got the remake treatment by Franck Khalfoun and Alexandre Aja and, while we don’t want to go down the road of comparing it to the original, it achieves something rarely accomplished; it has become its own beast. And what a fine beast it is.

Khalfoun’s Maniac stars a fantastic Elijah Wood as the titular “maniac”, Frank, an artist who catches the eye of a beautiful photographer with his beautiful mannequins. However, the realistic quality of the mannequins masks a darkness within Frank, a seemingly quiet, likeable young man. He is a vicious stalker and killer of women.

When I say it stars Elijah Wood it must be pointed out that we are rarely actually looking at him, except through mirrors, etc. as the film is almost completely from the killer’s POV. It’s an interesting conceit that works surprisingly well mostly due to an amiable voice-over and a beautifully fluid camera.

So why bother remaking Maniac at all? Wasn’t the original gritty, grimy cityscape striking enough? Khalfoun’s cityscape is very different to Lustig’s. It is cool, clean, mostly deserted and smothered in neon. The thumping soundtrack, detached tone and slick visuals are so contemporary in tone that it is easy to detach yourself from the original completely (apart from a very nice visual reminder that lovingly pays homage to the film and its iconic artwork) and enjoy watching what is a very unique and solid horror film in its own right.

The screenplay by Alexandre Aja and Gregory Levasseur is streamlined if unspectacular and allows the cinematography, soundtrack and general sense of unease to do its job. Khalfoun skilfully crafts a slow-burning horror that begins in top gear from the outset, unrelenting from its first few minutes, but somehow never feels chaotic or “manic”, if you’ll forgive the wordplay. A warning to the faint-hearted however, do not forget that this film is made by French people and as we all know, French horror filmmakers pull no punches in the gore department. Maniac is no different. We feel the pain of every scalped follicle and not only that but we get to know the victims a bit more than I’m comfortable with before we see them meet their bloody demise. This can often be a tough watch, but in the way that a truly visceral horror film should be. Nobody does it like the French!

Maniac is arthouse horror at its best. Unafraid of its uniqueness, it doesn’t easily fit into genre trappings but maintains a high level of integrity throughout. Let’s hope to see much more of this level of filmmaking in genre cinema.

In Dublin? Get tickets for Maniac at Light House Cinema here

Keep an eye on my Twitter account @BrenUYB to see how you can win a Maniac poster and a dvd bundle courtesy of Metrodome.

Check out Charlene’s Film Blog


Arrow Video: bringing the art back to horror discs

The DVD/Blu-Ray industry is in trouble, but they’re not doing themselves any favours. Downloading or streaming a film legally or illegally is way to easy now. So the purveyors of physical discs have to entice us with other things like extra features or coming in packaging that looks cool.

Kick-ass packaging is something that particularly appeals to horror fans, maybe we’re nostalgic about the 80’s/90’s video shop, sneaking to the horror section looking at the pulpy cover art for films we were to young to watch. For me House comes to mind. What an intriguing cover.

Sometimes when you think they’re getting it right again they limit it to only one region. For example, North American audiences got this cover for House of the Devil DVD/Blu-Ray (and amazingly VHS!).

I love this image, even splashed out and bought the poster, imagine the disappointment when my preordered disc came looking like, this…

Now, in fairness this is actually still quite a stylish image, but when HOTD first came out, it received so much attention regarding its old-school, pulpy poster design, why change it for the UK/Ireland release?

Then the same thing happened with Ti West’s other film, The Innkeepers.
North American’s got this beauty.

UK and Ireland got this tacky crap. Which very much mis-sells the tone of the film.

It’s within this nightmare of first world problems that it’s a relief that we have Arrow Video. A UK based DVD/Blu-Ray distribution company that seems to be run by like-minded people. People who loved looking at the VHS cover art in the horror section when they were kids.So their discs come in boxes that look cool, some even have little windows, and several cards with alternative cover art, including the original release posters or newly commissioned pieces,  so that you can slide your. favourite cover in there… meaning I lie awake at night wondering if my selected cover for George A. Romero’s Martin really sells the film… it does, they all do.

See below for some of my favourites and buy your own here, support the guys who do it right and others may fall into line. Believe me, these things look great on your shelf… the films are pretty good too.

GhostWatch: A TV Horror Classic

In 1992 audiences were a lot different. With minimal exceptions (Cannibal Holocaust) the idea of a documentary/found footage style horror film was a far off notion till we were introduced to The Blair Witch Project and Paranormal Activity. As such people watched with a certain earnestness and gullibility, which was critical for both the success and tragedy of the broadcast of GhostWatch.


On Halloween night, 1992 I and many others across the UK and Ireland found ourselves watching GhostWatch, which seemed to be a live TV show on BBC1 presented by Michael Parkinson, a well respected British chat show host, a serious interviewer, from a time before only stand-up comedians hosted chat shows. Michael explained to us tonight they where investigating a haunting in a family home in Northolt, Greater London, where poltergeist activity was believed to be taking place…. Michael Parkinson was not a known for being a prankster.

Now let’s be clear on this. The last thing the BBC wanted to do was fool people into thinking GhostWatch was real, they placed it in their drama slot Screen One, complete with Screen One title before the show, they also insisted on writer’s credits at the start. However these details went unnoticed by many. Wall Street was on ITV that night (good choice for Halloween ITV!) and it’s ending slightly overlapped with the introduction to GhostWatch. Remember, this was before DVRs.

Michael was based in a studio which linked up to the rest of the cast based in the supposedly haunted house. These included Craig Charles (Lister from Red Dwarf) and Sarah Greene, who was best known for children’s TV. Both playing themselves acting as co-hosts. Craig cracking jokes and being playful and Sarah being serious and sensitive about the whole thing.

Sarah then talks to the family about their ghost problem who the children have named Pipes, because of his habit of knocking on the house’s plumbing… Yeesh.

As more of the story of Pipes in revealed, the more he starts appearing in brief flashes, we get glimpses of a bald man with a bloodied face. One compelling sequence involves CCTV footage of a poltergeist attack in the children’s bedroom. The video is shown at the start of the show and later a lady calls in to say she saw a figure in the corner of the room in the video. Both Michael and paranormal expert Dr. Lin Pascoe are skeptical yet still later look at the tape again, they play it and there is a clear figure in the corner by the curtains…

But Michael doesn’t see it! They rewind and watch again and the figure is gone! Terrifying.
Pipes pops up several more times, some kind Youtuber has put them all together here, but don’t watch if you’ve never seen GhostWatch, they’re fun to spot yourself.

These mind-raping blips of a malicious spirit really got into some people’s’ head. People who had just enjoyed Wall Street started thinking they were seeing real spirits and worse the presenters weren’t acknowledging them. Combining this with the realistically dull gruelling build up before pipes really went nuts and you scare the pants off people.

There was a number on screen for people to share their ghost stories, if rang you should hear a recording reassuring you that it was all fake, sorry about that… Happy Halloween!
But so many people rang the lines got jammed and only a handful of people heard that message.

After the broadcast the BBC were flooded with complaints from irate and frightened viewers, and British newspapers criticised the BBC the next day for the disturbing nature of some scenes, such as a cast member’s abduction and the several “possession” scenes. Tragically the broadcast was also linked to the suicide of a mentally disabled 18 year old factory worker, Martin Denham, who was tormented by the dodgy central heating in his home, Martin blamed the noise on Pipes. His suicide note read “if there are ghosts I will be … with you always as a ghost”.

GhostWatch was never broadcast by the BBC again and such a show was never attempted again, unless you count the “real” ghost hunting shows, which are more laughable than scary.

It’s available to watch in parts on Youtube but you could get the DVD here and turn off your smartphone, close the laptop, hide the remote and watch it as you would in 1992 and imagine how the line between reality and fiction got blurred.


Creator Stephen Volk
Starring Michael Parkinson
Sarah Greene
Mike Smith
Craig Charles
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Original channel BBC1
Release date 31 October 1992
Running time 91 minutes

Under Bren’s Bed: The Blair Witch Project


I was 15 when The Blair Witch Project came out in October 1999, I went to see it at the Screen on D’Olier Street in Dublin. I was and still am an avid reader of both Total Film and Empire Magazine, who were covering the hype and was closely following the phenomenon on the net, needless to say I was very excited.
First of all there was the rumours that it was real, genius! But even after that was proven nonsense it was still the most interesting film to come out that year. Reports of people running out of the cinema vomiting, amazing, there hasn’t been such an intense reaction to a horror film since The Exorcist (the fact that half of those people were vomiting because the camera work in BWP was so shakey doesn’t matter, the other half were scared).
The build up was unbearable. The UK’s Channel 4 had a fantastic documentary about the film a few nights before it opened. I recorded it and watched it twice. The anticipation was killing me, I couldn’t wait to get into that cinema and then it started…
I’m gonna pause here to say that this isn’t another “The Blair Witch was hyped up shit!” rant, because while yes it was hyped it, I feel it was anything but shit.
I was breathless, I was shaking, I loved it, it was everything I wanted it to be, nauseating, unsettling, slow burning, disturbing, bleak, harrowing, infuriating. In other words it’s not for the masses, it’s not a mainstream film, it should have been a tiny little cult horror film that people would pass around to people who they knew would appreciate this experiment in terror. Unfortunately that was never going to be the case, BWP became (regarding budget to gross income ratio) the most successful film ever made of that time.
This resulted in the crime that was the Blair Witch Backlash. People tore into it, calling it, boring, pointless, unscary and yes, nauseating.
And the ill advised sequel didn’t help much
I kept on loving it though as it also inspired me and thousands of other wannabe film-makers that thought they couldn’t make their film on a camcorder until they saw half of BWP was shot on a consumer type camcorder (the other half 16mm black and white film)
The Blair Witch Project remains a defining moment in cinema. It was a pure horror film when other’s were ironic or CGI laden. Studios started looking for the next low budget horror that can make them rich, future filmmakers started making their own witch projects in the woods and the Internet really showed what it could do in regards to marketing.

Only recently I revisited The Blair Witch Project, popped the rarely played disc into my player and viewed it after everything had long died down, the rumours, the hype, the buzz, the backlash. And that’s when you realise what a great horror it was… just to successful for it’s own good.

So pay your respects and revisit this fallen classic, chewed up and spit out by the audiences of the world because they were told they were going to see something different and strangely they weren’t being lied to.
Directed by Daniel Myrick
Eduardo Sánchez
Produced by Robin Cowie
Gregg Hale
Written by Daniel Myrick
Eduardo Sánchez
Starring Heather Donahue
Michael C. Williams
Joshua Leonard
Music by Antonio Cora
Cinematography Neal Fredericks
Editing by Daniel Myrick
Eduardo Sánchez
Studio Haxan Films
Distributed by Artisan Entertainment
Release date(s)
  • July 30, 1999 US
Running time 79 minutes
Country United States

Return to Glennascaul – Orson Welles’ Irish Horror Short

The man himself, Orson Welles dabbled in horror with this short Return to Glennascaul, shot right here in Dublin

Filmed during a break from his production of Othello, Orson starred in this 23 minute ghostly short, directed by Hilton Edwards, Welles plays himself on a break from shooting Othello, driving along a deserted road he encounters a hitchhiker with a ghostly story.

A storyline you may have heard before around a fire and a pint but worth looking at nonetheless for it’s inherant creepiness and injection of humour.
Unfortunately it’s hard to acquire without subtitles online, if you have a better link please share.