Get Out, review

Creating a horror these days is tough thing to do due to audiences becoming desensitised by violence after seeing it several times over. Being a master of this genre is equally tricky as it takes risks, originality and wit, all the key tools which Jordan Peele possesses. Better known as one half of comedy duo Key & Peele, he seems an unlikely candidate to create what is one of the most original horror movies of all time. Peele has been praised several times for his intensely terrifying film, Get Out, his directorial debut which he also wrote.

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Daniel Kaluuya stars as Chris Washington, a successful photographer who is African-American and has been seeing a Caucasian girl for five months called Rose Armitage (Allison Williams). The pair are visiting her parents, played superbly by Bradley Whitford and Catherine Keener, for the weekend which happens to coincide with a big annual party they throw for their esteemed guests. During his time at the Armitage’s home, Chris’s encounters with the entirely black staff are strange. They have an almost robotic look within their smiling faces and cold gaze, almost as if they are looking right through you. Throughout the film, there is a certain unnerving sense.

During the party sequence, each guest approaches Chris to poke and prod his existence in a slightly odd however seemingly friendly way. It’s an uncomfortable and interestingly humorous sequence which pushes the plot forward. It moves along at a perfect pace especially with its interjected moments of comedy gold from Milton Howery’s airport police officer Rod Williams who brings some big moments.

The film’s comment on liberal racism is prominent throughout, hinting at it now and then and occasionally throwing it in your face along with some gruesome horror and dark comedy. It’s consistently surprising but not in a typical horror movie way, there are rarely any moments of peace and quiet that are interrupted by a bang. The fear, intensity and thrills come more from the mood throughout the film, which you feel from the moment you enter the country house. Peele has crafted a movie which shows how smart a horror movie can be, whilst creating scenes that are intense, thrilling and funny all at once. It’s one hell of a talent to have.

4 out of 5.

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The Eyes Of My Mother, review

Nicolas Pesce has written and directed his debut feature film, in which he draws on his love of real life crime as well as Gothic horror movies from the 50s and 60s to tell this tale. Most horror movies love to show you how bloody they can be and how creative they are when they want to off someone. It’s a chance for horror creators and fan to revel in the mess that can be made when a serial killer is let loose. This isn’t the case for The Eyes of My Mother.

The story follows a slightly odd family who have a young daughter being raised in isolation at a farm in USA. The daughter grows up in a house where there is a a shocking a gruesome incident which causes her to become lonely. This manifests itself in her personality at a later age when she’s totally alone after losing both parents and becomes this psychopathic killer. The crimes she commits don’t stop her from trying to live a somewhat normal life, meeting people and bringing them back to her farmhouse. She’s evil and romantic rolled into one.  She is deeply portrayed by Olivia Bond (young Francisca) and Kika Magalhaes (older Francisca) who both give sterling, powerful and quietly understated performances. The cast are all friends of the director’s including Will Brill whose character Charlie has a darkly comic tone and Diana Agostini, the mother who has a very passionately disturbed way about her.

The Eyes of My Mother takes an entirely different direction with it’s approach to it’s own horror. The scenes of the most shocking violence are off screen, something for you to create in your own imagination. The black and white adds to that, giving it not only a dated feel but also a non-stylish version. It keeps it’s characters, story and location very grounded by implying certain acts and certain things which happen. It’s a smart and clever way of telling a story from Pesce, he’s crafted a frighteningly original horror with a female lead, something which is still surprisingly rare. There’s an eerie frustration in not knowing what’s going on, but this is also part of its brilliance. He’s a director who not only knows how to scare you but also when.

4 out of 5.

I spoke to the director, Nicolas Pesce about his directorial debut  The Eyes of My Mother. Check it out here.

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Industry Interview: Nicolas Pesce

I spoke to Nicolas Pesce about his debut film The Eyes of my Mother, a horror set in a family’s country home which he wrote and directed. Here’s what he had to say about his movie, his love for the genre and what he learned about himself.

When you finished this project, how did you feel? Relieved? Excited to get on with the next one?

I was both, relieved and excited. The movie went so quick I didn’t have much time to think about it. We shot it in 3 weeks and I had to cut it in 21 days before submitting it to Sundance, so the making of this movie was the 6 quickest weeks of my life. It was nice because I didn’t have time to be anxious or second guess myself, it was a really pure film making experience. I can trust my instincts, I didn’t have the time not to trust myself, that said I’m the kind of guy who is like as soon as it’s done and screened I’m like “Yes! On to the next one!” I’m ready for a new world to dive into.

That’s great! I found it quite creepy and eerie.

Well, good!

Yeah! What I found interesting was that it was more the horror that was implied the horror. It was cut from one scene to another, certain things seemed to happen off screen. Was that an early decision to not be too graphic?

Yeah I think the only moderately gorey thing you see is someone having their wounds stitched up. That’s because a lot of people have stitches. I think that the audience is better at scaring themselves than I am and if I put something on screen you can look away or divert your attention. All I have to do make you ask  yourself “What’s happening off screen?” and then your brain paints an image and now it’s just ingrained in you. It also forces you to engage more with it and it makes you more interactive which makes it scarier

What added to that was the fact that it’s shot in black and white. Is that your preferred way of doing things?

I wouldn’t say it’s my preferred way but for this movie it felt very appropriate from my inspiration off of the William Castle movies, the 50s and 60s American Gothic horror and none f these are in colour! When Hitchcock made Psycho, it wasn’t the norm to make a black and white movie, as  everyone was making colour movies. He made the choice to make it feel dated. I want the look of the film to be a more expressionistic view of an extension of what’s going on in this character’s mind who lives in this cold harsh reality which are void of any colour or warmth. It’s also a tonal thing, similar to noir films, playing with the shadows, what you can see and what you can’t see. If the film were to be in colour it would be distractingly stylised.

As director and writer of this film, where did the idea come from?

Well, I really wanted to explore a character who would normally be construed as the villain but also show you the banal ordinary side of their life to give you a different perspective of what you might think of a killer. I think no matter how violent a killer is, there’s probably a not very good reason of why they are like that. There’s an instinct in everyone and it comes out in certain people because of certain things and what’s so interesting about it is finding a character you felt sympathy for, have empathy for, but also were disgusted by and, as with real people, have the complexity of having all of those emotions in one. The fact that people are judged on this small, minuscule fraction of their life committing this crime and not to justify it but there’s a lot more life to be explored which would be the telling of why they did that.

The parents have very different ways of parenting their daughter. The mother seems to be over protective, however the father isn’t quite as shy about showing her certain things in life.

Yeah they are, there’s something odd about this family. Between the parental relationships and experience of something like this so young, it’s a bunch of environmental factors which made her who she is. There are certain things which happen in the movie that make me wonder what she’d be like if these things didn’t happen.

Where did you find the actors?

They are friends of mine who I have directed in music videos and Will Brill, who I’ve known for a really long time, he’s used to playing more comedic goofy roles and I thought that bringing this dark clown element to the film has a real juxtaposition about it. There’s something really clowny about him in a jovial and disturbing way and even at his worst, there’s something really darkly humourous about his tone. Kika, I had worked with on a music video, there’s an other worldly quality to her mannerisms, the way she held herself, the way she spoke that I thought that she’s happy and funny in real life. If you took these almost other worldly and alien qualities of her personality and have it a different context, there would be a realism to someone who still feels so odd.

For someone who has been promoting his film, and someone who is new to this, any tips for someone else who is doing something similar?

Well, I think you just have to throw yourself off the diving board and waiting for people to catch you! It’s fun and overwhelming, the most exciting thing is hearing what the audiences have to say. The thing that I love most, is over hearing what people have to say about your movie. It’s rare that you get to experience that, it’s unique and odd, you have people who want to ask you questions and have people come up to me. Just hearing the reaction. I have a better reaction to my film in Europe than I do back home in the Stares. Here there are more venues for art films and interesting genres, people want to see culty stuff. 10 years ago we didn’t know what was going to be cult but now we know from the get go.

Did you learn anything about yourself as a film maker?

Oh yeah! Film making in general you realise a lot about yourself. I wrote this script from a place of being a film fan and a fan of these sorts of stories, and you stand up on a stage where people are asking you why did you make this? It’s made me realise what I’m drawn are certain parts of humanity, that’s what I’m interested in. It makes you realise things about yourself such as I make movies about killers, I listen to podcasts about crimes and I love true crime documentaries and if I was not a film maker I would be an FBI profiler. I’d be trying to find serial killers because what this movie made me realise about myself was gaining an understanding of why people do things that the most part of me thinks is horrible. Crime, violence and murder are the craziest things a person can do to someone else and to explore why that can happen is something that’s very very interesting to me.

Check out the review for The Eyes of My Mother here.

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Prevenge, review

When the Ben Wheatley directed Sightseers came out, it put Alice Lowe at the forefront of British cinema, with her terrifying and hilarious performance as one of the murderous campers. She was well received in a film which isn’t really something for mainstream audiences, yet she made it work. The fact that she co-wrote the film is equally impressive. Well, it seems she has a taste for blood as she stars in her directorial debut, Prevenge which sees a soon-to-be mother exact revenge on several individuals who have done her wrong. Her experience as a writer on Sightseers shines through in a dynamic and original way, coming up with more and more shocking ways to kill her victims.

She stars as Ruth who goes on a murderous rampage during the final weeks of her pregnancy. Her victims are completely clueless until their final moments; she’s charming, sweet, horny, polite and psychotic. All the while, being told to do away with these people by her unborn child, Lowe has perfected the look of someone who can quickly switch between innocence and evil. 

In between her killing spree, we see her have a few sessions with her midwife who has a few gems of advice which appear to ring true. The back and fourth between the two regularly have nuggets of hilarity, as they clearly disagree on almost everything when it comes to life, giving birth and raising a child. A particularly stinging line comes from John Hartley’s midwife who says “You have absolutely no control over your mind or body now. Baby will tell you what to do.” 

We get to know most of her intended victims, of which there’s a misogynistic 70s DJ, an uptight career woman, a fitness freak and more. The DJ in particular seems to have had it coming for a while. You’ll almost be begging Ruth to do away with him after he proceeds to vomit in his afro wig (after which he plants a vomity kiss on Ruth, which will either make you sick, laugh or both.) 

From all of these encounters, she’s captured perfectly what it’s like on a night out trying to take someone home, in an interview situation with no hope, to meet someone genuinely nice but not being able to make it work (killing their flatmate doesn’t help relationships funnily enough). The film is as fun you as it is gruesome with plenty of people meeting their end in bloody fashion that can be compared to a time when horror movies were this gory. 

Alice Lowe was pregnant at the time of filming and, whilst some of her problems as Ruth during her final trimester are extreme, there are points raised which bare resemblance to everyday pregnancies. Not being able to find someone because you’re expecting which leads to Ruth covering up who she is. Interviewing for a job you need in order to make a bit extra but knowing full well that you won’t get it due to your unborn child. Unable to do interesting and adventurous activities because of your “condition” is painfully truthful. In a film about bloody revenge it’s Lowe’s incredible talent and insightful storytelling which takes this tale of vengeance just that much deeper. 

4 out of 5.

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How To Survive A Horror Movie

During this time of the year, lots of people will embark on the tradition of watching a horror film in order to celebrate Halloween. Others will be getting dressed up in their best and scariest costume to try and get whatever they can from their neighbourhood neighbours. And because it has been happening a fair bit up until recently, the clown craze will no doubt start up again. It’s an odd thing to randomly pop up and terrify people, being dressed up like a Ronald McDonald-esque character, it’s almost being like in a horror film. Being taken by surprise, unsure what’s going to happen, being spooked by mysterious creature and seemingly running for your life. But what do you do in that situation? How do you survive? What provisions should you keep on your person? Well horror fans (and non-fans) I’m here to guide you through this potentially horrific situation to make it…less painful. Shall we begin?

Supplies including food, water and first aid

A fairly basic guideline to adhere to but one that no one in horror films ever does. They run around, making themselves tired, hungry, thirsty and prone to injury, surely you can find things on the way? Perhaps Zombieland had it right, always keeping a massive vehicle on you for all sorts of paraphernalia. Although they just carried around guns, which to be fair, will come in handy during any sort of apocalypse. Which leads me neatly to my next tip for survival…

Ideal for those in 28 Days Later. Constantly running around, you’re going to want a lot of food and something to quench your thirst. 

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A variety of weapons

Obviously! There’s always something that you can use, just be creative! I’m looking around my living room, there’s candle sticks, a wide range of bottles around of course, a lamp, a few sculptures, a vase and so on. Throw it, beat them with it, just use it before you lose it!

Ideal for those in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. A weapon against a chainsaw, you might just stand a chance.

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A mirror to see behind you

There’s always that old trick of sneaking up behind people when they are alone with no chance of escape isn’t there? Perhaps a handy mirror would help them to survive just a little longer. Not one of those full length ones, a nice compact to carry around, just in case you fear that terror may strike! You never know!

Ideal for Marion Crane in Psycho. Maybe, just MAYBE, (if she used a mirror in the shower) she could have saved herself from Norman Bates.

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Wind up torch

This is one of the best inventions ever! In the horror movie genre, there seems to be a distinct lack of long-life batteries. It’s a borderline epidemic. The only solution to this is a wind up torch, they are wonderful! Not only will you not require batteries, but  We have one of these at home and frankly whilst you’re waiting for your killer / attacker to arrive, you can have hours of fun winding it up, I love it! It’s a toy AND it’s practical.

Ideal for Annabel in Mama. She NEVER turns on a light! 

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Another horror movie so you know what not to do

So many horror films you could refer to. So many times people run up the stairs and not out the front door. They leave the light off when there’s hundreds of them around you. Plenty of weapons to choose from and yet you run by them without thinking outside the box! A lot of horror films all seem to have space for stupidity, essentially what a lot of this genre is made up of. Just think if you had the knowledge of  another horror film, you wouldn’t go to that abandoned cabin, you would look behind you and you would run away as far as you can.

Ideal for Randy from Scream. He is the ultimate horror movie fan and even he cannot see the signs.

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The script

For a lot of films within this genre, there’s a formula that they follow. A lot of them circling around the notion that there is someone out to get them, normally in a secluded cabin / house / mansion where people have been warned not to visit. And normally the person who is chasing them / killing them is someone they are somehow connected to. It’s a good formula with varied twists and turns in each film to make it fresh. However, the characters we’re watching don’t seem to know that, perhaps if they had seen a horror film before, they would be in  considerably less peril. So reading a script or seeing the one of the film you’re in would be the best item of them all when it comes to your survival.

Ideal for every horror film, ever.

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And there you have it! I hope some of these tips come in handy so you can avoid the horrors of tonight. What else would you include? How will you survive?

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Hanging in there: The Walking Dead season 7

The Walking Dead is notorious for ending its seasons on a cliff hanger. Whether it’s who is killed, who survives, what will happen when they get somewhere or if Daryl dies or not. (Don’t forget to riot if he does!) Well, with season 7 on its way, and solving the “who did Negan kill” mystery, creator Robert Kirkman has hinted that season 7 may not end in such a way.

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In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kirkman said, “A lot of the responses were like, ‘Ah, these jerks trying to pull one over on us,’ and it’s like, ‘No. It’s all done in an effort to keep you entertained,’” Kirkman said. “I think as a creative person I have to acknowledge that all responses are valid, so I definitely have to take note that there’s a seemingly significant portion of the audience that wasn’t happy with that direction. So in that respect, I think everyone on ‘The Walking Dead’ creative team has taken note of that, and I don’t know that I would expect a similar cliffhanger at the end of season 7,” he added. “We love the fan base, we love the audience and so if you didn’t like this one, you’ll like the next one.”

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So there you have it, I suspect he may be telling porkies just because this isn’t always the way with this show. But we’ll have to wait and see about that. The Walking Dead returns to our small screens this October.

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Coming soon to Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later

For the first time ever, Secret Cinema is stepping into the world of horror with their project of Danny Boyle’s 2002 epic, 28 Day Later. The post-apocalyptic movie, which has been often attributed with the reinvigoration of the zombie horror movie sub-genre, will be shown at a secret in London as well as one other city.

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The film shows us what life in London would be like if the zombie apocalypse took place and it’s a pretty quiet place! We meet Jim, who is a survivor of the events that have changed London forever. Waking up by himself in a hospital, he finds a group of other survivors and they have to battle against several elements in order to stay alive.

Andrew Macdonald, producer of 28 days later said: “Secret Cinema never fails to amaze with their experiences, and its exciting to see them tackle their first ever horror. London prepare.”

Ciliain Murphy

The move into the horror genre is a brand new step for Secret Cinema and could open up doors to other horror films, genres and franchises in the coming years. I’m a huge fan of this film and for it to get the Secret Cinema treatment, it’s going to be spectacular. If you have ever been to any of their previous events including the most recent Back to the Future and Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, you’ll know the amount of effort they put into bringing these iconic movies to life.

Fabien Riggall, Founder and Creative Director of Secret Cinema said:

“Secret Cinema is excited to step into the world of horror with Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, a true British horror classic – we look forward to creating a suitably frightening and exhilarating experience. Secret Cinema’s expansion over the last nine years has been remarkable, we’ve now created experiences in New York and Berlin, as well as the many in London. But this will be a turning point for us as we embark upon our very first UK nationwide production.”

Secret Cinema will return from 14th April 2016 to 29th May 2016 and tickets are on sale now and you can purchase them via the Secret Cinema website: www.secretcinema.org/tickets.

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Walking Dead, colouring things……..and stuff

The Walking Dead TV show is a gruesome hit with all sorts of zombie fans, but now it seems they are trying to corner the kids market, and why not? Get them started young! They are releasing a brand new colouring book, it’s of The Walking Dead. Weird right?  Well it’s not that odd, Harry Potter have on, there has been a rise in adult colouring books in recent years and there is collection of celebrity faces you can add your unique touch to. They really are a thing of wonder. Plus you get to see recognisable images without the colour you’re used it. Very interesting and of course not for kids!

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The Walking Dead might be the last thing that needed more colour but it works out quite nicely when you think about it. There is still colour in this lifeless world they live in, plenty of blood and guts to add a splash of red and darker red to and you can create your own look as well.

Check out these images, frankly if I had the time and patience I’d love to try these out, they do look like so much fun. There are friends of mine who have been using these adult colouring books lately and they say that it’s a form of therapy. Apparently it’s a very well cornered bit of the market.

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The best 5 scenes from Scream, by Wes Craven

This week we lost a true master of horror, Wes Craven. The man who has given us so many memorable movies, quotes, scenes and characters unfortunately passed away on Sunday. A true talent who understood what it was to scare people, he could get into the mindset of his characters as well as the audience to scare the shit out of them! The pure brilliance behind the likes of The Nightmare on Elm Street was proof that this man knew what he was doing with this genre. Later on he used this knowledge in Scream, the 1996 film that has since spawned three sequels and a TV show.

Whilst it may not be everyone’s favourite horror film, I love it! It’s a guessing game until the almost end, I think it’s obvious who the killers are. Craven plays on other films be essentially taking the piss out of them. Throwing in references to his own films, having a speech about the rules which will help you successfully survive a horror movie, stereotypical  events (the girl running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door) all of which made Scream a great movie to watch and parody that you could take seriously, with this film he turned the genre on its head and poked fun at it. Because of this it’s one of my all time favourite horror films and here are my top five scenes.

1. Opening sequence

It’s truly a brutal way to begin the film. We have one teenage girl, Casey, at home alone who receives a call, and whilst they are playful at first, things take a turn for the worst. Her boyfriend Steve has been kidnapped and is currently strapped to a chair in her back garden, whilst she her attempts to save his life go downhill. In the end, he’s left with his insides on the outside whilst the parents of the girl find her hanging from a tree. A really horrific way to begin a film and it perfectly sets up the rest. One thought I had about this scene recently is that the parents come home to find their house filled with smoke and teenage daughter dead. Traumatic to say the least, they have even found Steve’s body yet, poor bastards! Check out the first five minutes here, I couldn’t find a clip of the entire thing unfortunately.

2. Tatum’s death

A tough female supporting character is always handy as she’ll provide some sassy comments, not giving a fuck attitude and will be resilient to the killer’s attempts to make her the next victim. At least, for a short while anyway. Tatum bit the dust when she had no where left to run besides the cat flap in the electric garage door. At first, after being cut by Ghostface, she throws bottles in defence and even knocks him down. It’s at this fatal moment, when things take a turn for the stupid. Tatum jumps down into the tiny cat flap door, get’s stuck and the killer very simply activating the garage door, so she gets sliced right at the top. The reason I’ve added this one in is because of how she died, mostly through desperation and stupidity. She starts off so well by defending herself with what ever she finds, knocks him over then tries to escape in the most ludicrous way possible instead of calling out to your friends who are on the other side of the door! Dammit! Anyway, it’s also an original death and no one knows she’s dead, besides the killer of course, for quite sometime.

3. Rules about horror films

Randy is the film fan within a horror film. The man who will know everything you need to know about surviving a horror film. A nice nod to the audience whilst mocking all horror movies at the same time. It’s a dam good scene where the geek is the centre of attention whilst at a party, just before the final couple of scenes. As he lists the rules, you’ll notice that the movie goes out of its way to break every single one of them, yet another way Craven mocked the genre in the best way possible. Check out the scene below.

4. The reveal of the killers

*SPOILER ALERT* Billy Loomis and Stu Macher reveal themselves to be the killers and it’s no entirely surprising. Billy was accused of being the killer earlier in the film when he was found with a mobile phone and Stu is bat-shit fucking crazy! Funny but he did exhibit all of the stereotypical killer attributes including talking about how to gut someone, actively defending himself and just being a little off, enough to assume that something wasn’t quite right. Something was quite wrong in fact, what with him killing people and all! And why did Stu do this? Down the peer pressure, really?! Billy’s reasons were clear cut. He reveals that he’s the one who killed Sidney’s mother a year ago because of an affair she has with his father causing Billy’s mum to abandon him. It’s almost heart breaking but then you remember he’s gone around the town, killing innocent people! Not the best way to chalk up sympathy. In the end, it’s this reveal that’s the most shocking (well, my final best scene from Scream is also shocking, in its own way.) due to the history of what has happened. Very well done!

5. Stu’s death

He’s a character with several screws lose, doesn’t always say the right thing at the right time and constantly goes out of his way to make others laugh. He’s such a great character which is why it was actually a shame that he had to die. Of course he had to die, being one of the orchestrators of the events the occurred in Woodsboro. His death happens when Sidney knocks him on the floor, smashes a vase on the back of his head, he’s almost out cold when she pushes the TV on his head, electrocuting him to death. With smoke coming out of the back of the TV, Stu lies there, with his time in this franchise coming to a shocking end. Superb.

There are a couple of things I want to note about this film, namely the references to other movies and one particular (almost) mention of a famous TV character:

  • Fred the janitor is played by Wes Craven and is the spitting image of Freddy Krueger, minus the blades on his gloves.
  • Linda Blair, the girl from The Exorcist, plays an obnoxious bitch of a reporter, demanding to get a story out of Sidney.
  • Henry Winkler, who played the Principal of the school, is most famous for play Arthur “Fonze” Fonzarelli in Happy Days and his first name in Scream? Arthur. Nicely done Wes, very nicely done.

Thank you for the nightmares Wes Craven, you gave us so much to scream about.

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#CreepyPaddington

I’m really so very sorry Paddington Bear fans, however these are too funny not to share! Someone, at some point, got it into their sick head to create one or two images of Paddington Bear standing in creepy locations from famous horror movie scenes. I want to show you what one hashtag (#CreepyPaddington) can do. This has gone haywire and whilst it may have begun with just a couple of images by one guy, there’ a lot more now.  Brilliant if you ask me, but sick if you ask any hardcore Paddington fan (do hardcore fans of this fuzzy little guy even exist?) They have taken one of the posters and frankly dicked about about with it, a lot!

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The original image, just above is in front of Buckingham Palace and this has take on a life of its own. Whilst it may have begun as a humble funny prank on the image, it has truly exploded, I’ve seen over 20 images of Paddington in very non-Paddington locations including in the Exorcist, in Paranormal Activity, Scream,Silence of the Lambs and then even going as far as putting him in the Kill Bill Volume 1 poster, Se7en, Fight Club, and so many more including THAT selfie by Ellen at the Oscars. Oh Paddington, you’ve done nothing wrong, besides stand there. Innocently. Quietly. Staring. Oh god, I can’t stop looking at his psychotic eyes, you scary son of a bitch, quit looking at me! SOMEONE HELP ME!