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New Escapist Column! On “Scream 2” as the Perfect Slasher Sequel…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist last week. With the film’s 25th anniversary approaching and Halloween coming up, it seemed like a good time to talk about Scream 2, Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven’s underrated slasher sequel.

Scream 2 is in many ways the perfect sequel to a smash success like the original Scream, despite its rushed and troubled production. Scream 2 is a movie that manages to both double-down on what made Scream so compelling, while also honing in on the emotional heart of the story being told. It’s the rare sequel that manages to heighten an already heightened premise, without ever losing sight of the characters within the story. It’s clever, it’s funny, but it’s also very sharply observed.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Podcast! Vampire Videos – “Shadow of the Vampire (2000)”

I was thrilled to be invited to join the great Dan Owen and Hugh McStay for an episode of their new podcast, Vampire Videos.

It was a thrill to get to talk about, and revisit, Shadow of the Vampire. It was the first time I had watched the meta horror commentary in decades, so it was fascinating to return to it with new eyes and a deeper understanding of the film’s historical context. It’s a movie that ties together the history of the vampire and origins of cinema as a medium, constructing a pitch black horror comedy about the paradox of the movie camera as an instrument that both steals life and grants immortality.

You can listen directly to the episode below or by clicking here.

308. feardotcom (-#67)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guest Diamanda Hagan, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, William Malone’s feardotcom.

Detective Mike Reilly has spent the past few years in pursuit of the online serial killer who goes by the name of “the Doctor”, a murderer who streams his crimes on the internet for all to watch. Reassigned after failure to show any results, Reilly finds himself investigating a seemingly unrelated case of contagion that is spreading through New York City. However, Reilly soon discovers that the two cases are more closely linked than he could have imagined.

At time of recording, it was ranked 67th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On the Meanness and Meaninglessness of “Halloween Kills”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the upcoming release of Halloween Ends, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the last entry in the horror franchise.

Halloween Kills is a divisive addition to the slasher movie canon, a grubby and nihilistic horror movie that completely lacks a central ordering principle. Halloween Kills is a movie without a hero. Instead, it is just a monster and his victims. The result is a surprisingly brutaly and bloody slasher movie from a major studio, at a point in time where these films are becoming increasingly homogenised by the logic of intellectual property brand management. Halloween Kills is a film in which there is no reason or logic for the horror that unfolds, and that only serves to make it more scary.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! On How “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” is a Film with Two Authors…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will be completely separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at a specific film: Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. It’s a Marvel Studios production from director Sam Raimi, and it manages to strike an interesting balance between those two creative poles. The film is very obviously of a piece with the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, it is also undeniably a Sam Raimi movie. As a result, it is an interesting case study when it comes to talking about the idea of authorship within movies – in particular the idea that films can have multiple authors, and what makes Raimi so suited to working with Marvel Studios.

New Escapist Column! On “Prey” and “Predator” as Postcolonial Horrors…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. It’s a big weekend for media releases, but the weekend’s best new release is Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey, a sequel to the science-fiction action classic Predator. So it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what makes Prey such a satisfying sequel.

The original Predator is a postcolonial horror movie. It is a film about a foreign intervention that goes horribly astray when an elite commando unit find themselves hunted while on the wrong side of the border in Central America. Predator evokes contemporary anxieties over Vietnam, but also about American foreign intervention more broadly. Prey is a worthy follow-up to this, expanding and deepening the theme by setting the story on the American frontier and focusing on an indigenous protagonist.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! In the “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” Franchise…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With the release of Texas Chainsaw Massacre on Netflix, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the larger franchise spawned from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is one of the defining horror movies of the seventies, an innovative and influential low-budget indie that demonstrated what was possible outside the mainstream production machine. However, few horror classics have been as poorly served by the sequels that followed as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. While most other major horror franchises can boast a genuine (or even just cult) classic among their sequels, the sequels to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre have been a slow and brutal slog into generic horror nonsense. Texas Chainsaw Massacre is just the latest stop on that journey.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On What Makes “Yellowjackets” the Buzziest Show of the Moment…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. The first season of Yellowjackets wrapped up this week, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to take a look at what has become the buzziest show on television.

Yellowjackets has a premise very similar to Lost, featuring a time-shifted narrative following a bunch of plane-crash survivors trapped in the wilderness as potentially supernatural events unfold around them. However, Yellowjackets follows the survivors after their return to civilisation rather than before the crash. Yellowjackets is essentially a paranoid survival horror, and one that resonates with these divided and chaotic times. It’s a show about the horrors of what happens when civilisation collapses and when people turn to monstrous belief in sheer desperation, but also about what it’s like to live with that.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How “Scream” is a Cutting Commentary on the Noise Around the “Star Wars” Sequels…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Scream this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to delve into the latest entry in the beloved horror franchise.

What is most interesting about the latest Scream is the extent to which it feels largely divorced and separated from the horror genre, particularly compared to the earlier films in the franchise. Instead, Scream seems much more engaged with the modern Star Wars films, borrowing key plot points and background lore from recent entries in the franchise. More than that, it’s a film that is very aggressively engaged with the fandom discussion around those films.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On How the “Chucky” Franchise Is About Being Both Mass Produced and Remaining One of a Kind…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. I’ve been watching the Child’s Play and Chucky franchise, and so it seemed like a good opportunity to delve into one of the more distinctive major horror franchises.

There’s an interesting tension to the Chucky franchise, one that plays out across the various entries. This is a horror series about a mass-produced piece of children’s entertainment, controlled by the demented soul of a monstrous serial killer. Much of the franchise is about the contrast between those two ideas: the factory-assembled doll and the distinctive spirit inside of it. It works well as a metaphor for the larger Chucky franchise as a whole, which has changed form repeatedly across its various incarnations, but somehow managed to retain a unique and consistent identity.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.