Just one of the many strengths of the horror genre is it’s ability to reflect and respond to the current tide of social ills and trends. You name it from political to economical to environmental, there’s a horror movie out there that can both entertain and provoke you on a deeper level to gain some kind of perspective on the ever changing world we live in. One director that has done this repeatedly, is David Cronenberg.
Two obsessive and interlinked themes pervade his films; technological advancement and the human body. You can of course see this most acutely in his remake of The Fly, then of course Videodrome and also his 90’s techno horror Existenz. All three show a literal meshing of the human body with the technology that has come to define us. Of course being horror films, this is not a happy marriage as the human body becomes one with technology.
The reason I’m going off on one here is because a) I love the hell out of Cronenberg and b) we have the network premiere of Existenz on Horror this month and is my top pick of December.
Ahhh the late 90’s… what a feel good time that was, Labour were in, I was on Channel 4 doing video game show Bits, and none of my generation even had that miserable word ‘recession’ in our vocabulary! But as “Bits” was testament to, we were a growing nation of raving, drug-taking, computer–game-playing dead heads as games companies took console gaming to the next level and everyone started going on about virtual reality following paranoia movie The Lawnmower Man (92) So to cut a long story short eXistenZ is Cronenbergs take on the next generation in gaming; The Game pod. No plug socket required, just jack the game pod (oddly resembling an umbilical cord) directly into your spine and you’re hardwired to the pod and fully immersed in the game world! Freaky? You bet. Plotwise, games designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) has created an alternate reality called Existenz, where you can escape from the confines of who you are in the real world. When Geller is attacked by a gaming terrorist (Willem Dafoe) she, alongside PR sidekick (Jude Law) must go in to Existenz to uncover the dark secret behind her assassination attempt. But as they travel between the real and virtual worlds they become increasingly confused and lost as to where and who they really are.
eXistenZ (1999) Saturday 27th 9pm Network Premiere
My second big movie of the month is HATCHET III! If any of you have been to Frightfest you’ll have no doubt seen or spoken to the lovely go-getting director Adam Green about his previous movies Hatchet and Hatchet II which both premiered at Frightfest. Hatchet is Adam Green’s world; his baby and his ode to ‘old school American Horror.’ His winning recipie of great characters, strong final girl, hideous deformed killer, outrageous gore, comedy and sharp script have made this series of movies massive hits with horror fans. Hatchet III is actually directed by the previous two’s camerman BJ McDonnell though Green was still very much a driving force behind the film and wrote the script. In this final installment the action picks up directly after the second finishes, Marybeth (Danielle Harris) believes she’s killed Victor Crowley, but it soon becomes clear that some legends don’t die that easily. Marybeth is thrown in jail on suspicion of murder but alongside a journalist (Caroline Williams Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2) the pair come up with a plan to voodoo the shit out of Victor Crowley once and for all!
HATCHET III (2013) Saturday 20th Dec 11pm UK TV Premiere
Next up genre favourite (can this man do no wrong?!) Lance Henriksen stars in a ‘hard to define’ genre blender that takes family melodrama, survival horror and creature feature into the mix to create a refreshing horror piece. An estranged father and son embark on a hiking trip through the Texas backwoods to rebond but when the father suffers a horrific injury his son must take control. However it soon becomes clear that Daddy dearest is seeing terrifying phantoms in the woods, something monstrous or are these demons of the mind?
HAUNTED (2012) Saturday 6th Dec 9pm UK TV Premiere
A tale of pregnancy versus possession next! It’s a popular theme to take the potentially frightening thought of something you cannot see growing inside of you to deeper psychological levels and here we have a film that claims to be part Rosemary’s Baby part Paranormal Activity due to it’s found footage element. Newlyweds Trevor and Holly get their fortune told while on their honeymoon but things take a turn for the worse when they discover Holly’s pregnant. After her behaviour grows increasingly bizarre they must figure out if the threat is from her dark past, Trevor’s family or something more otherworldly…
CURSED (2013) Friday 5th Dec 9pm UK TV Premiere
Horror Channel has two more UK TV premieres in December; First up a teen scream slasher with a neat little twist. Along the same lines as I Know What You Did Last Summer and Prom Night a group of friends awaken the spirit of a girl they wronged long ago, but it seems this time the vengeful ghost does not just want them dead, she wants them erased from memory itself.
FORGET ME NOT Saturday 13th Dec 9pm UK TV Premiere
Lastly one for fans of Lord of the Rings in a fantasy action thriller which seems to have borrowed the Orc costumes from Peter Jacksons epic. The two worlds of mythical and human are about to collide when the gateway between them is opened. A mighty battle ensues that pits dragons elves and of course said Orcs against mankind! Can a reclusive Ex Special Forces operative become the hero we need?!
ORC WARS Boxing Day 9pm UK TV Premiere