Browsing Tag


Posted on November 23, 2023

Why You Should Watch The City of the Dead (and its Striking Resemblance to Psycho)

Dawn Keetley

It’s a moment of uncanny serendipity in horror film history.

The City of the Dead (re-named Horror Hotel in the US) – the first directorial project of Argentinian-born British director, John Llewellyn Moxey – was released in the UK in September 1960. Produced by Americans Milton Subotsky and Max J. Rosenberg, the film is generally considered to be the unofficial first of their Amicus Productions (a British company they would officially found shortly after the release of City of the Dead, and which had an impact on the horror genre in the 1960s that was second perhaps only to Hammer Studios)[i]. Filming commenced “at Shepperton Studios [in Surrey, England] in the Summer of 1959,” [ii] running at least through October.

The vastly more famous Psycho, produced and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, made at Universal Studios in the US and distributed by Paramount Pictures, was released in New York City in June 1960 and saw general distribution, like City of the Dead, in September 1960. Also like City of the Dead, filming began on Psycho in the later half of 1959 (running, specifically, between November 1959 and February 1960).

In other words, there’s virtually no way that either City of the Dead or Psycho could have influenced the other. And yet, they share some striking similarities. They are also, I should add, profoundly different in their approach to horror. Both these similarities and this difference are worth exploring.

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Posted on November 9, 2023

Saw: Liberalism’s Favourite Franchise

Guest Post

I recently came across a web-comic that satirised the premise of Breaking Bad. The gist of it is that Breaking Bad would never work in a country with free healthcare, since Walter White’s impetus for selling drugs is to cover the exorbitant cost of his cancer treatment.

Now this is arguably an oversimplification, but it is funny nonetheless and does illustrate how neoliberalism is often a driving force behind films and series.  This is especially so if the media in question is a US-based production where the liberal ideology of individual choice, meritocracy, and pulling oneself up by their bootstraps is firmly entrenched in the larger social consciousness. In the US, you are the master of your own fate, and you don’t need a handout. Now while it might not, at first glance, appear to be the case with the Saw franchise, the series has a deeply entrenched philosophy of aggressive individualism that covertly celebrates liberalism and glosses over systemic and societal factors underpinning many social ills.

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A teenager in a yellow robe holds a petrified hand.
Posted on October 26, 2023

A Hand to Hold: Talking Talk to Me (2023)

Elizabeth Erwin/ Podcast

In today’s episode, Australian horror takes center stage courtesy of Danny Philippou and Michael Philippou’s Talk to Me (2023). In the film, Mia, who is grappling with the imminent second anniversary of her mother’s death, attends a party with Jade, her best friend, and Riley, Jade’s brother. There, they are given the opportunity to commune with the spirit world via an embalmed hand. Predictably, things do not go according to plan. With unrelenting hype and a domestic box office gross outpacing other A24 releases, the film is a potent hybrid of gore and dread but is it the best horror film of the year so far? We’re breaking it all down today with spoilers so stay tuned!

Posted on October 25, 2023

Face to Face: Indigenous Experience and Zombie Cinema

Guest Post

In June 1981, Minister of Fisheries Lucien Lessard authorised more than 300 Quebec Provincial Police (QPP) to raid the Restigouche Reserve in relation to restrictions placed upon the indigenous peoples by the Department of Fisheries: the point of contention was salmon fishing rights; the Mi’kmaq claimed their right to fish salmon six nights a week while the Quebec government attempted to limit their fishing to three days a week as, according to them, their fishing practices were endangering the salmon population. A survey commissioned by the Mi’kmaq and undertaken by Dr. Alan Roy demonstrated the indigenous salmon haul did not exceed 1,200 fish a year, a smaller amount compared to the 1,800 per year that were fished by commercial organisations (Ambroziak). Despite this, the QPP raid occurred and, one of the young people involved was Mi’kmaq Jeff Barnaby:

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Posted on October 24, 2023

The Best of R. L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour

Dawn Keetley

R. L Stine’s The Haunting Hour is an excellent – and distinctly underrated youth horror series. It ran for four seasons from late in 2010 until 2014 on Discovery Family and should definitely be talked about more than it is.

In this essay, I’m going to highlight some of the best episodes of the series – adding to the list over time. I’d love to hear from readers – and viewers of the series – what your favorite episodes are.

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