More to Me Than HIV

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More to Me Than HIV

First published in Gscene July 2020 For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library.For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being           Read more

More to Me Than HIV: GScene post Aug 2020

More to Me Than HIV is a project that aims to breakdown the stigma that has historically been attached to this virus.  When I saw my piece in last months Gscene to promote the More to Me Than HIV project, I was extremely proud, but a small part of me was filled with anxiety; but why should I feel this way? I have been on effective antiretroviral therapy since the Read more

More to Me Than HIV: first published in GScene July 2020

For last years World AIDS Day I put together a public project of work joining other people living with an HIV+ diagnoses at Jubilee library. For the project I spoke openly about my journey having being             diagnosed HIV+ 32 years previous. Back then there was no treatment and a lot of fear and misinformation concerning how HIV was transmitted. As such stigma was rife, Read more

The Turn of The Screw

It’s Christmas time, so let’s get afraid…with a good christmas horror film!!!

I enjoy Christmas, putting the tinsel up and popping a fairy on top of an over decorated tree are all part of the festive cheer, but there can be a bit too much saccharine this time of year. Should you find yourself reaching for the insulin when Sugar plum fairy shoves bucket loads of sweets down your throat while watching The Nutcracker, then it really is time to seek out an anti-Christmas alternatives and what better way then to order in some classic Christmas horror (and one ghost) films.

For me, there is nothing worse then settling down with some popcorn, chocolate and a glass of eggnog, only to find that the film you have your warm woollen mitts on is just so lame that you end up fast forwarding it knowing full well who or why ‘did it’ and instantly forget (or care) by the end of the credits. So, with this in mind, here are my ‘Top Five Classic Christmas Horror (and one ghost) Films’.
5) Black Christmas 1974 (1974).

Black Christmas

This is one of my sister Dawn’s favourite 70’s horror films and one I remember her telling me all about the creative deaths! Way before the likes of lone stalker horror films like, Halloween and Friday the 13th came along, Black Christmas was setting up many of the tropes that would be exploited in the nod and wink, Scream series. The now familiar premise sees a group of ‘sorority girls’ getting ready to celebrate Christmas. The girls have been receiving anonymous phone calls from someone they call, The Moaner as he just breaths heavy down the phone.
After calling The Moaners bluff, he replies with the chilling threat that he will kill them all.
As with this slasher film and all the ones that would follow, it is the inventive way the killer bumps of his victims that stays with the audience. (Spoiler alert) The first death is particularly gruesome and will have you will be cling-filming that left over turkey in a very different way. For me, the most memorable murder comes when the killer (is it The Moaner?) bumps off the Housemother, Mrs Mac (a comical ‘fishwife’ character) who makes the classic Slasher film victim mistake by going up into the attic (The other ‘No, No,’ is to go down into the cellar or call out, “who’s there?” when going to investigate a noise outside). Anyway, back to Black Christmas, Mrs. Mac having no idea of the horror film rules pops up into the attic and sees the killers handy work of his cling-film victim. Mrs Mac is swiftly dispatched by a swinging hook and zipped up into the attic.
Black Christmas is a slow burner allowing plenty of time for the audience to get to like the characters and then in turn have an emotional connection with them, making the experience all the more terrifying. Their was a remake of Black Christmas (2006) which added more gore due to the success of gore-porn fest of films like Hostel. But where the likes Hostel and the original had a strong storyline, Black Christmas (2006) relied too much on splattering the screen with blood, so my advice, stick to watching the original. (Spoiler alert) What makes Black Christmas so good is it ambiguous ending; Although we think the killer is dead the phone starts to ring…

4) Gremlins: The worse Christmas ever…. (1984).

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There are so many brilliant parts to Gremlins, from the dad getting a cute Mogwai creature for his son, Billy, Christmas present, to said Mogwai spitting fur balls that transform into the title of the film. However, for me, the favourite part of the film comes when Billy’s girlfriend tell’s Billy why she doesn’t like Christmas by retelling the classic Urban Legend (Although it has since gone on to happen in real life more then once!) of how her dad had dressed up as Santa with the intention of slipping down the chimney to surprise his family with gifts. Unbeknown to his wife and daughter they think he has gone missing and wait four or five days….it’s cold so his daughter lights a fire “It is then I recognised the smell” Fire men come, and find her dad has broken his neck and got stuck halfway done the chimney! eke!

3) Tales from the Crypt. Killer santa on the loose!

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This is another favourite of my sister and I’s, starring the Brilliant Joan Collins. Collins, Like Steve McQueen, started their careers in B-movies. While McQueen was seeing off The Blob, Collins was fighting Giant ants (Empire of the Ants). But it is Collins turn as a murderess wife in Tales from the Crypt that get’s her onto this list.
Based on the 1950’s comics of the same name, Collins bumps of her wealthy husband and then makes it look (quite unconvincingly if you ask me) like an accident along with the worse fake blood imaginable; all of which makes this chapter from Tales form the Crypt worth a look, but there is so much more! Borrowing once again from the Bumper Book of Urban Legends, the story unfolds with the radio announcing that a psychopath has escaped from the local asylum and is dressed as in a Santa outfit (as you do). The next ten minutes sees Collins world collapse as the Psycho Santa tries to break into her house. Unable to call the police (dead husband) Collin’s whizzers around the house locking all the windows, checking all the locks. But poor old Joan hadn’t banked on her excited young daughter spying Santa (who, it has to be said, looks pretty ropy) outside so she lets him in. Seriously though, If that scene was remade now both mother and daughter would quickly get weaponed up and kick that psycho Santa’s boney arse! Alas, poor Joan get’s her comeuppance as is the rule with this type of Horror.

4) Silent Night, Deadly Night. Trailer

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Dawn, I think you’d like this film, not because it is one of the all time classic Christmas films of all time, but because it is so bad and because of that it is so good.
Okay, here’s the plot, Billy and his baby brother Ricky, along with their parents are off to see their granddad on Christmas Eve. Good old Grandad, who has not spoken in years, waits to get Billy on his own and speaks! but instead of sharing christmas cheer, he tells young Billy that Santa know’s he has been bad and will punish him! Eke, eke eke!!
On the way home a robber (dressed as Santa) kills Billy’s parents forcing Billy and Ricky into an Orphanage, run by stick nuns, twisting poor Billy even further.
Fast forward ten years, Billy is working in a toy shop and on Christmas Eve is forced to be father Christmas. Doh!
Poor Billy’s mind snaps, he goes on a killing spree and…well that would spoil the fun! The film was highly criticised upon its release by people who never saw the film by parents who didn’t think Santa should be depicted as a homicidal maniac. The publicity made the film a cult, which in turn spun four more sequels and a remake!
For me personally, the original is the best, although Micky Rooney in part 4 as a demonic toy makes that particular sequel well worth a look as it will surly banish all cutesy memories of him in any of the five films with Judy Garland a distant memory.
But back to SNDN1; it’s clear that the main part of the budget was spent on Billy’s Santa suit, It’s rich, it’s plush, it even has bells on! The special effects are a bit rubbish….really bad in fact, but that’s all part of it, it’s like watching a modern day Ed wood directed movie, what more of a recommendation do you need!

5) The Innocents. Trailer

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Based on one of my all time favourite ghost stories, Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw, which has been adapted into films, an opera and even a ballet is a truly unnerving experience. The premises is pretty simple; a young woman, Miss Giddens (the brilliant Deborah Kerr) with limited experience of the world becomes a governess to two perfect children, Flora and Miles who’s parents are both dead, leaving their uncle (Michael Redgrave) who has no desire to look after either of them except financially, by keeping Miles at a private school and for the new governess to home school Flora at his country estate in the middle of nowhere. Isolation is always a great setting for a horror film, but it isn’t just the setting that creates the isolation for the young governess, but the fact that the only other (living) adult is the cook, played by Megs Grose (people of a certain age will know her better as Mrs Bridges from Up Stairs Down stairs) who can not read or write, an important plot devise to create further uncertainty about Miss Giddens take on reality. Mrs Grose informs the governess about the previous Governess, Miss Jessel who had been influenced by the Uncle’s Valet the rough and ready, Quint; both of whom are now dead. As the story unfolds, the governess sees both Miss Giddens and Quint on numerous occasions and becomes convinced the evil pair have come back from the grave to takeover the bodies of the governesses young charges. What makes this film particularly creepy (and been particularly popular with New Criticism) is that as a viewer you are never too sure if there is really a unworldly presence, or if it is the governess who is seeing things. The innocents of the children and the lack of education from the cook only help to compound the feeling of what is going on. However, it is the ending that is truly shocking and makes this film a real must for a chilling Christmas treat.

Posted on by admin in film, Gothic, Gothic horror, Horror 2 Comments

Writing 101:Day 14: To Whom It May Concern

Day Fourteen: To Whom It May Concern
Today’s Prompt: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What’s the first word that jumps off the page? Use this word as your springboard for inspiration. If you need a boost, Google the word and see what images appear, and then go from there.
Today’s twist: write the post in the form of a letter.
You have a number of options: you can write a letter to the word or an image, or an open letter to the world inspired by the word. You could pen a series of imaginary notes between you and a friend, or between two fictional characters, or between old you and young you.
Using a letter format can help you find new ways to build engaging scenes and stories. If your word was “Monday,” you could write:
I have a bad case of the Mondays.
But you could also write:
Dear Monday,
I admit it: I’m never happy to see you. I dread you in the morning, and on the drive to work, and from what I see on my Facebook feed, no one else likes you either.
Get it together, Monday.
Sincerely,
Me

For todays Challenge I picked up one of my favourite books of all time, The Turn of the Screw. On page 29 the word ‘morsel’ jumped out at me. Rather then write a letter to morsel, I am taking all the words my online thesaurus suggests for the word, ‘morsel’ and will incorporate them into a collection of letters from, Billy an ignored inner child. 

The words are:
Morsel
Mouthful
Bite
Nibble
Bit
Small piece
Soupçon
Taste
Sample
Spoonful
Forkful
Crumb
Grain
Particle
Fragment
Fraction
Scrap
Sliver
Shred
Pinch
Drop
Dollop
Whit
Atom
Granule
Segment

 

Letters from an ignored inner-child.

Dear William,

Just a morsel of recognition from you to let me know that you are aware of my very existence is all I ask, but you seem determined to keep me locked away deep inside of you. Why are you so stuffy all the time William? I know our father expects you to be a man already, but that is years away from now… Each morning when we wake up I long for us to get up and out of the house to run and laugh and be free. If I could, I would pinch you, to make you wake up, to feel alive. What is it you’re afraid off? Is it you’re scared you’ll fall over and father might catch you and give you a mouthful for shredding even a single tear, or that Nanny will try and mollycoddle you or worse, give you a spoonful of cod-liver oil and send you to bed early?
Please let me know you can hear me William, just a small piece of recognition is all I ask.

Love always

Billy, ignored inner-child.

 

Dear William,

Today we are fifteen, can’t you feel all of that excitement deep inside? Come on William, bite the bullet, let’s have a true taste of fun. Before we know it we’ll be all grown up, looking back on this small bit of our childhood and wonder why we didn’t sample more of the joys of being young.
Let’s run down to the lake and dare to skinny-dip for a bit, find a rope swing, let’s laugh, let’s scream, let’s live!!

Love always

Billy, ignored inner-child.

 

Dear William,

In a blink of an eye we’re eighteen! Don’t you ever think, “Crumbs, how time is passing by so quickly!”

Of course you don’t, you never have given a scrap of thought about how you’re wishing your youth away. But there’s still time to drop this serious persona you carry around like a dead weight. Don’t you know how horrible it has been to have your angst loaded down on me. Wasn’t it funny when our cousin, Robert jumped on you and gave you a blow back from his joint. For a fraction of a moment a fragment of joy slivered through both of us, I swear I even heard you giggle; but then you threw up and shouted at Robert to leave. You are nothing but a great big dollop of misery William, a great big dollop of misery.

Billy. Ignored inner-child.

 

Dear William,

I feel myself fading with each passing year, but there is still time to put a small segment aside for a forkful of fun. Just because our father was old before his time, does not mean we have to follow suit. A grain, a granule, no not even that! You didn’t even give a whit of hope for a chance of fun that could be had with Jessica Strand. She loves books, she’s bright, funny and intelligent. Every single atom of Jessica Strand shone when she smiled at you and asked if you were going to the end of year ball. So, what did you do? Take Jessica Strand in your arms and nibble her ear? No William, you didn’t even give her the merest soupçon of a kiss, instead you said you had to have an early night as you were going out shooting grouse with Father that day instead.

Regards

Billy, ignored inner child.

 

Dear William,

You win, I do not believe there is a single particle of joy left inside me. You have kept me in the shadows all our lives and without sunshine, a grain of fun, a glimmer of hope I admit defeat, you win.

Goodbye William.

Remember, I always loved you

Billy, ignored inner child.

 

Dear Billy,

This morning I woke up and felt like something buried deep inside of me had died.
For so long I ignored you and although I heard your voice I kept telling myself, tomorrow we’ll have fun, tomorrow we’ll go skinny-dipping in the lake, tomorrow we’ll ask Jessica Strand out on a date. But it’s all too late for any of that now, I just don’t feel the urge deep inside.

I heard that Jessica Strand married our cousin Robert. I meant to go to the wedding, but…well you know there was always something else to do.
Now, as I sit here all alone, I wish I could call you up, to feel just a morsel of the love you gave so freely.

Know this, Billy although it’s far too late. I miss you so much.

Love always

William.

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…………………Top 5 Horror Fiction

Halloween; a time of monsters, pumpkins and gorging yourself on sweets; preferring to have your front door pelted with eggs and loo roll rather than give anything to those pesky kids.

So with the front door securely locked and the curtains pulled tight, now is also a good time to grab yourself a horror classic, but which one is best? Here are my top five monster stories.

 

 

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