Day #556

Endless days with no word, no news, no contact from the outside world! Only now have I come to realise how much I rely on these films to give some meaning to my existence.

In the absence of any external stimulation I have taken to debating with myself in the mirror. Lately, these debates have become increasingly bad tempered and have actually ended in a mass brawl on 2 separate occasions. I regret to say that the index finger on my right hand was bitten off during the last one. This can't go on.

Why have the films stopped? What has happened to the person sending them through? Is he ill? Has he got bored with it? Or did he go on holiday up to Scotland with his wife and baby for a couple of weeks and has only just returned? I don't suppose I shall ever know...

But hallo! What is this? A sound and a glimmer of light from the TV! Dare I hope?


Tarantula is on my second list of favourite films. This second list is the REAL list - namely, the films that I would actually watch If I found myself on Death Row (again) and had one day left to live, and a DVD player. And the DVDs in question. Other films on this list include Escape To Victory, Kelly's Heroes and The Three Amigos.

The first list of my favourite films is my 'dinner party' list i.e. the films that I say are my favourites to try and impress in company, but have never actually watched. This list includes Citizen Kane, Battleship Potemkin and There Will Be Blood.

Obviously the first list is pretty much redundant in my present situation. But maybe one day this ordeal will all be over... maybe the force-field will open and I'll be allowed back into society... and maybe my next dinner party won't end up in a blood-bath where all the guests are slaughtered with fondue forks, and the host of the dinner party mysteriously missing. As a matter of interest, the long-forgotten proto-slasher flick "Blood-bath at the Dinner Party of Death (U.S. title 'The Fondue Massacre!') was based on this incident at my, sorry, that dinner party.

All of which leads rather neatly onto 'Tarantula', one of my favourite 50s Monster Movies. 'Tarantula' has absolutely everything a self-respecting 50's Creature Feature should have. Nowadays, we call these things cliches, but back in the 50s before cliches were invented, these were just things that happened in Monster Movies. I'm talking about:

1) A scientist playing 'God' by making animals bigger than they should be.
2) The beautiful female assistant with a bloke's name.
3) A beautiful but deadly desert landscape.
4) Some hobos being the first to get killed.
5) A wise-cracking hero who isn't a police or army officer but seems to be able to over-ride them and make decisions that everyone obeys.


6) A huge tarantula.

'Tarantula' has all these. Plus, it's directed by Jack Arnold, legend of 50s Sci-fi. Plus+, it has the finest actors possible in the lead roles. I'm talking about the sultry and sassy Mara Corday...

... also a welcome presence in The Giant Claw and The Black Scorpion.

And the wonderful, wonderful John Agar.

John Agar is right at the top of my second (i.e. my 'proper') list of favourite actors (this list also includes Chevy Chase). Something in him reminds me of Steve McQueen - perhaps its the way he overacts when explaining something perhaps (apologies to Steve McQueen fans that don't think he overacts). Sure, he's got the cheesiest of cheesy grins and he might not be the greatest actor in the world but I love the guy - not least because of the films he's been in; Attack of the Puppet People, Invisible Invaders, Brain from Planet Arous, Revenge of the Creature... I could go on. Only John Agar can deliver lines like "Giant freaks of any kind give me the willies!", and actually sound like the mere mention of him mentioning giant freaks is giving him a flashback of the willies. A legend, and he was a damn nice guy as well by all accounts.

And so to the remote Arizona desert town where John Agar - a local doctor - has been called in to investigate the mysterious death of a young man who just happened to work out at Professor Deemer's research laboratory. By lucky chance, just before driving out there he has a chance to give a lift to Professor Deemer's new assistant, Stefanie 'Steve' Clayton (Mara Corday). It's not long until they hook up to investigate the strange goings on that are... going on.

Which leads to Steve being startled by Professor Deemer one night, when he creeps up behind her in the lab and gives her a ticking off about showing unqualified people (John Agar of course) around the lab. Not an unreasonable request really. To which Steve replies by screaming "Oh my God, your FACE!" and runs off. This really is a great response to being told off by your boss. If you don't believe me, try it next time you get called into an office to discuss your attendance. It works every time!

But look! While we were distracted, a giant tarantula has escaped from the lab and is now wreaking havoc around the local desert, creeping around menacingly in the distance before we see great POV shots of it's fangs bearing down on hapless hobos. Hobos in the desert always get it in 50s sci-fi movies I'm afraid. In fact, only soldiers guarding downed UFOs fare worse.

This type of behaviour really can't be allowed to continue, and so its not long until John Agar puts his hippocratical oath to one side momentarily and calls in an air-strike. Remember that this was the 50's, long before conservation and environmental issues were in vogue - and long before the Vietnam War had given napalm and assorted defoliants a bad press...

... so the ending that we get to cheer and applaud is Clint Eastwood napalming the tarantula to death!

That'll teach it! Barbecued spider anyone?

Here's the trailer for your viewing pleasure:



Day #3

Another night in the igloo, another nightmare. Or was it real?

Asleep, or awake, I found myself lying on my bed trying to focus on a shadowy mass at the other end of my dwelling...

What is this that stands before me? Figure in black which points at me!
Turn around quick, and start to run, find out I'm the chosen one - oh no!

Big black shape with eyes of fire, telling people their desire, Satan's sitting there, he's smiling - watches those flames get higher and higher!

Oh no, no, please God help me! Is it the end, my friend? Satan's coming 'round the bend - people running 'cause they're scared - the people better go and beware! No, no, please, no!

Then I woke up for real - it was just a dream. Thought so.


I’m sorry, but Italian horror has never really done it for me. If I was spoiling for a fight (and I usually am) I’d say that Italian horror consists solely of big shiny knives, garish colours and ‘sexy’ women who actually aren’t sexy at all and look like drag queens.

That said I was more than willing to give Black Sabbath a chance. But I’m sorry to say that I still came away from it feeling distinctly underwhelmed.

Black Sabbath, a film by the legendary Mario Bava, is an anthology of 3 short horrors:

The Telephone
– A ‘sexy’ woman who actually isn’t very sexy at all is harassed by an obscene caller. Big shiny knives are involved. The twist is pretty lame. Next please.

The Wurdalak
– This is a lot more like it, thanks in no small part to a sinister as hell Boris Karloff who plays Gorca, a man turned into a vampire type creature, cursed to attack those he loves the most. The scene with the undead child outside the house pleading for his mama is pretty chilling. And it looks great, with lots of garish colours. However, the heroine is played by a ‘sexy’ woman who actually isn’t sexy at all and look more like a drag queen.

The Last Drop – A bitter nurse steals a ring from a dead patient and gets her comeuppance. Very Tales of the Crypt. The dead patient is bloody hideous and is exactly the sort of thing that would have shat me right up as a kid. But I’m 72 now and made of sterner stuff…

Sorry about that.

One problem I have with Black Sabbath is that the 3 tales don’t really come together as a whole(certainly not in the way that a wonderful Amicus anthology would, for example). The Telephone and The Last Drop have a similar theme I suppose, as both women are terrorised by real or imagined horrors in the supposed safety of their homes, but then where is The Wurdalak – a gothic, medieval vampire tale – meant to fit in?

So as I said, I was underwhelmed by Black Sabbath. The Wurdalak was the only highlight for me with its on-form Karloff, foreboding atmosphere and some genuinely imaginative cinematography. I’m not the kind of person who ever scores films out of 10 - that method is way too simple and easy, and I’ll fight until my dying breath before a review of mine ends in such a way - but If I was to mark the 3 tales individually, I’d give them a 4, 6 and 5 respectively. 15/30 then. Which is 5/10.

Oh, and I almost forget the end – where, for some bizarre reason the camera pulls away to reveal that Karloff is actually on a fake horse, and we see all the special effects guys and scenery shifters around him. If I’d been enjoying the film this would have ruined it.

Ile Trailero:




That last film I watched, 'Eden Lake', affected me no end. My nights are now filled with awful nightmares of murderous kids chasing me through an endless forest.

And now my waking hours are being invaded - haunted even - by ghostly children as the wind that whistles through the igloo now sounds to my fragile mind like children's laughter. Menacing. Mocking. Malevolent. Murderous. And bloody annoying.

So I pray for something to take my mind off this macabre train of thought. I note that I haven't had an old classic horror to watch for a while. Something from the 40's or 50's would be a welcome piece of nostalgia for me to enjoy, for example.

Aha! Here comes today's film, and I think I'm in luck! Unless I'm very much mistaken I can see the faint outline of Boris Karloff appearing through the static...


My name is The Igloo Keeper and I am a horror fan. I watch 30 or 40 new horror films a year knowing that most of them will be rubbish. I do this because 7 or 8 will be worth watching. A couple will be great.

The Children is directed by Tom Shankland, whose previous film, Waz, you might know by its alternate tiles Wdelta Z or The Killing Gene. Don’t get me started on alternate titles.

Is it any good? Yes. One of the best horrors I’ve seen in a long time in fact. Tom Shankland sure knows how to direct. The cinematography and use of sound in this film is outstanding. You feel that the camera is always placed in the correct – if sometimes unusual – position (one particularly effective aerial outdoor shot springs to mind as we follow a trail of blood). Best of all, he treats the audience with a degree of intelligence. We pass by a table with scissors on it. We pass the table again and notice the scissors are missing – if we’re paying attention that is…

All this wouldn’t count for much if The Children didn’t deliver in the horror department, and thankfully it does. I was genuinely unsettled and creeped out throughout. At one stage I literally felt my spine chill (only to discover an icicle from the igloo roof was dripping down my back).

Creepy children are a horror staple, but some might say they’re a bit of a cliché.

How can you make them scary without being a bit… silly? Well, what Tom (I’ve decided I like him so much I’m going to call him by his first name) does is use restraint. He doesn’t ask them to act spooky or evil. He pretty much gets them to act like kids. And this works because it makes things believable – wonderfully, horrifyingly believable - even when these kids are running around with sharp pointy objects and playing the most peculiar games with dead bodies.

Here’s the plot in brief – a smug couple with a couple of kids arrive at their friends’ remote country home. Their friends are another smug couple with loads of kids. One of the kids gets sick. He goes a bit weird. Slowly, the other kids follow suit. Weirdness turns into a depraved bloodlust for adult flesh! That last line is a bit of an exaggeration, but I like it so I’ll leave it in. There also appears to be some sort of sub-text about abortion and pregnancy that I couldn't quite work out.

In summary then, dear reader, The Children manages to avoid most horror cliches, and is a genuinely unsettling and scary film made with real skill and flair. This is rare. So please enjoy it.

The only bad thing about the film is the rather lame 'You bought them into this world...' tag-line on the poster and on this trailer. Tom obviously didn't have anything to do with that.


EDEN LAKE (2008)


Another blizzard, another day alone in the igloo with my thoughts. Thoughts of childhood, and of my loving mother. A saint, now no longer with us - cruelly taken one fateful day in November 1903.

Some lunatic had attacked her with an axe and hidden her under the woodpile. The same woodpile where I'd often wile away the hours, chopping firewood for the stove.

Life was never the same after mother passed. Father became distant and cold. I think he blamed me for her dying as indeed, did the police and local community. But the murder weapon was never found.

And so I became a loner and would often walk for hours, fishing sometimes at an undiscovered lake some miles within the forest. Nobody else ever came there. It was very deep in parts.

EDEN LAKE (2008)

I’ve watched Eden Lake, so now at least I know I’ll never have to watch it again. It’s not a bad film. Just… grim.

Eden Lake is yet another addition to the kids-terrorising- adults genre (Ils, Funny Games etc.) and also has a lot in common with the pre-slasher 70s Horror/Thrillers such as Deliverance and I Spit on Your Grave, to name two.

Like I said, it’s grim. But I say enough! Enough negativity! Surely there is good to be found in anyone or anything? So let me try and put a positive spin on Eden Lake. It might even have a happy ending...

Eden Lake is the charming tale of a carefree childhood. It follows a gang of great chums and their faithful dog who spend their days cycling around town and roaming through the local woods, having fun and getting into adventures.

One beautiful sunny day the lovable rogues are having fun at the local lake, playing music and kicking a football gently to one another.

But then the girl in the gang feels a pair of eyes prying on her. She thinks nothing of it at first, but then notices an odd looking man and woman further along the lake, staring at them intently. The gang's dog goes to investigate but runs back with its tail between its leg – something is amiss.

Suddenly, the man appears and starts acting aggressively. He grabs the stereo and turns the music off, then unashamedly ogles the girl’s tits. The gang are shocked and upset, and decide to leave.

But the nightmare is only just beginning. One of the gang, Brett, arrives home only to find that the man has followed him, and is lying in wait INSIDE his house! Thankfully Brett’s dad arrives home and the cowardly stalker manages to escape.

Now things take a turn for the worse. That night, as the gang are singing hymns around a camp-fire, the man and woman turn up again. The man attacks and in a fit of cruelty and madness, kills Brett’s beautiful dog!

The gang, acting in self-defence, manage to capture and subdue the man. However, they don’t count on his fiendish female accomplice who turns into some John Rambo wannabe, and picks them off one by one with whatever weapon comes to hand…

Eventually our hero Brett manages to escape her clutches, and arrives home. Sanctuary! Thank God his nightmare is over at last! But look out Brett! The woman is in the house! She has a razor! Brett’s dad is slashed in a vicious attack but survives. The woman will never harm Brett again. He goes to bed, safe and sound…

Sure, Eden Lake is intense at times but it’s still a great, heart-warming feel-good flick for all the family. Go see it!