Wednesday 7 August 2019

Hiatus Update

Since my last post way back in 2015 I have been working as a Full Time Lecturer in Film and Television Theory. The demands of this teaching post have meant that I have had little time to write and publish as much as I used to. Despite this, a text I wrote about British Screenwriter Stephen Volk was publlished back in November 2016 in Lost Souls of Horror and the Gothic. The book can be ordered at amazon via this link: Lost Souls.

Sunday 30 August 2015

Hiatus Update

The second volume of the Directory of World Cinema: Britain has just been published by Intellect. I wrote the Key Chapter on contemporary British Horror Cinema (with a focus on the recent return of Hammer) as well as a number of critical overviews of UK horror films, including Gothic, Dog Soldiers and a personal favorite, Clive Barker's Hellraiser. The book is available to buy on Amazon via this link.

Wednesday 15 July 2015

Hiatus Update

Since my last post, a number of publication projects have come to fruition:

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, my third book for Auteur, has been published and has met with positive reviews. Joel Harley (at Horror Talk) comments typify the reviews so far when he commented

"It's in-depth, elegant, focused and with a remarkable attention to detail. Rose, an obvious fan and scholar of all things Chain Saw writes with clarity and intelligence… Like any good film criticism/appreciation book, it leaves you wanting to revisit the movie as soon as possible." 

My essay on contemporary British Horror Cinema and a number of reviews of such films will be shortly published in Intellect's forthcoming publication Directory of World Cinema: Britain (Volume 2). Edited by Neil Mitchell, the book builds upon the successes of Volume 1, with my essay looking at the homegrown horror from the Noughties onwards and considers some of the wider, more complex, implications these films offer. The book will be published August 6 and can be pre-ordered, via Amazon, here.

Finally, my entry on Stephen Volk for Lost Souls (McFarland, 2016), has been sent to editors Bernice Murphy and Elizabeth McCarthy for reading and proofing. The text looks at the ever growing body of work being produced by Volk and seeks to find consistency within his work, regardless of medium or platform.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Blog Hiatus

Due recently accepting a Full Time teaching post, my research and publications will decrease for a period of time while I settle into this new employment. Despite this, the following are all due for publication over the following months and years...

The Devil's Advocates: The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
Auteur Publishing, February 2013
ISBN-13: 978-1906733643

Directory of World Cinema: Britain 2
Edited by Neil Mitchell
Intellect, June 2015
ISBN-13: 978-1783203970

Lost Souls
Edited by Bernice Murphy and Elizabeth McCarthy
McFarland, Publication Date TBC

Thursday 6 September 2012

Recently Published

My article, Bullet by Bullet, a shot by shot analysis of the opening sequence to Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West, has just been published in the September 2012 edition of MediaMagazine. Here is a brief extract:
The opening of the film has a stark simplicity to it: three gunfighters arrive at a railway station that appears to be under construction. There they await the arrival of a train, a train which should be carrying the man whom they have been hired to kill. For most directors this sequence would be about the gunslinger’s purpose – to murder their target – but for Leone, a director obsessed by vast and grand images, unusual soundscapes and a sly sense of both humour and genre, transforms this basic premise into an eloquent and protracted sequence concerned with only one thing: waiting. Having entered the railway station and locked the station master in the cupboard, the gunslingers position themselves along the length of the platform. The apparent leader, Snaky (Jack Elam), big, imposing and with a lazy eye, sits on the bench and is annoyed by a fly. He catches it in the barrel of his pistol and, with it held against his forehead, listens to its angry buzzing as he sleeps. The second, a tall and muscular black man, Stony (Woody Strode), stands beneath a dripping girder. The water collects in his wide brimmed hat. When it is full, he slowly takes it off and drinks the water. The third gunslinger, Knuckles (Al Mulock), sits on a water trough and repeatedly cracks his knuckles. 
To order a copy of the September 2012 edition of MediaMagazine, please follow this link.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Forthcoming Book: The Texas Chain Saw Masscare

My third book is to be published in November 2012 by Auteur Publications: as part of their growing series The Devil's Advocates, the book is an in-depth critical analysis of Tobe Hooper's seminal film The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The book is avaible for pre-order at Columbia Uiveristy Press who describe the book as...

No-one who has ever seen the original The Texas Chain Saw Massacre is ever likely to forget the experience. An intense fever dream (or nightmare), it is remarkable for its sense of sustained threat and depiction of an insane but nonetheless (dys)functional family on the furthest reaches of society who have regressed to cannibalism in the face of economic hardship. As well as providing a summary of the making of the film, James Rose discusses the extraordinary censorship history of the film in the UK (essentially banned for two decades) and provides a detailed textual analysis of the film with particular reference to the concept of ‘the Uncanny’. He also situates the film in the context of horror film criticism (the ‘Final Girl’ character) and discusses its influence and subsequent sequels and remakes.

Preorder the book at Columbia Univerisity Press by following this link or at Waterstones by following this link.

Thursday 5 July 2012

Recently Published

My essay Reading the Monster in del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth has just been published in the latest edition of the Media Education Journal. The lengthy text provides a critical overview of del Toro's use of the monster and their potential biogrpahical connections to the director before providing an in-depth case study reading of the Pale Man from Pan's Labyrinth. Here's a brief extract...

From his visual appearance alone, it is clear that the Pale Man is an inhuman grotesque from the perspectives of Hurley, Bakhtin, Stallybrass and Allon: his body recalls the human form that bulges not in fat but on the excess of wasted flesh, his skin sags from his arms and face, it gathers at his neck, breast, stomach and genital region. Compounding this sense of the visually grotesque are the Pale Man’s walking movements for they direct attention to the lower regions – as he chases Ofelia in an effort to both catch her and consume her, he does not run or walk but instead stumbles, staggers, lurches and drags himself forward in his pursuit.

The grotesque appearance and movements of the Pale Man are furthered by his acts of consumption. Stallybrass and White state that within the grotesque there is an emphasis upon the orifices of the human body, most notably the mouth and the nostrils. In the appearance of the Pale Man there is a prominence of the cranial, a visual strategy which stresses the lack of eyes and brings to the fore the Monster’s slack jaw, the loose, gathered flesh around the mouth, the dark and bloody opening of the mouth itself and the distorted black holes of the nostrils. This construction of the face suggests the role of the devourer, one whom Ofelia recognises through the murals in the banqueting room as the devourer of children: having looked both at the vast amount of sumptuous food laid out on the table and the Pale Man, Ofelia looks around the perimeter of the banqueting room’s ceiling. In a point-of-view shot, the camera pans across a series of circular murals as a non-diegetic sound effect of children crying is heard. The murals depict various scenes of the Pale Man chasing children, capturing them and either piercing their stomachs’ with a sword or consuming them alive.

To order a copy of the magazine, please follow this link.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

Stephen Volk Interview and The Awakening Review

My recent interview with acclaimed writer Stephen Volk has just been published in the latest edition of The Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies. The interview covers the range of Volk's work and seeks to make sustained connections throughout these various films and television programmes as well as looking at the traces and evidences of the Gothic within them. Alongisde the interview is a review of Volk's latest film The Awakening. Extracts from both below...

Stephen Volk Interview

Rose: Ghosts dominate your work, Ghostwatch, Afterlife and The Awakening all being obvious examples. What is the appeal of ghosts for you?

Volk: The ghost is a device, essentially. One that enables you to discuss the theme of its fundamental nature, i.e death. For me, a ghost is a prism through which to explore certain ideas in a more vivid way, I think, than, say, a social realist drama ever could.

I think also the beauty of ghosts is that they are a very easy way for the audience to get the idea that the uncanny or unreal has entered the realm of the normal. No further explanation is needed. A more complex supernatural phenomenon (vampires, zombies, aliens) needs a setting up of rules and so on: whereas I think the person in the street has an inbuilt knowledge of what a so-called “ghost” is and how that is expected to work. Which you can conform to or confound, as you wish.

Rose: Do the ghosts that manifest themselves within your work function on a metaphoric level? Do they represent something other than an image of the deceased?

Volk: My approach is very much that the character who sees the ghost is the important thing, not so much the ghost itself. The ghost is there, symbolically, often, to represent or “amp-up” a fatal flaw in the character who sees it, or (in the case of Robert Bridge in Afterlife) to make tangible, or at least bring into focus, an unhealed psychological wound. This is a bit different from the traditional, folkloric idea of a ghost being there to bring a secret crime to justice (as in The Ring), but of course both can occur in the same story, and there are plenty of secrets and crimes in Afterlife too.

The Awakening Review 

The Awakening was written by acclaimed writer Stephen Volk and then reworked by director Nick Murphy. While this indicates a distillation of Volk’s authorial stamp, perhaps a more productive way of reviewing The Awakening is to consider it as a wider part of his growing body of work. Throughout his film, television, theatrical and fictional works, Volk has centred his narratives upon strong female characters and has often returned to the scene of the séance and the two fundamental characters that are implicit in that scenario, the clairvoyant/believer and the sceptic. While it is obvious to state that The Awakening clearly connects with these recurrent motifs, the séance sequence works more to establish Cathcart as a character through her beliefs and her methodology: she is presented as a strong woman, one who is clearly committed to the debunking of the supernatural through an understanding of the charlatan’s trickery and deceitful methods. Her strength and authority is further emphasised when the arresting detective tries tactfully to ask her not to order him into action in front of the constables. Yet this is all counter-balanced by the item she brings to the séance – a photograph of a soldier. When asked by the exposed medium if the man in the picture is indeed dead she doesn’t answer him directly but instead states that “This grotesque charade won’t bring him back.” Her response intimates an acceptance of her loss but, as the narrative progresses, it becomes blatantly apparent that she has not come to terms with it. Whether this loss motivates Cathcart into debunking séances is left ambiguous but perhaps, instead, motivates her to find a truth, as opposed to a deception, in Spiritualism.

Both the interview and review can be read by following this link.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Beyond Hammer gets a Mention...

I have just found out that my first book, Beyond Hammer: British Horror Cinema since 1970 was mentioned in the book The Best Horror of the Year. Edited by Ellen Datlow and published by Nightshade Books, Beyond Hammer is mentioned and briefly discussed in the opening Summation of the book.

Sunday 22 April 2012

Forthcoming Publications

The Directory of World Cinema: Britain will be published June 2012. Edited by Emma Bell and Neil Mitchell and published by Intellect Books, I contributed a historic account of the emergence and development of the British horror film alongside a series of reviews of various horror films, including The Haunted Curiosity Shop (Walter R. Booth, 1901), The Dead of Night (Various Directors, 1945) and Hellraiser (Clive Barker, 1987).

Bringing to mind rockers and royals, Buckingham Palace and the Scottish Highlands, Britain holds a special interest for international audiences who have flocked in recent years to quality British exports like Fish Tank, Trainspotting and The King’s Speech. A series of essays and articles exploring the definitive films of Great Britain, this addition to Intellect’s Directory of World Cinema series turns the focus on England together with Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

The Book can be preordered from either Intellect Books or Amazon.

Monday 2 April 2012

Recently Published

My Case Study on the hugely popular Electronic Arts game franchise Dead Space has just been published in the April 2012 edition of MediaMagazine. The article examines the game's production, marketing and reception as well as critiquing the various trans-media texts that surround the core narrative of the game. Here is a brief extract:

As a brand, EA has released a growing number of Dead Space games across the increasing number of gaming platforms: Dead Space was initially released on the three major gaming platforms – the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows. While it was expected that the next game in the series, Dead Space: Extraction, would be released onto all three platforms it wasn’t. Instead, it was released just onto the Wii. Whereas Dead Space was a Survival Horror/Third-Person Shooter, Extraction would be a Survival Horror/Rail Shooter game in order to take advantage of the controller system the Wii operates upon. Releasing Extraction just on the Wii was an interesting decision for EA to make for two reasons, primarily because the platform is not known for its mature content titles and, secondly, as a supposition, the experimental idea that the Wii’s controller system might make for a more immersive means for a Survival Horror/Shooter game.

To order a copy of this edition of MediaMagazine follow this link.

Wednesday 7 March 2012

Forthcoming Publications

I have just finished the Final Draft of my next book, a full length critique of Tobe Hopper's seminal horror film, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Published by Auteur Publishing as part of their Devil's Advocate series, the book provides an in depth account of the film's torturous production, scene by scene analysis of the entire film, character analysis and a chapter on the film's enduring legacy and subsequent sequels, remake and franchise reboot. More news about the publication date to come...

Saturday 14 January 2012

Recently Published

My essay on Stephen Volk's notorious BBC drama hoax Ghostwatch has just been published in the January 2012 edition of Electric Sheep. The text examines the genesis of the program and how it used the codes and conventions of the live broadcast coupled with elements 'borrowed' from other programs such as Crimewatch to create an intensely real drama that convinced the nation's audience that not only was a house really haunted but also that popular TV presenter Sarah Greene was trapped alone with the restless spirits...

Here is a brief extract:

This graphic escalation of events should have been enough of an indicator to the audience that Ghostwatch was indeed fake, but such was the quality of the programme’s verisimilitude that the spectral events sustained the illusion of reality instead of breaking it. Herein lies the programme’s greatest strength: it mimics the visual language of reportage television so fluently that its fiction is, in some way, successfully incorporated into the illusion. The expected unsteady camera work, the poorly composed images as the cameraman adjusts his framing, the use of cutaways, vox pop and live calls all function to create a genuinely frightening work of fiction while simultaneously declaring it as real. It is the perfect synthesis of technical craft and concept, a true perversion of the language of television.

To read the full text, follow this link.

Sunday 11 December 2011

Recently Published

My article Girl Power: The Politics of the Slasher Movie has just been published in the December 2011 edition of MediaMagazine. Here is a brief extract:

As can be seen from this selection of endings, The Final Girl uses her weapon to cut off body parts and/or impale the male killer. Given the nature of the sexualised murders throughout the film and the weapons used by The Final Girl, it can be suggest that the climatic death of the killer is a symbolic castration – The Final Girl not only kills the killer but ‘removes’ their masculinity before doing so by either disarming them or cutting off their limbs or heads. Because of this, it can be argued that the repressed virginal Final Girl is freed at the narrative’s conclusion because she has given vent to her (sexual) repressions and emerges from the narrative having killed the symbol of male dominance and sexual threat. Consequently, she becomes her adult herself – capable, in charge and powerful, both feminine and masculine, entering into the adult world on her terms, making her choices and succumbing to no one.

To order a copy of this edition of MediaMagazine, click here.

Sunday 27 November 2011

Recently Published

My essay on Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker has just been published in the Autumn/Winter edition of Splice. The text provides a critical overview of the film and examines its place in Post 9/11 cinema before engaging in a comparative analysis of two of the film's central characters - Sergeant Matt Thompson (Guy Pierce) and Staff Sergeant William James (Jeremy Renner). Here is a brief extract:

The Hurt Locker: War is a Drug

The Hurt Locker begins with, and is wholly contextualised by, a quote from Chris Hedges’ book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2002). ‘The rush of battle is often a potent and lethal addiction for war is a drug’. After a few moments, the majority of the text fades away leaving only the last four words, ‘war is a drug’, and remains there for a further few moments. Bigelow defines the meaning of the quote through her description of the book, explaining it as one in which Hedges

talks about that you’re looking today at a volunteer military and one of the many things he confronts is war’s dirty little secret in [that] some men love it. This isn’t everybody; it’s just a particular type of psychological state with some men. There’s a psychological allure that combat creates, some kind of attractiveness, and it does create an almost additive quality that you can’t replicate in any other way and are lost in any other context. (Axmaker, 2010)

As a context for the film, the quote becomes quite literal for it clearly defines James’ emotional and psychological relationship to his employment as a bomb disposal expert – he is addicted to all aspects of this role: disposing bombs in an increasingly dramatic (and perhaps theatrical) manner, saving lives of both his men and civilians, acting alone in order to continually push himself and, ultimately, to be good enough each time to ‘cheat’ death once more. As a consequence, the quote, quite literally, states that James’ is addicted to war but, on a more complex level, indicates that James’ is addicted to a repeated confrontation with his mortality. Each IED to be disarmed challenges him to gamble, with the highest stakes possible, his skill and ability to perform under pressure against both an incredibly violent but inanimate object and an equally threatening but unseen enemy.

This edition of Splice can be ordered from Auteur Publishing by following this link.

Saturday 29 October 2011

Recently Published

Interview with Marc Price, the director of Colin

My interview with Marc Price, the director of the British low-budget zombie film Colin has just been published online at Offscreen. Here is a brief extract...

When did your interest in filmmaking begin?

It’s a difficult one to sort of pin down. I think the big thing that happened was that when I was younger I watched movies like Superman 2 and the Star Wars movies – and this is just me speculating – my dad took me to the cinema to see… I can’t remember! I kind of like that I don’t know! I don’t know whether Superman 3 or Return of the Jedi came out first? I went to see one of those movies in the cinema and there was something about seeing characters that I was familiar with on a gigantic screen with loads of people reacting to what was happening. I think maybe something kind of got me there so film was obviously the exciting medium for me. I was raised up on blockbuster and genre films specifically so it started off as entertainment but then as I got older I started to discover other films as well. I didn’t turn my back on genre; I think genre is a really important type of film with an awful lot to offer.

Did any of these films influence you when you were writing and directing Colin or was it zombie cinema in more general that influenced you?

In a way I think they are all wired in but I think when it came to Colin I think it owes a lot more to King Kong than any other zombie film specifically. It obviously references Bub from Day of the Dead – a character I am clearly attracted to. What I really liked about Kong was the connection between Kong and the audience is only said between Kong and the audience. The other characters in the film don’t accept him in quite the same way. I kind of thought, that’s a really amazing thing that an audience is so capable of making that connection. I thought that would be the way to go so the idea with Colin was to find ways to put on the audience the awareness of any danger that Colin would be in that that character wouldn’t be aware of because of the lack of cognitive thought. That was the idea really, to look at the audience’s relationship with the character and to find a way to make that work in the same way that it did for me with King Kong.

To read the interview at Offscreen, follow this link.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Recently Published

World Film Locations: London

World Film Locations: London is an exciting visually focused tour of a diverse range of films shot on location in London. This volume will contain concise but knowledgeable reviews of carefully chosen film scenes and evocative essays about key directors, themes, ideas and historical periods that explore London's relationship to cinema. This book will be illustrated throughout with scene-specific screengrabs, stills of filming locations as they appear now and city maps that include location information for those keen to investigate the cinematic landmarks of London. The individual scene reviews, theme specific essays and illustrations will collectively offer up their own wider questions relating to London itself and how cinema shapes our view of the city. Covering the periods of the Victorian era via the swinging 60s through to the post 7/7 atmosphere of modern day London and seen through the eyes of the full range of communities that have been portrayed onscreen World Film Locations: London will illuminate all corners of this richly diverse and cinematically fertile city.

Edited by Neil Mitchell and published by Intellect, my contribution examines the relationship between the London Underground and the horror film, including Quatermass and the Pit, Death Line and An American Werewolf in London.

You can buy the book online at amazon by following this link or direct from Intellect Books by following this link.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Recently Published

The latest edition of MediaMagazine (September 2011) features my extended essay analysing the Omaha Beach Landing sequence at the start of Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. Accompanied by a one-page frame-by-frame illustration, the text examines the rationale behind the sequences Vérité style and the shift in the meaningful value of the shots used by Spielberg. Here is a brief extract:

For Miller, the slow motion functions as a representation of how he is witnessing the events for it visualises the horror of his experience - he is surrounded by a chaos of noise and movement, seeing not only death but the dreadful massacre of his men, all of which is too much for him to comprehend or bear witness to. The effect of the slow motion amplifies the horror by fragmenting its depiction into briefly frozen moments; but it also implies that Miller himself is trying to edit out the intensity of the violence by 'missing out' certain frames of action.

To order a copy of this edition of MediaMagazine, click here.