RAVENOUS – A BRIEF HISTORY OF CANNIBAL CAPITALISM

by Jack Brindelli

Released a year before the turn of the Millennium – a year which drew its primary significance as a milestone from being an anniversary of Jesus’ birth – Antonia Bird’s Ravenous took us on a darkly comic journey into that most sinister yet persistent aspect of the human condition; cannibalism. What is to be noted though, is that the film clearly foregrounds the fact cannibalism is not just a literal act, committed by black-eyed psychopaths in the American wilderness, it is the metaphorical process of manifest destiny, of the consumption of lands and human energy for profit that would underwrite the world that birthed our own 21st century world.Continue Reading

CORONAVIRUS AND THE POLITICS OF THE DEAD

by Jack Brindelli

Until recently, it turns out people all had rather twee conceptions of what they would do in the zombie apocalypse. Over the catastrophic few weeks it has taken for the coronavirus outbreak to become a seemingly uncontainable pandemic, the idea that everyone would easily assemble rag-tag bands of self-sufficient survivors, each with a set of key skills to contribute to staving off the undead horde – or even that they could coolly stroll to The Winchester and wait for this all to all blow over while sitting in the dark, cramming monkey-nuts into their faces – has somewhat been blown out of the water.

It turns out while the Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-Blitz-Spirit-I’m-Alright-Jack-Brexit-Means-Brexit brigade who until recently seemed to have the nation in a never-ending strangle-hold might have slightly overestimated themselves. Instead, the ‘hardened survivors’ in the dog-eat-dog rat-race of neo-liberal Britain have largely prepared for the end times by hording enough TP to last six life-times of shit, and hanging timidly on every word of advice from a serial-fibber hermetically sealed in 10 Downing Street who seems to want their grandparents to die.

With regards to that though, as a horror enthusiast, I feel one of the few positives to come out of the UK’s rapid disintegration into an island-death-cult is that it surely ends the facile debate around whether zombies need to be fast to be scary. For years, casual fans of the horror genre would casually bleat that slow-moving zombies would be far too easy to contain. Not only could the all-powerful state machinery of the police and army quite simply outflank the shambling masses, the theory was that civil society – and its mass-dissemination of information through ever faster means in the late 20th and early 21st century –would mean the masses would all be more than ready and able to do their part in stopping a pandemic. What the last few weeks of utter disarray prove beyond doubt is that that was wilful ignorance.

one of the few positives to come out of the UK’s rapid disintegration into an island-death-cult is that it surely ends the facile debate around whether zombies need to be fast to be scary

The incumbent Government has spent a decade dismantling the very healthcare infrastructure it turns out Britain needs to weather a pandemic, while its sustained campaign of austerity has weakened the economy to the point a gust of wind could send the whole house of cards tumbling down. Realising his previously unassailable majority in the House of Commons is unlikely to survive the death of hundreds of thousands of his voters, as well as a recession of his making, Boris Johnson has engaged in a dogged exercise of covering his own arse via a campaign of disinformation, while consolidating his position by investing himself with emergency powers before shit hits the fan.

In the fallout of this, while ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ panic buyers strip the shelves of essentials they have more than enough of, and London’s commute is still crammed with gig-economy slaves too poor to self-isolate, under-resourced hospitals are having to kit nurses with improvised masks and re-used gloves. Not disconnectedly, the number of Covid-19 cases is still booming, and the body-count mounting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7ynwAgQlDQ

Sitting back and watching the chaos ensue, it is now thoroughly clear that the Rage virus of Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later did not sweep the nation simply because the infected could  run, jump or vomit blood, but because it actually took place in an alternative timeline, where there was a Tory Government in 2002.

In deleted scenes, fictitious Prime Minister Joris Bohnson no doubt blundered his way through manic press-conferences, suggesting that “for all we know there could be 100,000 cases of Rage already, so really is there any point in trying to fight it?” Later he may even have suggested it was better to “just let it move through the population” in order to achieve the fabled herd immunity – before concluding in the meantime, the best thing we could do is go to crowded public places and stimulate the economy by purchasing blunt objects with which to defend ourselves from the growing horde of the undead.

The desperation to maintain the status-quo that had enriched the rich and influential meant they would obscure the bigger picture from the population

Indeed, on a global level, the level of wilful ignorance, gross negligence and criminal incompetence exhibited by the majority of the world’s governments (based in the Netherlands, I can tell you Mark Rutte’s management of this crisis has been every bit as bad as Boris’) – paired with the odious disregard for human life exhibited by businesses bent on ‘keeping the beaches open’ at all costs – show exactly how prescient filmmakers like George A. Romero were. In those films, the determination of the state and the private sector to maintain their wealth and power were truly the most horrific element of the story.

The desperation to maintain the status-quo that had enriched the rich and influential meant they would obscure the bigger picture from the population (the chaotic double-speak in Dawn of the Dead’s media coverage is scarily similar to that of the Covid-19 outbreak) for fear of prompting calls for governments and bosses to be held accountable for the mounting crisis, or to support the vulnerable people who would be the first victims. On top of this, it often meant they would brutally seek to put down the masses’ attempts to improve the situation, or to reclaim any power ceded to them during the collapse of society (as seen in Land of the Dead).

Running or walking then, the zombie genre stands as a stark warning to us, especially in times like these. When a crisis suddenly illustrates all the weak-points in a socio-economic system we are trained from birth to believe is not only superior, but natural, we must be ready to learn on our feet – and fight to upend the economic and governmental norms which are guaranteed to fail us in a time of crisis. Our very survival is on the line.

Since this was written, Covid-19 has been stricken by having to share a body with Boris Johnson. Our thoughts and prayers are with the virus at this trying time.

(originally published on IndyFilmLibrary, republished with permission)

Indy Film Library

Until recently, it turns out people all had rather twee conceptions of what they would do in the zombie apocalypse. Over the catastrophic few weeks it has taken for the coronavirus outbreak to become a seemingly uncontainable pandemic, the idea that everyone would easily assemble rag-tag bands of self-sufficient survivors, each with a set of key skills to contribute to staving off the undead horde – or even that they could coolly stroll to The Winchester and wait for this all to all blow over while sitting in the dark, cramming monkey-nuts into their faces – has somewhat been blown out of the water.

It turns out while the Keep-Calm-and-Carry-On-Blitz-Spirit-I’m-Alright-Jack-Brexit-Means-Brexit brigade who until recently seemed to have the nation in a never-ending strangle-hold might have slightly overestimated themselves. Instead, the ‘hardened survivors’ in the dog-eat-dog rat-race of neo-liberal Britain have largely prepared for the end times by hording enough TP…

View original post 851 more words

THE HORROR OF CHILDREN

by Lewis Martin

CW: contains strong imagery of graphic and horrorific nature

Children have always had a pivotal role in the Horror genre. Often presented as the reason for the eventual defeat of the monster or villain, they demonstrate something we can physically see in our day to day lives and, for the most part, wholeheartedly love. However, children are not always the point of redemption in Horror. There have been a number of movies which juxtapose the role of the child against the norm, and present the child as the very reason that the horror exists. this paradoxical use of the child, I’d argue, is in fact even more frightening than usual because of the breaking of the naturally presumed innocence of child that is usually presented to us.Continue Reading

THE INCREDIBLE POWER OF SCREEN HORROR

by Lewis Martin

Video media have always had a way of tapping into the current fears of the watcher. Be it in horror movies or films aimed at children, they show us topical fears in either exaggerated gory fashion or in subtle ways that stay with you well past the end of the credits. This has never been more true of the fear of screens. Over the decades, the screen has often been used on screen as a device that either projects our worst fears or captivates us and holds us against our will. The fear of screens warping our minds is a form of mild technophobia, an attitude dismissed by many as socially conservative. Nonetheless, many filmmakers have used it to their advantage to create horror and thrills, as well as using it as a form of social commentary.

Continue Reading

GEORGE OF THE DEAD: THE RADICAL CINEMA OF GEORGE A. ROMERO

by Jack Brindelli

George A. Romero passed away in his sleep on 16th of June 2017, after a short battle with cancer, at the age of 77. Over a long, incredible career spanning five decades, Romero rightly earned his reputation as a, perhaps the, Master of Horror.

Through films like bio-weapon conspiracy The Crazies (1973) and Martin (1978) – a film where a young man whom today’s media would undoubtedly call a ‘disturbed loner’ indulged his patriarchal privilege, through vampiric acts of sexual violence – Romero drew out the political unconscious that underpins so much of our societal mythology. While he did branch out however, he devoted the majority of his best years to the sub-genre which made his career, and which will undoubtedly see him immortalised.Continue Reading

REVIEW: UNDERPASS – UEA UNDERGRADUATE CREATIVE WRITING ANTHOLOGY

by Eli Lambe

The Underpass Anthology launch was a real testament to the work and co-operation evident in the newly student-run EggBox publishers – a packed celebration of new talent and potential, and a true contribution to the uniquely welcoming and encouraging style of the Norwich arts scene.

The anthology itself worked in the same way, amplifying both familiar and new voices, and bringing them together in a truly collaborative and beautiful book. The experimental and the traditional complement each other, and every writer and editor involved should feel immensely proud of themselves.Continue Reading

REVIEW – TRANSGENDER KIDS: WHO KNOWS BEST?

by Zoe Harding

On the same night Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best? aired (Thursday 12th), an apparently rather excellent documentary named Hospital exposed the difficult conditions under which the modern NHS works, bringing it to the attention of the nation that if you get sick and go to an NHS hospital, you’ll be treated by a doctor who’s working shifts more commonly seen in 19th-century coal mines while the Prime Minister calls them lazy. It was quite good. The subjects of Hospital (doctors) seem to have loved it. No such luck for the subjects of BBC2’s other documentary that night, however. Continue Reading

LITERATURE VS GENRE – SECONDS OUT (PART 2)

1

by Mike Carey

Continued from part one, published on The Norwich Radical two weeks ago.

I hate to rake up ancient history, but here’s another example from a little further back – dredged up because in this case it is a writer of literary novels (Edward Docx, in the Observer in 2010) who’s saying this, so the agenda is maybe a little more naked.

Even good genre… is by definition a constrained form of writing. There are conventions and these limit the material. That’s the way writing works and lots of people who don’t write novels don’t seem to get this: if you need a detective, if you need your hero to shoot the badass CIA chief, if you need faux-feminist shopping jokes, then great; but the correlative of these decisions is a curtailment in other areas. If you are following conventions, then a significant percentage of the thinking and imagining has been taken out of the exercise. Lots of decisions are already made.

Considering that Docx rails against “a fundamental dishonesty” in the way this subject is usually discussed, I’m going to pick my words with care.

Continue Reading

LITERATURE VS GENRE – SECONDS OUT (PART 1)

2

by Mike Carey

The argument about the relative merits of literary and genre fictions just keeps running and running. There’ll be periods of decorous silence, and then it will break out again, usually in the form of some egregious statement in a broadsheet or magazine, and it will be like it never left.

One thing you tend to notice after a while, though: it’s almost never writers of genre fiction who are picking the fight. To be fair, it’s often not “literary” writers either – it’s academics taking up the cudgels on their behalf; considerately telling us which stories are worth serious consideration and which aren’t. And I guess we appreciate the help, right? Because it’s a bewildering fictional landscape out there and an innocent young seeker after truth could easily go astray.Continue Reading

THE HORRORS OF HORROR

by Alex Valente

In the beginning, there were giant evil gods. Then we arrived, and started telling stories of things that go bump in the dark, of what lies between the cracks, of what lurks under the bed. Fears began to take shapes, looking more like tales of caution and of danger. They took the shape of bogeymen and chainsaw wielding killers, nightmare creatures and monsters from the deep. Afraid of sexuality? Vampires, werefolk and secluded cabins will tell you not to. Alcohol and drugs also covered. Religious terrors? We have possessions, exorcists, ghosts and devils aplenty. Coulrophobia, arachnophobia, nyctophobia? Here’s a clown-looking spider that waits for you at night.

Whatever new things we discover scare us, we create a monster for them. We try to impose order, and keep it under control. We give it a recognisable, if unsettling and still scary, frame. Then, at some point, we pushed too far.Continue Reading