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Stage Club Week 2017 Pt. 1 [Mar. 16th, 2017|02:43 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist
So, my mum left today,

She saw eldest daughter in her show last night and in the time she was here, helped out by taking the girls to and from school, getting family day tickets for the bus, making me lunch on a day I was getting some artwork done. That sort of thing.

She left not long after MiL & FiL arrived (not for any reason other that that was when she had to catch her plane).

MiL & FiL went to bed, they are still there.

I'm starting to see similarities with my relationship with our cat.

I bask daily in his contempt at being housed and fed by us.

He goes out more though.
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Mil & FiL 2017 [Mar. 10th, 2017|08:35 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist


It would appear to be some years since I posted here and this one will be short.

I just wanted to check it wasn't so choked with dust that I couldn't open the door.

MiL & FiL will be turning up in a busy next week and as a perfect prelude...

We had just got in from a celebration of a friends life, the phone rings.

My voice is reverberated back to me manifold and then silence.

I tell the wife, she says "My mother..."

Phone rings again:

Me: Hello!
MiL: Ah! Hello!
Me: N was right, it was you.
MiL: You were right about wha?
Me: No, N said it was you calling. I couldn't hear anything.
MiL: That's a problem with your end, there's nothing wrong with my end
(I repeat the line to N).
Me: (N in background making jokes about talking about ends) I'll hand you over.


More soon...

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A day at the Fringe 2014 [Jul. 31st, 2014|08:09 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist

Three Free Shows,

all on their first day, so tech hiccups and first show nerves to be expected and taken into consideration.

[Proper Edinburgh Festival weather, one minute you are being drenched to the skin, the next you are reaching for the sunblock.]

My sights were firmly set on Lovecraft's Monsters, so I looked at things going on either side and took in...

Where My Folk To? - Dave Waller

Wee Pub, Grassmarket 12pm

So, a Cornish Rap Nerd's tale of finding a place for himself, was, I told myself, going to be bloody awful or at least some fun. It was in fact a genuinely charming show in an upbeat pastry.

And fun.

Not quite the journey of discovery it sets out to be, it nonetheless merrily transports you on a trip of positivity about identity and if that matters more than creativity for its own sake or is in fact part of the same thing.

The suggestion of a shift to another space afterwards to play records and chat, is a perfect one, the chat was possible, the record playing not so easy to arrange.

This one will become a polished set piece that is well worth catching during its evolutionary stage.

[A word about the venue, 'the smallest pub in Scotland' is a side room of Biddy Mulligans.

Volume of music from the bar increases as does human traffic outside the windows.

The set up needs to be reversed so that distractions of passers by is lessened and the music next door needs to be turned down. Not as much a problem for the above, but a definite drawback for the next, which should have been staged in the attic or loft at the Counting House, or similar evocative space.]

Lovecraft's Monsters – David Crawford

Wee Pub, Grassmarket 1.15pm

Congratulations are in order to this actor for simultaneously battling the Unameable Horrors of venue and the unenviable task of channelling H. P. Lovecraft. Crawford threw himself into this and brings us the precocious and over protected child, the intimacy repulsed adult and the uncertain and fragile ego. A large part of the show is an abridged one man version of Shadows Over Innsmouth (a firm favourite of mine) which he delivers with gusto, skill and dedication.

I got to stick around and chat with David afterwards and he asked for and took suggestions with good grace and interest. I fully intend to return later in the run to see how this evolves and to find out if this becomes more a one man show of a Lovecraft story or a more in-depth examination of the author, his monsters (real and imagined) and, having resurrected him, if he can be reburied at shows end.

One thing I failed to mention to him was the way he became the writer, he slips in effectively, but I'm not sure the use of words from the mythos language quite fit the piece.

I completely understand the device, I just don't think it worked here.

A small quibble for a masterly performance.

Side trips to get tickets for the kids and grab a pasty, then to;

Strange Face – Adventures With A Lost Nick Drake Recording. - Michael Burdett

Jekyll & Hyde, Hanover Street. 3.15pm

Already a book with a very worth cause profiting from sales, this is a journey with a borrowed camera, a variant of Cello Song and no little emotion.

I don't want to say too much about this, like a Nick Drake song, members of the audience are going to project their own feelings onto what is revealed and discussed.

I met the author/performer before the show and we had a very pleasant chat about music. I rather wish I'd had time to talk afterwards, as I wanted him to know that I believe this is a show that is going to go down a storm when it has had time to find its rhythm. I think he needs to express his decision to be random in sharing the arrangement more clearly, I think he needs a timeline and I think he is in for some flack from people expecting to hear the piece in question.

This is a very personal piece that shows in the emotion on display. I hope Michael is not wrung out by repeating his experiences over the next month and I wish him the very best with it.

Excuse me, I'm off to listen to some Nick Drake.

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I despise the betrayal of our childhood, here is my reimagining. [May. 13th, 2014|09:33 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist
Morris, Cribbins & Cant

Late 1970's.

Outside Television Centre in Shepherd's Bush.

The Blue Peter garden.

A man is digging holes, singing as he works.

"... stood in me hole, shovellin' earth for all that I was worth..."

The Foyer, inside.

Having spent the afternoon delivered celebrities in a Corporation car, another man, dressed in a zoo keeper's outfit that easily passed for chauffer, now heads for the prop department. His voice is tired from the many voices he has used to put the targets at ease and off the scent.

Flashback. Inside the car.

"Come on my old matey, no need to gets upset, they'll be paying you overtime I recons".

"Bad enough I get called in on my day off, this is on the back of the usual chauffer disappearing when I was due to record for Top of the Pop's last week. Bloody inconsiderate...                                      
any word on him?"

"Oh, I dunno, I'm new see, haven't met many of the other drivers yet."

"Well, excuse me if I tune up my voice so to speak,  Leaaa, leee, lead... Er, er err."

Studio, inside.

A third man's polyester slacks crackle as he roundhouses a bottle blond jogging DJ and sends him flying through the square window.

A number of catch phrases turned snappy put downs, go through the presenter's head.

All seem lame in light of what these people are guilty of.

It can wait until their ends.

The first and second man arrives on set pushing empty Daleks into the recording space.

They lift off the top sections and start to help each other load the broken bodies into the Doctor Who Villain casings.

Corridor, inside.

"Oh you boys! What you up to this time? Na, don't tell me, I'll see it on the Christmas tape, I'm sure." guffawed the bubbly actress. "Wait 'til I tell Kenny!"
The trio exchange glances. Later over a pint they will decide the coast was clear on that encounter and a double entendre ladened scenario will cover their tracks.

Blue Peter garden, again, outside.

The tallest has some words, the others riff with him.

"It really would be better if you'd served time,
But you stole innocence, the most  vile of crimes,
So Rot away, rot-a-way, rot away, Rot Away, rot away."

The mangled bodies, still alive, try to eat through their gags and protest.

The three shovel dirt in unison  onto the struggling damned.

The empty Dalek's eye stalks look down accusingly.

It starts to rain.

We pan up, out of the garden looking down.



In the green room, the supposed hospitality in these walls  has been replaced with hostile abuse that no cleaning crew can wipe away.

D. Griffiths stands tall in the corner, strokes his moustache, puts an afro comb into a pocket and takes out a coin. He looks at the childhood stealers he and the others have assembled.

 "Heads and tails, heads and tails. Heads and tails!.."

White lines are uncovered on a silver platter.

straws are offered round.

"... heads and tails, heads and tails.
Heads and tails and that's poison up your nose..."

The abusers feel the insides of their heads start to melt.

Agonising, prolonged, violent.

It can't right wrongs, but it is a slow, quick, Fix It.

"Heads and tails, There you go!"

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What I did on my weekend off (Dead by Dawn 2014) [Apr. 29th, 2014|04:51 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist
Once more you find me a shattered, happy wreck of a man, trying to glue my brain back together on the Monday after another year's festival of dark storytelling projected on Screen 1 at The Filmhouse.

This was...

Dead by Dawn 2014

Adele Hartley is our festival director and she knows horror.

On our behalf, Adele sinks her hand deep into the diabolically putrid crud bucket of horror films that is churned out each year and drags the rancid cream of the ghastly crop kicking and screaming from the mire and lobs it with a fierce aim at the screen, so that we can enjoy it too.

Not for us that half-baked selection of cheap thrill no budget no script no brain stuff that filled the shelves of film rental places of yore, we are talking proper gooseflesh, intelligent, poetically mindless, dastardly storytelling to keep you up nights.
Here is what we saw.

Thursday 24th April

To celebrate a centenary of showman director William Castle, we kick off in great style with The House on Haunted Hill (1959). VIncent Price is rarely more devilishly handsome than here, a film that deserves to be called a classic. Castle's wonderful gimmick of a floating skeleton is present and the inflated dead then sits through the whole festival and is named William.

There may have been a few drinks after this, quite a few...

Friday 25th April

I had somehow got to 45.5 years of age without seeing Mr. Sardonicus (1961), this gap in the William Castle section of my brain was a joy to fill. While sat next to inflatable William, we pondered our Mercy / No Mercy Punishment Poll Cards and allowed the thorny story to entangle us. It works sublimely well, proving to be of superior flow to tales such as Dracula, which tend to trip on their cloaks.

A much repeated topic of conversation at DbD, revolves around how an everyday audience might not get on with or even be exposed to some of the films we see. Short films from less than a minute to around an hour, have trouble finding a home or a chance to shine.

The double bill of Where the Red Fox Lies and Les Gourffres, fuelled this year's uptake of that theme.
The first is a great set piece (we came up with our own titles for some films, this got Being Liz Sherman's Sister / My Hot Sister) it perhaps suffers from being more predictable to said audience, but it had exactly the right feel and this tightly crafted package would lead a less horror soaked crowd to realisation more slowly.

The second (our title The Arthouse Descent) was a brilliantly disorienting piece that took you on an unravelling journey of a woman awaiting her husband's return from investigating an unusual phenomena. It is isolating and vertiginous in its haunting of the screen.

Kier-la Janisse is up next, presenting School of Shock, a riot of public information and safety films.

This beguiling study lead us from the lengths you can go to in emotionally deterring (or is that scaring?) children from doing anything, ever, to ways of convincing heavy machinery users not to be decapitated, to hitting drivers over the head with sledgehammer imagery to deter drink driving, and was a formidable journey to join. From the ambulance chasing that is drivers ed movies of America in the 50's to the Donald Pleasance voicing Death and Cesar Romero voicing Plaque deterrent films, it was a treat and will have me searching for more. Thank you Kier-la.

Our first short, short is Division Azul (Spain 2012) and sees some special WWII forces being, well, special. It precedes Greatful Dead (Japan 2013 - Gureitofuru deddo), another film that says something about the DbD audience. It sits watching the dislocated psyche of our childhood damaged protagonist gathering no moss, without balk, it has seen harsher films, it winces as a whole with each hammer blow, but it is not deterred, that is why we are here in part, to judge if our escapist desire for mayhem is a thing under control or if we are mindless gorehounds looking for answers in entrails.
Okay, that says nothing about the DbD audience, it says plenty about me and my state of mind after a weekend of soaking up beer and blood in almost equal quantities.

And so I skip the opportunity to see Friday the 13th on the big screen, I was keen, but I could barely keep my eyes open at this stage. This meant I missed the short La Sed Animal (Spain 2013), which by all accounts was one of the best. Dang!

Saturday 26th April

One Please (2013 USA) is a great way to start the day and is my favourite short of the festival. Michael Berryman can do a really creepy thing with his ears and he does it while serving ice cream to a manicured lawn set community. The sound, the timing, the framing. All impeccable. Brilliant!

13 Sins (2014 USA) is a really neat re-working of 13: Game of Death, a film about the extremes people will go to for wealth. Both films spiral the lead protagonists out of their downtrodden ways, invest them with a new confidence and then tries to strip away what made them decent people in the first place. That a re-make can sit so well as a work in its own right must be down to the story idea and the consideration this re-working was given, it has thoughtful branches to the tale of the conspiracy of the wealthy few. Oh, and Ron Pearlman is in it, so that's cool too.

The double bill of Killer Legends (2014 USA) and Candyman (1992 USA) was a splendid idea.

Joshua Zeman and Rachael Mills research the origins of murderous urban legends and take us to some uncomfortable places. As a fan of the Foaf (Friend of a Friend story), I applaud examinations of the provenance of these tales. Here we explore the worlds of the hook handed killer, poisoned Halloween candy, babysitters in peril from within the house and finally sights are set on the Killer Clown.

There are moments to take your breath, mainly in the images of real death and an immaculately kept cross like table used for lethal injections, but it is perhaps the moment when Phil Donahue asks a man on death row if he knows that 'he killed Halloween' (he in fact was accused of killing his son), that tells you more about a land where so many of these stories originate than the stories themselves.

Watching this voyage of discovery and seeing the reality sink in that these tales soften the blow of how truly grotesque the reality is, yet spread a panic in campfire cautionary style tales, lead perfectly into Candyman.

Then Tune for Two (2011 Sweden) opens our next segment in gleeful unpleasantness giving a new dark image for a familiar family favourite song. Dead Banging (2013 Japan) is Eiji Uchida's second film of the festival. One can only assume the director has reason to focus on childhoods of diminished care and attention, as another leading lady battles her way through self doubt to become lead singer of Nosebleed, an all girl metal band, an all girl metal band with a zombie providing backup vocals. It's a great fun movie, full of ideas and self parody, but many of us felt, if not for the oddly translated subtitles resulting in bizarre unintended statements, we'd have been a bit bored by the end. I think that the existence of real Jpop phenomena, Babymetal may have stolen the impact of Kawaii Metal a bit too.

Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla (2013 Australia). Prepare to have your sympathy and sensibilities run over with an ice cream truck. With a dazzling performance by lead Glenn Maynard, this tale of socially inadequate Warren, shines. With a fantastic script and acting throughout. The 'man pushed to the edge' film just got a new poster boy.

Here comes Fool's Day (2013 USA), a short that would still have been really funny if it lasted to the first cup of coffee, but is bowel jangling funny because it carries on from that point. Watch ingenious youth hold on to classroom law.

Then, Takashi Miike comes back to the Dead by Dawn screen with Lesson of Evil (2012 Japan). It was getting late in the day and many an audience head was already fuzzy. This wasn't going to help any. Grizzly and relentless, this addition to the authoritarianism in the classroom horror genre leaves your head ringing.
The students getting it in the neck (and the chest and the head and the...) this time are more discernible in a visual sense, but just as disposable as ever, leaving us no one to really root for. Standards, body count and performances rank high and some amazing ideas and even homage to Cronenburg, all count heavily in its favour, the ringing in the brain comes not only from the shotgun blasts, that annoy our lead at times too, but from the myriad ideas being hit hard at the screen in a bewildering scatter array over a long run time. It is an ordeal and it is meant to be.

The Howling (1981 USA) is a firm favourite of mine. It has always suffered from the shadow that An American Werewolf in London, casts over that same year of release and while I admit that I think the latter is the better film, it should not detract from the joy that this garish Technicolor thrill ride of cameos, film and television references, over the top fx transformations and the wicked sense of humour, brings to the screen. I have also always favoured the werewolf on two legs design as a superior supernatural representation of the beast within, losing humanity is the key, but it is human appetite that fuels the monster and as such it is right that his form partially remains.

Sunday 27th April

As little children pour out of saccharine screenings with their parents, they are greeted by the shuffling horde returning to its temporary home. The Filmhouse is to be commended once more for its hosting of this festival, we sit all weekend next to Morningside ladies supping tea and juice bubbling youth and while eyebrows sometimes raise on both sides, we co-exist peacefully (knowing all that time that this is ours and even if we relinquish majority hold from time to time, it always will be ours, our red in the black, our escape to and from, our safe unsafe place).

At the Formal (2010 Australia) is a reassuring reminder that Society is not a film alone in its distrust of being in the right crowd and that making it through your schooldays can be more terrifying than any horror film.

Au Nom Du Fils (2013 France) is another highlight of scripting brilliance and devoted performances. I have no issue with people having faith, I have great issue with organizations of faith holding sway and covering up for their advantage takers and abusers of trust and power. This film has no truck with the organized in organized religion and says so with the darkest of humour and a brush dipped deep red. Films like this is why I am a horror fan, it might not be a horror film per se, but it does what the best of horror does when it is not an escape from the real terrors of this world. It takes on the reality of mankind's failings, stands up to them, accepts human fragility and screams at the top of its lungs at hypocrisy and injustice. This is my must see of the festival.

I watched Twilight Zone: The Movie more times than is healthy back in the day. To see its cartoon brilliance up on a big screen was fantastic.
2D & Deranged is the always welcome animated short programme (with added 3D).
Here is wonder, here is the grown up childhood gone bad, here is much fine, fine work.

Ones to especially look out for are;
The Blackwater Gospel an old favourite of mine.
Sangre de Unicornio ugly-cute.
Supervenus lesson for the body image conscious.
The Evening Cigarette the perils of the smoker.
Maleria astonishing animation that mixes comic art and stop motion photography.
and Rob Morgan's Invocation, the man does not disappoint, again.

Noooooo! there's just two tickets left to go. The Sunday of DbD is the best and the worst, that day, that long day stretches and contracts, the yawning infinite possibilities of the menu are devoured at an alarming rate. soon, soon we will have to crawl back to our holes and re-immerge to the world of the normal. Resist it all you like, it is inevitable and that is the biggest horror of these weekends, the light at the end of the tunnel, the end.

But, hey! Don't fight it, relax, enjoy what's left.

And what enjoyment there was.

Timothy (2013 Spain) brings a child's favourite television character to life, babysitters beware.

If I try and describe Housebound (2014 NZ), it's going to come across as a bunch of clichés strung together with comedic thread. That would not do it justice. Horror with humour can go horribly wrong. This one gets it horribly, horribly right.
Okay, let's try that description anyway; Teen under house arrest has to quiet the ghost that haunts many heads. Misunderstood youth teams up with paranormal researcher/security guard to exhume the past and bring justice from the grave. Estranged mother and daughter reunited by the justice system, are brought together in fighting a haunting presence within their home... I'll stop.

Almost there...

Lights Out (2013 Sweden) Fun with light switches in the dark is a longstanding terror set up that carries primal undertones. This presentation owes a lot to Damien Mc Carthy's style of shock horror, but stands on its own to pitter-pattering feet.

And finally (with spoilers)...

The much anticipated UK Premier of Oculus (2013 USA),comes a few years after the makers caused quite a stir with the short Oculus Part 3: The Man With A Plan. I have somehow still not seen that short in its entirety, but knew how highly regarded it was, so it was with some fear that the growing hype around this film as it got a release on home turf recently, might detract from its power. It didn't.

There are but a few short films that really scream make me longer, in fact so many films could do with being shorter or, in fact, a short, that it was an exhausting sigh of relief to get caught up in this family battling a debilitating evil presence in their lives and not think that it should have been shorter. It delivers. It delivers shocks aplenty, it drags us through the damaging past of the main characters and it jolts us back to the present. If anything I wanted something more, not so much in length, but in a hint that there are other tales to tell about the mirror that don't repeat the cycle.

This was an unsettling film in a similar way that The Abandoned (2006) was. Another film to end a Dead by Dawn, the inescapable horror of that cursed self movie jangled the nerves until your teeth felt like crying. Films like this are great at grabbing you with an ice cold hand that won't let go and fall into the category of unjust fate or the un-quite(able) vengeful spirit. They work extremely well in offering no way out, this horror without hope is the darkest of all and that never quite sits well with me. It makes me restless and frustrated but maybe, deep down, I really like that itch, that feeling that at least it's not me that bought the wrong antique, took the wrong job or inherited the spooky house, but it could be me and if there is no escape...

A quick drink in the bar, a long goodbye and a trudge home in the company of my demons.

My demons who all whispered, 'Again, again'.
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Larping About is a Serious Business [Aug. 29th, 2013|09:05 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist
For those about to Larp...

I was recently invited to spend two days at an interactive storytelling conference at Heriot Watt University.
Its main focus was Larp (Live Action Role Playing), specifically the Nordic style.

The event was organised by Riders and run by LajvVerkstaden (Larp Workshop) and the promise of an exploration of theatrical role play was of interest to me as I am currently exploring ideas based around interactive theatre. My specific interest was more to do with object interaction than human, but I also had an eye on how planted extras mingling with an arts audience could play out and how attendees might react to being drawn into the story, even becoming part of it, so this seemed like an excellent opportunity and it was.

Our guides, Miriam, Teresa and Lars, did an amazing job communicating the world and worth of Educational Larps, Emotional Immersive Experiences and Interactive Learning / Entertainment.

The two days were split into; preparing for and playing a Larp set during the French Revolution with an evaluation, followed by a day of lectures / workshops on specific elements of Larp.

The day of the game was an intriguing mix of how they get teenagers to interact within a historical premise and how they get grown-ups to easier step into the role they inhabit for the evening, using drama exercises.

Devices for getting things to run on a relative track, or at least not grossly run away into the night, were explained and opportunities to slip away from the main action to a Black Box, where ideas with other players could be played out as flashback, alternate reality or even wrestling with your demons, were revealed.

If fights were to break out, combat was a fencing system with bamboo swords and a judge deciding who got to three points first, more designed to settle arguments or slurs than to shed mock blood.

Long Live the Revolution, played out in a lecture room turned French Inn and was firmly based on the table top game scenario of the Bar Room Brawl. Five groups and two players as journalists (data gatherers and participants for the two days) arrive in an Inn near Calais, on a night of foul weather and the disparate opinions and beliefs of each group and individuals within and outwith these groups come together to create a slow boiling pot of intrigue and plotting.

This was highly enjoyable stuff (from my point of view, I missed my timing on a number of occasions and as with a few others, was perhaps a little disappointed in the role I had played by the end, more of this at the debrief…), everyone got stuck in, even those who obviously last play acted when children.

My previous experience of Live Action games is very limited, I have a long history of being involved with Table Top Role Playing games, so the theory is not new to me, but what came as the biggest surprise of the evening was the emotional resonance that this format delivered.
Without the workshops earlier, I would have treated this as just another skirmish, where my character had goals to try and achieve or at the very least a desire to get out of here alive, but, with questions still ringing unresolved in my head about what my character really wanted, I found multiple voices pulling me between a potential to betray my associates, throw myself upon the sword of the enemy in the hope of causing their downfall and a true desire to make this microcosm of Revolutionary France, one that could stand shoulder to shoulder and proclaim a common view for the good of all and a bright future.

After the climax, a short now let go of your character, was followed by, The Debrief, and it was only in the next two days I really appreciated how important this part is in the Nordic Larp model.
This was a shared experience with consequences for the others in the room and, as it was shared experiences at a remove that started me on my path of investigation, this proved fascinating.

We can all experience a film and come away with different feelings based on very many factors but we essentially follow the same path, we can play computer adventures and end up with more varied experiences of a similar story, having invested different attitudes to do how we act within them. In such an rpg, we can behave as we never would in the real world and reign destruction or mercy at a whim (actually, mostly, I can’t, I have real difficulty playing characters of little or no conscience, but other people probably can).
Put this in a real space, a room with others all immersed in the same experience and your actions affecting other people takes on more resonance by far.
Even though you are in a situation at a remove from the everyday, what you decide has an effect on other people trying to achieve their goals and not a computer generated extra.

In a similar situation playing out a Bar Room Brawl style game, I would not hesitate to call out an imposter if that is my escapist role, in this instance, to do so could cause the death of that character and, as I was already having a conscience crisis, failure to save them from such a fate was only going to make things worse.

The debrief allowed us to say where we felt we went wrong and the effects our actions or inactions had on us and others, most of us were surprised by the emotional investiture we discovered had gone on.

A number of us found sleep came uneasily despite a long day, the events and consequences of them rattled around as if it was a real encounter, and it is precisely this that many people seek to experience from Nordic Larps.

During the following day of lectures and workshops this all started to make more and more sense to me. It’s not something I would seek out, I am the mercy of a brain that thinks too much as it is and not sleeping because of that is a regular occurrence. But, as Lars described his involvement with Just a Little Lovin’ an immersive Larp based on the emergence of the aids epidemic, I started to get it.
My British reserve would have me run and hide from something designed to evoke such an emotional charge, but for people like Lars, who were born at the time of Aids awareness coming into being, this was a way of understanding what it was like for people (survivors) to live through. I grew up in this period, it marked the way I perceived the world and it is a shared history for me. My understanding and empathy for those living through the first two World Wars is well served by first and second hand stories from my family and visits to The Imperial War Museum or Anne Frank’s House, but there can be few similar chances to walk amid a mock-up of 1980’s fear and intolerance as there are of a life size model section of wartime trenches.

As this all started to come together, discussing the benefits of Edu-Larp became all the more apparent. Put a student in the shoes of someone from history, someone made to follow orders or flee for their lives or even someone who could make money by betraying one, the other or both of these parties and the next lesson is going to more tangible. Even if the next step in class is to dissect what was realistic or unlikely about the re-enactment, it has served a strong purpose and if we look at this from the point of view of strategies such as the Curriculum for Excellence, it ticks So many boxes of what that and similar model try to achieve.

I left this event with a great deal to think about. On one end of the scale, small fun things I can add to my arsenal of immersive materials for my own games, at the other, a very strong sense of the responsibilities of the emotions you can evoke when creating a landscape for people to explore and how in some circumstances you need to offer support in examining these or at the very least a sounding board at the conclusion to take the participant back into the real world without being too hung up on what has just happened to them.

My thanks to all involved and to friend Di for getting me invited.
I won’t forget this experience in a hurry.
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Dead by Dawn 2013 Sunday [Apr. 30th, 2013|08:55 am]
Evil Cheese Scientist
End View

Sunday 28th April 2013

All too soon it’s the last day of the festival.

Time travels in an oddly distorted way at the film festival, stretching and contorting your perception of what day, time, year is this. As I sit here typing there’s a haze around everything, my trip out earlier was not far off experiencing the fear, dealing with real people in real situations was so much harder than surrendering to the blisteringly surreal atmosphere of skin crawling wonderment that is Dead by Dawn.

What’s left, a whole day of phantasmagoria, that’s what.

Careful with that; Crossbow, Axe, Power Tool + Zomvideo

The trio of Careful with that … movies, Jason Stutter 2008/9/10 2 mins each, will have you in an agony of hysteria, this gleeful two fingers up to health and safety and celebration of the childhood joy of not having a clue, brought tears to eyes. Perfect start to the day.

Zomvideo – Kenji Murakumi 2011
It’s where the f is this going time again.
This mental offering from Japan left me feeling like I been chewing on Zombie Gum for a little over an hour. It left a little happy headache in my temples.

My Amityville Horror – Eric Walter 2012

Whatever you believe about the Amityville story (and I’m firmly in The House That Bled to Death camp), you will find the effects that whole event had on a young man, chilling.
This documentary is compelling and harrowing and unlikely to be the final chapter in this story.

As a Fortean, one of my primary interests has always been the revisiting of a story and looking at the story or evidence in another light, this film puts such a human face on a story as to make it uncomfortable in the extreme yet utterly compelling. The part where Daniel talks of his happiness in the fact his stepfather is dead speaks in large volumes about how much he has suffered.
You will question a lot of what he says, not only the paranormal events, but more importantly his memory of how everything played out. He evidently believes what he tells us and the fact that these memories seem to be a mix of overzealous journalism, film scripts loosely based on true events and a real childhood ripped to pieces, leaves everyone dazed and confused.

My sympathies are with him.

Blinky TM + Mon Ami

Ruairi Robinson’s 13 min Blinky tm (2011) looks amazing, the tone is right, the mood is right and the performances and special effects are fully believable. I somehow felt I’d been in this territory a few too many times to find it original, but I’m saturated in stories like this and I should be bigging this up more than I am.

Mon Ami – Rob Grant 2012

Prepare to be exhausted.

If the Coen Brothers decided to make a movie based on Comic Strip Presents… Mr Jolly Lives Next Door, it might turn out a bit like this. Incompetent kidnappers in escalation escapade that never ran out of steam. You’ll see an awful lot of the set ups posted as you go and that’s part of the fun.

Blisteringly tiring fun with many a gruesome cringe to be had.

The Applicant + An American Werewolf in London

Go look for Tim Dean’s The Applicant (2011 5 mins) on line Now.
Watch it. Watch it again. This was my favourite of a very healthy batch of shorts. Enjoy.

An American Werewolf in London John Landis 1981

This I was stoked about. I Love this film, I love it to distraction and seeing it there on the big screen was phenomenal. Thank you, thank you Thank You!

Awards Freebies & Fun followed by Evil Dead II: Dead by Dawn

The end of festival festivities are great therapy, some people hand in films they are ashamed of to the Sh8t Film Amnesty with notes on how turgid films never should have entered their lives, people howl like werewolves to try and win prizes and a massive game of pass the parcel ensures some people go away with a solid memento, not just the happy invisible scars on their brains.
A rousing chorus of Happy Birthday and some flowers stolen from a graveyard finish things off nicely and we plunge into

Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi 1987).

I know every sound in this film. I know when every gallon of blood is going to be launched, I know behind the scenes stories for each section, I feel like I know the hall they filmed interior shots in. I know this film and it’s still one of the most important horror films to date.

This was the film I could get my mates to go see to get them to understand why I have always loved horror movies. It has everything it needs and someone swallowing a flying eyeball.


And so it ends, we all head down for a couple of farewell drinks, chat to Chad and The Battery Boys, say goodbye to Frank and then have to tear ourselves from where we belong. For a weekend every year, a lifetime of twisted fantasia plays out over four days. Until next year, Join Us!
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Dead by Dawn 2013 Saturday - The Reviews [Apr. 29th, 2013|05:29 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist
So in a haze of Friday’s wonder and the fog of four and a half hours sleep, we move on, heading towards the venue with thoughts of what has been and yet to occur.

Frank judged our dead Pix on Friday and he judged well.
Adele believes it’s time I started saving for our children’s therapy, I believe it’s too late.
Frank didn’t come alone and despite working the crowd enormously well on his own he also brought Albert Cadabra as part of his entourage, a magnificent giant leprechaun who eats latex and likes to hammer forks into his head.
If I’m going on and on about Frank, well, it’s hard not to. He is an enigmatic force that pushed the Dead by Dawn Maximum Overdrive lever right into the red and it is my great honour to have lain dead with him on the floor of the Filmhouse.

To Be Frank

Saturday 27th April 2013

Bite Horse + Abductee

Bite Horse - Sam Walker 2012 6 mins
Sam Walker is an old friend of Dead by Dawn and his work always impresses.
There’s a touch of the Bilal about this one.

Abductee - Yudai Yamaguchi 2013
Another theme for this year was ‘… and where is this one going?’
The theories on why this man is locked in a container will build and change in your mind and you’ll be longing for a room with a view long before the journey ends. Hypnotic claustrophobia.

Frank Henenlotter hosts The Tingler.

I’m a sucker for a William Castle gimmick and despite that they couldn’t wire up the seats in screen 1 to the mains, it was a joy to hear Frank talk about the effects films like this had on him and watch ,
The Tingler – William Castle 1959, on the big screen.
Vincent Price was a big role model for me, he always seemed so gentlemanly, even when you suspected him of some wrong doing. We were not attacked by the Tingler, but it Was in the theatre!

The Graveyard Feeder + The Battery

Some sort of necromantic gopher is playing havoc in The Graveyard Feeder – Rich Robinson 2012, and having your dead father criticise your work isn’t necessarily helping get the job done.

The Battery – Jeremy Gardner 2012
This is a must see for a horror fan. It not only shakes off the dust of too many zombie movies doing the same thing, but it reminds you of what it was like when you saw Evil Dead or Clerks for the first time. The Battery boys are destined for great things. As with Chad Crawford Kinkle, I’ll be keeping a close look out for what comes next from these guys.
There is a very simple genius at work in the low, low budget and the camaraderie that drove this production spilled over into the crowd.
Like Frank and Chad, The Battery boys were very much a part of the weekend experience, they and their films were very welcome guests.
This won best new film award and it was a mighty win (with Jug Head nipping so very close at its heels)

The Battery Boys

Boys from County Hell + Dead Shadows

Boys from County Hell – Chris Baugh 2012 17 mins
Full to the brim with atmosphere, you can’t help but admire this one.

Dead Shadows – David Cholewa 2012
This mesmerised me from the opening. I wont hold back, the pacing and story needs work, there were not so much holes as skyscraper interruptions in any flowing narrative or plot.
This did not bother me. This Cthulhu fuelled meteor disaster in the dark movie was so full of the potential on offer and a deep rooted love of Lovecraft, that I could not help but enjoy its gibbousness. I deeply hope he gets the backing he he requires to go further with this kind of work.

Late Night Double Bill:

Fist of Jesus + Big Ass Spider!
I am your Grandma + Two Fingers + Hellraiser.
I’ll tell you now, I knew I wasn’t going to last through Hellraiser. It’s a film I have seen many, many times on a big screen and I knew I was going to bail after the shorts that preceded it.
I had to get some sleep that night, so I could see something of the kids and my family who were up to look after them. It is a film I love, so I felt like a cheat, but to watch that would have robbed me of the little sanity I had left to get me to the end of the festival.

Fist of Jesus – Adrian Cardona 2012 15 mins
Look this up on line, it’s free to watch and you can join the appeal to fun a full feature.
Until I saw the last short of the weekend, I thought this was going to get my vote. It very nearly did, but as so many people put their votes in before the final short and that one made me laugh even harder than this one (but only just). It won the short competition and it deserved it.

Big Ass Spider! – Mike Mendez 2013
Hell Yeah!

I am your Grandma – Jillian Mayer 2011
There will be a rash of people doing this, I am sure.
Make a bona fide nutsoid video of yourself now to show the grandkids what you were really like.

Two Fingers – Chris Ullens 2012
Music video of a stop motion teddy bear massacre. So wrong and So right.

And so we crept out to the mocking cries of the hardcore attendees…
Conclusion soon.
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Dead by Dawn 2013 Thursday - Friday. The Reviews [Apr. 29th, 2013|02:53 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist
Happy 20th Dead by Dawn

If you know me, you know I’m far more critical of things I care about, things I like, than I am about things that don’t interest me.
Horror is my obsession and there is not a film here that I would not recommend.
If it sounds like I’m being picky at times, well that’s because I am and I wouldn’t pay too much attention.
If you know me, you’ll also know that I require to re-watch pretty much every opening film of Dead by Dawn. I’ve usually been up 14 hours plus before those blood soaked curtains part for the first time and I’m glowing with a fondness for the location, the people and the beer.
With that in mind…

Thursday 25th April 2013
The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh
Rodrigo Gudino 2012
Prepare to be haunted by Venessa Redgrave’s voice in a way it’s unlikely you’d ever of imagined.
A house, infested with an angel collection in overdrive plays host to a son’s journey of discovery played out in a stunningly filmed environment that lingers on the tip of the mind.
Friday 26th April 2013
Game + The Brood
We like to sit in the bar and work out what the prevalent themes are each year. Whether by accident or design, there will be more of one topic, theme or method of despatch each year.
This was a bumper one and to my mind it was puking, and Rednecks in a new light that came out on top, others noticed a lot of male nudity.
Game – Josh MacDonald 2012 – 8 mins. This is a brilliant way to get things started. It’s a prey v prey affair that will not disappoint.
The Brood – David Cronenburg 1979
The enigmatic musings of Kier-la Janisse proceeded this and her insights were keen.
I thought I’d seen this movie, I had not.
I doubt there’s anything left to say about this film, but I will mention my fondness for 70’s and 80’s movies that matter of factly carry on, business as usual, when something completely unexplained happens. ‘This creature had no navel, so it was not born as we know it.’ ‘Some crazy mother locked her weird kid in the attic and it got out and attacked someone, it’s not like it’s the first time it’s happened.’
Kier-la’s discussion of medical experiments in Canada and Cronenburg’s misadventure with ex-wife turned cult member added so much to this screening, you should seek out her book.
La Ricetta + Jug Face
La Ricetta – Jason Noto 2011 5 mins
Yup! This is pretty much why I became a Vegetarian so long ago.
Jug Face – Chad Crawford Kinkle 2013
If I had to choose just one film (which we had to a voting time) to recommend, it would be this.
Jug Face plays to my tastes, my prejudice, my fears and my love of what scares me.

My prejudice in this instance is that daftly held conviction that if you go out to the country, bad stuff is waiting for you and anyone who chooses to live in a backwater must do it for nefarious reasons.
I love it as a horror spring board and this film breaths true new life into that premise.
See this film. It will make you think and you’ll think long and hard over the horror that we are and how far we’ll take that horror in belief, be it selfish or beneficial.

Modus Anomali
Joko Anwar 2012
A man wakes in the forest, his identity is confused and the brutal journey he takes feels painfully circular.
I dare you to walk with this film to the end.
Basket Case + Brain Damage
Frank Henelotter 1982 + 1988
Frank Henenlotter is my favourite guest, ever.
When you meet Frank, he is instantly your best friend.
Before any of us got to the Filmhouse, he and Adele had asked for Dead Pix, that is to say, pictures of the audience to be, posing dead somewhere.
It’s a hobby of Frank’s to play dead and I can’t recommend it enough.
Go check out his Facebook page and I can’t believe for a second, that the next time someone says ‘cheese’ your first urge will not be to drop down dead on the floor.
These two films are locked into my psyche. I’ve seen them more times than is seemly and they represent my state of mind in the years they were doing the rounds, exquisitely.
Another reason to love Frank’s work is his intrinsic use of puppetry, I’m puppet and stop motion biased by a long shot and this man’s tale of fooling and foiling animatronic loving puppetry naysayers was heart warming.
Frank is a gentleman and he just got the title role in my new script where obsessive fans have to rescue him from a Highlands Cannibal Massacre debacle, I haven’t told him yet…

More soon and remind me to mention Albert Cadabra...

Albert Cadabra hammering a fork into his brain
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Dead by Dawn – 20th Anniversary 2013. The Autopsy. [Apr. 29th, 2013|01:03 pm]
Evil Cheese Scientist
Looking from my small window, there is sun and blue skies.
I should want to be out there, I should want to be out there breathing deep the fresh air, I should be considering a long walk and a healthy lunch and cherishing the joys of later, taking my kids charging to the park to engage in another adventure.

I should, but I’m not.

I’m longing for those red curtains.
The view burned into my sockets of rows of red seats in front of deep red curtain, curtains that whisper to you as the weekend goes on, whisper of things that will haunt you for the next twelve months, that yawning chasm of emptiness that can only fully be scratched when you return to The Filmhouse and experience another weekend of wonders overseen by Adele Hartly.

Dead by Dawn’s 20th Anniversary was something people will talk of for years to come.
It will become a thing of legend and deservedly so.
A few months ago I got the tickets. As always, when you go in, ask for them and carefully put them into your wallet, an age before the event, there is a thrill down your spine. Those curtains start to twitch and they start to whisper. They are in your dreams, they are waiting for you.
Then, those tantalising emails of what is to come start to turn up and so builds the voice of those curtains, those endless possibilities, those nightmares yet to reach your retinas.
And then, okay, this is hard, but I will be honest. I trust Adele, her choices are sound she knows what she is doing, but, I had my doubts.
I looked at the programme and I worried. I saw a lot of films I knew well (I’m ashamed about how well I know some of them, like a relationship that stopped but never when away) and I selfishly considered my weekend away from parental responsibility as not being as fear and fun filled as I’d hoped.
And that passed and it passed quickly and with shame. I considered the time I spent in East Proctor and I longed to go back there. I knew every nail in that cabin out in the woods and I couldn’t wait to go back and count them again. And I knew those curtains would not let me down.
And they excelled themselves.
This was the best Dead by Dawn I have attended. I don’t say this just because I won the Dead Like Frank photo competition, I don’t say this just because I got lie on the stage in front of Screen 1 and play dead with Frank Henenlotter, I don’t just say this because of the fabulous bunch of people who let me exhibit some of my pictures on the Filmhouse walls and I don’t say this to make you jealous if you were not there (okay, that last one’s a lie), I say it because it is true. I say it because those curtains out did themselves.
There was not a wasted moment on that screen, not a minute badly taken up, not a second when I wanted to be anywhere but in that building, with those people and that onslaught of talented storytelling and genuine affection for a genre that has been my passion for as long as I can remember.
Dead by Dawn 2013 I salute you, your captain, your passengers and your crew.
Thank you red curtains, I’m going out into that sun now, I’m going to breath deep and I’m going to carry those red, red curtains with me for another year.

Reviews to follow…
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