The poster for the fifth Savage Cinema night, that ultimately had to be cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.
October 30th 2012 @ Roxy Bar & Screen
PSYCHO II (1983)/PSYCHO III (1986)
When Alfred Hitchcock died in April 1980, it’s tempting to imagine the scene at Universal Studios, the company where Hitch made the vast majority of his classic hit films during the preceding 30 years: a brief period of respectful mourning followed by the gleeful rubbing of hands of executives crowing, “Now let’s make that Psycho sequel we always wanted!” Indeed, the response of filmgoers worldwide to the news that Psycho II was soon to become a reality was predictably (yet understandably) disgust and scepticism, especially once they learned that it was to be written and directed by two nobodies who had only previously worked in disreputable exploitation films. The never‐ending series of increasingly formulaic, boring slasher films indirectly sired from Psycho that flooded the market around this time did nothing to quell people’s fears. Fortunately, Universal (specifically legendary head of production Verna Fields) put their faith in exactly the right pair of nobodies.
September 18th 2012 @ Roxy Bar & Screen
THE REFLECTING SKIN (1990) /
THE PASSION OF DARKLY NOON (1995)
Philip Ridley is those of those rare, enviable artists who happens to be a jack‐of‐all‐trades and is arguably a master at pretty much all of them: a celebrated painter and photographer who has had exhibitions all around the world; a beloved children’s author of books such as Krindlekrax and Scribbleboy; and perhaps most famously, his writing for the theatre has brought him numerous plaudits, a loyal and ever‐expanding following, as well as his fair share of controversy. This year alone has seen high‐profile London productions of his earlier plays The Pitchfork Disney, Mercury Fur and Tender Napalm, as well as two new works, Shivered and the upcoming Feathers In The Snow. All this is merely scratching the surface – there are plays for teenagers, poems, song lyrics, librettos for operas… a Philip Ridley fan is never short of new work to discover, and his prodigious output increases each year. Just as celebrated by a smaller but equally fervent fanbase, however, are his feature films. From his screenplay to Peter Medak’s The Krays (1990) to his recent comeback after 14 years away from the director’s chair, Heartless (2009), Ridley’s cinema work blurs the boundaries of genre and presents an endless array of incendiary, deeply emotive fantastical imagery that comes closer to the feeling of dreaming than almost any other British filmmaker has achieved.
August 21st 2012 @ Roxy Bar & Screen
THE COMPANY OF WOLVES (1984) /
1980s cinema was full of films featuring preteen protagonists in mortal jeopardy, whether it was the PG‐rated fantasy adventures directed, produced or simply inspired by Steven Spielberg, or the “safe” PG‐13 thrills of the “kiddie horror” genre that dominated the second half of the decade (The Lost Boys, The Monster Squad, The Gate, etc.) More interesting (and rarer), however, were a trend of films targeted towards adult filmgoers that nonetheless featured children in lead roles undergoing a (often literally) painful coming‐of‐age. Tonight’s double bill consists of two of the more accomplished examples of this subgenre.
Neil Jordan’s second film, The Company Of Wolves (1984), is a strange sort-of portmanteau film based on The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, a collection of short stories that also acted as feminist critiques and reinterpretations of classic fairytales. (Not only that, but Carter was responding to Bruno Bettelheim’s The Uses Of Enchantment, which posited fairytales as “magic mirrors” where children can discover a path to “adulthood, contentment and independence.”) The film was the first original production of young upstart distributor Palace Pictures, and the film certainly betrays its roots in producers Stephen Woolley and Nik Powell’s legendary Scala cinema with its mix of gory effects‐driven horror (there’s even an explicit reference to Palace’s earlier flagship success The Evil Dead) and pseudo‐Freudian arthouse elements. Palace’s talented young press team (led by future Atonement producer Paul Webster) were able to elegantly manage this lowbrow/highbrow divide when marketing the film, leading to a crossover box office triumph.
July 24th 2012 @ Roxy Bar & Screen
MARTIN (1977) / GANJA & HESS (1973)
In 1968, Night Of The Living Dead marked the feature film debuts of its director. an experienced maker of commercials and industrial films named George Romero, and its leading man, an erudite African‐American academic named Duane Jones. You don’t need me to remind you that NOTLD was the atom bomb that ushered in a new era of graphic bloodletting in American horror, and legitimised lo‐fi, low‐budget aesthetics; it remains arguably the most influential film of its kind. Its shadow certainly looms large over tonight’s double bill, and not just because of the involvement of Romero and Jones, whose contributions to NOTLD remain probably the most enduring. Martin and Ganja & Hess are testament to a new postmodern ideal that swept through 1970s horror after NOTLD: with the removal of industry censorship and the rise of independent production, the ‘rules’ of the genre were ripped to shreds. Who says vampires should be allergic to sunlight, or unable to walk into churches? Fangs, capes, garlic? Not in this decade! And with drug addiction sweeping the American urban landscape on an unprecedented scale, a new metaphor was available to filmmakers wanting to breathe new life and meaning into the hoariest of subgenres.
Savage Cinema is a new collective based in London celebrating some of the most breathtaking examples of transgressive, alternative cinema. We begin with a double-bill of two of the most celebrated American independent genre films of the 1970s: George A. Romero’s gritty, self-reflexive yet haunting classic MARTIN (1977), the director’s favourite of his own films; and the UK premiere of the director’s cut of Bill Gunn’s spellbinding, formerly ‘lost’ blaxploitation/avant-garde masterpiece GANJA & HESS (1973).
“More than just a midnight-movie classic, MARTIN is inventive, haunting and bitingly smart… see Romero at the top of his terror game.” - Film4
“GANJA & HESS is an underground classic… the most complicated, intriguing, subtle, sophisticated, and passionate Black film of the Seventies.” - James Monaco, American Film Now
Both films, shot on grainy 16mm with tiny budgets, could nominally be termed ‘vampire’ films, but are far more ambitious and elusive than such a label suggests. MARTIN’s eponymous young protagonist, banished to a dilapidated Pennsylvania mining town in the care of a superstitious family member, uses razorblades in place of fangs and, it is suggested, may not even be a vampire at all. GANJA & HESS uses its titular upper-class New York blood-drinkers to represent tensions surrounding identity within contemporary African-American culture.
Lest this seem all too heady, both films also possess buckets of style to boot, ranging from off-kilter editing, striking photography, and two of the most radical, underrated music scores ever heard in genre cinema. The connections don’t end there: GANJA & HESS features one of the few rare lead performances by Duane Jones, who was of course also the star of George Romero’s groundbreaking debut, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD.
Tickets cost £7 for the whole double bill, and available from We Got Tickets here: http://www.wegottickets.com/savagecinemauk.
The night will take place at the fantastic Roxy Bar & Screen, described by Urban Life as “probably the coolest cinema venue in London, if not the UK.” The Roxy has a great, reasonably-priced selection of food and drink on offer throughout the evening. For more information check out their website: http://www.roxybarandscreen.com/
For more information, visit Savage Cinema at:
Further information is available by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
A great video review of Ganja & Hess by filmmaker Masli Dukan. The film screens July 24th 2012 at the Roxy Bar & Screen in London.
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