Tom Humberstone


horror month - day 29

Excision (2012)

"And I don't want to be presumptuous, but if I do get into heaven and all my loved ones have been watching over me... a lot of my relationships will have been compromised."

Quick summary: Pauline is your typical teenager. Awkward. Sullen. With a macabre fascination with blood and gore, violent psychosexual daydreams and a desire to become a surgeon.

Whew. Well, that was something. The film kicks off with a bloody, sexual fantasy in a sterile hospital room and just sort of builds from there. There's a lot of black humour and sardonic wit throughout that reminded me of the tone of Heathers.

Anna Lynne McCord was incredible in the lead role.

While the ending was inevitable and hinted at early on, it doesn't make it any less shocking when it happens and the journey there was unexpected, and deeply odd - in a good way.

The very deliberate, symmetrical composition of the shots, and the attention to detail had me thinking this might be the sort of horror film Wes Anderson would make. Or at least Anderson by way of the body horror of Cronenburg (though obviously reality is never going to beat the SNL Wes Anderson horror trailer). That sort of comparison does the film a disservice though - it has a confident, assured directorial style all it's own.

Lovely to see the John Waters cameo - doing double duty as priest and put-upon psychiatrist (while also acting as one giant "this is a film by - and for - outsiders" sign). And Waters favourite Traci Lords is great as the domineering mother.

Also great to see Joey Lucas from The West Wing make an appearance! Oh, and Malcolm McDowell too I guess. But Joey Lucas guys!

With it being Halloween weekend, I thought I'd throw some easy-to-access suggestions out there in case you've not decided what to watch/listen to. As this blog proves, I'm by no means an expert but hopefully it's helpful for the casual and/or curious horror fan:

The horror fiction riff on Serial - Limetown - is a great listen. Lore is worth subscribing to for interesting histories and explorations of horror tropes alongside some creepy unexplained stories. There's a new episode of the brilliant I Was There Too with PJ Soles talking about her role in Halloween that I really recommend. There's a Halloween special of Film Fandango where they talk about recent horror films. Plus, there's a good listener-outsourced bunch of scary stories on This American Life.

Fright Night on Radio 4 (Saturday evening) looks like it'll be great fun with The Stone Tape, Ring, and other treats.

UK Netflix There's the brilliant The Babadook and the romantic, and unexpected Spring. Recent favourites on there include House of the Devil, Housebound, Berberian Sound Studio, and Starry Eyes. The enjoyable What We Do In The Shadows is a giggle. Classics like American Werewolf in London and The Omen are always worth a re-watch. I really like the clever and funny Teeth and Ginger Snaps. The Mist is worth a watch if you enjoy bleak endings. And finally (it's not technically a horror but it takes place in a perma-Halloween and uses familiar horror beats and Carpenter-esque shots) you're in for a treat if you've not already seen The Guest.

US Netflix A little more choice here. You have most of the above plus other recent favourites like Jug Face, We Are What We Are, and The Nightmare. More classics like Rosemary's Baby. Recent classics like Let The Right One In and The Others. Plus, the excellent A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and the overlooked Pontypool.

Amazon Prime Instant Not a huge selection but it has recently added the fantastic It Follows. And Kill List is on there too if you've not already joined the Ben Wheatley fan club.

And there's a bunch of public domain horror films here if you'd like to give Nosferatu or the excellent Carnival of Souls a go.

Oh and no-one asked but my favourite halloween episodes from TV: Buffy The Vampire Slayer - "Halloween" and "Fear Itself", Angel - "Life of the Party", Brooklyn Nine Nine - "Halloween Parts 1-3", Community - "Epidemiology", Castle - "Vampire Weekend", Louie - "Halloween/Ellie", The Office - "Halloween", Parcs & Rec - "Greg Pikitis", Freaks and Geeks - "Tricks and Treats", Frasier - "Halloween", and Friends - "The One with the Halloween Party". That right there might be my halloween programming...

Tonight: Time for Dellamorte Dellamore (1994) now my copy has arrived.