SAMPLE IT, LOOP IT, EAT IT and LINK IT:
Read my review of The Last House on Needless Street over at the British Fantasy Society CLICK HERE
Read my review of The Last House on Needless Street over at the British Fantasy Society CLICK HERE
Preorder / Buy your copy of Love Like Bleeding Out HERE
Find Steve on twitter - he's @stevegone58
Dir. Emerald Fennell
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)
“Even though the gods are crazy / Even though the stars are blind / If you show me real love, baby / I'll show you mine / I can make it nice and naughty / Be the devil and angel, too / Got a heart and soul and body / Let's see what this love can do / Maybe I'm perfect for you…”
Arriving like a shotgun blast of expertly timed catharsis, Emerald Fennell’s Promising Young Woman hits hard with its message that claiming to be a ‘nice guy’ isn’t enough in this world where #MeToo still needs wider engagement.
Meet Cassandra (Carey Mulligan), she’s that girl over there in the bar who looks like she’s so drunk she can’t take care of herself. She’s beautifully dishevelled with her hair loose and her skirt hitched up. This is a woman who really needs someone to call her a reputable taxi and to make sure she gets home safely but having caught the attention of three guys across the bar, they are already discussing who should hit on her.
Jerry (Adam Brody) goes up to her and offers ‘to see her home safely’ but somehow his definition of this is to take her back to his apartment and ply her with kumquat liqueur before forcibly getting her to his bed. Let’s just say that what happens next isn’t what he was expecting…
Following in the spirit of the excellent Hard Candy which tackled the thorny issue of creeps grooming underage girls online – only to end up as a semi-horror story when one girl decides to drug and castrate the seemingly charming scumbag. Promising Young Woman goes for the throat of guys who think they have a right to have sex with women who are too drunk to say ‘no’.
Cassie is a real-life Harley Quinn-esque a really Promising Young Woman who doesn’t play by society’s rules. Having dropped out of medical school, she still lives with her parents – despite them getting her not-so-subtle birthday presents such as travel cases. She works in a dead-end coffee shop much to the annoyance of her boss (Laverne Cox) who keeps trying to get her to do more with her life.
When Cassie meets Ryan (Bo Burnham), a smooth-talking and seemingly genuine potential love interest it unbalances her even further. Can she learn to trust this guy who is prepared to woo her by dancing to Paris Hilton in a chemist shop?
It is a wild ride finding out and the action which gets dark in parts plays out to an excellent soundtrack – which features tracks that will stay with you after the credits roll including a great dark version of Britney Spears’ Toxic and opens with Charli XCx's Boys...
(5- Essential viewing..)
Awesomeness ööööö – vital and brilliant
Laughs ööö – Some dark fun
Horror ööö – Trigger warning applies...
Spiritual Enlightenment öö - God isn't a man
Imagine a world where the earth is becoming a patriarchal living hell?
maybe click below to find out more in my dark sci-fi novel...
That’s enough plot taster, Whisper Gatherers is a sci-fi young adult-friendly novel that is the first book in ‘The Song of Forgetfulness’ Post-Apocalyptic series. Writer Nicola McDonagh uses a narrative, which as per my first paragraph is a slang-based language that may appear to have typos. They are not, it’s just quirky use of language to build a futuristic world – like a much less controversial A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess!?
There’s lots to enjoy as Adara has to face various trials and dangers – McDonagh ticks the sci-fi staple boxes with aplomb and delivers a fun romp that sets up the other books in series which I’ll have to explore are some point.
A great start to an inventive sci-fi series...
Buy your copy of Whisper Gatherers HERE
BOTH these books are worthy of your time - we're gonna call this fight a points draw!!
...is a cracking space adventure and I'm a sucker for some star-based violence... Reminds me of Outland starring Sean Connery which is one of my fav sci-fi films being pretty much High Noon in space – and as a concept that works really well (a Marshal stationed at a mining colony on orbiting Jupiter is marked for assassination and must fight to survive). So it follows that transporting western plots to space which is the ultimate ‘wild frontier’ is a great idea, and here Red Noise takes the classic A Fist Full of Dollars (itself based on samurai legend Yojimbo) and sets it on ‘Station 35’ a godforsaken outpost where nothing good ever happens.
I got John the author to answer the Infamous Darkmatters questions - read on:
Directed by Max Barbakow
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@cleric20)
Feels like I’ve written this review before – anyway – it’s November 9 in Palm Springs and I, Nyles (played by Andy Samberg) wake up next to my girlfriend Misty (Meredith Hagner). It’s the wedding day of her pals Tala (Camila Mendes) and Abe (Tyler Hoechlin).
It all goes ok until at the reception I jump in and deliver a touching impromptu speech, much to the relief of Tala's sister, Sarah (Cristin Milioti), she’s the drunk and unprepared maid-of-honour...
She’s special – I can feel a connection so I decide to show her Misty in the act of cheating on me – I’ll get to how I know when and where she would be in a minute. Alas things go a bit awry and Sarah gets sucked into a time vortex even though I warned her not to follow me into the cave where it dwells.
Feels like I’ve written this review before – anyway – it’s November 9 (again) in Palm Springs but this time Sarah wakes up and finds it is also November 9 for her again. Obviously, she freaks out a bit and but I explain the time loop as best I can. Every time I die or fell asleep the day resets and there’s nothing I can do to escape it. I’ve been in this loop for a L O N G time and know pretty much everything that happens in the day. I find day-drinking helps…
Feels like I’ve written this review before – anyway – it’s November 9 (again) in Palm Springs and Sarah and I start to enjoy our repeat day. We get reckless and start to indulge in lots of hedonistic fun – oh there’s also Roy, I should have mentioned him. He’s also caught in the loop but didn’t take it well and now comes to find, torture and kill me quite often.
Feels like I’ve written this review before – anyway – it’s November 9 (again) in Palm Springs – if you’re thinking Groundhog Day or Happy Death Day or actually any time loop movie, yes this is one to add to the genre. The good news is that Palm Springs is superb, its dark, quirky and packs real emotion along with plenty of laughs.
Getting old isn’t much fun – I’m feeling it as I hit the half-century mark – ageing begins to catch up with you in all sorts of ways, like I can walk into a room and totally forget why I even came in there… So what then can we do to help our ageing demographic live sustainable and independent lives for as long as possible? How might integrated tech be harnessed to enhance the lives of those who need reminders to buy food and take showers? (I’m not quite there yet)… Welcome to John Gastil’s Gray Matters – a near-future tale where things around us are at once familiar and alternative. Trump still won but then got beaten (by a female, though). The internet has been supercharged and is now referred to as ‘The Loop’ using advanced linked algorithms to understand people’s interests and directly feeds relevant information.
I had the chance to put some questions to the LOOP itself - read on to explore this man / machine interaction:
ACCESS - my review - of John Gastil's great future-em-up GRAY MATTERS over at the British Fantasy Society CLICK HERE
Appreciated by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
David ‘yeah I wrote Training Day’ Ayer makes movies that many people dislike, for many reasons. However - I’d call myself a fan of his despite his making one film that I absolutely hated (maybe I’m due a rewatch?)…
Anyway – here are my ranking of all Ayer’s films from rubbish (Sabotage) to brilliant (End of Watch) – would love to know what your thoughts are on them.
Hard to fathom what was going on here – and incredible to think this film hit in the same year as Ayer's excellent ‘Fury’. Reworking Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None - this lamest of Ayer’s films sees Arnold Schwarzenegger looking angry and confused as his crack team are taken out one by one – ironically because of $10m crack money they stole…
Street Kings (my review)
I’m told that Street Kings was based on a James Ellroy novel idea and it plays like a slightly grubbier-than-average police-em-up. Blessed with having Keanu Reeves in the lead, there is lots to like in this tale of corruption and consequences.
Bright (not reviewed yet)
Bright might not live up to its name but I found it a half-decent fantasy buddy cop effort that looks good and doesn’t demand any brainpower to enjoy. Even if it has dialogue like “fairy lives don’t matter today” there are some good action scenes and the orc/human relationship is interesting – mostly thanks to Joel Edgerton who deserved the ‘best orc actor’ OSCAR nom.
Will we ever see the Ayer Cut of this massively enjoyable shambles? Probably not but I’m a self-confessed sucker for DC movies and I’m in the tiny minority of filmgoers who actually had a good time watching this.
The Tax Collector (not reviewed yet)
The Tax Collector is another Los Angeles-based thriller that blows the lid off the lives of two titular ‘tax collectors’. Boasting one of the best gunfights I’ve witnessed on screen for some time and perhaps birthing my most used twitter gif of LeBeouf giving the perfect COVID-friendly arm bump (as above), this is one that makes for great late-night viewing.
I’ll never forget Ayer's directorial debut because I got to watch in a Soho cinema with just Mark Kermode and James King from Radio 1 for company. Christian Bale is amazing as the traumatised guy on an express elevator to hell.
Brad Pitt and Shia LeBeouf are excellent in this war-is-grim film that packs serious violence and shoots it through with an innocence lost epitaph. Brothers to the end (and what an end) this film makes me want Ayer to make another war movie!
I love this police-em-up take on the whole ‘found footage’ genre. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña are LAPD cop buddies – who light up the screen. Surely this chemistry is what Ayer was hoping to recapture with Bright but here it shines like an eyeball-searing supernova. Excellent filmmaking and a wild ride to watch!!
It's launch day for the soon-to-be horror phenomenon FOR RYE (read Matt's review here) so let's explore the mind of the author with some left-field Darkmatters questions...
Matt: If scientists ever managed to create a giant mecha version of you – who or what would be your nemesis?
Gavin: It’s a little-known fact not only that Mecha-Gav does actually exist, but also that he runs on a very particular kind of fuel: chilled cheese and jam sandwiches. Now, suffice it to say that with a full tank of fuel, Mecha-Gav doesn’t really need to worry about any enemies. He is truly unstoppable. However, should his fridge break down and rob his galvanising cheese and jam sandwiches of their coldness, his powers deplete. So to answer your question in the most sensible, realistic way possible, I’m going to have to say a broken fridge.
Matt: What is the most disturbing fictional scene you’ve ever read or watched in a book/film of any genre?
Gavin: As I get older, I’m actually finding myself more disturbed by fiction involving less extreme modes of destruction. So I’ll find someone being stabbed or shot far more disturbing than, say, the various creative tortures of the Saw franchise, or sequences from truly extreme horrors such as the August Underground trilogy, or any number New French Extremity flicks. My favourite horror movie is The Blair Witch Project. I’m aware of its divisiveness, and how for so many people the film doesn’t seem to do anything, but for me the entire thing is absolutely traumatising. I’ve written extensively about the film on my website, particularly how it prompts viewers to project their own fear into those masses of amorphous trees. The thing plays out like a cinematic Rorschach test, giving audiences not a single glimmer of the witch, yet contorting and distorting continuously by way of its grainy handheld camera footage until we can’t help but fill in the blanks ourselves. I could say a lot more on the topic of this movie, but in short, the horror of The Blair Witch Project transcends the genre for me, and so there’s yer answer. As for which scene, well, it’s hard to pick. There’s something about Mike marching around the trees screaming the Star- Spangled Banner that absolutely chills my blood. Also the baby noises… “There ain’t no baby out there, man.”
Matt: If you were hired to throw a parade of any scale or theme through the centre of London what type of parade would it be?
Gavin: I’m a pretty solitary guy of simple pleasures. I’m quite happy just touring a few pubs with small group of friends, keeping to ourselves, revelling in conversation. So my parade would be me and a few friends, seeing how many pubs we could sample in one evening. But that ain’t a parade, and that ain’t the answer you were looking for. So gimmie a fifty-foot animatronic Lovecraftian god, three hundred robed and cloaked bowed figures marching slowly behind the beast, each carrying a single candle, and hire a few thousand actors to run screaming naked and covered head to foot in blood from the surrounding alleyways, dropping to their knees before the robotic deity to beg for mercy before scrambling away back into the shadows. Or just a few pubs. Either works.
Matt: You’re in a strange town with £100,000 that you have to spend in a single evening – talk me through what you get up to…
Gavin: Let me tell you about one thing I love, and one thing I hate. As I know is the case with you, I love movies, especially the cinema. I hate, loathe, and detest inconsiderate behaviour in the cinema. Yes, I’m a little more noise sensitive than most people, but I’ve had many a film experience ruined by…well, let’s not turn this into too much of a rant or you’ll never get me to stop. Anyway, the ‘strangeness’ of your proposed town doesn’t bother me. I’m a strange guy, so I’ll just roll with that. What I want to know is whether they have a cinema. If they do, I’ll book every seat and sit right in the middle, just me and the movie. The only downfall to this plan would be if the movie’s crap. I’ll have plenty of change left over, so maybe I can bribe them into sticking on some dusty old horror reels they have stuffed in the back of a cupboard. Not much of a big spender, am I?
Matt: Who inspires you most (can be living or dead)?
Gavin: Until I stumbled into the writing game, my pursuit of choice was music. I obsessed over the craft of songwriting, production, composition, performance…every facet of music, and many genres within. From my teenage years right through my twenties I was dogged in my perseverance to make something of my passion, every life choice guided by this objective. I gave up a lot, took on even more, and poured all my energy into becoming the best guitarist to ever live. That goal was never realised, and I can look back now and see where I went wrong: it’s blindingly obvious to see that I didn’t ‘put myself’ out there enough, spending too many years hunched over the instrument in my dingy little bedroom; I took on the entirety of music, and didn’t zero in on a specific genre or area of expertise; I recorded hundreds of hours of music, but didn’t pick the best material and hone it to perfection. There are countless lessons I’ve been able to draw from my years in music and apply to my writing endeavours, and so the honest answer to your question would be that this old version of Gavin is my greatest inspiration. Every day I think about where he went wrong, and how I can do better now that I have a second chance. It’s important not to feel too embittered by our past failures, and use them as stepping stones to future victories. However, it’s also important not to paint our pasts completely in defeat, and recognise what we did achieve. I’m proud that he worked so hard at his craft and sacrificed so much in the pursuit of his goal. The most important thing I learnt through all those years was how to pour your every being into an objective, and don’t take your eyes off the target until the arrow’s hit home. Although he never attained what he was after, past-Gavin serves as inspiration to me every day, both in his failures and successes. I hope anyone reading this can do the same for themselves.
Matt: There’s a masked assailant with a gun to your head, who is most likely to be under the mask?
Gavin: I’d like to think I’m a pretty friendly guy with no real enemies, so hopefully this ain’t something I have to worry about too much. You never mentioned the height, fur-to-flesh ratio, or species, so I’m inclined to suspect my cat Nellie would the one behind the mask. The shop didn’t have her favourite treats the other day and she’s still pretty pissed at me.
Matt: What is the meaning of life?
Gavin: Finally, a nice light question. The usual response to this one is that we project only our own meaning onto life, and I’m inclined to agree. But to answer this question properly we must first define our terms. If we’re talking about an objective meaning – that is, a sort of cosmic meaning that exists outwith and in spite of our own personal experiences – then I’m not sure there’s any way for me to know that there isn’t one of those, just as there’s no way for anyone else to prove the assertion that there is one. As for a subjective meaning – ‘reasons’ for our lives on an individual basis – then of course those exist, although not for everyone. I think in practice subjective meanings tends to arise almost arbitrarily; we fall into careers, families, artistic endeavours, religion, charitable pursuits, politics, plumbing, whatever. As John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans,” and whatever ‘life’ consists of will hopefully become our meaning. My personal opinion is that there is no objective meaning to life. The universe is indifferent to our existence, although if you’ll indulge me in another quote, Alan Watts said, “You are the universe experiencing itself.” We are a grain of sand on the cosmic beach that has, against all odds, come to experience itself, and as a result demand a reason for its doing so. Although I think this was a natural process occurring outside of intelligent intervention, I think the term ‘accidental’ is misleading, and that it happened simply because it could happen. Existence breeds complexity; complexity eventually breeds life; life breeds meaning. To me, there’s no overarching meaning inherent in the universe, and the term itself is reductive in the context of cosmic reality and how time and space came to be. As for subjective meaning, or at least my understanding of the idea of personal meaning, I believe it is whatever we ourselves assign. Sometimes personal meaning arises as the result of a deliberate effort; someone develops a passion for brain surgery and consciously decides this will be the focus of their life, working hard to make this a reality. Other times (and I suspect most times) it happens almost outwith our control: we happen to miss our bus and end up standing in the rain with a colleague after work, we happen to go for a drink, we happen to get married, we happen to decide they are worthy of our every waking effort. What is the meaning of life? There is no meaning of life, only the meaning of a life.
Matt: What was the best gift you’ve ever been given?
Gavin: Probably you asking me what the meaning of life is. That was fun.
Matt: If you could have a sidekick robot – what would it be able to do for you?
Gavin: I expect most writers will have a similar answer. The bane of my existence are the mundanities of life, and every moment I’m not writing I feel this heavy weight on my chest, this pressure that I’m wasting my time. Anything like chores, shopping, work, taking out the bins…throughout it all there’s a voice in my head screaming at me to get back to the real work. So yeah, my sidekick robot is welcome to deal with all that stuff. I’m forever aware of the fleeting nature of life, of how lucky we all are to have found our conscious selves steering these fleshy lumps of meat around the world. I guess it comes back to the idea of finding meaning, or it finding you, and that meaning becoming your reason for existing. I’ve come to somewhat feel that way about my writing, and being a guy that’s quite obsessed with mortality and the ticking clock to which we are all enslaved, anything other than bleeding for that meaning feels kind of traitorous to me. Having said that, I love nothing more than cuddling up with my girlfriend and my cat on the sofa for a horror/chocolate marathon, so the robot sidekick ain’t getting his greasy hands-on that action.
Matt: What would you like written on your tombstone?
Gavin: “Here lies Gavin Gardiner, kind of annoying but a loving cat-dad, cause of death unknown. However, it’s pretty strange that he died the day after Matt Adcock asked him what he’d like written on his tombstone. Adcock has been taken in for questioning, just as Gavin would have wanted.”
Reviewed by Matt Adcock (@Cleric20)
What happens when a grieving mother uploads the consciousness of her tragically killed daughter, Iris, into a stolen synthetic body?
That is the core plot of the exciting and challenging new
short cyberpunk film VENUS. When Iris is torn out of her idyllic digital afterlife
and on the run in an oppressive futuristic city, she has to confront her
body's objectification and its violent capabilities, as well as the
consequences of her mother's actions.
Andrew McGee’s VENUS is a short live-action science-fiction film inspired by cyberpunk classics like Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell, and more broadly, films such as Ex Machina, Under the Skin, and Cam. It stars Margaret Clunie (Victoria, Last Christmas) in the lead role and is made by an obviously passionate and skilled team led by McGee. Where 'Cyberpunk' excels is in blending lowlife and high tech, depicting futuristic urban dystopias in which advancements in technology raise questions about cybernetically enhanced bodies and so much more. Concepts such as the implications of digital worlds, and what it means to be human, all against a backdrop of social upheaval and extreme inequality – this is a head trip you’ll want to take.
I asked the makers for their thinking and they said:
“It seems like an obvious genre through which to also explore crucial modern-day issues of sexism, sexuality, and objectification. Yet it's rare to see these worlds from the perspective of a female protagonist while also engaging with these issues. VENUS intends to do just that, as well as embracing the action, excitement and compelling visuals of the genre. The story is about the relationship between Iris and her insurgent mother, who goes to desperate lengths to bring her dead daughter back to life; as a result, Iris is thrown into a hostile world in an unfamiliar body designed for sex and violence. The film is a progressive representation of gender and identity in the most progressive of genres. The intention is to create a thrilling and thought-provoking short film with a real-world importance.”
I really enjoyed this short burst of neon-lit adventure and am delighted to report that it is in being considered as a proof of concept to launch a full-length feature film. The run time encompasses action, excitement, and the compelling visuals of the genre, while sensitively exploring themes of identity, gender, and objectification from a unique perspective. The script was also a ScreenCraft finalist, one of the biggest international screenwriting competitions.
Director McGee explained his inspiration:
“I’ve always been creative, writing stories as a child and drawing comics about my dog, which I look back on as storyboards. I wanted to pursue acting as a teenager, but eventually felt more comfortable behind a camera. I love the collaborative process of bringing so many different artists together, from actors to composers to set designers.”
When you get chance – seek this film out and plugin at your first availability. Why not throw some backing into the kickstarter and become part of this subgenre of science-fiction in which advancements in technology raise questions about artificial intelligence, body modification, corporate power and resistance, and what it means to be human…
(5 - The future isn't what it used to be...)
Highly recommended – makes a super accompaniment to my short cyberpunk story in the new Neo Cyberpunk anthology!?