Cosy and Chilling Gothic Tales from the South…

As the evenings draw in, and Hallowe’en is looming, we’re looking forward to our delightfully atmospheric (and ever so slightly sinister) screening of Charles Laughton’s ‘The Night of the Hunter’, this Saturday at St Michael’s Community Hall, in Brighton. Details of the screening can be found on our website. Be sure to pre-book your tickets to avoid disappointment – they are going like hot cakes, and there is limited capacity in the venue.

Thinking about this Southern Gothic classic has got us in the mood for more in a similar vein, so we thought we’d take a look at some other choice films from the genre – something to cosy down to, with a cup of tea, this Autumn….

Wise Blood (1979)

John Huston’s adaptation of Flannery O’Connor’s novel of the same name is an odd little film. Following the conflicted Hazel Motes (played by Brad Dourif with his signature strangeness), a young war veteran and founder and preacher of the ‘Church of Truth Without Christ’, the film affectionately takes in all manner of eccentric characters and misfits, and doesn’t miss a beat.

Sparrows (1926)

The Southern thriller, ‘Sparrows’ is classic Mary Pickford, who was easily the most powerful woman in Hollywood when she starred in and produced this film. Pickford plays Molly, an adolescent inmate living at a horrific ‘baby farm’. She looks after the children who are being held there, and plots their escape…

Down by Law (1986)

Mrs Filmspot has an enormous soft spot for Tom Waits… Mr Filmspot is less sure. One thing they both agree on, though, is this original and charming comedy by Jim Jarmusch. The slow-moving, simple camera work captures the landscape of the Louisiana Bayou beautifully, and the wisecracking camaraderie of the three principal actors (Waits, John Lurie and the ever-delightful Roberto Benigni) makes this essential viewing.

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962)

A key element in many Southern Gothic films is the idea of children and their innocence. This adaptation of Harper Lee’s masterly novel is a great partner to ‘Night of the Hunter’, in that, like in Laughton’s film, it illustrates how children can ‘abide and endure’, dealing with circumstances beyond their control.

Mud (2013)

Another film looking at an adult world from the perspective of a child, ‘Mud’ is the most recent entry on this list. Said to be inspired by the work of Mark Twain, writer-director Jeff Nichols has created a modern fairytale, which also harkens back to nostalgic ‘adventure’ films of the 1980s. Matthew McConaughey’s escaped convict is a rather perfect flawed hero. One of our favourite films to come out of the US in the past 5 years.

…All the above are fantastic films, of course… however,’The Night of the Hunter’ is surely one of the finest Southern Gothic films. We hope to see you at St Michael’s this Saturday. Wrap up warm, as the film is a bit of a chiller!

ALSO! Don’t miss our next Doodle Animation workshop – this Monday 24 October at Arts@theCrypt in Seaford. We shall be at the gallery 11am – 3pm, and you can contribute to our short film about Seaford. The workshop is absolutely free, so come and join us!

We had a fantastic time at Hyperdrive Sci-Fi and Fantasy Film Festival on Saturday. The small, but perfectly formed group of animators helped create an astonishing amount of animation in just over an hour. The final film will be released on our YouTube channel shortly, so watch this space!


Early Sci Fi… preparing for Hyperdrive

Hello Filmspotters!

Goodness me, I’m sorry that we have abandoned the blog for so long! We felt it was time to get back on track, ahead of our exciting autumn and winter season. There are lots of exciting screenings, workshops and projects coming up – so there will be lots to write about!

First off, we’re focussing on our upcoming Workshop at next week’s Hyperdrive Sci-Fi and Fantasy Festival at Hailsham Pavilion. We’re delighted to be working with this exciting festival for the first time this year. Its a fun festival where you can see what’s new from some of the fantastic up and coming talent in the world of sci-fi and fantasy film. International filmmakers will be showing off their latest productions, while raising money for two great charities: Demelza House Children’s Hospice and Smokey Paws.

At the festival, we’re running a workshop entitled La Doodle Dans La Lune – creating a ‘reimagined’ version of George Méliès’s innovative silent science fiction from 1902. Full details can be found on our website. In honour of this, we thought we’d re-launch the blog with five early sci-fi picks!

5. The Lost World (1925)

Based on the Arthur Conan Doyle book of the same name, ‘The Lost World’ is an extremely watchable and fun silent film. The stop motion animation by Willis O’Brien was a great influence on Ray Harryhausen, a hero of all here at Filmspot HQ! You can see the film is what is thought of as its most complete form at the above YouTube link, so put the kettle on and settle down for a treat.

4. Paris Qui Dort (1925)

An early comedy/ sci-fi crossover, the plot involves a mad scientist ‘freezing’ citizens of Paris with a magical ray. Rene Clair’s first film as Director, this charming tale is possibly the first time a film explored the premise of ‘what would you do if everything was frozen apart from you?’

3. 20,000 leagues under the sea (1916)

Thought to be the first feature length sci-fi film, Stuart Paton’s adaptation of Jules Verne’s novel was renowned for its very early underwater photography, which was shot by the pioneering Williamson Brothers. The entire film is on YouTube, but the quality is not great.

2. Metropolis (1927)

When somebody mentioned ‘silent sci-fi’, I think ‘Metropolis’ is the first film that would spring to most people’s minds – and with good reason. Reconstructed and restored in recent years, if you haven’t seen the most recent and most extensive cut of this film, I urge you to watch it. It is incredible, iconic and breathtaking.

1. La Voyage dans la Lune (1902)

Of course, we couldn’t resist rounding off our list with Georges Melies very early short. Melies is often referred to as the ‘father of sci-fi’. It is a beautifully rich and imaginative short film – and we can’t wait to see what visitors to Hailsham will create in response to it next Saturday!

Hope to see you at Hyperdrive!