Archive for July, 2012

Female Film Festival

July 31, 2012 - 2:45 pm 3 Comments




Ever thought about movies? It’s just odd that a coventry local should have so much about a US film festival

Thanks to William McCabe for this.

Etheria Film Festival to celebrate female sci-fi and fantasy filmmakers
By David Bentley on July 23, 2012 11:03 AM | No Comments
FEMALE filmmakers in the sci-fi and fantasy genre will be celebrated with the first ever Etheria Film Festival, to be held in September 2012.
Etheria is the brainchild of film journalist Heidi Honeycutt and the Viscera Organisation, a not-for-profit group dedicated to increasing the visibility of female genre filmmakers.

Last month, the Viscera Film Festival Carpet Ceremony put the spotlight on up-and-coming women directors in the horror genre with a programme of new short films and a celebrity judging panel of industry veterans.
A Viscera spokeswoman said: “The Viscera Film Festival has been showcasing the best in emerging female horror film talent since 2007.
“But why stop with horror? There are talented women filmmakers across every genre. The Etheria Film Festival is the only film festival in the world that screens, exclusively, the best new short science fiction and fantasy films directed by women from around the globe.”
Etheria is co-presented by the website All Things Horror Online and will be held on September 15, 2012, at Somerville Theatre, 55 Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts, USA.
Film Lineup
Fantasy Category
Seamstress – Gracie Otto (Australia)
An ailing birdwatcher becomes obsessed with a seamstress living next door when he observes her luring birds into her home. He discovers that she needs the birds to survive, and that he may hold the key to furthering the species.
Oowie Wanna – Bridget Palardy (USA)
While doing laundry, a misfit 7-year-old girl tumbles into an alluring other-world, where she must decide the fate of her birthmark.
Prita Noire – Sofia Carrillo (Mexico)
A fantastical animated story of two sisters in a strange place, and their strange relationship.
She Wolf – Francesca Reverdito (Italy)
Little Red Riding Hood turns the table on the wolf.
The Maiden and the Princess – Ali Scher (USA)
A fairy tale about a young girl who loves the princess instead of the prince.
The Hunter and the Swan Discuss Their Meeting – Emily Carmichael (USA)
A Brooklyn couple have dinner with a hunter and his girlfriend, a magical swan woman. It doesn’t go well.
The Stolen – Karen Lam (Canada)
A dark fairytale about an imaginative little girl who saves a bullied boy and is granted a secret wish.
The Red Hood – Danishka Esterhazy (Canada)
A dark re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood set in the Canadian prairies during the Great Depression.

Sci Fi Category
The Provider – Brianne Nord-Stewart (Canada)
In an alternate-history 1940s smalltown America, after Japan retaliates over Hiroshima with biological warfare, the local doctor’s home is the safest place to seek refuge. Or is it?
Undetected – Kristen Anderson (USA)
A blown engine on a remote road forces two sisters to look for help in a ghost-town from a couple that closely resembles the living dead.
Laura Keller – Maureen Perkins (USA)
With global population at an extreme high, federal fertility lotteries now determine who can and can’t reproduce. When one woman learns that she will be permanently sterilised, her faith in the system is shaken.
Imminent Danger – Alana McNair (USA)
Whoops! After an unintentional button pressing incident alerting Earth of its impending demise, Gail must find a way to reverse this misunderstanding and save the world!
Kaboomtown – Jakqui Schuler (USA)
As the human race keeps on exploding around her, Jane struggles to fill out a stack of application forms to stay alive.
Slashed – Rebecca Thomson (Australia)
Worlds will collide when Renata and Frieda’s erotic fantasies cross the digital frontier.
Volcano Girl – Ashley Maria (USA)
Fighting supervillains is easy. Losing your superhero job, moving back home and sharing a bathroom with your little sister? Now that’s hard.
Feature Program
We Are All Cylons – Ilana Rein (USA)
We Are All Cylons investigates our very human enthusiasm for technology and myth by examining the metaphysical resonances of the television series Battlestar Galactica.
Special Guest Judges
Rachel Talalay (director, Nightmare on Elm Street 6, Tank Girl)
Suzi Yoonessi (director, Dear Lemon Lima)
Stacie Ponder (artist/writer Womanthology, RPG)
Andre Dumas (journalist, TheHorrorDigest)
Chris Hallock (
Mike Snoonian (
Lynn Hershman Leeson (director, Teknolust”)
Christopher Golden (author, The Ferryman)
Jennifer M. Kroot (director, It Came From Kuchar)
Nicole McConvery (Program Director, Boston Underground Film Festival)
Richard Griffin (director, Exhumed, Disco Exorcist, Nun of That)
Liz Coffey (Film Preserver, Harvard Film Archive)
Lisa Hammer (director, Pox, The Invisible Life of Thomas Lynch)
Etheria’s Sponsors,,, TheHorrorDigest, Women In Horror Month, The Viscera Organization, Carly Lyn, Chris Hallock

Cyrus Darian

July 21, 2012 - 11:51 am No Comments

Cyrus Darian and the Technomicron
Author: Raven Dane
Publisher: Prosochi
Page count/Size: 308pp
Release date: 9th Sep 2011
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

At age twenty three, young orphaned and rather dashing Cyrus Darian flees his homeland of Persia heading for the delights of London where supernatural is second nature. Darian is an exotic blend of Irish from his Mom and Persian from his Dad.

Described as “alchemist, amateur dabbler in the occult, collector of antiquities, necromancer and murderer”, Darian is a fully fledged living breathing reason to read this book. We don’t know much about him to begin with, other than his supernatural skills and handsome looks, but we do know he is seeking out the Sumerian lifestone, an artefact which will help him in his unspecified quest.

Two years later, things go a little awry when a false trail finds him in the claws of a succubus, who gives him a ‘love bite’ to remember, almost killing him and bestowing him with everlasting long life and strange good looks complete with swirling silver, violet eyes into the bargain.

Ten years later and Darian, an inhabitant of London, still looks twenty-five and is still seeking hidden artefacts in the realms of a London drowning in a stinking, poisonous fog. There are riots over the poisoned air, overhead steam trams, dirigibles and demons. Reading somewhat like a Steampunk ‘urban’ fantasy, Cyrus Darian blends high adventure, visual feasts and sensuality to create a fun and fast paced romp.

Cyrus finds himself talked into the inevitable search for the Technomincron, a device of infinite power and danger. With his trusty sidekicks and a kick arse female lead, Darian tackles the denizens of Hell.

His demon friend Belial in particular, is one of the really enjoyable characters in the novel. He is great fun as he taunts and teases his human counterparts, also teasing himself with his flirtations with Darian, which can never be consummated.

This book has no pretensions. It is an adventure and a fun experience, though Dane does make reference to the poisonous air of London which is reminiscent of the historical ‘Great Stink’. You will surely be missing a Steampunk gem if you ignore this book . . . at your peril.

Edge Lit 2012

July 18, 2012 - 6:47 pm No Comments

Taking place Sat 14th July 2012 at the QUAD Derby, Edge Lit was an all day festival celebrating horror, SF & Fantasy organised by Alex Davis.

This fun packed event, which finished with a showing of Lovecraft/Cthulhu themed films, started at 10:00am on the Saturday with a selection of workshops, a choice of panels and readings by established genre authors.

Of course, yours truly couldn’t attend every session, so I had to choose carefully. To give you an idea of what the day was like, I shall run through the sessions I did attend and how I found them.

What makes a great short story?

The first panel I went to was ‘What makes a great short story?’ As a short story writer, I went to this particular panel in the hopes of some sage words of advice from the panellists. It all went down hill when horror author Simon Bestwick shared about an anthology he has submitted to about Nuns and Dragons. According to Bestwick, “hot nun on dragon action” was called for. Bestwick added a note of fun to an already lively panel, where the writers and editors talked about their favourite short stories, and what made them special. For Bestwick, it was of course ‘Masque of the Red Death’, which he read as a nine year old. Another story cited was ‘White Noise’ by Gary Kilworth.

Conversation led on to the debate about filming short stories versus novellas. Does every short story have the s cope to be a two hour film? Clive Barker’s work certainly does, though we “don’t talk about Rawhead Rex.” I concur.
According to writer Andrew Hook, anthologies are great forums for discovering new writers. They are like a box of assorted chocolates or a selection of malt whiskeys; each time you read (a story) there is a different light that goes on . . . you may like one but not the next one. And the best anthologies, it was concluded, include new and established authors, and new and old stories. It was a thoroughly enlightening and useful panel, which generated much discussion.

Guest of Honour: Christopher Fowler

As well as Geoff Ryman, Christopher Fowler, author of many genres including horror, fantasy and crime, attended Edge Lit as GoH. Interestingly, the Fowler Q&A kicked off with a conversation on the short story form. Fowler likes short stories, as the reader is willing to go with the writer when expectations suddenly switch. He talked about his Bryant & May novels, which feature two golden age detectives working in a modern world. As Fowler put it, older protagonists mean there “doesn’t have to be all that shagging and hitting.” And it definitely works! Listening to his reading, the characterisation and humour inherent within the set-up makes the books incredibly diverse. Although, he has had fights on his hands creating older characters and jumping genres, as he tends to do.

Are we still afraid of monsters?

Bestwick, who moderated this panel, pointed out for discussion that horror booms tend to coincide with Conservative governments! The last boom, taking place in the 70s and 80s took place during the Cold War, whilst the latest boom appears to be a post 9/11 reaction.

According to author Emma Newman, this could be because horror is a safe way to experience the things we are afraid of, a safe expression of fear. For Newman, human beings are the scariest of monsters. It is frightening how thin the veneer of civilisation is.

Discussion moved to what the next big trend will be, though nobody could really pin this one down.

Three of the Best: Workshops

As always, I like to attend a ‘few workshops at these things, to continually develop my skills as a writer. For this event I chose three workshops (Dialogue with Mike Shevdon, Making Monsters with Simon Bestwick and A Novel in an Hour with M.D. Lachlan).

All workshops were I incredibly valuable and well prepared for (there was no shortage of flip charts!).

In the dialogue workshop, Shevdon talked about the three types of relationship occurring during a conversation;
Communality – mutualism and;
Reciprocity – scratch back

For the conversation to work, there needs to be a change of state, which will build depth and create the twist or surprise. The technique which Shevdon talked about can be used as a diagnostic tool when the dialogue doesn’t feel right. As Shevdon advised us, “Look at the state change in your dialogue to move the story forward.” A very useful session.

In the monsters session, Bestwick had us working hard, each attendee creating their own version of a monster based on what they feared. It was a really fun and worthwhile workshop with some great results from everyone in the group.

In Lachlan’s workshop, we talked about plot structure and in less than an hour created a fully realised novel plot As Lachlan reminded us, he initial progress for getting words on the paper is important. “Don’t get it right, get it written.” The workshop looked at always creating the loop of setting up a problem, finding ways to resolve it, then moving on to the next problem. A great session for understanding structure and plot movement.

Reading: Justina Robson & Jaine Fenn

I had to make sure I attended at least one reading during my Edge Lit day, so given my fanzine Andromeda’s Offspring is dedicated to raising awareness about female genre writers, it had to be the double act of Justina and Jaine.

As always, both writers were warm, friendly, and more importantly, bloody talented! Jaine read a story of the ‘Angels’ coming out in a collection soon, whilst Justina read an excerpt from a new book she is currently working on. Exciting stuff. If you want to read something new from Justina, I am publishing a brand new story of hers in my fanzine in the next few days!

Oh God – Sarah’s at it again!

For anyone who has attended the Alt.Fiction events in the past and enjoyed Sarah Pinborough’s hilarious Raffles, this raffle did not disappoint. Teemed with Lee Harris from Angry Robot, Sarah delivered the winning tickets to attendees in her own inimitable style. It was not to be missed!

Next Year?

Yes, at least I hope so! Organised by the always reliable Alex Davis, Edge-Lit, to be honest, knocked spots of this year’s Alt.Fiction.

It was a packed programme, a great chance to meet fellow readers and writers and an absolute blast. See you there next year. With bells on!

Theresa Derwin

Last Days

July 18, 2012 - 5:16 pm No Comments

Last Days
Author: Adam Nevill
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Page count/Size: 531pp
Release date: 24th May 2012
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin

Guerrilla film maker Kyle and his best friend Dan are hired by rich eccentric Max Solomon to make a documentary film about a religious cult the ‘Last Days’. The excitement as Kyle and Dan get his first piece of real work is palpable, particularly as they are getting an advance of £100,000. Their initial scepticism (they are derisive of their first interviewee Sister Isis) seems natural. After all, they have been sent to London to an abandoned house to interview the peculiar old woman who could be an embarrassment for their film. However, the story Sister Isis (Susan White) starts to tell, is compelling. Like a car crash, they know it will be bad but they want to know more, no matter how horrific it is. And things get worse when they return to the house later on the first night of filming and they are disturbed by strange noises and sights deep within the bowels of the house.

The film makers’ journey takes them from the house in London, once the temple for religious cult leader/religious despot Sister Katherine, to the cult’s base at a farm in France, then the base in the USA. With contemporary references throughout, the novel feels authentic and grounded in reality through Kyle’s point-of-view, despite the supernatural elements of the events occurring.

Nevill’s natural story-telling voice grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go. It is permeated with a giddy, scary atmosphere.

If I haven’t yet convinced you to read this book, then let’s get down to brass tacks – reading this novel on my own with the lights on full, it still scared the s*** out of me. It crept me up like no other book has to date; every sound making me jump, spidery fingers crawling down my spine.

If you want to know what fear is really like, then read Adam Nevill.

Shock and Gore 2012

July 9, 2012 - 6:16 pm No Comments







Starting Friday 6th July 2012 and running all weekend with events up to Thursday 12th July, the 2012 Shock and Gore festival organised by the bods at the Electric Cinema, Birmingham, kicked off with a showing of Theatre of Blood starring Vincent Price (1973).

I attended a number of the events at the festival last weekend, and the Electric Cinema had put a lot of effort into making the festival fun and atmospheric, with Halloween-esque decoration throughout the cinema and staff behind the bar dressed in blood drenched garb.








I started my Saturday evening with the Birminghampremier of the film Inbred with a Directors Q & A. Alex Chandon’s new film, which will be released officially in October, was a masterpiece of horror comedy.

Four young urban offenders and their care workers embark on a community service weekend in the remote Yorkshirevillageof Mortlake, which prides on keeping itself to itself. Visiting the local pub, they quickly realise they’ve made the wrong holiday choice, a minor incident with some local inbred youths rapidly escalating into a blood-soaked, deliriously warped nightmare for all involved. You can view the trailer at Inbred Trailer Official HD 2012 – YouTube.

The young cast is remarkable, whilst the actors playing the ‘inbreds’ are hilariously OTT. This is a film well worth watching.

Following the film viewing, director Alex Chandon took part in a Q&A (he was interviewed by Electric owner Tom Lawes) giving viewers the chance to ask him questions about his film making career.

Chandon first had the idea eleven years ago creating a treatment, which was originally quite ambitious. Not all of the imagery managed to make it into the final product, though Chandon was particularly pleased to see the decapitation scene included.

In his 1997 film Pervirella, a certain Jonathon Ross, who had a small cameo in the movie, described the Director, Chandon, as “a strange, wild hairy bloke gesticulating a lot.” That description seems to summarise Chandon quite aptly. He certainly came across as passionate and lively during his Q&A, as he talked about Cradle of Fear and other projects, the use of red camera, low budget film making and his post production work.

Watching Inbred, I had to wonder how American audiences would react to such a thoroughly British film. Would they get the jokes?

According to Chandon, Inbred was actually sold to our American cousins last week and although the accents may be a bit of a challenge to them, they “pi***d themselves laughing” at this gem of a movie. Germany was apparently the hardest sell. In fact, the blending of horror and comedy was discussed as Chandon shared an anecdote about a showing of Bad Lieutenant where only himself and a friend laughed out loud at a particular scene with Harvey Keitel, and director Abel Ferrara wanted to know why no-one was laughing. It seems only Chandon and co got the joke.


OMG! Paddy Dingle . . . with a Chainsaw!


Talking about the script, 80% of it was written brilliantly by Chandon with some neat suggestions by Jo Hartley, who “gave me loads of advice about letting people embellish dialogue”. Room was left for improvisation, especially in the delivery of performances. Whilst the kids and care workers were encouraged to play it straight, the ‘inbreds’ played magnificently by actors including Dominic Brunt (Paddy Dingle from Emmerdale) were told to go as OTT as they liked, to really ham it up big style, which I can assure you they did. And it worked wonderfully! The film was inspired by the likes of League of Gentleman, Deliverance and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. In fact, it really is like Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a dose of Shaun of the Dead all set in an English,Yorkshire village.

So what actually scares Chandon? Films such as Session 9 and Jacob’s Ladder are up there with Exorcist and Jaws. And Chandon really wants to do something scary next, but his humour keeps breaking through.

Is Chandon happy with the final product? Quoting another famous director, he says “a Director never finishes a film, he just gives it up.” But with Inbred, Chandon is about as pleased as he can be, which is 99% of what he imagined. There will always be some mistakes, which no-one really notices, but the director always will.

As far as this writer is concerned, 99% happy with the film should be enough for Chandon, because truth be told, it’s destined to be an effing cult classic!

The Awards


Nicolas Cage, yes the Nicolas Cage took centre stage at the close of Saturday night. Don’t get me wrong, he didn’t come to Brum, but he did have a place of honour as the Shock and Gore awards included awards such as the ‘Nicolas Cage award for worst film 2012’ and the ‘Nicolas cage award for taking the pay cheque’. Yet the best part of the awards and subsequent showing of films, was the winner of the short film award. This was French flick Baby-Sitting, which was a sublime piece of horror.

Other events taking place were the late night showing of The Evil Dead or the chance to see mad magician Dr Gore in action, both of which were spectacular fun.










This Is Horror


Sunday evening kicked off in style with an evening of horror writers presented by Jasper Bark and This is Horror. Featured guest writers doing readings include David Moody, Sam Stone and John L Probert. According to host Jasper Bark, the reading went really well with a “very dramatic and vivacious performance from John L Probert, a very glamorous turn from Sam Stone and an understated, but nonetheless really gripping reading from David Moody. All three authors gave very considered and intelligent answers to the questions I posed, both individually when I interviewed each of them after their reading, and then again when we ended with a group discussion of horror in general.”

This was followed by Moody introducing Tod Browning’s classic film Freaks, and the re-showing of the 1991 episode of Ghostwatch.

Bark, who caught the Ghostwatch event said it “was terrifying and Stephen Volk’s Q&A afterwards was highly illuminating. Especially as he told us that it was the only programme to be mentioned in the British Medical Journal for causing Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome in children. Many of those children were now adult members of the audience.”


All in all, this was a great festival and there is still more to cpme, s it finishes Thursday with a horror quiz. Be sure to get in there quick and book some tickets!

Theresa Derwin