Saturday, 31 May 2014

The Fairy Flag (Am Bratach Sìth) - A new Scottish Fantasy Film.

The Fairy Flag - this is proper Scottish history Mr Gibson.
Only yesterday I was talking rather excitedly to an acquaintance of mine about the subject of this very blog article, namely the starting of production of a  brand new Scottish feature film, The Fairy Flag, that promises clans and battles and mucho mystical wonderfulness.

Now as soon as I said the words 'Scottish, clans and film' I practically saw straight away the cogs in her head turning as she processed that information. I knew beyond all reasonable doubt what her response was going to be, as it was certainly going to be one of two possibilities. The first of which would include the word 'Braveheart' and the second would include the word 'Highlander'.

Now before I go any further, I will readily admit that both films for me are something of a guilty pleasure, particularly the second one ( I do have guilty pleasures, but that is an ongoing matter for my legal team). The simple fact is, no matter how much I have tried, I have an unrelenting liking and and affection for Highlander (1886) and to a lesser extent, Braveheart (1995). I say 'no matter how much I have tried' because over the years I have tried desperately to discard them on the basis of the damage that they have done (particularly by Mr Gibson's film) in creating a skewed view towards Scotland's heritage and the portrayal of the Scots and the English. FYI, I'm half Scottish and half English, so old Mel has pissed me off on both counts.

This not the time and place to go into the plethora of issues that I have with both films and the consequent damage and mis-understanding of Scotland's history that they have caused, not just from the viewpoint of the rest of the world, but from some Scots too. I mean, I could mention the catastrophic number of historical inaccuracies and one dimensional Scottish and English stereotypes contained in Braveheart for a start. I don't know, but maybe I'm being picky when I was expecting the movie to show William Wallace's victory over the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge to actually include, well, a bridge. The list of historical bastardisations could go on and on and on.........and on.

As for my beloved Highlander - well I really do need one day to get past the little issue of a Scotsman playing an Egyptian, who is existing as a Spaniard, after spending many many years in Japan (with a crap accent), a Frenchman playing a Scotsman (with a crappier accent), an English woman playing his Scottish wife (with an equally crap accent) and an American playing a Russian (yes, still a crap accent).

What these two films have done almost single handedly is to provide a quaint and completely unrealistic view of the country, its rich history and its people. They may be entertaining movies in their way, but boy have they done their best to ruin our historical legacy.

Oh by the way, I was completely correct - the first sentence she muttered about Scottish films was bloody Braveheart.

So you can imaging my delight when a friend of mine -  the talented and gorgeous Jennifer Cooper, told me that she had been recently made a production assistant on a brand new Scottish Fantasy film, The Fairy Flag, (Am Bratach Sìth in Gaelic). Maybe now we can start to redress the damage created by Mr Gibson et al?  Well read on because judging by the information contained in the press release and other nuggets of information that Ive managed to get my eager little hands on, this could be one hell of a special movie!


“The Fairy Flag (Am Bratach Sìth in Gaelic) now resides with the Clan Macleod on the Isle of Skye, Scotland within the island stronghold of Dunvegan Castle. The flag came to them when a mysterious maiden discovered on a battlefield entered their lives. What resulted was the stuff of legend! 

Iain Breac Macleod is the young leader of the Clan Macleod. He has fought and won countless battles against rival clans, but nothing could prepare him for his greatest challenge. An onslaught from a band of mercenary English soldiers led by the vicious Rafe,hell-bent on claiming Dunvegan Castle and the Isle of Skye as their own.

But something else stirs amongst the heather. A strange woman called Titania has wondered into the lives of the Macleod Clan and there are whispers of the supernatural echoing around the castle walls.

Iain must muster up all his courage if he is to survive not only on the battlefield, but also within his heart."



The Fairy Flag is a new Scottish feature film that centres on the mystical “Fairy Flag of Dunvegan Castle”. A treasured heirloom of the Clan Macleod, that legend has it, was gifted to the infant child of the clan chief, by his departing fairy lover. The flag came to be thought of as a beacon, able to summon the fairies to the Macleod Clan during their time of need.  There have been at least two instances documented in which the flag was used to call the fairies to the aid of the clan during battle. The Fairy Flag has resided at Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye, home to the Macleod family for 800 years, making it the oldest castle in Scotland to have been inherited by the same family throughout the years! A point that is still true to this day.

Chris Capaldi. 
Apparently he is good-looking
Based on an original story by Rory Mhorr Nicoll and Peter Columbia, and directed by DavidIzatt, The Fairy Flag is a film that will embrace Scottish history, and the wonderful myths and legends that come with it.  Rory Mhorr Nicoll and David Izatt are producing the film throughDavid’s company Zoghogg Entertainment Ltd, based in Dunfermline. 

Filming is to commence June 1st, and will take place largely around the Fife area, as well as on the Isle of Skye, with Balgonie Castle doubling up as Dunvegan Castle for internal shooting. The Fairy Flag features a vast team of talented individuals from all corners of the Scottish film industry, as well as accessing the talents of the Historic Saltire group.

Chris Capaldi and Jade Yourell take the lead roles of Iain Breac Macleod and Titania respectively. Jade was recently to be seen becoming, er, acquainted as it were with Josh Hartnett in Penny Dreadful. Chris and Jade are joined by a colourful cast from various film/TV/sports and comedy backgrounds...many of whom are also experienced swordsmen.  

Jade Yourell.
I know for a fact she's good looking.

The cast includes singer Michelle McManus, Commitments actor, and singer Dave Finnegan, Craig McGinlay, Michael Daviot, Tam Hetherton, Samantha Hindman, Amanda Marment, Maggie Macleod, Jim Sweeney, Clare Ross, Marcus Macleod, Richard Wake, Martin Haddow, Jane Cochrane, J. Scott Murray, Jim Leishman, James Robson, Kerry Lynn Hamilton and David Winter amongst others.

So there you have it - A genuine Scottish production of a Fantasy film promising oodles of mystical forces, sex, death, battles, strong male AND female characters. It's enough to make Mr Gibson want to return to ransacking Scottish and English history. The rumours that his new movie Culloden Braveheart: When Charlie kicked the English arses, is currently in pre-production and ready to be filmed in the Transvaal are yet to be confirmed.

You can find out more information, as well as keep up to date with the project, and everyone involved at the Official Facebook Page - https://www.facebook.com/thefairyflag .

The movie can also be found on Twitter - @FairyFlagMovie #FairyFlagMovie.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Quickie post - Austin Film Festival Horror and Sci-Fi Deadline Approachin​g

Just a brief blog post today to advise you that I was contacted by a representative of the Austin Film Festival asking me to pass on news of the final deadline for the Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition is this Saturday, May 31.

The festival's Horror and Sci-Fi categories may well be of interest to some of you out there (well it is interesting to me, so there). 

This year, both categories are sponsored by Darkwoods Productions which is run by Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption and The Walking Dead).  He and his Executive, Dana Ashmore, will be the primary judges and will meet with the winner in each category.  If you have any questions please contact Matt Dy, Screenplay Competition Director, at matt@austinfilmfestival.com.

THE AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL SAY THAT ITS NOT TOO LATE FOR ANY HORROR AND SCI-FI SCREENPLAY ENTRIES!

Frank Darabont
As one of the most industry recognised contests of its kind, AFF’s Screenplay Competition continues to encourage and advocate the work for new, talented writers. They are proud to include Frank Darabont’s Darkwoods Productions as the official sponsor of this year’s Horror and Sci-Fi Award categories.

The company will review the top scripts submitted in each category and will determine the Semifinalists and Finalists and the winner will be handpicked by Frank Darabont and Dana Ashmore his executive. If you have a Horror or Sci-Fi feature screenplay, don’t miss out on this opportunity to get recognised!
To repeat - The Final Deadline is for your submissions is  May 31st.

For more information and how to submit your script, please visit www.austinfilmfestival.com.

So if there any budding Sci-Fi and horror writers out there with a spare screenplay script lying about the house, then send it along to the Austin Film Festival and tell them that Stuey from the Fifth Dimension blog sent you :-).




Sunday, 25 May 2014

Red sleep: A web based Urban-Noir series featuring on JTS.TV

One evening, back in the distant days of my late teens, I was walking though town after a long Saturday night of booze and chasing after women. The fact that I was walking alone through on a Saturday night suggests that whilst there may have been plenty of booze, my friends and I may have struck out on the women front - an occurrence that sadly happened all too regularly as I recall.

Anyhoo, the reason for this walk down my teenage lane of memories is due to an idea for a story I had as I wandered through that busy Saturday night. You see, at the time I fancied myself as something of a prospective storyteller, a writer who would one day rival the likes of Philip K. Dick, Tolkien, Asimov and King as a bastion of literature, whether it it be science fiction, fantasy or horror genres, I was going to rule them all. One ring to bind them, as it were. As a consequence, my head was constantly awash with plots and themes for stories that I promised myself that I would write one day. If truth be told, most of the ideas I had were at best, derivative mishmashes, the others were frankly forgettable - and most of them have indeed been forgot along the rocky road of this bloggers life.

However, one story has stayed with me - in part due to the unique form that the idea took. As I was walking home and pondering on another night of missed opportunities I suddenly saw another man walking beside me in the street. He was very tall, of local origin and extremely well dressed, in fact he was almost military like in his demeanour. But the thing that struck me most was the look on his face, one of deep confusing dreamlike state that spoke of colossal mistakes that had been made in his life, both by and for him. I know what you're thinking, it was the alcohol talking for both him and me, but no, it was far more than that, there was something else. I immediately constructed a back story for this man with the haunted look on his face; He had been down on his luck, desperate for money and direction after being discharged from the army when he had been offered the chance to redeem himself and his career by the military authorities by testing some new secret weapon, or drug. After which, he would be given a new future - but things had gone wrong and he was lost, alone, confused and possibly in a great deal of danger. As he wandered away down another road, still lost in thought, I envisaged his future as one of intrigue and danger.

Now nothing more ever came from this quite frankly brilliant vision of mine, I never wrote it, in fact I'm pretty sure that I never even mentioned it to anyone else after i realised that it was a theme that had been done a number of times in film and literature and I simply didn't believe that I was capable of adding anything new to the concept.

So you can only imagine my delight when I was contacted by a representative of a new series, Red Sleep, which had recently premiered on a streaming website (JTS.TV) and dealt with some of the very themes that had wandered into my head all those years ago. I wanted immediately to see what they had done and if it worked. And did it? Well read on. 

Red Sleep tells the story of Clyde Harris, an escaped prison inmate who makes a deal with the U.S. military to take part in a year long drug experiment in exchange for his freedom. Sounds simple eh? Well no, because soon after taking on a new identity in Los Angeles, it seems that the deal Clyde made may have come at a personal cost far higher than he ever envisaged as the side effects from the drug and his chequered past catch up with him.

The web series is written, produced and directed by Andre Welsh. The rumours that he also swept the floors and made all the sandwiches have yet to be confirmed by me. Though what is certain after seeing the first three episodes is that Welsh and his team have crafted a richly textured series that will appeal to fans of thriller, suspense and add to that a distinct hint or two of science fiction and horror and you have another heap of the viewing market ready to enjoy a most wonderful series. 

Red Sleep certainly has something for everybody; a classic film-noir voice over from the excellent Ron Kaell and an utterly compelling central performance from Chioke Jelani Clanton as Clyde Harris. Not only that but it only also features the magnificent Don Stark who played Bob Pinciotti in That 70's show - what more could you want? I mean apart from an excellent supporting cast of people  who can actually act?

Well I suppose that you could also want the production to be well lit, photographed and directed - which it is. You could also want more than your fare share of drama, suspense and moments of claustrophobic tension as we see a story of multiple time lines slowly unfold before our eyes - we have that too. Oh, and Los Angeles simply has never looked better, or worse. I've seen the series called 'Urban-noir', and while I'll readily admit from not being the biggest fan of labels, I do love that particular one. 

There is also a thought provoking element to this series in the subject matter of medical experimentation. The USA (like many other countries) has an extensive history, dating back to my own countries' colonial past, of using some of it's prison population for experimental drug research and experimentation. Red Sleep deals with this issue and an ever still pertinent one, namely the selection of such trials in the main from a certain part of the prison population, namely African-American. The figures show that even taking into account the percentage breakdown of prison inmate backgrounds, the use of those from certain racial and social class backgrounds is disproportionally large. 

I love anything like this that aims to highlight certain issues without ever becoming preachy or over sincere in its message. Andre Welsh has produced something that will encourage us to ask questions about society's treatment of parts of its own populace whilst importantly not losing sight of the need to entertain an audience. 

We the viewers are as much in the dark as to what has happened to Clyde as the character is himself, and together we are being transported along the journey he is facing (and has faced) and the dangers and terror that still await him. I have been lucky to have seen a number of fine web series recently and can safely say that this is quite possibly the best that I have had the pleasure to view so far.

Have a look at the trailer below to get a feel of what I mean.





Red Sleep premiered earlier this month on JTS.TV. which is a subscription-based streaming website featuring a whole plethora of web series. JTS stands for Just The Story, in essence because the site brings ad-free versions of a wide range web series online, (often for the first time ever). There are a number of sci-fi and horror based series on its site, three of which immediately caught my eye; 
Continuum  - in which "A beautiful young woman awakens aboard an adrift space ship with no memory of who she is or how she got there and at the mercy of the ship’s mysterious computer."

Vampire Zombie Werewolf - " After partnering with a not-so-classic suburban couple, a webseries producer with a string of derivative, monster-themed successes learns that the deadly creatures of his imagination are real. And they love his work. He’ll have one night to help the couple climb the undead social ladder by dreaming up a new, vampire-inspiring webseries that doesn’t suck, or become the victim of his most rabid fans."

Finally, there is Asylum  - which "Follows a team of doctors as they diagnose and treat patients at a hospital for the criminally insane, and as we learn more about each of the doctors and the asylum itself, we will begin to unravel a mystery that uncovers forces at work more extraordinary than anyone could imagine."

There is a genuine feeling that we are now part of an ever exciting brave new world of entertainment sources that are taking us well and truly headlong into the 21st Century with the likes of Netflix, and now JTS.TV, the link for which can be found RIGHT HERE


Red Sleep Credits: 

Written and Directed by: Andre Welsh
Produced by: Andre Welsh
Co-Produced by: Mitch Costanza and Jeff Gadigan
Cinematography and Editing by: Andre Welsh


Red Sleep Cast:

Chioke Jelani Clanton – Clyde Harris
Ron Kaell – Calvin
Don Stark – Dr. George Reed
Jessica Sonneborn – Katrina Long
Phillip Jeanmarie – James
Tobias Mehler – Dr. Dan Black
Ahku – Darnell
Jo-Anne Krupa – Alexia
Ryan McCann – Jason Long
Jessica Roth – Claire Carson
Aaron Massey – Chip Connelly
Leanne Wilson – Elizabeth
Michael Coons – Jonathan Wright
Andre Matheiu – Crooked Cop
Phillip Jeanmarie – James
Shalonda Shaw – Corrine Johnson
Jenny Pellicer – Grace
Kyle Koromaldi – Anton
Mitch Costanza – Rich Flemming
Cheyenne Costanza – Artificial Flower Girl


For more information on Red Sleep and JTS.TV then follow the links below......

Red Sleep on JTS.tv:

Red Sleep trailer #1 on Vimeo:

Red Sleep trailer #2 on Vimeo:

Red Sleep tv series on Facebook:

Red Sleep on Twitter: @RedSleep_Series, @JTSTV

Red Sleep on IMDB:



UPDATE 30/05/14

After the original article was published I received a very nice message from one of the producers of Red Sleep, Mitch Constanza, who thanked me for the review I did about the web series. One of the consequences of our conversation was my agreeing to do some sort of podcast interview with him, and hopefully Andre in the near future. I ‘m doing this on the basis of two points: firstly, as I’ve already mentioned, the web series is excellent. Secondly, I just love the name, ‘Mitch Constanza’.
In the meantime, I decided to construct one of the now legendary Fifth Dimension ‘interviews’with Mitch.

Q) So provide us with a brief background to filming Red Sleep
(Mitch) Andre and I have been making films together for ten years. He wrote, shot, directed, and edited the entire series. He funded it out of pocket for a fraction of most web series's budgets. He shot it with mostly natural light and one boom operator as our crew.  We shot guerrilla style in the bay area (Oakland and near San Quentin Prison) for a few scenes and a ton in LA.

Q) Yes but that’s all well and good, but what proof do you have this ten years worth of experience?
(Mitch) This is a trailer link to mine and Andre's previous short film in case you want to check it out:http://vimeo.com/29652639
Don 'nice guy' Stark

Q) Well that put me in my place then didn’t it? Especially as it looks rather good......so. erm, talk to me about the wonderful Don Stark (who many will know from playing Bob Pinciotti sitcom That '70s Show)
(Mitch) We got Don Stark to play a dark character in that and he was so excited. He knew our script incredibly well and jumped right into our physical /violent scene. He upped my game as an actor for sure.  
Our collaboration was so strong that he was on board with Red Sleep the moment we asked him. I'm a huge fan of getting to work with actor's we've watched on TV and in movies and give them a chance to play opposite their type.

Q) Yeah but I bet he was a big-time prima donna, bossing you all around like some sort of prima donna type superstar?
(Mitch) He told us that while he loves comedy, he was so excited to get to go to a deeper and darker place for our projects because he didn't have the chance to in a long time.  He was frequently talking out the scenes and shooting ideas with Andre, the director/creator.  Don didn't just show up to deliver lines and there was no ego involved. When he came on set he was fired up to shoot some intense scenes and was a true collaborator. Of course in between scenes we laughed our asses off much of the time thanks to him.

Q) Darn it, Don Stark is a nice guy. There goes a Fifth Dimension blog scoop about him being a nightmare to work with. Bugger. So what else can you tell me?
(Mitch) Please let me know if you have any questions about the show. We're also available for podcasts... although I swear a lot so Andre can do more of the talking if need be.

Ron 'You looking at me?' Kaell

Q) A podcast sounds a pretty good idea - don't worry, I swear for Great Britain so it would be fine  - hey, maybe we could compare US and UK swear words?! :-)
(Mitch) We would LOVE to be on any UK podcasts. Let me know what I can do to help make it happen. My British father in law and I quote Ben Kingsley lines from "Sexy Beast" as terms of endearment all the time so it would be fun to be uncensored while promoting the show.
Jessica 'bloody gorgeous' Roth

Q) And to finish off – how are things going with publicising Red Sleep ( apart, that is, from the magnificent work that I’m doing ............)? 
(Mitch) Last week we were ranked 3rd on soaps.com for the best series of the week and we didn't even campaign for votes. We want to win so we're getting the word out now.  The actors we're nominating for the ballet this week are Ron Kaell and Jessica Roth. 
We realised what a huge opportunity we have to establish ourselves as contenders in the web series community and want to do whatever we can to get recognition for Andre and every body's hard word work.


Finally, I would like to say a genuine thank you to Mitch in taking the time to talk to me. All it leaves me to say to him is a message from Ben Kingsley.....

"Where there's a will - and there is a fucking will - there's a way - and there is a fucking way!"





Tuesday, 20 May 2014

I Killed The Devil: A Gothic horror web series

I'd like to to draw your attention in this short article to another new web series that I was contacted about this week - and it looks as if it could be another one to keep and eye on. 

I killed the Devil is a horror web series about a man searching for his wife's killer in the supernatural underworld of San Francisco. You know the sort of thing that I'm talking about - Boy meets girl, boy marries girl, boy loses girl to supernatural bad guy in San Francisco, boy then intends to kick the arse of aforementioned supernatural bad guy. We've all been there.

So who is this man and what is his story? Well the filmmakers have been cunningly clever in not divulging too much of a back- story, in fact, one of the few clues to the story is what I've been able to glean from the official website, which is;

"My name is Detective John Roth. I work homicide in San Francisco.

There is an order that only I can see. If I am open to it. If I am good enough. It comes to me in my dreams, my nightmares. Taunting me like a lost lover. 

But I will make this right. 

I will be with you again, my love.

Forever, in the darkness"


The opening episode introduces us to the the plight of the detective as he wakes from another nightmare soon after the death of his wife. He is soon thrust into a disturbing world of violent unreality and hallucigenic like sensations at the hands of supernatural montrosities as he desperately tries to find out who killed his wife, and why. It's safe to say that things don't start off too well for our hero. 

There is no dialogue at all in the episode, instead the viewer is hit with a series of violent and supernatural assaults of imagery and sound as we are transported around the fog-lined alleyways of San Francisco. 

Tony told me that the series has been inspired by the love and inspirations from such diverse origins such as Hammer Horror, David Lynch, Italian horror films (Bava, Argento), The Wicker Man (1973 version!), Kill List and Rosemary's Baby. To be honest, anyone who knows me knows that the best way to find my 'on-switch' is to simply say how much they love Hammer and The Wicker Man. Of course , anyone who knows me also knows that if Tony had said that the Nick Cage version of The Wicker Man had been his choice of preferred movie, then this piece would never have been written. 

These plethora of fabulous influences, even at this early stage of the series,  are clear to see and while it is still possibly too early to make a judgment based on just one episode, I very much liked what i have seen. I would certainly go as far as saying that I Killed the Devil is one of the more unique offerings that I have had the pleasure to see recently. The eight minutes or so of episode one certainly gives an 'Urban Gothic' feel to proceedings that perhaps only the likes of cities such San Francisco, New Orleans or London could really do. Even if Tony had not of mentioned the makers influences, it would have been pretty clear as to what they were - and that is not meant as a criticism, rather the contrary. It is an atmospheric, taught and occasionally poetic example of adult horror and promises good things to come.

The first episode can be seen below....



I Killed the Devil will be presented in 10 episodes of approximately 10 minutes each. The team plan on presenting a new episode every 2 months, finances allowing, and posting each episode on their website. The next episode is due out on May 27th.

So far so good then, but what about the people behind this work? Well, they are San Francisco based Tony Sommers and Dan R. Harris who have over 30 years of combined experience in the film industry and in turn have brought together a very talented cast and crew to make this happen. Dan has an MFA in film from UCLA and has directed several films. Tony is a member of SAG-AFTRA and has been acting for more than 20 years.


For more information on Actor/producer Tony, then visit his IMDB page at  http://m.imdb.com/name/nm1088593/



Writer and director Dan's IMDB page can be found at http://m.imdb.com/name/nm3669599/?ref_=m_tt_cl_t1


For more information on the cast, series and future episodes visit the official website at http://www.ikilledthedevil.com/


The Facebook page for I killed the Devil can be found by clicking on THIS LINK


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Thread or Dead : UK Based Horror Clothing To Die For & some further musings on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

I was sat at my iMac the other day, minding my own business and musing on whether I should start a new blog article, read an online newspaper or simply do what the rest of the world seems to do on and go out for a meal so I could take a photo of it to put on my Facebook status update. 

It so happens that my decision was made all the easier when I instead decided to check my emails. After sifting through the notifications that a very nice chap in Africa had died and left me his millions (all I had to do was respond with my banking details) and the numerous offers of Viagra to cure my 'condition' (just how the hell did they know about that?!) I noticed an email with the title Thread or Dead
I was more than a little Intrigued by the title and so decided to forget about the promise of millions of dollars and the use of those little blue pills, and continued to read on. The message had been sent by a chap going by the name of Dan Charnley, who had contacted me as a fellow horror obsessive to inform me of a particular venture that he is involved with. 

Thread or Dead, is an original UK based Horror design and T-shirt company and having just re launched the site, are trying to get as many people involved as they can, to get the word out.

I'll be honest, I was more than a little reticent at first. After all, one of my recent posts on my blog was also about a t-shirt design site. Did I want to do another? The answer quickly became yes after I chatted with Dan, and for a couple of reasons. Firstly, that Thread or Dead is a true UK based original designer t-shirt site. Secondly, that it was abundantly clear that Dan and his colleague Luke's personal and professional horror philosophy is very, very similar to my own. Essentially, I was initially advised that they had contacted me in order to get like minded individuals like myself (sweet talking silver tongued devil) to guest blog, so that they get lots of different thoughts and , of course, get the word out there about what they are doing. 

They not only have a passion for horror, but that passion isn't confined to the narrow limitations of popular cinema, as I'll briefly explain.

From what I can gather this has been something of a long-time project for Dan and Luke. Why did they choose horror as the theme for their work? Well, they both love the horror genre, from M R James to Hammer Horror to Evil Dead (Dan is a big italian horror and Luke apparently is a monster movie nut) etc. He told me that they are always comparing notes on movies and and the like and one time they became embroiled in a discussion about horror t-shirts and how the couldn't get hold of any really good ones in this country. All horror merchandise just seemed to be American or film posters or simply just overpriced. Then it dawned on them, to start up their own UK based original horror design T-shirt site. 
The Mission 13 shirt

They had already been working in print and design, (Dan has apparently been hocking his horror illustrations around conventions for a while) and so they decided to go with something that they love. The plan is to build a site with original designs based on their own ideas, film influenced stuff, book influenced etc. 

What I particularly love about their ethos is their notion that they believe that there is so much more to the genre than movies. The mistake that I believe many in this field make is to unashamedly pander to the movie masses, thus in turn omitting a vast untapped area of the genre. They plan to put short stories, a comic based on the Mission 13 shirt and get people involved from a wide area on their site and blog.

So essentially, thats why I'm here. 

I must admit to be rather interested in being given Cart-blanche by Dan to write on his blog page in whatever horror theme that took my fancy. After all, I don't need much encouragement to talk about myself and my horror interests. 

So what did I want to talk about for my first (& possibly last if Dan or Luke don't like this article) guest blog post? Well it seemed only right that I would have to talk about my favourite ever horror movie. The problem is that the title of my number one horror film of all time regularly alternates between two genuine classics; the first being the truly sublime The Wicker Man, of which I mean the original 1973 version, not the frankly reprehensible piece of tosh that was the Nicholas Cage monstrosity. The other movie that I would regard as my horror love of my life is actually the one I'll briefly talk about, if for no other reason that this year sees the 40th anniversary of its original release.

So ladies and gentlemen, I give you....

 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

Let's stop here, what's the worse that could happen?....
Picture the scene - it's the early 1980's in a small Yorkshire town in England. A young man who has more than a few dreams in his head, stars in his eyes, and a growing obsession with all things Science fiction and horror, hears something startling and wondrous on a national news bulletin. Namely, a that particular movie which had over the years gained a reputation of controversial and mythical proportions, arguably as no other has in the history of movies, was finally to be released on video. Amazingly, some 7 years after its initial production the seminal horror movie The Texas Chain Saw Massacre was finally going to see the light of day over here in the UK. 

Believe me, this was big news. Since its release in the UK in early 1975, thanks in part to the usual suspects within our sensationalist and hypocritical tabloid press, the opportunity to see the movie in cinema's had been withheld by the British Board of film classification. Those bastions (I said, bastions) for the protection of the nations viewing sensibilities, believed vehemently that the magnitude of violence, particularly in two noted scenes and the feeling of claustrophobic terror in the last 3rd of the film, was far too much for the sensibilities of a British audience. Therefore deeming that it was unsuitable for a BBFC X certificate to be issued. Ah bless the BBFC for protecting us from making up our own minds.

So it finally seemed in those dark and distant days of 1981 that the British Board of film classification had finally seen sense it seems and permitted the movie's release. However, this respite of finally seeing sense turned out to be very brief as the video was soon to be removed from the video stores after new video classification rules came in ('Thank you', Margaret Thatcher...).


Seems legit......
Indeed, as it transpired, no theatrical or video release was going to take place for another 18 years thanks to the backward and miss-placed 'protection' of the the public sensibilities by the continuing preaching of sections of the press and political community - bastards.

However, before it was unceremoniously pulled from the shelves, a lucky few of us had managed to get our hands on the film, and it's iconic horror bad-guy, by now had achieved cult status of his own fabled proportions. I had managed to get a copy of the movie from a friend of mine, a grainy 5th of 6th generation copy which meant that the visual quality was less than perfect in some middle parts. But it was MY copy. It may be a lifetime ago, but believe me, it is still difficult to communicate the level of excitement and anticipation that me and my young friends were experiencing as we sat huddled around a VCR on a chilly February evening. Not only were we giving two fingers up to the establishment, we were about to see a colossus of Horror cinema that even today, though it may have been copied a thousand times, still has yet to be surpassed.


I'm not going to give anything near a detailed synopsis of the plot as any self respecting horror devotee will be at least familiar with the rudimentary elements - the other two people in the world can watch it for themselves. However, to basically sum it up... Loosely based on the true crimes of Ed Gein, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre tells the story of Five teenage friends who are travelling across the State in order to pay a visit to their grandfather's grave after stories of vandalism and desecration have reached them. As they travel cross-country to the homestead they chance upon an old run-down property, where they are hunted and terrorised by a chain-saw wielding murderer and his not so lovable family of grave-robbing cannibals.

Just a man and his chainsaw hobby.....
Forget the basic storyline. Put aside opinions on the quite frankly ropey acting in a couple of roles (the cast taken mostly from Director Tobe Hooper's teaching friends and students). While you're at it, if you haven't ever seen the film (and where the hell have you been if you haven't?!), ignore the rather miss-placed and over sensationalised claims that you may have heard that the film is nothing more than thoughtless violence and nothing else. 

No, this is a movie that is much more than that as it takes you along with it on an adrenaline filled journey of barely suppressed terror. Indeed, there are times, particularly in the last act of the film when that the experience becomes more of a sensory and emotional overload - such is it's intense and unsettling power. There are scenes and images within this film that burn themselves onto your consciousness for a variety of reasons. Yes there are scenes of unyielding violence which will shock, even on repeated viewing, particularly from one of the true iconic horror characters, Leatherface.

The cinematography is frankly stunning, originally shot on poor quality 16mm film, this seems if anything to add to the overall atmospheric ambiance, partly in the external country scenes but particularly in the internal terror scenes that are at times genuinely suffocating in their claustrophobic intensity. 


Somebody won't be recommending this establishment
 on Holiday destinations.com
As I mentioned previously, it wasn't until 1999 that the BBFC realised that years of complete miss-interpretation of the movie had taken place. Contrary to popular misconception, there is no over-reliance on explicit violence in the movie (in fact there is a distinct lack of blood and gore throughout). Rather it is the often implied threat of violence and atmosphere that creates the power to shock and discomfort the viewer. 

I could also talk at length about Leatherface and his family's treatment of the teenagers being an evocation and allegory of America in the 1970's with such things as the Watergate scandal and Vietnam making it it quite clear that the modern world world was cruel and nothing like your childhood memories said it was. No one is safe, no-one can be trusted. The hippy peace loving days of the 1960's were long gone.  But I'll leave that sort of discussion for those far more qualified and able than I.

I could also talk about the less than successful remakes, with the most recent an attempt to turn Leatherface into some sort of Franchise leading character who we are meant to actually support and feel sorry for, thereby losing all the essential elements of this true classic original - but that is a rant for another time.

A version of this article appears on the bog section of the Thread or Dead Website at http://www.threadordead.co.uk

The Thread or Dead Facebook page can be found at https://www.facebook.com/threadordead?fref=ts


Luke and Dan will, over the coming months, be giving people chances to win exclusive t-shirts (except for mine, which you can see below - I’m not giving mine away!) There will also be the opportunity to pick up freebies and purchase exclusive limited edition Morgue Members only t-shirts.
Joining the Morgue is free and very easy. Just pop your details in the form on the Thread or Dead website to join their e-mail mailing list (don't worry, they wont sell on your details or e-mail you every hour to tell you what they’re doing...). Once signed up, you will begin to receive their weekly Morgue members e-mail which contains stacks of information about Thread or Dead, their offers and such along with other bits and bobs that horror nuts are going to love.
So... what are you waiting for? I’ve just gone and joined, myself.
Join the Thread or Dead Morgue!


IMPORTANT UPDATE!!






This morning I received a rather intriguing package from my distinctly attractive Post delivery lady person. 

Well I suppose that the Thread or Dead stickers that appear in the photo on the left may be something of a give-away. Another little clue may well be the overall floppy look to the plastic packaging, hmm, it's almost as if there may something of a clothing like garment in there? Possibly even a t-shirt perhaps?


Lets take a looksee shall we?.......















Well blow me down, it only seems to be one of the very samples of t-shirts as made by Luke and Dan from Thread or dead: Clothing to die for. Not only that, but included in my little delivery seems to be stickers, personal hand-drawn pictures and badges of all manner of horrifyingly good loveliness. 

It was all by way of thanks from the boys to thank me for doing my little bit (some would say very little, but hey, I've always said that size doesn't matter.........) in helping to get the word out on their fabulous clothing venture. I had previously been asked which particular t-shirt I would like to choose for my own, it will come as no surprise to those that know me that I immediately plumped for the Karloff Frankenstein monster variation - I'm nothing if predictable it seems. Well so what? Go with what you know and what you like sometimes isn't too much of a bad thing to do.





And do you know what? the pictures on here and elsewhere online simply do not do their work justice, because the shirt is gorgeous. I was going to post a picture of myself modelling the shirt - but I'm not quite sure the world is ready for that sort of thing.


So you will have to make do with my amateurish attempts at taking photos - but one is for sure, you have to admit that the shirt looks great!


Check out below the other captures I made of the goodies sent to me - now who says this blogging lark wouldn't pay?!







An original Dan Charnely  -  now safely packed away to make me
loads of money when he's rich & famous




I'm a sucker for stickers and badges