Between 1844 and 2013, HMP Reading was the involuntary home for thousands of people who had caused offence to the state. From its original aim as a new model prison, with design features considered progressive for the time, the building changed, grew and mutated. Over the decades it became shabby, gradually less fit for purpose. Finally, after service as a young offenders lock-up, it was closed three years ago.
And that would have been the end for this unlovely, haunted building, if not for the fact that it is world-famous under its original name. Or rather, because of one particular inmate. Between 1895 and 1897 Prisoner C.3.3 suffered, wrote movingly of his torments, and immortalised the building whose walls enclosed him.
We know the man as Oscar Wilde, and the building as Reading Gaol.
Onwards with Spooky SFF month, as we discuss a massively influential slice of hauntological freakiness: Nigel Kneale’s terrifying The Stone Tape.
It ticks all the boxes: 70s setting, shot on video, Radiophonic Workshop soundtrack. A sharply empathetic performance from Jane Asher helps to elevate this story, but the whole thing is deeply unnerving and still bloody scary.
This is what happens when you try to solve the science behind hauntings…
Includes the first instance of a new term from Rob: cathode-punk.
GUYSGUYSGUYS! The Stone Tape is on Cosmic VideyouTube! Dim the lights, pour yourself a scotch and indulge.
We continue Spooky SFF month with the bizarre gore-drenched fantasy-horror The Sword And The Sorcerer.
It’s a formative experience for both our futurenauts for various reasons (including a parental ban from Clive’s mum and dad). Master of exploitation Albert Pyun’s first movie, it features changes in tone rapid and extreme enough to give you whiplash. From swashbuckling to sadism, this movie has it all!
It’s October, which means Curiosity is skewing spooky. This month our over-excitable alien chum is feeding Rob and Clive titles with an extra layer of creepyplasma.
We start with Tobe Hooper’s Lifeforce–a deranged slice of Quatermass-style oddness with added nudity, exploding corpses and weapons-grade scenery-chewing. This one has to be seen to be believed, and even then you won’t believe what you’re seeing.
No, we’re not talking about the 70s Michael York/Jenny Agutter film. Rather, we’re taking a look at the source material–the William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson novel. An entirely different, much darker but much more cinematic prospect. Which is frankly a lot more fun!
We believe the time is right to reconsider this cracking, pulpy take on a society that has shrugged off its humanity in favour of youth. Who needs another movie?
What would survival in a post-oil society be like? As life slips back into an agrarian, hard-scrabble existence, how can we find meaning or even happiness? How much do we have to lose before we lose our essential humanity?
Stephen Fingleton’s cult psychodrama The Survivalist takes on these questions and weaves a taut story of uneasy trust and betrayal from the tangled threads. A film to admire, and one that gives you a lot to think about…
For a more informed take on the film, check out director Stephen Fingleton in conversation with Stuart Wright on the excellent Britflicks podcast…
A parable on the sacrifices even the most utopian societies have to make. Does Ursula LeGuin’s acclaimed story dig into a deeper truth…or is it simply stating the obvious? Worse, is it suggesting that the best we can do when faced with atrocity is walk away? Rob and Clive try to unpick this most knotty of threads, only to find themselves more deeply tangled than before…