10 May 2018

THE MISKATONIC INSTITUTE OF HORROR STUDIES PRESENTS: NO SENSE MAKES SENSE: GURUS, CULTS, MURDER AND MOVIES at the Horse Hospital on May 17th. REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS.




THE MISKATONIC INSTITUTE OF HORROR STUDIES (LONDON) PRESENTS:
NO SENSE MAKES SENSE: GURUS, CULTS, MURDER AND MOVIES!
VENUE: THE HORSE HOSPITAL, MAY 17TH.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies - London Presents:
NO SENSE MAKES SENSE: GURUS, CULTS, MURDER AND MOVIES
at The Horse Hospital May 17th!

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is an international educational community through which established horror writers, directors, scholars and programmers/curators celebrate horror history and culture with a unique blend of enthusiasm and critical perspective. Taken from their website.

When I was a kid, I wanted to attend the School Of Performing Arts from the television series FAME, which was repeated on 't' telly a lot during my childhood. I can't sing, I can't dance and I certainly can't act or play an instrument like Bruno Martelli but, oh, how I wanted to go to that wonderful school!

I longed to attend Lydia Grant's uber-tough dance class ('Fame costs, and right here's where you start paying, in sweat...!') and then twirl and prance wildly on top of cars in the street outside the school, snapping my fingers at the taxi drivers who'd vociferously object to us damn fool kids pounding about like mental patients on the roofs of their cabs.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, because this was a school that existed only on TV, a fictional school, like Hogwarts. Just like Hogwarts, I could never really go there. If you too have ever brained yourself mightily trying to make it onto Platform Nine-And-Three-Quarters at King's Cross Station, you'll understand my pain.

Anyway, there's another school now- well, an Institute, which makes it much posher- that I can't attend either because it's in London and I live in Ireland and have responsibilities, lol. It's the marvellous Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies and they're now approaching the end of their summer semester, after a successful run of lectures held in a romantic-sounding place called the Horse Hospital. Is it really a 'Horse Hospital?' I haven't the foggiest idea.

How did the Institute get its rather quirky name, by the way? Get your laughing gear around this lot, then, you lot:

Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is an international organization that offers university-level history, theory and production-based masterclasses for people of all ages. The Miskatonic is a non-profit endeavour through which established horror writers, directors, scholars and programmers/curators celebrate horror history and culture with a unique blend of enthusiasm and critical perspective. Taken from their website.

Last month, the Institute held a lecture on the digital restoration of F.W. Murnau's silent horror classic, NOSFERATU (1922). The lecture was given by Mark Rance, a documentary film-maker who worked at the Criterion Collection before going off to form his own film production company in Los Angeles and turning out Blu-Rays and DVDs for the Hollywood studios. Aw, a bigshot, eh...? Lol.

Check out some of the films he's been involved in: THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, HARD EIGHT (AKA SYDNEY), BOOGIE NIGHTS,
MAGNOLIA, SEVEN, I, ROBOT, THE PRESTIGE, RESERVOIR DOGS and THE DARK KNIGHT. 

Gordon Bennett! Well, they don't let just anyone give talks at the Institute, you know. Have a squint at some of the peeps they do allow to work for them. It reads a bit like a Who's Who of horror and writing royalty:

David Flint. Neil Snowdon. David Pirie. Jeremy Dyson. Stephen Laws. Maura McHugh. Mark Morris. Lindsey Hallam. Mark Gatiss. Justin Harries. Jack Sergeant. David Kerekes. John Cussans. Catherine Lester. Daniel Bird. Jon Towlson. Jennifer Wallis. Marcelle Perks.

Amanda Reyes. Nag Vladermersky. Derek Johnston. Ian Cooper. Howard David Ingham. Stacey Abbott. Stephen Jones. (Check your bookshelves for horror anthologies. Chances are that Stephen Jones will have edited them.) Ramsey Campbell. Yes, the Ramsey Campbell! The aforementioned Mark Vance. Josh Saco. Kier-La Janisse. Virginie Selavy. Gavin Baddeley.

Jasper Sharp. Jim Harper. Jonathan Rigby. Mark Pilkington. Stephen Thrower. William Fowler. Stephen Volk. And, last but definitely not least, my favourite person on the list, film critic and acclaimed author Kim Newman, whom I once met (well, all right then, saw, whom I once saw!) when he was introducing the film QUATERMASS AND THE PIT at the Irish Film Institute during a Folk Horror Festival in 2016. If I hadn't really needed the toilet after the film, I might have gotten to meet him in person but them's the breaks.

Any-hoo, on the seventeenth of this merry month of May, the Institute will hold the final lecture of their summer semester in the aforementioned Horse Hospital. The title of the talk is NO SENSE MAKES SENSE: GURUS, CULTS, MURDER AND MOVIES and it intends to explore 'the sub-genre of films inspired by cults and alternative religions in California in the '60s and '70s.' Check out the promotional material:

'This class will examine the rise of alternative religious movements/cults in California in the 1960s and 70s which spawned an ongoing sub-genre of the horror film. The focus will be on the Manson Family, not only the most notorious of these groups but also the one with the greatest cultural impact. This is due to a number of factors including the nightmarish, random violence, the involvement of a number of high-profile artists and celebrities, from Roman Polanski and Dennis Wilson through to Dennis Hopper and Angela Lansbury and the dark glamor of Manson himself, quotable, photogenic and always willing to play up for the cameras.

The Family story has been reworked in a dizzying variety of contexts, from true crime mini-series (Helter Skelter [1976]) to Claymation satire (Like Freaky, Die Freaky [2006]) and even as hardcore porn (Manson XXX [2015]) while Charlie himself has been variously cast as revolutionary, white supremacist, Satanist and vampire. The Manson story contains a number of highly-exploitable elements, from sexual and chemical excess through to horrific and inexplicable violence and it can also be slanted in a variety of ways, a warning against false prophets, an indictment of the counter-culture, a slice of anti-drug propaganda or simply gruesome spectacle.

As well as a focus on the first wave of Mansonsploitation, low-budget independents such as The Other Side of Madness (1971) and Sweet Savior (1971), there will be a consideration of the Family references in an eclectic collection of films including the work of John Waters (Multiple Maniacs [1970] and Russ Meyer (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls [1970]), the British period gothic tradition (Blood on Satan´s Claw [1970]), no-budget labours of love such as Manson Family Movies (1984) and Jim Van Bebber´s The Manson Family (2003). This will lead on to an examination of other cults including The People´s Temple and the mass suicide at Jonestown, an event reworked as glossy TV mini-series (Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones [1980), low-budget exploitation (Guyana: Crime of the Century [1979]) and found-footage horror (The Sacrament [2013]).

There will also be a consideration of the renewed fascination with cults in the 21st century. The events of 9/11, like the Tate/LaBianca murders served as a reminder that terrifying violence can strike without warning and internet-inspired ´lone wolf`terror attacks have ensured that fears of brainwashing and mind control are again part of the zeitgeist. This fascination is reflected in films such as The Strangers (2008) and The Invitation (2015) and TV shows such as Aquarius (2015 – 16) and American Horror Story:Cult (2017).'

'About the Instructor:
Ian Cooper is an author and screenwriter. His books include Devil´s Advocates: Witchfinder General (Auteur 2011), Cultographies: Bring me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Wallflower Press 2012) and Frightmares: A History of British Horror (2016). He has also written for edited collections on subjects including early 70s vampire films and the cult appeal of Klaus Kinski. His books, Devil´s Advocates: Frenzy (Auteur) and Family Values: The Manson Family on Film and TV (McFarland) will be published in 2018. He also has a number of screenplays in various stages of development in the UK and US.'

I adore that nutty old Charlie Manson will feature heavily in the lecture. He made headlines in 1969 when members of his cult brutally murdered the eight-and-a-half-months pregnant actress Sharon Tate in the home she shared with her husband, movie director Roman Polanski. Students of the occult and of the Manson Family killings and their other dubious activities will doubtless be fascinated by this bit.

I really wish I could attend this lecture but, as I said, I'm in Ireland, lol. There's nothing stopping you English folks, however, from booking a ridiculously cheap ticket and popping along on the night for three hours of the bizarre, the gruesome and the downright ghoulish. Here are those all-important details and stay tuned to this blog for news of any developments:

The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – London - No Sense Makes Sense: Gurus, Cults, Murder and Movies

Date: May 17th 2018
Time: 7:00pm-10:00pm
Venue: The Horse Hospital
 Address: Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD
Prices: £10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concs (students/seniors with ID)




AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.

Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B015GDE5RO

You can contact Sandra at:


http://sandrafirstruleoffilmclubharris.wordpress.com






















No comments:

Post a comment