Wednesday March 12, 2014 9:00pm
The turn of the millennium saw many cultural and social changes. While “torture porn” emerged as a leading sub-genre in horror at the time, something much more sinister and twisted surfaced in France. Labelled “New French Extremity” by Art Forum critic James Quandt, these films were graphic and shocking, yet also strangely artful. They have gone on to inhabit their own subset of horror and changed the direction of new millennial horror. No longer were horror films cheap gory money grabs, they could be artistically expressive and delve into complicated philosophical discussions. These films directly challenged the whitewashed, tourist attraction images of France portrayed in such films as An American in Paris, Amelie and Before Sunset and delve into the deeper subconscious of a country that has known few times of peace or acceptance. By examining the cultural and artistic history of France including the Grand Guignol, the Theatre of Cruelty and riots which have dominated the political landscape of the last thirty years we will see how the trajectory of New French Extremity has pushed the boundaries of conformity, taste and horror . This lecture will examine all those influences on Irreversible (2002), Trouble Every Day (2001), High Tension (2003), Them (2006) and Martyrs (2008) among others.
Lecturer: Alexandra West
Alexandra West is a freelance horror journalist and playwright who lives, works and survives in Toronto. Her work has appeared in the Toronto Star, Rue Morgue and Post City Magazine. She is a regular contributor to Famous Monsters of Filmland and a columnist for Diabolique with “The Devil Made Us Watch It”. In December 2012, West co-founded the Faculty of Horror podcast with fellow writer Andrea Subissati which explores the analytical side of horror films and the darkest recesses of academia.
Wednesday April 9, 2014 9:00pm
In 1991, partygoers were treated to a screening of an odd film from Japan. One man was convinced he’d just witnessed a murder, and he phoned the authorities. That man was Charlie Sheen and the film was Flowers of Flesh and Blood. An FBI investigation led to a misdemeanour charge, and the filmmakers released a making-of detailing how they produced such realistic gore effects. Luckily for Charlie Sheen, society seems to have largely forgotten about his premature whistle blowing, but the notion of snuff persists despite the FBI’s claim that no such thing exists.
Since 1976, the idea of filmed murder for profit has outraged, disgusted, and fascinated audiences. Born from a sleazy marketing campaign, snuff provided traction for feminist and anti-pornography movements, and gave birth to one of our most enduring and contentious urban legends, one that’s transmitted by and through the media. This lecture will discuss the history of snuff movies, tracing its roots through earlier film and theatre genres. Beginning with Slaughter(1971, re-released as Snuff 1976), we will examine the use of snuff as a narrative device in such films as Hardcore(1979), Tesis (1996), 8mm (1999), and find its influence in later found footage and torture porn movies. Other films likely to be mentioned include Great American Snuff Film (2003), Hostel (2005), and The Butcher (2007).
Instructor: Rachel Katz
Rachel Katz writes the blog, Zombots!, and co-hosts TheAvod, a weekly genre podcast. Her work has appeared inParacinema magazine and she’s been a guest on the Natsukashi, Conversations in the Dark, and Horror Roundtable podcasts. Rachel has juried the Beneath the Earth Film Festival and loves telling people about that one time she walked into Liam Neeson
Wednesday May 14, 2014 9:00pm
From Satanists to Scientologists, from the Moonies to the Manson Family, our society’s collective fascination with the 21st century cult continues to swirl unabated. But how do the cinematic portrayals of cults measure up to the real thing? This lecture will examine depictions of cults in films both infamous (The Wicker Man) and lesser-known (Ticket to Heaven (1981), based on the book Moonwebs: Journey Into the Mind of a Cult) to see how they measure up against accounts from actual cults that existed in the 21st century. The presentation will examine how the use of cults and cult imagery in these films often served as a reflection or commentary on the wider moral, sexual and religious politics of North Americans at the time of their release. Aside from The Wicker Man and Ticket to Heaven, scenes will be referenced from films including Helter Skelter (the 1976 TV movie and the 2004 remake) and Race with the Devil (1975), which purportedly featured actual hippie Satanists playing themselves, as well as books including Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson and Tim Guest’s My Life in Orange, among others.
Instructor: Alison Lang
Cults have been an endless source of fascination for Alison since she first picked up a dog-eared copy of Helter Skelteroff her parent’s bookshelf at the tender age of 16 – the same age that fellow Torontonian and Manson Family member Ruth Ann Moorehouse was when she met Charlie Manson in 1967. An arts writer and editor in Halifax and Toronto, Alison is the Assistant Editor at Broken Pencil Magazine, the co-editor of Weird Canada’s Ephemera section and a regular contributor to Rue Morgue‘s books section. She’s also written for the Quill and Quire, Spinner, the Huffington Post, THIS Magazine and many others.
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