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Portraits of director David Cronenberg taken by his daughter - 2014.

Long live the new flesh.

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Seems like two minutes ago, not 18 years, since I sat in a dark theatre and listen to Renton give his speech that became the mantra of the year. Time flies, things change, but those words still ring true.

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Joe Hill’s novel is one of the best horror-thrillers of the last decade. Director Alexandra Aja can bring the style and the splatter, and Daniel Radcliffe can bring the acting chops. I love this poster. If you want to see a story about a young kid who wakes up one morning with horns growing out of his head and then sets about trying to prove his innocence for a rape/murder he didn’t commit, this is for you. Better still, read the book - it’s a masterpiece.

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Whatever happened to double-bills? I guess they went south about the same time that multiplexes started to appear. Shame. More often that not the ‘B’ feature would be better than the ‘A’, particularly if you were a genre fan. Did you know THE WICKER MAN and DON’T LOOK NOW were released as double? Imagine walking in out of the rain on a cold, dreary winter night in central London in 1973 and subjecting your psyche to that? Your life would never be the same; in the best way.

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American poster for Ben Wheatley’s outstanding SIGHTSEERS. I love the subtle stuff going on here (the changed words on the jackets) and the tiny glimpse of the all-important caravan in the bottom right corner. Wheatley is probably the best director working out of the UK at the moment; he has a rare ability to combine everyday situations with sinister overtones, to bring out the blackest of humour from horrible incidents. SIGHTSEERS is funny, poignant and, at times, mind-blowing. It also contains the very best use of a Frankie Goes To Hollywood song you will ever see in a film.

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Rare moment of calm amongst the riffola that was Physical Graffiti. Beautiful fingerpicking by Jimmy Page, opening tuning and droning harmonics. Also, the song my wife walked down the aisle to at our wedding. So yes, I like it.

Source: Spotify
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I first encounted Alexander the Goat Demon in my bathroom when I was little more than eight years old. Truthfully I don’t remember being frightened, but looking back on it, I suppose I should have been terrified; Alexander was truly a fearsome and horrific creature, with horns and claws and scars and red eyes that shone like the tail-lights on a car in the dark. But when you’re a young kid, you don’t fear the unknown. You’re not scared of climbing trees over water, because the possibility of the branch breaking and you falling into the black depths to drown doesn’t occur. You’re not scared of running into the street to catch an escaping ball, because not once do you consider that a speeding car won’t stop before metal connects with body. The fears of an adult mind gained through experience don’t cloud those of a child. As such, when I looked up from where I was brushing my teeth one morning and saw Alexander the Goat Demon floating in the still air, I wasn’t frightened. I was curious. 

I spat foam into the basin and ran water across my gums. “Who are you?” I said.

The noise that Alexander made wasn’t anything like I’d heard before. In later years, upon investigation, it wasn’t anything that anyone had ever heard. It sounded like a swarm of bees caught in a metal container.

But somehow, I could understand it.

I shook my head. “No, not really. I don’t really do anything.”

Alexander stretched his neck and I watched scales tear and bits of black flesh fall upon the bathroom tiles while his buzzing rattle of a voice echoed into my skull. I knew my Mother would be mad if she saw that mess, and I said so. Alexander explained that she wouldn’t, that she couldn’t see it. Only I could see him, and what he did was for my eyes only.

“You mean you’re not real?” I said.

At that Alexander came very close to me, so close that I could see the cracks in the lights of his eyes, could see pools of liquid fire that lay inside them. His breath was sour, and made me cough a little. He asked me, and I had to agree that yes, he did seem very real. Alexander then made me an offer, and just like I had seen my Dad do, we shook hands in agreement. Well, I used my hand. Alexander had a twisted claw of hard bone, the colour and texture of tree bark. But it worked well enough.

And that was how it came to be that Alexander and I became companions. That day he came with me to school, and when Billy Pritchard trapped me by the outside stairwell and started to call me by the usual names, started to poke me in the neck with his thick fingers, I didn’t cower into a corner and take it, as I always did. I looked at Alexander, who was floating behind Billy’s shoulder with blazing eyes and a drooling snarl, and upon his encouragement I hit Billy in the mouth as hard as I could. Billy let out a cry of pain and surprise as he crashed to the floor, his lip a smear of crimson red, and I rubbed my knuckles and looked at his friends. The look in their eyes told me that I wasn’t going to get poked and called names anymore, and from the way they left Billy on the ground I knew he wasn’t going to bully me or other kids in the future. I walked across the yard and Alexander walked with me, his feet crunching great holes into the grey concrete.

That night in my room we talked about many things. I told Alexander the films that I liked and showed him my Star Wars figures, and he told me about far away places with names like Peru and Malaysia, places I’d only heard about on the TV, and about the adventures he’d had there with other people, young and old. Alexander seemed to be able to read my mind. If anyone else had asked me about my deep love for Hayley Armitage I would have blushed as red as Billy’s broken mouth and run away, but it was easy to tell Alexander. I’d loved her for a year and she never even saw me or knew who I was. Her hair was like honey lit by rays of sunlight, her skin as pale and smooth as milk. I knew the location of every freckle that dotted her tiny nose. In the past I would never have had the courage to tell her, but with Alexander’s help and encouragement it was easy. Whenever I felt the words drying up he was there with a whisper to let me know just the right thing to say. Hayley was the first girl I ever kissed, the girl I lost my virginity with, and my first real girlfriend. She was also the last person that I killed.

Alexander drifted in and out when I needed him. Teenage years were tough, with it’s usual mixture of puberty, social failings, anxiety, loneliness and (in my case) manic depression. But often when times were toughest I had my strange, demonic friend to help me. Standing next to the desk during exams, or throttling the instructor on my driving test until his eyes bulged and veins throbbed so he didn’t notice my lack of signalling skills, or holding a young punk kid down on the ground behind a bar while I kicked him in the head and back until he passed out, Alexander dragging me away while the punk’s cheap hair dye mixed with the rain and blood on the wet gutter. It was always Alexander that got me out of trouble. As years passed various people told me that I always got myself into trouble. But I couldn’t see how that was true. Of course, they didn’t know about the Goat Demon.

After incidents that involved Alexander I nearly always blacked out, and when I came around generally I was in the womb-like cocoon of my own bed, or more often than not in hospital; bare white walls and the buzz of machines around me while I rattled the bonds that held my wrists and ankles secure. Nurses would wipe, doctors would talk, needles would slide. I would sit in offices on comfortable chairs while highly paid people in shirts and ties asked me for my opinion on this and that, gave me the Rorschach test, asked me to look into the flashing light until I slept. Eventually I was let go, when it was obvious that there was very little wrong with me apart from the trials and tribulations everybody goes through. My mother and father worried about me constantly, and although Dad wouldn’t say much Mum spent hours sitting with me. It helped, and one afternoon shortly after my twenty-first birthday I broke down, hot tears streaming down my face and my chest jerking with sobs, and as Mum cried with me and wrapped her thin arm around my back I started to tell her about Alexander. When I said his name there was a scream in the air and the metallic buzzing, and the Demon was in the room, a claw against my Mother’s throat, telling me he would slice her open if I said another word. He hissed in my face to be silent, thick spittle flying from his gaping wound of a mouth and dotting my skin, and I went silent, the tears and agony drying up almost as quickly as my words. Following that Mum often asked me who Alexander was. I never told her. After a while she didn’t ask, and eventually we stopped talking all together.

Every morning I took nine different pills which, according to those in the know, were supposed to make me feel more balanced. Balanced was their word, not mine. I understood exactly where my place was in the world; an intelligent hardworking man with very little tolerance for other people, a disdain for modern technology and media, and a demonic friend who offered advice. My family saw it differently, and they constantly enquired after my health, my temper, even my whereabouts. I liked to get away, walk in the hills throughout the night, and watch the stars merge into kaleidoscopic patterns, see the spaceships fly in over the horizon, and listen to the angels calling my name. Alexander wasn’t always there, but occasionally he would join me. One night, as I sat on a hill overlooking my kingdom, I smelt his arrival. 

‘I haven’t seen you in a long while,’ I said. ‘I thought you had forgotten me.’

The Goat Demon told me that he would always be close by. His hot lump of bony hand touched my hair, and it was as comforting as ever. Despite his touch, I started to cry. ‘What’s my purpose, Alexander?’ I said. ‘You always said I would know. I still don’t’

Alexander buzzed and crackled and snarled, his words filling my brain, and after a few minutes we walked together down the wet grass of the hill into a valley, through a small copse of trees, and emerged next to a thinly flowing stream that glittered in the moonlight. Two owls exchanged hooting calls, perhaps of love, and a fox barked in the distance. On the far bank there was a large tree, tall and twisted with age and weather, and set into the trunk was a door. I frowned, and watched Alexander float across the stream, flesh dropping into water, and he pushed the door open to reveal a crescent of white light, harsh against my night-vision eyes. I waded across the stream, stood wet and cold before the lit doorway, and Alexander told me that in the light was my purpose. 

‘It’s a door in a tree,’ I said quietly. ‘How can it be?’

Alexander’s response hurt my eardrums; he never liked it when I questioned him, and I was reminded yet again that he was the guiding force in my life. He told me to go inside and I obeyed, raising my hand as a shield against the light. I was aware of a corridor, and I took careful steps. I could hear the breath of the Demon behind me. After perhaps a minute the light began to dim, to fade, and walls and features came into view. A toilet, a bathtub, a shelf filled with soaps and flannels. A little boy wearing striped pyjama trousers and a white vest leaning over a basin moving a brush back and forth across milk teeth. I looked into Alexander’s fearsome, disgusting eyes and he nodded to me, swept his deformed limb forward in a gesture befitting a master of ceremonies. The child wiped his face on a towel and walked out of the room, and we followed, crossing the hallway into the same bedroom that I had occupied twenty years previously. My toys, my books, the posters that I had carefully tacked to the walls; all were as I remembered them. I felt a sharp pain in my chest that can only have been an aching in my heart as I watched the memory of the child that had grown into me, sweet and innocent and unspoilt by the badness that life had offered. There was a lighting flash followed by a peel of thunder, and the room changed. Day became night, the toys were cleared away, and there I was lying in bed, blankets pulled up to my chin, lost in dreams among the gloom. 

The door opened, and the ache for lost youth suddenly became one of fear. I knew what I was about to see and I turned away, clamped my hand across my mouth so I wouldn’t be heard, but Alexander placed his hands one either side of my face and twisted my head back into the room. I couldn’t close my eyes. Alexander held me tightly, and for the few minutes that followed I saw what I had always known. My tears, hot and salty, ran down my face, across my lips, and they sizzled where they touched Alexander, like scalding lava dipping into the ocean. The man, a dark figure, so familiar and yet so alien, sat on the bed. Covers were removed. Clothing followed. Large hands touched my young skin. Terrible things started to happen. My young eyes were open, staring at the ceiling, vacant. My adult throat was raw as I screamed at what I saw, but of course I wasn’t heard, because this was memory, a vision of my past that Alexander had revealed to me. Why he had let it happen now I didn’t know. Perhaps my mind was ready to deal with it. Or maybe it was broken enough. Whatever. All I knew was that, as the bedding was rearranged and a gentle kiss was placed on my forehead, I owed my childhood an act of vengeance. My purpose was clear.

A little over two weeks later Alexander the Goat Demon and I were using an iron bar to jam the lock of a door. A hard, cold rain chilled my skin and ran under the collar of my leather jacket, and the water bounced of Alexander’s scales and scars, dripped from the points of his horns. We walked quickly and quietly through the kitchen, leaving muddy bootprints and hoof prints, up the stairs past the many framed family photographs, and down the hallway to the door at the far end. Neither of us needed light; we had walked these floors many, many times before. Inside the room there was a faint odor of face cream, cheap cologne, stomach gas. I hesitated for a moment, but as always Alexander was there with reassuring words and gentle guidance. He had an answer for everything. I looked once more into his eyes and this time saw myself staring back. The buzzing filled my head, and when I blinked to clear my vision and my thoughts the Demon had disappeared. I raised the shotgun and placed the dual barrels against the thin chest of my Father, his skin pasty and littered with patches of grey hair. He opened his eyes and looked at me without fear or anger. It wasn’t an expression I had ever seen before, but if I had to give it a label I would probably call it acceptance. I told him that I loved him, and I pulled the triggers. The bedroom lit up with a burst of light and sparks and a roar of sound, and most of my Father blew away in an explosion of crimson. I dropped the gun and turned, and as I walked down the stairs of my childhood home I heard screaming from my Mother as Alexander took care of her, screams turning to frenzied gasps as he choked the life from her frail body. 

I had hoped that was the end of it. I’d been given a life, and I’d lived it as well as possible, and my purpose in that life had been revealed I had dealt with it as quickly and smoothly as I could. I stopped taking the medication and ran, moving across the land and into the heart of the countryside, sleeping beneath the clouds and the stars, letting the elements batter my body and my consciousness in whatever way they saw fit. When I was hungry I ate, when I was tired I slept. It was a simple and deeply fulfilling way to be. The sun and air was now my drug of choice.

And what of Alexander? Following the murder of my parents I rarely saw him again, although I thought of him with fondness often. He had helped mould me into the man I eventually became, and for that I was always grateful. Of course, on the occasions that I did see him we inevitably found ourselves deep in some new form of mischief. Alexander always gave me the confidence to achieve what need

ed to be done. But those are other stories, other lifetimes. 

Other incidents happened, and they were always bad.

Because, sadly, once a person is truly, irrevocably damaged, they stay damaged forever. That’s not purpose. It’s destiny.

(c) Rich Wilson - 2014

(For Neil Gaiman, Warren Ellis, Reece Shearsmith & Steve Pemberton, who continue to inspire.)

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whiskey-wolf:

Endless sword fight (http://animatorsteve.weebly.com/)
this is wayyyy too cool
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If you don’t think Christopher Nolan is one of the top three directors working right now, you don’t really understand film. 

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Press Release - April 29th, Pinewood Studios, UK - Writer/Director/Producer J.J Abrams (top center right) at the cast read-through of Star Wars Episode VII at Pinewood Studios with (clockwise from right) Harrison Ford, Daisy Ridley, Carrie Fisher, Peter Mayhew, Producer Bryan Burk, Lucasfilm President and Producer Kathleen Kennedy, Domhnall Gleeson, Anthony Daniels, Mark Hamill, Andy Serkis, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Adam Driver and Writer Lawrence Kasdan. Copyright and Photo Credit: David James.

Holy Shit. It’s actually happening.