Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Offscreen 2017: Stephen Sayadian

I have just returned from Offscreen (Brussels) where I had the opportunity to speak with Stephen Sayadian about his career in film-making (Cafe Flesh, Dr Caligari, Nightdreams) and as Art Director for Hustler.

During the Q&A/Masterclass session with Stephen, I got the opportunity to ask him a question that I have been wondering about since 2004 (when I was researching about HIV, sex, and horror fiction in the early stages of my PhD...which ended up having nothing to do with HIV). Cafe Flesh is based within a post-apocalyptic landscape where half of the populace becomes deathly ill if they engage in sex. Given that the movie was shot in 1981/released in 1982, and (what would eventually become known as) AIDS was first clinically observed in 1981, I have always wondered whether Cafe Flesh was an immediate response to the medical context, or whether the film's language of 'sex positives', 'sex negatives', and sickness was coincidental. For anyone who is curious, Stephen confirmed that the former is the case. It was also interesting to hear Stephen refer to Cafe Flesh as 'anti-erotic'; I have always described it as one of the least titillating "porn" films I have seen (which is one of the reasons I was initially intrigued by it). Stephen told me that the film was originally supposed to depict a castration and was meant to end with Max being hanged. Those additions would have further augmented the horror embedded in the film's tone.  
I was also unaware that many of the images from Hustler magazine (particularly the parody adverts), which I have used countless times in lectures about porn, were created by Stephen. Given how thematically dark some of that material is, I am now considering writing a piece about the coalescence of sex and horror in his work. 
The Offscreen festival continues until 26th March. For more information, please visit http://www.offscreen.be/en/offscreen-film-festival-2017

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Call for Presentations: Researching Horror, Cult and Exploitation Cinema

Call for Presentations:

Researching Horror, Cult and Exploitation Cinema

A Workshop for PhD Students and Early Career Researchers

Friday 5 May 2017, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne

PhD students and Early Career Researchers working in the field(s) of “horror, cult and exploitation cinema” are invited to submit abstracts about their research to deliver at a workshop at Northumbria University on Friday 5 May 2017. The workshop will take the format of a mini-symposium and consist of three sessions, each made up of three speakers. Speakers will each deliver a 5-10 minute talk about their research to their peers and to a panel of academic experts from Northumbria’s Film and Television Research Group, providing a short introduction to their current project and identifying several questions for discussion. After each presentation, there will be an opportunity for the academic panel and other workshop participants to feedback to each speaker, and to ask follow-up questions.

The workshop is intended to be a small scale networking opportunity for scholars with shared research interests, and to provide a relatively informal, and supportive, opportunity for those newer to academia to engage in dialogue with more established researchers.

The event will close with a short presentation from Gillian Leslie <https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/books/subjects/film-studies> , the Commissioning Editor for Film Studies at Edinburgh University Press, who will give advice about academic publishing (including converting PhD theses into monographs).

The academic panel will comprise:

·         Professor Peter Hutchings (Professor of Film Studies, author of The Horror Film and The Historical Dictionary of Horror Cinema)

·         Dr Russ Hunter (Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, co-editor of Italian Horror Cinema, author of A History of European Horror Cinema)

·         Dr Steve Jones (Senior Lecturer in Media, author of Torture Porn: Popular Horror After Saw, co-editor of Zombies and Sexuality)

·         Dr James Leggott (Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, author of Contemporary British Cinema: From Heritage to Horror)

·         Dr Sarah Ralph (Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies, co-author of Alien Audiences: Remembering and Evaluating a Classic Movie)

·         Dr Jamie Sexton (Senior Lecturer in Film and Television Studies, co-author of Cult Film: An Introduction, founding series co-editor of Cultographies)

·         Dr Johnny Walker (author of Contemporary British Horror Cinema: Industry, Genre and Society and co-editor of the Global Exploitation Cinemas book series)

Applicants are reminded that there are only nine spaces available.

Lunch and light refreshments will be provided throughout the day.

Please submit a 250 word summary of your project, and a 50-100 word bio to the organiser, Dr Johnny Walker (johnny.walker@northumbria.ac.uk <mailto:johnny.walker@northumbria.ac.uk> ), by Friday 31 March 2017. Applicants will be notified of the outcome the following week. 

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Interview on Racism and Horror

Recently I was interviewed by Mark Butler on the subject of racism in horror movies.
Read the article here: https://inews.co.uk/essentials/culture/film/racism-horror-movies-theme-get-out/

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Abertoir 2016

I've just returned from the Abertoir Film Festival where I was presenting a paper on Times Square entitled 'Remembering the Deuce". The festival was great; Stephen Thrower presented a talk on Lucio Fulci, Fabio Frizzi's band played a new live score to The Beyond, and there were tons of great films on the schedule (and loads of other events happening - check out the website here). Sadly I missed Dearest Sister, as it screened before I arrived.
My personal highlight, however, was eating a KFC with Frizzi, both because he is a really nice guy, and also because it was so strange to be eating fast food with a legendary Italian composer in the middle of Wales. 

Here are some photos from the 42nd Street themed event. Thanks to Gaz, Nia, Rhys and everyone else involved in organising and running the festival.

Monday, 24 October 2016

New Article out in Porn Studies

My latest article “‘Extreme’ porn? The implications of a label” has just been published online at Porn Studies journal http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/23268743.2016.1196011.

Here is the abstract:
Despite its prevalence, the term ‘extreme’ has received little critical attention. ‘Extremity’ is routinely employed in ways that imply its meanings are self-evident. However, the adjective itself offers no such clarity. This article focuses on one particular use of the term – ‘extreme porn’ – in order to illustrate a broader set of concerns about the pitfalls of labelling. The label ‘extreme’ is typically employed as a substitute for engaging with the term’s supposed referents (here, pornographic content). In its contemporary usage, ‘extreme’ primarily refers to a set of context-dependent judgements rather than absolute standards or any specific properties the ‘extreme’ item is alleged to have. Concurrently then, the label ‘extreme’ carries a host of implicit values, and the presumption that the term’s meanings are ‘obvious’ obfuscates those values. In the case of ‘extreme porn’, this obfuscation is significant because it has facilitated the cultural and legal suppression of pornography.

Read the full article here.