Monday, 31 December 2012

The Mummers And The Bikers

Here's a short extract from the film of the Straw Bear festival that we'll be showing at The Black Heart in Camden at our Black Harvest event. Exploring the Pagan Biker interface, this music will also feature on the next album Anti-Heroes.

Our new year message...


Well folks 2013 is the tenth anniversary of English Heretic and what a bleak vision we present, with the liner notes for our new single Black Harvest / Vaughan To Lose.

Thanks to all our pals and supporters...

Friday, 28 December 2012

The Observer's Book of Desecrated Churches 1: Living Dead At Hathersage




I remember at primary school doing a project called "Churches and Cathedrals". I mainly used  two of the Observer series of books for my junior investigation - one called The Observer's book of old English Churches. It strikes me that I need to revisit this project. An interesting feature of 60s/70s horror is the misuse of churches - from the vandalised altar of Brandeston (relocated near Thetford) in Witchfinder General to the ruined ritual scenes at Bix in Blood on Satan's Claw - the profaning of hallowed ground offers rich sketches of observation for the deviant imagination. 

Hannah Gilbert recently pointed us in the direction of Winnat's Pass, in the Peak district which she told me was  bizarrely the setting for the creepy and hardcore Spanish/Italian Zombie flick The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue. Winnat's Pass is an incredible ravine cut through what was once a coral reef. In the film, the entrance to a fictional "Southgate church" is superimposed over the valley. Much of the action takes place in the fictional church, though the actual church used in the film is a few miles down the road at Hathersage. Hannah and I made a visit there over Christmas, making film and field recordings for what I hope will be a psychogeographic soundtrack: Goblin goes native...

Hathersage churchyard is also the supposed resting place of Robin Hood's merry man Little John. His tomb resides between two yew trees and the headstone intriguingly features what looks like the Masonic "Eye of Providence".

There's a local legend surrounding Winnat's Pass that two runaway lovers on route to be married were mugged and murdered in the valley by five miners.The crime went unsolved but the perpetrators were all eventually punished by providence - one broke his neck at the pass; one committed suicide; one was crushed by a stone fall, and one died insane. The final accomplice inevitably made a death bed confession. The perfect slasher film combination - one can easily imagine a wild folkloric mash up of mingled histories brewing in the vales.

The churchyard is the setting for The Living Dead's most profane moment - the disemboweling and cannibal feast on the entrails of the local bobby, which the numb skull detective inspector misconstrues to be a Satanic rite carried out by the film's hero - a chap that looks like he could have been in a power electronics band circa 1980 - leather bomber jacket, Jesus beard, Yorkshire Ripper flares. 

As I said, the visit to Hathersage and Winnat's Pass feels like an opening to a particularly juicy gateway where waits an infernal collage of English rural and Italian horror... coming to an Inner Cinema near you...













Wednesday, 19 December 2012

English Heretic Present: The Apartment Trilogy


Taking place during the Glasgow film festival, "The Apartment Trilogy" is a creative magical investigation into Roman Polanski's three interior studies from Repulsion via Rosemary's Baby to The Tenant. Could it be that the first two films in the series inadvertently or presciently precipitated the murder of Sharon Tate in some kind of brutal melange of their imagistic narratives.

And was The Tenant Polanski's admission, unconscious or otherwise of his role and guilt in the celluloid prophecies of his earlier films. Taking props and footage from Thurloes Beauty parlour in South Kensington, London, the actual location of the hairdresser's in Repulsion, we will reconstruct an inner cinema of Catherine Deneuve's psychotic breakdown at the venue of the Old Hairdresser's in Glasgow.

A second set of performance by The Blue True will soundtrack key scenes from Rosemary's Baby. The event will culminate with a screening of The Tenant, Polanski's self starring paranoid masterpiece.

Between 1965 and 1976 Roman Polanski directed three films exploring the psychosis of interiors – his apartment trilogy beginning with Repulsion via Rosemary's Baby and culminating with The Tenant. Repulsion features Carol, a schizophrenic hairdresser, the traumas of her childhood unleashed by adult isolation in a hostile city. As her psychosis deepens she retreats to her apartment, where the walls of her identity become persecutory agents. With the logic of her devastating illness rendering the interface between the concrete and the human a florid nightmare she murders a licentious suitor and her overbearing landlord.

In 1968, married to Sharon Tate, Polanski's composed the ultimate birth anxiety dream of Rosemary's Baby. Filmed in the gothic Dakota Building, where John Lennon was murdered in 1980, Mia Farrow is the paranoid mother-to-be, convinced that her avuncular neighbours are part of a Satanic cult. Moreover, she experiences recovered memories of the conception, a black mass, overseen by an Anton Lavey like devil.

In August 1969, the schizophrenic cult leader Charles Manson ordered his disciples to Cielo Drive in LA. There they butchered the now pregnant Sharon Tate in a horrific collage of these two films. Did Polanski somehow through a cinematic prescience foretell his own tragedy; or more troubling did the films serve as some kind of accidental occult operation precipitating the blind atavisms of the demon spheres to seek reification in the concrete world?

Polanski waited until 1976 to release his paranoid confessional, The Tenant, in which the director himself plays a timid Parisian who takes the room of a woman who has attempted suicide by throwing herself from her apartment. As with Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion, the neighbours become grotesque persecutors – this time urging the protagonist to act an of defenestration. The toilet becomes an hieroglyph adorned hypogeum as Polanski's cross dresses into the persona of its previous tenant. Was Polanski's casting of himself in the final act of the Apartment Trilogy a recognition of his unconscious culpability in the slaying of his wife? Who was the previous tenant of the apartment – the ghost of his butchered wife, or Polanski's sublimely paranoid muse?