Trilogy Blog – Part 2: Does length really matter?

What length have the longest and shortest plays ever performed been? Well, one is less than a minute long, whilst the other is more than a day long. Running times aside, the documented longest and shortest plays couldn’t be more polar opposites in terms of content, themes and who authored them.

The shortest is an incredibly pessimistic view of life from womb to tomb written by Samuel Beckett, the preeminent ‘theatre of the absurd’ playwright and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature (pictured in blog preview – he has such an amazing face that I couldn’t resist).

Whilst the longest is a morality tale by Vickrant Mahajan – a motivational speaker, bestselling author and former Mr India whose aim is to spread super positivity to the world.

Breath by Samuel Beckett (first performed in New York, 1969; noteworthy that the UK premiere took place at the Citizens in Glasgow in 1969)
Low level lighting, rubbish strewn across the stage, a baby’s cry…
Check it out below, if you’ve got the time and all.
Total running time: Approx. One minute

Yes Thank You Universe – A Tale of Two Attitudes by Vickrant Mahajan (first performed in Jammu, India 2015)
The Guinness World Record entry for the longest play depicts a tale of two contrasting families (No family and Yes family), emphasising how a positive attitude directly impacts on the quality of life. 
Running Time: Approx. 24 hours, 20 mins, 2 secs

Well, I know which one I’d rather see!
Check out Part 3 of my blog tomorrow for the longest and shortest plays that I’ve ever seen.

Trilogy Blog – Part 1: You wait for ages then three come along at once

2016 is the year of trilogy plays. Forget the first installment of the new Star Wars trilogy (although it was bloody good, am I right?!?); trilogy plays are where it’s at this year. More specifically, Scottish trilogy plays based on heart-rending material.

We have seen an explosion in long-form TV and radio shows in recent years, allowing for slow builds and detailed character development. This is a trickier thing to replicate on stage. When it’s a live performance, you can’t choose your style of consumption to the same extent, whether that be binge or pleasure delay. Theatre companies may offer different viewing options to audiences; but it’s no Netflix style – here are all 13 episodes of your favourite TV show all at once; go on… call in sick to work… I dare you.

If the interest in the epic two-parter play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is anything to go by, then maybe the time is ripe for long-form plays. Although, the Harry Potter phenomenon, and JK Rowling’s editing, is a law unto itself, so this really isn’t anything to go by. Moot point – my bad.

But the emergence of three major trilogies set to be performed in the first half of 2016 got me thinking – what is the longest play ever performed? And indeed what is the shortest? More on that in Part 2 of my blog, which I will be publishing tomorrow. Oh and Part 3 will come out the day after tomorrow – yes, this is a trilogy blog, emulating the content and all that.

Firstly, here are details on the aforementioned trilogy plays, their viewing lengths and the viewing options available to audiences.

James Plays David Eustace

The James Plays – National Theatre of Scotland, Edinburgh International Festival and National Theatre of Great Britain 
This vividly-imagined trilogy brings to life three generations of Stewart Kings (James I, II and III of Scotland) who ruled Scotland in the tumultuous fifteenth century. Each stands alone as a unique vision of a country tussling with its past and future; viewed together they create a complex and compelling narrative on Scottish culture and nationhood.
Viewing options: over three evenings or in the one day at weekends.
Total running time: 7hrs 40mins approx.

This Restless House, Citizens Theatre and the National Theatre of Scotland
A contemporary take on an epic Greek tragedy, Aeschylus’ The Oresteia. The bloody saga of a family torn apart by a succession of murders and betrayals was first performed in 485 BC. The production brings the universal themes of justice, revenge, loyalty, and the evolving relationships between teenagers and their parents to the fore.
Viewing options: over two evenings, or in one day on Trilogy Saturdays.
Total running time: 5 hrs 20 mins approx.

The 306: Dawn, National Theatre of Scotland, 1418 NOW and Perth Theatre, in association with Red Note Ensemble
Based on real events, it charts the heartbreaking journey of three British soldiers who were executed for cowardice, desertion and mutiny during World War I. The piece of music theatre gives back a voice, story and name to these three unknown soldiers – who appear on no war memorial.  The 306: Dawn will be performed in a transformed barn in the Perthshire countryside with an accompanying live score.
Viewing options: one viewing; no interval. The nine day run includes a one-off performance at 2.15am on May 28th.
Total running time: 90 mins approx.

Remember to check out tomorrow’s Trilogy Blog – Part 2 to find out the longest and shortest plays ever performed. Guesses in the comments section below welcome.

Glasgow Film Festival 2016 Preview

Glasgow Film Festival (GFF 2016) is back next month, brightening up our fourth consecutive month of winter, or is it fifth?  I was at the Festival programme press launch last night and I can confirm that GFF 2016 is going to be the biggest, most innovative, star-studded, premiere-filled festival to date. Press launches – you know the drill.

But, here’s the thing. It is ALL that! The GFF team sure know how to deliver a programme and Glasgow audiences – living up to their Cinema City title – sure know how to pack out a screening. It’s a dream team akin to Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

GFF 2016 includes 308 events, a belter of an opening gala with the UK premiere of the Coen Brother’s latest offering, Hail Caesar!, special guest Richard Gere (“I got nowhere else to go… that would compare to Glasgow!”), and multiple offshoot sister festivals, including the only youth film festival in the UK to be programmed by 15-18 year olds.

Most excitingly is the Festival’s continued commitment to ‘Total Cinema’ events, with classic films reinterpreted in unique and iconic settings across the city. So for those of you looking for something a bit out-of-the-ordinary from your film experience, check out my top five picks of the fest:

  • Romeo + Juliet, Trades Hall, (Sat 27 Feb) –  The city’s opulent Trades Hall will be turned into the Capulet mansion costume ball, complete with fish tanks and angel wings, for this screening of Baz Lurhmann’s visionary adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. I was 14 when this film came out – and I wanted nothing more in life than to lock eyes with a floppy haired boy through a fishtank. I owe it to my teenage self to make this happen!
  • Network, BBC’s Glasgow HQ at Pacific Quay (Mon 22 Feb) – An intimate screening of biting media satire Network, within a perfect setting. Peter Finch took home the Oscar for Best Actor for his portrayal of the troubled news anchorman, who delivers one my favourite film speeches of all time: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”.
  • Con Air, Secret Location (Thu 18 Feb) – Audience members will be collected at the GFT, assigned a uniform, handcuffed to their partner, and loaded onto the prison bus! Expect to be put through a convict’s paces as you head to a secret location for a screening of a 90s action classic starring the deliriously talented Nicolas Cage.

  • Thelma and Louise, The Grand Ole Opry (Sun 21 Feb) – Ridley Scott’s ultimate road trip movie will have a special 25th anniversary screening at Europe’s largest Country & Western saloon, The Grand Ole Opry; complete with lasso-work and lined-dancing. I take it Brad Pitt will be there in a cowboy hat, surely, right?
  • Where You’re Meant to Be, Barrowland Ballroom (Fri 19 Feb) – Glasgow based raconteur, Aiden Moffat, best known for his songs about sex, drugs and male anxiety, decided to rewrite his country’s oldest songs during the historic year of 2014. I saw Moffat perform these songs in the Barrowlands in the euphoric summer of 2014, pre the Commonwealth Games and Referendum. It was magicial, witty and relevant. Moffat will return to the Barras for a live performance and world premiere of the documentary which captured his journey that year.

The full Festival programme is online now. A limited number of tickets are on sale now, but the vast majority of tickets will go on sale from 10am on Monday, January 25.

 

Dark Days at Glasgow’s GoMA

royal exchange square 2

Dark Days review by blogger Carol Anne Grady (Rock Salt)

I first heard about Dark Days from a friend at work.

‘This is a weird thing,’ she said. ‘I think you’ll like it’. I’m paraphrasing, but she was completely right. I like adventures, and signed up on the spot.

The concept behind the event was, at first glance, simple: artist Ellie Harrison invited 100 strangers to come and spend the night in Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art. The event was described as follows:

A unique opportunity to stay the night in GoMA’s great hall with up to a hundred other participants. As part of this new, pop-up community you will explore ways to negotiate the politics of communal living with help from trained facilitators in order to decide how best to set up and run your camp.

Borrowing its title from a phrase used in theatre to refer to the period in-between shows, Dark Days hints towards a time in the future when our big municipal buildings may need to be re-imagined / re-used for alternative purposes.

Hmm. Perhaps the concept wasn’t as simple as it seemed. There was the practical matter of communal politics, something I knew nothing about. There was also the more esoteric idea of imagining what might happen to society that would mean having to use public spaces as living quarters. The description is delightfully vague, though of course the phrase ‘zombie apocalypse’ wasn’t far from my mind. It rarely is. Indeed, in answer to the one true question on the application form, ‘Tell us why you want to take part in Dark Days’, my answer was:

Why not? It’ll be good practise for the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. It’s a one-of event, I love the curiosity behind it. Watching people react in situations where the rules are all called off is fascinating, and I’d love to be part of the group while that happens.

As it turned out, Ellie received over 800 applications for the 100 available places. She narrowed the numbers down based on gender and age – the only other information the application form recorded – and with reference to how we answered the above question. Not an enviable task.

Two weeks before the event, we chosen bunch had our applications confirmed. Now we had some time to wonder what exactly we’d gotten ourselves into. I was looking forward to the night, but I’d be lying if I said I had no concerns. A sleepover with that many strangers, surely there was bound to be some drama? Or maybe everyone else would be somehow connected to the arts scene in Glasgow, and I’d be the philistine in the room. The camp manual we were sent didn’t do much to assuage my fears, with its unfamiliar phrases such as ‘consensus based decision making’ and ‘affinity groups’, and its instructions not to bring old blankets or pyjamas. I didn’t know why I wasn’t allowed to bring my pyjamas. I didn’t know what I was in for at all.

As it turned out, nobody did. We all arrived with varying degrees of anxiety, but a uniformly high level of anticipation and excitement. The fact that most people were there alone made it easy to get talking to one another, and there was plenty of chatter as we filed inside, dropped our rucksacks and sleeping bags round the edges of the GoMA’s main hall, and waited for things to begin.

We were together in the museum for sixteen hours. The first five hours were spent in learning the basics of the aforementioned consensus-based decision making – a tool used in activist groups and intentional communities – and then using our new-found skills to decide how we were going to engage ourselves for the rest of the evening.

There was a lot of talking. Personally, I quite enjoyed the talking. The whole process was an eye-opener for me, having only ever known the ‘majority rule’ method of decision making. That said, reaching a consensus, especially with that many people, does give rise to a certain amount of circular conversation, and it takes a long time to get things done. In the real world, when you use these techniques, you’re applying them to big decisions which are worth investing time in. For our purposes, it was overkill, and I know that many people were frustrated by how much we were discussing our plans, and how little we were acting them out. In the end, as it grew close to 11pm, a vote was taken to just get started, and organise ourselves as we went along. Consensus was reached. The group dispersed – but not for long.

Photo credit: Clyde Jones

There were a few group activities proposed, for all to take part in should they wish to. The stand out one for me was the crowdsurfing pit: about twenty people, shoes off, sitting in two rows, wedged far closer together than you would have imagined twenty strangers could be convinced to sit. Everyone in the pit held up their hands, and one by one, people jumped on, and were safely conveyed to the back, where two or three people waited to lift them back down again. Once finished, those people joined the back of the row, and the person at the front stood up and took their turn. Crowdsurfing was the most meaningful part of Dark Days for me. Being caught and held by this group of people was utterly uplifting – literally, of course, but also emotionally. It felt like a chance to set aside all those body worries that we humans carry around – this was no time for ‘I’m too heavy’, or ‘I’m sweating too much’. When I leaped forward on to those welcoming hands, I felt weightless.

Even as I was having this profound moment, other groups were forming around the hall. Some people played games (including a particularly noisy and dramatic Murder in the Dark). Some built a fort out of chairs and sleeping bags. I joined a group of aspiring music makers. A silent disco struck up next to us for a while. There were too many things happening for me to see them all, and if you asked any other member of the group at large, they would have a unique story to tell you about what happened that night.

Dark Days 2

Photo credit: Clyde Jones

The lights went out at 3am. We lay in our sleeping bags under the arches and cornices of the GoMA. Some people slept, but I think many found it difficult to drop off. In a way, I appreciated the wakefulness – it let me experience more of what will almost certainly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Some groups looked more deeply into the concept of Dark Days and one had chosen the task of writing a dadaist manifesto. Some lines from the manifesto have stuck in my mind, though I may be taking liberties with exact wording:

  • Always bring gaffer tape.
  • Crowd surfing takes a lot of hands, but it smelled a lot like feet.
  • We’re the art, aren’t we?

That last one resonated particularly strongly, and it’s come to mind a few times in the six weeks since the event. We were the art, a unique work that could never be exactly replicated, that was inherently subjective in its nature, and that could only really be experienced through participation. Reading descriptions, looking at photos, even watching footage of the night can’t really convey the truth of it.

Was there some kind of lasting meaning to Dark Days? There are a lot of answers to that question – at least a hundred. Some people might suggest that the project expressed hope that the human race can be trusted to cooperate, should the aforementioned apocalypse occur. Some might be more interested in the deep attraction for play that many of the participants exhibited. Others may wish to expound on the utter lack of conflict or rule-breaking in the room: even though we were in a unique environment where behaving contrary to the social norm would have been accepted, we conformed. Still others might contend that there was no meaning at all. As with any artwork, Dark Days is open to interpretation.

When asked about the project, Ellie didn’t seem to have had many preconceptions or hopes for what would happen on the night. This seems a sensible approach, given that any course of action involving a group of people is inherently unpredictable and complex. In her opening few words to us, she said she felt like she’d already done all the work of bringing us together – and I can only agree. Once she’d set us in motion, I think it was her turn to sit back and see what happened in the space she’d created.

We were the art.

Dark Days happened on February 13th, 2015. To see photos and read more about it, check out the Facebook page.

You can also see a short film about the Dark Days project, made by Lock Up Your Daughters, here: https://vimeo.com/121878202

Authored by my creative chum Carol Anne Grady – check out her foodie blog, Rock Salt.

Top five picks for Festival 2014

Festival 2014We are at the beginning of one of the most exciting months in Glasgow and Scotland’s history. The world’s greatest athletes and around one million visitors are about to descend on Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games. And while the sport is exciting and all that, it is the massive cultural programme running alongside the Games that really appeals to me.

Culture 2014 has been running all year, as a nationwide programme of events inspired by the multicultural Commonwealth and the unique aspects of the host city and nation.

During Games time (July 23-August 3), Culture 2014 will pause to allow the focus to fall purely on Glasgow, as the city hosts the biggest party it has ever thrown – Festival 2014. Running alongside the sporting action, Festival 2014 will see Glasgow transformed with an invigorating mix of entertainment and culture filling the city’s streets, spaces and stages.

There is so much to choose from, with the programme featuring family events, theatre, intimate shows, outdoor spectaculars, film, music, fashion and more. If you live within travelling distance of Glasgow, I would encourage you to take full advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime gathering of prominent international and Scottish artists as they turn Glasgow into the epicentre of culture for two weeks.

Most of the events are free-of-charge or cost under £5. And you don’t need tickets to enjoy the fun, simply take a saunter around Glasgow Green and the Merchant City – the two main sites for live entertainment.

If you’re overwhelmed by the amount of choice on offer, then here are my top five Audience Adventure picks of the fest for those seeking an extra special cultural experience this July.

Cargo Cinema ActionCargo Cinema Action! (Saturday, July 26), Custom House Quay, Clydeside
An outdoor cinematic spectacular, taking over the River Clyde for a day-long celebration of Glasgow and film. Cutting edge arts collective, 85A have been working with Glasgow Film (Theatre and Festival) to create an interactive event, which is set within the fictionalised film shoot of an abandoned Russian cruise liner that is drifting eerily towards Scotland. Step onto the colossal set docked at the Clydeside for an adventure in film, theatre and the senses.  The show will be performed five times throughout the day, with a different live band providing the score each time. Come night fall, the cruise ship will be transformed into a musical playground with light installations, live music, films and an open-air caféFree, reserved ticketing via glasgowfilm.org

Tin ForestThe Tin Forest Festival (various shows and dates from July 24-August 3), South Rotunda
The Tin Forest Festival is a two-week programme of events, focusing mainly on Glasgow’s industrial past and creative future.  The festival is the culmination of one of the National Theatre of Scotland’s most ambitious projects to date, involving contributions from over 100 theatre makers from across the Commonwealth as well as everyday Glaswegians, who have been involved in an eight month outreach project. My top two recommendations for the festival are: Dear Glasgow – a one-off interactive event, which invites audience members to give voice to their hopes and dreams for their city, with the aim of creating the blueprint for a better Glasgow.

A Puppet Theatre Experience, where audiences of 10 or less, meet a crabbit old man who has decided to take it into his own hands to create a better world. The 30 minute promenade performance uncovers a weird & wonderful new world and oddball cast of eccentric puppets en route.
Tickets for all events cost £5/£3 via thetinforest.com  

That Sinking Feeling PosterThat Sinking Feeling (Friday, August 1), Kelvingrove Bandstand, Kelvingrove Park
Three films by celebrated Glaswegian director, Bill Forsyth, will be screened at the recently refurbished Kelvingrove Bandstand – Gregory’s Girl, Local Hero and his lesser known debut film, That Sinking Feeling. Costing just £5,000 to make, That Sinking Feeling follows four unemployed and hapless Glaswegian teenagers as they embark on a plan to make money out of stolen sinks. The film has been out of copy for years, so this a chance to watch the fully restored print, within the beautiful setting of Kelvingrove Park (which I believe actually features in the film). Discover or rediscover the warmth, wit and charm of Forsyth’s work and find out just why he’s known as the ‘Capra of the Clyde’!
Free, non-ticketed


Sound to the SeaSound to the Sea (Friday, August 1 and Saturday, August 2), Science Centre
Cryptic – an arts collective known for ‘ravishing the senses’ with left-field performances – have joined forces with the Science Centre to create one of the largest scale events on the cultural programme. Billed as a night-time nautical extravaganza, Sound to the Sea will bring together specialists in outdoor art, pyrotechnics and aerial dance to create a visually and musically stunning event. Musicians, including Treacherous Orchestra, Miaoux Miaoux and Model Aeroplanes, are lined up to perform on boats and ships, which will double as stages. Expect fireworks, flares and feats of the unimaginable in this night-time celebration of Glasgow’s history, industry and dynamism. Free, reserved ticketing via glasgowsciencecentre.org

Admiral FallowGlasgow Mix Tape (Saturday, August 2), The Living Room, Glasgow Green
Glasgow record label, Chemikal Underground will bring together an array of the city’s independently-minded musicians to provide a showcase for the city’s legendary music scene. Anticipate the feel of a mini music festival, with acts including Admiral Fallow (pictured), Edwyn Collins, The Bluebells, Lloyd Cole and more. Great music, pals and beers; come rain or shine – it’s got the makings of a classic summer’s day out. Free, non-ticketed

 

 

Sleep No More

I had an amazing holiday in New York last month, which was an intense week of cramming in as much culture and cuisine as possible. One of the highlights was going to see Sleep No More, which has been running in the Big Apple since March 2011. The award-winning and critical acclaimed reinterpretation of Macbeth by companies Punchdrunk & Emursive has had cross-over success with culture vultures and mainstream audiences alike, entering popular culture with front page coverage on Vanity Fair, appearances in major US TV shows, and a run that is continually extended due to demand.

Oh hi!

Oh hi!

For those of you unfamiliar with Punchdrunk, they create immersive theatrical experiences, where audiences are allowed to roam around freely, taking in the physical performances of the actors as they come across them. This takes place within an incredibly detailed large-scale set that spans multiple floors, with each room more akin to an art installation than a theatre set. Oh and audience members wear masks giving you the freeing feeling of anonymity for the three-hour event. Here’s me in me mask.

From booking your ticket to exiting the performance, the entire production is in character. The premise is that you are checking into The McKittrick Hotel – a decadent luxury hotel from 1939 that was sealed up at the outbreak of WW2 and is only now opening its doors for the first time. The  fictitious McKittrick Hotel is in fact an abandoned warehouse which has been transformed into a performance space, restaurant and bar, defying belief in terms of vision, detail and cost. When we arrived, a couple behind us asked the doorman if the show was in the same location as the restaurant and they were bluntly told that there was no show, this is a hotel.

When you ‘check in’ you are handed a playing card and are led to a bar, where 1930’s styled sirens perform songs to a backdrop of red mood lighting and absinthe cocktails, gently immersing you in the atmosphere before your suit of card is called to enter – this works nicely as a way to break up couples and groups.

Sleep no more3

Sleep no more 1Upon entering, I straight away came across one of the major set pieces of the play, the witches summoning a series of apparitions, prophesying Macbeth’s future. It’s an intense scene to open with, and I did feel for anyone who may be there on a first date, as the strobe lit naked orgy rave, including animal heads, blood and babies, was quite the opener for those of us who came across it as their first room. Of course, many won’t see this scene until much later on in their journey, which is part of the fun of such expansive promenade performances.

Nowhere is the line ‘All the world’s a stage’ more apt than when you attend a Punchdrunk show. Firstly, you are on the set. There are large spaces, for example, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s chamber, an asylum, a ballroom and a maze like forest, as well as numerous smaller rooms, where less of the main sequences play out, but where much is revealed from looking though the intricately displayed props, from letters on desks to opened suitcases on beds. Here, the sets play the role of main character as much as Macbeth himself.  Secondly, you discover the stories in a non-linear fashion, just like the stories we come across in life, dipping in and out, sometimes alone and sometimes with others. You won’t see everything but no-one else will have the exact same experience as you.

Sleep no more 2
Macbeth is a great choice of source material for this type of production. The play’s themes of madness, murder, scheming and the supernatural lend themselves well to unusual stagings. The acclaimed National Theatre of Scotland’s Macbeth, where Alan Cumming played each of the characters in the one-man show, is also an example of a radical re-imagining of Shakespeare’s tragedy. Meanwhile, Punchdrunk’s decision to set the play within a 1930s film noir context worked perfectly, as many film noir tropes, for example, paranoid lead male, femme fatale and crimes of passion, are relevant to Macbeth.

Unlike when you go to a proscenium arch play where the audience plays a passive role and stories and motives become clear as the play progresses, in this type of immersive theatre you have to work hard to decipher the story and characters. I am sure many people thrive on solving such a puzzle, but for me personally, I found it extremely useful having prior knowledge of the play, as I could identify what scenes I was in (you are in the scenes) and which characters were whom.

I have previously seen Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man, which was based on a text of which I had no prior knowledge – check out my review here.  I tried to follow what was happening but soon became overwhelmed and had to just give myself over to the sensory experience, with the hope that bits of the story would occasionally pierce through my bewildered wall of wonderment. I gained more enjoyment from Sleep No More as I knew the play well, but a sketchy outline of the story would have been more than suffice to help guide you through the journey, elevating the enjoyment factor in my opinion.

In fact, it was quite exhilarating at one point to realise that I knew exactly where to position myself to make sure I was able to follow Macbeth to his next scene to see him murder King Duncan, after interpreting a torrid dance sequence as Lady Macbeth convincing her husband that the deed must be done. Props to me!

If you’re planning a trip to New York, be sure to make a reservation at the McKittrick Hotel for a most memorable evening. You can check out the Sleep No More trailer here and for tips on attending a Punchdrunk show, scroll to the bottom of my previous blog on The Drowned Man.

 

All Night Horror Madness

All Night Horror Madness is an evening of horror films screened back-to-back from 11pm till dawn, taking place at Glasgow’s Grosvenor Cinema and Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema.

This was my second attempt at All Night Horror Madness. Attempt does seem like the most appropriate word here, as whilst great fun, it is a bit of an endurance test. In a previous outing, I only managed two of the four films – Nightmare on Elm Street and I Drink your Blood. I therefore approached this year’s event with little confidence that I could go the distance, considering there were now five films on the bill, and booze and caffeine were out, as I have my own little monster growing in my belly. But I’m pleased to say that I made four out of the five, calling it a night at 6.30am.

The entire evening had a fantastic vibe – it may seem like an anomaly but horror film fans are known to be some of the best behaved and genial audiences out there. Armed with snacks, comfy clothes and an open mind, we all hunkered down for an evening of gore, thrills and chills. The films were interspersed with raffle draws, chats to neighbouring new friends and vintage trailers, which were very comical indeed.

Like a mix tape, the line-up and order of a horror movie marathon must be meticulously composed. The right balance of lightness, humour, serious gore, bat-shit crazy, knowing tropes and shocker moments must be struck to keep the audience from entering lulls and considering the cosy bed that awaits them at home.

Here’s the line-up for last month’s All Night Horror Madness at the Grosvenor Cinema and my thoughts on what I saw:

The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974) – A hugely entertaining opener. Awkwardly dubbed from Italian to Mancunian, the film included, comical displays of 70s sexisim, zombies, your standard unsympathetic police, a begrudging hero and *spoiler alert* an ending stolen straight from pivotal horror film Night of the Living Dead.

Don't be fooled by those innocent blue eyes

Don’t be fooled by those innocent blue eyes

Brain Damage (1988) – Director Frank Henenlotter’s follow-up to Basket Case (if you haven’t seen it seek it out – it’s one of the best in the schlock horror cannon). A young man awakes to discover that a friendly phallic-shaped monster has taken up home in his central nervous system, administering him with an almighty high that comes with a deadly price. Deranged, 80s synths and neons, crude death by blow-job scene, chatty little creature, Basket Case cameo = ideal second choice.

Sleepaway Camp (1983) – Painfully shy Angela attends her first camp, only for a murderer to start picking off youths and staff who do anything immoral. Angela and her protective older cousin Ricky should be safe, as they are the good guys, right? Ideal mid way movie, delivering on the horror and comedy in equal measure and a shocking closing shot that resulted in quite the audible reaction from the crowd.

Fright NightFright Night (1985) – This was a favourite of mine on VHS as a young teen, so I was looking forward to revisiting it. William Ragsdale stars as the teenager who no one believes when he accuses his neighbour of being a vampire. It still stands up as an enjoyable horror romp and you can see why it was chosen to be remade with a stellar Hollywood cast in 2011. However, I felt it was too straight and lengthy to be movie number four on the bill, resulting in me bowing out at the end. Oh come on – no booze and caffeine, remember?!?

DemonsDemons (1985) – I didn’t make it this far, but it does sound like a perfect closer to All Night Horror. Produced by Italian horror master Dario Argento, Demons sees a group of teenagers trapped in a cinema alongside some, you guessed it, demons. This was also the only film of the night to be screened in 35mm print, with the graininess and authentic feel of print often adding to the horror viewing experience.