Sunday, December 27, 2009

I'm alone with you tonight

The Sunnyboys were teenagers from north of Sydney, Australia who formed a band in '79 and in a flash were touring, famous and releasing their first record. They were incredibly talented and one of those cases of the exact right sound, crystallising the time & place. Very tight, melodic pop songs with beautiful Rickenbacker riffs and Hammond organ that still sounds new...their arc was short but so bright. I was madly in love with Jeremy Oxley, like every other Sydney schoolgirl.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

midnight is a place

Joan Aiken
was a British author who was known primarily for her children's books - The Wolves of Willoughby Chase series was very popular for years, first published in 1962 with a gorgeous cover by Edward Gorey:

She wrote many adult novels as well, in many genres from gothic thriller to mystery to supernatural. Her writing is a marvel of clarity and sly, sharp intelligence, as well as a wicked and playful sense of humour. She could combine elegance and tremendous human warmth with a shade of the sinister that stayed with you for days. Her titles are equally evocative: Black Hearts in Battersea, Voices in an Empty House, Midnight is a Place. But it's her short stories that show the sharpest edge, the highest polish.

Her short story collections are hard to find (I dug mine up on eBay) but well worth the search. Don't let the Puffin editions fool you. A Whisper in the Night and A Bundle of Nerves are full of nasty, beautiful wonders that will democratically haunt adult and child alike.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm in your blood

Let's Scare Jessica to Death is a quiet, creeping film from 1971 that makes a lot of people's most-underrated list. We went to a 16mm screening with the director, John Hancock, in attendance last week. Thought the print was a little too dark, it was great to watch in the theatre and get some backstory and commentary from him. Someone asked what he thought upon viewing it again after 38 years and he said "It's much better than I thought at the time!". The stark, relentless soundtrack by Orville Stoeber makes the tension that much stronger.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


The Strangers came out last year, and I've just caught up to it. It's remarkably stripped-down, almost flat: couple terrorized in an isolated house by nameless, silent people. Very rarely do I get genuinely nervous watching a film.
While it wobbles a little bit - the last quarter meandering into commoner tropes - the first three acts unspool beautifully while slowly, and expertly, building dread - the soul of true horror.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

the house of the devil

This looks fantastic...set in, and filmed as if it were still - 1980. Out now theatrically in the US, hopefully soon elsewhere...HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

dirty gems

All my old obsessions returning to me of a sudden. Wedged into a pile of true-crime books at a thrift store, I finally found Christiane F., the original book (later filmed) about her junkie-baby-prostitute life in late-70s West Berlin.

As hard as the movie can be to watch, the book is even more dense, immediate, and rough. I read it when I was 13 and it strongly affected's virtually impossible to find now, long out of print, and battered copies go for $60+ on ebay. Not this one!

N.B.: If you're up for it, the entire movie has been posted to Youtube, starting here. So far, it's unavailable in North American NTSC format.

Friday, October 9, 2009

...always coming back to you

Sighing over Scott Walker once again, after watching the documentary 30 Century Man (2006). Cameras are let into his studio for the first time (recording his '06 album The Drift). David Bowie, Johnny Marr, Brian Eno all confessing their love and his influence. It's the first time Scott has been interviewed so intimately. You get a sense of the depth of his marriage to his music, that he can be and do nothing else but create this extraordinary stuff. Although his style has drastically evolved - become more itself, one could say - I will always get chills listening to his solo work from the 60s/70s. It stops you up short. He really is one of the life-changers.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

the plight house

Heartbreak, horror, and impossibly brutal choices may all be yours in The Plight House. This first novel by Jason Hrivnak is like nothing I've ever read, and still troubles me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

down the junction

I spent my pre-teen years in Toronto's Junction neighbourhood in the early 80s, and the surroundings of the spartan Crossways Mall (beneath the dual tower blocks pictured), derelict warehouses and railway lines - accompanied by a soundtrack of Soft Cell, Joan Jett and Human League - were heavily formative.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

perverted by language

What an excellent, stripped down film, with an amazing performance by Stephen McHattie. Three people in a smalltown Ontario radio station, on air during the development of a ferocious virus transmitted through...words

Sunday, September 20, 2009

spring 2010

courtesy of ohne titel; how I love me grey:

and mary karantzou with the mad, beautiful prints: it looks like something grows from it, at the neckline...

liquid metal, or a petrol-puddle:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

brevity is the soul of story: Hint Fiction

Robert Swartwood is a Pennsylvania writer editing an anthology of stories, open to all for submissions from August 1 - 31, 2009.

Each of these stories must be 25 words or less. It's called Hint Fiction.

See how close to the bone you can cut it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

the bitch is back

The stunning, striking Kristen McMenamy is back from huge 90s fame followed by obscurity, in a 30-page feature in July's Vogue Italia. Bravo.

Monday, June 15, 2009

the shuttered room

1967 - apart from being set in New England with some mysteriously deformed villagers, it's a great 60s British horror that has little to do with the Lovecraft story. Oliver Reed is a twisted joy to watch as he terrorises a young couple claiming their ancestral inheritance: a dilapidated millhouse which has secrets to tell. Particularly that upper room.

Carol Lynley is the perfect, kittenish ingenue returning to her childhood home. The girl can leave the village, but the village will reclaim the girl...

Monday, May 18, 2009

a new toy

ay-yay-yay...I wondered why the kids made fun when I dressed like her at Beckford Primary...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

killing the primary colours

A great gig (if usual terrible sound at the Phoenix theatre).

An amazing new album - turns preconceptions about them on their heads. Every song turns out just the way you want it to. Sounds so new and throwback at the same time.

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Died today at aged 78 in London. No more from this incredible mind is a sad thing...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Black Hearted Love

PJ Harvey and John Parish have made a new album together: A Woman A Man Walked By. The Chapman Brothers made the video for the first single, Black Hearted Love.
They have a palpable chemistry together - you can feel it in their work. He's produced her for years, and they made Dance Hall at Louse Point in 1996. I love their elegant, enigmatic album titles.
This song really struck something with me: the minor key of the recurring riff, its slight messiness, but Polly's voice so crystalline and clear.

Fever Ray

Karin Dreijer Andersson is half of The Knife, a remarkable, enigmatic brother-sister band from Sweden. She has released her first solo album as Fever Ray: a heavy, atmospheric and dense thing that I can't rip myself from...

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Grace and...yogurt? Last night, a new ad for H&M had a cover of Grace Jones' "Libertango" tinkling in the background, immediately followed by an ad for Liberte yogurt, featuring a healthy, yogurt-y couple dancing the...'libertango'. I suspect someone in the studio was having a little fun.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

conrad williams: tight wrappers

The best story in Best New Horror 19. Absolutely horrid, stuck to my thoughts for days, involves scaffolding and True First Editions. Many thanks again, CW!

kate moss by bert stern

the scent of friedrichstrasse

From Chandler Burr's column in the New York Times T Magazine comes word of a scent exhibit - possibly the first of its kind: ‘‘If There Ever Was: An Exhibition of Extinct and Impossible Smells,’’ at The Reg Vardy Gallery in Sunderland, England.

Among the headspinning creations:

  • Lethal Peruvian arsenic deposits
  • Hiroshima
  • A 16thC spell for eternal beauty (contents: murdered raven, almond oil)


  • the scent of Berlin-Friedrichstrasse train station, the only connection to West Germany in the GDR.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Nice, slightly mental clothes from Marc Jacobs in NYC for these dour times. Looks like Stephen Sprouse...history's repeating, again and again and...