The queue to get into the second Horror Club evening at London’s Horse Hospital (4 December 2012) got a pair of foreign tourists excited enough for them ask me what was going on. I explained that I was going to a splatter film screening and although this was free you had to have your name down on the door to get in. Basically it was an event for the cognoscenti only! And to attract them (and me) there were free beers and free Horror Channel coffee mugs too.
The real entertainment began when Emily Booth and Billy Chainsaw introduced a trailer of upcoming Horror Channel TV premiers of recent low budget splatter movies. Then it was on to the main feature, a special preview of Shiver directed by Julian Richards. What I found myself watching was a low-key police procedural comedy about a goofy and retarded psychopath who ‘terrorises’ (I’m using the term ‘terrorise’ very loosely here) the city of Portland in the north-west United States. Franklin Rood (John Jarratt) is The Griffin, a serial killer who tape records his female victims telling him how powerful he is before he despatches them by strangling them with steel wire (he then cuts off their heads to keep as souvenirs). When Wendy Alden (Danielle Harris) survives Rood’s first attempt to murder her, The Griffin becomes obsessed by the one that got away. Despite going after Alden with a vengence, Rood doesn’t succeed in killing her. Since the cops are a bunch of bumbling idiots, it is Alden who finally offs the bogeyman after he has been captured once but escaped from custody. The film is a riot of light-weight B-movie cliches and very retro in an eighties way – you could easily forget you are watching something shot in 2010. Shiver isn’t scary, indeed it isn’t anything special, but you can laugh along with it and at it.
The Horror Club event climaxed with a Q&A featuring director Julian Richards (born in Newport, south Wales, 1965). Initially Billy Chainsaw conducted the interrogation and then the audience took over. Richards seemed modest and likeably enough, saying that had Shiver been made a few years earlier he’d have been working with three times the one million (he didn’t specify dollars or pounds) budget it was made on and a shooting schedule that was twice as long as the three weeks he actually had to film it. Richards was also very honest about how little control he had over the movie – having the actors he used and other matters dictated by the producer. That said, Richards seemed to be fudging when he talked about the difficulty of getting the film distributed being down to disagreements between various parties. This is a movie that has sat around for a couple of years without a release and I’d say that has more to do with a changing cultural environment than personal infighting.
Horror Club proved to be a fun night out – but that was more down to the audience than the movie, with some viewers talking through parts of it, while others told them to shut up. Personally I’m all for audience participation at this type of screening and view those begging for silence as a part of this. The free beer and Billy Chainsaw’s banter helped things along a lot too! So a top night out despite Shiver being a very average low-budget movie.
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!