Halloween is close at hand gentle readers. Feel it’s cold, damp hand on the back of your neck. Feel as the grip tightens, and it turns your head towards this screen and these words. 5 for Friday. 5 ways to pass the time as the howling winds and…other sounds rattle at your windows. Don’t look under the bed. Don’t check the cupboards. Don’t look away.

1) Smoker of the future

Public service broadcasts have a long and brutal tradition of scaring the piss out of unsuspecting viewers. Often these informative warnings serve as micro-horror films of the highest order, utilising cutting edge film techniques and imaginative methods to get their hard truths across. Many a child was scarred by early exposure to these nightmarish visions of EC Comics like karmic justice, dealt by an uncaring universe.

The one that I could never, ever shake though was this one – ‘The Smoker of the Future’, a truly mindshredding antismoking advert that is like Hieronymous Bosch by way of Ridley Scott. It features one of the most terrifying monsters ever depicted on the small screen – that of an addict, mutated by their habit into something guaranteed to never, ever leave your memory. Brilliantly shot, bafflingly intense and truly horrific:

 

2) Moomin Groke

Tove Jansonn’s Moomin mythos is full of weird and wonderful creatures, that all hover right on the cute/scary borderline. Lovely, whimsical stories cut with an Scandinavian idiosyncrasy that gives them a unique and wonderful flavour. The Polish TV puppet adaptation from the early 1980s captured this flavour perfectly. But then. Then. The Groke. Oh god, the Groke. Those blank eyes, that shuffling, amorphous form. Moving ever closer, bringing frozen death with her every breath. Hide. Hide from the Groke.

 

3) Enigma of the Amigara Fault

I’ve talked about Junji Ito’s masterful short piece here before, but if you ever wanted to understand why he is one of the finest horror comics creators ever, this nasty little tale should convince you. As someone prone to claustrophobia there is something so profoundly disturbing about this story that I can barely bring myself to read it. It features a number of Ito’s favourite tropes – people behaving strangely, compelled by forces beyond their ken, bodies twisting into strange new forms, and a view of the natural world as alien and malign. Concise, uniquely weird and sublimely unsettling.

Check it out here

 

4) Tuck Me In


This brilliant one minute horror film did the rounds a while back but it sure packs a punch. Masterfully economic, it manages to be scarier than most mainstream full length horror films whilst also playing on parental fears expertly. Best not to say too much really. Just watch it.

 

5) The Grandmother
Seeing as Lynch is making a high-profile return to our screens soon (although not soon enough dammnit!) it only seems fair to dedicate some time to the master this Halloween. Thr Grandmother, his 1970 short film is a gruelling textural experience of alienating horror. Or is it a lovely story about a neglected boy and the special love that a grandparent can offer? It’s both, of course! Bringing his incredible sound design and visual imagination into play, before embarking on the opus of Eraserhead, this half hour film is pure, unadulterated nightmare fuel. Imagine stumbling across this on TV late one night, and then imagine never sleeping properly gain. No-one can make you feel as queasy or unsettled as Lynch. Pretenders have tried, but watch this and realise what watery gruel they offer when up against the original.

Happy watching Mindless Ones.

3 Responses to “5 for Friday: It Is Happening Again”

  1. Adam Says:

    Oh my God, that smoking film.

    I must’ve been 9 or 10 when that was airing. Oddly, I don’t remember being frightened by it. Maybe I’m repressed the memories

  2. Thrills Says:

    I think about the Amigara Fault story quite often. A great, unsettling idea, executed well. A pal describes the story as ‘comforting’ which is certainly interesting.

    I worked out what was going to happen in ‘Tuck Me In’ quite early on, and I sort of found myself hoping it wouldn’t. Horrible!

    The Groke is greeeeat. No amount of cutesy merchandising overexposure can diminish how excellent the Moomins are.

    That smoking advert, though. Urghh.

  3. Moomin-Mania: Introduction: Moominland Midwinter of the Spirit | elf in the machine Says:

    [...] ‘Those blank eyes, that shuffling, amorphous form. Moving ever closer, bringing frozen death with … [...]

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