Category Archives: Dystopian cinema

M and my top 10 reads for 2019

It is no exaggeration to say I have been eagerly anticipating Samm Deighan’s monograph of Fritz Lang’s 1931 film. I love the film and I am a big fan of Deighan’s movie writing, so the combination is bound not to disappoint. And it didn’t.

As Deighan puts it in her introduction, M ‘exists in a liminal space between urban social drama, crime thriller, and horror film’. It was arguably the first serial killer film, long before the FBI coined the term in the early 1970s. Anchored by a superb performance by Peter Lorre as the paedophiliac child killer, Hans Beckert, it was certainly the first motion picture in which a serial killer was the central protagonist. Another crucial innovation was the way in which Lang depicted the character of Beckert in a not entirely unsympathetic light. This same sensibility would have a influence on some subsequent serial killer cinema, most notably in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 horror/thriller, Psycho.

Deighan discusses M’s broader social and political themes, including the film as a critique of modernity and a text for Germany on the brink of totalitarian control, appearing as it did a year before the Nazi’s assumed power and Lang had to flee the country.

Another fascinating aspect of the book is the discussion of how the themes in M would echo in Lang’s subsequent work, particular the threat of the lawless mob violence and what is perhaps the director’s most defining idea, how even the most noble individual is capable of brutal murderous thoughts and actions.… Read more

“There is no phone ringing, dammit!” Projection Booth episode 422 : The Omega Man

I’m thrilled to tell you all that episode 422 of The Projection Booth podcast is live and features yours truly, joining co-hosts Mike White and Maurice Bursztynski, to talk about Boris Sagal’s 1971 dystopian science fiction film, The Omega Man.

The Omega Man stars Charlton Heston as Richard Neville, the last human survivor of a devastating biological plague – so he thinks. Neville spends his days hunting down the only other remnants of the human race, a group of anti-technology, homicidal mutants, known as the Family, and headed by an ex-TV news reader, Matthias (Anthony Zerbe). At night, the only time that the sun sensitive mutants can come out, Neville holes up in his swanky Los Angeles apartment, trying to avoid being killed and living a weird pantomime of his pre-apocalypse linking, drinking too much and playing chess with a statue of Julius Caesar.

That is until he discovers another human survivor.

There are several reasons why I am so enamoured by The Omega Man. As I discuss in my monograph on another masterpiece of 1970s dystopian SF cinema, Rollerball, SF was a relatively marginal genre of cinema until 1968. That year saw two films released that changed the perception of the genre: Planet of the Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey.… Read more

Joint launch of new cinema books on Rollerball and The Fly, Sunday, November 4

Melbourne people, a very quick heads up for those of you who may be around on the Melbourne Cup long weekend. On Sunday, November 4, myself and the wonderful Emma Westwood will be hosting a launch of two new film books, my monograph on Norman Jewison’s 1975 dystopian science fiction classic, Rollerball, and her book on David Cronenberg’s 1986 body horror, The Fly.

The launch will take kick off from 4.30pm at Grub Street Bookshop, 1/379 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy. Melbourne film scholar Dean Brandum will be on hand to do a Q&A with Emma and I about our books, there will be cheap drinks, and special ROLLERBALL and THE FLY themed cupcakes.

There will also be the chance to buy copies of the monographs at cheaper prices than offered elsewhere.

So please come along, help us celebrate, and pick up some great reading about cinema. There is a Facebook page here for the event, if you would like to RSVP, which would be great as it would give us an idea of numbers.

Hope to see you there.

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Nothing but one big shill #2

Yes, another post devoted  to shamelessly shilling my own stuff. Again.

Well, not just my own stuff.

First up, I was happy to learn that the anthology I contributed a story to, The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir, published by the New York based independent publisher, Three Rooms Press, has just won the 2018 Anthony Award for best fiction anthology,

The Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery writers presented at the annual Bouchercon World Mystery Convention in the US. They are named for Anthony Boucher (1911–1968), one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, and a pretty big deal.

The anthology contains fifteen stories of pulpy goodness, featuring robots, lizard people, vigilante killers and various other bizarre creations riffing off the conspiracy theories association with the Obama presidency (although I believe the current occupant of the White House also gets a nod), and was edited by one of the hardest working men in crime fiction, Gary Phillips, critically acclaimed author of mystery and graphic novels.

Anyway, if you have not already picked up the anthology, I reckon the news it has won an Anthony should be as good an incentive as you need to do so.

It features stories by a host of talented writers, including big guns such as Walter Mosley and Robert Silverberg.… Read more

‘It was never meant to be a game’: my monograph on Norman Jewison’s Rollerball

I have been pre-occupied with my Phd and various other commitments, so I’ve been a little bit slow off the mark to publicise my latest book, a monograph on Norman Jewison’s 1975 dystopian science fiction classic, Rollerball, out now on various platforms in the US, UK and Australia, through Auteur Publishing.

The book originated out of my curiosity to see whether I had it in me to write 40k based on a single film. The film I chose, in consultation with the publisher, was Rollerball. Only you can be the judge as to how good a job I have done, but I’ll let you all in on the first rule of writing a film monograph, make sure you like the film because you not only have to watch it numerous times but immerse yourself in everything to do with it.

I have always like Rollerball, ever since first seeing it twenty years ago. But I didn’t realise until I got stuck into researching the film for this book, just what a good viewing experience it still is and what a chilling dystopian vision it remains.

Rollerball depicts a future dominated by anonymous corporations and their executive elite, in which all individual effort and aggressive emotions are subsumed into a horrifically violent global sport, remains critically overlooked.… Read more