Archive for August, 2009

The Gable film

Posted by on August 24th, 2009

I thought I’d post this – just for shits and giggles, as they say. Long-time readers of this blog will know that, despite being a hard-line skeptic, I’m interested in supernatural stuff, and hang around various forums reading, and usually laughing, at various reports. UFOs, aliens, Bigfoot, monsters. I don’t actively believe in any of it. But still. The whole subject fascinates me. And so I figured I might as well – occasionally – post stuff along those lines that I find interesting. And the Gable film is one of them.

It has a habit of disappearing from Youtbe, but you can currently watch the full version here.

Now, this has been online for about two years. The story behind it is an elaborate one, linked (at least slightly) to the ‘legend’ of the Michigan Dogman. The video was allegedly – a la Blair Witch – found in a garage sale. It’s fairly easy to pick the story out of the video, at least after the initial dicking around, and to note that the last few frames, where the mouth appears on camera, are a little too opportune, and therefore most likely fake. Not necessarily, but most likely.

However.

The video of the alleged ‘creature’ is quite compelling. (One of the few videos you’ll find, in fact, where it is). Theories persist as to whether it might be a bear, dog, big cat, gorilla or whatever, and it’s hard to say because it’s blurry and brief. But it ‘attacks’ without warning, and, from the way it moves, it doesn’t look much like a man in a costume or CGI. If it’s faked – say for a movie viral – it’s pretty damn good. My guess, if it is faked, would be a fucking big dog with a bear hide strapped to it.

Anyway, that’s been around for a bit. Then, a couple of months back, following TV coverage, someone posted this on Youtube:

I was at my little brother’s house Friday June 10th and my sister-in-law was watching Fox News. (She’s madly in lust with that Sean Hannity guy). A short segment came on about “the Beast of Bray Road”. Hannity then played a clip from a film named…”The Gable Film”.

Sirens went off in my head.

Our only uncle was a film nut in college, back in the seventies. He was always making home movies and beer commercials. He was even hired, (not for pay), to help the Michigan Department of Natural Resources investigate and document a bear attack, just north of Bellaire. (Our Grandmother worked in the Antrim County Courthouse,…. she had a hand in getting him the gig). The victim’s name was Aaron GABLE.

…..GABLE!!!

My mother tells us that after filming the attack scene, our Uncle John was so distraught that he packed up his stuff and moved to Florida, two weeks later!. Mom says his behavior was becoming very psychotic, he couldn’t sleep at night and he kept going on about how “bears have FIVE toes,….. dogs have four”!. Just a week after he left, a DNR officer hand-delivered the film that Uncle John made to my Mother’s house. It’s been in a box in the basement ever since.

Now, I seem to recall that these films usually lasted about five minutes or so, but the film we have is only about a minute long… and the end of it was obviously torn off, not cut clean. I wonder just how much is missing? We almost threw this film away just a couple of years ago, but I wound up buying a vintage projector on eBay, just to see what was on this film. (Boy, was I suprised). NOW,….. I find that there’s this “Gable” film out there?

I wonder if these two films are related. I’ll see if I can get it in better resolution, other than with Wifey’s camera-phone. (It might be expensive,….. but I’m sure it’ll be worth it).

One thing’s for certain, whatever it was on that clip that they played on Fox News,….. it sure didn’t look like no Bear.

Along with this clip, which – regardless of truth – is possibly a tad disturbing/distressing, so I’m not posting a preview image. It’s a body-find, matching one of the figures from the first video. Upper torso. No lower torso. No defensive wounds or blood-soaked ground, but – for those who have seen such images in the past – reasonably convincing. The car is supposed to be registered to an Aaron Gable, which means the victim in the film might be the woman from film one, rather than Aaron Gable himself.

It’s a curious case. And you can google it for more details. There’s nothing really supernatural about it, but the final seconds of the first film are intriguing. What the fuck is that?  I hope it’s a neat upcoming film, rather than what it all appears to be.

the bbfc

Posted by on August 19th, 2009

This is a weird one. The BBFC have refused a classification for the Japanese horror film Grotesque. It’s one of only a small handful of films they’ve refused ratings to over the last few years, and you can read the Telegraph’s report on it here.

Distributors of Japanese movie Grotesque had hoped to be given an 18 certificate for the film, which involves torture such as amputation and eye-gouging.

But the British Board of Film Classification said the film featured sexual sadism for its own sake. It said that giving the film a rating would involve a ”risk of harm” to those viewing it.

Selling or supplying the film would now be illegal.

All right then. It’s a weird one, because I happened to see a review of the film in DVD Review magazine this month – they gave it two star, which I think is generous, as I happened to catch it online this morning. There is a fairly well-known website that allows you to do that. I didn’t download it: it’s a youtube-style site. So I watched it online. I do this occasionally with films I really want to see, and then generally buy them afterwards – Redbelt, Martyrs and so on. I wouldn’t have been buying Grotesque anyway, as it turned out to be an utter pile of shite. It’s one hour twenty long, and I watched about forty-odd minutes before I got massively bored and wondered why I was bothering.

The decision was taken by BBFC director, David Cooke and senior colleagues.

The board said the majority of the film focused on the assault, humiliation and torture of two victims. The main character takes them prisoner abducts, restrains, strips and sexually assaults them before inflicting horrific injuries until they die.

Mr Cooke said: ”Unlike other recent ‘torture’-themed horror works, such as the Saw and Hostel series, Grotesque features minimal narrative or character development and presents the audience with little more than an unrelenting and escalating scenario of humiliation, brutality and sadism. The chief pleasure on offer seems to be in the spectacle of sadism (including sexual sadism) for its own sake.

Yeah, that was my take too. I mean, it really is a shit film. (Although it bugs me, slightly, that Saw – certainly, the original film is a bewilderingly tame piece of work – is constantly raised as a standard of violence). Grotesque is the equivalent of one of the older Guinea Pig movies. It’s basically just a showcase for special effects. There is no real narrative – at least that I saw – and it’s merely a vile spectacle. There is sexual sadism in there. As I watched it, having – genuinely – not heard the film was about to be banned, I thought “this has been passed?!”. It’s grim stuff. Unusually, for this kind of film, the violence is perpetrated equally against a man and a woman (hammer, nails … and balls!) but that’s not to excuse it. On an artistic level, there is genuinely no ‘reason’ for the film to exist. It’s crap.

“Rejecting a work outright is a serious matter and the board considered whether the issue could be dealt with through cuts. However, given the unacceptable content featured throughout cutting the work is not a viable option in this case and the work is therefore refused a classification.”

I can sort of see that. If I was disposed towards cutting I wouldn’t know where to start. The pervading air of nihilism is just too … well, pervading.

Actually, hang on a second.

Rewind.

But the British Board of Film Classification said the film featured sexual sadism for its own sake. It said that giving the film a rating would involve a ”risk of harm” to those viewing it.

A “risk of harm”? What the fuck is that? And do they mean a risk of harm to those viewing it, or a risk that it might corrupt those people – ie a risk of harm to people those people who view the film might encounter? Nevertheless, the fact remains, the BBFC have viewed it. David Cooke may well have been harmed by viewing it. Of course, he hasn’t. Why would he have? He’s quite capable of understanding it’s just a film. Even I – a fan of extreme horror – watched it and thought “pile of shit”.

But this is the situation we find ourselves in. I feel slightly nervous about admitting I’ve seen a film that other adults in the UK have also seen, simply because those adults are privileged and have said it’s not suitable for other adults in the UK to see. Was a crime committed making this film? No. Did you watch it? Yes. Did it damage you? No. You say it’s vile? I agree. You say I’m not allowed to watch it too? I say fuck off. Who do you think you are? Just fuck off.

Yeah, it’s a weird one.

But anyway. I think it’s really important that, due to the actions of the BBFC today, it’s going to be massively difficult to watch Grotesque from now on. Ah ha. Ha ha. Spit.

tumbleweeds…

Posted by on August 14th, 2009

Yep. Sorry. You knew it was going to be a little like this when I reopened the blog. Not much has been going on, in all honesty. I’ve got a couple of book review comment type things to add at some point, but, in the meantime, I’ve been starting work on Book Six. It’s been interesting, after all the planning, to try a new technique: I’ve been taking my new MacBook Pro out and working in some of the pubs of Leeds. It’s good, as it gets me out of the house – and, more importantly, away from the internet. (I’ve seen some sights, as well). I’ve not quite managed 1000 words a day, but only because I’ve been flying freely, and then tightening up a bit as I go. When I start something, there’s always a period of ‘writing myself into it’. Finding the voice, tone and rhythm: settling into it. And so that’s been involved too. After eight proper days writing, I’m at 7,600 words. And I think that’s okay, as the voice is starting to come together for me, and lots of new ideas are emerging from the draft, which is kind of essential. Annoying but essential. Annoying but exciting. And so on.

In the meantime, The 50/50 Killer has done great guns in the e-book sales. Apparently – and I find this hard to believe – it’s Orion’s top-selling e-book (not sure if this is crime, all fiction, or across the board) and by quite some distance. That’s pretty amazing, even though e-book sales are still a small part of the market. I love it, anyway. Waterstone’s seem to love it too. And so thank you to anyone and everyone who downloaded it. I hope you liked it. Let me know.

tbr list

Posted by on August 5th, 2009

I’ve got shed-loads of books to read, but it was my birthday recently and I’ve acquired a few more. So this is (part of) my current to-be-read list. You may notice that some of them have rolled over from the last time I did this, but only if you’re a long-term reader of my blog, as that post is currently off frolicking in an archivey sunset. (Actually, The Frolic by Thomas Ligotti is a great story, isn’t it? But I digress).

In no particular order:

Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
The Strain, Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
The Angel’s Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Still Midnight, Denise Mina
Bad Friends, Claire Seeber
Bone by Bone, Carol O’Connell
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Stieg Larsson
Genesis, Karin Slaughter
Slights, Kaaron Warren
Pretty Little Things To Fill Up The Void, Simon Logan
Audition, Ryu Murakami
Go To Helena Handbasket, Donna Moore
Life Sentences, Laura Lippman
Sharp Teeth, Toby Barlow
Beast of Burden, Ray Banks
Shadow, Karin Altvegen

(And I also picked up The Wasp Factory, although I’ve read it before. It’s weird, occasionally, to find you don’t own books you know you loved).

So – out of interest – what do you think I should go for first out of that lot? And have any of you read any of them/have any opinions on them? Obviously, I’m excluding the Larsson, as nobody will have read that yet. Personally, I’m particularly interested in Slights. Crap horror-style cover, but well-placed in Borders, and everything I’ve read seems to indicate it’s an incredibly dark, affecting and original piece of work. Anyone?

Oh God. ffs. etc

Posted by on August 4th, 2009

The whole John Banville at Harrogate thing just fills me with a furious sense of face-palming apathy.

For the handful of you who aren’t aware, Banville is a Booker-prize winning author of literary fiction, and he also writes crime fiction under the pseudonym of Benjamin Black. As an interviewee, he is never backwards about coming forwards – for which we should all be grateful – and he stirred up a mild amount of controversy, apparently, at Harrogate this year, for claiming he managed a couple of thousand words a day as Black, but only a hundred or so while writing as Banville. I think there have been various other interviews where he’s got people’s backs up for insinuating his crime fiction is just a bit of fun for him, whereas the Banville novels are more serious and head-scratching affairs.

My view on this pointless, brain-murdering shit-storm coincides – almost word for word – with Declan’s here. I’ve never really understood the crime writer’s need for acceptance by the elite. Who cares? Speaking generally, I’m very happy with my life, and if I walk into a party where people look down on me for being a bit common, I tend to think “oh, just fuck off”. I don’t start going “oh, but look at my lapels and cufflinks…”. No. I have enough friends, thank you. I am, despite how it may well often read, not that needy a person, and I feel the same way on behalf of my books.

Ruth Dudley Edwards is quite right to correct a misinterpretation, of course, but beyond that I don’t get it. Of course Banville spends more time on his Banville sentences than his Black ones. I mean, have you fucking read them? Of course he does. Very few, if any, crime writers exhibit that intensity of prose. The ones that get held up tend to be for intelligent simplicity rather than constant – constant – complexity, and I’d go so far to say that if you sent in Banville-level prose as a crime novel you wouldn’t get published. Banville as Banville writes fiction that is, effectively, poetry in prose form. Every sentence requires concentration; in general, and certainly on the bestseller lists, the exact opposite is celebrated within the crime genre. The debate is whether you see that as more worthwhile than an emphasis on plot and (perhaps) character. Now, I personally don’t, although there are certainly nuances within various theories of aesthetics you could discuss ad fucking nauseum, around and around, until everyone wants to kill themselves. But even if you’re of a mind to bother fighting the ‘genre vs literary’ battle, I’d respectfully suggest that prose is not the front to challenge your imagined enemy on. You are going to lose. In fact, you are going to get trounced. Because you are fighting by rules you shouldn’t be accepting at all, and which are loaded against you by default.

Or, to put it another way, how much time does Banville-as-Black spend working on his plot? Would the literary community be up in arms if he said he spent more? And why – while we’re on the subject – do you care anyway? If he said “crime fiction is harder to write than literary fiction”, why would anyone care? He is, after all, just a man you don’t know called John Banville. Or Benjamin Black. Or whatever.