Drive on the highway to Hell with the latest event from The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies in London as author Bernice M. Murphy breaks down the importance of horror films set around highways, including Psycho (1960) and Southbound (2015). Also: a look at a makeup featurette for the new Suspiria and release details for Snowflake and Agramon's Gate.
Roads to Hell: The Highway Horror Film Event Details: "The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies - London takes a trip through the cinematic history, cultural importance, and significance of the 'Highway Horror Film' using landmark films from PSYCHO (1960) to SOUTHBOUND (2015) with celebrated academic and author Bernice M. Murphy.
This class will introduce students to the ‘Highway Horror Film,’ an overlooked sub-genre of the wider American horror tradition which articulates profound unease about the transitory nature of modern American life, as well as the wider impact of mass automobility. The post-1956 construction of the Interstate Highway System (IHS) represents one of the most dramatic innovations of post-war American society. This ground-breaking new network of federally constructed roads provided Americans with a freedom to move around the entire nation that had previously been denied to them. In addition, the car assumed the vitally important practical and symbolic function it holds to this day. As we shall see, both these innovations are questioned in Highway Horror. In these films, the American landscape is by dint of its very accessibility rendered terrifyingly hostile, and encounters with other travelers (and with those whose roadside businesses depend on highway traffic) invariably have sinister outcomes.
We will begin with a discussion of one of the foundational ‘Highway Horror’ movies, Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), focusing on the relationship between the film and the emergence in the 1930s of the motel as a new kind of roadside business. We’ll also explore the reasons why these locations are so often associated in American popular culture with criminality and murder. Psycho-influenced films such as Vacancy (2007) will be mentioned, as will motel-based explorations of identity dissolution such as Bug (2006) and Identity (2003).
Then we’ll move on to the second major theme in the sub-genre: the ‘highway nemesis’ narrative, in which the middle-class male road users are forced to engage in deadly cat-and-mouse battles with monstrously aggressive blue-collar adversaries, as in Duel (1971), Race With the Devil (1975), The Hitcher (1986), and Joy Ride (2001). Next, the idea that the freedom of movement and culture of anonymity associated with the highways makes them an ideal killing ground for the serial killer will be discussed, with a focus on the theme of compulsive mobility in films such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (1986), Kalifornia (1993) Freeway (1996) and Death Proof (2007). Finally, the seminar will conclude with a consideration of the fourth and final ‘Highway Horror’ strand, which features films in which the protagonists are killed or seriously injured in car crashes, but find themselves trapped in a purgatorial space between life and death, as seen in Carnival of Souls (1962), Dead End (2003), Reeker (2005), Wind Chill (2007) and the recent anthology Southbound (2015).
About the Instructor:
Bernice M. Murphy is an Assistant Professor and lecturer in Popular Literature in the School of English, Trinity College, Dublin. She has published extensively on topics related to horror fiction and film, with a focus on representations of place and space. Her books include The Suburban Gothic in American Popular Culture (2009), The Rural Gothic: Backwoods Horror and Terror in the Wilderness (2013), The Highway Horror Film (2014) and (with Stephen Matterson) the 2018 edited collection Twenty-First Century Popular Fiction. She is the co-founder of the online Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies and is a founding member of the recently established Irish Network for Gothic Studies (INGS). Her current work in progress is a book on the relationship between California and the gothic genre.
The Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies – London - Roads to Hell: The Highway Horror Film
Date: December 13th, 2018
Venue: The Horse Hospital
Address: Colonnade, Bloomsbury, London WC1N 1JD
Prices: £10 advance / £11 on the door / £8 concs (students/seniors with ID)
About the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies:
Named for the fictional university in H.P. Lovecraft’s literary mythos, the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies is an international organization that offers university-level history, theory and production-based masterclasses for people of all ages, founded by film writer and programmer Kier-La Janisse in March 2010, with regular branches in London, New York and L.A. as well as presenting special events worldwide. The UK branch is co-run by Janisse and Josh Saco, of Cigarette Burns Cinema."
Take a Look at a Suspiria Makeup Featurette: "Synopsis: Young American dancer Susie Bannion arrives in 1970s Berlin to audition for the world-renowned Helena Markos Dance Company, stunning the troupe’s famed choreographer, Madame Blanc, with her raw talent. When she vaults to the role of the lead dancer, Olga, the previous lead, breaks down and accuses the company’s female directors of being witches. As rehearsals intensify for the final performance of the company’s signature piece, Susie and Madame Blanc grow strangely close, suggesting that Susie’s purpose in the company goes beyond merely dancing. Meanwhile, an inquisitive psychotherapist trying to uncover the company’s dark secrets enlists the help of another dancer, who probes the depths of the studio’s hidden underground chambers, where horrific discoveries await.
Agramon's Gate Trailer & Images: "Agramon's Gate is a riveting new horror feature film brought to you by Painted Creek Productions. It is written, produced and directed by multi-award-winning filmmaker & actor Harley Wallen (Betrayed, Moving Parts, Bennett's Song) and stars Laurene Landon (Maniac Cop 1 & 2, The Stuff, It's Alive III: Island of the Alive) and Yan Birch (Wes Craven’s The People Underneath the Stairs, Death House).
If you think you've seen all the images from Agramon's Gate, you are frightfully mistaken. Painted Creek has just released a fresh, new batch of NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN screenshots that will leave you screaming for more.
The film’s trailer won Best Trailer at ARFF Barcelona and Agramon’s Gate is also an Official Selection for Queen Palms International Film Festival and the Bloodstained Indie Film Festival. The film is heading to more film festivals at the beginning of December and an anticipated March 2019 release.
A psychic reader and medium are invited to a party. Something goes very wrong and something comes over from the other side to haunt the people from the party. They must solve the mystery before it's too late. Agramon will not be easy to stop. This film also stars Kaiti Wallen, Calhoun Koenig, Kris Reilly, and Angelina Danielle Cama.
“I really wanted to make a horror film with a real story and have strong drama and thrills and get the jump moments, the mystery and some gore and frights. After seeing 'The Haunting of Hill House,' I feel there is room for that and an audience! Many things are coming together in Agramon’s Gate and I can’t wait to see how the audiences will receive it!” said Harley Wallen.
“I feel as a whole the acting in Agramon’s Gate is as strong as it’s ever been in one of my films if not better. I love how the actors took the multi-prong approach to our villains but also for the hero’s who we need to care about to take the journey with and they killed it! I also love how great the locations almost play a role and are almost characters in the film, they have a voice and also the camera in capturing our subjects, I’m very happy!” he added.
Agramon's Gate IMDb Page: