Prevenge (2017)

I don’t usually talk about films here in The Churchyard but I thought I’d make an exception for Alice Lowe’s directorial debut feature, Prevenge. I’ve just got back from seeing it at my local cinema so I thought I’d write a quick, off-the-cuff piece about it while the excitement of it still has me in its clammy grasp.


It’s an everyday tale of a heavily pregnant woman being encouraged, by the foetus residing inside her, to take bloody revenge on those who caused the death of her partner; written, directed and starring Alice Lowe.

Of course, we know Lowe from, among other things, the Ben Wheatley directed film, Sightseers, which she also starred in and co-wrote. Like Sightseers, Prevenge is a darkly comic and violent film, but where Sightseers had a certain Mike Leigh style homely warmth to it, Prevenge has a far bleaker feel. The sumptuous rural colours of the Sightseers cinematography have been replaced by a grainy urban austerity interspersed with splashes of vivid colour and the overt humour has been replaced by an extraordinarily brilliant sense of discomfort and awkwardness.

I think Mark Kermode has already commented on the possible influence of Zulawski’s 1981 film Possession, particularly with the underpass scene and the weird tentacular nature of Zulawski’s creature being taken in Prevenge by the close-up of a writhing Giant Millipede.

I’m sure I can also detect an influence of ‘70s Giallo with the bold use of colour in certain scenes (windows and doorways lit up in blue in an otherwise grey street) and also in the synthesised score.

I don’t know whether these are intentional influences or not. If they are then they’re used with a very light hand and are in no way over-powering to the point of pastiche, as is the case with many films. Prevenge remains a unique piece.

A very unique piece!

Lowe’s strong central performance has that uncomfortable awkwardness that we all know and love her for and then come these occasional blasts of growling intensity which take your breath away for a moment. Of course, you would expect a film with a pregnant protagonist to be heavy on the prosthetics but, in this case, that bump was all real as Alice Lowe was pregnant during the filming. Terrific performances too from the always brilliant Jo Hartley and from an actor I’m not that familiar with, Mike Wozniak. It’s also good to see Tom Meeten making an appearance, albeit in a very brief role (I’m biased here though as Meeten is an old school and college friend of my wife and it’s always fun to see him on the screen).

British independent films tend to get treated poorly by the big chain cinemas so I can’t imagine that Prevenge is getting widely screened, I’m lucky enough to have a brilliant independent cinema near me, but if you do get a chance to see it then see it. I want it to be a huge success as I’m really looking forward to see what oddities come scuttling out Lowe’s mind next.

The Compleat Amicus Portmanteau Cravatalogue, part 4

(The Amicus Cravatalogue was a short, five part article I wrote for another blog a few years ago. As the other blog will disappear shortly I thought I’d include them here. This is Part 4)

Ok, so we’re at the penultimate film in the series of portmanteau horror films produced by Amicus in the 1960s and 1970s.

If you’ve missed the others they can be found at these links:

PART 1 (Dr Terror’s House of Horrors & Torture Garden)

PART 2 (The House That Dripped Blood)

PART 3 (Asylum & Tales From the Crypt)

We all thought that the fashion for the cravat was sliding into a decline in Part 3, didn’t we? There were slim pickings indeed in Asylum and Tales From The Crypt, but let’s move on from the bleakness of 1972 and into the bright future of 1973, let’s move into The Vault of Horror!

The framing story here involves a group of strangers who find that the lift they are all in unexpectedly takes them down to a sub-basement. This sub-basement is done up to the nines with a plush, gentlemen’s club decor and a table for five set with brandy and soda. Of course, this being an Amicus film, the five strangers sit down and tell each other their recurring nightmares.

In the first story Daniel Massey hires a private detective to track down his sister for him. Now then, something quite portentous happens here. The detective shows up at Massey’s apartment, a big bearded chap in a leather jacket, possibly a bit of a thug, but he’s wearing a delicate peach coloured chiffon cravat with silver edging.

Here he is:

unknown private detective 2

Daniel Massey has nefarious deeds afoot so he decides to kill the detective. This is where it gets interesting for the cravat-conscious, Massey in an open necked shirt strangles the cravat wearing detective with a necktie.

unknown private detective

unknown private detective 3

As we’re nearing the end of the heyday of the cravat, it’s all rather prophetic. Open necked shirt, tie and cravat all in a battle to the death like a perverse game of stone, paper, scissors. No? Perhaps it’s just me then.

*ahem* …anyway, in this tale we also have Roy Evans in a sort of cravat, although he may just be sneaking off with someone’s pillowcase:

roy evans

On with tale number two, Terry Thomas is the star so of course there’s going to be cravats. Here he plays an obsessively tidy husband whose wife doesn’t meet up to his demanding expectations. Terry Thomas often wears cravats in his films, doesn’t he? Exactly the sort you would expect to wear one? Sadly though, he never really suited the damn things. Why he couldn’t pull it off, I don’t know. Demeanor? Neck proportions?  Who knows? But, as much as I love him, Terry Thomas wears a cravat with all the elegance of a neck-brace.

terry thomas 3

terry thomas 2

Note also, the silver edging on that green cravat. I wonder if he’s been shopping in the same place as Daniel Massey’s detective?

The third story gives us the great Curd Jürgens as a stage magician looking for new tricks in India. Curd looks every bit the 1970’s westerner on his travels in the Orient with the standard uniform of linen suit and cravat. A classic look.

curt jurgens 1

Tale number four, a story of fraudulent deaths and exhumations, would be cravat free if it wasn’t for the appearance of Arthur Mullard, of all people, as a surly gravedigger.

arthur mullard

Which brings us to the final segment of this film, a tale of high art, voodoo and Tom Baker. There’s not a great deal of cravat action in this one. We get an extremely brief, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it, view of Maurice Kauffman doing his best to copy Curd Jürgens styling of linen suit and cravat combo.

maurice kaufmann

And we have John Witty with his nasty encounter with a guillotine (one should never wear loose fitting neck attire when operating dangerous machinery).

john witty 2

I know it goes against the grain a little and we don’t usually talk about the cravat’s anorexic cousin, the necktie, but a special mention and possibly even a round of applause should really go to Tom Baker’s tie in this one. Just look at it and take in its breathtaking magnificence! I don’t think even the great man himself can quite believe it.

tom baker tie

And that bring us to the end of another post. We’re nearing the finale now, just one more Amicus portmanteau film to go. See you next time From Beyond The Grave.

The Mystery Blogger Award

Here’s a thing that seems to be going around and the wonderful Nancy and Kathleen over at graphicnovelty2 nominated me for for it. I don’t usually go in for this sort of thing but I’m secretly gloating a bit because they have such a great blog (go and have a look, you won’t regret it) and I am feeling a bit honoured . . . and I get to talk about myself for a while, so it’s all good!

The Mystery Blogger Award was created by Okoto Enigma and is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion

Here’s the rules:

  • Display the award picture on your blog
  • Thank the person who awarded it you (cheers, both!)
  • Mention the creator of the award (done)
  • Tell your readers three things about you
  • Answer five questions from the person who nominated you
  • Nominate some other blogs you like
  • Ask those you nominate five questions of your own devising

Here’s the picture:


Three things about me:

1: I live in a small Victorian terrace house with my peculiar wife, Tanner the Border Terrier, a life-size Victorian ventriloquist dummy called Ally Sloper, a small ventriloquist dummy called Shabby Dan, an antique child mannequin called Anton with no face or arms and who speaks to us by psychic means, a carved wooden goat head called Brown Phillip, an angry crow and an even angrier weasel.


2: I once took part in an experiment at the parapsychology department at my local university. They were conducting a clairvoyance test by transmitting thoughts into the subject’s dreams and said subject had to record their dreams and take the results back into the special parapsychology lab (a back room away from the respectable bit of Academia). They were very surprised when I turned in a near 100% success rate. But not as surprised as I was.

3: I spent the majority of the 1990s on one form of hallucinogen or other.

The Five Questions

1)  Who would play you in the movie of your life?

If I was directing the film then, of course, I would have the coolest actor that ever lived to play me . . . obviously John Hurt! But, in reality, Wilfred Brambell would probably be nearer the mark.

2) Where would you go if you had a two week, all expense-paid vacation to anywhere in the world?

I’ve got to the stage in my life where I’ve realised that I don’t actually like holidays. I don’t really have anything to holiday from. Having said that, if you’d still like to pay my expenses then that would be most welcome.

3) What do you love on your pizza? What do you absolutely LOATHE on your pizza?

I would like Roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding with gravy on my pizza, hold the pizza.

I would loathe pizza on my pizza.

4) What would your dream job be if money wasn’t an issue?

Without wishing to sound too annoyingly smug, I sort of already have my dream job. Myself and my wife make stuff with our hands and people buy the stuff. Of course, this does mean that money isn’t an issue as we rarely have any.

5) Who is the person who has shaped your life significantly?

My wife, obviously. Samantha. We will have been together 26 years this year. If it wasn’t for Samantha I know that, without exaggeration or being overly melodramatic, I’d either be living in the gutter or dead in a ditch.

Now onto the people I’m nominating for The Mystery Blogger Award (for being a constant source of amazement with your asemic art) (for being one of my favourite blogs and managing to be insightful, entertaining and downright weird (which is the perfect combination) ) (for being the first blog I followed and one of the finest chaps on the internet (…and, yes, your absence has been noticed and, yes, this is an unashamed plea for your return!)

If you good people are interested in taking part in this whimsy then follow the rules at the top of the page and these are your five questions:

  1. Who would play you in the movie of your life?

  2. What scares you the most?

  3. Who or what do you love the most?

  4. What one possession would you save from a house fire?

  5. When and how would you prefer to die?

And that’s the end. Thanks again to Nancy and Kathleen over at graphicnovelty2 for nominating me.






Absence makes the heart…etc. etc.

I’ve just realised that it’s been three months since my last post. Three months!! Where does the time go?

I fully intend to keep this blog going but it seems that life’s been getting in the way recently. I’ve been very busy with the day job (self-employed bookbinder) and I’ve started a new project too, a small business selling handmade and vintage cravats.

Yes, you heard me right, cravats!

Speaking of which, I’ve started a new blog all about that most decadent of neckwear. Here it is:


Anyway, all being well, normal service will be resumed here in The Churchyard very soon.