It’s been a while since I turned the old critical spotlight on to the world of podcasts, and so it must be high time to rectify that! And what better way to begin than taking a look at a recent discovery…
“A podcast for the more laid back horror fan. Put on your smoking jacket, light your pipe and have our manservant pour you a large brandy, then come and take the seat we've reserved for you at The Gentlemen's Grindhouse (ladies welcome too!)...”
Coming to you every fortnight from Geekplanet Online, The Gentlemen’s Grindhouse is a young podcast, just ten episodes old at the time of writing. However don’t be fooled by their relative youth, as this is a ‘cast that arrived fully formed and has swiftly become a firm favourite of mine. And if, like me, you are a devotee of the horror genre, then this is one you’ll want on your subscription list pronto!
The eponymous gentlemen in question are Tom and Matt and each episode comes in three sections. First up, the show opens with Two Weeks of Terror, in which our heroes discuss the latest news from the world of horror and also whatever genre delights – be they movies, TV, comics or books - they’ve consumed since last gathering around the digital hearth.
Next up, is Morgue Mail , the listener feedback segment and then it’s onto the meat of the ‘cast – The Morbid Matinee – an in-depth discussion of the film chosen that episode. Previous celluloid cadavers on the slab have been -
01 - Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers (1972)
02 - Fulci’s The Beyond (1982)
03 - Universal’s The Wolf Man (1941)
04 - Michael Winner’s The Sentinel (1977)
05 - The Legend of Hell House (1973)
06 - Martyrs (2008)
07 - Val Lewton’s The Body Snatcher (1945)
08 - Romero’s Creepshow (1982)
09 - Nosferatu (1922)
10 - Return of the Living Dead (1985)
And I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a very fine roster of film and a veritable banquet for the horror movie buff.
As I’ve remarked before in previous reviews, horror is a very broad church and the genre has a very rich heritage to explore. And the Gentlemen’s Grindhouse is doing sterling work in covering a broad range of very different takes on the genre.
But aside from covering a bit of everything the genre has to offer -from the old to the new, from the cult to the classic – and delivering intelligent and entertaining discourses on the films, what makes the Gentlemen’s Grindhouse so interesting is their unique approach. Basically our hosts are coming at the movies under discussion from differing angles: Tom favours the grittier end of the horror spectrum whereas Matt is more drawn to the more gothic classics.
Roughly speaking, there is a definite split in the history of horror cinema which occurred at some time in the 1970s. One effect of the so-called ‘permissive society’ which emerged in the ‘60s was a gradual relaxing of censorship laws which produced two landmark movies that provided a tipping point for genre cinema. And those films were Romero’s Night of the Living Dead and the Exorcist and as well as redefining the limits of what could be shown on screen, their explicit and contemporary approach expanded the boundaries of what the genre as whole could do and marked a distinct break from the previous horror paradigm that more genteel, gothic and period set, as exemplified by the films of Universal, Hammer, Amicus and the Corman Poe adaptions.
Hence discussing notable horror films from down the years with a pair of gentlemen who interpret these movies through the lenses of these two different paradigms makes for intelligent and fascinating podcasts. And as the more astute reader may have deduced from the episode list, our genial hosts alternately take turns to pick a different film from their respective period. It’s a fantastic conceit and makes for an interesting critical tennis match as the weeks progress.
As this 'cast does go into considerable depth with their discussions, it's a wise move to have already seen the films under the microscope if you are concerned about spoilers. But it's also great fun to play along at home as it were.
So no matter what pew you prefer in the haunted horror cathedral, there's something in the Gentlemen's Grindhouse for you. Indeed one of the great virtues of the horror genre in my book, is that it is so far reaching that it often opens doors into whole new vistas of cinema. And you could hope for no better guides to such pastures new than Tom and Matt.
So then, all that remains to be said, is click here now, and book your armchair by the fireside...
JIM MOON, 26th January 2010