Archive for the ‘Horror Performance’ Category

Marilyn Manson returns… with an unlikely collaboration.

September 4, 2011

Before the artist formally known as Brian Warner documented his mid-life crisis by writhing around with his barely legal lover in a pool of fake blood, the self-proclaimed God of Fuck (LOLZ) was a master of horror and heavy metal, specializing in sick music videos and stellar live performances. And, most importantly, he was selling albums. But the last decade has seen a steady decline not only in Manson’s album sales, but also in the number of people who respect him. The controversy has worn off, the tunes have dried up and poor Manson’s music career is drooping almost as much as his jowls.

Identity crisis, anyone?

But despite negative responses to his recent efforts, Marilyn Manson refuses to give up. Even as someone who spent her teenage years with his first four albums on repeat, I’m not sure if this is a good thing. It was announced this week that Manson’s attempt to redeem himself after mediocre last album The High End Of Low sees him returning with a new song, new video, and even a brand new sidekick…

.... this guy!?

So… apparently Manson and the kid from the Transformers movies (who goes by the name of Shia LaBeouf… bet that made for a fun adolescence) met at some concert somewhere and like totally hit it off or something to the point that Manson hired him to direct a ‘short film’ that would be accompanied by music from Manson’s new album, Born Villain. Right.

No offense, Brian, but I don’t think the way to rekindle your lost respect is to collaborate with a kid who found ‘fame’ on the Disney channel.

Desperate times…

So what can possibly result from this bizarre collaboration? And, more importantly, can it resurrect the once legendary status of the Antichrist Superstar we know and, err… love? Or is it finally time for Brian (I really, really enjoy calling him Brian) to hang up his microphone and retire to a dank dungeon somewhere to paint watercolors (they’re actually not half bad) while chugging his own brand of absinthe? (Yes, really. It’s called Mansinthe, obvz.)

MANSINTHE: for the life and soul of every party!

Born Villain isn’t unlike other Manson videos, just in case you were worried that this Shia kid would change Brian’s ways. In fact, the video is pure Manson all over: there are plenty of naked chicks paired with a load of ‘shocking’ and ‘controversial’ visuals (pedophilia, genitalia, a guy with no legs in a pair of saggy boxer shorts, etc.) that are occasionally interrupted by Manson and pals spouting out Shakespeare quotes. Deep. Oh yeah, and there’s music in there too, somewhere.

But what do you think? Have a look at the video for Born Villain for yourself…

WARNING: THIS VIDEO IS VERY NAUGHTY. We don’t advise watching it at work.

Well. That sure was interesting, wasn’t it?


The Kings of Shock-Rock Return: Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie at Download Festival 2011

June 21, 2011

Download Festival 2011 will be remembered for many reasons: the triumphant return of System Of A Down, security guard no. 836 who will go home with the best work story of all time, and the Sunday downpour that resulted in hoards of mud-soaked metalheads. But what it really should be remembered for was playing the honoured host to the gods of horror performance: Alice Cooper and Rob Zombie.

The 'gruesome twosome' toured the US in 2010

       Alice Cooper – Saturday Second Stage

Image courtesy of MandyHallMedia on Flickr

The immortal master of tongue-in-cheek shock rock may be getting on, but he still has bucketloads of energy to writhe around onstage with a life-size doll and perform numerous costume changes including inevitable black leathers and a lab coat for Feed My Frankenstein.

This glam spectacle reeks of camp horror, and Alice never stops performing: he swats a faux photographer with his mic stand and carries out his infamous onstage beheading. Favourites like Poison and the encore School’s Out rev up audience members old and young, and Alice even treats fans to a new song, I’ll Bite Your Face Off.

    Rob Zombie – Sunday Second Stage

A really awesome photo of Rob Zombie.

It’s been 12 gruelling years since Rob Zombie played a live show in the UK, and the soaked crowd is forced to wait in anticipation as Johnny Cash blares over the speakers.

With a flaming stage, smoke, confetti and a hoard of props including bubble machines, skeletons, monsters and robots together with a set of screens playing horror clips, shots from Zombie’s music videos and plenty of tits, this stellar spectacle brings a whole new meaning to the words horror performance.

With Mars Needs Women, Superbeast, Super Charger Heaven and More Human Than Human acting as highlights, it’s when Zombie returns on a gnarled demon podium to address his loyal subjects for the Dragula encore that the crowd really goes wild. Leaving the crowd chanting “Zombie! Zombie!” it’s clear that the horror king has risen to godlike status.

If you were lucky enough to be present, congratulations, it’s likely that you witnessed the best live horror show on earth.

The Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards

The gruesome twosome were reunited at the Metal Hammer Golden Gods Awards on Monday June 13th, where Alice presented Zombie with the final award of the night, the Golden God award. You’ve got to love Zombie’s short and sweet acceptance speech.

Check out the full list of Golden Gods Awards winners here.

Read my reviews of Download Festival in the August issue of Metal Hammer magazine.

Circus of Horrors Review for Guardian Cardiff

February 4, 2011

Ah, the perks of journalism.

I get to watch awesome stuff like this for free! - Copyright of The Circus of Horrors

Last night I was treated to the theatrical whirlwind that is The Circus of Horrors in Cardiff’s New Theatre, which I reviewed for Guardian Cardiff. What can I say, if you’re a fan of dwarf penis and Rob Zombie style tunes then you’ll be in for a treat.

Doktor Haze was on top form, winning the crowd over with impressive vocals and dirty jokes. In response to one woman who cringed as the sword-swallower displayed his tricks, Haze retorted: “Don’t look so horrified madam, I’m sure you’ve swallowed worse.”

Check out my review for Guardian Cardiff here.

Oh yeah, and then there’s this.

I met Doktor Haze. Oh yeah.

Spine-tingling Suspense on Stage: Ghost Stories at The Duke of York’s Theatre

January 12, 2011

It’s a rare occasion when a theatre audience squeal with fright as soon as a voice asks them to turn off their mobiles before a show begins. But when you’re waiting in anticipation to watch a play that describes itself as ‘London’s scariest phenomenon’ and warns its audience in advance that they will have to keep reminding themselves that it’s only a show, it’s inevitable that you’ll be a tad bit jumpy. And rightly so.

Talk about tantalising advertising...

The secrets of Ghost Stories have been successfully shielded from the public. In fact, they are even hidden from the audience right up until the performance begins, with the show’s program revealing zilch about the storyline. After the final curtain falls on the stage, the audience is asked to keep the secrets of Ghost Stories. Clearly, the appeal of the show is the mystery that surrounds it.

Ghost Stories is currently running at The Duke of York’s Theatre in London (appropriately enough, the theatre is supposed to be haunted), and was devised by Jeremy Dyson, who co-created The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and Andy Nyman, who has worked with Derren Brown. Together they have created a piece of theatre that mixes suspense, tricks of the eye, fact and fiction, audience interaction and heart-racing fear, all packed together nicely into 80 minutes. 80 minutes that you will literally spend on the edge of your seat terrified that some hideous creature is going to land on your lap.

The allegedly haunted Duke of York's Theatre

Perhaps I should divulge some of the plot detail, but I knew nothing about the storyline of Ghost Stories before I went to see it and that was what made it so engaging. Let’s just say that it involves a skeptical University Professor and a series of haunting stories.

Despite what the show promises, it won’t leave you disturbed for days. Instead it is rife with terrifying tension that may not stay with you long after you leave the theatre, but it sure as hell will get you in the moment. The acting is compelling and humor is key throughout, with the audience laughing just as often as they were yelping.

Just some of the media success that Ghost Stories has generated

What struck me most about Ghost Stories was how brilliantly clever it was. Obviously the mystery and media attention has helped considerably in getting the audience’s fear rising before they are even led to their seats, but once the show starts the techniques used to raise terror levels are fascinating. The audience becomes involved with the show immediately and this continues throughout, making us forget that we are, in fact, an audience in a theatre. Lighting and sound are used to their full effect, but it is the use of mind-numbing suspense that makes the show. It will drive you absolutely bonkers, but in the best possible way. Dare to blink and you might miss the moments of terror.

Ghost Stories is running at The Duke of York’s Theatre until June 2011. Click here for ticket info.

Bringing back the Freak Show: The Circus of Horrors

December 29, 2010

With horror movies getting sicker and gorier by the minute (I’m looking at you, A Serbian Film), today’s modern desensitized audience can find comfort in the fact that all of the slashing and chopping is shielded safely behind the television screen. Such movies have taken centre stage in the horror world and as a result horror as a live performance art, from 19th century French theatre Grand Guignol to the Rocky Horror Picture Show, is slowly becoming a forgotten form of entertainment. However, The Circus of Horrors are bringing live horror back to life with their 15th anniversary tour across the UK, The Four Chapters of Hell.

The Circus of Horrors: No Chavs Allowed — Copyright of the Circus of Horrors

The Circus of Horrors have been touring the UK with The Four Chapters of Hell since last Halloween, and will continue the next leg of the tour starting in mid January and ending in March. More tongue-in-cheek than all-out gore, the show combines talented trapeze artists, blood-drenched freaks and gross-out tricks in a shocking spectacle that is split into four sections and suitably set to a rock and roll soundtrack devised by Doktor Haze.

Haze: The leather-clad Master of the Circus — Copyright of the Circus of Horrors

The Doktor speaks
Born and bred in a circus, Haze is the self-described ‘un-dead ringmaster’ and brains behind The Circus of Horrors, which was created in 1995 and began by touring festivals. Interestingly, Haze cites theatrical rock as his main influence in becoming a horror performer: “I’m interested more so in theatrical performance rather than horror. People like Alice Cooper are to blame for that!” In his role as ringmaster, he sings his own songs and “controls the chaos” around him. It is clear that The Circus of Horrors is just as much a musical extravaganza as it is a theatrical performance. Haze is aware that most horror fans are into rock music and saw the opportunity to combine the two. But he is quick to stress that it is no cheesy musical. “It’s an alternative rock and roll circus,” Haze states, and he describes the show’s music as ‘tuneful metal.’ “It’s as much like Rob Zombie as it is like T-Rex,” he exclaims, indicating that rock music fans of all ages will love the show’s soundtrack.

Check out some of the music from the show here

Horror does occasionally make it onto the stage today, one example being Ghost Stories, the show that is currently playing in The Duke of York’s theatre in London. But The Circus of Horrors is in a league of its own. “Horror performance isn’t easy to do,” Haze admits. This may be the reason why The Circus of Horrors remains on top of its game, with genuinely talented performers from trapeze artists to sword swallowers. “There are more people going to see it now than ever before,” Haze states proudly. Indeed, the anniversary show has received high praise. Maria Smallcombe, who saw the show at the Oakengates theatre in Shropshire, states, “I’ve watched Cirque du Soleil, and The Circus of Horrors is up on par with that.”

Talented twisting trapeze — Copyright of the Circus of Horrors

Horror brought to life
The show is split into four ‘chapters’, beginning in a lunatic asylum set in the 1800s and finishing with a futuristic vision of a world controlled by the undead. As a live performance art, The Circus of Horrors takes full advantage of what horror films are incapable of doing: literally interacting with the audience. Haze believes that theatre can often be 2-dimensional. “The Circus of Horrors is a 4-D experience,” Haze states. “Things change when you set things on different levels onstage and start using the audience in the performance.” The performers choose volunteers (or perhaps I should call them victims) to partake. Haze laughs as he admits that 98% of the audience are terrified of being picked, but that there’s nothing to be frightened of. Maria Smallcombe claims, “You never know what’s coming next, but it’s not hardcore horror.” As Haze says, “They want to be scared but not harmed. We turn horror, which is a negative thing, into a positive thing that they can laugh about afterwards.”

Not for the faint-hearted — Copyright of the Circus of Horrors

When asked about his favorite part of the show, Haze indicates that The Circus of Horrors saves the best for last. “Near the end, during the future part of the show, all of the acts come back together onstage doing their party piece,” Haze says. In this part of the show each act shows off their talent to extreme measures. The sword-swallower gets his hands on an electric drill, and the contortionist does some impressive tricks with a bow and arrow.

See the full list of The Circus of Horrors YouTube clips here including interviews with Richard and Judy and performances from previous shows.

The Circus of Horrors takes what is usually hidden behind television and movie screens and shoves it proudly in your face. Whether you’re looking for a visual spectacle, hoards of blood and gore or just want to be shocked out of your skin, then the Circus of Horrors will satisfy your horror cravings. Check out the tour dates for 2011 here.

Ghoulish Glamour: Burlesque Cardiff brings horror to the stage

December 17, 2010

Burlesque is known for its tongue-in-cheek kitsch and over-the-top glamorous glittery corseted ladies who bare just the right amount of flesh. But this Christmas Burlesque Cardiff are bringing an alternative element to burlesque with their horror-themed show, The Nightmare before Christmas.

Burlesque remains one of the most popular forms of performance art in the UK since its revival in the 1990s. There is talk of a new burlesque club coming to Cardiff, and from shows like Club Noir in Glasgow to London Burlesque to the UK’s very own Burlesque Magazine, it looks like the act of the sultry tease is here to stay.

The brains behind the burlesque
Stephanie Gawne, aka Miss FooFoo La Belle, is a bubbly buxom blonde who created Burlesque Cardiff three years ago. Stephanie’s background is in musical theatre, and she has a pretty impressive resume: she has ridden elephants in circuses, performed in pantomimes and taught classes in everything from pilates to bellydancing. It was her background in cabaret and bellydancing that led her to become interested in the burlesque revival.

Stephanie, aka FooFoo la Belle, of Burlesque Cardiff at rehearsals for the Christmas show

“I like the idea of having the themes and characterisation,” says Stephanie on her reasons for loving burlesque. She decided to set up burlesque workshops in Cardiff for Dita Von Teese wannabes. “There was a definite niche in the market,” Stephanie remembers, “for somebody who could set up classes that people could come to and do routines for any age and any body type, to make up a kind of crazy completely eclectic little chorus.” Stephanie’s ‘eclectic little chorus’ of students now join her onstage as the stars of Burlesque Cardiff’s live shows.

The ladies of Burlesque Cardiff finish up a day of rehearsals

Stephanie relishes picking themes for Burlesque Cardiff’s performances. “We started off doing generic themes, but I realised we were repeating ourselves, and Cardiff is quite a small place,” says Stephanie. This led her to make the themed shows more specific. “We once did a Welsh themed show,” Stephanie laughs, revealing a glittering tongue stud. “That went down really well!” Other previous shows include a sci-fi theme, a retro 1940s show and the Toy Emporium, which Stephanie says featured a mix of “warped childhood memories”. Next year’s show is set to be an 80s themed performance, entitled Back to the Future.

Click to hear what Burlesque performers Belladonna Bliss and Miss Betty Blue Eyes love about the art of burlesque.

BurlesqueCardiff by hannahmayk

The dark side of burlesque
Stephanie reveals that many of her performance pieces can be quite dark, including performances influenced by Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride and the character of Pris from Blade Runner. In their upcoming show, The Nightmare before Christmas, Burlesque Cardiff are focusing on the dark side of burlesque. The decision to incorporate horror into burlesque at Christmas rather than at Halloween is an unusual move, but this is exactly why Stephanie chose to do so. “I came up with the idea over the summer. We’d just done the Toy Emporium, which was very kitsch. We wanted to do something a bit more edgy.” The concept is more popular than expected, and Stephanie states that she has heard of other burlesque troupes putting on Nightmare before Christmas shows, one such example being the Nightmare before Christmas Zombie Burlesque show in London. “I think people are getting bored of the kitsch, cutesy Christmas shows,” Stephanie muses.

Horror and burlesque are a common collaboration and Stephanie believes that this is particularly down to the influence of Gothic horror. The iconography of early black and white movies has had a significant influence on the burlesque revival. “There is a definite link to the horror,” Stephanie says. “Gothic looking women, vampires, tight corsets and heaving breasts: there is a lot of sexuality behind it.”

Burlesque Cardiff vamp it up

Cardiff’s Nightmare before Christmas
The Nightmare before Christmas show is much more than just a stage performance. Rather than a homage to the film of the same name, it will feature a series of non-linear burlesque sketches. As well as performances from Foo Foo herself and many of her former students, who have taken on stage names like Belladonna Bliss and Miss Betty Blue Eyes, there will be a number of other forms of entertainment throughout the night. These include guest performer Misty Fire from Leeds and comedian Owen Niblock, ‘the master of all geekdom’. Rogora Khart will provide the music for the after party, and there will be a range of stalls selling burlesque clothes and jewellery, as well as a professional photographer and cakes.

Stephanie is careful not to reveal too much about the show herself, although she admits to being a bit nervous about her new solo. “I haven’t done this solo in public before,” she states, “But I’ll be happy if I get a reaction and it goes down well. It’s a bit of a crazy idea!” The show is being performed on December 22 at Guildford Hall, and unfortunately sold out two weeks in advance. This is only a further example of how burlesque is still as popular as ever, particularly when it has an alternative edge.

Fancy joining the troupe?
If you are interested in becoming involved with Burlesque Cardiff, contact FooFoo either on Facebook, through her website or through the Burlesque Cardiff Website.