Buffy the Vampire Slayer – 20 Years On…

Unless you’ve been spending the past twenty years living with your eyes shut, fingers in your ears, under a rock on Neptune, you will have at the very least heard of the legendary television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Created by revered geek God Joss Whedon it follows the life of Buffy Summers (played by Buffy Summers), the latest in a long line of Slayers. Slayers are young women chosen by fate to protect the world from the forces of darkness. Buffy is mentored by her watcher Rupert Giles (played by Anthony Stewart Head) and supported by her friends Xander (played by Nicholas Brendon) and Willow (played by Alyson Hannigan.) Through the series she grows from a self-involved, immature 16 year old girl pining for normality into a mature, battle hardened 22 year old woman ready to share her power.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is far more than a standard horror show with all kind of demons and “oogily boogilys”. It’s a show about a young woman trying to balance her regular life as Buffy and her duties as a Slayer. The show explored a variety of themes and issues in ways that had never been done before in television history and evolved as it went on. Characters revolving around the core four Scoobie Gang members came and went ensnaring our hearts and imaginations as they did. It made a massive impact on me as a viewer. As someone who watched it when it aired in the UK, I grew up gaining not only an enjoyable show I enjoy rewatching regularly but also a show that taught me valuable things I would hold forever. Here are some things that made Buffy the Vampire Slayer a force to be reckoned with.

The presence of strong female characters

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Buffy Summers was a tough, determined woman of immense physical and mental strength that was also humanly flawed. None would doubt her status as a strong female character but she is, by far, not the only strong female character. Willow ends up becoming one of the most powerful magical forces in the universe with incredible intelligence and a spirit that cannot be destroyed. Cordelia may have been at odds with Buffy at numerous occasions but her resilience and her straight forward manner made her a force to be reckoned with on both Buffy and the spin-off Angel. Even Buffy’s little sister Dawn showed potential at the end of the show’s run. Shows and films centered around strong female characters have become more prevalent ever since. Arguably there would be no Katniss Everdeen or Veronica Mars without Buffy Summers.

It’s exploration of LGBTQ+ relationships

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Whilst LGBTQ+ couples are starting to become more common on television, most people forget that it was still very taboo when Buffy the Vampire Slayer began. In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres lost her career after receiving a lot of backlash for coming out as a lesbian on her sitcom. Only 3 years after that, Joss Whedon brought in a female love interest for Willow after the departure of her boyfriend Oz. Resistance came from the WB network who were very restrictive on what Willow and Tara could/couldn’t do on screen. Whilst UPN was more relaxed, it was still controversial to show anything beyond kissing between couples of the same gender despite their heterosexual counterparts getting free reign. Despite this, Willow and Tara became one of the most popular couples in the series and touched the hearts of many LGBTQ+ audience members. Willow and Tara were the first long-time lesbian couple on an American television series and whilst LGBTQ+ representation still has a long way to go, this was a great start.

Exploration of masculinity

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For a story revolving around a strong teenage girl, there is great commentary about different forms of masculinity that go against the patriarchal grain. Xander Harris was the cool-to-be-uncool nerd whose uncanny ability of perception gained him key insight at times of crisis whilst Giles was the protective father who would fight anyone who threatened the safety of his children. Even Buffy’s love interests – Angel, Riley, and Spike – were all three dimensional characters with their own agency despite their flaws. The misogynistic characters that came to stop Buffy always got their comeuppance whether it was in the form of ball splitting death or a more metaphorical character destruction. This really aids the general feminist message that Buffy the Vampire Slayer prided itself on.

It’s had some of the best crafted episodes of any television series ever

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Some credit The Sopranos as one of the first television shows that made television an art form but really Buffy the Vampire Slayer did it first. It’s rich variety of episode moods really put itself apart from its contemporaries. One moment you can be watching a comedic episode like “Band Candy” or “Superstar”, the next you can be crying your heart out to gut wrenching emotional episodes like “Becoming” or “?”. There are three episodes that really stand up for their technical and artistic achievements: “Hush” for spending 2/3s of the running time with no dialogue, “The Body” for creating a compelling story about the death of a significant character without a score and “Once More With Feeling” as a sublime musical episode reminiscent of the golden age of musical films. They have paved the way for other television shows to be ambitious and ground breaking.

Its community-based form of feminism was revolutionary

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All too commonly female characters are seen to strip each other down in typically patriarchal ways whether it’s fighting over the affection of a man or cutting each other down for the sake of coming out on top. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was different. It taught women that strength is not just physical and that working together in mutual support will yield better results and more victories. The final season was a perfect reflection of this with Buffy and Faith sharing their abilities and powers with the potentials in order to win against The First evil, their biggest adversary. In the political climate of not only the UK but across the world, we need this brand of feminism in order to bring a more equal world.

For me, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was a major influence in not only my personal life but in my writing life. It gave me an active sense of encouragement to be as honest and hard working as possible regardless of what obstacles come to me. In the face of an incredibly dark period, Buffy the Vampire Slayer helped me get back in touch with my emotions. I and many others would not be the writers we are today.

For that, I thank Joss Whedon and everyone else who made Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

“Why Can’t You Make Nice Romances?” – Ben Parker speaks The Chamber

Film is about exploration. Whether that’s exploring your identity or your goals and dreams, the stories that we put on the big screen are usually an unearthed element of ourselves, especially as filmmakers and writers.
For Ben Parker, director of chilling thriller The Chamber, he used film to explore his fear – claustrophobia. The film revolves around a military mission that goes awry causing a submarine to sink to the bottom of the North Korean seabed.

Ahead of The Chamber’s release today, we spoke to Parker at the Glasgow Film Festival to speak about his tense underwater fright.

How are you?

I’m OK. Excited to be here (at Glasgow Film Festival,) I’ve been here a few times but to be showing a film, that’s really terrific.

You’re at Glasgow Film Festival and had a successful run at FrightFest how does the response feel?

The reception has been welcoming. It was a little contentious being FrightFest as it’s more a thriller than a horror but audiences really got the tension and the atmosphere.
How did the story of The Chamber come about?

I am very claustrophobic and the idea came from tapping into that. Thinking “this would freak me out filming it” and I just went for it.

The kernel of the main story, however, came from stories my uncle used to tell me. He was a pilot in the military and told me tales of a giant squid on the sand. That idea got stuck in the back of my mind.

Not only that, but there were all these geopolitics happening  that was menacing. It got me thinking about “how are we going to deal with it.” I wrote it during the Obama administration and it was inspired by the use of drones.

All those three things combined and it grew this piece about what would happen if you were lost in the worst place ….

Interview for The Chamber with Director Ben Parker and Cast Members Charlotte Salt and Johannes Kuhnke

How difficult was it work with water?

We made our own water tank and it was a fantastic set by John Moger. It was black and getting into the void was pretty freaky. We were surrounded by it all and it felt disconnected or that we were in space. I chose to accept the latter feeling.

It was also great to be in the same situation as the actors and feeling the vibe. We shot in real time so the emotions and the unravelling happened realistically. At the end of shooting, we were feeling tired and water-logged.

How did you develop the tension of the single location? What other single location films were you inspired by?

(Slight spoilers for The Vanishing)

I was more inspired by The Vanishing and the events that lead up to being in the coffin and buried in the ground. Buried was less about how he ended up there and I wanted to expand upon the events leading up to it. But it’s interesting how they keep it engaging for an hour and a half .

Our DOP made the decision to keep a fluid motion with the movements and characters. I’m not a massive fan of shaky came but having the camera slowly bobbing makes each shot different and interesting.

An overall influence is Dead Calm, that sinking yacht was a tense moment.

How difficult is it shooting a film like this on a low budget?

A large portion was getting the bespoke tank and being able to film with the water. It was a balancing act with the budget. But everyone was like “I want to do it, let’s figure it out.”

Interview for The Chamber with Director Ben Parker and Cast Members Charlotte Salt and Johannes Kuhnke
How was casting, you’d have to get everyone right?

It was very important. There was four of them and you never leave them. You have to get the right mix of people. Johannes Kuhoke as Mats was just fantastic. We’ve all seen Force Majeure so seeing him as the straight guy, the hero, and what he can convey without any words and with just looks was astonishing. There’s a raw energy you get through the camera lens. Charlotte Salt is a wonderful character . She starts off as somewhat of an antagonist and just changes into a protagonist and it’s a credit to the actress that she can do that and make it believable.

What’s next?

We’re working on a couple of things. With STUDIOCANAL releasing The Chamber it has opened a couple of doors. I have a thriller I’m developing set in the Second World War.

With all this taut thrillers, my mum’s worried. She’s always asking:

“Why can’t you make a nice romance?”

But lucky for us, Parker has made one of the better thrillers of the year. 

The Chamber is out in cinemas now.

Atomic Blonde – Brand New Trailer!

All you need to know about this film is that Charlize Theron and James McAvoy are in it. Together.

Oh you want more?

OK. Atomic Blonde revolves around one of the deadliest assassins on the hunt by other bad guys.

I’m going to leave the quantifying of the film to this quote on Facebook:

“Violence check! Nude Charlize scenes check! Action kicking butts check! Lesbo kissing scenes check! Stalinskaya vodka check! Queen soundtrack check!”  

There’s an element of full on male gaze but I am completely ready for this film. Largely because I have faith in the director and the people at the centre of it. If anything, it looks like a lot of fun. Like the female version of John Wick (funnily enough, JW director David Leitch chairs this too), I just want this movie in and around my eyeballs.

What do you think?

Atomic Blonde is out in July 

Seoul Station – Brand New Trailer!

Train to Busan is a fantastically tense film that manages to breathe new life back into the zombie genre… figuratively speaking. Whilst the film was critically acclaimed, what was equally interesting was the build up to the events of the film.

This is where Seoul Station comes in. The animated film acts as a prequel to the main event and shows a father, his daughter and her boyfriend as they attempt to find each other as Seoul starts showing signs of an outbreak.

The animation looks beautiful and there is plenty of gore and thrills to keep you entertained in the trailer for the prequel.

To make things even more exciting, both Seoul Station and Train to Busan are being shown in certain cinemas as a double feature, giving you the full experience in the best place to watch films.

If you’re still on the fence, check out the trailer down below!

Seoul Station and Train to Busan double feature tickets are available here!

Seoul Station is out on Blu-Ray and DVD April 14th!

Fast 8 – Brand New Trailer!

It’s fairly safe to say that the Fast and Furious franchise probably has a check sheet for what goes into their films nowadays, and yet despite the by the numbers approach to making the films, the series has gone from strength to strength.

You really don’t need to watch the latest trailer for Fast & Furious 8. You’ll have seen it all before and if you aren’t a fan of the anthology, it’s very unlikely that it will win you over.

If you’re still intrigued, I’ll sum it up thusly;

Cars, cars, cars, small bit of expository dialogue, cars, explosion, tense moment where it looks like all is lost or has gone wrong somehow, cars, cars, explosion, title of the film.

There you go, now you can get on with your day, safe in the knowledge that you have saved three minutes to do something else. Might I suggest making a cup of tea and reflecting on your life?

Fast & Furious 8 is out in cinemas April 12th!