Saturday, 31 January 2009

The Sepia Selection

Right, we now have a new line of designs based on sepia photographs from the site. See them here -

Plus we've added a couple of new designs to the Lucidity range and had a big reorganise of our shops. Plus you can now buy all our designs on t-shirts, mousepads, postcards and greetings cards. And don't forget with Zazzle you can customise products too!

And now we've got all the cocking about with the shops sorted we'll be back to adding new pages to the main site very soon! Honest!

Friday, 30 January 2009


As you might have guessed from this blog's sidebar of linkage, I listen to alot of podcasts. The great thing about podcasts is that they are content I can consume while working, and having a rack of shows to listen to certainly helps while away the hours sweating in Photoshop and Dreamweaver. Indeed I now listen so many podcasts, one of this New Year's resolutions was to make time to listen to more music again.

So I thought I start throwing in reviews of some of my favourite shows, and first up is Cinerama. This 'cast is, as you can probably guess from it's title, a weekly movie show hosted by the very affable Ian Loring. Each week he has in-depth reviews of the latest releases and a round-up of the latest trailers and movie news. Plus there's often a Top 5 list and the Marathon Review in which Ian watches a selection of films by a particular director over several weeks. Previous subjects in this section have included Michael Haeke, the Coen Brothers and Dario Argento.

The show superbly balances intelligent discussion with witty banter and covers the full range of cinema from arthouse, through the mainstream right down to schlock. Generally the shows run at an hour plus which will give some indication of the detail Ian goes into for the reviews. He's a great presenter, never pretentious but always passionate and serving up his comments with a large side order of humour. He had the great ability to talk seriously and at length about the art of cinema without ever losing the perspective of the ordinary movie-goer. To give you an idea of how talented he is as a broadcaster, when he recently floated the idea of having a co-host a great many of his listeners e-mailed in against the idea, fearing the Voice of Loring would be diluted!
Though the best testament to his skills is that I have gone to see movies I might well have passed by thanks to his glowing reviews.

Cinerama is a great show and if you like cinema, you should really subscribe. For me it's the best weekly show on current movies. You can find Cinerama on Itunes or click the link on the right and paste the address into your favourite podcatcher!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Yet more new products

Annoucing the birth of HYPNOMUGS!

Not content with cards and t-shirts, we are now offering our designs on a range of mugs! So now you can take tea with Graf Orlock or brew up with the Lord of the Woods!

And you can choose from a range of diferent mug styles and colour schemes with the Customise buttons.

(For some reason, the galleries insist on showing the mugs side-on as a default view - either click the small inset picture at the bottom right or click to the whole image to go to the individual's mug page to see the designs properly.)

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Hypnogoria Cards

We've expanded into greetings cards and postcards with our new Hypnocards line! We are gradually converting all our design lines into cards plus there's some new designs like the one above. Check them out at
A few more examples follow...

Greetings cards

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

New Pages

Here's a bunch of new pages to find in WOODWITCHES over at Hypnogoria. And for those of you wondering what the hell Tom was alluding to in the Foreword with that crack about a young Mortimer, the full text of the short story 'Midnight Express' has been linked for your delectation! It's a proper old school chiller which seriously messed with my head when I first read it many years ago in Peter Haining's wonderful anthology 'Deadly Nightshade'. And if you are into classic weird fiction, we've also hidden links to the texts of MR James's 'The Ash-Tree' and HP Lovecraft's 'The Hound' in the subtext pages of the poems. Happy hunting :).

Friday, 16 January 2009


When I first heard about Brick, a film noir set in a modern Californian high school, I assumed it would be somewhat like Cluesless that moved Jane Austen to the same setting in a light and frothy fashion. How wrong I was! But I was highly delighted to discover that Brick is no shallow pastiche, but a full throttle, hard as nails, modern noir.
The idea maybe a simple one - transposing the noir genre into a contemporary setting, but first time director and screenwriter Rian Johnson really runs with it, creating a powerful and complex film. Sure, it's bleak and downbeat but hell, this is a noir after all. His passion for the likes of Dashiell Hammett and all things hard-boiled really shines through, and his deft sense of plotting, dialogue and pacing show he has learnt well from the masters.
The plot follows Brendan (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who after recieving a call from a distressed ex-girlfriend, discovers her body dumped in a storm drain and sets out to uncover the truth. His journey takes him through the seedy underworld of the high school, meeting unsavory characters and femme fatales and, in true noir/hard-boiled fashion, getting seven shades of the proverbial kicked out of him on a regular basis - none of which will deter him from cracking the case.
Now it might seem like shearing noir from its trademark rain-washed streets, smoky bars and grimy allyways is a recipe for disaster. And indeed in the hands of a less talented director swapping the classic dark and seedy setting for sunny skies and ordinary Americana would be. However in Johnson's capable hands the endless sunshine becomes as bleak and atmospheric as the classic tropes of the genre . The brightness and wide open spaces underline the darkness of the story and at the same time reflected the burnt out emotions of the characters, the bleached out meanings of modern life and the banality of the evils in their world.
Another inspired choice is having the characters speak in classic noir style -
"I betcha you got every rat in town together and said show your hands if any of 'em actually seen the Pin, we'd get a crowd of full pockets.”
Again this shouldn't work, but it does. Beautifully. The rhythms of noir-speak somehow mirror the tweaked argot of high schoolers and sounds natural coming from the characters. Partly this is down to superb performances all round, but largely is to do with the sheer skill of that has gone into crafting the dialogue. In these days of jump cuts, frenetic editing and soundbite scripting, it's a real delight to have a film like Brick that is so deliberately and wonderfully verbose.
In short then, this movie is a real gem harking back to past classic while creating something fresh, new and uncompromising. What's more the complexities of the story line and the eloquence of the dialogue make this movie one that can be enjoyed many times over. Rian Johnson is a man to watch and I'm really looking forward to his next movie The Brothers Bloom,
which is due out later this year.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

The League of Gentlemen (1960)

You may have thrilled to Alan Moore's cross-over caper and laughed atthe dark doing in Royston Vasey, but now meet the movie where they pilfered their monkers from!

It's 1960 and London is still suffering the gloom of the the post war period and is still years away from transforming its colourful swinging late '60s self. And across the capital, a band of ex-military men who have strayed from the straight and narrow each recieve a mysterious invitation...

The League of Gentlemen is a quintessential British heist/caper movie which delivers plenty of thrills and a good many laughs along the way. It's one of those movies which will pertpetually enjoys a Sunday afternoon slot on TV. Indeed it was in such a slot, where I first encountered it one rainy afternoon many moons ago. Naturally this film with it's intriguing tale of a motely crew of military men attempting to outfox the forces of law and order made a big impression at the time - for a growing lad a film that delivered a cops and robbers yarn where the robbers were soldiers was a dream ticket.

And I'm pleased to say that the movie still holds up today. But interestingly watching it now reveals The League of Gentlemen to have a good deal more going on than just crime capers. There's a very strong social commentary unpinning the hijinx of which my younger self was completely unaware.

To begin with one of the characters Captain Stevens (played by Kieron Moore) is obviously gay and is being being blackmailed. At this time homosexuality was still illegal in Britain, and such blackmail was all too common. Nor is Stevens alone, another of gang, Captain "Padre" Mycroft (Roger Livesey) has "gross indecency in a public place" on his CV which maybe a reference to cottaging, and Nigel Patrick's debonair but disgraced Major Peter Race, who refers to other chaps as 'old darling' and has been living at YMCA, may well be gay also. What's remarkable though is the matter of fact way the film deals with this; it offers no moral judgements and furthermore these characters are presented sympathetically as likeable fellows and played with the usual limp wristed camp and effeminacy that was typical in this period. (Interestingly the film does feature this queer stereotype in one scene which features an early and uncredited appearance by a young Oliver Reed who camps it up to the nines).

Also it is worth noting the reasons why Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Hyde (Jack Hawkins) puts together the plan for the heist. Here is a man who had served his country in war-time only to find the post-war years have left him unvalued and disillustioned about the land and the society he fought for. In many ways, the gang he assembles, with their diverse reasons for leaving the straight and narrow, shines a spotlight into the shadows of 1950s British society.

It is such elements coupled with a cracking story and a brilliant ensemble cast that really elevate The League of Gentlemen. It wonderfully evokes it's time and delivers an exciting adventure with humour and suspense. There are some marvellous comic scenes and director Basil Dearden wisely keeps us in the dark as to what the plan for the robbery actually is until it occurs on screen. It's a textbook example of how to mix humour and action and obviously influenced a great many later works, such as the The Italian Job.

In short, it's a classic slice of British cinema, packed with wit and intelligence and well worth checking out.

Let The Right One In

Some of you may have already heard about this film as it's built up quite a buzz on the festival circuit, but for those of you who haven't Let The Right One In is a 2008 Swedish film about a touching friendship built by two lonely children, Oskar and Eli. However the twist is that Eli is a vampire...

Now I'm not going to say anymore about the plot. Although I could happily write pages and pages discussing and analysising it, doing so would involve massive spoilers and really you want to see this film as fresh as possible.

However what I will say is that this film is hands down the best films I saw all last year. Yes better than The Dark Knight or Iron Man, better No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood. Yes it is a horror movie, but it's also a whole lot more. It has all the intelligence and beauty of the best of the arthouse while still being a proper full blooded vampire story. It does for vampirism what Pan's Labyrinth did for fairy tales and what Wings of Desire does for angels. It is - and I don't use these words lightly - a modern masterpiece of cinema and, at the same time, one of the best vampire films ever made. It brilliantly melds high art with horror and creates something truly special.

Unlike so many horror films these days it doesn't rely on gore or jump scares to deliver the chills. And what's more it's not shot consciously like a scary movie. In the same way Pan's Labyrinth meshes the fantastic with the real world, Let The Right One In creates a very naturalistic version of a small Swedish suburb which just happens to include a vampire. So when the supernatural scenes occur they are utterly believable. It takes vampirism back to its roots and makes it actually frightening again. It is the perfect antidote to all the post Anne Rice sensual fops and the bumpy forehead street punk goons with magic ninja skills which have watered down the concept of the vampire in recent years.

However the genius of this film isn't just about the horror, it's real focus is the friends between Oskar and Eli. Their story is genuinely touching and is told with an honesty that you rarely find in films detailing the lives of children. And it is their friendship and it's implications that will linger in your mind.

It's beautifully shot and the performances are excellent - the two leads are remarkably both first-time actors too. I really can't find any niggles to highlight in this film. It's wonderfully constructed, no make that crafted, piece of cinema. And it's power comes from the fact that it manages to resolve it's story beautifully and yet after the wonderful closing scene you will be full of questions about the story and be wondering what the future holds for the characters.

Some additional in for for you - the film is based on a novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist., who also penned the screenplay. And having just finished reading the book, which I also highly recommend, I must say that he and director Tomas Alfredson have done a brilliant job of bring it to the silver screen. Naturally there is a good deal of material which didn't make it into the film. Apparently this was partly down to the limitations of film running time but also they felt excluding some material made for a better cinematic experience. Most of what they chose not to include would have damaged some of the film's impact I feel by removing certain areas of ambiguity.

Therefore, for those of you interested, I would recommend seeing the film before reading the novel, which contains some of the answers to the lingering questions. But it also includes a major subplot not in the film which culminates in a truly jaw dropping fashion.

So far Let The Right One In has had a very limited US release but is set for UK release in April. Now I saw this by those fabled Other Means but rest assured I'll be first in line when it plays theatrically as I really want to see this on the big screen.

Seriously if you love film, see this movie. Don't be put off by either the arthouse or horror aspects, just see it and enjoy a film that transcends petty genre boundaries.

Monday, 12 January 2009

New Design Line - Woodwitches

Belated Happy New Year

Somewhat belatedly wishing you all out there a very Happy New Year!

Yes I know it's been somewhat quiet here for a bit but I've been suffering with an awful sinus infection which has been keeping me away from the computer. But I have been lounging on the sofa swigging Lemsip and watching alot of movies so expect a flurry of reviews this week...

In other news, over at our main site we've launched a new range of designs. Examples follow...