The Craft – An Introduction

Here is the transcript of Darrell Buxton’s introduction to The Craft from Friday 29th July 2016. Next up on The Fringe’s screening schedule are two film over the weekend of the 12-14th August. First up is Crossing The Streams 80’s night with a cinema showing for the classic coming of age film STAND BY ME on Friday 12th then Darrell and Fright Club return on the Saturday 13th with an introduced screening of the new Turkish horror film BASKIN. See you there.

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Hello and welcome to QUAD for our latest Fright Club presentation. Every month Fright Club strives to bring you the best in horror cinema, either with the most exciting new movies or reviving a classic from the past – and tonight we’re going to put a spell on you, as we present that mid-nineties pot pourri of potions, incantations and transformations, THE CRAFT.

It’s hard to believe that THE CRAFT is twenty years old, isn’t it? I was thirty three when it first came out, which gives away my age now, and even back then people like me were the ‘wrong’ audience for this one. Hollywood showed a bit of daring and originality for once, trying something different and attempting to tap into the teenage, female market with THE CRAFT. It wasn’t a sizeable hit at the time but it’s safe to say that it picked up a very keen cult following among those who did venture to see it. As a big horror fan and regular cinemagoer, I paid my ticket money back then but must admit I wasn’t expecting much  – horror was going through a fairly bland phase in the 90s, and although this movie looked to have plenty of appeal for young girls, I’m not a young girl. Within seconds of the start, though, I was hooked – both by the striking, grunge-lite version of the Beatles’ ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, by Our Lady Peace, and by the tantalising flashes of strange, arcane rituals presented on screen.

 

The film’s soundtrack is worth dwelling on for a moment – as well as that ‘offbeat in more ways than one’ Lennon/McCartney cover, there’s also Love Spit Love’s take on The Smiths’ hymn to alienation and angst, ‘How Soon Is Now’, as well as contributions from the likes of Portishead, Elastica, Juliana Hatfield, Matthew Sweet, and – perhaps inevitably – Siouxsie and the Banshees.

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On to the movie itself. The film industry could be accused of assuming that girls don’t like horror, but offerings ranging from CARRIE and GINGER SNAPS, to the new GHOSTBUSTERS, and the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ TV series, are prominent among the ever-increasing examples of supernaturally-themed offerings with a more feminine bias. Indeed, female directors are becoming more and more visible in the realm of the fright flick, with Catherine Hardwicke taking the reins on TWILIGHT, Karyn Kusama helming the criminally underrated JENNIFER’S BODY, the Soska sisters offering AMERICAN MARY and DEAD HOOKER IN A TRUNK, and Kimberly Peirce handling the 2013 CARRIE remake starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore. In this respect, THE CRAFT can be seen as a trailblazer, perhaps ahead of its time in attempting to locate a different audience for horror.

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THE CRAFT could easily have gone down the cliche route, and begins with a father and his teenage daughter moving to a new town, the set up for a million lame would-be shockers in the past. But as it develops the movie reveals itself as being rather refreshing, and possessing a plot that doesn’t always quite progress in the accepted fashion. For instance, outsider characters like the adolescent coven here are often portrayed as shy and reserved in a school setting or home town environment, but these young women are brash, confident and empowered. No matter how sorry and sympathetic you felt for Carrie White, you probably didn’t want to be her – but our quartet here are sassy, loud, and never depressed or downtrodden despite the typical cliquey bitchiness constantly aimed in their direction. There’s an enthusiasm and a joy to the spirited performances – and how THE CRAFT didn’t make Fairuza Balk a superstar and the poster girl for a troubled generation, I don’t know. She’s an absolute whirlwind in the part of the main witch, Nancy, taking no shit from anyone and having a great time being dark and twisted. Tell you what, if Hollywood had had the guts to cast a woman in a certain prominent role ten years ago, don’t you think she’d have been perfect taunting Batman as The Joker in THE DARK NIGHT? There’s currently talk that Sony are preparing a belated sequel to THE CRAFT – and not surprisingly, Fairuza has had her say about the prospect, tweeting in May last year that “FYI – I did not say I thought remaking THE CRAFT specifically was a bad idea – I said remakes – IN GENERAL- tend to be a bad idea”. Make whatever you wish to out of that…

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Among the fearsome foursome we’ve also got Neve Campbell, quite the horror queen in 1996 as she also starred in the first of the SCREAM franchise that year; Robin Tunney, later to find TV fame with ‘Prison Break’ and ‘The Mentalist’; and Rachel True, whose CV ought to endear her to Fright Clubbers as it includes 2014’s BLOOD LAKE: ATTACK OF THE KILLER LAMPREYS and the same year’s SHARKNADO 2: THE SECOND ONE. The costume design by Deborah Everton deserves a mention; look at how our “Bitches of Eastwick” are clad in the same school uniform as their classmates – on the jock guys and the blonde cheerleader types, it looks like school uniform, but Sarah, Nancy, Rochelle and Bonnie wear it well, turning their boring blazers and plaid skirts into a fashion statement akin to goth fetish gear.

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THE CRAFT starts out innocently with a few quiet magic tricks, spells used for petty revenge, playful levitation fun, even makeovers – but beware, things may get out of control as the story develops. You may wish to join the witchy ladies in their statement of self-assessment, “we are the weirdos, mister”, or even in their sinister elemental chant – “Earth, air, fire, water”. But whatever you see, hear or experience in the movie tonight – don’t try it at home…

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