By Jez Conolly & Emma Westwood
Published: July 2021, published by Auteur (Constellations imprint)
Paperback & Hardback editions
Seconds (1966), John Frankenheimer’s criminally overlooked monolith of paranoia, is part science fiction, part body horror, and part noir thriller cum black comedy. It’s a film at the intersection of the post-McCarthy mindset, European art cinema, the suburban identity nightmares of The Twilight Zone and the mid-life crises of masculinity aroused by 1960s counterculture.
Arguably the bleakest mainstream Hollywood film ever made, it was famously booed at its Cannes unveiling and a box office failure upon release. And while the film’s critical reception has gradually improved throughout the wider science fiction film community, it remains surprisingly under-appreciated.
This Constellation celebrates the film’s many attributes, from its stylistic significance to its political commentary. In so doing, it counters the film’s rejection, arguing that Seconds turned its inner identity crisis from a vice to a virtue. In the spirit of the finest SF, it is both emblematic of its time and perpetually relevant to new audiences as a portent of things to come – or, for that matter, a startling reveal of the hidden here and now.
By Emma Westwood
Published: November 2018, published by Auteur (Devil’s Advocates imprint)
It’s not often a remake can outshine its original but, for a legion of film aficionados, David Cronenberg’s ‘reimagining’ of The Fly (1986) could arguably be one of those rare exceptions. Part-horror/part-science-fiction/part-romance, Cronenberg’s The Fly was close to abandonment at every turn of the Hollywood machine yet rose against the odds to become Twentieth Century Fox’s unanticipated smash for that year, earning classic status in the process and an Academy Award for Best Makeup for its unparalleled special effects.
Utilising real-world scientific development as its dramatic device, the filmmakers took the 1958 premise of The Fly – a man unintentionally fused with a housefly during an experiment in teleportation – and reinterpreted the plot as metamorphosis of these two organisms at a genetic level. Similarly, this book delves into ‘the DNA’ of Cronenberg’s The Fly, and how it represents not only the stories and lineage of its many authors but also a distinguished history of God-complex films and literature stretching back to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. While simple in form, The Fly is as profound as storytelling itself, and fascinating in how it says so much with seemingly so little.
Drawing from interviews with its cast, crew and other film commentators, author Emma Westwood intertwines the ‘making of’ tale of The Fly with a number of theoretical considerations, demonstrating the importance of The Fly as social commentary and proof that so-called ‘auteurism’ can be borne from the talents of many chefs (and not spoil the broth).
Read a review of THE FLY by Niina Doherty at Diabolique online.
By Emma Westwood
Published: 23rd July 2008, publisher Pocket Essentials
A spine-chilling celebration of cinema’s ultimate tales of terror…
Featuring exclusive filmmaker interviews with ROGER CORMAN, JOHN CARPENTER, LARRY COHEN, BONG JOON-HO, GREG McLEAN, RYUHEI KITMAMURA and ADAM SIMON
From the year dot, things that go bump in the night have coloured our collective storytelling experience. The hypothetical ‘monster’, in whatever guise or otherworldly shape it may take, is the manifestation of our fears and social paranoias, and an effective watchdog for making sure we all toe the line.
Through literature, the monster has found a lasting legacy but, through cinema, it has developed from black & white into full Technicolor glory making the monster movie an enduring document of social times, movements, fears and desires. This book peels back the flesh on a few monsters that have tingled our spines and caused more than a nightmare over the past 100 years.
Praise for Monster Movies
“Emma Westwood knows her movie monsters.” Rue Morgue Magazine (Canada)
“Support Emma Westwood by buying this book so that she will be able to write a ‘coffee table’ book on monster movies. You will be glad you did.” Shriekfreak Quarterly (USA)
“Emma has produced the handiest guide to monster flicks ever. I was so impressed that I brought her in to write for Fangoria.com.” Scott Licina, Vice President, Fangoria Entertainment (USA)
“The perspective of a horror fan rather that ‘just’ a writer.” horrornews.net
“Essential is indeed what this book is.” Morpheus Tales (UK)
“[Westwood] writes enthusiastically about her subject and her love for all things terrifying.” netribution.co.uk
“Excellent.” themonstersnextdoor.com (USA)
“Wonderfully wicked discourses.” Shriekfreak Quarterly (USA)