Alongside Robert Englund the other huge guest at Frightfest 2014 was the legendary comic book legend and famed adaptation hater Alan Moore, teaming up with renowned photographer Mitch Jenkins to produce the surreal and darkly comic horror anthology Show Pieces. Taking into account Moore’s working class origins there’s a morbid sense of humour in staging the majority of the film in the nightmarish purgatory of Northampton working men’s club. While it was pitched as a straight horror anthology in three segments – “Act of Faith”, “Jimmy’s End” and “His Heavy Heart” – unlike V/H/S: Viral all stories are cleverly interlinked and exist within the same macabre universe.
The first section “Act of Faith” is a beautifully shot account of a young women named Faith who is sexually frustrated, turning to asphyxiation to get her kicks with her lover acting as a paramedic. From there we meet James in “Jimmys End”, a philanthropist who stumbles into a seedy looking bar and it is in this section of the movie that Show Pieces becomes interesting, with Moore combining his themes of judgement, penance and mysticism into a League of Gentleman styled exploration of mundane British culture through eclectic and disturbing horror characters. By the time ‘His Heavy Heart’ arrives Moore has taken us down the psychological rabbit hole into a disturbingly comic scenario, introducing the character Jimmy to the judging, abusive Bobbles the Clown (Andrew Buckley) who manages to balance sinister, calm and funny in his ‘everyday’ Yorkshire accent. By this point the tone has shifted drastically from mystery to plain facts and harsh truths pulling back the curtain on the beautiful burlesque world we were previously lost in to a tonally heavy dialogue between the ‘judge’ and ‘the judged’.
While Frightfest’s programming of British horror often showcases British produced films aping commercial American conventions, the best thing about Moore and Jenkin’s feature is a distinct sense of place, with the static drudgery of working class England given a magical face-lift through theatrical production design, memorable characters and borrowed elements from The Twilight Zone and Christmas Carol. As a work for hard-core Moore fans but also with wider appeal, Show Pieces is a truly imaginative work and although the bearded sage Moore is a self – confessed moany old git when it comes to adaptations, Show Pieces is something that he and Mitch Jenkins can be proud of. With a Halloween release set for the film, excitingly the Moore / Jenkins collaboration will continue with a crowd-funding campaign for a feature film set directly after the events of Show pieces and a plans for a TV series based on the potential success of the feature.
While Moore’s intricate literary worlds are often lost in their translation to film, explaining the detail of his feature film world in the post film Q and A, beckoned a universe brimming with detail including everything from fictional brands (cigarettes called “social leppers”), soap operas, advertisements and Moore penned popular songs. For a writer as iconic as Moore with such a historically volatile relationship with the film industry, it is incredibly exciting to see him taking creative control of projects through a passionate and most importantly collaborative approach. I eagerly await to see what sinister delights Jenkins and Moore come up with next.
Director: Mitch Jenkins
Writer: Alan Moore
Cast: Darrell D’Silva, Siobhan Hewlett, Robert Goodman, Andrew Buckley, Alan Moore
Runtime: 71 mins