A movie for every day of the year – a good one
London Underground opens, 1863
On this day in 1863, the world’s first underground railway opened in London, UK. It was called the Metropolitan Railway and it ran between several significant mainline railway stations – Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross – before terminating at Farringdon in the City of London. It was built to deliver workers to the booming financial and commercial heart of the country and empire, and was necessary because London’s too-numerous railway termini were removed from its centre. When railways had first arrived in the capital, none of the mostly aristocratic owners of central London real estate would countenance a railway station on their land – hence London’s major railway stations’ siting in less salubrious parts of town, on the periphery of the action. The Metropolitan Railway, driven by steam, lit by gas and wooden of carriage, was an instant success and carried 38,000 passengers on its first day. Plans were immediately fast-tracked to connect up other railway stations in London with a grand circular line (of which the Metropolitan Railway would become part). Because of the extreme difficulty of getting anything built in London without approval of influential landowners, much of this original line was built under main roads, using a “cut and cover” technique (dig trench, drop in tunnel using precast sections, cover over). These days London Underground aka the Tube has 270 stations, 55% of which are in fact overground.
Creep (2004, dir: Christopher Smith)
Six years on from Run Lola Run and only two years after The Bourne Identity, Franka Potente is once again being pursued, in this cheap debut feature from writer/director Christopher Smith. Potente plays Kate, though the name isn’t important, since she’s one of very few people actually in this film, which is about a slightly up-herself model booker who, after dropping down into the bowels of London to catch a Tube home after a PR event, starts being pursued by an ungodly creature, something of a cross between Nosferatu, Hellraiser’s Pinhead, and Texas Chainsaw’s Leatherface. What follows is a chase movie set in tunnels, a showcase of techniques by Smith, who demonstrates sound knowledge of J-Horror and early torture porn and shows he’s seen more Hammer horror and giallo than is good for a man. I’m not going to pretend Creep is a great film; it isn’t. In fact some of the acting is way off, and from talent who are usually a lot better. But it is the debut of an extremely interesting horror director – if you’ve seen Smith’s superior “slasher in the woods” follow-up, Severance, or his extremely good multiverse thriller Triangle, then you’ll know this is a writer/director who is worth watching. And though I say this isn’t a great film, it is full of great moments. At the screening where I saw it, a woman next to me periodically started screamed and started jiggling her legs about as if someone had grabbed them. Her boyfriend, meanwhile, was chortling. The attractions of horror explained in a nutshell.
- Debut of a great horror writer/director
- Last “blink and miss him” performance by great British eccentric Ken Campbell
- Ingeniously cheap
- Old horror scares presented with a new twist
© Steve Morrissey 2014