Due to minor delays, I arrived late, missing the conference opening and first panel. Two big losses because I hoped the introduction would have cleared my curiosity about cult cinema and a paper on one of my research theoretical frameworks was presented. The abundant lunch, which greeted my arrival was not enough consolation! Carefully grouped under common themes, the papers in each panel considered cult cinema cultures from different eras around the world. A unique industry into academia forum, the 9th Cine-Excess conference was well attended by local and international researchers, academia and industry players including actors, directors, filmmakers, comics, both in person and virtually. Thanks to modern technology, those in attendance experienced not only Brighton, but also the US and Canada.
The second of nine panels, efficiently chaired by Oliver Carter themed ‘contaminated screens’ considered zombies and cannibals in social context. Three papers from Emma Austin, Nicolo Gallio and Sally Miller of universities of Portsmouth, Middlesex and Brighton respectively, explored these contexts. Identifying the zombie as a loss of what defines us as humans, and an embodiment of trauma, making it adaptable over the years, Emma examines the fascination of zombie fans. Nicolo presents a work in progress study of fan activities (particularly fans as promoters) on the multi-media platform using Eli Roth’s controversial The Green Inferno. With a title drawn from an infamous line in Ruben Fleisher’s Zombieland, ‘There are no people here’, Sally prepares the audience for an apocalypse, hinting on what could be done when we no longer live in a human society. Most useful hint is ‘Don’t be a hero’. Save yourself first!
The porn panic panel three coincidentally had only three papers from Feona Attwood, Clarissa Smith and John Mercer of Middlesex, Sunderland and Birmingham City universities respectively. Feona questions panic and the morality in pornography and rape, submitting that although not medically proven yet, porn makes one’s brain smaller. Now that is something to be researched! Does it shrink in size or its capabilities become minimal? Clarissa’s audience engagement study contemplates on the problems of rape and audience reception. She constructs her title from a respondent’s submission, “I don’t enjoy rape play, in porn or real life but good rape story will get me hard every time”. John examines crisis in gay porn and its construction and representation of masculinity. He makes a number of critical observations among which are
- Modern masculinity is complicated
- Gay porn is not straightforward
- Straight man in gay porn is not straightforward (after all)
- Masculinity is saturated as well as complicated
Panel four, chaired by Clarissa, opened with Lance Dann’s (University of Brighton) examination of community in United States’ audio paranormal horror Welcome to Nightvale. The comic, yet surreal fake news radio program creates a sense of community, sets a pace and leaves the rest to the audience’s imagination. Bethany Lamont of Central Saint Martins carries on from that point with an exploration of the Internet community. Her research on trauma transfer using pedobear seeks to understand Internet monsters in American culture. Oliver Carter of Birmingham City University steers the audience away from communities and trauma with his paper on cult film distribution and economies. Zeroing in on fantrepreneurship, he highlights that people involved are usually freelance professionals or entrepreneur. His 3R business model (Recover, Restore, Release) illustrates home video cult film distribution as a labour of love.
The presentations following return the listeners to trauma, images of assault, sex and violence. Drawn from cult, exploitation and sexploitation films and exploring auteur signatures, these papers examine politics, sexology, history, authenticity and content. The industry panel brought together industry players to discuss the prospects and challenges of co-producing and funding transnational cult films.
A very lively panel 7 awaken nostalgia in the listeners with presentations from Alex Fitch and Lee Christien of Brighton and Hannah Eaton. While Hannah considers the manifestations of repressed trauma, Lee questions the categorisation of comics as radical or alternative. Alex traces attempts made towards reviving the Dan Dare comic and Hannah reflects on her understanding of comics both as a growing up child and as an adult and its influence on her recreation of the Misty comic.
In the second to the final panel, Martin Barker, a committed audience researcher to the existence and content of Action and 2000AD comics, invites the creators, Pat Mills and Jim McCarthy to a discussion that marks the celebration of their existence. The panel that held the listeners in reverie and would have been a perfect close for the conference witnessed the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to Pat Mills, the co-founder of 2000AD (1977-Present). The final panel, themed violated bodies, historical wounds, comprised of four papers including one from BCU’s Xavier Mendik. With papers on rape, revenge, violent excesses and trauma, the presenters examine vendetta and vengeance across the big and small screen.