The Children Of The Night Part 1 (2021)

Originally, I was going to write a short story by way of a response to The Kick-About No.39, and I even got as far as committing to a rough outline, but while the spirit was willing, the flesh was weak, and I couldn’t make it happen in time. The prompt comes from Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the count is talking about the baying of the wolves beneath the moon, but I was never truly scared by vampires and the like. This was due in part to my fascination with the nuts and bolts of horror – its trappings, its effects, and its preoccupations.

The early horror actor Lon Chaney, was known as the man with a 1000 faces, on account of the ways he transformed his face for his performances in films such as Phantom of the Opera (1925) and London After Midnight (1927). Inspired by Chaney’s lo-fi monsters and the lurid short stories of the Pan Book Of Horror, I set about producing a series of self-portraits.

The way in which the resulting images were produced involved conscious use of my webcam, as opposed to my digital camera, courting the particular effects of low-light levels and low-resolution. I was going for something nostalgic, what it was like as a small boy catching glimpses of disturbing things on small, poorly-tuned black and white televisions.

I wrote the captions to further enrich these imaginary moments, ranging across a host of hoary old tropes and cliches familiar to me from those wondrous and tawdry Pan Books of Horror and countless old movies. That said, for all my obvious enjoyment in producing these portraits, one or two did leave me glancing uneasily over my shoulder…

6 thoughts on “The Children Of The Night Part 1 (2021)

  1. I adore everything about this Phil! I love the fact that you reverse engineered the grainy nature of those old school films using something as true and lo-fi as a shitty face camera. The results remind me of this weird phenomena that happens to me anytime I have a nightmare and sometimes a dream – where the after-image remnants of the scary thing that haunts in my slumber lingers while I slowly pull out of unconscious – like when you look at a lamp for too long then look away you can still see the lamps after-image just as I can see the thing slowly start to bubble and fade as I wake up, but its grainy and it’s there for a few moments mending into my reality – shielding itself as a coat or hiding itself behind plants. It scares me in the best way every-time until my logical brain wakes up and realises “its just a dream”. That is what you’ve captured so well here! X

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  2. Amazing Phil, the process transforms the action into something truly horrible and scary. They take me straight back to my boy self, trying to get hold of copies of those old Pan books of horror short stories, or trying to get round my parents to stay up late and watch lurid Hammer horror films on the telly. As I look at these images a soundtrack immediately strikes up in my head; mainly lots of terrified screaming and howling!

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  3. Evening Phil – thank you very much. Certainly, something intuitive and satisfying got started when I was producing these images – one of those lovely quick and clear moments when you get what you want from an unexpected approach. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of this technique! 😀


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