Celluloid Diaries

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


crazy Hong Kong movies

Together with the Offscreen Film Festival in Brussels, Belgium, I'll be hosting a retrospective on the craziest Hong Kong movies ever made.

There was a time when Hong Kong was the Hollywood of the East. At its peak in the early 1990s, the local film industry was second only to that of the United States as the world's biggest in terms of output per capita and as the largest exporter of product. Hong Kong played a key role in the spread of Asian cinema to the West, first in the 1970s with the martial arts productions of famous studios such as Shaw Brothers, followed in the 1980s and 1990s by the action, fantasy and horror films of John Woo, Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam.

But alongside the box-office successes, Hong Kong cinema maintained a remarkable level of creativity. Although it had its roots in traditional genres aimed at mass audiences, it also found room for experimentation, innovation and boundary-pushing, as much in terms of form and technique as in themes and genre tropes.

The Offscreen Film Festival will be focusing on Hong Kong cinema outside the mainstream, with a selection of 1unconventional, extraordinary, pioneering, and even demented genre offerings attesting to a vibrant, audacious and visceral film culture.

We pay special attention to exploitation films that were awarded the Category III classification. Although Category III, introduced in 1988, is not a genre in itself, these shocking and sensational films had one characteristic in common: they defied good taste and conventional morality with their depictions of explicit sex and graphic violence. Far from scaring people off, the Category III rating came to be regarded as a guarantee of transgressive elements in the Hong Kong films that flooded cinemas across Asia, while remaining below the radar of most Western audiences.

Here is an overview of the crazy Hong Kong movies that will be showing at Offscreen, most of them in 35 mm. The festival will take place between March 9 and March 27, 2022. You can peruse the entire program here.


Anthony Wong, fearless as ever, plays a horny sleazebag who catches ebola from a woman he rapes in Africa. Pausing only to murder his boss and turn the corpse into burgers, he carries the virus back to Hong Kong and runs amok. Yau’s gory yuckfest is tasteless, hilarious and guaranteed to offend just about everyone.


An intrepid writer suspects an odd couple and their cat are extra-terrestrials, though he's slow to realise what we already know: these aliens are the good guys. The real threat comes from a psionic blob-monster in this sci-fi fantasy packed with demented special effects, including a crazy cat vs dog kung fu fight.


Screen goddesses Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh and Anita Mui play rival superheroines who join forces to foil an evil being who has been kidnapping newborn babies in this action fantasy with wuxia-inspired effects, unexpected infant mortality and gratuitous urination. Watch out for Anthony Wong's flying guillotine!


A scholar is obsessed with seducing women, leading to slapstick comedy, tragic irony and plenty of softcore lubriciousness in this sensuous adaptation of a 17th century Chinese erotic novel. Highlights include a horse penis transplant, letter-writing by vagina, and a flute co-opted as a lesbian sex-aid.


Leslie Cheung plays a struggling film director who has to compromise his ideals by making softcore porn. This sex-comedy meta-masterpiece pokes fun at Category III and features unusually nuanced female characters, notably Karen Mok as the director’s girlfriend and The Assassin's Shu Qi as his starlet, “Miss Mango”.


Hong Kong superstars Chow Yun-Fat, Simon Yam and Anthony Wong play scumbags who double-cross each other and shoot, stab or blow up anything that moves, including innocent bystanders. Early use of "Bullet Time" seals the deal in the sort of raunchy, ultra-violent shindig that makes Hollywood action pics look anaemic.


When his pregnant wife gets her dress caught in a cab door and is accidentally dragged to her death, a mild-mannered insurance salesman (Anthony Wong) flips out and wreaks revenge on bad taxi drivers. Vigilante madness, peppered with dark humour and references to Taxi Driver.


Kitty, an air hostess who shoots men in the balls, is mentored by a female assassin who keeps rapists chained up in her basement for killing practice, but starts to lose her edge when she falls for a traumatised cop (Simon Yam). A sexy, action-packed work of Cat III genius, featuring death by poisoned lipstick!


The film for which the Category III rating was first created is a gruelling account of horrific experiments conducted by Japanese scientists on Chinese prisoners during WW2. Mutilation of real cadavers, child vivisection and animal cruelty are just some of the atrocities on show. Warning: not for the squeamish.


Humans and demons coexist uneasily in this live-action adaptation of a Japanese anime. Two cops investigate a deadly new drug which turns its users into vapor, while demons jostle for power in an orgy of mad special effects, turning themselves into a spider-woman, drinking water, and a fuckable pinball machine.


Supernatural action comedy directed and choreographed by the legendary Hung, who plays a village pedicab driver. His wife's lover plots to murder him with black magic, leading to slapstick encounters with ghosts, zombies and hopping vampires, a duel between rival sorcerers and some sensational fight sequences.


Hark's epic masterpiece is a breathless parade of dazzling beauty and groundbreaking special effects. In fifth century China, a young army deserter tags along on a wuxia quest for twin magic swords to defeat an evil sect. Sammo Hung plays a wizard who keeps a Blood Demon at bay with nothing more than his eyebrows!


Leslie Cheung plays a poor debt collector who spends the night in a haunted temple and falls in love with a beautiful ghost. Alas, a long-tongued tree demon is forcing her to lure men to their doom. Can our hero escape a grisly fate? Delightful period rom-com with freaky special effects and wuxia wire-fu action.


Sadistic Japanese soldiers abuse sexy nurses in Hong Kong's contribution to the women-in-prison genre, set in a WW2 concentration camp. Obligatory ingredients include an evil lesbian guard, whipping, and a rape montage before the film switches genres for an action-adventure finale involving a quest for stolen gold.


John Liu wrote, directed and stars in this bonkers vanity vehicle in which high-kicking John Liu (playing himself) flies to Paris to rescue his kidnapped dad, but literally loses the plot amid tragic romantic flashbacks of scantily-clad girlfriends, duels against random karate champions, and a visit to the dentist.


Turksploitation star Cüneyt Arkin plays a cop who teams up with a Hong Kong agent to smash a smuggling ring led by a martial artist so evil he murders his own henchmen as well as a belly dancer. Many minions with moustaches get karate-chopped against picturesque Istanbul backdrops en route to a rooftop showdown.


Anthony Wong won Best Actor at the Hong Kong Film Awards for his performance as a restaurant owner who becomes chief murder suspect after severed limbs are washed up on a Macau beach. This creepy cult classic, inspired by a real news item, ends with one of the most shocking scenes in film history.


After Bruce Lee's untimely death, a mad doctor uses his DNA to produce three lookalikes (who actually don't look anything like him) in this prime slice of "Bruceploitation." Bolo Yeung plays the kung-fu trainer who prepares them for combat against podgy bronze men in underpants. Also featured: naked beach frolics.

Apart from the retrospective, the Offscreen Film Festival will also be hosting an international conference on the subject.

French critic Julien Sévéon will explore the taboo breaking quality of Category III films that has made them such a cultish draw for so many. Examining films before and after the handover of Hong Kong to China, Dr Calum Waddell (University of Lincoln) will interrogate the ways in which these films seem to foreshadow the current political crisis in Hong Kong. We will also be joined by Dr Victor Fan (King’s College, London) who will turn his wide-ranging expertise on Chinese cinema and politics on to the crazy, bizarre and confrontational world of Category III.

The conference will conclude with the documentary Category III: The Untold Story of Hong Kong Exploitation Cinema by Calum Waddell, and conclude with a panel discussion.

Monday, October 18, 2021


long weekend colin eggleston
On November 4, I'll be giving an introduction to Colin Eggleston's animal-attack movie Long Weekend in Ciné Rio in Ghent, Belgium. Luke Buckmaster from The Guardian called the film a "masterpiece in minimalist horror," so make sure not to miss it. Ciné Rio will be combining the screening with a signing session of my book When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals.

About Long Weekend: An Australian couple tries to fix their marriage with a camping trip to the beach in this Ozploitation classic. But they unthinkingly trash the environment - killing a kangaroo, starting fires, hacking down trees - so, after a tense build-up, nature gets its revenge via insects, birds, and a dugong.
long weekend 1978

Tuesday, October 5, 2021



halloween book tour giveaway

I'm participating in the Haunted Halloween Spooktacular Book Tour this month. There will be lots of Halloween-themed content for each stop on the tour, as well as excerpts from my latest book Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children.

Nine other authors are joining too, and every one of us will be doing a giveaway, so make sure you follow along now.

See you there!

halloween haunted book

Wednesday, September 1, 2021



but film festival

This year, the BUT Film Festival in Breda, the Netherlands, is organizing an entire program centered on cinematic evil children. I've chosen several of these titles, which I'll be introducing on September 2nd. Copies of my latest book, Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children, will be available at the festival as well.

The evil-child movies I'll be introducing at the festival are:

Kill, Baby... Kill! (1966) 

As an influential killer-kid movie, Mario Bava's Kill, Baby... Kill! put its mark on many other cult classics, including Salem's Lot, Spirits of the Dead, Fear Dot Com, and Ring. Hopefully, the image of the ghostly girl (it's actually a boy, but don't tell anyone) will haunt you forever.

The Children of Ravensback (1980) 

A busload of children has disappeared from the quiet New England town of Ravensback, and Sheriff Billy Hart is on the case. A short while later, he manages to track down the kids, but unfortunately, they seem to have been transformed into murderous zombies by a cloud of radioactive gas. How can he stop the killer tykes before they destroy the town?

Disciples of the Crow (1983) 

In this short film adaptation of Stephen King's "Children of the Corn", a bickering couple passing through a small Oklahoma town discover that it has been taken over by a homicidal cult that worships a crow god... and that all the cult members are children.

Children of the Corn (1984) 

A boy preacher named Isaac goes to Gatlin, Nebraska, and gets all the children to murder every adult in town and to form a religious cult. A young couple on a road trip stops in Gatlin to report a murder and seek help, but the town seems deserted. They are soon trapped in Gatlin with little chance of getting out alive.

sick teens

Saturday, August 28, 2021



horror book giveaway

The Offscreen Film Festival, Belgium's indispensable cult film festival, launches its 14th edition on 8 September. This year's program is structured around a hot topical theme: the climate crisis and the consequences of mankind's disrespect of nature. 

As an amuse-bouche, the festival will be giving away five copies of a book that takes a deep dive into some of the films on the menu: WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK: THE 70 BEST HORROR MOVIES WITH KILLER ANIMALS. To win one of these books, all you have to like Offscreen's Instagram, Twitter and/or Facebook post about the book and leave a comment with the title of your favorite eco-horror movie. 

The winners will be announced on Offscreen's social media pages on Saturday 4 September. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021


child's play
This Friday, I'll be giving introductions to the horror movies Child's Play and Aenigma at the Cinematek in Brussels, Belgium. 

Child's Play is Tom Holland's follow-up to the horror-comedy Fright Night. Chucky, the killer doll possessed by a serial killer, became a popular horror icon who would pop back for countless sequels, just like legendary boogeymen Freddy Krueger and Jason Vorhees. This modern slasher classic adds a new twist to creepy puppet films such as Dead of Night

While American horror was thriving in the 1980s, its Italian equivalent was on its last legs. Aenigma, directed by horror maestro Lucio Fulci, is one of the last remnants of Italy’s B-movie heyday. After his 1960s and 1970s masterpieces, Fulci is trying here to adapt to the aesthetics of the 1980s, and jiffs up this story of telekinetic vindictiveness (think Carrie, Patrick, and Suspiria) with a snail attack and other bizarre sequences. The result is that Aenigma, his swan song, is more like a dark Z-movie than a regular B-movie.

child's play movies

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Saturday, August 21, 2021



horror book release

My latest book, EVIL SEEDS: THE ULTIMATE MOVIE GUIDE TO VILLAINOUS CHILDREN, has just been released in paperback and on Kindle (including Kindle Unlimited). Forty-three film historians and critics have contributed to this book, and we've collected nearly 250 titles, sourced from 40 different countries.

Book Tour

If you'd like to participate in the virtual book tour, you can register here. Several options are available: book review, release announcement, guest post, giveaway, social media post, etc.

$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Evil Seeds, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021



book cover reveal

I'm thrilled to reveal the cover of my latest book, the film encyclopedia Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children.

The cover design is by Gilles Vranckx.

What do you think of the book cover? Let me know in the comments below.

Book Tour

If you have a blog, YouTube channel, Facebook page, or Bookstagram and would like to participate in the virtual Evil Seeds book tour, you can register here. There are several options available (book review, giveaway, release announcement, interview, guest post, social media announcement, etc).


To celebrate the occasion, I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card. To enter, fill in the Rafflecopter below. The giveaway is open worldwide. Good luck!

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Wednesday, August 11, 2021



climate fiction movies

Together with the Offscreen Film Festival, I've concocted a program around eco-horror and animal attack movies. We came up with a list of more than 30 titles, divided between the Belgian Cinema Nova and Cinematek. From an out-of-control climate (The Last Winter), retribution from the animal world (Long Weekend) and plagues of arthropods (Kingdom of the Spiders, Phase IV) to pandemics (The Andromeda Strain), pollution (Frogs) and overpopulation (Soylent Green), it will be a dark trip through cinematic depictions of climate fear, at the point where the dystopian sci-fi of the first ecological genre films of the 1970s is increasingly becoming a dangerous and tangible reality.

The festival will take place between September 8 and September 26, 2021. I will be introducing several of the movies, and there will be copies of my books When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals and Evil Seeds: The Ultimate Movie Guide to Villainous Children available for purchase.

Here's a list of the eco-horror movies that you can watch at the Offscreen Film Festival... 

The Birds (1963)

Tippi Hedren gets dive-bombed by seagulls and stalked by crows at the behest of a sadistic director at the top of his game. Hitchcock’s thriller is all the more troubling in its refusal to offer a tidy explanation for the deadly avian attacks on farmers and schoolkids in the small coastal town of Bodega Bay. 

Long Weekend (1978)

An Australian couple tries to fix their marriage with a camping trip to the beach in this Ozploitation classic. But they unthinkingly trash the environment - killing a kangaroo, starting fires, hacking down trees - so, after a tense build-up, nature gets its revenge via insects, birds and a literally creepy dugong.

Phase IV (1974)

Two scientists investigating unusual ant activity in the Arizona desert find themselves under siege when the colony’s hive mind fights back. The only full-length feature directed by famed credits designer Saul Bass combines eco-horror thrills with awe-inspiring footage of antlife. Bow down to your insect overlords!

In the Earth (2021)

In the wake of a pandemic, a scientist sets out to join his ex-girlfriend in the woods where she has been studying fungal symbiosis, but he and his guide are waylaid by sinister forces. The director of Kill List and A Field in England serves up an intoxicating brew of folk horror and hallucinatory eco-madness.

No Blade of Grass (1970)

A virus spreads from China to destroy the world’s crops in this terrifying adaptation of John Christopher's prescient novel, resulting in food shortages, curfews, and civilization in tatters. A middle-class British family heads for the hills to escape the riots in London, but runs into even more danger on the road.

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971)

It’s a clash of titans! Toxic sludge forms itself into Hedorah, a flying amphibian behemoth that feeds off pollution dissolves human flesh, and invades a psychedelic disco. Thousands die. Japan’s last hope is Godzilla, who takes on the challenger in a Mount Fuji death match.

Kingdom of the Spiders (1977)

The peerless William Shatner plays a vet investigating livestock deaths in rural Arizona. His flirtation with a visiting lady arachnologist is rudely interrupted when they realize pesticides have upset the balance of nature, sending an unstoppable army of slow-moving but deadly tarantulas towards the nearby town.

Princess Mononoke (1997)

Set in magical 14th century Japan, Miyazaki’s bewitching animated epic tackles the nature-vs-technology theme with thrilling complexity. A prince travels west to seek a cure for a fatal curse, and finds himself caught up in the conflict between an enlightened industrialist and the ancient spirits of the forest.

Day of the Animals (1977)

Depletion of the ozone layer suddenly turns all animals at high altitude into killing machines. Bad news for a bunch of backpackers setting off on a hike through the Sierra Nevada, where they're attacked by lions, wolves, hawks, grizzlies and a demented pre-Airplane Leslie Nielsen at his most entertainingly OTT.

Stalker (1979)

In a dystopian future, a "stalker" leads a writer and a professor through a polluted environment into a heavily guarded Forbidden Zone to search for a room that may grant wishes. A visionary work by a master filmmaker weaving camerawork and design into an extraordinary meditation on faith, dreams and desire. 

Jallikattu (2019)

An escaped buffalo wreaks havoc in an Indian village, stirring up primal instincts in the menfolk as they compete to catch the beast. This study of toxic testosterone at its most unhinged pelts you with astonishing music and imagery on its way towards an unforgettably hellish climax. 

Waterworld (1995)

The polar icecaps have melted, flooding the planet. A samurai-like mariner (Kevin Costner) sails in search of mythical "Dryland" while Dennis Hopper and his band of chain-smoking pirates cause trouble. Unfairly dismissed as a turkey on its release, this blockbuster B-movie delivers aquatic action aplenty.

The Hellstrom Chronicle (1971)

Dr. Nils Hellstrom (played by an actor) claims insects are poised to inherit the Earth in this faux-documentary full of extraordinary nature footage. The hypothesis is all too credible, though Hellstrom himself, whose "experiments" include hiding bugs among supermarket produce to scare the shoppers, is clearly quite mad.

Soylent Green (1973)

In 2022, Charlton Heston plays a cop whose investigation into a lawyer’s murder uncovers an unpalatable truth. This adaptation of Harry Harrison’s Make Room! Make Room! tackles pollution, overcrowding, social inequality - and adds a secret ingredient to the mix! Edward G Robinson is very moving in his final role.

Silent Running (1972)

Earth’s plantlife is dying and a fleet of spacecraft carries the last remains of the planet’s flora. Bruce Dern plays the only crew member who cares about his cargo, so when an order comes through to destroy it, he rebels. A melancholy, visionary film, and a stunning directing debut for effects wizard Trumbull.

The Last Winter (2006)

An American oil company rep (Ron Perlman) clashes with an environmental scientist on a remote Alaskan outpost afflicted by odd phenomena. An effect of climate change, or is everyone going stir crazy? Eerie indie eco-horror in which the snowy wasteland draws on its paranormal heritage to oppose the human invaders. 

The Bay (2012)

"There’s something wrong with the water!" Superior found-footage eco-horror, stitched together by skilful editing, in which chemical waste leads to an outbreak of parasitic isopods in a Maryland seaside town where (echoes of Jaws) the mayor tries to downplay the gruesome havoc so as not to scare off tourists.

Pom Poko (1994)

Tanuki, according to Japanese folklore, are shape-shifting raccoon-like creatures with unusually versatile (and family-friendly) testicles. When their bucolic way of life is threatened by urban expansion, the critters fight back. In typical Studio Ghibli style, this enchanting fable packs a poignant ecological message. 

The Andromeda Strain (1971)

A crashed satellite unleashes a virus that turns human blood into powder. Can scientists isolate the organism before it takes out the entire West Coast? Wise’s sober adaptation of Michael Crichton’s sci-fi thriller is alarmingly plausible - but the inventive 70s production design and visual effects are a lot of fun.

Avatar (2009)

Sci-fi blockbuster about a paraplegic ex-marine from Earth whose able-bodied avatar infiltrates the Na'vi, peaceful blue humanoids 10 feet tall, before joining them in a struggle to save their planet from an evil mining company. An action-packed allegory of colonialism's effect on nature and indigenous societies.

The Last Wave (1977)

Australia is plagued by freak weather conditions, and a white lawyer's life begins to unravel after he takes on an Aborigine murder case and falls prey to strange apocalyptic dreams. The logical realism of the modern world collides with the ancient Dreamtime of the land's original inhabitants, to haunting effect.

The Road (2009)

Cormac McCarthy's bestseller comes to the screen with all its bleakness intact, plus a keening soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. Viggo Mortensen plays the man trudging through a perilous post-apocalyptic landscape, trying to protect his young son from starvation, marauding cannibals and existential despair.

The Happening (2008)

An unseen force is making New Yorkers kill themselves in cruel and unusual ways. Science teacher Mark Wahlberg and his wife try to escape the city before it's too late. But is the countryside any safer? This eco-disaster movie uses the sound of leaves rustling in the breeze to evoke a uniquely uneasy mood.

Take Shelter (2011)

Michael Shannon plays a family man whose apocalyptic dreams prompt him to dig a tornado shelter in his Ohio backyard while wife and workmates wonder if he’s going mad. Is Jeff Nichols’ gripping psychodrama a small-scale disaster movie or an update of Noah’s Ark? Either way it’ll give you extreme weather anxiety. 

The Host (2006)

Pollution from a US military base creates a giant mutant tadpole that runs amok in Seoul, carrying off a girl whose flawed family must pull together to get her back. The director of Parasite stirs eco-thriller and sociopolitical subtext into a monster movie that will make you laugh and cry, sometimes both at once. 

Annihilation (2018)

A team of female scientists embarks on a suicide mission into the "Shimmer", an eerily verdant enclave from which only one explorer has previously reemerged. Garland’s adaptation of the first book in Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy is cerebral sci-fi with a streak of haunting Lovecraftian surrealism. 

Frogs (1972)

Ray Milland plays a bigoted southern patriarch who insists on celebrating Independence Day, even as members of his family and staff are killed off, one by one, by the deadly reptiles, amphibians and arthropods invading his Florida estate as payback for his polluting the swamp with pesticides. Nature is healing! 

Prophecy (1979)

Lumberjacks go missing in a New England forest. Local tribes blame the vengeful spirit of the woods, while a visiting environmentalist blames pollution from a paper mill. Either way, there's a giant mutant bear-creature running amok, with the director of The Manchurian Candidate serving up plenty of B-movie carnage. 

Isolation (2005)

A genetic experiment to boost bovine fertility goes awry on a remote Irish farm, leaving a small but solid cast (including Essie Davis, Sean Harris and Ruth Negga) fending off a herd of malformed cow foetuses ready to sink their fangs into anything that moves. Mud, blood and Alien-style splatter down on the farm!


The Crazies (1973)

A plane crash infects inhabitants of a Pennsylvania town with a secret biological weapon, leading to a surge of psychotic behavior, social chaos and martial law. Romero parlays his usual low budget, pitch-black humor and angry political subtext into a virus scenario that now seems uncomfortably close to the bone.


Koyaanisqatsi (1982)

The title of this experimental documentary is Hopi dialect for "life out of balance". The filmmakers use time-lapse, slo-mo and sped up film of nature, cities, people and traffic to create an impressionistic portrait of humanity’s fraught relationship with the planet, all set to a mesmerizing score by Philip Glass.

Read more about several of these movies in the book When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals.

eco-horror films

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Exorcist III & The Keep


the keep michael mann

This Friday, I'll be giving an introduction to the movies The Exorcist III (1990) and The Keep (1983) at the Cinematek in Brussels. Tickets for The Keep are already sold out. Only a few more left for The Exorcist III.

The Exorcist III, after the negative reception of The Exorcist II: The Heretic, was hailed as the true sequel to William Friedkin's 1973 masterpiece. The director is none other than the author of the book on which the original film was based. William Peter Blatty took his own novel Legion as a starting point and - despite studio interference - delivered a chilling detective story that thoughtfully combines theological themes with stunning scenes of pure visual terror.

The Keep, one of Michael Mann's earlier films, is a true curiosity: the director’s vision was compromised by studio interference, and the film has barely been screened since its initial release. A screenplay riddled with problems results in an uneven and at times bombastic genre exercise that nevertheless manages to conjure an extraordinary atmosphere with its mix of stunning gothic and fantastique imagery. Glowing eyes in swirling smoke, Xanadu-style laser effects in a German Expressionist mise-en-scène, all set to the ethereal electronic stylings of Tangerine Dream: this is pulp cinema at its most delirious.

More info: https://www.offscreen.be/en/b-z-double-bill-cinematek/godforsaken-demons