BUNCH OF FIVES: Crowley’s Favourite Folk Horrors | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle-based hard rock five-piece Crowley are comprised of vocalist Lidya Balaban, guitarists Eliza Lee and Ruth Cranston, bassist Kimberly Waugh, and drummer Matthew Graham. Their classic rock sound has received rave reviews thanks to an atmospheric and heavy-hitting style which finds its roots alongside artists like Halestorm and Led Zeppelin. New single Something Wicked This Way Comes, released on 28th April, continues to explore the band’s fascination with the occult. Here, the band delve into the stories and aesthetics of folk horror which inspire them, and give us an insight into their favourite folk horror films.


The Wicker Man

This archetypal folk horror, set on the Scottish Isles, draws on an amalgamation of ancient British rituals and rites. May Day seems to be a more fading aspect of our yearly celebrations, and The Wickerman’s carnivalesque interpretation of the fool who is king for a day helps to reawaken some of those ancient ideas of the festival. Christopher Lee’s iconic performance, which pits sinister charm against Edward Woodward’s pious disapproval, somehow draws you into sympathising with the pagan islanders. The film’s genius is in placing a human sacrifice at the heart of a joyous celebration of nature, with the screams of Sergeant Howie permeating a rendition of Sumer Is Icumen In makes for the ultimate horrifying climax.

Blood On Satan’s Claw

A cult favourite, Blood On Satan’s Claw boasts an excellent combination of budget 1970s practical effects, a slightly comical soundtrack, 1700s period costume, and full-frontal nudity. The plot contains no less sinister elements as the village people unearth a ‘beast’ which sets off a chain of demonic possessions. There’s gore, there’s woodland witchcraft and there’s an evil thing that looks a bit like a koala – what’s not to love?

The Devil Rides Out

Any folk horror list would not be complete without the work of the Hammer production house. Featuring another classic performance by Christopher Lee, The Devil Rides Out centres on an organised occult conspiracy. The most memorable moment of the film is a colourful imagining of a ritual summoning of Baphomet by vaguely aristocratic 1960s cult members. From psychic attacks to Satan himself, this is another classic of the genre.

The Ritual

One of two more modern films on our list, The Ritual begins like many a great folk horror – with unsuspecting victims in a new location that holds its own secrets. The Ritual takes a group of typical English men on a hiking trip in Sweden and immerses them in a horrifying world of ancient Norse evil. The film is a must-see for those with an interest in Scandinavian folklore as the Jötunn, a formidable beast and the offspring of Loki, demands sacrifices from local villagers.


Midsommar, produced by the brilliant A24 studio and itself something of a reimagining of the Wickerman, is worthy of being deemed a horror classic in its own right. Unlike the others in this list, the film’s use of a female lead character helps it to explore themes of feminine rage, cult behaviour, trauma and ritual in a unique way. The film has some truly unnerving moments and again culminates in a scene of human sacrifice. Visually, gore is combined with beautiful and delicate Swedish folk imagery. Part of the genius of Midsommar as a horror film is the fact that it all takes place in daylight, refusing to rely on the darkness as a means of unnerving the audience.


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