Loving the Alien
Can you remember where your obsession with movies began? For me, it started when I was six years old. Two events in December 1982, a week apart, defined what was to come. The second was the immersion in the vivid world of Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal. It was a starkly different experience from the first, a story of extraterrestrial trauma, of childhood tears. So many tears. You see, this alien wasn’t phoning home. Oh no, this one had a head that turned into a spider and there wasn't a single schoolkid in sight saving E.T., just a bunch of snowbound blokes in beards and... The Thing onscreen… just kept… changing.
I’m kidding, of course. While I loved Spielberg’s second close encounter, I grew to prefer Carpenter’s gruesome shapeshifter because I've always been more attracted to monsters. Further exploration of Henson’s fantasy worlds lead me to even more of them through Labyrinth (with a man who fell to Earth) – a less terrifying but magical experience – that was also the perfect introduction to the ‘changes’ of David Bowie. By the time the ’90s arrived I was hunky dory for VHS stickers and movie lists, where I developed a healthy taste and wider appreciation of film.
Some things never change.
As a D&AD Award Winner – with a background in graphic design and illustration – since 2004, I have lectured and delivered degree-level courses within the creative arts and media, including: graphic design, illustration, film studies and journalism. My first novel, The Enemy's Son (as James Johnson), was released in 2008, followed by a number of independent comics for various anthologies and collections. With a current focus on film, my credits include: Little White Lies, The Digital Fix, Rebeller, Diabolique, Shots, Network, and Fangoria along with upcoming film commentary for boutique labels and accompanying essays and booklets. My Devil’s Advocates book on S. Craig Zahler's Bone Tomahawk is due out early 2021 and Studying the Superhero Movie in 2022, both from Auteur Publishing and Liverpool University Press. You can currently listen to me over at the FILM & PODCAST and Mondo Moviehouse.
Top 10? These go to 11
Night of the Hunter (1955)
Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
Blade Runner (1982)
The Thing (1982)
The Dark Crystal (1982)
Jim Henson and Frank Oz
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Bone Tomahawk (2015)
S. Craig Zahler
The Red Turtle (2016)
Michaël Dudok de Wit
*A seminal year for film from cult classics to blockbusters: Blade Runner, The Thing, Tron, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, The Flight of Dragons, First Blood, The Grey Fox, Poltergeist, Tootsie, Gandhi, Conan the Barbarian, The Plague Dogs... and Grease 2.
‘I hate television. I hate it as much as peanuts. But I can’t stop eating peanuts.’ - Orson Welles
‘Pain is temporary, film is forever!’ - John Milius
‘Cinema is a mirror by which we often see ourselves.’ - Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu
The things people say...
Rich’s writing brims with insight, intelligence and always makes for interesting reading. His Enthusiasm, passion and film knowledge make him a valuable addition to any writing team.
The Digital Fix
I have Rich to thank for the most thoughtful, thorough profile
I’ve ever read about my approach to our industry and the business we’ve built with that approach. More than a professional perspective or retrospective, when I read Rich’s article I thought to myself, “Yeah, that’s me, that’s us.” Rich has a way of bringing out the humanity in all of his subjects, and working with him was far
more conversation between engaged people than it was
q&a between interviewer and interviewee.
Rich is not only a great bloke, he’s an outside-the-box thinker when it comes to art, a writer of prodigious imagination (have you read his novel?) and a deep reservoir of film lore to boot.
Artist & Writer
Marvel / DC Comics
Green Lantern, Batman and Wonder Woman
Rich has been a recent, welcome addition to the stable of shots freelance writers. His research is in-depth, his communication is great and his enthusiasm for the subject on which he is writing is infectious, which carries through to the finished article.
I was delighted to have Rich on board for our Spotlight on Horror book. His writing is incisive, intelligent and most entertaining. Hoping this is the start of many projects together.
We Belong Dead Magazine
Thanks again for writing such a great article about our weird wee country and it’s film scene! It’s wonderful to read such thoughtful work about our film history and I think you write beautifully.
The Devil's Doorway
A lovely piece on Irish horror. Thanks for shining a light!