Cradle of Fear (2001)
Dissection by Kelly
Currently listening to: Spinsters After Dark playlist
This month I am combining my love of metal, horror and the Filthy with a movie from my youth, one that is a part narcissism-part love letter to gore. It’s a movie directed, produced and written by Alex Chandon. I am talking about the not at all famous film of Cradle of Fear! Before you gasp in excitement about a film you’ve never heard of, let’s throw the devil horns and get into it.
Cradle of Fear has the band Cradle of Filth (symphonic black metal band from the UK) all over it. This is partly due to the fact that Alex Chandon, who has had a long association with Cradle of Filth, created the promo video for From the Cradle to Enslave, and he also directed the clips for "Her Ghost in the Fog" and "No Time to Cry", along with some band DVD commentaries. Actor David McEwen, who plays the serial killer Kemper, also appeared in the Cradle of Filth music video for "Her Ghost in the Fog", lip-syncing to a narration done by Pinhead himself - Doug Bradley. Throughout the movie, band members from Cradle of Filth appear in cameo roles, and a variety of music from their discography is used as part of the film’s score. Cradle of Fear is 666% a Cradle of Filth film and I am here for it. Did I forget to mention that lead singer, Dani Filth, has a role in it as well? He plays The Man, someone who does the bidding for the jailed Kemper. I don’t even think that Filth is acting as I have seen him live in concert and how he is on screen is the same on stage.
Cradle of Fear is an homage to the cult styling of the old Amicus and Hammer portmanteaus (more commonly known as an anthology) and was direct to video release in 2001. Besides starring Dani Filth, we have Emily Booth as Mel, Edmund Dehn as Inspector Neilson, and plenty of other unknown actors. Cradle of Fear was helmed by UK Empire movie magazine as “the best British gore film since Hellraiser” in 2002 and "It's definitely one of the grossest films I've ever seen!” by Tony Timpone (editor of Fangoria magazine). Do I agree? We’ll see.
The premise connecting the four different stories is a grim, interesting one. Inspector Neilson was involved in the investigation that finally led to the capture of Kemper, a rapist and serial killer of children. Kemper was a professional hypnotist and he was able to easily place trigger words in children and have them come to him. He was also a cannibal which allowed him to dispose of the evidence of his crimes. Kemper, behind bars for years now, uses The Man to seek revenge on those that put him there.
The four stories of horror and comeuppance are shown through cautionary tales of human ignorance and greed. The first short tells the tale of Mel, a sexually open goth girl who takes The Man home with her from the club to only be thrown into abject horror - she bleeds from her vagina, vomits and gives birth to a terrible demon baby. Ladies, remember this the next time you decide to swipe right on Tinder.
Then, two young women break into an elderly person’s home to steal money to only be haunted by their greed. But, not before they take a bath together in the same home they just stole from! There is no lack of nudity, boobs, and violence in Cradle of Fear. In the third short, we are introduced to a man and woman who are involved in a highly sexualized relationship. However, her handsome partner, with the most astounding metal armband I have ever seen committed to film, is an amputee. He doesn’t feel sexy anymore since he lost his leg in an accident so he does what any downtrodden man would do in this situation - he kills his old drug dealer for his!
Lastly, a journalist is investigating extreme horror, porn, etc on the internet all while claiming it hasn’t had any lasting effects on him. Ironically, this is right before he beats up a woman from his office. He becomes obsessed with the dark web, and a deeply hidden website where you can pay to torture and kill people. His spiral into the abyss ends in a way he definitely didn’t expect.
I hadn’t revisited Cradle of Fear in over a decade and honestly, I remembered not liking it all that much. However, this time around I really enjoyed it! Maybe my aging mind relishes in the insanity more than it used to. Cradle of Fear clearly had a micro-budget (~120,000 CAD) but overall solid acting, mainly from Edmund Dehn. As a Cradle of Filth fan for 20 years, I enjoyed seeing the band in the film and Dani Filth is a super babe. Along with the Cradle of Filth music, I thought the score was great and suited the film’s grim theme nicely. There were a few moments of horrendous CGI but it was forgivable due to the wonderful practical effects. Cradle of Fear definitely has moments of pure low budget cheese but never, ever skimps on the blood which I adore and respect.
Dani Filth and his vampiric comrades have been added to the (maybe?) ever-growing list of metal musicians making their way into horror. We have Dark Floors, a horror film with the band Lordi playing the monsters; 80s gem Trick or Treat with a cameo from Ozzy Osbourne and a role for Gene Simmons; as well Dee Snider from Twisted Sister wrote, produced, and starred in Strangeland. Are they great movies? You tell me! I personally love Trick or Treat.
I would give Cradle of Fear a ⅖ on the Nightmare Scale for chunky vomit, arterial sprays, and domestic abuse.
I hope you rocked out with your cock/clam/sock/strap-on/packer/etc out this month! See you in December for the next edition of Kelly’s Taboo Terrors...