On The Otherwise: The Screenplay For a Horror Film That Never Was

                                                               By Mark E. Smith & Graham Duff (Strange Attractor Press)



In this case its death, as well as daring, as the event
That I’m marking is the release at last of a script
By Mark E. Smith and Graham Duff, two cult fed writers
Who, while their disciplines differed each tailored tales
And stories fit for both stage, screen and crypt.

For this is a well prepared film, the fruit of a projected
TV series, withered on the twisted vine of commission
For being ‘too weird.’ It is not. Off the beaten track, possibly,
Matching the locale of its story: Pendle of all places,
Where mixed with mire lost footsteps lap land and folklore

To mark a location in which time is reminded
That legend licks language and cannot be forgot.
Smith is conjured up too, by Duff.
The Fall are characters in the story, recording an EP,
While three Jacobite ghosts stalk the lane.

And where the sons of witches converge
And come close to endangering women,
And where Smith appears sagely, posing in scenes
Made fag and pint-vivid as the lost man re-emerges
From the simple print of his name.

An old singer’s folk song imprints inside the makeshift
Studio setting. Ancient coins act as switches releasing
Light through water and a mucus like growth
Through the bins of the studio speakers within
As a sense of random violence soon gathers

Alongside plans for rape and resistance,
As eras as esoterica mingle, in this snake-like
Screenplay in which genres are shedding
All expectation and skin. The Fall record all the while,
The songs used as source music. Making this film

Their version of A Hard Day’s Night. Fitting, mate.
As it was sparked by Smith and shaped by Duff
To showcase, the fact that the Fall were a landscape
For riot and rule. A template for what form can be
In line with style; something shifting, as rock

And punk reconfigure under Smith’s Dada speak;
That dense poetry, alongside his avant-narrative explorations
Which are exemplified later as 25 songs as story
Are opened out. Smith’s technique was something raw,
Yet full formed, primed by Can and Camus of course,

And by all of his reading and watching. And this book
Also houses discussions and essays that further reveal
The full man. Who in hitting the North brought an avalanche
Of ideas to all places, as seen in the scribble of his quickly
Written aheets and brain plans. Smith’s widow,

Elena Poulou sets the scene, chronicling evenings around
German Soaps, love and Dallas, while revealing the gentle
Behind the leering gargoyle. While Duff expounds
On Smith’s myth which fashioned fans as disciples,
For him, getting to write with his teenage hero

Made TV’s hoary work holy as wine was traded
For Pilsner and they lit the lamp of art. Laughs as oil.
So this book is much more than a script. Its beautiful bind
And soft, smooth bulk appears human. It serves to disrupt
What was fearsome in and around Mark Smith’s rep.

For as Mark and Graham talk on in transcript form
Time’s rewinding, summoning those old tapes
And bootlegs from which the lost revive, while we’ve wept.
Words return men. And you hear Smith speak through
These pages. For that act alone then, its worth it.

The Otherwise of the story are also the substance
Which Smith inhales as he smokes in some other North,
Somewhere suitably bleak. Stars are raining.
But where he is still heard to cackle, while describing
In words which burn brimstone the meaning within

God’s grim joke. Picture the album cover for that;
Smith and stars, saucers, chimneys, and behind his sneer 
Oozing aether, an alien on guitar. You can feel it all
In this film. He may even have Lindsay Anderson with him.
O, Lucky Man, Graham, to have written with him.

What adventure. The script ends with a shovel
Straight in the face. Words like this win us,
And they can change us too, as they scar.



                                                                                       David Erdos,  5/10/23 








This entry was posted on in homepage and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.