Since arriving in the remote village a couple of years earlier, the tall, long-haired, quiet thirty-year-old seemed to have settled in well. His easy-going manner and his willingness to help out when a neighbour needed a hand had earned him the acceptance he required to establish his new identity. For Billy Muirhead was not Billy Muirhead at all.
His music helped to keep him sane. Thanks to his music, his love for local girl Angela and an unquenchable sense of humour, all that had been placed on hold, at least for now. But time was beginning to take its toll. And then there were the ghosts. Again, it was largely Angela and her fertile imagination that helped to keep them at a safe distance.
For Billy Muirhead, aka Dr Patrick Cameron, former double agent and terrorist gang whistle-blower, was a man with not only a past, but also a conscience. With ghosts, he could cope. But, in his heart of hearts, Patrick had had enough. By day, as he kept abreast of the latest fascinating discoveries, he knew that was where his future lay, in medical research, searching for solutions to the many neurological disorders that were ruining the lives of so many older people, who found themselves living much longer thanks to advances in medical diagnosis and treatment. Research: he was destined to do important work, with a drop of luck and a strong dose of passion, searching for the breakthrough that would change lives.
But, as long as the Red Avengers were still out there seeking revenge, looking for blood, that future was out of reach. And, for a man like Patrick Cameron, that was like being on Death Row. Small West Country farmers like Gerry depended on a good May cut of silage to store up feed for their dairy cattle for the rest of the year. This part of England was usually blessed with such a mild climate and lush grassland which, for centuries, had helped to produce the rich milk, delicious premium quality Cheddar cheese and thick yellow cream for which it was famous.
But not this year. Climate change was playing havoc with the seasons. Which was one reason why the fifty-three-year-old had put on a clean shirt and a tie this morning and driven the fifteen miles into Yeovil. Normally, he would have dumped the letter in the bin as soon as it had arrived. They had tried often enough to bribe him to allow a dozen or more wind turbines on his land. But this letter was offering him a lot more cash every year, plus a seriously tempting lump sum. I may as well just go and hear what they have to say, he had thought.
Arriving ten minutes before the time on the letter, he was surprised to find so many of his neighbours already there. Like Gerry, they were all third or fourth generation families farming their patch of land, small farmers but it was in their blood. But these were big men from Somerset, who knew their trade and their region well. If you wanted an accurate weather forecast, up to three months ahead, these were the men to ask, not those prats on the telly.
Someone gave Gerry a cup of coffee as he greeted each of his neighbours in turn with a grunt. There was some truth in the standing joke that farmers could always find something to complain about — the weather was always too hot, too cold, too wet or too dry — but this time it was a good deal more serious.
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And, so far as Gerry could tell, the cash payments and the other parts of the financial offer they were making to the farmers came with no strings attached. Since school, Gerry had always found it hard to concentrate for long. As his mind wandered and he looked around him, something suddenly occurred to him — not all of his neighbours were there in the room. Several of the larger farm owners from his part of Somerset were missing, which was puzzling.
He looked again at the familiar faces. What was it this group all had in common? Size of herd? And then it clicked — only those whose land bordered directly onto the old Huxham Hall estate had been invited. Surely not. Curious or coincidence?
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Dark-windowed cars arrived, stayed a few days and left. Nobody was entirely sure. The wind farm team were winding up their presentation. This is in addition to the financial terms we have outlined to you today. The farmers stopped talking. Standing quietly at the rear of the room, a short stocky man in his late fifties, tanned and groomed but wearing an inappropriately shabby raincoat, wrote another comment in his tiny notebook.
The coat was borrowed from one of the staff to conceal the beautifully cut suit the man was wearing. Even if he had not been wearing the drab coat, nobody would have recognised Jean-Marie Hutz. His was not a photogenic face — many people found his eyes cruel and his rare smile quite unnerving — and tabloid fame held no interest. Power was all that mattered: power gave him control, control created fear, and fear was the fast track to victory — a philosophy he applied to every aspect of his life.
It worked rather well. But this morning, standing in the shadows in an anonymous community hall in Somerset, he did allow himself a quiet smile. Because he always insisted on the highest of standards for every tiny detail, it had taken him, and his unseen business guru, years to perfect this plan.
Perfection and genius, nothing less would do for Mr Hutz. Or his guru. And today he was happy with what he saw. The wind farms would generate a decent profit and the farmers would forever be in his pocket. Money spent on keeping people quiet was money well spent. Thirty minutes later, all seven farmers left the building with a signed draft contract, a cheque and mixed feelings. When Gerry drove up his lane, what he saw made him jam on the brakes. His farm gates were sealed and the house and land seemed to be occupied by scores of men in white overalls. Contaminated area.
Suspected BSE. By order: HM Government. I suggest you leave your vehicle here. Our friend Harry will take you now. He wanted to get into his house, his farm, his home, not some poxy hotel. The man continued. We are trying to avoid any public panic. I am sure we can count on your cooperation. Jean-Marie Hutz was making sure he arrived early so that he could supervise every tiny detail at Huxham Hall.
This was no ordinary meeting. This was to be the culmination of the master plan: the audacious political coup that would remove power from a system that had manifestly failed and place it in the hands of those most suited to the task. Hutz was born obsessively meticulous; everything had to be just perfect.
His earliest childhood memories had him patrolling the family house, straightening the cushions and curtains, ensuring the knives and forks on the dinner table were exactly parallel.
From the age of four, his mother never needed to tidy his bedroom; he saw to all that. And it was this obsessive attention to detail that carried him with distinction through school and university into his early days in the financial brokerage in Berne. It had never bothered him that nobody really liked Jean-Marie Hutz; he had never made close friends. What mattered to him was that everyone should know that, if you wanted a job done well, with no loose ends left dangling, Hutz was your man.
Blackrod had been conceived in the early nineties, when the emergence of the junk bond market allowed entrepreneurs with no assets to their name to raise vast amounts from investment banks that were hell-bent on growth at any cost, secured only against the notional property value and the projected profitability of the takeover target company. Read it at night Sue Copsey is an award-winning writer of spooky adventure stories for older children and young adults. She lives in New Zealand, which is disappointingly low on ghosts compared to her native England. Sue was a senior editor at Dorling Kindersley in London before moving to NZ, where she now works as a freelance writer and editor.
Sue has two children and lives in Auckland. A great read. If you know the book but cannot find it on AbeBooks, we can automatically search for it on your behalf as new inventory is added. If you do not adjust your settings, you are consenting to us issuing all cookies to you. Home Cineworld Blog 18 memorably terrifying movie moments from It's that time of year again when we look back at what's been an astonishing 12 months of cinema. And there were plenty of moments to tingle the spine and make us leap from our seats with shock this year. We're saluting the 18 scariest movie moments of the year — read on if you dare Expertly keeping the audience guessing as it vacillates between homely charm, violence and moving compassion, the film is a fine showcase for the perennially underrated Sam Rockwell as racist small-town cop Dixon, a deserved Oscar-winner for nailing an incredibly complex character.
The moment where his doltish facade gives way to savage violence is genuinely alarming to watch. Guillermo del Toro's Oscar-winning fantasy may glide along on an atmosphere of nostalgia and charm, but it's certainly nasty when it needs to be. Much of the threat stems from the terrific Michael Shannon as the rampaging Colonel Strickland, whose brutish, sadistic demeanour threatens the central love affair between mute cleaner Elisa Sally Hawkins and her aquatic fishman paramour Doug Jones.
The moment where Strickland flips his lid after Elisa signs bad language towards him is the first proper sign of violence and menace on the horizon. Marvel's Black Panther immediately entered the lists of greatest-ever superhero movies, emerging as a politically charged and exciting adventure that transports us into the extraordinary kingdom of Wakanda.
One of director Ryan Coogler's masterstrokes is to make the villain's intentions as relatable as that of the hero.
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It's just that while title character T'Challa Chadwick Boseman nobly honours the intentions of his people, villainous rival Killmonger simply wants to "burn it all". The frightening moment where the two men first confront each other, exposing Killmonger's valid claim to the Wakandan throne, is all the more chilling for how it presents a credible case for someone who would otherwise become a one-dimensional bad guy.
Originally intended for the big screen, then later picked up by Netflix, Alex Garland's ambitious reworking of Jeff Vandermeer's novel carves out a nightmarish identity of its own. Annihiliation is the story of four women sent to investigate the 'Shimmer', a mysterious eco-system that has established itself on Earth, and from which previous expedition members have either emerged insane — or not at all.
The horrifying moment where one of the group is thought dead, only to transmute into the personality of a ferocious bear-like creature, is one of the most agonising of the year. The acting of stars Natalie Portman, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Tessa Thompson, plus the blend of human and inhuman in the creature design, is more than enough to put us on edge. Steven Spielberg's nerd-friendly Ready Player One is adapted from Ernest Cline's novel, and is an enjoyably geeky celebration of retro pop culture from films to music and video games.
Spine-tinglers and thrillers for a chilling Halloween
There's little in the film to create a sense of menace — Spielberg keeps the heroes resolutely likeable and the villains somewhat goofy. That is until, in their quest for hidden treasure, our central characters are forced to unearth clues within a virtual reality simulation of Stanley Kubrick's classic horror The Shining. Those familiar with the film were startled by Ready Player One's digital expansion of key scenes like the flowing corridor of blood and the undead lady residing in Room Even more impressive is the fact the movie introduces its young 12A audience to one of the scariest horrors of all time — all the while pushing the scares and imagery to just the right level.
It's the first of those we're interested in here, a claustrophobic thriller from Steven Soderbergh shot entirely on an iPhone 7, which amplifies the sense of escalating dread. In truth the movie is intentionally ridiculous, drawing on the heritage of overwrought insane asylum movies as Foy's character Sawyer Valentini finds herself incarcerated against her will.
Such is the conviction of her performance however, that Foy is able to ground the lurid storyline in recognisably human fear.
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Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson's stage production Ghost Stories infamously made audiences leap out of their seat, and their ensuing movie adaptation stays true to the original's deliciously oppressive atmosphere. An anthology of spine-tingling tales wrapped around the escalating paranoia of Professor Philip Goodman Nyman , it honours the spirit of its ghostly British forebears from the s, as well as spine-tinglers from iconic writers like M. British veterans Martin Freeman and Paul Whitehouse turn up in key roles, but it's the petrifying segment featuring Black Mirror's Alex Lawther, as a teenager stranded with his parents' car in the middle of the dark woods, that nails the movie's brilliant blend of massive scares and tension-relieving laughs.
John Krasinski's superb directorial debut A Quiet Place takes as its basis the very sound of silence, the mere shattering of which marks the line between life and death. Krasinski co-stars alongside real-life wife Emily Blunt in this tense story of a family besieged by monsters that hunt on sound. The movie does a brilliant job of presenting diabolically gut-twisting variants on this simple idea, namely that the sound of running water can conceal the characters from the terrifying creatures.
This becomes especially apparent in a key scene where Blunt's character, having miraculously delivered her new-born baby, must conceal herself and the child behind a watery shield as one of the beasts closes in. We could be forgiven for losing our fingernails during this moment. Marvel's most ambitiously staged movie so far is nothing less than a culmination of 10 years of world-building. Assembling an enormous cast of characters from all corners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe MCU , the movie presents a diabolical threat that can't simply be dismissed with a mere punch-up, as the evil Thanos Josh Brolin looks to consolidate the Infinity Stones and obliterate half of all life in the universe.
Initially it looks as if the movie will cop out on this doomsday scenario — but the dreaded Thanos soon reverses proceedings and makes good on his scheme, causing half of our Avengers to crumble into nothing. Alan Silvestri's score dissipates into silence to capture the eerie sense of windswept desolation, making us question — where on Earth is Avengers 4 going to go from here?
Ari Aster's fiendishly chilling movie was the breakout indie horror hit of the year, another success story for studio A24 who had earlier scored hits with the acclaimed likes of The Witch. Filtering family melodrama through the prism of Satanic panic and occult menace, the movie's repeated imagery of dolls' houses and disquieting interior landscape shots make it seem like the characters are mere pawns, at the mercy of some malevolent higher power.
However the film's most shudder-inducing moment comes when clucking, disturbed daughter Charlie a sensational Milly Shapiro is unexpectedly decapitated during a car accident — shattering our perceptions of where the narrative is going. The drawn-out focus on brother Peter's Alex Wolff shell-shocked response is one of the most remorseless and brilliant portrayals of understated terror in recent memory.
The blockbusting Jurassic World franchise expands in this year's instalment, taking the dinosaurs off the island after a volcanic eruption and bringing them back to the mainland. Well, fortunately for us viewers, it allows director J.