[continued from Colin Theys and his Giant Rabbit]
Yesterday we saw how SFX wiz Colin Theys had learned much of his craft working on a short comedic film about a giant rabbit with a giant tongue — Harold and Burns. That was in 2007. His first feature-length flick for independent production company Synthetic Cinema International is set to be something rather different.
Theys’ film, Banshee!!! (for which he directed and handled creature SFX), is a re-working of the Banshee of Gaelic folklore.
A group of college friends on a spring break camping trip are stalked and slashed by an unknown creature with the ability to make them hallucinate through sound waves. The survivors hold up refuge in an isolated farmhouse, cut off from all communication. Now, they have to come up with a plan to kill this unrelenting creature before it kills them.
Traditionally, the Banshee is a female ghost, or faerie, who wails around a house when someone is about to die inside it. Inspired, no doubt, by the eerie howls the wind can make on stormy and ominous nights, she is therefore a herald of doom. The line between “herald” and “bringer” can, often, become blurred.
According to Wikipedia, the term banshee is an anglicisation of the Irish bean sídhe or bean sí, or the Scots Gaelic bean shìth, – both meaning “woman of the fairy mounds” or “woman of peace”.
In Irish legend, a banshee wails around a house if someone in the house is about to die. There are particular families who are believed to have banshees attached to them, and whose cries herald the death of a member of that family. Traditionally, when a citizen of an Irish village died, a woman would sing a lament (in Irish: caoineadh, [ˈkiːnʲə] or [ˈkiːnʲuː], “caoin” meaning “to weep, to wail”) at their funeral. These women singers are sometimes referred to as “keeners” and the best keeners would be in much demand. Legend has it that, for five great Gaelic families: the O’Gradys, the O’Neills, the O’Briens, the O’Connors, and the Kavanaghs, the lament would be sung by a fairy woman; having foresight, she would sing the lament when a family member died, even if the person had died far away and news of their death had not yet come, so that the wailing of the banshee was the first warning the household had of the death.
In later versions the banshee might appear before the death and warn the family by wailing. When several banshees appeared at once, it indicated the death of someone great or holy. The tales sometimes recounted that the woman, though called a fairy, was a ghost, often of a specific murdered woman, or a woman who died in childbirth. (Wikipedia entry)
As such the Banshee shares characteristics of phantasmal female figures from other cultures — women who seek vengeance or at least recognition for injustices done to them during their life.
In Theys’ Banshee!!!, however, the female figure has been replaced by a demonic creature that utilises its keening wail to hunt and kill its victims.
I must say, despite the generic nature of its baseline plot (college friends/young folk on a trip getting killed by monster/slasher/alien — think Jeepers Creepers, Reeker), this looks impressive — and I’m keen (maybe even keening) to see it.
Older poster art
Here is the trailer, though I’d advise going to Theys’ website and watching the high resolution version he has there, if you can.
- Source: Banshee!!! movie MySpace page
Oddly enough, there seems to be another film with the same basic title (though sporting fewer exclamation marks) currently in post-production: Banshee (US-2009; dir. Emil Novak and Mike Bohatch).
This one utilises a similarly non-traditional interpretation of the Banshee folklore.
Mysterious Banshee eggs secretly sent from Ireland to America begets a wild bird with part human blood. Raised in a train terminal she always had plenty of food. When the terminal closed in the 70’s her resources for food diminished and she was constantly hungry. Now renovations have started to bring the terminal back to life- and the Banshee is ready, with her offspring, to once again feed. That wailing sound you hear means dinner’s ready! (IMDb)
For more traditional cinematic banshees, you could consider the old Disney flick from 1959, Darby O’Gill and the Little People (dir. Robert Stevenson). When I was a kid, the scene where the banshee comes keening through the night, heralding the arrival of Death’s spectral carriage, scared the willies out of me (see below).
The Vincent Price flick Cry of the Banshee from 1970 does, however, veer toward a more malevolent and pro-active interpretation of the Banshee’s role:
In Elizabethan England, a wicked lord massacres nearly all the members of a coven of witches, earning the enmity of their leader, Oona. Oona calls up a magical servant, a “banshee”, to destroy the lord’s family.