Food Review – Dip & Flip Brixton

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Image by Dip & Flip Brixton

Roughly 7 and a half months ago, my wife and I came in to possession of a financially crippling, sleep prohibiting crap factory. We love him dearly – so much it hurts. I mean, literally hurts. Every once in a while an angel of mercy (a friend offering to babysit) will allow the wife and I a few hours of shore leave from H.M.S Insomnia. Sunday was such a day.

We decided to visit to Dip & Flip Brixton because they combine roasted meats and gravy with cheese burgers. No further explanation needed.

The journey there was leisurely. The Victoria Line was easy to navigate through when not in parental mule mode – i.e. a baby chimp strapped to my chest and the chemistry set required to feed and sanitise him in a backpack. We emerged from the tube station like hungry urban mole people and walked five minutes to 64, Atlantic Road, Brixton.

If I had to identify the colour of Dip & Flip’s exterior, I’d say it was the colour of an unpainted model plane. We entered and I was pleasantly surprised. The lighting was just dim enough to conceal my now haggard, bleached baseball mitt of a face, that had spent months contorted in anguish trying to do up the poppers on a onesie at 5am. For the first time in months the subdued lighting meant that onlookers would not be able to tell if they were bags or merely shadows under my eyes. This was all short-lived as we rounded a corner and sat near some big french doors. Still, for those few moments, I felt beautiful again.

The staff managed to walk the fine line of an acceptable level of friendly and polite. Too often in London have I encountered the, ‘This-place-is-actually-really-cool, it’s-a-privilege-for-you-to-eat-here-and-we’re-kinda-doing-you-a-favour-by-letting-you-exchange-your-grubby, basic-bitch-money-for-our-food.’ type of staff *cough* The Blues Kitchen in Shoreditch, *cough*. The opposite end of the spectrum is of course the waiter that sits down with you at your table while he/she is taking your order… I mean… the fuck is that about?

No. Dip & Flip’s staff were lovely. The sort of non-threatening, pleasant demeanour/vibe you’d get from a comforting dental assistant or someone that would stop you in the street to tell you you’ve got bird shit on your back.

For drinks, like the word ‘Uno’ tattooed on an arse, I had a cheeky little Spanish number, in the form of a pint of Estrella. It made a refreshing and delightful change from the seven months worth of coffee that surely made up eighty per cent of the content in my veins. My wife had… I’ve forgot, hold on…

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For food, my wife chose a Dip Sandwich – Slow Roasted Lamb, Mint Sauce and double dip gravy. I chose the Dip & Flip Burger – Beef patty, cheese, cabbage slaw, pickles, mustard and ketchup topped with slow roasted lamb dipped in gravy, squeezed into a brioche bun. Oh and I had some fries.

We waited for our meals and it was wonderful to sit and talk about things, adult things, our new mutual love for Sesame Street may have cropped up at some point, but overall we talked about adult things. Not once did the phrases; “Have you smelt him? Does he smell pissy?”, “Shhh. It’s OK. Shhh. He’s having a moan, have you got his crunchy book?” or “Oh god. How’s he managed to get a hold of that? Get it out of his mouth. For Fu-”

After not an unreasonable amount of time had passed, the food arrived. The waitress set down a couple of metal trays and an extra dish of gravy each for dipping. I asked my wife if they had forgotten to give us cutlery. She called me ‘a fool’ and gestured towards the kitchen roll on the table. The realisation was instant, ‘Oh, I see. We are to disgrace ourselves.’

I clutched the cheesy, gravy, breaded meat block in a sweaty paw and bit into the burger. The combination of lamb and beef with the, gravy, cheese and pickle was so good, for the first time in my life I felt envious of animals I was eating. It was grease-covered hands down the best burger I’d had London. The gravy was so good to dip in, had my own child fallen in a bowl of it, I may have been inclined to wrap him in brioche. The chips were well seasoned and had a resilient crispy-ness, which meant that they could hold the gravy and their crunch after being dipped. And oh how they were dipped.

My wife thoroughly enjoyed her sandwich. She said there was so much mint sauce on it she could taste mint when she burped hours afterwards… which is a good thing, apparently.

Our trays emptied, our guts full, my wife and I left Dip & Flip Brixton. We felt a little more in love, a little more refreshed, a little more rested for a little fella to get home to smear with kisses, laced with the grease of the petting zoo we’d just consumed.

 

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#4: The Brood (1979)[Blu Ray]

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O Canada! There’s so many things I love about your country. From the turquoise glacial lakes that bejewel your lush green valleys like a She-Hulk vajazzle, to the cuddly, soft fur that now lines my arteries after indulging in your poutine. But of all the things you’ve given the world, one of my favourite is David Cronenburg.

Watching a David Cronenburg Horror film is like mentally stepping on a slug barefooted. His earlier works like Videodrome, The Fly and Scanners are each grotesque and unique Body Horror masterpieces. The Brood is no different to it’s disgusting cousins.

Psychotherapist Dr. Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed, Gladiator) runs the Somafree Institute, where he treats patients with mental health issues. However, Dr. Raglan has developed a new treatment he calls ‘Psychoplasmics’… qu’est-ce que c’est Fa-fa-fa-fa, fa-fa-fa-fa-fa. The treatment is an intense role-playing therapy that allows the patients psychological trauma to manifest itself in physical changes in their bodies as an outlet.

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Frank Carveth (Art Hindle, The Void), who absolutely looks like a cross pollination of Topher Grace and Peter Dinklage, has a wife, Nola (Samantha Eggar, Dr. Doolittle), residing at the Somafree Instituite. Frank returns home after taking their daughter, Candice, to visit Nola and finds her back covered in bruises. Frank begins to question and confront Raglan about whether his unusual therapy is helping or hindering his troubled wife.

Frank starts to make arrangements to prevent his wife gaining access to Candice. This then coincides with a brood of murderous, deformed children in snowsuits, violently killing the individuals Nola identifies and confronts through Dr. Raglan in her therapy sessions. Frank takes actions to protect his daughter, and in doing so, uncovers the horrible secret of, what? and where? these deformed murder infants come from.

Hint. It’s fucking disgusting.

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The story is original and you’ve never quite got it figured out until the last 20 minutes or so. The narrative doesn’t move too quickly and events are left to unfold while the pacing gains a steady momentum. The film doesn’t feel the need give the audience a scare to keep it’s attention. It has confidence in the pay off of it’s climax and it doesn’t disappoint.

The Hitchcockian musical score by Howard Shore is an unashamed homage to Psycho. When it’s combined with the Cronenburg visuals, the effect is as jarring and unsettling as a ride on the Dodge ’ems after a three meat carvery and a pie and custard dessert.

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Just the opening ten minutes will make you think, ‘Fuck me, I miss Oliver Reed’. The very first five minutes of the film where Reed’s character Raglan is role-playing and chastising a patient is a thing of beauty. His whispered, yet chiding line, “Did you say something? Such a… soft, little girl’s voice, I couldn’t hear what you said”, is so emasculating in it’s delivery, I began lactating.

There’s always another level to the horror when the monsters are children. Children are naturally disarming, even when they look like the product of Boris Johnson inseminating a gremlin, as is the case in The Brood. This means they’re bludgeoning some poor sod to death with a couple of snow globes by the time they realise they should have kicked the kid out of the fucking window.

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Now I’m off to partake in my standard post-Cronenburg brain cleanse by smashing my head into the sofa cushions until his images are dislodged from my mind and fall out of my ears.

 

 

#3: Attack of the Killer Tomatoes (1977) [Amazon Prime]

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I’m in a better mood for this one. No unpleasantness on the commute to or from work today. I saw an old lady gently ramming a sleeping homeless guy with her Zimmer frame outside a bank on my way to the station, but she probably had her reasons.

So…

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes… cool, that’s the entire plot and the title of the film covered.

I’m going to struggle to write anything here. It’s supposed to be a comedy horror but trying to discuss the horror aspects of the film would be like trying to discuss the nutritional value of Play-doh. The film is a patchwork of gags, a few musical numbers and some normal tomatoes and foam tomatoes being rolled at people running away from them. It’s all about as coherent as a drunk Wookiee with peanut butter stuck to the roof of its mouth.

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The closest the film even gets to generating the slightest bit of horror is in a throwaway gag to demonstrate the American President’s incompetence. He suggests that he used the Statue of Liberty as collateral against some ‘Arab loans’, and that could actually be a reality by the time I’ve published this.

The production in the film is so poor that, if it was a person, Jeremy Kyle would be seducing it with fags and Stella to exploit it on his show. The audio is nearly all out of sync, you can see the ropes in shot that the crew are using to move the big tomatoes around and the sets look about as solid as a pickled Rusk.

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The humour isn’t too bad; I found that my wife and I were laughing frequently throughout, not just ironically at the absurdity but also some of the gags too. Admittedly, we probably aren’t connoisseurs of wit. (She sees the world how Neo comes to see the Matrix but the fabric of her reality is made up entirely of puns. Where as, putting Sesame St. in for my son in the morning convince people that the Cookie Monster is the funniest shit I’ve ever seen. The blank looks of response I get tell me, “He’s not Ste, you’re just not getting enough sleep.”) Surely though it must be the humour that redeems it. Killer Tomatoes must have been considered funny enough to eventually generate several sequels and a pretty cool cartoon series in the late 80s.

I found out, through extensive suits-style paralegal research that I do for all these reviews, some truly useless trivia you’ll never use. The eventual undoing of the Killer Tomatoes is a song they hate called ‘Puberty Love’ by ‘Ronnie Desmond’. The high pitched voice that performed the Donnie Osmond pisstake in the film was actually Matt Cameron, later known as the drummer for Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. So that’s nice, innit?

Christ, i’m just padding out the word count now. That’s enough. Finished.

 

 

 

 

#2: Kill List (2011) [Amazon Prime]

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Christ. It’s only Day 2 and I’m regretting starting this ‘film a night’ bollocks. I got on the wrong train home last night. I ended up heading to Mitcham or Morden or Mordor or wherever the fuck? I arrived home, in Croydon, gone 9 fucking PM. Had a late dinner and didn’t get the film on until gone 10 fucking 30PM. Then I got a total of 5 hours of sleep before being awoken by my baby boy/noise machine, mockingly blowing raspberries from his cot. It’s the latest sound he’s added to the repertoire of noises that let Mummy and Daddy know that his nappy has exceeded it’s quota of piss for the night and he no longer wishes to remain unconscious in it. Then I started writing this… anyway.

Jay, (Neil Maskell, Utopia) is an Iraq veteran living with his wife, Shell (Myanna Buring, The Descent) and his son, Sam, in a typical, northern, suburban new-build home. However, far from living in domestic bliss, Jay and Shell’s relationship is under strain by financial difficulties. Hitman Jay hasn’t worked for eight months and is reluctant to get back to professional killing again. It is alluded to that his previous job in Ukraine went terribly wrong. This appears to have left Jay’s mental state in a fragile condition.

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Financial salvation appears in the form of Gal (Michael Smiley, Rogue One, but will absolutely be forever known to me as Tyres from Spaced), Jay’s best mate and business partner. Gal arrives for a dinner party with his new girlfriend and with a job offer he’s received for Jay and himself. After pressure from Shell, Jay accepts the job offer.

Something appears unusual about Jay and Gal’s new employer and the contract. That is to say, it’s even more unusual than all the other times they’ve been paid to snuff out fellow sentient skin sacks filled with offal. Firstly, Jay is made to sign the contract in blood, then all the targets on the ‘Kill List’ recognise Jay, but he doesn’t know them. More peculiar is the fact they thank him before for killing them. As the plot unravels, it appears the employers are an occult society.

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Fans of British 70s horror cinema will notice obvious influences drawn from the likes of Wickerman and Blood on Satan’s Claw, but then entwined with a vein of black humour that’s darker than a Guiness turd in a tar pit. The film is more than just a simple homage to 70s British Horror.

Released in 2011 amidst a global financial crisis, the recession being referenced in the film, it definitely resonated with a cultural mood at the time. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars were winding down and Veterans returning home to a broken country may have been have felt incredibly frustrated that they now had to fight again just to own a home. As a post-grad finishing University I shared part that frustration too. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing a TV Production degree in Huddersfield a tour of Baghdad. The closest I got to injury from a deadly, explosive device was thumb-cramp trying to swerve blue shells on Mario Kart. There was, however, a feeling amongst my peers and myself, that any fair chance of entering work place and becoming contributing adults had been hampered by financial institutions, none of which seemed to be held responsible. Like the occult society in Kill List, it felt as though there was a class in the upper echelons of society that were completely untouchable and could operate how they wished without reprisal and the lives of us mere morlocks had been gambled away in a game we didn’t even realise we were a part of. Woah… heavy man.

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Those unfamiliar with Director, Ben Wheatley’s other works may find the pacing in Kill List staggered and unenjoyable. The film alternates between; mudanities of everyday life, long suspenseful scenes that build an undercurrent of dread with gut wrenching violence peppered throughout. The result is an emotionally disorienting experience, where we’re left to stumble around blindly, not knowing what horror awaits around each corner. By the end you’ll be left with a thousand yard stare contemplating all you’ve just witnessed.

It’s like doing a Saturday food shop in Lidl.

 

 

 

 

 

#1: Les Yeux Sans Visage (Eyes Without a Face) (1960) [Blu Ray]

eyeswithout_headerI’m going to start my month-long ode to horror films with a 1960s black and white, stylish, French cult classic, because clearly there aren’t enough amateur Film Critics eagerly inhaling their own flatulence on the internet.

Eyes Without a Face takes place in the aftermath of a car crash involving a renowned transplant surgeon, Professer Génessier (Pierre Brasseur) and his daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob). The Professor escaped unscathed, but it left Christiane with a face like a punched trifle. Determined to right this wrong, the Professor and his assistant, Louise (Alida Valli), begin abducting young women. Their plan is to surgically cut off the faces of their abductees and find a fizog that’s biologically compatible with Christiane.

Christiane is initially set up as the monster of the feature. Her skeletal frame is concealed beneath a stiff, white housecoat. A haunting musical score accompanies her as she ghosts from one room to another in a eerie, stuttering ballet. Her slim long neck, like that of a Cluedo game piece, protrudes from her collar and her hair is brushed around an emotionless mask that covers her ruined face. The iconic mask is terrifying in it’s pale, emotionless simplicity. Nestled within the mask are a pair of sunken eyes that have given up all hope and are resigned to being trapped within the horror of their reality. Imagine your face frozen in the expression you have when the menu boards at MacDonald’s roll over to the lunch menu, because it’s gone half 10 and McMuffins are off the menu. That’s the mask.

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Christiane’s existence is that of a broken doll. Her father’s obsession with fixing her is not out of a parental love for his daughter nor a sense of guilt for merging her face with the dashboard of his Renault. Christiane is the victim and captor of her father’s ego. He sees his inability to fix her face as more of a slight against his abilities as a surgeon. Génessier even admits that he prefers the unconscious dog on his operating table to his daughter because it’s easier to graft skin to the doggo. He’s the type of Dad whose birthday card you’d order from Moon Pig or something.

Professor Génessier is the real monster in the film. The clinical and surgical manner with which he slices his victims faces off is far more disturbing than frenzied slasher. His abuse of Christiane is not limited to imprisoning her and subjecting her to repeated transplant procedures. It’s the grotesque, inevitable outcomes he’s forcing on his daughter. She must either wear the faces of his victims until the flesh slowly rots off her face, or the transplant is ‘successful’, and Christiane must wear the victim’s face for the rest of her life.

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Professor Génessier rarely gets his hands dirty. His Assistant Louise, a cross between Igor and Lynn from Alan Partridge, stalks vulnerable women that may be a biological match for Christiane’s transplant. As a former patient she feels indebted to Génessier, having received a faustian-deal-face-transplant from him at some point in her past. Now she feels compelled to spend her days capturing young women for the Professor and fly tipping their corpses like fucked Ikea furniture.

Eyes Without a Face has many layers. From the pitfalls of ego to a Mary-Shelley-god-complex-within-science fable. However, the theme that makes the film uncomfortably relevant again is how an abusive patriarchy feels entitled to brutally dehumanise, use and discard the women he encounters. Professor Génessier finds that he is able to hide behind the veneer of his philanthropy and his standing as a reputable surgeon. Génessier is basically a wank away from being Harvey Weinstein with a scalpel.

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The film is beautifully shot. The writing isn’t hacky like so many horror films in the late 50/early 60s. Georges Franju manages to draw out some powerful performances from his cast and it all lends tremendous credibility to the horror genre. My only criticism would be that the whole thing is in a different language, which is typical of the bloody French.

Exisles Issue 1

I wrote a web comic about a post-apocalyptic Britain, ‘Exisles’ (no that’s not a spelling mistake), the year after I’d finished Uni. Two friends (George Boylan and Andrew ‘Swiss’ Swingler) and myself got together every week in George’s tiny bungalow in Huddersfield to write. I can remember sleeping top to tale on the floor of George’s computer room with Swiss in excruciating heat and systematically kicking each other in the head throughout the night. Good times. I’d change a lot about Exisles reading it back now, but it seemed a waste to keep all the pages on my hard drive doing nothing, so here they are.

Note: Click on image if text appears too small, it will allow you to zoom in

comic-cover Continue reading “Exisles Issue 1”

Netflix Review: Ultimate Beastmaster

If you’re anything like me an average week day evening consists of getting home from work, showering, cooking one of the four meals in your repertoire that can best described as ‘edible’ and then fending off the existential crisis that looms over the empty repetitive nature of your existence, making you wonder if you are merely an insignificant bunch of ones and zeros in the background of a computer generated reality, like a pedestrian in Grand Theft AutoContinue reading “Netflix Review: Ultimate Beastmaster”

Netflix Review: Doomsday Bunkers (2012)

As the impending shadow over Dystopia looms over us with; Brexit, Trump: The Movie, ISIS, Zika Virus, the inevitable future re-emergence of MechaFarage and our reality being swapped out for the augmented version available on Pokemon Go, Doomsday Bunkers has arrived on Netflix UK in the nick of time.

Doomsday Bunkers offers a fly on the wall look in to Scott Bales and his Texan based bunker building business, Deep Earth Bunkers. Each of the three available episodes features Scott and his crew servicing a terminally paranoid clientele, that refer to themselves as ‘Preppers’ (people who are preparing for various impending apocalypseseses), by planting fortified metal boxes in the ground. Continue reading “Netflix Review: Doomsday Bunkers (2012)”

MasterChef Review – Week 1: Cae Hard with A Vengeance

MasterChef is back!” exclaimed nobody …ever.

There are however, millions of dick bags across the country, myself included, looking forward to suddenly mutating in to fair weather food critics over the next 12 or 13 weeks. Whilst watching the first episode, this mutation took place instantly within me (bearing in mind that I at one time believed Campbell’s Meatballs in a bowl of Super Noodles was an acceptable version of Spaghetti Bolognese), I somehow found myself tutting, shaking my head disapprovingly and uttering the words, “He’s fucked his walnut gnocchi, look.” Continue reading “MasterChef Review – Week 1: Cae Hard with A Vengeance”

The Baby Steps of An Introvert – THE GYM

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To say that I had recently put on a bit of timber would be an understatement. Towards the end of September my biological make- up resembled that of a Richmond sausage. The realisation kicked in when I found myself emitting breathy chant of “I-think-I-can”, like The Little Engine That Could, as I clambered up two flights of stairs at work. Three years ago I was 9 and a half stone wet through. That wasn’t necessarily a healthy weight but nearly four stone later and I‘d wildly over shot a ‘healthy weight’ like a coked up Angry Bird. Continue reading “The Baby Steps of An Introvert – THE GYM”