‘It’s Not If They Die, It’s How’ – Remembering Dani Filth’s Sick Horror Flick

Stefan Bollmann, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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A word of advice: If you ever run into blackened goth metal maestro Dani Filth in a darkened alleyway, turn around and run away as fast as you can! How do we know this? Well, we learned our lesson the hard way by watching Cradle Of Fear, of course.

This 2001 low-budget gorefest marked Cradle Of Filth‘s initial foray into the world of full-length horror features. Written and directed by “From The Cradle To Enslave” music video creator Alex Chandon, the film’s DVD cover promises “enough blood and guts to satisfy the most terminal gorehound.” While it may have some rough edges, there’s no denying that the blood-soaked flick effectively appeases the cravings of those with a voracious appetite for viscera.

Drawing inspiration from the anthology-style horror pioneered by UK’s Amicus Productions, Cradle Of Fear delves into the downfall of four culprits who ultimately meet their grisly demise at the hands of Dani Filth’s character.

Known only as ‘The Man,’ Filth masterfully wields his satanic goth powers to exact revenge on those involved in the incarceration of a criminal named Kemper.

The revenge-fueled narrative of ritualistic carnage exudes a raw and brooding ambiance, notably accentuated by the frequent use of slow-motion shots featuring Filth. Whether he’s casting mysterious gazes across a dimly lit nightclub at two enticing goth girls or elegantly strolling through the nocturnal streets of the enigmatic city, his demeanor remains perpetually brooding and indulgent.

The utilization of slow-motion sequences might be attributed to stretching the film’s two-hour runtime, or perhaps it’s an intriguing artistic choice – that remains open to interpretation.

A recurring theme emerges, characterized by an unmistakable aura of sensuality and gothic allure. Each chapter introduces a darkly seductive woman, often depicted in a state of undress, subject to a lingering male gaze. Despite occasional tedium, there’s a self-aware quality in every frame. 

In one standout moment, a woman implores her companion to touch her. Fingers probe her exposed abdomen before venturing beneath her underwear. The next thing you know, the man’s fingers are suddenly severed as an otherworldly arachnid emerges from the exposed stomach. It’s a blood-soaked, anarchic, and unexpectedly comical good time.

As part of a list of his personal Halloween movie recommendations for Alternative Press, Filth said of Cradle Of Fear: “[It’s] An Amicus-style horror anthology linked together by a story about an incarcerated serial killer who uses his man on the outside to exact supernatural revenge against the people responsible for his capture, this low-budget gore-fest is in parts funny, sexy, scary and downright shocking.”

He continues: “Add to that equation a plethora of freakish Filth compatriots, hideous deaths, some exquisitely risque actresses and cameos by the band themselves and you have yourself a heady B-movie brew that was (and still is) the most successful underground British film of recent years. 

“Oh, and Eli Roth most definitely stole his blueprint for Hostel from the last story about “the sick room.”

Is there a possibility for a Cradle Of Fear II? Filth told Metal Injection: “I’d love to do Cradle of Fear II, but again it would be such a massive undertaking. I’d have to get some proper massive investment to make that happen …”

“You couldn’t do a movie for less than £1,000,000,” he laments. “I mean, the catering budget for some movies is probably that. And obviously we would do it very underground and guerrilla style. But yeah, I think we’d have to raise an incredible amount of money.”