London After Midnight: Bram Stoker Festival to offer Hammer Horror exhibition

Caroline Munro (seen with Christopher Lee in DRACULA A.D. 1972) will be in attendance.
Caroline Munro (seen with Christopher Lee in Hammer's DRACULA A.D. 1972) will be in attendance.

Mike McCarthy has had the good sense to choose dates for The Bram Stoker International Film Festival – from the 14th to the 17th of October – that will not clash with the other horror film festivals – not that it matters to me, because I’d be going to this one anyway! Last year I could not speak highly enough of Whitby’s very own horror festival, and looking at the things they have in store, this year is set to be even bigger and better!
There’ll be a world first Hammer Horror Exhibition, which will be attended by Hammer Horror historian Marcus Hearn. For those who were disappointed with Queen of Horror, Ingrid Pitt’s no-show last year (we can forgive her – she was unwell), Countess Dracula will be
there this year, as will English Actress Caroline Munro. The exhibition will give an insight into the Hammer Films legacy, with rare footage, original posters, unseen photos, prints, and artwork, scripts, letters, and most excitingly, upcoming Hammer films before they go out on general release.
Many of the films showing this year will be introduced by their directors and producers, and once again, the festival has a diverse line-up from all over the world, with many having their world or UK premieres at the festival.
The Saturday night will be a real doozy – with an amazing Vampire Ball planned, an opportunity for us all to dust off our favourite cloaks and revel in an evening of entertainment which includes a special rendition from the Millennium Choir.
Most interesting for me is the opportunity to see a fellow screenwriter — Frank Henenlotter will be taking questions from the audience about his films, which include Basket Case and Brain Damage.
As if all of this wasn’t enough the festival will have a special Steampunk Exhibition, stands, traders, special effects, and even its own award ceremony.
I’ll bring further updates in the coming months, but more information can always be found at http://www.bramstokerfilmfestival.com/

London After Midnight: Film4 FrightFest to screen Hatchet 2 and Last Exorcism

Hatchet 2August 26 this year sees the World Premier of HATCHET 2 at this this year’s Film4 FrightFest in London’s Empire Cinema. The opening night event will be attended by director Adam Green and cast members including Kane Hodder, Danielle Harris and Tony Todd.
HATCHET 2 promises even more gore and darker humour. Green says “Having the World Premiere at the opening night of FrightFest is really a homecoming for my monster Victor Crowley and I. It’s important to me that the first audience to see this should be the very audience that breathed life into HATCHET and turned it into a franchise. While the first film was a love letter to the films I grew up on, this film is my love letter to the fans – the original “Hatchet Army”.
And although FrightFest have premiered both HOSTEL and CABIN FEVER, Director Eli Roth will be making his first FrightFest appearance, when he and director Daniel Stamm close the festival with the European Premiere of THE LAST EXCORCISM on Monday August 30th.
THE LAST EXORCISM sees the disillusioned Reverend Cotton (played by Patrick Fabian) arrive at a Louisiana farm expecting to perform his last ‘routine’ exorcism but nothing could prepare him for the true horrors that lie ahead….
With such a fantastic opening and closing night already announced, one can only imagine the horrors that will be sandwiched in between!
Film4 FrightFest 2010 runs from Thurs 26th August to Monday 30th August at the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square. Festival & day passes go on sale from 3rd July. Tickets for Individual films will be on sale from 26 July. Bookings: 08 714 714 714 or www.empirecinemas.co.uk
As from 16th July, FrightFest will be launching a bi-monthly E-zine, packed full of exciting content, with exclusive world-wide access to the talent both in front and behind the latest films. To register for the E-Zine go here: http://www.frightfest.co.uk/e-zineregistrati.html
I’ll announce more updates as they happen.

London After Midnight: Edinburgh's FAB Fest Films Announced

FABFestADThe FAB Fest horror and fantasy festival will run from 30th April to 2nd May inclusive. Screening more than 15 features at The Filmhouse Theatre in Edinburgh, the festival promises to be frighteningly entertaining. Announcing lost treasures and premieres, guest appearances, give-aways and Q & As, the organisers are promising three days of movie excess.
Premieres confirmed so far are as follows:
UK premieres:

  • KAIFECK MURDER – Terrifying supernatural chills in the Bavarian wilderness.
  • THE END – Audacious and gripping. Without doubt one of the most original films of the last few years.
  • THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION OF LITTLE DIZZLE – Best director award winner, and a genre-defying cult classic in the making.
  • 8TH WONDERLAND – Award-winning, ground-breaking fantasy epic. (PLUS GUESTS / Q&A)
  • LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN – The latest gut-wrenching urban horror film from legendary New York director Buddy Giovinazzo, who will be attending the festival as our guest of honour and will also be screening his personal director’s cut print of his cult classic debut COMBAT SHOCK. 

Scottish premieres:

  • A DAY OF VIOLENCE – Unrelentingly brutal new British sensation. (PLUS GUESTS / Q&A)
  • YESTERDAY – This zombie apocalypse labour of love is one of the great DIY horror films.
  • MUST LOVE DEATH – A brilliantly shocking, wickedly cruel and humorous outsider view of love gone mad.
  • RESURRECTING THE STREET WALKER – Superb new British indie horror that heralds a major new talent. (PLUS GUESTS / Q&A)
  • NEIGHBOR – An astonishing modern Grand Guignol masterpiece. (PLUS GUESTS / Q&A)
  • REEL ZOMBIES – The most downright clever zombie movie of the last few years. (PLUS GUESTS / Q&A)

Tickets are available from www.filmhousecinema.com or by calling 0131 288 2688 . Tickets can also be purchased in person at the box office.  Tickets are £65 for the full three days.
There’ll be more films announced shortly, and we’ll do our very best to keep you up to date.

Antichrist (2009)


Lars Von Trier’s 2009 film ANTICHRIST is quite a work of art but after hearing so much about the film; I am surprised to say it isn’t at all what I’d expected. In fact I’m not sure this is a horror film at all – more a drama with some horror elements. Certainly a great piece of eye-candy, ANTICHRIST is entertaining, whilst being rather slow, and somewhat confusing.
The film opens with a stunningly beautiful and perfectly directed scene of our unnamed couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) making love. The passion is captured in graphic, slow motion, black and white, and in spite of the odd close-up shot of real sex (which is over very quickly) this is very tastefully done. Unfortunately for our couple, whilst they have their moment of ecstasy, their young son is climbing on the window ledge and falling several stories to the ground below.
Following the death of their son, the woman feels like she’s losing her mind and her husband, a psychotherapist, in spite of his own reservations, decides to treat her himself, whilst hiding his own grief he struggles to help her deal with hers. He takes her to a cabin in the wood to face her fears, and it is here that things go from bad to worse. Nature itself seems to be against them; even the acorns which fall constantly from the trees seem to have malevolence about them. The woman’s grief spirals out of control and only violent sex seems to pacify her. Her husband tries to talk her down, but spends a lot of time thrashing around naked with her.
It eventually becomes apparent that there is a reason for her behaviour, but I wasn’t convinced by this. Because of the title alone I had anticipated a bit of devilish involvement and all hell breaking loose, and though there are strange visitations by a deer, a crow and a very absurd fox, the devil doesn’t seem to be involved – whatever is happening to this couple isn’t powerful enough for the finger of suspicion to point at ol’ Beelzebub.
Eventually the wife completely loses it, and in a scene reminiscent of Stephen King’s Misery we are witness to a very bad case of spousal abuse!
The story is told in four chapters, as well as a prologue and an epilogue and the beautiful colours change from blues, through greens and browns, and it is this stylish and striking look of Antichrist which makes it special. Yes, the very real sex scenes are a talking point, and yes, the horrific violence is also worth a mention; however, both of these things are over very quickly, and it’s the beauty of the film that will remain etched on your brain after everything else has paled.
The two actors held my attention very well. One reason may have been their unusual looks – we all know Dafoe is a funny-looking man, but oddly, when Gainsbourg contorts her face in sorrow and anguish, she looks very similar to Dafoe! Strange looking or not, both actors were equally convincingly as they embraced each scene unflinchingly. Without them, ANTICHRIST might have been too strange to enjoy, but with them it is quite a compelling watch.
ANTICHRIST (2009). Director-Writer: Lars Von Trier. Cast: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg.
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The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009) – Film Review

New Moon (2009)THE TWILIGHT SAGA: NEW MOON has to be the most anticipated film of the year, at least by high-school girls. I’ve read the Stephanie Meyer books on which this film and its predecessor, TWILIGHT, were based, and thought they told a great story. The first film, however, left me disappointed:TWILIGHT was not gritty enough, and the actors were not capable of expressing the deep emotions of the characters. The result was nice and charming but could have been much more. As a mother of a teenage daughter, there was no way NEW MOON was going to pass me by, and in any case, I hoped it’d be an improvement. Sadly it lacks even the charm of TWILIGHT, but that’s not to say it’s all bad.
I should start by saying that Pattinson is the most bizarre choice to play Edward! This is supposed to be the most gorgeous man imaginable – too beautiful to be human – and yet Pattinson, who looks fine from the front, has a profile that is stomach-churningly weird! (I have a feeling I’ll be getting hate mail for this!)
As a horror fan, I would prefer these films with a real element of danger in them; they could have – and should have – been at least a little bit scary. Instead, the filmmakers choose to focus almost entirely on the relationship between Bella and Edward, with the ‘vampire thing’ being the modern day version of dating a boy from the wrong side of the tracks. So what we have in New Moon is the second in a series of romances.
Edward is scared for Bella’s safety, knowing that so much as a paper cut has a certain member of his family licking his/her lips. So, with his usual pained expression, he tells Bella ‘This is the last time you’ll ever see me.’ Whilst we know this promise can’t possibly be true, there is a long period of screentime when I almost began to miss that weird looking vampire!
Initially distraught, Bella spends months crying in her room (this kind of obsession is unhealthy – and teenage girls need to know this!). Her father is worried, and threatens to send her home to her mother; Bella wants to stay in Forks, should Edward have a change of heart (although why Edward is so attracted to this clumsy, awkward girl, with no personality, remains a mystery!).
To appease her father Bella makes an effort to hang out with her mates, in particular Jacob. Realising that when she puts herself in danger, she sees crystal clear images of Edward acting like her guardian angel, Bella begins to put herself at risk, pulling increasingly dangerous stunts. Edward, believing one of these stunts has led to the demise of his beautiful Bella, goes insane with sorrow and rushes off on a suicide mission to Italy to reveal himself. The Volturi – the Godfathers of the vampire world – will kill him if he reveals himself for what he is. Bella and Alice are hot on his heels, but can they reach him in time?
Bella’s life has been further complicated by Jacob: he clearly adores Bella, and she definitely has feelings for him. While Edward is absent, Bella is tempted by Jacob; though I found their relationship unconvincing, I’m not surprised she would be interested: he’s beautiful, honest and reliable. Of course Jacob is no ordinary teenager, and it’s not just that he has a body hot enough to make the entire audience gasp the minute they see him – no, he’s a werewolf! Sworn to protect his turf from vampires, but torn because of his love for Bella and her love for Edward!
Man, this is complicated stuff; unfortunately, it is written for the teenage audience and therefore is simplified beyond belief. The film moves so abruptly through time that I am grateful I had read the book; otherwise, I’m sure I would have enjoyed New Moon even less.
Of course, there is no question that New Moon does exactly what was intended: it has teenage girls everywhere arguing about whether they are on Team Edward or Team Jacob! So what is it that makes Twilight so appealing in spite of the fact that it’s poorly acted and nothing near as good as it could be? Well, who doesn’t love the idea of invincible, beautiful vampires living amongst us? What could be sweeter than the thought that one of these divine creatures could fall for us, and maybe even take us with them into their world? What about werewolves who would die to protect us? It’s a nice idea, and certainly for girls, this idea coupled with the eye-candy is enough to keep us on tenterhooks for the next in the series – and once you’ve accepted that the Twilight series is not going to be the dark and sinister gritty tale it could have been, but rather a sweet, teenage romance with a twist, you might actually find yourself enjoying it!
TWILIGHT: NEW MOON (2009). Directed by Chris Weitz. Screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer. Cast: Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Ashley Greene, Anna Kendrick, Michael Welch, Justin Chon.

London After Midnight – Day of the Undead Festival

LA HORDE will screen at
One of many films screening at the 12-hour zombie-fest.

Wow! This one very nearly slipped through my net! DAY OF THE UNDEAD scheduled for 28th November 2009 in Phoenix Square, Leicester, England is a 12-hour Zombie-fest,  now in its third year. It promises Zombie films, make-up artists, computer games (with great prize for whoever kills the most virtual Zombies!), caricaturists, book signings, horror traders, and a ‘best dressed Zombie’ competition.
There’s a world’s first screening of the British Zombie feature, Zombie Undead (2009). The original Dawn of the Dead (1978) in Hi-definition (which will be a highlight for me, I’ve been dying to see this on the big screen!), Pontypool (2008) , Dead Snow (2009), La Horde (2009) – which is another one I’d recommend – and Zombieland (2009).
Confirmed special guests are:
Jasper Bark: author of ‘Way of the Barefoot Zombie’ from Abaddon Books, who will be signing copies of his novel.
Nick S. Thomas and Michael G. Thomas: authors of the indispensible ‘ZOMPOC – How to survive the Zombie Apocalypse’ released on October 31st, 2009, they will be also be signing copies of their book.
Tickets for the full 12 hours are £20 with individual tickets at £5.80.
Details of how to get tickets can be found on their website here.
It’s worth turning up early because the first 250 people through the door will get a lucky bag with lots of zombie bits and pieces; some will contain DVDS and signed books, and there are prizes to be won all day long….
As a Zombie fan, this is one I won’t be missing – and I hope to see you there!!

London After Midnight: Abertoir Horror Festival Review

AbertoirWe managed to survive our trip to Wales for the Abertoir Festival in spite of the all-consuming fog that threatened to swallow us up on what turned out to be a quite perilous journey home in the wee hours of Monday morning. As delighted as we were to return from Aberystwyth, and leave behind the horrendous weather we had endured over the previous five days, we were sad that the festival had come to an end – our time there had been filled with great horror films, fantastic special guests, informative talks, and wonderful company. Gareth Bailey had clearly tried to organise a very ambitious festival this year – and I’m pleased to say he succeeded. The fourth Abertoir festival was bigger and better than ever!
The festival, which ran from the 4th to the 8th of November, had many great films, which I’ll be reviewing separately over the coming weeks. One of my favourites was THE DESCENT PART 2, and I was delighted to meet the Director Jon Harris, who was there to introduce the film. There was also a very interesting question and answer session after the screening. Harris spoke of how odd it was to film in polystyrene sets that were tiny and looked unreal; it made it very difficult to direct because a lot of vision and imagination was needed – at the moment of shooting, a lot of it looked plain ridiculous!
 Harris also praised his cast for doing an amazing job of looking scared, given the fact they were, in effect, being confronted by ‘stupid bald guys wearing nothing but a thong and KY Jelly!’ He added that the men who played the crawlers were freezing cold because they were pretty much wearing nothing but the aforementioned thong and KY Jelly. Fortunately, they were cast from a dance school, so their on-screen movements work very well.
Abertoir had a great werewolf-themed evening, which kicked off with a rare opportunity to see the AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON (1982) on the big screen. Following this was an interesting and informative talk called ‘Werewolf Hunting for Fun and Profit’ by author, journalist, and occult expert Gavin Baddeley. Gavin is currently promoting numerous projects, including his books ‘The Gospel of Filth: A Bible of Decadence and Darkness,’ which is available for pre-order, and his recent release ‘Saucy Jack: The Elusive Ripper (Devils Histories)’
Other special guests included the Godfather of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis, who was there to introduce his newest film THE UH-OH SHOW – those of us at Abertoir were the very first to see this as it was fresh from the cutting room, and not quite finished! As well as introducing his film, Lewis also offered a low-budget film making master class.

Deborah Louise Robinson & Doug Bradley
Actor Doug Bradley & CFQ correspondent Deborah Louise Robinson

Doug Bradley (AKA Pinhead from Hellraiser) was also at Abertoir, to introduce the second in his Spinechiller series: Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-tale Heart. He gave a presentation on film make-up and masks called ‘The Man in the Mask’. I spoke to him about ‘The Tell-tale Heart,’ and he was a lovely guy who was genuinely interested in what I had to say. Again we had an opportunity to see a classic film on the big screen with an afternoon screening of HELLRAISER.
The Carlsberg Short Film Festival gave us the chance to watch and judge a lot of great (if a little weird!) shorts, including the winning film WHEELCHAIR WEREWOLF which was pure genius!
Tony Hickson’s NASTY SPLURTY BRAINS was one of the short films entered, and Tony was there for the full five days which meant I got to spend a lot of time talking to him; we’d met at another festival earlier in the month and it was nice to see a familiar face.
Abertoir also had a special performance of A Night at the Grand-Guignol. Anyone with a love of amateur dramatics would enjoy this. Although I confess that this is not quite my cup of blood, it was clear that the majority of the audience thoroughly enjoyed it.
Gareth Bailey worked relentlessly to ensure that events ran smoothly, and the result was a very well-orchestrated and friendly festival. His special guests spoke of how well he’d looked after them and how he had spent the time to make them feel welcome. On top of looking after the guests and organising the festival, Gaz also worked as the projectionist for a lot of the screenings. I think the guy must have almost lost his mind trying to keep it all together, though honestly he seemed quite sane – until the day he turned up dressed as a pimp – but that’s another story!
Kudos to the Film Agency for Wales for helping Gaz to make this happen.

Doghouse (2009)

A refreshingly lively, upbeat zombie-horror film, entertaining right to the final frame

doghouseI’d been looking forward to Jake West’s DOGHOUSE for some time, I’d been expecting something along the lines of LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS, which had made me smile and kept me entertained. However, whilst the premise is similar to LVK, DOGHOUSE is far superior; it was a scream from beginning to end and definitely one I’d recommend.
When a group of everyday, football-loving, beer-swilling, blokes decide to take their mate Vince away to a quiet village to take his mind of his impending divorce, they are expecting to find a village full of hot, single women, and spend a few days drinking and partying. When they arrive in Moodley however, the over abundance of females is not such a boon after all!
The women of the town have all contracted a gender specific disease which has transformed them into Zombirds, they’ve devoured all the men and this group of unsuspecting fellas soon realise that a town full of man-hungry women, is far from a good thing.
The characters West has created are your archetypal British males, they love Match of the Day, beer, and women (apart from Graham, he’s gay). That’s not to say these are one dimensional characters, nor are they all the same, they share the same interests, but West has taken time to give them each some depth. Neil (Danny Dyer) is sexist and arrogant and played well by a somewhat typecast Dyer, and whilst not all of his friends agree with his chauvinistic views, it isn’t long before misogyny rules and the battle of the sexes commences, and it’s easy to understand why once you see the women of Moodley!
doghouse zombie womanThe Zombie women are formidable, and imposing; each one of them different – the scissor wielding hairdresser and the axe wielding bride are particularly sinister. This is what’s so original about this film, each of the Zombies has a very different look, almost like comic book characters, and this was a stroke of genius. I also like the way the Zombies move, particularly in phase one of the virus, jerky, erratic movements, which make them frightening even though they move slowly. However, this isn’t really a scary film because the screenplay keeps the mood light from start to end. The entire film is laced with a good balance of humour and tension, although it isn’t just a case of telling jokes and slipping in the odd one-liner, it’s more a case of the characters themselves being genuinely funny guys – and it’s great fun seeing the bizarre and inventive ways this group of men go about evading the women of Moodley.
The weapons of choice are also comical, when one man threatens another with a fireplace brush it’s hard to take it seriously, but that’s fine, Jake West clearly didn’t want to make a serious, scary film, instead settling for a rip-roaring, well-paced, action packed, funny, and thoroughly entertaining watch.
The acting across the board is brilliant, I can’t fault the casting: even the zombies were well cast. That usually wouldn’t matter, but in Doghouse the Zombies as individuals do matter.
Doghouse is a refreshing, lively, upbeat film, entertaining right to that oh-so-wonderful final frame.
DOGHOUSE (2009). Director/Writer: Jake West. Cast: Danny Dyer, Stephen Graham, Noel Clarke, Terry Stone, Christina Cole, Lee Ingleby, Keith Lee Castle, Emil Marwa, Neil Maskell.

Tormented (2009)

tormentedJon Wright’s 2009 British horror TORMENTED is not the scariest film I’ve ever seen, nor is it the funniest; however, there’s something about it that stopped me from switching off.
Preppy head girl Justine (Tuppence Middleton) speaks at the funeral of Darren Mullet. She doesn’t remember Mullet, of course; he was just the big fat kid whom all the ‘cool’ kids thought it was fun to bully. For Mullet of course, it wasn’t fun at all, and it ultimately led to his suicide.
Later that evening Justine dumps her usual nerdy friends to go and party with the ‘in’ crowd and, more specifically, Alex (Dimitri Leonidas). She is soon accepted by the cool kids, and things between her and Alex heat up. Before the night is over, a killjoy Mullet decides to come back from the grave and gatecrash.
The rest of the film sees Mullet reap his revenge on his hateful classmates in a whole host of weird and wonderful ways, and it was the inventive deaths that kept me watching.
Tormented is shot like modern glossy U.S. Horror; it even has a pool party, really – a pool party, in England – outdoors! Because that happens all the time over here, honest! The glamorous cast also help to add to the American feel, but in spite of these Americanisms, the screenplay itself is very English. Whilst there is humour involved, it’s a bit hit and miss – only occasionally making me smile and, for the most part, actually irritating me a little.
I was hoping this would be a 1980s style stalk ‘n’ slash flick, but it just doesn’t have that edginess about it. The imaginative deaths certainly hark back to my favourite era, but the fact that they are mostly shot in daylight, in a sunny classroom, rather than having the madman creeping around in the shadows, certainly means that the atmosphere of the film remains light and airy in spite of the increasing death toll.
Tormented does show the impact on the poor victims of constant bullying and harassment, portraying the bullies as the evil, thoughtless, bastards they are. However, it also goes some way to show that children often bully so that they themselves will stay in with the ‘in’ crowd and not become victims themselves.
Of course a film of this genre would not be complete without some sex and nudity, and Tormented delivers a little of both. What was surprising was that the semi-naked bods are all male for a change, whilst the female cast get keep their modesty. Something that will, I’m sure, be disappointing to the spotty adolescent boys who watch this kind of stuff in the hope of seeing the obligatory bare-breasted females.
The humour in this will no doubt appeal to many people, even though it isn’t to my taste. Tormented certainly isn’t worth buying, but a rental may be worthwhile in order to see the creative deaths; however, given that almost all of these are shown in the trailer, it’s a close call.
TORMENTED (2009). Director: Jon Wright. Writer: Cast: Alex Pettyfer, April Pearson, Dimitri Leonidas, Calvin Dean, Tuppence Middleton

London After Midnight: Mayhem Horror Festival Review

mayhem-horror-festivalWith such a lot of great festivals to choose from this Halloween, it wasn’t an easy decision, but I had to choose – eventually I opted for the Mayhem Horror Festival in Nottingham, England, which ran from 29th October to 1st November. There was always a risk of regret, but I liked the look of their programme, and it was only a couple of hours drive away, so I was happy to take the chance. I’m so glad I did, the festival was everything I’d hoped it would be, and more……
I arrived in Nottingham on the 29th with my son Steve, and after throwing our things in the hotel, we hot-footed it down to the venue: The Broadway. My first impression was of an ordinary cinema. However, some time had been taken to ensure people knew they were in the right place – the Mayhem logos in the windows, for example.
I was quickly met by one of the festival directors Chris Cooke. The poor bloke had been suffering with a bad cold/flu which had decided to surface just when he needed it least. But in true Brit style he maintained a stiff upper lip, and soldiered on as if all was well with the world.
My notion that this was an ordinary cinema flew out the window as soon I sat down – man, those seats were so well upholstered, plump and spongy! Steve and I looked at each other, let out a happy sigh, and nestled in for the film.
The festival was certainly geared towards quality over quantity; in fact, I’m surprised to report that although some were worse than others, there was not one really bad film! In fact there were some damn good ones, and I quickly realised that their criteria for selection was ‘the more wrong it is, the more right it is’!
The schedule included old favorites like HELLRAISER, CARRIE, and THE HAUNTING, along with new fare like LA HORDE, a french “end of the world battle between gangsters, cops, and zombies” from Xavier Gens (exec producer of FRONTIERS) and HIERRO, a nightmarish film from debut director Gabe Ibanez, which features some of the team who worked on THE ORPHANAGE and PAN’S LABYRINTH. Other titles included MACABRE (a tongue-in-cheek splatter combo of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE and THE ADDAMS FAMILY) and SOMEONE’S KNOCKING AT THE DOOR (in which bad drugs resurrect the spirits of crazed ’70s killers). The fest wound up with the off-beat GRACE, which portrays what happens when the titular mother brings her dead fetus to term, and it mysteriously ressurects…
I was very pleased to meet Steven Sheil and discussing the horrors his film MUM & DAD contained, including whether they were entirely necessary. We agreed they were (yes, even that ‘meat’ scene)!!
I was also lucky enough to meet Marc Price, the filmmaker behind the £45 Cannes sensation COLIN (whose gimmick is to tell the story from the POV of the titular zombie, from “being bitten to returning from the dead and wandering through a suburban zombie apocalypse”). Although I can’t believe his £45 claim, I found Price to be a very funny guy.

CFQ correspondent Deborah Louise Robinson with filmmaker MIke Hodges
Deborah Louise Robinson and Mike Hodges

The highlight for me was meeting Mike Hodges, who was there for a Q & A session following a screening of his BLACK RAINBOW, his excellent but sadly overlooked supernatural thriller (the United States didn’t even bother to put it in theatres, shipping it off to Showtime – shame on them!).  I enjoyed BLACK RAINBOW, and also his brilliant GET CARTER, but my main reason for being delighted to meet him was that he was also the man behind FLASH GORDON back in 1980. I’ve always had a soft spot for this film, as it was one of the first features my twin sister and I saw on the big screen back when we were kids. Over the years I’ve seen it countless times, as have my own kids. Yes, I know, the acting isn’t amazing, but it has some great action, fantastic direction, and some kick-ass funny lines – not to mention Brian Blessed’s perfect performance as Prince Vultan! Mike Hodges, I salute you.
fright meterI also volunteered to be the ‘victim’ in Mayhem’s first experiment in terror from The Thrill Laboratory. I was told I was meant to be the second person to take part, but the journalist who was due to go before me (who shall remain nameless) had a panic attack and did a runner! So I was first up, and I’m sure a great disappointment to the Thrill Lab guys, as I pretty much flat-lined at zero fear the whole time! It isn’t that the films weren’t scary; they were, and the people who did the test later, did get some more action on their stats. I’m so glad it worked out this way; it wouldn’t do for a die-hard horror fan like me to display fear. Fear is for mere mortals!! In any case, this was a fun addition to the festival.
Alas, I was unable to attend their Halloween party, and that’s a shame, because it looked to be a great shin-dig. Next year I’ll keep my diary clear.
I always like to give a special mention to my festival buddies, and sadly it was not until the last day that I met a great guy called ‘Bear’ and his friends Dee, and a girl who’s name I’ve shamefully forgotten; she was lovely too, so I’m so sorry for having a brain like a sieve – and maybe that goes some way to explaining why I was so diabolical at the quiz too! I’d also like to say a huge thanks to Chris Cooke for making Steve and me so welcome and for smiling through his illness with such good humour.
In summary, the Mayhem Horror Festival was a nice, steadily-paced festival, which whilst not brimming over with films, had a real high quality selection and certainly enough wrongness to gratify the most hardened of horror fans.