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/
I have just returned from THE BRAM STOKER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, which took place in Whitby, England from 16th to 19th October. This was the first year for the festival and I was pleasantly surprised at how well organised and professional it was. I had an amazing time and met some great people.
Let’s start with my first impressions. I was warmly welcomed by festival director Mike McCarthy who showed me round the venue (The Whitby Pavilion), and I was instantly impressed by how they’d transformed this quaint, old-fashioned theatre into a cinema: installing a good sized screen and excellent surround sound, not to mention fantastic green and red lighting effects to create the perfect ambiance between the films. It was clear that a lot of effort and attention to detail had gone into the planning. There was a constant countdown to the next film displaying on the screen which was brilliant when we wanted to know if we had time to eat, or powder our noses before the next thrilling instalment. It’s obvious that sitting for over 12 hours in any theatre seat is going to have some negative impact on the old derrière, but the seats were remarkably comfortable for the first few hours. The best thing about the venue for me was how dark it was; darkness is a prerequisite for horror films and this theatre was pitch black.
Just before the launch party my son Steve and I had the pleasure of meeting Biff, the singer from Saxon. I love the band and was delighted to meet Biff and his wife!
I won’t dwell on the launch party for too long, but I’d be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention it. The evening included burlesque dancers, a geisha girl, break-dancers, belly dancers, a contortionist and The Mocky Horror Show. Most of these performances were appropriately themed for a horror event. The Mocky Horror Show, whilst not being as good as I’d expected, did manage to get everyone on their feet for “The Time Warp,” including me, which is no easy task! The highlight of the night was Chris Cross the contortionist: not only is he an absolute freak when it comes to body bending [and I know this wouldn’t offend him, he knows he’s a freak – and he’s cool with it!] but he is also an excellent comedian; he managed to lift the audience where the host ‘Marcus the undie-taker’ had failed. In fact this guy would have been perfect to keep the crowd entertained and bring some levity between performances: he has a real charm about him; he’s a great entertainer – and man, those funky shoulder blades made me cringe! The only real problem with this launch party was Marcus, his between-act links had the crowd groaning: he was the most unfunny, uninteresting, pitiful performer I’ve ever seen, and I know he won’t be invited back next year! All things considered, however, it was a good, entertaining opening night.
As a screenwriter, I found it most interesting to talk to the directors, producers and actors who attended the festival, and they all gave up their time for a special film-makers’ workshop with some local students. I was delighted to attend and found it a very informative and useful session. I’m sure the students enjoyed it as much as I did, and it was great that the opportunity was there for them. Participating were: actress Rachel Waters (Temptation), actress Caroline Haines (Temptation), director Catherine Taylor ( Temptation), producer Steve Jaggi (Temptation), producer-director Darren (Nightlife), journalist Nina Romian, director-writer Devi Snively (Death in Charge), producer Augustine Fuentes (Death in Charge), writer-producer Rod Morris (Dying Breed), and journalist Gavin Baddely.
The films were a great mix to suit all tastes, nobody is ever going to enjoy all the films at a festival, but with such a variety, there was something for everyone. I’ll review the films separately, but my favourites, which really deserve a mention, are as follows:
- KIRKSDALE (a macabre and perfectly produced short directed by Ryan Spindell)
- INSIDE (a brutal story filled with tension directed by Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury
- DYING BREED (a quintessential Aussie horror directed by Jody Dwyer)
- WASTING AWAY (a Zombie film from the perspective of the zombies, directed by Michael Kohnen)
- THE FOX FAMILY (a Korean film directed by Hyung-gon Lee, which was as strange as any film I’ve ever seen!)
There were so many other great films which I’ll try to cover on the site in the coming weeks.
I have to give special mention to Devi Snively (writer-director of Death in Charge) and Augustine Fuentes (Producer of Death in Charge). My son and I met them on the first night, and over the course of the next few days we shared many a frivolous conversation, talking about film making, the films we’d watched, how tired we were, and of course there were plenty of conversations about nothing in particular, and these are always the most fun!
My gut feeling tells me that next year you’ll need to secure tickets early! The Bram Stoker International Film Festival is here to stay, and it’ll be even bigger and better next year. My heartfelt thanks to Mike McCarthy for making us feel so welcome and for putting on a damn good show. I’ve had the time of my life, and I’m already looking forward to next year!
One of the organisers of THE MAYHEM HORROR FESTIVAL has very kindly given me a few updates. Firstly, and most importantly for anyone wishing to attend, the website to purchase tickets is www.broadway.org.uk (not “co.uk” as previously stated), and tickets will be on sale in the very near future. The festival’s official site, where you can find details of their ever increasing line-up of films and special guests can still be found at www.mayhemhorrorfest.co.uk.
There are several preview screenings to be seen here: for example, Hierro, which will not be released until next year. Other freshly announced films include Colin, the low-budget zombie movie that caused a sensation at Cannes Film Festival, and when I say low-budget, I mean low – this was made for only £45! Special guest director Marc Price will be attending. The award-winning and utterly disturbing Grace has also been confirmed, along with Australian psycho thriller Coffin Rock. Also showing are the Grindhouse styled Someone’s Knocking at the Door, I Sell The Dead, The Haunting, and a special midnight screening of the original Hellraiser which will tear your soul apart…..
They will also have their very own Mayhem Vault of Horror, a special screening of the scariest shorts from the nightmare makers of the future.
THE BRAM STOKER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL in Whitby, now only a few weeks away, is advertising 23 U.K. and 3 World premieres including the world premiere of Orlok 3D which is a re-imagining of the 1922 silent classic Nosferatu, based on the Dracula story. The festival has a huge line-up of films which can be seen on their website at www.bramstokerfilmfestival.com
Tickets will be on sale from this coming Tuesday. £88 buys a four day pass to all screenings and the fantastic opening night party; this is a festival not to be missed.
FRIGHTFEST which starts this Thursday is promising to be better than ever this year! They have over fifteen U.K. premieres and over fifteen World premieres, along with many special guests. Films are now confirmed on their website at www.frightfest.co.uk, but if you want tickets, hurry, the sands of time are fast running out…….
Oh dear, oh dear – it would appear that we have been a tad remiss in keeping you up to date with recent happenings in good ole’ blighty. Don’t panic folks! You will no longer be entirely reliant on Google for your news of all things British! I will grab the ‘London After Midnight’ page, give it a good few thumps on the chest, breathe some life into it, and see if I can’t get it up and running again! I’ll endeavour to keep you up to date with British festivals, Region 2 DVDs, and anything else that I think you guys over the pond are missing out on….and if you think I’ve missed something, tell me and I’ll be all over it like a bad suit.
In the first instance let’s get you up to date on the upcoming horror festivals. I’ll give you quick overview for starters and I’ll follow it up with more detail later. Here they are, and in true movie style, I’ll list them in order of appearance:
FILM4 FRIGHTFEST IN LONDON
The next one for our diaries is of course, FRIGHTFEST which is always held over August bank holiday weekend, and this year runs from 27th August to 31st August. With more than 45 films showing over 5 days [including a Halloween all nighter], this festival sure packs a lot in!
Held at the Empire Theatre in London’s Leicester Square, and sponsored for the third year by FILM4, FRIGHTFEST hit the scene in 2000 and has quickly become the largest genre festivals in the U.K. [although it may now be under threat of losing that title with the new BRAM STOKER FESTIVAL making an appearance, but more about that later]. Among the many highlights this festival has to offer, the special guests include AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON director John Landis, THE HILLS RUN RED director Dave Parker, SMASH CUT star David Hess [who also played the original Krug in 1972’s THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT], special effects make-up artist Paul Hyett, and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS remake team Adam Gjerasch and Jace Anderson.
In addition to the fantastic film line-up, [which can be seen on the festival website at www.frightfest.co.uk] and the special guests, there are several special events, including ‘Andy Nyman’s 100 Best Deaths’. Here Andy will be the well informed and very amusing host who will guide the audience through a variety of screen deaths. Andy is best known for his roles in SEVERANCE and DEAD SET and also stars in one of the films screening at FRIGHTFEST this year, BLACK DEATH.
There will also be a special seminar for screenwriters called ‘The Horror of Writing,” which will give guests the opportunity to get involved in writing a screenplay and see it through to production development.
THE DESCENT PART 2 will close the show on the 31st with almost the entire cast and crew in attendance.
You can see more details of all the films showing, which include several premieres, and all the other special guests and events by visiting the festival website, where, of course, you can also buy your tickets!
BRAM STOKER FESTIVAL AT WHITBY
The next one to look out for is THE BRAM STOKER INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL which takes place from the 16th to the 19th October. Set in the beautiful coastal town of Whitby, which originally inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula story, this festival is set to become as big, if not bigger than FRIGHTFEST. Scheduled to screen over 50 films, including lots of UK, and several World premieres, THE BRAM STOKER FESTIVAL would like, if they may, to take you on a strange journey…… Once you have been greeted by their 666Gorefest and Sin City Girls, you can enjoy the opening night celebrations, which begin with a fantastic Burlesque cabaret show, and will include TRANSYLVANIA presenting THE MOCKY HORROR SHOW, which is sure to be a blast…..after all, who doesn’t want to do The Time Warp again?! The show will be interspersed with guest speakers from the film industry and will finish with a late night feature. Guests are encouraged to attend wearing suitable horrifying/vampire/character attire…[note to self: Check wardrobe!]
Whilst one of the guests has been confirmed as Ingrid Pitt, famous worldwide for her roles in Hammer horror movies such as THE VAMPIRE LOVERS and COUNTESS DRACULA, another celebrity guest is being kept firmly under wraps. They say he’ll be revealed at the festival, but is a ‘Hollywood legend’ who has ‘terrified cinema goers worldwide’ and starred in over 50 films….intriguing I’m sure you’ll agree. I’ll report back later and let you know who this special guest was!
There are several more special guests and details of these and a full line-up of the films can be found at the festival website at www.bramstokerfilmfestival.com, where you can also buy your tickets. There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this new festival, and I have a feeling that it’s here to stay, which can only be a good thing for us horror fans.
MAYHEM HORROR FEST IN NOTTINGHAM
Next up is the MAYHEM HORROR FILM FESTIVAL from 28th October to 1st November, in Nottingham, there isn’t a whole lot of information as to what’s showing yet, but it will feature Steven Sheil’s MUM & DAD [and I don’t mean he’s bringing is parents!] where Sheil will introduce his movie and host a Q & A autopsy about the making of horror movies. This festival is in its second year; having focused on shorts last year, it promises to be bigger and better in 2009.
I’ll add more information on this festival as I hear it. In the meantime you can see their website at www.mayhemhorrorfest.co.uk.
HORROR UK IN FAREHAM & ABERTOIR IN WALES
Colliding with the above there’s the HORROR UK FESTIVAL which takes place in Fareham, on 30th October to 1st November. This appears to be a small festival, with hardly any films confirmed as yet. It must be small because they say that entry is free for all film viewings and events. Their website is a work in progress, so in fairness to them, I’m sure it’ll look a bit more exciting nearer the time. www.horroruk.com.
Finally we have ABERTOIR, Wales’ only horror festival which takes place from 4th November to 8th November. Details for 2009 are scant, but last year featured over 30 films, live music by Daemonia [featuring former Goblin keyboardist Claudio Simmonetti], and Doug Bradley [aka Hellraiser’s Pinhead] performing his one-man show, An Evening with Death. Check out www.aber.ac.uk for updates, but be careful: once you get past the splash page, the website (as of this posting) consisted of old information from 2008.
So, there you have it, consider yourself well and truly informed….and I’ll endeavour to keep you that way…..