It was our first time at Abertoir, and we couldn't have been made to feel more welcome. Everyone was lovely and helpful and they treated us like family. And by that I mean family you actually like seeing, not your weird, drunk uncle who tells you to pull his finger and rants about the monsters who live in his toilet.
|Lord Summer Ale|
But I'm getting ahead of myself. John and I got a chance to chat to Steve Oram on Day 1, just before watching his latest creation, AAAAAAAAH!, with a live commentary. It's like an acid-fuelled National Geographic documentary on the brutal, rutting, fighting, cannibalistic antics of... humans. No dialogue, only grunts and growls. Much pissing on fridges, cooking of testicles, and baring of breasts on cookery shows. It's a bit of an endurance test and I can honestly say I've never seen anything like it before.
|Frizzi 2 Fulci|
|Shark vs Zombie!|
After that came TALES OF HALLOWEEN, which went down much better with the Abertoir crowd than the FrightFest one. Pollyanna McIntosh still steals the show with her sexy/frightening madwoman act, although the little "Twick or Tweat" alien from Mike Mendez's "Friday the 31st" segment is a close second. What could possibly follow all this lunacy? Why, a little Australian comedy called DANGER 5, complete with live commentary by creators Dario Russo and David Ashby, who brought along a bag of ingredients to concoct some very special drinks of their own, which some audience members were brave enough to down. We weren't sure if we were going to like the live commentary, as we hadn't seen the show (or even heard of it), but it was so anarchic and maniacal it actually enhanced the whole experience. We went back to the hotel that night and ordered the DVD. Can't wait to watch it all properly, although we'll miss the crazy anecdotes. At least we got to chat about Nazi dinosaurs and "Bitch Killer" with the DANGER 5 guys over what would otherwise have been a civilised breakfast. I can't help but wonder what the family next to us thought!
Day 3 gave us a short film competition with some really great entries. Short films tend to be a bit of a mixed bag, but we all got to score these and I was delighted to hear that my favourite one, "Sanguine Craving", had won. Such a clever, funny and unexpectedly sweet little piece.
And DEADMAN INFERNO! I almost forgot! It was yakuza vs zombies and a lot of fun, with endearing characters and some great zom-com gags!
On Day 4 I got to see one of my all-time favourites on the big screen - PROFONDO ROSSO! Rather shockingly, about half the audience had never seen it before, and it was interesting to hear their reactions. I think it truly is a giallo masterpiece. The final film of the evening was billed to us as a knockabout comedy, but was actually quite terrifying. ATTACK ON TITAN featured giant humans with no genitalia and mouths with too many teeth who stomped around and bit the heads off the normal-sized people trying to fight them. At one point there was a giant baby and I just knew it was going to come after me in my nightmares. Comedy??? Maybe "comedy" as Ramsey Campbell understands it.
|fun with clowns|
THE WITCH was another bloody scary film. Religion always scares me, and here the brutal Puritanism of the lives of an outcast family was more disturbing than the witchcraft they were so afraid of. These simple, honest people prayed every night, insisting that they were horrible sinners who deserved the fires of hell simply for existing. Well, they were looking for hell. They found it. Excellent and highly disturbing. In the words of Gary McMahon: "a stone-cold masterpiece". If you were going to make a horror film to terrify a 17th century audience, this is exactly what you would make.
|more fun with clowns|
Day 6 brought us FRANCESCA, an ode to the giallo that was so spot on it could easily pass for an original 1970s film. We cheered at every J&B sighting and thought the ending was sublimely wacky.
We had to miss Robert Lloyd Parry and the final film, BONE TOMAHAWK, but we were glad we stayed for THE INVITATION. That's my personal "best of the fest". It's about a group of friends in LA and a dinner party that takes a turn for the weird. To say any more would be criminal. The least you know going in, the better. It really unnerved me and 24 hours later I can't get it out of my head. Who knew the director of the lacklustre AEON FLUX had such darkness inside? I'm definitely a fan now!
And so another fantastic festival comes to an end. It was an ordeal getting there and often an ordeal getting out the front door (with gale force winds trying to slam it shut in your face!), but overall we had a brilliant time and we can't wait to go back! Only next time I think we'll dress up. We've got a couple of costume ideas in mind. Oh yes. Watch this space.
|"Twick or Tweat!"|