Tuesday, 6 October 2015
Grimmfest 2015 - A Feast of Horror And Not A Sparkly Vampire In Sight!
Grimm Up North hosts a fantastic annual festival of the best in horror - Grimmfest. This year, the Odeon at The Printworks in Manchester was the venue for four days of fabulous scary, creepy, frightening, shocking, challenging and - certainly in the case of Deathgasm - outrageously funny new films. Most of these go straight to DVD and you won't see them on the big screen, so Grimmfest provided a rare opportunity to enjoy the full cinematic experience these brilliant and highly original films deserve.
For various reasons, Mr C and I were only able to attend part of Friday and Sunday - seeing one film on each of those two days BUT we were there for the full Saturday programme. The organisers should be congratulated for the wonderful mix of films shown here. There truly was something for every horror fan, and a chance for all of us to try a different sub-genre of horror. I saw films I would probably not have picked up, but for the festival. it opened my eyes to things I was missing by preferring to stick with my favourite ghostly, Gothic, witchy, haunted house type movie. I shall certainly spread my wings further in future!
On Friday, Cherry Tree provided our first entertainment although those with day and full festival passes were already well into the programme. Here I was on familiar ground (there were witches) but I loved the originality in this film by Director David Keating.
Saturday began with Excess Flesh. Now here was a film I would never normally have seen, and that's a shame because it was excellent. Brilliant acting - especially from Bethany Orr - she was evil. Really evil. It won't be to everyone's taste but, if you love horror, do give it a try. It's challenging but it's also damn good entertainment.
Then followed a collection of amazing little gems. A Short Film Showcase, some with well known actors such as Johnny Vegas and Ramon Tikaram. Here were darkly comedic, scary and/or surreal films. One - Willa - was a German production based on a Stephen King short story; a poignant haunting tale.
Next up was a documentary - The Nightmare - interviews with people whose lives had been pretty much taken over by nocturnal events of a strange and often terrifying kind.
Now, as a rule, I avoid werewolf films like the plague. I have made exceptions for the hilarious An American Werewolf in London and one or two others but really, that's it. Howl has made me rethink that policy. Here were not werewolves who, to paraphrase the director (Paul Hyett), did not look as if they had just come 'from the hairdresser's'. They didn't have snouts or long, glossy fur. They didn't shape-change, and they most certainly didn't have a social conscience. These were great big, hairy ugly beasts hellbent on wiping out every passenger stranded on the late night train that had succumbed to their ambush. Great stuff!
Then followed the hilarious Deathgasm - a New Zealand film which never once took itself remotely seriously. What can I say? You have to see it. When one of the minor characters says that the demon will appear at the devil's hour of 3a.m., a member of the heavy metal band who are our heroes asks, 'Is that Pacific or Eastern? Does the devil recognise Daylight Savings?' Most of the budget for this must have been spent on fake blood. There are bucketsful of it. But this is not a gross out. It is such a funny film. Highly entertaining. Loved it.
It was nearly midnight and there was still one more to watch. We rounded off Saturday with We Are Still Here. Now, I enjoyed this film. The story was right in my comfort zone. House with a sinister, haunted past? A family that wouldn't leave? That's me sorted. This was a horror. It wasn't meant to be comedic, but it did go overboard on the hacked limbs and pumping blood and, maybe because it followed Deathgasm, members of the audience found this less scary and more amusing . I heard sniggers. I almost sniggered myself. In fact, I may have let out a small chortle. Apart from that minor point though, this was a satisfying way to finish a brilliant day's film watching.
Sunday. After a highly original Danish short film - The Sun Has Died, the first film was Hellions.
This was an addictive film, made more eerie by the clever lighting and special effects. You were never quite sure where this was all going to end or what was going to happen next and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sadly, we had to leave it there and, as you will see from a trip to their website, there was still much more to follow. We did have time for a wander around the stalls, selling a variety of merchandise, from posters and memorabilia to T shirts and DVDs, and here is where we succumbed. Our haul includes the delights in this photograph. well, the nights are drawing in, what else is a horror fan going to do? Apart from read horror books, of course! Or write them...