Monday, 22 September 2014 20:16

Grimmfest 2013 Recap

 

 

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I feel a change is coming.

A change us UK horror fans have been waiting for.

The horror scene which used to have fans passing round their most notable 'video nasty' seems to have broken free and even though of course we are all aware that Halloween is round the corner, which does tend to unveil some more macabre experiences than usual, I can see so much more variety to the horror scene happening.

Some of the original front-runners who have been flying the horror flag for some time are the good people of Grimm Up North. Avid fans and producers of horror titles such as Splintered, Some Guy who Kills People and the anticipated White Settlers, this motley crew really knows their stuff and always have the perfect blend of horror titles screened at their annual Grimmfest event, from Asian gore to sci-fi/thriller/horror titles.

I myself have been an eager audience member not only at their annual festival but also at their regular events. Not simply due to the knowledge that I will be in for a further horror education, but also because this team adds some heart to the proceedings.

Their usual venue, Manchester's Dancehouse, which adds its own charm, and they also never disappoint their invitees once they get them in their sticky claws. The team has now spawned its evil twin in the shape of Liverpools Horrorfest, which begins on 31st October 2013.

Now I can only grumble at myself for not being able to catch every single film, however I can give you the rundown of what and who were on offer for a more than reasonable price to us horrorites.

 

 

DAY ONE:

Hansel and Gretel get Baked
The Wicker Man - 40th anniversary final cut version plus having director Robin Hardy in attendance.
Radio Silence (short) plus director Mat Johns and producer Chris Lane in attendance.

 

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Curse of Chucky: Now I am going to be biased about this, I bloody love the Childs Play franchise.

They're original, funny, clever as hell and always a great way to spend 90 mins in my book.

Here with Curse of Chucky, I get to press rewind a little. It does seem to match the original three in feeling more than the LOL Bride and Seed sequels.

Set four years after Seed we find Chucky mysteriously sent to the family of wheelchair-bound Nica (who is brilliantly played by off-screen Chucky's daughter Fiona Dourif). Of course his arrival quickly has the body count rising and Chucky soon has the family's small child Alice wrapped round his little plastic finger. Will Chucky finally get to finish his soul transferring chant? Watch and see.

Chucky has had a slight restyle and looks far more realistic than ever before. This did at first make me frown a little as I do love the original doll, however writer and director Don Mancini has scored such a double hat trick with this 6th instalment that I got over that rather quickly.

If you are a Chucky fan, you'll love it. If not. You suck. (Kidding)

TIP - Stick around until after the credits for a real treat.

 

 

 

 

DAY TWO:

To Jennifer
The Gloaming and Next Exit (shorts)
Home Sweet Home.
Girl at the Door and Attack of the Brainsucker (shorts)
Angst, Piss and Shit (shorts)
The House with 100 eyes.
The Borderlands.
Crazy for You (short)
The Borderlands and Crazy for You Q & A with the writer and director of both.
On Air.

 

 

 

 

DAY THREE:

My Amityville Horror
Smiley
The Plan (short)
Antisocial
Make up workshop with Shaun Harrison, the person responsible for the make up for Nightbreed, From Hell, Star Wars: Episode II, 1408, Harry Potter, Grabbers and World War Z: I interviewed Shaun for HorrorTalk TV during Grimm this year and it's always a pleasure. The easiest and most fun interviews are always with creative, intelligent people who can dissect their love of film with me, and Shaun is definitely one of those people.

Shaun has been responsible for some of the most unique practical effects in film and is truly a pioneer in his field.

 

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Hellraiser II: If you have ever read any of my tweets or previous reviews, you will already know that I am a Clive Barker fan, and his original Hellraiser film is my favourite horror film. So to watch its sequel on the big screen was a rare treat for me.

Hellraiser II is a great follow up from the first; it starts straight after and catches up with young Kirsty Cotton before the bloodshed in Hellraiser has run cold.

This sequel really does have echoes of the first and it's the only Hellraiser follow up I can tolerate. The rest just make me mad (don't start me on the DJ one).

Kirsty is once again thrown back into the cenobite clutches as Julia, her evil stepmother, returns in scenes you will barely be able to forget. Raised from hell and destined to join her back there, we meet Dr Philip Channard. This character is responsible for some of the most brilliant quotes in this film and emerges as a horror icon himself.

I got to catch up with Nicholas 'Chatterer' Vince and Barbie 'Female Cenobite' Wilde after the show. They are disarmingly charming and so enthusiastic about being part of this franchise 25 years after its creation that I truly could talk to them for decades. Their involvement echoes even today with their writing and further acting choices and I cant help but be intrigued by what is coming next for this duo.



SFX Sessions with Shaun Harrison
The Guest (short)

 

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Jug Face: A Southern woodland community worships a pit in the ground. Yes, a pit. They believe that it has healing powers and as long as they keep it happy by feeding it sacrifices, they will remain safe from the pit's punishments.

One of the community, "Dawai", is sent the pit's sacrificial choice in his dreams, he then creates a jug with the face he has dreamt of. This resemblance is immediately met with that person being bled over the pit.

Ada, who is pregnant with her brother's baby, hides a jug when she finds it with her face on it. Not wanting to die and trying to protect her unborn child, she tells no one and opens up the whole community to the wrath of the pit.

I'll be honest, I saw the trailer for this and shrugged. It seemed a little bit like a slow mover without a payoff. I'm afraid to say I was right. I liked the idea of Jug Face and perhaps with a bit more budget and a more creative ending it might have been great. The acting is good and lead actress Lauren Ashley Carter holds the piece together well, but it all left me wishing I could throw myself in the pit.

 

 

 

 

DAY FOUR:

Modus Anomali
Out There (short) with a Q & A from the writer / director Randal Plunkett
Sleep Working (short) with a Q & A from the writer / director Gavin Williams
The Human Race
Samuel and The Emily VS The World (short)
Found
Kiss of the Damned

 

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The Conspiracy: This found-footage-fused film follows two filmmakers who are making a documentary about conspiracy theorists. Their subject Terrance has made it is life's work to unmask the 'truth' about a powerful group named the Taurus Club. A club he thinks are full of the world's most influential leaders who are responsible for some of the biggest disasters in our modern-day world.

Initially, the team follows Terrance until he mysteriously disappears. This sets the two on a course to find out the truth, and as they fall down Terrance's rabbit hole, they bite off much more than they can chew.

The found footage genre has pretty much had its day. I visibly groan when I know I have to watch one, so when one surprises me I am suitably impressed.

This fusion of documentary, found footage and film works well, and with some of the conspiracy theories in this film being grounded in reality, I found it intriguing and immediately wanted to research the topic in front of me.

Is it horror? Hardly. Is it worth a watch? Definitely.

 

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Big Bad Wolves: Having missed this at Frightfest I was more than eager to add this to my "Horror Watched" list and boy, I wasn't disappointed.

This Israeli horror opens with a child being taken, raped, tortured and murdered. As her headless body is found this sends her Father and a vigilante detective on the same course. To find her killer.

The main suspect in the case is promptly taken and held by the young girls father. He has every intention on inflicting the same pain his daughter felt on this man until her admits his part in the killing and leads him to his daughters head.

With the detective on the heels of the same subject it is only inevitable that their paths will cross.

But will he help or hinder? Will the suspect talk or is he innocent? This brilliantly crafted piece had me sucked in from the word go. Foreign horrors often see through scenes our timid British film industry daren't and the opening scenes set the tone for the rest of the film.

One thing I didn't expect was the amount of black comedy in this. I genuinely was enthralled and amused throughout.

Brilliantly acted and perfectly edited I hope to see more Israeli horror on my screen.


John Dies at the End

 

 

 

 

DAY FIVE:

Thanatamorphose
The Butterfly Room

 

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Wither: So most people who told me about this film called it "The Swedish Evil Dead." With that in mind, I was pretty excited about catching this. I'm a big fan of the original (I do seem to claim to be a massive fan of three franchises here, but you gotta admit they are awesome ones) and I actually really like the new remake, so if this could keep up with its comparisons, I was hoping for a good time.

Sadly, it didn't transpire to be half as good as I thought it would be.

Ida and Albin are a happy couple in love and they, alongside their friends, decide to have a holiday in a cabin Albin's father knows of. After struggling to get access to the cabin, one of the group, Marie, sneaks in through a back window. After being haplessly tempted into the tunnel under the cabin (despite its creepy appearance), she meets our evil spirit; a being called a Vittra (Swedish translation is Wither) which creeps up on her with eye-bending consequences.

From here she is obviously infected with a zombie / possessed type self and one by one her cabin-mates will need to fight or flight from the cabin.

Realistically, other than that fact that there are a group of friends who go to a cabin where shit goes down, there isn't much more of a comparison to Evil Dead.

The effects are excellent and at times the acting is great, however when each person in the film annoys you to the point of a headache, then there is something not great about the film.

I'm tired of seeing idiots running up the stairs when they should run out the door, or trying to save their friend over and over again despite them trying to rip their heads off. I would literally have blown all of their heads off, then had a cup of tea. Job done.

By the finale, I was desperate for it to end, and as for the "Vittra"? I've seen scarier things in my cats litter box.

 

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Stalled: The British horror / comedy scene has become super charged. With Shaun of the Dead becoming so popular in mainstream homes, talented people are running to their typewriters to create the next new thing. Most of them fail at their attempts. The Stalled gang do not.

Stalled tells the story of a janitor working in an office late on Christmas Eve. After tending to some fixings in the female toilets, he attends to some "business" in one of the stalls. Whilst in there, the shit hits the fan (and its an appropriate place for that to happen) and a zombie invasion breaks out.

Seemingly contracted by the office workers, he is trapped in the stall as the festive zombies spread their Christmas un-cheer and fill the room one by one.

Stuck a few cubicles down is an uninfected female office worker, and the janitor and she must find a way to escape the bloodthirsty hoard.

Eagerly anticipated by many, this film doesn't disappoint. The humour is excellent and of course of the quintessentially dry British kind.

One of the dangerous parts of making a horror comedy is getting the split right. Too much horror and you can shock, and too much comedy and you can disappoint. This splices the two perfectly and the lead character played by the writer Dan Palmer plays the hapless hero with ease and comedic timing. The gore is plentiful and the ending is great - my only question is will there be a sequel? I hope they don't stall that?! Mwhahahahahahaha.

 

 

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The Body (short): A clever short which follows a serial killer trying to dispose of a body on Halloween. Everyone thinks its part of his costume and his trip has hilarious conclusions.

 

 

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Shellshocked: This World War two short shows a German and English soldier as they come head to head in a bunker during the war. Initially it would seem their biggest danger is each other, but they would be dead wrong.

Directed by Dominic Brunt and written by Joanne Mitchell, this man and wife duo certainly have burst into the horror scene. With their classy zombie flick Before Dawn, Dominic's performance in Inbred, and their collection of horror shorts, I have enjoyed their choices. Large horror fans themselves, they are enthusiastic about the genre and have limitless talents to add to it.

 

 

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The Machine: This sci-fi thriller is set in a world where there is a new Cold War. The UK and China are pithed against each other in a technological race to outdo the other.

On the UK's side we have Vincent, a brilliant scientist who is working to crack cyborg technology. He does this for personal reasons as well as professional and he and his assistant Ava work together to create life from machinery.

As Vincent and Ava become closer, she is of course doomed, but with every cloud having a silver lining, she becomes the solution to the project Vincent has been working on.

Vincent becomes more attached to his creation, and he blocks his government's attempts to make her into a cold-blooded indestructible killer, but his attempts cannot last for long.

As Ava is desperate to learn what she is and both her creator and financier fight over her, she or her programming must win out.

Of course the film has huge echoes of '80s classics and the soundtrack in particular made me feel like I was watching a more advanced Blade Runner-style film of the time.

The camera work is beautiful and Caity Lotz is even more beautiful as the intelligent Terminator-type addition. I found myself rooting for her and as the overall visuals sunk into my mind, I felt like this was the type of story I had missed.

The film is pretty good although a little weak storyline-wise, but I enjoyed it. But would I class it as a horror? Not really.

 

 

 

 

 

So there you have it folks, all done for another year. A great line up of movies and talent and for those of you not living too far from Manchester, it's a comfortable way to spend the week. If you missed it, then why not check out the Liverpool horrorfest? Its round the corner and if you're still reading this review, right up your street.

 

 

 

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