At the end of this October Nottingham’s own world famous Mayhem Film Festival returns for its tenth anniversary, taking over Broadway Cinema for four days of preview screenings, Q&As and live rock band accompaniments. Impact are here to give you a taste of what to look forward to over those four spooky, gory and frankly batshit-crazy days, with some advice of what to expect from Mayhem directors Chris Cooke and Steven Sheil.
THURSDAY 30TH OCTOBER
THE EDITOR (2014)
The Naked Gun meets Italian Giallo films is how The Editor, the third major project from Canadian film collective Astron-6 (following Father’s Day and Manborg), has been lovingly described.
The film follows the editor of a low budget crime film when someone starts killing off the cast and crew, and unfortunately for the titular character, blame falls to him. An absurd variation of Berberian Sound Studio fed through the low-budget, hilarious mania of last year’s Discopath, The Editor looks to continue the recent and hugely enjoyable trend of grindhouse and exploitation pastiches and parodies (Machete, Black Dynamite, Grindhouse itself) and that alone should be reason to check it out.
Chris Cooke: “For me, a thing I’m really excited about is Astron-6 coming over from Canada. First of all if anyone saw Manborg, they’ll know what they’re in for which is hilariously over the top comedy. And, because we started as a short film festival, we’re gonna start with a few of their shorts. So we’re gonna have a showcase of those and then their brand new film which isn’t gonna be out here till late 2015. That’s a real highlight and we’re starting the ball rolling with that”
LET US PREY (2014)
Let Us Prey, funded by Creative Scotland and the Irish Film Board, looks like one of those films that’ll be uncomfortable to watch and afterwards you’ll walk out into the cold night air with a feeling of trepidation. The atmosphere that the trailer gives off is so unsettling, and the steady montage of violence, fire and darkness so claustrophobic, that perhaps it might be unwise to walk home alone.
It’s already won some prize from a Berlin festival (so, you know, it’s ‘award-winning’) and perhaps it’s just Liam Cunningham’s Irish accent, but the film feels like the twisted offspring of a psychological horror and a Liam Neeson revenge thriller: a prisoner, ‘Six’, is brought into a local jail for the night and begins to manipulate the officers and cellmates into doing terrible things. Definitely not one for the weak-hearted.
FRIDAY 31ST OCTOBER
A dinner party takes a turn for the worse in the aftermath of a comet’s passing in James Ward Byrkit’s intimate and intense Coherence. Despite the unusual pedigree (the writer/director was one of the scribes of, bizarrely, Rango) and appearing to be more sci-fi than the majority of Mayhem’s line-up, the trailer appropriately provides tension and mounting dread aplenty as the party deal with an existential, possibly doppelgänger-filled nightmare.
Chris Cooke: “Coherence rarely leaves a really claustrophobic environment, a group of guests at a dinner party, and when it does its to very disturbing effect”
THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN (2014)
In 1946 the ‘Phantom Killer’ murdered five people in what is known as the Texarkana Moonlight Murders.
In 1976 the events were dramatised in slasher progenitor The Town That Dreaded Sundown.
In 2014, the story, and the bag-headed killer is back.
This has the potential to be something really intriguing, as the original film isn’t a widely remembered horror flick (the killer is no Michael, Freddy or Jason), yet it could still potentially fall flat on its face like Prom Night, Black Christmas and any number of other glossy remakes if not done for the right reasons.
Hope is instilled though by the fact the film’s creators (including Ryan Murphy of American Horror Story) have intentionally kept the budget low, so some of the standard pitfalls of modern horror remakes have potentially already been sidestepped.
THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE (1974)
One of the indisputable highlights of Mayhem this year will be a screening of a contender for the purest horror film on its 40th anniversary, Tobe Hooper’s seminal The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. While its slim body count and relative lack of gore (The Texas Chain Saw Kerfuffle?) may surprise first time viewers, the unrelenting dirty, grimy rawness ensures its base, primal heart remains beating despite the imitators, parodies and ripoffs that would have left lesser works hollow and lifeless.
Playing out like a post-watershed episode of Scooby Doo (van full of pesky kids, creepy strangers, derelict houses, hell even a couple of masks crop up), TCM is unique in the fact it was revolutionary on release and yet hasn’t diminished in its power any since, despite the subsequent four decades of improved technical capabilities of filmmaking . In fact it’s this roughness that makes it s0 damn visceral and unpleasant. Almost
Not bad for a film almost entirely funded from the profits of a porno…
SATURDAY 1ST NOVEMBER
DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD (2014)
Colonel Herzog and his brutal band of Nazi undead have unfinished business in the sequel to 2009’s gruesome and highly entertaining Dead Snow. Red vs. Dead begins directly after the first with lone survivor Martin being arrested for the murder of his friends. Once again facing attack, Martin joins the self-dubbed “Zombie Squad” to fight the invasion.
While the first played it far from straight, Red vs. Dead looks set to take the series to new heights of absurdity, with tanks, Evil Dead references (reanimated arm!) and an all-out zombie on zombie battle thrown all into a blender.
STARRY EYES (2014)
Coming across like a darker sister film to Cronenberg’s recent Maps To The Stars, Starry Eyes seems to borrow heavily from Mulholland Dr.‘s black, winding roads of the Los Angeles underbelly, similarly taking a wannabe starlet and crushing her under the wheels of that monolithic and apparently ultimate evil in world culture: Hollywood.
Unlike Lynch’s masterwork, SE looks to be a more explicitly horror-oriented tour behind the backlots of the star-making machine, as one look at the poster attests. Cults, body horror and a lot of blood? Action…
The basic premise of Housebound is similar to 2008’s 100 Feet, in that a woman under house arrest is plagued by a nefarious spirit. It looks, however, to be considerably more humourous and enjoyable, focusing on the all-too realistic relationship between mother and daughter to the point you don’t notice the hauntings until it’s too late to do anything. With this and What We Do in the Shadows also on the bill, its clear 2014 is a good year for New Zealand horror comedies.
THE CANAL (2014)
One of the lineup’s most eagerly anticipated films (by us at least), The Canal has all the hallmarks of a future classic.
Steven Sheil: “The Canal is one we saw at Cannes and that’s grim, really grim and scary.”
Chris Cooke: “It starts like a really strong psychological ghost story and then takes the audience into really horrible places they don’t wanna go… which is a really good thing, really brave. It’s a straight ahead horror film that says “well, we’re not gonna let anyone off the hook which is a good thing for a lot of horror.”
STAGE FRIGHT (1987)
Chris Cooke: “We’re both fans of Stage Fright, there’s just something really odd about it. I love slasher movies, we’re both fans of giallo films and Michele Soavi, the director, made Dellamorte Dellamore (Cemetery Man), which is a strange, surreal horror film, and Stage Fright manages to be all of those things. And we know there’s a real audience for 80’s horror and people want to relive those days, and so if they can relive those days at a midnight screening with a drink in their hands and toast a fantastically remastered cult classic then yeah, it’s well worth putting on.”
SUNDAY 2ND NOVEMBER
Chris Cooke: “Predestination, Ethan Hawke’s new film, starts off like a Twilight Zone episode. Someone walks into a bar and starts telling a story and it just becomes more and more gripping”
ABCS OF DEATH 2 (2014)
Murder, mutilation and masturbation were the order of the day in 2012’s ABCs of Death, which saw 26 filmmakers from around the globe bring their own twisted visions of death to the screen in film that may not have impressed critically, but certainly made for an eventful night at the movies.
A novel concept that doesn’t scream sequel, but regardless, ABCs of Death 2 is here, featuring a new batch of filmmakers tasked with topping the depravity of the first. More established talent includes Cube and Splice director Vincenzo Natali; The Mighty Boosh’s Julian Barratt and Jen & Sylvia Soska of Dead Hooker in a Trunk fame.
With chapters including ‘C is for Capital Punishment’, ‘F is for Falling’ and ‘T is for Torture Porn’, expect some gruesome shit. It might not be highlight of Mayhem X but it’s sure to have the highest body count, and in the end, isn’t that all that matters?
WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2013)
What looks to be the funniest film of the festival, What We Do in the Shadows is a mockumentary following the exploits of a group of century old vampires who live together (and barely tolerate each other) and a recently turned newbie who’s joined their ranks. With nods in the trailer to everything from Nosferatu to Twilight‘s vampire/werewolf conflict (“we’re werewolves not swearwolves”), What We Do… looks to be a freewheeling Spinal Tap-esque romp through the conventions and tropes of vampire movies.
DAUGHTER OF HORROR (DEMENTIA CUT) (1953/5)
The 1955 silent horror is being screened with a new, specially composed score by 8mm Orchestra, who will be playing it live. Returning after scoring last year’s The Unknown, the band’s newest offering looks to be one of the absolute highlights of the festival.
Steven Sheil: “It’s a real outlier, it’s got an outsider-art type feel to it. It’s very low budget, a very peculiar film; it’s got this weird kind of psychosexual dynamic going on. So we thought it would be good to get 8mm Orchestra to do something very different from The Unknown.
Chris Cooke: “it’s a real beatnik horror film. I heard it described really well as ‘Ingmar Bergman meets Ed Wood’, as if Bergman’s directing Plan 9 From Outer Space but without the aliens.”
MONSTERS: DARK CONTINENT (2014)
After receiving rave reviews at other various festivals, the sequel to Gareth Edwards’ sleeper 2010 hit takes the fight to the middle east, looking to be the Aliens to the original’s Alien.
Steven Sheil: “Monsters: Dark Continent is another one we’re really looking forward to. That one’s just played London International Film Festival and has gotten some fantastic reviews. We had the original Monsters a few years ago with Gareth Edwards the director present so to put this on, which is a very different film will be great. And we’ve got the director coming…”
Chris Cooke: “Plus some of the cast, and we’re going to announce soon so stay tuned. Especially when there’s local cast in that film. There’s a real Nottingham feel for that film. Ironically, considering its setting.”
Felix Taylor, Sam Todd & Tom Watchorn