Saturday 8 November 2014

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2014 (Part 1): Day 1 & 2

This year marked the 10th birthday of Nottingham's (UK) Mayhem Horror Film Festival and the first time for me attending the whole of the four day event. I ordered an early bird weekend pass before any of the films were announced and waited for the end of October to arrive with intrepid anticipation!

Arriving at the Broadway Cinema I was welcomed with a friendly smile and a hello from all the staff and I sat down with some friends that I originally met through my Facebook group UK Horror Fans United. Next to me in the picture below is Jonathan who also has a blog that you can check out here - Jonny's Cult Films.

DAY 1: Thursday 30th October

The festival officially kicked of at 7pm with an introduction (see video below) by three members of Astron-6 (the team behind Father's Day, Manborg and Bio-cop), Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy and Conor Sweeney. On the agenda was an Astron-6 Shorts Showcase which included Bio-Cop, Goreblade, Inferno of the Dead, Lazer Ghost 2, Cool Guys, Breaking Santa.

You can check out some of their short films and other cool stuff on their YouTube Channel HERE.

Here's Inferno of the Dead for you to watch...

The first feature length film of the festival was The Editor, again from the Astron-6 team.

My signed poster!

The Editor is a Giallo inspired romp about a film editor, once the best in the business until an accident caused him to become an amputee, who gets caught up in murder as one by one, his co-workers are killed.

The film is filled with some great nods to Fulci, Cavara, Argento, has a ridiculous amount of gratuitous nudity and hilarious misogyny that is only topped by the chaotic violence. It's also a very beautiful looking film too with a fantastic score that includes music from Claudio Simonetti (Suspiria, Tenebrae, Demons).

Written by (and starring) Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy and Conor Sweeney, directed by Brooks and Kennedy, every performance is on point and the comedy timing is perfect and that's something that Astron-6 have seemed to mastered in a short space of time.

The cast includes Paz de la Huerta, Samantha Hill, Laurence R. Harvey, Sheila Campbell, Udo Kier, Tristan Risk, and Dan Bern.

If you thought Father's Day and Manborg are good then this will blow you away as it's Astron-6's best film, so far!

The Editor gets 5 Stars

Here's the question and answer session after the screening...

Just to rub it in a bit for fellow Astron-6 fans, here I am with the boys themselves...

From left to right: Manborg, erm, I mean Matthew Kennedy, Me of course, Conor Sweeney & Adam Brooks
Check out the trailer for The Editor...

The final film of the night was Let Us Prey.

Pollyanna McIntosh, star of The Woman, plays a rookie police officer. On her first night shift in a small town police station she encounters a mystifying stranger. The station soon becomes busy with miscreants locked up in the cells.

The stranger, played by Liam Cunningham who gives a stellar performance, has an adverse affect on everyone in the police station and it soon becomes apparent that this man is not of this world. Is he here to carry out God's judgement? Is he the devil doing the devil's work? Or is his purpose higher than both, but equally unsettling?

This film is full of great performances, violence, mystery and dread. With a well written story by David Cairns and Fiona Watson and great direction by Brian O'Malley, it keeps you interested from start to finish.

Let Us Prey gets 4 Stars

 Here's the trailer for Let Us Prey...

With a fantastic start to the festival, I was looking forward to and raring to start the next day.

DAY 2: Friday 31th October

Halloween, what a perfect way to spend it at a horror film festival! There were a few people that dressed up, including myself and two friends Angi and Martyn. We met up in Hooters, as you do, for drinks before day two of Mayhem began.

Friday kicked off with what could only be described as a mind fuck of a film! The movie in question was James Ward Byrkit's Coherence.

This film is more of a Sci-Fi Thriller, but it still delivered some great moments of tension and fright. The story follows a group of friends that gather for a dinner party on an evening when a comet is passing overhead.

Straight from the word go, things seem to be strange as the group go about their evening. When a power cut hits and two of the group head out to find a house with power the situation really becomes bizarre and unnerving.

The events that follow have all involved questioning their own existence and the world as they know it. Confusion on all parts lead to some questionable behaviour and mind blowing realities.

The cast included Emily Baldoni, Maury Sterling, Nicholas Brendon, Elizabeth Gracen, Alex Manugian, Lauren Maher, Hugo Armstrong and Lorene Scafaria. They all gave natural and very believable performances.

Coherence gets 4 Stars
Check oit the trailer below...

Next on the agenda was 2014's The Town That Dreaded Sundown which is directed by American Horror Story's Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.

Before I go any further I have to point out that this is NOT a remake or even a re-imagining. It is in fact a sequel of sorts and can be held as a stand alone film.

A high school student, Jami (Addison Timlin) witnesses the start of what leads to a number of murders. Decades after a masked serial killer terrorised the small town of Texarkana and a film, the original The Town That Dreaded Sundown from 1976 was made, it seems as though there could be a copy cat on the loose.

As Jami starts to investigate what's going on while more murders are happening, she uncovers some disturbing truths.

Although this is a decent addition to the slasher sub-genre, I personally thought it was the weakest movie of the festival. That said, I still enjoyed it. It reminded me of Scream in certain places when the characters in the film often refereed the original movie. If you want some light horror that's very watchable then you'll enjoy it.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown gets 3 Stars

Watch the tralier here...

Friday came to an end with a fantastic treat that also carried on the "Texas" theme. I have seen it so many times over the years, but getting to see it on the big screen was simply glorious. I'm talking about Tobe Hooper's 1974 seminal masterpiece The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Of course, this movie needs no explanation and should be high on anyone's list as one of the best horror films ever made. Seeing Hooper's vivid and brutal imagery on the big screen made for an extremely intense viewing. The loud screams of Marilyn Burns and the revving of Leatherface's chainsaw through the surround sound system of the theatre made it even more terrifying. With this year being it's 40th anniversary, this classic film still stands tall and proud after all these years and can easily give any new horror movie a run for it's money. I've even pre-ordered the 40th anniversary bluray steelbook.

Here the 40th anniversary trailer...

So that's my review of days 1 and 2 of Mayhem Horror Film Festival. Over the course of the next week I will post day 3, 4 and then a special article on "10 Years of Mayhem" where I interview the organisers of the event, so keep your eyes out for those.

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