Thursday, 22 October 2015

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2015 (Part 1): Day 1

Now in it's 11th year, Mayhem Horror Film Festival had a slight change in date (you can blame the release date of Spectre for that!). But that didn't matter as the line-up and guests are always impressive and the atmosphere is always welcoming. Here's what happened on Thursday night...

Day 1: Thursday 15th October 

The film that kicked off the festival was Emelie...

After their regular babysitter can't make it, the Thompson family turn to the highly recommended Anna to supervise the children while they go out to celebrate their anniversary.

Sound simple enough? Well, it wasn't. Fuck my ass, what a way suitably fucked up way to start the proceedings!
Sarah Bolger stars as Anna, or is it Emelie?! She gives a outstandingly creepy, yet subtle, performance as the babysitter from, erm, well, somewhere very strange and messed up. The trio of child actors, Carly Adams (Sally), Joshua Rush (Jacob) and Thomas Bair (Christopher) are fantastic in their roles baring in mind how young they all are.

Both direction and script are strong and what that delivers on the screen is disturbing and unsettling in absolute bucket loads!

Emelie gsts 4 Stars
Check out the trailer below...

Up next was the documentary Future Shock - The Story of 2000AD... "
A long overdue documentary that tells the story of 2000AD, the unsung cult hero of the comics industry" with special guests Paul Goodwin, producer Sean Hogan and 2000AD writer and artist D’Israeli (Matt Brooker)...

I for one was looking forward to this as 2000AD was the only comic I ever really read as a kid. The documentary itself was well made. Learning how the comic came about and is still going strong today despite all the ups and downs over the years from various people that have worked and still work on the comic was extremely interesting. The interviews are very frank, open and honest. I highly recommend this to fans of 2000AD! A link to pre-order the DVD can be found further down the page.

Here's D’Israeli and I after he signed my copy of Leviathan.


The DVD is now available to pre-order on Amazon HERE. Check out the trailer...

The last film of the evening was a French remake of Mario Bava's Rabid Dogs...

"After a bank job goes badly wrong, three desperate criminals take a young woman and a father and child hostage, which is the beginning of a frantic and violent road trip that not all of them will survive."

Éric Hannezo makes his directional debut with this tense and violent thriller with a twist.

Solid acting from all the cast and a great script gives this French film the edge over a lot of modern English language thrillers.

Standout performances come by way of Guillaume Gouix and Lambert Wilson.

Rabid Dogs gets 4 Stars

Check out the trailer below...

It was an absolutely perfect way to start Mayhem! Look out for Part 2 soon...

Nina Forever (2015) Review

Showing at Mayhem Horror Film Festival, Nina Forever was the second film of day 2. I missed the first film due to work and not being able to finish early, but that really didn't matter, as this film delivered in spades.

This "fucked up fairy tale" follows Rob (Cian Barry) shortly after he attempts to commit suicide on his motorbike due to loosing his girlfriend in a car crash. Working in a dead end job, he meets fellow co-worker Holly (Abigail Hardingham), who has a huge crush on Rob.

Rob deals with the loss of Nina by visiting Nina's parents once a week. In the meantime, Rob and Holly start dating and fall head over heals for one another and on the first night they sleep together, something extremely strange happens.

While in the throws of passion, a spot of blood starts to seep through the bed sheets. Of course, neither of the young lovers notice at first, but as they are gripped in sexual heat the blood spot soon becomes a pool, drenching the bed. Out of the blood grows hands, arms, legs. When these hands of the body rising out of the blood pool starts to get involved in the couples sexual exploits, Holly and Rob notice and, to say the least, are shocked! 

Rob's ex-girlfriend Nina (Fiona O'Shaughnessy) is now lying on the bed next to them in full naked glory, covered in blood with all the wounds she received during her fatal car crash. As if this isn't bad enough, Nina is in full blown conversation with both Rob and Holly.

The new couple find themselves trying to deal with what happened. Holly actually deals with this better than Rob does. They try having sex again and sure enough, Nina makes a grand appearance, but this time Rob and Holly try to get Nina involved with the bedroom antics. However, this doesn't last and Holly finds herself being pestered by Nina outside of the sexual activity causing Rob and Holly to split up and go there separate ways. Holly soon realises that this hasn't solved anything...

The first thing I'll say about about this film is this... These types of films are why I attend horror film festivals. Once again, we're treated to a fantastic British horror at Mayhem. In 2013 they had The Borderlands and last year Mayhem showed the Irish film The Canal. Both brilliant movies.

The first thing about Nina Forever that stood out was the cinematography which features some very British scenery that captured the rather bleak but beautiful essence of the surrounding area where the film is set. This bleak beauty was also present within the entire feel of the film.

With solid support from David Troughton (Dan) and Elizabeth Elvin (Sally) as Nina's bereaving parents, both Abigail Hardingham as Holly and Cian Barry as Rob were fantastic in their roles. Both so very natural in what was sometimes a very awkward relationship in the film. Both faultless in their performances. But, it was Fiona O'Shaughnessy portrayal of the living dead girl Nina, that stood ever so slightly above all others. If, like me, you watched Channel 4's Utopia (the only British show I've ever watched religiously!), then you're familiar with how great Fiona is. Her performance as Nina can only be described as weird and wonderful. Possibly the hardest role in the movie, looked executed with ease.

Chris Blain, Mad Mike, Cassandra Sigsgaard, Ben Blain
During the Q&A after the screening, directors Ben Blaine and Chris Blaine revealed that O'Shaughnessy had no interest in doing the film after reading the script and it was a friend that got sick of hearing about "this film" from Fiona who told her that she obviously thought the script was good as Fiona never shut up about it! So thankfully Fiona O'Shaughnessy took the part and in my humble opinion turned out to be perfect for it.

Written and directed by Chris and Ben Blain, besides a TV movie and a handful of shorts, this is their first feature. However, this is not noticed in any way shape or form. After watching the film you'd think they've been doing this for years. It simply is that damn good. The script, while diving into darker issues of dealing with death, personal loss and how that affects those around you, was absolutely hilarious in some places with some extremely British humour. With flawless directing from such a bold script, the film crosses the boundary of multiply genres. The attention to the creaking and twisting of Nina's blooded up and broken body was horror perfection. Some of the sex scenes were extremely erotic and sensual, but cultivated with taste. The humour, quick-witted and brazen. As if all of that wasn't good enough, we're given a very cool soundtrack too.

In fact, the whole film is so fucking cool, that I'm even contemplating getting a Nina Forever tattoo. That how much I loved this movie! Anyway, as normal, I digress...


Nina Forever gets 5 Stars

Check out the trailer below...


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2015

If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, then you'll know I'm always banging on about Mayhem Horror Film Fesltival in Nottingham. Why, I hear you asking? Because it's awesome! I first went in 2012 for just the one film, the Soska sister's American Mary. 2013, I managed one whole day. 2014, I attended the whole weekend. This year, I booked my weekend pass nice and early.

Besides the fact it's only about 14 miles away from where I live, the film choice is always good, there's always special guests and the atmosphere is fantastic. Check out my blog posts from last year's event...
Day 1 & 2. Day 3. Day 4. 10 Years of Mayhem.

There's just over a week now to Mayhem, but there's still tickets left. This year's event will run from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th (October). Hit up the click for more info and tickets...

The full line-up and schedule for Mayhem 2015 is available below:

Thursday October 15th

Dir. Michael Thelin, 2015 (USA) with Sarah Bolger and Robert Bozek.

8.45PM FUTURE SHOCK! THE STORY OF 2000AD + special guests Paul Goodwin, producer Sean Hogan and 2000AD writer and artist D’Israeli.
Dir. Paul Goodwin, 2015 (UK).

Dir. Eric Hannezo, 2015 (FRA/CAN) with Lambert Wilson and Laurent Lucas.

Friday October 15th

Dir. Miguel Llanso, 2015 (ETH/SPA), with Daniel Tadesse and Selam Testayie

6.30PM NINA FOREVER + special guests Ben and Chris Blaine and producer Cassandra Sigsgaard.
Dirs. Ben Blaine & Chris Blaine, 2015 (UK) with Fiona O’Shaunghnessy and Cian Barry

9.00PM HOWL + MAKING MONSTERS masterclass with Paul Hyett.
Dir. Paul Hyett, 2015 (UK) with Sean Pertwee and Ed Speleers.

Dir. Benni Diez, 2015 (GER/USA) with Jessica Cook and Matt O’Leary.

Saturday October 17th

Dir. Takashi Yamazaki, 2014 (JAP) with Shoia Sometani and Eri Fukatsu.

Dir. Jason Krawczyk, 2015 (USA) with Henry Rollins and Jordon Todesey.

Dir. Various, 2015 (International).


Dir. Brian Yuzna, 1989 (USA) with Billy Walrock and Connie Danese.

Sunday October 18th

Dir. Jason Hei Howden, 2015 (NZ) with Milo Cawthorne and James Blake.

1.45PM GERMAN ANGST + special guest Michal Kosakowski.
Dirs. Michal Kosakowski, Jorg Buttgereit and Andreas Marschall 2015 (GER).

Dir. Robert Eggers, 2015 (USA) with Ralph Ineson and Kate Dickie.

6.45PM AAAAAAAAH! + special guest Steve Oram.
Dir. Steve Oram, 2015 (UK) with Toyah Wilcox and Julian Rhind‐Tutt.

Dir. Karyn Kusama, 2015 (USA) with Logan Marshall-­‐Green and Tammy Blanchard.

Full Festival passes, day passes and individual tickets for Mayhem Film Festival 2015 are also available from

The Unquenchable Thirst of Dracula is made possible thanks to Hammer Films, CATH (Cinema and Television Research Centre) and the De Montfort University.

Mayhem Film Festival takes place on 15-­‐18 October at Broadway, Nottingham with the support of the BFI Film Festival Fund, awarding funds from The National Lottery.

Check out the trailer for the event below...

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Fright Meter Awards Short Horror Film Press Release

It's that time of year again! Part of my responsibilities as a senior committee member of the Fright Meter Awards is to find short horror films for the "Short Film" category. So, any film makers out there got a short horror film? Read on for the details...

From the Press Release:

The Fright Meter Awards Organisation is seeking submissions to be considered for the “Best Short Film” award.  To be eligible, the short film must be submitted to a film festival or available on social media outlets such as YouTube, Vimeo etc. between December 1st, 2014 and November 30th, 2015 and be available for the Fright Meter Awards Committee to view.

Now in its eighth year, The Fright Meter Awards are presented annually by the Fright Meter Awards Organisation, dedicated solely to honouring and recognising excellence within the horror genre. The nominations and winners are determined by members of the Fright Meter Awards Committee.  Past winners of the Fright Meter Award include John Cusack, Chloe Grace Moretz, Rutger Hauer, and Marcia Gay Harden.

The Fright Meter Award Committee consists of horror fans, bloggers, actors, producers, directors, and others involved in the industry. The aim is to select and nominate worthy films regardless of budget, means of release, or popularity. The Fright Meter Awards Organisation intends to make the Fright Meter Award one of the most prestigious horror awards given.

If you are interested in having your short film considered, please contact us.
Individuals can visit for more information about the organisation.

Michael “Mad Mike” Nagy - Senior Committee Member

Troy Escamilla - President

Fright Meter Awards Organisation

Monday, 31 August 2015

My Bloody Banjo (2015) Review

This year's trip to Film4 FrightFest, once again, revolved around one film for me. British Indie Horror Comedy BANJO, which made it's world premier today.

I always try my best to support indie horror, especially if it's British. Having known the director, Liam Regan, for a while on Facbook now and then meeting him at HorrorConUK earlier this year, (where the trailer screened and a Q&A was held with the some of the cast and crew), I was a little nervous as to what the film was going to turn out like. As some of the regular readers know, I can be brutally honest when I want or need to be.

A couple of minutes into the film and those nerves disappeared and by the end of it, it exceeded my expectations.

Banjo follows the story of Peltzer Arbuckle (James Hamer-Morton). As a mild mannered and meek individual, Peltzer gets it in the neck from all sides of life.

A bitch of a girlfriend, Deetz (Dani Thompson), a complete arsehole of a boss, Mr. Sawyer (Vito Trigo), and everyone else he works with seem to do nothing more than take the piss out of him!

The only person that's nice to him is Clyde (Laurence R. Harvey) and his ex-girlfriend Melissa (Serena Chloe Gardner). Although, she now has a new boyfriend, company big shot Stiles Rembrandt (Clay von Carlowitz) who's pretty much as bad as Mr. Sawyer.

With constant belittlement and physical abuse from Deetz, which is more than enough for you to feel sorry for Peltzer's character, and verbal abuse from his boss, Peltzer's confidence spirals down and down. During sex one evening with the his girlfriend, things get a little too vigorous and Deetz more or less ends up raping Peltzer, which leads to his "banjo string" snapping (if you're unfamiliar with that term, then I suggest you google it)!!

As it happens, it's not the only thing to snap. His mind snaps too and sees a childhood imaginary friend make a reappearance. With all the abuse and stress in Peltzer's life, his mind has finally had enough and now it's time for his old pal Ronnie (Damian Morter) to mix things up a bit and give Peltzer a little push in the right direction. Bloody mayhem ensues!

There's no surprises after watching this film where Liam Regan's influences came from. I would describe Banjo as a love letter to Troma. With over the top characters and gore, the film is absolutely hilarious. This is testament to an excellent script (that Regan also wrote) and great comedy timing from the cast.

The film is also very dark in places. Hamer-Morton's Peltzer, goes through, which can only be described as, domestic violence at the hands of his girlfriend. You can't help but have empathy for Clyde as he's asulted in the workplace. And at certain points, Ronnie's face is one of pure terror.

Dani Thompson played the bitchy eye candy character Deetz well, despite the performance being a little weak compared to the rest of the main cast. Of course, Laurence R. Harvey is perfect in his role as the feeble mama's boy. The leading man, James Hamer-Morton, gives a solid performance, keeping the audience feeling sorry for him and at the same time rooting for him. Vito Trigo plays the perfect over the top bastard of a boss. Clay von Carlowitz' suave yet cuntish Stiles was on point and Serena Chloe Gardner played the nice girl to a tee. But the stand out performance for me was the imaginary friend Ronnie. Played by Damian Morter (who was also director of photography on the movie), he gave a fantastic performance being both dark and sadistic and as funny as a stand up comedian. It was also great to see Mr. Troma himself, Lloyd Kaufman, make an appearance.

Regan's direction, baring in mind that this film is his feature length debut (based on his own short film), was exceptional. The timing of gore, brutality and laughs were so good that it looked like he'd been doing this years. This is what happens when a lover of horror makes a horror movie. You can see the passion practically jumping out of the screen. My only issue was the pacing at the beginning of the third act, but that was soon overcome with the sick hilarity that followed. That sick hilarity, throughout the film, is what made the movie so damn good and if the movie didn't have such big laughs throughout, I think it would've been a very different film that just wouldn't have worked. The FX, all practical, suited the feel of the film being dirty and grimy and had me squirming a couple of times. Over the top of all the fun and blood was a very playful score which was in perfect unison with every scene.

The cast & crew of Banjo

Banjo is a "no budget" horror flick and goes to show, when done right, you don't need big budgets to make a clever and entertaining film. Banjo is Indie horror done right and there's a hell of a lot of film makers out there that can learn a lot from this movie.

Overall... OK, it's not a perfect film, but that didn't stop me enjoying it any less than what I did nor did any issues I had with it. I'm giving Banjo the amount of stars I am, taking into account the first time effort in directing, the limited experience of the cast, and the budget of the flick. As I said before, it exceeded my expectations and I haven't laughed this hard for a long time, not even at an actual comedy! The more I think about, I absolutely fucking loved it! And I honestly can't put it any better than that. I can't wait for it to hit DVD.


Banjo gets 5 Stars

Check out the trailer below...

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2015 Announces First Guest & Closing Film

From the Press Release:

Mayhem Film Festival are thrilled to announce Steve Oram’s Aaaaaaaah! and Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation as the first two films from this year’s line-up.

Taking place on 15-18 October, Mayhem Film Festival will close its 11th edition with Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation. Hailed as Kusama’s strongest work by Variety, The Invitation is a deeply disturbing, slow burn horror thriller from the director of Jennifer’s Body.

This year, the festival will also welcome back Steve Oram (Sightseers) with his directorial debut Aaaaaaaah! produced by Andrew Starke and executive produced by Ben Wheatley (Rook Films). The film, which contains no traditional dialogue, is an insane and hilarious collision of Romeo and Juliet and The Planet of the Apes in suburbia. Steve Oram will make the trip to present the film and take part in a post-screening Q&A.

 "We're really pleased to be screening both Aaaaaaaah! and The Invitation - two great films which really reflect the diversity of our programme, ranging from surreal dark comedy to atmospheric, unsettling tension, explains Mayhem’s Co-Director’s Steven Sheil. We're also really excited to be welcoming Steve Oram back to Mayhem, after Sightseers - his collaboration with Ben Wheatley and Alice Lowe - proved such a hit with our audience in 2012."

Mayhem Film Festival will take place at Broadway, Nottingham on 15-18 October. Early Bird Passes for the festival are available at the discounted price of £55. For more information and to book your passes, please visit


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Mania Teaser Trailer Press Release

Jessica Cameron Unleashes the First Footage of MANIA

When Jessica first told me about the project, she had me at "FUCKED UP" and "LESBIAN!"
Now her latest project Mania has a teaser trailer...

From the Press Release:

Director/Scream Queen Jessica Cameron has shared the first bit of footage from her sophomore directorial vehicle, titled MANIA. The teaser trailer can be viewed by clicking on the LINK RIGHT HERE.
The plot of the film revolves around two lesbian lovers who flee their home and travel cross country after a brutal murder. The movie stars Ellie Church (Time to Kill, Headless) in the lead role of Mel.
Mania is scheduled to start the festival circuit later this year. Fans are encouraged to ask for it at their favourite festival.
MANIA was one of three features that were filmed simultaneously while travelling across the United States in an RV. Desolation was the other narrative feature, which is a modern hitch hiker tale in which Cameron stars along side Carlo Mendez (The Bay, The Second Coming of Christ). Kill the PA will be the feature length documentary that chronicles the making of both movies, giving the fans an eye opening, honest look into how indie films are made.
Cameron launched her directing career with the multi-award winning film Truth or Dare which went on to win 33 awards across the globe at various film festivals including the Twin Cities Film Festival, FrightFest London, and Monster Fest in Australia, amongst others. She re-teamed with Truth or Dare cohorts Mem Ferda (The Devil’s Double, Hyena) and Jonathan Scott Higgins (Utero). Ferda produced, with Higgins and Cameron executive producing from a script by Higgins.
Here is what Cameron had to say about the teaser:

“I’m so excited to share this fun little tease from my feature MANIA. This is one of the sexiest films that I have seen in long time, and I know fans are going to love it as much as I do. This film is as naughty as Truth Or Dare is dirty.”

Tristan Risk & Jessica Cameron

For additional information regarding the MANIA, please see the links below:

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

SAVE YOURSELF gets a Trailer


From the Press Release:

In honor of “Women In Horror Month,” the Canadian, female-driven horror/thriller SAVE
YOURSELF is releasing its official Teaser Trailer and first stills from the film. Staring Jessica
Cameron (Truth Or Dare), Tristan Risk (ABC’s Of Death 2), Tianna Nori (Clean Break), Sydney
Kondruss (The Drownsman), Bobbie Phillips (Carnival Of Souls) and a slew of other Canadian
actresses, SAVE YOURSELF tells the story of five female filmmakers en route to their big L.A.
premiere. But when one of them goes missing at a rest stop, the women soon find themselves
pitted against a deranged scientist hell-bent on using them for his mysterious research.

This thrilling, character driven horror is finishing post-production and looking forward to hitting
the festival circuit this year. SAVE YOURSELF features strong, self-reliant characters while
having fun with female stereotypes in the horror genre. Producer Jessica Cameron had this to say
about the film; “The characters are not just sexy, but also smart, tough and real. They represent
women in modern horror well.”

Executive Producers Pino Halili and Allen Ormerod from the award-winning studio Post City
Sound are looking forward to releasing the teaser, saying it’s a taste of what they’re cooking up
in post-production. “It’s a film that features just as many serious tones as it does exciting ones,
and was developed from the script stage to take advantage of sonic element to tell a story.”

Director Ryan M. Andrews (Sick Survive The Night) couldn’t be happier with how the film
turned out. “SAVE YOURSELF lures you in with fun, bad-ass characters and a traditional horror
setup. But then we turn things on its head, introducing all these thriller and dramatic elements
that really make all the characters so unique and intelligent. It’s sexy, exciting and just like
David Cronenberg says, ‘just because you’re making a horror film, doesn’t mean you can’t make
an artful film’.”


Check out the teaser trailer below...

Follow SAVE YOURSELF on Facebook and Twitter and keep up to date with the film’s
progress and screenings coming later this year.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

2014 Fright Meter Awards Winners

The announcements came in a couple of hours ago for the 2014 Fright Meter Awards winners. 2014 had some great films and the majority of them were indie flicks. So without further ado, here are the winners...

Best Short Horror Film

  • Call Girl
  • I Am Monster
  • Little Red
  • The Tour

Best Cinematography

  • Oculus
  • The Babadook
  • The Sacrament
  • Under the Skin

Best Editing

  • Housebound
  • The Babadook
  • The Sacrament
  • Under the Skin

Best Score

  • Starry Eyes
  • The Babadook
  • Under the Skin
  • Witching & Bitching

Best Special Effects

  • Afflicted
  • Oculus
  • Rigor Mortis
  • Witching & Bitching

Best Make Up

  • Cabin Fever: Patient Zero
  • Exists
  • Starry Eyes
  • The Taking of Deborah Logan

Best Screenplay

  • Cheap Thrills
  • Housebound
  • Oculus
  • The Babadook

Best Supporting Actress

  • Alfre Woodard (Annabelle)
  • Amy Seimetz (The Sacrament)
  • Anne Ramsay (The Taking of Deborah Logan)
  • Katharine Isabelle (See No Evil 2)
  • RIME TE WIATA (Housebound) - WINNER

Best Supporting Actor

  • David Koechner (Cheap Thrills)
  • Ethan Embry (Cheap Thrills)
  • Ethan Philbeck (Found)
  • Gene Jones (The Sacrament)

Best Actress in a Leading Role

  • Alexandra Essoe (Starry Eyes)
  • ESSIE DAVIS (The Babadook) - WINNER
  • Jill Larson (The Taking of Deborah Logan)
  • Karen Gillan (Oculus)
  • Morgana O'Reilly (Housebound)

Best Actor in a Leading Role

  • Gavin Brown (Found)
  • Mark Webber (13 Sins)
  • PAT HEALY (Cheap Thrills) - WINNER
  • Rupert Evans (The Canal)
  • Shane Johnson (The Possession of Michael King)

Best Director

  • Mike Flanagan (Oculus)
  • Jim Jarmusch (Only Lover Left Alive)
  • Gerard Johnstone (Housebound)
  • JENNIFER KENT (The Babadook) - WINNER
  • Scott Schirmer (Found)

Best Horror Movie

  • Cheap Thrills
  • Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead
  • Found
  • Housebound

Do you agree with these winners? Have an opinion? Would you have chose differently? Let me know!

For more info on the Fright Meter Awards head over to the official website -
You can also check out and like the Facebook page -

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2014 (Part 4): 10 Years of Mayhem

2014 marked 10 years of the Mayhem Horror Film Festival. For me, it was only my third year in attending the festival. My first experience was in 2012. I was desperate to see American Mary (you can read my review HERE) as it was doing it's UK festival rounds. FrightFest (London) had shown it and also Grimm Up North (Manchester), but alas, they were both too far away from me.

Then I discovered MAYHEM! Perfectly located a mere 20 minutes away by car or train in Nottingham, I felt like the Gods of horror had given me a third chance to see American Mary, so I booked a ticket straight away. I only saw the one film that year, but vowed to be back for at least a whole day the following year.

2013, I got myself a day ticket for the Saturday. Had a blast, made some new friends, got to meet a couple of directors and actors and of course a great selection of films (you can check out my report HERE). Again, I vowed to be back the following year for the whole festival.

2014, true to my vow, I was straight on the ball and ordered myself an early bird weekend pass. The whole weekend experience was simply amazing. You can read my day by day reports here - Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

From left to right: Chris, Me, Steven
The two main men behind Mayhem Film Festival and also in the spot light introducing the films are Chris Cooke and Steven Sheil (director of Dead Mine [2012] and Mum & Dad [2008]).

I asked both a few questions about the festival and their experiences running it...

Why and how did you start Mayhem?

"MAYHEM started out in 2005 as a short film festival. I had worked for ages programming Bang! the short film festival in Nottingham and every year there were great horror films. So it seemed like a good idea to put on a showcase. Plus, Steven, Gareth Howell and I would regularly hold all night horror film screenings, so we were all fans and wanted to start showing stuff in the genre we loved."

"The next year we added a feature – and the audience grew. The year after that we added another feature, the audience was still growing. It seemed like there was some demand, so… We decided to do 3 days the following year, with guests… and it grew again."

"Gareth was one of the main drivers of the festival in the beginning. Now Steven and I direct, Gareth has a huge amount of work elsewhere, and Broadway are massively involved with supporting and developing the festival with us."

"Essentially we’re fans putting together the festival we’d like to attend if we weren’t running around behind the scenes."

Did you get much support and people attending in the early days of the festival?

Annie, always ready for action!
"It was a slow and steady build up. It’s hard to reach out to fans and know for sure if they’ll come. Every festival is a relief after the hard work programming and planning."

"We get massive support from within Broadway. We’ve worked alongside Annie who programmed the shorts with us – she finds some amazing, weird, twisted stuff…. The front of house staff love dressing up and taking part and being the faces of the festival, they’re amazing. Planning and programming are an incredible team of people, Meli, Eleanor, Laura and more, working to make it all come together smoothly… and hidden behind the machinery are pair of amazing technical wizards, who have been working for months to make the festival look amazing, the films run perfectly and look and sound amazing: Leigh and Noel. There are many other people too, taking shifts, behind the scenes, who we couldn’t do without."

Was it more hard work in those early stages compared to recent years?

"If anything it’s gotten harder, tougher, the bigger and more successful it’s grown. We have ambitions to maintain, goals to achieve. It’s hard work. The festival has a size and scale to repeat and we want the audience to enjoy it, find the time to meet, chat and become friends, talk genre and get drunk. It’s hard – but worth it if that happens."

If you could put a top 10 together, so 1 film (a new release) from each year, what would be your top 10 films from the past 10 years of Mayhem?

"Well – we didn’t start with feature films, so I will cheat. My favourite Mayhem Films are (and it’s tough excluding the cult classics and archive screenings we love to programme the most":
2.   AMER


Outside of the films, what has been your most memorable experience over the many years of putting on the festival?

"It was great meeting Mike Hodges, Nic Roeg and Robin Hardy – legendary film makers I admire a lot. But for me it’s been doing things between the festivals, special one off screenings that have included BIRDEMIC and BIRDEMIC 2 with the wonderful James Nguyen, for example. Those films drew such amazing responses, but it was so weird watching the films with him, so odd, surreal and… funny."

"We’ve had some great guests over the years, and getting to talk to them is always a highlight. We’ve had people like Mike Hodges, Robin Hardy and Stephen Volk, all of whom have been fantastic, but for me, the chance to interview Nic Roeg [Don't Look Now (1973), The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976), Puffball (2007)], in a Gothic church on Halloween was a thrilling and unforgettable experience. He’s a man with a fantastically agile mind and I’ve always loved his filmmaking, so that was really special for me."

"Outside of that, the main memorable moments for me are usually the times spent in the bar with the audience. It’s great getting to experience people’s direct reactions to films. I remember when we showed Martyrs as a closing film one year and people came out looking like they’d been punched in the face – but still really wanted to talk about it. This year, a highlight was getting someone to sing the lyrics to ‘Let It Go’ from Frozen as the answer to a spot-prize quiz question before Dead Snow 2…"

Mayhem 2013. From left to right: The Borderlands - Actors Robin Hill & Gordon Kennedy, Me, Producer Jennifer Handorf, Director Elliot Goldner
You have a lot of actors and directors etc. attending the festival promoting their films, but who has had the most affect or left a lasting impression on you when meeting them?

"Mike Hodges for me. We screened a film by him that I had seen at a festival, Black Sunday, years and years ago called BLACK RAINBOW. It’s a moving, powerful and unsettling piece of strange cinema. So meeting him and finding him to be a great one for anecdote, for teaching and for engaging was a pleasure, plus we got to chat about Flash Gordon and more beside. I love so many of his films – The Terminal Man, for example. But Black Rainbow makes me cry. So it was nice telling him that… come to think of it, he must have found me very odd."

"I’ve already mentioned Nic Roeg, but one person I should talk about is Mark Gatiss. He came in 2008 when it was our first weekend festival, so we hadn’t been established that long. He was really generous with his time and we really appreciated that he made the effort to come – it really helped us to have a guest of that stature, especially when trying to get other guests subsequently."

Birthday Cake!
When attending Mayhem, one can't help feel that there's a very friendly "Mayhem family" atmosphere which adds to the whole festival making the experience even more enjoyable. Is that something you strived to make happen or did it happen naturally?

"I’m glad to hear it. The festival is only ever what the audience make it – they bring warmth and excitement and are so very inclusive. Everyone is made to feel at home. Broadway becomes a house they’re welcome to come into and relax for four days. It’s a lovely atmosphere. I want Mayhem to be the kind of place I’d enjoy chilling out at. If I wasn’t so busy running around stressing (more often than not unnecessarily!)."

"I think we definitely aim for it. We want everyone to feel that the festival is open to them – we don’t want anyone to feel like they’d be excluded because they’re not enough of a horror fan or they don’t’ like the ‘right’ films. Myself and Chris are both fans, so we put on films that we’d like to see and we always think about our audience and what they might like – that means that we listen to what people like and try to respond accordingly. We’ve moved into more sci-fi and cult films alongside horror because it seemed like people would go with that. I think we’ve always had the idea of it being a festival, ie; a celebration, and that it should have that kind of feel. It’s also helped that people have responded to that – we have a terrific audience that has been building year on year, with many people coming back three, four, five years in a row – or more – and that’s something that makes us really happy – that people see us a somewhere they’d like to spend their time. There are a lot of other festivals out there, so it’s not something we ever take for granted – we want people to come to Mayhem and have a great time and feel welcome."

A birthday present from all the Mayhem staff. Framed picture with every film ever shown at Mayhem

What can we expect from Mayhem in the years to come?

"Me getting greyer and older. Steven getting taller than ever. Or I am shrinking.
I think we have a good structure now and hopefully the audience will grow. I’d like to put on more events like 8MM ORCHESTRA – it’s so exciting to see films brought to life by musicians as talented as they are."

"I think we want to make sure that we get the best films we can, alongside unique events that aren’t happening elsewhere. We’ve got plans for things that we’d like to do, but often it’s a case of finding the budget or making the contacts in order to make them happen. As we grow, it gets a little easier though – people have heard of the festival and heard good things about it, so that helps. I think we just want to make sure that the festival builds on the audience that we have."

"So, more great films, more fantastic guests, more surprises…"

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

CHRIS:"Let us know what you like – audiences – let us know what was working and we will respond. It’s great having you every year. More is on the way!"

"Just a big thanks to anyone who comes to the festival!"

A big thanks to Chris and Steven for sharing their experiences and thoughts with us and for putting on such a great festival. 

I just want to touch on the "Mayhem Family" atmosphere again. It's makes the festival experience even better and knowing that all involved go that extra mile and are friendly only makes you want to be more friendly and open with everyone that attends. I went to FrightFest last year, although for only one film, and it seemed very hurried and with the venue being so big having a lot of screens there didn't really seem to be a place for people to hang out and chill, besides outside of the building where everyone stood for a smoke.

With the Broadway cinema having a centralised bar and all the films shown in the same theatre screen, it gives a real warm and close feel to the whole event. The attendees are friendly and having a quiz as part of the festival encourages that feeling even more so.

Our team for the quiz. We came 4th, I think, out of about 10 teams or so

With Mayhem being held over Halloween some of the patrons and staff dressed up, which again was fun to see. The special guests are always approachable and have photos taken. The event always has stalls you can buy merchandise from which includes DVDs, Blurays, Books, T-Shirts and more. I got carried away and spent an absolute fortune! Then there's the many giveaways that are presented before the start of a film. I got a quite a bit of free stuff too, by running down to the front of the theatre and answering questions. In fact, I did it one to many times and got told of by Steven. Oooops. HA HA

Here's a few examples of what I got my hands on...

Free stuff, I love it!

Just some of the Blurays I purchased

Signed poster by Aston6's Conor Sweeney, Adam Brooks & Matthew Kennedy

T-Shirts, you can never have too many
The early bird weekend pass only cost £55 and the normal price is still only a mere £65! With day tickets available from £18 Mayhem Horror Film Festival is truly worth every penny. Plus they hold various screenings throughout the year.

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Thanks for reading and I hope to see you there this October! Here's a few more photos...

Mayhem Horror Film Festival 2014 (Part 3): Day 4

Day 4: Sunday 2nd November

The final day of the festival started with a Sci-Fi flick and an absolutely amazing one at that!

Predestination stars Ethan Hawk as a time-travelling Temporal Agent on his final assignment. He must pursue the one criminal that has eluded him throughout time.

There's not much more I can say about the plot that won't give away the many and very clever twists throughout the film. The movie is simply mind bending and blowing, with a couple of massive "WTF!" moments.

On top of that, the performance from Sarah Snook is outstanding, along with some fantastic cinematography. There's no over the top SFX and it keeps the time travel theme rather simple which only adds to the brilliance of the film.

I can not recommend this movie enough for fans of Sci-Fi thrillers. This will leave you speechless your brain melted with delight.

Predestination gets 5 Stars

Check out the trailer...

Next up was ABC's of Death 2.

The was only a handful of segments that stood out in the first anthology so I was apprehensive going into this. I was however looking forward to seeing Jen and Sylvia Soska's contribution, as I loved their work.

I'm not going into every segment in this post, but what I will say that as a whole this anthology sequel is better than the first film and well worth watching as all involved has cranked up the gore, fun and disturbing intensity.

The Twisted Twins didn't disappoint with their "T is for Torture Porn" segment which stars Tristan Risk and Astron6's Conor Sweeney.

Robert Morgan's "D is for Deloused" was also great and he was also a special guest at the festival that day.

ABC's of Death 2 gets 3 and a half Stars

Check out the trailer and below that is a Q&A with director Robert Morgan...

Here I am with Director Robert Morgan

Next that followed was another hilarious and clever comedy horror from New Zealand.

What We Do in the Shadows was absolutely hilarious from start to finish. Much in the same vain as This Is Spinal Tap (1984), the movie is presented as a mockumentary.

We follow the lives of four house mates that are all vampires as they go about their daily, or I should say, nightly business.

There's so many nods to great vampire characters and films throughout the movie and there's even a few werewolves that fit into the story nicely.

It's not just filled with obvious slapstick comedy, but it also has some very clever and cool moments that only a seasoned vampire fan and / or horror fan will recognised.

This was one of the highlights of the weekend.

What We Do in the Shadows gets 5 Stars

Here's the trailer...

What came next was a very special experience. The 1955 silent film Daughter of Horror (Dementia Cut) was shown with a live score played by Nottingham's own 5 piece band, the 8mm Orchestra.

"As the narrator invites us to explore the horrors of an insane mind, a young woman wakes from a nightmare in a cheap hotel room. We follow her through the skid-row night and encounters with an abusive husband; a wino; a pimp and the rich man he panders for; a flashback to her traumatic childhood; violence; pursuit through dark streets; dementia. Filmed in film-noir style throughout; only the narrator speaks."

The vivid imagery is pleasing to the eye and was equalled by the amazing live performance from the 8mm Orchestra. If you haven't experienced anything like this then I recommend it. Hopefully they will be playing again in 2015.

As a whole experience, this gets 5 Stars

Check out the original trailer...

A few shots before and after the 8mm Orchestra performance

After a short break for "The Flinterrogation" which is the hardest horror quiz who'll ever take part in that took place in the Broadway Cafe Bar, Mayhem showed the last film of the festival.

Monsters: Dark Continent, sequel to 2010's Monsters, takes place ten years on from the events of Monsters, and the 'Infected Zones' have now spread worldwide. In the Middle East a new insurgency has begun. At the same time there has also been a proliferation of Monsters in that region. The Army decide to draft in more numbers to help deal with this insurgency.

What starts out as a war film / creature feature, becomes more of a story about a small group of soldiers and how they deal with what's going on. As the film progresses, so do the emotional state of the characters.

Although not the best film of the festival by any stretch, with the excellent performances from the main cast which provided the strong emotional content to the film and some beautiful cinematography, this sequel was extremely enjoyable.

Monsters: Dark Continent gets 3 Stars

Check out the trailer below and again, another Q&A with cast members Joe Dempsie (Game of Thrones), Sam Keeley, Johnny Harris (This Is England '86/88, The Last Days on Mars) and film editor Richard Graham.

From left to right: Johnny Harris, Sam Keeley, Me, Joe Dempsie
I was actually pretty star struck with meeting Joe Dempsie as I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan! He plays Gendry, the "bastard" son of Robert Baratheon.

So that was the end of the 2014 Mayhem Horror Film Festival and an amazing weekend. Keep your eyes out for part 4 which looks at "10 Years of Mayhem."