The full line up has been released for Dead by Dawn, the annual festival of new and classic horror movies taking place in Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, running this year from Thursday 21st to Sunday 24th April.
The festival opens on Thursday evening with the hotly anticipated Green Room, where a destitute punk band performing for a group of white supremacists witness a murder and must fight for their lives to survive against the skinheads. This is followed by the UK premiere of K-Shop, where after his father’s death, the son of a kebab shop owner goes on a vigilante rampage against drunken thrillseekers waging war on the streets outside.
Friday kicks off with the modern classic Jacob’s Ladder, a trippy psychological horror from 1990 where Tim Robbins’ severely damaged Vietnam vet endures flashbacks and hallucinations as his perception of reality and delusion becomes increasingly blurred.
Next is 2D & Deranged, a regular feature of the festival where animated shorts assault the senses in a barrage of depravity. This year will feature Frozen Blood Test, a claymation tribute to a classic horror scene via a more recent, decidedly not-horror family film; Alt-Tab, featuring revenge of the hand-driers; Francis, a vital lesson in rowing out on the lake in the dead of night; Other Lily, showing that some drawings are most certainly not for the fridge; Mute, in which some people will do anything to be heard.
What You Make It is another short film programme, featuring films that might not be traditionally described as horror but will nevertheless appeal to the genre’s audiences. Featured is La Séance (aka The Session), showcasing eternal elegance; Death In Bloom, showing how to go out in style; How Deep Can I Go?, asking questions about humanity’s capacity for love; The House Is Innocent, where a sweet retired couple explain their only slightly creepy life choice; and The Nest, giving a whole new thing to worry yourself sick over.
Next up is Welsh supernatural mystery Yr Ymadawiad (aka The Passing). When a car crash leaves young lovers Iwan and Sara stranded in the Welsh mountains, they are rescued by the mysterious Stanley, who lives alone on an isolated farm. As the pair recover secrets begin to emerge, of each member of the trio and the valley itself. The film’s director Gareth Bryn will in attendance to host his screening.
The UK premiere of Decay is the story of Jonathan, a quiet and isolated man who longs for the companionship of others, but lacks the skills to go about attaining it. The chance arrival of a stranger affords him the opportunity to alleviate his loneliness, but things soon start to get out of hand.
The evening closes with a double-bill tribute to the late Wes Craven, both of which will be screening from 35mm prints. First up is New Nightmare, the seventh instalment in the Nightmare On Elm Street saga and a metafictional precursor to Scream. The film portrays Freddy Kruger as a far more menacing presence than the wisecracking joke his character descended into as the series progressed throughout the ‘80s, and sees him stalking the people involved in making the Elm Street films, further blurring the line between fiction and reality. After this comes Craven’s horrific 1977 exploitation flick The Hills Have Eyes, where a holidaying family are targeted by a clan of cannibals. Survival for the victims becomes not just about avoiding being slaughtered by the ruthless flesheaters, but also remaining sane when (or if) they escape from their ordeal.
Saturday begins with the post-apocalyptic Astraea, in which an unexplained event known as The Drop (where people simply dropped dead) has wiped out most of the planet’s population. The teenage Astraea becomes driven by telepathic communications to travel five thousand miles to rescue her young brother. But as she and her half-brother travel through the newly desolate world, the lure of being able to have a new home and a new life might prove greater than the imperative to reunite her family.
Where The Wild Things Are is another short film programme, proving that feral forces are out to get us, whether in the wilderness or urban sprawl! In Foxglove, a bored little girl is tempted to play outside; in The Bridge Partner more than one game is played out; in L’Ours Noir (aka The Black Bear) some happy hikers don’t pay enough attention; in Bad Throttle one man really resents being woken in the middle of the night; and in Boniato some borders are never meant to be crossed.
The UK premiere of Der Bunker finds a student looking for solitude rent a cheap room from a family living in a bunker mansion isolated deep within a forest. Ending up as the teacher of the family son, he discovers the parents have differing ideas over what education means. The film’s director Nikias Chryssos will in attendance to host his screening.
Antibirth is another UK premiere, featuring party girls Lou and Sadie living out their lives in a desolate Michigan town. After Lou wakes up with a mysterious sickness accompanied by strange visions, things quickly begin to get weird as a possible conspiracy emerges.
The Corpse of Anna Fritz sees the eponymous adored actress found dead in the bathroom at a party. The attendant at the morgue to which she is taken lets two friends look in on the dead celebrity, where things quickly get sickeningly out of hand.
The night ends in another double bill, this time of ‘80s classics. From Beyond sees scientists create a device to enhance human perception, only to reveal creatures from another dimension that transform one of them into a murderous shapeshifting mutant. Dead and Buried takes place in a coastal village where local mobs begin murdering visitors to the town, only for the corpses to begin coming back to life.
Sunday begins with the UK premiere of Creature Designers: The Frankenstein Complex, a documentary that delves deep into the mechanics of monster-making through extensive interviews and unseen footage, looking back to the earliest stop-motion work and forward to new technologies.
The Apocalypse Soon collection of shorts showcases visions of the near future, with the barren loneliness of Graffiti; the surprise shocker of Monsters; and the State-driven hell of The Disappearance of Willie Bingham.
Another UK premiere comes in the form of She Who Must Burn. Angela operates an abortion counselling service after the clinic she worked at was shut following the murder of its doctor. In doing so she incurs the wrath of the local preacher and his conservative flock, who believe God is sending them signs of his disapproval of Angela’s actions and vow to make her pay for her transgressions.
The weekend’s last assortment of short films comes under the self-explanatory theme of I Blame The Parents. Black Eyes sees two bored and lonely kids bond over blood; in De Kleinzoon (aka The Grandson) death is always unexpected; in Viking a father is called to account for his failures; in Honor Student one woman’s expectations fall short; Blight has an expectant mother better off with a priest than a midwife; and The Babysitter Murders has a dark and stormy night for one young woman.
The final UK premiere of the festival is Sorgenfri (aka What We Become) where a family are quarantined inside their home after a particularly virulent strand of flu sweeps through the town. When things start to escalate, they are forced to extreme measures to survive, testing their bond as a family to its limit.
Rounding everything off is Men & Chicken, promised to be properly hilarious, absolutely disgusting, and jaw-droppingly violent. When brothers Elias and Gabriel set out to meet their biological father and other blood relatives, they soon discover a hideous truth about their family.
As well as all of these lovely screenings, returning for another year is the legendary Shit Film Amnesty, offering attendees the chance to offload the very worst of their DVD collection. To participate just bring along the offending film and explain why it’s the worst ever made, and then the whole thing is put to an audience vote. The “winner” then gets to take home the entire lot!
All-inclusive weekend passes priced £75 are available from the Filmhouse box office in person, on 0131 228 2688 or from the website. Or if the whole line up is a bit too much for you to handle, individual tickets for all screenings will be on sale from early April.SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW OR ON TWITTER @STARBURST_MAG
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