Perennial Edinburgh horror festival Dead by Dawn will return from April 20th - 23rd, taking over Screen One of the Filmhouse for another long weekend of premieres, new features, past classics and diverse shorts. Here is everything you can expect.
Things kick off on Thursday evening with the UK premiere of the soon-to-be-infamous The Evil Within, where a mirror’s reflection convinces a mentally handicapped man to go on a killing spree, and features Michael Berryman of The Hills Have Eyes fame.
The first of seven short film strands follows, this one titled Lamb to the Slaughter, where a teacher dares to abandon the curriculum; a nerd figures out how to be one of the cool kids; a teenager in love works around her territorial mother; and skipping school turns out to have consequences.
Finishing off the opening is a midnight showing of Phenomena, Dario Argento’s divisive murder mystery in which a teenage Jennifer Connolly investigates murders at a boarding school with the help of some insects, and will be screening from a 4K restoration print courtesy of Arrow, ahead of their upcoming Blu-ray re-release of the film.
Friday opens with the second short film programme What You Make It, a returning feature for shorts that are horror stories but not exactly horror films. Body dump gets a whole new meaning; suburbia gets a ton weirder; a monster teaches a little boy to be less afraid of death; animal cruelty doesn’t go unpunished; and there are two wildly different perspectives on what it takes to play a corpse.
The Scottish premiere of the surreal Without Name sees a surveyor slowly descend into madness while investigating a forest inhabited by supernatural forces. The feature will be preceded by director Lorcan Finnegan’s short Foxes, where a young couple living in a monotonous housing estate are driven by vulpine shrieking into a twilight world of the paranormal.
Next is short film programme Hell Is Other People, where an ancient evil isn’t the worst thing at a gatecrashed dinner party; it’s hard to be a kid in a pristine house; all-American kids get stuck in a cliché loop; and a quiet guy is a teeny bit rattled when a Satan-worshipping sex cult moves in next door.
The UK premiere of The Night Watchmen sees an ex-con return to his home town and take a job as the nocturnal security guard of the abandoned local mine, in which something may be lurking.
The day finishes with a late night David Cronenberg double bill of psychic powers, first seeing Stephen King adaptation The Dead Zone, where a man gifted with precognition tries to change the future, and then Scanners, a tale of telepathic warfare and exploding heads.
Saturday starts with Madhouse, the first of the weekend’s two helpings of Vincent Price, where he plays the star of a series of horror movies, who upon release from a mental institution becomes involved in a spate of murders in the style of deaths from his films.
More short films feature in The End Is Nigh, where a heatwave pushes one artist to meet another; a sweet girl will dance with you when things are bleakest; the shadows look back in a farmhouse; the grim reaper has designs on a vintage sofa; and a masked assailant does his damndest to chase a girl through a dark forest.
Psychological thriller Always Shine sees two former best friends take a weekend trip to a remote cabin in the hope of rekindling their friendship, but tension and jealously begin to mount, leading to an intense confrontation.
In the shorts assortment Now Wash Your Hands, unrequited love is played out between an abattoir and a brothel; a teenage girl gives herself to her boyfriend and is surprised at what she gets in return; a jogger swallows a bug that refuses to die; and a dose of strep inspires the arrogant worms.
The evening’s main event is the UK premiere of the gruelling but brilliant Accidental Exorcist, following an alcoholic demon banisher through the grind of his supernatural day job. Afterwards, the film’s director Daniel Falicki (the subject of STARBURST’s regular Independent’s Day feature in issue #413) will be on hand for a Q&A session.
The concluding late-night double bill is Fred Dekker-themed with House and The Monster Squad – respectively written and directed by him – and each is accompanied by a recorded introduction from Dekker made especially for the festival. The former is a comedy horror where a troubled author moves into the home of his deceased aunt and is menaced by the creatures living there, the latter is about a bunch of misfit kids with a love of classic movie monsters who must step up when Dracula instigates a plan for world domination, and both are staples of ‘80s cult viewing that should appeal to anyone.
Sunday begins with more Vincent Price, this time in Scream and Scream Again, a three-part conspiracy thriller anthology variously involving a runner who wakes up in hospital to find his legs amputated, an officer in a totalitarian state killing his way to power, and police hunting for a serial killer who drains his victims of blood.
Festival regular 2D & Deranged showcases a number of animated shorts, including a journey into a Miltonesque world of monsters; mad scientists and warpigs; some untrustworthy maternal advice; action taken against a totalitarian insect regime; frogs taking full advantage of a pool party; and a fight for survival that may stop you using wire cutters ever again.
The UK premiere of gothic thriller Dig Two Graves sees a young girl obsessed with her brother’s death face an impossible choice when given the opportunity to bring him back, and which given the film’s title, should involve some revenge somewhere along the way.
The animal-themed shorts of It’s Over, Rover see one man’s fishing expeditions finally yield the big catch; a little girl witnessing a terrible crime; a couple’s kindness thrive in the face of an entire menagerie of misfortune; and one cat fit nine lifetimes of adventure into one very surprising existence.
The Scottish premiere of Dry Blood sees a drug addict determined to kick his habit hole up in a remote woodland cabin, but is soon subjected to some strange visions that have nothing to do with narcotic hallucinations.
The weekend’s closing movie is the Scottish premiere of The Void, the latest from micro-budget comedy horror purveyors Astron-6, which features the staff and patients of a run-down hospital being menaced by a hooded cult while everyone inside gradually turns insane. And something is lurking in the basement…
If all this inspires you to see more, Dead by Dawn weekend passes are £75, and are available to buy in person at the Filmhouse, from its website, or over the phone on 0131 228 2688. If for some reason not all of the line up takes your fancy, tickets for each individual screening will be available from early April.SHARE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW OR ON TWITTER @STARBURST_MAG
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