A Night of Horror: Opening Night - 26/03/09
By: Mr Intolerance on March 30, 2009  |  Comments ()  |  Share 

Yoiks doctor, the creature walks tonight! For all those too easily startled by direct sunlight, or distracted by shapes and colours, you may not have realised that Sydney's A Night of Horror film festival began last Friday. And began it did with a blast of local and international goodness. Oh really, you say? Well, yes, I answer, backed by the goodness of the eerie UK/French horror flick The Broken and the Aussie piece of splat-schtick comedy goodness, I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer.

Myself and Blake Ryan, star, writer and producer of Aussie geek-homage film Taber Corn, and a few mates of ours, went to go and check out the premier night of this festival, now running for its third straight year, and with a number of top shelf films on the program, two of which we saw this evening.

Due to beers and meeting at the pub, we nearly missed out on the intro to the festival by Sydney indie icon Jay Katz, one of the evil genii behind the awesome work of the Mu-Mesons Archives – if you live in or around Sydney and don't support these fine folks, shame on you and I hope you die. There were also some give-aways of Anchor Bay DVDs such as End of the Line, both of which were snagged by Digital Retribution forum members (one of whom might even be your present interlocutor). This led into the first of a brief round of short films: the Australian piece of creepy bizarrerie called Corrections, directed by Bob Franklin (yes, the bald guy who used to work with Jimeoin), followed by the 7 minute piece of Canadian strangeness The Strange Case of Mr Hollow – effectively the exploration of a still photo via the whole digital imaging thing; not really my bag. However, I think both films set the scene for the bleak tale of weirdness that was to ensue through the eerie silences that both films evoked.

The Broken, directed by Sean Ellis of Cashback fame, is a pretty darn spooky tale of doppelgangers, eerily reminiscent of E.T.A. Hoffmann's Sylvesternacht, Edgar Allan Poe's William Wilson, Hanns Heinz Ewers' The Student of Prague, and Phillip Kaufmann's remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It's a very slow burn, let me tell you, but a worthwhile one with a killer pay-off and a twist you'll only see coming the second time around. You will not be disappointed – UK horror still lives! Not one for the MTV-horror fans, The Broken needs an attention span longer than that of a gnat.There are some gruesomely bloody pay-offs for those who are willing to wait through the 88 minutes of run-time of this nastily told, yet beautifully shot, story; equal parts A Tale of Two Sisters and all of the novels, short stories and films I mentioned above. One of the best new horror films I have seen in a while.

A brief cigarette break later, and then we had Stacey Edmonds and Doug Turner (writers, producers, directors and photographers of the film) introduce I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer. Now, if you're a regular visitor to Digital Retribtution, the name of this film will not be unfamiliar to you, nor its central conceit – a member of a junior cricket team has his package whipped with a wet towel until genital-bleeding is in his immediate future, and some twenty years later the young tacker returns to wreak his cricket-inspired vengeance on those concerned – sharpened cricket stumps, cricket balls pounded through with nails, boxes with screws and nails driven through them, and a Freddy Krueger-inspired wicket-keeper's glove being the weapons of choice.

There was certainly plenty of hootin' and a-hollerin' during this packed out screening of the film (barely a spare seat in the house, as indeed was the case for The Broken), due to there being a whole bunch of cast and crew members and their friends and families there. A local interest in horror? I think so, and quite a strong one – several unlucky punters I saw being turned away at the door. A question and answer session followed the film, moderated by Digital Retribution's own David Michael Brown (did I mention that this very website got a credit in the thanks list of the film?).

So the film's over and everybody goes home? Oh, no. Doug and Stacey had obviously prepared well in advance, and the post-film party happened immediately afterwards at the Zanzibar in Newtown. Much beer was consumed, particularly by your fearless correspondent, who had a quite interesting conversation with director Bob Franklin about 70s UK horror and Jimeoin's show, and mumbled incoherently bordering on the sycophantically, to Doug – sorry dude, hope I didn't rain on your parade too much.

Once the fun and games were over and everyone had buggered off home (myself, Blake and A Night of Horror directors Dean Bertram, Lisa Mitchell and Bryant Johnston – salute these other four people in the street if you see them in the street, they are the life-blood that keeps the scene alive – were the last people standing, and where did that spectacularly gorgeous Amazonian Argentinian (I think) photographer come from?), it was time to toddle off and reflect on a night well-spent watching new horror, and, inevitably slump on the sofa re-watching Romero's Dawn of the Dead, while drinking more beers. The old ways are the best ways.

Look, I'm not a fella who really enjoys new horror that much. I'm a big fan of Hammer, Amicus and Tigon's work – but the two films I saw tonight I really enjoyed. The Broken is a creepy film that taps into all kinds of fears about identity and isolation (and has some spectacularly vicious moments doing so), and I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer is simply an absolute hoot of played dead-straight horror-comedy-splatter (with some awesome boobs) that worked extremely well, and no, that isn't just the beers talking.

You really should get your arse along to the A Night Of Horror film festival, because a) it's the best collection of Australian and international horror films doing the rounds of the country at the moment, and b) you really should be supporting the local scene, otherwise it will die an unnatural death – these folks are doing it for the love of the genre, not the money, let me tell you. So then, Family Demons next? Time to brush my teeth, put on my favourite horror t-shirt and saunter on down to the Dendy. Hope to see you there.

<< Mu-Mesons Archives - 21/3/09| Night Two - 27/03/09 >>

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