So, Abertoir is over for another year and while my liver is suffering and my craving for an actual vegetable is almost unbearable, I could happily have stayed for much longer. What would be left of me is a whole different matter, but I can always recommend the festival to anyone. This year was my third year attending the festival and it has been a great experience every year – even if I do make myself a promise to attend everything before red wine happens and it all falls apart a bit. Of course, there were some films I had previously seen at Celluloid Screams in Sheffield – Painless (my review for allhorror.net is here), Discopath, The Body, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears, Chiméres and The Battery – meaning I could have a few breaks without missing out, although Discopath, The Body and Chiméres demanded a second viewing.
As most of those who follow me on Twitter know, myself and Hayley of Hayley’s Horror Reviews have been producing some short on-the-ground festival footage, thanks largely to Hayley’s quickly-increasing editing abilities that have meant that we’ve been able to record a great deal of our instant reactions to films and get them uploaded fairly quickly. The link to the playlist for these videos (and others from Sheffield and last year’s Abertoir) is here and we’d be grateful for comments, shares and even helpful tips or what you might like to see next year.
With that bit of housekeeping taken care of it’s probably best that I structure my thoughts following the festival on a day-by-day, film-by-film (or event) basis. Of course, I’m not going to give away too much of my thoughts on films that I might get around to doing full reviews on at some point. Will probably return to my method for my first Abertoir and review one film from each day…wish me luck. Without further ado…my Abertoir 2013 Round Up, with thanks to Gaz, Nia and Rhys for putting on such a wonderful festival and working so hard.
The first film at Abertoir 2013 was originally intended to be a classic screening of The Haunting with Richard Johnson in attendance to take part in a Q&A session following the screening. However, due to a scheduling conflict, Richard Johnson was unable to attend until the Saturday, but this resulted in some very special moments which otherwise would not have happened. Instead, we were treated to a screening of The Mummy, featuring some wonderful eye-acting from Christopher Lee and one of the greatest backhanded compliments from the mouth of Peter Cushing.
Following this was my second opportunity to see Discopath – again screening with short film The Body. The best description I can bestow upon Discopath is that it is a grubby and disarmingly, darkly funny film. I feel like some of the negative response to the film is as result of people expecting it all to be played for laughs – admittedly the premise does have a comedic value – but instead are confronted with a frequently unpleasant and gory film. The Body before it is an example of a short film done very right – playing perfectly into its run time with wit and stylish design.
The third film of the first night came from Lucky McKee, which of course, I was very excited about. The Woman is one of my favourite films of the last few years and getting to directly fangirl at Lauren Ashley Carter at Celluloid Screams was a major highlight and I was expecting a similarly hard-hitting, social commentary. Instead, we got All Cheerleaders Die. I knew very little about it, and again those watching the videos/following on Twitter will already know that I loved this, partially for being so different to what I was expecting. However, there are moments that are distinctly Lucky McKee, although it is missed with a humour and madness not always present. The ending was probably one of the best I’ve seen too.
The final film of the night was Lucio Fulci’s City of the Living Dead, continuing Abertoir’s love affair with 1970s Italian horror. As I’d seen this fairly recently I decided some sleep was a better option, but not before sticking around for episode 4 of Danger 5. Last year, Abertoir showed the first three episodes before midnight screenings of the 1960s, Nazi-hunting, spy team parody full of strange non-sequiturs and perhaps more importantly, some great cocktail recipes. These recipes in fact, formed an important part of this year’s festival as bar patrons were treated to The Perfect Fruiten Kahmoon (the best one) and The Perfect Swiss Kiss (surprisingly tasty), designed for us movie and booze hounds based on actual recipes from the show. The creators of Danger 5 had also prepared a special introduction for each episode – often upping the strangeness considerably. I can’t really accurately explain entirely what Danger 5 is, but it’s a slice of absolute brilliance.
This was my first day at Abertoir 2013 and as my rambling about it has dragged along a little, I think I’ll be posting the round up by days to avoid the dreaded wall of text. Day Two through Six to come. Six days! How did we all survive that?!