In keeping with my own Abertoir tradition I did not make it to the short films. I think I made it to one set in the first year. I will say though that I’m really surprised that again, Butterflies did not sail past the competition. It is a beautiful piece of work, but obviously, without having seen many of the others I can’t say whether it was the best (it probably was though).
So, yeah, the first thing I saw on day five was something I was looking forward to and dreading in equal measure. A found-footage film. Yeah, I know, I was looking forward to it, for a change, but also with that same feeling that I’d spend my next 2 hours watching an empty room until a cupboard door opens. Imagine my surprise when it was not only a great film, but I was also scared out of my tiny mind by it. I described the style of it in the videos as Peep Show goes ghost-hunting, due to the head-cams that document much of the action, managing to avoid the vomit-inducing shaky-cam of so many before it. Also, while it does a fair bit of stationary camera watching, when things happen, things really happen and the effect is an incredibly nerving experience. Can’t wait to terrify myself with this one again in April.
Following this was The Forgotten, a German ghost story with a difference about a woman who returns to her home town with an old friend and begins to unearth an unpleasant past. It was a well-constructed tale, but the packing in of twists did take some of the shine off for me. Perhaps with even one less turn I would have liked it more. However, the first half and particularly the opening sequence is superbly creepy, with an almost fairytale feel to it. It’s something I’d definitely recommend and just goes to show the variety of films Abertoir screens.
Saturday was to be a very special night with a double bill of Zombie Flesh Eaters followed by The Haunting, with special guests Fabio Frizzi and Richard Johnson meeting for the first time on the stage at Abertoir despite both having credits on Zombie Flesh Eaters in the 1970s. This was a really special moment and we were treated to both sharing their experiences with Lucio Fulci in a light-hearted but reflective and thoughtful session. Zombie Flesh Eaters is perhaps best known for a scene in which a zombie and a shark fight and also a scene where a woman is pulled eye first onto a splinter of wood. While I’ve seen both scenes in isolation it was great to see them as a wider part of the story, even if the shark thing makes no sense anyway! The Haunting is one of my favourites and always scares me, with this screening being no different, but extra special for seeing it on the big screen.
To finish Saturday night it was the Abertoir party, in which band White Blacula played, followed by a DJ set by Bronnt Industries Kapital that incorporated a variety of Italian horror themes for us all to enjoy while sipping cocktails, reflecting on the previous films and also readying ourselves for the last day. *sniff, sniff*. No, that’s just something in my eye…