Now moving on to day two of Abertoir, with something resembling an early night on night one I woke up surprisingly refreshed and ready to get down to some serious horror viewing, helped greatly by the 1pm start time. Today’s first film was Madhouse, featuring the focus of this year’s festival Peter Cushing and Abertoir’s very own patron saint, Vincent Price (no, seriously it’s in the programme now. Victoria Price has confirmed it…she’s that cool). This was a first viewing for me but anything featuring those horror greats must have something to it, and indeed it does. Gaz during an introduction to the film explained how this was one of the last horror’s of its kind before the juggernaut-like The Exorcist hit screens and left people wanting evermore violent and disturbing horror. What Madhouse provides is a warm and nostalgic look at a time before this, with the knowledge that you’re in safe hands for entertainment with Cushing and Price.
Keeping on the subject of horror icons, next up was the Court of Cult: British Horror’s Greatest Stars. The court was presided over by Judge Gaz (do excuse the terrible quality on my camera, ’tis all my fault) and featured presenters arguing for their favourite cult British horror star. Lively presentations were given in favour of Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Sheila Keith and Michael Ripper to be awarded Abertoir’s favourite. All the presentations were wonderful, but with a little help from Morecambe and Wise, Peter Hutchings secured a victory for Peter Cushing, rather fittingly. However, had Russ Hunter been able to play the fantastic clip of Christopher Lee reading from The Exorcist….that might have swung it. Nevertheless, we were not to be disappointed for long as it was screened just before Danger 5 later that night. Worth the wait. So worth the wait.
Up next was the second short film of the festival Grandpa, screening ahead of Across the River. I’ve spoken before about how I feel that some short films can function as a pitch for a feature length version and I would strongly suggest this is the case with Grandpa. There were quite a few half-ideas throughout it, with nothing completely fleshed out, which honestly, left me a little cold. A couple of creepy moments worked well, but ultimately felt a little hollow. This feeling would continue into Across the River – an Italian film with a focus on the history of tension between Italy and Slovenia using a ghost story as a way of exploring the themes. Somewhere within this film is a creepy and effective ghost story that hints at human cruelty, but unfortunately, it is over long and spends far too much time in the set up, meaning that the necessary ‘scary bits’ are few and far between. However, when there is a scare – it tends to be a good one.
Next up was Painless, and as I’ve already reviewed this, you already know that I loved it. Sharing a similarity to, Across the River, Painless is far less about the supernatural and more about troubled human histories and the cruelties within it. I did not see Painless for a second time here, but will definitely pick it up on DVD. I also missed The Station, largely due to its description as being like The Thing and having an emphasis on sci-fi. Those who know me, know that sci-fi is often not my thing, so as already mentioned, whenever you can find a break at a festival – it’s usually a good thing to take it.
My long break (and a little bit of rum) left me nice and refreshed for the midnight screenings of Danger 5 and Return to Nuke ‘Em High Vol. 1. Danger 5, as always, was a real treat and was again introduced by the hilarious creators. Now, I’ve never properly experienced a Troma film before, so Return to Nuke ‘Em was quite the introduction. I’ve already said in the videos how in the beginning, I laughed despite myself, thanks to a few well-placed cameos. However, the controversial one-liners soon came thick and fast and while some may have been well-received, the sheer amount of them turned the film into something rather more cruel than first imagined and for me, it lost a lot of steam. Still, I’m glad to have finally seen a Troma.