With the partying done on Friday night Day Five kicked off with a far more sober affair in the form of Faults – an economically shot film about a washed-up cult deprogrammer taking on one more case in the form of a young girl whose parents desperately want her to leave the cult she’s joined. Now, you only have to whisper the word cult to me and I’m there – something about it terrifies me and intrigues me. Faults may be the strongest of that kind of film in a long time and its hard to compare it to anything else. For large parts of the film the action is confined to one room and features an emotional game of chess between Mary Elizabeth Winstead (in the kind of performance I never expected) and Leland Orser. It is so difficult to discuss this one without including important details, so I’ll just leave it with a final thought that it was stunning and the second the credits rolled I wanted to see it again.
Up next was one of the films I’d really been hoping to see on the festival circuit from the moment I saw the Comic Con trailer – Tusk. Despite some apprehension after watching Red State (bleh that was awful), I was still excited for a film that had emerged from possibly the strangest GumTree advert in existence. The casting of Justin Long is really inspired with him able to drift seemingly effortlessly from simple, thoughtful Wallace into mean-spirited podcaster mode. Again, very little I can say on this without adding spoilers but I laughed myself insensible during at least one point of this film, but that’s not to take away from how disturbing it all is when you consider the logistics later on.
In order to do justice to remembering the video nasties, it seems only right to show one. With that said, and Abertoir’s guest of honour being Luigi Cozzi, it stands to reason that Contamination would be the film to show. In addition, another guest Ian McCullough starred in the film (plus Zombie Flesh Eaters and Zombie Holocaust) and so another double Q&A would follow the film, just as Fabio Frizzi and Richard Johnson had done last year on Zombie Flesh Eaters. Watching Contamination now, its hard to imagine it being banned. It doesn’t contain any of the more objectionable or taboo material from other nasties and its effects are very good, but not overly convincing. If anything, this screening really summed up how completely ridiculous banning films was and how films with conspicuous names could be plucked from a line up and said to be dangerous. The Q&A was also packed with somewhat sordid details on how many of these films were funded, on-set fights and other stories of being involved in the nasties.
Closing off the penultimate night of Abertoir was a very special event and one I’ve not seen attempted by much larger festivals and really showcases Aberystwyth itself as a great place for horror. First it was onto buses headed for the Vale of Rheidol steam railway, where we then made our way onto an authentic steam train headed for Capel Bangor. Upon arrival some ghost stories were told outside, although a few hiccups with acoustics meant I missed some of them. After some hot drinks, it was back to the platform to watch Horror Express in a specially erected screening room, which while very cold, provided a great experience for watching a horror classic. For me, Horror Express stands up very well to this day with some great effects. The whole experience was one of the best I’ve seen advertised at any festival and Abertoir’s organisers should really be commended for pulling it off so smoothly.