My first film on day three was Chanthaly, a film that is not only the first film to be made by a woman in Laos, but also the first in the horror genre to come out of the country. It is always interesting with Abertoir in the way that they schedule films from a variety of countries, which makes for some fascinating comparisons and contrasts in terms of sensibilities, cultural practices, histories and also restrictions. The production of Chanthaly was carefully monitored in order to avoid causing offense in director Mattie Do’s native Laos which means there is no gore, very little violence but a quiet and reflective ghost story, with a focus on the family. Considering the inexperience of the director it is an impressive and ambitious debut, with my only complaint being that it ran a little long. However, it is deliciously creepy in parts, with scenes comparable to Ringu and the 2010 version of Whistle and I’ll Come to You and, perhaps most importantly has an awesome dog starring in it. That’ll always win points with me.
Next up was Kiss of the Damned – advertised as a homage to Euro-sleaze and on that it delivers. Perhaps more interestingly is the fact that director Xan Cassavettes is the daughter of John Cassavettes – known in the horror genre for his role as Guy Woodhouse in Rosemary’s Baby, but also for his directorial work on films like The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, lending that extra expectation to it. Kiss of the Damned is like the ultimate guilty pleasure, containing vampires who live to have sex with one another, a simplistic plot with some awkward lines delivered ridiculously but it works! It is so well-constructed and charming (not to mention it has an awesome soundtrack) that you’re willing to instantly surrender to it and be taken along for the duration.
Following this was another talk from Peter Hutchings, again covering the life and times of Peter Cushing. The talk was an emotional one, filled with not only clips of the great man in action, but also personal anecdotes that left the majority of the audience at least a little misty-eyed. Also another great excuse to see the Morecambe and Wise clip, alongside other media inspired by Cushing.
Our last film before the Pub Quiz was Ghost Graduation – a film initially described as sounding a bit shit, having a terrible poster and was a last resort for organisers during a festival stay. However, this lovely Spanish comedy film turned out to be the best last resort ever taken – storming to a confident win as the Best Feature of the festival. There’s very little horror in it, even though it is a ghost story but functions more as The Breakfast Club (including at least one moment directly acknowledging this)…with spirits. What it is, though, is touching with great comedic timing and with tons and tons of feel-good moments.
It proved great scheduling as the fun-filled film put everyone in the right mood for the Pub Quiz. Now I’ve bemoaned the difficulty of the music round in this before, but this year (largely thanks to a bone thrown to us by Nia) we were able to secure a few more correct answers than previous years. Despite not winning (but importantly, also not losing), the Pub Quiz is always great fun, particularly when complimented by the specially designed cocktails.
Those cocktails would certainly help with the next film…Hentai Kamen Forbidden Superhero, which served as Abertoir’s annual slice of Japanese mayhem and weirdness. Before this though, we were treated to the final episode of series one of Danger 5, but happily were given a preview of series two, that will hopefully make its way to Abertoir for next year. Anyway, HK, is…odd. There’s not much I can say about the plot other than it is about a teen who unlocks his superhero potential, via perverted means. While the joke ran fairly thin fairly soon for me, there are some real laugh-out-loud moments in this one and a hellishly confident performance by the lead. Look up screenshots and you’ll see what I mean. Might be an idea to chuck a safe-search on first if you’re in a library or something though. Actually if you’re in public DO NOT LOOK IT UP!
With Thursday over, we can now look into the long weekend of Abertoir 2013…coming soon.