Carrie + “Mayhem Class of 2009 Halloween Prom Night”

carrie
With the Witching Hour fast approaching, the audience at the Mayhem Horror Film Festival settles down to watch a special Halloween treat, one of the great horror movies of all time: Carrie.

Watching an original print, scratches and the odd missing frame included, the audience is immersed in the movie as it was meant to be seen.

The story of a lonely and bullied girl with a secret has shocked and awed audiences for years, and this makes it the perfect movie to close Halloween night. Still as powerful as when it was first released and with outstanding performances from Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie and John Travolta, the festivals crowd was not disappointed by the spectacle they saw on the screen.

As the final credits rolled, the audience – many in full costume, headed for the CafeBar, transformed for the evening into Prom Night in all its glory.

With live band Lucky 27’s getting the show going in style with a cover of Monster Mash, vampires, zombies and humans alike danced well into the early hours, with the party remaining busy right up until the close. With only one day of Mayhem remaining, the crowd who’ve been loyal from the start were not going to let it end without one almighty party.

JAMES GORDON

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Mayhem Horror Film Festival & BAFTA Present: Being Human

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TV’s favourite Werewolf/Vampire/Ghost trio descended on Broadway Cinema today as the Mayhem Horror Film Festival played host to the cast and creators of hit BBC3 horror drama Being Human.

Taking time out from shooting the second series in Bristol, actors Russell Tovey, Aidan Turner, Lenora Crichlow and Sinead Keenan appeared alongside the shows producer Matthew Bouch, for a comprehensive Q+A, as well as showing the audience exclusive clips from the new series – due in January 2010.

It became clear that with the show now firmly established the 8 episode second series will expand and take the show in new directions – with a host of new characters – and Bouch revealed that we will be finding out huge amounts about the pasts of the characters – putting their experiences in context, flashing back as far as the 16th century in an attempt to uncover what lies behind the deeper mythology of the show.

Lenora reveals that Annie, previously the only regular ghost in the show will be joined by not one but several new trapped souls as series 2 progresses, with the question of what is keeping them from passing on, and what lies behind the final door if they do choose to, factoring hugely in the direction the show is going to take.

Elated by this news, the fans in the audience were further excited by the fact that Sinead Keenan, who plays George’s girlfriend Nina will be joining the show permanently for the new series. Hardly surprising given her characters fate by the end of the first, but excellent news nonetheless. “And then there were four” they all joke.

But of course, while whetting the appetites of the sell-out Broadway audience, desperate for as much new information as they can get, the panel are largely tight lipped, with the answer “You’ll just have to wait until you see it”, following questions as wide as the nature of the sinister Professor Jaggart, as well as how Nina’s scratch will affect her story arc in the show.

While the show’s  fans now have just over two months to wait to see the supernatural quartet return to screens, this BAFTA event was enough to get even the slightest fan of the genre excited – and its clear from the jovial atmosphere in the room, the shared laughs and jokes from the crowd to the panel, this show has an audience who are anything but half-hearted.

JAMES GORDON

Hellraiser

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As the clock strikes midnight at Broadway the Cenobites descend and Halloween gets going in style, with Clive Barker’s cult classic: Hellraiser.

The tale viewed by millions worldwide of the man who escaped the power of evil demon’s by convincing his ex-lover (and his brothers wife) to kill for him proved the perfect movie for this midnight screening.

The packed audience were clearly anticipating great things from seeing this great movie back on the big screen and they were not disappointed as this tale of morality (and early special effects) looks and sounds just as good as it did the first time round.

JAMES GORDON

Macabre

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Proving why Asian horror has become so popular in recent years, the brutal Macabre take the Mayhem Horrror Film Festival’s wrong-o-meter to its highest level yet.

Following the story of a group lured to a house in the woods by a girl with, purportedly, no way home, a blood curdling experience plays out on screen as we meet the sinister family at the house, all immortal, and all ready to sell the blood and bodies of their victims who they murder and maim in unimaginable ways.

From the decapitation of the first by chainsaw, to the dark and twisted climax, the film picks the group of one by one, before having a police squad turn up (who are also all killed).

You can feel the excitement in the audience as each progressive kill takes the movie to a new level and when it’s over the audience is spent, nothing left to give except the nightmares which must inevitably follow such a horrifically brilliant screening.

JAMES GORDON

La Horde

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From a cathartic, heart wrenching experience with Colin, Mayhem is thrown into sharp relief with its next movie: a preview of the 2010 French language film La Horde. Continuing the zombie theme, this time the undead mean business, in one of the goriest zombie sieges I’ve seen in some time.

When 4 police officers enter a gang hideout to avenge the murder of a colleague they could never expect that they would soon have to ally with his murderers to stand any chance of survival.

From the minute the first zombie bashes down the doors and devours one of the henchmen, before taking 7 full clips of ammunition without even seeming to notice, the film sets off at a frightening pace, racing through the dark corridors and staircases as the unlikely alliance (along with a frankly insane old war veteran) fight for survival, armed with shotguns, chain guns, grenades, and a trusty pickaxe.

The audience becomes encapsulated in the chase, as seemingly the last 7 people alive are forced to watch as one by one they’re picked off, either being bitten or sacrificing themselves to save the rest.

It’s so different to the movie which precedes it and yet it’s equally brilliant. For a genre fan this has everything you could possibly want. Blood, unstoppable amounts of zombies, dark enclosed spaces which leave practically no room for escape. This is going to go down in the books as one of the great zombie genre movies. A fantastic addition to Mayhem 2009!

JAMES GORDON

Mayhem Horror Film Festival Begins!

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The Mayhem Horror Film Festival got underway tonight with one of the most hotly anticipated zombie movies in years: Colin. Made on a budget of just £45 (which director Marc Price admits was spent mainly on biscuits), the movie follows one zombie: Colin, as he journey’s through the world of the undead, trying to make sense of his new place in the world.

As with all high profile films, there is always the question of whether it will live up to the huge hype surrounding it, but Colin doesn’t disappoint. This “zombiespective” film is something new and exciting in a genre where there is usually a near universal formula of: Human hero has to survive zombie apocalypse. With this there is no chance of survival. Colin is bitten within the opening 30seconds, and has changed fully by the next scene.

And yet, you find the most humanity in Colin himself. Unlike any other zombie movie, you find yourself actually really caring about the fate of this particular zombie, rather than just seeing him as a mindless member of the horde. The empathy we feel for him is a huge success on Price’s part, as well as that of Alastair Kirton, who plays Colin.

Filmed entirely on a mini-DV camcorder the film has a gritty and real feel to it, with many of the over exposures and other imperfections left in, but it just works that way. As Price asserts in the Q+A which follows the screening; “Mini-DV will never look like film, and if you try it just looks fake and bad, so I decided it worked better as it was” and I have to agree, the film doesn’t suffer but in fact is added to by its imperfections. It gives it a sense of character.

All in all then, a great way to kick of the fest, and if everything is this good, its going to be one hell of a weekend.

Interview with Director Marc Price

James Gordon for Mayhem (JG): I’m here with Marc Price, director, writer, producer, editor and lets face it just about the whole crew for Colin. It’s great to have you here for the festival Marc

Marc Price (MP): Thank you. It’s the most terrifying thing I’ve done so far. It’s so different showing it to a room of people who don’t know the genre and showing it at a horror fest. Here there is no room for error. Either it went well or I was going to get something thrown at me on the way out.

JG: Oh there was no danger of that. The audience seemed to absolutely love it – I know I did.

MP: Thank you so much. You have no idea how much that means.

JG: So, given the incredibly low budget, what did you expect to happen with this movie? You couldn’t possibly have predicted this amount of exposure for it I guess?

MP: I was going to go on the horror forums online, set up a few fake avatars and try and get a discussion going about it, saying “I’ve heard about this movie”…

JG: Ah the good old discussion with yourself for 50 posts

MP: Exactly! And then hopefully someone else would stumble into the thread and say “hmmm what’s this all about then” and I would send them a copy. I honestly didn’t think anything else was going to happen with it. We ended up screening at Abertoir which is this welsh film festival, which is where Helen Grace saw it. She asked Gareth Bailey who was organising if there was anything worth seeing and he said “yeah there’s this film Colin”, and she watched it and rang me up and said: Ususally I do web on demand stuff, but I reckon we can get a DVD release. And I sorta said…

JG: “Hmm…yes please!”? [laughs]

MP: [also laughing] It was definitely something like that. So I signed with her and it was amazing. She was much braver pushing the film than I was. I was always much more nervous, just sort of mentioning it here and there, saying maybe you could check this out, and I’d send it to the horror sites for review and stuff, but she forced it on people. I met up with Ian Rattray at FrightFest, and got talking to him about Battlestar Galactica or whatever but I didn’t want to say “Oh you should see my film”, because he seemed to like me. He might not like me as much once he’d seen it. [laughs]

JG: What goes through your mind when, as an independent film maker, the word Cannes hits? When you get that phone call saying that its been booked?

MP: Honestly: waste of money. I’m living in my overdraft. I couldn’t afford to be flying to a foreign country to see my movie. But thankfully Helen [Grace] found us some cheap flights and my girlfriend found a cheap hotel and we just went. It was the most amazing experience. That was actually where this whole £45 thing came from. The point of going to Cannes was to prove we were at Cannes basically. So we wanted to find any article that proved we were there, knowing it would be easier to sell to a distributor. So on the second night Helen slips this piece of paper across the table and it read, without a word of a lie: “Colin, directed by Marc Price, Budget: £800,000” (JG: [gasps] what?!?!) and I basically said: oh crap. If people see this movie and are expecting an £800,000 movie, we’ll be done for. They’ll think we embezzled it and bought a house somewhere or something. But that’s when Helen realised she didn’t know how much it cost. She asked, assuming it would be about £4-500 and I just laughed, telling her it was more like £40, £45 tops. And she said: you have to tell people that. That’s the selling point for this movie. I’d always thought that myself because it would put the audience in the right frame of mind. They’d expect low budget so when you get to the street fight and the house scene at the end, they’d be surprised.

JG: Absolutely. You really do sit there thinking: how did you manage to get so much of this done for so little money. Seriously: I think you did a great job with what you had.

MP: Thank you. Thank you so much for saying that.

JG: Something I really loved about the movie, and you alluded to it in the Q+A was that you didn’t try to hard to fix the imperfections in the shots. There are shots which are massively over exposed…

MP: The bathroom scene in particular

JG: …right! It really works like that though. The contrast of Colin there against this almost white background from the overexposure, it adds this whole other dimension to the movie.

MP: Totally.

JG: What I love about Colin as a character is that, even as a zombie, he is the most human person in it. We’re rooting for him even though he’s a mindless zombie.

MP: That’s what I was trying for. I was trying to get the audience to connect with him in a way they didn’t know if they could, so by the time you get to the scene at the end, where it comes full circle, and you see the road-sign and you realise you’re going into the flashback, the emotional payoff is immense.

JG: Well you totally succeeded on that front. That payoff as he stumbles through the door and you realise that he’s human, and that it’s a flashback to before he gets bitten… my mouth dropped. But it wasn’t contrived either. It worked. Because you felt so strongly about Colin as a character, you almost needed that scene proving that the humanity we bestowed on him wasn’t misplaced. He followed the girl because he did remember her, he remembered the road sign, he remembered everything, and even when he had turned, he still tried to find his way back home to the girl.

MP: Exactly.

JG: Well thank you for talking to us Marc.

MP: No problem, any time!

JAMES GORDON

ScreenLit Closing Party

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And so the first ever ScreenLit Festival has come to an end. But not before we see it out with a big party!

Starting with a few thank you’s to everyone who worked on the festival, the cafebar was packed out as Plaster Of Paris, the band from Unmade Beds the final movie shown at the festival, took to the floor.

Clearly pleasing the crowd, they get huge cheers and it’s clear that everyone in  Broadway wants to party the night away.

As the band finish their set the DJ’s take over blasting out brilliant tunes, while the revellers make sure the bar staff don’t get a spare minute the whole night as the drinking and revelling continues.

As the party nears its climax, the complete staff, everyone from the front of house, to the projectionists, to the DJ’s, to even my humble self, assemble on the staircase in front of the huge ScreenLit sign that has adorned the staircase all week, for one final photograph before we all go our separate ways.

In a week then which has had a UK premier, a rare masterclass from a Screenwriting legend, a whole bunch of talks and Q+A’s with so many greats in British cinema and books, and of course a whole range of amazing movies, this party is just the cherry on top of the cake.

I don’t think it would be presumptuous to say: This will not be the last time Broadway hosts a festival like this! Roll on next year!
JAMES GORDON


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