The dust has settled on Abertoir 2014 (and that dust mostly came off all those VHS cases we had on display…), we’ve mostly recovered and caught up on sleep, and it’s about time for us to take a look back at what was an amazing festival! Hugest thanks to EVERYONE who came - everyone who bought passes and tickets, everyone who was a guest with us, and everyone who helped us run a smooth and relatively pain-free festival once again. We really couldn’t do it without you.
More excitingly, here’s the full list of winners from the festival! It was an incredibly high-scoring year, with every single film scoring 3 or more stars out of 5! We were also able this year to award two short film prizes, the Abertoir Short Film Prize and the Melies d’Argent. The shorts competition was hard fought, and we’re glad that everyone enjoyed the films as much as we did.
Without further ado, the winners:
BEST NEW FEATURE FILM
What We Do in the Shadows (Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi, 2014)
Followed by Housebound (Gerard Johnstone, 2014), and Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s Island of Doctor Moreau (David Gregory, 2014).
BEST CLASSIC FILM/EVENT
Silent Horror Shorts Vol. 2 with live accompaniment by Paul Shallcross
Followed by Gremlins (Joe Dante, 1984) and Horror Express (Eugenio Martin, 1972).
We’re delighted to announce our full lineup for the 9th Abertoir Horror Festival, promising a massive selection of high profile UK premieres, screenings, talks and events.
Abertoir's main theme this year is that of the 1980s, commemorating 30 years since the passing of the Video Recordings Act, which was the result of the heavy-handed and shameful 'video nasties' campaign. This year's festival guests of honour are director Luigi Cozzi and actor Ian McCulloch, who join the festival for a screening of their former video nasty, Contamination. The festival will also be screening Mario Bava's A Bay of Blood from an original pre-certification VHS tape, in honour of the ground-breaking director's centenary. Professor Martin Barker will be informing and entertaining with a talk about his experiences during the early 80s battling the likes of Mary Whitehouse in defence of the films deemed 'sick filth'. To complement this, journalist Gavin Baddeley will explore moral panics which occurred prior to the twentieth century, while Johnny Walker and Mark McKenna explore the enduring legacy of those films which were dubbed ‘nasties’. It's not all nasty, though, as the festival also hosts a 30th anniversary screening of Gremlins, followed by an 80s disco – including light-up dance floor - but naturally, it'll be a disco with a twist...
The festival isn't just about nostalgia, though, with some of the best new horror films screening, including four UK premieres. The festival will host the first UK screenings of brand new Japenese films Over Your Dead Body (Takashi Miike), Fires on the Plains (Shinya Tsukamoto) and Live (Noburu Iguchi), as well as the chilling Dutch film The Pool (Chris R. Mitchell). Other new films include the hotly anticipated anthology film ABCs of Death 2, Canadian giallo-throwback The Editor, Kevin Smith’s brand new film Tusk, and Nazi zombie sequel, Dead Snow 2.
Silent film features as well, with pianist Paul Shallcross performing the world premiere of his new scores to some short film gems from cinema’s earliest beginnings.
The festival will also host the European premiere of the first three episodes of the second series of cult Australian TV show Danger 5, with its co-creator Dario Russo in attendance. Other guests include Steve Oram, star of the festival's audience-voted best film of 2012, Sightseers, who appears in this year's atmospheric chiller The Canal.
Indeed, the festival isn't just about the films either, with talks, Q&As and a pub quiz featuring in the schedule. This year's theatre show is the H P Lovecraft adaptation The Temple, devised and performed by actor Michael Sabbaton. The festival’s short film competition features brand new short horror films from across the globe, with the festival audience voting for their favourite and the winning European film receiving the coveted Melies d’Argent award.
In what is probably the most ambitious event ever organised by the festival, Abertoir is this year working with the Vale of Rheidol railway to truly bring to life the experience of watching the Peter Cushing/Christopher Lee classic Horror Express, a monster movie which takes place on the Trans-Siberia railway. First, our steam train will take the audience to the small station of Capel Bangor where local storyteller Peter Stevenson will entertain with local ghost stories - with mulled wine on hand to keep everyone warm! Then, upon return to Aberystwyth, the film will be screening on the platform itself. This promises to be a unique event which is not to be missed.
Take a good look through our schedule for the plans for the full festival. And at £58 for the whole six days, we’ll be seeing you here soon! Hurry though, there’s not many passes left!
(Post-festival edit: Sadly, we were unable to screen Fires on the Plain during the festival, thanks to errors with a courier service. Instead, we screened The House at the End of Time.)
Our ninth Abertoir is definitely our most exciting yet! Six days of films, talks, Q&As, music and theatre awaits you, at Wales’ national horror festival. This year, we’ll be paying tribute in our own unique style to the 1980s to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Video Recordings Act, so as we shamelessly embrace the 80s, here’s a bigger sneak peak at what we’ve got in store… Passes are now on sale!
We have two guests of honour this year! The first is known to most people as Greg Preston in the BBC TV series Survivors, but to us he’s also adored for his leading roles in Zombie Flesh Eaters, Contamination and Zombie Holocaust. IAN MCCULLOCH will be entertaining us with his brilliant anecdotes throughout his well-travelled career. He’ll also be taking part in a Q&A with our second guest of honour, the fabulous Italian director LUIGI COZZI, after a screening of their wonderful film – and one-time video nasty – CONTAMINATION.
OPENING/CLOSING FILMS We’ll be opening the festival in style with a very special 3D screening of Vincent Price’s classic HOUSE OF WAX. Converted from the original 3D elements to a digital format, the film has never looked so good! Throughout the six days of the festival, we’ll be hosting our usual selection of pre-release films and old-school favourites before closing with the riotous crowd-pleaser DEAD SNOW 2!
SILENT SHORTS VOL. 2 Our favourite silent film pianist Paul Shallcross is returning with a brand new collection of silent horror shorts from the early 20th century, with scores especially commissioned by Abertoir. Expect disembodied arms, disembodied heads, crocodiles on roofs and even an appearance from Buster Keaton himself, in another thoroughly entertaining and barking mad collection of the weird and wonderful.
NICKO AND JOE'S BAD FILM CLUB Comedians Nicko and Joe will be returning to Abertoir for their usual brand of acerbic wit and mockery as they guide us through their live commentary of another 80s classic that probably should have gone the way of shoulder pads and mullets...
And here’s some more info on some of the things we’ve already announced…
THE VIDEO NASTIES Professor MARTIN BARKER, who was one of the highest profile defenders of the video nasties, will be giving an exclusive presentation all about his role fighting the government, the media and Mary Whitehouse herself. He’ll be looking at how the whole sorry affair came about, exposing the lies and fabrications, and sharing with us his own personal experience of the time.
To complement this, our regular contributor GAVIN BADDELEY takes us on a thrilling tour back in time through the most lurid examples of history’s tawdry tabloid outrage and lynch mob censorship, while Dr JOHNNY WALKER and MARK MCKENNA take a look at exactly why and how the video nasties phenomenon have shaped today’s popular culture.
THE ABERTOIR EXPRESS! We change tracks and divert the 80s theme as we take over The Vale of Rheidol Steam Train! As part of the festival, we’ll be offering an atmospheric Edwardian steam train journey, drinks, storytelling and a screening of the Peter Cushing /Christopher Lee classic HORROR EXPRESS on the platform itself!
80s DISCO! After a 30th anniversary screening of GREMLINS, we’re working alongside DJ group The Leisure Hive to present LAST NIGHT A DJ TOOK MY LIFE, an 80s inspired music night that promises to mash-up, mix and remix classic horror themes with the kind of proven floor-fillers that you might expect to hear in a 1984 disco – includes a full size LED dance floor! 80s fancy dress strongly encouraged!
HP LOVECRAFT’S: THE TEMPLE We’re also looking forward to this year’s theatre show, THE TEMPLE, a claustrophobic and atmospheric adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s undersea tale of possession and madness, devised and performed by actor Michael Sabbaton.
THAT’S NOT ALL! There are plenty more things planned, plenty of guests we’ve got lined up, and plenty of surprises we won’t reveal just yet…but we’re shaping together another splendid festival this year, and we look forward to welcoming you back!
To participate in the Abertoir Horror Festival made me discover many things, a group of serious professionals who are growing, year after year, a unique event, full of culture and entertainment, a magical region such as Wales and the severe and charming Irish Sea. A reality from which I immediately felt adopted.
I can truly say that I was treated like a queen from beginning to end and that I loved every minute of it !! 'Abertoir' is to be highly recommended to any potential guest of honour like myself. The contrast between the peaceful, extremely comfortable and beautiful accommodation in the hills above the town and the exciting and eclectic film programme and guest line-up (never a dull moment) taking place at the wonderful and lively Arts Centre is to be experienced.The welcome and level of cooperation from Gareth and his team is four-star. Thank you SO much- I just hope that one of my recent projects will be selected in the future and that I can come back again I had such a nice time. You made me feel like I'm part of the family...!!
The Abertoir Festival is a great little festival that 'punches above its weight', in terms of delivering not only the best of contemporary horror from the festival circuit, but also putting those films in a context, curating events that pay tribute to past masters. The mix of films, music and live presentations give it the feel of a convention. And most of all the setting. Seaside resorts out-of-season have a haunting beauty, Aberystwyth has its own 'bubble'. It's like being in The Village and loving it!
Herschell Gordon Lewis
Here at last is a festival that combines the three elements any guest hopes to have but seldom sees in concert - a varied and entertaining program... consideration for the time of both guests and attendees... and a stimulating series of events. For attendees, the Program Guide itself has value beyond the modest admission fee. I know I speak for others such as Doug Bradley, when I say, loudly and clearly: Thank you, Abertoir!
Abertoir has the best movies, the best fans, the best Tromettes and the best sheep of any festival that Toxie and I have attended. Troma has changed it's name to Trom-Abertoir!
My trip to Abertoir was the finale of my Vincentennial tour--and what a perfect ending to an extraordinary year it was.!I thoroughly enjoyed the festival, meeting so many of my father's fans, as well as my fellow guests. But it was my trip to Wales that was the highlight. Aberysthwyth is a wonderful seaside town. The people are lovely, and the setting gorgeous. I even had glorious weather. The organizers of the festival treated me so well, and made sure that my trip to Wales was a memorable one! A trip to Abertoir should be on any horror fan's bucket list!!!
The week we spent in Aberystwyth was truly one of the most enjoyable trips my wife and I have ever had. The town and surrounding countryside are charming, magical and incredibly beautiful. The people were fabulously friendly and sincerely hospitable. The food was surprisingly fantastic. Our midnight walk through the ruins of the castle and adjoining graveyard, under a full moon, was not only wonderfully spooky but like travelling back through time. The only thing I found a lack of in Wales was... vowels!
Many congratulations on the way you have developed your splendid festival. I think you have shown great imagination and flair in doing so and I wish you every success with it in the future. Vicky and I thank you for an extremely pleasant visit.