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Wales’ International Horror Festival

11 - 16 November 2014, Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Wales

Abertoir press releases

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First wave of films announced

Note: The schedule has been amended since this announcement was made. Please see the schedule page for the up to date schedule.

It’s time here at Abertoir to finally start lifting the veil on what we’ve got planned! While we put the finishing touches on our schedule and confirm our last films (which we’re eagerly awaiting to hear back on), here is a selection of what you can expect…

First, as we’ve revealed previously, join us on the opening of the festival on 5th November, in which our guest of honour Richard Johnson himself will present a 50th anniversary screening of The Haunting.

Then over the course of the festival’s whopping six days we’re carrying on the ghostly theme of our opening film with a screening of The Borderlands, in which a team of Vatican ghost hunters try to debunk the supernatural happenings in a rural church. More ghosts abound in the infinitely enjoyable crowd-pleaser Promoción Fantasma (Ghost Graduation), in which a high school teacher tries to help a bunch of students pass their graduation exams…the only problem being that they died 20 years ago. The Sixth Sense meets The Breakfast Club: plenty of 80s references and some very clever jokes.

Neatly bookending the festival is our closing film, Axelle Carolyn’s classy and intelligent debut feature Soulmate. Shot in the Brecon Beacons, we’re proud to be giving the film its Welsh premiere. Axelle’s film is a sophisticated ghost story with substance, and dare we say it, a soul.

From ghosts we move to vampires, and any Abertoir regular knows our love for old-school horror. Heavily inspired by the Euro-sleaze horror film scene of the 60s and 70s, Xan Cassavetes’ Kiss of the Damned is an affectionate tribute to a style of filmmaking that elevated the likes of Jean Rollin, Jess Franco and Mario Bava to cult icons. Regulars may remember the short films of Olivier Beguin, Dead Bones, Employee of the Month. He’s made the leap from shorts to features and we’re delighted to be playing Chimeres, the story of a blood transfusion that has unintended side effects. Chimeres also stars last year’s Abertoir guest of honour, Catriona MacColl.

But what about the regular crazy Japanese movies, we hear you cry? Don’t worry, our line is unbroken and we’re certainly not going to disappoint you. We’re absolutely proud to be hosting the UK premiere of HK: Forbidden Super Hero (the H stands for ‘hentai’ and if you know what that means, you’re already one step ahead already). Kyoksuke is no ordinary super hero…wearing a pair of girls’ panties on his head instead of a mask activates his perverted DNA, transforming him into the ass-kicking, ball-crushing, panty-wearing superhero Hentai Kamen!

Moving back to normality, or at least a bleaker version of it, we are extremely pleased to be presenting another Welsh made film, the Bafta Cymru award-winning The Machine. Stylish, chrome-tinged cinematography and a throbbing synth score add to the view of a dystopian future in this tale of how far man’s development of machines can replace humanity.

Anyone who saw Amer a few years back will remember one thing in particular…the style. Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani are back for their latest hotly anticipated homage, The Strange Colour of Your Body’s Tears. Much like the giallo films they’re emulating, this is a labyrinthine film overwhelming in both its hyper-stylized visuals and remarkable soundtrack . Certainly destined to be a unique experience, if there ever was a “neo-giallo”, this is it.

If you want to give your brain cells a rest and enjoy a rowdy crowd-pleaser, we’ll be screening the new film from Lucky McKee, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE. As you can imagine, there are cheerleaders, there are deaths, and…well…we don’t need to spell it out for you!

If you’re a fan of the classics and are feeling a little left out, there’s nothing to worry about as we’ve taken the BFI’s Gothic season to heart and planned a whole host of screenings and events around it. Peter Cushing’s centenary isn’t going unmarked, we’ve got screenings of Madhouse (in which he starred with our beloved patron saint Vincent Price), a new remastered version of The Mummy, and a screening of the classic Hammer House of Horror episode, Silent Scream. There will be a talk all about the man himself from Peter Hutchings, and we’ll also have a chance to debate who is the ultimate cult star of classic British horror, presided over by Judge Gaz.

Gavin Baddeley, who’s been appearing at Abertoir nearly as many times as the festival itself, will be giving another highly enjoyable talk in search of the original “Gothfather”. He’ll be taking us through a bat-infested rogues gallery of perverts, poets and priests, each a pioneer in exposing the world to all things dark and hideous, before identifying his candidate for history’s ultimate creature of the night. Anyone care to guess who ends up as Gavin’s candidate for Gothfather?

And it doesn’t end there… silent film pianist (and regular) Paul Shallcross will be back to play for the very first time four newly commissioned scores for classic short horror films from the dawn of the 20th century, including the very first ever Frankenstein, from 1910. In the theatre we’re presenting a fabulous production of The Ghost Hunter, in which a ghost tour guide recants the stories of his profession; and with it some frightening truths. More details of all these gothic-themed events are now up on our main site at www.abertoir.co.uk/bfigothic.

And to round off this exciting look at this year’s Abertoir, we are honoured that legendary film music composer Fabio Frizzi will be our second guest of honour this year. He will be taking part in an in-depth interview and Q&A session after our screening of the much loved classic Zombie Flesh Eaters on Saturday 9th November. Then immediately after that, we’ll be putting on live music with White Blacula (which includes members of Zombina and the Skeletones) and a funky, psychedelic Frizzi-inspired DJ set by Bronnt Industries Kapital to take us into the night.

We are also delighted to announce our fabulous short films competition, which will be taking place over two sessions on Sat 9th and Sun 10th November. Full details of the selection can be found on our website at www.abertoir.co.uk/shorts.

We will be featuring plenty of Q&As with these films (The Machine, Soulmate, Chimeres) and there will be plenty more to follow with some of the very exciting titles we haven’t told you about yet! And that’s not all we’ve got in store, this is ONLY A TEASER! We’ll be announcing our full schedule soon, but in the meantime passes are only £58 for the whole six days and are selling fast, so call the Aberystwyth Arts Centre box office on 01970 623232 to snap one up before they’re all gone! See you on November 5th!

2013 Guests of Honour Announced

Opening the festival this year will be a very special celebration of the 50th anniversary of one of the finest horror films ever made: Robert Wise’s The Haunting. To make this celebration even more special we’re very excited to announce that we will be joined by star Richard Johnson, who plays Dr. John Markway. The veteran actor will be taking part in a special Q&A after the screening.

Johnson provides something of an originally unintentional link to one of the films we’ll be showing in honour of our second special guest. On Saturday night we’ll be screening the well-loved Zombie Flesh Eaters, before hosting an in-depth interview and discussion with maestro Fabio Frizzi. Long-time collaborator of Lucio Fulci and composer of over 70 film soundtracks, we’re very proud to be welcoming Fabio to the festival. This leads us up to our regular live music event, in which members of Zombina and the Skeletones join us back in Aber with their latest project: White Blacula! Following the band will be a special DJ set by Bronnt Industries Kapital, who’ll be spinning a Frizzi-heavy DJ set of Italian psychotronic soundtracks drawn from a world of warlocks, zombie conquistadors and face-eating tarantulas.

All that barely scratches the surface, so stay tuned for further schedule announcements.

Abertoir & BFI Gothic

We’re dead pleased at Abertoir to announce a partnership with the BFI Gothic Season. A celebration of the dark heart of cinema, those of you familiar with the festival will be well aware of our love for the lush history of horror and the delights it offers. There’ll be a full announcement soon, but we really wanted to tease some of the highlights of this year’s festival!

First and foremost, as we’ve mentioned previously, we’ll be paying tribute to the one and only Peter Cushing in his centenary year – among the films shown we’ve got a restored version of a Hammer classic, a special talk on Cushing’s career, and a memorable episode of a certain well-loved TV series.

We’ll also be welcoming Theatre of the Damned to Abertoir bringing ‘The Ghost Hunter’ to our stage, a fabulous one-man show about a ghost tour guide whose stories are about to catch up with him. Not only that, but we’ve been busy over the year quietly curating our very own exhibition of original movie posters and lobby cards from the golden age of British horror, which gets its first showing here at the festival!

And then, not least of all, we have a very, very special opening film: an anniversary screening of one of the finest horror films ever and we’ll have a very special guest to introduce it. We’re not letting on just yet, but we promise it’s going to be a real treat.

We hope we’ve whet your appetites a bit more. Check out http://www.bfi.org.uk/gothic for details on the BFI’s mammoth 4-month season of films and events celebrating some of the best traditions in horror. We’ll be adding much, much more to the mix, and we’re super proud to be joining in!