Kicking off tomorrow, October 25th, the 2012 edition of the Irish Film Institute’s Horrorthon festival in Dublin promises a prime line-up of the finest the genre has to offer, from the most acclaimed of indigenous creepers to major international releases and a whole host of horror classics back on the big screen. The perfect lead-in to Halloween, the five-day festival offers an all-encompassing view of horror cinema, comic hybrids as well represented as blood-soaked gorefests and genre-dissecting documentaries. I’ll be reporting daily over the course of the festival with my highlights and disappointments, for now here’s my rundown of the horrible wonders to come.
The festivities begin in appropriately creepy style with a screening of Brandon Cronenberg’s Antiviral, its trailers seeming to boast a razor-sharp satire of celebrity obsession. The young Cronenberg’s venture forth into the genre his father once dominated is an exciting prospect for any horror fan; hopefully the ability to terrify runs in the family. Right after that it’s straight into one of my most anticipated films of the year: Rodney Ascher’s Room 237, a documentary centred on the wild theories that have sprung up around Kubrick’s seminal horror masterpiece. A pristine choice to screen to a gathered crowd of horror nuts, its widespread acclaim only makes more enticing the idea of dissecting in great detail one of the genre’s most iconic works. The opening night concludes with the high-school set comedy Detention of the Dead, a light finale for a fine first taste of what the festival has to offer.
Things pick up the pace with seven screenings scheduled on Friday, sci-fi homage Manborg, revisionist vampire drama Midnight Son, and French action horror Calibre 9 taking up the day until the screening of international festival hit Citadel, which makes a triumphant return home with director Ciarán Foy in attendance for a Q&A afterward. The dilapidated suburban setting seems to indicate a certain economic commentary; with any luck this could be the horror film to top off what’s already been a particularly good year for Irish cinema. Silent Hill: Revelation follows, a film that should have no issues outdoing its predecessor, director Michael J. Bassett having already proven himself at least a confident hand with Solomon Kane. It’s an Italian double-bill to end the night, Argento’s Deep Red and Fulci’s Zombie set to end the night in fittingly bloody style.
A documentary to start Saturday: Eurocrime!, Mike Malloy’s investigation of an Italian cinematic movement of the 1970s. More nostalgia thereafter with acclaimed anthology V/H/S and Hammer classic Dracula: Prince of Darkness, bringing Christopher Lee’s immortal turn as the eponymous vampire back to the big screen for the centenary of his creator Bram Stoker. Once the sun goes down it’s ladies night, the following two films showcasing the efforts of female horror directors. Sisters Jen and Sylvia Soska start things off with their plastic surgery-based American Mary, before festival guest of honour Danielle Harris presents her directorial debut Among Friends. The allure of giallo throwback Tulpa outshines the merits of the oft-watched Young Frankenstein for this horror fan; I’m never one to pass on Gene Wilder lightly, let’s hope Federico Zampaglione’s homage doesn’t leave me regretful at the end of the night.
A bunch of horror fanatic kids use their knowledge to fight Dracula and co in The Monster Squad, popping by to celebrate its 25th anniversary on Sunday morning. It’s followed by the Danielle Harris-starring Shiver with introduction from the star, before the secret identity of the surprise film is at last revealed. One of the biggest attractions of the entire festival is among 2012’s most hyped horrors: Excision, the story of an aspiring surgeon whose nightmares begin to impact upon her life. It promises to be a standout highlight, leaving big footsteps in which the ominously apocalyptic After can only hope to follow as it closes out the penultimate night.
A showcase of 2012’s top horror shorts starts off the festival’s final day, the mix of Irish and international talent hopefully offering plenty in the way of bite-size scares. Special effects company KNB EFX are the subject of documentary Nightmare Factory, which takes a look at the creation of zombies and other assorted horror nasties. It could hardly be better followed-up, the notoriously brutal The Burning Moon coming next with its infamous splatters for the more gore-hungry among the audience. Rec co-director Jaume Balagueró handed the series reins to his other half for Genesis earlier this year; the screening of his Sleep Tight should reveal whether he made the right career move. The hectic mania of Horrorthon 2012 comes to a close on Monday night with Clive Barker’s Nightbreed, arriving in its long-awaited extended edition “The Cabal Cut”. It should make for a fine conclusion to a jam-packed long weekend, stay tuned over the coming days for my dispatches and rundowns of everything the festival has to offer.