Everyone’s favourite cinematic thrill-ride is back for another four days of unsettling surprises and disturbing discoveries, as Dead by Dawn festival once again takes up residence in the Edinburgh Filmhouse. Now in its 26th outing, the programme features an eclectic mix of old favourites, UK premieres and short collections that is sure to have horror fans dying (sorry) for more. If that’s not enough to whet your whistle, guest of honour Jeff Lieberman will be on hand at several screenings to answer any questions his devoted cult fanbase might have.
Things kick off on Thursday with an official festival welcome, followed by an intro for Lieberman himself and a screening of Blue Sunshine, at which he is present to take questions. Then comes a programme of shorts entitled One Big Happy Family, which explores the darker side of not being able to choose your nearest and dearest. The opening day’s events are rounded off with a late screening of The Nightshifter, the debut feature from Brazilian director Dennison Ramalho which follows a morgue worker who interacts amiably enough with the corpses he handles – until he begins acting on their instructions.
Easing us into day two is another shorts programme entitled What You Make of It, which includes a handful of films that aren’t exactly horror, but they’re certainly bizarre and off-the-wall. Then it’s another UK premiere in the shape of Incredible Violence, which focuses on a hack filmmaker who’s spent all of his advance before even beginning to shoot his movie… until he comes up with a quick fix that’s all kinds of wrong. Then we pop our apocalypse hats on for a collection of shorts entitled It’s the End of the World, before this year’s guest of honour is back on hand for another Q and A following his highly influential classic Just Before Dawn. Friday’s entertainment is finished off with Heavy Trip, a Finnish film making its UK debut that concerns itself with a burgeoning black metal band.
The weekend begins with Natural Selection, a programme of short films focusing on how machines don’t always make our lives easier. Next up is the Scottish premiere of French film Tous les Dieux du Ciel, following a factory worker who lives alone on a remote farmer with his sister who was handicapped during a horrific accident in childhood. 2D & Deranged, a programme of short animations dealing with all kinds of themes follows, before the UK premiere of claustrophobic Danish flick Cutterhead. Then it’s time for another shorts programme focusing on food entitled Finger Licking Good, before a Jeff Lieberman double bill in the shape of Squirm and Satan’s Little Helper.
The final day gets off to a lonely start with Splendid Isolation, a collection of shorts dealing with remote settings and sparse company. Then it’s the turn of cerebral horror Luz from Germany, before the Red in Tooth and Claw shorts programme distorts the lines between predator and prey. You Might Be the Killer does what it says on the tin but dissects a whole host of horror tropes in the process, before the weekend’s guest of honour is back to round out the programme with a Q and A following the screening of his 1988 video-store-centred alien film, Remote Control.