@Filmhouse Edinburgh Thu 20 – Sun 23 April 2017

Now in its 24th year, horror festival Dead By Dawn returns to its home at Filmhouse Edinburgh with a four day bloodbath of new releases, including several UK premieres, old classics and cult favourites, and chilling short collections. Works by emerging directors like Sophia Takal and Mitchell Altieri rub shoulders with the venerable likes of Dario Argento and David Cronenberg.  Many of the screenings are followed by Q&A’s with the directors or producers.

The festival opens on Thursday evening with the late Andrew Getty’s The Evil Within.  The making of the film is as bizarre as anything onscreen, and is a firm statement of intent from the festival organisers that anything goes.  This is followed by Lamb to the Slaughter, four short films that can be seen roughly as an examination of literal growing pains.  Thursday concludes with a midnight screening of Dario Argento’s feverish Phenomena, coinciding with the release of a new 4K edition from Arrow Video.

Friday opens with short film collection What You Make It, featuring a young boy’s preoccupation with death, to the obsessive attention to detail of actor who specialises in playing corpses.  This is followed by Without Name from Lorcan Finnegan, a hallucinatory take on the haunted forest film.  This screening also features Finnegan’s short film Foxes.  More short films follow,  bannered under Sartre’s famous maxim, Hell is Other PeopleFeral children, sex cults and awkward dinner parties are all present and correct here.  The Night Watchmen is next up, a riotous horror comedy that riffs on the campy B-movies of yesteryear.  The evening is completed by two of David Cronenberg’s early 80’s classics, his underrated take on Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, and the famous head bursting Scanners.

Saturday lunchtime is graced by horror icons Vincent Price and Peter Cushing getting self-referential as Price plays a horror icon in Jim Clark’s Madhouse. Death is on the prowl in many guises in short film collection The End is Nigh.  In what could be a potential highlight, Sophia Takal’s Always Shine returns to the theme of acting as two young thespians take a road trip in what looks like a twisted Californian take on Bergman’s Persona.  Next up is some good, wholesome body horror in Now Wash Your Hands, four shorts making the frailty of the human body all too clear.  Really decent possession films are few and far between, but Daniel Falicki’s Accidental Exorcist is hopefully sufficiently gruesome and nihilistic to make an impression.  He’ll be there in person to take questions following the screening.  Saturday concludes with a Fred Dekker double bill.  Dekker-scripted cult favourite House is followed by his collaboration with Shane Black, The Monster SquadThis Goonies meets Universal monsters mash-up was a personal childhood favourite. Has time been kind to it?

The final day opens with more Price and Cushing; this time with added Christopher Lee in Gordon Hessler’s Scream and Scream Again2D & Deranged is a collection of animated short films, including two from legendary effects master Phil Tippett (Jurassic Park).  Another genre legend, Buffalo Bill himself, Ted Levine anchors Dig Two Graves, a modern American gothic drama from Hunter Adams.  Another collections of short films go animal crackers in It’s Over, RoverDry Blood is a story of addiction meshed with a classic cabin in the woods setting from Kelton Jones.  Dead By Dawn concludes with festival favourite The Void, a hospital-set nightmare in horrific Lovecraftian tradition.  Jeremy Gillespie and Steven Kostanski aim to channel prime John Carpenter with judicious use of practical effects. Expect buckets of melting latex to close the festival in perfect genre fashion.

Festival passes are available for £75, or tickets for individual screenings are available.

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