In recent years there has been a growing concern amongst sections of the horror community, the somewhat emotively discussed issue of the corporate horror. On one side of things there is the understanding that as a genre horror hasn't been as active in mainstream cinema for quite some time. For many years in the UK, in fact since the extreme media attacks on the genre of the 1980s, horror had been perceived as solely the domain of gangly gore nerds and ageing fanatics but as noted in recent years when the corporate machine deemed horror as a financially alluring genre once again (albeit by way of soulless multiplex horror remakes) its profile is welcomingly to the fore. But at what price?
For some years now the genre has been kept alive by an underground movement of independent filmmakers showcasing their talents to eager crowds of horror fans at sold out indie horror film festivals ran by fans as passionate about the genre as the folk that make the films or lay down their money for a weekend of frights, case in point here being the legendary horror festival DEAD BY DAWN.
Now having reached 15 years since its launch entertaining the horror masses at the Filmhouse Cinema in the heart of Edinburgh, DEAD BY DAWN and its director Adele Hartley have through a shared passion for the genre reached that Zen like utopia of being able to hang the 'passes sold out' sign over the doors long before any films screening have been announced. In the main this has always been thanks to a die hard dedicated community of horror fans who know that each year the festival will over the course of four long days and nights take them on a roller coaster ride of gut wrenching terror and wild eyed amusement but this year there was also the shadow of the corporate beast looming leading to the programme being held resolutely under wraps until the last possible moment (but more on that later).
Kicking off on Thursday night, we wallow in the true spirit of independent filmmaking as Black Camel Picture's debut production OUTPOST had its European premiere as festival opener. A very welcome return to form for the Nazi zombie genre, OUTPOST avoids the potentially easy route out of lunging zombie attack gore and goes for a more mentally stimulating atmospheric scenario as a team of ex-forces mercenaries are hired to head into the Eastern European wilderness on an alleged mineral survey but on reaching their destination they soon realise that their mercenary skills were in fact needed for something far more sinister and terrifying than some renegade armed locals wanting to protect an alleged mineral source. The real goal of the expedition leader was in fact to find an abandoned World War 2 Nazi bunker, the base of some less than salubrious experiments into creating a zombie army but as the mercenary team soon discover finding the truth is the least of their problems. As an opening movie for such a long established independent horror festival such as this is, OUTPOST was a very apt and welcome choice. As well as being one of the most enthralling ways to revive the Nazi zombie genre in some time (Oasis of the Zombies was never this good) the background of the film itself is almost as fascinating. Producers Arable Croft and Kieran Parker took a massive gamble with the films production by remortgaging their home and investing £200,000 of their personal funds (quite virtually the shirts off their backs) into getting this clearly niche film completed. Thankfully their faith in the talents of writer Rae Brunton, director Steve Barker (who was on hand for this very special screening) and a stunning performance by a small ensemble cast shined through enough to ensure that this indie Scottish production garnered enough interest to both breach its way later onto a week long run of cinema screens and a well deserved profile DVD release.
The horror fun gets into full flow on Friday at noon as the festival kick starts its big screen outing of the legendary Dario Argento's Three Mothers trilogy with the sumptuous wonder that is SUSPIRIA. Jessica Harper (in her finest role) stars as Suzi Banyon in this absurdly fantastic girls own adventure of witchcraft, visual and aural extremity and bloody gore in which even in this slightly truncated X rated form is still mandatory viewing on the big screen for any horror fan worth their salt. Of course films such as this are massively familiar to genre fans thanks to the home video/DVD market but no matter how many times seen at home the experience there could never be matched by that of sharing that thundering experience with others on the big screen. This was doubly so the case with all attending the next screening of Argento's follow up INFERNO; moving the gothic proceedings to New York (the next Mothers residence) the film benefits of the productions influence by the Italian maestro Mario Bava and a brashly welcome prog rock score. Best of all though for the festival attendees was the fact the print itself looked like it had just came straight from post production mastering, pristine throughout - a truly glorious experience for any Argento fan. But what of the hotly anticipated screening of the third part of the Three Mother trilogy? Well fans would have to wait another day or two longer to see it play on the big screen, inevitably a cleverly calculated decision for all (both filmmaker and fans I'm sure!)
Late Friday afternoon and folk are just about ready to settle down with the first round of the WHAT YOU MAKE IT short film screenings. One of the key elements of a festival such as this has been the ability and pride it takes in supporting incoming filmmaking talent. Through both short film threads of WHAT YOU MAKE IT (a collection of more off kilter diverse films) and the massively popular CUTTING EDGE (the annual shorts competition that allows the fans themselves attending select their favourite from a short listed selection of the finest indie horror around) DEAD BY DAWN is clear in its agenda of giving some deserved profile to the independent filmmaking scene and genre fans attending the event embrace this with some passion. Highlights from the WHAT YOU MAKE IT screenings this year were as diverse as ever ranging from the jaw droppingly absurd (Karl Tebbe's Karaoke Show) to the tastelessly hilarious (Manolo Vazquez's Colgados) right through to cinematic genius (James Cotter's The End Is Night) and it was that celebration of independent talent that continued as first-time co-directors Greg Swinson and Ryan Thiessen took to the stage to introduce their debut feature FIVE ACROSS THE EYES.
Spending most of its running time in the confines of the interior of a car, FIVE ACROSS THE EYES is even on that premise alone a very daring scenario for any feature let alone a debut one with minimal budget (but interestingly also the set piece for one the festivals highlights later that weekend) and in turn one that could potentially lose the interest or test the patience of an audience. Thankfully here though this was not to be the case. Opening very much by ticking all the boxes of the clichéd classic horror the film sees five teenage girls en route home from a high school football game take a hopeful shortcut detour only to find themselves being pursued by an irate SUV driver (after dunting their car and foolishly not trying to make contact nor apologise for their mistake) who looks to be taking road rage to a whole new level of violent terror. The remainder of the films running time is pretty much spent within the confines of the cars as the gaggle of gurning girls scream their way across the darkened countryside roads with the growing tensions building to a frenzy of brutal violence as the last reel unrolls. What was fascinating to note with FIVE ACROSS THE EYES after its screening was that a no budget independent feature could stimulate so much diverse discussion from its viewers as all in attendance debated across the board their feelings towards the film. A great feat for two debut filmmakers and one that residued long afterwards as a queue of appreciative newly acquired fans attested as they waited to chat with the filmmakers and get stuff signed after the films screening in the Filmhouse bar. And it was in that very same bar that admittedly I found myself ensconced for the remainder of the evening as it was Friday evening and for any good Scotsman that means time for a few well-earned beers. Also, anyone that knows me knows that I have a strong aversion to Japanese horror these days so the idea of catching the late night screening of Shusuke Kaneko's Death Note left me cold (and there was a little matter of some bar room arm wrestling to be had with long time festival pal and filmmaker Frazer Lee to be had…and for the record I won, the video footage is out there somewhere too!)
Early Saturday afternoon and as stated whilst admittedly I'm no fan of these days of the whole J-Horror scene there is the odd exception as evident as I take my seat for Sion Sono's SUICIDE CLUB (Jisatsu saakuru). Having in fact already watched the film when released on DVD several years past I was aware that festival director Adele had spent many of those years avidly pursuing access to a print to screen to attendees, this year her hard work had came to fruition. If I'm to be honest my interest in attending this screening was in fact to see at long last on the big screen the films outrageous opening sequence where 50 or so Japanese schoolgirls line up holding hands at the edge of an underground train platform only to leap onto the path of the approaching train in unison leading to one of the wildest (and bloodiest) opening scenes in film history. The film then follows the completely bewildered police department as they try to comprehend the reason for the continually growing number of young people committing suicide (shown in many darkly delicious set pieces throughout) and whilst I initially had planned to slip out of the screening following the opening sequence the film yet again had me hooked to my seat for the remainder of its duration. If you think the initial premise sounds crazy then hang onto your hats as once the film reaches the final reel you'll either be simply astounded or delightfully confused as the film repeatedly takes extreme curve balls covering everything from chilling child pop culture exploitation to hyper violent glam rock musical in a feature that would do Takashi Miike proud.
So after that giddy head fuck of a start to Saturday's proceedings it's time for one of the highlights of each years festival, the hotly anticipated CUTTING EDGE horror shorts competition. After months of long hours viewing literally hundreds of short horror films fest director Adele somehow (and no doubt with much heart searching pain) manages to narrow the list down to ten of the absolute finest submissions for screening to the gathered attendees who take great care in their selection for the much coveted audience favourite awards. This year the standard was as exemplary as ever and reflected welcomingly a hopeful bright future for upcoming genre filmmakers.
Mark Steensland's PEEKERS is a hilariously unnerving piece regarding one old mans concern that there's something not quite right about his wife at home and trying to convince his youthful neighbour proves problematic with chilling results. Padraig Reynold's THE ELECTION sees Ray Wise (of Reaper/Twin Peaks fame) as a presidential candidate with a murderous childcare issue to take care of. Jesse Grce's ONE MORE TIME is an entertainingly insular piece that sees hapless Ethan once again find himself trapped in a bloody shack with only five minutes to try save his chained fiancé from certain doom. Sole British finalist Sebastian Godwin's THE GIRLS stars Duncan Duff (of Hamish Macbeth/River City fame) as a luckless father whose two young girls take their mischievous playfulness too far in a short that will have most viewing wanting to throttle the life out of said upstarts. Geir Hansteen Jörgensen's METAMORPHOSIS is a dreamlike chiller that will unnerve any young couple in love with its startling spin on sublime doting love. But this year there were two very clear stand out short films that stood head and shoulders above the rest of the competition in the form of Richard Gale's CRITICIZED and Liz Adam's SIDE EFFECT.
CRITICIZED is a highly entertaining and perfectly formed short shocker that follows disgruntled indie filmmaker Arthur Lements (played unsettlingly convincingly by the very talented Brian Rohan) as he seeks violent retribution on film critic (nee hack) Darian Stonehall for his outrageously scathing review of his debut indie feature Ultimate Terror. After abducting and torturing Stonehall, which includes a wince inducing scene involving a paper clip that had an entire festival audience here squirming and gasping in delight, the critic vows to amend his ways by revisiting Lement's work in a more positive frame of mind…but can any critic truly appease the delusions of any individuals life work or passion? CRITICIZED is a truly impressive cinematic calling card for a fledgling filmmaker and on its merits alone flags writer/director Richard Gale as a talent to keep a close eye on. Already it seems that Gale is in pre-production on expanding CRITICIZED into a full length feature and whilst it works perfectly as a short film it will be interesting to see if Gale can develop this into a equally gratifying feature.
SIDE EFFECT, the directorial debut of Liz Adams, takes the classic all American horror set piece to an all new level of brutal and truly shocking terror as teen babysitter Lauren tries to juggle watching her two child wards whilst getting some much needed school study done so to combat the exhaustion drops a few pills to keep her on her toes. The combination of all doesn't help though when things go swiftly awry in the household between power cuts and phone pestering from her teen boyfriend which leads to the viewer expecting things to pan out into the old school cliché of teen babysitter in peril but what in fact unfolds is perhaps one of the most shocking finales ever to unfold onscreen in any genre movie for years (as evident from the tangible gasps of shock from those sitting around me at the screening during the films final moments making this a must see movie at any festival screening). What for me though made SIDE EFFECT doubly exciting was I soon discovered in discussion with director Adams (a very talented and savvy filmmaker it has to be said) that the short is in fact the opening 15 minutes of a planned full-length feature. And of course whilst SIDE EFFECT works beautifully as a stand alone short film the anticipation of it expanding into a full length shocker is one that we can only hope will become a reality sooner rather than later. On the power of this debut alone Liz Adams has a very exciting future ahead and one that all should follow and support closely.
My passion for both shorts were clearly supported by all attending throughout the weekend as both CRITICIZED and SIDE EFFECT along with PEEKERS took the lions share of the audiences votes and once again Dead By Dawn's support for independent horror shined through some potential future genre filmmaking heroes.
Having long been rightly adored by the horror community pretty much any cinematic adaptation of Stephen King's work is welcomed with open arms so when a hall full of genre fans are faced with a big screen outing of the popular novella THE MIST by Frank Darabont (of Green Mile/Shawshank Redemption fame) there's understandably going to be some excitable anticipation. Like many King novellas THE MIST is simple in its scenario; here following a quite destructive storm a strange mist starts to envelope a small town near an army base and we follow the emotive roller coaster of a very mixed bunch of residents as they hole up in a supermarket away from the seeming danger that awaits them out in said mist. Whilst it would perhaps be easy to dismiss THE MIST as no more than a variation of that old oddball (but cheesily entertaining) King opus Maximum Overdrive (but here swapping killer trucks for cosmic monsters) that would do Darabont's movie a disservice as THE MIST manages to play off the horror stereotypes it contains with some genuinely exciting tension, the odd moment of bloody thrills and best of all one of the finest finales in any mainstream horror film for a long time (whilst the film has a very 1980's ambience be assured that this ending wouldn't have made it past test screenings back in those executive appeasing days) making for a very gratifying Saturday night big screen genre experience.
And so into the all night affray we go as the Dead By Dawn die hards get psyched for another sleepless marathon of non stop horror viewing right through into the early hours of Sunday morning. The general ambience is set with opening short SPIDER which in its own short but sweet way violently explains just why blokes should never play tricks on their loved ones, especially when cars are involved. Nicely warmed up after this tastelessly entertaining short film the crowd settle back for the screening of Matthew Hope's THE VANGUARD. Set in the near (borderline apocalyptic) future, THE VANGUARD follows bearded loner anti-hero Max (played in good form by Ray Bullock Jr, indeed a future Brit talent to watch out for) as he simply tries to survive in a world with little or no sustainable resources left populated by half breed murderous mutant zombie types known as Biosyns whilst being hunted by genetically enhanced super soldiers. Whilst having little budget to speak of, THE VANGUARD is another solid example of what can be achieved with pure ambition by a small group of indie film fans who choose to disregard any financial restriction in bringing their vision to the big screen. Of course that vision for some may not be entirely easy to digest, well the plot is more akin to appease the more open minded 2000AD comix fan than the dire hard horror fanatic but in consideration that it was to screen the same weekend as Neil Marshall's futuristic fantasy opus DOOMSDAY the scheduling is perhaps understandable. Budget restrictions aside though, THE VANGUARD has some great moments of genre excess and director Matthew Hope clearly has a keen eye for great visuals which will no doubt come to the fruition when more solid finances come his way.
Noboru Iguchi's Machine Girl and Phillip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers helped entertain horror-loving insomniacs through the silly hours of the night but I admittedly used those precious four hours to grab some sleep ahead of the early Sunday morning breakfast screenings. Long curiously been the ever popular timeslot for exciting and extreme genre cinema this years breakfast screening was no disappointment with local filmmaker Simon Hynd's feature SENSELESS. American businessman Eliot Gast (a strong performance by Jason Behr of Roswell fame) is kidnapped by what he believes to be an extreme terrorist group who over time he discovers are torturing him for the online viewing publics pleasure in some sort of depraved uber nasty Big Brother scenario. Will Gast survive and make good his escape or will he die to sate the needs of an uncaring viewing society? Whatever the results you can be assured that director Hynd does a sterling job pulling you along on this very tense and enthralling misadventure. Shot locally on a miniscule budget with a small ensemble cast (of whom leads Joe Ferrara and Emma Catherwood should be given special mention for their outstanding performances), SENSELESS is perhaps the last word cinematically on the whole Big Brother genre as whilst the film is memorably entertaining this must by know be a subject area that we can now draw a welcome overdue close on (much like the television programme itself). Once again though director Hynd is someone we all should keep an eye out for.
Longstanding Dead By Dawn regulars will be familiar with the work of Jeremy Kasten from his debut directorial feature Attic Expeditions which screened at the festival many years back so it was with some bated interest that folk settled down to check out his latest feature, a remake of sorts of the Herschell Gordon Lewis (another Dead By Dawn alumni) classic WIZARD OF GORE. Lowlife underground reporter Edmund Bigelow (played in the style of vintage Christian Slater by Kip Pardue) is obsessed by the work of vaudeville magician Montag the Magnificent (another show stealing performance by the legend that is Crispin Glover) and soon realises you don't need to be a rocket scientist to put two and two together when Montag's magic volunteers start showing up dead (mutilated in the same manner of his graphic tricks!) While H G Lewis's original 1970 shlocker was something of a Grindhouse classic Kasten's remake is another beast altogether. Thankfully Kasten has avoided any possibility of this being another unwelcome victim of the corporate horror machine (by remaking a genre classic as soulless multiplex fodder) by producing a hallucogenic gory noir shocker that's as close to the old Grand Guignol concepts of its inspiration as one could expect. And its in its respectable stance of not succumbing to mainstream sensibilities that will inevitably lead to a divide in its audience with only the more open minded hardcore horror fan being more openly appreciative of the films merits when it inevitably finds its home on DVD (as this will never sadly garner support for any form of mainstream screening!)
And so following some early afternoon Sunday lunch it's back into the Filmhouse for the last day of genre fun and proceedings commence with mixed emotions for all attending the final screening of the weekend's Argento Three Mothers trilogy with the truly bewildering MOTHER OF TEARS. No need here to elaborate on just how much of a car crash Argento's latest opus is (well click here for my earlier extended review for those interested) but needless to say a packed screening of horror fans sat slack jawed in sheer disbelief as the continued absurdity unfolded onscreen (cloaks of invisibility, ghostly mothers, cack handed goth hagadons, ham fisted acting et al). A somewhat awkward and in truth perhaps unwelcome conclusion to a much loved trilogy as very much evident by its programming two days aside from the first two movies (Suspiria and Inferno) as screening all three together back to back on the big screen would have inevitably shown MOTHER OF TEARS for what (truly little) it is in fact worth. Another sad death knell in the career of a once great horror master.
Thankfully early Sunday evening (and by way of restoring some faith in the genre) we are treated to a screening of Don Coscarelli's PHANTASM and ahead of the screening (by way of a show of hands) it's evident that many attending had never seen his opus so with those fresh eyes in mind a sumptuous uncut print rolled onto the screen. Made back in the late 1970's, 'Phantasm' was a refreshingly original addition to the growing resurgence in the indie horror genre scene in the USA. A chilling modern gothic classic, 'Phantasm' follows insecure teen Mike as he struggles to come to terms with the growing loss of family and friends whilst slowly uncovering some mysterious goings on at the local cemetery; why are bodies going missing from their graves, what is the secret of the creepy 'tall man' who is in charge of the graveside misdoings and what the hell are those strange flying steel balls of doom? As most interfering teenagers do, Mike starts to investigate the chilling misdemeanours at the cemetery and with the assistance of his brother Jody and family friend (erstwhile guitar jamming ice-cream vendor) Reggie they uncover something more terrifying than any of them could ever have imagined!
'Phantasm' has always been for me one of the most exciting genre movies of the period. It was one of those rare occasions where an indie horror movie defied to be something different; forget teens in peril, no rape revenge or chainsaws are needed here - 'Phantasm' is simply an atmospheric horror fantasy with a refreshingly original script that belies its low budget origins with high quality production delivery throughout (and a touch of bloody grue to keep splatter fans happy). The ensemble cast offer great performances, perhaps due to mosts familiarity from working together as part of the Coscarelli family team and Angus Scrimm in the lead ghoul Tall Man role brings another worthy entry into the horror hall of fame. Don Coscarelli himself in this production alone shows what an all round talent he could be with the aforementioned highly original scripting as well as a show of great skill behind the camera as director. Rounding off the films stunning delivery is Fred Myrow's haunting score which has a dizzying theme that sounds a bit like Fabio Frizzi reinterpreting the Tubular Bells theme from the Exorcist; absolutely beautiful. Sentiments reflected by all attending the screening in excited discussion afterwards.
The penultimate movie of the weekend was also without doubt the highlight of the festival as Stuart Gordon once again championed the merit of truly entertaining independent genre cinema with his latest opus STUCK. Astonishingly based on a true story, STUCK follows the downwardly spiralling misfortune of no hoper Tom (played to perfection by the great Stephen Rea) who after losing his job and his home ends up being hit by a car driven by young nurse Brandi (Mena Suvari in one of her finest ever roles) but rather than uphold her caring competences with her hapless victim Brandi panics and drives hurriedly home with Tom embedded in the glass of her windscreen! With the car stashed away in her garage (and poor Tom hanging onto life) Brandi scared to face her problems heads off to work but soon realises that she'll need to deal with things so brings onboard her wannabe gangster boyfriend. Luckless Tom meantime slowly tries to escape from his automotive tomb. STUCK is another example of just how exciting and diverse a talent Stuart Gordon is when it comes to refreshingly original filmmaking, for what in the main is a pretty insular piece STUCK very quickly grabs the viewer by the throat and tears you along for a truly nerve shredding ride of anticipation as to what's going to unfold onscreen right up to the moment the end titles roll. Backed by stunning performances by both Rea and Suvari, Stuart Gordon has produced his finest work to date here. Whilst not outright fantasy horror as seen in earlier productions such as Reanimator or From Beyond, STUCK takes the absurdity of some real life horror and turns it into a rollicking cinematic experience (it's also an interesting aside to note that STUCK's opening titles declare this as an Amicus production, let's hope the first of many equally gratifying ventures for fans of the old genre production house!)
What's perhaps frustrating though for a quality production such as STUCK is that in its refreshing originality it will likely never see the opportunity of the widespread theatrical distribution that it truly deserves. Quite plainly, films such as STUCK are too challenging for the corporate beast that is todays industry to ever have the opportunity of the wider audience it deserves, for them too much of a box office risk (let alone god forbid mainstream consumers be allowed access to any form of truly stimulating cinema). That right is reserved for the mindless multiplex fodder that the industry think will turn over an assured box office profit and it is with that in mind we move to the festivals closing feature.
Neil Marshall is without doubt one of Britain's truly great genre filmmaking talents, from his work on previous features Dog Soldiers (the finest werewolf movie since American Werewolf in London) and The Descent (another edge of the seat horror romp) in my eyes he could do no wrong so in anticipation of his latest opus DOOMSDAY, a futuristic post-apocalyptic epic set in Scotland I admittedly went into fan boy overdrive (even as far as rewatching a host of vintage Italian post-apocalyptic treats such as Bronx Warriors and New Barbarians) but very soon into the films screening I was left not only wholly disappointed but horrifyingly appalled by what was unfolding onscreen.
Following the outbreak of a deadly 'reaper virus' across Scotland which lays waste to the population the Westminster government decide the best plan would be to literally rebuild Hadrian's Wall (this time with massive steel walls and military blockades) closing the border between Scotland and England leaving the population of Scotland to slowly and painfully die (making insulting reference to just how lowly the Scots are by 'even eating their pet dogs'). Life moves on nicely with Scotland festering out of sight until one day it looks like the virus is breaking out in London and after receiving satellite images of seemingly perfectly fit survivors walking around the streets of Glasgow the Prime Minister decides to send a crack team of troops (led by Rhone Mitra in her finest wooden performance yet) into Glasgow to try locate the possible cure. On arriving in Glasgow they find (for whatever reason I cannot fathom) that it's populated by stereotypical Mad Max punks with East Coast accents (when set in the West) in a scene that left me speechless as a line of overweight topless fat men in kilts danced in line to Bad Manner's version of the Can Can!?! Things go from bad to worse as the film goes into a schizophrenic overdrive moving from Mad Max tribute to period medieval romp with just a hint of Tomb Raider to ensure maximum confusion - the whole package moving along at breakneck pace filled with endless explosions and action to keep anyone viewing distracted enough to hopefully not notice the big budget diarrhoea that's exploding in front of them onscreen!
In honesty, there were several occasions I wanted to walk out this movie - the prime reason was that as an unashamedly proud Scotsman I found the film deeply offensive, as well as the reasons noted before the core concept of Scotland being sealed off and left to die with no interest until London notes concern is surely reflective of a derogatory, derisive and offensively unwelcome London mindset (and as such makes this film the finest campaigning tool the Scottish National Party could by default ever wish for!) That said, with Marshall bringing DOOMSDAY up to the capital of Scotland for the films UK premiere can only either mean that he has balls of steel bigger than the films outlandish budget or that I've in fact got my judgement of the movie horribly wrong and knowing that he's been a regular visitor and good friend of the festival for some time now I can only surmise that any anger or disappointment generated by viewing DOOMSDAY is in fact simply that on this occasion Marshall has dropped the ball.
What's interesting to note though that here is the perfect example of just how the corporate machine can get things so easily horribly wrong. As noted, Marshall is a very talented filmmaker and when working with a passion and hunger on productions like Dog Soldiers he's shined and who can blame the guy when the major studios come calling with the allure of a limitless budget to indulge your personal wildest cinematic fantasy. The corporate machine simply note interest in their financial return and keeping their talent appeased for future endeavours. DOOMSDAY by its nature was always guaranteed to get screen space in every multiplex across the UK and will have an exorbitant budget for it's inevitable high profile DVD release marketing campaign (with blazing bold quotes from the equally corporate critic decrying deceitfully the films alleged classic status). On the other hand we have the truly gratifying independent feature such as Stuart Gordon's STUCK likely never to see the light of projector bulb outside of the odd festival screening and after long wranglings a DVD release with a licensing deal that will barely make a dent into returning the films production costs. So whilst some may wish to celebrate the return of a high profile for genre cinema we have to ask in reality at what cost?
As the curtain came down on DEAD BY DAWN 2008 it left the hundreds of attending horror fans, a growingly diverse crowd too, rightly contented that in its highlighting of good quality independent genre cinema (Stuck, Outpost), upcoming future filmmaking stars (Five Across the Eyes, Senseless, Vanguard) and its continued support of small film shorts (Criticized, Side Effect et al) that the state of the independent horror scene is as strong as its ever been and in staying truly independent in its support of the genre here's hoping we'll see many more years of truly invigorating DEAD BY DAWN fun.
Special thanks to festival director Adele Hartley, the Dead By Dawn backroom crew and all the staff at the Filmhouse Cinema (and a big 'hello' to all SGM's friends who take time to hang out over the course of the festival!)