In Notorious November, the Abertoir Horror Festival is the event to be at in the sleepy Welsh coastal town of Aberystwyth. The twelfth edition of the long running festival celebrated a killer six days of giallo greatness, featuring pivotal figures of the sub-genre in the shape of Sergio Martino and Lamberto Bava in attendance.
However, giallo wasn’t the only blood shed on the menu as the festival presented a wide selection of brand new feature films from all over the world from Asia and America to home-grown horror with the UK premiere of Welsh, independent sci-fi/comedy Canaries. Abertoir 2017 also exhibited the fantastic short film competition, which displayed the rise in independent genre filmmaking and the abundance of current talent to watch out for.
As always Abertoir provided an eclectic programme of films and events while delivering plenty of favourite staples that the audience have come to expect, e.g. the increasingly challenging pub quiz, Nicko and Joe’s side-splittingly fun, Bad Film Club, and of course the off-site screening which went without a hitch this time around! For the first time, the festival also incorporated a virtual reality experience, which allowed pass holders to endure an intense account of horror first hand!
Abertoir is a horror festival that pulls out all the stops in how it recreates the themes it is paying homage to. This year, the foyer area was transformed into the interior of a police station, which expertly replicated the style we as audiences have been accustomed to with the gialli. The beating heart of the sub-genre was in place with classic cinematic posters on display as well as a selection of the bright yellow Italian crime novels in which the giallo adapted its name from.
The first night began with a bang as the audience were treated to two classic Sergio Martino films as well as an insightful Q&A with the man himself. The sleazy, twisted murder mystery, Your Vice is a Locked Room and only I have the Key (1972) opened the festival and set the tone for the ‘black cat’ theme that became prevalent throughout.
The title proves to be one of the most enticing giallo films with its upfront approach to sex and murder and uncomfortable incestuous overtones. The film also starred the divine Edwige Fenech, whose striking screen presence is a welcome addition to the giallo films of the 60’s and 70’s. Fenech gave a seductive performance as the callous niece of the depraved writer and alcoholic played by Luigi Pistilli. The film is a real delight especially at the nail-biting climax, which sees the ferocious feline, Satan exact his revenge.
The second Martino film to make its vivid onslaught on the big screen was, All the Colours of the Dark (1972). Fenech takes centre stage as a troubled young woman who experiences disturbing nightmares following the murder of her mother and loss of her baby. Her character becomes embroiled in a bizarre cult, which marks the beginning of a terrifying ordeal for the young woman.
The 1972 psychedelic giallo is a trippy viewing experience that feels somewhat jarring to watch. The plot and general tone seems fragmented providing an unrelenting effect. Certainly, an interesting addition to Martino’s filmography in which he goes head first for an experimental styling, All the Colours of the Dark is a thought-provoking entry leaving the viewer reeling with mixed emotions.
The first night of the festival was without a doubt a J&B drenched affair but it was only the beginning of what was to come. Abertoir 2017 started on a high and as expected continued to deliver a variety of horror celebrations as the days went on.
Watch out for Part 2 soon!