Jerome Pikwane’s astonishing debut feature, The Tokoloshe (AKA. Repression) opened the second day of the festival. A slow brewing fable mixed with dark realism, The Tokoloshe is one of 2018’s most interesting and culturally bound genre films. Having previously covered the film for the site back in August 2018, my full review can be read, here: https://lovehorror.co.uk/horror-reviews/the-tokoloshe-repression-2018-review/
As seen throughout the festival, Abertoir prides itself on anchoring films from all over the world, allowing festival attendees to experience the breadth of diversity the genre has to offer, broadening our horizons at the same time. This year, Abertoir featured films from Argentina, Brazil, Switzerland, Japan, Canada, Austria, South Africa, India, the UK and the USA. Fear is predominantly universal and how other cultures interpret fear based on their own teachings and values is utterly fascinating. We are honestly, unbelievably lucky to be able to gain the opportunity through Abertoir to view films with such variety, developing the way we seek out horror films in the future. The festival has something that will appeal to everyone throughout its diverse line-up, therefore if one film isn’t hitting the right note, there will be another screening along in a moment that might become a personal favourite of the festival or even the year!
Abertoir’s second day featured Gavin Baddeley’s annual presentation. This year’s talk was titled, ‘Do Serial Killers Really Exist?’. Baddeley always brings in his unique insight to his subject matter which ties in brilliantly with the festival’s overall theme. Starting at the beginning, Baddeley explores early ideas of serial killers from a biblical context, all the way through to the enigma of Jack the Ripper to fictionalized terror in the form of Sweeney Todd all the way through to prolific 20th Century cases such as Charles Manson. However, he interestingly points out that the aforementioned figures macabre murders may not be as high in body count as we’re led to believe, challenging the scaremongering that the media has spoon-fed us with. The discussion touched upon the influence of horror movies on real life murders and vice versa. The media are quick to blame violent films on real life crimes rather than looking into the circumstances surrounding the cases. The connection between travel and murder which is a prominent component in slasher movies was particularly fascinating as Baddeley expressed how anxieties and fears develop through vulnerability from being away from familiar surroundings. The threat and suspense in these movies are increased when seeing vulnerable young adults in unfamiliar territory with the awareness that things are not going to end well for them. As always, Baddeley’s talk brought in a thought-provoking and highly interesting dynamic to the festival’s theme which complimented Steve Jones’s talk later in the festival brilliantly.
Abertoir is legendary for its off-site screenings where usually the weather is up against us and screenings end up becoming modified from the original plan. During 2017’s giallo theme, events went off without a hitch and the lucky streak continued this time around as attendees were treated to a special off-site screening of the mighty, ‘Friday the 13th: Part III in 3D’ in an actual barn. Passholders were transported 9 miles away from its home at the Arts Centre to a local farm in the picturesque Ynyslas. Arriving at the venue, we were given Jason masks complete with old school style 3D glasses and were even treated to some superb theatrics where an “audience member” was brutally slain by the one and only Jason Voorhees! Following the screening, we then enjoyed some local cuisine from Backyard BBQ around a glorious campfire which marked Sean S. Cunningham’s subtle first appearance at the festival.
Events like these is what makes Abertoir standout. The sheer time and effort that goes into planning them is outstanding and never goes underappreciate; especially the amount of detail that goes into creating an authentic and immersive experience to the film screening such as Mrs Voorhees’s decomposing severed head on display at the barn’s entrance. This was the best Abertoir off-site screening to date and we are so fortunate to have these special, interactive horror movie experiences thanks to the dedicated festival organisers.
Following a short break, it was time for the notoriously difficult pub quiz, an eagerly anticipated Abertoir highlight. Each year our team seems to up our game, coming swiftly in at third place winning the prize of Abertoir’s official coffee, this year aptly titled, ‘Campfire Blend’. Brewed by local company, The Mecca Tea & Coffee LTD. the coffee was much appreciated serving as energy fuel to make it through back to back movie screenings and events throughout the week.
Closing off night two was yet another cult, campy slasher, Amy Holden Jones’s, Slumber Party Massacre (1982). Based on Feminist Author Rita Mae Brown’s screenplay, Slumber Party Massacre is a pure satirized send-up of the slasher genre, playing to the exploitative tropes the genre is undeniably synonymous with. There’s boobs and blood galore as a sleepover turns terrifying when it transpires there’s a driller killer (symbolic!) on the loose! While Sleepaway Camp is my personal favourite early 80’s slasher, this one sure is a fun one too by explicitly conforming to and subverting slasher movie conventions proving to be pure midnight movie gold!
Coming Up… Aquatic growing pains, the history of the slasher movie, the mighty short film competition and much, much more!