The second day began with a screening of the classic 1960’s Hammer/Christopher Lee film Rasputin The Mad Monk. Abertoir has always been authentic in recreating the essence of what it would have been like to view these films upon their original release, the Skelton floating through the audience and the famous coward’s corner in 2010 during William Castle’s The House on the Haunted Hill being one example. Dr. Russ Hunter provided an introduction to the film while beards were handed out to audience members, recapturing the gimmick of the original screenings.
The first modern film of the day was Christian Hallman’s Swedish spook-fest Sensoria. Hallman provided a fantastic video introduction video for the festival where he got an audience of festival goers to shout out “Hello Abertoir” which was awesome, making it the most unique video intro sent to the festival this year. 2015 is the year of slow burning horror which is exactly what Sensoria was. Sensoria is a female-centric, character driven piece centring on a woman in her thirties named Caroline (played by Lanna Ohlsson) who after the breakdown of a relationship moves into a run-down block of flats. Sensoria takes a while to get going and builds up a muster of intrigue that doesn’t quite get where it needs to. It’s refreshing in the sense that its focus is on an older woman dealing with anxieties. She’s in a place she never imagined being at her age while her friends are settled having already started families. Sensoria eludes to those universal fears about life, mortality and grabbing last chances while you can. Its use of its ghostly metaphor is powerful, driving in some tense moments however it didn’t quite strike the chord it should have.
What’s brilliant about Abertoir is that offers a variety of events throughout the day so it’s not just about sitting through feature films one after the other. For many years author Gavin Baddeley’s talks have been a staple of the festival. Previous years have seen him delve into werewolf and vampire lore and explore the origins of Goth culture. 2015’s talk was titled “Those Evil English”, as informative as ever Gavin talked about villainy in the UK’s history and how its led to the classic trope of casting British actors as that stereotypical moustache twirling baddie in the movies. There’s always something new to learn from Gavin’s talks as he contextualises information as far back as the medieval times to illustrate his discussions. Gavin’s talks are always something to look forward to each Abertoir as we learn the backgrounds of the world’s most bloodiest and violent histories which has inevitably led to the construction of horror in the first place.
The final film I attended of Day two was the frightfully festive Tales of Halloween, the eagerly anticipated seasonal anthology from Soulmate director Axelle Carolyn. Tales of Halloween is one of the best modern anthology horror films from the past decade, it’s beautifully shot with plenty of traditional iconography to feast your eyes on. Each segment is unique in its own way and each of them are equally as strong, there’s no weak link in the ten short stories on offer courtesy of directors such as Neil Marshall and Lucky McKee. Check out more of my thoughts on Tales of Halloween in my review. https://mshayleyr1989.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/abertoir-horror-festival-2015-review-tales-of-halloween-2015/
Concluding Day Two was a live commentary by special guests Dario Russo and David Ashby the creators of Australian cult hit series Danger 5. Part action, part comedy, part exploitation, Danger 5 has a bit of everything and more and perfect for genre festival viewing. It’s as un-PC as you can get centring on a group of international spies sent on a mission to kill Adolf Hitler!! Russo and Ashby enhanced the experience with drinking games and lots of laughs during the commentary which screened the entire of series one.
Next Up: Day Three