THE public’s fascination with the bizarre and demented is long and twisted. Whether we stand and watch the aftermath of an accident or we follow with morbid fascination as real horror is played out in the news, the response to frightening events around us keeps us riveted; afraid to watch, and afraid to look away. The horror film is both the product and exploration of this relationship, and it is their capacity for fantasy release that seems to be a big part of the appeal. The taboo subjects of murder, bloodshed and mayhem are all conceivable to us, but the self-inflicted exposure to horror becomes a means of collective catharsis where we can go to those strange dark places accompanied by a build up and release of fear, as we watch safely from our seats.
The Cinemuerte Horror Film Festival rises from the dead next week to stalk the streets of Vancouver, and the reasons to go are many. Returning home from Austin Texas, Film Festival organiser and programmer Kier-La Janisse has put together another great festival line up, with films from Australia, Japan, Korea, Spain and the U.S. If you are uninitiated with the festival, this is your chance to see horror films that you can’t find anywhere else, and in some cases may never be able to see again. If you have a ghoulish bone in your body and you’ve got the guts, the 6th annual Cinemuerte festival is the place to be.
From the U.S. comes Jim Van Bebber’s authoritative version of the events surrounding the Charles Manson killings. Re-titled The Manson Family, Bebber’s film has been over 16 years in the making and promises to be an unflinching and chillingly accurate depiction of the infamous cult family. Both Director Jim Van Bebber and cinematographer Mike King will be there in person.
Making his feature film debut is Christian Moline, from Spain, who with his film Rojo Sangre has blended the real with the fantastic. Starring veteran Spanish horror film star Paul Nachy, this film is strangely autobiographical as it sets up the story of a desperate aging film star who goes to murderous lengths to kill off the competition. Beautifully shot, this film operates as both horror and social criticism, where the fear lies in the fury of the forgotten and in those an insidious industry has left for dead.
Other highlights include Jeff Lieberman’s return to the horror genre, Satan’s Little Helper which was the result of a Cinemuerte meeting between Lieberman and one of the sponsors a couple of years ago, and the not to be missed opening gala film of Korean director Lee Soo-Yeon’s ghostly tale The Uninvited. If all this is not enough, this years’ festival is also hosting Bloodshot–the 48 hour Horror Film Challenge (Oct 22-24), where filmmakers have 48 hours to write, shoot, and edit a 10-minute horror film. The completed films will be judged on Oct. 29 and winning films sent to Austin Texas, where they will be entered in the competition judged by Robert Rodriguez.
The Cinemuerte festival runs from Oct 27-31 at the Pacific Cinematheque www.cinemuerte.com