SHOCK THERAPY: If you enjoy the sights and sounds of blood, gore, toe-curling screams, then this is the film festival for you.
TALLINN - Boo! Did that scare you? If so, then it would be advisable that you didn’t visit the Haapsalu Horror Film Festival which takes place from April 29 – May 1. The only genre festival in Estonia and one of the premier events of its kind in the Baltics, the festival promises movies awash with blood, filled with terror and bursting with shocks. Those of a nervous disposition definitely need not apply.
The festival opens with “Amphibious,” directed by Brian Yuzna whose ’80s films such as “Re-Animator” and “Society” embedded themselves on the consciousness of bloodthirsty audiences everywhere. The film centers on a giant amphibious sea scorpion and… look, do you really need any more plot than that? If the words ‘giant amphibious sea scorpion’ aren’t going to make you see the film, then nothing will. It is needless to say that the film is enormously silly, whilst being enormously silly at the same time, and should kick off proceedings with a bang. Or a squelch.
Next up is “Hobo with A Shotgun,” which is all about a hobo. With a shotgun. Horror films often stick to the rule of ‘truth in advertising.’ The movie stars Rutger Hauer – something of a god in the genre, film stakes thanks to his appearances in such classics as “The Hitcher” and “Blade Runner” – as a drifter who comes across a small town and discovers that it’s awash with crime and depravity thanks to its corrupt leader. With the help of the decent townsfolk, the titular hobo grabs a weapon and dispenses violent and bloody justice. Based on one of the fake trailers in Quentin Tarantino’s “Grindhouse,” the film is completely unrelenting and should provide enough wanton destruction to keep most people happy. Also unrelenting is “Hatchet 2,” starring more horror icons in the shape of Tony ‘Candyman’ Todd and Kane ‘Jason Voorhees’ Hodder. A slasher film in which body parts are removed with almost reckless abandon, this is grim but compelling viewing.
For a more thoughtful, yet still intense affair “Red, White and Blue” from British director Simon Rumley should keep you enthralled. It’s an often brutal drama of revenge and deceit as a young girl discovers that people in a small American town can often hold dark secrets behind their friendly exterior. Also different from the traditional type of horror fare is “Beyond the Black Rainbow” which will receive its European premiere at the festival. The film follows a young woman imprisoned in an experimental laboratory and a scientist who has captured her for a mysterious reason. Utilizing very little dialogue, the film attempts to go beyond traditional styles of storytelling and director Panos Cosmatos’ style has been compared to that of Stanley Kubrick and legendary Russian director Andrei Tarkovksy. Also receiving its European premiere is “The Catechism Cataclysm,” an absurdist road-movie that captured the audience’s imagination at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.
Don’t worry, after the breather of these more sedate films, the blood will fly once again with the likes of “The Troll Hunter” (about someone who hunts trolls – more truth in advertising for you there), the moody and stylish “House of The Devil” and “Stake Land,” a new take on the Vampire genre which should be a welcome relief for those who have got sick of the teenage angst in the Twilight franchise of movies.
Horror film festivals always attract unique crowds who will shout at the screen, cheer during a particularly nasty killing (with bonus points for any body parts that fly towards the screen) and generally react with more enthusiasm than your usual cinema going audience. For the uninitiated it can be something of a surprise. But if you’re a fan of gory cinema, then travel to Haapsalu and soon you’ll find yourself shouting at the screen with your fellow horror fans and finding out that being scared has never been so much fun.
For more on the Haapsalu Horror Film Festival, including venue, program details and ticket prices go to www.hoff.ee