It has been almost been a week since CELLULOID SCREAMS took over Sheffield’s Showroom cinema between 24th and 26th October. Run by Festival Director Robert Nevitt and his co-programmers Polly Allen and Sarah Williamson, this year saw its sixth and arguably the festival’s most successful year to date.
After attending the festival for a number of years now it’s great to see how well-respected Celluloid Screams has become amongst other festivals co-ordinators up and down the UK and for good reason. Rob clearly takes pride in his line-up and he always delivers a fully diversified programme that never fails to surprise the festival goers.
Speaking of this years programme, opening the festival was Aston-6’s love letter to the Italian Giallo THE EDITOR. The line-up this year also included Gerard Johnsone‘s HOUSEBOUND, Patrick Brice‘s CREEP, Stuart Simpson‘s CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA and the highly anticipated sequel ABCS OF DEATH 2. Closing the festival was Tommy Wirkola’s DEAD SNOW 2: RED VS DEAD.
I was there to experience most of the festivities but I had to bow out early of the SCI-FI SHOCKS allnighter thanks to a late night in the bar after the first night. But those crazy enough to stay for the remainder of the allnighter watched special presentations of BRIDE OF RE-ANIMATOR, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, NIGHT OF THE CREEPS and KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTTER SPACE.
During the weekend there was an appearance from filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Spring), Andy Stewart (INK), Fredrik S. Hana (Autumn Harvest), Robert Morgan (The ABCS of Death 2), Matt Palmer (The Gas Man) and Ben Steiner (The Stomach). Also appearing was ‘The Human Centipede 2‘ actor Laurence Harvey and legendary poster artist Graham Humphreys.
Rounding up the impressive list of festival guests were Adam Brooks, Matthew Kennedy and Conor Sweeney from the Canadian film collective Astron-6. They were joined by this years Guest of Honour who was none other than director/producer Brian Yuzna who was at the festival to host special screenings of SOCIETY, RE-ANIMATOR, and DAGON. Yuzna would also chair the panel of short film judges.
During the closing gala it was announce that Ben Steiner‘s THE STOMACH was awarded the gold VHS tape for best short of the festival but winning the audience favourite award was WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS from the team behind The Flight of the Conchords.
As for us it has been difficult to narrow down the films that we consider to be the best of the festival. So after taking time to think about the films and the shorts that played, we have put together this list of our favourite shorts and features from the Celluloid Screams 2014 line-up. Enjoy.
#5: TIMOTHY (Dir. Marc Martínez Jordán)
TIMOTHY is an incredibly creepy film about a a boy called Simon who has to deal with his bully of a babysitter. When settling down to sleep Simon receives an unexpected visitor in the form of his favourite tv show character which will turn into a night he will never forget. Beautifully shot, sinisterly twisted and highly polished, Director Marc Martínez Jordán does a grand job in creating a short with a final shot that still remains with us today.
#4: THE GAS MAN (Dir. Matt Palmer)
THE GAS MAN was shown very late on the first night of the festival and was fourteen minutes of pure terror. The short follows a woman who is working from home in her remote cottage. On this particular morning she receives a visit from a man who has come to read her gas meter. She lets him in and immediately feels a sense of dread which is followed by a sinister chain of events.As a short, The Gas Man is very bleak, effectively scary and wonderfully directed by Palmer who had me on the edge of my seat right from the get-go.
#3: INK (Dir. Andy Stewart)
Toronto might have David Cronenberg but Glasgow has Andy Stewart. After making audiences feel queasy with his debut Dysmorphia and his follow up Split, Stewart was at the festival for the world premiere of his latest short INK. The film follows a creepy man who is determined to make his own body a work of art in the cheapest (and bloodiest) way possible. As you can imagine this is no easy affair, the effects are disgustingly enjoyable and on-screen the film looks immaculate. There are two shots in particular that are truly jaw-dropping. You heard it from us that Andy Stewart is a name to keep an eye out for in the coming years.
#2: THE STOMACH (Dir. Ben Steiner)
THE STOMACH is one the most bizzarre short films that i’ve seen in quite some time. Take one part gritty British crime thriller and combine it with elements found in a Cronenberg film and you’ve got a short that shows a truly unique way to channel the dead. Featuring strong performances and a fresh concept, Steiner has shown a real flare for crafting something special that will not only gross you out but possible leave you stunned with how bonkers it really is.
#5: CHOCOLATE STRAWBERRY VANILLA (Dir. Stuart Simpson)
Not exactly a horror film more of a drama piece about a social-awkward ice-cream man’s descent into madness after a prolonged period of abuse, Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla is a film that is both intriguing and compelling viewing. Simpson’s direction is great but the real gem of the film is the performance given by Glenn Maynard in the lead role. As the films lead he is endearing and likable. You can catch this film for yourself when it is released on DVD on November 10th.
#4: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (Dir. Taika Waititi/Jemaine Clement)
This was a real treat for those lucky enough to attend the festival and proved to be a real crowd pleaser. Perfectly paced without ever become stale, What We Do In the Shadows is thoroughly entertaining. Jermaine Clement and Taika Waititi’s script is just as razor-sharp as the fangs of their characters and their performances pack just as much bite. Filled to the brim with plenty of jokes that will make and keep you laughing during its 86-minute run-time this is a film that makes eating a sandwich a completely different experience.
#3: THE EDITOR (Dir. Adam Brooks/Matthew Kennedy)
Whilst serving as both a homage to and a satire of the Italian Giallo, The Editor is faithful and respectful to the genre but still remains a fun film at its core. With intentional use of dubbing and over the top gore effects the film perfectly captures the spirit of the genre and is packed with references that will keep Giallo fans happy. However, for those of you who aren’t into Giallo I can guarantee that you will still enjoy watching this movie as Brooks and Kennedy have crafted a slasher film that may appear light on the surface but is jam-packed with content that will keep your attention firmly planted on the screen.
#2: CREEP (Dir. Patrick Brice)
Creep was one of our most anticipated films of the festival and there was no disappointment. Just like it’s name the film that is incredibly creepy and unbearably tense. As well as directing Brice also stars alongside Mark Duplass who both deliver solid performances giving the film feel a sense of realism in turn making the film incredibly scary as a result. I won’t say much more as the less you know about this film is really the better but I will say that it permeates a sense of dread that will have you gripped throughout.
Fredrick S. Hana was the winner of last year’s best short film award with his short Angst, Piss & Drid. This year he returns to the festival circuit with his latest effort AUTUMN HARVEST. Shot entirely in black and white, the film follows a grief-stricken sailor turned serial killer. Dark and moody, stylish and perfectly scored, we simply fell in love with this short and it is for this reason that we feel Autumn Harvest was the best short of the weekend.
Known for taking a more diverse approach to horror, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead wowed festival audiences with their genre-bending thriller Resolution. With their latest offering, the boys have delivered a well-written love story that is plagued by a careful injection and just the right amount of horror, SPRING is a film that is intelligently written, superbly directed and has plenty of artistic flare that is difficult to resist as a genre fan.
So there you have it. Our top picks for the 2014 festival. Thinking about the entire festival weekend, there is no denying that Rob, Polly and Sarah put on an incredible festival packed with plenty of surprises along the way. So here’s to the 2015 festival and we hope to see you there.