Karen Gillan, Vincent Price and William Castle feature in Dead By Dawn 2014
The horror festival will screen a mixture of new releases, short films and established classics
If you’re a fan of horror and all things dark, you’re probably pretty bummed around this time of the year, as April is not an especially spooky month: the clocks have gone forward, giving us sunlight until 8pm or so (at least in theory), and spring has officially sprung.
But horror film fans have a reason to be cheerful come the end of the month, as Dead By Dawn, Scotland’s annual horror film festival, kicks off its 21st edition from Thu 24–Sun 27 Apr. Hosted in partnership with Edinburgh’s Filmhouse, the festival bills itself as an ‘annual feast of horror fun’, and has something for everyone… assuming everyone likes horror films, that is.
Suitably enough, not only is 24 April the first day of the festival, it is also the centenary of horror film legend William Castle’s birth, and Dead by Dawn will celebrate it with two special screenings of his films: House on Haunted Hill (the original, of course, from 1959 featuring the great Vincent Price) and Mr Sardonicus (1961). Both screenings will feature a live introduction from Castle’s daughter, Terry, who will Skype in from her home in California.
The festival also features several UK premieres, including Karen Gillan’s new film, Oculus, about a woman trying to prove her brother innocent of murder by exposing a supernatural phenomenon, and Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla, a black comedy about a lonely ice cream van driver’s obsession with a television soap actress. Antoine Barraud's existential pot-holing yarn Les Gouffres, Takashi Miike's anti-bullying project Lesson of Evil and Daniel Stamm's 'let's play a game' thriller 13 Sins will also receive their debut UK outings, while other programme highlights include Gerard Johnstone's ghost story Housebound, Eiji Uchida's bonkers-looking hammer horror Greatful Dead and documentary shocker Killer Legends, the new film from Josh Zeman and Rachel Mills (Cropsey).
However, if new school horror isn’t your bag, there’s something for classic horror movie fans too, with a selection of the best of the genre from the last 50 years, including Friday the 13th, Candyman, Twilight Zone: The Movie and The Howling.
Arguably the most esoteric offering the festival has is a presentation of School of Shock: Pain and Pleasure in the Classroom Safety Film which will be introduced by film writer and programmer Kier-La Janisse. It is a selection of the most notorious films from the sub-sub-genre of ‘classic-era’ classroom films made from the 1940s–1980s, featuring heavy-handed looks at subjects such as drug abuse, veneral disease, and how to stop a paedophile. Being safe has never looked so terrifying.
All screenings take place at Filmhouse. passes are £75 for the entire four days, which are available at the Filmhouse box office, or online at www.filmhousecinema.com