A Night Of Horror - The first weekend!


Thursday, November 24th, 7pm

What better way to kick off the 10th anniversary of this legendary festival than with zombie action in a strip club. An unashamedly exploitative b-movie dressed up in, no wait, hell no, this flick isn’t dressed up at all, it’s running amok, buck naked, and aiming it’s crooked teeth straight for the jugular. The perfect piece of horror trash for sculling beer, stuffing popcorn, and hurling inappropriate comments at the screen. Peelers is a hot date flick for the romantically challenged. Director Sevé Schelenz, a Canuck fest alumni, and screenwriter Lisa DeVita, have concocted a loud, brash, and crude party movie for flesh fiends. 

A small town strip club owner, Blue Jean (Wren Walker), is determined to defend her turf, even if it’s the final night of business, when the club is infiltrated by a messy, gross infection causing patrons and staff alike to become hideously sick and attack savagely. It’s every man and woman for themselves. There’s a definite dark streak of humour dripping off the sweat-splashed, blood-soaked walls of this dive bar. Wren Walker is definitely alpha female. Grab a bat, clutch your balls, peel it back, and prepare to be slapped and tickled. If you want elevated horror, you’ve come to the wrong bar, this joint is strictly for perverse thrills and spills. 

We Are Not Alone

Thursday, November 24th, 9pm

With a firm nod to The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror, this intensely atmospheric, Peruvian account of demonic possession (apparently based on true events) is a sombre, tenebrous, slow-burn (but not long) affair. It’s essentially a chamber piece, set almost entirely within a house, and with just three main characters, Mónica (Fiorella Diaz), her husband Mateo (Marc Zunino), and their eight-year-old daughter Sofia (Zoe Arévalo), plus the support of the well-intentioned father, and troubled soul, Padre Rafael (Lucho Cáceres).

The family have just moved into a new home on the outskirts of Lima. Almost immediately Sofia becomes the pet of some supernatural presence, but soon enough the force that is haunting the house focuses on Mónica, turning her into an insomniac and playing mercilessly on her perceptions. Everything moves into very familiar territory, but director and co-screenwriter Daniel Rodriguez has excellent control of the mise-en-scene, teasing the audience brilliantly, and adding genuinely deep, creep factor. It’s superbly shot, and the three performances, especially Fiorella Diaz, are the splendid horns on the pentagon cake. Great last shot too. 

Paranormal Drive

Friday, November 25th, 7pm

It’s not often a Ruski horror movie makes the rounds, and this supernatural shocker is a cut deep above most haunted vehicles - and there have been plenty of those. Marshrut Postroen (as it’s pronounced in its native language) follows the plight of Andrey (Pavel Chinaryov) and Olga (Svetlana Ustinova) and their wee daughter Kyushu (Vitaliya Kornienko). Andrey has just got a great deal on a used BMW SUV. It’s seemingly in immaculate condition, so surely they haven’t bought a lemon, right? This is no lemon, this is hell-on-wheels. Haunted by the horrific murder of a woman by her deranged husband the car and its proverbial ghost play malevolent games with the new family.

Director Oleg Assadulin has fashioned a slick and tense journey indeed. Sensational cinematography and terrific editing lift an essentially run-of-the-mill idea into a nerve-wracking 85-minute dark carnival ride. But it’s the performances from the two parents that really carry the movie. You can feel the tension ratcheting up, the paranoia descending like darkness. Andrey has been playing bad boy with young Lena (Diana Melison) and the spectre wants revenge vicariously through Olga. Can they get Kyushu to her grandmother in time? There’ll be tears before bedtime, for this is one hellbent phantom determined to spill blood on the asphalt. 

Smoke and Mirrors: The Tom Savini Story

Friday, November 25th, 9pm

Director Jason Baker, a special effects makeup artist, took several years to paint an intimate and revealing portrait of one of cinema’s greatest modern makeup magicians. Tom Savini has been responsible for creating some of the most memorable set-pieces and characters in horror movies since the 1970s. For True Believin’ horrorphiles he’s a household name, up there with Dick Smith, Rob Bottin and Rick Baker, one of the pioneers. His technique owes a lot to the illusionary art of the golden age, in particular Lon Chaney Jr. His credits include George Romero’s seminal zombie flicks Dawn and Day of the Dead, and Creepshow, The Burning, Friday the 13th and Friday the 13th; The Final Chapter, and many more. All of Savini’s amazing work on these movies are showcased in this fascinating doco, and if it's just to see this body of work in one sitting, hell, it's worth the price of admission!

But like the best documentaries, Baker chooses not to narrate or try and sway the viewer, instead letting Savini do most of the talking, and a bunch of his colleagues and luminaries offering insight into his magic and attitude, including his adult daughter’s heartfelt recollections. From his time as a Vietnam combat photographer, through his breakthrough work on Dawn of the Dead, ultimately delivering some of the most impressive practical effects and prosthetic monsters in modern cinema history, to eventually opening a special effects school, and passing his skilled knowledge onto award-winning Greg Nicotero of KNB EFX. The turbulent life and brilliant career of a gregarious exhibitionist makes for essential viewing. 

Gehenna: Where Death Lives

Saturday, November 26th, 9pm

A Japanese/American co-production and helmed by special effects whizz Hiroshi Katagiri, it’s the tale of a group of of opportunist entrepreneurs who have traveled to Saipan, a lush US-owned island in the Western Pacific, to search for the new spot for a resort. It seems they’ve found the perfect spot, but a derelict bunker on the site left over from WWII presents a few possible issues. The small group enter the bunker to explore the underground tunnels and rooms only to find a subterranean hell where they are terrorised by their own nightmarish secrets and forced to attack each other. 

It’s the classic study of a motley crew in close quarters in even closer encounters with their worst enemies; themselves. The word “gehenna” derives from the Hebrew and is referred to in Jewish and Christian faith as a kind of realm of hell. For the tourists in Saipan it is indeed a hell-on-earth. Katagari has created an intensely claustrophobic showcase for a plethora of phantasmagoric images, shrouded in shadows, bursting forth with evil. It is a grim, labyrinthine, and relentless experience with some excellent special effects, as to be expected! 

Bornless Ones

Sunday, November 27th, 7pm

The evil dead have returned once again. Cabins in the woods are not your friends. Poor Emily (Margaret Judson) just wants to make her pitiful brother’s existence a little better. Zach (Michael Johnston) suffers from cerebral palsy. Along with her boyfriend Jesse (Devin Goodsell), his mate Woodrow (Mark Furze) and lover Michelle (Bobby T), they’ve arrived at a small remote alpine abode in order to provide Zach with some tranquility. The cabin was a cheap purchase, but what Emily and co. don’t realise is that the deceased estate holds a hell of a dark secret. Let the demonic shit hit the fan. 

Writer/director Alexander Babaev isn’t interested in re-inventing the wheel, so he makes sure the chaos is steady and nasty. Take a bunch of stereotypes, throw in a little exploitative nudity and raunch factor, lace with a perverse sense of humour, elicit solid performances from the cast, deliver some great gore gags, and you’ve got a bloody fun night out with the demons. Bornless Ones delivers in jokers and spades. 


All screenings at Dendy Newtown, Sydney.

For more information, the complete festival programme, and tickets visit anightofhorror.com