Celluloid Screams – Location Repaaarrght

“Sex, small dogs, caravans and murder…”
Not your average weekend at the Showroom Cinema. Before the Opening Gala screening of his new film, Sightseers, Kevin Wheatley epitomises what makes Celluloid Screams unique; it’s different.
Back for its fourth year, Celluloid Screams: Sheffield Horror Film Festival is bulging at the seams with attendees. And guts, obvs. Much of this year is a sell-out, which is testament to the love and dedication organiser Rob Nevitt has for the genre.
After the cult phenomenon of Kill List, Kevin Wheatley is back with the dark comedy, Sightseers. Chris and Tina are going on their first holiday together; Chris wants to show her 'his world'. The caravan tour’s notable highlights include Crich Tram Museum, Ribblehead Viaduct and The Pencil Museum. However, Chris has a very dark secret which leaves a trail of devastation across the North of England in their wake. On the way expect dognapping, knitted underwear and carnage. Here's a trailer.

Bolstered by a couple of pints of Thornbridge’s Celluloid Screams Ale, next up, I settle down to Nightbreed: The Cabal Cut.  Despite the original release being severely cut, the 1990 film quickly became a cult favourite.  After the discovery of two 'lost' Workprints, Restoration Director, Russell Cherrington, has lovingly re-integrated the missing scenes into the film in order to piece together Clive Barker’s original concept.  Despite the quality being ragged in parts, it’s a fascinating watch.
One of the films I’ve been looking forward to the most is V/H/S. Several stories branch-off from a central tale involving the theft of a videotape. Whilst it doesn’t fully work as a complete package, there are some innovative and scary moments in there.  The free test-tube of Sambuca welcomes attendees upon arrival to see Cell Count. Celluloid Screams have landed the UK premiere of this body horror which harks back to early Cronenberg and Carpenter; it’s an impressive slow-burner which loses its way a bit at the end.
Every film has at least one “short” attached to it. I remember being scared senseless by Mama at a previous festival, there are always some hidden gems to be found. This year, the highlights for me were the ingenious stop-motion of Odokuro and the insane Bio-Cop.
Celluloid Screams 'Secret Film' has grown, virus-like to become a highly anticaped hammerblow in the horrific onslaught of the festival – yielding the likes of Snowtown and Paranormal Activity in the past – and there’s a buzz of anticipation before the announcement of the film. This year Citadel fills the spot, and whilst it’s a surprise to most, what a brilliant choice it is. More terror than horror, Ciaran Foy’s first full feature follows an agoraphobic father as he tries to cope with the loss of his wife at the hands of the feral children who infect the estate. After his daughter is kidnapped, he teams up with a renegade priest to rescue her and rid the estates of this plague. There are brilliant performances all round; especially Aneurin Barnard in the lead role. I’m not sure how the film went down with hardcore genre fans, but it’s a superb piece of film-making. I’m guessing the Glasgow tourist board might not be overly happy with it though!

The directors of Resolution (Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead) have been enjoying themselves all weekend, which is symptomatic of the great atmosphere and friendly camaraderie there has been throughout the festival. By happy coincidence, their film turns out to be up there with Sightseers as the film of the festival. As Mike tries to cure best friend Chris of his drug addiction, strange things begin to happen, and more has been going on in these mountains than they could have ever thought. The interaction between the two main characters is superb and the film is brilliantly paced.
My final shocker of the festival however – and a fitting way to draw my experience to a close – is Entity. It is co-produced by 'local boy' Rob Speranza, with many of the people involved with the project having connections with Sheffield. Set in a Siberian forest, the story follows a reality TV crew searching for the secrets behind the discovery of 34 unidentifiable bodies buried in the woods.

This year’s festival has possibly been the best yet, roll on Celluloid Screams 2013!
Words by Rob Aldamr

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