“This is one of the weirdest films I’ve ever seen.”
That’s a great way to open a horror festival, particular when you’re Rob Nevitt, the Festival Director whose job it is to see weird films. The weird film in question is Motivational Growth, the opening movie at this year’s Celluloid Screams. The Showroom is packed full of horror fans, audibly excited about a weekend of weird films.
As one of these horror fans, I spend the year getting increasingly depressed about the state of horror cinema. Just when I’m ready to swear off the scary movies and do something useful with my life, I go to Celluloid Screams and fall in love with the genre all over again. Rob handpicks films which are quite different from the type we get from Hollywood and Motivational Growth is no exception. Set entirely in an apartment so filthy it would make even a student reach for the J cloths, Don Thacker’s debut feature is the story of a depressive whose bathroom mould starts talking to him with the voice of horror legend Jeffrey Combs. It’s funny, creative and downright bonkers – everything a horror film should be.
On top of the programme of seventeen films both old and new, there are 20 shorts from all over the world – my personal favourite, The Root of the Problem, is an ingenious realisation of everyone’s worst fears when visiting the dentist. There’s also a bunch of old adverts and trailers from Rob’s personal collection, and the Twisted Bumper Competition – 30 second stings judged by cult horror favourites the Twisted Twins, who deem Tim Platton’s hilarious Cold Feet the best of the fest.
The special guests don’t stop there, with genre veteran Frank Henenlotter proving to be the perfect Guest of Honour. He opens the Night of the [Un]Dead Allnighter – a first for the festival, screening four flicks back-to-back starting at midnight – beginning with his piece of B movie magic Frankenhooker, whose title speaks for itself. Four films and eight hours later, the committed audience shamble off like zombies, shielding their eyes from the sunlight like vampires.
An exhausted Rob closes the festival, but there’s just time for the Shit Film Amnesty. Basically, whoever brings in the shittest film wins all the shit films entered. This year’s unlucky winner walks away with a stack that includes such Oscar-dodgers as I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer and Shark In Venice. But the closing film at Celluloid Screams is a far classier affair – a joyous Canadian oddity called Discopath, in which a man is driven to murder by the pulsing rhythm of disco music. Hollywood can keep its haunted-house movies and lazy remakes; I’ll take talking mould and disco killers every time.