GRAB your wooden stake, silver bullets and holy water – a new horror film festival is opening in Perth.
Curated by local horror fans for horror fans, the Perth Horror Film Festival will have a strong emphasis on WA talent, screening shorts from locals filmmakers as well as classic full-length scaries like The Exorcist and House Of Wax.
Festival director Vanessa Gudgeon says the festival was borne out of Perth Horror Fans, a Facebook group who meet up in person at the cinema, go to see local bands and hold gothic BBQs at Kings Park, warding off vampires with garlic sausages.
“We enjoy a good discussion, not just about horror, as we also have quite a few posts about science fiction, thrillers, metal and punk bands, gothic and alternative subcultures and anything else that goes hand in hand with the horror genre,” Gudgeon says.
“We kept the community going during the lockdowns by live streaming public domain horror and sci-fi films every Friday night, where we could all watch together and discuss what we were seeing in the comments, which lead to a lot of fun during what was a very dark time for so many.
“We really wanted to keep those good times rolling, so when the opportunity to partner with the incredible team at The Backlot Perth came about we jumped at the chance to work with them to create this wonderful event.”
Over the years, Perth has been part of several horror festivals including Monster Fest, Trasharama Short Film Festival and A Night Of Horror, but Gudgeon says this is the first homegrown one that really focuses on local filmmakers.
Festival highlights include The Saint, exploring the fine line between hero and villain by Perth’s Jay Jay Jegathesan and Sisyphus, a potent mix of science fiction and psychology by Alex Montanari.
“For a first-time festival, we have been blown away by the fantastic array of films we have received,” Gudgeon says.
In recent years, horror movies have become more sophisticated and moved away from the camp capes and screaming girls to serious drama with respected actors like Toni Collette, who starred in the critically acclaimed Hereditary.
This evolution of the genre is evident in the short film Meat, which is screening at the festival.
Made by Perth film student Chantelle Lucas, it’s a black comedy thriller that explores the theme of sexual assault.
Gudgeon says horror movies have always reflected what is going on in society at that particular juncture.
“I feel that as a genre that is well known to be reflective of society, politics and other key issues faced by everyday people, horror is always going to have its place as an important piece of pop culture history no matter what decade it was made in and while there has definitely been a noticeable shift in both mainstream and independent horror in recent years that is rather distinct from those of previous decades, there is also a lot of great slashers and hilariously fun ‘trashy’ films coming out too, there’s a wild mix of genre films coming out lately which is fantastic to see!” she says.
Horror and science fiction have always been close bedfellows and day two of the festival will feature a heavy dose of sci-fi, including a screening of the 1961 classic The Day The Earth Caught Fire.
Author Chris Thomas will also be on hand to meet fans and sign copies of his new book Blue Blood, the latest in his officially licensed Dr Who spin-off series.
There will also be a prize giveaway on each day of the festival and attendees can vote for their favourite horror short with the winner announced at the end of the festival.
The Perth Horror Film Festival is at The Backlot cinema in West Perth from August 19 – 21. Full program and tix at perthhorrorfans.wixsite.com/perthhorrorfans.
by STEPHEN POLLOCK