Tuesday 20 October 2015

Mayhem Festival Report - Day 4

The concluding day of the Mayhem Festival in Nottingham on Sunday the 18th of Oct, started with a (head)bang, with a screening of the New Zealand Heavy Metal Horror “Deathgasm” by Jason Lei Howden,.
Kind of a bizarre cross between “The Evil Dead” and “Trick or Treat”, a group of kids discover some sheet music in a dilapidated old house belonging to a washed up aging rocker. Only to find their music has an adverse effect on the town when they try playing it at band practice and the group find themselves battling their way through the demonically possessed townsfolk as they try to make it to safety.

Crude, funny and exceptionally gory, the film was very reminiscent of the earlier works of Peter Jackson (indeed, one of the cast can even be seen sporting a “Bad Taste” T-shirt) and the end battle with the chainsaws would certainly give the lawnmower massacre from “Braindead” a run for its money in terms of bloodshed.
This was followed by the anthology film “German Angst”, 3x short films from 3x different directors, Mical Kosqkowski, Andreas Marschall and the infamous Jorg Buttgereit (of Nekromantic infamy).

This was (I’m sad to say) my least favourite film of the festival and after viewing it, really made me wonder just what the hell is wrong with German people (South Park joke). Buttgereit’s segment “Final Girl” was up first. An exceptionally grim tale about a 13 year old girl, who’s got some dirty old man tied up in the next room, which she proceeds to castrate and mutilate. The second segment “Make a Wish” by Michal Kosakowski was essentially just 30mins of watching neo-nazis beating up a deaf-mute couple in a deserted factory. The final segment “Alraune” from Andreas Marschall was actually quite intriguing, in which a photographer joins a bizarre S&M club, in order to get close to a dancer who goes there. Only to find that taking part in their practices has some very strange side effects.

I’ve never been a fan of Buttgereit’s works and his segment here was no exception and I wasn’t that keen of Kosakowski’s segment either. Marschall’s segment wasn’t actually too bad, but some of the S&M scenes were a little bit “freaky” and overall, this film really wasn’t my cup of tea at all.

Michal Kosakowski, who also produced the film, was there to introduce it and provide a Q&A session afterwards. Footage of which should hopefully be appearing on my YouTube channel shortly.
The third film of the day seemed to prove the most popular, Robert Eggers critically acclaimed “The Witch”. Mayhem pulled off a coup securing a screening of this one, prior to its general release. Having only been screened once before, at its London premiere.

Set in 17th century new England, a Farmer (Ralph Ineson in a distinctly un-“Office” like role) is banished from the town, along with his family, over their different religious views. Setting up on their own, their new farm is subsequently blighted with problems, as their crops fail, livestock dies and children proceed to go missing. Which is attributed to something nasty lurking in the woods.

Though the film was well received by the audience, I was sadly left feeling underwhelmed. I thought the film was going to be kind of like “Sleepy Hollow”, but with a witch instead of a headless horseman. What we got instead was a 17th century period drama about some family whose farm is failing and not much else. There’s no real witch to speak of, and there’s also something about an evil rabbit and an evil goat, which I didn’t really understand.
After that came one of, if not the most, bizarre films of the Festival. Steve Oram’s “Aaaaaaaah!”. The premise being what if Human behaved more like apes, as it follows the exploits of one family and their friends.

There’s no English dialogue in the film, everyone talks in grunts and although they go around doing all the regular stuff ordinary folk do, shopping, playing football, partying etc, their behaviour is more gorilla-like, as the males fight each other for dominance over the females and everyone just craps on the floor.

A very strange film, in which director Steve Oram plays the lead, and an almost unrecognisable Toyah Wilcox co-stars as the head of the family.

Steve Oram was there to introduce the film and provide a Q&A, which degenerated into a conversation about penises with the shows host Chris Cooke. Footage of which will most definitely be appearing on YouTube shortly.
The last film, bringing the festival to a close was “The Invitation” from Aeon Flux/Jennifer’s Body director Karyn Kusama. A man, still grieving the loss of his son, is invited, along with his new partner, to a fancy dinner party by his ex-wife in their former home.

Joined by several old friends, they are shocked to discover that his ex-wife and her new partner have joined some bizarre religious cult based in Mexico, a couple of members of which have also joined them that evening. But as the night goes on, he begins to get the impression that something sinister is going on, as his ex-wife and her new friend’s behaviour gets increasingly erratic.

Featuring a cast of established actors including Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheus), Michiel Huisman (TVs –Game of Thrones) and John Carroll Lynch (TVs American Horror Story), the film had an interesting premise and certainly piles on the tension, where you’re never really sure if they are in danger or its just his paranoia. But the problem was the film just took far too long to get going, over an hour, before anything kicked off.

Whilst the ending proved quite intense, it took just too long to get there in my view. Though I suppose, when you’re confined to one house for the entire film, I guess you are limited in how long you can drag the action out for, and hence why the build up went on for so long. It’ll probably play better on DVD/BD, but overall I found the film to be way to slow.

And that concluded this years Mayhem Festival. A huge thankyou to Chris Cooke, Steven Sheil and the staff at the Broadway Cinema for putting this on and I look forward to next year.

The guys behind Mayhem put on other events throughout the year, be sure to keep an eye out on the Broadway Cinema Website and the Mayhem Facebook and Twitter pages for more info.

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