Friday 20 October 2023

Mayhem Festival Reviews - Day 2 - Friday 13th Oct

Day two kicked off with the period horror TO FIRE YOU COME AT LAST from Director Sean Hogan (The Devils Business). Filmed in Black and White, the tale takes place in medieval England, where the local Squire has employed 3 people to help him carry the coffin of his son, who recently died in a riding accident, across the moors to the churchyard in the next village.

With the evening rapidly approaching, the superstitious locals are wary of travelling over the moors after dark, but the local Squire will have none of it and insists they press onwards. But it seems the local legends of hell hounds and ghostly beings may in fact be real, as strange noises can be heard and strange apparitions are glimpsed by some of the coffin bearers as they journey along.

But supernatural beings may be the last of their worries, as it seems each member of the group had some sort of animosity towards the Squire's son and it seems that his death may not have been entirely an accident. As infighting begins to break out, it seems if there are any ghostly entities out to get them, they may find the group will probably end up killing each other first.

Clocking in at around 45mins, this was not an overly long feature, but the Director managed to cram an awful lot of storytelling in during the time. There also seemed to be a streak of dark humour running through the story, which seemed to go down well with the audience. I was particularly amused by the character of Ransley, the local drunkard, who it seems may not be as dumb as they think and liked stirring up trouble with sly comments.

The film was rather reminiscent of the ghostly dramas that the BBC used to put out over Xmas in the 1970s, which were apparently a huge influence on this. Severin films are apparently set to release this one on disc in the near future, so be sure to keep an eye out for that.

View the Trailer on YouTube.

DOOR (1988)

Second film of the day was a screening of the rarely seen 1988 Japanese thriller DOOR from Director Banmei Takahashi. Which is one of those films you can fully empathise with, if you have ever been plagued by obnoxious door-to-door salesmen or annoying telesales calls.

In this, a young housewife is being barraged by salesmen, either knocking at her door or calling on her landline. But when one overly zealous sales rep tries to barge into her house, rather then just putting his material through the letterbox, she inadvertently slams his hand in the door.

This starts off a chain of events that sees him initially bombarding her with obscene phone calls and knocking at her door at all hours of the day and night. But then sees him becoming obsessed with her and bombarding her with amorous phone calls, which she is not interested in and stalking her wherever she goes.

But things really come to a head when her husband is out for the evening and he finds a way of getting into her apartment, and she finds herself having to deal with this unwanted guest in a most brutal of fashions.

A strange sort of thriller, which starts off seriously in tone, similar to “Fatal Attraction”, but then becomes almost cartoonish during the finale, as the young woman and the stalker come to blows in an almost slapstick battle, in a similar vein to the “Home Alone” films, which had the audience howling with laughter in places.

Not a film that would probably appeal to the casual viewer, if you have an interest in Oriental horrors, you may enjoy it. The film has languished in obscurity for many years, but has recently found its way to disc in the US and UK.

Interesting to note that the film has spawned a couple of sequels, “Door 2” (1991) and “Door 3” (1996) which you may also wish to check out. In fact the forthcoming UK Disc release contains part 2 as an extra. No news on when the third film will be released though.

View the Trailer on YouTube.

Buy the film on BD from


The third film of the day was undoubtedly the most bizarre of the entire festival, Bertrand Mandico's SHE IS CONANN. A very strange, surreal, French art film about a women named Conann, who has (presumably) just died and is now in the afterlife, where she meets a bizarre mutant dog named Rainer, who proceeds to take her on a journey of her past lives through a series of flashbacks.

Filmed, mostly, in Black and White and in French language, what follows is a series of disjointed stories, showing Conann at various stages of her life in different eras, as we see all the gore and mayhem she's caused during her many lives. From medieval times, to 80s New York, to the near future, with a different actress playing her in each era.

Described as “A time-travelling fantasy, based loosely on the myth of Conan the Barbarian”. This has absolutely nothing to do with those old Arnie films and to be quite honest, I really didn't know what to make of it.

Needless to say, this really wasn't my cup of tea and was probably my least favourite film of the festival. Though most of the audience seems to enjoy it.

View the Trailer on YouTube.


Day 3 concluded with a showing of SUITABLE FLESH from Director Joe Lynch (Mayhem, Wrong Turn 2), in which a psychiatrist (Heather Graham – Horns, The Hangover) begins to suspect that one of her young patients, who claims he is being taken over by demon that's possessed his father, is not actually mentally ill and might actually be telling the truth.

Despite initially diagnosing him with paranoid schizophrenia, after visiting the boys father and making a series of grisly discoveries, as well as falling under the spell of her young patient during one of his “possession” episodes (bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase “Doctor/Patient confidentiality”) she is forced to conclude something is definitely amiss.

Also starring horror scream queen Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, You're Next), this is definitely one for lovers of HP Lovecraft adaptations, being based on his story “The Thing on the Doorstep”. In fact the film makes numerous references to his works and there are even a number of nods to other adaptations. In particular, the setting of  Maskatonic University Hospital, which featured in Re-Animator, in which Barbara Crampton also starred.

Indeed, the film was actually co-produced by Brian Yuzna, and written by Dennis Paoli who both worked on  Re-Animator and several other Lovecraft inspired films. So if you're a fan of those, you should definitely check this one out. The film has yet to be released on disc though, but should hopefully be out in the near future.

View the Trailer on YouTube.
And that concluded Day 2, for more information on the festival and other special events throughout the year, visit:
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