The second annual Glasgow Horror Festival took place this past weekend. Hosted by Popcorn Horror, artists, filmmakers, and fans from all over Scotland gathered around in downtown Glasgow to enjoy all things Scottish horror. With people still getting out all their pent up Halloween frights from the previous week, I got a chance to experience the two day event for myself, and here’s what I saw.
Day 1: Saturday 4th November
To kick off the festival, there was a three-person panel to discuss the art of horror filmmaking, and, more importantly, Scottish horror filmmaking. Lawrie Brewster, Jennifer Cooper, and Julie Robinson touched on the topic of finding financial backing for films and how important it is to not only use Scottish settings when filmmaking but also the Scottish people as well. They also touched on the topic of the advancement of women in the horror film industry, how even today directorial roles for women were scarce, and how they could be improved in the future.
After the opening panel, the festival showcased official selections of horror animated shorts, ranging from a mixture of traditional and stop motion animation styles. My personal favorite being the animated short Mosquito, a film about a mosquito sucking the blood off a dead body, flying into another residents apartment, getting squished against the resident’s shirt, and then being arrested by investigating authorities for having the victim’s blood on him. I won’t give away the ending here but I do encourage you to watch the film.
Next up in the festival was Writer’s Bloc, Edinburgh’s formidable crew of writers and weirdos specialising in high-voltage live literature. I was treated to tales of revenge gone strange, a secret mountain, and a dark carnival where entrance is the ritual. The live performances brought an extra level of creepy to the audience that everyone enjoyed.
Best of Scottish Film
Andy Stewart (left), Jennifer Cooper (right)
Two prominent figures in the Scottish horror film industry, Andy Stewart and Jennifer Cooper, presented their short film selections for the festival. Stewart presented two short films that he himself wrote and directed, the first of which being Dysmorphia, a film based around the actual psychological disorder known as Body Integrity Identity Disorder. The story follows a man who finds his own right hand to be alien and decides to amputate the unwanted limb himself in gruesome detail.
The next film Stewart presented was Ink, a film about a serial killer who hunts down his victims only to cut off their tattoos as trophies, before proceeding to sew them on to his own skin. Stewart definitely displays his knack for the gore and body horror here.
Jennifer Cooper’s selection for the festival showcased the talent of two Scottish female directors, starting with the animated short Nursery Crimes, directed by L.Whyte. A twisted reimagining of the little Bo Peep story, Bo Peep slaughters her sheep and subsequently every other character from the old nursery rhymes. Utilising a blend of several styles of animation, the film sheds a darker light on the old stories that we used to love as children.
The Red Death
Based on the classic Edgar Allan Poe short story The Masque of the Red Death, Jack Elfick’s play is set to be a visual treat. The playwright has experience in scaring audiences, previously writing Much Ado About Murder for the Edinburgh Horror Festival. The production featured much blood spatter and raucous applause.
The Unkindness of Ravens
The Unkindess of Ravens, one of the feature length films presented at the festival, was directed by Lawrie Brewster, and tells the story of a homeless veteran battling to survive against his demons in the remote Highlands of Scotland.
Day 2: Sunday 5th November
Live Action Shorts
Paint the Town Red, by Bad Cookie Pictures, tells the story of two young girls who mysteriously receive a pair of tickets to a brand new night club in the post. What promises to be a fun night of dancing and drinks turns into a night of dread and fear as the girls take a closer look at the inhabitants inside the strange night club.
The Bride of Frankie, directed by Devi Snively, is a delightful reimaging of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. When the mad scientist is away on business, his assistant, Frances (otherwise known as Frankie), uses the doctor’s lab equipment to reanimate a female corpse, whom the assistant affectionately names Shelley. Frankie hopes that Shelley will become the companion for the already created Frankenstein monster named Monty. However, Frankie quickly finds that Shelley isn’t really interested in Monty and seems to have eyes for another.
The Bride of Frankie is a wonderful retelling of the classic story that breaks relationship norms and adds new elements to the already classic tale of the misunderstood.
Gore FX with Taarna Swanson
Talented makeup artist Taarna Swanson gave an on stage demonstration, bringing monstrous creatures to life with the use of all her bags of horror tricks and treats.
The Podcast Under the Stairs and Scott and Liam Vs Evil went head to head in a live debate of all things horror. You can check out their live performances on the podcast app on IOS (or wherever you listen to podcasts).
Another featured film of the festival was the film Dogged (directed by Richard Rowntree). The plot: When Sam returns home to the tidal island where he grew up to attend a funeral, he soon discovers that the seedy underbelly of this small community harbors more than just a few secrets. Check out this film wherever movies can be found.
End of The Festival
Capping off the end of the festival was a stellar performance by the band Splintered Halo, where the rest of festival attendees and I rocked down the house until the moon was high in the sky.
Overall, I had a blast at the Glasgow Horror Fest and I can’t wait to attend next year.