Monday, August 03, 2020 20:14

Fab Fest 2010

Last Thursday we headed up to the gorgeous city of Edinburgh to catch FAB Fest, held at the city’s Filmhouse (and stepping into the void created by long-running festival Dead by Dawn’s gap year). Whilst, as you’d expect, horror featured strongly on the bill, there were films from several other genres too and for me this was a good thing. Left to my own devices I would probably never pick up a martial arts movie, but as there was one billed I not only watched it, but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Special guests included the director and star of grimy Brit gangster flick A Day of Violence (more on this anon), director of Combat Shock/Life Is Hot In Cracktown Buddy Giovinazzo (who incidentally bought me a pot of tea; hence he is now my friend for life) and the man present in more of the infamous video nasties than anyone else, Giovanni Lombardo Radice: when not getting drilled, castrated or sliced up he’s a good-humoured and self-effacing chap (who doesn’t like horror films!)

Some of the cinematic highlights:

Merantau – a martial arts film from Indonesia which blends brilliantly-choreographed fighting moves, skilled cinematography and touching, believable characterisation.

The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle
– take a fantastical spin on corporate greed and add some well-observed, often laugh-out-loud dialogue – then throw in a heavy dose of weirdness, where self-heating cookies cause a biological anomaly which causes men to ‘give birth’ (well, kinda) to blue fish…and you may just about be at the level of The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle. It’s a film that manages to be both bizarre and yet down to earth, a cult-film-to-be which has no unpleasant pretentions to being a cult film. I found it incredibly refreshing.

A Day of Violence – whilst gangster films aren’t really what I would usually choose to watch, A Day of Violence deserves a mention, I think, as an example of the grim determination needed to make an independent film in Britain. The director (as he explained in a Q&A session after the film) made the whole thing for £50,000 – in itself a huge feat – and not only that, the film was made solely on weekends, as those involved held down day jobs. The result, as they say, gives us ‘exactly what it says on the tin’: A Day of Violence is a nasty, brutish tale of gangster life which certainly pulls no punches. Interestingly, the director Darren Ward felt the need to atone for one scene in which a woman has a tooth removed by a thug – explaining that although this is unpleasant, she gets retribution for the attack – whereas the incredibly protracted scenes of violence between men were given no such apology. It’s a strange state of affairs when, where cries of ‘misogyny’ often echo through the horror scene, gratuitously cruel treatment of men – either by other men or by women – is tacitly accepted. As I noted in my review of Deadgirl (see previous post) it’s misanthropy which runs through many of the grittier films out there, and A Day of Violence is no exception.

City of the Living Dead – one of Fulci’s high points, an ever-spiralling nightmare of (fairly nominally) Lovecraftian gore – seen here in HD. Star Giovanni Lombardo Radice got creeped out by the entrail-vomit scene and went outside for a cigarette. Ah, I love film festivals…

High Lane aka Vertige – a competent tale of peril where, instead of heading underground a la Descent, we head up – The Ascent, if you will. Although all sympathy for the young protagonists was destroyed by the fact that they sang along to Supergrass’s bloody irritating Alright near the beginning, this film lays on the fear of heights incredibly effectively as a group of friends go mountaineering but find themselves isolated, vulnerable – and being watched…

Sadly I had to miss a couple of the films, but other honourable mentions go to Takashi Miike’s Yatterman (a real genre shift for him, but with his trademark unhinged style) Resurrecting ‘The Street Walker’ (which I’ve already reviewed in full for Sex Gore Mutants) and please, check out Buddy Giovinazzo’s bleak, disillusioned tales of urban life.

The Filmhouse is a great venue for these sorts of get-togethers, and having a decent bar, food (and of course the Fab Press stall at hand for drunken Jess Franco DVD purchases) makes these sort of long-haul cinema stints feel a lot easier. It’s also gratifying, as a horror/genre film fan, to see how well film festivals are now doing in the UK: here’s to many more.

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