Shock & Gore has been delighting horror fans in the Midlands for quite a few years now, and while we may not be able to get to every event in the festival (I for one am gutted that I’ve never been free on the evening of their legendary all-nighter), there are plenty of tales of terror coming Brum’s way from July 19th to the 25th.
Whether you prefer your horror creepy (The Spiral Staircase), visceral (Dead Ringers), kooky (Gremlins), funny (The Evil Dead), foreign (Santa Sangre) or classic (The Exorcist), the festival never disappoints and often incorporates live Q&A sessions with directors and writers and performances by comedians, magicians and musicians.
Normally centred on the Electric Cinema (but of course), this year the event has also branched out to include venues such as The Custard Factory Theatre, St Columba Church in Moseley and Stageside Restaurant.
I’ve had some great times here over the years (watching Carrie springs to mind because my husband and brother seemed to burst out laughing whenever John Travolta was on screen for some reason) and the organisers go to so much effort to set a good-naturedly creepy atmosphere. Oh, and food is usually very important here too – lots of inventiveness (see below for some of this year’s culinary concoctions).
I’ve been looking through the schedule and there is so much choice but for me, the standout events include (but certainly are not limited to):
Bram Stoker’s Dracula (with wine tasting), Tuesday 23rd July, 8pm, Electric Cinema, £26 (sofa) or £20 (standard).
OK, so this isn’t an event to go to if you are a) a recovering alcoholic, b) a militant teetotaler or c) somebody who hates it when films get paused because there will be five different (blood red) wines doled out during pauses in the movie.
But if you love a tipple and you find Keanu Reeves’ attempts at an English accent really amusing (seriously, he has an English mum, he should have this down) and find Gary Oldman weirdly sexy then this showing of Francis Ford Coppola’s 1992 effort is for you. Enjoy.
The American Scream, Sat 21st July, 2pm, Custard Factory Theatre, Digbeth, £6, £4.50 concessions.
‘A heart-warming documentary at a horror festival? What are they thinking?’ I hear you cry.
But this look at a Massachusetts community’s efforts to have the best haunted house at Halloween really appeals to me as a long-time Halloween fiend. I really love the way that Americans just get the kooky, spooky aspect of autumn, how important it is to childhood and just how fun it is to be scared.
I really want to spend Halloween there one day (and that might be happening sooner rather than later…) although I did once go to Hell in Michigan which celebrates it all the year round (read if you like small town Americana and accidental road trips).
Film Food Club – The Silence of the Lambs, Thursday 25th July, 19.45 (Meal at Stageside Resaurant) and 9pm (film at The Electric Cinema)
Don’t tell me you’ve never wanted to try this, of course you have. Well now is your chance to eat some liver (can’t ensure this will belong to a friend or neighbour though) with some fava beans and a niiiiice chianti sfa-sfa-sfa-sfa. Then you can throw it all up whilst watching Anthony Hopkins shrink Jodie Foster’s head while some guy collects women’s skin so he can make a lady suit.
If you take someone on a first date to this one and they don’t run off screaming, they’re a keeper!
Would You Rather, Saturday 20th July, 8.30pm, The Electric Cinema, £7.40 and £5 (concessions)
There’s usually a hot new horror flick premiering at the festival and this year’s choice plays on that gross-out childhood game that usually involved licking someone’s eyeball. I’m not promising that’s going to happen here (I wish) but with a sadist hosting a dinner party for people all desperate for money, some horrid, exploitative stuff is bound to go down.
This is probably going to be a hard one to stomach (think Hostel or the Saw series) but for all you sick puppies out there, I hope it’s what you were looking for. Personally, I might sit this one out and see Black Sabbath instead.
Scary on Brum!