Horrifically good: Grimmfest 2013

Adam Scovell

Not for those of a nervous disposition, the five-day horror film festival returns to Manchester next week.

In a recent video post on his YouTube channel, film critic Mark Kermode espoused his love for a particular type of film audience. Forever annoyed with regular cinemagoers’ need to rustle, talk and eat, he argued that the best people to be with when the lights go down are the horror fans.  They behave themselves; laugh and scream at the right moments and are endlessly passionate about the films they watch.  He even goes so far as to argue that cinemas should implement special horror-fans-only film screenings.

While Grimmfest 2013 is far less judgmental of its audience members, Kermode would appreciate the film festival’s celebration of the horror genre. Featuring 39 horror, fantasy and sci-fi movies as well as talks and even make-up workshops, the festival launches at Stockport Plaza next week with a screening of the newly restored, The Wicker Man and a Q&A session with its director, Robin Hardy. The Dancehouse and Lass O’Gowrie also host film screenings and events over the festival’s five days.

Horror fans are endlessly passionate about the films they watch

Grimmfest’s programme may feature films that play into the clichés of horror cinema (Curse of Chucky plays at Stockport Plaza on 2 November) but including them prompts the audience to consider what goes on behind the smokescreen of blood and dark humour. While the latest Chucky film doesn’t push cinematic boundaries, it treads the familiar ground of horror cinema with wit and pulpy glory.

Grimmfest is just as passionate about the horror genre’s past as its future. The Dancehouse’s screening of Clive Barker’s 1987 gothic nightmare, Hellraiser is introduced with a talk from Barbie Wilde and Nicholas Vince, who played the Female Cenobite and Cenobite Chatterer in the original film. Viewers are encouraged to vote for which of the three Hellraiser films is screened on the night – such democratic yet passionate film curating is a rare find.

Though Mark Kermode may be biased when he waxes lyrical about horror film fans (he cites The Exorcist as one of his favourite films), the chance Grimmfest provides to experience cinema with such a passionate audience is too good to miss.

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