Mayhem Film Festival returns this October with a feast of horror, sci-fi and cult titles from around the world and – after a quick sell-out of weekend passes in August – a limited number of additional passes for the weekend are now on sale.
We’re kicking off on Thursday 14 October with our previously announced opening film, behind-the-scenes documentary Alien On Stage, in which an unlikely group of Dorset bus drivers put on a DIY production of Alien and take it to the West End stage.
Next up this year is underwater ghost story The Deep House – also already announced – which plunges us into the depths of a submerged haunted house for a literally immersive horror experience.
Up from the vaults, Mayhem opens its archive for the second day of the festival on Friday 15 October to resurrect a lesser-seen British horror film of yesteryear – a dark gem of Gothic cinema, 1949’s Queen of Spades, in which a gambler becomes obsessed with an old lady, said to have sold her soul to the devil in order to win at cards.
Friday’s line-up continues with The Show, a noir-fantasy set in Northampton, written by comics legend Alan Moore. Trippy, multi-layered and shot through with droll humour, The Show is an idiosyncratic delight.
We carry on into the evening with a smart and genuinely surprising sci-fi black comedy, Night Drive, which sees a ride-share driver’s life begin to fall apart when he picks up his last passenger and accidentally hits a pedestrian.
Closing the Friday night of the festival is South Korean cat-and-mouse thriller, Oh-Seung Kwon’s Midnight. A serial-killing psychopath is interrupted in his latest crime by a young deaf woman – and so begins a non-stop, all-night, life-or-death chase packed with tension and twists.
We’re starting Saturday 16 October off with an all-animated dark fantasy horror The Spine of Night, featuring the voices of Richard E. Grant and Lucy Lawless. A psychedelic, hallucinogenic epic of outrageous violence, ancient gods and courageous heroes set in a land of magic and mysticism, The Spine of Night is unlike anything we’ve ever screened.
Second on Saturday is a stylish, haunting and intense psychological portrait Knocking. A woman leaves a psychiatric ward and finds herself placed alone in a new apartment where she begins to hear mysterious knocking sounds.
Feed on the blood of fresh filmmaking talent with the return of the always-popular Mayhem Short Film Showcase on Saturday afternoon, presenting a selection of scary, weird and wonderful shorts from around the world and closer to home.
From the producers of The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil comes a new experience in action – the genre-bending, high-octane sci-fi thriller Spiritwalker. A man wakes up in a different body every twelve hours, each time forced to discover who he is – all the while being pursued by a secret organisation. He must find his way back into his real body before it’s too late!
This year’s Mayhem Midnight Movie on Saturday night is Brian De Palma’s 1974 cult classic Phantom of the Paradise. Mixing the plots of The Phantom of the Opera and Faust, and adding a great score and cool songs, this is De Palma (Carrie, Blow Out) at his most stylish and stylised – a genuine midnight movie masterpiece.
We’re starting off the final day of the festival on Sunday 17 October with the hilariously hyperactive satire Get the Hell Out, where Taiwan’s parliament becomes a deadly battleground when a virus transforms politicians into bloodthirsty mutant zombies.
Fresh from winning rave reviews at its international premiere at Fantasia, there’s hell to pay when a lonely teenager discovers her family’s connections to witchcraft in occult coming-of-age story Hellbender, from the incredibly creative Adams family.
Later on Sunday is horror anthology The Night Shift. Looking for inspiration, an artist visits a run-down housing estate and interviews the building’s caretaker, who has many strange and uncanny tales to tell…
In the penultimate slot for this year’s festival is the unique Nordic folktale Lamb, a strange and daring debut from special effects master-turned-director Valdimar Jóhannsson. A childless couple discover a mysterious newborn on their remote farm in Iceland. Soon they’re experiencing the joy of family – but before long, family will tear them apart.
We’re closing Mayhem 2021 in style with the must-see, one-take sci-fi comedy Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes. Tokyo café owner Kato returns home from work to find a message from his future self on his computer screen… and soon this strange phenomenon gets chaotically out of hand. Praised for its inventiveness by the creator of One Cut of the Dead – which went down a storm at Mayhem 2018 – it’s sure to be a festival favourite this year.
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