The Sydney Film Festival’s resident ghoul Richard Kuipers, curator of this year’s Freak Me Out horror movie strand, has programmed six cutting-edge works from diverse corners of the globe – the US, UK, France and Japan (as well as shorts from Australia and Spain). We take a look at what to expect from the world’s most warped visionaries.
HAROLD’S GOING STIFF
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL Screenings – Wed 6 Jun 8.30pm; Wed 13 Jun 8.15pm.
What the SFF Program says... - Fashioned in the style of a BBC regional documentary about a sensitive local health issue, Keith Wright's very funny and surprisingly touching tale investigates 'Onset Rigors Disease', a mystery illness turning men in the north of England into something resembling bloodthirsty ghouls. Complete with a hilariously inept vigilante squad of gormless gits whose members are more brain-dead than the monsters they're hunting, Harold's Going Stiff is a truly original horror gem.
What the critics say.... – “Harold’s Going Stiff plays out the anxiety surrounding ageing in a bittersweet, engaging story, as embodied by professional actors and non-actors who really make you care about their characters.” Keri O’Shea, Brutal as Hell.
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL Screenings – Thur 7 Jun 9.00pm; Thur 14 Jun 9.10pm.
What the SFF Program says....- Veteran director William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) gets down and very dirty with this juicy crime noir. Sleazy, salacious, darkly comic and with jaw-dropping scenes of conduct unbecoming even the low-lifes depicted here, Killer Joe is killer stuff.
What the critics say.... – “The William Friedkin of The French Connection and The Exorcist may be but a distant memory, but Killer Joe proves that at 76 the Academy Award-winning director is certainly no back number.” Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter.
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL Screenings – Fri 8 Jun, 8.45pm; Fri 15 Jun 8.30pm.
What the SFF Program says... - Vampire ballerinas and some particularly nasty ghosts run amok in this scary and visually stylish slice of gothic horror. Filmmaking duo Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo weave a tingly atmosphere of dread around Lucie, a young homecare nurse whose decrepit and apparently comatose patient is said to have hidden a fortune somewhere in her creepy old mansion. Evoking the classy Euro horrors of past masters Mario Bava and Jean Rollin while dishing up a very modern helping of carnage, Livid is primed to please gorehounds and arthouse buffs alike.
What the critics say....- “LIVID feels poetic and entirely drenched in the nightmare logic of more stylistically-concerned foreign horror. It’s exciting and enthralling, and showcases some of the best imagery, production design and art direction you’re likely to see this year.” Samuel Zimmerman, Fangoria.
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL Screenings – Sat 9 Jun 9.00pm; Sat 16 Jun 9.15pm.
What the SFF Program says... - Director and co-writer Daniel Martinico constructs a riveting and suspenseful portrait of a performer whose growing inability to communicate in situations where there's no script is turning him into a ticking time bomb of inner rage. With a powerhouse central performance from actor and co-writer Hugo Armstrong, this slow-burn portrait of isolation and alienation achieves maximum results from its minimalist structure.
What the critics say....- “Through the slow, steady accumulation of seemingly random but increasingly portentous details, helmer Daniel Martinico fashions a riveting portrait of an actor on the verge of a nervous breakdown -- or, quite possibly, something worse.” Joe Leydon, Variety.
EXCISION (pictured, above)
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL Screenings – Sun 10 Jun 9.00pm; Tue 12 Jun 8.30pm.
What the SFF Program says... - Psychodrama, melodrama and surreal shock-horror collide memorably in the story of Pauline, a very bright and very disturbed high school student who isn't kidding when she says, "I have borderline personality disorder." AnnaLynne McCord (pictured, left) is a knockout in the lead, and Traci Lords proves yet again she's the finest actress ever to emerge from adult films with her spot-on performance as Pauline's stitched-up mother. Look for Malcolm McDowell as a teacher and cult film kingpin John Waters as a church minister (!) on a hopeless mission to help this most difficult of young parishioners.
What the critics say....- “Ms. McCord's consistently unhinged performance...makes Excision so much offbeat, creepy, challenging fun.” Scott Weinberg, FEAR.net.
SYDNEY FILM FESTIVAL Screenings – Mon 11 Jun 9.00pm; Sun 17 Jun 9.30pm.
What the SFF Program says... - Dreamt up by Japanese cult figure Shunichiro Miki (Funky Forest: The First Contact) this beautifully designed and photographed exercise in unrestrained imagination is frequently hilarious, sometimes grotesque and constantly compelling in the very strangest and most delightful of ways. Highly unlikely to ever pop up in multiplexes, but is sure to linger long in the memory of anyone willing to approach its wonderfully eccentric charms.
What the critics say....- “This one-of-a-kind pic makes no apparent sense, but is compelling in the strangest of ways.” Richard Kuipers, Variety.