Winter and horror seem to be synonymous, whether it’s the cold days, long nights or the fact that some of the best horror films seem to be set in around this time of year (The Shining, anyone?). First and foremost, we have Halloween, swiftly followed by Guy Fawkes/Fireworks night, both steeped in traditions focusing on spirits and the dead. Even Christmas, if studied beyond the Christian ethos, has a dark and murky side.
So here we are in the winter of 2021, a year beset by its own viral horrors as we still continue to try and shake off the global pandemic, and with it another UK horror event! Swiftly on the heels of For the Love of Horror, comes DarkFest IV, a one-day horror event arranged by the great guys over at The Dark Side Magazine.
DarkFest, still somewhat in its infancy, is an opportunity for like-minded fans to come together and enjoy horror in all its forms and fascinations.
The event is held over a single day at the Genesis Cinema in east London, providing events and entertainment as well as the chance to enjoy great food and beverages with fellow fans and friends. You can also grab a cool piece of merch and meet an iconic horror legend or two…or three!
Generally consisting of screenings and live entertainment, the program for this year’s DarkFest was extensive and did not disappoint. In addition to shorts and trailers, four films were screened throughout the day. As with previous years, these are films that would never normally get a big screen viewing nowadays (certainly not at your local multiplex) or are even difficult to come by on home video formats. The films screened this year were:
The Devil Rides out (1968) - Christopher Lee tackles devil worshippers in what some consider the best Hammer film ever made.
The Lost Continent (1967) – Hammer’s adaptation of the Denis Wheatley classic, uncharted seas.
The New York Ripper (1982) - Lucio Fulci’s New York Stalker/Slasher flick packed with gore and sex a plenty,
Cannibal Holocaust (1979) - Perhaps the first “found footage” movie, but this is no Blair Witch. With controversial imagery and atrocities throughout, this is not for the faint-hearted.
Your esteemed GARF Blogger managed to catch all but Cannibal Holocaust. Check out the GARF Letterboxd account for my reviews!
In addition to the films noted, some great shorts were screened and live entertainment provided. The live entertainment came in the form of the Circus of Horrors, who gave two great 30-minute performances that were both different, making it worthwhile to catch both.
When not enjoying the screenings or live entertainment there was plenty of opportunity to peruse some amazing stalls with great merchandise, ranging from books and posters, hard to find DVD’s and blu-rays, artwork, figures & models and even a cool pin or two.
Rounding off the opportunities to enjoy our beloved horror genre were the guests that were present! Topping the guest bill was Ruggero Deodato, who of course in addition to Cannibal Holocaust, brought us The House on the Edge of the Park and even had a cameo as a cannibal in Eli Roth’s Hostel II.
Joining Ruggero for the day were guests of classic horror and in some instances from the films that were to be screened:
Zora Kerova - The New York Ripper
Dana Gillespie - The Lost Continent
Christian Roberts - The Mind of Mr. Soames / UFO
Norman Eshley - The Lost Continent
Martine Beswick - Bond girl / Dr. Jekyll & Sister Hyde
Andrea Lawrence - Various Hammer credits
Pauline Peart - The Satanic Rights of Dracula
Caroline Munro - Hammer legend & Bond girl
Madeline Smith - Various Hammer credits
It was a busy day all round catching up with great friends, making new ones, picking up very cool books and even negotiating an exciting piece of GARF work for 2022!
In short, it is a well-run event that I think will become a staple on the UK horror events calendar. At £35 for entry, the event certainly provides great value. The location is ideal, being a great cinema with good facilities and well placed for getting to easily, surrounded by subway stations and bus stops alike, very important when the wine begins to flow! The mix of screenings and live entertainment provides a great combination and will suit all tastes, as well as offering the chance to see films you may never normally see.
You can certainly expect to see The GARF present at future DarkFest events so please do some and say hi. In the meantime be sure to pick up a copy of The Dark Side Magazine (available at many a respectable newsagent and from www.thedarksidemagazine.com), not only is it full of great features, reviews and articles it all helps in supporting the horror community and this great event.
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