Horrid Henry [Festival Report: Horror-On-Sea]

I spent Saturday at the Horror-On-Sea Film Festival in Southend-On-Sea*, Essex. I will review the features I saw (Egomaniac, Witches Brew, The Snarling) in separate posts but wanted to share some lessons about the horror movie zeitgeist gleaned from this festival.

1. It's not about horror any more. It's all about comedy horror now. Shaun Of The Dead changed everything.

2. It's not about zombie movies any more. It's all about films about filmmakers making zombie movies now.

3. It's as good a time as any to stick two fingers up to production values and just make movies that entertain.

4. The future of indie filmmaking is in good hands, proven by the premiere of a short horror film directed by a ten year old with a (literally) killer twist.

5. Finally! Someone else understands the nightmarish, Lovecraftian plastic tentacled horror that is Henry Hoover.

Horror-On-Sea is a fun, friendly festival for those of the horror persuasion. Movies are clearly selected simply for being enjoyable to watch rather than on any mainstream criteria - production values are random, there's not a Hollywood name in sight and everything is funny or at least fun. The features are topped with a well-chosen shorts programme, including a quadrilogy of animations from my erstwhile collaborator Molly Brown (those in the know will have caught my brief voice-over in Attack Of The Killer Eels From Mars) as well as horrors based around such naturally creepy concepts as the baby monitor, a chihuahua and Henry.

It was also great to attend filmmaker Pat Higgins workshop on fear in cinema - a rambling, autobiographical journey through fear and phobia which somehow managed to teach without teaching, plus a round of Consequences leading to the greatest horror film pitch of all time, all presented in the form of an Atmosfear-style 80s video board game.


*Southend-On-Sea is not on the sea, by the sea, at the sea, or juxtaposed to or even near the sea in any way shape or form. The only sea in Southend-On-Sea is the ConspiraSea that puts out a constant stream of marine propaganda keeping the Southenders in blissful ignorance of the truth of their estuaryside existence. Any who accidentally discover the truth by, for example, looking across the river and seeing the bank that is clearly visible on the other side, receive a mysterious invitation: "Congratulations, Southender #22358-33761. You're going to the pier!"


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