The Shock & Gore Festival 2017

Friday 28th July to Sunday 6th August

Somebody alert society’s moral guardians, because the Midlands’ finest horror and fantasy festival returns to Birmingham’s  Electric Cinema this summer with another mix of the cult, the classic and the completely insane.

Celebrate twenty years of smart quips and staking with a 20th anniversary Buffy The Vampire Slayer shindig, enjoy gourmand friendly screenings of The Wicker Man and From Dusk Till Dawn, experience some of the best new horror around with critically acclaimed features Hounds Of Love, The Ghoul and It Comes At Night and discover more about one of Birmingham’s most famous art exhibits – Jacob Epstein’s Lucifer statue.

Throw in Japanese anime, a Godzilla double bill, remastered classics, our annual late night party, short films and a journey through ‘pre-Code’ 1930s horror cinema, and you’ve got one wickedly perverse line-up.

Full listings & the 2017 logo are attached and the full programme is at www.shockandgore.co.uk, plus you can find the festival on Twitter @ShockGore.

Quatermass & The Pit (12A)

Dates: Friday 28th July, Saturday 29th July & Wednesday 2nd August

Times: See website for times

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

One of the smartest science fiction films ever written, Hammer Studios’ 1967 feature Quatermass & The Pit posits an intellectually stimulating version of an alien invasion as a collection of mysterious skeletons are unearthed beneath the London Underground.

Derived from Nigel Kneale’s earlier BBC series (who loathed the first two Quatermass features), Quatermass & The Pit ultimately blends the world of sci-fi and horror as the supernatural terrors at the heart of Kneale’s story are revealed by the investigation of Andrew Keir’s professor. Retitled Five Million Years To Earth for US audiences, the film still resonates (despite undeniably dated effects) because the characters are entirely believable and the situations are perfectly thought out. A true British classic.

Preview screening: The Ghoul (15) + director Q&A

Date: Friday 28th July

Time: 6pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 conc

A host of familiar faces from the British genre ‘new wave’ movement litter the credits of this psycho-magical thriller from writer-director Gareth Tunley, including the likes of Alice Lowe, Dan Skinner and Paul Kay, with Tunley’s colleague Ben Wheatley producing.

Tom Meeten stars as a homicide detective called to London and shown around a murder scene, where evidence suggests the victims kept moving, despite having taken bullets to the chest and head. With the help of an old colleague, Chris decides to go undercover as a patient to investigate a suspect’s psychotherapist, but soon the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur and Chris begins to question his own identity.

A lo-fi gem that wrongfoots its audience at every turn, director Gareth Tunley will be joining us for a live onstage Q&A after the screening.

Shock & Gore Party: Dawn Of The Dead (18) vs. Shaun Of The Dead (15)

Date: Friday 28th July

Time: 10.30pm (screenings at midnight)

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 conc

Zombies are a mainstay of the horror genre, forever being reinvented to suit a new generation ever since George A. Romero brought them global fame. This year’s late night Shock & Gore party will see two very different zombie films face off against each other – Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead and Edgar Wright’s rom-zom-com Shaun Of The Dead.

In a change to previous years, the night will begin in Screen 1 at 10.30pm, with themed cocktails, zombie shorts, music and videogames on the big screen, leading up to two midnight screenings.

Choose the film you want to see – will it be Dawn Of The Dead in Screen 1, the 1978 consumerist satire about a ragtag group of zombie apocalypse survivors holed up in a shopping mall? Or will it be Shaun Of The Dead in Screen 2, an affectionate homage to the zombie genre that sees Simon Pegg’s thirtysomething loser rise up against the living dead? Whatever your decision, you can be assured of rotting flesh and messy disembowelments.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer: 20th Anniversary (15)

Date: Saturday 29th July

Time: 6pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 conc

‘I’ll make him die in ways he can’t even imagine. That would have sounded more commanding if I wasn’t wearing my yummy sushi pyjamas.’

Buffy, we love you. Cool, funny, self-aware and a total badass, Buffy Summers is one of the greatest characters in the pop culture canon. No argument.

Joss Whedon’s game-changing TV series hit screens in 1997, and across seven glorious seasons, it entertained, enthralled and broke hearts in a suitably smart-mouthed way. This year, we’re marking twenty years since Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s first broadcast on US television, paying tribute to one of the greatest TV shows ever made.

In a first for the cinema, YOU will decide what we screen, as audience members are given a vote on which of Buffy’s adventures best summarise her general awesomeness. We’ll also be testing those who think they know their Buffy lore with a bunch of prizes to be won. So don your best 90s outfits, carve out a stake or two and bring along your very own Scooby Gang as we salute Buffy Summers and her awesome way with a pre-fight quip!

Hounds Of Love (18)

Date: Saturday 29th July

Time: 8pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

In 1987, murderous couple John and Evelyn roam the streets of Perth, Australia, searching for their latest victim. Fate leads them to Vicki Maloney (Ashleigh Cummings), a teen who snuck out of her house at night to go to a party. Now held captive in a room, Vicki must use her wits to try and drive a wedge between the crazed duo before they can finish her off.

Debut Australian director Ben Young makes one hell of an impact with Hounds Of Love, aided by three fantastic actors given the chance to let loose in an intimate setting. Loosely inspired by two real-life serial killers – Eric Edgar Cooke, aka the ‘Night Caller’, and David and Catherine Birnie, instigators of the Moorhouse Murders – Hounds Of Love is more nuanced than you might think, more interested in the power plays between its characters than cheap schlock.

Multiple Maniacs (18)

Date: Saturday 29th July

Time: 10.30pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

John Waters could well be the patron saint of the Shock & Gore festival, so when we discovered that there was a brand spanking new digital print of his gloriously grotesque second feature Multiple Maniacs available, we knew we had to screen it. Robbery, murder, blasphemy and lobster rape. Multiple Maniacs has it all.

Made on a shoestring in Baltimore, with Waters taking on nearly every technical task, this gleeful mockery of the peace-and-love ethos of its era features the Cavalcade of Perversion, a travelling show put on by a troupe of misfits whose shocking proclivities are topped only by those of their leader – the glammer-than-glam, larger-than-life Divine, who’s out for blood after discovering her lover’s affair.

The Witches (PG)

Date: Sunday 30th July

Time: 12pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

If you hire the director and screenwriter of Don’t Look Now to make a kids’ film, you’re definitely not going to get Mary Poppins. And thus, the team of Nicolas Roeg and screenwriter Allan Scott brought The Witches into the world, a weird and wonderfully creepy adaptation of the brilliant Roald Dahl novel.

Angelica Huston is clearly having the time of her life as the villainous Grand High Witch, leader of a worldwide witch plot to turn stinky little children into mice, whilst Jasen Fisher is instantly likeable as the boy working with his Norwegian grandma to confound their plans. The final film that Jim Henson worked on before his death, The Witches is for both kids and adults who can stomach a little nastiness mixed in with their fairytales.

Raising Cain: The Director’s Cut (15)

Date: Sunday 30th July

Time: 2.15pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

Few performances in cinema are as gloriously insane as John Lithgow’s turn in the Brian De Palma thriller Raising Cain. Playing a respected child psychologist still recovering from a traumatic childhood, Lithgow is utterly mesmerising as each new twist reveals another facet to his fractured mind in what can best be described as a Chinese puzzle of a film.

Rather aptly for a film about split personalities, there are two versions of Raising Cain. De Palma originally intended a very different ordering of scenes, something freelance editor/director Peet Gelderblom rectified in his own time using the original screenplay, a fan edit that De Palma himself has now given the official stamp to. Shock & Gore presents a rare public screening of this newly formed director’s cut, a more satisfying version that improves what was already one of De Palma’s best, along with

Conjurer’s Kitchen presents The Wicker Man: The Final Cut (15)

Date: Sunday 30th July

Time: 3pm

Prices: £25.90 back sofas, £22.50 front row sofas, £20.70 std (no concs)

Nobody hosts a screening quite like food artist Annabel de Vetten, whose Conjurer’s Kitchen events have been delighting (and freaking out) audiences at The Electric for a number of years. Now, de Vetten and her trusty companion Thom Peterson will finally be delivering their own tasty take on a true horror classic – Robin Hardy’s The Wicker Man.

Made in the early 1970s, The Wicker Man is a uniquely British affair about a Christian policeman investigating the disappearance of a young girl on a remote Scottish island, one with a deep-seated history of paganism and a need for human sacrifices. There’s nowt so homicidal as folk.

Screening here in its ninety one minute ‘final cut’ version, animal masks will be worn, foreskins will be eaten and audience members are encouraged to wear their finest summer solstice looks. All together now – ‘Oh, sumer is icumin in…’

Taxi Driver (18)

Dates: Sunday 30th July to Thursday 3rd August

Times: See website for times

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

Infamous for having more or less inspired a real life assassination attempt – John Hinckley Jr’s pot-shot at Ronald Reagan in 1981 – Taxi Driver has a strong claim to being one of the most dangerous films ever made.

That might sound a tad dramatic, given how pop culture has since worked to tame it through parody – most notably, of course, of De Niro’s mirror scene. But if you step back a moment, and try to watch Taxi Driver with fresh eyes, its provocations become as spikier as ever. In this film Scorsese puts us in the passenger seat of a budding psychosis, doors locked and speeding towards one of cinema’s defining bloodbaths. Prophetic or reactionary, it diagnoses violence as a force always on the cusp – undeniable, compelling, and dangerous.

The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue (18)

Date: Sunday 30th July

Time: 8pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

Let Sleeping Corpses Lie. Don’t Open The Window. Breakfast At Manchester Morgue. This 1974 zombie flick went under a lot of names in various international markets, but one thing we can surely all agree on is that it’s one of the most entertaining Euro horrors that decade produced.

A Spanish Italian co-production from director Jorge Grau, the film follows a hippie and his girlfriend under attack from the living dead in the English countryside with their pleas to police falling on deaf ears, the local constabulary much more interested in pinning a number of recent murders on these two outsiders.

There are gorier zombie films and there are more popular ones, but this is no Lucio Fulci film – the zombies don’t really start massing until the third act, Grau more interested in building an unsettling atmosphere before the innards start being ripped open. Whatever name you decide to give it, Grau’s film is a solid gold zombie treat.

Godzilla (1954) (PG)

Date: Monday 31st July

Time: 6.15pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

Godzilla is one of the true classics of cinema, helmed by noted special effects director Ishiro Honda, a friend and collaborator of Akira Kurosawa. Made in 1954 and a fierce indictment of the atomic age, Godzilla was an enormous hit for the Toho film studio, creating a legendary monster that entered the lexicon of popular culture worldwide, spawning more than twenty sequels over fifty years, countless rip-offs, and a new genre: the kaiju eiga, or Japanese monster movie.

Only fools will pass off Godzilla as just some silly ‘man in a rubber’ suit movie. Made by an ex-soldier who had survived the WWII firebombing of Tokyo and passed through the wreckage of Hiroshima, at the heart of the film lies terror of a nuclear power that had still only recently been unleashed on the world. Like all the best horror, the monsters on screen are reflected back by our monstrous humanity.

King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) (PG)

Date: Monday 31st July

Time: 8.45pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

Everybody loves a battle of the titans. Freddy vs. Jason. Alien vs. Predator. Joe vs. The Volcano. But there’s no super smackdown quite like the King Of Monsters versus The Eight Wonder Of The World.

Although a much more kid friendly version of Godzilla missing any of the original’s nuclear panic, there’s much to enjoy in this second Godzilla sequel, which began the series’ shift into more ‘out there’ rivals. Originally planned as a fight between Godzilla and Frankenstein (seriously), this 1962 creature feature is far from a masterpiece, but has charm to spare and is still one of the most financially successful Godzilla films ever, thus cementing the giant lizard’s future for decades to come.

Sure, Hollywood’s upcoming Kong vs. Godzilla feature will be slicker, but will it be as much fun?

S&G 2017 Short Film Showcase (18)

Date: Tuesday 1st August

Time: 6.15pm

Prices: £5 all seats (sofas first come, first served)

The horror genre perfectly suits the short film format, offering up opportunities for snappy jump scares, extreme set pieces or brief snippets of terror. Every year Shock & Gore looks for some of the best weird and wonderful short films from across the globe, and 2017 has been a fruitful one.

Previous years have featured films from as far aflung as Japan, Dubai, Canada, the US, France and Italy, as well as a number of homegrown shorts. From dancing zombies to homicidal sea monsters, this collection of shorts attracts a larger audience every year, with the full list of films added to our official website three weeks before the screening date.

Martyrs (18) + intro

Date: Tuesday 1st August

Time: 8.45pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

It’s perhaps not a surprise to learn that French writer-director Pascal Laugier was suffering from a deep depression when he penned 2008 horror Martyrs. A key work in the New French Extremity movement, Martyrs offers some of the most extreme body horror of 21st century cinema, but crucially, there is reason for the onscreen suffering beyond mere shock factor.

Mylène Jampanoï plays Lucie, a survivor of childhood abuse who decides to take violent revenge on the family she believes imprisoned and tortured her. When her friend Anna discovers what Lucie has done, it begins a series of events which will reveal the unimaginable horrors of what happened to Lucie as a child and what life changing ramifications they will have for Anna.

This screening will be preceded by an introduction from Alex Davis, author of Laugier’s Martyrs: A Personal Analysis, who will be laying out the case for Martyrs as a masterpiece of horror cinema.

Synthetic Flesh/Rotten Blood: The Turn to Gruesomeness in American Horror Films (1931-1936) (18)

Date: Wednesday 2nd August

Time: 6pm

Prices: £7, £5 concs (sofas first come, first served)

Mad scientists. Sadistic torture. Maniac killers. Alongside gangster movies and sex pictures, thirties horror films used sensational images to attract thrill-hungry audiences during the darkest days of the Great Depression. From Frankenstein (1931) to Freaks (1932) to The Black Cat (1934) to The Raven (1935), studios ballyhooed the public with ‘supershockers’ that left the moral guardians up in arms.

Filmmakers like James Whale, Tod Browning and Edgar G. Ulmer exulted in the gruesome and the brutal, flouting the Hays Code at every turn. Eventually, in July 1934, the censors struck back, banning ‘gruesomeness’ from horror, and the genre lost its fangs. Everyone soon forgot how shocking those 1930s films were.

Until now.

Join author and Starburst film critic Jon Towlson on a graphic journey through ‘pre-Code’ 1930s horror cinema. Experience the terrors of synthetic flesh, the agonies of rotten blood, and abandon any preconceptions you may have that classic horror cinema is cosy and safe.

Very Bad Things (18)

Date: Wednesday 2nd August

Time: 8.45pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

Reprehensible. Mean-spirited. Tasteless. Just some of the words used by critics to describe Peter Berg’s 1998 blacker-than-black comedy Very Bad Things, and they’re all entirely accurate.

Morally despicable and soaked in gore, Very Bad Things sees a bunch of utter douchebags (including Christian Slater and Jon Favreau) head to Las Vegas for a stag do, one which culminates in a stripper’s head being accidentally impaled on a coat peg. Attempts to cover up the murder only lead to much more bloodshed as the friends turn on each other and the wife-to-be reveals herself as the most gruesome of them all.

Whether it’s making a jigsaw out of body parts or a bride caving in a man’s face with a steel post, Very Bad Things is a perversely entertaining comedy that knows no limits. Perfect for Shock & Gore, then.

Jacob Epstein: Rebel Angel (12A) + intro

Date: Thursday 3rd August

Time: 6pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 concs

The American artist Jacob Epstein made something of a career of shocking people. Sexually explicit sculptures and a willingness to tackle taboo subjects meant he quickly gained notoriety outside the art world, and his gender fluid sculpture of the fallen angel Lucifer has long been part of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s permanent collection. Exactly seventy years, to be precise.

To mark the occasion, we’ve teamed up with BMAG and the BFI for a rare public screening of the Central TV documentary Jacob Epstein: Rebel Angel, a look at Epstein’s life and career as told through archival film clips, as well as comments by family members, artists like Antony Gormley and art historians.

The screening will also be preceded by a presentation from BMAG’s Lisa Beauchamp, who’ll be giving a brief introduction to Epstein and his work.

From Dusk Till Dawn (18) with Woodford Reserve

Date: Thursday 3rd August

Time: 8pm (doors 7.30pm)

Prices: £22.30 back sofas, £19.50 front sofas, £17.50 std (no concs)

Join The Birmingham Whisky Club and Woodford Reserve for a whisky infused screening of Robert Rodriguez’s demented 1996 vampire horror From Dusk Till Dawn.

On the run from a bank robbery that left several police officers dead, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his paranoid brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), hightail it to the Mexican border. Kidnapping preacher Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel) and his kids, the criminals sneak across the border in the family’s RV and hole up in a bar that also happens to be home base for a gang of vampires. Cue the carnage.

As part of your ticket, you’ll enjoy a delicious Old Fashioned cocktail and a dram of whiskey served during the film itself. Nate Booker, the UK Ambassador from Woodford Reserve, will also be on hand to answer all your burning bourbon questions and share some extra drams at the end of the screening.

Genocidal Organ (15)

Date: Thursday 3rd August

Time: 8.30pm

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 conc

Ignored for years by UK cinemas, Japanese anime has finally been getting its cinematic in 2017, a number of anime features being released theatrically to great success. Genocidal Organ is the latest offered up to UK audiences, a brutal dystopian sci-fi based on the acclaimed 2006 novel by the late author Project Itoh.

Set in a world where a homemade nuclear device wiped out Sarajevo six years ago, terrorism is now fought using advanced surveillance techniques, citizens trading privacy for more security. Yet less wealthy countries were simultaneously erupting into violent civil wars, all sparked by an American named John Paul. A task force is sent to find Paul, a team who feel no moral guilt for their own actions due to being heavily medicated.

Genocidal Organ asks some tough questions of its audience – the greatest being whether humanity has become too hardened to violence, too accepting of awful crimes. It also tells a gripping story, a spy thriller with a philosophical framework as morality starts to impinge on the work of career soldiers. With a live action version currently in development (allegedly with Park Chan-wook involved), this is just the beginning for the Genocidal Organ series.

It Comes At Night (15)

Dates: Friday 4th to Sunday 6th August

See website for times

Prices: £14.30 back sofas, £11.50 front sofas, £9.50 std, £6.50 conc

Imagine the end of the world. Now imagine something worse. Award-winning filmmaker Trey Edward Shults follows his breakout debut Krisha with the psychological horror thriller It Comes At Night, a film which has been racking up the critical plaudits since its US premiere earlier this year.

Set in a world overtaken by an unnamed cataclysm, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. plays a teenager who lives in a desolate home with his protective and heavily armed parents (Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo), navigating fear, grief and paranoia amid scarce resources as a desperate young couple seeks refuge in their family home with a young child.

Suffused with dread from the very first frame, It Comes At Night is a claustrophobic nightmare which never lets up. Don’t expect monsters clambering out of the shadows. These horrors are primarily in the mind, as dire circumstances instigate violent events and turn family members against each other.

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