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Grimm Up North

Rachel Winterbottom bathes in blood at a cinematic gore fest at the Printworks

Written by . Published on November 4th 2009.

Grimm Up North

Gallons of fake blood, Sumatran Rat Monkeys, Santa Carlan vampires, books of the dead: I’m a sucker for all that stuff. An all weekend horror marathon at the Printworks? Bring it on. The time had come to protect your Barbaras; the zombies were descending on Manchester.

You know what it’s like, you’ve just started to relax after injecting yourself with your favourite tipple and there’s a knock at the door. Good news: it’s a naked lady. Bad news: she turns into a demon at the most inopportune moment and finishes you off with her 14 inch dick. Say no to drugs, kids.

The Odeon hosted a three day event over the weekend, the first ever Grimm Up North Festival. It coincided with Zombie Aid 2 – a mass meeting of zombies in Pure nightclub, making the Printworks a hotspot for Halloween revellers. With visceral indies, gratuitous violence and the kind of disturbing sex scenes you can only find in horror, Grimm Up North was set to be something beautiful.

But schlock, horror! (sorry, couldn’t resist), events didn’t quite go to programme. After making our way between the cult comic stands and out-of-date Buffy annuals, we were left basking in the dim light of the cinema screen for 15 minutes. Only to be told, after a lengthy, eardrum-piercing wail from the speakers, that the cinema was experiencing a few technical difficulties. Gremlins were in the sound system, and it wasn’t even after midnight.

So, no world premier of The Reeds just yet (go Manchester!). But we had other offerings to slake our thirst.

First up, short film Cold Blood directed by Steve Looker. A woman wakes up in a locked garage, smeared with blood and wearing someone else’s hat. There’s a dead body and someone’s drilling just outside the door – what would you do? This was a neat, tense short that was well acted, but the ending could have leant even more towards self-preservation than just hat lady screaming in horror.

Next was Someone’s Knocking at the Door. An unknown writer, a relatively inexperienced cast and a director, Chad Ferrin, who has only worked on a few horror films before. Yet this film is quite brilliant.

You know what it’s like, you’ve just started to relax after injecting yourself with your favourite tipple and there’s a knock at the door. Good news: it’s a naked lady. Bad news: she turns into a demon at the most inopportune moment and finishes you off with her 14 inch dick. Say no to drugs, kids.

OK, so it’s about demons who rape their victims to death. But it’s also about self-centred medical students, off their tits on drugs listening to recordings of therapy sessions, getting their comeuppance. It has a wicked sense of humour and sharp dialogue. There’s a film student’s tendency to rely on a soundtrack full of electric squeals and ‘crazy’ editing, but as the genre goes, this is unique. It has a twist but doesn’t skimp on the story, unlike other films that rely on that final scene to justify why they coasted through the rest of the plot (M. Night. Shyamalan take note). There are some truly grotesque but gratifying moments and any film with a scene where someone is swallowed by a vagina gets my vote.

After this visual treat, we were told the disappointing, but inevitable, news that The Reeds was not going to premier in the North West this weekend. Maybe one day, Manchester will attract the likes of Megan Fox to its red carpet, but this was not that day.

So finally, there was 7th Hunt. An Australian offering by director Jon Cohen. Unfortunately for cinema staff, the technical demons had been trying to sabotage this film too. It didn’t take us long to realise, however, that even if the projectionists had spent the entire film trying to adjust the screen resolution, it would have been a more fulfilling experience than having to sit through it unimpeded.

Having not planned on watching 7th Hunt, I didn’t know what to expect. Cheese, I love. Gore, yes please. But it soon became apparent that this was about torture. A ‘family’ of torturers, to be exact, and, quite literally, their business is murder. They punish people for their sins by killing them in the most unimaginative ways possible. Sins that, from the looks of things, include being rich, having ridiculously shaped eyebrows and overcoming disability.

I went from being squeamish at the thought of torture scenes to longing for violence. This is an awful, awful film. It’s like Saw crossed with Neighbours, but not in a good way. The lead characters are so flimsy that even their victims can deconstruct them while undergoing torture. ‘He likes them young and attractive,’ one character muses. ‘I suppose it’s because he never was.’ One of the torturers, ‘The Hacker’ (yes, really), cuts the fingers off his victims and dabs their nubbins in paprika. The horror! Other nicknames include The Inquisitor, The Hand, Mastermind, and, my personal favourite, Nyteblayde. This film is dreadful, don’t ever see it.

The festival was an incredible platform for films that normally wouldn’t be given the screen time in UK cinemas, and there were so many delightful little horrors showing that there was at least the possibility of catching a decent one. Some lucky buggers would have watched zombie-movie-with-a-difference Colin. Director Marc Price made this award-winning feature for £45, which is such a ridiculously small budget that you have to wonder what the money was actually spent on. Tea and biscuits, perhaps.

This was an ambitious event, and one we can be proud to have hosted. I’m still going to be there next year, groaning, dressed in tatters, smeared with blood and other bodily fluids. Might even check out Zombie Aid 3, too.

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