Scream Horror Magazine

Mandatory Movies at the 48th Sitges Film Festival

Posted on: September 25th, 2015

sitges choicesWith just a fortnight to go until the 48th Sitges Film Festival, and in an attempt to help festivalgoers pick and choose from such a hefty line-up, I have compiled a list of some of the films that I wouldn’t even consider missing out on.

Running from the 9th through till the 18th of October, this year’s festival promises a top-notch selection of genre films from around the globe with particular emphasis on North American horror and the best genre films emerging countries have to offer.

As was the case with my recent FrightFest recommendations, there are so many that I have yet to see but, based on what I have seen so far, these are the films I suggest you try and fit into your hectic schedule…


Bite: Chad Archibald
While on her bachelorette party getaway, Casey, the bride to be, gets a seemingly harmless bite from an unknown insect. After returning home with cold feet, Casey tries to call off her wedding but before she’s able to, she starts exhibiting insect like traits. Casey succumbs to her new instincts and begins creating a hive that not only houses her translucent eggs, but feeds on the flesh of others.

My favourite Chad Archibald feature to date, Bite is a repulsively entertaining showcase of grotesquerie. Blending body horror with romantic tragedy and boasting a stunning performance from newcomer Elma Begovic, the incessant urge to scratch each and every part of your anatomy is guaranteed as the gorgeous leading lady gradually metamorphoses into the creepiest of insect-like creatures after a fateful dip in Dominican Republic waters. (My review here) Exclusive interview with Elma Begovic.


Cooties: Cary Murnion, Jonathan Milott
A mysterious virus hits an isolated elementary school, transforming the kids into a feral swarm of mass savages. An unlikely hero must lead a motley band of teachers in the fight of their lives.

Films featuring pint-sized psycho killers have been an eternal staple of the horror genre with the thought of evil inhabiting angelic little nippers being far more chilling than virtually any movie monster or villain you can think of. For that reason alone most evil infant movies have stuck to a darker more malicious tone, but then along came Cooties which, whilst serving up some nerve-wracking and grossly gruesome moments, deviates from clichéd killer kid conventions by being so game for a laugh. As killer kid movies go, Cooties is certainly a unique trip and by far one of the funniest. (My review here) Watch the Cooties trailer.


Deathgasm: Jason Lei Howden
Two teenage boys unwittingly summon an ancient evil entity known as The Blind One by delving into black magic while trying to escape their mundane lives.

Writer/Director Jason Lei Howden serves up some brutally effective comedy, gore and unexpected twists, all of which are bolstered by such a charismatic and infectious cast. As long as you are willing to just let the madness take over, Deathgasm is a brutal, side-splitting slice of midnight movie mayhem that even manages to cram in a bit of an allegory to boot. Metal is definitely the way! (My review here) Watch Deathgasm trailer.


The Corpse of Anna Fritz: Hèctor Hernández Vicens
Anna Fritz, a famous and beautiful actress, has died recently. Three young men sneak into the morgue to see her naked. Fascinated by her beauty, they decide to become the last people to have sex with her.

First time feature writer/director Hèctor Hernández Vicens used to write for a Muppets style kids TV show in Spain and now we find him relating a pitch-black tale of a group of youths violating a corpse. Whilst that switch in style came as quite a surprise to me, it came as an even bigger surprise to discover that his debut feature is loosely based on the real life case of a mortuary worker who violated a cadaver which awoke from a catatonic state mid-coitus. Pretty freaky subject matter I’m sure you’ll agree.

The Corpse of Anna Fritz is certainly as harrowing as they come in terms of its subject matter and won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Having said that though, the early necrophilia scenes are handled deftly and more than worth stomaching because the aftermath is to die for. (My review here) Watch The Corpse of Anna Fritz trailer.


The Rotten Link: Valentín Javier Diment
In this quirky and startling drama, a simple man lives in a medieval-like hamlet caring for his elderly mother. But when his sister, the local prostitute, befalls an accident, it awakens his rage against the town’s hypocrisy.

There’s absolutely nothing rotten about this coal-black satirical Argentinian horror film from writer/director Valentín Javier Diment. Set in a primitive village, Diment skilfully navigates some particularly stern subject matter, namely prostitution, rape and mental impairment, keeping things firmly character-based for the majority of the film before dealing out an excruciatingly brutal final reel sucker punch. Watch The Rotten Link trailer.


Maggie: Henry Hobson
A teenage girl in the Midwest becomes infected by an outbreak of a disease that slowly turns the infected into cannibalistic zombies. During her transformation, her loving father stays by her side.

Ubermensch Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger has done battle with literally everything! He’s been up against a deadly Predator, various superior Terminator models, a crowded field of candidates running for Governor of California and even a severe case of sensitive nipples but never have we seen him dealing with zombies.

First-time director Henry Hobson robs the last action hero of his power to lure out an unprecedented performance from Schwarzenegger as Wade, a desolate soul out to protect his family whilst savouring every last second he has left with his daughter who has been infected with the necro-ambulist virus. Whilst Schwarzenegger’s revelatory performance is what has everyone’s chins wagging, the real hook here is the fact that Hobson and scribe, John Scott 3, tap into an uncharted area of the zombie world with Maggie favouring a family-focused approach over an archetypical and overblown zombie rampage narrative. Whilst that idea might deter die hard blood lusting zombie fans, I promise you that even the most ordinary of interactions in Maggie make for an intense and disquieting cinematic experience. (My review here) Watch the trailer for Maggie.


Nina Forever: Chris Blaine, Ben Blaine
After his girlfriend Nina dies in a car crash, Rob unsuccessfully attempts suicide. As he begins to overcome his grief, he falls in love with a coworker, Holly. Their relationship is complicated when Nina, unable to find rest in the afterlife, comes back to life to sarcastically torment them whenever they have sex.

Based on the plot outline people might think this runs along the same lines as Joe Dante’s recent Burying the Ex but there really is nothing quite like Nina Forever and that’s exactly why it can’t be missed. The Blaine Brothers certainly bring their horror genes into the mix but this romantic tragedy examines grief in such a deft and delicate fashion that it will have you learning so many unexpected things about yourself before you leave the foyer. Watch the trailer for Nina Forever.


Stung: Benni Diez
A fancy garden party turns into upper class prey when a colony of killer wasps mutates into seven foot tall predators.

Boasting some fantastically shuddersome creature creations, much akin to the stellar work produced on films like The Thing and Toby Wilkins’ Splinter and taking cues from many a classic critter movie of yesteryear, Benni Diez brings us a genuinely engaging and hugely entertaining piece of cinema. (My review here) Interview with Benni Diez


The Demolisher: Gabriel Carrer
Bruce is an ordinary repairman tormented by a crippling sense of responsibility for his disabled wife Samantha, an ex-policewoman, the survivor of a gang-related assault. Bruce’s increasing hyper-sensitivity to the injustice suffered by his wife steer him down a dark path of vigilantism, and with his rapidly disintegrating mental health, paranoia and overwhelming sense of doom, Bruce channels his inner rage towards a young woman, Marie and finds refuge in a world of extreme violence.

Feeling over-satiated by the constant barrage of MOR action-oriented revenge flicks of late? I certainly was until I stumbled across The Demolisher, a stylish vengeance shocker from Canadian director Gabriel Carrer that strips the desire for revenge right down to the bare bones and provides the genre with the emergency “fresh” blood transfusion it needed.

Carrer’s mouth-watering directorial approach provides an absolutely sumptuous yet intensely agonising elegy of the underlying psychosocial impact of traumatic, life-changing events. Not only that, but The Demolisher provides one hell of an unexpected denouement, bringing even more deliberations to the table. Most revenge flicks have a penchant for all things gritty, action-packed and violent and whilst The Demolisher has plenty of all of the above, those looking for a more contemplative revenge ride have got one hell of a film to look forward to. (My full review here) Watch the trailer for The Demolisher.


The Hallow: Corin Hardy
A family who move into a remote millhouse in Ireland find themselves in a fight for survival with demonic creatures living in the woods.

Corin Hardy’s directorial debut will have genre fans hollering for more as he and co-writer Felipe Marino ramp up the tension to palpitation levels, transforming folklore and fairy-tales into a thing of bed-sweating nightmares. Clearly inspired by the old school effects of Ray Harryhausen and monster movies ranging from Alien, The Thing through to Evil Dead 2, creature feature connoisseurs will have a field day with this one thanks to the stunning work put in by British special effects wizard John Nolan. Watch the trailer for The Hallow.


Turbo Kid: Anouk Whissell, François Simard, Yoann-Karl Whissell
In a post-apocalyptic future, THE KID, a young solitary scavenger obsessed with comic books must face his fears and become a reluctant hero when he meets a mysterious girl named APPLE. Armed with little more than blind faith and an ancient turbocharged weapon, THE KID learns of justice and friendship and embarks on an incredible journey to rid the Wasteland of evil and save the girl of his dreams.

If you thought the recent post-apocalyptic humdingers Mad Max: Fury Road and Wyrmwood were all kinds of bonkers and all kinds of awesome Turbo Kid is all set to prove that it’s actually GOOD luck that comes in threes. The directing/writing trio, gonzo splatter-meisters François Simard, Anouk Whissell and Yoan-Karl Whissell have concocted a cult gem waiting to happen by pushing their BMX pedals to the metal to provide a slew of blood-soaked slaughter and seriously wigged-out yet winsome characters. (My review here)
Watch the Turbo Kid trailer.


We are Still Here: Ted Geoghegan
In the cold, wintery fields of New England, a lonely old house wakes up every thirty years – and demands a sacrifice.

We Are Still Here could have gone down the same old, same old supernatural road as so many others but Geoghegan cleverly keeps things fresh with his shrewdly devised characters, stellar performances and plenty of unorthodox twists that will keep you guessing right up to a climax that’ll knock you sideways. Fifteen years in the movie business has clearly rubbed off on this first-time director as he’s certainly come up with one of the most unique supernatural yarns of the last few years. (My review here) Watch the trailer for We Are Still Here.


Short Films

I’ve had the pleasure of also catching a few short films which will be screening at this year’s festival and these particular two come with my wholehearted recommendation:


La hora del baño (Bathtime): Eduardo Casanova
This pitch-black and absolutely unhinged tale of the terrors of becoming a parent finds a young couple, played by Macarena Gomez (Shrew’s Nest) and Gonzalo Kindelán, experiencing all the symptoms everyone tells you about. Countless sleepless (and sexless) nights have just about taken their toll and, with some hilarious use of gore, pornography, horror and a touch of the melodramatics, La hora del baño shows just how far a couple is capable of going to revive their moribund marriage. Watch the trailer for La Hora Del Bano (Bathtime).


Portal to Hell!!! Vivieno Caldinelli
Portal to Hell!!! sees Roddy Piper retracing his bubblegum chewing steps to take one last stand against evil, this time pitted against the Dark Lord himself, Cthulhu. The mere thought of a return to his Carpenter glory days surely piques everyone’s excitement, right? This is definitely the lifeblood behind director Vivieno Caldinelli and scribe Matt Watts’ motivations for creating such a nostalgia-oozing short. A feature length version is in the works and if this short is the taste of things to come then we are all in for a non-stop riotous ride to hell. It was always going to be heart-warming to see the late, great Piper back in John Carpenter mode for one last time and I’m sure he’s up there somewhere feeling prouder than proud of this extraordinary parting gift he’s left for us all to cherish time and again. (My full review here) Watch the trailer for Portal To Hell.

Words: Howard Gorman (@HowardGorman)

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