Hey, remember when we sent Louise to Sheffield Doc/Fest where she watched so many documentaries that her internal monologue was an earnest talking head for the next three weeks? Well this year we’ve sent the boy Eddy Baker to Celluloid Screams. Read on to find out how Eddy’s internal monologue was affected by four days of horror films and lashings and lashings of poutine.
Celluloid Screams is a horror film festival hosted every October at the Showroom Cinema in Sheffield.
Mates, it is brilliant. I’ve been to the odd screenings in previous years, but last year was the first time that I bought a full festival pass and did pretty much the whole thing. It was an incredible experience: two full days (plus one opening night) of films variously spooky, creepy, yucky, gory, silly, chilling and thrilling. A sort of mass hysteria crept in by the end of the weekend, everyone delusional from endless horror, the air thick with the aroma of fear (and farts). I knew I had to attend 2018’s festival.
This would be an emotional return to a city I left earlier this year in order to move to Belfast. Sheffield - and the Showroom in particular - will always represent a huge part of my life: attending Celluloid Screams 2017 was a perfect, beautiful weekend of lunacy and insomnia. For 2018’s festival, an extra day was added to the programme, meaning that Thursday and Friday evening screenings would lead us into the full weekend of madness.
What follows is a chronology of four days of too little sleep, too much alcohol, and buckets of blood. This is going to be really long, so best make yourself a brew and get settled in.
1 pm - 2 pm
Like an absolute tragic case, I was the very first person to collect their festival pass on Thursday. With passes available from 1 pm, there I was at 12:57, lurking by the festival desk while boxes were still being unpacked and tables being set up. The state of me.
This happened because I was bored of mooching around town waiting to check into my hotel. Which was the Jury’s Inn, since you asked. Staying a stone’s throw from the Rutland Arms, my favourite pub in the world? I’ll have a rather large slice of that, thank you very much.
2 pm - 4 pm
Checked into my hotel, waved my willy about a bit (standard), did some exercise, had a nap.
4 pm - 8 pm
There’s a three-to-four hour section of time here where I went to the Rutland Arms to catch up with some friends. Not much to report, it was a bit boozy really, so what you should do here is sort of imagine Ocean Colour Scene’s ‘Hundred Mile City’ playing in your head, and then squint and rock about a bit so that everything goes blurry and mental. That’s a fair representation of the sort of ABSOLUTE LAD BEHAVIOUR that went down during this window of time.
Onto some films:
(A note at this point: there were 1-2 shorts before every feature, but I can’t be bothered to write about all of them. I will probably do a bit at the end just to talk about a few. Probably. Consider this the real ‘dramatic tension’ of the piece. Will he remember to write about the shorts? WHO KNOWS. Nail-biting stuff.)
8 pm - 10 pm
Mandy was absolutely mint and you should go and see it in a cinema, preferably one with a huge sound system because the soundtrack is truly excellent. As is its general sense of bad-acid-trip, pulsating unease. Sensational stuff. It seemed most of the audience in the screening hated the film, but they are of course all wrong and idiots.
Also, can we talk about the Nicolas Cage thing? It seems most people’s excitement for the film was based on Cage’s late-career rebirth as a hilarious and wacky meme, and I just can’t get on board the lolz-train. When the audience were pissing themselves at one scene where his character, Red, is screaming madly with grief, I wanted to shout, “STOP THIS. YOU ARE ALL ENJOYING THE FILM WRONG”.
Oh god, I’m the dickhead here, aren’t I?
10 pm - Midnight
I can’t remember what happened during this period of time. But it was probably some ABSOLUTE LAD BEHAVIOUR.
(I hung out in the Showroom bar with some pals, then I bought a big milky coffee to keep me awake through the next film.)
Midnight - 2 am
Halloween was a surprisingly competent effort, a film which sets itself up as a direct sequel to Carpenter’s original, ignoring every other film in the franchise but the first. Which is a smart move, because they are all shit.
It was niftily done, one of those slasher movies that just gets the simple stuff right. But there were two problems during this film. One: a certain portion of the audience were a bit too well lubricated at this point in the evening, and insisted on shouting out some truly unfunny, heinous patter during some of the film’s tensest moments. Two: the milky coffee was a bad idea, and I spent the entire final third of the film in fear of a loud coffee fart honking its way out of my bum during a suspenseful scene. I suppose, in some way, that really added to the tension of the film.
A lovely day! The films weren’t on until the evening, so my best pal Emma took me on an outing to a secret location. This turned out to be The Deep in Hull , where we looked at a metric fuck-tonne of fish. I bought various items of shark-based tat from the actually-very-excellent gift shop. Then we came back to Sheffield and ate piles of fried chicken at Lucky Fox. Top day 10/10 A*** would experience again.
The evening’s films were:
6:30 pm - 9 pm
What Keeps You Alive was really good I’m told, but I didn’t see it because my pal and I were still having our tea at that point. Friends who were in the screening reported that festival director Rob Nevitt turned up beforehand to give the audience a sound bollocking for their behaviour the night before. I was able to witness him do much the same a day later, because people are dreadful.
9 pm - 11 pm
Knife + Heart was about gay porn film-makers, and a sadistic killer who bumps them off one cast member at a time. I loved it. A real sense of time and place, a fun ensemble cast and some brutal kills. Vanessa Paradis was brilliant and the gay content was just... *Italian chef kiss*. The only weak point was a sense of anticlimax towards the end, as we drove towards the inevitable discovery of the killer and their backstory.
***FROG VORE INTERLUDE***
Sorry for the interruption, but I need to talk about vore.
There was a short which played before Knife + Heart, called Maw. It was wonderfully creepy and dealt with the concept of vore, which is a kink in which people are excited by the idea of being swallowed whole by something - usually a giant person or a massive animal.
Now. I’m not into this myself (he protested), but I did learn about it in my favourite podcast, the Scottish grot-fest that is 2 Good Boys. I immediately told all my friends about vore. This is because one of the best things about vore is that there’s no real way to enact it, so most people express their interest via DeviantArt illustrations of their fantasies. Let me share some of my favourites:
Frog Vore (from https://www.deviantart.com/canime/art/Frog-Vore-WIP-46827770)
Jabba the Hutt Vore (from https://www.deviantart.com/bennyboy2001/art/Jabba-s-Appetite-2-584614940)
And one from me:
Ooft. Is that a tinglin’ a’ goin’ on downstairs?
11 pm - 11:40 pm
Did a big wee, got a pint, wondered if I’d be able to stay awake for the next film.
11:40 pm - 2 am
Nightmare Cinema was a piece of shit. A fucking piece of shit! It’s an anthology film featuring five shorts from various directors, with a connecting thread about a spooky projectionist in a haunted cinema tying it all together. Mickey Rourke played the projectionist, in a series of link-up scenes so half-baked that Paul Hollywood would have poked at them and tutted disapprovingly
One of the stories was a morality tale about plastic surgery. This finished, the film then returning - with no self-awareness whatsoever - to the sight of Mickey Rourke’s giant walnut landslide of a face. And the big pay-off ending to tie all five stories together? Rourke, gesturing to the full cast of characters (who were now all sat in his cinema), and revealing: “They’re all dead”. That was it.
I’m sorry, The Crescent but it was breakfast time and your UK premiere was not going to stop me filling my tum with excellent food. My buddy Cory and I went to HowSt on Howard Street (see what they did there) for one of the best posh fry-ups I’ve ever had. We spent the entire time fawning and cooing over our food, and repeatedly telling the staff in the cafe how great it was. What a pair of complete bell-ends.
12:30 - 2:30 PM
Tigers Are Not Afraid was a heavy film about little kids being orphaned by drug cartels - essentially a skint knee film with a message. The young cast were phenomenal, and it was unbearably tense at times. It went on to win the audience award of the festival, and very well deserved. I can’t say anything funny or mean about it, really. ONWARDS!
3 pm - 6:20 pm
I skipped the Monster Squad documentary, Wolfman’s Got Nards, so I could go and drink lovely beer in the lovely Rutland Arms. A good time was had. Start playing that Ocean Colour Scene song in your head again. Honestly. ABSOLUTE LAD BEHAVIOUR.
6:20 pm - 9 PM
Wellington Paranormal is a spin-off series following the two cops from What We Do In The Shadows. It was very funny, although I did fall asleep during one of the six episodes being screened. ABSOLUTE DAD BEHAVIOUR.
Later on I met one of the stars, Karen O’Leary and drunkenly told her “I really like that thing you were just in”, because I forgot the name of the show and honestly just thinking about this now is making my body turn inside out with embarrassment.
9:40 pm - 11:30 pm
Assassination Nation was my film of the festival. It tells the story of four teenage girls in a small town in middle-America, who find themselves the centre of a moral firestorm following a series of personal data leaks. What seems initially to be a cautionary tale about social media use evolves into a brutal evisceration of toxic masculinity, rape culture and Trumpism. Razor-sharp dialogue cuts effortlessly through a myriad of contemporary issues with intelligence and wit, and the whole thing builds to a fiery, fists-in-the-air finale. I don’t think any film drew a bigger crowd response, and deservedly so. This film is at once cathartic and vitally important, a battle-cry at a time when it feels like nothing short of armed revolt can defeat a resurgence of sexism, abuse and fascism.
Midnight - 2 pm
It’s time for...CELLULOID SCREAMS SECRET FILM!!
The secret film of the festival was....
A man flees a deranged killer in the woods, all while on the phone to his kooky horror-film-guru pal, played by Alyson Hannigan. She then talks him through all the horror movie tropes, helping him to get through the ordeal based on her own encyclopedic knowledge. The main twist being that he’s the killer. Oooooooh!
As nice as it is to see Hannigan back onscreen, her presence as a sort of floating narrator only emphasised how she’d clearly just got all her scenes done in one day. The rest of the film just felt lifeless and flat, for me, and I found its wink-wink knowingness smug and boring rather than postmodern or witty.
10 am - Noon
Possum was utter nightmare fuel. Don’t go into this expecting it’ll be a comedy just because Matt Holness (Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) directs. It’s a slow-paced, unbearably creepy tale about a strange loner and his terrifying, possibly-alive arachnoid puppet. Part of me did wonder if this would have worked equally well as a 20 minute short, as its slow pace does begin to drag towards the end. Nonetheless, one of the most genuinely unsettling films of the weekend and I cannot wait for Holness’ next film.
2 pm - 5:30 PM
Skipped the 80s retro-fest Summer Of 84 so I could go to, you guessed it, the Rutland Arms. Ate their excellent take on poutine. Talked to people about vore.
5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. Oh, my. A corny, badly acted D-grade gorefest featuring Nazi puppets, horribly-judged holocaust references, and shockingly poor production design.
At various points this film was so offensive as to transcend the notion of offense itself. In some ways, there was stuff in here to like. For every dialogue exchange that seemed woefully misjudged, there was a belly-laugher of a line (“Oh shit. It’s Junior Fuhrer”). And some of the kills showed fantastic imagination paired with great gore effects. My favourite was a recently-decapitated man doing a piss on his own head, which had fallen into the toilet bowl. There was one particular death scene that had jaws dropping from the sheer audacity and bad taste.
But overall the lingering sense was one of a film that, like its edgelord puppet antagonists, has not quite been put together right. The lead actor was one of the biggest charisma vacuums ever put on a screen, and the film was badly let down by some technical faults, such as a total absence during some scenes of any foley, background noise or incidental music. Absolutely one for the stoner cult movie market.
8 pm - 10 pm
Cam reminded me of Assassination Nation in its depiction of what felt like a very real and plausible situational horror. In this assured, brilliantly paced chiller, a cam-girl finds her channel taken over by what appears to be a doppelganger. What this film does so well is to present her lifestyle entirely without judgement, and then to gradually escalate the creep factor without ever puncturing believability. A fantastic performance from Madeline Brewer (The Handmaid’s Tale) means we’re with her every step of the way, and the film provided my only moment of genuine squeamishness across the whole weekend.
10:30 pm - Midnight
Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Bliss By Passing Through the Gateway Chosen By the Holy Storsh. Ha ha ha! Look at that long and wacky title! Ha ha ha! This is so mad! Ha ha ha! The couple in this film play hand-clapping games with each other! How cute and luvvelly wuvvelly wiggly wooooo! Ha ha ha!
This film was not for me. An incredibly twee film, despite being about a suicide cult whose followers routinely kill themselves in the bathtub of confused couple Claire and Paul. Aside from a few admittedly very funny monologue scenes, I found it hard to get on with this, and overall found it a really strange film to be closing the festival with. But no matter, because to follow this final film was.....
Midnight - 3:30ish
As is Celluloid Screams tradition, there was karaoke in the Showroom Bar until kicking-out time in the early hours. Things got too drunk and hazy for narrative prose, my dudes, but I made some quick bullet point notes in my phone:
Some lad just smashed a Britney song, absolutely incredible
Cory showed me a video on his phone of a man doing a poo from a crawling position and I laughed so hard I was streaming tears, to the point that a friend saw me and thought I was genuinely crying about something
Bohemian Rhapsody is a banger though, isn’t it? It is, though. I mean, fuck Queen, but Bohemian Rhapsody? Banger. (Editor’s note: Other Queen opinions are available.)
The film festival was over. My visiting pals departed for their train home, everyone else was back at work, and I found myself with a day in Sheffield to kill. What did I do?
I walked around feeling impossibly sad, that’s what. In fairness, this can only have been a combination of post festival blues, lack of sleep, a raging hangover and glimpsed memories of Mickey Rourke’s fire-damaged Fraggle Rock face. It didn’t help that every cafe I went into seemed to have entered into a collective pact to play only sad songs for the duration of the day.
To cheer myself up, I went to the excellent Steam Yard to have one of their famous decadent donuts. While I was there, some bloke scaled the fire escape ladder and pratted about on the roof while loads of people shouted at him angrily. I pretended to think it was post-modern performance art and nodded thoughtfully.
The rest of my day was spent in continued blues mode, although later on I got to Doncaster Airport and was pleased to see their Wetherspoons staff were keeping the Halloween spirit real:
So that’s nice, isn’t it?
I’ll see you next year, Celluloid Screams!
Short Films Roundup
A quick round-up of my faves. Seek them out, I’m sure many will be available on YouTube (please, though, legally-uploaded versions only):
A wonderfully simple premise: ‘What if it rained corrosive acid’. Executed to perfection - I was on edge the entire time. My favourite short of the festival.
A weird little camp goblin puppet-man welcomes us to his home, while making lots of allusions to blowjobs. Hysterically funny: I took an embarrassingly long time to regain my composure after this one.
Won the audience award for best short. A black hair salon in gentrified Brooklyn finds itself under siege from affluent white kids trying to appropriate their hair styles. All together now: “BRAAAAAIDS”
A lad finds out he’s into vore, hooks up with a man who apparently owns a massive secret gobble-monster. Disturbing, atmospheric, and very weird.
Peep Show’s Isy Suttie leads in this hilarious tale of a bride who awakes on her wedding day to discover a tiny little grumpy face growing out of her neck. A fun little comedy-horror with some great performances throughout.
Tha Knows Twitter
Tha Knows Things
Tha Knows Music
Tha Knows Tags
- a man in a bin
- Adrenalin Rockers
- Aesop Rock
- Alcatraz ER
- American Ninja 2
- Arrowman Smashed-Face
- BAE Systems
- Beds are Burning by Midnight Oil
- billy woods
- Black Bomb A
- Boris Johnson
- Captain America's Vintage Motorcycle
- Carach Angren
- CeCe McDonald
- Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town
- Command and Control
- Cowboy Music
- crazy doctor
- Daniel Hannan
- David Cameron
- David Davis
- David Icke
- Delabole Lostwithiel
- Edward Snowden
- EmmaRuth Rundle
- End of Days Events
- Eric Dubay
- EU Referendum Deathmatch
- Evan Seinfeld
- Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen
- Flying Doctors
- Gordon Ramsey
- Green Screen
- Harold Shipman
- Hazel Rendlescroft-Marvey
- Human diarrhea splatter
- Iain Duncan Smith
- Interview Roulette
- Manuel Gagneux
- Marina Celeste
- Melty Admiral Ackbar Looking-ass Bin-licker
- My Scientology Movie
- Nigel Farage
- Nigel Farage's magic Nazi plane
- Nina Simone
- Onry Ozzborn
- Open Mike Eagle
- Polar Bears Making Love
- Pomodoro Method
- Ralf Gyllenhammer
- Return of the Living Dead 3
- Robot Ninja
- Rock Boyz
- Rupert Murdoch
- Saltash Zennor
- Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers
- sexy nurse
- Signor Benedick The Moor
- Signor Benedick the Moor
- Storyboard P
- Terrible as the Dawn
- That bloke's mum
- The Big Chest
- The Chart Show
- The Dolantasaurus
- The Everymen
- The Veldt
- Zeal & Ardor