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Perth Horror Film Festival at The Backlot

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Film festival is scream dream for horror fans

Do you love horror films? Maybe it's the adrenalin rush or perhaps it's the alternative realities such as zombie outbreaks or alien infestations? There's also a morbid fascination with the dark side of the human psyche. Whatever the reason, fans of the genre are in for some good news – the first annual Perth Horror Film Festival is ready to engage you in plenty of fear, suspense and terror with a variety of popular movies and independent shorts.

From August 19 to 21, the Perth Horror Fans (a group for the horror freaks and geeks of Perth, according to Facebook) are taking over The Backlot Perth for three days of terrifying chills, bloody deaths and audience screams. Perth Horror Fans director Vanessa Gudgeon said the festival had been curated by genre fans – for genre fans.

"The program showcases the incredible talents of local horror and science-fiction short filmmakers, paired with classic feature films that are rarely screened in Australia," she said. "There are lots of prizes being given away across the three days. Audience members are able to have their say by voting for their pick of best short film.

"Voting cards will be available upon entry and the winner will be announced via social media at the end of the festival with the winning filmmaker also receiving an award. The goal of the award is to inspire filmmakers to uphold the standards of genre filmmaking in WA, while still being given the freedom to make the films they want. We will also have some wicked artworks on display throughout the festival by Stygian Industries."

So what's in store at the Perth Horror Film Festival? Check out the program below:

Opening night (Friday, August 19, 6.30pm start):
• The Saint, directed by Jay Jay Jegathesan.
Summary: Where does the border lie? That line in life's shadowlands between heroism and a plunge into the abyss? On an ordinary night, in a regular park, Mark Theo Carter will find himself confronting it. Watch. Judge. Beware.

• Aversion, directed by Aaron Kamp.
Summary: Trapped in an isolated 19th century mansion, seven individuals must overcome their phobias if they are to survive the night.

• The Growth, directed by Alex Winner.
Summary: An out-of-luck married couple's life improves when they find out the husband falls pregnant – however, things aren't as good as they seem when he gets a wrong diagnosis.

Perth Horror Film Festival, Perth Horror Fans, The Backlot, films, movies, cinema, suspense, The Exorcist, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, House of Wax
Actor Maggie Meyer in The Growth.

• Hitched, directed by Dylan Tilbury.
Summary: A young woman. An old man… and a night drive to remember.

• Don't Play in the Catnip, directed by JRL Jones.
Summary: Cassie's busy day always ends in a nice cup of tea and an early night, but then why is she waking to a conflicted memory?

• Feature presentation: House of Wax (1953), directed by Andr้ De Toth.
Summary: An associate burns down a wax museum with the owner inside, but he survives only to become vengeful and murderous. Featuring famed horror actor Vincent Price, House of Wax was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" by the US Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the US National Film Registry.

Perth Horror Film Festival, Perth Horror Fans, The Backlot, films, movies, cinema, suspense, The Exorcist, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, House of Wax

Saturday, August 20, 6.30pm start – Finding Horror in Science-Fiction:
• The Hacker, directed by Hugh Buttsworth.
Summary: While awaiting diagnosis on a possible outbreak of the Latent X virus, a man modifies his android to relieve the boredom.

• As Above So Below, directed by Emile M. Smith.
Summary: A journey from the outward and external, abandoning the earthly abode to enter the celestial spheres of the mind...

• Sisyphus, directed by Alex Montanari.
Summary: A formative moment in Caleb's childhood leads him on a lifelong journey to find the edge of the universe.

• Feature presentation: The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), directed by Val Guest.
Summary: When the US and Soviet Union unwittingly test atomic bombs at the same time, it alters Earth's nutation (axis of rotation). Featuring Leo McKern, many years before he found fame in Rumpole of the Bailey.

Writing for the now-defunct, Doug Cummings described The Day the Earth Caught Fire as "an unusually literate and thematically nuanced genre film. The disaster genre is not generally known for its insights into characters or its clever dialogue but The Day the Earth Caught Fire is an admirable exception. Its attention to the inner and outer lives of its protagonists makes its physical doom an externalised metaphor for [main character] Stenning's personal life, off-kilter and spinning out of control, both fates equally weighted between hope and despair."

Final night (Sunday, August 21, 1.30pm start):
• Corvus, directed by Kyra Shennan.
Summary: Corvus is the story of a small coastal town with a reputation for misfortune. The Australian-gothic "dramedy" follows the perspective of three young Corvus residents – Persephone the tactless wallflower, Charlie the aloof gun shop clerk and Siobhan, the vivacious newcomer.

Perth Horror Film Festival, Perth Horror Fans, The Backlot, films, movies, cinema, suspense, The Exorcist, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, House of Wax
A scene from the short film Corvus.

• Meat, directed by Chantelle Lucas.
Summary: After a traumatising breakup, a struggling woman tries to find solace at a motel. But she gets more than she bargained for when consent is broken and is pushed to her limits. How far can you push a woman until she snaps?

• Slice, directed by Anthony Chila.
Summary: A brother and sister who are not who they seem to be…

• Tranceclipse, directed by Rakib Erick.
Summary: An exploration of one man's nightmare.

• Don't go into the Basement, directed by Michael Thomas.
Summary: After Wendy journeys into the basement, eager to help her PTSD-suffering brother living there, she finds he may be too far gone – and now she must fight for her own survival.

• Feature presentation: The Exorcist (1973), directed by William Friedkin.
Summary: When a 12-year-old girl, played by Linda Blair, is possessed by a mysterious entity, her mother seeks the help of two priests to save her.

Blair received a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award nomination for her role while the film itself scored nine other Oscar nominations, winning best sound and best screenplay based on material from another medium (it was based on novel of the same name). Regarded as one of the greatest horror films ever made, The Exorcist is another that was selected for preservation in US National Film Registry.

Tickets for the 2022 Perth Horror Film Festival range from $15 to $17.50 – visit the Perth Horror Fans website for more details. You can also keep up-to-date with all the latest on the festival via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.

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Why? It’s a curation of some wonderful short local films and absolute classics dedicated to the horror genre, put together by a group of passionate fans.
When: 6.30pm August 19 & 20, 1.30pm August 21
Where: The Backlot, 21 Simpson Street, West Perth
Cost: Tickets range from $15 to $17.50
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