The opening of the film festival on was heralded by the showing of Nick Murphy’ s BAFTA presented “The Awakening” a period ghost narrative in the same vein as Juan Antonio Bayou’s “The Orphanage”, the film was one of the “bigger” films being shown at the festival and thus the theatre was extremely busy for its screening. Mayhem has a fine record of special guests and for the previous years it has seen the likes of Gareth Edwards, the director of last year’s excellent “Monsters”, and the year before that it was Marc Price the director of “Colin”. This year Mayhem once again had a fine selection of special guests with “The Awakening” being introduced by its co-writer and director Nick Murphy and would later do a Q+A about his film.
These special guests have always been a highlight of the festival for me, it’s pleasant to have films introduced by their directors and the Q+A’s usually offer significant insight into the production and shaping of idea’s that make up the film you have just watched.
The festival grows bigger and bigger each year and this year showed this with the speed of which the film’s screenings sold out. The screenings were a constant buzz of horror aficionado’s, couples looking for a Halloween scare and students.
Another coup for the festival this year was the attendance of Robin Hardy director of the original 1973’s “The Wicker Man” and also the director of 2010’s “The Wicker Tree” which was screened at this year’s Mayhem festival. Robin Hardy like Nick Murphy the previous evening opened the screening with a few choice words; his were “don’t be afraid to laugh” which instantly confirmed the tone of the film and the tone of the whole festival; to enjoy yourself, relax and have a few beers whilst watching horror films with a likeminded audience.
The films of the festival reflected this with films such as Yoshihiro Nishimura’s 2010 “Helldriver” that can be at best described as a film about; Zombie’s with horns which end up morphing together into a giant Godzilla like zombie, which then proceed to fight missiles and then somehow morph with the missiles to create a sort-of flying zombie jet. Other examples of the films that exemplify the laid-back attitude of the festival is the pick of its yearly “Scary Shorts!” which was a short film called “Banana Motherf*ckers” which literally ended with tears of laughter from the audience.
Another element of the festival this year was the non-film related events which included “Hacksaw!” a deadly laser maze in which participants of the festival were tasked to climb through in an attempt to get the best time and win a prize. The festival was littered with these smaller sideshows which although weren’t the main focus of the festival they did infact add to its enjoyment.
Once again this year the festivals directors have created an enjoyable weekend of gore, thrills and scares.