Flatpack Film Festival 2015: Edwardian Horror Show

21 Mar

Flatpack

One of the first attractions of the packed roster that is the 9th incarnation of Flatpack Film Festival, Edwardian Horror Show was done in partnership with the Birmingham Museums and held in the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, fittingly enough in the Edwardian tea rooms to help further fuel our imaginations in the audience.

I was already in a minor panic on my way there but nothing horror related, well unless you can call train delays a horror show which I believe you can. As will likely be a common occurrence over the next two weeks I was left to sprint to the Museum for fear of missing out on this one night event. Luckily I made it just in time as the long queue to get in just started going in as I reached it.

Everyone was excited to see what an Edwardian Horror Show looked like.

The Gallery & the Tea Rooms

On entry to the gallery on the way to the tea rooms we were treated to strange additions to the normal offerings of the Birmingham Art Gallery including dolls, severed arms and noises that can only be described as ethereal. I'm honestly not sure if I've been to this particular museum before but it was certainly a different experience to be in one at night and with such strange decour.

The tea rooms were packed as couples, families (yes it was a family friendly affair!), and groups young & old settled in for this unique show.

In fact there were so many of them I struggled to find a good seat (after I waited in line to get some food and beer).

Paul Shallcross & the Films

All of the films that were introduced by Paul Shallcross had previously been shown at the Abertoir Festival in Wales which is unsurprisingly a festival of horror. The scores originally commissioned for that festival accompanied the films tonight as well played magnificently by Paul taking us on a musical & emotional journey.

In the interludes Sugarfoot Stomp set the mood with musical offerings which couldn't have been chosen better. The crowd was positively a buzz with excitement before the shorts started and during the breaks.

The films that were shown all had PG ratings which is down to the strict censorship that films had at the time they were done. Film makers had a difficult and long road to get to where they are with horror today, so much so that what was considered horror in Edwardian times is almost comical by todays standards. As Paul rightly pointed out there is an element of make do to the way films were shot from the props that were used, the shots that are recycled and the editing & reshooting of shots that doesn't happen because they couldn't afford to!

In total there were 5 films shown:

The Black Pearl (1908, France)
Frankenstein (1910, USA)
Le Spectre Rouge (1907, France)
The Jest (1921, UK)
The Haunted House (1920, USA)

Unsurprisingly the films that were my favourites were The Jest and The Haunted House, both being created later in film and having improved filming techniques and narrative structures. However the surprise was that I loved the earliest film shown Le Spectre Rouge. I think this was very much down to the special effects seen in the film. Ground breaking at the time I was fascinated by their ingenuity, especially the miniature women in the bottle and the prediction of television.

I'm glad that I was able to make it to Edwardian Horror Show as it highlights what Flatpack is all about, something different that shows people things they wouldn't have normally seen. I rarely make time for older cinema/TV mainly because I rarely have time, which is why I relish opportunities like this which offer a chance to explore.

There's still many days of Flatpack events to come and I for one am looking forward to it.


La Spectre Rouge


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Trevor Price

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