Frightfest, the UK’s premier horror film festival, is no stranger to showing self-referential horror films. This year however, it became meta itself with a screening of Cult of Terror (Culto al Terror). A film about horror movie fandom that features Frightfest and its curator Alan Jones.
Argentinian horror fan Gustavo Mendoza’s documentary explores the ever growing world of fandom within the horror and fantasy movie genre, asking what draws us as a species to the morbid and the macabre. This fascination with confronting our fears – to face death within the safety of a darkened cinema screen and emerge unscathed at the other end – is universal and transcends any potential barriers of language, race, ethnicity, etc.
This is evident as Mendoza travels the world to visit festivals such as Sitges and Frightfest that celebrate the genre and talk with the filmmakers and fans for whom this is their true passion.
Speaking to fans from Brazil, Argentina, America, United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, it is the same films again and again that are mentioned as the ones that terrified them the most. The Exorcist, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Cannibal Holocaust for example.
Mendoza manages to speak with an impressive selection of industry talking heads (thankfully not severed ones) including Robert Englund, Ruggero Deodato and a running joke where he keeps filming Bruce Campbell at conventions without getting him to sign a release to appear in the film.
It isn’t a case of rounding up the usual suspects however. The majority of the film’s running time is spent in the company of the Spanish and Latin community. This provides UK horror fans with an opportunity to discover a host of new films and filmmakers to terrify them.
Cult of Terror is not the slickest and most polished of documentaries but in a world where the best horror movies are cheap, nasty affairs, it is the perfect reflection and tribute to the genre.
DIRECTOR: Gustavo Mendoza
STARS: Robert Englund, Barbara Crampton, Ruggero Deodato
RUNTIME: 114 minutes