The Sunday Spiritual: Together In The Dark

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One last thing, before I let Frightfest go for another year. Many people would balk at the prospect of spending five days in a cinema watching horror films. I’ll admit, I’ve only ever done a single full day, and that very nearly wiped me out.

But of course, Frightfest is not just about the films. Because it’s impossible to watch everything on offer, you simply have to take a break, get a drink, have a chat. There are seminars, Q&As, quizzes and plenty of opportunities to meet up with film-makers and like-minded fans. If anything, the extra-curricular activity is as much the point to Frightfest as the movies. It’s the community that’s built up around the love of the genre that makes this festival so special. The fabled Sleepy Queue, when the hardcore stake their claim on the weekend seats, usually forms in the early hours of the morning before the tickets go on sale. That has to tell you something about the attraction of Frightfest.

I will always try to make the effort to see at least a couple of films with the Frightfest crowd. Seeing horror with a bunch of people that love and appreciate the genre with all it’s foibles and eccentricities always makes for a more interesting experience. Seeing a good horror film with the Frightfest crowd is a genuine pleasure that I don’t think you get from any other type of film. Going to the cinema is, like any other communal experience, a heightened state of mind. I believe you get more out of a film when you see it on a big screen with a like-minded audience. At Frightfest, that feeling is amped up still further. It’s not just about the film. It’s about the audience, the gathering, the congregation. Together in the dark, loving the ride.

A Walthamstow Story (or two)

They say that you’re at least partly a product of your environment. Walthamstow, which marks the transition from East London into Essex, is the place I was born, spent a huge chunk of my most formative years, and made a home with TLC until we moved west in 2004. It’s a place that still fills me with mixed feelings, nostalgia mixed in with a sadness that the place has never really lived up to it’s potential. For a while, it was also the setting for some of my short stories. And Then I Woke Up is a Walthamstow tale, and so is the one below. They’re both pretty unpleasant. I’m not sure you can read anything into that.

The story I’m about to tell you features two of the ‘Stow’s most recognisable features – The High Street, one of the longest in Europe, and the old, grade 2 listed cinema. It’s now referred to as the EMD, but when I went it was called the ABC, and when my mum and dad used to go, it was the Granada. It’s been a fixture of the cultural life of my family for at least two generations then. The way it’s been treated over the past few years simply breaks my heart.

Read more about the cinema and the fight to save it at The Macguffins site.

Now, please to enjoy your Tale For Monday: a nasty little vignette that I call

SINGLES NIGHT AT THE ENGRAMART

(Advisory. I wrote this. There are swears and gore.)

Continue reading A Walthamstow Story (or two)