In Dreams Are Monsters is a major BFI UK-wide film and events season celebrating the horror genre on screen, taking place from 1 October to 31 December in cinemas nationwide, at BFI Southbank (from 17 October to 31 December), BFI IMAX, on BFI Player and with a tie-in major BFI Blu-ray release. It is supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and the ICO.
In Dreams Are Monsters coincides with two big screen horror re-releases, both of which will be screening at BFI Southbank. It’s the 40th anniversary of Tobe Hooper’s all-time horror classic Poltergeist (1982) and the 20th anniversary of Alejandro Amenábar’s double BAFTA nominated The Others (2002), which features a chilling performance from Nicole Kidman.
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In Dreams Are Monsters is a fresh, inventive and inclusive take on the horror genre tracing how the imagery of nightmare has been created through film, and how stories of monsters have always been political. Through five mythical horror archetypes – the beast, ghost, vampire, witch and zombie – In Dreams Are Monsters explores how these monstrous bodies have been represented on screen over the last hundred years and how they have been reclaimed by new voices in horror filmmaking.
Each archetype doesn’t so much inform a subgenre as it does a taste for horror; whether it be the creatures that lurk in the shadows, or those that come from within, the beasts of cinema are our darkest fears made flesh. The witch threatens the patriarchy with her alternative, gendered power: her magic and sexuality destabilise the masculinist social order. The ghost embodies the silenced classes: a domestic sign of broader, social horrors taking place. Vampires, the most seductive of monster archetypes, blur the lines between horror, action, eroticism and romance, while the zombie is the most overtly politicised of all cinematic monsters, a rotting blank canvas for social commentary.
In Dreams Are Monsters promises something for everyone, the horror aficionado as well as the horror novice: tales of blood and seduction; of glorious, excessive gore; of teenagers turned monstrous and of the dead risen and angry.
In Dreams Are Monsters represents a genuinely inclusive and diverse range of voices, with highlights from the BFI Southbank programme including a Halloween double bill celebrating the work of queer writer/director Clive Barker. A 35th anniversary screening of his deliciously debauched directorial debut Hellraiser (1987) introduced by actors Nicholas Vince and Simon Bamford with BFI governor and curator of The Clive Barker Archive, Phil Stokes, will play alongside director’s cut of Barker’s singular second feature as director, Nightbreed (1990). A screening of Let the Right One In (2008) will be preceded by a discussion on trans representation within the genre in partnership with Trans on Screen, and a selection of Queer Horror and Experimental Magic Films, drawn from the BFI National Archive, will screen as part of BFI Southbank’s Experimenta strand.
There is also a triple bill of landmark Black vampire horror classics – a 50th anniversary screening of William Crain’s Blacula (1972), Bill Gunn’s Ganja & Hess (1973) and James Bond III’s Def by Temptation (1990), plus screenings of Bernard Rose’s original Candyman (1992), Jordan Peele’s modern alternative zombie film Us (2019). A rare screening of legendary Black horror filmmaker Richard C Kahn’s Son of Ingagi (1940) will be followed by a panel discussion on the history of Black horror, as well as from the wider African diaspora the world premiere of Clarence A. Peters’ thrilling new Nigerian drama series Inside Life, which is screening as part of film festival Film Africa 2022, and Mati Diop’s multi award-winning beguiling and haunting love story Atlantics (2019), merging contemporary issues of global inequality and the refugee crisis with themes of spiritual possession.
The BFI Southbank programme includes well-loved classic monsters such as Frankenstein (1931), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) in 3D, David Cronenberg’s vision of The Fly (1986), A Nightmare on Elm Street’s (1984) iconic vengeful villain Freddy Krueger, Ringu’s (1998) vengeful spirit as well as George A. Romero’s beloved zombie hordes Day of the Dead (1985). Lesser-seen gems include the nightmarish imagery of Russian witch horror Viy (1967), Mexican folk horror La llorona (1960), Japanese zombies running amok in One Cut of the Dead (2017), ghostly home invasion horror The Entity (1982) and Bruce McDonald’s fun take on the zombie trope Pontypool (2008). The season also includes remarkable debuts such as Babak Anvari’s supernatural Iran-Iraq war horror Under the Shadow (2016), Guillermo del Toro’s Cronos (1993), Agnieszka Smoczynska’s Polish mermaid horror The Lure (2015) and Liam Gavin’s Welsh spine chilling occult horror A Dark Song (2016).
Special guests from the world of film and television will take part in events throughout the season. Guests confirmed for BFI Southbank so far, with more to be announced, include:
- Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle will be on-stage for a Q&A following a special 20th anniversary screening of 28 Days Later (2002) with extra special guests to be announced.
- Director Lesley Manning and writer Stephen Volk will join the BFI Southbank audience for an on-stage Q&A following the immersive 30th anniversary screening of Ghostwatch (1992) presented by Celluloid Screams and Live Cinema UK.
- Award-winning director and cinematographer Clarence A. Peters will be on-stage to present the world premiere of his thrilling new drama television drama series Inside Life (2022) as part of Film Africa 2022.
- Acclaimed author, critic, film programmer, podcaster, publisher and producer Kier-La Janisse, whose influential book House of Psychotic Women was published ten years ago, completes her UK-wide in-conversation tour presented by Matchbox Cine at BFI Southbank, followed by a screening of Andrzej Zulawski’s Possession (1981). The UK tour begins at the Weird Weekend festival at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, and continue with events in Edinburgh, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Cardiff.
The programme also includes an In Dreams Are Monsters edition of Mark Kermode Live In 3D and BFI Southbank regular Adam Buxton will be infecting his live blend of music videos and comedy in a BUG: Video Nasties horror special. There will be a surprise film night with live commentary from horror podcasts Evolution of Horror, Brain Rot and The Final Girls, and the impact and popularity of horror video games will be celebrated with a day of cosplay, gaming and prizes hosted by GamePad.
The BFI IMAX cinema will be transformed into a spooky summer camp for an all-night sleepover in December. Before enjoying a marathon of cabin-themed slasher films on the biggest screen in Britain, audiences will be able to explore an interactive in venue summer camp. F.W. Murnau’s iconic take on Dracula, Nosferatu (1922), plays on the big screen in its centenary year with an introduction from the BFI’s silent film curator Bryony Dixon, along with a centenary screening of Benjamin Christensen’s legendary witches brew Häxan (1922) with live accompaniment. Further contextual events involve discussions around representations of Disability in horror, the “ghost in the machine” of television and modern technology, and a debate over the erotic allure of the monster.
The season will also feature a UK-wide programme of over 35 special events and screenings supported in partnership with the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN) including these four special commissions by leading regional horror festivals and the ICO tour:
- Mayhem Film Festival (Nottingham, 13 to 16 October) is presenting a “Night of the Cat” double bill exploring the mythology of the Bakeneko (monster-cat) which begins with Kaneto Shindo’s Kuroneko (1968) with live score from Nottingham-based artist Yumah and concludes with a 30th anniversary screening of Stephen King’s Sleepwalkers (1992).
- Abertoir (Aberystwyth, 15 to 20 and 25 to 27 November) is presenting a nationwide event celebrating the blaxploitation horror genre in partnership with the Bristol Black Horror Club. A special 50th anniversary screening of Blacula (1972), the first studio-made horror film by a Black director, will be followed by a live panel discussion on the blaxploitation horror genre by guests including the director himself, William Crain, making his first ever UK appearance. The event will be broadcast live via satellite into venues across the UK, to reach audiences nationwide.
- Grimmfest (Manchester, 19 to 20 November) will be working with the MMU Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies to present their Monsters and Movies series of screenings, in-depth Q&As and talks with some of the most important creative minds behind a host of iconic monster movies including a conversation with Neil Marshall about his seminal female-led creature feature The Descent (2005).
- Celluloid Screams (Sheffield, 20 to 23 October) will be working with immersive cinema pioneers Live Cinema UK to present a 30th anniversary live cinema experience of Ghostwatch (1992). Resurrecting the original spirit of the broadcast for a hauntingly-good immersive celebration of the paranormal in Sheffield (21 October, Peddler Warehouse), at BFI Southbank (28 October) and across the UK.
Other UK-wide BFI FAN programme highlights include:
- Chapter (Cardiff) will present a season focusing on “The Monstrous Welsh” and folk horror as a space for exploring identity and representation. The programme will include an event around the use of Welsh language in Saint Maud (2019), with a discussion on “The Treachery of the Blue Books” and the suppression of Welsh language.
- Across October, Ghouls on Film will celebrate the history of witchcraft and folklore at The Black Box (Belfast). A month-long exhibition of work from local artist Triona Doyle will end with a day of folk horror events (30 October) including a Samhain creative market, traditional Irish folk music performance and screenings of The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971)and Robert Eggers’ The Witch (2015).
- As part of the Foyle Film Festival, Nerve Centre (Derry) in partnership with In Your Space Circus will create an immersive cinema experience inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) recreating a teen horror slumber party (26 November).
- Riot Productions will host an All-Nighter Film Festival in Glasgow on the Winter Solstice (21 December). Centered around the “transgressive witch” and its feminist renaissance, the programme will span 100 years of cinema, from Häxan (1922) to Dario Argento’s original Suspiria (1977) alongside a Queer Witch themed club night.
- In the Hebrides, Screen Argyll’s It Came From The Deep will explore local audiences’ complex relationship to the sea. Alongside screenings of Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Bong Joon-ho’s The Host (2006) and Hideo Nakata’s Dark Water (2002) there will be an illustrated talk “Surrounded by Water – Our Elemental Fear” and a monster making workshop.
- On the Halloween weekend Storyhouse (Chester) will create an atmospheric pop-up space at the Carriage Shed, to celebrate the season’s theme. From FW Murnau’s Nosferatu (1922) through to Let the Right One In (2008) and Twilight (2008) Storyhouse examines the vampire figure as a metaphor for deviance, whether sexual, religious, or cultural and for a fear of societal change.
- Abbeydale Picture House (Sheffield) in collaboration with Reel Steel will present a Hammer horror retrospective weekender, accompanied by a free exhibition of original cinema release quad posters from a local cinema historian’s private collection. Halloween weekend will also see a rare 35mm double bill of Candyman (1992) and Hellraiser (1987), accompanied with demonstrations of 35mm projection equipment by the Projected Picture Trust.
- On 27 October, Hull Independent Cinema will host a double bill screening of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) and Nosferatu (1922) at Hull Minster, with live score accompaniment and a panel discussion about the evolution of the vampire on screen and how the figure mirrors real-life anxieties and preoccupations of the time.
- From October to December, Warwick Arts Centre will present Show Me Your Teeth, an exploration of feminism and the representation of women in vampiric tales. The season will include a programme of films from early cinema to contemporary titles and accompanying short films.
- At the Electric (Birmingham), Beauty into Beast: Werewolves, Women & Wild Shapeshifters will explore the evolution of shapeshifting women: how their on screen portrayals and audience perceptions are a reflection of the changing role of women within society and a threat to patriarch, with a programme including live stream Q&As for The Howling (1981) and Ginger Snaps (2000).
- In Oxford, The Ultimate Picture Palace will put on a one-day Vampire Film Festival (15 October), featuring titles such as Fascination (1979), The Hunger (1983) and The Addiction (1995). The introduced programme, from film critics, academics, and horror aficionados, will explore themes ranging from class to sexuality and gender, addiction to socio-economic decay.
- In Brighton, Hove and Lewes, Fabrica’s Here There Be Monsters! wide-ranging programme will include a live score screening of Nosferatu (1922) by acclaimed harpist Elizabeth-Jane Baldry, special seasonal screenings, free screenings in partnership with One Bum Cinema Club, and more.
- In Clevedon, the Curzon will host an immersive screening of John Carpenter’s The Fog (1980) (4 November) in the historic 110-year-old cinema: projection mapping, ghostly apparitions and fog machines will expand the film from the screen into the audience’s space. A digital radio station will run live in the build up to and after the event, using broadcast samples from KAB Radio 1340 as heard in the movie.
- At Watershed (Bristol) Home is Where the Horror Is (3 December) will be an immersive all-nighter in partnership with Bristol Black Horror Club. Exploring how monstrous manifestations of site-specific horror allow us to explore identity, class, gender, sexuality, race, mental health, and bring the radical and political roots of horror to the form. The event will include screenings of Demons (1985), Near Dark (1987) and Tales from the Hood (1995).
- Multi-artform venue Exeter Phoenix will draw on its dark history as the last place in England where women were hung as witches, through a series of features, short films, immersive walks, live scores and zines. Four events will be delivered between October and December, including an immersive short film screening at Exeter Castle/Rougemont Gardens, and a celebration of “the Dark Lord” with a screening of Everything Is Terrible! The Great Satan (2017), in partnership with Spinning Path.
Encounters Film Festival in Bristol will curate a programme of contemporary, international shorts from their archive and annual call for entries, exploring the politicised body in horror and how the genre gives a voice to marginalised communities. After a launch event at the festival the shorts will be offered as a touring programme and for screenings before feature films taking part in this season. Additionally, Cinema For All will provide community cinemas nationwide with a menu of 17 horror titles from their booking scheme, via partners such as Eureka, Mubi and Altitude. The titles will be available at a reduced cost to attract bookers and help them take some programming chances on some more specialist titles.
The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) is also offering a menu of horror films for regional exhibitors looking to put on In Dreams Are Monsters themed screenings. The selection of titles will introduce audiences to the genre’s cinematic history and ability to explore radical ideas about monster archetypes including classic titles: Dog Soldiers (2002), The Fog (1980), Ganja & Hess (1973), Häxan (1922), The Blood on Satan’s Claw (1971), The Bloodettes (2005) and Night of the Living Dead (1968). Participating venues include Depot (Lewes), Prince Charles Cinema (London), Africa in Motion (Edinburgh, Glasgow), Broadway (Nottingham), Tyneside (Newcastle), Moana Art (Oxford), Queen’s Film Theatre (Belfast), Plymouth Arts Centre, and more.
The BFI will be releasing Ghost Stories for Christmas: Volume 1, a 3-disc Blu-ray box set collection from the much-requested classic BBC series, A Ghost Story for Christmas; on Blu-ray for the first time and remastered by the BFI from the original film materials. The selection of programmes from what was a popular fixture of the seasonal BBC schedule throughout the 1970s, are all based on classic short stories by writer MR James; his atmospheric settings and creeping unease are eerily realised in these seminal dramas that unleash evil spirits that will haunt and unnerve. The box set is released on 5 December, just in time for Christmas shopping!
To tie in with In Dreams Are Monsters Sight and Sound are publishing Sight and Sound presents The History of Horror Part 1 – Vampires, a bookazine on sale 15 September with a Ghosts-themed Part 2 bookazine planned for 15 December.
BFI Player will be hosting an extensive collection of films including Nosferatu (1922), Viy (1967), Kuroneko (1968), Ganja and Hess (1973), Rabid (1977), Suspiria (1977), Society (1989), Ringu (1998) Good Manners (2017) and more. BFI Player will also have titles available exclusively including White Zombie (1932) and Lord Shango (1975).
The BFI’s In Dreams Are Monsters will be in cinemas and venues across the UK from 17 October to 31 December 2022. It explores how horror has always been the genre of our times and the ways in which it speaks to us today by new voices in horror filmmaking, with a nationwide series of screenings and events, accompanied by a major horror collection on the BFI’s VOD service BFI Player, available to viewers across the UK plus a free collection of horror-themed titles to explore in venue at BFI Southbank’s Mediatheque.
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