The Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival aka HÕFF announces its full line-up of 27 feature-length and 15 short films, with a focus on horror from Flanders.
The festival opens with the international premiere of the post-apocalyptic, high school-themed Rock Steady Row that arrives straight from Slamdance Festival, where it won the best film and audience favourite awards. Other films that arrive after a successful run at international festivals includes the UK-produced Ghost Stories, the Venice-premiering documentary biopic of a cannibal Caniba, the critically acclaimed Austrian-German historic witch horror Hagazussa - Heathen’s Curse and the Vietnamese KFC that screened at Rotterdam.
Adding geographic spice to the selection is the European premiere of Evil Spirit, made in the blossoming small film industry of Yakutia, officially called the Sakha Republic (part of the Russian Federation), that has been of interest to several big festivals such as Berlin and Busan in recent years.
In focus: Flemish Horror
As a continuation of the Black Nights Film Festival’s (PÖFF) popular Flemish focus, HÕFF takes a look at the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium and its rich horror film tradition. The introduction to the focus comes in the form of the documentary Forgotten Scares: An In-depth Look at Flemish Horror Cinema, that was born out of a reaction: four years ago when the festival favourite Cub (also in HÕFF’s programme) by Jonas Govaerts was released, the local press called it the first Flemish horror film. This angered critic Steve De Roover so much that he made this documentary as a retort.
The film will be presented by the grand old man of Flemish horror Harry Kümel, whose 1971 vampire film Daughters of Darkness also screens at HÕFF. That film marked the local awakening of the horror industry and is still regarded as the most well-known Flemish genre film; the lead, a lesbian vampire, is played by the well-known actress and feminist Delphine Seyrig.
Other gems that will be screened in the programme are the gory B-category comedy/splatter Rabid Grannies (1988) and the widely hated (and equally loved) sexploitation/action flick Maniac Nurses Find Ecstasy (1990).
The festival’s freak programme is headed by the unofficial international premiere of the cult film Bat Pussy that has been dubbed as the world’ first anti-porno film and the worst pornographic film of all time. The films origins are shrouded in mystery with its production and initial release believed to date back to the beginning of the 1970’s. The film was discovered again in the 90’s and after digital restoration saw a limited release. It has gradually become part of the trash film gold fund.
The film in which a heroine named Bat Pussy tries to save Gotham City from falling into promiscuity is forbidden for under 18-year-olds. “It is a cult classic that will warm the hearts of all true freaks; it could also be called an erotic or anti-erotic version of The Room,” said the head of HÕFF’s programme Helmut Jänes.
Other picks in the freak programme include the European premiere of the Argentinian Malvineitor set during the Falkland’s war, the sequel to the popular Japanese neo-cyberpunk hit Kudoku: Meatball Machine 2, the mockumentary about the fictional Japanese action film superstar Top Knot Detective.
Haapsalu Horror and Fantasy Film Festival is organised by the team at the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival.
The 13th edition of HÕFF takes place between the 27th and 29th of April.