Abertoir Horror Festival and Festival Director Gaz Bailey, provide steam train ride to screening of Horror Express, on a train platform.
Bailey: Abertoir is Wales’ International Horror Festival– a six day event that covers classic films, brand new releases, guest Q & A’s, live theatre, live music, silent films with live accompaniment and presentations. It’s based in Aberystwyth on the west coast of Wales, hence the name Abertoir. As the director of the festival, my main aim is to ensure the audience has an event that’s affordable, varied, exciting and fun.
AudNews: How did the festival begin?
Bailey: The festival started in 2006 as the only horror festival in Wales. As a big fan of horror, and also a big fan of festivals, I found myself getting frustrated at the lack of genre events in Wales. As film programmer for a cinema here, I was in the position where I could effectively start my own. We managed to get director Robin Hardy for a screening of The Wicker Man and created three days of horror movies based around that, which was a massive success. Nine years on we’ve expanded to six days, feature plenty of premieres and guests and have become a much-loved international festival that retains its roots of being a festival run by fans, for fans.
Photo of Abertoir, courtesy of Melies.org.
AudNews: What are some of your favorite films from this year’s film festival?
Bailey: We’re big fans of Vincent Price over here, and we’re delighted to be opening the festival with a 3D version of House of Wax, which looks fantastic. We have a tradition of featuring a film starring Vincent, ever since the first event nine years ago.
While all the films we’re showing are great, I’m personally looking forward to watching What We Do in the Shadows with an audience, as it’s hilarious. On the other edge of the coin, we have the UK premiere of Takashi Miike’s film Over Your Dead Body, which is so dark, disturbing and creepy that it really got under my skin.
AudNews: What is unique and exciting about Abertoir?
Bailey: This year we’re doing something we’ve never attempted before, and that’s hiring a real steam train to give people a train journey and a screening of Horror Express on a train platform! Essentially this is just one aspect of what is unique and exciting about Abertoir: the variety. We look at the festival as not a selection of films, but a set menu. We go from classic to new, through talks, to music, to films, to theatre and back to film. We have developed a family atmosphere and our close atmosphere is rare in larger festivals, and it’s one of our strongest points: which is why people come back year after year.
AudNews: What films or festivals inspired you to get involved in with film festivals?
Bailey: Classic films are my personal favourite, especially the films of Vincent Price. Not many people know, but his wife Mary was Welsh, so it’s a nice touch that a festival such as ours has Vincent Price as our official Patron “Saint.”
AudNews: What is the most fulfilling part of working with Abertoir?
Bailey: For me, it’s seeing people enjoy themselves! They don’t need to worry about all the hard work that goes into it, as long as they have a great time and write nice things about us, it’s all worth it.
AudNews: Is there anything else you would like our audience to know about your festival?
Bailey: We’d love for people to know how affordable it is! We really put all of our funding into keeping the festival pass as low as possible (which is the equivalent of $90 for the entire six days). We’d like people to take a look at our schedule, see what we’re offering and read the many existing reviews online of the event. We make everyone feel extremely welcome and would absolutely love for more people to come and enjoy the festival, and then bring their friends the following year.
The second thing I’d like people to know about our festival is that it’s not a real abattoir [slaughterhouse]. We had a letter from the Welsh water board one year saying they were going to send inspectors to check our drainage.