Ghostly sightings

This spooky season there are endless screenings of horror films across the region

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Wrap up warm and beware the dark, the spookiest time of year is back (cue thunderclap). While it may not be a legal requirement to only watch scary films in October, it would be a shame if you didn’t – especially considering the sheer number of cinematic frights on offer. With that in mind, we’ve gathered together a few ghoulishly-good horror events and screenings that you can sink your teeth into this month – if you’re brave enough to read on.

Film4’s FilmFear returns to Manchester for Halloween (from 27 Oct, Home, and this year organisers have taken a slightly different approach to the festival, moving away from hardcore horror and gore and instead traversing more emotionally unsettling territory. The five-night stint opens with director Mark Jenkin’s Enys Men, a folk-horror tale about a female researcher living and working alone on a desolate island off the Cornish coast who is plagued by mysterious manifestations that cause her to doubt her own mind.

Other films include Jethica, about two women living in an isolated trailer in New Mexico who find themselves besieged by the ghost of a stalker, and the supernatural road movie Next Exit, a comedy-drama about two strangers sharing a rental car as they cross over into the afterlife. Among the classic films on offer is the totally bizarre Lair of the White Worm, directed by Ken Russell and based on a story by Bram Stoker, in which residents of a sleepy village in the Peak District begin to disappear when a mysterious skull is uncovered.

The BFI’s new horror season In Dreams Are Monsters (various venues, is delivering devilish gems to cinemas across the region. Highlights include a 100th-anniversary screening of Nosferatu at Chester’s Storyhouse (24 Oct). This silent classic marked the first, albeit unauthorised adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and this screening will be accompanied by a live score from Frame Ensemble. There’s also family-friendly frightener ParaNorman at Light cinemas in Sheffield, Bolton, Stockport and Bradford on 30 Oct and 40th birthday airings of Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper’s Poltergeist on 26 Oct and John Carpenter’s shape-shifting classic The Thing on Halloween itself at the same venues.

The Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield is also showing films as part of the BFI season including a rare 35mm double bill of Candyman and Hellraiser (29 Oct), both based on the work of writer Clive Barker. Adapted from Barker’s story The Forbidden, Candyman (1992) is the story of an urban legend that comes to life when a bloodthirsty spirit is summoned by saying his name three times in a mirror. Hellraiser, about a young woman who gets caught up in some grisly goings-on when she accidentally calls up demons via a puzzle box, is also based on Barker’s own novella and marks his directorial debut.

Dark Dukes (from 26 Oct, Dukes, Lancaster, is a new film festival which showcases an array of contemporary and classic horror films for both adults and families. Among the films on offer is Wendell and Wild from stop-motion animator Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) about devious demon brothers who have to face their arch-enemy with the help of a notorious demon-hunting nun and a teenage goth. There’s also a screening of the silent 1925 version of The Phantom of the Opera at Lancaster Priory, accompanied by live piano from Neil Brand. The film stars Lon Chaney as the crazed man without a face, who lives in the catacombs beneath the Paris Opera and who falls in love with the voice of a young opera singer.

What better place to get scared than inside a cave? Peak Cavern near Castleton has a pop-up cinema and is showing a number of films for the Halloween season including Wes Craven’s 1996 slasher satire Scream (27 Oct,, in which a group of high schoolers are menaced by a masked serial killer known as Ghostface. And on Halloween night itself they’re showing the utterly brilliant Poltergeist, in which a family’s dream home turns into their worst nightmare when evil spirits rise up and snatch their youngest daughter.

Manchester’s Chapeltown Picture House has crammed a load of scarily good content into its five-day Stab Film Season. Highlights include 1974’s Spanish-Italian sci-fi horror The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (27 Oct), in which a cop chases two hippies suspected of a series of Manson family-like murders, only to discover that the real culprits are in fact zombies.

Finally, a BBC hoax horror documentary that terrified the nation has been re-released for the cinema to celebrate its 30th anniversary. Ghostwatch (29 Oct, Pictureville, Bradford and other dates and venues) follows a team of TV presenters, including Michael Parkinson and Sarah Greene, as they perform a live broadcast from the “most haunted house in Britain” and find more than they ever bargained for. This screening includes an introduction, Q&A with director Lesley Manning and a panel discussion after the film.

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