In November we celebrated film and television’s ability to reveal our darkest desires and conjure the creatures of the night into being.
Northern Ireland prepared for an unprecedented GOTHIC assault on the senses, with the Belfast Film Festival Haunted Screen, a series of site-specific screenings in some of Northern Ireland’s most eerie and unsettling locations. This programme offered audiences the opportunity to watch classic horror films in locations which mirror the setting in the movies; haunted castles, unsettling stately manors and houses in the woods. We know that the films and the locations chosen will stir your gothic imagination.
On 19 November we took a look back at an iconic enigmatic character with Fisher’s bloodily beautiful reworking of Dracula (1958) at the suitably spooky Harbour Commissioners Office, Hammer films’ archivist Robert J.E. Simpson was on hand to introduce the screening . Maligned and misunderstood by critics on first release, Fisher’s Dracula has grown in reputation over the decades and is widely regarded as the definitive film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s novel.
On 21 November we had Hitchcock at Hillsborough Castle, as we transformed the Historic building into Manderley Mansion for the Oscar winning Classic, Rebecca (1940). Romantic, suspenseful and elegant, the film told the story of a young bride (Joan Fontaine) who’s new home is tormented by the memory of Rebecca her husband’s dead first wife.
Next up we were in Ballywalter Park, home to one of Northern Ireland’s greatest remaining stately homes for Jacques Tourneur’s, spooky tale of witchcraft in modern Britain, Night of the Demon (1957), and a screening of Orson Welles’s Ghost Story (1951).
On 30 November audiences were invited to join us in the darkness for a special event screening of The Innocents (1961) and House on the Haunted Hill (1959). The event took place at Lissan House nestled in the dark forest outside Cookstown which, built in the 17th century and thought to be haunted by many of its previous owners, was the perfect setting to show these films.
As a Christmas treat in the late 1960s and 70s, the BBC produced adaptations of ghost stories to terrified viewers. In the dead of winter, we teamed up with the Dungannon Film Club to revive this tradition for a special Christmas double bill of Whistle and I’ll Come to You (1968) and The Ash Tree (1975) at Narrow Water Castle.